Posts Tagged ‘France’

Mea Culpa

February 3, 2017

Waking The Dragon sincerely apologizes for the unprecedented accuracy of its feng-shui predictions (thus far) in the Year of the Fowl.  As always, the key to “successful” feng-shui prognostication is the preemptive construction of vague, broad, wide-ranging and sweeping statements about possible future events in every corner of the globe.  That way, at least a few “predictions” are almost certain to “come true,” permitting the soothsayer to take credit for being correct.  But still: this is way, way outta control.  Let’s review:

Fowl “Self-Penalty”

Wife’s TV clip poses new problems for France’s Fillon

 

Rabbits in clash with the Fowl

 

The East Under Tai Sui’s Glowering Gaze

 

Discredit Where It’s Due

Back in the day (a half-decade ago), I jokingly claimed that Waking the Dragon had somehow become “an uncompensated, unacknowledged strategic brand advisor to the Russian Federation.”  I made that quip after (at least) two instances in which my blogposts were followed by the eerie echoes of subsequent events in the wild, weird world of neo-Soviet Russia.  Somewhat more recently, I indulged in extended musing on the ways in which literary narrative can shape adversary intent … and how intelligence agencies can thus gain greater insight into the minds of their foes.  Little did I realize that an unintended audience was paying more attention than the intended one, and that –in some ways– I may have been ghostwriting a few chapters of the game plan for a truly improbable presidential campaign.  Truly ironic, given the theme of that post.

Therefore, although I’m continuing to organize and refine my thoughts concerning the cultural implications of narrative form and its uses in shaping mass opinion, the Neighbors are going to have to work quite a bit harder to learn my conclusions.  It won’t be handed to them on an earthenware platter labelled “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread.

Out.

 

Fowl Bawl

January 29, 2017

My previous post introduced some of the salient feng-shui characteristics of the Year of the Fowl and mentioned a few top-of-the-mind/out-of-the hat forecasts offered by self-styled feng-shui specialists who regularly opine on such matters.  Now it’s amateur hour, time for my own outlandish predictions on what may lie ahead in the Year of the Yin Fire Fowl.

Last time I focused the bulk of my remarks on the various misfortunes likely to be caused by clashes between the annual Celestial Stem and this year’s Earthly Branch.  However, friction between various members of the Earthly Branches also causes upheaval every year.  2017 will pose special problems for two particular animals in the Chinese zodiac, the Rabbit and the Fowl itself.  This is because the Rabbit is in direct clash with (Fowl) year, and the Fowl is said to be in “self-penalty” during its 12-month service as the year’s Earthly Branch.

Tai Sui, the Grand Duke of Heaven (arbiter of celestial justice), is partly responsible for this situation. During the Year of the Fowl, he takes up residence in the Fowl’s sector of the Heavens: the West.  Thus he’s keeping a very close eye on any and all transgressive or non-harmonious developments that may occur there.  The Fowl will be held responsible and called to account.  At the same time, from his celestial throne, Tai Sui is gazing directly across the Heavens toward the East, where the Rabbit resides.  A similar dynamic is at work in the East: merely by facing the Grand Duke, the Rabbit is looking for trouble and is likely to find plenty of it.

So what might be the likely ramifications here on earth during 2017?  Old-school feng-shui seers tend to emphasize the fate of particular well-known celebrities who were born in prior Fowl or Rabbit years, but I prefer to cast a wider net by looking at entire groups in jeopardy rather than just a few individuals.  So, first and foremost, organizations that use a Fowl or a Rabbit as their emblem can expect the unexpected in 2017.  Ordinarily we might first think of business entities or sports teams as the principal vectors of risk, and they’re certainly in the mix this year.  However, while it’s always good to think big, in 2017 it’s better to think even bigger:  not just major corporations, but entire nations under Tai Sui’s scrutiny.  Which ones?  For starters, two perennial woe-magnets  –France and Israel.

France is the obvious case, since their national emblem is the Rooster, which appears on the logo of their Olympic national teams and –in a different form– for the national rugby team as well.

fr_logos

The pending French presidential election of 2017 has already exacerbated tremendous social tensions in the country, so establishment (i.e., maçonique) candidates from the traditional parties of the left and right have been facing a disenchanted and hostile electorate that doesn’t much care for the far-right/nationalist/populist alternative either.  For the right-wing Republicains, things just recently went from terrible to worse: their candidate, former Prime Minister François Fillon, has (allegedly) been carrying his wife as a no-show employee on the parliamentary payroll and may have to withdraw from the campaign. (As a matter of egalité, French law doesn’t permit officials to hire their mistresses either.)  His principal virtue as a candidate has been that he isn’t Marine Le Pen, but that probably won’t be enough.  The only good news for French citoyens is that the election will occur in late April and early May during the Snake (yin Fire) month. But first they have to survive the Rabbit month … in March.

As long as we’re speaking of the Rabbit, let’s consider the topic of the second nation in jeopardy this year: Israel.  Why is the Rabbit an unacknowledged emblem of Israel?  Admittedly, this feng-shui association may seem applicable only in the English language (mother tongue of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) … but you can’t spell the word Rabbit without “Rabbi.”  Bah-dum-bump! [rimshot sound effect]

rabbi_5

But seriously, folks: every year is a bad year for Bibi-land.  Netanyahu is being questioned yet again in a corruption scandal –is this for the third time? Fourth?  Likud thinks they have Donald Trump in their pocket and have an inside track to Putin, but they’ve completely alienated the rest of the world and are now more of a pariah apartheid state than ever.  The Israeli economy relies heavily on outside investment and laundered money from organized criminal activities around the world, so even partial consumer boycotts of Israeli products in global markets are beginning to sting.  And in a yin Fire year we shouldn’t expect much soothing rain on the Galilee Plain –or anywhere else in Palestine.

Here’s what the usual feng-shui suspects are predicting for the Rabbit this year:

  • The animal sign Rabbit clashes with the year of Yin Fire Rooster. Clash means confrontation with others. [Meh \_^^_/: same old, same old.]
  • The Rooster is in clash against the Rabbit.  This is yin Metal cutting into yin Wood, which is manifested as stabbing with a knife [if you catch my drift], risky surgical operations, or injuries to the backbone and neck.
  • It is a traveling year for the Rabbit, who should avoid going to the West (the Tai Sui) direction, which will increase the intensity of the clash for Rabbit.
  • Rabbits must control themseves and be calm or their work will bring them distress.
  • Both Rooster and Rabbit are “Peach Blossom” animals, so their clash can manifest as serious sex scandals. [for an Onion-esque perspective, see here]
  • Rabbits should avoid risky sports such as auto racing, piloting aircraft, scubadiving, or parachuting. [So attacking Iran is definitely out this year.]
  • In March 2017 the yin Water Rabbit month is in total clash against the yin Fire Fowl year, with Flying Star 5 in the South sector.  In this direct clash between Fire and Water, we can expect fire disasters and explosions, heart attacks and strokes.

Apart from France and Israel, there are other nations which are also likely to experience difficulty because their national emblems are rabbit-like or fowl-like.  Here are a few:

  • Australia: the kangaroo … looks like a rabbit to a drunken Aussie.
  • Malta: the Pharoah hound, Kelb tal-Fenek, means “Rabbit dog” in Maltese.
  • Monaco: one of its three national animals is the European rabbit.
  • Wales: its official emblem is the dragon, but it’s known for the March hare … and Welsh rabbit.
  • Denmark: swan
  • Finland: swan
  • Israel: the hoopoe
  • Japan: pheasant
  • Lithuania: stork
  • Mauritius: the dodo, an extinct fowl.  Not a good choice for 2017.
  • Iraq & Pakistan: chukar partridge
  • New Zealand: kiwi

Profit Prophecies

A bit closer to home, the Fowl’s self-penalty can be expected to cause bottom-line problems for major corporations that use a Fowl image as part of their logo … or operate in the poultry business. For example:

 

seeing more red in 2017.

… seeing more red in 2017.

 

the Colonel's military rank emblem is also a bird

the Colonel’s military rank emblem is also a bird

 

 a French word meaning "lost"

a French word meaning “lost”

 

tyson

butterball_

will the brand still be cool in 2017?

will the brand still be cool in 2017?

 

paper sales in a Fire year may be "stationary."

paper sales in a Fire year may be “stationary.”

 

Here are just a few rabbits to round out the threat picture for 2017:

 

the original "Peach Blossom" brand.

the original “Peach Blossom” brand.

 

Volkswagen can't outrun trouble this year, either.

Volkswagen can’t outrun trouble this year, either.

 

qantas

 

o-hare

u_ft_hare

rainbow_hare

… will the skein run out for Rainbow Hare?

 

... things may not be smooth as silk in 2017.

… things may not be smooth as silk in 2017.

 

... profits may be more of a red hare-ing.

… profits may be more of a red hare-ing.

Sancerre

April 8, 2016

Emmanuel Macron –the gift that keeps on giving.  Not content with being the most powerful man in China, M. le Ministre has decided to conquer all tripartite Gaul as well.

French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron has set up his own political movement, saying he wants to find “new ideas” for France. Macron, 38, announced the creation of “En Marche” (“On the Move”) in Amiens, portraying the movement as a think-tank that would listen to ideas from other parties of the right and left — providing they held “republican” ideals, a euphemism often used to exclude the far-right National Front (FN).

“I’m in a left-wing government, unashamedly, … but I also want to work with people from the right, who commit to the same values.  This ambition, it’s radical, it’s a bit crazy, but there is such an energy in the country.  I see all the things I don’t manage to get done, all the things that are blocked, and this movement is [intended] to get beyond these [obstacles].”

demi-fenetre-elysee

You may be especially interested to learn that …

A macron is a diacritical mark, a straight bar ( ¯ ) placed above a letter, usually a vowel.  Its name derives from the Greek μακρόν (makrón), meaning “long”, and it [usually] marks a long vowel.

Of course, when dealing with the French language, it’s always important to remember the significance of diacritical marks –those little typographic addenda which ornament various vowels and consonants.  The ones most commonly used in French are the accent grave, the accent aigu, the circumflex, and the cédille (which itself contains an accent aigu).  The cédille transforms pronunciation of the letter ‘c’ into an ‘s’ sound (as in François), while the accent aigu changes pronunciation of the letter ‘e’ into an ‘ay’ sound (hay is for horses).

So what happens when we add un petit accent aigu to the final letter of M. Macron’s movement En Marche?  We get the phrase En Marché.  And although a strictly literal translation of en marché into English would be rendered as “in the market,” a more colloquial formulation might instead be “up for sale” or perhaps “looking to deal.”

Former RPR prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said this week he could even imagine Macron as premier under a center-right president such as Alain Juppé, who is currently leading opinion polls ahead of the 2017 presidential election. “The best prime minister for a president from the moderate right would be Emmanuel Macron,” Raffarin said.

Bearing this in mind, what happens when we playfully pivot the letter ‘r’ in M. Macron’s surname clockwise 180 degrees?  It becomes une cédille positioned below the preceding letter ‘c’ –thus giving us … un maçon.

Macron_1

Hence the primary question remaining open:  is Macron affiliated with GLF, GLNF, or GOF?

 

Don’t Embarrass The Bureau

January 26, 2016

J. Edgar Hoover had two principal mottos pronounced as guides for his FBI special agents: “No left turns” and “Don’t embarrass the Bureau.”  In Comrade Eleven‘s newly-renovated People’s Republic, left turns are once again mandatory, but Hoover’s second motto is still fully applicable.  And when the public embarrassment occurs under an intense media spotlight on the world stage, suddenly French economy minister Emmanuel Macron is the most powerful person in China.

Last week at Davos (Switzerland) M. le Ministre Macron impishly remarked,

“I said a few months ago that I don’t believe for a second the figures [for China’s economic growth] that are being given.  I think those [figures] that are still being officially announced are probably well above the [actual] reality but we just have to live with it,” Macron said.

the latest pretty face of imperialist running-dog capitalism?

the latest pretty face of imperialist running-dog capitalism?

After a weekend of earnest reflection and self-criticism among senior cadres in Beijing … Lo and behold:

China’s anti-graft agency –the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection– announced on Tuesday that Wang Baoan, the head of the country’s National Bureau of Statistics, is being investigated for severe disciplinary violations, a phrase which usually refers to corruption.  Wang, 52, was appointed chief of the statistics bureau in April last year.  He previously served as vice minister of finance.

The lesson to be learned?  Don’t embarrass the National Bureau of Statistics.

 

FourPlay

July 3, 2014

July Fourth:  twelve-score years ago or so, Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley was at the center of attention in the English-speaking world.  This year, not so much. Instead, American eyes turn to the Deep South –the very Deep South– to Fortaleza (Brazil) and points far beyond.

That’s right, it’s time for the 2014 World Cup quarter finals.  Only half of the eight teams predicted by Goldman Sachs analysts have actually made it to this stage of the tournament: Argentina, Brazil, France and Germany.  The investment bankers pick Argentina, Brazil, and Germany to advance to the semis –so do many other “experts.”  Lunghu ain’t quite so sure the script won’t be subject to some last minute revisions.

Here’s one pundit’s picks:

  • Germany 1-0 over France
  • Colombia 3-2 over Brazil
  • Argentina 2-1 over Belgium
  • Netherlands 2-0 over Costa Rica

Paddy Power punters prefer:

Lunghu doesn’t know enough about the teams, referees, and climate to predict final scores, but he’s going to stick his neck out and predict some (unlikely?) winners:

les Bleus

New Granada

no default of their own

tico-power

 

July 4th Update:

PaddyPower gamblers: 1, Lunghu: 0

 

July 5th Update:

PaddyPower gamblers: 1, Lunghu: 1      Lunghu is out of the tournament, having lost the penalty-kick shootout.

 

Poverty As A Parable

March 31, 2014

For reasons that may as well remain obscure, Lunghu was recently reading a slapdash historical survey of seventeenth-century Europe.  Amid stories of court intrigues, dynastic struggles, religious wars and outsized egotism, an allegorial folk tale appeared:

One day long ago, two travelers appeared in front of Poverty’s miserable hovel in the countryside.  Custom of the age required that he provide his visitors with hospitality and refreshment, so from his threadbare larder Poverty scraped together a scanty meal of bread, cheese, fruit and a little wine.  The travelers accepted gratefully, and soon completed their repast.

Humble_hut

When they had finished eating, the two guests apologized to their host, explaining that they had no money to pay for the meal, but would grant any favor he might ask.  Little suspecting that his lunch companions were actually Saints Peter and Paul in disguise, Poverty modestly asked that anyone climbing his pear tree should be obliged to remain there so long as he, the owner, pleased.  This wish was granted, and the travelers proceeded on their way.

Not long thereafter, Poverty was able to catch some of his dishonest neighbors trapped among the limbs of the pear tree, but he released each of them with a warning to sin no more.  (Although none admitted his attempted theft, word quickly got around the neighborhood.)

At last Death appeared in person, intent on carrying Poverty to the grave.  The quick-witted peasant promised to come quietly … if only he was permitted to taste one last sweet fruit from the highest bough of the pear tree.  Death obligingly climbed to the top of the tree to pick the desired morsel, only to find that he was unable to descend.  With time a-wasting and millions more souls yet to be carried to their Maker, Death was forced to strike a bargain:  if released from the tree, he would not come again for his captor until Judgement Day.

Thus it is that Poverty will be among us until the end.

In its original formulation, this parable no doubt assisted the higher orders in rationalizing their thoroughly systematic exploitation of the lowly peasant, thus permitting noble, clergy and bourgeois to salve their consciences with the consolation that inequality and suffering has always been divinely ordained.  Modern folk have more or less dispensed with the need for any celestial explanation for poverty: they prefer rationalization to have a pseudo-scientific basis –in which the poor are poor because of their own deficiencies, genetic or otherwise.  But Lunghu isn’t sharing this story merely to observe that “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”  Nope, he’s announcing that he’s hungry, and that a succulent, ripe pear sure sounds delicious right about now.  Fortunately, there are no pear trees in the neighborhood, and in any case it’s much too early in the season.  A grocery pear will have to suffice.

In ancient China, peaches were the fruits that promised immortality.   In France, apparently, it’s pears.  As far as Lunghu is concerned, dou ke yi –both are good.

 

Trunk Line

September 10, 2013

An elephant never forgets … and holds a grudge, apparently:

An 84-year-old man was killed in Lizy-sur-Ourcq near Paris when an elephant belonging to a local circus escaped from its pen and hit him with its trunk, police said. The elephant grabbed a tarpaulin and placed it over the electric fence surrounding its pen, before breaking through barriers and trailers that formed a second enclosure.  The elephant then moved toward the elderly man and struck him with its trunk, slamming him to the ground. The unidentified man was taken to a nearby hospital but died from his injuries overnight Sunday.

Trunk_line

En francais:

Un retraité de 84 ans participe à un concours de pétanque sur la place de la république, à Lizy-sur-Ourcq. ‘Tanya’ a jeté une bâche sur les fils électriques avant de s’échapper. C’est là qu’elle s’est dirigée vers les boulistes. L’animal a alors asséné un coup de trompe à la victime. Souffrant d’un traumatisme thoracique et d’une fracture à la jambe et malgré le fait que le retraité ait été héliporté rapidement vers l’hôpital du Kremlin-Bicêtre (Val-de-Marne), il est décédé pendant la nuit.

At its most prosaic, this could be a cautionary tale about disturbing an elephant’s slumber with the low-frequency clank and clatter of pétanque. But it also seems as though there could be a backstory worthy of Georges Perec hidden somewhere here.  But we’ll probably never know.  Three key questions come to mind: how old was the elephant?  And had she originally roamed free in the forests of what used to be French Indochina? Had victim and pepetrator met previously?

Lizy-sur-Ourcq

But this story has even stranger dimensions, ones that take the form of ‘unusual coincidences’. Lizy-sur-Ourcq isn’t just some sleepy rural commune on the fringes of Paris:  it’s the final resting place of France’s pioneering circus dynasty.

La cimetière de Lizy-sur-Ourcq regroupant de nombreuses tombes des gens du cirque, dont une grande nécropole rom, celle de Bouglione. … Les Bouglione, roms Sintis de la branche pakistanaise, sont montreurs d’ours au XVIIIe siècle en Italie.”

At the turn of the 20th Century, after generations of the Bouglione clan had plied their trade throughout Europe as itinerant exhibitors of trained bears, an enterprising scion of the family spotted posters for Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show in a French railway car.  He decided to adopt (copy) the concept, and France’s first circus was born.  The rest is histoire.

Lizy-sur-Ourcq_Cimetiere

So: a cluster of gypsy circus spirits haunting the environs of Lizy-sur-Ourcq. Steer clear. Arouse them at your peril.

Inauguration Ball

May 6, 2012

Out with the old, in with the new.  May 6 was Election Day in France, and Inauguration Day in Russia.  The French replaced the GLNF (Sarkozy) with the GLF (Hollande).  Plus ça change

The Russians replaced Comrade Bearcub with … Comrade Bear.  And, in one of his final acts as President, Dimitry Medvedev replaced the commander of the Russian Navy, Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky, with a (slightly) younger man:

President Dmitry Medvedev has dismissed Russian Navy Commander Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky and appointed Vice-Admiral Viktor Chirkov for the position, the Kremlin press office reported on Sunday, without explaining the reasons for the dismissal.
Chirkov, 52, was commander of the Baltic Fleet before his appointment.  Vysotsky, 57, had occupied the top military post for almost five years.

Igor Korotchenko, chairman of the Defense Ministry’s Public Council said that the reshuffle was a normal practice for military officials.  “Medvedev’s move will open the way for new, younger military specialists,” Korotchenko said.

credit: Vasily Batanov

 

Only three months ago, Admiral Vysotsky was publicly touting big plans for Russia’s submarine fleet:

  • “On June 1 or a bit later we will resume routine extended patrolling of the world’s oceans by strategic nuclear submarines,” Admiral Vysotsky said at a meeting with naval personnel on 3 Feb.  The Russian military believes that the submarine fleet is still the backbone of the Russian Navy, and that it will continue to play an important deterrent role in the future.
  • Sevmash shipyard [in Severodvinsk] is to convert the nuclear submarine Belgorod for a “series of special missions,” said Admiral Vysotsky [on 9 Feb.].  “Belgorod will be completed as a special project.  The boat will have many special tasks ahead of it,” Vysotsky said.

Admiral Chirkov [you may be more familiar with his brother Yuri] is singing from a slightly different hymnal:

After his appointment, Chirkov said he would prioritize the construction of navy fleets in Russia. “The most important thing for Russia is to build a fleet with the support of the president and like-minded persons,” Chirkov stated.

And who might those ‘like-minded persons’ be?  In Comrade Bear’s new Russia, that could be almost anyone and everyone.

In any case, Lunghu doesn’t see this as merely another internal bureaucratic naval battle between the Silent Service (Vysotsky) and the Tincan Sailors (Chirkov).  Was a blue Honda somehow involved?

 

TIZ the Season

December 18, 2011

In the nominally Christian continents of Europe and the Americas, it’s officially supposed to be the season of benevolence, bonhomie, and general good cheer.   In the judicial system of the United States, it’s (unofficially) customary to defer the sentencing of a certain class of convicted criminals until after the New Year so that the newly-minted felons can enjoy(?) one last holiday as freemasons men.  Why, even convicted terror supporter Viktor Bout has had his sentencing deferred until early February.

Former Fannie Mae CEO Daniel Mudd and former Freddie Mac CEO Richard Syron have been handed a Christmas gift of a slightly different sort: the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission have charged them with civil fraud [rather than criminal charges] for their material misrepresentations of Fannie and Freddie’s subprime mortgage risk exposure in the previous decade.

patriotism: last refuge of a scoundrel

  • Fannie Mae told investors in 2007 that it had roughly $4.8 billion worth of subprime loans on its books, or just 0.2 percent of its portfolio.  That same year, Mudd told two congressional panels that Fannie’s subprime loans represented didn’t exceed 2.5 percent of its business.  The SEC says Fannie actually had about $43 billion worth of products targeted to borrowers with weak credit, or 11 percent of its holdings.
  • Freddie Mac told investors in late 2006 that it held between $2 billion and $6 billion of subprime mortgages on its books.  And Syron, in a 2007 speech, said Freddie had “basically no subprime exposure,” according to the suit.  The SEC says its holdings were actually closer to $141 billion, or 10 percent of its portfolio in 2006, and $244 billion, or 14 percent, by 2008.   Syron also authorized particularly risky mortgages for borrowers without proof of income or assets [aka ‘liar loans’] as early as 2004, the suit alleges, “despite contrary advice” from Freddie’s credit-risk experts. He rejected their advice.

The feds usually don’t go to trial unless they think they have the proverbial open-and-shut case, and in a civil process the plaintiff’s burden of proof is only ‘preponderance of the evidence’ rather than the standard of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ that must be satisfied in a criminal trial.  However, the real take-home lesson to be drawn from the SEC’s announcement is that Barack Obama needs some mortgage-crisis fall guys in his reelection year, and Messers. Syron, Mudd et al. fit the bill all too perfectly.  Unfortunately, these members of the mystic brotherhood really don’t face much worse than a vigorous wrist-slapping, because …

Based on the outcomes of similar cases, the lawsuit might not yield much in penalties against the former executives.  Fines against executives charged in SEC civil cases can reach up to $150,000 per violation.  SEC Chairwoman Mary Schapiro has asked Congress to raise the limit to $1 million [Lunghu would be astounded if Republicans actually oblige her].

Robert Mintz, a white-collar defense attorney says he doubts any top Wall Street executives will face criminal charges for actions that hastened the financial crisis, given how much time has passed.

  • Mudd was paid more than $10 million in salary and bonuses in 2007, according to company statements. He was fired from Fannie after the government took over. He’s now the chief executive of the New York hedge fund Fortress Investment Group.
  • Syron made more than $18 million in 2007, according to company statements.  His compensation increased $4 million from 2006 because of bonuses he received —-part of them for encouraging risky subprime lending, according to company filings.  Syron resigned from Freddie in 2008. He’s now an adjunct professor and trustee at Boston College.

Yep, justice delayed is definitely justice denied.  Just ask the people of Paris (well, some of them):

On Thursday, a French court found former French president Jacques Chirac guilty of misusing public funds and abusing public confidence when he served as mayor of Paris in the 1990s.  Chirac received a two-year suspended sentence.  It is the first time a former French head of state has been convicted since Marshal Philippe Petain, leader of France’s wartime Vichy regime, was found guilty of collaborating with the Nazis.

Chirac enjoyed immunity from prosecution when he served as member of the National Assembly and President, but those patient, pesky French magistrates just waited him out of office.  Anglophone Africa was watching and taking note:

Commenting on Chirac’s conviction, Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) executive director Goodwell Lungu [No relation to your humble correspondent.  Really!] said that leaving office peacefully does not nullify a former leader’s misdeeds.
“We feel that it sends the right signal at the right time.  In the Zambian scenario, the former leadership, especially MMD –particularly Mr. Rupiah Banda– should be able to learn that whatever wrong he might have done to this country and no matter how long [he evades justice], time might catch up with him,” Lungu said.
“This is why we continue calling on former and current leaders to live exemplary lives.  And if they [betray the public trust] and the law catches up with them, they should not [claim] that they are being persecuted.  It simply means that their own past behavior is both catching up with them and persecuting them; so they should face reality,” said Lungu.

“It’s a very good lesson what has happened and the local leadership, both the current leaders, the PF and in particular the MMD leadership should seriously reflect on that.”

That’s tellin’ it like it TIZ.   If only Lunghu could be as hopeful about the United States ‘justice’ system.

Wheel men

June 23, 2011

Just over a week to go until the start of the 2011 Tour de France.   Next Thursday, competing teams will be introduced to the press at Le Puy du Fou.   The official start of the 98th edition of the TdF will take place on 2 Juillet at the Passage du Gois in the Vendée.

Linking the continent to the island of Noirmoutier and measuring 4.5 km in length, the Passage du Gois is a submersible road covered twice daily at high tide, but which remains fully accessible at low tide.

One cyclist you won’t see slogging through the mire is Comrade Bear.  Although he’s in Paris today for the air show and talks (or at least photo ops) with Fillon and Sarkozy, he won’t be sticking around for the TdF.  The prime minister had his fill of cycling back home near Moscow two weekends ago –in the company of Dimi Medvedev.  The photo below shows #1 and #2 reflecting on their experience and sharing a quiet moment.

There seem to be indications that Comrade Bear wasn’t all that thrilled about having to pose for this recent photo shoot:  note the way the fingers of Putin’s right hand just happen to be casually arranged.  Lunghu’s gonna have to double-check his international sign language dictionary to be sure of an accurate translation, but you probably get the general idea.