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An Irreproachable Republic

by afew Sat Oct 1st, 2011 at 05:52:10 AM EST

So you really want to understand the seemingly endless flow of scandals, affairs, accusations, prosecutions, libel suits, counter-accusations and yet more scandals currently to be seen in French politics? You want to know what Bourgi has to do with Bettencourt has to do with Villepin has to do with Takieddine has to do with senile Chirac has to do with Karachi has to do with Juppé has to do with Clearstream has to do with Prévost-Desprez has to do with Helen of Yugoslavia has to do with Bazire the Bizare has to do with Tibéri, Sarkozy, Pasqua, Copé, Courroye (continue ad lib)..?

You do?

<sigh> Well... The presidential elections, around which French politics revolves, are coming up, so there are lots of stink bombs, banana skins, smoke screens, and firecrackers vying for media attention.

Not enough?

But it happens to be true. Just as it's true this is mostly about election campaign funding sleaze and a brown envelope / document case tradition on the right, for whom the constitution of the Sith Republic was written ("Sith" (sic), should be 5th) in 1958, and who therefore consider they're at home in power and can do as they like.

That's all very well, I hear some of you (no names) grumble, but we want the skinny, the lowdown, the dirt. OK, but don't blame me if you understand even less of it at the end than before you started. So now let's go back to the 1960s. (You asked for it).


Barely more than ten years after the new constitution that was tailor-made for him, Papa De Gaulle is thrown out by a combination of near-revolution and a lost referendum. His political movement, rightwards-tending populist and dirigiste, holds on to power as Georges Pompidou becomes president. But Pompidou is sick and dies in 1974. Jacques Chirac wins the ensuing struggle for the leadership of the Gaullist movement, but meanwhile the leader of the other strain of the right, Giscard d'Estaing, is elected president. The "other strain of the right" is called Centrist, but could just as well be called Rightist: elitist in style, liberal and even ultra-liberal in economics, it acts as a laundry for 1960s extreme-right hotheads who wash their black shirts white while retaining their economic libertarianism (some of them are in government today). So now, under Giscard, the "Centrists" seem to have got the edge on the Gaullists. These two rival strands of French conservatism are led by relatively young politicians who can't stand each other: Chirac and Giscard. However, the two strands vote together, and Chirac is Prime Minister for the first two years of Giscard's mandate, before resigning.

And taking up almost immediately the newly-created function of Mayor of Paris. The Hôtel de Ville of Paris is a high-profile base from which to consolidate Chirac's own new Gaullist party, the RPR, compete with Giscard, and ultimately spring off to the Elysée. Chirac will be Mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1994 (Irony: the 1975 Paris local government reform that gave him the opportunity was decentralising and Giscardian - Chirac was Jacobinly opposed to it, but lost out even though Prime Minister).

Paris Town Hall as a springboard took longer than Chirac expected (he lost to Giscard in the first round in 1981, and in the second round to Mitterand in 1988), but he eventually made it in 1995. Meanwhile, the Town Hall was run Tammany Hall style. This gave rise later to a series of scandals and prosecutions concerning embezzlement of public funds, fake employment (party cadres paid by the Town Hall), brown-envelope kickbacks on housing and public works contracts, patronage abuses such as distributing sweet-deal housing to buddies, voter list cheating, etc. Everything was done to string these cases out, make sure there were no witnesses or surviving evidence, pressure the examining magistrates, play for time. Cases had to be dropped when there was insufficient evidence to prosecute. Chirac himself got a Get Out Of Jail card (immunity from prosecution) by being elected President of the Republic in 1995. But his former Number Two at the Town Hall, Alain Juppé, was sentenced to fourteen months (suspended) in 2004, and had to "leave politics". Well, for a time, spent in Canada. And Chirac's faithful Jean Tibéri, who followed on as mayor, is still going through the motions of pretending to submit to the injunctions of the courts of justice - sentenced to ten months (suspended) for electoral fraud, he was up before a court on appeal this week for a quarter of an hour while his lawyers obstructed by raising questions of constitutional law that need to be examined by a superior court (Cassation), putting off his appeal hearing until next year, by which time there'll be more obstruction or he will be dying or have lost his marbles.

Chirac himself, his presidential immunity ended, played similar obstruction games in the only prosecution left standing against him, for using the Town Hall to pay RPR party workers in fake jobs. And when the obstruction could go no further, out came the "poor sick old man" victimisation card. No memory left. Too weak to be present in court. And the public prosecutor and judge very understanding about it. Don't expect Chirac to pay for his sleaze. Those who dedicated themselves over the years (like examining magistrate Eric Halphen) to demonstrating that all were equal before the law, got nowhere.

So Chirac's abuse of his position as Mayor of Paris is one of the arcs, going back to the '70s, of this story still playing out in the courts and media today. The fact that it took him so long to leap off the Town Hall springboard to the Elysée Palace (stymied twice by the incumbent, Giscard in 1981, Mitterand in 1988) led to added complications aka rivalry. With Giscard increasingly sidelined and the Centrists without a clear leader, the field was open for a candidate who could hope to bring together the two strands of the right. Edouard Balladur, former Pompidou aide and Gaullist, has also worked in the private sector, is an economic liberal, and garners Centrist support. Power-sharing (and economic-reforming) Prime Minister under Mitterand from 1993 (while Chirac prepares his presidential campaign for 1995), Balladur reneges on his gentleman's agreement with his party leader and "thirty years friend", and runs against him. And the young protégé in a position of trust (Budget Minister, something like Treasury Secretary) who really twists the knife in Chirac's back by actively supporting Balladur's campaign, is Nicolas Sarkozy.

This sets the scene for scandals that are still unfolding ie being leaked. The long Chirac/Giscard rivalry is replaced by a long Sarkozy/Chirac rivalry, where the action now takes place.

First act: how can Balladur finance his presidential campaign? It is said (notably by Roland Dumas, the then chair of the Constitutional Council, which audits campaign accounts, and has his own sleaze background) that Balladur's accounts featured surprising and unexplained sums. It is further alleged that the Balladur campaign siphoned money from kickbacks that had been promised to unnamed agent or agents in Pakistan pursuant to the sale of submarines to that country. Nicolas Sarkozy, though active in Balladur's campaign, was not running it - he was only Budget Minister at the time, y'understand. Nevertheless, two very good friends of Sarkozy were involved: Nicolas Bazire (best man at the Sarko-Carla Bruni wedding), another private/public revolving door specialist, was Balladur's prime ministerial chief of staff and then ran his campaign. Thierry Gaubert, Sarkozy aide from the '80s when Sarko was Mayor of Neuilly (as mayor, Sarko pronounced the civil marriage of Gaubert and Helen of Yugoslavia at Neuilly Town Hall in 1988), was at the time of the Balladur campaign assistant chief of staff to Sarkozy at Budget.

When Chirac won the presidential election and at last moved up to the Elysée, these "commissions", or what was left to pay of them, were in any case halted. A bomb attack in Karachi in 2002 that killed 14 people including 11 French naval technicians working on the submarines, is said to have been motivated by the pissed-offness of those who didn't get the kickbacks they expected. This is a serious affair, and Balladur and Chirac would each prefer that attention be directed to the other as to responsibility. Of course, officially, the main excuse waved around is Islamism, though no evidence has been found for that. The recent allegations concerning Bazire and Gaubert (Helen of Yugoslavia, now separated from Gaubert (Neuilly marriages never last), having abundantly grassed on her husband's trips to Switzerland and his returns with bulging suitcases) have led, this month, to their prosecution, to be processed by big-time examining magistrate Renaud Van Ruymbeke. Another name in the news with regard to the Karachi affair is Ziad Takieddine, one of the Levantine go-betweens favoured by France when wheeler-dealing arms and such. Takieddine is supposed to have been imposed as intermediary late on in the Pakistan submarines negotiation (subtext: to organize the cream-off in the direction of Swiss suitcases for Balladur's campaign), and is a particular buddy of the Sarkozy team, of which more anon.

Second act: from 1995, Chirac is president, and his chief of staff (secretary-general of the Elysée) for the next seven years is Dominique de Villepin, who becomes Foreign Affairs Minister after Chirac wins the 2002 presidential, and in 2005 Prime Minister. Sarkozy (aka le nabot, the dwarf) must be destroyed in order to clear the way for Villepin to succeed Chirac as president (the mandate has been reduced from seven to five years, so no time to be caught napping). Villepin comes up with the brilliant smear tactic called Clearstream, in which fake entries are made in computer printouts supposedly from the Clearstream clearing bank system. The plan seems again to be running along similar tracks: the aim is to show that Sarkozy was illicitly pulling in money from another arms sale, this time of frigates to Taiwan. There's also the use of another Levantine intermediary, Imad Lahoud, and we're again in the parallel world of aides and advisors, since Lahoud is the son-in-law of a former chief of staff of Jacques Chirac. Same small world. Even down to big-time judge Van Ruymbeke, who receives the anonymous leaks of "evidence" and doesn't take long to conclude that there is no substance to the whole charade. As time goes by, the real perps are increasingly named in public (see 1, 2, and 3 for ET takes). And Sarko, once he is in his turn installed in the Elysée, makes sure that Villepin is prosecuted, in particular for false accusation, and when he is acquitted for lack of evidence, that the public prosecutor appeals. So Villepin is another luminary up in court again this month - and has again been completely whitewashed cleared (lack of evidence). This should be the end of the Clearstream affair, though Villepin vows to fight on against the evil in our midst ie Sarko.

Third act: referring obviously to the greasy sleaze that stuck to the Chirac team, Sarkozy promised as candidate in 2007 that he would deliver a République irréprochable", an irreproachable Republic, all clean and well-behaved. However, once in the seat of real power in the French republic, he seems to have heeded the call for easy money to finance his career. The name of Eric "Woerth-It" Woerth, another revolving-door (ex-Arthur Andersen) economic liberal "Gaullist" who logically became a Sarko supporter, has already faded from memory, so carefully he has been swept under the carpet since he was forced to resign. Budget Minister at the same time as Treasurer of Sarko's new party, the UMP, (irréprochable, lol!), Woerth was allegedly bagman for cash contributions from France's N° 1 fortune, l'Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt. Bettencourt's former book-keeper, Claire Thibout, has said and maintains that Bettencourt had her order up €150,000 in cash to hand over to Woerth. Another protagonist of the Bettencourt saga, magistrate Isabelle Prévost-Desprez, wrote in a recent book (Sarko m'a tuer, in which a number of people who have suffered from Sarko's heavy-handed interventions in the media, justice, etc, settle accounts with him) claims that witnesses told her Sarkozy in person visited Liliane Bettencourt to pick up brown envelopes when preparing his 2007 campaign. Prévost-Desprez has publicly confirmed her allegations, and disciplinary proceedings are currently under way against her.

So the Sarkozy/Chirac (prolonged by Villepin) battle goes on. Sarkozy's image (already poor) is worsening. He is not only under fire from missiles aimed by the Chirac side, but also from the elements of institutional and civil society he has deeply pissed off over the last few years. So he (and his band of men) have been firing back. Enter another Levantine go-between, this time a big one, Robert Bourgi. Bourgi has for long held a special position, once partly that of Jacques Foccart, of intermediary between the French state apparatus and African heads of state - in particular, between the French presidence and client leaders in former French colonies. And, yet more particularly, as bagman for neocolonial rent in euro or dollar bills, which keep the French president awash in secret funds for the next election campaign. Bourgi has gone public in a Sunday newspaper with the story of how, many times, he convoyed funds to Chirac and Villepin. "I saw Chirac and Villepin counting the banknotes", says Bourgi, with graphic details on the deliveries: how he often brought cash to Chirac even when he was Mayor of Paris and Chirac stashed the bundles away in a bookcase in his office, how he once delivered to the Elysée Palace three million dollars from Blaise Campaore, president of Burkina Faso, hidden inside a pair of djembe drums, that Villepin came down with his personal secretary to pick up from the car in the court of honour of the Elysée. Bourgi has since repeated he stands by his testimony, though, of course, he can't possibly prove anything.

A Scud fired back at Chirac-Villepin by the Sarkozy faction, for sure. Especially as Bourgi is known to be a buddy of Sarko's (Sarko gave him the Légion d'Honneur), and makes out the deliveries from Africa stopped dead when Sarko became president. Maybe another whistle-blower will step up shortly on that...

Meanwhile, the old Karachi affair keeps on giving. The submarines go-between Ziad Takieddine, shown to be a great personal friend of Sarkozy, Hortefeux, Thierry Gaubert, and UMP party boss Jean-François Copé, is all over the media protesting that he has never made a cent from France on business he has handled for France (Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Libya, for example), and that he wants the national security secret classification lifted on the documents of the submarine sale so he can prove his innocence. It's also come out that Takieddine liked to invite his friends, like Copé and Hortefeux, for nice holidays which he paid for (I heard him this morning on France Inter explain that he was like that, he invites a friend, he pays), and this happened several times (admitted by his guests, there are photos all over Internet to prove it anyway). Sarkozy, says Takieddine, is a president "who has done everything for France". Takieddine, a French citizen fiscally resident in France and worth at least €100 mn, doesn't pay a cent in tax. The families of the victims of the 2002 Karachi bomb and their lawyers, considering that the attack was revenge for non-payment of bribes commissions, are pressing ahead with demands for serious consideration of their complaints by the apparatus of justice, and they are making plenty of noise about it.

The revelations, accusations, counter-accusations, of course give rise to lawsuits and prosecutions, and it is totally in the Sarkozian nature to bring pressure to bear. The sensitive Bettencourt affair was placed in the safe hands of Nanterre public prosecutor Philippe Courroye, another "friend" of Nicolas Sarkozy, controversially appointed to this strategic (west of paris = big money) position. Courroye's authoritarian cover-up methods clashed with the presiding judge of the financial court, the XVth, the fore-mentioned Isabelle Prévost-Desprez. She claims he obstructed everything she attempted to do, treated her like an enemy, and had her placed under surveillance. But Courroye is now also involved in another aspect of business as usual in Sarkozistan: the police apparatus run by his loyal lieutenants Claude Guéant and Brice Hortefeux. (Here's a photo of Hortefeux with 49er Takieddine:

Hard at work in the service of the nation.)

Guéant at the Elysée, Hortefeux at Interior, Courroye as public prosecutor, Frédéric Péchenard (general director, national police), and Bernard Squarcini (head of DCRI, aka internal security), were not only concerned in 2010 with bottling up investigations and proceedings on the justice side, but also with silencing the media - which they are suspected of having done by means of illegal survaillance (phone taps?) on the journalists (at Le Monde and Mediapart especially) and, via Courroye, of attempting to obtain the expenses claims of these journalists to find the phone numbers of their contacts. This attempt to get at journalists' confidential sources is illegal, and an examining magistrate has now issued summons and may well charge Courroye. Libération's front page yesterday (29 September) is headlined The Fall Of The President's Men:


left to right, top, Nicolas Bazire, Philippe Courroye, Thierry Gaubert, bottom, Frédéric Péchenard, Bernard Squarcini, Brice Hortefeux, Eric Woerth

Is that all? Well, there's the ghost of old Charles Pasqua still haunting the lawcourts to brush off yet again toothless corruption charges. There's another intermediary, Alexandre Djouhri, who is alleged to have done more than Bourgi to carry suitcases of loot to Chirac and Villepin (and is also suspected of having attempted to murder Takieddine). But, if you haven't had enough, I have.

Sarkozy comes out of this weakened, at the same time as his loss of the Senate shows how little he is appreciated in the regions, the small towns and villages, of France. Speculation is now open on whether the right should field another candidate, Juppé for example. Open enough for Juppé to state publicly that he will of course support Sarkozy - if Sarkozy runs.

Display:
Good nutshell writing - should be published in the tradmed.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Sep 30th, 2011 at 12:04:55 PM EST
It would go well as a backgrounder in an English Language Sunday paper or weekly news magazine.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Oct 1st, 2011 at 01:14:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And the hits keep on coming:

French 'supercop' arrested on suspicion of colluding with drugs barons | World news | The Guardian

The French police force has been shaken by what could become its biggest corruption scandal in decades after Lyon's deputy police chief, nicknamed "Supercop" for his fight against drugs, was arrested on suspicion of colluding with international drugs barons.

Yet another piece of bad news for Sarko, who was Minister of the Interior for several years and started his rise to the presidency by building his image of "law and order" tough guy on the police work against crime, and is always keen to paint the Socialists as lax and soft on crime. The downside of course is that police officers were given free rein to abuse their power over the citizenry in total impunity. It was obvious that corruption would happen in such an environment.

When Sarko became president, he appointed faithful henchmen as Minister of the Interior, first Brice Hortefeux and now Claude Guéant. With this scandal, the police image - and by implication Sarkozy's image - is tarnished.

by Bernard (bernard) on Fri Sep 30th, 2011 at 01:52:32 PM EST
Police probe former interior minister over phone leak - FRANCE - FRANCE 24

AFP - French police questioned a senior adviser to President Nicolas Sarkozy, Brice Hortefeux, on Friday after he called a suspect in a campaign financing scandal to warn him his wife was talking too much.

"Brice Hortefeux was questioned this morning by judicial authorities, at his own request, as a witness," after the call to Thierry Gaubert was revealed, Hortefeux said in a statement, telling AFP later that he was "relieved".

Hortefeux, France's former interior minister and now Sarkozy's key political lieutenant, was questioned for three hours then released without charge.

Gaubert, another close aide to Sarkozy during a period before he became president, is accused of going to Switzerland to pick up cases of cash to finance Edouard Balladur's unsuccessful 1995 presidential election campaign.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Sep 30th, 2011 at 03:13:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, this is one of the things that has "embarrassed" Hortefeux - since it showed he was aware of what was happening in a supposedly confidential judicial case.

Similar clangers have been dropped by others in Sarkozy's entourage, letting it be understood they had knowledge of supposedly confidential information - along the lines: "M Sarkozy is not in the least concerned by this case, his name is not mentioned in the file".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Sep 30th, 2011 at 03:40:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Villepin was first minister for foreign affairs in 2002 - under Raffarin. He only became PM in 2005, after the lost referendum on the European Constituition, when Chirac's presidency agonizing

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Sep 30th, 2011 at 03:11:14 PM EST
Right. I got submerged in detail at one point. The main thing is that Villepin was constantly close to Chirac over the twelve years of his presidency.

Will correct!

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Sep 30th, 2011 at 03:13:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not so small: I became aware of Villepin when seeing live his brilliant speech at the UN before the Iraq War.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Sep 30th, 2011 at 03:14:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, it's been all downhill ever since...

Economics is politics by other means
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 30th, 2011 at 03:15:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He's a first-rate communicator. On that occasion it was for a good cause. As for the rest...

(Remember the CPE?)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Sep 30th, 2011 at 03:28:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Another precision: the journalists at Le Monde and Mediapart were actually spied upon by retrieving their mobile phone detailed statements ("facture détaillée" or "fadette" as they say in the trade), showing all numbers called, incoming calls, etc...

This is how David Sénart, adviser for then Foreign Affairs Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie (whose Tunisian adventures have been discussed on ET) was outed and subsequently fired.

ET readers will be surprised to learn that, although a search warrant is required by law to retrieve such detailed statements, the three French mobile phone operators have now taken the habit of forwarding the requested information to the police without bothering with any paperwork.

by Bernard (bernard) on Sat Oct 1st, 2011 at 03:46:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, in the USA all but one of the large telecom companies gave NSA the whole feed from fiber optic splitters. Kinda makes "prior authorization" moot.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Oct 1st, 2011 at 01:09:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
However, the far bigger story was STELLAR WIND, the massive exercise in mining the operators' billing records. (Fadette is French for CDR - Call-Detail Record.) The idea was to look at everyone who was in suspects' call graphs and then look at theirs, and so on and so forth, taking advantage of a spurious distinction between actually intercepting the calls and analysing the meta-data. (Fortunately they never got around to requesting the additional grains of rice on the 64th square.)

The two holdouts were Qwest and T-Mobile USA (possibly because of concerns about data on their EU roamers being leaked and therefore violating German law).

by TYR (a.harrowellNOSPAM@gmail.com) on Tue Oct 4th, 2011 at 08:24:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's a nice way to implicate everybody you want (nobody has more than seven degrees of separation from Bin Laden).

Also, welcome (back) to ET.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Oct 4th, 2011 at 09:03:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And to make sure such data is not lost, there is EU regulation demanding its storage.

Telecommunications data retention - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

On 15 March 2006 the European Union formally adopted Directive 2006/24/EC, on "the retention of data generated or processed in connection with the provision of publicly available electronic communications services or of public communications networks and amending Directive 2002/58/EC".[1][2] The Directive requires Member States to ensure that communications providers must retain, for a period of between 6 months and 2 years, necessary data as specified in the Directive

  • to trace and identify the source of a communication;
  • to trace and identify the destination of a communication;
  • to identify the date, time and duration of a communication;
  • to identify the type of communication;
  • to identify the communication device;
  • to identify the location of mobile communication equipment.

The data is required to be available to competent national authorities in specific cases, "for the purpose of the investigation, detection and prosecution of serious crime, as defined by each Member State in its national law".

The Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) committee of the European Parliament had recommended that data be retained for a maximum of only 12 months; that it be made available only with a judicial warrant, and only in connection with crimes serious enough to qualify for a European arrest warrant; and that communications providers be compensated for the cost of the data storage.[3] But these recommendations were put aside after private representations were made, over the heads of the MEPs who had been specialising on the dossier, by the German government to the German leaders of the dominant Socialist and Christian Democrat blocs in the Parliament.

Where would we be if the governments could not check up on their citizens telephone conversations and how their phones travel through the days?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Oct 1st, 2011 at 03:36:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One wonders if there is or will be a resurgence of interest in carrier pigeons.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Oct 1st, 2011 at 04:38:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Forget the pigeons and use radio.

It's interesting to ponder about how easily governments can shut down modern communication systems. Your cell phone, twitter account, Facebook page--all that stuff can be suspended at a moment's notice. Or monitored. Back in the good old days of paper pamphlets and tracts, and coffee-houses, the communication was distributed, person-to-person, and very difficult to disrupt.

by asdf on Sun Oct 2nd, 2011 at 12:25:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Given the limited nature of Ham Radio a significant increase would stand out notably and easily be monitored. However, the low end of available point to point microwave could offer some possibilities, but likely only for one conversation at a time, given the cost of mux and demux equipment. Any significant roll-out of such a system would seem highly likely to draw "national security" attention.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Oct 2nd, 2011 at 11:10:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Note that the position of the cell phones is also to be stored. No need to send a spy to the coffee-house anymore, just pull the list of those present.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Oct 4th, 2011 at 02:35:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hence the requirement to remove the batteries from all cell phones before Syrian dissidents assemble for a meeting. No pinging of cell towers and no GPS.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Oct 4th, 2011 at 05:38:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Since carrier pigeons can carry flash drives they actually have quite high throughput (though latency is a problem). See RFC 2549 (IP over Avian Carriers with Quality of Service) for details.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Oct 4th, 2011 at 02:44:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Plus, litigation holds will require data retention for decades while the suits and countersuits are argued. The computer storage industry loves regulations like this!
by asdf on Sun Oct 2nd, 2011 at 12:13:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
since criminals routinely use prepaid phones, which are effectively untraceable.

But for snooping on journalists, or politicians, or other Important People, it's a gold mine. These people don't take anonymous calls. A journalist has to use a known phone number to get through to their contacts.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sun Oct 2nd, 2011 at 05:52:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Paris Town Hall as a springboard took longer than Chirac expected (he lost to Giscard in the first round in 1981, and in the second round to Mitterand in 1988), but he eventually made it in 1995. Meanwhile, the Town Hall was run Tammany Hall style. This gave rise later to a series of scandals and prosecutions concerning embezzlement of public funds, fake employment (party cadres paid by the Town Hall), brown-envelope kickbacks on housing and public works contracts, patronage abuses such as distributing sweet-deal housing to buddies, voter list cheating, etc. Everything was done to string these cases out, make sure there were no witnesses or surviving evidence, pressure the examining magistrates, play for time. Cases had to be dropped when there was insufficient evidence to prosecute. Chirac himself got a Get Out Of Jail card (immunity from prosecution) by being elected President of the Republic in 1995. But his former Number Two at the Town Hall, Alain Juppé, was sentenced to fourteen months (suspended) in 2004, and had to "leave politics". Well, for a time, spent in Canada. And Chirac's faithful Jean Tibéri, who followed on as mayor, is still going through the motions of pretending to submit to the injunctions of the courts of justice - sentenced to ten months (suspended) for electoral fraud, he was up before a court on appeal this week for a quarter of an hour while his lawyers obstructed by raising questions of constitutional law that need to be examined by a superior court (Cassation), putting off his appeal hearing until next year, by which time there'll be more obstruction or he will be dying or have lost his marbles.
Sounds like Berlusconi's Italy, actually...

Economics is politics by other means
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 30th, 2011 at 03:15:07 PM EST
It certainly shares the corruption at the summit aspect. Differences I'd suggest are the absence of the Mafia in the French case, and the absence of extensive neocolonial African resources in the Italian.

I'm less sure of a comparison of institutions and constitutional structure, I don't know the Italian system well enough.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Sep 30th, 2011 at 03:33:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was just commenting on the judicial shenanigans and the attempt to get cases to lapse by stalling them.

Economics is politics by other means
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 30th, 2011 at 03:38:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the Corsicans do their best...
by TYR (a.harrowellNOSPAM@gmail.com) on Tue Oct 4th, 2011 at 08:25:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not the same focus on bunga-bunga either.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Oct 4th, 2011 at 09:50:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Two developments: Takieddine on the radio this morning took care not to reveal that he had been charged with perjury by examining magistrate René Cros, on 19 September. Five days earlier, he had been charged with embezzlement by magistrate Renaud Van Ruymbeke. Both charges in the context of the Pakistani submarines business.

Next, a suit for threat and act of intimidation was brought today by Olivier Morice, lawyer for the families of the Karachi bomb victims, supported by a group of lawyers, against Brice Hortefeux. Hortefeux was quoted in the Nouvel Observateur yesterday (29 Sept) as saying he was "sickened" by "journalists who beat up Sarkozy's friends" while in his opinion it was lawyer Olivier Morice "who should be beaten up". (Fracasser, the word Hortefeux used, is a particularly physical verb).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Sep 30th, 2011 at 04:36:54 PM EST
Sweets to the sweet! - as I like to say.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Oct 1st, 2011 at 01:15:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Did I ask for this? Why, I think I did... I'm not sorry, but I do have a headache.

A fine web of tangled strings being pulled at the same time. This will need a few takes to sink in...

Many thanks for an excellent round-up.

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Fri Sep 30th, 2011 at 05:42:54 PM EST
A mesh graph:

would help sort out the people and their connections.

If you wanted to go crazy you could have a clickable pop-up rap sheet on each person and another on the connections (when, how, why, etc.)

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Oct 1st, 2011 at 11:24:37 AM EST
If I wanted to go crazy? Already happened.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Oct 1st, 2011 at 12:08:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Crazy" Olde Tyme techno-hippie jargon for "doing more on a project than the product or market justifies"

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sat Oct 1st, 2011 at 12:12:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Amidst all this, France developed a public health care system that delivers good results, built a nuclear power electricity system that is either clean or incredibly dirty depending on how you look at it, maintained wide swaths of pastoral landscape, retained a language, upheld the Parisian images of beautiful women, left bank artistes, rude waiters, funny little cars, and dog droppings on the sidewalk, and projected that whole confusing combination of images and facts and opinions into an evil specter called "French socialism" to the American public.
by asdf on Sat Oct 1st, 2011 at 02:08:39 PM EST
And more.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Oct 1st, 2011 at 02:27:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Other points:

the aim is to show that Sarkozy was illicitly pulling in money from another arms sale, this time of frigates to Taiwan.

Of course, Jacques Chirac was himself accused of receiving serious money in that one, into a bank account in Tokyo. And once you get into the frigates, well, that's another spewing Deepwater Horizon of shit, with actual corpses and Germans and what not.

Regarding Balladur, Sarko himself dropped off 10 million FF in 500 balle notes at the Credit du Nord on the Boulevard Haussmann and claimed it came from passing round the hat at their public meetings. Of course, if you hold your public meetings in Neuilly it might even be true.

And of course, one guy who received money (for his party) out of the last complex of scandals is now German finance minister!

by TYR (a.harrowellNOSPAM@gmail.com) on Tue Oct 4th, 2011 at 08:32:46 AM EST
Some stuff (from back at the time) on Chirac's Sowa Bank account here.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Oct 4th, 2011 at 09:07:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
de Gondi class!

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Oct 4th, 2011 at 09:45:51 AM EST
totally agree... layout, style, content...primo!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Oct 4th, 2011 at 12:00:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...senile Chirac

French are lucky, they have a senile in retirement. In Finland we have seniles in power. And they are not more than 40 yrs old..

by kjr63 on Wed Oct 5th, 2011 at 05:58:09 AM EST


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