Just another WordPress.com site

Posts tagged ‘France’

The Meaty French Elections

As the elections in the French Republic approach, the topic gaining maximum momentum is not the present slowdown or the increasing unemployment. Funny as it is, this time, the outgoing French President has chosen a topic out of the blue to gravitate his election campaign.

Halal and Kosher meat, the ritual way of killing animals by Muslims and Jews for human consumption has interestingly become the latest hot topic in France with most parties laying stress on it in some way or the other.
This topic was first raised by the candidate of the extreme right anti-immigration National Front Marine Le Pen. She claimed that all the meat that was being sold in greater Paris region was killed in the Muslim ritual way while the consumers were unaware of this. This provocative statement by Le Pen raised a lot of eyebrows all over the country.
It is significant that her comments came a few days after the French meat industry was exposed on a television show. A television report focused largely on the sanitary conditions at the 275 slaughter houses of the country. It showcased that most abattoirs in the Paris city practice only halal slaughter methods as it is too expensive to slaughter animals using both methods.
Pointing at the data made available in the commentary, Le Pen demanded that as a citizen, everyone has a right to know whether the meat they are buying has been killed in horrible cruelty. However, this statement, apart from being a provocative one from Le Pen, also delved deeper into the religious issues of ritual slaughter. Although, according to a European law, animals must be made unconscious before being killed, exception prevails for religious slaughter in which animal’s throat is slit while it is alive and conscious.
In the wake of this statement by Le Pen, Sarkozy reviewed the Rungis wholesale market for food which is located just outside of Paris. After this review, he remarked countering Le Pen that only 2.5 per cent of the meat consumed in the region was halal and that was not a problem. However, he retracted his earlier statement and later proposed a law to impose transparency on the way animals were being killed for being consumed here.
Adding fuel to the fire was another statement issued by the Prime Minister Francois Fillion who suggested that both Muslim and Jewish traditions for animal slaughter were outdated. This comment left French Muslim and Jew communities infuriated. This statement by Fillion has also isolated some members of the Jew community who have supported Sarkozy since his initial days. Now, it is heard that he is meeting Rabbis and Muslim leaders to repair the damage already done.
Amidst all this controversy about halal and kosher meat in France, is it not evident to the politicians that just by creating furore over something so trivial, they are diverting the attention of the voters from the real issues that mar the country presently.
Besides, halal or no halal is a question no Frenchman is interested in. This question may have become a political hype off late but it still does not affect the general population at large. The general public in France, far away from these trivial issues, is jostling with bigger issues of life like unemployment and the public debt.
This political controversy actually does not show Sarkozy’s attachment with the general public of France or for that matter even Le Pen’s statement also came off the fly. The birth of a controversy like this just ahead of the presidential elections in France only shows how disconnected Sarkozy and other political leaders in the country are from the general public and its day-to-day problems.
This controversy not only brings to limelight Sarkozy’s ignorance but also gives a feeling of déjà vu to the French public which has seen similar issues of immigration, national identity and multi culturalism being raised during his 2007 campaign.
France is home to Western Europe’s largest Muslim minority, officially estimated at least four million and its largest Jewish community estimated at up to 700,000.
Perhaps what the French president needed was just to speak to a normal country man to find out what are the things that really bother the normal public more than the ‘no-issue’ of the religious diets.

Meat for those who can afford it even today in France lies much lower in the serious list of concerns which affect their lives.
Agreed, there may be some who would be interested in knowing whether the meat they are eating has been produced by halal, kosher or any other way of slaughter as it would affect their religious beliefs which they have preserved so well over centuries.

And as it is, these French politicians must not forget in their rat race that they should abstain from hurting any community’s religious beliefs, no matter how small, as it would create an uproar among masses.
It is perfectly all right if the Europeans want that meat should be labelled that under what slaughtering method it is being made available. All we ask for is that these political parties should not stoop down to such a level where they need to hurl stone at someone else to make things work for themselves.


NATO – Deterrent of Unification


After World War II the shadow of another possible war now looming over the sky which if comes into picture the enemy at the gates will bang it will full lightening; the name of that shadow was Cold War era which started immediately after the much daunted D-Day. The fear of Soviet invasion was irresistible as after the war more than half of the Europe was under communist control & influence. So the Western European countries of UK, France, Belgium, the Netherlands & Luxembourg signed the Treaty of Brussels on 17th March 1948 which is considered as the precursor of NATO.  But in order to counter balance the power of Soviet Union participation of US was necessary, so the talks to form new alliance started immediately after it. These talks resulted into the formation of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation on 4th April 1949 with the signing of North Atlantic Treaty in Washington D.C which increased the horizon of a complete military alliance including the members of Treaty of Brussels & new members the US, Canada, Italy, Iceland, Portugal, Norway & Denmark with its headquarters based in Belgium with its Parliament General Assembly which meets at an Annual Session.  But the first few years of its formation were full of crisis as the influence of US was a major concern in the organisation which resulted into French withdrawal from NATO & development of French nuclear deterrent. With the start of Korean War NATO galvanised its military structure under the command of US Marines. However after the formation of Warsaw Pact by the Eastern Bloc, NATO started developing its standardization program for its arsenal systems.   The reason for its non involvement in Falkland War was that since its formation & as its name suggest that NATO always want to limit itself above the Tropic of Cancer so, since the southern hemisphere is not under its operational limit NATO kept itself out of that.

Post Cold War: After the collapse of USSR & the German reunification in 1990 NATO has increased its member states & limits which has now crossed the borders after the Prague summit of 2002 held for the first time in the Eastern Bloc country which enlarged its horizon by including Albania, Croatia, Poland, Latvia, Romania, Hungary, Estonia, Mauritania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania has been brought under the NATO umbrella while Ukraine & Georgia were told that they will be included as a prominent members. The inclusion of these states irked Russia who has now threatened NATO of withdrawing from CTE which was signed between RUSSIA & NATO as a peace agreement due to the posting of US anti missile defence system which as per Russia’s concern will trigger a new arms race in the region. The first NATO intervention was in 1995 bombings of Bosnia & Herzegovina and in 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia. With the inclusion of Turkey, Spain & Greece NATO now controls almost all the bordering points with Russia.

Post 9/11 Terror Attacks:  caused NATO to invoke Article 5 of the NATO Charter for the first time in its history. The Article says that an attack on any member shall be considered to be an attack on all with invocation of its Article 5 NATO invaded Afghanistan in 2001 & consequently invading Iraq in 2002 under its military force command of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Groups under NATO:

EURO – Atlantic Partnership,

Individual Partnership Action Plans,

Contact Countries

2008-2009 Recession: NATO which has 70% of total world’s defence budget announced huge budget cuts due to the economic meltdown in the majority stake holding countries of US & Western Europe Which accounts 43% by the US alone & the 15% by UK, France & Germany.

Future Enlargement plans of NATO are for Asia to confront China’s rise & the nuclear crisis of North Korea, Iran, Burma, Pakistan & Syria.

Sky Tree – The Tallest TV Tower in the World

This TV tower rises 601 feet above the ground. According; to the plan tower measuring 634 meters when completed later this year. The tower has cost about 800 millions of dollars to build, and the creators hope that the two lookout platforms will attract 2.7 million visitors each year. In addition to sending television signals out to Tokyo’s inhabitants, the tower will also house an aquarium, planetarium, cinema, 300 shops and restaurants. Japan’s six top broadcasters are building the tower, which is expected to booster television and radio transmissions across Japan. Designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando and sculptor Kiichi Sumikawa, the Sky Tree is constructed on a triangular foundation and its “body” turns into a cylinder as it reaches upward. It is being managed by Tobu Tower Sky Tree Co.

This will now sets a new benchmark in terms of transmission & tower engineering for World & in Japan. Sky Tree will be another feather of success in the Japanese Researchers Hat which always keeps on enlightening & surprising the world with their progressive technological values driven by the high dreams of Japanese ambitious society. It is truly a “Modern Media Samurai of the Far East.” Which has passed the 600 m-high Canton Tower in China’s south-western city of Guangzhou.

The TV Towers are now dwarfed by Sky Tree in the World are:

Émile François Zola – J’Accuse!

Émile François Zola, born in April 2 1840, was a French writer and one of the most important people of the literary school of naturalism and an important contributor to the development of theatrical naturalism. He also became a major figure in the political liberalization of France and in the exoneration of the falsely accused and convicted army officer Alfred Dreyfus. J’Accuse means “I accuse”, and this was exactly what Zola did when he defended Dreyfus who was falsely convicted. On February 23 1898, Zola was imprisoned in France after writing this letter to the French Government.

Zola was born in Paris and his father, François Zola (Francesco Zolla), was an Italian engineer. With his French wife, Émilie Aurélie Aubert, the family moved to Aix-en-Provence in the southeast when Émile was 3 years old. Four years later, in 1847 his father died leaving his mother on a small pension. The family moved back to Paris where also Émile’s childhood friend, a painter named Paul Cézanne joined them. Here Zola started to write in romantic style.

Before his breakthrough as a writer, Zola worked as a clerk in a shipping company, in the sales department for a publisher (Hachette) and would write literary and art reviews for newspapers. According to one story, Zola was sometimes so broke that he ate sparrows that he trapped on his window sill. During his early years, Émile Zola wrote several short stories and essays, four plays and three novels. After his first major novel, Thérèse Raquin (1867), Zola started the long series called Les Rougon Macquart, about a family under the Second Empire.

Dreyfus affair

Although Zola and Cézanne were friends from childhood and in youth, they broke in later life over Zola’s fictionalized depiction of Cézanne and the Bohemian life of painters in his novel L’Œuvre (The Masterpiece, 1886). Then from 1877 onwards with the publication of l’Assommoir, Émile Zola became a wealthy man. He became a figurehead among the literary bourgeoisie and organized cultural dinners with Guy de Maupassant, Joris-Karl Huysmans and other writers at his luxurious villa in Medan near Paris after 1880.

With L’Assommoir (1877, Drunkard), a depiction of alcoholism, Zola became the best-known writer in France, who attracted crowds imitators and disciples, to his great annoyance: “I want to shout out from the housetops that I am not a chef d’ecole, and that I don’t want any disciples,” Zola once said. His personal appearance – once somebody said that he had the head of a philosopher and the body of an athlete.

Captain Alfred Dreyfus was a Jewish artillery officer in the French army. When the French intelligence found information about someone giving the German embassy military secrets, anti-Semitism seems to have caused senior officers to suspect Dreyfus, though there was no direct evidence of any wrongdoing. Dreyfus was court-martialled, convicted of treason and sent to Devil’s Island in French Guiana.

Lt. Col. Georges Picquart, though, came across evidence that implicated another officer, Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy, and informed his superiors. Rather than move to clear Dreyfus, the decision was made to protect Esterhazy and ensure the original verdict was not overturned. Major Hubert-Joseph Henry forged documents that made it seem that Dreyfus was guilty and then had Picquart assigned duty in Africa. Before leaving, Picquart told some of Dreyfus’s supporters what he knew. Soon Senator August Scheurer-Kestner took up the case and announced in the Senate that Dreyfus was innocent and accused Esterhazy. The right-wing government refused new evidence to be allowed and Esterhazy was tried and acquitted. Picquart was then sentenced to 60 days in prison.

Émile Zola risked his career and even his life on January 13th 1898, when his “J’accuse“, was published on the front page of the Paris daily, L’Aurore. The newspaper was run by Ernest Vaughan and Georges Clemenceau, who decided that the controversial story would be in the form of an open letter to President, Félix Faure. Émile Zola’s “J’Accuse” accused the highest levels of the French Army of obstruction of justice and anti-Semitism by having wrongfully convicted Alfred Dreyfus to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island. The case, known as the Dreyfus affair, divided France deeply between the reactionary army and church, and the more liberal commercial society. For this he also wrote and said: Dreyfus is innocent. I swear it! I stake my life on it and my honour! At this solemn moment, in the presence of this tribunal which is the representative of human justice, before you, gentle. men, who are the very incarnation of the country, before the whole of France, before the whole world, I swear that Dreyfus is innocent. By my forty years of work, by the authority that this toil may have given me, I swear that Dreyfus is innocent. By all I have now, by the name I have made for myself, by my works which have helped for the expansion of French literature, I swear that Dreyfus is innocent. May all that melt away, may my works perish if Dreyfus be not innocent! He is innocent. All seems against me — the two Chambers, the civil authority, the most widely-circulated journals, the public opinion which they have poisoned.”

For this, Zola was brought to trial for criminal libel on 7 February 1898, and was convicted on 23 February, sentenced, and removed from the Legion of Honour. Rather than go to jail, Zola fled to England. Without even having had the time to pack a few clothes, he arrived at Victoria Station on 19 July. After his brief and unhappy residence in London, from October 1898 to June 1899, he was allowed to return in time to see the government fall. The government offered Dreyfus a pardon, which he could accept and go free and so effectively admit that he was guilty, or face a re-trial in which he was sure to be convicted again. Although he was clearly not guilty, he chose to accept the pardon. Emile Zola said, “The truth is on the march, and nothing shall stop it.” In 1906, Dreyfus was completely exonerated by the Supreme Court.

The 1898 article by Émile Zola is widely marked in France as the most prominent manifestation of the new power of the intellectuals (writers, artists, academicians) in shaping public opinion, the media and the state.

The death of Zola

Zola died at the age of 62 of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a stopped chimney while sleeping in September 29th 1902. His enemies were blamed because of previous attempts on his life, but nothing could be proven. Decades later, a Parisian roofer claimed on his deathbed to have closed the chimney for political reasons. Addresses of sympathy arrived from all parts of France; for an entire week the vestibule of his house was crowded with notable writers, scientists, artist and politicians, who came to inscribe their names in the registers. On the other hand, Zola’s enemies used the opportunity to celebrate in malicious glee. Zola was in the end buried in the Cimetière de Montmartre in Paris, but on 4 June 1908, almost six years after his death, his remains were moved to the Panthéon, where he shares a crypt with Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas. At Zola’s funeral Anatole France declared, “He was a moment of the human conscience.”

What was special about Zola is that he did not believe in the possibility of individual freedom, but emphasized that “events arise fatally, implacably, and men, either with or against their wills, are involved in them. Such is the absolute law of human progress.”

I have for me only an ideal of truth and justice. But I am quite calm; I shall conquer. I was determined that my country should not remain the victim of lies and injustice. I may be condemned here. The day will come when France will thank me for having helped to save her honour.” Émile François Zola

February 1st Weak Important Events

February 6

  • 1778 – France and the United States signed the Treaty of Alliance and the Treaty of Amity and Commerce, establishing military and commercial ties respectively between the two nations.
  • 1806 – Napoleonic Wars: When squadrons of British and French ships of the line engaged in the Battle of San Domingo (pictured) in the Caribbean Sea, the French ships Imperial and Diomède ran aground to avoid capture, but were caught and destroyed anyway.
  • 1959 – Jack Kilby, an engineer at Texas Instruments, filed a patent application for the first integrated circuit.
  • 1987 – Mary Gaudron was appointed as the first female Justice of the High Court of Australia.
  • 2000 – Second Chechen War: Russia captured Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, forcing the separatist Chechen government into exile.

February 5Constitution Day in Mexico (1917); Kashmir Day in Pakistan

  • 1783 – The first of five strong earthquakes hit the region of Calabria in present-day southern Italy, killing more than 32,000 people over a period of nearly two months.
  • 1923 – Australian cricketer Bill Ponsford made 429 runs to break the world record for the highest first-class score.
  • 1945 – In the Second World War, American General Douglas MacArthur returns to the Philippines nearly three years after his “I shall return” speech.
  • 1958 – A Mark 15 nuclear bomb disappeared off the shores of Tybee Island, Georgia, US after it was jettisoned during a practice exercise when the bomber carrying it collided in midair with a fighter plane.
  • 1963 – The European Court of Justice’s ruling in Van Gend en Loos v Nederlandse Administratie der Belastingen established the principle of direct effect, one of the basic tenets of European Union law.

February 4: Day of the Armed Struggle (Angola, 1961)

  • 1859 – German scholar Constantin von Tischendorf (pictured) rediscovered the Codex Sinaiticus, a 4th century uncial manuscript of the Greek Bible, in Saint Catherine’s Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai in Egypt.
  • 1899 – The Philippine–American War opened when an American soldier, under orders to keep insurgents away from his unit’s encampment, fired upon a Filipino soldier in Manila.
  • 1974 – The Provisional Irish Republican Army bombed a motor coach carrying off-duty British Armed Forces personnel and their family members, killing twelve and wounding fifty more.
  • 1992 – Venezuelan Army Lieutenant Colonel Hugo Chávez failed in his attempt to overthrow the government of Carlos Andrés Pérez.
  • 1999 – The Panamanian-flagged freighter New Carissa ran aground near Coos Bay, Oregon, US, causing one of the worst oil spills in Oregon history.


Tag Cloud