UP FRONT

Flashpoints

Paris is burning

November 14 2005
UP FRONT

Flashpoints

Paris is burning

November 14 2005

Flashpoints

UP FRONT

Paris is burning

They believed they were being chased by police, and hid by an electrical transformer. The subsequent deaths of the “angels of the ghetto,” as the two youths of North African descent quickly became known, set off a week-long orgy of riots and arson in the immigrant-dominated suburbs of Paris. Hundreds of cars were destroyed, businesses and public buses torched, as youths fought nightly running battles with police firing rubber bullets. And underlying the violence was a sense of surprise—over the fact that it had taken this long for the suburbs to explode.

Many of France’s six million citizens of North African descent haven’t integrated into French society, and are isolated in suburban apartment blocks where unemployment can be three times the national average. Adding to the anger was a rash of deadly fires over the summer in decrepit buildings housing immigrants. Last week, President Jacques Chirac said that “emotions must quiet down”—an appeal that was undercut when Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy promised to “clean” the suburbs and “fight a war without mercy” against “riff-raff.”

Quote of the week I ‘There’s no end to the ingenuity of Air Canada to

think UP things to charge for. MICHAEL JANIGAN of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre in Ottawa, after the airline ended complimentary meals on long-haul North American flights

UPFRONT

HOLLINGER Since Conrad Black is not facing criminal charges in Canada, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled he must answer questions about Hollinger Inc. to a court-appointed investigator (he resigned as chairman and CEO of the Canadian holding company last November). Black, 61, had argued that answers could be used against him in U.S. court proceedings regarding allegedly improper payments to him from the sale of newspapers of his media empire. Last week, Black filed suit against the U.S. government, which seized nearly US$9 million on Oct. 7 from the sale of his New York City apartment. He stated that a criminal indictment against him in the United States might be imminent, and he needs the money to retain defence lawyers.

UNSEALED Adoptees and their birth parents will soon be able to find each other, maybe against their wishes. After nearly 80 years of secrecy, Ontario’s adoption records will be unsealed in 18 months, after an advertising campaign to inform citizens of the new rules. Parties wanting to keep their information confidential will have to convince a tribunal that unsealing the records would cause harm.

GOLD RUSH Toronto’s Barrick Gold Corp. wants to buy fellow Canadian gold producer Placer Dome Inc., in a stock-heavy deal worth US$9.2 billion. If it goes through, Barrick would become the world’s largest producer of the precious metal.

CAMILLA’S NIGHT Determined

not to overshadow her husband, Prince Charles, the way his liber-stylish first wife Diana so often did, the Duchess of Cornwall played it safe when attending a black-tie White House dinner given by President George W. and Laura Bush.

CAR WOES For the first time, the Big Three automakers’ share of Canada’s car and light truck market fell to below 50 per cent. Honda, meanwhile, sold more of its redesigned 2006 Honda Civics in October than all Ford and Chrysler passenger cars

combined, as the trend away from pickups and SUVs continued.

DELAY Former Republican House leader Tom DeLay succeeded in getting the judge overseeing his money-laundering and conspiracy trial removed from the case. DeLay’s lawyers argued that Judge Bob Perkins’s impartiality had been compromised by his financial contributions to Democratic candidates.

BAD DAY British Prime Minister Tony Blair suffered two major political setbacks last Wednesday. With members of his own Labour Party set to vote against a proposal to give police the right to hold terrorist suspects without charge for up to 90 days, the government was forced to withdraw that section of the terrorism bill. Hours earlier, David Blunkett, the works and pensions minister, resigned for the second time in less than a year, this time over accusations he violated a ministerial code of conduct. In December, he stepped down as home secretary after his office fasttracked a visa for his American lover’s nanny.

DIPLOMACY A week after calling for Israel’s destruction, and in spite of withering international criticism, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pressed ahead with his purge of reformers. He fired 40 ambassadors and senior diplomats, including many moderate ones based in the West.

CLEARED Seven British soldiers were found not guilty of murdering an Iraqi teenager near Basra in May 2003 after the judge ruled the evidence was weak and vague and the investigation had been inadequate. Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett added that the Iraqi witnesses had used the case to seek compensation from British forces.

YUCKY JOBS The worst job in science was a human lab rat, according to Popular Science’s annual ranking. California students were paid US$15 an hour to have a First World War nerve agent shot into their eyes and noses. Number eight on the list was volunteering—and paying—to help investigate the melting permafrost in peat bogs near Churchill, Man. The vacationers shelled out more than $2,000 for the pleasure of fending off polar bears and “biblical swarms” of flies.