Friday, November 04, 2005

Why am I just hearing about this?

Subtitle: I hate the American media.

I tend to think of myself as *fairly* well informed about international events - I keep up with the major papers, I get my news from BBC and NPR most of the time, I consciously try to avoid the American-news-only bias of most major network stations. So maybe it's because I've been busy with getting my show ready to open, but - how did I not hear about the massive riots in France? Via the Times Online:

The poor suburbs of Paris were set ablaze in the worst of eight consecutive nights of rioting, with 500 cars torched and a gym and primary school razed.

Police today reported that the wave of unrest has now spread to at least 20 provincial towns.

An army of 1,300 police reinforcements moved into the bleak estates of the north-east of Paris last night, to enforce a belated pledge by Dominique de Villepin, the Prime Minister, to stop the rioting that has engulfed the largely Muslim ghettos.


Gangs of youths armed with bricks, sticks and petrol canisters spilled through the streets of high-rise housing estates, torching buses and hurling rocks at trains. At least 80 arrests were made in fierce clashes with the massed ranks of riot police.

According to one report, a disabled woman was doused in petrol and set alight when she was unable to escape a bus under attack in the northern suburb of Sevran. She was rescued by the driver and is being treated for severe burns.


The warfare of the streets, initially triggered by the deaths of two African teenagers who ran into an electricity relay station fearing they were being chased by police, has flared into broader protest against the living conditions and prospects of African communities.

It has been played out against a backdrop of political bickering between the Prime Minister and Nicolas Sarkozy, the interior minister and his rival for presidency in 2007. M de Villepin has been accused of leaving his rival to deal with the fallout from the unrest.

M Sarkozy's hard-line stance - he has spoken of "hosing down" the "scum" - has fanned the flames of protest, and may have damaged his future prospects for the presidency. It has also exposed a philosophical split in the Cabinet and country over the place of immigrants in French life, and caused policies of integration dating back 30 years to be re-examined.

I mean, holy shit. This is some pretty major stuff going on. Why isn't this a top story on CNN or the Today Show? What the hell is wrong with us?