Just Another New Year's Eve
According to Le Figaro 1,193 cars were torched on New Year's Eve in France. The news is all over the web already, but I took an extra twenty-four hours of repose from blogging. I hope everyone is rested and ready for whatever Fate has in store. Are we ever ready?
Interior Minister Manuel Valls announced today that 1,193 cars had been burned last night throughout the country. Three hundred and forty-four of them burned from the spread of fire. "The total figures were calculated late this afternoon," he explained.
A closer look shows that 907 cars burned in the zone patrolled by the national police, 267 of them from the spread of fire. In the areas of heavy police presence (Paris and three neighboring departments) 209 cars were burned, 54 from the spread of fire. In the zone patrolled by the gendarmerie, 77 cars were burned. There are nine departments with more than 40 fires, including Seine-Saint-Denis (83 cars), Haut-Rhin (70), Nord (61) and les Bouches-du-Rhône (51).
The minister also announced that there were 339 arrests, 244 persons detained in custody. He added: "Three police officers and four gendarmes were wounded. However, there were no confrontations during the night, except in Strasbourg and Mulhouse."
"Last night, in terms of deeds and phenomenons, was comparable to other years," Valls indicated, all the while regretting the death of a young person near Strasbourg following the backfiring of a mortar.
The minister added: "I want to praise the police forces that were mobilized last night and allowed the gatherings and festivities to take place in the best conditions."
Note: One cannot help but smile at Valls' comments. "No confrontations…" except in Strasbourg and Mulhouse. "Comparable to other years…" except that someone was killed. "Best conditions…" except that 1,200 people no longer have their car!!!
Another "flash" from Le Figaro arrived at the same time. This one announced that new car sales had dropped by 13.9% in 2012. In December alone sales fell by 14.2%. Maybe they weren't taking any chances.
Marine Le Pen has reacted predictably to Valls hypocritical optimism:
Manuel Valls is satisfied with the stability of security this New Year's Eve, especially concerning the number of cars burned, which is still very high, as if this ignoble tradition were acceptable and that it was only a question of attenuating the damage. The same minister said yesterday that he was "shocked" by the 40,000 cars burned each year in France: it is not ministerial indignation that the French people need but action, and concrete results! For now, we have the same inability to act with results as pitiful as those of former ministers of the Interior Hortefeux and Guéant.
The reality of violence and crimes, both major and minor, seems to escape the government, as do the economic and social realities. And the effects of an announcement followed by self-congratulatory remarks does not change in any way the truth that the people endure. The Interior Minister, like other members of François Hollande's government, is attempting to mask the total absence of results of his policies with a disproportionate number of appearances on television. We have seen, these past few days, an increase in all sorts of media appearances. This frantic activity seems to be directly inspired by Sarkozy's methods of communication: a word-mill is turned on, a grandstand show of force, talk and more talk, to hide a guilty inaction.
Note: Marine Le Pen does point out that under Sarkozy, the New Year's Eve figures were censored. Valls at least published them, but made light of the seriousness of the violence, that involved many minors. She suggests that those over 13 be punished more severely, and that welfare benefits to the parents of repeat offenders be eliminated, unless extreme need can be proven.
Finally, I see that the Apple Store in Paris was held up Monday night (December 31). Three employees were wounded and goods worth more than a million euros were stolen. Five men armed with handguns and knives broke in after closing. One employee's face was cut and the two others were punched. No traces of a break-in were visible on the façade or inside the spacious store.