Saturday's CBS Evening News featured a story, filed by correspondent Sheila MacVicar, which highlighted the French government's policy of entitling all mothers to three years of paid maternity leave and subsidized child care as a way to increase the birth rate and thus provide more young taxpayers to pay for the pensions of the elderly. MacVicar pointed out that in America, "federal law entitles some working mothers to twelve weeks unpaid leave," before cautioning that "the rest get nothing."
MacVicar relayed that French women enjoy more benefits than their American counterparts: "Take a look at what all French families, regardless of income, are entitled to: Up to three years paid maternity leave with a guarantee that mom's job will be there for her when she returns. There's subsidized child care, a whole host of tax credits, and for baby number three brings twice the government allowance of baby number two." (Transcript follows)
Unsatisfied with American domination of the international news market, a French company is getting ready to launch a cable/satellite news channel.
The staff of France 24 insists they'll be different than CNNi, BBC, and others, but in one respect they're perfectly similar. Just like their American counterparts, they pretend they're objective. They also appear to have trouble perceiving reality. Regarding the Iraq war, managing director Gerard Saint-Paul says:
"Our image will be more panoramic as compared to other channels – but
that doesn’t mean that the other channels are bad at all. Let me give
you an example to better illustrate: Concerning coverage in Iraq, which
constitutes a cornerstone in media coverage, I find that CNN conveys an
American-directed message to a large extent, and more precisely one
that is in favor of President George Bush. What we will offer is a
wider vision that is different from what others present, and this of
course, will be affected by the historical and emotional relationship
between France and Lebanon, as well as the closeness of the relations
between France and the Arab world."
This is, of course, the news channel that actually is more anti-conservative and critical of the United States than its American counterpart. I guess Saint-Paul prefers a more Pravdaesque approach to covering international news.
I also can't help but note the hypocrisy in that France 24 has its country of origin in its name (and likely is benefiting from French subsidies as well) and talks about how its mission is to bring the French approach to news and culture to the world. Somehow this is OK but bringing an American approach is bad.
During the Friday edition of "The Situation Room," CNN’s Jack Cafferty summarized an international poll that showed many Europeans think President Bush is a greater threat to world peace than North Korea. He solemnly intoned that the results show "just how low the United States image has sunk." After reading the survey, Cafferty asked his audience this question:
Jack Cafferty: "...What does it mean when our closest allies think that President Bush is a greater threat to world peace than either North Korea or Iran?"
"Situation Room" host Wolf Blitzer had an answer:
Blitzer: "It means we got a serious problem internationally."
Would Republicans be popular again if they’d only dump their conservative principles? That’s the advice in this week’s U.S. News & World Report, contained in Thomas K. Grose’s “Letter from Bournemouth, England.” Grose salutes Britain’s Conservative Party leader David Cameron for his thoroughly un-conservative approach of eschewing tax cuts, supporting gay marriage and the minimum wage, and calling Britain’s National Health Service a “great achievement.”
Grose thinks American Republicans should also morph into liberals: “Cameron’s centerward drive contrasts sharply with American conservatism, where the Republican Party is fighting the midterm congressional elections by lurching even further to the right to appease its base voters. While Cameron chirps about sunshine, Vice President Dick Cheney stumps for GOP candidates by depicting the world in gloomy terms and playing to voters' fears of terrorism.”
Not the smallest bird doesn't fall but liberal pundits blame it on George W. Bush. A refreshing change of pace this morning, then, in the person of Thomas Friedman, who writes that the major responsibility for avoiding future international catastrophe lays not at the feet of the current occupant of the White House, but in Moscow and Beijing.
In the subscription-required The Bus Is Waiting, Friedman propounds the theory that a nuclearized N. North Korea and Iran will inevitably induce a string of countries across Asia and the Middle East developing atomic weapons of their own.
To prevent this, Friedman asserts that it is necessary for:
The Brussels Journal reported today (via FreeRepublic) that the third day of rioting in the Marollen district of Brussels commenced today, events which were sparked by the apparent murder of a Moroccan prisoner in a Brussels prison. What makes this story unusual is that so far, there has only been one report issued across the newswires (by Reuters) covering the events, and even though the rioting is entering its third day, not a single photographer has been dispatched to document the activities of the Muslim mob.
In a surreal clash of the sacred and the profane, the New York Times - that citadel of secularism - has declared in its editorial of this morning that Pope Benedict "needs to offer a deep and persuasive apology," for having quoted a 14th century Christian emperor who said:
“Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”
The Times is only being fair and balanced, I suppose. After all, hardly a week goes by that you can't pick up the paper and read an editorial condemning this or that mullah, imam or ayatollah for the latest fatwa ordering the death of such-and-such infidel or the destruction of entire countries found to be an annoyance. Or not.
Alison Stewart is the hip-'n-edgy host of MSNBC's 'The Most,' which as its promo page explains:
"Give[s] viewers a look at 'the most' sought-after stories of the day. Every day, 'The Most' will report on the most searched stories on the Internet, the most viewed stories from a multitude of news sources, the most e-mailed stories or photo images, the most downloaded music or blogged-about subject matter and the most viewed television programs or movies."
Ending her show this afternoon, Stewart focused on the brief, joshing back rub Pres. Bush administered to German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the recent g-8 meeting. Stewart wanted us to know that, among the search terms that would return video of the eventat the do-it-yourself TV site YouTube.com,are 'grope' and 'creepy.'
Everyone knows that when it comes to winning wars and achieving peace, the model to follow is that laid out by France, other Europeans, and the UN.
Elizabeth Vargas, steadfast Euro-UN-ophile, is savvy enough to recognize that the US needs to fall in line behind wiser heads and 'condemn or rebuke' Israel. Sadly, an obdurate Bush administration, in the person of spokesman Tony Snow, just wasn't getting the message in a Good Morning America interview this morning.
Vargas: "Tony, this is day ten now of the conflict in the Middle East and only now is the US government considering sending Secretary Rice to the region. Why waiting so long to do so?"
Snow: "Well, first, Elizabeth, you have to understand even though Secretary Rice hasn't been to the region, we've had a high-level . . . delegation . . . there last week. . . Secretary Rice thought she would wait until we had a moment . . . when the time is ripe. Now she views this as a good time to go."
Vargas: "You mentioned European allies. The US has thus far been alone in its refusal to either rebuke or condemn Israel for its excessive force, as Kofi Annan called it last night. And in addition it has refused to call for any cessation of hostilities. At what point does the administration say to its close ally Israel, 'enough'?"
They laughed when I said, here and here, that wearing a Palestinian scarf has become a leftist fashion statement. It was just a cold day on Rockefeller Center, people explained. Well, what do you know? Looks like the cold of Rock Center has made its way all the way to Madrid - and in high summer, no less!
Let's imagine an American World Cup team member 'of pallor' had head-butted, oh, an Arab or African player. Would the MSM be quick to excuse, even to make the incident the object of humor? Or would we have been treated to mind-numbing disquisitions on racism in sport as a microcosm of society at large?
But when a French player of Arab ancestry head-butts an Italian? Well, CBS tells us, boys will be boys. CBS's Elizabeth Palmer, who narrated a segment on the incident on this morning's Early Show, informed us that "it's a male thing understood around the world." To prove her point, CBS ran a clip from an Adam Sandler flick showing the comedian, as a football player, taking a flying foot leap into another player who had insulted his mother. We were also treated to images of video spoofs and video games that the incident has generated.
Stunning news from Expatica's German edition (bolds are mine; because of its brevity, the entire report is included here):
Germans say al-Qaeda no longer organizing strikes
18 May 2006
DUESSELDORF - Al-Qaeda's hierarchy in western Europe has vanished and the terrorist network's leadership has largely ceased direct management of attacks, a senior German police intelligence officer told a trial court this week.
She said the al-Qaeda leadership now mainly relied on video and internet proclamations to inspire Islamists in the western world to act on their own.
Germany's BKA federal crime agency had no evidence of Islamists swearing an oath of loyalty to Osama bin Laden since 2001 to become al-Qaeda members. The only terrorist to have done so since that date was Abu-Musab al-Sarqawi, the Jordanian who mounts attacks in Iraq.