These are all the Blogs posted on Sunday, 23, 2008.
Sunday, 23 November 2008
Paris Disparu, Ou, Tout Va Bien, Madame La Marquise
From the Annals of Paris Disparu:
Des milliardaires réaménagent les hôtels particuliers parisiens
LE MONDE | 22.11.08
u 14, rue de l'Université, dans le 7e
arrondissement de Paris, l'immeuble emmailloté de bâche grise est une verrue bien disgracieuse aux côtés des hôtels particuliers de la même époque - le XVIIe
siècle - aux porches cintrés et balcons à encorbellement, qui l'entourent.
Placardé sur l'échafaudage, le permis de construire date du 30 janvier 2004. Le toit a disparu. La façade aux fenêtres à chapiteau semble "tenir" en trompe-l'oeil. Le chantier est arrêté pour infraction : les travaux de démolition engagés outrepassent le permis octroyé. Le procès de l'Etat contre le propriétaire, qui doit débuter lundi 24 novembre, au Palais de justice de Paris, devrait servir de cas d'école, à l'heure où les transactions sur le patrimoine historique de Paris sont en plein boom.
Les hôtels particuliers en vente, pour la plupart construits entre cour et jardin aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles, souvent cédés par l'Etat pour faire rentrer de l'argent dans les caisses, font le miel, depuis 2006, des milliardaires du monde entier. "Des bâtiments à usage privé et extrêmement luxueux, dont les acquéreurs viennent des grandes familles princières du monde arabe, du Golfe, du Maghreb, de Russie ou des pays émergents. Ce ne sont ni les Anglais, ni les Américains, ni les Français, même s'ils pèsent des milliards", précise Charles-Marie Jottras, président du groupe immobilier Féau (Belles Demeures de France, Christie's Great Estates), dont une vente a dépassé, avant l'été, les 60 millions d'euros. Parmi les offres du jour chez Féau, l'hôtel du Grand-Veneur, d'époque Louis XIII, inscrit aux Monuments historiques, rue de Turenne (3e), est mis à prix 29 millions d'euros.
France Domaine, institution dépendant du ministère des finances, affiche sur son site Internet les offres immobilières de l'Etat, photos à l'appui. Le 21 novembre, à la rubrique "L'Etat vend à Paris", l'hôtel de Montesquiou, façade Louis XVI sur jardin, au 20, rue Monsieur (7e), anciennement occupé par le ministère de la coopération, portait la motion "vendu". Il serait cédé à un promoteur russe. Autre affaire à saisir : l'hôtel de Seignelay, 80, rue de Lille (7e), dépendant du ministère de l'économie et dont la date de dépôt des offres était fixée au 20 novembre... L'Etat, très discret, n'affiche pas les prix pour vendre au plus offrant.
Une fois le contrat signé commencent les difficultés. L'acquéreur veut bénéficier des dernières commodités et mettre au goût du jour sa propriété. La tendance est au gain d'espace. Puisque, à Paris, on ne peut construire en hauteur, creusons les sous-sols, pour installer piscines, garages, climatisation.
Les requêtes sont déposées à la direction de l'urbanisme de Paris qui transmet les dossiers aux Architectes de bâtiments de France (ABF), lesquels délivrent les autorisations et contrôlent les travaux. Les règles sont strictes lorsqu'il s'agit de bâtiments classés ou inscrits aux Monuments historiques, ou simplement situés dans le 7e arrondissement et le Marais, deux zones régies par le Plan de sauvegarde et de mise en valeur de la capitale (PSMV) établi en 1996 et en cours de révision. Ou encore, lorsque l'immeuble est préservé au titre du Plan local d'urbanisme (PLU) qui, depuis 2006, protège 5 000 immeubles intra-muros.
Les demandes de permis de construire sont révélatrices. Une dizaine de gros dossiers sont étudiés. Dont celui de l'hôtel de Bourbon-Condé, classé Monument historique, 12, rue Monsieur (7e), acheté par la famille royale du Bahrein, qui inclut la création en sous-sol de parking et salle de cinéma.
Une demande similaire de construction d'un garage souterrain émane de l'hôtel Lambert (1639-1644), construit par Louis Le Vau, qui agrandira Versailles. Ancré à la pointe de l'île Saint-Louis, avec son jardin suspendu et sa rotonde sur la Seine, il a logé, un temps, l'actrice Michèle Morgan : c'était l'attraction des bateaux-mouches. Avec ses décors peints par Le Brun, ce joyau a été cédé, en 2007, par le baron Guy de Rothschild à la famille de l'émir du Qatar (autour de 80 millions d'euros), lequel, amateur de vieilles pierres, possède l'hôtel d'Evreux, place Vendôme, et l'hôtel de Coislin, place de la Concorde.
Le PSMV, établi en 1996 et en cours de révision, protège très mal les sous-sols de ces hôtels. "Pratiquement tous les bâtiments que je connais, repris récemment, envisagent des travaux pharaoniques dans les caves ou sous les cours pavées", précise Christine Fabre, de l'association SOS-Paris. Au 81, rue de Grenelle (7e), le chantier sur le petit hôtel d'Estrées est spectaculaire, comme l'état de la cour, trou béant garni d'échafaudages. Deux permis de construire ont été délivrés. Le premier autorisait, en octobre 2006, trois niveaux de sous-sol (avec piscine, sauna, parking), le second, de septembre 2008, accepte un ascenseur à voiture.
"Il faut stopper cet élan pour éviter les excès. Le petit hôtel d'Estrées fait partie des polémiques", indique Jean-Marc Blanchecotte, architecte en chef des bâtiments historiques, à Paris. Etudier au cas par cas, en hiérarchisant les hôtels particuliers, telle est l'actuelle démarche. Pour le spécialiste, "il ne faut pas tout bloquer, l'esprit de reconquête est l'occasion de restauration des bâtiments historiques".
Un point sensible pour les ensembles de grande valeur vendus par l'Etat, souvent mal protégés par la loi. La problématique des sous-sols est au coeur des discussions. Colombe Brossel, adjointe au maire chargée du patrimoine, parle des réunions qui s'enchaînent, entre Etat, mairie, experts et associations, afin d'établir une "doctrine" avant fin 2008.
Posted on 11/23/2008 12:31 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 23 November 2008
A Musical Interlude: Cooking Breakfast For The One I Love (Fanny Brice)
Posted on 11/23/2008 12:35 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 23 November 2008
Civil War in Ingushetia
Another example of what Samuel Huntington described as the bloody borders of Islam -- and bloody innards too. Russia will have to face reality soon. What a pity the Bush administration did not seek to establish an undertanding with Russia on Islam and privately to admit we were wrong to support the Chechens against Russia and the Muslims in the former Yugoslavia against the Serbs. President Bush could have gone to Beslan to signal this change in U.S. policy. But alas, it was not to be. From the BBC (with thanks to Alan):
Human rights activists and opposition politicians in Russia's southern republic of Ingushetia have told the BBC that the predominantly Muslim region is now in a state of civil war.
It is reported that more than 800 people have been killed in an escalating conflict which originally spilt over from neighbouring Chechnya six years ago.
Ingushetia is a tiny region with a total population of just 300,000.
"A lot of my human rights colleagues and politicians say it is now a civil war and I agree with that," Magomed Mutsolgov, director of the Ingush Human Rights organisation Mashr, says.
"In my opinion it is a war between the security forces and the local population. Many members of the security forces consider themselves above the law and the population outside the law," he adds.
A low-level insurgency involving Muslim fighters escalated dramatically last year with a surge of attacks on the security forces and also on people who have moved into the region from other parts of Russia.
"From July or August last year there have been three or four attacks every week," Tanya Lokshina, of Human Rights Watch, says. She recently compiled a major report on Ingushetia.
"There are a few hundred insurgents in total… who are Jihadists fighting to establish a Caliphate in the (Caucasus) region."...
Posted on 11/23/2008 8:19 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 23 November 2008
Iran Executes "Spy," Arrests Blogger
The leaders of Iran may be paranoid, but that only makes them more dangerous. New Duranty:
TEHRAN — Iran has executed a man convicted of spying for Israel, the semiofficial Fars news agency reported Saturday.
The agency reported that Ali Ashtari was executed by hanging on Monday. It said he was arrested in 2006 and confessed during his trial in June to spying for Israel through security and telecommunication equipment.
Iranian news media reported in June that Mr. Ashtari, 45, had received a death sentence for spying. At the time, newspapers said he had been the manager of a company selling communication and security equipment to the Iranian government.
An Israeli official said in June that Israel had no knowledge of his case.
Tension between Iran and Israel has escalated in recent months over Iran’s nuclear program. Israel has not ruled out launching a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Iran does not recognize Israel as a state and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has spoken of Israel with hostility since his election in 2005.
A Web site affiliated with the Iranian Intelligence Ministry has reported that a high-profile blogger, Hossein Derakhshan, was also arrested this month and accused of spying for Israel. Judiciary officials have not confirmed his arrest but the Web site, Jahan News, reported that he had confessed to spying for Israel.
Mr. Derakhshan, an Iranian-Canadian, had lived in Canada since 2000 but moved back to Tehran a few weeks ago. He traveled to Israel in 2007 and wrote about it on his blog.
Abraham Rabinovich, an Israeli journalist who interviewed Mr. Derakhshan in Jerusalem two years ago, described him in an op-ed article for The International Herald Tribune on Friday as an “Iranian patriot” who through his blog “offered the first views of ordinary life in Israel that Iranians had been able to see.”
Mr. Rabinovich quoted Mr. Derakhshan as saying: “I want to humanize Israel for Iranians and tell them it’s not what the Islamic propaganda machine is saying, that Israelis are thirsty for Muslim blood. And I want to show Israel that the average Iranian isn’t even thinking about doing harm to Israel.”
Posted on 11/23/2008 8:56 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 23 November 2008
Putting the boot in
Shopping on the internet is usally very easy. I do most of my Christmas shopping on it. If it is some obscure computer game for a child, the shopping is easier still: the child's mother emails a link to the product in question and I "buy with 1-click", making it two clicks in all. Online retailers, understandably make it easy for us. Except on those rare occasions when they make it very hard.
The Spectator's Melissa Kite tries to order some boots over the web:
I [...] looked up the website for the brand name inside the boot, Kennel & Schmenger. The front page was all black except for a picture of a woman holding a shoe, over which various square shapes were sliding. The only way of getting any further than the front page was by expert manipulation of the computer mouse to balance the avatar precisely over the shoe in the second when the square shapes revealed it and clicking before it disappeared again. It took me many attempts but eventually I forced entry into the next page. This was black with a piercing light flashing out of a logo in the middle. The logo expanded ominously, until it morphed into a whole line of moving shoes and boots. They were sliding ever rightwards in a relentless parade that was unfeasibly terrifying. I flapped about with the mouse and managed to make the arrow stick on one of the boots. No sooner had I nailed it than the boot shot rightwards and the parade recommenced. I tried again, and again. Eventually I worked out that even if you managed to stop a boot moving for a second, clicking on it did absolutely nothing. All that happened was that the boot got bigger for a second before shrinking back into line. There was no way of ordering it. It was boot pornography.
Gripped by a maddening frustration I clicked the mouse on everything else on the screen. The line of words across the bottom did not make much sense — ‘backstage’, ‘press’, ‘contact’, ‘login’ and ‘impressum’. ‘Impressum’ was an address in Germany. ‘Login’ was a deeply forbidding page asking for Kundennummer und Passwort. ‘Press’ was four identical pictures of a smug looking woman wearing some K&S boots not dissimilar to the ones I was trying to order as if to torment me. ‘Backstage’ was a page bearing the following legend: ‘Shoes are the most individuell of all means of transportation — and the one that is closest to us all. Kennel and Schmenger has opted for quality becausewe [sic] believe our customers feet are too important for us to make any compromises.’ Very moving, I’m sure. And I wasn’t asking for compromises, I really wasn’t. Just a way of buying some boots. As it was I was no closer to owning a pair of high quality ‘individuell means of transportation’ than when I started.
But I still had ‘contact’. Surely this would yield something. I clicked and a list of countries came up. Austria, Finland, Great Britain, Lebanon, Luxembourg. I selected Great Britain and a list of towns flashed up from Aberdeen to Leeds. This was odd. Another L town was half visible at the bottom of the screen. London! I tried to move the list down to reach it but it would not go. It had got stuck half way through the alphabet and would not budge. I crashed my mouse about so violently I sent books and papers and pens and paperclips flying off the desk. The cat darted out of the study in anticipation of a major incident. No matter what I did I could not manipulate the icons to display anywhere further down the alphabet than L. My options, therefore, when I reviewed them, were to visit stockists in Douglas Isle of Mann, Kilmarnock, Leichtenstein or Lebanon. The thing is, I really, really want these boots. In any case, I hear Beirut is quite nice this time of year.
Posted on 11/23/2008 9:04 AM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 23 November 2008
Somalia sinks deeper into a state of total disintegration
Even deeper? How can this be possible? From The Observer, with thanks to Alan:
Zam Zam Abdi fled Mogadishu after being threatened with death by the hardline Islamist militia - the Shabab. The message from the armed group once allied to the Union of Islamic Courts, the coalition that briefly seized power in 2006, was simple: if she continued working for her women's rights organisation in the Somali capital, she would be killed. The warning was posted on her office gates. But it is what happened to a friend and colleague, working for another organisation, that persuaded her to escape. He was shot dead and the same note left on his body.
'Most of us had to leave,' she said. 'We had emails and phone calls telling us to stop working. They used an expression famous in Somalia: Falka aad ku jirtid maka baxeeysa. May ama haa? It means - "Stop what you are doing or we will act. Yes or no?" Then someone spoke on the radio - a local leader called Sheikh Mahmoud - delivering the same warning.'
Somalia is not so much a failed state as one that is atomising. Forty-three per cent of the country is in dire need of humanitarian assistance, about 3.2 million people at the last count. There are 1.3 million internally displaced, 100,000 of them fleeing the fighting in Mogadishu alone since the beginning of September. Inflation is running at 1,600 per cent. One in six children in southern and central Somalia is acutely malnourished.
Dozens of aid workers, most of them locals, have been murdered this year, largely by members of the Shabab. According to the Shabab, even locals who take money from the UN are therefore in the pay of foreign interests and enemies to be killed.
Mogadishu and other centres have been hit by suicide attacks - merely one aspect of an intensely violent society. There is the religious conflict between the factions of the Islamic Courts allied to the Shabab and those they regard as insufficiently Islamic. Then there are the ever-present clan conflicts, at the centre of which is the rivalry between the Hawiye and the Darod groups. Added to this is the battle between the Transitional Federal government backed by Ethiopia and the Islamic Courts.
These conflicts are underscored by complex, interleaving rivalries even within the Islamist factions which have pitted the Shabab - literally the 'Youth' - against the more moderate Djibouti faction. On top of all this has been the mushrooming of criminal activity, piracy, smuggling and people-trafficking, some of it linked to groups such as the Shabab. Foreign jihadi fighters have also been attracted into the chaos. The consequence has been a disaster.
Other than stop the piracy, there is nothing the West can - or should - do. Here, from a post in August, is Kevin Myers' harsh, but realistic verdict on Somalia:
[A] fine land of violent, Kalashnikov-toting, khat-chewing, girl-circumcising, permanently tumescent layabouts.
And pirates. And rape-vicitim-stoning Imams.
Posted on 11/23/2008 10:01 AM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 23 November 2008
From the irrefutable findings of a computer program that assigns probabilities, based on stylistic analysis, to the proposition that the author is a man or, failing that, at the very least a woman:
"Hugh Fitzgerald: 95% male"
Well, well, well. Suddenly I feel different. Suddenly I hear the jingle of imaginary spurs as I throw open the swinging doors of my imaginary saloon and stride in, looking to start a fight with Black Bart and his whole gang of blackguards and bezonians. Striding up to the bar, looking neither right nor left: "Gif me a viskey, ginger ale on the side, and don't be stingy, baby."
And for so long I was under the apprehension -- clearly a misapprehension, I now see -- that I was the merely the embodiment of the new womanly man, in the line started by descendent-less Leopold Bloom, son of Rudolf Virag, a Hungarian Jew whose wife would in Buda or Pesht have been "Viraga," not only a mock-feminine form of "Virago" (and shouldn't the womyn-publishing-womyn of Virago Press have called it "Viraga" Press?) but, I now notice, a perfect anagram of "Viagra." Coincidence? There is no such thing as a coincidence.
No, I'm tough, I'm rough, don't mess with me. I've got the grammar and syntax to prove it.
As for that elderly lady who sometimes takes pity on me at the gym, the one who helps me on and off the treadmill so gently -- well, she's going to hear about this.
Tests don’t lie, of course, so imagine how extra-reliable such testosterone tests must be.
Posted on 11/23/2008 10:54 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 23 November 2008
The Muslim State Of Somalia
"Forty-three per cent of the country is in dire need of humanitarian assistance." --from the article linked below
One hundred per cent of the country of Somalia, in fact, is in dire need of humanitarian assistance. And the very best, and in the end most effective, humanitarian assistance that the Infidels of the world can offer is to do nothing. For by doing nothing, by allowing chaos and confusion, by showing to the Muslims of Somalia, and to Muslims elsewhere, and to non-Muslims all over the world, that the natural condition of people raised in societies suffused with Islam, societies in which there is no non-Muslim population to exploit or from which to extort the jizyah, direct or disguised, and no outside Infidels to constantly rescue Muslims, through infusions of aid and a bringing of a semblance of good government and order (and sometimes this has been the legacy of the very brief period of what is called, quite inaccurately in the case of the Arab states,"Western imperialism") the natural state of homo islamicus, which is despotism or incessant warfare, or sometimes both at the same time.
The best "humanitarian assistance" is to recognize that Islam is the problem, and that until Islam has been exposed, shown up, as the true source for the political, economic, social, intellectual, and moral failures, of Muslim states and societies, any attempt to rescue Muslim states from the consequences of Islam will only weaken the West (and use up its own money, and distract itself from a proper analysis of the threat of Islam) and do nothing, in the long run, to help rescue Muslims from Islam.
The distempers of Muslim states have in some cases, especially in the tiny sheikdoms and in Saudi Arabia, been kept at bay, or disguised, by the vast and unearned largesse that comes from oil and gas deposits. But there is nothing splendid, nothing heartening, nothing encouraging about these plutocracies, these absurd qatars and kuwaits and abu dhabis, or those who batten on their proximity to the oil, the bahrains and the dubais. They are comical in their pretensions, and not one of them could last for a minute without Western, non-Muslim experts, of every kind, nor could their rulers last without access to the West, to education and medical care that only the West provides, and where those assorted emirs and beglerbegs and pashas buy their hotels particuliers and their Plantagenet hunting-lodges, in what for them (forget about visits to museums and churches and libraries -- that's what those silly Americans, with their touching respect for cultural artifacts of older civilizations, like to do) the fun-fair-cum-brothel of Western Europe.
Be a true humanitarian. Do nothing, nothing at all, not a dollar in aid, not a soldier on the ground, to rescue any Muslim country from the consequences of its own political and economic and social and moral and intellectual failures. Let it stew, and stew.
Of course, we can't prevent the rich Muslims -- the Saudis, the Emiratians, the Kuwaitis, the Qataris, and all the others -- from extending aid to Somalia or other poorer members of the Umma. But that's their affair. So let's give the rich members of the Umma the chance to show that famous Muslim solidarity that we hear so much about, but that seems to reveal itself only in a shared hatred of non-Muslims, not in any sharing among Muslims themselves.
Go right ahead, rich Muslims. Help out Somalia all you want. We won't stop you.
Posted on 11/23/2008 2:34 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 23 November 2008
A Musical Interlude: A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody (Rudy Vallee)
Posted on 11/23/2008 9:25 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald