Empire, c’est magnifique!

An interesting episode in the French Assemblée Nationale, not a place prone to interesting episodes. The UMP – Chirac’s party – have blocked an attempt by the left to repeal a provision in a proposed law that requires schools to put a positive spin on the French empire, particularly in North Africa.

The provision, which will now stand, stipulates:

“Les programmes scolaires reconnaissent en particulier le rôle positif de la présence française outre-mer, notamment en Afrique du Nord, et accordent à l’histoire et aux sacrifices des combattants de l’armée française issus de ces territoires la place éminente à laquelle ils ont droit.”

Compare Niall Ferguson’s series on the British Empire. Le Figaro discusses.

Carbon cards

The BBC website discusses an intriguing idea – personal tradeable carbon allowances. The principle is the same as that used for large companies – you have an allowance, and if you exceed it you have to buy more, if you stay within it you can sell your surplus.

I think it’s a fascinating idea, myself – strong resemblance to rationing during the war, and might produce a similar community cohesion (though doubtless also a similar black market).

Trebles all round!

The Argus reports that Conservative clubs in Sussex (not part of the Tory party officially, but a related organisation) have been revelling in longer opening hours, despite the party’s threats of death, destruction and mayhem.

US Congressman resigns after massive backhander spree

The member of the House of Representative for the San Diego area has resigned, after admitting to taking almost $2.5m in bribes from defence contractors. Brown envelopes were not for Randy Cunningham – they don’t come that big – rather, he just let defence contractors buy him a house, pay for his daughter’s graduation, and, oh yes, buy him a Roller.

Reports in the San Diego Union Tribune, and on The Fix at the Washington Post.

Last words of executed prisoners

A harrowing site for a Friday evening, this is a Texas state government site, listing the offences and last statements of executed prisoners.

Reading through them, two things occurred to me. First, while most last statements are thanks, a few statements are strong declarations of a perceived injustice, as pithy or as elegant in their way as “to the health of fair Kritias” (example). Second, the original offences leading to the murders which the state is killing these people are often tiny, trivial things – theft, mostly (of $5,000, a car, $220 etc.). So much for the deterrent effect of the death penalty.