Monday, November 14, 2005

French car-torching barometer reads "lull"

Car-torchings drop again, and French look to expand their emergency crack down/appeasement of rioters

PARIS, France (AP) -- France's Cabinet approved a bill Monday to extend the country's state of emergency for three months to crack down on a wave of arson attacks and riots, the government said.

The government declared a 12-day state of emergency Wednesday, empowering regions to impose curfews and conduct house searches. The measures had been set to expire on November 20.

The bill to prolong the state of emergency must now go before parliament.

"It's a measure of protection and precaution," President Jacques Chirac said at a Cabinet meeting, according to government spokesman Jean-Francois Cope. "It's a strictly temporary measure that will only be used where it is strictly necessary."

Speaking earlier on Europe-1 radio, Cope said the bill would leave open the possibility of ending the state of emergency if order is restored.

"I think that given all that has just happened, it is important for regional officials to have the means to act during a period that is limited, but long enough to ensure the serious attacks on public order that we have seen in the past days don't happen again," he said.

Overnight, the number of car-torchings -- a barometer of the unrest -- dropped dramatically, with youths setting fire to 284 vehicles, compared to 374 the previous night, police said Monday.

"The lull is confirmed," national police spokesman Patrick Hamon said. A week ago, 1,400 cars were incinerated in a single night.

The French spokes-hole went on to say that 374 cars destroyed is an average Tuesday night for typical French protests and riots. "Those wacky kids are just out having fun now. There is no more danger."

All kidding aside, they're finally getting on the right track if they're instituting emergency search and seizure type policies. After nearly 3 weeks worth of rioting I guess they figured that this might not just go away all by itself.