November 12, 2012

Kelly McParland: US and French attitudes to affairs differ markedly

Filed under: Europe, France, Media, USA — Tags: — Nicholas @ 12:28

In the National Post, Kelly McParland contrasts the French reaction to affairs on the part of public officials with the American reaction:

In Paris they must be busily turning the pages now, looking for the rest of the story. Yes, OK, he had an affair … and? You mean that’s it? He didn’t murder her? Have three children that he kept in a secret location away from the press? Involve her in sex games with crowds of similarly liberated-minded partners? They had an affair and he has to quit as head of the CIA? Mon dieu, these Americans. Four hundred years in the New World and they’ve barely moved on from the Puritans. Look, they’re even shocked that the other woman appeared on television “sporting bare, toned arms”. What did they expect, a chador?

France has moved on marginally from the days when President Francois Mitterrand could have a whole secret second family, and no one mentioned it in public because it wouldn’t be polite. Now the press leaps happily onto news of sexual licence in the halls of power. Unlike the U.S., they just don’t condemn it, as long as no one is physically abused. The latest instance – they don’t even use the world scandal, because in France it isn’t — relates to the former justice minister, Rachida Dati, who is suing one of the country’s wealthiest men to try and force him to admit he’s the father of her new daughter. The case is a bit complicated because, as Ms. Dati attests, she has “a complicated private life.” That would include, according to the attorney for Dominique Desseigne, the alleged father, having eight lovers in the year she fell pregnant, “including a television broadcaster, a minister, a Qatari attorney-general and a brother of the former president Mr Sarkozy,” reports the French newspaper Le Monde.

Nicolas Sarkozy was the president at the time, and Ms. Dati’s boss. He wasn’t likely to be butting into her private life, though, having given up his own wife in favour of singer/model Carla Bruni. Ms. Bruni has recently been offering marital advice – as in “get married for Cripe sakes” – to Valerie Trierweiler, current First Partner-for-a-While to President Francois Hollande, who has four children by a previous Main Partner, Ségolène Royal. (Ms. Royal is only a Main Partner rather than a First Partner because Hollande wasn’t president at the time.) Dumping the mother of your four children for an uppity newspaper columnist like Ms. Trierweiler might offend sensibilities, but M. Hollande never married Ms. Royal either, so no big deal. Nonetheless Ms. Trieweiler has become deeply unpopular since moving into the presidential palace, because she refuses to give up her day job as a columnist and because she’s been rude to Ms. Royal. The messy sex stuff has nothing to do with it.

Compared to the Bacchanalia of French politics, the Petraeus “scandal” is like a high-school tiff over who gets to wear the football captain’s pin to the Prom.

Vikings defence emerges from witness protection program to mug Detroit 34-24

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:24

All the early signs of team collapse were visible: top cornerback out for several weeks with a broken arm, top receiver out for at least a week with an ankle injury, team morale fading after two ugly losses… and in spite of all that, the Vikings managed to pull a quite convincing win out of the hat. The top performance for the Vikings was Adrian Peterson’s 171 yards on 27 carries, while Detroit’s Megatron (Calvin Johnson) tallied 207 yards receiving on 12 catches. The most pleasant surprise of the day was the very impressive debut of wide receiver Jarius Wright, whose first NFL reception went for 54 yards and his second reception was the first TD of the game.

Christopher Gates at the Daily Norseman:

Had I told you earlier on in the day that not only would the Minnesota Vikings not have Percy Harvin for their game this afternoon against the Detroit Lions, but they would complement that by allowing Calvin Johnson to go over 200 yards receiving and to get just his second touchdown reception of the year (and his first from Matthew Stafford) … how many points would you have told me the Vikings would lose by?

Well, it turns out that they didn’t lose at all. In fact, they won the game by ten points, with the Lions getting a touchdown towards the end of the game for purely cosmetic purposes. Sure, Stafford got over 300 yards passing, and Johnson went berzerk as I mentioned … but in the end, it didn’t matter. The Minnesota Vikings did what they had to do when they needed to do it, and they swept a divisional opponent for the first time since 2009 as a result. So how did it happen?

The BBC’s nightmare scenario

Filed under: Britain, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 08:58

Emily Bell outlines the existential crisis the BBC suddenly finds itself embroiled in:

[BBC director general George] Entwistle’s resignation on Saturday was directly linked to a report broadcast by Newsnight on November 2 that misidentified a public figure allegedly involved in a child abuse scandal. The report, connected to an already broiling scandal, did not make things any worse, theoretically, for Thompson. But the BBC he left is now facing a very serious challenge to its future and independence.

The turmoil at the BBC started with a revelation involving a now-dead TV presenter and public figure, Jimmy Savile, who is accused of molesting possibly hundreds of children. US commentators have tried to explain Savile to the domestic audience, but there really is no parallel here. […] The allegations against Savile were being investigated by Newsnight last year, but its editor, Peter Rippon, decided not to run the investigation on the grounds that the evidence was not sound enough. Subsequently, rival broadcaster ITV pulled together a documentary carrying the allegations against Savile, making the BBC’s decision not to run the original piece seem both flawed and possibly compromised. Just as Entwistle succeeded Thompson as director general, the story of how the BBC had shelved its piece broke.

[. . .]

The most preposterous and fitting denouement to the whole horrible affair happened when, in an attempt to prove itself institutionally robust, Newsnight commissioned a second piece into another child abuse scandal. The show broadcast its investigation on November 2, conducted with the London-based Bureau for Investigative Journalism. Including details about an alleged pedophile, the report led to the misidentification of a former member of a Conservative government as being involved in a North Wales care-home scandal after the central witness interviewed misidentified his abuser. Failing to conduct a sufficiently thorough cross-checking of the victim’s evidence, or even to show him a picture of the former politician, were basic journalistic errors. To make matters worse, the Bureau’s editorial head, Iain Overton, had foreshadowed the “exclusive” by tweeting about it earlier in the day. So in scrambling to address the perception that it was timid in breaking stories about pedophilia, Newsnight’s overcompensation has led to a potentially ruinous situation of the BBC creating false rumors.

There are two separate issues in play with all this that have become toxically intertwined. One is the existence of an endemic culture of child abuse in a number of British institutions, and the other is about the editorial independence and journalistic future of the BBC.

Firefox users more likely to stay on old version longer than other browser users

Filed under: Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 08:47

John Leyden summarizes the recent findings about how quickly users update their web browsers after a new release:

Nearly one in four netizens are using outdated web browsers and are therefore easy pickings for viruses and exploit-wielding crooks.

The average home user upgrades his or her browser to the latest version one month after it is released, according to a survey of 10 million punters. Two thirds of those using old browser software are simply stuck on the version prior to the latest release — the remaining third are using even older code.

Internet Explorer is the most popular browser (used by 37.8 per cent of consumers), closely followed by Google Chrome (36.5 per cent). Firefox is in third place with 19.5 per cent.

Firefox users tend to be the worst for keeping up to date with new software releases, according to the survey by security biz Kaspersky Lab. The proportion of users with the most recent version installed was 80.2 per cent for Internet Explorer and 79.2 per cent for Chrome, but just 66.1 per cent for Firefox.

Old-codgers Internet Explorer 6 and 7, with a combined share of 3.9 per cent, are still used by hundreds of thousands of punters worldwide.

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