Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Only 163 Cars Burned

The French rioters torched the fewest number of cars last night since the riots officially began on October 27. "Only" 163 citizens had their cars destroyed last night. This is rapidly approaching the standard of 100 car burnings per night in France, suggesting the "crisis" may soon be extinguished from the news.

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin toured a riot-torn area and stated:
"'The situation remains serious in a great number of districts. We cannot accept that more than 200 cars burn each night,' he said.

Nearly 3 weeks of rioting had destroyed 8,500 vehicles, 100 public buildings. Some 2,800 people had been detained and 600 jailed, he said."
Apparently, however, the police are willing to lower the bar a bit further in a clear bid to declare an early victory:
"The unrest began on Oct. 27 with the accidental deaths of two youths apparently fleeing police but quickly engulfed tough suburbs in towns around France, although police said on Tuesday only 215 vehicles had been destroyed, an 'almost normal' level."
Previously, the police had given "100 per night" as the "normal" level of car burnings in France, but now 215 is "almost normal." Although de Villepin says "more than 200" is unacceptable, there may be some wiggle room here. Perhaps as many as 199 could be tolerated.

Here's a shocker from the same article:
"National Police service chief Michel Gaudin told the Le Monde newspaper that 80 percent of those arrested for rioting were already known to police."
Who knew that the rioting "youngsters" (as this article again calls them) had criminal backgrounds. We thought they were just "angered by racism and unemployment."

Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy remains surprisingly frank for a politician:
"Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy told the assembly the country was confronting one of its most acute and complex urban crises. 'The suburbs are not another France, the suburbs are not France on television,' he said. 'The suburbs are France as it is, as we have built it and as we have run it for 30 years.'"
According to FBI statistics in all of 2004 there were 68,245 cases of arson in the entire USA. Of these approximately 30% involved the burning of a motor vehicle. That works out to about 56 car burnings per day in the entire US. The population of France is about 1/5 th that of the US.

The 2004 US arson rate was the worst in cities 250,000 or larger: 48.8 arsons per 100,000 for the year. Presumably, about 30% of these would also be car burnings. At this rate a single US city the size of France would have about 24 car burnings per day, although the actual rate is slightly lower for cities over 1,000,000. The French authorities can only dream of getting back to "just" 100 car burnings a day.

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