Archive for August 12th, 2010

In my youth I read Hurricane Betty rained fishes all across the coastal areas. Everyone from Montana to Arkansas drove down to see the rare sight. I also joined the bandwagon to see the miracle, There was a crush alright. Not one among them was a fisher man. I asked an oil rigger from Texas if he ever fished for fun. He said, “Dirty my hand with dem fishes? No sirree!” The BP has made people change their habits I guess. I just got back from Louisiana and I see nothing but fishermen who are queuing all the way from Appalachia to the harbor for a handout.

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France was a divided house where neither Labour nor the extreme Right felt at home with the Republic. Trade unionism was still bitterly resisted by the employers and the government trying to appease its radical or socialist wing failed to please any. No wonder six governments fell one after the other in two years!
In 1933 when Edouard Daladier rook reins the Third Republic there was some sigh of Relief. With a day after he assumed office across the border Hitler became the Chancellor. Thus in Europe still groggy from Post-Depression the Third Republic had to face another worry: rowdy and anti-parliamentary parties taking to streets imitating the Black Shirts in Fascist Italy and the Brown shirts in Germany. These loose cannons were to be used by the powerful business and financial groups for their own ends. There were those in the Army who were still Royalists at heart, General Weygand for example. He was the Commander -in-chief of the Army at odds with the constantly changing Republican governments. It took no stretch of imagination to find who were the backers for Marshal Petain, the hero of Verdun. He had lost faith in the Republic. So did other surviving marshals, Lyautey and Franchet d’Esperey who were affected by the intellectual revolt of the Right against Parliament. On January10th 1934 the Rightist La Victoire asked in bold letters in the first page:”Who is the leader who will emerge in France, as he emerged in Italy and Germany?”
Events were marching inexorably towards recalling Philippe Petain to head the War Office under a Radical Gaston Doumergue. Pierre Laval incidentally became the Minister of Colonies in the new government. How this ageing Marshal (78 year old) and the extreme Left-Wing pacifist could make a common cause cannot be explained but by the Vichy government that epitomized all the inherent faults in the public life of France. Moral force of a nation changes shapes with such disparate figures making their exits and entries, and no one may remain impervious to it. He who took advantages of opportunities presented shall never know what dealt him the unkindest blow when disaster strikes.

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