False Alarm Delays London-Bound Plane at Paris Airport


A false security alarm delayed on Sunday a British Airways plane at Paris’ international airport.

Police and firefighters checked the plane on the tarmac of the Charles de Gaulle airport after reports of a security threat, which turned out to be a false alarm.

A spokesman for France’s national gendarme service said police and firefighters rushed to the scene after receiving a “security alert.”

Passengers were evacuated from Flight BA303 at Charles de Gaulle airport before it was due to fly to London for what officials said was a security reason.

The spokesman said each passenger and each bag was checked and the plane was thoroughly examined but no threats were found.

He would not elaborate on the nature of the original alert. The spokesman was not authorized to be publicly named according to gendarme policy.

“The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our top priority. Additional security checks are being carried out as a precaution,” British Airways said in a statement when asked about the flight.

One passenger on the plane said it was surrounded by dozens of armed officers and firefighters.

James Anderson, a 20-year-old entrepreneur on the flight from Paris to London’s Heathrow Airport, told The Associated Press that the pilot initially told passengers there were technical issues.

After about an hour, he said passengers were told the aircraft had to move to another part of the airport and that’s when security officers surrounded the plane.

“The pilot then said there had been a direct security threat involving our flight,” Anderson told the AP.

France’s Cultural Elite Lose their Historic Clout in the City of Light


London – Political observers are in almost complete agreement that the social movement that accompanied the recent French presidential elections led to unprecedented changes in the political structure of the country not witnessed since the end of World War II. At the time, Charles de Gaulle assumed power and expanded the privileges of the president, thereby paving the way for what is now known as the Fifth Republic.

It has become clear that the French people have lost patience with traditional politicians and their traditional parties with all of their endless disputes and conspiracies. They have instead turned towards a non-partisan president, who appeared on the French scene about a year ago. He is faced with an opposition that is built on the legacy of the Vichy government and coup leaders of the Algeria war.

Major French politicians were not the only victims of this major upheaval. Along with them fell one of the most important aspects French life, one that has been with it since the French Revolution: the voice of the French cultural and intellectual elite. It became clear amid the domination of the liberals and the extreme right voices that no one in France now listens to what the cultured have to say. The cultural elite have withdrawn with their thoughts and theories into the shadows. They have returned to their universities and specialized centers without leaving a mark on the recent developments.

This is not the France of Jean-Paul Sartre and we are no longer in the position of intellectual leadership of the country, commented French philosophy professor. Sartre was the famed leftist philosopher who led the Paris student marches in 1968. Even when he was arrested on charges of civil disobedience, de Gaulle, who was then president, was quick to issue a pardon and release him, telling his men: “France cannot arrest Voltaire.”

De Gaulle’s stance was the best demonstration that France has always distinguished itself from other European countries in that its cultured elite have affected political and social developments. This elite has stood against popular movements and intellectual currents, often ones to the left of the governing body, and defended the poor, the workers and the marginalized, and even the victims of French colonialism.

These cultural figures can trace their roots back to Voltaire, the searing critic of the institutional elite. He was followed by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, whose thoughts on the social contract paved the way for the French Revolution in the 18th century. Victor Hugo expressed the voice of the miserable and marginalized of the 19th century, while Emile Zola, the 20th century novelist and journalist, faced the highest levels of power in the affair of Jewish officer Dreyfus. He wrote his acclaimed article “J’Accuse”, which landed him in jail, but he later went on self-imposed exile in London. Sociologist Pierre Bourdieu spent a part of his life leading railway worker strikes and Sartre, the philosopher, was the voice of global leftist issues in the heart of Paris. Albert Camus inspired the generation of the angry 1960s and Michel Foucault altered the nature of general discussions in France, bringing up issues of reforming prisons and the penal code. Jean Baudrillard was the example of the regular Frenchman who exposed the fraud of capitalism. Even at the beginning of the 21st century, French cultural figures preserved their impact on their country. Former President Nicolas Sarkozy consulted the neo-right philosophy of Bernard-Henri Levy when he decided to take part in the ouster of Libya leader Muammar al-Gadhafi in 2011.

Observers attribute this shift in thought to the wave in turning to the right that is dominating western sentiment and which has left its mark among voters, as it did in Britain and its Brexit and in the United States with the election of Donald Trump as president.

This wave was not born out of nothing, but it was a product of the severe depression that plagued the left cultured figured after years of global socialist experiences in the 1980s. The experiences led to their isolation and popular blocs shifted their attention to right, who turned the social conflict from a horizontal divide into a vertical one. There is no doubt that the major disappointment in the rule of the socialists in recent years, before the election of Emmanuel Macron last week, did not help many French people in avoiding falling for the chauvinist popular right spider web.

A quick scan of French bestselling books gives clear evidence of this. At the top of non-literary books lists were the works of Alain Finkielkraut, author of “The Unhappy Identity”, who argued that France is surrendering to Islamists under the excuse of tolerance and liberalism. Éric Zemmour, author of “The French Suicide,” believes that France has lost its identity and called for a return to the golden age of the past.

Even literature bestsellers are focusing on the right. Michel Houellebecq’s book, “Submission,” spoke of the election of a Muslim candidate as president of France in 2022, sparking wide debate in the country. The neoliberal media in France paved the way for such publications to be the focus of talk shows without offering the position of the opposing view. Propaganda, similar to the one in the United States, is now taking center stage in the city of lights. This will likely create further divides between the true French intellectuals and the popular blocs.

There are still intellectuals and philosophers in France, but it seems that they have lost their position as moral guides of this nation, which is inevitably a personal loss for each one of them. The greatest loser however is the entire French nation, including its governing elite, which in the future will find itself at the helm of a republic without a conscience to deter it.

Heathrow, Charles de Gaulle, Amsterdam: Busiest European Airports in 2016

Brussels- The terrorist attack at the Brussels International Airport in March has led to a downgrade in its ranking among European airports in terms of annual passenger numbers.

The airport was ranked 26th, dropping five places compared to last year.

It received an estimate of 22 million passengers in 2016, 7% less than the registered figure in 2015. This led to Brussels International Airport dropping from its rank against other airports such as Manchester Airport, Stockholm Arlanda Airport and Vienna International Airport.

Brussels South Charleroi Airport came in 63rd position, dropping from rank 61 in 2015. The rankings of Ostend-Bruges International Airport and Liege Airport remained unchanged in 179th place and 184th place, respectively.

The European airport with the highest number of passengers was London’s Heathrow Airport, with 76 million passengers in 2016. This is ahead of Charles de Gaulle in Paris having 66 million and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol which saw 64 million passengers.

In November 2016, the number of movements at Brussels Airport grew by 3% compared to the same period in 2015 — the number of passengers received reached 1.7 million.

This was the first time Brussels Airport administration talks about a record rise since the bombings that killed 32 and injured 300.

Following the attacks, strict security measures were imposed at the airport and caused a reduction in the number of flights and passengers, namely Europeans. Some have canceled their flights while others are still avoiding travelling via Brussels Airport, especially those arriving from the U.S., Japan and China.

Cargo flights also increased more than 15%, as revealed by Belgian media, which added that flights decreased around 1.5% compared to last November but the average of passengers grew from 106 to 111 per flight.

Lessons From a Grand Master

Lee Kuan Yew is 89 years old and his health is failing, but his interviews with two Harvard professors over the years have recently been collated and immortalized in a book, with both authors considering the Singaporean leader to be a “grand master” of the modern day. In the book, Kuan says that he has three heroes: Charles de Gaulle, Winston Churchill, and Deng Xiaoping. The reason behind his selection is that these three men were powerful at times when their countries were weak. De Gaulle rescued France from Marshal Philippe Pétain’s treacherous dealings with the Nazi occupation, and Churchill led Britain to victory under Hitler’s bombardment. As for Xiaoping, he changed the Chinese state from one of poverty and famine into a nation that is now among the most advanced countries in the world.

Leadership is an innate talent, whereas management can be acquired through practice. True leaders are something of a rarity, as has been the case throughout the ages.

Later in the book, Kuan reveals that he does not expect China to someday be ranked as the world’s most prominent nation for three main reasons: Firstly, it speaks a difficult language that others will struggle to adapt to. Secondly, China is not a liberal state; corruption is rife and accountability is limited. Thirdly, if China was to become more liberal, it would disintegrate. For the past five thousand years, China has grown accustomed to autocracy and the absolute rule of the emperor, or what we call the pharaoh.

Kuan built Singapore through strong policies and disciplined economic openness. Because his country is a small one—which needs the help of others more than they need it—Kuan installed English as the country’s official language. For him, there was no time to waste in translations, or in deciphering hieroglyphics or mysterious languages. India had made similar moves earlier. Furthermore, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian leaders believed that a potential solution to their plight may be to recognize English as a second language, as is the case with the French, although they would never admit this openly. As for Ireland, it still preserves its ancient Gaelic language; however it is never used to communicate with those beyond its shores.

There are several potential empires that, in my view, have been hindered by their own language: Japan, Germany, and China for example. Let us here consider the historical case of Britain and its establishment of the East India Company. The company’s primary cargo was language, for the British Isles did not produce anything, even fish, but they knew how to market the goods and natural resources of others.

Finally, Kuan also reveals in the book that he suspects American society will collapse someday. An American individual has numerous rights but few responsibilities, and American politicians say and do anything just in order to win elections. For Kuan, a man who—like his heroes—was once stronger than his own country, this is a situation that cannot last forever.