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The French-American Foundation Weekly Brief
March 6, 2009
Despite recent reconciliation among party leaders and an agreement on candidates for the upcoming European elections, there is still "grumbling" behind the unified façade, according to Libération. Among the disagreements: the nomination of former Socialist deputy Vincent Peillon to head the Socialist list for the Southwest region of France. Peillon reportedly called his placement "heartbreaking," according to Rue89, though Libération pointed out that he later said that it was "the only region in which I wanted to run." Euronews analyzed the state of the Socialist Party in the run-up to European elections.
Agence France Presse reported that President Nicolas Sarkozy has chosen Pierre Lellouche as France's special envoy to Iraq and Afghanistan, the equivalent of recent U.S. appointee Richard Holbrooke. Le Nouvel Observateur analyzed the reasons why the president chose Lellouche, including his experience with NATO and his previous work in the region.
A proposed law that would give legal recognition to stepparents is causing a stir among some ministers because the law would also recognize parental status for same-sex couples, said Le Figaro. The bill, presented by Family Minister Nadine Morano, was criticized by Housing Minister Christine Boutin as a "roundabout way" of recognizing gay and lesbian parenthood, according to Libération.
La Croix reported that gay associations in France welcomed the law as a "positive step" in their efforts to legalize gay adoption.
Connexion reported that the Michelin guide has released its 100th edition. Agence France Presse interviewed Eric Frechon, the chef at Le Bristol, who received his third Michelin star in the latest edition.
Ilovepolitics.info asked whether the election of Barack Obama and the economic crisis mean that 2009 is "year zero" for the U.S. Republican party. Le Monde Diplomatique compared President Barack Obama's political philosophies to those of former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. The thinktank Terra Nova published a collection of articles on the rise of President Obama and analyzed how political leadership for minorities can be encouraged in France.
Euronews reported on British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's address to the U.S. Congress, in which he argued that the United States can lead the world out of the current economic crisis. During their first meeting at the White House, President Obama called the U.S.-British relationship "a bond that will not break."
Forbes gave Gordon Brown "ten tips" to bear in mind during his meeting with Obama.
The U.S. Treasury announced details of a rescue plan for American homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages, reducing some interest rates to as low as two percent, according to the Financial Times. Les Echos noted that the plan looks to help between seven to nine million households avoid foreclosure.
Le Monde Diplomatique explored the failed attempts at health care reform during the Clinton administration with a focus on the role of the tobacco, insurance, and pharmaceutical lobbies.
Business and Economy
The CAC40 underwent a "mini crash" according to Libération, with Capital.fr noting that the index dropped to its lowest level in six years. Boursier.com cited a report which found that the number of women in management positions in CAC40 has "stagnated" since last year. Cecilia García-Peñalosa, a researcher at CNRS, discussed the position of women in business and how public policy can encourage equality in hiring and salaries.
The Associated Press reported that ailing insurance giant AIG will received another $30 billion in government aid. The New York Times laid out the case for saving AIG, as argued by AIG. At Telos, John Danielssohn of the London School of Economics described the complex nature of determining financial risk and presented the "myth of the risk-o-meter."
National Public Radio reported that amid the economic crisis, the French farming sector remains economically viable and robust, even having trouble filling thousands of new positions each year.
Sir Howard Davies, director of the London School of Economics, argued that the UK could take a lesson from the French on the state's role in the economy. An analysis in the Washington Post argued that American capitalism won't be replaced by Socialism, but instead by "a more regulated, viable capitalism." In the New York Times, Roger Cohen concluded that "one France is enough."
Calls for a bailout from Eastern European members of the EU were rejected by Germany, Europe's largest economy, leading the New York Times to ask whether the economic crisis could threaten the idea of one Europe. Le Monde also asked whether the crisis will unravel European cohesion. Der Spiegel summarized the German press reaction to the meeting, with the Handelsblatt concluding that "the age of national economic policies in Europe is over." Other conclusions from the meeting can be found on the website of the Council of the European Union.
French Defense Minister Hervé Morin spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on the relationship between the United States, NATO, and the EU. France-Amérique noted that Morin outlined France's putative return to the NATO integrated military command. DefenseNews focused on the minister's call for greater cooperation among defense industries among EU members of NATO. He also commented that NATO cannot stay in Afghanistan indefinitely, an observation that Iranian Press TV interpreted as an explicit call for withdrawal. The Financial Times argued that a French return to NATO will mean that the alliance and the EU will have to work to clearly define their roles.
The International Herald Tribune reported that the Obama administration sent a secret letter to Russia suggesting that the United States would not deploy a missile defense system in Eastern Europe if Moscow would help stop Iran from developing long-range weapons. According to Russia Today, Russian President Demetri Medvedev said that any deal or exchange on Iran and missile defense was "unacceptable." A piece from Stratfor, however, argued that Russia wants "a grand bargain with the Americans, and they want it now."
Real Clear World published a list of the world's most influential women - among the most powerful were U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. La Presse Canadienne reported on Secretary Clinton's trip to Israel, where she announced that two envoys would be sent to Syria with the goal of eventually reestablishing a dialogue with Damascus. Le Parisien said that Clinton considers the creation of a Palestinian state "inevitable," and RFI analyzed what it sees as a "change in style" in American diplomacy in the Middle East. An analysis in Foreign Policy argued that Middle East peacemaking "has failed" and that it's time for "Plan B." Speaking at Sharm el Sheikh, President Sarkozy declared a "consistency of views" between France and the United States on the region, noting that "time is working against a peace agreement."
The views expressed in the preceding press coverage are solely those of the authors and do not reflect the views of the French-American Foundation nor its directors, officers, employees or representatives.
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