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The French-American Foundation Weekly Brief
May 8, 2009
Euronews described the transfer of 430 inmates from a crumbling prison in Lyon to a new, state-of-the-art facility in the nearby city of Corbas, in an operation that involved more than 1,000 police and security personnel. Meanwhile, prison guards at Fleury-Mérogis, Europe's largest prison, set up barricades to protest overcrowding and violence against guards, according to the Connexion. Ouest-France described the violent clashes that occurred as gendarmes were called in to remove the barricades and allow the entry of 35 new inmates. The Telegraph describes the overcrowding and deterioration of French prison facilities, as well as what the latest unrest could mean for Justice Minister Rachida Dati.
Speaking in Nîmes, President Nicolas Sarkozy reaffirmed his opposition to Turkish accession to the European Union, using it as an issue to boost the UMP campaign for the upcoming European elections, according to Le Monde. Benoît Hamon, spokesman for the Socialist Party, expressed his fear that "protest votes" by leftists during the European elections could hand victory to the UMP. Meanwhile, Voice of America reported that the French government is looking for legal means to bar anti-Semitic comic Dieudonné from presenting a list in the European elections, and the BBC noted that he is soon to be tried for inciting hatred against Jews.
Le Figaro reported that France will accept a former detainee from the American facility at Guantanamo, an Algerian named Lakhdar Boumediene. Boumediene, who was eventually found innocent after seven years of detention, will be the first free prisoner to be accepted by a country in the European Union, according to Le Point.
Reuters analyzed the Sarkozy administration as it approaches its two-year anniversary, noting that behind some of the gloomy headlines, the administration has some points of strength moving into its third year. The Times of London discussed how the president's personal style, and the economic downturn, may both have contributed to current discontent with the presidency.
- Bloomberg : France eats and sleeps more.
- The New York Times: French satirists and political comedy in France.
La Croix described the difficult decision facing President Barack Obama as he nominates a new justice to the Supreme Court to replace Justice David Souter. Richard Hétu, the American politics blogger for Canadian Cyberpresse, noted the president's desire for a replacement with "heart and empathy," and Hétu also reported that some groups are pushing for the nomination of a gay justice.
Meanwhile, Le Nouvel Observateur reported that Governor John Baldacci of Maine signed a law legalizing gay marriage, making that state the fifth to give marriage rights to homosexual couples. Le Figaro noted that public opinion in the United States is becoming more and more accepting of gay marriage.
In the Financial Times, foreign affairs columnist Gideon Rachman argued that President Obama's "apologies" for the United States do not degrade America's standing in the world and that "willingness to acknowledge past American errors is a sign of strength, not of weakness."
At Le Ben Franklin Post, an online photo portfolio shows how the continuing economic crisis is slowing the flow of immigrants into the United States from Mexico.
- Brookings: Transforming America's community colleges.
- Le Point: Stress tests for American banks.
|BUSINESS AND ECONOMY
The Connexion explained the different French beneficiaries of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy, with businesses in France receiving about €10.3 billion in the last round. The Washington Post reported that French wine producers are up in arms after EU agricultural regulators decided that mixes of red and white wine can be sold as "rosé," a travesty to those French producers using the more traditional process.
In the New York Times Magazine, Russell Shorto described his life as an American expat in Holland and explained how he learned to stop worrying and love the European welfare state.
Le Nouvel Observateur looked at the condition of the 13.2 percent of the French population living below the poverty line. Gerd Häuser, head of the "Deutsche Tafel" food banks in Germany, spoke to Der Spiegel about increasing poverty in Germany and the danger of social unrest.
The Wall Street Journal reported that France is pushing for a stronger EU role in gas and banking regulation, including the creation of a central European agency to purchase gas so that the continent can increase its bargaining power with foreign suppliers. Le Point noted that the United States and the EU have finally come to an agreement on a 20-year trade dispute over hormone-treated beef.
- Nonfiction.fr: Youth and economic difficulty in France and elsewhere.
- The Times: America will still rule the post-crisis world.
Al Jazeera reported that a Sudan-backed rebel group advanced toward the Chadian capital of Ndjamena and clashed with government forces. According to Reuters, the Chadian military carried out airstrikes against rebel columns to prevent further incursions, and Agence France Presse reported that the Chadian foreign minister said the country was not seeking any immediate military aid from France. The French government noted that it was watching the situation carefully but there was no specific plan for a direction intervention by French forces, according to RFI.
Le Figaro reported that a French judge has opened investigations into the presidents of three Africa countries - Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and the Republic of the Congo - for properties in France that were purchased with public funds. Allafrica.com noted that the charges are based on auditor reports from 2007, which found that the heads of state held dozens of houses, apartments, hotels, and bank accounts in France.
A piece at the Wilson Quarterly argued that fears of the demographic decline of the Western world may be overblown and that population growth in the United States, France, and Britain will stay steady into the mid-century.
President Obama met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Zardari this week, in a tripartite summit during which all three leaders pledged to continue to combat extremism and fight Al Qaeda in Central Asia, according to France24. The Center for Strategic and International Studies provided a list of resources and "critical questions" for the president's Afghanistan-Pakistan meeting. An analysis in the Daily Star argued that any effective U.S. strategy in the region must fight poverty first.
- Project Syndicate: Where's Europe?
- Rue89: Le Pen will not preside over the European Parliament.
Ndlr: Last week's Weekly Brief incorrectly referred to Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero as a head of state. In Spain, King Juan Carlos I is the head of state, while Zapatero is the head of government. We regret the error.
|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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