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The French-American Foundation Weekly Brief
May 29, 2009
The Financial Times reported that Claude Allègre, former socialist education minister and climate change skeptic, may be offered a position related to innovation and industry in the French government following the upcoming European elections. Environmentalists criticized the hypothetical appointment, including Nicolas Hulot, who told Le Journal du Dimanche that it would be difficult to reconcile Allègre's views with the recommendations of the Grenelle de l'environnement. L'Express provided reactions to the rumor from across the political spectrum. Les Echos reported Allègre's harsh words for his critics, saying that certain environmentalists were afraid of losing their state subsidies, and Le Figaro reported that the would-be minister has "no qualms" about voting for a UMP candidate in the European elections.
France Televisions hosted a one-hour debate focusing on the recently released report from the French-American Foundation Equality of Opportunity program focusing on employment. The four guests on the program were Program Director Ioanna Kohler, Daniel Sabbagh (scientific advisor to the program), Sarah Benichou (co-author of the report), and Philippe Bataille (sociologist at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales). The release of the report was particularly timely, as Yazid Sabeg, newly appointed commissioner for diversity and equal opportunity, recently submitted recommendations to President Nicolas Sarkozy on fostering equal opportunity in France.
The Church of Scientology is on trial for fraud and operating a pharmacy without a license, according to the Age, and a conviction could lead to a fine of up to €5 million. Le Monde reported that one of the principal plaintiffs, Aude-Claire Malton, gave testimony of her experiences with the church, which she said "destroyed [her]."
UMP spokesperson Frédéric Lefebvre introduced a measure that would allow workers on sick leave to work from home, according to Le Figaro. He eventually withdrew the proposed amendment, according to Europe1, after a significant outcry in the press, including an article from Rue89 that analyzed the "real reasons" for introducing such a measure.
- The Health Care Examiner: Universal health care in France.
- La Croix: Fighting for a better future for the banlieues.
Les Echos noted that President Barack Obama has nominated Sonia Sotomayor, a federal appeals court judge, to the Supreme Court to replace outgoing Justice David Souter. Radio-Canada noted that Sotomayor would be the first Hispanic judge on the court, and the Politique USA blog from L'Express praised the choice as bringing a "new type of experience" to the bench.
Poets & Writers reported the awarding of the 2009 Translation Prizes by the French-American and Florence Gould Foundations. France Today noted that the prizes seek to broaden the audience for French literature among new generations of readers and encourage American publishers to bring French texts to an English-reading audience. Jody Gladding and Elizabeth Deshays won in fiction for their translation of Small Lives by Pierre Michon (Archipelago Books) while Matthew Cobb and Malcolm DeBevoise won in nonfiction for Life Explained by Michel Morange (Yale University Press), according to the Three Percent literature blog from the University of Rochester. France-Amérique pointed out the prestige of the awards, calling them the "Oscars of translation."
Têtu reported that the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8, which restricted the definition of marriage in that state to opposite-sex couples. Le Nouvel Observateur described the reaction of gay marriage advocacy groups, who called it a "serious setback" in the quest for gay rights.
Radio Free Europe interviewed General David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. Central Command, who answered questions about enhanced interrogation techniques, the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, and strategies for fighting terrorism. World Politics Review looked at recent changes in the structure of the U.S. military meant to boost the Pentagon's ability to fight in low-intensity, "persistent" conflicts, as opposed to direct conflicts with "peer" opponents.
- Forbes: Is Obama another Jimmy Carter?
BUSINESS AND ECONOMY
Ouest-France noted that a bankruptcy filing for General Motors, one of the "Big Three" U.S. automakers, has become nearly certain after bondholders refused to exchange their debt for shares in the company. Le Figaro called the filing "unavoidable" and said that the U.S. government could inject up to $50 billion into the company and take 70 percent ownership.
The Washington Post analyzed France's system of generous social protections and the French government's dominant role in economic activity, which the paper said has shielded its citizens from the brunt of the economic crisis.
L'Expansion noted that U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood traveled to France to examine a French high-speed train, calling the country's rail system "magnificent." One in four of the trains, however, was out of service as railway staff joined a nationwide day of protest against the government's measures for dealing with the economic crisis, according to the Associated Press.
Bloomberg reported that France Telecom may abandon plans to buy an Egyptian mobile services operator after regulators rejected the deal. Apple iTunes customers may be able to download music across European borders, according to Retuers, after a French-based royalties authority agreed to wider licensing of its catalogue.
- CEPR: U.S. unemployment now as high as in Europe.
- Reuters: President Sarkozy and regulated oil prices.
France formally opened a military base in the United Arab Emirates, according to the BBC. Reuters pointed out that the facility is France's first in the Gulf region and that the two countries are considering multi-billion-dollar deals to supply the United Arab Emirates with nuclear power plants and advanced military aircraft. The Washington Post noted that the base is part of a shift in French military strategy, which will focus less on force projection in Africa and more on the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean. The National, a UAE newspaper, ran an editorial arguing that "France is a partner, not just a protector."
North Korea conducted a second nuclear test and test-fired short range missiles in defiance of the international community, according to the Associated Press. France strongly condemned the new test, said Nasdaq, and called for the UN Security Council to impose a new round of sanctions. The Wall Street Journal said that the test is renewing fears about the international arms trade and the smuggling of weapons of mass destruction.
France and Israel displayed public disagreement over the status of Jerusalem, said the Jerusalem Post, as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu asserted that the city will remain undivided, while the French responsed that Jerusalem should be a capital shared by Palestinians and Israelis. The French government said that the Israeli prime minister's declaration could "prejudice the possible outcome" of the Middle East peace process, according to the Associated Press.
Fenêtre sur l'Europe cited a survey that showed that only 43 percent of French people were "certain" to vote in the upcoming European election, though a vast majority - 80 percent - were favorable to the European project in general. The BBC asked families across Europe about their voting preferences for the election and explored the effect of generational differences on voting trends.
- Foreign Policy: Thinking again about child soldiers.
- GlobalPost: Modern slavery in France and elsewhere.
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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