Don't believe France's reputation as a country where sexual peccadillos are always overlooked. After a vote by the country's National Assembly on Wednesday, it has just joined a growing group of European nations where buying sex is now illegal. France is not alone in its fresh efforts to curb prostitution. The move follows similar bans in Sweden and Norway, while other European countries are also scaling back laissez-faire prostitution policies. Germany is poised to change its liberal sex trade laws, while Ireland is also debating a measure similar to France's. Is the end of legal prostitution in Europe in sight?
(Don't miss the deep and interesting links found within the article.)[more inside]
France has a new president. With 51.9% of the second-round vote, François Hollande has beaten Nicolas Sarkozy to become the first Socialist president of France since 1995. In his victory speech, Hollande declared that "austerity is not inevitable," but international business interests have already started rumbling about Hollande's plans for higher taxes on the rich and large-scale public sector investment. The change in power is to be effected in next ten days, with Hollande scheduled to appear at the G8 and NATO summits on May 19 and 20.
The State of France has banned prayers in public starting Friday in a move widely seen as being targeted at (what might be) the largest Muslim community in Western Europe. [more inside]
A law has come into force in France which makes it an offence for a Muslim woman to conceal her face behind a veil when in public. [more inside]
Didn’t you notice the palpable difference between what is happening in Libya and what is happening elsewhere?
"[T]he real target of Western bombers and soldiers is in no way the wretched Gaddafi...For the target of the bombers is definitely the popular uprising in Egypt and the revolution in Tunisia, it is their unexpected and intolerable character, their political autonomy, in a word: their independence." Philosopher Alain Badiou attacks the left's support for the NATO intervention in Libya. Background: Europe's economic entanglements with Gaddafi's Libya in the Irish Left Review.
In the wake of a deadly clash between Roma (better known as Gypsies) and police in the Loire Valley region of France, French President Sarkozy order the French government to “systematically evacuate” Roma illegal immigrants and dismantle their camps, citing "reasons of public order". [more inside]
Forget the Ewings, the Carringtons, or the Channings and Giobertis, France is in the grip of the real-life soap opera of the Bettencourts, heiresses to the L'Oréal cosmetics empire, featuring a suave gigolo, a scheming wealth manager, a paradise island, feuding lawyers, embarrassed politicians, squabbling magistrates, New Media, another major multinational, and even a butler with a tape recorder... [more inside]
In 2010, Obama will have a miserable year, NATO may lose in Afghanistan, the UK gets a regime change, China needs to chill, India's factories will overtake its farms, Europe risks becoming an irrelevant museum, the stimulus will need an exit strategy, the G20 will see a challenge from the "G2", African football will unite Korea, conflict over natural resources will grow, Sarkozy will be unloved and unrivalled, the kids will come together to solve the world's problems (because their elders are unable), technology will grow ever more ubiquitous, we'll all charge our phones via USB, MBAs will be uncool, the Space Shuttle will be put to rest, and Somalia will be the worst country in the world. And so the Tens begin.
The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
The sales of a book by Madame de Lafayette, "La Princesse de Clèves", are up in France and there have been public readings of it in theatres and universities. The reason? Sarkozy hates it. As Sarkozy's popularity plummets, the "17th century tale of thwarted love" gets unexpected attention beyond the classroom. Badges inscribed with "I am reading The Princess of Clèves" were the most popular item at the opening of the Paris book fair this week. [more inside]
Rachida Dati, France's Minister of Justice, faces a difficult position after a judge annulled a Muslim marriage because of lies over the wife's virginity. [more inside]
Pardon my French: after (allegedly) showing up drunk at the G8 (Mefi), walking out from 60 minutes, and almost getting in a fight with angry fishermen (translation), French President Sarkozy, while visiting the Paris International Agricultural Show, snaps at a man who refused to shake his hand "Casse-toi pauvre con". But what exactly does this mean in English? He hasn't (yet) slapped a kid, unlike his presidential rival Bayrou, but he's still not in the same league as De Gaulle, who answered to a heckler shouting "Mort aux cons!" ("Death to the idiots!") the sublime "Vaste programme, en effet" ("Tall order, indeed").
newsfilter!! more inside Conservative Nicolas Sarkozy wins France's presidential election.
Goodbye Jacques! Today french voters will get rid of Chirac - charmingly called "The Bulldozer". Although he was not as bad as Silvio, France is in dire need of economic reform - something Frau Merkel has already started in Germany. So who will win this important election? Meet the candidates: Royal, Sarkozy and Bayrou.
Joblessness is a major motivating force of these riots, which is why the politicians and the press turn endlessly around the question of job creation in the banlieues. [...] An injection of vigorous enterprise, a big deregulating kick, and racial discrimination would evaporate in the tremendous, creative release of market forces. No race riots in an untrammelled market economy: that’s what Sarkozy really means. It’s an ingenious, high-pressure sales pitch for the ‘Anglo-Saxon model’ – indeed, it’s bordering on blackmail. Jeremy Harding in the London Review of Books goes among the arsonists in Paris and offers some insights on the economic factors and political consequences of the riots.
Newsfilter: Rioting continues in the suburbs of Paris. In Clichy-Sous-Bois, a predominantly (80%) North African muslim banlieu of about 28,000 people, night battles have been raging (video) between youths and the police after two muslim youths died by electrocution while they thought the police were chasing them, a charge the police denies. That was 5 nights ago. Since then, 27 people have been arrested, 3 convicted, numerous cars destroyed and property damaged, and 23 police officers wounded in street battles involving "up to several hundred" participants. The muslim community now accuses the police of firing tear gas into a mosque, and things look far from calming down. These tensions are hardly confined to Paris, however - In Lyon, 800 cars have been burned in "low level" violence this year; Across France, 9,000 police cars have been "stoned" this year, and 20-40 cars are destroyed a night (!!!), according to Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. I knew that relations between "the French" and the "Beurs" were somewhat less than pleasant, but am I the only one that was unaware that France has been in a state of low-level but direct civil and religious war for the last few years?