Category - France

Marine Le Pen, Leader of France’s National Front Party, Splits With Her Father, Its Founder

New York Times, By Suzanne Daley, April 8

Paris – Marine Le Pen, the head of France’s far-right National Front, has openly split with her father and the founder of her party, calling his recent comments, including those on German gas chambers, “political suicide” and an attempt to harm her.

In recent years, Ms. Le Pen, trying to clean up the image of her party as racist and anti-Semitic, has kept her distance from her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, 86, and his more extreme statements, even as he continued as the party’s honorary chairman.

But Mr. Le Pen made headlines over the last week, after he once again claimed that the Nazi gas chambers were a “detail” of history; praised France’s collaborationist wartime leader, Marshal Philippe Pétain; and questioned whether France’s Spanish-born prime minister, Manuel Valls, was really loyal to France.

His outbursts appeared to be more than Ms. Le Pen and her entourage could put up with. In a statement on Wednesday, Ms. Le Pen said she had already told her father that she planned to block him from running in coming regional elections.

“Jean-Marie Le Pen seems to have descended into a strategy somewhere between scorched earth and political suicide,” she said. “His status as honorary president does not give him the right to hijack the National Front with vulgar provocations seemingly designed to damage me but which unfortunately hit the whole movement.”

She added that, with great sadness, she was calling a meeting of the party’s executive bureau with her father present “to find the best way of protecting the interests of the movement,” a statement that some experts took to mean that Mr. Le Pen may be expelled from the party altogether.

France is Europe’s ‘big problem’, warns Mario Monti

Gallic nation threatens to blow Europe’s Franco-German axis apart, warns former Italian prime minister.

The Telegraph, By Szu Ping Chan, March 21

France has become Europe’s “big problem”, according to the former prime minister of Italy, who warned that anti-Brussels sentiment and the rise of populist parties in the Gallic nation threatened to blow the bloc’s Franco-German axis apart.

Mario Monti – who was dubbed “Super Mario” for saving the country from collapse at the height of the eurozone debt crisis – said France’s “unease” with the single currency had already created tensions between Europe’s two largest economies.

“In the last few years we have seen France receding in terms of actual economic performance, in terms of complying with all the European rules, and above all in terms of its domestic public opinion – which is turning more and more against Europe,” he told The Telegraph.

Ukraine’s warring parties agree to February 15 ceasefire

France24, February 12

The warring parties in Ukraine agreed Thursday to a February 15 ceasefire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front lines in a deal French President François Hollande called a “comprehensive political solution” after marathon talks in Minsk.

Speaking to reporters after almost 16 hours of talks between the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany in the Belarusian capital Minsk, Putin said: “We have managed to agree on the main issues,” adding that a ceasefire would come into effect at midnight on February 15.

“The second point, which I believe to be extremely important, is the withdrawal of heavy weapons from today’s line of contact for Ukrainian troops and from the line stipulated in the September 19 Minsk agreements for Donbass rebels,” he said.

French President François Hollande called the deal a “comprehensive political solution” and said it provides “serious hope, even if all is not done”.

US, UK and France announce closures, evacuations of embassies in Yemen

Fox News, February 11

The State Department announced late Tuesday that the U.S. Embassy in Yemen had been closed and evacuated after much of the country was taken over by Shiite rebels last month.

Hours later, Britain and France followed suit and ordered their citizens to leave Yemen as soon as possible.

The U.S. embassy had already been operating with severely reduced staff for several weeks. State Department spokesman Jen Psaki said remaining diplomatic personnel had been relocated “due to the ongoing political instability and the uncertain security situation.”

Al Arabiya: France, Britain suspend embassy work in Yemen

France begins jailing people for ironic comments

Electronic Intifada, By Ali Abunimah, January 19

It may sound like an ironic joke, but it isn’t. Less than a week after the massive rallies in defense of “free expression,” following the murders of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, French authorities have jailed a youth for irony.

The arrest is part of a harsh crackdown on free speech in the country that has prompted criticism from national and international human rights organizations.

A 16-year-old high school student was taken into police custody on Thursday and indicted for “defending terrorism,” national broadcaster France 3 reports.

His alleged crime? He posted on Facebook a cartoon “representing a person holding the magazine Charlie Hebdo, being hit by bullets, and accompanied by an ‘ironic’ comment,” France 3 states.

Europe’s answer to France terror ‘attack on free speech’ is greater Internet censorship

After three days of terrorist attacks in the French capital, European leaders are pushing for stronger measures to crack down on online “extremist” content.

ZDNet, By Zack Whittaker, January 12

About half of Europe’s member states are pushing for greater online censorship powers in the wake of the terror attacks in France earlier this month.

In a joint statement, interior ministers from 11 European member states — including Germany, Poland, Spain, and the U.K. — expressed condemnation of the attacks, while stressing further cooperation between their law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

Members of the European Union, along with a delegation from the U.S. government — including outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder — adopted, among other sentiments, a resolution to create a partnership of major Internet providers to report and remove material associated with extremism.

“We are concerned at the increasingly frequent use of the Internet to fuel hatred and violence and signal our determination to ensure that the Internet is not abused to this end, while safeguarding that it remains, in scrupulous observance of fundamental freedoms, a forum for free expression, in full respect of the law,” the statement said.

The statement also said the Internet was a focal point in the “fight against radicalization,” and there was a need to strengthen resources across the region, including greater border surveillance.

WSJ Digits blog: France Pushes for Scrubbing Internet of Terrorism-Related Content

Anchor Leaves CNN After Paris Tweets


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NYT – The veteran CNN anchor Jim Clancy has left the network after a series of Twitter messages he wrote about the terrorist attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead.

In the tweets, which were sent on the day of the attack, Mr. Clancy wrote about the cartoons the paper had published depicting the Prophet Muhammad, but he then began criticizing supporters of Israel and sparring with other Twitter users. Mr. Clancy’s Twitter account has since been deleted, but the tweets were published on several websites, including Gawker, Twitchy and Mediaite.

France faces 19,000 cyberattacks since terror rampage

AP, By Jamey Keaten & Sylvie Corbet, January 15

Paris – Hackers have targeted about 19,000 French websites since a rampage by Islamic extremists left 20 dead last week, France’s cyberdefense official said Thursday, as the president tried to calm the nation’s inflamed religious tensions.

France is on edge since last week’s attacks, which began Jan. 7 at the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The paper, repeatedly threatened for its caricatures of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, was burying several of its slain staff members Thursday.

[…]

“What’s new, what’s important, is that this is 19,000 sites — that’s never been seen before,” Coustilliere said. “This is the first time that a country has been faced with such a large wave of cyber-contestation.”

Coustilliere called the attacks a response to the massive demonstrations against terrorism that drew 3.7 million people into the streets Sunday across France. He pointed to “more or less structured groups” that used tactics like posting symbols of jihadist groups on companies’ Web sites.

France mobilizes 10,000 security forces

Al Arabiya News/AP/AFP, January 12

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve on Monday said 10,000 security forces will be mobilized throughout the country, with 5,000 policeman deployed to protect Jewish schools.

Cazeneuve said the deployment will begin Tuesday, and will focus on the most sensitive locations, the Associated Press reported.

Meanwhile, one of the three gunmen who killed 17 people in a series of attacks in Paris this week “undoubtedly” had an accomplice, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Monday.

Amedy Coulibaly, one of the three gunmen, likely received help from someone else, Valls said, pledging, “the hunt [for the accomplice] will go on.”

[…]

Video emerged on Sunday of her husband Amedy Coulibaly, explaining how the attacks would unfold and police want to find the person who shot and posted the video, which was edited after the attacks were over.

France Is About To Plunge Into Deflation

Business Insider, By Mike Bird, December 11

French inflation just sank to another five-year low, down at 0.4% in November, compared to the same month last year, leaving France even further away from the European Central Bank’s 2% inflation target.. Analysts were expecting a 0.5% figure.

But it’s even worse than that. France’s core inflation is now at -0.2%. It’s negative for the first time the country started recording it. It’s much harder to blame falling oil prices for that: core inflation deliberately strips out volatile items like fresh food and energy, to try to give an idea of the underlying trend.

Anger in France over city’s plan for ‘Nazi style’ badges for the homeless

The Telegraph, By Henry Samuel, December 5

The southern French city of Marseille has been forced to scrap a system of yellow triangles intended to help spot homeless people after it was accused of employing Nazi-style tactics.

The cards, which were given to homeless people, detail their health issues and are yellow in order to be easily spotted.
Human rights groups and government ministers criticised the “yellow triangle cards” in France’s second city, saying they are “stigmatising”, and hark back to the Star of David sewn on to Jewish people’s clothes during the Holocaust.

La Ligue des droits de l’Homme, a human rights group, said it was troubled by the resemblance “of this card and the yellow star that the Jews had to wear during the Second World War”.

France: ‘Major’ anti-ISIS raid taking place in Iraq

AFP, December 5

France said Friday its fighter jets were conducting a “major” raid in Iraq as part of the U.S.-led coalition offensive against the Islamic State group, days after members said the strikes were having effect.

“At the moment, a major raid is taking place,” Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told BFMTV, refusing to detail the targets or the number of jets involved.

He said French planes based in the United Arab Emirates and more recently in Jordan had carried out “120 to 130 missions” since the start of the coalition offensive.

These include intelligence gathering missions. Compared to the United States, France has carried out only a handful of strikes on the militants.

Saving Europe with MMT, or as goes Europe, goes the World…

Ian Welsh wrote, and we’ve commented, because while Ian provides penetrating analysis, there is no suggestion of solutions, for example those on which Marine Le Pen campaigns, which seem cogent: Restore the Franc, Restore Sovereignty, and Control Multiculturalism.
Read More

Four French journalists freed after Syria kidnapping

RFI, April 19

Four French journalists are safe and in good health, after being held hostage in Syria since June 2013. The hostages were found overnight Friday by Turkish soldiers on the border between Turkey and Syria, where they had been tied-up and blindfolded.

French President François Hollande declared his huge relief on Saturday, in announcing the liberation of the four journalists, who had been held for almost a year. He added that they would arrive on French soil during the day.

Hollande said that the men were in good health, “despite the very challenging conditions of their captivity”. Images by Turkish media showed the men with long hair and full beards, but visibly strong.

Edouard Elias, Didier François, Nicolas Hénin and Pierre Torres were found abandoned on Friday night by Turkish soldiers, according to the Turkish press agency Dogan.

Update, France24: Why Syria’s cash-strapped jihadists let hostages go

A leading expert on Syria told FRANCE 24 that the recent release of several Western hostages held by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) highlights the jihadist group’s difficulties in securing funding from international donors.

French reshuffle may loom after Hollande’s Socialists routed in local elections

Reuters, By Mark John, March 30

Paris – President Francois Hollande will take soundings on a possible cabinet reshuffle on Monday after the drubbing of his Socialists in local elections handed the far-right National Front victory in a record number of towns.

Provisional results from Sunday’s voting showed the protectionist, anti-EU party of Marine Le Pen set to take control of 11 towns across the country, easily surpassing a past record in the 1990s when it ruled in four towns.

At least another 140 towns swung from the left to mainstream opposition conservatives as voters punished Hollande for his failure to turn around the euro zone’s second largest economy and above all to tackle an unemployment rate stuck at more than 10 percent.

While Hollande himself, who surveys show is the least popular leader in France’s 56-year-old Fifth Republic, will remain in power, the question is whether he will replace Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, whose government has been accused of amateurishness and of being paralyzed by policy splits.

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