The French-American Foundation Weekly Brief

The French-American Foundation Weekly Brief


Les Echos reported Monday that the U.S. government will make its supply of Tamiflu available to children suffering from the H1N1 virus, in light of President Obama declaring the epidemic a national emergency. Similarly, in France, the seriousness of the virus has elevated, where the number of cases in the Ile de France has increased 55% since last week.

The Democratic vision for a health care system overhaul could become a reality in the very near future. On Sunday, The New York Times stated that Congress is prepared to pass “legislation [that would] insure nearly all Americans.”  Obama’s administration claims that the overhaul would help  “tackle the deficit,” while, as reported in the Dallas Morning News, some believe that Medicare and Medicaid might be major obstacles to significant deficit reduction.

On Thursday, USA Today reported that the states of New Jersey and Virginia elected Republican candidates during their mid-term, gubernatorial elections. The news was promising for Republicans, who hope to dominate the House in 2010, but the simultaneous loss of a GOP congressional seat to New York Democratic candidate Bill Owens was a step in the right direction for Democrats. On Monday, the Washington Post discussed exactly how the House could “change parties” by November 2010.


Le Point reported on Monday that the prestigious ‘prix Goncourt‘ was awarded to author Marie NDiaye for her novel Trois femmes puissantes. Le Nouvel Observateur commented that the jury’s decision to give the award to an “inconnu,” such as NDiaye, was timely given the current nationwide debate on national identity.

It appears that former President Jacques Chirac will stand trial for corruption, based on a report by L’Express on Wednesday. While the potential for trial was debated as late as Monday morning, the parquet de Paris decided that the former president will, indeed, be tried for, among other things, “creating 21 phoney jobs” at City Hall during his tenure as Mayor of Paris.

Approximately 200 people gathered in front of the Senate on Monday, according to the AFP, to promote the 2.3 million person-strong consensus that the French Postal Service (La Poste) should not be privatized. As stated in Le Figaro, the Senate, whose Socialist Party members are strongly opposed to La Poste’s change in status, will come to a decision by Sunday.

French protestants gathered at the Zenith stadium in Strasbourg over the weekend to participate in “Protestants en fête,” the first gathering of its kind in France. France Soir reported on the celebration, which coincided with the “500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin,” and included “debates, exhibitions, performances and concerts,” geared toward the 9,500 attendees, of various denominations.

NPR reported on Tuesday that legendary anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss passed away over the weekend, a few weeks shy of his 101st birthday. Levi-Strauss,  considered by many to have “reshaped the field of anthropology,” was honored by President Nicolas Sarkozy, who called him an “‘indefatigable humanist’.”

Business and Economy

Helmut Kiener, founder of the K1 Hedge Fund group, was accused of fraud late last week, as reported by the Financial Times. Mr Kiener is being detained in Germany based on evidence that he “defrauded” several banks, including BNP Paribas, who apparently invested “$60 Million in the group between 2007 and 2008.”

The first (and highly anticipated) Apple store in France is due to open in Paris next week, according to Le Figaro. The “715 square meter” store—the 33rd in Europe—will feature standard Apple products including the iPhone, which, in related news, will, based on a court ruling, no longer be exclusively linked to the Orange service provider.

President Obama announced Saturday that the economy is “moving in the right direction,” yet also insisted that unemployment (at a rate of 9.8 percent, as of September), will continue to rise, as reported by Bloomberg. Similarly, the Washington Post featured Obama’s address to the Economic Recovery Advisory Board on Monday, during which he claimed that a “sustainable” and “export-driven” model of growth would ensure the continued health of the economy, and a reduced rate of unemployment.

The BBC reported on Wednesday that, based on an “improving business environment,” General Motors will not sell its European division, Opel, as was originally planned. In a report by Le Nouvel Observateur, the decision came as a surprise to Germany’s finance minister, who had already pledged 1.5 billion Euros in aid to the Canadian company Magna, Opel’s future owner. The New York Times noted that GM’s decision to retain the division is based, in part, on the fact that Opel is its “source of small cars and fuel-efficient engine technology.”


Radovan Karadzic appears to be stalling the trial in which, according to the Christian Science Monitor, he is charged with two counts of genocide, for acts committed during the Bosnian war. Karadzic, who is self-represented, claims that he requires sufficient time to prepare his defense, which includes reading “1.3 million pages of documents,” according to CNN. Regardless of Karadzic’s hesitation, Judge O-Gon Kwon will come to a decision by the end of the week as to how the trial will proceed, regardless of Karadzic’s participation, or lack thereof.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is looking like an unlikely candidate for the EU presidency. Late last week, Reuters reported that Blair’s failure to “win the blessing” of socialists throughout Europe was an indicator that his candidacy was waning. This week, Les Echos insisted that Blair’s “étoile” had indeed fizzled out, and discussed the “ideal profile” of the yet-to-be-named President.

On Thursday, the Guardian reported the unlikelihood that UN representatives would sign a “full, legally binding treaty” addressing climate change, at the Copenhagen summit next month. This observation was based on news from this week’s talks in Barcelona, which have been marked by a significant divide in opinion between developed and developing nations.

There is concern, in the Netherlands, surrounding the radicalization of young Muslims, based on an article in Monday’s Le Monde. Monday marked the five-year anniversary of the murder of controversial Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh. Since the murder—carried out by a Muslim extremist in 2004—there has been a growing mistrust between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities in the Netherlands.  Officials fear that socially isolated young Muslims will turn to radicalization to retaliate, according to the AFP. However, specialists in Amsterdam have insisted that they are “collaborating with social workers, police and mosques” to “curb” the potential for radicalization.

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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