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Posts tagged ‘French language’

Cameron Tells British Children to Learn Mandarin, Not French.

Image: Cameron Tells British Children to Learn Mandarin, Not French

British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks to students at a subbranch of Longjiang Road Primary School on Dec. 4 in Chengdu, China.

LONDON — Prime Minister David Cameron returned from his tour of China with a message for Britain’s schoolchildren: Forget French and German, it’s time to learn Mandarin.

A foreign language will be compulsory in primary as well as secondary schools starting in September 2014. In most schools that means French, the language of Britain’s nearest neighbor, with German, Spanish, or Latin offered by some as alternatives.

Only 1 percent of British adults speak Mandarin well enough to hold a conversation, according to the British Council.

“By the time the children born today leave school, China is set to be the world’s largest economy,” Cameron said in an emailed statement. “So it’s time to look beyond the traditional focus on French and German and get many more children learning Mandarin.”

The government has set a target of doubling the number of people learning Mandarin to 400,000.

There will be funding for schools wanting to add Mandarin to the syllabus and a push to increase the number of speakers of the language working in schools.

© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.


Authorities Look for Link Between Attack on French Soldier and Jihadists.

Image: Authorities Look for Link Between Attack on French Soldier and Jihadists

Police officers on May 25 stand near the cordoned off spot where a French soldier was stabbed in the throat in the busy commercial district of La Defense, outside Paris.

By Newsmax Wires

A French soldier was stabbed in the throat in a busy commercial district outside Paris on Saturday, and France’s president said authorities are investigating any possible links with the recent slaying of a British soldier.

President Francois Hollande said the identity of the attacker was unknown and cautioned against jumping to conclusions about the assault on the uniformed soldier in the La Defense shopping area. The life of the soldier was not in danger, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

The 23-year-old was patrolling in uniform with two other soldiers as part of France’s Vigipirate anti-terror surveillance plan when he was approached from behind around 6 p.m. and attacked with a knife or a box-cutter.

A police union spokesman said surveillance footage of the attacker showed him as tall and bearded, aged about 35, possibly of North African origin and wearing a white Arab-style tunic.

The stabbing follows the slaying Wednesday of a British soldier, who was brutally stabbed on a London street in broad daylight in a suspected terrorist attack that has raised fears of potential copycat strikes.

“There could be a link, but we will look at all the elements,” Hollande said during a news conference in Ethiopia, where he was traveling.

The British soldier, 25-year-old Lee Rigby, was attacked while walking outside the Royal Artillery Barracks in the Woolwich area of south London.

The gruesome scene was recorded on witnesses’ cellphones, and a video has emerged in which one of the two suspects — his hands bloodied — boasted of their exploits and warned of more violence as the soldier lay on the ground. Holding bloody knives and a meat cleaver, the suspects waited for the arrival of police, who shot them in the legs, according to witnesses.

In the video, one of the suspects declared, “We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you … We must fight them as they fight us.”

Two Muslim hard-liners have identified that suspect as Michael Adebolajo, a Christian who converted to Islam and attended several London demonstrations organized by banned British radical group al-Muhajiroun.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Taxes on Wealthy French Households Top 100% of Income.

More than 8,000 French households‘ tax bills topped 100 percent of their income last year, the business newspaper Les Echos reported on Saturday, citing Finance Ministry data.

The newspaper said that the exceptionally high level of taxation was due to a one-off levy last year on 2011 incomes for households with assets of more than 1.3 million euros ($1.67 million).

President Francois Hollande’s Socialist government imposed the tax surcharge last year, shortly after taking office, to offset the impact of a rebate scheme created by its conservative predecessor to cap an individual’s overall taxation at 50 percent of income.

The government has been forced to redraft a proposed bill to levy a temporary 75 percent tax on earnings over 1 million euros, which had been one of Hollande’s campaign pledges.

The Constitutional Council has judged such a high rate of taxation to be unfair, leaving the government to rehash it to hit companies rather than individuals.

Since then, a top administrative court has determined that a marginal tax rate higher than 66.66 percent on a single household risked being considered as confiscatory by the council.

Les Echos reported that nearly 12,000 households paid taxes last year worth more than 75 percent of their 2011 revenues due to the exceptional levy. ($1 = 0.7798 euros) (Reporting by Leigh Thomas, Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Joan of Arc Relieved Orleans.

Joan of Arc Relieved OrleansThroughout much of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the English fought the French, claiming France. The English had the upper hand of it until Joan of Arc appeared. In fact, the dauphin (who became Charles VII) had not even been crowned at Reims, the traditional site of French coronations, when Joan came to him.

A simple and pious peasant girl who wove and spun, Joan saw heavenly beings and heard their voices. She understood that deliverance would come to France through her. The voices sent her to the nearest French bastion, but her pleas were ignored. Eventually, Joan convinced local authorities. One thing led to another. She picked the disguised dauphin out of a crowd of courtiers and made prophecies (which were recorded in a letter written from Lyons on April 22, 1429). These came true.

One of her predictions was that she would save Orleans. Orleans, crucial to the defense of France, was besieged by the English. Joan sent letters of defiance to them. On this day, April 29, 1429, a rapid march brought Joan of Arc with her French forces to the city. It was the turning point of the One Hundred Year’s War. The English retreated the next day, but as it was Sunday, Joan forbid the French to pursue them. Within a few days, the English garrisons around Orleans had all been captured. Joan was wounded in the fighting, which was also as she had predicted.

The irresolute dauphin had to be coaxed into action. Joan convinced him to undertake various moves, which he did half-heartedly. A dramatic French victory at Pasay opened the way for Charles to retake Reims. Again Joan had difficulty convincing him to carry through with the logical step of having himself crowned, but he finally did. Then she knelt before him and called him king.

The voices told her she had less than a year left for her work. Frustrating months they proved to be, too. The king and his advisors lacked the boldness to pursue the advantages Joan had gained. A feeble attempt to retake Paris failed. Not long afterward, Joan was captured by the English, who brought charges of witchcraft against her. Determined to find grounds for executing her, they did not allow her any legal counsel and loosed a pack of high-powered theologians on her (although some Englishmen, to their credit, urged mercy).

As could be expected with such a stacked trial, she was convicted. In a terrified moment she recanted with the caveat that she did so only as far as it was God’s will. Quickly she regained her courage and did not waver again, even when brought to the stake. She asked that a crucifix be held before her face, and called upon the name of Jesus as long as breath remained in her. Subsequent inquiries exonerated her and the pope officially canonized her as a saint in 1920.


  1. Fuller, Thomas. “The Life of Joan of Arc.” The Holy State and the Profane State, volume II. New York: Columbia University Press, 1938; p. 372ff.
  2. “Joan of Arc, St.” The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Edited by F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone. Oxford, 1997.
  3. Pernoud, RégineJoan of Arc: her story; translated and revised by Jeremy duQuesnay Adams; edited by Bonnie Wheeler. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998.
  4. Thurston, Herbert. “St. Joan of Arc.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton, 1914.
  5. Twain, MarkPersonal Recollections of Joan of Arc. Various editions. [fictional account].
  6. Various encyclopedia and web articles.

Last updated May, 2007.

Dan Graves, MSL

France: Homophobia And Booby-mania By SOC Okenwa.

By SaharaReporters, New York

France is a sophisticated European country with centuries of democratic history. The French revolution (1789–1799) became a radical turning point in the democratic evolution that had had a lasting impact on the French rich politico-social history and some knock-on effect on some European entities. Absolute monarchy represented by the executed King Louis XVI gave way for new ideas and principles like liberty, equality and fraternity to flourish. Old feudal, religious and aristocratic privileges and practises evaporated under sustained assault of the people’s power! Today, France is a fiercely-guarded open society, one of the ‘super powers’ of Europe behind Germany and the United Kingdom — in terms of military might and national GDP. It had colonized many countries from the middle east to Africa with her language spoken by millions of non-indigenes scattered across the lenght and breadth of the globe.

The Hollande presidency is tottering with very low opinion approval rating; according to the recent poll made public the man the “normal” president had beaten in the presidential poll of last year, Nicolas Sarkozy, would defeat Hollande if another round of election were conducted today as he comfortably leads in the opinion approval rating despite the problems he is having presently with the judiciary over his 2007 campaign fundings. Most French men and women polled said they never believed President Hollande knew where he was taking them to nor knew the enormity of presidential powers in his hands. Sarkozy had lost the last election because majority of French people felt he was hyper-active and had demonstrated the ‘know-all’ mentality in power.

For weeks and months running there had been a fierce protracted battle for or against the gay marriage legislation being debated by the legislature in France. While the ruling socialist party supported openly the move to legalise the homosexual marriage the opposition were lined up with the civil society and conservatives to oppose it without compromise demanding a referendum on the matter. Indeed it could seem undemocratic to try to bring about such a fundamental social change without holding a referendum to determine its popularity or otherwise. The proponents knew that any referendum on that would have brought about defeat since the majority were against.

In Paris (especially) million-(wo)man marches were organised by the nay-sayers and demonstrations had equally been held by the yea-sayers. Sometimes the rallies turned violent and bloody with street battles involving the opposition youth wing and the police. Grappling with the lowest popularity ratings of any recent French president as unemployment surges above 10 percent President Hollande and his ruling party are totally in support of the move with his Justice Minister Christiane Taubira defending same with vigour in parliament and receiving xenophobic attacks in the process. “Casse-toi Taubira, la France aux Francais!” (Get lost Taubira, France to the French!) they yelled amid tensions on the streets.

Like elsewhere the issue of gay rights has been a polarising one for obvious reasons. For those against the ‘homo-invasion’ the traditional family cycle (father, mother and children) should be respected since God never created Adam with Damian but Adam and Eve with a divine purpose for procreation and multiplication of mankind. By passing into law a legislation authorizing same-sex marriage the natural order of things as regards family and reproduction would be altered and the wisdom of Providence questioned as it were. What is intriguing enough is that people of the same sex wanted to be free to be married but they preferred adoption of children fathered by other people in obedience to divine commandment.

Last Tuesday members of parliament voted for the adoption of “mariage pour tous” (marriage for all) law which makes it legally possible for gays and lesbians to marry themselves in all legal comfort. By passing the gay rights law France became officially the 14th country in the world to do so. But the controversy generated by the debate over the propriety or impropriety of the legislation has refused to go away. Homophobia is gaining momentum as gay night clubs got attacked and gays themselves became targets of attacks on the streets in cities outside Paris. The opposition has promised to repeal the law once it gets back to power in 2017. Meanwhile they have headed to the Constitutional Court to test legally the constitutionality of the voted legal text. That is about the first challenge; other challenges to follow later.

With Soddom and Gomorah historically in mind this ‘homo’ nonsense must not break our resolve and will to live in a decent world inhabited by decent human beings capable of reason. The only plausible fear or concern worth raising here is that the Supreme Being might be pushed to want to severely punish the sins of the minority by visiting same on the majority. But since He is Omnipotent and Omniscience a way must be found to seperate the wheat from the chaff upon His anger getting to a boiling point. Yet we beseech Him to be clement and pitiful since the proponents of marriage between Adam and Adam or Eve and Eve may not know what they are doing.

In another related development (since it has to do with mammary glands) a French court sitting in the city of Marseille is trying an old man, Jean-Claude Mas, the founder of PIP (Poly Implant Prothese) whose company was accused of supplying thousands of faulty breast implants in France and other 65 foreign countries. The world-wide sale of the faulty implants caused a global health scare with an estimated 300,000 women in scores of countries directly affected.

Whilst the implant manufacturer was shut down in March 2010 after some non-authorised sub-standard silicone gel caused abnormally high rupture rates of its implants PIP was once considered one of the world’s leading suppliers of breast implants with over 42,000 women in Britain receiving the product, more than 30,000 in France, 25,000 in Brazil, 16,000 in Venezuela and 15,000 in Colombia, according to government statistics. More than 4,000 women have reported ruptures and in France 15,000 concerned women have had their PIP implants removed under instruction from the government while 5,000 women were registered as plaintiffs in the PIP trial involving Mr Mas and four other executives of the defunct company.

What one may describe as booby-mania is now the vogue across the global landscape. From mother Africa across the Atlantic down to the Asian continent the boobs’ phenomenon is let loose on mankind ‘threatening’ the natural milk culture babies ought to be exposed to upon their birth. While we acknowledge that many a woman see their sagging or sagged breasts as source of ‘shame’ or something amounting to ‘diminishing returns’ for their beauties it is something to bemoan, nonetheless, that the new-generation women now go to dangerous lengths to ‘improve’ their natural boobs through surgeries.

It is often said jocularly that every man is a suckler of breast from the cradle to the grave! It then follows  that we are all our mothers’ pet (especially from the African perspective). Motherhood has mammary glands as its ‘symbol’ given that it is a natural process through which a life is nourished best. But the new-generation ‘cult of boobs’ has brought about another dangerous (albeit seducing) dimension to the sexual lives of homo sapiens. Every woman wants to be seen to be beautiful and desirable. And a ‘powerful’ boobs could be said to be one of the natural endowments of women of class.

SOC Okenwa


In Mali fight, Chad proves a powerful partner for France.

Chad may be a poor country marred by frequent turmoil, but its forces have fought very effectively against Islamist rebels in northern Mali.

Weeks after the French launched their military intervention inMali, the majority of Islamist rebels who were once in control ofnorthern Mali’s major cities have retreated to hideouts near the Algerian border.

But forces from Chad have followed them, spearheading an ambitious push into northern Mali’s Ifoghas mountains, a terrain often compared to Afghanistan’s Tora Bora. And despite suffering dozens of casualties during weeks of heavy combat, Chadian forces have succeeded in killing and capturing more than 100 jihadist militants and uprooting a network of weapons caches, fuel depots, and food stuffs hidden among the countless caves and grottoes that dot the landscape.

The string of Chadian military victories against a well-prepared and amply equipped rebel force has prompted many to wonder how Chad – a poor, landlocked country marred by decades of political turmoil and near continual civil war – has been able to contribute so effectively to this fight.

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But Chad’s ability to project power in northern Mali should come as no surprise, according to analysts who specialize in military affairs in the region.

“This is the sort of background in which they [the Chadians] feel the most at home. This is likenorthern Chad, this is the desert, this is rocky terrain,” says François Heisbourg, a special adviser at the Paris-based Foundation for Strategic Research. “They are fully acclimatized. 100 degrees F. at noontime doesn’t scare them.”


With the Malian Army in disrepair, France has been eager to transfer responsibility for securing Mali over to an internationally approved African-led force. But few analysts believe that troops from regional bloc ECOWAS, the bulk of whom would come from West Africa’s sub-Saharan climes, will be able to operate effectively in northern Mali’s unforgiving desert.

The Chadians have proved to be a useful partner not only because of their decades of experience fighting in a similar climate and terrain, but because they have spent much of the past decade fighting a panoply of rebel groups in their own country, many of which preferred to operate as light and mobile units, using tactics similar to those currently employed by the jihadis in Mali.

Chad’s military has fully internalized this type of warfare, deploying swarms of small, mobile units themselves, often consisting of little more than a handful of soldiers in Toyota pickups modified into fighting vehicles.

“These guys [the Chadians] are like the jihadis in terms of their ability to cover ground and to project force in all directions,” says Heisbourg. “They can cover 500 kilometers (about 300 miles) in a day and they have never stopped doing this,” he continues, alluding to the fact that Chadian forces have been engaged in fighting, both at home and abroad, for much of the nation’s history.

“They have been doing this sort of stuff off and on for the last 45 years, since the late ’60s, sometimes with the French, sometimes against the French,” Heisbourg says.

“Remember, these guys actually conducted a major raid into Libya in the 1980s, capturing what was the most modern Soviet hardware at the time from a very capable Libyan force,” Heisbourg continues, in reference to the series of conflicts between Chad and Libya for much of the 1980s.


While the Chadian Army’s résumé demonstrates a capacity to carry out sustained desert combat, its reputation for indiscipline and human rights abuses is just as noteworthy, however.

Instances of targeting of civilians, systemic sexual violence, recruitment of child soldiers, and a litany of other abuses against local populations have been documented by organizations such as Human Rights Watch. That record has led many to question whether Chad can be considered an effective partner for securing Mali in the long term.

“It depends how you define effective,” says Rudy Atallah, who served as Africa Counterterrorism director in the office of the US Secretary of Defense in Washington. “In terms of aggressive team players supporting the French, they are doing a great job. If the definition is based purely on capability to continue the fight on their own, I don’t think they can survive.”

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Mr. Atallah, who has extensive experience in West and North Africa, urged caution against overestimating the ability of Chad’s troops operating solo. “Chadian troops are a blunt edge and good scouts for the French, but they couldn’t be as effective without French intel, guidance, and air power.”


By Peter Tinti | Christian Science Monitor

8 Arab civilians detained by military in Timbuktu.

TIMBUKTU, Mali (AP) — Eight Arab men have been detained by the military in Timbuktu, raising fears of further reprisals against the region’s Arab minority, whose members are accused of having supported the al-Qaida-linked fighters who had ruled northern Mali for most of the past year.

Witnesses late Saturday confirmed the Feb. 14 arrests.

Ibrahim Ould Ali said his 70-year-old father Ali Ould Mohamed Kalbali was taken from his shop.Mariam Mint Elbakaye, a merchant’s wife, said her husband Mohamed Ould Mohamed Lamine was grabbed by soldiers while in the street. A neighbor said two brothers were taken by the army from their home and another resident said four truck drivers were taken from the Abaradjou neighborhood.

Islamic extremists had fled Timbuktu before French and Malian forces arrived at the end of January.


By BABA AHMED | Associated Press

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