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Posts tagged ‘President of France’

France’s Hollande Gets Court Approval for 75 Millionaire Tax.

French President Francois Hollande received approval from the country’s constitutional court to proceed with his plan to tax salaries above 1 million euros at 75 percent for this year and next.

Under Hollande’s proposal, companies will have to pay a 50 percent duty on wages above 1 million euros ($1.4 million). In combination with other taxes and social charges, the rate will amount to 75 percent of salaries above the threshold, the court wrote in a decision published today.

“The companies that pay out remuneration above 1 million euros will, as expected, be called upon for an effort of solidarity on remuneration paid in 2013 and 2014,” the Economy Ministry said in an e-mailed statement.

Hollande, who once said he “didn’t like” the rich, announced the 75 percent tax in February 2012 as part of his presidential campaign to appeal to his Socialist base. It has become a symbol of his government’s record-high taxation rate.

A first proposal to put the change into law was turned down by the constitutional court in December last year because the tax applied to individuals and not households. The country’s top administrative court said any rate above 66 percent would be rejected as confiscatory.

Hollande revived the plan this year, making it apply to salaries and be paid by employers rather than individuals. The total amount is limited to 5 percent of a company’s revenue.

The court examined the proposed tax after more than 60 members of parliament and more than 60 senators filed their opposition, it said.

© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.


Alarmed over Obama’s Leadership, Saudis Strengthen Ties Elsewhere.

Image: Alarmed over Obama's Leadership, Saudis Strengthen Ties Elsewhere French President Francois Hollande meets with Saudi King Abdullah at the Saudi Royal palace in Riyadh on Dec. 29.

Increasingly vocal in its frustration over United States policies in the Mideast, Saudi Arabia is strengthening ties elsewhere, seeking out an alignment that will bolster its position after it was pushed to the sidelines this year.

It may find a solution in France, whose president is ending the year with 24 hours of high-level meetings with the Saudi leadership in a visit intended to showcase commercial and diplomatic strength.

With an entourage of French executives from the lucrative defense and energy sectors, President Francois Hollande arrives Sunday in Riyadh for a flurry of accords and contracts that have been in the works for months. The two countries also find themselves unexpectedly aligned in resistance, if not outright opposition, to U.S. policy on Syria’s civil war and Iran’s nuclear program.

The Saudi ambassador to Britain, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, recently described the policies of some partners toward Iran and Syria as a “dangerous gamble” while calling for the kingdom to be more assertive internationally after decades of operating in diplomatic shadows.

France, with similar fears about Syria, has been one of the strongest backers of the Syrian moderate leadership and Hollande had pledged military support against Syrian President Bashar Assad until both the U.S. and Britain backed away. On Iran, the French shouldered their way into the negotiations with Iran, demanding a better deal and warning that the Tehran government needed careful monitoring.

“We cannot remain silent, and will not stand idly by,” Prince Mohammed wrote in a Dec. 17 opinion piece in The New York Times.

“We expected to be standing shoulder to shoulder with our friends and partners who have previously talked so much about the importance of moral values in foreign policy,” he wrote in the piece titled “Saudi Arabia Will Go It Alone.”

But it may not have to. The French have been clear that they share Saudi fears that U.S. and Russian concerns over Islamic militants could leave Assad the victor in any peace deal. Hollande’s visit will be his second since taking office in May 2012 — a rarity for a French leader outside Europe — and his defense minister has been three times, most recently after the announcement of a 1.1 billion euro ($1.4 billion) contract with the Saudi navy.

“There is an offensive among the Saudis to try to reach out to different partners and try and see if they can find new allies,” said Valentina Soria, a security analyst with IHS Jane’s. At the same time, she said, Hollande is showing “the kind of willingness to intervene on the international stage in a much more assertive way, a much more convinced way.”

In October, Saudi Arabia stunned diplomats when it rejected its first seat on the United Nations Security Council. The Saudi foreign ministry blasted the council for an “inability to perform its duties” in stopping the war.

“The problem in Syria today is … clear negligence on the part of the world, who continue to watch the suffering of the Syrian people without taking steps to stop that suffering,” Saudi Prince Turki Al Faisal, an influential member of the royal family and a former intelligence chief, said at a conference in Monaco this month.

The Saudis are particularly annoyed that the U.S. and Britain did not follow through with threats to punish Assad’s government over the use of chemical weapons. Those decisions caused similar uproar in France for Hollande, who many at home believed was left hanging as the only Western power to pledge military support.

“The Saudi monarchy cannot fathom the fact that Assad might survive this crisis and then turn against them. They reject this possibility and are willing to do what they can to make Assad go,” said Ali al-Ahmed, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute of Gulf Affairs.

Both countries say they will continue to back the rebels fighting to overthrow Assad, in contrast with the Obama administration’s hesitation. Unlike the U.S., the French have resisted suspending non-lethal aid to the rebels and show no signs of changing course.

The Syrian conflict, which has claimed more than 120,000 people and spawned a regional refugee crisis, has become in many ways a proxy fight pitting Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-led Arab states against Shiite powerhouse Iran, a major supporter of Assad.

What the Saudis won’t do is send in their own well-equipped armed forces, al-Ahmed said, because it could empower the Saudi military to turn against them as happened elsewhere during the Arab Spring.

The Saudis also watch with trepidation at the warming ties between Iran and the West.

The way the nuclear talks were handled — with U.S. officials secretly meeting their Iranian counterparts before more formal talks involving world powers — particularly rankled the Saudis.

“Saudi Arabia is clamoring for a major role in shaping the region. They feel they deserve that,” said Theodore Karasik, a security and political affairs analyst at the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis.

Washington has strived to downplay any suggestion of a rift. Senior American officials have traveled to the Gulf recently to reassure allies including Saudi Arabia. And Soria, the analyst, said the U.S. partnership, which includes billions in defense contracts, would endure beyond the current tensions.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. and Saudi Arabia “share the same goals” of ending the war in Syria and preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, but she stopped short of endorsing a Saudi role at the bargaining table with Iran.

Al-Ahmed said Iran would never agree to any talks involving the Saudis, but that wouldn’t stop the kingdom from trying.

“The Saudi obsession that they will be sold out to the Iranians in a grand bargain makes them want to be in these meetings to ensure that does not happen,” he said.
© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


French Gay Marriage Opponents Stage Big Paris March.

Image: French Gay Marriage Opponents Stage Big Paris March

Protestors hold flags during a May 26 demonstration in Paris against French President Francois Hollande’s social reform on gay marriage and adoption.

PARIS — Several hundred thousand opponents of same-sex marriage marched in central Paris on Sunday against a reform the unpopular French government passed last month at the price of deepening political polarization.Large park grounds around Les Invalides monument were full of protesters waving pink and blue flags, while far-right activists hung a banner on the ruling Socialist Party headquarters urging President Francois Hollande to quit.

The protests, which began as a grass roots campaign strongly backed by the Roman Catholic Church, have morphed into a wider movement with opposition politicians and far-right militants airing their discontent with Hollande.

Although they have failed to block gay marriage, the protesters hope their renewed show of force will help stop or slow down further laws some Socialists want allowing assisted procreation and surrogate motherhood for gay couples.

Jean-Francois Cope, leader of the opposition UMP party, marched in the demonstration and urged young protesters to join his party to keep up pressure on the left-wing government.

“The next rendez-vous should be at the ballot boxes for the municipal elections,” he said, referring to local polls due next year where conservatives hope to profit from the protest movement‘s unexpectedly strong mobilization.

While the rally was peaceful throughout much of the day, police said they arrested 96 hardline opponents to the gay marriage law later on for refusing to disperse or occupying private property.

Once the bulk of protesters had gone home, clashes erupted between hardliners wielding sticks and riot police, filling the Invalides Esplanade with tear gas. The violence was less severe than at the end of previous demonstrations, however.

Police said 150,000 marched on Sunday while protest organizers said a million people took part.


Interior Minister Manuel Valls warned protesters on Saturday not to bring children along because of violence he feared after far-right militants clashed with police at recent rallies. He mobilized 4,500 police to secure the event.

Many parents ignored his warnings and some picnicked with children on the lawn at the rally. “Look, it’s perfectly safe here,” said Elisabeth Huet from Orleans, who marched along with her adult daughter and three small grandchildren.

A survey published on Sunday showed 53 percent of those polled support gay marriage and adoption, indicating a slide of about 10 points since the protests began last November. It said 72 percent thought the protests should stop now.

Plagued by economic recession, unemployment at more than 10 percent and pressure to reduce the public deficit, Hollande got some respite on Sunday from another poll showing his record low popularity had inched up four points to 29 percent this month.

While leaders of Hollande’s Socialist Party denounced the protest against a law already passed in parliament and validated by the Constitutional Council, the conservative UMP party was split over whether to continue the rallies.

There were fewer Catholic priests than at earlier demonstrations. Several bishops joined previous marches, but distanced themselves as protests became more openly political.

France’s first gay wedding is due to take place on Wednesday in Montpellier, France’s self-proclaimed capital of gay culture.

France, a traditionally Catholic country, followed 13 others including Canada, Denmark, Sweden and most recently Uruguay and New Zealand in allowing gay and lesbian couples to wed.

In the United States, Washington, D.C., and 12 states have legalized same-sex marriage.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


France’s Hollande Signs Gay Marriage Law.

PARIS — French President Francois Hollande has signed into law a bill allowing same-sex marriage, making France the 14th country to legalize gay weddings.

France’s official journal announced on Saturday the bill had become law after the Constitutional Council gave it the go-ahead on Friday.

The bill, a campaign pledge by the Socialist president, has been for months hotly contested by many conservatives in France, where allowing gay marriage is one of the biggest social reforms since abolition of the death penalty in 1981.

Opponents have staged huge and often violent demonstrations against the bill and have called yet another protest on May 26. The leader of opposition to gay marriage, a political activist and humorist who goes under the name of Frigide Barjot, has said the protest would draw millions into the streets.

Montpellier mayor Helene Mandroux, who is due to celebrate France’s first gay marriage in the southern city on May 29, said the law marked a major social advance.

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“Love has won out over hate,” she said, while voicing concerns the first gay wedding could attract violent protests.

France, a predominantly Catholic country, follows 13 others including Canada, Denmark, Sweden and most recently Uruguay and New Zealand in allowing gay and lesbian couples to wed. In the United States, Washington D.C. and 12 states have legalized same-sex marriage.

Unlike former president Francois Mitterrand‘s abolition of the death penalty, which most French people opposed at the time, polls showed more than half the country backed gay marriage.

Nonetheless, with Hollande’s popularity ratings at record lows a year into office, the law has proved costly for the president with critics saying it has distracted his attention from reviving the recession-hit economy.

After lawmakers adopted the bill in late April, opponents had sought to scupper it with a last-ditch appeal to the Constitutional Council.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

France’s Socialist Hollande Pushes for Single Eurozone Govt.

PARIS — French President Francois Hollande called on Thursday for an economic government in the eurozone that would have its own budget, the right to issue debt, a harmonized tax system, and a full-time president.

Speaking at a news conference marking his first year in office, a day after economic data showed France had slipped back into recession, the Socialist leader said he sought to create a full political European Union (EU) within two years.

His proposals seemed likely to encounter stiff resistance from Germany, Europe’s leading power, which opposes mutualizing debt among European states and is reluctant to give the eurozone its own secretariat or create new divisions in the EU, of which 10 countries are not in the 17-nation single currency.

It also comes as Britain’s government faces growing domestic pressure to hold a referendum on leaving the bloc.

“My initiative has four points that I am putting to our partners. The first is to create an economic government with the eurozone countries which would meet every month with a real president appointed for a long period and who would be devoted to this task,” Hollande said.

“This economic government will debate the main political and economic decisions to be taken by the member states, harmonize tax policy, start the convergence of social policies from the top, and launch a battle against tax fraud,” he said.

The other planks were:

— an initiative to bring forward planned EU spending to combat youth unemployment, now at record levels across southern Europe;

— a European energy community to coordinate the transition to renewable energy sources;

— “a new stage in fiscal integration with a budget capacity that would be granted to the eurozone and the gradual possibility of raising debt”.

Hollande, whose approval rating has fallen further than any previous elected president in his first year, sought to reassure his left-wing electorate that he remained true to his Socialist colors, saying France could keep its generous welfare state provided it was made more efficient.

He expressed full confidence in Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and played down criticism of clashes among his ministers on economic policy, saying there might eventually be a reshuffle but not now.

But he said the current pension system was unsustainable and, ahead of a reform due later this year, said the French would have to work longer in future to receive a full pension.

He stuck to a promise to reverse the rising trend in unemployment by the end of the year, despite widespread skepticism among economists that this can be achieved while the economy remains flat.

He also called for a 10-year public investment plan in the digital sector, the promised energy transition, public health and in big transport infrastructure projects.

Hollande said it was paradoxical that Europe, which remained the world’s number one economic power, was regarded “as a sick, declining, doubting continent.”

“It is my responsibility as the leader of a founder member of the European Union . . . to pull Europe out of this torpor which has gripped it, and to reduce people’s disenchantment with it.” he said.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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


France Approves Gay Marriage Despite Protest.

France legalized gay marriage on Tuesday after a wrenching national debate that has exposed deep conservatism in the nation’s heartland and triggered huge protests that tapped into deep discontent with the Socialist government.

Legions of officers with water cannon braced outside the National Assembly for violence that had not come by late evening. The protests against the measure included thousands but were peaceful. Other gatherings were simply celebrations.

But it was an issue that galvanized the country’s faltering right, which had been decimated by infighting and their election loss to President Francois Hollande.

The measure passed easily in the Socialist-majority Assembly, 331-225, just minutes after the president of the legislative body expelled a disruptive protester in pink, the color adopted by French opponents of gay marriage.

Justice Minister Christiane Taubira told lawmakers that the first weddings could be as soon as June.

“We believe that the first weddings will be beautiful and that they’ll bring a breeze of joy, and that those who are opposed to them today will surely be confounded when they are overcome with the happiness of the newlyweds and the families,” she said.

Outside the Parliament building on Paris’ Left Bank there appeared to be more police than protestors.

Claire Baron, 41, a mother of two, said that she “will oppose the bill until the end.”

“I’ll keep going to the protests, I don’t give in. The bill is not effective yet, the president of the Republic must listen to our voices. We are here to defend family values. Children need a mom and a dad,” Baron said.

In recent weeks, violent attacks against gay couples have spiked and some legislators have received threats — including Claude Bartelone, the Assembly president, who got a gunpowder-filled envelope on Monday.

One of the biggest protests against same-sex marriage drew together hundreds of thousands of people bused in from the French provinces — conservative activists, schoolchildren with their parents, retirees, priests and others. That demonstration ended in blasts of tear gas, as right-wing rabble-rousers, some in masks and hoods, led the charge against police, damaging cars along the Champs-Elysees avenue and making a break for the presidential palace.

Following the vote members of the gay and lesbian community flocked to a square in central Paris, just behind City Hall, to celebrate the vote.

“I feel immense joy, gigantic joy,” said 39-year old Sylvain Rouzel, “at last, everyone has the same rights. This is huge! France was lagging behind. We had to wait 14 years after the civil union to finally obtain the right to get married, with equal rights for everyone. I feel great!”

Paris’ openly gay mayor, Bertrand Delanoe, was among the crowd of hundreds gathered for the street celebration in the Marais, the city’s historic gay neighborhood.

When Hollande promised to legalize gay marriage, it was seen as relatively uncontroversial. The issue has become a touchstone as his popularity has sunk to unprecedented lows, largely over France’s ailing economy.

“The opposition is in a weakened position, but they know which buttons to press in order to get a reaction in society, in a country as liberal as France, where nobody thought it was an issue,” said Hossein Alizadeh, a coordinator with the U.S.-based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission who has followed the issue.

But the most visible face in the fight against gay marriage — a former comedienne who goes by the name of Frigide Barjot — said the movement named “A Protest for Everyone” will continue beyond the law’s passage and possibly field candidates in 2014 municipal elections. She said anyone involved in protest violence would be marginalized, but blamed the government for its failure to listen.

“The violence comes from the way in which this was imposed,” Barjot told France Info radio.

French conservatives, decimated by infighting and the election loss of standard-bearer Nicolas Sarkozy, found common cause in opposing same-sex marriage. Hoping to keep the issue alive, the conservative UMP party planned to challenge the law in the Constitutional Council.

“The controversy that we’ve seen has been a stoked and manipulated controversy that’s really kind of a last-ditch attempt to block the tide of history,” said Evan Wolfson, president of the American activist group Freedom to Marry, which he said worked with the French on the bill. “I don’t think it spoke to a deep or wide opposition among the French people.”

French civil unions, allowed since 1999, are at least as popular among heterosexuals as among gay and lesbian couples. But that law has no provisions for adoption, and the strongest opposition in France as far as same-sex couples goes comes when children are involved. According to recent polls, just over half of French are opposed to adoption by same-sex couples — about the same number who said they favored same-sex marriage.

Christophe Crepin, spokesman for the police union UNSA, says the extraordinary security Tuesday included a total of about 4,000 officers in the area near the National Assembly building and water cannon positioned nearby. One group of anti-riot police swarmed the banks of the Seine River about a quarter-mile from the legislature, hours before protests were scheduled there.

France is the 14th country to legalize gay marriage nationwide —and the most populous. On the cover of Tuesday’s Liberation newspaper, the famed gay photographers Pierre and Gilles took over the front page and several of the inside pages, splashing them with some of their most provocative photos, including one of three soccer players — nude but for the footwear — facing the camera.

In New Zealand, where gay marriage enjoys popular support, people gathered outside Parliament and joined in singing a traditional Maori love ballad after a vote last week making it legal. Nine states and the District of Columbia in the U.S. also recognize such marriages, but the federal government does not.


© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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