Libreville, Gabon: When President Ali Bongo celebrated Press Freedom Day on May 3, the vast majority of Gabon’s press boycotted the event and held their own meeting elsewhere in Libreville, the capital. Speaking before a handful of pro-government media, Bongo complained that the opposition press demand subsidies but spend their time insulting him, once again demonstrating a 50 year Bongo family tradition of confusing state finances with private assets. “The press is against me,” he lamented. Bongo’s statement underlined the extent to which Gabon’s media landscape is polarized as we head to presidential elections in August. Continue reading “Gabon’s media landscape is a mess”
Paris: France is bankrupt. In terms of the Maastricht criteria, French public debt is 97% of GDP, or roughly two trillion euros. But add to this, the off-balance-sheet debt (estimated at over three trillion euros) such as pensions (19 billion euros a year deficit), unemployment insurance (over five billion/year deficit), health care system (15 billion/year deficit) and other social guaranties supposed to finance themselves and the real debt of France is an astronomical 242% of GDP. Yet, labor in France refuses to hear of reform. Students, who have never worked a day in their lives, are marching with public service employees and fighting police in the streets. Continue reading “French Civil Servants, Students would rather sink than swim”
Béziers, France: Anybody who has visited France’s beautiful old cities knows you must spend as much time looking where you step as you do admiring the sites, lest you trod in dog poop —- a walk you could call the ‘dog-crap-shuffle.’
The mayor of the southern French city of Béziers is fed up with dog owners who don’t clean up after their pets have relieved themselves on the city’s sidewalks. He announced on Friday he is calling on science to find and fine the culprits’ owners. Continue reading “Béziers Tired of the Crap – DNA Testing for Dogs.”
Paris, France: Muslim fundamentalists are challenging France’s ‘line in the sand’ and the battle is now in one of the most prestigious of French institutions founded by Napoleon.
The French ‘Grande Ecole’, Sciences Politiques, was Tuesday the scene of a very strange event which is creating quite a tempest in France: Hijab Day. Muslim students at the school called on their fellow female students to wear the Islamic headscarf for a day in a bid to “demystify the cloth.” Continue reading “Islamic Veil:The Cloth of French Discord.”
Stuttgart, Germany. “All the scouts at the NFL Pro-Day were convinced,” wrote the Stuttgarter Zeitung. “The man from Aalen kindles NFL hype,” asserts Baden-Wurtenberg’s SWR radio. For the SüdWest Presse of Ulm, he is already in the NFL. “The German Wonder-Kid” the Swabian press is so excited about is 22 year-old wide-receiver Moritz Böhringer, whom they expect to be drafted into the NFL in Chicago on April 28. Continue reading “Swabian Media hype up local NFL Draft Pick.”
Tübingen, Germany: When German comedian, Jan Böhmermann, did a satirical sketch on state run ZDF TV this month, accusing the Turkish president of “repressing minorities, kicking Kurds and slapping Christians” as well as suggesting he has “sex with sheep and goats,” Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan went ballistic and called for the satirist to be prosecuted under a little known German defamation law. The row has opened a Pandora’s box of troubles for German Chancellor Angela Merkel: should the law be scrapped; how far does free speech and satire go; what grip does the Turkish president have around the Chancellor’s throat?
Continue reading “Don’t Insult the Turk! Merkel between a rock and hard place.”
Imams who tell young children they will turn into pigs and go to Hell if they listen to music; public bus drivers who refuse to drive a vehicle after a woman had driven it; airport baggage handlers who want to stop work several times a day to pray; project thugs who aggress girls not wearing a headscarf; men with several undeclared wives collecting generous family allotments for the children: just a few of the manifestations of Islamic fundamentalism those on both the left and the right claim is sweeping France.
Are hardline islamists, known as Salafists, promoting the recruitment of young French Muslims for terrorism through their preaching? The question is important because the debate in France this week could lead to the banning of a form of religious thought. Although “not all Salafists are Jihadists, all Jihadists are culturally Salafists,” said the French researcher on Islam, Gilles Kepel. Continue reading “French Premier Declares War on Radical Islamic Thought”