Tag Archives: France

Non-Reported French Nuclear Accident Raises Questions

An accident in a nuclear reactor in the south of France went unreported in the European press even though the incident raised questions concerning the safety of nuclear energy plants such as the ones France has promised to construct in Libya. The incident occurred the first week in July just as Nicolas Sarkozy assumed the role of president of the European Union. The plant malfunction led to 30,000 litres of a solution containing 12% enriched uranium to overflow from a reservoir into the nearby Gaffiere and Lauzon rivers. Evangelia Petit, admitted the concentration of uranium in the two rivers was now 1,000 times higher than normal but she downplayed the consequences of the accident insisting the risk posed to humans was “slight.”

However, local authorities apparently did not accept her verdict that things were not that bad because there was uranium in the rivers. Inhabitants of nearby towns and villages have been banned from fishing, swimming, drawing well water or using water from the polluted rivers for irrigation purposes. The area is noted for its grapes which are used in making several brands of wines.

The Green Party blog of Malta expressed concern that France was going to construct nuclear energy plants in nearby Libya. There is fear an accident in a nuclear plant to be built on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea might result in extensive pollution to a water body which is essential to the lives of millions.

There is no question great improvements have been made in safety of nuclear plants, but the world has yet to reach a point in which the presence of nuclear plants doesn’t also cause a risk to local populations.

Clang, Clang, Clang, Goes Trolley In France!

France is enjoying a renewed love affair with the trolley as several cities from Nantes to Marseilles are constructing high-tech streetcar lines as important new components of urban redevelopment. A bright yellow with black stripes tram now runs through Mulhouse at eight minute intervals like a streak of light. Mayor Michel Samuel Weis says, “we wanted a tram that called attention to itself as a symbol of economic vitality, environmental awareness and civic improvement–transportation as an integrated cultural concept.” In order to install the new network which also connects outlying municipalities, streets, sidewalks and bike paths had to be thoroughly overhauled and the strips of land on which the tracks run have been given fresh green turf.

The tram lines have been constructed to be people friendly with station platforms that come up to the height of the tram door so a m other can simply wheel out the baby carriage. The French government hopes the trams will help deal with automobile gridlock by offering a relaxed and comfortable way to get around a city. The tram is also able to connect poorer areas of a city and other localities with the city’s center enabling poorer people access to all aspects of modern urban life.

EU Police Innovation To Assist Tourists!

It is not unusual for those who travel to encounter problems of crime or whether their behavior is in accordance with local laws and regulations. The French government is sponsoring meetings with members of EU interior ministries in order to experiment with a new approach to police work. The idea is establishing police stations in areas frequented by tourists that are run by police from various nations. The goal, for example, would be having an American police station in Paris that would be available to American tourists who encounter difficulties with the law. An English speaking policeman would accompany them in their interactions with French police authorities.

French Interior Minister Michele Allot-Marie said the goals was enabling citizens of a country “access to police from their home and also(who) speak their language.” As part of the program police would received training in multiculturalism so they would be more familiar with issues pertaining to tourists who frequent their area of the country.

This is an excellent experimentation that will assist in protection of human rights for people who are in a strange area of the world.

Sarkozy Urges Israel Peace With Palestinians

President Sarkozy of France is in Israel where he urged its leadership to undertake the perilous, but much needed, pursuit of peace with Palestinians. The French leader recognized there has been too much killing and fear in the region which makes imperative ensuring that peace can be assured as soon as possible. “There is no sense in counting more dead. Now, is the time to turn the page.” Sarkozy appeared to indicate a mistake made by Israel was depending upon the United States to help it achieve peace. “It is a mistake to think anyone else can do it for you.” it must be accomplished by Israel and Palestinian leaders coming together and compromising in order to attain peace.

President Sarkozy admitted he also feared Iran’s potential as an atomic power leader, but also felt it was necessary to move forward in a cautious and united manner. The French president also made clear to Israel leaders he disagreed with their policies of continuing housing construction on the West Bank and in east Jerusalem. Although France and the EU wish a safe and secure Israel, he felt it important to also note mistakes made by Israel in pursuit of that goal.

Putin-US A Frightening Monster Abroad!

Prime Minister Vladmir Putin while on a trip to France told its leaders to avoid behaving like the United States which he characterized as a nation that threatens world peace. “How can one be such a shining example of democracy at home and a frightening monster abroad? he asked. Putin accusd the United States of building new Berlin Walls in Europe by pushing NATO to expand into ex-Soviet Unin states like Georgia and the Ukraine. The Russian leader urged France to pursue its own foreign policy and not ape that of the United States. “France, I hope, will continue to conduct an independent foreign policy. This is in the nature of French people, they don’t ant their country tied down, and any French leader will have to respect that.”

The Bush administration has opened the door for nations like Russia to assume the mantle of leading the fight for peace. As long as the United States pushes for anti-missile bases in Europe against non-existant enemies, the Russian government can come across as one which seeks peace, not war. Hopefully, a new president of the United States will rethink Bush foreign policy goals in Europe.

French Government Initiates Talks With Hamas

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, confirmed that his government had been in contact with Hamas officials. His representative in talking with Hamas is a retired ambassador who has told the media of his contacts. “It would be difficult to deny it(talks with Hamas) since the man who is in touch with them has spoken.” Kouchner emphasized, that “having contacts is necessary. We had some before the invasion(takeover of Gaza)” by Israel forces. The French Foreign Minister pointed out the obvious, “they are not relations, they are contacts. We have to be able to speak to each other if we want to play a role, if we want our emissaries to go to Gaza.”

France’s former ambassador, Yves Aubin de La Messuziere, told Le Figaro, Hamas officials had repeated to him their offer of a long term accomodation with the Jewish state if Israel agrees to the 1967 borders. Hamas officials told him, “they were prepared to stop suicide attacks and what surprised me was that the Hamas leaders recognize the legitimacy of Mahmoud Abbas.”

If a nation does not accept the necessity of discussing issues with an enemy how will it ever be able to change policies in order to reach an agreement?

India Critical Of French Ban On Turbans

An interesting case was brought before the Supreme Court of India by the Singh Legal Foundation which asked it to accept jurisdiction over the decision by France to ban Sikhs from wearing the turben. The Court was sympathetic to the issue raised by the Sikh group, but noted: “We can only protect the fundamental rights of the citizens within the boundary of India. Fundamental rights cannot be protected in foreign lands.” The Singh Foundation argued the French ban violated the rights of Sikhs and it was the duty of the government of India to intervene. However, the Supreme Court noted that Sikhs could seek the assistance of the International Court of Justice or the European Court.

We increasingly live in times when a decision in one country impacts the lives of those living in other nations. The Supreme Court of India is correct on one point, international courts must assume responsibility for violation of human rights within an individual nation.

French Prime Minister Opposes Turkey In EU

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon while on trip to Cyprus stated that his nation opposes the entry of Turkey into the European Union. He used the occasion for his talks with Cyprus President Demitris Christoflas to make clear his nation is against Turkey’s entry into the EU because it has “occupation troops” in Cyprus which is an EU member. His comment is among the first times in which the French government has publicly bluntly stated that it is against Turkey becoming a member of the European Union.

During the past few months, French President Sarkozy has floated many ideas such as formation of a Mediterranean Union in which Turkey could play a leading role and has dodged clearly explaining his reasons for opposing Turkey’s membership application. Not many believe Fillon’s reason that opposition is based on the situation in Cyprus. It most probably stems from the large number of Muslims in France and fear that Turkey’s membership would result in even more Muslims coming to France.

Chinese Nationalism Erupts Against French And West

The Chinese people endured over a hundred years of being treated as a second-rate nation while European nations seized “spheres of influence” in a country whose history had created strong feelings of pride. Recent protests in Tibet were viewed by many Chinese people as an insult to their nation since many regard the struggle for Tibetan autonomy as
a Western attempt to divide their nation. After President Sarkozy indicated the possibility he might boycott opening ceremonies of the Olympics, thousands of Chinese people demonstrated against the French supermaket Carrefour to express their anger. More than 1,000 people carrying banners gathered in front of the Carrefour outlet in Xi’an chanting, “Oppose Tibet Independence,” “Go China,” and “Condemn CNN.”

A front page editorial in People’s Daily urged the nation to cherish patriotism. “As citizens, we have the responsibility to express our patriotic enthusiasm calmly and rationally and express patriotic aspiration in an orderly and legal manner.” It appears the Chinese government wants some protests but doesn’t wish to put things to the extent of getting into boycotts since such action could backfire against Chinese products in other nations.

There may well be greater anger among Chinese people against what they perceive was a distored reporting of events in Tibet by CNN and BBC. Several pieces of footage were identified which contained erroneous shots of events.

Many Western human rights organizatons may have misunderstood the extent of Chinese pride and nationalism. Unfortunately, most Chinese people are not concerned about the rights or feelings of Tibetans.

Sarkozy Seeks Argentine Aid To Halt Chavez

President Sarkozy of France is concerned about the behavior of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and reportedly has asked assistance from newly elected President Christina Fenandez de Kirchner to contain the eratic actions of Chavez. Sarkozy believes the Venezuelan who regards Fidel Castro as a role model, has become a “cause for concern for Europe.” Many in Europe believe Chavez threatens stability in Latin America by encouraging radical groups to exert economic power in order to curtail America’s influence in the region. In a sense, he offered to represent the interests of Argentine in Europe if she would represent the interests of France in Latin America.

Chavez frequently is more mouth than reality. He draws upon Cuba for assistance in areas such as medicine, but there is no indication Castro is held in high regard by modern day Latin American youth. President Morales in Bolivia has many internal problems to confront and lacks money, time, or energy to influence other nations of South America.