Reports

  • French youth caught in a spiral of poverty and unemployment

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    The French presidential election campaign is underway, after President Nicolas Sarkozy left little doubt in his television interview Thursday that he would be a candidate for his own succession. One of the issues he will be judged upon is the programme he launched in 2009 to combat youth unemployment, and notably the rising numbers of youngsters who are dropping out of the system, unqualified and permanently unemployed. Two years after the president presented his government's ambitious ‘Acting for youth' plan, 20% of 18-25 year-olds in France live below the poverty line, representing half of the country's poor, and 22% of 15-25 year-olds are unemployed. Noémie Rousseau has been seeking out the experiences of those at the frontline reinsertion centres, and their accounts paint a grim picture.

  • The roadmap to a non-nuclear, low carbon future for France

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    In a country which gets around 75% of its electricity from nuclear power, and billions of euros from exportation of its civil nuclear technology, the call to dump it could appear akin to science fiction. Yet Négawatt, an association of French environmentalist energy specialists, drew a crowd for its recent presentation of a plan for France to pull out of nuclear energy by 2033 while also halving CO2 emissions by 2030 and converting almost entirely to renewables by 2050. The nuclear industry and two ministries sent emissaries, and the plan now looks set to feature in the 2012 presidential election campaign. Jade Lindgaard reports.

  • October 17, 1961: the night Paris police turned mass murderers

    This Monday marks the macabre anniversary of one night of events that have largely been written out of official French history. On October 17th 1961, hundreds of Algerian pro-independence demonstrators were attacked and murdered by Paris police, most of them thrown into the river Seine. Official records report only two people died. The day will be marked by a series of demonstrations around France, calling for the formal recognition of the massacre that has remained smothered by cynicism, and latterly indifference, for half a century. Patricia Brett reports on the background and details of that sinister, cold autumn evening.

  • The worldwide treasure hunt behind the stunning Stein collection on show in Paris

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     © Succession H. Matisse /SFMOMA. © Succession H. Matisse /SFMOMA.
    The Grand Palais in Paris is hosting an exceptional exhibition of major modern artworks from the widely scattered collection of the celebrated Stein family of art patrons who settled in the French capital from the US in the early 20th century. The stunning show of works by Renoir, Cézanne, Picasso, Matisse (photo), Manguin and Bonnard - to name but a few - is the fruit of five years of dogged detective work by specialists in France and from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. Joseph Confavreux talks to the team behind this unprecedented worldwide treasure hunt.
  • French Socialist candidates face dogfight for party left

    François Hollande and Martine Aubry have emerged as the finalists in the first round of voting in the French Socialist Party primaries held to choose a candidate in next year's presidential elections. As the showdown between the two approaches in a final poll next weekend, the major upset for both was the unexpectedly high score reached by the party's radical candidate Arnaud Montebourg. Both candidates must reach out to his supporters, and the testing task promises some lively debate in the coming days. Stéphane Alliès and Lénaïg Bredoux report.

  • 'Fed up and ready to change jobs': how French teachers see the crisis in education

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    About 130,000 teachers took to streets in towns and cities across France last week for a day of strike and protest at 14,000 job cuts in the state education system announced for 2012. The planned cuts will bring the number of teaching jobs axed under President Nicolas Sarkozy's five-year mandate to 80,000. Meanwhile, the numbers of pupils each year entering schools nationwide are increasing. Cécile Alibert and Noemie Rousseau joined the demonstration in Paris last week to interview teachers about their individual experiences and complaints.
  • Arms dealer suspect in political funding scam probe issues 'warning' to President Sarkozy

    Franco-Lebanese arms dealer Ziad Takieddine, at the centre of what has become known as the ‘Karachi affair', involving secret political funding from commissions paid in French weapons sales abroad, has given a detailed interview to French TV news channel BFMTV (photo), in which he appeared to address a warning to President Nicolas Sarkozy, now increasingly implicated in the case: "I want to see the president, he has an interest, I think, and France has an interest, that he receives me for at least 15 minutes."

  • Privacy abuse fears as French police launch cyber-spy ops

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    As of this month, French police and gendarmerie forces are authorised to install spyware on the computers of suspects in investigations into organised crime, a term that ranges from terrorism to illegal immigration. The move has prompted concerns among civil liberties groups and even magistrates who warn that the new powers come with too much scope for abuse. Louise Fessard reports.

  • Net closes in on French presidency after funding 'scam' arrests

    Two of President Nicolas Sarkozy's close entourage have been arrested and placed in police custody for questioning over their roles in a suspected illegal political party funding scam connected to French weapons sales to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The arrests threaten the political future of the president who, when budget minister, authorized the financial arrangements for the payment of commissions through which the kickbacks were allegedly channeled.

  • Spitsbergen: a visit into the bowels of the bank of bio-diversity

    Longyearbyen, capitale de l'archipel de Svalbard. © M.G. Longyearbyen, capitale de l'archipel de Svalbard. © M.G.

    A great but tainted notion for some, a treasure trove for others: the Svalbard Global Seed Vault has been described variously as a 'Noah's Ark', 'Garden of Eden' and a 'world treasure'. It is a very special vault, wedged smack into the frozen heart of an Arctic archipelago near the North Pole, designed to hold and preserve seed samples of every food crop in the world. In the first of this two-part report, Mathilde Goanec in Spitsbergen (photo) takes us on a guided tour.