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

    By and
    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


    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.

  • Mounting anger over French police suicides


    The recent suicide of a policewoman in southern France has highlighted alarm in the profession over the yearly number of officers, especially the young, who take their own lives. Unions claim that many of the around 50 suicides per year are 'workplace accidents', caused by increasing stress on the job and deteriorating professional conditions. The interior ministry thas recognised just one such case. But the tragic event in July may become a landmark case. Louise Fessard reports.

  • The increasing squalor for Roma in France

    A year ago President Nicolas Sarkozy laid down a tough new policy towards Roma gypsy migrants in France that caused outcry at home and abroad, when it was even compared with the treatment of Jews during the Second World War. One year after his speech, Mediapart visited a camp for Roma north of Paris accompanied by the ‘French doctors' charity Médecins du Monde and local authorities. Cécile Alibert reports on an alarming situation.

  • Report sounds alarm over white-collar crime in France


    While President Nicolas Sarkozy has made cracking down on crime a hallmark of his policies, in particular regarding juvenile delinquents, French justice has become alarmingly coy in dealing with white-collar financial crime, according to a report from the French branch of the anti-corruption NGO Transparency International. Michel Deléan reviews the findings.

  • The changing face of the French seasonal worker


    Summer is the height of the employment season for thousands of temporary workers. The caricature of the average seasonal worker in France used to be a footloose, happy-go-lucky male party animal, sporting an all-year-round tan; in summer he served cocktails on the beach, in winter he gave ski lessons. But nowadays, ‘he' is often a she, pushing 50, with a family to feed, no hope of finding a long-term contract, and little idea of how she is going to make it through the next 12 years to retirement. Noémie Rousseau reports.

  • Elysée Palace audit demands 'transparency' on communications gurus

    The French national audit office report into spending by the French presidential offices during 2010 was largely complimentary over the achieved reduction in the administration's costs. However, it raised more than an eyebrow over the lack of accountability of spending on President Sarkozy's ‘communications' advisors. Mathilde Mathieu and Michaël Hadjenberg report.