The dog days of summer are not providing me with many newsworthy events. Sometimes it is better not to post. But here are a few stories, in alternating colors, encapsulated into the fewest possible words.
Nicolas Sarkozy will go to Beijing for the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games. However he indicated that his presence could be conditioned by the progress, or lack thereof, in talks between Chinese authorities and the Dalai Lama. Sarkozy met with Chinese leader Hu Xintao during the G-8 summit in Japan, and emphasized the "Olympian values of peace, friendship and fraternity."
However one member of Sarkozy's UMP party, Lionel Luca, is calling for a complete boycott of the games and has accused Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner of spreading Chinese propaganda.
Nicolas Sarkozy will extradite to Italy Marina Petrella, the 54-year-old former member of the Red Brigade, convicted in absentia in Italy to a life sentence, arrested in France in 2007, and now a patient in the psychiatric ward of the Fleury-Mérogis prison where doctors say she is in serious condition, refusing to eat and saying she would rather die than be extradited. Sarkozy has requested that the Italian authorities attempt to persuade Italian President Giorgio Napolitano to pardon the woman accused of participating in many of the hundreds of murders committed by the Red Brigade in the 60's and 70's that included the murder of Prime Minister Aldo Moro.
Sarkozy said it was a "humanitarian gesture" considering the years that have passed and her state of health.
But the French Human Rights League is accusing Sarkozy of "turning over to his friend Silvio Berlusconi a woman in danger of death." They insist that Nicolas Sarkozy is "morally and personally responsible" for whatever happens to Marina Petrella.
Today's edition (July 9) of Le Salon Beige announces with satisfaction that President Napolitano has put Sarkozy in his place reminding him that there are constitutional laws governing the granting of pardons.
Former presidential candidate Ségolène Royal (photo) is back in the news in two stories. First, she was severely criticized by the Left for saying that Nicolas Sarkozy had nothing to do with the release of Ingrid Betancourt, implying of course that Colombian president and Catholic conservative Alvaro Uribe really WAS the man responsible, implying further that American training helped also. Apparently such sentiments are not allowed on the Left, even if (especially if) they are true.
More recently she has accused the government of being behind the recent break-in of her apartment on June 21, which she says, coincided with criticisms she made of Sarkozy's tyrannical hold on France. She insists it has to be more than a coincidence since it is the second time such a break-in has occurred, the first being during the presidential campaign.
Madame Royal remarked that now it appeared the government had a stronghold on the media. (sic)
Her accusations have unleashed a flood of angry commentary from the UMP party, whose spokesman says "she will stop at nothing to stay alive."
An article from Yahoo informs us that 60% of the French people are unhappy with Nicolas Sarkozy. The poll involved 893 persons aged 18 and above. Prime Minister François Fillon received 43% of favorable votes and 44% unfavorable. The release of Ingrid Betancourt is said to have had only an ephemeral effect on Sarkozy's popularity.
Police in London arrested a 33-year-old unemployed man, Nigel Edward Farmer, for the murders of French students Gabriel Ferez and Laurent Bonomo on June 29. Farmer turned himself in on Monday and was treated for burns before being charged. Apparently he fits the description of the police portrait: a white-skinned man between 30 and 40 wearing a baseball cap. The IHT has the story.
Just now I see that there have been more arrests. Earlier in the week the police had released a suspect, also "white-skinned", for lack of evidence.
Earlier this week Nicolas Sarkozy aroused the approbation of his own party and the ire of the French labor unions when he declared "Nowadays, when there is a strike, nobody notices." Union leaders retorted with comments such as : "grandstanding"; "strikes are like polls, they go up and down, and right now, Nicolas Sarkozy is very low in the polls"; "Sarkozy has gone too far and should be more careful;" Nicolas Sarkozy has "an archaic vision of unionism."
Le Salon Beige has more finely-tuned criticism of Sarkozy's remark, in which he makes light of what people really have to endure during a strike:
"His statement is totally false. Just ask the commuters, the parents of school children, etc... Moreover this self-satisfaction reflects the lack of respect that the Chief Executive has for the demands, justified or not, made by those concerned over the motivations for these strikes." (...)