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Prophet of Outrage

How an obscure pamphlet by a former resistance fighter inspired Europe’s grassroots protesters.
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Marine Le Pen's New National Front in France

Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front, reached historic heights by gaining 18 percent of France’s vote in the first round of the 2012 presidential election—making her a potential kingmaker. In February 2011 profile, Tracy McNicoll explains why Le Pen is not exactly Daddy’s girl.
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Wiera Gran: Strange Saga of a Warsaw Ghetto Singer

Amid horrific Nazi madness, Wiera Gran sang love songs in the Warsaw Ghetto. Within the walls of that grim urban cage, the 25-year-old petite Jewish beauty drew crowds to the ghetto’s Café Sztuka, crooning standards from happier times in a deep, velvety lilt. She died, many decades later, in 2007, in a Paris at peace, caged in her own filthy, darkened hovel, consumed with hatred, sick with fear. She had scrawled words on every surface in her oppressive 16th-arrondissement flat, crippled by paranoia yet determined to defend her name. A hallway wall screamed in thick red marker, “Help! Szpilman and Polanski’s clique want to kill me! HELP!”

France's Baby Boom

The brooding French may be the world’s biggest pessimists—61 percent anticipated more economic hardship in 2011, more than twice the global average, according to a recent Gallup International poll—but they’re still adding new infants to their healthy broods.
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Soccer Legend Urges French to Withdraw Bank Money

The former soccer star Eric Cantona is beloved for his dazzling feats on the pitch and became a screen actor most celebrated when he played himself. Now he's making waves by calling for his French compatriots to withdraw their money from banks.
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A Pyrrhic Victory in France

Nicolas Sarkozy may well win his pension battle against the unions, but the French president will have little cause to celebrate. After weeks of strikes, fuel blockades, and street protests, the Senate finally passed his austerity bill late last week, another major legislative step toward raising the retirement age from 60 to 62 and the age at which workers can retire on full pension from 65 to 67. He needs to reassure financial markets that heavily indebted France is serious about reform. But as Sarkozy nears victory in Parliament, France’s unions are determined to keep fighting. The latest polls say a full 69 percent of the public is on their side, and new strikes and protests are scheduled for Oct. 28 and Nov. 6, just before Sarkozy signs the bill into law.

High-School Protesters Add to Pressure on Sarkozy

The French president's sinking popularity continues to be battered, with a new nationwide protest expected to send more than 1 million angry marchers into the streets this weekend. The protests target Sarkozy’s pension-reform plan and are now drawing high-school students, who won't retire until at least 2058.

New Books on Carla Bruni-Sarkozy Fascinate

Michelle Obama may not think that her days at the White House are “hell.” But, for allegedly suggesting Obama had told her as much, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy was on the hot seat after the September release of two new unauthorized biographies of the French first lady. The books, which catalog Bruni-Sarkozy’s indiscretions, grabbed headlines around the world and indicate how enduring—though ambivalent—our fascination is with France’s mercurial pop star turned première dame.
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Algeria, France's Other National Soccer Team

The widely despised French national soccer team will slink home after disgracing itself at the World Cup. But there are so many French-born players on Algeria’s national team—eligible thanks to FIFA’s new dual-citizenship rules—that they are being called “the other French team.”
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Jérôme Kerviel's Trial Seems Insignificant Now

Jérôme Kerviel, the rogue trader who lost billions for the French bank Société Générale, begins his trial today. The financial calamities we've witnessed since his crime make his $5.9 billion loss seem almost quaint.

France Girds Itself For Pension Reform

As the debt-ridden Greek government remains mired in a fight to cut pension benefits and raise the retirement age, Europe’s next pension-reform battle is already looming to the west. French president Nicolas Sarkozy is bringing pension reform to the fore of his agenda—but the issue could end up being his Waterloo. It’s his most important battle, at the worst time, but it can’t wait.

France Girds Itself for Pension Reform

As the debt-ridden Greek government remains mired in a fight to cut pension benefits and raise the retirement age, Europe's next pension-reform battle is already looming to the west. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is bringing pension reform to the fore of his agenda—but the issue could end up being his Waterloo. It's his most important battle, at the worst time, but it can't wait. Sarkozy's current approval ratings, about 30 percent, have never been lower, and midterm elections have galvanized his rivals. Meanwhile, France's powerful unions are intent on keeping the country's generous social safety nets in place, pointing to evidence that they helped cushion the French from the worldwide financial crisis. But the truth is that the economic downturn has accelerated France's pension crisis exponentially, and the French way of life is more unsustainable than ever. Scary scenarios outlined only three years ago forecasting a €24.8 billion pension...

france can't seal the deal

When Fench president Nicolas ­Sarkozy dines with Barack Obama at the White House this week, expect the smiles to be strained. A pair of multibillion-dollar military-­procurement disputes have marred relations in recent weeks. When Northrop Grumman, in partnership with European aerospace firm EADS, charged favoritism for Boeing and withdrew its bid for a $35 billion Pentagon contract, Sarkozy accused the U.S. of "protectionism." Meanwhile, Sarkozy's recent decision to sell Mistral assault ships to Russia has made Washington and NATO allies nervous. Don't be surprised if it seems as though Paris is putting economics ahead of smooth relations with America. France is unusually reliant on big global contracts, thanks to an economy heavily dependent on a stable of world-class firms with tight historical links to the state. The president is expected to help these companies strike deals, meaning that setbacks aren't just economic--they're political. With France...

Sarkozy Refuses to Let Camus Rest in Peace

When Albert Camus died in a 1960 car accident in Villeblevin, France, at the age of 46, he was buried in the scenic Provençal village of Lourmarin, where the celebrated novelist had bought a house with the money from his 1957 Nobel Prize. He was drawn to the region for its resemblance to his native Algeria, and his grave lies peacefully in the shade of a cypress tree, beneath a beating sun and buzzing cicadas. It would be, under most circumstances, an uncontroversial spot for a literary hero to rest in peace.Alas, not in France. Fifty years after his death, the author of The Stranger and The Rebel has been thrust to the center of a virulent and peculiarly French debate over politics and how best to honor the nation's cultural heroes—really, how best to honor its culture, period. In November, when President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed moving the writer's remains to the Pantheon, the grand Paris mausoleum dedicated to the country's greats, he opened a rift much deeper than Camus's grave....

NATO's Secretary-General on Reaching Out to Russia

NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen has been on the job for only six months, but the former Danish prime minister will soon draft a road map for the alliance's next 10 years. He sat down with NEWSWEEK's Tracy McNicoll in his Brussels office last week to discuss his challenges and a new idea for engaging Russia. Excerpts: ...

Paris Seeks to Become Capital of Islamic Finance

French politics might live uneasily with Islam--battling over burkas, sparring over veils--but French economists are keen to make Islamic finance a crisis buster in Paris. Finance minister Christine Lagarde is trying to attract Islamic banking, which has grown 10 to 15 percent a year since 2003 to become a global industry totaling more than $700 billion today. That's a smart move: the global economic meltdown has made Sharia-compatible finance especially attractive. Islamic banking eschews much of the risky behavior that brought conventional finance to its knees, including speculation; it also prohibits interest, helping to prevent debt spirals. And since it favors long-term investment in real estate and infrastructure, it could provide much-needed cash for France's economy. A 2008 report for lobbying group Paris Europlace argued France could become a global leader in the field, drawing $145 billion in capital by 2020 and challenging London's current dominance in the...

Aging Crisis Will Soon Hit Developing World

Judging by headlines on the U.S.'s and Europe's retirement crisis, you'd think the specter of aging populations plagued only rich countries. But a top French demographer says that developing nations will actually be the hardest hit by the gray wave.  ...

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