Bertrand Delanoë: A Politician With A Joie De Vivre Platform

Bertrand Delanoë put the party back in Paris. The city's Socialist mayor turned a place derided as a "museum" into the world's suggestion box for popular festivals. He cracked down on cars and reversed the city's scourge of, in city-hall parlance, "canine dejections." And in the process, he became one of France's most popular political figures, ranking well ahead of presidential runner-up Ségolène Royal in a Paris Match poll.Anticipation is now building over a Delanoë-Royal showdown for the Socialist leadership in the fall of 2008. Such a post would give Delanoë the national-level experience and pulpit he lacks, and is considered one possible track to a Socialist nomination for the 2012 presidential election. Delanoë, a keen political operator, has said he isn't ruling anything out.Now 57, Delanoë was born and raised in colonial Tunisia and moved at the age of 14 to southwest France. In 1974 he headed to Paris, and has spent more than 30 years in city politics, with other stints as...

Christine Lagarde: An American (Style) in Paris

Christine Lagarde is a French powerhouse with an American sensibility. A former head of the global law firm Baker & McKenzie in Chicago, she is now the Finance minister of France—the first woman to hold that post in any G7 country. Helping President Nicolas Sarkozy dial back the 35-hour workweek and other perks of the cushy French labor market has put her on the front line just as unions shut down transport nationwide on Oct. 18. NEWSWEEK's Tracy McNicoll caught up with Lagarde in suburban Paris, where she talked of French pessimism, and why reform can succeed. Excerpts: ...

4 hours in…Leipzig, Germany

Once East Germany's hotbed of culture and resistance, this eclectic and energetic city is worth a look, however brief.Listen to the 800-year-old Thomanerchor boys' choir in the St. Thomas Lutheran Church, where Bach spent the last 27 years of his life as cantor (Thomaskirchhof 18).Visit the Museum in der"Runden Ecke," the eerie Stasi museum housed in the former East German state security ministry's district headquarters. The sophisticated tools of state surveillance on display are chilling (Dittrichring 24).Stroll through Mädler-passage, the most famous (and gorgeous) of Leipzig's historic shopping arcades, built around Auerbachs Keller, a 1525 restaurant that features in Goethe's "Faust" (Grimmaische Strasse 2-4).Eat hilariously elaborate ice-cream sundaes on the shady terrace of the old-school EiscaféSan Remo. Great for people-watching, too (Nikolaistrasse 1).

Mme. Sarkozy Shines As First Lady

France's scene-stealing new First Lady made a spectacular foray into geopolitics last month with her controversial role in the liberation of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor from a Libyan prison. Her actual influence in ending the eight-year ordeal remains ambiguous: "She was lucky," Saif al-Islam Qadhafi, the Libyan leader's son, told NEWSWEEK. Lucky or not, after two trips to Libya and a long conversation with the man who was once the most roguish of state leaders in his Bedouin tent, the mythmaking had begun....

France: Sarko's Eclectic Economics

New French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been labeled a free-market fan, a shameless interventionist and a spendthrift opportunist. So which of the labels fit? All of them. Sarkozy's economics are nothing if not eclectic. But in spite of that, or perhaps because of it, the new president has a better chance of galvanizing growth than any leader in decades. With a 65 percent approval rating, Sarkozy neared war hero Gen. Charles de Gaulle's record Inaugural score. Consumer confidence leapt to a five-year high in May. And Sunday's impressive win in lower-house elections gives him plenty of lawmakers to back his program of economic reform.But what, exactly, is Sarkonomics? His mix of free-enterprise friendliness and state-coddling can seem erratic. But it's a pragmatic way to get results from the globalization-leery French, who need to be reassured as much as they need to get moving. The president has won kudos from economists by promising supply-side reforms like the end of the 35-hour...

France: Another Win for Sarkozy

Was it only six weeks ago that political suspense reigned in Paris cafés? Could conservative Nicolas Sarkozy really win the nation’s highest office? People wondered if he might be thwarted by the Socialists’ comely comer, Ségolène Royal. Or perhaps even trumped by the engaging centrist François Bayrou? Well, no. And since Sarko’s triumph on May 6, this take-charge kind of guy has, yes, taken charge. In the first round of legislative elections yesterday, his UMP party steamrollered much of the opposition and it looks very likely to finish the job in runoffs next Sunday. So here’s a prediction for the next five years of French politics: all-Sarko all the time.Of the 577-member National Assembly, a record 110 candidates were elected outright last night by winning more than 50 percent of the vote in the first round. Of those, 98 are from Sarkozy’s UMP party. Only one is a Socialist. Projections for next Sunday are wide-ranging, but all forecast a Sarko landslide. With between 383 and...

Beyond British Petroleum

The side wall of Hurricane Katrina's eye passed directly over Shell Exploration & Production's Mars Tension Leg Platform, the largest producer in the Gulf of Mexico, battering it with waves 120 feet high and winds of 170mph for four hours. All told, the gulf hurricanes inflicted $300 million of damage to Shell's offshore operations in 2005. But there was a silver lining. The hurricanes prompted Shell to make redesigns, including higher decks and new materials, to protect platforms from extreme storms. "We got quite a bit of data out of the hurricane season in 2005," says Marvin Odum, Shell Exploration & Production's executive vice president for the Americas. "And that data has been rolled into the design parameters for future systems."Oil companies aren't likely to be first on anybody's green list, since they're producing the very stuff of greenhouse-gas emissions. But when it comes to facing a warming world, both as a world citizen and as a supplier of energy, parent firm...

Algeria Bombings Raise Terror Fears in Europe

Just five months ago, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika boasted proudly that his country had “definitively beaten” terrorism. On Wednesday, though, his country suffered a painful return to the past. Three coordinated bombs exploded in deadly symmetry in and around Algiers around 10.45 a.m. local time, leaving at least 24 dead and more than 200 injured. One attack, a possible assassination attempt on Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem, wrecked his government offices; another hit a police station on the airport road outside the capital. Belkhadem, who was not injured, called the attack “a cowardly, criminal terrorist act.”Shortly afterward, the Al-Jazeera TV network reported that Al Qaeda in Islamic North Africa had claimed responsibility for the blast, saying it was carried out by three suicide truck bombers. It was hardly the first assault on the Algerian capital. But the city has been largely free of such attacks since the North African nation began trying to rebuild itself...

Bayrou: France's New Man in the Middle

A month before the French go to the polls, François Bayrou's greatest asset seems to be who he's not. As voters have wearied of the in-your-face UMP party candidate Nicolas Sarkozy and the Socialists' Ségolène Royal, the self-styled centrist Bayrou has bounded up the charts. His poll numbers have quadrupled since January, and a survey last week predicted he'd come out even with Royal (at 23 percent) in the first-round ballot on April 22. If he makes it to the May 6 runoff—still a big "if"—current polls have him beating Sarkozy by 10 points....

Q&A: Valery Giscard d'Estaing 

Former French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing presided over the European constitution his compatriots rejected in a 2005 referendum. But at 81, he is still fighting for the European project. One of Europe's foremost architects sat down with NEWSWEEK's Tracy McNicoll at his Paris home to discuss the state of the Union. Excerpts: ...

Primordial Train Wreck

A 100-meter-deep tunnel near the Jura Mountains on the border of Switzerland and France is the site of what will arguably be the most important event in the history of the universe. That's where physicists at the CERN laboratory for particle physics in Geneva are building the Large Hadron Collider, a €4 billion particle accelerator. When the LHC whirs into operation in 2007, it will put Anne-Sylvie Giolo-Nicollerat and thousands of other particle physicists on a fast track to answering no lesser mystery than the origin of all things.Giolo-Nicollerat, 28, is counting on the LHC to give her a ringside seat to tiny re-enactments of the moments that followed the Big Bang, the cosmic event physicists posit begat the universe 14 billion years ago. To do this, scientists will use superconducting magnets to accelerate two protons round the track, 27km in circumference, to just under the speed of light. At that point they will have the energy of a 400-ton TGV moving at 200kph--and will smash...

Corn on the Catwalk

When France announced the first six ideas emerging from its new Agency for Industrial Innovation, media attention focused on the Quaero project. Lost in the hype over this "French Google" was something a bit more original than a clone: BioHub, a €98 million refinery that will turn starches into plastics, representing Europe's latest offensive in biotech.Biotechnology comes in colors--red for pharmaceuticals, green for agriculture and white for the use of plants to replace petroleum in everything from fuel to textiles and plastic. White biotech spells the end of petrochemicals as we know them, and is already big business. McKinsey consulting predicts that white biotech will account for 10 percent of sales, or $125 billion, within the chemical industry by 2010, up from 7 percent, or $77 billion, in 2005. Most of that comes from biofuels like ethanol, in a market with a unique competitive balance. While Europe is crippled in green biotech by popular revolt against genetically modified...

Periscope

American and Iraqi forces face a major problem in Baghdad: how to deal with the Mahdi Army, which has been linked to death squads responsible for a string of assassinations and kidnappings. Worse, the Mahdi Army's leader, Moqtada al-Sadr, seems to be losing his grip on the thousands of armed men who once followed his every word. "There are forces that are controlled by Moqtada, but there are commanders that are not controlled by him; there are death squads that are not controlled by him," U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad told NEWSWEEK.Under the leadership of Sadr, the Mahdi Army was considered a containable force, susceptible to political bargaining. But as Sadr has leaned toward moderation--his party now has 30 seats in the National Assembly--men fighting under his militia's banner have become more aggressive. In interviews with NEWSWEEK, Mahdi Army members, Iraqi politicians and Western officials describe an organization in which local commanders are increasingly...

Trouble in the Cockpit

And so the dogfight over the Rhine came to a head. Two heads, actually. A round of midair musical chairs last week saw Noel Forgeard, the French co-CEO of EADS, the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co., resign amid scandal. His German counterpart, Tom Enders, slid over to take his place at the top of the reporting chain for EADS's most prized and troubled possession, Airbus. Another Frenchman, Louis Gallois, stepped into the empty co-CEO seat. He and Enders promised to "work very closely" to end internal strife and restore customer confidence. But working jointly is arguably part of the problem. What many analysts say EADS needs is to slay the two-headed monster that is Europe's leading aerospace company and put one man in charge.Founded in 2000, EADS was supposed to demonstrate the potential of a united Europe to compete with the United States and its aerospace industry. Investors were always skeptical, saying that co-CEO posts, shared by the French and Germans, were a...

'The Art of Shrinking'

Mayor Jürgen Polzehl calls it "the art of shrinking." On the outskirts of the eastern German city of Schwedt, bulldozers have razed a series of 11-story prefab housing units, once known to residents as "The Wall" because the gray blocks obstructed the view of downtown. Built in the 1960s to house workers for the local oil refinery and paper mills, they were once celebrated as pinnacles of socialist achievement. Now 5,000 of the apartments have gone the way of socialism, and another 1,000 will follow. And that's just in Schwedt. All over Europe, there is a gathering backlash against the urban-planning ideals of the 1960s and '70s.Target A is the vast public housing known as les cités in France, Plattenbau in Germany and "council flats" in Britain. With its national populations growing only slowly or shrinking, Europe can afford to demolish housing. And these projects, hatched with so much social idealism, have become synonymous with poverty, unemployment and the kind of unrest that...

Living Little in Paris

For all its august grandeur, Paris is remarkably petite. At 105 square kilometers, Europe's smallest capital is 16 times less roomy than London. The City of Light isn't even the biggest city in France--it ranks 113th, outdone by sleepy hamlets like Aragnouet and Guémené-Penfao. With a housing shortage feeding runaway real-estate prices, and a tenacious bureaucracy that just renewed a 1977 ban on buildings taller than 37 meters, living in Paris proper increasingly means living little. And that's making big winners of the ingenious entrepreneurs who are helping squeeze Parisians into their homes.Every quartier in the capital has seen apartment prices double over eight consecutive boom years, with some districts recording 150 percent jumps. As prices rise, spaces shrink: 54 percent of Parisian apartments are smaller than 42 square meters. In 2005, the average family with two kids buying their first apartment in Paris could afford only 32.7 square meters, down a half meter in just one...

The Good Life

Bespoke tailoring used to be a luxury just for the guys. Now chic women are discovering that wearing a custom suit designed to conceal their flaws and flaunt their assets can make them look more soignée than a month of sweating in the gym. "You've only got to look at Marlene Dietrich to know how glamorous a woman looks in a well-cut suit," says HenryRose, who runs Stella McCartney's luxurious bespoke salon in Mayfair and counts Madonna among his clients. He works closely with McCartney to create slim, sexy pieces--often in vintage fabrics--featuring the designer's signature pink buttonhole (from £2,250; stellamccartney.com ).Intricate details are common. At veteran British fashion designer Paul Smith's bespoke atelier in west London, women can choose to have their suits lined with sumptuous Indian sari fabric or edged with colorful hand stitching (from £1,800; paulsmith.co.uk ). Across town in fashionable Spitalfields, hip tailor Timothy Everest makes elegant bespoke suits...

Real Absinthe

Absinthe is back. Dozens of European distillers are conjuring up the "green fairy" for new palates, its fresh, meadowy taste reminiscent of pastis. The drink was banned in America and much of Europe early last century after allegedly inducing acts of insanity, including Vincent van Gogh's decision to cut off his ear. Yet no one even knows for sure what it tasted like back then.Now an environmental chemist from New Orleans named Ted Breaux claims to have re-created the original exactly, using a couple of hundred-year-old bottles of original Pernod absinthe to distill the recipe: a half-dozen-odd botanicals, including Spanish green anise, Alpine hyssop and absinthium. The result is Absinthe Edouard 72 (a staggering 144 proof) and Jade Verte Suisse 65 (130 proof), at $90 a bottle.Every period detail is correct. Breaux, 39, chose Saumur's Combier distillery in France, with the very stills used by Pernod in the 1870s. Even the obsolete driven-in corks are accurate. And what about the...

Flight Of The French

The Belgians call them "fiscal refugees," but these refugees wear Chanel. They are runaways from high taxes in France. Officially, France has lost, on average, one millionaire or billionaire taxpayer per day for tax reasons since 1997, when the government started trying to track capital flight. Privately, economists say the number is much higher. "The statistic is stupid," holds French economist Nicolas Baverez. "It's as if, to count contraband, you only counted what people declared at the border."While much of Europe has revised its tax codes, France's fiscal inertia is virtually begging its rich to leave. Holding dear its commitment to egalite and fraternite, France has bucked the trend in the European Union, where most member states have dropped the wealth tax since the mid-1990s. France went the opposite way in 1997 by abolishing a cap that limited the wealth-tax bill, which kicks in at incomes over 720,000 euro, to 85 percent of a taxpayer's income. The result: some pay more...

A World Of Digital Dim Sum

In the beginning, our entertainment landscape looked a lot like a big family dinner. Everybody piled around the TV, and we all ate whatever the major networks were serving up. Maybe we squabbled between courses, but everyone came away largely satisfied, stuffed and lethargic.Now iPod-shuffle ahead to 2005. Entertainment is increasingly bite-size, intense, portable and on demand. The experts call it "snacking," and say there's much more to come. We've become savvy grazers in everything from personal electronics to food to travel. The world is our tapas bar, and mobile TV may just be our next patatas bravas.In some countries--like Britain, Italy and Cyprus--there are more cell-phone subscriptions than there are people. And observers say the age of television in our pockets has just begun. Already our cell phones are becoming portable TiVos. On Vodafone, Britons can watch two-minute highlight reels as soon as five minutes after an English Premiership football match ends. In France,...

Tough Europe

It's a safe bet that the typical American's image of the European shopping experience is of quaint little shoppes, not of "hard discounters" who compete on price even more brutally, and with fewer frills, than Wal-Mart. Yet these cutthroat chains, led by companies like Aldi and Lidl, are on the march across Europe, and spreading from there to America, which raises a very interesting question. If European capitalism is, as most economists would argue, softer and less competitive than the American version, why is Europe the breeding ground of the hard discounter?The basic idea behind these bare-knuckle retailers dates to 1960s Germany, says Boris Planer, a Frankfurt-based analyst at Planet Retail. After World War II, low-income Germans were looking for low-income prices. And hard discounters met their needs with reliable if spartan simplicity. Lidl, for example, has a bring- or buy-your-own-bag policy, and if you want a cart, you have to rent it. Yet by the early 1990s, stores like...

Spirits: Just Don't Drive

After nearly a century's absence, absinthe is making hearts grow fond again all across Europe. In trendy bars and apartment soirees from Barcelona to Bristol, young professionals are mixing the famously hallucinogenic elixir of Belle Epoque painters and poets. Dozens of European distillers are conjuring up the "green fairy" for new palates, its fresh, meadowy taste reminiscent of pastis. Skeptical? Perhaps you're wondering, "Won't absinthe, van Gogh's liquor of choice, drive me to lop off my ear in a psychotic fit?"A valid question, indeed. After all, the drink was banned in Switzerland after it was deemed the cause of a triple murder-suicide a century ago this week. Much of the rest of Europe followed, blaming the mysterious concoction of plants for the depravity of its devotees. Banned by America in 1912 and France in 1915, no one even knows for sure what it tasted like back then. But an environmental chemist named Ted Breaux from New Orleans has made it his mission to find out....

LESSONS OF THE LOGAN

When the French voted no to the European constitution, they were rejecting the specter of a borderless world in which foreign goods, Polish plumbers and even British politicians would be handed a growing role in French society. This sentiment was expressed most clearly by incoming Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin in June, when he declared: "The French know it and say it forcefully: globalization is not an ideal, it cannot be our destiny."Yet within days, a new invader arrived in France by popular demand. It was the Logan, a boxy family sedan that Renault conceived as a "world car" to be built in the developing world, for sale in the developing world, at a price as low as 5,000 euros. A founding member of the French industrial elite that has fallen on hard times, Renault saw the Logan as critical to its future, projecting sales of 1 million a year, or 25 percent of Renault's total, by 2010. But the man who championed the Logan, Renault ex-president Louis Schweitzer, never...

NOTHING IS FOREVER

There isn't a spot of shade, for trees would obscure the sightlines of the surveillance cameras. Guards patrol the streets, almost empty but for the Hasidim in their overcoats and black fedoras, and the Gujaratis in suit jackets. Above their heads, banners fly from lampposts declaring Antwerp's diamond heritage, since 1447. But make no mistake: the world's diamond capital is on the defensive. In an increasingly globalized business, where a diamantaire can shatter his prize on the cutting wheel in one misspent moment, new rivals have arisen to challenge all facets of the city's centuries-old dominance--first India, then China and now brash Dubai....

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