Posted by Kendall Harmon

Franck Darmon is only 35, but he already knows where his bones will lie. Not in his native France, but in Israel.

“When you compare a cemetery in Israel — with the blue sky, the sun and all the white tombstones — to a cemetery in France with the gray surroundings, it’s very distressing,” Darmon said. “The soul doesn’t have the same type of rest.”

Darmon is not the only French Jew reaching this conclusion, and not just because of the weather. France may have Europe’s largest Jewish population, but many don’t want to stay here for eternity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeFranceMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEschatologyPastoral Theology

2 Comments
Posted March 12, 2014 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There is nothing new about French presidents having lovers, nor about the media storm that ensues when their liaisons are exposed. What has changed in France, however, are basic notions about family values and what constitutes the norm in personal relationships....

Hollande is living proof of this shift in attitudes: He took office as the first president not to be married to his partner, who moved into the Elysee with him. He has four children from a previous partner, Segolene Royal, to whom he wasn’t married, either. His current partner, Valerie Trierweiler, has three children from her second marriage. Hollande’s predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, has two sons from his first wife, another son from the second, whom he divorced shortly after taking office in 2007. He also has a young daughter with his current wife, Carla Bruni, whom he married in 2008.

Unlike in the U.S., such nontraditional arrangements enjoy wide acceptance in France. In a poll taken before the latest revelations about Hollande, 91 percent of French voters said they simply don’t care about the family lives or sexual preferences of their politicians.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 21, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We end this hour with a remembrance of a daring World War II flight that lifted the spirits of the French people and of the humble man who flew it. In 1944, American fighter pilot William Overstreet of the 357th Fighter Group was on a mission in Nazi-occupied territory. Flying his P-51 Mustang, Overstreet was escorting American bombers through France when a dogfight broke out. Overstreet broke away to pursue an enemy German plane.

PASTOR JEFF CLEMMONS: It started at 30,000 feet....This was a half-hour dogfight which would end up going through the streets of Paris and conclude itself through a pursuit through the Eiffel Tower where Bill shot down the German pilot.

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeFrance

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Posted January 5, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

‘I’m very optimistic about the future of cinema,” says Serge Toubiana, the director of the Cinematheque Francaise, sitting in the library at the Jerusalem Cinematheque.

Toubiana was in Israel last week, a guest of the Tel Aviv Cinematheque, currently celebrating its 40th anniversary.

While Toubiana’s formal title certainly sounds impressive enough to the casual observer, the fact is that Toubiana could be called the King of Cinema.

The Cinematheque Francaise is the mecca for film lovers worldwide.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMovies & Television* International News & CommentaryEuropeFranceMiddle EastIsrael

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Posted November 18, 2013 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Standard and Poor's (S&P) has cut France's credit rating to AA from AA+.

The moves comes almost two years after the country lost its top-rated AAA status....

S&P said in its statement: "We believe the French government's reforms to taxation, as well as to product, services and labour markets, will not substantially raise France's medium-term growth prospects and that ongoing high unemployment is weakening support for further significant fiscal and structural policy measures."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010France* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 8, 2013 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian de Chergé was a Trappist monk who, with six of his monastic brothers, was killed in Algeria in 1996. The exact circumstances of their deaths remain disputed. They were abducted by a band of radical Islamists, in the midst of a horrendously violent period of civil-religious strife. Only their severed heads were subsequently recovered. To what degree did the Algerian army play a role in their deaths, and with what assistance from French security advisers, wittingly or unwittingly?

Rather, de Chergé gave his life as a reconciling gift thrown into the midst of the hostility and violence associated with antagonistic diversities. His was a witness made quintessentially within our late modern culture of fragmented “globalized” hopelessness....

Christian Salenson’s Christian de Chergé: A Theology of Hope (a translation of the 2009 French original) follows in step with the temper of the times, and takes up the [interest in the] Christian-Muslim... [angle of his thought]. Although this approach has its limitations, the volume, in all of its austere precision and accessibility, is of the highest quality, and deserves to be read as a necessary introduction to de Chergé’s thought. SRead it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchBooks* International News & CommentaryAfricaAlgeriaEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEschatology

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Posted September 27, 2013 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

France has now joined a global struggle against the sexualization of women, especially girls, in public. On Wednesday [last week], the French upper house of Parliament voted to end beauty pageants for girls younger than 16.

The bill, which must still be approved by the lower house, was introduced to fend off a growing popularity of such pageants but also in response to public outrage over a French Vogue photo spread showing child models in tight dresses, lipstick, and high heels. Many in France were also upset that the company Jours Après Lunes came out with a line of “loungerie” – a mix of loungewear and lingerie – for girls as young as 4.

“Let us not allow our girls to think from a young age that their worth is judged only by their appearance,” said Sen. Chantal Jouanno, a champion of the pageant ban.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMediaTeens / YouthWomen* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 23, 2013 at 7:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The day after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the headline in Paris' Le Monde newspaper read "We are all Americans". Liane Hansen speaks with Jean-Marie Colombani, who wrote the article that ran beneath that headline about his reflections on that time.

Read or listen to it all from NPR.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeFrance

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Posted September 11, 2013 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Syria’s bioweapons program, which U.S. officials believe has been largely dormant since the 1980s, is likely to possess the key ingredients for a weapon....This latent capability has begun to worry some of Syria’s neighbors, especially after allegations that the regime of President Bashar al-Assad used internationally banned chemical weapons against civilians in an Aug. 21 attack.

Top intelligence officials in two Middle East countries said they have examined the potential for bioweapons use by Syria, perhaps as retaliation for Western military strikes on Damascus. Although dwarfed by the country’s larger and better-known chemical weapons program, Syria’s bioweapons capability could offer the Assad regime a way to retaliate because the weapons are designed to spread easily and leave few clues about their origins, the officials said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeFranceMiddle EastSyria

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Posted September 5, 2013 at 9:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The US, Great Britain, France, Germany, Turkey, Jordan, Canada, Australia, the Arab League and Israel have all determined that a massive chemical attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta on August 21 was conducted by Assad's armed forces. Over one thousand died in the attack, and thousands more were wounded.

But the White House and 10 Downing both faced an onslaught of questions laced with references to the botched intelligence assessments that led to the allied invasion of Iraq in 2003.

President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron both acknowledged those concerns, but rejected the comparison as fundamentally flawed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UKEuropeFranceMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 29, 2013 at 4:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The French like to make fun of the British, joking about their repressed ways in matters of the heart. But when it came time to debate same-sex marriage, it was France that betrayed a deep conservative streak in sometimes violent protests – while the British showed themselves to be modern and tolerant.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeFrance

1 Comments
Posted July 18, 2013 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Despite industrial action causing cancelled planes and trains in France delegates came for the 3 day event which included challenging Bible studies by Rev Dr Paul Vrolik, from the Aquitaine, on the life and fortunes of Jacob (see picture below). Dr Keith Clement gave a pan European setting to trends and developments as they affect Christians, and there were updates on Safeguarding, Communications and Environment news.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

0 Comments
Posted June 17, 2013 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For years, the LGBT movement has invoked the twin spectres of equality and human rights in their war against traditional marriage. Defenders of the "one man, one woman" model for marriage have been slandered as hateful bigots who would relegate same-sex couples to second-class status. We've been told that the "march towards marriage equality" is inevitable, that we're on the "wrong side of history." We've been told that the embrace of alternative relationship models is the way of the future.

As society continues to "progress" towards greater equality and enlightenment, more and more people will recognize that traditional notions of gender and sex are stifling and archaic. Increasingly, it's being asserted that opposition to this view constitutes a danger to society that must be eliminated through force of law. Freedom of speech and religion are being threatened in the name of tolerance and equality. If the LGBT agenda is successful, defenders of traditional marriage will be hamstrung in their efforts by the threat of legal prosecution and the certainty of social ostracism.

In the face of such vitriol, traditionalists have struggled to find a coherent, compassionate, and compelling response. We've allowed the histrionics of hyperbole and red herring tactics to distract and disorient us. In France, there is no such confusion. Defenders of traditional marriage are very clear about why the institution must remain as it's always been: it's about the children.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted June 12, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[On May 21 Dominique] Venner, a conservative ultra-nationalist who as a young man had been jailed for violence against Communists, was 78, ailing, and had come to the extreme conclusion that French civilisation was dying and being replaced by an ''Afro-Maghreb culture'' and would give way to sharia law. The former colonies were overrunning the republic. In his final message before leaving for the cathedral, he wrote on his internet blog: ''Peaceful street protests will not be enough to prevent it … It will require new, spectacular, and symbolic gestures to wake up the sleepwalkers, to shake the slumbering consciousness and to remind us of our origins … and rouse people from their complacency … We are entering a time when words must be backed up … by new, spectacular and symbolic actions.''

He had his own spectacular symbolic action in mind. His timing was prompted by the passage, the week before, of a law legalising gay marriage in France. Venner regarded this as a key element in the dismantling of French culture. He also regarded the immigration of millions of Muslims as a demographic and cultural disaster for France. And he saw white French culture as being overwhelmed by Americanism.

Venner predicted current social trends would lead to a ''total replacement of the population of France, and of Europe''....

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologySuicideReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

2 Comments
Posted June 10, 2013 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Why did gay marriage meet such resistance in France, when the same law was passed with little opposition in other liberal democracies – even in traditionally Catholic societies such as Spain, Portugal and Quebec?

France is distinct. Despite its image as a country of free-thinkers and libertines (which it is, in part), France remains a conservative country where family links are extremely strong. The family Sunday lunch is a sacred ritual and it’s not uncommon to see three generations vacationing together.

Contrary to Quebec, where a majority of children are born to unmarried couples, most French middle-class couples get married as soon as they’re having their first child, which will likely be followed by two siblings.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 2, 2013 at 12:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So far it has been four hours and twelve minutes, and they are at 5-5 in the fifth set.

Update: Tommy Haas prevails 10-8 in the final set.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchSports* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

0 Comments
Posted June 1, 2013 at 1:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the thirty or so years that I have been following EU affairs – or is it nearer 35 years now since I studied in French literature in Paris, and German philosophy in Mainz – I have never seen ties between Europe’s two great land states reduced so low.

The French Socialist Party crossed a line by lashing out at Chancellor Angela Merkel in person. It is one thing to protest “German austerity”, it is quite another to rebuke the “selfish intransigence of Mrs Merkel, who thinks of nothing but the deposits of German savers, the trade balance recorded by Berlin and her electoral future”.

There is no justification for such an ad hominem attack. German policy is indeed destructive, but that is structural. It is built into the mechanisms of EMU and the anthropological make-up of the enterprise.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryEuropeFranceGermany

1 Comments
Posted May 1, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

France's experiment with the Tobin Tax has proved a spectacular flop. Its finance ministry admits that the scattershot levy on financial transactions has raised just a third of the money expected since August.

Total takings will be a paltry €800m in 2013, but that overlooks the much greater damage inflicted on French finance, industry and the government's own tax base. "France is shooting itself in the foot," said Paul-Henri de La Porte du Theil, head of French finance industry AFG.

Jean-Yves Hocher from Crédit Agricole said it would cost his company €17bn. One French banker told Les Echos that the tax was "a weapon of mass destruction that is going to ruin our financial sector".

Read it all.



Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketTaxes* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UKEuropeFrance

0 Comments
Posted April 11, 2013 at 11:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In Togo, the Rev. Rodolphe Folly used to conduct exuberant Sunday services for a hundred believers of all ages, who sang local gospel music and went up to him to offer what they had.

In this quiet town in Burgundy, he preaches to a more somber audience of about 40 gray-haired retirees in an unadorned 19th-century church that can accommodate up to 600 people.

“In my country, we applaud, we acclaim, we shout,” said Father Folly, a Roman Catholic priest who spoke in the living room of his modern, modest house. “Here, even when I ask people to shake hands, they say no.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAfricaTogoEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

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Posted April 9, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In Marseille, on the southern coast, “conversions have increased at an incredible pace in the last three years,” said Abderrahmane Ghoul, the imam of the major mosque of Marseille and the president of the local branch of the French Council of the Muslim Faith. Mr. Ghoul signed about 130 conversion certificates in 2012.

Hassen Chalghoumi, the moderate imam of Drancy, another suburb near Paris, says he thinks conversions have also been propelled by France’s official secularism, which he says breeds spiritual emptiness.

“Secularism has become antireligious,” Mr. Chalghoumi said. “Therefore, it has created an opposite phenomenon. It has allowed people to discover Islam.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamSecularism

1 Comments
Posted February 5, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The roof of the Louvre's new Islamic art department undulates like golden fabric gently lifted by the wind—a feat, considering it is made of steel and glass and weighs almost 150 tons. Filling a neoclassical courtyard, the addition that opened last fall tripled the space devoted to Islamic art and more than doubled the number of objects on view to almost 3,000, or about a sixth of the museum's works from the Islamic world.

In contrast to the spectacular architecture by Mario Bellini and Rudy Ricciotti, the installation is understated, an elegant version of open-storage: objects grouped in long glass cases; larger pieces—carved steles, inlaid doors, stone latticed windows—clustered on low pedestals; and architectural fragments affixed to partitions. The flooring is dark, the passageways plain and the lighting democratic, giving shards of earthenware as much attention as finely woven rugs from Iran, a jewel-encrusted dagger from Mughal India or 14th-century enameled blown-glass lamps from Egypt and Syria that are about as close to numinous as objects can get.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchArtHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted January 25, 2013 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Friday is the last day of a 5,125-year cycle in the Mayan calendar, sparking talk about the possible end of the world. About two years ago, a rumor began circulating on the Internet that the French village of Bugarach, population 200, would be the only place to survive this apocalypse.

But despite many news stories of people flocking to the village, less than two weeks before "doomsday," there was no one on the streets. Houses were shuttered against the cold.

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-Watch* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* TheologyEschatology

0 Comments
Posted December 20, 2012 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rev. Lucinda Laird, pastor of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, used to say she would never leave her job — unless she got a call to be pastor of the American Cathedral in Paris.

“It’s like saying, ‘Unless I fly to the moon,’ ” Laird said Friday. “It’s not possible.”

Except it is....

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

1 Comments
Posted December 11, 2012 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The French are fairly relaxed when it comes to family matters and private choices. François Hollande, the Socialist president, is not married to Valérie Trierweiler, the "first girlfriend", nor was he to Ségolène Royal, the previous woman in his life and mother of their four children. His predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, divorced his second wife while in office, and married a third, Carla Bruni, without any fuss. The current mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, is openly gay.

The past few weeks, however, have seen an unusually vigorous debate, after Mr Hollande’s government introduced a new law that will allow gay couples to marry and adopt children. Tens of thousands of Catholic traditionalists took to the streets to demonstrate. The archbishop of Lyon suggested that the law would open the way to polygamy and incest. The French Council of the Muslim Faith denounced the plan, arguing that gay marriage goes against "all Muslim jurisprudence.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted December 6, 2012 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Thirty years have passed since French president François Mitterrand launched Europe’s last great wave of nationalisation, seizing the banks, insurance groups, arms makers and steel industry in the culminating debacle of the Collectivist era.

The whole world has been living in an era of privatisation ever since.

So it seems like a strange step back in time to hear France’s minister of industrial renewal, Arnaud Montebourg, threatening a “temporary public takeover” of ArcelorMittal’s steel operations in the Lorraine plateau – purportedly to save the blast furnaces of Florange and their 2,500 workers, so sacred in the Socialist Party catechism.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

0 Comments
Posted November 28, 2012 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Moody's] said France’s long-term economic growth had been hit by its inflexible labour market and low levels of innovation eroding its competitiveness and industrial base.

Moody's also flagged up the country’s exposure to the continuing eurozone crisis.

It warned the “predictability” of France’s resilence of further shocks in the eurozone was diminishing while the country’s exposure to the highly indebted countries such as Spain and Greece was disproportionately high.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

1 Comments
Posted November 20, 2012 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The threat of the euro’s collapse has abated for the moment, but putting the single currency right will involve years of pain. The pressure for reform and budget cuts is fiercest in Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy, which all saw mass strikes and clashes with police this week.... But ahead looms a bigger problem that could dwarf any of these: France.

The country has always been at the heart of the euro, as of the European Union. President François Mitterrand argued for the single currency because he hoped to bolster French influence in an EU that would otherwise fall under the sway of a unified Germany. France has gained from the euro: it is borrowing at record low rates and has avoided the troubles of the Mediterranean. Yet even before May, when François Hollande became the country’s first Socialist president since Mitterrand, France had ceded leadership in the euro crisis to Germany. And now its economy looks increasingly vulnerable as well.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010France

0 Comments
Posted November 18, 2012 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has asked a panel of advisers to look into reform proposals for France, concerned that weakness in the euro zone's second largest economy could come back to haunt Germany and the broader currency bloc.

Two officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters this week that Schaeuble asked the council of economic advisers to the German government, known as the "wise men", to consider drafting a report on what France should do.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermany

0 Comments
Posted November 11, 2012 at 12:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

France’s main sales-tax rate will increase in January 2014 to 20 percent from 19.6 percent, while the second band on home renovations and restaurants will rise to 10 percent from 7 percent currently. A third rate that applies to food and energy will be cut to 5 percent from 5.5 percent in an effort to support the spending power of France’s poorest households, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said today.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxes* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

1 Comments
Posted November 7, 2012 at 2:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

French leader François Hollande is uncomfortably close to a collapse in credibility. His poll rating has sunk to 36pc. The speed of decline has been shocking.
The latest broadside comes from ex-German chancellor Gerhard Schröder, supposedly his ally on the Left.
"The election promises of the French president are going to shatter on the walls of economic reality," he said in Paris.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankTaxesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010France

0 Comments
Posted November 3, 2012 at 12:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ZENIT: Why this emphasis on the "Kerygma"? What was the inspiration that the "Kerygma" is essential to preaching the Gospel?

Marc de Leyritz: Alpha was founded in England in an Anglican parish 30 years ago. Florence and I brought it back to France and we adapted it to a Catholic setting, which is a big challenge because when you're in France, anything that comes from England is really a bad start. But, this distinction between Kerygma and catechesis is really something key, since the beginning of the Church, since the very first day. You see on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2, Peter gives a very short speech, the nucleus of the faith, which is what Kerygma means, the proclamation of the nucleus. And, he speaks probably one minute or two minutes, and the Bible says that listening to this, people's hearts were pierced and they asked, "Brother, what shall we do?" And he said, "Repent," and then they were baptized. And on that day, the first day of the Church, 3000 people were baptized. And only then, the nascent Church started to help people to grow into full disciples of Jesus Christ.

So, Pope John Paul [II], in a very foundational text called "Redemptoris Missio" which is an encyclical and in another post-Synodal exhortation called "Catechesi Tradendae", he makes this distinction. He says you cannot give catechesis before Kerygma.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

1 Comments
Posted October 24, 2012 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Talk about courting the youth vote. French President François Hollande has proposed banning homework as part of a series of policies designed to reform the French educational system.

“Education is priority,” Hollande said in a speech at Paris’s Sorbonne University. “An education program is, by definition, a societal program. Work should be done at school, rather than at home.”

The justification for this proposed ban? Inequality....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducation* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

0 Comments
Posted October 21, 2012 at 5:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The reason given by Christiane Taubira, France’s justice minister: ”Who is to say that a heterosexual couple will bring a child up better than a homosexual couple, that they will guarantee the best conditions for the child's development?” She then reassured critics of the proposed law, “What is certain is that the interest of the child is a major preoccupation for the government.”

If the law goes through, then all references to “mother” and “father” will be erased from the civil code and replaced with the more abstract, cover-all, cover-anything term “parents.”

Let’s focus on that shift to abstraction. It’s more important than you might think, because, as France is now demonstrating, he (or she) who controls the language controls the fundamentally human ability to speak about reality.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMenPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureWomen* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyAnthropology

3 Comments
Posted September 28, 2012 at 5:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...Rajoy is the victim of his electoral success: his majority government, ironically, is weaker for not including regionalist partners. The Catalan government sees the dissatisfaction with Madrid’s handling of the crisis as an opportunity: it may give the regionalists enough of a boost at the polls to force Madrid to hand them more autonomy, in other words, control of taxes. If Catalonia had control over its own taxes, the argument goes, the region would not have needed a bailout.

Rajoy’s choices are limited: he either refuses Catalan demands for more autonomy and risks enflaming Catalan nationalist sentiment, or agrees to increased autonomy, and risks enflaming Spanish nationalist sentiment.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreeceSpain

0 Comments
Posted September 26, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After a week of deadly international protests against an anti-Islam film, a French satirical magazine is pouring oil on the fiery debate between freedom of expression and offensive provocation.
The magazine Charlie Hebdo, which is known for outrageous humor, published cartoons featuring a figure resembling the Prophet Mohammed on Wednesday.
The issue hit the stands eight days after a video mocking the Muslim prophet triggered angry protests, including one that led to the death of the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMediaReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

3 Comments
Posted September 20, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O God, who didst call thy servant Louis of France to an earthly throne that he might advance thy heavenly kingdom, and didst give him zeal for thy Church and love for thy people: Mercifully grant that we who commemorate him this day may be fruitful in good works, and attain to the glorious crown of thy saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistorySpirituality/Prayer* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

0 Comments
Posted August 25, 2012 at 6:51 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

France may be the most militantly secular country in Europe, but Paris's gospel scene is flourishing.

The choir sways and their orange robes sway with them. The conductor, packed in an ice-cream-white suit, urging them on, while out front the Reverend Jean Carpenter - moving quite possibly like nobody has ever moved before in this ancient church in the medieval heart of Paris - sings praise to the Lord.

The person who emailed to say I should go and hear her sing described her voice in one word - "Biiiiiiiiiiig".

She wasn't exaggerating.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMusicReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

1 Comments
Posted August 23, 2012 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I was hoping for more from France but Spain is just amazingly good and patient.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryEuropeFranceSpain

2 Comments
Posted June 23, 2012 at 3:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A French court on Tuesday gave the green light for the construction of a mega mosque in the city of Marseille, following years of delays caused by challenges from residents and local businesses.

The Grand Mosque of Marseille is set to be France's biggest, with the capacity for 14,000 worshippers during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted June 23, 2012 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The French, as usual, insist on being different. As independent bookstores crash and burn in the United States and Britain, the book market in France is doing just fine. France boasts 2,500 bookstores, and for every neighborhood bookstore that closes, another seems to open. From 2003 to 2011 book sales in France increased by 6.5 percent.

E-books account for only 1.8 percent of the general consumer publishing market here, compared with 6.4 percent in the United States. The French have a centuries-old reverence for the printed page.

“There are two things you don’t throw out in France — bread and books,” said Bernard Fixot, owner and publisher of XO, a small publishing house dedicated to churning out best sellers. “In Germany the most important creative social status is given to the musician. In Italy it’s the painter. Who’s the most important creator in France? It’s the writer.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooks* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

5 Comments
Posted June 21, 2012 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President François Hollande’s Socialists and their allies won an absolute majority in runoff parliamentary elections on Sunday, strengthening the hand of Mr. Hollande both at home and in Europe, where he is pressing for less austerity and more growth in the face of a deepening recession.

He will travel to the Group of 20 summit meeting in Mexico on Monday with his authority reinforced as a spokesman for the European left and a proponent for economic stimulus and job creation.

Mr. Hollande will also be able to keep a Socialist government and pass legislation with little difficulty, without having to rely on the far left, which is more antagonistic to the European Union. Nor will he need to rely on the support of the Greens.

Read it all.

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

0 Comments
Posted June 17, 2012 at 9:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

France said Wednesday that Syria has descended into civil war and that all means, including force, should be used under international supervision to help restore peace.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he would propose that the United Nations Security Council vote on a resolution giving U.N. members a mandate to intervene in Syria, possibly as part of a military operation.

"The situation is now even more serious and abominable," Mr. Fabius told reporters. He accused the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of having used children as human shields, echoing allegations in a report issued Tuesday by the U.N. He also said massacres have multiplied over the past few days in the Middle East country.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeFranceMiddle EastSyria

2 Comments
Posted June 14, 2012 at 6:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

How did James Milner not score? The overall result is fair to this point it seems to me.

Update--That ended up being the final game score.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeFrance

3 Comments
Posted June 11, 2012 at 11:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Wow.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

0 Comments
Posted June 11, 2012 at 7:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On consecutive days last week, two of the most powerful figures in Europe — Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, and Olli Rehn, the most senior economic official in Brussels — warned that the future of the euro zone was in doubt. In the words of Mr. Rehn, the union might well disintegrate unless policy makers took steps to bind the euro’s 17 nations closer together.

Coming as they did from two men at the very soul of the European project, the reprimands were a stark reminder of just how much the Spanish financial meltdown had shaken the confidence of the European brain trust, to say nothing of investors from New York to Beijing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreecePortugalSpain

0 Comments
Posted June 3, 2012 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Brian Baker’s family and friends had waited years to see him play at the French Open—nine years, to be exact, since he made the boy’s final in 2003. They weren’t going to settle for bad seats.

So the Baker clan, 11 strong and ever optimistic, arrived at Court 6 at Roland Garros as two other men finished off a five-setter that had been held over due to darkness the night before. Next up were two women who played a three-set match while Baker’s entourage scouted out a section in the corner bleachers. Finally they sat and then watched as the most remarkable story of the spring tennis season got even better.

Brian Baker, the 27-year-old American who took six years off from pro tennis and had five operations, won his first match at the French Open, 6-3, 7-6(1), 7-6(5) over Xavier Malisse. He’ll play Gilles Simon of France on Wednesday, perhaps inside Court Philippe Chatrier. “It’s definitely something I didn’t envision,” Baker said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilySports* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

0 Comments
Posted May 29, 2012 at 3:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What will become of the European Union? One road leads to the full break-up of the euro, with all its economic and political repercussions. The other involves an unprecedented transfer of wealth across Europe’s borders and, in return, a corresponding surrender of sovereignty. Separate or superstate: those seem to be the alternatives now.

For two crisis-plagued years Europe’s leaders have run away from this choice. They say that they want to keep the euro intact—except, perhaps, for Greece. But northern European creditors, led by Germany, will not pay out enough to assure the euro’s survival, and southern European debtors increasingly resent foreigners telling them how to run their lives.

This has become a test of over 60 years of European integration....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreeceItalyPortugalSpain

1 Comments
Posted May 27, 2012 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

He is the unfrozen phenom.

Brian Baker was going to be a tennis star. That's where this was headed. A decade ago, Baker was one of the best junior tennis players in the world, the wiry kid from Nashville, Tenn., with the punishing game, so good he would later reach the boys' final of the French Open in 2003. His early résumé contained wins over characters you may know. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Tomas Berdych. Novak Djokovic. That's right. The Djoker, the relentless No. 1 in the world, winner of four of the last five Grand Slams. That guy. Baker passed on college scholarships and pushed right into the pros. He had a clothing deal and a racket deal and a future. Life was good.

But then Baker's body disobeyed him. Maybe "abandoned" is a better word. First Baker hurt his wrist, and missed 10 weeks. Then, in a qualifying match at Wimbledon versus Djokovic, Baker tore his MCL. This actually wasn't so bad. Baker rehabbed his knee and resumed playing, but began feeling pain in his left hip. Hip surgery followed. Then, surgery for a sports hernia. All the while Baker's elbow was nagging at him, especially on his serve. That led to Tommy John surgery on his elbow. Then more hip surgery—another procedure for the left hip, and the right hip as well. It was a spectacular run of medical intervention. Baker won a Grand Slam in the OR.

At this point Baker was 23....

Read it all and there is more here and still more there.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMenSports* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeFrance

1 Comments
Posted May 27, 2012 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Watch it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermany

5 Comments
Posted May 26, 2012 at 4:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With Greece’s membership in the euro zone teetering, fears of bank insolvency rising and Europe’s leaders bickering about what to do, the euro crisis is once again intensifying and threatening to undermine fragile growth globally.

At a summit meeting in Brussels on Wednesday, regional leaders failed to signal any significant new steps to stimulate the sputtering regional economy or resolve the competing agendas of President François Hollande of France, who favors stronger action to spur growth, and his German counterpart, Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has opposed aggressive moves to ease the pressure on Europe’s weakest economies.

Yet, the urgency for a solution to the region’s debt crisis, now in its third year, may never have been greater.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreece

1 Comments
Posted May 24, 2012 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...I do think that it would ultimately be better if the eurozone broke up. This might not involve a complete reversion to national currencies. A hard core of euro-users, centred on Germany, might survive. But the current euro will have to go.
It is true that the transition from here to there will be painful and dangerous. My colleague Martin Wolf laid out an updated version of the full horror scenario in Friday’s FT – involving a breakdown of law and order in Greece, and financial collapse across Europe. How could anyone responsibly run that risk?

The answer is that the alternatives to eurozone break-up are inherently implausible and deeply unattractive.At the weekend G8 leaders called for Greece to stay in the eurozone. Their present plan seems to involve some magical mix of stimulus and austerity that restores both budgetary balance and growth. But even if they can agree a real plan and even if it works – and neither outcome is likely – the eurozone’s structural problems would remain.....

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreece

1 Comments
Posted May 22, 2012 at 6:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The immediate future of the global economy, including Australia, now depends on Europe, and whether it can restore confidence to markets. If European leaders can resolve their tangle of problems, growth is ahead of us. If they can't, all bets are off.

Pessimism comes more naturally than optimism. It is now five years since we first heard the phrase ''the sub-prime crisis'', which rang the end of a golden era of debt-financed growth. Since then, we've had years of recurring crises, summits and resolutions that promised to solve the problems, but haven't.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreece

0 Comments
Posted May 22, 2012 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like the single market before, ...[the Euro] was conceived primarily as glue to bind Europe more closely together, tie Germany’s prosperity to that of its neighbors and prevent a third world war from the Continent, which had brought us two. A few engineering flaws wouldn’t be allowed to get in the way of such an important project.

A little over a decade since the first euro bills hit the shops in Madrid and Berlin, the euro’s design flaws have pushed much of the European Union into a deep economic pit. And political imperative is again being deployed as a major reason to stick to the common currency. “This enormously important motivation is often underestimated by outsiders,” argued the Financial Times columnist Martin Wolf, the most sober analyst of Europe’s economic maelstrom....

The main problem is that while leaders eagerly embraced the monetary bond, they rejected its necessary complement: a central budget that would transfer money from successful regions to underperforming ones, as the United States government sends tax dollars collected in Massachusetts to pay for unemployment benefits in Nevada.

The euro fed the illusion that Greece, Spain and Italy were as creditworthy as Germany or the Netherlands, propelling a decade-long credit boom in Europe’s less-developed periphery. And it was spectacularly ill-designed to deal with the shock when capital flows to those nations suddenly stopped. Weak countries not only had to rely on their own devices; they had to do so without a currency or a monetary policy of their own to absorb the blow....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreeceItalyPortugalSpain

2 Comments
Posted May 19, 2012 at 8:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who held their first meeting yesterday, might want to consider that they have been attacking the problems of Greece, the euro, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and even France backwards.

All the talk and all the effort has been aimed at keeping Greece and the others in the euro. But the real, ideal solution is to get Germany out.

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermany

0 Comments
Posted May 18, 2012 at 5:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There would be massive global pressure on Europe to handle the exit in a grown-up fashion, with backstops in place to stabilize Greece. The IMF would step in.

The German finance ministry is already drawing up such plans, and quite correctly so (unfortunately roping in the British too to spread the losses, which is a thorny subject).

Needless to say, the real danger is contagion to Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Belgium, France, and the deadly linkages between €15 trillion in public and private debt in these countries and the €27 trillion European banking nexus.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreece

4 Comments
Posted May 16, 2012 at 5:51 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The euro crisis is entering its final stages. Economic pain is now interacting with political resistance to produce intense financial pressure. I expect Greece to leave the euro – and perhaps very soon.

It could happen voluntarily, but both the Greek people and Greek politicians are still clinging to the idea that they can put an end to austerity yet still stay in the euro. In order to try to achieve that, a new government may call the eurozone's bluff.

At that point, the other eurozone members would face an awkward choice. Doubtless there would be voices in favour of providing the money, willy nilly. That might well be the French position. But if the eurozone gives way on this, what chance would there be of painful austerity being continued, not just in Greece but also in Portugal, Spain, Italy and Ireland? The northern countries would face the prospect of pouring money into a bottomless pit.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreeceItalyPortugalSpain

3 Comments
Posted May 15, 2012 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"We don't wish to express any opinion on the result, but there is a satisfaction when our values are evoked by the future president of the country," said Muriel Menanteau, a spokesperson for the Protestant Federation of France, which represents more than 800,000 of the 1.2 million Protestants in the country.

The federation had held a meeting with Hollande during the campaign because of his support of secularism and had given him a document calling for a return to facts and accuracy by "leaders in the political, economic and social spheres." It also implicitly criticized the targeting of immigrants and Muslims that had taken place in the run-up to the two rounds of the elections.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

3 Comments
Posted May 9, 2012 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My own view is... [that] the German deflation regime is - in the current circumstances - the greater threat to Greco-Latin societies, and to post-War comity in Europe. Sometimes you have to go through a cathartic trauma to break free.

But it is also true that Germany’s own democracy may turn fractious if policy strays too far from German needs and Grundgesetz. This is EMU’s curse. It destabilizes each nation state in turn, each in different ways - a “negative sum game”.

The worst of all worlds would be a nasty spat between Mr Hollande and Chancellor Angela Merkel that poisoned the atmosphere without bringing about any substantive change to Europe‘s “asphyxiation compact”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010France

7 Comments
Posted May 7, 2012 at 5:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

French President-elect Francois Hollande is to start work on forming a new government, after declaring to his supporters that his victory gave hope there would be an end to austerity.

Mr Hollande has vowed to rework a deal on government debt in eurozone member countries to focus on promoting growth.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

3 Comments
Posted May 7, 2012 at 4:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Much depends on the reaction of investors in debt issued by European nations, said Dimitri Papadimitriou, president of the Levy Economics Institute at Bard College. If they fear that the crisis response is losing momentum, they will likely demand higher interest rates — not just from Greece, but from other nations seen as carrying too much debt.

The result would be rising borrowing costs for Greece as well as countries that haven't received bailouts, like Italy and Spain. Rising borrowing costs sent global stock markets diving last year. Uncertainty about the path forward in Europe may mean a return to extreme market volatility after several months of relative calm.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreece

0 Comments
Posted May 6, 2012 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Francois Hollande, the former leader of France’s Socialist Party, has been elected president of France, defeating incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy.

Despite being one of France's best known politicians, the 57-year-old Hollande has never held a position in the national government.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009Politics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

2 Comments
Posted May 6, 2012 at 4:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The final polls before France's presidential election on Sunday show President Nicolas Sarkozy making up ground on Socialist challenger Francois Hollande - but still predict a Hollande victory.

Mr Sarkozy on Friday predicted a "surprise" and Mr Hollande urged his voters to avoid complacency as the bitter campaign neared its climax, driven by fears about joblessness, immigration and France's economic future.

A poll by the BVA agency shows 52.5 percent support for Hollande and 47.5 percent for Sarkozy. A poll by the agency CSA shows 53 percent for Hollande and 47 percent for Sarkozy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

1 Comments
Posted May 4, 2012 at 5:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At least twenty million French – around half of the French electorate – tuned in to watch Mr Sarkozy fight for his political life and see whether he would make good his pledge to “atomise” his left-wing rival during the almost three-hour clash.

Trailing Mr Hollande in the polls by at least seven points ahead of Sunday's presidential runoff, this was the Right-winger's best hope of catching up to defy the odds.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

0 Comments
Posted May 3, 2012 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The French-led counter-attack and rumblings of revolt through every branch of the EU institutions last week have brought this aberrant phase of the eurozone crisis to an abrupt end.

"It’s not for Germany to decide for the rest of Europe," said François Hollande, soon to be French leader, unless he trips horribly next week. Strong words even for the hustings.

"If I am elected president, there will be a change in Europe's construction. We’re not just any country: we can change the situation," he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermany

0 Comments
Posted April 30, 2012 at 5:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A rupture between France and Germany would come at a dangerous time. Until recently, voters in the euro zone seemed to have accepted the idea of austerity and reform. Technocratic prime ministers in Greece and Italy have been popular; voters in Spain, Portugal and Ireland have elected reforming governments. But nearly one in three French voters cast their first-round ballots for Ms Le Pen and Mr Mélenchon, running on anti-euro and anti-globalisation platforms. And now Geert Wilders, a far-right populist, has brought down the Dutch government over budget cuts. Although in principle the Dutch still favour austerity, in practice they have not yet been able to agree on how to do it.... And these revolts are now being echoed in Spain and Italy.

It is conceivable that President Hollande might tip the balance in favour of a little less austerity now. Equally, he may scare the Germans in the opposite direction. Either way one thing seems certain: a French president so hostile to change would undermine Europe’s willingness to pursue the painful reforms it must eventually embrace for the euro to survive. That makes him a rather dangerous man.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermany

0 Comments
Posted April 27, 2012 at 5:21 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With Socialist leader Francois Hollande likely to become the next president of France, Europe’s hot populist anger is about to confront the cold austerity measures required by the euro zone, with a predictable result: a storm that rattles the foundations of the European economic house.

Financial traders and treasury ministers are debating this week just how much damage this political-economic collision will bring. Some argue that it could take down the structure entirely. Others insist that Germany, for all its insistence on austerity, will never let the structure collapse — and will make the necessary concessions to keep the common currency intact.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyThe Netherlands

0 Comments
Posted April 26, 2012 at 6:58 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If Spain’s crisis deepens Europe’s recession, it could tip the entire world economy into a stubborn slump. The ramifications would be enormous, including: reduced odds of Barack Obama’s reelection, assuming a weaker U.S. recovery; less political cohesion and more social unrest in Europe (even now, the European Union’s unemployment rate is 10.2 percent); and growing pressures in many countries for economic nationalism and protectionism.

Spain is suffering a hangover from what economist Desmond Lachman of the American Enterprise Institute calls “the mother of all housing booms.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreeceItalySpain

0 Comments
Posted April 23, 2012 at 5:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Sarkozy, whose personal unpopularity dominated the campaign, is the first head of state to come second in a first-round poll since France switched to presidential politics 50 years ago. Even a barn-storming performance by Mr Sarkozy in TV debates with Mr Hollande in the next two weeks seems unlikely to save his presidency in the two-candidate, second round on 6 May.

In a speech to ecstatic supporters in his fiefdom in Tulle, south-west France, Mr Hollande said: "I am now in a position of strength to be the next President of the Republic...This vote is a disavowal of the policies, and the personal behaviour, of the outgoing candidate, whose campaign in recent weeks has finally served the interests of the National Front."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyEuroEuropean Central BankPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermany

0 Comments
Posted April 23, 2012 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In interviews at Paris polling stations, French citizens expressed little real joy in the vote but felt that France’s future is so uncertain that they needed to do their civic duty.

“Whoever is elected, things are going to be hard,” says a middle-aged Frenchman, Angelo Benkaddour, outside a voting station in Paris' 10th district. “What’s happening in Greece and Spain [economic woes], it is coming here.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

1 Comments
Posted April 22, 2012 at 3:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the team around him has quietly started to have doubts about victory, and is debating the best strategy to try to overcome serious odds.

Mr. Sarkozy is in deep trouble and is looking, for now, as if he could be the first one-term French president since 1981. He appears to be running neck and neck with his main challenger, the Socialist candidate François Hollande, in the first round of voting on Sunday, when 10 candidates are competing. But all the opinion polls show Mr. Sarkozy losing to Mr. Hollande in a face-off two weeks later.

His possible defeat carries implications that would radiate far beyond Paris. Mr. Sarkozy has had contentious but valuable relationships with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, a fellow conservative, on European and euro zone issues; with the British on defense issues, including the Libyan war; and with President Obama on issues involving Iran and Israel, NATO and Russia.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermany

0 Comments
Posted April 20, 2012 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(The full title is: "White House Burning: The Founding Fathers, Our National Debt, and Why It Matters to You")--KSH

What was the main difference between Great Britain and France? It -wasn’t the size of their national debts: at the time of the French Revolution, Great Britain’s debt per person was much larger than France’s. The difference was politics. In Great Britain, the political system was dominated by elected representatives who supported an activist government and were willing to endorse the taxes necessary to pay for its resulting debts. In France, the government did not have the legitimacy necessary to raise the money to service its smaller debts. And although its tax rates were lower than Britain’s, the problem of taxation without representation was an important cause of the Revolution.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National Deficit* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UKEuropeFrance

0 Comments
Posted April 5, 2012 at 3:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In his alleged attacks, Mr. Merah appeared to follow al Qaeda's founding cause of killing "Jews and crusaders." He is suspected of having shot dead three soldiers from regiments that had dispatched troops to Afghanistan, and of having opened fire on a Jewish school in Toulouse, leaving four dead, including three children.

On Wednesday, police say he told his interlocutor that he had "brought France down on its knees," expressing regret that he had failed to kill more people.

"He appears to have drifted into a parallel world where he picked and chose elements to build himself a new identity," said Jean-Pierre Filiu, a professor in the Middle East department at the Paris Institute of Political Studies.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

0 Comments
Posted March 23, 2012 at 7:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The French Interior minister says Mohammed Merah, the prime suspect in seven murders in and around Toulouse, died Thursday morning in a jump from an apartment window after "shooting madly" at police who raided the building.

French Interior Minister Claude Gueant said police entered the apartment Thursday after hearing nothing from Merah overnight, only to be ambushed by the suspect who "came out of the bathroom shooting madly at everybody."

"At the end, Mohammed Merah jumped out of the window with a weapon in hand, continuing to shoot. He was found dead on the ground below," said Gueant.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

0 Comments
Posted March 22, 2012 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

French police are linking the shootings of four people at a Jewish school in Toulouse to the killings of three soldiers of North African descent in two separate incidents last week.

The same gun and the same stolen scooter were used in all three attacks, sources close to the investigation say.

A teacher and three children were shot dead at the Ozar Hatorah school, and a teenage boy was seriously injured.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

0 Comments
Posted March 19, 2012 at 3:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Muslims are being used as "scapegoats" in the French election campaign in which halal slaughter has become a hot-button issue, the French Council of the Muslim Faith said yesterday.

The statement came a day after the prime minister, Francois Fillon, urged Muslims and Jews to consider scrapping their "outdated" halal and kosher slaughter rules.

The council, asked about Mr Fillon's comment on halal, said it "does not accept that Islam and Muslims be used as scapegoats in this [election] campaign".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted March 10, 2012 at 9:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iran’s government ordered a halt to oil exports to Britain and France on Sunday, in what may be only an initial response to the European Union decision to cut off Iranian oil imports and freeze central bank assets beginning in July.

Britain and France depend little on Iranian oil, however, so their targeting may be a mostly symbolic act, a function of the strong positions Paris and London have taken in trying to halt Iranian nuclear enrichment and bring pressure to bear on Syria, one of Tehran’s closest allies.

Tehran may also be reluctant, when its economy has been damaged by existing sanctions, to deprive itself of revenues from its larger European customers. At the same time, it may be seeking to divide the 27-nation European Union between those who depend on Iranian oil and those who do not

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeFranceMiddle EastIran

3 Comments
Posted February 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The French, I found, seem to have a whole different framework for raising kids. When I asked French parents how they disciplined their children, it took them a few beats just to understand what I meant. "Ah, you mean how do we educate them?" they asked. "Discipline," I soon realized, is a narrow, seldom-used notion that deals with punishment. Whereas "educating" (which has nothing to do with school) is something they imagined themselves to be doing all the time.

One of the keys to this education is the simple act of learning how to wait. It is why the French babies I meet mostly sleep through the night from two or three months old. Their parents don't pick them up the second they start crying, allowing the babies to learn how to fall back asleep. It is also why French toddlers will sit happily at a restaurant. Rather than snacking all day like American children, they mostly have to wait until mealtime to eat. (French kids consistently have three meals a day and one snack around 4 p.m.)

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeFrance

6 Comments
Posted February 4, 2012 at 8:33 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If there was one recurring theme during Nicolas Sarkozy’s live prime-time television interview last night, it was the French president’s obsession with Germany. In an appearance that lasted just over an hour, watched by a massive 16m viewers, Mr Sarkozy repeatedly held Germany up as a model for France, which is still reeling from the loss of its triple-A credit rating at the hands of Standard & Poor's earlier this month.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeFranceGermany

0 Comments
Posted January 30, 2012 at 5:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In France, an elderly man is fighting to make a formal break with the Catholic Church. He's taken the church to court over its refusal to let him nullify his baptism, in a case that could have far-reaching effects.

Seventy-one-year-old Rene LeBouvier's parents and his brother are buried in a churchyard in the tiny village of Fleury in northwest France. He himself was baptized in the Romanesque stone church and attended mass here as a boy.

LeBouvier says this rural area is still conservative and very Catholic, but nothing like it used to be. Back then, he says, you couldn't even get credit at the bakery if you didn't go to mass every Sunday....

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologySacramental TheologyBaptism

7 Comments
Posted January 30, 2012 at 5:21 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We have clearly fallen on the evil times prophesied by the Apostle; for nowadays teachers are sought after who preach not God but a creature And men are more zealous for what they themselves desire, than for what the sound faith teaches. So far have their itching ears stirred them to listen to what they desire, that for the moment that preaching alone rules among their crowd of doctors which estranges the Only-begotten God from the power and nature of God the Father, and makes Him in our faith either a God of the second order, or not a God at all; in either case a damning profession of impiety, whether one profess two Gods by making different grades of divinity; or else deny divinity altogether to Him Who drew His nature by birth from God. Such doctrines please those whose ears are estranged from the hearing of the truth and turned to fables, while the hearing of this our sound faith is not endured, and is driven bodily into exile with its preachers.

But though many may heap up teachers according to their desires, and banish sound doctrine, yet from the company of the Saints the preaching of truth can never be exiled. From our exile we shall speak by these our writings, and the Word of God which cannot be bound will run unhindered, warning us of this time which the Apostle prophesied. For when men shew themselves impatient of the true message, and heap up teachers according to their own human desires, we can no longer doubt about the times, but know that while the preachers of sound doctrine are banished truth is banished too. We do not complain of the times: we rejoice rather, that iniquity has revealed itself in this our exile, when, unable to endure the truth, it banishes the preachers of sound doctrine, that it may heap up for itself teachers after its own desires. We glory in our exile, and rejoice in the Lord that in our person the Apostle’s prophecy should be fulfilled.

--Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, X

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Theology

3 Comments
Posted January 13, 2012 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O Lord our God, who didst raise up thy servant Hilary to be a champion of the catholic faith: Keep us steadfast in that true faith which we professed at our baptism, that we may rejoice in having thee for our Father, and may abide in thy Son, in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit; thou who livest and reignest for ever and ever.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistorySpirituality/Prayer* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

1 Comments
Posted January 13, 2012 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We Jjouranlists are probably too bleary-eyed after a sleepless night to understand the full significance of what has just happened in Brussels. What is clear is that after a long, hard and rancorous negotiation, at about 5am this... [past Friday] the European Union split in a fundamental way.

In an effort to stabilise the euro zone, France, Germany and 21 other countries have decided to draft their own treaty to impose more central control over national budgets. Britain and three others have decided to stay out. In the coming weeks, Britain may find itself even more isolated. Sweden, the Czech Republic and Hungary want time to consult their parliaments and political parties before deciding on whether to join the new union-within-the-union.

So two decades to the day after the Maastricht Treaty was concluded, launching the process towards the single European currency, the EU's tectonic plates have slipped momentously along same the fault line that has always divided it—the English Channel.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010BelgiumFranceGermany

1 Comments
Posted December 10, 2011 at 5:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the nineteen-eighties, integration into French society was still a rocky path for the children of North African immigrants. Throughout France, many young people seemed to be rediscovering their Islamic identity. This religious revival was also beginning to attract a certain number of non-Muslims.

Those who renounced Islam did so quietly. It was those who trumpeted their allegiance to Islam who attracted media attention. When schools restarted in September 1989, three young girls were suspended from their high school in Creil for refusing to take off their headscarfs inside the school building. So began the affair of the veil.

The matter of the veil continues to be contentious until today. In April 2011, France became the first European country to enforce a ban of the face veil in public, just one of the many issues that emphasise the schism that remains between the different faces of French society.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted December 3, 2011 at 10:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even as the euro zone hurtles towards a crash, most people are assuming that, in the end, European leaders will do whatever it takes to save the single currency. That is because the consequences of the euro’s destruction are so catastrophic that no sensible policymaker could stand by and let it happen.

A euro break-up would cause a global bust worse even than the one in 2008-09. The world’s most financially integrated region would be ripped apart by defaults, bank failures and the imposition of capital controls....The euro zone could shatter into different pieces, or a large block in the north and a fragmented south. Amid the recriminations and broken treaties after the failure of the European Union’s biggest economic project, wild currency swings between those in the core and those in the periphery would almost certainly bring the single market to a shuddering halt. The survival of the EU itself would be in doubt.

Yet the threat of a disaster does not always stop it from happening. The chances of the euro zone being smashed apart have risen alarmingly, thanks to financial panic, a rapidly weakening economic outlook and pigheaded brinkmanship. The odds of a safe landing are dwindling fast.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreeceItalyPortugalSpain

1 Comments
Posted November 26, 2011 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Banks clamored for emergency funds from the European Central Bank on Tuesday, borrowing the most since early 2009 in a clear sign that the euro region’s financial institutions are having trouble obtaining credit at reasonable rates on the open market.

Indebted governments among the 17 members of the European Union that use the euro are also finding it harder to borrow at affordable rates as investors lose confidence in their creditworthiness.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyItalyPortugalSpain

0 Comments
Posted November 22, 2011 at 11:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Only the fiercely conservative stewards of the European Central Bank have the firepower to intervene aggressively in the markets with essentially unlimited resources. But the bank itself, and its most important member state, Germany, have steadfastly resisted letting it take up the mantle of lender of last resort.

European politicians and analysts say that unbending stance now threatens the survival of the euro and the broader integration of Europe itself.

“There is no solution to the crisis without the E.C.B.,” said Charles Wyplosz, a professor at the Graduate Institute in Geneva and co-author of a standard textbook on European integration. “The amounts we are talking about are too big for anybody but the E.C.B.”

At issue is whether the bank has the will — or the legal foundation — to become a European version of the Federal Reserve in the United States, with a license to print money in whatever quantity it considers necessary to ensure the smooth functioning of markets and, if needed, to essentially bail out countries that are members of the euro zone.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermany

1 Comments
Posted November 18, 2011 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Alan Saunders: When the Abbéde Villars published a criticism of Pascal's argument in 1671, he said, 'I lose patience listening to you treating the highest of all matters, and resting the most important truth in the world, the source of all truths, on an idea so base and so puerile, on a comparison with a game of heads and tails, more productive of mirth than persuasion.' Now, he wasn't the only person who said that sort of thing. The idea seems to be that there's something disgusting in bringing gambling into a religious argument.

James Franklin: Yes, and in fact most religious people are even more keen to say that than atheist people. They, most religious people have not liked the wager and have headed for the hills at the mere suggestion that there's any agreement between themselves and Pascal. People talk about the wager as if the mercenary or gaming aspect of it is very bad. Well, that's just too bad. We're all philosophers here and we're interested in the validity of arguments. Not in whether they're tasteless or not. Or convenient, or have a good look and feel about them.

We want to know, nevertheless, whether it's a good argument, and talk about whether it's base or not is really not to the point.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchPhilosophyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* TheologyApologetics

0 Comments
Posted November 15, 2011 at 9:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

First it was Athens. Then Rome. Could Paris be next?

While Italy has replaced Greece as the focus of anxiety amid Europe’s worsening debt crisis, investors are increasingly concerned about the outlook for France, whose banks are among the world’s biggest and are closely linked with their counterparts in the United States.

One crucial gauge of investor sentiment, the difference between what France pays to borrow versus what Germany pays, has doubled since the beginning of October, and last week reached its widest point since the formation of the euro currency zone in 1999. Meanwhile, speculation that France could soon lose the sterling triple-A rating on its sovereign debt intensified after Standard & Poor’s mistakenly told clients on Thursday that it was downgrading France’s debt.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceItaly

0 Comments
Posted November 14, 2011 at 5:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For the second time in two years, European debt troubles threaten to slow the momentum of the fragile recovery in the United States.

Although American financial institutions have taken steps to protect themselves from Europe’s long-simmering problems, the likely slowdown in Europe could damage consumer and business confidence in America and strengthen the dollar, making United States exports less competitive.

“Financial contagion can lead to the very rapid global spread of recession,” said Chris Varvares, senior managing director for Macroeconomic Advisers, a forecasting company. “If trouble intensifies and spills over to equities and other U.S. risk assets, we could see a soft patch.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyItaly

0 Comments
Posted November 12, 2011 at 2:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Obama, at any rate, felt that they would have little value. Instead, he confronted the Germans in Cannes with a suggestion so radical that it alarmed both Merkel and Schäuble. To save the common currency, Obama proposed that the Europeans follow the example of the American Federal Reserve, which buys up almost unlimited amounts of US treasury bonds when necessary.

The Germans pointed out feebly that the ECB operates within a completely different tradition than the Fed, and that it also pursues a different mission. But it is becoming increasingly clear to Merkel and her finance minister that, in the end, only the ECB will be able to save the euro if the crisis continues to escalate. It is the only European fiscal policy institution capable of taking action, and it also comes equipped with unlimited firepower. It can never run out of money, because it can simply print new money when needed.

This is an approach Germany's representatives in the ECB council have strongly resisted....But how long can the Germans resist the pressure from other members?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreeceItalyPortugalSpain

4 Comments
Posted November 9, 2011 at 6:37 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Self-styled as “the premier forum for our international economic co-operation”, the Group of 20’s latest summit failed to live up to its central ambition to create “strong, stable and balanced” global economic growth.

As they arrived in Cannes, the leaders of countries representing 85 per cent of global output found the agenda dominated by political turmoil in Greece and a eurozone crisis too hot for the G20 to handle. They had little success in making progress on their medium-term goals.

The G20 all but admitted that the so-called “Doha round” of trade talks, launched in December 2001, was dead; it produced an action plan for growth and jobs that committed countries to almost nothing they were not already pursuing; and left the international monetary system almost unchanged.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyG20 The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

0 Comments
Posted November 4, 2011 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pope Benedict XVI prayed that a summit of the leaders of countries with the world's largest economies would find ways to overcome the current economic crisis and promote real development.

At the end of his weekly general audience Nov. 2, the pope issued a special appeal to the leaders of the G-20 nations scheduled to meet Nov. 3-4 in Cannes, France.

"I hope the meeting will help overcome the difficulties, which -- on a global level -- block the promotion of an authentically human and integral development," the pope said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationPovertyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyG20 The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVI

0 Comments
Posted November 3, 2011 at 7:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In response to the package, the bond market has not changed its tune. The new 50% "haircut" to private sector investors in Greece hasn't altered the conviction of traders that the troubles in Athens will inevitably be contagious. Pricing of Spanish, Italian and even French bonds reflect this pessimistic outlook.

Europe's politicians are aware of what the markets have long known: Patches are destined to fail. But the urge to pass the hot potato without instituting meaningful structural change is, evidently, irresistible. So instead of muscular reforms, we see the same unsuccessful rescue packages supersized. Sunny optimism and mutual back-patting continue, paired with pep talks from the rescue fund controllers at the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The latest steps don't end the Greek crisis. A Eurozone-wide problem requires a Eurozone-wide solution. The European Central Bank should be creating something along the lines of the U.S. TARP program, buying bonds to calm the volatility until a bold, permanent solution is crafted. Greece and the rest of Europe would ultimately survive the disintegration of the Eurozone and the death of the euro. But the end of a unified Europe would leave the entire world poorer.


Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreece

2 Comments
Posted November 3, 2011 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Americans must not be smug about the suffering of Europeans—our financial system is thoroughly integrated with theirs. Moreover, the International Monetary Fund will most likely be involved in the event of future bailouts and will likely need large funds from its members, which ultimately means the taxpayers.

And, of course, the U.S. has its own large and growing public debt burden. We have not gone as far down the road to entitlements, but we are catching up. If you want to know how the debt crisis will play out here, watch the downward spiral in the EU.

Meanwhile, expect more volatility in financial markets. U.S. traders in particular simply have not grasped the enormity of the EU debt crisis.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 Stock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Europe--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreece

0 Comments
Posted November 2, 2011 at 5:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The crisis of the euro zone has finally hit the potholed road of real politics, with the Greeks now openly questioning whether their commitment to Europe and its single currency still matters more to them than control over their own future and economic well-being.

During the two-year financial crisis, the wealthier countries of northern Europe, led by Germany, have insisted that their heavily indebted brethren in the south radically cut spending in return for emergency loans. They have stuck to that prescription even though austerity has undermined growth and increased unemployment in Greece, Spain, Portugal and now Italy, betting that people in those countries will swallow the harsh medicine because their only alternative is to default and possibly leave the euro zone altogether.

The turmoil in the government of Prime Minister George A. Papandreou means that Greece is about to call that bet. Many Greek politicians appear to be calculating, at this late stage, that they have more to lose by sticking to Germany’s terms than by risking a messy default, and even going it alone with their old currency, the drachma, outside the euro zone.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 Stock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveThe United States Currency (Dollar etc)Treasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreece

0 Comments
Posted November 2, 2011 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Germans expressed fury and frustration at Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou's shock decision to call a referendum on the latest aid package, with some saying the gamble would push Greece out of the euro zone.

"You can't help thinking that they should be grateful as Europe is trying to help," said Konstanze Pilge, a 26-year old student, walking near the Brandenburg Gate in central Berlin. "Now it looks like they are going to mess things up."

Papandreou dropped his bombshell on Monday evening, less than a week after European leaders agreed the outlines of a second bailout for Athens.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 The Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreece

2 Comments
Posted November 1, 2011 at 6:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the real drama Thursday was in the meeting with the bankers, held in the offices of Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, in the huge modern building here where the summit meeting was being held. Besides Mr. Van Rompuy, Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Sarkozy, others present were Christine Lagarde, the former French finance minister who runs the International Monetary Fund; José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission; and Jean-Claude Juncker, chairman of the euro zone finance ministers.

While they gave in, the bankers, represented by Charles Dallara, managing director of the Institute of International Finance, praised the deal. Later on Thursday, he explained to reporters that the bankers, too, were frightened of setting off a credit event, activating credit default swaps and other complex financial instruments, with unclear but potentially dire consequences for the global financial system.

“We attached a great deal of significance to this being voluntary,” Mr. Dallara said. “We knew what it would take in our mind in terms of the basic elements to be voluntary. It was not at all times clear through the negotiations that all parties placed the same priority on this being voluntary,” he said, an indirect reference to the German chancellor.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreece

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Posted October 28, 2011 at 7:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As Sir John Major wrote this morning in the FT, this does not solve EMU’s fundamental problem, which is the 30pc gap in competitiveness between North and South, and Germany’s colossal intra-EMU trade surplus at the expense of Club Med deficit states.

It is therefore unlikely to succeed. It means that Italy, Spain, Portugal, et al must close the gap with Germany by austerity alone, risking a Fisherite debt deflation spiral. As I have written many times, this is a destructive and intellectually incoherent policy, akin to the 1930s Gold Standard. It risks conjuring the very demons that Mrs Merkel warns against.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreece

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Posted October 27, 2011 at 5:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

European leaders have reached a "three-pronged" agreement described as vital to solve the region's huge debt crisis.

They said banks holding Greek debt accepted a 50% loss, the eurozone bailout fund will be boosted and banks will have to raise more capital.

Shares on European markets rose sharply on news of the deal.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 Stock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChinaEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreeceSouth AmericaBrazil

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Posted October 27, 2011 at 6:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Just when the eurozone governments thought it could not get worse for Europe's single currency, it did.

Shell-shocked EU finance ministers meeting in Brussels on Saturday were already reeling from the worst Franco-German rift for over 20 years and a fractious failure to resolve the problems that have brought Greece, and the euro, close to the brink.

But then a new bombshell hit as a joint report by the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned that, without a default, the Greek debt crisis alone could swallow the eurozone's entire €440 billion bailout fund - leaving nothing to spare to help the affected banks of Italy, Spain or France....

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreeceItalyPortugalSpain

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Posted October 22, 2011 at 5:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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