France call up Varane and Remy for World Cup qualifier
The cuts come as tensions rise within Socialist President Francois Hollande’s 17-month-old coalition, whose poll ratings have fallen to 23 percent due to dissatisfaction about the economy and jobs. The defense ministry said in April that 34,000 jobs would likely be cut over the coming six years, but its overall budget would remain largely static, steering clear of drastic spending cuts after military officials and lawmakers said that would reduce France’s ability to counter global security threats. “Given the six year objectives, (the cut) should be around 7,000 to 7,500 military and civilian personnel in 2014,” the source said on condition of anonymity, ahead of a news conference by Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. A handful of bases will be closed or restructured, including an 800-man regiment in the town of Orange in the Vaucluse department, where support for the anti-immigrant, anti-European Union National Front is strong, the source said. Marion Marechal-Le Pen, a National Front member of parliament for Vaucluse, said the cuts would hurt France’s defenses and local economies in areas like hers. “I can only worry about the immediate economic impact in a region that has already been heavily hit by unemployment and economic difficulties,” she said, reacting to media reports about the cuts. “The governments of the right and the left have preferred to sell off our military know-how and lose our diplomatic independence by making small short-term savings. That will cost France’s sovereignty dearly in the coming years,” she said. France’s military employs some 228,000 personnel today. A further 165,000 individuals are employed by the defence industry, not including sub-contractors. The government plans 15 billion euros ($20 billion) in savings next year and 3 billion extra revenues from higher taxes and fighting tax evasion to reduce the budget deficit. (Editing by Tom Heneghan and Robin Pomeroy) Politics & Government If you’re attending one of the worlds top universities, chances are high you’re an English-speaking student on a leafy campus in the United States or the United Kingdom. Christian Science Monitor Washington (AFP) – US President Barack Obama demanded an end to a three-day government shutdown he decried as a reckless “farce,” piling pressure on Republicans Thursday to climb down first on a budget impasse. AFP Rep. Todd Rokita prefaced a response to CNN’s Carol Costello during a debate over shutdown pay by praising her beauty.
And the driving force behind the deal is a Lebanese billionaire with holdings across the Middle East and Africa who once faced investigation for his past financial dealings in France. Shaking hands and smiling, French President Francois Hollande and Mozambique President Armando Guebuza formally launched the ship-building project Monday at a struggling shipyard in Cherbourg, on France’s Atlantic coast. Shipbuilder Constructions mecaniques de Normandie (CMN) says the contract will provide two years of work for around 400 French employees. Mozambique officials say the ships will help fight illegal trafficking and piracy, and protect offshore oil and gas drilling platforms. The patrol ships will need naval guns and other military equipment, and so there are also negotiations under way about buying the needed weaponry from France, Mozambique Deputy Foreign Minister Henrique Banze said. “Yes there will be” weapons purchases, he told The Associated Press by telephone. “It’s important not only to have ships. There will also be a need to make sure that they are protected.” He would not give details, but said the money for the ship deal came “from a loan from another country, but I can’t say which one.” Hollande’s office said the contract with CMN is just part of a larger global deal with the holding company Privinvest, owned by Lebanese magnate Iskandar Safa. Hollande’s office wouldn’t comment on the possible weapons negotiations because the deal is not public. Safa, who played a prominent role in Monday’s events in Cherbourg, declined to give details on the agreements involved. Safa, who helped negotiate the release of French hostages in Lebanon in 1988, faced a French arrest warrant for several years in the 2000s because of suspicions around his financial transactions with senior French officials. The case against him was dropped in 2009 by the French prosecutors for lack of evidence. Meanwhile, Mozambicans are asking how all these purchases are being financed. Mozambique is ranked 185 out of 187 on the U.N.’s human development index. But it has been enjoying strong economic growth, boosted by the discovery of large reserves of offshore natural gas.
France military eyes 2014 cuts, far-right seeks to benefit
Credit: Reuters/Albert Gea PARIS | Thu Oct 3, 2013 3:08pm BST PARIS (Reuters) – Centre back Raphael Varane and striker Loic Remy were called up on Thursday for France’s final soccer World Cup qualifier against Finland this month. Coach Didier Deschamps also included Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho and Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye in the 23-man list. The 20-year-old Varane returned to action with Real Madrid in Wednesday’s Champions League 4-0 victory at Copenhagen after months out with a knee injury. His first two international appearances in March, when he started the World Cup qualifiers at home against Georgia and Spain, proved enough to convince Deschamps to recall him. “It’s true that he has not played a lot yet but regarding what he did with us, it was logical to me to call him up,” Deschamps told a news conference. Sakho, who left French champions Paris St Germain because he was the fourth choice there, is also returning after earning four consecutive starts with English Premier League side Liverpool. Remy, who has scored three goals in his last two league games with Newcastle, is also coming back as Deschamps continues to look for the best attacking options. Karim Benzema, who has not scored with Les Bleus since June last year, was benched in Belarus last month but replacement Olivier Giroud did not prove much more effective despite the 4-2 victory. “Loic Remy has the scoring touch and is able to fill in several attacking positions. He also has the pace that gives us different possibilities,” Deschamps said. France host Australia in a friendly on October 11 and take on Finland for their final 2014 World Cup qualifier four days later. They are second in their Group I, tied on 14 points with leaders Spain, and will secure a spot in next month’s playoff if they do not lose to Finland. Squad: Goalkeepers: Mickael Landreau (Bastia), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Steve Mandanda (Olympique Marseille) Defenders: Eric Abidal (Monaco), Gael Clichy (Manchester City), Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle United), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid) Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle), Clement Grenier (Olympique Lyonnais), Blaise Matuidi (Paris St Germain), Samir Nasri (Manchester City), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle United) Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Dimitri Payet (Olympique Marseille), Loic Remy (Newcastle), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich), Mathieu Valbuena (Olympique Marseille).
France-Mozambique Ship Deal Raises Questions
Households are eligible for rebates of as much as 10 percent on the state-set tariffs, it said on its website . France allowed EDF to raise residential electricity rates 5 percent on Aug. 1 and a further 5 percent next year. Last year, the rates were the second-lowest in the European Union, adjusted for average income, according to Eurostat. Frances regulator agreed with companies such as Direct Energie that the low rates meant they couldnt compete against state-controlled utilities. For years EDF was selling below cost of production through regulated rates, Direct Energie Chief Executive Officer Xavier Caitucoli said today on BFM radio. If EDF is allowed to cover its costs, competitors can compete with regulated rates. Its an important change. The opening of the market to competition has been an obstacle course. Direct Energie is gaining about 6,000 new clients a month, he said. The company, which merged with Poweo SA, had 798,000 power and 227,000 gas customers in France last year, compared with the nations 35 million power and 11 million gas buyers. Market Dominance The markets are dominated by former monopolies, according to the latest Commission de Regulation de lEnergie figures. Alternative suppliers including Direct Energie had 8.3 percent of the household power market by volume at the end of June and about a fifth of the market for businesses. For gas in the same period, these suppliers had 12 percent of the household market and 45 percent of businesses, according to CRE. Direct Energie buys about 80 percent of its power from EDF nuclear output and gas from spot markets, its 2012 report shows.