TIME France

French President Dissolves Government

France New Government
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, right, and Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg visit French defense and electronic company Thales in Gennevilliers, outside Paris, on April 10 Christophe Ena—AP

Hollande's approval ratings are in the teens

(PARIS) — French President François Hollande dissolved the government on Monday after an open feud in his Cabinet over the country’s stagnant economy.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls offered up his Socialist government’s resignation after accusing the economy minister of crossing a line with his blunt criticism of the government’s policies. Hollande accepted the resignation and ordered Valls to form a new government by Tuesday.

France has had effectively no economic growth this year and Hollande’s approval ratings are in the teens. The country is under pressure from the European Union to get its finances in order, but Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg has questioned whether the austerity pressed by the EU will kick start French growth.

“A major change in our economy policy,” was what Montebourg had said was needed from the president and prime minister.

With those words, Montebourg drew the anger of the Socialist leadership, which said Montebourg’s job was to support the government, not criticize it from within.

“He’s not there to start a debate but to put France back on the path of growth,” Carlos Da Silva, the Socialist Party spokesman, told Le Figaro newspaper.

TIME France

Paris Gunmen Hold Up a Saudi Prince’s Motorcade and Steal 250,000 Euros

"It's quite an unusual attack," a police source told the AFP news agency

Robbers armed with Kalashnikov rifles stole 250,000 euros ($335,000) and “sensitive” documents after raiding the motorcade of a Saudi prince that was en route from the Saudi embassy in northern Paris to Le Bourget airport, AFP reports.

The items were stolen from a supply vehicle in Porte de la Chapelle that was later incinerated.

“It’s quite an unusual attack. They were obviously well-informed. It’s true that it’s quite a rare way of operating,” a police source told AFP. No injuries were reported during the incident and suspects have yet to be found.

[AFP]

TIME France

Small French Town Resistant to Change Name From ‘Death to Jews’

A Jewish group has petitioned to change the name of La-mort-aux-Juifs

A Jewish organization is petitioning French officials that a small hamlet outside of Paris change its name from what translates in English as “Death to Jews.”

“[The fact that the name] was unnoticed during seventy years since the liberation of France from the Nazis and Vichy is most shocking,” Shimon Samuels, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s international relations, wrote to France’s Interior Minister.

Here’s the town on Yahoo! Maps:

But the deputy mayor of Courtemaux, the village of 289 people that oversees the contested hamlet, is resistant to a name change, arguing that the tradition should be respected.

“It’s ridiculous. This name has always existed,” Marie-Elizabeth Secretand told AFP. “No one has anything against the Jews, of course. It doesn’t surprise me that this is coming up again. Why change a name that goes back to the Middle Ages or even further? We should respect these old names.”

Secretand also noted that the municipal council was petitioned to change the name of the town, which consists of two houses and a farm, 20 years ago, but that request was denied.

Still, Samuels urges a name change due to “the current surge in public and violent expressions of anti-Semitism” — Europe has seen a dramatic uptick of anti-Semitism ranging from protests to acts of violence in the past month — and for the town’s own monetary gains. Samuels noted that home values in La-Mort-Aux-Juifs is 14.1% less than the Courtemaux average.

In May, a Spanish town called Castrillo Matajudios (Little Hill Fort of Jew Killers) changed its name to Mota de Judios (Hill of the Jews).

TIME gender equality

France Eases Abortion Restrictions in Sweeping Equality Law

France's Women, Youth and Sports Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem arrives to attend a dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris May 5, 2014.
France's Women, Youth and Sports Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem arrives to attend a dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris May 5, 2014. Gonzalo Fuentes—Reuters

Called "historic" step in gender equality push

France passed legislation this week allowing women to get abortions during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy with no questions asked, lifting previous restrictions as part of a sweeping and historic law meant to increase gender equality in the country.

Previously, a French woman could only get an abortion if her condition put “her in a situation of distress.” The new law, signed Tuesday by French President François Hollande, also ensures women can access information about obtaining abortions, Reuters reports. The legislation provides protections for domestic abuse victims and supports more equal division of childcare and representation in politics. And it strives to creates a more equal job environment by encouraging men to take paternity leaves.

“At a time when women in many parts of the world, including in the United States and Spain, are seeing their rights restricted, violated, and disrespected, France has set an important example for the rest of the globe with its progressive stance toward reproductive health care,” Lilian Sepúlveda, director of the Global Legal Program at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement. “Ensuring a woman’s right to control her fertility is fundamental to achieving gender equality. But passing today’s law is just the first step—we now look to French policymakers to ensure women see the benefits of this historic law implemented this year.”

When the law was initially introduced, France’s minister for women’s rights Najat Vallaud-Belkacem told the Guardian: “I don’t believe that history is going to spontaneously take us forward, so going towards more equality needs us to be politically proactive.”

[Reuters]

TIME Mali

Doomed Air Algérie Flight Asked to Turn Back Before Crash

French military helicopters fly above the crash site of Air Algerie flight AH5017 near the northern Mali town of Gossi
French military helicopters fly above the crash site of Air Algérie Flight 5017 near the northern Mali town of Gossi on July 24, 2014 Souley Mane Ag Anara—Reuters

Air Algérie Flight 5017, which went down in Mali, was the third airliner to suffer a disastrous crash in a week

Shortly before ground controllers lost contact with Air Algérie Flight 5017, the airliner’s crew requested to abandon its journey to Algiers and head back to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, eyeing foul weather on the radar.

The plane crashed in a remote corner of Mali shortly thereafter, killing all 118 passengers and crew members on board.

Its black-box flight recorders arrived in Paris on Monday, Agence France-Presse reports, offering investigators insight into the July 24 tragedy — the third airline disaster in just over a week, coming after the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine and the unsuccessful landing of TransAsia Airways Flight 222 in Taiwan.

Authorities had previously known that the Air Algérie plane requested a change of route but not a return to its point of origin.

[AFP]

TIME Foreign Policy

White House: EU, US to Impose New Russia Sanctions

(WASHINGTON) — The United States and European Union plan to impose new sanctions against Russia this week, including penalties targeting key sectors of the Russian economy, the White House said Monday.

The show of Western solidarity comes as the U.S. accuses Russia of ramping up its troop presence on its border with Ukraine and shipping more heavy weaponry to pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukrainian cities.

President Barack Obama and the leaders of Britain, Germany, France and Italy discussed the crisis during a rare joint video teleconference on Monday. The discussion follows days of bilateral talks on how to implement tougher sanctions after the downing of a passenger jet in eastern Ukraine, an attack the U.S. says was carried out by the separatists.

The U.S. and European sanctions are likely to target Russia’s energy, arms and financial sectors. The EU is also weighing the prospect of levying penalties on individuals close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who appears to only be deepening Russia’s role in destabilizing Ukraine.

“It’s precisely because we’ve not yet seen a strategic turn from Putin that we believe it’s absolutely essential to take additional measures, and that’s what the Europeans and the United States intend to do this week,” said Tony Blinken, Obama’s deputy national security adviser.

Europe, which has a stronger trade relationship with Russia than the U.S., has lagged behind Washington with its earlier sanctions package, in part out of concern from leaders that the penalties could have a negative impact on their own economies. But a spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron said following Monday’s call that the West agreed that the EU should move a “strong package of sectoral sanctions as swiftly as possible.”

French President Francois Hollande said in a statement that the Western leaders “regretted Russia has not effectively pressured separatists to bring them to negotiate nor taken expected concrete measures to assure control of the Russian-Ukrainian border.”

The U.S. penalties are expected to be imposed after Europe finalizes its next moves. Neither set of penalties is expected to fully cut off Russian economic sectors from the West, an options U.S. officials have said they’re holding in reserve in case Russia launches a full-on military incursion in Ukraine or takes a similarly provocative step.

As the West presses ahead with new sanctions, U.S. officials say Russia is getting more directly involved in the clash between separatists and the Ukrainian government. Blinken said Russia appeared to be using the international attention focused on the downed Malaysia Airlines plane as “cover and distraction” while it moves more heavy weaponry over its border and into Ukraine.

“We’ve seen a significant re-buildup of Russian forces along the border, potentially positioning Russia for a so-called humanitarian or peace-keeping intervention in Ukraine,” Blinken said. “So there’s urgency to arresting this.”

Nearly 300 people were killed when the Malaysian plane was shot down by a missile on July 17. The West blames the separatists for the missile attack and Russia for supplying the rebels with equipment that can take down a plane.

Other leaders participating in Monday’s call were German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. The White House said the leaders also discussed the stalled efforts to achieve a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, the need for Iraq to form a more inclusive government and the uptick in security threats in Libya.

TIME Cycling

Tour de France: Determination, Dirt and Damage

With the world's most epic cycling competition concluding Sunday with Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali victorious, TIME takes a look back at the monthlong contest with a photo from every day of the race.

TIME Photos

Feel Good Friday: 14 Fun Photos to Start Your Weekend

From inflatable toads to Taiwanese "frog men," here's a handful of photos to get your weekend started right

TIME Algeria

Air Algérie Flight Disappears Over Mali With Over 110 Aboard

France's Foreign Minister said Flight AH5017 "probably crashed"

+ READ ARTICLE

Air Algérie said Thursday it lost contact during the night with an Algiers-bound flight from Burkina Faso carrying more than 110 people.

The Algerian national airliner said in a statement to the Algerian news agency APS that the flight, AH5017, took off from Ouagadougou at 1:17 a.m. GMT and was supposed to land in Algiers at 5:11. But the airline lost contact with the plane about 50 minutes into the flight, though the exact timing remains unclear amid differing reports.

Heather Jones for TIME

French President François Hollande, who cancelled his planned trip to the French island Réunion, said in a televised address that 51 French citizens were on the flight ahead of a connection in Algiers. In his statement, which followed an emergency meeting with top ministers, he said that “everything suggests that this plane crashed.”

He said that France, which has spearheaded an international military intervention in Mali against Islamic extremists in the north of the country, will deploy “all the military means that we have on location in Mali” to find the plane.

The French President said that at 1:48 a.m. the crew signaled that it was changing its route because of particularly difficult weather conditions. A Twitter account that appears to belong to the Algerian airline said in a tweet that the plane would have crashed in the region of Tilemsi about 70 km (43 miles) from the city of Gao in northern Mali.

The airline told APS early Thursday that the plane was carrying 119 passengers and 7 crewmembers of Spanish nationality, though officials have provided slightly varying numbers. In a separate statement, Swiftair, the Spanish private airline company that owns the plane, said that the plane was carrying 116 people, including 110 passengers and 6 crewmembers. Swiftair said the plane was an MD-83 operated by Air Algeria.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that 51 French citizens were on the flight. The Twitter account that appears to belong to the Algerian airline said in a tweet that there were also passengers from at least 13 other countries, and an Air Algérie representative told reporters in Burkino Faso that all of the passengers on the plane were in transit, according to Reuters.

The plane disappeared in rough weather over Mali. Data from weather satellites show that there may have been storms in the plane’s flightpath:

 

TIME Music

Renowned Conductor Lorin Maazel Dies Age 84

Lorin Maazel conducts New York Philharmonic in Brahms's "Symphony No.4" at Avery Fisher Hall on Jan. 30, 2008.
Lorin Maazel conducts New York Philharmonic in Brahms's "Symphony No.4" at Avery Fisher Hall on Jan. 30, 2008. Hiroyuki Ito—Getty Images

Sometimes controversial figure toured North Korea with the New York Philharmonic in 2008

Lorin Maazel, the renowned conductor who held premier positions at some of the world’s top orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, died on Sunday at his home in the U.S.

Maazel, a colossal figure in classical music, had also been the music director of the Vienna State Opera among other famed orchestras and ensembles in his decades-long career, reports the BBC. His tenure at the New York Philharmonic included a highly publicized tour of North Korea in 2008.

The cause of death was complications from pneumonia, according to the Castleton Festival, a summer workshop for young musicians founded by Maazel and his wife in 2009. Maazel had been at home in Virginia rehearsing for the annual festival when he passed. He was 84.

Maazel, born in France in 1930, was a child prodigy who as a teenager guest-conducted prestigious orchestras throughout North America, starting a career that would include conducting more than 150 ensembles in at least 5,000 performances, according to the Castleton Festival.

Known to perform without a score, Maazel was at times a controversial figure, delivering recitals that could be highly studied and rote, but other times intensely personal and dramatic, reports the New York Times.

Maazel was also a composer, including of an opera based on George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. His interpretation premiered at the Royal Opera House in London and went on to have a sold-out revival at La Scala, Milan, according to the Castleton Festival.

[BBC]

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