… in France:
The frontrunner in the French presidential election, Nicolas Sarkozy, has said France is “exasperated by uncontrolled immigration”.
“What exasperates France?” Mr Sarkozy asked at a news conference on Monday. “France is exasperated by the dispute about national identity, by uncontrolled immigration, by fraud, by waste”.
He said there was “an obvious link between 30 or 40 years of a policy of uncontrolled immigration and the social explosion in French cities”.
On Sunday Mr Sarkozy, himself the son of a Hungarian immigrant, accused his main rival, Socialist candidate Segolene Royal, of “hysteria” over her reaction to his comments on immigration and national identity.
Ms Royal replied on the French channel TV5 by calling his comments “contemptuous, shocking and humiliating”.
The hostility between police and young people has a lot to do with France’s lack of integration of immigrants, unemployment, and other things not related to Sarkozy. The electoral debate has centered on national identity and law and order, as would be expected, considering the ever-present, ever-festering Zones Urbaines Sensibles, or Sensitive Urban Zones, which the French government defined as
The sensitive urban zones (ZUS) are infra-urban areas defined by the authorities to be a high-priority target for city policy, taking into consideration local circumstances related to the problems which the inhabitants of these areas have.
Anti-Semitic incidents continue, with Jewish gravestones vandalized in northern France before Passover
In a characteristic French symbollic gesture, all the candidates have featured the French flag, and are singing the national anthem in every rally, in a “Moi?, I’m more French than vous” way.
Sarkozy is the only one talking tough on immigration and integration. There is, however, a lot of talk about globalization, in the form of calls for more protectionism and more government benefits. That is, even in the face of two unemployment rates (h/t No Pasaran), and onerous regulations that hinder competition.
France’s only centrist minister deserts Bayrou, the third-runner, a member of his own party. Bayrou’s theme is that he’ll make the main parties work together if he’s elected. Considering how Chirac and Jospin got along, I’d say that Bayrou’s an optimist.
Today Airbus workers will go on strike to protest a restructuring plan involving massive layoffs, since the company’s broke.
A high-speed French train with a modified engine and wheels broke the world speed record today by traveling more than 350 miles-per-hour. This means that France will continue to be in the running (pun intended) for high-speed train contracts, along with the Japanese.