Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Semi-annual French News Roundup

It is semi-annual because that's all I can tolerate.

Headline: "Mitterrand's son may face trial in arms to Angola affair" is more hope than possibility. The son was detained for three weeks in December 2000 and January 2001 as an accessory to arms trafficking, but the charge has been dropped. Judiciary wants to try Jean-Christophe Mitterrand, who was an adviser on African affairs at the Elysee presidential palace from 1986 to 1992, along with 42 others suspected of -- GASP -- taking bribes from businessman Pierre Falcone, who organised $500 million arms deliveries from eastern Europe to Angola to help fund another African war. Dubbed "Angolagate" by the press.

Falcone is married to -or divorced from, depending on the story - a former Miss Bolivia. She was charged in 2006 with immigration fraud and perjury and accused of hiring illegal immigrants to work as servants in her $10.5 million Paradise Valley mansion - in Arizona. Her bio at her website says she was "raised in Argentina in a family of seven children. Sonia Falcone developed an early love for animals, the environment, and the people around her." (Which makes you wonder why people ranked last in all that early love.)

In any case, as reported Mar 22nd, the Feds are kicking her out of the U.S. She has until August 15 to leave the country. "We believe it serves the interests of the United States that Ms. Falcone has agreed to remove herself from the country and terminate her citizenship," said Wyn Hornbuckle, spokesman for interim U.S. Attorney Daniel Knauss. (Knauss was appointed in Feb 2007, dodging recommendations of Republican Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl.)

Just in passing - Daniel Knauss is the interim replacement for Paul Charlton who was one of eight U.S. Attorneys who were abruptly replaced. Whether it was for reasons claimed by the Senate oversight committee or they were fired for non-performance or non-compliance with Administrative wishes, isn't clear yet. Clinton fired every U.S. Attorney - all 93 - when he took office, an act unprecedented.

One of the complaints appears to be that the fired U.S. Attorneys were not taking voter fraud seriously. Sonia Falcone's web site is a latino voter activism site. Her philanthropy, it seems, was limited to registering latino voters.

Headline: "Mitterrand's daughter slams 'mad dog' Sarkozy" is 33-year-old writer whose relationship to her father was kept secret until she was in her late teens who plans to vote socialist. Pingeot's mother, Anne, was Mitterrand's mistress. (The French love scandal even more than America-bashing. It's better for the ego and self-absorption disguises a lot of faults.)
Not even headline material: The usual street protests against work conditions and bad pay. This time in Marseilles and they are policemen. Protest coincided (if you believe in coincidence) with Nicolas Sarkozy's visit to the southern city of Marseilles. Full denials that no one believes.
A Saudi prince will be tried in absentia for using diplomatic immunity to smuggle two tons of cocaine into France in his private jet. Neither he or the three Columbian drug-traffickers will be in court. The three Columbians are in U.S. custody since their conviction in 2005.

Prince Nayef is a grandson of Saudi Arabia's founding monarch Abdulaziz. Prince Nayef's lawyer Jacques Verges is expected to argue that his client is the victim of a conspiracy hatched in the US. Times (London) has more. As does The Scotsman.

No one has claimed it was for his personal household use. In fact, a former official at the French interior ministry claims that Nayef turned to coke-smuggling to provide secret funding for Wahabi Muslim fundamentalist militants.

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