Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
Should rappers be able to sing whatever they like in the name of art and should politicians be able to stop them taking to the stage? The question of censorship has jumped back to the fore in France with President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government, in a rather unlikely about-turn, jumping to the defence of a foul-mouthed rapper, while a leading Socialist has tried to muzzle him.
The rapper — pictured in the video above — is called Orelsan, a white, middle-class singer sometimes referred to as “France’s Eminem”, who shot to prominence earlier this year when a video of one of his songs became an Internet hit. Here is a taste of the lyrics (with the worst of the sexual imagery omitted!)
“I hate you, I want you to die slowly, I want you to get pregnant and lose your child … you are just a pig who should go straight to the slaughter house … I am going to get you pregnant and then abort you with a shepherd’s knife.”
The European Union has come under sharp criticism for having a fragmented approach to the financial crisis. It is exemplified by Ireland’s go-it-alone decision to guarantee all accounts and Germany’s surprise announcement after a meeting of leading members that it was taking unilateral action too.
Relief, then, that the 27 member states issued a statement on Monday that they would do what it takes to bolster citizens’ savings and build financial stability. Only problem was, they could not coordinate the announcement. First Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi released it, then Portugal. Only after a while did French President Nicholas Sarkozy weigh in. He does head the current EU presidency after all.
Sometimes those shifts are barely perceptible — the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War One but also bred German resentment and the rise of Nazism; the Yalta conference that helped create the United Nations as a guardian of peace but also led to the Iron Curtain that divided Europe for nearly half a century; and the Great Depression (arguably the greatest catastrophe of the 20th century, says Martin Wolf).
It is only when we look back we see the world has changed.
Are we at such a point now?
John Gray in The Observer speaks of a shattering moment in America’s fall from power. Germany’s Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck has said the United States has lost its financial superpower status. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said we need to rebuild the whole financial system from scratch, as they did at Bretton Woods. The Telegraph called for a ‘better capitalism’.
French Socialist Segolene Royal has unveiled a chic, dishevelled new look, but the surprise makeover is unlikely to prevent her from suffering a fresh election defeat.
Royal came second in last year’s presidential ballot behind Nicolas Sarkozy. Having lost the chance to run the country, she has now fixed her sights on running her party, with Socialist party members due to elect their new leader in November.
Today’s European edition of the International Herald Tribune is fronted by a photo montage of the presidents of Senegal, Afghanistan, Bolivia, Argentina, France and Brazil.
They have two things in common – all are attending this week’s United Nations General Assembly in New York and all see a global threat from the financial crisis that began on Wall Street and, in the words of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of the Philippines, has moved “like a terrible tsunami around the globe”.
Tributes have been pouring in for Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Russian author, former Soviet dissident and Nobel Literature prize laureate who died on Sunday aged 89.
Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, described the author of “The Gulag Archipelago” and “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” as a man of unique destiny and said: ”He was one of the first people who spoke up about the inhumanity of Stalin’s regime with a full voice, and about the people who lived through this but were not broken.”
The European-Mediterranean summit in Paris might have produced grand projects ranging from cleaning up the Mediterranean sea to using North Africa’s sunshine to generate power. But that is is not what it will be remembered for.
It will be remembered for the glorious welcome it bestowed on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who until yesterday was persona non-grata in the West, an autocrat leading a pariah regime, which many believe orchestrated the 2005 killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.
It should all be music to the ears of top military brass in Brussels, Washington and at the United Nations, who have long been struggling to fill gaps in under-resourced peacekeeping missions from Africa to Afghanistan.
Although the total number of mission-fit French forces will fall to 30,000 from 50,000 under the plans, the idea is that they will be better equipped, more mobile and better able to respond to everything from terrorism to cyber-attacks.