In the autumn of 1980, a meeting took place between François Mitterrand and his socialist rival, Michel Rocard, both of whom were jockeying to be the Socialist presidential candidate at the forthcoming elections. Mitterrand subsequently recounted the rendezvous to his aide Jacques Attali: “As I was bored listening to him, I began to play with a piece of paper which I rolled into a ball. It fell on the floor between the two of us, and can you imagine: he got on all fours to pick it up and give it to me.” Whether or not this story is true, it encapsulates perfectly the relationship between the two men: Rocard, who has died aged 85, the eager challenger without the killer instinct; Mitterrand the cool and Olympian political operator with an uncanny sense of the weaknesses of his opponents. Rocard was the most brilliant and attractive socialist politician of the post-second world war period; Mitterrand his implacable nemesis. Born in Courbevoie, a western suburb of Paris, … [Read more...] about Michel Rocard obituary
Seventy years after the nuclear age began, no country has built a place to safely store its waste, a report published this week warns, raising concerns for governments mulling nuclear power as an alternative to fossil fuels. More than 60,000 tons of highly radioactive waste in the form of spent nuclear fuel rods are stored in interim sites across Europe, according to the World Nuclear Waste Report, some in old facilities that are running out of capacity and are expected to be used for decades longer than planned. Finland is the only country building a permanent repository underground for nuclear waste that emits large amounts of radiation for tens of thousands of years, according to the report published by the Heinrich Böll Foundation — which is affiliated with the German Green party. "We are talking about time frames that are beyond the human scale of what we can think of," said Arne Jungjohann, political scientist and lead editor of the report. "We still don't know … [Read more...] about What happens to nuclear waste from power plants?
Africa's population is not only young: It is growing fast. But the large number of children is not a blessing for families. Economic growth in many countries cannot keep up, poverty is on the rise. The belief that children act as a life insurance in old age is still widespread and is making the demographic situation worse. The population in Africa is expected to nearly double, from 1.3 billion to 2.5 billion by 2050. Niger has highest birthrate "Such an increase in the number of people poses problems for the individual states and would even overburden a country like Germany," Alisa Kaps, a member of staff at the Berlin Institute for Population and Development, told DW. She cites the poor West African country of Niger as an extreme example. It has the highest birthrate and will triple its population by 2050. "There is a lack of appropriate infrastructure, health care, access to hospitals, education and jobs for these people," Kaps said, outlining the dilemma many … [Read more...] about Africa’s demographic dilemma
The German government approved twoarms sales to Saudi Arabia in the first six months of the year, worth a total of €831,003 ($915,817), according to Economy Ministry figures released on Wednesday. Details of what was sold were not included in the report. In the equivalent period of 2018, Saudi Arabia was Germany's third biggest customer, after Algeria and the United States, mainly buying naval boats. Chancellor Angela Merkel's administration approved five arms sales to the Middle Eastern kingdom from January to June 2018, worth a total of €161,874,673. Saudi Arabia has continually been accused of human rights abuses, and the murder of Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul prompted a public outcry that led Germany to pledge to end arms exports to the kingdom. The coalition government had already pledged to end arms exports to "countries directly involved in the Yemen War" in its coalition contract made in early 2018. Read more: Germany exports weapons to Saudi-led … [Read more...] about Germany reduces arms sales to Saudi Arabia
Every day in the kitchen of the Elysée Palace the staff who prepare luncheon for French President Jacques Chirac face an immutable deadline. At 12.15 on the dot, they are aware, Chirac will sit down for dejeuner and expect it to be ready. It is an insistence on regularity that clashes with his reputation for a lack of consistency. Not for nothing has he been dubbed la girouette - the weathervane. It is a reputation that has hardly been enhanced over the last few weeks as Chirac has struggled to offer a coherent leadership to the Yes campaign to ratify the mammoth new European constitution in a referendum to be held next Sunday - a performance that, at times, has barely risen above lacklustre. A case in point was the 72-year-old president's belated television intervention in the debate a little over a month ago, when he appeared in the studio of TF1 with 80 young people to explain why they should vote Oui. With polling once again sliding away from the Yes campaign, his cross … [Read more...] about Union Jacques