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Sarkozy’s party humbled by leftists

The Socialist Party took a strong lead in a first round of regional elections in France on Sunday and its main opposition the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party which is the governing party of President Nicolas Sarkozy is headed for a huge defeat.

President Nicolas Sarkozy

The election results, characterized with mass abstentions, was strongly favoring leftist candidates according to official results nearing completion.

This has given the ruling right wing party a stern blow in the last nationwide election before the 2012 presidential elections.

When 96% of votes had been counted, candidates from the Socialist and other leftist parties had won 53.6 percent votes according to the Interior Ministry. The conservative UMP party and other right-wing candidates won 39.8 percent. The far-right National Front outdid expectations with 12% of the vote. Read More…

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On this day March 10, 1831

King Louis-Philippe of France created the French Foreign Legion as a unit of foreign volunteers because foreigners were forbidden to serve in the French Army after the 1830 July Revolution.

Légionnaire in modern uniform

Légionnaire

The Legion was also seen as a convenient way to dispose of numerous recently-displaced foreign nationals (many of whom were thought to hold revolutionary political beliefs) by sending them to Algeria to fight in the French campaign of colonialization.

The Legion was primarily used to protect and expand the French colonial empire during the 19th century, but it also fought in all French wars including the Franco-Prussian War and both World Wars.

The Foreign Legion has remained an important part of the French Army.

It has survived three Republics, one empire, two World Wars, the rise and fall of mass conscript armies, the dismantling of the French colonial empire and the French loss of the legion’s birthplace, Algeria. Read More…

Storm batters southern Europe

A major storm system has swept through Spain, Portugal, and France over the weekend, killing more than 50 people, and leaving nearly a million without power.

Xynthia animation windstorm

The storm system, named Xynthia, has moved from Portugal north through Spain and coastal France, and is expected to reach northern Europe, including Denmark, by Sunday evening.

According to French prime minister Francois Fillon, at least 45 people have been killed in France alone, with around 60 injured. Additionally, three are dead in Spain, and one dead in each of Portugal, Belgium, and Germany.

According to the French utility EDF, nearly a million homes in France are without power, largely around Brittany and central France, and several towns on the French coast have been flooded. Read More…

On this day January 21, 1793

After being found guilty of treason by the National Convention, King Louis XVI was guillotined in front of a cheering crowd at the Place de la Révolution in Paris. He was the only king of France to be executed.

luis_xviOn 15 January 1793, the Convention, composed of 721 deputies, voted out the verdict, which was a foregone conclusion – 693 voted guilty, and none voted for acquittal.

The next day, a voting roll-call was carried out in order to decide upon the fate of the king, and the result was, for such a dramatic decision, uncomfortably close.

288 deputies voted against death and for some other alternative, mainly some means of imprisonment or exile. 72 deputies voted for the death penalty, but subject to a number of delaying conditions and reservations. 361 deputies voted for Louis’s immediate death. Read More…

France calls Paris Club for cancellation of Haiti’s Debt

France has asked the Paris Club of creditor nations to speed up the process of canceling Haiti’s debt, economy minister Christine Lagarde says she has contacted other members of the Paris Club to accelerate the cancellation of Haiti’s debt of nearly $78 million.

Christine Lagarde

Haiti did owe $84 million.  But Lagarde says about $6 million has been canceled since Tuesday’s devastating earthquake.

France chairs the Paris Club, which in July agreed to cancel most of the debt owed by Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country.

In addition to France, the Paris Club includes Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States.

On Thursday, French President Nicholas Sarkozy called for an international conference on rebuilding Haiti, a former French colony. Read More…

On this day January 9, 1839

The French Academy of Sciences announced the Daguerreotype photographic process, named after its inventor, French artist and chemist Louis Daguerre.

abraham-lincoln1846

Abraham Lincoln daguerreotype

The announcement of the daguerreotype process in 1839, along with William Fox Talbot’s in the same year, marks the date used as the invention of photography.

Instead of Daguerre obtaining a French patent, the French government provided a pension for him.

In Britain, Miles Berry, acting on Daguerre’s behalf, obtained a patent for the daguerreotype process on 14 August 1839. Almost simultaneously, on 19 August 1839, the French government announced the invention as a gift “Free to the World”. Read More…

On this day January 1, 2002

Euro banknotes and coins become legal tender in twelve of the European Union’s member states.

euro_banknotesThe euro (currency sign: ; currency code: EUR) is the official currency of fifteen member states of the European Union (EU).

The states, known collectively as the Eurozone are: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, and Spain. Read More…