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IN THE PRESS

An overview of the stories making the French and international newspaper headlines. From Monday to Friday live at 7.20 am and 9.20 am Paris time.

Latest update : 2010-08-24

France sends Roma people home, home to nothing

The Roma people are at the heart of a controversy here in France, with the government looking to expel 850 of them by the end of the month. Even the pope had a few French words to say about that.

Aujourd’hui en France, or the Parisien as it’s known here in the capital, followed a family living in France to Romania. As you know, 850 Roma people will be expelled by the end of the month following the government’s plan to dismantle some 300 illegal camps. Those who “accept” to go back to their country of origin benefit from a 300 euro cheque per adult, 100 euros for each child. The problem is that once in Romania, the Roma people face just as much or even more discrimination as in France. Their children are not sent to school, for example, while here they often are.

Experts predict that once those 300 euros run out, Roma will try to come back to France. But French politicians, including immigration minister Eric Besson, have said they will dig in their heels to prevent exactly that. The paper stayed with the Roma family whom they followed from Grenoble back to Bucharest, and the conditions they describe over there are not the best (to say the least). No electricity, no running water…and in an interview, the father says that being in France is really their only way to live decently. Obviously, here, social aid is higher than in Romania, but living conditions in general are a lot better too, even in camps.

In La Croix, the travellers and Gypsies are making the headlines. They were also victims of the government's plan to dismantle camps. One thing that’s important to say is that these are French, not Romanian or Bulgarian. So they are not being deported but are still left homeless. La Croix is a Catholic paper and members of the Catholic travelling community met yesterday in an annual pilgrimage in southern France (Lourdes).

In Lourdes you have the Catholics and in eastern France you have the Protestants. There is a similar article in the Libération. The article is entitled “Don’t fear Sarkozy, fear Jesus.”
Some 30,000 Protestant travellers are expected to gather in Chaumont, in the east of the country, and the government's measures are obviously on everyone’s mind. And though the travellers or Gypsies are not technically Roma in the sense that they are French and can’t be deported, they consider themselves part of the Roma people and there is a real sense of solidarity.

Also in Libération, 55 percent of the French want a left-wing government, so in this case, socialist. The presidential election isn’t quite around the corner…we’ll have to wait till May 2012. But this has been a tendency for a while here in France. Basically, people are fed up with President Nicolas Sarkozy - only 24 percent say they’d re-elect him. The Socialist Part now only has to hold on to that public opinion.

This is the “back to school” period for French politicians, who all seem to be on holiday throughout the month of August. The Socialist Party will meet in 4 days for its “summer university” where they will elect leaders and also discuss what direction they want to take their policies this year. There is just one important thing to mention. Though 55 percent say they want the Socialists in power, 57 percent say they don’t believe they will do any better than Sarkozy.

And lastly, the Figaro reports: the moon is getting smaller. US scientists say it decreased by about 100 m in diameter in the last billion years. They’d sent a satellite to orbit around the moon to measure faults and cliff. What they found is that the cliff were actually pushed up. Also, the interior is still somewhat hot…so as that cools off, the moon is shrinking even more. It’s like global warming for the man in the moon - the space where he can live is getting smaller. Maybe he’ll become a man in the sun: that doesn’t seem to be getting any cooler any time soon.

By Carla WESTERHEIDE

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