France Hopes Key To Liverpool Move, Says Sakho

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PARIS — French investigators have dropped criminal charges against former President Nicolas Sarkozy for allegedly soliciting illegal campaign funds from the country’s richest woman. The inquiry found insufficient evidence that Sarkozy had sought and accepted campaign money in 2007 from L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt , 90, while she was in a frail mental state. Sarkozy won the 2007 presidential election . The unexpected decision on Monday, just two weeks after a court ruled the investigation could proceed, clears the way for Sarkozy, who had vehemently denied the accusations, to run for reelection in 2017. However, the charges — termed an abuse of weakness –were maintained against Eric Woerth, a former government minister who was Sarkozy’s treasurer in the 2007 campaign; Bettencourt’s former companion, the society photographer Francois-Marie Banier; her lawyer, Pascal Wilhelm; her financial advisor, Patrice de Maistre and six others. Their trial is expected to be held next year. The public prosecutor in Bordeaux, where the investigation is being conducted, had said the case against Sarkozy stood no chance of success, and threatened to appeal any decision to send the former president to trial, delaying the investigation against the other accused. The former president is still dogged by a number of other legal cases, including a scandal over millions of euros in public money paid in compensation to a controversial businessman and friend, Bernard Tapie. Sarkozy is also facing questions about the “Karachi Affair,” a complicated corruption case linked to arms sales and a bombing in Pakistan in 2002 that killed 11 French nationals. Before the May 2012 election campaign, Sarkozy had said that if he lost his bid for reelection, France would never hear of me again. He has maintained a reasonably low profile since his defeat by Socialist Francois Hollande , but he and his entourage have begun hinting of his return to the front line of French politics to save the country. Several members of the right-of-center opposition Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party, are said to be interested in running in 2017, but Sarkozy has emerged as the popular candidate to challenge Hollande. Last month, an opinion poll by the French Institute of Public Opinion found that 62% of UMP voters questioned wanted him to run in 2017, well ahead of any rivals in the party. During a visit to the Haute-Savoie region four weeks ago, Sarkozy dined with local UMP lawmakers.

Crowdfunding counters France’s culture of caution

“I had to leave Paris to get back into les Bleus [France],” Sakho toldLe Parisien. “I wanted to show that I’m still up to it and that, above all, I didn’t go because of competition for places. “At Liverpool there are also very good players in my position. But it’s healthy competition. In Paris, it had become more complicated.” Sakho made the jump from the academy to PSG’s professional side in 2007. The centre-back was one of a handful of homegrown players in a team filled with international stars and Sakho felt that his status as a youth product had taken precedence over his on-field talents. “I could say a lot of things about certain people in Paris, but it wouldn’t serve any purpose,” he added. “I’ve put that behind me and closed the door. “I had seen a lot of things that went against my principles. Before being footballers, we’re firstly men. In Paris, I didn’t always feel respect.

France protests Amazon UK ban on foie gras

View gallery French Minister for Agribusiness Guillaume Garot on July 19, 2013 in Quimper, western France (AFP Photo/Fred Tanneau) October 7, 2013 3:31 PM Paris (AFP) – France on Monday criticised a decision by Amazon to ban the sale of foie gras on its British website, following an animal rights campaign accusing producers of the delicacy of “very un-British” cruelty. Activists have for years campaigned against the sale of foie gras, saying the practice of force-feeding ducks or geese in order to make the French gourmet item is cruel and amounts to torture. “I regret Amazon’s decision,” Guillaume Garot, France’s minister for agribusiness, told AFP. “I once again want to point out the efforts made by French producers over the years to maintain real product quality while respecting the animal’s well-being,” he said. The site Amazon.co.uk, which on Monday added “foie gras” to a list of prohibited animal products including “whale, dolphin and shark parts”, would not comment on the reasons behind the ban. But animal rights campaign group Viva! said the move followed pressure by the organisation, which earlier this year presented the US online retailer with “evidence of the abject suffering” caused by foie gras production. A petition against the sale of the delicacy was also signed by more than 10,000 Amazon customers and Viva! supporters. Foie gras – which literally means fatty liver – is hugely popular in France, where it is eaten at Christmas and on other special occasions, but ongoing controversy over production of the delicacy has given it a bad name in other parts of the world. The sale of foie gras has been outlawed in California, while Britain’s House of Lords has taken it off the menu. Garot said he was nevertheless “very confident” about the future of the foie gras industry, which employs nearly 100,000 people directly and indirectly in France. “I defend this sector because of jobs but also because of a certain idea of gastronomic heritage,” Garot added. The minister is due shortly to travel to South Korea for a visit partly aimed at promoting foie gras sales in the hope of repeating the kind of boom in sales the product has recently enjoyed in Japan. Politics & Government DENVER (AP) The Denver apartment where four young, malnourished brothers were living was squalid and filled with an unbearable odor when police checked on their living conditions last month, authorities said.

It has slowly gathered momentum. Some 33 million euros ($45 million) were raised in the first six months of 2013 — more than the whole of last year — with more to come. “Growth (in France) will be around 150 percent this year, compared to around 100 percent at a global level,” said Francois Carbone, head of the French crowdfunding association. “This shows that there is strong interest in France for this mode of funding, and that it is rising quickly.” Last week, the country’s Socialist government announced a series of new proposals aimed at facilitating crowdfunding, which until now was in regulatory limbo. These include the creation of a new legal status that would ease regulatory burdens for online crowdfunding platforms — a first in Europe according to innovation minister Fleur Pellerin. “We all know how much banks can be unadventurous, scared of new ideas from inventors and those with projects,” Pellerin said at a conference announcing the measures, which if adopted will kick in in early 2014. “This is a problem, particularly in a context of crisis where we actually need to encourage audacity, and test groundbreaking solutions to create more jobs. “For young or new entrepreneurs, (for) all those who… refuse to bow to the dictums of banks, crowdfunding is a real boon.” Scented made-in-France underpants, a wind turbine that looks like a tree, customised prosthetic limbs, films, emerging singers… The projects are snowballing, with several examples of meteoric success. Buzcard is a case in point.