In a small village lost in the wooded hills of South-west France, there is a building that looks like a cross between a battery chicken farm and a provincial airport terminal. summer fashion 2011
The building complex contains 15,000 objects of epic eclecticism. They include: a 5ft-long, stuffed, prehistoric fish; a pair of unworn blue cowboy-boots; a porcelain model of a sumo wrestler standing on one foot; a plastic cow; a New York Fire Department helmet; a chess set in which all four bishops are Desmond Tutu ; and a Winston Churchill pen and cigar set (presented by the grateful people of Britain).
The building houses the Musée du Président Jacques Chirac, a tribute to his 12 years as president of France (1995 to 2007) and the permanent resting place for the tons of ceremonial bric-a-brac that he received while in office.
The museum may also be emblematic of Mr Chirac's career in another way. It relies heavily on subsidies from the taxpayer. The €16m (£13.7m) that it cost to build the museum came from French national and regional governments and from the European Union's regional development fund. For each €4 that a visitor pays to enter the museum, the Corrèze departément council has to pay out another €30 to keep it afloat.
Over the next three weeks, a court in Paris is due to hear evidence that the whole of Mr Chirac's career was subsidised – illegally – by the taxpayers, not of Corrèze (his provincial fiefdom) but of Paris (his political power base). There is a possibility that the trial will be postponed. A last-minute constitutional objection may have to be referred to higher authority.
Only two previous former French heads of state have been placed on trial, Louis XVI in 1792 and Field Marshall Phillippe Pétain in 1945.
Beside the charges faced by his predecessors – "treachery against the people" and "treason" – the accusations against Mr Chirac may appear trivial. He is accused of embezzling, while mayor of Paris between 1977 and 1995, about €2m in Parisian taxpayers' money to fund his political party and to give sweeteners to his friends and public figures, including Charles de Gaulle's grandson.
This will be a trial with no prosecution and, in a sense, no victim. The public prosecution service concluded last year that Mr Chirac had no case to answer. The main victim, the city of Paris, has withdrawn its complaint after being reimbursed by Mr Chirac's friends and Nicolas Sarkozy's centre-right party.
Even if convicted (which is far from certain), Mr Chirac will probably get no more than a fine and a suspended sentence. At 78, he is, his friends and wife point out, an infirm old man who does not always recognise his friends and is given to uncharacteristic bursts of bad temper. They ask why he is being tried at all.
The former president is on trial because two sets of independent examining magistrates, who had painstakingly investigated two separate sets of corruption allegations against him, overruled the state prosecutor. They insisted the public interest demanded a trial because the accusations against Mr Chirac pointed to a prolonged and shameless conspiracy to pillage public funds over nearly two decades. As mayor of Paris, they argued, he created and ran a complex system of "embezzlement" to "increase his influence" and finance his rise to power.
The main case against Mr Chirac at the month-long trial will be made by two anti-corruption pressure groups which have declared themselves to be civil plaintiffs. They will argue that the relatively minor allegations against the former president are serious enough, but just the tip of the iceberg. Mr Chirac's now-defunct, centre-right party, the Rassemblement pour la République (RPR), was, they say, funded for years by a series of interlocking scams. These allegedly included kickbacks on Paris town hall contracts. They also included the placing of party officials on the town hall payroll and the appointment of generously paid special advisers to the mayor of Paris, most of whom had no connection with the French capital.
There is undisputed evidence that 21 people who were paid by the town hall actually worked for the RPR, which has been merged into Mr Sarkozy's Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP). There were probably far more. What is in dispute is whether Mr Chirac – then mayor of Paris and leader of the RPR – knew what was going on.
Amongst the phantom "special advisers" was a man who worked in Mr Chirac's constituency office, 300 miles from the capital and a few miles from Mr Chirac's château, near the village of Sarran, in Corréze. Sarran is now dominated by the Chirac museum. power balance
In one respect, the museum is not emblematic of Mr Chirac's life and career. Since he was succeeded by his estranged former protégé, Mr Sarkozy, in 2007, visits to the Chirac museum have slumped. When The Independent called in last week, there were only four other members of the public on two floors of exhibitions. In the two large car parks there were three cars and a camper van. Attendance reached over 60,000 in the first full year in 2002; it fell to less than 30,000 in 2009.
Despite this month's trial, Mr Chirac has never been so popular. Recent polls have made him the most-liked political figure in France, with over 70 per cent approval ratings – much higher than anything that he achieved while in office.
When Mr Chirac attended the annual agricultural show in Paris last month – a rare public outing for him these days – he was mobbed by admirers for 20 minutes.
Mr Chirac's popularity is partly a mirror image of Mr Sarkozy's unpopularity. Mr Sarkozy came to power promising to be a kind of "anti-Chirac": more purposeful, more hands-on, more consistent, less hostile to American influence. After nearly four years of Mr Sarkozy's vainglorious and frenetic leadership, many French people – including, bizarrely, many on the left – now look back at Mr Chirac as a rascally, wise and reassuring uncle who did not achieve much but at least had the good sense to oppose the Iraq war in 2003.
Among the other visitors to the museum was a local woman, Josette, 53, and her 10-year-old grandson. "We've looked around before and there's not much worth seeing," she said. "But then again, there's nothing else to do here in the school holidays."
Asked about today's trial, she said: "That is all just politics. All politicians in France find ways of taking money to fund what they do... Chirac was no different but he was, at least, more human than some of the others.
"[François] Mitterrand was a cold man. Sarkozy is a cold man. I think people look back now and they think of Chirac as a kindly man."
But there was also, his critics and accusers argue, another Mr Chirac: a cynical, calculating and, when occasion demanded, brutal politician. This was the man who: back-stabbed his way to leadership of the Gaullist movement in the 1970s; betrayed President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing in 1981; was, successively, a virulent Euro-sceptic and then a flag-waving European; and artfully dispatched all centre-right rivals, until Mr Sarkozy came along. Over the next four weeks, with no help from the state prosecutor, the trial judge, Dominique Pauthe, must decide whether Mr Chirac was also a spider at the centre of a complex web of embezzlement of public funds.
The first day of the trial today will be given over to procedural arguments. Convoluted objections on constitutional principle have been put forward by the lawyer for a minor defendant, almost certainly with the connivance of the Chirac clan.
The ex-president will not attend. If the trial goes ahead, Mr Chirac will be present from tomorrow until 3 April, in the same courtroom in the Palais de Justice in Paris, which also witnessed the trial of Queen Marie Antoinette in 1793.
Mr Chirac does not risk the guillotine. All the same, his wife has told friends that she is worried.
Bernadette Chirac, who is still a local councillor in Correze, was a main mover in the creation of the Chirac museum in Sarran as a monument to his elusive legacy. She is said to be fearful that – whether her husband is convicted or not – his legacy will be forever tainted by the odour of corruption.
Leaders on Trial
The president for 12 years from 1995 is accused of embezzling taxpayers' money while mayor of Paris to fund his political party.
Tried and sent to the guillotine in 1793 following the French Revolution. Among the charges made against Louis XVI, were attacking the "sovereignty of the people" and "working to overthrow" the constitution.
Field Marshal Philippe Pétain guess handbags
Convicted of treason and sentenced to death in 1945, later commuted to solitary confinement for life. A war hero in the First World War, Pétain, was appointed vice-premier during Hitler's invasion of France. He later sued for peace, and became "Chief of State" for the collaborationist Vichy regime in the south. Following his post-war conviction for treason, he died in prison.
A Secret Service official confirmed Sunday that on
History is full of examples in which enemies have compromised intelligence agents with sex, Lieberman said, but there was no evidence that privileged information had been cheaphervelegerusa
leaked in this case.The scandal includes 12 Secret Service employees and 11 members of the military who came to Colombia to help secure government buildings and other facilities before President Obama arrived for the Summit of the Americas.All but one of them reportedly stayed at the beachfront Hotel Caribe. Most of them apparently became involved in heavy drinking and carousing on the night of April 11, bringing as many as 21 women believed to be prostitutes into their hotel rooms. Early in the morning of April 12, Cartagena police responded to a disturbance, reportedly after one prostitute complained she had not been paid.Six of the Secret Service members have lost their jobs. One has been cleared and five remain on administrative leave. The military is also investigating.A Secret Service official confirmed Sunday that one of the agency's 12 employees was at a different hotel, the Hilton, where Obama eventually stayed. The official spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.The 12th agent is being investigated for improprieties in a separate incident that may have happened on April 9, days before the president arrived and while the hotel was still open to the public, the Associated Press said."Now we don't know at this point what that 12th agent is being charged with and why he's been put on administrative leave," Lieberman told CBS' "Face the Nation." "But now you're into the hotel where the president of the United States was going to stay. And it just gets more troubling."The top Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, told ABC's "This Week" that it was unlikely the scandal was an isolated event."To me it defies belief that this was just an aberration," she said. "There cheapherveleger
were too many people involved. ... It included two supervisors. That is particularly shocking and appalling."Collins and Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) said more female Secret Service agents might help prevent such incidents in the future.
Thailand Mounts Rescue Effort After Powerful Storm
Torrential rains, floods, mudslides and rough seas swamped seaside villages in the past week and trapped local and foreign tourists on islands in the region, a prime resort area. One official said that about a million people had been affected. nike cheap mens acg sandals black
Until the rains began to ease Thursday, storms and rising waters had forced the closing of three airports and cut off road and rail links in the region. Islands in the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea were inaccessible as ferries were canceled.
Flights were resuming at airports on Thursday, and the weather bureau forecast that the rain would stop this weekend. Flights to the island of Koh Samui were reported to be operating normally and clearing up a backlog of stranded passengers.
The government reported that the aircraft carrier had rescued about 800 people on Thursday, more than half of them foreigners, from the islands of Koh Tao and Koh Phangan.
“There are roughly one million people affected in many provinces,” Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said Wednesday. “At first we thought the flood would last a day or two, but now it has already been one week.”
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva visited the region on Wednesday morning and said that the bad weather could not have been predicted.
“If you ask people who are familiar, they would tell you they never expected this could happen,” he said. “We cannot use the past experience as a guideline because many things have changed. Therefore, I’d like everyone to think of safety first in the risky areas, and we will facilitate the evacuation in the necessary areas.” off, Find brand shoes to trade
Although the weather is unseasonable, floods and droughts are not uncommon in Thailand. Heavy flooding across the country late last year left more than 220 people dead and damaged the homes or livelihoods of an estimated 8.6 million people in 51 of the country’s 76 provinces.
The toll of death and damage from the storms appeared likely to rise as rescuers reached the hardest-hit areas and dug through the debris. The Thai Navy said more ships were heading to isolated islands in the Gulf of Thailand.
The Nation newspaper reported Thursday that a landslide had swallowed up an entire village of about 100 households on Wednesday in the Khao Phanom district of Krabi Province, leaving 10 people dead and many missing.
It quoted radio bulletins as estimating that 100 villagers had disappeared. Rescue efforts were blocked by currents and debris; electricity, running water and telephone services were cut off.
One Canadian traveler who escaped Koh Phangan before it was cut off March 24 described a terrifying journey by boat through rain and heavy waves to Koh Samui during which passengers were crying and one crew member began to pray.
“He put his arms in the prayer position and closed his eyes, and he had his hands pressed together up against his forehead,” said the traveler, Marion Young, a massage therapist from Victoria, British Columbia. “That’s when I knew it was probably pretty bad.” cheap nike mens sandals
She arrived, soaked but safe, after an hour’s crossing. But many others on the island remained stranded for several days.
Ivory Coast Rebels Advance South
Troops loyal to Alassane Ouattara nike running shoes online, the internationally recognized winner of November’s presidential election in Ivory Coast, moved closer to Abidjan and a key cocoa-exporting port, adding to pressure on embattled incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo.
The Republican Forces seized at least five towns this week and moved to within 240 kilometers (149 miles) of Abidjan, the commercial capital, after taking the eastern town of Abengourou yesterday, said Meite Sindou, spokesman for Ouattara’s prime minister and defense minister, Guillaume Soro.
“It seems the security forces of Laurent Gbagbo refused to fight when the rebels entered the town,” said Modeste Kouao, a resident of Abengourou.
Until now, the loyalty of the army and police has proved key to Gbagbo’s ability to retain control of much of the world’s top cocoa producer. He refuses to hand power to Ouattara, alleging electoral fraud in the election on Nov. 28.
“Militarily, Gbagbo is weak,” said Rinaldo Depagne, a Dakar-based analyst for International Crisis Group. “If he wants to stay, he’s got to put all the forces he has in Abidjan and he’s got to try to stop the progression of rebels inside Abidjan. Inside the army you’ve got mass desertions and mass divisions.”
Taking Cocoa Towns
The Republican Forces have stepped up their military campaign in the past month, mainly in the western cocoa- producing region, taking the towns of Duekoue, Guiglo and Daloa in the past few days, Sindou said. Duekoue sits on a major north-south transit corridor linking the west with the port of San Pedro. Buy nike cheap mens acg sandals black,
“Except in Duekoue, there was no real resistance,” Sindou said. The fighters also seized the central-west town of Zuenoula, he said late yesterday.
“We are staying hidden at home for now, but we can hear the rebels shouting for joy,” said resident Alexandre Dje Bi.
The insurgents’ advance boosted Ivory Coasts defaulted dollar-denominated bonds to their highest in at least two months yesterday, rallying 4.2 percent to 39.875 cents on the dollar at 7:51 p.m. in London. The yield fell 31 basis points to 8.6 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Cocoa for May delivery fell to the lowest in more than two months, declining $191, or 5.9 percent, to $3,057 per metric ton at 2:57 p.m. in New York.
“Gbagbo is isolated financially, politically, and now he’s losing ground militarily,” said Drew Geraghty, a commodity broker at ICAP Futures LLC in Jersey City New Jersey. “Traders are taking this as a sign that the risk premium is coming out of the market.”
The Republican Forces trace their roots to an uprising of mutinous military officers in 2002, which led to the division of the country into a rebel-held north and government-controlled south. The election was meant to unify the country, which was once the second-biggest economy in West Africa.
“All parties to the conflict have committed serious human rights violations including unlawful killings and rape and sexual violence against women,” U.K.-based Amnesty International said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. Find brand shoes
Rebels fired on and missed a United Nations helicopter that was flying over Duekoue on March 28, the UN mission in the country said in a statement.
Lass Com, a spokesman for the fighters, said troops thought the helicopter belonged to Gbagbo.
“There was a lot of confusion,” he said.
Cuba Negotiates Parts and Accessories for Nickel I
The company Maquimport will supply parts, equipment and accessories to the Cuban nickel industry. The information was disclosed at the 12th Trade Fair Holguin-2011, held from Monday to Friday in the eastern city of Holguin. Buy nike running shoes
Maquimport's representative in eastern Cuba, Julio de la Rosa, said it is one of the largest orders negotiated at the fair. Reebok ZigTech
He added that orders were made to equip the new Ferronickel plant under construction in Moa, in conjunction with Venezuela and the Gustavo Machin Mechanical Plant, which belongs to the entrepreneurial group CubaNiquel.
The fair was attended by 82 exhibitors, mainly from Cuba. The foreign firms with offices in Cuba that participated in the fair come from Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, France, Great Britain, Panama, Russia, Sweden and Venezuela. Find brand shoes
No military action in Syria for now
As many as 20 people have reportedly been killed amid growing protests in Syria, and anti-government voices have accused government officials of opening fire on protesters. Buy nike running shoes online
"Each of these situations is unique," Clinton said in an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation" that aired on Sunday. "Certainly we deplore the violence in Syria, we call - as we have on all of these governments during this period of the Arab awakening, as some have called it - to be responding to their people's needs, not to engage in violence, permit peaceful protests and begin a process of economic and political reform."
Arguing that Qaddafi's longstanding history of brutality distinguished itself from the regime of Syrian President Bashir Assad, Clinton said Syrian circumstances had not aligned in a fashion to suggest that the U.S. would undertake military operations there.
"The situation in Libya which engendered so much concern from around the international community, had a leader who used military force against the protesters from one end of his country to the other, who publicly said things like 'We'll show no mercy,' 'We'll go house to house,' and the international community moved with great speed in part because there's a history here," she told CBS' Bob Schieffer. "This is someone who's behaved in a way that's caused great concern in the past 40-plus years in the Arab world, the African world, Europe and the United States."
When asked about recent brutalities committed by the Syrian regime against civilians, Clinton suggested that "there's a difference between calling out aircraft and indiscriminately strafing and bombing your own cities, than police actions which frankly have exceeded the use of force that any of us would want to see."
Clinton said it was yet unclear "what will occur" in Syria, but said the U.S. would need to line up significant international support for military intervention if such a route were to be considered - and that at the moment that appeared unlikely.
"If there were a coalition of the international community, if there was the passage of a Security Council resolution, if there were a call by the Arab League, if there was a condemnation that was universal, but that is not going to happen because I don't think it is yet clear what will occur, what will unfold," she said. 2011 nike running shoes online
Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who also appeared on "Face the Nation," condemned the violence in Syria but stopped short of calling for Assad's resignation.
"There is a different leader in Syria now, many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he's a reformer," Clinton said.
Gates, when asked directly if he thought Assad should step down, reiterated the White House dictum that "these kinds of things are up to the Syrians." buy Reebok EasyTone online
"What I said... when I was in the Middle East, is that the lesson that should be taken from Egypt was where a military stood aside and allowed peaceful protests and allowed political events to take their course, that's basically the lesson that I was talking about with respect to Assad, in terms of whether he should stand down or not," Gates told Schieffer, when asked if Assad should step down. "You know, these kinds of things are up to the Syrians, up to the Libyans themselves."
"We have to look at each situation as we find it," Clinton said, of assisting countries in turmoil. "Each of these we are looking at and analyzing carefully, but we can't draw some general sweeping conclusions about the entire region."
Liz Taylor Portrait
Hedge-fund manager Steve Cohen is betting big on the late Elizabeth Taylor, who died Wednesday. Mr. Cohen has enlisted Phillips de Pury to auction off a turquoise Andy Warhol portrait of the screen star for at least $20 million at its major sale of contemporary art on May 12 in New York.nike running shoes
The 1963 silkscreen, "Liz #5," depicts the actress during her "BUtterfield 8" heyday, her red lips forming a serene smile and her eyelids swathed in blue eyeshadow. The work comes from Warhol's signature 1960s series of pop-culture icons like Marilyn Monroe and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy.
Mr. Cohen bought the work for an undisclosed sum from the estate of major New York dealer Illeana Sonnabend, who died in 2007. Ms. Sonnabend was known for championing post-World War II artists like Jasper Johns and Robert Raushenberg. A spokesman for Mr. Cohen declined to comment, but sources familiar with the deal say he agreed to put "Liz #5" up for auction roughly two weeks ago. He also owns a turquoise Warhol portrait of Marilyn Monroe.
Near the market's peak four years ago, Christie's sold actor Hugh Grant's 1963 Warhol portrait of Ms. Taylor, "Liz," for $23.5 million.
The auction house has tried to leave as little as possible to chance. It has arranged for outside investors to guarantee Mr. Cohen an undisclosed price for the painting unless another bidder offers even more during the auction—an arrangement called a third-party guarantee. Reebok ZigTech
The current auction record for Warhol was set four years ago when Christie's got $71.7 million for the artist's 1963 "Green Car Crash."
The wind direction and heavy rainfall in Japan's Fukushima prefecture will help dilute radioactive concentration in the air, thus lowering the risk of radioactive fallout drifting towards densely-populated areas like China, nuclear experts said.
Buy nike running shoes onlineAmong the hydra-headed disasters unfolding in Japan since March 11, the radiation crisis surrounding the quake-crippled Fukushima power plant in northeastern Japan has aroused people's deepest fears.
However, concerns over radiation exposure are unnecessary, said Robert Werzi, a specialist with the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).
"Radiation is everywhere, in everybody's life ... Statistics show that every person on the globe has an annual dose of about 2400 microsieverts per year," Werzi told Xinhua during an interview in Vienna.
"There are different sources of natural radioactivity: it is coming from cosmogenic radiation, it is coming from outer space, it is also coming from the earth itself," he said.
Werzi outlined several factors affecting the transmission of the radioactive particles, which include precipitation, wind direction and speed.
"Precipitation is one factor that has an effect on the propagation of particles and gasses in the atmosphere. Like any particles, radioactive particles will be washed out if it rains or there is snowfall. As with any particles in the atmosphere, radioactive particles will always travel with the wind," the CTBTO specialist said.
When asked about the transport range of radioactive particles spewing from the stricken nuclear complex, Mika Nikkinen, head of the Scientific Methods Unit, International Data Center Division of the CTBTO, cited the region's weather conditions to explain the situation.fashion 2011 nike running shoes online
He said that after the accident, the prevailing winds in this disaster-stricken region were blowing east, which means that the air was moving towards the Pacific Ocean.
"In addition, radioactive materials exist in the air in the form of particles or gasses, as they travel a long time, there will be also very strong dispersion, which means that the concentration in the air is lowered," he said.
Referring to the heavy snow and rainfall seen in Fukushima prefecture over the past days, Nikkinen said they could wash out radioactive materials in the air very quickly.
As to the impact of radioactive materials on China, Nikkinen believed it would be quite minor.
"The nearest distance between China and Japan is about 1600 kilometers. And the current prevailing winds are out of the direction. This means that everything in the air will be diluted hugely," Nikkinen said.. buy Reebok EasyTone
"If we have a distance of more than 1000 kilometers, we expect that the intensity of radioactive materials in the air will be diluted to billion or millions of billions times less," he said.
With headquarters in Vienna, Austria, the CTBTO is dedicated to pushing for entry-into-force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and monitoring earthquakes, tsunamis and radioactive leakage from nuclear accidents.