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France military eyes 2014 cuts, far-right seeks to benefit

It was one of his campaign promises. I will fight racial profiling by police through a new procedure that will ensure the rights of citizens are protected, Frances Socialist president, Francois Hollande, vowed before he was elected in May. But a year and a half later, little has changed in France, where police routinely stop black and Arab residents on the street to ask for their identity papers. On October 2, a case brought by 13 minorities alleging they were victims of racial profiling was dismissed. Now, a proposal to keep written records of when and why police stop individuals in the street has resurfaced, after being rejected by Interior Minister Manuel Valls in September 2012. “Urgent” issue The records would allow authorities to keep closer tabs on officers who frequently ask people to show their papers in the street. At the same time, it would permit people who are asked to show their papers to build a case if they ever suspect that they are being targeted because of their ethnic background. France’s troubled suburbs The forgotten souls of the Chene Pointu estate In the wake of the courts ruling, Razzy Hammadi, a Socialist lawmaker from Seine-Saint-Denis, one of Pariss most underprivileged suburbs, released a statement saying that it was urgent for France to keep written records in order to combat racial profiling. On the ground, were hearing the exasperation of those who are victims of racial profiling, and we can see the consequent deterioration of the relationship between police and citizens, Hammadis statement read. Hammadi called for the government to start fulfilling [Hollandes campaign promise] by testing out the procedure in several French cities. The system would require two documents for each identity check carried out by the police: one for the officer and one for the individual stopped on the street. In accordance with French law, no information regarding the individuals race or religion would be recorded on the documents. Rather, the written records would provide a data base of how many people are being subject to the identity checks and what reasons police are providing for performing them. A success in Spain and UK Though the keeping of written records has provoked debate in France, Hammadi pointed out that it has already proven satisfactory in other countries, not just for citizens, but also for the police. Implemented in the UK in 1984, the system is also used in certain US states, Canada and in the Spanish city of Fuenlabrada (near Madrid).

France call up Varane and Remy for World Cup qualifier

Credit: Reuters/Christian Hartmann By John Irish and Emmanuel Jarry PARIS | Thu Oct 3, 2013 8:21am EDT PARIS (Reuters) – France’s military will cut about 7,500 jobs next year, a defense ministry source said on Thursday, detailing government belt-tightening plans that the far-right hopes will deliver it votes at municipal elections in 2014. The cuts come as tensions rise within Socialist President Francois Hollande’s 17-month-old coalition, whose poll ratings have fallen to 23 percent due to dissatisfaction about the economy and jobs. The defense ministry said in April that 34,000 jobs would likely be cut over the coming six years, but its overall budget would remain largely static, steering clear of drastic spending cuts after military officials and lawmakers said that would reduce France’s ability to counter global security threats. “Given the six year objectives, (the cut) should be around 7,000 to 7,500 military and civilian personnel in 2014,” the source said on condition of anonymity, ahead of a news conference by Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. A handful of bases will be closed or restructured, including an 800-man regiment in the town of Orange in the Vaucluse department, where support for the anti-immigrant, anti-European Union National Front is strong, the source said. Marion Marechal-Le Pen, a National Front member of parliament for Vaucluse, said the cuts would hurt France’s defenses and local economies in areas like hers. “I can only worry about the immediate economic impact in a region that has already been heavily hit by unemployment and economic difficulties,” she said, reacting to media reports about the cuts. “The governments of the right and the left have preferred to sell off our military know-how and lose our diplomatic independence by making small short-term savings. That will cost France’s sovereignty dearly in the coming years,” she said. France’s military employs some 228,000 personnel today. A further 165,000 individuals are employed by the defence industry, not including sub-contractors. The government plans 15 billion euros ($20 billion) in savings next year and 3 billion extra revenues from higher taxes and fighting tax evasion to reduce the budget deficit. (Editing by Tom Heneghan and Robin Pomeroy)

Coach Didier Deschamps also included Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho and Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye in the 23-man list. The 20-year-old Varane returned to action with Real Madrid in Wednesday’s Champions League 4-0 victory at Copenhagen after months out with a knee injury. His first two international appearances in March, when he started the World Cup qualifiers at home against Georgia and Spain, proved enough to convince Deschamps to recall him. “It’s true that he has not played a lot yet but regarding what he did with us, it was logical to me to call him up,” Deschamps told a news conference. Sakho, who left French champions Paris St Germain because he was the fourth choice there, is also returning after earning four consecutive starts with English Premier League side Liverpool. Remy, who has scored three goals in his last two league games with Newcastle, is also coming back as Deschamps continues to look for the best attacking options. Karim Benzema, who has not scored with Les Bleus since June last year, was benched in Belarus last month but replacement Olivier Giroud did not prove much more effective despite the 4-2 victory. “Loic Remy has the scoring touch and is able to fill in several attacking positions. He also has the pace that gives us different possibilities,” Deschamps said. France host Australia in a friendly on October 11 and take on Finland for their final 2014 World Cup qualifier four days later. They are second in their Group I, tied on 14 points with leaders Spain, and will secure a spot in next month’s playoff if they do not lose to Finland.