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17 Sep

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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Is France’s Nicolas Sarkozy trying to ‘Trump’ the far right?

Text by Romain BRUNET , Benjamin DODMAN

© Thibaud Moritz, AFP | Nicolas Sarkozy is running for another term as French president, five years after failing in his re-election bid.

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was likened to Donald Trump this week after the latest in a string of provocative statements that have pushed his presidential campaign ever further to the right.

The comparison with the Republican candidate for the White House, a notorious climate change sceptic, followed a speech on Wednesday in which Sarkozy appeared to question the extent of human involvement in global warming.

In remarks delivered at a business conference and relayed by his office, Sarkozy, who is having another shot at the French presidency after his failed re-election bid in 2012, claimed climate change was receiving too much attention.

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was likened to Donald Trump this week after the latest in a string of provocative statements that have pushed his presidential campaign ever further to the right.

The comparison with the Republican candidate for the White House, a notorious climate change sceptic, followed a speech on Wednesday in which Sarkozy appeared to question the extent of human involvement in global warming.

In remarks delivered at a business conference and relayed by his office, Sarkozy, who is having another shot at the French presidency after his failed re-election bid in 2012, claimed climate change was receiving too much attention.

“It’s an interesting topic, but climate has been changing for 4.5 billion years,” said the 61-year-old. “Humans are not the only ones responsible.”

In a blunter version of his speech, carried by weekly magazine Marianne and cited by other journalists, the conservative politician was quoted as saying: “If the Sahara became a desert, it’s not the fault of industry. It is typical of humanity’s arrogance to claim that climate change is our doing.”

Either way, Sarkozy’s words were interpreted as an about-face and further evidence of a rightward shift by the former president, whose first move upon clinching the French presidency in 2007 was to launch a cross-party debate on ways to advance sustainable development and a green agenda.

Reacting to his remarks, Emmanuelle Cosse, France’s housing minister and a former Green Party leader, said Sarkozy was “dragging us back 15 years” with his “obscurantist” rhetoric. She added: “He’s sounding like Donald Trump.”

Pandering to the far right

It is not the first time France’s mercurial former “hyper-president” has been likened to the US tycoon. Last month, a column in Germany’s Tageszeitung daily said Sarkozy’s provocative statements on security, Islam and immigration had turned him into a “Trump à la française”.

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tg

Exclusive: Pressure on UK and US roles in war set to increase as survey shows school buildings and hospitals among targets

A boy walks through ruins in Sana'a

A boy walks through ruins of a school and bowling club hit by a Saudi-led coalition airstrike in Sana’a. Photograph: Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty Images

More than one-third of all Saudi-led air raids on Yemen have hit civilian sites, such as school buildings, hospitals, markets, mosques and economic infrastructure, according to the most comprehensive survey of the conflict.

The findings, revealed by the Guardian on Friday, contrast with claims by the Saudi government, backed by its US and British allies, that Riyadh is seeking to minimise civilian casualties.

The survey, conducted by the Yemen Data Project, a group of academics, human rights organisers and activists, will add to mounting pressure in the UK and the US on the Saudi-led coalition, which is facing accusations of breaching international humanitarian law.

It will refocus attention on UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia, worth more than £3.3bn since the air campaign began, and the role of British military personnel attached to the Saudi command and control centre, from which air operations are being mounted. Two British parliamentary committees have called for the suspension of such sales until a credible and independent inquiry has been conducted.

Saudi Arabia disputed the Yemen Data Project figures, describing them as “vastly exaggerated”, and challenged the accuracy of the methodology, saying somewhere such as a school building might have been a school a year ago, but was now being used by rebel fighters.

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Related;

 

 

Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch volunteer, fatally shot unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012

George Zimmerman

Matthew Apperson has been convicted of the attempted second-degree murder of George Zimmerman (pictured) in Florida. Photograph: POOL/Reuters

A Florida man who fired a gun at George Zimmerman’s vehicle during a road-rage confrontation was convicted on Friday of attempted second-degree murder.

Jurors also found Matthew Apperson, 37, guilty of shooting into a vehicle and aggravated assault with a firearm, local news organizations reported. He faces sentencing on 17 October.

Apperson testified that he acted in self-defense last year. He said he fired at Zimmerman during the confrontation because Zimmerman flashed a gun.

Zimmerman testified earlier this week that he was driving to a doctor’s appointment on 11 May, 2015, when he noticed he was being pursued by a vehicle whose driver later pulled up, exchanged words and fired one gunshot at him that missed.

“I heard a bang and my ears started ringing,” Zimmerman, 32, told the jury. The trial opened on Tuesday in the Seminole County courthouse.

Last year’s confrontation was not the first encounter between Apperson and Zimmerman, the former neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012. Apperson alleged in September 2014 that Zimmerman threatened him in a road-rage encounter but did not press charges at the time.

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The governors of Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina have declared states of emergency following a gasoline spill in an ecologically sensitive area

Fuel shortages will likely affect states across the eastern US, and drivers could create shortages by making runs on gas stations.

Fuel shortages will likely affect states across the eastern US, and drivers could create shortages by making runs on gas stations. Photograph: Stephan Savoia/AP

An interstate gasoline pipeline has ruptured in central Alabama, spilling 338,000 gallons of fuel in an ecologically sensitive area and threatening fuel shortages across the eastern US. So far governors in Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina have declared states of emergency.

The line runs from Houston to the New York harbor, and experts say the line’s owner, Colonial Pipeline, was extraordinarily lucky: the spill happened 500ft from the retention pond for a mining company, and all the fuel flowed into it. That spared the Cahaba river system, one of the most biologically diverse spots in the country, prized by scientists for its concentration of endangered species.

“Yeah,” said James Pinkney, a spokesman for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He gave a wry laugh. “You really couldn’t have planned it any better than this. There are no homes nearby, and it’s fully contained. It’s so fortunate.”

The fuel could have flowed all the way to Mobile Bay on the gulf coast, bringing destruction for hundreds of miles. “Along the way it would have impacted all the wildlife living in it and drinking from it,” said Myra Crawford, executive director at Cahaba Riverkeeper, an outfit that monitors the ecological integrity of the watershed. “And plants like the Cahaba lilies – this is one of the only remaining sites where they are found. It could have been so destructive.”

Instead, she said, environmental workers have only found a few animals killed by exposure to the fuel. “A few raccoons,” she said. “It’s absolutely minimal. A miracle.”

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