|•||Le Monde reported yesterday that a 17 year-old Jew was allegedly assaulted in Sarcelles (Val-d'Oise) on Sunday. At the advice of the mayor's office, the boy's mother filed a complaint at police headquarters for "gang theft with violence and anti-Semitic insults." The events in question reportedly occurred on April 23rd at 7:30 in the evening when a gang of ten allegedly stole the boy's mobile phone/digital camera.
On the bus ride home, Maghreban youths insulted ("Dirty Jew, we're gonna kill you") the boy, Alexandre, and held a knife to his stomach, forcing him to exit the bus with them at the next stop. The young boy then called out for help but no one on the 168 bus intervened. Alexandre ran to his aunt's house to take refuge but the group caught up with him outside the building and while some beat him, others rifled through his pockets. He was wounded in the legs, the chest, the neck and the face and has a hematoma on the lips.
The mayor, François Pupponi (Socialist), said, "In the last two or three months, we've been noticing tension and an increase in assaults of this kind. We urge [the victims] to press charges." (See here for an account of another anti-Semitic event on the same bus line.)
|•||French police raided the workers' council headquarters at France's state electricity company Electricité de France (EDF) today, according to the AFP. Source's say the search was part of an investigation that began in February into alleged embezzlement ("abuse of confidence, fraud, forgery") at the council.
EDF controls nearly all of France's electrical supply and its workers council, with 5,000 of EDF's employees, is the wealthiest in the nation, with a budget of €400 million.
|•||The French economy grew at a paltry 0.5% in 2003, reports the AP. This surpassed previous forecasts of 0.2%. GDP also expanded by 0.7% in the fourth quarter and the increase in third-quarter GDP figures was revised upwards from 0.4% to 0.7%.
These are the weakest growth figures since 1993 and they are far below even those of 2002 (1.2% growth)
|•||The AFP is also reporting that a parliamentary office has found that the French populace could reach US levels of obesity by 2020. The report was prepared by senator Claude Saunier for the Parliamentary office of evaluation of scientific and technological options (OPECST). According to Saunier, only 6% of the French populace was obese in 1990. In 2003, the figure was 11.3%. Over the least six years, the number of obese people increased annually by 17%.
"We are therefore confronted with a social scourge which we know with certainty will be the cause of a health catastrophe and the financial implosion of national health insurance," said Saunier. "But the progress of this scourge is not inexorable."
Saunier says that, at this rate, the French will be as obese as the Americans by 2020 and that this will require expenditures of €14 billion for health insurance alone.