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The poster that saw Barack Obama rise to fame has been altered to accommodate the beaky face of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and plastered around the streets of Paris. Nobody knows who’s behind the somewhat baffling idea; only that the mystery is attracting a lot of attention.

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The image is a take-off of the poster designed by LA artist Shepard Fairey for Obama’s election campaign. There are various accompanying messages, like “Make polluting companies pay: Yes we can”, and “Save each household €1,000 a month: Yes we can”.

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The poster-plasterers in action: “Who are they?” “What do they want?”

picture-35The Associated Press says that Sarkozy’s centre-right UMP party has denied being behind the campaign. Regrettably, according to a representative from the party’s youth movement, who said: “we would have liked it to have been us, because we like this message”. The Elysee has paid no heed to the campaign… Unlike the French media, which is tying itself in knots over the mystery. Young artists trying to be controversial? Subliminal messaging from industrialists? An anti-Sarko campaign in disguise? Whoever it is, they’re certainly enjoying themselves. Yesterday the group posted photos and videos of themselves prancing around Paris, hidden behind the very posters in question.

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Government leaders from the major European Union members posed on the steps of the Élysée Palace in Paris on Sunday during their economic summit.

Government leaders from the major European Union members posed on the steps of the Élysée Palace in Paris on Sunday during their economic summit.

PARIS — European financial and political leaders agreed late Sunday to a plan that would inject billions of euros into their banks in a bid to restore confidence to the teetering financial system.

Taking their cue from a rescue plan announced last week by Britain, the European countries led by Germany and France pledged to take equity stakes in distressed banks and vowed to guarantee bank lending for periods up to five years.

Both France and Germany were planning to unveil national rescue packages on Monday worth hundreds of billions of euros, officials said.

“The meeting that we had was exceptional,” President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, said at a news conference. “We need concrete measures, we need unity. That’s what we achieved. The plan on which we agreed today will be applied in all our respective states.”

“The goal is to kick-start the interbank lending market,” he said.

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, left, welcomed Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain to the Élysée Palace

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, left, welcomed Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain to the Élysée Palace

The plan “treats all the dimensions of the financial crisis,” Mr. Sarkozy said.

The Belgian finance minister, Didier Reynders, said, “We are committed in all European states to recapitalize banks if we establish a threat to solvency and a risk to the economy.”

“The goal is to kick-start the interbank lending market,” he said.

Mr. Reynders said the European Central Bank had also committed to helping to unfreeze the commercial paper market, which companies use to finance day-to-day operations.

Leaders of the 15 countries that use the euro did not put a price tag on any of their promises — contrary to Britain, where Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced £150 billion, or $255 billion, in government funds and other measures, and the United States, where a $700 billion bailout plan will now partly be used to recapitalize banks.

European officials said actions would be taken at the national level, within the framework of the agreed “toolbox.” The idea, they said, was that governments face different challenges and needed to act quickly but that a common front would avoid the possibility that one country might undercut another.

Each country, Mr. Reynders said, will announce concrete figures for the measures they expect to take individually.

“There is no question of setting up a European fund,” he said.

Announcements last week by Britain and the United States that they would move to take ownership shares in ailing banks, the 15 leaders of the countries that use the euro found themselves looking for a collective response to avoid tit-for-tat actions by individual countries that might harm their neighbors.

European officials said actions would be taken at the national level, within the framework of the agreed “toolbox.”

Mr. Brown said earlier after meeting at the Elysée Palace with Mr. Sarkozy, that he believed Europe would “work together with America.” Mr. Brown, whose country has maintained its own currency, the pound, also warned that the decisions made Sunday would have economic consequences for years to come.

In contrast to the meeting last weekend, European leaders on Sunday seemed to be reading from the same script.

“Our goal is to have coordinated action for the euro zone,” Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said, and the meeting “is a very important signal for the strength of the euro zone.”

Germany is considering a plan to inject 50 billion to 100 billion euros into its banks, with a price tag for all of the new measures reaching as much as 400 billion euros, or $536 billion, according to a person briefed on the government’s work. A German official cautioned that the numbers remained speculative.

Source: NYT

A video of Sarah Palin being blessed by a preacher and exorcist appeared on the Internet.

The video was posted on YouTube on Thursday, but the blessing actually happened in May 2005, two days before Palin officially put herself forward as a candidate for Alaska governor. Pastor Thomas Muthee, originally from Kenya, is from the Pentecostal movement, evangelical protestants who interpret the Bible literally. Pentecostal followers believe, for example, that the laying on of hands can heal sick people when other medications have failed.

Sarah Palin’s campaign team immediately denied that she was a Pentecostal. But in another video, filmed in June 2008 (see below), the possible vice president of America explains how Muthee’s prayers helped her to win the Alaska election.

“Thirty to forty per cent of Americans share these beliefs”

Stuart Haugen is vice-chair of Republicans Abroad France.

I don’t see anything shocking about this video, even if there are some things that I don’t agree with. I’d say that 30% to 40% of Americans share these beliefs and wouldn’t find it strange at all. Me, too. When I was a student, I belonged to a similar church. The pastor’s talking about sorcery, but what he means is that there are both good and bad forces in the world. If you believe in God, you also believe in the opposite.

I’d like to make it clear that in the US, religion and politics are quite separate. The video shows Sarah Palin’s personal convictions, that’s all. And a vice president doesn’t decide on the law.

If the intellectuals and the media want to have a crack at Palin, that’s because she scares them. I think she’s already secured two million more votes for McCain. And among them are several hundreds of thousands of people who will travel the country to get even more voters on their side. That’s what they were missing, while Obama had more money and a broader base of volunteers. In the end, McCain is a centrist, he needed Palin to reassure the conservative and evangelical voters. Now he’ll be able to criticise Bush more openly, because he knows that the right-wing side will still follow.”

“Palin and McCain scare Wall Street”

Dana Blankenhorn is a former finance journalist from Atlanta. He supports the Democrats.

Sarah Palin is a nutjob! There’s a relevant saying here: ‘If people find you too racist in Idaho [a state known for being particularly racist in the olden days], they’ll think you’re great in Alaska…’

McCain chose her because she makes up a very involved minority; not because she represents what Americans think. I doubt more than 10% of Americans believe in sorcery. But in an election, there’s a small block who aren’t interesting in anything but tipping the election. The Republicans know it, and that’s how they’ve won in the past.

The Republican Party is supported by three groups: the Wall Street types, the neo-cons and the evangelists. But now, I think that their coalition is breaking up. Palin and McCain scare Wall Street. Especially since McCain ruined the plan to rescue the economy, while the White House and Obama both accepted it. The power always follows Wall Street. I don’t think this video will change the election, but I do think the economic crisis will push a number of Republicans to vote Democrat.”


Source: France 24

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