Although it is an age-old tradition among world leaders to exchange presents during official visits, the prodigious spending Nicolas Sarkozy lavished upon US President Barack Obama and the First Lady is being lambasted as a tasteless display of extravagance at the worst possible time.The list of presents the Obamas received from Sarkozy in 2011, detailed in a newly released report by the US State Department, included a designer Hermes golf bag ($7,750) and Baccarat crystal table lamps ($5,500). The total amount of gifts given to the Obamas by the former French president and Miss Bruni was listed at $41,675.71 in 2011 alone.The ostentatious display of gift-giving by Sarkozy may have been ignored had the world not been suffering a brutal hangover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. The ominous clouds hanging over the US and global economy were summarized by the International Business Times when it reported on Sept. 23, 2011 that”The US economy is barely growing at all. Companies aren’t hiring. The federal budget deficit is above $14.5 trillion.” The Sarkozys opened the public purse for the Obama family with luxury items totaling $41k in 2011, among them: – Lacoste white classic men’s polo shirt, bottle of Christian Drouin Pays d’Auge, S.T. Dupont black and silver fountain pen, 14 inch blue-gray glass sculpture of Bucephalus, Alexander the Great’s horse: Valued at $15,083 (May 2011) – Hermès golf accessory bag: $7,750 (January 2011) – Silver watch with black wristband made by B.R.M., Lancel brown leather woman’s wallet, Lancel black leather folding toiletry bag, his-and-hers Dior bathrobes, Lancel black leather suitcase, Christian Dior black leather clutch purse, Men’s Dior hygiene products: $6,191 (November 2011) – Baccarat ‘Our Fire’ crystal table lamps: $5,500 (January 2011) – Black leather Neo Igor Louis Vuitton men’s business bag, monogrammed ‘B.O.’ $2,310 (December 2011) Source: https://www.federalregister.gov/ Each gift was graciously accepted, because to do otherwise could cause embarrassment and strain relations between Paris and Washington, a US government spokesperson said. All gifts presented to the president or the First Family are required to be handed over to the National Archives.Although Sarkozy’s big-spending ways may shock Americans and much of the world, it will probably come as no surprise to the French.Last year, French Socialist MP Rene Dosiere exposed the lavish lifestyle enjoyed by Sarkozy and Bruni in a book titled ‘L’argent de l’État’ (Money from the State). Living inside of Elysee Palace on a budget that reportedly exceeded that of the Queen of England, Dosiere revealed that Sarkozy spent over $15,000 on food and $1,000 on flowers daily, while maintaining a fleet of over 100 automobiles in the palace garage.Bad TimingThe revelations of excessive spending on flashy gifts come at a particularly bad time for Sarkozy, who may face serious charges connected with his campaign funding. This month, France opened a judicial investigation into allegations that Sarkozy’s 2007 election bid received illicit funds from late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, the public prosecutor’s office announced on April 19.Sarkozy, who was a leading supporter of a NATO-led military campaign that resulted in Gaddafi’s overthrow and brutal death at the hands of rebel militants in 2011, has denied any wrongdoing.The investigation into Sarkozy’s fundraising activities adds to the legal issues haunting the former president after losing last year’s presidential election – a defeat that also cost him the immunity he enjoyed during five years as French leader.Sarkozy has also been accused of accepting millions of dollars worth of illegal funds from Liliane Bettencourt, the L’Oreal heiress and France’s richest woman.But despite the setbacks, there are still some French voters who hope spendthrift Sarkozy will make a return presidential bid in 2017.Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande’s popularity rating fell six points in a single month to 25 percent, worse than his predecessor Sarkozy’s at his lowest moment in public favor, according to a survey by the Ifop institute published in the newspaper Le Journal Du Dimanche.The survey revealed that discontent was growing inside Hollande’s own constituency, with only 64 percent of Socialist Party supporters backing him, down from 77 percent in March.Hollande’s government, which took power in May 2012, has so far been unable to tame the record-high unemployment gripping the nation. …
“There was an attack on the embassy. We think it was a booby trapped car,” an official told Reuters, adding that the blast caused a lot of damage.One of the guards was only lightly wounded, while the other sustained more serious injuries.Black smoke billowed from the wreckage of the vehicle that exploded close to the Embassy’s entrance as fire crews arrived to put out the flames. Part of the Embassy complex’s outer wall was partly destroyed in the explosion as well as two nearby cars.The US diplomatic mission in Benghazi was struck by an attack last September that killed the American ambassador and three other staffers.Libya remains troubled by regular outbreaks of violence, with the country’s new rulers trying to curb the power of armed militia groups that have remained active following the ouster of former President Muammar Gaddafi.France was the first country to deploy armed forces in Libya in March 2011 after then-President Nicolas Sarkozy stated that “Gaddafi must go.” …
Libyan officials banned author Bernard-Henri Levy from traveling
to that country with former French president Nicolas Sarkozy
because Levy is ;Jewish.
They reportedly said they feared Levy would become a target for
Islamic extremists. …
Libyan officials banned author Bernard-Henri Levy
from traveling to that country with former French president Nicolas
Sarkozy because Levy is
Jewish. They reportedly said they feared Levy would become a
target for Islamic extremists. …
Police suspect former french president Nicolas Sarkozy of accepting millions from mentally ill heiress
Just as rumours about a potential bid by Sarkozy to recapture the presidency in 2017 were swirling, the former French president finds himself suspected of accepting millions in cash from a wealthy heiress suffering from poor mental health. By FRANCE 24 Having announced his retirement from public…
A.M. Links: Federal Cybersurveillance Expands to Private-Sector Employees, Pentagon Delaying Furloughs, NRA Challenging New York Gun Control Law in…
An executive order by President Obama
expands the federal government’s cybersurveillance program
aimed at defense contractors to include private sector employees at
big banks, utilities and some transportation companies.
The Defense Department is
delaying furloughs for some employees for at least two weeks
after Congress agreed to send more money.
The NRA is
challenging the constitutionality of New York’s recent gun
control law in federal court.
The Department of Justice
says up to two-thirds of hate crimes go unreported.
A federal lawsuit seeks to
prevent Arizona from denying driver’s licenses to illegal
nyet to Cyprus’ request for a bailout.
Nicolas Sarkozy will be
formally investigated for his campaign fundraising
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Sarkozy was placed under formal investigation on Thursday, hislawyer told AFP, adding that he would immediately appeal the“unfair and incoherent” decision.This comes after the former president was unexpectedly summonedfor a face-to-face encounter with Bettencourt staff members overclaims he accepted funds from the heiress to illegally finance his2007 election campaign. Sarkozy has repeatedly denied theallegations.A statement given by the prosecutor in the city of Bordeauxafter the hearing explained that “Nicolas Sarkozy, who benefitsfrom the presumption of innocence, had been notified that he hasbeen placed under formal investigation for taking advantage of avulnerable person in February 2007 and during 2007 to the detrimentof Liliane Bettencourt.”The claims do not come as a complete surprise, as the formerpresident was already questioned by judges in November, but theychose not to pursue a full investigation. The suspicions date backto three years ago when a woman working for Bettencourt as anaccountant allegedly spotted plans for a large cash withdrawal tobe made with the intention of supporting Sarkozy’s presidentialcampaign.Liliane Bettencourt, 90, is France’s richest and the world’sthird-richest woman. Her mental frailty supposedly played a part inhow the investigation is being framed.Sarkozy’s lawyer Thierry Herzog said his client, “considersthe treatment inflicted upon him as scandalous” and that theywill be appealing.Sarkozy maintains that he visited her home only once during theelection campaign to meet Bettencourt’s late husband. HoweverCalire Thaibout, Bettencourt’s former accountant, told police in2010 that she had passed envelopes stuffed with cash to Patrice deMaistre, which were then to be given to Sarkozy’s campaigntreasurer Eric Woerth.Investigators believe that up to four million euro (US$5.2million) of Bettencourt’s cash reached the coffers of Sarkozy’s UMPparty.Although Sarkozy has left major politics, he remains a potentialconservative candidate for the next presidential race in 2017.His supporters say that the allegations are aimed at besmirchinghis image and preventing his political comeback. …