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French reporter French reporter
by Euro Reporter
2008-02-09 08:29:52
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President Sarkozy marries singer Bruni

Nine months after winning the presidency on a promise to reform France, Nicolas Sarkozy ushered in major change in his personal life by marrying supermodel-cum-singer Carla Bruni. Dubbed the "hyper-president" for his whirlwind style of governing, Sarkozy had recently earned another label from the French press -- "the bling-bling president" -- for parading his glitzy romance with Bruni in public.

His third marriage comes just three months after his divorce from Cecilia Ciganer-Albaniz, a former model and PR executive who had over their 11 years of marriage served as one of his closest advisers. Cracks in the marriage appeared during the election campaign when Cecilia failed to turn out to vote in the second round while she made no secret of her dislike for the Elysee and its ceremonial trappings. When the divorce was announced on October 18, Sarkozy was gearing up for one of his biggest reform tests: confronting union strikes over his plan to scrap pension privileges for some public sector employees.

"It was not the happiest time in my life," Sarkozy, 53, commented at a news conference earlier this month about this divorce. But the president went on to announce that his relationship with 40-year-old Bruni was serious and all but confirmed that he planned to marry the former Italian model who turned to a career in music five years ago.

Poor France, this is where you ended in the hands of the Napoleon of the 21st century!


French trader refuses to be 'scapegoat'

French trader Jerome Kerviel said on Tuesday he refuses to be a "scapegoat" for multi-billion euro rogue trade losses at Societe Generale bank. "I was designated (as solely responsible) by Societe Generale. I accept my share of responsibility but I will not be made a scapegoat for Societe Generale," he said, in his first interview since the scandal broke last month. Kerviel refused to discuss the details of the affair, saying he was "saving his statement for the judges."

Societe Generale accuses Kerviel of causing it losses of 4.8 billion Euros (7.1 billion dollars), by placing more than 50 billion Euros in unauthorized futures trades, discovered on January 20. He was charged last week with breach of trust, using false documents and unauthorized computer access, although judges did not approve the more serious charge of fraud. Societe Generale maintains that Kerviel managed to circumvent internal controls by using stolen computer access codes and fictitious documents.

Kerviel admitted during questioning to falsifying company emails to cover his tracks after he started making unauthorized deals in 2005. But he also told investigators the bank must have known what he was doing because of the profits he had generated previously, and suggested his bosses turned a blind eye as long as he was not in the red.

This is it then, he opened his mouth and who knows how many others he’s going to take with him because this was too huge to be a one man job and it was obvious from the beginning.


Super-fast train

French engineering giant Alstom, creator of the high-speed TGV train, unveiled a new-generation, super-fast prototype: quicker, cleaner, bigger -- and tailored especially for export. President Nicolas Sarkozy helped cut the ribbon on the AGV, which stands for Automotice Grande Vitesse, or High-Speed Railcar -- a bullet-train designed with a cruise speed of up to 360 kilometers per hour (210 mph). The TGV's top cruise speed is currently 320 kph (190 mph).

"We wanted this train because we had understood that the ultra high-speed market was going to evolve," Alstom chairman Patrick Kron told some 500 guests gathered at a rail test centre in the Atlantic city of La Rochelle. "To answer that challenge, we had to expand and modernize our offer," he said before unveiling the slick black-and-grey prototype, which shunted forwards in a pool of blue light.

The AGV's key innovation is a system of motorized carriages spread along the length of the train, instead of the front and rear only, which constructors say slashes both energy and maintenance costs.
Sarkozy, who as finance minister intervened in 2004 to save the engineering giant Alstom from being broken up, was guest of honor, along with top executives from the French, German, Russian and Italian rail operators.

Speeding technology and transportation.

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