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by Euro Reporter
2009-11-04 07:43:16
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Anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss dies

French intellectual Claude Levi-Strauss, the founder of structural anthropology, died at the age of 100, his publishing house Plon announced. Levi-Strauss, best known for his 1955 memoir and masterpiece, "Tristes Tropiques", died on Saturday. He would have turned 101 on Nov. 28.

"He was France's greatest scientist," said writer Jean d'Ormesson, fellow member of the Academie Francaise, the venerable institution which brings together France’s intellectual elite.  After completing a brilliant academic curriculum – excelling notably in geology, law and French intellectual Claude Levi-Strauss, the founder of structural anthropology, died at the age of 100, his publishing house Plon announced.  Levi-Strauss, best known for his 1955 memoir and masterpiece, "Tristes Tropiques", died on Saturday. He would have turned 101 on Nov. 28.

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Regulators call for redesign of France’s latest reactor


Nuclear regulators from France, Britain and Finland called on France’s state-run nuclear firm Areva to correct a design flaw in its newest European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) model for safety reasons. British nuclear safety regulator HSE, French regulator ASN and Finnish regulator STUK have asked for amendments to the reactors’ design, which could incur expensive delays in completing the first two EPRs that Areva is building in France and in Finland.

“Independence is important because, if a safety system provides protection against the failure of a control system, then they should not fail together,” the regulators said in a statement. French energy giant Électricité de France (EDF), along with German counterparts EON and RWE, designed the reactors to be more fuel efficient, safer and to generate less nuclear waste. But regulators said the operational controls for EPRs are too closely connected to the safety systems designed to take over during a safety breach.

“The licensees and Areva have agreed to make architectural changes to the initial EPR design, which will be reviewed by the regulators,” the regulators said. An Areva spokesman told AFP that the regulators’ request “does not call into question the safety of the reactor”

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Debate on 'national identity'


It’s a big day for Eric Besson. As France’s minister of immigration and national identity, Besson will spend the next three months encouraging and monitoring a debate on French national identity that he officially launched on Monday. Certain controversial ideas have already been floated, such as requiring schools to teach the national anthem. Besson has reportedly sent an information kit to regional officials who have been charged with organising public meetings on the issue. The ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party’s parliamentary groups have also been invited to take part. And Besson’s team has launched an Internet site to gather the varied opinions of the French public on the issue, some of which are likely to be quite controversial.

But those within the political community did not wait for the official launch of the debate to make their opinions heard, with both the left and the right flooding Besson’s office with criticism soon after the debate was first announced on October 25.  The left-of-centre opposition has denounced the whole debate as a political exercise designed to drum up support ahead of March 2010 regional elections. “(French President) Nicolas Sarkozy wants to shore up his support among those who support the far-right National Front,” Benoît Hamon, the Socialist Party’s spokesman said.

To prevent the government from gaining the upper hand on a topic so close to the hearts of its supporters, the anti-immigration National Front has criticised the UMP for not going far enough with the debate. Marine Le Pen, second in command at the National Front, on Wednesday requested an interview at the presidential palace. In announcing his initiative, Besson has also attracted his share of criticism from the ruling party. High commissioner Martin Hirsch called the debate “100% political” and former minister of housing Christine Boutin denounced it as “very risqué”.


      
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Emanuel Paparella2009-11-04 14:27:05
RIP Levi-Strauss. He was indeed a great scientist who taught us how to go beyond the misguided modern notion that myths are the equivalent of falsehood. Like Vico, just that single contribution is enough to make him immortal in the history of ideas.


Emanuel Paparella2009-11-04 14:31:45
On French identity, it may be political and perhaps it should be since, despite Cartesian clear and distinct ideas, the ideas on their identity are quite confused at the moment as they come to grips with multiculturalism and plurality. Hopefully a robust debate on the matter will clarify the crucial difference between assimilation and integration of naturalized citizens.


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