France Toughens Book Pricing Rules For Amazon, Online Shops

Maloya: The protest music banned as a threat to France

Beach in La Reunion

Credit: Reuters/Christian Hartmann By John Irish and Emmanuel Jarry PARIS | Thu Oct 3, 2013 8:21am EDT PARIS (Reuters) – France’s military will cut about 7,500 jobs next year, a defense ministry source said on Thursday, detailing government belt-tightening plans that the far-right hopes will deliver it votes at municipal elections in 2014. The cuts come as tensions rise within Socialist President Francois Hollande’s 17-month-old coalition, whose poll ratings have fallen to 23 percent due to dissatisfaction about the economy and jobs. The defense ministry said in April that 34,000 jobs would likely be cut over the coming six years, but its overall budget would remain largely static, steering clear of drastic spending cuts after military officials and lawmakers said that would reduce France’s ability to counter global security threats. “Given the six year objectives, (the cut) should be around 7,000 to 7,500 military and civilian personnel in 2014,” the source said on condition of anonymity, ahead of a news conference by Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. A handful of bases will be closed or restructured, including an 800-man regiment in the town of Orange in the Vaucluse department, where support for the anti-immigrant, anti-European Union National Front is strong, the source said. Marion Marechal-Le Pen, a National Front member of parliament for Vaucluse, said the cuts would hurt France’s defenses and local economies in areas like hers. “I can only worry about the immediate economic impact in a region that has already been heavily hit by unemployment and economic difficulties,” she said, reacting to media reports about the cuts. “The governments of the right and the left have preferred to sell off our military know-how and lose our diplomatic independence by making small short-term savings. That will cost France’s sovereignty dearly in the coming years,” she said. France’s military employs some 228,000 personnel today. A further 165,000 individuals are employed by the defence industry, not including sub-contractors. The government plans 15 billion euros ($20 billion) in savings next year and 3 billion extra revenues from higher taxes and fighting tax evasion to reduce the budget deficit. (Editing by Tom Heneghan and Robin Pomeroy)

The Orty Gym – Orty means “my sisters” in Arabic – is a 200 square-meter space with pink work-out equipment, freshly-painted fuchsia and orange walls and a large room where classes such as Hip Hop, Zumba, Stretching and Step are offered. Some of the 70 women exercising in the room cover their hair with a headscarf but many do not as all races and religions are welcome, said Lynda Ellabou, who owns the gym with her husband. SECULARISM Ellabou, wearing a fashionable pink and black headscarf, said their problems began in June after Raoult realized the couple planning to open the gym on a commercial strip on the periphery of the suburb of 14,000 residents were Muslim. “When he saw my (bearded) husband he had a shock. ‘You’ve rented a place where?’ he asked us,” Ellabou recalled. “‘You’re going to put a veiled woman at the reception desk too?'” “In the end he made us understand it wasn’t going to be possible to open,” she said, adding Raoult later objected to the gym’s lack of parking and steps leading to the emergency exit. The issue of secularism arose when a Muslim website said the gym had a prayer room in the back. Ellabou said the page was not theirs and the report was wrong, as there is no such room. Full-face veils are banned in public in France. Headscarves are prohibited for civil servants and girls in state schools. Those laws do not apply to private companies, but some politicians are increasingly calling for limits there too. France’s war on religious headgear stems from its official separation of church and state enshrined in law in 1905 as a victory over the once-powerful Roman Catholic Church. The growth of the Muslim population in recent decades has brought another religious group into the public sphere and has prompted calls from both ardent secularists and anti-immigration campaigners for limiting the public visibility of Islam. Raoult told Reuters at his office that fire hazards, not racism, were the reason for his opposition to the gym.

(AMZN) with a new law aimed at supporting bookstores and volumes that arent immediate bestsellers. Frances national assembly today unanimously approved a proposed law that blocks online stores from offering free shipping on top of a 5 percent maximum discount on books. When delivery costs are waived, they should be accounted for within the rebate limit, according to the text. Free shipping, lets say it, is a dumping strategy, Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti said during the parliamentary debate. This law, far from preventing competition or blocking technological evolution, makes sure competition is fair between players in a fragile ecosystem. Amazon has a 70 percent share of the online book market in France, said Christian Kert, one of the bills authors. Retailer Groupe Fnac (FNAC) runs its own Internet bookstore. The amendment on shipping, which will next be voted on by the senate, builds on a 1981 law singling books out as a cultural exception, deserving a distinct set of pricing rules. In France, a books price is fixed by the editor and has to be the same regardless of the distribution channel, while discounts should follow strict rules, the law says. Any measure raising the price of books on the Internet will hurt the purchasing power of French people first and foremost, and discriminate against those who make purchases online, Sophie Touchot at Havas SA, which represents Amazon in France, said in an e-mailed statement. To contact the reporter on this story: Marie Mawad in Paris at To contact the editor responsible for this story: Vidya Root at

Faith, politics clash over Muslim-run women’s gym in France

Maloya was seen by the French as a threat to the state and, sitting backstage by the sea after the show, Firmin Viry told me about life as a musician in those dangerous days. He performed without being discovered by the French authorities by constantly changing his tactics, organising shows in different peoples’ houses, often under the guise of a birthday party. Other musicians were not so lucky. He told me of his friend Augustin, who was jailed for playing maloya. Life for a maloya player changed dramatically in 1981 when Francois Mitterand, leader of the Socialist Party, became the French president. He did not just legalise the music, allowing it to be played on the radio, but provided funds to help cultural projects. The Communist Party had not got what it wanted, Viry told me, but the protests came to an end. Christine Salem performing in Paris in 2010 Today, maloya is becoming internationally popular among world music fans thanks to artists like Danyel Waro and Christine Salem, who were massively influenced by Firmin Viry. But it still provides a reminder of the divisions that exist on this exquisite little island, between the French who buy houses here or come as tourists – you do not even need to show your passport if you fly in from Paris – and the Creole-speaking population, many of whom are poor and without work and who argue that their identity and culture are in danger of being swamped by France. There have been sporadic violent protests against the cost of living. The most recent was in February last year when riot police were sent to the island from France. And according to Danyel Waro’s musician son Sam, “the young people are angry”.