By Michael Petrou - Friday, February 1, 2013 - 0 Comments
The French president launched a war in Mali just as his popularity hit an all-time low
François Hollande probably never expected to be a wartime president. To be fair, until Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the French Socialist Party’s presumed nominee for president, flamed out amid allegations of sexual assault in 2011, Hollande likely never expected he’d lead the country at all.
He is an “accidental” president, says John Gaffney, co-director of the Aston Centre for Europe at Aston University in Britain, one who triumphed over incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy—whose pomposity made a nation sick of him after only one term in office—largely by virtue of the fact that he wasn’t Sarkozy.
Still, to the extent that Hollande seemed likely to do anything bold, launching a unilateral war would not have featured on many analysts’ predictions before this year. Hollande campaigned on a promise to end France’s combat role in Afghanistan a year earlier than scheduled, and did so. In October, during a visit to Senegal, he declared the end of the era of Françafrique, referring to France’s meddling in its former African colonies. Continue…
By The Associated Press - Monday, December 10, 2012 at 7:35 PM - 0 Comments
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Former International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn and a hotel…
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Former International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn and a hotel maid settled her lawsuit Monday over sexual assault allegations that sank his political career and spurred scrutiny of his dealings with women on two continents.
The housekeeper, Nafissatou Diallo, looked composed and resolute as state Supreme Court Justice Douglas McKeon announced the confidential deal. Strauss-Kahn stayed in Paris and was mum when asked about the settlement, which came after prosecutors abandoned a related criminal case because they said Diallo had credibility problems.
“I thank everyone who supported me all over the world,” Diallo, who has rarely spoken publicly since the May 2011 encounter between her and Strauss-Kahn, said softly after court.
“I thank God, and God bless you all,” she added.
In a statement, Strauss-Kahn attorneys William Taylor III and Amit Mehta said the former diplomat was “pleased to have arrived at a resolution of this matter.” They credited the judge with “patience and forbearance” that fostered the agreement.
The lawsuit stemmed from an encounter in Strauss-Kahn’s luxury Manhattan hotel suite.
Diallo, a 33-year-old housekeeper from Guinea, told police Strauss-Kahn forced her to perform oral sex, tried to rape her and tore a ligament in her shoulder after she arrived to clean his suite. The 63-year-old Strauss-Kahn, who has since separated from his wife, has said what happened was “a moral failing” but was consensual.
The allegations led to his arrest, forced him to resign his IMF post and cut off the Socialist’s potential candidacy for the French presidency.
The criminal case was dropped after prosecutors said they couldn’t trust Diallo. Among their concerns: She was inconsistent about her actions right after leaving his suite, and she told a compelling but false story of having been raped previously.
She said she always told the truth about Strauss-Kahn and would press her claims in the lawsuit. Strauss-Kahn called her suit defamatory and countersued for $1 million.
The judge said he met Diallo earlier this year and talked with her about the prospect of settlement talks. The negotiations continued, with a lengthy discussion involving the judge late last month, and a final deal was inked just Monday, McKeon said.
“I want to say what a privilege it has been to work with all of you and to work on this case,” he told Diallo and the attorneys for both sides.
The judge said Diallo also settled a separate libel lawsuit against the New York Post over a series of articles that claimed she was a prostitute; the details of that settlement also weren’t disclosed. A spokeswoman for the News Corp.-owned newspaper didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Diallo attorney Kenneth Thompson called her “a strong and courageous woman who never lost faith in our system of justice. With this resolution, she can move on with her life.”
Diallo is a widowed mother of a teenage daughter. She has been on worker’s compensation since her encounter with Strauss-Kahn, according to the hotel chain.
After Diallo came forward, other sexual allegations emerged against Strauss-Kahn, who had been known as a womanizer but largely viewed as debonair.
French judges are to decide by Dec. 19 whether to annul charges linking him to a suspected prostitution ring run out of a luxury hotel in Lille. He acknowledges attending “libertine” gatherings but says he didn’t know about any women getting paid to participate.
Another inquiry, centred on allegations of rape in a hotel in Washington, D.C., was dropped after French prosecutors said the accuser, an escort, changed her account to say she wasn’t forced to have sex.
And French prosecutors also have looked into writer Tristane Banon’s allegations that Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her during an interview in 2003, a claim she made public after his New York arrest and he called imaginary and slanderous. Prosecutors said they believed the encounter qualified as a sexual assault, but the legal timeframe to pursue her complaint had elapsed.
The Associated Press does not name people who report being sexually assaulted unless they come forward publicly, as Diallo and Banon have done.
Several hours before the court date in New York, Strauss-Kahn was seen in Paris leaving his new residence in the Left Bank neighbourhood of Montparnasse. Dressed in jeans, a white shirt and open black jacket and clutching a stack of dossiers, he ducked into a black Audi waiting for him. Asked by AP Television News whether he was relieved the New York end of his legal problems would soon be over, he refused to respond.
By Chris Sorensen - Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 9:30 AM - 0 Comments
Employees who expense prostitutes are more common than you’d think
As awkward explanations go, the one given for Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s alleged involvement with a French prostitution ring may have set the bar lower than ever before. During a recent radio interview, Strauss-Kahn’s lawyer acknowledged that his client did indeed participate in an orgy at the upscale Carlton hotel in Lille, France, but stressed that he could not have known the women were prostitutes. “People are not always clothed at these parties,” said Henri Leclerc. “I defy you to tell the difference between a nude prostitute and a classy lady in the nude.”
The sensational case, dubbed the “Carlton affair” by French newspapers, is merely the latest sex scandal to envelop the former head of the International Monetary Fund, who lost his job after being accused of sexually assaulting a New York hotel maid last year (the charges were later dropped). It’s also the most recent example of a company—in this case a French construction firm—being accused of improperly using corporate funds to throw so-called “sex parties” for employees and clients. In fact, some experts say using sex to grease the wheels of commerce is far more common than most people think—even in a relatively conservative country like Canada. “We like to paint ourselves as better than other countries,” says Al Rosen of Toronto-based forensic accounting firm Rosen & Associates. “But we’re absolutely not.”
Though generally well-hidden, Rosen assures that there’s plenty of questionable corporate spending going on behind closed doors. “It’s usually the international companies where there’s a lot of competition and money at stake,” he says. “They grease the skids with whatever (customers) want.” Even more shocking is the fact that many employees aren’t automatically fired when such transgressions come to light, owing in part to a general lack of clear corporate policies on such raunchy behaviour.
By Jaime Weinman - Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 8:30 AM - 0 Comments
The presidential nominee for the centre-left Socialist party is a nerd famous for his lack of star power
How do you lead a party out of the political wilderness and back to power against a charismatic incumbent? In France, the answer may be a short, bespectacled nerd famous for his lack of star power. François Hollande is the presidential nominee for the centre-left Socialist party, which used to dominate the presidency but has been out of power since François Mitterrand’s defeat in 1995. With the increasing unpopularity of centre-right President Nicolas Sarkozy, and a strong showing in the 2011 Senate elections, the Socialists see the upcoming April vote as their best hope to regain the top job. And they’re doing it with a guy nicknamed “Mr. Normal.”
Hollande might seem, at first glance, like the last person you’d pick to upset an international man of mystery like Sarkozy. Though he was Socialist party secretary for 11 years, he’s the type of functionary who always steps aside for more interesting people. In 2007, he lost the presidential nomination to Ségolène Royal, his partner at the time and the mother of his four children. This time around, the Socialists were prepared to pick the more glamorous Dominique Strauss-Kahn, but sex allegations against him proved too much for even the French.
With Strauss-Kahn unavailable, Hollande got the nomination almost by default, even though, as Foreign Policy’s Eric Pape put it, other politicians have tagged him as “spineless, too conciliatory, and the embodiment of the ‘mushy left’—and that’s just the commentary from members of his own party.” Things are no better for him on TV: On Les Guignols, a popular French show with marionettes, Hollande is portrayed as a pimply-faced nerd with a bad toupée and a tendency to giggle at inappropriate times. His image in France is comparable to that of Stéphane Dion in Canada—a plodding team player, not a winner.
By Jesse Brown - Thursday, December 1, 2011 at 5:06 PM - 2 Comments
This year may go down in history as the year of the phone hack. Vulnerabilities in mobile communication have, in one way or another, revealed everything from News Corp’s moral turpitude to Scarlett Johansson’s bum. According to a report by investigative journalist Edward Jay Epstein in the New York Review of Books, phone hacking may also have changed the course of European history, if not the world’s.
The article suggests that Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s enemies hacked his BlackBerry in order to engineer the set-up that destroyed his political career. The scandal has of course resulted in DSK’s resignation as director of the International Monetary Fund at a crucial moment for the euro, and scuttled his once-likely election as France’s next president. Could all of this have been avoided if DSK had had more uppercase letters and weird punctuation marks in his password?
We may never know. Some time after DSK’s disputed sexual encounter with hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo and before his arrest, his BlackBerry vanished. Even before that, DSK suspected that his phone was compromised–a friend working in Sarkozy’s political party offices had told him she had found a copy of a private email he had written to his wife, that had somehow been intercepted. DSK had made arrangements to have his device checked for bugs or tampering upon his return to France. Continue…
By Scott Feschuk - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 9:42 AM - 10 Comments
Scott Feschuk: Why should Anthony Weiner and DSK get all the attention?
Consider the male genital organ: it is essential for procreation, urination and losing one’s job as a congressman. Alas, the scandals of Anthony Weiner and Dominique Strauss-Kahn have overshadowed many other recent newsworthy events involving the penis. Let’s get caught up.
Newsflash! The female CEO of Archie Comics is being sued by her own company over repeated profane outbursts, including an incident in which she allegedly charged into a meeting and shouted, “Penis! Penis! Penis!” Obviously, this sort of lewd exclamation is unbecoming of a corporate executive—not to mention a surefire way of summoning the randy brother of Beetlejuice.
Archie Comic Publications filed suit against Nancy Silberkleit after receiving a private investigator’s report in which she comes off as a “foul-mouthed tyrant” prone to making frequent references to male genitalia. Apparently, the female CEO lacks certain mitigating qualities that would make her vulgarities more likely to be overlooked, such as being a male CEO.
Newsflash! What is the loudest creature on the planet relative to its size? A chirping cricket? A singing cicada? A self-aggrandizing Gary Bettman?
Smaller than a thumbtack, an insect called the lesser water boatman has been found capable of producing mating calls of 99 decibels from its home at the bottom of rivers. According to Wired.com, the aquatic creature achieves its impressive din by rubbing its penis against the ridged surface of its abdomen—“like a wooden spoon against a washboard.” The process is considered a marvel of nature. It also just gave Charlie Sheen an idea for the world’s first X-rated jug band.
Apparently, the insect’s call is so thunderous because pursuit of females among its kind is intensely competitive—and only the loudest get the chance to mate. Though this same phenomenon is seen elsewhere in nature, including in certain species of birds and every episode of Jersey Shore, scientists remain uncertain precisely how the insect uses its crotch to attract such widespread attention. Unlocking the secret could be the key to designing future ultrasonic systems and Adam Sandler movies.
Newsflash! A British company has received European approval for a new condom that can enhance the male erection thanks to a gel that increases blood flow to the genital area. The gel—found in the condom’s tip—is formally considered an “erectogenic,” a designation conferred on certain pharmaceutical compounds and all of Scarlett Johansson’s movies. Side effects of the new condom are said to include rashes, inflammation and exploding penis.
Newsﬂash! Korean researchers have conducted a study in which they measured the finger and penile length of 144 men who had just been put under anaesthesia for urological surgery. Each penis was first measured flaccid—then was grasped, stretched and measured again. The study found conclusively that the men really enjoyed having their surgery.
It also found some science-type stuff. For instance, the researchers now claim you can tell a lot about the size of a man’s penis by comparing the length of his index finger to that of his ring finger. The lower the ratio, the longer the penis.
At this point, I would like to take a moment to welcome back to the column all the men who stopped reading just now to check the ratio of their fingers.
Dr. Tae Beom Kim of Gachon University did not hold back in reaching a conclusion from the data. “Based on the evidence, we suggest that digit ratio can predict adult penile size,” he said. The doctor formally announced his findings to two attractive blonds in a campus pub. Regardless of whether the findings hold up in men who are not Korean, the study is worth deeper consideration: specifically, considering what the person stuck with the ruler must have been thinking. I’m going to go with something along the lines of: Here I am, a highly educated scientist who dreamed of one day using my expertise to help cure cancer, but instead I am measuring the privates of the unconscious and pulling an all-nighter to run the data for the Wang/Finger Correlation Matrix. Oh well, at least I’m not the guy who has to stretch them out.
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 1:10 PM - 1 Comment
The criminal case against Strauss-Kahn appears to be falling apart, but the former IMF chief’s troubles are far from over
It was the sort of fall from grace from which it seemed impossible for any leading public figure to recover.
On May 14, New York Port Authority police pulled Dominique Strauss-Kahn, then head of the International Monetary Fund and a likely Socialist challenger for the French presidency in 2012, from the first-class cabin of a flight bound for Paris. Early the next morning he was formally arrested on charges of sexual assault and attempted rape against a Manhattan hotel maid.
The allegations were particularly ugly. Police said the maid entered Strauss-Kahn’s $3,000-a-night suite thinking it was empty. Strauss-Kahn emerged naked from the bathroom and attacked her, forcing the maid to perform oral sex on him. Strauss-Kahn pleaded not guilty. His attorney, Benjamin Brafman, told New York criminal court: “The evidence, we believe, will not be consistent with a forcible encounter.” He did not deny a sexual encounter, in other words, but suggested it was consensual. DNA tests reportedly confirmed traces of Strauss-Kahn’s semen on the maid’s clothes.
By macleans.ca - Monday, July 4, 2011 at 1:05 PM - 0 Comments
Will file lawsuit Tuesday with French prosecutors
Tristane Banon, a French journalist and writer, plans to file a lawsuit against former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn, accusing him of attempted rape. According to a statement from her lawyer, Banon will submit a lawsuit to French prosecutors Tuesday. Banon, 32, alleges that Strauss-Kahn assaulted her in an apartment in 2003 after promising to conduct an interview. News of the lawsuit comes just as Strauss-Kahn’s chances of successfully fending off another sexual assault case gained ground. The much-discussed French presidential hopeful is accused of sexually assaulting a New York hotel maid in May. Prosecutors have cast doubt on her credibility, saying that she was suspected of lying to police.
By Randy Kim - Tuesday, June 28, 2011 at 3:27 PM - 105 Comments
U.S. treasury secretary Tim Geithner announced today that the United States will back French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde to head the International Monetary Fund, effectively sealing the race for the organization’s top job.
The race seemed tilted towards Lagarde’s candidacy from the beginning. When former Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned in May to defend himself against sex assault charges, Europe immediately rallied behind Lagarde, eager to substitute a European national with another one. And although the U.S. has been cagey about its stance in the race, few doubted it would eventually also nod at the French minister, continuing the unspoken convention of having a European heading the IMF and an American the World Bank.
By Anne Kingston - Tuesday, June 7, 2011 at 10:45 AM - 5 Comments
Women all over the world are fighting back against sleazy men, no matter how powerful they are
On May 17, the same day the Los Angeles Times broke the story that Arnold Schwarzenegger fathered a child with a long-time employee, his estranged wife Maria Shriver was in Chicago, taping the penultimate episode of Oprah Winfrey’s talk show. As the audience cheered, she took the stage to thank Winfrey for her friendship while making a not-so-subtle dig at her husband’s stunning duplicity: “You’ve given me love, support, wisdom, and most of all…the truth.” Winfrey clasped Shriver’s hand, thrust it in the air and cried, “Here’s to the truth!”
It was a classic Oprah moment, perfectly calibrated to the trend of rich and powerful philanderers getting their comeuppance. If Shriver had plotted to orchestrate a public up-yours toward her husband of 25 years, she couldn’t have chosen a more ideal platform. Days later the allegation arrived that she had done just that: TMZ.com reported Shriver herself had leaked the Schwarzenegger story to the Times—a historic moment for a woman born into the Kennedy family, a political dynasty where wives appear hard-wired to ignore infidelities.
For years, Shriver followed that script as rumours swirled about Schwarzenegger’s cheating and sexual assaults. A 2001 Premiere magazine exposé, “Arnold the Barbarian,” claimed the action hero routinely grabbed women’s breasts in some sort of Neanderthal greeting, and repeatedly forced unwanted physical contact. In 2003, on the eve of the California gubernatorial election, six women came forward in the L.A. Times alleging that Schwarzenegger had engaged in sexual bullying and assault dating back decades. Shriver rose to his defence publicly, discrediting his accusers and calling her husband an “A-plus human being,” a validation credited with securing his first landslide victory.
By Leah McLaren - Friday, May 20, 2011 at 6:45 AM - 23 Comments
The IMF chief’s history of alleged sexual misconduct has been rumoured in France for years
A wave of stunned indignation washed across France this week. The allegations of sexual assault against one of country’s most powerful men were appalling—but it was the image of Dominique Strauss-Kahn handcuffed and being escorted by police into a New York City police station that truly shocked the nation. In his position as head of the International Monetary Fund, Strauss-Kahn (or DSK, as he is commonly known in France) is a man who is used to jetting around the world to sort out economic affairs with members of the global super-elite. But today, the man who was once touted as a Socialist party presidential contender sits in a single jail cell in Rikers Island, where he was remanded by a judge without bail.
It is a far cry indeed from the $3,000-a-night suite in Manhattan’s Sofitel, where he last slept. It was in that plushy abode, with its grand foyer, living room and marble bathroom, that Strauss-Kahn is accused of sexually assaulting a chambermaid. According to authorities, the 32-year-old woman claims she entered the room to clean it, whereupon a naked Strauss-Kahn chased her thoughout the suite, finally dragging her into the bathroom where he forced her to perform oral sex, before she broke free and fled. He was arrested several hours later, having boarded Air France flight 23 to Paris at John F. Kennedy International Airport, just minutes before takeoff. He was later charged with attempted rape, a criminal sexual act, sexual abuse, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching.
Despite his gilded career and exalted status in France (he served as a government minister under François Mitterrand and is credited with helping manage the recent global economic crisis), the allegations against Strauss-Kahn cannot come as a complete surprise to anyone who knows him well. “Paris has buzzed for months, if not years, in the political and journalistic milieu about the rather pathological relationship that Mr. Strauss-Kahn maintains toward women,” Marine Le Pen, his far-right political rival, gloated to the press this week. And, she added, the news Strauss-Kahn had been arrested “did not make me fall from my chair.”