Looming French Crisis — The Economist reports that growing public spending and debt, a worsening business climate and French President François Hollande’s reluctance to implement economic reforms have turned France into a “time bomb at the heart of Europe.” The International Monetary Fund warned that France risks falling behind Spain and Italy if it doesn’t implement radical structural reforms. According to the Economist, “unless Hollande shows that he is genuinely committed to changing the path his country has been on for the past 30 years, France will lose the faith of investors–and of Germany.”
Emirati Online Dissent — The United Arab Emirates has placed tighter restrictions on Internet use, reports the BBC, making it a criminal offense to mock the country’s rulers or to organize unauthorized protests. Under the new presidential decree, creating or running a website or using the Internet to mock or ridicule the government, rulers and/or senior officials across the seven semi-autonomous emirates could lead to imprisonment. Although activists criticized the decree for limiting free speech, the government said the clampdown “is a response to a foreign-inspired Islamist plot that aims to overthrow the government,” wrote BBC.
Polio Eradication — Polio has been virtually eradicated worldwide but reservoirs of the debilitating disease still remain in South Asia and Africa, notes VOA News. The illness, which attacks the nervous system and can lead to partial or total paralysis, is no longer found in most nations where it was once epidemic, but it still plagues Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria and other West African countries. Public health officials said parents’ refusal to get their children vaccinated against polio has delayed its eradication in those regions.
Emotional Trauma in Afghanistan – A generation of Afghans are facing war-related psychological problems that could undermine reconstruction efforts, Reuters reports. Young children that have known nothing but war since the U.S.-led invasion nearly a decade ago are particularly vulnerable to mental health issues. Clinical psychology advisor Mohammad Zaman Rajabi told Reuters that he has seen many children born after 2001, showing multiple mental health problems, including nightmares, depression, anxiety and incontinence. These issues, often thought to be signs of “malign spirits,” will have a detrimental impact on rebuilding the country, experts say.
KLA Arrests – Three former KLA fighters have been arrested in Kosovo by E.U. police for allegedly committing war crimes against civilians in 1999, the BBC reports. A spokesman for the E.U. said that two of the men involved are current members of the NATO-trained Kosovo Security Force. The BBC adds that though the charges have not been released, they are likely in connection with the murder of two supporters of Ibrahim Ruguva, a moderate politician who died in 2006 of lung cancer.