A pro-democracy protester holds a placard with picture of blind Chinese legal activist Chen Guangcheng outside China's Liaison Office in Hong Kong. Photo AP
First Wang Lijun. Now Chen Guangcheng. If anybody else sneaks into a US diplomatic mission in China we might really have a story on our hands.
The events that have electrified China over the past few months come safely under the category of things you couldn’t make up. In February, Mr Wang, chief of police of Bo Xilai, China’s most charismatic politician, turned up in the US consulate in Chengdu. He brought with him piles of documents, including what is said to be evidence of the murder of a British businessman, allegedly by Mr Bo’s wife.
Campaigning for the second round of the French presidential election, Nicolas Sarkozy has justified his attempt to reach out to the 18% of the electorate who voted for the Front National, asking rhetorically – “Are 6.5m French people fascists?” One assumes that the answer to that is, clearly, not. And, certainly, watching Le Pen give a speech in Paris last week, I didn’t feel that I was watching the performance of a fascist. A nationalist certainly; a xenophobe, possibly. But we weren’t talking Mussolini or Hitler.
On the other hand, before one dismisses the links between the FN and the extreme right too hastily, it is worth looking at who the Front National regard as their sister parties in Europe. In the case of Britain, it is the British National Party – as this press-release from the BNP makes clear.
Austerity backlash in Europe and UN monitors in Syria
As the Dutch government falls, a socialist wins the first round of the French presidential election, and the UK slides back into recession, Brussels bureau chief Peter Spiegel and Europe editor Ben Hall discuss the backlash against Europe’s austerity politics.
Charles Taylor in 1990 (Getty)
Update: Charles Taylor, the former Liberian president, was found guilty of aiding and abetting 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sierra Leone, the first head of state to be convicted by an international tribunal since the Nuremberg trials at the end of the second world war.
The FT’s Westminster Blog ran live coverage of James Murdoch’s appearance at the Leveson inquiry in media standards and journalistic ethics.
By Gideon Rachman
The battle for France has a couple of weeks to run. After that, the battle for Europe will begin. Both Nicolas Sarkozy and his challenger in the French presidential election, François Hollande, are promising to save the “French exception” by radically changing the direction of the European Union.
Welcome to our rolling coverage of the day’s developments in the eurozone.
Today the live blog comes from Paris, as France digests a surge of far right support in the presidential election, but we’ll also be updating you on news from around Europe. All times Paris time.
By Tom Burgis in Paris and Esther Bintliff in London with contributions from FT correspondents around the world.
17.27 That’s about it for our live coverage from Paris today. A quick round-up of the day’s developments.
We leave you with news of a rare moment of accountability in said crisis:
Geir Haarde, the former prime minister of Iceland, has been found guilty of one count of negligence in the run-up to the country’s 2008 banking crash but will receive no punishment. The FT’s Michael Stothard reports from Stockholm:
Geir Haarde, the former prime minister of Iceland, has been found guilty of one count of negligence in the run-up to the country’s 2008 banking crash but will receive no punishment.
A special court of impeachment designed to deal with criminal charges against Icelandic government ministers found Mr Haarde guilty of failing to hold dedicated cabinet meetings ahead of the crisis.
But the court cleared him of three more significant charges that could have carried a sentence of up to two years in jail.
The full story is here. À la prochaine…
The initial reaction of many pundits to the first round of the French presidential election was that the vote was very bad news for President Sarkozy. No sitting president has ever failed to win the first round of voting – yet Sarko is trailing François Hollande. Only around one-in-four French citizens have voted for the incumbent president, which is a bit of a slap in the face. The mood for change is clear. Jean-Marie Le Pen, the father of the Far Right (literally and metaphorically), put it with characteristic brusque brutality, when he told French television – “Sarkozy is beaten.”
And yet, as the night has worn on, I have begun to wonder. Partly this is because the results have narrowed, as the votes have been counted. Initial projections put Sarkozy more than three points behind Hollande. In the end, the gap may be two points or less. Then, if you start adding up the votes of the minor parties, it looks as if it might be easier to construct a right-wing than a left-wing majority.