France – October 21, 2013

The fallout from the Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA spying continues.  Ecuador, our country from yesterday, is offering Snowden asylum.

Ecuador is considering granting political asylum to Edward Snowden, a former intelligence analyst who is wanted in the United States on espionage charges, with a decision by the country’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino expected on Monday.

Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino told reporters in Vietnam Monday that Ecuador was considering the request and was in “respectful” contact with Russia, where Snowden is believed to be now. Patino also said that human rights principles were the most important consideration in the case.

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France is another country upset over the NSA spying.  They are summoning the US Ambassador to discuss the allegations of spying, not just on terrorist targets but prominent business leaders.  France 24 reports: http://www.france24.com/en/20131021-usa-spy-agency-nsa-recorded-millions-french-phone-calls

The US spy agency taped 70.3 million French phone calls in just a little under a month in the period from December 10 last year to January 8, 2013, “Le Monde” reported on its website. The paper said the NSA automatically monitored communications from certain phone numbers and recorded text messages under a program that was code named “US-985D”.

“Le Monde” said the documents indicated that the NSA targets not only people suspected of being involved in terrorism but also high-profile individuals from the world of business or politics.

The revelations prompted French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to summon the US ambassador to France, Charles Rivkin, for “immediate” talks on Monday.

US authorities declined comment to the French daily on the classified documents.

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Locally, France is facing protests over the deportation of a 15 year old student. High school students took to the streets of Paris in their thousands on Friday during a second consecutive day of protests against the deportation of foreign pupils, following the controversial expulsion of a 15-year-old Roma girl earlier this month.

Days later another student, 19-year-old Khatchik Kachatryan, was also deported, but this time to Armenia. He was enrolled at Camille-Jenatzy, a professional high school in northern Paris.

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The controversy seems to revolve around ethnicity, as well as class conflicts.  The integration of the Roma community has become a thorny issue in France, months ahead of local elections scheduled for March next year.

The community’s high poverty levels and seemingly high rates of involvement in petty crime has not endeared the Roma to the French people even as they are deeply uncomfortable about displaying a prejudice.

While French law forbids record keeping of racial, ethnic or religious identity, residents of major cities such as Paris are familiar with rackets of mostly young pickpockets on the metro and around ATM machines. Most incidents do not end in arrests or charges since the perpetrators are minors.

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