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Chatter: France gets a new president

François Hollande is sworn as France's new president, and hits the ground running.
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Graphic. (Antler Agency/GlobalPost)
                           
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Need to know:
François Hollande has been sworn in as the new president of France. He was inaugurated at the Elysee in Paris this morning, becoming the first Socialist in 17 years to occupy the presidential palace.

But he'll barely have time to collect the keys – and nuclear launch codes – from his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, before heading to Berlin to dine with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She says she'll greet him "with open arms." He says merci, but there should be more to budget policy than austerity. She says Europe's fiscal pact isn't up for discussion.

All in all it could be an awkward dinner, but there's more than saving face at stake – as Greece teeters on the precipice of an exit from the euro, a doomsday scenario is looming for the entire currency bloc.

Want to know:
Rebekah Brooks
, the former tabloid editor and chief executive of Rupert Murdoch's News International, will be charged with perverting the course of justice in connection with the phone-hacking scandal.

Brooks is accused of concealing documents and computers from police, British prosecutors said this morning. Her husband and former assistant will also be charged, along with three other News International associates.

Will Prime Minister David Cameron, a personal friend of Brooks and her husband, tell her to "keep her head up" again now?

Dull but important:
Barack Obama's campaign team is going for the jugular with its latest ad, which portrays Mitt Romney as a soulless, job-squishing venture capitalist.

The video focuses on a Missouri steel mill that was shut down in 1993 after being bought by Romney's Bain Capital. "They made as much money off of it as they could, and they closed it down," says one ordinary Joe who used to work there. "It was like a vampire. They came in and sucked the life out of us," says another.

The ad, which is causing controversy among both Republicans and Democrats, is the curtain-raiser for Obama's new campaign strategy, says GlobalPost's election correspondent Jean MacKenzie: class warfare. No one knows yet if it'll work, but it'll almost certainly leave some battle scars.

Just because:
Is this the world's oldest cave art?

Given, it's all pretty old, but anthropologists say they've determined that a block of engraved limestone found in south-west France is the earliest example of wall art currently known to man. The carvings, retrieved from Abri Castanet, are thought to date back over 37,000 years.

What are they of? Well, animals – standard – and, er, female genitalia. Said anthropology professor Randall White: "When I saw the image my response was 'Oh my god, a vulva.'"

Strange but true:
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has fractured his hand, while playing soccer with fellow diplomats.

Ban took a "tumble" during the UN diplomats' spring soccer tournament at a farm in upstate New York over the weekend, a spokesman said. The 67-year-old is expected to have his arm in a cast and sling for six weeks.

The good news is, it's his left arm and he's right-handed. So just in case the UN manages to hammer out that treaty resolving all conflicts, ensuring world peace and uniting humanity against hunger any time in the next few weeks, it won't go unsigned.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/chatter/chatter-france-gets-new-president

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