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Sarkozy calls for international intervention in Syria

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has kept a notably low profile since he was defeated by Francois Hollande in May, but seems to be returning to public life with a call today for international intervention in Syria: 

Breaking a long silence since losing May’s presidential election to Socialist Francois Hollande, Sarkozy said he had spoken at length to Syrian opposition leader Abdulbaset Sieda this week and they agreed on the need for foreign intervention in the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"They noted a total convergence in their views on the seriousness of the Syrian crisis as well as the need for rapid action by the international community to avoid massacres, " said the statement signed by Sarkozy and Sieda, who is president of the Istanbul-based Syrian National Council. “ They agreed that there are great similarities with the Libyan crisis,” said the statement.

Sarkozy's statement comes just a few days after philospher and fellow Libya intervention-booster Bernard-Henri Levy blasted Hollande over Syria in an interview with Reuters: 

"Of course I am disappointed by Hollande. I voted for him," Levy said. "Facing what might be the biggest historical, political and moral test of his mandate, this inertia, this flurry of words is not acceptable."

Sarkozy was, of course, a late convert to humanitarian interventionism, spurred in part by advocacy from Levy. It seems a little strange that Levy would have ever supported Hollande given his influence over the former president last year. 

It seems pretty unlikely that any of this advocacy will push Hollande's government to do anything more than urging further action at the Security Council.

KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/GettyImages

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Ireland's empty pews

A decade of Catholic Church scandals seems to have taken a toll

Only 47 percent of Irish polled said they were religious people, a 22-point drop from the 69 percent recorded in the last similar poll in 2005, according to the WIN-Gallup International network of opinion pollsters.

Average religiosity in the 57 countries included in the poll was 59 percent, a decline of 9 points since 2005, it said.

The country with the most religious people, according to the poll, is Ghana at 96 percent. Japan has the most atheists at 31 percent. 

It will be interesting to see how much longer Ireland's highly restrictive abortion laws will stay in place with the church's power diminishing and an increasing number of women traveling abroad for abortions.