Africa 31 March 2011 The Week So Far By Staff blogger 1. EuropeIn France, the far-right National Front gained ground in local elections on 20 March, with results for the first round putting the party just 2 points behind Nicolas Sarkozy's centre-right UMP. Marine Le Pen, the party's leader, said the results showed that "this is no longer solely a protest vote". 2. Middle EastThe former Israeli president Moshe Katsav has been sentenced to seven years in prison for rape and other sexual offences. Katsav, who was president from 2000 to 2007, said that he was innocent and being persecuted by Israeli society. He is expected to appeal. 3. AsiaTechnicians at the power plant at the centre of Japan's nuclear crisis repeatedly failed to carry out mandatory safety checks, according to documents from the reactor's operator. The Fukushima Daiichi plant also contained far more spent uranium fuel rods than it had been designed to store, which raised the risk of a leakage of radioactive steam. 4. South AmericaThe Guatemalan president, Álvaro Colom, and his wife, Sandra Torres, have filed for divorce so that she can stand for election to succeed him. The country's constitution bans close relatives of the president from standing. The main opposition candidate, Otto Pérez Molina, has accused the couple of seeking to defraud the system. 5. AfricaTwo days of fighting between the South Sudan army and fighters loyal to the rebel leader George Athor have killed about 70 people. After similar clashes in mid-March, the southern government accused the north and President Omar el-Bashir of seeking to destabilise it. South Sudan will become independent in July, after decades of north-south conflict. 6. ScienceReligion is set for extinction in nine countries, according to a study of census data from the past 100 years. Researchers say that in Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland, following a faith is becoming ever less attractive. 7. EntertainmentRadio 3 is to air an adaptation of Emily Brontë's 1847 novel, Wuthering Heights - with added swearing. The writer, Jonathan Holloway, said he wanted to "capture the shock" of the book's original publication. The broadcast is at 8pm on 27 March. 8. TechnologyThe internet overseer Icann has approved the .xxx domain for pornographic websites. Supporters say it will make it easier to filter out inappropriate content, but others are concerned that it will ghettoise the industry. Icann has reported that there are already more than 100,000 reservations for a .xxx domain. 9. PeopleDownton Abbey's writer, Julian Fellowes, is writing a miniseries about the Titanic. It will be filmed in Hungary in the spring and is due to air next year on ITV. 10. EducationThe biggest debt owed to the Student Loans Company is currently £66,150, a Freedom of Information request by the BBC has revealed. The sum of the 20 largest debts is over £1m and all but one of the students were at London universities. Subscribe This article first appeared in the 28 March 2011 issue of the New Statesman, Why Libya? Why now?