France announced a new cabinet this week, following the surprise resignation of the government - the climax of a bitter dispute over economic policy. Prime Minister Manuel Valls accused economy minister Arnaud Montebourg of crossing "a yellow line" and announced the resignation of his entire cabinet.

"There can be debate within the government, and we discuss every matter - but outside the government we couldn't accept some ministers questioning the direction, the economic policy, defined by the head of state," Prime Minister Manuel Valls said.

President Francois Hollande is politically weakened with his approval rating at an all-time low of 17 percent, and France could be falling into another recession. The French economy could be on the brink of becoming the latest sick man of Europe.

Unemployment is higher than at any time since the late 1990s and has not fallen below 7 percent in nearly 30 years - creating chronic joblessness in the crime-riddden banlieues of France's big urban areas.

France has not balanced its books since 1974 and public debt stands at over 90 percent of GDP and is rising. Statistics released this week revealed French manufacturing confidence fell to the lowest in 13 months in August. So after a stagnant first half, there is a real danger France could fall into another recession before the year is out.

So what is next for Europe's second biggest economy? How can Hollande tackle the country's economic problems? And is austerity a way of going forward?

Counting the Cost is joined by Jonathan Fenby, the author of France on the Brink.

Ebola and the pharma industry

More than 1,500 people have died in four affected West African nations since the start of the year, and and health officials are warning that the worst is yet to come.
 
"There is need for urgent action. The world has never seen an outbreak of Ebola like this. I wish I didn't have to say this, but it is going to get worse, before it gets better," said Dr Tom Frieden, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The WHO now says it needs $490m to help combat the world's worst outbreak of the virus, and it will be some time before they will be able to fully control its spread, and although there are controversial treatments now being trialled, there are no known cures.

So how can this crisis be tackled? Why is there still no approved treatment for the Ebola virus? And why is the pharma industry not interested?

Indonesia's sugar addiction  

The world's forth most populous country has become the world's largest importer of sugar. Once the largest exporter, local sugar mills cannot keep up with demand. 

But Indonesians' sweet tooth is already costing the country dearly - with high rates of obesity and diabetes. 

Around 20 kilograms of sugar are consumed per person per year, which is more than in most other Asian countries; and more than 12 percent of the children are now overweight.

Al Jazeera's Step Vaessen reports from Yogyakarta

Italy's olive industry under threat

An insect-borne bacteria is taking a bite out of Italy's olive industry. The bacteria, which originated in the Americas, has infected almost one million trees and experts warn that there is no way of stopping it.

"It's a pandemic, look around all my trees are dead. And nobody is doing anything about it. They abandoned us," Cosimo de Luca, an olive grower said.

Claudio Lavanga reports from Gallipoli in the region of Apulia.

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Source: Al Jazeera