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Les Yankees—Go Home!

Jose Bove, french farmer accused of vandalizing mcdonalds to protest globalization
AP
Thousands of supporters and activists gathered in Millau Saturday in a show of solidarity with sheep farmer Jose Bove, on trial for vandalizing a local McDonald's.

The attack by Bove, a sheep farmer and local leader of the radical Farmers' Confederations union, made McDonald's a main target in a wave of protests last year.

It also came to symbolize growing French dissatisfaction at globalization, and especially America's place at its forefront.

Indeed, the French taste for American hamburgers, American movies and American clothes now comes with a new, post-cold war fear of what author Noel Mamere calls America's desire "to dominate the world economically culturally, militarily."

"We have to resist that," Mamere tells CBS News Correspondent Mark Phillips.

The irresistible power of American culture and commerce has long upset French intellectuals—even as consumers gobbled up the stuff.

What's worrying the French now is that American power is unchecked at a time when American values are seen as increasingly different from those in France.

The French worry that "we combine this runaway power and this great technology and that we don't equate that with moral leadership," explains U.S. Ambassador Felix Rohaytan.

America's use of the death penalty and the rash of school shootings in the U.S. fuels that fear. The U.S.-led air war against Serbia last year was also seen as an example of America imposing its will however and wherever it likes.

"I tell only to the Europeans, the undeveloped countries, to citizens all over the world—wake up!" said Mamere, who penned a book on the subject called No Thanks Uncle Sam.

Mamere's book has struck a cord here, where mistrust of Americans runs very deep. Author Pascal Bruckner says it can pervade "everything."

"Anti-Americanism tends to see everything, every disaster, every catastrophe, as America's fault," he says.

The argument is compounded by an ongoing trade war. Last year, France refused to import U.S. hormone-fed beef unless it was labeled. In response, Washington added a 100 percent tax to Roquefort, foie gras and other French delicacies.

Bove's sheep produce milk that helps make Roquefort. He and his nine co-defendants each face up to five years in jail and a $72,500 fine if convicted for partially dismantling the McDonald's branch while it was under construction in August.

But a public prosecutor on Saturday recommended that Bove receive a 10-month suspended sentence and that the nine other defendants receive suspended sentences of no longer than three months.

Outside the courtroom, at 14 open-air forums led by activists from around the world, activists gave speeches denouncing multinationals and industrial cuisine. A free rock concert was planned to entertain demonstrators, who began arriving in busloads at sunrise.

Among te scheduled speakers over the weekend were Lori Wallach, president of U.S.-based Global Trade Watch, and Bill Christison, who heads the Washington-based National Family Farm Coalition, as well as representatives from the International League of Human Rights and French politicians.

Bove spent three weeks in jail last year until he decided to post bail.

Although he chose McDonald's only as a symbol of a larger foe, others attacked the franchise chain across France. In April, Brittany separatists blew up a McDonald's, killing a young woman who managed it.