france

Error message

  • Deprecated function: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in _menu_load_objects() (line 579 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/menu.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Deprecated function: implode(): Passing glue string after array is deprecated. Swap the parameters in drupal_get_feeds() (line 394 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).

Tι θα έπρεπε να κάνει η ΕΚΤ, το οποίο αρνείται να κάνει – Σχόλιο της Les Echos σε συνέντευξή μου στην Le Temps

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 20/06/2022 - 4:25pm in

Με άρθρο του στη γαλλική εφημερίδα «Les Echos» ο Pierre Demoux σχολίασε την κριτική που έκανε σε συνέντευξή του στην ελβετική εφημερίδα «Le Temps» ο «αντικομφορμιστής πρώην υπουργός Οικονομικών της Ελλάδος», όπως χαρακτηριστικά αναφέρει, Γραμματέας του ΜέΡΑ25, Γιάνης Βαρουφάκης, αναφορικά με την ανακοίνωση της Ευρωπαϊκής Κεντρικής Τράπεζας για σταδιακή αύξηση των επιτοκίων.

Συγκεκριμένα, αναφέρει το άρθρο, ο Γιάνης Βαρουφάκης κατηγορεί ευθέως την Ευρωπαϊκή Κεντρική Τράπεζα, που, στις 9 Ιουνίου ανακοίνωσε πως θα αυξήσει κατά 0,25% τα επιτόκια τον Ιούλιο και θα προχωρήσει σε δεύτερη αύξηση των βασικών επιτοκίων τον Σεπτέμβριο, ότι είναι εκείνη που τροφοδότησε τον πληθωρισμό. Η μόνη λύση, υποστηρίζει ο Γραμματέας του ΜέΡΑ25, είναι μια μονομιάς δραστική αύξηση των επιτοκίων προκειμένου να επιβραδυνθεί αποτελεσματικά η άνοδος των τιμών.

Το άρθρο υπενθυμίζει τα λόγια του Γιάνη Βαρουφάκη στην εφημερίδα «Le Temps»: «Η σταδιακή αύξηση των επιτοκίων είναι σαν να υποβάλεις σε αργό βασανιστήριο σε έναν κρατούμενο», δήλωσε χαρακτηριστικά, και πρότεινε την αύξηση των επιτοκίων κατευθείαν στο 3% καθώς, σύμφωνα με εκείνον, μόνο ένα τέτοιο μέτρο μπορεί να επιβραδύνει την άνοδο των τιμών των βασικών καταναλωτικών αγαθών και να καταστήσει τα ακίνητα πιο προσιτά. Παράλληλα, σύμφωνα με τον Πρόεδρο της Κοινοβουλευτικής Ομάδας του ΜέΡΑ25, με αυτό τον τρόπο «θα μειωθεί το χάσμα μεταξύ του επίσημου επιτοκίου και αυτού που εφαρμόζεται στην πραγματική οικονομία». Όπως αναφέρει το άρθρο «Ο άνθρωπος που βρισκόταν στο τιμόνι των οικονομικών της χώρας του κατά την περίοδο της οξείας ελληνικής οικονομικής κρίσης του 2015 και στην πρώτη γραμμή στις δύσκολες διαπραγματεύσεις με την τρόικα (Ευρωπαϊκή Επιτροπή, ΕΚΤ, ΔΝΤ)» δε διστάζει να αξιοποιήσει την εμπειρία του.

 

The post Tι θα έπρεπε να κάνει η ΕΚΤ, το οποίο αρνείται να κάνει – Σχόλιο της Les Echos σε συνέντευξή μου στην Le Temps appeared first on Yanis Varoufakis.

Palais Intrigue

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/06/2022 - 11:30pm in

Tags 

Cinema, Film, france

For all its cash-flashing and celebrity worship, Cannes still offers moments of possibility.

What Happened When France Sent Low-Income Kids to Wealthy Schools

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 26/05/2022 - 6:00pm in

In 2004, Maxence Arcy moved with his family to Bellefontaine, a poor suburb of the French city of Toulouse. Limited by what he could afford, the father of six bought a place on a sprawling housing estate in the neighborhood which had catchment schools with the worst educational record in the region.

“At the time, there were only Mahgrebians and Africans living on the estate and going to these schools,” says Arcy, who originally migrated from Morocco in search of work in 1984. “It was a kind of segregation in the 21st century.”

But in January 2017, local authorities closed those schools in France’s fourth biggest city and instead bussed the 1,140 affected pupils to high-achieving facilities in the prosperous downtown in an attempt to write a new chapter of education equality.

The theory, according to Georges Méric, president of the Haute-Garonne region that includes Toulouse, was that a “rising tide lifts all boats.” Put another way, by inserting the students from Bellefontaine and two other suburbs, La Reynerie and Mirail, into schools of proven success, social determinism would be countered and all children would benefit.

“There are districts in Toulouse with 90 or 95 percent immigrant populations,” says Méric, who helped develop the scheme. “They are very poor and opportunities are hard to come by. But the young children living there have the right to success in life.”

Crushed by negative news?

Sign up for the Reasons to be Cheerful newsletter.
[contact-form-7]

Under Méric’s €56 million project, buses take the pupils — aged 11 to 15 — to nearly a dozen different schools in the city center in journeys that take less than an hour. The school principals and teachers are supported by six “social mix masters” who help facilitate logistics such as transport and tackle any problems that arise, such as dealing with parent concerns.

Five years on, the test results have been noteworthy. Before the bus scheme began, the drop-out rate for students living on the three estates after taking the Brevet — France’s national diploma for 15-year-olds — was almost 50 percent. That rate has now fallen to less than six percent and grades have risen by nearly 15 percent on average. Some 94 percent of pupils have stayed in the same school, calming fears that the scheme would lead wealthier families to move their children into the private sector.

“The welcoming colleges had a very good academic level already, that was important,” says Méric. “It’s worked very well. There has not been segregation in them and it’s promoting the wider acceptance of diversity across the city.” (Middle school is the U.S. equivalent of what is called college in France.)

Georges Méric, president of the Haute-Garonne regionGeorges Méric, president of the Haute-Garonne region, speaking about the school diversity project at a press conference. Credit: Aurélien Ferreira.

Eduardo Mosqueda, a professor who specializes in access to education at the University of California, Santa Cruz, acknowledges the successes of the Toulouse project. But, he says, consideration must be given to the amount of funding it requires. 

“I can’t help to wonder what the differences are in resources [that were] available to students in Bellefontaine compared to students in the schools where they are being bussed in terms of quality curriculum and adequately prepared teachers,” he says. “If the project to bus students costs €56 million, how much would student achievement improve if that money was invested into improving the schools that were closed?”

Even so, despite their poor academic performance, the Bellefontaine schools already had a high student to teacher ratio of around four to one, which came at a significant cost.

Mosqueda also believes bussing might lead to added pressures on pupils. “Students that are bussed are also in new school environments where it may be difficult to integrate given the racial, income, cultural and linguistic differences,” he says.

Yet Maxence Arcy’s 13-year-old son, Adam, who switched from a Bellefontaine school to one in Saint Aubin, has had few issues to date. “There’s a bus that comes to pick him up 200 meters from our house,” says Arcy. “He’s mixing with other students. He’s happy, he has improved his grades. He wants to be an engineer.”

For Arcy, the initiative is a textbook example of how to improve social diversity and the opportunities of future generations. “We were always for the project,” he says. “We wanted our child to see other nationalities and cultures. We were just concerned about the distance to the new school, but the bus works well.”

Adam ArcyAdam Arcy, a student from Bellefontaine who now goes to school near Toulouse’s city center. Credit: Maxence Arcy.

One crucial learning from the scheme has been the need for extensive dialogue between all parties involved. As many as 80 meetings, including 50 public meetings, were held before the bussing project was launched, helping address the concerns of those who voiced opposition to the project. 

The latter included parents worried about the distances the children would have to travel and a handful of teachers who were resistant enough to the idea of changes in the student makeup that they went on strike to try and prevent it.

“It wasn’t comfortable at the beginning,” says Méric. “There was resistance both through administration and the local level. But we listened to their concerns.”

These lessons could be invaluable, according to Malika Baadoud, director of L’École et Nous, a Bellefontaine-based parents association, given that schooling segregation is present across France and other countries. Often resulting from societal divides, she says, it has led to high dropout rates, school violence, racism and teacher burnout. “In certain areas of France, social and racial diversity simply doesn’t exist,” says Baadoud, who has held her role since 2003 and was last year awarded the prestigious National Order of Merit for her work. 

One of the initial concerns for parents whose children were set to be bussed further afield, according to Baadoud, was the fact that many families don’t own cars. But that was resolved by providing parents with free bus passes to travel from the estates to the schools to meet their children. “Slowly it was proved that all of these fears were unfounded,” says Baadoud. “They know it’s an opportunity for their children. It’s something that is unprecedented.”

The project is here to stay. Already this year two new schools have been built away from the estates’ traditional catchment areas in other, more privileged parts of Toulouse to ensure permanent social mixing in the classrooms and promote a more diverse staff. 

Encouraged by the results, several other cities and towns across France are now studying ways to launch their own bussing initiatives, according to Méric, with the Ministry of National Education helping to coordinate.

“Others have contacted us — regional departments and ministerial officials have come to see us,” he says. “I hope the scheme multiplies.”

The post What Happened When France Sent Low-Income Kids to Wealthy Schools appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

Volutions

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 18/05/2022 - 12:01am in

Cutting into the flaccid reality of daily life.

EV charging challenges

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 30/04/2022 - 10:39pm in

About a year ago, the old second-hand car that my husband and I bought in 2007 was nearing its end. It had served us very well, but our car mechanic had been warning us for some years that it wouldn’t last for much longer. So we were contemplating what to do; we thought seriously about car-sharing combined with public transport, but for various reasons (the pandemic being one, having a child with special needs another), we decided to buy another car. We gathered information and decided to buy an electric car. The new car has been wonderful – I’ve never really liked driving a car but driving an EV is much more pleasant. And in Utrecht, the city where we live, the local authorities put new electric chargers in the streets at the same pace that new EVs are registered. So, at home we’ve never encountered any noteworthy difficulties with charging.

Until last week, I think we only had positive things to say about our experiences with driving an EV. But then we decided to go to France for a week.

We rented a house about 70 km South of Paris. From home, that should require us to recharge twice, which is fine. In our experience from driving the car longer-distance in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, we’d need two stops of about half an hour to recharge, which is not much longer than the time needed for the entire family to visit the toilet, stretch our legs, buy coffee, and have a bite.

We soon discovered that the EV-infrastructure on our route was very patchy: the electric chargers along the motorways we took in France were few and with large distances in between, and on two occasions we (as well as other drivers) were unable to connect for some unclear technical reason. Eventually we had to drive to some town off the motorway and use a slow (22kW) charger for an hour in order to at least be able to get to our destination. In the village we were staying, there were two chargers ideally situated next to the railway station – but both of them broken down.

Today, on our way back home, we decided to play it safe and planned to recharge when the battery was still around 60%; recharging at that point should allow us to get to Belgium, where there are more charging points along the motorways. At the first stop, there were four chargers, one broken down, three charging, and another 6 cars before us in the queue (mostly with grumpy drivers). One driver was desperately trying to connect her car, but encountered technical issues, that were not solved when we drove away five minutes later. We decided to take the next one – where we found one charger, and 3 cars in the queue. We decided to drive still further, though realizing we now really needed to get close to recharging. We found a place on an industrial site about half a kilometer from the highway (read: no toilets and no coffee), with four functional chargers, all four occupied, but no queue before us. All drivers were chatting to each other – something we’ve seen many times among EV-drivers recharging their cars.

Obviously, these are first-world problems. And for us they are manageable because our kids no longer stress so much if a trip takes much longer and they don’t mind if they need to pee against a tree because there is no toilet. But since about all scenarios for deep decarbonization include moving from gas vehicles to EVs that should drive on renewable energy, the infrastructure should not lag behind. I have no knowledge on how we can expect this infrastructure to develop in the near future. Yet it’s clear that for driving longer-distance in Europe, with each country having its own electrification-strategies and -policies, progress will be as strong as the weakest link in the network.

Fascists gain ground in French election despite Macron victory

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 29/04/2022 - 2:31pm in

Emmanuel Macron has beaten the fascist Marine Le Pen to take the French presidency. But Le Pen’s vote of 41.5 per cent was a significant increase on her total in the last run-off election.

As president for the past five years, Macron has provided no protection against the far right. Instead his policies have helped them grow.

His racist “separatism” law in 2021 forced dozens of mosques to close and shut down the Collective Against Islamophobia as well as several Muslim charities.

Macron’s attacks on pensions and workers’ living standards, his repression of the Yellow Vest movement and his backing for killer cops all helped Le Pen.

The fascist vote in elections has continually increased due to the failures of the mainstream parties.

From 15 per cent in the first round in 1995, it reached 18 per cent in 2012, 21 per cent in 2017 and 23 per cent this time. Combined with the vote of the even more virulently Islamophobic Eric Zemmour, the far right vote was 32 per cent.

The election result shows the deep and ongoing political crisis in France. What were until recently the two major parties on the right and the left have both collapsed.

The Republicans on the right received less than 5 per cent of the vote, while the Socialist Party, the equivalent of the Labor Party here, less than 2 per cent.

Left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon received 22 per cent of the vote, coming third overall and topping the poll in many major cities including Paris.

Racism and far right ideas have become shockingly mainstream.

Le Pen supported a complete ban on Muslims wearing the hijab in public, wanted to erode abortion rights, block criminal prosecutions against killer cops by giving them a “presumption of self-defence” and try to break trade union power.

She would also have unleashed her thug supporters, who have already attacked student occupations, to impose her authoritarian fascist project.

Le Pen claimed to be on the side of workers facing a cost of living crisis, winning support by opposing some of Macron’s attacks such as raising the retirement age from 62 to 65.

But Le Pen blamed immigrants for the crisis and wanted to deny them healthcare and housing subsidies, and remove citizenship rights. Her main slogan was “Give the French their country back”.

There has been a consistent failure to recognise the threat that Le Pen’s fascist party poses, and that it is not just another right-wing party.

The mainstream parties have continually sought to win over Le Pen’s voters through embracing her racist policies. This has served only to legitimise her.

Falling behind Macron

Many on the left called for a vote for Macron in the second round, as they did at the 2017 election, in a mistaken effort to stop Le Pen.

This only plays into the fascists’ hands, allowing them to pose as outsiders. It makes it easier for Le Pen to pose as standing up for workers’ living standards when the left is supporting Macron, who is widely seen as ruling for the rich.

In practice the call for a vote for Macron is a political alternative to building a movement on the streets. It demobilises the movement against both Le Pen and Macron.

It is a repeat of the Popular Front strategy of the 1930s that saw the left unite electorally with “moderate” right forces and fail to stop the fascists in Spain.

The past five years have seen powerful strikes and big protests for Black Lives Matter and against police brutality in France.

Students recently organised a surge of university occupations to express their fury at the right-wing presidential election run off.

Anti-racists have protested meetings of Le Pen’s supporters and, on 16 April, nearly 40,000 took part in anti-racist protests in Paris and 150,000 across the country.

Special police units set up by Macron fired tear gas at the anti-racist protesters.

Speaking from the Sorbonne university in Paris, history student Marie told the UK’s Socialist Worker, “We know Le Pen is a fascist. We do not want her as president. But Macron opened the road to her and has assaulted our Muslim sisters and brothers.

“It is a really rotten choice. Democracy is more than the twisted system we are offered. We say neither Macon nor Le Pen and we will protest for our futures.”

Le Pen and her fascist street thugs have had a setback at the ballot box but that won’t stop their bid for power. Building an anti-racist and anti-fascist movement in the streets and workplaces is an urgent task.

By Chris Breen

The post Fascists gain ground in French election despite Macron victory appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Europe’s debtors must pawn their gold for Eurobond Redemption

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 27/04/2022 - 4:09pm in

Tags 

ECB, france, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK

And their central banks can buy unlimited amounts to support the price.

Not that they would do that…

Europe’s debtors must pawn their gold for Eurobond Redemption

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

May 29 (Telegraph) — The German scheme — known as the European Redemption Pact — offers a form of “Eurobonds Lite” that can be squared with the German constitution and breaks the political logjam. It is a highly creative way out of the debt crisis, but is not a soft option for Italy, Spain, Portugal, and other states in trouble.

The plan is drafted by the German Council of Economic Experts and inspired by Alexander Hamilton’s Sinking Fund in the United States — created in 1790 to clean up the morass of debts left by the Revolutionary War. Flourishing Virginia was comparable to Germany today.

Chancellor Angela Merkel shot down the proposals last November as “completely impossible”, but Europe’s crisis has since festered, and her Christian Democrat party has since suffered crushing defeats in regional elections.

The Social Democrat opposition supports the idea. The Greens say they will block ratification of the EU Fiscal Compact in the German Bundesrat — or upper house — unless Mrs Merkel relents.

“The Redemption Pact cleverly combines the advantages of lower interest rates through joint European borrowing with a reduction of debt,” says Green leader Jürgen Trittin. “Joint liability would be limited in both time and scale.”

The plan splits the public debts of EMU states. Anything up to the Maastricht limit of 60pc of GDP would remain sovereign. Anything over 60pc would be transfered gradually into the redemption fund. This would be covered by joint bonds.

Italy would switch €958bn, Germany €578bn, France €498bn, and so forth. The total was €2.326 trillion as of November but is rising fast as Europe’s slump corrupts debt dynamics. The sinking fund would slowly retire debt over twenty years, using designated tithes akin to Germany’s “Solidarity Surcharge”.

In effect, Germany would share its credit card to slash debt costs for Italy, Spain and others. Yet it is the exact opposition of fiscal union. While eurobonds are a federalising catalyst, the fund would be temporary and self-extinguishing. “The fund is a return to the discipline of Maastricht with sovereign control over budgets,” said Dr Benjamin Weigert, the Council of Experts’s general-secretary.

The ingenious design gets around the German constitutional court, which ruled in September that the budgetary powers of the Bundestag cannot be alienated to any EU body under the Basic Law — the founding text of Germany’s vibrant post-War democracy.

The court warned that open-ended liabilities are unconstitutional. The Bundestag may not establish “permanent mechanisms which result in an assumption of liability for other states’ voluntary decisions, especially if they have consequences whose impact is difficult to calculate,” it ruled. Chief Justice Andreas Vosskuhle said that any major step towards EU fiscal union would require “a new constitution” and a referendum.

The fund implies a big sacrifice for Germany. Its interest costs on joint debt would be much higher than today’s safe-haven rate of 1.37pc on 10-year Bunds. Jefferies Fixed Income says it would cost 0.6pc of German GDP annually. The Council of Experts — or `Five Wise Men’ — argue that this would be modest compared to the growth adrenaline of rescusitating monetary union.

Yet it is not charity either. One official said a key motive is to relieve the European Central Bank of its duties as chief fire-fighter. “We have got to get the ECB out of the game of distributing money, and separate fiscal and monetary policy. Germany has only two votes on the ECB Council and has no way to control consolidation,” he said.

Germany would have a lockhold over the fund, able to enforce discipline. Each state would have to pledge 20pc of their debt as collateral. “The assets could be taken from the country’s currency and gold reserves. The collateral nominated would only be used in the event that a country does not meet its payment obligations,” said the proposal.

This demand could enflame opinion in Italy and Portugal. Both states have kept their bullion, resisting the rush to sell by Britain and others. Italy has 2,451 tonnes of gold, valued at €98bn in March.

Alessandro di Carpegna Brivio, a gold expert at Camperio Sim in Milan, said Italy should treat such proposals with care. “Everything being done at a European level is in the interests of Germany and France, to save their banks. It is not in the interest of Italy,” he said.

“We should use our gold to take care of our own debt, collateralizing bonds above 100pc of GDP. That would be a far more targeted approach,” he said.

v
David Marsh, author of books on the euro and the Bundesbank, said Germany is not yet ready for the redemption fund. “The Germans have to do something, but I don’t think it will happen before the elections next year. Spain will have to go through storm first,” he said.

Ultimately, a sinking fund cannot tackle the root cause of the eurozone crisis. It may cap debt costs but it does not alter the intra-EMU currency misalignment between North and South, or help the Latin states close the chasm in labour competitiveness.

The South would still face the long grind of “internal devaluation” — or wage deflation — breaking societies on the wheel. Yet the Redemption Pact is at least a first step back from Purgatory.

Share

The post Europe’s debtors must pawn their gold for Eurobond Redemption appeared first on Mosler Economics / Modern Monetary Theory.

The World’s First Revolutionary Artist

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 18/04/2022 - 10:00pm in

Jacques-Louis David Radical Draftsman is a fitting exploration of the first great radical artist, a master of propaganda whose greatest triumphs were a result of his unflagging willingness to place his enormous talents at the service of his deepest political beliefs. ...

Read More

How the French Far-Right Is Copying the Digital Campaigning Tricks of Brexit

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 06/04/2022 - 12:17am in

A new report into Eric Zemmour’s social media in the run-up to the French elections shows how Britain's Leave campaigns during the EU referendum created a controversial template

GET THE CURRENT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES NOW

French far-right Presidential candidate Eric Zemmour’s social media strategy echoed elements of the UK Vote Leave campaign to appeal to new voters, a new report by HOPE not hate has revealed.

The controversial pundit, who has repeated the far-right conspiracy theory the Great Replacement and has faced multiple allegations of hate speech, will compete for the Presidency against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and President Emmanuel Macron, among others.

The report reveals how Zemmour has successfully used YouTube and Telegram to rile up a new voting base, with a particular focus on attracting young voters and voters attracted to culture war issues. 

But it also suggests that Zemmour has employed social media techniques familiar to British voters from the Brexit referendum, including setting up websites for specific demographics in support of Zemmour; asking people to sign petitions on non-related issues; and volunteers copying and pasting pro-Zemmour content in a range of non-political Facebook groups. 

Safya Khan-Ruf, researcher at HOPE not hate, said: “Zemmour’s team have worked hard to present him as someone who has organic, grassroots support from French people by focusing their campaign more heavily on social media than his main rivals, having identified it as a way to reach large, younger audiences and bypass the electoral restrictions you would find on TV channels”.

FUND MORE INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES. CLICK HERE TO FUND MORE INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

Help to expose the big scandals of our era.

A New Election Battleground

Social media played a vital role on both sides of the Brexit campaign, with the official Vote Leave campaign spending £2.7 million on Facebook ads alone.

Many of the ads deployed by the Leave campaign – both its official Vote Leave arm and the Farage/Banks vehicle Leave.EU – used a range of tactics now being seen in Zemmour’s own social media strategy. 

These included running Facebook ads that asked users to share their opinion on an issue that may or may not seem obviously related to EU membership – for example asking if the UK needs better flood defences or ads focusing on animal welfare. More ads were explicit that the survey was related to EU membership, by asking users if they believed it was good or bad that countries like Turkey and Albania could one day join the union. 

The ads also presented themselves as petitions – with social media users asked to “click if you agree” to a statement such as “hunting whales must be stopped”. Other petition style ads invited users to “click if you agree” that EU officials are overpaid, or that it was unfair for British taxpayers to help pay Greece’s debts.

Finally, the Brexit campaign set up arms targeting specific categories of voters, such as Be.Leave which focused on a younger demographic.

Similarly, HOPE Not Hate’s report has found that Zemmour set up a website asking his followers to sign a petition on censorship. His campaign created a range of websites focusing on specific groups of voters, including women and members of the Gilets Jaunes movement. The purpose is same as during Brexit: to harvest data and deliver focused campaign messages.

Zemmour's Strategy of Hate

Although Zemmour has fewer Facebook likes than Le Pen and Macron, his party Reconquête has spent more than double the amount on Facebook ads than Rassemblement National. Further, despite his smaller audience, Zemmour is far more active on Facebook than his fellow candidates, and has a higher interaction rate with his followers.

Where things become more interesting on Facebook is the creation of the affiliate groups mentioned above which, as far back as 2020, were advocating for a Zemmour candidacy in this year’s elections. These groups amplified Zemmour’s hateful messages and raised his profile outside of the usual electoral cycle, meaning that when he officially launched his campaign he already had a sizeable and engaged support base. 

Further, HOPE not hate found Zemmour has used Facebook to game France’s electoral rules, which forbids advertisements for political candidates in the six months before an election. Zemmour, however, has got around the code by posting ads on social media that reference the party, not the candidate. Inside the rules, but everyone seeing the Reconquête ads knows that the party equals the man.

Unlike his political rivals, Zemmour has seen most of his social media success on YouTube – unsurprising given the video-sharing platform has become a key channel for far-right content.

His 448,000 subscribers means his YouTube audience is double the size of Macron’s and he has eight times the number of subscribers as Le Pen.

Zemmour pushes his YouTube content on Telegram – a social media platform popular with far-right actors who have been banned from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. His content has been amplified by key figures in the French far-right such as Generation Identity’s Damien Rieu and influencers Baptiste Marchais and Le Raptor.

Through these relationships, Zemmour has been able to reach a more youthful demographic that is closer to the US “alt-right” than the traditional far-right voters of Le Pen who tend to be older, rural, white and male. 

The first round of the election begins on 10 April. It is not expected that Zemmour will progress to the second round, which once again is likely to be a choice between LePen and Macron.

ShareEmailTwitterFacebook

SIGN-UP TO EMAIL UPDATES

OUR JOURNALISM RELIES ON YOU

Byline Times is funded by its subscribers. Receive our monthly print edition and help to support fearless, independent journalism.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE PRINT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES FROM AS LITTLE AS £3.50 A MONTH

LIMITED TICKETS AVAILABLE HERE

BECOME A PATRON OF BYLINE TV

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES & GET THIS MONTH’S DIGITAL EDITION IMMEDIATELY

Macron and the Long March of the French Far-Right

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 31/03/2022 - 10:41pm in

Radical right-wing forces in France will not be buried by a second Macron presidency, says Shafi Musaddique

GET THE CURRENT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES NOW

Emmanuel Macron has become a force of nature in French politics in recent years – the apparent inevitability of his continued reign defining the country’s upcoming presidential election, set to begin in less than two weeks.

Macron has barely campaigned in what many of his critics have construed to be complacency, using the war in Ukraine to avoid TV debates with rival candidates. Le Monde has described this presidential race as a “phantom campaign” – a foregone conclusion with little need for candidates other than Macron, such is the assumption that he will take back the presidency without a fight. 

While there are grounds to assume, and hope, that the French will bat away the challenge of the far-right at the voting booth, such thinking remains a fool’s game. 

Anger continues to simmer in some quarters over Macron’s iron-fisted attempt to repel anti-vaxx sentiments in the country. Public backlash over fuel prices, the cost of living, concerns over the welfare state and the continued French obsession with immigration has made politics more uncertain across the Channel – even if the result of this election seems almost guaranteed.

But, most of all, apathy is the most dangerous emotion lingering over this French presidential cycle. 

“On 10 April there could be strong abstention from moderate voters who are anti-Marine Le Pen but hostile to Emmanuel Macron and this is the largest group in the electorate,” says Dominique Reynié, head of the influential Fondapol think tank.

“If they don’t turn out for the first round, thinking it’s a foregone conclusion, we just don’t know what the consequences will be. What we do know is that high abstention creates situations that are irreversible and weaken the democratic nature of the vote.”

FEARLESS, INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM
& INCREDIBLE VALUE

Receive the monthly Byline Times newspaper and support quality, investigative reporting.

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES FOR AS LITTLE AS £3.50 A MONTH

The Liberal Strongman

In 2002, a combination of voter apathy and protest votes saw a surprise first-round victory for far-right Jean-Marie Le Pen over the Socialist candidate. 

Le Pen senior ultimately lost that election, but the spectre of the far-right lives on via his daughter, Marine, who may well disrupt Macron’s procession with a more sophisticated strategy than her failed 2017 campaign.

Disillusioned masses from the old left, alongside those in French industrial towns where many feel left behind, are already campaigning for Le Pen on the back of a new ‘normalisation strategy’, with less public focus on immigration and more consistent campaigning on the cost of living.

There is no hope of a renaissance from a splintered left, unable to rally around a united campaign or leader. 

The fact that the French far-right remains the biggest challenger to Macron should be a glaring alarm signal to all those who abhor its politics. Regardless of an unlikely far-right win, the implications will be far deeper, and far longer reaching, than this election.

The arrival of Eric Zemmour, a far-right ‘celebrity’ – with overtly Islamophobic ideas – has led to Macron lurching further right in a bid to appease voters. Zemmour’s ‘zero immigration’ vision and his ‘great replacement’ theory – describing the supposed Islamification of France – is poisonous, and Macron is by no means immune.

Macron sees Islam through a Christian lens, publicly stating that he believes Islam needs its own ‘Enlightenment’ period. In a televised clip that went viral last year, the French Interior Minister described Le Pen as “too soft” on Islam – a sign that within Macron's administration, a hard-line approach to religious diversity is deeply embedded.

Should he succeed, Macron would be the first President to win a second successive term in two decades. But re-election is no guarantee that liberal values will succeed under his second presidency. And so it is imperative that he, and by extension France, is closely examined on its values and ideals. 

There are two narratives of Macron at play; Macron the superhero, and Macron the vacuous meddler. 

Macron’s decision to keep talking to Vladimir Putin as the bombs rain down on Ukraine has divided opinion in Europe. It is an attempt to frame him as a liberal strongman: the one man capable of facing down Putin (despite much evidence to the contrary).

Yet, Macron’s unilateral, non-collaborative approach has alienated key Baltic and Nordic allies most at risk from Russian animosity.

Estonia Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, whose own family was deported to Siberia by Russian invaders in 1949, lifts the veil in an eye-opening interview with the Financial Times

“I feel there is a strong wish to be the hero who solves this case, but I don’t think it’s solvable like that,” she says.

Macron has adopted a similar modus operandi in his messiah-like ‘reworking’ of Islam in France. With the introduction of his ‘Charter of the Principles of Islam in France’ and the creation of a National Council of Imams, he hopes to stop “separatism” against the state.

Signatories are called to renounce ‘political Islam’ and to no longer criminalise apostasy – concepts that the vast majority of French Muslims do not believe in. Many among the French Council of the Muslim Faith have refused to sign up to the charter.

Macron’s pet projects and keynote infamous “Islam is in crisis” speech all amount to a leader who values political performance more than ideological convictions – echoing the playbook used by Boris Johnson. He wants to portray a simple version of the world and domestic affairs in which he, alone, is a vigilante fighting for justice.

Without ideological convictions, however, it seems unlikely that France will be able to halt the long march of the far-right.

On the surface, it may seem as though political dangers will recede in France if and when Macron wins a second term. But, the election distracts from the underlying forces shaping French politics, and the current President’s inability to resist the temptations of reactionary, populist ideas.

ShareEmailTwitterFacebook

SIGN-UP TO EMAIL UPDATES

OUR JOURNALISM RELIES ON YOU

Byline Times is funded by its subscribers. Receive our monthly print edition and help to support fearless, independent journalism.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE PRINT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES FROM AS LITTLE AS £3.50 A MONTH

LIMITED TICKETS AVAILABLE HERE

BECOME A PATRON OF BYLINE TV

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES & GET THIS MONTH’S DIGITAL EDITION IMMEDIATELY

Pages