Could Proportional Representation Save French And American Democracies?

Storm Crypt / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Natasha Hakimi Zapata for Truth Dig – The alternative is called proportional representation (PR). Under a PR system, the electorate casts its votes nationwide for whatever political party they choose, and then seats are distributed by percentage. You don’t have to win the majority of votes in any one geographically-bound district to enter the parliament. This allows for the rapid growth of minority parties, and more political diversity. So, for instance, in PR-using Israel, there are 10 political parties in the Knesset. PR-using Sweden has eight parties represented. … It’s impossible to know exactly what would result from, for instance, converting the U.S. Congress into a proportional system. But we do know that the current system is far from popular, while also very hard to dislodge. In 2016, members of the U.S. House had a 97 percent re-election rate; and yet the latest Gallup poll puts Congress’s approval rating at 24 percent. A shift like the one Mélenchon is proposing in France would also require Constitutional changes, which are very difficult to implement. But the same could be said for many of the ideas Sanders ran on, like a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

France Bans Pesticides In Public Green Spaces

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By Staff for Associated Press. Pesticides will be banned in all public green spaces from Sunday while non-professional gardeners will no longer be able to buy pesticides over the counter. The new measure is part of a larger green program adopted by French lawmakers that also includes a ban on plastic bags for vegetables. The pesticide ban covers public forests, parks and gardens, but local authorities are still allowed to use pesticides in cemeteries. The new law also stipulates that pesticides will be prohibited in private gardens from 2019.

Trumpism: Anger Going Viral

Stop Trumpism Highway View by Chris Owens

By Padraig Reidy for Bill Moyers Journal. It is difficult to argue against people who are sincere but not necessarily serious, and whose aims seem to lie entirely in the gesture — the great big NO to the world. But that is the task at hand. The first thing to do is to reinforce the idea that actions have consequences. If you refuse to help Syrian civilians in Syria, you will end up with refugees in your own country. If you vote to leave a stable trading community, your economy will suffer. The second thing is to treat people like grown-ups, in a way populist leaders refuse to do: The world has changed, and continues to change radically. Promising to turn back the tide, as the new right does, is idiotic and insulting. Countering populism involves a genuine appraisal of what a future for working-class people looks like — too often this is simply ignored, or dealt with on grounds dictated by the right — as if, for example, tighter controls on immigration are somehow the answer to the huge challenges of automation and globalization.

French News Channel’s Journalists On Strike For Editorial Independence

Staff of French news channel iTele vote to renew their strike for another day on November 7, 2016 in front of the channel's headquarters in Boulogne-Billancourt/AF

By Staff of RSF – France’s political leaders and the agency that is supposed to guarantee the freedom of its broadcast media seem unable to respond to the deepening conflict between Vincent Bolloré, the billionaire owner of the French 24-hour TV news channel iTélé, and iTélé’s journalists, who are fighting for editorial independence. The channel’s journalists have been on strike for the past three weeks in what is now the second-longest stoppage in the broadcast sector since May 1968.

Young French Immigrants Begin Solidarity Chain To Feed Refugees

The youth cooked sandwiches and typical cuisine from West Africa, then delivered them in a dozen cars to homeless refugees in Paris. | Photo: Video Capture

By Staff for Tele Sur – “We also are children of immigrants, we grew up in poverty, the principle of sharing is part of who we are,” said Souleymane. A video inviting young residents of Paris’ immigrant suburbs to give free meals to homeless refugees went viral on Facebook, reaching over 50,000 views by Monday. “We also are children of immigrants, we grew up in poverty, the principle of sharing is part of who we are,” said Souleymane, a resident of the Sarcelles suburb where the project began.

France And The Struggle Over Labour Reforms

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By Maxime Benatouil for The Bullet – The so-called Labour Law, passed en force by the French government on 20 July, is the most serious attack against the “Code du Travail,” already undermined for the past thirty years. A short historical overview is necessary to better grasp the destructive scope of this law, promoted and enforced by a socialist government – cruel irony!

French Police Fire Tear Gas At Labor Reform Protesters

Demonstrators clash with French riot police during a march in Paris, France, to demonstrate against the new French labour law, September 15, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

By Brian Love for Reuters – Riot police fired tear gas and water cannon at protesters marching on Thursday in France against labor reforms in what unions say will likely be the last demonstrations to try to overturn the law. Scuffles broke out in cities including Paris, Nantes, Toulouse, Rennes, Grenoble and Montpellier, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. Hooded youths hurled bottles, beer cans and on occasion makeshift firebombs on the fringes of marches against the law that will make hiring and firing easier.

In France, Black Lives Matter Has Become A Rallying Cry

Black Lives Matter France movement has gained momentum over the past months [Courtesy of collectif des Associations Unies Solitaires pour l'Afrique et sa Renaissance]

By Nabeela Zahir for Aljazeera – Paris, France – Young protesters gathered for a demonstration at Gare Du Nord in the heart of Paris. Amid a heavy police presence, they defiantly chanted “Black Lives Matter” and called for justice following the death of Adama Traore while in police custody. “The French police are killing our brothers, Adama didn’t even do anything wrong. He was killed at the hands of the ones who were supposed to protect him,” said one demonstrator.

India To France, Millions Rising Up Against Effects Of Western Domination

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By Vijay Prashad for AlterNet – Colonialism made us feel backward. It was always Europe that was advanced and enlightened, and it was always the East that was backward and wretched. Rather than honestly say that they had come to plunder, the colonial rulers said that they had come to school the East – it needed to be civilized. Every European colonizer used the phrase – the French called it mission civilisatrice, the Portuguese called it missão civilizadora and the English called it liberalism.

France Demands An End To TTIP Talks

A sign against the TTIP free trade agreement in Frankfurt, Germany. Photograph: Ralph Orlowski/Reuters

By Sean Farrell for The Guardian – France has been sceptical about TTIP from the start and has threatened to block the deal, arguing the US has offered little in return for concessions made by Europe. All 28 EU member states and the European parliament will have to ratify TTIP before it comes into force. Fekl’s statement follows similarly gloomy comments from the German economy minister, Sigmar Gabriel. He said on Sunday: “The negotiations with the United States have de facto failed, even though nobody is really admitting it.”

France Burkini: Highest Court Suspends Ban

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By Staff of BBC News – The ban in Villeneuve-Loubet “seriously and clearly illegally breached fundamental freedoms”, it found. The ruling could set a precedent for up to 30 other towns that imposed bans on their beaches, chiefly on the Riviera. At least three mayors have already said they will keep the bans in their towns. The court will make a final decision later on the bans’ legality.

TTIP Has Failed – But No One Is Admitting It, Says German Vice-Chancellor

Protesters rally against the TTIP and CETA free trade agreements, April 2016 Getty

By Alexandra Sims, Jon Stonem for the Independent. The free trade negotiations between the European Union and the United States have failed, but “nobody is really admitting it”, Germany’s Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel has said. Talks over the so-called Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, also known as TTIP, have made little progress in recent years. The 14th round of negotiations between American and EU officials took place in Brussels in July. It was the third round in six months. At the time, the talks were thought to be in trouble after a number of leading European politicians expressed concern about TTIP’s effects and the US’s reluctance to accept changes to the proposed deal. In May, cracks emerged when France threatened to block the deal. President Hollande said he would “never accept” the deal in its current guise because of the rules it enforces on France and the rest of Europe – particularly in relation to farming and culture – claiming they are too friendly to US businesses. “We will never accept questioning essential principles for our agriculture, our culture and for the reciprocity of access to public [procurement] markets,” Mr Hollande is reported as saying at a meeting of left-wing politicians in Paris

Banlieues Debout Movement Targets Police Brutality, Economic Hardship

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By Ericka Schiche for Occupy – The banlieues, suburbs existing beyond the Périphérique on the outskirts of Paris, are part of a complex socioeconomic and cultural world which is seldom viewed outside the context of its issues and problems. It is a place only its working class residents truly know, and their stories often do not mirror the scenes in La Haine. With his 1960 black and white short film “L’Amour existe,” referenced by Luc Sante in his book The Other Paris, Maurice Pialat introduced the banlieue not as the regressive dystopian zone it is frequently described as these days, but simply as a place to live and enjoy life.

French Threaten Lawsuits For Images Of Police Harassing Muslim Women

Christian Estrosi, A right-wing French official, has threatened suit against anyone who publishes images such as this one, showing French Police forcing a woman to disrobe at a Nice beach.

By Staff of teleSUR – Responding to the international outrage over photos of French armed police forcing Muslim women to remove their clothes on a Mediterranean beach, one French official threatened Wednesday to sue whoever dares to share such photos on social media. “Photos showing police officers from the city of Nice, doing their job, are spreading on social media since this morning and have sparked defamatory language and threats against these officers,” said Nice’s right-wing Vice Mayor Christian Estrosi.

Anti-Austerity Leftist Announces Challenge To French President Hollande

"I am candidate for the presidency," former industry minister Arnaud Montebourg said Sunday. (Photo: Parti socialiste/flickr/cc)

By Deirdre Fulton for Common Dreams – Seeking to replace France’s increasingly unpopular President François Hollande, former industry minister and “left-wing firebrand” Arnaud Montebourg announced his candidacy for president on Sunday. The French election will take place in May 2017. Hollande, whom Jacobin notes has “force[d] his way though political institutions and democracy in order to implement his unpopular policies,” has not yet said whether he will run for re-election. In 2016, he faced a popular uprising under the banner “Nuit Debout,” a pro-democracy movement that grew out of protests against his anti-labor and authoritarian security policies.