Tag: france

Conn Hallinan’s 2016 ‘Are You Serious?’ Awards

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This year’s lowlights from world politics, the culture wars, and the military-industrial complex.

Each year Conn Hallinan gives awards to individuals, companies, and governments that make reading the news a daily adventure. Here are the awards for 2016.

The Golden Lemon Award had a number of strong contenders in 2016, including:

General Atomics for its MQ-9 Reaper armed drone, which has a faulty starter-generator that routinely shorts out the aircraft. So far, no one can figure out why. Some 20 were either destroyed or sustained major damage last year. The Reapers costs $64 million apiece.
Panavia Aircraft Company’s $25 billion Tornado fighter-bomber that can’t fly at night because the cockpit lights blind the pilot. A runner up here is the German arms company Heckler & Koch, whose G-36 assault rifle can’t shoot straight when the weather is hot.
The British company BAE’s $1.26 billion Type 45 destroyer that breaks down “whenever we try to do too much with them,” a Royal Navy officer told the Financial Times. Engaging in combat, he said, would be “catastrophic.”

UN General Assembly recognises ongoing concerns over health risks from depleted uranium

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151 countries at the UN General Assembly have sent a clear message that the concerns of affected states and communities over the health risks from depleted uranium must be properly addressed.

The UN General Assembly has backed a new resolution on DU weapons by 151 votes to 4. The resolution, which highlights the ongoing concerns of affected states and communities, health experts and civil society over the potential health risks from DU exposure, is the sixth to be adopted since 2007. The text also recognises that countries affected by the use of DU weapons face considerable technical and financial barriers in dealing with DU contamination to internationally recognised radiation protection standards.

REPORT: BOMBING MUSLIM COUNTRIES RESULTS IN MORE ATTACKS AT HOME

According to a report from the European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC), European countries who are taking part in the US-led coalition against ISIS are more likely to suffer terrorist attacks at home– and the trend is expected to rise.

France ranked especially high on the list; Belgium, Germany, and the UK are also particularly susceptible to attacks. Ultimately however, the report also states that any country participating in the US-led coalition can expect a wave of “IS inspired attacks” from both organized groups and lone wolves. Attacks on European soil are not only expected to increase, but the ECTC expects attackers to shift away from symbolic targets and focus towards more soft targets with more civilian casualties. They expect the attacks carried out by organized groups to become more complex and could involve more car bomb style attacks similar to those in Iraq.

French Government Creates Illegal Database on over 60 Million Citizens

By setting up a single database centralizing information on the entire French population behind their backs, France’s Socialist Party (PS) government is giving the state vast repressive powers. Coming amid the state of emergency, it constitutes a fundamental threat to democratic rights, in particular to opposition within the working class to austerity and war.

The database, named “Secure Electronic Titles” (TES), was decreed into existence on October 30. It centralizes the personal and bio-metric data of all holders of passports or national identity cards. It concerns over 60 million people, that is, virtually the entire French population. The official launch of the database took place last Tuesday in the Yvelines area and will be extended across France at the beginning of 2017.

The database was prepared in violation of the law, behind the backs of the population. It was first proposed in 2011 at the National Assembly, during a debate on a secure national ID card, and sharply criticized by the National Commission on Information-Processing and Liberties (CNIL). While recognizing as “legitimate the use of bio-metric information to identify a person,” the CNIL ruled that “bio-metric data must be conserved in an individualized data system.”

French Police Fire Water Cannons, Tear Gas at Pro-Migrant Protesters in Calais

On Saturday, activists intended to march from the refugee camp that was dubbed the Jungle and has become a symbol of the ongoing migrant crisis in Europe to the center of the port city.

The rally was assembled by the International Coalition of Sans-Papiers Migrants and Refugees (CISPM) organization a day after authorities put a ban on public events associated with migrants.

France’s Waste-Not Experiment

The U.S. should take note of these new laws banning plasticware and requiring supermarkets to donate food.

France has embarked on two experiments we should take note of. First, the nation just banned all non-biodegradable disposable plastic cups, plates, and utensils. Second, they passed a law requiring supermarkets to donate unspoiled food they don’t want to charities instead of throwing it away.

I used to work in a supermarket, so I’ve seen what gets thrown away. In fact, I’ve thrown good food away myself. Perfectly good loaves of bread, bagels, muffins, brownies, and pastries — I put it all in the trash.

The Deep Colonial Roots of France’s Unveiling of Muslim Women

If the burkini is incompatible with fundamental French values, it is those fundamental values that have to change.

Throughout the summer, as a growing number of southern French municipalities banned burkinis on their beaches, the measure was widely decried as Islamophobic, counter-productive and oppressive to women. While it would be easy to reduce it to a misled, demagogue measure by right-wing mayors attempting to appear ‘tough on extremism’ in the aftermath of the Nice attack and in a national climate of rising Islamophobia, the bans are only the latest development in a long history of state-led oppression of Muslim women. In fact, the French State has been unveiling Muslim women for decades.