Commemoration begins of the bloody weeks of the Paris Commune of 1871

Paris has launched two months of events commemorating a radical experiment in people power, which continues to divide and inspire in equal measures 150 years later.

The 1871 Paris Commune, an uprising against a conservative government by working-class Parisians that was brutally crushed after 72 days, is one of the lesser-known chapters in French history.

But its memory still looms large in left-wing rebellions worldwide and in Paris with the towering Sacre-Coeur basilica in Montmartre, built by the victors on the ruins of the crushed Commune.

The revolt erupted after the Franco-Prussian war and ended in a bloodbath, with government troops massacring between 6,000 to 20,000 people during la semaine sanglante (bloody week) that ended the Parisians’ brief flirtation with self-rule.

Last week, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo inaugurated a programme of 50 events commemorating the Commune, including exhibitions, plays, conferences and debates.

But with public sympathies still divided been the “Communards” and the “Versaillais” government, trying to rally Parisians around a shared reading of what Karl Marx described as “France’s civil war” is proving difficult. Continue reading “Commemoration begins of the bloody weeks of the Paris Commune of 1871”

Paris eyes three-week Covid-19 lockdown in bid to then ‘reopen everything’

The city of Paris is considering proposing a three-week lockdown in a bid to “reopen everything” in the City of Lights afterwards, the deputy mayor said Thursday, calling the current nighttime curfew a “half-measure” and a “semi-prison” that never ends.

In an interview with French broadcaster Franceinfo, Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Grégoire said that the left-wing run city hall was considering proposing an independent local lockdown for the French capital to stem the “worrying” rise of new coronavirus infections there, with “the prospect of reopening everything” after, including its theatres, cinemas and restaurants.

Grégoire described the current anti-Covid-19 measures imposed by Emmanuel Macron’s centrist government, including the country’s 6pm-6am curfew, as “half- measures with bad results”, adding that that “we can’t be forced to live in a semi-prison for months”.

Like the rest of the country, Paris has been under a night curfew since December 15, but bars, restaurants and cultural venues have been closed even longer.

Grégoire’s comments came on the heels of Prime Minister Jean Castex’s announcement Thursday that Paris and 19 other regions in the country were placed under “heightened surveillance” and that they risk coming under weekend lockdown at the start of March unless the number of new coronavirus infections drops. The southern city of Nice and the northern area of Dunkirk have already been ordered into lockdowns on weekends. [ . . . ]

 

Continue at FRANCE24: Paris eyes three-week Covid-19 lockdown in bid to then ‘reopen everything’

The Fight Against France’s Global Security Law Is Far From Over

Why don’t French activists accept the Macron government’s rationale for a new law limiting the public’s right to share images of police brutality? Maybe because they’ve read it.

By Meerabelle Jesuthasan | THE NATION

In November 2020, the French learned that their government was about to pass a law that could punish anyone sharing images or recordings of police officers with up to a year in prison and 45,000 euros in fines.

Although the proposed law is aimed only at sharing images of the police with the intention of “harming their physical or psychological integrity,” this vague fine print did little to calm public outrage.

Last summer, as uprisings in defense of Black lives surged across the Atlantic, France had its own mass protests in support of victims of police violence, namely Adama Traoré, whose tragic death was not filmed. The French police have killed and brutalized many others, from Black and brown people in quartiers populaires to participants in the Gilets Jaunes movement. Some of these incidents were recorded in viral videos, which, many argue, is often the only mechanism that can save lives—by letting police know there will be a record of their behavior or, failing that, to provide grounds for legal retribution. Continue reading “The Fight Against France’s Global Security Law Is Far From Over”

Can President Joe Biden mend a torn America?

Joe Biden wants to unite Americans, but that won’t be easy when disgust at Trump’s actions matches disbelief at liberal attempts to censor opponents via Silicon Valley. Can there be any return to real liberal values and a sense of normality?

BY THOMAS FRANK

It is the ‘duty’ of American citizens, President Joe Biden announced in his inaugural address last week, to ‘defend the truth and to defeat the lies’. Much of Biden’s speech was an unremarkable stringing-together of patriotic platitudes, but this call for a great truth crusade stood out for its audacity. America is, after all, the homeland of the public relations industry, of televangelism, of Madison Avenue, of PT Barnum. Our leading scholars worship at the shrine of post-structuralism; our brightest college graduates go on to work for the CIA; our best newspapers dynamite the barrier between reporting and opinion; our greatest political practitioners are consultants who ‘spin’ the facts this way or that.

 

Continue reading “Can President Joe Biden mend a torn America?”

France passes law to give rural noises and smells protected status

From crowing roosters to the whiff of barnyard animals, the “sensory heritage” of France’s countryside will now be protected by law from attempts to stifle the everyday aspects of rural life from newcomers looking for peace and quiet.

French senators on Thursday gave final approval to a law proposed in the wake of several high-profile conflicts by village residents and vacationers, or recent arrivals derided as “neo-rurals”.

A rowdy rooster named Maurice in particular made headlines in 2019 after a court in western France rejected a bid to have him silenced by neighbours who had purchased a holiday home nearby.

Continue reading “France passes law to give rural noises and smells protected status”

Biden kicks off presidency with wave of executive orders, including halt on border wall funding

After being sworn in as US President, Joe Biden kicked off his presidency signing a wave of executive orders on top priority matters. One of these is immigration, with Joe Biden taking palpable steps to dismantle key Donald Trump policies, including an 8-year path to citizenship for immigrants without legal status known as the “Dreamers”. He also halted the funding of the border wall with Mexico, as well as putting an end to the “Muslim travel ban”.