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“The ninth weekend of the gilet jaune protest movement was a mixed result for Emmanuel Macron. The nationwide demonstrations were relatively peaceful with only minor skirmishes between protestors and police, but numbers were up, with a total of 84,000 taking to the streets, 34,000 more than the previous Saturday.
This is an impressive figure given that we are in the depth of the northern hemisphere winter, but what are rain, sleet and sub-zero temperatures when the future of one’s country is at stake?
With that in mind Macron launches his Big Debate on Tuesday in the hope that consultation will supplant confrontation and a consensus can be reached behind which the country can unite and move forward.
The odds of that happening appear to be slim. Scepticism is the order of the day with a poll last week reporting that seventy per cent of those asked believe the nationwide Big Debate, which runs until March 15, will fail in its aim.
Why the pessimism? Because France has been here before. In 2009 president Nicolas Sarkozy launched with much fanfare a debate on ‘French identity’ amid growing unease about Islam and immigration. The indignation of politicians and journalists on the left was so great that Sarkozy ended up apologising for the initiative.”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"After five years of war with the Islamic State, the biggest problem for the winners is coping with the losers. The aftermath has produced one of the world’s most perplexing postwar challenges..."
"What do we mean when we say that the “soul of the city” is under threat? Often, it’s really about politics, nostalgia, and the fear of community change."
"...the pendulum of history never stops moving. Indeed, one of the few constants of history is unceasing change. While we seem to be heading in one direction, we must remember that there will surely be pauses, turns, and reversals."
""Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé," premiered early Wednesday and it was the fulfillment of all the ancestors' hopes and dreams. Beyoncé also dropped "Homecoming: The Live Album.""
"Seven in 10 adults ages 18 to 34 received financial support from their parents in the last year, including more than half of those in their early 30s. Almost three in five millennials said they couldn’t afford their lifestyles without the support."
"Social media influencers have helped turn public lands into tourist-infested swamps. And one cantankerous man is fighting back."
"One particular myth that attached itself to Ledger was that his death was somehow a result of immersing himself in the character of the Joker."
"In 2018, for the second year in a row, American publishers released fewer translated titles: 609 books were published, down from 650 in 2017 and the industry high in 2016 of 666."
"Egg freezing had become so routine among my single peers that when I hit 35, I never thought twice. Here’s what I wish I had known."
"When it comes to Passover cuisine, most home cooks know to avoid wheat, oats, rye, and other forbidden ingredients. But what consumers might not realize is just how much cotton they eat during the holiday."
"A masked figure looms over your recumbent body, wielding power tools and sharp metal instruments, doing things to your mouth you cannot see."
"Passover is a holiday that commemorates the Jewish people escaping slavery in Egypt. It is often referred to as the “festival of freedom.” My Passover in prison was at a place called the Wallkill Correctional Facility..."