Why the French Want to Stop Working

If you want to understand why the French overwhelmingly oppose raising their official retirement age from 62 to 64, you could start by looking at last week’s enormous street protest in Paris.

Retirement before arthritis read one handwritten sign. Leave us time to live before we die said another. One elderly protester was dressed ironically as “a banker” with a black top hat, bow tie, and cigar—like the Mr. Monopoly mascot of the board game. “It’s the end of the beans!” he exclaimed to the crowd, using a popular expression to mean that pension reform is the last straw…

France is not alone with this problem. Rich countries everywhere are facing similar demographic challenges, and pushing up their retirement ages to cope. The advocates of reform in France should have more room to maneuver than most, because retirements here last an average of about 25 years, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. That’s among the longest in Europe, where retirements even out at about 22 years, and well above the average retirement duration in the United States, where people now live for about 16 years after they stop working…

Well-written with reasonable explanation(s). Europeans will – I think – get it before many Americans. But, that ain’t the point either. Reflect upon the article’s conclusions – especially the direction presumed of a changing and growing economy.

Cheesemaking fails in France for first time in 2000 years!

Every year, farmers in France’s central region of Auvergne repeat the same process. During summer and fall, their cows graze in pastures, eating to their hearts’ content. It’s only during this time that farmers can produce salers, a highly regulated semihard cheese with the same buttery depth as a well-aged cheddar.

That seasonal cycle remained uninterrupted for over 2,000 years until last week, when salers became the latest casualty of severe heat waves wreaking havoc across Europe, where human-caused climate change has intensified temperatures. France’s severe drought shut down the cheese production that had continued through two world wars, collapsed monarchies and the fall of the Roman Empire…

The decision to halt the cheesemaking was based on two factors: the meadows’ utterly parched state and the rules that regulate salers’ production…

Salers is what’s known as an AOP good, or a product carrying the European Union’s Appellation d’Origine Protégée label. The designation signifies that a good originates from a specific region and has an officially established reputation — similar to champagne or Kalamata olive oil. But carrying the label also means the product must meet strict standards — and that’s why the drought has been such a problem.

The sophisticated world is coming to a sad end. A complete life requires cheese. Good cheese. Something with character and history.

Hundreds of thousands of children abused inside the French Catholic Church

An estimated 330,000 children were victims of sex abuse within France’s Catholic Church over the past 70 years, according to a report released Tuesday that represents the country’s first major accounting of the worldwide phenomenon.

The figure includes abuses committed by some 3,000 priests and other people involved in the church — wrongdoing that Catholic authorities covered up over decades in a “systemic manner,” according to the president of the commission that issued the report, Jean-Marc Sauvé…

The independent commission urged the church to take strong action, denouncing “faults” and “silence.” It also called on the Catholic Church to help compensate the victims, notably in cases that are too old to prosecute via the courts.

“The consequences are very serious,” Sauvé said. “About 60% of men and women who were sexually abused encounter major problems in their emotional or sexual life…”We consider the church has a debt towards victims,” he added.

The 2,500-page document was issued as the Catholic Church in France, like in other countries, seeks to face up to shameful secrets that were long covered up…

Francois Devaux, head of the victims’ group La Parole Libérée (The Liberated Word), said it was “a turning point in our history.”

He denounced the coverups that permitted “mass crimes for decades.”

“But even worse, there was a betrayal: betrayal of trust, betrayal of morality, betrayal of children, betrayal of innocence,” he said, calling on the church for compensation.

If there ever was a money-making operation that could afford to repay victims of crimes committed by the leaders, the authorities of that body, it is the Catholic Church. They rake it in every Sunday, regular as clockwork.

My only question is when will more brave victims come forward – in other nations?

Stone circles 176,500 years old – constructed by Neanderthals


Etienne Fabre/SSAC

Approximately 176,500 years ago, in a cave in what is now called France, Neanderthals cut 400 pieces of stalagmite into regular lengths and arranged them in two circles and four piles. In 1990, a teenager and a group of local cavers rediscovered them. Only now, though, have scientists estimated just how old they are—dating well beyond the history of Homo sapiens in this area.

This is one of the earliest examples of construction ever found, and the first example of Neanderthal construction that scientists have dated. It shows that these early homonins explored underground and could use fire and reveals an unknown aspect of their culture. It’s not clear what the circle of stones was used for, but it’s possible it had a ritual function, since there’s no evidence that anyone actually lived in the cave.

The more we learn about Neanderthals, the smarter and more complex was their lifestyle, using fire, creating design art. All before the newer iteration of humans expanded into regions already populated by our older cousins.

Germany matches France — making electric car charging stations mandatory at all gas stations

Germany has announced that it will require all its fuel filling stations across the country to set up electric car charging stations…The chargers will be installed under its EUR 130 billion economic recovery plan to help remove refuelling concerns and boost consumer demand. The move is expected to boost EV (electric vehicle) demand along with a wider stimulus plan under which the country plans to raise taxes to penalise owning large polluting ICE (internal combustion engine) SUVs and provide a EUR 6,000 subsidy towards EV costs. The German government’s announcement follows that of the French plan announced last week…

Meanwhile, Congress prepares itself for the annual summer thumb-twiddling competition.

US-based climate scientists to take their research to France

It is a dream come true for U.S.-based climate scientists — the offer of all-expenses-paid life in France to advance their research in Europe instead of in the United States under climate skeptic President Donald Trump, two of the winners say.

American scientist Camille Parmesan and British scientist Benjamin Sanderson are among the 18 initial winners, including 13 based in the U.S., of French President Emmanuel Macron’s “Make Our Planet Great Again” climate grants…

A scientist from the University of Texas at Austin, Parmesan is a leader in the field on how climate affects wildlife. She lived for a few years in Britain for family reasons and was considering returning to the U.S. until Trump’s election.

“He very, very rapidly has been actively trying to erode science in the U.S.A. and in particular climate science,” she said. “And it’s hard for two reasons: Funding is becoming almost impossible, and in a psychological sense.”

Parmesan answered with enthusiasm Macron’s appeal for climate researchers to come work in France, minutes after Trump’s rejection of the Paris climate accord. “It gave me such a psychological boost, it was so good to have that kind of support, to have the head of state saying I value what you do,” she said.

One positive result of commercial and economic globalization is the spread of technology, the role science and skills play in building healthier, more economically sound worldwide commerce. Now, every time some dolt like George W Bush or his successor at stupid, our Fake President Trump, wins the ignoranus election special – that becomes an opportunity for some other nation with an educated outlook to entice our best and brightest to move their studies and research to their land.

Pregnant women + insecticide exposure = kids with behavioral problems

❝ Young children whose mothers were exposed to pyrethroid insecticides while pregnant showed increased rates of behavioral difficulties, a small retrospective French cohort study found.

❝ After adjusting for certain potential confounders, there was a positive association between high prenatal concentrations in maternal urine of certain neurotoxic chemicals found in insecticides, on one hand, and on the other, internalizing behavioral difficulties at age 6 in offspring, reported Jean-François Viel…and colleagues.

Moreover, there was a positive association between high concentrations of certain chemicals in children’s urine and externalizing behavioral difficulties at the same age…

❝ Pyrethroids are a class of insecticides that were designed because of concerns about organophosphate insecticides — with pyrethroids “purportedly a safer alternative for humans and the environment.”

The authors had previously used the PELAGIE mother-child cohort to examine prenatal and childhood exposure to pyrethroid insecticides and neurocognitive abilities. They found a link between childhood exposure and poorer neurocognitive abilities, but there was no association between prenatal exposure and neurocognitive abilities in objective testing…

❝ The pyrethroid metabolite trans-dimethylcyclopronane carboxylic acid was found in nearly all mothers (99.9%) and children (96.5%), followed by cis-dibromonovinyl at 68.3% of mothers and 85.2% of children.

But it was high concentrations of prenatal cis-DCCA that were associated with internalizing difficulties in children, and high concentrations of 3-phenoxybenzoic acid in children that were linked with externalizing difficulties.

❝ The authors also found that there was a more than twofold increased risk of abnormal or borderline social behavior associated with children who had the highest 3-PBA levels…

They concluded that the results, along with the prior study that linked pyrethroid insecticides with cognitive disabilities, support a “potential risk to neurodevelopment from pyrethroid insecticides,” and that remediating the potential causes of these neurodevelopmental deficits is “of paramount public health importance.”

Yes, doctors aren’t always the most entertaining authors. Even when they discover that the latest solution to endangering human life and living – from chemicals that increase agricultural profits – seems to have produced a whole new batch of dangers.

After the fact, of course. Everything previously approved in tidy political fashion. Satisfying farmers and agri-chemical producers alike.

French now have the right to ignore company emails on their own time

❝ France employees are getting the legal right to avoid work emails outside working hours…The new law, which has been dubbed the “right to disconnect”, comes into force on 1 January.

Companies with more than 50 workers will be obliged to draw up a charter of good conduct, setting out the hours when staff are not supposed to send or answer emails…

❝ The measure is part of a set of labour laws introduced in May…It was the only one of the laws – which also made it easier for firms to hire and fire employees – that did not generate widespread protest and strikes.

I’ll second that emotion. For most occupations, companies requiring email attention on your own time are folks I wouldn’t recommend working for.

Yes, there are exceptions. That’s not what this is about.