mfioretti: france*

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  1. France plans to create a single, unified database holding the biometric data from the passports and identity cards of 60 million citizens.

    The measure wasn't debated in the French National Assembly as it was brought in on a national holiday by government decree.
    Further Reading
    French government rejects crypto backdoors as “the wrong solution”

    The new database will hold an individual's name, date and place of birth, gender, eye colour, height, address, photograph, fingerprints, e-mail address, and the names, nationalities, dates and places of birth of parents, according to L'Express. The idea is to make it easier to obtain and renew identity documents, and to aid in the fight against identity fraud.

    It is not the first time France has sought to set up such a huge, centralised biometric database.

    In 2012, Nicholas Sarkozy's right-wing government tried to do the same. However, key sections of that law were thrown out by France's constitutional council on the grounds that the scope of the database was too broad, and that the police would be allowed to use it to identify individuals from biometric data.

    The French government apparently believes that the new decree will not suffer the same fate. It insists that the new database will only be used to authenticate individuals, not to identify them. That is, it will be used to check that they are who they claim to be, not to discover whose biometrics have been found at the scene of a crime, for example.
    Tags: , , by M. Fioretti (2016-11-07)
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  2. In the 17th and 18th centuries, settlers emigrated from land-poor France to land-rich Canada. The result was a lower age of marriage. Young men and women no longer had to wait for their parents to hand over the family farm. Land was plentiful, and early family formation much easier.

    This new social reality led to a new biological reality. From one generation to the next there was a steady contraction of the time between age of marriage and age of first birth. Married women—many as young as 15— were getting pregnant faster. The mean age of full reproductive maturity seems to have slowly fallen at a steady rate, apparently through the reproductive success of women who could better exploit the opportunities for early family formation (Milot et al., 2011).

    But what about the homeland of these French settlers? Had that land-poor environment selected for a later onset of full reproductive maturity? That would seem to be a logical inference. Late and non-universal marriage was in fact the pattern throughout Europe west of a line stretching from Trieste to St. Petersburg:

    By 1650, when village reconstitution studies become sufficiently numerous to render the generality of the pattern indubitable, the average age of women at first marriage was twenty-four or over, 7 to 20 per cent of women never married, and the incidence of childbirth out of wedlock was below 3 per cent. This marital pattern restricted fertility massively. A very considerable minority of women remained single and bore no children; those who married bore none for the first ten years of their fecund life-phase, on average. If they had their last child at the age of forty, their entire reproductive careers would span roughly fifteen years, a long time by modern standards but remarkably brief in a pre-transition context. Resulting fertility was less than half the rate that would have been achieved if all women between fifteen and fifty were married. (Seccombe, 1992, p. 184)

    The ‘Western European marriage pattern’ was initially thought to have developed after the Black Death of the mid-14th century. But this belief has been challenged by a study of marriage between 1252 and 1478 in an English community:

    The average age at first marriage in the Lincolnshire Fenland before the Black Death would be 24 years for the woman and 32 years for the man. The wife would die one year before her husband and the marriage would last for about 13 years. The couple could have six children, if their fertility was higher than average, of whom, judging by pedigrees, perhaps three would survive to become adults. After the Black Death the mean age would be 27 for the woman and 32 for the man. The husband would die three years before his wife and the marriage would last about 12 years. Again the couple could have six children, of whom perhaps three would survive to become adult. (Hallam, 1985, p. 66)

    This pattern of late marriage may have been accentuated by the Black Death, but it was already present beforehand. Hallam (1985, p. 56) cites additional evidence for late marriage farther back in 9th-century France. On the estates of the Abbey of St Germain-des-Prés near Paris, about 16.3% of all adults were unmarried. In Villeneuve-Saint-Georges, the figure was 11.5%. Seccombe (1992, p. 94) cites a 9th-century survey of the Church of St Victor of Marseille, where both men and women appear to have married in their mid to late twenties.

    So when did the Western European marriage pattern begin? I suspect its origins lie in the late Neolithic of Western Europe, when farming communities had reached a saturation point. With farmland in short supply, young men and women had to wait their turn before they could marry and have children of their own. And some would never marry.

    What happened to these never-married? They may have turned toward community service of one kind or another. If they couldn’t have children of their own, they would’ve invested their energies in helping others of their community—who were often their kinfolk. In this respect, the Catholic Church may have simply adopted and further developed a cultural pattern that was already present in Western Europe.

    Together with the prohibition of cousin marriage, this pattern of lengthy and sometimes lifelong celibacy paved the way for a future of larger and more open societies where the State, and not one’s clan, would provide collective services. Of course, it wasn’t planned that way. Nothing is planned in cultural or biological evolution. Western Europe simply accumulated a mix of cultural traits that would later make possible the rise of ‘modern society.’

    Did this marriage pattern shape the biology of Western Europeans through natural selection? Was there gene-culture co-evolution? This is likely with respect to the pace of sexual maturation. Keep in mind that the time between menarche and first birth was ten to twelve years on average. Nature abhors a vacuum, and there would have been a tendency to slow the pace of sexual maturation for both biological and psychological traits. Just as land-rich North America selected for successful pregnancy at younger ages, the reverse had probably happened in land-poor Europe.
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  3. Thomas Bouret, CEO of Leroy Merlin, began his remarks by asking the question, “Why did Leroy Merlin become involved in this adventure?” He said that they began talking to TechShop in 2011 and visited Maker Faires in San Francisco and New York to learn more about the Maker Movement. He believes that Makers are the edge of a new DIY sector, which will be important to the future of Leroy Merlin. He said that there were three trends that defined the Maker Movement, as he saw it: first, that all this technology is becoming democratized; second, the sharing of ideas, designs, and data globally allows new people to participate; third, the growing, passionate communities.
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2015-10-23)
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  4. So, three months ago, Belgium proposed the introduction of a commemorative Waterloo €2 coin. But, because it represented the country’s most humiliating military defeat, France vetoed it.

    But this isn’t about a €2 coin. Exactly. Instead of giving up, Belgium went away and found an obscure law stating that any country in the eurozone could issue any new coins it wanted, providing they’re in an irregular denomination. So it invented a €2.5 coin, and minted 70,000 of those to commemorate Waterloo instead.

    So all this is just a hopelessly convoluted way for Belgium to stick it to France? Exactly. It’s like Scotland printing up a £7.50 note plastered with the crying faces of all its ousted Labour MPs.
    Tags: , , , , by M. Fioretti (2015-06-12)
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  5. Several shelters are to open in Niger in an attempt to curb illegal migration to Europe, the French interior minister has said.

    The centres, proposed by the EU in cooperation with Niger, “should be an opportunity to bring ambitious development policies for migrants and for states”, said Bernard Cazeneuve, who was in the Nigerien capital, Niamey, for talks with the president.

    This week the European commission outlined its plan for tackling immigration and asylum, including the creation of a pilot centre in Niger by the end of the year.

    The centre will open in the main northern city of Agadez, a major transit zone for thousands of west Africans trying to reach Algeria and Libya en route to Europe.

    Other centres could follow in Arlit in the north and Diffa in the south-east, a source close to Cazeneuve said.

    Neither the nature of these programmes, nor their size, nor the key issue of funding has been decided. European funds could be mobilised, the source said.
    Tags: , , , , by M. Fioretti (2015-06-09)
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  6. Begun, the infra-NATO drone war has.
    Tags: , , , , , by M. Fioretti (2015-05-19)
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  7. Despite initial plans, it proved impossible to use native North African soldiers (though they later went to Macedonia) because they would be fighting against fellow Muslims and possibly occupying the holy sites of the Middle East.

    But a quarter to a third of the French soldiers were Tirailleurs Sénégalais, or Senegalese Infantry, though in reality they were recruited from all over French West Africa and included some creoles from the West Indies and islands of the Indian Ocean. While it is not true that there was no memory of the Dardanelles campaign in inter-war France, it was largely colonial, being especially strong among the settler community in North Africa.

    Needless to say, the Senegalese had their own oral traditions but they were never in any active sense part of the official “memory” of the campaign. When the Empire vanished after the second world war, and French Algeria with it, the most obvious sources of a commemorative culture of Gallipoli disappeared.
    Not exactly a colonial campaign

    The paradox, as rapidly became evident to the French soldiers, is that Gallipoli as an experience had little of the colonial campaign about it. The Turkish soldiers who opposed the landings were men fighting to defend their homeland and religion, and they did so as tenaciously as any of the other European armies of the Great War.

    As a front, confined to a tiny area but extended by naval logistics on both sides to the Greek islands and to Constantinople respectively, Gallipoli offers a perfect laboratory for historians wishing to study the nature of warfare in the Great War.

    Instead of being a colonial exception, it was a microcosm of the European war at large. What the French discovered to their painful surprise becomes an exciting challenge to the historian a century on.
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  8. But while distortions in the savings rate are at the root of the European crisis, many if not most analysts have failed to understand why. Until now, an awful lot of Europeans have understood the crisis primarily in terms of differences in national character, economic virtue, and as a moral struggle between prudence and irresponsibility. This interpretation is intuitively appealing but it is almost wholly incorrect, and because the cost of saving Europe is debt forgiveness, and Europe must decide if this is a cost worth paying (I think it is), to the extent that the European crisis is seen as a struggle between the prudent countries and the irresponsible countries, it is extremely unlikely that Europeans will be willing to pay the cost. As my regular readers know, I generally refer to the two different groups of creditor and debtor countries as “Germany” and “Spain”, the former for obvious reasons and the latter because I was born and grew up there, and it is the country I know best. I will continue to do so in this blog entry.

    A few weeks ago I was discussing with a group of my Peking University students Charles Kindleberger’s idea of a “displacement”, and I proposed, as does Kindleberger, that the 1871-73 French indemnity is an especially useful example of a displacement from which we can learn a great deal about how financial crises can be generated.(4) It then occurred to me that the French reparations and their impact on Europe could also tell us a great deal about the euro crisis and, more specifically, why by distorting the savings rate wage policies in Germany in the first half of the last decade would have led almost inexorably to the balance of payments distortions that may eventually wreck the euro.

    It is a nice accident that the French indemnity accelerated Germany’s adoption of the gold standard, because massive transfer payments from Germany to peripheral Europe were probably necessary for many of these countries to adopt the euro, in some ways their own version of the gold standard. Before jumping into why I think the French indemnity is relevant to the Greek crisis, I want to make three quick points:
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  9. We should not deny the horror of January 6. But, in its aftermath, rather than uncritically reaffirm French national identity and wring our hands about Muslims’ refusal to integrate, we should use this moment of reflection to understand the various ways in which Muslims are consistently excluded from the nation, and to reassess the narrow bases what it means to be French.
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  10. Charlie Hebdo, for all its vaunted anarchism, has been a member of the establishment for a very long time.

    Or at least this is how the magazine is viewed out in the banlieues — the enormous and often wretched suburbs that surround all major French cities and that are home to a huge immigrant population, mainly from former French colonies in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. What is seen in the center of Paris as tweaking the nose of authority — religious or political — is seen out in the banlieues as the arrogance of those in power who can mock what they like, including deeply held religious beliefs, perhaps the only part of personal identity that has not been crushed or assimilated into mainstream French society.
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