But times are changing. Last week the Goncourt banned jury members from consecrating lovers and family. Most unusually too, the newly unveiled shortlist featured no books from the country’s best-connected publisher, Gallimard. All this follows last year’s reform of France’s biggest cinematic prizes, the Césars: the board resigned after 400 artists criticised an “elitist and closed” academy that had nominated a film by the convicted paedophile director Roman Polanski for 12 awards.
France hasn’t suddenly become a Nordic-style model of transparent egalitarianism. But it is reforming, and it’s not alone. When elite institutions are attacked from below, they find reason to clean up.
Italy has slashed its number of parliamentarians and is reforming its courts so that wealthy defendants can’t string out cases until they lapse. In Britain, Oxbridge is admitting more state-school pupils. Voters have stopped tolerating self-dealing leaders, as witnessed by this week’s resignation of Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz and the defeat of Czech prime minister Andrej Babis. Part of fighting corruption is that we should be willing to acknowledge when it declines.
Nuclear power plants now generate over 26% of the electricity produced in the European Union. France gets 70% of its electricity from nuclear. Germany and others are not convinced nuclear qualifies as green power.
A group of ten EU countries, led by France, have asked the European Commission to recognise nuclear power as a low-carbon energy source that should be part of the bloc’s decades-long transition towards climate neutrality.
Tapping into Europe’s ongoing energy crunch, the countries make the case for nuclear energy as a “key affordable, stable and independent energy source” that could protect EU consumers from being “exposed to the volatility of prices”.
The letter, which was initiated by France, has been sent to the Commission with the signature of nine other EU countries, most of which already count nuclear as part of their national energy mix: Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Romania.
Germany’s vaccination authority, STIKO, recommended coronavirus vaccine booster shots for people aged over 70 on Thursday.
All residents of care homes, as well as workers who come into direct contact with them, should also be offered a third vaccine dose, the body said. The same was also recommended for medical workers in direct contact with patients.
STIKO gave its recommendation on the grounds that vaccine protection “declines over time, particularly in terms of preventing asymptomatic and mild infections.”
The volcano on the Spanish island has now claimed over 1,000 buildings, including homes, and continues to threaten communities.
The same pressures may result in empty shelves this Christmas. “We will see inflation, that’s for sure. We’ll see shortages in certain lines of goods, particularly voluminous things. You’ll see furniture stores with empty shelves. And I think the one that parents might be concerned about is toy stores and shelves possibly being empty there.” Goods imported from Asia, “whether it’s Barbies or bouncy castles, you might not be able to get those,” says Alan Holland.
Dutch PM Mark Rutte has got a new security detail, after police say that he’s at risk of an attack from organised crime syndicates. Some experts see similarities between the rise of violent drug-related crime in the country and drug cartels in Colombia and Mexico.
Dutch PM under protection as the ‘Mocro Mafia’ drug cartel sows fear in the Netherlands
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has been placed under police protection in response to fears of an attack by the Mocro Mafia (Moroccan mafia), a North African criminal organisation linked to cocaine trafficking, two months after Dutch investigative journalist Peter R. de Vries was murdered in Amsterdam.
The move comes amid ongoing disputes between Poland and the European Union over human rights and the independence of Poland’s judiciary. Abortion restrictions in Poland lie squarely at the intersection of those issues.
An October 2020 decision from Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal made abortion illegal except in cases of incest, rape or when the mother’s life is in danger. Specifically, it ruled that abortion due to fetal abnormalities was unconstitutional — effectively outlawing about 98 percent of the abortions that had been taking place in Poland. Proponents of the restriction argued that it was, in part, a way of preventing the abortion of fetuses with Down syndrome.