Posts by Kazolias

Socrates George Kazolias. I am a Paris based reporter, media consultant, university lecturer and trainer in communications. For the past 35 years, I have done on-the-ground training and reporting throughout Africa, including in conflict zones, and around both Eastern and Western Europe. During my career I have worked with NGOs, the UN and the US State Department in various assignments in Media for Peace initiatives and Democratic Development Assistance as well as helping University Faculty Members set up Communications Programs and teaching techniques. I have developed an expertise in African and European affairs on which I have written and lectured extensively. I am available for commentary and reporting. I am ready to travel and accept short term assignments. I also train government and business leaders in Media Relations and Crisis Management Communications. My 35 year career includes Radio and TV reporting, Production and Management Positions. I am fluent in English and French with a working knowledge of Russian and German.

France: Yellow Vest Rebellion Subsides, Problems Just Beginning.

The Yellow Vest Movement, at times an insurrection, will be a marker in the history of France. There are only three ways a leaderless, spontaneous, grassroots revolt could have ended up:

  1. Violent confrontation, blood and chaos, with its share of tears and gritting of teeth, for in a battle between the rabble and the organized state, the state’s machine of repression always wins.
  2. A charismatic leader steps forward, galvanizes the movement and manages to impose its political will on the system, stopping its normal functioning, forcing elections, creating political and economic instability for a prolonged period.
  3. The movement fizzles out, leaving in its wake massive demoralization and a total lack of confidence in the system and its actors; Like a volcano leaves its trail of destruction, hot ambers remain with the occasional after-shocks. Nothing gets done.

It seems the French Yellow Vest movement is now in the third option, but that does not mean President Emmanuel Macron can go on with business as usual.

The Arrogance of King Macron

The “arrogant” Macron, and his government, along with the political system, have lost all credibility in the eyes of the vast majority of the French people. “The president of the rich” will no longer be able to go ahead with his reform program to encourage capitalists to invest in France, create jobs and lower government spending and chronically high unemployment. 

Even if he could carry out new pro-business reforms, the political chaos of the Yellow Vest movement will dissuade “job creators” from investing in France. There is just too much instability. It is estimated the revolt cost France over two billion euros in revenues. The government welfare offer to hand-out 100 euros per month to those on minimum wage will cost at least ten billion euros a year. It is hard to see how Macron can keep the deficit under three percent and bring down a debt which is already 100% of GDP.

Macron also scrapped a fuel tax hike, which sparked the yellow Vest movement, and which was meant to compensate for the elimination of a wealth tax on the super rich. Macron refuses to reinstate the wealth tax, so there is another five billion in lost revenue.

The Yellow Vest revolt has not only hurt the French economy, it is also responsible for a fall in the value of the Euro (click here).

And this is where Germany and other European partners come in. Wealthier, better performing countries, are fed up with subsidizing French “labor privilege” which comes at the expense of “excessive government spending.” All face European elections in May and the so-called ‘populists’ will be hitting the system on the very issues the Yellow Vest raised: globalization only serves the rich, the Euro Zone bailouts hurt workers, Brussels has too much power to dictate domestic policies and, yes, immigration.

Macron’s March Stopped Dead

Macron and his En Marche Party are set to suffer a humiliating defeat in the European ballot. Polls show that the right wing National Rally party of Marine Le Pen has benefited the most from the November rebellion and is now France’s leading party. For, no matter how many ‘Brown’ faces you saw on television, this was an overwhelmingly White, ethnic French, working class revolt of people who vote right and harbor much animosity to those of migrant background. (Click here)

As this Tweet shows, Macron’s MPs tried early on to paint the Yellow Vests as extreme right wing thugs.

Polls released mid-December seem to back a right wing thrust. They show the left wing Insoumis party, which backed the Yellow Vests, continues to fall and is at 9% today, down from 18% a year ago. Macron has become the least popular president since the Fifth Republic was created in 1959, with 24%-26% popularity, and his party is at 18% of voter intention. 72% of the French still identify with the Yellow Vests demands although many reject the violence. (click here).

Macron has repeatedly complained of the “reform recalcitrant Gauls.” He has now met those Gauls and they proved to be a formidable match. He should have realized that history has proven time and again, that the Gauls, when suffering, will not stand for inequality. Macron failed to reform in such a way as to show people the sacrifices were being shared and rather concentrated his efforts on making France ‘business friendly’ to the detriment of worker’s rights.

The French president and his government only have themselves to blame for sparking a revolt which has probably now stopped a much needed reform process. The consequences on the European level of the Yellow Vest revolt have not yet even begun to make themselves felt.

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France Is On The Brink

It could peter-out, or it could get a whole lot bigger

Paris Rioting hit mainly the chic districts, targetting the symbols of wealth and the 1%: 5-star-hotels, luxury cars, banks, jewelry stores…

After two weeks of Yellow Vest protests, government insults and deaf ears, President Emmanuel Macron is scrambling for answers but unwilling to compromise. There is a no-confidence vote is in the making, the left and right oppositions are calling for new legislative elections and an already weakened economy is teetering. This leaderless, grassroots movement by mainly angry, lower and middle income white French families, may still peter-out, and then again, as I wrote on November 22, in ‘France’s Deplorables Explained’ (Click here), it may not.

Continue reading →

France – Yellow Vests: Can Macron Ride It Out?

Russian Radio asked me, an American reporter based in Paris, to analyze the Yellow Vest Revolt in France. This is a five minute excerpt from that interview. Just click on the icon below or click here.

Please leave a comment.

Yellow Vests – France’s ‘Deplorables’ Explained

images“A medieval peasant revolt with social media. An Arab Spring without the Arabs. Don’t underestimate the potential danger of the Yellow Vests.”

They are the ‘deplorables’ of France. They get up early and go to work. If they were American, they would be those that make up Trumps hardcore base but no French worker is stupid enough to believe a billionaire can represent their interests. In the 1960s and early 70s they would have voted Communist. Today they vote for Marine Le Pen’s National Rally and other hard right conservatives. The Yellow Vests are White and ethnic French. They are mad as Hell and won’t take it any more! (1.) Continue reading →

WWI Celebrations: Revising History to Do It Again!

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The cost of war is counted in lives while the gains are counted in dollars.

The First Casualty of War is the Truth!

 

There is a conservative movement in France rewriting the history of World War One. These people say the Allies should have never accepted an Armistice and marched on to Berlin once the German 1918 offensive was broken, thanks to US intervention. They say this would have prevented World War Two. They made the 100th anniversary of the Armistice a celebration of the Generals. They claim the war was fought by “patriots for liberty.” They say we are wrong to measure the killing with today’s yard-stick. Continue reading →

The USA Needs A New Constitution

 

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To uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.

The United States must organize a Constitutional Congress and write a new, 21st Century, text to govern our nation. The further we go, the deeper the messes caused by a text written for the world of 1787. It would be a long process but I don’t think a few Amendments or Referendums will get the job done. However, there are things that could be done now. Continue reading →

N. Dakota: GOP Massacres Indians’ Right To Vote

imagesWhen North Dakota, in 2012, elected Democrat Heidi Heitman to the Senate by some 3,000 votes, Republicans, who run the state, went scrambling for solutions. They found one which eliminates 75,000 potential Democratic voters from casting a ballot, including the quasi totality of the state’s Indians, roughly five-and-a-half percent of the population.

The solution Republicans found came in the form of a change in identification presented at polling stations. In 2018, a voter must present an ID which has name, date of birth and a provable address with street and house number. Fair enough you may say except in rural North Dakota people live in sparsely populated areas where dirt roads often have no names and houses rarely have a number. In all nearly ten percent of the Flickertail State could be denied their right to vote.

 

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Every General Store has letter boxes

Many people, including most Indians, don’t have street addresses. They have Post Office Boxes. Voters in North Dakota never needed a street address.

 

Although a lower Federal Court overturned the law saying P.O. Boxes were fine addresses, the new rule was upheld by a Federal Appeals Court and, this month, by the US Supreme Court. This gave Democrats and Tribal leaders three weeks to get on their horses or in their pick-ups and get papers to people which will be accepted at the polling stations — an almost impossible task.

North Dakota is the only state with no voter registration. Until the law change, it was enough to show up at a poling station, show an ID with your name on it and vote. Only cities like Bismarck and Fargo can do voter registration if they feel the need. 

You would be on the voting list if you voted in a previous election. If you had no ID, it just took somebody to recognize you to be able to vote. If you were not on the list or it was the first time you voted, you signed a affidavit saying you are you and voted. Believe it or not, there has never been voter fraud, even though that is the pretext Republicans used to change the law.

Republicans said they could not verify 3,600 affidavits after the 2016 elections. That does not mean there was voter fraud, nor has anybody claimed there was voter fraud. Everybody in North Dakota knows everybody else for dozens of miles around. It was the Voting Rights Act a Republican Congress passed in 2013 that gives states much more power in policing polling stations so you can bet your wooden-nickels they will enforce the new law on Tuesday.

images-2The Republicans claim people can all get a 911 address and then obtain the proper papers with a “911 street address” on it. The emergency response has designated addresses for people in the state’s 53 counties. 

Many Indians don’t have the means to travel to, nor the money to buy the new ID once they get to an administrative center with their 911 address. There is also a high level of homelessness among them, not to mention many Indians don’t have birth certificates. Tribes are trying to get free ID to voters in time for election day and reach out to those spread around in the prairies and hills.

Why is this election important? Without the Indian vote, it will be hard for Heidi Heitman to win the election and if she loses, the Democrats have no hope of taking back the Senate.