Racism is suffocating us

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This week has been marked by numerous demonstrations, both in the US and across the globe, in protest at police violence following the killing of George Floyd, the 46-year-old Afro-American who was suffocated to death by an officer in Minneapolis. In this op-ed article, Mediapart publishing editor Edwy Plenel argues why, when the police is gangrened by racism, it is because the powers in place, a ruling class and its elites, hold a silent hate of democracy, the people and equality – and that this applies as much to France as it does to the United States.

The Wuhan virus research lab and the speculation over its military use

By Jacques Massey
Then Chinese president Hu Jintao and his French counterpart Jacques Chirac in Beijing, October 26th 2006. © AFP Then Chinese president Hu Jintao and his French counterpart Jacques Chirac in Beijing, October 26th 2006. © AFP

The former head of British foreign intelligence agency MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, this week cited a scientific report suggesting the Covid-19 virus was man-made and that the pandemic was caused by its accidental leakage from a high-security laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan, a claim swiftly denied by the director of the site. The French-designed lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, inaugurated in 2017, was the result of a cooperation agreement signed between France and China for research into emerging diseases. In this second report into the history of the lab, Jacques Massey details how the agreement became a controversial issue within France’s government and intelligence agencies, notably because of the involvement of the Chinese military in scientific research, and the wider background of the accident-prone development of biological weapons.

The strange saga of how France helped build Wuhan's top-security virus lab

By and Jacques Massey
French prime minister Bernard Cazeneuve during the inauguration of the laboratory at Wuhan, February 23rd 2017. © AFP/Johannes Eisele French prime minister Bernard Cazeneuve during the inauguration of the laboratory at Wuhan, February 23rd 2017. © AFP/Johannes Eisele

The maximum-level biosafety laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the first of its kind to be built in China, and has been the centre of huge speculation since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic which originated in that city. The laboratory, which is equipped to handle Class 4 pathogens (P4) including dangerous viruses such as Ebola, was built with the help of French experts and under the guidance of French billionaire businessman Alain Mérieux, despite strong objections by health and defence officials in Paris. Since the laboratory's inauguration by prime minister Bernard Cazeneuve in 2017, however, France has had no supervisory role in the running of the facility and planned cooperation between French researchers and the laboratory has come to a grinding halt. Karl Laske and Jacques Massey report.

Police watchdog targets Mediapart's sources over story that implicates President Macron

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The activist Geneviève Legay on the ground having been knocked over by a police officer on March 23rd, 2019, in Nice. © Valery HACHE/AFP The activist Geneviève Legay on the ground having been knocked over by a police officer on March 23rd, 2019, in Nice. © Valery HACHE/AFP

In the spring of 2019 Mediapart journalist Pascale Pascariello revealed the lies told by a state prosecutor and President Emmanuel Macron himself over a case involving an activist in her 70s who was injured during a protest amid allegations of police violence. This week, on Tuesday 26th May, the reporter was questioned as a potential suspect by the police body which investigates police actions, the Inspection Générale de la Police Nationale (IGPN). The alleged offence is receiving information passed on as a result of a breach of professional confidentiality. As Mediapart's Fabrice Arfi writes, it is the fourth time in under 18 months that the legal system has targeted Mediapart's sources following investigations that have proved embarrassing for the government.

Doubts over legality of law to tackle France's serial lockdown breakers

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The number of police checks and fines handed out in the Paris region for breaching lockdown rules. © Mediapart The number of police checks and fines handed out in the Paris region for breaching lockdown rules. © Mediapart

To ensure that citizens complied with the Coronavirus lockdown introduced on March 17th 2020, the French government drew up legislation to make breaches of the rules a criminal offence. But lawyers and academics have raised concerns as to whether part of that legislation – which can lead to jail for anyone who breaches the rules more than three times in a month – is constitutional. France's top constitutional authority, the Conseil Constitutionnel or Constitutional Council, is due to rule on the issue in June. Meanwhile there have been more than 1,500 criminal cases involving repeat offenders and a number of people have already been jailed. Camille Polloni reports.

The French equestrian world's blinkered approach to child sex abuse

By Quentin Müller, Margaux Solinas
The Jardy equestrian centre near Paris, June 2014. © Christophe Bricot / DPPI via AFP The Jardy equestrian centre near Paris, June 2014. © Christophe Bricot / DPPI via AFP

After decades of silence, the victims of child sex abuse in France's equestrian world are finally telling their stories. In some cases the offenders' suspect behaviour was known to other members of the close-knit horse riding and racing community, who nonetheless chose to say nothing. Meanwhile the president of the France's main riding federation has denied claims that he turned a blind eye to what was going on in the industry. Quentin Müller and Margaux Solinas report.

'Disease and disaster': the clichéd view that ex-colonial powers still have of Africa

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Souleymane Bachir Diagne, a philosopher from Senegal who is currently living and working in the United States, has spoken out about the current global health crisis and the inequalities and prejudice that it has revealed and the outdated thinking it has exposed about Africa. In an interview with Mediapart's Rachida El Azzouzi the academic discusses why so many observers still only discuss the continent through the prism of disease and disaster. Souleymane Bachir Diagne explains that despite many of them having a colonial past, developed countries of the North do not really know modern Africa and the progress it has made in recent decades. He calls on African countries and people to proclaim their achievements to the rest of the world, and talks of the need to 'decolonise' our minds.

How lockdown threatens to burst French football's speculative financial bubble

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Most top-flight French football clubs are set to make an operating loss this season. © Document Mediapart Most top-flight French football clubs are set to make an operating loss this season. © Document Mediapart

The Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP), which runs the top-tier professional football leagues in France, has voted to obtain a 224.5 million-euro loan from the French state to help out its member clubs, especially those in the elite Ligue 1 division. But even despite this help some clubs are on the brink of going into administration. Mediapart can reveal confidential documents which show the risky nature of the loan arrangement, which the state agreed to without making any solvency checks. As Laurent Mauduit writes, there is a risk that French taxpayers could end up having to pay the bill for the excesses of the football industry.

How virus crisis is changing the face - and politics - of French society

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People in Bordeaux, south-west France, applauding health sector workers from their balconies on May 6th 2020. © AFP/Hans Lucas People in Bordeaux, south-west France, applauding health sector workers from their balconies on May 6th 2020. © AFP/Hans Lucas

The ongoing Coronavirus health crisis facing France is leading to unprecedented political change. Large sections of society are on the march: taking charge of their own professions themselves and setting up numerous support structures and initiatives. And as François Bonnet argues in this op-ed article, this sudden land grab of some very political arenas by new groups has left society's traditional  institutions and political forces flat-footed.

IKEA France and former bosses to stand trial over spying charges

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An IKEA store in France. © DR An IKEA store in France. © DR

The Swedish furniture retail giant IKEA is accused of having set up a system of spying to obtain confidential information on job applicants, staff - including trade union representatives - and customers in France. Now, after eight years of investigation, judges have ordered that IKEA France should stand trial on spying charges in its own right as a corporation. Fifteen people, including two former chief executives of the French corporation, Jean-Louis Baillot and Stefan Vanoverbeke, are also to face trial. The allegations include claims that data on individuals was illegally obtained from French police files via police officers. Mediapart's legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan reports.

How Covid-19 spread through France while doctors' warnings were ignored

By , , Alexander Abdelilah, Guillaume Krempp and Robert Schmidt (We Report)
The Albert-Schweitzer hospital in the town of Colmar, north-east France, which was almost entirely devoted to Covid-19 cases in March and April. © Sébastien BOZON / AFP The Albert-Schweitzer hospital in the town of Colmar, north-east France, which was almost entirely devoted to Covid-19 cases in March and April. © Sébastien BOZON / AFP

The number of people infected by the Covid-19 virus in France had already reached epidemic proportions in February, weeks before the lockdown on public movement was introduced, this investigation by Mediapart reveals. Research now being carried out by doctors even suggests that the very first cases of the coronavirus appeared in the country in mid-November of last year. But the restrictive measures limiting testing for the virus hid the reality of its propagation, which has to date claimed more than 28,000 lives.

The virus crisis for Senegal's fishing industry

Sanofi vaccine row: a patent betrayal of the common good

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Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson. © ERIC PIERMONT / AFP Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson. © ERIC PIERMONT / AFP

The chief executive of French pharma giant Sanofi sparked outrage this week when he declared that the US would be first in line for a vaccine his group was developing against the Covid-19 virus. In this op-ed article, Martine Orange argues the move by Sanofi reveals the immoral reality of the pharma business which, instead of serving the common good, has embarked on a profit-seeking commercial war over the coronavirus.

French child protection services warn of 'massive' abuse under lockdown

By Sophie Boutboul
File photo. © Roos Koole / ANP via AFP File photo. © Roos Koole / ANP via AFP

As France this week stepped out of the public lockdown measures, lifted after two months during which families have been largely confined to their homes, child protection professionals fear the discovery of what one judge predicted will prove to be a “massive” rise in cases of abuse of children at home. As Sophie Boutboul reports, social workers, associations, magistrates and child psychologists are readying for a horrific count, including “invisible murders” of infants under the lockdown.

Infectious disease expert Didier Sicard on lessons of the virus crisis and the need to re-think healthcare policy

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A leading specialist in infectious diseases, French doctor Didier Sicard was for many years head of internal medicine at the Cochin public hospital in Paris, helped establish the Pasteur Institute’s branch in Laos, south-east Asia, and served for eight years as head of France’s national bioethics advisory committee. In this interview with Joseph Confavreux, he offers his insight into the current Covid-19 virus pandemic – a phenomenon he warned against long ago –  including the perpetuating root causes of the crisis, the action needed to avoid a recurrence, why medicine can only be effective if it encompasses a wide view of society, and how public health policy has lost sight of its fundamental missions.