Macron launches reform of 'moth-eaten' welfare system

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Emmanuel Macron speaking in Montpellier, June 13th 2018. © DR Emmanuel Macron speaking in Montpellier, June 13th 2018. © DR

French President Emmanuel Macron this week presented a broad outline of a future reform of the country’s welfare system, in a speech to a congress of health insurance companies. Beyond an announcement of measures to facilitate access to certain types of healthcare and boost the prevention of illness, Macron said the current welfare system, which he described as “moth-eaten”, was a failed model, but insisted the solutions to its problems “cannot be budgetary”. Attacking poverty, he said, can only succeed by making people “responsible” for their lives. Manuel Jardinaud analyses the president’s speech and concludes that behind the catchphrases and carefully avoided issues emerges Macron’s strategy for the dismantling of France’s cherished social protection system.

How France's anti-fake news law in fact threatens the truth

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The 'Macron Leaks' data dump came 48 hours before Emmanuel Macron faced the final contest against far-right leader Marine Le Pen. © Reuters The 'Macron Leaks' data dump came 48 hours before Emmanuel Macron faced the final contest against far-right leader Marine Le Pen. © Reuters

The French government has drafted legislation, dubbed the “anti-fake news law”, aimed at combatting the proliferation of false information during election campaigns. It was prompted by a mass data dump of confidential emails and fake documents relating to Emmanuel Macron and his campaign staff shortly before the final round of last year’s presidential elections, which became known as the “Macron Leaks”. The bill, which would empower judges to order the de-publication of information ruled to be fake, and even to block foreign media in France, has created such controversy that the parliamentary debates have now been postponed until later this summer to allow for more than 200 amendments to be considered. Here, Fabrice Arfi and Antton Rouget argue why the new legislation, if it becomes law, would in fact severely curb the freedom of the press, as in fact demonstrated by the very history of the “Macron Leaks”.

Study finds inequality in France remained stable during economic crisis

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The French national institute of statistics and economic studies, INSEE, this week published its yearly report on the wealth and income of households in France. This latest study concerns 2015, and demonstrates that inequalities in living standards actually fell slightly in the seven-year period after the outbreak of the financial and economic crises. Romaric Godin reports.

Why Macron's chief of staff is target of corruption probe

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Alexis Kohler at the Elysée Palace, January 3rd 2018. © Reuters Alexis Kohler at the Elysée Palace, January 3rd 2018. © Reuters

The French prosecution services have launched an investigation into suspected corruption by President Emmanuel Macron’s chief of staff Alexis Kohler, following an official complaint lodged by anti-corruption NGO Anticor. The complaint cited revelations last month by Mediapart into Kohler’s role, when he was a senior civil servant, in affairs in which the interests of a shipping company owned by members of his close family were at stake. Mediapart’s Martine Orange, who first broke the story, details here the background to the case that now threatens the downfall of the man described by French daily Le Monde as “the most powerful senior civil servant in France”.

Election observer missions tainted by 'sexual predators'

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Vehicles from a European Union election monitoring team mission. © EU Vehicles from a European Union election monitoring team mission. © EU

More allegations of international aid workers’ sexual exploitation of the vulnerable people they are assigned to help were revealed last week in a mothballed United Nations report into the extent of an alleged ‘food for sex’ scandal involving numerous NGOs. The Times report followed revelations earlier this year by the paper about how Oxfam covered up evidence that its staff were involved in sex parties with prostitutes during operations in quake-devastated Haiti. But the scandalous behaviour of some involved in worthy international missions is not limited to the humanitarian sphere, as revealed by Fabien Offner in this report into the allegations of the conduct of staff involved in election monitoring missions, and in particular that of some EU election observers in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006.

Libyan funding: Sarkozy clan's secret plan to clear man behind airliner bombing

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Security chief Abdullah Senussi  in August 2011, just before the fall of the Libyan regime under Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. © Reuters Security chief Abdullah Senussi in August 2011, just before the fall of the Libyan regime under Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. © Reuters

According to documents gathered by an elected official in Tripoli, in 2005 Nicolas Sarkozy's close friend and personal lawyer Thierry Herzog offered to get an arrest warrant and conviction against a senior Libyan official – who was blamed for a terrorist attack - quashed. The man in question, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's brother-in-law and security chief Abdullah Senussi, had been jailed for life in his absence for masterminding the 1989 bombing of a French UTA airline DC10 passenger plane over Niger, in which 170 people lost their lives. The documents, seen by Mediapart, also show that Herzog was taken to Tripoli to discuss the affair by Francis Szpiner, the lawyer for the victims of the attack, though the latter has denied making the trip. The revelations point to a potential quid pro quo to explain why the Libyan regime would have been willing to help fund Sarkozy's 2007 presidential campaign, claims over which the former president is being investigated. Karl Laske and Fabrice Arfi report.

How Chrysler, Nissan and Jaguar Land Rover also hiked car spare part prices

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Chrysler cars at the Detroit car show in January 2016. © Reuters Chrysler cars at the Detroit car show in January 2016. © Reuters

Renault and PSA Peugeot Citroën are not the only car makers to have used the same software to increase the prices of their spare parts. Mediapart, working with the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC), Reuters and Belgian daily De Standaard, can reveal that 31 different car makers were approached to use the software and that at least three of them, Nissan, Jaguar Land Rover and Chrysler, have employed it to boost revenue. Between them these five huge automobile manufacturers have raked in an extra 2.6 billion euros from motorists around the world. Yann Philippin reports.

How Renault and PSA Peugeot Citroën secretly hiked global cost of spare parts by €1.5bn

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Carlos Ghosn, left, the CEO of Renault, and Carlos Tavares, chairman of the board at PSA Peugeot Citroën. © Reuters Carlos Ghosn, left, the CEO of Renault, and Carlos Tavares, chairman of the board at PSA Peugeot Citroën. © Reuters

Confidential documents obtained by Mediapart and the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) show that the French car makers Renault and PSA Peugeot Citroën artificially inflated the already high cost of spares parts for motorists around the world. The manufacturers made use of a special software to increase the prices by an average of 15%. It is estimated the practice cost consumers  around 1.5 billion euros over nearly ten years. Yann Philippin reports.

Ex-Sarkozy campaign treasurer Woerth faces probe over Libyan funding affair

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Under investigation: Éric Woerth. © Reuters Under investigation: Éric Woerth. © Reuters

The current chairman of the powerful finance committee at the National Assembly, Éric Woerth, has been placed under formal investigation over the affair involving Libyan funding of Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 election campaign. Member of Parliament Woerth, who was treasurer of Sarkozy's campaign and later budget minister, faces an investigation over “collusion in illicit financing of an election campaign”. It is claim he concealed a massive influx of cash in the campaign accounts. Former president Nicolas Sarkozy is already under investigation in relation to the affair. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.

Serge Dassault: a symbol of French-style capitalism

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Serge Dassault in 1999 posing next to a Rafale jet at the Le Bourget air show north of Paris. © Reuters Serge Dassault in 1999 posing next to a Rafale jet at the Le Bourget air show north of Paris. © Reuters

Serge Dassault, who died on May 28th, 2018, at the age of 93, was a billionaire industrialist in the aviation sector, a former Senator and mayor, and the owner of the conservative daily newspaper Le Figaro. Prevented from having a major role the family business empire until the death of his father, Serge Dassault was driven by ambition and the desire to surpass what Marcel Dassault achieved. But despite his undoubted business successes, Serge Dassault's own legacy was tarnished by corruption affairs and allegations of buying votes, and he was convicted of tax fraud in 2017. Mediapart's Yann Philippin, who has spent many years reporting on the 'Dassault method', reports.

Hindu nationalism and why 'being a philosopher in India can get you killed'

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India’s ruling nationalist Hindu party, the BJP, swept to power in 2014 after a landslide victory in parliamentary elections – the first time a single party had won an outright majority in the Indian parliament in 30 years, propelling Hindu hardliner Narendra Modi as prime minister of the world’s largest democracy. Joseph Confavreux turned to two young Indian philosophers, Shaj Mohan and Divya Dwivedi, for their analysis of what they call the “invention” of Hinduism, and why they argue that “being a philosopher in India can get you killed”.

The facts of the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17

By Marcus Bensman, David Crawford, CORRECT!V
Wreckage from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 found in eastern Ukraine on July 17th 2014. © CORRECT!V Wreckage from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 found in eastern Ukraine on July 17th 2014. © CORRECT!V

An international investigation has concluded that the destruction of a Malaysia Airlines flight linking Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur over eastern Ukraine in July 2014, which killed all 298 passengers and crew aboard, was caused by a missile from a Russian army anti-aircraft brigade, confirming a report published by Mediapart just six months after the horrific events. The attack occurred over territory held by pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists at the height of the secessionist conflict with the Ukraine government.  The Joint International Team investigation, involving officials from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine, have found that the missile which destroyed the plane “came from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade based in Kursk in Russia”, just as the investigation by Mediapart media partner CORRECT!V had pieced together in this detailed report first published in January 2015.

Border policing practices slammed after drowning of Nigerian woman in French Alps

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A photo of Blessing Matthew taken several years ago in Nigeria. © MM A photo of Blessing Matthew taken several years ago in Nigeria. © MM

Earlier this month the body of a 20-year-old Nigerian woman was found floating in the river Durance, in the foothills of the French Alps. Blessing Matthew had crossed illegally into France from Italy along a treacherous route of mountain passes increasingly used by desperate migrants. From witness accounts, it appears likely that Blessing drowned in the icy waters of the Durance while attempting to escape from one of the frequent border patrols which local migrant support groups say employ dangerously heavy-handed methods. One week later, the body of a man believed to be a migrant was found on a nearby mountainside. Mathilde Mathieu reports from the Alpine region where it is feared the springtime thaw may reveal yet more fatalities.

Why failed 1961 coup d'état is still relevant to France today

By Nicolas Lebourg

This spring has inevitably seen lots of attention devoted to the 50th anniversary of the events of May 1968 in France and the accompanying social upheaval. Largely forgotten, however, is another springtime event dating from just a few years before – the failed coup attempt by French generals in Algiers on April 21st, 1961. Yet as historian Nicolas Lebourg points out, the way France's secret services and police handled that plot and its aftermath has important lessons for current events in France.

Plot thickens over Russian bank loan to Marine Le Pen's Front National

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The Russian loan contract signed by the head of the bank Roman Popov and Front National treasurer Wallerand de Saint-Just. © Document Mediapart The Russian loan contract signed by the head of the bank Roman Popov and Front National treasurer Wallerand de Saint-Just. © Document Mediapart

Mediapart has obtained a copy of the contract for the 9 million euro loan that a Russian bank gave to France's far-right Front National (FN) in 2014. The document answers some of the questions in this murky affair but many remain. The bank later went bankrupt, its former director is wanted for alleged misappropriation of funds, the FN's loan has been sold on at least twice, and it is still not clear to whom it has to be repaid. Marine Turchi and Agathe Duparc report.