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Macron’s ‘grand debate’ comes under fire from French opposition

A day before French President Emmanuel Macron is due to kick off a promised grand national debate, the government and opposition are quarrelling over its content. In a 2,300-word letter addressed to the French public published late on Sunday, Macron wrote that the public consultation will discuss the nation’s “essential questions” in order to quell…

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Macron’s ‘grand debate’ comes under fire from French opposition

A day before French President Emmanuel Macron is due to kick off a promised grand national debate, the government and opposition are quarrelling over its content.

In a 2,300-word letter addressed to the French public published late on Sunday, Macron wrote that the public consultation will discuss the nation’s “essential questions” in order to quell the Yellow Vest protest movement that has been taking place since mid-December.

“For me, there are no forbidden questions,” Macron wrote, but warned that the government “will not go back on the measures taken” to lower taxes and encourage investment.

Responding to Macron’s letter, the leading radical-left candidate for this year’s European elections has accused Macron of wanting to rule out “the questions that are uncomfortable”.

Macron wanted to take questions such as restoring a wealth tax partly abolished last year off the agenda, Manon Aubry of the La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) party told broadcaster BFMTV on Monday.

The right-wing and far-right opposition also criticised Macron’s debate plans. 

The centrist, pro-business president was due to officially launch the debate on Tuesday in a meeting with mayors from across the northern Normandy region.
The consultation process, to be held from January 15 to March 15, is the latest step in Macron’s attempts to placate the yellow vest protesters. It was announced in mid-December along with a package of tax and spending measures aimed mainly at lower-paid workers and pensioners.
So far his concessions appear to have had limited impact, with tens of thousands of protesters – many wearing the bright yellow safety vests that have become the movement’s symbol – again taking to the streets in Paris and other cities on Saturday.

‘President of the rich’

The largely leaderless movement, initially launched to oppose planned fuel tax hikes, has broadened its demands to issues to do with the cost of living and more direct forms of democracy since the fuel tax hikes were scrapped by the government.
Socialist Party leader Olivier Faure also called on Twitter for a referendum on the reinstatement of the wealth tax, replaced in Macron’s first budget by a tax only on real estate wealth.

The tax change was a Macron campaign promise aimed at increasing investment by the wealthy but it has made it harder for him to shake off accusations from the left that he is the “president of the rich”.

Al Jazeera’s Natacha Butler, reporting from Paris, said that the protesters feel they don’t have enough of a say in the way France is run.

“They feel that their government is part of this metropolitan elite that is out of touch with their concerns,” Butler said.

“There are many protesters who say this is nothing more than a PR exercise because they say the letter doesn’t detail how this information is going to be collated and how it is going to be used.”

Many people are wondering what the point is, since Macron has made it clear he won’t discuss old reforms such as changing the speed limit and scrapping the wealth tax, Butler explained.

“Those are very controversial and unpopular reforms with many of the yellow vest protesters. For them, they are saying that this debate is already off to a bad start,” Butler said. 

Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire defended the government’s position on Monday, insisting that France was “well behind” in innovation and the digital economy, and needed to encourage investment.
The government’s approach of reducing taxation on capital wealth was “not in order to give presents to anyone, but to allow us to relaunch innovation in our country and to succeed in the economic war we are currently facing,” Le Maire argued.
Le Maire said the key question to be answered in the debate was: “What public spending are you prepared to cut down so that we can reduce your taxes?”
“Our taxes are too heavy and too numerous,” Le Maire said in a New Year’s speech to the press.

SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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Two Israeli doctors infected with omicron, hospital says

BEIRUT: Demonstrators blocked roads across parts of Lebanon on Monday in protest at the country’s economic meltdown, days after its currency sank to new lows. There has been little progress since Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government was appointed in September after more than a year of political deadlock. Roads were blocked by piles of burning…

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Two Israeli doctors infected with omicron, hospital says

BEIRUT: Demonstrators blocked roads across parts of Lebanon on Monday in protest at the country’s economic meltdown, days after its currency sank to new lows.

There has been little progress since Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government was appointed in September after more than a year of political deadlock.

Roads were blocked by piles of burning tires in central Beirut, Tripoli in northern Lebanon and the southern city of Sidon.

Schools were forced to close in Beirut after the protests made them inaccessible to students. Protesters in the city’s southern suburbs, meanwhile, blocked the road to the airport in front of Al-Aytam station.

Less than 24 hours before the Beirut protests, residents of Ali Al-Nahri, in the Bekaa Valley, launched their own protests, shouting “we are cold and hungry.”

A spokesperson for the protesters said: “We will take to the streets more frequently in the coming days unless the governing authority put a stop to the deteriorating living conditions the Lebanese are facing.”

He added: “The people of Beirut are noble. They are fighting extremely hard for their city and their livelihood.

“They are not thieves, and today’s move does not have any political, electoral, parliamentary or ministerial dimension. Its sole purpose is the livelihood of citizens after a large number of students now go to school without any food.”

In a UNICEF report published last week, the agency said: “More than 30 percent of families have at least one child in Lebanon who skipped a meal, while 77 percent of families say they lack sufficient food and 60 percent of them buy food by accumulating unpaid bills or borrowing money.”

The protests coincided with President Michel Aoun’s visit to Qatar to attend the opening of the FIFA Arab Cup and inaugurate the new Olympic Stadium.

The president discussed Lebanon’s economic meltdown and unprecedented diplomatic crisis with Gulf states during his talks with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

Al-Thani reiterated Qatar’s readiness to help in all areas needed for the rise of Lebanon from the “difficult circumstances it is going through.”

He announced that Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani will visit Beirut in the coming period, to follow up on the developments and provide the country with necessary assistance.

He hoped for “a resolution for the crisis between Lebanon and a number of Gulf states in the near future, especially as Lebanon has always stood by all the Arab and Gulf states.”

Aoun welcomed any “investment from Qatar to implement developmental projects in Lebanon in the area of energy, electricity and banking, where there are many opportunities.”

Qatar will continue to stand by the Lebanese people and to do anything in its power to alleviate their suffering, said the president.

“There was a consensus that this phase needs the brotherly Arab states, especially the Gulf states, to stand by Lebanon,” said Aoun.

He pointed out that the Lebanese-Gulf relations “always were, and must remain, based on mutual fraternity.”

Aoun stressed the need to overcome any defects in these ties, notably because Lebanon desires to the best relations with brotherly states.

“My presence in Doha today only confirms our commitment to those relations and our genuine desire to cooperate on keeping them serene and restoring them to a normal state, thus serving Lebanon and the brotherly Gulf states,” he said.

Aoun’s remarks came as Maronite Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi took a firm position against “attempts to change Lebanon in order to impose a new governing formula by force or persuasion.”

In a televised speech broadcast on Monday, Al-Rahi touched on the secretary-general of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, reprimanding judicial authorities, asking: “Is he above the judicial authority?”

Al-Rahi said the country “is highly influenced by Hezbollah.”

He asked: “In contrast, where is the state and where is the president of the republic? Why are they submissive if someone is intimidating us?”

He noted that “the one disrupting the government is practically disrupting the life of the homeland and causing the hunger of citizens.”

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Iran makes maximalist demands as Vienna nuclear talks open

BEIRUT: Demonstrators blocked roads across parts of Lebanon on Monday in protest at the country’s economic meltdown, days after its currency sank to new lows. There has been little progress since Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government was appointed in September after more than a year of political deadlock. Roads were blocked by piles of burning…

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Iran makes maximalist demands as Vienna nuclear talks open

BEIRUT: Demonstrators blocked roads across parts of Lebanon on Monday in protest at the country’s economic meltdown, days after its currency sank to new lows.

There has been little progress since Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government was appointed in September after more than a year of political deadlock.

Roads were blocked by piles of burning tires in central Beirut, Tripoli in northern Lebanon and the southern city of Sidon.

Schools were forced to close in Beirut after the protests made them inaccessible to students. Protesters in the city’s southern suburbs, meanwhile, blocked the road to the airport in front of Al-Aytam station.

Less than 24 hours before the Beirut protests, residents of Ali Al-Nahri, in the Bekaa Valley, launched their own protests, shouting “we are cold and hungry.”

A spokesperson for the protesters said: “We will take to the streets more frequently in the coming days unless the governing authority put a stop to the deteriorating living conditions the Lebanese are facing.”

He added: “The people of Beirut are noble. They are fighting extremely hard for their city and their livelihood.

“They are not thieves, and today’s move does not have any political, electoral, parliamentary or ministerial dimension. Its sole purpose is the livelihood of citizens after a large number of students now go to school without any food.”

In a UNICEF report published last week, the agency said: “More than 30 percent of families have at least one child in Lebanon who skipped a meal, while 77 percent of families say they lack sufficient food and 60 percent of them buy food by accumulating unpaid bills or borrowing money.”

The protests coincided with President Michel Aoun’s visit to Qatar to attend the opening of the FIFA Arab Cup and inaugurate the new Olympic Stadium.

The president discussed Lebanon’s economic meltdown and unprecedented diplomatic crisis with Gulf states during his talks with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

Al-Thani reiterated Qatar’s readiness to help in all areas needed for the rise of Lebanon from the “difficult circumstances it is going through.”

He announced that Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani will visit Beirut in the coming period, to follow up on the developments and provide the country with necessary assistance.

He hoped for “a resolution for the crisis between Lebanon and a number of Gulf states in the near future, especially as Lebanon has always stood by all the Arab and Gulf states.”

Aoun welcomed any “investment from Qatar to implement developmental projects in Lebanon in the area of energy, electricity and banking, where there are many opportunities.”

Qatar will continue to stand by the Lebanese people and to do anything in its power to alleviate their suffering, said the president.

“There was a consensus that this phase needs the brotherly Arab states, especially the Gulf states, to stand by Lebanon,” said Aoun.

He pointed out that the Lebanese-Gulf relations “always were, and must remain, based on mutual fraternity.”

Aoun stressed the need to overcome any defects in these ties, notably because Lebanon desires to the best relations with brotherly states.

“My presence in Doha today only confirms our commitment to those relations and our genuine desire to cooperate on keeping them serene and restoring them to a normal state, thus serving Lebanon and the brotherly Gulf states,” he said.

Aoun’s remarks came as Maronite Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi took a firm position against “attempts to change Lebanon in order to impose a new governing formula by force or persuasion.”

In a televised speech broadcast on Monday, Al-Rahi touched on the secretary-general of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, reprimanding judicial authorities, asking: “Is he above the judicial authority?”

Al-Rahi said the country “is highly influenced by Hezbollah.”

He asked: “In contrast, where is the state and where is the president of the republic? Why are they submissive if someone is intimidating us?”

He noted that “the one disrupting the government is practically disrupting the life of the homeland and causing the hunger of citizens.”

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Kuwait Times Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Daily E- Paper – Kuwait Times   Click above icon to download full news paper   The post Kuwait Times Tuesday, November 30, 2021 appeared first on Kuwait Times.

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Kuwait Times Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Daily E- Paper – Kuwait Times

 

Click above icon to download full news paper

 

The post Kuwait Times Tuesday, November 30, 2021 appeared first on Kuwait Times.

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