There is a very sinister, hellish thing behind the tepid concern that rears its head when a country like Haiti suffers a tragedy.

As 800 people died and 90% of parts of southern Haiti were destroyed by Hurricane Matthew earlier this month, leaving whole towns flattened, and people homeless and without basic infrastructure, the trending hashtag was #PrayForFlorida.

Mobilisations are facing growing levels of police repression. Paris, September 15.

More than 170,000 workers and students joined more than 110 protests across France on September 15 against new labour laws that dramatically deregulate France’s labour code.

The situation is deteriorating in “the Jungle” — the informal settlement in the northern French port of Calais of refugees trying to reach Britain.

French police demolished the southern half earlier this year, yet the population is steadily rising and has surpassed 10,000. Neglected by governments and NGOs, the volunteers who provide food, clothing and other aid are receiving fewer donations to assist the growing population. Hunger has become prevalent, along with diseases caused by lack of sanitation.

French workers and students are set to hold a new national mobilisation against the “El Khomri” labour law, which undermines workers’ rights.

The protest is the 14th national mobilisation in the campaign against the law this year — but the first since the law was forced through parliament without a vote and since France's summer holidays.

Anyone following French politics in recent years should not be surprised by the recent explosion of public protest and resistance across the country.

For years, France has simmered with a combination of a deeply unpopular government, a limping economy and a struggling, fed up populace.

Whoever cares about an issue can stand up, write a corresponding committee name on a sheet of paper, sit on the square and start discussing the subject with others — and just like that a new committee is born.

During the protest on March 31 against France's new labour law, a few protesters handed out leaflets which read Nuit debout (“rising up at night”), echoing Etienne La Boetie's Discourse on Voluntary Servitude: “Tyrants appear great only because we are on our knees”.

Fighters in the Shadow: A New History of the French Resistance
By Robert Gildea
Faber & Faber Press, London
593 pages, 2015

Upon his inauguration on May 16, 2007, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited the Bois de Boulogne in Paris and paid homage to 35 anti-fascist resistance fighters shot by the occupying Nazis in August 1944, just before Paris was liberated.

He also read the last letter of Guy Moquet, a 17-year-old Communist, to his parents on the eve of his execution by the occupiers in 1941 along with 26 other Communist resisters.

Protest against TTIP. Hanover, Germany, April 23.

Could things get any worse for the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal between the United States and the European Union?

On May 2, a hugely damaging leak of TTIP texts confirmed exactly what everyone had feared about the deal — with all its hugely pro-corporate provisions on display for everyone to see.

Truck drivers blocked major roads across France on May 17 while angry workers and students marched through city streets. Demonstrators were protesting against the longer working hours and reduced overtime payments ordered by President Francois Hollande's government.

As news arrived yesterday of terror attacks in Paris that ultimately left more than 120 people dead, US President Barack Obama characterized the situation as “heartbreaking” and an assault “on all of humanity.”

But his presidential sympathy was conspicuously absent the previous day when terror attacks in Beirut left more than 40 dead. Predictably, Western media and social media were much less vocal about the slaughter in Lebanon.


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