French Government Loses Fourth Minister Amid Corruption Claims

  • Francois Bayrou was a close ally of Emmanuel Macron and helped him rise to the presidency.

    Francois Bayrou was a close ally of Emmanuel Macron and helped him rise to the presidency. | Photo: AFP

Published 21 June 2017
The scandal comes weeks after recently-elected President Emmanuel Macron promised to usher in a new era of politics free from corruption.

Just five weeks into office, French President Emmanuel Macron lost his fourth minister on Wednesday, marking the third official from the centrist MoDem party who has quit over a funding scandal. The 14,000-member party helped bring Macron into power last month.

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Minister of Justice and MoDem leader Francois Bayrou decided to step down in order to fight allegations that his group misused European Parliament money to pay party assistants based in France. During a press conference, he claimed he was the victim of an orchestrated smear campaign, but decided to stand down to prevent “the president and the government being exposed to controversy” and “a campaign of lies,” The Guardian reported.

Minister of the Armed Services and MoDem party member Sylvie Goulard announced Tuesday that she was leaving her post to focus on combating the corruption claims. European Affairs Minister Marielle de Sarnez, also a member of MoDem, stepped down for similar reasons.

And two days ago, Richard Ferrand, a junior minister from Macron’s En Marche party, also left his government post — his resignation was made at the president’s request, after Ferrand became embroiled in a conflict of interest scandal involving his wife.

As a result, Macron replaced Goulard with little-known railway executive Florence Parly, Bayrou with constitutional lawyer Nicole Belloubet and de Sarnez with Nathalie Loiseau, director of France’s National School of Administration. The civil service school is where many of France’s political elite have studied, including Macron.

The claims against MoDem, which first emerged in the Canard Enchaine investigative newspaper, are now the subject of a preliminary investigation.

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Last Sunday’s legislative elections handed En Marche a 308-seat majority in the 577-seat National Assembly, meaning that Macron’s party does not need MoDem’s support to push legislation through parliament.

Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front party who lost to Macron in last month’s presidential election, commented that he used Bayrou to gain more votes in the presidential campaign and now “tossed him” because he does not need his party’s support in Parliament anymore.

Her own party has been investigated over similar accusations of misusing European Parliament funds to pay for staff in France.

During the presidential campaign, Macron’s conservative rival Francois Fillon was also engulfed in a separate scandal over accusations that he hired his wife and children as his parliamentary assistants with little evidence that they did any such work.

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Skating and Sisterhood: Meet ‘Brujas,’ a Feminist Collective from the Bronx

  • A screenshot from the Brujas NYC

    A screenshot from the Brujas NYC’s website | Photo: BrujasNYC

Published 21 June 2017
The collective defines itself as “an urban, free-form, creative and autonomous organization that seeks to build a radical political coalition through youth culture.”

“Brujas” a NYC-based Black and brown women and queer people skateboarding collective is breaking the stereotypes associated with a sport usually identified with men.

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The intersectional skating and activist collective that was formed in 2014 at a Bronx skatepark, was recently profiled on a recent episode of WNYC’s “The United States of Anxiety: Culture Wars” podcast.

The collective defines itself as “an urban, free-form, creative and autonomous organization that seeks to build a radical political coalition through youth culture. We express community through skateboarding, art and political organizing.”

Brujas co-founder Arianna Gil said, “Skateboarding culture is very difficult to explain to people who aren’t in it, but it’s like — you film videos with your friends, that’s part of the culture,” Colorlines reported.

Focusing on intersectional liberation and building a community, the Bronx collective is creating viable spaces for women of color and queer skaters in the city, where the conversations are about skating, fostering real sisterhood outside the societal norms and issues affecting their neighborhoods such as gentrification.

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Gil told Dazed Digital, “I always feel safe here. The only time I ever feel unsafe is when the police are here.”

“So much of our world is described through patriarchal, rigid, academic, medical ways,” Gil added.

“Traditionally behind those perspectives are just men. In traditional Indigenous cultures, which a lot of our cultures are derived from, women were in charge of health and community and motherhood and wellness and food. Not in ways that were demeaning but in ways that were powerful,” Gil said.

The collective pointed out how skateboarding is inherently political as it uses public structures for its performance, to begin with, questioning the ownership of private property.

The performance can be seen as a form of resistance as skateboarding is often associated with wreaking havoc on public spaces, in many ways it opens avenues for conversation about gentrification and colonialism.

“Skateboarding is really anti-systemic,” Natalie, a member of Brujas and an activist, who works for an immigration lawyer told Dazed Digital.

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“There is this idea of wreaking havoc on society, and turning over the status quos. But who is to say that is not a peaceful process? Because society as it is, already isn’t peaceful.”

Referring to the politics of pro-development Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Rose commented, “It’s just so clear that this stuff isn’t for the community.”

“The South Bronx is the poorest congressional district in the United States, and nothing is really being done about that.”

The name of the collective was taken from a cult 1986 video called “Skate Witches,” that features a trio of punk female skaters in leather jackets with pet rats. In the video, they are even seen pushing boys off their boards and stealing them.

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