THE BATTLE FOR FRANCE

THE BATTLE FOR FRANCE

Yesterday, the French government suspended a proposed hike in carbon taxes amid a mounting wave of protests and violence across the country.


The about-face is a major defeat for President Macron, who rode to power 18 months ago on the promise to take on France's sclerotic political and economic institutions.

The extent of the defeat and what the decision means for France and the EU more broadly remains to be seen. Here are the two crucial questions to keep an eye on:

Will the pause appease protesters? The protests have been fueled by a deep resentment with the French political system that goes beyond the narrow issue of higher gasoline prices. They may not be so easily quelled. President Macron, once the leader of his own political insurrection, has become a symbol of the establishment. That's a perception that can't be fixed through a minor change in policy, and protests are set to continue this weekend.

What does it mean France and the EU? Mr. Macron's government now faces its own pocketbook problem–it can no longer count on the $3.3 billion in revenue expected from the tax. That will make it tougher for it to bring its budget in line with EU-mandated rules and could force it to delay changes to the pension and housing systems that would boost the economy and benefit the very middle-class citizens who've taken to the streets. Problems at home could also make it harder for Macron to pursue much-needed reforms to the EU that have so far made little progress.

The bottom line: In the coming days, Macron will portray the protesters as an unruly mob intent on sowing disorder; the protesters will paint him as the enemy of the people. This is only the beginning of pitched battle for France's future.

"I knew that history was my life's calling."

On Bank of America's That Made All the Difference podcast, Secretary of the Smithsonian Lonnie Bunch shares his journey and present-day work creating exhibits that inspire visitors to help our country live up to its ideals.

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

What is going on in Bosnia with Bosnian Serbs boycotting all major institutions?

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Viktor Orbán, Hungary's far-right populist prime minister, likes to shock people. It's part of his political appeal. Orbán has proudly proclaimed that he is an "illiberal" leader" creating a frenzy in Brussels because Hungary is a member of the European Union.

It's been over a decade since the 58-year old whom some have dubbed "the Trump before Trump" became prime minister. In that time he has, critics say, hollowed out Hungary's governing institutions and eroded the state's democratic characteristics.

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In countries with access to COVID vaccines, the main challenge now is to convince those hesitant about the jab to roll up their sleeves, and this has become even more urgent given the spread of the more contagious delta variant. So, where are there more vaccine skeptics, and how do they compare to total COVID deaths per million in each nation? We take a look at a group of large economies where jabs are available, yet (in some cases) not everyone wants one.

Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

QR codes are everywhere. Are they also tracking my personal data?

Well, a QR code is like a complex barcode that may be on a printed ad or product package for you to scan and access more information. For example, to look at a menu without health risk or for two-factor verification of a bank payment. And now also as an integral part of covid and vaccine registration. QR codes can lead to tracking metadata or personal data. And when your phone scans and takes you to a website, certainly the tracking starts there. Now, one big trap is that people may not distinguish one kind of use of QR codes from another and that they cannot be aware of the risks of sharing their data.

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Now that the Tokyo Olympics are finally underway, your Signal crew will be bringing you some intriguing, uplifting, and quirky bits of color from a Games like no other…

Today we've got— the best freakout celebrations!

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