Archive for Europe

lost years [poor infographics]

Posted in Books, pictures, Statistics with tags , , , , , on May 30, 2022 by xi'an

Le Pen election win would be disastrous for research, France and Europe [Nature editorial]

Posted in Kids, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2022 by xi'an

(…) Science is not often a big factor in France’s elections, and this one is no different. But Le Pen is appealing to scientists by pledging to repeal controversial reforms to research institutions enacted between 2007 and 2009 by centre-right president Nicolas Sarkozy — which Macron has continued. Both presidents sought to align France’s universities, research and funding systems more closely with those of the United States and the United Kingdom by giving universities more autonomy; improving links between academics and businesses; and increasing financial support for research-intensive corporations.

Sarkozy changed the law so that funders and university administrations could have more independence in making decisions. His government also provided generous tax breaks to businesses that invest in research and development.

(…) Although Le Pen’s [repeal] policy on the Sarkozy reforms might be welcomed by some researchers, National Rally’s wider programme for government will be anything but. For one, the party’s policy on restricting immigration is likely to hit collaborations with scientists in other countries. And minority communities would face severe discrimination under Le Pen. For example, she has said she wants to ban the wearing of headscarves in public by extending a law that prohibits them in [public] schools.

Furthermore, a Le Pen presidency would put France on a collision course with the EU. Her party is intending to violate European laws and regulations by restricting employment or state benefits for EU citizens from outside France; withholding payments into the EU budget; and ending free movement of people between France and its EU neighbours. Universities and research funders must also confront the possibility that a Le Pen government would seek to restrict academic freedom.

(…) Researchers should consider that any short-term gains in terms of funding would be completely outweighed by the disaster of a Le Pen win. And those dissatisfied with both presidential candidates and considering not voting at all should realize that this, too, is likely to be of benefit to Le Pen. Everyone should look at Hungary for an EU case study of what happens when a far-right leader is elected.

солідарність з Україною

Posted in pictures with tags , , , , , , on February 24, 2022 by xi'an

systemic realities?!

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2022 by xi'an

While the US Supreme Court has all but abolished Roe v. Wade, by allowing Texas to keep banning abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy, The New York Times continues to publish opinion pieces from anti-abortion editors. Like this one this weekend from an Anglican priest who can make preachifying statements like Roe v. Wade creating “realities where abortion becomes the easier choice for women who have unintended pregnancies” or where “pressure from the medical community to abort is common”… Or yet stating that “many European countries have far more restrictive abortion laws and lower abortion rates than the United States without curtailing the advancement of women.” As analysed in another NYT article,  this is also an argument made by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., ill-boding for the future of the law. This is when solely considering the cutoff of Roe v. Wade, rather than the access to abortion which proves much more inaccessible in most US States than Western Europe countries (with the exceptions of Northern Ireland, the Faroe Islands, and Malta, plus Poland), from local regulations to financial hurdles, to inexistent offer. (And I wonder at the repeated use of realities in the tribune. There is one reality and it is pretty harsh on women seeking abortion. Unless one prefers alternative facts…)

a French paradox?

Posted in Books, pictures, Statistics, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2022 by xi'an

There has been some debate (in France at least) as to why the country was one with the highest rate of infection (among West European countries), still rising [with half a million new cases reached on 25 Jan., almost 1% of the entire population].However, the increase in the number of ICU admissions has been much less dire, with hospitals still operating below maximum capacity (although in tense conditions) and a stable death rate (in the entire population) below the US and the UK rates [and therefore a decreasing fatality rate].While arguments on a much higher testing rate have been discarded, other explanations for the elevated levels of contamination include the general slackness in enforcing and respecting distanciation and protection rules, as shown below by the more limited decrease in commuting (although there are many confounding factors), and the high contamination rate among young (and not yet vaccinated) children and their unrestricted access to schools…While the vaccination rate is rather high (at 93% of people above 12 being vaccinated to some extent), it could explain for the lower fatality rate and hence for the country being one of the best achievers in terms of excess mortality.

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