Basta! in English - page 2

Building an Environmentally Sound House Cheaply, in a Week

Should construction industry giants be worried? After open-source software and the manufacture of machines and objects, the global fabber [3-D printer] community is now turning to actual open-source house construction. Providing plans and techniques that are accessible to everyone, collaborative construction and assemblage of components (from the United States to France, by way of Great Britain), a true community of “free housing” is emerging and self-organizing to revolutionize construction and its financing and to provide everyone access to more suitable housing.

By Rachel Knaebel

Europe’s “Smart Borders” Would Automatically Monitor Individuals

Walls and wire fences are not all that’s being built at Europe’s borders. The European Commission and Security Companies dream of “smart borders”: a multitude of automated and interconnected files and control apparatuses able to follow each individual. The program’s objective? Counter-terrorism and keeping migrants out. But these structures — the effectiveness of which remains to be demonstrated — risk straining public finances, while threatening civil liberties and private life, should some states decide to pass from border control of each person to surveillance of everybody

By Aline Fontaine, Morgane Remy

Communities affected by oil palm plantations block Bolloré group’s shareholder meeting

Blockades are popular these days in France. This time, it was the turn of the Bolloré group, located in Puteaux (Hauts-de-seine), to experience this form of protest. For nearly three hours on the morning of 3 June, around a hundred protesters peacefully blockaded the entrances to the headquarters of one of the country’s most powerful companies. Protestors challenged Bolloré shareholders as they attempted to enter their meeting.

By Eros Sana

Straw Bale Schools and Public Buildings: Greener and Cheaper than Concrete

Instead of concrete and fibreglass, what about opting for straw? An inexpensive, readily-available insulation material that is both renowned for its high performance and for being environmentally friendly. Although for a long time it was used primarily for houses, straw is now being successfully put to use in public buildings, schools, kindergartens and community halls with an increasing number of experiments in both cities and rural areas thanks to a few proactive councillors. And since 2012, an official building code on straw constructions is available, which consulting firms and insurance companies can refer to. But these projects would not see the light of day without the motivation and determination of local councillors and building professionals. An encounter with the pioneers of the low-carbon buildings of the future.

By Jean de Peña, Nolwenn Weiler

Euro 2016: Nike and Adidas Dodge “Social Responsibility” in their Quest to Pay the Bare Minimum

How many Vietnamese workers is Cristiano Ronaldo worth, according to Nike? How many Chinese workers is Adidas’ sponsorship contract with the German team worth? Global sportswear brands have spent massive amounts on advertising and sponsorship for the Euro 2016 championship. Basta! and Alternatives économiques investigated what happens at the other end of the chain, where workers make shoes or jerseys for players and their fans. Despite the rhetoric about “social responsibility”, these major brands are still engaged in a race to the bottom. They are now leaving China – where wages are on the rise – for countries with even lower “labour costs”.

By Germain Lefebvre, Ivan du Roy

How One French Town Combines Welcome for Migrants, Ecology and Social Emancipation

Grande-Synthe, in the north of France, is one of the very few French towns that welcome hundreds of migrants with dignity and respect. Despite 28 percent unemployment of its active population and a third of households living below the poverty line, Grande-Synthe is also a place where ambitious environmental and social policies are conducted. Mayor Damien Carême and his team support a popular university in the service of the town’s residents, have created the first renewable energy stadium in France and are building an eco-neighborhood accessible to the poor. Their political resolution is compounded by solidarity with refugees en route to the United Kingdom, making the experience of Grande-Synthe’s refugees very different from the fate reserved for migrants in Calais’ nearby seedy shantytowns.

By Olivier Favier

Great Barrier Reef and the Amazon Rainforest Among Outstanding Natural Sites Under Threat from French Multinationals

Half of World Heritage sites are currently threatened by industrial development, and the oil and mining sectors pose a particular threat. So many invaluable sites and biodiversity sanctuaries face being wiped off the map just because we are unable to do anything about our voracious model of development. Several French transnational corporations are among those involved in projects that could herald the end of these exceptional sites. Some of the sites facing destruction include national parks in Africa, the Arctic islands, virgin forests in Asia, and the Amazon Basin.

By Olivier Petitjean (Observatoire des multinationales)

France’s Blatant Disregard for the Health of its People – How the Government and Lobby Groups have been Pushing Diesel Cars

The large majority of France’s car fleet runs on diesel, despite its lamentable health effects and the enormous costs involved for society. But who is to blame? Since the eighties, political authorities, industrial figures and transport professionals have persistently backed the diesel engine even though its emissions have always been recognized as extremely harmful – and even carcinogenic. And the evidence continues to mount against it. But the French government recently announced an increase in the price of diesel. After thirty years going backwards, is there hope that things will finally change?

By Nolwenn Weiler

With community input, health centers in France experiment with a holistic model

Within the last few years, a little network of health centers unlike any other has been forged all through working-class neighborhoods in France. “Health Space,” “Health Square” and “Massilia Health System” are all projects conceived by social workers, doctors and residents who want to prove that it’s possible to provide health care in a different way, without endless prescriptions and assembly-line consultations. With a leitmotif: If health is determined by the social environment, then access to social rights and services is as important as health care. If it gets financing, this promising model could well have a significant impact.

By Sarah Bosquet

When Prisons, Inmates and Detention Policies Become Investment Products

More than a third of prisons in France are partly run by private companies. The trend towards privatising the prison system, which began three decades ago, is gaining in momentum. A handful of companies are capitalising on this very lucrative market, providing services that include catering, receiving visitors, building detention facilities and organising prison labour. The French state spends almost six billion euros a year on these services even though the benefits of private management are highly questionable. This rampant privatization trend raises another thorny question: do private companies not have an interest in keeping prisons full?

By Rachel Knaebel

In France, a retirement co-op ensures seniors are not treated as commodities

They didn’t want to end up in a traditional retirement home. They wanted to remain the actors in their own lives. Seven years after their first discussions about how to age well, a group of retired people is starting to build the first co-op for the aging. Non-speculation, democracy and environmental concern are the foundations of the “Chamarel-Les Barges” project, located in a neighborhood of Vaulx-en-Velin, east of Lyon, France. The project is so inspiring that the bank has even conferred a 50-year loan to the founders, who are in their 60s.

By Sophie Chapelle

What if Tomorrow Your Insurance Company Controlled Your Lifestyle?

Our personal information is targeted not only by benevolent or malevolent espionage agencies. Insurance companies have launched a real race in attempting to collect as much information as possible about your lifestyle. Social networks, the “Internet of Things” [a proposed development of the internet in which everyday objects have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data] and leisure applications on smartphones are sources of information about the state of your health and diet - and a gold mine for evaluating the risks insurance companies and cooperatives would run - as well as about the premium you should pay. In the future, will your insurer dictate the way you have to live in order for you to pay less?

By Morgane Remy

In Europe, Are the Chemical Industry’s Interests Taking Precedence Over People’s Lives?

The European Union has still not regulated usage of endocrine disruptors, chemical substances with colossal health impacts utilized in many common consumer products. Yet endocrine disruptors are the source of many disorders: birth defects, cancers and obesity. This regulatory delay, which has just been condemned by the European justice system, owes nothing to accident. The chemical industries - manufacturers of pesticides and plastics - are lobbying intensively and hamper any serious regulatory advances. Journalist Stéphane Horel deciphers what is going on in her book, Poisoning, the Lobby and Its Objectives. We interview her below.

By Nolwenn Weiler

How to recognize a truly alternative, ethical and socially useful bank

It’s time to switch bank: ethical banks are on the rise throughout Europe. But how do you pick the right one? Three of the five largest banks in France are cooperatives, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they avoid speculative and toxic financial activities more associated with conventional banks. Fortunately, a new type of cooperative bank is making headway. With a truly democratic governance and socially useful lending practices, Nef and Crédit coopératif are changing the French banking landscape. Could ethical banks become the new face of finance?

By Rachel Knaebel

How multinationals use climate change to impose an industrial agricultural model

Governments are keeping an eye on the agricultural sector’s greenhouse gas emissions. A new concept is emerging: “climate-smart agriculture,” with the objective of producing more, better. In the arena of climate negotiations, multinational corporations are getting set to promote “smart fertilizers” and plants genetically modified for heat tolerance. While industrial agriculture is about to win the battle with organic agriculture, researchers and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are trying to overturn the deal.

By Sophie Chapelle

In Bangladesh, Rana Plaza Survivors Set Up Own Cooperative

The Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh killed 1,135 people and left thousands more injured, prompting corporate garment giants to up their commitments and establish codes of conduct and ethical charters. Hundreds of inspections followed, resulting in the closure of a number of garment factories due to unacceptable working conditions. A group of forty garment workers traumatised by the disaster, decided to change tack and create their own garment cooperative – Oporajeo, which means invincible in Bengali. But European clients seeking alternative suppliers are few and far between, and the cooperative is having trouble getting enough work. Report from Dhaka.

By Axelle de Russé, Elsa Fayner

Neither protectionism nor neoliberalism but “open relocalization”, the basis for a new International

Will they call for a return to protectionism? Try to regulate the markets? Attempt to rein in unemployment by prioritizing economic growth, regardless of the cost? The Left seems to have run out of ideas for social and economic initiatives that are at once sound, liberating, and environmentally sustainable. Faced with such lack of vision, calls to “relocalize” the economy start to look appealing. But what we need is open and altruistic relocalization, the kind that, unlike worrisome and dangerous tendencies toward insularity, can actually “reestablish the right balance of efficiency, power, well-being, autonomy and conviviality.”

By Anisabel Veillot, Christophe Ondet, Stéphane Madelaine, Vincent Liegey

Are Climate Advocates not Welcome in France for COP21?

The French government is set to reintroduce border controls for a month, over the period of the International Climate Conference in Paris. This exceptional measure is taken “where there is a serious threat to public policy or internal security”. It appears that civil society, which is planning on mass mobilisation for the event, is especially targeted, as a number of delegations from developing countries are having trouble getting visas.

By Sophie Chapelle