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French PM struggles to make his mark as second wave hits

PARIS — French Prime Minister Jean Castex made a name for himself as Monsieur Déconfinement (Mister ..



PARIS — French Prime Minister Jean Castex made a name for himself as Monsieur Déconfinement (Mister Lockdown Exit) after he drafted plans for lifting coronavirus restrictions this spring before heading for higher office.

But as the second wave sweeps across France, the crisis management skills that were supposed to be his forte seem to be failing him — at least in the eyes of the public.

His popularity is falling sharply, with those expressing a negative opinion of the prime minister soaring from 27 percent to 49 percent in only three months, according to an Ipsos poll this month.

“Castex arrived more than halfway through Macron’s mandate, having no political weight, not knowing ministers who have mastered their administrations, knowing their subject,” said a ministry official on the condition of anonymity. “He must be given a little more time for he has a very difficult position.”

The prime minister himself admits his first months in office have been bumpy.

“It’s true that I have a lot of hassles,” Castex told Le Parisien earlier this month. “But even if I’m getting hit in the face right now, it doesn’t matter. I’ll take it.”

While the prime minister’s job is known to be a tough one — the holder often takes the heat while the president remains shielded from day-to-day political backlash — several communication mistakes led to a surge of criticism from the opposition and also from government officials.

President Emmanuel Macron had to take center stage again last week on public messaging on coronavirus, announcing new measures including curfews in nine of the country’s major cities.

Three days earlier, as the country was looking at a surge in reported cases with increasing anxiety, Castex appeared to blame citizens’ carelessness for the second wave.

“We have had a very efficient lockdown exit, the holidays came and the French collectively thought it was over,” Castex said on France Info, before urging people to pull themselves together.

In the same interview, the prime minister twice stumbled over the name of the French tracing app StopCovid, which he called “Télécovid.” The mistake came a few weeks after the prime minister confessed on television that he did not download the application that he urged the French public to install.

Jean-Daniel Levy, an analyst at the Harris Interactive polling institute, said the French people resent Castex for his lack of anticipation of the second wave.

“We knew that there might be a second wave and after the debate on masks shortages … there is now a debate on testing,” Levy said. “In this context, a solution must be found for easy screening — a question that Jean Castex has found himself unable to answer yet.”

Macron addressed that question in his speech last week, promising a new testing strategy. The president also acknowledged some mistakes in the coronavirus response and struck a protective tone that contrasted with his prime minister’s.

Dirty work

Castex’s problems are also an issue for Macron, who bet on a change of prime minister to reset his presidency.

Jean-Michel Mis, an MP from Macron’s La République en Marche (LREM), says the prime minister’s unpopularity is mostly the consequence of him being unknown to the public when he became prime minister in July.

“And now, Castex is the one whose role is to choose between inconveniences,” said Mis.

But while difficult tasks come with the job, they’re not the only reason Castex has “abnormally low popularity for a prime minister,” according to Bruno Cautrès, a professor at Sciences Po, the political science university in Paris.

Cautrès compared Castex’s approval ratings to those of his predecessors who arrived halfway through their president’s term of office or after a crisis such as the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks.

“Compared to the popularity of Manuel Valls [prime minister between 2014 and 2016] after three months of office, Jean Castex is lower,” said Cautrès. “Valls maintained a higher position in the polls during his first three months of office and started his fall in the fall, while Castex’s negative opinions soared since the summer,” said Cautrès.

The professor said there has been a struggle to convince the French of the added value of Castex over his predecessor Edouard Philippe.

When he came to power three months ago, Castex was touted for his experience as a local politician with hands-on operational skills. The subtext was that he would somehow counter the narrative that Macron and his government are heavily trusted only by technocrats trained in the nation’s elite schools and detached from reality. This was a message they particularly wanted to send to rural areas.

Castex, who has a strong southwestern accent and is also mayor of a small town in the Pyrénées, would play to his strengths and coordinate smoothly with local administrations and officials, so the thinking went. During his first few weeks as government head, Castex traveled around the country, making more than 20 trips outside the French capital.

But Castex’s Tour de France apparently did not lead to seamless cooperation with all local officials and the government’s overall strategy came under serious attack in Marseille.

Mayor Michèle Rubirola, from a green-left coalition, said local officials were not consulted before learning of the implementation of stricter measures related to the spread of coronavirus in the region. “I won’t allow the people of Marseille to become the victims of political decisions that no one understands,” Rubirola


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How does overeating affect the immune system?



Overeating is a common problem that affects millions of people worldwide. While it is widely understood that excessive eating leads to obesity and other health problems, many people are unaware of the impact that overeating has on the immune system. In this article, we will explore how overeating affects the immune system and what can be done to prevent or mitigate the damage.

The immune system is the body’s defense mechanism against harmful substances and infections. It is responsible for identifying and eliminating harmful pathogens and other invaders that may cause harm to the body. When the body is functioning normally, the immune system works efficiently to keep us healthy. However, when the body is subjected to chronic stress, such as from overeating, it can become weakened, making it less effective at protecting the body against illness and disease.

One of the ways in which overeating affects the immune system is by increasing inflammation. Inflammation is a natural response of the body to injury or infection, but when it becomes chronic, it can have a negative impact on the immune system. Chronic inflammation is associated with a range of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. When the body is constantly exposed to high levels of glucose and other harmful substances as a result of overeating, it can lead to chronic inflammation, which can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of illness.

Another way in which overeating affects the immune system is by altering the gut microbiome. The gut microbiome is the collection of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract and play a crucial role in maintaining good health. When the body is exposed to a high-fat diet, the balance of gut bacteria can become disrupted, leading to the overgrowth of harmful bacteria and the suppression of beneficial bacteria. This can result in decreased gut function and reduced immune function, making it more difficult for the body to protect itself against harmful pathogens.

In addition, overeating can also lead to obesity, which is a major risk factor for a range of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Obesity is associated with a range of physiological changes, including insulin resistance and the release of cytokines, which are signaling molecules that play a crucial role in the immune response. When the body is constantly exposed to high levels of cytokines, it can lead to a state of chronic inflammation, which can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of illness.

Finally, overeating can also affect the immune system by causing oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when the body is exposed to an excessive amount of free radicals, which are highly reactive molecules that can cause damage to cells and tissues. When the body is constantly exposed to high levels of glucose and other harmful substances as a result of overeating, it can lead to oxidative stress, which can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of illness.

In conclusion, overeating can have a profound impact on the immune system. By increasing inflammation, altering the gut microbiome, causing obesity, and inducing oxidative stress, overeating can weaken the body’s ability to protect itself against harmful pathogens and other invaders. To maintain a healthy immune system, it is important to eat a balanced diet, engage in regular exercise, and avoid overeating. By taking these simple steps, you can help protect your immune system and reduce your risk of illness and disease.

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Homelessness and mental illness are two intertwined issues that have a complex relationship. Homelessness can cause or worsen mental illness and, conversely, mental illness can contribute to homelessness. It is a vicious cycle that can be difficult to escape, and it is important to understand the ways in which these two issues are interconnected.

Homelessness can have a significant impact on a person’s mental health. Living on the streets can be a traumatic experience, with a constant fear of violence, theft, and disease. Homeless individuals often face stigma, discrimination, and a lack of privacy, which can lead to feelings of shame, hopelessness, and isolation. The stress and unpredictability of homelessness can trigger or exacerbate mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Mental illness, on the other hand, can also contribute to homelessness. Mental illness can make it difficult for individuals to maintain employment, manage their finances, and maintain stable housing. Individuals with mental illness may struggle with accessing treatment and support, and the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness can also contribute to feelings of shame and isolation. These challenges can lead to a cycle of homelessness and mental illness, where each issue exacerbates the other.

There is a need for a coordinated and comprehensive approach to addressing homelessness and mental illness. This includes providing safe and stable housing, access to mental health treatment and support, and addressing the underlying social determinants of health that contribute to homelessness, such as poverty, lack of education and job opportunities.

Housing First, a program that prioritizes providing permanent housing to homeless individuals before addressing any other issues, has been shown to be effective in reducing homelessness and improving mental health outcomes. This approach recognizes that stable housing is a critical foundation for addressing other issues, including mental health.

In conclusion, homelessness and mental illness are complex and interrelated issues that require a comprehensive and coordinated approach to address. Providing stable housing and access to mental health treatment and support is critical for breaking the cycle of homelessness and mental illness and improving outcomes for individuals experiencing these issues. It is important to continue to address the root causes of homelessness, including poverty and lack of access to education and employment opportunities, to reduce the prevalence of homelessness and improve outcomes for those experiencing it.

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Improving Reception For Children With Cancer – Basque Family Support Association



The association “Tous avec Agosti” wants 2023 to rhyme with new dynamics. For nine years now, the structure has been working to welcome families of hospitalized children in Bayonne. Since 2018, 47 families have been able to find some respite in an apartment in Anglet.

Apartment in Anglet

Since she has benefited from an apartment in Anglet, the association “Tous avec Agosti” has enabled nearly 50 families of patients hospitalized at the Center Hospitalier de la Côte Basque to stay close to their loved ones. This represents 600 overnight stays, 47 families from 23 departments and even from Belgium and Spain. At the beginning of 2023, the structure has just had its prefectural approval renewed and sees things big.

“We have been working in our area for years,” notes Frédéric de Arroyave, the association’s president, but “in 2023, we will show ourselves much more, on the markets for example, but also in acts. The apartment we have in Anglet is a haven of peace for families going through terrible times, but for some it is difficult to access”. The apartment is located on the alleys of the Jardins d’Arcadie, near Biarritz – Pays Basque airport. We want to get closer to the Bayonne hospital.

The association “Tous avec Agosti” was born in 2015. Agosti, 10 years old, is suffering from cancer and taken care of at Bordeaux hospital for 6 months. His father, Frédéric de Arroyave, living in Ahetze, has the possibility of integrating a parents’ house and can stay with his child. Such a structure did not exist in Bayonne, so he launched the project and the association which lives today thanks to donations from contributors and the dozen (very) active volunteers. Each year, approximately 4,000 children are hospitalized in Bayonne.

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