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France: Hundreds protest against Amazon expansion | France News

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Demonstrators form human chain as they rally against Amazon’s plan to set up facility in small southern town of Fournes.

Hundreds of people have rallied in several French towns and cities in protests called by anti-capitalist and environmental groups against e-commerce giant Amazon.

Among the places where demonstrators staged rallies on Saturday was the small southern town of Fournes near Pont-du-Gard, a World Heritage site, where the United States-based company plans to set up a 38,000-square-metre (400,000-square-feet) facility.

Protesting at the site, between 800 and 1,000 people formed a human chain to show the size of the project, with multicoloured balloons floated 18 metres (60 feet) up to indicate the height of the planned five-storey warehouse.

“It’s two years that the citizens of Fournes and its surroundings have fought against the installation of a giant Amazon warehouse,” said Raphael Pradeau, spokesman of French citizens’ activist group Attac.

“At the start they were a bit alone against everyone, but they have succeeded in halting the project thanks to legal recourse,” he added.

“We want to show that these are not small isolated fights and that we can mobilise hundreds of people who are ready to return to stop the work,” said Pradeau.

Activists rally on the site where Amazon plans to build the warehouse in Fournes [AFP]

‘Destructive model’

The campaigners view the retail giant as a prime factor in the urbanisation of farmland, a process they say is contributing significantly to climate change and the loss of environmental biodiversity.

Amazon’s global revenues have soared during the pandemic and its ability to keep selling during coronavirus lockdowns has deepened frustration among French opponents, who say it represents a US-style mass consumer culture at odds with a long local tradition of neighbourhood stores.

The protesters also planted shrubs in front of huge banners reading “Stop Amazon” and “Not here or anywhere”.

“These plants, these shrubs that we are planting today are a symbol of life that contrasts with the concretisation that Amazon practises,” said 38-year-old Sarah Latour, 38, who had brought her two sons aged six and eight.

“I came with my children because I don’t want this destructive model for them,” she told AFP news agency.

About 200 people also rallied outside an Amazon facility in Carquefou, a suburb of the western city of Nantes, organisers said.

“We condemn Amazon for destroying more jobs than they create,” said Sophie Jallier, a spokeswoman for the organisers in Carquefou.

Other protests were reported in the eastern towns of Ensisheim and Augny.

Reacting to similar demonstrations last month, Amazon said it had unwittingly become the mouthpiece of organisations that often made use of “misleading” information. It had invested 9.2 billion euros ($11.2bn) in France and was “at the origin of” the creation of 130,000 jobs, a spokeswoman said.



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US debt projected to balloon to more than double GDP by 2051 | Debt News

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The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office warned that by 2051, the United States’ debt will skyrocket to 202 percent of its gross domestic product, up from 102 percent this year.

The U.S. federal debt will grow to more than double the size of the economy in three decades, increasing the risk of a fiscal crisis even though dangers appear low in the near term, the Congressional Budget Office said.

Debt will be equivalent to 202% of gross domestic product by 2051 from 102% this year, the nonpartisan arm of the legislature said Thursday in its long-term budget outlook. Its projection for 195% in 2050 was unchanged from the prior report, whose forecasts ran through that year.

Net interest payments on the debt are expected to remain relatively low for the next decade, then rise rapidly over the following 20 years, the CBO said. The agency projects 10-year Treasury yield, after inflation, at 2.6% in 2050. The nominal yield was at 1.54%, near the highest in more than a year, on Thursday.

The CBO also said that the two Social Security trust funds, for seniors and people with disabilities, will be exhausted later than the agency projected last year.

The report — which doesn’t reflect the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan currently working its way through Congress — follows the selloff in Treasuries over the past week that sent yields spiking. Investors are gaining more confidence that rates will move up, with U.S. growth and the labor market set for a stronger-than-expected uptick as vaccines roll out and states lift restrictions.

The CBO outlook’s debt projections will likely underpin already-firm opposition by Republicans to the relief plan, and could also concern some Democratic lawmakers as President Joe Biden prepares a followup multitrillion-dollar plan to build infrastructure and boost the economy in other ways.

“The risk of a fiscal crisis appears to be low in the short run despite the higher deficits and debt stemming from the pandemic,” the CBO said in the report. “Nonetheless, the much higher debt over time would raise the risk of a fiscal crisis in the years ahead.”

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Thursday that the U.S. economy still has a long way to go before the central bank considers tightening, and underscored that the low-inflation world of the past several decades is unlikely to change.



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