Credit: Reuters/Christian Hartmann By John Irish and Emmanuel Jarry PARIS | Thu Oct 3, 2013 8:21am EDT PARIS (Reuters) – France’s military will cut about 7,500 jobs next year, a defense ministry source said on Thursday, detailing government belt-tightening plans that the far-right hopes will deliver it votes at municipal elections in 2014. The cuts come as tensions rise within Socialist President Francois Hollande’s 17-month-old coalition, whose poll ratings have fallen to 23 percent due to dissatisfaction about the economy and jobs. The defense ministry said in April that 34,000 jobs would likely be cut over the coming six years, but its overall budget would remain largely static, steering clear of drastic spending cuts after military officials and lawmakers said that would reduce France’s ability to counter global security threats. “Given the six year objectives, (the cut) should be around 7,000 to 7,500 military and civilian personnel in 2014,” the source said on condition of anonymity, ahead of a news conference by Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. A handful of bases will be closed or restructured, including an 800-man regiment in the town of Orange in the Vaucluse department, where support for the anti-immigrant, anti-European Union National Front is strong, the source said. Marion Marechal-Le Pen, a National Front member of parliament for Vaucluse, said the cuts would hurt France’s defenses and local economies in areas like hers. “I can only worry about the immediate economic impact in a region that has already been heavily hit by unemployment and economic difficulties,” she said, reacting to media reports about the cuts. “The governments of the right and the left have preferred to sell off our military know-how and lose our diplomatic independence by making small short-term savings. That will cost France’s sovereignty dearly in the coming years,” she said. France’s military employs some 228,000 personnel today. A further 165,000 individuals are employed by the defence industry, not including sub-contractors. The government plans 15 billion euros ($20 billion) in savings next year and 3 billion extra revenues from higher taxes and fighting tax evasion to reduce the budget deficit. (Editing by Tom Heneghan and Robin Pomeroy)
ABS-CBNs The Filipino Channel crew in Paris also came to cover the event. A lot of Paris-based Filipinos, most of whom learned about the event only through Facebook, came to see our work and show support. The Cebuanos among them, particularly, were amused to see such a big delegation of Bisdak artists exhibiting in France. The big turnout surprised even our French organizers. Three days after on September 28, our other exhibit, which we shared with our curator, the Cebu-based Parisian artist Remy Rault and another French artist, Cyril Rouge, opened at the arcade gallery in Le 100. It was also a special soiree for the Filipino community in Paris sponsored by the Philippine Embassy in France, which provided Filipino food and wine to the delight of both French and the Pinoys in the crowd. For the latter, it was a rare small Filipino fiesta in chilly Paris. Until now, we continue to be surprised and amazed by unsolicited help and expressions of support from our kababayans in France and even nearby countries in Europe. When she learned that we were getting sick adjusting to the cold weather during our first two weeks in Paris, Levi Jensen, my brothers former classmate now residing in Sweden, sent me thermal clothes. Noeme Puno, a Paris-based painter from Bulacan, showed up twice in our studio to bring us home-cooked pansit and puto. She also invited us to dinner in a fastfood restaurant frequented by Pinoys in Paris. Nenita Reyes, a Cebuana who lived very close to our studio, also invited us to dinner and a karaoke party with two of her bisdak friends in her apartment. She cooked humba, brought out martini and wine; and turned on her karaoke for the homesick Cebuano artists who did not hesitate to sing mostly Pinoy songs. Our new friend Sharon Gil, a Cebuana who works in the United Nations in Paris, also helped spread the word about our show to her Filipino and other expat friends in France. She treated some of us to a sampling of special European beers in a pub near the Moulin Rouge.