Young people in France could soon be swapping their smartphones for rifles
President Emmanuel Macron has suggested all young adults aged 18-21 will be obliged to serve in his compulsory military service scheme. Reintroducing national service – which was last seen in 2001 – was a major component of Macron’s election manifesto. France’s youngest ever president shot to power as a centrist outsider in May 2017 campaigning on national unity. But the details of the plan have remained sketchy. Last week Macron implied that service would be obligatory for all young adults with French citizenship residing in the country. They would serve between three and six months, he told the press.
But his comments came just after the armed forces minister – Florence Parly – suggested the scheme would be voluntary. His remarks fit in with a parliamentary report on the idea which recommended not forcing young people to participate. A pilot version is expected to be rolled out sometime next year. There are roughly 600,000 men and women aged between 18 and 21 who would be eligible for conscription.
Macron, aged 40 and the only French president never to have served in the military, raised eyebrows on the campaign trail with the idea. He believes conscription would help create new civic bonds in the divided country and prepare France for a period of ‘global turbulence’ ahead.
A new nonprofit group is hoping to combat obesity in youngsters through the power of poems. The Bigger Picture project is concentrating its efforts on young adults from ethnic minorities in the United States. Established with the help of the University of California, the Bigger Picture team is composed of poets and doctors. They will hold workshops on the importance of a healthy diet in poor neighbourhoods.
Participants will be asked to compose spoken-word poems and songs on the topics of obesity and diabetes, and how they affect them and their families.
The youngsters will read their poems aloud at local schools and some will even have them made into music videos. By drawing on art as therapy and increasing awareness, the Bigger Picture hopes it can reach ethnic minority and black youngsters in ways that typical government health campaigns cannot manage.
Doctors have described America’s diabetes epidemic as resembling the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. Type 2 diabetes in children has risen by more than 30% since the turn of the millenium. Studies show that black and Hispanic children are eight times more likely to develop diabetes than their peers from other ethnic backgrounds.
Chinese students living in Australia have been warned that their physical safety is at risk
China’s Ministry of Education expressed concern after several reported incidents, including violence and theft. Ministers asked for “all students studying in Australia to maintain vigilance”. The comments come just months after the Chinese embassy in Canberra accused the Australian media of whipping up anti-Chinese hysteria. There are ongoing concerns that Beijing is growing increasingly influential in Australian politics.
The student warning could put a very lucrative industry for Australian universities in jeopardy. Chinese foreign students brought almost A$9 billion (€5.5 billion) in revenue to the academic sector in the 2016/2017 term.
They are by far the largest single foreign contingent of international students, with Indian nationals coming in second. Applications from India have plummeted in recent years following a heavily-publicised series of racist attacks on Indian students and immigrants in Sydney and other cities.
Aware of the money at stake, senior university officials have asked the Australian government to ease tensions with Beijing. Michael Spence, vice-chancellor of the University of Sydney, said that Chinese students were being unfairly portrayed in the media as spies.