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Jacques Chirac, 1932-2019: a Political Bulldozer



by Pierre Bréchon

by Pierre Bréchon

PARIS — Jacques Chirac, the president of France from 1995 to 2007, has died. His family announced his passing on Thursday, September 26 via Agence France Presse.

“President Jacques Chirac passed away peacefully this morning surrounded by friends and family,” said Frédéric Salat-Baroux, the husband of Chirac’s daughter Claude.

His health had deteriorated since his departure from the Elysée Palace in 2007, notably as a result of a 2005 stroke suffered during his second term as president. In 2016 he was hospitalized for a lung infection but recovered.

Chirac was born in Paris in 1932, with roots in central France. He studied at Sciences Po, the Institute of Political Studies and the National School of Administration (ENA).

During his time at Sciences Po, he took a sabbatical and studied for one term at Harvard University. Then came marriage to Bernadette Chodron de Courcel, a descendant of an aristocratic family, and voluntary military service in Algeria.

A committed civil servant, Chirac worked tirelessly and was able to climb rapidly in the world of politics.

A committed civil servant, Chirac worked tirelessly and was able to climb rapidly in the world of politics. In 1962 he joined the office of the then prime minister, Georges Pompidou, who fondly referred to Chirac as “my bulldozer”.

During the 1967 parliamentary elections, he stood for election in the Corrèze region. While the office was long held by the French Communist Party, Chirac campaigned actively and against all expectations, won.

At the age of 35, Chirac was named secretary of state for employment by Pompidou, and in 1974 was named minister of the interior. During the election that followed the death of President Georges Pompidou, Chirac supported Valery Giscard d’Estaing and became prime minister when he won.

In office, Chirac oversaw many of the great reforms in France of the early 1970’s.

In office, Chirac oversaw many of the great reforms in France of the early 1970’s: the reduction of the age of majority to 18, audio-visual reform, divorce by mutual consent and the legalization of abortion, a move led by the then health minister, Simone Veil.

Over time Chirac’s relationship with Giscard d’Estaing became difficult, however, and he resigned in 1976. The following year he was elected mayor of Paris after a fierce battle, giving him a stronghold for political action. He would hold that office until 1995.

Chirac launched his first presidential campaign in 1981, but in the first round came in behind Giscard d’Estaing, who was up for re-election. Socialist François Mitterrand won the second round, and would serve as president until 1995.

After Mitterrand’s victory, Chirac became the leader of the opposition. When the conservative RPR party won the most seats in the 1986 legislative elections, Mitterrand was obliged to chose him as prime minister, launching France’s first-ever political “cohabitation”.

During this time Chirac pursued a liberal economic policy, including numerous privatizations and the abolition of a wealth tax.

Chirac’s popularity had deteriorated sharply, however. Mitterrand was easily re-elected as president in May 1988, while Chirac earned only modest scores (19.9% in the first round and 44.0% in the second). His time as prime minister was over.

The third time’s the charm

After seven years outside of national politics, Chirac’s third chance to become president came in 1995. In the first round of that year’s presidential election, Chirac was up against conservative Édouard Balladur.

Despite discouraging poll numbers, Chirac managed to come out ahead – 20.8% to 18.6% – and was easily elected in the second round against Socialist Lionel Jospin. During the campaign, Chirac revealed significant strength and even obstinacy in order to reach the country’s highest office.

Chirac’s first term as president was anything but easy, however. His prime minister, Alain Juppé, concentrated on budget cutting, and his attempts to reform pensions and social security were met with countrywide strikes in the fall of 1995.

With his popularity falling, Chirac made the surprise decision in April 1997 to dissolve the National Assembly, hoping to obtain a stronger majority. He lost his bet and was forced into a “cohabitation” with the Socialist Party. Lionel Jospin became prime minister, exercising considerable power during the last five years of Chirac’s first term.

The 2002 election was a watershed for France in a number of ways. The outgoing prime minister, Lionel Jospin, was expected to make it into the second round, but was led by Jean-Marie Le Pen of the far-right National Front party, 16.9% to 16.2%. In the second round, Chirac won easily against Le Pen, 82.2% to 17.8%.

Chirac’s re-election allowed him to rebuild unity on the right side of the political spectrum, with the launch of a new political party, the Union for the Presidential Majority (UMP).

As president, Chirac pushed through a range of laws, including lowering income taxes, improving road safety and measures to help the disabled. However, on the international stage his administration was most clearly distinguished by its anti-American bent.

France’s refusal to take part in the 2003 military intervention in Iraq was a hugely significant moment.

Over the course of his time in office, Chirac became increasingly pro-European and hoped to see France ratify the draft European Constitution by referendum – one that would go down to defeat in 2005.

Chirac left office in 2007 and in retirement devoted himself to the prevention of international conflicts, sustainable development and the Musée du quai Branly–Jacques Chirac, whose creation he spearheaded 10 years earlier. He was also part of France’s Constitutional Council until 2010.

After a life in public service, Chirac will be remembered as a man who enjoyed getting up close with the public and wasn’t shy about visiting France’s annual Salon de l’Agriculture, one of the world’s largest agricultural shows.

He was also an ardent defender of France’s Republican values and worked on the international scene to make the voice of France heard and to defend a multi-polar world.

Pierre Bréchon is a Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Sciences Po Grenoble .

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Marnie the Dog, Famous Instagram Tongue-Out Pup, Dies at 18




Marnie the Dog, Famous Tongue-Out Pup, Dies at 18

(TMZ) — Marnie the Dog — the Internet-famous pooch who was known for her tongue-out expression — has died.

The Shih Tzu’s owner, Shirley Braha, announced the tragic news on Instagram, writing … “It is with much grief I share the news that Marnie passed away painlessly and peacefully in my home at the age of 18.”

She continued, “Her comfort had been notably declining over the past few days with little hope for improvement and she let me know she had had enough. She enjoyed her chicken until the very end.” Braha goes on to thank everyone for embracing Marnie, explaining how her dog put her on the journey of a lifetime and how grateful she was for the love.

Braha ends her tribute post with a bit of info, and somewhat of a forewarning too … saying Marnie will be buried at a pet cemetery in L.A., adding there’ll hopefully be a public memorial for her whenever it’s safe to hold one, in light of the coronavirus and all.

Marnie was adopted from an animal shelter in 2012 at the ripe age of 11 years old. Soon after, she went on to achieve viral fame because of her freakishly long (but super cute) tongue, which inexplicably hung out of her mouth at almost all times.

Marnie has posed with countless celebs over the years, including Jonah Hill, Tina Fey, Demi Lovato, James Franco, Betty White, Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Larry King, Aaron Paul, Usher, Selena Gomez, Lena Dunham, Riff Raff, Jason Schwartzman and more.

Shirley Braha

She once shot down an invitation to the “World Dog Awards” because, apparently, Marnie and co. felt she was too big for it. She might’ve been right — Marnie got her own book deal at one point.

The doggo was 18 years old.

RIP, Marnie.

Tune in to TMZ on TV weekdays Monday through Friday (check syndicated/local listings)

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Pop Smoke Will Be Laid to Rest in Brooklyn




Pop Smoke Death Certificate Reveals Burial Plans, Doctor's Efforts to Save Him

LOS ANGELES (TMZ) — Doctors tried to save Pop Smoke‘s life by opening his chest after he was rushed to the hospital with multiple gunshot wounds.

Pop Smoke’s death certificate, obtained by TMZ, says doctors performed a thoracotomy on the left side of his chest — meaning they opened his chest, most likely attempting to remove bullets.

As we first reported, he was hit multiple times when masked assailants broke into the Hollywood Hills home where he was staying.

Pop Smoke’s cause of death was a gunshot wound to the torso, according to the document. It says the time between the shooting and his death was “rapid.”

The rapper — born Bashar Barakah Jackson — died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center at 5:12 AM.

The document also reveals his body was transported back to his native Brooklyn. Pop Smoke’s family held a private ceremony last weekend for close friends and family.

His final burial is now scheduled for later this week. Pop Smoke was 20.

Tune in to TMZ on TV weekdays Monday through Friday (check syndicated/local listings)

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Pink Taco Founder Harry Morton Died of Natural Causes per Coroner



Harry Morton Patch

BEVERLY HILLS (Patch) — The Los Angeles County coroner’s office has announced that Harry Morton, founder of the Pink Taco restaurant chain and former owner of the Viper Room nightclub in West Hollywood, died of “probable cardiac arrhythmia,” and the manner of death was listed as “natural.”

Morton, 38, was found dead in his residence in the 500 block of Haynes Avenue in Beverly Hills about 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 23.

A secondary cause of death was listed by the coroner’s office as “myocardial bridging with coronary artery atherosclerosis.”

Morton’s father Peter co-founded the […]

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