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This isn't America say French politicians, after candidate quits in sex scandal – CNN

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That was on display Friday when President Emmanuel Macron‘s candidate for Paris mayor pulled out of the race after it was alleged he sent explicit content to a woman who is not his wife.
While withdrawing his candidacy on Friday, Benjamin Griveaux said he and his family have endured “defamatory statements, lies, rumors, anonymous attacks, the disclosure of private conversations that were stolen and death threats” for over a year.
“Yesterday a new stage has been reached: a website, and social networks relayed vile attacks on my private life,” he said in a televised statement. “My family does not deserve this.” Griveaux did not deny that he had sent the explicit videos.
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His resignation enraged many in France — including his political rivals — who decried what they feared was an assault on France’s liberal attitude to sex.
“I do not like this Americanization of political life in which politicians come and apologize because they have a mistress, we don’t care,” Alexis Corbiere, a senior member of radical left-wing party “France Insoumise” told CNN affiliate BFM.
Sébastien Chenu, a politician in Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party, said the “Americanization of political life is detestable,” on Twitter, adding that nothing could be gained by its voyeuristic “puritanism.”
Even the current mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo — who is running for reelection — called for the “respect of privacy” in a statement to BFM. “This is not worthy of the democratic debate we should be having,” she said.

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Russian dissident artist Pyotr Pavlensky admitted to publishing the text messages and 30 second explicit video alleged to have been sent by Griveaux to the unidentified woman.
The content was published on a website, shared on Pavlensky’s Facebook page, which invites users to send “correspondence, photographs or videos” of a sexual or pornographic nature sent by “civil servants and political representatives” who impose “puritanism on society.”
Pavlensky is famous for his acts of protest, including sewing his lips together over the jailing of the Russian feminist protest punk band Pussy Riot — for their part in a performance critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin — and nailing his scrotum to Moscow’s Red Square.
He justified the move as a way to reveal the hypocrisy of a candidate who espouses “family values,” Pavlensky told the French daily Liberation.
“He is someone who constantly relies on family values, who says that he wants to be the mayor of families and always quotes as an example his wife and children,” he said. “But he [Griveaux] wants to be the head of the city and he lies to the voters.”
France is no stranger to sex scandals, but its response to the extra-marital affairs of public figures contrasts with that of the United States or UK, where miscreants tend to face more public disapproval.
In 2011, Anthony Weiner heeded calls from across the political spectrum by resigning from office as a Democratic congressman over a sexting scandal.
That said, President Bill Clinton had an affair while in office and kept his job, and Donald Trump remains US President despite multiple accusations of extramarital affairs and sexual harassment allegations — which he has repeatedly denied.
In France, President Francois Hollande did not step down in 2014 after reports of his affair with a French actress spread like wildfire through the British and American press. Neither denied the affair. At the time, the French political establishment came to his defense, condemning the French edition of the tabloid, Closer, for breaking the story.
Frédérique Matonti, a political science professor at Paris’ Sorbonne University, told CNN that French public opinion has not traditionally been influenced by what politicians do in private.
“The press found it to be a political matter. But in fact, Hollande’s ratings were not really impacted by it,” Matonti said.
Griveaux’s former rival, and party, rallied around him on Friday. “The outrageous attack on him is a serious threat to our democracy,” Cedric Villani, who had left Macron’s En March! party after it emerged Griveaux was the preferred candidate, wrote on Twitter.
En Marche’s Stanislas Guerini, condemned the “appalling attack” his colleague Griveaux and his family has faced.
Griveaux’s lawyer Richard Malka told CNN: “Following the withdrawal of his candidacy as mayor of Paris, Mr. Benjamin Griveaux is asking for his privacy to be respected. Privacy is a fundamental right for everybody and the violation of privacy is condemned by the penal and civil codes. Mr. Benjamin Griveaux has asked us to start legal proceedings against any publications that infringe this right.”
But all of this does not mean France has suddenly become morally conservative, Eric Fassin, a sociologist who writes extensively on contemporary sexual politics in France and the US, told CNN.
“No one in the political or in the media sphere has been judging Griveaux on moral grounds. The reason why he dropped out has more to do with the embarrassment of dealing with these images as he is campaigning for city office,” Fassin said.
“In politics, ridicule does kill.”

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Budget hawks frustrated by 2020 politics in entitlement reform fight | TheHill – The Hill

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Budget watchers are growing increasingly frustrated about the politicization of tackling cost-saving measures in entitlement programs, particularly Medicare.

The growing divide between Democrats and Republicans was on full display this past week, when President TrumpDonald John TrumpRussian sanctions will boomerang States, cities rethink tax incentives after Amazon HQ2 backlash A Presidents Day perspective on the nature of a free press MORE’s budget proposal for fiscal 2021 called for roughly $2 trillion in cuts to entitlement programs. Anti-poverty advocates said many of those provisions would hurt the poor and deny people health coverage.

Democrats seized on the proposal, characterizing it as Trump slashing Medicare benefits, even though the president largely hewed to his State of the Union promise to leave Medicare untouched. He instead proposed some $500 billion worth of measures that would reduce costs to providers without eating into benefits.

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Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMalaysia says it will choose 5G partners based on own standards, not US recommendations Pelosi warns allies against using Huawei Budget hawks frustrated by 2020 politics in entitlement reform fight MORE (D-Calif.) called the White House spending request a “heartless budget.”

“If you’re sitting at home at your kitchen table and you’re a senior or there is a senior in your family on Medicare, you’re getting cut,” she said.

But experts say the Medicare proposals should be relatively uncontroversial, leaving budget watchers wondering if reforms to any of the nation’s largest deficit drivers is politically possible, or if the issue has simply become a non-starter in Washington.

“There is literally nothing that would cut benefits from Medicare recipients,” said Marc Goldwein, the head of policy for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a fiscal watchdog group. “The policies would actually help them because they’d reduce the amount they’d pay in premiums and out-of-pocket costs.”

Some of the major Medicare proposals, he noted, have a history of bipartisan support and were even included in former President Obama’s budget requests. Democratic presidential candidate Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegJoe Biden lost his fastball — can he get it back before South Carolina? Where the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes Bloomberg hits Sanders supporters in new ad MORE includes three of the policies in his health care proposal, and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenJoe Biden lost his fastball — can he get it back before South Carolina? Where the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes Budget hawks frustrated by 2020 politics in entitlement reform fight MORE (D-Mass.), who is also running for president, includes two of them in hers.

Among them is a proposal requiring that the site of a procedure — a doctor’s office or a hospital — doesn’t affect the cost.

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Another would affect the level of payments Medicare pays to providers for what’s called post-acute care, such as physical therapy or rehab.

Both aim to reduce payments to the providers but don’t directly scale back benefits or cut off access for recipients.

But it is possible for such cost-cutting measures to ultimately affect benefits, according to Juliette Cubanski, an associate director of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Medicare Program.

“When it comes to Medicare, I don’t think it makes sense to hold up this budget as something that Medicare beneficiaries need to lose any sleep over,” she said. “But if you cut provider payments and they scale back on benefits, there could be a spillover effect there, or a connection between the two.”

House Budget Committee Chairman John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthBudget hawks frustrated by 2020 politics in entitlement reform fight On The Money: Deficit spikes 25 percent through January | Mnuchin declines to say why Trump pulled Treasury nominee who oversaw Roger Stone case | Lawmakers trade insults over Trump budget cuts Lawmakers trade insults over Trump budget cuts MORE (D-Ky.) argued that absent any broader reforms, such changes could have repercussions for rural hospitals.

But the exact implications aren’t clear, says Goldwein, who said studies of similar cost-cutting measures in the past have found minor changes in benefits.

Those policies are in contrast to the various restrictions Trump proposed for Medicaid, food stamps, welfare and housing assistance, which would deny some beneficiaries access and in some cases scale back the level of benefits.

For those concerned about reducing the deficit, conflating cost-saving measures with cutting benefits muddies the waters, analysts say.

“I think it’s very frustrating to lump them together, because people have a point on Medicaid. But when it comes to Social Security and Medicare, they’re Obama-era policies to increase program integrity and reduce costs,” Goldwein said.

Since Trump took office, the deficit has increased by roughly two-thirds and is expected to reach $1 trillion. Democrats blame the $1.9 trillion GOP tax law from 2017 and a Republican effort to boost defense spending. Republicans, meanwhile, point to the higher domestic spending favored by Democrats.

But analysts argue that an aging population is stretching spending from mandatory programs such as Social Security and Medicare, which are major drivers of the debt.

Russ Vought, acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, said the problem stemmed from politicians using a program’s cost as shorthand for its value.

“Washington, D.C., far too often wants to just say what’s the dollar amount and makes that the sacrosanct value for how you’re doing with regard to your commitment,” he said at a House Budget Committee hearing this past week. He also insisted that the Trump budget would leave programs such as Medicaid untouched.

Democrats, for their part, said they welcomed reforms but needed proof that they worked before slashing budgets.

“I have to be a little bit miffed, I guess is the best word, because you talk about savings and waste and fraud, and that you’re going to be doing different types of approaches, but has the administration offered any legislation in any of these areas?” Yarmuth asked Vought at the hearing. “The administration has not offered legislation to deal with health care.”

Indeed, Goldwein noted, some $750 billion of savings in the president’s budget would come from an unspecified health plan that has yet to be unveiled.

Election year politics is in many ways playing a role in the debate, with experts noting that it’s easier to tout more benefits and lower taxes than the alternative.

“It’s very difficult to talk about cutting Social Security or Medicare benefits. At the same time, there aren’t a lot of people who want to say we need to increase taxes or revenues to pay for these programs,” Cubanski said. “We’re not having a conversation about, ‘How much are we willing to pay for these programs?’ and ‘How much should we pay moving forward?’”

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Women in Politics: Theresa May Recounts 'Sticky Tape' Moment – The New York Times

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Former British Prime Minister Theresa May said Monday that early on in her political career, she vowed never to think that being a woman held her back.

“Don’t think that you don’t get something because you’re a woman,” she told an audience of mostly women at the Global Women’s Forum Dubai.

Still, there were times when being a woman head of state was — well, sticky.

May recounted one such moment. She was on a British Air Force flight, heading to a dinner and having to change into evening attire. There were no changing facilities on board but the staff told her not to worry.

“They took up me into the cockpit, there with two pilots, and I’m thinking ‘really?’,” she said.

“A chap comes along with sticky tape and a sheet, and he stuck it up behind the pilots and says: ‘There you go, you can change behind that’,” she said, to laughter and applause from the audience.

May, who became the second female British prime minister in 2016, after Margaret Thatcher, was speaking on stage with the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the United Nations, Lana Nusseibeh.

Nusseibeh shared her own “embarrassing” anecdote, saying that once while trying to keep up with the UAE’s foreign minister on the streets of New York, she got her heel stuck in a gutter and it broke off. She did her best to keep up.

“Men, frankly, don’t run in heels,” Nusseibeh said.

May also spoke about a type of boys-club culture that existed when she first entered the House of Commons as a member of parliament in the late 1990s, with “a huge emphasis on the men sort-of drinking together and getting together into groups.”

“Some of the women felt they had to join that, and I didn’t,” May said. “I wanted to do it the way I wanted to do it. So, I did it my way. I was myself and, hey, I was prime minister.”

May stepped down as Conservative leader last year, leaving behind a legacy as a prime minister who for three years faced the difficult process of trying to get Britain out of the European Union with stubborn determination.

She told the audience that she hopes to be looked upon by young girls as an inspirational leader committed to public service. She also urged women in leadership positions to actively support other women and encourage them to share their experiences.

“The men network. They network a lot. They will use contacts in order to help them through in their careers, and we don’t do enough of that and we should be doing that as women,” May said.

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Women in politics: Theresa May recounts 'sticky tape' moment – CityNews Vancouver

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Former British Prime Minister Theresa May said Monday that early on in her political career, she vowed never to think that being a woman held her back.

“Don’t think that you don’t get something because you’re a woman,” she told an audience of mostly women at the Global Women’s Forum Dubai.

Still, there were times when being a woman head of state was — well, sticky.

May recounted one such moment. She was on a British Air Force flight, heading to a dinner and having to change into evening attire. There were no changing facilities on board but the staff told her not to worry.

“They took up me into the cockpit, there with two pilots, and I’m thinking ‘really?’,” she said.

“A chap comes along with sticky tape and a sheet, and he stuck it up behind the pilots and says: ‘There you go, you can change behind that’,” she said, to laughter and applause from the audience.

May, who became the second female British prime minister in 2016, after Margaret Thatcher, was speaking on stage with the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the United Nations, Lana Nusseibeh.

Nusseibeh shared her own “embarrassing” anecdote, saying that once while trying to keep up with the UAE’s foreign minister on the streets of New York, she got her heel stuck in a gutter and it broke off. She did her best to keep up.

“Men, frankly, don’t run in heels,” Nusseibeh said.

May also spoke about a type of boys-club culture that existed when she first entered the House of Commons as a member of parliament in the late 1990s, with “a huge emphasis on the men sort-of drinking together and getting together into groups.”

“Some of the women felt they had to join that, and I didn’t,” May said. “I wanted to do it the way I wanted to do it. So, I did it my way. I was myself and, hey, I was prime minister.”

May stepped down as Conservative leader last year, leaving behind a legacy as a prime minister who for three years faced the difficult process of trying to get Britain out of the European Union with stubborn determination.

She told the audience that she hopes to be looked upon by young girls as an inspirational leader committed to public service. She also urged women in leadership positions to actively support other women and encourage them to share their experiences.

“The men network. They network a lot. They will use contacts in order to help them through in their careers, and we don’t do enough of that and we should be doing that as women,” May said.

Aya Batrawy, The Associated Press

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