Macron v Le Pen: Some French students say ‘non’ to both

Planet Business: Netflix slippage, US trade union fights and smart homes go dumb

Image of the week: Ni Le Pen, Ni Macron

In graffiti-loving Paris, the slogan "neither Le Pen nor Macron", seen ahead of a climate protest by Extinction Rebellion, has emerged as an expression of political disaffection among students, many of whom supported left-wing candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the first round of France's presidential election. This weekend's run-off is, however, a replay of the 2017 race for the Elysée, with a choice between right-of-centre incumbent Emmanuel Macron and the far-right's Marine Le Pen.

Macron’s record on climate change and housing haven’t endeared him to young voters, some of whom are taking a “they are both as bad each other” line wholly unsupported by the evidence and saying they will abstain in the second round rather than vote for Macron to help keep out a dangerous extremist.

In numbers: Netflix chill

Consecutive quarters in which Netflix added to its subscriber tally, covering a decade in which it escaped its DVD mailing origins, embarked on a big-spending global expansion and poured billions into original content.

23.8 million
After the second-to-last quarter Netflix's subscriber base went into reverse, July-September 2011, it had this many subscribers in the United States. Internationally, its count was about one million from a nascent foray into Canada.


221.6 million
Number of subscribers Netflix has now, notwithstanding slippage of 200,000 in the first quarter of 2022. The number-one reason mirrored that of the 2011 drop: a price increase.

Getting to know: Insteon

Insteon is “the most reliable and simplest way to turn your home into a smart home” – that’s what it used to say anyway. The US smart home company isn’t quite saying this anymore. It isn’t saying anything, having vanished – and not in the style of a cute robot vacuum cleaner making a run for it.

After an abrupt server shutdown rendered its users’ cloud-dependent smart home set-ups just as dumb as any regular home, its chief executive removed himself from LinkedIn, its phones rang out and complete social media silence ensued, pointing to an Internet of Things consumer scandal.

One customer looked on the bright side: while the Insteon hub on their smartphone could no longer be used to control and automate their lighting, they could at least still turn their lights on and off by directly pressing the light switches. Simple and reliable, for sure.

The list: Unionising US companies

To the apparent trauma of executives who reside in C-suites awash with gold, American employees have been busy forming trade unions, or trying to form them, in workplaces not historically known for being hotbeds of industrial action. So where is the fight under way?

1. Amazon: The retail giant did everything it could to stop a union being formed in Bessemer, Alabama, but workers at its Staten Island warehouse in New York did this month become the first Amazon employees in the US to unionise.

2. Starbucks: Few come close to Amazon when it comes to overt hostility to trade unions, but Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz is giving it his best double-shot.

3. Apple: Employees of its Grand Central Station store in New York have announced a plan to start a union seeking a $30 minimum hourly wage and research into customer safety protocols, pollutants and the effect of noise pollution at the location.

4. Google: The Alphabet Workers Union, which comprises more than 400 engineers and other workers, was formed in January. It hasn't got any collective bargaining powers and remains a rare sight in Silicon Valley.

5. Kickstarter: The first trade union to be established at a US white-collar tech workforce was set up by employees of the crowdfunding company Kickstarter in February 2020 and goes by the name Kickstarter United.