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Shah's Widow Was Watching Rouhani Paris Visit Quite Closely

Farah Pahlavi, the third and last wife of the Shah of Iran
Farah Pahlavi, the third and last wife of the Shah of Iran

PARIS — When Iranian President Hassan Rouhani made his momentous visit to Paris last week, an unlikely resident of the French capital was watching his every move.

Farah Pahlavi, the 77-year-old widow of the Shah of Iran, told the Persian-language Kayhan newspaper she noted the irony "sitting hundreds of meters' away from the Elysée palace where Rouhani was being received by French President Francois Holllande, and where she and her husband, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, had been fêted by several of Hollande's predecessors.

Nevertheless, Pahlavi said it was "good for Iran" that sanctions should end and that the country could purchase necessary items like airplane parts, reports Kayhan, the London-based spinoff of the conservative newspaper of the same name in Tehran. The publication is mostly run by exiled journalists and regularly criticizes the Iranian regime.

Iran's exiled former empress, who has property in several cities but spends much of her time in Paris, said she hoped "things will become better" for ordinary Iranians as sanctions unwind. Still, Pahlavi saw further irony in all the talk about modernizing Iran now: "Well, we already had modernity," she said, clearly referring to the Shah's policies in the 1960s and 1970s. "Some people were saying we had become too Westernized, or ... were going too fast." Now, she said, after Iranians had lived in "past centuries' under the Islamic Republic, "they want to modernize."

She said she hoped the delegation would "learn and take" a few things about freedom from Europe, like democracy, human rights and women's rights.

Pahlavi recently attended the funeral of her sister-in-law, Princess Ashraf Pahlavi, who died in the south of France in January. The princess, once reviled by many Iranians as a symbol of Iran's corruption in the 1970s, was now less harshly recalled in most newspapers as a defender of women's rights. Some younger Iranians, no doubt comparing the condition of Iranian women now with the 1970s, paid their respect online to the princess.

The empress in 1961 with French President Charles de Gaulle — Source: Catherine Legrand, Jacques Legrand

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Climate Change Is Real, But It's Wrong To Blame It For Every Flood Or Fire

A closer look at the science shows there are many factors that contribute to weather-related emergencies. It is important to raise climate change awareness, but there's a risk in overstating its role in every natural disaster.

photo of a small red car buried in sand

A car is buried last week in the sand during severe flooding in Volos, Greece

© Imago via ZUMA
Axel Bojanowski

Updated on Oct. 4, 2023 at 4:05 p.m


BERLIN — In September, thousands of people lost their lives when dams collapsed during flooding in Libya. Engineers had warned that the dams were structurally unsound.

Two years ago, dozens died in floods in western Germany, a region that had experienced a number of similar floods in earlier centuries, where thousands of houses had been built on the natural floodplain.

Last year saw more than 1,000 people lose their lives during monsoon floods in Pakistan. Studies showed that the impact of flooding in the region was exacerbated by the proximity of human settlements, the outdated river management system, high poverty rates and political instability in Pakistan.

There are many factors that contribute to weather-related disasters, but one dominates the headlines: climate change. That is because of so-called attribution studies, which are published very quickly after these disasters to highlight how human-caused climate change contributes to extreme weather events. After the flooding in Libya, German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung described climate change as a “serial offender," while the Tageszeitung wrote that “the climate crisis has exacerbated the extreme rainfall."

The World Weather Attribution initiative (WWA) has once again achieved its aim of using “real-time analysis” to draw attention to the issue: on its website, the institute says its goal is to “analyse and communicate the possible influence of climate change on extreme weather events." Frederike Otto, who works on attribution studies for the WWA, says these reports help to underscore the urgent need for climate action. They transform climate change from an “abstract threat into a concrete one."

In the immediate aftermath of a weather-related disaster, teams of researchers rush to put together attribution studies – “so that they are ready within the same news cycle," as the New York Times reported. However, these attribution studies do not meet normal scientific standards, as they are published without going through the peer-review process that would be undertaken before publication in a specialist scientific journal. And that creates problems.

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