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OUEST-FRANCE
With roots in the western city of Rennes, Ouest-France is known for producing both local and French national daily news. This Berliner format newspaper is the most read francophone newspaper in the world, maintaining its 2.5 million readers through the digital news boom. Founded in 1944, it currently runs 47 different editions.
Pink Floyd Singer Wins Legal Feud Over French Train Station Jingle
OUEST-FRANCE
Bertrand Hauger

Pink Floyd Singer Wins Legal Feud Over French Train Station Jingle

C / G / A flat / E flat … Any French traveler hearing these instantly-recognizable four notes would know to listen up and pay attention, as the official jingle for the country's SNCF railway company typically precedes announcements of trains leaving or arriving, platform changes, and all too often ... delays.

But back in 2013, when David Gilmour — the legendary singer and guitarist of Pink Floyd fame — heard the audio alert in the train station of the southern French city of Aix-en-Provence, he wanted to take it home. As local daily Ouest France recalls, the British songwriter promptly got his phone out to record the tune; later on, he tracked down the jingle's composer, French sound designer Michaël Boumendil, to discuss the sampling of the jingle in a future song.

At the time, Boumendil told French radio station RTL of his surprise at receiving a phone call from Gilmour, who introduced himself by saying, "I'm a guitarist, from the band Pink Floyd..."

Arrangements were made, a contract was signed: The Frenchman would be listed as co-author of the song and get a 12.5% cut of revenue generated. Meanwhile, the SNCF also gave its thumbs up — and in 2015 Gilmour released his fourth solo album, Rattle That Lock, whose title song incorporated the catchy SNCF riff.

But then, the story began to turn sour. Shortly before the song hit the airwaves, Boumendil gave several interviews, boasting about the prestigious collaboration. This, according to the musician"s team, was a breach of a confidentiality clause, as the song had not yet come out — so much so that they decided to exclude the sound designer from the promotion campaign of the album.

Things escalated quickly, Boumendil sued Gilmour on plagiarism grounds, a claim that was rejected by a Paris court in 2019. Boumnedil appealed, again to no avail — and the legal battle ran its full course last week, as French economics and business magazine Capital reports, with the Paris Court of Appeal condemning the Frenchman to pay 10,000 euros in legal fees. And since it's not all about the Money, Gilmour was also granted the right to keep using the four-note jingle.

French Church Installs COVID-Compliant, Automatic Holy Water Dispenser
OUEST-FRANCE
Clémence Guimier

French Church Installs COVID-Compliant, Automatic Holy Water Dispenser

The pandemic has radically changed the way we manage hygiene in public spaces. Some new things are added, like hand sanitizer distributors at the entrance of shops; some are taken away, like holy water from the decorative font of your local church. But what if the former concept were applied to the latter?


In Rennes, in western France, Notre-Dame-en-Saint-Melaine Church invested in some sacred innovation: a holy water automatic distributor. According to French newspaper Ouest-France, the device works just like any disinfectant distributor, with a religious twist: when a believer puts their hand under the machine, a sensor detects it and delivers a few drops of holy water.


The cupola-like device is forged with modern, minimalistic elements: a curved hand symbol, the words eau bénite explaining its nature, and an inscription: "In the name of the Father, and the Holy Spirit."


A local priest, Father Nicolas Guillou, explains that the 1,200-euro metal font container has a 10,000 drops capacity for each refill. "And the water that doesn't fall into people's hands is collected in a small tank," to prevent any waste of the holy liquid.


While the device helps you clean your soul, regular washing of your hands with soap is still recommended against COVID-19.

In Skinny Japan, New Company Offers Plus-Sized People 'For Rent'
Japan
Clémence Guimier

In Skinny Japan, New Company Offers Plus-Sized People 'For Rent'

It's an economic dictum that virtually anything that is rare is bound to create a valuable market: diamonds, limited edition clothing and, in Japan, obese people.

In a country where the obesity rate is among the world's lowest — only 3.6% of the population is fat, compared to 27% in Australia — a Japanese company now offers the opportunity to rent one of these scarce specimens.

In need of plus-sized people for an advertisement, an overweight model for the promotion of a diet or —according to the company's own words — of someone chubbier than you to make you feel better? If you live in Tokyo, Osaka or Aichi, this is now possible: For 2,000 yen ($18), the Debucari company lets you rent a person certified to weigh over 100 kilograms, as reported by Ouest France.

Behind the new one-of-a-kind service, Mr Bliss, an entrepreneur who came up with the idea after struggling himself to find plus-size models for his own fashion brand, Qzilla. And as specified on its website, Debucari's offer is all about "body positivity".

Unlike other countries who see obesity as a result of bad eating habits, Japan links plus-size people to the sacred discipline of 相撲 "Sumō," the famous centuries-old wrestling sport. Sumos wrestlers, who weigh as much as 150 kilograms, are revered by the Japanese public, almost to the point of being considered half-gods.

However odd — or even offensive — it might sound to "rent" any kind of person, this type of service is rather common in Japan, with many companies already offering a wide range of offers. From hiring a friend, a girlfriend or even a middle-aged man to keep you company for a day, there are plenty of people to choose from ... in all shapes and sizes.

Chinese Cameraman Films (And Wins) 100-meter Race
REUTERS

Chinese Cameraman Films (And Wins) 100-meter Race

No one expected that it would be the cameraman who crossed the finish line first...

A key to filming sports is being in position to capture the action. One cameraman in northern China showed how to get, and stay, ahead of the race — literally outrunning the sprinters he was filming.


For a 100-meter race at the University of Datong in Shanxi, another student, Hao Xiaoyang, was chosen to film the runners. When the start whistle blew, Hao took off running as well (with just a bit of a head start), hoping to get as close as possible to the athletes … before crossing the finish line in front of all the other runners.



The video of Hao's speedy filming went viral on Chinese social networks, with many users congratulating him as the winner.


Interviewed by Reuters, the student cameraman said he simply "wanted to capture the most beautiful images possible." And yes, Hao will be graduating with a degree in physical education.

Virtual Pétanque: COVID Forces French National Pastime To Go Online
OUEST-FRANCE
Emma Flacard

Virtual Pétanque: COVID Forces French National Pastime To Go Online

There's croissants and cheese, bérets and BrigitteBardot — and then there's pétanque.

On the list of the Frenchest things, this national pastime ranks pretty high, conjuring up scenes of convivial apéros where old and young gather together, a boule in one hand and a glass of pastis or rosé in the other.

What shock it must have been then to pétanque players upon learning that this highly communal sport — akin to Italy's bocce or Britain's lawn bowling — was to be moved online because of the pandemic ... With large gatherings still banned in France, local daily Ouest France reports that a number of pétanque pros have decided to give the game a COVID-compliant virtual twist by competing through a Facebook group, starting on May 8.

While pétanque fans are already used to watching the sports on television, with channel L'Equipe TV regularly broadcasting competitions, this time players will also be interacting from a safe distance. Launched by world-renowned pétanque stars Philippe Quintais and Jean-Luc Robert, the Club Maboule initiative aims to keep the spirit and rules of the game: Players score points by throwing their heavy metal boules as close as possible to the smaller, target boule — a.k.a. the cochonnet.

But this virtual version will see pairs of players compete by filming their throws, with referees then checking and comparing the footage behind their screens. The online competition is open to all — pétanque beginners will just have to make sure they don't place their computers too close ...

A Burglar Breaks Into A House In France … And Falls Asleep
OUEST-FRANCE

A Burglar Breaks Into A House In France … And Falls Asleep

Sleeping on the job is a known occupational risk for overnight security guards, long-haul truck drivers and deeply bored bean counters. But for someone robbing a home? Yes, in the western French city of Saumur, police say they've arrested an alleged burglar who was found sleeping in the home he had broken into, reports theOuest France daily.

This is not to say that thieves don't risk getting tired from the effort required. Police say that the man had to climb over a wall surrounding the house and crawl inside through an open window before pocketing some gadgets ... and then zzzzz. The suspect is believed to have snoozed for a few hours before being woken up by police officers around 7 a.m.

Authorities say worried neighbors signaled the alarm in the middle of the night after hearing noises. Snoring?

You Touched It, You Bought It: Street Card Scam For COVID Times
OUEST-FRANCE
Jeff Israely

You Touched It, You Bought It: Street Card Scam For COVID Times

Like the rest of us, street hustlers are adjusting to pandemic conditions. In Laval, a small city in western France, a young man who might have otherwise been taking passersby for a ride with Three-Card Monte or Find The Lady tricks, concocted a COVID-inspired scam for easy money.

TheOuest France daily reports that the suspect would ride around on his bicycle approaching people to sell them generic cards with random images of cute animals and the like. When the potential buyer tried to say "No thanks' and hand back the cards, the man said he couldn't take them because of the risk the cards were now infected by the coronavirus — and demanded payment.

The French national police unit based in nearby Mayenne apprehended the suspect Friday. If found guilty, he could face up to six months in prison and 3,750-euro fine. Can't hand that back either.

Eten Restaurant, part of the Mediamatic Biotoop centre in Amsterdam, has tested greenhouse-like booths for customers to eat in.
food / travel

Dining With Distance: Restaurant Innovation Adapts To COVID-19

For many, getting back to "normal life" means going out to eat. But people also want to be safe, which is why eateries — from Amsterdam to Australia — are experimenting with distancing innovations that might soon become the new normal in the field of gastronomy. So how will dining out look like in the post-pandemic world? Here are few glimpses:

• In Saxony-Anhalt, Robin Pietsch, the Germanstate's only starred chef, is thinking about setting up small "greenhouses' in an open space at Wernigerode Castle, the German daily Die Weltreports. Each glass cubicle would accommodate two guests and protect them from other diners, and yet still allow them to appreciate the surrounding scenery.

• Pietsch says he was inspired by the "separated greenhouses' that a vegan restaurant in Amsterdam set up on the waterfront and tested earlier this month. The restaurant should reopen for the public in the beginning of June with other Dutch restaurants and terraces hosting up to 30 guests, reported NH Nieuws.

• Unlike its European neighbors, Sweden never enforced a lockdown, and bars, restaurants and cafés continue to serve seated customers, albeit with certain precautions in place. Many establishments decided, for example, to rope off every other table to make social distancing easier. But that's nothing compared to the approach taken by a new restaurant called Bord för En (Table for One), which opened two weeks ago serves just one customer per day, seated at a table in the middle of... a field! Not only that, but food is served in a basket attached to a rope. Offering seasonal and locally farmed food and drinks, the restaurant's owners also have a novel approach when it comes to the bill: It's up to the guests to decide how much they're willing to pay. "We're all facing difficult times," the restaurateurs​ told theInsider.

• The proprietor of aseafood pub in Ocean City, in the U.S. state of Maryland, have also found a creative way to keep business afloat while maintaining social distancing. Customers at Fish Tales, which is reopening its dine-in services, will once again be allowed to mix, mingle and much, but with one condition: They have to wear giant inflatable inner tubes on wheels. These "bumper tables' are six feet wide, and according to UJ City News, the owner intends to fit 40 to 60 of them inside her restaurant.

Photo: Fish Tales

• A café in northeast Germanycame up with a similar idea, only instead of inner tubes, customers use swimming pool floats (water noodles) to maintain social distancing. The 1.5-meter-long noodles are attached to hats that customers at Rothe in Schwerin, as the café is known, don while dining, Euronewsreports.

• In Spain and Italy, some restaurants plan to reopen with plexiglass screens separating tables or even individual diners. One restaurant in the town of Leganés has already installed the prototype screens to test the design, reports The Local. As part of a pilot test, it has also set up thermal cameras that detect the temperature of diners.

• In New South Wales, Australia, in the meantime, restaurants are back in operation, but with strict limits on the number of diners allowed. Eateries can serve no more than 10 people at a time. Concerned that some clients might find the relative emptiness a bit off putting, the owner of one Sydney restaurant came up with a crafty solution: Why not fill the empty chairs with cardboard cutouts? And because the faux customers can't, of course, talk, the proprietor also outfitted his establishment with recorded background noise that simulates the chatter of clients, 7 News reports.

•A restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand had a similar idea, but instead of cardboard customers, decided to go with stuffed panda dolls. Different strokes, as they say, for different folks.

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