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TOPIC: culture

In The News

Le Weekend: Weiwei’s LEGO Art, Unfazed French Diners, Longest Goal

March 25-26

  • Smoking cigarettes on Ukraine’s frontlines
  • Hong Kong v. Winnie the Pooh
  • 3D-printed cheesecake
  • … and much more.
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This Happened - March 25: Aretha Franklin Is Born

Aretha Franklin was born on this day in 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee. The American singer, songwriter, and pianist was often referred to as the "Queen of Soul".

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Le Weekend: Harry Potter In Tokyo, Roman Remains, Ghana’s Smooth TikTokers

March 18-19

  • Georgia on Moscow’s mind
  • Tarantino’s final movie
  • Parks & rec logo fail
  • … and much more.
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Ratatouille Was A Documentary: A French Philosopher Dives Into The Paris Garbage Crisis

The ongoing strike of garbage collectors in France shows us why we try so hard to hide how much garbage we throw out. As trash piles up in the streets, philosopher Gaspard Koenig reminds us that it wouldn't be so hard to recycle and compost more of it.


PARIS — The strike of garbage collectors can be felt in many cities across France, but it is particularly impressive in the capital, Paris. After just one week, the streets have been invaded by mountains of trash, already estimated at more than 5,000 tonnes.

On some sidewalks, barricades of trash in torn-open bags have piled up above head height. In narrow alleys, the smell is unbearable. Rats are already enjoying an unexpected feast. As we know from Albert Camus’ The Plague, this is not a good sign.

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In The News

Le Weekend: STEM Barbie Dolls, Hijab Trolling In Iran, Holy ChatGPT

March 11-12

  • Bakhmut diary
  • AI art or straight up theft?
  • Oscars v. oligarchs
  • … and much more.
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Ashutosh Singh

Menstruation Must Be Talked About And Treated — Like Any Other Health Issue

In India, questions related to menstrual health are largely taboo, and routinely ignored by authorities. Elsewhere in the world, there is some progress on the issue, though much more is needed.


NEW DELHI — There have been some significant developments around menstruation across the globe recently. Spain became the first European country to approve ‘paid menstrual leave’ for workers in case of severe period pain. Other countries like Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Zambia and the Soviet Union introduced similar laws many years ago.

The Soviet Union introduced a national policy in 1922, Japan in 1947 and Indonesia in 1948. Scotland was the first in the world to make period products available to all who need them at relatively accessible places. A considerable milestone was achieved when the first-panel discussion on menstrual health was conducted at the 50th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva in June 2022.

Menstrual leave in India is not a Martian concept. A school in Kerala has been granting its students period leaves since 1912. Bihar has been providing two days of special menstrual paid leave to women in the workforce since 1992. Kerala approved menstrual leave for female university students in January 2023.

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Karl De Meyer

Welcome To Umeå, The Swedish City Designed By And For Women

Umeå in northern Sweden is a veritable feminist city. And the initiatives go much deeper than just policies and promises — they shape how the city is built.

UMEÅ — For years, this university town in northern Sweden has been working towards building a city truly made for women as much as men. The task is a lot more difficult than you might first imagine. In addition to ensuring safety in public spaces, the municipality also aims to correct the biases inherited from the past.

In the Umeå town hall square, the movement is symbolized by a striking sculpture. With its muscles flexed, a sharp feline glares angrily at passers-by from a pedestal set on metal rods that signify the bars of the cage from which it has just escaped. Blazing red, the sculpture by artist Camilla Akraka, which Umeå residents have dubbed "the puma" since its unveiling in 2019, was commissioned by the municipality as an allegory for the#MeToo movement.

Its title, "Listen," means that even in a country known to be very progressive and ahead of the curve on gender equality issues, there is still work to be done.

"In Umeå, we do not have an equestrian statue of a king or a general, but an angry feline who has reason to be," says smiling Linda Gustafsson, in front of the "puma", while readjusting her hat as the first flakes of the season flutter in early November.

The gender studies graduate bears a rather unique title: she is one of the two "gender equality officers" at the town hall. The position has existed since 1989 in Umeå, the country's 13th largest city with a population of just over 131,000, almost a quarter of whom are students.

So when conservatives called for the removal of the "puma" during the municipal election campaign, which was held at the same time as the parliamentary elections in September 2022, the Social Democrats made it clear that the animal would remain in its place if they were re-elected.

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In The News

Le Weekend: Ukraine Protecting Banksy, Uganda’s Climbing Nurse, 3D-Printed Basketball

March 4-5

  • Cold War 2.0
  • Remote kissing
  • The dark side of consumption
  • … and much more.
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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Emma Albright

Cannes v. Paris 2024: On The Difference Between Banning Russian Athletes Or Artists

While the IOC decides whether to let Moscow’s athletes compete in the 2024 Summer Games, Russian film directors will again be fighting for the right to show their films.

PARIS — Before the Cannes Film Festival started last May, festival officials said that, in light of the war in Ukraine, Russian delegations and anyone associated with the government were not welcome.

Still, one Russian director was invited to show his film at the festival: Kirill Serebrennikov, who made “Tchaikovsky's Wife,” had been an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the war in Ukraine.

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But his anti-Putin stance wasn’t enough for some. After his film premiered, an avalanche of criticism and calls to boycott all Russian films flooded the festival. At a press conference in Cannes, Serebrennikov said he understood the anger behind calls for total boycotts of Russians. But, he said, he did not agree with the “canceling” of a nation’s entire culture.

Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremaux defended the festival’s decision. “We don’t give in to political correctness, we don’t give in to cultural boycott,” he told Variety. “We go on a case-by-case basis.”

Now, France is asking similar questions about banning Russians with the 2024 Olympic games in Paris approaching.

In January, the International Olympics Committee (IOC) agreed that Russians could compete as neutral athletes, without their flag — a decision Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo recently said is unacceptable.

“As long as there is this war, this Russian aggression on Ukraine, it is not possible to pretend as though nothing has happened, to have a delegation that comes to Paris while the bombs continue to rain down on Ukraine,” Hidalgo told French public radio FranceInfo.

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In The News

Le Weekend: Madeleine McCann Twist, Trendy Dubai Museum, Bernie Photobombing

February 25-26

  • Cold and dark in Turkey rubble
  • Life in Kyiv, one year on
  • Loud tracks for wildlife
  • … and much more.
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In The News

Le Weekend: Removing Banksy, Neruda Poison Probe, Pigeon Backflips

February 18-19

  • Colliding on Google Maps
  • Pharrel ft. Louis Vuitton
  • Earthquake lessons for Colombia
  • … and much more.
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In The News

Le Weekend: Earthquake Hits Ancient Sites, Locust Robot, Croissant Cereal

February 11-12

  • Cartoonish fashion
  • Double pride of gay Mayans
  • Paid for clubbing in Berlin
  • … and much more.
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