In The News

Biden Prediction, Austria’s Vaccine Lottery, Googly Eyes Down Under

👋 Grüss Gott!*

Welcome to Thursday, where Ukraine lashed out at Biden’s prediction about Russian intentions, Austria is betting on a new incentive for the unvaccinated, and the Australian city of Adelaide is baffled by a mysterious spate of googly eyes. We also look at Russia’s latest efforts to dismantle the REvil hacking group, at Washington’s request, and what this means in the context of U.S.-Russia tensions over Ukraine.

[*Swabian - Germany]

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Internship offer / Offre de stage

PARIS

JANUARY 2022

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Netflix Stereotype? A Real Ukrainian In Paris Sets The Record Straight

Ukraine's culture minister has attempted to make a bonafide diplomatic incident out of the depiction of a character from Kyiv in the vapid Netflix series "Emily in Paris." A native Kyiv writer based in France is outraged too, but at her own country's false pride and a government minister wasting everyone's time.

-Essay-

PARIS — So Ukraine’s Minister of Culture Oleksandr Tkachenko has written a letter to Netflix, expressing the outrage that he and his fellow Ukrainians feel about the ugly stereotypes of a character from Kyiv who recently appeared in the Netflix series Emily in Paris. As a Ukrainian in Paris, I have a letter for Minister Tkachenko…

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Fed-Up French Mayor Bans Snow From Falling

Icy roads, electricity outages, whiny city folk … There's only one solution to ending winter chaos.

No one’s dreaming of a white Christmas in the town of Cerdon, in eastern France. Marc Chavent, mayor of this municipality tucked into the Jura mountains, apparently has a very different dream: So frustrated by the difficulties his community faced due to snowfall that earlier this week, the mayor banned the chilly precipitation altogether.

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Migrant Lives
Michel Agier*

English Channel To The Mediterranean: Borders That Kill

The deaths of 27 migrants off the French coast of Calais is one more tragedy on a long list in the European Union. After the initial shock, however, we tend to forget, get used to it and in the end, become indifferent.

-Analysis-

PARIS — The wreckage of a small boat that led to 27 people to die in the English Channel is added to the list of endless death along Europe’s borders.

Unfortunately, there is nothing fundamentally new about this tragedy. Since 1993, at least 50,000 people have died trying to cross the external borders of the European Union, mainly in the Mediterranean Sea. Since 1999, more than 300 people have died off the northern French coast of Calais while trying to cross the border into the UK, which has been "externalized" on French soil by the 2004 Le Touquet Treaty. The years 2000 and 2010 were marked by reports of casualties at the borders, some horrifying like the two successive shipwrecks on April 12 and 19, 2015 that left thousands dead.

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food / travel
Benjamin Quenelle

Russia Thirsts For Prestige Mark On World's Wine List

Gone are sweet Soviet wines, forgotten is the "dry law" of Gorbachev, Russian viticulture is now reborn.

MOSCOW — A year after its opening, Russian Wine is always full. Located in the center of Moscow, it has become a trendy restaurant. Its wine list stands out: It offers Russian brands only, more than 200, signalled in different colors across all the southern regions of the country.

Russian Wine (in English on the store front, as well as on the eclectic menu) unsurprisingly includes Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula where viticulture has revived since Moscow annexed it in 2014.

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Green
Carl-Johan Karlsson

Urban Jungles? See Wildlife Moving Into 7 Cities Around The World

Wild boars in Rome, big cats in Colombia cities, polar bears in Russian towns: a series of factors, including climate change and urbanization, is creating unlikely encounters between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom.

Wild boars jogging down the street, pumas sauntering through the neighborhood, coyotes patiently waiting for the traffic light to turn green… This isn't the stage set for a new Jumanji or Ace Ventura movie, but an increasingly common sight in residential areas around the world. In recent decades, deforestation, changing agriculture and livestock practices, global warming and the rapid expansion of urban areas into the natural habitats of animals have forced a growing number of species to adapt to life in the city.

And with no sign of urbanization slowing down, some experts suggest that we have entered into a new era where city dwellers must get used to sharing their space with four-legged neighbors.

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Ideas
Sophie Amsili

Tunisia, An Ambiguous Role Model For Women's Rights In The Arab World

Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed caused a stir by appointing Najla Bouden, the first female head of government in the Arab world. But as the president has assumed full powers a decade after the launch of the Arab Spring, it is a choice with a mixed message.

TUNIS — On Najla Bouden's recent visit to Paris to participate in a conference on Libya, every step was being watched closely. The new head of the Tunisian government appeared both at ease and discreet. Her public agility may explain why Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed chose Bouden for this position with limited political weight, two-and-a-half months after he took full powers of the North African nation, where the Arab Spring began a decade ago.

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Society
Eva Sauphie

From Abidjan To New Orleans, Shaking Out The Origins Of Twerking

Popularized by raucous music videos, sometimes considered quasi pornographic, this phenomenon has its origins in the ancestral Afro-descendant dances and advocates the liberation of the body.

PARIS — "Make your butt jump like a pancake! Did we come here to sit and hide it or to show it?"

Patricia Badin, 49, a particularly energetic twerking teacher, is leading a class at the FGO Barbara Center located in the vibrant Parisian district of Barbès: micro-shorts, sequined bras, sneakers, knee pads slipped under high socks — the armada of dancers sport the de rigueur outfit to do their twerking.

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Society
Anne-Sophie Goninet, Rozena Crossman and Jane Herbelin

Meet The Trailblazing Female Athletes Competing With Men

Playing to defeat their male opponents — and gender division in sports.

Whenever a sports team composed of women plays a game, it is referred to as a "women's team." Their male counterparts, however, are simply considered a "team," with no explanatory adjective needed.

This argument has long been invoked when discussing women's secondary place in sports, and the battle is ongoing. Earlier this year, American soccer hero Meghan Rapinoe appeared in Congress to testify about the U.S. Soccer Federation's unequal pay between women's and men's teams.

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food / travel
Guillaume Bregeras

Superstar French Chefs-Cum-Farmers Turn Haute Cuisine Green

Driven by the desire to offer an experience rooted in their terroir, more and more star chefs are turning into farmers. They have the same goal: to keep up with the times by offering local and sustainable produce.

PARIS – Bee balm, savory, marjoram ... All around the terrace overlooking the valley, dozens and dozens of aromatic herbs and vegetables grow despite the first frosts of autumn. Before entering the harshness of winter, Emmanuel Renaut rubs sweet woodruff between his hands and invites others to do the same. "Can you feel the power of this fragrance? I use it in both my sweet and savory dishes." The sweet woodruff mix is one of the many that Renaut incorporates daily into the kitchen of Flocon de Sel, his three-star Michelin restaurant perched at 1,300 meters, just above the village of Megève, in the French Alps.

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Society
Jane Herbelin

Attack On French Women's Soccer Star Is Not A Replay Of Tonya Harding

Kheira Hamraoui and Aminata Diallo are not Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding, the two U.S. figure skating rivals at the center of a soap opera-like attack in the 1990s. For starters, the two French midfielders are longtime friends. Still, while Diallo was released from custody, questions remain about possible involvement in the similar iron-bar assault on Hamraoui's legs.

PARIS — In the world of top-flight French women's soccer, Nov. 18 will be an important day. That's when French national team coach Corinne Diacre announces which players have been selected for the upcoming qualifying matches for the next World Cup.

On paper, Kheira Hamraoui and Aminata Diallo, two-star midfielders of the Paris St.-Germain (PSG) club team are more than worthy of consideration for the national team, for which each has played in the past. But on the field on Friday for their club practice in Paris, neither player was present.

Hamraoui is recovering from injuries to her legs sustained last week in an attack, and Diallo was just released from police custody without charges after being questioned in the case of the assault, which has been roiling the world of French sports the past week.

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Society
Christian Simenc

What Makes A Comfortable Chair? Ergonomics Isn't Everything

A highly subjective concept, the notion of comfort has evolved over time and place — but what does it mean today?

PARIS — Bruno Munari was a genius. This visionary Italian designer was the author of an influential essay around comfort, published in a 1944 edition of the architecture review Domus with the ironic title: "Coming home tired after working all day only to find an uncomfortable armchair."

In his uncompromising way — and with a hint of provocation toward his peers — Munari was already harshly criticizing the overproduction of furniture as well as the ensuing lack of comfort.

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Society
Fanny Guyomard

Why Change Your Name? That Which We Call Ourselves Could Sound Sweeter

Each year thousands of French people ask to change their surname or first name or choose a pseudonym. It may be a question of pride or identity, but it is never a small thing for those who call themselves something new. Here are some of their stories.

PARIS — It's not always easy to bear the name of Mister Labitte (literally "The Dick" in French), "especially when you're a child," said one man interviewed in 1985 on French television. But it molded his personality:

"When I arrived in the army, I told them 'my name is Labitte. I'll give you a total of eight days to have fun, but after that, it will be over.' On the ninth day, a show-off found it funny to keep up with the jokes. Well, he went on a little stay in the infirmary."

According to the website Forebears, around 650 people in the world bear the name of Labitte.

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Ideas
Jean-Francis Pécresse

Fishing For Trouble? Europe Must Stand Up To Boris Johnson's Bullying

The post-Brexit row of fishing rights is the last straw for not only France, but all of the European Union, who must put an end to the whims of Britain's prime minister, who seems ready to toss out years of negotiations for the divorce between the UK and EU.

-OpEd-

PARIS — The fishing war between Paris and London is on, but it would be a mistake to worry too much about it.

Of course, we should not underestimate the deterioration of relations between our two countries, especially since the UK has multiplied unfriendly and even aggressive actions against France. The level of conflict is unprecedented for the contemporary era.

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Coronavirus
Carl-Johan Karlsson

Endemic Times, Get Ready For Our Forever COVID Future

As the 5 million death toll has been passed, signs abound that the virus is not going away any time soon. We need to accept that we can return to normalcy even without eradicating COVID — though we must do it right and keep re-learning the right lessons.

-Analysis-

Heading toward Year 2, the stream of COVID headlines continues to flow: vaccine hesitancy and breakthrough infections, lurking new variants, overrun hospitals and, yes, yet another lockdown somewhere in the world. The grim milestone this week of five million deaths adds to the creeping feeling that, unprecedented scientific breakthroughs aside, we are simply outmatched in our collective battle against the pandemic.

There is a growing consensus among experts that the virus, the whole of humanity's microscopic nemesis, is here to stay.

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