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Future

An Invention Worthy Of Q: The Ultimate Self-Defense Umbrella

French umbrella manufacturer Veritable Cherbourg has unveiled a range of defense umbrellas straight out of a James Bond movie. President Nicolas Sarkozy's security detail has already put in an order for these high-tech gizmos.

An Invention Worthy Of Q: The Ultimate Self-Defense Umbrella
Florentin Collomp

It might look like an umbrella, but this is no ordinary umbrella. It protects its users not just from rain and hail, but also from stones, knives, fire and even acid attacks. The Parapactum, as this extraordinary umbrella is called, was unveiled last week at the Made in France show in Paris, and has already been adopted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy's personal security detail.

The umbrella is manufactured by VĂ©ritable Cherbourg (Real Cherbourg), a small company of 12 employees created 15 years ago in the Normandy region of Contentin in northwestern France. It is one the last remaining umbrella makers left in France. Most of the four million umbrellas purchased each year in France are now made in China.

But Jean-Pierre Yvon, a former photographer and businessman, decided to take his chances anyway. He chose the beginning of the Chinese manufacturing invasion to set up a French umbrella plant in Cherbourg from scratch, which he financed by selling his family's luxurious town house.

"It's always raining and windy in Cherbourg," says this unorthodox businessman. "So I wanted to create an umbrella as famous as Burberry's, and focus on quality rather than volume." He sells 10,000 to 15,000 umbrellas each year, for a turnover close to one million euros ($1.4 million). Handmade and elegant, and most importantly, resistant to the fiercest gust of wind, each item is sold at prices ranging between 100 and 350 euros ($150-500).

Like any other quality brand, Véritable Cherbourg has its fans and loyal buyers in France and globally as far afield as Japan. The company has long been supplying the presidential Elysée Palace with golf umbrellas. It was only natural then for Jean-Pierre Yvon and his son Charles, a graduate in physics, to answer the call of the French state's Technical Center for Interior Security to develop a model designed to protect dignitaries.

Jean-Pierre Yvon invested around 200,000 euros ($284,000) and won the support of the state-backed entrepreneurial fund the Oséo. The Parapactum took more than a year of research and has been tested to withstand winds of up to 168 km/h (104 miles). There were setbacks: "Every time I demonstrated a prototype, it would not open or would break," he recalls.

The special materials used in the production of the umbrella were developed with companies working in the defense industry and are top secret. French authorities have already ordered a dozen Parapactums at about 6,000 and 12,000 euros ($8,500-$17,000) a pop, depending on the design.

Read the original article in French

Photo - Nestor's Blurrylife

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Why Poland's Break With Ukraine Weakens All Enemies Of Russia — Starting With Poland

Poland’s decision to stop sending weapons to Ukraine is being driven by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party's short-term electoral calculus. Yet the long-term effects on the world stage could deeply undermine the united NATO front against Russia, and the entire Western coalition.

Photo of ​Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with Polish President Andrzej Duda in Lutsk, Ukraine, on July 9

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with Polish President Andrzej Duda in Lutsk, Ukraine, on July 9

Bartosz T. Wieliński

-Analysis-

WARSAW — Poland has now moved from being the country that was most loudly demanding that arms be sent to Ukraine, to a country that has suddenly announced it was withholding military aid. Even if Poland's actions won't match Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s words, the government has damaged the standing of our country in the region, and in NATO.

“We are no longer providing arms to Ukraine, because we are now arming Poland,” the prime minister declared on Polsat news on Wednesday evening. He didn’t specify which type of arms he was referring to, but his statement was quickly spread on social media by leading figures of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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When news that Poland would be withholding arms to Ukraine made their way to the headlines of the most important international media outlets, no politician from PiS stepped in to refute the prime minister’s statement. Which means that Morawiecki said exactly what he meant to say.

The era of tight Polish-Ukrainian collaboration, militarily and politically, has thus come to an end.

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