Anne Sophie Goninet

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photo of costa concordia capsized
Italy

The Costa Concordia Disaster, 10 Years Later — This Happened, January 13

The images of the Italian cruise ship, which had run aground just a few hundred meters from the Tuscany coast, captured the world's attention for a chilly winter week in 2012.

Thursday marks 10 years since the Costa Concordia luxury cruise ship deviated from its planned itinerary to get closer to the island Isola del Giglio, before hitting rocks on the seafloor in shallow water and starting to sink. Over the course of six excruciating hours, a rescue effort team worked to evacuate the 4,252 people on board. Sadly, in the end, 33 people died.

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Why The Right To Die Is Expanding Around The World
Society

Why The Right To Die Is Expanding Around The World

Euthanasia and assisted suicide laws are still the exception, but lawmakers from New Zealand to Peru to Switzerland and beyond are gradually giving more space for people to choose to get help to end their lives — sometimes with new and innovative technological methods.

The announcement last month that a “suicide capsule” device would be commercialized in Switzerland, not surprisingly, caused quite a stir. The machine called Sarcophagus, or “Sarco” for short, consists of a 3D-printed pod mounted on a stand, which releases nitrogen and gradually reduces the oxygen level from 21% to 1%, causing the person inside to lose consciousness without pain or a sense of panic, and then die of hypoxia and hypocapnia (oxygen and carbon dioxide deprivation).

While active euthanasia is illegal in Switzerland, assisted suicide is allowed under certain conditions and under the supervision of a physician, who has first to review the patient’s capacity for discernment — a condition that Sarco aims to eliminate. “We want to remove any kind of psychiatric review from the process and allow the individual to control the method themselves,” Australian doctor Philip Nitschke, the machine’s creator, told news platform SwissInfo. Some argue that this is against the country’s medical ethical rules while others expressed concerns about safety.

But Nitschke says he found the solution: an online AI-based test, which will give a code to the patient to use the device if he passes.

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2022: Year Of The Wake-Up Call
Ideas

2022: Year Of The Wake-Up Call

The signs for 2022 may appear grim right now, but at least we know what we're facing. Will we make the right decisions?

-Analysis-

PARIS — Since it's customary to do so at this time of year, let's try to make predictions for the next twelve months. On paper, 2022 should be a very difficult year. But by knowing that and anticipating it, we can prevent it from being so.

It is quite easy to forecast a worst-case scenario: a pandemic that evades vaccines, a collapse of financial markets, hotbeds of conflicts on the borders of Europe, large countries like Ethiopia falling apart.

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Discarded Christmas trees in north London
Green

Grinch Or Green? It’s Time To Stop Buying Christmas Trees!

Each year, millions of trees are sacrificed for the sake of Christmas — an ecological disaster and a denial of what trees represent for humanity. There are, however, some green alternatives to buying (and killing) your own private tree each year.

-OpEd-

PARIS — In the street, on the sidewalks, the corpses pile up in the cold, stacked one above the other — victims of mutilation. Passers-by glance at them carelessly, sometimes fiddling with their broken limbs. The executioners stand guard around their victims, kicking them back into a pile.

The execution is recent: the bodies still wear their natural colors. But soon the last drops of life will recede. They will start to turn pale and decompose, leaving scorched flakes around them. A foul odor will take hold of the city.

This vision of horror is the Christmas spectacle, with its six million trees in France alone that are cut, sold, decorated for a few days and then discarded. In order to grasp the full extent of this massacre, we must first admit that trees are not simple pieces of wood, but individuals in their own right, who are leading unique lives.

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Head office skyscraper of the French multinational Saint Gobain
Economy

COVID Economics: Signs That Switch To Remote Work May Not Stick

We’re nearly two years into a global pandemic that has seemingly changed everything in our economy from how we shop to where we eat. COVID-19 indeed may transform our economic lives entirely – except how we work.

PARIS — We’re not done with this story yet.

In France, the number of new COVID-19 patients has jumped by 50% in a week, hospitals are once again under increasing pressure, and the government still needs its special council that is responsible for crisis public health decisions. Around the world, the new Omicron variant, first detected a month ago, could prove to be more contagious, though, it is not yet known whether the variant is more dangerous or resistant to the vaccines that billions of people have received.

We've now been living with this unprecedented pandemic for almost two years. It can no longer be said to be a footnote or a strange blip in time, as we might have believed during the first lockdowns of spring 2020. The more time passes, the more COVID-19 is profoundly changing our lives.

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Migrants on a dinghy on the English Channel
Migrant Lives

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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New Variant, Same Story? The Vicious Circle Of Our COVID World
Coronavirus

New Variant, Same Story? The Vicious Circle Of Our COVID World

As we learn yet another Greek letter through the new COVID-19 Omicron variant, around the world the new wave is starting to sound very familiar.

It’s been another 72-hour global moment.

It came in the days after the news first broke last Friday that B.1.1.529, named Omicron, had been identified by scientists in South Africa and assessed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a “variant of concern.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has supplied a series of these collective worldwide “moments:” from the first wave of lockdowns to the discovery that the vaccines were effective to the Delta variant’s new wave of infections.

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Closeup photo of a woman's hands wearing latex gloves
Economy

Malaysian Latex Gloves For Nurses In Canada, Workers' Rights In COVID Times

Revelations of slavery-like conditions for migrant workers in Malaysia manufacturing hospital supplies says much about how worker exploitation has extends across the supply chain through the pandemic.

British labor rights activist Andy Hall had been working for years to defend migrant workers rights in Asia, particularly in Thailand and Myanmar. And when the COVID-19 crisis put unprecedented pressure on the global supply chain, he knew it was a situation ripe for exploitation.

In particular, the pandemic was creating unprecedented demand for personal protective equipment, with governments around the world rushing to secure millions of masks, gowns and gloves which would sometimes be sold to the highest bidder.

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photo of a globe handing over a conference room
Green

COP26: Lessons From The Failure Of Glasgow

The final deal at COP26 falls well short of what's needed to confront global warming. Still, the Glasgow summit has provided a new blueprint for how we measure progress — and shown how pressure can be applied to world leaders.

-Analysis-

PARIS — Commit to making new promises… next year. This is pretty much what the world leaders agreed to do at the end of the COP26 conference on climate change. They are so terrified of the idea of enforcing any kind of restriction, even the smallest ones, or imposing any additional cost on their citizens — just look at soaring energy prices — that they are postponing the hard decisions.

Strong opposition came particularly from Beijing and New Delhi, which managed to remove the gradual ending of coal activities from the final agreement, and to replace it with a simple reduction.

World leaders were happy to commit to long-term carbon neutrality targets, which their successors will have to handle. Yet there are still too many heads of state who are refusing to initiate any painful action in the coming decade — the only one for which they will be truly accountable.

China, Russia, India and Australia have clearly failed.

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Photo of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking at the COP26 in Glasgow
Ideas

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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Rooster, Mon Amour: The Not-So-Quiet Truth About Our Famous French Countryside
food / travel

Rooster, Mon Amour: The Not-So-Quiet Truth About Our Famous French Countryside

To most, the French countryside evokes an idyllic paradise, from the southern Provence region with its lavender fields to vineyard-covered Burgundy to the castles of the Loire Valley. In this postcard vision, you can smell the soft air, see the grazing cows and hear the silence, broken only by the rare tolling of local church bells.

You probably never considered ... the noise.

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Australia’s Submarine Slap To France Exposes Brutal Truth About Europe
Geopolitics

Australia’s Submarine Slap To France Exposes Brutal Truth About Europe

The military pact between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom is further proof that Europe's influence is eroding. To make up for the absence of a collective defense from the bloc's 27, it is urgent to establish alliances with different countries.

The slap that Australia, along with the United States and the United Kingdom, has just inflicted on us is a reminder of some disturbing truths — which happen to be opposed to the values we cherish. First of all, it reminds us that in international relations, friends don't exist. There are just allies who share common interests. Europeans have long lived with the illusion that the United States, a brotherly country, would only want the best for us and that Joe Biden had a special bond with the land of his ancestors.

The fact that President Biden convinced Canberra to break its commitments with France's Naval Group shows his determination to follow only one course: that of Washington's economic and commercial interests. From this point of view, Biden's actions are much more damaging than Donald Trump's, because they are more thoughtful and effective. This is actually the second time since the beginning of the summer that the French defense has been snubbed: last June, Americans had managed to impose their fighter planes on Switzerland, to the detriment of France's Rafale.

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