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Emma Flacard

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A plate of soul food at Parisian restaurant Gumbo Yaya
food / travel

What's Chic Now In Paris Dining? African-American Soul Food

Chicken waffles, mac and cheese, cornbread… these iconic African American dishes aren't just trending on Netflix — they're also making a name for themselves in the capital of haute cuisine.

PARIS — Soul food doesn't imply a region or nationality but something broader, closer to a sentiment — a feeling at the border of a sensory and culinary experience. With iconic dishes such as fried chicken (fried chicken legs seasoned with Cajun spices), mac and cheese (macaroni and cheese baked in the oven with melted cheese), and cornbread (a pan-fried, corn-based bread borrowed from Native Americans), this African American cuisine has become one of the most popular symbols of North-American food culture.

These comforting recipes, filled with history and emotion, have found their way to France as more and more restaurants, such as New Soul Food, Gumbo Yaya and Mama Jackson, advertise their soul food menus. Originally poor and rural, the nourishing tradition has come a long way from its 17th century origins, when its creators were Black slaves working the plantations of the southern United States.

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A man walking past a Nikkei stock index in Tokyo, Japan.

Fake News: A Threat To Democracy, But Also To Big Business

Phony press releases are a big thorn in the sides of many multinational companies. These big shots may dominate the stock market, but they're struggling to keep the fake news out of prestigious papers

PARIS — It was a first in France when, in 2016, the construction company Vinci was targeted by a fake rumor claiming their financial director had been fired and major accounting errors had been committed. Yet many similar incidents had already occured abroad. In the United States, for instance, corporations like Bank of America, General Electric, Pfizer, Intel, Shell, Chevron and. Google had all been victims of fake press release scams. In Europe, Ryanair, the EIB (Europe Investment Bank) and G4S, a British group specialized in security services, have also been subjected to this type of fraud.

These hoaxes haven't died down. On April 1 2021, a phony press release claimed that the Portuguese oil group Galp was giving up its involvement in northern Mozambique to pursue a "100% sustainable future." In 2019, BlackRock and its leader Larry Fink were also victims of identity fraud. A false letter, supposedly written by the asset manager, stated he would sell his shares to companies that would not meet the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement. This simple email managed to fool several leading media outlets, including the Financial Times.

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Demonstrating face recognition payment service in Japan

Good And Evil Uses Of Facial Recognition Around The Globe

Much has been said about China's use of biometric technology for mass civilian surveillance. But facial recognition is being used elsewhere too, and not always as a tool for crime prevention.

Leo Colombo Viña had just hopped onto a Buenos Aires subway when he was approached by a police officer and taken in for questioning over a robbery he'd supposedly committed 17 years prior.

The computer science professor and software company founder had done no such thing. It was a case of mistaken identity, one that was triggered, ironically, by the latest in digital technology: a facial recognition system. But as civil rights activist Eduardo Ferreyra explains in a recent op-ed piece in the Argentine daily Clarín, it didn't stop the Colombo Viña from having to spend six days in jail.

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France's 24-hour news network BFMTV

The Pundits And Us: Traps Of Our Commentariat Society

Staying updated with the news has become a way to pass time, but there are real effects on the health of the polity.


PARIS — In radio or TV news studios, experts and essay writers, journalists and public speakers are invited to comment on the news of the day, all the time. Is this democratic progress or ideological slippage?

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Military groups are conducting disinfection missions in Taipei, Taiwan.

The Latest: Taiwan’s Vaccine Question, Germany’s Second Genocide, Backwards Fugitive

Welcome to Friday, where COVID spikes in Asia, Germany formally recognizes its second 20th-century genocide and a fugitive in New Zealand went the wrong way in a helicopter. Berlin daily Die Welt introduces us to an openly gay Catholic priest, whose Sunday Mass is always full.

• UN to investigate war crimes over Israeli-Hamas conflict: The UN Human Rights Council has voted to investigate violence in the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas. The United States worries this decision would threaten the progress of bringing calm to the region.

• Syria's Assad wins fourth term: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad won a fourth term in office with 95% of the votes in an election criticized by Western countries as not free or open. The country has been devastated by a ten-year conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and driven 11 million people — about half the population — from their homes.

• Hong Kong tycoon Jimmy Lai sentenced: Jailed Hong Kong media tycoon and Beijing critic Jimmy Lai has been sentenced to 14 months in prison over his participation in a pro-democracy rally last year.

• Germany recognizes colonial crimes in Namibia as genocide: Germany has officially recognized that it committed genocide in Namibia, apologizing for its role in slaughter of Herero and Nama tribespeople between 1904-1908.

COVID-19 spreading in Asia: South Asia has crossed 30 million COVID-19 cases on Friday. Japan says it will consider sharing some of its vaccine doses with Taiwan, which has seen a sudden spike in cases and only has 1% of its population inoculated. In Australia, the spread of the Indian variant of coronavirus has forced the city of Melbourne to enter its fourth lockdown since the beginning of the pandemic.

• Nike split with Neymar over sexual assault investigation: U.S. sportswear giant Nike announced that it will stop working with Neymar over his failure to cooperate with an internal investigation of sexual assault charges alleged in 2016 by an employee of the company. Neymar denies the charges, and the investigation was inconclusive.

• New Zealand fugitive rents helicopter to surrender: A fugitive New Zealand resident facing assault charges hired a helicopter to fly to a police station to turn himself in.

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French actor Omar Sy in Netflix Show 'Arsene Lupin', 2021.

Netflix And French Cinema: Love-Hate Sequel Of A Hollywood Past

After a rocky start, relations between the streaming giant and the French film ecosystem have improved thanks to Netflix investments in local production. But ensuring long-term independence of French films from the Hollywood system is still a battle.

PARIS — We might as well say it right away: With Netflix, the French cinema world doesn't quite feel like celebrating a successful marriage, as it did with French TV channel Canal+ in the 1980s. Still, relations have warmed considerably with the U.S.-based streaming platform. "As good Americans who respect themselves, they considered us, at the beginning, as a village of indomitable Gauls," says a veteran French film producer. "We have learned to tame each other."

Netflix has recently made some seductive moves in France. Last January, it inked a collaboration with the Cinémathèque française film archive in order to preserve historic movies, which will result in the restoration of Abel Gance's Napoleon, a film from 1927. In 2020, the American platform also made a deal with French production and distribution company MK2 to be able to offer films on its platform by the likes of prestigious directors François Truffaut, Charlie Chaplin, Jacques Demy …

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A Canadian tourism agency using baby beluga whales as a measuring tool for social distancing.

Holy Incense And Baby Whales: How We've Measured Social Distance

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a part of our daily lives for more than a year now, including through a range of rules and restrictions to follow to avoid contracting (or disseminating) the virus. It's a scary time, but also a convenient excuse for a moderate dose of silliness. One shot of silly that has spread around the world is the attempt to find new ways to make sense of the social distance guidelines, often with local references to make it more tangible for residents.

Our favorite recent example is a Polish church that used the range of a swinging incense burner to demarcate the appropriate distance we must keep. Here's a banner in front of a Warsaw church to show (well, sort of) the range one must keep.

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U.S President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Covid-19 response and the vaccination program, in Washington, DC, May 2021.

So Joe Biden Is Old: The Lines Between Power, Age And Authority

Despite being mocked on the campaign trail as 'Sleepy Joe,' Biden has had an energetic and productive first few months in office.


Joe Biden has now passed the 100-day mark in office, and is surprising many pundits with his energy and his capacity to make pioneering decisions for his country. And present in many of these conversations is the issue of his age. He's 78, making him the oldest person ever sworn in as president of the United States. Never mind that his opponent, former President Donald Trump — who mocked Biden relentlessly during the campaign as "Sleepy Joe" — isn't that much younger.

All of this raises an interesting question: Is leadership compatible with aging? Think, for example, about former French President Charles de Gaulle, whom the French removed from power in 1969 for no longer being in tune with the suddenly shifting society. Under what conditions can one be a leader at an advanced age?

Raising these issues might seem discriminatory, but the answers could also help identify the very essence of leadership.

French martyr Jeanne d'Arc, 19, Martin Luther King, 39, former U.S. President John F. Kennedy, 46, Napoleon Bonaparte, 51, Steve Jobs, 56… All these major figures died young or fairly young, and together, they contribute to our collective associations of leadership with the ardor and energy of youth (or relative youth).

And yet, we also have the figure of the wise old man. In visual arts, Spanish painter Pablo Picasso remained creative until his death at 91. Likewise, in business, Warren Buffet, 90, is still a master in finance, despite his age. Antoine Pinay gave political advice at nearly 100, as did Nelson Mandela, the revered father of his nation, up to his death at 95.

But what can be said about those who cling to power despite physical and cognitive demise? They remain powerful, but are they still leaders? The declining capacities of former French leaders Georges Pompidou or François Mitterrand have often been highlighted. And there's another danger to that decline: Cases where aged leaders are manipulated by their entourage, and further discredited as a result.


Former Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika during a political meeting in Algeria, in February 2016. — Photo: Shcherbak Alexander/TASS/ZUMA

An extreme and emblematic example is that of former Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who stayed in power for nearly 20 years despite his poor medical condition at the end of his tenure. Another is Mahathir Mohamad, 95, the world's oldest head of state or government when he resigned last year as prime minister of Malaysia, admitting that he was finally feeling the burden of his years in office.

One wonders what Paul Biya, the 88-year-old president of Cameroon and the target of wild rumors about his repeated absences, thinks about all this. Power, after all, is not the same as authority. The former must be earned and maintained. The latter is something that is recognized and accepted.

These people may have some power still, but they have lost the authority that makes them leaders

The reluctance to relinquish power can be seen too among company heads, former government ministers, university professors and others. These are people who, despite being well past retirement age, are convinced that the world cannot run without them. They dole out honors and positions only to loyalists, appointing them presidents of associations or foundations, or as members of directorial boards. And in holding on to power, they paralyze the organizations in which they operate and stifle any desire for change or openness.

Again, these people may have some power still, but they have lost the authority that makes them leaders. When title replaces inspiration, when status becomes more important than vision, then power is only a pale substitute for leadership.

When a former leader is no longer appreciated, when he or she is not elected (as Joe Biden was), no longer being listened to or respected, then it's imperative that the person knows when to leave. Doing so requires humility, reflects a sense of humanity, and is an acknowledgement of frailty. But that too is part of leadership.

Doing the opposite — clinging to one's throne or position — risks stirring up annoyance, anger, criticism and leads, ultimately, to a loss of respect. No, leadership is definitively not about age. It's about the capacity to stay connected to the world and to be visionary. Understanding this would prevent some powerful people, no matter how old, from losing credit for wanting to "remain at all costs."

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Virtual Pétanque: COVID Forces French National Pastime To Go Online

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.

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Love At First Swab, Romance At A French COVID Testing Center

Love At First Swab, Romance At A French COVID Testing Center

She looked into his eyes, he shoved a q-tip up her nose, and they may live happily ever after.

In the middle of a global pandemic and its neverending curfews, social interactions are rare and the dating game is on hold almost everywhere. But then there's France, where romance can strike where you least expect it.

Back in November 2020 in the eastern city of Belfort, Julie Bongiovanni, 21, became a COVID contact-case and had to get herself tested, reports local French newspaper L'Est Républicain.

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A woman protests against COVID restrictions in Schwerin, Germany, in April 2021.

Time Control! That's Why Young People Don't Answer The Phone

Young people no longer answer the phone if they haven't been warned that the call is coming. Employees working remotely insist on organizing their schedules as they see fit. Women want to put an end to men dictating the tempo of their relationship.

PARIS — Do we know how to see big transformations coming in the changes we see in the smallest of habits?

Do we realize, for example, that young people all around the world almost never listen to a live radio station anymore: They listen, at a time of their own choosing, to podcasts or songs; they no longer watch television — except for live sports —opting instead to watch only the videos, music videos, shows or movies available on streaming platforms. In each case, the people have more more control over their access to the various media.

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 People walk past the COVID-19 Memorial Wall in London, in March 2021.

Different Ways The World Is Commemorating COVID-19's Victims

From a Swiss music box to a Chilean quilt, different projects seek to leave a tangible sign of those we've lost.

How do we remember those we've lost to COVID? A year ago, we learned how health restrictions wouldn't allow loved ones to pay their respects at in-person funerals or memorials. Now, with society as a whole facing the sheer scale of the loss of life caused by this pandemic, what can we do to commemorate its countless victims? Since March 2020, people from all over the world have been searching for new ways to pay tribute to the dead. From Switzerland to Mexico, mourners have explored different approaches to commemorating.

  • Switzerland: Telling a dramatic story through music — this was the idea of Swiss journalist Simon Huwiler, who created a music box whose singular tune was based on the daily number of people who lost their lives to the virus since last year, reports SWI swissinfo.ch. The holes in the music paper correspond to COVID victims. The song slowly and swiftly opens up and speeds up from the middle till the end of the song, illustrating the devastating death toll of the first and second waves of the pandemic. The journalist explains his artwork as a means to "make it more visible, to move people."

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