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Imani Barbarin

See more by Imani Barbarin

Sargassum on a beach on May, 11 at Le Robert in Martinique, French Antilles

Swamped By Toxic Seaweed, The French Antilles' Cry For Help

Since 2011, the Caribbean islands have been attacked by rafts of algae which give off a pungent odor as they decompose.

PETIT-BOURG — First, a stench catches you even before you can see the shoreline. Then a tide of red algae comes, which pours onto beaches, rocks, the mangrove. Coming from the deep and carried by marine currents, this algae is known as sargassum.

"This is no longer an emergency, it is a calamity," said the Minister of Ecological Transition and Solidarity, Nicolas Hulot, on his arrival in Petit-Bourg, Guadeloupe, where a hundred protesters from the local anti-sargassum collective were waiting. He was accompanied by the Minister of Deep Seas, Annick Girardin.

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Nine and ten-year-olds test the RoverBot they worked on in an introduction to LEGO Mindstorms

Free Your Mindstorms: How Lego Stays On Cutting Edge Of Coding Education

PARIS — Block construction, robotics and basic coding — all in one package, and especially designed for a non-tech-savvy public. That, in a nutshell, is the idea behind Mindstorms, which toymaker Lego first introduced two decades ago to teach people (children primarily) about programming, but in a fun way — by creating educational robots that walk, talk, etc.

For the first versions of Mindstorms, the two Lego engineers who came up with the toy — Gaute Munch and and Erik Hansen — worked closely with researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Munch is now director of advanced technology at Lego System. Hansen is director of innovation. Both are "industry" category finalists for the European Inventor Award, given out by the European Patent Office.

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SNCF employees protest against Macron's reform plans.

From Memphis To Paris, Martin Luther King's Unfinished Boulevard

PARIS — On any day of the week in Paris, my morning commute is interrupted by the word "Manifestation." These political demonstrations and labor union protests occur with such frequency that I often barely notice the subject matter of the protest, hoping only to get to my destination within that window of acceptable lateness.

As a black, disabled American, my entire public existence has been made possible because of the actions of the social justice and civil rights advocates who came before me. As we remember the life and solemnly mark the death of Martin Luther King Jr. on its 50th anniversary, we must resist the urge to sanitize or abbreviate his legacy. Honoring Dr. King from my current home in, France, reminds me that the entire Western world must still come to grips with ethnic violence and socioeconomic exclusion, and it is more important than ever we learn the lessons of a teacher who was gone before his time.

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Everyone waits in anticipation

Hard Living In Gaza: Squeezed Between Israel And Internal Discord

Basic health care services are hard to come by.

GAZA CITY — As negotiations continue to prevent the collapse of reconciliation talks between internal rivals Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, the lives of those living under siege in Gaza play out in very different ways. Israel's blockade coupled with the sanctions the Palestinian Authority has imposed to extract political compliance from Hamas have left many Gazans watching politics unfold from below as they are left waiting for medical treatment, stranded with no means to resume studies, looking for ways to renew expired documents and residency permits, or working toward immigration.

A visit to the central Gaza City neighborhood of Rimal begins to paint a picture of this other reality. Financial aid applicants are taking up the better part of the most lively street in the entire strip. The poverty rate in Gaza sits at 65%, and unemployment is up to 47% from 41.7% two years ago, according to figures produced by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics cited in a July 2017 Palestinian Center for Human Rights report.

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Bullshit jobs reflect the impossibility to name tasks that are more and more intangible.

Take Pride In Your 'Bullshit Job' — It's The Future Of Capitalism

Some see the invention of bogus-sounding professions as a sign that work has become less and less necessary. It may also just mean that capitalism is being transformed.

PARIS — Stuck at home and prescribed a diet for an early case of gout this year — a punishment familiar to those with a love for decadent meals — I found myself sober and with enough free time to do all types of useless things, like exploring my LinkedIn account.

If it seemed natural not to personally know most of my 3,500 contacts, I was surprised to find that I didn't know the title of many of their professions either. Some job sectors that are obviously popular, but that I had never heard of, included: "Networking Enhancement," "innovative strategies," "holacracy," "global innovation insight," "transition transformation," "change management," "global strategy," "creativity and innovation..." And so on.

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