Patrick Randall

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Geopolitics

Women Always Lose In War — That’s Why They Can Help End Them

Negotiators working to end Colombia's decades-long civil war are seeing women as a critical component of lasting social and political peace.

-OpEd-

LIMA â€" Most people know about the peace talks between Colombia’s government and the insurgent Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which are expected to end the country's decades-long civil war.

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food / travel

"Airbnb Of Food" Allows You To Break Bread With Strangers

Just as Airbnb allows people to share their homes, a pair of new "table d’hôte" sites are giving amateur cooks a chance to share their tables.

LAUSANNE â€" Setting your table for complete strangers, getting reimbursed for food expenses â€" and hopefully, making friends in the process.

That, in a nutshell, is the concept behind websites such as EatWith or Surfing Dinner, Internet platforms that give everyone a chance to eat out, albeit not in a restaurant. The sites are part of the so-called sharing economy, offering people an experience that is both social and original â€" an improvised kind of table d’hôte.

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food / travel

Algae, The Food That Could Save Humanity

Cooked in Asia for centuries, this protein-rich marine plant is making its way onto our plates.

With the world’s population expected to reach the 9 billion mark by around 2050, specialists of all stripes are concerned about feeding the next generations.

Reports periodically come out suggesting that the answer lies in the reduction of food waste, the intensive harvesting of GMO crops, a more widespread reliance on organic agriculture, the establishment of a global vegetarian regime or the successful conversion of meat-loving cultures to diets rich in soy or tofu.

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Society

Teaching Arabic In French Schools, A Weapon Against Islamic Extremism

-OpEd-

PARIS â€" The year 2015, an annus horribilis if there ever was one, will remain etched in people’s memories for the violent acts committed in the name of religion, of murder perpetrated in the name of Islam. Faced with the threat of terrorism, we’ve adopted new security measures for the long term, and that’s a good thing, but now it’s time for a deeper response to this issue. Our goal should be to prevent the radicalization of a segment of France’s youth that is tempted by a totalitarian, murderous ideology: terrorist jihadism.

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Geopolitics

Nuclear Terrorism And ISIS: How Scared Should We Be?

Though a massive attack with a full-fledged nuclear weapon is highly unlikely, a so-called "dirty bomb" scenario is not out of the question.

-Analysis-

PARIS â€" The Islamic State (ISIS) wants us to believe that terrorists will soon be equipped with nuclear weapons. Authorites in Washington, where a recent series of four summits on nuclear security was held, have expressed concern about the Syrian-Iraqi situation. And Western intelligence services know that jihadists have been trying to lay their hands on radioactive material.

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Sources

How WWF-Style Pro Wrestling Looks In The Heart Of Europe

Rock music, tight spandex bodysuits and staged maneuvers aren't just for audiences in working-class America. Wrestling is thriving in Switzerland and elsewhere across Europe, where it's seen as a different kind of performance art that even

LAUSANNE â€" On a war-like soundtrack, the kind you can hear in superhero movies, an imposing figure wearing a royal-blue cape walks towards the ring. The cape falls to the ground, uncovering the muscular British Stallion, 6-foot-one, 231 pounds, in a blue, black, zebra-striped bodysuit. The soundtrack changes to hard rock. Tonight, the champion will face Japanese opponent Yoshimiro Yamada, wearing white spandex trunks and comparatively diminutive at 5-foot-7 and 198 pounds.

It's not a fight like any other. To win, one of the wrestlers will have to lock his opponent in a coffin. All this before an astounded family audience in this Lausanne community center.

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Sources

How Sexting Can Spice Things Up For Couples In A Rut

GENEVA â€" Think you know everything there is to know about the person you've long shared your life with? Try sexting. You might have a few surprises â€" along with a few flashes of pure heat.

The act of sending cheeky texts to one's partner is, admittedly, nothing new. Sexting has been around as long as texting (starting in the 1990s), just as pornographic movies arrived with the advent of cinema.

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Society

Japan’s Once Influential Yakuza Mobsters Lose Their Grip

In Japan, the yakuza traditionally controlled vice businesses and demanded shakedowns. But as their dwindling numbers are hunted down by the authorities, the mobsters are trying to reinvent themselves to survive.

TOKYO â€" The building is brown and narrow. The old, worn blinds are closed. This is the Roppongi neighborhood in the heart of Tokyo, just opposite the prestigious Ritz-Carlton. At exactly 10 a.m., three men, all in their forties and wearing stylish grey suits, welcome a passenger in a black sedan. They bow curtly. He is probably a "kobun," one of the godfather's partners. He is escorted under umbrellas inside the six-story building, where Japan's third-largest yakuza organization, the Inagawa-kai, has been established since 1972.

The headquarters address appears on the calling cards of the 3,300 members of the organization, which police officers have been visiting more often. Even American legal authorities have been redirecting their decisions to freeze assets of senior members of the organization toward this building. In 2009, a plan to move the offices to another neighborhood caused outcry from residents of the selected site. The organization gave up.

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Economy

The Spreading Psychodrama Of Being Rated Online

User ratings systems on service apps and websites are making some people obsessive about their online reputations, even as customers. Where is all this headed?

PARIS â€" According to his rating on the car-sharing website BlaBlacar, Olivier, an occasional driver who wishes to remain anonymous, is a "really friendly doctor who strikes up super interesting conversations." Though all but one of his passengers have given him a five-star rating, Olivier has trouble accepting the lone rebuke. "Those three stars still gnaw at me," he says.

Christophe Duhamel, founder of the French recipe-sharing website Marmiton, remembers that when the website was launched users often removed their recipes when they were poorly rated. "No one understands their genius," he quips. Others hesitate to post at all, out of fear of bad ratings.

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Geopolitics

The Next Ecological Plague: Sand Trafficking

As a result of the boom construction, worldwide demand for sand has led to an explosion of illicit trafficking in what would have seemed like a limitless resource.

LE MATELIER â€" “The ‘Le Matelier’ project? We don’t want it." Didier Quentin, mayor of the town of Royan, is backed in his fight by six other mayors along the same coast in southwestern France to fight the removal and commercialization of the beach sand and gravel in the Gironde estuary.

The coveted site is located a few cable-lengths away from the coast, just opposite the tourist town of Marthes-La Palmyre, in the locality known as the “Le Matelier.”

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Future

Why The Left Is Blinded By The Sharing Economy

The rapid growth of the sharing economy is both inevitable and generally good. But only a fool can believe it will truly disrupt the natural capitalist forces of our market economy.

-Analysis-

PARIS â€" The so-called "sharing economy" is the new utopia taking form on the extreme fringes of the political left here in France. It provides anti-globalists, environmentalists, a few Socialist Party renegades and what’s left of the communists with a new tool to fight capitalism. Its somewhat esoteric designation suggests that it is the result of a long process of theoretical reflection. It already has its thinkers, its books and its first Nobel Prize in Economics (with Elinor Ostrom).

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