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Public 'largely' in favour of Notre-Dame spire being rebuilt as it was

RFI - 09/07/2020

There is a "large consensus" that the spire of the fire-damaged Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris should be rebuilt as it was, France's new culture minister Roselyne Bachelot has said.  The massive 19th-century spire collapsed into the nave of the church as a blaze tore through the rafters of the cathedral in April last year.

Bachelot told French radio France Inter "there was a large consensus in public opinion and among those deciding" the issue for the spire to be rebuilt exactly as it was.

Her comments came hours before a commission that was set to rule on the question, the National Commission on Heritage and Architecture (CPNA) was due to meet.

But Bachelot said the final decision was in the hands of French President Emmanuel Macron, who up until now has supported a modern architectural "gesture" on the 13th-century monument which was partly destroyed by the fire.

Macron wants Notre-Dame to be restored by 2024, in time for the Paris Olympics.

But reconstruction work has been plagued by delays due to the weather, sanitary concerns over lead pollution and most recently the coronavirus pandemic.

Stark disagreement

Sharp disagreements about what to do with the spire also emerged after Macron said that "a contemporary architectural gesture might be envisaged" to replace the 96-metre spire "since it wasn't part of the original cathedral".

The spire was added in mid-1800s, replacing a medieval one that was removed in 1786.

Last week, the man put in charge of the reconstruction effort, General Jean-Louis Georgelin, said the delicate task of removing the twisted and molten scaffolding around the cathedral should be finished by the end of September.

On Thursday, four Greenpeace activists climbed a crane carrying out work on the cathedral and unfurled a banner demanding the French government do more to tackle climate change.

France steps up probe into rat-eaten corpses at research centre

RFI - 09/07/2020

French investigating magistrates will probe claims that human corpses donated for science were left to rot and be eaten by rats at a university research facility, the Paris prosecutor's office said.

A probe into "violations of the integrity of a corpse" was handed over to the magistrates by prosecutors who handled the initial phase of the investigation after l'Express magazine reported the scandal last November.

The newspaper said the remains of thousands of people who donated them for research were discovered in abhorrent conditions at the Centre for Body Donations (CDC) of the Paris-Descartes University in the French capital.

Bodies were strewn around naked, dismembered, piled one on top of the other, with even a severed head lying on the floor, l'Express reported, describing the scene photographed in 2016 as resembling a mass grave.

Some body parts were decomposing, others lay there chewed by rats amid overflowing garbage bags containing pieces of flesh.

Serious ethical breaches

"This is very good news," Frederic Douchez, a lawyer for families who pressed charges, said of Thursday's announcement by the Paris prosecutor's office.

Investigating magistrates, he said, have much wider powers to get to the bottom of the affair.

Nearly 80 complaints have so far been lodged.

The revelations caused the French government to order the shuttering of the centre and an administrative inspection by a panel which said in June the university was guilty of "serious ethical breaches" in its management of the CDC.

The centre, opened in 1953, was the largest of its kind in Europe, and received, until its closure, hundreds of donated bodies every year.

France’s new equality minister ready for 'most beautiful fight of our century'

RFI - 09/07/2020

Tech businesswoman Elisabeth Moreno surprised France this week by becoming the new women’s rights minister. Moreno, a political novice, is now also in charge of diversity and equal opportunities. The only black member of President Emmanuel Macron's new cabinet wants inclusion to be more than a slogan.

No one could have predicted that Moreno would one day be in government, nor did she.

"I don’t come from this world," she told reporters Tuesday as she took over from Marlène Schiappa.

Born in Cape Verde to a modest family, Moreno moved to France at the age of six, and said she "was proud and heartened" to be serving the French Republic.

She took to Twitter to thank Prime Minister Jean Castex and President Emmanuel Macron for their "trust," vowing to defend gender equality, diversity and equal opportunities for all.

The 49-year-old was still living in South Africa when she was offered her new job on Saturday and took just 10 minutes to decide.

The value of human beings

Her thoughts went immediately to her parents, both immigrants in France. Her father worked as a factory worker and her mother a cleaner. "Neither of them could read or write," she said but they taught her "the value of respect for human beings".

That education gave Moreno the skills to progress in top firms such as Dell, Chinese group Lenovo and more recently Hewlett-Packard as CEO for Africa in Johannesburg.

It is surprising for a woman who in 2019 confided that she "ticked all the boxes of impossibility" after growing up on a council estate property in Paris’ suburbs.

Moreno said she found refuge in education, going on to secure a master’s in law and an executive MBA. Her capacity to overcome resistance is one of the hallmarks she is hoping to bring to her new role as Minister for Gender Equality, Diversity and Equal Opportunities in place of Schiappa.

Even critics of Macron’s government such as the far-right National Rally are impressed.

Jean Messiha, an MP with Marine Le Pen's party, said although he did not share Moreno's views, she was a "vivid example of the opportunities that France can offer to a woman of colour...and proof that the Republic is not racist".

France's African, Asian communities worst hit by Covid-19

RFI - 08/07/2020

France’s male population of under 65-year-olds from sub-Saharan Africa was the worst affected by the coronavirus during March and April when the country was under lockdown.

The findings by INSEE, the French government’s statistics agency, are the closest France has come to acknowledging with numbers the virus's disproportionate impact on the country's minority groups.

“The increase in deaths was higher among people born in Africa – 114 percent more among the population from sub-Saharan Africa, compared to the same period in 2019," wrote the authors of the study, Sylvain Papon and Isabelle Robert-Bobée.

The hike in deaths was also significant among the population born in Asia (INSEE’s definition here includes Turkey) – 91 per cent more than March-April 2019.

INSEE believes that the high death rates among the population born in Africa and Asia could be explained because most of them live densely populated areas across the country as well as Ile de France, a region worst hit by Covid-19.

A third of the population from the Maghreb region (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia) live in Paris and its surrounding Ile de France region. It is also home to half of the population born in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

The stats show that, in the Seine-Saint-Denis district – scene of racial riots during lockdown – where death rates were among the highest in France, the rise for the sub-Saharan population reached 368 percent, as compared to 95 percent for the population born in France.

The study was the first in France to cross-reference deaths that occurred in March and April, when intensive care units were swamped with Covid-19 patients, with the regions of origin of the people who died.

It does not, however, take into consideration how the children of minority groups born in Africa and Asia fared during the health crisis, nor its undocumented population living in France.

Small flats

Papon and Robert-Bobée wrote that the cramped accommodation where under-privileged minorities live constitutes an added factor for virus transmission and mortality.

The African and Asian population also widely use public transport to travel for work.

“People from Africa were most exposed to risks of infection because of their jobs,” the authors wrote.

They occupy essential jobs where they had to carry on working despite a nation-wide lockdown. From health workers to cleaners and food sellers, they are the invisible work force that proved to be essential during the health crisis.

The study also shows that men from sub-Saharan Africa were more affected than the women. Death rates among the under 65 age group were highest among the African communities when compared to Asian and French communities.

“Fatalities, among the under-65, were 30 times higher for the population from sub-Saharan Africa and Asia than it was for those born in France,” the authors wrote.

Most French, Germans and Spanish prefer British and American tourists to stay away, poll suggests

The Local - 9 July 2020

A majority of French, Spanish and Germans would prefer it if British and American tourists stayed away this summer, according to a new poll.

The survey carried out by YouGov sheds lights on the the views of Europeans after borders have opened up again and tourists are beginning to travel at the start of the summer holidays.

"People in France, Spain, Italy and Germany are all more likely to oppose British tourists coming for this summer than they are tourists from other European countries," the YouGov polls says.

"For instance, while 40-54 percent of Spaniards oppose tourists coming from a clutch of European nations, this figure rises to 61 percent for British tourists.

"Likewise, in France the figure is 55 percent compared to 32-46 percent for other European countries’ tourists. In Italy it is 44 percent vs 29-38 percent, and in Germany it is 58 percent vs 34-52 percent."

The reluctance to see British tourists descend on their country is likely to do with the virus rates in the UK. The country has Europe's highest death toll for Covid-19 and the second-highest rate if deaths after Belgium.

From Friday July 10th England and Scotland will allow travellers coming from a list of "safe countries" to enter the territory without having to go into obligatory quarantine.

That means British tourists will head abroad to countries like Spain, France and Italy knowing they don't need to enter quarantine on return.

If British visitors are not exactly wanted in Europe right now there is even greater reticence among the part of Europeans to see tourists from the US and China return.

Controversially, China was included in the EU's safe list of countries (as long as Beijing took a reciprocal approach and allowed entry to Europeans) but the US was not included.

That was due mainly to the surge in new Covid-19 cases in many US states and the fact the EU doesn't believe authorities across the US have the epidemic under control.

"People across Europe tend to be most worried by American and Chinese tourists," the study says.

"American tourists are the most opposed in all countries surveyed (except Sweden where they come second to Chinese tourists, and Finland where they come second to Swedes). Overall 61-79 percent of people in each country oppose allowing American tourists spending time in their country this summer.

"Chinese tourists are similarly unpopular, with an opposition rate of 57-77 percent. They are the most opposed group of tourists in America and Sweden, and second most opposed in most of the other countries."

The poll is based on the views of the general population rather than those working in the tourism industry, many of whom rely on the influx of visitors from the UK, the US and elsewhere in Europe.

In 2016, some 12 million Americans travelled to Europe with Italy, France, Germany and Spain among the most popular destinations.

One study in Italy said the loss of American tourists would mean a loss of €1.8 billion in revenue.


LifeStyle 74 Weather

Sunny this morning and probably still dry. But skies will cover from the SW and cumulous clouds develop. Thunderstorms this afternoon, beginning in the Alps, and extending across Switzerland and adjacent France. Rain continuing this evening and overnight, but less stormy. Max Temp 29°C. 0° at 3900 meters. Moderate SW winds. Strong and gusty in storm cells. Heavy lighting and hail possible over mountain ridges.

Perhaps some showers in the morning, then progressively sunnier from the west during the afternoon. Max temp 24° on the plain. 0° at 3200 meters. Bise winds on the Plateau 2nd half of the day.

Sunny! Bise winds, sometimes moderate on the Plateau and around Lake Leman. Max Temps 25° to 28°.


Generally sunny with a few cumulous over the Alps. High around 27°

Sunny. High near 29°

Wednesday & Thursday

Generally Sunny and warm. Slight chance of a thunderstorm each afternoon in the Alps.

The weather is produced in French by Météo Suisse, and is translated into English be the LifeStyle 74 radio team.


Couple Conflicts - Tips for Resolving Them

Marriage in our age is not for the faint hearted.  Confussion and stress abound as the traditional family model is being turned up-side-down.

Here are some links to articles that we hope will bring some insight:

10 Tips for Resolving Relationship Conflicts


6 Steps to Resolve Relationship Conflicts, Once and for All


What Healthy Couples Do, and Don't Do


Life with a Narcissist.  This serious psychological disorder is causing havoc in homes and couples, exceedingly painful to everyone who finds themselves in anykind of a relationship with one.

16 Signs You're Married to a Narcissist


Can a Narcissist Have a Happy Marriage


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