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Daily Archives: November 1, 2019

Making Paris more resilient, getting it to change its ways [interview]

Sebastien Maire is Paris' first ever Chief Resilience Officer, working to help the city weather the effects of climate change, but also air pollution and even terrorism. He's had to push the city, long used to working in its own way, to adopt new ways of approaching infrastructure and budgets. A resilient city or territory can continue to function in the face of crises, like heatwaves, floods or even terrorist attacks. Introducing resilience is about dealing with shocks of any kind – natural or human-made. Sebastien Maire's job was conceived of by the 100 resilient cities project from the Rockefeller Foundation, which first supported his position in 2013. Today, Maire is part of the city's administration, its chief officer for ecological transition and resilience. (This is an edited version of an interview that you can hear in the Spotlight on France podcast. Subscribe here on iTunes, or Google Podcasts.) Q: When it comes to climate change, your work is less on stop..

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Visiting artists weave a cross-cultural tapestry in Paris

Paris' Cité internationale des arts hosts more than 300 artists and scholars. The studios are regularly open to the public, providing insight into works in progress. One of them is Weaving & Living, a joint project from two tapestry artists, Scottish-born Valerie Kirk and Mayumi Inoue of Japan. Kirk and Inoue met during their residencies at the Cité Internationale des arts in Paris. One weaves with traditional wool and cotton, the other uses hair from cancer survivors and paper from music scores. With light filling the corner studio, the pair put the finishing touches on their exhibition, Weaving & Living - just one example of the many surprising cross-cultural encounters at this hive of activity. Despite very different backgrounds and approaches to their craft, there is a clear common ground in how they use it to express their interpretations of the world around them. Mayumi Inoue has strung up her panels from the ceiling in front of the large windows, allowing light to pour thr..

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French MPs call for ‘full facts’ on RFI journalists’ murders in Mali

French lawmakers have called on the government to bring fully to light the circumstances in which RFI journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon died, nearly six years to the day after they were killed. The two were abducted and shot dead by armed men in Kidal, northern Mali, on 2 November 2013. The murders were claimed by Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Two of the alleged killers are still on the run. Despite the various investigations carried out since then, and the pledge by former president François Hollande that all relevant secret defence documents would be declassified, little has come out because the released information was heavily redacted. Now Les Républicains MP Didier Quentin has written to Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, the Defence Minister at the time, to ask him what steps he intends to take with his successor Florence Parly to break the silence. Impunity for crimes against journalists 'takes society back to the dark ages'Questions remain ov..

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Farage launches campaign for snap UK election with ultimatum

Populist politician and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has kicked off his election campaign with an ultimatum to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to drop his deal with Brussels or face a challenge in every seat in the 12 December snap election. "I will say this to Boris Johnson: drop the deal, drop the deal because it is not Brexit. Drop the deal because as weeks go by and people discover what it is you will have signed up, they will not like it," Farage said at the campaign launch. Farage says that a solid 150 seats in Parliament are pro-Brexit and that if the Conservatives do not challenge those seats, his party will put up candidates. If the Tories do not agree to the proposal, the Brexit Party will place candidates for all 650 seats up in the general election, he said. Brexit blame game begins as divorce deadline dies in a ditchUK MPs approve 12 December vote as EU formalises Brexit delayThe ruling Conservative party rejected his threat, reiterating its stance that it would never cu..

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China Communist Party has Hong Kong in crosshairs

China's Communist Party says it will continue to respect Hong Kong's autonomy but expressed impatience with the ongoing unrest at the end of a full session, or Plenum, of its 371 member Central Committee in Beijing. In a statement, the party said it will protect the "stability" of Hong Kong, which has been rocked by months of unrest. Led by the Party's 25-member Politburo, a Central Committee plenum is a closed-door meeting of high-ranking officials where the country's future direction is discussed. This week's meeting was the first since February 2018. In his concluding speech, CPP Secretary Xi Jinping, who doubles as the country's President, highlighted the achievements of two of his four illustrious predecessors Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, but did not mention the other two, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, the last one being China's president until 2012. “Xi Jinping sees himself as somebody comparable to at least Deng Xiaoping and to Mao Zedong, but no..

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Botswana president sworn in promising to fight graft

Botswana's newly reelected President Mokgweetsi Masisi was sworn in on Friday during a ceremony snubbed by his predecessor after the two former allies fell out in a highly public feud. In a speech before several thousand supporters, Masisi promised to tackle corruption in diamond-rich Botswana, which has been seen across Africa as a beacon of stability and democracy. Masisi did not mention his predecessor, Ian Khama, who has been embroiled in a dispute with the president since last year and who himself is now entangled in a corruption scandal. "My government will put in place... mechanisms through the application of practices of good governance to ensure that corruption is defeated," Masisi said. "I am committed to the rule of law in this country in order to enhance confidence in this country and send a message to all of us that the law must be abided by or face the consequences of non-compliance." Khama, whose father founded the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) that has ruled sinc..

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Nigeria’s new media code sparks worries over freedom of expression

Nigeria has announced it will tighten regulations on social media in a bid to fight the "cancer" of fake news and disinformation, but the proposal has triggered an outcry over a potential crackdown on freedom of expression. Information Minister Lai Mohammed says the measure to strengthen the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the state agency overseeing media regulation, is a way to tackle hate speech and fake news that represent a "clear and imminent danger" to the country. The new media code, established in July and now approved by President Muhammadu Buhari, increases fines for indecency, inciting violence or hate speech to 5 million nairas (nearly $14,000) from 500,000 nairas ($1,400). The NBC this week published the key parts of the new code, including details on police and security forces helping the NBC enforce the closure of media stations when a licence has been revoked. "Hate speech and fake news represent a clear and imminent danger to the unity of Nigeria especially gi..

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Nigerian-owned shops in Ghana forced to close by traders: union

Foreign-owned shops in Ghana's second city of Kumasi, have been forced to close by local traders angry with their illegal presence, according to the head of the country's trade union. Joseph Obeng, president of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), said local markets were being invaded by foreigners. Traders have accused them of selling cheaper products. "Many businesses, especially those owned by Nigerians, are not legal," he told AFP. Foreigners are not allowed to own shops or work in retail in Ghana, but this law is not enforced. Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire cocoa farmers hold out for higher priceWest African countries ban 'dirty European fuel'In August, Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari declared all land borders closed in order to prevent any import or export of products via road as a way of combatting illegal goods in their market. The move goes against favourable trade provisions set out by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)..

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Jailed Morocco protest leader decries ‘torture’, prison chief sacked

Morocco's penitentiary administration Friday sacked a prison director afer the detained leader of a protest movement complained of being "tortured" and "raped" in jail. Nasser Zefzafi -- who earlier this year lost an appeal against a 20-year prison term -- said in a taped message that he "suffered the worst forms of torture" following his arrest in June 2017. In the message from jail shared widely on social media this week, Zefzafi said he was "beaten up... raped with a stick... forced to undress". His father, Ahmed Zefzafi told AFP the audio tape was authentic. On Thursday the penitentiary administration said it had opened an "administrative investigation" into the details on the audio tape. And on Friday it announced the sacking of the director of the Fez prison where Zefzafi is detained. Zefzafi was convicted on charges of threatening state security in June last year, along with three other members of the Hirak protest movement which rocked Morocco in 2016 and 2017. Their sente..

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