Stories from Quick Reads and France
What better than the seventh art to mobilize? In another effort to push for Elections in Lebanon and prevent an extension of the Parliamentary term #NoToExtension, Lebanese NGO Nahwa Al Muwatiniya (meaning Towards Citizenship) held an “Election Film Week”.
Six works from Chile, Iran, China, Ghana and the US, varying between documentaries and fiction are being screened between August 28 to September 2 at Cinema Metropolis (a theater promoting indie movies) in collaboration with the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections (LADE).
On the Facebook Page of the event, where the programme is listed, the organisers note:
We have been struggling with a fragile democracy in Lebanon, ever since its independence. Today, more than in the darkest days of the civil war, the foundations of our democracy are at risk. But we’re not alone in this. The world is full of stories about the human struggle for self-determination and democratic participation. Broadening our perspective serves our effort to improve the quality of the political system in Lebanon.
The films we picked share stories from different countries, all which portray the election process. Collectively, they reveal a combination of human values and ideals and the efforts politicians make to win an election.
To see a glimpse of the movies, check out the trailer posted on Nahwa Al Muwatiniya Youtube Page.
The current parliament extended its four-year stay for the first time in May 2013. And like a year before, various parties are supporting the move this time around under the pretext of security conditions.
The end of the parliamentary term comes amidst a period of turmoil in Lebanon. The country has lacked a president since May 25 after parliament failed to elect a new head of state and top officials could not reach political consensus. A general strike by syndicates demanding to approve a new enhanced wage scale for civil servants has threatened to paralyze the entire country. Lebanon has experience instability on both Syrian and Israeli borders after soldiers were kidnapped by members of Islamic militant organization ISIS.
The recent merger between French telcos SFR and Numericable is but another example of the broader trend that dominates today’s telecommunications market: operators are seeking to integrate their products in order to respond to their business clients’ growing desire for streamlined communications solutions. This merger also threatens the dominance of Orange, which – until now- has enjoyed a privileged position among corporate and business clients.
The merger is a major operation which is poised to radically transform the corporate telecommunications market. Each of the 2 companies already has a significant individual market presence and there have been no comparable upheavals since 2005, when Cegetel and Neuf Telecom merged to form Neuf Cegetel (which then became a subsidiary of SFR). Since 2010, many players have been ‘merged out’ of the telco market (the Club Internet, AOL, Telecom Italia and Cegetel brands, for example, have all been retired). This has been the market's way of responding to operators’ growing desire to at once be present in both the fixed-line and the mobile markets. The merger between SFR and Numericable falls neatly in line with this trend – it would appear that the companies are trying to merge in order to meet consumer expectations concerning price and simplicity.
This market pattern has also been driven by the fact that operators need to invest heavily in new infrastructure to maintain their quality of service. The SFR-Numericable merger, for example, will help both of the merging companies to meet their needs in this field. Lionnel Piar, Telecommunications vice-president at CGI Consulting stated :
Industriellement, ce qui est intéressant dans le rapprochement, c’est qu’on a d’un côté un SFR qui a plutôt des offres mobiles, et de l’autre un Numericable plus sur la partie câble. Avec ce rapprochement, on est plus dans la notion d’opérateur global qui va être capable de proposer l’ensemble des services à une entreprise.
From an industry perspective, the interesting thing about this merger is that, on the one hand, you have SFR which offers mainly mobile products; and, on the other hand, you have Numericable which is more about cable. With this merger, we are moving towards the notion of a unified operator which can single-handedly offer corporate clients a full suite of services.
And it is precisely this new notion that threatens the hegemonic dominance that Orange currently enjoys on the B-to-B market . Orange currently holds a 70% market share and, while SFR and Numericable currently hold 20% between them, the newly merged entity is hoping to attain 30%.
Mahjong, originated from China is considered a national game. The fact that China's national mahjony team lost the the fifth Open Mahjong Championship in France and finished in 37th place out of 51 teams came as a shock to the country. Worse, the individual title was claimed by a Japanese competitor. Nanfang.com translated an article from New Beijing Daily on the reasons behind China's defeat.
You'll want to watch France games because if they're on, they'll be lovely to watch, and if they're off it's downright hilarious. The way to get the most out of a combustible team is to follow them closely enough to enjoy all the details but keep emotionally far away enough so that the explosion doesn't singe you too badly.
MacAree also mentions that the French team trolled Usain Bolt after they beat Jamaica in a warm-up match. Here is a photo on twitter of the aforementioned trolling from French player Paul Pogba's twitter feed:
— Paul Pogba (@paulpogba) June 8, 2014
One of the main causes of blindness in sub saharan countries are cataracts. A group of french physicians has developed a surgical kit called ”Phacokit” to treat at low-cost individuals suffering from cataract and help them recover their eyesight [fr]:
Pour vaincre la cataracte, principale cause de cécité, notamment dans les pays pauvres, des médecins français ont mis au point un kit chirurgical qui permet d’opérer en 10 min, pour seulement 25 euros. Bill Gates s'est associé à cette découverte.
To recover from cataract, the leading cause of blindness in many sub Saharan countries, French doctors have developed a surgical kit that allows surgical operations to be performed in about 10 minutes, for only 25 euros. Bill Gates has provided support for this invention.
Here is a video that explains how the surgical kit works:
Eric Garner was a 44-year-old African-American man who died following an attempted arrest by the NY Police Department. On July 17, 2014, when police officers attempted to arrest Garner, he had broken up a fight. Garner who suffered from asthma was wrestled to the ground. Medical examiners concluded chokehold and chest compression as the primary causes of Garner's death and Garner's heart problems, obesity and asthma as additional factors. Here is a video of the accident [Warning: Graphic Images]
A few days later (28 August) in Roissy, France, Abdelhak Goradia, a 51 year old Algerian citizen also died inside a police van. The police was carrying Goradia to the airport to be deported back to Algeria when they initially affirmed that he died of a heart attack. Justice department corrected that assessment and stated that Goradia died from choking on his own gastric fluids. His lawyer stated that Goradia called him to say that he was taken away in handcuffs and a head gear. Goradia was previously charged with theft, petty crimes and violence.
— Jason Morrell (@CNNJason) July 25, 2014
The first footage of the plane crash are now available thanks to a Burkinabe soldier present on the site of the wreck near Gossi, in Northern Mali. There are no survivors among the 118 people on board, including more than 50 French nationals. Algerian website Algérie Focus reports in French that:
Cette vidéo montre des débris éparpillés et broyés. La zone sablonneuse a été noircie par le crash. Sur cette vidéo, il est pratiquement impossible de repérer les pièces maîtresses de l’avion au milieu des débris.
The video shows scattered and crushed debris. The sand at the site was blackened by the crash. In the video, it is virtually impossible to identify the key components of the aircraft amid the debris.
On June 22 at the World Cup 2014 in Brazil, Algeria defeated South Korea 4-2 to keep its chance of qualifying to the knock-out round alive. Scenes of joy were numerous in Algeria [fr] but also in France where a dynamic Algerian community resides.
The joy was tempered by rumors that a church in Lyon, France was burned down during the celebration. The rumors turned out to be a complete lie spread by extreme right groups based on erroneous photos. Adrien Sénécat explains the details of his fact-checking on the story [fr] :
Peu après le coup de sifflet final dimanche, des tweets ont indiqué qu'une église aurait brûlé dans le quartier de la Duchère, à Lyon. Message notamment relayé par le Bloc Identitaire et des sites proches de l'extrême-droite. Sauf que l'église en question n'a pas brûlé, comme l'ont signalé plusieurs internautes sur les réseaux sociaux. Une église a en revanche bien été incendiée à la Duchère… mais en 2006 (et sans aucun rapport avec un match de l'Algérie).
Shortly after the final whistle on Sunday, some tweets suggested that a church had burned down in the area of Duchère in Lyon, France. These tweets were relayed by Bloc Identitaire and other similar extreme-right group websites. The thing is, the church was still intact, as reported by several twitter users.A Church in Duchère was lit on fire … but in 2006 (and it had no relation whatsoever with an Algerian football).
The inability of the French economy to rebound from the Euro zone crisis, the loss of corporate champions like Alstom and Arcelor and the forceful rise of the far right party (Front National) at the latest European elections [fr] are seen by many observers as tell-tale signs of the country’s relative decline. Yet Nicolas Véron at the economic Think Tank Bruegel argues that while France may have many issues to resolve, “an extinction of corporate champions is not one of them” :
The bid from GE, a leading US-headquartered conglomerate, over the power division of Alstom, a maker of turbines and trains, has prompted much soul-searching in France. [..] The description of mass corporate exodus fits a narrative of national decay. France’s exports are slumping. Except that on the specific issue of corporate champions, the story is not backed by the facts. Compared with the rest of the world and of Europe, France is not losing ground as headquarters location of major companies – if anything, the opposite is true [..] Strikingly, in less than two decades France has gained considerable ground in comparison with the two traditionally headquarters-rich EU countries, the UK and Netherlands, and even with Switzerland..
The French blog Rue89 analyzes the results [fr] of the Pew Center Survey on attitudes toward immigrants and minority groups in the European Union. Rue89 highlights that Roma population are the most ostracized minority group, especially in Italy and France :
It also highlights that negative opinions about Roma, Muslims and Jews are “consistently more common among people on the ideological right.” It is to be noted that it is forbidden for a french public institution to collect population data based on ethnicity [fr] or race.