Tag Archives | France

The French And Chinese Militaries Could Once Again Use Carrier Pigeons

Long distance strategic communication via bird may seem obsolete by a hundred years or so, but pigeon squadrons are quietly being maintained and could one day be essential in calamitous conditions, the Wall Street Journal writes:

Glorified for their roles in World War I, pigeon squadrons have long been removed from active duty because of the introduction of more reliable, all-weather communication systems. And yet the French Defense Ministry still operates a military dovecote—Europe’s last—with 150 birds drafted into the 8th regiment for communication and transmission.

The corporal [who] sees to their upkeep and training draws hawkish scenarios—a nuclear catastrophe, a hurricane, a war—where racing homers would be the last-resort messaging network. In the Syrian city of Homs, insurgents defying the regime of President Bashar al-Assad are relying on carrier pigeons to communicate because their walkie-talkies are out of reach, he says.

Last year, Mr. Decool became concerned that France could be outdone in carrier-pigeon expertise by China, which maintains a platoon of 50,000 birds with 1,100 trainers for communication in border and coastal areas, according to the Chinese Ministry of National Defense.

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Mitt Romney’s Coma

Photo: United States Congress (PD)

Did you know that Mitt Romney was in a coma for a few days during the `60s?  No, not due to drugs.  Lou Colagiovanni gives the commonly accepted story for the Examiner:

Before Mitt Romney was a politician he was a Mormon missionary in France during the 1960s. It is a little known fact that while he was spreading the gospel through rural France in 1968, Mitt Romney was involved in a head-on collision. Romney was driving, and one of his passengers was killed.

This was first reported by The Boston Globe in 2007 when they told the story of Mitt Romney almost dying in Bernos-Beaulac, France while driving a Citroen DS. Romney, who was 21 at the time, was driving from Pau to Bordeaux as a chauffeur for Duane Anderson the French Mormon mission president.

Romney tells the story of going around a curve and being struck at full speed by a Catholic priest named Albert Marie.

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The First Feminist Film

In the mood for a lost landmark? The Smiling Madame Beudet, from 1922, may be the prototype of feminist cinema. Directed by Germaine Dulac, the lone female figure among the notable French avant-garde filmmakers of the 1920s, it's an impressionistic, surrealist, silent tale of a woman's psychological imprisonment. Her primary source of release is playing her piano, to which her husband holds the keys. Futher explanation available at The House of Mirth and Movies:
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In France, A Reactor Is Being Built Which Will Make Stars

To_Pit_Radial_2Soon we may have a glimpse of the world’s first star garden — imagine sitting within its confines on a summer night. BLDG BLOG writes:

An artificially excavated limestone pit in the south of France will soon host star-making technology. Construction involves inserting a supergrid of rebar into the quarried pit, securing the limestone walls with concrete foundation work, then pouring seismically-stabilized plinths that will support the so-called International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, a kind of concrete garden that produces stars.

Nestled in its semi-subterranean, mine-like site and buzzing inside with radiation-resistant robot elevators, the ITER will recreate, again and again, “the process that powers the sun and most other stars. At extremely high temperatures, hydrogen nuclei will fuse to form helium, spitting out more energy than the process consumes, something that has never yet been achieved by a human-made device.”

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A Quest For De-Baptism In France

Baptême Cathédrale de TroyesReports Eleanor Beardsley for NPR:

In France, an elderly man is fighting to make a formal break with the Catholic Church. He’s taken the church to court over its refusal to let him nullify his baptism, in a case that could have far-reaching effects.

Seventy-one-year-old Rene LeBouvier’s parents and his brother are buried in a churchyard in the tiny village of Fleury in northwest France. He himself was baptized in the Romanesque stone church and attended mass here as a boy.

LeBouvier says this rural area is still conservative and very Catholic, but nothing like it used to be. Back then, he says, you couldn’t even get credit at the bakery if you didn’t go to mass every Sunday.

LeBouvier grew up in that world and says his mother once hoped he’d become a priest. But his views began to change in the 1970s, when he was introduced to free thinkers.

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French Gunman Dies, Guns Blazing

MerahOne can only hope he doesn’t become some sort of perverse martyr. From AFP:

A self-proclaimed Al-Qaeda militant died in a hail of bullets on Thursday as he jumped out of an apartment window at the end of a 32-hour siege in southern France.

Mohamed Merah, the main suspect in a wave of shootings that killed seven people, had tried to blast his way out of the siege in the city of Toulouse after members of an elite force known as RAID entered his flat.

But Interior Minister Claude Gueant said the 23-year-old had been found dead on the ground in a dramatic end to the lengthy standoff.

“The killer came out from the bathroom shooting very violently. The bursts of gunfire were frequent and hard,” Gueant said. “A RAID officer who is used to this kind of thing told me that he had never seen such a violent assault.

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Jew Or Not Jew?

Still available in the good ole USofA … Jessica Ravitz and Saskya Vandoorne report on a bizarre iPhone app for CNN:

“Jew or not Jew?”: That is just part of the question.

An iPhone app bearing this name has been yanked from Apple’s App Store in France amid threats of a lawsuit and demands for its removal.

jew or not jew

The app, still available elsewhere, pulls together a database of thousands of famous Jews – including movie stars, musicians, Nobel Prize winners and more – and offers insights into their backgrounds. Jewish mother? Jewish father? A convert? For $1.99 in the United States, app owners can know.

In an iTunes store description, it says: “Hey, did you know that Bob Dylan is Jewish? Of course I did! But was Marilyn Monroe really Jewish? And what about Harrison Ford? How many times have we had this conversation without being able to know for sure?

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The First Science Fiction Film

Le_Voyage_dans_la_luneDreamy and surreal, it lives up to its name:
A Trip to the Moon (French: Le Voyage dans la lune) is a 1902 French black-and-white silent science fiction film. The film was written and directed by Georges Méliès, assisted by his brother Gaston. It is based loosely on two popular novels of the time: From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne and The First Men in the Moon by H. G. Wells. It is the first science fiction film and uses innovative animation and special effects, including the well-known image of the spaceship landing in the moon's eye.
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French Media Ban The Mention Of Specific Social Networks On Air

e1bd3437e3In an attempt to reduce the amount of ‘free publicity’ given to social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, the French have banned any mention of specific sites in their TV and radio broadcasts. One of the reasons for this ban is to allow a fair platform for smaller networking companies in the future. BBC News reports:

French TV and radio presenters have been banned from mentioning social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter on air.

The country’s broadcasting watchdog has ruled that doing so would break guidelines on advertising.

Stations can still talk about services without naming them, it said.

The French government is seen by many internet watchers as overly keen to regulate in relation to new media and the web.

In a ruling, published online, the Conseil Superieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA), said: “Referring viewers or listeners to the page of the social network without mentioning it has the character of information.

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