Bastille Day terror: 'Many dead' after truck crashes into crowd in Nice, France

Nice, France: Social media video showed people fleeing after the incident

A truck crashed into a crowd of people in Nice, France, leaving an unknown number of people dead and many others injured. Authorities are calling it an act of terrorism, and treating it as an active attack. [UPDATE, Fri 8am PT] “At least” 84 people are confirmed dead, with scores more injured. Among the dead are children. It is the third major attack in France in less than 18 months.

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Gorgeous drone footage in a light-drenched Byzantine church

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French cinematographers BigFly took their drone into Byzantine cathedral Église Saint-Louis de Paimbœuf, and the breathtaking results are almost otherworldly. Read the rest

Stunning modern art installations at the Palace of Versailles

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Danish artist Olafur Eliasson has juxtaposed a series of modern outdoor and indoor sculptures at the Palace of Versailles through October 30.

Above: "Waterfall."

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French Assembly passes motion to kill the 3-strike Hadopi copyright law

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In 2010, after years of bitter fighting, the French National Assembly passed "Hadopi," the worst copyright law in history, which provided for disconnecting whole families from the Internet if their network connection was implicated in an accusation of copyright infringement. Read the rest

French tribunal rules "faggot" isn't homophobic

Avoid homophobic salons with a cutting-your-own hair gadget

An employee of a hair salon described as a "faggot" by his boss claimed unfair dismissal, but a Paris tribunal found that the word wasn't a homophobic slur when used at a hair salon, where people are often gay.

The text from the salon boss read: "I am not going to keep [the employee]... I don't have a good feeling about this guy. He's a faggot," according to Liberation.

They used the French term "PD" which translates as the term "faggot".

In the reasoning, the tribunal said: "If we put it in the context of the field of hairdressing, the council considers that the term 'faggot' used by a manager cannot be considered as a homophobic insult, because hair salons regularly employ gay people, notably in female hairdressers, and that poses no problem at all."

The ruling has been noted not just for its trivialization of homophobia (Labour Minister Myriam El Khomri described the ruling as "outrageous" and "shocking"), but also for being not quite lucid. Read the rest

French Parliament votes to imprison tech execs for refusal to decrypt

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Amendment 90 to France's penal reform bill provides for five year prison sentences and €350,000 fines for companies that refuse to accede to law enforcement demands to decrypt devices. Read the rest

"Je Suis Charlie," but your free speech is terrorism

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It's been a year since the horrific Charlie Hebdo attack and the subsequent outpouring of defense of free speech from all quarters -- the insistence that free societies demand tolerance of viewpoints, even deeply offensive ones. Read the rest

Listen to the sounds of 18th century Paris

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Musicologist Mylène Pardoen and a team of 3D artists created this "sonic tableaux" of 18th century Paris based on a 1781 map and numerous historical documents and research on what Paris's Grand Châtelet district, between the Pont au Change and Pont Notre Dame bridges, may have sounded like at the time. From the French National Center for Scientific Research:

“I chose that neighborhood because it concentrates 80% of the background sound environments of Paris in that era, whether through familiar trades—shopkeepers, craftsmen, boatmen, washerwomen on the banks of the Seine, etc.—or the diversity of acoustic possibilities, like the echo heard under a bridge or in a covered passageway,” Pardoen explains. While historical videos with soundtracks are nothing new, this is the first 3D reconstitution based solely on a sonic background: the quality of the sounds (muffled, amplified…) takes into account the heights of the buildings and their construction materials (stone, cob etc.).

This urban soundscape was recreated based on documents from the period, including Le Tableau de Paris, published in 1781 by Louis-Sebastien Mercier, and the work of historians like Arlette Farge, a specialist on the 18th century, Alain Corbin, known for his research on the history of the senses, and Youri Carbonnier, an authority on houses built on bridges. The audio tour includes sounds like the cackling of birds in the poultry market, the hum of flies drawn to the fishmongers’ stalls, the sound of the loom at the woollen mill that used to stand at one end of the Pont au Change, that of the scrapers in the tanneries on Rue de la Pelleterie, of typesetting at the print shop on Rue de Gesvres… all overlaid with the incessant cries of the seagulls that came to feed on the city’s heaps of waste....

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When "open access" means "beware of the leopard"

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This week, media outlets around the world have been trumpeting the French government's decision to make the records of the Vichy regime "open access" and available to researchers. Read the rest

Banksy in the Calais "jungle" reminds us that Steve Jobs was the "son of a Syrian migrant"

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A new stencil/pasteup in the notorious "Jungle" refugee camp in Calais, France depicts Steve Jobs with a satchel and a classic Macintosh. Read the rest

French PM defies Ministry of Interior, says he won't ban open wifi or Tor

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Despite the French Ministry of Interior's demands to crack down on Internet anonymity, Prime Minister Manual Valls has gone on record saying he won't allow such a thing to pass: Read the rest

French Ministry of Interior wants to ban open wifi, Tor

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A leaked memo from the Ministry sets out new bills it would like to see introduced into the French Parliament as early as next month, setting out an ambitious plan to block privacy tools, something only technically possible by recreating China's Great Firewall in a European democracy, spying on all networked activity to prevent the use of Tor. Read the rest

France declares state of emergency, gives government Web-blocking, device search powers

France's National Assembly  lit with the colors of the French flag in Paris, Nov. 19, 2015, to honor victims of terrorist attacks. [Reuters]

In the wake of the Paris attacks, the French National Assembly has declared a state of emergency with sweeping powers, without any substantial debate. Included in the bill are the power to order the nation's ISPs to block websites without any judicial review or court order, and for authorities to seize and search electronic devices without a warrant.

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Air France execs' clothes torn off by protesters after layoff announcement

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Protesters angry over proposed layoffs stormed an Air France executive meeting and cornered Director Pierre Plissonnier and Resources Director Xavier Broseta, tearing off the men's jackets and ripping their shirts off, forcing them to scale a fence to get free. Read the rest

France's plan to legalize mass surveillance will give it the power to spy on the world

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After getting caught breaking its own laws with a mass surveillance program, the French government has introduced legislation that mirrors the NSA's rules, giving it the power to spy on all foreigners -- and any French people who happen to be swept up in the dragnet. Read the rest

Dismaland will be dismantled, used for refugee shelters in Calais

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Banksy's brilliant piss-take on theme-parks has run its course and will now be dismantled, shipped to Calais and turned into temporary shelters for the refugees massed there. Read the rest

Marcel Duchamp's heirs nuke hobbyists' hand-modelled 3D chess-set files

Duchamp -- who gleefully modified others' work and called it his own -- carved a gorgeous art deco chess set (this one) in 1917, which exists now only in grainy archival photos. Read the rest

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