After months of insisting that #Article13 doesn't require filters, top EU Commissioner says "Article 13 requires filters"

The months of debate over Article 13 of the new EU Copyright Directive (passed in a tragicomedy of errors when some MEPs got confused and pushed the wrong buttons), the most contentious issue was whether the rule would require online service providers to spend millions on copyright filters, which are known to be error-prone and the source of mountains of algorithmic censorship, as well as being easily abused by would-be censors who can make false copyright claims with impunity and use them to prevent images, videos, sounds and words from ever appearing on the internet. Read the rest

Mystery solved: why has a beach in France been blighted by washed-up parts for toy Garfield phones for more than 30 years?

For more than thirty years, the beaches of France's Iroise Marine Nature Park have been blighted by a seemingly endless stream of a highly specific form of washed-up plastic waste: part of a toy Garfield telephone -- more than 200 pieces in all.

Read the rest

An astounding gigapixel panorama of Paris affords "an eyeful of the Eiffel"

[Editor's note: Gigapixel panorama impressario Jeffrey Martin (previously) offers us "an eye full from Eiffel" in this astounding gigapixel pano of Paris -Cory]

I shot this gigapixel photo in autumn 2018 from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Using an SLR camera and a variety of telephoto lenses, I shot a few thousand photos from both levels of the Eiffel Tower. The image you see here was shot from the top level, and you can actually see the Eiffel Tower itself in the image. Read the rest

Costa Rican measles outbreak traced to unvaccinated French tourists

Costa Rica had been measles-free for five years, until Feb 18, when visiting French tourists took their unvaccinated five-year-old son to a doctor to investigate a "rash" that turned out to be measles -- the boy's mother was also unvaccinated. Read the rest

French TV cuts Facebook Live video from desecrated Jewish cemetery due to anti-Semitic troll swarm

On Wednesday, the TV network France 3 was forced to cut off a live Facebook broadcast from a desecrated Jewish cemetery in eastern France when trolls swarmed the feed and filled it with anti-Semitic hate comments. Read the rest

As the German Government Abandons Small Businesses, the Worst Parts of the EU Copyright Directive Come Roaring Back, Made Even Worse

Last month, it seemed like Europe had been saved from a dangerous attempt by corporate lobbyists to hijack copyright legislation in order to add a few points to their balance sheets, at the cost of a free, fair, open internet. Now, thanks to Germany's decision to turn its back on small European tech companies, the EU is poised once again to hand permanent control over Europe's internet to the United States’ Big Tech sector, snuffing out the small- and medium-sized enterprises of Europe.

The new European Directive on Copyright in the Single Market is a grab-bag of updates to EU-wide copyright rules, which have been frozen in time since their last refresh, in 2001. But the Directive been imperiled since last spring, when German MEP Axel Voss took over as rapporteur, and promptly revived two controversial, unworkable clauses.

To remain credible, the EU must reject this haggling between giant commercial interests—and put the public good first.

Voss's deadly pet ideas were, first, a proposal to let news sites decide who could link to them and to charge for the privilege (Article 11); and second, a proposal to require every platform for public communication to invent and deploy copyright filters that would prevent any user from infringing copyright, even momentarily, by suppressing any communications that appeared to contain a copyrighted work of any kind (Article 13).

The response was swift and decisive: more than a million Europeans promptly wrote to their MEPs to demand that the Directive be voted on clause-by-clause, allowing for Articles 11 and 13 to be amended. Read the rest

As Macron and Merkel meet to rescue the #CopyrightDirective, the world's libraries call for its rejection

The EU's plan to censor the internet with algorithms that block anything that might be a copyright infringement has only days to go before it will be too late for a vote before the upcoming elections, and so far, progress has been stalled thanks to France's unwillingness to accept tiny, meaningless concessions that Germany feels they must win to retain political credibility. Read the rest

Archaeological evidence for the Iron Age practice of embalming your enemies' severed heads with resin and displaying them

Ancient Roman texts and sculptures describe a Celtic practice of severing your defeated enemies' heads, embalming them with resin and plant oils, and displaying them as war trophies: now, archaeologists have unearthed evidence of the practice at Le Cailar, the 2,500 year old walled city near the Rhone. Read the rest

Teen self-injects verses from the Bible and the Koran that have been transposed into DNA

In the first injection in a human being of macromolecules whose primary structure was developed from a religious text a French 16 year old named Adrien Locatelli describes how he paid Vector Builder $1300 to transcode verses from the Bible and the Koran into macromolecules and then injected one verse into each leg (the Bible verse was written into the DNA of an adeno-associated virus and injected into his left thigh; the Koran verse was encoded into DNA but not merged with a virus and was then injected into his right thigh). Read the rest

Facing unpaid overtime, cuts and austerity, French cops threaten to join Gilets Jaunes protesters

When French President (and ex-investment banker) Macron decided to cut taxes for the super-rich and make up the shortfall by taxing diesel fuel (widespread in poor rural areas) but not private jet fuel, he put the already-precarious French treasury into an even more precarious state. Read the rest

Yellow Vests stand for and against many contradictory things, but are united in opposition to oligarchy

From a distance, it's hard to understand the nuance of the mass "gilets jaunes" protests that rocked France; with one in five French people identifying as a yellow vest and more vests marching in Basra, Baghdad and Alberta (and with Egypt's autocrats pre-emptive cracking down on the sale of yellow vests ahead of elections), it's clearly a complicated and fast-spreading phenomenon. Read the rest

Canal+ commits copyfraud, gets Banksy's painting-shredding video removed from Youtube

In October, a delightful prank by the artist Banksy involved a painting of his shredding itself shortly after a Sotheby's bidder committed to spending £1.04m to buy it. Read the rest

Those violent 'yellow jacket' protests in France? Facebook's behind that, too.

Facebook's changes to content display algorithms met with “the fierce devotion in France to local and regional identity,” and the so-called yellow jacket protests in France exploded. Read the rest

Chinese spies attempted to compromise 4,000 French citizens on LinkedIn

With the midterm elections creeping up, everyone in the media's been busier than a cat trying to bury a turd in a marble floor watching for signs of Russian interference. Given the amount of chaos that Russia's cyber operatives have been responsible for over the past few years, this is totally understandable. However, it might be a good idea for the media to keep an eye on China's online comings and goings, as well.

According to a report released by the French government, Chinese cyber operatives have been hard at work attempting to compromise or enlist thousands of well-placed professionals and intellectuals online to leverage in the real world.

From IntelNews:

The report describes Chinese efforts to approach senior French scientists, business executives, academics and others, as “widespread and elaborate”, and warns that it poses an “unprecedented threat against the national interests” of the French state. It goes on to state that nearly 4,000 carefully selected French citizens have been approached by Chinese intelligence operatives via the LinkedIn social media platform. Of those nearly half, or 1,700, have leading posts in French industry, while the remaining 2,300 work in the public sector. In their totality, those targeted are involved nearly every area of industry and government administration, including those of nuclear energy, telecommunications, computing and transportation, said the report.

Uh Oh.

In many cases, the Chinese operatives used fake identities, pretending to be headhunters for overseas corporations and think tanks on LinkedIn. As part of the ruse, the ops would invite their targets on all-expenses-paid trips to China for job interviews or research symposiums – whatever turned their target's crank. Read the rest

Famous racist does everyone a favor and dies

Racists, emboldened by the policies of populist far-right leaning governments, seem to be everywhere these days. They're having rallies, breaking up families at borders and beating folks in the streets. Happily, time is a wheel: as our lives our lessened by the emergence of fresh bigoted bullshit, we're also gifted with what I hope is the incredibly painful passing of those who made it their life's work to spew hate and kindle chaos.

From The New York Times:

Robert Faurisson, a former literature professor turned anti-Semitic propagandist whose denial of the Holocaust earned him multiple prosecutions, died on Sunday at his home in Vichy, France. He was 89.

Mr. Faurisson was regarded as a father figure by contemporary French exponents of Holocaust denial, the extremist fringe in a country with a long tradition of anti-Semitism. Contemporary far-right figures like the propagandist Alain Soral and Dieudonné, who calls himself a humorist, have followed in his footsteps, but none have had the long-range tenacity of Mr. Faurisson.

At least in death, he might finally be able to contribute to something useful--fertilizing palm trees to provide observant Jews with shelter from the elements during Sukkot, for example.

While things feel as permissive as hell here in North America, the French weren't willing to put up with Faurisson's holocaust denying nonsense. According to The New York Times, he became the first person in France to be convicted for saying that the Holocaust, a crime against humanity, never happened. More recently, the prick was fined 10,000 euros by the French courts for "propounding 'negationism'" in interviews published on the internet."

Good riddance. Read the rest

Kerwax: analog home mixer, designed and manufactured in France

Kerwax Studios in Brittany, France sports some of the most beautiful, vintage audio mixing gear you'll ever see; the studios have made a "replica" in the form of an "excerpt" that does two channels' mixing, with customizable tube options to "shape the sound." No word on price. At a guess: "If you have to ask, you can't afford it." Read the rest

Crows being trained to pick up trash at French park

You can befriend crows and, apparently, also train them to pick up trash by rewarding them with food.

The Guardian:

Six crows trained to pick up cigarette ends and rubbish will be put to work next week at a French historical theme park, according to its president.

“The goal is not just to clear up, because the visitors are generally careful to keep things clean” but also to show that “nature itself can teach us to take care of the environment”, said Nicolas de Villiers of the Puy du Fou park, in the western Vendee region.

Rooks, a member of the crow family of birds that also includes the carrion crow, jackdaw and raven, are considered to be “particularly intelligent” and in the right circumstances “like to communicate with humans and establish a relationship through play”, Villiers said.

The birds will be encouraged to spruce up the park through the use of a small box that delivers a nugget of bird food each time the rook deposits a cigarette end or small piece of rubbish.

Rook at this mess: French park trains crows to pick up litter

photo by Mr.TinDC Read the rest

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