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

This castle has been 20 years in the making--and it's not even finished yet

In the north of Burgandy, France, a group of history buffs are hard at work building a castle, from scratch, using traditional building methods and materials--and they've been at it for TWENTY YEARS. The project is supported entirely on the backs of donations and hard, dedicated, manual labor.

Incredible. Read the rest

France's Front National (who support the EU's mandatory copyright filters) furious when Youtube's copyright filters kill their channel

On June 20, an EU committee will vote on mandatory copyright filters -- the idea that everything that gets posted to an EU service should be checked for copyright violations by a machine learning system that will decide what gets published and what gets censored. Read the rest

Real-life "Spider-Man" scales Parisian building to save dangling child, gets rewarded with citizenship

It took 22-year-old Mamoudou Gassama just seconds to reach a child that was dangling from the fifth-floor balcony of a building in Paris, saving the four-year-old boy.

The undocumented migrant worker from Mali was rewarded handsomely for his courageous act. French President Emmanuel Macron met with the man and granted him French citizenship and a job as a firefighter.

USA Today reports:

“Bravo,” Macron said to 22-year-old Mamoudou Gassama during a one-on-one meeting in a gilded room of the presidential Elysee Palace that ended with Gassama receiving a gold medal from the French state for “courage and devotion.”

...The young man said he has papers to legally stay in Italy, where he arrived in Europe after crossing the Mediterranean, ending a long, rough stay in Libya. But he came to France last September to join his older brother, who has lived in France for decades.

Gassama, dressed in tattered blue jeans and white shirt, recounted his experience which took place at around 8 p.m. Saturday when he and friends saw a young child hanging from a fifth-floor balcony.

“I ran. I crossed the street to save him,” he told Macron. He said he didn’t think twice. “When I started to climb, it gave me courage to keep climbing.”

God “helped me,” too, he said. “Thank God I saved him.”

The boy's father was detained overnight for neglect. Read the rest

The first cyberattack took place nearly 200 years ago in France

France created a national mechanical telegraph system in the 1790s; in 1834, a pair of crooked bankers named François and Joseph Blanc launched the first cyberattack, poisoning the data that went over the system in order to get a trading advantage in the bond market. Read the rest

Eminent Domain: registrar gives France.com to the French government, destroying its owner's business

France.com was a popular travel site owned and operated by a U.S.-based French expat. Jean-Noel Frydman registered a trademark, had hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors, and loved his birth country. For years, the French government was happy with it, even giving Frydman an award. In 2016, though, it decided it wanted his domain for itself. Though the .com top-level domain is administered in the U.S., they didn't have to go to court in America to get it. That's because the domain registrar, web.com, gave it to them.

It’s unclear if a US court ever validated the order with an international enforcement of judgment, a common measure for foreign rulings involving US businesses. But if Web.com had enough business in France, that may not have been necessary. Faced with a valid court order and the pressure of an entire government, the company’s lawyers may have simply decided it wasn’t worth fighting the issue in court. (Web.com did not respond to multiple requests for comment on their policy regarding court-ordered transfers.)

Trademarks, the domain-name resolution system, WIPO: all useless if your registrar is shady or easily rolled. This appears to be the first appropriation of a .com domain in this manner and confers upon web.com a uniquely dismal distinction.

Also consider the next level up: operators of fashionable new top-level-domains. They set prices per domain, with lists of "premium" ones with higher prices. So if you establish a successful business at .???, you may succeed in making your domain name "premium." Which means an extra zero or two tacked onto domain renewal fees. Read the rest

The French Republic claims France.com as its own

Long held by French expatriate Jean-Noel Frydman, France.com has been taken from his control. Emails are bouncing and the URL has been forwarded to the government tourism site. Frydman is suing his ISP, domain registrars and the Republic of France to get his domain back.

Via the Verge:

Frydman first registered the domain in 1994, less than three years after the World Wide Web became publicly available. “I was at a crossroads professionally, and I wanted to discover something new,” Frydman says. He found his way to BBS boards and the still-young web, recognizing the possibilities immediately. “I could see it was a new frontier. And like the frontier, if you went in early, you could stake a claim.” A French expat, he was drawn to France.com.

The site went through a number of incarnations, briefly offering France-based news (including Le Monde) for paying subscribers before eventually settling on a travel agency model. For most of its history, the site has offered travel tips alongside packaged vacation deals. With roughly 100,000 visitors a month, Frydman could easily support the site on commissions. He had registered other domain names, too. But over the years, he sold them off, and France.com became his only project.

The French tourism bureau was friendly with Frydman, even giving him a “Best Website” award in 2009. But in 2016, the foreign ministry seemed to have a change of heart. He says they made no effort to buy the domain from Frydman (although he would have been unlikely to sell), but argued in court that the domain was rightful property of the government.

Read the rest

Teachers on four continents stage mass strikes

In the USA, there are tens of thousands of teachers in open rebellion, in Oklahoma, West Virginia, Arizona, Kentucky, and things are heating up in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Iowa and Colorado. Read the rest

Holocaust survivor's death in Paris being investigated as a hate crime

As a child in 1942, Mireille Knoll escaped the capture of Jews by police in occupied France during The Vélodrome d'Hiver roundup. The majority of those arrested during the roundup were sent to Auschwitz, where they were killed. Her evasion of France's Nazi puppet police force during the second world war allowed her to survive the horrors of the Holocaust, unlike so many of her neighbors and relations. But she couldn't escape racism. Her time on earth came to an end this past week after she was stabbed 11 times and left to die in her burning apartment, in Paris, France. She was 85 years old.

According to the The Washington Post, Knoll's murder has French journalists and Jewish advocacy groups concerned that, given the area and brutality in which her life was ended, there could be reasonable grounds for the murder to be considered a hate crime. As in North America, Anti-Semitic hate crimes have been on the rise in France. In the past year, bigots and fascists who were once too afraid to show their hate in public have made their way into the mainstream, emboldened by the politics of our times.

From the Washington Post:

Jewish advocacy groups were quick to put the case within the context of rising anti-Semitism in France and to point out the similarities to another high-profile case being investigated as anti-Semitic: the April 2017 killing of Sarah Halimi, a 66-year-old Orthodox Jewish physician and kindergarten teacher who was beaten in her apartment and then thrown out a window.

Read the rest

Disney announces $2.5B upgrade to Paris's Walt Disney Studios, the worst Disney park in the world

When Disney built Euro Disney (now Disneyland Paris), it was required to partner with a French company that borrowed heavily, couldn't get out from under its debts, and ended up beholden to creditors who forced it to limit spending on the park, trapping it in a cycle of unpopularity and underinvestment. Read the rest

Nutella riots spread in France

France is in turmoil. Heavy discounts of Nutella have resulted in "scenes of violence" at supermarkets as shoppers vie to obtain as much of the chocolate and hazelnut spread as possible.

"They are like animals. A woman had her hair pulled, an elderly lady took a box on her head, another had a bloody hand," one customer told French media. A member of staff at one Intermarché shop in central France told the regional newspaper Le Progrès: "We were trying to get in between the customers but they were pushing us."

Ferrero, manufacturers of the delicious spread, said it had no part in the supermarket's decision to discount Nutella and that it "regretted Thursday's violence."

Read the rest

Peeping inside Paris's new nudist restaurant

O’Naturel is a nudist restaurant in Paris. The New Yorker's Henry Alford had a bite and an eyeful:

Read the rest

A Lorde superfan hung 'Melodrama' in the Louvre

After dodging security, photographer Nina Richard quietly hung Lorde's well-reviewed, sophomore album Melodrama onto the walls of Le Musée du Louvre in Paris, France.

Presenting her photographic evidence, she tweeted:

Why the Louvre?

According to Slate, the act of displaying the album in the museum is a way of bringing the lyrics of its fourth track, "The Louvre," to life:

But we're the greatest, they'll hang us in the Louvre

Down the back, but who cares, still the Louvre

Melodrama was recently nominated for a 2018 Grammy Award.

(Slate) Read the rest

More posts