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News seen on the web and about the web. From Monday to Friday at 8.20 am Paris time.



Latest update : 2014-03-18

Online reactions to Paris air pollution crisis

In this edition: Parisians report on the unusually high levels of pollution in the French capital; captive Saudi princesses speak out on Twitter; and a data visualization of European air traffic on a typical summer day.


Scores of Parisians have taken to wearing protective masks over the past few days as unusually high levels of pollution hit the French capital… and they have also taken to social networks to share their accounts of the current crisis.

Residents have been posting photos online illustrating the methods used to protect from pollution, and we are also seeing numerous shots, shared by those living in and around Paris, of the cloud of smog which had settled over the City of Lights. Astonishing images, where some of the capital`s most famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, the Tour Montparnasse, and the Sacré Cœur are barely visible behind the thick fog of pollution.

Some Parisians are concerned the current high levels of pollution are just the beginning and that an environmental apocalypse is on the way. Web users with vivid imaginations have been sharing these images of a dried out river Seine or a couple wearing gas masks as they walk through the streets of the capital, depicting a possible Paris of the future.

Not everyone is quite so perturbed by the pollution however, some have been making light of the situation. This drawing for example parodies the type of conversation Parisians are now having when they go out for a coffee.


Jawaher and Sahar, two daughters of the King of Saudi Arabia have decided to speak out publicly on Twitter, claiming they have been held prisoner in the royal palace for the past 13 years. Their mother, Alanoud Alfayez who is currently living in exile in London, backs their claims and says there are two other sisters also being held against their will within the royal compound.

And if this photo and description from one of the captives in anything to go by, then their prison is no gilded cage; the palace is run down and in a state of neglect. According to their mother, the Saudi princesses are being threatened by their father King Abdullah, who has reportedly told them “after my death your brothers will torture you more than me”.

The princesses blame their father for their imprisonment but they are also frustrated with human rights groups and the West saying they remain silent to human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia and, using their own experience as an example, say leaders in the West do too little for the human rights of women and children in the country.

They do have the support of web users however, who have been posting under the #free_the_princesses Twitter hashtag. Some have called upon Barack Obama, with an online petition amongst other things, as he is scheduled to meet with King Abdullah during his trip to Saudi Arabia at the end of March.


When Zach Belden set up the grandmabetty33 Instagram account to document his grandma Betty`s cancer battle, he probably wasn’t expecting to turn her into the latest web sensation… but this is exactly what`s happening Betty now has over 73,000 followers and counting on the social network: web users hailing the energy and bravery of the 80 year old grandmother, who continues to love life in the face of this devastating illness.


Scientists at the NGO Ocearch have set up the “Shark Tracker” project, so you can do just that. Follow the movements of dozens of sharks fitted with tracking devices. Sharks like April who is currently off the coast of New York or Lydia who is making her way across the Atlantic after leaving Florida in March 2013. The aim of the project is to learn more about sharks’ movements in order to better protect them. 


American photographer Karen Abad borrowed her friends’ daughter Olivia, and dressed up the baby girl as a host of well-known TV characters, paying tribute to some of the most popular TV shows of the past few years; including Breaking Bad, Walking Dead and also House of Cards… the results are pretty impressive and available to view on Karen Abad`s Tumblr blog


This mesmerizing video was put together by NATS, the main air navigation service provider in the United Kingdom. Available to view on Vimeo, it`s a data visualization of air traffic in Europe on a typical summer day and shows us the comings and goings of some 30,000 aircrafts in European airspace.

By Electron Libre



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