Week in Review

Week in Review: Saudi women take a stand, a French chef sues over cheddar and France mourns Chirac

A Renaissance masterpiece discovered in a kitchen, the Saudi women refusing to wear the abaya, a French chef sues Michelin – after being accused of using cheddar in a soufflé, and France mourns former French president Jacques Chirac.



Mammoth French trial begins for drugmaker, regulator in Mediator scandal

A top French pharmaceutical company and a drugs watchdog went on trial in Paris on Monday over one of France’s largest-ever health scandals. The massive Mediator trial, named for a diabetes drug linked to at least 500 deaths, will last seven months.

Long-lost masterpiece ‘the Holy Grail’ for curators and collectors alike

The discovery in a French kitchen of a 13th-century panel, attributed to Florentine master Cimabue, is set to revive interest in an artist dubbed the “father of Western painting” – and whet the appetites of art collectors around the world.

Cheddar-gate: French chef sues Michelin Guide, claiming he lost a star for using cheddar

A French chef is suing the Michelin Guide – the standard bearer for haute cuisine – after having lost one of his three coveted stars without explanation, his lawyer said Tuesday, aside from having been accused of using cheddar in a cheese soufflé.

Suspected female jihadists on trial for botched terror attack on Paris’s Notre-Dame Cathedral

Five women went on trial at a special Paris court this week for attempting to blow up a car near Notre-Dame Cathedral in 2016, in what prosecutors say was a failed jihadist attack.

Predators or prey? USA Eagles kick off tough Rugby World Cup mission against England

The US rugby team begins its World Cup campaign in Kobe City on Thursday with a tough clash against England. And the rest of the schedule doesn’t get much easier for the relatively green Eagles in Japan.


Jacques Chirac, a giant of French politics, dies at 86

Former French President Jacques Chirac, a major force in French politics who opposed the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, died in Paris on Thursday at the age of 86.

Jacques Chirac: A look back at the life of the former French president

Jacques Chirac, who died in Paris on Thursday at the age of 86, was a towering figure in French politics for more than 40 years. From mayor of Paris to the Élysée Palace, we look back at some of the key moments from the life of the former French president.

The world of Jacques Chirac

Jacques Chirac was a presence on the French political scene for more than 50 years with a career that included two presidential terms, two stints as prime minister and nearly two decades as mayor of Paris. Chirac was also well known overseas, having formed close ties with many African, Asian and Middle Eastern leaders during his long tenure. Concerned about France’s declining influence in the world, he also helped spearhead the creation of French news channel FRANCE 24.

Chirac lauded as great defender of French and European interests

An array of world leaders lined up to praise France's ex-president Jacques Chirac as a great statesman who fiercely defended French and European interests, after his death at 86 on Thursday.


Inside France's black market for sperm

French lawmakers begin debating a government-proposed bill to extend the right to medically assisted procreation to all women, a highly sensitive subject in France. Under current rules, single women and lesbian couples are barred access to fertility treatments. This discrimination has fostered the rise of a thriving underground market for sperm that carries enormous legal and health risks.


400th show special edition: Behind the scenes at The Observers

We're celebrating our 400th programme! Take a look behind the scenes at how we work with our Observers worldwide to find a story and how we verify images and videos found online.



Television picks: What's huge on the small screen?

The latest TV shows to binge on, including Sacha Baron Cohen getting serious as an Israeli secret agent in "The Spy", the gripping political drama "Les Sauvages" and the 25th anniversary of "Friends". We also go through the snubs and surprises from the Emmys.

Music show: British rock band Temples on their new album 'Hot Motion'

If you like your vintage rock and are nostalgic for the 1960s and 1970s, the British band Temples are right up your street with their delightful mixture of psych, glam and prog rock that could have been around back in the days when the Kinks, T. Rex and Pink Floyd dominated the charts. After touring around the world, the boys once again settled near their hometown of Kettering to record their third album, "Hot Motion".


War waste: A never-ending battle

During World War I, 1.5 billion bombshells were fired on a single front line extending 700 kilometres from the North Sea to the French border with Switzerland. A third of them never exploded and many of them remain buried. A century later, France is still involved in an unfinished battle to erase these enduring scars. It could take more than 300 years to rid the soil of this toxic waste, as forgotten shells continue to pose a silent threat to humans and the environment.


Vive le vin! How France transformed winemaking into an art form

Many countries around the world make wine, but in France it’s an art form and an integral part of French culture. Why does French wine have such a good reputation? What’s the trick to choosing a good wine? And what are the latest trends in winemaking? In this episode of French Connections Plus, Genie Godula and Florence Villeminot savour the wonderful world of French wine.


France rethinks its attitude to trash

As an estimated one-third of all food produced across the globe ends up in the bin, we turn our eye to the issue of wastage. But it isn't just foodstuffs. Lots of things that could be put to good use or be used more than once instead end up in landfills. Here in France, one of the sectors which generates the most waste is the construction industry, which accounts for some 70 percent of all waste produced. 


Pakistan's Imran Khan, a superstar faced with the harsh reality of power

Former cricket champion Imran Khan has been Pakistan's prime minister for more than a year now. He has had to navigate rough waters: the Kashmir conflict with neighbouring India has escalated during that time, and the Pakistani economy is in bad shape. How has the reality of power affected Khan's popularity?

THE 51%

The Saudi women who are refusing to wear the abaya

How are women in some of the most conservative countries in the Middle East challenging religious norms? A growing group in Saudi Arabia is refusing to wear the head-to-toe covering known as the abaya. And in Iran, Saudi Arabia's arch foe, there has been public outcry following the death of a female football fan who set herself alight after being arrested.


Exclusive: Carola Rackete, the Sea-Watch captain taken to court over migrant rescues

She is the sea captain who stood up to Italy's former interior minister, Matteo Salvini. In late June, as Salvini refused to take in migrants, Carola Rackete defied authorities and entered the port of Lampedusa in southern Italy, where she disembarked 42 migrants rescued in the Mediterranean by her humanitarian ship, the Sea-Watch 3. The German captain was arrested but a court later ordered her release. 


Hamas and Fatah: Palestinian brothers at war

For decades, Palestinians have been fighting against Israel for statehood and asking for recognition from the international community. But there is also a ferocious struggle for power within, with Fatah dominating in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Arrests, threats and even torture are commonplace when it comes to silencing supporters on the other side.


'Becoming Beauvoir': Her philosophy, love life and contradictions on feminism

Simone de Beauvoir was undisputedly one of the most influential intellectuals of the 20th century. However, recently released personal diaries and letters to her lovers have revealed a new side to the philosopher, writer and renowned feminist. Philosopher and author Kate Kirkpatrick, who has just published "Becoming Beauvoir", tells us why the French feminist may have played down her skills.


France's Tarn gorges: Of myths and mountains

In southern France, we discover the Tarn gorges – Europe's longest and deepest canyon with cliffs plunging 600 metres in parts. The area is home to a whole host of myths, such as the village of Sainte-Enimie, named after a princess. Legend has it that Sainte-Enimie cured leprosy with the healing powers of the river. Meanwhile, perched at the top of the mountains, we meet a group of friends living in an isolated community away from the rest of the world in an idyllic location.

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