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Week in Review

Mass strike in France, tax threat on cheese, repression in Iran, secrets of fashion press officers

From left: Adam Driver in "Marriage Story", a cheese display at Beaufils cheesemonger in Paris, Elia Suleiman in "It Must Be Heaven".
From left: Adam Driver in "Marriage Story", a cheese display at Beaufils cheesemonger in Paris, Elia Suleiman in "It Must Be Heaven". © Netflix; Charles Platiau/Reuters; Neue Visionen.

FRANCE 24 this week explores the 'unlimited' strike that has shutdown public transport across the country, the USA's threat to raise the taxes on French cheese, Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi's slamming of the recent deadly protests in Iran, and we look at the secret lives of the true masters of the fashion world – the press officers.

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ARTICLES

Screengrab from strike march on December 5, 2019.
Screengrab from strike march on December 5, 2019. FRANCE 24

 

Thousands march in Paris to protest French government's pension reform plan

Thousands of people from different sectors of public life rallied at Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est in the French capital on Thursday to begin a mass demonstration against President Emmanuel Macron’s controversial pension reform.

An eerily empty Gare du Nord on Thursday, December 5, 2019.
An eerily empty Gare du Nord on Thursday, December 5, 2019. Sophie Gorman, FRANCE 24.

'Where is everyone?' Paris's Gare du Nord eerily empty as travellers avoid national strike

Eurostar trains to and from Paris were almost empty on Thursday December 5. Travellers had clearly decided to avoid any complications ensuing from the major strike starting in France that was termed 'unlimited'.

France looks set for potentially its biggest strike in decades

The widespread transport strike looks set to be the most comprehensive strike the country has experienced in decades. Many have predicted that the country will be brought to a standstill and it's possible the strikes could last until Christmas.

The market place in the town centre of Ilkeston, Erewash's biggest town.
The market place in the town centre of Ilkeston, Erewash's biggest town. Tom Wheeldon, FRANCE 24.


Whoever wins Erewash wins Downing Street – and Brexit’s the hot-button issue

Since the constituency of Erewash in England was created in 1983, the party that wins it has also triumphed in the UK general elections. Traditionally, voters here tend to favour whichever party is seen as the most economically competent. But this dynamic has become more complicated ahead of the December 12 polls: Erewash voted strongly for Brexit, even though it threatens to undermine the area’s burgeoning prosperity.

French students still affected by social inequality despite egalitarian 'façade'

France is still one of the countries where student performance is most affected by their economic and social background, the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) found in its survey published on Tuesday. It confirms an old tendency: although France's public school system is feted abroad, it does very little to solve social inequalities at home.

 

A cheese display inside Beaufils cheesemonger in Paris, France on March 27, 2019.
A cheese display inside Beaufils cheesemonger in Paris, France on March 27, 2019. Charles Platiau, REUTERS


US vows 100% tariffs on French cheese, champagne, luxury goods over digital tax

The US government on Monday said it may slap punitive duties of up to 100 percent on $2.4 billion in imports of French Champagne, handbags, cheese and other products, after concluding that France's new digital services tax would harm US tech companies.

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THE INTERVIEW

 

Screengrab of Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi, as she slams repression in Iran, 'unprecedented' since 1979.
Screengrab of Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi, as she slams repression in Iran, 'unprecedented' since 1979. FRANCE 24

Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi slams repression in Iran, 'unprecedented' since 1979

Shirin Ebadi, the exiled Iranian lawyer and human rights activist who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, speaks to FRANCE 24 about the deadly protests in Iran over the past two weeks. According to the NGO Amnesty International, at least 208 demonstrators have been killed in the crackdown, the highest death toll since the 1979 revolution.

NATO chief 'optimistic' that allies will support France in Sahel region

France's NATO allies would "very seriously" consider any official request by President Emmanuel Macron to become more involved in the war against Islamist groups in the Sahel region of Africa, NATO's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told FRANCE 24 on Friday. Stoltenberg said he expects NATO allies to give a "positive response".

FOCUS

Firefighters are overstretched in Paris.
Firefighters are overstretched in Paris. FRANCE 24

 

Striking not even an option for overstretched Paris Fire Brigade

As a nationwide transport strike makes it difficult for French people to get to work, one group of workers remain on the frontline: the "sapeurs-pompiers" or firefighting paramedics, who make up the backbone of the French capital's emergency services. The overstretched Paris brigade of 8,000 firefighters respond to half a million calls every year, many of which turn out to be unnecessary. Our reporters have been following one team in the capital who, like their colleagues in Marseille, don't have the right to strike. 

'Children's shipwreck': Italian maritime authorities in the dock, six years on

An unprecedented court case gets under way this Tuesday in the Italian capital Rome. Two Italian officers – one from the Italian navy and the other from the coastguard – are accused of manslaughter and of failure to assist a person in danger. On October 11, 2013, a boat carrying mostly Syrian asylum seekers sank in the Mediterranean. Among the 268 people who drowned were at least 60 children. Survivors accuse the Italian authorities of failing to provide prompt assistance, despite numerous distress calls.

Special report: Iraqi families demand accountability after protest deaths

After two months of unrelenting protests, unrest continues across Iraq and the death toll continues to climb. So far, more than 400 people have lost their lives in the anti-government demonstrations, mostly young unarmed protesters, since they broke out on October 1 in Baghdad and predominantly Shiite southern Iraq.

FASHION

Screengrab from a Paris fashion show as we explore the secret lives of fashion press officers.
Screengrab from a Paris fashion show as we explore the secret lives of fashion press officers. FRANCE 24

 

Fashion's silent titans: The secret lives of press officers

They're key actors in the world of fashion – but rarely seen or heard. It’s the job of press officers to come up with innovative communications strategies to get the media to relay their brand's messaging. And then there's the small matter of getting customers to believe the brand is worth those hefty price tags. It’s complicated work that requires diplomacy, a way with words and audacity.

YOU ARE HERE

Hiking in France's stunning Verdon natural park

The Verdon Natural Regional Park is located in the southeast of France. Nestled in the hollow of a rock, the village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is an architectural treasure trove. The inhabitants are famous for making earthenware, a know-how they transmit from generation to generation. Meanwhile, about 20 kilometres away is the mythical Blanc-Martel trail.

ENCORE!

Screengrab of Elia Suleiman on Encore.
Screengrab of Elia Suleiman on Encore. FRANCE 24

 

Elia Suleiman: 'The world today has become a global Palestine'

Elia Suleiman, a famed figure in Palestinian cinema, came into the FRANCE 24 studio as his new film "It Must Be Heaven" hits French cinemas and Paris's Cinémathèque hosts a retrospective of his work. He speaks to Eve Jackson about why Palestinian directors can be funny, how he thinks the press overanalyse his work and why he shows the world as if it were a microcosm of Palestine in his new film.

Screengrab from Marriage Story reviewed on Encore!
Screengrab from Marriage Story reviewed on Encore! FRANCE 24

 

Film show: Lessons in divorce with Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver

Film critic Lisa Nesselson speaks to Eve Jackson about the week’s film news, including Noah Baumbach's "Marriage Story", which is being released on Netflix this week. Hailed as one of the best films of the year, it stars Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver. They also talk about Elia Suleiman's new film, "It Must Be Heaven", plus a new French film based on a sordid true story that took place in New York between 2010 and 2012, "Chanson Douce", and the bespoke Talking Heads concert film "Stop Making Sense", which is re-released in France this week.

Screengrab of Franck Amsallem on Encore!
Screengrab of Franck Amsallem on Encore! FRANCE 24

 

Music show: Franck Amsallem's jazzy tribute to the Big Apple and the USA

Franco-American jazz pianist Franck Amsallem is back with a tenth album, "Gotham Goodbye". It features nine original compositions and pays tribute to New York City and the years he spent in America. He tells FRANCE 24 what it feels like to have his compositions in the bible of score music for jazz musicians. Also, French musician and composer Yann Tiersen releases an analog gem called "Portrait", and Muse celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut album, "Showbiz".

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