Week in Review: Lockdown is lifted, pandemic disarmament and kissing goodbye to 'la bise'
This week FRANCE 24 looks at how lockdown is being lifted in France, an ambitious pandemic response strategy that was created and dismantled a decade ago, and whether the French will kiss goodbye to 'la bise'.
On the sidewalks of the Marais, the vibrant central Paris neighbourhood that is both quaint and chic, local residents, merchants and workers enjoyed each other’s company on the first day of the easing of France’s Covid-19 lockdown. FRANCE 24 reports.
An investigation by French daily Le Monde has uncovered the extraordinary chain of events that led successive French governments to build an ambitious pandemic response strategy and then dismantle it almost entirely, leaving the country dangerously exposed to the Covid-19 disease.
Thousands of French schools started to reopen this week as the country emerged from an eight-week lockdown to contain Covid-19. Teachers prepared for pupils according to a strict protocol – with masks, hand sanitiser and markings on the ground for social distancing. But some worried that the measures might not be enough to keep staff and children safe.
On May 13, 1940, Winston Churchill gave his first address to the House of Commons as prime minister. While German troops were tearing through Western Europe, a defiant Churchill famously told the British people that there was one objective: “Victory”. In the meantime, he had “nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat”. FRANCE 24 looks back at that crucial moment in the Second World War, 80 years on.
Faced with critical shortages at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, French authorities initially rejected the notion of a generalised use of face masks before finally touting the device as essential, and in some situations compulsory. The government is now relying on mayors acros France to organise distributions of face masks as the country gradually ends eight weeks of strict lockdown. FRANCE 24's reporters James André and Alexandra Quarini followed volunteers going door to door in the suburb of Les Lilas, east of Paris, to distribute the precious items freely.
This should have been the biggest week of the year for Cannes, when cinema's movers and shakers descend on the French Riviera for the world's most glamorous film festival, showering the city's businesses with cash. Instead, the festival's cancellation has dealt a mighty blow to the local economy, with Covid-19 now threatening further havoc during the all-important summer holiday season. Deprived of its biggest attraction, the city has turned its famed Palais des Festivals into a shelter for the homeless, keeping them safe from the virus. FRANCE 24's Achraf Abid and Clovis Casali report.
Most primary schools in France have re-opened as the country emerges from Covid-19 lockdown. But some local mayors have opted to keep schools shut, prompting parents of a small town in the country’s southeast to set up their own school in local woodland.
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Acclaimed author and political activist Arundhati Roy speaks to FRANCE 24 about the Covid-19 pandemic and the Indian response. She says that the virus amplifies co-morbidities, and it does the same thing to human societies: "It exposes infirmities, weaknesses and prejudices." On the post-pandemic world, she tells us that if we were "sleepwalking" into a surveillance state before, we're now "panic running".
In an interview with FRANCE 24, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet warned that some governments were taking advantage of emergency powers imposed amid the Covid-19 crisis to stifle dissent. She also called for the response to the pandemic to be "driven by science-based facts", rather than politics or the economy.
Since the beginning of the lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic in France, Michelin-starred chef Philippe Etchebest has been warning the government and the general public about the state of the restaurant industry. All restaurants in France have been closed since March 15 and there is no word yet on when they can reopen. In an interview with FRANCE 24, Etchebest warned that "morale couldn't be any lower" among restaurant owners and that there have already been two suicides in the profession.
In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24 and RFI, Madagascar's President Andry Rajoelina defended his promotion of a controversial homegrown remedy for Covid-19 despite an absence of clinical trials. "It works really well," he said of the herbal drink Covid-Organics. Rajoelina claimed that if a European country had discovered the remedy, people would not be so sceptical.
As France slowly opens up after the lockdown, many are wondering about the long-term effects coronavirus is going to have on French society. One big question is "to bise or not to bise?" The "bise" is the traditional French way of saying hello with one or several kisses. As health and hygiene dominate the post-lockdown headlines, Florence Villeminot and Genie Godula discuss whether the French will kiss this cherished practice goodbye. Also, what are the French going to do with their cherished summer vacation? We take a closer look.
Film critic Lisa Nesselson speaks to Eve Jackson about NASA's plans to make Tom Cruise the first actor to shoot a film in outer space. They also discuss the restored version of David Lynch's "Elephant Man" for its 40th anniversary and what an alternative Cannes Film Festival might look like.
Author Stephanie Danler dials in from lockdown in Los Angeles to tell us about the troubled family history that inspired her memoir "Stray". From the insidious nature of addiction to her attempts to forge her own path far from home, Danler reflects on the experiences and relationships that brought her back to the California of her childhood. We then discuss the life lessons learned while working at restaurants in New York and how that chapter of her life became the inspiration for the best-selling novel and TV series "Sweetbitter".
After the 2011 Fukushima disaster – a powerful earthquake and tsunami which killed nearly 18,000 people – the Japanese government took a radical step. It decided to build a 400-kilometre-long reinforced concrete shield along the country's northeast coast in a bid to break up future tsunami waves. This cost €11 billion and took years to build. But despite the government consulting people in each village, locals remain divided over the project as it blocks their view of the sea. Our correspondents report.
On February 24, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the Chinese authorities decided to ban the sale and consumption of certain wild animals, such as the pangolin. At the time, a wildlife market in Wuhan was suspected of being behind the spread of the coronavirus. For the many Chinese farmers who had moved into breeding and selling wild animals such as the bamboo rat (pictured), this announcement came as disastrous news. Our correspondents met one farmer who had invested tens of thousands of euros in his business and can no longer sell his rodents.
During the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, the US-led coalition carried out around 35,000 air strikes. Officially, just over 1,300 civilians in Syria and Iraq were killed as collateral victims. But many NGOs dispute these figures, saying they are in reality much higher. Since the autumn of 2019, the Netherlands has seen heated public debate after it was revealed that a 2015 Dutch air strike caused more than 100 civilian deaths in the Iraqi city of Hawija. A legal procedure is now under way, which could lead to compensation for the survivors. Our team reports.
There were early signs the Covid-19 crisis would have implications far beyond the medical arena. Images of farmers heartbroken as their harvests never left the farm played beside footage of supermarket shelves stripped of essential supplies. In a matter of weeks, the coronavirus had exposed the fragility of our food supply system. While Covid-19 isn't the first or last crisis the world will face, is it the wake-up call needed to reform how our food gets from farm to fork?
Faced with controversial shortages of face masks at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, French authorities initially rejected the notion of a generalised use before finally touting the device as essential, and in some situations compulsory. In this show we look at the relationship between the French and face masks, and whether they are being welcomed by the general public.
Fashion has always known how to adapt to the world around it – and that's never been truer than right now. Face masks, once worn as fashion statements, have become indispensable amid the coronavirus pandemic. Big luxury groups and smaller outfits alike have repurposed their production lines to produce vital protective equipment. Covid-19 is forcing the world of fashion to take a long, hard look in the mirror. Who better to discuss these unprecedented times than Parisian designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac? He joins us on the show under lockdown.
Long after lockdown has been lifted, everybody may still be social distancing, warns the World Health Organization. In a week that's seen new outbreaks of the virus dampen the mood in countries like France where confinement has been eased, the panel of FRANCE 24's François Picard asks about testing, contact tracing and whether national interests are hampering the race to find effective remedies and a vaccine against the coronavirus.
Considered by some to be the greatest moderniser of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie is also the man who let his people starve to death during several major famines. The story of Selassie, who was overthrown in a 1974 coup, was consigned to the dustbin of history for years before renewed interest in 2019. Our reporters retraced his controversial legacy.
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