Amid increasing concerns over police brutality, France’s police watchdog has been targeted for a controversial reform. We also take a look at the human cost of Armenia’s defeat in Nagorno-Karabakh, Denmark unveils a giant wind-powered vertical farm, and as the pandemic continues to limit movement, a French soap opera has found a high-tech way to deal with the absence of an isolating cast member.
Outrage over high-profile cases of police brutality has revived talk of a culture of impunity in French law enforcement and heightened scrutiny of the country’s police watchdog, the IGPN (l’inspection générale de la Police nationale), which critics say is hamstrung by a lack of independence.
As French President Emmanuel Macron faces accusations that he is moving to curtail the civic rights in his country and reduce transparency, the recent state visit of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi underscored France’s longstanding willingness to turn a blind eye to systemic oppression when it comes to arms sales.
French President Emmanuel Macron promised €15 billion in new funding last June to speed up the move to a greener economy and said he would be ready to call a referendum on revising the constitution to include climate targets. Six months later, he finds himself defending his record against critics.
At least two people have been killed and more than 140 injured in Japan in the last six months as the number of bear sightings in populated areas has reached a five-year high and the country is facing its worst year ever for attacks. Experts warn that with increased rural depopulation, bear attacks could become more frequent still.
Relations between Turkey and France sank to new lows this week as the countries’ heads of state engaged in the latest bout of vitriol that had all the colour and spectacle of a ringside sport.
Inside a warehouse in an industrial zone in Copenhagen vast stacks of plants soar almost to the ceiling. In time, this newly opened vertical farm will be one of the largest in Europe, while power from Denmark’s windfarms will ensure it is carbon-neutral, according to the company behind it.
TV SHOWS ONLINE
Historically, the relationship between the French people and the French police has been testy, but in recent years there’s been a downward spiral, which begs the question: Is the French police facing a crisis of confidence? This spike in mistrust comes amid public fury over a new security bill deemed a danger to civil liberties. President Emmanuel Macron says there’s an urgent need to reform France’s security forces, from their working conditions to community relations. He’s promised to beef up trust between the French and their police. But is it too late?
As the pandemic continues to stand in the way of filming, the popular soap opera “Plus Belle La Vie” (“Life’s So Sweet”) has turned to cutting-edge technology to contend with the absence of a self-isolating cast member. The show, which is set in the southern city of Marseille, called on the help of an anonymous French YouTuber who is a specialist in the art of “deepfake”, a technique that allows faces to be superimposed onto bodies.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex dashed hopes among art lovers and industry professionals when he announced that theatres, museums and cinemas in France would not be permitted to open before the New Year. We take a look at some of the frustration felt in the film industry, where producers and distributors had been looking forward to a lucrative moment for new releases.
With nearly two decades of music behind her, Norwegian singer-songwriter Ane Brun has made a name for herself the world over as a moving and passionate songwriter. This autumn, she’s back with her first body of original music in five years, two albums released a month apart: “After the Great Storm” and “How Beauty Holds the Hand of Sorrow”. She tells FRANCE 24 about the different moods and musical landscapes on the album and how they reflect two sides of her.
FRANCE 24’s film critic discusses the week’s film news, including her favourite French film of the year, the lesbian love story “Deux” (“Two of Us”), which has been submitted to the Oscars in the International Film category. We also look at some remarkable images ahead of the 125th anniversary of the world’s first public movie screening on December 28, 1895, in Paris.
FRANCE 24 spoke to Salah el Din Al-Namroush, defence minister for one of Libya’s two rival governments, the UN-recognised Government of National Accord. He described influential rebel commander Khalifa Haftar, who commands the Libyan National Army and retains controls of large swaths of the country, as a “war criminal” and said no future political agreement could be reached with him.
Lord Chris Patten, who was the last British governor of Hong Kong, said China had betrayed its commitment to preserve “one country, two systems” in the city. “Hong Kong has been put into handcuffs by the Chinese regime,” Patten said, referring to Beijing’s crackdown there in recent months. Speaking of the Chinese Communist Party, he was unequivocal: “You can’t trust [it] further than you can spit.”
On August 4, 2020, twin blasts struck the port of Beirut as some 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate went up in smoke. More than 200 people were killed, thousands were injured and entire neighbourhoods were destroyed. As locals sprang into action, the Lebanese army was on the front line to prevent looting and secure the scene. Our Beirut correspondent followed some of these soldiers as they faced what may turn out to be the biggest challenge of their careers.
YOU ARE HERE
The white blanket of France’s eastern Jura Mountains stretches out for 340 kilometres along the Swiss border. Trekking across this wilderness is an unforgettable journey. We follow a small group of cross-country skiers for a three-day hike through pine trees, frozen lakes, gentle slopes and sunny peaks. At night we stop off at a chalet to sample rösti, a local Jura specialty. At the Franco-Swiss border, we discover a passage where Resistance fighters and Jews risked their lives to flee occupied France between 1941 and 1945.
Last month, a Russian-brokered ceasefire brought an end to six weeks of fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The conflict left thousands dead and forced tens of thousands more to flee their homes. In the aftermath of the war, some in Armenia are still searching for family members who are yet to be accounted for. FRANCE 24’s Roméo Langlois and Mohamed Farhat report.
FRANCE IN FOCUS
In France, patients over the age of 65 account for at least 92 percent of all Covid-19 deaths across the country, and contagion is especially high among senior citizens. But in the face of a second lockdown, it’s been a hard balance to strike for authorities, families and pensioners themselves, caught between the fear of infection and the misery of isolation. To give us her take on this issue, we meet activist Armelle Le Bigot Macaux, who’s the president of the School of European Grand Parents, an association that supports and advocates for grandparents.
The year 2020 will go down in history – although not necessarily for the best reasons! However, back in January, the pandemic wasn’t yet on everyone’s radar, and Paris Fashion Week went ahead as scheduled. People hugged, kissed, and didn’t think twice about hopping on a plane to attend the event. But when France went into lockdown in March, the world of fashion had to reinvent itself, finding new ways to create, consume and communicate.