In the News

Air quality balloon hovers over Paris

Why is now that it seems every other country and city comes up with bigger ideas than we see in America?

This big weather balloon in Paris changes color with the air quality. I hope it doesn't become a fixture as old as the Tour Eiffel, but I love the vision of this other-worldly object floating above the city. Paris, London, K-L, Shanghai...the list goes on and on of cities breaking the horizon with new ideas.

In the News

Amazing story: Infant in Paris falls 7 stories, bounces and lives!

An astounding story of fast thinking and fantastic luck.

A baby boy survived a fall from a seven-story window in Paris by bouncing off a café awning and into the arms of the doctor who saw the infant fall Monday evening.

The 18-month-old toddler was playing unsupervised with his 3-year-old sister when the accident occurred.

[From Doctor Catches Infant Who Fell Seven Stories | AHN]

If you click through, the other amazing coincidence is that the cafe was closed for a holiday and the awning should have been folded up. It had jammed and had been left open.

In the News

French politics will not be swayed by Bin Laden tape, Sarkozy says –

The other report cited was Christian Science Monitor; this from CNN which is more ominous:

Paris, France (CNN) -- The French government will not be swayed by a threatening message apparently recorded by Osama Bin Laden, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Friday.

"It goes without saying that France does not let its politics be dictated by anyone, and certainly not by terrorists," Sarkozy said while attending the European Union summit in Brussels Friday.

Bin Laden warned France to get its troops out of Afghanistan and not to oppress Muslims at home in a tape broadcast by the Al-Jazeera network Wednesday and authenticated by the French Foreign Ministry on Thursday.

In the News

France to leave Afghanistan – Bin Laden attack cancelled?

France denies any connection between its decision to remove troops from Afghanistan in 2011 and Osama bin Laden’s pledge to attack French troops.

Interesting turn of events. I'm happy that the threat may be decreased, but it's hard not to be a bit cynical about the timing. I don't think we should any longer be occupying Afghanistan either, but I don't think bowing to the demands of Bin Laden is exactly the way I'd go about announcing a departure. But I'm not the King of France either, so what do I know?

In the News

New Bin Laden Tape Warns France

This is not a happy development since we're three weeks from our annual Thanksgiving trip to Paris.

PARIS — Osama bin Laden warned France in an audiotape broadcast by Al Jazeera television on Wednesday that it would face killings and kidnappings if it did not withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

He also justified the kidnapping of five French citizens in Niger last month, saying that France mistreated its Muslims.

“The equation is very clear and simple: as you kill, you will be killed; as you take others hostages, you will be taken hostages; as you waste our security we will waste your security,” Mr. bin Laden said.

[From New Bin Laden Tape Warns France -]
Culture, Understand France and the French

Good news/Bad news – no more smoking outside French cafés

Well, no more heaters that allow folks to sit outside and smoke. Paris is moving to ban outdoor heaters at sidewalk cafés.

I've heard more and more that these propane heaters are the single worst thing many homes have in the way of polluting devices. Still, I guess like wood-burning fireplaces, it's sad to see them go.

France long held out against the smoking bans being enacted worldwide in public places, but finally caved in three years ago. But while the inside of Left Bank cafés has been less foggy, the café-clope (coffee and cigarette) culture of the city has continued to thrive by simply spilling into the streets, thanks to the gas heater.

In the News

French expect Americans to come back to Paris

MSNBC reports that last year, American tourism was down 40% versus a decade ago. Worse, the Paris tourism office says 2009 traffic was down another 3.4% versus the prior year.

Surprisingly, while we only read of a double-dip recession, French tourism officials expect that Americans will be coming back "as the the U.S. economy improves. I have no doubt they are correct, but I don't thing that will mean in 2011.