Josh Rogin writes: Secretary of State John Kerry has been painting an apocalyptic picture of what would happen if Congress killed the Iran nuclear deal. Among other things, he has warned that “our friends in this effort will desert us.” But the top national security official from one of those nations involved in the negotiations, France, has a totally different view: He told two senior U.S. lawmakers that he thinks a Congressional no vote might actually be helpful.
His analysis is already having an effect on how members of Congress, especially House Democrats, are thinking about the deal.
The French official, Jacques Audibert, is now the senior diplomatic adviser to President Francois Hollande. Before that, as the director general for political affairs in the Foreign Ministry from 2009 to 2014, he led theFrench diplomatic team in the discussions with Iran and the P5+1 group. Earlier this month, he met withDemocrat Loretta Sanchez and Republican Mike Turner, both top members of the House Armed Services Committee, to discuss the Iran deal. The U.S. ambassador to France, Jane Hartley, was also in the room.
“He basically said, if Congress votes this down, there will be some saber-rattling and some chaos for a year or two, but in the end nothing will change and Iran will come back to the table to negotiate again and that would be to our advantage…He thought if the Congress voted it down, that we could get a better deal.”
— Loretta Sanchez
According to both lawmakers, Audibert expressed support for the deal overall, but also directly disputed Kerry’s claim that a Congressional rejection of the Iran deal would result in the worst of all worlds, the collapse of sanctions and Iran racing to the bomb without restrictions.
“He basically said, if Congress votes this down, there will be some saber-rattling and some chaos for a year or two, but in the end nothing will change and Iran will come back to the table to negotiate again and that would be to our advantage,” Sanchez told me in an interview. “He thought if the Congress voted it down, that we could get a better deal.”
(Before the publication of this article on Thursday, Jacques Audibert, the Elysee Palace office and the French Embassy in Washington were asked for comment, and did not respond. After its publication, the embassy released a statement saying it “formally denies the content of the remarks” attributed to Audibert by the two members of Congress, and U.S. Ambassador Hartley described them as “inaccurate.” Audibert tweeted that he “never said or suggested that a no vote from Congress … might be helpful or lead to a better deal,” and has not responded to requests for an interview. Read the rest of this entry »
“The police shot at the car in self-defense, but it was able to drive away, the official said. No one was hurt, and police are searching for the car.”
The incident is not believed to be related to terrorism, he said.
The official, who did not give his name as a matter of standard policy, said the car initially hit another vehicle. When stopped by the police, the driver refused to obey orders and proceeded instead to drive toward police officers in the Place de la Concorde who were placing a safety barricade for the Tour de France bicycle race. Read the rest of this entry »
It looks like any other old photograph you might find at an estate sale, but the gentleman highlighted in the 2nd image is someone who’s never been seen in photographic form: Vincent Van Gogh.
A pair of collectors found the image at an estate sale and brought it to a team of experts in France who verified that it really was the famous painter.
On a December morning, two somewhat hesitant people stood on the sidewalk of the Boulevard Haussmann, looking for a pop-up gallery we had opened for a period of six months next to the Musée Jacquemart André.
They had traveled over 800 kilometers, inquiring with different people who discouraged them and said their search seemed impossible. Perhaps the most difficult part was finding me, but thanks to their perseverance, and the kindness of a neighbor, Frédéric, the meeting happened.
The photograph they had brought to show me was small, dark and rather difficult to see. Six characters were around a table. The light was pale, perhaps it was a winter afternoon.
They told me, still hesitant, that they thought they recognized the people in it, artists in whom they had long been interested. They were collectors and liked the painters of the late 19th century, in particular the neo-impressionists. They also said it was possible that one of the figures around the table was someone whose true face had never been seen.
I tried to avoid making a judgment too quickly and considered how I should react. I didn’t want to start doing what Americans call “wishful thinking,” that trap into which collectors and researchers fall, where their reasoning is governed only by what they want to see.
I asked them if they could describe the circumstances in which they had discovered the object. To my delight, they were extremely precise, talking about their quest for old paper, old books and old trinkets. Sometimes what’s left in a house wouldn’t be worth the cost of moving to an auction house so everything is sold on site. That’s where the photograph had come from, two years before. And they remembered perfectly having found a similar photograph, manuscripts, a letter from a major poet of the time, and the archives and catalogue of a bookseller named Ronald Davis.
They said his name without any particular emphasis on it, and it was as though a beam of light had shone down on me. Ronald Davis’s name had been long forgotten, but I had recently encountered it by chance while researching a portrait of Charles Baudelaire.
Davis had been a figure in Paris in the 1920s, a model for many sellers of old books. He was known for being an editor and friend of Paul Valéry. One of his clients was the wealthy Myriam de Rothschild. Read the rest of this entry »
French company Thales promises robots to replace immigration officers
French electrical systems company Thales premiered its new equipment designed to speed up passage through airports.
In their vision of the future, passengers will no longer deal with check-in desks — an innovation already making inroads in many airports.
To take that even further, Thales has designed a machine that not only scans passports and prints boarding passes, but also records an image of the passenger’s face and iris, which are then shared with computers around the airport.
The images are already in the system when the passenger arrives at the immigration desk, allowing a tall, white robot to
automatically confirm the person’s identity without the need for human border staff.
“You would only need one agent for every four or five machines,” said Pascal Zenoni, a Thales manager presenting the equipment at the air show.
“These systems can free up staff for the police and create more space in the airport,” he added.
The passenger’s face is also printed in encrypted form on the boarding pass so that it can be scanned by staff at the gate for a final identity check.
Thales hopes to build on its expertise as the maker of biometric passports and ID cards for 25 countries, including France.
Perhaps robots will be drafted in at French airports where the border police have been criticized for not being polite enough.
Last week the French foreign minister unveiled a new campaign aimed at making France more polite for visitors. It includes one measure that will force border police to say “Hello, “thank you” and “goodbye” to every passenger as they check their passport.
Meanwhile, in another air show stand, competitors Safran discussed their new systems for coping with the giant amount of data being collected on passengers. Read the rest of this entry »
Saint-Aignan (France) (AFP) – Two families of endangered monkeys were stolen from a zoo in central France over the weekend, the sanctuary’s director told AFP late on Monday.
Rodolphe Delord said the thieves broke in to the zoo in Beauval on Saturday night, avoiding security cameras and patrols, and took seven golden lion tamarins and 10 silver marmosets.
“We have absolutely no idea how such a thing could have happened. The thieves were experts. They knew exactly which to take.”
“These are extremely rare, extremely fragile monkeys that are part of an international breeding programme,” he told AFP, adding that the golden lion tamarins belong to the Brazilian government.
“We have absolutely no idea how such a thing could have happened,” he said. “The thieves were experts. They knew exactly which to take.”
“It is essential that we find these animals very quickly. They are very difficult to feed and should be looked after by specialists. We hope to find them very soon.”
The zoo is currently looking through CCTV footage and the French police and veterinary services have been informed, Delord said…(read more)
PARIS – A French company has come up with a novel way to keep people close to their departed loved ones: bottling their unique scent as a perfume.
The idea came to Katia Apalategui seven years ago as she struggled to come to terms with her father’s death, missing everything down to the way he smelled.
She mentioned this in passing to her mother, who admitted that, like many who have lost a loved one, she was loath to wash the pillowcase her husband slept on in a bid to keep a remnant of the precious scent of the man she loved.
This inspired the 52-year-old insurance saleswoman to think up ways to capture and preserve a person’s individual scent so people in her position would never have to long for a whiff of their loved one again.
Scientists have long known that smells are linked to the part of the brain that regulates emotion and memory and have the ability to propel you back to a specific time, place or person.
The retail industry often takes advantage of this powerful psychological power, using various odors in stores, cars or restaurants to lure customers.
“The powerful link between smell and memory means the product offers “olfactory comfort,” Apalategui claims, on a par with photos, videos and other memories of the deceased.”
After years of knocking on doors to try and develop her idea, Apalategui was put in touch with the northwestern Havre university which has developed a technique to reproduce the human smell.
“We take the person’s clothing and extract the odor — which represents about a hundred molecules — and we reconstruct it in the form of a perfume in four days,” explained the university’s Geraldine Savary, without giving away the secrets of the process.
The powerful link between smell and memory means the product offers “olfactory comfort,” Apalategui claims, on a par with photos, videos and other memories of the deceased.
Her son, who is currently in business school, plans to launch their start-up by September with the help of a chemist. Read the rest of this entry »
#BREAKING French TV5Monde websites hacked by Islamic State supporters, broadcaster says
— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) April 8, 2015
“We are no longer able to broadcast any of our channels. Our websites and social media sites are no longer under our control and are all displaying claims of responsibility by Islamic State.”
Paris (AFP) – French television network TV5Monde on Wednesday evening said it had been hacked by individuals claiming to belong to the Islamic State group, hijacking its TV channels, websites and Facebook page.
“We are no longer able to broadcast any of our channels. Our websites and social media sites are no longer under our control and are all displaying claims of responsibility by Islamic State,” the broadcaster’s director general Yves Bigot told AFP. Read the rest of this entry »
Lauren Elkies Schram reports: The Republic of France has bought a one-family dwelling on the Upper East Side for $13.9 million, according to property records spotted by Commercial Observer. The four-story property, at 222 East 62nd Street, will serve as the home of François Delattre, the Ambassador of France to the United Nations, a source with knowledge of the deal said, following last summer’s sale of France’s 18-room duplex at 740 Park Avenue for $70 million.
The 5,600-square-foot house between Second and Third Avenues is in the Treadwell Farm Historic District, according to Zillow, and has five bedrooms and seven and a half bathrooms plus staff quarters. The house has an elevator from the basement to the penthouse and south terraces over the gardens from the full-floor master suite and penthouse, Zillow noted.
While the property underwent a two-and-a-half-year renovation and sold in “spic–and–span” condition, the French government will have to do some renovations before Mr. Araud moves from 740 Park Avenue into his new house.
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) December 4, 2014
Sacré Bleu! Socialism in France as Unpopular as ‘Progressivism’ is in U.S.: Hollande Approval Ratings Freeze Over in Midterm French PollPosted: November 7, 2014
Half-way into his five-year mandate the popularity of French President Francois Hollande hit a new low on Thursday, hours before the Socialist leader addresses the nation to defend his shaky record on the economy.
“The absence of a clear vision and lack of coherence in economic policies is weighing on confidence and therefore investment and economic activity.”
— CEO Jean-Paul Chifflet
In the worst score for a president in modern-day polling, Hollande received a 12 percent approval rating in the monthly survey by pollster YouGov, down 15 percent from the prior month. Other recent polls have put his popularity at 13 percent.
Earlier the chief executive of France’s third-largest bank, Credit Agricole, slammed Hollande’s government for its uncertain efforts to kickstart the eurozone’s second largest economy. Read the rest of this entry »
Contagious Coulrophobia Epidemic in Pas-de-Calais
Béthune, France (AFP) – The party is over for a fake clown who received a six-month suspended jail term Monday for threatening passers-by while in full circus garb, a disturbing trend terrifying towns in northern France.
“They take their inspiration from American horror movies.”
Whether brandishing a rubber chicken at a children’s party or starring as the evil protagonist in a horror film, clowns have long had both the ability to entertain and terrify.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that children are held hostage by such acts.”
This fear of clowns, dubbed coulrophobia, has swept small towns in Pas-de-Calais in northern France where police report a wave of complaints over people dressed up as the tricksters and threatening passers-by.
A 19-year-old young man was arrested on Friday after waving a stick resembling a long knife while chasing a group of teenagers, who had to seek refuge in a chip stand. Read the rest of this entry »
A giant inflatable sculpture that caused outrage in Paris for its resemblance to a sex toy will not be reinstalled after being reduced to a flaccid heap by vandals, its creator said Saturday.
American artist Paul McCarthy, 69, was slapped three times in the face by an outraged passer as “The Tree” was put up on the city’s ritzy Place Vendome on Thursday next to a column topped by a statue of Napoleon.
And on Saturday vandals cut a support cable to leave the 24-metre high work — which provoked a storm of mirth on social media for its resemblance to a “butt plug” — slumped on the pavement.
The FIAC contemporary art fair, which organised for the sculpture to be put up close to the Ritz Hotel, said in a statement that “the artist was worried about potential trouble if the work was put back up”.
“Instead of a profound reflection about objects as a mode of expression with multiple meanings, we have witnessed violent reactions.”
— Artist Paul McCarthy, pretending to be unhappy about the notoriety he’s enjoying as a result of his infantile ass-toy stunt
“Individuals waited until the security guard’s attention was elsewhere and cut the cable that kept the sculpture in place,” a police source told AFP on condition of anonymity. Read the rest of this entry »
Place Vendôme Hosts Giant Inflatable Buttplug
Ruth Bender reports: Not everyone in Paris appears to like contemporary art.
A massive, green, inflatable installation by U.S. artist Paul McCarthy was vandalized in central Paris in the night from Friday to Saturday, according to a police official, after the piece of art entitled “Tree” sparked outrage.
The artwork, set up last week on the famous Place Vendôme, ignited a wave of comments on social media for its resemblance to a sex toy. It attracted even more attention after the Los Angeles artist—known for his sometimes controversial and provocative work—was attacked by a person in the street Thursday as “Tree” was being set up on the square.
“Art has all its place on the streets of Paris and no one can hunt it away,”
— Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, in a tweet condemning the attack
According to French daily Le Monde, a man approached Mr. McCarthy as he was watching “Tree” being blown up and hit him in the face three times. According to the paper, which was interviewing the artist during the incident, the man shouted at Mr. McCarthy that “he wasn’t French” and that his artwork had “nothing to do in this square.”
A spokeswoman for Mr. McCarthy didn’t respond to requests for comment. The police official said no complaint had been filed on such an incident.
In the night from Friday to Saturday, a group of individuals cut through the cords that were holding up the artwork, the police official said. A person in charge of overseeing “Tree” then deflated it to limit any damage, the official said. Read the rest of this entry »
She must battle these forces alone, trying desperately to save her marriage — faced with blackmail, a killer, and unknown terror. How could one little French girl get into so much trouble?
French man jailed for texting and calling his ex-girlfriend 21,807 times http://t.co/St8Pp0FQLT
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) September 5, 2014
“He presents himself as the man who doesn’t like the rich. In reality, the president doesn’t like the poor.”
Depicted as icy, obsessively ambitious and out of his depth, Mr. Hollande is picked apart in Thank You For This Moment, published Thursday, a “kiss-and-tell” account of their nine-year relationship and her 18 months at the Elysée Palace.
“This man, a left-winger, calls them in private ‘the toothless ones’ and is very pleased with his little joke.”
— Valérie Trierweiler
The president’s aides said he was kept totally in the dark about its release and was “appalled” at extracts leaked Wednesday, including one recounting a desperate fight to stop Ms. Trierweiler taking sleeping pills in the presidential bedroom after his affair with Julie Gayet, the actress, hit the headlines.
Michael Barone reports: I have never eaten at a McDonald’s in France. But evidently a lot of French men and women do. Business Insider reports that France is McDonald’s most profitable country after the United States. So much for all the French cuisine snobs who lament the presence of McDonald’s in la belle France…(read more)