tf what is up around us

What’s Up Around Us - France
French Socialists face local vote amid record unpopularity
March 23 2014 - France 24 -
France is voting Sunday in a first round of local elections with the ruling Socialists battling record low approval and the main opposition UMP hit by scandal, setting the stage for a possible strong showing for the far-right National Front.
The first nationwide vote since President François Hollande’s 2012 election takes place with the ruling Socialists dogged by a weak economy and the centre-right UMP mired in scandals embroiling former president Nicolas Sarkozy.
Recent polls have suggested that around one in four voters are considering casting their votes for the National Front, in what could be a breakthrough election for the anti-immigration, anti-EU party led by Marine Le Pen.
Paris is also set to elect its first female mayor, with Socialist candidate Anne Hidalgo, (photo Right) the daughter of Spanish immigrants, the favourite to succeed her current boss, Mayor Bertrand Delanoë. But it promises to be a close race against Sarkozy’s former environment minister, Nathalie Kosciuscko-Morizet, (photo Left) with last-minute polls indicating the battle for the capital is far from a foregone conclusion.
Voter turnout, which is expected to hit record lows due to widespread disenchantment with the mainstream parties, was at 23% at midday, the interior ministry said. Participation rates are officially tallied at noon and at 5pm on election days in France.
Just under a million people (nearly one in 60 of the population) will stand as candidates in an election that will produce over 36,000 new mayors for municipalities ranging from the tiniest of agricultural hamlets to metropolises like Lyon, Marseille and Paris.
New image for the National Front
Marine Le Pen believes her party could claim the mayorship of 10 to 15 mid-sized towns – a remarkable turnaround for a party that at the last municipals in 2008 was plagued by financial crisis and internal bickering, and looked destined for the margins of French politics.
Le Pen took over the leadership in 2011 and set about broadening the appeal of a party best known for the repeated convictions of her father and party founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, under French laws against holocaust denial and inciting racial hatred.
As well as trying to de-toxify the FN’s image, Le Pen has attempted to make it less of a single-issue anti-immigration party by campaigning on unemployment, living costs and crime. Polls and pundits suggest that is prudent, as local elections tend to be decided on such local issues.
Under France’s two-round, run-off system, any party that secures 10 percent backing in the first round has the right to present candidates in the second round on March 31.
A strong showing by the FN could see Sarkozy’s centre-right UMP eliminated at the first hurdle in some contests, or see the overall right-wing vote divided in three-way run-offs, thereby boosting the Socialists.

What’s Up Around Us - France - French President François Hollande deflected questions posed by journalists over his alleged love affair with an actress during a televised press conference on Tuesday.
Hollande found himself embroiled in scandal last week after French tabloid magazine Closer published a seven-page spread alleging that the president was having an affair with actress Julie Gayet.
While Hollande avoided the subject during a lengthy defence of his economic policies at the start of the press conference, the first question he fielded inquired – unsurprisingly – as to whether or not his long-term partner, Valérie Trierweiler, was still the country’s first lady.
Hollande promptly said he would not answer any question relating to the alleged affair, adding that “private matters should be dealt with privately”.
The French president did, however, acknowledge that he was going through some “painful moments”, saying that he would clarify the state of his relationship with Trierweiler ahead of planned trip to the United States on Feb. 11.
France’s first lady is currently in hospital suffering from “shock” over the reports of Hollande’s alleged affair.
Trierweiler was admitted on Friday and is expected to remain in hospital for a few days, her staff say.
- Source: - January 14 2014


What’s Up Around Us - Russia - Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova

Pussy Riot to attend Bergen film festival
The Local - Norway’s News
Two members of Pussy Riot, the Russian feminist punk rock outfit, are to speak at the Bergen International Film Festival about ‘Pussy vs Putin’, a documentary about their political struggle.

 Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were released from a Russian prison just before Christmas after serving a two-year sentence for mounting an anti-Putin protest in Moscow’s main Russian Orthodox Cathedral.
“The filmmakers have followed us from the very start. They are critical in the development of our political and aesthetic expressions,” the two women said in an email to the festival organizers. “This film is unique.”
Anders Beyer, the director of the festival, said that Pussy Riot’s story fitted well with this year’s theme.
“This year is the anniversary of the constitution, and the festival wants to highlight this by discussing democracy and identity,” he said. 
'Pussy vs Putin’ is made by  Gogol’s Wives Productions.
When the two activists are in Norway, they want to talk about his new project 'Zona Prava’, and plan a trip to Oslo where they will visit some of Norway’s prisons.

Photo I: Nadezhda Tolokonnikova // Photo II and III: Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is on the right and  Maria Alyokhina is on the left

Faces - Nadiya Viktorivna Savchenko.
May 11, 1981 (age 33), Kiev, Ukraine
Nadiya Viktorivna Savchenko is a former officer of the Ukrainian army. In 2014, Savchenko was captured by pro-Russian insurgents in eastern Ukraine, later handed over to Russia, and charged with the  killing of two Russian journalists during the 2014 insurgency in Donbass. In early November 2014, while still held prisoner in Russia, Savchenko resigned from the Ukrainian army after being elected (and sworn in as) a member of the Ukrainian parliament in the October 2014 Ukrainian parliamentary election. She remains a prisoner in Russia. Her lawyer, Mark Feygin, says she is a prisoner-of-war and has called on the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations to demand her immediate release and that of the other Ukrainian POWs lest Russia be held in violation of the Geneva Conventions.
Savchenko was one of Ukraine’s first women to train as an air-force pilot, and to date the country’s only female aviator of the Sukhoi Su-24 bomber, and of the Mil Mi-24 helicopter.


What’s Up Around Us - Sochi Russia - Winter Olympics 2014

Photo I: Canada’s gold medal winner Justine Dufour-Lapointe kisses her sister Chloe, who won silver, in the women’s moguls final at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. - Andy Wong // Photo II: Canada’s Justine Dufour-Lapointe celebrates after taking the gold medal // Photo III: Canada’s Justine Dufour-Lapointe and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe walk past the scoreboard

It was a remarkable night for “3SDL”as they like to call themselves. Les trois soeurs Dufour-Lapointe from Montreal; Justine age 19; Chloé, 22; and Maxime who turned 25 on Sunday, just hours after her sisters won their medals around midnight on Saturday.
Just consider the achievements: two sisters taking gold and silver with a third making it to the second-last round of 12 skiers; the youngest champion ever in the event; Canada’s first gold and silver medals of the Sochi Olympics. Justine and Chloe join French skiers Marieele and Christine Goitschel and Austrian lugers Doris and Angelika Neuner on the short list of sisters to win Olympic gold and silver in the same event.
And, both sisters defeating the defending Olympic champion, Hannah Kearney of the United States who was considered the runaway favorite to win the race. Kearney finished third, crying as she left the stadium and feeling defeated by the course. “Thanks for your positivity,” she said with a strained smile after someone congratulated her on taking the bronze.
But it shouldn’t have been a surprise. Ever since they watched their older sister take up moguls at the age of 11, Justine and Chloé begged their parents to let them try too. “We said, ‘Hey, why not us, we want to follow our older sister. She’s cool, she’s doing all those tricks why not us,” recalled Justine.
They did and it wasn’t long before both surpassed Maxime and were closing in on Kearney. Justine in particular closed the gap little by little with the American in each of the last four years. And on Saturday during each round of the finals, Justine skied with steady consistency, staying in the top five in each run while Kearney stumbled. Justine’s last run was even better and extinguished whatever hope Kearney or anyone else had of winning.
“The last run was my run,” Justine said. “I skied for myself and being out there winning a gold medal with Chloé, I’m living the dream right now.”


Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall, screen legend, dead at 89
August 12 2014 - The associated Press
Photo I: Lauren Bacall // Photo II: Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe // Photo III: Lauren-Bacall-at-home-with-her-and-Humphrey-Bogart’s-children-Stephen-and-Leslie. // Photo IV: Lauren’s quote
Lauren Bacall was a movie star from almost her first moment on the silver screen.
A fashion model and bit-part New York actress before moving to Hollywood at 19, Bacall achieved immediate fame in 1944 with one scene in her first film, To Have and Have Not. Leaving Humphrey Bogart’s hotel room, Bacall — a lanky figure with flowing blond hair and a stunning face — murmured
“You don’t have to say anything, and you don’t have to do anything. Not a thing. Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.”
With that cool, sultry come-on, not only was a star born, but the beginning of a legend, her title burnished over the years with pivotal roles, signature New York wit, and a marriage to Bogart that accounted for one of the most famous Hollywood couples of all time.
Bacall died Tuesday at the age of 89 in New York, according to the managing partner of the Humphrey Bogart Estate, Robbert J.F. de Klerk. Bacall’s son Stephen Bogart confirmed his mother’s death to de Klerk. She was pronounced dead at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center at 5:21 p.m. Tuesday, according to Kathleen Robinson, the hospital’s media relations director.
The Academy-Award nominated actress received two Tonys, an honorary Oscar and scores of film and TV roles. But, to her occasional frustration, she was remembered for her years with Bogart and treated more as a star by the film industry than as an actress. Bacall would outlive her husband by more than 50 years, but never outlive their iconic status.
They were “Bogie and Bacall” — the hard-boiled couple who could fight and make up with the best of them. Unlike Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, Bogart and Bacall were not a story of opposites attracting but of kindred, smouldering spirits. She was less than half Bogart’s age, yet as wise, and as jaded as he was.
They starred in movies like Key Largo and Dark Passage together, threw all-night parties, palled around with Frank Sinatra and others and formed a gang of California carousers known as the Holmby Hills Rat Pack, which Sinatra would resurrect after Bogart’s death.
She appeared in movies for more than a half-century, but none brought her the attention of her early pictures.
Not until 1996 did she receive an Academy Award nomination — as supporting actress for her role as Barbra Streisand’s mother in The Mirror Has Two Faces. Although a sentimental favourite, she was beaten by Juliette Binoche for her performance in The English Patient.
She finally got a statuette in November 2009 at the movie academy’s Governors Awards gala.
“The thought when I get home that I’m going to have a two-legged man in my room is so exciting,” she quipped.
Her persona paralleled her screen appearances: She was blunt, with a noirish undertone of sardonic humour that illuminated her 1979 autobiography, By Myself (she published an updated version in 2005, By Myself and Then Some.)
‘My childhood is a confusion’
Bacall was born Betty Joan Perske in the Bronx on Sept. 16, 1924 and was raised by her Romanian immigrant mother after her parents split when she was a child (her mother took part of her family name, Bacal; Betty added the extra L when she became an actress.)
“My childhood is a confusion,” Bacall wrote in By Myself, which made Bacall one of the rare celebrity authors to win a National Book Award. She told of nightmares over the arguments of her parents, of her mother’s struggle to earn a living, of being sent off to boarding school.
As a young woman, Diana Vreeland, the famed editor of Harper’s Bazaar, thought she was ideal for fashion modelling, and Bacall appeared regularly in the magazine. The wife of film director Howard Hawks saw her on a magazine cover and recommended her as film material, and she went to Hollywood under a contract.
Hawks became her mentor, coaching her on film acting and introducing her to Hollywood society. He was preparing a movie to star Bogart, based on an Ernest Hemingway story, To Have and Have Not, with a script partly written by William Faulkner.
By this time she had acquired the professional name of Lauren, though Bogart and all her friends continued to call her Betty.
In By Myself, she wrote of meeting Bogart: “There was no thunderbolt, no clap of thunder, just a simple how-do-you-do.”
'The Look’
On her first day of shooting, her hands were shaking so much that she couldn’t manage a simple scene of lighting a cigarette.
“By the end of the third or fourth take,” she wrote in By Myself, “I realized that one way to hold my trembling head still was to keep it down, chin almost to my chest and eyes up at Bogart. It worked, and turned out to be the beginning of 'The Look.’”
Work led to romance. The 23-year age difference (he called her “Baby”) failed to deter them, but they faced a serious obstacle: Bogart was still married to the mercurial actress Mayo Methot, with whom he engaged in much-publicized alcoholic battles. She was persuaded to divorce him, and the lovers were married on May 21, 1945.
“When I married Bogie,” she remarked in a 1994 interview, “I agreed to put my career second, because he wouldn’t marry me otherwise. He’d had three failed marriages to actresses, and he was not about to have another.”
Still, she appeared in a few films without Bogart: Confidential Agent (with Charles Boyer), Young Man with a Horn, (Kirk Douglas) and How to Marry a Millionaire, with Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable.
Nearly married Sinatra
She had son Stephen in 1949 and daughter Leslie in 1952. She also became active politically, joining her husband in protesting the Hollywood blacklist of suspected Communists and campaigning for Democrats. Few could forget the picture of her slouched on top of a piano, long legs dangling, while Harry Truman — then vice president — was seated in front of the keys.
But the party began to wind down in March 1956, when Bogart was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. On the night of Jan. 14, 1957, Bogart grabbed his wife’s arm and muttered, “Goodbye, kid.” He died in the early morning at the age of 57.
After a period of mourning, Bacall became romantically involved with Sinatra. When an “engagement” was mistakenly leaked by press agent “Swifty” Lazar, the singer blamed her, and he terminated the romance.
“Actually, Frank did me a great favour — he saved me from the disaster our marriage would have been,” she wrote in By Myself.
Still mourning for Bogart, Bacall left Hollywood in October 1958. She made a film in England, and did a critically panned play that was significant because she would meet her second husband during her time on Broadway: Jason Robards Jr. He was similar to Bogart in that he was an accomplished actor, hard drinker — and married. After Robards was divorced from his second wife, he and Bacall married in 1961 but Robards’ drinking and extramarital affairs resulted in divorce in 1969.
'I prefer to prevail’
Applause in 1970 and Woman of the Year in 1981 brought Bacall Tony awards. Among her later movies: Murder on the Orient Express, The Shootist and Robert Altman’s Ready to Wear. She played Nicole Kidman’s mother in the 2004 film Birth, and in recent years appeared as herself in a cameo for The Sopranos.
For decades she lived in Manhattan’s venerable Dakota, where neighbours included John Lennon and Yoko Ono. She was ever protective of the Bogart legacy, lashing out at those who tried to profit from his image.
Bacall became friends with Faulkner when he was writing scripts for Hawks. One of her prized possessions was a copy of Faulkner’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech on which he wrote that she was not one who was satisfied with being just a pretty face, “but rather who decided to prevail.”
“Notice he didn’t write 'survive,’ ” she told Parade magazine in 1997. “Everyone’s a survivor. Everyone wants to stay alive. What’s the alternative? See, I prefer to prevail.”

Photo: Rafael Nadal, left, is presented with the n Coupe de Mousquetaires by legend Bjorn Borg after defeating Novak Djokovic in the French Open final Sunday in Paris - by Matthew Stockman
French Open: Rafael Nadal wins unprecedented 9th title
Spaniard matches Pete Sampras with 14th career Grand Slam
CBC Sports – June 08, 2014
Trying to beat Rafael Nadal at the French Open is, without a doubt, the toughest task in tennis. Indeed, must be among the greatest challenges in all of sports.
The pressure he applies, from set to set, game to game, point to point, shot to shot. That bullwhip of a high-bouncing, topspin lefty forehand. Those quick-reflex returns that help him break an opponent’s serve — and his will.
Doing what he does so well on the red clay of Roland Garros, a surface and site he dominates so completely, the No. 1-seeded Nadal wore down No. 2 Novak Djokovic 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 in a muggy final Sunday to win his ninth French Open championship and fifth in a row, both records.
“For me,” Nadal said, “playing here in Roland Garros is just unforgettable, forever.”
It is also his 14th Grand Slam title overall, tying the 28-year-old Spaniard with Pete Sampras for the second most by a man, behind only Roger Federer’s 17.
That includes Nadal’s two trophies apiece at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, along with one from the Australian Open, proving he can beat the best on grass and hard courts, too. But it’s on the clay of Paris where Nadal reigns supreme: He has won 66 of 67 career French Open matches.
Since the only loss, against Robin Soderling in the fourth round in 2009, Nadal has won 35 consecutive matches at Roland Garros.
No other man has won more than seven titles at any of tennis’ four majors.
“It’s not impossible, but it’s very, very difficult to stay with Rafa in this court, throughout the whole match, on the highest level of performance,” said Djokovic, who was broken in the final game of each set, including with an anticlimactic double-fault on match point.


Photo I and II: RCMP officers march in the funeral procession on their way to the regimental funeral for three slain RCMP officers in Moncton, N.B., Tuesday, June 10, 2014. - by Marc Grandmaison // Photo III: The casket of Const. Douglas James Larche, is carried into the Moncton Coliseum for the RCMP regimental funeral on Tuesday, June 10, 2014, in Moncton, N.B. - by Sean Kilpatrick // Photo IV: The caskets of the three RCMP officers who were killed in the line of duty are seen at their regimental funeral at the Moncton Coliseum in Moncton, N.B. on Tuesday, June 10, 2014. Const. David Ross, Const. Fabrice Georges Gevaudan and Const. Douglas James Larche were killed in a shooting spree last Wednesday - by Andrew Vaughan // Photo V: RCMP officer holds his Stetson.


Photo I: a sea of red in the Moncton Coliseum // Photo II: a sea of read heading to the Coliseum // Photo III: An officer pats Const. David Ross’s dog Danny at the funeral procession for the three RCMP officers who were killed on duty last week. - by Andrew Vaughan
MONCTON, N.B. – Police and members of the public filled a hockey arena in Moncton on Tuesday for the regimental funeral of three New Brunswick Mounties killed in the line of duty.
RCMP pallbearers carried the flag-draped coffins of the slain officers – constables Fabrice Georges Gevaudan, Douglas James Larche and Dave Joseph Ross – into the Moncton Coliseum.
A beige RCMP Stetson was placed atop each casket at the front of the service. Danny, a police dog that served with Ross, was led inside.
Cpl. Chantal Farrah, who served as the master of ceremonies, said the Mounties’ deaths are a profound loss.
“Make no mistake, we are also here to celebrate lives of service that have contributed to the fabric of this community, this province and our great country of Canada,” Farrah said.
Before the funeral service began, people inside the arena stood and applauded for 45 minutes as police officers from across Canada and the United States arrived to take their places.
In front of a stage were three large portraits of the officers in their dress uniforms.
Prior to the service, a procession of about 2,700 police officers wound its way through the city with pipers and drummers leading the mourners.
Four RCMP officers on horseback followed the 1.6-kilometre-long procession, leading three hearses carrying the dead officers.
Members of the RCMP and municipal police forces, as well as correctional officers and U.S. border patrol officers, were among those who marched to the Moncton Coliseum, which can hold about 7,000 people.
Public transit buses picked up officers in advance of the televised service.
So many people were expected that six other sites in Moncton and four more outside the city were set up where mourners can gather. A public visitation service held Monday drew hundreds of people.
Gevaudan, Larche and Ross were gunned down Wednesday evening after responding to a report of a man with firearms in a residential neighbourhood in the northwest area of Moncton.
Two other officers – constables Eric Dubois and Darlene Goguen – were wounded and released from hospital.
The shootings and the ensuing 30-hour manhunt for the alleged killer brought the city of 69,000 to a standstill until an arrest was made just after midnight Friday.
Gevaudan, 45, originally of the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, was remembered in his obituary as an advocate of women’s rights who adored his wife and “Twin Flame” Angela, and stepdaughter Emma.
The obituary for Larche, 40, of Saint John, N.B., says he died while working as a plainclothes officer who “without fear or hesitation ran towards danger to protect his community and family.” He leaves behind his wife Nadine and three daughters, Alexa, Laura and Mia.
Ross’s obituary says the 32-year-old dog handler died doing what he loved. He is survived by his wife Rachael and son Austin, with another child expected in the fall.


What’s Up Around Us - Winter Olympic 2014 - Russia
Teemu Selanne, Finland oust Russia from men’s Olympic hockey
Photo I: Teemu Selanne scored the game-winning goal // Photo II: Tuukka Rask // Photo III: Tuukka Rask made 37 saves and Team Finland eliminated the host Russians from the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics with a 3-1 win at Bolshoy Ice Dome Wednesday February 19, 2014
The dream is over.
Russia wanted nothing less than a gold medal as the host country of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, but it will not get a medal period.
Despite a wealth of scoring potential, the Russians found the net just once in a 3-1 loss to Finland in the Olympic quarter-finals at Bolshoy Ice Dome Wednesday.
Prior to the start of the Olympic Games, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nikolai Kulemin told CBC if Russia won gold medals in every event, but failed to win gold in hockey the Olympics would be considered a failure in his country.
Finland will play Sweden in the semifinal to decide which country advances to the gold medal game Sunday.
The Finns entered the Olympics without two key centres, Mikko Koivu of the Minnesota Wild and Valteri Filppula of the Tampa Bay Lightning, due to injury, but managed to play a strong team game nonetheless.
Thanks in a large part to the steady, if not spectacular goaltending of Tuukka Rask, the Finns played an up-tempo smart defensive game that simply stifled the Russians.


L’Wren Scott, fashion designer and Mick Jagger’s longtime girlfriend, found dead of apparent suicide
Photo I: Feb. 16, 2012 file photo shows singer Mick Jagger, right, with designer LíWren Scott by Richard Drew  // Photo II:  L'Wren is seen here with Mick’s youngest daughter, model Georgia May Jagger, in September 2013 by Richard Young

The world was rocked by the loss of L’Wren Scott on Monday morning after the fashion designer reportedly killed herself. She was 49.
L’Wren’s body was found by her assistant in her Manhattan apartment and there was no immediate suspicion of foul play. The formal report is yet to be released by the Medical Examiner.
As the girlfriend of Mick Jagger and a designer favoured by stars such as Amy Adams, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, and Christina Hendricks, L’Wren had many celebrity friends who were quick to pay tribute after news of her death broke. - from


What’s Up Around Us - Spencer, Massachusett, USA - Trappist Beer
The first Trappist beer brewed outside Europe
Source: - Dave Martin
For more than a century, Catholic Cistercian monks known as Trappists have been brewing and selling what many beer lovers consider some of the best in the world. Eight monasteries — six in Belgium and one each in Holland and Austria — produce the only beer recognized by the International Trappist Association as authentic Trappist beer.
And starting Thursday (January 16, 2014), the 63 brothers of St. Joseph’s Abbey — about an hour’s drive west of Boston — will join them, selling the first Trappist beer brewed outside Europe.
Their ambitious venture was hardly met with enthusiasm by their exacting Trappist brothers in Europe.
After all, for nearly 60 years the monks in Spencer, Mass., had been selling jams and jellies to help support their community. Now they were interested in the real family business: beer.
The journey from jams to beer started almost five years ago when St. Joseph’s sent two monks on a fact-finding mission to the Belgian Beer Fest in Boston. Within hours, their European brothers were alarmed to learn of the inquiries.
The European monks, warming to the idea of an American Trappist beer, began giving close counsel to their Massachusetts brothers.
The European monasteries made three strong recommendations: To brew beer of Trappist quality they must build a state-of-the-art brewery, hire a skilled brewing engineer, and brew just one kind of beer for the first five years. The St. Joseph’s monks set to work and built a multi-million-dollar brewery that would be the envy of almost any microbrewery in the world.
Securing their bank loan — an amount they won’t disclose — was made easier by the success of the monks’ previous business venture, ‘‘Trappist Preserves.’’
The European brewers, wanting a beer that wouldn’t damage the Trappist brand, agreed to help the Americans develop a good recipe.
After more than 20 trial batches, the monks in Massachusetts settled on the recipe for what would become Spencer Trappist Ale, a ‘‘refectory ale’’ of 6.5 percent alcohol. The cloudy, golden beer is all-American yet rooted in European tradition with sweet, yeasty notes familiar to fans of other Trappist ales.
With the Europeans on board, a U.S. distribution deal was signed. Sales will only be in Massachusetts at first, but plans are to expand nationally and someday, internationally.
On New Year’s Day, at their annual holiday party, the brewery team tapped a keg of the final product for the whole St. Joseph’s community — the first time many of the brothers tasted the beer that will soon be synonymous with their monastery.


What’s Up Around Us - France
March 31 2014 - BBCnews
French President Hollande names Valls as new PM
President Francois Hollande has named Interior Minister Manuel Valls as France’s next prime minister.
Mr Hollande, whose popularity has slumped, said Mr Valls would head a “fighting government”.
The ruling Socialists have been badly bruised in local elections which saw big gains for conservatives and the far-right National Front (FN).
Mr Valls, 51, has replaced PM Jean-Marc Ayrault, whose office confirmed his resignation on Monday.
In a short televised address on Monday, President Hollande said France had to put right its public finances, acknowledging it was time for change.
He proposed a reduction in taxes and worker contributions to spur job creation. “We are in this for the long haul,” he said.
‘Blue wave’
Mr Valls, a liberal, is distrusted by the Socialist party’s left-wing and has presidential ambitions of his own but he is popular with the voters, says the BBC’s Christian Fraser in Paris.
The second round of municipal elections on Sunday saw the Socialists lose more than 150 towns and cities of more than 9,000 inhabitants. Results are still being counted.
The FN won control of 11 towns, mainly in the south.
The main centre-right opposition, the UMP, was said to have captured a number of key cities, including Toulouse, Quimper, Limoges and Saint-Etienne.
UMP leader Jean-Francois Cope hailed what he called a “blue wave” of support for his party.
The Socialists have been hit by growing discontent over the economy after struggling to keep unemployment figures down and boost economic growth.
Prior to his resignation, Mr Ayrault acknowledged that many voters had lost confidence in his administration.
“This message is clear. The president will draw conclusions, and he will do so in the interest of France,” he added, in an apparent reference to a likely cabinet reshuffle.
Among the victories being celebrated by Marine Le Pen’s National Front was the capture of the 7th district of Marseille, France’s second largest city. The district has a population of about 150,000, which makes it the party’s biggest win.
The Socialists did retain control of Paris, with their candidate Anne Hidalgo due to become the capital’s first female mayor. (She was born in Spain also - Steve)
Profile: French PM-designate Manuel Valls
- Born: August 13 1962 in Barcelona, ethnic Catalan
- Former mayor of Evry
- Chief organiser of Francois Hollande’s presidential campaign
- Tough on migrants, known as “top cop”
Minister of the Interior - In office: 16 May 16 2012 –  April 01 2014
Mayor of Évry - In office: March 18 2001 – May 24 2012
Language: Due to his family background, Manuel Valls is fluent in French, Spanish, Catalan and Italian.
First Wife (married 1987) Nathalie Soulié divorced - they had 4 children
Second Wife (married July 01 2010) Anne Gravoin, (see Photo III) a violinist and winner of the Conservatoire de Paris’ prestigious Premier Prix for Violin and Chamber Orchestra.

Barcelona-born Manuel Valls is known as France’s “top cop” and has a hard-line reputation to match.
Opinion polls have long suggested that he would be a popular choice for prime minister in the Socialist government.
As interior minister, the ethnic Catalan has handled the media astutely and acted tough on illegal migrants.
Some commentators have drawn parallels with former President Nicolas Sarkozy - a conservative - who also served as interior minister.
'Like a bullfighter’
Mr Valls, 51, is not popular with the left wing of the Socialist party - but he does appeal to many right-wing voters.
In September he said that Roma people have “lifestyles that are very different from ours” and that “their destiny is to return to Romania or Bulgaria”.
Like Mr Sarkozy, he has become identified with expulsions of jobless Roma who live in makeshift camps on the margins of French cities.
And he has been quick to visit crime scenes - “a very Sarkozy-like habit”, according to French Europe 1 radio.
The Sarkozy comparison, he says, “doesn’t bother me if it refers to his energy and combative spirit”.
Mr Valls has also taken a tough stance towards the controversial comic Dieudonne M'bala M'bala, convicted repeatedly for hate speech against Jews. Mr Valls said he should be kept off all stages in France, condemning the comic’s “mechanics of hate”.
The right-wing Le Figaro newspaper described Mr Valls as “impulsive, even impetuous”, saying that “at the slightest threat, like a bullfighter, Manuel Valls straightens up, his eyes burn and he enters the arena proudly”.
Before becoming interior minister, he was mayor of Evry, a modern town in the southern suburbs of Paris.
In 2011, he obtained 5.6% in the Socialist primary for presidential candidate - a contest won by Mr Hollande. But then he quickly threw himself into the Hollande election campaign, acting as one of the chief organisers.

The Little Mermaid’s Twisted, Sofia Coppola-esque Origins
March 21 2014 - The Atlantic - by Noah Gittell
    The news that Sofia Coppola will direct a live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid probably, rightfully will be lauded as an encouraging development for women in Hollywood. There are a number of successful female directors in the film industry (although not nearly enough), but it’s still shockingly rare that one gets assigned such a high-profile studio project.
    Yet the producers of the film deserve props not (only) for choosing a woman director, but for choosing the perfect director for the story they’re going to tell.
    Coppola’s films are known for their aesthetic beauty and moody, dream-like atmosphere. But her works all share something else, too. She’s not a political filmmaker per se, but the world that she depicts is one in which women are oppressed—not necessarily by men, but by cultural myths. Whether portraying a strictly traditional monarchy (Marie Antoinette), a fame- and image-obsessed society (The Bling Ring), or the all-American horny teenager (The Virgin Suicides), Coppola’s films rebel against a world that dictates the rules for women and then punishes them for playing by them.
    The Little Mermaid follows the exact same template, but takes the punishment even further.
- Read On


What’s Up Around Us - Russia - Sochi - The girls
2 in Russian Protest Band Held, Then Freed, in Sochi
by David M. Herszenhorn and Andrew Roth + Patrick Reevell contributed reporting from Moscow, and Elisabetta Povoledo from Rome – February 18 2014 –
Photos I: Maria Alyokhina, a member of the punk band Pussy Riot, took this photograph in the back of a police detention vehicle on Tuesday. Maria Alekhina, via Associated Press // Photo II: Members of Pussy Riot spoke to journalists in Sochi, Russia, on Tuesday after their release. Anatoly Maltsev/European Pressphoto Agency // Photo III: The group recorded a video early on Tuesday. Evgeny Feldman/Agence France-Presse - Getty Images /
Sochi, Russia — Two members of the punk protest group Pussy Riot, recently released from prison under an amnesty program initiated by President Vladimir V. Putin, were arrested here on Tuesday in what they said was an attempt to prevent them from carrying out a new political protest action.
The two women, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, were detained along with other members of the group who were apparently working with them on a new song. The arrests occurred in central Sochi, about a 30-minute drive from the Olympic Park.
The women and their collaborators were released from a police station in the Adler district early Tuesday evening, and at least five of them emerged wearing the colorful balaclavas that are the group’s trademark.
Speaking with reporters outside the police station, Ms. Tolokonnikova said that since arriving here on Sunday she and the others with her had been detained repeatedly by the police, border guards and the Federal Security Service, the successor to the Soviet K.G.B.
“People are following us,” she said. “They track our every move and look for any excuse to detain us.” They were detained, she said, “so that we wouldn’t have a chance to make a political statement here.” She was referring to the band’s new song, “Putin Will Teach You to Love the Motherland.”
Ms. Tolokonnikova and Ms. Alyokhina became an international cause célèbre after they and a third member of the group were convicted in connection with a protest act that they staged in Moscow’s main cathedral, praying to the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Mr. Putin.
They were sentenced to two years in prison, while the third woman, Yekaterina Samutsevich, received a suspended sentence on appeal. They were freed in late December, a few weeks before their scheduled release, in an amnesty that they said was intended to make Mr. Putin look broad-minded and tolerant in the days leading up to the Olympics. They have said they would rather have served their full sentences.
In Sochi on Tuesday, the Russian authorities said the group members were being questioned in connection with a theft in the hotel where the two women were staying. Supporters of the group dismissed that explanation, saying the theft investigation was a pretext for interfering with the production of the new song.
The detentions appeared to be a serious public relations mistake by the local authorities, and quickly developed into a major media sensation. The women posted messages on Twitter describing their arrests in detail, including their trip in a police vehicle to the station.
Ms. Tolokonnikova and Ms. Alyokhina have continued to criticize Mr. Putin and the Russian government since their release on Dec. 23. The new song makes reference to more recent political developments, including an effort by the Kremlin to pressure Dozhd, an independent television station, into shutting its operations.
“The air is closed for Dozhd,” the women sang, pumping their fists in the air and stopping traffic as they were surrounded by a swirl of journalists in a quiet, residential neighborhood here near the police station. “The gay parade has been sent to the outhouse.”
“Putin will teach you to love the motherland,” they repeated, the chorus of the song.
In a series of messages on Twitter, Ms. Tolokonnikova said that the two women were detained three times in three days here.
“On the 16th, we were detained for seven hours,” she wrote. “On the 17th, we spent 10 hours with the F.S.B., and today we are in a police wagon, accused of theft.”
As for what they were doing, Ms. Tolokonnikova wrote, “We are in Sochi to hold a Pussy Riot action.”
Although there had been numerous calls for political protests during the Olympics, particularly over Russia’s law banning “propaganda” on nontraditional sexual relationships, the Games so far have been largely devoid of political demonstrations.
The Kremlin initially tried to ban political protests outright in Sochi. Mr. Putin then issued a decree in January saying that demonstrations could take place, but only with government permission and at a designated location. The local authorities chose a park in the village of Khosta, about 10 miles from the Olympic arenas, and have since said that there were few, if any, applications for rallies.
Some activists, including a local environmental organization, have said that they tried to apply for permits but were strongly pressured by the authorities to withdraw their requests.
Vladimir Luxuria, a transgender former member of the Italian Parliament, said she was detained by the authorities on Sunday night after appearing in the Olympic Park with a banner that said “Gay is O.K.” in Russian.
Ms. Luxuria was released early Monday and returned to the Olympic Park on Monday night, wearing the gay pride movement’s signature rainbow colors, and was detained when she entered the Bolshoi Ice Dome hockey arena.
Olympic officials denied on Monday that she had been detained the first time, but a spokesman for the Italian Foreign Ministry said she was held for two hours on Sunday at a police station, and had been in touch with the Italian consul in Moscow.

Alstom shares jump on GE takeover bid report
April 24 2014 -
Shares in French engineering company Alstom have jumped after a report that US multinational General Electric is in talks to buy Alstom for $13bn.
News agency Bloomberg reported that GE and Alstom have discussed the potential deal with the French government.
Alstom has said it has not been told of a potential offer for the company.
Alstom - which makes turbines and trains - said it would update investors on its prospects on 7 May, when it releases annual results.
Shares in the firm jumped 17% at the start of trade, before falling back to close up 11%.
Shares in major Alstom shareholder Bouygues also rose after the Bloomberg report.
An agreement between Alstom and General Electric may be announced next week, the report said.
But in a statement, Alstom said: “In response to recent speculation in the economic press, Alstom is not informed of any potential public tender offer for the shares of the company.
"The group constantly reviews the strategic options of its businesses.”
In the year to March, Alstom shares dropped by about 30% over concerns about its cash flow.
In January, the firm said that its full year profits had been hit by a drop in demand for power plants.
The French company, which employs 93,000 people, has business interests in about 100 countries.
In November, the company said it would cut 1,300 jobs, and sell part of its transport business, which makes high-speed TGV trains, and has supplied Eurostar trains.