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  • Spotlight on France - Podcast: Returning African art, dying with dignity in France, Brassens at 100
    How France is dragging its feet in returning African art and artefacts housed in its museums. An 77-year-old activist talks about fighting for the right to die when and how she wants. And Georges Brassens, the "French Woodie Guthrie", continues to thrill with his free-spirited songs, full of word play, 100 years after his birth. The France-Africa summit, held regularly since the early 1970s, has long been seen as continuing 'Franceafrique' – the networks of influence France has in its former African colonies. This year's event, held in Montpellier, was different. Instead of African leaders, hundreds young people from across the continent interacted with President Macron. A key subject was the restitution of art and objects looted during the colonial wars. Laura Angela Bagnetto, host of the Africa Calling podcast, talks about France's commitment to returning objects, which many at the summit consider is going too slowly. She speaks with Nigerian cultural historian Oluwatoyin Sogbesan (@digiculture4art), who says all objects, no matter how ordinary, are important for African countries to connect to their history. (Listen @0') The issue of assisted dying, or euthanasia, has long been debated in France. It remains illegal here, despite recent efforts to pass laws to the contrary. Some people who want to end their lives, and have the financial means, go to neighbouring countries like Switzerland or Belgium, where assisted suicide is legal, though highly regulated. Jacqueline Jencquel, 77, a member of the French Association for the right to die with dignity (ADMD), talks about setting a date for her own death, counselling and advising others and why the law in France needs to change. Listen @15'10'') France is marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of singer-poet Georges Brassens, whose free sprit and way with words make him as popular as ever. (Listen @10'10'') This episode was mixed by Cecile Pompeani. Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on, iTunes (link here), Google podcasts (link here), Spotify (link here), or your favourite podcast app.
  • Spotlight on France - Podcast: LGBT conversion therapy, crack in Paris, training France's elite
    A historic vote in parliament as French MPs unanimously approve a bill criminalising conversion therapy for LGBT+ people; no quick fix for Paris's growing crack cocaine problem; and the changing face of elite school ENA, founded 76 years ago this week. France made history this week when MPs from every political party voted to ban conversion therapy for gay and transgendered people, a practice which the UN has compared to torture. Many victims in France suffer the scars of psychological trauma. Benoit Berthé (@TheSiward) co-founder of the collective Rien à guerir (Nothing to heal), talks about the satisfaction in helping getting attitudes to change in France and his own experience of being forced into psycho-spiritual sessions by his devout Catholic parents, who were persuaded he would happier as a heterosexual. (Listen @0'00) Paris is facing a new crack crisis, with groups of homeless addicts making life hell for residents and businesses in the city’s northeast and its surrounding suburbs. As the city and the national government throw responsibility for the problem back and forth, France’s approach to drugs and addiction is showing its limitations. Are addicts victims in need of medical treatment, or criminals in need of punishment? France’s 1970 drug law says both, which makes it difficult to put in place risk reduction programmes, like drug consumption rooms – that have been used elsewhere for decades. (Listen @18'35) France’s Ecole Nationale d’Administration (ENA), founded by Charles de Gaulle at the end of World War II, was an emblem of meritocracy at the outset. But the graduate school, famous for training presidents and senior civil servants in the art of governance, gradually became a symbol of elitism. Emmanuel Macron promised to close it in the wake of the Yellow Vest crisis, but has now settled for a reform and a change of name. (Listen @14'05) This episode was mixed by Cecile Pompeani. Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on, iTunes (link here), Google podcasts (link here), Spotify (link here), or your favourite podcast app.
  • Spotlight on France - Podcast: Paris attacks trial, courtroom artists, Harkis to get reparations
    How journalists are covering the 2015 terror attacks trial. The artists who have an important role in bringing French courtrooms alive. And France recognises Harkis' suffering, offering hope for reparations, nearly six decades after the end of the Algerian war of independence. Jihadists who planned and carried out the 2015 Paris attacks are being tried in France's biggest ever court case. Twenty people are on trial, including the only surviving member of the commando unit which killed 130 people in multiple attacks on the evening of 13 November 2015. Many more were injured and traumatised. Journalist Michael Fitzpatrick talks about the challenges of covering the historic nine-month trial, and resisting the temptation to let the accused take centre stage. (Listen @2'20) Cameras and audio recording equipment are not allowed in French courtrooms, so any visuals coming out of a trial are illustrations made by one of a few dozen courtroom artists working in France today. Joris Le Dain talks about using oil paint to honestly portray what is happening, and Dominique Lemarié compares her experience as a court artist in the US and in France over the last 40 years. (Listen @ 8'15) France has officially recognised and asked for forgiveness for the suffering of the Harkis, Algerian Muslims who fought with the French army during the 1954-1962 Algerian independence war and were then abandoned. President Emmanuel Macron's declaration, a few days before the annual Harki Day on 25 September, has broader ramifications for Franco-Algerian relations, and for the president himself. (Listen @19'25) This episode was mixed by Cecile Pompeani. Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on, iTunes (link here), Google podcasts (link here), Spotify (link here), or your favourite podcast app.
  • Spotlight on France - Podcast: health pass protests, lavender beyond Provence, Canard Enchainé
    Why are people protesting the Covid health pass in France? Challenging terroir by growing lavender outside of Provence. The birth of Le Canard Enchainé, the weekly that has brought down politicians and holds power to account. Spotlight on France is back! During the summer break the Covid health pass became an integral part of French daily life. The government argues that encouraging people to get vaccinated against the virus is necessary to avoid future lockdowns. It seems to have worked: vaccination rates are up, and the fourth wave has remained under control in mainland France. But a small, but vocal, minority opposes the pass and have been protesting weekly since July. While the government and much of the media paints them as fringe anti-vaxers, the movement is broader than QAnon conspirationists and vaccine sceptics. We met people at a recent demonstration in Paris to hear why they are so opposed. (Listen @0'40'') France’s traditions are linked to the land – wine has its terroir, cheese has its protected appellation. Lavender has long been associated with the southern region of Provence, in the foothills of the Alps, north of Marseille. For two centuries the purple flower has been cultivated intensively for its oil, used in the perfume and pharmaceutical industry. In eastern Aveyron, some 250 kilometres to the west of Provence, sheep farmer Laurent Fages has discovered that the terrain in his area is also perfectly suited to growing lavender. (Listen @18'30'') The first issue of Le Canard Enchainé, one of France's last investigative newspapers, came out on 10 September 1915. It was aimed at countering pro-military propaganda being spread in mainstream media during WW1. Known for its independence, it remains a significant force in French public life. (Listen @14') This episode was mixed by Cecile Pompeani. Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on, iTunes (link here), Google podcasts (link here), Spotify (link here), or your favourite podcast app.
  • Spotlight on France - Podcast: Le Pen's strategy, French quinoa, birth of the Paris fire brigade
    Is Marine Le Pen's 'softening' of the hard-right National Rally the right strategy to win the presidency? The American who pioneered quinoa farming in France. How a tragic blaze pushed Napoleon to launch the Paris fire brigade. Turnout was massively low in both rounds of last month's regional elections, even amongst supporters of the hard-right National Rally, which had been predicted to win at least one region. Only thirty percent of RN voters showed up. When Marine Le Pen took the National Front from her father in 2011, she renamed it and rebranded it as a less radical party to try to broaden the support base. But it's a risky game. Political scientist Jean-Yves Camus (@jeanyvescamus1), a specialist of the hard right, says Le Pen's strategy could be backfiring, alienating some of the party's followers. (Listen @0'00'') Quinoa, a seed that is eaten like a grain, has been grown in the Andean region of South America for hundreds of years. The rest of the world "discovered" quinoa in the early 2000s, and global demand went through the roof, putting a strain on producers in Peru and Bolivia. Farmers around the world started thinking about how they could grow quinoa, and over the past decade France has developed a local production, becoming Europe’s largest producer. The bulk is grown in the Anjou, or Maine-et-Loire region in the west of the country, thanks to one man from Tennessee, Jason Abbott.(Listen @13'10'') The 8,500 firefighers in Paris' fire brigade, the sapeurs pompiers, are professional soldiers, part of military corps put in place by Napoleon after a tragic fire on 1 July 1810. (Listen @9'30'') This episode was mixed by Cecile Pompeani. Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on, iTunes (link here), Google podcasts (link here), Spotify (link here), or your favourite podcast app.



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