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On the Spot France


A daily report on France: breaking news, top stories, analysis, trends and more


Paris, France




A daily report on France: breaking news, top stories, analysis, trends and more






116, Avenue du Président Kennedy Paris, France 1 5640 1212 / 2907


Calls for memorial to animals killed in WWI

Memorials all over northern France commemorate the nearly 10 million soldiers who lost their lives in the four years of trench warfare of the First World War. There are also a handful of memorials to commemorate the animals killed in the war: about 11 million horses, donkeys, dogs and pigeons died. And one group is pushing the city of Paris to make its own memorial.Sarah Elzas has this report.


France addresses issues around scientific integrity

Scientific integrity is a growing issue in the world of scientific research, and France is no exception.This year, a new Office of Scientific Research Integrity was officially opened, and the advisory committee met for the first time last week. They’re addressing a worldwide problem of fraud and cutting corners, which comes from the pressure to publish.. The scientific community has found tools to address the problem, though some say France is lagging behind. RFI took a look into the issue...


On-the-spot France - 'I'm dying', say protesting farmers at annual Paris agriculture fair

This year's annual agriculture fair in Paris is taking place with farmers across France angry at a drop in prices. Dairy and pork farmers in particular have protested repeatedly over the past few months against prices that are lower than production costs. At the Salon de l'Agriculture, farmers were quick to air their frustrations.


On-the-spot France - Rights group fear Front National rise in French regional elections

Mainstream parties in last week’s first round of elections in France's départements have urged supporters to turn out in droves to halt the progress of the far-right Front National. In the northern Paris suburb of Sarcelles inhabitants are worried about the impact the FN's risecould have on their culture of living together. The head of a campaign called Bridging Cultures comments.


On-the-spot France - First round of France’s departmental elections: the battle for control of Paris’s suburbs

The first round of France’s departmental elections ended with the emergence of a three-party system: the conservative UMP on top, followed by the far right Front National and the ruling Socialists in third position. The battle for control of Paris’s inner suburbs like Bobigny, Noisy-le-Sec and Bondy, will be a close match between the Socialists and the UMP in the upcoming second round. Polls suggest that Bobigny, a traditional stronghold of the left could swing right.


On-the-spot France - Skeptical about vaccinations in France

France's Constitutional Council is set to rule on Friday, 20 March, on whether mandatory immunisations are constitutional. It will rule on the case of a couple in central France who refused to vaccinate their eldest daughter. The couple's lawyer argues that France's constitutional right to health should include the right to not be vaccinated. RFI meets others who are sceptical about vaccinations, even as public health officials worry about the rise of previously eradicated diseases, like...


On-the-spot France - Afropean in France

Where are you from? That question can be frustrating if you are French, even if you have African ancestry. As a reaction, some French artists and intellectuals have started embracing the term Afropean to describe their mixed backgrounds. A recent festival in Paris was dedicated to this mixed identity.


On-the-spot France - Without law, St Denis has trouble banning plastic bags

The French senate is debating a wide-reaching environmetal bill that would require a 50 per cent reduction of waste in landfills by 2025. The bill includes a ban on plastic bags by next year. A 2010 law introduced a tax on bags, but it was never applied. St. Denis has the Paris region’s biggest market, which is held three days a week. The city has been trying to impose a ban on bags at the market for years, but it has had trouble imposing it without a law.


On-the-spot France - Socialists downplay losses in first round of French local elections

After Sunday’s first round of France’s Departmental elections, in which the conservative alliance led by the UMP came out ahead of the far right Front National, each party is spinning the result in its own way, ahead of the second round next weekend. These are local elections that national politicians have turned into a national referendum. RFI’s Sarah Elzas assesses that for the ruling Socialist party, the spin after this first round is: “It’s not as bad as it could be”.


On-the-spot France - Sport - a vector of citizenship

Candidates in France's departemental elections have up until midnight today to persuade voters to vote them into the second round. The first round takes place this Sunday and the second round a week later. Candidates vying for a post of local councillor in over 2,000 cities say they hope to get a say in the running of local services such as education and health. For the first time, they're competing in mixed pairs, in a bid to increase female representation. Candidates who make it past...


On-the-spot France - France launches its first global gastronomic journey: Goût de / GOOD France

More than a thousand chefs around the world are today serving up a French dinner, in celebration of French gastronomy and savoir faire. The gastronomic/diplomatic operation called "Gout de France - Good France" is the brainchild of top chef Alain Ducasse and French foreign minister Laurent Fabius. Aware that the promotion of French culture begins at the table, it aims to encourage tourism and give a much-needed boost to the image of French cuisine.


On-the-spot France - France's Agriculture Fair promotes Paris region products

Paris's annual farm show is welcoming visitors and exhibitors from around the country and the continent this week. But with its environmental focus ahead of this year's climate conference, there's a special focus on what is available closer to home, in the Ile-de-France region.


On-the-spot France - How climate change impacts agriculture

France’s annual agricultural fair is this year taking on the issue of climate change. Some 20 percent of France’s greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture. Reducing them is key, as Paris prepares to host the UN climate conference aimed at finding a global compromise on global emissions. Farmers are also learning how to adapt to the effects of the emissions. RFI met researchers looking at how climate change affects one of France’s top products: wine.


On-the-spot France - France's Foundation for the memory of the Shoah promotes dialogue in combatting anti-Semitism

Five teenagers who were detained after overturning more than 200 gravestones in a Jewish cemetery in eastern France last weekend had a clear “anti-Semitic motive,” according to a local prosecutor. They admitted that they had taken part in the vandalism and had made Nazi salutes, spat on Jewish symbols and used terms like “dirty Jews”. Faced with such anti-Semitic attacks in France, particularly by young people, the Paris-basd Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah is encouraging new...


On-the-spot France - French Jews consider moving to Israel

After the attacks in Paris on Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in early January, France's Prime Minister Manuel Valls said "France would no longer be France without its Jews". Following last weekend’s desecration of a Jewish cemetery in Alsace, President François Hollande has said the republic would protect French Jews with "all its strength". But a growing minority of France’s estimated half million Jews, the largest community in Europe, see their future elsewhere, and notably in...


On-the-spot France - UNESCO's World Radio Day invites young Syrian radio journalists

Where would we be without radio? It's a cheap and accessible way of getting information out to people, even in the most remote of communities. For the fourth edition of World Radio Day organised yesterday at UNESCO , a host of community radios from Africa, Asia, North and South America were invited to broadcast from its Paris headquarters. The guests included Jordanian radios Farah al Nas and Yarmouk FM, broadcasting "The Syrian Hour", serving the over 600,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan.


On-the-spot France - French teacher on talking to students about Charlie Hebdo attacks

After the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris in January some French schoolchildren refused to observe the nationwide minute of silence to commemorate the victims. This has raised the question of how effectively schools are transmitting the concepts of citizenship and secularism, and the education ministry has issued new directives. A history teacher in a nort Parisian suburb, who blogs under the name Chouyo, describes talking to her students about the attacks, and says the government should...


On-the-spot France - Wikicheese attracts cheese-lovers to Wikipedia in France

France has hundreds of different kinds of cheeses, and many are documented on Wikipedia, the open-source online encyclopedia. But the articles lack quality photos. Enter: WikiCheese, a project from Wikimedia France to raise money to buy equipment to take photos of French cheese. It's the group’s first crowdfunding campaign, aimed at broadening the reach of Wikipedia. For now the the focus is on cheese lovers, but in the future, Wikimedia France would like to attract more women, as they make...


On-the-spot France - French ex-Guantanamo prisoner helps youngsters learn from his mistakes

In the third of our reports on radicalisation in French prisons, former Guantanamo inmate Mourad Benchellali talks to RFI about how he avoided turning to radical Islam. Benchellali was just 19 when he spent two months in an Al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan. After 9/11 he was picked up by the U.S. army and spent two years in Guantanamo. On his return to France, he was imprisoned again. Rather than embracing the jihadist cause, he's chosen to share his experience with young people and...


On-the-spot France - Muslim prison chaplains try to fight Islamist radicalisation

Muslims make up more than half of France’s prison population but there are only 182 Muslim chaplains who can lead prayer sessions and provide spiritual guidance, compared to the nearly 700 Catholic and 350 Protestant chaplains. In an attempt to fight Islamic radicalisation in prisons, the French government is looking to add 60 more Muslim prison chaplains. But the imams themselves question their ability to spot radicals, as one told RFI.