French WWII memorial vandalized with anti-health pass slogan

French WWII memorial vandalized with anti-health pass slogan
French President Emmanuel Macron said vandalizing, the memorial to French World War II soldiers and Resistance fighters, with an anti-health pass slogan an “insult” to the nation’s memory. (AP)
Short Url
Updated 13 December 2021

French WWII memorial vandalized with anti-health pass slogan

French WWII memorial vandalized with anti-health pass slogan
  • The Mont Valerien monument in Suresnes was vandalised with "Anti Pass" painted in large letters
  • Macron called the act "an insult to the memory of our heroes and the memory of the nation"

NANTERRE, France: A memorial to French World War II soldiers and Resistance fighters has been vandalized with an anti-health pass slogan, authorities said Monday, in what President Emmanuel Macron called an “insult” to the nation’s memory.
The Mont Valerien monument in Suresnes, west of Paris, was vandalized with “Anti Pass” painted in large letters, with the style of the double-s reminiscent of that used by Nazis for their SS inscriptions, authorities said.
The inscription on the monument — which was inaugurated in 1960 by then-president Charles de Gaulle — is 50 meters (164 feet) long, they said.
Macron on Monday called the act “an insult to the memory of our heroes and the memory of the nation.”
In a tweet, he said that “to sully this sacred place of the republic is to violate what unites us. The perpetrators will be found and put on trial.”
France requires a health pass — proof of vaccination, Covid recovery or a negative test result — for access to restaurants and cafes, public transport and cultural venues, a requirement that sparked major protests last summer.
The government is pushing for a fast rollout of booster shots in an effort to avoid another lockdown as the new omicron virus variant is causing infections to spike.
It has also said the pass will lapse for anyone who fails to get a booster shot.
The health authorities have reported that more than 76 percent of the eligible population had been fully vaccinated as of last week, one of the highest vaccination rates in the European Union.


Finnish PM takes drugs test after party video causes stir

Finnish PM takes drugs test after party video causes stir
Updated 19 August 2022

Finnish PM takes drugs test after party video causes stir

Finnish PM takes drugs test after party video causes stir
  • Video clips of Marin partying with well-known Finnish influencers and artists began circulating in social media this week

HELSINKI: Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Friday she had taken a drugs test in the wake of video footage published earlier this week that showed her partying with friends, and vowed she had never used illegal drugs.
“I have today taken a drug test and the results will come within a week,” she told a news conference. “Never in my life have I used drugs.”
Marin added that her ability to perform her duties was unimpaired during the night in question and that she would have left the party had she been required to work.
Video clips of Marin partying with well-known Finnish influencers and artists began circulating in social media this week and they were soon published by several media outlets in Finland and abroad.
Marin had faced calls to do a drug test from politicians in her government coalition as well as from the opposition after the videos emerged.


Stars Coffee, anyone? Starbucks successor opening in Russia

Stars Coffee, anyone? Starbucks successor opening in Russia
Updated 19 August 2022

Stars Coffee, anyone? Starbucks successor opening in Russia

Stars Coffee, anyone? Starbucks successor opening in Russia
  • Russia is reopening under different names a number of western businesses that pulled out of the country in response to Russia’s military operation in Ukraine
  • Seattle-based Starbucks was one of the most visible of the wave of foreign companies that pulled out of Russia

MOSCOW: People in Moscow who were disappointed when Starbucks closed its coffee shops after Russia sent troops into Ukraine may now feel a caffeine jolt of hope: A nearly identical operation is opening in the capital.
The name’s almost the same: Stars Coffee. The logo could be the separated-at-birth twin of the Starbucks mermaid, with flowing hair, a small enigmatic smile and a star atop her head — though instead of a Starbucks crown she wears a Russian headdress called a kokoshnik.
The menu, judging by the company app introduced a day before the store’s formal opening Friday, would look familiar to any Starbucks customer.

Starbucks said Thursday it had no comment on the new stores.
Seattle-based Starbucks was one of the most visible of the wave of foreign companies that pulled out of Russia or suspended their operations in response to Russia’s military operation in Ukraine. Others include McDonald’s, IKEA and fast-fashion giant H&M.
The departure of these companies was a psychological blow to Russians who had become used to the comforts of Western-style consumer culture. But Russian entrepreneurs saw opportunity in suddenly unoccupied stores.

Former McDonald’s outlets are reopening and attracting sizable crowds under the name Vkusno — i Tochka. Though the name doesn’t roll off the tongue easily and is a little awkward to translate (roughly: It’s Tasty — Period), the menu is a testament to imitation being the sincerest form of flattery.
Yunus Yusupov, a popular rap artist who uses the stage name Timati, and restaurateur Anton Pinsky partnered to buy the Starbucks assets, then took the imitation strategy a step further by giving the operation an English-language name.

At a news conference Thursday, they vowed to reopen all the former Starbucks under their new identity and even expand the business. The US company had built its Russian operation to about 130 stores since entering the country in 2007. The stores were owned and operated by a franchisee, Alshaya Group of Kuwait.
While the close resemblance of the new operations to their predecessors could be seen as riding someone else’s inspiration and effort, the Starbucks and McDonald’s successors also fit a national-pride concept. Since Russia was walloped by sanctions and foreign pullouts, officials frequently assert that Russia will overcome by relying on its own resources and energies.
“Now the economic situation is difficult, but this is a time of opportunity,” Oleg Eskindarov, president of the holding company that partnered in the Starbucks deal, told the state news agency Tass. “For the past four months, we have been very actively looking at exiting companies following the example of Starbucks. There are several more similar examples, but we cannot talk about them yet.”


Pilots fall asleep on Ethiopian Airlines flight, missing landing

Pilots fall asleep on Ethiopian Airlines flight, missing landing
Updated 19 August 2022

Pilots fall asleep on Ethiopian Airlines flight, missing landing

Pilots fall asleep on Ethiopian Airlines flight, missing landing
  • Boeing 737, flying from Sudan, cruised past Addis Ababa destination at 37,000 feet before autopilot sounded alarm

LONDON: A pilot and co-pilot both fell asleep on an Ethiopian Airlines flight and missed the scheduled landing, raising concerns over crew fatigue, The Independent reported on Friday.

The pair were working flight ET343 from Khartoum, Sudan, to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, when the incident took place.

After cruising at 37,000 feet before arrival, the Boeing 737 was meant to descend to make its runway approach, but air traffic control raised the alarm when the aircraft maintained its altitude.

Operators tried to contact the pilot and co-pilot, but were unsuccessful.

But after flying past the destination airport, the Boeing’s autopilot disengaged, sounding an alarm and waking the two pilots.

The aircraft landed safely 25 minutes later after looping back toward the runway and stayed on the ground for about two-and-a-half hours before its next flight.

Aviation expert Alex Macheras tweeted: “Deeply concerning incident at Africa’s largest airline — Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 was still at cruising altitude of 37,000 feet by the time it reached Addis Ababa. Why hadn’t it started to descend for landing? Both pilots were asleep.

“Pilot fatigue is nothing new, and continues to pose one of the most significant threats to air safety — internationally.”

Another Twitter user said: “Hopefully both pilots get fired and the aviation authorities start an investigation on the crew duty schedules of this airline. Thank god that nothing bad happened.”

A former air traffic control worker noted the frequency of such incidents, saying: “Trust me when I tell you it’s happened here as well.”

A pilot for Italy’s ITA Airways was fired in May this year after allegedly falling asleep during a flight from New York City to Rome.

The pilot and his co-pilot are both thought to have fallen asleep, leaving air traffic control unable to communicate with the aircraft for more than 10 minutes.


Party leader? Finland’s highly-celebrated female PM displays a whole different definition

Party leader? Finland’s highly-celebrated female PM displays a whole different definition
Updated 18 August 2022

Party leader? Finland’s highly-celebrated female PM displays a whole different definition

Party leader? Finland’s highly-celebrated female PM displays a whole different definition
  • PM Sanna Marin has whipped up a social media storm after a leaked video of her partying

LONDON: Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin has whipped up a social media storm after a leaked video appeared to show the premier taking her role as “party leader” to a whole new level.

In the video, the 36-year-old darling of Finland’s center-left is seen partying and throwing shapes with friends, including famous media personalities, pop singers and rappers.

The video has divided Twitter, with many praising Marin as the “coolest leader ever.”

But some have pointed out the hypocrisy of praising the PM, given the level of criticism thrown at her UK male counterpart, Boris Johnson, for his lockdown antics during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Johnson was branded a “clown” for his lockdown parties, but Marin’s dancing was deemed “stunning and brave,” @jedi_greek pointed out.

The UK prime minister faced police probes and overwhelming political pressure to resign over gatherings he attended during the pandemic, but Finnish politics journalist and media commentator Robert Sundman told the BBC Marin’s partying had so far “not affected popularity of her or her party.”

Amid the swathes of positive comments on social media, another pointed out the ridicule former US President Donald Trump came in for when he danced to “YMCA” at campaign rallies in 2020. 

Others, including fellow politicians, said Marin was shirking her duties in leading the Finnish people and slammed her behavior as “not fitting for a prime minister.”

Finnish conservative politician Aatu Puisto posted on Twitter saying Marin’s behavior was “clearly” too much.

Puisto told Arab News the office of prime minister had to be respected, regardless of the gender of its holder.

“In my perspective, the public opinion of the prime minister’s party video would be same, regardless of gender, this is not about the gender at all,” he told Arab News.

“The (office of) prime minister is an institution, in that place, you should have more respect for that institution,” he added.

Meanwhile, @Mihir_The1 tweeted: “She represents the highest office of her country. The problem isn’t the partying but to what extent she indulges in it and in other wasteful activities, if the time spent on them is excessive then she isn’t fit to be PM and should vacate her post in the interests of her nation.”

Lawyer and economist Saara Lifflander was scathing in highlighting that Marin was busy partying at the same time she was “preparing you for power cuts next winter.”

Marin sought to defend herself after the video became public, saying she did not see a reason to change her behavior.

Amid a backlash from opposition politicians, one leader demanded she take a drug test amid allegations of drug-taking.

However, Marin denied taking drugs and said she only drank alcohol while partying “in a boisterous way.”

She continued: “I have a family life, I have a work life and I have free time to spend with my friends, pretty much the same as many people my age.

“I am going to be exactly the same person as I have been until now and I hope that it will be accepted.”


Climate change causes wonky bumblebee wings: scientists

Climate change causes wonky bumblebee wings: scientists
Updated 18 August 2022

Climate change causes wonky bumblebee wings: scientists

Climate change causes wonky bumblebee wings: scientists
  • The large furry bees, known for their distinctive buzz, only feed on flowers, making them vulnerable to changes to the countryside due to intensive farming
  • Their population has declined in Britain over the past century, with two species becoming extinct

LONDON: Warmer and wetter weather linked to climate change appears to stress out bumblebees and make their wings more asymmetrical, which could ultimately affect their future development, according to UK scientists in a new research paper.
“With hotter and wetter conditions predicted to place bumblebees under higher stress, the fact these conditions will become more frequent under climate change means bumblebees may be in for a rough time over the 21st century,” scientists at Imperial College, London, wrote in the Animal Ecology journal on Wednesday.
The large furry bees, known for their distinctive buzz, only feed on flowers, making them vulnerable to changes to the countryside due to intensive farming.
Their population has declined in Britain over the past century, with two species becoming extinct, according to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.
The Imperial College scientists looked at more than 6,000 bumblebee specimens in natural history museums, collected across Britain during the 20th century.
The scientists examined the right-left symmetry between the bees’ four wings, because asymmetry is an indication that the insect experienced stress during development.
They found that bees from the second half of the 20th century consistently had a higher average rate of asymmetry.
Asymmetry was also “consistently higher in warmer and wetter years,” according to the paper’s senior co-author Richard Gill.
“Overall, these results could suggest bumblebees experienced increasing stress as the century progressed and that aspects of climate change could have contributed to this trend,” the paper said.
The weather conditions linked to wonky wings “will likely increase in frequency with climate change,” it continued.
In April, scientists in the United States who studied more than 20,000 bees in the Rocky Mountains found that bumblebees had lower heat tolerance than smaller bees and were “more threatened under climate warming than other bees.”
Insects are facing a huge impact from both warming climate and intensive agriculture.
Another study released in April in the journal Nature found that these factors cause insect populations to plummet by nearly half compared to areas less affected by temperature rises and industrial farming.