France’s parliament is debating a law that would give the state the power to censor “fake news”. If the law is passed, the French state will have the powers to ban, through a court order, the publication of any news considered false in the run-up period to elections. French MPs are sharply divided over this proposed law. But the draft law has a powerful sponsor: President Emmanuel Macron. Macron has spoken out publicly against the toxic influence of “fake news” (the English term is widely used in French). During the presidential election campaign last year, he was outraged by attacks that targeted him personally, notably stories alleging offshore bank accounts. He also accused Russia of spreading “deceitful propaganda” through the Kremlin-controlled RT and Sputnik sites. Macron believes a law is needed to “protect our democracy from these
- Published in Paris
- Published in Paris
The whole world has now heard of Calais, an otherwise monotonous, pigeon-skied patch of northern France afflicted with the geographical misfortune of being the closest point along the coastline to the white cliffs of Dover across the English Channel. Calais has become France’s shame. We have watched with mounting consternation television news reports showing crowded and fetid campments — the “Calais jungle” — where migrants are so desperate to reach the UK that many have committed reckless and violent acts, from storming the Eurotunnel and occupying ferry boats to violently clashing with French police. To some observers, the migrants are dangerous hordes whose motives are uncertain; to others, they are refugees fleeing distant wars and crying out for help. Critics of France’s treatment of the refugees lament that the great French republic, once the cradle of the Enlightenment, has turned its back on
Below is my column for CNN.com in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris (for link click here). One week after the terrorist attacks, the world is crying for Paris. The City of Light, which evokes romance and inspires dreams, has been darkened by a terrifying nightmare. The night after the attacks, the lights on the Eiffel Tower went black in mourning. Yet Parisians, refusing to succumb to despair, are showing the strength of their resilience. Yes, nervous tourists are canceling travel plans to the French capital. And those who are already here are staying clear of monuments like Notre Dame, fearing they might be terrorist targets. But Parisians themselves are defiantly flooding back into their local bistrots and onto café terraces, savoring the movable feast that is Paris. Precisely what the jihadists loathe and fear. As a
Hector and Hugo on their own street in Paris, 7th arrondissement, this sign just next to the Assemblée Nationale.
Hugo & Hector, born in Los Angeles, spend their first Christmas in Paris. Photo taken Christmas Eve on the Alexandre III bridge.
It is frequently observed, including by many Parisians, that the Pont Alexandre III is the most beautiful bridge in Paris. Adorned with exquisite Art Nouveau-style lamp posts and embellished with nymphs and cherubs, the bridge elegantly arches over the Seine as a vast avenue connecting the Grand Palais and Les Invalides. It has become legendary in the popular imagination, made famous in films from James Bond’s A View to Kill to Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris; recognised as the glamorous backdrop in chic fashion shoots; and recently used as the setting in Adèle’s video for her song, “Someone Like You”. I live about two hundred yards from the Alexandre III bridge. From my windows I can see its gold-tipped columns. I cross the bridge on walks with Hugo and Hector almost every evening, stopping mid-way to take in the magnificent
Three images of the Fontaine de Mars, which features in my memoir Home Again in Paris. Above a photo taken circa 1900. Below a photo that I took with my iPhone this afternoon standing across the road in rue Saint-Dominique. The Fontaine de Mars restaurant is on the left. And finally a photo taken last year of Oscar at the base of the fountain.