‘The ducks have won’: French court says they may keep on quacking

Ducks are pictured at the home of Dominique Douthe, whose neighbours took her to court over her ducksÕ loud quacking, in Soustons, France, November 18, 2019. REUTERS/Regis DuvignaŸ

DAX, France (Reuters) – The ducks on a small French smallholding may carry on quacking, a French court ruled on Tuesday, rejecting a neighbor’s complaint that the birds’ racket was making their life a misery.

The court in the town of Dax ruled that the noise from the flock of around 60 ducks and geese kept by retired farmer Dominique Douthe in the foothills of the Pyrenees, southwestern France, was within acceptable limits, broadcaster France 3 said.

“The ducks have won,” Douthe told Reuters after the court decision. “I’m very happy because I didn’t want to slaughter my ducks.”

The complaint was brought by Douthe’s neighbor who moved from the city around a year ago into a property about 50 meters (yards) away from the enclosure in the Soustons district where Douthe keeps her flock.

The dispute is the latest in a series of court cases that have pitted the traditional way of life in rural France against modern values which, country-dwellers say, are creeping in from the city.

In a court ruling in September, a rooster named Maurice was allowed to continue his dawn crowing, despite complaints from neighbors who had also moved in from the city.

The neighbor in Soustons, about 700 km (430 miles) south-west of Paris, who filed the complaint about the quacking has not been publicly identified.

The neighbor’s lawyer said the noise exceeded permissible levels, and prevented the plaintiff enjoying their garden or sleeping with their house windows open.

The neighbor had asked for immediate steps to reduce the noise, and for 3,500 euros in damages, according to French media reports.

Reporting by Regis Duvignau; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Gareth Jones

Reuters: Oddly Enough

French literati ponder ‘brexit’ dictionary entry

FILE PHOTO: A pro-Brexit supporter is seen outside Parliament in London, Britain, June 17, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

PARIS (Reuters) – French literary types aghast at the political turmoil engulfing Britain as it seeks to leave the European Union launched a tongue-in-cheek Twitter campaign on Wednesday to add ‘Brexit’ to the national lexicon.

French commentator Bernard Pivot’s proposed dictionary entry for “brexit”, as a common noun with a small “b” describing an insoluble mess, was re-tweeted 2,700 times within six hours.

“It would signify a cacophonous and insoluble debate or a shambolic meeting,” wrote Pivot, chairman of the panel that awards France’s prestigious Goncourt Prize for fiction.

The term might even replace “bordel”, as several of his followers suggested – a word of similar metaphorical meaning but which literally designates a brothel. Exasperated compatriots would then exclaim “Quel brexit!” instead of “Quel bordel!”

“Excellent,” another replied approvingly. “More violent and less vulgar.”

Reporting by Laurence Frost; editing by Richard Lough and Gareth Jones

Reuters: Oddly Enough

French ‘Flying Man’ crosses Channel on jet-powered hoverboard

SANGATTE, France/SAINT MARGARET’S BAY, Britain (Reuters) – French inventor Franky Zapata on Sunday succeeded in crossing the English Channel on a jet-powered hoverboard he designed, zooming over the Strait of Dover in just over 20 minutes.

After a previous bid in July that ended with him falling into the sea, Zapata took off from Sangatte, just outside Calais in France at about 0617 GMT, on a little platform powered by five small jet engines and carrying kerosene in a backpack.

Flanked by three helicopters, he reached Britain after a stop on a boat halfway through the 35-km crossing to refuel, waving to onlookers before landing safely in Saint Margaret’s Bay, close to Dover on Britain’s southern coast.

“For the last five to six kilometers I just really enjoyed it,” Zapata told reporters on arrival. “Whether this is a historic event or not, I’m not the one to decide that, time will tell.”

“We made a machine three years ago…and now we’ve crossed the Channel, it’s crazy,” he said, before breaking into tears.

Dozens of people came to cheer on Zapata at take-off and a few residents and tourists gathered to watch the Frenchman land.

“I really didn’t think he would make it but I was hoping,” resident Helen Reed said in Saint Margaret’s Bay. “Just to see him in the distance with my little binoculars, it was just amazing.”

Zapata, who wowed crowds during France’s Bastille Day celebrations on July 14 by soaring over a military parade in Paris on the device, said on arrival that the hoverboard had reached speeds of 160 to 170 km per hour during the crossing.

The inventor had received a 1.3 million euro grant from the French army in late 2018 to help finance the development of the hoverboard.

Britain’s Royal Navy has also shown interest in similar inventions, and said on July 30 it had carried out a successful test over water with “rocket man” Richard Browning, who hovered between vessels wearing a jet-powered body suit.

Zapata’s biggest challenge was refueling with another backpack, which required landing on a platform mounted on a boat.

Slideshow (11 Images)

On his first attempt, he was knocked off balance in the process and fell, and he used a bigger boat and platform this time.

He said on arrival it was not yet clear what the hoverboard might be used for, adding that it was a complex craft that the average person was unlikely to be able to navigate.

“It’s not a machine for trip down to the bakery on a Sunday morning,” Zapata told France’s BFM TV in an interview. He said he was also working on a flying car.

Reporting by Reuters TV, Writing by Sarah White; Editing by Michael Perry and Angus MacSwan

Reuters: Oddly Enough

French hoverboard inventor readies second Channel crossing bid

French inventor Francky Zapata holds a news conference as he prepares to cross the English Channel from Sangatte in France to Dover in Bleriot Plage, France, August 3, 2019. REUTERS/Johanna Geron

SANGATTE, France (Reuters) – A French inventor will on Sunday make his second attempt to cross the English Channel on a jet-powered hoverboard he designed, having abandoned a previous bid after failing to land on a refueling platform and falling into the sea.

Franky Zapata, who wowed crowds during France’s Bastille Day celebrations on July 14 by soaring over a military parade in Paris on the device, said he had changed refueling arrangements to give himself the best chance of a successful crossing.

“I just want to do it this time, we changed the boat, we took a bigger boat and built a bigger platform,” Zapata told a news conference on Saturday just outside the northern port of Calais.

Zapata will be carrying enough kerosene in his backback to fuel the hoverboard for about 10 minutes of flight, and as on his failed July 25 crossing will need to strap on a new supply for the second leg of his journey.

He is expected to take off from France at around 0600 GMT, making first for the refueling vessel mid-way across the 35-km wide Strait of Dover.

A champion on jetski-powered waterboards, Zapata steers his Flyboard Air craft which flies at up to 140 km per hour by leaning forward or backward, and controls thrust with a throttle connected to his 1,500 horsepower board.

“I hope to see you in England, for another press conference,” Zapata told reporters. “I hope I will be drier than last time.”

Reporting by Pascale Antonie; Writing by Sarah White; Editing by David Holmes

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Three French Animated Series Nominated for Prix Export

The nominees for the 15th annual Prix Export (Export Prize), organized by TV France International, have been revealed. Covering three categories — animation, documentary and fiction — the award celebrates French companies which have contributed to uplifting the national audiovisual industry through their internationally distributed content. The winners will be revealed at a ceremony on March 18.

The 2019 Animation nominees are:

GO-N International – Simon (104×5’)
Production: GO-N Productions | Channel: France 5

Hari International – Grizzy and the Lemmings Season 1 (78×7’)
Production: Hari Productions | Channel: France 3

PGS Entertainment – Monchhichi Season 1 (52×11’)
Production: Technicolor Animation Productions & Sekiguchi Co., Ltd. | Channel: TF1

Last year, the Prix Export for Animation was given to Millimages for Molang.





Grizzy and the Lemmings

Grizzy and the Lemmings

Animation Magazine

Survey: French Doctors Open to Offering Marijuana as Medication

A majority of French physicians now appears to align with public opinion that favors allowing dispensing medical marijuana by prescription. A health professionals’ website conducted an online survey in July and August 2018  that revealed a shift in opinion. The survey in Medicine International Journal of 699 respondents found that 56 percent approved of medical […]

French Health Minister May Support Medical Marijuana, But Asks to See the Science First

Even though France made medical cannabis legal in 2013, the government still hasn’t made it available. After much discussion and debate, Minister of Health Agnès Buzyn said in an interview that she has asked her team to evaluate the different possibilities. During a recent interview on radio network RMC, Buzyn said she supported using cannabis […]

French Health Minister: Medical Cannabis Could Arrive in France

France’s health minister recently expressed her support of the arrival of medical cannabis in the country, where despite being legalized five years ago, it remains out of reach for patients. Medical cannabis has been legal in France in 2013. Since that time, however, the only cannabinoid-based drug authorized for market has been Sativex , a […]

At 55, ‘French spiderman’ keeps climbing world’s skyscrapers

PARIS (Reuters) – Alain Robert, sometimes known as the “French Spiderman” for climbing skyscrapers world worldwide, is still defying gravity at the age of 55.

He scaled the summit of the fourth-tallest building in Paris’ modern business district on Wednesday after evading security officers who had thwarted an earlier attempt.

A hobby that started at 11 years old has taken Robert to more than 150 skyscrapers around the world, including Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, the Eiffel Tower, and the Sydney Opera House.

“For me, climbing is a passion, it’s a way of life,” he said.

It took Robert just over an hour to scale to the top of the 187-metre (614-feet) high Tour Total, which houses some of the offices of the French energy group of the same name.

He has accomplished the feat twice in the past.

French climber Alain Robert, also known as “The French Spiderman”, gestures during an interview after he climbs the Melia Barcelona Sky Hotel in Barcelona, Spain June 12, 2017. REUTERS/Albert Gea

Using only climbing shoes and chalk, he clung to the window ledges to lift himself up past the tower’s 48 floors, cheered on by office workers-turned-spectators in La Defense.

Robert had first tried to climb the Engie building on Wednesday morning, but security guards quickly came to remove him.

He often climbs without permission and has been arrested several times. In 2008, he scaled the New York Times building to unfurl a banner on global warming, and was arrested by police.

Robert sees no end in sight for his vertiginous adventures.

French climber Alain Robert, also known as “The French Spiderman”, climbs the Melia Barcelona Sky Hotel in Barcelona, Spain June 12, 2017. REUTERS/Albert Gea

“As long as I have the physical strength to scale heights, I will continue to climb,” he said.

Reporting credits to Feyi Adegbite and Clotaire Achi; writing by Leigh Thomas

Reuters: Oddly Enough

The pain of chocolate as French shoppers brawl over Nutella

PARIS (Reuters) – Brawls broke out in a chain of French supermarkets as shoppers fought over cut-price tubs of Nutella chocolate spread.

The Intermarche supermarket chain on Thursday cut the price of a 950g (2 lb) jar of Nutella — so popular in France that it is often served in bars and cafes — to 1.41 euros ($ 1.8) from the usual 4.7 euros.

But shops were confronted with outbursts of violence between customers fighting to get their hands on the product.

“They are like animals. One woman had her hair pulled. An elderly lady took a box on her head. Another had a bloody hand,” one customer told the newspaper Le Progres.

The Ferrero company, Nutella’s producer, distanced itself from the sticky situation. The decision was entirely one made by Intermarche and Ferrero regretted it, a company statement said.

Writing by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Richard Lough and Angus MacSwan

Reuters: Oddly Enough

French Government Recommends Cannabis Decriminalization

A new parliamentary report from the government of France recommends a set fine of €150-€200 for marijuana possession, which would effectively decriminalize cannabis in the nation. Despite the fact that France has some of the most stringent laws related to cannabis possession, the country has one of the highest rates of marijuana use in Europe. […]

French police stop drunk driver, 73, after 17 spins round roundabout

PARIS (Reuters) – A Frenchman who drank excessive amounts of alcohol and then drove 17 times round a roundabout said he had not heard the sirens when police finally brought him to a halt.

The dizzying drive was not the 73-year-old’s first offence of its kind, Ouest France newspaper, which reported the tale, said of the incident in Brittany, western France. The driver’s license was confiscated, it said.

Reporting by Brian Love; editing by Mark Heinrich

Reuters: Oddly Enough

SIGGRAPH: Facial Animation Advances, Fabric Engine & the French Contingent

NVIDIA deep learning facial animation

NVIDIA and Remedy deep learning facial animation

Adobe Research has built on its Project StyLit experiments to develop a new project called “Stylized Facial Animation” — a tool for automating rotoscopy which can apply any selected artistic style, from a pastel sketch to a bronze statue, onto video footage of actors’ faces. Adobe will hold a public demo of the technology on Thursday, August 3 at SIGGRAPH, or you can read up on the project in Digital Trends’ interview with Senior Principal Scientist David Simons.

Following its presentation at Tuesday’s “Open Source at Pixar: USD and OpenSubdiv” Exhibitor Session, Animal Logic has launched its USDMaya plugin (known as “AL_USDMaya”) as an open source tool. The plugin enables powerful and efficient authoring and editing of 3D graphics data using Pixar’s open source Universal Scene Description (USD) in Autodesk’s Maya. The aim is to leverage the strengths of both Maya and USD, and use each one to represent the data it’s most suited to.

Animal Logic uses AL_USDMaya to allow native Maya entities such as complex Maya Rigs loaded as references, and other assets not easily represented in USD, to be embedded in USD scenes and imported into Maya in their native form. The plugin maintains a “live” connection between the USD and Maya scene, and can respond to various events, keeping the Maya and USD scenes in sync. This affords a dynamic user experience that allows artists to swap in and out different representations of objects in their scene, including Rigs for geometry caches and different levels of detail. Additionally, heavyweight scene elements such as sets and crowds can be represented in OpenGL in the Maya viewport, and manipulated either with USD or Maya tools and UI components. The source code is available now.

Fabric Software (www.fabricengine.com) introduced Fabric Engine 2.6, with key advancements for VFX, games and VR studios. The update is available in August for existing customers.

+      Asset Patterns offer a rules-based way to control data flow to and from many different industry formats with support for change propagation – so modeling and other asset modifications made in an authoring application can be quickly pushed to game engines like Unity and Unreal without a full import process.

+      Manipulation Framework lets technical directors and developers tailor the user experience of using Fabric to create applications and animation rigs that work anywhere in a production pipeline without being limited to what is available in DCC applications like Maya.

+      Rigging Enhancements, including support for the Autodesk’s newly open-sourced AnimX curve library; and a new RBF (Radial Basis Function) solver ideal for pose-based deformations that need to be solved in real-time, such as facial animation or secondary animation of cloth over a muscle system.

+      Universal Scene Description Support, tapping in to Pixar’s open-source USD library for handling vast, complex scenes. “We believe that USD could be a key technology for real-time applications used for visualization, VR and AR,” says Fabric Software CEO Paul Doyle. “There is no industry standard yet for how we store and work interactively with data at scale. Customers are telling us that USD might be it. With our new Asset Patterns functionality, we see Fabric Engine as an enabling technology for USD that could accelerate adoption and help developers standardize their pipelines.”

NVIDIA and game developer Remedy (Alan Wake, Quantum Break) showcased their team-up solution to streamlining motion capture and animation using a deep learning neural network, running on NVIDIA’s powerful DGX-1 server. After being “trained” with information on previously produced animations, the network is able to generate sophisticated 3D facial animation from videos of live actors, greatly alleviating the time and labor burden of traditional mo-cap animation — it can even learn enough to generate facial animation from just an audio clip. The companies believe this system could eventually produce animation that’s just as good or better than traditionally produced fare.

“Based on the Nvidia Research work we’ve seen in AI-driven facial animation, we’re convinced AI will revolutionise content creation,” said Antti Herva, lead character technical artist at Remedy. “Complex facial animation for digital doubles like that in Quantum Break can take several man-years to create. After working with Nvidia to build video- and audio-driven deep neural networks for facial animation, we can reduce that time by 80% in large scale projects and free our artists to focus on other tasks.”

Attendees should seek out the Pavillon France to meet the companies selected by Cap Digital and Imaginove to represent the finest in French tech and innovation. The 16 exhibitors in the 24-company contingent are seeking to connect with major players from around the world, with the support of the CNC: Eisko (www.eisko.com) – specializing in 3D celeb representations for VFX and interactive; 4DViews (http://4dviews.fr) – dynamic volumetric capture system; Dynamixyz (www.dynamixyz.com) – facial performance capture software; SPARTE (https://sparte.io) – solutions for VR, 3D printing, etc.; Stimergy (www.stimergy.com) – green energy render farm rental; Ranch Computing (www.ranchcomputing.com/en) – render farm & 3D modeling/calculation services; Qarnot Computing (www.qarnot-computing.com/fr) – fully-featured green render farm as a cloud of home heaters; Persistant Studios (www.persistant.ca) – PopcornFX real-time 3D particle effects middleware; Mercenaries Engineering (www.guerillarender.com) – 3D software for animation & VFX, Guerilla Render; Golaem (http://golaem.com) – crowd simulation, layout & previz tools; Texels (www.texels.com) – Kurtis pipeline creation and automation software for animation & VFX; Mikros Image (www.mikrosimage.eu) – post-production for animation, feature films & commercials; TVPaint Animation (www.tvpaint.com) – bitmap-based 2D software; Composite Films (www.compositefilms.fr) – Film restoration/colorization; Kolor (Gopro division) (www.kolor.com) – software solutions for immersive experiences; and Speedernet-Sphere (www.speedernet.com) – software for 260 and VR experiences for web.

NVIDIA and Remedy deep learning facial animation

NVIDIA and Remedy deep learning facial animation

Animation Magazine

French oysters go on sale in vending machines

ILE DE RE, France (Reuters) – In a change from chocolates and fizzy drinks, the French are starting to offer fresh oysters from vending machines in the hope of selling more of the delicacy outside business hours.

One pioneer is Tony Berthelot, an oyster farmer whose automatic dispenser of live oysters on the Ile de Re island off France’s western coast offers a range of quantities, types and sizes 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

French oyster farmers are following in the footsteps of other producers of fresh food who once manned stalls along roadsides for long hours but now uses machines.

“We can come at midnight if we want, if we have a craving for oysters. It’s excellent; they’re really fresh,” Christel Petinon, a 45-year-old client holidaying on the island, told Reuters.

The Ile de Re’s refrigerated dispenser, one of the first and with glass panels so customers can see what they are buying, is broadly similar to those that offer snacks and drinks at railway stations and office buildings worldwide.

A worker prepares oysters for the automatic oyster vending machine at l’huitriere de Re in Ars en Re on the Re Island, Southwestern France, August 2, 2017. Picture taken August 2, 2017.Regis Duvignau

Customers use their bank card for access, opening the door of their choice from a range of carton sizes and oyster types.

Berthelot, thirty years an oyster breeder, sees it as an extra source of revenue rather than an alternative to normal points of sale like food markets, fishmongers and supermarkets.

Slideshow (14 Images)

“We felt as though we were losing lots of sales when we are closed,” he said.

“There was a cost involved when buying this machine, of course, but we’re paying it back in installments … And today, in theory, we can say that the calculations are correct and it’s working.”

Selling oysters from a machine bets on more than just open-mindedness among consumers. Live molluscs not kept cool enough or stored too long out of seawater can cause food poisoning when opened.

The Berthelots say the machine has an appeal to a younger generation accustomed to buying on the internet and unperturbed by the absence of a shopkeeper.

Writing by Brian Love; Editing by Andrew Callus and Alister Doyle

Reuters: Oddly Enough

U.S. Army, French Drugmaker to Join Forces on Zika Vaccine

WEDNESDAY July 6, 2016, 2016 — The French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi said Wednesday that it’s joining with U.S. Army researchers to work on a vaccine for Zika virus, which has caused thousands of birth defects, primarily in Brazil.

Brazil is the site of the upcoming Summer Olympics.

Sanofi Pasteur said it will begin working with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) on development of a potential vaccine. The institute will transfer its inactivated Zika virus technology to Sanofi Pasteur, opening the door to what the drugmaker called a “broader collaboration with the U.S. government.”

Sanofi said it’s working on pre-clinical studies that utilize technology previously and successfully used to develop both its dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis vaccines.

“Zika, Japanese encephalitis, and dengue belong to the same family of viruses [flaviviruses], are transmitted by the same type of mosquito, and share some similarities at the genetic level, and we already licensed vaccines against those flaviviruses,” John Shiver, senior vice president for research and development at Sanofi Pasteur, said in a company news release.

Last month, WRAIR researchers reported that two studies done with mice supported the potential effectiveness of two Zika vaccine candidates.

This “critical first step” will lead to trials in monkeys and humans, “and gives us early confidence that development of a protective Zika virus vaccine for humans is feasible,” said researcher Col. Nelson Michael. He is co-leader of WRAIR in Silver Spring, Md., and a member of a team involved in the search for a vaccine against the mosquito-borne virus.

Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a devastating birth defect known as microcephaly, where an infant is born with an abnormally small head and brain. In Latin America, thousands of babies have already been born with microcephaly, and health officials are working to help prevent cases in the United States as the summer mosquito season arrives.

Reporting June 28 in the journal Nature, researchers said one of the new experimental vaccines was developed at Harvard Medical School in Boston and is partly based on a Zika strain isolated in Brazil.

The other vaccine, using a strain isolated in Puerto Rico, has been developed by Michael’s team at WRAIR.

Both vaccines shielded mice against Zika infection with just a single shot required, the researchers said.

“We showed that vaccine-induced antibodies provided protection, similar to existing vaccines for other flaviviruses,” said Dr. Dan Barouch. He directs the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

In related news, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) said it will study some U.S. athletes and Zika during the upcoming Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Brazil. The goal: to better understand how the virus infects people, the Associated Press reported.

Health officials have recommended that pregnant women avoid the games, which begin Aug. 5. But, the Zika virus can also be spread through sexual activity. Some athletes from several countries have already said they’ll skip the games due to concerns about potential infection with Zika.

No nation has been more affected by the Zika epidemic than Brazil, where an estimated 5,000 babies have been born with microcephaly.

The NIH plans to recruit at least 1,000 athletes, coaches and staffers for its study. The participants will provide samples of bodily fluids for routine testing to help determine risk factors for infection, and how long the virus remains in the body, the AP reported.

Most people infected with Zika typically experience mild symptoms. But the risks to a pregnant woman and a fetus are very real.

To date, the vast majority of Zika infections have occurred in Latin America and the Caribbean.

So far the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there have been no local transmissions of Zika reported in the United States. But health officials have said they expect to see local transmission — particularly in Gulf Coast states such as Florida, Louisiana and Texas — as the mosquito season wears on.

Zika is typically transmitted via the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito. However, transmission of the virus through sex is more common than previously thought, World Health Organization officials have said.

Women of child-bearing age who live in an active Zika region should protect themselves from mosquitoes by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, using mosquito repellent when outside, and staying indoors as much as possible, according to the CDC.

More information

Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on the Zika virus.

This Q&A will tell you what you need to know about Zika.

To see the CDC list of sites where Zika virus is active and may pose a threat to pregnant women, click here.

Posted: July 2016

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