France Bans TV Shows for Babies

From AP:

“France’s broadcast authority has banned French channels from marketing TV shows to children under 3 years old, to shield them from developmental risks it says television viewing poses at that age.

The ruling also ordered warning messages for parents on foreign baby channels that are broadcast in France _ such as Baby TV, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., and BabyFirstTV, which has ties to News Corp.’s Fox Entertainment.

The High Audiovisual Council, in a ruling published Wednesday, said it wanted to “protect children under 3 from the effects of television.”

France’s minister for culture and communication, Christine Albanel, issued a “cry of alarm” to parents in June about channels dedicated 24 hours a day to baby-targeted programming. In a newspaper interview, she called them “a danger” and urged parents not to use them to help their children get to sleep.

She was referring to BabyFirstTV and Baby TV, two foreign channels that can be seen in France on cable television.

The council’s ruling aims to prevent the development of such programming on French channels, by preventing them from marketing content as suitable for the under-3 age group.

It also orders French cable operators that air foreign channels with programs for babies to broadcast warning messages to parents. The messages will read: “Watching television can slow the development of children under 3, even when it involves channels aimed specifically at them.”

The ruling cites health experts as saying that interaction with other people is crucial to early child development.

“Television viewing hurts the development of children under 3 years old and poses a certain number of risks, encouraging passivity, slow language acquisition, over-excitedness, troubles with sleep and concentration as well as dependence on screens,” the ruling said.

When BabyFirstTV began airing in the U.S. in 2006, it escalated an already heated national debate. The American Academy of Pediatrics has said babies should be kept away from television altogether. Critics say such channels are used as a baby sitter.

BabyFirstTV and other companies say their products are designed to be watched by babies and parents together in an interactive manner.

Guy Oranim, chief executive officer of BabyFirstTV, said he “respectfully objects” to the French council’s ruling. He said the channel’s content is carefully screened to ensure it is positive and educational, and that the channel encourages parents to make sure their babies don’t go overboard on TV but include it in a balanced schedule.

“One of reasons we created BabyFirstTV is that we thought there was no good programming for babies on TV, and according to the research that is out there, most of the babies are watching TV anyway,” he said.

The three companies behind BabyFirstTV are Regency Enterprises, a film and TV production company that is a partner of News Corp.’s Fox Entertainment; Kardan N.V., an investment group based in the Netherlands and Israel; and Bellco Capital, a private Los Angeles-based investment fund.”

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A French Baking School that Cares about the Untouchables of India
Thursday August 14th 2008, 8:26 am
Filed under: bread,business / economy,education,outside of France,pastries,people,products,stories

Tucked away in Chennai, India (southeast coast of India in the northeast of Tamil Nadu), you’ll find an usual and unexpected establishment: a French baking school. The school was created by 25-year-old Alexis de Duclas, a graduate of Essec, one of France’s top business schools, and 24-year-old certified French baker, Antoine Soive, who had previously worked in one of Alain Ducasse’s Michelin star restaurants.

la boulangerie chennai india employs untouchablesTogether, they work toward helping the “Untouchables” in India,* (also called Dalits) the very bottom, absolute lowest level of the Hindu caste system. Their objective is to train and certify the untouchables in the production of French baked goods and pastries, so they will later be more fairly integrated into society and regularly employed. The inspiration to found the school came after a fateful meeting with Ducla and Father Ceyrac, a Jesuit missionary who had worked with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charities to support children and people in distress in India. Many, many months later, Ducla launched his baking school.

Ducla’s school is the epitome of corporate social responsibility, with social issues being the very core of the business, while still maintaining the ability to literally and figuratively “make dough.” Ducla wanted to prove that humanitarian projects can also be profitable. The school is run by the Charity Education and Rural Development Trust. Classes are also funded by philanthropists from India and France. Ducla’s business manages to make a reasonable amount of profit by selling their products.

Students are chosen based on their “untouchability” therefore they must be from economically weak areas and they must be motivated. That is the criteria for selection to this unique school. Along with cooking lessons, the students are also required to take English, Tamil and Science lessons. The training is rigorous and students are required to wake up at midnight and work through the night. After two years of intensive training they should be ready and equipped to handle anything from a fancy gateau for a five star kitchen, to petit fours for a high end restaurant.
la boulangerie chennai india employs untouchables
A couple of years after the launch of the school, Ducla opened La Boulangerie, a French bakery/ cafe in Anna Nagar West in Chennai operated and maintained by Untouchables (15th Main Road, Anna Nagar West, Chennai 10 Tamil Nadu, India), serving, croissants, cakes, breads and sandwiches.

*Who are the Untouchables in India?

Untouchables in india are branded as impure from the moment of birth. Approximately 1 out of 6 indians (160 million people) live and suffers at the bottom of the Hindu caste system. India’s Untouchables are relegated to the lowest jobs, and live in constant fear of being publicly humiliated, paraded naked, beaten, and raped with impunity by upper-caste Hindus seeking to keep them in their place. Merely walking through an upper-caste neighborhood is a life-threatening offense.

Nearly 90 percent of all the poor Indians and 95 percent of all the illiterate Indians are Dalits/Untouchables, according to figures presented at the International Dalit Conference.

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Dimanche Dialogue Entre Florent Pagny, Xavier Darcos et Zidane
Sunday July 13th 2008, 10:36 am
Filed under: celebs,conversations,dialogue,education,music,people,sports

dialogue between florent pagny, zidane and xavier darcos
Known for his raspy voice and chart topping pop songs, Florent Pagny (left) sung his tax woes in the song, “Ma Liberté de Penser” (My freedom to think), and even though this happened long ago, France is rather merciless and never lets neither him nor anyone else forget about any of their past predicaments particularly if they involve stepping over legal lines.

Note: Xavier Darcos is France’s Education Minister (though it would’ve been more ironic if he’d been the Finance Minister…)


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La Fête du Lait Bio 2008 – Organic Milk Festival
Sunday June 01st 2008, 12:37 am
Filed under: Bretagne/Brittany,daily life,education,events,health,kids,nature,news

fete du lait bio organic milk festival
This organic milk festival is today in Bretagne (Brittany). Sorry about the late notice.

Learn more about organic products and how their production respects the environment (non-GMO, no pesticides or chemicals) and animal well-being, via this festival that every department in Brittany is celebrating with concerts, theater plays, debates and more. This isn’t just the organic dairy industry. You’ll also find bakers, farmers and animals – and their products as well. Visit a number of participating farms to experience what “real food” raising and making (and eating!) are.

You can have an organic breakfast and meet the people who bring quality products to the public.

*Note: You must have a reservation.

La Fête du Lait Bio 2008 – Organic Milk Festival
June 1, 2008
Contacts by Department: Cotes D’Armor – Jean-Sebastien Piel; Finistere – Alex Lannuzel; Ille et Vilaine – Nadege Lucas; Morbihan – Celine Rolland
Admission: 5 €, 4€ Students and Unemployed, 3€ Under 12
Website: Fete du Lait Bio

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Sarkozy’s Cultivated Anti-Intellectualism
Thursday April 03rd 2008, 4:49 am
Filed under: articles,education,politics

From counterpunch:

“Nicolas Sarkozy, allegedly the most Anglophile (or rather Americanophile) president of the 5th Republic failed his Science Po degree in the late 70s because his English was so poor that he was barred from sitting the politics exams. In the run up to the war in Iraq, the allegedly “Anti-American” Chirac was able to explain the French position in English before the US media, a small feat totally out of reach for the monolingual Sarkozy.

Sarkozy did not have to make small talk in English when he recently met the Queen in Windsor Castle since the British Monarch is fluent in French. On this occasion, some may have warned the Queen that Sarkozy’s French is generally most unceremonial: his crude crack at a person who refused to shake hands with him at a Paris farm show or the derogatory use of the “tu” form to address strangers (in the French context, not a cool way to behave, but rather a condescending or bossy one) have become Internet hits. Meeting youngsters from the banlieues a few months before his election, Sarko boasted to the kids: “I speak like you, I could be one of you”. “Bling-Bling Sarko” confuses familiarity with vulgarity. As one of his critics in the French media cruelly put it: Sarkozy is not small, but low.

Before Sarko, the Gaullist right was not quintessentially vulgar and anti-intellectual. Charles de Gaulle was a well-read man who had the good taste to choose André Malraux as Minister of Culture. Georges Pompidou was an Agrégé de lettres and a student at the Ecole Normale Supérieure. The apparently less highbrow Jacques Chirac is a great connoisseur of Japanese civilization (and, some cynics might like to add, of his banking system) [and leaves the splendid Branly museum as a monument, Editors]. Sarkozy breaks with the Gaullist tradition on that count: he is a self-professed idiot. To one of his advisers who suggested that he visit a museum during a trip in Madrid, Sarko replied: “The idiot thanks you!” (Le con te dit merci!). The ironic jibe fails to conceal Sarkozy’s deep insecurity with regard to the world of knowledge in general and to intellectuals in particular. Sarkozy admitted hating school and underachieved as a student. Recently, he was heard fuming in public against “those researchers who find nothing”.