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French politician accused of doctoring photo of Alpine climb | World news



A French politician has hit back at claims he changed the angle in a photograph to make the his ascent of an icy summit in the Alps seem more perilous.

Éric Woerth, a senior right-of-centre MP, insisted the picture he tweeted of his climb up the Aiguille d’Argentiere was genuine and said he was astonished French media had judged mocking of him on social media newsworthy.

One tweeter discovered two people in the background who appeared to be walking upright at a 90 degree angle from the snow covered mountain.

Maître Nicolas

Le plus impressionnant, ce sont ces deux personnes à droite de la photo, qui tiennent debout à l’horizontale #abdos

August 12, 2019

Others pointed out that the zip of Woeth’s jacket was at a strange angle if he was climbing upwards.


En rectifiant l’angle selon la force de gravité exercée sur les languettes de la veste, c’est tout de suite moins impressionnant !! Les politiques sont désespérants !!

August 12, 2019

Woerth held two ministerial posts when Nicolas Sarkozy was the president and is currently president of the Finance Commission in the French national assembly.

When Woerth challenged Twitter users to contact the mountain guide who had taken the photo, the social network exploded. “I’m the glacier and I can confirm that Mr Woerth climbed me,” wrote one. Another added: “I’m the green cord and I helped with this climb…”

One tweet showed Woerth taking part in the moon landing.

Guillaume Piolat

Petites vacances au calme sur la Lune. #spiderwoerth

August 12, 2019

Mountain guide Jean-Franck Charlet insisted the photograph was genuine. “I am the guide who accompanied Eric Woerth,” he wrote on Twitter. “This photo is 100% real, even if the slope at 45 degrees appears a little steeper than it is in reality. This slope is not a simple one … it’s one that has been the site of numerous accidents in the past.”

He said Woerth was “an excellent Alpinist” who had made a number of big ascents, including the Eiger, the Cervin and the Grandes Jorasses.

“I am astonished that a simple photograph has sparked so many critical and ironic comments from internet users and climbers, comments widely taken up by our great national media … who have simply picked this up easily and without any professionalism made no effort to contact the person who took the photo and by doing so establish the truth,” Charlet said.


Louisiana Says ‘Oui’ to French, Amid Explosion in Dual-Language Schools




MAMOU, La. — On the first morning of school on the Cajun prairie last week, Alice Renard marched her third graders outdoors and under the sheltering arms of a live oak, speaking to them in a language that used to be beaten out of Louisiana schoolchildren.

Ms. Renard’s Parisian French seemed at once at home and out of place in Cajun country, like the voice of Édith Piaf emanating from a zydeco club. She told her students they had come outside “pour apprendre à travailler ensemble” — to learn to work together — by learning a few new playground games: L’oiseau silencieux, the silent bird. Douaniers et contrebandiers, customs agents and smugglers. Pingouins sur la banquise. Penguins on ice.

Ms. Renard, 27, was one of roughly 65 French-speaking teachers imported by Louisiana this year to help bolster its growing roster of dual-language French immersion schools, part of an international recruitment program that dates to 1972. Most of her students bore Cajun or Creole surnames — Desormeaux, Guillory, Martel, Thibodeaux — and the summer break had rendered their language skills rusty.

But the fact that they were soon running and chasing and tagging each other according to Ms. Renard’s French-only instructions was a small but important victory for those who fear that French, so emblematic of South Louisiana culture, may be inexorably dying out.

This fall, more American students than ever will start their first day of school learning in a language other than English. Robert Slater, a senior fellow at the American Councils for International Education, said there had been a “growth explosion” over the last several years of dual-language immersion programs, including in Spanish, Russian and Mandarin Chinese.

Though exact numbers are difficult to come by, Mr. Slater estimated there were now at least 3,000 such programs in the United States, up from an estimated 2,000 cited in a 2017 study published by the RAND Corporation, and a significant upsurge from about 260 cited by the Department of Education in 2000.

Some of the schools exist not only to broaden horizons, but to shore up languages and cultures. In Hogansburg, N.Y., near the Canadian border, students at Akwesasne Freedom School started their school year last week speaking Mohawk. In Hawaii, a State Supreme Court ruling last week could force more school districts to expand the state’s existing network of Hawaiian-language immersion programs.

Louisiana French is the legacy of early settlers and later arrivals, among them the Cajuns, 18th-century exiles from eastern Canada. But the language was nearly smothered in the 20th century by laws and customs that encouraged assimilation with the Anglophone world.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, some states banned bilingual education. (More recently, Massachusetts and California lifted those bans.) In Louisiana, a stern knuckle-rapping was for many years the punishment for speaking French in school. Some parents discouraged their children from learning it, seeing English as the best route to economic and social success, decisions that were made in immigrant households across the country.

She admitted she was not prepared to teach the Cajun French dialect, with which she had only a passing familiarity. But she was ready in other ways.

She had spent the last five years in the classrooms of Paris’s outer arrondissements, mostly teaching the children of immigrants. Her English is almost flawless, honed by school, television and the internet.

“I’m fascinated by this culture,” she said of America generally. She called it a jewel. She found it exotic, and found Louisiana to be “the exotic inside the exotic.” She praised the forward-leaning state of feminism in the country and marveled at Americans’ religiosity.

She arrived on campus on the first day of school last week at around 7 a.m. with a couple of bags slung over her shoulders, moving briskly past signs declaring the rules of the hallway (“Marchez en ligne droite,” walk in a straight line), and the whiteboard lunch menu (coleslaw was “salade de chou”). She was more stressed than nervous. In the teachers’ lounge she grumbled at the bulky photocopier.

Her classroom was adorned with an American flag and the lockdown rules for an intruder scare. Parisians have those rules, too, she said, since the terror attacks of 2015.

Her 16 students trickled in, most of them in pristine first-day sneakers. Nekol Henderson, 38, dropped off her son Ethan Harris, 8, one of three African-American students in the class. Ms. Henderson said her family’s multigenerational tradition of French speaking had dwindled by the time she was born.

“I sit down with my elders and they talk,” she said, “and I don’t understand what they’re saying.”

Class began at 7:40 a.m. Ms. Renard asked her students what her surname meant. Yes, she affirmed: fox. She told them about where their notebooks would go, which ones to leave and which ones to take home. She gave them a photocopy of famous Parisian sights to color.

There is something universal in the way a seasoned elementary school teacher commands a classroom: loving but stern, largely dictatorial but open to democracy within reason and rules. A boy named Abram wiggled in his chair. Ms. Renard chided him without breaking her flow, and as if she had taught him for years. “Abram est-ce que tu peux t’asseoir correctement?

Kim Manuel, the assistant principal, stepped in for a moment. Like Ms. Henderson, she never learned the language from her French-speaking family, though she learned to understand French while working at her family’s combination service station and dress shop. “Bonjour,” she said to the children, adding, almost apologetically, “Now, Ms. Manuel, that’s as far as she goes.”

Darwan Lazard, the superintendent of the Evangeline Parish school system, also made a cameo. He said his African-American grandmother had spoken Creole French. He made a glancing reference to studies that suggest dual-language immersion students outperform their peers academically. “We can still be wonderful, loyal, patriotic Americans without erasing our various cultural backgrounds,” he said.

Soon Ms. Renard and her class were under the oak tree, and then on the swing sets for a brief recess. Her students had been learning in French since the first grade but this year would face their first state standardized tests.

With the emphasis on testing, she worried that she would be asked to follow rigid guidelines and lose sight of what she loved about her job — imparting the tools for thinking freely, tools that would allow her students, she said, “to be intellectuals.”

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The Right Answer? 8,186,699,633,530,061 (An Abacus Makes It Look Almost Easy)




KYOTO, Japan — The caller read out the numbers at a speed evoking an auctioneer on fast-forward, each multi-digit figure blurring into the next.

Within seconds, Daiki Kamino’s right arm shot up in the air, triumphant. Not only had he heard every number, he had tabulated them and arrived at the correct, 16-digit sum: 8,186,699,633,530,061.

He did it all on an abacus.

For this bit of mathematical virtuosity, Daiki, 16, a high school student from Hiroshima, was crowned champion in the dictation event at an annual tournament in Kyoto, where competitors pull off dazzling arithmetic feats simply by sliding tiny beads along rods set within modest wood frames.

Daiki is rangy and slightly awkward in that teenage boy kind of way. He loves Japanese comics known as manga, along with fantasy role-playing video games. But for the last eight years, he has spent up to three hours a day practicing on the abacus, or “soroban” in Japanese.

“There are times when I’m not in the mood,” he said. “But I start enjoying it once I start getting the right answers.”

“I listen and move my fingers and repeat the numbers in my head,” he added, trying to explain how he could possibly do what he does. “As soon I hear the unit like trillion or billion, I start to move my fingers.”

About 43,000 students take advanced soroban lessons at private schools in Japan, according to government estimates, although soroban associations say the number is higher. Many practitioners sit for exams to attain advanced qualifications known as kyu or dan, which are akin to belts in martial arts. Those who excel compete in national tournaments.

Showing the discipline of elite athletes, more than 800 contestants from across Japan, and a few from South Korea, gathered in an auditorium in Kyoto earlier this month to put their skills to the test.

The youngest competitor was 8, the oldest 69. Multiplying and dividing numbers with as many as 16 digits, their rapid clickety-clacks rippled across the room like a summer downpour.

For some events, the contestants dispensed with the physical soroban and mentally pictured the beads as they completed long pages of calculations.

One of the winners, a 20-year-old college student, broke his own Guinness World Record by adding in his head 15 three-digit numbers that flashed on a large screen at the front of the auditorium — all in 1.64 seconds.

Up until the early 1970s, elementary school children across Japan were taught proficiency on the soroban, which was adapted from versions brought from China in the 15th century. It was once a common tool among shop owners, bank tellers and company accountants, and proved resilient well after electronic calculators were introduced.

Some older shopkeepers who learned to use the soroban as children still rely on them. At Daigen, a sushi restaurant in Kyoto, Yuriko Kawahara, 69, added up the cost of several meals on an old wooden abacus. “It keeps her from going senile,” joked her husband and sushi chef, Tsumoru Kawahara, 69.

In the late 1970s, education officials, eager to bolster the population’s scientific and technological skills, significantly cut back on soroban instruction.

Today, textbooks mandated by the education ministry include only a couple of pages on the soroban. Students receive basic lessons for just two hours a year in third and fourth grade.

But advocates for soroban instruction are pushing the ministry to introduce the old-school devices earlier.

“For little kids it’s so easy to visualize numbers on the soroban,” said Yasuo Okahisa, deputy director of the League for Soroban Education in Japan, host of the Kyoto tournament.

“Unlike the computer or calculator, you have to watch the movement of the beads with your eyes, and then think with your brain and make a move with your fingers,” said Mr. Okahisa, as he slid the beads on an oversized abacus in the league’s office in Kyoto. “It’s a very foundational learning process.”

The soroban is made up of columns of beads, with each column standing for a place value like ones, hundreds, thousands and so on. One bead on the top of each column is worth five, while four on the bottom of each column are worth one each. Students add, subtract, multiply and divide by sliding the beads up and down.

Some educators say the main reason for teaching soroban is to preserve traditional Japanese culture.

But Yukako Kawaguchi, 44, who runs one of the approximately 6,500 private soroban schools nationwide with her husband, Yoshiharu Kawaguchi, 47, said those who study the soroban intensively develop a sense of achievement.

“They will be viewed as a smart kid in class, and that will give them confidence,” said Ms. Kawaguchi, a two-time national soroban champion who won her first competition when she was 14.

She admitted, though, that her soroban prowess did not help much in higher-level math like calculus. Today, aside from teaching, she mainly uses her mental soroban skills to add up grocery bills before she gets to the cashier.

On a recent afternoon during the first week of summer vacation for Japanese schoolchildren, about 30 students showed up at the school in east Tokyo.

A group of 5- to 9-year-olds crammed into a compact room, pinching beads between their thumbs and index fingers, their heads bent over work sheets filled with calculations of escalating difficulty.

Ms. Kawaguchi sat at a small desk at the front of the room. Students lined up in front of her for help.

Upstairs, Mr. Kawaguchi worked with the school’s most advanced students, two elementary-age girls who were preparing for the Kyoto competition.

For two and a half hours, he set them on timed drills. Their foreheads damp with sweat, they ran through long pages of multiplication and division, adding columns of figures and finding the square and cube roots of numbers with decimals out to the trillionth place, clicking their soroban beads at astonishing speeds.

Niko Shibayama, 11, who has been studying soroban since kindergarten, used both her thumbs to click the beads, rat-a-tat. When she put the abacus aside to work on mental math, she swirled her pencil in the air and bobbed her head as if she were listening to music.

“It’s fun,” said Niko, who spends two afternoons and all morning on Saturday at the Kawaguchis’ school. “I am pretty competitive. So I never want to lose to anyone else.” On long car rides, she likes to add up license plate numbers in her head.

At the Kyoto competition, Niko was committed but calm. During the dictation events, she tried to keep up with the caller, but quickly lost track. “I could not even understand what they were saying,” she said. “It all just sounded like ‘wah wah wah wah wah.’”

After the tournament, Niko and two classmates from soroban school paged through the competition program. Niko put a check mark by the name of a 10-year-old who had been a finalist in the dictation event, a girl with ribbons in her hair and lace cuffed socks whose feet did not even touch the floor at the table where she sat.

“I want to know what was going on in her head!” Niko said.

She said she planned to return next year. When she gets older, Niko said she thought it would be fun to become a judge for the Guinness Book of World Records.

Her mother, Rutsuko Shibayama, 44, thought Niko’s ease with competition might help her take strenuous school entrance exams in stride. But she was more happy her daughter had found an extracurricular activity she loved.

“I learned through Niko that the more you like something, the better you will get,” she said. “I am really grateful that she found something that she’s passionate about.”

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Breaking News TRUMP [ 11AM ] 8/20/19 | Breaking News TRUMP Fox News August 20, 2019



Breaking News TRUMP 8/20/19
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