France Launches Book by Fidel Castro

17 de octubre de 2012, 08:51Paris, Oct 17 (Prensa Latina) The book “La contraofensiva estrategica” (The Strategic Counteroffensive) written by the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, was launched in France, in front of a large group of intellectuals, legislators, ambassadors and friends of the Caribbean country.

Under the title “La Victoria de la libertad” (Freedom’s Victory) and published by Michel Lafon publishing house, the volume tackles the last battles of the Rebel Army from the Sierra Maestra mountain range to the victorious entrance in Santiago de Cuba on January 1, 1959.

During the book launching, held at the Cuban embassy’s Alejo Carpentier hall, the island’s ambassador Orlando Requeijo thanked the publishing house that made the French translation of the book in a magnificent edition distributed today in the bookstores nationwide.

The diplomat stressed the universality of Fidel Castro’s thought, and invited those present to study this testimonial work that reflects significant moments in the history of Cuba.

In its pages, the Cuban revolutionary leader reveals tactics and strategies that allowed a small group of men resist and defeat the armed forces of the U.S.-backed tyranny of General Fulgencio Batista, in very difficult conditions, Requeijo told Prensa Latina.

This text was presented at the Frankfurt Book Fair, and will be also distributed in Belgium, Switzerland, Quebec, and other French-speaking countries, Requeijo noted.

This book reflects five months of relentless struggle and throughout its pages the reader reaches the center of the events leading to the revolutionary triumph of freedom, the publishing house said.


“Aux barricades!” Courts attack compulsory French usage

As the official language of the Republic according to the Constitution, French represents an essential part of both the personality and the national heritage of France.  (…)”. (art. 1 of the 7 August, 1994 law on the use of French language).  

Anxious to preserve a fundamental element of the French cultural heritage, legislators have imposed the compulsory use of French in employment contracts.  Article L.1321-6 of the French Labour Code provides that all documents containing employee obligations must be drafted in French, the sole exception being documents received from, or sent, abroad.  However, English has become the official working language of many international employers.  How far must employment documentation be translated into French by the employer?  Does it matter that the employee may be perfectly able to read other languages, English in particular?   

In 2006 the Versailles Court of Appeal ordered a GE Group company to provide a French version of non-contractual documentation dealing with staff training on hygiene and safety regulations, and relating to the products manufactured by the company and used by French employees in the performance of their duties.  

This case has been followed repeatedly since then.   Examples include:  

  • an insurance company ordered to provide a French version of a software programme necessary for the performance of the duties of some French employees  
  • a software company required to create a French version of its European management software.  Its support application (which was a French explanation on how to use the English language software) was deemed inadequate  
  • a ruling last year that the English version of documents setting out targets for the payment of a variable bonus were not binding on the employee   

As an exception, an employee claimed in 2007 for the loss of rights to exercise stock options as a consequence of his dismissal.  The scheme limited his rights to exercise options to the duration of his time with the company. He claimed that this condition was not enforceable as the scheme document was in English only.  Somewhat surprisingly given the other cases referred to, the Court dismissed his claim, noting that he had signed the grant letter and that “he unquestionably mastered both written and spoken English”.  This decision was probably (the detail of the reasoning does not appear in the case) motivated by the fact that Stock Option schemes usually originate from the parent company located abroad and not from the employer directly.  Certainly the employee’s abilities in English had not previously been deemed a relevant factor in any of these cases.    

Another “external influence” exception arose recently: an air carrier delivered technical documents in English to its pilots (sheets enabling taxiing, taking off and landing on airports worldwide, technical support documents, computer training program, materials on the flight plan).  A trade union claimed that the documents should be translated into French since the pilot “had difficulties” using these documents. The Court of Appeal of Paris consistently with its earlier strict interpretation of Article L.1321-6, upheld the employees’ claim and ordered the employer to provide a French version of the documents.  The Supreme Court reversed this judgment, exempting from article L. 1321-6 “such documents which are in connection with air carriers activity, the international nature of which requires the use of shared language and in order to ensure passengers safety, employees (namely pilots) are required as a condition precedent to their employment, to be able to read and understand technical documents drafted in English.”  We have thus another exception to the legal obligation to ensure a French translation, i.e. where the employees must by law be able to operate in English.   

The question is now whether the Supreme Court will extend this exception to other necessarily international workplaces such as the maritime industry, international sales or the management team of multinational companies, where the reality is that the employees may understand something written in English just as well as in French.  It is tempting to think that eventually reality must take precedence over a rigid assumption that only French language documents can be guaranteed to be understood, whatever the ethnic background of the employee in question.

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Obama debate performance sounds no better in French: 200 wiseguy words

You never want to say anything in French in American politics, not when we’re still so close to Freedom Fries, not when Mitt Romney, who spent his Mormon mission in France, got hit with an attack ad in the GOP primaries for knowing the language. But seeing the Democratic response to last Wednesday’s presidential debate, one French phrase seems inescapable.

HR12ALBEE131_19576685.JPGThe staircase: a bad place to think of a debate response.L’esprit de l’escalier.

It means the crushing response that occurs to you as you walk down the stairs from a verbal encounter that you lost. It sounds better than the French translation of “Oh, yeah?”

Since last Friday, Democratic TV ads, and Democratic rallies, and Democratic websites, have been full of crushing rejoinders to statements Romney made (in English) in the debate, noting that he sounded different on taxes than he did in the primaries, that his health care plan really doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions, that President Obama did not double the deficit but slightly reduced it.

Except 70 million Americans are no longer watching.

That’s the problem with l’esprit de l’escalier. It really doesn’t do much good. You need to be prepared to respond when it matters, something the Democratic candidates need to show starting tomorrow night, when Vice President Joe Biden debates his GOP opponent, Rep. Paul Ryan.

Otherwise, they might find themselves sprawled at the bottom of l’escalier.

— David Sarasohn

Bobby Womack, Lana Del Rey, Damon Albarn Perform Live On French TV

Bobby Womack has performed on French television with Lana Del Rey and Damon Albarn (and they do an interview together).

Bobby Womack

Bobby Womack

Womack recently released his first album of originals in almost twenty years, titled The Bravest Man In The Universe, which featured Gil Scott-Heron, Fatoumata Diawara, and Lana Del Rey on guest vocals and production from Blur and Gorillaz mastermind Damon Albarn.

Now Albarn and Del Rey have helped him perform the single ‘Dayglo Reflection’ on France’s Le Grand Journal, and sat down for an interview together.

Have a look at the performance below from the 2-minute mark, and the interview (if you can make out the English answers under the French translation) from the 6-minute mark.