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Skiing without lifts in France

Čt, 02/25/2021 - 15:51

THE MECHANICAL clatter of chairlifts and the bass beat of high-altitude bars are familiar soundtracks in an Alpine ski resort every winter. So the quiet of the mountains this season is startlingly strange. French ski resorts are instead alive to different sounds: children tobogganing, huskies pulling sledges, defiant enthusiasts trudging uphill on skis with skins. Late last year, when the French government decided to clamp down on covid-19 once more, it shut all uphill transport but kept resorts open. This means the French can still go skiing—but without lifts.

Some solutions are punishing. Ski touring, or uphill skiing, involves struggling up the slopes on foot, with grips attached to the bottom of the skis. The Alpine village of Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, part of the Trois Vallées ski domain north-east of Grenoble, has opened a couple of runs for those with the stamina to reach the top. But skiers have become a minority. Husky-sledding is fully booked. Kit for trekking on raquettes (snow shoes) has sold out. “Everything we had has been pre-booked and rented,” says the owner of a ski-hire shop in Saint-Martin. At an altitude of 2,000 metres, hardy tourists can even go ice-diving through a hole in a frozen lake.

The French ski for almost as many days in total every year as Americans, who are...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

How brave German hairdressers won a battle for human dignity

Čt, 02/25/2021 - 15:51

“HUMAN DIGNITY shall be inviolable.“ The first article of Germany’s constitution turns out to have surprisingly broad application. For while much of Germany’s service sector remains in the deep freeze, on March 1st Germany’s 80,000 hair salons will be allowed to reopen. Some politicians frowned at the decision, taken in mid-February. But it has “something to do with dignity”, argued Markus Söder, Bavaria’s premier.

Germany required hairdressers to close before Christmas. During this long winter many mop-headed Germans immersed themselves in distinctly undignified self-cutting Instagram tutorials, or made hair-raising dashes to salons in Luxembourg. Others went underground. Frauke (not her real name), a Berlin-based stylist, has been visiting clients for a secret snip “on the down low”, albeit with precautions. Lockdown fatigue has set in, she reckons. When hairdressers first closed last spring, almost all her regulars cancelled. This time a good 80% of them are willing to risk fines to maintain a decent trim.

"Our profession has social relevance," argues Jörg Müller of the Central Association of the German Hairdressing Trade. Yet its special treatment has inspired snippy comments from owners of locked-down hotels, shops and restaurants. What explains it? A slick lobbying effort by Big Hair helped. Politicians cite "...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

Europe’s underground abortion network

Čt, 02/25/2021 - 15:51

WANDER AROUND any Polish city and the same phone number pops up on an array of unlikely surfaces. It is scrawled on bus stops and billboards. It can be daubed on the side of a church. Head online and the same number (+48 222 922 597) appears in people’s usernames. Those who dial it are put through to Kobiety w Sieci (“Women on the Net”), a group that offers women information on how to get abortions. In a country where providing terminations is now, in effect, illegal, it is a useful number to have.

In October Poland’s constitutional court struck down a law allowing abortion in cases of fetal abnormality. Of the 1,000 or so legal abortions in Poland per year before the ban, nearly all were in this category. Now, abortion is limited to cases of rape or to save a mother’s life. This fulfils a long-held dream of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party to clamp down on abortions. Activists responded by turning cities into a gonzo Yellow Pages. It also provided a burst of publicity for Abortion Without Borders, an alliance of organisations such as Kobiety w Sieci that help women who live in countries where abortion is restricted. After the Polish ban, traffic to the website shot up and calls poured in. Among the callers were angry priests, demanding to know who had plastered their church with the number of an abortion hotline.


Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn


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