France Secretly Changed Its Flag’s Blue A Year Ago And Practically No One Noticed

It’s literally been waving at people but they didn’t pay heed. The blue in the French flag is now navy, reverting to the shade used before 1976 to remember the Revolution.

The exterior of the Elysée Palace, along with other presidential buildings, has been sporting the look for a year unannounced. The refresh was only made public with the publication of the book Elysée Confidentiel by journalists Eliot Blondet and Paul Larrouturou in mid-September, which recounts how the color had been so abruptly swapped, euronews reports.

Arnaud Jolens, the Elysée’s director of operations, had walked into President Emmanuel Macron’s office on the eve of the country’s National Day in 2020 bringing two variations of the flag—the post-1976 version and this one—and then declared: “By the way, I’m changing the flags on all the buildings of the presidency tomorrow.” Macron smiled.

Navy blue honors “the imagination of the Volunteers of Year II, the Poilus of 1914 and the Compagnons de la Libération of Free France,” the French Presidency details. The Volunteers of Year II were France’s first citizen army who, in 1791, volunteered to protect French territory from a threatened Prussian/Austrian invasion post-Revolution (hence the term “Year II.”)

This was the shade of the tri-colored flag up to 45 years before, and the same one flown under the Arc de Triomphe every year on Armistice Day on November 11.

The blue was later brightened to match the one in the European Union flag, a decision made by former president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing.

Decades after, the French presidency has readopted the classic navy. The switch of flags across presidential landmarks cost €5,000.

Macron was evidently pleased by the decision. “The flag that all the presidents have been dragging around since [1976] was not the real French flag,” the book explains, describing the details of the conversation between Macron and Jolens.

Source: DesignTAXI

Mexico’s Secret Chinese Underworld 🇲🇽 Mexicali, Mexico

Mexicali, Mexico – This is the capital of Baja California, Mexicali, and it has such a unique history to the fabric of Mexico, Gareth Leonard had to add this place as the last stop on his first Northern Baja road trip. Between the mid-1800s and the 1940s, Mexicali, became Mexico’s largest Chinatown.

By 1920, Mexicali’s Chinese population outnumbered the Mexican population 10,000 to 700, and yet, many people still didn’t even realize how many were here.

We meet up with our local guide Diego, to get the full story.

Now here’s the most interesting part for Gareth about La Chinesca.

Just beneath the surface of central old town, in the neighborhood of La Chinesca, there’s a labyrinth of basements and tunnels that once were home to an entire population of Chinese immigrants. During Prohibition in the United States, La Chinesca in Mexicali housed just about all of the city’s casinos and bars, and established a tunnel system to connect bordellos and opium dens to neighboring Calexico on the U.S. side.

Along with being a passageway for bootleggers into the United States, this underground world was also where Chinese people would live here in Mexicali.

The Railroad Journey And The Industrial Revolution

In which John Green teaches you about railroads, and some of the ways they changed the world, and how they were a sort of microcosm for the Industrial Revolution as a whole. Prior to the invention of steam powered railroads, pretty much all locomotion had been muscle-powered. You either walked where you wanted to go, or rode on an animal to get where you were going. The railroad changed human perception of time and space, making long distance travel much faster and easier. Railroads also changed habits, including increasing reading. People needed some sort of distraction to ensure they didn’t have to talk to other people on the train. Like any new technology, railroads also scared people. All kinds of fears surrounded rail travel, but over time, people got over them. And the quality of boiler manufacturing improved, so the trains exploded less often, which also made people feel safer.

The Real Story Of The Green Book – The Guidebook That Helped Black Americans Travel During Segregation

Until the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964, the Green Book was critical for black Americans wanting to travel across the country.

Road tripping in the 20th century became an iconic American obsession, and the rising middle class was eager to travel the country on the new interstate highway system. The Green Book was a unique travel guide during this time, when segregation was practiced all over the country.

The book, which grew to cover locations in all 50 states, listed hotels, restaurants, gas stations, beauty salons, and other services that would reliably serve African Americans. The listings grew from user correspondence and a network of African American postal workers under the guidance of Victor Hugo Green, the book’s publisher.

The American road trip would go on to be an anchor in the civil rights discussion, as it highlighted the injustices and prejudice that African Americans suffered under Jim Crow. Before the Civil Rights Act outlawed racial discrimination in public accommodations, Victor Green’s booklet helped black Americans navigate their country.

Racism Decimated Chinatown In New York, San Francisco And Seattle – Anti-Asian Sentiment Grew Over Fears Of COVID-19 Pandemic, After First Reported Outbreak In China

In New York, Seattle and San Francisco, where businesses and restaurants have suffered for months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Chinatown is marking a year since it first started feeling the effects of the global outbreak.

In the early days on the pandemic, as fear grew that the virus first reported in China would spread to the United States, growing anti-Chinese sentiment caused people to avoid the district, causing harm to the communities’ economies even before the first American case of COVID-19 was confirmed.

The impact worsened as President Trump continuously branded COVID-19 the ‘China plague’.

Asian American small businesses have been among the hardest hit by the economic downturn during the pandemic. 

While there was a 22 percent decline in all small business-owner activity nationwide from February to April, Asian American business-owner activity dropped by 26 percent, according to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research. 

A year on, as the Chinese New Year on February 12 approaches, the normal 16-day celebrations are being abandoned for online events and the oldest Chinatown districts in San Francisco, New York and Seattle remain ghost towns.

Despite the younger generations coming to the communities’ aid, the promise of a faster vaccine rollout, and the aid of donations and loans, Chinatown businesses are still daunted by the uphill battling facing them in surviving 2021.

Source: Daily Mail

The Martian Diet – What Will Humans Eat On Mars? Planetary Scientist Kevin Cannon Talks About The Logistics Of Feeding A Population Of One Million On The Red Planet

What inspired you to consider feeding one million people on Mars?

I’ve been working on a lot of projects related to space resources, so using local materials on the moon or Mars to support exploration and development of space. If you think about the consumables you would need for humans, you’re looking at oxygen, water, construction material and food. And what we realized is that the food is one of the most challenging things to produce on the surface of Mars and that it’s going to take a lot of processing. In our opinion, people really weren’t thinking big enough.

How did you come up with numbers—like number of people and caloric intake—for the study?

The million people, that’s kind of an arbitrary figure based on some stuff that Elon Musk has talked about for his aspirational goals, so we just chose that as a baseline. For the specific numbers in the study, we took a lot from data on Earth. For example, we looked at how many calories the average person eats per day and then scaled that based on a person’s age and activity level. In this computer model, we actually represent a population of people, so we had a 50/50 mix of males and females and we had an age structure. Of course, children consume a lot less calories than older people. That’s all taken into account in our modeling.

How did you determine which food sources would be well-suited for life on Mars?

We looked at this in a very general way. We thought, okay, let’s start from plants, because that’s what most people assumed in the past when they thought about what people would be eating on space missions. And let’s go a little bit beyond that to some protein sources. So, we looked at what’s being done on Earth and we honed in on insect-based foods that turned out to be very efficient for Mars, as well as what’s called cellular agriculture. That’s this idea of growing meat from cells in these large bioreactors. It’s something that’s actually coming a lot sooner than people think on Earth, and it’s very well-adapted for producing food in space.

How does cellular agriculture work?

The way it works is that you take cells from an animal—you can really use any animal, but people are starting with chickens, cows, the familiar things. You extract those cells and then you basically grow them in a nutrient solution. This could be done in a big, stainless steel tank and it almost would look more like brewing beer than a traditional farm. What people are really working on now is to try to get the texture right by building up those cells in some kind of scaffold that gives you the texture of different meats. But the whole point is it’s a much more sustainable way of producing animal protein, and it’s much more ethical because it doesn’t involve raising animals in questionable conditions.

Could you elaborate a bit more on the insect protein?

In North America and in Europe, it’s not really part of our culture or diet. But if you look more broadly, I think something like 2 billion people eat insects as part of their diet on a regular basis. It turns out to be a very good source of protein and again, it’s much more sustainable. It doesn’t require a lot of land or a lot of water compared to factory farming practices. Of course, there is a little bit of a gross factor. But people can, for example, grind up crickets into flour and then put them into cookies or chips or things like that, so you can hide them and get away from just chomping down on whole insects.

What kind of fruits or vegetables would be on the menu?

If you look at what’s being done in space right now, the astronauts have a little garden where they’re able to grow things like lettuce, tomatoes and peppers. Of course, those foods are valuable for things like vitamins and the psychological benefit of being able to grow your own vegetables. But you’re not going to be able to feed a large population on those very low-calorie vegetables, so you’re really going to have to look at things like corn, wheat and soy that are dense enough in calories to support a growing population.

What kinds of technologies did you find were best suited for food production on Mars?

One of the important things is that you would want your food production to be as automated as possible because that would free up people’s time to do more important things. A lot of companies are working on that on Earth, trying to integrate robots into farming and insect production. I think the other thing that’s going to be important is genetic modification, particularly with the plant species, to find ways to improve strains of crops and make them more resilient to grow in a harsh environment on Mars. Right now, the most promising thing would be something like CRISPR, which has kind of taken over the biology world. Already, there’s been a few studies that have used CRISPR to rapidly modify the genomes of specific plant species. So, I think that in particular has the most promise for making Mars-specific strains of crops.

What are some other challenges posed by the conditions on Mars?

One thing we looked at was whether it makes sense to grow plants in greenhouses on the surface. Whenever you see an artist sketch of a Mars base, you always see greenhouses everywhere. But what we found is that you really just don’t get enough sunlight at the surface of Mars because it’s farther away from the sun. Your incident sunlight is basically what you would get in Alaska, and there’s a reason why we don’t grow corn and wheat in Alaska. They’re growing at more southern latitudes. So, it turns out that something like a greenhouse might actually not make sense on Mars. You might be better off growing the plants and producing other foods in tunnels underground, for example.

Where would the water come from?

We have a pretty good handle on where the water is on Mars. It’s mostly locked up as ice underground and it’s also found in certain minerals. For things like clays and salts, where the water is actually embedded in the mineral structure, you could heat those up and evaporate the water off. Once you extract that water, it’s pretty easy to recycle water fairly efficiently. I think on the space station, something like 97 percent of the water is recaptured and reused. It’s obviously an engineering challenge to mine that water in the first place, but then once you have a reservoir built up, you should be able to recycle it fairly efficiently in this closed ecosystem that you construct.

Based on the results of the study, would you advocate for a human settlement on Mars?

Yes, and I think if we look at what particularly SpaceX is doing, they’re already building the ships that are going to take cargo and then people to Mars. We’re already kind of set down that path, and the question is going to be: who goes? Is this going to be space agencies? Is it going to be tourists? And how is a settlement or a city going to build up? But I think it is definitely something that’s feasible in the near term.

Source: Smithsonian

Tourist Accidentally Breaks Toes Off Of 200-Year-Old Statue While Posing For Photo

An Austrian tourist is in hot water with museum officials in Italy after accidentally breaking the toes off of a 200-year-old statue while posing for a photo.

The incident occurred on July 31 at the Gipsoteca Museum in Possagno when he sat on Antonio Canova’s statue of Paolina Bonaparte, causing two toes to break off of the plaster sculpture, the art gallery said in a statement.

According to the museum, the tourist quickly moved away from the exhibit without telling anyone, and staffers were only alerted of the damage after an alarm in the room went off.

The tourist was tracked down by police using personal information the guest had left with the museum for contact tracing in the event that a coronavirus outbreak is tied to the gallery, CNN reported.

Police told the outlet that the man was with eight other Austrian tourists and broke away from the group to take a picture of himself “sprawled over the statue.” Security camera footage also captured the tourist jumping onto the base of the sculpture to get the selfie when he snapped off part of the artwork.

Source: Travel + Leisure

CNN Reporter Amara Walker Endures Three Anti-Asian Racist Encounters Within An Hour At Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport

Throughout the U.S. presidential campaign, Donald Trump has been deflecting criticism of his handling of COVID-19 by blaming China.

But the relentless linking of the pandemic to China has had negative consequences for Asian Americans, including CNN correspondent Amara Walker.

She recently described experiencing three anti-Asian racist incidents within an hour while traveling through Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.

Following these events, Walker described what happened in a lengthy Twitter thread.

Amara Walker was trying to catch a flight back home when “a man of color” suddenly approached her and said, “Ni Hao. Ching Chong,” according to her Twitter and Instagram posts last Thursday.

The journalist confronted the man about his actions earlier, but he denied the incident and walked away.

Minutes after her first encounter, while Walker was explaining to her producer what happened, a young man without a mask approached them and asked her if she spoke English.

The unnamed man mumbled incoherently and allegedly started throwing obscenities at Walker. At this point, her producer and the other people nearby demanded the man to leave her alone.

Walker’s producer called airport security, but the officer who arrived angrily denied that what the young man did was racist.

“That was not racist! Ok? Asking if she speaks English is not racist, ok? Do you understand me?” the officer allegedly said.

“Asian Americans across the country deal with this on a regular basis and we’re not talking about it,” she said. “Many Asian Americans don’t raise our voices, including myself. I’ve probably wouldn’t have written about this if this wasn’t so egregious.”

Source: NextShark, Straight