French nudists, furious librarians and twin commissioners – POLITICO

It’s been a tough few days for French nudists | Pascal Guyot/AFP via Getty Images


These are tough times for people who like to wander around in the nude.

Welcome to Declassified, a weekly column looking at the lighter side of politics.

How do you make a Frenchman angry? Tell him to put his clothes back on.

Yes, it’s been a tough few days for French nudists. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin was forced to intervene following an incident on the beach at Sainte-Marie la Mer, close to Perpignan in southwest France, when three women who were bathing topless were asked to cover up by police after complaints from a family with children.

“Freedom is a precious commodity,” said a (probably) topless Darmanin.

Nudists fearful that they might be, er, stripped of their rights have more to worry about. Health authorities said there had been a “very worrying” outbreak of the coronavirus at a naturist holiday resort on the Mediterranean coast, with around 150 people testing positive.

The authorities said 95 people staying at the Cap d’Agde Naturist Village, south of Montpellier, were found to have COVID-19, while a further 50 who had been at the resort tested positive on their return home.

Known as “Naked City,” Cap d’Agde is the world’s largest clothing-optional beach resort and visitors have now been told that they must wear a face mask, if nothing else.

And if it really is “Naked City” then there are certain jobs it must be very hard (if you’ll pardon the pun) to fill: butcher, rugby player and barbeque chef, to name but three.

It wasn’t the first time nudists have been in trouble during the coronavirus pandemic. In March, police in the Czech Republic issued a warning after complaints about maskless naturists enjoying warm weather in the small town of Lázně Bohdaneč, east of Prague. And in May, authorities in the Belgian region of Bredene announced the closure of the country’s only nudist beach for the whole summer.

But if there’s one group even angrier than fully clothed French people, then it’s librarians.

When Boris Johnson gave a speech at a school on Wednesday — during which he tried to blame England’s recent exam chaos on a “mutant algorithm” — the librarians were ready for him. On the bookshelves behind the prime minister were some strategically placed books with rather unflattering titles, including “Betrayed,” “The Resistance,” “Fahrenheit 451” (a dystopian novel about a society in which books are banned), “Guards! Guards!” (about a secret brotherhood that attempts to overthrow a corrupt patrician and install a puppet king), and “The Twits.”

Alas, there don’t seem to have been any copies of Johnson’s hilariously bad 2004 novel “Seventy-Two Virgins — A Comedy of Errors.” That would have been too cruel.

However, the display apparently wasn’t intended for Johnson, but for school management. “I actually feel a little bit sorry for the prime minister because it wasn’t ever intended for him — I did it as a message for the school management before I left in February,” the now-former school librarian told the Huffington Post.

Speaking of trolling, Irish singing twin weirdos Jedward were quick off the mark when fellow Irishman Phil Hogan resigned as European trade commissioner, tweeting a picture of them standing behind an EU flag lectern. Two days earlier, Jedward had tweeted “We have more EU connections than some people! We did do Eurovision twice!” and got a ‘like’ from Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

The heavily gelled singing twins have already made it clear that they don’t play golf, so maybe they have a chance at the Commission job.


“The remake of The Karate Kid looks rubbish.”

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Paul Dallison is POLITICO‘s slot news editor.

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Coronavirus update: WHO says efficacy of plasma therapy, touted by Donald Trump, still ‘inconclusive’, French nudists encouraged to cover up

The World Health Organization said using plasma from the recovered to treat COVID-19 is still considered an “experimental” therapy, following US President Donald Trump approving an emergency authorisation of convalescent plasma for coronavirus patients.

Meanwhile a French nudist resort has seen a sharp rise in infections, leading to nudists being told to cover up… their faces.

This story will be updated throughout Tuesday.

Tuesday’s key moments:

WHO cautious on COVID-19 plasma as US issues emergency authorisation

US President Donald Trump approved an emergency authorisation of convalescent plasma last week,(AP: Alex Brandon)

The World Health Organization says using plasma from the recovered to treat COVID-19 is still considered an “experimental” therapy and that the preliminary results showing it may work are still “inconclusive.”

Over the weekend, US President Donald Trump approved an emergency authorisation of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 patients.

WHO’s chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan said convalescent plasma therapy has been used in the last century to treat numerous infectious diseases, with varying levels of success.

Dr Swaminathan said the WHO still considers convalescent plasma therapy to be experimental but it should continue to be evaluated as studies have provided “low-quality evidence”.

She added that the treatment is difficult to standardise because people produce different levels of antibodies and plasma must be collected individually from recovered patients.

Dr Bruce Aylward, a senior adviser to WHO’s director-general, said that convalescent plasma therapy can come with numerous side effects, from a mild fever and chills to more severe lung-related injuries.

French nudist resort sees spike in infections

The gate to the Village Naturiste in Cap D'Agde, France.
Cap d’Agde is one of France’s oldest and biggest naturist resorts and draws tens of thousands of visitors per day in summer.(Wikimedia Commons: Martin Lindner)

A naturist resort on France’s Mediterranean coast has seen a sharp spike in coronavirus infections and nudists have been ordered to wear masks and practice social distancing, health authorities said.

Tests had shown a 30 per cent infection rate in people who had visited Village Cap d’Agde — which advertises itself as a village for naturists and libertines — a health authority said.

That was more than four times higher than the 7 per cent rate recorded in other people in the area who had not visited the centre, the health authority added.

Cap d’Agde, set in a huge circular modernist building by the beach, is one of France’s oldest and biggest naturist resorts and draws tens of thousands of visitors per day in summer.

Officials at the resort, which is about 60 kilometres down the coast from Montpellier, did not respond to calls seeking comment.

On Sunday, France reported nearly 5,000 new coronavirus infections, a new post-lockdown record.

Italy begins human testing of potential COVID-19 vaccine

Women wearing face mask disinfect their hands in central Piazza Venezia.
The potential vaccine called GRAd-COV2 was developed by a company in Rome.(LaPresse/AP: Alfredo Falcone)

Italy kicked off human trials of a potential COVID-19 vaccine, joining a global effort to develop a response to the virus which has shown signs of a resurgence throughout parts of Europe.

Rome’s Lazzaro Spallanzani institute, a hospital specialising in infectious diseases will conduct trials on 90 volunteers over the coming weeks, with the hope a vaccine may be available by spring of next year.

Francesco Vaia, health director of the Spallanzani hospital, told Reuters the first patient will be monitored for four hours before being allowed to go home where he will be kept under observation for 12 weeks.

The potential vaccine, called GRAd-COV2, was developed by ReiThera, a company based in Rome.

The Lazio region, around the Italian capital, said in a statement early trials, including on animals, had delivered positive results.

Japan defends pandemic tourism campaign

Looking across Tokyo Airport's runways, you see a Japan Airlines plane taxiing with a snow-capped mountain in the distance.
Officials said only 10 cases of COVID-19 were found at hotel lodgings during the month-long campaign.(Flickr: Kagami)

The Japanese Government has defended the nation’s GoTo campaign, which encourages travel within Japan by offering discounts at hotels and inns.

The campaign has come under fire as a risk for spreading the virus.

Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the government-backed campaign was a success, having been used by 2 million people in the last month.

He said only 10 cases of COVID-19 were found at hotels and other lodging during the month-long campaign, and just one of those people had used the campaign discount.

The tourism business in Japan supports 9 million jobs, Mr Suga said, adding that “its importance to the economy can’t be emphasised enough”.

Japan, which has already sunk into recession, has confirmed more than 1,100 deaths and 62,000 coronavirus cases so far.

Daily cases are rising gradually to about 1,000 people lately.

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