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French report French report
by Euro Reporter
2009-11-21 11:32:06
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Prosecutors to appeal chemical plant explosion acquittal

French prosecutors said that they would appeal a court ruling that cleared a Total subsidiary and its former boss of responsibility for a chemical plant blast that killed 31 people. "It is an absolute duty with regard to the deceased people and all the victims," said prosecutor Michel Valet, who announced the appeal after victims of the 2001 blast denounced Thursday's ruling.

The court in the south-western town of Toulouse said there was not enough evidence to prove that negligence by the Total subsidiary Grande Paroisse had caused the blast. The explosion erupted in a storage warehouse packed with 300 tonnes of ammonium nitrate at the AZF chemical fertiliser plant near Toulouse owned by Grande Paroisse. The blast, which also injured 2,000 people and devastated 30,000 homes, came just days after the September 11 attacks in New York and initially sparked fears that it was a terrorist attack.

That theory was later dismissed by investigators who believe it was an accident. The Toulouse court on Thursday also dismissed a bid to hold the energy giant Total and one of its former bosses responsible for the explosion. Since the blast, Grande Paroisse has paid out 1.954 billion Euros (2.5 billion dollars) in compensation to more than 20,000 victims, according to Total's figures.

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Police foil schoolboy's massacre plot


A 13-year-old French boy set out Tuesday to mow down his teachers with a shotgun but abandoned the plan when he arrived at the school and found it surrounded by police, officials said.  The boy's parents raised the alarm when they realised he had taken the family gun from their house near Beauvais, north of Paris, and was headed to his school in Beauvais itself, officials said.

The teenager was in custody on suspicion of attempted murder and admitted his homicidal intentions during an interview, Beauvais prosecutor James Juan said in a statement. He wanted "to attack his teachers who quarrelled with him even though he had done nothing (wrong)," Juan said. The boy, said to be a video game enthusiast, had on Monday left a message on his blog stating that "this is the last day of my life."  
  
"He left his home with a loaded hunting rifle and 25 cartridges," said senior local official Raymond Yeddou. "He went in the direction of the school where, according to his declarations, he intended to kill his teachers." But when he saw a major police presence in front of and inside the school he abandoned his plan and instead headed to a cyber cafe in Beauvais town centre where his parents later found him. Police warned the head of the 2,000-pupil Saint Esprit School to keep his students confined to their classrooms as the drama unfolded.  Yeddou stressed that the boy never managed to get into the school and students were not in danger at any point.
  
The alarm was raised at 8:15 am (0715 GMT) by the boy's parents, who had become concerned by his unusual behaviour and searched their house, finding the gun and ammunition gone. "His parents were worried when they saw him leave the house very early, around 7:00 am. He did not seem to be his usual self," a source close to the investigation said. Though generally a good student, the source said, the boy has recently had problems at school and was worried about a parent-teacher meeting due on Tuesday. The Beauvais prosecutor said the boy wanted to stop the meeting at the academically high-achieving school from going ahead.
  
Dominique Moutin, the head of the school, said nothing in the boy's behaviour suggested Tuesday's events were likely.

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Govt report calls for 35 billion euro spending plan to boost economy


The report into France's "Grand Emprunt" or "National Loan" was handed to French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday. Its authors, former Prime ministers Alain Juppé and Michel Rocard, looked at various ways to finance long-term projects to boost France's growth potential after the current economic crisis is over. But the report has proved controversial, inside and outside of government circles.

The loan could end up totalling 35 billion Euros. It will be financed in part by 13 billion Euros that various banks owe the state, while the rest will be raised by auctioning off government bonds on the financial markets. But the deal leaves many, on the left and the right, dissatisfied. “A big loan is a big folly, a little loan is a little folly,” commented François Goulard, an MP for the Brittany region who supports Sarkozy’s UMP majority.

“It'd be better to reconsider public spending and take another look at our tax system rather than raising money like this,” said Pierre Moscovici, an opposition MP for the Jura region. The lion’s share of the loan - sixteen billion- will be put aside for research universities, with the aim of building centres of excellence to rival American laboratories. Some 4.5 billion Euros have been earmarked for local sustainable development and green building projects. Sticking to this theme, two billion Euros of the total has been set aside to develop vehicles of the future – such as electric cars - and research into carbon-free energy. The aeronautic and aerospace industries will share another two billion Euros of the total. The digital world will not be left out either, with four billion Euros set to go towards improving high speed internet connectivity and France's digital infrastructure.

 


      
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Emanuel Paparella2009-11-21 15:16:56
All the push-button technology in the world will not save the West from its amnesia of its ideals and values. It takes more than banks, political and military power to build a common identity. The concept of inalienable rights (not given or guaranteed by any power or state) might be a modest but good beginning.


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