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by Euro Reporter
2013-01-31 11:20:49
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Lights out – France to force shops and offices to go dark overnight

Shops and offices throughout France will be forced to turn off their lights overnight in a bid to fight light pollution, the country's environment ministry has announced.

Under the new law, which comes into effect on 1 July, lights in shop window displays will be turned off at 1am. Interior lights in offices and other non-residential buildings will have to be switched off an hour after the last employee leaves. Local councils will be able to make exceptions for Christmas and other special occasions, and in certain tourist or cultural areas.

The move, announced on Wednesday, is expected to save 250,000 tonnes of CO2 – enough energy to power 750,000 French households for a year. The French ecology minister, Delphine Batho, said she hoped the law would change attitudes in France and help the country become a pioneer in reducing light pollution.

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France set to deport hard-line imams

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls has said that a handful of radical imams will be expelled from the country in the coming days as part of ongoing efforts to deport foreign-born preachers who "refer to the need to fight against France".  Several hard-line Muslim preachers will be forced to leave France in the coming days, Interior Minister Manuel Valls said on Tuesday. Speaking from Brussels, where he was attending an international conference on extremist movements, Valls said the move was part of an effort to check “global jihad”. “Many radical foreign-born preachers will be deported in the coming days,” Valls told reporters, adding that it was important to draw a clear distinction between mainstream Muslims and extremists.

“I am not mistaking this radical Islam for French Islam, but a certain religious environment exists, there are groups that identify themselves as Salafists,” the interior minister said. “They are attempting to co-opt organisations, school practices, basically, to brainwash a certain number of families,” he added. Valls warned: “We will expel all these imams, all these foreign-born preachers who target women, make remarks contrary to our values and refer to the need to fight against France.” It was not the first time that the interior minister put hard-line imams on alert. In a speech given at the inauguration of the Grand Mosque of Strasbourg, in northeastern France,  Valls said he would not hesitate to deport “those who speak in the name of Islam and represent a threat to public order.”

Unnamed Interior Ministry sources told the AFP news agency that the upcoming deportations involved three people, including an imam from Seine-Saint-Denis, a suburb of the French capital with a large immigrant population. The cleric in question is said to regularly make homophobic remarks, the source said. Valls’ comments came amid heightened concerns over potential terrorist attacks. On January 12 Paris raised its terrorist threat level, known as the Vigipirate system, a day after the French military launched an offensive to rout Islamist rebels from northern Mali. "We must be extremely vigilant,” Valls said on Tuesday, “and I will be.”

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France is totally bankrupt: French employment minister

France's employment minister has questioned the economic policies of President Francois Hollande, admitting that the European country is “totally bankrupt.”  Michel Sapin's remarks were made during a radio interview on Tuesday, where he also warned against Hollande’s controversial “tax and spend” policy, which has made many high-profile people move abroad.

“There is a state but it is a totally bankrupt state,” said Sapin, adding, “That is why we had to put a deficit reduction plan in place, and nothing should make us turn away from that objective.”  France’s Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici gave an immediate response saying the remarks were ‘inappropriate.’ The French employment minister’s comment comes as Hollande is trying to improve the image of the French economy after vowing to reduce the country’s deficit through spending cuts by 60 billon euros (USD 81 billion) and increasing taxes by 20 billion euros (USD 27 billion) over the next five years.

According to figures published by France’s National Statistics Institute (INSEE) in September 2012, France’s national debt has reach 90 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP).  Europe plunged into financial crisis in early 2008. The worsening debt crisis has forced EU governments to adopt harsh austerity measures and tough economic reforms, which have triggered incidents of social unrest and massive protests in many European countries.



         
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