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French report
by Euro Reporter
2015-05-04 09:05:37
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EU threatens France with court action over air pollution

France has just two months to act over dangerously high levels of air pollution or face being hauled in front of the European Court of Justice, the European Commission said Wednesday. The European Commission, the EU’s executive body, said in a statement published on its website that France has failed to comply with European rules requiring member states to limit citizens’ exposure to fine dust particles, known as PM10 particles.

fr_400These small particles, typically produced by vehicles, heating and heavy industry, can cause a variety of health problems including asthma, cardiovascular problems and lung cancer. “If France fails to act within two months, the Commission may take the matter to the EU Court of Justice,” it said. The warning comes after authorities in Paris were last month forced to ban half of all traffic amid a spike in pollution which briefly made the French capital the most polluted city in the world, ahead of regular offenders such as Delhi and Beijing.

The latest figures from the French authorities show that maximum daily limits for PM10 particles are being exceeded in 10 regions across the country, including the cities of Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Nice and Toulon, said the Commission. “The Commission considers that France has failed to take measures that should have been in place since 2005 to protect citizens' health, and is asking it to take forward-looking, speedy and effective action to keep the period of non-compliance as short as possible,” it said. The Commission also announced it has referred France to the European Court of Justice over its failure to comply with EU legislation on the treatment of waste water in urban areas. Some 17 towns and cities in France do not currently have waste water treatment up to EU standards, it said.


Topless Femen activists disrupt May Day speech by France's Le Pen

Three bare-breasted women making Nazi salutes disrupted a May Day speech by French far-right leader Marine Le Pen as she accused her political rivals of failing to tackle immigration and radical Islam. The women from the Femen activist group, with "Heil Le Pen" and "Stop Fascism" written on their breasts, chanted anti-National Front slogans from the balcony of a five-star hotel room overlooking the stage, to boo from the crowd. It was the second interruption to Le Pen's attempt to address hundreds of National Front (FN) supporters in central Paris. Earlier her father Jean-Marie, the party's founder, unexpectedly took to the podium to cheers despite a party disciplinary procedure against him over controversial comments about World War Two. The 86-year-old former paratrooper left the stage without uttering a word and did not wait to listen to his daughter's speech. Since her anti-EU party gathered power in local and regional elections across France, Marine Le Pen has sought to capitalize on discontent over Socialist President Francois Hollande's handling of the economy and rising unemployment.

Her speech took aim at Hollande and former president Nicolas Sarkozy, who is trying to put his conservative UMP party back on track ahead of the 2017 presidential election. "They have allowed massive immigration to become established in France. They have taken the pin out of the Islamic fundamentalist grenade," Le Pen said. "We are right on everything." FN supporters had earlier laid a wreath at a statue of 15th-century heroine Joan of Arc, who has been claimed by the far-right as a nationalist symbol. Visibly uneasy at the Femen protest, Le Pen said: "It's quite a paradox when you call yourself a feminist and try to disturb a tribute to Joan of Arc." After about 10 minutes, four National Front security men seized the protesting women.

"They will be forced to get dressed," Le Pen said. Police took the women and the National Front security men into custody but later released them. The NF later said it would file a legal complaint against Femen. Since succeeding her father as party chief in 2011, Marine has sought to rid the NF of its anti-Semitic image and position it as an anti-immigrant, Eurosceptic force proposing protectionist policies. Femen spokeswoman Inna Shevchenko, who was granted political asylum in France in 2013, said the group would sue the National Front for excessive violence. "The objective today was to ... show how Marine Le Pen really is and show her real face," Shevchenko told French media.


France has foiled five terror plots since Charlie Hebdo attack

French security services have foiled at least five planned terrorist attacks since Islamic extremists killed 17 people in Paris, including journalists at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, according to the Prime Minister, Manuel Valls. “The threat has never been so serious, we have never had to face this kind of terrorism in all our history,” Valls said on Thursday. His warning came as French police searched for accomplices of an Algerian-born student suspected of planning an “imminent” terrorist attack in Paris. The 24-year-old man was still under armed guard in hospital on Thursday. He was discovered bleeding heavily on a street in a south-east Paris on Sunday morning having apparently shot himself in the leg. François Molins, the Paris prosecutor, said the man was believed to have been planning to attack two churches in the city suburbs. He said material found at the suspect’s home suggested he was in contact with someone “believed to be in Syria” and with whom he had exchanged messages “on how to commit an attack”. Molins added: “This person had explicitly asked him to target a church,”

An arsenal of weapons and documents “in Arabic mentioning al-Qaida and Islamic State” were discovered during a search of the flat and suspect’s car, which was parked near to where he was found, the prosecutor told journalists. The number of weapons suggest he was not operating alone, said Molins. The investigation was looking at “who had financed the weapons seized and where they came from”. Police said a Kalashnikov assault rifle and three spare bullet cartridges, a police-issue Sig Sauer pistol – reported stolen by an officer – were found in the suspect’s car along with a Sphinx 9mm revolver and a bulletproof vest. At his studio flat at the university nearby in the 13th arrondissement, a further three Kalashnikovs and several bulletproof vests were discovered. Investigators say the first ballistic, DNA and phone tracing records link the suspect to the death of a 32-year-old woman, Aurélie Châtelain, who was found dead in the passenger seat of her car with three bullets in the head on Sunday morning. Molins said the man had no previous criminal record, but was known to the security services because of his stated wish to join jihadists in Syria.

Police have searched the homes of family members and arrested a 25-year-old woman. Molins said the man ranted several times to the police before refusing to speak. Investigators have been given permission to hold him for a further six days, a special measure used in cases in which there is a risk of “imminent terrorist action”. Valls said 1,573 French nationals or people resident in France were “listed as being implicated in terrorist networks”. Of these 442 are believed to be in Syria where 97 have died. “The call centre allowing citizens to raise the alarm in cases of radicalisation has already had more than 2,600 calls of which 630 have been judged very serious and investigated by the special services,” he said, adding that since 2012 “the threat has not stopped increasing”.


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