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Weather Forecast

LifeStyle 74 weather…

Good Friday
Sunny today. But cumulous clouds developing over mountain ridges. Slight chance of showers in the mountains 2nd half of the day, perhaps with thunder. Max Temps 21 on the plain. 23 in Valais. 0 at 2700 meters.

Saturday
Quite Sunny. Some showers possible, mainly along the Jura and PreAlps. Max Temps 20 - 24 C.

Easter Sunday
Sunny, despite numerous high clouds. Tendency of Foehn winds in the Alpine Valleys. Max Temps 21, up to 24 in Valais.

Easter Monday
Quite sunny, despite passing clouds at middle and high elevations. Foehn winds in the Alpine Valleys. Maximum Temps 21 on the Plain. 24 in Valley.

Tuesday
Partly Sunny. Numerous clouds at middle and high elevations.   Very cloudy with rain in the Valaisannes Alps. The snow line near 2000 meters. Foehn winds in the Alpine Valleys.   Max Temp 19 C., 22 in Valais.

Wednesday and Thursday
Cloudy. Chance of showers, more probable in the West and along the Jura. Snow above 2000 meters. Highs 18 to 22 C.

LifeStyle 74 weather in English.

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From the Papers

Notre-Dame firefighters 'exemplary' says Macron

By RFI Issued on 18-04-2019 Modified 18-04-2019 to 15:08

French President Emmanuel Macron hailed the 'exemplary' actions of firefighters in battling the Paris Cathedral blaze, as he hosted them for a ceremony at the Elysee Palace on Thursday.

"The country and the entire world were watching us and you were exemplary," Macron told 300 people who helped in the fire on Monday night. "You were the perfect example of what we should be," he added.

600 firefighters were involved in combatting the fire on Monday night and they succeeded in limiting the damage and saving Notre Dame’s iconic towers and façade.

Macron visited the scene as the fire raged on Monday night, and on Tuesday in a special address to the nation, he hailed the “heroism” of those who risked their lives beating back the flames.

Meanwhile France’s Culture minister, Franck Riester explained today that there are still areas of major weakness in the remaining structure of Notre Dame.

Major work is underway to steady the upper gable of the northern transept, which is in danger of collapsing.

The top part of the western gable, between the two towers, is leaning over because the statue of an angel at the top was so badly burned. Specialists are removing the statue.

Meanwhile the stonework at the corner of the southern belfry became so hot that it has begun to crumble and an operation is underway to try to retrieve the stone chimera. The Vault is being reinforced with further scaffolding.

President Macron has launched a project to have the damaged part of the Cathedral rebuilt by 2024.
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OPINION: Notre-Dame blaze has united France - but probably only until the weekend

The Local This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it @thelocalfrance 18 April 2019

The devastating fire in the Notre Dame Cathedral has, we’re told, united a troubled and divided French nation. For how long, wonders columnist, John Lichfield, in the Local on line English news service.

Only until the weekend, he suggests, if the most determined Gilet Jaunes are to believed.

Some, not all, yellow vests are pushing ahead with plans for a so-called “Ultimatum Two”, a large and probably heated protest in the French capital on Saturday, five days after Notre Dame Cathedral burned.

In his brief national address on Tuesday evening, President Macron said that the “tumult” of politics should be set aside, while the nation grieved for the 850 years old “lady”, disfigured, but essentially spared, by Monday’s blaze.

Macron could not prevent himself, all the same, from making several, pointed, political remarks, aimed at the French people, but mostly targeted at the Gilets Jaunes.

“What we saw in France Monday night was our capacity to conquer when united”, he said. “The fire in Notre Dame is a reminder that our history never ends… Even those things that we believed to be indestructible can be threatened… France is a living thing, but all living things are fragile.”

In other words, those who want to pull down democratic institutions, however flawed, should think before they destroy the work of centuries.

Put more crudely, President Macron hopes that a doubtless ephemeral sense of national unity-in-grief, will help to sweep away what remains of the Yellow Vest uprising.

Meanwhile, officials have warned against fraudsters who are lurking on the web and calling your home or business, taking advantage of the Notre-Dame fire to fool donors into handing over cash, believing they are helping to rebuild the gutted Paris cathedral.

The French Heritage Foundation, which has so far collected more than 13 million euros from individual donors to help restore the gothic landmark, said any phone, mail or email appeals were fake.

"A number of scams have been flagged to us both in France and abroad," the foundation said Wednesday, insisting their organization issues no appeals by phone, mail or email for donations. "All of these initiatives are fraudulent."

The foundation is accepting donations through its website (don.fondation-patrimoine.org), its Facebook page, PayPal, a Paris metro station and by SMS for those in France.

French heritage group La Fondation de patrimonie has also set up a fund inviting people to donate to the rebuilding fund. You can donate by CLICKING HERE.

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Two million bottles of French wine go up in flames in warehouse blaze

The Local This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it @thelocalfrance 18 April 2019

Two million bottles of French wine have been destroyed in a fire in Bordeaux.

60 firefighters were dispatched to battle the warehouse blaze in Carbon-Blanc in the suburbs of Bordeaux.

But despite staying for hours to make sure the fire did not break out again, a significant part of the wine stock of producer Sovex Grands Châteaux was destroyed.

According to France 3 TV Nouvelle-Aquitaine, two million bottles of wine, as well as spirits, went up in flames or else were made unfit for sale as a result of the blaze.

Initial reports indicate the fire seems to have started in the false ceiling which then collapsed on pallets and crates of alcohol. Sovex Grands Châteaux is currently trying to assess the amount of damage with their insurers.

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Eye on France: End of the road for Presidential school for scandal?

By Michael Fitzpatrick Issued on 18-04-2019 Modified 18-04-2019 to 16:03

It is rumored that President Macron plans to close the famous, prestigious and largely misunderstood National Administration School, intellectual home of the majority of recent French presidents, prime ministers, ministers, senior civil servants, top government advisors.

The school is known as ENA, from the full French name, the Ecole Nationale d’Administration, and those who emerge with the coveted qualification are called énarques, a synonym for high ability, intellectual rigor and magical management competence if you’re a fan. Critics would be more likely to suggest that énarques, as well as being unquestionably bright, are also snobs, spoiled brats, pampered rich kids from Paris. And thus, a tad weak on understanding life in, say, a disadvantaged suburb or a rural village without a school, bakery, bus service or doctor.

In fact, if last year’s output is taken as typical, the school authorities say 56 percent of students were from the provinces, 26 percent of them were poor enough to benefit from the very generous scholarship system, and 36 percent had grandparents who were either farmers, working-class or small business people.

Unfortunately, a report from the National Social Research Centre indicates that the proportion of ENA students whose fathers were senior managers went from 45 percent in the ‘60s to 70 percent in the current decade.

Yellow Vests don't like it

Condemned by some Yellow Vest protestors as a symbol of the distant technocratic élite which rules France, the school also has its defenders, admittedly most of them former students.

The debate seems to crystalize around the question of whether it is a good idea to select a small group of intellectual and social high-flyers, teach them to be ace managers, and then turn them loose in crucial positions in ministries at the age of 25, with nothing but a proven capacity for hard work in an academic background.

Today’s French dailies review the question.

Left-leaning Libération headlines its analysis “ENA faces its final exams”, and the paper is broadly in favor of abolition, provided it is part of an overhaul of the entire system of higher education in France. With a view to improving the output in terms of less uniformly formatted graduates.

Right-wing Le Figaro gives pride of place to those graduates of the famous school, who say they will refuse to see their establishment turned into a black sheep, by a bunch of louts in high-visibility jackets.

As Le Figaro analyses the situation, it is not just the school which is under attack, but the entire social system which it supports and by which it is, in turn, supported.

Catholic daily La Croix wonders what would happen after the fancy school was closed. The republic will still need top managers, trained administrators, and articulate politicians. They’ll still, broadly, emerge from the same social strata as the currently do.

As La Croix sees things, ENA is not the problem. The school is one symptom of a frozen administrative system inherited from the ‘40s. More flexibility, more internal promotion on proven competence, less learning might lead to greater efficiency.

Le Monde, cautious because the only basis for the claim that the president plans to do away with his own school is a leaked version of the televised speech Macron was due to give earlier this week, cancelled in the wake of the Notre-Dame blaze. That speech will have to be re-worked before it eventually becomes a real expression of the French leader’s vision of life inside a Yellow Vest.

Don't blame Napoléon!

The ENA school was founded in 1945 by then president Charles de Gaulle who wanted to make sure that the French civil service would be run by skilled, well-trained individuals rather than by somebody’s idiot cousin.

It seems to have worked.

Former students had a disconcerting ability to get to the top in whatever field they chose . . . chaps like Giscard, Chirac, Hollande and Macron himself became French presidents. Nine of the 18 French prime ministers since 1974 have been products of this French answer to the finishing school. French civil servants were able to put the fear of God into their generally untrained international colleagues in the early days of the European Common Market.

For now, the question of the future remains open.

But nobody is suggesting that abolishing the Ecole Nationale d’Administration will suddenly, or even eventually, make France a more egalitarian place.

For that, President Macron will have to do better….much better… as one can be sure his teachers used to say, in the old days at ENA, when they were handing back his homework.

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Putin receives French business leaders despite tension over economic ties

By RFI Issued on 18-04-2019 Modified 18-04-2019 to 15:55

More than a dozen French businesspeople were received at the Kremlin on Thursday, in an effort to promote economic ties between France and Russia. The visit was also an attempt to reassure foreign investors in the light of several recent arrests, including that of a French banker jailed in mid-February.

Bosses from Total, Société Générale, Air Liquide, Renault and Auchan all visited Moscow, underlining the importance of French economic ties as one of Russia’s key partners and main foreign employer.

However, the specter of sanctions, in place since 2014, and the arrest of American investor Michael Calvey, founder of private equity firm Baring Vostok, and his French colleague Philippe Delpal, have undermined the economic relationship between the two countries.

Calvey had been a long-standing defender of investments in the Russian market, and his jailing has shaken many foreign investors.

The Baring Vostok founder was accused of being a key player in a fraud worth some 33 million euros, although Calvey pleaded innocence. Calvey managed to swap his jail cell for house arrest, but Frenchman Delpal was not so lucky and remains in detention.

Undermining the business environment

Pavel Chinsky, director of the French-Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that Delpal’s fate should be addressed. “Our mission is to stop this fire before the entire business climate is destroyed,” he said on Wednesday in an interview with RFI.

The boss of French startup BlaBlaCar was a notable member of the business delegation visiting Moscow. The car-sharing platform has been present in Russia since 2014 and counts some 20 million users. Baring Vostok is a significant investor in BlaBlaCar, which raised some 21 million euros in funding in 2016.

An agreement was signed between Russian sovereign funds, the French public investment bank Bpifrance and Orpea, a French business involved in the management of retirement homes. The contract is worth some 200 million euros for the construction of a number of retirement homes across the country, according to the Russian media.

Commercial ties between France and Russia plunged in the wake of the first round of sanctions imposed on Moscow in 2014 over the crisis in Ukraine. Russia responded by sanctions on a number of European food products.

However, trade has recovered somewhat since the imposition of sanctions, reaching more than 13.7 billion euros in 2017, against 11.8 billion euros one year earlier. France and Germany are the two largest sources of European investment in Russia.

Main foreign employer

France is notably the largest foreign employer in Russia with more than 500 French businesses operating in the country, employing some 160,000 people, according to Business France, the agency for promoting foreign economic investment.

The energy sector is of particular importance to French businesses. Total has joined the Russian firm Novatek to undertake extensive gas exploration projects in the Russian Arctic. And Engie is one of the five European firms developing the Nord Stream 2 offshore natural gas pipeline with Russia’s Gazprom. The project has come under fire from the authorities in Washington.

“In Russia, Total has demonstrated that it can lead very big projects, worth billions, without resorting to the dollar or violating sanctions,” said Patrick Pouyanné, Total’s CEO, in an interview last week with the Russian daily RBK.

Retail and distribution companies also have a strong presence in Russia with the supermarket chain Auchan, the sportswear company Décathlon and do-it-yourself shop Leroy Merlin. In the banking sector, Société Générale holds a considerable stake in Rosbank.

The auto sector is also strong for French players with Renault controlling Russia’s biggest car manufacturer Avtovaz, known for its Lada series. While Peugeot parent company PSA has a plant in Russia in a joint venture with Mitsubishi.

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Food additive banned in France from next year

Connexion

Titanium dioxide will be banned as an additive in food in France from January 1, 2020, the Ministries of Ecology and Economy have said. Titanium dioxide is used as a whitener in many products, such as confectionery, toothpaste, cosmetics and medicines

The government has decided to ban "as a precaution" foodstuffs containing titanium dioxide (TiO2, an additive known as E171) as from 1 January 2020, the two ministries said in a joint statement.

An order has been signed and will be published "as soon as possible", the press release further stated. "As the additive E171 is authorized at European Union level, this order will be notified upon signature to the European Commission and the other Member States, which will meet within 10 days to examine this measure."

Titanium dioxide is present as a whitener in many products, such as confectionery, toothpaste, cosmetics and medicines. The decree only concerns foodstuffs, a spokesman at the Environment Ministry told france-info. "At the moment, this decision does not involve for toothpastes, cosmetics and drugs."

The document referred to 'residual uncertainties to ensure the safe use of this additive', and that "no acceptable daily intake could be set for this additive due to lack of data".

In October 2018, Casino became the first supermarket chain to remove E171 from its products, while several brands are already using alternatives.

France is one of a number of nations that operates a ‘precautionary principle’, which allows potentially harmful products to be banned before data confirms the hypothesis.

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Warm Easter means rising pollen counts in France

Connexion

France's air quality monitor Réseau National de Surveillance Aérologique warns birch pollen at high levels in parts of the country

Following a dry and warm March - that brought early pollen problems for allergy sufferers, the rainy start to April bought some early relief. But the Easter weekend will bring fair weather to large swathes of the country, notably in the north of the country.

The south will see more cloud over the long weekend, forecasters have said.

While pollen levels are not yet at high levels across most of France, the warmer weather has already seen counts rising, and allergy sufferers in the Ile de France, in the northeast and north of the country, where birch pollen is already being recorded at high levels, air quality monitor Réseau National de Surveillance Aérologique (RNSA) said.

Pollen alert levels across France

Birch pollens are among the most allergenic, along with cypress, plane tree, grass and ragweed, it warned.

Around the Mediterranean and in the Southwest, the risk level has been reset at medium for plane and oak pollens.

Poplar, willow and birch pollen levels of low to medium across the rest of the country.

The situation is unlikely to improve in the weeks to come, the association warned. Another cause of problems for those susceptible to pollen allergies will follow soon after the tree pollen spike, when grass pollen levels rise in the later spring and into summer.

Pollen allergies affect 20% of children aged nine and over, and 30% of adults in France, according to official figures.

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LifeStyle 74 News From the Papers on Good Friday, April 19th.

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The Problems of "Clean Energy"

F7 - April 2, 2019

When God created mankind, He gave us dominion over the creation (Gen. 1:26-28). With the delegation of dominion comes the responsibility of stewardship. As Christians, we want to be good stewards of the environment.

We are often told that “clean energy”—solar power and wind power—is the best way to power our economy. Photovoltaic cells and windmills generate power without emitting any pollutants into the environment.

What isn’t generally emphasized is how increasingly efficient we are in utilizing the fossil fuels—oil, natural gas, and coal. Air pollution from burning fossil fuels has declined dramatically since 1970, even as the use of fossil fuels has increased by 40%. (You’ll note in the video below that the “pollutant” in red, the largest one, is C02, which is actually plant food, not really a pollutant.) Since 1970, vehicle tailpipe emissions have been reduced by 99%.

As to “clean energy,” little attention is paid to the environmental damage caused by producing solar energy panels, in part because they are usually made in China, and the pollution happens there. Solar and wind energy also use a lot more land than fossil fuels. Giant wind turbines kill millions of birds and bats, and create noise pollution and shadow flicker. Take a look at this short video, from the Clear Energy Alliance:

There are costs to every form of energy, including those that do not emit any pollutants when they are generating power.

Here is a video that highlights a case in China where the pollution from a factory producing photovoltaic panels was so bad that the Chinese, even knowing that their infamously repressive government would crack down hard, engaged in massive protests.

It turns out that there is fairly low limit to how much solar power can be used on a grid. Electricity cannot be reliably stored, so it has to be produced when it is being used. Solar energy is produced during the day, and goes offline about the time that people get home from work and crank up the heat/AC, TV, dishwasher, washing machine, etc. Fossil fuel power generators have to come online and carry the load by themselves until the next morning when the sun comes up, and the solar generators come back online.

But by generating power during the day, solar energy producers divert revenue away from the fossil-fuel generators. This doesn’t matter much when solar is providing only 1 or 2 percent of the power. But, by some calculations, if solar goes beyond about six percent of the power mixture, it begins to de-stabilize the economic model of the fossil-fuel generators. If they cannot make a profit and close, there is no one to generate power at night when the solar generators are offline. Hence, having more than a small percentage of the electricity on a grid generated by solar power does more harm than good to the overall energy delivery system:

UPDATE: Here is an interesting article on wind turbines killing birds. The author is a wildlife ecologist who has worked on bird conservation in Portugal.

“That was when I came across a deadly form of human infrastructure that silently kills millions of birds each year. What is that killer? Wind turbines.”

“My fellow bird enthusiasts in Portugal were livid with the turbines. At first I found it hard to understand why. Then I began to research bird mortality caused by wind turbines and other energy infrastructures. My master’s thesis was on turbines’ impact on bird life in the Special Protected Wildlife Area of Portugal. I have personally radio-collared ‘protected species’ of birds that have died when they collided with wind turbines.”

“In the U.S. alone, conservative estimates are that an average of 234,000 birds are killed annually by collisions with monopole wind turbines.”

“The species with high risk from wind turbines are those that are long-lived, slow-reproducing, and wide-ranging or migratory. . . . Some species, especially raptors like the bald eagle, have been pushed to the brink of extinction exclusively by wind turbines.”

“Even an ardent promoter of renewable energy like Bill Gates openly stated that windmills cannot support the electricity demands of cities like Tokyo or New York, as they cannot produce on-demand electricity. . . . Why support an energy source that is unreliable, intermittent, and expensive—all while it kills millions of birds?”

“Anyone with a true heart for nature, anyone who would love to preserve nature, cannot support wind energy. It is unethical and immoral to support windmills just because they reduce a minuscule amount of carbon dioxide emissions and cannot guarantee any beneficial influence on Earth’s climate.”

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