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Edward Snowden wants asylum in France

By RFI Issued on 14-09-2019

Whistleblower Edward Snowden is seeking asylum in France, according to an interview published on Saturday. The former US intelligence contractor has been in Russia since leaking a trove of classified documents showing the scope of post-9/11 US surveillance.

Snowden had already applied for French asylum in 2013 under former president Francois Hollande. He told France Inter radio that he hoped President Emmanuel Macron would grant his request.

"The saddest thing of this whole story is that the only place an American whistle-blower has the chance to be heard, is not in Europe, but here in Russia," Snowden said in a trailer of the interview which will be broadcast in its entirety on Monday.

To date, more than a dozen countries have turned down requests to take in the 36-year-old, leading him to question their reasoning and "the system we live in".

"Protecting whistle-blowers is not a hostile act," he said.

Snowden's memoirs are to be published on Tuesday in some 20 countries.

Snowden once worked for the CIA in addition to the National Security Agency but has been living in Russia, since his 2013 leaking of thousands of documents.

The United States accuses him of endangering national security. Espionage charges could send him to prison for decades.

In a video on his Twitter account, Snowden said last week that "everything that we do now lasts forever, not because we want to remember, but because we're no longer allowed to forget.

"Helping to create that system is my greatest regret," he said.


Biggest transport strike in 12 years brings Paris to a halt amid anger at Emmanuel Macron's pension reforms

The Telegraph - Peter Allen, Paris 13 September 2019


Paris ground to a halt on Friday as the biggest transport strike for 12 years was held in protest at French President Macron’s pension reforms.

A Black Friday the 13th of stoppages saw 10 of the French capital’s 16 underground Metro lines completely shut down, while the others were operating on a limited service during rush hours only.

This led to massive overcrowding on platforms and inside the few trains running.

Suburban rail services were also badly affected, as some 383 kms of traffic jams were reported in the greater Paris region – more than double the number for a normal Friday.

Protesters carrying the flags of major trade unions including the CGT (General Confederation of Labour) also rallied around the headquarters of Paris transport operator RATP.

Other public sector workers are planning to join in the strikes and demonstrations this week, heralding an autumn of misery for Mr Macron.

He has announced plans for a universal pension that would replace the current system of multiple types of retirement plans for different trades and professions.

Paris Metro workers currently enjoy early retirement as young as age 51, while on average they stop working at 55, on pensions of around €3000 a month.

This compares to most French workers retiring at age 63, many on far less generous terms.

On Thursday, Mr Macron’s Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, said he wanted a fairer system for everybody – one that would not place such a high burden on taxpayers.

“We’re going to construct a truly universal system where every euro paid in will provide the same rights for everyone, whether a laborer, a shop owner, a researcher, a farmer, a civil servant, a doctor, or an entrepreneur,” said Mr Philippe.

Paris transport was last badly hit by a series of strikes in 2007, when workers went on strike against a plan by the then president, Nicolas Sarkozy, to reduce early retirement benefits for 500,000 public employees.


Violent protests in France in new gilets jaunes unrest


Windows were smashed and streets set alight in Nantes on Saturday, after 1,900 people gathered to protest as part of the gilets jaunes movement and against police violence.

The gilets jaunes protests were the 44th since the beginning of the movement in November last year.

Protesters said they had assembled under the twin banners of the gilets jaunes, and to protest in the wake of the death of Steve Maia Caniço, linked to police brutality. They were there “against the powers that be”, banners said.

According to public security body la Direction Départementale de la Sécurité Publique (DDSP), 30 people were arrested, and four officers were injured. At least two protesters were hurt.

Some protesters showed up in masks and attempted to break down the doors and windows of an American fast food restaurant; but most protesters stuck to the confines of the authorized protest area.

Few were wearing the “yellow vests” of previous gilets jaunes protests, reports said.

Police confiscated 22 Molotov cocktails, some fire starters and fire extinguishers, plus around 100 umbrellas.

Some shops in the centre closed in anticipation of damage.

Armored vehicles, water cannon, and tear gas were used by the gendarmerie.

Elsewhere, around 700 people - according to police - protested in Nancy, with protesters chanting “Macron démission (Macron resign)”. Law enforcement used tear gas to disperse the crowds, with at least three reported injured.

In Paris, around 500 gilets jaunes protested peacefully near the Eiffel Tower, and had dispersed by the afternoon.

Around 200 protesters gathered in both Marseille and Montpellier, and there were 300 in Bordeaux, according to police.


French far-right founder Le Pen charged for 'embezzling' EU cash

The Local This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it @thelocalfrance 14 September 2019

Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the far-right National Front, was charged on Friday for "embezzlement of public funds" over allegations he illegally claimed money from the European parliament to pay France-based staff, lawyers told AFP.

Le Pen, who was an MEP from the 1980s up until this year, was investigated over the improper spending of EU funds after the European Parliament lifted his immunity in March.

Judges questioned Le Pen for more than four hours about the jobs of three of his aides, according to his lawyers.

Le Pen, age 91, "is very tired of all this," said lawyer Frederic Joachim, condemning the case as an "incursion of the judiciary into the legislature".

Le Pen had used his parliamentary immunity to prevent anti-corruption investigators from questioning him about the case in June last year.

Despite losing his immunity, Le Pen has refused to appear before the judges.

Numerous MEPs have been charged with similar offenses, including Le Pen's estranged daughter Marine, who now heads the renamed National Rally.

It is estimated almost seven million euros was diverted from the European Parliament between 2009 and 2017.


Knife attacker badly damages artwork at Paris' Pompidiou Centre

The Local This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it @thelocalfrance 13 September 2019

An attacker wielding a utility knife, has badly damaged a work by the celebrated French conceptual artist Daniel Buren, at the Pompidou Centre in central Paris, the museum said on Friday.

The work, "Peinture [Manifestation 3]", suffered "serious deliberate damage" in Thursday afternoon's attack by the man, the museum said in a statement.

It said that a museum attendant alerted security, and video cameras allowed the rapid finding of the suspect. An investigation has been opened by the judicial authorities after the museum filed a complaint to police.

The artist, 81, has been informed of the incident and the work itself transferred to the stores of the Pompidou Centre to estimate the damage and restoration needed.   It will be replaced on public display by another work from the artist.

The Pompidou Centre said it understood the suspect was no longer in detention and had been transferred to a psychiatric unit.

The damage to the work comes just over a week after a stenciled work by the elusive British street artist Banksy was stolen from outside the Pompidou Centre.

The Pompidou, which houses Europe's biggest collection of contemporary art, but does not own the Banksy work, filed a police complaint for destruction of property.

French political power couple handed jail terms for hiding millions from taxman

The Local This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it @thelocalfrance 13 September 2019

A French court on Friday jailed for four years a right-wing power broker who for decades along with his wife dominated politics in a wealthy suburb of Paris on charges of hiding millions of euros worth of assets from the tax authorities.

The Paris tribunal convicted Patrick Balkany and ordered his immediate arrest. His wife Isabelle Balkany was given a three-year jail term but not immediately placed under arrest, as is often the case in France for short sentences.

In dramatic courtroom scenes, police arrested Balkany, 71, to begin serving his term as the verdict was being read out and his wife looked on, an AFP correspondent said. The pair were also banned from holding office for 10 years.

The trial had captivated France where it was seen as a test of the ability of the courts to hold well-connected and long-established power players to account.

The Balkanys also face a second verdict in October on separate charges of money-laundering and corruption.

Patrick Balkany's lawyer Eric Dupond-Moretti slammed the order to place his client under arrest as a "totally useless humiliation" and vowed to appeal the verdict.

Patrick and Isabelle Balkany had been under investigation since 2013 when a former political ally told judges he had deposited millions of euros in a Swiss bank account controlled by Patrick Balkany.

The pair were charged with hiding two luxury villas and other assets from the tax authorities and evading some 4 million in tax.

It was the latest in a string of probes into the couple's finances over the years since Patrick Balkany first became mayor of Levallois-Perret, west of Paris, in the early 1980s.

Patrick Balkany has repeatedly been re-elected Levallois's mayor after his first victory in 1983, with Isabelle as his deputy.

Both have been convicted previously of conflicts of interest, and both were handed suspended prison sentences in 1996 for the personal use of municipal employees, including one who was employed as their private chauffeur.


France to spend €43m to improve cycling paths


France will throw €43 million at creating yet more cycling paths in 111 areas, as part of a wider project designed to enduce people to triple daily bicycle use by 2024, from 3% to 9%.

The funds were confirmed by the ecology minister on Saturday. The plans were first announced at the end of 2018.

A total of 152 projects have been launched, with a total budget of €43.7 million.

The plan is part of the government’s “plan vélo” (bike plan), which includes a spending budget of €350 million over seven years to develop the cycling network across the country.

Of this, €50 million will be used to improve surrounding infrastructure.

This includes resolving bike path issues around places such as train stations, or near motorways. Some areas are still unsafe for bikes.


That’s LifeStyle 74 News From The Papers.


LifeStyle 74 weather…

Generally Sunny today, despite some passing clouds. Morning fog patches along waterways, especially North of the Plateau and in the Canton of Jura. Max Temps near 27 C. 28 in Valais. 0 at 3900 meters. Weak to moderate W winds in the mountains.

Quite Sunny with some passing clouds along the PreAlps towards Zurich. Max Temp near 26. 27 in Valais. Bise winds during the afternoon. In the mountains : Weak to moderate NW winds.

Quite sunny, but cooler. Morning Stratus on the Plateau and moderate Bise winds. Cloudier in the Valaisanne Alps. Highs 20 to 23 C.

Morning Stratus possible on the Plateau, otherwise Quite Sunny. Highs 19 to 22 C.

Quite Sunny. Morning Stratus possible on the Plateau. Highs a comfortable 20 to 23.

Sunny and Mild

Quite sunny despite some passing clouds. Showers possible in the mountains.

That’s the weather on LifeStyle 74 radio. Thank you for listening, and for donating! The summer months were particularly calm this year. Very few donations arrived, which leaves the radio station operating budget at over 50,000 CHf in arrears, or about 2 months behind.

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