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France to impose green tax on plane tickets

By RFI Issued on 10-07-2019

The French government says it will impose a tax of up to 18 euros on plane tickets for all flights departing from airports in France. The revenue will be used to fund less-polluting means of transport.

The rule will take effect in 2020. A tax of 1.5 euros is to be imposed on economy-class tickets on internal flights and those within Europe, with the highest tariff applied to business class travelers flying outside the bloc, according to transport minister Elisabeth Borne.

The scheme will raise 182 million euros a year to be invested in green transport infrastructures, notably rail, she said.

Flights to the French Mediterranean island of Corsica and also the French overseas departments – which are hugely dependent on air links for their existence – will be exempt.

Shares in Air France fell by almost 4 percent on the news. And its German competitor Lufthansa also traded lower with its shares falling 2.50 percent.

Air France slammed the measure, which it said would "strongly penalize its competitiveness," at a time when the company needed to invest, notably in renewing its fleet, to reduce its carbon footprint.

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French health agency warns about dangers of paracetamol

By RFI Issued on 10-07-2019

The French health agency, which polices the use of medicines, says all products containing the painkiller paracetamol will have to carry a warning notice indicating the dangers posed by an overdose of the chemical.

Paracetamol is frequently prescribed by French doctors in the treatment of pain and fever. It is the active ingredient in more than 200 commercially available medicines.

Products containing only paracetamol will have to carry the warning "Overdose = Danger" and the statement: "Taking more than the recommended dose can damage your liver", both outlined in red.

The French medical watchdog agency says that Paracetamol overdoses are, however, the leading factor in liver disease in France.

One Billion packets of paracetamol products are consumed by the French every year, a more than 50 percent increase over the past ten years.

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France to halt payouts for homeopathy from 2021

By RFI Issued on 10-07-2019

France is to stop reimbursing patients for homeopathic treatment from 2021, the health minister has announced. This follows advice from the national health authority that such alternative medicine has no proven medical benefit.

French Health Minister Agnès Buzyn said the refunds paid by French social security – currently 30 percent of the treatment – will be phased down to 15 percent in 2020 and then to zero in 2021.

The National Health Authority (HAS) at the end of June published a damning scientific view, saying that homeopathy had "not demonstrated scientifically a sufficient effectiveness to justify reimbursement".

Buzyn acknowledged that the move could prove unpopular and emphasized it should not stop doctors prescribing homeopathic medicines or patients from buying them.

French company Boiron, the world leader in homeopathic products, denounced what it said was an "incomprehensible and incoherent decision".

The company asked for an urgent meeting with President Emmanuel Macron and said it would "do everything to fight" the decision.

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French envoy holds talks in Tehran in bid to salvage nuclear deal

FRANCE 24   Date created : 09/07/2019

French President Emmanuel Macron's top diplomatic advisor met with Iran's president on Wednesday, winding up a day of talks in Tehran aimed at saving the 2015 nuclear deal, and easing tensions between Tehran and Washington.

But as Emmanuel Bonne pressed the high-level talks, US President Donald Trump took to Twitter to warn that US sanctions against Iran would soon be "increased substantially", charging Tehran had "long been secretly 'enriching'" uranium.

In his meeting with Bonne, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran had "completely kept the path of diplomacy and talks open"...

He called on other parties to the deal to "completely implement their commitments" to keep it alive.

Europe ‘caught between Tehran and Washington’

The 2015 accord between Iran and world powers, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), promised sanctions relief, economic benefits and an end to international isolation in return for stringent curbs on the Islamic republic's nuclear program.

But Tehran says it has lost patience with perceived inaction by European countries more than a year after Trump unilaterally pulled the US out of the agreement and imposed punishing sanctions.

However Europe is also trapped in a difficult position, explained Scott Lucas from the University of Birmingham. “Iran doesn’t want to come out of the deal. Iran has adhered to the deal ever since it was signed in 2015. But at the same time Iran is facing comprehensive American sanctions that are hurting its economy,” explained Lucas in an interview with FRANCE 24.

The European parties to the deal along with the EU's diplomatic chief on Tuesday called on Tehran to reverse its breaches of the agreement.

Bonne arrived in Tehran after Iran announced on Monday it had surpassed 4.5 percent uranium enrichment -- above the 3.67 percent limit under the accord, though still far below the 90 percent necessary for military purposes.

A source at the French presidency said "we are in a very critical phase. The Iranians are taking measures that are in violation (of the agreement) but (they) are very calibrated".

"Donald Trump is a dealmaker," the source added. "The Iranians exaggerate, but not too much, and Trump is exerting maximum pressure but he is doing this so that he can get a deal."

Despite the heightened rhetoric between the US and Iran, Macron is pursuing his diplomatic track.

On Saturday, he held an hour-long conversation with Rouhani in which he said he wanted to "explore the conditions for a resumption of dialogue between all parties".      The White House confirmed that Macron and Trump had also discussed the standoff.
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Train tickets in France to be sold in tabacs

The Local - 10 July 2019

Tobacconists in five French regions will be allowed to sell train tickets before the end of the summer, France's national rail operator SNCF has confirmed.

The agreement, signed in Paris on Monday night, will see the scheme launched in five test regions - Burgundy-Franche-Comté, Grand Est, Normandy, Pays-de-la-Loire and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur.

This means that rail passengers will be able to buy tickets for regional TER trains and TGVs at tobacco shops, which have been equipped with a special app and ticket printer.

The tickets will be in the form of a receipt with a QR code unlike the large cardboard tickets you get at stations.

No doubt the SNCF will also see it as a useful way of dealing with the growing anger over the length of queues at train stations, which unions say is down to the fact that the rail service has been closing ticket booths.

Meanwhile tobacconists hope the scheme will help keep them in business as cigarette sales continue to fall in France.

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French town sets 30 kph speed limit on all roads

Connexion

A town near Bordeaux has become the first of its size in France to introduce a 30 kph speed limit on all of its roads.

Bègles, a town of 27,000 inhabitants on the banks of the Garonne River, about five kilometers from the centre of Bordeaux, is often used as a short cut by drivers wishing to avoid city traffic.

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France alert to beach green algae after sudden death

Connexion

The danger of toxic green sea algae naturally found on the Breton coast has come into renewed question after an 18-year-old oyster farmer died suddenly on a beach.

The farmer’s body was found in the Bay of Morlaix on July 6. He may have died from inhalation of toxic gases released by the green algae in the surrounding area.

Authorities in Brest have ordered an autopsy on the man, to determine his exact cause of death.

Local environmental associations complain of the proliferation of green algae in the area, suggesting that “intoxication from hydrogen sulfide” - a potentially-fatal gas given off by algae as it decomposes - may have caused the man’s death.

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That’s LifeStyle 74 News From the Papers on Thursday July 11th.

 
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