TIME France

French Farmers Bring Sheep to the Eiffel Tower to Protest Wolf Attacks

FRANCE-ENVIRONMENT-FARMING-ANIMALS
A sheep stands at the Champ de Mars near the Eiffel Tower in Paris during a protest by farmers demanding an effective plan by the ecology ministry to fight against wolves following an increasing number of attacks on flocks on November 27, 2014. PATRICK KOVARIK—AFP/Getty Images

Not a "baaaaaad" way to get your point across

French farmers, protesting wolf attacks against their sheep, decided to place the issue at the government’s doorstep on Thursday — by bringing their flocks to graze at the Eiffel tower.

The farmers claim French environmental policies do not provide their livestock with enough protection from predators, the Associated Press reports.

The government, on the other hand, says the protection and compensation measures already in place are good enough considering that it is also trying to protect the wolf population.

The sheep, meanwhile, were not as vocal about their predicament, idly munching on grass in front of the iconic Parisian monument while their owners do all the talking.

[AP]

TIME France

Priceless Ancient Egyptian Antiques Smuggled into Paris Are Returned

France Egypt
French National Assembly President Claude Bartolone, left, welcomes Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi before their talks in Paris, France, Nov. 27 Nov. 2014. Bertrand Guay—AP

The antiques date back as far as 2,000 B.C.

Some 250 ancient Egyptian artifacts that were found in the luggage of passengers arriving in Paris four years ago were returned Thursday.

French customs handed the trove over to the Egyptian Embassy, Associated Press reports.

The items, including rings, amulets, clay posts, funeral statues and other objects, come from different periods during the Egyptian empire, with some dating back as far as 2,000 B.C.

Other antiques hail from the Roman and Byzantine eras and as late as the 7th century.

The smuggled items were seized in 2010 at Charles de Gaulle airport in the French capital. Their return came at the close of a visit to Paris by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

[AP]

TIME France

France Considers Scrapping Its 35-Hour Working Week

The French 35-hour working week might be under threat in light of the country's economic woes

France has long had the reputation of taking a lax approach to working life. But now, the New York Times reports that the country is reconsidering the official 35-hour working week amid reports that the policy is abused by employers and creating financial hardships for employees.

The shorter working week was implemented in 2000 by the then-Socialist government as a way to stimulate job creation. But according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, French employees work an average of 39.5 hours per week, just shy of the eurozone average of 40.9 hours per week. According to the Times, the shorter working week hasn’t kept unemployment down — which is at 10.2 percent in France — and might even have led to the rise in part-time contracts, which employers increasingly use to avoid having to pay full-time staff overtime.

[NYT]

TIME Books

Previously Unknown Letter from Camus to Sartre Discovered

Albert Camus LIDO/SIPA—AP

The missive was written only months before the friends fell out, and was found above a collector's fireplace

A previously unknown letter from Albert Camus to Jean-Paul Sartre has been unearthed after hanging above an autograph collector’s fireplace for decades.

The long missive is believed to have been written in March or April of 1951, shortly before the two famous French author-philosophers fell out, Agence France-Presse reports.

Writing from his apartment in Paris, Camus among other things recommends Spanish actress Aminda Valls for one of Sartre’s plays, calling her a “marvel of humanity.”

An autograph collector acquired the letter in the 1970s and kept it framed in his home until recently, when it was passed to a bookseller and subsequently sold to a French collector.

Camus published The Rebel about six months after writing the letter, and Sartre went on to criticize the book. This led to the demise of their amicable relationship, and Sartre destroying almost all of their correspondence.

[AFP]

TIME France

French National Front Secures Funding From Russian Bank

National Front president Marine Le Pen gives a press conference on Nov. 7, 2014 in Nanterre, near Paris.
National Front president Marine Le Pen gives a press conference on Nov. 7, 2014 in Nanterre, near Paris. Eric Feferberg—AFP/Getty Images

Party official claims National Front is almost broke

Is Russian President Vladimir Putin meddling in the internal politics of countries in the European Union? That seemed a strong possibility to some Europeans this week, after French political leader Marine Le Pen confirmed she had secured a €9-million ($11.1 million) loan from a Moscow-based bank, in order to run her right-wing National Front party.

“At this stage, Russia is trying to influence French domestic policy,” says Jean-Yves Camus, a political researcher at France’s Institute of International and Strategic Relations (IRIS). If so, Putin’s strategy resembles the Soviet Union before its collapse in 1991, when Moscow funded trade unions and political groups in western Europe in an attempt to buy influence and destabilize foes. “In this respect Putin is pretty much in line with the former USSR. It is the same policy all over again,” says Camus.

The French investigative news site Mediapart first broke the news that the National Front had taken the loan, with a 6% interest rate, from First Czech Russian Bank, a small Moscow-based institution, the chairman of which is Roman Popov. Mediapart said the deal emerged partly as a result of Le Pen’s visit to Moscow last February, where she met Alexander Babakov, a Russian lawmaker with connections to Putin. Babakov, who owns businesses in Ukraine, was placed under E.U. sanctions in April in retaliation for Putin annexing Crimea from Ukraine.

Well before Le Pen’s political prospects rocketed this year — the National Front won a string of victories in municipal elections in March and polled top among French voters in E.U. elections in May — the Front’s president threw her energies into cultivating allies beyond the borders of France. She traveled to Moscow in June, 2013, and met with the Speaker of the State Duma, Sergei Naryshkin and deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who hailed her as a politician of stature. She made a return trip shortly before the E.U. elections.

The trips appear to have paid dividends. A key Le Pen aide told TIME on Tuesday that the Russian loan was desperately needed since the party was close to broke after investing heavily in its election success.”It has been a real struggle,” says Ludovic de Danne, senior E.U. advisor to Le Pen, speaking from the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. He says Front officials have spent months trying to borrow money, tapping their supporters in countries around the world in an attempt to shake loose funds in order to run their operations. “Banks did not want to lend to us,” he says, adding that those who rejected them included “really, really big American institutions.”

Le Pen has been a staunch supporter of Russia. For months she has lambasted the E.U. for its sanctions against it, and she told Naryshkin in Moscow last year that Europe’s “Cold War on Russia” was “not in line with traditional, friendly relations nor with the economic interests of our country.”

Le Pen — whose party is similar to populist movements like the United Kingdom Independent Party (UKIP) and the Alternative for Germany — aims to pull her country out of the Union and reclaim its sovereignty over border control and fiscal budgets. As Putin fights to keep Ukraine and other countries allied to Russia, anything that weakens the 28-country E.U. could help further that cause.

The far-right parties in Europe share certain ideological opinions with Putin including opposition to gay marriage and open immigration. UKIP leader Nigel Farage earlier this year said Putin was one of the world leaders he most admired.The National Front aims to dismantle the E.U. and replace it with a European coalition of sovereign states that would include Russia, rather than a union that hues to U.S. values and policies, as Le Pen claims. “Russia should be a privileged partner in Europe,” de Danne says. “We don’t see Russia in 2014 as an enemy, we see Russia as a European country. And we want a multipolar world.”

Even so, some believe Putin might be misjudging the potential for right-wing leaders in Europe to take control of their governments. “In practical terms the far-right parties are of little help to him as they hold no power,” says Cas Mudde, associate professor in the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia. Similarly, Camus believes that Putin could be further isolated if Le Pen fails to become French president. “This strategy can backfire,” he says. “Putin is pretty much isolated in the international community. So I think he doesn’t have anything to gain by supporting or helping the extreme right.”

By contrast, Le Pen has already gained something valuable — a loan to support her party finances. Still, her aide de Danne denies that the loan will lead to Russian influence on the group. “It is not the agenda of Marine to get her orders from Moscow, not at all,” he says. “We had no choice. If a European bank says we’ll give you money, we will switch tomorrow.”

TIME Science

A Sheep, a Duck and a Rooster in a Hot-Air Balloon — No Joke

Ascent in captive hot air balloon made by Pilatre de Rozier, Paris, 11 October 1783 (1887). Artist: Anon
Illustration of a Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier flight from 'Histoire des Ballons' by Gaston Tissandier Print Collector / Getty Images

Nov. 21, 1783: Two men take flight over Paris on the world’s first untethered hot-air balloon ride

Before subjecting humans to the unknown dangers of flight in a hot-air balloon, French inventors conducted a trial run, sending a sheep, a duck and a rooster up in the air over Versailles.

Anyone who was anyone in pre-revolution France came out for the September 1783 demonstration in the courtyard of the royal palace. According to Simon Schama, the author of Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution, the spectators included King Louis XVI, his wife Marie Antoinette and 130,000 French citizens who, six years before returning to the palace to riot over the scarcity of bread, were drawn by sheer curiosity over how the animals would fare in the balloon’s basket.

The eight-minute flight, which ended in the woods a few miles from the palace, didn’t seem to do the barnyard trio any harm, Schama writes: “‘It was judged that they had not suffered,’ ran one press comment, ‘but they were, to say the least, much astonished.’”

The public was similarly astonished when, on this day, Nov. 21, two months after the sheep and fowl made their historic trip, two eminent Frenchmen went aloft themselves in the world’s first untethered hot-air balloon ride.

Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier, a chemistry and physics teacher, and the Marquis d’Arlandes, a military officer, flew nearly six miles, from the center of Paris to the suburbs, in 25 minutes. This time, Benjamin Franklin was among the spectators, according to Space.com. He later marveled in his journal about the experience, writing, “We observed [the balloon] lift off in the most majestic manner. When it reached around 250 feet in altitude, the intrepid voyagers lowered their hats to salute the spectators. We could not help feeling a certain mixture of awe and admiration.”

It was more than a century before the Wright brothers lifted the first powered airplane off the ground in 1903, and more than two centuries before another pair — a Swiss psychiatrist and a British balloon instructor — circumnavigated the globe in an air balloon in a record-breaking 20 days. This first balloon, rather delicately constructed of paper and silk, and requiring a large supply of fuel to stoke the fire that kept it aloft (but also threatened to burn it down), likely wouldn’t have made it so far.

There were still a few bugs to work out in this novel form of flight. The inventors themselves didn’t quite grasp the physics that made the balloon rise, believing that they had discovered a new kind of gas that was lighter than air. In fact, the gas was air, just hotter and therefore lighter than the air surrounding it.

Experimenting with different gases ultimately led to the demise of one of the intrepid voyagers aboard the first balloon flight. Pilâtre de Rozier was killed two years later while attempting to cross the English Channel in a balloon powered by hydrogen and hot air, which exploded.

Read about the 1999 balloon trip around the world, here in the TIME Vault: Around the World in a Balloon in 20 Days

TIME Syria

French Citizen Identified in ISIS Execution Video

More than 1,600 French nationals are involved with ISIS

France identified one of its citizens Monday as an executioner in the latest ISIS video showing the beheading of an American hostage.

A prosecutor in Paris identified him as Maxime Hauchard, 22, a convert to Islam whom French authorities have been tracking for years. He recently posted pictures of himself in fatigues in Syria. He also gave an interview to a French television network in July and claimed part of the credit for ISIS’ capture of the Iraqi city of Mosul.

Hauchard converted at 16 and has a felony conviction for driving without insurance, said the prosecutor, Francois Molins. He attended an…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME

Suspect in Paris Synagogue Bombing Extradited to France

Hassan Diab
Hassan Diab, the Ottawa professor who has been ordered extradited to France by the Canadian government, listens to his lawyer speak at a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, April 13, 2012. Patrick Doyle—AP

Canadian university professor Hassan Diab arrived in France Saturday

A Canadian university professor has been extradited to France and charged with first-degree murder for his alleged role in a deadly 1980 bombing outside a synagogue in Paris.

Hassan Diab landed at Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris on Saturday morning, the BBC reports, and was transferred to a Paris courthouse to face charges.

Diab, who was born in Lebanon, is the main suspect in the 1980 Rue Copernic bombing which killed four people and injured dozens. Diab fought for six years to remain in Canada until the Canadian Supreme Court approved his extradition on Thursday.

The 60-year-old sociology professor said his failed bid was “a very sad day for me, my family and supporters, and the state of extradition law in Canada.”

Diab will be presumed innocent until proven guilty, the French embassy in Ottawa said.

[BBC]

TIME Food & Drink

French Wine Council Explores Use of Drones to Detect Vine Diseases

wine vineyard
Getty Images

One of those diseases is the wood-rotting affliction known as esca, which is an increasing concern for winemakers in France

decanter-logo

This article originally appeared on Decanter.

An alliance of Burgundy’s wine council, Airbus air defense engineers and Bordeaux wine magnate Bernard Magrez have agreed funding to test the use of drones to detect killer vine diseases.

The consortium plans to spend up to €1.7m during the second phase of its drone project, named Damav and set to last 36 months, according to Burgundy’s wine trade body, the BIVB. It will be part-financed by the French state, with drones supplied by Novadem.

‘It’s not science fiction,’ said the consortium. ‘Images obtained using drones and interpreted using sophisticated analysis systems will, in the near future, constitute a key instrument of diagnosis for growers.’

Cecile Mathiaud, spokesperson for the BIVB, said the group’s next challenge is to ‘make sure that what the drone sees can be analysed to get results, and to get better results than with the human eye. That would stop winemakers from having to check every single vine.’

The project’s second phase follows ‘promising’ initial trials to detect the early signs of flavescence doree disease; a relatively new vine illness that has no known cure and is currently at the centre of a bitter court battle between one biodynamic winemaker and French officials.

‘Flavescence doree is what everybody talks about right now, but this may help with other diseases, too,’ said Mathiaud.

One of those diseases is the wood-rotting affliction known as esca, which is an increasing concern for winemakers in France. Early detection is key to limiting the damage wreaked by vine diseases. There is currently little effective treatment for flavescence doree or esca.

In January this year, Bernard Magrez, who is also part of the alliance, said he would begin using drones to analyse vines in his four classified estates in Bordeaux.

Separately, the BIVB is also part of a second consortium that is researching ways to stimulate vines’ natural defences against disease, without resorting to chemical sprays. That project is also set to last 36 months, with a budget of €1.7m.

More from Decanter:

TIME France

Soldiers Join Hunt for Tiger on the Loose Near Disneyland Paris

A picture taken by a passerby shows an alleged tiger on the loose walking in Montevrain, east of Paris, on Nov. 13, 2014.
A picture taken by a passerby shows an alleged tiger on the loose walking in Montevrain, east of Paris, on Nov. 13, 2014. Julie Berdeaux—AFP/Getty Images

Residents of Montevrain warned to stay inside

Soldiers have joined the hunt for a young tiger that was spotted on the loose near Disneyland Paris and was later seen crossing a highway, officials said Friday. About a dozen troops were tapped to help scores of French police officers armed with tranquilizer guns look for the elusive creature. Residents of Montevrain, about 25 miles east of Paris, were warned to stay inside until the big cat was caught.

Believed to weigh about 100 pounds, the tiger was initially spotted Thursday by a local woman. Her husband told reporters that it was a shock. “She was a bit scared,” he said.

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

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