Transportation in France has been crippled by thousands of striking workers this week, with aviation strikes leading to the cancelation of flights, and rail workers strikes leaving swarms of travelers stranded in stations. The widespread strikes mean that some 70 percent of train services will have been canceled by Friday. Parisian commuter trains are almost at a standstill, with only around a third of trains running in the capital. Rail workers are protesting over the reorganization of national train and rail companies. President Francois Hollande recently announced plans to merge national train operator SNCF with RFF (rail network Réseau Ferré de France). Their nationwide strike action, which officially began on Wednesday night, also paralyzed international travel. Only half of the departures to Switzerland have been running and a third of the scheduled trains to Italy have left the country’s borders. “I’ve been making this trip for a year, early in the morning and late at night, and I’m sick of it. Delays, breakdowns, strikes — there’s always something,” a 19-year-old French girl told AFP. Rail unions fear the merger will spark job losses: around 10,000 jobs have already been slashed in the last five years, according to unions. The rate of participation in the strike of 150,000 workers across SNCF was 33.2 percent for all employees, 68.6 percent for train drivers and 70.4 percent for controllers, according to AFP. Strikes will draw to a close early on Friday morning. The mass action shortly follows two days of strikes by air traffic controllers, canceling 75 percent of French flights across Tuesday and Wednesday. Tourists trying to leave the capital’s airports by train or travelling by rail to catch the soonest possible flights from Paris on the first day of air travel are now running into further strike action. Controllers protested plans to reform European air space, through a scheme intended boost air-traffic capacity. Three-quarters of flights from the main Parisian hubs – Orly and Charles de Gaulle airports, were canceled. The DGAC (General Direction of Civil Aviation) stated that it was “exceptional strike action followed by almost 100 percent of air traffic controllers.” Strikers intended for the act of resistance to run into Thursday, but quelled their calls for mass action after Paris officially asked Brussels to review its policy plans to merge EU airspace. Workers fear that the plans are part of moves to privatize at least part of the air transportation sector and will lead to layoffs. …
http://www.youtube.com/v/TyIixN7SKR0?version=3&f=videos&app=youtube_gdata See original: ‘Eurozone Crisis Over’? Millions of unemployed decry Hollande’s remark
Diplomats fail once again to ease suffering in Syria 05/06/2013 18:29 CET
France says sarin gas used in Syria 05/06/2013 02:15 CET
Rebels routed as Syrian army retake Qusair 05/06/2013 16:44 CET
Westerners ‘killed in government ambush’ in Syria 31/05/2013 06:36 CET
Chemical weapons in Syria – is there proof? 28/05/2013 06:26 CET
French President Francois Hollande says increasing proof of the use of chemical weapons in Syria means the international community is obliged to act.
Both France and the UK say they have confirmed the use of the nerve agent, Sarin. But Hollande says any decision must be made within the framework of international law.
“We have elements of proof and we urge the international community to act,” Hollande told reporters. “The Geneva conference is in the pipeline and what has happened in Syria should be one more element to add to the pressure that should be brought to bear on the Syrian regime, and its allies.”
France’s foreign minister said yesterday that samples taken from alleged chemical weapons attacks in Syria had tested positive for the nerve agent, sarin.
But experts like Hamish de Bretton-Gordon are concerned the tests have not been independently verified.
“I am sure the French laboratories and the British laboratories are very, very good but they are hardly independent, which is why everyone is saying, quite rightly in my opinion, that it is the UN who has to get in and do it.”
UN teams, though, are hampered by access problems.
The Syrian government has continually denied using them and in turn has accused the opposition of doing so, an accusation which has also been repeatedly dismissed.
Copyright © 2013 euronews
Central Paris has witnessed violence on its streets over the weekend, a mass rally in protest at laws allowing same-sex marriage turned into clashes.Police cracked down on far-right activists who had joined the demonstration, arresting 350 people for refusing to disperse or occupying private property. Bruno Vercken, regional coordinator of the anti-gay marriage movement that took part in protests on Sunday, says that so many Frenchmen are speaking out against the same-sex marriage and adoption law because it violates the rights of the children.RT: Did the police go too far in the way they dealt with your protest?Bruno Vercken: Yes, indeed. If you look at the numbers since last November several millions of people have gone into street to protest and you won’t be able to provide any picture nor any film of any broken glass, any burned car, and any violence during the protests themselves. At the same time, many people have been arrested. Several hundred people have been arrested by the police just because they were wearing suits with this logo there [shows the logo of the Anti-Gay Marriage Movement]. No longer than last Saturday, people were arrested in Paris because there were two of them walking together. And, at the same time, many people and no later than two weeks ago when Paris Saint-Germain celebrated this title in the soccer league in France, many people ruined some shops and they were not arrested. RT: What are the reasons for the police behaving in this manner towards the same-sex marriage protestors?BV: The government is extremely surprised and annoyed by the breadth and the length, the duration of the movement. Francois Hollande had not anticipated that allowing same-sex marriage and adoption would create such a concern about so many people in France. He did this promise to satisfy a small lobby, particularly active lobby, who financed his presidential campaign. He didn’t anticipate that same-sex marriage was meaning in France adoption and plenary adoption – which immediately triggers the risk of losing the biological link between the kid and his parents. And in France this is very unique. And people are protesting against that to defend the right of children. RT: Was this all about your objection to gay-marriage, or was it hijacked by groups with other agendas?BV: Really not, I’m personally a member of a political party in France, and the takeover of this movement by any political party is clearly not at stake. Many of these people are, by the way, from left or from right so it transcends the classical left-right boundaries. RT: France is now the ninth European country to legalise gay marriage. Why can’t you move with the times? BV: You could put nine ladies together you wouldn’t be able to create a baby even in one month. And I think people protest here because they… It’s not a matter of being modern, going along with times. It’s really against, at one point in time, to say: Who’s at stake there? Have we thought, have we considered the right of the weakest person there – who’s the kid? And, you know, when a kid has lost his parents, probably, his dearest wish is to be adopted by a man and a woman. You, me are the sons of a man and a woman and in this law there’s a deep lie – imbedded in the law – is to make people believe in the future that they can be born from two men or two women. And this is extremely dangerous and, by the way, we’ll open soon the rights to medically adopted procreation and surrogate mothers, which people in France are extremely worried about and are extremely against. …
A uniformed French soldier on an antiterrorism patrol west of Paris, France was wounded in the neck as he was stabbed with a box cutter by an assailant. …
Addressing the euro skepticism growing throughout the UK, British Prime Minister says he intends to let British citizens decide if they want to be members of the EU in a vote in 2017. French President Francois Hollande, criticizing Britain’s antipathy, reminded the UK that France, Germany and other nations made up the European Economic Community (EEC) long before Britain signed on fully in January 1973. “Europe existed before Britain joined it,” Hollande said during a nearly three-hour press conference Thursday. MacShane stressed that the current EU is worse than a “playground” with the way nations continue to blame each other for the coalition’s troubles. No member state has ever left the EU, although the British did hold a referendum on whether to continue their membership in 1975, two years after the country’s initial entry into the collective. Imminent structural change to the EU, spearheaded by France’s Hollande, has reignited British debate over the country’s place in the bloc. RT: The French President had harsh words for Britain… deserved, do you think?Denis MacShane: I think you’d find a lot of British politicians who’d agree with him, that Britain would be better off outside of the European Union. And almost every day you see papers writing here or go and listen to debates in the House of Commons where people are lecturing the French and everybody else in Europe on what to do. Sadly, the EU at the moment is a giant blame game, finger pointing – ‘it’s you’, it’s not me, I’m the ‘good boy, I’m going to get better!’ Brits blame the French, the French blame the Germans, the Germans blame the Spanish. Frankly, playgrounds have got more adults these days then the top leadership of Europe. RT: In the past you’ve called for Britain to join the Eurozone – what’s your position on that now?DM: We should be fully integrated. We have a heavily devalued pound and yet the balance of trade, what we export, is getting worse and worse. Either we should be properly in, or perhaps, I’m coming to the conclusion and many people are in this country, thanks to the kind of political leadership we’ve had in the recent years, it’s likely we may decide to leave. And then Europe will be split asunder and every European country, not just Britain will be much weaker as a result. RT: You’ve been an outspoken Europe-supporter for years, are you actually supporting exit now?DM: Not at all. I think Britain should be a player, we can be a player. A lot of the points put forward by Mr. Cameron and other British political leaders have a lot of good sense in them, but I also think that points put forward by Mrs. Merkel and François Hollande have sense – that Britain can’t ‘cherry pick,’ Britain can’t come in and say we take this little bit of Europe not all the rest. We are moving after the catastrophe of the banking crisis where the banks were run by all these people who destroyed the economy in 2008 and we are still living with the disasters of their incompetence. I think we should have more banking supervision, what is called a banking union. I think Britain should be part of that.RT: In the past, you’ve said the Euro would not lead to a European super-state – but doesn’t the European Central Bank now having oversight over Eurozone banks contradict this?DM: No, what I’m saying is that we need a much tougher regulatory systems for banks. We’ve got them in place for trade. We had them in place 60 years ago for the coal and steel industries of Europe. Britain said no to that. It made no difference; it wasn’t the arrival of a super state. What Europe needs, what we all need around the world is to do away with tax havens, tax dodging, to do away with people parking their money in London, Switzerland, Luxemburg or whatever to dodge taxes – we need to have much tougher supervision. More broadly speaking, my country, Britain has been going through 20 years of non-stop campaigning. We have just seen the death of Mrs. Thatcher, she contributed to this, and Mr. Cameron and all of the political leadership at the moment on the conservative side are the children of Mrs. Thatcher. And they’ve been telling us for years that Europe is a terrible thing with awful people and we have to do as little with it as possible. Now, I think the British people are believing it and saying, ‘ok, give us a vote, maybe we’ll leave the EU’. And France, Germany, Poland and France are saying ‘ok, we’d rather you stay, but if you really want to go – bye-bye!’ …
Russia is reported to have sent advanced anti-ship missiles to Syria, despite pleas from Washington and elsewhere to stop supplying President al-Assad’s forces. Officials in the US are quoted as saying the latest Yakhont surface-to-air missiles were delivered recently. Some…