France’s Highest Legal Body Upholds Ban On Fracking

Members of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army, which Uganda accuses Khartoum of backing, have set up in the country. CAR is geographically at the center of what some strategists have called an “arc of insecurity” involving Islamic militants and stretching from Kenya and Somalia in eastern Africa to Mauritania in the west. The power vacuum in CAR is paving the way for al Qaeda-linked Islamists ousted from Mali, while lawlessness in north Cameroon is opening a route to CAR for Nigeria’s Boko Haram. “We are seeing the start of an internal sectarian poison that we never had in the past coupled with an international aspect that we hadn’t seen either,” said the source. POOR RELATIONSHIP Unlike some of its other colonies in Africa, France has had a poor relationship with CAR since independence in 1960, and has been reluctant to get directly involved in the crisis, urging African nations to do their utmost to resolve it. The African Union has responded by deploying about 2,500 troops as part of its 3,600-strong MISCA mission, made up of forces from Chad, Gabon, Congo Republic and Cameroon. But its material, logistic and financial resources are limited, prompting Paris to seek a U.N. Security Council mandate that would address that and turn MISCA into a U.N. peacekeeping force ultimately supported by French troops. “It’s not obvious, because CAR doesn’t interest anybody. People hardly know where it is, and if we don’t do it then nobody will,” said another French diplomat.

France convicts Roma families of forcing children to rob

The attraction, besides an elegant but simple menu that last weekend featured a 20-euro ($27) menu that included freshly squeezed orange juice and eggs scrambled with chanterelle mushrooms, are the furry denizens (10 females, two males) that lie on laps, perch on cat condos and strike stately poses in the front window, which reflected nose and fingerprints from those eager to get a glimpse of an assortment of tabbies, gingers, solid black and sort-of Siamese-looking restaurant residents. Also 16 Rue Michel le Comte, 75003 Paris, France Owner Margaux Gandelon took her cue from the immensely popular cat cafes in Japan, which number about 150, according to a BBC travel report last year. The French love their pets; there are 11.5-million cat owners in France, according to a Canadian pet food report of 2011 . (The U.S. has about eight times that many cat pets but almost 250 million more human residents.) This cafe seats 35 to 40, said Gandelon, a self-acknowledged animal lover (but who is currently without a cat at home). She worked with animal welfare and the health department to ensure proper standards for the cats and the customers. Now shes running this darling of the cafe set with help from mom Anne-Sophie and sister Chloe Lou, plus the crew necessary for a restaurant whose main appeal, oddly in foodie France, may not be whats served at the table but whats sitting under it. And near it. And above it. On Saturday, the cats seemed to be taking it all in stride (all are rescues who were chosen for their mellow personalities, Gandelon said). One white-and-orange cat found a spot on an unoccupied chair at a couples table; another was conked out on a patrons lap. A sleek black cat viewed the passing scene from atop a carpeted perch, raising its head to get the occasional pat from a patron, most of whom are female. No real problems so far with bad chemistry between customers and cats, although among children, boys seem to play a little more aggressively (sometimes too much so), she said.

France: New cat cafe is the pet of Paris

The Netherlands: Comfort and joy at Apenheul primate park

US firm Schuepbach Energy challenged the ban after its exploration permits were cancelled. News Wires (text) Frances constitutional council rejected on Friday a challenge to a law banning hydraulic fracturing for exploration and production of the countrys shale gas and oil. The ruling is a boost for President Francois Hollande, who has opposed the technology alongside ecologist Greens in his ruling coalition – to the dismay of some allies who believe France is sacrificing access to a cheap source of energy. U.S-based firm Schuepbach Energy had challenged on four counts a ban introduced in 2011 due to potential risks to the environment, which led to two of its exploration permits being cancelled in southern France. The constitutional council threw out these four complaints and ruled that the disputed components of the July 13, 2011 law comply with the constitution, the court said in a statement. The Constitutional Council, made up of judges and former French presidents, has the power to annul laws if they are deemed to be unconstitutional. The International Energy Agency has named France as a European country with some of the most plentiful underground reserves of shale gas. However fracking was banned in France under former President Nicolas Sarkozy on concerns it could pollute groundwater and trigger earthquakes, bringing to a halt the nascent shale oil and gas industry in France. After France put the ban in place, Schuepbach Energy said it had no alternative way to carry out the exploration, which led to the suspension of its two permits in the south of France. French oil major Total is still awaiting a ruling after it separately appealed at the end of 2011 the governments decision to ban its own exploration permit by the southeastern town of Montelimar. Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg stirred debate earlier this year when he suggested creating a state-backed company to examine alternative exploration techniques. (REUTERS)

The court in the eastern city of Nancy convicted all but one of the 27 accused, sentencing them to between two and eight years in prison. Police had testified during the trial that the gang traded in women and used children like conscripts in a criminal army. Judges did not however follow prosecutors’ recommendations for some of the accused to face the maximum sentence of 10 years. The court also dismissed charges of human trafficking against all but one of the accused, despite testimony that brides were being bought then renounced when they did not bring in enough money to the gang. “The judges dismissed the shameful charges of human trafficking and we welcome this decision to prevent stigmatisation,” said one of the defendants’ lawyers, Alain Behr. The defence had contested the people trafficking charges, saying the financial transactions were part of traditional dowry arrangements. The case was heard against the tense background of a debate in France over the treatment of Roma migrants from eastern Europe. Police had testified at the trial that the group was behind more than 100 robberies carried out in 2011 alone in France and neighbouring parts of Belgium and Germany. Most of the thefts were carried out by children as young as 10. The evidence against the families was based on the tapped phone calls of 120 suspects which police said had revealed a Mafia-style structure in which clan chiefs were supported by a network of subordinate captains and lieutenants, who in turn ran the children at the bottom of the pyramid. The suspected head of the operation — a 66-year-old woman — is to be tried separately. Defence lawyers had questioned whether their clients could expect a fair trial in light of the atmosphere of hostility towards Roma amid ongoing controversy over a claim by Interior Minister Manuel Valls that most of them will never assimilate into French society and should be deported. Society & Culture Rarely has a political party lost so much so rapidly from a series of strategic blunders. Yahoo News BISMARCK, N.D.