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Macron’s new year’s speech: ‘France can’t succeed without a strong Europe’

French president promises to listen to dissenting voices but appeals to Europeans not to give in to ‘nationalists and sceptics’

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Macron’s new year’s speech: ‘France can’t succeed without a strong Europe'” was written by Angelique Chrisafis in Paris, for theguardian.com on Sunday 31st December 2017 21.57 UTC

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, appealed to European citizens “not to give in to nationalists and sceptics”, as he used his new year’s speech to promise to make the European Union “more united, more sovereign and more democratic”.

Macron said in a televised address: “I deeply believe Europe can become that economic, social, environmentally-friendly, scientific power that will be able to face China and the United States.” He added: “Europe is good for France. France can’t succeed without a strong Europe.”

The centrist, pro-business president, 40, is seeking to boost his standing on the world stage while at the same time pushing through a series of new laws in France in the coming year, including a controversial drive to harden immigration policy and increase expulsions of economic migrants. The plans have already drawn criticism from charities and even from some inside his own political movement.

In Macron’s first televised new year’s address since he was victorious against Marine Le Pen in May, he carefully promised to listen to dissenting voices, saying he would ensure France “showed solidarity at home and humanism internationally”.

His long televised speech was delivered as a kind of pep-talk to France, borrowing a line from John F Kennedy as he urged the public: “Ask yourself every day what you can do for your country … I need that engagement.”

Macron said France was “capable of the exceptional” and insisted the country would succeed in what he called its “universal mission” to “win peace” abroad. He said his priority was fighting Islamic terrorism abroad and at home. He has maintained France’s military involvement in the battle against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, and more than 4,000 troops fighting extremism in Africa’s Sahel region. More recently, he offered to be a mediator in the Lebanon and Gulf crisis.

However, his speech came against the backdrop of a planned clampdown on illegal migrantion in France. Macron pointed to a France with problems such as discrimination on housing estates and warned against a country that was “too long divided”, urging for more harmony. He promised a large-scale social project for 2018, without giving details.

A row broke out in December over Macron’s planned new hardline immigration law, and charities and local government representatives have now been invited to consult with prime minister Edouard Philippe on the issue in January. The planned new law aims to speed up the process for asylum requests, but also to expel migrants without the possibility of claiming asylum. It would also double to 90 days the time a person without papers can be kept in a holding centre.

A set of new interior ministry orders in December sparked criticism after regional authorities were instructed to set up “mobile teams” to run checks in emergency housing to ascertain the status of migrants.

Macron said in his new year’s speech that giving asylum was a “moral duty”, and those who needed asylum would be welcomed. But he added: “We can’t welcome everyone, and we can’t act without rules. We have to check everyone’s identity.” He said he would hold a line of “humanity and efficiency”.

Macron, a former investment banker who has found it hard to shake the tag of “president of the rich”, saw a significant rise in popularity ratings in December. It is a turnaround rarely seen in recent years among French presidents. His approval ratings remain highest among older voters and high-earners, but he saw a recent rise in approval among younger voters.

Macron used his first eight months in office to push through changes to French labour laws, loosening worker protections and making it easier for companies to hire and fire. He also made sweeping changes to France’s tax system, notably reducing the scope of the wealth tax for the richest by limiting it to property assets, and imposing a flat 30% levy on capital income. He called this a “profound transformation of France” in his new year’s address – and said he would go further.

His plans for 2018 are complex, and include overhauling the unemployment benefits system and launching a constitutional reform of parliament.

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Prezzo in Salisbury cordoned off by police after man and woman fall ill

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Police have sealed off a restaurant in Salisbury and the surrounding area after two people were taken ill.


The ambulance service called officers to Prezzo, in High Street, at 18:45 BST following “a medical incident” involving a man and a woman.


A Wiltshire Police statement said it had cordoned off the area as a precaution while it established “what has led them to fall ill”.
A witness reported seeing a person in a a hazardous material suit attend.

(BBC)

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California to launch its ‘own damn satellite’

California is set to launch a satellite to track greenhouse gases, as former US Secretary of State John Kerry and island nation leaders warned that the world is far off course to avoid the worst effects of rising temperatures.

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “California to launch its ‘own damn satellite’ to track greenhouse gases” was written by Emily Holden and Oliver Milman in San Francisco, for theguardian.com on Friday 14th September 2018 20.49 UTC

California is set to launch a satellite to track greenhouse gases, as former US Secretary of State John Kerry and island nation leaders warned that the world is far off course to avoid the worst effects of rising temperatures.

Gov. Jerry Brown announced plans for the satellite on the last day of a climate change summit hosted by San Francisco, in a final rebuke to President Donald Trump’s denial of man-made warming.

“With science still under attack,” Brown said “we’re going to launch our own satellite, our own damn satellite, to figure out where the pollution is.” Brown said the satellite will help pinpoint the source of planet-warming emissions.

California will team up with Planet Labs, a company run by ex-Nasa scientists. The data collected, including on carbon dioxide emissions and methane leaks from oil and gas operations, could be made public as part of a partnership with the advocacy group Environmental Defense Fund. The new project comes as Trump has proposed slashing Nasa climate research mission budgets. It is one of dozens of commitments of mixed significance unveiled by states, cities and businesses at the event.

Despite the optimism on show at the summit, Kerry said climate efforts must ramp up.

“I am going to tell the truth, and the truth is we are not anywhere near where we need to be with respect to the overall challenge of climate change,” said Kerry, who worked to secure the 2015 global Paris climate agreement under former president Barack Obama.

Kerry blasted Donald Trump for deciding to leave that deal, calling it “one of the single greatest acts of irresponsibility by a president of the United States anywhere at any time.”

Leaders of the countries already suffering most from sea-level rise and ocean acidification echoed Kerry’s concerns, saying that international action is slowing.

“The world has lost, all of us have lost, momentum since Paris in 2015. Although the rate of increase has slowed, we’ve not yet peaked our global emissions. But we must do so by 2020. We really cannot afford to wait any longer,” said Mia Mottley, prime minister of the Caribbean island nation of Barbados.

Mottley’s country is in the direct path of hurricanes that are growing in strength and may narrowly avoid a more direct hit from tropical storm Isaac this week.

The world is set to watch temperatures rise 3C above pre-industrial levels by the time a child born today is old, Mottley said, even if countries adhere to the goals they said.

Frank Bainimarama, prime minister of Fiji, said countries need to speed their work.

“We all know that the levels of ambition in our national plans need to be ramped up because we are not on track to meet the targets of the Paris agreement,” Bainimarama said.

Former US vice-president Al Gore struck a more positive tone.

“We must do it. We can do it. I’m convinced ever more because of the success of this summit here in San Francisco that we will do it,” he said, reminding that the US has not technically left the Paris deal yet and that a new president could re-enter.

The warnings were at odds with the overall atmosphere of the summit.

On the eve of the gathering, California governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that would make the state’s electricity supply carbon-free by 2045. A separate executive order by Brown is more sweeping, committing to net zero emissions across the entire California economy, also by 2045.

Other cities and regions from around the world have followed this with various pledges, with New York City promising $4bn to renewable energy and clean water and cities including Los Angeles, Tokyo, Honolulu, Oslo and Greater Manchester pledging to build energy efficient buildings or deploy fleets of electric buses.

A group of 29 philanthropists committed $4bn over five years to combat climate change, the largest such investment of its kind, while companies such as Ikea, Walmart and Unilever promised to reduce emissions through measures such as electrified trucks for deliveries and action to prevent deforestation in the tropics.

Jonathan Pershing, the State Department’s climate negotiator under Obama, said the summit brings hope to the climate cause.

“The story here is optimistic. The question here is does the optimism translate, and can this message get out globally,” Pershing said. “There is a good broad cross-section of people from around the world, but it’s just a few thousand people, and it’s a problem that’s going to require engagement by millions.”

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Christine Blasey accuses Kavanaugh of assault in letter to senator

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Update:Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who wrote the letter accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, is going public with her story, saying she thought he might kill her. More to come.

‘I thought he might inadvertently kill me,’ said Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California, to The Washington Post. ‘He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.’

A woman is accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of assaulting her when they were in high school in the early 1980s, according to a source familiar with the allegations, which were relayed in a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein earlier this summer.

CNN reports the letter details an incident when the woman, who has not come forward publicly, attended a party with Kavanaugh and others in a suburban Maryland home. Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has referred the letter to the FBI.

Kavanaugh physically pushed her into a bedroom, the accuser said. Along with another male, Kavanaugh locked the door from the inside and played loud music that the accuser said precluded successful attempts to yell for help.

Both men were drunk, she said, and Kavanaugh attempted to remove her clothes.

At one point, Kavanaugh was on top of her laughing as the other male in the room periodically jumped onto Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh held his hand over her mouth at one point, and she said she felt her life was inadvertently in danger.

She said she was able to leave the room and go into a hallway bathroom. After Kavanaugh and the other male began talking to others in the house, she went home.

There is no indication the woman reported the incident to law enforcement at the time, but she said she has received medical treatment regarding the alleged assault. The woman also declined to come forward publicly after sending the letter to Feinstein. The accuser’s name was redacted before Feinstein forwarded it to the FBI.

In a statement Friday, Kavanaugh denied the allegation.

“I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time,” he said.

Kavanaugh testified for three days before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, where the issue was not raised. The Judiciary panel is scheduled to consider Kavanaugh’s nomination next Thursday, and the full Senate may vote on confirmation later this month.

The New Yorker first reported the details of the letter to Feinstein. The woman declined a request from the magazine for comment.

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has said that she possesses a sensitive document about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and is referring the matter to the Justice Department.

In a statement she said:

“I have received information from an individual concerning the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court,” Feinstein said in a statement. “That individual strongly requested confidentiality, declined to come forward or press the matter further, and I have honored that decision. I have, however, referred the matter to federal investigative authorities.”

The document in question is believed to be a letter detailing an interaction between an unnamed woman and Kavanaugh dating back to their time together in high school. 

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