Clogged Toilet At Hair Salon Reveals Grisly Murder Of Man By Friend In France’s Issoire


The man is a schizophrenic who had been hospitalised twice with mental health issues, prosecutors said

Clermont-Ferrand, France: 

A Frenchman who murdered his friend and dumped body parts into a drain said Wednesday he was driven to kill after being refused money for drugs, a prosecutor said.

The grisly crime took place in the central town of Issoire, where a plumber was called out last week to a hair salon after a customer reported that the toilets were blocked.

On opening a trap door leading to a drain the plumber discovered pieces of flesh, which forensic tests showed as coming from the same body.

The investigation soon led to the apartment above the hair salon, where police found blood on the walls and curtains, a circular saw…and a brain and human liver in the freezer.

They identified a man suspected of being the victim and visited his home, where they found bloodstains.

Footage from the town’s CCTV cameras showed the 36-year-old suspect boarding a train on January 10 after throwing three large bags containing bloodied garments into a bin.

An unemployed drug addict with a string of drugs and theft convictions, he was arrested on his return to Issoire a day later.

The public prosecutor for the central Clermont-Ferrand region, Eric Maillaud, said the suspect confessed Wednesday to killing his 45-year-old friend “because he refused to give him a large some of money to buy drugs.”

A schizophrenic who had been hospitalised twice with mental health issues, he had stopped taking his medication, the prosecutor’s office said. He has not yet been named.

The victim, who also an addict and has also not yet been named by the authorities, had recently inherited a large sum of money, investigators said.





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Australian Open 2019: Frances Tiafoe Sends Fifth Seed Kevin Anderson Packing In Round Two


Australian Open 2019: Frances Tiafoe Sends Fifth Seed Kevin Anderson Packing In Round Two

Kevin Anderson was a Wimbledon finalist last year. © AFP


Fifth seed Kevin Anderson was sent packing from the Australian Open in round two Thursday with American Frances Tiafoe prevailing 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5. The South African, a Wimbledon finalist last year, struggled with an elbow injury early in the clash and couldn’t cope with Tiafoe’s power and finesse. World number 39 Tiafoe, who is into the third round at Melbourne Park for the first time, equalling his best ever Grand Slam result, next plays veteran Italian Andreas Seppi.

“It means the world to me,” said the American, who will celebrate his 21st birthday on Sunday and is fresh from playing the mixed teams Hopman Cup in Perth with Serena Williams. “I lost to him three times last year and when I was down a set and a break it looked like it would happen again. I dug deep and went to a different place.

“It’s all about competing, how bad you want it and I want it real bad. I’d love to get to the second week of a Slam for the first time,” he added. Anderson warmed up for the Australian Open by winning his sixth ATP title at Pune earlier this month, defeating Croat veteran Ivo Karlovic in the final.

He had been looking for a deep run at Melbourne Park this year after getting past the opening round for the first time since 2015.


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France’s Yellow Vests Mobilise For Fresh Round Of Protests


Masked demonstrators stand amid smoke of teargas canisters launched by anti-riot police.

Paris, France: 

Thousands of anti-government demonstrators marched in cities across France on Saturday in a new round of “yellow vest” protests against President Emmanuel Macron, accused of ignoring the plight of millions of people struggling to make ends meet.

Officials have vowed zero tolerance for the violence that has marred the weekly protests since they began two months ago, deploying some 80,000 security forces nationwide.

In Paris, epicentre of the fiery street clashes and vandalism that have made global headlines, 5,000 riot police were on hand, using tall barricades and armoured vehicles to lock down the central Place de la Concorde and surrounding districts.

Hundreds of officers were also on guard on the Champs-Elysees, where banks, jewellery stores and other shops had boarded up windows in anticipation of renewed looting and violence.

Yet many cafes and retailers on the iconic avenue remained open for business, as several thousands of protesters marched calmly from the Place de la Bastille toward the Arc de Triomphe early in the afternoon.

Many sang the “Marseillaise” national anthem, while others held signs saying “Insecurity is not a job!”

At times the crowd yelled “Free Christophe!” in reference to Christophe Dettinger, the former professional boxer arrested last week after being filmed bashing two police officers during the Paris demos.

Police said some 30 people had been detained in the capital earlier for carrying weapons or other charges.

“We’ve come to Paris to make ourselves heard, and we wanted to see for ourselves at least once what’s going on here,” said Patrick, 37, who told AFP he had travelled from the Savoie region of western France.

‘Macron resign!’

In the well-heeled racehorsing town of Chantilly just north of Paris, 1,000 or so protesters marched through the centre before descending on the hippodrome where they delayed the start of a race, local media said.

And another 1,200 protesters gathered in the central city of Bourges, where some yellow-vest organisers were hoping to those from areas far from the capital.

Signs said “Macron resign!” and “France is angry,” while local prosecutor Joel Garrigue said five people had been detained after police discovered a cache of ball bearings during a search of their car.

The protests also spilt over the border into eastern Belgium late on Friday, where one of around 25 protesters manning a blockade died after being hit by a truck, Belgian media reported.

Mutual mistrust

Officials had warned of bigger and more violent protests than last week, when demonstrators rammed a forklift truck through the main doors of a government ministry in Paris.

“Those who are calling to demonstrate tomorrow know there will be violence, and therefore they are in part responsible,” Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said in a Facebook interview Friday with Brut, a digital news site favoured by many yellow vests.

But many yellow vests pointed to images of a police officer repeatedly striking an unarmed man on the ground during a protest last week in Toulon, accusing the police of excessive use of force.

The movement, which began as protests over high fuel taxes, has snowballed into a wholesale rejection of Macron and his policies, which are seen favouring the wealthy at the expense of rural and small-town France.

Politicians inspire ‘distrust, disgust’

Macron has called for a national debate starting next week to hear voters’ grievances, hoping to sate demands for more of a say in national law-making and tamp down the protesters’ anger.

He has already unveiled a 10-billion-euro ($11.5 billion) financial relief package for low earners, and axed the planned fuel tax hike.

But the public consultations risk being hobbled by record levels of distrust towards politicians and representatives of the state.

A poll by the Cevipof political sciences institute released Friday showed 77 percent of respondents thought politicians inspired “distrust”, “disgust” or “boredom”.

And Macron may not have done himself any favours on Friday, when he told a gathering at the Elysee Palace that “too many of our citizens think they can get something without making the necessary effort.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





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Clashes, Teargas As France’s Yellow Vest Protesters Return To Streets


The protests have caused the biggest political crisis of Emmanuel Macron’s 20-month presidency. (File)

Paris: 

France’s “yellow vest” protesters were back on the streets again Saturday as a government spokesman denounced those still protesting as hard-liners who wanted only to bring down the government.

Around a thousand protesters gathered on the Champs-Elysees in central Paris, where around 15 police wagons were also deployed, an AFP journalist said.

Some paused outside the headquarters of Agence France-Presse (AFP) in central Paris to hurl anti-media insults.

Police fired tear gas in the capital after protesters threw projectiles at police and AFP journalists saw minor scuffles near the River Seine as up to 4,000 joined the fray in the city by the afternoon, according to police.

Some protesters set bins ablaze and material damage included several burned out motorcycles strewn across streets.

“I am here to defend the right of my children to work that enables them to eat. My daughter earns 800 euros ($911) a month. She works 25 hours a week in a baker’s. For her, it’s about surviving,” said one protester, 58-year-old Ghislaine.

Several other cities across France also saw small marches — including up to 2,000 in Rouen northwest of Paris, where at least two arrests were made and one protester was hurt by a projectile after demonstrators set fire to a barricade.

The scale and intensity of the protests has shrivelled in recent weeks, however, and authorities put Saturday’s nationwide turnout at around 12,000, compared with 282,000 for the initial rally on November 17.

Public anger has on occasion been directed at the media, seen by some as too close to the government. Several journalists have been assaulted since the protests called by the grass-roots movement started in November.

Last Saturday saw scuffles in Paris between some demonstrators denouncing media “collaborators” and police outside the headquarters of broadcasters BFMTV and France Televisions.

Police made four arrests Friday evening in the northeastern city of Nancy after some 50 demonstrators tried to block the entrance of newspaper L’Est Republicain.

On Friday, government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux denounced those still protesting as “agitators who want insurrection and, basically, to overthrow the government”.

The midweek Paris arrest of Eric Drouet, one the movement’s spokesman, sparked anger among his supporters. Drouet already faces trial for carrying a weapon at a previous demonstration.

The latest opinion poll, published on Thursday by Odoxa Dentsu, indicated 55 percent public support for the “yellow vest” protests.

The government has deployed police around France to deal with the protests, backed up by specialist response units, sources told AFP.

The “yellow vest” demonstrations — named after the high-visibility jackets worn by the protesters — began in rural France over increased fuel taxes.

The movement ballooned into a wider revolt against President Emmanuel Macron‘s pro-market policies and governing style.

Macron initially refused to make any concessions, but in mid-December, after weeks of violence, he scrapped the planned fuel tax rises and promised extra cash for minimum wage earners and tax cuts for pensioners.

The protests have caused the biggest political crisis of his 20-month presidency.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





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France’s Yellow Vest Protests Target Borders Ahead Of Christmas


A protester taking part in the Yellow Vest protests dresses up as Santa Claus (AFP)

Paris: 

Three days from Christmas, fewer French “yellow vests” turned out for a sixth Saturday of protests, targeting border points as a fatal road accident brought the death toll to 10 since the movement began last month.

A total of 38,600 people took part in protests across the country, well down from the 66,000 by the same time the previous Saturday, the interior ministry said. There were 220 people detained nationwide, 81 of whom were taken into police custody, it added.

The number of demonstrators has been trending downwards since 282,000 people turned out for the first Saturday protest against planned fuel tax hikes on November 17.

The movement, characterised by the high-visibility yellow vests worn by the protesters, then morphed into a widespread demonstration against Macron’s policies and style of governing.

Health minister Agnes Buzyn told Le Journal du Dimanche (The Sunday Newspaper) Macron’s government was “in step with the demands of the yellow vests” as she called for “a more constructive dialogue”.

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Yellow Vest protests have morphed into a widespread demonstration against Macron’s policies and style of governing

Prime minister Edouard Philippe told the same newspaper his relationship with Macron has only “intensified” during the crisis, rather than become strained, as has been reported.

“We talk a lot. We tell each other things,” he said.

Leader in custody

Yesterday’s numbers were a sharp drop from last week, when Macron, a pro-business centrist, gave in to some of the movement’s demands.

In Paris, the scene of fierce clashes during previous demonstrations, around 2,000 protesters joined rallies scattered around the city compared with 4,000 last week, police said.

As evening fell, violence broke out on the iconic Champs-Elysees avenue, where many shops had remained open for business in the busy weekend before Christmas.

Paris police said 142 people were detained and 19 taken into police custody in the French capital, including a “yellow vest” leader, Eric Drouet.

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The number of protesters across France dropped to 38,600 from 66,000 last Saturday (AFP)

Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux tweeted that behind the violence was “a single face, cowardly, racist, anti-Semitic, putschist”.

He denounced the decapitation of an effigy of Macron, violent attacks on police after an officer’s motorcycle was taken by protesters on the Champs-Elysee, and that outside the Sacre Coeur church some had sung a song by comedian and political activist Dieudonne, who has been convicted for anti-Semitic insults.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner meanwhile said there had been a “real slowdown”, but some people “continue to come and protest, driven by hatred of institutions”.

Journalists attacked

Near the border between France and Spain hundreds of protesters disrupted traffic as they gathered around an autoroute toll booth.

Police fired tear gas to disperse the “yellow vests” who retreated to a bridge, an AFP photographer at the scene said.

France borders the Catalan region of Spain, and the protesters were joined by dozens of Catalan pro-independence activists, also wearing yellow vests.

The separatists often block highways to protest against Madrid’s rejection of Catalonia’s independence referendum in October 2017.

Even though their goals are different, “this demonstration at the Boulou (toll booth) is symbolic, it shows the solidarity between the Spanish Catalans and the French,” said Marcel, a 49-year-old winegrower.

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Yellow Vest protests have frequently targeted media and journalists (AFP)

Two journalists covering the Boulou rally for France 2 television said they were “violently” attacked by the protesters.

Editor Anne Domy told AFP that she and her colleague Audrey Guiraud were “targeted, chased and beaten by a crowd of protesters that completely surrounded us”.

One “yellow vest” protester helped the two journalists escape in a “hail of insults”, she said.

The media and journalists have been frequent targets of the “yellow vest” movement’s ire.

Roadblocks were also reported near the border with Italy and at a bridge in Strasbourg near the German border.

While the demonstrations were mainly calm compared to the Paris riots earlier in the month, there were concerns about their effect on pre-Christmas sales.

Junior economy minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said French stores reported an average drop-off of 25 percent in sales compared with the same period a year earlier.

 Car driver dies at roadblock

A driver died overnight when his car slammed into the back of a truck stopped at a roadblock set up by “yellow vest” protesters at an autoroute entrance in Perpignan on the Mediterranean coast, prosecutor Jean-Jacques Fagni told AFP.

There have now been 10 deaths since the protests began on November 17.

A Facebook event organised by Drouet had listed thousands of people “interested” in joining a demonstration at the Palace of Versailles outside Paris but only around 60 showed up.

Further demonstrations of several hundred “yellow vests” were reported in Bordeaux, Caen, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Rouen Saint-Etienne and Toulouse.

On Friday, the French Senate approved measures to help the working poor and pensioners just hours after they were adopted by the lower house of parliament  which aim to quell “yellow vest” anger and should come into force early in 2019.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





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France’s “Yellow Vest” Protests Inspire Copycats, Spark Fakes Abroad


“Yellow Vest” protest has turned into a grassroot protest against high cost of living and the government

Paris: 

The “yellow vest” revolt in France over the high cost of living has sparked copycat protests abroad — as well a swarm of fake reports.

AFP’s fact-checking service sorts the real from the imagined:

Copycat protests

The month-long French demonstrations, which have led to repeated rioting in Paris, have inspired protesters in a number of mostly European countries.

On December 8, some 400 people were detained in Brussels after protesters wearing high-visibility fluorescent vests briefly clashed with police.

Others reportedly blocked a highway linking Brussels to the town of Rekkem in Flanders, near the French border to protest high taxes.

On the same day in the Netherlands, “yellow vests” turned out in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and the Hague to protest the high cost of living, but they were few in number and the demonstrations were peaceful.

In Hungary, some of those protesting a new law, which increases the amount of overtime employers can require of workers, also dressed up in yellow vests on December 12 outside parliament.

And in Poland, farmers wearing the distinctive jackets on Wednesday blocked a motorway to demand government compensation for a swine flu outbreak.

In Germany, both Alice Weidel, one of the founders of the right-wing Alternative for Germany party, and the radical left-wing Die Linke party have expressed support for the French movement.

And some yellow vests were seen among a 1,000-strong crowd of right-wing demonstrators when the Pegida anti-migrant movement when it held a rally on December 1 in Berlin.

In Belgrade, a handful of opposition members of parliament also donned yellow on December 4 to protest petrol price increases.

In South Africa, where some protesters have been spotted wearing yellow vests during demonstrations against the low quality of public services, the Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) spoke out in favour of the French movement, saying it was a model for future protests.

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The Yellow Vest protests have come to represent a deeply rooted social anger that has more to do with the personality of Emmanuel Macron than it does with any particular policy.

The French movement kicked off on November 17 over higher fuel taxes, but quickly morphed into a nationwide grassroot protest against the high cost of living and the government.

President Emmanuel Macron has since offered tax and wage concessions in a bid to end the protest.

Worried governments

In Egypt, authorities fearing possible protests on the anniversary of the uprising that toppled Egypt’s longtime president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, have sought to restrict the sale of yellow vests.

“We received instructions from the police around a week ago to sell yellow vests to companies only, and not to individuals,” one importer said. 

And a human rights lawyer, Mohamed Ramadan, was remanded in custody earlier this month over charges including the distribution and possession of leaflets and yellow vests.

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin, for his part, defended the jailing of an elderly rights activist over calls to protest, stressing he wanted to prevent events like France’s “yellow vest” revolt.

Fake yellow news

But not every sighting of a high-visibility jacket should be seen as political.

Many social media accounts wrongly reported on Monday that German rail workers, who held a one-day strike for higher pay, wore yellow vests in solidarity with the French. 

The vests are mandatory to ensure they are visible when on the railway tracks.

Other reports were pure fakes.

An internet platform, 24jours.com, published a photograph showing 300 motorcyclists in yellow vests purportedly demonstrating in the capital of the Central African Republic against “the French neo-colonial system” and against the local French-linked currency.

The picture was in fact taken in May when motorcyclists in Bangui attended a first aid training clinic.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





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France’s Orange Partners With Amazon Over Voice Assistant Technology


French telecoms operator Orange is partnering with Amazon to combine their respective voice assistant technology, Chief Executive Officer Stephane Richard said on Wednesday.

The former monopoly, whose own voice assistant is dubbed Djingo, is the second French telecom operator to join forces in the field with Amazon after Iliad, whose new high-end set-top box includes the US tech giant’s voice assistant Alexa.

Under the partnership, requests to buy products online or a service offered by Amazon could be made via Djingo, which was co-developped with Deutsche Telekom.

“We want to go further,” Richard told reporters.

“We’re working with Amazon with the aim to integrate our AI (artificial intelligence), Djingo and Alexa in our respective devices,” he added.

Earlier this week, Austrian retailers filed a complaint against Amazon with their national competition authority over the US  e-commerce giant’s dual role as a retailer and a marketplace.

The European Commission and Germany’s antitrust authority are also looking into Amazon’s role in the market.

The main grounds for the complaint laid out by Austria’s biggest retailers’ association is Amazon’s role as both a retailer in its own right and as a marketplace where other retailers’ products are sold.

In a statement outlining its complaint, the Retail Association said the “main problem” was Amazon’s dual role as retailer and marketplace.

“Amazon can in theory see the prices of the listed retailers (on its platform), undercut their prices and in the long run attract all that business,” it said, adding that 93 percent of all Austrian online shoppers have made at least once purchase on Amazon.



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Woman’s Death Casts Shadow Over France’s ‘Yellow Vest’ Protests


Paris: 

A protester was accidentally killed and more than 220 injured as tens of thousands of people blocked roads across France in a “yellow vest” protest against high fuel prices, which has channelled anger at stagnant spending under President Emmanuel Macron.

Nearly 283,000 people were estimated to have taken part in more than 2,000 protests at roundabouts and on major highways and thoroughfares across the country on Saturday, the Interior Ministry said.

Some 227 people were injured — seven seriously, including a police officer — and 117 detained, with 73 then taken into police custody.

Although most of the blockades were carried out without incident, tempers flared at times as some drivers confronted the protesters or tried to force their way through.

In the eastern Savoie region, a 63-year-old woman was killed when a mother trying to take her daughter to see a doctor panicked after protesters surrounded their car, and suddenly accelerated into the crowd.

The driver, who police said was in a state of shock, was taken in for questioning.

Among those injured were a police officer in the Mediterranean city of Grasse, one in eastern Strasbourg and two in northwestern Quimper.

“This is what we were worried about… unorganised demonstrations by people who aren’t necessarily used to such things,” Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said in a statement.

– ‘Macron resign!’ –

In Paris, several hundred protesters yelling “Macron resign!” and singing La Marseillaise massed on the Champs-Elysees and the Place de la Concorde, hoping to march toward the Elysee Palace, Macron’s official residence.

Riot police blocked their path, but several hundreds managed to get around them using side streets and get close to the Elysee Palace in the afternoon before being driven back by tear gas. They later mostly dispersed without incident.

Officials had warned that police would intervene to ensure no roads were completely blocked.

Some demonstrators announced they intended to camp out overnight and might continue the protest into Sunday.

The “yellow vests” movement, named for the high-visibility jackets worn by supporters, erupted on social media last month with calls for blockades of roads and highways.

The protesters say they are being squeezed by years of fuel tax increases that have driven prices to levels not seen since the early 2000s.

But analysts say the movement now represents more widespread frustration against Macron, a former investment banker who has pushed through a series of reforms aimed at bolstering economic growth.

“We’re showing that the French do not support their government’s policies,” said Franck Deroo, a 47-year-old electrician at a blockade on a highway near the Belgian border in Neuville-en-Ferrain, northern France.

The popularity of French President Emmanuel Macron has dropped to just 25 percent, according to a poll by research group Ifop published on Sunday in the Journal du Dimanche.

– ‘President of the rich’ –

The movement enjoys much more public support than others against Macron since he swept to the presidency last year.

An Elabe poll last week found that 73 percent of respondents backed the movement.

Protesters say he is neglecting the lower and middle classes, pointing to tax cuts for high earners and companies.

“Macron is the president of the rich and not the poor. He needs to think about the poor as well,” said Andre, a 38-year-old who joined a blockade in Dole, eastern France.

The government last week announced a series of measures to try to quell the anger over fuel prices, including energy subsidies and higher bonuses towards cleaner vehicles.

In a TV interview this week, Macron admitted he had “not succeeded in reconciling the French with their leaders” and that “we have probably not given them enough consideration”.

But he said he would not rescind increases on fuel tax — set to rise again in January.

Ecology minister Francois de Rugy confirmed the government’s commitment to the policy Sunday, telling Le Parisien that France needed to get itself out of the “trap” of fossil fuel reliance.

“We want to work, but not for nothing,” said Joffrey Gouillet, 27, a protester in Pont-de-Beauvoisin.

“The goal isn’t to create havoc but to get our rights back. You can’t make it to the end of the month even with two salaries.”

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)





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Fantastic Beasts On The Streets Of France’s Toulouse


Minotaur is a mythical monster from Greek mythology that is half bull and half man.

New Delhi: 

A 43-foot gigantic spider visited a city in France recently, along with a 46-foot-tall creature with the head of a bull and the body of a man.

The scene might seem straight out of a movie, but this was real life for the residents of Toulouse in France earlier this month.

According to media reports, Toulouse witnessed an immersive form of street theater, bringing to life creatures like the giant spider and the Minotaur, the mythical monster from Greek mythology that is half bull and half man and said to have lived in the center of a maze on the island of Crete.

According to Toulouse’s tourist office website, a show called “The Guardian of the Temple” ran for four days starting November 1 as an introduction to the installation of the cultural and touristic equipment of La Machine. La Machine is a theater company that works with technicians and designers to fabricate mechanical creatures on a vast scale and creates public spectacles around them.

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Both the robotic creatures showcased were the conception of Francois Delaroziere, the artistic director and leading creative force behind La Machine, reported New York Times.

According to another report, the performance aimed to unite the town in an immersive experience and marked the opening of a new exposition centre “Halle de la Machine” which will house the minotaur, the spider and other robot-like creations.

 

The show’s website says it aimed to reinterpret the myths of Ariane and the Minotaur. Ariane, in Greek mythology, was a Cretan princess. She is mostly associated with mazes and labyrinths because of her involvement in the myths of the Minotaur and Theseus.

The New York Times said the Minotaur was made of unpainted lime tree wood and metal. It was constructed to seem as real as possible and even made the sound of breathing as it moved. Apparently “asleep,” he was pulled alon





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Wasn’t In Power When Rafale Deal Signed, Says France’s Macron At UN


Rafale deal: France had earlier in a statement said it was not involved in picking the Indian partner.

NEW YORK: 

French President Emmanuel Macron today avoided giving a direct answer on the raging Rafale deal controversy, and said he was not in charge when the multi-million dollar deal for 36 aircraft was signed between India and France.

While interacting with the press on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, Mr Macron was asked by NDTV whether the government of India had proposed to the French government or Rafale’s manufacturer Dassault to pick Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as the India partner, as claimed by former French president Francois Hollande.

Mr Macron, in his response, did not deny the charges directly. “I was not in charge at that time but I know that we have very clear rules and this is a government-to-government discussion and this contract is part of a broader framework which is a military and defense coalition between India and France.”

“I just want to refer to what Prime Minister Modi said a few days ago,” he added, without elaborating further.

Mr Macron was elected the president of France in May last year. The Rafale jet deal was announced by PM Narendra Modi in 2016 when Francois Hollande was the French president.

Mr Hollande had dropped a bombshell last week by saying France had been given no choice on picking Anil Ambani’s company as Dassault’s offset partner in 2016. He made the comment while denying in an interview any conflict of interest with Reliance, which partly financed a film produced by his partner, Julie Gayet, in 2016.

Both the French government and Dassault have denied the allegations.

However, Mr Hollande’s statement has provided much fodder to the opposition parties in India, with the Congress accusing the government of choosing Reliance Defence over state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd to benefit the private firm though it did not have any experience in the aerospace sector.

The Anil Ambani-led group is manufacturing aerospace components as part of the offset component of the Rafale deal. The clause requires Rafale manufacturer Dassault to ensure that business worth around Rs 30,000 crores is generated for the Indian defence system. Reliance Defence is not making components for the Rafales ordered by India but is building assemblies for Dassault business jets.
 





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