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  1. DETROIT/PARIS (Reuters) - French automaker Renault SA, its Japanese partner Nissan Motor Co and tech giant Alphabet Inc’s Waymo are exploring a partnership to develop and use self-driving vehicles to transport people and goods in France and Japan, the companies said on Thursday. The proposed venture could also be expanded to other markets, the companies said. If the partnership is realized, it will have ramifications for other alliances and other self-driving projects, most of which have yet to hit the road. Automakers across the world are re-thinking independent autonomous vehicle efforts, and instead looking for partners to share rising investment costs and regulatory risks. In Japan, a potential competitor to a Renault-Nissan-Waymo venture would be Monet Technologies, a self-driving project involving Toyota Motor Corp and Honda Motor Co and backed by SoftBank Group Corp. SoftBank and Honda also have invested in General Motors Co’s Cruise self-driving car unit. The initial agreement among Waymo, Renault and Nissan aims to “develop a framework for deployment of mobility services at scale,” according to Hadi Zablit, Renault-Nissan Alliance business development chief. Physical testing of vehicles and deployment of services would come in later phases. The two automakers will set up 50-50 joint ventures in France and Japan to develop the driverless transportation services. Zablit said a later Waymo investment is “one of the options” under consideration. With Waymo, they will also research commercial, legal and regulatory issues related to building automated transportation-as-a-service businesses in the two countries. The agreement is time-limited and exclusive in both countries, barring either side from working with competitors. Its duration was not disclosed. It is not clear how involving Waymo might affect the existing alliance between Renault and Nissan, which has been strained since the departure earlier this year of longtime chief executive Carlos Ghosn, or a proposed merger between Renault and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. FCA and Renault reached a preliminary agreement in late May to pursue a $35 billion merger. But FCA Chairman John Elkann abruptly withdrew the offer on June 6 after the French government, Renault’s biggest shareholder, blocked a board vote and demanded more time to win backing from Nissan. Waymo late last year began offering a self-driving service in Arizona called Waymo One, but with a human monitor on board. Waymo also has an existing partnership with FCA under which the automaker is supplying Chrysler Pacifica minivans for Waymo’s fledgling self-driving fleet in the United States and eventually may buy self-driving systems from Waymo for its own vehicles. FCA also agreed in early June to partner with Aurora, the Silicon Valley startup co-founded by former Waymo chief Chris Urmson and funded in part by South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Co. The alliance took an earlier step towards working with Alphabet last year, when it agreed to adopt the Google Android operating system in its future vehicles. Source
  2. PARIS (Reuters) - Paris police fired water cannon and tear gas to push back “yellow vest” demonstrators from around the Arc de Triomphe monument on Saturday, in the ninth straight weekend of protests against French President Emmanuel Macron’s economic reforms. Thousands of protesters in Paris marched noisily but mostly peacefully through the Grands Boulevards shopping area in northern Paris, close to where a massive gas explosion in a bakery killed two firefighters and a Spanish tourist and injured nearly 50 people early on Saturday. But small groups of demonstrators broke away from the designated route and threw bottles and other projectiles at the police. Around the 19th-century Arc de Triomphe at the top of the Champs Elysees boulevard, riot police fired water cannon and tear gas at militant yellow-vest protesters after being pelted with stones and paint, witnesses said. Groups of protesters also gathered on and around the Champs Elysees, the scene of disturbances in recent weeks, many of them calling loudly for Macron to resign. “Macron, we are going to tear down your place!” one banner read. The Interior Ministry said it estimated that there were 32,000 demonstrators nationwide on Saturday, including 8,000 in Paris, below the 50,000 counted last week and well below the record 282,000 nationwide on Nov. 17, the first day of yellow vest protests. But the number of demonstrators in Paris was well above the past two weekends, when authorities counted just 3,500 people on Jan. 5 and only 800 on Dec. 29. Much of central Paris was in lockdown on the first week of post-Christmas sales with bridges across the Seine river closed and official buildings such as parliament and the Elysee presidential palace protected by police barriers. In Paris, 121 “gilets jaunes” (yellow vest) were arrested, some for carrying objects that could be used as weapons, police said. By nightfall, there had been no looting or burning of cars as seen in previous weeks. There were also thousands of marchers in the cities of Bordeaux and Toulon in southern France as well as Strasbourg in the east and the central city of Bourges. Bourges authorities said nearly 5,000 yellow vests stuck to the designated demonstration area. The historical city center was off-limits for demonstrators, but some 500 protesters made their way to the center where they scuffled with police and set garbage bins on fire. Many businesses in Bourges had boarded themselves up to avoid damage and authorities had removed street furniture and building site materials that could be used for barricades. In Strasbourg, up to 2,000 demonstrators gathered in front of the European Parliament building and later marched to the center of the city on the Rhine river border with Germany. No serious violence or looting was reported there. More than 80,000 police were on duty for the protests nationwide, including 5,000 in Paris. The “yellow vests” take their name from the high-visibility jackets they wear. Their rage stems from a squeeze on household incomes and a belief that Macron, a former investment banker seen as close to big business, is indifferent to their hardships. Macron, often criticized for a monarchical manner, is to launch a national debate on Jan. 15 to try to mollify the yellow vest protest, which has shaken his administration. The debate, to be held on the internet and in town halls, will focus on four themes - taxes, green energy, institutional reform and citizenship. But aides to Macron have said changing the course of Macron’s reforms aimed at liberalizing the economy will be off limits. Source
  3. France’s major broadcasting companies have struck a deal with producers that will allow them to remove their content from streaming services — including Netflix and Amazon — so it can be shown exclusively on their own competitive platform, which is still in the works. Last summer, French broadcasters France Télévisions, M6 et TF1 unveiled plans for Salto. This OTT service would be like Netflix, but focused on French content, presumably for viewers in France. The deal was yet another sign of the growing resentment in Europe, particularly in creative fields, about the loss of control to U.S. tech giants. Last October, for instance, Delphine Ernotte, CEO of France Télévisions, proclaimed her frustration that so much of the network’s content was showing up on overseas services. “We must stop dancing with the devil Netflix,” she said. And the European Union has adopted rules requiring all such streaming services to carry at least 30 percent local content. That metric could get harder to reach without the French TV shows. Beyond cultural issues, the tussle with services like Netflix goes to the heart of how France funds such cultural activities. France Télévisions owns the channels France 2, France 3, France 4, France 5, and France Ô. The company makes money from both advertising and a TV license fee. It also funds a healthy chunk of TV production. As viewers drift away or watch that content on other platforms, this carefully calibrated model is being eroded. Salto was proposed to allow the partners to restore some balance, and to better recoup their investments. But they first needed to get the producers on board. That finally happened today, according to a story in Paris-based Le Figaro. Before the deal, these broadcasters had limited rights in terms of how they could rebroadcast content via services like their own website or on cable box replay services, a horizon sometimes as short as seven days for the latter. In some cases, a show that appeared on French TV is available on Netflix a week later. The producers agreed to give the Salto partners much more extensive and exclusive rights over the content, so viewers can binge-watch a French series for several years after it appears. That will essentially block French producers from selling the same content to Netflix, Amazon, and others. In return, the partners agreed to increase the amount of programming they purchase from independent producers from 75 percent to 82.5 percent. While that’s settled, there are still numerous questions surrounding Salto. When will it launch? How much will it cost? Where will it be available? And it’s possible that while Salto might make financial sense, it could curtail the size of the audiences for shows if they are no longer widely available to international audiences. Source
  4. Five teenagers, Antoine and two other adults had climbed aboard the 52-metre metal arm called "BomberMaxxx" for a spin above the town centre during the evening. Updated : January 01, 2019 15:03 IST Fire brigade personnel conduct rescue operations after 8 people got stuck high on a giant funfair ride. Rennes, France : It was only supposed to last a few minutes for a thrill on New Year's Eve, but eight French people ended up spending the night stuck high up in the air on a giant funfair ride. "It was long, it was cold and it was frightening," said 23-year-old Antoine, wrapped in a survival blanket around dawn Tuesday. "I never thought I'd get out. It was very traumatic," he said after the fire brigade brought an end to the nine-hour ordeal in the Brittany city of Rennes. "We saw sparks, heard a big metal noise and feared the worst," said Beatrice, mother of 13-year-old Louna. The ride's owner Alexandre Thinel said "a new part broke and it blocked". "It's a technical incident that has never happened before. Firemen made several attempts to extract the revellers but their 30-metre ladder was too short. A helicopter was later called in and the first to be saved was winched up to the helicopter just before midnight. Then over several hours a rope system was set up to help evacuate the others one by one. Source
  5. France won’t wait on the rest of the European Union to start taxing big tech. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire says the country will move ahead with a new tax on Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon starting Jan. 1, 2019. The tax is expected to raise €500 million ($570 million) in 2019. France and Germany had originally pushed for an EU-wide 3% tax on big tech firms’ online revenues, in part to prevent companies like Apple from sheltering their profits in countries with the lowest tax rates. The deal, which required the support of all 28 EU states, appeared to crumble earlier this month, with opposition from countries including Ireland, home to the European headquarters of Google and Apple. France and Germany attempted to salvage the deal by scaling it back to a 3% tax on ad sales from tech giants. That would effectively limit the tax to Google and Facebook, excluding companies like Airbnb and Spotify that might have been harder hit under the initial proposal. In the meantime, France is moving ahead with its own tax on Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon, which are collectively known in the region as GAFA. “The tax will be introduced whatever happens on 1 January and it will be for the whole of 2019 for an amount that we estimate at €500m,” Le Maire said at a press conference in Paris, the Guardian reported today (Dec. 17). UK treasury minister Mel Stride has also suggested the UK could act alone to tax tech giants, if a broader European push failed. “We have a strong preference for moving multilaterally in that space but we have said that in the event that that doesn’t move fast enough for us then that this is something we could consider doing unilaterally, or perhaps with a smaller group of other tax authorities,” Stride said in July. While the US has bristled at talk of taxing companies based in Silicon Valley, American economist Jeffrey Sachs in October endorsed a tech tax, arguing it would help avert a dystopian future in which global wealth became even more concentrated among a small number of people. Source
  6. President to break silence as Paris counts cost of ‘social and economic catastrophe’ Emmanuel Macron is set to address the French people early this week after a fourth weekend of violence on the streets of major cities left the president under intense pressure to prove to protesters his government, accused of being arrogant and out of touch, is listening and to stop further destruction. As France cleaned up after another day of civil unrest sparked by the gilets jaunes movement against the rising cost of living, the country was counting the cost of what ministers described as a social and economic catastrophe. On Sunday, lorries towed away burned out cars and motorcycles, shops removed boardings from their windows and council workers cleaned up the detritus of rioting and looting. In Paris, which was worst hit, police had prevented a concentration of violence and destruction around the Champs Élysées, but in doing so dispersed pockets of protesters around the capital causing more widespread chaos and damage. Much of the destruction was caused by gangs of “casseurs”, urban guerrillas determined to loot and pillage, some of whom were wearing gilets jaunes. Among the “yellow vest” protestors were black-clad and masked youths who, the authorities suggested, belonged to ultra-right, ultra-left, or anarchist groups. French security forces, using armoured vehicles and water cannon, were more mobile and reactive than in previous weeks, but Paris authorities said there had been “much more damage”. “The sector concerned by the incidents was much larger. With fewer barricades, the protests were more dispersed so many more places were affected by the violence,” Emmanuel Gregoire, a Paris deputy mayor, told France Inter radio. “There was much more damage yesterday than there was a week ago.” Violence also broke out at gilets jaunes demonstrations in Marseille, Bordeaux, Lyon, Nantes, Dijon and Toulouse during a fourth weekend of nationwide protests. The president, who has remained silent during the protests – reportedly for fear of inflaming the situation – tweeted on Saturday: “To all the forces of order mobilised today, thank you for the courage and exceptional professionalism you have shown.” The response is unlikely to placate protesters, who chanted “Macron demission!” (Macron resign) at demonstrations across the country. The ministry of the interior said 136,000 people took part in what the gilets jaunes had labelled “Act IV” of their campaign of action, a number similar to the previous week. Police arrested 1,723 people, of whom 1,220 remained in custody overnight, 900 of them in Paris. This was more than four times as many as the previous week. Officials said 264 people were injured, including 39 police and gendarmes and several journalists. Many of the injuries were caused by the security forces firing flash-ball-style grenades at the crowds. In Bordeaux, there were 44 arrests after violent clashes between police and demonstrators in which 26 people were injured, including a man who lost a hand after reportedly picking up a crowd control grenade to throw it back. Local prosecutor Olivier Etienne said the man was seriously injured. In Toulouse, where protesters set fire to barricades and threw projectiles at the police, the authorities blamed several hundred “casseurs” for the violence. Even those businesses that escaped damage were counting the cost of having to close on what would normally be one of the busiest shopping days of the year. On Saturday, Paris’s main department stores, Galeries Lafayette, Printemps and BHV turned off their Christmas lights, boarded up their seasonal window displays and shut up shop. The finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, said the civil unrest was a “catastrophe for our business and a catastrophe for our economy”. He spoke of a “social crisis, a democratic crisis and a crisis for the nation”. On Sunday, the French government also responded to tweets by Donald Trump apparently gloating over the violence in Paris and attacking the Paris agreement aimed at addressing climate change. “The Paris Agreement isn’t working out so well for Paris. Protests and riots all over France,” Trump wrote. Speaking to French television, Jean-Yves Le Drian, the foreign and European affairs minister, bluntly told the American president to mind his own business. “We do not take domestic American politics into account and we want that to be reciprocated. I say this to Donald Trump and the French president says it too: leave our nation be,” he said. France has also opened an inquiry into possible Russian interference in the gilets jaunes movement following reports that Moscow-based social media accounts have targeted protestors. The Alliance for Security Democracy claims around 600 Twitter accounts known to promote Moscow’s views have begun using the hashtag #giletsjaunes. Le Drian confirmed an investigation was “underway” but added: “I will not comment before the investigation has reached conclusions.” The gilets jaunes protests were sparked by an eco-tax on fuel due to come into effect in January and are named after the yellow high-visibility vests French motorists are obliged to carry in their vehicles in case of an emergency. The government dropped the eco-tax last week, but the protest movement has ballooned into a more general protest against high taxes, the rising cost of living, poverty with the country’s leaders criticised as elitist, arrogant and out of touch. The movement, which spread quickly on Facebook and social media, now appears to encompass what some are calling “real” gilets jaunes, “casseurs”, as well as fringe elements from the political extremes. There are fears the violence is being stoked on social media by Russia-based accounts. Negotiating with the gilets jaunes has been hampered because there is no official organisation or leadership. Source
  7. PARIS (Reuters) - Thousands of protesters took to the streets of French cities on Saturday in the fifth weekend of nationwide demonstrations against Emmanuel Macron’s government, despite calls to hold off after a gun attack in Strasbourg earlier this week. In Paris, police were out in force to contain outbursts of violence. But the demonstrations were noticeably smaller than in previous weeks, possibly a response to the Strasbourg attack or to the cold, rainy weather. Police fired water cannon and teargas in the afternoon to disperse groups of protesters in sporadic, brief clashes with riot police on the Champs-Elysees and adjacent streets. A handful of topless feminist activists braved chilly temperatures to face off with security forces, a few meters away from the Elysee Palace, the president’s residence. French media also broadcast footage of clashes between police and protesters in Nantes, western France, and further south in Bordeaux. The ‘yellow vest’ movement started in mid-November with protests at junctions and roundabouts against fuel tax increases, but quickly became a wider mobilisation against Macron’s economic policies. Successive weekends of protests in Paris have lead to vandalism and violent clashes with security forces. Despite the protests, several major stores, such as the Galeries Lafayette, opened to lure in Christmas shoppers. Loic Bollay, 44, marching on the Champs-Elysees in a yellow vest, said the protests were more subdued but the movement would go on until the demonstrators’ grievances were addressed. “Since the Strasbourg attack, it is calmer, but I think next Saturday and the following Saturdays...it will come back.” The Interior Minister said around 69,000 police were active on Saturday with a reinforced presence in the cities of Toulouse, Bordeaux and Saint-Etienne. According to official figures, 33,500 protesters had been counted in France by 1300 GMT compared to 77,000 at the same time on Dec. 8. In Paris, more than 2,000 protestors marched in splintered groups in several neighborhoods, and at least 148 were arrested by mid-afternoon, according to a Paris police official. On Friday, President Macron called for a return to calm in France after nearly a month of protests by the so-called ‘yellow vest’ movement against his government’s policies. The demonstrations have hit growth and caused widespread disruption. “France needs calm, order and a return to normal,” Macron said, after a meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels. In a televised address to the nation on Monday, Macron announced wage rises for the poorest workers and tax cuts for pensioners in further concessions meant to end the movement, but many said they would maintain pressure. The government, as well as several unions and opposition politicians called on protesters to stay off the streets on Saturday, after four people were killed in a gun attack at a Christmas market in the historic city of Strasbourg. Source
  8. KATOWICE, Poland (Reuters) - Governments should not use the violent protests in France that were sparked by a carbon tax increase as an excuse to stem policies to curb global warming, French officials said on Monday. French Secretary of State for Ecology Brune Poirson, and Laurent Fabius, who presided over the 2015 Paris climate agreement, said countries must keep up the momentum of that U.N. deal which aims to limit temperature rise to between 1.5 degrees to 2 degrees Celsius by 2030. “It would be a error to think that because there are problems in France, we should abandon ecological transition,” Fabius told reporters on the sidelines of the U.N. climate conference in Poland. The former foreign minister whose handling of the Paris negotiations earned him worldwide praise, said countries could not afford to curb climate policies because the consequences would be even more devastating. “We must move towards that transition, but the transition must be just,” he said, adding that policymakers must ensure that funds earmarked for green policies are used for that purpose, which was not the case in France. Speaking in a separate briefing, ecology minister Poirson said one of the key messages from the protests was that green taxes had to target industries and not just citizens, and governments needed to communicate their aims more clearly to the public. She said the French government was exploring ways to revamp fiscal policies to achieve environmental aims. “That means embracing green budgeting. It is really difficult because it means radically changing they way our institutions, the way our bureaucracy work. But I don’t see how we could do it differently,” Poirson said. The so-called “yellow vests” protests in France prompted U.S. President Donald Trump to call for the end of what he said was a “ridiculous and extremely expensive Paris Agreement.” Trump has already pulled out of the deal. Source
  9. F rance’s military has teamed up with an environmental non-profit for the first time to study the threat of climate change where the country is at war, a representative of the green group said on Saturday. So far, WWF France and the Ecole de Guerre, the top French military academy, have been jointly promoting their view that climate change is a national security threat. The Ecole de Guerre trains officers to become the next generation of the armed forces’ top brass. The partnership marks the first time the French military has worked with a non-profit on adapting to climate change, said Nathaniel Powell, an expert on the French army in Africa at the Lausanne-based Pierre du Bois Foundation for Current History. The venture seeks to study the ability of conflict areas to withstand the pressures of a changing climate as the planet warms, said Marine Braud, head of green diplomacy for WWF France, at a conference held alongside U.N. climate talks. “We work together on the links between environment and security,” she told a panel discussion. The partnership, which kicked off in September, involves about 40 officers at the Ecole de Guerre, representing about a fifth of the school’s students. It will focus at first on West Africa’s Sahel region, said Braud, where the alliance hopes to carry out its first “stress test” exercise next year. The results will be released in a report, she said. France has maintained a large military presence in the Sahel, one of the poorest parts of the world with a rapidly growing population that has been hit hard by climate change. The French armed forces drove out a mix of Tuareg separatists and Islamist rebels from northern Mali in 2013, and now deploy 4,500 troops in Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad, according to the defence ministry. WWF France’s head, Pascal Canfin, referred to climate change as a “threat multiplier” while speaking to lawmakers at the French National Assembly last month about the group’s partnership with the military. “The French armed forces today are touching the reality of climate change where they operate,” he said. “They are increasingly anxious to integrate this dimension (of climate change) in their analysis,” he said. The initiative was part of a broader trend by military forces to adapt to climate change, said historian Powell. The U.S. Department of Defense, which has the world’s most powerful military, found in a study published earlier this year that nearly half of U.S. military sites globally are threatened by wild weather linked to climate change. Given WWF’s high profile, the move could potentially undermine the perceived neutrality of environmental organisations working in the conflict-torn Sahel, warned Powell. Source
  10. PARIS (AP) — The Latest on anti-government protests in France and neighboring countries (all times local): 1:55 p.m. Belgian police are firing tear gas and water cannons at stone-throwing yellow-vested protesters near the country’s government offices and parliament. Protesters smashed street signs and traffic lights near a police barricade blocking access to the office of Prime Minister Charles Michel, as they chanted slogans calling on him to resign. They threw paving stones, fireworks, flares and other objects at police. Brussels police spokeswoman Ilse Van de Keere says around 400 protesters are gathered in the area. About 100 have been detained, many for possessing dangerous objects like fireworks or wearing clothing that could be used as protection in clashes with police. In the Netherlands, about 100 protesters gathered in a peaceful demonstration outside the Dutch parliament in The Hague. At least two protesters were detained by police in central Amsterdam. ___ 1:45 p.m. Paris police are firing water cannons on yellow-vested protesters throwing flares and setting fires in one of the French capital’s main shopping districts. Scattered clashes are continuing around the city as the protesters seek to reach the presidential palace and demand President Emmanuel Macron’s resignation. While the situation is tense, police appear to have it more under control than a week ago, when rioting and looting overwhelmed Paris security forces. The latest flashpoint is not far from the flagship buildings of France’s most famed department stores, Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, and near the Palais Garnier opera house. Protesters uprooted trees on one of the neighborhood’s “grands boulevards” and set them on fire, while others hurled flares and other projectiles at rows of riot police. Like several neighborhoods of Paris, the area is largely locked down, with many stores shuttered for fear of violence. Overall police estimate there are about 8,000 yellow vest protesters in Paris on Saturday, down from last week. Meanwhile the government deployed 8,000 police in the city, as part of exceptional security measures aimed at preventing a repeat of last week’s rioting, which injured 130 people and struck a new blow to France’s global image. ___ 12:50 p.m. Belgian police are scuffling with yellow-vested protesters calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Charles Michel as hundreds of marchers try to enter the European quarter of Brussels. Police used pepper spray on a small group of men who threw street signs, bottles and other objects as they tried to break through a barricade near the European Parliament. Walking behind a banner marked “social winter is coming,” the protesters have been chanting ”(French President Emmanuel) Macron, Michel resign.” The rallies, which started at different locations around the city and converged on the European quarter, have disrupted road and rail traffic. Dozens of people were searched at stations. Police have warned people to stay away from the area. ___ 11:55 a.m. Police are seizing protective equipment from journalists and barring some provincial “yellow vest” protesters from boarding trains to Paris, as part of exceptionally stringent security measures to prevent a repeat of last week’s rioting. A group of four protesters who came to Paris from Normandy on Saturday told The Associated Press that they saw people wearing yellow vests turned away at train stations all along their route. They said fellow protesters trying to reach Paris from Toulouse in southern France reported the same problems. A national police spokesman said officers stationed at train stations around the country are under orders to verify all passengers and turn away any carrying equipment that could be used to “cause damage to people or property.” Three Associated Press journalists had gas masks and protective goggles confiscated by police despite carrying government-issued press cards. The equipment allows journalists to cover violence between police and protesters when tear gas is fired. ___ 11 a.m. Paris police have fired tear gas on a group of yellow-vested protesters trying to march on the French presidential palace and are pushing them back with shields. Crowds of protesters first tried to march down the Champs-Elysees avenue toward the Elysee palace but were prevented by rows of police. So a group of a few hundred took side streets and tried to get past a police barricade, and police fired back with tear gas. Most of the protesters remain peaceful, and there are no signs so far of the rioting and looting that marked a similar protest last Saturday and prompted fears of greater violence this week. Crowds were also gathering across town around the Bastille plaza. Authorities have detained 343 people already Saturday amid exceptional security and filtration measures. Police are searching people throughout zones of central Paris and confiscating goggles and gas masks from journalists who use them to protect against tear gas while covering demonstrations. ___ 9:25 a.m. A crowd of “yellow vest” protesters is marching down the Champs-Elysees avenue in central Paris surrounded by exceptional police security amid fears of new violence. Hundreds of people gathered early Saturday around the Arc de Triomphe, which was damaged in rioting a week ago. They then started walking peacefully down the avenue, lined with high-end shops normally bustling before the Christmas holidays but boarded up this Saturday amid worries of more looting or other damage. A Paris police spokesman said more than 170 people have already been detained Saturday on suspicion they were planning violence, though most were later released. President Emmanuel Macron’s government is deploying 89,000 security forces around the country for Saturday’s protests against his reforms. — By Angela Charlton ___ 8:40 a.m. The French yellow vest protest movement is crossing borders, with demonstrations planned in neighboring Belgium and in the Netherlands. Neither country has proposed a hike in fuel tax — the catalyst for the massive and destructive demonstrations in France in recent weeks. Hundreds of police officers are being mobilized in Brussels Saturday, where yellow vest protesters last week clashed with police and torched two police vehicles. More than 70 people were detained. Some rallies are taking place outside the main European Union institutions, which are closed Saturdays. Some could be held in the city center on what is a major Christmas shopping weekend. Jan Dijkgraaf, editor of a Dutch “resistance newspaper” is calling for peaceful protests in the Dutch cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. ___ 7:30 a.m. Paris monuments and shopping meccas are locked down and tens of thousands of police are taking position around the country, fearing worsening violence in a new round of anti-government protests. President Emmanuel Macron’s government has warned that Saturday’s “yellow vest” protests in Paris will be hijacked by “radicalized and rebellious” crowds and become the most dangerous yet after three weeks of demonstrations. Authorities are deploying barricade-busting armored vehicles and 8,000 police in the capital alone, part of 89,000 security forces fanned out around France. The Eiffel Tower and Louvre are shut along with hundreds of stores and businesses, fearing damage after rioting last Saturday that saw 130 people injured and the worst urban unrest in Paris in decades. The protesters are angry at Macron and high taxes, among other problems. Source
  11. from the stop-it,-europe dept Europe really seems to have it in for the internet these days -- from the GDPR to antitrust actions to the Copyright Directive to the Right to be Forgotten, almost every legal issue popping up in Europe is coming out terribly for innovation and the public's ability to communicate freely with one another. The latest may seem a bit more narrowly focused, but it could be super important. As described on the always wonderful IPKat blog, the Paris Tribunal heard a complaint brought against Twitter by the French Consumers' Association challenging the validity of Twitter's terms of service for a whole long list of reasons. But just to keep this more focused we'll discuss the part that matters to us: the copyright license. We've discussed the "copyright license" terms (that basically every online platform has somewhere in the terms) a few times in the past -- mainly because every so often someone totally misreads or misunderstands it and a huge, viral, and totally misleading freakout occurs. That's because basically any service that hosts user content has some basic term that effectively says "when you're posting something to our site, you are granting us a perpetual license to host it on this and future iterations of our site, and that extends to other sites where our stuff might appear." That's the plain language version of it, but some people act as if it's an outrage that a platform is claiming that it can have such a broad license to include the content on future sites or with partners. Many -- incorrectly -- claim that this means that the sites are planning to "sell" your content to third parties. That's not the case. The clause really just allows for things like "embedding" where the same content will appear on other sites, and that alone shouldn't be seen as an infringement. So you're licensing the content for such uses. But, some people still find this offensive... and apparently that includes the Paris Tribunal. Twitter's terms attempt to explain this situation pretty clearly: The French Consumers Union (Union Federale des Consummateurs -- or UFC) finds this to be somehow misleading, saying that the whole beginning telling users they retain their rights is misleading, given the rest of the explanation saying that you're granting a (non-exclusive) right for Twitter to then make use of it. This is a very confused reading. Again, the necessity of the license is so that you can post something to Twitter without Twitter then having to worry you're going to sue them over the thing that you yourself posted. UFC also complained that the license was somehow "too broad." And the Tribunal bought these arguments: Specifically, the tribunal is basically saying that every copyright license has to be written out specifically around that content, and specify what the content is and what it will be used for: A big part of the problem here -- as highlighted in the IPKat article -- is that France's law apparently doesn't distinguish between assignments of copyrights and licenses. That's... bonkers. The requirements above make a lot more sense when talking about assignments (transferring the actual copyright to someone). But they make zero sense when it comes to mere licensing (basically permission to make use of the work). But, if France is saying that every license must be treated like a full copyright transfer requiring specific contracts, well, there goes all social media and user generated content in France. To put it mildly, this is crazy. It's taking permission culture to new insane levels. It certainly appears that under this ruling, in order to tweet in France, you need to sign a new agreement for each tweet with Twitter before you can post, in which you describe the content of the tweet itself and Twitter promises only very narrow uses. That's... insane. How can you possibly operate any site that allows for any user-generated input under such a standard? This is what happens when you have judicial bodies who clearly don't understand how the internet works. Requiring a new specified agreement to license each individual tweet is fundamentally at odds with how the internet works as a communications mechanism. Conceivably, this could serve to show the ridiculousness of copyright itself -- that it forces such preposterous outcomes -- but remember that no other country seems to interpret terms of service this way. Anyway, it's unclear what Twitter is going to do about this, but it certainly seems like it may be risky to continue even operating in France with such a standard in play. Source
  12. from the c'est-la-vie dept Do you guys remember Hadopi? This French version of a law designed to kick copyright infringers off of the internet essentially ended in 2016, after all kinds of reports showed the program to be an inefficient, unreasonably harsh failure that actually resulted in more infringement rather than less. Well, this travesty probably seems altogether silly here in 2018, given that Hadopi largely targeted filesharing infringement, while the majority of "piracy" these days takes the form of streaming content online rather than downloading it. Those enforcing Hadopi have no real way to track that kind of "piracy", making the whole thing useless. But the French government appears to want to see if it can repeat its mistakes all over again, with reports that it will institute a streaming site blacklist, which will be every bit as effective as Hadopi. Making all of this especially odd is that it comes at a time when so-called pirates in France are increasingly turning to legal offerings and spending gobs of money on them. The reasons why someone might simultaneously pirate content and pay for it through legit services have been covered here many times in the past. It ends up coming down to some combination of content-availability, not wanting to work through the silos content-providers have erected around what customers want, and reasonable pricing models for that content. What data like this ultimately shows is that so-called pirates are perfectly willing to pay for content if its offered to them in a convenient and reasonable way with few mental transactions needed. You know, how all of commerce works. And, yet, for some reason the French government has decided to try to censor streaming sites -- which it is guaranteed to do badly -- in the face of this optimistic data. Instead, it should be working with content producers and streaming providers alike to make that content as widely available as possible. Giving the customer what they want, how they want it, at reasonable prices. What a completely novel and hard to grasp idea. Source
  13. Two 18-year-old French citizens have been arrested in Paris and charged with crimes related to the hack of Vevo’s YouTube accounts last month that resulted in pro-Palestine messages being posted on several popular videos, according to prosecutors. The Paris Prosecutor’s Office identified the two suspects as “Nassim B.” and “Gabriel K.A.B.,” also known by their respective online handles of “Prosox” and “Kuroi’ish.” Authorities allege the duo gained access to the YouTube account maintained by Vevo, to alter the content of multiple music videos, including Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito” — the most-viewed music video on YouTube in 2017, which recently surpassed 5 billion views. The hackers also targeted videos by Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Chris Brown and Shakira, replacing their thumbnail images, video titles and descriptions. Vevo has since removed all changes the hackers made on its YouTube videos. The arrests and charges brought in the case were the result of a collaboration between the Paris Prosecutor’s Office and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in New York, where Vevo is based. Paris prosecutors charged Gabriel K.A.B. and with five criminal counts and Nassim B. with six counts, including “fraudulently modifying data contained in an automated data processing system.” Separately, this week Vevo announced that it will shut down its mobile apps and consumer-facing website, in order to focus on video distribution on YouTube. Vevo’s majority owners are Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment, with minority stakes held by Alphabet, parent company of Google and YouTube, and Abu Dhabi Media. Source
  14. Undercover French officers could hardly believe their luck this week when two dealers they were tailing walked up to them and offered them 67 kilogrammes of cannabis. The unlikely encounter took place Wednesday evening in the northern Paris suburb of Bondy, where a group of plain clothes officers were discreetly watching a stolen car. Two “clearly inexperienced” dealers came up to them and asked “if the goods were for them”, police sources told AFP. The officers replied in the affirmative and then used tasers to immobilise and arrest the pair, who were transporting 67 kilogrammes of cannabis resin, the sources said. Source
  15. Emmanuel Macron, the French president, has warned that Google and Facebook are becoming too big to be governed and could face being dismantled. Internet giants could be forced to pay for the disruption they cause in society and submit to French or European privacy regulations, he suggested. In an interview with the magazine Wired, the president warned that artificial intelligence (AI) would challenge democracy and open a Pandora’s box of privacy issues. He was speaking after announcing a €1.5bn (£1.32bn) investment in artificial intelligence research to accelerate innovation and catch up with China and the US. Mr Macron said companies such as Google and Facebook were welcome in France, brought jobs and were “part of our ecosystem”. But he warned: “They have a very classical issue in a monopoly situation; they are huge players. At a point of time – but I think it will be a US problem, not a European problem – at a point of time, your government, your people, may say, ‘Wake up. They are too big.’ Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said last month he was open to governments regulating tech companies. “[The] question isn't ‘Should there be regulation or shouldn’t there be?’ – it’s ‘How do you do it?’” Mr Zuckerberg said. At the start of this year, billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros added his voice to a chorus calling for major technology firms to be reined in, calling Google and Facebook monopolies in need of regulation. Apple's chief executive Tim Cook has called for more regulation of Facebook in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. Mr Macron also hinted in the interview that the online giants might be forced to put more money towards compensation for disrupting traditional economic sectors. “We have to retrain our people,” he said. “These companies will not pay for that – the government will. “Today the GAFA [Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon] don’t pay all the taxes they should in Europe. So they don’t contribute to dealing with negative externalities they create. And they ask the sectors they disrupt to pay, because these guys, the old sectors pay VAT, corporate taxes and so on. That’s not sustainable.” He said people should remain sovereign on privacy rules. “I want to protect privacy in this way or in that way. You don’t have the same rule in the US. And speaking about US players, how can I guarantee French people that US players will respect our regulation? So at a point of time, they will have to create actual legal bodies and incorporate it in Europe, being submitted to these rules.” “Not just too big to fail, but too big to be governed. Which is brand new. “So at this point, you may choose to dismantle. That’s what happened at the very beginning of the oil sector when you had these big giants. That’s a competition issue.” Accountability and democracy happen at national or regional level but not at a global scale, he added. “If I don’t walk down this path, I cannot protect French citizens and guarantee their rights. If I don’t do that, I cannot guarantee French companies they are fairly treated. Because today, when I speak about GAFA, they are very much welcome – I want them to be part of my ecosystem, but they don’t play on the same level playing field as the other players in the digital or traditional economy.” He added: “All I know is that if I don’t, at a point of time, have this discussion and regulate them, I put myself in a situation not to be sovereign any more.” The president envisaged a European sovereignty in AI. “Artificial intelligence is a global innovation scheme in which you have private big players and one government with a lot of data – China. My goal is to recreate a European sovereignty in AI, especially on regulation. You will have sovereignty battles to regulate, with countries trying to defend their collective choices,” he said. “AI will raise a lot of issues in ethics, in politics, it will question our democracy and our collective preferences. For instance, if you take healthcare, you can totally transform medical care, making it much more predictive and personalised if you get access to a lot of data. We will open our data in France. “But the day you start dealing with privacy issues, the day you open this data and unveil personal information, you open a Pandora’s box, with potential use cases that will not be increasing the common good and improving the way to treat you. “In particular, it’s creating a potential for all the players to select you. This can be a very profitable business model: this data can be used to better treat people, it can be used to monitor patients, but it can also be sold to an insurer that will have intelligence on you and your medical risks, and could get a lot of money out of this information. The day we start to make such business out of this data is when a huge opportunity becomes a huge risk. It could totally dismantle our national cohesion and the way we live together. “This leads me to the conclusion that this huge technological revolution is in fact a political revolution.” Mr Zuckerberg, while accepting a need for regulation, warned last month against governments micromanaging tech companies, and how they handle privacy breaches, hate speech and offensive content. He attacked Germany’s new Network Enforcement Act, under which technology companies must immediately investigate hate speech complaints, delete hateful content within 24 hours or face fines of up to €50m. Source
  16. With more than two billion downloads, VLC is one of the most popular media players around. The open source tool can play virtually every video file available and comes recommended by many, including some pirate sites. The latter has drawn the attention of France's Tax Investigation Branch, which suggested that VideoLAN might be doing 'shady' deals. Luckily, they soon admitted their mistake. VideoLAN’s VLC Media Player(*) is installed on hundreds of millions of devices around the world. It’s widely regarded as the best tool to play videos and audio in just about any format. When something can’t be played, VLC Media Player almost always provides the answer. The application has a wide variety of legal uses, but pirates are also pretty keen on the tool. In fact, some sites actively recommend it to their users, including the French torrent site Torrent9 who list it in their help section. Of course, these type of links are only a one-way endorsement. However, for some reason the National Tax Investigation Branch of the French Ministry for the Economy and Finance, was concerned that something more was up. A few hours ago, Next INpact reported that VideoLAN had received a letter from the tax authority, asking for detailed information on Torrent9.biz. The reason for the inquiry is that the site in question, also accessible via Torrent9.me, has a help section that explains how people can download torrents. This guide ends with a link to the VLC Media Player, as can be seen below. Torrent9’s help page While the Internet is full of links, the National Tax Investigation Branch suspected that VideoLAN was closely involved with the torrent site, asking the organization to hand over all sorts of documentation. Specifically, they requested “complete customer details,” “bank details,” “payment methods of the customer and date of last payment,” and a copy of the “referencing contract” for the Torrent9.biz and Torrent9.me domains. When confronted with the usual request by a reporter, the Ministry of Economy and Finance didn’t give in. Instead, it reportedly stated that “if they have a link to your website, it’s because you pay them: SEO is not free..,” suggesting some kind of active cooperation. VideoLAN received quite a bit of support after the news broke as many people had trouble wrapping their head around the absurd situation. After a storm of protests, the authorities eventually decided to back down. In a response on Twitter, the ministry described the situation as an ‘error of judgment,’ adding that failures like this can always happen. For VideoLAN this means everything will return to normal now. They initially planned to reply to the request with a blank piece of paper, but even that’s no longer needed. — * Disclaimer: VideoLAN did not compensate TorrentFreak for the link in this article. Source: TorrentFreak
  17. The 28-year-old former operator of a French-based torrent site has been ordered to serve a year in jail and pay a five million euro fine. A moderator received a four-month suspended sentence. Somewhat unusually, four regular users of the site were tracked down by their IP addresses. They too received custodial sentences. Whenever anti-piracy groups decide to take action against large file-sharing platforms, they do so on the basis of achieving crushing punishments for their operators. Only severe punishments can stop hardcore pirates, they argue. In France, a similar situation has been playing out. Back in June 2015 following a four-month investigation, people connected to the public torrent site OMGTorrent were arrested and taken into custody. Early claims suggested the site had offered for download more than 10,000 pirated movies. Founded in 2008, the site had built up a solid userbase of around 3.5 million visitors per month. Police insisted it was a for-profit project. “The people behind this platform do not do it for fun, through the platform they earn a lot of money,” a police spokesperson said at the time. “Even if they offer movies without requesting compensation, they earn money with various advertisements that appear alongside.” Searches of two suspects’ homes yielded several computers plus more than 3.5 terabytes of the latest movies. A separate server found overseas contained several thousand more. Police warned that the site’s operators could face 10 years in jail plus millions in damages, but they weren’t going to stop there. Their investigations had led them to four of the site’s top downloaders who they intended to prosecute for receiving stolen goods. After more than a year, six people connected with the site have now been sentenced and it’s harsh punishments all round. Following a hearing in March, yesterday the Criminal Court of Chalons-en-Champagne (Marne, France) sentenced the founder of OMGTorrent to one year in prison. The 28-year-old was also ordered to pay a fine of around five million euros for the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted works. Also sentenced was a 38-year-old woman who had worked as a moderator on the site. She was given a four-month suspended sentence and told to pay damages to the plaintiffs in the case. In an unusual turn of events, prosecutors also tracked down four of the site’s most heavy downloaders. They too were given prison sentences of one month each and are required to settle with rightsholders. Based on an investigation carried out by ALPA (Association Against Audiovisual Piracy), the prosecution estimated that damages exceed 20 million euros. Following the decision, the site’s founder posted an update to the Wareziens forum. “I’ve been fined a total of 5,000,000 euros for financial damage, 12 months imprisonment and 4 more [months] from a former sentence. My mod has to pay approximately 1,000,000 euros for financial damage,” he wrote. “Others, those who have downloaded, I don’t know the amount for them, but it far exceeds 500,000 euros. Note: They seized the servers and used them to get the IP addresses of the big downloaders of content.” Lashing out at those who hounded him, the admin said the judgment had really hurt. He said he understands why he needed to be punished but for those lower down the chain, the sentences were “beyond comprehension.” “To all the [anti-piracy groups and authorities]: You are a lot of vile shit, destroying lives of people who are already struggling to pay their rent, their food, their bills,” he said. “Why all this? Because they wanted to watch and because they didn’t necessarily have the capabilities to buy a DVD / BluRay or go to the theaters.” Listing the country’s most popular torrent indexes, trackers and DDL sites, the admin declared that they would never fall. “Warez is a hydra, you cut off one head, 10 will grow back. You’ll never kill this beautiful community. It’s like drug dealers, it will never stop,” he said. Following the raid on OMGTorrent, an unknown third-party managed to secure the domain. The site is now working, as it did before, as a public torrent index. Source: https://torrentfreak.com/torrent-site-founder-moderator-users-receive-prison-sentences-160915/
  18. France was plunged into profound horror and shock for the second time in 12 days when two men slit the throat of a priest as he was celebrating mass in a Normandy church on Tuesday morning. A nun who witnessed the murder described how the men forced Father Jacques Hamel to his knees before killing him and filmed themselves preaching in Arabic by the altar. They also tried to cut the throat of a parishioner, leaving him for dead. read more/source
  19. At Least 84 Dead After Truck Crashes Into Crowd In French City Of Nice Local officials said dozens more were also injured in the attack. A truck plowed into a large crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France. At least 84 people were killed, French officials said. A local official said the truck was “loaded with arms and grenades.” The attack on Bastille Day celebrants in the French city of Nice that killed at least 84 people was an act of terrorism, French President Francois Hollande said early Friday. The driver who crashed his truck into a crowd of people watching fireworks continued on for over a mile before being shot dead by police, Agence-France Press reported. The truck was loaded with “arms and grenades,” Region President Christian Estrosi said. Dozens were wounded in the attack, and 18 are in critical condition, interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said. An American father and his young son were among the first victims to be identified. France will observe three national days of mourning beginning Saturday. ERIC GAILLARD / REUTERS French police forces and forensic officers stand next to a truck that ran into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day on Thursday in Nice, France. Counterterrorism officials have taken over the investigation into the attack, HuffPost France reported. No group has claimed responsibility. A police source told Reuters that the attacker was a 31-year-old French-Tunisian. Hollande, addressing the nation early Friday after a crisis meeting, said the carnage in Nice was “an attack whose terrorist character cannot be denied.” “We need to do everything we can to fight against the threat of terrorism,” Hollande said. Recalling recent attacks in Paris and St. Denis, he said, “It’s all of France that’s under the threat of Islamist radicalism.” The president said he would extend the state of emergency implemented after the November Paris attack for three months. Earlier on Thursday, just hours before the Nice attack occurred, he had indicated that the emergency measure would expire as planned in less than two weeks. “We don’t yet know if [the driver] had accomplices, but we are hoping that his identification will offer us more leads,” Hollande said. TAGGESCHAU.DE An image from a video shows the large truck as it plows through a crowd a people in Nice, France. Witnesses recounted a harrowing scene. “There was carnage on the road,” Nice resident Wassim Bouhlel told the AP. “Bodies everywhere.” Crowds had gathered along the promenade to watch a fireworks display for the French holiday. A reporter from Agence France-Presse saw a white truck driving at high speed, hitting pedestrians and sending debris into the air. “All of the images we all saw from Paris, we are living them now here,” David Haziza, a Nice resident, told French TV station iTélé. “My husband picked up the kids and started running,” Linda, another witness who did not provide a last name, told iTélé. “I turned around and just saw so many dead people. I even saw a baby with its head totally crushed.” VALERY HACHE VIA GETTY IMAGES Police officers stand near the truck that ran into dozens of people in Nice. Its windshield is riddled with bullets. Images posted on social media showed people running through the streets of the southern French city. Local newspaper Nice-Matin posted images of a white truck at the scene and said the vehicle was riddled with bullets. Police urged residents to stay indoors, and medical teams were on the scene, AFP said. View image on Twitter U.S. President Barack Obama called the attack “horrific” and said that his administration is in touch with French officials and has offered to help with their investigation. Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump offered their support to victims and solidarity with France. View image on Twitter German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed solidarity with the people of France. “Together with many others we stand side by side with in the fight against terrorism,” she said. Social media users shared offers of help and shelter to people caught up in the mayhem, using the hashtag #PortesOuvertesNice. Some people took shelter in the lobby of a Nice hotel. Facebook activated its safety check feature to enable people in Nice to assure friends they are safe. Concerned friends and relatives appealed for news about loved ones on Twitter using the hashtags #RechercheNice and #RecherchesNice. “France is horrified by what has just transpired ― this monstrosity of using a truck to deliberately kill dozens of people who were merely celebrating July 14th,” Hollande said in his address to the nation. “But France will always be stronger than the fanatics that attempt to bring it down.” Huffington
  20. The major record labels continue their efforts to drive The Pirate Bay underground with France being the next in line. A local music industry group has informed several ISPs that it has requested a court blocking injunction against the popular torrent site. In addition, more than a hundred Pirate Bay proxies are also being targeted. The Pirate Bay is without doubt one of the most censored websites on the Internet. Courts all around the world have ordered Internet providers to block subscriber access to the torrent site, and this list continues to expand. Today, news broke that the French Civil Society of Phonographic Producers has filed for an injunction to prevent ISPs from providing access to The Pirate Bay website and more than hundred of its dedicated proxy sites. NextINpact reports that the music association, backed by the major movie studios, filed a request in February. The French Internet providers Bouygues, Free, Orange and SFR have since been informed about the court proceedings. The complaint is based on a provision of the Hadopi law which allows copyright holders to request measures from third-party services to prevent or stop copyright infringements. Previously, a similar request resulted in a court order requiring Google to censor the search terms ‘Torrent’, ‘RapidShare’ and ‘Megaupload’ from its Instant and Autocomplete services. The court argued that Google indirectly facilitates copyright infringement by failing to filter these terms. Late last year another court order required Google, Bing and Yahoo to remove 16 video streaming sites from their search results on similar grounds. For now, it is still unclear whether the current legal action to block The Pirate Bay is only targeted at Internet providers, or if search engines are covered as well. The music labels have clearly learned from the blocking efforts in other countries, where proxy sites quickly picked up the slack. The record labels hope to prevent this from happening in France by listing all the Pirate Bay proxies they could find. Of course, it only takes one uncensored proxy to bypass the measures. Whether the French blockade, if granted, will be successful remains to be seen. There are still plenty of alternatives and circumvention tools available. This includes TPB’s own PirateBrowser which has been downloaded millions of times since its release last summer. Source: TorrentFreak
  21. Today, French anti-piracy agency HADOPI handed the government a long-awaited report on the development of "operational tools" for dealing with online piracy. Several key areas are outlined, including the creation of a new type of takedown notice designed not only to take content offline, but keep it offline for up to six months. For an extended period anti-piracy agency HADOPI stayed in the news due to its responsibility for maintaining France’s controversial three-strikes anti-piracy scheme. While many of the big headlines have subsided, the authority is still tasked with dealing with an issue that simply refuses to go away. Last July, Aurélie Filippetti, Minister of Culture and Communication, tasked Mireille Imbert-Quaretta, president of the Commission for Protection of Rights, to find solutions against large scale commerical piracy online, i.e against the sites and services offering music and movies for free. The report, obtained by Les Echoes and scheduled to be handed over to the government today, envisions a multi-pronged approach to the issue. “There is no single solution to fight against counterfeiting on the Internet,” warns Mireille Imbert-Quaretta (MIQ). MIQ’s recommendations begin with what is now forming into somewhat of an industry standard tactic for dealing with ‘pirate’ sites, that of hitting their finances. MIQ foresees a tightening of the noose around unauthorized sites by building cooperation among advertising players to restrict support for such domains. In addition it’s recommended that the same kind of agreements should be forged in order to cut off sites’ access to payment processing facilities. “These kinds of charters are intended to create a framework for the involvement of stakeholders in the advertising and online payment industries in the fight against infringement of copyright and neighboring rights on the Internet, and to put in place certain rules for their actions,” the report reads. Another proposal foresees the creation of a master list of sites deemed to be engaged in “massive” breaches of copyright. While various lists of this nature already exist in several places around the world, such as at City of London Police, they have until now remained secret. MIQ recommends that the French list is made publicly available, for several key reasons. - To update the public about the legality of sites online - To allow advertising and payment industry players to make informed decisions - For the reference of other potential intermediaries involved in the piracy eco-system MIQ’s final recommendation will be of broad interest, especially if the French can do the seemingly impossible and actually pull it off. “The copyright holders are faced with the constant recurrence of content and links they have already demand the withdrawal of,” the report reads. To deal with this issue the final recommendation foresees the “creation of an order for extended withdrawal”, in other words a DMCA-style takedown notice that not only says “takedown”, but also “stay down”. These notices would oblige a host to “stop and prevent, for a specified period, the reappearance of content that has been identified as constituting an infringement of copyright or related rights on the site.” It’s suggested that these kinds of orders could be valid for up to six months but at least initially would only be directed at sites hosting actual files, not links to files such as in the case of BitTorrent indexes. “These are all distinct responses gradually leading to the establishment of an effective action against websites taking advantage of a massive operation of counterfeiting,” the report concludes. Time will tell how the government will respond but it seems likely that all proposals will be taken very seriously. Source: TorrentFreak
  22. Geneva, Switzerland (CNN) -- The diplomatic gridlock between Iran and the West seemed immovable for decades. But on Sunday, diplomats made history when Iran and six world powers came together on an agreement over Iran's nuclear program. The deal dials back Iran's ability to work toward a nuclear weapon and at the same time loosens the choke hold of international sanctions on Iran's economy. The two sides now have six months to find out how historic the breakthrough really is. That's the duration of the preliminary agreement hammered out in Geneva, Switzerland, by Iran and the P5+1 -- the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany. "There are lots of things, regrettably, that we still have to work on. Our hope is that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif want to build this different relationship, want to show in clear ways as we go forward that the program is peaceful," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told CNN's "State of the Union." The foreign policy chiefs from the nations making up the group traveled to Geneva from the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany on Saturday to pound out the last key points of the deal. Iran has stumbled from one economic crisis to the next under the sanctions, and unemployment currently runs over 24%. The breathing room is intended to buy Iran and the negotiating powers time to arrive at a more comprehensive agreement. But it represents an opportunity, not a guarantee. "It's a little too early to break open Champagne bottles and put on the party hats on this one," said Middle East diplomatic expert Aaron David Miller. Its success hinges on whether or not it leads to a bigger agreement to "put Iran's nuclear weapons program to rest." That the diplomats came to any accord at all represents a momentous budge in a nearly 35-year deadlock marked by distrust, suspicion and open animosity between the United States and Iran, which broke off diplomatic relations after Iran's revolution in 1979. It was the first such agreement in 10 years of negotiation attempts over Iran's nuclear program. "What happened over the last several weeks is by any standard extraordinary," Miller said. Kerry told CNN that it will be vital to verify Iran's compliance with the deal. "None of this is based on trust. It's not a question of trust," he said. "It's a question of having the verification and the intrusive inspections and the insights into the program and the commitments that can be held accountable, so that you are in fact creating a fail-safe mechanism by which you are making your judgments." Success or setback? Reactions to the breakthrough ran the gamut from joy in Iran to dismay in Israel. In a televised speech, Rouhani sold it as a win for his negotiators. "We are pleased after 10 years that an agreement on this level has been reached," he said. He played up the fact that the deal allows Iran to enrich uranium to a level making it usable as nuclear fuel. During the six months of the agreement, major facilities in Iran will continue doing so, he said. That level, 5% enrichment, is well below the level needed to make weapons. The deal also marks the beginning of the end of sanctions, Rouhani said. The announcement was extremely popular with Iranian citizens. They believe this is a golden opportunity to improve relations with the West. "Everyone in Iran is very happy," Ali, a factory manager, told CNN. "Iranian people want to cooperate with all countries so we can make a best life. ... Iranian people are not dangerous." He said life with sanctions has been difficult for young people like him. In the end, Iran's insistence that it has never sought nuclear weapons will be vindicated, Rouhani said, and that notion will go down as a "historical joke." Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, traditionally very distrustful of Western powers, seemed pleased. This could be the basis of intelligent actions of the future, he said. U.S. President Barack Obama took to live television to announce the deal as a success that includes "substantial limitations that will help prevent Iran from creating a nuclear weapon." Kerry has stressed that Iran will not be permitted to produce bomb-grade enriched uranium. But decades of mistrust run deep. Obama's Republican opponents in Washington scorned the deal, and key ally Israel frowned upon it. Both say it will have the opposite effect, advancing Iran's alleged quest for a bomb. "This agreement shows other rogue states that wish to go nuclear that you can obfuscate, cheat, and lie for a decade, and eventually the United States will tire and drop key demands," said freshman Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. Rubio has been touted as a potential presidential hopeful in the 2016 elections. Netanyahu: obligation to defend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adamantly distrusts Iran and decried the agreement as a "historic mistake" on Sunday. For decades, he has listened to Iranian leaders threaten the Jewish state, one even saying Israel should be wiped off the map. During the negotiations in Geneva, Khamenei responded to passionate Israeli skepticism by saying Israeli officials "cannot be even called humans" and referred to Netanyahu as "the rabid dog of the region." Now that sanctions are working, Netanyahu wants to see the thumbscrews tightened, not loosened, until Iran shuts down much of its nuclear capability, which Tehran claims it will only use for peaceful purposes. The agreement does not apply to Israel, he said Sunday. If need be, Israel will take matters into its own hands, he said. "The regime in Iran is dedicated to destroying Israel, and Israel has the right and obligation to defend itself with its own forces against every threat. I want to make clear as the prime minister of Israel, Israel will not let Iran develop a nuclear military capability." Israeli President Shimon Peres backed up Netanyahu's show of strength but also extended an olive branch. "I would like to say to the Iranian people: You are not our enemies and we are not yours. There is a possibility to solve this issue diplomatically," Peres said. He called on Iran to drop ambitions of acquiring a nuclear weapon and end support to terrorists threatening Israel. Kerry: Israel safer Kerry thinks Israel became safer from an Iranian threat on Sunday than it was on Saturday, he told CNN's Candy Crowley. "Israel is threatened by what has been going on in Iran," he conceded. But it is better to have a chance to put Tehran's program in reverse than to let it secretly roll forward toward creating a nuclear bomb. It's not about getting cozier with Iran, Kerry said. "We are open not to being duped and not to being tricked and not to being led down the primrose path, but open to setting up a verifiable, clear process," Kerry said. Washington skeptics In the weeks before the start of the negotiations, U.S. legislators appeared to be obliging Netanyahu, as they considered loading new sanctions onto the Islamic Republic. If that happens, Obama may have to veto them, Kerry said. New sanctions would torpedo the deal. But Kerry said he will assure Congress the deal supports its goal of preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Obama has said that the agreement only involves some of the sanctions, leaving the toughest ones in place. The agreement is not about trusting Iran, it is about being able to verify the country's compliance, a White House official said. The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said it is ready to inspect and monitor Iran's nuclear activities. It called the new deal a "another important step forward." If things go sour, all options are still on the table, Obama has said, including military strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities. Obama understands how Israel in particular feels about Iran, a senior administration official said. "You can be sure that President Obama will speak to Prime Minister Netanyahu" on Sunday. He may also need to have a conversation with Saudi Arabia, which has lasting tensions with Tehran and has been at odds with Obama over much of his Middle East policy. The government expressed displeasure Sunday with the preliminary deal. "The Saudi government has been very concerned about these negotiations with Iran and unhappy at the prospect of a deal with Iran," a Saudi government official who is not authorized to speak to the media told CNN. All about enrichment The White House and Zarif both insist that the agreement meets their expectations on the issue of uranium enrichment. Iran has consistently said it is enriching uranium and building nuclear reactors only for peaceful civilian energy needs. Nuclear power plants use uranium that is enriched to 5%. It's the fuel that the plants use to generate electricity. The White House has said enrichment may not go above that. Iran must also dilute to below 5%, or convert to a form not suitable for further enrichment, its entire stockpile of near-20% enriched uranium before the end of the initial phase of the deal. It may not turn on certain centrifuges, the devices used to enrich uranium, that have not yet been brought on line. This is in line with the terms of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which Iran has signed onto. It requires Tehran not to create nuclear weapons or enable other countries to obtain them. Iran has also agreed to what Kerry described as "unprecedented international monitoring" of its nuclear program. The Rouhani difference This final round of negotiations in Geneva stretched on for four days, but began months ago in secrecy, shortly after Rouhani replaced Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iran's president earlier this year. Ahmadinejad's foreign policy rhetoric was marked by caustic jabs at the United States and bellicose threats toward Israel. He railed against economic sanctions and drove the advancement of nuclear technology. Rouhani has struck a more conciliatory tone and made the lifting of sanctions against his country a priority. U.S. and Iranian officials for months have been holding private, previously secret discussions to generate ideas for the wider nuclear negotiations, a senior Obama administration official confirmed Saturday. The Americans briefed their P5+1 colleagues. It led to formal negotiations in Geneva. Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, led the working negotiations to their near conclusion. Then, to pound out difficult details, she called in the heavy lifters on Saturday: Kerry, his British counterpart William Hague, France's foreign minister Laurent Fabius, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Russia's foreign policy chief, Sergey Lavrov. Shortly after 3:00 a.m. local time Sunday, a tweet from a European diplomat let on that there was a deal. An hour later, an Iranian colleague followed suit. Minutes later, Ashton made the official announcement. A diplomatic mountain had been moved. :view: Source: Read more on CNN | Washington Post
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