News in France
News in France
Libya tensions sent fresh shockwaves across financial markets on Thursday, as equities fell, oil soared close to $120 and the dollar plunged to a record low against the safe-haven Swiss franc.
Europe’s main stock markets extended recent losses, with sentiment plagued by Libya where leader Moamer Kadhafi is clinging onto power but his opponents appear to be in control of swathes of the nation.
AFP – A robot freighter laden with seven tonnes of supplies was set to dock on Thursday with the International Space Station (ISS), its European controllers said here on Thursday.
The unmanned vessel, the Johannes Kepler, was scheduled to team up with the ISS at 1547 GMT after an eight-day orbital flight covering some four million kilometres (2.5 million miles).
“The ship is behaving admirably,” said Martial Vanhove, director at the European Space Agency’s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) operations centre in Toulouse, southwestern France.
Navigating by starlight and using onboard thrusters, the ship has been crawling towards the ISS, which is orbiting at an altitude of about 350 kilometres (218 miles).
Four hours before docking, it was around 40 kilometres (25 miles) behind and five kilometres (2.5 miles) below the station, ESA said.
The giant cylindrical vessel is ESA’s second ATV. The first, the Jules Verne, was hoisted into space in 2008.
The 20-tonne vehicle is designed to supply the ISS with air, food and spare parts and lift the sprawling station — which, tugged by Earth’s atmosphere, has lost altitude — by some 50 kilometres.
Once emptied of its cargo, the Johannes Kepler will then be used as a spare room and for storage, easing cramped conditions for the ISS crew.
In early June, the ATV will undock, laden with rubbish, human waste and unwanted hardware, and then go on a suicide plunge, burning up over the South Pacific.
ESA is contracted to build five ATVs under its contract with the US-led project.
Anglo-Dutch energy giant Shell said Monday it agreed to sell most of its African downstream activities to Swiss group Vitol and Africa-based Helios Investment Partners for $1 billion (740 million euros).
The energy major, which is seeking to sell non-core assets, said in a statement that it would create two new joint ventures under the proposed deal.
“Shell today announced it has agreed to divest the majority of its shareholding in most of its downstream businesses in Africa to Vitol and Helios Investment Partners for a total consideration of some $1 billion,” it said.
“One joint venture will own and operate Shell’s existing oil products, distribution and retailing businesses in 14 African countries, with the potential to add five more in future,” it added.
“Vitol and Helios will hold 80 percent of the venture and Shell will hold the remaining 20 percent.
“A separate company will own and operate Shell’s existing lubricants blending plants in seven countries and will manage macro-distributor relationships in each of the countries where the main venture operates, plus a number of others.”
The second joint venture company will be 50 percent owned by Shell and 50 percent by Vitol and Helios.
Six-year-old twins Alessia and Livia Schepp have been missing since their father was found dead on Thursday.
An international search for twin girls whose father apparently killed himself was broadened today as Swiss police searched homes, boats and the waters of Lake Geneva.
Matthias Kaspar Schepp, 43, was found dead near a railway station near Bari in southern Italy on Thursday. Schepp had picked up his daughters, Alessia and Livia, six, from their mother’s home in Lausanne on 28 January. He then drove through France and Italy.
Authorities believe Schepp, a Swiss resident of Canadian origin who was separated from his wife, threw himself under a train. About 40 Swiss police investigators, along with officers from France and Italy, are involved in the search for the girls, who lived in Lausanne with their mother, Irina Lucidi, 44.
Swiss police said police in Marseilles had established Schepp bought tickets for himself and his daughters to catch a ferry to Propriano, in Corsica, but they were unable to determine whether they had boarded it.
Swiss police have searched the parents’ homes and talked to people in 60 homes in St-Sulpice.
They examined four boats in the nearby ports of Morges and Vidy along Lake Geneva and petrol stations between St-Sulpice and Geneva, about 31 miles away.
A helicopter swept over the lake today.
“For now, these controls have failed to track down the two girls,” Sauterel said.
Police said yesterday they believed Schepp drove the girls in a Swiss-registered black Audi A6 through Annecy, France, and to Marseille last week.
Both girls were described as wearing glasses and blue jeans, with Alessia dressed in a white jacket over a striped shirt and Livia dressed in a purple ski jacket over a green T-shirt. Authorities have urged anybody with information to come forward.
France welcomes the commencement, as scheduled, of the referendum on self-determination in Southern Sudan. The holding of a free and transparent referendum constitutes an important step towards the full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, signed in 2005 in Naivasha. We urge the parties concerned to honor their commitment to allowing the ballot to take place in an atmosphere of calm.
Famed journalist and writer Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, who has more than 30 years of broadcasting experience under his belt and is a household name in his native France, has been accused by a leading French newspaper of plagiarism in his upcoming biography of US writer Ernest Hemingway (to be released January 19).
Springbok dope-case duo Bjorn Basson and Chiliboy Ralepelle were cleared to play again Friday by a South African Rugby Union (SARU) judicial committee.
Two journalists have questioned the robustness of aviation security throughout France after successfully boarding domestic flights from two of the country’s busiest airports armed with a weapon concealed in their hand-luggage.
Linda Bendali and Mathieu Lere, filming a special report for France 2 television channel, boarded a morning flight from Charles de Gaulle to Nice on November 8 and returned to Paris from Marseille airport without being stopped by any of the passenger screening controls put in place by airport authorities.
What makes the report so alarming is both the ease with which the 9-mm semi-automatic handgun was disassembled, placed into two separate pieces of hand-luggage and carried onto the plane, and the incredibly close occurrence of the incidents, both happening within hours of each other.