SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algeria's president, has been taken to France for examinations after a minor stroke but is not experiencing any lasting effects, according to a state media report.
Bouteflika, 76, was taken to Paris for "further tests under the recommendation of his doctor", APS news agency said on Saturday citing a medical source who said the president's condition was stable.
Bouteflika had a brief blockage of a blood vessel - called a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) - around noon, Rachid Bougherbal, director of the National Centre of Sports Medicine, told APS earlier.
"His excellency the president of the republic must observe a period of rest for further examinations," Bougherbal said, adding that "there was no reason for worry".
APS said Bouteflika had the TIA, or mini-stroke, at 12:30pm (11:30 GMT) on Saturday.
According to the American Stroke Association, a TIA is caused by a temporary blood clot and lasts just a short time and "usually causes no permanent injury to the brain".
However, a third of those suffering from TIA, also known as "warning strokes", go on to have a full stroke within the next year, according to website of the association.
Elected in 1999, Bouteflika is a member of a generation of leaders who have ruled Algeria since winning independence from France in a 1954-62 war.
They also defeated religiously conservative armed groups in the 1990s and saw off the challenge of Arab Spring protests two years ago, with Bouteflika's government defusing unrest through pay rises and free loans for young people.
Bouteflika has served three terms as president and is thought unlikely to seek a fourth at an election due in 2014.
Elected president in 1999 and re-elected in 2004 and 2009, Bouteflika had a previous health scare in 2005, when he underwent surgery in Paris for a bleeding ulcer.
Leaked US diplomatic cables said in 2011 that Bouteflika had been suffering from cancer, but that it was in remission.
It is unknown who might take over Africa's biggest country, an OPEC oil producer which supplies a fifth of Europe's gas imports and co-operates with the West in combating the rise of religious extremism.
Impatient with gerontocracy
More than 70 percent of Algerians are aged under 30.
About 21 percent of young people are unemployed, the International Monetary Fund says, and many are impatient with the gerontocracy ruling a country where jobs, wages and housing are urgent concerns.
The health of Bouteflika is a central factor in the stability of the North Africa nation of 37 million people that is emerging from a long conflict against armed Muslim fighters.
On January 16, a band of al-Qaeda-linked fighters attacked Algeria's in Amenas gas plant and took dozens of foreign workers hostage.
After a four-day standoff, the army moved in and killed 29 attackers and captured three others.
At least 37 hostages, including one Algerian worker, died in the battle.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Visitors were evacuated from Paris's Eiffel Tower last night after an anonymous phone call announcing an attack.
About 1,400 people were removed and a security perimeter was set up around the monument. Security guards were also ordered to leave, a decision described as unusual.
Police then searched the area with sniffer dogs for possible explosives.
Security has recently been stepped up across France amid concerns about threats to France over its military campaign in Mali.
The call came from the Paris suburbs and threatened an attack at 9:30 pm (2030 GMT). The anti-terrorism unit is investigating.
Bomb alerts targeting monuments and public places happen frequently in the French capital, but all alerts are "treated very seriously," a police source told AFP.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Tens of thousands of French families, activists and conservatives have marched in Paris protesting against a bill that if passed would allow same-sex marriage and adoption. Police fired teargas to prevent protesters from entering the Champs Elysees.
Demonstrators gathered Sunday in the center of the French capital for a final mass protest against the controversial bill that if backed in the Senate during April’s, vote may become law as early as the summer. So far the draft has been passed in the lower house of parliament.
Currently French gay men and women are allowed to adopt as individuals if approved by social services.
Protestors demand the government withdraw the bill instead putting the issue to the public through project a referendum.
Over 60 percent of the French support gay marriage, though just under half support adoption by same sex couples.The law was a key electoral pledge by Hollande, but his critics say he has tried to push it through without broad public consensus.
Despite chilly weather, thousands opposed to French legislation lined a five-kilometer route leading to the Champs Elysees, from the Arc de la Defense to the Arc de Triomphe. Many were holding banners and chanting slogans against the introduction of the bill.
Flags unfolded from the balconies along the protesters’ route read "We want work not gay marriage," and "No to gayxtremism."
Earlier this week Paris police banned protesters from demonstrating on the Champs Elysees, a move that demonstrators called “political decision dressed up as a police measure”.
Despite the ban some 200 protesters still tried to proceed to the world-famous avenue, provoking police officers to use teargas, AFP photographers said.
Sunday, official police estimated the turnout at around 300,000; a similar rally in January officially drew about 340,000 people.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Would you willingly give your children horsemeat hamburgers for their tea?
The answer to that in most of the English-speaking world, even before the latest mislabelling tailspin, would have been an emphatic nay. To which the horses would no doubt respond with a grateful one of their own.
In France, the response would be more guarded. French horse-meat consumption has been in decline for decades, and today accounts for just 0.4% of all meat eaten.
But there are still 750 horse-butchers operating in the country, 17% of the population claim to have eaten horse at some time or another, and about 11,000 farmers continue to raise horses for the meat trade.
Professionals say they believe the worst of the decline is over. For the last two years horse-eating has been - excuse the pun - stable.
"We have had to endure a lot of attacks," says Yves Berger, president of the National Association of Meat-Producers Interbev. "Every year our opponents mount major publicity campaigns to tell people not to eat horse."
"But what we have noticed is the effect of these campaigns is diminishing. More and more, we see that people want to keep an open mind about eating horse - which is as it should be."
Coinciding with - and possibly contributing to - this stabilisation of the market is a new gastro-trend among Paris foodies.
A handful of chefs have started putting horse on their menus. Go to Les Tontons, for example, opposite the former Paris horse abattoir in the 15th arrondissement, and you can be served a succulent horse tartare (raw horse with egg and seasoning).
"Of course, it is perfectly apt because the original steak tartare was horse. The Mongol tribesmen ate their own horses and tenderised the steak under their saddles," says owner Jean-Guillaume Dufour.
Actually there is no historical evidence for this, but who wants to spoil a good story?
"My mission is to tell the world that you can sit on your meat and eat it too," he enthuses.
"Yes I know horses are pretty and friendly and so on. But cows would be, too, if we let them."
Other hip restaurants - such as Le Taxi Jaune, Le Verre Vole and Septime - serve horse carpaccio, horse hamburgers with quail's eggs, or straightforward horse steaks.
One chef, Bertrand Grebaut, caused a minor sensation at a recent culinary event when he carved and cooked a horse's heart - live on a big screen - in front of an audience of fellow cooks and food-writers.
"There's definitely something going on - a kind of buzz," says Dorian Nieto, food blogger, horse-meat aficionado, and author of La boucherie chevaline etait ouverte le lundi (The horse-butcher was open on Mondays), a celebration of horse-eating.
"A number of restaurateurs have told me they are checking out where to buy top-quality horsemeat. It's all about a return to old values, a kind of nostalgia. And yes it is all rather trendy and Parisian. But there's a frisson, no question about it."
Given how strongly identified France is with the practice of horse-eating, the history of l'hippophagie is actually quite short.
In the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) it is said that - by necessity rather than desire - French soldiers developed a certain taste for cheval.
But it was only in 1866 that horse-eating was permitted by law. Thanks to an alliance of nutritionists, social reformers and, funnily enough, animal welfare supporters, the practice was actively promoted.
The 1870-71 siege of Paris by invading Prussians was a turning-point. Many people tasted horse for the first time, as thousands of the animals were slaughtered. It turned out people quite liked it.
Horsemeat contains essential amino acids and polyunsaturated fats that help to reduce cholesterol.
Compared with other types of meat, it contains greater quantities of trace elements: calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, copper, magnesium, silicon, zinc and nickel.
It is rich in group B, A, PP and E vitamins.
In the decades that followed l'hippophagie became increasingly popular, with a peak in 1911. Around this time, horses began to be imported because the French market was unable to supply enough.
Horse consumption was essentially a habit of the urban working and middle classes. Country people and the rich who had closer contact with the animals were more liable to feel qualms.
And overwhelmingly horse-eating was based in two regions - the north and around Paris.
After World War II the decline set in, and it became precipitate from the 1980s. Today, it is noticeable that most clients at boucheries chevalines are in their 60s or older, suggesting that young people find the practice difficult to stomach.
However butchers like Fabien Ouazan, who has a stall on the Cours de Vincennes market in Paris - are convinced the qualities of horsemeat will ensure its survival.
"With horsemeat, you know what you get," he says. "Other animals get fed all kinds of rubbish, but horses eat only oats, barley and hay.
"It shows in the meat. So a lot of people who are concerned about health and the quality of meat, are turning to the horse."
"A lot of horse breeds are disappearing. We no longer have any use for draught horses, for example, or the ponies that went down the mines," he says.
"So either we let these breeds die out. Or we preserve them, by eating them."
According to Yves Berger of Interbev, large parts of the French countryside are maintained by small-scale farmers breeding draught horses for the meat market.
"Without these horses, the fields would go back to forest," he says.
France produces roughly what it consumes in the way of horsemeat (18,000 tonnes a year).
But, in fact, most of the meat that is reared in France is not eaten there, but exported to Italy - the Italians (who actually eat more than twice as much horsemeat as the French) like young horses.
Meanwhile the French - who prefer older, redder horse-meat - import most of what they eat from the US and Canada, where it is not eaten by humans but is sometimes fed to pets.
At Fabien Ouazan's stall, the enthusiasm of the customers is catching. Evidently, none has the slightest queasiness about their choice of nutrition.
"I have been eating horse since I was a child," says one lady. "It is very tender, no fat, and full of minerals.
"Why should I care that it is a horse? We eat chickens, we eat cuddly rabbits and baby lambs. What's the difference?"
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Three Kurdish women activists have been found dead with bullet wounds to the neck and chest in the Kurdistan information centre in Paris.
One of the women found in the early hours of Thursday was said to be Sakine Cansiz, a co-founder of the Kurdistan Workers' party (PKK).
Officials in Turkey have been holding talks with the PKK's jailed leader, Abdullah Öcalan, to persuade the group to disarm. The decades-long conflict between the Turkish state and the PKK has killed about 40,000 people since the 1980s.
Another victim of the Paris shootings, Fidan Dogan, was part of the Kurdistan National Congress, based in Brussels. The third was a young activist.
Kurdish groups in Turkey said the murders could be part of an attempt to sabotage the peace talks. Mehmet Ali Ertas, an activist and journalist at the pro-Kurdish news agency DIHA in Diyarbakir, said: "These murders happened during a pivotal moment. Military operations [against the PKK] and the talks [with Öcalan] are both ongoing.
"It looks like someone is trying to impede on the possibility of a peace process, like someone wants to create chaos."
Ihsan Kaçar, head of the Istanbul Human Rights Association, said the murders could have been an attempt to undermine the positive reaction in Turkey to the nascent peace process. "I was very hopeful about the talks with Öcalan, but after reading about the killings in Paris, these hopes have been shattered," he said.
The bodies were discovered on the first floor of the building in Paris's 10th arrondissement just before 2am after one woman's partner, concerned he could not contact her, called police.
The French interior minister, Manuel Valls, visited the scene and described the killings as intolerable and unacceptable. He said French anti-terror police would help with the inquiry.
French police sources told reporters that the crime scene suggested "an execution", but the circumstances and motive remain unclear. "The only certainty for the moment is that this is a triple homicide," a French police spokesperson told TF1 news.
The shooting is believed to have taken place late on Wednesday afternoon, but the bodies were not discovered until the early hours of Thursday morning.
The building where the women were found is said to have housed an office of the Kurdistan information centre of Paris, though there was no door plaque identifying the building, situated between a Bengali grocer and a mobile phone shop on a busy street near Paris's Gare du Nord. The blinds and net curtains of the first-floor windows were closed and riot police guarded the door.
At midday around 200 Kurdish protesters gathered outside the building with flags of Öcalan, shouting: "We are all the PKK." One 25-year-old protester, who said his parents were political activists, said: "The community is in shock. We all knew these women.
"There are so many Kurdish political refugees in France. If we can't feel safe here where can we feel safe? This killing was clearly well organised. Unfortunately this is a dirty war. The feeling among this crowd is that this killing was done to sabotage the peace talks."
In Istanbul, Asiye Kolçak, of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy party, said: "Sakine Cansiz was an activist and a revolutionary in the Kurdish women's struggle for 40 years. [Her murder] is an attack also on Kurdish women's struggle for freedom."
She added: "We also hold the French government responsible for this, and we expect the French government to thoroughly investigate the killings, and bring the murderers to justice."
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – The manager of an Apple store in Paris’s Opera district had a major headache to deal with on New Year's Day, but it had nothing to do with any partying the night before.
Armed robbers raided an Apple store in Paris’s Opera district on New Year’s Eve, making off with goods worth around a million euros ($1.32 million) in the process.
It seems the criminals chose their moment carefully, mindful of the fact that the police had their attention focused on the nearby Champs-Elysées where thousands were enjoying New Year celebrations.
Carrying handguns, around four or five masked raiders entered the store at about 9pm, three hours after it had closed for business. While some reports suggest they overpowered a security guard, others say it was a janitor who was targeted as he was leaving the store for the night.
The gang reportedly went for goods in the stock room rather than items on display, taking around 40 minutes to load up a waiting a truck. Items including iPhones, iMacs, iPads and laptops were taken in the raid.
“They prepared their coup pretty well,” Christophe Crépin of the French police Unsa told the media, adding that as “the essential bulk of police forces were mobilized to patrol the Champs-Elysées, the thieves clearly profited from the opportunity to make their move.”
Initial reports suggest goods worth a million euros were taken, though Paris police said the exact figure won’t be known until a full inventory has been taken. According to the Wall Street Journal, the New Year’s Eve crime marks the first time a major robbery of this nature has taken place at an Apple store in France. - www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Dozens of protesters have occupied the Vatican embassy in Paris to voice their support for a number of undocumented migrants on hunger strike who were thrown out of the church.
According to AFP, on Monday, several dozen demonstrators occupied the offices of the embassy in the French capital, carrying banners that read, “Jesus defended the stranger. What have you, Christian, done for your undocumented brothers?”
The embassy, known as the Apostolic Nuncio, has confirmed the occupation. However, it made no immediate comment on the incident.
No injuries have been reported. Security forces have also been stationed near the place.
The demonstration was held in support of a group of around 50 undocumented migrants, mainly Algerian, who have been on hunger strike since November asking to be regularized.
On December 21, police forces removed the migrants from a church in France’s northern city of Lille.- www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – The world famous Paris museum Louvre said its new Islamic art wing helped cement its position as the world's most-visited museum with nearly 10 million visitors in 2012, over a million more than last year.
The exact figures will be released early next year, but in the meantime the Paris museum said there was a "remarkable progression in Chinese visitors, who now figure in the top three groups (of non-French visitors) alongside Americans and Brazilians".
Next came Italians and Germans, it said in a statement that noted that its website had seen more than 11 million visitors and that its Facebook page had 800,000 followers.
The museum's new wing of Islamic art, with about 3000 precious works from the seventh to the 19th centuries, opened to the public in September and since then has attracted 650,000 visitors.
Costing nearly 100 million euros ($A126 million), it is funded by the French government and supported by endowments from Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Kuwait, Oman and Azerbaijan.- www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Hundreds of striking Air France employees have clashed with French police during a demonstration inside Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.
On Saturday, waiting passengers were knocked down by the quarrel, which took place in one of the airport's overcrowded departure halls at the start of a nationwide two-week school vacation.
The workers have been staging a three-day strike since Friday to protest against a decision by Air France management aiming to cut 10 percent of the airline’s workforce which currently stands at 70,000.
The strike, which is scheduled to last until Sunday, has already delayed some flights at several airports across the country.
The airline reportedly wants to lay-off staff, replace long-term contracts by short-term ones and save 2 billion euros by 2015.
Air France reported net losses of 895 million euros in the second quarter of 2012.
France National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) reported on October 5 that the country's unemployment rate will hit a new record high of 10.2 percent at the end of 2012, the highest level since 1999.
Also on October 9, outraged demonstrators protested against planned job cuts at auto-giant Peugeot in Paris.
Europe plunged into financial crisis in early 2008. Insolvency now threatens heavily debt-ridden countries such as Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Ireland.
The worsening debt crisis has forced the EU governments to adopt harsh austerity measures and tough economic reforms, which have triggered incidents of social unrest and massive protests in many European countries. — www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Thousands of demonstrators have marched peacefully in Paris to denounce austerity measures in Europe that have sparked violent protests in other EU countries struggling to avert fiscal crises.
The march organized largely by the "Left Front" party and the Communists comes ahead of the French parliament's debate this week on a European fiscal treaty, The Associated Press reported.
The treaty would set up the European Stability Mechanism bailout fund that European leaders hope will help calm a debt crisis that threatens the euro zone and the global economy.
The main conservative opposition party and most of President Francois Hollande's Socialist Party back the treaty. But it has splintered the French left: Far-left parties, the Greens and some dissident Socialists oppose it.
Austerity has fanned recent violence in places like Spain and Greece.
Greece has been at the epicenter of the eurozone debt crisis and is experiencing its fifth year of recession, while harsh austerity measures have left about half a million people without jobs.
One in every five Greek workers is currently unemployed, banks are in a shaky position, and pensions and salaries have been slashed by up to 40 percent.
Greek youths have also been badly affected, and more than half of them are unemployed.
The long-drawn-out eurozone debt crisis, which began in Greece in late 2009 and reached Italy, Spain, and France last year, is viewed as a threat not only to Europe but also to many of the world’s other more developed economies.
Battered by the global financial downturn, the Spanish economy collapsed into recession in the second half of 2008, taking with it millions of jobs. Unemployment is approaching 25 percent.
The worsening eurozone debt crisis has increased Spain's financing costs and the country is seeking a European Union bailout similar to the one Greece received.
On June 9, eurozone finance ministers agreed to lend 100 billion euros to Spain to save its teetering banks, which means more debt will be added to Madrid's already massive debt burden.
Economists say Spain has entered into a second recession. The country has imposed unpopular austerity measures and economic reforms in an effort to persuade its lenders that it is serious about decreasing its overblown deficit to 6.3 percent of gross domestic product in 2012 and 4.5 percent in 2013.— www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Tehran Times