Posts Tagged ‘france’

Two Tour riders hurt in shooting

July 18th, 2009 admin No comments

COLMAR, France (AP) — Tour de France organizers say two riders have been slightly injured in a shooting incident along the road of the 13th stage of the cycling classic in northeast France.

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Complete Yale courses now on iTunes U

July 18th, 2009 admin No comments

Filed under: iTS , Education , Odds and ends , iTunes , Podcasts What a great opportunity to brush up on controversies in Astrophysics, Game Theory, or France since 1871. Apple and Yale University have partnered to bring complete Yale courses to iTunes U and they are free for the clicking. Apple was already offering significant quantities of lectures and interviews from Yale, but now complete courses are being offered for free. For now, there are 13 complete courses online, one subject

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Viadeo Secures $5m More Funding, But How Does It Achieve Breakout?

July 17th, 2009 admin No comments

Viadeo, aLinkedIn and Xing competitor, has secured $5m of funding from French investment houses AGF, Ventech and other investors (including the wealthy Mulliez family) to accelerate growth and prep for potential acquisitions. The business social network is best known in France, but it’s planning to expand its existing foothold in emerging markets like China, India and Mexico. The latest investment takes the total money it has raised since 2006 to $23m. AGF and Ventech were previous investors. Although this market is seeing a lot of “down round” investments right now (a down round is where investors purchase stock from a company at a lower valuation than previously) I am assured by Viadeo that this is not the case here. The question is whether or not this new momentum can deliver traction and a breakout position.

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Nimbuzz Releases Mac Desktop Client, iPhone App Updates

July 16th, 2009 admin No comments

In a move that will appeal to many of its Apple-loving users, Nimbuzz has simultaneously launched an updated Apple’s Iphone / iPod Touch application and a shiny new desktop client for Macs. The company offers a social messenger service that lets people access IM and social networks with one set of credentials from a single location and thus competes with a slew of other companies on both the mobile and desktop front.

Nimbuzz has released a new version of its Apple’s Iphone application (iTunes link), which has already proven to be quite a hit on the platform: the app has consistently done well on App Store ranking charts in a wide variety of countries worldwide. In the startup’s home turf The Netherlands as well as in France, Nimbuzz claims 1 out of 5 Apple’s Iphone or iPod Touch owners have installed and use the tool on a regular basis.

The new version of the app brings file-sharing in the cloud capabilities, VoIP calling on a range of IM networks (both over Wi-Fi and 3G) and push notification with home screen alerts of both incoming calls or chats through Nimbuzz or third-party networks like Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and Google Talk. Finally, the Apple’s Iphone app now boasts location-awareness, which allows Nimbuzz contacts to share and retrieve their physical locations on a Google map.

The Mac desktop client is nothing spectacular but it doesn’t hurt to have another decent, good-looking IM and social network aggregator application for Apple PCs. The unified app supports connections via Facebook, AIM, MySpace, Google Talk (Orkut), Yahoo! Messenger, Windows Live Messenger (MSN), ICQ and more. Nimbuzz says its product for Mac is the only IM product to provide high-quality VoIP calling direct from the desktop among IM buddies on Nimbuzz and the more popular IM networks.

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F-Secure Buys Online Storage Startup Steek For $38.8 Million

July 15th, 2009 admin No comments

Finnish PC security provider F-Secure has acquired venture-backed French startup Steek for €27.5M (approx. $38.75 million) in cash with the possibility of a further performance-based payment of up to €2.5M ($3.5 million) next year. Steek was backed by Innovacom, which financed the startup’s $4 million Series A round mid-2006 and later joined AGF Private Equity in a $8 million Series B round.

Sleek offers integrated online multimedia data storage, file sharing, and automated backup solutions to individuals and SMEs. More interesting for F-Secure however is that fact that the startup boasts a strong white label operator partner network that includes major corporations like SFR (France), Virgin Media (UK), Singtel (Singapore) and Terra (Spain).

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Paul LeGendre: The Ilan Halimi Murder Trial: Moving Beyond Hatred?

July 15th, 2009 admin No comments

On Friday, July 10, the leader of a Paris gang was sentenced to life in prison for torturing and murdering a young Jewish man, Ilan Halimi.

In February 2006, Halimi was kidnapped, tortured and killed because he was a Jew. He was held captive for twenty-four days during which he was stabbed and burned with cigarettes and acid before being found naked and handcuffed to a tree.

The murder of Ilan Halimi sparked outrage in the international community. Human rights and community groups urged then-President Jacques Chirac to ensure that Halimi’s murderers were brought to justice. More than three years later, some level of justice and accountability was achieved with Friday’s court decision.

Although Human Rights First does not take a position on the adequacy of sentencing decisions in individual cases, there have been mixed reactions to the verdict and sentencing of the twenty-seven defendants. On the one hand, the murderer, Yousseuf Fofana, was sentenced to life imprisonment – the maximum sentence prescribed by the French criminal code. On the other hand, the Halimi family lawyer Francis Szpiner told reporters that he was “scandalized” that other suspects received relatively light sentence recommendations. Some Jewish organizations in France called for a mass gathering outside the Justice Ministry to protest against “too-lenient court sentencing” for the gang of youths. Beyond Fofana, twenty-four other members were handed sentences ranging from six months suspended to 18 years in prison. Two were acquitted. Fofana’s two main accomplices were sentenced to 15 and 18 years respectively, while a young woman who lured Halimi to his place of captivity will spend nine years in jail. On July 13, in apparent response to complaints of lenient sentences, French Justice Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie called for a new trial of 14 of Fofana’s accomplices in the murder of Halimi.

A guilty verdict and appropriate sentencing cannot bring back a life senselessly lost. However, the criminal justice process can send a strong message that society will not tolerate these crimes which weaken the sense of physical security felt by victim communities and attack the fundamental values of democratic societies.

A strong criminal justice response can also help families in their own recovery process. PBS is currently showcasing a documentary “Beyond Hatred” about a hate crime trial in France. Reviewed by Human Rights First, as well as by the mother of Matthew Shepard – a college student brutally attacked and left to die in Wyoming because he was gay – the film follows the struggle of another young man’s family to seek justice in a vicious homophobic murder, highlighting the importance of criminal justice for the family’s grieving process. The film’s story begins in September 2002, when three skinheads were roaming a park in Rheims, France, looking to “do an Arab,” when they settled for a gay man instead. Twenty-nine-year-old François Chenu was beaten unconscious and thrown into a river, where he drowned. “Beyond Hatred,” which you can watch online in its entirety, tells the story of the crime’s aftermath, following the Chenu family’s brave and heartrending struggle to seek justice while trying to make sense of such pointless violence and unbearable loss. With remarkable dignity, they fight to transcend hatred and the inevitable desire for revenge.

Hate crimes are a daily reality all over the European continent–in fact, around the world. People suffer violence because they are black, Jewish, Roma or Muslim or because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. As Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg stated, “hate crimes [are] the ugly face of racism, antisemitism, anti-Gypsyism, Islamophobia and homophobia.” In a most recent reminder of this “ugly face,” last week in a German courtroom, 32-year-old Marwa El Sherbini, a pregnant Muslim woman, was stabbed to death by a man with a history of anti-Muslim prejudice. The murder took place in front of Marwa’s three-year-old son, and her husband was mistakenly shot and wounded by German police as he tried to subdue the attacker.

Government authorities have a responsibility to vigorously respond to these shameful and serious crimes. Authorities must send a clear, consistent message condemning all forms of bias-motivated violence without reservation and reasserting their commitment to combat it. They must equip police, prosecutors and judges with the resources and training necessary to investigate these crimes, thoroughly prosecute them before a court of law, and hand down sentences that reflect their harm to society. Though there is far too little accountability in most hate crime cases, the investigations and trials into the murders of Ilan Halimi and François Chenu illustrate the important role of the criminal justice authorities in confronting this rising tide of hate violence and protecting those at risk to it.

Paul LeGendre is the Director of the Fighting Discrimination program at Human Rights First. Join them at and

Frances Beinecke: Why We Can’t Wait for the Perfect Climate Bill

July 15th, 2009 admin No comments

Right now, we are the closest the United States has ever come to confronting the crisis of global warming. The House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, and now the Senate will consider similar legislation. It will be a tough fight, but this is our best chance to bring clean energy solutions to America before it is too late.

ACES is a good bill that needs to be strengthened. NRDC is working relentlessly to achieve that as the bill moves through the Senate. And we will continue to bolster it even after it has passed into law.

But here is what we will not do: we will not sit this bill out. We will not wait another year or another Congressional session in order to begin drafting a different climate bill that may have a few more provisions we like.

The Earth simply doesn’t have that luxury. We have no more time to waste.

The last few months have brought an avalanche of climate data, culminating with the administration’s analysis that the effects of global warming are already upon us and a recent MIT study that found the planet is warming twice as fast as previously thought.

Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the Nobel-Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said: “If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future.”

He made this comment two years ago.

We have passed the point of waiting to tackle global warming until some indefinite, ideal time in the future. And we have passed the point of speculating about other mechanisms, such as the even-more politically charged proposal of a carbon tax.

In order to prevent the worst effects of global warming from becoming inevitable, we must start reducing carbon pollution right now.

The ACES bill gets us moving down that path. It will lower carbon emissions by 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050 (the latter figure is higher than the target Obama proposed on the campaign). The bill will also unleash billions of dollars of investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency measures, and clean-car technology.

And make no mistake: it is the strongest bill we can get through Congress. Indeed, it is too strong for many members, and getting it passed will require the efforts of all Americans concerned about clean energy and climate security, including well-intentioned fence-sitters.

Going forward, we can continue working together to fortify the bill if it becomes law. I am reassured by one critical element of the ACES draft: the science “look-backs.” These dictate that if new scientific evidence comes in after the bill has pass that calls for stronger action, our lawmakers can tighten the pollution constraints.

This mechanism has already proven effective. Soon after the Montreal Protocol was ratified, scientists concluded that the treaty wasn’t strict enough, and the international community rapidly agreed to strengthen it.

But this only works when there is a framework already in place. That is what ACES gives us, and building the framework is always the hardest part.

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Les Premières Dames: France’s Improbably Chic First Ladies (SLIDESHOW)

July 14th, 2009 admin No comments

France: the great nation that gave us berets, wine, nasal sounds and Coco Chanel…and a collection of chic first ladies to admire. This Bastille Day, grab a croissant and celebrate the Premières Dames that transformed the Elysée Palace. From domestic deity Yvonne de Gaulle to supermodel Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, click through this style retrospective to learn a little bit about these seven women who make us adore la France.

Or look through Carla’s closet with her top twelve first lady looks.

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Maternal Mortality Gets Obama Spotlight While Aid Dollars Decline

July 14th, 2009 admin No comments

A roomful of pregnant women waiting for their prenatal care appointments at La General Hospital in Accra, Ghana, got a treat on Saturday when President Barack Obama stopped by to compliment the hospital’s maternal health services.

“Part of the reason this is so important is that throughout Africa, the rate of infant mortality but also maternal mortality is still far too high,” Obama told the pool of reporters following him. Ghana’s maternal mortality ratio is about 40 times that of the United States.

Obama’s visit put the spotlight on a United Nation’s Millenium Development Goal (MDG) that, according to a new report (PDF), has seen the least progress so far out of the collection of goals aimed at halving extreme poverty by 2015. The sluggish gains made in reducing maternal mortality over the past eight years – MDG 5 – may even be reversed, especially in the poverty-stricken countries of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. In fact, the global economic crisis could hamper progress on all eight of the targets established by world leaders in this “blueprint for a better world.”

“Maybe this is an opportunity,” notes Francesca Perucci, chief of Statistical Planning and Development for the U.N. Statistical Division, which coordinated data gathering and preparation of the 2009 report. “Maybe donor countries will finally start giving attention to the message that is loud and clear: We don’t see progress on MDG 5.”

The halfway progress assessment shows that the developing world still accounts for 99 percent of women who die from complications during pregnancy and childbirth. The U.N. and its partner agencies measure progress on maternal mortality by tracking cause of death and monitoring access to emergency obstetric care and prenatal visits. Over the last decade, the U.N. figures have barely changed.

So far, donor countries have expressed their intention to maintain the funding targets they set for the Millenium Development Goals in 2000, but the targets are a percentage of their gross domestic product and the actual dollar amount will be reduced as the economy contracts.

“You have to consider this is a time when the poorest countries will see their own internal domestic resources decrease, so they’ll need additional money, not less,” said Perucci. “If aid decreases, this will jeopardize any positive trends.”

The limited resources have led agencies to focus on projects that deliver immediate results, such as purchasing and delivering bed nets to reduce malaria. This will likely mean less less funding for equipping hospitals with staff that can treat pregnancy complications.

“With maternal mortality, you have to rethink the overall health system. It’s a lot more complicated,” said Perucci. To reduce maternal mortality, the U.N. suggests building more hospitals, improving transportation systems so that women can reach them in time, and informing expectant mothers of what they need to do when complications arise.

Access to family planning services could also improve maternal health. Contraceptive access hovers around 22 percent in sub-Saharan Africa, and is especially limited in refugee camps. But even these programs may be hard to expand. The U.N. report points out that funding gaps for family planning programs have been conspicuous since the mid-1990s.

Read more from WideAngle.

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French hackers unveil the HADOPI router: cracks nearby WiFi and makes your traffic traceable to your neighbors

July 12th, 2009 admin No comments

French hackers claim to have sabotaged Internet forensics by creating a firmware for routers that cracks nearby WiFi networks and routes your traffic through them at random, creating false trails leading to your neighbors instead of you. They’re calling it the HADOPI Router, in honor of Nicolas Sarkozy’s crazy Internet law of the same name.

HADOPI originally required ISPs to disconnect users after three unsubstantiated claims of copyright infringement (Princeton’s Ed Felten compared this to giving publishers the power to take away all the printed matter in your household if you were accused of committing three acts of illegal photocopying or cut-and-paste). The law was initially defeated in the French parliament, then it passed on reintroduction, only to be struck down by France’s high court on the grounds that it violated human rights.

Undaunted, Sarkozy has reintroduced the bill, on a fast track, with a provision that creates a five-minute judicial review prior to account termination, fines and imprisonment for those accused of illegal file-sharing. The French HADOPI Router hackers created their technology to highlight the unreliability of network forensics under the best of circumstances, and to create a veneer of plausible deniability for any accused: “Your honor, I must have been the victim of a neighbor with a HADOPI router.”

A hacker known only as ‘N’ says he has developed some software known as ‘Hadopi Router’, a term first penned by bloggers who devised the concept. ‘N’, who is said to have previously worked manufacturing routers, says he and a few friends wrote ‘Hadopi Router’ in order to prove that the evidence gathered by the Hadopi agency is unreliable.

“It locates Wi-Fi networks in the neighborhood, then begins to crack all their passwords,” says ‘N’. “Once we have the keys, we can create a virtual access point,” which in basic terms means using the Internet connection without the account holder’s knowledge.

‘N’ says that if an ‘owned’ router has its password changed, the system automatically switches to another Wi-Fi signal in the neighborhood and starts to attack the new password.

Additionally, ‘N’ claims that with Hadopi Router it is possible to monitor activity on the cracked networks but one of his accomplices called ‘V’ says they have no bad intentions.

Hackers Undermine Piracy Evidence With Hadopi Router