French Assembly Approves IVF For Single Women

 

France’s lower house of parliament approved Tuesday a sweeping bioethics bill to give single women and lesbians access to fertility treatments, a move which critics vowed to fight as the legislation moves to the Senate.

National Assembly lawmakers voted 359 to 114, with 72 abstentions, in favour of the first major social reform of President Emmanuel Macron’s term.

Macron pledged during his 2017 election campaign to support the bill despite deep resistance among rightwing opponents as well as conservative Roman Catholics and other religious groups.

“These measures, while respecting our ethical principles, recognise the family in all its diversity,” France’s health, justice and research ministers said in a joint statement after the vote.

But the text now heads in January to the Senate, where Macron’s centrist party is far outnumbered by the rightwing Republicans.

Tuesday’s vote “does not in any way mean this is done,” said Ludovine de la Rochere, president of the Protest for Everyone association which has spearheaded opposition to the bill.

Some 75,000 people demonstrated against the measure in Paris earlier this month, and de la Rochere said new protests were planned for November 30 and December 1, and again for January 19.

Her group had also mobilised massively in 2012 and 2013 against the legalisation by Macron’s Socialist predecessor Francois Hollande of marriage for homosexual couples.

But that law, which passed nonetheless, did not allow lesbian couples or single women to have children via in vitro fertilisation or other medically assisted means, long a taboo in France.

Many women have instead been forced to go abroad for such treatments, and French courts often refuse to recognise the second mother’s maternity rights in the case of same-sex couples.

Under the proposed law, France’s healthcare system would cover the cost of the procedure for all women under 43.

It would also allow children conceived with donated sperm to find out the donor’s identity when they turn 18, a change from the country’s strict donor anonymity protections.

– Domestic violence bracelets –

The assembly also voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to begin using ankle bracelets equipped with GPS trackers to ensure that violent husbands or boyfriends stay away from current or former partners who have reported domestic abuse.

Lawmakers used a fast-track procedure to move the text to the Senate, hoping the system will be in place early next year.

France has vowed to crack down on domestic violence after a series of killings of women by their male partners this year, and to create 1,000 new places in emergency shelters.

The interior ministry said 121 women were killed at the hands of current or former partners last year, a number which advocacy groups say has already been surpassed this year.

The ankle bracelets are already used in other European countries as well as some US states, where they have contributed to significant declines in fatal attacks.

In France, judges in both civil and penal courts will be able to order their use when imposing restraining orders.

Iran Arrests Opposition Figure ‘Directed By French Intel’

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press conference in New York on September 26, 2019.  Kena Betancur / AFP

 

Iran has arrested an opposition figure who had been “directed by France’s intelligence service” and he is now in custody in the Islamic republic, the Revolutionary Guards said on Monday.

Ruhollah Zam, who ran a “counter-revolutionary” Telegram channel, has been detained in a “sophisticated and professional operation” by the Guards’ intelligence organisation, the Guards said in a statement.

Zam reportedly lived in exile in Paris, but the Guards’ statement did not specify when or where he was arrested.

The Guards said he was “trapped” by its intelligence organisation.

It said this was despite the fact he had been “directed by France’s intelligence service and supported by intelligence services of America and the Zionist regime (Israel).”

The Guards said they managed to “deceive” foreign services and arrest him by “using modern intelligence methods and innovative tactics”.

It said the operation showed Iran’s enemies were “lagging behind” its own intelligence services.

Last year, Iran’s telecoms minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi demanded Telegram shut Zam’s Amadnews channel, saying it was inciting an “armed uprising”.

The channel, which had around 1.4 million followers, was later removed.

Telegram was the Islamic republic’s most popular social network with some 40 million users before it was blocked by the judiciary last year.

Authorities had temporarily banned the messaging app during a wave of protests in early 2018, saying it enabled foreign-based “counter-revolutionary” groups to stir tensions.

AFP

Macron, Merkel Call For End To Turkish Offensive In Syria

 

The leaders of France and Germany called Sunday for an end to Turkey’s offensive against Kurds in northern Syria, warning of dire humanitarian consequences and a boost for the Islamic State group.

Emmanuel Macron hosted Angela Merkel in Paris for a working dinner amid turmoil stirred up by Ankara’s attack and Britain’s pending exit from the European Union, both issues on the leaders’ agenda.

Macron told reporters the pair had spoken separately Sunday with US President Donald Trump and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan to deliver a single, clear message: “Our common wish is that the offensive must cease.”

“Our conviction… is that this offensive risks, and we see it already on the ground, to create unbearable humanitarian situations on one hand and on the other help IS re-emerge in the region,” he said at a joint press conference with the chancellor.

Merkel said she had spoken to Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan for an hour and told him: “We must put an end to this Turkish invasion.

“There are humanitarian reasons for this,” she said, adding: “We can no longer accept this situation against the Kurds. Another solution must absolutely be found.”

Fighting has engulfed northern Syria since Wednesday when Ankara launched a long-threatened offensive against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which it considers “terrorists” linked to insurgents in Turkey.

Trump has been accused of abandoning a loyal ally in the fight against IS after ordering American troops to pull back from the border region.

At least 60 civilians have been killed in raids by Turkey and its proxies — Syrian ex-rebels, according to observers.

The UN says the violence has forced 130,000 people to flee their homes.

Arms Sales Stopped

France and Germany on Saturday suspended weapons exports to Turkey, amid international condemnation that had already seen Finland, Norway and The Netherlands stopping arms sales to Ankara.

A meeting in Luxembourg Monday of the European Union’s foreign affairs committee will discuss a coordinated European approach to the issue.

Macron has also called a French defence council meeting, involving Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and the ministers of justice, foreign affairs, defence and the interior, for Sunday night.

The French president called for a stronger, more unified Europe in what he described as “difficult and sometimes worrying” times for the continent and the world.

One reason for this is Brexit — Britain’s exit from the European Union by a 31 October deadline with so far no “divorce deal” in place.

“We are about to lose a member and we will see how the discussions, which have advanced this weekend, will be finalised,” said Macron.

“In this context, it is very clear to me that we can allow ourselves neither division nor self-deception nor weakness.”

Rebuff

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday played down hopes of a breakthrough in his last-ditch bid to strike an exit deal with Europe.

On Monday, Macron will host European Council President Donald Tusk for a working lunch at the Elysee presidential residence, before heading to Toulouse in the south of France to lead a French-German ministers meeting with Merkel on issues of defence, security, and climate change.

On Wednesday evening, they will meet the EU’s incoming president Ursula von der Leyen, followed on Thursday and Friday by an EU leaders’ summit in Brussels.

One issue likely to come up is the rejection by European MEPs of Sylvie Goulard, Macron’s chosen candidate for the European Commission portfolio of industrial policy, defence spending, high-tech and space — a rebuff considered a major political blow to the French president.

“I believe very deeply that in this moment in particular, Europe cannot allow itself the luxury of vengeance, of small disputes, or to add internal crises to the tensions of the world already affecting us,” he said Sunday.

“Our strength is in our unity.”

Syria: France Suspends Arms Exports To Turkey

 

France has suspended all planned exports of “war materials” to Turkey that could be used in their offensive into Syria, said a statement from the foreign and defence ministries Saturday.

A meeting in Luxembourg Monday of the European Union’s foreign affairs committee will decide on a coordinated European approach to the issue, the statement said.

 

Teenager Killed In French Car Rally Accident

 

A teenager died Saturday and five people were injured when the driver of a car taking part in an auto rally in France ran into spectators.

The accident occured during the Rallye des Cardabelles in the southern French region of Millau as the driver was coming out of a hairpin bend, a local official said.

A 19-year-old man died on the spot while another teenager was flown by helicopter to Toulouse in a serious condition, Patrick Bernie told AFP.

The others injured included the driver and three other spectators.

The spectators were standing at a spot that was forbidden to the public, an AFP correspondent said.

Mbappe ‘Not Ready’ After Thigh Injury, Leaves France Squad

France’s forward Kylian Mbappe arrives for a training session in Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines, southwest of Paris on October 7, 2019 ahead of the Euro 2020 qualifying football match between Iceland and France. Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP

 

Kylian Mbappe has been ruled out of France’s Euro 2020 qualifiers against Iceland and Turkey and “needs more time” to recover from a thigh injury, coach Didier Deschamps said on Thursday.

The 20-year-old Paris Saint-Germain forward has not started a game since August.

France, who sit second in Group H, visit third-placed Iceland on Friday before hosting group leaders Turkey on Monday.

“He left for the simple reason that he wasn’t ready,” said Deschamps.

The France boss added that Mbappe “will need more time” and “wasn’t comfortable”.

Mbappe has been replaced in the squad by Borussia Moenchengladbach striker Alassane Plea, who made his only previous international appearance in a friendly against Uruguay last November.

World Cup-winner Mbappe initially returned with substitute appearances against Bordeaux last month and Galatasaray last week, but PSG coach Thomas Tuchel then said he “needed more treatment” before he missed the win over Angers.

Macron Asks Turkey To End Syria Offensive

French President Emmanuel Macron holds a press conference at the end of the Global Fund meeting to Fight HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria on october 10, 2019, in Lyon, central eastern France.  Ludovic MARIN / AFP

 

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday urged Turkey to immediately end its offensive against Kurdish forces in northern Syria, saying it risked boosting Islamic State (IS) extremists.

“I condemn vehemently the unilateral military offensive in Syria and I urge Turkey to put an end to it as quickly as possible,” Macron told reporters in the French city of Lyon.

“Turkey is today forgetting that the priority of the international community in Syria is the fight against Daesh and terrorism,” he said, using an alternative name for IS.

“It is creating a humanitarian risk for millions of people.”

Turkey risks “helping Daesh to rebuild its caliphate. And this responsibility is the responsibility of Turkey alone in front of the rest of the international community,” Macron said.

He was also asked to respond to a threat earlier Thursday by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to send millions of refugees in Turkey to Europe if the EU criticised the operation.

But an angry-looking Macron said that beyond his comments “I have nothing more to say on the subject”.

French officials have already been bitterly critical of the Turkish operation with Turkish ambassador Ismail Hakki Musa summoned to the foreign ministry in Paris on Thursday.

Turkey’s intervention has sparked international anger, raising fears of a new refugee crisis in northern Syria and concern that thousands of jihadists being held in Syrian Kurdish prisons could use the opportunity to escape.

The Turkish military, supported by Syrian proxies, launched the offensive against Kurdish-controlled areas in northeastern Syria on Wednesday, despite widespread international warnings.

After an initial phase of air strikes and artillery fire, troops moved across the border and attacked some of the key towns in the area.

France ‘Strongly Condemns’ Turkish Offensive In Syria

Turkish army soldiers drive towards the border with Syria near Akcakale in Sanliurfa province on October 8, 2019.  BULENT KILIC / AFP

 

France “strongly condemns” Turkey’s offensive in northeast Syria, European Affairs minister Amelie de Montchalin said Thursday, within minutes of Ankara launching cross-border strikes.

De Montchalin said France, Germany and Britain were working on a joint declaration “which will be extremely clear on the fact that we very strongly condemn” the Turkish campaign against Kurdish forces in northeast Syria.

The minister also told parliament’s foreign affairs commission that France would bring up the matter at the United Nations Security Council.

French President Emmanuel Macron had earlier expressed concern at the prospect of a Turkish army operation in areas controlled by the Kurdish forces, who have led the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria.

He hosted a senior Syrian Kurdish official, Ilham Ahmed, for talks on Tuesday “to show that France stands alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as they are partners in the fight against Daesh (IS) and that we are very worried by the possibility of a Turkish operation in Syria,” a presidential aide told AFP.

The SDF is dominated by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Ankara considers the YPG as an arm of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that has waged a three-and-a-half decade insurgency against Turkey.

AFP

Four Police Officers Killed In Paris Stabbing, Attacker Shot Dead

 

 

A man wielding a knife stabbed and killed four officers at the police headquarters in the heart of central Paris on Thursday, before being shot dead.

The premises were cordoned off after the lunchtime attack in the historic centre of Paris, usually thronged with tourists, and a dozens of police and emergency vehicles had converged at the scene, AFP journalists reported.

At least one metro station in the vicinity of the building, which is close to Notre-Dame cathedral and other major tourist attractions, was closed.

Sources told AFP the attacker was shot dead by police in the courtyard of the building, where he was employed.

The man worked in an administrative capacity but it was not immediately clear what his precise work role was.

An emergency message was broadcast over loudspeakers at the courthouse next door, announcing “an attack” at the police headquarters and stating the area was “under surveillance”.

Scenes of ‘panic’

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, who was due to visit Turkey later on Thursday, postponed his trip to visit the scene of the attack.

“People were running everywhere, there was crying everywhere,” said Emery Siamandi, and interpreter who was in the building when the attack happened.

“I heard a shot, I gathered it was inside,” he told AFP. “Moments later, I saw police officers crying. They were in a panic.”

Investigators suspect a workplace dispute sparked the deadliest attack on police in France in years, sources said, but there were no immediate further details.

The Paris prosecutor is at the scene, but anti-terror agencies have not been involved at this stage.

“Did he snap, or was there some other reason? It’s still too early to say,” Loic Travers, head of the Alliance Police union for the Paris region, told BFM television.

Succession of attacks

There was no immediate indication of the possible motives of the attacker.

France has been rocked since 2015 by a succession of attacks blamed on jihadists, which have included both large synchronised assaults and isolated knife and gun attacks, killing more than 250 people.

The country remains on high alert after these attacks.

In January 2015, two men armed with Kalashnikov rifles stormed the Paris offices of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people.

A policewoman was killed just outside Paris the following day, while a gunman took hostages at a Jewish supermarket, four of whom were killed.

On November 15 that year, France was hit by the worst terror attacks in its history.

Islamic State jihadists armed with assault rifles and explosives struck outside a France-Germany football match at the national stadium, Paris cafes, and the Bataclan concert hall in a coordinated assault that left 130 people dead and more than 350 wounded.

On July 14, 2016 a Tunisian ploughed a truck through a large crowd gathered for Bastille Day fireworks in the Mediterranean city of Nice. The attack killed 86 people and injured more than 400.

The attack at the police headquarters also came as tension grows within the ranks of the police force, who have been stretched to the limit by policing the “yellow vest” protests against President Emmanuel Macron and have themselves been accused of heavy-handed tactics.

Thousands of French police officers demonstrated in Paris on Wednesday for better working conditions in a rare protest by the force, against the backdrop of a spike in suicides within their ranks.

Organisers estimated that 27,000 officers took part, out of 150,000 police staff nationwide. No independent estimate was available.

Willian Grabs Chelsea Winner As Lampard Hails Impact Of Young Stars

 

Willian’s brilliant late strike gave Chelsea a precious 2-1 win away to Lille on Wednesday that they will hope kickstarts their Champions League campaign, but it was the young stars in Frank Lampard’s side who stole the show again.

The Brazilian volleyed home in the 78th minute to decide the game under the roof at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy on what was his 300th appearance for the club.

Tammy Abraham had earlier put Chelsea in front on his 22nd birthday with his eighth goal already this season, only for Victor Osimhen to equalise for Lille.

Chelsea are now off the mark in Group H after losing at home to Valencia a fortnight ago, although it is Ajax who continue to top the section with a maximum six points.

“Overall it was a good game. It’s never an easy place to play. Give it to the team, what a fantastic performance,” Abraham told BT Sport.

Lampard’s team face Ajax next and will do so with renewed belief after this victory.

“It is such a tough place — the roof was on, the crowd were up for it, the speed in their team and on the counter-attack especially was very evident, so we had to be ready for it and I thought our performance was really good,” said Lampard.

It was a game decided by one of the most experienced players on the pitch but which was bristling with exciting young talent as these clubs adjust to seeing their standout players — Eden Hazard on one side, Nicolas Pepe on the other — depart in the close season.

Lampard fielded two 24-year-olds as well as four more players aged 22 or under in his line-up here, as teenager Reece James started as a right wing-back in a 3-4-1-2 system.

James only made his top-team debut for the club a week ago in a League Cup tie against fourth-tier Grimsby Town. His second-half replacement, Callum Hudson-Odoi, set up the winner.

“This isn’t a game for niceties, we have to go and win these matches and improve all the time and there were loads of signs of team improvement tonight, and individuals,” Lampard added.

“The young players are responding and they have to keep doing it because the Champions League level is something else.”

Much has been made of Lampard’s promotion of youth this season in response to Chelsea’s transfer ban, although their team here also featured N’Golo Kante, with the France midfielder returning from his latest spell out.

Indeed, the average age of Chelsea’s team at kick-off was actually a year older than that of Lille.

Hudson-Odoi helps change game

Chelsea took a 22nd-minute lead when Fikayo Tomori’s ball into the box was not dealt with by the home defence, and Abraham — capped by England but eligible for Nigeria through his father — controlled and fire home.

Lille actually looked the better side going forward for long spells and Luiz Araujo was denied by a good Kepa Arrizabalaga save just after the half-hour.

Moments later they were level, Jonathan Bamba sending in a corner from the left for Osimhen, the gangly 20-year-old Nigerian striker signed in the summer, to head in his seventh of the campaign.

Jorginho struck the outside of the post with a first-time strike from range just before half-time, while Kepa tipped a Benjamin Andre header around the post early in the second half.

However, the introduction of Hudson-Odoi, the youngest of the lot at just 18, for James midway through the second half, and subsequent change of formation, breathed new life into the visitors.

Mason Mount was denied by Mike Maignan soon after, and just 12 minutes remained when winger Hudson-Odoi crossed from the left all the way to the back post where Willian connected with a volley that bounced down into the ground, over the goalkeeper’s head and in.

There was no way back for Lille, who have now failed to win any of their last 13 matches in Europe.

“They are used to playing matches like these every weekend, in Europe every season, and we saw the difference that exists between us,” said Lille coach Christophe Galtier.

UEFA Champions League Results – Collated

 

UEFA Champions League results on Wednesday:

Group E

At Genk, Belgium

Genk (BEL) 0 Napoli (ITA) 0

At Liverpool, England

Liverpool (ENG) 4 (Mane 9, Robertson 25, Salah 36, 69) Red Bull Salzburg (AUT) 3 (Hwang Hee-Chan 39, Minamino 56, Haaland 60)

Group F

At Prague

Slavia Prague (CZE) 0 Borussia Dortmund (GER) 2 (Hakimi 35, 89)

At Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona (ESP) 2 (Suarez 58, 84) Inter Milan (ITA) 1 (Martinez 2)

Group G

At Leipzig, Germany

RB Leipzig (GER) 0 Lyon (FRA) 2 (Depay 11, Terrier 65)

At Saint Petersburg, Russia

Zenit Saint Petersburg (RUS) 3 (Dzyuba 21, Dias 70-og, Azmoun 78) Benfica (POR) 1 (De Tomas 85)

Group H

At Lille, France

Lille (FRA) 1 (Osimhen 33) Chelsea (ENG) 2 (Abraham 22, Willian 78)

At Valencia, Spain

Valencia (ESP) 0 Ajax (NED) 3 (Ziyech 8, Promes 34, van de Beek 67)

Played Tuesday

Group A

At Madrid

Real Madrid (ESP) 2 (Ramos 55, Casemiro 85) Club Brugge (BEL) 2 (Dennis 9, 39)

At Istanbul, Turkey

Galatasaray (TUR) 0 Paris Saint-Germain (FRA) 1 (Icardi 52)

Group B

At Belgrade

Red Star Belgrade (SRB) 3 (Vulic 63, Milunovic 87, Boakye 90) Olympiakos (GRE) 1 (Semedo 37)

At London

Tottenham (ENG) 2 (Son 12, Kane 61-pen) Bayern Munich (GER) 7 (Kimmich 15, Lewandowski 45, 87, Gnabry 53, 55, 83, 88)

Group C

At Milan, Italy

Atalanta (ITA) 1 (Zapata 28) Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR) 2 (Moraes 41, Solomon 90+5)

At Manchester, England

Manchester City (ENG) 2 (Sterling 66, Foden 90+5) Dinamo Zagreb (CRO) 0

Group D

At Turin, Italy

Juventus (ITA) 3 (Higuain 17, Bernardeschi 62, Ronaldo 89) Bayer Leverkusen (GER) 0

At Moscow

Lokomotiv Moscow (RUS) 0 Atletico Madrid (ESP) 2 (Felix 48, Partey 58).

10-Fold Surge In S.Africa Teens Treated For HIV

 

The number of young people in South Africa receiving treatment for HIV has increased 10-fold within a decade, a major new study has found.

South Africa has the largest number of HIV-positive people in the world, with around 7.2 million carrying the virus, which causes AIDS.

Researchers studied more than 700,000 young people receiving treatment for the infection and found 10 times the number of adolescents aged between 15-19 being treated compared with 2010.

Authors of the study, published in The Lancet HIV journal attributed the rise partly due to the success of AIDS prevention programmes that result in better detection and treatment rates.

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However, they found that fewer than 50 percent of young South Africans who present for HIV care go on to initiate antiretroviral therapy, which can prevent transmission and stops a patient from developing AIDS.

“Despite the upswing in numbers initiating therapy, barriers persist that prevent many adolescents from starting treatment,” said Mhairi Maskew from the University of Witwatersrand and the report’s lead author.

These include concerns about stigma, a pervasive sense that clinics cannot guarantee patient confidentiality and increased domestic responsibilities for young people, especially in families where children have lost parents to HIV and AIDS.

The study found that while those diagnosed with HIV were roughly split by gender, nine in 10 people actively receiving treatment were girls.

The authors said this was consistent with far higher rates of sexually-transmitted HIV infection in young women compared to young men.

AIDS deaths have declined globally since the peak of the epidemic in the early 2000s, but an international AIDS commission warned last year of a resurgence if the world’s booming adolescent population weren’t protected.