France Ends Spain’s Reign On Top
More than 300 French nationals or residents are either currently fighting in Syria’s civil war, planning to go and fight or have recently returned from there, the minister, Manuel Valls, told France Inter radio. Most of them were young men, often with a delinquent past, who had become radicalised, he said. “This is a phenomenon which worries me because they represent a potential danger when they return to our soil,” Valls said. “We have to be extremely attentive.” France, which has the largest Muslim population in western Europe, has increased its monitoring of Islamic radicals since Al-Qaeda-inspired gunman Mohamed Merah killed seven people in and around the southwestern city of Toulouse last year. It subsequently emerged that Merah had spent time in Pakistan and Afghanistan and that French intelligence had been aware of his contacts with militants in those two countries. On Tuesday, intelligence officers arrested the French webmaster of a jihadist site on charges of “provoking” terrorism, Paris prosecutors said, adding that the 26-year-old convert to Islam had also played a part in translating magazines published by militant group Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. According to British defence consultancy IHS Jane’s, there are up to 10,000 jihadists from all over the world currently fighting in Syria on the side of rebels trying to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, whose regime they want to replace with an Islamic state. Experts in counter-terrorism fear that a chemical weapons attack near Damascus on August 21 could inspire more radicals to embark on jihad, or holy war, in Syria, increasing the numbers of a new generation of battle-hardened militants capable of wreaking havoc when they return to their home countries. “If they are not able to set up an Islamic state in Syria, they’ll come back disappointed,” Marc Trevidic, France’s top anti-terrorism judge, was quoted as saying earlier this week. At least one French national has died fighting in Syria — a 22-year-old white convert to Islam from Toulouse only identified as Jean-Daniel, who was killed in a clash with government forces in August. Valls has previously warned that there are “several dozen, perhaps several hundred, potential Merahs in our country” and described their presence as a ticking time bomb. In October 2012, police shot dead the alleged ringleader of an Islamist cell suspected of carrying out a grenade attack on a Jewish grocery store in a Paris suburb the previous month. A prosecutor branded that homegrown group of Islamist extremists as the biggest terror threat the country had faced since the Algerian-based GIA carried out a string of deadly bombings in the 1990s.
Collet, like everyone, just watched and gasped. “You just hope,” he thought. “For sure, we could lose it.” But this time, they did not. When overtime ended, the weight of past failure was lifted off French shoulders. Mickael Gelabale offered Diaw a high five. Not enough, he thought. The pair embraced. And then, as a team, they went into a huddle, as Spanish heads bowed around them. Diaw spoke up. “Yes,” he said, “be happy we’re going to the final. But now we’ve got one more important game.” For a few minutes, before thoughts turned to Lithuania, they soaked up the moment and savored the slaying of their nemesis.
France awaits battle of billionaires
In an interview published by Liberation newspaper on Thursday, France’s minister for the digital economy, Fleur Pellerin, said Europe needed new regulatory powers to intervene much earlier, to level the playing field in the internet economy and allow the emergence of alternatives in Europe to U.S. Web giants. She said Europe needed to be able to act quickly, as soon as problems are identified, rather than getting tied up in lengthy and costly disputes that did nothing to help consumers. “The current tools of competition law are totally unsuited to the fast-changing world of the Internet,” Pellerin said in the interview conducted in French. “To get out of this impasse, Europe needs a regulatory authority to act on an ex-ante basis, as soon as conflicts and abuse emerge on the part of internet platforms.” The idea is part of a broader proposal laid out by France ahead of an October 24 European summit on the digital economy, the Internet and innovation. Other elements include revamping tax rules to ensure Web companies pay tax on the profits they make in the European Union, an EU source said, as well as stricter rules on the protection of personal data online. The Wall Street Journal, citing French briefing documents ahead of the summit, said France would ask the European Commission to draw up proposals by spring 2014 aimed at “establishing a tax regime for digital companies that ensures that the profits they make on the European market are subject to taxation and that the revenues are shared between the Member States, linking the tax base to the place where the profits are made.” The tax proposals and idea of a new regulatory body are likely to prove controversial with some member states that favor a hands-off approach to the Web, as well as the United States, home to the largest internet companies and already at the center of a debate over surveillance after revelations about the National Security Agency by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. An adviser to Pellerin said that France would ask the European Commission to study how “ex-ante” – or anticipatory regulation – of internet services could function and what sort of agency would be needed. Then the work of passing a regulation or a directive could be carried out by the next EU Commission, which will be in place by early 2015 after parliamentary elections. (Additional reporting by Charlie Dunmore in Brussels; Editing by Eric Walsh)
France calls for EU to regulate Web giants to counter dominance
Both teams spent heavily in the off-season with Qatari-backed PSG going cheque-book to cheque-book against the Russian-backed Principality outfit in a billionaires’ battle for the game’s most coveted players. PSG coach Laurent Blanc welcomed Uruguayan Edinson Cavani from Napoli where he was Italy’s top scorer last season, in the sixth highest transfer deal of all time at some 64 million euros. While Monaco stunned the European football world when they captured the highly-rated Colombian Radamel Falcao for 60 million euros from Atletico Madrid. Falcao was not the only recruit brought in by Italian coach Claudio Ranieri who also splashed out on big money deals to bring in James Rodriguez, Joao Moutinho and Geoffrey Kondogbia, while captain Eric Abidal was picked up on a free from Barcelona. Both teams are off to unbeaten starts although Monaco come into the match one point clear of Saint-Etienne while PSG are two points back but starting to change gears after an eye-catching 4-1 win over Olympiakos in midweek gave their Champions League quest a dream start. “Obviously we are getting stronger and physically we have taken it to a higher level now,” said Blanc, the former Bordeaux and France coach. “We are going to prepare meticulously for this match against a very good team in very good form,” added the 47-year-old Thiago Motta, who scored twice in Athens, feels the team is still a work in progress despite winning their first French title since 1994 last season. “We have everything we need to be better and we have the players. It only depends on us now,” explained the Brazilian. League Cup holders Saint-Etienne may profit from their Europa League elimination as they try to keep pace with the favoured giants when they open the weekend slate at home against second-from-bottom Toulouse on Friday. Last season’s runners-up Marseille are also waiting in the wings and feeling the effects of not having the same financial clout as their rivals, but go into their away match against Bastia lying fourth and only three points off the pace. Elsewhere, in a battle of former multiple champions, Lyon will try to get their campaign back on track at home to Nantes with both sides marooned in mid-table. Seven-time title winners Lyon are still reeling from their Champions League elimination and have already lost twice in five league outings as they await the promoted ‘Canaries’ at the Stade Gerland.