Snow shuts Eiffel Tower as winter blast hits France

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This photo shows snow on the Place du Trocadero in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Monday. (AFP)
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Pedestrians gather as heavy snow falls in front of The Eiffel Tower in Paris late on Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 07 February 2018
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Snow shuts Eiffel Tower as winter blast hits France

PARIS: The Eiffel Tower turned away tourists on Tuesday as snow swept across northern France, causing traffic chaos in Paris during the French capital’s first real dose of wintry weather this season.
The Meteo France weather service put the greater Paris region on alert for snow and black ice on roads, among 27 departments it expected to be on alert across the country until midday Wednesday.
The weather caused major gridlock across the city, with more than 700 kilometers (430 miles) of traffic jams recorded at 7:30 p.m. local time (1830 GMT) on Tuesday, local information service Sytadin said.
Paris bus services were canceled on Tuesday evening, according to the RATP transport authority, and school transport would not run on Wednesday in several areas.
Meteo France says the snowfall will intensify overnight Wednesday, with temperatures expected to fall as low as minus 10 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit), leaving five to 10 centimeters (two to four inches) in most areas on alert.
Snow had already dusted Paris on Monday before quickly melting away.
“This will be the first blast of winter, late but the real thing, with cold air from Scandinavia colliding with a perturbation coming up from the south,” said forecaster Sebastien Leas.
Rail operator SNCF had to slow down trains on several of its high-speed TGV lines, with service disrupted across much of northern France.
Thousands of emergency accommodation spaces will be opened to shelter homeless people, the country’s territorial cohesion ministry said.
In the Paris region, traffic was banned for vehicles weighing over 7.5 tons, which were told to bypass the area by police, who also advised locals limit road trips.
On Tuesday night in the southern Paris suburb of Essonne, many truck drivers forced to stop on the road were preparing to spend the night.
“We have been stuck since 4:30 pm. We are cold, we have no food or toilet. I do not know when I will be able to leave,” one truck driver, Mehdi Benomar, told AFP.
The cold snap marks a sharp contrast from the weeks of mild and rainy weather across northern France in recent weeks, prompting flooding in several areas and pushing the Seine River to more than four meters above its normal levels as it flows through the capital.


League calls on Italians to back coalition deal with 5-Star

League leader Matteo Salvini, top left, said the new PM would be “a professional with indisputable experience.” (ANSA via AP+)
Updated 10 min 35 sec ago
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League calls on Italians to back coalition deal with 5-Star

  • The government “contract” between the League and the anti-establishment 5-Star was published on Friday after 11 weeks of political stalemate in the euro zone’s third-largest economy
  • The ballot is however seen as symbolic and unlikely to upset the delicate political balance between parties that had been seen as unlikely allies

MILAN: The far-right League gave Italians a chance to bless the program it has drawn up with the 5-Star Movement in an informal ballot as the two groups try to decide on a candidate to lead their planned coalition government.
The government “contract” between the League and the anti-establishment 5-Star, the two parties that won the most votes in the March 4 national election, was published on Friday after 11 weeks of political stalemate in the euro zone’s third-largest economy.
The document calls for billions of euros in tax cuts, increased welfare payments for the poor, and the scrapping of a unpopular pension reform.
It is seen by the two parties as the basis for governing for the full five-year legislative term but got a cool reception from the market and politicians elsewhere in Europe.
Unlike an online vote on Friday by supporters of 5-Star, the League set up 1,000 stands across the country over the weekend, with paper ballots listing 10 of the contract’s main points.
“Citizens appreciate when politicians give them a possibility to express their opinion, especially when people have lost their patience and want results,” said Gianluca Boari, a town councillor and volunteer at one of the stands in Milan.
The ballot is however seen as symbolic and unlikely to upset the delicate political balance between parties that had been seen as unlikely allies.

Mixed views
The decision by the two maverick groups to join forces has upset some of their voters but others say they see this as the only solution for the country.
“I don’t like it at all, (League leader Matteo) Salvini should have said ‘No’. What is this? It’s a terrible compromise for the League,” Veneranda Lorenti, a League supporter, said.
More than 90 percent of almost 45,000 members of 5-Star voted in favor of the program on Friday.
But the plans for the financial sector rattled investors as industry leaders said they could stall a clean-up of bank bad debt and derail a tentative recovery.
“I agree with the idea of an anti-establishment government, they should press ahead with stronger policies in the interest of Italy and (against) the European bureaucracies and the financial oligarchies,” Massimo Wailbacher said as he queued up to vote at one of the stands in Milan.
Salvini and 5-Star leader Luigi Di Maio said the weekend would be decisive to finalize talks over a candidate for prime minister and to outline the ministers of a future government.
Both have agreed that neither of them would run as candidate for prime minister. Salvini said the person would be “a professional with indisputable experience,” who had helped draw up the program.
“The premier will be more shifted toward the 5-Star, but not their representative,” deputy secretary of the League Lorenzo Fontana said, explaining this was due to the fact that the Movement had won more votes than the League at elections.
The two party leaders are due on Monday to meet President Sergio Mattarella, who must approve the program and has a final say on their nomination for prime minister.