Macron faces grilling from farmers at agricultural fair

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, talks with farmers as he visits the 55th International Agriculture Fair at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris, France, on Saturday. (AP)
Updated 25 February 2018
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Macron faces grilling from farmers at agricultural fair

PARIS: President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday faced heckles and whistles from French farmers angry with reforms to their sector, as he arrived for France’s annual agricultural fair.
For over 12 hours, Macron listened and responded to critics’ rebukes and questions — only to return home to the Elysee Palace with an adopted hen.
“I saw people 500 meters (yards) away, whistling at me,” Macron said, referring to a group of cereal growers protesting against a planned EU free trade pact with a South American bloc, and against the clampdown on weed-killer glyphosate.
“I broke with the plan and with the rules and headed straight to them, and they stopped whistling,” he told reporters.
“No one will be left without a solution,” he said.
Macron was seeking to appease farmers who believe they have no alternative to the widely-used pesticide — which environmental activists say probably causes cancer.
He also wanted to calm fears after France’s biggest farm union warned Friday that more than 20,000 farms could go bankrupt if the deal with the Mercosur trade bloc Brazil — the world’s top exporter of beef — as well as Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay) goes ahead.
Meanwhile, Macron was under pressure over a plan to allow the wolf population in the French countryside to grow, if only marginally.
“If you want me to commit to reinforce the means of protection... I will do that,” he responded.
And he called on farmers to accept a decision on minimum price rules for European farmers — “or else the market will decide for us.”
But it wasn’t all jeers and snarls for Macron at the fair.
He left the fairground with a red hen in his arms, a gift from a poultry farm owner.
“I’ll take it — we’ll just have to find a way to protect it from the dog,” he said, referring to his Labrador, Nemo.
It was a far cry from last year, when — as a presidential candidate not yet in office — he was hit on the head by an egg launched by a protester.


Lion Air crash victims’ families to rally as hunt for wreckage steps up

Updated 13 December 2018
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Lion Air crash victims’ families to rally as hunt for wreckage steps up

  • Lion Air is paying for a specialized ship to help lift the main wreckage of flight JT 610 and give investigators a better chance of finding the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) in a search that has lacked sophisticated equipment for the last month
  • The enhanced search will cost $2.8 million for the first 10 days

JAKARTA: Families of some of the 189 people killed in a Lion Air plane crash plan a protest rally in Indonesia on Thursday, while stalled efforts to bring the main wreckage to the surface and find the second black box are set to resume next week.
The Boeing Co. 737 MAX jet crashed into the Java Sea on Oct. 29 shortly after take-off from Jakarta, but the families expressed concern that the remains of 64 passengers have yet to be identified, with just 30 percent of the plane’s body found.
“The relatives hope that all members of our families who died in the accident can be found and their bodies buried in a proper way,” a group that says it represents about 50 families said in a statement.
“We hope the search for the victims will use vessels with sophisticated technology,” it added, ahead of the rally planned for outside the presidential palace in Jakarta.
Lion Air is paying for a specialized ship to help lift the main wreckage of flight JT 610 and give investigators a better chance of finding the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) in a search that has lacked sophisticated equipment for the last month, Reuters reported.
Indonesia’s national transport panel said the vessel was due to arrive on Monday.
The enhanced search will cost $2.8 million for the first 10 days, a source close to the airline said on Thursday, on condition of anonymity, adding that Lion Air is paying because the government does not have the budget.
A spokesman for Lion Air was unable to respond immediately to a request for comment.
“Funds for the CVR search will be borne by Lion Air which has signed a contract for a ship from a Singaporean company,” a finance ministry spokesman told Reuters.
Lion Air’s decision to foot the bill is a rare test of global norms regarding search independence, as such costs are typically paid by governments.
In this case, investigators said they had faced bureaucratic wrangling and funding problems before Lion Air stepped in.
Safety experts say it is unusual for one of the parties to help fund an investigation, required by UN rules to be independent, so as to ensure trust in any safety recommendations made.
There are also broader concerns about resources available for such investigations worldwide, coupled with the risk of agencies being ensnared in legal disputes.
The clock is ticking in the hunt for acoustic pings coming from the L3 Technologies Inc. cockpit voice recorder fitted to the jet. It has a 90-day beacon, the manufacturer’s online brochure shows.
The flight data recorder was retrieved three days after the crash, providing insight into aircraft systems and crew inputs, although the cause has yet to be determined.