Paris museum gets ready to welcome visitors after COVID shutdown


FILE PHOTO: Visitors at the Musee d'Orsay are seen in silhouette as they look behind a giant clock face at the former Orsay railway station in Paris
FILE PHOTO: Visitors at the Musee d’Orsay are seen in silhouette as they look behind a giant clock face at the former Orsay railway station, in Paris, France, July 28, 2015. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/File Photo

May 18, 2021

By Manuel Ausloos

PARIS (Reuters) – At the Musee d’Orsay in Paris on Monday, workers were hanging a priceless Renoir painting in preparation for the museum’s re-opening after six months with no visitors because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The painting was one of many artefacts at the museum that were put in storage during the lockdown, to protect them from the effects of dust and sunlight, and which are now going back on display ready for the doors to open on Wednesday.

The museum, on the banks of the Seine river, hummed with activity on Monday as staff brought artworks out of storage into the public galleries, and lifted protective covers off glass cases containing rare treasures.

“We opened the ticket office a few days ago and it seems that the public really want to come back. And so much the better, because we’ve missed them,” said Laurence Des Cars, director of the museum.

“Our mission is to welcome the public and to offer them, in the best way possible, direct contact with the works of art after all these months of computers and screens,” she said.

The painting by impressionist artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir, was an 1887 work depicting a girl holding a cat. Wheeled from the storage area on a trolley, one worker held each side to carefully lift it onto the wall.

The French government closed museums and other cultural venues at the end of October to curb the spread of COVID-19. It is now allowing them to re-open after virus rates started to fall. But restrictions remain in place.

In normal times, the Musee d’Orsay can have around 15,000 visitors a day, staff there said, but for now, daily numbers will be capped at 5,000 to ensure people can stay a safe distance apart.

(Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Alison Williams)

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Tear gas used on pro-Palestinian protestors in Paris as march defies ban


Riot police fired tear gas on defiant protesters in Paris who were supporting Palestinians in the Gaza Strip despite a ban on Saturday’s demonstration in the French capital.

Marches in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were being held Saturday in a dozen French cities, but the focus was on Paris, where riot police got ready as organizers said they would defy a ban on the protest.

Paris police chief Didier Lallement ordered shops closed around the starting point of the planned march in a working-class neighborhood in northern Paris after an administrative court confirmed the ban.

Authorities noted a banned July 2014 pro-Palestinian protest against an Israeli offensive in Gaza that degenerated into violence and running battles with police to justify the order against Saturday’s march.

Organizers said they intend to “denounce the latest Israeli aggressions” and mark the fleeing of Palestinians after Israel declared independence in 1948.

“Stop Annexation. Palestine Will Vanquish,” read one poster in a small crowd facing off with police, who blocked off the neighborhood. Police said water cannons would be used against those who defy the Paris ban.

Protests were permitted in numerous other cities, including Lille in the north to Marseille on the Mediterranean Sea.

Watch the intense scenes in the video above.

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Man City 2-0 Paris St-Germain (4-1 on aggregate): City into first Champions League final


Riyad Mahrez is only the second player to score in both legs of a Champions League semi-final for an English club after Sadio Mane in 2017-18

Manchester City reached their first Champions League final as they overcame Paris St-Germain at Etihad Stadium to secure a commanding victory over two legs.

In a game played in unseasonal snow, the brilliant Riyad Mahrez capped a sweeping move started by goalkeeper Ederson’s 60-yard pass to extend their 2-1 advantage from the first leg in Paris.

PSG suffered a serious blow before kick-off when world-class forward Kylian Mbappe was restricted to the bench because of injury. They did not lack endeavour or intent but with Neymar subdued and City throwing bodies on the line in defence, Mauricio Pochettino’s side could not find a way through.

Mahrez punished them again just after the hour when he turned in Phil Foden’s cross at the far post to effectively end the contest.

PSG, as they did when Idrissa Gueye was sent off late in the first leg, lost their discipline and Angel di Maria was shown a red card for a senseless stamp on Fernandinho following a touchline tangle.

City were in full control, avoiding further mishap to set up the Champions League final they and manager Pep Guardiola have craved, against either Chelsea or Real Madrid in Istanbul on 29 May.

Man City within touching distance of the great prize

The celebrations when Manchester City scored and at the final whistle illustrated the significance of what these players and Guardiola have achieved.

Guardiola and City have been sweeping up domestic titles on a regular basis, with his third Premier League title a formality which could be confirmed with victory against Chelsea here on Saturday.

This tournament, however, has been the one code an outstanding team has been unable to crack, with hard-luck stories to tell and crucial slips when the pressure is on, such as when they lost 3-1 to underdogs Lyon in a one-off quarter-final last season.

City have shown great maturity and development this season, keeping their nerve when under pressure against Borussia Dortmund in the last eight and also surviving a PSG surge in Paris six days ago to recover for an outstanding win.

Here, early nerves were settled by Mahrez’s goal and any further PSG threats were repelled with resilience and, when needed, desperate defending to ensure the lead they worked so hard to establish was well protected.

The Champions League has always been regarded as confirmation that Manchester City were a European superpower – now this high-class side will have the opportunity to confirm that status in Istanbul.

Guardiola has heroes everywhere

City’s success has been built on a squad effort, as proved by the way those who missed out on the starting line-up, such as Rodri, Aymeric Laporte, Joao Cancelo and Raheem Sterling, provided noisy support and encouragement from the sidelines.

Inevitably, though, there were stand-out performers and the list included match-winner Mahrez, the precocious Foden and the often unsung defender Oleksandr Zinchenko.

Mahrez took his time to settle in the early days of his City career but he is now a key component in Guardiola’s line-up, a creator and scorer of important goals, such as the two here. In eight Champions League starts this season he has scored four goals, including in both legs of this semi-final.

The first goal was classic Manchester City, started by remarkable vision from Ederson and finished emphatically by Mahrez.

The Algerian was a huge threat all night, tormenting PSG, and Foden was not far behind, as he grows in stature with every game. He has strength, vision on the ball and an end product, providing a perfect delivery for the second goal.

Zinchenko got the nod ahead of Cancelo and delivered a superb display, a threat going forward and top class in defence, with one crucial block from Neymar in the second half.

Above all, this was a team effort and Manchester City richly deserve their place in the Champions League final.

More to follow.

Player of the match

Rúben DiasRúben Dias

Paris Saint Germain

  1. Squad number5Player nameMarquinhos

  2. Squad number1Player nameNavas

  3. Squad number6Player nameVerratti

  4. Squad number24Player nameFlorenzi

  5. Squad number3Player nameKimpembe

  6. Squad number10Player nameNeymar

  7. Squad number21Player nameHerrera

  8. Squad number22Player nameDiallo

  9. Squad number8Player nameParedes

  10. Squad number18Player nameKean

  11. Squad number23Player nameDraxler

  12. Squad number15Player nameDanilo Pereira

  13. Squad number25Player nameBakker

  14. Squad number31Player nameDagba

  15. Squad number11Player nameDi María

  16. Squad number9Player nameIcardi

Line-ups

Man City

Formation 4-4-2

  • 31Ederson
  • 2Walker
  • 5Stones
  • 3Rúben Dias
  • 11ZinchenkoBooked at 71mins
  • 26Mahrez
  • 25Fernandinho
  • 8Gündogan
  • 47FodenSubstituted forAgüeroat 85′minutes
  • 17De BruyneBooked at 74minsSubstituted forGabriel Jesusat 82′minutes
  • 20Bernardo SilvaSubstituted forSterlingat 82′minutes

Substitutes

  • 6Aké
  • 7Sterling
  • 9Gabriel Jesus
  • 10Agüero
  • 13Steffen
  • 14Laporte
  • 16Rodri
  • 21Torres
  • 22Mendy
  • 27Cancelo
  • 33Carson

PSG

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Navas
  • 24FlorenziSubstituted forDagbaat 75′minutes
  • 5Marquinhos
  • 3KimpembeBooked at 87mins
  • 22DialloSubstituted forBakkerat 82′minutes
  • 21HerreraBooked at 22minsSubstituted forDraxlerat 62′minutes
  • 8ParedesSubstituted forDaniloat 75′minutesBooked at 89mins
  • 6VerrattiBooked at 71mins
  • 11Di MaríaBooked at 69mins
  • 9IcardiSubstituted forKeanat 62′minutes
  • 10Neymar

Substitutes

  • 4Kehrer
  • 7Mbappé
  • 12Rafinha
  • 15Danilo
  • 16Rico
  • 18Kean
  • 19Sarabia
  • 20Kurzawa
  • 23Draxler
  • 25Bakker
  • 31Dagba
  • 60Randriamamy

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Quiz: How do Manchester City and Paris St-Germain players compare?


Manchester City host Paris St-Germain in the Champions League semi-final second leg on Tuesday – but how do the squads compare?

Take our quiz below and see if you know how some of the players match up.

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UK banks’ support for coal industry has risen since 2015 Paris climate pact


Lenders including Barclays and HSBC provided services and loans worth £21.9bn in 2019

British banks’ financial support for companies involved in the coal industry has risen since the 2015 Paris agreement, despite their pledges to wind down financing for a sector seen as a significant obstacle to tackling global heating.

UK lenders provided loans and underwriting services worth $30.3bn (£21.9bn) to companies that sold or burned coal, or provided coal industry services, during 2019, the latest year for which complete data is available, according to research by the campaign groups Reclaim Finance and Urgewald. That represented a significant increase compared with $21.5bn in financing provided in 2016.

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Demonstrators Clash With Police During May Day March in Paris


Police and protesters clashed during an annual May 1 march in Paris, France. Footage taken by Instagram user @bichotabrutal shows protesters rallying and standing off against the police before dispersing. France’s Ministry of the Interior tweeted on the evening of May 1 that 34 protesters had been arrested in Paris. Credit: @bichotabrutal via Storyful

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Townsville’s ‘road to Paris’ moment: the slow greening of an Adani stronghold | Adani Group


“Adani was about the here and now for the community,” says Townsville’s mayor, Jenny Hill, reflecting on a decade spent championing the thermal coal project as a way to reduce the city’s high unemployment rate.

“There were no jobs. There was no interest in manufacturing. It was important to give the community hope for the future.”

Townsville’s place at the forefront of the coal wars have made Hill, who is a member of the ALP, a prominent figure in the party’s schism over coal and climate. In 2019 she told a forum run by Labor’s Chifley Research Centre that the city’s mantra was “we stick to our guns: we support mining”.

It is remarkable, then, that Hill now says clean energy – and not thermal coal – will be at the forefront of Townsville’s future economy.

“If you’re smart in politics you’ve got to deal with the short term, but you’ve got to deal with the long term as well,” Hill tells Guardian Australia.

“The market will eventually decide what happens with thermal coal and where it ends up. The Japanese have put it out there on public record they are going to cut their thermal coal imports.

“Economies [like South Korea and Japan] want clean energy and that means green hydrogen. We’re in a position to be able to deliver.”

Some locals in Townsville described the subtle but significant shift in language from community and business leaders as a “road to Paris conversion” – a pivot brought about by rapidly changing international sentiment and declining prospects for coal.

Hill doesn’t directly acknowledge a suggestion that the ground has shifted from a point a few years ago when she described Adani to the writer Anna Krien as “the only next big thing”.

But she now speaks with zeal about the sorts of transition opportunities that might be created in a place where the port could link Queensland’s rare earth mineral deposits with the world; and where refining and manufacturing is already being fuelled by the city’s 320 days of annual sunlight.

Townsville is developing an eco-industrial precinct with plans for a solar microgrid to power battery manufacturing, a nickel refinery and other industries. This week the port of Townsville signed a memorandum of understanding with energy company Origin to export green hydrogen, which could be produced locally with non-potable water and solar power.

“The scientist in me sees it as a pilot study,” Hill said.

“I will always support mining, but it doesn’t mean we can’t take advantage of these new technologies and bring manufacturing back into this country.

“This is about reimagining the economy for my community and building it. If it works here, it can help ensure we get growth.”

The future is sunny

Last month Solar Citizens, a lobby group for solar owners and renewables supporters, released a report detailing how Townsville could become a renewable energy “powerhouse”, creating 11,000 jobs – equivalent to 10% of the city’s total workforce.

Proposed manufacturing and industry projects powered by renewables could be worth $154bn over their lifetime, the report found.

The city already has a company spearheading the transition: the Korea Zinc-owned refiner SunMetals, one of Queensland’s biggest energy consumers, and the first power-intensive facility in Australia to build its own solar farm.

The Townsville council and its regional business lobby, Townsville Enterprise, are heavily promoting plans to build an “eco-industrial precinct” at Lansdown, which would run on a renewable micro-grid and could include a battery manufacturing plant, refineries and other green industry businesses.

The Queensland Nickel refinery at Yabulu, near Townsville. The closure of the plant was ‘a massive shock’ to the town. Photograph: Andrew Rankin/AAP

In Queensland politics, “transition” has been a dirty word. Pro-coal politicians like LNP senator Matt Canavan have said transition equates to job destruction. Rightwing media commentators have portrayed comments that miners need to “re-skill” as a kind of ideological warfare, rather than part of a discussion about how communities respond to a real global shift away from fossil fuels.

“It’s the right of the workers in the community not to be destroyed in the process of the transition,” Tim Buckley, the director of energy finance studies at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, says. “And now the opportunities [from transition] are starting to become tangible and real.”

Sean Cochrane, who runs renewable business SuperGreen Solutions in Townsville, says the conversation had clearly shifted in the city now people could see genuine opportunity from the energy transition.

“A year ago it was all we need coal jobs, we need coal jobs,” Cochrane says.

“There was never another argument, another source of jobs. I don’t think Townsville is the backwater that sometimes people in the south think it is. Townsville has come of age. People are looking for intelligent solutions.”

Joseph O’Brien, the managing director of a Townsville company proposing to build Copperstring 2.0 – a project that would connect the North West Minerals Province to the national energy grid – says there are significant opportunities for the city.

“I believe the real message here is that it’s not about what Townsville shouldn’t do, but what Townsville does as a global leader, and that’s advanced industrial manufacturing and minerals processing,” O’Brien said.

“This pedigree in industrial manufacturing can be an enormous job creator and it’s also an enormous creator of expertise that will be very valuable for the region and for Australia too.

“Townsville is an entrepreneurial and pragmatic place, it doesn’t have the luxury of choosing where it wants to get its jobs from. Regional centres need to play to their strengths and respond to global opportunities and for Townsville the global opportunities make for a very bright future.”

‘You don’t want your city to die’

After Townsville flooded in early 2019, residents in the low-lying suburb of Hermit Park brought out their dead appliances and mud-logged possessions and piled them up at the roadside.

Guardian Australia asked a handful of locals there about climate change. The Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, had just called the flooding “unprecedented”. Experts overwhelmingly believe the climate is fuelling more extreme weather events.

“If anyone mentions [climate change] I’ll punch ’em,” a local, Mark Parison, said immediately after the floods.

Residents of Hermit Park cleaning up after floods in 2019.
Residents of Hermit Park cleaning up after floods in 2019. Photograph: Dan Peled/AAP

“These people crying about climate change, they’ve got to look at how they live themselves. They’re still driving around in cars, they’re still wearing nice clothes. They’re using mobile phones. So give that up, I’ll start listening to you.

“City people are stalling us. We need the economy here to be boosted.”

So, for several years, has gone much of the debate in Townsville about coal and climate change. Kitchen table concerns come first. Even if your kitchen table is literally floating away.

Elements of that fraught debate remain a reality in north Queensland, even as the opportunities of a green energy future move from concept towards reality. Few are ready to completely eschew the coal industry or its prospects to provide jobs for locals.

“Whilst an eye must certainly be kept on the future, we cannot stop investing and supporting the existing industries that have been the backbone of our nation’s economy for generations,” says Wade Chiesa, the regional development and investment director of Townsville Enterprise.

Chiesa highlights efforts to create new industries, but says north Queensland’s strengths remain “the natural resources sitting in our backyard and our capacity to generate energy”.

“Off the back of 12 months of Covid-19 support measures from state and federal governments, the royalties generated by our mining and resources industry are more important than ever as we claw back from the largest debt we have ever experienced.

“As of early this year, Bravus (Adani) had signed $2.2bn in contracts to build the Carmichael mine and rail project and in under two years since the project was greenlighted by the state government the company has employed more than 2,000 people.

“Now is the time we need sustained jobs to support families, not a time to erase them.”

Hill says the closure of Clive Palmer’s Queensland Nickel refinery was “a massive shock” to the northern port city, which was Australia’s first “solar city” back in 2007.

“Adani [became] the face of everything because the community desperately needed jobs,” she says.

“You don’t want your city to die. We had 13% unemployment. We have long-term aspirations but there’s a short-term need.

“When you go doorknocking you see people who are barely making ends meet and are desperate for a job that is barely a living wage. Many tourism jobs are low-paying jobs, you can’t go into a bank and get a home loan with some of those jobs. When you’re in the mining sector you can.”

Now, Hill says advanced manufacturing powered by renewables offers another prospect for well-paid work – and that the city will embrace its opportunity.

“The key for me and the council is to show the community that we can get this right in Townsville. We can use renewables to power industry at a far cheaper rate than pulling power off the grid.

“We’re hopeful for long-term jobs for our community.”

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Manhunt after ‘execution’ shooting in Paris



Paris police are hunting a gunman after what a witness described as an “execution” shooting outside a hospital in the French capital.

A man in his 30s was killed and a female security guard injured at the Henri Dunant geriatric hospital, which is also a Covid vaccination centre.

Witnesses said the attacker shot the man in the head before calmly walking away and making off on a motorcycle.

The local mayor says terrorism does not appear to have been the motive.

The mayor of the wealthy 16th district, Francis Szpiner, added that the vaccination centre did not seem to be the target either. A local police officer told the BMFTV channel the attack looked like a settling of scores.

The manager of a nearby restaurant was among those who witnessed the shooting.

“I heard firing and I saw a bloke in a hoodie fire a bullet, and I saw a bloke lying on the ground,” he told BFMTV.

The attacker then approached the man and fired two more bullets “at point-blank range” into his head, the witness added.

A caretaker described hearing six shots.

“It was a real execution. Really shocking,” another witness told Le Figaro newspaper.

Mr Szpiner said the woman, who was seriously hurt, appeared to have been hit by a stray bullet. She and the male victim were treated at the private Henri Dunant hospital.

The Paris prosecutor has opened an investigation into murder and attempted murder.

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Covid: Over 100 Paris restaurant diners fined for violating rules



More than 100 diners at a restaurant in Paris have been fined and the manager arrested for violating Covid restrictions, French police say.

Officers were called to an address in the capital following a noise complaint and discovered a clandestine gathering, Paris police tweeted on Saturday.

“Guests [were] fined for non-compliance with health measures,” the tweet said.

It comes days after French police launched an investigation into alleged fine dining and parties in the city.

Last week, private TV channel M6 broadcast an undercover film it said was from a hidden camera, showing diners enjoying caviar, champagne and truffles at two upmarket venues.

In response to the report, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin ordered a probe, saying that such gatherings – breaching Covid lockdown rules – would be “totally unacceptable”.

The latest incident occurred on Friday in the 19th arrondissement (district) of Paris and involved “over 110 people”, police said.

The undercover film broadcast by M6 on 2 April showed an unnamed private dining club in a “smart district” of Paris, where guests were told they could remove their masks.

The video points out the penalties for lockdown offences in France; potentially a year in jail and a €15,000 (£13,000) fine for putting someone’s life at risk and, for each guest, potentially a €135 fine for violating the curfew and another €135 for not wearing a mask.

Surging coronavirus cases in France have prompted a new partial nationwide lockdown amid fears that hospitals may become overwhelmed with patients.

All schools and non-essential shops are shut and a curfew is in place from 19:00 to 06:00.

France has recorded just over five million cases of Covid-19 and at least 98,202 deaths, Johns Hopkins University reports.

The country has struggled with an EU-wide delay in the vaccine rollout, as well as several new strains of the virus.

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Paris St-Germain v Barcelona: Neymar to miss Champions League last 16 second leg


Neymar was injured in PSG’s French Cup victory over Caen on 10 February

Paris St-Germain have ruled Neymar out of the second leg of their last-16 Champions League tie against Barcelona.

The Brazil forward missed the first leg against his former side, which PSG won 4-1, with a thigh injury.

“Neymar returned to partial training with the squad last week and will continue to work back to fitness individually,” said a PSG statement.

Barcelona will be without defenders Gerard Pique and Ronald Araujo for the match in Paris on Wednesday.

Pique sustained a knee injury in the Copa del Rey semi-final win over Sevilla on 3 March, while Araujo has returned to training after an ankle problem but is not in the squad.

Ex-Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho is still missing for the Spanish side because of a knee injury.

Barcelona, who lost 8-2 to eventual winners Bayern Munich in last season’s one-legged quarter-final, have made it past the last 16 of the Champions League in each of the past 13 seasons.

In 2016-17, they were beaten 4-0 by PSG in the last-16 first leg in Paris, before winning the second leg 6-1 in Spain.

Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman remained optimistic his side could reach the quarter-finals and said: “It is always different to have a result like this.

“Losing 4-1 at home means we have to score goals away from home and it’s more complicated but nothing is impossible.

“We believe in ourselves – we know we are Barca and have to win and will demonstrate this mentality.”

PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino, who took Tottenham to the Champions League final in 2018-19, will also be without on-loan Everton striker Moise Kean as he is self-isolating because of coronavirus.

Neymar helped the French champions reach their first Champions League final last August and has scored 12 goals in 17 competitive fixtures this season.

Barcelona need to make history to advance – the stats

  • PSG have won two of their past three games against Barcelona in the Champions League (lost one).
  • No team has progressed from a European Cup or Champions League knockout tie over two legs after losing the first leg at home by a margin of three goals.
  • This will be the first Champions League meeting between PSG and Barcelona at the Parc des Princes since February 2017, when the home side won 4-0 – PSG’s biggest margin of victory in a home knockout game in the Champions League and Barcelona’s joint-heaviest defeat in an away knockout match (also 4-0 v Liverpool in May 2019 and v Bayern in April 2013).
  • Barcelona have won one of their past nine away games in the knockout stages of the Champions League (drew three, lost five), beating Manchester United 1-0 in April 2019.
  • PSG have scored at least once in each of their last 22 Champions League games at the Parc des Princes (61 goals). The last team to keep a clean sheet away at PSG in the competition was Real Madrid (0-0 in October 2015).
  • Barcelona are yet to concede a goal away from home in the Champions League this season (three games).



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