The controversial new strategy to draw migrants out of Calais 'jungle'

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Vue aérienne de la « new jungle » de Calais.  © Reuters Vue aérienne de la « new jungle » de Calais. © Reuters

The northern French port of Calais was this week the scene of violent clashes between police and migrants who continue to gather in their thousands in the hope of crossing illegally into Britain. While a recent security clampdown at the port and Channel Tunnel entrance has succeeded in reducing incursions, migrants continue to arrive in Calais and the numbers living in the infamous makeshift ‘jungle’ camp have swollen significantly. As winter approaches, the authorities are attempting to disperse the migrants, some to holding centres, others into temporary accommodation, while actively inciting them to apply for asylum in France. Carine Fouteau reports.

The geographical limits to social mobility in France

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The upward social mobility of the children of blue collar workers in France varies significantly depending upon the region in which they are born, and has little to do with local economic opportunities, concludes a study, the first of its kind, published this month by a French government agency advising on national development policies. Mathilde Goanec reports.

Exclusive: the damning report into world athletics doping extortion scandal

By Federico Franchini
Turkey's Asli Cakir Alptekin celebrateS after winning gold in the women's 1500m final during the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium August 10, 2012. REUTERS/Phil Noble (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT ATHLETICS OLYMPICS) © Reuters Turkey's Asli Cakir Alptekin celebrateS after winning gold in the women's 1500m final during the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium August 10, 2012. REUTERS/Phil Noble (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT ATHLETICS OLYMPICS) © Reuters

Amid the ongoing corruption scandal tearing apart world football governing body Fifa, the association governing world athletics, the IAAF, is now rocked by revelations of an extortion racket implicating both its former president and senior staff arrested last week in France and who allegedly demanded cash to cover up doping evidence against athletes. The IAAF scandal reaches a high point on Monday when a World Anti-Doping Agency commission will deliver a report of its investigation into the scam. Mediapart has gained advance access to the commission’s disturbing findings. Federico Franchini reports.

The mad week that was: from the 'Butler tapes' to Omar Raddad

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Last week, journalists from Mediapart and weekly news magazine Le Point stood trial on ‘invasion of privacy’ charges for having published secretly-recorded conversations that revealed corruption and profiteering by the entourage of L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt. The prosecution has demanded they receive symbolic fines, and a verdict will be delivered in January. Meanwhile, the tax administration demanded the online press make backpayments for VAT rates that no longer apply. The week was capped by developments in a long-running murder case where the possible proof of a shameful miscarriage of justice remains buried by inertia. Hubert Huertas pulls on a common thread linking all three events.

The injustice of the VAT body blow dealt to Mediapart

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La rédaction de Mediapart en 2013. © Reuters La rédaction de Mediapart en 2013. © Reuters

Mediapart has been notified by the French tax administration that it must pay a total of 4.1 million euros in an adjustment of its VAT payments over a six-year period between 2008 and 2014. The adjustment comes after Mediapart’s long campaign, finally vindicated by a law introduced in 2014, calling for the discriminatory 20% VAT rate for the online press to be removed and aligned to the 2.1% VAT rate applied to the print-based press. Mediapart, which openly applied the lower VAT rate amid years of discussions over the issue with the administration and government, must now meet the demand for the backpayments immediately, despite an appeal procedure. Mediapart editor-in-chief Edwy Plenel explains the background to what appears to be a move of vengeance, and appeals here for your support in face of the severe threat now hanging over this independent online journal.

Journalism on trial in absurd closing act of the Bettencourt saga

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Liliane Bettencourt, le 29 mars 2012 © Reuters Liliane Bettencourt, le 29 mars 2012 © Reuters

This week, five journalists, including Mediapart editor-in-chief Edwy Plenel and Mediapart investigative reporter Fabrice Arfi, stand trial in Bordeaux on charges relating to the violation of personal privacy. The case centres on the publication by Mediapart in 2010 of extracts of secretly recorded conversations between L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt and her entourage of advisors which revealed a catalogue of corruption and manipulation surrounding the ageing billionaire and which led to the convictions of eight people earlier this year. Here, Fabrice Arfi denounces a trial that flouts press freedom laws and threatens the fundamental 'right to know'.

How brother of youth killed by 'trigger happy' French cop became a policeman

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The shooting of Lahouari Ben Mohamed, 17, during a routine check in Marseille in 1980, was one of a series of events that sparked the creation of the French anti-racist movement in 1983. Lahouari's little brother Hassan, who was only four at the time of the killing, himself went on to become a police officer, and has just published a book about what happened to his eldest brother. Based on a long investigation and in-depth interviews, this fascinating book takes its title, La Gâchette facile, from what the armed policeman said just before the shooting: “Careful, tonight I'm trigger-happy”. Louise Fessard met the author.

French political intrigue behind escape of Dominican Republic 'cocaine' pilots

L'eurodéputé FN Aymeric Chauprade et les deux pilotes. © Twitter / a_chauprade L'eurodéputé FN Aymeric Chauprade et les deux pilotes. © Twitter / a_chauprade

Revelations about the dramatic escape by two French pilots from the Dominican Republic made headlines in France this week. The two men, convicted of cocaine trafficking, fled the Caribbean country thanks to a well-organised plan while they were on house arrest pending an appeal. But the affair took on a political flavour, too, as anger rose in the Dominican Republic about the pilots' escape and amid claims that some French government agencies were involved. In particular a Euro MP and close ally of Marine Le Pen has belatedly admitted that he was directly involved in the extraction operation. Michel Deléan, Louise Fessard and Marine Turchi report.

The web activists 'debugging' France's surveillance laws

Internet activists-turned lawyers are using computer and coding skills to find errors or “bugs” lurking in France's growing array of surveillance and intelligence laws. Calling themselves “amateur scholars”, they have so far drawn up around ten legal challenges as a result of their work. As Michel Deléan and Jérôme Hourdeaux report, these 'hacktivists' are in the vanguard of numerous judicial challenges to this controversial snooping legislation.

Did going back to work kill this French pensioner?

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Despite his poor health Raymond, aged 75, felt obliged to find a job ten years after retiring because his pension was so small and he faced mounting debts. Yet he was given no medical test before he started delivering leaflets for distribution company Adrexo near Paris. Within days Raymond was dead after suffering a heart attack. His son has now taken the company to an industrial tribunal claiming it did not fulfil its legal obligations. Michaël Hajdenberg reports.

A year on, probe into death of French dam protester stalls

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Rémi Fraisse © DR Rémi Fraisse © DR

In October 2014 student Rémi Fraisse was killed by a grenade thrown by a gendarme during a protest over plans to build a dam at Sivens in south-west France. A year later the judicial investigation into the 21-year-old's death has become bogged down. Investigators have sifted through the victim's background but, as Mediapart's legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan reports, they seem no closer to placing any officers under formal investigation or even examining the instructions that those officers were given from on high.

What Calais residents really think about the migrant crisis

By Haydée Sabéran
Une boutique dans la « New Jungle », le 16 octobre 2015 © Philippe Wojazer / Reuters Une boutique dans la « New Jungle », le 16 octobre 2015 © Philippe Wojazer / Reuters

In just a year the number of migrants living in the so-called 'New Jungle' camp at Calais in north-east France waiting to get to the UK has doubled to around 6,000. The migrant question has now become a key issue in December's regional elections, with the head of the far-right Front National, Marine Le Pen, standing for the region that includes Calais. But what do the town's residents think about the migrants and their plight? As Haydée Sabéran found out, it is a complex picture.

Legal battle over Muslims' access to pork-free school lunches in France

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With the support of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, a right-wing mayor in eastern France is stopping the provision of alternative meals for Muslim pupils in his town's school canteens when pork is on the menu. Mediapart's Michaël Hajdenberg was in court to hear an attempt by a Muslim organisation to get this controversial decision stopped.

The reasons behind France's recurrent deadly floods

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 © Reuters © Reuters

Earlier this month, exceptional rainfall caused flash floods in south-east France that swept through the streets of towns and villages, killing 20 people and causing an estimated 500 million euros of damage. It was the latest in a long list of major catastrophic flooding disasters in the country over the past 27 years. As Michel de Pracontal reports, neither fate nor surprise events explain the causes, but rather the incapacity of public authorities to tackle the prevalent dangers, due in no small part to both rampant urbanisation and bureaucratic nonsense.

How Sarkozy's march back to power reached a blind alley

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 © Reuters © Reuters

Nicolas Sarkozy’s official return to politics last year, when he was elected head of his conservative opposition party, was, his supporters believed, the start of a relatively easy march back to power in elections due in 2017. But the wily former French president, once considered a masterful political tactician, appears to have lost his grip, unable to offer policy initiatives and mired in infighting and scandal. Ellen Salvi hears from party insiders in this analysis of where it has all gone wrong for the man who, a former aide admits, “wants to regain power for the sake of regaining power”.