Reaching out to develop and value the production of bio chestnuts

Bio-chestnut-amiguetYves Amiguet, third from right, explains the grafting process
A recruitment drive is underway to increase the number of producers of bio chestnuts in the Dordogne, as demand for the nuts continues to rise in Europe and across the world.

Last week around 50 people took part in an afternoon of information and hands-on advice at the foyer rural in Villefranche-du-Périgord that looked to offer help to owners of small chestnut woods, or those who were keen to transform other plots of land.

In the Dordogne there are around 100 producers of bio chestnuts, a long way behind numbers in southern parts of France, yet the demand is there as the market for bio products has increased by about 10% a year.

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James Bond to battle Spectre in Villefranche-du-Périgord: 18 December

Spectre-vdup
The latest James Bond film, Spectre, rolls into Villefranche-du-Périgord this Friday with Daniel Craig set to battle the baddies and save the world once again.

In Spectre, a cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind Spectre.

The showing, in Version Française, takes place on 18 December and starts at 20:30 at the foyer rural, Place de la Halle, Villefranche-du-Périgord.

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News stops: Front National held at bay in regional elections, but for how long?

Reg.france
The second round of the regional elections in France saw the Front National held up as it searches for a position of political power, but for how long?

At present it seems the only tactic being adopted by the Socialists and the Republicans is to plead to people to vote against Marine Le Pen and the Front National, instead of giving people something to actually vote for.

Surely one day such pleading will fall upon deaf ears, and if the political elite are shocked this morning after such a close shave, what state will they be in if their horse-trading fails to work next time?

Here is a collection of news stories to let you get up to speed on the result, as well as the chance to check the official results for your own commune.

BBC: French far right National Front routed in key vote
France's far-right National Front (FN) has failed to win a single region in the second round of municipal elections.

The party was beaten into third place, despite leading in six of 13 regions in the first round of voting on 6 December.

Nicolas Sarkozy's centre-right Republicans finished ahead of the ruling Socialists.

Acknowledging defeat, FN leader Marine Le Pen pledged to keep fighting.

The Guardian: Front National held back in France – but its trajectory is on the up
The election night mood in France was one of grim introspection.

Even if the rising tide of the far right Front National (FN) had been held back – temporarily at least – by tactical voting and a leap in turnout, the lessons were clear to see. The nationalist, anti-immigration, anti-European party was here to stay.

There were no winners in an election that consisted of establishment parties running around at the last minute trying desperately to outwit what they warned was a racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic and overwhelmingly dangerous party.

Politico: 5 takeaways from the elections in France
The National Front failed on Sunday to convince voters to let it run any French region, even though the far-right party’s candidates together gathered more votes than leader Marine Le Pen received in her 2012 presidential run.

Both mainstream parties, the conservative Les Républicains led by former president Nicolas Sarkozy, and sitting President François Hollande‘s Socialists, expressed relief at the failure of the National Front — and claimed responsibility for making it possible.

Both parties’ leaders also chose to shun the victory speeches customary on election nights, and warned that much remains to be done to address the problems that enabled the National Front’s rise — from mass unemployment to security and terrorism fears.

Elections régionales : les résultats
Le second tour des élections régionales 2015 a eu lieu le dimanche 13 décembre.

Front National’s Marine Le Pen: ‘This is a split between the globalists and the patriots’

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Five things you need to know about the Paris climate deal

Cop21-agreement
By Simon Lewis, UCL

The UN climate talks in Paris have ended with an agreement between 195 countries to tackle global warming. The climate deal is at once both historic, important – and inadequate. From whether it is enough to avoid dangerous climate change to unexpected wins for vulnerable nations, here are five things to help understand what was just agreed at COP21.

1. This is a momentous, world-changing event

The most striking thing about the agreement is that there is one. For all countries, from superpowers to wealthy city-states, fossil fuel-dependent kingdoms to vulnerable low-lying island nations, to all agree to globally coordinate action on climate change is astonishing.

And it is not just warm words. Any robust agreement has to have four elements. First, it needs a common goal, which has now been defined. The agreement states that the parties will hold temperatures to “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels”.

Second, it requires matching scientifically credible reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement is woollier here, but it does state that emissions should peak “as soon as possible” and then be rapidly reduced. The next step is to:

Achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century, on the basis of equity …

Third, as current pledges to reduce emissions imply a warming of nearly 3°C above pre-industrial levels, there needs to be a mechanism to move from where countries are today, to zero emissions. There are five-year reviews, and “the efforts of all parties will represent a progression over time”, which means at each step countries should increase their levels of emission cuts from today’s agreements.

Finally, this all means developed countries need to rapidly move from fossil fuel energy to renewable sources. But the challenge is larger for the developing world: these countries must leapfrog the fossil fuel age. They need funds to do so and a key part of the agreement provides US$100 billion per year to 2020, and more than that after 2020.

There is a lot to like about this agreement: it gives a common goal to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, the overall emissions cuts stated are reasonably credible, there is a mechanism to increase national emissions cuts over time towards “net zero”, and there is funding secured to help poorer countries harness the power of the sun, wind and waves instead of coal, oil and gas. It provides a roadmap to get the world off its dangerous addiction to fossil fuel energy.

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Cèpes in December in the Dordogne

Cepe-december
You can blame global warming, the fifth aspect of the lunar calendar or just good luck, but one woman is rubbing her hands with glee after finding cèpe mushrooms in mid-December.

France Bleu Perigord reports that the woman collected a couple of cèpes from a secret location just south of Périgueux.

Mild weather towards the end of November is being given as the reason for the cèpes pousse, with a mushroom specialist saying it is rare to see them at this time of the year and could well be as a consequence of global warming.

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Food waste law passes through French parliament

Food-waste
Food that remains unsold in supermarkets will now have to be donated to charitable groups after legislation was passed by the French parliament.

The new law will come into force early next year and also means food can't be spoiled to prevent its donation, with waste food items being passed on to charitable groups, or if not suitable used for compost or even energy production.

The Guardian reports that the law was proposed by the councillor of a French town and that he was able to use an online petition, as well as changing attitudes to waste, to ensure the swift adoption of the law.

The law will come into effect after it has been rubber-stamped by the Sénat, the upper house of the French parliament, on 13 January.

Arash Derambarsh, a local councillor who has campaigned for the law, said it was “a historic victory”. “It’s extremely rare for a law to be passed so quickly and with unanimous support,” he told the Guardian.

The new legislation allows individuals to set up associations, with the approval of the agriculture ministry, to collect and distribute food. “It means that ordinary citizens can show their solidarity and help distribute this food to those who need it,” said Derambarsh.

The online petition was hosted on change.org and in his argument Arash Derambarsh said that each supermarket in France wasted around 20kg of food each day - more than 210,000 people signed the petition.

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Dordogne poultry and egg suppliers struggle as worries over bird flu increase

Dordogne-bird-flu
Poultry and egg suppliers in the Dordogne are seeing sales fall as the number of cases of bird flu increases in the département.

Sud Ouest reports that those in the sector are seeing buyers cut orders, with supermarkets and village butchers reducing what they buy as demand from the public crumbles.

At present there has been seven cases of bird flu H5N1 in the Dordogne, two in les Landes and one in Haute-Vienne, with increased bio-security measures put in place by the agriculture ministry - even the chasse has been stopped in some communes.

At least eight countries have banned poultry products from France, including Japan, which is France’s biggest export market for fois gras and South Korea who imported 844,000 chickens and 41,000 ducks from France between January and October.

Suppliers in the Dordogne are telling customers that it is safe to eat cooked poultry and eggs, as the virus dies with cooking over 70°C, but rumours have already spread and the industry is beginning to see an impact.

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Madonna plays surprise gig at Place de la République

Madonna-paris
Madonna has staged an impromptu mini-concert at the Place de la République in Paris, the site of massed tributes for the victims of the 13 November attacks.

Following a sell-out concert on Wednesday evening at the Bercy arena in the French capital as part of her Rebel Heart tour, the singer tweeted that she was heading to the square for an aftershow appearance.

The Guardian: Madonna plays surprise gig at Place de la République for victims of Paris attacks

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Christmas market in Villefranche-du-Périgord: 12 December

Christmas-fair
With Christmas fast approaching, craft artisans will be setting up their stalls at the foyer rural in Villefranche-du-Périgord hoping to tempt people with a host of unique gifts.

The popular Marché de Noël will take place on Saturday 12 December and offers up a chance to buy handmade toys and gifts from local craft makers.

The doors open at 09:00 in the foyer rural, in the main square of Villefranche-du-Périgord, it is free entry and you can discover the work of wood turners, card designers, glass blowers and many more.

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News stops: Sarkozy's dose of rhubarb rhubarb

Sarkozy
Here is a pick of some of the news stories from France.

BBC: Sarkozy, rhubarb and France's National Front
In the olden days of Nicolas Sarkozy's French presidency, much fun was to be had irreverently pointing out his tics and verbal idiosyncrasies.

Now he is mere leader of the opposition, the chance comes less frequently - but Monday night offered up a humdinger.

In full flow with France Television's star interviewer David Pujadas, Sarko delivered this pearl: "Just because I get the salad, doesn't mean I pass the rhubarb."

Telegraph: Third Bataclan attacker identified as Foued Mohamed-Aggad who visited Syria in 2013
A third man who attacked the Bataclan concert hall in Paris on November 13 has been identified as a 23-year-old from Strasbourg who went to Syria with a group of other young people at the end of 2013, a judicial source and other officials said on Wednesday.

Sources close to the situation named the attacker, who died in the assault, as Foued Mohamed-Aggad. Prime Minister Manuel Valls confirmed on BFMTV that the man had finally been identified.

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