Sarkozy presents multibillion-euro plan for Paris public transport

Sarkozy presents multibillion-euro plan for Paris public transportParis  - French President Nicolas Sarkozy Wednesday presented his vision of a Greater Paris, which included a proposal to invest 35 billion euros (46 billion dollars) in the expansion of the capital's public transport system.

The idea is to expand the city so that it eventually incorporates its run-down suburban ghettos, a nest of poverty and crime, Sarkozy said.

Flu outbreak is not a 'cataclysm', animal health official says

FranceParis - The swine flu outbreak currently spreading around the world is probably not a "cataclysm" for human health, the head of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) said Wednesday. "The new virus is apparently passed on very easily from person to person. It appears to be spreading throughout the entire world. But if it does not cause serious symptoms in people, it is no cataclysm," Bernard Vallet told the German Press Agency dpa.

Anti-Semitic torture trial opens in Paris

Paris, FranceParis - The trial opened Wednesday in Paris of 27 people charged in the 2006 kidnapping and torture death of a young Jewish man. The defendants, today between 21 and 35 years of age, are accused of being members of a gang which called itself the Barbarians and targeted Jews for abduction because their reputed leader, Youssouf Fofana, believed all Jews had money and would not hesitate to pay a ransom.

Quick pulse before workout associated with death risk

Washington, Apr 29 : A cheap method of predicting who is at greater risk of dying suddenly and unexpectedly from a heart attack has been developed by researchers in France.

In a study of 7746 French male civil servants, published in Europe''s leading cardiology journal, the European Heart Journal, the researchers found that men whose heart rate increased the most during mild mental stress just before an exercise test had twice the risk of dying of a sudden heart attack in later life than men whose heart rate did not increase as much.

The study is the first to discover this association and since taking a patient''s pulse is an easy and inexpensive procedure, it suggests a way of identifying people who may be at increased risk.

Controversial Societe Generale board head resigns

Societe GeneraleParis - The much-criticized head of the board of directors of French bank Societe Generale, Daniel Bouton, is stepping down. "I choose to depart to protect the bank. I have become the target of incessant criticism which will end by damaging this enterprise," the 59-year-old Bouton said in an interview published Wednesday in the daily Le Figaro.

Bouton admitted making mistakes and being "clumsy" during his tenure as the bank's general director, which began in 1997, but said that the criticism had become "unbearable."

British, French foreign ministers meet Sri Lankan leaders

Sri LankaColombo- The foreign ministers of Britain and France met with their Sri Lankan counterpart Wednesday amid protests from Buddhist monks calling for an end to foreign interference in Colombo's war against Tamil separatist rebels in the north-east of the country. British Foreign Minister David Miliband and his French counterpart, Bernard Kouchner, met behind closed doors with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama and were due to meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa later in the day before visiting refugee camps in the Vavuniya area, 254 kilometres north of Colombo.