France ‘to pass bill banning super-skinny models’

France’s government is likely to back a bill banning excessively thin fashion models as well as potentially fining the modeling agency or fashion house that hires them and sending the agents to jail, the health minister said on Monday.

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Style-conscious France, with its fashion and luxury industries worth tens of billions of euros (dollars), would join Italy, Spain and Israel which all adopted laws against too-thin models on catwalks or in advertising campaigns in early 2013.

“It’s important for fashion models to say that they need to eat well and take care of their health, especially for young women who look to the models as an aesthetic ideal,” Health Minister Marisol Touraine told BFM TV on Monday.

With major health legislation coming up for debate in parliament on March 17, Touraine said the Socialist government was likely to back two amendments relating to models’ weight.

The law would enforce regular weight checks and fines of up to 75,000 euros ($79,000) for any breaches, with up to six months in jail for staff involved, Socialist lawmaker Olivier Veran, who wrote the amendments, told Le Parisien.

Models would have to present a medical certificate showing a Body Mass Index (BMI) of at least 18, about 55 kg (121 lb) for a height of 1.75 meters (5.7 feet), before being hired for a job and for a few weeks afterwards, he said.

The bill’s amendments also propose penalties for anything made public that could be seen as encouraging extreme thinness, notably pro-anorexia websites that glorify unhealthy lifestyles.

In 2007, Isabelle Caro, an anorexic 28-year-old former French fashion model, died after posing for a photographic campaign to raise awareness about the illness.

Some 30-40,000 people in France suffer from anorexia, most of them teenagers, said Veran, who is a doctor.

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Hamburg gets nod as Olympic candidate

Hamburg has been selected as the German Olympic Sports Confederation’s (DSOB) candidate city for the 2024 Summer Games, defeating capital city Berlin in a vote.

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Monday’s decision – which saw Hamburg gain 18 votes to Berlin’s 11 with four voters voting for both cities – should be rubber-stamped by a DSOB Extraordinary General Assembly meeting in Frankfurt this Saturday and a referendum will be held in the winning city to ensure the local population are behind a bid.

Both cities stated their case in a 15-minute presentation during the day-long meeting with 43 representatives from sports, politics and civil societies in Frankfurt.

“How close the two cities were together is clear from the voting,” said DSOB president Alfons Hoermann.

“Hamburg offers a fascinating and compact concept and the development of a north German and north European metropolitan region can be promoted.”

Hoermann continued: “We are looking forward to the presentation on Saturday, then the work will really begin.

“We want to stay in constant dialogue with the citizens and the public.

“Only then will it be possible for the vision of an Olympic and Paralympic Games to become a reality in Germany.”

The DSOB are still mindful of Munich’s proposed bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics which had to be dropped after organisers in Bavaria lost a local referendum.

An opinion poll published last week showed 64 percent of Hamburg residents approve their city hosting the Olympics, compared to 55 percent in Berlin, whose unsuccessful bid for the 2000 Games was undermined by protests.

Cities have until September 15 to formally enter the race and so far Boston and Rome have officially declared, although Paris is also expected to announce a bid.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) are due to choose the host city in 2017.

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Finance News Update, what you need to know

WORLD FINANCE UPDATE:

The Australian dollar is marginally weaker as a disappointing American manufacturing barometer took some shine off the greenback.

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At 0630 AEDT on Tuesday, the local currency was trading at 76.41 US cents, down from 76.49 cents on Monday.

And the Australian share market looks set to open higher after Wall Street lifted more than one per cent as investors weighed the timing of US interest-rate increases after lower-than-forecast economic data.

At 0645 AEDT on Tuesday, the March share price index futures contract was up 49 points at 5,843.

ELSEWHERE:

ATHENS – Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has said his country’s cash crunch will be resolved by an EU summit this week, warning that any pro-austerity opponents would not be allowed to scupper a deal.

WASHINGTON – US industrial production barely rose in February after two consecutive months of declines, pulled higher by heating demand amid unusually cold weather.

WASHINGTON – Manufacturing activity in New York state expanded at a slightly slower pace in March.

NEW YORK – US homebuilders are feeling slightly less confident in their sales prospects, but their overall sales outlook remains favourable.

NEW YORK – McDonald’s workers in 19 US cities filed complaints over burns from grease, a lack of protective equipment and other workplace hazards, according to labour organisers.

KUWAIT CITY – Kuwait has sought help from the International Monetary Fund to introduce corporate taxes in a bid to diversify revenue in the face of falling oil prices, a minister says.

STOCKHOLM – Swedish telecoms group Ericsson says it has bought the telecom division of a Chinese IT services company, adding 1,000 employees to its payroll less than a week after announcing major redundancies in Sweden.

DUBLIN – Irish no-frills airline Ryanair on Monday confirmed its board has approved plans to start flying low-cost transatlantic routes in the next five years.

FRANKFURT – Shoemaker and sports gear company Adidas AG says it has decided not to renew its partnership as official outfitter of the National Basketball Association.

NEW YORK – US real estate investor Blackstone Group is buying the iconic 110-story Willis Tower in Chicago, the second-tallest building in the United States.

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Koke return could be key for Atletico, Simeone says

A Spain international and one of Atletico’s most creative influences, Koke missed last month’s first leg defeat in Germany due to injury but has featured in Atletico’s last three outings in La Liga.

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The 23-year-old, who scored in this month’s 1-1 draw at home to Valencia, is also a dead ball specialist and the Spanish champions have netted a host of goals from his corners and free kicks.

“He is one of those all-round midfielders who is gifted at reading the game, he knows how to play in different positions in the centre and he has very good peripheral vision,” Simeone told a news conference.

“When he is on top form, he allows us to play with speed. Not because he is fast himself but because his vision allows us to play that way.”

Atletico, last season’s beaten finalists, have been struggling for goals in recent weeks and have only scored once in their last four outings in all competitions.

Elimination on Tuesday would almost certainly rob them of their last chance of silverware this term as they are out of the King’s Cup and slipped nine points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona after Saturday’s 0-0 stalemate at Espanyol.

Forwards Mario Mandzukic, Antoine Griezmann and Fernando Torres have been off colour and Atletico have failed to score in three consecutive away games in La Liga for the first time since Simeone took over at the end of 2011.

Leverkusen, by contrast, have racked up 11 goals without reply in winning their last five games in all competitions, including Friday’s 4-0 drubbing of VfB Stuttgart.

Simeone said breaking out of defence swiftly would be one of the keys to Tuesday’s clash at the Calderon.

“We need to shake off their pressuring quickly when they are trying to win back the ball,” Simeone said.

“They know very well how to disrupt play and hold you up,” added the former Argentina captain.

“That’s what happened in Germany. They stopped our attacks quickly with fouls and we couldn’t develop our vertical game. If we don’t take the ball forward quickly we will have problems.”

(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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UK police may have covered up child abuse

London’s police force is being investigated over claims it covered up child sex abuse by powerful establishment figures, including senior politicians and police officers, between 1970 and 2005.

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An independent watchdog will examine the sensational claims, including that police protected a VIP pedophile ring that has since been linked to the possible murder of three young boys.

One of the potential victims, Martin Allen, was the son of the chauffeur for Australia’s then high commissioner Sir Gordon Freeth.

The 15-year-old, who lived at the high commissioner’s London residence with his family, disappeared in 1979. His body has never been found.

Detectives from Operation Midland, which is investigating historic abuse at the Dolphin Square estate near Westminster in the 1970s and 1980s, spoke with Martin’s family late last year after which his brother, Kevin, revealed “the suspicion is he was abducted by a group of low-life pedophiles”.

“It makes me very angry because if that is what has happened it’s organised and the people are very high up in British society and it needs to come out,” he told ITV News at the time.

But now the Metropolitan Police force is itself being investigated over 14 separate claims of corruption, including that “an investigation involving a proactive operation targeting young men in Dolphin Square was stopped because officers were too near prominent people”.

Kevin Allen hopes things are now very different within the Met.

“They keep saying that everything is transparent these days,” he told Sky News earlier this month.

“I hope they are and they get to the bottom of Martin’s case and the people that did wrong to Martin also get what’s coming to them.”

Monday’s explosive claims are related to “high-level corruption of the most serious nature” according to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which will now investigate the police.

They include an allegation that an unnamed politician demanded no action be taken regarding a paedophile ring involving prominent people in Westminster in the 1970s.

Another claim states a surveillance operation of a child abuse ring was shut down due to high profile people being involved.

It’s also suggested an account provided by an abuse victim was altered to omit the name of a senior politician, and that a parliamentary document found at the home of a pedophile listed MPs and senior police officers as members of an abuse ring, but no action was taken.

Rumours of an historic paedophile ring centred on Westminster have swirled for years but nothing has been proven.

The IPCC is taking over an internal investigation that was already being conducted by London police after the force handed it on to them.

“(We) recognised the severity of the allegations and the importance of understanding whether or not our officers had in the past acted inappropriately and therefore voluntarily referred the … allegations to the IPCC,” the Met said in a statement on Monday.

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