Eiffel Tower strike ends after deal to tackle long waits

The Eiffel Tower turned away tourists for two days because of a strike by workers over access policy to the site4 August 2018: The Eiffel Tower plans to test a new access policy for visitors after management reached a deal to end a strike by workers complaining of "monstrous" waits at the Paris landmark.The monument reopened Friday after workers walked off the job Wednesday to protest at a new access policy that allocates separate lifts to visitors with pre-booked tickets and those who buy them on site.The tower now sets aside half of daily tickets for internet customers, who must choose specific time slots for their visit, up from just 20 percent previously.Labour unions said the changes, implemented in early July, could lead to lopsided queues that could extend to three hours for those waiting to pay for tickets, and up to an hour for e-ticket holders.The tower's operator had countered that lines were no worse than before for the more than six million people who visit each year.But on Thursday it said that starting next week it would test a new policy allowing all visitors to queue in separate lines at either of the two elevators.The goal is to keep both elevators full no matter the proportion of regular tickets to e-tickets. "Making sure the reserved time slot is respected will be the main criteria for evaluating the system being tested," tower operator SETE said.It also said it would increase further the percentage of daily tickets sold in advance, "the only measure available to reduce waits at the base of the tower".The reopening was a relief to visitors after thousands were turned away during the strike. "It's definitely great that we can just walk in and there's no problem at all, that's nice," said Patricia Joremsen, who lives in Copenhagen. "Of course we're happy it's open, we came especially to see it," said Darek, visiting from Poland.The tower's roughly 340 employees have staged strikes repeatedly in recent years over issues including pickpocketing and maintenance work.

Source:Egypt Today

August 03, 2018 10:52 UTC

India's 2018 monsoon likely to be below average after poor start to season

People inspect a house for water seepage during high tide at the sea front in Mumbai, India, July 15, 2018. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas. NEW DELHI - 3 Aug 2018: India's monsoon rains, a crucial element for the country's farm output, are likely to be below average in 2018, after the country experienced tepid rainfall during the first half of the season.There is a 47 percent chance of India recording below average rainfall during the second half of the monsoon season which stretches between June to September, India's weather office said in a statement on Friday.For the first two months of the monsoon season, rainfall was below average, according to India Meteorological Department (IMD) data.The monsoon rains could be considered the lifeblood of India's $2 trillion economy since the farm sector contributes 14 percent of the country's economic output and employs more than half of its 1.3 billion people.A spell of good rains could keep a lid on inflation by holding down food prices, potentially tempting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring forward general elections due in May 2019.Lower rainfall could add to the woes of those dependent on agriculture for a livelihood. Indian farmers, who have been hitting the streets to protest low income levels, are a crucial vote bank for a poll-bound Modi.There is a 41 percent chance of India experiencing average rainfall, and 12 percent chance of above average rainfall during the second half of the monsoon season, the IMD said. "The rainfall for the country as a whole during the second half of the season is likely to be 95 percent of the long-period average," the IMD said.Modi has set an ambitious target of doubling farmer's income by 2022.Farmers have planted summer crops on 73.8 million hectares (182.3 million acres) of land as of July 27, down 7.5 percent from a year ago, the Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare said.India is the world's biggest producer of cotton and pulses and the second-biggest producer of sugar and rice.The IMD had forecast earlier that India in 2018 would receive rainfall measuring 97 percent of the long-term average.The agency has accurately forecast the monsoon season only once in every five years in the last two decades, even after allowing for a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Source:Egypt Today

August 03, 2018 10:30 UTC

Argentina name under-17 boss as interim coach

Soccer Football - Argentina Training - City Football Academy, Manchester, Britain - March 21, 2018 Argentina's Angel Di Maria and assistant coach Lionel Scaloni during training Action Images via Reuters/Jason CairnduffBUENOS AIRES, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Argentina have named current under-17 coach Lionel Scaloni as interim boss for upcoming friendlies against Guatemala and Colombia.Scaloni, a former right back who also helped as assistant coach with the national side, replaces Jorge Sampaoli, who stood down last month after a disappointing World Cup in which Argentina were eliminated by France 4-3 in the round of 16. "The AFA informs that after a meeting of the Executive Committee, Lionel Scaloni will coach the future friendlies along with his assistants Pablo Aimar and Martin Tocalli," the Argentine Football Association (AFA) said in a one-line statement.The association's president Claudio Tapia told reporters they were going to take their time to appoint a permanent coach.Argentina have had three different men in charge since Alejandro Sabella resigned in 2014 after taking the team to the final of the World Cup, where they lost to Germany in extra time.Since then Gerardo Martino, Edgardo Bauza, and Sampaoli have all had spells at the helm but none have won any silverware and Argentina's trophy drought now extends back to 1993, the last time they won the Copa America.The two-time World Champions meet Guatemala in Los Angeles on Sept 7 and then face Colombia in New Jersey four days later.

Source:Egypt Today

August 03, 2018 07:41 UTC

Turkey vows retaliation in crisis with US over pastor

"A historic rupture," said the headline in the opposition daily Cumhuriyet.Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Programme at the Washington Institute, told AFP the crisis had erupted with Turkey undergoing a "transformation" under Erdogan which has seen the country more closely orientating towards the Muslim Middle East.But Cagaptay said Ankara would think twice before escalating, given "the pain of the economic burden which is really costing Turkey", and suggested Erdogan might seek a "graceful exit" from the crisis.The sanctions rattled financial markets with the Turkish lira hitting five to the dollar for the first time in history. The currency has lost four percent against the dollar in the last week alone.Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, who is Erdogan's son-in-law, insisted the impact on the economy would be "limited" and said Turkey's priority "is to solve the issue with diplomacy and constructive efforts".- Exchange deal? -The row over Brunson escalated last week when US Vice President Mike Pence, like the pastor an evangelical Christian, said Turkey would face "significant sanctions" if this "innocent man of faith" was not freed.His language was immediately echoed by President Donald Trump, who had enjoyed a relatively warm relationship with Erdogan and was even reported to have "fist-bumped" the Turkish president at a NATO summit last month.US media reported there had been a deal with Turkey to free Brunson after Washington's ally Israel released a Turkish woman held on terror charges. But Turkish officials have rubbished the claims.The senior US general in Europe, Curtis Scaparrotti, was on Thursday holding talks with Turkish military officials in Ankara but there was no indication the Brunson case would be raised.The court trying Brunson has repeatedly refused to allow him to go free. "Gul dismissed the sanctions, saying: "I have neither a tree planted nor one penny in the US or any other country outside of Turkey."

Source:Egypt Today

August 03, 2018 00:33 UTC

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