SPOTLIGHT: SPRINGTIME ANGST IN PARIS
It's spring in Paris: the trees are bursting with foliage, café terraces look inviting, the French Open is about to kick off. Shall we indulge in that apéro? Mais, non! The mood in the City of Light feels anything but spring-like right now. There is the fate of EgyptAir Flight 804, which took off from the capital's Charles de Gaulle airport, and is believed to have crashed yesterday with 66 people on board, including 15 French nationals. While passengers' families await more information, the rest of the country wonders if France again is the target of terrorists.

But the risks in Paris don't only come from abroad, or above. Road blockades and train strikes have crippled traffic the past week following more than two months of often violent demonstrations. On Wednesday, protesters attacked a patrol car and set it on fire with two policemen inside.More than 300 police have been hurt so far and about 1300 arrests have been made since violence first broke out.

The focal point of this wrath? Proposed reforms to France's labor laws, in addition to negotiations over working conditions and pay. So far, President Francois Hollande has stuck to his guns. He is unwilling to withdraw the bills that would make hiring and firing easier, measures he believes would encourage companies to recruit more people and reverse France's stubbornly high unemployment.

But the economic and social policy questions, more than ever, are interwoven with the issue of public security. On Thursday, lawmakers voted, once again, to extend the state of emergency first put into place following the November 13 terrorist attacks in and around Paris. The government had argued for the two-month extension, which allows law enforcement to hold people under house arrest, in order to reinforce security to cover two big sporting events coming up in France: the 2016 Euro soccer tournament and the Tour de France cycling race. Here's hoping for safety in sports, and a better summer in Paris.



WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY (& WEEKEND)

  • Search continues for clues to the fate of the Paris-Cairo EgyptAir flight 804. Egyptian and Greek authorities confirmed this morning that flight debris and victim remains had been found in the Mediterranean.
  • Turkey's ruling AKP party is expected to choose a new Prime Minister to replace Ahmet Davutoglu.
  • Austria holds national elections on Sunday.


VENEZUELA COURT APPROVES STATE OF EMERGENCY
Venezuela's highest court has validated a far-reaching state of emergency imposed by the country's embattled president Nicolas Maduro. More violent protests are expected ahead of a major military show of force on Saturday.

SHOOTING FORCES S.F. POLICE CHIEF OUT
Just hours after a fatal police shooting yesterday of an unarmed black woman, San Francisco's mayor, Ed Lee, has forced the city's police chief, Greg Suhr Law, to resign. Details from the San Francisco Chronicle.

— ON THIS DAY
East Timor independence and the birthday of a singular American singer-actress are part of your 57-second shot of history.

VERBATIM
"The State of Israel is patient and tolerant toward the weak among it and minorities. But to my great regret extremist and dangerous elements have overrun Israel as well as the Likud party.” Israel's outgoing defense minister Moshe Yaalon had harsh words today as he resigned amid reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would replace him with Avigdor Lieberman, the country's far-right former foreign minister.

— WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
Christoph Behrens of German daily Suddeutsche Zeitung reports on one of Mao Zedong's most grandiose ideas — an aqueduct stretching 3,500 kilometers. For better or worse, it is now becoming a reality decades after Chairman Mao's death. “Construction workers have driven concrete blocks deep into the earth at Jinan to form an underground canal, only a few kilometers south of the ‘Yellow River Park.' These form part of the arm of the ‘South-North-Water-Transfer-Project,' a network of pipelines, tunnels and aqueducts that will run across thousands of kilometers in China, partly at ground level, partly underground or a few meters above the ground. They have been building it for 12 years and three routes are envisaged to transport the water: a western, a middle and eastern passage. The eastern route, which runs from Shanghai to the water poor region of Shandong and Beijing, is more than 1,500 kilometers long, approximately the distance between Denmark and Italy. Read the full article: Mao's Aqueduct: Biggest Water Project Ever Rises In China.

REPORT: ANOTHER BOKO HARAM VICTIM FOUND
Nigerian authorities are reporting the rescue today of another one of the more than 200 girls seized in 2014 in the town of Chibok by the terrorist group Boko Haram. The report comes a day after the rescue of a 19-year-old, who has since given birth to a baby girl. The BBC says that doubts have arisen about the second reported victim.

— MORE STORIES, EXCLUSIVELY IN ENGLISH BY WORLDCRUNCH


SCANDINAVIALAND?
A Norwegian billionaire has a radical idea: turn Sweden, Denmark and Norway into a single nation of 20 million. Reaction hasn't been all cold.

— Crunched by Sruthi Gottipati


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