French protesters block roads over higher fuel taxes, one dead in accident

PARIS (Reuters) – A motorist accidentally hit and killed a protester taking part in a campaign of road blockades across France on Saturday, as thousands gathered on motorways in a backlash against higher fuel taxes.

The demonstrators, part of a grassroots movement dubbed the “yellow vests”, caused logjams on highways and blocked roundabouts as they railed against the fuel tax hikes introduced by President Emmanuel Macron.

The protests, largely orchestrated on social media and which aimed to prevent road access to some fuel depots and airports, have also drawn broader support from some voters dissatisfied with Macron’s economic reforms and his governing style.

At a blockade on a road in the southeastern department of Savoie, a driver panicked when protesters surrounded her car and she accelerated, hitting and killing a woman demonstrator, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said in televised comments.

Sixteen people were lightly injured in other accidents across the country, and a person run over by a car in northern France was in a critical state, according to the interior ministry, which estimated some 50,000 demonstrators were participating in Saturday’s protests.

Some incidents occurred as drivers not taking part tried to get around the blockades, police sources said.

FLASHPOINTS

Protesters gathered at sensitive flashpoints including the entry to a tunnel under the Mont-Blanc mountain in the Alps, and traffic was backed up on several highways.

Demonstrators were also on the march in cities, including Marseille where around 100 people, wearing the high visibility vests drivers keep in their cars, blocked roads around its port.

The backlash is the latest confrontation between Macron and voters, mostly based in the countryside and provincial towns and cities, who view the former investment banker as the representative of a remote urban elite.

During his 18 months in power, Macron, 40, has often pushed through reforms, including an overhaul of indebted state rail operator SNCF, in the face of opposition from labor unions.

But the “yellow vest” movement has snowballed swiftly over the past month, catching Macron and even opposition parties off guard. It has already prompted a rare concession from the government, which announced last Wednesday fresh funds to help motorists on the lowest incomes.

The higher fuel taxes were approved in late 2017 but started to bite as oil prices surged in October, even though they have since eased off somewhat.

The diesel tax increases are designed to encourage drivers to switch to more environmentally-friendly cars.

Reporting by Sarah White, Caroline Pailliez, Pierre Savary and Jean-Francois Rosnoblet; Editing by Gareth Jones

China reports new outbreaks of African swine fever in Jiangxi, Yunnan, Sichuan and Shanghai

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Four new outbreaks of African swine fever have been reported in China’s provinces of Jiangxi, Yunnan and Sichuan as well as the municipality of Shanghai, the agriculture ministry said on Saturday.

Ten pigs had died from the disease and 10 others had fallen ill on a farm with 150 hogs in the southeastern province of Jiangxi, the ministry said on its website. Another 348 pigs will be slaughtered in Yunnan province in the southwest, it added.

A farm with 314 pigs in the Jinshan district of Shanghai was affected, the ministry reported. Eleven of the hogs had died while another 50 were infected, it said.

Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Andrew Heavens

Argentine Navy submarine found a year after disappearing with 44 aboard

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – The Argentine Navy submarine that went missing a year ago off the country’s Atlantic Coast was found by a private company involved in what had been a massive search for the vessel and its 44-member crew, the Navy announced by tweet on Saturday.

The submarine ARA San Juan had a seven-day supply of air when it last reported its position on Nov. 15, 2017. It was found some 800 meters (2,625 feet) below the ocean’s surface by a marine tracking contractor Ocean Infinity.

The disappearance gripped the nation’s attention as the government struggled to provide information about the tragedy.

At the time of the disappearance, the Navy said water that had entered the submarine’s snorkel caused its battery to short-circuit. Naval officials said international organizations helping to search for the missing vessel a year ago detected a noise that could have been the submarine imploding.

Hopes of rescuing survivors faded about two weeks after the submarine went missing. The navy said it searched for double the amount of time the submarine would have had oxygen.

The first anniversary of the submarine’s disappearance was marked with an event at the Mar del Plata naval base on Nov. 15, with President Mauricio Macri in attendance.

The crew had been ordered to return to Mar del Plata on the country’s east coast. But the vessel was never heard from again.

Ocean Infinity, a U.S. company that can search and map the seabed, was hired by Argentina following the failure of a international operation to find the vessel after it went missing in the South Atlantic.

The San Juan was some 430 km (270 miles) off Argentina’s Patagonian coast when it sent its last signal.

The disaster spurred soul-searching over the state of the military in Argentina, which – after a series of financial crises – has one of Latin America’s smallest defense budgets relative to the size of its economy.

Subs are used to patrol sovereign maritime areas throughout South America and can transform themselves into a lethal threat to potential adversaries.

Argentina learned a harsh lesson of submarines’ military value during the 1982 Falklands War, when a British sub sank the ARA General Belgrano cruiser. It was the only major ship Argentina lost in the war over the disputed Falkland Islands, which Argentina calls the Malvinas.

Reporting by Jorge Otaola and Maximilian Heath; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Tom Hogue and Ros Russell

Junior partner says to stay in Bulgarian coalition after resignation

SOFIA (Reuters) – The junior partner in Bulgaria’s ruling center-right coalition reaffirmed its support on Saturday for Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s 18-month-old government despite the resignation of one of its leaders.

Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov, one of the leaders of the United Patriots, an alliance of nationalist parties, resigned on Friday after several weeks of street protests over remarks he made about disabled rights activists.

“Valeri Simeonov has quit in a personal capacity, it is not the party that has quit the coalition,” Krasimir Karakachanov, also a deputy prime minister and co-leader of the United Patriots, told Nova TV.

“No turmoil is expected in either the “small” (nationalist alliance) or the “big” (ruling) coalition,” he said.

Last month Simeonov, who oversaw economic and demographic policy, dismissed a group of protesters demanding an overhaul of Bulgaria’s social care system as “shrill women” and accused them of using their disabled children as a political tool.

Borissov rebuked Simeonov but said he was unable to sack the minister due to a delicate balance of power in the coalition.

The nationalist alliance is expected to nominate Simeonov’s replacement as deputy prime minister next week.

The deputy leader of Borissov’s GERB party, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, said the resignation would “calm the situation” and that the government would emerge stronger as a consequence.

Disabled rights activists welcomed Simeonov’s resignation but said the government needed to do more to soothe social tensions.

Opposition parties have stepped up pressure on the government ahead of elections for the European Parliament and local elections next year.

Bulgaria, the poorest member state in the European Union, faces more protests this weekend over higher fuel prices and tax increases for older, more polluting cars, though political analysts say they are unlikely to unseat Borissov’s government.

Responding to the discontent, the anti-monopoly regulator has said it will examine whether there has been any breach of competition rules in the fuel sector.

Street protests against low living standards and corruption toppled a previous coalition government led by Borissov in 2013.

(This story corrects paragraph 11 to say taxes on old cars have increased, not on pensions)

Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Gareth Jones

Rangers acquire Strome from Oilers for Spooner

The New York Rangers acquired forward Ryan Strome from the Edmonton Oilers on Friday in exchange for forward Ryan Spooner.

Strome, 25, had two points (one goal, one assist) in 18 games for the Oilers this season. Overall, he has 162 points (59 goals, 103 assists) in 358 games with the New York Islanders (2013-17) and Oilers.

Spooner, 26, had two points (one goal, one assist) in 16 games for the Rangers. He has 160 points (46 goals, 114 assists) in 289 career games with the Boston Bruins (2012-18) and Rangers.

The Rangers are hoping Strome can reach his potential with them. Strome was the fifth overall pick of the 2011 draft by the Islanders.

“I think he brings a little bit of everything,” New York general manager Jeff Gorton said in a statement, “and with our group right now, having somebody who can play in all different areas of the game, I think he can help us.

“When you’re a top-five pick overall there’s a lot of pressure on you to perform. … I think he feels like, and we feel like, maybe there’s a little bit more that he can still get to the level we’re all hoping he can get to.”

Strome’s best season was when he scored 50 points (17 goals, 33 assists) for the Islanders in 2014-15, his second season in the league.

Spooner was a second-round pick in the 2010 draft. He was acquired from Boston last February.

Spooner’s top campaign was 2015-16 when he tallied 49 points (13 goals, 36 assists) for the Bruins.

—Field Level Media

NFL notebook: Flacco doubtful vs. Bengals

Joe Flacco was listed as doubtful on Friday’s injury report as the Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback mystery continues, two days prior to Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Flacco didn’t practice all week because of a hip injury, while rookie Lamar Jackson returned to practice on Friday after sitting out a day due to illness. Robert Griffin III took all the practice snaps on Thursday.

“There will be a quarterback starting. I can guarantee that,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh told reporters, partly in jest. “And, every play, there will be at least one quarterback on the field.”

Harbaugh said Flacco could play despite not practicing.

—Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham has a broken thumb, multiple outlets reported.

Graham had the thumb examined on Friday to determine the extent of his injury. The 31-year-old left Thursday’s 27-24 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the second half after making one catch for 13 yards.

The Packers haven’t confirmed the injury or released a timetable for his return.

—Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa is expected to be a game-day decision on Sunday against the Denver Broncos.

Bosa, who has missed the entire season with a foot injury, was listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report. He returned to practice on Wednesday for the first time since training camp.

Tight end Antonio Gates (knee) also is listed as questionable. Cornerback Trevor Williams (knee) will miss the game.

—Denver Broncos left guard Max Garcia will miss the rest of the season after tearing his ACL in Thursday’s practice, head coach Vance Joseph confirmed.

Garcia didn’t miss a rep Thursday, but he was taken for an MRI after feeling discomfort in the knee afterward.

“It was really weird,” Joseph said. “I watched practice from the last play back to the first play, and he didn’t miss a down. The play he was injured on, I saw it. It was kind of a slip. It was no big deal.”

—Suspended linebacker Mychal Kendricks has rejoined the Seattle Seahawks, coach Pete Carroll told reporters.

Kendricks, 28, will practice next week but cannot play until Dec. 10 against Minnesota.

As a result of his guilty plea to federal insider trading changes, the league suspended Kendricks for eight games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. He faces up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 24.

—Philadelphia defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan could play for the first time this season on Sunday when the Eagles take on the New Orleans Saints.

“Still optimistic, we’ve got to get through today and tomorrow obviously with him and see where he’s at,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “It’s just a matter of day-by-day and getting through the practice and seeing where he’s at.”

Jernigan returned to practice last week for the first time since having surgery in April to repair a herniated disc in his back.

—Atlanta Falcons linebacker Deion Jones (foot) will not play Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, despite being activated from injured reserve earlier this week.

Head coach Dan Quinn said Jones, who hasn’t played since Week 1, is close but not yet ready to play. Kicker Matt Bryant (hamstring) will play for the first time since Week 6.

—The Detroit Lions will be without wideout Marvin Jones (knee) and tight end Michael Roberts (shoulder) against the Carolina Panthers.

Jones did not practice this week after sustaining a bone bruise in his knee on Sunday. Cornerback Darius Slay (knee) is expected to play.

—Washington Redskins left tackle Trent Williams is questionable to face the Houston Texans as he recovers from surgery to repair a dislocated thumb.

Also questionable is kicker Dustin Hopkins (groin). Running back Chris Thompson (ribs) and wideout Jamison Crowder (ankle) remain out after not practicing all week.

—The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be without linebacker Lavonte David (knee), defensive end Vinny Curry (ankle), running back Ronald Jones (hamstring) and defensive backs Justin Evans (toe) and M.J. Stewart (foot) against the New York Giants.

Curry and Jones practiced on a limited basis Thursday and Friday, while none of the others practiced this week.

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—The Cincinnati Bengals placed tight end Tyler Kroft on injured reserve and signed linebacker Brandon Bell off the practice squad.

Kroft, who has four catches for 36 yards in five games (two starts) this year, hasn’t played since hurting his foot in Week 5. Cincinnati is already without Tyler Eifert for the season.

—Field Level Media

NHL notebook: Rangers acquire Strome from Oilers for Spooner

The New York Rangers acquired forward Ryan Strome from the Edmonton Oilers on Friday in exchange for forward Ryan Spooner.

Strome, 25, had two points (one goal, one assist) in 18 games for the Oilers this season. Overall, he has 162 points (59 goals, 103 assists) with the New York Islanders (2013-17) and Oilers. Spooner, 26, had one goal and one assist) in 16 games for the Rangers and 160 points (46 goals, 114 assists) with the Boston Bruins (2012-18) and Rangers.

The Rangers are hoping Strome can reach his potential with them. Strome was the fifth overall pick of the 2011 draft by the Islanders.

“When you’re a top-five pick overall there’s a lot of pressure on you to perform,” New York general manager Jeff Gorton said in a statement. “I think he feels like, and we feel like, maybe there’s a little bit more that he can still get to the level we’re all hoping he can get to.”

—Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy will miss four to six weeks with a fractured left foot, the team announced.

Vasilevskiy suffered the injury during practice on Wednesday and was evaluated by doctors on Thursday. The 24-year-old is 9-3-1 with a 2.30 goals-against average and .927 save percentage in 13 games this season. Louis Domingue will fill in as the primary starter during Vasilevskiy’s recovery period.

Vasilevskiy was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goalkeeper last season when he went 44-17-3 with a 2.62 GAA and .920 save percentage. He tied for the league high in victories and in shutouts (eight).

—Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott will miss the next two weeks with what the club termed as a lower-body injury.

Elliott was injured during the third period of Thursday’s loss to the New Jersey Devils. He crouched in discomfort before leaving the ice. “It was worse than I expected,” Flyers general manager Ron Hextall told reporters on Friday. “But that’s the way it is.”

Elliott, 33, is 6-7-0 with a 2.59 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 14 games (13 starts) this season. Cal Pickard is expected to see most of the action during Elliott’s absence. Pickard is 3-1-1 with a 4.33 GAA and .865 save percentage this season.

—The Bruins will continue their road trip without Zdeno Chara, who returned to Boston after suffering a leg injury in a 6-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night.

The defenseman left the game in the first period after a collision with Avs forward Carl Soderberg and did not return.

Chara, 41, is in his 21st season in the NHL and 13th with the Bruins. He has three goals and one assist in 18 games this season. For his career, Chara has played in 1,441 games and tallied 198 goals and 434 assists.

—Arizona Coyotes forward Josh Archibald was suspended for two games without pay for delivering an illegal check to the head of Nashville Predators forward Ryan Hartman, the NHL Department of Player Safety announced.

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The suspension will cost the 26-year-old Archibald $7,258.

Archibald received a minor penalty on the play in which he smacked his shoulder into Hartman’s head during Thursday’s game. Hartman, who was stationed near the boards, had passed the puck prior to the hit.

—Field Level Media

LeBron’s HS car to drive hard bargain at auction

LeBron James obviously wasn’t an ordinary high school senior. His car wasn’t a run-of-the-mill model, either.

James drove a 2003 Hummer H2, and it is going up for auction on Monday before being sold on Dec. 8.

So what’s the price of the vehicle that LeBron drove while he attended St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio? A piece of his past won’t come cheap.

According to Goldin Auctions president Ken Goldin, the car is “definitely a six-figure piece.”

James’ mother Gloria took out a $50,000 loan to pay for the car that she gave him for his 18th birthday. That led to an investigation by Ohio basketball officials before questions of LeBron’s eligibility were cleared.

Four days after he was cleared, though, the Ohio High School Athletic Association ruled James ineligible for accepting two throwback jerseys valued at $845 from an urban clothing store in exchange for posing for pictures.

After taking the state’s governing body to court and winning the appeal, James led St. Vincent-St. Mary to a third state championship in his four seasons. He was the No. 1 overall pick right out of high school by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2003 NBA Draft.

James installed a custom sound system, three TVs and a Sony PlayStation 2 when he had the car, undoubtedly increasing its current Kelley Blue Book value of $18,000.

Put up for auction on eBay in December 2013, the Hummer could have been purchased for $64,800, which was the “Buy It Now” price listed then by Cleveland Autos Direct Online. It was sold for an undisclosed amount, and went on display at the Greater Cleveland Auction.

Field Level Media

NHL roundup: Dickinson, Stars drop Bruins in OT

Jason Dickinson pushed the rebound of a shot by Mattias Janmark past Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask 1:34 into overtime to score the only goal of the game and lift the Dallas Stars past the visiting Bruins 1-0 on Friday.

Dickinson and Janmark skated into the offensive zone on a two-on-one break before Janmark unleashed a slapshot that Rask pushed aside and behind the net. Janmark skated after the loose puck and centered it off Rask to the waiting Dickinson, who found a hole under Rask for the game winner.

Dallas goalie Ben Bishop stopped 23 shots to earn his second shutout of the season and the 26th of his NHL career.

The Stars are 2-2-2 in their past six matches after going 5-1-0 in their previous six games. The win allowed Dallas to split the season series after the Bruins beat the Stars 2-1 in overtime in Boston on Nov. 5.

Kings 2, Blackhawks 1 (SO)

Anze Kopitar scored the deciding goal in a shootout as Los Angeles ended a three-game losing streak by beating host Chicago in a battle of recent Stanley Cup champions who have each played below expectations.

In his first career NHL start, Kings goalie Cal Petersen made 34 saves. Petersen, who was signed by the Kings in 2017 as a free agent out of Notre Dame, played his final college game in the Blackhawks’ home rink at the 2017 NCAA Frozen Four.

Petersen’s opportunity in goal came as the result of knee surgeries to both Jonathan Quick and Jack Campbell, while Jonny Brodzinski was lost due to shoulder surgery.

Sabers 2, Jets 1 (SO)

After seven rounds of a shootout, Conor Sheary’s top-shelf goal finally clinched a win for Buffalo over host Winnipeg as the Sabres ran their winning streak to four games, the longest since 2014, while halting the Jets’ winning streak at three.

Three of those four wins have come beyond regulation time, as the Sabres also defeated the Vancouver Canucks via a shootout on Nov. 10 and needed overtime to top the Montreal Canadiens on Nov. 8.

The lengthy shootout was a fitting end to a duel of goaltenders. Buffalo’s Carter Hutton stopped 25 of 26 shots to earn the win, while Jets backup goalie Laurent Brossoit made 31 saves in his first game action since Oct. 26.

Capitals 3, Avalanche 2 (OT)

Nicklas Backstrom scored a power-play goal 22 seconds into overtime, and short-handed Washington beat host Colorado in Denver.

Backstrom also had an assist and Alex Ovechkin and Devante Smith-Pelley scored goals for the Capitals.

The Capitals (9-7-3) played without their No. 1 goaltender and two of their top forwards but still managed to get the win. Pheonix Copley had 24 saves in his second straight start for Washington.

Field Level Media

Ex-Trump strategist Bannon says EU is trying to thwart Brexit

OXFORD, England (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s former political strategist, Steve Bannon, said on Friday that the European Union was trying to thwart Brexit.

Bannon, a former chairman of the right-wing Breitbart.com website and an architect of Trump’s 2016 election win, has set up a movement to elect right-wing nationalist and populist members in European Parliament elections next May.

The EU’s elites, he said, did not want Brexit.

“You see what’s happened. They have no intention of letting you guys leave – none. Zero,” Bannon said at the Oxford Union debating society, though he gave no evidence other than saying the EU had made the divorce negotiation difficult.

“They’ve made it as hard as possible, they will continue to make it as hard as possible,” Bannon said.

The United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on March 29, 2019. In the June 23, 2016 EU referendum, 17.4 million voters, or 52 percent, backed Brexit while 16.1 million, or 48 percent, backed staying in the bloc.

EU leaders have repeatedly said they are saddened by the UK’s decision to leave and that they will respect the decision.

British Prime Minister Theresa May struck a divorce deal with the EU this week, though opponents in her divided party are trying to topple her because they think the deal would keep the UK too close to the EU after Brexit.

Bannon faced several hundred protesters in Oxford who accused him of being a racist. Police officers eventually escorted the 64-year-old into the Oxford University society’s historic debating chamber through a back entrance.

Reporting by Jack Hunter, editing by Guy Faulconbridge