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Greenpeace activists ‘crash’ drone into French nuclear plant

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Greenpeace activists said Tuesday they had flown a drone fitted out as a flying Superman into a nuclear energy plant in southeast France, aiming to show how the country’s reactors are vulnerable to terror attacks.

A video released by the environmental group shows the drone zipping through restricted airspace above the Bugey plant about 25 kilometres (16 miles) outside Lyon before crashing into a building on site.

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It said the drone struck a storage pool for spent nuclear fuel next to a reactor, one of the most radioactive areas at the site.

“This is a highly symbolic action: it shows that spent fuel pools are very accessible, this time from the air, and therefore extremely vulnerable to attack,” Yannick Rousselet, head of Greenpeace France’s anti-nuclear campaign, in a statement.

French electricity group EDF played down any security risk, saying police forces had intercepted one of two drones launched by Greenpeace at dawn on Tuesday.

“The fuel building is key for security, designed in particular to withstand natural or accidental damage, which ensures its high degree of robustness,” the company said, adding that it would lodge a complaint with police.

Greenpeace has carried out several actions aimed at highlighting the danger posed by French nuclear plants, which generate the bulk of the country’s electricity needs.

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In February, eight activists were sentenced to jail terms or fines after breaking into a plant and setting off fireworks last year.

After Greenpeace activists broke into another nuclear plant last November, the French government opened a parliamentary inquiry into nuclear safety and security.

The findings of the report, which include an analysis of potential risks of drones equipped with explosives, are expected to be released soon.

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In 2014 and 2015, drone flights were reported over several French nuclear plants,


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Google tightens political ads policy in effort to stop abuse

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Google on Wednesday updated how it handles political ads as online platforms remain under pressure to avoid being used to spread misleading information intended to influence voters.

The internet company said its rules already ban any advertiser, including those with political messages, from lying in ads. But it is making its policy more clear and adding examples of how that prohibits content such as doctored or manipulated images or video.

"It's against our policies for any advertiser to make a false claim -- whether it's a claim about the price of a chair or a claim that you can vote by text message, that election day is postponed, or that a candidate has died," Google ads product management vice president Scott Spencer said in an online post.

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Pope Francis begins Asia tour with visit to Buddhist temple

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Pope Francis will visit one of Thailand's famed gilded temples Thursday to meet the supreme Buddhist patriarch, on the first full day of his Asian tour aimed at promoting religious harmony.

The 82-year-old pontiff is on his first visit to Buddhist majority Thailand, where he will spend four days before setting off to Japan.

His packed schedule a day after touching down in Bangkok includes a meeting with the king and the prime minister before leading an evening mass expected to draw tens of thousands of people from across Thailand, where just over 0.5 percent of the population is Catholic.

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Hong Kong campus stalemate persists while US congress passes bill of support for democracy protesters

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Hardline Hong Kong protesters held their ground on Thursday in a university besieged for days by police as the US passed a bill lauding the city's pro-democracy movement, setting up a likely clash between Washington and Beijing.

Beijing did not immediately respond to the passage in Washington of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which voices strong support for the "democratic aspirations of the Hong Kong people."

But China had already threatened retaliation if the bill is signed into law by President Donald Trump, and state-run media warned Thursday the legislation would not prevent Beijing from intervening forcefully to stop the "mess" gripping the financial hub.

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