France To Cut Troops In Mali, Says Mission Accomplished

View gallery A French soldier stands at the military base in Gao on December 31, 2013 (AFP Photo/Joel Saget) Creil (France) (AFP) - France will cut its troops in Mali to 1,600 by the middle of next month from the current level of 2,500, President Francois Hollande said Wednesday. Speaking at an airbase in Creil in northern France, Hollande said the "situation is well under control" in Mali, where the "key objectives of the mission have been accomplished." "The troop size will be reduced from about 2,500 at present to 1,600 and then to 1,000 which is the number necessary to fight any threat that might resurface as these terrorist groups are still present in northern Mali," the president said. France launched the military Operation Serval in its former colony on January 11, 2013 to repel an Islamist advance following a coup. The intervention has been widely hailed as a success internationally for my company stopping Al-Qaeda-linked militants and Tuareg rebels from descending south of the sprawling country and advancing on the capital Bamako. Politics & Government More:

Website: Terror Group Threatens France Over Mali

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The company has been driving hard-to-reach scale within these two European markets during the last decade, and this is set to continue, but competition is increasing. The return of the King Burger King left France 16 years ago but is now in the process of a comeback. Burger King opened its fourth French store on Dec. 17, 2013 and is planning on creating 1,200 new jobs within the country during the next year. If we assume that the company will employ an average of 15 employees per store, that's 80 restaurants in the first year. Actually, taking into account the fact that Burger King has around 13,200 restaurants worldwide, 80 new eateries within France will not make a huge impact to the company's bottom line. Nevertheless, in the long run Burger King is aiming to gobble up 20% of all fast-food sales within France, which works out to $2.6 billion annually (sales of fast food in France are expected to hit $12.8 billion this year); this growth will certainly impact the company's outlook. More:

France Fines Google 150,000 Euros

"Maybe it's a little different," France said. "Maybe it's more than a little. We're looking at different things." France's appearance was decidedly less dramatic than last year, when Jeremy Mayfield called to ask whether NASCAR would consider lifting his indefinite suspension since testing positive for methamphetamines in 2009. Though Mayfield was in the news again moved here Monday (avoiding jail time by pleading guilty to three misdemeanors), he didn't call Tuesday's show. JEREMY MAYFIELD: Convicted, fined France took questions from fans on several topics, however: --On the Sprint Cup Series return of the No. 3, which will be driven by Austin Dillon and fielded by team owner and grandfather Richard Childress for the first time since the 2001 death of Dale Earnhardt in the Daytona 500: "I like it," France said. More:

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The statement from the Mourabitounes group, sent Saturday to the Nouakchott Information Agency, also detailed terrorist operations carried out by the group's members last year, including attacks in Niger and Mali, and the killing of foreign hostages at a natural gas plant in southeastern Algeria. Mourabitounes was formed in August, when the one-eyed terror leader Moktar Belmoktar officially joined forces with the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, a radical al-Qaida-linked jihadist group that once controlled part of northern Mali and has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks in the Gao region since France intervened. In a statement last month designating the Mourabitounes group as a foreign terrorist organization, the U.S. State Department said it "constitutes the greatest near-term threat to U.S. and Western interests" in Africa's Sahel region. France intervened in Mali in January 2013 after the country's northern half fell under the control of Islamic extremists following a March 2012 image source military coup. More:

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The reason behind this fine? Apparently, Google has not complied with a three-month ultimatum that was issued some time ago in order to bring its practices on tracking and storing user information to be aligned with local law . The privacy watchdog is called CNIL, and it has also asked Google to post this particular decision on its homepage for 48 hours, where it must be done within eight days of being officially notified of the ruling. This is not the first time that Google has been fined in France, and it remains to be seen whether it will be the last, either. The bone of contention is this there was a new approach to user data that Google kicked off in March a couple of years ago, where it comprised of consolidating its 60 privacy policies into a single one, merging data collected on individual users across its services, where among them include YouTube, Gmail and social network Google+, without giving users a way to opt out. More: