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SKI

Environmental activists vandalise snow machines in French ski resorts

Police are investigating after several ski resorts in the French Alps have reported vandalism of their snow machines, with tags left at the scene suggesting that the attacks were carried out by environmental activists.

Environmental activists vandalise snow machines in French ski resorts
A snow machine spreads artificial snow. Photo by Leo RAMIREZ / AFP

French resorts including Les Gets and and La Clusaz in the French Alps have reported that pipes have been cut and electrical boxes stolen from their artificial snow machines over December and January, delaying the reopening of ski slopes in certain areas.

Tags at the scene say ‘no skiing without snow’, while a video was released saying that the activists “wish to call attention to the state of certain resorts, such as La Clusaz, which live only thanks to artificial snow”.

At the beginning of January almost half of French resorts were closed due to a lack of snow, an ever-worsening problem linked to rising temperatures and the climate crisis. After snowfalls at the beginning of the week, many Alps and Pyrenees resorts are preparing to reopen. 

But the use of canons à neige (snow machines) to create artifical snow for the slopes is controversial because of the high energy consumption of such machines. Snow cannons cannot be used if the temperatures rise above a certain temperature, but many resorts have them to augment snow on the slopes and allow them to open pistes to skiers.

According to the ski industry representatives, 35 percent of French resorts now have artificial snow machines, compared to 20 percent in 2009.   

As the planet continues to warm, experts say that snow can only be guaranteed in the winter above 2,000 metres, and many of France’s lower-altitude resorts have already closed their doors. 

The vandalism follows a similar spate of attacks on hot tubs in tourist areas over the summer during the drought. 

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CRIME

Frenchman extradited to US on hacking charges pleads not guilty

Frenchman Sebastien Raoult pleaded not guilty to cybercrimes Friday in Seattle federal court, two days after he was extradited from Morocco.

Frenchman extradited to US on hacking charges pleads not guilty

Federal Judge Michelle Peterson told the 21-year-old Raoult that he was charged with nine counts, including conspiracy, computer intrusion, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Raoult listened through an interpreter.

After Raoult’s plea of not guilty, the judge ordered him to be detained as a flight risk until a hearing April 3.

Moroccan authorities arrested Raoult at Rabat airport May 31 at the request of the US Department of Justice. Along with Raoult, two other French nationals were also arrested, Gabriel Bildstein, 23, and Abdel-Hakim El-Ahmadi, 22.

According to Raoult’s indictment, he and the other two men are alleged to have formed a hacking team, dubbed “ShinyHunters,” to steal confidential data from 60 companies to sell on the dark web where criminals routinely operate.

Some of the companies are located in the Seattle area.

According to experts, beginning in 2020, the hackers stole customer data from the Indonesian e-commerce site Tokopedia, the US clothing brand Bonobos, the US telecom AT&T and many other companies, putting the personal data for sale on the dark web.

The criminal charges carry a possible jail term of up to 27 years in prison.

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