Zelensky meeting with Macron at Normandy Four summit

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron are holding a meeting in Paris as part of the Normandy Four summit.

Before the four countries’ leaders gather for a joint meeting, they will hold bilateral meetings. After Macron, Zelensky will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Russian President Vladimir Putin, at the same time, will hold meetings with Merkel and then with Macron.

A bilateral meeting between Putin and Zelensky is scheduled after the Normandy Four summit.

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Trump launches Nato meeting with attack on 'nasty' France

US President Donald Trump launched a two-day Nato meeting on Tuesday (Dec 3) with a blistering attack on France's criticism of the alliance and on "delinquent" members that don't pay their way.

At a news conference held to celebrate Nato's success in cajoling European allies to boost their defence spending, Trump could not resist lashing out at President Emmanuel Macron.

Macron had tried to shake up the agenda for the London summit by branding the 70-year-old Western alliance "brain dead", but Trump slapped him down and warned that he could see Paris "breaking away" from Nato.


"Nato serves a great purpose," Trump said, at a joint press appearance with alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

"I think that's very insulting," he said of Macron's comment, branding it a "very, very nasty statement essentially to 28 countries".

"Nobody needs Nato more than France," he said. "It's a very dangerous statement for them to make."

Asked whether the US alliance with Nato was shaky, Trump denied it, but said: "I do see France breaking off... I see him breaking off."

Trump defended Stoltenberg, boasting that Nato members have massively increased their defence spending thanks to his pressure - but then reiterated his complaints about European spending.

"When I came in, I was angry at Nato, and now I've raised US$130 billion," Trump said, referring to the sum Stoltenberg says Canada and European members will have added to defence budgets by next year.

"And yet you still have many delinquent - you know I call them delinquent when they're not paid up in full," he said. Only nine of Nato's 29 members spend 2 per cent of their GDP on defence.

Trump cited in particular Germany as falling short, spending only 1 per cent to 1.3 per cent.

Leaders of the 29 allies are descending on London to lock horns over spending and how to deal with Russia in a major test of unity as Nato seeks to assert its relevance.

If the Macron comments set an angry tone for the meeting, there are also expected to be clashes with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was also furious with the French leader.

"First of all, have your own brain death checked. These statements are suitable only to people like you who are in a state of brain death," he said last week.

French officials summoned the Turkish envoy in Paris to complain while a US administration official predicted that many members would tackle Turkey over its purchase of a Russian S-400 air defence system.

Turkey, in turn, has warned it will block a Nato plan to defend Baltic countries unless the alliance recognises a Kurdish militant group as terrorists, Erdogan said before the summit.

It was reported last week that Ankara was blocking Nato's new Baltic defence plan, demanding greater support in its fight against the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).

Nato has mooted a plan to bolster the defences of Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia against a potential attack from Russia, though details remain unclear.

Macron and Erdogan will come face to face on Tuesday in a four-way meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose spokesman said he would be emphasising the need for Nato unity.

"We can see this as likely the tale of three egos," said Amanda Sloat, a former senior diplomat and a fellow of the Brookings Institution, warning that Trump, Macron and Erdogan were the figures to watch.

The summit also comes at an unexpectedly awkward moment for Johnson, with Britain in the midst of a frenetic election campaign.

Normally a summit like this would give the PM of the day a boost but with Trump deeply unpopular among many British voters, his visit is a potential banana skin for Johnson.

The substance of the meeting is thin, with only one three-hour session planned, where leaders are expected to sign off on a set of decisions already taken by Nato foreign and defence ministers.

These include making space a full domain of conflict - alongside land, sea, air and cyber space - as well as a new report on how the alliance should approach China and its growing international assertiveness.

What is likely to be more significant in the longer run is the fallout from Macron's broadside, in which he complained Nato talks too much about money and not enough about strategic priorities.

In response, Germany has suggested setting up an expert panel to look at how Nato can be adapted to address political questions more effectively.

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Women´s Handball WC Day 2

With the 2019 IHF Women’s WC taking place in Japan handball fan in North and South America probably aren’t going to be able to watch very many matches live. Japan is 14 hours ahead of the U.S. East Coast and most matches take place in the wee hours of the morning. Even fans in Europe might be a little challenged with the 8 hour time difference. Certainly, during the week when folks have to work.

Of course, if you want to know the result of any match, social media and the IHF will quickly tell you who won and how.

But, what if you don’t want to know? What, if you prefer to watch without knowing who’s going to win?

Well, it’s not always easy to remain oblivious, but I’m going to try and help you do so with “Spoiler Free” links to match video. Along, with a few notes as to what’s on the line for that upcoming matches.

Also, if you find yourself geoblocked out of the IHF web stream this article has some tips that should help you find a way to watch: Link

Sunday, 1 December

Group B
Brazil vs France Video Link
Australia vs Germany Video Link
S Korea vs Denmark Video Link (With Commentary from Paul Bray)

Both Brazil and France lost on the first day of competition. France to South Korea and Brazil to Germany, so both sides will want to avoid going 0-0-2. Australia will be huge underdogs to Germany while S Korea and Denmark will both try to move to 2-0-0 in the Group

Group C
Kazakhstan vs Montenegro Video Link
Spain vs Hungary Video Link (With Commentary from Paul Bray)
Senegal vs Romania Video Link

Kazakhstan will be a big underdog vs Montenegro. Spain and Hungary both won their matches, so that is a battle of unbeaten teams. Senegal gave Montenegro a close game while Romania was blown out by Spain. Could be interesting to see whether Romania can bounce back.

France vs Brazil: 2 teams desperate to avoid going 0-0-2 to start the competition
  • Published in Sports

‘Can you imagine our troops coming to France without invitation?’ Bashar Assad blasts French ‘occupation’ of Syria

There’s no major difference between supporting terrorism on Syrian soil and sending troops there without formal approval from its government, Bashar Assad said as he lambasted France’s role in Syria’s civil war.

Syria has “come a long way” toward defeating much of the terrorist insurgency on its soil, but pockets of resistance still remain as jihadists are receiving support from Turkey and Western countries, Bashar Assad told Paris Match magazine, singling out the US, the UK and “especially France.”

France has joined the US-led anti-Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) coalition, providing air support and deploying special forces to Syria. But for Assad, the French intervention amounted to an “occupation,” as Paris – like its major NATO ally Washington – failed to secure Damascus’ authorization of the mission.

Do you frankly think that we can send Syrian forces to fight terrorism in France without being invited by the French government? International law governs the behavior of states in the world, not [their] intentions.

Now, when foreign forces came to Syria without being invited by the legitimate government, “it is [called] occupation,” the Syrian president insisted, adding, “there is not a big difference between supporting terrorism and deploying the military to occupy a country.”

Dubbed Operation Chammal, the French deployment was, officially, to carry out reconnaissance flights and aid Kurdish and Arab fighters in Syria. At peak times, France’s assets in the Middle East included a Charles de Gaulle carrier strike group, a fighter jet squadron as well as several marine units on the ground.

The interview came on the back of the Syrian army’s advances in the northern province of Idlib. The troops are now trying to fight their way toward the last militant-held towns along the strategic Damascus-Aleppo highway.

Also on rt.com Britain and France will send forces to Syria ...but Americans will pay for it, report suggests...

As the fighting continues, Assad said Syria can handle the war without any backing from the West. “We can manage our own business ... But we want to come back to a world order that is no longer respected, because chaos reigns,” he concluded.

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IOC praise Paris 2024 progress at delivery partners meeting

International Olympic Committee (IOC) Coordination Commission chairman Pierre-Olivier Beckers-Vieujant has claimed Paris 2024 has completed a "tremendous amount of work", after organisers provided a progress update this week.

The Organising Committee updated the IOC on several areas at the delivery partners meeting in the French capital, including venues, the masterplan for the Paralympic Games and the response to the launch of Paris 2024's new logo.

Sponsorship was also discussed following the recent signing of EDF as the second premium partner of the Games in the French capital.

It has been a hot topic for organisers in recent weeks following opposition from Paris 2024 to Airbnb becoming part of The Olympic Partner sponsorship scheme.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has been a prominent critic of the company, while French hoteliers have announced the suspension of their participation in the Games because of the deal.

In response, the IOC said Paris 2024 is free to negotiate a sponsorship agreement with a hotel partner, in spite of the new worldwide sponsorship agreement with the room-renting platform.

The IOC praised the work of Paris 2024 and its President Tony Estanguet ©Getty Images
The IOC praised the work of Paris 2024 and its President Tony Estanguet ©Getty Images

The Terre de Jeux 2024 project, which allows towns and cities the opportunity to become training centres for the Games, was among the other topics raised at the fourth delivery partners meeting, along with the launch of construction work at the Athletes' Village earlier this month.

The IOC said it was "delighted to hear that the first developers had been appointed" for the Village, one of the two facilities being built from scratch for the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics.

"The Paris 2024 Organising Committee, under the leadership of Tony Estanguet, has completed a remarkable amount of work over the past five months," Beckers-Vieujant said.

"The new Paris emblem has been warmly welcomed by the French population; the first 500 towns, cities and regions have been announced for the 'Terre de Jeux 2024' project; a second French domestic partner has been signed; and all the major Games planning milestones have been reached.

"If you add to this the progress being made on the Olympic Village, we leave Paris very excited about the coming year, which will see a combination of important decisions and special events for these Games. 

"Whether it is the finalisation of venue locations or receiving the Olympic flag at the Closing Ceremony of Tokyo 2020, Paris 2024 is preparing to show the world the best of France and a spectacular edition of the Olympic Games."

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Yellow Vests Vow to Continue Rallies on Anniversary of Movement, Say Government Deaf to Protests

As France marks the first anniversary of now-famous France's yellow vest protests, which left an ever-lasting imprint on the society and politics, the demonstrators are still determined to continue with protests as the government has not heard all their demands.

The anniversary of the movement was marred by scuffles across the country on Saturday. The rallies turned violent in the heart of Paris, with protesters clashing with police officers and the latter resorting to tear gas and water cannon. Over 260 people were detained during the Saturday protests across the nation, while more than 170 were apprehended in the capital, according to the recent data from the Interior Ministry.

France, especially Paris, has been swept by yellow vest protests since mid-November 2018. Started initially as rallies against fuel tax hikes, the protests then grew into a full-scale movement which representatives took to the streets every Saturday. After the government abandoned its plans on raising the fuel tax, protesters continued hitting the streets across France, demanding fewer taxes, wage hikes and even the resignation of French President Emmanuel Macron.

© Sputnik / Sputnik
Yellow Vests Protests

The rallies often ended in violent confrontations between police and demonstrators, with the later hurling stones and projectiles at officers, smashing cars and shop windows and erecting and subsequently burning barricades. Police repeatedly resorted to tear gas and water cannon to disperse the most violent demonstrators. The clashes resulted in numerous injuries, some very severe, among both police and protesters.

STILL NOT HEARD

Sophie Tissier, from Decla ta manif group (Declare your manifestation) says that Macron has not heard any of the protesters' demands. For example, he ignores the calls to organise a Citizens' initiative referendum, a proposed process that allows the citizens to have their say in proposition or abrogation of laws, she adds.

"He allocated some benefits in January to calm the protests. But in fact, these are just crumbs. And most importantly, he continues his reforms, including a pension system reform. He also continues to reduce family benefits", Tissier said.

Many yellow vests today continue to hit the streets of the French cities to demand the reorganisation of the political system. One of the calls of the protesters is the dissolution of the National Assembly, the lower house of the French parliament, a call, which they continue to make, along with others at the upcoming protests.

"At first we came to the streets to say that there is a lot of poverty and social injustice in the country. But then the yellow vests started saying that there was not enough civilian control of political institutions", Tissier continued.

The protesters continue to call for "tax justice" which is a reduction of taxes on basic food and hygiene products, she said.

RAISING AWARENESS

Yet, even though not all yellow vest calls were heard, the protests were successful in general, according to Tissier.

"For me [the demonstrations] were a success, in any case, we awakened the consciousness of people who were apolitical, who felt powerless and who tolerated the system without raising their heads", she said.

Meanwhile, the number of participants in demonstrations is decreasing significantly. Roughly a year ago, some 282,000 people joined the marches. This Saturday, only 28,000 people gathered for the demonstrations.

Yellow Vests' Protest
© Sputnik / Julien Matthias
Yellow Vests' Protest

Tissier believes that bans on the demonstrations, as well as and police violence are the reasons for the decline in attendance.

"Of course, there are people who believe that the movement lacks a basic organisation. In addition, we do not have a reliable leader. But in any case, the first reason for the decline in activity is police violence and bans [on the protests]," she says.

HEAVY LOAD ON POLICE

The work of police officers is also taking a real hit these days. Eric Roman, the national secretary of the Policiers en Colere (Police in Anger) police union said that officers who were called to constrain the demonstrations also suffered an immense load.

"Exhaustion, depression, suicide, administrative and criminal cases, nearly 2,500 [police officers] injured", said Roman said, stressing that the government was also deaf to their calls.

According to him, initially, police officers shared the views of the yellow vests because the rallies raised the problems of the poor.

"But the violence on both sides created a huge chasm", he said.

A year into the protests resulted not only in the decline of the participants but also in the decline of the level of support for the movement. According to opinion polls from December 2019, yellow vests had the support of 70 percent of French citizens. However, in February 2019, more than half of the respondents - 56 percent - voiced their support for the end of the demonstrations.

According to the recent Elabe survey, conducted on the eve of the anniversary of the protests, some 63 percent of the French said they would not like the protests to be resumed, while 27 percent expressed support for the increase in the volume of the movement.

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Cuban Revolution in cinema posters exhibited in French museum

Paris, Oct 31 (Prensa Latina) Through 300 posters gathered in the Cuban Posters, Revolution and Cinema exhibition, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Museum of Decorative Arts) in Paris offers as of Thursday the opportunity to approach one of the main political events of the 20th century.

Scheduled until February 2 at the institution located on one of the wings of the Louvre Palace, the exhibition was officially opened on Wednesday evening, to which Cuban ambassador to France Elio Rodriguez, officials of the island's diplomatic mission and dozens of guests from sectors of society, attended.

The exhibition's curator Amelie Gastaut and Italian collector Luigino Bardellotto, who contributed many of those posters, shared with Rodriguez some details of the distinctive initiative.

Key figures of the revolutionary process, such as leader Fidel Castro and Commanders Camilo Cienfuegos and Ernesto Che Guevara, and significant moments ranging from the victory in Playa Giron (Bay of Pigs) over the US- orchestrated mercenary invasion in 1961, the 10-million ton sugar harvest and the 1st Congress of the Communist Party, are evoked from a part of those posters.

The other part of the exhibition gathers the cinema atmosphere in Cuba, with posters reminiscent of classics such as 'Lucia,' 'Memorias del Subdesarrollo' (Memories of Underdevelopment) and 'Fresa y Chocolate' (Strawberry and Chocolate), or foreign films by Akira Kurozawa, Alfred Joseph Hitchcock and Steven Spielberg.

Although most of those films date from 60s and 70s of the 20th century, described as golden era of the Cuban posters, 80s and 90s are also present in the exhibition.

  • Published in Culture

Renewable energy centers new cooperation project France-Cuba

The EDF Foundation today announced its financial support for the establishment in the Cuban province of Cienfuegos of a training center in renewable energies, a project resulting from relations between the island and Cuba Cooperation France (CubaCoop).

The support with 50 thousand Euros to the initiative presented by authorities of the central Cuban territory constitutes an important contribution of the Foundation of EDF, the main electricity generation and distribution company in France, for the materialization of the premises in the first half of next year.

In the last decade, dozens of projects have benefited the inhabitants of Cienfuegos as a result of the joint work of the province and the CubaCoop association, created in 1995 to promote ties of friendship and solidarity with the Caribbean country.

Once the center has been created, many young people will be able to train with the necessary resources in the field of renewable energy, a strategic area in the greater part of the West Indies for socio-economic development in harmony with nature, for its value in the fight against climate change.

It also supports the government's decision to boost import substitution in the energy sector.

The idea of contributing to the promotion of renewable energies is part of an experience of more than 10 years of close ties with Cienfuegos, said Víctor Fernández, president of CubaCoop, a French organization dedicated to decentralized cooperation.

In a recent visit to this capital, the president of the Provincial Assembly of Popular Power in Cienfuegos, Mairelys Pernía, recognized the successes of this relationship and stressed the mutual interest in promoting it.

  • Published in Cuba
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