French Govt. Increases Security Forces in Yellow Vests Protest

Paris, Jan 12 (Prensa Latina) French authorities will strengthen security for the yellow vest movement protests, reaching this ninth consecutive Saturday of actions across the country.

Over 80,000 policemen and gendarmes will be mobilized throughout the country, 5,000 of whom will be in Paris, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced.

The aim is to prevent the violent clashes that happened in the most recent demonstrations between the security forces and some demonstrators, he said.

The issue generates a strong controversy because during mobilizations there has been car, motorcycle and garbage dump burning, setting-off of firecrackers, as well as the use of tear gas and rubber bullets by the police.

Facing such events, the major figures of the yellow vest movement insist that rioters are small groups of people who do not represent the majority, which adopts a position of peaceful reclamation before the authorities.

They also denounce that government and media focus on these violent incidents to justify the police attack and to distort the essence of the mobilization.

On the other hand, the Paris police prefect, Michel Delpuech, indicated in statements to TV that massive demonstrations are expected for this Saturday, with a much higher attendance than last Saturday.

The director general of the National Police, Éric Morvan, said in statements to Radio France Inter that 'we foresee a return to a level of mobilization similar to that seen before the Christmas holidays.

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France's crackdown on protesters: 'Govt has nothing to offer except blood, sweat & tears'

In democracy, you can't ban people from expressing their opinions and anger during a demonstration, publisher and writer Aymeric Monville told RT, commenting on the French government's plan to crack down on unsanctioned protests.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Monday that tougher punishments will be introduced for rioters with 80,000 members of the security forces to be deployed next weekend. The government plans to draft new legislation that will ban troublemakers from marches and clamp down on the wearing of masks at demonstrations.

Publisher and writer Aymeric Monville told RT that the spirit of this new law is "to treat the demonstrators like they were hooligans."

Read more French PM says new, tougher laws on unauthorized protests coming in wake of Yellow Vest clashes
 
French PM says new, tougher laws on unauthorized protests coming in wake of Yellow Vest clashes

"In France you can prevent hooligans from going to the football match; it will be the same with the demonstrators. The problem in the democracy – you can't ban people from expressing their opinion and anger during a demonstration; it is completely silly," he said.

While the announced government measures against violence in the protest movement received mixed reactions, President Emmanuel Macron's plan for a nationwide public debate also received a lot of attention. 

On Tuesday, the official appointed by the government to lead a national debate quit following a controversy over her salary. It was revealed that the former sports minister, Chantal Jouanno, was paid over €14,000 per month to head France's National Commission for Public Debate.

That is while many protesters "can't feed their children," Monville noted.

"It is so blatant, it is like at the time of the absolute monarchy – Marie-Antoinette [allegedly] said if people don't have bread, let them eat cake – if they don't have bread, let them debate," he said.

"The government doesn't have anything to offer except blood, sweat and tears."

Monville said that philosopher Luc Ferry, who was close to government circles, suggested the police should be allowed to use guns on protesters. "But people are not cattle; as human beings they can respond… You can slip into a civil war. It is a very risky situation, because the government doesn't have any answer," Monville argued.

Commenting on the violence during the recent Yellow Vests protests, Monville said it is necessary to distinguish between two kinds of protesters.

"You have the violence on the streets, you have burnt cars – they have nothing to do with the real movement. The Yellow Vests' pressure is to block the roundabouts, all refineries… to block the economy. And that is what annoys the government and big businesses in France."

That is the violence they cannot stand and will impose state violence against it, he said.

Also on rt.com Fall of Empires: London, Washington & Paris on brink of collapse (by George Galloway)....

Yellow Vests split

RT also discussed the latest demonstrations and the PM's announcement with Dr. Paul Smith, associate professor in French and Francophone Studies at the University of Nottingham, who believes that there is a split within the Yellow Vests movement.

"This weekend might have been a tipping point… there is clearly within the Yellow Vest movement a split between the very hard liners, the men and women of violence,  and those who want this to be a peaceful demonstration," he said.  

He noted that on Sunday there was a big demonstration by women in yellow vests insisting on the peaceful aspect of the Gilets Jaunes movement. He also pointed out that the moderates within the movement are talking about founding their own political party to press their issues and ideas in a peaceful way.

Read more The Emerging: Yellow Vest ex-rep seeks to create political party of ‘common sense’
 
The Emerging: Yellow Vest ex-rep seeks to create political party of ‘common sense’

"Whereas there is still this hardcore and someone might not even be authentic Gilet Jaunes, quite a lot of anarchist troublemakers are involved in and, not to say, extreme alt-right elements involved as well," he added.  

Commenting on the French PM's statement on security measures, Smith said that "the prime minster [is] saying we are not going to be pushed around, the rule of law will continue."  

According to Smith, some of the crowds are "legitimate Gilet Jaunes" while there also are "professional protesters, black blocs, the anarchist movement."

"On the alt-right there are even some who are kind of a leftover of protests against other legislation from the previous presidency. This is kind of an amalgamation of the anti-everybody league. Plus legitimate Gilets Jaunes who are involved as well. And it is very much of an amalgam of all of those elements. The volume aspect is certainly on the decrease," he told RT.

In his opinion, the government is saying that the law is the law.

"Last week we saw one of the ring leaders was arrested for getting involved deliberately – by his own admission – in an unauthorized demonstration, and you and I know how much the French love to demonstrate," he said.

He said that France has clear laws about when and where you can demonstrate, and declaring where you demonstrate. He believes the government is saying "you can do these things, but you have to respect the law."

"The other thing that is happening in the background is that now they have just opened or about to open this process of public consultation that is linked to the whole movement. So, there are two things happening – the government is saying the dialogue is now open and that is a peaceful thing and that happens through the 36,000 town halls across France. And that will be their way – their means of separating the 'legitimate' Gilets Jaunes movement and those who want to continue down the path of violence."

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‘We didn’t listen to people’: French PM admits mistakes in dealing with Yellow Vest rallies

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has acknowledged that the government made mistakes while handing the massive Yellow Vest protests that have gripped the country for the past five weeks.

“We made mistakes. We did not listen enough to the French people. I remain convinced that they want this country to be transformed,” he told Les Echoes newspaper on Sunday.

READ MORE: 'Macron… WHAT?' French TV channel 'censors' photo of Yellow Vest protester’s placard (PHOTOS)

Violence at the demonstrations has been hitting record levels with hundreds of protesters injured since November 17. At least seven people died during the protests. Police officers have also suffered injuries.

Also on rt.com Lightsaber-wielding Sith, bare-breasted Mariannes & Santas add flair to Yellow Vest protests

French cities descended into chaos, with protesters smashing store windows, looting, overturning cars, and burning barricades. City centers were shrouded in fog from tear gas, smoke grenades and firecrackers. Earlier in December, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire admitted that the protests were a “catastrophe” for the country's economy and businesses.

READ MORE: Protests turn violent as Yellow Vests clash with police (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

WATCH Yellow Vest: From anti-fuel tax demos to anti-govt rallies in 4 weeks

There was massive security at the rallies, with tens of thousands of police officers deployed. Heavy armored vehicles belonging to French Gendarmerie – military police – rolled in the streets of the capital and several other cities. The number of those detained throughout the protests has surpassed 4,500.

People initially protested against fuel-price hikes due to come into force this January. The government has since abandoned those plans, but demonstrators continued to demand more concessions, including lower taxes and even the resignation of Emmanuel Macron.

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Strasbourg attack not a govt conspiracy to undermine Yellow Vests – Interior Ministry official

The Strasbourg shooting, which claimed two lives on Tuesday night, was not a secret government ploy to undermine the mass protests gripping France for weeks, contrary to rumors online, a senior official has said.

Secretary of State for the Interior Ministry Laurent Nuñez said he was “outraged” by claims that the attack in Strasbourg may benefit the government in its struggle against the so-called Yellow Vest movement.

., secrétaire d'État auprès du ministre de l'Intérieur : "Je suis indigné [...] on est clairement dans les thèses complotistes"

“I don’t understand how anybody could imagine this… We should call it for what it is – such ideas are obviously coming from conspiracy theorists,” he told the media.

According to tweets and other remarks, such conspiracy theories flourish among the ranks of the ‘Yellow Vests’. And this is yet another proof. Saying such things is, frankly speaking, disgraceful.

In the wake of the shooting, all mass gatherings had been banned in Strasbourg by the government. No restrictions were placed on public events in other parts of France though.

The Yellow Vests or Gilets Jaunes is the movement which stemmed from opposition to the French government’s economic reforms. They took the name after the safety clothing of motorists, adopted as a symbol of resistance to a hike in fuel tax, the move that turned brewing discontent into mass protests in mid-November.

This month, the mass protests escalated into clashes with riot police and mass vandalism on a scale unseen for years in France. Their demands also changed, as they started calling for the resignation of the government, possibly fueled by limited economic concessions combined with a heavy-handed police response to the protests.

The shooting in Strasbourg’s old city left two people dead and 14 injured in an apparent act of terrorism targeting people visiting a Christmas market. The shooter was identified as a local man, who had been placed on the police watch list over possible radicalization. He is believed to have been arrested and searched prior to the attack in connection with a homicide-robbery case.

 

 
 

 

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Trump fires back at European leaders after damp reception in France

President Trump lashed out at European leaders after French President Emmanuel Macron denounced his ‘America First’ brand of nationalism and called for the creation of a European army, independent from the US.

“Just returned from France where much was accomplished in my meetings with World Leaders,” Trump tweeted on Monday. “Never easy bringing up the fact that the US must be treated fairly, which it hasn’t, on both Military and Trade. We pay for LARGE portions of other countries military protection, hundreds of billions of dollars, for the great privilege of losing hundreds of billions of dollars with these same countries on trade.”

@realDonaldTrump Just returned from France where much was accomplished in my meetings with World Leaders. Never easy bringing up the fact that the U.S. must be treated fairly, which it hasn’t, on both Military and Trade. We pay for LARGE portions of other countries military protection,........

@realDonaldTrump .....hundreds of billions of dollars, for the great privilege of losing hundreds of billions of dollars with these same countries on trade. I told them that this situation cannot continue - It is, and always has been, ridiculously unfair to the United States. Massive amounts.....

@realDonaldTrump .....of money spent on protecting other countries, and we get nothing but Trade Deficits and Losses. It is time that these very rich countries either pay the United States for its great military protection, or protect themselves...and Trade must be made FREE and FAIR!

Trump’s tirade came just one day after French President Emmanuel Macron – once regarded as a close confidant of the US president – rebuked Trump’s ‘America First’ brand of nationalism, comparing it to the forces that plunged Europe into conflict in the early 20th Century.

Speaking at an Armistice Day commemoration in Paris, Macron did not address Trump by name, but warned that "Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism...nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By saying our interests first, who cares about the others, we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great and what is essential: its moral values."

At a recent campaign-style rally, Trump described himself as a “nationalist,” the first time he has done so since taking office. On Monday, the president’s beef with Maron and his European counterparts seemed to be driven more by financial concerns than ideological ones.

READ MORE: Umbrella troubles? Twitter mocks Trump as he bails on WWI commemoration over light rain

Trump has often criticized his European allies for failing to meet their defense spending targets, leaving the US to foot much of Europe’s security bill. At present, only five NATO member states – the US, UK, Greece, Estonia, and Poland – allocate two percent of their GDP to defense spending, a requirement for membership. In 2017, the US spent $686 billion on defense, over double the expenditure of all 28 other states combined.

However, European leaders as of late seem more interested in looking elsewhere for their defense needs. In a radio interview last week, Macron called for the establishment of an EU army that can defend the continent “without relying only on the United States.”

@realDonaldTrump President Macron of France has just suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the U.S., China and Russia. Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the U.S. subsidizes greatly!

Macron’s view was echoed by liberal MEP Guy Verhofstadt, a long-time proponent of a closer-knit, federal Europe. Tweeting on Saturday, Verhofstadt said that Europe cannot be “unprepared for the America First Policy.”

@guyverhofstadt Yes, @ischinger, we need to go to majority voting in the EU & yes @p61pavel we need an integrated defence capacity as a European pillar of NATO. We are stronger together, cannot afford 27 parallel defence budgets nor being unprepared for the America First Policy. https://twitter.com/p61pavel/status/1060976524978016268 

Petr Pavel @p61pavel
Replying to @ischinger

Great idea! Will this European Army be part of or parallel to NATO? And wasn’t NATO designed primarily to defend Europe?

With the commemorations marred by gray skies and constant-drizzle, Trump received the cold shoulder from activists and from the French media too. Ahead of his arrival, French comedian Yann Barthes switched to English on his primetime show, telling Trump to “go and f*** yourself. You’re not welcome in this country.”

As the president’s motorcade rolled down the Champs-Élysées, a topless feminist protester hopped the barricades and ran towards the president’s car with the words “fake peacemaker” scrawled on her chest. Police apprehended the woman, and feminist group FEMEN later released a statement attacking several of the world leaders present at the event, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Bare-breasted FEMEN protester almost throws herself at Trump’s m...

“FEMEN believes that restoring world peace with those who are responsible for the ongoing wars is hypocritical,” the statement said.

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Cuban President Visits France

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel arrived in Paris on Wednesday on a transit visit to France, prior to a tour that will take him to European and Asian countries.

Diaz-Canel will make official visits in the coming days to Russia, China, Vietnam, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Laos.

According to the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the tour will take place between November 1 and 12, and Diaz-Canel will be received by the highest authorities of the State and Government of those nations, with which he will exchange on the bilateral agendas and analyze international issues of common interest.

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Charles Aznavour, French singing star, dies at 94

French singer and songwriter Charles Aznavour has died at 94 after a career lasting more than 80 years, a spokesman has confirmed.

The star died at one of his homes in the south east of France.

The performer, born to Armenian immigrants, sold more than 180 million records and featured in over 60 films.

He was best known for his 1974 hit She and was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2017. Aznavour married three times and had six children.

He was named entertainer of the century by CNN in 1998.

The singer was born in Paris in 1924 to Armenian parents who fled the country's genocide to begin a new life in the French capital.

Aznavour's lyrics drew on his own experiences of growing up in deprivation as an immigrant.

The singer was due to take on a seven-date tour across France and Switzerland, starting in November this year.

He had recently returned from a tour in Japan, having been forced to cancel concerts this summer due to a broken arm.

He recorded more than 1,200 songs in seven different languages and performed in 94 countries.

Aznavour's song She was famously performed by Elvis Costello in the opening credits of Richard Curtis' film Notting Hill.

Dubbed France's Frank Sinatra, Aznavour wrote his own songs on taboo subjects about marriage, homosexuality and male expression of emotions.

His 1973 hit, What Makes a Man, was about a gay transvestite.

https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/660/cpsprodpb/3772/production/_103649141_charles_azanavour_1950_getty.jpg

Still performing to packed stadiums well into his 90s, Aznavour continued to write songs about his life, including his Swedish wife to celebrate 50 years of marriage.

As well as a singer, he was a successful actor and played the lead in the 1960 film Shoot the Piano Player.

He also appeared in the Oscar-winning The Tin Drum, playing a kindly Jewish toy seller.

Aznavour sang for presidents, popes and royal families and at a number of humanitarian events.

President Emmanuel Macron was a big fan of Aznavour and sang many of his songs during karaoke nights with friends when he was a student, according to former classmates.

He was heavily involved in charity work and founded an organisation after the 1988 Armenian earthquake with friend Levon Sayan.

In 2009 he was appointed ambassador of Armenia to Switzerland and he also became Armenia's delegate to the United Nations in Geneva.

Thousands of fans from around the world have paid their respects on Twitter, including some celebrities.

Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan remembered the singer as an "intelligent, eloquent, graceful & charming man."

@piersmorgan RIP Charles Aznavour, 94.

One of the greatest singers the world has seen & such an intelligent, eloquent, graceful & charming man.
Meeting & interviewing him a few months ago was a wonderful experience.
He was everything I hoped he would be.
What a life.
Merci, Maestro.

Musician Reverend Richard Coles suggested that Aznavour was a "better singer" than Sinatra:

BBC 6 Music's Gilles Peterson shared one of his favourite songs by the singer, Hier Encore:

@gillespeterson I grew up with this man's music in the house... Charles Aznavour RIP https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHokx2L1wi4 
  • Published in Culture

Ahed Tamimi Finally Travels to France Despite Israeli Obstacles

Ahed Tamimi, the resistance teen icon from Palestine traveled to France Friday for an event where she asked people to support the Palestinian cause and to boycott Israel.

Ahed Tamimi, the Palestinian resistance icon, traveled to France for a debate on Friday. The young resistance leader was invited by L'Humanité and the French Communist party, or PCF, to participate in an event organized by Association France Palestine Solidarite.

RELATED: 'I Want Palestine to be Free:' Ahed Tamimi to teleSUR

Ahed spoke Sunday at the Festival of Humanity which is organized annually by the PCF, at La Courneuve in Seine-Saint-Denis. "I want to say to Trump that Jerusalem will remain the capital of Palestine”, Ahed Tamimi said in reference to the decision of the U.S. president to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv, addressing thousands of people who attended the last day of the event.

“The Palestinian refugees, we do not need the money of the Americans, but to return to our land” and find “our dignity”, she added. “We must be united in the face of the occupation.”

She went on to describe her own experience as a young Palestinian under Israeli brutal occupation. “When you’re a young Palestinian who is 17 years old today, you suffer on a daily basis the practices of the Israeli occupation ... even Palestinian children are arrested at checkpoints and Israeli-controlled”.

The Palestinian people, Ahed concluded, "we are not victims, we are fighters for freedom.” 

The 17-year-old teenager from Nabi Saleh village in the occupied West Bank was jailed for eight months for slapping two Israeli occupation soldiers who were harassing her family at their home's yard. Her action in December last year was recorded and went viral on social media. attracting applause from the supporters of Palestinian resistance globally, while also infuriating Israelis some of whom asked for her to be shot and killed.

Ahed and her mother Nariman, both had been jailed in an Israeli prison since December 2017 before receiving a few weeks early release in late July.

Ahed received a warm welcome from the people gathered at the event in France where she talked about how her life has changed during her imprisonment. The young resistance icon doesn't regret her actions and said that prison helped her to be more mature. Immediately after her release, while speaking to media, she said she and her other inmates studied international law in the prison.

Speaking to RT during her trip in France, the young Palestinian activist said that despite being released she does not think that she is out of trouble as each of her words can be used against her and land her in prison again.

She further called for boycotting Israel and asked people to spread the truth about the suffering of Palestinians due to Israeli occupation.

The news of her France visit comes just a week after she was informed by Palestinian authorities that she was not allowed to leave the country due to an Israeli ban on her and her family from doing so. Her father had said that they were not given any definite reason for the ban.

Ahed is now expected to travel through Europe to talk about Palestine’s resistance and her time in Israeli prison. Her next stop will be in Spain to participate in more solidarity events.

  • Published in World
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