PARIS — French yellow vest protesters set fires Saturday along a march through Paris to drive home their message to a government they believe is ignoring the poor: that rebuilding the fire-ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral isn’t the only problem France needs to solve.
Like the high-visibility vests the protesters wear, the scattered small fires in Paris appeared to be a collective plea to French President Emmanuel Macron’s government to “look at me — I need help too!”
Police fired water cannon and sprayed tear gas to try to control radical elements rampaging on the margins of the largely peaceful march, one of several actions around Paris and other French cities.
The protests marked the 23rd straight weekend of yellow vest actions against Macron’s centrist government, which they see as favoring the wealthy and big business. Protesters view themselves as standing up for beleaguered French workers , students and retirees who have been battered by high unemployment, high taxes and shrinking purchasing power.
But violence and divisions have marred the movement.
Associated Press reporters saw a car, motorbikes and barricades set ablaze around the Place de la Republique plaza in eastern Paris. The smell of tear gas mixed with the smoke, choking the air.
Paris firefighters — who struggled earlier this week to prevent the 12th-century Notre Dame from collapsing — quickly responded to extinguish the flames at Saturday’s protest. Read the rest of this entry »
Topless FEMEN activists wearing masks of Russian President Vladimir Putin and National Front leader Marine Le Pen protested outside the Henin-Beaumont voting station on Sunday, as Le Pen arrived to cast her ballot.
Topless demonstrators from the Femen activist group have caused a commotion as they staged a stunt against Marine Le Pen outside a polling station where the far-right presidential candidate was heading to vote.
Around six topless Femen activists were detained Sunday morning after jumping out of an SUV limo wearing masks of Le Pen and United States President Donald Trump.
Police and security forces quickly forced them into police vans, confiscating their signs.
Le Pen voted at the station shortly after without further disruption.
The election is taking place amid heightened security. The government has mobilized more than 50,000 police and gendarmes to protect polling stations. (more)
the Paris terrorist attack would boost Marine Le Pen’s presidential chances after a last-minute poll gave her a modest increase in support.Donald Trump has said
The US president said the shooting would “probably help” Ms Le Pen in Sunday’s election, because she is “strongest on borders, and she’s the strongest on what’s been going on in France.”
“Whoever is the toughest on radical Islamic terrorism, and whoever is the toughest at the borders, will do well in the election,” he said.
US presidents typically avoid weighing in on specific candidates running in overseas election. But Mr Trump suggested his opinion was no different from an average observer, saying: “Everybody is making predictions on who is going to win. I’m no different than you.”
Cancelling visits and meetings on Friday, candidates traded blows across the airwaves as it emerged that the Isil-backed gunman had been kept in custody just 24 hours in February despite attempts to procure weapons to murder police.
Xavier Jugelé, 37, a policeman who had been deployed in the 2015 Bataclan attack, was killed in the shooting.
Ms Le Pen, the far-Right candidate, blasted the mainstream “naive” Left and Right for failing to get tough on Islamism, calling for France to instantly reinstate border checks and expel foreigners who are on the watch lists of intelligence services.
François Fillon, the mainstream conservative candidate, pledged an “iron fist” in the fight against “Islamist totalitarianism” – his priority if elected. “We are at war, it’s either us or them,” said the conservative, whose campaign has been weighed down by allegations he gave his British wife a “fake job”.
Meanwhile, Emmanuel Macron, the independent centrist, whom critics dismiss as a soft touch, hit back at claims shutting borders and filling French prisons would solve the problem, saying: “There’s no such thing as zero risk. Anyone who pretends (otherwise) is both irresponsible and deceitful.”
Sticking to his campaign agenda, far-Left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon told everyone to keep a “cool head” as he took part in a giant picnic.
A last-minute Odoxa poll taken after the attack suggested that Mr Macron was still on course to come first in Sunday’s first round, with Ms Le Pen just behind and through to the May 7 runoff. Read the rest of this entry »