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Yellow Vest Anger Burns in France, Fueled by Notre Dame Fire

AP photo/Francisco Seco

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 »

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[VIDEO] France Elections: Topless FEMEN Activists Storm Voting Station Wearing Putin, Le Pen Masks

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.

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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.

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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)

Source: fox8live

 


The French, Coming Apart

A social thinker illuminates his country’s populist divide.

Christopher Caldwell writes: The real-estate market in any sophisticated city reflects deep aspirations and fears. If you had a feel for its ups and downs—if you understood, say, why young parents were picking this neighborhood and drunks wound up relegated to that one—you could make a killing in property, but you also might be able to pronounce on how society was evolving more generally. In 2016, a real-estate developer even sought—and won—the presidency of the United States.

In France, a real-estate expert has done something almost as improbable. Christophe Guilluy calls himself a geographer. But he has spent decades as a housing consultant in various rapidly changing neighborhoods north of Paris, studying gentrification, among other things. And he has crafted a convincing narrative tying together France’s various social problems—immigration tensions, inequality, deindustrialization, economic decline, ethnic conflict, and the rise of populist parties. Such an analysis had previously eluded the Parisian caste of philosophers, political scientists, literary journalists, government-funded researchers, and party ideologues.

“The young men living in the northern Paris suburbs feel a burning solidarity with their Muslim brethren in the Middle East.”

Guilluy is none of these. Yet in a French political system that is as polarized as the American, both the outgoing Socialist president François Hollande and his Gaullist predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy sought his counsel. Marine Le Pen, whose National Front dismisses both major parties as part of a corrupt establishment, is equally enthusiastic about his work. Guilluy has published three books, as yet untranslated, since 2010, with the newest, Le crépuscule de la France d’en haut (roughly: “The Twilight of the French Elite”), arriving in bookstores last fall. The volumes focus closely on French circumstances, institutions, and laws, so they might not be translated anytime soon. But they give the best ground-level look available at the economic, residential, and democratic consequences of globalization in France. They also give an explanation for the rise of the National Front that goes beyond the usual imputation of stupidity or bigotry to its voters. Guilluy’s work thus tells us something important about British voters’ decision to withdraw from the European Union and the astonishing rise of Donald Trump—two phenomena that have drawn on similar grievances.

[Read the full story here, at City Journal]

At the heart of Guilluy’s inquiry is globalization. Internationalizing the division of labor has brought significant economic efficiencies. But it has also brought inequalities unseen for a century, demographic upheaval, and cultural disruption. Now we face the question of what—if anything—we should do about it.

TOPSHOTS Police officers stand guard as an operation takes place in the Molenbeek district of Brussels on November 16, 2015. Belgian police launched a major new operation in the Brussels district of Molenbeek, where several suspects in the Paris attacks had previously lived, AFP journalists said. Armed police stood in front of a police van blocking a street in the run-down area of the capital while Belgian media said officers had surrounded a house. Belgian prosecutors had no immediate comment. AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYSJOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images

A process that Guilluy calls métropolisation has cut French society in two. In 16 dynamic urban areas (Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Toulouse, Lille, Bordeaux, Nice, Nantes, Strasbourg, Grenoble, Rennes, Rouen, Toulon, Douai-Lens, and Montpellier), the world’s resources have proved a profitable complement to those found in France. These urban areas are home to all the country’s educational and financial institutions, as well as almost all its corporations and the many well-paying jobs that go with them. Here, too, are the individuals—the entrepreneurs and engineers and CEOs, the fashion designers and models, the film directors and chefs and other “symbolic analysts,” as Robert Reich once called them—who shape the country’s tastes, form its opinions, and renew its prestige. Cheap labor, tariff-free consumer goods, and new markets of billions of people have made globalization a windfall for such prosperous places. But globalization has had no such galvanizing effect on the rest of France. Cities that were lively for hundreds of years—Tarbes, Agen, Albi, Béziers—are now, to use Guilluy’s word, “desertified,” haunted by the empty storefronts and blighted downtowns that Rust Belt Americans know well.

[Order Christopher Caldwell’s book Reflections on the Revolution In Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West from Amazon.com]

Guilluy doubts that anyplace exists in France’s new economy for working people as we’ve traditionally understood them. Paris offers the most striking case. As it has prospered, the City of Light has stratified, resembling, in this regard, London or American cities such as New York and San Francisco. It’s a place for millionaires, immigrants, tourists, and the young, with no room for the median Frenchman. Paris now drives out the people once thought of as synonymous with the city.

Yet economic opportunities for those unable to prosper in Paris are lacking elsewhere in France. Journalists and politicians assume that the stratification of France’s flourishing metropoles results from a glitch in the workings of globalization. Somehow, the rich parts of France have failed to impart their magical formula to the poor ones. Fixing the problem, at least for certain politicians and policy experts, involves coming up with a clever shortcut: perhaps, say, if Romorantin had free wireless, its citizens would soon find themselves wealthy, too. Guilluy disagrees. For him, there’s no reason to expect that Paris (and France’s other dynamic spots) will generate a new middle class or to assume that broad-based prosperity will develop elsewhere in the country (which happens to be where the majority of the population live). If he is right, we can understand why every major Western country has seen the rise of political movements taking aim at the present system. Read the rest of this entry »


Le Pen Rises After Paris Attack

Donald Trump has said the Paris terrorist attack would boost Marine Le Pen’s presidential chances after a last-minute poll gave her a modest increase in support.

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 »


Sacre Bleu! Le Pen Leads New Opinion Poll 

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A new poll from Ifop-Fiducial released Tuesday shows Le Pen at first place with the backing of 26.5 percent of voters, while her moderate center-right rival Francois Fillon, of Les Republicains, would receive just over 24 percent of the vote, the poll suggested.

“He is putting in place measures I have been demanding for years.”

— Le Pen said of Trump

The new poll, which was conducted the first week of January, was based on a sample of 1,860 registered voters and has a margin of error of 1.3 percent.

The poll represents the first time Le Pen has led with voters since November, and coincides with a noticeable decline in popularity for Fillon, who was polling at roughly 28 percent in December. Read the rest of this entry »


Sacré Bleu!! France’s New Economy Minister Stirs Tempête de Merde on his First Day Freaking Out the Socialists with Suggestion they Ditch the 35-Hour Work Week

France Cabinet Reshuffle

“We could allow companies and sectors … to depart from the rules on working time and pay. This is already possible for companies in difficulty.”

Francois Hollande’s economy minister caused a storm on his first day in office Friday by casting doubt on a central pillar of French Socialism: the 35-hour working week.

French President Francois Hollande, left, shakes hands with new French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron while French Finance Minister Michel Sapin, centre, looks on, after the weekly cabinet meeting in Paris,on Wednesday. Remy de la Mauviniere / Associated Press

French President Francois Hollande, left, shakes hands with new French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron while French Finance Minister Michel Sapin, centre, looks on, after the weekly cabinet meeting in Paris,on Wednesday. Remy de la Mauviniere / Associated Press

“Why not extend it to all companies, provided there is a broad agreement with the employees?”

— French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron

Emmanuel Macron, a 36-year-old former Rothschild banker, told Le Point, a weekly magazine, that he supported companies and sectors of the economy that wished to “depart from” the law. Read the rest of this entry »