Posts Tagged ‘French’

Paris Ready For New Yellow Vest Protests

December 15, 2018

Shops along the iconic Champs-Elysees board up windows after last week’s demonstrations included extensive looting and vandalism; 8,000 police officers deployed in French capital

French riot police take position in front of "yellow vest" protesters on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, on December 15, 2018. (Valery Hache/AFP)

French riot police take position in front of “yellow vest” protesters on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, on December 15, 2018. (Valery Hache/AFP)

PARIS (AP) — A strong police presence deployed in Paris on Saturday for planned demonstrations by the “yellow vest” protesters, with authorities repeating calls for calm after protests in previous weekends turned violent.

Security forces in riot gear were positioned around central train stations and along the famed Champs-Elysees boulevard, where shops were closed and their windows boarded up in anticipation of the protests. Authorities have said about 8,000 police and 14 armored vehicles were being deployed in the French capital.

Last weekend, groups of demonstrators smashed and looted stores, clashing with police and setting up burning barricades in the streets.

The “yellow vest” movement, which takes its name from the fluorescent safety vests French motorists must all have in their vehicles, emerged in mid-November as a protest against fuel tax increases. It soon morphed into an expression of rage about the high cost of living in France and a sense that President Emanuel Macron’s government is detached from the everyday struggles of workers.

There was a strong police presence Saturday outside the central Saint Lazare train station, where police in riot gear checked bags. More than 20 police vans and a water cannon truck idled nearby.

A French gendarme conducts searches on ‘yellow vest’ protesters upon their arrival at the Champs Elysees in Paris, on December 15, 2018. (Sameer Al-Doumy/AFP)

Hundreds of people began converging on the Champs-Elysees in the morning.

“We’re here to represent all our friends and members of our family who can’t come to protest, or because they’re scared,” said Pierre Lamy, a 27-year-old industrial worker wearing a yellow vest and with a French flag draped over his shoulders as he walked to the protest with three friends.

He said the protests had long stopped being about the fuel tax and had turned into a movement for economic justice.

“Everything’s coming up now,” Lamy said. “We’re being bled dry.”

A man wearing an Anonymous mask and holding a Star Wars Jedi lightsaber takes part in a “yellow vest” demonstration by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, on December 15, 2018. (Christophe Archambault/AFP)

Macron on Friday called for calm during the demonstrations, and the French government reiterated the call online for demonstrators to remain peaceful.

“Protesting is a right. So let’s know how to exercise it,” the government tweeted from its official account, with a 34-second video which begins with images of historic French protests and recent footage of “yellow vests” rallying peacefully before turning to violence.

“Protesting is not smashing. Protesting is not smashing our heritage. Protesting is not smashing our businesses. … Protesting is not smashing our republic,” the video says.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/heavy-police-presence-in-paris-ahead-of-yellow-vest-protests/

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Yellow Vests: Strong police presence in Paris before planned protests

December 15, 2018

A strong police presence has deployed in Paris before planned demonstrations by the “yellow vest” protesters, with authorities repeating calls for calm after previous violent protests and rioting.

Riot police officers take position during clashes. (File/AP)

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Security forces in riot gear were positioned Saturday morning around central train stations and along the famed Champs-Elysees boulevard, where shops were closed and boarded up in anticipation of the protests.

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Last weekend, groups of demonstrators smashed and looted stores and set up burning barricades in the streets.

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There was a strong police presence outside the central Saint Lazare train station, where police in riot gear checked bags for helmets and other potential signs of trouble. More than 20 police vans and a water cannon truck idled nearby.

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President Emanuel Macron on Friday called for calm during the demonstrations.

Associated Press

See also:

Paris and other French cities braced again as ‘yellow vests’ set for more Saturday protests

https://www.thelocal.fr/20181214/police-preparing-for-more-yellow-vest-protests-in-paris-this-saturday

Paris and other French cities braced again as 'yellow vests' set for more Saturday protests

France Probes Any Russian Role in Yellow-Vest Movement

December 15, 2018
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PARIS—When French President Emmanuel Macron emerged as a leading candidate in 2017, his campaign was targeted by waves of hacking attempts that cybersecurity researchers linked to Moscow.

Now, French security services are investigating any Kremlin role in social media activity that has amplified the yellow-vests movement and spread misinformation about it, helping the protests become the most serious threat to Mr. Macron’s young presidency.

“There has been some suspect activity,” a French cybersecurity official said. “We are in the process of looking at its impact.”

Cybersecurity researchers disagree over whether Kremlin agents have been controlling some of the accounts used to whip up the yellow vests, promote Russian-backed coverage and encourage demonstrators on social networks.

Ryan Fox of New Knowledge, an Austin, Texas-based cybersecurity firm, said it identified several hundred accounts on Twitter and Facebook it says are very likely controlled by Moscow and are active in the movement.

What Is France’s ‘Gilets Jaunes’ or ‘Yellow Vests’ Protest Movement?

What Is France’s ‘Gilets Jaunes’ or ‘Yellow Vests’ Protest Movement?
The “gilets jaunes” or “yellow vests” started out protesting fuel hikes in France’s rural communities. Now, their demonstrations have turned into a national movement against President Emmanuel Macron and his government. Image: Getty

Facebook says that its regular monitoring of social-media accounts for organized interference hasn’t uncovered evidence of a campaign by Moscow or any other foreign government in the yellow vests, or gilets jaunes, movement. A Twitter spokesman declined to comment on the protests.

Graham Brookie, director of the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Atlantic Council in Washington, said his group hasn’t seen significant evidence of state-sponsored interference. “What we have seen is enthusiastic and opportunistic amplification of unrest across a familiar group of strange bedfellows that include pro-Kremlin influencers or media, far-right influencers, and outright conspiracy theorists,” Mr. Brookie said.

Kremlin spokesman Dimitri Peskov has denied any Russian interference in the yellow vests.

The mainly working-class protest movement against Mr. Macron and his economic policies has mobilized hundreds of thousands of people in recent weeks and led to rioting in Paris. More protests are expected this weekend.

Russia has a stake in how the protests play out.

Mr. Macron’s election victory was an unexpected setback for Moscow last year, when pro-Russian candidates François Fillon and Marine Le Pen were leading contenders for the presidency. Mr. Macron has become one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most outspoken critics on the international stage.

In addition to anonymous social-media accounts, pro-Russian activists in France are participating in the protests and helping to turn out demonstrators.

Their involvement reflects Mr. Putin’s role as an inspiration to far-right political activists across the West. The activists see in the yellow vests a grass-roots movement that could hobble or even topple Mr. Macron, a strong supporter of Western institutions such as NATO and the European Union that Mr. Putin views as a threat.

“Macron isn’t legitimate,” said Xavier Moreau, a Franco-Russian businessman who runs a pro-Kremlin website in Moscow. “He rose to power because of a media-legal coup d’état.”

Mr. Moreau, who voted for Mr. Fillon in the last election, donned a yellow vest last Saturday on the Champs Elysees and unfurled a flag of the Donetsk People’s Republic, the breakaway, Russian-backed province of eastern Ukraine. Mr. Moreau has repeatedly traveled to the so-called republic and served as an election observer there.

A photo of Mr. Moreau at the protest with the flag ricocheted across social media, alarming Ukraine’s State Security Service. Its chief posted a statement calling Mr. Moreau a Russian agent. “They have started to create unrest and violence in France behind the backs of peaceful protesters,” the service said.

Mr. Moreau said he isn’t working for the Russian government. “I don’t hide anything,” he said. “I am pro-French and pro-Russian.”

Frank Buhler, a far-right French political activist and Russophile,has been an important online figure in the movement. A former member of Ms. Le Pen’s National Front who was expelled from the party for posting racist remarks on social media, Mr. Buhler posted one of the earlier videos calling for the first yellow vest protest on Nov. 17. His video has been viewed more than 4.5 million times.

He said his involvement in the yellow vests is unrelated to his admiration of Mr. Putin, whom he calls a leader “at the level of Churchill for England, de Gaulle for France or Roosevelt for America.”

“I have never had the least contact with the Russian authorities,” he said.

Mr. Macron has had a contentious relationship with Moscow since the French presidential campaign. The hackers that targeted his campaign used the same techniques, cyber researchers say, as those who penetrated the computer networks of the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election, an operation U.S. intelligence agencies have pinned on Moscow. Mr. Macron also accused Kremlin-backed news agencies Russia Today and Sputnik of spreading smears about his character.

On the eve of the presidential election, hackers leaked a huge cache of documents that was taken from Mr. Macron’s campaign, posting it to a far-right online forum.

Write to Matthew Dalton at Matthew.Dalton@wsj.com

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Why do so many French people need a psychologist or psychiatrist?

December 11, 2018
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The Question: Why do so many French people go to see a 'psy'?
Photo: Deposit photos
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Certainly, when conducting an unscientific survey of friends and acquaintances in France, this writer (who’s half-French, half-British) found that the majority went to see a psychologist regularly or had consulted one in the past.
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A few were also going through long-term psychotherapy or psychoanalysis, one of them ‘just for the sake of it’. The same ‘survey’ with the same number of British counterparts yielded a vastly different response: only one had been, and all the other hadn’t or at least would not admit to it.
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Image result for human brain, pictures
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There’s nothing scientific about this observation of course. But figures seem to suggest this unofficial ‘survey’ is onto something.
.
According to 2015 statistics from the EU, France has 84 psychologists per 100,000 inhabitants which is nearly three times more than the UK which has 32. One third of the French population has been to a psychologist (31% in 2017 according to a YouGov poll), and those numbers have been growing steadily in the past few years: in 2001, only 5 percent had ever been.
.
So what’s the story? Are the French just more comfortable talking about their personal problems and seeking professional help or is there something more behind France’s love of the psy?
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“There is a very long tradition of psychoanalysis in France. The French, from all walks of life, know some basic psy vocabulary, like the Oedipus complex for example, it’s just part of the French culture,” explains Anne Rabary, a clinical psychologist in Paris.
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“There is also distinctive cultural heritage in France when it comes to psychoanalysis. Freud had a big impact here of course, but then there was Lacan and Françoise Dolto,” she added.
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Image result for man sitting on the floor in grief, photos
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Jacques Lacan and Françoise Dolto are leading 20th century psychoanalysts. Dolto, a household name, was also a pediatrician, and her books on childrearing are still commonly given to French women when they first have children.
.
Some experts believe the reason the French are so keen on their psy and psychoanalysis is down to more philosophical and historical reasons.
.
Image result for on the couch, shrink, photos
.
They point to the ‘Cartesian’ nature of French culture, so-called after French 17th century philosopher René Descartes (who coined the famous ‘I think therefore I am’) who believed that mind and body were completely separate, but also the French revolution.
.
“Perhaps it was the Cartesian mind–body dichotomy, coupled with the irreducible individualism enshrined in the 1789 constitution, which created a fertile ground for French psychologists to espouse psychoanalytic principles. Indeed, Freud and Jung had many followers in France, such as Françoise Dolto and Jacques Lacan. This preponderance remains conspicuous today in all areas of psychotherapy,” wrote Cédric Ginestet and Elizabeth Spitz in Psychologist magazine, a publication of the UK’s Royal Society of Psychologists.
.
This may sound a bit theoretical, but it’s clear that psys are well-respected in this country, on a par with France’s intellectuals. Psys such as Boris Cyrulnik, Marcel Rufo or Serge Hefez are household names and they regularly appear on TV, or write columns in women’s magazines. You may not have heard of them but most French people have.
.
(Photo Pascal Pochard-Casabianca, AFP: psychologist Marcel Rufo (right) is interviewed for a woman’s magazine
.
So who goes to the psy, and why?
.
People living in urban areas are more prone to seeing a psy, given the concentration of health professionals in towns and city, and the cost of consulting. And it’s also more accepted.
.
“Although things are changing and psychology has become much more democratic, many people are worried about consulting because they think psys are for mad people or intellectuals living in big cities,” according to Le Cercle Psy magazine.
.
Depression is the main reason, followed by a general feeling of angst followed by stress, anxiety and family problems, according to a report from the French psychology institute Ifemdr.
.
Studies also show that an increasing number of young people are going, and that more women consult than men.
.
“If making an appointment has become a common occurrence, figures regarding men may be slightly skewed. In Western culture, men are still too used to having to show themselves in their best light all the time, and hide it if they’re not well. Some of them prefer not to admit that they are seeing a shrink,” the report said.
.
Catalina Martin-Chico, a French photographer has been seeing a psy for 20 years. She’s been doing a deeper ‘analysis’ for the past 10 years, and goes three times a week.
.
“If you’re doing an analysis, you have to go at least twice a week. I travel quite a lot, so we negotiated a price, and I go three times a week. I think that’s really great, as then you really have time to work on yourself,” she said.
.
Certainly, going to a psy in France isn’t cheap with a consultation costing 50 euros on average. However this year, in a bid to cut down on the number of anti-depressants French people consume, the health authorities introduced a new measure in parts of the country which allows patients with light or moderate mental health problems to get up to 20 consultations for free.
.
The measure is being tested out in four departments (Landes, Morbihan, Bouches-du-Rhône et Haute-Garonne) over the next four years and could be rolled out to the rest of France if it is successful.
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So the numbers of French visiting a psy will likely only rise.
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READ ALSO: 
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France's problem with autism – and its roots in psychoanalysis
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Why Do So many French people Need a Shrink?

December 11, 2018
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In France, or at least in its cities, many people don’t seem to be able to live without their ‘psy’, the nickname they use for a shrink. Is it only a hunch, or are the French really addicted to them and why?
If you live in France, chances are you’ve heard quite a few French people talking about their psy (pronounced psee).
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psy is a collective word that relates to a number of professions: psychologist, psychoanalyst or psychotherapist but not a psychiatrist, who prescribes medicines and is what is referred to in the US as a ‘shrink’. In France, seeing one appears to be something that is mentioned in conversation as breezily as popping out to the boulangerie to get croissants for breakfast.
.
The Question: Why do so many French people go to see a 'psy'?
Photo: Deposit photos
.
But are the French really more into their psys than their European neighbours, or those across the channel anyway?
.
Certainly, when conducting an unscientific survey of friends and acquaintances in France, this writer (who’s half-French, half-British) found that the majority went to see a psychologist regularly or had consulted one in the past.
.
A few were also going through long-term psychotherapy or psychoanalysis, one of them ‘just for the sake of it’. The same ‘survey’ with the same number of British counterparts yielded a vastly different response: only one had been, and all the other hadn’t or at least would not admit to it.
.
There’s nothing scientific about this observation of course. But figures seem to suggest this unofficial ‘survey’ is onto something.
.
Image result for human brain, pictures
.
According to 2015 statistics from the EU, France has 84 psychologists per 100,000 inhabitants which is nearly three times more than the UK which has 32. One third of the French population has been to a psychologist (31% in 2017 according to a YouGov poll), and those numbers have been growing steadily in the past few years: in 2001, only 5 percent had ever been.
.
So what’s the story? Are the French just more comfortable talking about their personal problems and seeking professional help or is there something more behind France’s love of the psy?
.
“There is a very long tradition of psychoanalysis in France. The French, from all walks of life, know some basic psy vocabulary, like the Oedipus complex for example, it’s just part of the French culture,” explains Anne Rabary, a clinical psychologist in Paris.
.
“There is also distinctive cultural heritage in France when it comes to psychoanalysis. Freud had a big impact here of course, but then there was Lacan and Françoise Dolto,” she added.
.
Jacques Lacan and Françoise Dolto are leading 20th century psychoanalysts. Dolto, a household name, was also a pediatrician, and her books on childrearing are still commonly given to French women when they first have children.
.
Some experts believe the reason the French are so keen on their psy and psychoanalysis is down to more philosophical and historical reasons.
.
They point to the ‘Cartesian’ nature of French culture, so-called after French 17th century philosopher René Descartes (who coined the famous ‘I think therefore I am’) who believed that mind and body were completely separate, but also the French revolution.
.
“Perhaps it was the Cartesian mind–body dichotomy, coupled with the irreducible individualism enshrined in the 1789 constitution, which created a fertile ground for French psychologists to espouse psychoanalytic principles. Indeed, Freud and Jung had many followers in France, such as Françoise Dolto and Jacques Lacan. This preponderance remains conspicuous today in all areas of psychotherapy,” wrote Cédric Ginestet and Elizabeth Spitz in Psychologist magazine, a publication of the UK’s Royal Society of Psychologists.
.
This may sound a bit theoretical, but it’s clear that psys are well-respected in this country, on a par with France’s intellectuals. Psys such as Boris Cyrulnik, Marcel Rufo or Serge Hefez are household names and they regularly appear on TV, or write columns in women’s magazines. You may not have heard of them but most French people have.
.
.
(Photo Pascal Pochard-Casabianca, AFP: psychologist Marcel Rufo (right) is interviewed for a woman’s magazine
.
So who goes to the psy, and why?
.
People living in urban areas are more prone to seeing a psy, given the concentration of health professionals in towns and city, and the cost of consulting. And it’s also more accepted.
.
“Although things are changing and psychology has become much more democratic, many people are worried about consulting because they think psys are for mad people or intellectuals living in big cities,” according to Le Cercle Psy magazine.
.
Depression is the main reason, followed by a general feeling of angst followed by stress, anxiety and family problems, according to a report from the French psychology institute Ifemdr.
.
Studies also show that an increasing number of young people are going, and that more women consult than men.
.
“If making an appointment has become a common occurrence, figures regarding men may be slightly skewed. In Western culture, men are still too used to having to show themselves in their best light all the time, and hide it if they’re not well. Some of them prefer not to admit that they are seeing a shrink,” the report said.
.
Catalina Martin-Chico, a French photographer has been seeing a psy for 20 years. She’s been doing a deeper ‘analysis’ for the past 10 years, and goes three times a week.
“If you’re doing an analysis, you have to go at least twice a week. I travel quite a lot, so we negotiated a price, and I go three times a week. I think that’s really great, as then you really have time to work on yourself,” she said.
.
Certainly, going to a psy in France isn’t cheap with a consultation costing 50 euros on average. However this year, in a bid to cut down on the number of anti-depressants French people consume, the health authorities introduced a new measure in parts of the country which allows patients with light or moderate mental health problems to get up to 20 consultations for free.
.
The measure is being tested out in four departments (Landes, Morbihan, Bouches-du-Rhône et Haute-Garonne) over the next four years and could be rolled out to the rest of France if it is successful.

 

French police warn the government: ‘We’re at breaking point’

December 10, 2018
French police express “exhaustion, weariness and deep anger” 
French police have sent a stark warning to the government after another weekend of violence in cities around the country left them “at breaking point”.

The protests began in France four weeks ago against the government’s planned fuel tax hikes and got off to a mainly peaceful start.

But since then they have grown increasingly violent and the list of grievances and gripes against President Emmanuel Macron and his government have ballooned.

While the anger and hatred of protesters is directed at the president, it is being take out on the country’s police forces. For the last three Saturday’s they have come under a hail of cobblestones and bottles, had fireworks aimed at them and at times simply been given the run around by rioters and looters.

French police warn the government: 'We're at breaking point'

Although their response to violence has not always been exemplary as some videos on social media can attest to the French police say they are tired of being the punchbag for Macron and his government..

Last weekend all police leave was cancelled in Paris and 8,000 officers took to the streets of the capital. The previous weekend there were 5,000 on duty when they were overrun by rioters and looters.

Rocco Contento, representative for the Paris Unité-SGP police union, told Franceinfo that the police had been stretched to their limits.

“Police resources are not inexhaustible. We were practically at our maximum. 89 000 members of the armed forces throughout France… We can’t do any more,” he said.

He went on to warn that an untenable amount of pressure has been put on the police to manage a crisis that politicians are responsible for.

“We also want to take off our vests. Not the yellow vests, but our blue vests if this continues. That’s the message that I want to give to the highest state authorities.  We are in a political crisis. It’s not up to the police force to get us out of it, it’s up to politicians,” he said.

(AFP)

Working back-to-back days of long hours in hostile conditions, with breaks and meal times often cancelled, has left police officers exhausted according to Denis Jacob, the spokesman for national police union Alternative Police.

They said of last Saturday’s protests: “If the police have managed the situation perfectly well, with the number of injured significantly lower than the number of those taken in for questioning (1723) the fact remains that we are very tired and weary after successive missions.”

While the police “risk their lives” at work Alternative Police states that unpaid overtime and underpaid night shifts have left them suffering the same poor living conditions as the yellow vests they confront at the weekends.

“Between their responsibility to carry out their missions, maintain order and guarantee everyone’s safety and the feeling that they too are affected by the demands of the yellow vests when it comes to spending power, the police are at breaking point,” they said.

The union has called on the government to deploy an emergency budget to compensate police officers “as a way of showing the gratitude that they like so much to assure us of.”

If their demands are not met they warn the consequences could be serious.

“The police, exhausted, could end up putting down their helmets and shields,” said the union

The union also sent an open letter to French lawmakers on Monday with a list of demands aimed at improving pay and working conditions of police across the country.

The letter signed by Denis Jacob spoke of the “exhaustion, weariness and deep anger” of the police.

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“Since November, police have been permanently mobilized for the different gatherings and demonstrations of yellow vests which have  share of violence, looting
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“The police officers have shown great professionalism and great self-sacrifice and self-control which are matched only by their willingness to
serve the nation and their fellow citizens.
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“However, the police are also men and women, fathers and mothers, and like any citizen they are concerned by the social crisis and the purchasing power.”

by Joanna York

https://www.thelocal.fr/20181210/french-police-warn-the-government-were-at-breaking-point

Russian bots fomenting unrest in France? Yellow Vest protests fueled by Russia, Facebook

December 9, 2018

Image result for yellow vest protests, paris, photos

The outbreaks of violence were on a smaller scale on Saturday than the destruction and looting of a week earlier, when some 200 cars were torched in the worst rioting in Paris in decades.

The government had vowed “zero tolerance” for anarchist, far-right or other trouble-makers seeking to wreak further havoc at protests that have sparked the deepest crisis of Macron’s presidency.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe congratulated police for the operation, and promised Macron would address the protesters’ concerns.

“The dialogue has begun and it must continue,” Philippe said. “The president will speak, and will propose measures that will feed this dialogue.”

Authorities also launched an investigation into social media activity from accounts allegedly drumming up support for the protests, sources told AFP.

According to the UK’s Times newspaper, hundreds of online accounts linked to Russia were used to stoke the demonstrations.

Citing analysis by New Knowledge, a cybersecurity company, the Times said the accounts spread disinformation and used pictures of injured protesters from other events to enhance a narrative of brutality by French authorities.

Read the rest:

https://www.france24.com/en/20181209-france-macron-yellow-vest-protests-champs-elysees-paris-riots

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‘We Are In a State of Insurrection’: Deep Inequality and Macron’s Dedication to Elites Fuel Yellow Vest Uprising in France

December 8, 2018

“The French don’t want crumbs, they want a baguette.”

Related image

France’s “yellow vest” protests began in mid-November over gas taxes but have grown in size and scope since then. (Photo: File—Benoit Tessier/Reuters)

After more than two weeks of protests over high fuel prices and intensifying inequality across France under centrist President Emmanuel Macron, the French government announced Tuesday that it would suspend planned price hikes for gas and electricity—but the demands of the so-called “Yellow Vest” protesters have become more broad, and more broadly embraced, as the demonstrations have swelled in size and energy.

The price increases for the utilities will be suspended for six months, said Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, but leaders of the demonstrations in which hundreds of thousands have donned yellow safety vests were dismissive of the gesture.

“It’s a first step, but we will not settle for a crumb,” Benjamin Chaucy, one of the leaders of the protest, told Al Jazeera. “The French don’t want crumbs, they want a baguette.”

The yellow vest protests began November 17, with 300,000 low- to middle-income demonstrators expressing outrage over fuel costs, which have gone up 20 percent in the last year as a result of Macron’s plan to tax carbon use. The price hikes are the result of France’s effort to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent in the next 12 years—but the reaction from protesters suggests intense anger across the country as low-income households have bore the burden of the green initiative, adding to the untenable cost of living for many, while the rich have been given generous tax cuts.

In addition to their dissatisfaction with the government’s offer regarding the price hikes, the yellow vest protesters have widened the scope of their demonstrations and demands in recent days. The protests have exploded into an impossible-to-ignore statement of outrage over Macron’s leadership, which had a 23 percent approval rating according to a poll released Tuesday by Ifop-Fiducial for Paris Match and Sud Radioworking conditions for paramedics; school reforms; and the perception that Macron, a former investment banker, is a president for the country’s elite.

Workers who live in rural areas far from city centers were the worst-affected by the fuel taxes, as they rely on their cars far more than city dwellers, bolstering protesters’ complaints that Macron represents those wealthy enough to live in Paris and other large cities.

“People want fair fiscal justice. They want social justice,” Thierry Paul Valette, a Paris protest coordinator, told Al Jazeera.

Four people have died in the Yellow Vest protests so far, and an estimated 75,000 people took part in demonstrations that turned violent in Paris this past Saturday. Hundreds of vehicles were set on fire and the Arc de Triomphe was vandalized with the words, “The Yellow Vests will triumph.”

Meanwhile, police used water cannons, stun grenades, and hundreds of canisters of tear gas against the demonstrators, as well as arresting about 400 people.

“We are in a state of insurrection, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Jeanne d’Hauteserre, mayor of Paris’s 8th district, told Al Jazeera.

According to French journalist Agnès C. Poirier, both far-right leader Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the left-wing group France Unbowed, have tried to link themselves to the Yellow Vest movement—but their attempts have been rebuffed.

“The protesters seem wholly uninterested in party politics,” Poirier wrote in the New York Times last week. “But they do have something in common with the extreme right and the radical left: a profound dislike of Mr. Macron.”

While only a few hundred thousand people have physically taken part in the movement so far, Le Figaro and Franceinfo reported late last month that 77 percent of French people support the Yellow Vests’ protests.

“The Yellow Vests seem to be the face of a deep malaise in French society,” wrote Poirier.

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/12/04/we-are-state-insurrection-deep-inequality-and-macrons-dedication-elites-fuel-yellow

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France: Macron scrapping fuel tax is ‘not enough,’ says man who inspired Yellow Vests

December 8, 2018

Six weeks after posting a Facebook video calling on protesters to take up the yellow vest as a symbol, the movement is changing French politics. Ghislain Coutard tells DW he’s shocked to see how quickly it spread.

    
Ghislain Coutard holds up his yellow vest in a video posted to Facebook in late October in which he called on anti-fuel tax protesters to use the vest as a symbol of solidarity.

Ghislain Coutard is one of the few recognizable faces of the so-called Yellow Vests movement, which has been protesting gas prices in France since mid-November. On October 24, Coutard responded to a call-to-action put out on Facebook by posting his own short video to the social media site. In his video, Coutard suggested that everyone planning to join the first protest on November 17 use the yellow safety vest as a symbol of solidarity. The video went viral, receiving over five million views, and Coutard’s spontaneous idea took off, giving the Yellow Vests movement its name, and earning Coutard the nickname “Giletman” — or “Vestman” — among activists.

Read more: Paris to close tourist sites on Saturday

In the weeks since Coutard posted his video, the Yellow Vests have gained international attention and shaken France to its core with nation-wide protests, often involving violent clashes with the police. DW spoke to Coutard, who works as a mechanic and serves as the spokesperson for the Yellow Vests in the southern city of Narbonne.

Ghislain Coutard serves as the spokesperson for the Narbonne chapter of the Yellow Vests.Ghislain Coutard serves as the spokesperson for the Narbonne chapter of the Yellow Vests.

DW: How did you come up with the idea to use the yellow vest as a symbol?

Ghislain Coutard: It was really simple. I was making my video and I saw the vest that I use all the time for work. I thought to myself: it’s highly visible, we all have one in our cars because it’s required by law. So why not use it as a sort of color code. Just to see if people want to go out and protest. And bingo! That’s exactly what happened.

You’ve said you were inspired by Eric Drouet, a truck driver who called for protests on November 17.

That’s right. I’ve talked to him recently and he said he thinks the yellow vest was the final touch that was missing. So Eric Drouet put out the call and I came up with the symbol and it took off.

You made that video at the end of October. Now it’s the biggest issue in France. Are you surprised by what has happened in the last few weeks?

Yeah, it’s crazy to me. I drive around France for my job, so I stop everywhere I see the Yellow Vests. I introduce myself and most of the time they recognize me. It’s amazing. I had a good idea, you could say, but I didn’t think that it would catch on with so many people.

Were you shocked by the violence in Paris last weekend?

I was shocked, but the media only shows the images of the Yellow Vests attacking the authorities. But you can see that the authorities only need a small excuse to launch all their tear gas canisters. That’s not right. For me, the tactics of the police have been a total failure.

Recent yellow vests protests in Paris and other cities and roadways around France have turned violent, eliciting a response from French President Emmanuel Macron.Recent yellow vests protests in Paris and other cities and roadways around France have turned violent, eliciting a response from French President Emmanuel Macron.

Are you happy with the direction the movement is going in?

Yes, completely. We are starting to see results. The president has already canceled the tax planned for 2019.

Why are you still organizing if you’ve already reached that goal?

It’s not enough. We still have to fight the current taxes, the ones that have been in place for years. We should have woken up years ago, and now we have to make up for the years we missed.

What has to happen for the Yellow Vests to be satisfied?

I think the president has to come out of his hole and face the French people. Not with a press release, but in reality, on the ground. But that will never happen, I don’t think. He’s too removed. He’s so proud of not taking any steps backward. The problem is that he’s stubborn and we’re stubborn, too. At some point, someone is going to have to cave, and we’re counting on him to do the caving.

French yellow vest movement exposes general discontent

The movement has resisted taking sides politically or being politically influenced. Is there friction among Yellow Vests activists who have different political opinions?

Yeah, we’re really good at misunderstanding each other. We can be easily divided, to be honest. For example in Narbonne, the city where I live, there are three zones of activity. We aren’t able to bring the three together to make one. Everyone wants to manage their own zone, to do it their way. It’s one of the faults of the French: We aren’t able to agree very easily. That’s the main problem of the Yellow Vests: to come to an agreement and move in the same direction. But I think in a few weeks time, we’ll get there.

Read more: France’s Emmanuel Macron finds respite amid mass protests

What are your politics?

Me, I’m not political at all. I’d like to have the right to vote on the important laws that get passed. We don’t have a right to decide on these things, just the right to choose a president every five years.

Why did you personally get involved in the cause of fighting gas taxes?

The price of gas has become incredible compared to the years before. I can live on my salary. But I have lots of friends whose salaries are a bit less than mine and they are barely surviving. The smallest problem with the car becomes a catastrophe. You have to go into debt and then it never ends.

Protest in yellow vests in Nizza‘Yellow Vests’ protests in Nice, France

Are you against Macron’s attempt to improve the environment?

No, actually we would all love to drive with clean energy, but the government’s plan doesn’t stand up. That’s not how we’re going to achieve anything. We can’t even pay for our cars now, so it’s impossible to all buy electric cars or hybrids.

What do you think is the future of the movement?

I think it’s going to get rough. It’s inevitable. In my opinion, the anger is too intense. Macron responded too late. Most people I meet on the street want him to step down.

And it’s nice to see that people in Belgium, Italy and Germany have taken up the yellow vest as a symbol, as well. I hope it becomes an international movement. When we’re angry, we put on the yellow vest to show it.

https://www.dw.com/en/france-macron-scrapping-fuel-tax-is-not-enough-says-man-who-inspired-yellow-vests/a-46634766

Related:

How Facebook fuelled France’s yellow vest rebellion

December 8, 2018
Facebook groups are the nerve centre of the “yellow vest” protest movement raging across France
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How Facebook fuelled France's yellow rebellion
Le Mans oil depot on December 6th. Photo: AFP
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With names like “Angry Drivers of Normandy”, Facebook groups are the nerve centre of the “yellow vest” protest movement raging across France — and increasingly, a breeding ground for fake news.
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When Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in January that the social media giant was going to start prioritising local news, little did he know it would end up feeding the worst crisis of Emmanuel Macron’s presidency.
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Internet experts say changes to Facebook’s algorithms have helped “anger groups” like that in Normandy swell to tens of thousands of members — and last month, they spilled onto the streets.
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November 17 marked the start of nationwide road blockades against rising fuel prices, which have since ballooned into a mass movement against rising living costs and Macron in general.
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With thousands of posts railing against everyone from the president to a shadowy global financial cabal, the groups reflect the leaderless nature of the yellow vests, who subscribe to a variety of different goals.
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READ ALSO:
Photo: Screengrab/Facebook
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What’s clear is that the groups have been crucial in mobilising protesters, who mainly hail from small-town and rural France.
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“We use Facebook for absolutely everything — informing ourselves, organising ourselves,” said Chloe Tissier, a moderator of the “Angry Drivers of Normandy” group, which has more than 50,000 members.
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“When a barricade is going up and we don’t have enough pallets to set on fire, or food, we put out a post and someone comes to bring them. Doing this by phone would be impossible,” she said.
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Facebook is also “great because older people are there too”, she added. Pensioners, angry that their allowances are being squeezed, make up a sizeable chunk of the movement.
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The power of algorithms
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“The yellow vests are not at all a structured movement — there’s no spokesman, it’s decentralised. So Facebook is ideal for them,” said Tristan Mendes France, who teaches digital culture at Paris-Diderot University.
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The change in Facebook’s algorithms earlier this year lowered the visibility of content published on pages run by large media outlets, he explained.
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“It prioritised content being shared by groups, individual profiles, and local information. This change in the algorithm has boosted the emergence of this movement,” he said.
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Yellow vest protest: Which parts of Paris should you avoid on Saturday?
Photo: AFP
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This is far from the first time anger fuelled by social media has spilled onto the streets, the 2011 Arab Spring being a prime example.
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Sri Lanka temporarily banned Facebook this year after a wave of hate speech posted on the website helped to spark deadly anti-Muslim riots.
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Olivier Ertzscheid, a researcher at the University of Nantes, noted that angry content in particular flourishes on Facebook.
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“The sentiments which spread most effectively on the platform are those that highlight indignation and anger,” he told AFP.
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“Facebook offers the technical architecture for spreading information which is perfectly adapted for that.”
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Rumours fly
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A deep vein of anti-elite anger and suspicion of the mainstream media runs through the “yellow vest” Facebook groups — comments not unlike those heard
among Donald Trump’s voters on the other side of the Atlantic.
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“Politicians are fake, the media are fake,” reads the “About” section of the “Citizens in Anger” group, which counts 16,000 members.
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Yet the “yellow vests” comprise voters of various political stripes, including those who back both the far left and far right in France.
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As seen during the US presidential election, though, false rumours have spread like wildfire among yellow vest supporters active on Facebook.
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Posts raising alarm that France is about to sign its sovereignty away through a United Nations migration pact have racked up hundreds of thousands of views and shares.
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UPDATED: France to deploy 89,000 police officers to maintain order on Saturday
Photo: AFP
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Other viral posts purporting to show police violence against yellow vests use photographs of bloodied protesters taken years ago.
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“We try as much as possible to sort through what we publish,” said Tissier of the “Angry Drivers of Normandy” group.
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But with hundreds of posts an hour, the volunteers moderating such groups struggle to keep up.
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Meanwhile, as France braces for fresh violence on Saturday following chaos in Paris last weekend, the varied comments posted on Facebook reflect a movement that is disparate, and therefore unpredictable.
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Some see more scenes of torched cars and tear gas in Paris as the only way to get what they want, whatever that may be.
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“Do you really think a peaceful movement, even with 100,000 people, can change things? Unfortunately, I don’t think so,” read one comment on the “Angry France” group.
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But many others urged those heading to Paris to refrain from violence, saying it didn’t help their cause to be seen as extremist thugs.
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“If you act with violence you will be playing the game of the politicians,” read another post on the group, which has more than 300,000 members.
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“Show them that we’re human.”
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