Posts Tagged ‘state of emergency’

Refusal to budge on border wall shows Dems still hung up on 2016

January 9, 2019

After watching the dueling prime-time speeches last night, it was easy to come away with the idea that the dispute is simply over the president’s demand for wall funding and the partial government shutdown. As such, it should be easy for the president and Dems to cut a split-the-difference deal and move on to the next problem.

After all, isn’t that why they were hired?

If only things were as simple as they appear. In fact, the Democrats’ refusal even to consider any kind of border barrier and other serious measures illustrates that the dispute is merely a proxy for the real issue dividing the nation: 2016.

Like generals fighting the last war, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are fixated on the last presidential election. Their refusal to let it go and get on with governing in a divided Congress is a shameful sign of how radical their party has become since Trump’s election.

By Michael Goodwin
New York post

This is the crisis America faces — Democrats still do not accept the legitimacy of his victory. And so anything he says is treated as unworthy and untrue, even when Americans can see with their own eyes that much of the southern border is essentially wide open for anyone who wants to cross it.

And many do each day, with Fox News reporting that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told lawmakers that 161,000 family units crossed the border in fiscal 2018, a 50 percent increase in a year. She also reportedly said 60,000 unaccompanied children crossed last year.

Imagine that. And the numbers have been surging even more in recent months, with migrants rushing to escape murderous violence in Central America and get here before laws are tightened or barriers added.

Throw in sex trafficking, a veritable river of narcotics and gangs and there is no question that Americans are suffering enormous consequences from their government’s failure to secure the border and provide public safety.

Trump tried to capture the gravity of the situation by citing a raft of statistics and highlighting individual cases where vicious crimes were committed by illegal immigrants. One involved the recent murder of a California police officer, Ronil Singh, allegedly by a Mexican man in the country illegally.

PHOTO: Officer Ronil Singh of the Newman Police Department, California, is pictured in this undated photo released by Merced Police Department.
Ronil Singh — Merced Police Department

Singh, the father of a 5-month old son, was a legal immigrant from Fiji.

“How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?” the president asked in one chilling sentence.

Trump was restrained and economical in his delivery, but it wouldn’t have mattered if he had jumped on top of the Resolute Desk and shouted. Schumer and Pelosi were determined to bury him in mud no matter what he said or how he said it.

One indication was their slanderous claim that he had “manufactured” a border crisis that doesn’t exist. They even suggested he had no right to use the Oval Office for such an address. It’s not clear whether they are reciting MSNBC talking points or providing them to their media handmaidens.

Either way, they offered nothing but insults and vague references to “border security” without describing a single action they would support that would stop the entire population of Central America from coming to the United States illegally.

Fortunately, the public is still smarter than they realize. A Morning Consult/POLITICO poll released Tuesday found that 42 percent of respondents agree with Trump that illegal immigration is a crisis, while an additional 37 percent see it as a problem, with just 12 percent seeing nothing amiss at the border.

President Donald Trump spoke for nine minnutes from the Oval Office of the White House on Tuesday, shaming congressional Democrats as he blamed them for bloodshed caused by illegal immigrants

President Donald Trump spoke for nine minutes from the Oval Office of the White House on Tuesday, shaming congressional Democrats as he blamed them for bloodshed caused by illegal immigrants

To judge by their remarks, Schumer and Pelosi are among the 12 percent. Their only complaint is that Trump isn’t nice enough to illegal crossers.

For the 79 percent who sen­sibly think the nation faces either a crisis or a problem, the question becomes what to do about it.

Now consider this: Our border with Mexico is nearly 2,000 miles long. To put that in perspective, it is slightly longer than the distance from New York City to Denver.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (right) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer delivered the Democrats' response after Trump spoke, framing the conflict as Trump's personal, uninformed crusade as they insisted they won't bend and agree to his terms

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (right) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer delivered the Democrats’ response after Trump spoke, framing the conflict as Trump’s personal, uninformed crusade as they insisted they won’t bend and agree to his terms

With existing barricades covering just about 30 percent of the huge span, the president is proposing a modest expansion of them, while also proposing technological and manpower ­additions, ranging from judges to border agents to law enforcement.

Trump also wants to add health specialists and more beds to alleviate what he calls a “humanitarian crisis” and a “crisis of the soul.”

It is indeed painful to see so many destitute people looking for a better life, and the recent deaths of two young children who made the hazardous trek ­illustrate the dangers.

But it is also extremely painful to watch America dissolve into a borderless society where laws and order are sacrificed out of bitterness and hatred for a president who won an election fair and square.

Not so long ago, Democrats, including Schumer and Pelosi, believed that borders meant something. Trump shouldn’t stop reminding them of that and speaking up for the many Americans who still do.



Trump asks ‘how much more American blood must we shed’ at the hands of immigrant killers before Democrats agree to build wall

January 9, 2019

President Donald Trump stopped short on Tuesday of declaring a that a national emergency exists on America’s southern border, but reiterated his demand that congressional Democrats fund a border wall that he has promised for nearly four years.

But he played the shame card with a vengeance, blaming them for playing politics with innocent American lives and allowing ‘a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul’ to fester.

‘How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?’ Trump asked in a 9-minute speech from the Oval Office.

Citing a string of murders committed by illegal immigrants who have been previously deported form the United States, he demanded of lawmakers: ‘For those who refuse to compromise in the name of border security, I would ask: Imagine if it was your child, your husband or your wife whose life was so cruelly shattered and totally broken.’

‘To every member of Congress: Pass a bill that ends this crisis.’

President Donald Trump spoke for nine minnutes from the Oval Office of the White House on Tuesday, shaming congressional Democrats as he blamed them for bloodshed caused by illegal immigrants

President Donald Trump spoke for nine minutes from the Oval Office of the White House on Tuesday, shaming congressional Democrats as he blamed them for bloodshed caused by illegal immigrants


Trump is demanding $5.7 billion in new congressional spending for his long-promised border wall

Trump is demanding $5.7 billion in new congressional spending for his long-promised border wall


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (right) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer delivered the Democrats' response after Trump spoke, framing the conflict as Trump's personal, uninformed crusade as they insisted they won't bend and agree to his terms

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (right) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer delivered the Democrats’ response after Trump spoke, framing the conflict as Trump’s personal, uninformed crusade as they insisted they won’t bend and agree to his terms

After the address he tweeted: ‘Thank you for soooo many nice comments regarding my Oval Office speech. A very interesting experience!’

Trump said Tuesday that child trafficking and sexual violence against women who try to migrate into the U.S. illegally is a ‘cycle of human suffering’ that he’s determined to end.

He implored Americans to call their members of Congress ‘and tell them to finally, after all of these decades, secure our border. This is a choice between right and wrong, justice and injustice.’

The White House has requested $5.7 billion in new funding to continue the wall’s construction. The president passed up the option to declare an emergency on Tuesday and spend existing Defense Department dollars to build it without Congress.

A U.S. Marine stood outside the doors to the West Wing of the White House on Tuesday night ahead of Trump's address, signifying that the president was working and not in the presidential residence quarters

A U.S. Marine stood outside the doors to the West Wing of the White House on Tuesday night ahead of Trump’s address, signifying that the president was working and not in the presidential residence quarters

Instead he returned to his previous lines of argument, claiming a border security crisis has resulted in a flood of narcotics and human trafficking, and endangering Americans’ lives.

Trump plans to host congressional leaders from both parties at the White House for negotiations on Wednesday, followed by a Capitol Hill visit to brief Republicans

He will visit the southern border on Thursday to highlight his demand for a wall.

The New York Times reported that Trump told a lunchtime meeting of news executives and anchors on Tuesday that he was inclined to skip the border trip – and the Tuesday night speech – but his advisers persuaded him to follow through.

‘It’s not going to change a damn thing, but I’m still doing it,’ Trump told them, pointing to senior communications aides Bill Shine, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kellyanne Conway and observing that ‘these people behind you say it’s worth it.’

The conflict between Trump and congressional Democrats led to a partial shutdown of the federal government a few days before Christmas. Without an agreement on how to fund about one-quarter of the government, the affected agencies can’t reopen.

About 780,000 federal workers are either on unpaid furlough or being forced to work without pay. All will receive back pay when the shutdown ends, but they are likely to miss regularly scheduled paychecks on Friday.

Responding on Capitol Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer framed the conflict as Trump’s personal, uninformed crusade as they insisted they won’t bend and agree to his terms.

‘Sadly, much of what we have heard from President Trump throughout this senseless shutdown has been full of misinformation and even malice,’ they said.

‘The president has chosen fear.’

Their rebuttal criticized Trump for saying a flood of migrants at the border represents ‘a security threat,’ instead calling it ‘a humanitarian challenge.’

Trump noted Schumer’s past approval of a wall on America’s southern border. The White House has promoted the historical fact of Schumer and former senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama all voting for it during the George W. Bush presidency.

Schumer ‘has repeatedly supported a physical barrier in the past, along with many other Democrats,’ he said. ‘They changed their mind only after I was elected president. Democrats in Congress have refused to recognize the crisis.’

Trump cited statistics in his brief presentation, saying that in the past two years immigration officers ‘made 266,000 arrests of aliens with criminal records,’ including ‘100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes and 4,000 violent killings.’

‘Thousands more lives will be lost if we don’t act right now,’ he urged.


My fellow Americans: Tonight I’m speaking to you because there is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border. Every day, Customs and Border Patrol agents encounter thousands of illegal immigrants trying to enter our country. We are out of space to hold them, and we have no way to promptly return them back home to their country.

‘America proudly welcomes millions of lawful immigrants who enrich our society and contribute to our nation, but all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration. It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages. Among those hardest hit are African-Americans and Hispanic Americans.

‘Our southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs including meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl. Every week 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90 per cent of which floods across from our southern border. More Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War.

‘In the last two years, ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of aliens with criminal records, including those charged or convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes and 4,000 violent killings. Over the years thousands of Americans have been brutally killed by those who illegally entered our country and thousands more lives will be lost if we don’t act right now.

‘This is a humanitarian crisis, a crisis of the heart, and a crisis of the soul.

‘Last month 20,000 migrant children were illegally brought into the United States, a dramatic increase. These children are used as human pawns by vicious coyotes and ruthless gangs. One in three women are sexually assaulted on the dangerous trek up through Mexico. Women and children are the biggest victims, by far, of our broken system.

‘This is the tragic reality of illegal immigration on our southern border. This is the cycle of human suffering that I am determined to end. My administration has presented Congress with a detailed proposal to secure the border and stop the criminal gangs, drug smugglers and human traffickers. It’s a tremendous problem.

‘Our proposal was developed by law enforcement professionals and border agents at the department of homeland security. These are the resources they have requested to properly perform their mission and keep America safe – in fact, safer than ever before.

‘The proposal from Homeland Security includes cutting-edge technology for detecting drugs, weapons, illegal contraband and many other things. We have requested more agents, immigration judges and bed space to process the sharp rise in unlawful migration fueled by our very strong economy. Our plan also contains an urgent request for humanitarian assistance and medical support. Furthermore, we have asked congress to close border security loopholes so that illegal immigrant children can be safely and humanely returned back home.

‘Finally, as part of an overall approach to border security, law enforcement professionals have requested $5.7 billion for a physical barrier. At the request of Democrats, it will be a steel barrier rather than a concrete wall. This barrier is absolutely critical to border security. It’s also what our professionals at the border want and need. This is just common sense.

‘The border wall would very quickly pay for itself. The cost of illegal drugs exceeds $500 billion a year, vastly more than the $5.7 billion we have requested from Congress. The wall will also be paid for indirectly by the great new trade deal we have made with Mexico.

‘Senator Chuck Schumer, who you will be hearing from later tonight, has repeatedly supported a physical barrier in the past, along with many other Democrats. They changed their mind only after I was elected president.

‘Democrats in Congress have refused to acknowledge the crisis, and they have refused to provide our brave border agents with the tools they desperately need to protect our families and our nation. The federal government remains shut down for one reason, and one reason only: because Democrats will not fund border security. My administration is doing everything in our power to help those impacted by the situation, but the only solution is for Democrats to pass a spending bill that defends our borders and reopens the government.

‘This situation could be solved in a 45-minute meeting. I have invited congressional leadership to the white house tomorrow to get this done. Hopefully we can rise above partisan politics in order to support national security.

‘Some have suggested a barrier is immoral. Then why do wealthy politicians build walls, fences and gates around their homes? They don’t build walls because they hate the people on the outside, but because they love the people on the inside. The only thing that is immoral is [for] the politicians to do nothing and continue to allow more innocent people to be so horribly victimized.

‘America’s heart broke the day after Christmas when a young police officer was savagely murdered in cold blood by an illegal alien who just came across the border. The life of an American hero was stolen by someone who had no right to be in our country. Day after day, precious lives are cut short by those who have violated our borders. In California an Air Force veteran was raped, murdered, and beaten to death with a hammer by an illegal alien with a long criminal history. In Georgia an illegal alien was recently charged with murder for killing, beheading and dismembering his neighbor. In Maryland, MS-13 gang members who arrived in the United States as unaccompanied minors were arrested and charged last year after viciously stabbing and beating a 16-year-old girl.

‘Over the last several years I’ve met with dozens of families whose loved ones were stolen by illegal immigrations. I have held the hands of the mothers and embraced the grief stricken fathers. So sad, so terrible. I will never forget the pain in their eyes, the tremble in their voices and the sadness gripping their souls.

‘How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?

‘To those that refuse to compromise in the name of border security, I would ask: imagine if it was your child, your husband, or your wife whose life was so cruelly shattered and totally broken. To every member of Congress, pass a bill that ends this crisis. To every citizen: call congress, and tell them to finally, after all of these decades, secure our border.

‘This is a choice between right and wrong, justice and injustice. This is about whether we fulfill our sacred duty to the American citizens we serve.

‘When I took the oath of office, i swore to protect our country, and that is what I will always do, so help me god. Thank you and good night.’

Read the rest:


“President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage” — Pelosi and Schumer demand end to shutdown; Say Trump manufacturing a crisis over immigration

January 9, 2019

Democratic Leaders Denounce Wall, Call on Trump to Stop ‘Hostage’ Tactics

Pelosi and Schumer demand end to shutdown in televised response to immigration speech


Pelosi and Schumer Respond to Trump’s Address on Border Security

Pelosi and Schumer Respond to Trump’s Address on Border Security
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer delivered a televised response to President Trump’s speech on border security. They rejected the president’s idea of a wall as unnecessary. Photo: Getty Images

Congressional Democratic leaders rebuffed President Trump’s assertions on Tuesday night that a wall is needed along the border with Mexico and said he is manufacturing a crisis over immigration.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said they agreed with Mr. Trump on the need to strengthen border security, but diverged with him over building a physical wall, which they said would be expensive and ineffective.

“Democrats and the president both want stronger border security. However, we sharply disagree with the president about the most effective way to do it,” said Mr. Schumer, standing next to Mrs. Pelosi in a joint televised response to Mr. Trump’s speech.

“This president just used the backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis, stoke fear, and divert attention from the turmoil in his administration,” he said.

In his prime-time address, Mr. Trump had said that Democrats’ unwillingness to fund border security was the only reason the government remained closed.

The government has been partially shut down for 18 days as lawmakers have been unable to reach an agreement with Mr. Trump over spending bills to fund nine federal agencies. Democrats have rejected Mr. Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion for building a border wall.

Democrats have urged Mr. Trump and congressional Republicans to support legislation that would reopen the government while they continue the debate over border security.

“President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis, and must reopen the government,” Mrs. Pelosi said Tuesday night.

Top congressional leaders are expected to meet with Mr. Trump at the White House on Wednesday afternoon.

Includes video:


French Government seeks course of action after weekend of violent clashes with Yellow Vests

December 3, 2018

The French government is organising emergency meetings to respond to the wave of violence that broke out across the country over the weekend as part of the ‘Yellow Vest’ movement.

Prime Minister Édouard Philippe cancelled his appearance at the COP24 climate change summit in Katowice, Poland, and will instead meet on Monday with French political leaders in an attempt to manage the crisis and formulate the government’s response.

President Emmanuel Macron held emergency talks with the prime minister, interior minister and top security service officials at the presidential palace in Paris after flying in from the G20 summit in Argentina on Sunday.

Image result for France, yellow vest, protests, photos

The government has not ruled out imposing a state of emergency.

On Sunday Macron assessed the damage at the Arc de Triomphe, the massive monument to France’s war dead at the top of the famous Champs-Élysées avenue, where rioters scrawled graffiti and ransacked the ticketing and reception areas.

The president also saw the wreckage of burnt-out cars and debris from rioting at other sites, where he praised the police but was also booed by sections of the crowd.

Paris police said 412 people were arrested on Saturday, with 378 remaining in custody, during the worst clashes for years in the capital.

A total of 263 people were injured nationwide, with 133 injured in the capital, including 23 members of the security forces who battled rioters for most of the day in famous parts of the city.

“I will never accept violence,” Macron told a news conference in Buenos Aires before flying home.

“No cause justifies that authorities are attacked, that businesses are plundered, that passers-by or journalists are threatened or that the Arc du Triomphe is defiled,” he said.

‘Yellow Vests will win’

Overnight a motorist died after crashing a van into traffic that had built up due to a “Yellow Vest” demonstration in Arles, southern France, a local prosecutor said Sunday. Three people have now died in incidents linked to the protests.

The so-called “Yellow Vest” anti-government protests that have swept France over the last fortnight were sparked initially by a rise in taxes on diesel.

In a separate incident, arsonists torched a motorway toll booth in southern France near the city of Narbonne, a judicial source told AFP Sunday. Five people were taken into custody, a prosecutor said.

The main north-south motorway in eastern France, the A6, was also blocked by protesters near the city of Lyon on Sunday morning, its operator said.

The capital was calm, however, but as groups of workers moved around cleaning up the mess from the previous day, the scale of the destruction became clear.

Around famous areas including the Champs-Élysées, the Louvre museum, the Opera and Place Vendôme, smashed shop windows, broken glass and the occasional burned-out car were testament to the violence.

Dozens of cars were torched by the gangs of rioters, some of whom wore gas masks and ski goggles to lessen the effects of tear gas, which was fired continually by police.

One person was in a critical condition after protesters pulled down one of the huge iron gates of the Tuileries garden by the Louvre, crushing several people.

Nearly 190 fires were put out and six buildings were set alight, the interior ministry said.

At the Arc de Triomphe graffiti had been daubed, with one slogan saying: “The Yellow Vests will win.”

State of emergency?

Some 136,000 demonstrators, most of them peaceful, were counted across the country on Saturday, the interior ministry said Sunday in updated figures.

The number was well below the first day of protests on November 17, which attracted around 282,000 people, and also down on the revised figure of 166,000 who turned out last Saturday.

Interior minister Castaner attributed the violence to “specialists in sowing conflict, specialists in destruction”.

Referring to the possibility of imposing a state of emergency – a demand made by the police union Alliance – Castaner declared: “Nothing is taboo for me. I am prepared to examine everything.”

‘We won’t change course’

Over the last few weeks, the “Yellow Vest” movement has morphed into a broad opposition front to Macron, a 40-year-old pro-business centrist elected in May 2017.

Violent anarchist and far-right groups have infiltrated it and are thought to be behind Saturday’s clashes.

Macron faces a dilemma in how to respond to the “Yellow Vests”, not least because they are a grassroots movement with no formal leaders and a wide range of demands.

Some representatives have also insisted on public talks broadcast on TV.

“We have said that we won’t change course. Because the course is good,” government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux told BFM television defiantly on Sunday morning.

“It’s been 30 years that people change course every 18 months,” he added, referring to Macron’s presidential predecessors who have often caved in to pressure from French street protests.

Macron has so far refused to roll back taxes on fuel, which he says are needed to fund the country’s transition to a low-emission economy.

And he remains a fervent defender of the tax cuts he has delivered for businesses and the wealthy, which he believes were necessary to lower the country’s chronic high unemployment.

Opposition politicians condemned the violence but also criticised the government’s response.

“The government is not entitled to a third black Saturday,” said Senate President Gérard Larcher, amid warnings that protests could resume in Paris next weekend.

Far-right and far-left leaders Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Melenchon called Sunday for new parliamentary elections.

Despite the violence, opinion polls suggest the protests still attract the support of two in three French people.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Macron tells PM to hold talks after worst unrest in Paris for decades

December 3, 2018

French President Emmanuel Macron ordered his prime minister on Sunday to hold talks with political leaders and demonstrators, as he sought a way out of nationwide protests after rioters turned central Paris into a battle zone.

Riot police on Saturday were overwhelmed as protesters ran amok in Paris’s wealthiest neighborhoods, torching dozens of cars, looting boutiques and smashing up luxury private homes and cafes in the worst disturbances the capital has seen since 1968.

The unrest began as a backlash against fuel tax hikes but has spread. It poses the most formidable challenge yet to Macron’s presidency, with the escalating violence and depth of public anger against his economic reforms catching the 40-year-old leader off-guard and battling to regain control.

After a meeting with members of his government on Sunday, the French presidency said in a statement that the president had asked his interior minister to prepare security forces for future protests and his prime minister to hold talks with political party leaders and representatives of the protesters.

A French presidential source said Macron would not speak to the nation on Sunday despite calls for him to offer immediate concessions to demonstrators, and said the idea of imposing a state of emergency had not been discussed.

Arriving back from the G20 summit in Argentina, Macron had earlier rushed to the Arc de Triomphe, a revered monument and epicenter of Saturday’s clashes, where protesters had scrawled “Macron resign” and “The yellow vests will triumph”.

The “yellow vest” rebellion erupted out of nowhere on Nov. 17, with protesters blocking roads across France and impeding access to some shopping malls, fuel depots and airports. Violent groups from the far right and far left as well as youths from the suburbs infiltrated Saturday’s protests, the authorities said.

Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux had indicated the Macron administration was considering imposing a state of emergency. The president was open to dialogue, he said, but would not reverse policy reforms.

“We won’t change course. We are certain of that,” he told Europe 1 radio.

As he spoke, workmen in the upper-crust district of central Paris set about cleaning the defaced Arc, removing charred hulks of cars and replacing the shattered windows of banks, restaurants and glitzy boutiques.

While the protests were initially against Macron’s fuel tax hikes – necessary he says to combat climate change – they have also mined a vein of deep dissatisfaction felt toward his liberal reforms, which many voters feel favor the wealthy and big business.

Police said they had arrested more than 400 people in Paris on Saturday and that 133 were injured. Some 10,000 tear gas canisters and stun grenades were fired as well as water canon as security forces fought for control.

Macron’s plight illustrates a conundrum: How do political leaders’ introduce policies that will do long-term good for the environment without inflicting extra costs on voters that may damage their chances of re-election?

His unyielding response has exposed him to charges of being out of touch with common folk outside of France’s big cities who worry about the squeeze on household budgets and job security.

The protests have driven Macron’s popularity to record lows and left him facing a lose-lose situation, said Gael Sliman, president of the Odoxa polling institute said.

Either Macron caves in to the pressure and is derided by opponents as weak, or he puts down the dissent, Sliman said.

“In the second scenario, Macron will still come out loser, because what everyone will remember is that he wrestled with the popular classes. He would be victorious, but at the cost of having crushed them.”

Before heading into Sunday’s meeting, Macron met under heavy security with police and firefighters near the Champs Elysees boulevard. Some bystanders cheered, others jeered and called on him to resign.

So too did Jean-Luc Melenchon, head of hard-left party La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) and far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who both demanded the government unwind its fuel tax hikes. They called for parliament to be dissolved and snap elections held.

Such an outcome is unlikely, however. Macron has 3 1/2 years left of his five-year mandate and a strong majority in parliament, albeit with signs of simmering unease on the backbenches over his response to the protests.

TV footage showed the interior of the Arc ransacked, a statue of Marianne, symbol of the French republic, smashed, and graffiti scrawled on the exterior ranging from anti-capitalist slogans to social demands and calls for Macron’s resignation.

On nearby streets, some Parisians worried of a repeat of the violence next weekend. The yellow vests have already called another demonstration in Paris.

“The violence is increasing at an exponential rate,” said Claude, a resident in the affluent 16th district. “The state is losing control, it is scary. They cannot let this happen. Maybe the army should intervene.”

Reporting by John Irish, Richard Lough, Emmanuel Jarry, Sudip Kar-Gupta, Matthias Blamont, Myriam Rivet, Simon Carraud and Luke Baker; Writing by John Irish and Richard Lough; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Susan Fenton


French government to consider state of emergency to prevent riots recurring — “It is out of the question that each weekend becomes a meeting or ritual for violence.”

December 2, 2018

France will consider imposing a state of emergency to prevent a recurrence of some of the worst civil unrest in more than a decade and urged peaceful protesters to come to the negotiating table, government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said on Sunday.

Violent clashes mar fresh anti-Macron protests

Groups of young men with faces masked, some carrying metal bars and axes, rioted on the streets of central Paris on Saturday, setting a dozen vehicles ablaze and torching buildings.

“We have to think about the measures that can be taken so that these incidents don’t happen again,” Griveaux told Europe 1 radio.

The authorities were caught off guard by the escalation in violence after two weeks of nationwide protests against fuel taxes and living costs, known as the “yellow vest” movement after fluorescent jackets kept in all vehicles in France.

President Emmanuel Macron will hold an emergency meeting with the prime minister and interior minister later on Sunday to discuss the riots and how to begin a dialogue with the protest movement, which has no real structure or leadership.

Firefighters extinguish burning cars set afire by protesters in Paris, France (Reuters/S. Mahe)

Protesters torched dozens of cars and sprayed the Arc de Triomphe with multi-colored graffiti

When asked about imposing a state of emergency, Griveaux said it would be among the options considered on Sunday.

“It is out of the question that each weekend becomes a meeting or ritual for violence.”

A protester flying the French national flag near the Place de l'Etoile

A protester flying the French national flag near the Place de l’Etoile

Protests began on Nov. 17 and quickly grew thanks to social media, with protesters blocking roads across France and impeding access to shopping malls, factories and some fuel depots.

Authorities said violent groups from the far right and far left as well as “thugs” from the suburbs had infiltrated the yellow vests movement in Paris on Saturday, although Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said most of those arrested were regular protesters who had been egged on by fringe groups.

Speaking on BFM TV late on Saturday, Castaner said the authorities had put all security measures in place to prevent the violence, but that they had faced extremely violent, organized and determined groups.

He did however say the government had made a mistake in how it communicated its plans to move away from oil dependence, the policy which led to fuel tax hikes.

He and Griveaux urged the yellow vest movement to organize itself and coming to the negotiating table.

“We are ready to talk to them everywhere and the door is open to them,” Griveaux said.

Paul Marra, a yellow vest activist in Marseille, told BFM TV that the government was to blame for the violence across the country.

“We condemn what happened, but it was inevitable. The violence started from the top. The biggest thug is the state through its inaction.”

Italy declares state of emergency after Genoa bridge collapse

August 16, 2018

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has declared a 12-month state of emergency in Genoa after the collapse of the Morandi Bridge. The cause of the collapse remains unclear, but several possibilities have been flagged.


Italian rescue workers in the city of Genoa continued to search through the rubble on Wednesday night, in hope of finding survivors of  the Morandi bridge collapse.

It remains unclear what actually caused a 100-meter (328-foot) section of the massive structure, known as Genoa’s “Brooklyn Bridge,” to cave. The bridge collapsed amid torrential rain on Tuesday, causing vehicles on the bridge to fall some 45 meters.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini did not speculate on how many people may be trapped in the debris but said that 1,000 rescue workers were taking part in the search for survivors.

Genoa: State of emergency declared

Developments on Wednesday

  • The death toll has reached 39, according to authorities.
  • Sixteen people were injured, nine of whom are in serious condition.
  • Authorities evacuated 630 people from nearby apartments, due to concerns about the stability of remaining large sections of the bridge.
  • Italy’s transport minister called for senior managers at Autostrade per l’Italia, the company operating the bridge, to resign.
  • Autostrade per l’Italia said it carried out regular checks before the collapse that provided reassuring results and the maintenance program had been approved by the Transport Ministry.
  • The transport minister said the company could face millions of euros in fines.

‘Unacceptable in a modern society’

Genoa Prosecutor Francesco Cozzi told reporters that the investigation into the collapse would focus on human error. In particular, any possible design flaws in the bridge’s construction or any inadequate maintenance will be examined.

Cozzi said he didn’t know who might be responsible but also added that the tragedy “wasn’t an accident.”

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte called the tragedy “unacceptable in a modern society.” He said that “all infrastructure” across the country needed to be double-checked. “We must not allow another tragedy like this to happen again,” he added.

Italian Infrastructure and Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli blamed Autostrade per l’Italia, the private company that runs much of Italy’s motorway network, for the incident.

The company was guilty of “serious shortcomings,” would have its concession to run the motorway network withdrawn and would face fines of up to €150 million ($170 million), Toninelli wrote on Facebook. Conte on Wednesday confirmed the government’s intention to revoke the firm’s contract.

Interior minister points finger at EU austerity

Meanwhile, Salvini blamed the European Union for making Italy unsafe. “Funds that would be spent on health and safety “are not allowed to be billed according to strict … rules imposed by Europe,” the euroskeptic politician told local broadcaster Radio24. “You always have to ask for permission to spend money,” he added. He did not mention any particular European rules on how Italy keeps its roads safe.

President Sergio Mattarella echoed the calls for better conditions on Italian roads.

“Italians have the right to modern and efficient infrastructure that accompanies them safely through their everyday lives,” Mattarella said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin were among the world leaders who sent their condolences.

The Morandi Bridge: The Morandi Bridge was designed by Riccardo Morandi and built in 1967. It was built using reinforced concrete which was the best-known technology at the time. It is one of Genoa’s most important pieces of infrastructure, providing a link to the Italian Riviera and France’s southern coast.

Why it happened: The cause of the collapse is still unknown, but some of the potential causesinclude a possible lightning strike due to the storm at the time of the collapse, an engineering failure, aging infrastructure and corrosion.

Concerns over infrastructure: Following the bridge’s collapse, Italy’s CNR civil engineering society said the working lifespan of bridges built during the 1950s and 1960s was only about 50 years. The Morandi Bridge has been in use for more than five decades.

law/sms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

Turkey’s anti-terror bill sends the wrong message for the economy and diplomacy

July 25, 2018

t has been a month since the June 24 elections and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has almost established the most essential parts of his new administration, although more needs to be done in the coming period.

Erdoğan announced his vice president and 16 ministers on July 9 and issued a number of presidential decrees to build his administration, including nine agencies and four offices, a process that is being accompanied with a major change in the state’s key bureaucracy.

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The last two weeks have shown economy will be the key priority of Erdoğan’s government under the control of his son-in-law Berat Albayrak who has been appointed as the Treasury and Finance Minister.

Albayrak has already proven to be a very active minister who is promising to put things back on track in regards to macroeconomic balances with the participation of all relevant stakeholders. He, at the same time, has been conveying strong messages to ease the concerns of international economic circles and financial institutions over the independence of the Central Bank.

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The second priority of Erdoğan’s government is security. That is why a 29-article legislation that grants excessive powers to governors and other state bodies has been rushed to parliament immediately after the termination of emergency rule. In his address to parliament on July 24, Erdoğan made it clear he would not give an ear to criticisms voiced by other countries and opposition parties.

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) describe this law as the graver version of the state of emergency, which violates the Turkish constitution. Opposition spokespeople underlined many articles of this law were in contradiction with universal rights and fundamental freedoms while the government argues that this legal move is no different from measures taken by France in late 2017 after the removal of a two-year long state of emergency.

The third priority is about foreign policy. Ties with the Netherlands and Germany as well as Austria are seemingly improving in bilateral terms as a result of Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu’s efforts. In a meeting with some journalists on July 23, Çavuşoğlu expressed Turkey’s intention to develop better ties with all countries, particularly in the European continent, hinting new trilateral and four-way mechanisms with prominent partners, including France and Germany.

Çavuşoğlu underlined Turkey’s readiness to reconcile with the European Union as well as the fact that Turkey does not have the luxury to turn its back on the world’s wealthiest international organization. Upgrading the Customs Union and introducing a visa waiver for the Turkish nationals could be areas on which Turkey and the EU can develop their cooperation, according to the minister.

However, these three priorities contradict one another because of the probable negative impact of the anti-terror law on achieving economic and diplomatic targets. There are serious concerns that this new law will institutionalize emergency rule for another three years at the expense of further deteriorating the state of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.

This situation is obviously not ideal for attracting foreign investment, which looks for stability, predictability, and a well-functioning rule of law. It also conveys the message that Turkey is still far from the normalization process.

As for foreign policy, this law will definitely put another hurdle before any attempt to engage with the European Union, if, of course, the government has such an objective. Plus, it will also further complicate Turkey’s demands for upgrading the Customs Union and visa exemption for Turkish nationals.

It is symbolically important that the first legislative activity of the Turkish Parliament under the new presidential system is the one that de facto extends the state of emergency for another three years. Clearly, this bill does not send the right message to the outer world about the government’s future policies.

By Serkan Demirtas

Turkey sacks 18,500 state employees in new decree

July 8, 2018

Turkish authorities ordered the dismissal of more than 18,500 state employees including police officers, soldiers and academics, in a decree published on Sunday.

The Official Gazette said 18,632 people had been sacked including 8,998 police officers in the emergency decree over suspected links to terror organisations and groups that “act against national security”.

Some 3,077 army soldiers were also dismissed as well as 1,949 air force personnel and 1,126 from the naval forces.

© AFP | Turkey has been under a state of emergency since the July 2016 attempted overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Another 1,052 civil servants from the justice ministry and linked institutions have been fired as well as 649 from the gendarmerie and 192 from the coast guard.

Authorities also sacked 199 academics, according to the new decree, while 148 state employees from the military and ministries were reinstated.

Turkey has been under a state of emergency since the July 2016 attempted overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkish media dubbed the decree as the “last” with officials indicating the state of emergency could end as early as Monday.

The emergency has been renewed seven times and the latest period is officially due to end on July 19.

Over 110,000 public sector employees have been removed previously from their jobs via emergency decrees since July 2016 while tens of thousands more have been suspended in a crackdown criticised by Ankara’s Western allies.

Turkey accuses US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen of orchestrating the attempted coup. The majority of those fired under the emergency are accused of links to Gulen.

The government refers to the movement as the “Fethullah Terrorist Organisation”. Gulen strongly denies any coup links and insists his movement is a peaceful organisation.

Sunday’s decree shut down 12 associations across the country as well as three newspapers and a television channel.

Human rights defenders including Amnesty International have lambasted the purges as arbitrary but Turkey says they are necessary to remove the Gulen movement’s infiltration of state bodies.

Earlier this year, the government said more than 77,000 people had been arrested over alleged links to Gulen.


Turkey’s opposition scents success against Erdogan — “Wind in their sails”

June 1, 2018

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Tukrey’s authoritarian president may be in a spot of bother

VICTORY for Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development (AK) party in presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24th should have been a foregone conclusion. The strongman enjoys unwavering support from his religious base, indirect control over practically all big news outlets, and emergency powers that allow him to rule by decree, lock up some critics and make others think twice before speaking.

The second-largest opposition party in parliament, the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), has been in effect banished from the airwaves. Its candidate for president, one of Mr Erdogan’s most outspoken rivals, Selahattin Demirtas, was arrested in 2016 on trumped-up terrorism charges, and is leading his campaign from a prison cell.

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The president’s opponents are still the underdogs in the coming votes, to be held early and for the first time simultaneously. But they seem to have picked up momentum—and found the right candidates.

Muharrem Ince, the nominee of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), is a popular firebrand and one of the few secular politicians capable of connecting with religious voters. Born into a conservative family, Mr Ince prays regularly and defends the right of female civil servants to wear the Islamic headscarf, but also seems to enjoy an occasional drink. Meral Aksener, a veteran nationalist and a former minister of the interior, has propelled herself and her Iyi (“Good”) party from obscurity to the national stage. Remarkably for a party founded less than a year ago, Iyi seems poised to receive well above 10% of the vote in the parliamentary election. Recent polls give Mrs Aksener herself up to 20% in the first round of the presidential contest. Mr Demirtas has also polled in the double digits—not bad for a politician forced to communicate with the outside world through his lawyers and a few social-media accounts.

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Muharrem Ince

Mr Erdogan’s opponents have taken a few pages out of the president’s playbook. Earlier this year AK formed an electoral coalition with the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), whose leader spent years calling Mr Erdogan a dictator only to change tack in exchange for help fighting off an internal challenge. By hitching its wagon to the ruling party’s, the MHP will no longer have to clear the 10% threshold needed to enter parliament.

The opposition has responded in kind. Soon after Mr Erdogan called early elections, the CHP, Iyi, the Felicity Party (SP) and the small Democrat Party forged an alliance of their own, paving the way for even the smallest of the group to send a few members to parliament. A surprising display of solidarity followed. When rumours started to fly that Iyi might be barred from running in the elections due to a controversy about the timing of its party congress, the CHP loaned it some of its own MPs. (Any party with at least 20 members of parliament can take part in the elections.) Each of the two main opposition hopefuls has promised to endorse the other in the second round against Mr Erdogan, assuming he does not win outright.

The opposition has been less magnanimous towards the HDP, which was not invited to join the alliance. Most Turks view the party as a front for the PKK, a Kurdish insurgent group. But some overtures have been made. The presidential contenders have all called for Mr Demirtas to be released before the elections, a plea the courts and the government have ignored.

The sight of the CHP, a secularist party, in cahoots with the SP, an Islamist one, probably has their respective founders, Kemal Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey, and Necmettin Erbakan, a former prime minister, turning in their graves. But desperate times make for desperate bedfellows. Temel Karamollaoglu, the SP’s leader, says the alliance is a marriage of necessity designed to rescue what remains of Turkey’s democracy from Mr Erdogan’s grip. The president and his men have less in common with political Islam than with crony capitalism, says Mr Karamollaoglu. “There is no justice,” he says. “The separation of powers is gone.”

The opposition parties have vowed to scrap Mr Erdogan’s new constitution, which passed by a sliver in a 2017 referendum marred by irregularities and allegations of fraud. The changes will kick in immediately after the elections, reducing parliamentary oversight, abolishing the office of prime minister and concentrating all executive power in the hands of the president. Mr Ince describes this as a recipe for a “one-man regime” and promises to change the constitution again to return to parliamentary rule “as soon as possible”. He and others also pledge to end the state of emergency, which began days after an abortive coup in July 2016, and which has served as cover for sweeping government repression. They may be able to do this, if they can win enough seats to wrest control of parliament from the AK.

For now, Mr Erdogan’s biggest headache is a currency crisis largely of his own making. The president has long insisted on holding lending rates down to keep the economy firing on all cylinders. The central bank has obliged. But the resulting credit binge has come at a cost. The value of the Turkish lira has fallen by half against the dollar since 2015. Following an interview in May in which Mr Erdogan repeated his odd view that high interest rates cause inflation and signalled he would take even greater control of monetary policy after the elections, the currency lost 10% of its value in a week. It strengthened only when Mr Erdogan ceded to orthodoxy and allowed the central bank to raise rates (see article). Turkish companies that racked up mountains of foreign debt may now be on the verge of default. Despite his authoritarian record and wacky economic theories, the markets have always preferred Mr Erdogan and his AK to the fragmented opposition. Over the past month they may have had a change of heart.

This article appeared in the Europe section of the print edition under the headline “Wind in their sails”