France gears up to face new riots; Paris shuts down

Adjust Comment Print

French riot police clashed with "yellow vest" protesters in central Paris on Saturday during the latest wave of demonstrations against high living costs which have shaken President Emmanuel Macron's authority. "Protests and riots all over France", Trump tweeted.

Shouts of "Macron, resign" echoed through clouds of tear gas near the famous Champs-Elysees, the scene the previous week of the worst rioting in Paris for decades.

Thick plumes of black smoke from fires could be seen rising high into the sky over the city.

Macron's government had warned that the yellow vest protests had created a "monster" and that the Paris actions would be hijacked by radicalized and rebellious crowds and become the most risky yet after three weeks of demonstrations.

The protesters accuse the centrist president of favouring the rich and city-dwellers over those trying to make ends meet in car-dependent rural and small-town France.

"The Paris Agreement isn't working out so well for Paris".

"I can't let him live in a country where the poor are exploited". And that proposed gas tax was indeed what first prompted the "yellow vest" demonstrations across France, starting on November 17.

It's the fourth rally by the gilets jaunes, or "yellow vests", protesters wearing the fluorescent jackets required by French law to be in every vehicle.

Eric Drouet, one of the initiators of the protests, called on people to protest on the roads and motorways surrounding Paris, "where there is nothing to break and nothing to destroy" but where they can "shout out" their anger.

Police are searching people throughout zones of central Paris and confiscating goggles and gas masks from journalists who use them to protect against tear gas while covering demonstrations.

Some of those arrested were carrying hammers, slingshots and rocks.

Cyril, a 25-year-old garbage truck driver, came from Normandy with three other demonstrators to Paris. The Eiffel Tower and Louvre Museum were among the many tourist attractions that closed for the day, fearing damages amid a new round of protests.

SpaceX launches cargo but fails to land rocket
Other experiments among the more than 250 on board include a new kind of mustard green lettuce that astronauts will grow in space. Just like the Falcon 9 booster used on the SmallSat mission, the Dragon spacecraft was used in missions before.

SpaceX launches resupply mission to International Space Station
The booster continued to function after it landed in the water, going through its automated safeing process and transmitting data. It's the first time that's happened since the groundbreaking launch of the company's Falcon Heavy spacecraft in February .

UN General Assembly rejects US-backed resolution to condemn Hamas
In a symbolic stride, the US resolution did garner support by a majority of members, but failed because it required a supermajority.

Anticipating a repeat of last weekend's violence, monuments including the Eiffel Tower and numerous French capital's metro stations remained closed with about 8,000 police on the streets of Paris with tens of thousands more deployed across the country.

"These past three weeks have produced a monster that its creators no longer control", Interior Minister Castaner said on Friday, vowing "zero tolerance" toward those aiming to wreak further destruction.

"I ask the yellow vests that want to bring about a peaceful message to not go with the violent people".

A spokesman from the movement, Christophe Chalencon, said Philippe had "listened to us and promised to take our demands to the president".

"We can not take the risk when we know the threat", Culture Minister Franck Riester told RTL radio, according to Reuters. "I hope he will speak to the people of France as a father, with love and respect and that he will take strong decisions", he said.

Shops around the famous Champs-Elysees boulevard - the epicentre of last week's battle - were busy boarding up their windows and emptying them of merchandise on Friday.

Some could be held in the city centre on what is a major Christmas shopping weekend.

The government, as well as most opposition parties and unions have called for calm.

"[This is] a president who believes in the European project, who has grandiose ideas about the world, who cuts taxes for the rich and the puts up the cost of filling up your vehicle or van for those on lower incomes", Farage said.

Since his election in 2016, Trump has cultivated a fractious relationship with most Western leaders, regularly clashing with them over the role of supranational bodies such as the WTO, or the International Criminal Court, and issues like trade, emissions and immigration.

But the protesters themselves were giving the real reason for the violence - if anyone in Macron's government was listening.