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Putin, the African Queen

Putin, the African Queen

While filming “The African Queen” everyone fell sick from drinking the water except for Humphrey Bogart and John Huston, who drank whiskey

Luke Harding is a former journalist for the Guardian. I say former because while he is still writing for the paper, he lost his one remaining shred of credibility last November with an article about Paul Manafort visiting Julian Assange multiple times in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, which soon was discredited as badly as an article can be, but has still not been retracted or corrected by the paper.

If you get caught in that kind of nonsense, you’re surely not a journalist. Of course that was just one in an endless list of blubber that Harding produced about the likes of Assange and Trump. And Putin of course. And now he’s back with more. About Putin.

Somewhere in this new article by Luke Harding and Jason Burke for the venerable publication, they say that Russia only became interested in Africa in 2014. And obviously you know you can stop reading right there. Russia’s been interested in Africa for decades. Because it’s laden with resources. Because everybody else is there to get to those resources.

But Harding manages to write up a piece that makes Russia’s interest terribly suspicious and menacing. Because, you know, Skripal. The Russians did it. He’s basing this on docs he claims to have seen, but doesn’t provide, given to him by an “investigative unit” based in London and funded by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Putin’s worst domestic enemy.

Leaked Documents Reveal Russian Effort To Exert Influence In Africa 

Russia is seeking to bolster its presence in at least 13 countries across Africa by building relations with existing rulers, striking military deals, and grooming a new generation of “leaders” and undercover “agents”, leaked documents reveal.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

France threatens journalists with jail time for exposing use of French arms in Yemen

France threatens journalists with jail time for exposing use of French arms in Yemen

French journalists could face up to five years in prison and be fined up to $83,000

France is ranked 32nd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index (AFP)By MEE and agencies

France has threatened three French journalists with potential jail time for using secret documents to reveal the country’s involvement in the Yemen civil war. 

In a series of reports published in April, investigative journalists from Disclose and Radio France revealed the number of French arms sold to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. REVEALED: The full extent of US arms deals with Saudi Arabia and UAERead More »

The documents, authored by France’s Directorate of Military Intelligence (DSGI), showed that senior French officials had lied about the role of French weapons in the Yemen War. 

Following the publication of the reports in April, Disclose’s co-founders Geoffrey Livolsi and Mathias Destal and Radio France journalist Benoît Collombat were asked to attend a hearing at the DSGI headquarters in Paris. 

The three journalists refused to reveal their sources after being questioned by the DSGI on the origin of the document, their work and posts on Facebook and Twitter.

The journalists used the hearing to defend press freedom and how it was in the public interest to publish details from the leaked DSGI document. 

Press Freedom has been protected for more than 130 years under the Press Law of 1881, which gives journalists the right to keep sources confidential. 

We are concerned that the sole aim of this hearing is to use the threat of prosecution to put pressure on these journalists to reveal their source

– Paul Coppin, Reporters Without Borders

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Chaos Erupts In Paris As “Armageddon” Protesters Riot During French Holiday

Chaos Erupts In Paris As “Armageddon” Protesters Riot During French Holiday

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Paris and other French cities on Wednesday to mark International Workers’ Day (also known as Labor Day), only to clash with French riot police. The demonstrators included Yellow Vests, trade unionists, climate change protesters and Black Bloc (antifa) – which posted on social media that they wanted an “Armageddon” rally that would turn Paris into the “Riot Capital of Europe,” according to the Daily Mail

More than 7,400 police, gendarmes and soldiers were on hand to quell the more violent protesters. Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said “‘There’s no question of dramatising anything, it is a question of being prepared,” adding that “1,000 to 2,000 extremists” were expected to join the protests. 

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Les Marianne Lilloises ont rejoint le cortège en silence #1erMai #Lille

Marching alongside labor unions, pensioners, students and others, the protesters were hit with large amounts of tear gas, baton strikes and other crowd control measures. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Yellow Vest Movement Struggles to Reinvent Democracy as Macron Cranks Up Propaganda and Repression

Yellow Vest Movement Struggles to Reinvent Democracy as Macron Cranks Up Propaganda and Repression

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

After five months of constant presence at traffic circles, toll-booths and hazardous Saturday marches,  the massive, self-organized social movement known as the Yellow Vests has just held its second nationwide “Assembly of Assemblies.” Hundreds of autonomous Yellow Vest activist groups from all over France each chose two delegates (one woman, one man) to gather in the port city of St. Nazaire for weekend of deliberation (April 5-7).

After weeks of skirmishing with the municipal authorities, the local Yellow Vests were able to host 700 delegates at the St. Nazaire “House of the People,” and the three-day series of general meetings and working groups went off without a hitch in an atmosphere of good-fellowship. A sign on the wall proclaimed: “No one has the solution, but everybody has a piece of it.”

Their project: mobilize their “collective intelligence” to reorganize, strategize, and prolong their struggle. Their aim: achieve the immediate goals of livable wages and retirements, restoration of social benefits and public services like schools, transportation, post offices, hospitals, taxing the rich and ending fiscal fraud to pay for preserving the environment, and, most ambitious of all, reinventing democracy in the process. Their Declaration ends with the phrase “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” I often wonder if they know who coined it.

Yellow and Green Unite and Fight

Particular attention was paid to the issue of the environment, reaffirming the popular slogan: “End of the week. End of the world. Same logic, same struggle.” (It rhymes in French.) The Assembly went further and called on “All persons who wish to put an end to the expropriation of the living to take up a conflictual stance against the present system in order to create, together, a new ecological, popular social movement.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Firing on Protesters: Will Macron’s New Tactics Against the Yellow Vests Make Simmering Pot Boil Over? 

Genevieve Legay | Yellow Vest

Firing on Protesters: Will Macron’s New Tactics Against the Yellow Vests Make Simmering Pot Boil Over? 

France stands at a crossroads, with the Macron government attempting to drag the country in a new direction and a disunited and leaderless movement attempting to reverse this change. The outcome of this battle will shape the course of Western Europe’s largest country for decades to come.

NICE, FRANCE — A 73-year-old activist is the latest casualty of French President Emmanuel Macron’s crackdown on the Gilets Jaunes protest movement. Geneviève Legay of the anti-globalization group Attac had her skull fractured by police in Nice as they charged at her during the nineteenth consecutive week of protests against the president’s unpopular austerity and tax policies. The feminist campaigner and grandmother was carrying a rainbow flag marked “peace” as she was attacked, in what her family calls “willful violence” in an official complaint.

The embattled president went after Legay, currently in serious condition in the hospital, lecturing her on her “irresponsibility” for being in a “prohibited” area, claiming that, “when one is fragile and risks being shoved, one does not go to places that are declared off-limits and one does not put oneself in that kind of situation,” adding that he wished her “a speedy recovery…and perhaps a kind of wisdom.”

Macron’s comments have been received by many as a calculated addition of insult to injury. Leftist presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon claimed Legay did not need his lessons in wisdom while Nicolas Dupont-Aignan of the right-wing Stand Up France group derided Macron’s “arrogance” and “inhumanity.”

The origins of the Gilet Jaunes

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Spectacular Violence as a Weapon of War Against the Yellow Vests

Spectacular Violence as a Weapon of War Against the Yellow Vests

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

Violence is a spectacular weapon deployed by the ruling class to discredit movements from below and justify their repression. It is spectacular in the sense of being a great and powerful political tool for governing the masses, and keeping them in their place. In order to do this, however, the weapon of violence is spectacularin a second sense: it creates a carefully orchestrated mise en scène that seeks to render ruling class violence invisible, while simultaneously transforming acts of resistance into prodigious spectacles of criminal violence.

This is how Act 18 of the Yellow Vests is currently being presented by the mass media: at the precise moment at which the government was concluding its democratic consultation of the people via Emmanuel Macron’s “Grand Débat,” the Yellow Vests have unleashed an inordinate amount of violence that now needs to be repressed in the strongest possible terms. The president of the Champs-Elysées Committee, Jean-Noël Reinhardt, declared in an interview in which he is surrounded by the microphones of many of the major press outlets, that the movement is no longer one of the Yellow Vests, but rather of Black Vests that simply “express hatred and the will to destroy.” Proclaiming that this situation cannot be allowed to continue because of its impact on commercial and tourist activity, as well as its defamation of the global symbol of the Champs-Élysées, his statement bleeds seamlessly into the declaration made by the Prime Minster, Édouard Philippe: new measures will be put in place to prohibit protests in certain locations and allow for even more aggressive police crackdowns.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Yellow Vest Movement Not Yet Changing Its Color to Green

Yellow Vest Movement Not Yet Changing Its Color to Green

From Paris, Léa Bouchoucha reports for Consortium News on two sets of demonstrators, some of whom are mingling while others keep a distance. 

Some had hoped the two marches in Paris last Saturday— one focused on global warming and the other representing the 18th straight weekend of Yellow Vest protests  — would join forces and help unite environmental activism with social equity. 

On March 8, Cyril Dion, a well-known documentary film maker and environmental writer, gave a joint interview to Le Parisian with Priscillia Ludosky, considered one of the founders of the Yellow Vest movement, in which they  both encouraged protesters to march together.

To an extent that happened. Yellow vests were a common sight in the climate demonstrations on Saturday. And nongovernmental groups — Greenpeace France, the Nicolas Hulot Foundation, SOS Racisme, Friends of the Earth, 350.org and Alternatiba — voiced a fusion of environmental and economic demands. “Time to change industrial, political and economic systems, to protect the environment, society and individuals,” was a typical message expressed on one banner.

Participants at climate march included a "Revolutionary Grandmother" at left. (Lea Bouchoucha)

The climate march included a “Revolutionary Grandmother” at left. (Lea Bouchoucha)

The contrasts between the two demonstrations, however, wound up drawing the main press attention.Coverage by outlets such as Reuters and the Associated Press emphasized how the march on climate change — which drew around 45,000 in Paris, according to media estimates — was peaceful and included movie stars. The smaller Yellow Vest demonstration in the capital, estimated at around 10,000, was marked by rioting and vandalism.

Some Yellow Vests disagree with violence in demonstrations. But plenty of images have spread on social media that show a few protesters posing proudly in front of vandalized, expensive restaurants and luxury shops along the Champs-Elysées Avenue.

A strong majority of French — 84 percent of those polled — condemned the violence in a survey released March 20 by Elabe, an independent consultancy.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

France To Deploy Military Against Next Round Of Yellow Vest Protests

France To Deploy Military Against Next Round Of Yellow Vest Protests

If the black smoke over the Paris skyline and charred cars and buildings along the Champs-Elysees which have become characteristic of France’s increasingly violent Yellow Vest protests over the past months weren’t alarming enough, things look to get much worse as the government prepares to escalate

In an effort to clamp down on the unraveling security situation, which has lately seen banks and residential buildings torched, and luxury stores and restaurants vandalized and destroyed, the French authorities have announced the deployment of anti-terrorism military forces in order to protect and secure public buildings. Protesters walk by burning cars during clashes with riot police on the sideline of a protest of Gilets jaunes against rising oil prices and living costs, via AFP

Following the worsening protest situation of the past weekend (after a brief lull at the end of President Macron’s failed ‘great debate’ initiative which pushed town halls to air grievances), which nearly turned deadly for random civilians caught in the mayhem of rioters clashing with police, the government will redirect counter-terror troops from Opération Sentinelle to focus on Yellow Vest related threats

Opération Sentinelle began after the January 2015 Île-de-France attacks (the series of al-Qaeda linked terrorist acts that began with the Charlie Hebdo shooting) and resulted in some 10,000 soldiers and 4,700 police and gendarmes deployed at sensitive sites and public buildings across the country. 

According to Bloomberg, French authorities have sought to calm the obvious and immediate fears raised that the move constitutes the government taking a full martial law approach of sending the military against its own people.  Opération Sentinelle forces

Following a weekly cabinet meeting on Wednesday, government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux pointed to the “new forms of violence”Saturday which he said justifies deploying the counter-terror forces. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

France To Ban Yellow Vest Protests In Neighborhoods With “Ultra” Radicals

France To Ban Yellow Vest Protests In Neighborhoods With “Ultra” Radicals

France is cracking down on “yellow vest” protesters following a weekend of renewed violence – as the Macron administration announced on Monday that it would ban demonstration in several areas of france – including the Champs Elysees in Paris, if “ultra elements” are present, according to Interior Minister Edouard Philippe. 

‘We will ban demonstrations if ultra elements’ are present, said Philippe, according to CNEWS.

The ban will apply to “neighborhoods that have been most affected as soon as we have knowledge of” the “ultras.” 

“I am thinking of course the Champs-Elysees in Paris, the place Pey-Berland in Bordeaux, the Capitol Square in Toulouse”, Philippe added, where “we will proceed to the immediate dispersal of all groups.

Philippe added that he has asked the State Judicial Agent to “systematically seek the financial responsibility of troublemakers.” 

 · 19hReplying to @EPhilippePM

A Toulouse, à Bordeaux, à Montpellier, à Saint-Etienne, trop de commerçants depuis mi-novembre ont vu leur outil de travail saccagé. Un plan de soutien a été décidé et j’ai demandé à @BrunoLeMaire de le renforcer.

J’ai demandé à l’Agent Judiciaire de l’État de rechercher systématiquement la responsabilité financière des fauteurs de trouble.

Saturday marked a significant escalation in violence during the group’s 18th straight week of protests – which began as a revolt against a climate-change gas tax and expanded into a general anti-government movement. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Chaos Breaks Out As Yellow Vests Clash With French Police

Chaos Breaks Out As Yellow Vests Clash With French Police

Update: Saturday’s Yellow Vest protests have escalated in intensity as clashes with the police grew increasingly violent. Take a look:

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Ready for a bit of the old ultraviolence?

***

After weeks of more moderate protests, France’s Yellow Vests are back in full swing following the end of President Macron’s unsuccessful ‘great debate’ – during which thousands of town halls were conducted over a two-month period in the hopes of solving national issues through citizen debates. 

Up to half-a-million people participated in 10,000 meetings across the country to discuss social issues ranging from taxes – which the French pay the most of any OECD country in the world, to democracy and climate change. 

“We have been patient but now we want results,” Yellow Vest Laurent Casanova told AFP.

And with no meaningful changes after nationwide cathartic venting, the Yellow Vests are back to angry demonstrations as the protests kick off their 18th week with an ‘ultimatum’ rally – marked by lootings, fires, and mayhem that organizers maintain are due to a radical minority.

LIVE FEED:

Violence broke out on the Champs-Elysees Paris, where Paris riot police clashed with protesters, using tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Wheelchair-Bound Yellow-Vest Pepper-Sprayed By French Cops; Another Man Shot In Face

Wheelchair-Bound Yellow-Vest Pepper-Sprayed By French Cops; Another Man Shot In Face

As the Yellow Vest protests rage across France for the 16th straight week, shocking footage has emerged of police brutality. Apparently a Friday call for calm by President Emmanuel Macron doesn’t apply to police. 

In one clip, a French policeman appears to blast a wheelchair-bound man in the face with pepper spray. 

Embedded video

More and more crazy videos appearing on the internet after yesterday’s #GiletsJunes #YellowVests protest in #France.

In this one #Macron‘s policemen pepper spray a handicapped man.

In another video, reportedly captured with a mobile phone camera, a concussion can be heard – after which the camera shows a man on the ground who had been shot in the face as first responders rush to assist him. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“New Economic or Financial Crisis” in the Eurozone Could Start in Italy: French Government Frets 

“New Economic or Financial Crisis” in the Eurozone Could Start in Italy: French Government Frets

French banks are heavily exposed to Italy.

“Don’t underestimate the impact of the Italian recession.” This was the stark warning from French Economy Minister Bruno Le Marie in an interview with Bloomberg News. “We talk a lot about Brexit, but we don’t talk much about an Italian recession that will have a significant impact on growth in Europe and can impact France because it’s one of our most important trading partners.”

Italy’s economy as measured in real GDP shrank for two quarters in a row, which puts it into a “technical recession”:

It’s the second time in four months that France’s Economy Minister has expressed deep concern about the Italian economy in public. At the end of October he urged the commission to “reach out to Italy” after the EU’s executive had rejected the country’s draft 2019 budget for breaking EU rules on public spending. Le Maire also conceded at the time that while contagion in the Eurozone was definitely contained, the Eurozone “is not sufficiently armed to face a new economic or financial crisis.”

The French government is now openly worried that such a crisis could begin in Italy. The economies of both Italy and France are tightly interwoven, with annual trade flows of around €90 billion. More important still, French banks are, by a long shot, the biggest owners of Italian public and private debt, with total holdings of €311 billion as of the 3rd quarter of 2018, according to the Bank for International Settlements — up €34 billion from the 1st quarter of 2018.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

10 reasons the Gilets Jaunes are the real deal

10 reasons the Gilets Jaunes are the real deal

Image soiurce here.

We live in a world where democracy is a threat and freedom is a punishment, where you can’t tell a turd from a diamond, where 5G is trumpeted even as it threatens to kill us, where the prevailing ethos is buyer-beware and where anyone against warmongering and eternal war is smeared and painted as a monster.

Who do you believe? All the things you felt certain about Democracy, liberty, the right to free speech, television news, all these things are not only being undermined, in reality, they are being thrown in your face. Democracy in the Nazi-controlled Ukraine, moderate jihadi rebels, no democracy in Russia or Venezuela, despite the fingerprint tests on voters and the voting booth cameras, and this voice saying they’re fair elections and a dozen saying what about France isn’t that democracy and twenty other voices say they’re not and right-wing groups going off in the streets and chemicals in your food and forgetting to turn your wi-fi laden house on before you rush to another meeting or charge your phone, and, and…well…I got lost just writing it.

Keeping you busy, that’s what Neo-Liberalist empire does, and amidst it all, you’re meant to be an active citizen stuffed with social capital, capable of an opinion on any topic at the drop of the hat.

Ontological security, everybody needs it, but right now it’s in short supply especially in big metropolitan cities. No wonder people are confused and afraid, walking backwards into the future, stuck knee-deep in mud dreaming that somehow, through some miracle, everything will, “Please!”, return to normal.

So amidst this Tower of Babble, let’s resolve one conundrum for you.

Here are ten reasons the Gilets Jaunes (unlike US sponsored colour revolutions) are the real deal, by which I mean the direct expression of the people of France.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

So When Will the Yellow Vest Movement Take Hold in the USA?

So When Will the Yellow Vest Movement Take Hold in the USA? 

The Yellow Vest anti-government movement (#YellowVests, #GiletsJaunes) began in France on November 17, 2018, when over 300,000 people across France protested a carbon tax on fuel. President Emmanuel Macron claimed the French were leading the world in the battle against climate change. The Yellow Vest protests evolved rapidly into an all-out general anti-government movement that was supported by 70% of the French population. When Macron was forced to back out of the tax, the first thing he did was look for something else to tax to make up the difference. Then the French government had to ask Brussels for an exemption from austerity. This all proved one thing — the fuel tax was really about just raising taxes.

Now, the Yellow Vest Movement has gone worldwide, spreading at first to Belgium, where Brussels riot cops had to deal with them for week after week of protests blocking an oil depot. Then on December 8, 2018, the Belgians attempted to breach a riot barricade while calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Charles Michel, resulting in around 100 arrests. So in both France and in Belgium there are demands for the heads of government to resign.

What is conspicuously absent from the list below is the United States. Trump has rejected the climate taxes and lowered tax rates, moving directly opposite of all the other countries on the list. Nevertheless, the future for the United States is looking very bleak. The budget will force a rise in taxation as more and more government workers retire, thereby dramatically increasing the cost of government.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

France Recalls Ambassador From Italy After “Unprecedented” Verbal Attacks

France Recalls Ambassador From Italy After “Unprecedented” Verbal Attacks

The diplomatic row between France and Italy is escalating. More than half a year after Italy summoned the French ambassador over Europe’s migrant row, on Thursday France one-upped Italy when it announced it would recall its ambassador to Italy, citing “outrageous” verbal attacks, repeated “meddling” in its domestic affairs and “unacceptable” provocations.

La France rappelle son ambassadeur en Italie “après des attaques” “sans précédent” (Quai d’Orsay) #AFP

The French foreign ministry said the decision was taken following a meeting between Italy’s deputy prime minister Luigi Di Maio and leaders of the French Yellow Vest protester movement, trumpeting his support for the grassroots protests in defiance of President Emmanuel Macron.

“This is unprecedented since the war,” the foreign ministry said in an emailed statement on Thursday. “Having disagreements is one thing, but using the relationship for electoral purposes is quite another.”

Luigi di Maio, Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement hailed the “winds of change across the Alps” yesterday on Twitter after meeting with Yellow Vest activists Cristophe Chalencon and Ingrid Levavasseur.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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