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France’s year of Yellow Vests protests

By Nebojsa Malic | RT | November 16, 2019

As the ‘Yellow Vests’ protests in France come full circle, some vow to keep fighting for a more just society, while others believe the movement has gone too far. Though rattled, the system they rose up against is still in power.

Every Saturday for a year now, tens of thousands of people all over France have taken to the streets, fed up with not just the neoliberal and austerity policies of President Emmanuel Macron, but apparently the entire political system of the Fifth Republic.

The government has gone after them in force, pushing the police to their breaking point. The mainstream media has demonized them as anti-Semites, homophobes, far-right. Nevertheless, the ‘Yellow Vests’ (Gilets Jaunes) have persisted.

How it all began

A Frenchman marching through the streets of Paris, Lyon, Nice, Marseille, Dijon or any other city this Saturday might recall the very first protest, on November 17, 2018, with 300,000 across the country wearing the government-mandated safety vests as a protest symbol against that very government.

While it is unclear which particular pebble started this avalanche, the general consensus points to that summer’s new speed limit of 80 km/h, ostensibly enacted to cut carbon emissions and fight climate change. That was followed by an “eco-tax.” Whether or not those had the ulterior motive of replenishing the empty French treasury, the people were having none of it.

Trucker Eric Drouet and businesswoman Priscillia Ludosky circulated a petition against the tax in October, which quickly snowballed. Then a resident of Brittany named Jacline Mouraud posted a video on Facebook that went viral. Someone called for a street protest. There has been one every Saturday, ever since.

‘Repression is out in the open now’

Here and there, the protests turned violent. Rocks were thrown at the police. By week two, someone had vandalized the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and set cars on fire. Police responded as they do to riots in the banlieues – suburbs where many of France’s immigrants live in public housing: with overwhelming force.

This kind of repression has been around for a long time, Yellow Vest activist turned journalist Maxime Nicolle tells RT France. Now it’s out in the open, for everyone to see.

Yellow Vests’ Maxime Nicolle (right) speaks with RT France’s Nadège Abderrazak ©  RT France

Exact numbers are difficult to come by, but French media estimate that over 10,000 people have been detained over the past year. Some 3,000 have been prosecuted and over 400 sentenced to jail time. The carnage on the street has been real as well: 11 people have died over the course of the protests, and over 500 were injured. Of those, 23 lost an eye to “flash-balls,” non-lethal police rounds that maim nonetheless.

Perhaps the most famous among them is Jérôme Rodrigues, a plumber who believes the police deliberately targeted him that January day. Wearing a prosthetic eye, Rodrigues tells RT France he struggles with anger issues and fears for his safety, but if he could turn back time, he would do it all over again.

‘Upside-down world’

The 32-year-old Nicolle, also known as “Fly Rider,” lives in Dinan, Bretagne. His eyes light up with anger when he talks about his compatriots reduced to poverty in their twilight years and his generation sleeping in their cars because they can’t afford the rent and taxes. Meanwhile, he says, the elites are “eating caviar, drinking €500 bottles of wine, living in pretty Paris apartments.”

He rejects the argument that France’s national debt is 98 percent of its GDP and that there is simply no money for social services. Nicolle points out the government takes out loans from private banks, then has to pay steep interest. Why not nationalize the banks, he wonders.

Hundreds of kilometers away, in Paris, the one-eyed Rodrigues argues the same thing. He describes the debt as “numbers in a computer,” and scoffs that somehow there is always money for the wealthy, yet never any for the common man. Corporations have their subsidies and tax havens, yet the working poor have to pay the tax to clean up their pollution. What gives?

Yellow Vests’ Jérôme Rodrigues speaks with RT France ©  RT France

“Today, if you make €1,500 [a month] in France, you can’t afford rent, you have to sleep in your car. That’s not normal. A working person has the right to live decently,” says Rodrigues. “It’s an upside-down world.”

In separate interviews, both Rodrigues and Nicolle argue that the system itself is unjust, as it thinks nothing of humanity, only of ones and zeroes on the balance sheets. The institutions that were supposed to serve the people have failed, and perhaps it’s time to create new ones. Could the Fifth Republic, around since 1968, be on its last legs?

Almost a revolution

That’s precisely what almost happened within the first month of the Yellow Vests protest, according to one Elysee Palace guard. A member of the special police unit specializing in crowd control (CRS) said this week that the handful of them could not have resisted the 3,000 or so protesters for long.

“If we had been attacked, where I was, we could not have held: the Elysee would fall. In retrospect, it’s really scary,” said the man, who gave his name as Stéphane.

The Yellow Vests did not attack. Macron’s presidency survived. Although the French president has since pledged some €17 billion in tax relief, one-time bonuses and subsidies, he remains determined to reject their demands for systemic reforms. While the protesters never quite numbered the original 300,000, they still turn out every Saturday.

Protests have taken their toll on the police, too, with the rising number of suicides prompting a protest march of their own back in October. The thin blue line is still holding, for now, but it cannot stretch forever.

Parallel to the police repression, the government has implemented a media one. The Yellow Vests were accused of anti-Semitism, homophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, racism – just about every possible issue considered beyond the pale in modern liberal discourse.

Nicolle says it was an attempt to label the movement and put it into a box, which failed. People who took a moment to think saw that there was nothing to it and that the Yellow Vests were not an instrument of any political party, whether on the far right or the far left. The smears did have a negative effect, however, fracturing the movement and sending some members running.

Gone too far?

One of them is Jacline Mouraud, the author of the Facebook video that helped kick-start the protests. She lives in Morbihan, Bretagne and still champions the movement’s social and economic justice values – but says they lost her when the Arc de Triomphe was vandalized in December, and “black bloc” anarchists were allowed to torch cars and loot stores in March.

Yellow Vests’ Jacline Mouraud speaks to RT France ©  RT France

“Violence is counterproductive,” she tells RT France. “Bad dialogue is better than a good war.” At the start of the protests, 80 percent of the French supported the protests, but the tide has turned and now four fifths of the country want nothing to do with the Yellow Vests, she says. “One should know when to stop.”

The March 16 riot in particular alienated many moderates, Mouraud argues. She had already turned political by that point, launching a political party in January 2019. Called The Risen (Les Émergents), it intends to run candidates in France’s local elections in 2020.

Even though she had split off from the ‘Yellow Vests,’ Mouraud’s party exemplifies their desire to bring more direct democracy to France, a country where the existing political establishment is increasingly seen as out of touch.

‘People will make you great’

President Macron “lives in another world,” Rodrigues tells RT France. The one-eyed plumber described the French leader as isolated from reality, in an ivory tower guarded by police, working for the benefit of “his rich friends” – Macron became a millionaire working as an investment banker at Rothschild & Co after the 2008 financial crisis – rather than the “folks in the rafters.”

“You want to be a great man? It’s the people that make you great,” Rodrigues said, noting that the French history remembers the statesmen who served the nation well, rather than just themselves.

Macron and the media have tried to paint the Yellow Vest as “far-right,” but their platform seems to have more in common with the left of yesteryear. They say they fight not just for their children – such as Nicolle’s 9-year-old daughter – but for the memory of  their grandparents’ generation, which fought for the rights the French of today take for granted; the 40-hour workweek, weekends and annual leave.

Not quite a revolution, but definitely not business as usual, the ‘Yellow Vests’ defy categorization. Though maybe not attracting the numbers they once did, the Gilets Jaunes are still going strong. For better or for worse, stopping is the last thing on their mind.

Also on rt.com:

March of the mutilated: Injured Yellow Vests protest police brutality in Paris (VIDEO)

November 16, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics | , | 1 Comment

UN Votes to Renew UNRWA Mandate

Palestine Chronicle – November 16, 2019

The overwhelming vote at the United Nations General Assembly’s Fourth Committee in favor of renewing the mandate of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) dominated the front page of the three Palestinian Arabic dailies today.

This issue was given special attention in light of American and Israeli efforts to do away with UNRWA as part of a plan to undermine Palestinian refugee rights in their homeland they were expelled from 70 years ago when Israel was created on their land and in their homes.

The US and Israel were the only two states voting against the renewal of the mandate while 170 countries voted in favor.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida said President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the vote.

November 16, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Western Media Bias Allows Israel to Get away with Murder in Gaza

By Ramzy Baroud | Dissident Voice | November 16, 2019

An Israeli attack on Gaza was imminent, and not because of any provocations by Palestinian groups in the besieged, impoverished Gaza Strip. The Israeli military escalation was foreseeable because it factors neatly in Israel’s contentious political scene. The war was not a question of “if”, but “when”.

The answer came on November 12, when the Israeli military launched a major strike against Gaza, killing an Islamic Jihad Commander, Bahaa Abu al-Ata, along with his wife Asma.

More strikes followed, targeting what the Israeli military described as Islamic Jihad installations. However, the identities of the victims, along with damning social media footage, pictures, and eyewitness accounts indicate that civilians and civilian infrastructure were bombed and destroyed as well.

As of November 14, when a truce was announced, 32 Palestinians have been killed and over 80 wounded in the Israeli aggression.

What truly frustrates any meaningful discussion on the horrific situation in Gaza is the feeble response, whether by international organizations that exist with the sole purpose of ensuring world peace or by Western monopoly media, that ceaselessly celebrates its own accuracy and impartiality.

A most disappointing response to the Israeli violence was offered by Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.

Mladenov, whose job should have long been deemed pointless considering that no “peace process” actually exists, expressed his “concern” about the “ongoing and serious escalation between Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Israel”.

Not only Mladenov’s statement creates a moral equivalence between an occupying power, which instigated the war in the first place, and a small group of a few hundred armed men, it is also dishonest.

“The indiscriminate launching of rockets and mortars against population centres is absolutely unacceptable and must stop immediately,” Mladenov elaborated, putting great emphasis on the fact that, “there can be no justification for any attacks against civilians”.

Shockingly, Mladenov was referring to Israeli, not Palestinian civilians. At the time that his statement was released to the media, there were already dozens of Palestinian civilians that had been killed and wounded, while Israeli media reports spoke of few Israelis who had been treated for “anxiety”.

The European Union did not fare any better. The EU parroted the same American knee-jerk response by condemning “the barrage of rocket attacks reaching deep into Israel”.

“The firing of rockets on civilian populations is totally unacceptable and must immediately stop,” a statement by the European bloc read.

Is it not possible that Mladenov and top EU foreign policymakers do not truly comprehend the political context of the latest Israeli onslaught — that embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is using military escalation as a way of fortifying his weakening grip on power.

Considering this, what is one to make of the poor media coverage, the inept analyses and the absence of balanced reports in major Western news media?

In a report published by the BBC on November 13, the British broadcaster referred to “cross-border violence between Israel and militants in Gaza”.

But Gaza is not an independent country and, per international law, it is still under Israeli occupation. Israel declared Gaza a “hostile territory” in September 2007, arbitrarily establishing a “border” between it and the besieged Palestinian territory. For some reason, the BBC finds this designation acceptable.

CNN, on the other hand, reported on November 13 that “Israel’s military campaign against Islamic Jihad” is entering its second day, while emphasizing the UN condemnation of the rocket attacks.

CNN, like most of its American corporate counterparts, reports on Israeli military campaigns as a part and parcel of some imagined “war on terror”. Therefore, analyzing the language of US mainstream media with the purpose of underlining and emphasizing its failures and biases, is a useless exercise.

Sadly, US bias regarding Palestine has extended to mainstream media in European countries that were, to some degree, fairer, if not somewhat sympathetic, with the Palestinian peoples’ situation.

El Mundo of Spain, for example, spoke of a number of Palestinians — making sure to emphasize that they were “mostly militants”, — who “died” as opposed to “were killed” by the Israeli military.

“The escalation followed the death of Gaza’s armed branch leader,” El Mundo reported, failing once more to pinpoint the culprits in these seemingly mysterious deaths.

La Repubblica, which is perceived in Italy as a “leftist” outlet, sounded more like a right-wing Israeli newspaper, in its description of the events that led to the death and wounding of many Palestinians. The Italian newspaper used a fabricated timeline that only exists in the mind of Israeli military and decision-makers.

“Violence continued. Several rockets were thrown towards Israel by Gaza’s Islamic Jihad (militants), breaking the brief truce, according to (right-wing Israeli newspaper) The Jerusalem Post and to the Israeli army”.

It remains unclear what “truce” La Repubblica was referring to.

France’s Le Monde followed suit, reporting the same deceptive and cliched Israeli lines and emphasizing statements by the Israeli military and government. Interestingly, the death and wounding of many Palestinians in Gaza did not deserve a place on the French newspaper’s homepage. Instead, it chose to highlight a comparatively irrelevant news item where Israel denounced the labeling of illegal settlement products as “discriminatory”.

Maybe, one could have excused these across-the-board journalistic and moral failings if it were not for the fact that the Gaza story has been one of the most covered news topics anywhere in the world for over a decade.

It is obvious that the West’s “newspapers of record” have maintained their blindspot on fairly reporting on Gaza and intentionally kept the truth from their readers for many years so as not to offend the sensibilities of the Israeli government and its powerful allies and lobbies.

While one cannot help but bemoan the death of good journalism in the West, it is also important to acknowledge with much appreciation the courage and sacrifices of Gaza’s young journalists and bloggers who, at times, are targeted and killed by the Israeli army for conveying the truth on the plight of the besieged but tenacious Strip.


Dr. Ramzy Baroud is an author and a journalist. He is athor of The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle and his latest My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story. He can be reached at ramzybaroud@hotmail.com.

November 16, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

“The Palace… Threatened Us a Million Different Ways”

By Craig Murray | November 16, 2019

This leaked off-air recording of ABC News anchor Amy Robach is much more revealing than anything the BBC is going to air about Andrew Saxe Coburg Gotha.

Buckingham Palace has been “threatening” journalists to bury the story for years – which is all very reminiscent of Jimmy Savile, who was of course, ahem, popular at the Palace. Robach also states they were scared of losing interview access to folically challenged William Saxe Coburg Gotha and his underweight wife. She does not explicitly state that was one of the “threats” Buckingham Palace employed, but it does follow directly as her next observation.

Amy Robach very probably realised this “unguarded” moment would get out to the public, and we should be grateful to her for lifting the lid on how the protection of the crimes of the powerful operates, on a global level. Alan Dershowitz, whom Robach mentions, was not only a Lolita Express passenger, he is the celebrity lawyer who defended the CIA‘s use of torture as legally and morally justified. One might speculate on the psychological parallels of torturing the defenceless and inflicting sex on the young.

There is overwhelming evidence that Virginia Roberts Giuffre was trafficked into the UK by Epstein for sex with Prince Andrew. There are flight logs. There is that compromising photo in Ghislaine Maxwell’s flat. Both are entirely consistent with, and strongly corroborate, Virginia’s own testimony. This instance occurred in the UK.

It ought to be a matter of deep national disgrace that neither Ghislaine Maxwell nor “Prince” Andrew has been questioned over by the Metropolitan Police over this sex trafficking. That Virginia was over 16 is not the issue. She was sex trafficked into the UK and not legally adult. Why is there not a massive media clamour for Scotland Yard to investigate?

Amy Robach has the answer to that question.

Hat Tip to projectveritas

November 16, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

Questioning Edward Snowden with Jason Bermas

James Corbett joins Jason Bermas to discuss Edward Snowden’s new book and the deeper questions surrounding the “Snowden revelations” narrative. *PLEASE NOTE: There are several audio drop-outs during this conversation, but it is still intelligible.

VIDEO COURTESY: JASON BERMAS

SHOW NOTES
Permanent Record

Snowden on Rogan

Snowden Mission Accomplished

Google Has MILLIONS OF PATIENTS HEALTH RECORDS And They Don’t Even Know It!

Blowing the Whistle on the NSA

Clemente reveals total surveillance on Erin Burnett

The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)

Whistleblower: NSA wiretapped Obama, Petraeus, Alito, others

How the Government Predicts The Future – Inside the “Sentient World Simulation”

All Hail Elon’s Martian Technocracy!

Another severe flaw in Signal desktop app lets hackers steal your chats in plaintext

Interview 152 – John Young on Wikileaks and Whistleblowing

Episode 252 – Meet Zbigniew Brzezinski, Conspiracy Theorist

November 16, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | 1 Comment

Twitter’s ‘ban’ on political ads has a gaping, legacy media-shaped loophole

RT | November 16, 2019

Trying to stay ahead of spurious allegations of enabling ‘Russian meddling’ into US elections, Twitter has outlawed all political advertising – but left an exemption most US legacy media, though partisan, will easily sail through.

“Twitter globally prohibits the promotion of political content. We have made this decision based on our belief that political message reach should be earned, not bought,” the company announced Friday, sharing the details of its ad ban.

Elaborating on the decision in a thread, Twitter’s head of legal, policy and Trust & Safety Vijaya Gadde effectively admitted that the ban was driven by concerns over digital advertising “driving political outcomes” – even though the effects of micro-targeted ads “are not yet fully understood.”

The ban is scheduled to go into effect on November 22. In addition to banning candidates, parties, and affiliated groups like political action committees (PACs) from advertising, Twitter is also ruling out ads that are about influencing votes, parties, ballot initiatives or elections. “Cause-based ads” will be allowed with certain restrictions, but again not when coming from candidates, parties or politicians.

If this sounds convoluted, banning both people and content, that’s because it is. However, the policy has a sizeable exemption for “news publishers” who can run ads referencing “political content and/or prohibited advertisers,” so long as there is no advocacy for or against.

To qualify, a publication’s website must have “a minimum of 200,000 monthly unique visitors in the US,” the ability to contact its editors and reporters online, have a searchable archive, and not be a user-generated platform or aggregator. Nor can the publication be dedicated to advocating on a single issue.

These parameters clearly skew the playing field in favor of US legacy media – despite its open partisanship over the past several years. Not only have the legacy media and Democrats blamed the social media for enabling the election of President Donald Trump, they have also led the charge in pressuring Twitter, Facebook and others to “deplatform” any alternative voices they might find unsavory.

Most recently, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California) actually demanded Twitter suspend Trump’s account as part of her pitch for the 2020 presidential nomination – so far, without effect.

In August, Twitter rolled out a ban on ads from “state-controlled news media entities,” using a convoluted definition that also carves out exemptions for well-established legacy outlets in the West.

(Full disclosure: Twitter banned RT ads long before that, without explanation or process, following the initial 2017 congressional hearings into social media platforms, and the revelation that it proposed a multi-million dollar deal to RT during the 2016 election, which was declined.)

The vast majority – about 86 percent – of Twitter’s revenue comes from advertising, with data licensing and other sources accounting for the rest. The company turned an annual profit for the first time in 2018, five years after going public.

November 16, 2019 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | | Leave a comment