Tag Archives: Paris

France’s New Security Law May Have Just Sparked a “George Floyd” Moment

Sparked by a new bill that would make publishing photos of police illegal and a viral video soon after that shows French police brutally beating a black man, it appears that France may be headed for its own “George Floyd” moment.

By Alan Macleod. Published 11-30-2020 by MintPress News

Screenshot: EuroNews

Award-winning Syrian photographer Ameer Alhalbi lies dazed on the ground. His head is heavily bruised and bandaged, blood covers his face, arms, and much of his body. Lengths of cotton wool have been stuffed up his broken nose, giving him an almost comical appearance. Alhalbi has been badly beaten by police. But this is not Syria, it is Paris, where he was covering — ironically — huge, nationwide protests against police brutality this weekend.

Perhaps even more concerning is that new laws pushed through by the government of Emmanuel Macron and passed by France’s National Assembly (akin to the U.S. House of Representatives) mean that sharing images of Alhalbi or other victims of police brutality might soon be considered illegal.

Article 24 of the country’s new national security bill, which now only needs to be ratified by the Senate, specifically outlaws the publishing and dissemination of images of police that undermine their physical or psychological “integrity,” and is punishable with a fine of up to €45,000 and up to one year in jail. The bill specifically states that filming police in such a manner would be against the law, but questions have been raised about how liberally authorities would interpret the nebulous language of the new edict. Media unions and human rights groups warn that it could prevent journalists from documenting police abuses.

The National Assembly’s decision to approve the law last week sparked large protests in many major cities around France, including Bordeaux, Lille, Montpellier, and Nantes. However, an incident caught on camera on Saturday threw large amounts of fuel on the fire of resentment, drastically increasing the demonstrations’ size and intensity.

Images from mobile phones and closed-circuit television showed an unprovoked police attack on a young black music producer at his place of work. A group of four officers can be seen chasing after Michel Zecler, following him from outside into his studio, where they kick, punch and beat him with truncheons. Zecler also alleges they shouted racial abuse while they assailed him.

Before the videos went viral on social media, the officers testified that Zecler had, in fact, attacked them, and was resisting arrest. The officers have now been charged with “deliberate violence” and with “falsifying statements.” Two of the gang of four, including a 44-year-old senior officer with the rank of brigadier, remain in custody, while two others have been released.

The viral images provoked a storm of condemnation across the country this weekend, and propelled as many as 500,000 people into the streets, with demonstrations in dozens of cities. Protestors marched through the streets, setting light to cars, damaging buildings, and clashing with police, of whom a reported 98 were injured nationwide. Many of Paris’ iconic boulevards resembled a war zone as thousands of demonstrators pitched battle with lines of police in riot gear.

President Macron said he was “very shocked” by the footage of the police attack on Zecler, yet continues to be a driving force behind the new security law, under which many have noted that the images might never have come to light, given as they essentially identify the Parisien officers and clearly undermine their integrity or authority. Without the footage, it is possible that Zecler would have been facing prosecution himself.

Although the bill and the protests against it are dominating French politics, the story has been covered sparsely in the American corporate press, with no coverage whatsoever in MSNBCCBS News, or CNBC. Fox News, meanwhile, reprinted one Associated Press article, featuring an egregious, uncorrected error in its subheadline, asserting that protestors were shooting tear gas at themselves.

While foreign desks have been seriously cut in recent years, huge demonstrations in central Paris should not have been too difficult to cover. Lebanese political commentator Sarah Abdallah suggested that if the rallies had been happening in countries antagonistic to the United States, they would have been front-page news. Certainly, similar protests in Iran and Hong Kong dominated the news cycles last year, prompting constant reaction from Mike Pompeo. The Secretary of State is yet to comment on the events in France, suggesting that they are not at the front and center of his thoughts.

President Macron came to power in 2017, winning in the final round of the election against far-right challenger Marine Le Pen. A strong believer in neoliberalism and an admirer of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, he has insisted that France must not merely be reformed, but transformed, and has attempted to radically alter the shape of French society, away from a social democratic model to one more resembling the United States. Almost immediately after gaining the presidency, however, his average approval rating tumbled and has not risen above 40% since.

Indeed, the 42-year-old former investment banker has faced almost constant resistance to his agenda from the general public. His attempts to increase the cost of fuel in 2018 sparked the Yellow Vest movement across the country. Meanwhile, his plans to raise the age of retirement and reform France’s pension system was met with a months-long general strike that paralyzed the country last winter. Despite losing over 50,000 people to the coronavirus pandemic, he has seen his popularity increase this year due to the government’s financial response to the virus, which included aid to small businesses and paying employees to stay home. Despite this, it appears possible that France might be headed for its own “George Floyd” moment, where its racial injustices are finally reckoned with.

This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

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‘This Is Not Normal’: Record-Smashing European Heat Wave Sparks Demands to Combat Climate Emergency

“The climate is changing. Use your voice, wallet, and votes to fight it.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-25-2019

Heat records were smashed across Western Europe on Thursday. (Image: Copernicus Emergency Management Service)

Following days of warnings from meteorologists, temperatures soared to historic highs throughout Western Europe Thursday, eliciting impassioned demands for governments to take more ambitious action to combat the climate crisis.

Heat records were shattered Thursday in regions of Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Continue reading

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On ‘Hottest Day in History of France,’ World Told ‘Do Not Look Away’ as Police Tear-Gas Climate Campaigners in Paris

“Watch this video and ask yourself,” said Greta Thunberg, “who is defending who?”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-28-2019

Activists with Extinction Rebellion pepper-sprayed by police as they occupied the Sully Bridge in Paris on Friday. (Photo: Extinction Symbol/Screenshot/via Twitter)

French riot police tear-gassed climate protesters in Paris on Friday as the county sweltered under record heat.

Activists with Extinction Rebellion (XR) were occupying a bridge over the Seine to demand the French government declare a climate emergency and take necessary action to avert planetary catastrophe.

“We need to civilly disrupt because, otherwise, nothing is going to be done,” a British woman who took part in the protest told Euronews. Continue reading

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More Than a Thousand Arrested as Yellow Vests Protests Over Economic Frustration Rage on Across France

“The Gilets Jaunes that you see in the streets,” said one organizer, “they’re being bled dry financially. The wealth gap is getting wider, and we’ve reached a point where there are the very rich and the very poor.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-9-2018

Some 1,220 people were arrested in France on Saturday as more than a hundred thousand took to the streets—leading to a lockdown and armored vehicles pouring into Paris—as part of the “Yellow Vests” or “Gilets Jaunes” movement that initially came as a response to French President Emmanuel Macron’s attempt to raise taxes on gasoline and diesel, which critics warn would primarily impact the working- and middle-class.

The movement’s name comes from many supporters wearing the yellow high-visibility vests that all drivers in France are required to keep in their vehicles. Although Macron’s centrist administration announced last week that it was suspending fuel and electricity hikes for six months, outrage over growing inequality across the country has continued to produce massive protests. Continue reading

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Do Ongoing Global Events Prove the World Is Ready for Revolution?

By Claire Bernish. Published 4-13-2016 by The Anti-Media

Paralleling the increasingly draconian policies marking a worldwide descent into fascism, are massive protests — born in the Arab Spring, but arguably an angrier, more potent extension of the Occupy movement — indicative of an unprecedented tipping point.

We, the people of this planet, now stand together, gazing over the precipice whose murky depths of State repression demand we ask one imperative question: have we finally had enough?

“[W]e have lost the way,” Charlie Chaplin implores us to consider in his renowned and timeless monologue from The Great Dictator, because“Greed has poisoned men’s souls — has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.” Continue reading

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Hysterical Corporate Media Fueling War Fervor, Xenophobia in 24/7 Cycle

‘Not since 2003 have I witnessed anything as supine and uncritical as the CIA-worshipping stenography that has been puked forward this week.’

Written by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-18-2015.

The 24/7 coverage, marked by speculation and sensationalism, is only helping the media conglomerates. (Image: CNN Screenshot)

The 24/7 coverage, marked by speculation and sensationalism, is only helping the media conglomerates. (Image: CNN Screenshot)

Just as they did in the wake of 9/11, corporate media outlets—led by cable news networks—are spreading hysteria, fueling anti-immigrant sentiment, and beating the drum for war by providing “context-free coverage of terror,” as one analyst put it this week.

The 24/7 coverage of Friday’s attacks in Paris and their aftermath, marked by speculation and sensationalism, is only helping the media conglomerates.

According to Deadline: “Fox News Channel and CNN both logged their biggest primetime crowds of the year, excluding presidential debates, when viewers tuned in to learn about the attacks in Paris on Friday that killed at least 129 people and injured hundreds more. The two cable news networks traded hourly wins in the news demo that night.”

(Image: FOX News Screenshot)(Image: FOX News Screenshot)

But wall-to-wall “analysis”—bereft of actual facts or nuance—does little for the viewer, wrote Jim Naureckas of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) on Tuesday. And it’s part of a historical pattern that only perpetuates war and conflict.

“The outpouring of no-context, ahistorical sympathy after 9/11 helped pave the way for a violent reaction that killed in Iraq alone roughly 150 times as many people as died in Lower Manhattan that day—an opportunistic catastrophe that did more to mock than avenge those deaths,” Naureckas argued.

Political analyst and media critic Heather Digby Parton, writing at Salon on Tuesday, agreed that the media has been complicit in pushing problematic foreign policy.

“It was well documented that during the run-up to the Iraq war there was tremendous pressure coming from the executive suite of the news networks to cheerlead for the administration,” she argued. “Those who resisted were marginalized and fired if they refused to go along. It’s unlikely that the word went forth on Saturday that reporters should get on a war footing and issue demands that the president use ‘the greatest military in the world’ to ‘take out these bastards.’ But they don’t have to say it explicitly do they? Everyone knows the drill.”

“There is no doubt the Republicans are getting ready to launch a full blown campaign of paranoid bloodlust which, if successful, would have devastating consequences,” Parton concluded. “The media were willing recruits in their cause fifteen years ago. Let’s hope they gather their wits about them before they take us down that dangerous road again.”

(Image: CNN Screenshot)(Image: CNN Screenshot)

And it’s not just cable news networks that are the culprits.

While he praised a New York Times editorial on Wednesday that “mercilessly shames the despicable effort by U.S. government officials to…exploit the Paris attacks to advance long-standing agendas,” The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald criticized the Times‘ overall news coverage for failing to address how:

… particularly after a terror attack, large parts of the U.S. media treat U.S. intelligence and military officials with the reverence usually reserved for cult leaders, whereby their every utterance is treated as Gospel, no dissent or contradiction is aired, zero evidence is required to mindlessly swallow their decrees, anonymity is often provided to shield them from accountability, and every official assertion is equated with Truth, no matter how dubious, speculative, evidence-free, or self-serving.

“Like many people, I’ve spent years writing about the damage done by how subservient and reverent many U.S. media outlets are toward the government officials they pretend to scrutinize,” Greenwald continued. “But not since 2003 have I witnessed anything as supine and uncritical as the CIA-worshipping stenography that has been puked forward this week. Even before the Paris attacks were concluded, a huge portion of the press corps knelt in front of the nearest official with medals on their chest or who flashes covert status, and they’ve stayed in that pitiful position ever since.”

He added: “The leading cable news networks, when they haven’t been spewing outright bigotry and fear-mongering, have hosted one general and CIA official after the next to say whatever they want without the slightest challenge. Print journalists, without the excuse of the pressures of live TV, have been even worse: article after article after article does literally nothing other than uncritically print the extremely dubious claims of military and intelligence officials without including any questioning, contradiction, dissenters, or evidence that negates those claims.”

(image: MSNBC Screenshot)(image: MSNBC Screenshot)

Without real analysis and historical context, we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past, said Rania Masri, associate director of the Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship at the American University in Beirut, on Oregon’s KBOO radio this week.

“With that knowledge and understanding that we should look at what the French president is saying when he calls for—and I quote—a ‘pitiless war’,” she said. “Who will die next….given that it seems that the French government is unfortunately going to follow in the footsteps of the U.S. government?”

“Hundreds upon hundreds of Iraqis have been dying in Iraq every month since the U.S. invasion in 2003,” she said. “That recognition is criticial. Because we need to understand ISIS was born out of Iraq. ISIS was not born out of Syria. It was born from the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. It was that anger, that humiliation, that destruction of Iraq, that fueled the environment that led to ISIS.”

What these times demand, Masri declared, is the “liberation of the mainstream press from the corporate press…so that the media can return to its original objective, which is to inform, so we can become a more educated populace—not to entertain us and not to create more sensational journalism to empower our xenophobia.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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Predictable and Deplorable: US Lawmakers Vow to Slam Door on Refugees

As more than a dozen governors pledge to close state borders, advocates decry actions as cowardly and ‘un-American’

By Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-16-2015

Aylan Kurdi, whose image of his tiny 3-year-old body shocked the world when it washed up on the shores of the Aegean Sea in late August. He was a Syrian Refugee. Image via Facebook.

Aylan Kurdi, whose image of his tiny 3-year-old body shocked the world when it washed up on the shores of the Aegean Sea in late August. He was a Syrian Refugee. Image via Facebook.

UPDATE: As of this time, there are 25 states whose governors say they will refuse refugees.

In what appears to be a textbook case of xenophobia and political fearmongering in the wake of a tragedy, more than a dozen U.S. governors have declared their states off-limits to Syrian refugees in the days following Friday’s terror attacks in Paris.

The leaders of Wisconsin, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Arizona, Florida, Ohio, Maine, Mississippi, Louisiana, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Texas, and Arkansas on Monday all pledged to stop or oppose any additional Syrian refugees from resettling in their states, following announcements made by the governors of Alabama and Michigan on Sunday. Continue reading

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The demon of Death, a letter from Paris

The real goal of the attacks in France, as well as those in the Shia southern suburb of Beirut a few hours before this, is through fear, to spread division.

By Bernard Dreano. Published 11-14-2015 at openDemocracy

It was like spring in autumn. The weather had been turning warm, day after day, in this early November 2015 in Paris. One month later the town will host the UN Climate Conference COP21… Such unseasonable weather, the hottest November ever, must for sure have something to do with climate change.

It was an evening of football, with France vs. Germany at the Stade de France, in Saint Denis, north of Paris. Meanwhile the café’s terraces on the 11th arrondissement, the “swinging quarter” of the City, were packed with people enjoying the equable temperature. Nearby, 1500 people were gathering at the Bataclan, a well-known and popular music-hall, to attend the hard rock concert of the group Eagles of Death Metal. Continue reading

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Freedom Comes With Responsibility

Image via Internet.

Image via Internet.

When the Sony story broke regarding “The Interview,” we posted “The Greatest Security Risk” and received the following comment, which has stayed with us since:

I must be missing something here? What the hell are we doing making a movie, even if it’s a spoof, about assassinating the leader of another country? If the answer is, our right to free speech or our right to freedom of the press, I say hogwash. Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you SHOULD do it.
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