Paris New Year’s Eve bash is on despite ‘yellow vest’ protests

A protester wearing a yellow vest waves a French flag during a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement on the Champs Elysees near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, December 15, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 27 December 2018
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Paris New Year’s Eve bash is on despite ‘yellow vest’ protests

  • Tens of thousands of tourists and locals traditionally ring in the new year on the wide shopping boulevard
  • While the numbers turning out at protests across the country have dwindled dramatically, some “yellow vests” have called online for a New Year’s Eve protest

PARIS: New Year’s Eve celebrations on the Champs-Elysees in Paris will go ahead despite plans for another “yellow vest” anti-government protest on the famed avenue, city officials said on Thursday.
Tens of thousands of tourists and locals traditionally ring in the new year on the wide shopping boulevard, which ends with the Arc de Triomphe monument.
The Champs-Elysees has since last month been the epicenter of repeated violent protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s government, with the Arc de Triomphe ransacked on December 1.
While the numbers turning out at protests across the country have dwindled dramatically, some “yellow vests” have called online for a New Year’s Eve protest on the Champs-Elysees.
On Facebook 7,400 people are listed as planning to attend what it calls a “festive and non-violent event.”
Paris officials said they would continue as planned with preparations for a fireworks display and sound and light show on the Champs-Elysees under the theme “fraternity.”
The avenue is a regular gathering point for national celebrations such as Bastille Day, the Tour de France and France’s victory this summer in the football World Cup.
But on recent Saturdays it has been the scene of violent clashes between riot police and “yellow vest” protesters who accuse Macron of favoring the rich with his policies.
The movement sprang up online in October and spiralled into the worst crisis of Macron’s presidency, with tens of thousands blocking roads and protesting across France.
Macron sought to defuse the crisis in mid-December by announcing a 10 billion euro ($11.4 billion) package of measures to help pensioners and low-paid workers.
Since then the “yellow vests” have been split between moderates willing to engage in dialogue with the government and others intent on remaining at the barricades.


New Zealand orders top-level inquiry into mosque massacres

Updated 25 March 2019
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New Zealand orders top-level inquiry into mosque massacres

  • "One question we need to answer is whether or not we could or should have known more," Ardern said
  • Ardern ruled out New Zealand re-introducing the death penalty for accused gunman Brenton Tarrant

WELLINGTON: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday ordered an independent judicial inquiry into whether police and intelligence services could have prevented the Christchurch mosque attacks on March 15.
Ardern said a royal commission -- the most powerful judicial probe available under New Zealand law -- was needed to find out how a single gunman was able to kill 50 people in an attack that shocked the world.
"It is important that no stone is left unturned to get to how this act of terrorism occurred and how we could have stopped it," she told reporters.
New Zealand's spy agencies have faced criticism in the wake of the attack for concentrating on the threat from Islamic extremism.
Instead, the victims were all Muslims and the massacre was allegedly carried out by a white supremacist fixated on the belief that there was an Islamist plot to "invade" Western countries.
"One question we need to answer is whether or not we could or should have known more," Ardern said.
"New Zealand is not a surveillance state ... but questions need to be answered."
Ardern ruled out New Zealand re-introducing the death penalty for accused gunman Brenton Tarrant, 28, who was arrested minutes after the attack on the mosques and has been charged with murder.
She said details of the royal commission were being finalised, but it would be comprehensive and would report in a timely manner.
It will cover the activities of intelligence services, police, customs, immigration and any other relevant government agencies in the lead-up to the attack.
The gunman livestreamed the attack online, although New Zealand has outlawed the footage as "objectionable content".
Ardern reiterated her believe it should not be aired.
"That video should not be shared. That is harmful content," she said when questioned about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan showing excerpts of the footage at campaign rallies for local elections this month.
Erdogan had angered both Wellington and Canberra with campaign rhetoric about anti-Muslim Australians and New Zealanders being sent back in "coffins" like their grandfathers at Gallipoli, a World War I battle.
New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters travelled to Istanbul to meet Erdogan and address an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
Peters said OIC members were full of praise for the support New Zealand had offered its small, tight-knit Muslim community in the wake of the killings.
"A number of them were weeping and sobbing at the demonstration (of support) by non-Muslim New Zealand towards the Muslim victims," he told reporters.
"It was dramatic and I was told by countless ministers that they've never seen anything of that type."
The body of an Indian student killed in the Christchurch mosque attacks, meanwhile, was returned Monday to her grieving family in Kochi, where relatives remembered a bright young woman dedicated to her studies.
Ansi Alibava, 25, was the first of at least five Indians shot dead on March 15 to be repatriated.
The family planned to hold a funeral ceremony for the masters student in their nearby hometown of Kodungallur.