Yellow vest protests hit with police water cannon, tear gas in Paris

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The movement, which began as protests over high fuel taxes, has snowballed into a wholesale rejection of French President Emmanuel Macron and his policies. (AFP)
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French riot police clears the streets of yellow vest protestors in Bourges, central France, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019. (AP)
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Protesters face gendarmes and BAC police officers during an anti-government demonstration called by the Yellow Vests "Gilets Jaunes" movement, in Nantes, western France, on January 12, 2019. (AFP)
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BAC police officers stand in a group during an anti-government demonstration called by the Yellow Vests "Gilets Jaunes" movement, in Nantes, western France, on January 12, 2019. (AFP)
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Protesters wearing Yellow Vests (Gilets Jaunes) and waving Brittany flags march during an anti-government demonstration called by the Yellow Vest movement in Saint-Brieuc, western France, on January 12, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 12 January 2019
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Yellow vest protests hit with police water cannon, tear gas in Paris

  • Officials have vowed zero tolerance for the violence that has marred the weekly protests since they began two months ago
  • The movement, which began as protests over high fuel taxes, has snowballed into a wholesale rejection of Emmanuel Macron and his policies

PARIS: Paris police fired water cannon and tear gas to push back "yellow vest" demonstrators from around the Arc de Triomphe monument on Saturday, in the ninth straight weekend of protests against French President Emmanuel Macron's economic reforms.
Thousands of protesters in Paris marched noisily but mostly peacefully through the Grands Boulevards shopping area in northern Paris, close to where a massive gas explosion in a bakery killed two firefighters and a Spanish tourist and injured nearly 50 people early on Saturday.
But small groups of demonstrators broke away from the designated route and threw bottles and other projectiles at the police.
Around the 19th-century Arc de Triomphe at the top of the Champs Elysees boulevard, riot police fired water cannon and tear gas at militant yellow-vest protesters after being pelted with stones and paint, witnesses said.
Groups of protesters also gathered on and around the Champs Elysees, the scene of disturbances in recent weeks, many of them calling loudly for Macron to resign.
"Macron, we are going to tear down your place!" one banner read.
The Interior Ministry said it estimated that there were 32,000 demonstrators nationwide on Saturday, including 8,000 in Paris, below the 50,000 counted last week and well below the record 282,000 nationwide on Nov. 17, the first day of yellow vest protests.
But the number of demonstrators in Paris was well above the past two weekends, when authorities counted just 3,500 people on Jan. 5 and only 800 on Dec. 29.
Much of central Paris was in lockdown on the first week of post-Christmas sales with bridges across the Seine river closed and official buildings such as parliament and the Elysee presidential palace protected by police barriers.
In Paris, 121 "gilets jaunes" (yellow vest) were arrested, some for carrying objects that could be used as weapons, police said. By nightfall, there had been no looting or burning of cars as seen in previous weeks.
There were also thousands of marchers in the cities of Bordeaux and Toulon in southern France as well as Strasbourg in the east and the central city of Bourges.
Bourges authorities said nearly 5,000 yellow vests stuck to the designated demonstration area. The historical city centre was off-limits for demonstrators, but some 500 protesters made their way to the centre where they scuffled with police and set garbage bins on fire.
Many businesses in Bourges had boarded themselves up to avoid damage and authorities had removed street furniture and building site materials that could be used for barricades.
In Strasbourg, up to 2,000 demonstrators gathered in front of the European Parliament building and later marched to the centre of the city on the Rhine river border with Germany. No serious violence or looting was reported there.
More than 80,000 police were on duty for the protests nationwide, including 5,000 in Paris.
The "yellow vests" take their name from the high-visibility jackets they wear. Their rage stems from a squeeze on household incomes and a belief that Macron, a former investment banker seen as close to big business, is indifferent to their hardships.
Macron, often criticised for a monarchical manner, is to launch a national debate on Jan. 15 to try to mollify the yellow vest protest, which has shaken his administration.
The debate, to be held on the internet and in town halls, will focus on four themes - taxes, green energy, institutional reform and citizenship. But aides to Macron have said changing the course of Macron's reforms aimed at liberalising the economy will be off limits.


Trump: No amnesty for US ‘Dreamers,’ signals support in broader deal

Updated 5 min 28 sec ago
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Trump: No amnesty for US ‘Dreamers,’ signals support in broader deal

  • In a morning Twitter storm, Trump also said he would not seek the removal of millions of illegal immigrants living in the US
  • ‘Amnesty will be used only on a much bigger deal, whether on immigration or something else’
WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump said on Sunday his proposed immigration deal to end a 30-day partial government shutdown would not lead to amnesty for “Dreamers,” but he appeared to signal support for amnesty as part of a broader immigration agreement.
In a morning Twitter storm, Trump also said he would not seek the removal of millions of illegal immigrants living in the US, while bashing House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her fellow Democrats for turning down an offer he made on Saturday, including for Dreamers, the immigrants brought to the US illegally as children.
“No, Amnesty is not a part of my offer. It is a 3-year extension of DACA. Amnesty will be used only on a much bigger deal, whether on immigration or something else,” Trump said on Twitter.
“Likewise there will be no big push to remove the 11,000,000 plus people who are here illegally-but be careful Nancy!”
The Dreamers are protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
DACA was put in place under former President Barack Obama. The Trump administration said in September 2017 it would rescind DACA, but it remains in effect under court order.
Trump did not make clear what he was referring to regarding the 11 million people mentioned in his tweet. About 12 million people are living in the US illegally, according to US Department of Homeland Security estimates.
In a Saturday speech from the White House, Trump offered three years of protections for Dreamers and for holders of temporary protected status (TPS), another class of immigrants from designated countries affected by armed conflict, natural disaster or other strife.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell welcomed the plan as a “bold solution,” while a spokesman said McConnell would seek Senate passage of the proposal this week.
The legislation will include bills to fund government departments that have been closed during the shutdown, as well as some disaster aid and the president’s immigration proposal, a McConnell aide said. The plan will contain $12.7 billion in disaster aid, said another Senate source who asked not to be named.
But Trump’s amnesty tweet caught some Republicans off guard.
“I don’t know what the president’s calling amnesty,” Senator James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican, told ABC’s “This Week” program. “That’s a longer debate and obviously not something we can solve quickly.”
Trump appeared to be responding to conservative critics who accused him of proposing amnesty and reneging on a campaign promise, which could alienate his right-wing base.
About one-quarter of the US government shut down on Dec. 22 over Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion to fund a wall along the border with Mexico, which Democrats have refused to consider. Some 800,000 federal workers have been ordered to stay home or work without pay during the shutdown.
The promise of a border wall was a mainstay of Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign. As a candidate, he said Mexico would pay for the barrier, but the Mexican government has refused.
The shutdown has caused widespread disruptions.
The Transportation Security Administration on Sunday reported an 8 percent national rate of unscheduled absences on Saturday, compared with 3 percent a year ago. More than 50,000 TSA officers are working without pay.
Some airports experienced longer wait times at security checkpoints, and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport closed one of its checkpoints because of excessive absences.
On Sunday, a day after Trump’s DACA proposal, there appeared to be signs of movement, even as Democrats insisted the government should reopen before proceeding with talks over border security.
“What the president proposed yesterday — increasing border security, looking at TPS, looking at the Dreamers — I’ll use that as a starting point. But you’ve got to start by reopening the government,” US Senator Mark Warner said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Warner, a Virginia Democrat, also said Congress should approve pay for federal workers affected by the shutdown before they miss another paycheck this week.
Bennie Thompson, the Democratic chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, said Democrats were not opposed to physical barriers on the southern border but that Trump’s changing position posed a problem for resolving the border security issue.
“I would not rule out a wall in certain instances,” Thompson said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.