Paris students end Gaza war protests after street fight, New York campus activists vow to continue anti-war camp

Paris students end Gaza war protests after street fight, New York campus activists vow to continue anti-war camp
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Students take part in the occupation of a street in front of the building of the Sciences Po University in support of Palestinians in Gaza on April 26, 2024. (REUTERS)
Paris students end Gaza war protests after street fight, New York campus activists vow to continue anti-war camp
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Columbia University students participate in an ongoing pro-Palestinian encampment on their campus following last week's arrest of more than 100 protesters on April 26, 2024 in New York City. (Getty Images/AFP)
Paris students end Gaza war protests after street fight, New York campus activists vow to continue anti-war camp
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Police try to block students and faculty members from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Roosevelt College and Columbia College after they left their downtown campuses and marched to show support for the Palestinian people in Gaza on April 26, 2024 in Chicago, Illinois. (Getty Images/AFP)
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Updated 27 April 2024
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Paris students end Gaza war protests after street fight, New York campus activists vow to continue anti-war camp

Paris students end Gaza war protests after street fight, New York campus activists vow to continue anti-war camp
  • The Paris protesters called off their action in return for an “internal debate” about the Sciences Po’s ties to Israel
  • In New York, Columbia University students said they decided to fight on after reaching an impasse with administrators

PARIS/NEW YORK: Students at one of France’s most prestigious universities on Friday called off protests over the Gaza war after street scuffles between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli groups.

Administrators at the Institute of Political Studies, or Sciences Po, university in Paris acted to douse mounting tensions at the Paris establishment as demonstrations spread across American universities over the impact of the Gaza war.
Pro-Palestinian students have staged several days of sit-ins and protests at the 150-year-old university. Some blocked entrances to the university and tents were set up at the central courtyard for a protest camp.
Hundreds of students turned out Friday and police moved in when about 50 pro-Israeli demonstrators arrived shouting and scuffles started.
With exams scheduled to start soon, the university said the pro-Palestinian students had agreed to call off their action in return for an “internal debate” about the university’s ties to Israel.
University authorities also agreed to drop all disciplinary proceedings against demonstrators, said a note sent to students and faculty by Jean Basseres, Sciences Po’s administrator.
Science Po has a joint degree program with New York’s Columbia University and several French students are taking part in protests at one of the US institutions most radicalized by protests.




Pro-Israeli counter-protesters arrive at the Sciences Po University on April 26, 2024, to confront supporters of Gaza Palestinians amid fighting between Israel and Hamas militants.  (Reuters)

By Friday night, the Paris protests had eased and the street outside was calm, according to an AFP reporter on the scene.
Protest leaders, who had demanded a study of Science Po’s partnerships with universities or institutions that support the Israeli government, said they were happy with the promise of an internal debate.
France is home to the world’s largest Jewish population after Israel and the United States, as well as Europe’s biggest Muslim community.
The war in Gaza began with an attack by Palestinian militants Hamas on Israel on October 7 that resulted in the deaths of around 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.
In retaliation, Israel launched a military offensive that has killed at least 34,305 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

US campus unrest

In New York, Columbia University students who inspired pro-Palestinian demonstrations across the country said that they reached an impasse with administrators and intend to continue their encampment until their demands are met.
The announcement after two days of exhaustive negotiations came as Columbia’s president faced harsh criticism from faculty and puts more pressure on university officials to find a resolution ahead of graduation ceremonies next month — a problem that campuses from California to Massachusetts are facing.
As the death toll mounts in the war in Gaza and the humanitarian crisis worsens, protesters at universities across the country are demanding that schools cut financial ties to Israel and divest from companies they say are enabling the conflict. Some Jewish students say the protests have veered into antisemitism and made them afraid to set foot on campus.
Student negotiators representing the Columbia encampment said that after meetings Thursday and Friday, the university had not met their primary demand for divestment, although there was progress on a push for more transparent financial disclosures.
“We will not rest until Columbia divests,” said Jonathan Ben-Menachem, a fourth-year doctoral student.
Columbia officials had said earlier that talks were showing progress.
“We have our demands; they have theirs,” university spokesperson Ben Chang said, adding that if the talks fail, Columbia will have to consider other options.




Columbia University students participate in an ongoing pro-Palestinian encampment on their campus following last week's arrest of more than 100 protesters on April 26, 2024 in New York City. (Getty Images/AFP)

Meanwhile, Columbia’s president, Minouche Shafik, faced a significant — but largely symbolic — rebuke from faculty Friday but retained the support of trustees, who have the power to hire or fire the president.
A report by the university senate’s executive committee, which represents faculty, found Shafik and her administration took “many actions and decisions that have harmed Columbia University.” Those included calling in police and allowing students to be arrested without consulting faculty, failing to defend the institution in the face of external pressures, misrepresenting and suspending student protest groups and hiring private investigators.
“The faculty have completely lost confidence in President Shafik’s ability to lead this organization,” said Ege Yumusak, a philosophy lecturer who is part of a faculty team protecting the encampment.
Following the report, the senate passed a resolution that included a task force to monitor how the administration would make corrective changes going forward.
In response, Chang said in the evening that “we are committed to an ongoing dialogue and appreciate the Senate’s constructive engagement in finding a pathway forward.”
Also Friday, student protester Khymani James walked back comments made in an online video in January that recently received new attention. James said in the video that “Zionists don’t deserve to live” and people should be grateful James wasn’t killing them.
“What I said was wrong,” James said in a statement. “Every member of our community deserves to feel safe without qualification.”
Protest organizers said the comments didn’t reflect their values. They declined to describe James’ level of involvement with the demonstration.
Across the country at Arizona State University, protesters pitched tents, including some that police dismantled, and at least one person was handcuffed and taken away.
Police clashed with protesters Thursday at Indiana University, Bloomington, where 34 were arrested; Ohio State University, where about 36 were arrested; and at the University of Connecticut, were one person was arrested.
California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt, has been negotiating with students who have been barricaded inside a campus building since Monday, rebuffing an attempt by the police to clear them out. The campus was shut down at least through the weekend.
On the other end of the state, the University of Southern California canceled its May 10 graduation ceremony a day after more than 90 protesters were arrested on campus. The university said it will still host dozens of commencement events, including all the traditional individual school ceremonies.
Elsewhere in New York, about a dozen protesters spent the night in tents and sleeping bags inside a building at the Fashion Institute of Technology. The institute’s museum, which is in the building where the demonstrators set up camp, was closed Friday.




Activists and students demonstrate on the outskirts of an encampment protest at George Washington University on April 26, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images/AFP)

Protesters also stayed overnight at the encampment at George Washington University. Officials said in a statement that those who remained were trespassing on private property and disciplinary actions would be pursued against students involved in the unauthorized demonstrations.
At Emory University in Atlanta, video that circulated widely on social media showed two women who identified themselves as professors being detained, with one of them slammed to the ground by an officer as a second one pushed her chest and face onto a concrete sidewalk.
University President Gregory Fenves said via email that some videos of clashes were “shocking” and he was “horrified that members of our community had to experience and witness such interactions.”
Fenves blamed the campus unrest on “highly organized, outside protesters” who he said arrived in vans, put up tents and took over the quad. But in an earlier statement, school officials said that 20 of the 28 people arrested were members of the university community.
Since the Israel-Hamas war began, the US Education Department has launched civil rights investigations into dozens of universities and schools in response to complaints of antisemitism or Islamophobia. Among those under investigation are many colleges facing protests, including Harvard and Columbia.
 


US banks to begin reporting Russian assets for eventual forfeiture under new law

US banks to begin reporting Russian assets for eventual forfeiture under new law
Updated 58 min 55 sec ago
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US banks to begin reporting Russian assets for eventual forfeiture under new law

US banks to begin reporting Russian assets for eventual forfeiture under new law
  • If a bank discovers any new Russian assets on their books after the deadline, those assets need to be reported within 10 days, the Treasury Department said

NEW YORK: The Treasury Department ordered the nation’s banking industry to start disclosing its holdings of Russian assets on Tuesday, with the goal of eventually seizing those billions of dollars in assets and selling them to aid the devastated Ukrainian economy.
The disclosure is required under a new law passed by Congress earlier this year known as the REPO Act, which gives the US government the authority to seize Russian state assets held by US banks, with the goal of eventually selling them and giving those funds to Ukraine. While the vast bulk of Russian assets are held in Europe, it is estimated that the US banking system holds as much as $6 billion in Russian assets in trust.
Banks will need to report Russian assets on their books no later than Aug. 2 to the Office of Foreign Assets Control. If a bank discovers any new Russian assets on their books after the deadline, those assets need to be reported within 10 days, the Treasury Department said.
Russia’s war in Ukraine, which began in February 2022, has killed tens of thousands but has also caused significant devastation to Ukraine’s economy and infrastructure. The World Bank estimated in February that Ukraine will need $486 billion for recovery and reconstruction, a figure that has only risen as the war has continued.
The US, Canada, France, Germany Italy, the UK and Japan — commonly known as the G7 — froze roughly $300 billion worth of Russian assets at the start of the war. These assets included hard currency, as well as gold and investments in publicly and privately-held companies. But there has been little conversation until this year about what to do with those frozen assets, until the idea of forfeiture and liquidation was included in the REPO Act.


Demonstrators stage mass protest against Netanyahu visit and US military aid to Israel

Demonstrators stage mass protest against Netanyahu visit and US military aid to Israel
Updated 24 July 2024
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Demonstrators stage mass protest against Netanyahu visit and US military aid to Israel

Demonstrators stage mass protest against Netanyahu visit and US military aid to Israel
  • Netanyahu arrived in Washington Monday for a several-day visit that includes meetings with President Joe Biden and a Wednesday speech before a joint session of Congress

WASHINGTON: Protesters against the Gaza war staged a sit-in at a congressional office building Tuesday ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress, with Capitol Police making multiple arrests.
Netanyahu arrived in Washington Monday for a several-day visit that includes meetings with President Joe Biden and a Wednesday speech before a joint session of Congress. Dozens of protesters rallied outside his hotel Monday evening, and on Tuesday afternoon, hundreds of demonstrators took over the rotunda of the Cannon Building, which houses offices of House of Representatives members.
Organized by Jewish Voice for Peace, protesters wearing identical red T-shirts that read “Not In Our Name” took over the Rotunda of the Cannon Building, chanting “Let Gaza Live!”
After about a half-hour of clapping and chanting, officers from the US Capitol Police issued several warnings, then began arresting protesters — binding their hands with zip ties and leading them away one by one.
“I am the daughter of Holocaust survivors and I know what a Holocaust looks like,” said Jane Hirschmann, a native of Saugerties, New York, who drove down for the protest along with her two daughters — both of whom were arrested. “When we say ‘Never Again,’ we mean never for anybody.”
The demonstrators focused much of their ire on the Biden administration, demanding that the president immediately cease all arms shipments to Israel.
“We’re not focusing on Netanyahu. He’s just a symptom,” Hirschmann said. “But how can (Biden) be calling for a ceasefire when he’s sending them bombs and planes?”
It wasn’t immediately clear how many protesters had been arrested.
Mitchell Rivard, chief of staff for Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Michigan, said in a statement that his office called for Capitol Police intervention after the demonstrators “became disruptive, violently beating on the office doors, shouting loudly, and attempting to force entry into the office.”
Netanyahu’s American visit has touched off a wave of protest activity, with some demonstrations condemning Israel and others expressing support but pressuring Netanyahu to strike a ceasefire deal and bring home the hostages still being held by Hamas.
Families of some of the remaining hostages were planning a protest vigil Tuesday night on the National Mall. And multiple overlapping protests are planned for Wednesday, when Netanyahu is slated to address Congress. In anticipation, police have significantly boosted security around the Capitol building and closed multiple roads for the entire week.
Biden and Netanyahu are expected to meet Thursday, according to a US official who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the White House announcement. Vice President Kamala Harris will also meet with Netanyahu separately that day.
Harris, as Senate president, would normally sit behind foreign leaders addressing Congress, but she’ll be away Wednesday, on an Indianapolis trip scheduled before Biden withdrew his reelection bid and she became the likely Democratic presidential candidate over the weekend.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump announced on Truth Social that he would meet with Netanyahu on Friday.


Chad repatriates 157 nationals detained in Libya

Chad repatriates 157 nationals detained in Libya
Updated 24 July 2024
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Chad repatriates 157 nationals detained in Libya

Chad repatriates 157 nationals detained in Libya
  • Chad’s foreign ministry did not say why they had been arrested
  • It added that more repatriation flights would follow in the coming weeks

N’DJAMENA: Chad repatriated 157 of its citizens who had been detained in neighboring Libya on Tuesday, working in partnership with the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Libyan state, its foreign ministry said in a statement.

The Chadian nationals were flown back to the Sahel country on a special flight, the statement said.

It did not say why the Chadians had been arrested but added that more repatriation flights would follow in the coming weeks in order to “release and repatriate” all Chadians still detained in the North African country, and said that a “diaspora conference” would be organized in the coming days.

The repatriation flight comes a week after President Mahamat Idriss Deby attended an international forum on trans-Mediterranean migration in Libya.

Deby, who seized power after rebels killed his father in 2021, was sworn in as president in May following a controversial election. 


Macron says Israeli athletes ‘welcome’ for Paris Olympics

Macron says Israeli athletes ‘welcome’ for Paris Olympics
Updated 24 July 2024
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Macron says Israeli athletes ‘welcome’ for Paris Olympics

Macron says Israeli athletes ‘welcome’ for Paris Olympics

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday that Israeli athletes were “welcome” for the Paris Olympics, rejecting calls from some left-wing French MPs and the Palestinian Olympic Committee for a boycott.

“Israeli athletes are welcome in our country. They must be able to compete under their colors because the Olympic movement has decided it,” he told France 2 television in an interview, adding that it was “France’s responsibility to provide them with security.”

“I condemn in the strongest possible way all those who create risks for these athletes and implicitly threaten them,” he said.

He added that Israel had “the right to defend itself” but called the continuing bombardment of Gaza — where 39,090 people have died, according to the latest estimate from the Hamas-run health ministry — “unacceptable.”

“France was one of the first countries in Europe to call for a ceasefire,” he added.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog has confirmed he will attend the Olympics opening ceremony on Friday, and Macron said Prime Minister Israeli Benjamin Netanyahu would also be “welcome” but was not expected because he is in the United States.

Discussing the opening ceremony for the Paris Games as helicopters could be heard in the background hovering over the capital, Macron said that “we will all see on Friday night why it was worth the hassle.”

Much of central Paris is off-limits ahead of the ceremony along the river Seine, with 45,000 members of the security forces set to be on duty as well as 10,000 soldiers to prevent any incident that would ruin the show.

“There is a security challenge and it’s true for all capitals which organize the Games,” Macron said. “It’s true for the opening ceremony. It will be true for the whole of the Games.”

“We need to come together as France that is welcoming the world,” added the centrist, who called snap elections in June that have led to political deadlock in parliament.

Asked about the artists set to perform on Friday evening, he said it would be “fantastic news” if Quebec-born singer Celine Dion could take part, but he declined to confirm her presence.

Dion has been spotted in Paris, while video of Lady Gaga in the City of Light has also fueled rumors that she might be one of the top international performers.


Macron rejects left-wing alliance’s effort to name a prime minister

Macron rejects left-wing alliance’s effort to name a prime minister
Updated 23 July 2024
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Macron rejects left-wing alliance’s effort to name a prime minister

Macron rejects left-wing alliance’s effort to name a prime minister
  • France’s leftist New Popular Front coalition, which won the largest number of seats in parliament in elections this month proposed financial crime specialist Lucie Castets
  • When asked about Castets, who is unknown to the public, Macron told France 2: “The issue is: Which majority can emerge at the (National) Assembly?“

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday his outgoing government will remain in place until mid-August while France hosts the Olympic Games, dismissing an effort by a left-wing alliance to name a prime minister.
France’s leftist New Popular Front coalition, which won the largest number of seats in parliament in elections this month proposed financial crime specialist Lucie Castets as its candidate for prime minister only an hour before Macron spoke in a TV interview.
But when asked about Castets, who is unknown to the public, Macron told France 2: “This is not the issue. The name is not the issue. The issue is: Which majority can emerge at the (National) Assembly?“
“Until mid-August, we’re in no position to change things, because it would create disorder,” Macron added.
The Olympic Games in Paris, which run from Friday to Aug. 11, are a major logistics and security challenge for France, with 35 venues and an estimated 10,500 athletes.
France has been in a state of parliamentary deadlock since the election. No party won an outright majority of seats in the lower house of parliament, which is instead fragmented broadly into three blocs.
The leftist coalition has sought to propose a new prime minister to succeed outgoing Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, but has ruled out striking deals with other political forces and does not have enough seats to form a majority government.
According to the French constitution, it is up to the president to name a prime minister, so the leftist coalition has no way to force Macron’s hand. Instead, the president urged political parties to work on forming a broader coalition.
Castets is a director of finance and purchasing at Paris city hall. She graduated from France’s elite Ecole Nationale d’Administration school for civil servants in 2013, but she has no background in party politics.
The four parties in the leftist NPF — the hard-left France Unbowed, the Socialists, the Greens and the Communists — have been arguing for weeks over who to propose as prime minister.
The outgoing government acts as caretaker, running day-to-day matters without being able to pass new legislation.