Macron jealous of prime minister, sacks him


This 3 July 2020 video says about itself:

France: Jean Castex named new prime minister after Philippe resigns

Jean Castex was appointed as the new French Prime Minister in Paris on Friday. Earlier today, Edouard Philippe handed in his resignation.

Footage shows the official residence of the Prime Minister of France Hotel Matignon.

A cabinet reshuffle has was widely expected after French President Emmanuel Macron promised to chart a “new path” for the last remaining two years of his term. Macron’s party En Marche had experienced a major setback in the municipal elections last Sunday.

Mr Castex was a right-hand man of disgraced right-wing ex-President Sarkozy. In the Macron administration, his job was recently ‘reopening the economy‘ in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic in France.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

French Prime Minister Philippe and his cabinet have stepped down. This was announced by the Elysée, President Macron‘s palace. The president had already said he wanted to reshuffle the cabinet. Macron’s party, La République en Marche (LREM), suffered a large loss in the municipal elections on Sunday.

In recent months, Édouard Philippe had become prefered to Macron for many French people.

French ballet dancers against Macron’s austerity


This 25 December 2019 video says about itself:

Ballet Dancers Protest French Pension Reform

On the steps of the Opéra Garnier in Paris, dancers perform a piece from Swan Lake to protest against the French government’s pension reform.

The ongoing mass transit and public sector strike which is paralyzing much of transport in France to protest Macron’s pension cuts entered its fourth week today. Strikers continue to march and protest against the pension cuts, knowing that they have a broad majority of the population behind them: here.

Germany: Daimler workers support the strike wave in France: here.

French strikes enter 23rd day, beating 1995 record: here.

French workers keep fighting against Macron austerity


This 5 December 2018 video says about itself:

A nationwide strike brought much of France to a halt on Thursday as unions kicked off a massive protest against a pension overhaul by President Emmanuel Macron, which they say will force millions of people to work longer or face curtailed benefits.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain today:

French pensions strike enters second day as unions call for mass protests on Tuesday

SCHOOLS, transport and tourist attractions around France remained closed in many areas today as a mammoth public- and private-sector strike against attacks on pensions continued.

Following Thursday’s action, in which most public services were paralysed as over 800,000 workers marched against President Emmanuel Macron’s bid to restructure pensions, trade unions called for a second day of action to be held next Tuesday.

In certain services, such as the Paris Metro, the strike has been extended to Monday.

Trade union leaders say the action is open-ended and that they will not rest until the government backs down on plans it has not yet agreed to publish, but which unions say will mean a longer working life for most and a smaller pension.

Left-wing union federation CGT’s confederate secretary Catherine Perret said: “Everyone on the streets on December 10 for a new day of strikes, actions and protests. Workers have made their point — it is a question of [the government] withdrawing the reform project and opening negotiations.”

Though Mr Macron has stayed aloof — getting aides to brief the press that he is “calm and determined” — ministers, including those for health and education, have met trade union leaders for talks having been spooked by the scale of the action, which polls show is backed by around 60 per cent of the French public.

Sud-Rail trade union leader Christian Mahieux said that “because we do a socially useful job, when this work suddenly stops it is a real inconvenience” but praised the “strong support and understanding” striking rail workers had received from the public.

He said trade unions were determined to repeat the victories they won against neoliberal government attacks by three weeks of strike action in 1995 and by the two months of social unrest in 1986-7.

Commuter Eric Dao said the strike made him late for work but “it is justified because it is necessary to find better social solutions.”

At Paris’s Balzac school, where teachers struck for a second day, they released a joint statement saying the action “concerns all employees in the public and private sector and, later, our students.

“Pensions should be a definitive sign of respect for accomplishing years of work, which are often laborious and annoying,” they stated.

This 5 December 2019 French video is on the strikers’ demonstrations.

By Anthony Torres and Alex Lantier in France, 6 December 2019:

1.5 million march amid mass strike in France against austerity and inequality

6 December 2019

In the largest such industrial action to hit France in decades, tens of thousands of rail, government and education workers walked out on strike, as 1.5 million people marched or struck yesterday against plans by French President Emanuel Macron to slash pensions.

The strike is part of a broad international resurgence of class struggle against social inequality and military-police repression.

Striking workers in France are joining mass protest movements in Iraq, Lebanon, Chile, Colombia, Hong Kong, Algeria, and strikes among US auto workers and teachers, as well as British rail workers. Yesterday in France, workers at the National Railways (SNCF), teachers, and workers in Paris mass transit, hospitals, airports, energy, ports, as well as students and lawyers marched together.

The strike demonstrated the enormous social power of the working class mobilized in struggle. Rail traffic was stopped across France, with just one in 10 high-speed trains (TGV) and 3 to 5 percent of Express Regional Trains running. According to SNCF management, 85.7 percent of train drivers and 73.3 percent of train controllers declared they were going on strike.

In Paris, mass transit also virtually stopped. The Independent Paris Transport Authority (RATP) announced 11 of 16 metro lines were shut, and only limited service available on the others.

Strikers blockaded fuel depots, and workers at 7 of France’s 8 oil refineries were on strike, threatening in the longer term to cause fuel shortages across the country.

According to statistics presented by the junior minister for the public service, Olivier Dussopt, 32.5 percent of government workers (including education, post office, and former France Telecom workers) joined the strike. Among schoolteachers, 51.15 percent of primary school teachers and 42.32 percent of secondary school teachers also went on strike. Many children stayed home, or had to be taken to emergency service centers run by city authorities.

Several major French airports were seriously impacted by the strike—including both major Paris airports, Nice, Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse and Bordeaux—due to strikes by multiple categories of workers, including air traffic controllers in the south.

The strike will continue in multiple industries during the coming days. Union sources said rail traffic would be badly affected until Monday, and airlines said they would cut 20 percent of their flights on Friday. Many teachers are expected to be on strike today. One truckers’ association, lOTRE, had announced last night that it would carry out 15 blockades today to protest against the Macron government’s tax hikes on fuel.

Strikers marched in the hundreds of thousands in gatherings organized across France. The unions announced 250,000 protesters in Paris, 150,000 in Marseille, 100,000 in Toulouse, 40,000 in Lille, and tens of thousands in Montpellier, Bordeaux, and Nantes, as well as 285,000 altogether in approximately 40 other cities. In several cities, authorities refused to provide to the press any figure whatsoever on the number of marchers. …

Well-known “yellow vest” protesters, including Éric Drouet, Priscilla Ludosky and Maxime Nicolle, had called on their supporters to join the protests.

Clashes broke out between security forces and protesters in several cities, including Lyon, Nantes, Rennes and Paris, where the security forces prevented large parts of the march from moving, then attacked them, first on Republic and then on Nation Square.

The Macron government had organized a massive police deployment—comparable to those for the largest “yellow vest” protests last December—but which was absolutely unprecedented for a social protest organized by the trade unions.

L’Express magazine reported that “overall, 108 security intervention units will be deployed across France: 60.5 mobile military police and 47.5 riot police. They will be overwhelmingly assigned, apart from the Paris area, to the south, southeast, and the north, leaving the north, the west and the southwest somewhat understaffed. 180 motorized teams of the BRAV (Brigades for the repression of Violent Action) will be deployed. In terms of technical means, six water cannon will be prepared for action, and three drones will overfly Paris.”

An anonymous high-ranking security official said he was “very worried” about the Paris protest and claimed that “we are in a pre-insurrectionary situation.”

In Paris, the security forces mobilized armored cars, water canon as well as soldiers and riot police armed with assault rifles to barricade the Elysée presidential palace and other state venues. Between 6,000 and 8,500 riot police were mobilized. At 8pm there had been 90 arrests, including 71 preventive detentions, in addition to 11,490 who had been preventively detained and searched.

The December 5 strike is the product of a new stage in the class struggle, with the radicalization of growing layers of the international working class. The call for the strike went from the SNCF, … after two major wildcat strikes shook the railways in the autumn, against SNCF privatization as well as wage cuts and the introduction of two-tier work. Once the call was launched, however, ever broader sections of workers tried to take the opportunity to join in a legally-approved strike.

This mobilization reflects broad, growing opposition to European Union (EU) policies—the public-sector wage freeze and drastic attack on pensions and other social rights. Macron is eliminating multiple special pension funds and moving towards retirement based on “points,” with no pre-set monetary value. The state has rejected aspirations for more social equality and better living conditions for workers with contempt, instead planning deep cuts to pensions, health care and other key programs.

There is widespread opposition among workers to the capitalist social order …

More broadly, none of the problems driving yesterday’s strike had a national character; all of them—low wages and social austerity, the exploitation of workers in understaffed workplaces, social inequality, military-police repression of any opposition to the diktat of the banks—are international problems that have mobilized tens or even hundreds of millions of workers internationally this year. Resolving these problems requires the expropriation of the billionaire financial aristocracy that dominates economic life through the international financial markets.

France to expect more strikes after PM’s ‘mockery’ announcement: here.

Big anti-President Macron strike in France


This 5 December 2019 Euronews TV video says about itself:

Mass strikes and protests in France over pension reform | LIVE

Unions call for a national strike across the public and private sectors against French President Emmanuel Macron‘s proposed reform of the country’s pension system.

From daily News Line in Britain, 6 December 2019:

FRANCE is paralysed by a nationwide general strike by transport workers, teachers and other trade unions, supported by the mass of the working population.

This is a showdown between the whole of the working class and President Emmanuel Macron, backed by the ruling class and its armies of riot policemen.

Macron’s planned pension ‘reforms’ force workers to work longer for a smaller pension.

Yesterday, the main cities were at a standstill. …

The strike is open-ended and could last a number of days or weeks. It has drawn comparisons with the struggle between government and unions in November-December 1995, when the country was paralysed for three weeks.

The strikes will be a major test of whether Macron, who came to power on the back of a promise to transform France and wants to be a new Napoleon, has the political strength to push through his pensions plan, and fight the issue out with the working class, using hundreds of thousands of riot police and even the army for that purpose.

This 5 December 2019 video says about itself:

Several thousand people wait outside the “Gare de l’Est” train station in Paris before a march through the French capital to protest against a pension overhaul by President Emmanuel Macron. Unions say the planned reforms will force millions of people to work longer or face curtailed benefits.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Thursday, December 5, 2019

France paralysed by mass strikes against Macron‘s pension raid

FRANCE was shut down by strikes across the public and private sectors today as workers took action against President Emmanuel Macron’s attacks on pensions and the retirement age.

The Eiffel Tower was closed, trains did not run and aircraft were grounded as rallies took place in all the country’s major cities.

Schools and businesses did not function and the presidential palace was barricaded shut, with an extra 6,000 police deployed to the streets of Paris and 65 people arrested before the main Paris demo even began.

Marchers wore yellow vests in solidarity with the huge gilets jaunes movement against neoliberalism or red ones symbolising their trade union membership.

Health workers, students and environmental campaigners joined demonstrations to decry the “social crisis” provoked by Mr Macron’s neoliberal regime, which has attacked workers’ rights and launched a wave of privatisations.

Supportive unions included the CGT, Force Ouvriere, Solidaires, civil servants’ union the FSU and many more. Unions say the action is open-ended and they hope to force government concessions within a week. The Paris Metro strike will last at least until Monday, organisers said.

The movement has also received backing from most political parties, including the Socialists, Communists and Jean-Luc Melenchon’s France Unbowed on the left …

The conservative Republicans said they did not approve of the action, but were also opposed to Mr Macron’s pension raid.

A guide to the action by France Unbowed said Mr Macron was determined to lower the value of pensions and make men and women work longer.

“Why work longer when by retirement age one in two people is no longer employed anyway and an employee produces on average three times more than in 1970?” it asked. “Progress is not about working more and more.”

France Unbowed’s Adrien Quatennens said that “under the alibi of universality, the government is picking everyone’s pockets.” Party leader Mr Melenchon, who marched with strikers in Marseille, has warned that the government’s bid to standardise pension arrangements undermines collective bargaining agreements and pays no attention to specific circumstances in different lines of work.

Communist leader Fabien Roussel said the plans “attack the principle of solidarity that is the basis of French social protection,” being based on changes to pension calculations that “individualise” pension pots and which Mr Macron says will “encourage some people to work longer”.

Security guard Joseph Kakou had to walk an hour to get home because of the lack of transport, but he told reporters: “It doesn’t please us to walk. It doesn’t please us to strike. But we have to. We can’t work until we are 90 years old.”

This 5 December 2019 Deutsche Welle TV video says about itself:

Much of France has ground to a halt as the country experiences its biggest strike in decades over proposed pension reforms. Many people are taking to the streets and there’s severe disruption to rail lines, schools and hospitals. President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to overhaul the retirement system would force workers to retire later or see their pensions reduced. Union leaders say they will continue the strike until Monday.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio, 5 December 2019:

The national action day was intended as a protest against President Macron’s plans to reform the pension system, but ended in an expression of general anger.

“What is striking is the fighting spirit of many demonstrators,” says correspondent Frank Renout in the radio program Nieuws & Co. “They have had enough of President Macron and think he is breaking down the social system.”

In Nanterre, a small town north-west of Paris, the correspondent noticed that people are willing to continue protests for a long time. “Eg, teachers, they say that the schools should stay closed if necessary.” …

The broad dissatisfaction can be seen in the diversity of action groups. In addition to union members, environmental activists from Extinction Rebellion also took to the streets …

Yellow vests also joined the protests. That movement organized massive protests last year; the group was eventually taken seriously by President Macron. An increase in the minimum wage was announced …

That there are now again large-scale demonstrations is, therefore, a setback for Macron. “The Elysée hasn’t responded yet, but you can imagine that Macron is following the protest with suspicion,” said Renout.

The current demonstrations are partly inspired by the gilets jaunes. “The protesters hope they can repeat the result of the yellow vests and hope that Macron will retreat again after new protests.”

A demonstrator from Nanterre, who spoke to Renout today, has little faith in that. “Macron is a puppet. Large capitalist corporations are pulling the strings. And if they will have had enough of him, then they will be looking for a new one.”

French Macron austerity drives students to suicide


This November 2019 video says about itself:

Over a thousand students took part in a demonstration in Lyon on Tuesday to remember a classmate who set himself on fire on November 8 over his dire financial situation.

“[His suicide attempt] serves a purpose, to put student precariousness and political fights in the news. But it’s terrifying that this could be the only way to get that,” remarked one of his friends.

The rally was organised close to where the Lyon University student performed his self-immolation after struggling to survive on the monthly stipend of €450 ($495). The 22 year old is now fighting for his life in hospital with burns to the body of 90 per cent.

The individual in question has not been officially identified but the student union who organised the rally said he posted a message on Facebook explaining that financial difficulties had become too much. In the message he accused French politicians as well as the European Union for creating the situation.

The demonstrators marched towards the rectorate and university of Lyon II’s campus where they staged a sit in and chanted that they would neither forgive, nor forget that authorities let the situation deteriorate so badly.

The university authorities said they would set up a psychological support unit due to the incident, while the president claimed the institution was not aware of his “personal struggle”, despite being “very involved” with the student body.

By Francis Dubois in France:

After student sets himself on fire, French youth protest: “Precariousness kills”

30 November 2019

Following the self-immolation of Anas K., a student from the city of Lyon, demonstrations organised by student unions mobilized thousands of students across all of France last Wednesday, including in Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Grenoble and Rennes.

This 26 November 2019 video is called French students begin nationwide protest over high living costs.

Anas K., 22, is studying political science at the University of Lyon. His self-immolation on November 8 triggered protests throughout the country. His desperate action and his scathing denunciation of the Macron government and of capitalism reverberated powerfully among tens of thousands of students who face the same conditions. Anas K., with burns to 90 percent of his body, is still in hospital in a grave but stable state.

Another suicide attempt, this time by a senior high school student aged 18, who tried to burn herself to death on Monday in a suburban Paris high school, is an indication of the immense social distress that students in France are suffering.

This 25 November 2019 French video is called, translated: A high school girl has attempted suicide by setting herself on fire in Seine-Saint-Denis region.

In his letter, Anas described the poverty-stricken conditions that students are enduring: “This year, doing the second year of my degree for a third time, I had no government assistance. And even when I did, is 450 euros per month enough to survive?”

He then directly denounced the government: “I condemn the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, and by extension the entire government. Let us fight this rising tide of fascism which does nothing but divide us and create liberalism, which creates inequality. I accuse Macron, Hollande, Sarkozy and the EU of killing me.”

Anas was living under conditions of very severe economic insecurity, according to his friends. During the first year of his degree, he was living with his parents in St. Etienne and was making the daily trip to Lyon (approximately 55 km away). Having obtained university accommodation last year, he lost it this year along with his bursary, and accommodation subsidy. It was cancelled by CROUS because he had to re-take some classes. (CROUS is the government body under the Ministry for Higher Education and Research responsible for providing public assistance to students). He was also refused any emergency assistance.

Even with his bursary, Anas was having difficulty in paying his bills. “Furthermore, his accommodation was unhealthy and substandard. It was infested with bed fleas and cockroaches,” according to a female friend. Since then, he has been living partly with his parents and partly with his girlfriend, who describes him as “proud of his home town’s popular working-class traditions.”

Anas’ act was followed by dozens of student meetings and demonstrations in university towns as well as barricades being set up at numerous universities.

In Lyon, more than a thousand students demonstrated and set up barriers to prevent lectures taking place in several faculties at the University of Lyon, while surrounding Anas’ girlfriend Laetitia. In Lille, students prevented a conference by former French President Francois Hollande (Parti Socialiste) on the “crisis of democracy” from taking place, with cries of “Hollande: murderer!”

It was Hollande who was responsible for setting up the structure of a police state in France, for imposing a state of emergency, under which fundamental democratic rights were abrogated, and for resuscitating the politics of Vichy. The Lille students also organized “free meal operations” in which they blockaded the cash registers of the university cafeteria. Several marches left different Paris universities.

At Tolbiac, students shared with WSWS reporters their emotion and their anger at the role of the public authorities. Marius stated that he was able to “understand if living as a student in precarious and sometimes very complicated situations led some to go that far. Such things could be stopped earlier with a little more assistance, not only financial, just psychological support for example.”

Aissata added: “I think that the government and the heads of institutions are not close enough to the students, and I think that is why they burnt themselves.” She added, “at uni, the standard is more demanding than at high school. The university lecturers mark harshly and students must really work hard … If I attend class, I go home, and I must do more study there in order to get the best marks, it’s really difficult.”

The mobilisation of students in France against the relentless conditions of financial precariousness imposed by the financial aristocracy and its political representatives is part of the rapid radicalisation of students and youth worldwide, their rebellion against social inequality and impoverishment.

The youth have been at the forefront of the recent mass popular movements, facing bloody police repression in Iraq, Hong Kong, Chile, Algeria and many other countries. They … are rebelling against the social attacks, against the deeply unjust manner in which social resources are distributed. They are rejecting the divisions of race, religion and gender that governments such as that of Macron use to divide them.

Terrified by the perspective of a unified movement of students and the working class against Macron, various figures in the Macron government are making despicable attempts to deny the political character of Anas K.’s act. Gabriel Attal, Secretary of State to the minister of National Education and Youth, declared viciously before the National Assembly: “It is never a political act to put an end to one’s life.” He received an ovation from the government party deputies.

Anas K.’s horrible and tragic action does not offer a perspective for millions of youth and workers now mobilizing in struggle against the Macron government. However, it is evident that his gesture is a condemnation of the policies imposed by successive governments on the youth in France.

The conditions of life and study for students from less well-off sections of society have been deteriorating for years, and the degradation has accelerated since the arrival of Macron. One in every five students today lives on the brink of poverty. One in five goes without a meal several times a week. One in three cannot adequately look after their health due to lack of money. Three out of four have no social welfare entitlements.

Student bursaries (covering 38 percent of students), amounting on average to 234 euros per month, are sufficient neither to live nor to study. Many students are forced to work, which either causes a delay in their studies or impedes them. This in turn causes them to lose the right to any assistance. The bursaries are only paid for 10 months. Many students must abandon their studies before obtaining a degree. According to the OVE (Student Life Observer), nearly half of all students (46 percent) work outside of their studies.

Once accommodation assistance is deducted, a bedroom is available to a student for 80 euros per month, while a fitted-out apartment of 18 square metres would cost between 150 and 200 euros per month, according to CROUS. CROUS manages the stock of student accommodation, which only has the capacity to house 6 percent of the total student population (2.3 million).

In the towns, the cost of renting a room is exorbitant. The 800,000 students who receive Accommodation assistance (APL) have been directly impacted by the cut of 5 euros (the price of a meal and a half) imposed by Macron in 2017, as well as the deindexation of rents.

Half of all students cannot finance accommodation outside their academic institution. Half cannot study what they would like due to lack of means.

Already in 2016, 22.7 percent of students surveyed reported to the OVE that they had been confronted with “significant financial difficulties during the year.” About 60 percent were experiencing fatigue and were suffering from stress, 45 percent mentioned problems with sleep, and 32 percent were depressed.

Numerous interviews with students bring out the impossible conditions they are compelled to endure. “If I stop before I have submitted my thesis, I will have lost all these years, and developed chronic illnesses for nothing,” declared one female student who works up to 40 hours per week.

A student message on Twitter said: “We, the precarious ones, have a duty to let our difficulties be seen, to stop hiding them, and to stop being ashamed of them. For it is not our fault if we are slaves, if we panic, if we have psychological problems linked to our material situation. The State is pushing us over the edge. It is killing us every day.”

French far-right policemen intimidate police brutality critics


This 2019 video says about itself:

Protesters join a silent march in the streets of Nantes on Saturday, August 3, following the death of a 24-year old man who fell into the Loire River during a police action in June and whose body was retrieved on Monday. The march will be followed by a demonstration against police brutality.

The body of Steve Maia Canico was found several hundred metres from the spot where he was seen for the last time on the night between June 21 and 22, when police forces dispersed revelers at a music festival, allegedly forcing some into the river. Tear gas and batons were reportedly used during the action.

French authorities reportedly said they will block potential trouble makers from accessing parts of the city centre after the Yellow Vests movement said they would join the march.

The Alliance Police is a far-right French police association.

They became infamous for opposing police protection for satiric weekly Charlie Hebdo. A bit later, there was a bloody attack on Charlie Hebdo.

Now, they are in the news again.

By Alex Lantier in France:

French police launch protests outside Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s headquarters

26 September 2019

In an unprecedented decision, the neo-fascist Alliance Police trade union is holding protests today outside the headquarters of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Unsubmissive France (LFI) party. Dispensing with the official state tradition that they are an apolitical body with a “duty to be reserved”, police are targeting the presidential candidate who led in working class areas of major French cities in the 2017 elections. These protests, backed by President Emmanuel Macron’s government, mark a dangerous new stage in the emergence of a police state in France.

The immediate pretext of the protest is Mélenchon’s criticism of police as “barbaric” during protests Tuesday against President Emmanuel Macron’s pension cuts. Mélenchon, who is in the courts facing charges of rebellion and assaulting state officials as he contested last year’s police raid on LFI headquarters, warned protesters to be careful. He said, “They are barbaric, they don’t hold back anymore! If I had been at the [‘yellow vest’] demonstration Saturday, they would have killed me, you know, they are waiting for a pretext.”

The sentiment expressed by Mélenchon about the police is widely shared. In France, police have violently assaulted “yellow vest” protesters, arresting thousands and wounding thousands more with stun grenades and rubber bullets, and killed Steve Maia Caniço by pushing him into the Loire River in Nantes during a late-night music concert. Millions have been shocked and outraged at the actions of police. The expression of this view by a prominent politician immediately triggered a hysterical response in the state, however, which is terrified of rising social anger and class struggle.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner effectively gave a green light to the Alliance Police protest against Mélenchon on Twitter. He replied that Mélenchon’s remarks were “An unacceptable insult to our security forces that are mobilized, day in day out, to protect the French people, risking their very lives. Jean-Luc Mélenchon owes them respect, and now he owes them an apology.”

The WSWS and the Parti de l’égalité socialiste (PES) have extensively documented their principled political differences with Mélenchon and the … politics of the LFI … . However, Mélenchon must be defended against the hysterical attack launched against him by the Macron government and the police apparatus.

What is at stake is the freedom not only of Mélenchon, but of the entire working class to express its opposition to police crackdowns, and more broadly to social inequality and military-police rule.

After Castaner’s attack on Mélenchon via Twitter, the entire machinery of France’s police trade union bureaucracy was set into motion to target Mélenchon. …

This propaganda is the final product of a longer campaign against Mélenchon, who is awaiting sentencing in his trial for shoving judicial officers during the police search of LFI headquarters last year. The fact that the search of LFI was illegal, since police tried to keep LFI staff from monitoring what information was being taken away from their headquarters during the search, was ignored. However, when Mélenchon got angry and pushed the officers, he found himself facing rebellion charges carrying up to a 10-year prison sentence.

This is part of an international tendency across Europe in which fascistic police forces behave violently and aggressively, trampling basic democratic rights with the complicity of unpopular European governments. In France, the repression of the “yellow vests” and the targeting of Mélenchon testify to the extraordinary concentration of power in the hands of police. Even as they spy on and brutally assault the population, a legal framework is emerging in which any attempt at self-defense against police carries with it the danger of massive legal penalties.

Similar policies are emerging across Europe, including Spain—where the Guardia Civil brutally cracked down on peaceful protesters during the October 1, 2017, Catalan independence referendum and are preparing a renewed crackdown on Catalan protests—and also Germany. There, the entire state machine is protecting various networks of far-right operatives in the security forces, including one that drew up a kill list of several hundred politicians.

Initially yesterday, Mélenchon had launched an appeal on Twitter for LFI supporters to come out to protect LFI staff and headquarters against any eventual assault launched by pro-fascist police units: “Tomorrow a police union is calling protests against LFI headquarters at 11 a.m. Illegal protest. I request the protection of the gendarmerie. I believe the protection of witnesses drawn from the people would be decisive.”

In the face of the campaign against him, however, he decided yesterday afternoon to leave LFI headquarters deserted today as the Alliance Police union officials and members march by. On his Facebook account yesterday evening, Mélenchon shifted his position, warning his supporters against holding any counterdemonstration.

Mélenchon wrote that police “would immediately seize on it to justify committing acts of violence. So the decision of the comrades is to leave our headquarters empty. It’s to say ‘we’re not there’, and I formally ask you: please avoid going through this area. They will try to provoke you and create impossible situations.”

The necessity of pulling back faced with threats of fascist police violence endorsed by Macron is a warning to workers in France and internationally. Powerful, fascistic-authoritarian forces are being mobilized by the financial aristocracy in the state security forces. Their ultimate target is the rising social anger among workers. These forces can only be fought by mobilizing the vast power of the working class …

At this stage, however, Mélenchon retains considerable electoral support, and the Macron government’s attack on him is an attack targeting the democratic rights of the entire working class. The response of class-conscious workers will be to defend Mélenchon against the hysterical police campaign unfolding in the government ministries, TV screens and newspaper editorials attacking him.

French Macron bans protests against police brutality


This 3 August 2019 from Nantes in France is about a rally to honour Steve Maia Caniço, killed by police brutality.

Police have arrested scores of protesters.

Police arrest Nantes demonstrator, AFP photo

By Will Morrow:

French government bans protests against police killing of Steve Caniço

3 August 2019

Amid growing outrage across France at the police killing of 24-year-old after-school carer Steve Maia Caniço during a Nantes music festival in June, the Macron administration is banning protests planned for today and branding opposition to police violence as illegitimate.

Yesterday, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner endorsed the decision by the Nantes police prefect, Claude d’Harcourt, to ban today’s protest in Nantes against Canico’s death and the ensuing state cover-up of the police’s role. “I understand perfectly the wish to pay tribute, but I don’t know of any hommages that take place through violence”, he said. “They don’t exist. If some people wish to come and sow violence, and … exploit this event, that’s unacceptable.”

On Thursday, the Nantes prefect placed a ban on protests across large areas of the city. D’Harcourt’s statement noted that a “call for a rally” was “circulating on social media”, and declared without any evidence that the event would be “boosted by the presence of ultra-protesters and extremely radical individuals, of the ‘black block’ type”. These unspecified groups’ “illegal actions exceed the framework of the freedom of protest and the characteristics of a movement advancing demands”, it said.

In other words, the vague assertion that “radical” individuals “of the black block type” are attending a demonstration suffices to declare the protest illegal and brand as criminals all those participating. D’Harcourt threatened a police crackdown, telling a press conference Friday that the “government and the interior ministry have given us everything we required.”

Protests have already taken place in multiple cities across the country. In Lille, between 250 and 500 protested against police violence on Friday evening. In Dijon, 200 people marched carrying white balloons. “What happened to Steve moved me a lot”, one marcher in Dijon said. “That could have been anyone, one of my brothers, a friend. We wanted to pay him tribute.”

Steve Caniço’s badly decomposed body was recovered in the Loire river on Tuesday afternoon. He had not been heard from and been presumed drowned since police carried out a military-style raid on a peaceful techno music festival in the early hours of Saturday, June 22. As the panicked crowd of 200 young people fled the police rubber bullets, tasers, attack dogs and truncheons through a haze of tear gas, at least 14 fell seven meters down into the Loire river, located closely adjacent to the festival on the Wilson quay. Caniço, who did not know how to swim, never resurfaced.

'Where is Steve?' flyers at the Place Royale of Nantes in July 2019 (Photo Credit: GrandCelinien)

The Macron administration is giving the police forces vast powers. On one hand, it is brazenly rejecting the widely-known evidence, including video footage, of the police’s culpability for Caniço’s death; on the other, it is taking the event as an opportunity to threaten workers and youth that the police have a green light to kill those who oppose the government’s policies with impunity.

Thus, Macron justified the police’s attack in Nantes on July 20, telling reporters that “one must not forget the context of the violence that our country has been living through”, concluding, “Calm must be restored in the country.”

Immediately following the discovery of Steve’s body on Tuesday, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe gave a press conference to whitewash the police’s role, citing an internal “investigation” conducted by the police themselves, via the General Inspection of the National Police [IGPN], into their own actions. The IGPN report, which had been ordered by the interior ministry as part of its cover-up strategy, was dated July 16, but the government had said nothing of it for two weeks until the discovery of the body.

Steve Caniço

Philippe cited the report’s declaration that there was no proof to “establish a direct link between the intervention of police and the disappearance of Steve Maia Canico.” The report denied that there had been a police “charge” or “offensive leap” against the concert goers. Instead, Philippe sought to blame the organization of the festival itself, which had taken place peacefully until its conclusion, when police attacked. He stated that there were “questions as to the preparation for this event.”

These lies are believed by no one and had been exposed well before they were uttered. One of those who fell in the river after being hit by tear gas, 24-year-old Jeremy, told Mediapart: “My eyes were burning, I felt my foot go into empty space. I couldn’t see anything. I tried to swim, I tread water I held onto a cordon the side, I couldn’t see the others fall but I heard them.”

Eighty-nine people at the concert joined a legal suit against the police following the raid. None of these eye-witnesses were interviewed by the IGPN, which relied exclusively on the testimony of security agents.

One of those who filed charges, Romain, a 33-year-old photographer, testified on Wednesday that he had spent hours in the police headquarters and navigated contradictory “instructions and counter-instructions” from the police in order to file testimony with the IGPN. The police have since claimed they could not include his comments, supposedly because they requested another statement from him via email, which Romain says he never received.

Romain was at the event with his girlfriend and her younger sister. “I didn’t even see the police uniforms at the beginning,” he said. What he originally thought was a smoke bomb as part of the concert display “landed at my feet. All of a sudden, we suffocated, and we knew it was tear gas. When I could see again, everyone was running everywhere. I looked for my friend and saw her green dress running toward the Loire. I ran after her and caught her arm 50 cm from the Loire. We turned to get to cover. It’s horrible but at that moment, we crossed people running toward the river. I cried, ‘Don’t go, the Loire is there.’ We couldn’t do anything. I heard the sound of the bodies falling into the water.” The two of them eventually found the woman’s younger sister lying in a state of shock on the ground.

Cell phone footage of the event, compiled in a video by Liberation, shows that the police tear gassing and charge continued as young people screamed that the river was behind and that people had already fallen in. …

The Socialist Party’s Martine Aubry declared that “we cannot be in a country where we doubt the police, it is not possible. It’s truly horrible that in our country, we must wait so many days to find a body and that today there are so many questions to which the official investigations don’t respond.”

Protesters marched in cities across France against police violence and to commemorate Steve Maia Caniço, who drowned in the Loire River in Nantes amid a violent police crackdown on a music festival. Anger is erupting against the government’s unabashed defense of the deadly, unprovoked violence of the police: here.

French Macron endangers curlews, godwits, turtle doves


This 2016 video is called:

Birds of Ireland: The Curlew & its haunting song

Status: Winter visitor to wetlands throughout Ireland, as well as breeding in small numbers in floodplains and boglands.

Conservation Concern: Red-listed in Ireland due to its small and declining breeding population. The European population is experiencing similar problems and has been evaluated as Declining.

A sad situation in France, since the minister for the environment in the Macron administration, Nicolas Hulot, resigned in despair, as he found out that the rest of that administration did not care about the environment, only about billionaires’ profits.

Even right-wing politicians like Annie Schreijer-Pierik of the Dutch CDA party are now worried.

Translated from Dutch CDA member of the European Union parliament Annie Schreijer-Pierik, 26 July 2019:

BRUSSELS – MEP Annie Schreijer-Pierik (CDA) sounds the alarm again about the French hunting of protected meadow birds. “The European Commission is now launching an infringement procedure against France for the use of glue traps and standing bird nets in violation of the Birds Directive. But Brussels remains silent about the premature lifting by the French Council of State of a moratorium on the hunting of curlews and black-tailed godwits earlier this month. A few days ago, the French Ministry of the Environment made things even worse by suddenly approving rights to kill six thousand curlews (and thirty thousand turtle doves). “Unacceptable and unheard of in this Year of the Curlew“, says the CDA politician, who therefore asks emergency questions to European Union Commissioner Karmenu Vella (Environment) just before the summer break. She wants to know how the Commission will prevent a possible reopening of the black-tailed godwit hunt and will stop the re-admitted French curlew hunting.

“The French shooting of curlews is in no way justifiable and is contrary to all guidelines,” says Schreijer. “Although the European curlew population is still half a million birds, the numbers of nesting curlews in our country have already fallen by forty percent between 1990 and 2015. It is not for nothing that the bird is on the red list. ”The European Commission stated earlier that hunting for a species of bird should not be reopened if the species in question decreases in number. That is the case with curlew and black-tailed godwit.

Schreijer-Pierik emphasizes that there are no legitimate reasons like combating damage or a credible bird recovery plan in the case of France. That is why the CDA politician is once again asking for sanctions by the European Commission against the French curlew hunting. Infringement proceedings may force France to comply with EU bird legislation.

Schreijer wants the European Commissioner to make clear which side he is on: “Or can big France as the only country in the EU continue to get away with this type of practice?”. Destroying what Dutch, Belgian and other European farmers, agricultural nature associations, bird protectors and governments do for the curlew, warns the MEP. “It involves millions of euros in national and European subsidies for meadow bird management. Or will the European Commission again claim that the decline of the European curlew is the fault of agriculture?”

Part of the reason of decline of farmland birds, along with hunting, is indeed unsustainable Big Business industrial agriculture. Ever since the 1950s, the European Union and its predecessors have stimulated replacing small scale sustainable farming with unsustainable Big Business farming.

The current reform proposals of the EU Commission on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) are unlikely to improve environmental protection, say researchers. While the EU has committed to greater sustainability, this is not reflected in the CAP reform proposal: here.

After Trump, Macron militarises space


This 13 October 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Donald Trump’s Space Force THREATENS NASA: JFK niece condemns US President

DONALD Trump’s Space Force was attacked for threatening NASA and global climate interests on the 60th anniversary of the space agency’s birth, by film director Rory Kennedy.

The accomplished film director and niece of the late President John F Kennedy told Express.co.uk of her “disappointment” in the current US presidency.

Ms Kennedy, who has filmed a documentary celebrating 60 years of NASA’s existence Above & Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow, fears the White House’s militarisation of space could starve the space agency of funding, focus and public interest.

The proposed Space Force branch of the US military was announced by Donald Trump during a meeting of the National Space Council on June 18, 2018.

If the proposal passes through, the Space Force will join ranks with the US Army, US Navy, US Marine Corps, US Air Force and US Coast Guard.

Announcing his bold plans, Mr Trump said: “It is not merely enough that we have American presence in space.

“We must have American dominance in space.”

The film director argued some of the biggest challenges facing the planet today – namely human-led climate change – are being ignored by the US President and his cabinet.

She recalled her uncle’s iconic Rice Stadium speech in Houston from 1962, where President Kennedy announced his goal of landing on the Moon.

Ms Kennedy argued, the US’ interests in space at the time were motivated by the spirit of discovery, cooperation and looking forward to a brighter future.

As outlined in her documentary, the groundwork laid down by President Kennedy and NASA led to the discovery of the damaged ozone layer, the 1987 Montreal Protocol in response and the International Space Station (ISS).

She told Express.co.uk: “I think my uncle made a number of really amazing points in that speech, where he said: ‘We choose to go to the Moon.

“‘We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because the goal will serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills.’

“I love that idea, which really contrasts to what we’re experiencing today, where a leader is really tapping into the best in all of us and encouraging us to work together towards a lofty aspiring goal.”

Ms Kennedy, the youngest child of the late Bobby Kennedy, said from the moment of NASA’s birth under Dwight Eisenhower, the vision was to have a “non-military entity” which could explore, share and impart knowledge with the rest of the world.

But 60 years on, NASA’s interests as the world’s leading space agency are at risk of losing resources and interest in exchange for militarising space.

This, in turn, could have a negative impact on research into climate change and the growing number of climate-related catastrophes – from hurricanes in the Atlantic to droughts and typhoons in the Pacific.

Ms Kennedy, who “grew up in the Apollo era”, said: “I think there is definitely a concern – there are only so many resources that we have.

“I think there is not really a sense right now that there is a need for an emerging presence in space and I think we haven’t done such a good job on this planet having the military play such a significant role.

“Given the urgency and the scientific truth around climate change and the number of deaths last year in Puerto Rico – 3,000 people died – these things are fatal and they’re scientific and they are only going to worse unless we make a dramatic move to redirect attention.

“I think that will only come through leadership and legislative action, so one of the greatest disappointments of this presidency is that there is not a greater appreciation of the scientists and the data that that is coming from the scientists.

“There is no policy that reflects what we know to be factual and true.”

From AFP news agency today:

Macron announces creation of French space force

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday he had approved the creation of a space command within the French air force …

The declaration — made on the eve of France’s Bastille Day national celebrations that feature a military parade down Paris’s Champs-Elysees — mirrors an initiative in the US championed by President Donald Trump. …

Defence Minister Florence Parly would reveal details of the funding at a later date, he added. …

France has a 2019-2025 military spending plan that allocates 3.6 billion euros ($4 billion) to defence in space.

That includes the renewal of the France’s CSO observation and Syracuse communication satellites, the launch of three CERES electromagnetic-monitoring satellites, and the modernisation of a spatial radar surveillance system called GRAVES.

The Pentagon has drafted plans for a new Space Force on orders from Trump who has declared space a “war-fighting domain”.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s administration announced this month the creation of a military space command and detailed plans to place anti-satellite weapons systems in orbit. The announcement is the latest step in a military build-up by France and the EU imperialist powers, and part of preparations to wage “great power” wars, including between nuclear-armed states: here.

After 18 months of consultations, the high commissioner for pension reform, Jean Paul Delevoye, will today provide French President Emmanuel Macron with his recommendations for an attack on pensions to be implemented in the autumn. The announcement will be of great social and political significance. Despite widespread social anger and the isolation of the ruling class revealed in the mass “yellow vest” protests, the Macron government is making no concessions. It is accelerating the campaign to destroy the social rights established after the Second World War and the fall of fascism: here.

Outer space is the next frontier for war. DAVE WEBB of CND exposes the horrifying dash to militarise space: here.

French hospital workers strike against Macron’s austerity


This 11 June 2019 video is called Pushed to ‘breaking point’: French ER workers go on strike.

By Anthony Torres in France:

French hospital workers strike against Macron’s health cuts

15 June 2019

While the Senate adopted the 2022 health bill on Tuesday, hospital strikes against the deterioration of the health system that began in March in Paris are now spreading throughout France.

Health Minister Agnès Buzyn and President Emmanuel Macron have turned down all the demands of hospital staff despite rising anger among workers. Already, Macron has refused to make any concessions to demands of “yellow vest” protesters that he put an end to his policy of austerity and war. He reacted by launching riot police against the “yellow vests”, leading to mass arrests of thousands of protesters, dozens of whom have been mutilated by the cops.

On Monday on the set of the BFM-TV news channel, faced with demands for an increase in staff and salaries, Buzyn dismissed out of hand “the idea of a new salary increase for carers”. She bluntly said, “But when the concern is purely about wages whereas it is the entire system that doesn’t work … honestly, the problems won’t be solved just because I pay you more.”

Despite €400 million investments to create medical assistant positions and finance rural or territorial health care, the 2022 health project plans to cut €3.8 billion from health budgets. There is rising anger and concern among hospital staff, who fear a drastic deterioration in working conditions.

Hospital staff began striking in Paris in March, and these strikes have now spread to 95 emergency wards across France. Demonstrations are planned in Paris and in the provinces.

Faced with rising anger in the hospitals, the trade unions have called strikes to protest against the lack of resources at the University Hospital of Bordeaux, as well as of Libourne, Agen-Nérac and Pau. All hospital staff in the neurological and cardiological services at Albi are also on strike to demand “a better quality of care and acceptable working conditions.”

Staff at Lariboisière Hospital, in the 10th arrondissement of Paris, mounted a sickout in the night from Monday to Tuesday.

Terrified by this growing movement, the Macron government deployed police-state measures against hospital workers, with requisitions issued by the gendarmerie to deprive staff of their constitutionally protected right to strike and require a return to work. In the emergency room of Lons-le-Saunier, health workers were requisitioned by order of the police prefect. The authoritarian methods first used against “yellow vests” are being deployed against all workers in struggle.

WSWS reporters spoke to Fanny and Chloé, nurses at Saint Louis Hospital in Paris, who denounced the lack of beds and staff when there are more and more people who need them. “Before, people arrived at the hospital, and we had beds for them in separate rooms,” one said.

Chloé added: “Over the past year, a year and a half, that has changed. There are no more beds, they’re full. People sleep on stretchers in the emergency corridor all night long.”

Fanny pointed out that three or four years ago there was one caregiver for every 10 people, but now it’s one for every 14. “The problem is money. There is money, but it’s the politicians who decide what to do and we the people, we have no power to decide. We don’t feel anyone listens to us at all. Our work is not recognized in fact, but it is essential for the population. Our salary has not changed since 2010.”

Fanny told the WSWS that they can earn almost €1,700 a month, but have to work on several public holidays and weekends. She compared the deterioration in the working conditions and living standards for hospital staff to that of other civil servants: “My sister is a teacher. They always cut classes and there are more children in the classes. It’s like us, because they’re closing down the services.”

The WSWS also spoke to Maryline, who works as a doctor in Nancy. She said that ruling circles “do not want to invest in hospitals. … They are happy that public hospitals are deteriorating and that there are more private clinics, and that only those who can afford them can go to private clinics.”

She added, “There is now a crisis in the hospital system. They offer doctors 1,500 euros for 24 hours of work if they come to regions where there is a shortage of doctors. If someone doesn’t come to work, there’s a problem. But many employees have health problems, and in some services there are working conditions that are difficult, and people do not stay. Nurses are paid only 1,300 euros per month, but they have many responsibilities. We need more nurses and more caregivers. We can’t treat people like this anymore. When people wait, their health deteriorates.”

Fanny explained that there is plenty of money, but the Macron government and its predecessors are setting out to destroy social rights established by previous generations of workers struggles, looting the education and health system to extract more money from them. For the first time in 18 years, the Social Security system is running a surplus. This is due to the gutting of retirement pensions and family benefits in 2019 and 2020.

The policy adopted by the Macron government in its “social dialogue” with the union bureaucracies is deeply regressive. These austerity cuts in healthcare and the surpluses generated are used to finance Macron’s tax cuts for the rich and to finance the massive military spending increases, so that France and the EU can wage neocolonial wars in Africa and the Middle East.

The creation of a public health service that meets the needs of the masses requires a broader struggle of hospital staff, mobilizing together with other sections of workers in France and internationally. To this end, workers must create their own organizations of struggle … to defend social rights and lead a political fight against war and the police-state preparations.

The strike by French hospital workers against the Macron administration’s healthcare legislation, which came into force in March, is spreading throughout the country. Of the 478 emergency services in the country, 216 are now involved in the movement that began in March and involved 80 hospitals by June: here.

This month, many sections of workers will take strike action against the drastic cuts to pensions and the police state policies of French President Emmanuel Macron. Mass transit, hospital workers, the public service, electricity workers and rail workers are all preparing strikes amid widespread anger among workers and youth: here.

TOMORROW, June 16th, everyone is being mobilised (striking) for health, the CGT French union federation has declared. Health, medico-social, social, nursing homes and national education personnel will be mobilised to demand substantial resources for good working conditions, thus ensuring a quality public service for all users and patients: here.