Police make dozens of arrests and fire tear gas on protesters at Paris France on fuel tax and price increase

French police made dozens of arrests across France Saturday amid violent anti-government protests described by one of the protesters as a “civil war,” CNN affiliate BFM reported.

 

In Paris, police resorted to tear gas and water cannon to try to clear the Champs Elysée.
“The objective was to unite everybody here in Paris. I am disappointed because it wasn’t meant to be like this,” Thierry Paul Valette, one of the organizers of Saturday’s demonstration in Paris told CNN.
He blamed it on a “small section” of “the extreme left and the extreme right” and said it was like a “civil war.”
In total, 35 people were taken into custody.
The “yellow vest” protests, which began as a campaign against rising gas prices, have morphed into a wider demonstration against the government of President Emmanuel Macron in recent weeks, spreading as far as France’s Indian Ocean territory of Reunion.
Police say they have mobilized 3,000 officers in Paris to contain the 8,000 protesters. A security perimeter has been set up in the city center, with government buildings protected. Three people have been arrested so far.
At a news conference on Saturday, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner blamed the clashes on far-right extemists infiltrating the demonstrations.
“Today, the far right has mobilized,” he told reporters. “The security forces perfectly anticipated this situation.”
Far-right political leader Marine Le Pen rejected the accusations, describing them as a “pathetic and dishonest” form of “political manipulation” by the government.
Earlier Castaner said of the protesters: “Their freedom of expression will be guaranteed, but it must not be exercised to the detriment of security, public order and the right of everybody to come and go. There is no liberty without public order.”
Last weekend a protester was accidentally run over and killed by a car, and more than 200 people were injured during a demonstration in eastern France.
Protesters clash with riot police who fired  tear gas canisters in central Paris on Saturday.

Macron under fire

In addition to concerns over spiraling fuel prices, the protests also reflect long-running tensions between the metropolitan elite and rural poor.
Diesel prices have surged 16% this year from an average 1.24 euros ($1.41) per liter to 1.48 euros ($1.69), even hitting 1.53 euros in October, according to UFIP, France’s oil industry federation.
The price hike is largely caused by a leap in the wholesale price of oil, with Brent crude oil — a benchmark for worldwide oil purchases — increasing by more than 20% in the first half of 2018 from around $60 a barrel to a peak of $86.07 in early October.
French protesters are, however, not directing their anger at OPEC for reducing oil production, or at the US administration for implementing tariffs on Iran, crippling its oil exports.
Macron is instead bearing the brunt of widespread French discontent, with many protesters furious at the current leader’s extension of environmental policies implemented under François Hollande’s government.
Notably, taxes were increased by 8 centimes last January on diesel, and by 4 centimes on petrol. Tax on diesel will also increase by another 6.4 euro cents in 2019, and by 2.9 cents for petrol. These rises follow many decades of under-taxation of diesel in France.
President Macron is instead bearing the brunt of widespread French discontent.

Further revolts

The growing resentment has also been a springboard for partisan political attacks, with opponents of Macron’s centrist En Marche party attempting to energize their bases to fuel further revolt.
One protester, Ludivine Landrin, a 32-year-old from near Paris, explained why she was protesting. “I’m here because I am a citizen. I want the struggle to come together. I want the French state to understand that we are here together. We want another state, we want another government,” she told CNN.
“In France we have a lot of taxes. The beginning of the movement was about taxes on fuel. The movement became bigger because all the taxes are making people fed up. The Macron government is making everyone fed up — on the right and on the left. We are all fed up with Macron and his government.”
Another protester, 33-year-old Emilie, declared that a revolution was happening. “We pay our taxes but it is only the rich who profit,” she said.
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Trump attacks Paul Ryan, says he ‘knows nothing’ about birthright citizenship

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President Donald Trump went after House Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday, saying one of the top Republican leaders in the President’s party “knows nothing about” birthright citizenship and “should be focusing on holding the Majority” in the House of Representatives “rather than giving his opinions” on the issue.

The comments come a day after Ryan threw cold water on the President’s assertion that he can use executive action to end the constitutional guarantee of citizenship to anyone born in the United States.

Ryan told a Kentucky radio station Tuesday that “you cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order,” following remarks from the President indicating that Trump believes he can do just that, though many legal scholars disagree.

On Wednesday, the President tweeted, “Paul Ryan should be focusing on holding the Majority rather than giving his opinions on Birthright Citizenship, something he knows nothing about! Our new Republican Majority will work on this, Closing the Immigration Loopholes and Securing our Border!”

An aide to Ryan declined to comment on the President’s tweet.
Separately, a senior GOP aide defended Ryan when asked about Trump’s tweet.
“This is a great way to screw up the message a week before the election,” this aide told. “First the birthright comment itself and now attacking the top Republican in Congress who is trying to save our majority.”

Ryan, who is leaving Congress at the end of his term in January, has been helping to campaign for Republicans as the midterms approach, including both vulnerable incumbents and new candidates in competitive races. When he spoke to radio station WVLK on Tuesday, he was in Kentucky campaigning for Republican Rep. Andy Barr, who is trying to hold onto his House seat.

During the interview on Tuesday, Ryan quickly sought to emphasize common ground with the President on immigration policy, despite saying that it was not possible to end birthright citizenship via executive order.

“Where we obviously totally agree with the President is getting at the root issue here, which is unchecked illegal immigration,” Ryan said. “We — House Republicans and this President — are in total agreement on the Preneed to stop illegal immigration, to secure our border and fix our laws.”
The midterm elections, where Republicans are at risk of losing their majority in the House, take place next Tuesday.

Republicans are viewed as more likely to retain the Senate than the House and Democratic leaders are projecting confidence that they will win the lower chamber of Congress.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi predicted on Tuesday night that Democrats will take back the House, saying during an interview with late-night host Stephen Colbert, “We will win.”

This isn’t the first time Trump has lashed out at Ryan.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump called Ryan a “very weak and ineffective leader” after Ryan told fellow Republicans he would no longer defend Trump after the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape surfaced in which Trump could be heard bragging about groping women.