Added: 15. October 2010
* Marseilles, Paris’s Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports affected
* Passengers forced to carry their own luggage off planes
* 3,000 of the country’s 12,000 petrol stations have run dry
* Disputes costing country £100million a day
Armed with pump-action shotguns, sidearms and stun grenades the officers look like they belong in a war zone.
In fact they are elite French policemen who were deployed to the historic centre of Lyon yesterday to deal with rioting students.
President Nicolas Sarkozy took the extreme measure in the face of growing protests against an unpopular law aimed at increasing the retirement age from 60 to 62.
Nicknamed ‘Sarko’s Stormtroopers’, the GIPN (National Police Intervention Group) faced down 2,000 youngsters in Place Bellecour where cars had been set on fire and shop windows smashed.
The elite unit, whose motto is Cohesion Brings Strength, was set up in 1972 to deal with terrorists and hostage takers.
‘Deploying them on the streets was a tactical decision deemed necessary because of the acts of violence and vandalism aimed at the community,’ said an interior ministry spokesman.
Batons, riot shields and tear gas are the GIPN’s first resort when dealing with troublemakers, but they were also armed with Heckler and Koch short-barrelled, pump-action riot shotguns designed for ‘defensive action’.
Verney-Carron flashball guns, which can stun protesters, were also used in Lyon yesterday.
The GIPN carry Sig Sauer Pro pistols, while their armed support mobile unit has sniper rifles and even Heckler and Koch machine pistols. The men always wear black body armour and helmets and cover their faces with balaclavas.
France’s increasingly militant trade unions have called for more industrial action today even though parts of the country are bordering on anarchy.
Bernard Thibault, of the powerful CGT union, said: ‘There is no reason at all to stop. There is no alternative while the government remains intransigent. We need to continue with massive action as soon as next week.
‘We will ask the unions for strong action that will allow people to stop work and go on to the streets.’
The southern city of Lyon has resembled an urban guerrilla war zone this week, according to one local police spokesman.
There have also been clashes in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, where students yesterday joined hundreds of thousands of others from around the city for a mass demonstration.
‘We will head for the senate and, if necessary, try to storm it,’ said one radical student leader who asked not to be named.
‘The government has pushed us to the brink and has threatened our entire future.’
– French industry ‘losing at least £100 million a day’ (Telegraph):
“If it is not stopped quickly, this disorder which is aimed at paralysing the country could have consequences for jobs by damaging the normal running of economic activity,” the President said in a statement yesterday.
Jean Pelin, director general of France’s chemical industries association, said that the strike had already cost his sector an estimated billion euros in lost turnover, around 100 million euros (£88 million) for every extra strike day.
“This is a severe blow for an industry that was just recovering from the (economic) crisis,” he told the Daily Telegraph. He said a little over half of the losses were due to a strike at Marseille’s Fos-Lavera port, where dozens of petrol tankers are unable to offload.
The president of France’s Assemblée of chambers of commerce and industry, Jean-François Bernardin, said that “tens of thousands” of businesses had been hit by the strike action, due to lack of fuel and transport disruption, while SNCF, the national rail operator said it was losing 20 million euros (£17.5 million) a day.
But workers in several key sectors showed no sign of ending a week-long strike against a plan to raise the legal retirement age from 60 to 62, which the government has said is essential to reduce France’s public deficit.
• A quarter of petrol stations run dry ahead of half-term break
• All 12 refineries and some fuel depots are blockaded
France faced another day of panic at the petrol pumps as refinery and oil depot protests continued despite government attempts to break the blockades over pension reforms. A quarter of the country’s petrol stations have run dry amid fears over how people would get away for the long half-term break that starts tomorrow. North and western France were the worst hit.
All of France’s 12 refineries and around 14 of its 219 fuel depots remained blockaded this morning. However, the environment minister, Jean-Louis Borloo, said the situation was “tending towards improving”.
The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, yesterday ordered police to break up blockades at depots and a handful were lifted. But in towns including Caen and Ouistreham, as soon as depot blockades were dismantled there was panic-buying at local petrol pumps. Police could move in today to break the 10-day blockade of refineries.
Public transport in many major cities, including Paris, was running almost as normal this morning, although sporadic strike action continued in some parts of the country, including a three-hour blockade of Marseille airport.
Unions will meet this afternoon to decide whether to call another day of national strikes next week to stop the movement petering out over the school holidays. Moderate unions are doubtful about continuing the protests, with the senate due to vote in favour of the contested pensions bill by tomorrow night. But more hardline unions favour calling for another nationwide day of stoppages and street demonstrations, possibly next Tuesday or Thursday.
Every email, phone call and website visit is to be recorded and stored after the Coalition Government revived controversial Big Brother snooping plans.
It will allow security services and the police to spy on the activities of every Briton who uses a phone or the internet.
Moves to make every communications provider store details for at least a year will be unveiled later this year sparking fresh fears over a return of the surveillance state.
The plans were shelved by the Labour Government last December but the Home Office is now ready to revive them.
It comes despite the Coalition Agreement promised to “end the storage of internet and email records without good reason”.
Any suggestion of a central “super database” has been ruled out but the plans are expected to involve service providers storing all users details for a set period of time.
That will allow the security and police authorities to track every phone call, email, text message and website visit made by the public if they argue it is needed to tackle crime or terrorism.
The information will include who is contacting whom, when and where and which websites are visited, but not the content of the conversations or messages.
The move was buried in the Government’s Strategic Defence and Security Review, which revealed: “We will introduce a programme to preserve the ability of the security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies to obtain communication data and to intercept communications within the appropriate legal framework.
“This programme is required to keep up with changing technology and to maintain capabilities that are vital to the work these agencies do to protect the public.
Forgetful grandparents in Shanghai are being tracked by satellite to help their children keep an eye on them.
A pilot scheme in China’s most advanced city will give GPS devices to 35 families to track their elderly relatives.
If the seniors move a certain distance away from their home, a text message with their exact position is sent to their families.
The device can also inform relatives if its wearer has been motionless for longer than ten hours.
“Protecting elderly people, especially those with mental health problems, by keeping them from wandering off, is a major challenge. We often get reports that old people are lost, or that they have wandered off,” said Gong Linglin, the deputy head of the office in charge of ageing-related issues, who said the scheme particularly targeted people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss.
Elite puppet Angela Merkel will say whatever she is told to tell the public by her elite masters
Watch the video here.
Chancellor’s remarks, which claimed multiculturalism had ‘failed utterly’, interpreted as a shift rightwards from previous views
Chancellor Angela Merkel says multiculturalism in Germany has ‘failed utterly’. She tells a conference of the youth wing of her Christian Democratic Union party that Germans and foreign workers could not ‘live happily side by side’
Chancellor Angela Merkel has declared the death of multiculturalism in Germany, saying that it had “failed utterly” , in what has been interpreted as a startling shift from her previous views. The German leader said it had been an illusion to think that Germans and foreign workers could “live happily side by side”.
“We kidded ourselves for a while that they wouldn’t stay, but that’s not the reality,” she said at a conference of the youth wing of her Christian Democratic Union party at the weekend, referring to the gastarbeiters, or guest workers, who arrived in Germany to fill a labour shortage during the economic boom of the 1960s.
“Of course the tendency had been to say, ‘let’s adopt the multicultural concept and live happily side by side, and be happy to be living with each other’. But this concept has failed, and failed utterly,” she said, without elaborating on the nature and causes of this failure.
Merkel’s verdict marks a shift in her previously liberal line on immigration which had always put her at odds with the more conservative wing of the party.
While she stressed in the same speech that immigrants were welcome in Germany and that Islam was a part of the nation’s modern-day culture, her remarks positioned her closer to Horst Seehofer, the Bavarian state premier of the Christian Social Union, who last week called for an end to immigration from Turkey and Arab countries.
They also align her with Thilo Sarrazin, the former Bundesbank member whose book on how the failure of many of Germany’s 16 million immigrants to integrate was contributing to Germany’s decline led to his dismissal.
Sharing the same podium as Merkel in Potsdam, Seehofer also said “multiculturalism is dead” and that both the rightwing parties were committed to a “dominant German culture”. If Germany did not revise its immigration policies, he said, it was in danger of becoming “the world’s welfare office”.
The sole purpose of non-Jews is to serve Jews, according to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the head of Shas’s Council of Torah Sages and a senior Sephardi adjudicator.
“Goyim were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world – only to serve the People of Israel,” he said in his weekly Saturday night sermon on the laws regarding the actions non-Jews are permitted to perform on Shabbat.
According to Yosef, the lives of non-Jews in Israel are safeguarded by divinity, to prevent losses to Jews.
“In Israel, death has no dominion over them… With gentiles, it will be like any person – they need to die, but [God] will give them longevity. Why? Imagine that one’s donkey would die, they’d lose their money.
This is his servant… That’s why he gets a long life, to work well for this Jew,” Yosef said.
“Why are gentiles needed? They will work, they will plow, they will reap. We will sit like an effendi and eat.
That is why gentiles were created,” he added.
Yosef’s Saturday night sermons have seen many controversial statements from the 90-year-old rabbi. In August, Yosef caused a diplomatic uproar when he wished a plague upon the Palestinian people and their leaders, a curse he retracted a few weeks later, when he blessed them along with all of Israel’s other peace-seeking neighbors.
A 24-hour strike has shut down rail service in Belgium and severely disrupted travel in northwestern Europe. Disruptions are expected to last until Tuesday morning.
A 24-hour strike by one of Belgium’s main rail unions has forced the cancellation of nearly all high-speed rail service in and out of the country and severely disrupted the national network.
The strike, which began affecting the international trains linking Belgium to France, Germany the United Kingdom and the Netherlands on Sunday evening, has shut down the country and led to massive traffic jams.
“Not one train is rolling in [the Southern province of] Wallonia or in Brussels. In [the Northern province of] Flanders, only a handful of trains are moving,” a spokesman for Belgian rail network operator Infrabel told the Belga news agency.
Eurostar, Thalys cancel service
Eurostar canceled trains between the northern French city of Lille and Brussels until 10 p.m. local time Monday, though said the Paris-London line would not be affected.
But trains coming from London to Brussels will end at Lille, with buses taking passengers the rest of the way to the Belgian and European Union capital. All Thalys service to and from neighboring countries has been stopped.
The return of students and workers in mass protests made the right shiver. But there was no battle of the barricades
The clouds hung heavily over the Place de la République and the statue of Marianne, France’s heroine, was draped with demonstrators’ balloons.
As protesters marched on the historic Parisian site of proletarian revolt, 17-year-old Romane scowled at the rain-filled sky. “At least this is proof we’re not just here for the good weather,” she said. On her jacket was pinned a placard scrawled with marker pen. “Carla, we’re like you,” it read. “We’ve been screwed by Sarko too.”
Nicolas Sarkozy had feared that the rentrée – the time after the holidays when France returns to normal – would be warm, encouraging protesting masses on to the wide, Haussmann-designed boulevards, and he was right to be worried.
Languishing in the polls and engaged in an almighty battle to push through his flagship pension reform – taking the retirement age from 60 to 62 – the man once cast by some as the Gallic Margaret Thatcher is facing his most testing showdown with the notoriously bellicose unions.
The demonstration that drew people out in their hundreds of thousands was the fifth since last month, and Tuesday will bring another. Last week the protest movement snowballed, with strikes that closed schools, led to flights being cancelled and stopped trains. Fuel refineries halted production and parts of the country are already suffering shortages.
October 15, 2010 – My name is Michael Roberts, and I am a pilot for ExpressJet Airlines, Inc., based in Houston (that is, I still am for the time being). This morning as I attempted to pass through the security line for my commute to work I was denied access to the secured area of the terminal building at Memphis International Airport. I have passed through the same line roughly once per week for the past four and a half years without incident. Today, however, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents at this checkpoint were using one of the new Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) systems that are currently being deployed at airports across the nation. These are the controversial devices featured by the media in recent months, albeit sparingly, which enable screeners to see beneath people’s clothing to an extremely graphic and intrusive level of detail (virtual strip searching). Travelers refusing this indignity may instead be physically frisked by a government security agent until the agent is satisfied to release them on their way in what is being touted as an “alternative option” to AIT. The following is a somewhat hastily drafted account of my experience this morning.
As I loaded my bags onto the X-ray scanner belt, an agent told me to remove my shoes and send them through as well, which I’ve not normally been required to do when passing through the standard metal detectors in uniform. When I questioned her, she said it was necessary to remove my shoes for the AIT scanner. I explained that I did not wish to participate in the AIT program, so she told me I could keep my shoes and directed me through the metal detector that had been roped off. She then called somewhat urgently to the agents on the other side: “We got an opt-out!” and also reported the “opt-out” into her handheld radio. On the other side I was stopped by another agent and informed that because I had “opted out” of AIT screening, I would have to go through secondary screening. I asked for clarification to be sure he was talking about frisking me, which he confirmed, and I declined. At this point he and another agent explained the TSA’s latest decree, saying I would not be permitted to pass without showing them my naked body, and how my refusal to do so had now given them cause to put their hands on me as I evidently posed a threat to air transportation security (this, of course, is my nutshell synopsis of the exchange). I asked whether they did in fact suspect I was concealing something after I had passed through the metal detector, or whether they believed that I had made any threats or given other indications of malicious designs to warrant treating me, a law-abiding fellow citizen, so rudely. None of that was relevant, I was told. They were just doing their job.
Eventually the airport police were summoned. Several officers showed up and we essentially repeated the conversation above. When it became clear that we had reached an impasse, one of the more sensible officers and I agreed that any further conversation would be pointless at this time. I then asked whether I was free to go. I was not. Another officer wanted to see my driver’s license. When I asked why, he said they needed information for their report on this “incident” – my name, address, phone number, etc. I recited my information for him, until he asked for my supervisor’s name and number at the airline. Why did he need that, I asked. For the report, he answered. I had already given him the primary phone number at my company’s headquarters. When I asked him what the Chief Pilot in Houston had to do with any of this, he either refused or was simply unable to provide a meaningful explanation. I chose not to divulge my supervisor’s name as I preferred to be the first to inform him of the situation myself. In any event, after a brief huddle with several other officers, my interrogator told me I was free to go.