Erdogan Says Turkey May Hold Referendum On EU Accession Bid

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS AGENCY) 

Erdogan says Turkey may hold referendum on EU accession bid

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that Turkey may hold a second referendum on whether to continue with European Union accession talks following a planned vote on April 16 that could give him sweeping new powers.

“Right now we are holding a referendum on April 16 and after that we could choose to do a second one on the (EU) accession talks and we would abide by whatever our people would say there,” Erdogan told a forum in the southern city of Antalya.

Turkey began EU accession talks in 2005 but they have moved very slowly due to disagreements over Cyprus, human rights and other issues. Relations between Ankara and Brussels have become particularly strained in recent months.

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Gareth Jones)

Geert Wilders Falls Short In Election, As Wary Dutch Scatter Their Votes

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

Geert Wilders, a Rising Anti-Muslim Voice

This is Geert Wilders, a far-right Dutch politician with aspirations to be the next prime minister of the Netherlands. He has compared the Quran to “Mein Kampf” and has called Moroccans “scum.”

By AINARA TIEFENTHÄLER on Publish Date March 13, 2017.  

THE HAGUE — The far-right politician Geert Wilders fell short of expectations in Dutch elections on Wednesday, gaining seats but failing to persuade a decisive portion of voters to back his extreme positions on barring Muslim immigrants and jettisoning the European Union, according to early results and exit polls.

The results were immediately cheered by pro-European politicians who hoped that they could help stall some of the momentum of the populist, anti-European Union and anti-Muslim forces Mr. Wilders has come to symbolize, and which have threatened to fracture the bloc.

Voters, who turned out in record numbers, nonetheless rewarded right and center-right parties that had co-opted parts of his hard-line message, including that of the incumbent prime minister, Mark Rutte. Some parties that challenged the establishment from the left made significant gains.

The Dutch vote was closely watched as a harbinger of potential trends in a year of important European elections, including in France in just weeks, and later in Germany and possibly Italy. Many of the Dutch parties that prevailed favor the European Union — a rare glimmer of hope at a time when populist forces have created an existential crisis for the bloc and Britain prepares for its withdrawal, or “Brexit.”

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“Today was a celebration of democracy, we saw rows of people queuing to cast their vote, all over the Netherlands — how long has it been since we’ve seen that?” Mr. Rutte said.

Alexander Pechtold, the leader of Democrats 66, which appeared to have won the most votes of any left-leaning party, struck a similar note underscoring the vote as a victory against a populist extremist.

“During this election campaign, the whole world was watching us,” Mr. Pechtold said. “They were looking at Europe to see if this continent would follow the call of the populists, but it has now become clear that call stopped here in the Netherlands.”

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How Far Is Europe Swinging to the Right?

Right-wing parties have been achieving electoral success in a growing number of nations.

OPEN GRAPHIC

According to an unofficial tally compiled by the Dutch Broadcasting Foundation, the country’s public broadcaster, the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy was likely to capture 33 of the 150 seats in Parliament — a loss of seven seats, but still far more than any other party.

Mr. Wilders’s Party for Freedom was expected to finish second, with 20 seats (an increase of eight); and the right-leaning Christian Democratic Appeal and the left-leaning Democrats 66 were tied for third, with 19 each, the broadcaster reported.

In the Netherlands, the results betrayed a lingering distrust of turning over the reins of power to the far right, even as its message dominated the campaign and was likely to influence policies in the new government.

Yet there are limits to how much the Netherlands, one of Europe’s most socially liberal countries, will be a reliable predictor for Europe’s other important elections this year, including next month’s presidential elections in France.

Mark Bovens, a political scientist at Utrecht University, noted that Mr. Wilders and other right-wing parties, despite their gains, did not drastically cross traditional thresholds.

“The nationalist parties have won seats, compared to 2012 — Wilders’s party has gained seats, as has a new party, the Forum for Democracy — but their electorate is stable, it has not grown,” Mr. Bovens said.

Mr. Bovens pointed out that an earlier populist movement led by the right-wing politician Pim Fortuyn had won 26 seats in 2002, and that Mr. Wilders’s won 24 seats in 2010. If Mr. Wilders’s party rises to 20 seats, as the early returns seemed to indicate, it will still be lower than the previous high-water marks.

“And some of the traditional parties have moved in a more nationalistic direction, taking a bit of wind out of his sails,” he said. “You see the same strategy in Germany.”

The German governing coalition led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, which is facing a stiff election challenge of its own this year, was clearly buoyed by the Dutch result, its foreign ministry sending a warmly enthusiastic message via Twitter.

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“The Netherlands, after Brexit, after the American elections, said ‘Whoa’ to the wrong kind of populism,” said Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, speaking to an enthusiastic crowd. CreditCarl Court/Getty Images

“Large majority of Dutch voters have rejected anti-European populists. That’s good news. We need you for a strong #Europe!” it read.

In the Netherlands’s extremely fractured system of proportional representation — 28 parties ran and 13 are likely to have positions in the 150-seat lower house of Parliament — the results were, not atypically, something of a dog’s breakfast.

Mr. Rutte’s party lost seats, even as it came out on top, and will need to join forces with several others in order to wield power. Virtually all parties said they would not work with Mr. Wilders in a coalition — so toxic he remains — though his positions are likely to infuse parliamentary debate.

“Rutte has not seen the last of me yet!” Mr. Wilders wrote on Twitter, and indeed his anti-immigrant message, which dominated much of the campaign, was not likely to go away.

It came into particularly sharp relief on the eve of the election, when Turkey’s foreign minister sought to enter the Netherlands to rally support among Turks in Rotterdam for a referendum to increase the power of the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Dutch officials refused him landing rights.

Mr. Wilders, who has seemed to relish being called the “Dutch Donald Trump,” has been so extreme that some appear to have thought twice about supporting him.

He has called for banning the Quran because he compares it to Hitler’s work “Mein Kampf,” which the Netherlands banned, and for closing mosques and Islamic cultural centers and schools.

Election turnout was high, with polling places seeing a steady stream of voters from early morning until the polls closed at 9 p.m. Of the 12.9 million Dutch citizens eligible to cast ballots, more than 80 percent voted.

Some polling places ran out of ballots and called for additional ones to be delivered. There were so many candidates listed that the ballots were as voluminous as bath towels and had to be folded many times over to fit into the ballot box.

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Supporters of the Green Party reacted in The Hague on Wednesday.CreditRobin Van Lonkhuijsen/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The percentage of the vote that a party receives translates into the number of seats it will get in Parliament. If a party gets 10 percent of the total votes, it gets 10 percent of seats in the 150-seat Parliament, given to its first 15 candidates listed on the ballot.

The election was a success for the left-leaning Green Party, led by 30-year-old Jesse Klaver, a relative political newcomer, whose leadership at least tripled the party’s seats, making it the fifth-place finisher and potentially a part of the government.

Mr. Klaver ran specifically on an anti-populist platform and worked hard to turn out first-time voters.

“In these elections there was an overwhelming attention from the foreign press, which is understandable because Brexit happened and Trump was elected, and because France, Germany and maybe Italy will be holding elections,” Mr. Klaver said. “They asked us: Will populism break through in the Netherlands?”

The crowd shouted: “No.”

“That is the answer that we have for the whole of Europe: Populism did not break through,” Mr. Klaver said.

Another striking development was the first-time election of former Labor Party members, all three of Turkish background, who formed a new party, Denk (which means “think”). It will be the only ethnic party in the Dutch Parliament and is a reminder that Turks are the largest immigrant community in the Netherlands. There are roughly 400,000 first, second, or third-generation Turkish immigrants in the nation.

The big loser was the center-left Labor Party, which was expected to drop from being the second largest party in Parliament, with 38 seats and a position as Mr. Rutte’s coalition partner. The party was expected to win only nine seats.

In past elections the impact of extremist right-leaning parties has been largely blunted by a political system that for more than a century has resulted in governance by coalition.

This year’s election may give the Netherlands its most fragmented government in history. Some political analysts believe it could take weeks or months to form a government and that the governing coalition will be fragile.

In Belgium, which has a similar political system as the Netherlands, it famously took nearly a year and a half after inconclusive elections in June 2010 to form a government.

This Is A Great Article About Czech WW-2 History Filled With Excellent Information

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS ONE THAT I FOUND AT ‘RADIO PRAHA’ (PRAGUE)

MINES, SAND AND HEAT – CZECHS DEFENDING TOBRUK

This week the world war veteran and former Radio Prague chief editor Bedřich Utitz died. In the fight against Hitlerdeutschland was Utitz among other things in Tobruk deployed. The defense of this desert fortress in western Libya against the Afrikakorps of Erwin Rommel plays an important role in Czech historiography. There, an infantry brigade with soldiers from Czechoslovakia was deployed for the first time in World War II. In the following more about these soladts and the battle for Tobruk.

Jindřich Marek (Photo: Prokop Havel, Archives of Czech Rundfunk)spring 1941. The Italians and Germans are always trying to take Tobruk. It is the Italians themselves, who built the fortress with several defenses.Almost eight months, the Allies successfully defy the attacks. But why is this Tobruk so important in the Second World War? Jindřich Marek is a journalist and historian:

“It was important because the Germans wanted to penetrate to the Suez Canal and then to the oil in Iraq, Azerbaijan and other places. Erwin Rommel, the commander of the German and Italian armed forces in North Africa, quickly reached Suez, but the division in Tobruk was stuck in his throat. The port was important for the supply of the troops. That the Allies could defend the fortress caused him great problems. And so it became an important battlefield from a neighboring site. “

Tobruk (Photo: Public Domain) Tobruk (Photo: Public Domain)Tobruk is at this time the only deep sea port between Tripoli and Alexandria. As a colonial power, Italy built a protective belt around the city before the war. It is long, 50 km long, with shelters, trenches and machine-gun positions. In September 1940, Italy began an attack on Egypt under British protection. But the ending for the troops of Mussolini ends with a disaster. The Allies can drive the Italians far back to Libya and occupy, among others, Tobruk. Then the British army got into a dilemma at the beginning of 1941, because it wants to help the Greeks fight the Italians.

“There were two variants: either to continue the offensive in North Africa or to withdraw some of the Australian and New Zealand troops to Greece. It was then probably a mistake that the forces in North Africa were weakened. For the British had no success in Greece, and not in North Africa, “ says historian Marek.

Erwin Rommel (Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-785-0287-08 / CC-BY-SA 3.0)It is Erwin Rommel, who makes a kind of Blitzkrieg in the desert. The German propaganda celebrates the advance, but Tobruk simply does not want to fall. As this fortress becomes more and more important, the British form volunteers from other countries. Thus also Hitler’s opponents from the German-occupied “Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia” as well as Slovakia.

From icy Russia to the desert

The Czechs and Slovaks arrive on Haifa in today’s Israel, where the unity is to come. Jan Perl, as a 16-year-old youth, fled to Poland and fought there against the Wehrmacht, but was then captured by the Red Army. At the time, there is the German-Soviet non-aggression pact. Perl is lucky that he does not come to a camp in Siberia. Instead, in 1941 he was given the opportunity to join the Czechoslovakian brigade in the Middle East. The journey takes the train to the Black Sea port of Odessa. Then by ship to Istanbul and to the south of Turkey. A few years ago, Jan Perl described his story in the Czech Republic’s domestic broadcasts:

Jan Perl (Photo: Archivpost bellum)“I remember that we waited in the port of Mersin for other Czechs and Slovaks from Russia. But I do not know how many we were ultimately when we were shipped to Haifa. There we joined the eighth British army of Marshal Montgomery and received uniforms. It was unbelievably hot, because the desert wind Chamsin drove temperatures to 50 degrees. When we started off in Russia, the thermometer showed minus 30 degrees. It was exactly May 1, 1941. A few days later, we were sent to the army of Colonel Klapálek to Alexandria in Egypt. There we were to guard a British camp with German war prisoners. “

The Czechoslovakian brigade is colorful. The core is formed by soldiers who want to fight in France. Added to this are other refugees from the Protectorate, including many Jews whose goal is Palestine. And to the end, as Jan Perl, the participants of the unsuccessful struggle in Poland, which are freed from the Soviet internment, are. Most of them need an educated military training. They get it in Alexandria. Stanislav Hnělička, who died in November, also remembered his commitment to North Africa some time ago:

Stanislav Hnělička (Photo: Barbora Němcová) Stanislav Hnělička (Photo: Barbora Němcová)“The training period was very hard. We were given every second night to guard Italian and German war prisoners. So one day so training, the second we had free. But from the evening we had to push guard. We did not get out of the camp at all. “

Parts of the Czechoslovakian Brigade are then deployed for the first time in Syria and Lebanon. In October 1941 the allies of Hitler were defeated there. And so Klapálek’s troops are shipped from Alexandria to Tobruk. Historian Jindřich Marek:

“On October 21, the bulk of the brigade was brought to Tobruk on two torpedobots.There were 634 men who went ashore at night. “

On gum ishes through the minefields

Tobruk is surrounded by four Italian divisions and a German one. The Czechs and Slovaks are grouped together with a Polish unit. In the siege situation, security is first and foremost pushed. In the night, they always fail to the enemy line. One of them is Ladislav Snídal, then 26 years old. He died already in 2001, but an interview with him is in the archive of the Rundfunks:

Czech troop at Tobruk (Photo: Public Domain) Czech troops at Tobruk (Photo: Public Domain) “Five or six soldiers were selected and specially equipped for exploring. They got shoes with rubber soles and a jute cover for the helmet. The equipment had to be lashed, so that no sound could be heard. As weapons, one had a Tommy Gun, the forerunner of the machine gun, and grenades. The commander also had a pistol. So we sneaked away. We had to go through several mining fields. And then we simply overheard the enemy to get our information. “

The German propaganda designates the defenders of Tobruk contemptuously as “Desert Rats”, that is, Wüstenratten. They turn the tables and make their mark. In contrast to the actual wizards, however, they suffer from the permanent lack of water. This is rationed to one liter per day and man:

Tobruk (Photo: Public Domain) Tobruk (Photo: Public Domain) “Many soldiers had skin diseases because they could not wash. We got scurvy because we did not have enough fresh to eat. And there were also mental illnesses. Some had problems to be separated from the family as long as they had not seen their home. And there was the burden of staying in the bunkers or on the front line, where you could enter a mine at any moment. “

For the Czechs and the Slovaks, the situation is still a burden for another reason: their states are not official war soldiers.

“It was clear to us that in the event of a defeat there would not have been a war for us. This was different for the Poles in unit. We also had fear about our relatives. We swore, therefore, that we should never be taken prisoner. We did not know how we had managed this in an emergency. But that was the decision “ , says Stanislav Hnělička.

Tobruk is finally free

Karel Klapálek (Photo: ČT24) Karel Klapálek (Photo: ČT24) But fortunately it does not happen. On November 21, 1941, it was possible to break the siege ring for the first time. A few days later, a corridor to the British troops was built in Egypt. At the beginning of December Rommel withdrew his troops, and Tobruk is free – after 230 days of siege. The 11th Czechoslovak infantry brigade is still on the ground until April 1942 and is attacked several times. But the war has not yet come to an end. The Klápalek brigade is trained for air defense and again in Tobruk in 1943.

In May of the year, Rommel’s troops surrender, and the Czechoslovakian unit is shipped to Great Britain. There, Klapálek and his people are honored with high military orders, but the brigade is dissolved. As a result, the soldiers are fighting against Hitler at different warships.

After the war they were also honored in the liberated Czechoslovakia. But when the Communists took over the power, the propaganda of the heroes quickly made alleged collaborators with the class enemy. Many of them go to jail. The full rehabilitation takes place only after the political turn of 1989.

Public Transportation Nice, Côte d’Azur French Riviera

Source: Public Transportation Nice, Côte d’Azur French Riviera    THIS ARTICLE IS FROM THE BLOG SITE OF MS. PENNEY VANDERBILT—PLEASE CHECK OUT HER SITE IF YOU LIKE TRAINS AND OR TRAVEL OR ARE A FAN OF TRANSPORTATION LOGISTICS.

French Government Proves It Will Not Tolerate Free Speech Or Truth Concerning Islamic Terrorism?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN NEWS)

Marine Le Pen loses immunity over violent ISIS images

(CNN)Marine Le Pen’s bid to become the next French president has hit another stumble after members of the European Parliament voted to lift her immunity from prosecution.

The move, formally confirmed on Thursday, will allow French prosecutors to investigate her over tweets she sent in December 2015, which showed images of killings by ISIS militants.
French law prohibits the distribution of violent images or incitement of terrorism.
Announcing the result of the vote on whether to lift the immunity, Parliamentary President Antonio Tajani said a “clear majority” of members backed the motion.
Le Pen declined to comment when contacted by CNN.
As an MEP, Le Pen, leader of the National Front, enjoys immunity which covers freedom of speech — but that immunity can be lifted if a request is made by the authorities of the person’s member state.
In this case, the request was made by a prosecutor in Nanterre, in the west of Paris.
Under French law, the maximum penalty for distributing violent images is three years in prison and a fine of up to €75,000 ($79,000).
The lifting of her immunity relates to this case only and any action is unlikely to occur before the first round of voting on April 23.
Le Pen’s chief of staff under investigation 02:06
This is not the first time Le Pen’s immunity has been lifted by the EU Parliament, which also took a similar step in 2013.
That allowed her to be prosecuted in 2015 with “incitement to discrimination over people’s religious beliefs” after she compared Muslims praying in public to the Nazi occupation of France during the Second World War. She was acquitted by the court in Lyon.
Le Pen is already under scrutiny over allegations that members of her staff were paid for non-existent jobs at the European Parliament.
Le Pen initially admitted they had been paid while not working, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) said. She later denied having said so.

Rape: Is There Such A Thing As A ‘Culture’ Of Rape?

 

A couple of days ago one of our fellow Word Press Bloggers ( chanportuguesa.wordpress.com ) left me a comment about an article I had reblogged a couple of weeks before. The article I had reblogged was out of Portugal and the content matter was about a 67-year-old homeless woman who was raped and beaten by a ‘refugee’ who was from North Africa. The article said this man who is in his twenties was a person that was supposed to have been sent to Italy but Italy refused to let him in so Portugal ended up having to keep him. The articles spoke of how messed up Portugal’s political system is in that their own citizens like this 67-year-old woman were having to sleep in the streets yet the government was giving food, clothing and housing to refugees. I know that this is exactly how things are done here in the U.S. so what he was saying sounds familiar as this is how our government has operated for decades now.

 

The following comment is the reason that I thought to do this article today, they make a very good point and I promised I would do this article concerning his comment. When I had posted this reblogged article I had made a comment about the ‘rape culture’ concerning the ‘refugee’, here is the quote. “I am curious to know which culture is that? What  is your though on this article? French troops raped starving children in Central Africa.” Before I started this article I decided to look up the word rape in the online dictionary to see exactly how it is defined, the following is what it had to say. “Rape: origin of rape: Middle English/Anglo-French/Latin from 1250-1300 A.D..” Noun: unlawful sexual intercourse or any other sexual penetration of the vigina, anus, or mouth of another person, with or without force, by a sex organ or other body part, or foreign object, without the consent of the victim.” The article said that this young man beat her in the face breaking several facial bones and he forced sex upon her. To me, it does sound like this young man without a doubt is guilty of what could be described as a ‘text book’ rape of this poor old lady, but this is just my opinion, others may somehow have a different opinion though.

 

Our fellow Blogger said at the end of his comment “French troops raped starving children in Central Africa.” This may be true, it may not, I do not personally know one way or the other. If this has happened it would not surprise me though. It does seem that I remember reading an article or two about a year ago where such things were mentioned, but were those articles truthful, I wasn’t there, I do not know. I also remember reading articles over the past few years where U.N. troops were blamed for this exact same crimes/sins. Were those true? Unfortunately it sounded like it was. I know that in many cultures during armed conflicts that soldiers from many different countries have used rape as a weapon against the people they are fighting against. Here in the States our ‘National Culture’ says that none of our troops would ever do such a thing, but there is always some tares among the wheat. To me, rape is a moral issue. Many will say I am wrong, it is only a physical issue, really, it is both. But if a person, soldier or not, is a moral person, they will not touch another person in this manner. What I am saying is that if a person is brought up in a religion that teaches that rape is a sin and the person who commits such a sin must be executed, a devout person of that religion will never do such harm to another person.

 

Now, back to this refugee in Portugal who raped and beat this 67-year-old homeless woman. I know that some people will jump to the conclusion that because he is from North Africa that I am coming down on African or upon Black culture, no, that is not correct. The culture I was referring to in this case is his religion which is that of Islam. I know that I just angered a lot of folks with that statement yet if you will keep reading for a couple more moments you will see more clearly why I have said that. Look at the street level of the Islamic countries, look at that culture concerning women, look at how they are treated. I know that there are some folks who believe in Islam who are educated and kind toward their wives and children so this is not a ‘blanket’ condemnation of Islam. There are good and bad people within every religion on Earth. But, think about this reality for a moment please. Think about the Islamic countries where a woman can not go out of her house without a male relative beside her. I have heard and read articles from Islamic men who believe that if a woman goes out of her house on her own she is just asking to be raped, why else would they go out alone they say. Even if they are hand in hand with their husband and they are showing more skin than a Burka allows, they are a whore. Is this a morality issue on the part of women? Or is it a maturity or moral fallacy of the men, or even of their religion that they were raised in?

 

There is no doubt that morality throughout the world is decreasing rapidly and not just in the Islamic world. Here in the States there was a time when women dressed much more modestly, and so did the men. There was a time when it was considered a sin if you could see a woman’s ankle below her dress and dresses with a v-neck which showed cleavage was scandalous. Yet there was also a time when the men always wore long-sleeved shirts and only long pants, no shorts were allowed and men never took off their shirts in public. Yet it is my assertion that those who sexually attack others are themselves very morally weak. Even if you come from a culture like Islam it is not okay for anyone to force themselves upon another person. It is an obvious truth that when you take Islamic men out of  an Islamic culture and place them in a culture like France, Italy, or Portugal that a huge amount of these morales adult male children think it is perfectly okay to assault ‘single’ women and even very young girls. The world is facing a moral decline yet this article today is only about the evil in the lack of sexual morals. We have also read several times during the past couple of years where in India where Hindu men have been gang raping young women and girls literally to death. It is rather common to hear of the rape cultures within the body of Africa where no religion seems to be at fault. Here in the States we usually only hear of cases where Priests commit these sins on young children.

 

No group is without sin because each group, each religion, is made up of individuals, we stand or fall on our individual merit, or the lack thereof. The reason that today’s article highlights the Islamic culture is because of their teachings. Not so much the teachings of the Quran which is a “Book of the Saying” of the Prophet Muhammad, the huge issues are concerning the Book called the “Hadith” which is the “actions” of the Prophet Muhammad. They are taught from birth that a ‘good’ believer must emulate the actions of their Prophet. Please read this book folks, their Prophet should be the very last person that any parent would ever want their child to act like. The people of Islam know these facts, they tend to try to hide this truth from ‘the western world’. If you really wish to understand why I believe Islam teaches its male followers to perform their lives with such violence toward everyone, especially women and young girls. I know of no other major ‘religion’ that tells their followers to be so violent toward other people that is why many folks I have spoken with do not even consider Islam to be a ‘religion’, they believe that it is no more than a Demonic Cult.

Fury Rises in France Over Accusations Police Beat and Raped a Black Man

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

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The remains of a car on Tuesday after it was burned the night before by protesters in Aulnay-sous-Bois, north of Paris. CreditAlex Turnball/Associated Press

PARIS — Youths set cars and trash bins ablaze and vandalized buildings in suburbs around Paris on Wednesday, venting rage for the fourth straight day over accusations that police officers had beaten and raped a young black man they arrested last week.

The police have used tear gas several times over the four days to disperse angry crowds, and in one instance officers fired live rounds into the air as warning shots, a rare occurrence in France. Five people were convicted on Wednesday evening of “ambushing” police forces. But there have also been peaceful marches in and around Paris to protest the arrest, and the violent unrest has waned.

The unrest has not approached the scale of violence that shook France for weeks in 2005. But even so, it reflects persistent tensions between the police and residents in suburbs where people from immigrant backgrounds are often concentrated and where unemployment is high, especially among young people.

The arrest last Thursday took place in one such suburb, Aulnay-sous-Bois, which is not far from where the 2005 trouble started: Clichy-sous-Bois, where two teenagers died fleeing the police. Youths in the area complain about frequent racial profiling by the police, who in turn cite the difficulties and dangers they face working in hostile neighborhoods.

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A similar case in August, when Adama Traoré, a 24-year-old black man, died of asphyxiation in custody after fleeing a police identification check, set off days of violent clashes in another town north of Paris, Beaumont-sur-Oise.
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President François Hollande on Tuesday with the 22-year-old man whose arrest last week ignited the protests.CreditArnaud Journois/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In a sign that the authorities were eager to defuse this week’s unrest, President François Hollande paid a hospital visit on Tuesday to the 22-year-old man whose arrest ignited the protests. In video filmed by the newspaper Le Parisien, Mr. Hollande said the young man was known by the local authorities for his “exemplary conduct.”

“The judiciary has taken up the matter; it must be trusted,” Mr. Hollande said, adding that it would “ensure that the truth is known.”

The young man and his family have urged protesters to avoid violence.

Police officers arrested him as they were checking the identification of a dozen young men they suspected of dealing drugs; there is security camera footage of part of the encounter. Speaking to the BFM TV news channel in the days that followed, the young man said that the police officers had insulted and hit him and that one of them “took his baton and shoved it into my buttocks.”

The man was hospitalized with serious injuries to his rectum and bruises on his face and skull.

The four officers, all in their 20s and 30s, were suspended and placed under formal investigation, but were not detained. All four were charged with assault, and one was charged with rape.

Advocacy groups say the authorities have been slow to prosecute police officers accused of using excessive violence. According to a report published by one group last year, 63 people were injured and 26 died from police violence in France from 2005 to 2015, but only seven officers were convicted in those cases.

France’s defender of rights, an independent ombudsman whose office monitors civil and human rights, has also opened an investigation of the episode last week.

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Demonstrators marched on Monday in the streets of Aulnay-sous-Bois. CreditMilos Krivokapic/Associated Press

The defender’s office and civil rights groups have complained for years that the police conduct ID checks without keeping records to show whether they were done for “objective and verifiable reasons.” In a recent study, the defender’s office found that the probability of being stopped by the police for an ID check was 20 times as high for young men who were “perceived as black or Arab” as it was for the general population. Advocates have called for making the police more accountable, and are angry that the Socialist government has dropped one promised measure, to have officers issue receipts when they check IDs.

Luc Poignant, a police union spokesman, said that it had become difficult for officers to work effectively in neighborhoods where they no longer have normal day-to-day interactions with residents. “When we go back there, it’s felt as an intrusion,” he said.

Still, he said, if the investigation finds that the four officers involved in the arrest last week deliberately did what they are accused of, they have no place on the police force. The officers have said that the young man’s injuries were accidental.

Bruno Beschizza, the right-wing mayor of Aulnay-sous-Bois, told France Info radio on Wednesday that it was crucial to “rebuild trust” between residents and the police, in light of what he called a “serious, intolerable, unacceptable act.” Mr. Beschizza, a former police officer and police union representative, said he would install more security cameras around his city.

The arrest last week and the unrest in the days since comes at a time when tensions have also been rising between the police and the government.

Thousands of officers protested across the country in October after two officers were seriously burned by firebombs in Viry-Châtillon, a struggling suburb south of Paris. A bill introduced after that episode to give officers more leeway to use firearms in self-defense was discussed in Parliament on Wednesday.

Police unions have repeatedly called for increased police budgets and have complained of difficult working conditions, especially when dealing with protests or with terrorist attacks.

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French President Hollande Says French Values Must Be Defended In Cold War Climate

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BLOOMBERG NEWS)

Hollande Says France Must Defend Values in Cold War Climate

December 31, 2016, 3:03 PM EST
  • Outgoing French president sees democracy, freedom at risk
  • Final New Year’s address targets National Front’s Le Pen

French President Francois Hollande tells the French they have values to defend in the context of a new Cold War — a reference to both geopolitics and the country’s looming presidential election.

“There are moments in history when everything can be toppled. We are living through one of those periods,” Hollande said in a televised speech from Paris. “Democracy, freedom, Europe and even peace — all of these things have become vulnerable, reversible. We saw it with Brexit and with the U.S. election in November.”

Hollande, who came to power in May 2012, bowed out of France’s 2017 presidential race earlier this month, meaning today’s New Year’s eve address to the nation will be his last as head of state. The Socialist leader insisted to French voters that they have a responsibility on the global stage when they cast their ballots.

“France is open to the world, it is European,” Hollande said. “It is not possible to imagine our country crouching behind walls, reduced to its domestic self, returning to a national currency and increasingly discriminating based on peoples’ origins. It would no longer be France. That is what is at stake.”

Those remarks directly targeted the policies of National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who is committed to pulling France out of the euro, increasing restrictions on immigration, as well as putting up tariff barriers.

“Our main enemy is our doubt. You must have confidence in yourselves,” Hollande said.

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France Increases Security At Christmas Markets After Berlin Truck Attack: 9 Murdered

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

France increases security at Christmas markets after Berlin truck incident

France will increase security at Christmas markets across the country after a truck plowed into people at a seasonal market in Berlin on Monday, killing at least nine people, the Interior Ministry said.

“Franco-German cooperation will continue with no respite so that democracies win the war against those who want to strike at our values and freedoms,” the ministry said in a statement.

“All security forces will keep to a maximum level of vigilance. Security at Christmas markets will be reinforced with immediate effect.”

(Reporting by John Irish, editing by G Crosse)

THE WILD HORSE

 

Wild horse etched upon a caves back wall

What an honor for all who get to see you

Six thousand or so  odd years ago

In-cased within a man-made stall

Yet the fury of the steed shows proudly

The fire in your eyes and the furrow of brow

Your chest and abs all tight with anticipation

Lightning flashing from your hooves of glory then and now

To be brought out into the yellow light

Now to be seen for the first time of clear sight

As well as for you to be given sight to first see

For whom is more thankful

The seer  or the seen

Once only graced to a French magnet

Now even us surfs your beauty we see

You in my dreams, bare back and bridled only

The stars together for the first time we see

I honor the hand which with thee did draw

I honor the fury which you contain within

Folklore from long ago well said

Wild horses, wild women, and strong whiskey

These the things which make a life fully lived

In my dreams we ride across the Mediterranean sand

Though you were just painted upon a back cave wall