Paris riots show difficulty of fighting warming with taxes


Museums, theaters and shops in Paris announced they would close Saturday as a precaution - including the city's famed Eiffel Tower.

On Saturday, French police cracked down on protesters around the famous Champs-Elysees in Paris with tear gas and water cannons.

The "yellow vest" protests began November 17 over the government plan to raise taxes on diesel and gasoline, but by the time Macron bowed to three weeks of violence and abandoned the new fuel tax, protesters were demanding much more.

The National Opera advised, "Given the events announced in Paris on Saturday, the Opera Bastille and Palais Garnier will be closed and all public activities are cancelled".

Cleanup operations continue under the message, "The Yellow Vests will Triumph" written on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

"I am ready to look at all measures that will help raise the pay of those on the minimum wage without doing excessive damage to our competitiveness and businesses", Philippe told the parliament's upper house.

The FNSEA farmers' union said it would fight to help French farmers earn a better income but would not officially be joining forces with the "yellow vests" - protesters wearing the high-visibility vests that French motorists are required to keep in their cars.

But experts say the government may have reacted too late to the street protests, a regular feature of French political life which have repeatedly forced Macron's predecessors into U-turns.

"No tax deserves to put civil peace in danger", Philippe said.

"We can not take the risk when we know the threat", Culture Minister Franck Riester told RTL radio, adding that far-right and far-left agitators were planning to hijack rallies by "yellow vest" protesters in Paris.

The Paris prefecture asked local Paris authorities to prepare their districts for violence.

Protests scheduled for Saturday had not been called off and Le Figaro reported 65,000 police officers and law enforcement personnel - and other "exceptional" resources - had been mobilized ahead of any potential disruption.

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"France is fed up!" French teacher and journalist Marie Brunerie tells us what the movement is really all about. "Meet in Paris on December 8", read one group's banner.

The discreet one-day tour of France's startup scene is the result of two months of intense work by the country's export promotion agency Business France, at the invitation of Macron, who has organised a dinner at the Elysee Palace later on Thursday.

"These vehicles can be very useful to protect buildings", said Stanislas Gaudon, head of the Alliance police union.

Protesters angry about rising taxes clashed with French police for a third straight weekend.

As Libération, a French daily newspaper, described, the mobilization emerged without a leader or a formal demonstration, and without a specific list of demands.

After the tax relief on the rich, Macron's attitude towards "the people" oscillated between contempt and sheer blindness toward the most economically fragile.

Tax hikes introduced by Mr Macron were part of the president's effort to cut carbon emissions by 40 per cent by 2030 and boost clean energy, in line with the agreement.

Philippe said in Paris and other places across France, "we are facing people who don't come to protest but to destroy".

The former investment banker, who campaigned for deep pro-business economic reforms, is accused of being the "president for the rich" and of being estranged from the working classes.

In a recent television interview, the French president stressed that "I do not do policy or diplomacy via tweets".

Amid his domestic woes, Macron also saw his "friend" US President Donald Trump weigh in on Twitter. But the country also needs the free market reforms that Macron has promised and that the protesters have added to their list of grievances.

As it did last weekend, the U.S. Embassy advised Americans to avoid the demonstrations.