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Anti-François Hollande protests in Paris degenerate into violence | World news | theguardian.com

Anti-François Hollande protests in Paris degenerate into violence | World news | theguardian.com.

Ant-François Hollande protests in Paris

‘You, President, get out’: anti-François Hollande protests in Paris. Photograph: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters

Nineteen police officers were injured and 250 people detained as a protest in Paris against President François Hollande‘s leadership degenerated into violence, police have said.

Police said that none of the injuries was critical. The numbers of injuries and detentions are high compared with other protests in recent weeks expressing discontent with Hollande, who is particularly unpopular for his handling of the economy.

Police said 17,000 people took part in Sunday’s largely peaceful protest, while organisers put the number several times higher.

Fifty associations were involved, including conservative and far-right groups. Also present were supporters of the provocateur-comic Dieudonné, who has been repeatedly convicted of antisemitism and racism.

Keystone XL southern leg opens – Business – CBC News

Keystone XL southern leg opens – Business – CBC News.

The main portion of the Keystone XL still requires approval from the Obama White House.The main portion of the Keystone XL still requires approval from the Obama White House. (The Associated Press)

The southern portion of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline officially opened on Wednesday, pumping oil from the distribution hub of Cushing, Okla., to refineries on the American Gulf Coast.

Calgary-based TransCanada announced the news on its website Wednesday. At about 10:45 a.m. central time, the Gulf Coast Project began delivering crude oil to the pipeline company’s refining customers.

“This is a very important milestone for TransCanada, our shippers and Gulf Coast refiners who have been waiting for a pipeline to supply oil directly from Cushing,” TransCanada CEO Russ Girling said.

The 783-kilometre stretch of pipeline in the American South cost $2.3 billion to develop and construct. The 36-inch pipeline that can transport as much as 830,000 barrels of oil per day​.

More opposition

The shorter leg will begin transporting on average about 300,000 barrels of oil daily and should end the year at an average of about 520,000 barrels, TransCanada’s Alex Pourbaix said.

TransCanada was trumpeting the opening of the pipeline as a watershed moment on Wednesday, but the company still faces numerous hurdles getting the rest of the Keystone XL pipeline approved.

The remaining portion of the pipeline is still seeking final approval from the U.S. government. When and if it’s completed, it will ship Canadian oil more than 1,800 kilometres from Hardisty, Alta., through six U.S. states to the Gulf of Mexico for refining and export.

Environmentalists have rallied against the project, urging U.S. President Barack Obama to stop its construction. But it’s backers say it will be an economic boom for both countries and reduce North America’s dependence on foreign oil from more hostile parts of the globe.

Jane Kleeb, of Bold Nebraska, a group that has opposed the Keystone pipeline, said the Gulf Coast segment presented a “huge risk” to people along the route noting problems flagged by the federal pipeline regulator during construction.

“Citizens are watching this pipeline like a hawk,” Kleeb vowed.

Oil prices rose

Oil prices were boosted by the opening of the southern leg of the Keystone pipeline.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery rose $1.76, or 1.9 per cent, to close at $96.73 US a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil last closed above $96 a barrel on Dec. 31.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, gained $1.54, or 1.4 per cent, to US$108.27 on the ICE Futures exchange in London. Meanwhile, natural gas futures shot up almost six per cent as temperatures in many parts of the U.S. Northeast dropped well below freezing and strong demand tapped the region’s supplies of natural gas.

Protest erupts in Tunisia amid discontent – Africa – Al Jazeera English

Protest erupts in Tunisia amid discontent – Africa – Al Jazeera English.

Clashes have erupted in central Tunisia between police and demonstrators as instability continues to plague the North African country.Dozens of protesters tried on Wednesday to force their way into the offices of the ruling Islamist party Ennahda in the town of Kasserine, but were pushed away by tear gas fired by police, an AFP journalist reported.

Central Tunisia has long suffered from neglect and a lack of opportunity, which were driving factors behind the popular uprising that began in nearby Sidi Bouzid in 2011, when a young street vendor set himself on fire in protest at his impoverished circumstances.

It was on Wednesday exactly three years ago that the first protester was killed in Kasserine during the uprising in the Arab Spring’s birthplace that toppled the long-time ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Kasserine is one of the poorest regions of Tunisia and was a hotbed of unrest during the revolt.

In the village of Thala, which lies in the Kasserine region and had already witnessed clashes on Tuesday evening, protesters attacked a police post, partially burning it and driving away the security forces, witnesses said.

Shops and public offices remained closed in Kasserine as hundreds protested in the streets on Wednesday. They shouted slogans such as “The people want the fall of the regime”, the rallying cry of the Arab Spring.

A policeman was injured during the clashes after he was hit by a tear gas canister fired at him by one of his colleagues.

Al Jazeera’s Youssef Gaigi, reporting from Tunis on Wednesday, said conditions had not improved since the 2011 mass protests.

“People continue to pay a very high price for the revolution. Unemployment is high and conditions have worsened,” he said.

The better living conditions sought by many young Tunisians have failed to materialise, resulting in discontent over new taxes and government shortcomings.

Anger has been growing of late over proposed 2014 budget, which is critics say will negatively affect the middle and working classes through increases in taxes and cuts in subsidies.

Met police want water cannon ready to use in Britain by summer | UK news | theguardian.com

Met police want water cannon ready to use in Britain by summer | UK news | theguardian.com.

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson wrote to Theresa May about water cannon this week: ‘I am aware you have declined to make funds available.’ Photograph: Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images

Britain’s biggest police force wants water cannon ready to be used on the streets of mainland Britain by this summer, official letters reveal.

They also show that a request for the government to fund the controversial purchase has been rejected by the home secretary,Theresa May.

Public consultations on the deployment of water cannon will begin within weeks and a formal decision made next month.

Water cannon have not previously been available to police on mainland Britain, and their use has been limited to Northern Ireland.

In a letter sent on Monday by Johnson to May, the London mayor explains his reasoning, saying it is a direct result of the 2011 riots that started in London before spreading, becoming the most serious and widespread riots to hit England in decades.

Ultimately the home secretary will have to licence the acquisition of water cannon for use on the capital’s streets. Critics warn it is a step towards the militarisation of the police and could be used to stifle the democratic right to protest.

In his letter, dated 6 January 2014, Johnson writes: “Following the disorder in August 2011, both the Metropolitan police service and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary stated that there are some circumstances where water cannon may be of use in future.

“Following briefing by the [Met] commissioner I am broadly convinced of the value of having water cannon available to the MPS [Metropolitan police service] for those circumstances where its absence would lead to greater disorder or the use of more extreme force.”

The Met commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, has pledged that water cannon would be “rarely used and rarely seen”, the letter says.

His letter to May, his Conservative colleague, then discusses funding: “Finally, I am aware that you have declined to make funds available for purchasing the interim water cannon solution as a national asset.

“Subject to the public engagement process … I am happy to make the necessary funds available to the MPS for the most economical interim solution that allows the commissioner to meet his desire to prevent disorder on the streets. I would expect to do this in February, following the [public] engagement.”

In his letter London’s mayor says there is public support for the deployment of water cannon.

A further letter written on Tuesday by Stephen Greenhalgh, deputy mayor for policing, says a formal decision to go ahead with water cannon will be made next month.

Greenhalgh wants public consultation to begin within weeks, which will involve public meetings and talks with MPs, councillors and what he describes as “stakeholders”.

The mayor’s office says water cannon would only be used in “the most extreme circumstances”.

Greenhalgh’s letter was written to Labour’s Joanne McCartney, chair of the London assembly’s police and crime committee.

The letter says: “In order to ensure that water cannon is available by next summer, something which the commissioner has been calling for, it is important that the process of engagement starts soon.”

The Green party London assembly member Lady Jones said: “Allowing water cannon on the streets of London is a step in the wrong direction towards arming our police like a military force, and it goes against our great tradition of an unarmed police service.

“People have a democratic right to protest and my fear is that once the mayor allows these weapons on to our streets we will see them being used against people exercising their legal right to protest.”

It is believed the Met are in talks with German companies about supplying water cannon in time for this summer.

The Met has approached companies about hiring or buying second-hand water cannons from overseas to have the machines available as soon as possible.

The Met is interested in acquiring around three units.

In a letter to Jones, assistant commissioner Mark Rowley detailed the training required. Rowley wrote in July 2013 that no more than 20 staff would need to be trained in the use of water cannon and another 200 riot officers would need to be trained in how to quell disorder while working alongside water cannons.

Rowley’s letter said the use of water cannon would require authorisation by an officer of the rank of commander.

The home secretary must authorise the acquisition of water cannon for use on the mainland and May has already signalled her sympathy for the controversial tactic.

Some within the Met have privately told the Guardian they are sceptical about the need and effectiveness of water cannon on London’s streets. They say streets here are much narrower than in Europe, where water cannon are already in use, thus making them less effective and potentially vulnerable to capture. They also say water cannon fire jets that could prove indiscriminate and strike innocent members of a crowd.

Tense Egypt set for mass rival protests – Middle East – Al Jazeera English

Tense Egypt set for mass rival protests – Middle East – Al Jazeera English.

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