French Yellow Vests bite the bullet to stand in local elections

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Yellow Vests meet in the Vosges to plan electoral strategy. Yellow Vests meet in the Vosges to plan electoral strategy.

This weekend, like every weekend for just more than a year, France’s ‘Yellow Vest’ demonstrators will hold their weekly nationwide protests over social inequalities, the declining living standards of low- and middle-income earners, the jobless and pensioners, against the privileges of the social and political elite, and for a greater participative exercise of democracy. But despite its stamina, many in the eclectic movement, which has no politically organised structure, are seeking a new way forward. In the Vosges département in north-east France, a fiefdom of the Right for decades, a group of 'Yellow Vests' have decided to bite the bullet and stand in local elections due in March 2020, a move that would once have been anathema to them. Mathilde Goanec reports from the Vosges.

Chelsea star Kanté in ‘sack your agent or he’ll be killed’ claim

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N’Golo Kanté after France beat Uruguay in the quarter finals on their way to winning the World Cup in Russia in 2018. © Reuters N’Golo Kanté after France beat Uruguay in the quarter finals on their way to winning the World Cup in Russia in 2018. © Reuters

In a recording obtained by Mediapart, an advisor to Chelsea star N'Golo Kanté admits putting pressure on the World Cup-winning French international footballer in 2017 over a dispute involving the sharing out of commissions linked to the player's move from Leicester City to the London club. The advisor says that his brother, who was also present, “perhaps” had a “gun” on him at the time of the discussion, in which deaths threats were allegedly made in relation to Kanté's agent. Yann Philippin and Matthieu Suc investigate a popular French player who has been the subject of a merciless fight between members of his entourage, a battle involving huge sums of money and offshore companies in Jersey.

'We're creating new ideas': US socialists plan the return of the Left in America

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Maria Svart is the national director of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), an activist organisation funded by its members, whose numbers have swollen tenfold since Donald Trump became president. Mediapart's New York correspondent Mathieu Magnaudeix interviewed her about the Democratic primary candidate Bernie Sanders, the rising star on the Left congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and the return of the Left in the United States.

The real story behind 'yellow vest' France

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Sociologist Benoît Coquard specialises in the study of the working classes who live in rural areas of France. He has just published a book which rejects many of the old assumptions about France's declining countryside and the supposed isolation of citizens living in 'peripheral' areas around the country's large conurbations cities. As Mediapart's Joseph Confavreux writes, the book also provides valuable insight into the origins of the so-called 'yellow vest' protests which began sweeping France a year ago.

How French police formed a 'war' unit to tackle 'yellow vest' protestors

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Maria, aged, 19, five days after she was attacked by police officers in Marseille on December 8th 2018. © DR Maria, aged, 19, five days after she was attacked by police officers in Marseille on December 8th 2018. © DR

Earlier this year Mediapart reported how a 19-year-old woman had her skull fractured by police in Marseille, southern France, as she lay on the ground during a day of demonstrations. The same investigation has now revealed the existence of a new hybrid police unit that was created to take on the so-called 'gilets jaunes' or 'yellow vest' protestors in France. These officers were not trained in public order policing yet the initiative was backed by a memo from the Ministry of the Interior and superior officers who considered that in a time of “war” anything and everything is permissible. Pascale Pascariello reports.

Prosecutors begin probe into missing gun safe owned by Macron's ex-aide Benalla

Emmanuel Macron and Alexandre Benalla. © Reuters Emmanuel Macron and Alexandre Benalla. © Reuters

A year and a half after the gun safe owned by Alexandre Benalla went missing, prosecutors in Paris have finally opened a judge-led investigation into the “removal of documents or objects … with the aim of hindering the truth from coming out”. With the support of the investigating judge, the probe could also now look into the disappearance of the contents of a second safe. This was the one that President Emmanuel Macron's former security aide used when he worked at the Élysée, before he was eventually sacked after being caught on video beating up a MayDay protestor in 2018. Fabrice Arfi, Antton Rouget and Marine Turchi report on the latest twist in the Benalla affair.

French justice ministry report highlights fatal failings in domestic violence cases

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A demonstration in Paris protesting murders of women in domestic violence, September 2018. © Benoît Tessier/Reuters A demonstration in Paris protesting murders of women in domestic violence, September 2018. © Benoît Tessier/Reuters

Victims of domestic violence in France, the vast majority of who are women, are being failed by the justice system and police, notably by not offering effective responses to formal complaints, concludes a French justice ministry report published at the weekend. The report examined 88 cases of domestic violence that ended in murder during the period 2015-2016, and of these 83 percent of the victims were women, many of whom had previously lodged complaints. Associations monitoring media-reported cases of women murdered by their partners or ex-partners estimate they number 135 so far this year. Meanwhile, justice minister Nicole Belloubet has said that the justice system “very clearly" is malfunctioning, and that new legislation must be drafted to address the failings. Dan Israel reports.

Adèle Haenel: the watershed interview subtitled in English

Adèle Haenel interviewed by Mediapart. Adèle Haenel interviewed by Mediapart.

A Mediapart investigation published earlier this month revealing the acclaimed French actress Adèle Haenel’s accusations of inappropriate “touching” and of “sexual harassment” by film director Christophe Ruggia when she was a minor has rocked French cinema. Her account, which Ruggia has “categorically” denied, prompted the opening of a probe by public prosecutors, a wave of public support for her from professional organisations and figures in the French filmmaking industry, and pledges to introduce tighter regulations to crack down on sexual misconduct in the world of cinema and TV production. Haenel, now aged 30, also gave a lengthy live video interview to Mediapart, in which she spoke further about her alleged experiences and why she finally decided to speak out, presented here for the first time with English subtitles.

French mayors defy government with local bans on pesticides and herbicides

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A total ban on the use of products containing glyphosate is due to be introduced in France on January 1st 2021. © Archives Reuters A total ban on the use of products containing glyphosate is due to be introduced in France on January 1st 2021. © Archives Reuters

A growing number of French mayors have issued by-laws this year banning the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides in their communes. But these have been regularly overturned by local administrative tribunals which have ruled the measures to be illegal as only central government has the power to issue such prohibitions. Earlier this month, however, a tribunal upheld the by-laws issued by the mayors of two Paris suburbs, ruling that the government had failed in its responsibilities to protect public health. With nationwide municipal elections due next spring, the issue is fast developing into a political hot potato for President Emmanuel Macron who has insisted that the rebel mayors must abide by the law.

Paris prosecutors launch probe into actress Adèle Haenel's 'paedophilia' accusations against filmmaker

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A message of support for Adèle Haenel posted on Instagram by French actress Marion Cotillard. © dr A message of support for Adèle Haenel posted on Instagram by French actress Marion Cotillard. © dr

The Paris public prosecution services announced on Wednesday that they have opened a preliminary investigation into French actress Adèle Haenel’s accusations, made in an interview with Mediapart, that filmmaker Christophe Ruggia had sexually harassed her and subjected her to inappropriate “touching” over several years when she was aged between 12 and 15. Haenel, now aged 30, has this week received the support of many leading figures in the French cinema industry. Meanwhile, Ruggia has addressed a new statement to Mediapart in which he recognises a “hold” he may have had over Haenel, but again denies any inappropriate sexual behaviour.

French actress Adèle Haenel accuses filmmaker of 'sexual harassment' when a minor

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Adèle Haenel. © Isabelle Eshraghi pour Mediapart Adèle Haenel. © Isabelle Eshraghi pour Mediapart

Award-winning French actress Adèle Haenel has accused the prominent French filmmaker Christophe Ruggia of inappropriate “touching” and of “sexually harassing” her when she was aged between 12 and 15. Haenel, now aged 30, whose story is supported by numerous documents and witness accounts, describes the director's behaviour as “paedophilia”. In this lengthy investigation, Mediapart reveals the long journey the actress has undergone, from the period when it was “impossible” to speak out to the point when continuing to stay silent had become “unbearable”. In a written statement, Christophe Ruggia has “categorically” denied the claims. Marine Turchi reports.

Historian Robert Paxton talks Trump, French polemicist Éric Zemmour and fascism

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Robert Paxton talking about how Vichy France is remembered. © Mathieu Magnaudeix / Mediapart Robert Paxton talking about how Vichy France is remembered. © Mathieu Magnaudeix / Mediapart

When the French language version of his book 'Vichy France' appeared in 1973, the American historian Robert Paxton opened French eyes to the Vichy regime's collaboration with the Nazis in World War II. At the age of 87 he remains one of the most knowledgable people about fascism. Mediapart spoke with the emeritus professor at Columbia University about Donald Trump, nostalgia for the wartime era of Vichy president Marshal Philippe Pétain, and the spectre of a return to the 1930s. Mathieu Magnaudeix reports from New York.

Fears of right-wing extremism grow as activist held over attack on French mosque

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The state prosecutor in Bayonne Marc Mariée. The state prosecutor in Bayonne Marc Mariée.

Claude Sinké, aged 84, a former local election candidate for the far-right Front National – now called Rassemblement National – is in custody for the attack on a mosque in Bayonne in south-west France on October 28th 2019. He told detectives his aim was to “avenge the destruction” of Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris from a fire which he blames on Muslims. Marine Le Pen and the rest of the RN leadership have been quick to distance themselves from their former activist. But Claude Sinké had been adopted as a candidate for the far-right party in 2015 despite posting hate-filled messages on Facebook. Marine Turchi and Matthieu Suc examine the far right party's handling of its supporters and look at the growing threat posed by right-wing extremists in France and across Europe.

Why Thierry Breton - Macron's new pick for EU post - is epitome of French capitalism

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Thierry Breton with Emmanuel Macron, who was then economy minister, in 2016. © Reuters Thierry Breton with Emmanuel Macron, who was then economy minister, in 2016. © Reuters

After his first choice for EU Commissioner was rejected by MEPs, President Emmanuel Macron has nominated the veteran businessman and former government minister Thierry Breton as France's new candidate for the key Brussels post. But just how suitable is he? By flitting between business and politics, the former finance and economy minister has become a bridge between two worlds where collusion, cliquiness and conflicts of interest shamelessly run riot, argues Mediapart's Marine Orange.

Police testimony undermined after conviction of French volunteer who aided migrants

By Michel Henry

Pierre Mumber, a volunteer from the French Alps who came to the aid of migrants who crossed the nearby border with Italy, was last year convicted of 'helping a foreigner enter the country'. However, an appeal hearing against the verdict has been shown video footage from an Italian journalist which undermines the police version of events that led to the conviction. Meanwhile other cases confirm that the legal clampdown on French volunteers on the border who go out in search of migrants in distress is continuing. Michel Henry reports.