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The situation where problems appear to worsen when they should be improving can be understood in the context of French-African relations, particularly under President Emmanuel Macron. While there was a historical period during the Cold War when France used covert actions and military force in its African policies, it officially declared an end to such practices over the past 25 years. The new approach emphasizes values like “democratization,” “empowerment,” “cooperation,” and engaging with younger generations.

However, some argue that despite the official shift, there may still be covert influences and incentives exchanged between France and its former colonies. Nevertheless, it’s an exaggeration to claim that French influence remains as strong as it once was. For example, Gabon, often seen as emblematic of corrupt post-colonialism, took steps to distance itself from France, even joining the Commonwealth.

Furthermore, the Bongo family’s wealth, hidden in Paris, came to light due to French anti-corruption judges, demonstrating that French politicians no longer shielded them. Similarly, if France still had significant influence over Cameroon, why did its leader, Paul Biya, attend the Russia-Africa summit alongside Vladimir Putin?

In reality, France’s influence in Africa has diminished as African nations globalize and diversify their international partnerships, engaging with countries like Turkey, Russia, Israel, Germany, and the United States. France’s rivals have gained contracts while France was previously involved in controversial activities.

So why is there a strong backlash against French influence now, even though it has waned? There are two explanations. First, it’s a psychological phenomenon where people become more aware of the severity of a problem as they experience some improvement, leading to increased outrage. France’s colonial history in Africa was deeply entrenched, evoking anger among today’s more confident generations who seek full emancipation.

Secondly, external forces play a role. President Macron believes there’s a “baroque alliance” between self-proclaimed pan-Africans and neo-imperialists (Russia and China) influencing recent coups in French-speaking Africa. He argues that France’s presence in the Sahel is to combat terrorism, as requested by sovereign states. However, many people prefer conspiracy theories, attributing worsening situations to hidden agendas, which complicates the situation further.

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A fire erupted at a vacation residence in La Forge, France, where individuals with learning disabilities were staying, resulting in the disappearance of eleven people. The blaze was reported to emergency services at 06:30 local time on Wednesday and was met with a response from nearly 80 firefighters.

Regrettably, the 11 missing individuals are now presumed to have lost their lives, as stated by a local official to AFP news agency. The property was utilized by a charity dedicated to assisting individuals with disabilities. While 17 occupants were evacuated and one person was hospitalized, the cause of the fire remains unclear.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin affirmed an ongoing rescue operation, acknowledging the likelihood of multiple casualties in the town near Wintzenheim, close to the German border. The group of 11 missing people originated from Nancy, in eastern France, according to the Haut-Rhin region’s local government. Despite the fire’s intensity, it was successfully controlled by 76 firefighters and four fire engines.

The Bas-Rhin prefecture’s leader, Christophe Marot, revealed that those inside the building during the fire’s outbreak have not yet been located. The incident led French President Emmanuel Macron to express his condolences and appreciation for the emergency services. Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne and families minister Aurore Bergé are en route to the scene.

Visuals from local media depict the holiday home, a converted barn, engulfed in flames. Firefighters managed to subdue the fire after approximately two-thirds of the building was consumed by the blaze.

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Fiona Scott Morton, a highly qualified American economist, has decided not to take up the position of Chief Competition Economist in the European Commission following widespread criticism of her appointment. The strongest objections came from France, with President Emmanuel Macron expressing doubts and questioning whether there were no qualified European candidates for the role. Scott Morton, a Yale University economics professor, has an impressive background, including working in the US justice department’s antitrust department during the Obama presidency. However, she has also worked as a consultant for major tech companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon, which raised concerns given that her job would involve regulating these digital giants.

EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager defended the appointment, highlighting Scott Morton’s corporate experience as an asset. Nevertheless, Scott Morton made the decision not to take up the post due to the political controversy surrounding her appointment and the importance of having the full support of the EU’s competition directorate. Opposition to her appointment came from various quarters, including President Macron and several Commission colleagues, as well as the four largest political blocs in the European Parliament. However, after discussions with Scott Morton, some concerns were addressed, and Philippe Lamberts of the Greens expressed support for her.

Critics argued that the criticism of Scott Morton’s appointment was unjustified since her role would primarily involve overseeing economic evidence in competition enforcement rather than favoring specific competitors. Nobel Prize-winning economist Jean Tirole praised her qualifications and stated that the European Commission was fortunate to have attracted someone of her caliber. Margrethe Vestager emphasized that the suggestion of bias based on nationality was questionable and clarified that Scott Morton would only need to recuse herself from a few cases.

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Arman Soldin, a video journalist for Agence France-Presse (AFP) who was killed in Ukraine, has been posthumously awarded the highest honor of France, the Legion of Honour.

Soldin, 32, died in a rocket attack near Bakhmut in May. French President Emmanuel Macron commended his bravery and sent a letter praising his dedication to journalism. Soldin is one of the many journalists who have lost their lives in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion.

The honor was bestowed through a presidential decree, alongside 357 other individuals from various sectors of French society. Soldin’s death is being investigated as a potential war crime by France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office. He was born in Bosnia but held French nationality and had been living in Ukraine since September 2021.

The Legion of Honour is a prestigious award established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802 to recognize outstanding civilian or military achievements.

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Following five days of violent protests in response to the shooting of teenager Nahel M during a police traffic stop, the riots in France appear to be calming. Sunday night witnessed a decrease in violence and a lower number of arrests.

President Emmanuel Macron has instructed the interior ministry to maintain a significant police presence on the streets. Mayors have organized rallies outside town halls to condemn the violence and looting. While the situation has improved, authorities remain cautious and are not declaring a complete return to normalcy. President Macron has requested a massive deployment of around 45,000 officers across the country to ensure a peaceful environment.

The number of arrests, cars set on fire, and damaged buildings has significantly decreased. The mayors’ association has expressed concern about the serious unrest, targeting symbols of the republic with extreme violence. One act of violence involved an attack on the home of a suburban Paris mayor, resulting in injuries to his family.

The family of Nahel has called for an end to the violence, emphasizing the need for changes in the laws regarding lethal force during traffic stops. They disapprove of a fundraising campaign for the police officer involved in Nahel’s shooting, which has attracted criticism from politicians.

President Macron will meet with mayors from affected areas to address the situation. Additionally, a fireman died while attempting to extinguish cars set ablaze in an underground car park, although there is no confirmed connection to the ongoing violence.

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The death of a teenager shot by police at close range in France has sparked protests and unrest in various cities. However, the Interior Minister has reported a quieter night of protests with fewer arrests compared to previous nights.

The most intense clashes occurred in the southern city of Marseille. In a Paris suburb, attackers targeted the mayor’s house, injuring his wife as she attempted to flee with their children. The funeral for the teenager, Nahel M, was held with large crowds in attendance. The Interior Minister commended law enforcement for their actions, which contributed to a relatively calmer night. Around 45,000 police officers were deployed across the country for a second consecutive night.

The hope is that the security crackdown and the public’s disapproval of the violence will lead to a turning point and a decline in rioting. However, it is yet to be confirmed if this trend will continue. Clashes between police and rioters were reported in Marseille, with tear gas being used by the police. In Paris, a significant police presence deterred protesters from gathering on the Champs-Élysées.

The mayor of L’Haÿ-les-Roses denounced the attack on his home as a “murder attempt of unspeakable cowardice.” In other cities such as Lille, Lyon, Nice, and Strasbourg, clashes and vehicle fires were reported. The incident involving Nahel has reignited discussions about French policing, including a controversial firearms law from 2017 that allows officers to shoot at drivers who refuse to stop.

The issue of racism within the police force has also been raised, with the UN’s human rights office urging France to address this concern. President Emmanuel Macron strongly condemned the violence and criticized the exploitation of Nahel’s death to justify acts of violence.

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French President Emmanuel Macron has accused protesters of exploiting the fatal shooting of a teenager by police. In response to the unrest that followed the incident, Macron held a crisis meeting and announced the deployment of additional officers to control the violence. However, he refrained from declaring a state of emergency.

Macron called on parents to keep their protesting children at home and urged social media platforms to remove specific content. Over 915 arrests were made in a single night, and the government plans to deploy 45,000 police officers to prevent further violence. Macron strongly condemned the recent acts of violence and criticized the exploitation of the teenager’s death.

He also called on social media companies to take down sensitive content and provide authorities with information about individuals organizing violent activities. The protests and riots have led to significant damage to shops, streets, and public property across various cities in France. Public transport was halted in some areas, and curfews were imposed.

The capital, Paris, has been particularly affected, as the teenager lived in a suburb there. The officer who fired the fatal shot has been charged with voluntary homicide, and the incident has sparked debates about French policing and potential issues of racism within law enforcement.

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News Sports Trending

Victor Wembanyama, the 19-year-old French basketball player, has set his sights on winning an NBA championship ring after being selected as the number one overall pick by the San Antonio Spurs in the 2023 draft. Standing at 7ft 5in with an 8ft wingspan, Wembanyama is considered one of the most promising prospects in the game since LeBron James in 2003.

Wembanyama expressed his goal of learning as much as possible to achieve his dream of winning an NBA championship. The NBA draft consists of two rounds with 30 picks each, and teams select players based on their performance in the previous season, with the worst-performing teams having the opportunity to choose the best incoming talent.

The draft took place in Brooklyn, with NBA commissioner Adam Silver announcing the picks. Wembanyama was overwhelmed with emotion upon hearing his name called as the first pick. French president Emmanuel Macron congratulated him, recognizing him as the first Frenchman to be selected as the top pick in the NBA draft.

Wembanyama had an impressive season playing for Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92 in France, averaging 20.6 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.0 blocked shots, and 2.5 assists in 44 games. San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich expressed his excitement about having Wembanyama on the team, highlighting his talent and maturity.

LeBron James, star player for the Los Angeles Lakers, had witnessed Wembanyama’s skills during an exhibition game in Las Vegas and described him as a generational talent and an “alien” due to his extraordinary abilities on the court. Wembanyama embraced the term “alien” as a compliment, as he aspires to be something unique and original in the world of basketball.

The second pick in the draft was Brandon Miller, a 6ft 9in player from the University of Alabama, who joined the Charlotte Hornets. Scoot Henderson, who had played in the NBA’s developmental G League, was chosen as the third pick by the Portland Trail Blazers. The Thompson twins, Amen and Ausar, rounded out the top five picks, with Amen joining the Houston Rockets and Ausar being selected by the Detroit Pistons.

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Henri, a 24-year-old Catholic pilgrim, has been hailed as a hero by French media for his courageous attempt to stop a knife attack in Annecy, which resulted in serious injuries to four children. Henri, who had been touring France’s cathedrals, instinctively pursued the attacker and used his backpack as a weapon to defend against the assailant.

President Emmanuel Macron personally commended Henri for his bravery during their meeting in the town. Macron praised Henri’s actions as a “source of hope” while acknowledging that he had also experienced a traumatic event. The French leader visited the victims of the stabbing and expressed his gratitude to the first responders.

Video footage captured Henri swinging his backpack at the attacker and chasing him across a grassy area. The hashtag #MerciHenri began trending online, and Henri himself posted on Instagram, urging people to pray for the children and assuring them that he was fine.

In an interview with CNews the following morning, Henri explained that he believed it was unthinkable to do nothing in such a situation. He acted on his instincts and did what he could to protect those who were vulnerable. While Henri modestly stated that he was not the only civilian who intervened, he emphasized that he felt compelled to act and defended the weak, just as any French person would.

Henri’s father expressed his belief that his son’s actions prevented further harm, crediting him with scaring off the assailant and preventing carnage. Prior to the incident, Henri had been interviewed about his nine-month tour of France’s cathedrals, where he relied on walking and hitchhiking. He mentioned his habit of knocking on random doors near cathedrals to find accommodation, explaining that it helped him open up to people.

Regarding the attacker’s claim of identifying as a Christian, Henri rejected the notion, stating that it was profoundly unchristian to target the vulnerable. Instead, he believed that something deeply negative possessed the assailant.

Henri’s courageous response to the knife attack has garnered widespread admiration in France, with many praising his selflessness and humility.

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French President Emmanuel Macron faced a risky situation while attempting to persuade the country to accept an unpopular pension age increase. During a walk with his wife Brigitte, Macron joined a group of young Parisians who were singing a traditional song his grandmother used to sing.

The singers were part of a Parisian choir performing on a street in the sixth district of Paris, and one of them asked Macron to join in singing an old Pyrenees song called “Le Refuge.” However, the sing-song was reportedly shared by a far-right Facebook group.

The men were using a mobile phone app to read the lyrics of the song created by the Canto project. Macron had given a TV address expressing regret that no consensus could be found on the pension reform earlier that day.

Last October, a left-leaning newspaper called Libération revealed that the Canto project, which aimed to promote traditional songs, had been set up and run by far-right activists. Some of the songs included French classics and nursery rhymes, while others had a questionable past, including songs linked to the Spanish fascist Falange of the 1930s and Nazi Germany.

Macron and his team are aware of how viral videos can distract from important issues, particularly pension reforms. After his TV address, Macron joined a group of singers who were performing a Pyrenean song he knew and liked. His team said that he couldn’t have known the background of each individual singer. Last month, a viral video showed Macron’s watch disappearing during a TV interview, but it was later revealed to be a non-issue.

Similarly, the narrative that Macron was supporting the far right by singing with the Saint Longin choir has gained traction, but his team maintains that he simply joined in singing a song he knew and liked.

The only link between the choir Macron sang with and the far right is that the founder of the app they used to read the lyrics was close to the National Rally opposition party. The app was created to encourage communal singing and received funding from the culture ministry.

It included revolutionary songs, including ones dear to the far-left, such as “Ah ça ira,” which features the line “Aristocrats to the gallows!” The Saint Longin choir appears to be from the Catholic right, but one member stated that their only connection to the Canto project was that they shared an interest in the music it featured. The Élysée also noted that Macron could not control who he met while walking with his wife at night.

The video of Macron singing with the choir has given the story significant traction, particularly as his approval ratings are currently low. This situation only compounds his difficulties as he attempts to restore his reputation. Despite this, he signed the pension reforms into law, which increase the retirement age from 62 to 64, and has given the Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne the responsibility of leading a hundred days of action with a roadmap of significant projects aimed at benefitting France.

Following the reforms, Macron’s impromptu sing-song in Paris was his first public appearance, and he planned to relaunch his second term in office in the Alsace town of Muttersholtz. However, given the protests and criticism against his pension reforms, security was expected to be tight during his visit.

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