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The New York Times reports Police Crack Down on ‘Yellow Vests’ in France With Tear Gas and Hundreds of Arrests.

A fourth weekend of antigovernment protests turned violent on Saturday, with demonstrators in Paris ripping down barricades from store fronts and setting vehicles on fire, while riot police fired tear gas and water cannons to control the crowds.

The so-called Yellow Vests descended on the capital by the thousands, even as the police turned out in force, blocking off roads and monuments and arresting more than 700 people, many before they could even reach the main site of the demonstrations along Paris’s main artery, the Champs-Élysées.

Around the country, some 31,000 people took to the streets mostly peacefully, according to the authorities, including in cities like Marseille, Nice and Nantes. But in Paris, more hard-core elements hijacked the demonstrations, turning them violent, though short of last weekend’s levels, the country’s worst urban unrest in decades.

As protesters were smashing in windows with golf clubs on Avenue Marceau, an ambulance driver and Yellow Vest from the Dordogne who gave her name only as Stephanie and was watching the violence said: “Sure it’s sad. But if it hadn’t come to this, nothing would change.”

Elsewhere in the city, on the Boulevard de Courcelles, a car burned out of control as police moved in to disperse the vandals.

Axelle Cavalheiro, who works with disabled people, came from the Ain, near Lyon. “We are overtaxed; there are taxes on everything, gas,” he complained. “At the Élysée,” he said referring to the presidential palace, “they spend 300,000 euros on carpeting, 10,000 a month for the hairdresser.”

Images Clipped from NYT Video

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Storefronts Burn

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Police Repel Paris Protesters

The Chicago Tribune reports Police Repel Paris Protesters Attempting to Converge on Presidential Palace

Some stores along the Champs-Elysee had boarded up their windows with plywood, making the neighborhood appear like it was bracing for a hurricane. Angry protesters on Saturday tried to rip the boards off.

Protesters threw flares and other projectiles and set fires but were repeatedly pushed back by tear gas and water cannon. By mid-afternoon, more than 700 people had been stopped and questioned, and more than 400 were being held in custody, according to a Paris police spokeswoman.

The Eiffel Tower and Louvre Museum were among the many tourist attractions that closed for the day, fearing damages amid a new round of protests. Subway stations in the center of town were shut down.

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Axios Moans

Axios complains Trump inaccurately blames Paris Agreement as riots continue in France.

Reality check: The protests in Paris are not about the Paris Agreement, and the agreement didn't impose additional taxes.

Trump's Tweet is as close to reality as Axios. The Paris accord did not stipulate taxes, but that is precisely how Macron chose to implement the accord.

It was Macron's idiotic diesel tax to "save the world" that was the trigger for long-building tax resentment.

Some Blame Facebook

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The Intelligencer asks Did Facebook Cause Riots in France?

In Bloomberg, Leonid Bershidsky writes that “Street riots in Paris are less about a tiny fuel tax hike than the power of social networks to radicalize their users”; on Medium, Frederic Filloux argues that Facebook is “fueling the French populist rage.” Most widely circulated is a lengthy and detailed Buzzfeed article headlined “The ‘Yellow Jackets’ Riots In France Are What Happens When Facebook Gets Involved With Local News.”

It’s a compellingly dystopian way of thinking about the riots, in which hundreds of people have been injured, especially if you’re a Facebook critic or skeptic. Look at what Facebook brings to stable democracies! Look at how Facebook leads good citizens astray! The problem is that there’s very little evidence being provided for this particular narrative.

That’s not to say that Facebook was irrelevant to the protests. There seems to be consensus that the social network is the organizational platform of choice for the gilets jaunes. But the idea that popular outrage is more about “the power of social networks” than actual French politics, as Bershidsky argues, seems very wrong, and more than a little irresponsible.

At one barricade Christafis spoke with a wide range of citizens “united in fury at Macron’s way of running France – what they called his top-down approach cut off from ordinary people’s experiences. Everyone could angrily quote examples of Macron’s ‘arrogance.’” This sounds like real grievance, not inauthentically promoted “fake news.”

Where is Macron Now?

The Tribune explains As protests rage in France, President Macron remains invisible.

Who's to Blame

The Bloomberg, Medium, and Buzzfeed writers all got it wrong. The Intelligencer got it correct.

If Macron wants someone to blame, he should look in the mirror. After paying his €10,000 haircut bill of course.

It's very important to look nice when placing the blame.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock