Tijuana, Dec 10 (AP/UNB) — A steady trickle of Central American migrants have been finding ways to climb over, tunnel under or slip through the U.S. border wall to plant their feet on U.S. soil and ask for asylum.
In recent weeks, Honduran migrant Joel Mendez fed his 8-month-old son, Daniel, before handing him over to his partner, Yesenia Martinez, who had crawled through a hole in the rain-softened soil under the wall.
A group of young people hoisted themselves over the wall to San Ysidro, California, hoping that their ticket to a better life was finally within reach. One migrant offered a hand to help the others jumping down onto U.S. territory.
They all sought to skip the long official wait on the Mexico side for filing asylum claim with the U.S. by getting over the wall and handing themselves over to U.S. agents. Last week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the San Diego sector had experienced a "slight uptick" in families entering the U.S. illegally with the goal of seeking asylum.
Thousands of migrants are living in crowded tent cities in Tijuana after undertaking a grueling journey from Central America to the U.S. border. A large number have decided to make new lives in Mexico, applying for work permits and taking jobs at local factories while they wait as the U.S. government processes about 100 asylum requests a day at the San Ysidro crossing, the United States' busiest.
But by word of mouth, some have realized they can simply cross into U.S. territory, largely uninhibited by Mexican authorities. In twos or threes — occasionally by the dozen — they arrive at the border wall and manage to get over. Often within minutes, border officers quickly arrive to escort them to detention centers and begin "credible fear" interviews.
Over two nights last week, Associated Press journalists saw more than a dozen migrants taking the risk. A woman wearing a blue-beaded rosary waited with her children to see where they could cross. A Salvadoran migrant hid as he dug a hole in the sand under the wall. In the dark of night, migrants could be seen walking up a hill inside U.S. territory toward agents waiting to detain them.
Paris, Dec 10 (AP/UNB) - French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says U.S. President Donald Trump should not comment on France's domestic affairs, notably nationwide protests that began over fuel tax hikes meant to wean the nation off fossil fuels.
President Emmanuel Macron withdrew the planned increase last week in a failed bid to appease sometimes violent protesters.
Trump has tweeted twice on the issue, saying in one tweet this weekend that "the Paris agreement isn't working out so well for Paris." It was a reference to the 2015 Paris climate accord, which the U.S. is leaving and which Macron has championed worldwide.
Le Drian said on LCI TV on Sunday: "We don't take part in American debates. Let us live our own national life."
He says Macron has told Trump the same thing.
French President Emmanuel Macron will address the nation on Monday evening, breaking a long silence over rising protests that are shaking France.
An official of the Elysee Palace ended the mystery about when Macron would publicly tackle the issues arising from protests of a grassroots movement that have culminated four Saturdays in a row with massive demonstrations — marked by violence and vandalism — in cities around France, especially Paris.
The official said the president will address the nation in a speech from the Elysee Palace. The official wasn't authorized to speak publicly and asked to remain anonymous.
Protesters center their anger over rising prices on Macron who withdrew a fuel tax hike last week to try to bring calm. However, demands have multiplied during his long silence.
--By Sylvie Corbet
Paris' chief prosecutor says that nearly 1,000 people, nearly 100 of them minors and most without police records, are being held in custody after weekend protests in the French capital that turned violent.
Remy Heitz also said at a news conference on Sunday that the prosecutor's office was seeking preliminary charges against who they believe is the main person responsible for graffiti scrawled on the Arc de Triomphe last weekend. Thirteen others were already handed preliminary charges over vandalism of the monument.
Heitz said that most of those in custody were men under 40 from various regions who came to Paris for the fourth Saturday of protests by a ballooning grassroots movement angry about a fuel tax hike and other issues.
An official says that French President Emmanuel Macron plans to bring together national and local officials on Monday to hear their proposals in this "grave moment the nation is traversing."
The Elysee Palace official said on Sunday that the goal is to mobilize into action the panoply of officials representing political, economic and social forces of France in a bid to unwind a spiral of protests. The official wasn't authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Macron is expected to address the nation early in the week, breaking a silence that has fed the fury of the grassroots movement, which has expanded and radicalized.
New violence hit Paris and a handful of other cities in the fourth Saturday protest by the protesters dubbed yellow vests for the bright safety vests they often wear.
--By Sylvie Corbet.
France's Interior Ministry says 1,220 people were taken into custody around France during the latest yellow vest protests — a roundup the scale of which the country hasn't seen in years.
Police frisked protesters Saturday at train stations around the country, confiscating everything from heavy metal petanque balls to tennis rackets — anything that could remotely be used as a weapon.
The Eiffel Tower and Louvre Museum reopened Sunday after closing amid Saturday's rioting. Shops assessed looting damage Sunday and cleared out broken glass, after shutting down on Saturday at the height of the holiday shopping season.
Fierce winds and rain pummeled Paris overnight, complicating Sunday's cleanup efforts. Used tear gas canister lids lay scattered on the cobblestones of the Champs-Elysees.
In the melee Saturday, protesters had ripped off the plywood protecting Parisian store windows and threw flares and other projectiles. French riot police repeatedly repelled them with tear gas and water cannon.
Paris monuments reopened, cleanup workers cleared debris and shop owners tried to put the city on its feet again Sunday, a day after running battles between yellow-vested protesters and riot police left 71 injured and caused widespread damage to the French capital.
The man who unleashed the anger, President Emmanuel Macron, broke his silence to tweet his appreciation for the police overnight, but pressure mounted on him to propose new solutions to calm the anger dividing France.
The number of injured in Paris and nationwide was down Saturday from protest riots a week ago, and most of the capital remained untouched, but the violence in neighborhoods popular with tourists is tarnishing the country's image.
Exceptional police deployment failed to deter determined protesters, and some 125,000 took to the streets Saturday around France with a bevy of ever-expanding demands related to the country's high living costs.
Paris, Dec 9 (AP/UNB) — The rumble of armored police trucks and the hiss of tear gas filled central Paris on Saturday, as French riot police fought to contain thousands of yellow-vested protesters venting their anger against the government in a movement that has grown more violent by the week.
A ring of steel surrounded the president's Elysee Palace — a key destination for the protesters — as police stationed trucks and reinforced metal barriers throughout the neighborhood.
Stores along the elegant Champs-Elysees Avenue and the posh Avenue Montaigne boarded up their windows as if bracing for a hurricane but the storm struck anyway Saturday, this time at the height of the holiday shopping season. Protesters ripped off the plywood protecting the windows and threw flares and other projectiles. French riot police repeatedly repelled them with tear gas and water cannon.
Saturday's yellow vest crowd was overwhelmingly male, a mix of those bringing their financial grievances to Paris — the center of France's government, economy and culture — along with groups of experienced vandals who tore steadily through some of the city's wealthiest neighborhoods, smashing and burning.
Police and protesters also clashed in other French cities, notably Marseille, Toulouse and Bordeaux, and in neighboring Belgium. Some protesters took aim at the French border with Italy, creating a huge traffic backup near the town of Ventimiglia.
The French government's plan was to prevent a repeat of the Dec. 2 rioting that damaged the Arc de Triomphe, devastated central Paris and tarnished the country's global image. It did not succeed, even though it was better prepared.
Although Saturday's protest in the French capital started out quietly, tear gas choked the Champs-Elysees Avenue by early evening.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said that 135 people had been injured and 974 taken into custody amid protests around the nation. Paris police headquarters counted 71 injuries in the capital, seven of them police officers.
An estimated 125,000 people demonstrated around France while 10,000 took their anger to the streets of Paris, double the number in the capital last week, the interior minister said. Toughening security tactics, French authorities deployed 8,000 security officers in the capital alone, among the 89,000 who fanned out around the country.
A Starbucks near the Champs-Elysees was smashed wide open and people were seen stepping over broken glass and serving themselves to beverages. The window of a nearby bank was smashed in with a wrought-iron decoration used to encircle city tree trunks.
All of the city's top tourist attractions — including the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre museum — shut down for the day, fearing the kind of damage that hit the Arc de Triomphe a week ago. Christmas markets and soccer matches were cancelled. Subway stations in the city center closed and the U.S. embassy warned citizens to avoid all protest areas.
Yet in a sign of the financial disconnect that infuriates many of the protesters, a few blocks from the famed boulevard, people were sitting in Paris cafes, drinking cocktails and chatting.
Amid the melee, President Emmanuel Macron remained invisible and silent, as he has for the four weeks of a movement that started as a protest against a gas tax hike and metamorphosed into a rebellion against high taxes and eroding living standards.
The mayor of the city of Saint-Etienne, a town in southeast France hit by violence Saturday, castigated Macron for failing to speak out, saying it "feeds the resentment."
"This silence becomes contempt for the nation," the mayor, Gael Perdriau, of the opposition conservative party, said on BFMTV. "He has a direct responsibility in what is happening. He can't remain closed up in the Elysee."
France's yellow vest protesters have political stances ranging from the far right to the far left but the leaderless group is united in its sense that Macron and his government are out of touch.
"We are here to tell (Macron) our discontent. Me, I'm not here to break things because I have four children," said protester Myriam Diaz. "But I still want to be here to say 'Stop, that's enough.'"
Some protesters sang the French national anthem — "The Marseillaise" — as they confronted phalanxes of police in heavy riot gear. One protester in Paris showed an Associated Press reporter a fresh wound on his jaw, saying a rubber bullet fired by charging police had glanced his face.
"I was running with my hands up. They charged," said Ludovic, a 38-year-old cabinetmaker from the eastern city of Colmar. He only gave his first name, saying he feared being tracked by security authorities. He said he was fleeing the Champs-Elysees, choked with tear gas, when police moved in.
Even as blue armored trucks rumbled over cobblestone streets in Paris, a larger environmental march took place peacefully Saturday toward the city's Republique Plaza.
A scattering of yellow vests, as well as women, children and retirees, were among the 17,000 people marching to demand action against climate change. One sign read "No climate justice without fiscal and social justice."
Cyril, a 25-year-old garbage truck driver, came from Normandy with three others. He said he earns only 1,430 euros ($1,625) a month despite working 45 hours a week and has decided not to have children because doesn't feel he can earn enough to raise them. This was his third weekend of protesting in Paris.
"I've come to defend myself," he said, adding that he thought Macron's mistake was trying to reform the French economy too quickly. "He's done more in 18 months than the others in 30 years."
Macron on Wednesday agreed to abandon the fuel tax hike, which aimed to wean France off fossil fuels and uphold the Paris climate agreement. Many economists and scientists say higher fuel taxes are essential to save the planet from worsening climate change, but that stance hasn't defused the anger among France's working class.
Late Saturday, after announcing that the violence in Paris had been "contained," Castaner, the interior minister, took a victory stroll down the Champs-Elysees.
Tear gas had dissipated and a standoff was over. It had pitted a line of security forces, backed by two armored vehicles, against protesters, some lobbing objects and cherry bombs to taunt police.
Protesters also blocked roads, traffic roundabouts and highway tollbooths elsewhere in France and offshoot movements emerged in Belgium and the Netherlands.
Belgian police fired tear gas and water cannon Saturday at yellow-vested protesters calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Charles Michel. The protesters in Brussels threw paving stones, road signs, fireworks, flares and other objects at police and about 100 were detained.
Across the ocean, U.S. President Donald Trump seized the moment to once again criticize the 2015 Paris climate accord that he is abandoning.
"People do not want to pay large sums of money ... in order to maybe protect the environment," he tweeted.
Rome, Dec 8 (AP/UNB) — Six people, all but one of them minors, were killed and about 35 others injured in a stampede of panicked concertgoers early Saturday at a disco in a small town on Italy's central Adriatic coast, authorities said.
The dead included three girls and two boys and an adult woman, a mother who had accompanied her daughter to the disco in Corinaldo, where an Italian rapper was entertaining the crowd, Ancona police chief Oreste Capocasa said at the scene. The provincial capital of Ancona is the nearest big town.
Twelve of the 35 injured were in serious condition, Capocasa said.
The ages of the victims weren't immediately given. It wasn't immediately clear how many people were inside when the stampede erupted or the club's maximum capacity.
Italian fire officials and ANSA news agency said the audience at Italian rapper Sfera Ebbasta's concert at the Lanterna Azzurra nightclub panicked and ran for the exits after someone sprayed a substance similar to pepper spray.
A 16-year-old boy told ANSA that disco patrons were dancing while awaiting the start of the concert when the stampede erupted. The boy, who was being treated at a hospital, said that at least one of the emergency exits was locked when he tried to flee.
The report said authorities were investigating if emergency exits were working.
Paris, Dec 8 (AP/UNB) — Paris monuments and shopping meccas are locked down and tens of thousands of police are taking position around the country, fearing worsening violence in a new round of anti-government protests.
President Emmanuel Macron's government has warned that Saturday's "yellow vest" protests in Paris will be hijacked by "radicalized and rebellious" crowds and become the most dangerous yet after three weeks of demonstrations.
Authorities are deploying barricade-busting armored vehicles and 8,000 police in the capital alone, part of 89,000 security forces fanned out around France.
The Eiffel Tower and Louvre are shut along with hundreds of stores and businesses, fearing damage after rioting last Saturday that saw 130 people injured and the worst urban unrest in Paris in decades.
The protesters are angry at Macron and high taxes, among other problems.