August 14, 2012 – PARIS, FR (AP) — Months of tension between police and young people in a troubled district of northern France exploded on Tuesday, with dozens of youths facing off against riot officers in a night of violence. Sixteen officers were injured, a pre-school and public gym was torched, and at least three passing drivers in Amiens were dragged from their cars. While the identity of the rioters and the immediate cause is unclear, the economic picture of the area in question is not. Unemployment skews higher in northern France and among the country’s youth. Less than two weeks ago, the French government declared Amiens among 15 impoverished zones to receive more money and security. The eruption of violence shows how little relations have changed between police and youths in France’s housing projects since nationwide riots in 2005 raged unchecked for nearly a month, leaving entire neighborhoods in flames in the far-flung suburbs. At the height of the latest confrontation, 150 officers — both local and federal riot police — faced off against the young men who fired buckshot and fireworks at them, skirmishing through the neighborhood in the city about 75 miles (120 kilometers) north of Paris. There were no arrests. “The confrontations were very, very violent,” Amiens Mayor Gilles Dumailly told the French television network BFM. Dumailly said tensions had been building for months between police and the impoverished residents, whom he described as “people who are in some difficulty.” Relations between police and youth in housing projects have been troubled for years, perhaps decades. Riots occasionally erupt, often in the hot nights of August, when France’s rich and middle classes head off for long vacations but poor and immigrant families in the projects stay home. Alain Bauer, a professor of criminology, said circumstances had only worsened since 2005. He said it was hard to predict what would happen after the Amiens violence, which he described as “a culmination of bitterness and tension.” Earlier this month, the district in Amiens was among 15 areas declared the most troubled in France, and the government pledged more security and more money. Dumailly said he had hoped tensions would improve with a plan to fix up the housing projects and offer more services Public security is not just a priority but an obligation,” French President Francois Hollande said Tuesday, speaking at a memorial for two gendarmes killed in June. “We owe it to the population; we owe it to the security forces.” He mentioned the violence in Amiens, as well as unrest in Toulouse, in southern France, where rival groups in two housing projects have been battling for a number of days. The violence marked the first major unrest under Hollande, who took office in May. Unemployment stands at 12 percent in northern France, compared with 10 percent nationwide. Among French ages 15-24, unemployment stands at 23.3 percent, according to the national statistics agency.
The financial decline in Europe continues: As Industrial Production falls -0.6% in Europe and as the economy shrinks -0.2% there is once again a good reason to pause to consider the ramifications for this going forward. When you sit back and take a hard look at the last two years you begin to learn a few things. If you just stick to the actual data and forget the rhetoric that surrounds it the picture becomes clearer. Each and every projection for Greece, Spain and Italy that has been forecast by the EU and the IMF has been wrong; dead wrong. Europe is getting worse and not better. Whether you turn your attention to Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal or even Ireland; it is getting worse. Nowhere on the continent are things improving and even in France and Germany the financial strains are beginning to show. It is not a question of Euro-bear or Euro-bull; it is just the numbers as they come rolling out month after month. It is the banks, it is the sovereigns and grand visions must, in the end, give way to the facts. –Zero Hedge
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