Venezuela: is the Cold War back?

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In recent weeks, Venezuela has been going through an unprecedented crisis. The whole world  comments on the situation and take positions. Two clans have been formed: those who support Nicolas Maduro and those who support the opposition embodied by Juan Guaido. 

Venezuela tensions
Tensions in Venezuela divide countries
Source: Creative Commons

Juan Guaido, the president of the Venezuela’s parliament, is self-entitled acting president. In his view Nicolas Maduro, the current president, is responsible for the disastrous economic situation from which the country has been suffering for decades. In addition, the last elections that put  Maduro in power was considered by the international community as suspicious and with malfunctions. There are many tensions because Maduro retains the authority mainly thanks to the support of the army. 

All the countries take position about the Venezuela crisis. The country most opposed to Maduro is the United States of America. Donald Trump actively supported Juan Guaido and he congratulated those who go to the street to demonstrate their dissatisfaction. France, Europe, Brazil … some 40 countries are asking for the end of Maduro’s government.

Those who support Maduro

Some countries still support Maduro. For example, in Latin America, Cuba and Bolivia are the two great supporters of Nicolas Maduro. These are political affinities between left wing regimes to stand up to common enemy: Washington and the American imperialism. The two economic giants Russia and China support Maduro for the economic reasons. Indeed, China and Russia are the two first creditors of Venezuela. The country must pay for their debt with its oil.

None of the two presidents is ready to give up. The opposition does not exclude an American military operation to exit the crisis.


Islamic State is being liquidated in the Middle Est

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At Baghuz, nearly 500 Islamic State’s fighters are under fire of the Arab-Kurdish coalition. Since Saturday, the assault has been launched against the last confined Jihadists in a “final battle”.

Daesh fighters
Source: Creative Commons

Islamic State’s territory should be liquidated in a few days. The Arab-Kurdish coalition of the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) supported by the Westerners launched the final offensive against the last Isis forces, grouped in the Baghuz village, at the Syrian-Kurdish border. The US president, Donald Trump, predicted on Wednesday that Isis will have lost all of its territory by next week. And the SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali declared “The decisive battle began tonight to finish what remains of Daesh terrorists”. But he did not say how long they expect the battle to last.
Islamic State territory now accounts for less than 1% of the caliphate, self-proclaimed in 2014. U.S. officials have said in recent weeks that Isis has lost 99.5% of its territory. The last 500 jihadist fighters are localized in a very small village of about 4 squares kilometers. The fighting was intense this weekend, with American air support. Some 37 000 people have fled the area since December, mainly from Isis families, but also about 3 400 jihadists who have surrendered.

The terrorist threat persists

Even if the Isis organization used to plan attacks from its Syrian base, the Islamic State liquidation is not the end of the terrorist threat. Indeed, in Western, Africa or Asia, the organization retains an ideological mobilization capacity. It is estimated it has relays and sleeping cells in about thirty countries. The US military has warned the group could stage a comeback if the military and counter terrorism pressure on it is eased.
The SDF require Western countries to recover their nationals, which is controversial for some people, who fear that they will be quickly released. Nearly 150 prisoners should be brought back soon by plane, in  a combined Franco-American operation.

Lucas Bennoui, IEJ2C

France – Italy: nothing goes well

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Yellow vest influenced international
Luigi Di Maio supports the yellow vests.
Source: Creative Commons

Following Luigi di Maio’s participation in France’s “Yellow Vests” demonstration, France called back its ambassador from Rome, causing a major diplomatic crisis between the two countries.

With his partner Matteo Salvini, the chief of Lega, Luigi di Maio had expressed a lot of criticism about France and its recent social movements. According to the Italian vice Prime Minister, France refuses to take migrants who become murderers on their land. At the same time, Di Maio expressed clearly his support of the “Yellow Vests”: “Don’t abandon your movement, we’re going to support you,” he said.

France decided to call back immediately its ambassador for “consultations” after “attacks without evidence from Italian’ leaders”

As for Matteo Salvini, fifteen days ago, he called French people to “escape from a very bad president.”

Accusations and criticism:

“France has never stopped to colonize many African states,” said Luigi di Maio, the Italian vice prime minister at the European Union in January. Since those words, the tension between both countries has been rising.

Italian point of view:

For Gianni del Vecchio, co-director at the Huff Post in Italy, the population opposes Luigi Di Miao’s strategy. Vincenzo Boccia, leader of the Italian employer’s movement requires that the government stop to provoke France. “The problem is that their propaganda is very strong, this way a lot of people think that what Salvini and Di Maio say about France is true.” This is also why Di Maio wants to get closer to the “Yellow Vests”, in order to show his disapproval with Emmanuel Macron and his policy.

This big crisis is the first one since the end of the Second World war and constitutes “an unacceptable provocation” for France.

Camille Chatillon, 2C

Donald Trump declares he is against late-term abortion

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Donald Trump criticized last week the late-term interruptions of pregnancy. His goal is to rally support beyond his most conservative base before the 2020 elections.

Donald Trump abortion
Donald Trump anti-abortion in third semester
Source: Creative Commons

Trump wants to deliver a new battle: the one over abortion. The President of the United States plans to attack late-term interruptions of pregnancy. In his speech of last Tuesday evening, Donald Trump attacked a law that has been recently adopted by the state of New York. He declared that this law “will pull a baby from the womb of his mother just before birth”. He added that he wants to “defend the dignity of each person”.

Despite their rarity, late interruptions of pregnancy give rise to strong reprobation. According to a Gallup poll, 60% of Americans believe that abortion must be legal in the first trimester of pregnancy, but the proportion drops to 28% in the second quarter and 13% in the third.

Donald Trump apparently chose the perfect time before next elections to address this subject. Even if the Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973 and 57% of Americans are in favor of abortion, this subject divides a lot. Jo-Renee Formicola, a politic-sciences teacher explains that Donald Trump already has a lot of support among Evangelicals and Catholics. 59% of Republicans consider that abortion should be illegal and 76% of Democrats think the opposite.

Abortion might be the topic that divides the United States the most.

Pauline Knaff, IEJ2C


Southampton supporters mock the death of Emiliano Sala

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It’s a sequence that has scandalized England. On Saturday, Southampton received Cardiff for the 26th day of Premier League. During the minute of silence, some fans made fun of the disappearance of Emiliano Sala, who tragically died in an air crash just before joining the Welsh club last month.

Emiliano Sala supporters southampton
Supporters mimicked the sound of an airplane in reference to the death of the young player
Source: Creative Commons

Mimed planes during the tribute to Emiliano Sala. A video posted on Twitter showed some supporters doing these gestures, while the body of Argentinian striker was found in the Channel at the beginning of last week. The plane of Sala had disappeared near the English coast on January 21st, after a flight which connected Nantes to Cardiff. On social networks, the video caused a huge commotion.

Sanctions pronounced by the club

After losing the game 2-1 to Cardiff, the Saints (Southampton’s nickname) responded with a statement and announced the arrest of two supporters by the authorities: “Southampton club can confirm that two fans were detained and their details taken by police during our match against Cardiff City on Saturday. […] The club will continue to work with Hampshire Police to identify any individuals deemed to have made indecent gestures towards Cardiff supporters.”

The two supporters are now permanently excluded from the stadium of Southampton. The statement added that sanctions will be taken against all supporters who committed these actions: ” Such behavior has no place in our game and will not be tolerated at St. Mary’s. The club will be extremely severe towards anyone guilty of such acts and intends to ban these supporters once identified.” Despite these mockeries, the minute of silence was very moving for both teams.


Jules Hypolite, IEJ 2C

NBA: The Sixers’s “Big Four” is already impressive!

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After Denver, the “Brand new Sixers” just won their second big game by taming the Los Angles Lakers at home (143-120) under the pulse of their starters Joel Embiid (37 pts) and the newcomer Tobias Harris (22pts). After their two big wins, Philadelphia seems to be ready to lead the East. 

NBA philadelphia sixers 2019
The club with its recent transfer is ready for the coming season.
Source: Creative Commons

The Sixers adaptation phase is going well for Tobias Harris. He was traded from the Los Angeles Clippers last week before the trade deadline. He is already effective with 22 pts scored, 9 of 14 shooting for his second game with Philadelphia.

Harris was not the only one to shine against LeBron James (18 pts 10 rbs 9 ast). The Cameroonian Joel Embiid walked on the opposing paint the whole evening. He finished with 37 points, and missed just four shots during the game. The shooter J. J. Reddick added 21 points, Jimmy Butler 15 and Ben Simmons with just 8 points and 7 assists. The Australian player is the one who suffers the most (individually speaking) from Harris’s arrival.

A new team that can compete the best one

It’s maybe the best association in the East, if they can find a good alchemy among these four superstar players. They have perhaps a poorer dynamic than Milwaukee or Toronto. But the Sixers are the most promising team.

Philadelphia has good chance this year to go to the NBA Finals, with this new impressive team built during the trade period last week. They added new players calibrated to compete stronger teams, like Boston, Toronto or Milwaukee. Indeed Tobias Harris is a good shooter who can take the important decision and Boban Marjanovic, 7’3″ tall, is a good option to capture rebounds. Brett Brown the Sixers’s coach who has without a doubt the best center of the NBA, Joel Embiid, can compete his first NBA Finals this spring.

Hugo Minassian, IEJ2C

Blackface: Those brands who all make the same mistake

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Gucci polemic of blackface
Gucci is in a controversy about a blackface sweater. Source: Creative Commons

Gucci, Moncler, Prada… and the list is much longer in reality. All of them did the same thing. At first side the definition of a blackface is: make-up used by a non-black performer playing a black role. But when it comes to brands, there are some spin-offs.

The source of the most recent controversy is a black turtleneck, that covers the face up to the eyes of the model in the catalog with a red cut-out around the mouth.
The item was named “balaclava jumper” and the cost was about $890. The item has been removed of the collection as soon as it became a controversial subject.

What is the history of blackface?

Blackface started in the slavery area. It was a way to make fun of or caricature the negroid features. It has a history of racism and stereotypes.

Gucci apologized and decided to remain positive by turning this event “into a powerful learning moment for the Gucci team”. They also explained that it would be removed from sale and said it wasn’t made to offend anyone.

A mistake that reappers often

Gucci isn’t the first luxury fashion brand that has used a blackface. Moncler, Prada.. The list of luxury brands is long, not to mention the low cost brands that have showcased different types of racism.

Moncler polemic blackface
Moncler like Gucci is in a controversy about a blackface sweater.

Other types of blackface

Recently a Ralph Northam, Democrat governor of Virginia was accused of appearing in a picture from 1984 with his face blackened.

Diariatou Ahouandjinou, IEJ2C

Germany: Paintings belonging to Adolf Hitler auctioned

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Hitler armchair auction
Auction of furniture owned by Hitler. Source: Creative Commons

Five pictures said to have been painted by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler have failed to sell at auction in Germany. Starting prices ranged from €19,000 to €45,000.

It is a controversial auction because of the identity of the works’ alleged author and the doubts raised about their authenticity.
Attributed to Adolf Hitler, leader of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945, the paintings were put on sale this Saturday in Germany. The five tables represent bucolic landscapes.

They were on sale at the Weidler House in Nuremberg. Ulrich Maly, mayor of the city which was a high-ranking city of the regime, denounced in the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung an event of «bad taste».

In addition to the five paintings, the sale offered a wicker chair, a Meissen porcelain vase representing the anchor of the German navy, and a tablecloth.

Doubts about the authenticity of the paintings

All the pieces were seized because of doubts about their authenticity despite the signatures “A. H.” or “A. Hitler”. The sales house, which explains that the objects come from 23 owners, denies any irregularity and ensures cooperation with the authorities. The prosecutor in charge of the file explains that some pieces of art were accompanied by certificates of authenticity but that they could also have been altered.

Hitler’s paintings remain difficult to authentify due to lack of accurate catalogues and the mediocrity of the works of the one who failed to enter the Vienna Academy of Arts. As for the graphological study of the signature, it remains an insufficient method.


Leïla Lopes, IEJ2C

Yellow Jackets in Toulouse: three photographers “deliberately” targeted by the police.

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“There is clearly a tension of the police against the media,” told AFP a journalist who came last Saturday to cover the protests of Yellow Jackets in Toulouse with two other colleagues, one of whom has been “deliberately” targeted by the police and injured.

Source: AFP

Three photographers who covered last Saturday the demonstration of Yellow Jackets in Toulouse said they were “deliberately” targeted by law enforcement. AFP reported on Sunday that one of them was wounded in the thigh by a grenade.

“If I show this wound, it is to denounce a deliberate attack by law enforcement against the press,” wrote on his Facebook page Valentin Belleville, an independent photographer at the Hans Lucas agency.

Valentin Belleville, posting a picture of his thigh on his Facebook account (© CC / Facebook / ValentinBelleville)

The tension was very noticeable Saturday afternoon on the Capitol Square in Toulouse, between the protesters descended to the number of thousands on the streets for the act 13 of the mobilization of Yellow Jackets, testifies the press. In the projectile jets of some of them, the police responded with the use of water cannon and fake bullets.

“We were all three completely isolated. The demonstrators were 50 meters behind, there was no danger for the police. I am closest to the police, my colleagues are right behind me. We wear helmets stamped “Presse”, armbands, our devices are imposing and visible”, said Valentin Belleville.

However, the three reporters decided “to get out of the demonstrators not to be between the police and them,” told AFP Ulrich Lebeuf, Liberation photographer in Toulouse, who was with Valentin Belleville and another colleague, Eric Lerbret.

“A grenade” exploded at the feet of Valentin Belleville, the agency said, adding that Ulrich Lebeuf, who has been a photo reporter for 20 years, identified it as “a de-encircling grenade.”
For Eric Lerbret, the third photographer, there is “no doubt” that they were targeted. “We are aware of the risks we are taking in covering these events, but our responsibility stops when we are deliberately targeted,” he told AFP. He regretted that photographers and videographers are more and more affected “in a context of escalating violence”.

I ask for explanations. Why were identified journalists targeted? One clearly feels a tension of the forces of the order towards the media, those who make images,” said Ulrich Lebeuf.

The three photographers claimed to have reported to the General Inspection of the National Police (IGPN) and added that they would file a complaint.


Axel Nunes, IEJ 2C

Antisemitic act in Paris

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Source: BFM


Internet users accuse the “yellow vests” of being behind the sign “Juden” traced in yellow paint on the front of the bakery Bagelstein. The Minister of the Interior said that everything would be done “so that the author of this ignominy is condemned”. In particular, an investigation was opened for “incitement to racial hatred”.

The photo was published on many social networks on Sunday. It was taken by the musician Jean-Yves D’Angelo on the sidelines of Act 13 of the movement of yellow vests, Saturday in Paris. We discover the front of a franchise “Bagelstein” covered with a tag “Juden” (German for Jews).
The inscription refers to the anti-Semitic practice perpetrated in Nazi Germany, which consisted of painting this term on the store fronts held by Jewish people.

The managers of the restaurant have lodged a complaint, said the cofounder of the restaurant chain, Gilles Abecassis. “We are shocked, but we will answer these morons tomorrow in a quirky tone of bad boy. We want to keep our good mood,” said the head of the brand.

The government quickly reacted

The photo of the storefront was shared, among others, by politicians and associations fighting against racism and anti-Semitism. The tweets presenting the image are accompanied by captions expressing indignation and emotion in front of this act of hatred. Interior Minister Christophe Castaner has expressed his desire to challenge and condemn the author of this act.