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Oliver Stone says Macron’s Trump visit ‘very depressing’

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Filmmaker Oliver Stone, attending a film festival in Iran on Wednesday, said French President Emmanuel Macron’s trip to Washington had been “very depressing” and marked a return to the “imperialism of old France”.

Stone, who is half-French, said he was “particularly shocked” to see Macron standing alongside President Donald Trump, calling for a revision of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

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“I couldn’t believe it,” Stone told AFP after a press conference in Tehran.

“I remember very well President (Jacques) Chirac with great pride when he said no to George Bush when he wanted to invade Iraq (in 2003).

“And now to see this young man, who doesn’t have much of a sense of history or memory of the great traditions of France… was very depressing.”

Trump and Macron called for a “new” deal with Iran on Tuesday that would limit Iran’s ballistic missile program and support for militant groups across the Middle East.

The US president has threatened to walk away from the existing deal, which curbed Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief, by the next renewal deadline on May 12.

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Stone, a fierce critic of US foreign policy over many decades, said Macron, like one of his predecessors Nicolas Sarkozy, “wants to stand alongside the Americans as a sign of French power”.

“This is a return to the colonialism and imperialism of the old France. This is what President De Gaulle swore off with the Algerian War in 1958-9 when he called it quits,” he said.

“Mr Macron has to learn that he cannot be an imperialist.”

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No let-up in French strikes as fresh turmoil hits weekend

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The most serious nationwide strike to hit France in years caused new weekend travel turmoil on Saturday, with unions warning the walkouts would last well into next week.

The challenge thrown to President Emmanuel Macron over his plans for radical pension reform has seen hundreds of thousands take to the streets and key transport services brought to a standstill.

The strikes, which began on Thursday, have recalled the winter of 1995, when three weeks of huge stoppages forced a social policy U-turn by the then-government.

Unions have vowed a second series of mass demonstrations nationwide on Tuesday after big rallies on Thursday and there is expected to be little easing of the transport freezes over the coming days.

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PG&E agrees to $13.5 billion payout for deadly California fires

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California's Pacific Gas and Electric will pay $13.5 billion to settle lawsuits over its role in a series of wildfires that killed scores of people and destroyed thousands of homes, the utility giant said Friday.

Faulty PG&E powerlines were blamed for sparking last year's so-called Camp Fire in northern California -- the deadliest in the state's history -- that left 86 people dead.

Outdated facilities including vulnerable wooden poles and failure to deforest land surrounding high-voltage transmission lines were blamed for the inferno, prompting accusations the San Francisco-based firm had put profit before safety.

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Russia likely listened to Trump when he used unsecured phone to call Giuliani: security officials

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Russia likely learned of President Donald Trump’s Ukraine dealings months before they were exposed by a whistleblower report, because he used unsecured phone lines to speak with his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, current and former officials told The Washington Post.

This article first appeared in Salon.

Phone records released in the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment report this week showed that Giuliani made multiple calls to a blocked number listed as “-1.” Though Trump is not identified by name in the records, investigators believe the number belongs to Trump, and administration officials confirmed that Trump spoke with Giuliani on unsecured lines.

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