Monday, April 24, 2017

French Figureheads

You don't have to speak the language to see it:

"Macron, Le Pen advance to French presidential runoff" by Alissa J. Rubin New York Times  April 23, 2017

PARIS — With 90 percent of votes counted, the Interior Ministry said former finance minister Emmanuel Macron had nearly 24 percent, giving him a slight cushion over far-right firebrand Marine Le Pen’s 22 percent. The mainstream right candidate, François Fillon, collected just under 20 percent, slightly ahead of the far-left’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon, at 19 percent.

Looks like they couldn't deny Le Pen. She probably won twice that, and that is in no way an endorsement of her. It's just the way elections are rigged.

Macron, a former investment banker, abandoned traditional parties a year ago to form his own movement with an eclectic blend of left and right views. Few analysts give Le Pen much of a chance of winning in the second round, however. Even before official results were announced, the political establishment was rallying behind Macron, warning of the dangers of a victory by Le Pen. 

What you realize there is Macron's movement and grass-roots support is non-existent compared to Le Pen. My pre$$ calls it an eclectic movement, ha-ha-ha!

Bernard Cazeneuve, the sitting Socialist prime minister, called Le Pen’s platform “dangerous and sectarian” and said it would “impoverish, isolate, and divide” the country.

“It will inevitably lead to the end of Europe and of the euro, and, eventually, to France’s relegation,” he said.

Then she will be staying on the same path you are?

For now, voters narrowly embraced Macron’s centrist calls for change over more strident appeals from the far left and the far right for France to fortify itself against immigration and globalization.

His success also suggests that despite multiple terrorist attacks in France recently, a message of outreach to immigrants and an acceptance of Muslims as well as of ethnic diversity have some currency.

Le Pen campaigned stridently against Muslim immigration, linking it to security threats, and she may have benefited from a final surge of support after a terrorist attack in Paris on Thursday.

During the campaign, Macron offered a vision of a tolerant and progressive France and a united Europe with open borders. But Le Pen — in an echo of Trump — crafted a ‘‘French-first’’ platform that called for closed borders, tougher security, less immigration, and dropping the shared euro currency to return to the French franc.

That is why she will not be allowed to win. Go back to the franc and the French economy will soar.

In his address to supporters as the returns were still being tabulated, Macron emphasized that he wanted to be the president of all France. But the results showed that the country remains deeply divided.

The fact that four candidates with markedly different views came within a few points of one another in the vote suggested that the fight about what vision of France will dominate the future is far from over.

Mélenchon refused to accept early projections that indicated his defeat. But Fillon conceded, saying that he had failed to “convince” the French. “The obstacles put on my path were too numerous, too cruel,” he said, obliquely referring to embezzlement scandals that swirled around his campaign.

Socialist presidential candidate Benoit Hamon, who was far behind in Sunday’s results, quickly conceded defeat. Declaring ‘‘the left is not dead,’’ he also urged supporters to back Macron.

In Paris, protesters angry at Le Pen’s advance — some from anarchist and antifascist groups — scuffled with police.

Officers fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. They detained three people as demonstrators burned cars, danced around bonfires, and dodged riot police. At a peaceful protest by around 300 people at the Place de la Republique some sang ‘‘No Marine and No Macron!’’

After the results were announced, French politicians on the left and right urged voters to block Le Pen’s path to power in the runoff, saying her politics would bring disaster to France.

‘‘Extremism can only bring unhappiness and division to France,’’ Fillon said. ‘‘As such, there is no other choice than to vote against the extreme right.’’

Sunday’s voting took place amid heightened security in the first election under France’s state of emergency, which has been in place since gun-and-bomb attacks in Paris in 2015. About 50,000 officers were deployed to maintain security at polling stations.

On Thursday, a gunman killed a police officer and wounded two others on Paris’ iconic Champs-Élysées boulevard before he was fatally shot.

The absence in the runoff of candidates from either the mainstream left Socialists or the right-wing Republicans party also marked a seismic shift in French politics.

France is now entering unchartered territory, because whoever wins on May 7 cannot count on the backing of France’s political mainstream parties. Both Macron and Le Pen will need legislators in Parliament to pass laws and implement much of their programs....

And they currently have none.


"Defeating Trump’s French connection" April 23, 2017

FIFTEEN YEARS AFTER her father shocked the world by making the final round of the French presidential election, Marine Le Pen repeated the feat on Sunday, finishing second in a field of 11 candidates. If anything, the stakes heading into the run-off vote are higher this time, and the potential consequences of a Le Pen victory June 7 even more ominous.

When the elder Le Pen, a longtime right-wing crackpot, advanced to the final round of voting against Jacques Chirac in 2002, virtually the entire French political world rallied to Chirac’s side. So did the international community: then-US Secretary of State Colin Powell, without specifically urging a vote against Le Pen, tipped his hand when he said: “I’m pleased that the polls suggest he will be overwhelmingly marginalized and defeated by Mr. Chirac.”

The younger Le Pen has tried to project a more moderate image since taking control of her father’s political movement, even while keeping up the anti-immigrant scare-mongering that made her father such a notorious figure.

What has really changed, though, is the international context.

When Jean-Marie Le Pen ran in 2002, he seemed like a quirky throwback, never given a serious shot at victory. Marine Le Pen, though, is riding a wave of anti-immigrant populism in Western countries that has propelled once-noxious views into the mainstream.

Running against an opponent who has never held elected office, Emmanuel Macron, she stands at least an outside chance of victory.

In a sign of how much the world has changed, President Trump, himself a beneficiary of anti-immigrant populism, has barely concealed his support for Le Pen. A Le Pen victory in May would continue the trend that began with last year’s vote in Britain to exit the European Union as well as Trump’s election in November. She wants to take France out of the European Union, and rails against Muslims and immigrants.

Macron, 39, an ardently pro-European Union candidate, could hardly make a better foil for Le Pen. He even once worked at Rothschild, the bank whose very name is an anti-Semitic dog whistle in French politics. Left-wing protesters threw a temper tantrum on the streets of Paris Sunday night after none of the leftist candidates advanced, raising fears some might sit out the final vote. But just as French voters proved a willingness to put aside partisan differences to defeat one Le Pen in 2002, one hopes Macron can rally French voters to defeat another threat to decency and tolerance in May.


Clear on who you should vote for now?


"French minister resigns over inquiry over daughters’ jobs" Associated Press  March 22, 2017

PARIS — French Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux resigned Tuesday a few hours after prosecutors opened an investigation into a report that he hired his two daughters for a series of temporary parliamentary jobs, starting when they were 15 and 16 years old.

President Francois Hollande said he had accepted Le Roux’s resignation after a meeting with Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve at the Elysee Palace.

France’s national financial prosecutor’s office opened a preliminary investigation Tuesday after TMC television reported Monday night that Le Roux employed his daughters as parliamentary assistants for a total salary amount of about $59,000.

The office said the preliminary investigation into the facts disclosed in the TV program is being led by the French police agency charged with fighting corruption and financial and tax wrongdoing.

While it is legal in France for politicians to hire family members, the TMC report suggests that Le Roux’s daughters did not perform all of the work.

Le Roux’s daughters, now 23 and 20, allegedly started working as parliamentary aides for their father over short vacation contracts when they were 15 and 16 and Le Roux was a lawmaker in the French National Assembly.

‘‘These temporary and official contracts, in accordance with the legal rules of the National Assembly, all corresponded, of course, to works actually carried out,’’ Le Roux insisted as he resigned.


Also see:

German nationalists elect top duo for general election

They want to drop the euro, and that won't be allowed.

"The Taliban hardly let up its campaign this past winter, repeatedly attacking strategic cities and towns in scattered regions, and gradually gaining influence or control over greater portions of the country...."

Looks like things are heating up on the western front, too.

"Pope Francis compares refugee centers to concentration camps" by Cleve R. Wootson Jr. Washington Post   April 23, 2017

WASHINGTON — The American Jewish Committee, which advocates for Jewish causes, released a statement saying it understood the pontiff’s sentiments but didn’t agree with his comparison.

‘‘The conditions in which migrants are currently living in some European countries may well be difficult, and deserve still greater international attention, but concentration camps they certainly are not,’’ AJC chief executive David Harris said on the group’s website.

‘‘The Nazis and their allies erected and used concentration camps for slave labor and the extermination of millions of people during World War II. There is no comparison to the magnitude of that tragedy.’’

‘‘We respectfully urge the pope to reconsider his regrettable choice of words,’’ Harris added.

According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there are 65.3 million forcibly displaced people across the world. Of the 21.3 million refugees in the world, half are children.

That's more than during WWII.

The Calais camp for migrants in northern France, nicknamed ‘‘the Jungle,’’ had cramped makeshift tents, vermin, contaminated water, and many inhabitants suffering from diseases, the Guardian reported.

In Greece, Interior Minister Panagiotis Kouroublis, touring the Idomeni camp on the border with Macedonia, also compared it to a concentration camp. Idomeni was where a photo emerged of two Syrian parents washing their newborn baby, Bayan, in a puddle.

In Jerusalem on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened Israel’s annual memorial day for the 6 million Jews systematically killed by Nazi Germany and its collaborators by saying the lessons of the Holocaust guide him daily and issuing a warning to Israel’s enemies not to test it.

The Nazis and their collaborators wiped out a third of world Jewry. The state of Israel was established just three years after the end of the war and hundreds of thousands of survivors made their way here."

And then proceeded to begin ethnically cleansing the area.


Yeah, somehow an article about the Pope and migrants turned into Israel and the Nazis.

So what military action is Israel preparing?

"North Korea is said to detain another US citizen" by Choe Sang-Hun New York Times   April 23, 2017

SEOUL — North Korea said Sunday it was ready to sink a US aircraft carrier to demonstrate its military might, as two Japanese navy ships joined a US carrier group for exercises in the western Pacific, Reuters reported.

“Our revolutionary forces are combat-ready to sink a US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with a single strike,” Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, said in a commentary. 

Don't say that; the next thing you know a false flag will be pinned on you.

The carrier USS Carl Vinson, which is heading toward the Korean Peninsula, began joint exercises Sunday with the Japanese naval ships in the Philippine Sea.

The Vinson, along with a US guided-missile cruiser and guided-missile destroyer, are continuing their journey north in the western Pacific Ocean, the Navy said.

Can we be sure of that?

The Vinson had canceled a scheduled visit to Australia to divert toward North Korea in a show of force, though it still conducted a curtailed training exercise with Australia before doing so....

The Times did a good job of clearing up that deception, 'er, misunderstanding.


I don't know about the most recent spy/defector they arrested; however, it can only be interpreted as a hostile act despite the assassination attempt that was cheered in some quarters.


Kim Jong Un’s half brother is reported assassinated in Malaysia
Malaysia arrests 2nd suspect in N. Korean’s death
N. Korea won’t accept result of autopsy on leader’s half brother
North Korean charged in slaying of Kim’s half brother
Malaysia seeks to question 7 in killing of Kim Jong Nam
North Korea says Malaysia can’t be trusted to investigate killing of Kim’s half brother The already sensational case is becoming more dramatic by the day.

Which is why it stinks to high heaven.

Malaysia: No cause of death yet for exiled North Korean South Korea’s spy agency believes North Korea was behind the killing, but has produced no evidence.

Yeah, well....

Suspects in N. Korean death coated hands with poison
Police say nerve agent found on Kim Jong Un’s slain half-brother
In Kim Jong Nam’s death, North Korea lets loose a weapon of mass destruction, a stark reminder of the North’s lesser-known weapons of mass destruction: a stockpile of chemical and biological weapons.

Here we go again!

Airport declared free of nerve agent
Poisoning of Kim caused paralysis, quick death, a well-planned hit by two women


N. Korean ministries organized Kim Jong Nam killing, the South says

Then you know where the blame truly lies.

N. Korea: Heart attack, not nerve agent, killed Kim Jong Nam Ri Tong Il, the former North Korean deputy ambassador to the United Nations, told the media that it made no sense to say the two women used such a deadly toxin without also killing or sickening themselves and bystanders.

Yeah, a lot of people on the web have pointed that out.

Malaysia, in major diplomatic break, forces out North Korean ambassador
North Korea, citing Kim Jong Nam dispute, blocks Malaysians from exiting

Tit for tat until the get the body back?

Malaysia says Kim Jong Nam’s body released to North Korea

Then the missile test got everyone on edge, and the end result benefited whom

White House reverses course, cancels North Korea talks

'twas the first of many reversals with this guy.

If he's going to do anything, he'll have to do it before the elections. Hopefully, China can cool things down before then.

Looks like the war has already begun.


This is not Brexit or Trump, so say au revoir to Marine Le Pen

From the same pre$$ who continuously claimed Clinton would win. Not only do they never learn, they continue peddling the same crap.

Related: The ‘Alt Right’ is Limited Hangout 

I knew that. Think of the political spectrum as a funnel.

"Few gave credence to the prospect that Le Pen could actually deliver on her radical promises. Even if she were to shock pollsters and win, her party would almost certainly fall well short of claiming a majority in the French Parliament after legislative elections in June. She would be relegated to figurehead status, with governing handled by a prime minister selected by the party in command...."

Siren wails as Israel marks annual Holocaust Remembrance Day

Not a word about Korea today?