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Copying Hillary Clinton, now France’s Emmanuel Macron claims to be Russia’s target

French Presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron claims – like Hillary Clinton before him – to be the target of a Russian ‘fake news’/cyber attack even as official investigations in Germany cast doubt on claims of Russian involvement in European politics.

Alexander Mercouris

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It was completely predictable and it has now happened.

Emmanuel Macron, the ‘Golden Boy’ candidate who is now being heavily promoted in the French Presidential election by the French and European establishment, and who – not coincidentally – is the only candidate in the French Presidential election who supports the current confrontational policy against Russia, has borrowed a leaf from Hillary Clinton’s play-book and is alleging that he will be the target of a ‘fake news’/cyber attack organised by Russia.

The way in which this is being done is set out in an article in the Financial Times, which quotes the head of Macron’s campaign and the French Defence Minister, and which conveys dark hints of reports by the French counter intelligence service.

Here is what the Financial Times is reporting

Emmanuel Macron’s campaign has accused Russia and its state-owned media of using hacking and fake news to interfere with the French presidential race, which the novice politician is favourite to win. Richard Ferrand, who is managing Mr Macron’s campaign, said there were “hundreds and even thousands” of hacking attempts emanating from Russia and said false news reports were “weighing on our democratic life”.

“Today we must look at the facts: two main media, Russia Today and Sputnik, which belong to the Russian state, are spreading fake news,” he said on France 2 television.

His comments tap into a growing fear in the European intelligence community that Russia could try to influence this year’s presidential and parliamentary elections in France as well as Dutch and German polls. This follows accusations by US intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the US presidential election last year, carrying out attacks on the Democratic party’s computers.

The Kremlin dismissed the claims as a “witch-hunt”. Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French defence minister, last month warned that a “massive diffusion of false information” could be used as a tool to influence the election. The French anti-cyberespionage agency, ANSSI, last year briefed the presidential candidates’ campaigns on possible threats.

The actual ‘evidence’ that Macron is the subject of such an attack is provided in a different article by the Daily Telegraph

Some observers believe a less spectacular, but no less coordinated, combination of leaks and misinformation were on display last weekend, when Russian news outlets ran a series of stories about Emmanuel Macron, the only French presidential candidate who does not advocate a rethink of Paris’s position on sanctions.

Last Friday, Julian Assange told the pro-government paper Izvestia that Wikileaks had obtained material compromising to Mr Macron. On Sunday night Dmitry Kiselev, a notoriously partisan pro-Kremlin television presenter, used his weekly news roundup on national Television to launch a blistering attack on Mr Macron in what he called “the Battle for France.”

On Monday, Sputnik, the Russian state news agency, ran an interview with a conservative French MP who said Mr Macron works for the American banking interests, is supported by a “powerful gay lobby,” and is rumoured to be in a long-running extra martial affair with another man.

Mr Macron laughed off the allegations, saying on Monday that “If you’re told I lead a double life with Mr Gallet it’s because my hologram has escaped.”

None of this remotely lives up to the claims of a sinister Russian ‘fake news’/cyber attack on Macron.

What Dmitry Kiselev says to Russian television viewers can have no bearing on the outcome of the French Presidential election, whilst Izvestia’s interview of Julian Assange and Sputnik’s interview of a French conservative MP look like legitimate news reporting.

Interestingly the Daily Telegraph itself casts doubt on the whole anti-Russian ‘fake news’/cyber warfare story.  Thus we read things in its article like this

Proving that is another matter, however. A year-long investigation the BND (German foreign intelligence) and BfV (German domestic intelligence) concluded last week that Russia was pursuing a “hostile strategy,” but failed to establish a definite link between the Lisa case and the Russian authorities.

“We have’t found a smoking gun,” Süddeutsche Zeitung quoted an unnamed government source as saying. “We’d have liked to have shown them the yellow card.”

The report also examined suspicions of Russian funding or other links to the far-Right Alternative for  Germany (AfD) party but found no evidence.

Another case examined in the report was a claim, spread last year from a Russian Whatsapp message and heavily circulated by Russian-speaking Germans, that Arab men were planning a Valentine’s Day mass rape of German women. Unlike the Lisa case, this was a complete fabrication. But the report concluded the effort was amateurish and the Kremlin was not involved. The Witch Hunt That has left some Western politicians feeling “Russian hacking” has become a convenient means with which to smear the Euro-sceptic right.

At this point it needs to be said that the German investigation is so far the only official investigation carried out by a European intelligence agency into the whole “Russian ‘fake news’/cyber warfare” story which is known about and which has reported its findings, and it is clear that it has drawn a complete blank.

In other words no official confirmation exists that in Europe Russia is trying to influence anyone, and the whole anti-Russia ‘fake news’/cyber warfare hysteria is being spun out of thin air.

This starting to be noticed by some people.  Thus elsewhere in the Daily Telegraph article we read things like this

“I find many of the accusations about hacking and false news and everything are being presented without much clear evidence,” said Thierry Baudet, a Dutch MEP and the founder of Forum voor Democratie, which campaigns for Holland to leave the European Union.

“And it seems to suit the opposition’s position surprisingly well. I would be much more suspicious and demanding a factual basis for what they are saying,” he told the Telegraph. Mr Baudet, who says he sees himself as an ally of Daniel Hannan, the arch Eurosceptic Tory MEP, is no stranger to accusations of pro-Russian bias.

He campaigned for a no vote in a Dutch referendum on ratifying the EU association agreement with Ukraine and has questioned the independence of the investigation into the downing of Malaysian airlines flight MH17 over east Ukraine – both positions that fit closely with Kremlin interests.

He describes his position on both issues as “”pro-Dutch” rather than “pro-Russian” and says he does not have strong opinions about Nato’s current confrontation with Russia.

“What we were saying, and the Dutch people agreed with us, is that it was not in our national interests to associate ourselves with a country as corrupt as Ukraine. I don’t know if that is the same as being pro-Russian,” he said.

The Dutch foreign ministry admitted this week that it had not verified that the signatures gathered to trigger the referendum were genuine. Mr Baudet denied that called the legitimacy of the vote into question, saying no one had presented any evidence that the signatures had been tampered with.

Discriminating between inconvenient news and a security threat, and the dangers of legitimate concerns turning into a witch-hunt against dissenting thought, are two of the biggest problems of fighting what Russian hawks call an “information war.” Perhaps worse is over reacting.

“A couple of months ago we underestimated Russian influence in media and cyber attacks  and so on – no one was looking at it  and no one was thinking about it,” said Dr Meister.  “Now I think  it is just the opposite – we are overestimating Russian ability to influence electoral behaviour. There is even a kind of a panic now,” he added.

That some people – in the Netherlands especially – are starting to notice that this latest witch-hunt is not based on evidence but depends entirely on paranoia and hysteria is important.  However that is not preventing opportunists like Emmanuel Macron from trying to take advantage of it.

Whether in the end it does him any more good than it did Hillary Clinton is another matter.

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New Satellite Images Reveal Aftermath Of Israeli Strikes On Syria; Putin Accepts Offer to Probe Downed Jet

The images reveal the extent of destruction in the port city of Latakia, as well as the aftermath of a prior strike on Damascus International Airport.

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Via Zerohedge


An Israeli satellite imaging company has released satellite photographs that reveal the extent of Monday night’s attack on multiple locations inside Syria.

ImageSat International released them as part of an intelligence report on a series of Israeli air strikes which lasted for over an hour and resulted in Syrian missile defense accidentally downing a Russian surveillance plane that had 15 personnel on board.

The images reveal the extent of destruction on one location struck early in attack in the port city of Latakia, as well as the aftermath of a prior strike on Damascus International Airport. On Tuesday Israel owned up to carrying out the attack in a rare admission.

Syrian official SANA news agency reported ten people injured in the attacks carried out of military targets near three major cities in Syria’s north.

The Times of Israel, which first reported the release of the new satellite images, underscores the rarity of Israeli strikes happening that far north and along the coast, dangerously near Russian positions:

The attack near Latakia was especially unusual because the port city is located near a Russian military base, the Khmeimim Air Force base. The base is home to Russian jet planes and an S-400 aerial defense system. According to Arab media reports, Israel has rarely struck that area since the Russians arrived there.

The Russian S-400 system was reportedly active during the attack, but it’s difficult to confirm or assess the extent to which Russian missiles responded during the strikes.

Three of the released satellite images show what’s described as an “ammunition warehouse” that appears to have been completely destroyed.

The IDF has stated their airstrikes targeted a Syrian army facility “from which weapons-manufacturing systems were supposed to be transferred to Iran and Hezbollah.” This statement came after the IDF expressed “sorrow” for the deaths of Russian airmen, but also said responsibility lies with the “Assad regime.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also phoned Russian President Vladimir Putin to express regret over the incident while offering to send his air force chief to Russia with a detailed report — something which Putin agreed to.

According to Russia’s RT News, “Major-General Amikam Norkin will arrive in Moscow on Thursday, and will present the situation report on the incident, including the findings of the IDF inquiry regarding the event and the pre-mission information the Israeli military was so reluctant to share in advance.”

Russia’s Defense Ministry condemned the “provocative actions by Israel as hostile” and said Russia reserves “the right to an adequate response” while Putin has described the downing of the Il-20 recon plane as likely the result of a “chain of tragic accidental circumstances” and downplayed the idea of a deliberate provocation, in contradiction of the initial statement issued by his own defense ministry.

Pro-government Syrians have reportedly expressed frustration this week that Russia hasn’t done more to respond militarily to Israeli aggression; however, it appears Putin may be sidestepping yet another trap as it’s looking increasingly likely that Israel’s aims are precisely geared toward provoking a response in order to allow its western allies to join a broader attack on Damascus that could result in regime change.

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“Transphobic” Swedish Professor May Lose Job After Noting Biological Differences Between Sexes

A university professor in Sweden is under investigation after he said that there are fundamental differences between men and women which are “biologically founded”

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Via Zerohedge


A university professor in Sweden is under investigation for “anti-feminism” and “transphobia” after he said that there are fundamental differences between men and women which are “biologically founded” and that genders cannot be regarded as “social constructs alone,” reports Academic Rights Watch.

For his transgression, Germund Hesslow – a professor of neuroscience at Lund University – who holds dual PhDs in philosophy and neurophysiology, may lose his job – telling RT that a “full investigation” has been ordered, and that there “have been discussions about trying to stop the lecture or get rid of me, or have someone else give the lecture or not give the lecture at all.”

“If you answer such a question you are under severe time pressure, you have to be extremely brief — and I used wording which I think was completely innocuous, and that apparently the student didn’t,” Hesslow said.

Hesslow was ordered to attend a meeting by Christer Larsson, chairman of the program board for medical education, after a female student complained that Hesslow had a “personal anti-feminist agenda.” He was asked to distance himself from two specific comments; that gay women have a “male sexual orientation” and that the sexual orientation of transsexuals is “a matter of definition.”

The student’s complaint reads in part (translated):

I have also heard from senior lecturers that Germund Hesslow at the last lecture expressed himself transfobically. In response to a question of transexuallism, he said something like “sex change is a fly”. Secondly, it is outrageous because there may be students during the lecture who are themselves exposed to transfobin, but also because it may affect how later students in their professional lives meet transgender people. Transpersonals already have a high level of overrepresentation in suicide statistics and there are already major shortcomings in the treatment of transgender in care, should not it be countered? How does this kind of statement coincide with the university’s equal treatment plan? What has this statement given for consequences? What has been done for this to not be repeated? –Academic Rights Watch

After being admonished, Hesslow refused to distance himself from his comments, saying that he had “done enough” already and didn’t have to explain and defend his choice of words.

At some point, one must ask for a sense of proportion among those involved. If it were to become acceptable for students to record lectures in order to find compromising formulations and then involve faculty staff with meetings and long letters, we should let go of the medical education altogether,” Hesslow said in a written reply to Larsson.

He also rejected the accusation that he had a political agenda – stating that his only agenda was to let scientific factnot new social conventions, dictate how he teaches his courses.

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Despite Pledge Not to, Germany Approves Sale of Arms to Saudi Arabia

Germany is the latest to renege on promises to ban weapons sales for use in the Yemen War.

The Duran

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Authored by Jason Ditz via AntiWar.com:


With Saudi Arabia forever escalating their war in Yemen, the growing calls by human rights groups to stop selling them arms with which to commit war crimes are struggling to compete with the vast sums of money the Saudis are offering for those arms.

Germany is the latest to renege on promises to ban weapons sales for use in the Yemen War, announcing Wednesday that the Economy Minister has greenlit a new round of artillery systems for sale to the Saudis.

The systems are designed for precise counterattack, and are clearly being bought explicitly to use in Yemen. Yet the Merkel government, as part of its coalition deal, announced a full export ban to “any sides fighting in Yemen,” including the Saudis.

While this was at the time supposed to be a condition of the Social Democrats joining the government. So far, Merkel has not explained why the sale was approved over the putative ban, and the Social Democrats have not complained either.

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