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Macron and Le Pen: Two faces of the same con

The illusion of choice.

Gilbert Mercier

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It is sad that a nation defined by a great revolution has come to this: the docile copycat of a pseudo-ideological struggle at play elsewhere between globalism and nationalism.

It is sad that in the country of Danton, Mirabeau, Montesquieu and de Gaulle millions have become resigned to their fate and submissive like farm animals.

It is sad when lions behave like sheep, but it doesn’t have to be that way in France. The French electoral system and its two-round presidential election gave citizens a lot of options for their big-ticket item.

Yet, after the first round, from either impulses dictated by anger and fear, or some convoluted Byzantine calculus, the French people have once again shot themselves in the foot and embraced their own collective submission in the old adage: plus ce la change, plus c’est la même chose.

It seems that, regardless of the country, the handful of kingmakers of the global corporate elite finds ways to con the citizenry into dead-end choices, ways to breed an eternal status quo that serves their interests and places their servile politicians in apparent positions of power.

In a global economic system where eight men own as much as one half the world population, income and wealth have been siphoned upward at an alarming rate. Banker Nathan de Rothschild once bluntly said, “I care not what puppet is placed on the throne of England to rule the British Empire on which the sun never sets. The man that controls Britain’s money supply controls the British Empire, and I control the British money supply.”

Anti-establishment Rothschild man

One of Emmanuel Macron’s keys to success in the first round of the French presidential election was to pose as a political outsider. Let us keep in mind that he was a member of the Socialist Party and also Minister of Economy and Finance for two years in the unpopular Hollande administration. As a matter of fact, he was groomed at the exclusive École Normale d’Administration (ENA), which is the hallmark of almost all the so-called French top public servants.

Pretending to be an outsider is his best campaign trick. In 2016, Macron shrewdly did a bait-and-switch and started his own En Marche! Party, to distance himself from Hollande. One cannot help but notice the Orwellian irony of a former Rothschild banker’s party name echoing a verse and the mood of the revolutionary song “La Marseillaise.”

As expressed by last year’s movement Nuit Debout, France, like most countries worldwide, is fed up with its conventional political class. The French term raz le bol captures this notion best and also implies that, at any given point, spillovers will occur in the form of social unrest.

Many in the international press, for the sake of analogy and simplification, compare Emmanuel Macron to Hillary Clinton and Marine Le Pen to Donald Trump but, as a matter of fact, Macron’s trajectory is similar to that of Trump in the sense of pretending to be anti-establishment and not to belong to the conventional political class.

Like Trump, Macron’s recipe for success is the made-up charm of the fake political outsider. Of course Macron is purely an establishment tool, a company man just like Trump, and he will be France’s next president, handpicked by the Rothschild family. The country’s political system has become moribund and democracy not much more than a con game. Case in point: regardless of the French people’s fate, the global financial market was already salivating after the first round at the prospect of a Macron victory.

Vichy patriot

After five years of the corporate technocrat fake-socialist François Hollande’s presidency, many in France were hoping that Jean-Luc Mélenchon would be in the second round against Marine Le Pen to give the country a real-left political option. But Mélenchon came in fourth, behind Fillon, Le Pen, and Macron respectively third, second, and first.

What was remarkable about the French presidential first round is that the top four candidates came within less than a four-percent margin bracket in the polls, in a range of 19 to 23 percent of the votes.

The third-placed François Fillon has already urged his supporters to vote Macron. The leader of La France Insoumise, Mélenchon, who has denounced the elections as a charade and said that France was on its way to become a banana republic, came up short of endorsing Macron but said that he would vote in the second round and that it will be under no circumstance for Le Pen.

It happened before in France: a sort of union sacrée is shaping up to prevent the Front National’s candidate from getting elected.

Many French people feel that they now have a moribund democracy, at least as far as the executive branch of government, which has been reduced to a lesser of two evils scenario all too familiar to American voters.

It is incredibly ironic that Marine Le Pen has lately styled herself after General de Gaulle, and even called her supporters patriots, after shamelessly seeking some form of foreign endorsement from both Moscow and Washington.

Le Pen’s fans in Russia and the United States, as well as her sometimes gullible French supporters, should remember that the Front National ancestor, called Action Française, was the ideological force behind the rise of fascism in Germany and Italy in the 1930s. Older generations of French people will not forget that her father and former Front National leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, was on the side of the military junta that wanted to topple the French Republic in a coup during the war in Algeria.

Marine Le Pen has said that “Macron is the candidate of the oligarchy and I am the candidate of the people.”

She is right about Macron, but wrong in her case, as she still represents La France aux Français, a notion with a clearly noxious Vichy aftertaste.

Le Pen’s fundamental xenophobia makes her a candidate of exclusion in a country that has become a racial and, to some extent, a cultural melting pot brought in the form of the poetic justice of colonialism in reverse.

One look at the French national football team, largely composed of players with African or North-African ethnic roots, is a testimony of France’s multi-racial reality. Le Pen might drape herself under the patriotic tricolor, but she still exudes the stench of the World War II pro-German Vichy government.

Ideological con: globalism versus nationalism

The French presidential election is getting worldwide attention like no other French election ever before. This is because it superficially opposes the Rothschild-certified globalist Macron to the nationalist Le Pen. In what seems to be the universal political debate of our times, the nationalist alternative right, which supported Trump and now supports Le Pen, fails to understand that you can only be anti-globalist if you are also anti-capitalist, or at least anti-corporate imperialist.

In the US the remaining Trump supporters cheer for Le Pen and attack Macron. This is a conveniently exotic distraction from the fact that Trump has fully embraced the neocon globalist ideology of his predecessors and is therefore getting high marks from the likes of John McCain and Paul Wolfowitz. It’s amazing what a few bombs dropped randomly on Syria and Afghanistan can do for a president’s popularity!

The victim of the global con game is democracy itself, an electoral chance to the real left. Far-right nationalists are on the rise worldwide because they have adopted an anti-globalist discourse partially stolen from the left, and also because the global domination of finance has become so extreme that it is now a form of dictatorship. Macron, who will be elected president of France, is a servant of this global corporate imperialism, but so is Trump despite his original nationalistic and non-interventionist rhetoric of a supposed outsider. Plus cela change, plus c’est la même chose, until la France Insoumise decides to forget the ballot box and take its revolt into the streets.

Gilbert Mercer’s piece was originally published at newsjunkiepost.com

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Beijing Threatens “Severe” Retaliation Against Canada If Huawei CFO Is Not Released

China’s warning marks an escalation in Beijing’s rhetoric as investors worry that the arrest could cause the shaky trade detente between the US and China to devolve into acrimony.

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Via Zerohedge


Canada’s extraordinary arrest one week ago of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei founder and billionaire executive Ren Zhengfei, and its decision to charge her with “multiple” counts of fraud – a preamble to her likely extradition to the US to face charges of knowingly violating US and EU sanctions on Iran – has elicited widespread anger in Beijing, which declared Meng’s detention a “violation of human rights” during a bail hearing for the jailed executive on Friday.

That anger has apparently only intensified after the hearing adjourned without a decision (it will resume on Monday, allowing Meng’s defense team to argue for why she should be released on bail, contrary to the wishes of government attorneys who are prosecuting the case).

And with Canada insisting that it will prosecute Meng to the full extent of the law over allegations that she mislead banks about the true relationship of a Huawei subsidiary called Skycom, angry Chinese officials have decided to issue an ultimatum directly to the Canadian ambassador, who was summoned to a meeting in Beijing on Saturday and told in no uncertain terms that Canada will face “severe consequences” if Meng isn’t released, according to the Wall Street Journal.

China’s foreign ministry publicized the warning in a statement (though Canadian officials have yet to comment):

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summoned Canada’s ambassador to Beijing, John McCallum, on Saturday to deliver the warning, according to a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The statement doesn’t mention the name of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, though it refers to a Huawei “principal” taken into custody at U.S. request while changing planes in Vancouver, as was Ms. Meng. The statement accuses Canada of “severely violating the legal, legitimate rights of a Chinese citizen” and demands the person’s release.

“Otherwise there will be severe consequences, and Canada must bear the full responsibility,” said the statement, which was posted online late Saturday.

Phone calls to the Canadian Embassy rang unanswered while the Canadian government’s global affairs media office didn’t immediately respond to an email request for comment.

The warning marks an escalation in Beijing’s rhetoric as investors worry that the arrest could cause the shaky trade detente between the US and China to devolve into acrimony. A federal judge issued a warrant for Meng’s arrest back in August. Though after she was made aware of the warrant, Meng avoided travel to the US. She was arrested in Vancouver last Saturday while traveling to Mexico.

Aside from breaking off trade talks, some are worried that Beijing could seek to retaliate in kind by arresting a notable US executive. While the threats of Chinese bureaucrats might not amount to much in the eyes of US prosecutors, threatening a US executive with long-term detention in a Chinese “reeducation camp” just might.

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The trials of Julian Assange

Eresh Omar Jamal interviews Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi in relation to the situation of Julian Assange.

The Duran

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Authored by Eresh Omar Jamal for The Daily Star (Bangladesh):


Stefania Maurizi is an investigative journalist working for the Italian daily La Repubblica. She has worked on all WikiLeaks releases of secret documents and partnered with Glenn Greenwald to reveal the Snowden Files about Italy. She has authored two books—Dossier WikiLeaks: Segreti Italiani and Una Bomba, Dieci Storie. In an exclusive interview with Eresh Omar Jamal of The Daily Star, Maurizi talks about the continued arbitrary detention of Julian Assange, why powerful governments see WikiLeaks as an existential threat, and the implications for global press freedom if Assange is prosecuted for publishing secret government documents.

You recently had the chance to visit Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. When was this and can you describe the state he is in?

I was able to visit him on November 19, after 8 months of failed attempts, because last March the Ecuadorian authorities cut off all his social and professional contacts, with the exception of his lawyers, and in the preceding 8 months, I had asked for permission to visit him nine times without success—the Ecuadorian authorities didn’t reply at all to my requests.

When I was finally granted permission to visit the WikiLeaks founder at the Ecuadorian embassy in London last November, I was literally shocked to see the huge impact his isolation has had on his health. Because I have worked as a media partner with him and his organisation, WikiLeaks, for the last nine years, I have met him many times and can tell when there are any changes in his body and mind. I wondered how his mind could keep working; but after talking to him in the embassy for two hours, I have no doubt that his mind is working fine. I still wonder how that’s possible after six and a half years of detention without even one hour of being outdoors. I would have had a physical and mental breakdown after just 6 months, not after 6 years.

Detention and isolation are killing him slowly, and no one is doing anything to stop it. The media reports, the commentators comment, but at the end of the day, he is still there; having spent the last six and a half years confined to a tiny building with no access to sunlight or to proper medical treatment. And this is happening in London, in the heart of Europe. He is not sitting in an embassy in Pyongyang. It is truly tragic and completely unacceptable. And I’m simply appalled at the way the UK authorities have contributed to his arbitrary detention, and have opposed any solution to this intractable legal and diplomatic quagmire.

Having bravely defended Assange for years, the Ecuadorian government in late March cut off almost all his communications with the outside world. What prompted this turnabout and what is its purpose?

Politics has completely changed in Ecuador, and more in general, in Latin America, since 2012, when Ecuador granted Julian Assange asylum. I have never had any interviews with the current Ecuadorian President, Mr Lenin Moreno, but based on his public declarations, it’s rather obvious to me that he does not approve of what Julian Assange and WikiLeaks do.

With all his problems, Rafael Correa (former president of Ecuador) protected Assange from the very beginning, whereas Lenin Moreno considers him a liability. Moreno is under pressure from the right-wing politicians in Ecuador, and also from very powerful governments, like the US and UK governments, who will leave no stones unturned to jail Assange and destroy WikiLeaks. I am not sure how long Lenin Moreno will hold out against this immense pressure, provided that he wants to hold out at all.

Assange was vindicated not so long ago as to why he cannot leave the embassy when the US Department of Justice “accidentally” revealed in November that the founder of WikiLeaks had been secretly charged in the US. What do you think those charges are for?

It’s hard to say unless the charges get declassified and I really appreciate how the US organisation, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, is fighting before the court in the Eastern District of Virginia, US, to have the charges declassified.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the US authorities have always wanted to charge him for WikiLeaks’ publications. They have wanted to do so from the very beginning, since 2010, when WikiLeaks released its bombshell publications like the US diplomatic cables.

But the US authorities have been unable to do so due to the fact that WikiLeaks’ publication activities enjoy constitutional protection thanks to the First Amendment. So it will be very interesting to see how they will get around this constitutional protection in order to be able to charge him and other WikiLeaks journalists and put them all in jail.

Why have some of the most powerful governments and intelligence agencies invested so much resources to attack Assange and WikiLeaks?

You have to realise what it meant for the US national security complex to witness the publication of 76,000 secret documents about the war in Afghanistan, and then another 390,000 secret reports about the war in Iraq; followed by 251,287 US diplomatic cables and 779 secret files on the Guantanamo detainees; and to watch WikiLeaks save Edward Snowden, while the US was trying everything it could do, to show the world that there is no way of exposing the NSA’s secrets and keep your head attached to your neck having done so.

You have to realise what this means in an environment like that of the US, where even the most brilliant national security reporters didn’t dare to publish the name of the head of the CIA Counterterrorism Center, Michael D’Andrea, even though his name and the abuses committed by his centre were open secrets within their inner circles. Although the New York Times finally did, later on. But this was and still is the reality in the US, and even though it may not be as bad in the UK, it’s still quite bad. Look at what happened with the arrest of Glenn Greenwald’s husband, David Miranda, at the Heathrow Airport during the publication of the Snowden Files. Look at what happened with The Guardian being forced to destroy its hard drives during the publication of those files.

There are different levels of power in our societies and generally in our western democracies, criticism against the low, medium and high levels of power via journalistic activities is tolerated. Journalists may get hit with libel cases, have troubles with their careers; however, exposing those levels is permitted. The problem is when journalists and media organisations touch the highest levels, the levels where states and intelligence agencies operate.

WikiLeaks is a media organisation that has published secret documents about these entities for years, and Julian Assange and his staff have done this consistently, not occasionally like all the other media organisations do. You can imagine the anger these powerful entities have towards WikiLeaks—they perceive WikiLeaks as an existential threat and they want to set an example that says, “Don’t you dare expose our secrets and crimes, because if you do, we will smash you.”

If Assange is prosecuted, what impact might it have on other publishers and journalists and on press freedom globally?

It will have a huge impact and that is why organisations like the American Civil Liberties Union are speaking out. Never before in the US has an editor and media organisation ended up in jail for publishing information in the public interest. If Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks’ staff end up in jail, it will be the first time in US history and will set a devastating precedent for attack on press freedom in the US, but actually, not only in the US. Because if a country like the US, in which the activities of the press enjoy constitutional protection, treats journalists this way, you can imagine how other countries where the press doesn’t enjoy such strong protection will react. It will send a clear message to them: “Your hands are free.”

At the end of the day, I think there are two sides to this Assange and WikiLeaks saga: the US-UK national security complex, but more in general, I would say, the people within the national security complex, who want to destroy Julian Assange and WikiLeaks to send a clear message to journalists: “Don’t mess with us if you don’t want your lives to be destroyed.” While on the other side, there are the freedom of the press guys, meaning journalists like me, who want to demonstrate the exact opposite: that we can expose power at the highest levels, we can expose the darkest corners of governments and come out alive and well. And actually, we must do this, because real power is invisible and hides in the darkest corners.

Eresh Omar Jamal is a journalist for The Daily Star (Bangladesh). You can find him on Twitter: @EreshOmarJamal and Stefania Maurizi: @SMaurizi

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Diplomacy a Waste of Time with Washington

Trump’s JCPOA pullout and threatened INF Treaty withdrawal show Washington can never be trusted.

The Duran

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Authored by Stephen Lendman:


The US is a serial lawbreaker, operating by its own rules, no others.

Time and again, it flagrantly breaches international treaties, Security Council resolutions, and other rule of law principles, including its own Constitution.

Diplomacy with Republicans and undemocratic Dems is an exercise in futility.

Trump’s JCPOA pullout and threatened INF Treaty withdrawal show Washington can never be trusted.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova’s proposed US outreach to discuss INF Treaty bilateral differences is well intended – despite knowing nothing is accomplished when talks with Washington are held, so why bother.

It’s just a matter of time before the US breaches another promise. They’re hollow when made. Kremlin good intentions aren’t enough to overcome US duplicity and implacable hostility toward Russia.

“We are ready to continue the dialogue in appropriate formats on the entire range of problems related to this document on the basis of professionalism and mutual respect, without putting forward unsubstantiated accusations and ultimatums. Our proposals are well known and remain on the negotiating table,” said Zakharova, adding:

“We have admitted (US) documents for further consideration. This text again includes accusations in the form of unfounded and unsubstantiated information about Russia’s alleged violations of this deal.

Comments to Washington like the above and similar remarks are like talking to a wall. The US demands all countries bend to its will, offering nothing in return but betrayal – especially in dealings with Russia, China, Iran, and other sovereign independent governments it seeks to replace with pro-Western puppet ones.

Not a shred of evidence suggests Russia violated its INF Treaty obligations. The accusation is baseless like all others against the Kremlin.

“No one has officially or by any other means handed over to Russia any files or facts, confirming that Russia breaches or does not comply with this deal,” Zakharova stressed, adding:

“We again confirm our consistent position that the INF Treaty is one of the key pillars of strategic stability and international security.”

It’s why the Trump regime intends abolishing it by pulling out. Strategic stability and international security defeat its agenda. Endless wars and chaos serve it.

The US, UK, France, Israel, and their imperial partners get away with repeated international law breaches because the EU, UN, and rest of the world community lack backbone enough to challenge them.

It’s how it is no matter how egregious their actions, notably their endless wars of aggression, supporting the world’s worst tinpot pot despots, and failing to back the rights of persecuted Palestinians and other long-suffering people.

The only language Republicans and Dems understand is toughness. Putin pretends a Russian/US partnership exists to his discredit – a show of weakness, not strength and responsible leadership.

In response to the Trump regime’s intention to withdraw from the INF Treaty, he said Russia will “react accordingly” – precisely what, he didn’t say.

A few suggestions, Mr. President.

  • Recall your ambassador to Washington. Expel the Trump regime’s envoy from Moscow and other key embassy personnel.
  • Arrest US spies in Russia you long ago identified. Imprison them until the US releases all Russian political prisoners. Agree to swap US detainees for all of them, no exceptions.
  • Install enough S-400 air defense systems to cover all Syrian airspace. Warn Washington, Britain, France and Israel that their aircraft, missiles and other aerial activities in its airspace will be destroyed in flight unless permission from Damascus is gotten – clearly not forthcoming.
  • Publicly and repeatedly accuse the above countries of supporting the scourge of ISIS and likeminded terrorists they pretend to oppose.
  • Warn them in no uncertain terms that their aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic no longer will be tolerated. Tell them the same goes if they dare attack Iran.
  • Stop pretending Mohammad bin Salman didn’t order Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, along with ignoring the kingdom’s horrendous human rights abuses domestically and abroad – including support for ISIS and other terrorists.
  • Put observance of rule of law principles and honor above dirty business as usual with the kingdom and other despotic regimes for profits.
  • Do the right things at all times and damn the short-term consequences – including toughness on Washington, the UK, Israel, and their imperial partners in high crimes of war and against humanity.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at [email protected].

My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

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