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Today is Bastille Day, la Fête nationale, le 14 juillet and all over the world, various francophones and francophiles will be celebrating all things French, or at least all things that they think are French. As usual, in France itself there will be the traditional military parade, when the French wing of the military-industrial complex puffs up its chest in recognition of its legacy as an imperialist power, its nuclear arsenal, and its membership to the UN Security Council. There will be pomp and ceremony, with heads of state and their assorted diplomats in their fine clothes and stately buildings providing motherhood statements of the great contributions that France has made to the world and continues to make. Playing it safe, some may even mention the arts.
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"Finally, a technocrat. Let's hope he won't blow the chance", a friend reacted to Emmanuel Macron's election in France. Indeed, his victory over the much bigger evil Le Pen seemed like good news, and a breath of fresh air. But is it really? Let's dig a bit deeper into this.

When French journalist Olivier Tonneau of The Guardian described on his blog how he met another French journalist during the presidential election campaign, the latter having dedicated his entire column to bashing JL Melanchon, the leftist candidate, and praising Macron, the candidate of the French oligarchy, Tonneau directly inquired if there was some sort of general plan on part of the mainstream media to push Macron to the 2nd round of the election, thus giving him a certain victory over Le Pen. The response? "What kind of quesiton is that? Of course there is! We have worked on this for a whole year".

Of course, with or without this anecdotal confession, the PR strategy of the ruling class, in combination with a few oligarchs who happen to control 95% of the French media, was pretty apparent. A synthetic political product was created out of nothing, to guarantee the continuation of the neoliberal insanity - not without the help of a unprecedented, totalitarian political media campaign.

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Centrism could be radical too, and win electoral battles, as it turns out. Emmanuel Macron has shown this with his landslide win over FN frontlady Marine Le Pen on the 2nd round of the French presidential election last weekend. With 2/3 of the vote, Macron became the youngest president in the history of the French Republic (he's 39).

But the hardships only start from here. In order to pass his planned economic, administrative and social reforms, the new president will be needing a solid majority in parliament. The parliamentary election is next month, and Macron's new party En Marche would hardly be able to repeat his landslide victory at the presidential election. The first round of this election showed the serious divide: there's the French left around Melanchon, the traditional conservative Republicans, and then Front Nationale.

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Got to love France.

They may have confined the epidemic of stupidity to the Anglo-Saxon nations. Maybe this pressages a tipping point where certain methods of spreading disinformation will no longer be useful to influence the voting public.

Do the panel think that:

1. We have reached the tipping point, and the use of social media in influencing elections will slowly diminish from this high point?


2. It is merely a small oscillation in everyone's ever-increasing reliance on social media. Next time it will be even more important.


3. It's all too chaotic to call. Something new may come along to supplant the way we consume social media which will change the paradigm yet again.

It is my contention that having just been through a period where society has had to adapt to the birth and nasceny of social media, some period of consolidation is required. Now with historical cycles of similarities getting of smaller duration, this period of consolidation may only be a few weeks long rather than the decades required to bed down similar changes in society in historical times. But I do wonder if the tactics of dropping some "information bomb" when it is too late to be checked has reached its sell-by date, and may now actually become counter-productive. So I guess the intel bods in this asymmetrical warfare will have to come up with new tactics, if not a new strategy entirely.

So what do we think will replace this tactic in the war for the hearts and minds of folk in the computer-dependent nations? The long term drip-feed of disinformation looks to be a brilliant tactic. Look at Poor Hillary. Can't convict on financial things or anything else, as she has been very well-advised, so... Child molesting? Pizzas? Pure genius. (Right up until some nutter starts shooting-up the Pizza place. But that's just collateral damage and doesn't really count.)

Any other intersting tactics spring to anyone's mind? Then, as and if they happen, we can play Intel Tactic Bingo as a drinking game. Not of course that the rest of us need an excuse to seek oblivion from the bottle.
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Is the only way to stop this sort of thing from affecting the voting population a proper education? The mixing of the real and the fabricated in these releases leaks means that separating the fact from the fiction is hugely time consuming. And then, given the timing of the leak....

Maybe the time has come for Mr Assange to be put in prison like the rapist he appears to be: but the fact that his Wikileaks platform has just become an accessory to destabilising quite a few nation-states' elections means that any prison sentence would be considered political. This may be a shame from the point-of-view of Mr Assange's purported victim, and may be a shame from the point of view of most nation-states going through elections, but may be necessary given the political situation.

However... The rest of us have our opinion. May Mr Assange spend more time with his friends. People like him. (I sometimes picture him in a threesome with The Donald and Uncle Vlad. All happy boys together.) The rest of us can happily turn our backs upon him. I'm sure he will come out from under his rock as and when someone nameless feeds him more disinformation for him to distribute in the hope of destabilising our polities.

After this release it is my opinion that Wikileaks is a busted flush, and a mere propaganda tool for sale to anyone who can get Julian off his rape charge.
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New drama in the French elections as Penelope-gate moves into full swing.

And if the centre-right are trumped now I wonder which candidate will step into the fray to rescue the slightly over three-quarters of French folk who think that politicians are corrupt?

Given that the Front National have their own problems with corruption, expenses, and suchlike, you would have thought that they wouldn't benefit that much. But I've put a tenner on Madame Le Pen doing rather better. There appears to be, after all, a distict pattern here: in the UK, US, and next in line France, and then Germany.

If there was a certain pattern to all of this one tends to ask cui bono?

So my question is this: who would the panel nominate for the nation or persons benefitting most from such a state of affairs? George Soros? The Illuminati? Uncle Vlad?

And as an aside for the betting fraternity amongst us, what are the odds that Angela Merkel has some as-yet-unidentified scandal blow-up in her face just before the elections?

As a postscript. Oh Julian, you are a bit of a dupe sometimes. Don't you know when you have been played like a Stradivarius by a master?
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It's kind of surprising that the French conservatives have figured Francois Fillon exists just now, because now in hindsight (granted), he matches the current political situation in France quite nicely, when you think of it. The former prime-minister is the perfect presidential candidate: socially orientated, yet conservative, staunch Catholic, detractor to Islam, self-declared patriot with nationalist overtones, advocate for radical, neo-liberal economic reforms.

Francois Fillon doesn't need hectic introduction in the weeks to come, he's been part of the center-right (or maybe close to right-wing) for years, and he doesn't have Sarkozy's baggage (which is why the latter was rejected in the primaries of the French conservative party). Fillon has won his party's primaries, and he can immediately move on into general-election mode, because he doesn't need time to re-position himself along the political spectrum, or steal votes from Marine Le Pen like Sarko tried to do, because he's been enjoying the support of the right-wing base all along anyway - and it seems France has a lot of that these days.

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"Let's be blunt about it. If you support the burkini ban, you're not a feminist or a secularist, you're a misogynistic bigot."

OK, I admit I got grumpy putting this article together, but seriously I got tired pretty fast with people trying to tell me that Muslim women don't get to choose even in liberal democracies what clothing they wear, or if they do choose to wear particular clothing that matches their religion that they're deluded (and therefore in need of saving).

There are good arguments as part of a religious and cultural debate about what various types of clothing represent. But these should not spill over into legislation.

(As someone going to Montpellier in several weeks, I'm half tempted to buy a burkini myself and go for a swim. That will make an interesting story.)
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It's worth bringing up a dirty little politically incorrect secret here.

Where and when it all began )

What happened after )

And now in the 2010s )

I actually expect Europeans to behave better than the boorish and ignorant people on this side of the Atlantic. When they prove to be human just like we are, it's disappointing as all Hell. It's bad enough to see ignorance and idiocy and self-inflicted wounds recurring again and again and again and again here. I just hope that France, unlike us, remembers better the better angels of its nature and rises above the easy temptations of hatred and contempt. And if it did, it would be a wonderful instance both for France for all humanity.

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The year is 2017. In the White House, president Donald Trump is preparing his promised bill on barring Muslims from entering the US. Meanwhile, in the Elysee Palace, president Marine Le Pen is announcing a referendum for a Frexit, and reversion to the franc.

Sure, sounds like a mere (dys)topia. But the fact that both Trump and Le Pen are the candidates whom everyone in their respective campaigns are talking about, is already quite something. And the fact that the language of hate and blatant populism is starting to look like the new norm in the political discourse, is outright frightening.

And while Trump's latest islamophobic rant could be viewed as a gaffe for the teflon Donald and may (or rather, may not) be his undoing, for Marine Le Pen, there seems to be just one way ahead: upwards. The triumph of her Front National at the first round of the regional elections on December 6 is just a step to the big goal: the presidency in 2017. Although her party conveniently* lost the 2nd round in all provinces, it's definitely been on the rise.

(* Why conveniently? Do bear with me and you'll know.)

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After watching this movie produced by BBC and Shaista Aziz "A nation divided? A Charlie Hebdo aftermath", the first thing that came into my mind, was that France is not what you know from the social media and movies. Unfortunately not. France is a country strongly divided into one biggest french speaking, born in France and looking french group and another french speaking, born in France and looking completely different from what society must know. Here I would like to clarify something that one of the main problem to me is the understanding of the words "strong nationalism and chauvinism" while you have EU and globalization. It is like living in 18st centuries. As you can see on the movie, the problem with the nation is rooted back in the beginning of 20st century, when France was colonizer or even further more when France was colonial empire. As we know from the history Senegal, Morocco, Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion and the Seychelles ( probably this is one of your dream place to go), Egypt, French Tunisia, Ivory Coast, French Sudan and many, many others countries. Do you know that the official secondary language in those countries is french? Who made this language official? Everyone knows why we need colonies, so I think it is useless to explain in my article.

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Hey, fellow indifferent hypocrites sensitive, peace-loving folks. Can't deny, I was eagerly looking forward to seeing the newest Charlie Hebdo front-page, and their stinging new cartoon that was certainly going to mercilessly lambast and "show it" to the terror perpetrators in Paris.

So now that it's come out, I couldn't help feeling disappointed... and cynical.

Here it is:

France returns to normalcy, it says in a nutshell. And that's it. WAIT, THAT'S IT!? What?

Where's the biting, bitter, spot-on sarcasm? Why the muted coyness? It wasn't so long ago that we saw the open-minded satirists depicting a Russian plane being fucked in the ass by a missile. Skulls were raining on a beach from the sky, etc, etc. And what's this, now?

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Now that the dust has settled somewhat in Paris, the question is, what next? First, although shocking, the attacks were not entirely surprising. Many French citizens had joined the jihad in Syria. And the attack on Charlie Hebdo showed that there's a sustained risk of terrorist actions in the heart of Europe.

The important question is if the attacks were entirely home-bred, or the attackers had received instructions and support from abroad. The current influx of refugees into Europe is mainly from Syria and Iraq, which also underlines the risk that jihadist groups could have already infiltrated the EU using the chaos of the mass refugee flood.

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Although in April 2014 the French Apellate Court recognized the presence of aggravating circumstances, and the validity of the accusations in acts of racism directed against the white French community, a year later the term "anti-white racism" continues to cause problems and controversy. Thus, in March this year the Criminal Court of Paris reached the conclusion that according to the French law, "the so called white French" do not constitute "a separate group of people", and in this relation it dropped the charges against two defendants, a rapper and a sociologist, who had been spreading "a racist narrative directed against the white people of France". Granted, that didn't prevent one of them from serving time for a brutal assault, though.

These controversial decisions reflect the complexity of the situation in France (and in a large part of West Europe). On one side, the elite is evidently feeling diffident when it comes to handling "racial categories", especially when we're talking of the racial characteristics of the majority of the country's population. Because, as per its republican principles and values, France cannot be categorized along ethnic or racial criteria. But in the meantime, there's a very real social phenomenon: there's an increasing drive in the French society toward self-determination, exactly on the basis of those same ethnic and racial categories.

This self-determination is generating strife and even hatred. Which, by the way, is quite logical, since such sort of self-identity is inherently based on a confrontational logic (i.e. "us vs them"). In any case, it's becoming increasingly clear that despite the mythology that has taken shape in the post-colonial epoch, prejudice and racial hatred is far from being the sole monopoly of Europe alone.

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The war of the Le Pen family in France has acquired the taste of a classic Greek drama. The leader of the Front Nationale, Marine Le Pen and the party's administrative council that she chairs, have decided to excommunicate the founder of the far-right party (and Marine's dad) Jean-Marie Le Pen. This is the culmination of the public showdown between father and daughter, which has been occupying the French public, the political elites and the French media for a while.

Le Pen Senior will be stripped of his post of honorable chairman, after he recently doubled down on a comment he had made in the past, stating that the Nazi gas chambers were just "a historical detail". Marine, who took over from her father in 2011, doesn't hide her ambitions to win the presidential election in two years, and is trying to tone down the extremes within her party, and expand its voter base. This has led to a sharp confrontation with JM Le Pen, because of his frequent racist and anti-Semite comments.

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France local elections: Conservatives hold off National Front

The French far-right formation Front National has suffered a series of unexpected defeats at the local elections from last Sunday, and this could potentially be a sign that the ongoing trend of ascent of the extremist and far-right parties in Europe may have started to get reversed now. A number of exit polls have shown that the FN candidates are losing to the conservative (center-right) party of Nicolas Sarkozy and their allies at the first round of the local election.

The expectations that Le Pen's Eurosceptic and anti-immigrant party would win the first place were high, and they were looking sure to fortify their positions for the upcoming presidential election. But it turned out, it is these local elections that could be marking the beginning of a turnover in the history of a movement that's been firmly based on extremist, divisive rhetoric, the constant flaming up of xenophobic fears, and hatred against minorities, foreigners, and anyone who isn't "one of us".

But there's more )
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France is an important member of the global community, although not as important as it thinks it is. It borders on Germany, Spain, Switzerland and a handful of other little states famous for their bad shopping opportunities. France is a very old country with lots of treasures in the Louvre and EuroDisney. Among its contributions to the Western civilization is champagne, cheese and the guillotine. Although France considers itself a modern society, the air conditioner is poorly featured there, and it is almost impossible to find a decent Mexican restaurant.

Prepare to be vicariously offended! )
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Dieudonne arrested over Facebook post on Paris gunman
French comedian accused of justifying terrorism after linking attacker to tribute slogan by writing ‘I feel like Charlie Coulibaly’

"Prosecutors had opened the case against him on Monday after he wrote “Tonight, as far as I’m concerned, I feel like Charlie Coulibaly” – mixing the slogan “Je suis Charlie”, used in tribute to the journalists killed at magazine Charlie Hebdo, with a reference to gunman Amedy Coulibaly. Dieudonne was arrested on Wednesday."

Now that's what I'm talking about. Seems like free speech does have limits, after all. And where are they? I'm guessing, exactly where "our guys" get offended. And that's not the end of the story...

Dozens Arrested in France for Verbally Supporting Terrorism

French Justice System: How France Was Able To Quickly Convict Suspects After Charlie Hebdo Attacks

France does have laws on free speech. They do stipulate how far it extends. And it seems France is more than willing to apply them super-fast when push comes to shove.

Is it just me imagining things, or there's some blatant double standard here? )
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Could a piece of fiction cause a hatred so strong that would lead to mass killings? The bloody attack in Paris leaving scores of dead innocents will probably add even more dramatism to the vision of one Michel Houellebecq of France as a possible future Islamic republic...

The attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that became infamous for its critical positions against Islam and the Muhammad cartoons from previous years (and whose latest cover was directly inspired by Houellebecq's writings), could also have a connection to Houellebecq's new book, where he describes a fictitious scenario of the Islamisation of France.

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Worrying update )
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First of all, a bit of an aside observation, just to rile up the audience a little.

It Turns Out Hamas Didn’t Kidnap and Kill the 3 Israeli Teens After All
"When the bodies of three Israeli teenagers, kidnapped in the West Bank, were found late last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not mince words. "Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay," he said, initiating a campaign that eventually escalated into the present conflict in the region. But now, officials admit the kidnappings were not Hamas's handiwork after all."

Ah, a rare occasion of journalism actually doing the job it was meant for, namely: telling the truth, no matter if expedient or not. That said, curious developments on both the Hamas and ISIS front. On the latter, it turned out ISIS isn't ordering female genital mutilation in Iraq, as initially claimed:

No, ISIS Isn’t Ordering Female Genital Mutilation In Iraq
"...The traction that this story seemed to quickly gain is easy to understand given ISIS’ previous actions in the territory it controls. Along with reports of civilian executions, massacring Shiites, and enforcing a strict adherence to their interpretation of Islamic law, ISIS has even resurrected the practice of crucifixion in Syria. But for now it appears that female cutting is one atrocity that ISIS has yet to order."

Of course, none of this is going to change even one mind about Hamas and ISIS even one bit, and that's to be expected. They'll both remain the huge blood-thirsty assholes that they are, no matter if these two particular stories that have been so quickly concocted and so rashly attributed to them, and so rapidly gone viral, have been proven to be a big heap of cow-pie eventually. Who cares. Terrorists are bad anyway. Doesn't matter that Israel is largely basing their current asymmetrically brutal actions in Gaza on a lie. We've all heard the Iraqi WMDs story, but so what. Now that the Iraq War II is a done deal, time to look forward, no? Nothing to see here.

But my point is about hypocrisy and double standard )

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A place to discuss politics without egomaniacal mods


Divisive Rhetoric


"Favoring multiculturalism is something Westerners give a lot of lovely lip service to until they have to actually do it."

September 2017

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