Monday, April 24, 2017

Elitism and Far-Right Advance to Runoff in France

Elitism and Far-Right Advance to Runoff in France

by Stephen Lendman

Former Rothschild & Cie Banque investment banker; Hollande economy, industry and digital affairs minister Emmanuel Macron is strongly favored to become France’s next president.

A self-styled centrist, an elitist establishment favorite, he ran as an En Marche! (forward) candidate, the party he formed in April 2016 - favoring continuity, not responsible change.

His pledge to address high unemployment and social injustice, improve relations between French youths and police, stress education, promote gender equality socially and politically, among other domestic issues he discussed are promises made to be ignored if elected.

Internationally, he said “Europe is at the heart of our project. Our responsibility…is to be able to rebuild the European dream” - unattainable for ordinary people under Brussels control, French sovereignty abandoned.

An Opinionway poll published last week showed him defeating Le Pen with a 63% majority - strengthened by his Sunday victory.

Preliminary results had him winning 23.75% of the vote to Le Pen’s 21.5%, a disappointing result for her despite moving on to May 7’s runoff.

A previous article discussed her far-right platform, including France leaving the EU and NATO - opposed by Macron.

As a Hollande Socialist Party minister, he supported its neoliberal and belligerent agenda, policies similar to how America, Britain, Germany and most other European countries are governed.

His anti-establishment-sounding pledge “to serve the public interest” resembled Trump’s rhetoric and other US politicians - a platform to get elected, then abandoned if successful.

Earlier he said France needs a more “balanced” policy toward Syria, included talks with Assad. In April, he proposed military intervention to oust him.

He’s pro-business, pro-banking monied interests, pro-Israel, anti-BDS, and hostile to Palestinian interests.

In June 2015, he and his then-German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel (currently Foreign Affairs Minister and Vice Chancellor) published a platform, advocating continued European integration.

For the first time since Charles de Gaulle established France’s Fifth Republic in 1958, no major center-right or center-left candidates qualified for runoff voting.

It hardly matters. Macron’s likely May 7 triumph will assure French political continuity - dirty business as usual again winning, ordinary people losing, along with a lost chance for France to regain its sovereignty.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Media Scoundrels Support Macron Over Le Pen

Media Scoundrels Support Macron over Le Pen

by Stephen Lendman

They always support dirty business as usual over anything disrupting continuity.

NYT editors were especially appalling. Headlining “Emmanuel Macron Mounts a Patriot’s Challenge to Marine Le Pen,” they shamefully said:

“Defenders of liberal democracy in France and elsewhere sighed with relief after Sunday’s first-round vote in France’s presidential election.”

“Polls have predicted that Mr. Macron will beat Ms. Le Pen handily, though…France remains deeply divided and its politics unsteady.”

Fact: So-called “liberal democracy in France and elsewhere” in the West is pure fantasy. None exists, especially in America, a one-party state with two right wings.

Fact: France, Britain, Germany and other other European countries have more parties. Their major ones are like US Republicans and Democrats, largely in lockstep on issues mattering most.

Fact: Macron is an elitist, a Rothschild banker, an establishment favorite, assuring deplorable continuity if elected, not responsible change.

Despite her hard-right views, Le Pen responsibly favors leaving NATO, restoring French sovereignty, and improving relations with Russia.

The Times: “Certainly, if Mr. Macron prevails on May 7, that will be good news for Europe…”

Fact: It would be bad news for French sovereign independence, currently lost to Brussels.

The Times: “(V)oters spurned the mainstream center-left Socialist Party and center-right Les Republicains party that have dominated the landscape for decades.”

Fact: True enough - but Macron represents their interests under his En Marche! (forward) banner - a new party, same old dirty policies.

The Times: French “voters showed that they remained receptive to Mr. Macron’s hopeful message…”

Fact: 76% of French voters rejected him, hardly a ringing endorsement.

The Times quoted him saying he wants to be the “president of patriots, to face the threat of nationalists” - “holding himself out as France’s true agent of change after decades of government failure,” The Times blustered.

Fact: He represents continuity, dirty business as usual, sure to be despised, if elected, once his deplorable agenda unfolds.

The neocon/CIA-connected Washington Post supports Macron like The Times, saying he wants “to strip away even more barriers with the rest of the world” compared with Le Pen, wanting France “seal(ed) tight against the tides of globalization.”

The Wall Street Journal said France will now “decide between two very different visions of French nationalism” - dirty business as usual vs. restoration of French sovereignty, it failed to explain.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

AP News Interviews Trump

AP News Interviews Trump

by Stephen Lendman

Interviewed on Friday, here are some highlights.

Trump gave himself “very high marks” - nearing completion of his first 100 days in office.

Others strongly disagree. He broke every promise made for ordinary people, escalated Obama wars, threatened North Korea, Iran and Venezuela, along with worsening relations with Russia instead of improving them as pledged.

Changed Senate voting rules, preventing a filibuster, got right-wing extremist Neil Gorsuch appointed a Supreme Court justice.

Trump has no legislative achievements so far - good news because of hard-right policies he favors, harming most people.

He’s governing like the Clintons, Bush/Cheney and Obama never left - ruthlessly, lawlessly and irresponsibly, including welcoming foreign despots for White House photo-op visits.

He wants America’s resources used for militarism and warmaking, along with policies benefitting Wall Street and other corporate favorites - at the expense of ordinary people.

His first 100 days in office this Friday have been disastrous - the worst likely ahead.

He loves NATO, wants tax cuts for business and rich households, intends wasting billions of dollars on border wall with Mexico construction, and his healthcare proposal makes a bad system far worse if enacted.

He had no comment on France’s election, except saying Le Pen is “strongest on borders and…strongest on what’s been going on in France.”

If Attorney General Sessions wants to Julian Assange arrested, “it’s OK with me,” he said - failing to explain targeting him is an attack on free expression, a free press, and whistleblowers exposing government wrongdoing.

He wrongfully accused Iran of breaking “the spirit of the (nuclear) agreement.” Asked if he’d opt out of the deal, he said it’s “possible.”

He continues supporting the scourge of terrorism he rhetorically opposes. He expects more US combat troops will be sent to current war theaters - but “not many,” he said.

Among other issues discussed, he blasted major media fake news. He’s right about that, especially TV news - worthless and insulting.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Russia and America: World's Apart on Key Issues

Russia and America: World’s Apart on Key Issues

by Stephen Lendman

Trump promised improved relations with Moscow. Bilateral ones are dismal on his watch, US hostility worse than any time in recent memory.

Russia wants peaceful conflict resolution in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Ukraine and elsewhere. Washington wants endless wars, escalating ongoing ones, threatening North Korea and Iran.

Are Russia and China on its target list? Will unthinkable nuclear war erupt on the Korean peninsula, in the Middle East or elsewhere?

Lavrov and Tillerson agreed on launching a joint working group to seek ways of improving bilateral relations, according to Russia’s Foreign Ministry.

Moscow is sincere. It’s word is its bond. America can never be trusted, saying one thing, doing another consistently on key issues, especially geopolitical ones, notably in relations with sovereign independent nations like Russia and China.

On Friday, Lavrov and Tillerson spoke by phone, following their dismal April 11 - 12 meeting in Moscow, accomplishing nothing, irreconcilable differences separating both countries.

According to acting State Department spokesman Mark Toner, “(t)he Secretary and Foreign Minister discussed a range of other topics, including the OPCW investigation into Syria’s use of chemical weapons on April 4.” 

“The Secretary reiterated his support for the OPCW’s existing investigative mechanism” - irreparably biased, stacked with pro-Western elements, blaming Syria for the April 4 Kahn Sheikhoun CW attack it had nothing to do with.

Russia wants a reliable, independent investigation, its own investigators involved along with ones from other countries.

According to its Foreign Ministry, Lavrov “expressed regret over the US opposition to Russia’s initiative in the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to dispatch inspectors to Syria for verifying the reports on the use of sarin nerve gas in the town of Khan Sheykhun on April 4 and the presence of poison chemicals on the Shayrat airbase.”

“Lavrov and Tillerson agreed to issue instructions for pondering a possibility to organize an independent investigation of the incident under the aegis of the OPCW.”

Washington won’t permit anything it doesn’t control. Proper investigation will prove Syria had nothing to do with what happened - showing Trump administration and media scoundrel claims otherwise were Big Lies.

So far, no credible steps were taken to investigate the Khan Sheikhoun CW attack. Nearly three weeks after the incident, OPCW inspectors haven’t visited the crime scene.

America and Britain claiming absolute certainty about Syrian culpability is a bald-faced lie, a scheme to further demonize Assad unjustly, along with enlisting public support for regime change, including greater US involvement toward achieving it.

Russia is the world’s leading major power force for peace and stability. America and its rogue allies wage endless wars of aggression - humanity’s survival up for grabs if their ruthlessness isn’t stopped.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

UK Defense Secretary Loves War, Abhors Peace

UK Defense Secretary Loves War, Abhors Peace

by Stephen Lendman

Michael Fallon supports arms sales to despotic regimes like Saudi Arabia, Britain complicit in its aggression on Yemen - Obama’s war, now Trump’s. 

He’s escalating it recklessly, the UK complicit in US/Saudi high crimes of war and against humanity in Yemen and other regional war theaters.

Fallon praised missile maker MBDA, calling the company a “role model” for business Britain seeks post-Brexit.

It’s “strengthening the reputation of this country,” he blustered. It has “a great reputation (for providing) sterling service.”

Its expertise is mass slaughter and destruction, profiting from doing business with the devil, despotic regimes like Saudi Arabia - using terror weapons and toxic agents, supplying them to terrorists, raping Yemen, brutalizing its own people.

MBDA missiles are used to terror-bomb Yemeni schools, hospitals, mosques, food storage facilities and residential communities.

Defense companies profit from warmaking, conspiring with tyrants, aiding their high crimes. 

According to Fallon, MBDA built “a great reputation manufacturing missiles that keep us safe” - from invented enemies, he failed to explain.

At the company’s Stevenage headquarters, he said “we are leaving the European Union, but in leaving…we are going to become an even more global country, reaching out to our friends and allies across the world.”

“If you want to know what that means in practice, look at yourselves, look at your company here.” 

“A partnership that already combines British, French, German, Italian skills in one company, forming the only European group that is capable of creating these kinds of missile systems that meet the multiple demands of all the different domains: land, sea, and air.”

“You are a role model here for the kind of partnerships we’ll be seeking in future: for our defense, for our manufacturing, and for our country.”

Asked about Britain permitting arms sales to rogue states, Fallon lied claiming “our arms export criteria are some of the strictest…in the world, and we take very good care to look at every single license application to make sure they conform to the criteria.”

Also asked about selling missiles and other weapons to Saudi Arabia, using them to massacre Yemeni civilians, Fallon again lied, claiming Rihadh “has the right to defend itself,” falsely saying it was attacked, ignoring its genocidal naked aggression.

“Are we supporting” UK arms makers and regimes like Riyadh? Absolutely,” Fallon blustered. According to London’s Independent, “Britain has sold weapons to 22 of the 30 countries on its own human rights watch list since 2010” - rogue states responsible for horrendous high crimes.

It’s policies are being judicially challenged by anti-war activists, maintaining it consistently violates its own arms exporting criteria by doing business with despotic regimes.

According to Campaign Against the Arms Trade’s Andrew Smith, “(i)f Fallon believes MBDA is a role model, then it says very worrying things about how he sees the UK’s post-Brexit future.”

“MBDA is a company that profits from war and arms tyrants, it is among the last companies Fallon should be encouraging others to replicate.”

“If the UK is to play a positive role on the world stage, then arms companies like MBDA need to be condemned, not celebrated and glorified by Government ministers.”

Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson Tom Brake called Fallon’s Tory party an “arms dealer of choice for the world’s most repressive regimes.”

“If this is Theresa May’s vision of a global Britain, it is one which millions of people across the country are disgusted by and want nothing to do with.”

The same goes for US duopoly governance, Republicans and Democrats in bed with a rogue’s gallery of despotic regimes.

In January, Fallon said banned cluster munitions sold by Britain to Riyadh were used in terror-bombing Yemen.

America, Britain, NATO, Israel, Saudi Arabia and other regional rogue states are responsible for horrific high crimes of war and against humanity in the Middle East, North Africa, Asia and elsewhere.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Mattis in Riyadh

Mattis in Riyadh

by Stephen Lendman

In Riyadh last week, Defense Secretary Mattis said “Iran’s destabilizing influence in the Middle East would have to be overcome to end the conflict in Yemen, as the United States weighs increasing support” for Saudi Arabia’s war, in its third year, backed by Washington, according to Reuters

“(T)he bottom line is we are on the right path,” Mattis blustered. No Iranian destabilization exists anywhere. 

He suggested greater US involvement in escalating Yemen’s conflict, instead of responsible efforts to end it - taking steps to address what the UN calls the world’s severest humanitarian crisis.

Millions face famine conditions. Relentless Saudi terror-bombing continues, including against hospitals, schools, mosques, civilian neighborhoods and other nonmilitary sites.

The death, injury and displacement toll far exceeds official estimates, willfully undercounted to mitigate the horror of what Yemenis are enduring - Washington and Saudi Arabia partnering in one of the world’s many great high crimes.

Iranian Defense Minister General Hossein Dehqan categorically denied US allegations that its military is sending weapons to Houthi fighters - responding to Mattis’ Big Lie.

At the same time, he denounced Washington’s support for “takfiri/Wahhabi terrorists…committing crimes…in Iraq, Syria (and elsewhere) with US (supplied) weapons and munitions.”

America continues waging naked aggression in multiple theaters, threatening war on other countries, Dehqan explained.

Mattis suggested a possible Trump visit to Riyadh. Both rogue states support each other’s ruthless agendas.

Straightaway in office, Trump escalated war on Yemen, perhaps further escalation coming, maybe prelude to confronting Iran militarily.

Mattis didn’t commit to specific greater US involvement in Yemen. According to Reuters, discussions in Riyadh involved greater Pentagon support, short of deploying large numbers of US troops, special forces alone so far, likely more coming.

Congress is hesitant about greater US involvement in Yemen. Earlier this month, 55 House members, mostly Democrats, asked Trump to end Washington’s logistical support.

If he intends stepping up US military action, they want congressional approval first - ignoring the illegality of all wars without Security Council authorization, not forthcoming for any Trump campaign, current or planned.

Senators also announced possible legislation, requiring the president to certify the impossible - that Saudis aren’t using US weapons to target civilians and nonmilitary sites, ignoring Pentagon terror-bombing doing the same thing in all US war theaters.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

French Presidential Election Results Unpredictable

French Presidential Election Results Unpredicatable

by Stephen Lendman

No matter who becomes France’s next president, dirty business as usual will likely triumph - like in all US elections, other Western ones and most others elsewhere. Rare exceptions prove the rule.

Last November, choice for Americans was between death by hanging or firing squad. French voters face the same dilemma.

On election eve, over one-fourth of the electorate was undecided, more concerned about jobs and the economy (pocketbook issues) than terrorism.

Many believe presidential aspirants are largely the same each time elections are held, no matter what they say campaigning.

Large numbers may vote with their feet and stay home, or go places other than to polling stations.

Hyperbole about Sunday’s election being one of the most consequential in recent times was way overblown. Calling the outcome unpredictable is right. Polls show it’s too close to call. 

Anyone of four aspirants could win - Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron likely to be finalists in the May 7 runoff. Yet a surprise April 23 outcome is possible.

One voter said “France is divided in four. Whatever the result, three-fourths of the people will not be happy.”

Political/opinion research firm director Edouard Lecerf believes “(t)he mistrust of politicians is stronger than it has ever been.”

Given how deplorably ordinary people are treated no matter who holds top political posts, it’s clear voting is a waste of time accomplishing nothing - privileged interests served exclusively at the expense of most others.

Neocon/CIA-connected Washington Post editors support dirty business as usual in all elections - in America and abroad, saying:

“The mere possibility that…far-rightist Marine Le Pen and far-leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon…will be the country’s choice in the second round ought to be heart-stopping for anyone who hopes the West’s core liberal values (sic) will survive the wave of popular discontent that already has driven Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, as well as the election of Donald Trump.”

WaPo supports Macron, Francois Hollande’s deplorable economy, industry and digital affairs minister, an establishment favorite, a wealthy globalist supporting dirty business as usual.

What’s good for business is bad for the masses, so you know what he favors, hardline anti-democratic rule - WaPo’s favorite, calling him France’s “best choice” for president.

Its editors blasted Le Pen and Melenchon, saying they’re “anti-American and soft on Russia’s Vladimir Putin…likely to destroy the European Union…”

It’s in crisis, a sinking ship, self-destructing - troubled Greece the future of other EU states, notably Italy, Portugal and Spain, maybe France and others to follow.

Expect continuity no matter who succeeds Francois Hollande. Longtime French foreign policy analyst Alain Gresh believes France under any leader has “limited impact…on the management of Middle East foreign policy today” - unlike decades earlier.

He calls Le Pen slightly more pro-Israel” than other candidates. She’s concerned about radical Islamic militants and politicians, not Jews, so it’s unclear “how things would unfold” if she’s elected.

Her views are similar but not identical to Francois Fillon on Islamism. Melenchon calls for resolving Middle East conflicts diplomatically. He supports Palestinian rights.

Le Pen is conciliatory toward Assad, calling him a protector of secular rights, including Syria’s Christian minority.

Whoever’s elected would have to focus on “big economic interests,” Gresh stressed - linking France with America, other European countries and Arab Gulf ones.

He’s unsure who’ll emerge as May 7 runoff aspirants. At the end of the day, things could change but stay largely the same - the way most elections turn out.

Radical change like Bolivarianism’s triumph in Venezuela under Hugo Chavez is the rare exception, not the rule.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Nightmarish Conditions in Yemen

Nightmarish Conditions in Yemen

by Stephen Lendman

A report titled “Every Day Things Are Getting Worse” discusses “the impact on children of attacks on health care in Yemen.”

US-backed Saudi aggression on Yemen caused the near collapse of healthcare in the country. Most medical facilities aren’t operating. 

Ones still functioning face severe shortages of everything - doctors, nurses, other medical personnel, medicines and equipment.

Over 80% of Yemenis need humanitarian aid. Around 60% lack access to proper healthcare.

US-supported Saudi terror-bombing bears full responsibility - attacking hospitals and other medical facilities scores of times. 

America, Britain and other countries selling its regime weapons are complicit in high crimes of war and against humanity.

US/Saudi-enforced blockade severely restricts enough food, medicines and other humanitarian aid from entering the country.

In August 2016, commercial flights in and out of Sanaa were suspended. Yemenis seeking help can’t travel abroad to get it. Treatment for chronic diseases is almost nonexistent, human suffering extreme.

OCHA calls Yemen the world’s severest humanitarian crisis. Famine conditions affect millions - children, the elderly and infirm most affected.

According to UNICEF, a Yemeni child dies every 10 minutes from starvation, acute malnutrition, diarrhea, or respiratory tract infections.

US-supported Saudi aggression targets the ability of millions of Yemenis to survive.

Watchlist said its report is based on eyewitness testimonies, interviews with medical professionals, and information from UN and other organizations’ reports - “related to the attacks, as well as the delivery of humanitarian aid and public health.”

Many attacks on nonmilitary targets struck hospitals and other medical facilities, preventing ill and injured Yemenis from getting proper treatment - war crimes by any standard.

Genocide stalks the country in plain sight. Western and regional nations, along with media scoundrels ignore it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Palestinian Day of Rage Announced

Palestinian Day of Rage Announced

by Stephen Lendman

Sustained resistance is the only way to end occupation harshness. Nothing else can work.

Peace talks are dead-on-arrival each time initiated. Achieving it diplomatically with a rogue state is impossible.

Israel doesn’t negotiate. It demands Palestinian submission, unconditional surrender - offering nothing in return but broken promises.

Fatah called for an April 28 “day of rage” protest in solidarity with hunger strikers, continuing to refuse food for the seventh day.

On Sunday, Palestinian Prisoners’ Affairs head Issa Qaraqe said no prisoners ended their action, others joined them - despite harsh reprisals by prison authorities.

Joint (Arab) List MK Osama al-Saadi said Arab lawmakers demanded a special Knesset session to discuss the hunger-striking action, calling mistreatment of Palestinian prisoners a “top priority.”

According to Addameer, prisoner demands include the following:

1 - The installation of a public telephone for Palestinian prisoners in all prisons and sections in order to communicate with their families.

2 - Visits

1 - Re-instate the second monthly visit which was stopped by the Red Cross.
2 - Regularity of visits every two weeks and not disabling them from any side.
3 - No relative of the first and second degree shall be prevented from visiting the prisoner.
4 - Increasing the duration of the visit from 45 minutes to an hour and a half.
5 - Allowing the prisoner to take photographs with the parents every three months.
6 - The humane treatment of family visitors at the prison
7 - Allowing children and grandchildren under the age of 16 in each visit.

3 - Medical file.

1 - Closing the so-called "Ramla Prison Hospital" for failing to provide the necessary treatment.
2 - Ending the policy of medical negligence.
3 - Conduct medical examinations periodically.
4 - Performing surgeries quickly and exceptionally.
5 - Allowing the entrance of specialized international doctors.
6 - Release of sick prisoners, especially those with disabilities and chronic diseases.
7 - Not to charge the prisoner the cost of treatment.

4 - Responding to the needs and demands of Palestinian women prisoners, both private transport and direct meeting without a barrier during the visit.

5- Al Bosta:

1 - Provide humane treatment to prisoners during their journeys by bus.
2 - Return prisoners to prisons from clinics and courts and not to keep them at the crossings.
3 - Preparing the crossings for human use and providing meals.
6 - Add satellite channels suitable for the needs of prisoners.
7 - Install air conditioning in prisons, especially in the prisons of Megiddo and Gilboa.
8 - The return of kitchens to all prisons and placed under the supervision of Palestinian prisoners.
9 - The introduction of books, newspapers, clothing, food and special purposes of the prisoner on visits.
10 - Ending the policy of solitary confinement.
11 - Ending the policy of administrative detention.
12 - Re-allowing education through the Hebrew Open University.
13 - Allowing the prisoners to submit the Tawjihi examinations in a formal and agreed manner.

Solidarity demonstrations continue across the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. Palestinian National Security Forces’ Issam Bakir urged increased activism, saying:

“The higher the participation the better, so we can more effectively deliver the prisoners’ message to the world, and exert more pressure on the (Israeli) occupation government to meet their demands.”

Hunger strikers are risking their lives by ingesting nothing but water and salt, if available.

On Friday, undercover Prison Service thugs assaulted hunger strikers in Nitzan prison during violent searches, including unleashing dogs on them.

Israeli soldiers attacked nonviolent protesters, marching in solidarity with hunger strikers in Rafat village north of East Jerusalem.

Eight Palestinian protesters, a journalist and an Israeli peace activists were attacked and injured by soldiers in Kufur Qaddoum village, near Qalqilia.

Homes were invaded and ransacked in multiple Palestinian communities, numerous arrests made. An East Jerusalem Palestinian woman was critically injured by a rubber-coated steel bullet, blinding her left eye, fracturing her skull.

According to B’Tselem, “fir(ing) potentially lethal rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinians…has led to the deaths of dozens of Palestinians.” 

“Viewing rubber-coated steel bullets as ‘less lethal’ than live ammunition leads one to possess a light trigger-finger.” 

“This phenomenon is only supported by the view of State Attorney’s Office that these deaths are ‘unavoidable mistakes.’ “

State-sponsored viciousness reflects daily life in Occupied Palestine - an entire population held hostage to Israeli apartheid lawlessness.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

France Votes

France Votes

by Stephen Lendman

A state of emergency exists, declared by outgoing President Hollande in November 2015 after the Paris Charlie Hebdo/kosher market false flag attacks.

At the time, Hollande called what happened “an act of war,” suspending constitutional rule, followed by lawmakers enacting France’s version of America’s Patriot Act.

He and parliamentarians exploited the incidents to crack down hard on civil liberties, human rights, and other democratic principles.

Fear-mongering propaganda persists, convincing people to believe sacrificing fundamental freedoms protects their security.

On election day, France resembles an armed camp, following the violent Champs Elysees incident by an alleged ISIS sympathizer, creating unwarranted hysteria.

Over 50,000 soldiers and police are deployed at polling stations and elsewhere in Paris and other cities.

The election is too close to call - four leading candidates vying to be two finalists, facing off against each other in May 7 runoff voting:

  • Prime Minister Francois Fillon;

  • former economy, industry and digital affairs minister Emmanuel Macron;

  • Left Party’s Jean-Luc Melenchon; and

  • National Front leader Marine Le Pen.

On June 11 and 18, National Assembly elections will be held. On April 24 - 26, the Constitutional Council will verify first round presidential results, the same procedure following the May 7 runoff.

France’s new president is expected to be inaugurated on May 14, possibly sooner. Fillon and Macron represent dirty business as usual.

Melenchon’s campaign featured anti-capitalist rhetoric. His popularity surged in its closing days. He favors taxing the rich, renegotiating international trade deals and France’s EU role, ending nuclear power, treating refugees humanely, and more greatly empowering parliament.

He rejects succumbing to fear and panic, saying “(o)ur duty as citizens is to stay away from the polemics our enemies are dreaming of, and, on the opposite, to stay together.”

In March, Le Pen announced her “144 presidential commitments,” including:

Banking and monetary system
  • Scrap the 1973 law that secures independence of the Bank of France
  • Restore a national currency to face “unfair competition”
  • Allow the Bank of France to directly fund the Treasury
  • Restore “monetary, legislative, territorial and economic sovereignty”
  • Cut interest rates on loans and banking overdrafts for companies and households
  • Scrap EU regulation that freezes or bans the withdrawal of deposits (life insurance and savings) in case of a financial crisis or bank run

  • Organize a referendum on France’s European Union membership
  • Pull out of the Schengen accord that guarantees freedom of movement
  • Recreate a 6,000-strong border-control police unit
  • Ban posted workers from EU countries to work in France
  • Replace EU’s agricultural pact with a French agricultural deal

  • Promote “smart protectionism”
  • Ban foreign companies with optimization tax-scheme from having access to public markets
  • Support French companies in face of “unfair international competition”
  • Ban imports of all type of goods that don’t respect French norms
  • Create a “patriotic economy” by rescinding EU laws that ban national preference for public orders
  • Ban foreign investors from strategic and “important” French industries
  • Create a sovereign fund to protect French companies from “vulture” funds and takeovers
  • “Refuse trade agreements” such as CETA,TAFTA, accords with Australia and New Zealand

  • Cut regulated natural gas and electricity prices by 5 percent “immediately”
  • Maintain state control on EDF, start a major multibillion euros re-fit plan of the country’s nuclear plants, keep Fessenheim nuclear plant open
  • Ban shale-gas exploration “until environment, security and health conditions are satisfactory"
  • Set a moratorium on windmills for power generation
  • Ban genetically modified organisms
  • Plan to re-industrialize the country with state backing
  • Keep innovation in France by banning a company that received state subsidies or tax cuts from being acquired by a foreign investor
  • Support small and mid size companies by alleviating administrative rules, taxes and labor regulations

  • Create an additional tax on foreign workers “to promote priority to French nationals”
  • Maintain the ISF wealth tax
  • Lower income taxes for the three lowest income brackets
  • Create a tax on companies doing business in France but evading the tax system on profits

Immigration, Foreigners, National Identity
  • Cut legal immigration to 10,000 a year
  • Ban “automatic naturalization” for spouses
  • Automatic deportation of any foreign criminal offender
  • Scratch the right of birthplace
  • Make citizenship a “privilege” and insure a “national priority” for French citizens in the constitution
  • Put French flags on all public buildings
  • “Defend the French language” by restricting the use of foreign languages in schools and by reserving half the teaching time in primary schools to French language
  • Make uniforms mandatory in schools

  • Pull out of NATO military command
  • Increase defense spending to 3 percent of GDP by 2022
  • Hire 15,000 police and security forces
  • Build a new aircraft carrier (to be named Richelieu)
  • Plan to disarm “5,000 gang leaders” in French suburbs
  • Rebuild a local intelligence service
  • Scratch state family subsidies if underage child is found guilty of repeated offenses
  • Creation of a sentence of life without parole
  • Creation of 40,000 new prison cells

  • Ban all radical Islam groups
  • Close all extremists mosques

Labor Laws and Retirement
  • National plan for equal pay for women
  • Lower retirement age to 60 with 40 years of contributions for a full pension
  • Scrap the latest labor regulation (Loi El Khomri)
  • Maintain 35-hour workweek
  • Increase public workers’ wages

  • National data protection plan: personal data storage and servers must be in France
  • Ban surrogacy and restrict medically supported procreation to people with sterility problems
  • Scrap the 2014 law allowing same-sex marriage and replace it with civil union (without retroactivity)
  • Put the state on the supervisory board of the television and radio regulator

Electoral System
  • Change the voting system to proportional for every election (legislative, senatorial, presidential)
  • Cut the number of lawmakers at the National Assembly to 300 from 577 and Senate to 200 from 348
  • Cut local administration and shrink the levels of local types of governments by half
  • Make citizen-initiated referendums easier to organize

Le Pen will likely advance to second round voting, a long shot at best to become France’s next president.

How would she govern if elected? Politicians nearly always say one thing and do another.

Trump straightaway reneged on key campaign pledges - especially on interventionism, NATO, replacing Obamacare with something better, letting Goldman Sachs run economic policy, putting generals in charge of geopolitical policies, and promising to represent ordinary Americans.

If elected, will Le Pen go the same way? Will she continue dirty business as usual, abandon notions of pulling out of the EU and NATO, and forget about restoring French sovereignty?

Will she continue establishment policies overall? Like America, France’s deep state intends doing whatever it takes to retain its power and privilege.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

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