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Explosive report claims France is targeting Jews for tax evasion, but there’s a catch

NOVANEWS
Explosive report claims France is targeting Jews for tax evasion, but there’s a catch
An explosive report by the Israeli financial daily newspaper Globes claims that France has established a secret department to target French Jews believed to be avoiding tax. The claims, however, quickly crumble under scrutiny.

The exclusive report, published December 28, alleges that authorities at Bercy Street, France’s Ministry of Finance, established a specialist, Hebrew-speaking “secret department” on the 13th floor to handle tax evasion by French Jews through property deals in Israel. The paper also claims that department is due to hire an additional five members of staff to help tackle the alleged rampant tax evasion.

The report cites multiple unnamed sources, insiders, and experts to legitimize claims of institutionalized anti-Semitism in a country which is world famous as a constitutionally defined secular republic.

The “secret department” allegedly examines Land Registry deals in Israel in cities such as Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Ra’anana, Netanya, and Jerusalem for anomalies that correlate with foreign passport information. The crack team of Israeli tax law veterans also reportedly targets French Jews who are in the process of emigrating to Israel.

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in hot water over labor plan that targets unemployed, not unemployment https://on.rt.com/8vr5 

“It is very, very irregular to hire 20 Hebrew-speaking employees, or any other language, in a foreign tax authority. Most tax authorities have one or two Hebrew-speakers,” an anonymous “international lawyer specializing in taxation who is familiar with the secret department” told Globes.

“Every tax authority has employees that speak a foreign language, but hiring 20 or more Hebrew-speaking investigators is very irregular.”

A 2008 Israeli law does offer new and returning immigrants a 10-year exemption from taxes and reporting on income generated abroad, but to suggest that French authorities are targeting people on the basis of ethnicity or religion alone is an allegation which the government has denied in the most vehement and unequivocal of terms.

“In the framework of the campaign against tax evasion, the authorities in France conduct investigations concerning individual cases, in accordance with the international agreements. The authorities in France deny the existence of a special department. It is extremely important to state that the things that were written are false.”

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La Direction générale des Finances publique dément fermement et catégoriquement ces fausses affirmations dénuées de tout fondement publiées par @GlobesEnglish

“Taxes in France are calculated according to risk considerations. There is therefore no connection whatsoever to the national affiliation or ethnic origin of taxpayers. Next year, automatic exchanges of information are scheduled between OECD member countries,” the French Embassy in Israel said in a statement, as cited by Globes.

In addition, while there have been multiple investigations into alleged money laundering schemes in Israel via the real estate market, and figures from the Israel Ministry of Immigration and Absorption show a major spike in emigration from France to Israel, in the first half of 2017, there is one major flaw in the investigation that the French Finance Ministry was quick to point out.

“The building has only nine floors and therefore cannot contain the alleged specialist department on the 13th floor,” the finance ministry said in an online statement, with just a hint of irony.

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La Direction générale des Finances publique dément fermement et catégoriquement ces fausses affirmations dénuées de tout fondement publiées par @GlobesEnglish

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Macron and Merkel with Radical Ideas in Davos for Changing the EU and the World

NOVANEWS
Adelina Marini

Something remarkable happened this year in Davos – a real clash between those who want to drag the world backward and bring it back to the entirely male dimension of raw power, and those who want to move up it to the next civilisational level, where a tangible technological, economic and societal change is about to happen. Progressive vs regressive. The contrast in this year’s special addresses of global leaders was huge. Illiberalism in the past years has significantly grown but the World Economic Forum in Davos this year showed that liberal forces are still alive and kicking. Three bright representatives of the liberal world threw the gauntlet to political leaders and business elites – Canadian Prime Minister Justine Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Merkelism is not dead. It is going global

One of the events at this year’s World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort Davos was the return of German chancellor Angela Merkel at the forum itself after a few years pause, and also on global stage after the parliamentary elections in Germany in September, which led to prolonged coalition negotiations that have just ended successfully. After Donald Trump’s election as president of the USA, with his illiberal world views, Angela Merkel was proclaimed a leader of the liberal world. This was before Emmanuel Macron won the presidential elections in France after a contested battle with illiberal nationalists, and before Justine Trudeau conquered the hearts of liberals around the world, especially their female part.

After the elections in Germany, however, which ended without a clear winner and with strong gains by the nationalist party Alternative for Germany (AfD), talk began of the end of Merkelism not only in Europe but in her very own party where preparations are ongoing for the time when she will no longer be a leader, as well as for her successor who will very likely be another woman. Her speech in Davos showed, however, that Merkelism, as a political and social stream with a European and even global dimension, might not leave with Merkel, elated by the Macronism, and, across the Atlantic, by the Trudeauism.

All these name-isms are justified as the three leaders symbolise the evolution of the 20th century ideologies and economic streams, and the need of their upgrade to adapt them for the 21st century. The three leaders swim against the current of illiberalism, anti-globalism and corporate libertarianism but they seem ready to play their parts adequately in this historic moment.

As a result of the growingly intenser civilisational clash and the change of poles in geopolitics, Europe was forced to take the role of a global leader in terms of values, trade and in a military sense. Last year was a very fruitful year for the EU because a crucial decision was taken to build common defence, but there was also a change in terms of trade agreements which are no longer entirely about trade but cover a broad range of issues, including democratic values, human rights, climate commitments.

The clash of values is most tangible within the Union itself, where ever more clearly is seen the dividing line between illiberalism and the European liberalism, going along the lines left by the Iron Curtain. The return of hate speech, the fight against those who are different, the suspension of rights and liberties gained after bloody wars are something that is turning Europe into a major theatre of this civilisational clash.

About how serious the internal European tension is, and how high the stakes are spoke Angela Merkel’s address in Davos. She appeared in the covered by snow resort in her typical modest outfit, consisting of dark pair of trousers and the quite familiar fashion of her coat (light blue in colour), her usual scanty quantity of makeup, the familiar hair-style and, maybe, just a few more wrinkles than before. Although, at a first glance, she was the same old pastor’s daughter she still looked somewhat different, new – ideologically younger or rather elated, but also wiser, having learned the many tough lessons during her 10-year rule, and as if finally having accepted the role of a leader of the free world. In her speech, she made several significant things. She admitted Europe’s sins, she looked into the future, and called for making a plan.

In 1918, one hundred years ago, the First World War came to an end, which is called the ‘seminal catastrophe of the 20th century’. Even a worse catastrophe was about to follow. In a way, the political actors almost sleep-walked into a horrendous situation. And we today, a hundred years later, have to ask ourselves, when we have less and less people who have actually witnessed this time of the WWII, we have to ask ourselves a very pertinent question: ‘Have we, actually, learned the lessons of history?’ And I think we haven’t really’“, Ms Merkel said before an audience covered in dark and barely illuminated by the light from the podium. An audience which may have not yet watched another German TV masterpiece – the TV series Babylon Berlin – which covers exactly this interval in German and European history – between the First World War and the Second.

The German chancellor recalled the slow and gradual construction of a new multilateral world based on international institutions, and stated that despite polarisation within her home country it would be a mistake to move toward self-isolation from the rest of the world, especially in the context of the “the great challenge to mankind – climate change“. Her message had a very specific address – the White House – but it could well be aimed at others as well, including in Europe itself.

Polarisation and the growth of illiberalism, to a large extent, owe their “success” to the digital world. Social networks, and especially Facebook, are often criticised in Europe. To Angela Merkel, the digital world has been one of the most important and even the most important issue in the last two years. After each EU summit she speaks primarily about how important digitalisation is. At the last European Councilin December, she said that many people actually underestimate how important digitalisation is and what impact it could have on our economies. And in Davos, she admitted that Germany (but also Europe at large) is not leading in forming the digital world regarding society and the state.

We are lagging behind Estonia

According to her, the coming years will be dedicated on digitalisation of educational systems and states in general because, “At the same time, we know digitalisation means that there has to be life-long learning, we have to deal with completely new solutions as regards our social systems. That is to say we have to be aware of the fact that these disruptive technological changes invariably mean disruptive changes for our societies“. She stressed on another problem – ageing population which raises the issue of society’s preparedness for a change because, as she said, it stops being curious.

Data will be the raw material of the 21st century. Data are the raw material of the 21st century. And the question who owns these data will decide in the end whether democracy, participatory social model and economic prosperity can be combined“, added Angela Merkel admitting that Europe still has no answer to these issues neither a strategy. “The danger that we are left behind, that we are too slow, that we’ll be overtaken by events, that we are debating philosophical issues is a big one“, she said.

According to her, it is possible the European model of social market economy to live in a digital age as well.

Her words, not only in Davos, make it clear that digitalisation will turn into the priority for the EU. France and Germany are already working on a common AI research policy. “I feel we are under pressure. And a sense of urgency may not be broadly developed in a lot of parts of Europe“, Ms Merkel added.

Populism is a poison

Angela Merkel again spoke about one of the most sensible issues which marked her third term – migration and the deep division it caused in Europe. With her statement in Davos she made it very clear that she had not changed her stance, on the contrary. In the spirit of the beginning of her address, she said that stereotyping is the most dangerous thing. During the euro area crisis people started naming the Greeks as squanderers, the Germans as tightfisted, the Americans as protectionists by nature. “The next thing is Muslims are like this, Christians are like this. You have to look at every individual. It’s a lot of work. But as long as you do not respect each and every person’s individuality, and already have your preconceived notion about the person before you that is the very basis of populism“, Angela Merkel emphasised and the silent audience responded with strong ovation.

Against the backdrop of the ever more frequent forecasts about the end of Merkelism, in Davos this year we saw a new, mature, globally oriented Merkel who showed an ambition to fill in the vacuum left by the US on global stage. This new Merkel was possible thanks to Emmanuel Macron, whom she mentioned many times as a reason for her change but also as an ally in the future formation of Europe’s global answer.

Europe’s second pillar – Macronism

The big event of Davos this year was Emmanuel Macron’s speech. Speaking for an hour the French president managed to address simultaneously the world, the business elite, Europe, and the French audience. He spoke half the time in English and left an impression that he holds the key to all global issues in his hands. Key which he clearly said can be found in Europe, part of which will be a completely renewed France. In fact, he did indeed offer solutions to many of the problems – education as a national and foreign policy; turning Europe into an economic, social, green, scientific and political global power, and not necessarily of the 27 at that; rethinking the philosophy of economic growth; striking a global compact.

He started his speech joking that, thus hidden under snow, Davos is probably not the most appropriate place to discuss climate, and thanked his hosts for not having invited global warming sceptics at this year’s forum. This caused loud applause and laughter. However, Macron was not right. The World Economic Forum boss and host of the meeting in Davos, Klaus Schwab, not only had invited the symbol of climate sceptics – US President Donald Trump – but even welcomed him with Swiss military band, which is really rare for the Davos spirit and traditions. Initially, one could think that the performance Mr Trump visibly enjoyed feeling in the role of an emperor was organised to underline precisely that sharp contrast between liberalism and illiberalism.

Mr Schwab’s introduction before giving the floor to the US president, however, left no illusions that he supports the American president’s policies. He praised Donald Trump for his tax reform and thanked him for it. Schwab himself was not a host of Emmanuel Macron’s address but was among the audience. The French president spoke just a few hours after Angela Merkel and several days before Donald Trump.

It’s the education, stupid!

He divided his speech into three parts. First, he spoke about what is France doing to return on global stage. Then he spoke about Europe, and in the end about the world. He spoke in detail about the reforms his government has undertaken, focusing on education. “Our world has changed and today we need definitely less arms and more brains. Educated people“. France launched an in-depth education reform after it significantly dropped in global educational ratings. France invests 5% of its gross domestic product in education, and, in addition to that, by the end of the mandate, further 15 billion euros will be invested. Apart from that will be created a fund for financing development and disruptive innovations programmes amounting to 10 bn euros.

He urged the business elite in Davos to help turn education into a global priority. “There is one area where we are not doing enough and that is education. In the world today, we’ve got 750 million adults, two thirds of whom are women who don’t have basic literacy skills. So, if there’s one priority for our investments, it is to invest in education, and the education of girls in particular. Because if you don’t invest in education there will be no growth in the country. That means we will continue to have a predatory type of strategy. And if we don’t invest in education of girls there will be no equality between sexes. We need to invest massively in education. There has to be a private-public partnership here“, added Emmanuel Macron.

France is transforming into a Nordic state

The most impressive part of the French president’s speech was his commitment to make France a country from the Nordic ideological axis, which will significantly tilt the balance in the euro area, and will have an impact on the debate between the north and the south. “The main philosophy is to realign France with Germany and Northern Europe, i.e. to have less rules defined by law and much more rules defined by consensus at the branch level. That’s a big change. And I think it was very much waited for, decades some time, by many people“.

Part of this project is to change mentality. He spoke in detail about an enormous cultural change. “France had a strong preference for regulation, laws and taxes. Why? Because we love politics“, he said, visibly struggling with pronunciation in English but determined to make his message clear and heard by everyone. Currently, the government is passing a law which will change entirely the relationship between administration, entrepreneurs, and people. “In France, it was forbidden to fail and forbidden to succeed. Now it should be more easy to fail, to take a risk“.

Paris will work hard to transform the ways business is getting its funding, moving toward capital funding and taking more risks. Risk will be rewarded, he said, and his words were greeted with applause by the businessmen who managed to get to Davos despite the deep snow.

A new and, if necessary, smaller Europe

2018 has to be the year of the development of a new 10-year strategy for Europe. His words suggest that his ambition for this, otherwise, quite symbolic document is big. The strategy should par Europe with China and US. The European DNA should clearly be incorporated in the document, which means the relation between freedom, justice, fairness, individual rights. “If we want to avoid this fragmentation of the world we need a stronger Europe. It is absolutely key“, he said and again earned applause.

The bad news for the illiberal part of Europe is, though, that Emmanuel Macron is in a hurry. “I’m not naive. We will never build something sufficiently ambitious at 27. And honestly it’s … I mean … I don’t want to say it’s impossible to build it at 27, it’s just that we have to first finalise the work at 27, but we need more ambition“, he said describing a European vanguard which can deliver on the most critical issues. EU must change its working methodology so that it will not be necessary all those around the table to go together forward. “If some people are ready to be more ambitious to go further in terms of integration and ambition of what makes you sovereign as a power in this global environment, to defend your values, and interest, let’s move“.

The door will remain open all the time for those who do not want to continue forward but they should not block the most ambitious ones in the room, he said and again received the approval of the Davos audience. He hopes that by the end of the year the 10-year strategy that will make Europe a new global power will be finalised.

Economic growth is not an end in itself

The economic part of the French president’s speech was hardly to the taste of the business elite in Davos. He said that economic growth should not be the objective. “This search for economic growth has sometimes led us to forget what people are prepared to accept in order to achieve it“. According to him, capitalism is in a crisis at the moment. In the process of globalisation capitalism turned into a superstar capitalism. That is why distribution of added value is no longer fair. In order for this distribution to be more equitable, a more coordinated approach needs to be developed toward taxation at global level. More work is also needed on gender equality.

Emmanuel Macron also said that he is willing to support giving the IMF a mandate to review the entire financial system and especially its most deregulated parts in order to bring them to light – cryptocurrencies, shadow banking, the most aggressive operators of financial markets. “So, we’ve got to have a discussion“, he said and proposed the establishment of a global compact which, however, will not be concluded by the governments only. The compact has to be founded on three major commitments: the right to invest, share and protect, although the list is not exhaustive.

Europe is making a turn in its foreign policy

In order for Europe to be a global power it needs a common foreign policy. This was one of the important messages Angela Merkel delivered in Davos. For the first time she spoke of a common foreign policy during her campaign for the parliamentary elections in Germany in September. “And if we, the 27 mmber states, are not able to send a clear and unequivocal signal, and a united signal to big countries like China, India, US, if our foreign policy is made nationally, and we try to be a player in the world we will fail“, she said but admitted that this is still hard to do because member states do not rely on each other a 100%.

Angela Merkel also admitted that in the past years Europe was not sufficiently active and often relied for its security on the US. “We need to take more responsibility. We need to take our own destiny in our own hands“, she said. The German chancellor made another big confession. “We’re responsible for what happens to Iraq, to what happens to Libya. Here we’ve been hesitant, we’ve been a little bit reluctant but  I think, slowly but surely, we have begun to work on this, and have also had first results and successes“. She specifically focused on relations with Africa, especially in the context of Europe’s sins from colonial times. “For me this [cooperation with Africa] is personally important because we, as Europeans, have a great debt to fulfil from colonial times vis-a-vis Africa“. “The better we overcome divisions at home the freer we will be to engage with others in multilateral fora“, Merkel said.

A confession came also from Emmanuel Macron’s mouth. “Let’s be honest! Sometimes we’ve created solutions that have led to terrorism believing that implies trying to get rid of a tyrant that we didn’t like that would solve a lot of problems. You cannot replace the sovereignty of peoples and their sufferings“, he said. This statement symbolises the end of one of the most divisive policies in Europe – the approach toward authoritarian states and involvement in conflicts. The first big division in the EU came with the US-led invasion in Iraq when the US created a coalition of the willing. Then, the new member states reluctantly boarded out of fear this could negatively impact their EU and NATO aspirations, but they never forgot that.

Even today, new Europe, as described by the then secretary of defence Donald Rumsfeld, is holding old Europe to account that by interfering it is only creating problems which it later requires all of the member states to handle. This rhetoric was especially dominant during the peak of the migration crisis. Emmanuel Macron’s vision is that terrorism cannot be fought in a country without having prepared a development strategy. And as trade policy is now an inherent part and even a foundation of EU’s common foreign policy, Macron said EU should not conclude trade agreements with countries that do not respect health, social and other conditions. “We should not have discussions with certain powers if they don’t meet our criteria and we ought to have a consistent agenda“, he said.

We need a global and shared framework and this framework should be based on cooperation and multilateralism. And absolutely not on a sort of a new hegemony or a fascination on new powers. It would be a huge mistake“, Macron said and added that the new compact is a unique way to protect the interests of all. “In a certain way, our new frontier is not geographical or a technological one but it’s much more our commitment. We are our own frontier in our own conscience. Resuming this great idea of progress“, he concluded and was heavily applauded.

Trudeauism as a counterbalance of illiberalism in North America

Powerful support for the liberal efforts of the Merkron duo came from across the Atlantic, from Canada Prime Minister Justine Trudeau. Again provocative with his socks, the Canadian liberal did not waste any time, and in the very beginning of his address announced that he would talk mainly about how important progressive values are in the context of globalisation. Before starting to talk, essentially about the same the German chancellor spoke about a day later, Justine Trudeau boasted the conclusion of a brand new comprehensive and progressive agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership between Canada and the 10 countries left from the Trans-Pacific Partnership after the US left it under the leadership of Donald Trump.

Justine Trudeau also believes that the world faces changes of the scale the industrial revolution provoked, and which will bring a dramatic shift of social, economic and political cultures. “This current step, involving automation and AI as the obvious examples, will totally revolutionise the world of work – in many ways, they already have“, the Canadian premier said. To him, one of the solution to problems that will stem from such changes is gender equality. “I’m talking about hiring, promoting, and retaining more women. And not just because it’s the right thing to do, or the nice thing to do, but because it’s the smart thing to do“, he said.

For a fairer world for women

According to data by the consultancy company McKinsey, reducing gender gap in Canada could add another 150 billion dollars to its economy by 2026. Trudeau quoted other studies that show that organisations which have women on their management boards, or where women hold leading positions, perform better than the rest. Increasing the share of women holding leading positions from 0% to 30% leads to a 15% growth of profitability, according to a research by the Peterson Institute for International Economics. And in the US, gender equality could add 1.75 trillion dollars to the American GDP.

To Justine Trudeau achieving equal pay for the same work is just the tip of the iceberg. “Because equal pay for women does not mean equal opportunity, or equal treatment, or equal sacrifice. Paying a female employee the same as a male employee doesn’t even begin to touch issues around family planning, promotions, or job security. Women do more part-time work, and more unpaid work, than men“, Justine Trudeau summarised. His solution is to work for removal of barriers before women at the workplace. “Removing these barriers will take effort, leadership, and a willingness to change the nature of work as we know it“, he said.

The Canadian premier paid a lot of attention to the Me Too campaign, focused on sexual harassment of women and violence in general. This movement as well as Women’s March and Time’s Up show that it is time for a critical discussion of women’s rights, equality and the power dynamics of gender. “Sexual harassment, for example – in business and in government – is a systemic problem and it is unacceptable“, Mr Trudeau said and received strong ovation. “As women speak up, it is our responsibility to listen, and more importantly, to believe. Folks, treat these not as piecemeal alternatives to how things currently run. Treat these examples as a fundamental, essential shift in the way we operate“, was Justine Trudeau’s message. The issue of women’s rights was one of the major ones at this year’s forum in Davos.

Against this backdrop, Donald Trump’s speech was very narrowly knit. He spoke about what his government had achieved in the first year of the mandate, focusing on tax reform. He paid no attention at all on social change, digitalisation, or geopolitical change. His message was that America continues to be first on his agenda, but this does not mean it should do anything alone – “America first but not alone”. He stands for ad hoc coalitions based on the principle of momentary interest. Humanity’s progress is not within his sight.

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Justice for Hassan Diab and the Unbearable Banality of Evil

NOVANEWS

Great joy and relief came with the news this January 12th that French investigative judges issued an “order of final release” for Dr. Hassan Diab from a French maximum security prison. Dr. Diab, a sociology professor and Canadian citizen, was charged with bombing the Rue Copernic Synagogue in 1980.

His release follows eight previous orders for his conditional release by four French judges which were all reversed on appeal. But so far this ruling appears to be final and is hopefully a very belated vindication of Dr. Diab and for truth and justice. Since 2007 when France sought his extradition from Canada, credible and verifiable evidence testifying to his innocence was concealed or challenged by Canadian Crown and French anti-terrorism investigators. What followed was heartrending for Diab and for his family. His ten year ordeal warrants a study of the barriers to justice.

Early January also marks the anniversary of Zola’s J’Accuse, the eloquent denunciation of politicized racism a century ago in France when French-Jewish Alfred Dreyfus was framed for treason. Hassan Diab’s case in ways parallels the Dreyfus case. Jewish Dreyfus and Muslim Diab were arrested on the basis of flawed, fraudulent handwriting analysis at a time of politicized racism and nationalism.

Support for Diab

Diab has substantial public support in Canada, and there is absence of widespread public racism calling for ‘Death to Jews’ or ‘Death to Arabs’. Supporting Diab were his devoted wife and friends, excellent lawyers and journalists, the Canadian Association of University Teachers and several unions, Amnesty International and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, many prominent people, and progressive Jewish organizations in Canada and in France.

A careful review of Diab’s case suggests that perhaps even more relevant than Zola is Hannah Arendt’s “banality of evil” within the Canadian and French judicial process. During the entire investigation, the investigators seeking extradition and charges of terrorism opposed testimonies by experts and by Diab himself, concealed evidence, and made use of secret intelligence to falsify information. Among the factors that allowed for gross wrongdoing were Canada’s extradition laws, anti-terrorism measures in both countries, political opportunism that capitalized on fears of terrorism, and foreign interference.

There is also unclarity about who legitimately makes the enforceable decisions and this is where Arendt’s work is insightful. What stands out in Diab’s case is the interface between the personal and political, the individual and the institution. Arendt described the banality of evil in reporting the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, a man focused exclusively on his own competence within his bureaucracy, a man so incapable of human relatedness and of self-criticism that he could not absorb the fact that he facilitated millions of deaths. Evil does not necessarily have a monstrous face. Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice also comes to mind in the excruciating exploration of legalistic cruelty and racism; in effect the accused Jew asks “can’t you see I’m a person?” whereas on a human level, it is the clever prosecutor who is pitiless and unjust.

Diab was never charged with a crime but lost ten years of his life. He spent six years under strict house arrest in Canada, lost his university job, and was in solitary confinement in France in a maximum security prison for just over three years. He was charged $30,000/year by the government for his monitoring device and had substantial legal fees. When he was finally extradited to France in November 2014, he was treated with gratuitous cruelty. Although the law allowed up to 45 days to carry out extradition, Diab was whisked away early the next day without being able to say goodbye to his pregnant wife and toddler daughter.

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Source: Alternet.org

Between 2007 and 2014 Diab endured innumerable hearings in Canada that required constant challenges to Canadian extradition law and to the evidence presented by France and by an undisclosed foreign country. Robert J. Currie, an expert in extradition law at Dalhousie University, writes that Diab’s “deplorable situation” in France was a “direct, even logical, result of the current state of Canadian extradition law. Specifically, our law prevents individuals sought for extradition from making any meaningful challenge to a foreign state’s extradition request on the basis that the requesting state does not have sufficiently reliable evidence.” Canada automatically presumes that the requesting state has solid evidence and a sound judicial system. Problems with Canadian extradition law were presented on behalf of Diab by expert witnesses, but to little avail as the Supreme Court refused to hear his case and Diab was immediately extradited to France. Currie pointed out that Canadian extradition judges were in effect “rubber stamps” and that justice for defendants was “practically unattainable.”

Justice Robert Maranger, the Canadian investigative judge, maintained that he had to extradite Diab even though the evidence would not stand in a Canadian court and though the handwriting evidence was “illogical,” “very problematic” and that a fair trial in France was “unlikely.” The Canadian decision was questionably illegal because France had not even charged Dr. Diab; he was wanted for investigation which could lead to years in a French prison.

Cherry-Picked Evidence

In one extradition hearing, Diab’s lawyer Don Bayne pointed out that the assumption that foreign states could “omit, edit out, cherry-pick, or bury exonerating evidence.” For example, palm and finger prints connected with the synagogue bombing did not match those of Diab but this was not disclosed by the French for two years. There was already other questionable evidence: “The Crown prosecutors admitted that there was confusion about the colour of the suspect’s hair, which was variously described by witnesses as black, blond, brown, or dark with blond touches.” The prosecutor responded that the inconsistencies in the French case were “simple and innocent mistakes” as the French magistrate was a “busy man.”

Expert witnesses also pointed out the difference between evidence and intelligence. Intelligence is allowable in extradition and anti-terrorism cases and does not require verifiability. Intelligence can be obtained secretly and can plausibly be connected with torture. Government investigations found that Maher ArarAbdullah AlmalkiAhmad Abou-Elmaatiand Muayyed Nureddin were imprisoned and tortured in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights. Canadian expert witness Wesley Warkstated that intelligence does not meet the legal standard of evidence and that “to deprive an individual of his liberty on the basis of such material would be manifestly unjust.” Stephane Bonifassi, a leading member of the Paris bar and an expert witness in French extradition cases, confirmed that intelligence is regularly used as a basis for conviction in terrorism cases in France.

“French law makes no distinction between evidence and intelligence, and it is particularly difficult for a defence lawyer to challenge such intelligence.”

Expert witness Kent Roach further stated that in Diab’s case, intelligence appears to come from an unidentified foreign government.

The detailed record of the case that is available on the Justice for Hassan website reports that the Canadian extradition judge refused Dr. Diab the opportunity to meaningfully challenge the evidence, claiming that he would have this opportunity in France. A Human Rights Watch report criticizes France for running unfair trials. The report states that there is a low standard of proof in terrorism cases and that French counterterrorism laws “undermine the right of those facing charges of terrorism to a fair trial.” Diab’s French lawyer stated that he “is detained because of the judges’ fear to be accused of laxity in the context of today’s fight against terrorism in France. Such a situation would be inconceivable in an ordinary law procedure.” Canadian Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson stated that he interpreted Canada’s Extradition Act in a “flexible manner” in surrendering Diab to France. Remarkably, the main evidence against Diab was finally withdrawn by France when it was proven that the handwriting samples were not even written by Diab. In the last year it was confirmed that Diab was in Lebanon writing university exams at the time of the bombing.

Though there were a number of allusions to foreign involvement, it was not until September 2017 that Israeli interference was identified. In Canada and in France, two Jewish organizations that are unquestioningly supportive of Israel and particularly vocal about Islamic terrorism have relentlessly accused Diab of terrorism. B’nai Brith and Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre publicly demanded Diab’s extradition and his firing from Carleton University. Both organizations have members who have close ties with political leaders. As reported in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, Wiesenthal Centre CEO Avi Benlolo called Diab “an accused terrorist mass murderer.”

On his website, Benlolo lists his connections with G.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Shimon Peres, Tony Blair. He accompanied former Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Israel along with a member of the violent Jewish Defense League. In a startling passage from the 2017 book The End of Europe, published by Yale University press, the author James Kirchick appears to uncritically suggest that the Jewish Defense League was crucial in preventing a pogrom at a Parisian synagogue in 2014 which occurred during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge against Gaza.

Kirchick writes that a crowd of several hundred people, chanting “death to the Jews” and wielding iron bars and axes, tried to break into the Don Isaac Abravanel synagogue in Paris. “Shimon Samuels, of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, reported seeing Socialist Party politicians in the crowd” and that one eyewitness reported that, had it not been for members of the vigilante Jewish Defense League, ‘the synagogue would have been destroyed, with all the people trapped inside.’” Kirchick does not check the accuracy of this report. It was not widely reported, but other sources indicated that there were perhaps 100 protesters and they were not carrying iron bars and axes. Kirchick further implies that the red-green coalition in Europe endangers European civilization by minimizing the Islamic threat. It will be important to investigate the involvement of Israel and Zionist groups in Diab’s case.

The next few weeks will hopefully see Dr. Diab home with his family and with the large number of people who have worked for his release and full exoneration. Understanding his ordeal should motivate fundamental change to Canada’s extradition law and yield insights about the sociology and politics of injustice. Questions arise about how and why the banality of a small number of people can wreak havoc on the justice system and cause torment to many.

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Long-overdue release of Hassan Diab in France highlights failure of bogus “terror” charges

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Photo: Friends of Hassan Diab

Lebanese-Canadian professor Hassan Diab was ordered released and all charges against him dropped by a French investigative judge on his case yesterday, 12 January 2018. Diab was extradited from Canada and held for three years in solitary confinement in France on the basis of bogus “terrorism” charges despite clear evidence of his innocence. While the struggle isn’t over, as the French state can appeal, this is an important victory for Hassan Diab and against the use of “terror” charges to terrorize oppressed communities.

Of course, French state persecution continues – from the use of anti-terror laws and the “state of emergency” to impose fear and repression on oppressed communities through police violence and surveillance to the charges against BDS activists for advocacy for Palestine to, atop the list, the over 33 years of imprisonment of Lebanese Communist struggler for Palestine, Georges Ibrahim Abdallah.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes Hassan Diab, his wife Rania Tfaily, his dedicated French and Canadian legal team and all of the Justice for Hassan Diab campaigners who have struggled for years for his release from years of unjust imprisonment in French prison and extradition from Canada on the basis of bogus “terrorism” charges. Yesterday, he was ordered released after three years of solitary confinement and the charges against him dropped. He is working now to come back to Canada.

Of course, the struggle isn’t over. French officials can pursue another appeal to attempt to shore up their bogus terror case – and we’ve seen how the French state refuses even the rule of its own judiciary in the case of the struggler Georges Ibrahim Abdallah. Nevertheless, this is an important victory for Hassan Diab and against the use of “terror” prosecutions on the basis of secret evidence, evidence obtained through torture and politically-motivated intelligence agencies.

See more information:

http://iclmg.ca/civil-liberties-coalition-welcomes-the-rel…/
http://www.justiceforhassandiab.org/french-investigative-ju…
http://www.cbc.ca/…/o…/charges-dropped-hassan-diab-1.4484443

We are reprinting below the statement of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group on the case:

CIVIL LIBERTIES COALITION WELCOMES THE RELEASE OF CANADIAN HASSAN DIAB IN FRANCE

Jan. 12, 2018 – After a decade-long ordeal, French judges have dropped all allegations against Canadian Hassan Diab and ordered his immediate release.

“We are overjoyed for Hassan, his partner Rania, and their two children, that this ordeal is finally coming to a close,” said Tim McSorley, national coordinator with the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group. “That Hassan Diab was extradited in the first place continues to raise serious questions about Canada’s judicial process. For now, though, we look forward to seeing Hassan safe and sound back in Canada.”

Hassan Diab was arrested by the RCMP for extradition to France in 2008, on allegations that he participated in the 1980 bombing of a synagogue in Paris that killed 4 bystanders. He was extradited to France in 2014. Since then he has spent more than three years in pre-trial detention, as investigative judges weighed whether to proceed to trial.

Since 2008, the ICLMG has joined Rania, Hassan’ lawyers, the Justice for Hassan Diab support committee and others in questioning the evidence presented against Hassan, and criticizing the Canadian extradition system that allowed him to be sent to France in the first place.

It is important to remember that at the time of the extradition hearings, Justice Maranger described the evidence against Hassan as “illogical”, “very problematic,” and “convoluted,” but that the low threshold for evidence under Canada’s extradition law left him no choice but to commit Dr. Diab to extradition. “It will be important to remain vigilant to ensure that no other Canadian faces the ordeal that Hassan has been through,” said McSorley.

The ICLMG congratulates Rania, Don Bayne and all of Hassan’s lawyers, and the support committee for their tireless work in ensuring that an innocent man was not forgotten and is finally being freed.

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France , Qatar sign deals worth around 12 billion euros: Macron

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Image result for Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani CARTOON

French President Emmanuel Macron and Qatar’s ruling emir have signed contacts worth around 12 billion euros ($14.15 billion) during the French president’s visit to Doha.

“In total, it amounts to nearly 12 billion euros which was signed today and which underlines the closeness of our relations,” Macron said at a press conference with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on Thursday.

Macron and Sheikh Tamim agreed on a deal for Qatar to purchase at least a dozen French-made Dassault Rafale fighter jets with the option of buying 36 more. The deal also includes purchase of 490 VBCI armored vehicles from French firm Nexter.

Qatar would additionally buy 50 Airbus twin-engine A321s with the option of buying 30 more.

The small Persian Gulf country also signed a transportation deal with France’s national rail authority to manage and maintain Doha’s planned metro, as well as a light rail system north of Doha.

The French president is traveling with Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who in 2015 as defense minister helped negotiate a deal with Qatar buy dozens of Rafale fighter jets.

Macron’s one-day trip comes as Doha faces a continued boycott by some of its Saudi-led Arab neighbors.

In the rare press conference, Qatar’s ruling emir expressed his regret for the boycott and said it was especially disheartening that the crisis erupted in June.

Qatar has been locked in a political standoff with Saudi Arabia and three other Arab countries for the past months. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut relations with Qatar in early June

Earlier this week, a Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting in Kuwait failed to bring the standoff any closer to a resolution.

There has been almost no sign that Qatari authorities would bow to the demands of Saudi Arabia and its allies to restore diplomatic ties.

Among the conditions put forward for a full normalization of ties is the need for Qatar to downgrade its relations with Iran and expel foreign troops, including those from Turkey, from military bases in the country.

Macron visits US, French troops in Qatar

During his visit to Qatar, Macron traveled to the vast al-Udeid air base, which is home to some 10,000 American troops and the forward headquarters of the US military’s Central Command.

France also has a contingent of several hundred troops in Qatar as part of the 1,200 French forces deployed to the region.

The troops are a part of the US-led coalition, which is purportedly fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere.

Speaking to the soldiers, he said the next few months of battle would determine the outcome of the war against Daesh in Iraq in Syria.

“This military win does not signify the end of the operations and the end of our battle because first we need to stabilize and win peace in Iraq and Syria,” he said.

Macron also stressed in his remarks that France wanted to avoid the partitioning of Syria and “avoid the domination of certain international elements whose interests contradict peace.”

The US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.

The airstrikes, however, have on many occasions resulted in civilian casualties and failed to fulfill their declared aim of countering terrorism.

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France’s Minister of Defense: French Citizens Who Joined Jihad Should Die on the Battlefield

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Breaking: France’s Minister of Defense: French Citizens Who Joined Jihad Should Die on the Battlefield – “We Don’t Want Them Back”

French Minister of Defense, Florence Parly, told Europe 1 radio last week, “If the [French] jihadis perish in this fight, I would say that’s for the best.”

Featured image: Florence Parly (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

AP reported in The New York Post of 21 October 2017, that during ISIS heydays, it is estimated that about 30,000 citizens from around the world traveled to the Middle East, mostly Syria and Iraq, to join ISIS / Daesh as jihadi fighters. This included an estimated 6,000 Europeans, mostly from France, Germany and Britain, many with immigrant backgrounds. A study found that less than 10% converted to Islam.

After ISIS’ defeat in Syria’s northern city of Raqqa, the former ISIS stronghold and artificial capital of the Islamic State’s Caliphate, about a third of the European jihadists have returned home, where many are awaiting trial in prison. Others are free and under surveillance. They are easy fodder for western secret services to blow themselves up, as jihadists, leaving always an ID behind; False Flag acts of ‘terror’, immediately claimed by ISIS, through the Islamic State’s news agency, Amaq. No surprise, though, in case they were contracted by CIA, Mossad, MI6 et al, to do so.

Other European jihadi fighters are still left on defeated battlefields, hiding in Raqqa’s ruins, some captured – and facing immediate death by execution. They are not wanted back in their European home countries. These countries had then and have now no time, nor interest to care for these people, their desperate, rudderless citizens. “Let them die on the battlefield” we don’t want them back.

While most European Governments didn’t dare express it in such blunt words, the French Minister of Defense, Florence Parly, told Europe 1 radio last week,

“If the [French] jihadis perish in this fight, I would say that’s for the best.”

US orders were similar,

“Our mission is to make sure that any foreign fighter who is here, who joined ISIS from a foreign country and came into Syria, they will die here in Syria,” said Brett McGurk, the top U.S. envoy for the anti-IS coalition, in an interview with Dubai-based Al-Aan television. “So, if they’re in Raqqa, they’re going to die in Raqqa,” he said.

This is as much as saying, no prisoners are taken, they are all to be neutralized, a euphemism for murdered.

Imagine, this comes from the very countries that have created, trained and funded ISIS. Then they have nurtured ISIS for their purposes of spreading destruction, chaos, and assassination throughout the Middle east with focus on Syria and Iraq. These are the NATO governments who have left their young rudderless people without hope, seeking a ‘raison d’être’, a purpose in life.

Desperate without hope and guidance, many with zero income, zero chance in our western ultra-competitive merciless society – that’s what they were then, when they joined the Jihad and that’s what they are today – at the point of being slaughtered with the permission of their governments who created the army they volunteered to fight for – out of despair.

These European governments were and are in the first place interested in NATO, war and in pleasing their masters in Washington, but not in providing jobs or social safety nets for the young, the jobless, the desperate. These governments must destroy the world as a priority for their own elite’s greed and satisfaction, for the war industry’s profit. They do not care for the generations of young people either killed or without a future in Syria, Iraq, or even at home – and now they are ordering, yes, literally ordering to kill their own citizens, who left because their warmongering neoliberal – neofascist – economies had no space and interest in helping their hapless and hopeless citizens finding a purpose in life, a decent job, a roof over their head – and most important, inclusion in society. Feeling as outcasts, they felt inspired by the western initiated jihad propaganda – and left to fight a purposeless horrible western financed war.

This is the same Europe – directed by a nucleus of unelected white-collar criminals in Brussels, called the European Commission, the same Europeans, rather than caring for the well-being on their home-turf, they are colluding with their transatlantic financial mafia pals of Wall Street, FED, the Bretton Woods Institutions, planning on how to rob more poor countries of their natural resources, by indebting and blackmailing them into austerity and privatization of their public services. The same NATO-chained Europe with hundreds of years of history of brutal colonialism throughout the world.

Madame Parly’s statement must have been approved by president Macron, who stayed silent at the condemnation to death of French jihadi citizens by his Minister of Defense. Macron has just managed to put a ‘permanent state of emergency’ – basically Martial Law – into the French Constitution, entering into effect on 1 November 2017 – the first European country to do so.

The State of Emergency was in effect in France – permanent police and military surveillance throughout France – since the Charlie Hebdo murders in January 2015. Despite this law, 43 terror attacks causing hundreds of deaths, occurred in France to this day. – No doubt other EU countries will follow Macron’s lead. There is clearly no space for French ex-jihadists in France.

An anonymous Kurdish YPG official said, foreigners who fight until the end will be ‘eliminated’. In other words, we don’t take prisoners – following the dictate of the French Minister of Defense, and the US envoy, McGurk. The YPG is a powerful Kurdish secessionist militia, financed and supported by Washington.

The anonymous source also said that for the few prisoners they had captured, they, the Kurds, tried to reach out to the prisoners’ home countries, “We try to hand them in. But many would not want to take their (detainees).” He added these were sensitive issues not to be discussed with reporters.

“The general sentiment in northern Europe is we don’t want these people back, but I don’t think anyone has thought about the alternatives,” said Pieter Van Ostaeyen, an expert on the Belgian jihadists.

He insinuates the complications on prosecuting the returnees, and how to track them if and when they leave custody.

“You can see why almost the preferred resolution is that they don’t return,” said Bruce Hoffman, head of Georgetown University’s security studies program and author of “Inside Terrorism.” – What worries me is I think it’s wishful thinking that they’re all going to be killed off,” he added.

Wishful thinking or not, French Minister Parly said it’s the best outcome.

“We cannot do anything to prevent their return besides neutralize the maximum number of jihadis in this combat,” she said.

Shamefully, all sense of Human Rights, of the Geneva Convention of War Prisoners, has been erased form the witless, immoral brains of western politicians.

*

No country openly admits refusing to let citizens who joined the Islamic State return, including women and children. Germany and Russia are exceptions to this sinister rule. German diplomats state that all German citizens “are entitled to consular assistance”.

Russia actually goes out of her way to repatriate their citizens who want to come home, with a special effort on orphaned children and wives of killed Russian jihadists. It is again just wonderful to see the difference in human approach between the east and the decadent west. In his final words at the closing ceremony of the Sochi Youth Festival, Mr. Putin warned that worse than nuclear bombs are the loss of ethics and moral values in society.

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Emmanuel Macron Put France Back into EU Driver’s Seat

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A leader has been born. For a very long time Europe has lacked leadership and vision, and for even longer France was the passive part of the Franco-German motor of European integration. But this has changed on 26 September, when the young president of France, Emmanuel Macron, turned a new page and sat boldly in the driver’s seat of Europe – a seat that was considered to be reserved for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but she never managed to become a great leader and visionary. The only thing she has been skilfully doing during her three terms in power was to drive safely but without clear direction and a final destination. To her, the EU is a house of cards, which should be approached very carefully and cautiously.

After the painful writing of the Lisbon Treaty, the EU fell into weightlessness and apathy. The crises that were overwhelming it one after the other hardly managed to move it a few steps forward, but without great ambition out of fear that this could feed the Eurosceptics. In the past decade, the EU has been developing along the line of least resistance, doing only what was most necessary and avoiding to ruin the house of cards. All more ambitious ideas were left for better times. There was always to wait for something – these or those elections, this or that referendum, this or that crisis. Emmanuel Macron’s European speech (the entire speech in French hereand a synopsis in English here) of 26 September is precisely what Europe was lacking for a very long time.

The French president’s speech was very passionate and revealed his sincere conviction. It comes precisely 13 days after the annual state of the Union address of European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker (Luxembourg, EPP) – one of the few European visionaries on the list of disappearing species in the company of Guy Verhofstadt and Andrew Duff. The speech took place a few days after the nondescript and boring Florence speech of UK Prime Minister Theresa May, which revealed time and again the painful deficit of solutions and vision of the British political elite. Macron’s speech echoed two days after the parliamentary elections in Germany, the outcome of which fuelled fears that Germany could pull the handbrake of Europe.

Fellow journalists were joking a day before the long-awaited speech of the French head of state that he probably tore apart the industriously drafted speech after he saw the first preliminary results from the voting on Sunday, which showed that nationalists will enter the Bundestag for the first time in post-war Germany and with the size of a third political force at that. The bigger problem, however, is that the Free Democrats also had a good performance and they are openly Eurosceptic party which is against almost all ideas for the future of the euro area outlined in Juncker’s address and in Mr Macron’s speech. And the Free Democrats are mentioned as a potential coalition partner of Mrs Merkel’s conservatives.

There’s talk that Berlin asked Emmanuel Macron to be cautious in his vision and it is very likely that he changed the initial draft of his speech because the part that was about the eurozone was quite vague and sticked to the well known ideas. This, however, did not diminish tangibly the huge ambition of the French president’s vision for the future of Europe. A bold, ambitious, idealistic and very French speech which clearly shows that as early as of next year Europe is about to leap forward. The smell of a new treaty is now in the air, the ambition of which could surpass even that of the Maastricht Treaty, which the EU made a huge leap forward in its integration with.

What does Macron want?

The shortest answer is to shake the EU down to its foundations. The longer is that his vision spreads from the building of a European identity, the creation of European sovereignty, a European army, reform of the institutions, to the breaking off of the eurozone from the slower and hesitating members. As could be expected, the French president started first with defence – an area where intensive work is ongoing on the deepening of integration. Defence is a central part of his vision to create a European sovereignty. He proposes a “common intervention force“, which is a euphemism of a European army; a common defence budget and something very important – a common doctrine for action. The latter is a very bold idea to converge defence cultures. As part of that he proposes the member states to start accepting in their national armies soldiers from other countries.

He urged for the as quick as possible implementation of the European Defence Fund and the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). This will be e major topic on the agenda of the October European Council. Under the heading of European sovereignty Macron proposed the establishment of a European Intelligence Academy, which is to work for convergence of intelligence services in the fight against terrorism. This issue is very sensitive for France and that is why the French president proposed a European prosecutor’s office, which is currently in the making, to be expanded to include fight against terrorism as well.

This will be one of the difficult files because even now work on the European Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), initially planned as an office to fight fraud against EU’s financial interests, is hard and in the beginning of this year it has detached as a separate integration speed because some member states could not accept the deepening of integration in the area of the judiciary and that is why the future office will be established by 20 countries. Negotiations on its establishment have been going on for more than 3 years, as all this time the ambition of the initial draft has been significantly reduced, including by France. Italy was among the very few countries which insisted the power of the office to be expanded to cover the fight against organised crime and terrorism. Italian representatives in Brussels expressed satisfaction on Twitter with Macron’s speech.

The French president’s bold ideas are many: creation of a common force for civil protection; a common asylum agency which will process asylum requests; a European border police (a stronger version of the current Border and Coast Guard agency); an agency for breakthrough innovation; a European trade prosecutor who will investigate whether EU’s trade partners are adhering to the rules, and will sanction unfair practises (this is a continuation of the European Commission idea for a change of EU’s trade policy with a focus on introducing reciprocity); introducing a carbon border tax to be collected at EU’s external borders; launching an industrial programme to support production of ecologically clean cars and infrastructure.

Solidarity though taxation convergence

Among the proposals is the one for more taxation convergence, which means creation of criteria for gradual convergence of social and taxation models between the member states. Emmanuel Macron believes that adherence to these criteria should be linked to access to European solidarity funds. Macron also proposes to define a “corridor” of corporate tax rates and of social affairs (minimum wage). Surprisingly, the French president has beaten the dust out of the idea to introduce a financial transaction tax, which has been suffering failure after failure for years.

Currently, only 10 member states are ready to introduce it but even among them negotiations are going on very slowly and it is possible that they fail. In an attempt to motivate the sceptic member states Emmanuel Macron decided to give personal example announcing that the French proceeds from such a tax will be invested in a European development fund.

In search of a European Palo Alto?

The French president focused a lot on Europe’s digital lagging behind and called for complete transformation. His focus, however, was more on rethinking taxation of digital companies and regulation of big platforms. The establishment of an agency for breakthrough innovation he sees as something that could boost the creation of European breakthroughs in the digital area. Will this lead to breakthroughs of the scale of Elon Musk’s activities, who sparked a revolution in the auto market and in the approach toward Space, or Mark Zuckerberg, whose Facebook affected even democratic elections? Hardly through opening of new agencies only.

Emmanuel Macron listed a serious number of new agencies, although a large part of them would have rather a symbolic purpose – to show where the EU should work together. In Europe, though, it is bureaucracy that is nipping in the bud personal initiative, and the lack of alternative funding to the monopoly of banks is another problem which keeps Europe stuck in the 20th century, whereas America is already deep into the waters of the 21st century.

A European identity

European leaders have rarely paid attention on education as a tool to build European identity. Emmanuel Macron believes that every student should by 2024 know at least two European languages and proposes the establishment of European universities that will give students opportunity to study abroad. Half of every group age of young Europeans should spend at least 6 months in another European country.

Breaking of taboos in exchange

As a sweetener to some of his boldest and most contentious proposals Emmanuel Macron is proposing the opening of some French taboos. One of them is the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which has always been a red line for Paris. According to him, CAP should pursue two main goals. First is to protect from volatility of the global markets, and the other is to inspire a serious agricultural transition, allowing more flexibility at national level and reducing bureaucracy. There are no details in his speech, which shows that the main purpose behind the raising of the issue is to rather demonstrate France’s readiness for change. This move has a great significance against the backdrop of two key developments – Brexit and the upcoming negotiations on the next multiannual financial framework.

In terms of Brexit the consequences for CAP are two. The first is that Britain has always been a major driver of reduction of the CAP share in the common budget. In the very beginning, since there are EU budgets, CAP share was almost 80% of the expenditure until it shrank to its current share of less than 40%. UK’s exit created fears that France will now feel unconstrained to insist on increasing subsidies for French farmers. The second consequence is that Britain is a large donor despite the solid rebate it benefits from.

Without Britain the European budget will have less money and the initial reaction of the member states was that they don’t want a change of the status-quo – each of them wants to keep its current allocations while, if possible, without paying more. The goals outlined by Macron on the future CAP hint that this policy will be allocated much less money. France’s readiness for a change of this sacred for the country issue is an invitation to the others to make concessions too.

Macron returned on the table another issue which has always been a source of conflict in the EU – reduction of the number of commissioners. This issue was raised for the first time on the eve of the big-bang enlargement of the EU with 10 more countries in 2004 with the aim to make the Commission more efficient. All previous proposals to cut the number of commissioners failed. The French president proposes the number of commissioners to be reduced to 15. This should happen before the next EU enlargement to the Western Balkans (by the way Macron did not at all mention Turkey in the context of enlargement in his speech), whom he warned though that although the door for them is open, the EU is a rule of law and democracy zone.

As part of the reform of the European institutions Macron proposes to introduce a pan-European electoral ballot for the upcoming European Parliament elections in 2019. The idea is not new, but so far member states couldn’t find will to get rid of their numbers of MEPs, agreed after tough negotiations on the Lisbon Treaty. The leaving of the UK opens an opportunity because 73 seats will be left vacant. For several weeks in the EU a debate has been going on on the possibility, if not all the British seats, at least some to be left to a common European election. The pan-European list (also known as trans-European) suggests voting for candidates from any point in the EU.

The idea behind this proposal is to break the link between national and European politics. Emmanuel Macron not only entirely supported the idea but also proposed later in time (possibly for the elections after 2019) half of the EP members to be elected through a pan-European list. This would have a huge impact when the big integration of the euro area happens because it is envisaged the parliament to oversee the decision-making process in the currency club. Emmanuel Macron, just like Jean-Claude Juncker, excluded the possibility of creating a separate parliament for the euro area. According to him, it is a serious mistake to view the EP as a continuation of national politics.

Building a sovereign Europe requires MEPs to be supranational. He imagines the European Parliament as a melting pot. On the occasion of European elections, Macron revealed his anti-systemic nature. His movement En Marche! is not a member of any of the European political families nor does it intend to become. Moreover, he said in his speech that he would not allow these parties to keep their monopoly over the debate for Europe and the European elections. This position of his could influence significantly the procedure for election of a European Commission president, known as Spitzenkandidaten, and introduced for the first time for the 2014 elections.

The European political parties nominated candidates of their own. This marked a significant progress for the European democracy because the candidates participated in debates broadcast live throughout the EU and outlined their views for the future. Jean-Claude Juncker was appointed president, because the European People’s Party, whose candidate he was, won the 2014 elections. It seems the French president has some ambitions his party to also participate in the Spitzenkandidaten procedure. It is not quite clear yet how can this happen but it is a serious demand, which suggests the next European elections will be much more interesting than the previous ones.

A coalition of the willing is being built

The time horizon for the changes Emmanuel Macron is proposing is 2024, as the beginning is to be in 2018 when democratic conventions will be established all over Europe to discuss the proposals for reform, including the enhanced cooperation procedure and possible treaty change. In addition, Macron is creating a group of reformist countries which are to push for reform. This group will consist of representatives of each participating country and of the European institutions. Apart from the natural ally Germany (with which Macron proposes to conclude a new Elysee treaty on 22 January next year), Macron invited also Italy, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg. He said that everyone who wishes a change is also welcome.

The proposal for a new Elysee treaty also bears a lot of symbolism. This means an ambition of the scale of the first steps toward a united Europe made after the end of World War II. A curious coincidence is that the 50th anniversary of the treaty passed under the shadow of David Cameron’s “European” speech, with which he proposed a Brexit referendum. A speech that has caused a series of devastating events. The choice of date for the former prime minister’s speech was quite indicative for the British moods at the time. The French president proposes France and Germany to fully integrate their markets by 2024, meaning to apply the same rules for business and this to be part of the new treaty.

There were times before when Berlin and Paris had ambitions to be pioneers in wading in the deepest integration waters, but so far not much has been done, and with the new post-election political scene in Germany Macron’s ideas might not be welcomed warmly. Positive reaction to Macron’s speech in Germany came from the Greens, who are a potential coalition partner, and from the Social Democrats. The Free Democrats poured cold water over Macron’s ambition. Among the conservatives there were reservations as well but not in all corners. The speech was welcomed in other parts of Europe as well. The first test will be in October at the EU summit.

In his European speech, the French president outlined many proposals for large-scale and deep reforms of the Union, but they are not the most important part in his speech. The discussion of these proposals is rather a technical issue and certainly a common denominator will be found in the Council if and when they reach the Council in the form of legislative proposals. The most important part in his speech is the timing. The EU is facing a new era. For the first time a member will leave, especially a country which has always played a key part in the building of Europe (more often as a handbrake). On the other hand, the Union is facing the betrayal of some of its mainly new members, which has put to the test the values which it was built upon.

The third challenge is the future integration of the countries from the Western Balkans, for which Emmanuel Macron said he wants to make the EU so attractive that they wouldn’t need to turn their back on Europe and look for Russia, Turkey or other authoritarian forces which do not protect “our values“. As a matter of fact, some of the candidate countries hinted they don’t want to be isolated from the process of changes of the EU. In a tweet in French, Albania Prime Minster Edi Rama welcomed Emmanuel Macron’s powerful speech, which, in his words, would wake Europe up and that is something everyone needs, including the candidate countries.

Macron entirely supports the concept of a multi-speed Europe and in his vision the main motor of the Union is the euro area. The creation of a group of like-minders is in fact a last call for the passengers. His speech should not be viewed only in the context of relations with Germany, especially given the election results, because the French president’s ambition is big enough to allow France to be the leading part of the Franco-German motor in case Germany closes in and becomes introvert.

In 2019, when the big bang reform is about to start, 10 years will have passed since the entering into force of the Lisbon Treaty. A new treaty was necessary even before its entry into force. Not only there was no appetite for change, but there were also no leaders. Now, there’s both. So, buckle up! It will be bumpy.

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French Police Attack Protest Against Nuclear Waste Site

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  • French National Radioactive Waste Management Agency digging a tunnel in Bure, France, June 11, 2012.
    French National Radioactive Waste Management Agency digging a tunnel in Bure, France, June 11, 2012. | Photo: Reuters
Protest organizers said 36 people were injured, with six gravely hurt.

Police in northeast France used water cannons and fired tear gas and stun grenades Tuesday against demonstrators protesting plans to store nuclear waste at an underground site.

RELATED: Iran Threatens to Quit Nuclear Deal if US Imposes New Sanctions

The issue has been raging for years as the waste is the dangerous long-term by-product of France’s extensive nuclear energy program.

Around 300 protesters took part in the demonstration in Bure, a commune in the Meuse department, against plans to store highly radioactive waste 500 meters underground.

Protest organizers said 36 people were injured, with six gravely hurt in the clashes, while the local prefecture said at least three demonstrators had been injured, according to calls to emergency services.

The protest was one in a series to try to block the waste site.

France’s Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot has said he needs more information before he gave his position on the project.

Earlier this month, the Nuclear Safety Authority said it had “reservations” about the project, known as Cigeo, citing uncertainty about the potential danger from highly inflammable material in the case of rising temperatures.

In July, the National Agency for the Management of Radioactive Waste said construction of the storage site would start in 2022 at the earliest.

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Frans Timmermans Showed Poland the Door

NOVANEWS

The European Commission today discussed the EU’s “nuclear option” regarding the most recent decisions of the Polish government with which the rule of law would be virtually completely destroyed. “Given the latest developments, we are coming very close to triggering article 7”, said the Commission’s first Vice President Frans Timmermans (Netherlands, Socialists and Democrats), who is in charge of the rule of law. On Wednesday, the College of Commissioners discussed the latest situation in Poland that arose after the government proposed a package of legislative measures that, in Mr Timmermans’ words, individually would suffice to undermine the independence of the judiciary, and would in a package “abolish any remaining judicial independence and put the judiciary under full political control of the government”.

These are four legislative acts, some of which have already been adopted by parliament. These are the law for the National School of Judicial System (enacted), the law for the National Council of the Judiciary – a body similar to the Bulgarian SJC (approved and pending signature by the president), the law on the organisation of ordinary courts (approved and pending signature by the president), and the Supreme Court Act (still in parliamentary procedure). This is yet another step of the Polish extreme conservative government of Law and Justice after removing the independence of the Constitutional Tribunal, for which the European Commission has for the first time triggered the rule of law protection mechanism.

Under this mechanism, the EC has so far sent to Warsaw an opinion and two recommendations regarding the Constitutional Tribunal. According to the Commission, the tribunal’s composition no longer complies with the Constitution, the publication of its decisions is no longer in its hands, some of the judges are lawfully elected but not appointed, whilst others are appointed but not lawfully elected. Thus, the legitimacy of the tribunal is seriously undermined, explained the first vice president. Frans Timmermans believes it is possible to get the Council’s support and the qualified majority required to trigger Article 7 of the EU Treaty (which foresees suspension of voting rights in the Council) if Poland does not take steps to withdraw the laws in question and does not return to a dialogue with the Commission. He admitted, however, that this majority is not guaranteed.

He recalled that the Commission’s concerns are shared by a large number of member states, the European Parliament and also the Council of Europe and the Venice Commission. In the College of Commissioners, support is 100%, he added. It is still unclear when the EC will make such a proposal. Frans Timmermans explained that as soon as these laws come into force, the EC will have reason to do so, but warned that it would be discussed internally when it would be most appropriate to do it. In May, Mr Timmermans discussed the situation in the General Affairs Council and back then received the support of the most important member states. The vice president announced that he would speak with the Estonian rotating presidency to negotiate the most appropriate time to hold the next Council meeting on this subject.

This is unlikely to happen before the start of the next political season as the European institutions are already preparing for the summer break. However, before resorting to Article 7, the EC will prepare the third successive recommendation on the rule of law mechanism for the College meeting next week. The EC is also expected to open infringement procedures at that point. The vice president explained that what is happening in Poland raises concerns for violation of the Polish Constitution but also of the European legislation, as the Polish courts, as practically courts in all member states, act as EU courts. Therefore, the laws prepared concern anyone doing business in or with Poland, as well as ordinary citizens who are simply visiting the country.

Frans Timmermans used the occasion to criticise Poland about intimidating journalists as well. The reason for this was the incident last week when, during the Commission’s regular midday press briefing in Brussels, Dorota Bawolek asked for a comment on the situation with democracy in Poland but did not get any, which provoked her to say, “You`d rather talk about a country that is leaving the European Union than about one that is still a member and that, if you refuse to commentate on what is happening, will also be at risk of leaving”. The incident was qualified by the Polish national television as a “provocation,” and in the social networks Dorota Bawolek was declared a “traitor”, “prostitute” and “anti-Polish manipulator”. There are also indications of many threats.

The Polsat National Television channel also pronounced her a state traitor. Frans Timmermans called for the threats to end. “What should not be happening is anybody sitting in this room, who wants to ask critical questions of me, would feel a reservation, fear for consequences to do that. That’s not how it works in a free society”, he said and quoted the motto of The Washington Post newspaper that in darkness democracy dies. The first vice-President also explained that the situation in Poland is different from the one in Hungary, as Hungary does not talk about a reform that puts the judiciary under the control of a minister in a way that undermines the division of powers.

The EP political groups supported the Commission’s actions. EPP President Manfred Weber (Germany) wrote on Twitter that there is no doubt that the government of Law and Justice is trying to abolish the rule of law and that should be stopped. Gianni Pittella (Italy), leader of the second-largest group Socialists and Democrats, said the Polish government is constantly jeopardising the rule of law and the legal basis of democracy. The group welcomes the EC’s “swift” reaction. “Should the Polish government and authorities continue to disregard the warning signals from Brussels concerning the independence of the judiciary, the S&D Group considers it requisite the activation of all possible infringement proceedings against Poland for the violation of EU law”, Pittella believes.

The leader of the group of Liberals, Guy Verhofstadt (Belgium), also supported the EC’s actions. Sven Giegold (Germany), a member of the Greens Group, welcomed the Commission’s criticism but warned that they were questionable. “As long as there is no regular EU monitoring of the rule of law in all member states, it is easy for countries such as Poland or Hungary to denounce criticism from Brussels”, he said, and called on the EC to analyse the rule of law in all member states using the same parameters. “The EU Commission has to control the rule of law in all EU member states rather than acting as fire fighters when the democratic house is already burning”, Sven Giegold added.

With today’s warnings, the EC has also stood at the side of the thousands of Poles protesting on Sunday in front of the Supreme Court and Parliament, accusing the government of building a dictatorship. This is also the opinion of the National Council of the Judiciary, according to which Poland is on the verge of dictatorship. According to the government in Warsaw, changes serve democracy and citizens. Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro argues that the judicial system is currently completely separated from the mechanisms for democratic control.

Meanwhile, President Andrzej Duda surprisingly presented his own proposal for amendments to the controversial draft law on the appointment of members of the National Council of the Judiciary and threatened to veto the law if they are not adopted. However, Frans Timmermans said that this is not enough, as it is about amending only one of four laws, each of which seriously undermines the rule of law, and in their entirety they are abolishing the rule of law.

Frans Timmermans was emotional in saying that nothing in his political life was more important than the fall of the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall, as well as the 2004 enlargement when 10 new countries joined the EU, Poland among them. He promised to do everything in his power to ensure that Poland sticks to a development that respects the rule of law, democracy, openness, media freedom, market economy, opportunities for all.

“This is the clear choice that was made by Poland when they freed themselves from communist oppression. We didn’t do that. The Poles did that themselves, starting in Gdansk. People we can always admire such as Lech Wałęsa. They did themselves. But the EU did help. At the outset Poland was in comparably the same situation as Ukraine economically, socially, politically in some way. Now look at the difference! It’s two worlds of difference perhaps. And part of this is because we had the rule of law, because we had independent judges, because corruption could be tackled by independent courts. That’s why you don’t have oligarchs in Poland. That’s why you don’t have a corrupt society in Poland, which is a scourge for the people of Ukraine”, were the words of Frans Timmermans.

Polish Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for the internal market, warned that the atmosphere of Wednesday’s discussion in the College suggests that what is going on in Poland will have very bad consequences on the discussions on the EU budget. “I’m sure this will also affect the budget discussions”, she said without specifying what she meant exactly. Next year, the EU is about to begin talks on the future financial framework of the Union for the period after 2020. These are likely to be the most difficult talks so far due to the departure of one of the largest donors in the European budget – Great Britain – and because of the shift in priorities when there is already a more significant focus on common defence, migration and foreign policy.

The new member states are uniting in a common front, demanding that the Cohesion Policy of the Union be preserved. This will be one of the leading topics of the Bulgarian presidency of the Council, which will start on 1 January next year. The situation in Poland and also the resistance of other Central European countries led by Hungary against showing solidarity in the distribution of refugees have been a reason for some donor countries to demand the suspension of EU funds for members that deviate from the rules or the EU’s value system. Commissioner Bieńkowska’s statement confirms that this will be one of the most serious disputes during the budget discussions.

Translated by Stanimir Stoev

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Zionist Macron: Anti-Zionism Is a Reinvented Form of anti-Semitism

NOVANEWS
Macron: Anti-Zionism Is a Reinvented Form of anti-Semitism

Speaking at a ceremony commemorating the victims of the mass roundup of Jews in Paris in WWII, the French president assailed Le Pen and said France must take responsibility for the Vichy regime and Nazi collaboration

Bibi embraces his new puppet. Macron could not have made his supplicancy more obvious if he had fellated Bibi in front of the Arc de Triomphe.

[Editor’s note: Macron is showing his true colours as a thoroughly compliant stooge for the Judeo-Zionist organised crime cabal. The term ‘anti-semitism’ has long been weaponised and used to defame anyone who dares to criticise the Zionist criminal enclave known as Israel; by stating that criticism of Zionism and Israel is a new form of anti-semitism, Macron is doubling down on the weaponisation of language on behalf of his criminal Zionist masters.

By kissing up to Israel, and the Zionist criminals so blatantly, Macron is staining France’s dignity just as much as Petain’s Vichy did in WW2. Clearly, France is now completely under the thumb of the Zionist crime cabal and will follow whatever agenda has been laid out for them, so do not be surprised if Macron involves France in the Syrian debacle in the near future and expect France to staunchly support Israel at every opportunity. Ian]

__________
Haaretz:

Macron: Anti-Zionism Is a Reinvented Form of anti-Semitism

French President Emmanuel Macron delivered forceful remarks on Sunday at a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the deportation of Jews from Paris, attacking his political rival Marine Le Pen and other figures who claimed that the Vichy government which collaborated with the Nazis during WWII didn’t represent France. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended the ceremony in Paris alongside Macron.

“There are those who say Vichy wasn’t France,” Macron said. “It’s true that Vichy wasn’t all of France, but Vichy was the government of France and the French establishment It was responsible for deporting French Jews, and not the Germans.”

Macron said that denying or hiding France’s role in WWII is a disgrace.

“We have a responsibility to realize where and when we have failed,” he said. “The underground and those who rescued Jews saved France’s dignity, but the Vichy government was the reality. It’s convenient and easy to see Vichy as something perpetrated by foreign agents but it was the reality. You can’t build pride on a lie.”

Macron condemned Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism in France today, saying that it has taken a new shape, and that anti-Zionist and anti-Israel expressions should be opposed. “It’s a new type of anti-Semitism,” he said.

At the ceremony, Netanyahu lauded Macron’s statement from a few days ago that France in a war of civilizations against radical Islamic terrorism.

“Your struggle against militants Islam is our struggle,” he said. “We must stand against them together and defeat them together.”

Following the ceremony, Netanyahu arrived at the Élysée Palace for a sit-down with Macron.

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