News from 02/2017

27 February 2017

French election polls show Le Pen on 27 percent and Macron closing the gap, on 25 percent

Paris (AFP) - French far-right leader Marine Le Pen on Sunday accused the media of "campaigning hysterically" in favour of Emmanuel Macron, her centrist rival for the presidency, as new polls showed him enjoying a jump in support.

Le Pen, speaking at a rally in the western city of Nantes, launched a series of attacks on the 39-year-old independent who has emerged as a frontrunner to become France's next leader.

She accused the ex-economy minister of wanting to create a "migrant motorway" between France and north Africa, adding that "financial interests and their intermediaries…Read

26 February 2017

The First Amendment

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, ensuring that there is no prohibition on the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble, or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights.

Donald Trump on Saturday capped a week of tumultuous relations with the press by saying he will not attend this…Read

25 February 2017

French far-right leader Le Pen refuses police questioning in jobs probe

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen refused Friday to attend questioning by investigating magistrates over claims she broke the rules on the use of European Parliament funds.  Le Pen's personal assistant Catherine Griset was charged on Wednesday with breach of trust in the probe into allegations that her National Front (FN) party defrauded the European Parliament of about 340,000 euros ($360,000).. Le Pen, who sits in the European Parliament, has furiously denied accusations she broke the rules by using parliamentary funds to pay Griset as well as bodyguard Thierry Legier for jobs in France rather than…Read

24 February 2017

Emmanuel Macron’s Basic Biography

Emmanuel Macron, 39, is the son of a doctor and a neurology professor. Raised in the Picardy town of Amiens, he studied philosophy (you can tell from his speeches), then followed the classic postgrad route of France’s political and business elite, through Sciences Po and the École Nationale d’Administration.

Briefly a rising star in the civil service, he bought himself out of his government contract and joined Rothschild & Co – reportedly making around €2m (£1.7m) as a thrusting young investment banker – before being appointed a senior adviser by Fran…Read

23 February 2017

Emmanuel Macron and François Bayrou form alliance

Emmanuel Macron’s presidential campaign has been boosted by a surprise alliance with veteran centrist François Bayrou.

Bayrou, the perennial “third man” of French politics, surprised supporters on Wednesday by offering to sacrifice a separate candidacy and join forces with the former Socialist economy minister, who is standing on a centrist ticket.

Bayrou said the French were “disorientated and despairing”, faced with the far-right Front National candidate Marine Le Pen – currently leading in the polls for the first round vote – who he said was the &ldquo…Read

French parliament unveils list of assistants amid Fillon ‘fake jobs’ probe

France’s lower-house National Assembly on Wednesday published a full list of lawmakers and their assistants in the wake of a ‘fake jobs’ scandal that has rocked François Fillon’s presidential campaign.

Fillon paid his wife Penelope hundreds of thousands of euros as his parliamentary assistant in the past, but French media reported they found no proof she actually did any work for him.

The conservative candidate has denied the allegations, but French financial prosecutors have refused to drop an investigation into the matter – dealing a heavy blow…Read

Emmanuel Macron teams up with Francois Bayrou in French Election

In a statement to Reuters, Emmanuel Macron said he accepted Bayrou's offer, which he labeled a "turning point in the campaign".


22 February 2017

Britain told there will be no ‘caveats or concessions’ from French after Brexit

Emmanuel Macron has warned British leaders that the UK can expect no concessions in Brexit negotiations if he is elected French president, vowing to take a rigid line on access to the EU’s single market and the powers of the European Court.

Macron, a frontrunner in France's increasingly fraught presidential race, stood on the steps of Downing Street and also vowed to lure bankers and talented professionals from Britain.

Mr Macron vowed to push for an unbreakable “Franco-German position” to defend the collective interests of the EU, presumably to prevent…Read

Marine Le Pen’s Front National headquarters raided by police

French police searched the headquarters of Marine Le Pen’s far-right Front National on Monday evening as part of an official investigation into “fake” jobs involving the misuse of European Union funds to pay for a bodyguard and an assistant in Paris.

Brussels investigators claim Le Pen paid her bodyguard, Thierry Légier, more than €41,500 (£35,350) between October and December 2011, by falsely claiming he was an EU parliamentary assistant. She is also accused of paying nearly €298,000 between December 2010 and 2016 to her France-based assistant Catherine Griset.

To qualify as a…Read

Emmanuel Macron eyes French connection with voters in London

More than 3,000 French voters are set to pack out Central Hall in Westminster on Tuesday as Emmanuel Macron, the centrist outsider seen as a leading contender in France’s presidential race, brings his campaign to London.

With nine weeks to go before the first round of a wide-open contest, the former investment banker and economy minister is seeking votes where he can find them and hoping his crusade to break the “complacency and vacuity” of a failing French political system will find favour with expatriates.

Renaud Auffret, 36, a software engineer, said: &ldquo…Read

21 February 2017

British MPs pour scorn on ‘racist and sexist’ Donald Trump in state visit debate

Parliament holds three-hour debate over whether US president’s invitation should be revoked after 1.8m sign petition against visit.

British MPs lined up on Monday to pour scorn on a “racist and sexist” Donald Trump, who they said should not be allowed to come to Britain for a state visit because of the risk it would embarrass the Queen.

The US president was compared to a “petulant child” and had his intelligence questioned by MPs during a three-hour debate triggered after more than 1.8m people signed a petition urging Theresa…Read

17 February 2017

François Fillon sinks in polls after ‘Penelopegate’ scandal

French presidential candidate François Fillon is fighting for his political future as polls show he is likely to be eliminated in the first-round vote by former economy minister Emmanuel Macron.

Fillon, a one-time prime minister who is representing the centre-right, was favourite to become France’s next leader but has seen his chances sink after a scandal over alleged fake jobs for members of his family.

Police continued to investigate allegations that Fillon’s Welsh-born wife, Penelope, and two of his five children were paid €900,000 of public money for work…Read

15 February 2017

Fillon’s wife received €45,000 in severance payments: report

The cash is in addition to the thousands of euros that Mrs. Fillon had already received. By SAIM SAEED 2/7/17, 6:12 PM CET Updated 2/8/17, 9:37 AM CET

French presidential candidate François Fillon’s wife Penelope received a €45,000 severance package from the French parliament, a French newspaper reported Tuesday.

The report came a day after Fillon apologized to the public for having employed members of his family while still a member of parliament, a scandal that has derailed his campaign.

Le Canard Enchaîné, the newspaper that broke the story about…Read

14 February 2017

Trump national security aide Flynn resigns over Russian contacts

By Steve Holland and John Walcott | WASHINGTON President Donald Trump's national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned late on Monday after revelations that he had discussed U.S. sanctions on Russia with the Russian ambassador to the United States before Trump took office and misled Vice President Mike Pence about the conversations.

Flynn's resignation came hours after it was reported that the Justice Department had warned the White House weeks ago that Flynn could be vulnerable to blackmail for contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak before Trump took power on Jan. 20.

Flynn's departure…Read

13 February 2017

Is Trump leading the US on a warpath with Iran?

Washington and Tehran dial up war of words as risk of another military action in the Middle East rises.

On a spring morning in 2016, a retired four-star general, who was forced out of his job by then-President Barack Obama, spoke before defence and foreign policy experts gathered just blocks from the White House.

The 65-year old speaker, with silver hair and puffy eyes, was blunt. For all the dangers al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, known as ISIS) pose in the Middle East, he warned that the Iranian regime "is…Read

Mexico: Massive anti-Trump rallies staged across nation

Marches get under way in some 20 cities across country to protest US President Trump's anti-Mexican rhetoric

Dozens of universities, business associations and civic organisations are backing the protest [Ronald Schemidt/AFP] Mexicans have held massive protests against US President Donald Trump, hitting back at his anti-Mexican rhetoric and vows to make Mexico pay for a "big, beautiful" border wall between the two countries.

Marches got under way on Sunday in some 20 cities across the country, including the capital, Mexico City, where thousands of people flooded a central avenue dressed in white and waving the…Read

12 February 2017

Hope not hate - What do they do

The anti-racism group( Hope not hate) hit back at Nigel Farage after he accused it of being violent and ‘extremist’ this week. This is what really happens at their workshops.

This week, former Ukip leader Nigel Farage accused the widower of the Labour MP Jo Cox of having links to extremism. The “extremists” in question are the anti-racist group Hope not Hate, an organisation supported by Brendan Cox through his wife’s memorial fund. “He backs organisations like Hope Not Hate, who masquerade as being lovely and peaceful, but actually…Read

10 February 2017

Jeff Sessions to end lawlessness in America

America's new top prosecutor, Jeff Sessions, has said the US must bring an end to illegal immigration, as he was sworn in at the White House. The US attorney general said: "We need to end this lawlessness that threatens the public safety, pulls down the wages of working Americans." During the ceremony, President Donald Trump signed three executive orders targeting crime and drug cartels. The Senate confirmed him in the post on Wednesday by a vote of 52 to 47.

Who is Jeff Sessions?

Is Trump cabinet facing historic obstruction? US soldier brings Afghan…Read

9 February 2017

Germany’s Martin Schulz calls Trump ‘un-American’ and warns against lifting Russia sanctions

If Trump is now driving a wrecking ball through this set of values, then I will tell him as chancellor: That's not the policy of Germany and Europe'

Germany's centre-left chancellor candidate Martin Schulz has criticised Donald Trump's policies as "un-American" and warned against lifting sanctions imposed against Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis.

In one of the sharpest remarks yet by a senior German politician since the new American leader took office, Schulz told the Funke media group in an interview published on Wednesday that Europe had…Read

7 February 2017

Thirty more tech firms oppose Trump ban

Thirty more US technology firms have signed a brief opposing President Trump's immigration ban, bringing the total number involved to 127.

The new signatories include Tesla, Adobe, HP and Evernote. They join 97 others who have filed a legal document stating the ban "inflicts significant harm" on their businesses and is unconstitutional. The amicus brief allows parties not directly involved in a case but who feel affected by it, to give a view. It was filed in Washington on Sunday and also includes Apple, Facebook and Microsoft as signatories. Mr Trump's executive order halted the entire US…Read

6 February 2017

Le Pen rides Trump, Brexit wave in election campaign

Far-right leader says she is the 'people's president' as she makes 144 promises against immigration and global trade.

Marine Le Pen, France's far-right presidential candidate, has formally launched a campaign echoing many of the themes that propelled Donald Trump to the White House.     Addressing hundreds of supporters on Sunday, at the close of her National Front gathering in Lyon, staunchly anti-immigration, anti-globalisation Le Pen said that Trump's recent US election win and Britain's vote to leave the European Union had given the French a "reason to vote".


Berkeley student anger at right-wing speaker invitation

2 February 2017 Last updated at 06:10 GMT

The University of California at Berkeley has cancelled a talk by the editor of the right-wing Breitbart News website, Milo Yiannopoulos, after hundreds of students protested against his visit. Mr Yiannopoulos is an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump. At least one fire was started and police fired tear gas, as the campus was put on lockdown.


5 February 2017

Solidarity and British humour at London anti-Trump demo - 4th February 2017

Thousands turn up in London for latest march against US president's ban on nationals of seven Muslim states entering US. Shafik Mandhai | 04 Feb 2017 

The demonstration on Saturday, which marked the second round of UK protests against Trump in a week, came as a US federal judge in the city of Seattle blocked the order pending a review.

Called for by a coalition of Muslim and anti-racist groups, the rally drew thousands of people outside the US embassy in London.



4 February 2017

US slaps new sanctions on Iran over missile test

Iran's foreign ministry responds to US sanctions by announcing reciprocal measures as Washington-Tehran tensions mount.

The United States has announced new sanctions against Iran after its recent missile test, a move denounced by Tehran which said it would impose its own legal restrictions on American individuals and entities.

In a statement on its website on Friday, the US Treasury said it had added 13 Iranians and 12 companies, some of which are based in Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates and China, to its sanctions list.

"Iran's continued support for terrorism and development of…Read

3 February 2017

Yemen al-Qaeda: US says raid was ‘very thought-out process’

he White House has said a raid in Yemen on an al-Qaeda stronghold that likely killed civilians was a "very thought-out process". As many as 23 civilians were killed in the raid on a village in Yakla district on Saturday, including 10 children, rights group Reprieve says. Yemeni reports say the victims included the daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, a militant killed by a US strike in 2011. The raid was the first such operation authorised by President Donald Trump. The US military had previously said a Navy Seal, William 'Ryan' Owens, 36, died and three others were injured. But the US Central Command …Read

1 February 2017

Hollywood actors react to President Trump’s travel ban

Hollywood actors including Bryan Cranston and Naomie Harris react to President Trump's executive order to suspend the US refugee programme indefinitely and to halt immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries for at least 90 days.