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Hunter Biden Sought ‘Lucrative’ Deal for Himself, His ‘Family’ With Chinese Firm, New Emails Suggest

By Tim Korso – Sputnik – 15.10.2020

Bombshell emails obtained by the New York Post made headlines on 14 October, as they suggested that Joe Biden was involved in his son’s overseas business affairs after all. The rapid spread of the story was, however, impeded by Facebook and Twitter, both of which limited users from sharing it under various pretexts.

Hunter Biden, son of former Vice President and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, previously pursued an agreement with a Chinese energy giant that would be “interesting” to him and his “family”, a new trove of emails published by the New York Post suggests.

The emails come from the same MacBook Pro laptop that contained the purported correspondence of Biden that rocked media outlets and social media on 14 October. The computer, which had a Beau Biden Foundation sticker on it, was dropped off at a repair shop in the state of Delaware in April 2019, but was never collected. The shop’s owner handed it over to the FBI, but not before copying its contents and sending it to former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who, in turn, provided the material to the NYP.

Sputnik could not independently verify the authenticity of the emails.

Twenty Percent for H[unter] and Ten More for ‘Big Guy’?

The newly released emails from the alleged correspondence of Hunter Biden suggest that the latter was engaged in negotiations involving the company CEFC China Energy, a former top 10 firm in China, and continued between May and September 2017. The first piece from the new trove of emails, dated 13 May 2017, concerned Hunter becoming either the chair or vice-chair of an unnamed company with a “remuneration package” worth “850”, when he already had a paid position on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma.

In addition, the same letter suggested that the shares in the company would be divided between six people, identified mostly by their initials. At least three sets of initials refer to the author and the recipients of the email, James Gilliar, Rob Walker, and Tony Bobulinski. The remaining names on the list are “Jim” and “H”, the latter of which may stand for Hunter Biden, another alleged recipient of the mail. “H” was supposed to get 20% of the shares for himself and hold 10% more “for the big guy”. Who the “big guy” is remains unclear from either the alleged email or the New York Post report.

Alleged ‘Lucrative Arrangement’ for Biden ‘Family’

The next piece of correspondence unearthed by the NYP was purportedly sent by Hunter Biden to Gongwen Dong, a Chinese citizen who allegedly had ties to his country’s authorities and was an associate of the now-arrested chairman of the CEFC, which went bankrupt in 2020 after a series of scandals involving fake deals and inflated financial results, Ye Jianming. In the alleged email, dated 2 August 2017, Hunter purportedly reveals that a person, whom he only refers to as “chairman”, had at first offered him a payment of $10 million per year in “consulting fees” for three years, but later made a “much more lasting and lucrative arrangement” where he would receive 50% of the shares in an unnamed holding company.

In the mail, Hunter allegedly indicates that the offer of getting a 50% share in the joint venture was “so much more interesting to me and my family”. The remaining 50% were supposed to be held by the chairman, which may refer to CEFC Chairman Ye Jianming, who was arrested by the Chinese authorities back in 2018.

A photo, taken a day prior to the alleged email regarding the “lucrative arrangement” and which was also found on the MacBook laptop, purportedly shows the proposed structure of a company called Hudsonwest, which would be jointly owned by Hunter Biden and the “chairman” in equal parts. A company with a similar name, Hudson West III LLC, was mentioned in reports presented by two US Senate committees – on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and on Finance – in regards to Hunter Biden’s business affairs in China, Russia, and Ukraine.

According to these reports, Hudson West III had a credit line with Cathay Bank that was opened by Hunter Biden and Gongwen Dong in September 2017. With this line of credit, the company issued several credit cards with collateral of $99,000. These cards were authorised to be used by Hunter Biden, his uncle James Biden, and the latter’s wife, Sara Biden. The Senate reports state that these cards were used to buy $101,291 worth of goods and services, including airline tickets, hotel bookings, as well as purchases made at pharmacies and Apple Stores. The company Hudson West III has since been dissolved, the Senate reports say.

Leak of Scandalous Laptop Emails

The new revelations come a day after a bombshell report by the NYP that suggested Hunter Biden had arranged a meeting between an adviser to the board of the Ukrainian gas firm Burisma, Vadym Pozharskyi, and his father, Joe Biden, in 2015 – when the latter was still serving as vice president. Almost a year after the purported meeting, Joe Biden convinced Ukrainian authorities to sack Prosecutor-General Viktor Shokin, who was allegedly investigating crimes by Burisma, by threatening to withhold a $1 billion US loan to Kiev.

Joe Biden has repeatedly claimed he did not discuss Hunter’s overseas business affairs with his son and insists he did not pressure Kiev into sacking Shokin, despite openly boasting of playing a role in getting him fired at the Council on Foreign Relations in 2018. The Biden campaign denies that the 2015 meeting between Pozharskyi and the former vice president took place, while Hunter Biden’s lawyer has refused to comment on the NYP report. The lawyer insisted that information received from Rudy Giuliani cannot be trusted and thus doesn’t deserve to be commented on.

Social Media Platforms Under Fire for Taking Down Hunter Biden Email Story

The bombshell NYP story about Joe Biden’s alleged meeting with Pozharskyi gained so much traction online that two social media platforms, Facebook and Twitter, limited its spread by forbidding users from sharing it. Apart from this, Twitter took the original post down for good and blocked several accounts that had reposted it, including those of the New York Post and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany. The decision met with furious reactions from both netizens and Republican politicians, who accused the social media platforms of censoring the information, which is potentially damning to the Democratic presidential candidate that the platforms allegedly favour.

The move against the NY Post’s story was not immediately followed by an explanation from the two platforms, which only added to the outrage of netizens. Facebook later clarified that the spread of the story would be limited until third-party fact-checkers confirm its veracity. Twitter, in turn, justified its action by stating that the article violates its rules, as it contains personal data of the people involved in the story, as well as “hacked materials” – although all the information had been obtained without the need to bypass the security barriers on the laptop.

October 15, 2020 Posted by | Corruption | , | Leave a comment

Iraq Forms Committee to Develop Timeline for Withdrawal of US Troops

Sputnik – 15.10.2020

The Iraqi authorities have formed a committee that will coordinate with the United States to develop the timeline for the withdrawal of US troops from the Middle Eastern country, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

“The meeting took place at the Foreign Ministry headquarters today, Thursday, October 15, 2020, in which a technical committee emerged to undertake the task of coordinating with the US side to schedule the redeployment of US forces outside Iraq,” the Iraqi Foreign Ministry wrote in a press release.

The decision was taken during a meeting involving Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein, National Security Adviser Qassem Al-Araji, and a range of other security officials.

The establishment of the committee follows a series of meetings between US and Iraqi officials over the summer. In August, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhmi travelled to Washington for talks with US President Donald Trump, and a three-year timeline was established for the US withdrawal.

In early January, the Iraqi parliament voted to expel all foreign forces from the country following the US decision to launch a drone attack near Baghdad International Airport that killed top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani.

October 15, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | 1 Comment

Twitter, Biden and the New York Post – Social Media Censorship Kicks up a Gear

By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | October 15, 2020

Yesterday, the New York Post published several articles claiming to show evidence of corruption on the part of Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

The charges are varied but not really surprising. One article claims Hunter introduced his father to a Ukrainian energy magnate who asked the family to use their influence to shut down an investigation into his company.

Another story suggests Hunter Biden used his family name to secure a high-paid job and stock interests in a Chinese company.

The NYP evidence these claims with emails and documents allegedly retrieved from a laptop left at a computer repair store in Delaware. The owner of the store alerted the FBI to the computer’s existence when no one came forward to pay for the repairs and he could not contact the owner.

According to the NYP, both the hard drive and laptop were then seized by the FBI. They have a copy of the grand jury subpoena, which is certainly solid evidence, if genuine.

The owner of the store claims he, prior to it being seized, made a copy of the hard drive and sent it to Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s lawyer.

While this is potentially intriguing, if true, it’s not really “news”. Biden’s corruption in Ukraine has been evident since his son was appointed to the board of the largest energy company in Ukraine within weeks of the US-backed coup in 2014 (a decision so obviously dodgy even the Guardian made a joke out of it). Joe Biden himself has even admitted to applying financial pressure to get a Ukrainian State Prosecutor removed from office.

None of this is really “big news”. Corruption is rampant in the halls of power, that is as certain as death and taxes, and will continue to be so, whether or not these specific allegations are accurate.

The big news, the part of this story that should concern everyone, is that Twitter has completely blocked this material on their platform.

And we’re not talking a “soft block”, we at OffG are more than familiar with twitter’s use of “warnings”, no they literally made it impossible to share the links, even in DMs. If you try, you get his warning:

We can’t complete this request because this link has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially harmful. Visit our Help Center to learn more.”

We’ve talked about twitter’s “partners” before, and they are suspect. As for being “potentially harmful”, well isn’t that subjective? Fire is vital at times, but certainly “potentially harmful” at others. Water, in sufficient quantity, is “potentially harmful”.

If you’re a liar, the truth is “potentially harmful”.

Facebook has followed suit, if in less sweeping fashion. The social media giant’s spokesperson Andy Stone announced that they would be:

“… reducing its distribution on our platform. This is part of our standard process to reduce the spread of misinformation.

This decision is pending approval by their “independent fact-checkers”, which we have also covered in detail before.

*

So what are the social media companies’ excuses reasons for blocking this content?

Well, it depends who you ask.

Twitter claims that since the emails are potentially “hacked”, posting them violates their policy regarding illegally gathered material. (Interestingly this policy was never applied to Trump’s leaked tax returns.)

Facebook, on the other hand, claim to have blocked these stories because they might be “misinformation”. A truly ludicrous precedent to set. You can’t block something that might not be true, because that applies to literally almost everything.

You do have to admire the strategy though. The pincer movement is brilliant.

You see, one site is blocking them because they might not be real, the other because if they are real then they’re stolen. It’s a win-win situation.

Essentially, real or not, the tech giants have all the bases covered and there’s no way they are going to let people read those emails, or even stories about the emails. Twitter even blocked the account of the Whitehouse Spokesperson Kayleigh MacEnany for sharing the links.

Of course, moving forward this will not just apply to these emails, but anything they want.

More and more precedents are rolling out that social media companies can stop anyone from saying anything by applying their absurdly vague and subjective rules.

They have essentially given themselves license to block anything they want on a totally ad hoc basis, and because it’s being done in the name of “orange man bad” or combatting “hate speech”, an army of useful idiots are happy to go along with it. Even calling it a win for progressive values.

The mainstream cheered on twitter earlier this year when they started (incorrectly) “fact-checking” Donald Trump’s tweets concerning postal voting. We wrote then that it was a scary and potentially damaging idea. This is why.

We now have mega-corporations, who possess neither democratic mandate nor public accountability, controlling what elected officials can and cannot say in public. The political discourse of our society has become subject to the approval of “independent fact-checkers” created by billionaires and staffed by the Deep State.

Which is exactly what we’ve been warning about, for years.

*

It all makes you wonder – what exactly is the point of this story?

Are we just witnessing surface tremors of the deeper internal conflict in the Deep State, just as we saw in 2016?

Or is it meant to distract everyone with salacious details of a corruption scandal we all already knew about, while ever-more of our online freedoms are taken away?

This story probably isn’t going away any time soon. For one thing, we can expect that someone is going to accuse Russia of somehow being involved in the very near future.

… oh, they already did. I guess we’re in for Russiagate II then. Fun times.

October 15, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

Imagine If MSM Consistently Applied The Evidentiary Standards It’s Applying To Hunter Biden’s Emails

By Caitlin Johnstone | October 14, 2020

Mainstream media and social media platforms are actively blacking out an October surprise published by The New York Post which purports to show “smoking gun” emails from the laptop of Hunter Biden, son of Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Both Twitter and Facebook have censored the story on their platforms, the first time we’ve seen the powerful social media giants deplatform a mainstream news media article, both citing concerns about the origins of the emails and an uncertainty about the veracity of the claims.

“Facebook was limiting distribution of the story while its outside fact-checkers reviewed the story’s claims, spokesman Andy Stone said,” reports NPR, adding that “Twitter said it decided to block the story because it couldn’t be sure about the origins of the emails.”

Twitter claims it found the emails to be in violation of its policies banning content which contained private information and its rules against “hacked materials”, both of which would have forbidden all articles sharing the contents of the 2016 WikiLeaks drops if those rules had existed back then. As I warned could happen back in August, these rules have set the stage for the cross-platform censorship of a 2020 October surprise.

There’s a good thread going around Twitter compiling posts that mainstream media reporters have been making in objection to the circulation of Hunter Biden’s emails alongside posts made by those same reporters promoting far more ridiculous and insubstantial allegations, like MSNBC’s virulent Russia conspiracy theorist Kyle Griffin saying nobody should link to the New York Post report because if they do they’ll be “amplifying disinformation”.

A new Reason article discusses how the mass media are not just avoiding the story but actively discouraging it:

On Wednesday, The New York Post published an attention-catching original report: “Smoking-gun email reveals how Hunter Biden introduced Ukrainian businessman to VP dad.” In the previously unreleased email, which was allegedly sent on April 17, 2015, an executive with Burisma, the Ukrainian natural gas company, thanks Hunter Biden for “giving an opportunity” to meet Joe Biden, according to The NY Post.

It’s a story that merits the attention of other journalists, political operatives, national security experts, and also the public at large — not least of all because there are serious questions about its accuracy, reliability, and sourcing. And yet many in the media are choosing not just to ignore the story, but to actively encourage others to suppress any discussion of it.

Indeed, two mainstream reporters who acknowledged (and criticized) the Post’s scoop — The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman and Politico’s Jake Sherman — faced thunderous denunciation on Twitter from Democratic partisans simply for discussing the story. Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden accused Haberman of promoting disinformation, and New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg told Sherman that he was helping nefarious conservative activists “launder this bullshit into the news cycle.” Historian Kevin Kruse asked why they were “amplifying” the story.

Indeed a scroll through today’s mainstream news reporting does appear to show some consensus among most news media that the topic of the emails should be avoided, with most MSM articles on the matter covering the after-effects of the New York Post release or explaining why readers should be dubious about its contents. A new Washington Post article titled “Hunter Biden’s alleged laptop: an explainer” takes great pains to outline how important it is to be very, very certain that this story is everything it purports to be before investing any credulity in it.

“How do we know the email is authentic? We do not,” WaPo tells us. “The New York Post posted PDF print-outs of several emails allegedly from the laptop, but for the ‘smoking gun’ email, it shows only a photo made the day before the story was posted, according to Thomas Rid, author of Active Measures, a book on disinformation. ‘There is no header information, no metadata.’ The Washington Post has been unable to independently verify or authenticate these emails, as requests to make the laptop hard drive available for inspection have not been granted.”

This would be the same Washington Post that has been circulating disinformation about Russia for years due to its disinterest in verifying information before reporting, and has alongside the rest of the mass media been promoting the narrative that Russia interfered in the 2016 US election based solely on unproven assertions promoted by government agencies despite many gaping plot holes in that narrative. Where was the journalistic concern for seeing the data and inspecting the hard drives then?

In and of itself there is no problem at all with mainstream news media applying high evidentiary standards to its reporting and making sure readers are aware when political manipulators could be pulling the wool over their eyes. In and of itself this would be a good thing. The problem is that all this emphasis on verification and truth only comes up when it is politically convenient for these plutocratic media outlets, because only favoring truth when it’s convenient is the same as lying constantly.

Where were these high evidentiary standards when The Guardian reported without evidence and against all common sense that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had been having secret meetings with Trump lackey Paul Manafort? That evidence never came out, because the story was ridiculous bullshit from the beginning, yet mass media outlets everywhere parroted it to their audiences like it was a fact. You can still post that bogus Guardian story on Twitter and Facebook to this very day without so much as a warning.

Where were these high evidentiary standards when Politico published the idiotic, nonsensical story that Iran was plotting to assassinate the American ambassador to South Africa? The report sparked many news reports and Twitter threats from the president, but when it was dismissed by the South African government itself there was barely a whisper about it. You are still free to share this bogus Politico article anywhere online you like.

Where were these high evidentiary standards when leaks by anonymous spooks dominated headlines for days with their evidence-free allegation that the Russian government had been paying Taliban-linked fighters bounties on western occupying forces? We now know that story was completely baseless and would have been dismissed by news reporters who were actually doing their due diligence, yet it’s still being cited as fact on Twitter by sitting US senators and in a recent vice presidential debate by Kamala Harris. If news reporters had spent anywhere near as much energy cautioning their audiences to be skeptical about this story and educating them about its plot holes as they’re spending on Hunter Biden’s emails, this would not be happening.

The problem is not that there are high evidentiary standards for Hunter Biden’s emails, the problem is that there are virtually no evidentiary standards when the plutocratic media want to sell the world on a narrative which benefits the establishment upon which the media-owning class has built its kingdom. News reports will be waved through on a vague assertion by some anonymous government operative if they are damaging to Russia, Iran, China, North Korea, Syria or any other US-targeted nation, and they are on a pretty much daily basis to greater or lesser degrees.

If a news report facilitates the national security state, all journalistic protocol goes out the window and nobody knows the meaning of the word evidence. As soon as a report becomes inconvenient for a friend of the national security state like Joe Biden, suddenly strict evidentiary standards and warnings against potential disinformation are of paramount importance. This is the same as lying all the time.

They lie because the mass media within the US-centralized empire are the propaganda engine for that empire. The drivers of empire understand that whoever controls the narrative controls the world, so they ensure that all points of narrative influence are tightly controlled by them.

A world where all news stories are held to the same evidentiary standards as Hunter Biden’s emails are currently being held would be a world without empire. People would never consent to the insanity of imperialism and endless war if their consent wasn’t manufactured, and depriving them of the information that is inconvenient for that empire is essential in that manufacturing.

October 15, 2020 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 2 Comments

Russian Foreign Ministry Says Only The Hague to Blame For Collapse of Consultations Over MH17

Sputnik – 15.10.2020

MOSCOW – The Hague is the only one to blame for derailing consultations of Russia, Australia and the Netherlands on the MH17 plane crash over eastern Ukraine, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

“Therefore, the Hague carries full responsibility for the collapse of the trilateral consultations,” the ministry said.

The ministry further noted that it finds it impossible to further participate in trilateral consultations with Australia and the Netherlands on the deadly MH17 crash after the Dutch lawsuit filed against Russia with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

“The Hague has chosen another option, without even waiting for interim results of the consultations — while only three rounds were held. It filed an interstate complaint against Russia with the ECHR. Such unfriendly steps by the Netherlands make the continuation of the trilateral consultations meaningless, as well as our participation,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“As we remain committed to the provisions of the United Nations Security Council’s Resolution 2166, we intend to continue cooperation with competent authorities in the Netherlands, including for discussing Ukraine’s failure to close its airspace for civilian aircraft flights over the Donbas armed conflict area. However, we will be doing it in other formats,” the ministry went on to say.

Moscow once again slammed the MH17 probe by the Netherlands and the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team as “biased, superficial and politicized.”

Commenting on Moscow’s statement, Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said that the Netherlands regrets Russia’s decision to withdraw from trilateral consultations on MH17 with Australia.

“Russia has informed us of its unilateral decision to stop consultations on MH17. The Netherlands deeply regrets this decision by Russia,” Blok said.

In July, the Netherlands filed a lawsuit against Russia with the ECHR over the country’s alleged role in the deadly incident, which left almost 300 people killed back in 2014.

In its fresh statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry qualified the step “as another blow on the Russian-Dutch relations, and The Hague’s demonstration of its firm intention to continue the vicious policy of unilaterally putting on Russia the blame for what happened in the skies over Donbas, in defiance of common sense.”

The aircraft was downed over eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014 as the self-proclaimed republics in the region were engulfed in an armed conflict with the new government following a violent coup in Kiev earlier that year. All 298 passengers – mostly Dutch citizens – and crew on board died in the crash.

The accident is being investigated by Dutch prosecutors and JIT (Joint Investigation Team), who claim that the plane was hit by a Buk missile that belonged to the Russian Armed Forces.

Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement in the incident and has called the JIT investigation biased, because Russia’s evidence showing the plane had been shot down by a Ukrainian Buk missile, proven with radar data, has been ignored by investigators. At the same time, Ukraine has failed to provide any primary radar data, saying that “the radar was not operating at that moment”.

Moreover, leaked documents from the Dutch Military Intelligence and Security Service (MIVD) showed that Ukrainian missile systems were installed closer to the scene of the incident than any Russian ones, with the plane being out of their range.

In 2018, JIT released a report claiming the missile that shot down MH17 was launched by DPR forces and that the Buk launcher had been delivered from Russia. Moscow stated that the probe was politically motivated, and noting the team had based its claims on unverified social media photos and videos, as well as assertions by the Ukrainian government.

October 15, 2020 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | , , , | Leave a comment

Claims of dramatic loss of Great Barrier Reef corals are false


Corals expert hits out at media reports  

GWPF | October 15, 2020

Claims that Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has lost half of its coral cover between 1995 and 2017 have received global media coverage.

The stories were based on a new paper co-authored by controversial Australian researcher, Professor Terry Hughes of James Cook University.

But according to Professor Peter Ridd, a leading authority on the Great Barrier Reef, these claims are false.

According to Professor Ridd, the best data on coral cover is taken by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), who have been measuring over 100 reefs every year since 1986:

“AIMS data shows that coral cover fluctuates dramatically with time but there is roughly the same amount of coral today as in 1995. There was a huge reduction in coral cover in 2011 which was caused by two major cyclones that halved coral cover. Cyclones have always been the major cause of temporary coral loss on the Reef.”

Coral cover of the Great Barrier Reef 1986-2019; AIMS/Peter Ridd 2020

This is not the first time that Professor Hughes has made such claims about coral loss. His previous study was strongly criticised by the AIMS scientists responsible for collecting and publishing the coral data.

Moreover, Professor Hughes has refused to make public the raw data upon which he made this claim, despite repeated requests.

“This latest work by Prof Hughes needs a thorough quality-audit to test its veracity”, says Ridd. “Prime-facie, there are excellent grounds to treat it with great scepticism.”

Contact

Professor Peter Ridd
e: peterridd@yahoo.com.au

October 15, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , | 1 Comment

Popular protectionist policies in France could eventually lead to “Frexit”

By Paul Antonopoulos | October 15, 2020

The majority of French people say they are in favor of protectionism, according to the latest OpinionWay poll by Le Printemps de l’Économie and Inseec U. In fact, the figure has risen sharply since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and the European Union’s weak response to external threats like Turkey. This is a fundamental trend that could lead to a referendum on France’s exit from the European Union.

According to OpinionWay polls, the share of French people in favor of protectionism has gone from 51% in March to 60% in September. The survey confirms the desire for protectionism in France, which has only been reinforced since the pandemic began. The survey shows that 60% of the French people questioned consider globalization as “a threat to France” and 65% believe that “France must protect itself more from the world today,” a level never observed since polling began

In the event of a major crisis, a country will first and foremost try to protect and supply its own population, even if it comes to the detriment of others. This was seen all across the European Union in the first months of the pandemic when most member states abandoned inter-European solidarity to the detriment of other member states. For example, in March, Germany banned the export of protective medical equipment at a time when France did not have enough.

As popularity for protectionism is increasing in France, according to the OpinionWay survey, support for free trade went down from 46% to 35%. Supporters of free trade try to pass off protectionism as authoritarianism and isolationism. However, during the Trente Glorieuses (The Glorious Thirty), which between 1945-1975 saw unprecedented economic growth and development in France, trade was carried out in a fair framework which limited distorted competition, unlike what happens with free trade.

The polls also show that the tide is turning for 18-24-year old’s, “traditionally known to be in favor of opening up to the world,” as Pierre-Pascal Boulanger, president and founder of Printemps, highlighted in the La Tribune article. “The gaps are narrowing sharply since now 44% of very young people are in favor of protectionism against 37% in March.”

Therefore, for all the rhetoric of European sovereignty by French President Emmanuel Macron, it means absolutely nothing as sovereignty can only be national. This year alone we saw Italy abandoned by its partners at the peak of the pandemic, while European Union member states still refuse to pass sanctions against Turkey despite its violations of Greek and Cypriot sovereignty, and constant threats of war.

Any European protectionist inclination is directly undermined by national interests. France is now beginning to prioritize its national interests over that of the European Union, especially with the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, suggesting an implementation of a European carbon tax at its borders, something that Paris considers essential but which does not please Berlin.

The same thing could be seen concerning the taxation of GAFAM [Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft]. The subject has been on the table for years but Germany is blocking taxes against GAFAM because the U.S. is its major trading partner and Berlin is afraid that Washington will retaliate by taxing imported vehicles which would hurt the German economy.

An Elabe poll released on February 12 showed that 80% of the French people questioned were opposed to a new duel between Macron and opposition leader Marine Le Pen in the 2022 elections. However, recent opinion polls show that the two candidates are indeed neck-to-neck and marginally ahead of other opponents. However, the European question encompasses all political and economic dimensions and must be put at the center of discussions. The European question goes beyond the left-right divide and a referendum on France’s exit from the European Union may be at the heart of the political debate. It will blur the ideological divides as people from different political positions would campaign for a “yes” or “no” vote, as we saw with Brexit.

Nigel Farage, leader of the Brexit Party and considered the great architect of the UK’s exit from the European Union, has never won the general elections. But he put such pressure to obtain a referendum and succeeded in creating a real debate on the question of sovereignty and protectionism.

The Brexit referendum has shown that it is possible. If a similar debate can get into the French spotlight, strong Frexit sentiment can build off the back of increasing popularity in protectionist policies. The French in 2005 voted against the treaty to establish a European constitution despite all predictions it would be unanimously passed. Although detached from the European Union, the French also withdrew from NATO for several decades, demonstrating there is a high sense of independence and sovereignty in France.

With Brussels unwilling to take a strong position against external threats like Turkey and/or showing a lack of solidarity when the pandemic was spreading across the continent, France’s possible exit from the European Union can build momentum and popularity.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst. 

October 15, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , | Leave a comment