France’s Presidential Election: Frustration or Indifference

By Bill Wirtz

France recently held its regional elections—do not worry if you did not know, because apparently it was news to many French people as well. With a historic abstention rate of 66 percent, the French have never cared less for who is governing their region. In some regions, less than 12 percent of eligible voters took to the polls. Ironically, the same people who abstained also find the trend of not participating in elections concerning, according to a Franceinfo poll: 73 percent called it “worrying for our democracy” and 84 percent found it to be “alarming for our country.” Yet in the same poll, 41 percent said they were “busy” on that Sunday, and 24 percent were simply uninterested in the election.

This very French double-standard, both grandstanding on the importance of democracy and institutions yet being unbothered by participating themselves, is not new. In an April poll, 7 out of 10 French people said they were in favor of new COVID-19 restrictions, but half of the same respondents said they were not planning to follow them. Outside of this rather humorous confirmation of a stereotype, there are also deeper reasons for the high abstention rate.

To understand this, a quick refresher on the French election system: All candidates (including in the presidential race) run on equal terms in a first round. If no candidate receives a simple majority, then (usually) the two candidates with the most votes proceed to a second round. What this has meant in practice is that in 2002 and in 2017, a candidate from a mainstream party stood against a National Front (now called National Rally) candidate from the Le Pen family, and won with the support of voters from other parties. In 2002, Jacques Chirac defeated Jean-Marie Le Pen with more than 80 percent, after having been endorsed by virtually all other political parties. In 2017, Emmanuel Macron defeated Marine Le Pen with 66 percent of the vote after similar events. These endorsements are justified as the “Republican Front,” meaning the parties that adhere to the norms of liberal democracy and the rule of law, to which the Le Pen family is seen as being opposed.

For the center-right Les Républicains, which in 2017 ran François Fillon and lost after a nepotism scandal, picking your poison in the second round has always been iffy. Many prominent Republicans call for the “Ni-Ni,” meaning “neither candidate.” The left, on the other hand, has been consistently upholding the principle of supporting any candidate against the far-right. But today that consensus seems to be in question.

In 2017, France’s most prominent left-wing newspaper, Libération, ran this headline. “Do what you want, but vote for Macron.” In that election, had left-wingers abstained from voting, Macron would likely have lost to Le Pen. In February this year, Libération ran a cover piece titled “2022: ‘I already blocked [Le Pen]. This time it’s over.’” The story analyses frustrated left-wing voters and why they could be fatal for Macron’s reelection bid. No wonder, …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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Jason Rantz: Biden’s crime solutions are clueless – here are 5 that will work

By Jason Rantz Progressive politicians and prosecutors from New York to Portland and Minneapolis to Los Angeles have ushered in a new era of light-on-crime policies that have effectively neutered police. …read more

Via:: Fox Opines

      

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Sen. Roger Marshall: Keep the filibuster – Senate, nation need the stability and compromise this tool provides

By Roger Marshall Democrats have set their sights on eliminating the filibuster – the most important tool in the Senate, one that requires negotiation and compromise and provides one of the checks and balances in our system of government. …read more

Via:: Fox Opines

      

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Move Over Bitcoin, Here’s Criminals’ Preferred Crypto

By John Mac Ghlionn

Reality, they say, is stranger than fiction. But the lines between the two are quickly blurring. With 58 different gender identities and professors at Cornell asking if the term “black hole” is racist, one regularly finds themselves asking, how much more insane can reality get?

Oh, plenty more.

Last week, two brothers in South Africa disappeared with almost $3.6 billion in bitcoin. The duo, who operated Africrypt, one of the most influential cryptocurrency exchanges in Africa, are nowhere to be found. That’s a lot of money. According to Fortune, it’s by far the largest cryptocurrency loss in history. However, it’s important to note that this will only go down as the biggest loss in history if the money isn’t recovered. Bitcoin, as I have explained before, is highly traceable. Although the brothers are nowhere to be found at present, they will be located, and the bitcoins may very well be recovered.

How do we stop criminals from absconding with the GDP of Aruba? It’s simple: just ban bitcoin. This, however, will do little to deter criminals. Why? Because there’s a new cryptocurrency in town. If bitcoin is problematic, this new coin is downright dangerous.

Show Me the Monero

In a recent interview with FT, Bryce Webster-Jacobsen, a cyber-security expert, spoke of a worrying trend. Ransomware groups, he warns, are “specifically shifting to monero,” And why wouldn’t they? Monero, which literally means “coin” in Esperanto, is a private digital currency. When the makers of the coin chose to make it private, they didn’t hold back. Cyber criminals, according to Webster-Jacobsen, “have recognized the ability for mistakes to be made using bitcoin that allow blockchain transactions to reveal their identity.” With monero, their identities are fully concealed and geographical locations obscured.

Although the private coin is generating a lot of discussion now, it has been around for years. In 2013, someone going by the name of Nicolas van Saberhagen published the “CryptoNote” white paper. The pseudonymous author (probably authors) outlined the myriad issues associated with the first ever cryptocurrency:

Unfortunately, Bitcoin does not satisfy the untraceability requirement. Since all the transactions that take place between the network’s participants are public, any transaction can be unambiguously traced to a unique origin and final recipient. Even if two participants exchange funds in an indirect way, a properly engineered path-finding method will reveal the origin and final recipient.”

Not long after the paper was published, developers began working on monero. Although the coin’s value pales in comparison to bitcoin, it’s easier to mine. Furthermore, and rather crucially for the criminally inclined, anonymity is guaranteed. In 2018, Newsweek ran a piece documenting the ways in which far-right groups were turning to monero as a source of funding. After the crowdfunding platform Patreon banned Christopher Cantwell, also known as the Crying Nazi, the convicted felon turned to monero. Cantwell, we’re told, viewed it as an “alternative way for his white supremacist fan base to give him handouts.” Unsurprisingly, in the three years …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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Black, Bennett, Hanson: China’s naked aggression, provocation is at record levels. Where is US leadership?

By Conrad Black The People’s Republic of China has raised its level of naked aggression and provocation of the West to its highest point since President Nixon’s trip to China in 1972. …read more

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Colin Reed: Protecting donor privacy – Supreme Court has chance to protect charity supporters from harassment

By Colin Reed In a recent stunt, Whitehouse even denigrated the majority of the Supreme Court – which was confirmed by a majority of the U.S. Senate in which he serves – as “servants of right-wing dark money interests.” …read more

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