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Global Pulse: The French Choice

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In France, the choice cannot be starker on May 7th, the final day of voting – between Marine Le Pen who wants to shut the door to immigrants and globalization and Emmanuel Macron, who wants to bring down the remaining barriers with the world.

Le Pen called herself “the candidate for the people”, saying that the “survival of France” was at stake.

The anti-immigrant far right has never been this close to power since World War II, prompting all the candidates who lost to gang up against Le Pen and ask their supporters to vote her out in May.

If Macron, a former investment banker and politician who founded a new, centrist party, wins, E.U., NATO leaders, and financial markets will be relieved.

But no matter who wins, the result represents a shocking shift away from the dominance of the two mainstream parties — the first time this has happened since 1958.

Labour pain in Britain

Can Britain’s Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn get it together in seven weeks?

Prime Minister Theresa May’s shock announcement to call an early election has come at a time when the Labour party is at its weakest. Corbyn does not enjoy the support of a majority of his own party leaders. Ratings are low and Brexit has split the party’s voters. Will the party deliver its worst result since 1930s?

“If there is a Jeremy Corbyn vision for how to create a better Britain, then he’s got seven weeks to tell us about it,” said John Curtice, a pollster.

Tories are sending a strong message about how they will deliver a post-Brexit Britain; Liberal Democrats are openly pro-EU; but Labour lacks clarity on Brexit.

Also, it doesn’t help that Corbyn had also called Hamas and Hezbollah “friends.”

Secondary sanctions on North Korea?

A day after North Korea detained another American citizen and threatened Australia with a possible nuclear strike, an Obama-era official asked: Is it time to step up the pressure and apply secondary sanctions on North Korea? Because North Korea is not, by any stretch, “sanctioned out,” argued David S. Cohen served as deputy director of the CIA during Obama administration.

Despite international sanctions, Pyongyang continues to have access to the international financial system. Secondary sanctions gives foreign banks a choice: either continue transactions with a bank facing sanctions or continue access to the U.S. financial system.

This, he writes, has been tested successfully with Iran. Hundreds of foreign banks that severed their ties with sanctioned Iranian banks overnight.

Secondary sanctions should target midsize Chinese banks that aid North Korean front companies.

Eating terrorists in Philippines

The Philippines’ tough-talking, foul-mouthed president, Rodrigo Duterte, has issued the ultimate warning in the war on terror. He said he can be 50 times more brutal than Islamic terrorists and can even eat their internal organs.

Dutertete said this after soldiers foiled a terrorist plot – kidnapping and bombing — by Islamic State affiliates. Several soldiers, civilians and at least four militants died in the operation.

“If you want me to be an animal, I’m also used to that. We’re just the same,” Duterte said. “I can dish out, go down what you can 50 times over. Give me salt and vinegar and I’ll eat his liver.”

His shocking remarks came in the long list of similar tirades against drug dealers, human rights groups and foreign officials.

Saudi women and cellphones

Women in Saudi Arabia have been using their cellphones as a weapon to challenge the prevalent notions of male control. Three recent incidents when women in moments of distress have posted daring videos and messages on Facebook and Twitter – sometimes posting photographs without head scarves — and mobilized support, questioned male supremacy and organized street protests.

The activists themselves are surprised at the response, says New York Times. “I’m very impressed; a few years ago I thought I was the only one who thought this way,” said Moudi al-Johani, 26.

The campaign, started by a loose network of activists who have enlisted young, media-savvy women, is questioning not only the government’s ban on women drivers but now the entire system of male guardianship.

Picture Courtesy: Twitter @MLP_officiel

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