Macron hack dump on eve of French election

From Missy:


The French Presidential Election Campaigning officially finished at midnight Friday ahead of the second round voting tomorrow.

Last night several gigabytes of data – emails and documents – from Macron’s campaign was released online. Macron is accusing Russia for the hack and leak, the campaign are also claiming that some of the emails are faked. As it was done late last night, and Macron’s statement just before the midnight cut-off Le Pen is unable to comment on the leak.

There appears to be know evidence that it was Russia that hacked his campaign, it seems that it is just easy for Russia to be blamed, allegedly the spread of the information began with far right groups in the US and were picked up by Le Pen supporters.

Macron’s team have thought for a long time that Putin has been trying to mount a smear campaign against him via state media and has openly complained about it, RT have said they plan to sue Macron over the accusations. This is – in my opinion – a little hypocritical of Macron as he had no qualms about the EU using friendly media to mount a campaign against Le Pen, nor does he have a problem with the EU breaking protocol and opening supporting him over Le Pen.

The Telegraph: Russia blamed as Macron campaign blasts ‘massive hacking attack’ ahead of French presidential election

Clinton blames everything else and herself

Hillary Clinton, in a public interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour at the Women for Women International summit in New York, took “absolute personal responsibility” for her loss in last year’s election and admits making mistakes, but still blames her loss on the unprecedented intervention of FBI head James Comey.

“I take absolute personal responsibility. I was the candidate, I was the person who was on the ballot. I am very aware of the challenges, the problems, the shortfalls that we had”.

“Did I make mistakes, oh my god, yes, you will read my confessions, my request for absolution. But the reason I believe we lost were the intervening events in the last 10 days.”

“If the election had been on October 27, I would be your president”.

“I was on the way to winning until a combination of (FBI Director) Jim Comey’s letter on October 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me and got scared off”.

“”The evidence for that intervening event is, I think, compelling, persuasive, and so we overcame a lot in the campaign”.

Comey’s letter did impact significantly on the campaign and may well have swung it against Clinton, but that’s history – and it’s history that wouldn’t have happened if Clinton wasn’t such a flawed candidate with too much political baggage who ran a poor campaign.

Clinton also said she believed misogyny played a role in her defeat. It may have done but I don’t think that’s a major factor – balanced against that was repulsion at the revelations about Trump’s attitude to women.

Clinton also had a dig in advance at Trump.

“If he wants to tweet about me, then I am happy to be the diversion because we have a lot of things to worry about”.

“He should worry less about the election and my winning the popular vote than doing some other things that would be important for the country.”

She suggested that if Trump launched a fusillade on Twitter, it would be “better than interfering in foreign affairs.”

She will have known that this will have annoyed Trump, and inevitably he responded via Twitter:

FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds!

The phony Trump/Russia story was an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election. Perhaps Trump just ran a great campaign?

In some ways Trump’s campaign was great, it worked where it mattered most, but it was in other ways an awful campaign for an awful candidate.

As Stephen Collinson at CNN says: Clinton, Trump can’t stop airing their 2016 grievances

In a stunning interview Tuesday, Clinton, the former Democratic nominee, vented her still raw emotions and blazing bitterness over her defeat by Trump — pointing to Russia and FBI Chief James Comey as the key drivers of her loss.

Trump, for his part, rarely lets more than a few days go by without boasting about his outsider win. Then, remarkably for a victor, he disputes the result — claiming without evidence that millions of illegal voters handed Clinton a popular vote triumph.

The prospect of regurgitating the most bitter election on record must horrify Americans who were forced to live through it for roughly two years.

But given Clinton’s public anger over her loss and Trump’s unwillingness to move on, a long-range rhetorical rematch is inevitable, especially since Clinton has a book coming in the fall.

The President is extraordinarily touchy about the merest suggestion that his victory is not totally authentic. Clinton has now given her supporters, many of whom believe she was cheated out of breaking the highest, hardest glass ceiling in politics, even more reasons to view Trump as illegitimate.

And the President is unlikely to take a pass at Clinton’s unflattering description of his performance, including her renewal of her claim that he was unprepared for office.

As his tweets show he didn’t take a pass, but it’s sad that Clinton has let her bitterness boil over so publicly.

It’s rather ironic that a clash over one of the most powerful and important jobs in the world continues to be so petty and childish.

Both Clinton and Trump continue to remind the world how bad US democracy has become.

More claims of Russian election interference

Some here have said that allegations of Russian hacking and interference in the US presidential election isn’t a big deal, they shouldn’t be investigated, and everyone should just “move on”.

The election result is a done deal and there’s not changing that, but efforts to combat international interference in elections is a growing problem that needs attention and demands investigation.

The Russian hacker claims have now moved to the French presidential election.

BBC: Russian hackers ‘target’ presidential candidate Macron

Russian hackers are targeting the campaign of French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron, say security experts.

Phishing emails, malware and fake net domains were all being used as attack techniques, said Feike Hacquebord, from security company Trend Micro.

The attackers are believed to be part of the same group that targeted the US election.

Russia has denied that it is behind attacks aimed at Mr Macron.

In a report, Mr Hacquebord said the group behind the “aggressive” attacks was a collective of Russian hackers known widely as Fancy Bear, APT28 and Pawn Storm.

He said the group was using an extensive arsenal of high-tech con tricks to grab the login names, passwords and other credentials of staff aiding Mr Macron’s bid to be the next French president.

In particular, said Mr Hacquebord, the hacker group had registered several net domains similar to those already registered by the French politician’s staff.

The fake domains were then used in phishing emails sent to key workers in an attempt to get them to visit the websites so login details could be scooped up.

Mr Hacquebord said telltale techniques of the group lent weight to the idea that the people involved in the French attacks were behind ones seen last year in the US.

A spokesman for the French national cyber-security agency, ANSSI, confirmed that it too had seen several attacks on Mr Macron’s staff and back-office systems.

However, a spokesman for the agency said it was difficult to be sure that the Pawn Storm group was behind the attacks.

But:

The Pawn Storm group is also believed to have been involved in other attacks on political organisations, including the Christian Democratic Union of Germany, the Turkish government and Montenegro’s parliament, as well as the World Anti-Doping Agency and Arabic television channel al-Jazeera.

This sort of political cyber attacking and campaign disruption is difficult to combat, but it would be ridiculous to just try to ignore it as if it isn’t a problem.

 

73% want US election inquiry v Russia

A clear majority of Americans want an independent, non-partisan commission instead of Congress to investigate Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

NBC News: 73% Back Independent Probe of Russian Election Interference

Seventy-three percent of respondents prefer the independent investigation, versus 16 percent who pick Congress.

Still, a majority of Americans — 54 percent — believe that Congress should investigate whether there was contact between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, which is essentially unchanged from February’s NBC/WSJ poll.

That’s clear majorities for all but Republicans.

The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted April 17-20 of 900 adults, including more than 400 who were reached via cell phone. The poll has an overall margin of error of plus-minus 3.3 percentage points.

French presidential election

It looks very likely that no candidate will get a clear majority in the first presidential election in France, meaning that a second election will be held next month. But it is uncertain which two candidates will make the run-off, with a poll predicted 25% of voters undecided.

Guardian: French election: vote heading for nailbiting climax – live

Final polls show four leading presidential candidates so close that any two could go through to runoff in two weeks’ time

It’s not exactly nail biting if the result won’t be known until after a second vote in two weeks.

There are 11 candidates but four seem to have a chance of getting through:

Emmanuel Macron

Party: En Marche! (On the Move!). Centrist: liberal economically, left socially
In brief: Fresh, internationally-minded, upbeat

Marine Le Pen

Party: Front National. Far-right.
In brief: Imperious, combative, theatrical, ruthlessly determined; France first.

François Fillon

Party: Les Républicains. Centre-right, conservative.
In brief: Family, faith and the free market; now also alleged abuser of public funds

Jean-Luc Mélenchon

Party: La France Insoumise (France Unbowed). Radical left
In brief: Power to the people, sharp tongue, fiery oratory, great showman

Only one candidate to the left of centre.

France’s 2017 presidential election has been one of the tightest and least predictable in generations. After the final set of opinion polls on Friday, of four candidates leading the first round any two could conceivably make it to the runoff.

FrenchPresidentialPoll2017

What’s more, up to 25% of voters were estimated to be undecided on the eve of the vote. No one, in short, should be under any illusions: anything could yet happen.

How does France’s system of vote estimates work?

The initial vote estimate in French elections – in use and steadily perfected since 1965 – is based on an actual vote count.

Pollsters select about 200 polling stations around the country, in rural areas, small towns and urban agglomerations, carefully chosen to be as representative as possible of the country as a whole.

When the polling stations close – all are among those that close early, at 7pm – and as the votes are being counted, a polling official records, for a sizeable sample of the ballots, the number of votes for each candidate.

Those numbers are then run through a sophisticated computer program that adjusts them for past results and assorted variables, and produces a national vote estimate. This is not the official result, but nor is it an opinion poll.

It is usually very accurate, to within a percentage point of so – but this being an exceptionally close race, a percentage point may be decisive. So either we will have a reliable result at 7pm, or we won’t.

That must be 7 pm UK time, it is currently 7:48 pm in France (5:48 am NZ) so we may have an idea of how it might be going soon.

That means beware of fake vote estimates on social media.

First vote estimate (these vary from different sources):

  • Macron 23.7%
  • Le Pen 21.7%
  • Fillon 19.5%
  • Mélenchon 19.5%
  • Hamon (Socialist) 6.5%

Some sources have Macron and Le Pen level.

The only thing virtually certain from that is that there will need to be a run off election.

It’s now being widely called as heading for a run-off election between Macron and Le Pen.

The French prime minister, Bernard Cazeneuve:

I solemnly call for a vote for Emmanuel Macron in the second round in order to beat the Front National and obstruct the disastrous project of Marine Le Pen that would take France backwards and divide the French people.

I don’t know whether this will help or hinder Macron’s chances.

The centre-right candidate François Fillon has conceded defeat and is also urging support of Macron.

Despite all my efforts, my determination, I have not succeeded in convincing my fellow countrymen and women. The obstacles in my path were too numerous and too cruel. This defeat is mine, I accept the responsibility, it is mine and mine alone to bear.

We have to choose what is best for our country. Abstention is not in my genes, above all when an extremist party is close to power. The Front National is well known for its violence its intolérance, and its programme would lead our country to bankruptcy and Europe into chaos.

Extremism can can only bring unhappiness and division to France. There is no other choice than to vote against the far right. I will vote for Emmanuel Macron. I consider it my duty to tell you this frankly. It is up to you to reflect on what is best for your country, and for your children.

Angelique Chrisafis in Paris explains what lies ahead politically in France, with the parliamentary elections crucial to how either Le pen or Macron would be able to govern.

Whoever wins the Macron-Le Pen race, the parliamentary elections that follow in June will be crucial. The majority in the lower house will determine how a new president could govern, and France is likely to require a new form of coalition politics.

If elected, Macron – who is fielding MP candidates from his fledgling movement, En Marche! (On the Move) – would have to seek a new kind of parliamentary majority across the centre left-right divide.

If Le Pen did win the presidency, she would very probably not win a parliament majority, thwarting her ability to govern. But her party hopes to increase its MPs in the 577-seat house. Currently Le Pen has only two MPs.

So similar to the US tiered system there is a lot involved in making progress for a president.

Interesting that they vote for president first, then decide what parliamentary support or opposition to give the incoming president.

An interesting graphic of predicted support shifts for the run-off.

Who gets first and who gets second is not very significant as both the leading candidates go to a run off, but the numbers seem to be changing.

UPDATE: Results with 106 of 107 departments counted:

  • Macron 23.75%
  • Le Pen 21.53%
  • Fillon 19.91%
  • Melenchon 19.64%
  • Hamon 6.35%
  • Dupont-Aignan 4.75%
  • Lassalle 1.22%
  • Poutou 1.1%
  • Asselineau 0.92%
  • Arthaud 0.65%
  • Cheminade 0.18%

https://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2017/apr/23/french-presidential-election-results-2017-latest

Putin linked to plan to sway US election

The controversy over how much Russia tried to influence the US presidential election last year continues with the claim that two documents link Vladimir Putin to attempts to help Donald Trump’s campaign and to attack Hillary Clinton.

Reuters reports: Exclusive: Putin-linked think tank drew up plan to sway 2016 U.S. election – documents

A Russian government think tank controlled by Vladimir Putin developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system, three current and four former U.S. officials told Reuters.

They described two confidential documents from the think tank as providing the framework and rationale for what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the Nov. 8 election. U.S. intelligence officials acquired the documents, which were prepared by the Moscow-based Russian Institute for Strategic Studies [en.riss.ru/], after the election.

The institute is run by retired senior Russian foreign intelligence officials appointed by Putin’s office.

The first Russian institute document was a strategy paper written last June that circulated at the highest levels of the Russian government but was not addressed to any specific individuals.

It recommended the Kremlin launch a propaganda campaign on social media and Russian state-backed global news outlets to encourage U.S. voters to elect a president who would take a softer line toward Russia than the administration of then-President Barack Obama, the seven officials said.

A second institute document, drafted in October and distributed in the same way, warned that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was likely to win the election.

For that reason, it argued, it was better for Russia to end its pro-Trump propaganda and instead intensify its messaging about voter fraud to undermine the U.S. electoral system’s legitimacy and damage Clinton’s reputation in an effort to undermine her presidency, the seven officials said.

The documents were central to the Obama administration’s conclusion that Russia mounted a “fake news” campaign and launched cyber attacks against Democratic Party groups and Clinton’s campaign, the current and former officials said.

“Putin had the objective in mind all along, and he asked the institute to draw him a road map,” said one of the sources, a former senior U.S. intelligence official.

Four of the officials said the approach outlined in the June strategy paper was a broadening of an effort the Putin administration launched in March 2016. That month the Kremlin instructed state-backed media outlets, including international platforms Russia Today and Sputnik news agency, to start producing positive reports on Trump’s quest for the U.S. presidency, the officials said.

Several specific examples of the Russian news agencies involvement:

  • Russia Today and Sputnik published anti-Clinton stories while pro-Kremlin bloggers prepared a Twitter campaign calling into question the fairness of an anticipated Clinton victory, according to a report by U.S. intelligence agencies on Russian interference in the election made public in January. [bit.ly/2kMiKSA]
  • Russia Today’s most popular Clinton video – “How 100% of the 2015 Clintons’ ‘charity’ went to … themselves” – accumulated 9 millions views on social media, according to the January report. [bit.ly/2os8wIt]
  • Russia Today and Sputnik “consistently cast president elect-Trump as the target of unfair coverage from traditional media outlets.”

Sounds a lot like the Trump campaign. Who followed who’s lead?

UK & Europe – French election

Topics about the UK, EU and Europe.

UK-EU


The first round of the French presidential election is due to be held next weekend, on 23 April. There are 11 candidates, and if no candidate wins a majority the top two candidates will have a run-off election on 7 May.

Current president François Hollande of the Socialist Party (PS) has had low approval ratings and won’t stand for re-election.

Front running candidates:

Fillon’s chances took a hit when it was alleged that he has used family members in fictitious jobs as parliamentary assistants in what became known as Penelopegate.

And now French prosecutors seek to lift Le Pen immunity over expenses inquiry

French prosecutors have asked the European parliament to lift the immunity of the far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen over an expenses scandal, deepening her legal woes on the eve of the election.

The move comes just nine days before France heads to the polls for a highly unpredictable vote, with Le Pen – who heads the Eurosceptic Front National (FN) – one of the frontrunners in the 23 April first round.

The request was made at the end of last month after Le Pen, who is a member of the European parliament, invoked her parliamentary immunity in refusing to attend questioning by investigating magistrates.

From the Guardian: French elections: all you need to know

Child abuse a far worse problem than terrorism

If people and Governments put as much effort into reducing the risks of child abuse as they do terrorism perhaps we would make some real progress in dealing with one of New Zealand’s biggest actual problems.

It’s a lot more difficult screening parents in their homes than it is screening passengers before boarding an aircraft.

Jarrod Gilbert: We really must stop this cycle of child abuse

James Whakaruru’s misery ended when he was killed in 1999. He had endured four years of life and that was all he could take. He was hit with a small hammer, a jug cord and a vacuum cleaner hose. During one beating his mind was so confused he stared blankly ahead. His tormentor responded by poking him in the eyes. It was a stomping that eventually switched out his little light. It was a case that even the Mongrel Mob condemned, calling the cruelty “amongst the lowest of any act”.

An inquiry by the Commissioner for Children found a number of failings by state agencies, which were all too aware of the boy’s troubled existence. The Commissioner said James became a hero because changes made to Government agencies would save lives in the future. Yet such horrors have continued.

My colleague Greg Newbold has found that on average nine children (under 15) have been killed as a result of maltreatment since 1992 and the rate has not abated in recent years. In 2015, there were 14 such deaths, one of which was three-year-old Moko Rangitoheriri, or baby Moko as we knew him when he gained posthumous celebrity.

For every child killed there are dozens who live wretched existences and from this cohort of unfortunates will come the next generation of abusers. Solving the problems of today, then, is not just a moral imperative but is also about producing a positive ripple effect.

We have heard of a number of horrifying abuses of children, but they are just the worst. Most of the children being scarred for life suffer in private.

This cycle of abuse is well known, yet state spending on the problem is poorly aligned to it, and our targeting of the problem is reactionary and punitive rather than proactive and preventative.

Of the $1.4 billion we spend on family and sexual violence annually, less than 10 per cent is spent on interventions, of which just 1.5 per cent is spent on primary prevention. The morality of that is questionable, the economics even more so.

The Government say they are investigating ways of using money more effectively to reduce social and criminal problems.

Not only must things be approached differently but there needs to be greater urgency in our thinking. It’s perhaps trite to say, but if nine New Zealanders were killed every year in acts of terrorism politicians would never stop talking about it and it would be priority number one.

In an election year, that’s exactly where this issue should be.

Violence, especially violence against children, is one of the most serious problems we have in New Zealand. It has widespread immediate and long term effects and is very costly to the state – on top of costing many people a decent quality of life.

Why isn’t it a top election issue? Why aren’t parties making it a bottom line when they posture over coalition deals?

Why don’t ‘the people’ demand more from our Government and our politicians?

It’s something we must do more about, but we seem more concerned about things beyond our control, like Trump and Brexit and Islam that are low risk to us.

There are children in our communities at high risk now. Shouldn’t we me more outraged and more demanding of action?

 

Another book from Hager?

Will Nicky Hager launch another book this year?

He only recently revealed he would be launching what turned out to be the book he co-wrote with Jon Stephenson, Hit & Run. Stephenson presumably did most of the investigating, and it was not a long book (I think not much over a hundred pages).

Before the launch it was said that the book wasn’t targeting or would affect the election campaign like Hager’s last book, Dirty Politics.

There’s time for another book launch before September. Does Hager have another book up his sleeve?

I’m just wondering, I haven’t heard anything about another Hager book this year. He manages to keep his launch plans fairly secret.

Dutch election results

 

Here are what appear to be final interim election results from the Netherlands, along with recent polls.

The green column is the interim election result.

Projected seats (with 93.3% of votes counted):

  • VVD 33 seats
  • PVV 20
  • CDA and D66 19 each
  • GroenLinks, SP 14
  • PvdA 9
  • ChristenUnie and Partij voor de Dieren 5 each
  • 50PLUS 4
  • SGP and DENK 3
  • Forum for Democracy 2

The current Prime Minister Mark Rutte leads the VVD party which has lost seats but is clearly well in front so Rutte is expected to lead a new coalition with three or four other parties (it could take months to organise).

Geert Wilders (PVV) is claiming a victory of sorts and claiming losers will form a coalition. It is expected that he will not be invited to negotiate any role in the Government.

The Dutch Labour Party PvdA has crashed to a disastrous low.

Greens (GroenLinks) have jumped up from 4 to probably 4 seats and are ecstatic.

So no Trump/Brexit type shocks.

An editorial from  Dutch daily NRC :

The Dutch have woken up in a “normal” country, as prime minister Mark Rutte puts it: there was no populist revolt.

Rutte’s VVD lost a quarter of its support but thanks to its substantial lead over the other parties finds itself in an exceptionally comfortable position as leader.

The PvdA, however, one of the pillars of the postwar welfare state, is in existential crisis. Never in parliamentary history has a party lost so many seats.

What is clear is that governing does not pay. The outgoing government presented a dream budget this year: what should have gone up went up, what should have come down came down. The Netherlands is currently one of the best performing countries in the EU. And still voters punished the outgoing coalition severely.

For the voter, apparently, politics is about more than the economy.