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Yesterday’s post related how Emmanuel Macron met Brigitte Trogneux, his wife and former teacher.

Today’s post describes a bit more about his youth and Brigitte’s involvement.

When he was a little boy, Macron often went to his maternal grandmother’s house. Germaine, who died in 2013, was a retired schoolteacher. She instilled in her grandson a love of books and education. She was also keen for him to become a politician. She died in 2013. However, from the beginning, he was accustomed to being around older people.

When Macron was 15, he was a student at the Jesuit-run La Providence school in Amiens. Trogneux, then Mme Auzière — a mother of three, married to André-Louis Auzière — taught French and drama. The first lady of France told an interviewer before her husband became president that when the young Macron auditioned for the school play:

‘I just found him incredible. He had such presence.’

She went on: ‘Without doubt he wasn’t like the others. He was always with the teachers. He simply wasn’t an adolescent.’

The Daily Mail has photos of this particular production, including her giving him a congratulatory kiss at the end.

She was close to her 40th birthday at the time.

The Mail researched several of her interviews with French media, one of which had this:

‘At the age of 17, Emmanuel said to me, ‘Whatever you do, I will marry you!’,’ Miss Trogneux told Paris Match magazine last year.

Macron’s parents were less than pleased. Heavy has 5 Fast Facts about Trogneux, including a description of how things unfolded at home in 1993 (emphases mine below):

According to the book Emmanuel Macron: A Perfect Young Man by Anne Fulda, Macron’s parents told Trogneux to stay away from their son, at least until he was 18.

As Vogue notes, Macron’s parents tried to split them up by sending Macron to Paris to finish his studies, but that didn’t work.

“I cannot promise you anything,” Trogneux told his parents, Fulda writes, notes Reuters. Their relationship continued and they married in 2007, after Trogneux and her husband divorced.

Macron’s parents told Fulda that they believed their son was actually going after the heart of Trogneux’s daughter. They were stunned to hear that this wasn’t the case.

We couldn’t believe it. What is clear is that when Emmanuel met Brigitte we couldn’t just say: ‘That’s great,’” Macron’s mother told Fulda.

Then there was the possibility of Macron not having his own children. Starting one’s own family is a top priority in France. Macron’s mother had words for her son’s teacher:

She is quoted as telling Trogneux, “Don’t you see. You’ve had your life. But he won’t have children with you.”

This came true. Macron stated the reasons why:

During a BMFTV interview in April, Macron made it clear that he and his wife have decided not to have any children, Gala notes. He’s already the step-grandfather of seven children.

We have chosen not to have children. A choice that was not selfish for me,” he told BMFTV. “It is a choice that has been assumed, which I had to make very young given the age difference …”

As the years passed, time healed the wounds between Macron’s parents and the May-December couple:

Although Fulda did interview Macron and Trogneux, Macron’s spokesman said he was disappointed that she didn’t ask about his parents’ approval of the relationship.

And, yes, the middle-aged teacher probably had broken the law, however:

Emmanuel’s parents were keen on emphasizing that they did not lodge a complaint against Brigitte Auziere (Trogneux’s married name) for corruption of a minor,” Macron’s spokesman said, reports Reuters.

Even today, years later, she said:

“Nobody will ever know at what moment our story became a love story. That belongs to us. That is our secret,” Trogneux is quoted as saying in the book.

Macron, 39, is two years younger than his step-son. He is the same age as his elder step-daughter and was a classmate of hers. He is only nine years older than Brigitte’s youngest child, Tiphaine Auzière.

Tiphaine, a lawyer, worked on Macron’s campaign.

Brigitte is very close to her second husband. The couple firmly expect that she will have an important role to play in his presidency.

One wonders whether she will have the family chocolates in the Elysée Palace. Heavy points out:

Trogneux’s parents were Jean Trogneux and Simone Pujol. They had six children, with Trogneux as the youngest, according to Geneanet.org.

L’Express notes that Trogneux’s family is well-known in the north of France for their chocolates. Her nephew, Jean-Alexandre Trogneux, leads the family business, which made four million euros in 2013 alone.

The Jean Trogneux website has a full list of merchandise. The chocolates and other specialities are very pricey.

There’s a joke here, because the company makes the famous Macaron d’Amiens, which Catherine de Medici introduced in the 16th century:

The company’s best-known product are their macaroons, or Mac[a]rons d’Amiens. In 2014, a local jokingly told Le Parisien that, “We already had the macaroon from Amiens. Now we also have the Macron d’Amiens!”

Such an unusual marriage cannot be without rumour:

Macron’s unconventional marriage has led some to speculate that he’s secretly gay. Back in February, he laughed off rumors that he was having an affair with Radio France CEO Mathieu Gallet … The Telegraph reports.

The NATO meeting and G7 summit last week put Brigitte Trogneux in the world spotlight. One French report said that Trogneux has the world at her feet (see the first 1:51 minutes):

Not everyone commenting on the video agreed (translation mine below):

It’s more like Melania Trump who has the world at her feet!

Trogneux, 64, has teenage legs, to be sure. However, she doesn’t need to show them off so much at every opportunity.

Here’s another video of her attire contrasted with Melania Trump’s:

In closing, below are links with photos of Macron’s family from his inauguration ceremony.

The senior Macrons have been divorced for several years. However, Jean-Michel and Françoise Nogues-Macron were photographed together at the Elysée. Macron’s mother is a retired physician and his father is a professor of neurology at the University Hospital in Amiens. Macron’s brother Laurent, a radiologist in the Paris region, is two years younger than the president and was at the ceremony, although no one in the media knows what he looks like. Their younger sister Estelle, a kidney specialist near Toulouse, did not attend.

One cannot help but wonder whether Macron, too, would have gone into medicine if his secondary school years hadn’t changed him so much.

In any event, I’m still thinking about a husband cuckolded by a 15-year-old and a set of very shocked parents. It’s disgusting.

What follows is the background to Brigitte Trogneux and Emmanuel Macron’s past.

The following tweets say:

‘It’s true that sleeping with students of 15 years of age is completely gross, borderline predatory, but it’s a woman, so it’s okay’. (Sarcasm alert there.)

When journalists put romance in a story of corruption of a minor by a person in authority. Beauty in what is ugly.’

My translation of the article follows:

When she met Emmanuel Macron, then aged 15, Brigitte Trogneux was married to a certain André-Louis Auzière. A portrait of her first husband and the father of her three children.

Brigitte Macron never leaves Emmanuel Macron’s side: an important source of support that the presidential candidate never missed emphasising during his numerous speeches and regular meetings. It has to be said that the couple are very closely knit, despite their significant age difference. The two lovebirds met in 1993 in a context more academic than romantic. At the time, Brigitte Trogneux was a French and drama teacher in the city of Amiens and very much married …

Coming from the comfortable middle class in Amiens, the young Brigitte Trogneux married André-Louis Auzière, two years her senior, although she was only 21 at the time. The ceremony took place in Le Touquet in June 1974. The son of an accountant in the public sector, André-Louis Auzière worked in a bank, the Crédit du Nord, and lived in Paris. He was born in the small town of Éséka, situated in northwestern Cameroon, as his father worked as a civil servant in this former French colony.

Emmanuel Macron born the same year as his step-daughter

The year after their marriage, André-Louis was transferred to Strasbourg. The couple began a new adventure in Alsace, soon followed by the birth of their son Sébastien that same year. Two years later, little Laurence arrived on the scene. She was born in the same year as Emmanuel Macron: 1977. André-Louis and Brigitte returned to live in Amiens, where, in 1984, they welcomed the arrival of their third and last child, Tiphaine. As she reached the age of 40, Brigitte seemed, for all intents and purposes, happy … however.

During a theatre workshop, she met young Emmanuel Macron, then 15 years old. She rapidly fell under his spell, intelligence and ardour. Anne Fulda, author of the book Emmanuel Macron, un jeune homme si parfait (‘Such a perfect young man’), wrote in the biography, ‘She spoke little of André-Louis Auzière. […] Because there were things she did not want to, or could not, say? In any event, he certainly was not making her very happy’.

Romantic encounters in Paris

The teacher and student began seeing each other outside of school … and were soon noticed by the residents of Amiens. On the one hand, those close to Emmanuel Macron opposed this romance taking place while her marriage was foundering more and more. The teacher finally left to work in Paris, where she met up with her young lover who [by then] was studying at Henri IV high school. In 2006, the Grand Tribunal in Amiens granted a divorce to Brigitte and André-Louis Auzière. One year later, she married Emmanuel Macron in Le Touquet for the continuation of an enduring love story.

Ugh!

I have more on this to come, but, to clarify: Macron’s parents pulled him out of La Providence, the Jesuit school in Amiens where Trogneux was teaching, and sent him to Paris to Henri IV, a secondary school in the Latin Quarter that, despite its motto ‘A Home for All’, prepares its students for admission into the most elite institutions of higher education. Little did the Macrons know that Brigitte was fully prepared to follow their son to the capital.

In closing, two geographical notes: Amiens is a cathedral city in the north of France and Le Touquet is a popular upmarket resort not too far away on the coast. It is also known as a place for lovers, so it comes as no surprise that people go there to get married.

For all his words during the presidential campaign lauding diversity, Emmanuel Macron has a remarkably un-diverse cabinet.

I normally wouldn’t say anything, but back in February, Teen Vogueincreasingly political and left-wing — took President Donald Trump apart for his lack of cabinet diversity:

President Donald Trump just shared a photo on Twitter late Thursday night from the @POTUS account that features the president sitting at his Oval Office desk surrounded by 12 others … And because nothing gets by the good people of the Internet, many immediately pointed out how much the photo is lacking in diversity: Everyone in the photo appears to be white, and there is only one woman included.

This was the offending tweet:

On May 8, Bloomberg speculated on who would be in Macron’s cabinet. The article oohs and ahhs over the people coming in from the elite Sciences-Po and ENA (École Nationale d’Administration). Macron attended both, by the way:

The following tweet shows Macron’s staff:

What would Teen Vogue say? Probably nothing. It’s too inconvenient a truth.

After President Donald Trump’s successful visits to Saudi Arabia and Israel, he and First Lady Melania Trump went to Europe.

I covered their visit to Vatican City in the comments on the Israel post.

The next stop was Brussels.

The first item of business on Thursday, May 25, 2017 was to address the leaks that had emerged from US intelligence or law enforcement about confidential aspects of the suicide bombing that had taken place on Monday, May 22.

British Prime Minister Theresa May was furious that the US had leaked sensitive information. From the BBC:

Details about Abedi’s identity had already emerged in the US media less than 24 hours after the explosion and against the UK’s wishes.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said she was “irritated” by the disclosure of Abedi’s identity and had warned Washington “it should not happen again”.

However, the pictures of debris – which appear to show bloodstained fragments from the bomb and the backpack used to conceal it – were subsequently leaked to the New York Times, prompting a furious response from within Whitehall and from UK police chiefs.

BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera says UK officials believe that US law enforcement rather than the White House is the likely culprit for the leaks.

Trump issued an official statement, which reads in part:

I am asking the Department of Justice and other relevant agencies to launch a complete review of this matter, and if appropriate, the culprit should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.   

There is no relationship we cherish more than the Special Relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom.

The Daily Caller provided Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s comments:

I share the president’s deep concern and talked to Home Secretary Rudd yesterday about this matter. These leaks cannot be tolerated and we will make every effort to put an end to it. We have already initiated appropriate steps to address these rampant leaks that undermine our national security.

This was a temporary situation which the two nations quickly resolved:

However, Trump is unlikely to be in a good mood once he returns to the White House. Next week’s news cycle should be interesting.

This graphic describes Trump’s mood in Brussels (courtesy of a contributor to The Conservative Treehouse):

Unbelievably, French President Emmanuel Macron posted this video of Trump strongarming him into a handshake. Seconds earlier, Macron walked straight towards Trump before snubbing him for Angela Merkel:

Despite the smiles and hand gestures, their brief photo op and statements looked chilly:

In another group shot of NATO leaders, the following video makes it look as if the American president forced his way to the forefront:

A Washington Post reporter who lists her American allegiance last, tweeted:

In reality, Prime Minister Dusko Markovic of Montenegro had accidentally stepped on Trump’s foot.

A contributor at The_Donald couldn’t help but react:

Trump visited members of NATO today, and while walking with several members, is seen moving PM Dusko Markovic aside. The corrupt and fake media took this video clip and spun it completely into FAKE NEWS territory by saying:

“DONALD TRUMP SHOVES A MEMBER ASIDE IN ORDER TO REMAIN IN FRONT OF THE GROUP”

… You can CLEARLY see he winced in pain after his foot was apparently stepped on, and he moves the Prime Minister aside to get him off his foot. Even the PM reacts the moment he steps on Trump’s foot, knowing he caused him pain.

Here’s the clip in slow motion:

A ceremony took place for the new NATO headquarters and a memorial which included a metal remnant the 9/11 attack in 2001 and a chunk of the Berlin Wall from 1989. In his address, Trump said:

I want to extend my appreciation to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York for contributing this remnant of the North Tower, as well as to Chancellor Merkel and the German people for donating this portion of the Berlin Wall.  It is truly fitting that these two artifacts now reside here so close together at the new NATO Headquarters.  And I never asked once what the new NATO Headquarters cost.  I refuse to do that.  But it is beautiful.

Each one marks a pivotal event in the history of this Alliance and in the eternal battle between good and evil.  On one side, a testament to the triumph of our ideals over a totalitarian Communist ideology bent on the oppression of millions and millions of people; on the other, a painful reminder of the barbaric evil that still exists in the world and that we must confront and defeat together as a group, as a world.

This twisted mass of metal reminds us not only of what we have lost, but also what forever endures — the courage of our people, the strength of our resolve, and the commitments that bind us together as one.

We will never forget the lives that were lost.  We will never forsake the friends who stood by our side.  And we will never waiver in our determination to defeat terrorism and to achieve lasting security, prosperity and peace.

Thank you very much.  It’s a great honor to be here.  Thank you.

However, it’s what he said before that really matters:

The following graphic from a contributor at The Conservative Treehouse explains Trump’s objections. Out of each nation’s GDP, the percentages reflect how much goes towards defence, NATO and otherwise:

We pay 4% to NATO defense budget.
We will pay 36% for our defense overall.

They pay less than 2% of their GNP for practically their entire defense overall.

NATO ally flags were raised cermonially:

The flypast:

Whereas Trump diplomatically summarised the meeting as being one of united interests:

Emmanuel Macron made it a Europeans-only occasion:

Fortunately, the NATO spouses and partners seemed to get on better. Melania Trump was buddied with Brigitte Trogneux, Macron’s wife and his former high school teacher.

The group went on a tour of the Magritte Museum (Magritte misspelled below):

The Daily Mail, with excellent photos, reported on the visit to the royal palace:

Melania and Brigitte, who met while touring the Magritte Museum in Brussels earlier in the day, posed for pictures alongside the royal [Queen Mathilde] and the other spouses at the royal residence

Mrs Trump also had her own engagements that day:

The next and final stage of the trip is the G7 conference in Taormina, Sicily.

The Trumps left Brussels on Thursday, flying to Italy, then onto Taormina. Watch the Italian guard at 43 seconds in sneak a brief smile to the Trumps:

Trump tweeted:

Taormina is a beautiful ancient city:

This was the schedule and list of participants for Friday, May 26:

The 43rd G7 summit is taking place in Taormina, Sicily, between May 26-27. Attendees will include the leaders of the Group of Seven member states, as well as representatives of the European Union.

The summit is set to be the first for British Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, and US President Donald Trump.

Other participants include German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe. The EU will be represented by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk.

COVERAGE SCHEDULE:
06:00-08:00 GMT – Arrivals from Sigonella airbase.
08:00-09:00 GMT – Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk press conference.
09:30-10:30 GMT – Welcome cerimony and family photos at Greek Theatre.
10:00-10:30 GMT – Moving to Hotel San Domenico.
10:45-11:30 GMT – Arrivals at Hotel San Domenico. Tour de Table.
17:00-18:00 GMT – Concert for the opening of the G7 Summit at Greek Theatre.
18:15-18:45 GMT – Welcome ceremony and family photo at Hotel Timeo. Official dinner hosted by Italian President Sergio Mattarella.

A concert by La Scala Philharmonic Orchestra and dinner with President Mattarella followed.

Foreign Policy reported that Trump has an important American objective at the G7:

President Donald Trump’s controversial senior advisor and speechwriter, Stephen Miller, has led White House efforts to undercut an initiative by Italy to place the migration crisis at the center of this week’s Group of Seven major summit meeting starting Friday in Sicily.

For Italy, the summit in Taormina, Sicily, was to provide a poignant opportunity to raise awareness of the plight of hundred of thousands of refugees who cross the Mediterranean Sea to Italy’s shores each year, and to reach agreement on a plan to find them permanent homes.

But the Donald Trump White House has largely blocked its Italian host from putting forward an initiative addressing the need to resettle millions of refugees and migrants who have poured into Europe on rickety boats or crossed borders on foot over the past decade. Instead, the United States has pressed the leaders to cap the session with a stern declaration on the need to fight terrorism, a cause that gained added urgency following a grisly suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

The rearguard action was led by the 31-year-old Miller, who has exercised outside influence over the summit’s response to the worst refugee crisis since World War II.  In line with President Trump’s pledge to build a wall to keep Mexicans out of the United States, the White House has been pressing the G-7 leaders to focus more attention on the need to prevent illegal immigrants from crossing borders than on finding migrants who make the journey a permanent home.

Trump also intends to push back on other G7 preoccupations:

including climate change, trade, and migration that until recently aligned closely with President Obama’s foreign-policy vision.

This G7 summit should prove to be a delicate one to be navigated diplomatically. The summit concludes on Saturday, May 27.

Emmanuel Macron officially became France’s president on Sunday, May 14, 2017.

The Daily Mail has a good write up, with plenty of repetitive photos of Macron’s £380 suit from Jonas and Cie and his 64-year-old wife Brigitte Trogneux’s teenage legs. Trogneux wore a powder blue Louis Vuitton suit, price unknown.

On the night he won the first round, Trogneux wore skin tight black leather trousers and a cropped jacket. Seen from the back, she could have been mistaken for a much younger woman.

But I digress.

The Mail has a photo of Macron’s parents, likely the only contemporary one we will ever see.

Sunday began with a huge red carpet rolled out at the Elysée Palace. After the ceremony inside, Hollande stood on the Elysée steps for the final time to rapturous applause. Macron escorted Hollande to a waiting car.

From there, the new president then went up the Champs Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe to lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier. A military ceremony took place.

After lunch at the Elysée Palace, Macron made a traditional presidential trip to the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall), which looked like this earlier in the day. Presumably, more people attended:

Then again, judging from the next tweet, I’m not so sure.

The caption translates as ‘The sadness of a president elected by default. No one there to acclaim him, nowhere. This pretence of a celebration!’:

It’s important to note the following:

Mr Macron, the former unelected Economy Minister, left Mr Hollande’s government to form his own electoral movement, En Marche! [On the Move], in April 2016.

Despite this, Hollande said he wanted today’s handover of power to be ‘simple, clear and friendly’…

The 64-year-old [Hollande] launched Macron’s political career, plucking him from the world of investment banking to be an advisor and then his economy minister.

‘I am not handing over power to a political opponent, it’s far simpler,’ Hollande said on Thursday.

Absolutely.

The plan from the beginning was for Macron to win. Macron is Hollande’s heir apparent.

Macron had to run under another label, hence he created his own movement.

This is because the weakness of Hollande’s presidency had tarnished the Parti Socialiste (PS) so much that everyone knew they would have a tough time winning.

That said, Manuel Valls, a law and order candidate, would have been a very strong favourite. However, through party machine sabotage, Valls came second in the PS primaries to the lacklustre former education minister Benoît Hamon. There was no way that Hamon could have beaten the conservative François Fillon, who was top in the polls in January 2017.

In order for Macron to win — the plan all along — Fillon, Nicolas Sarkozy’s prime minister, had to be brought down. This began happening on January 25, through a series of alleged financial scandals which dogged him until April, effectively stopping his campaign.

With Fillon out of the way, Macron had a clear path to victory. The French do not want Marine Le Pen in the Elysée.

The beauty of Macron’s En Marche! is that, even if he makes a total hash of his five years in office, the PS will have regrouped by then and En Marche! can be quietly put to sleep, with its leader likely moving on to bigger and better things in the private sector.

The following tweet sums up the situation as Hollande left office:

All the above points explain the highly negative tweets surrounding Macron:

To clarify: if a French traveller’s stay is under 90 days, there is no visa requirement.

French presidents traditionally make their first trip to Germany, a pattern that Macron duly followed.

This will not end well.

I will have two posts on Macron’s private life coming up soon.

On Friday, May 12, 2017, I posted a timeline of French media articles about the new French president Emmanuel Macron, most of which concerned his finances.

Anti-Macron French people wonder if the lack of transparency about his personal finances could, if investigated, turn out to be as significant as the Cahuzac affair which saw a former minister of François Hollande’s jailed for three years last December. Dr Cahuzac, originally a surgeon, is also prohibited from holding office for five years.

In February, someone pointed out that Macron, economics minister for François Hollande’s administration, got his start in politics from Cahuzac:

My post also mentioned an article from the Médiapart readers’ site, Club Médiapart, which proved explosive, creating a firestorm of media reaction. Essentially, it asked if Emmanuel Macron is a new Cahuzac.

Médiapart‘s editor Edwy Plénel had to tell the media that the views expressed on Club Médiapart have nothing whatsoever to do with Médiapart‘s editorial line. That said, despite numerous requests to take the article of April 14 down, Plénel refused, saying it did not violate any of their terms and conditions.

The Club Médiapart article did not have much on Cahuzac himself. Most of it focussed on Macron, 39, being an establishment creation, and — although the author did not use the following words, I will — a Manchurian Candidate.

Excerpts and a summary follow, translation and emphases mine.

First, how can one explain the meteoric rise of the youngest president in France’s history?

… the facts are stubborn. Macron’s journey does not go unnoticed without raising some questions: by what means can an individual, unknown until a few months ago, find himself in such a position? To be sure, talent and self-discipline can explain the stunning rapidity of such a trajectory, but, on the other hand, political life is far from linear, and to play a certain role in it, as in the theatre, one must have great directors.

We are convinced that Emmanuel Macron, contrary to appearances and his repetitive chant on reforming the practices of the political world, is not exempt from the old constraints which govern this particular world.

Then there is a certain irony of the public seeing early photos of Macron as a boy acting in a school play, which provides a reference point for his future as an adult. Even better, his drama teacher — now his wife — Brigitte Trogneux had directed the production. What did that portend for Macron’s future?

There is the stage where Emmanuel Macron performs and plays a tailor-made role, and then there is the backstage, where we find characters as diverse as Brigitte Trogneux, Henry Hermand ([recently deceased] multimillionaire, great financier of the Second [modern] Left, and mentor of Macron), François Henrot (Director of the Rothschild bank), David Rothschild (head of the business bank), Jean-Pierre Jouyet (secretary general of the Elysée) and, of course, Francois Hollande.

And there are more establishment figures in Macron’s universe:

So many complex characters, who have alternately played a considerable part in the rise of Macron to the highest levels of the republic. So many characters to whom Macron is devoted, and necessarily indebted. To these key players, we must add the media and financial ecosystem that has anointed him. Alain Minc, Jacques Attali, Pierre Bergé and Patrick Drahi, all these actors have played a more or less direct role in his political journey.

In other words, Macron is anything but an anti-establishment candidate. He is a globalist of the first water.

Don’t be deceived by the media craze. In fact, a radio programme that went against the grain was not allowed to be rebroadcast:

At the beginning of April, a show on LCI, Médiasphère, revealed candidate Macron’s artificiality. Depicted as a puppet serving extraordinary interests, Macron was laid bare during the show. The media effect of this broadcast of a few tens of minutes was such that LCI was forced to cancel the repeat of Médiasphère.

My post of Friday, May 5 explained how two strong candidates — the conservative Francois Fillon and the socialist Manuel Valls — had to be cleared out of the way for Macron to win. The Club Médiapart author says Macron is far from a genius:

Macron is a theatre actor, endowed with a questionable talent, as shown by his poor performance in the various presidential debates. Behind the scenes, a crowd of individuals, more or less commendable, write his role for him, draw up his replies, choreograph him and create the backdrop.

The author concludes that Macron we see is not the true Macron. Who is Emmanuel Macron really?

Yesterday, I profiled The Rebel Media’s Jack Posobiec, whom Emmanuel Macron is targetting for summarising news on his financial affairs based on a data dump from 4chan.

In that post, I mentioned a much more incriminating Twitter hash tag than the one Posobiec was posting on.

#EmmanuelCahuzac was used by the French to discuss financial documents that came out in French media earlier this year — at a time when North Americans were largely unaware of them.

My post on Posobiec explains why #EmmanuelCahuzac is so called. (There is also #MacronCahuzac.) Again, no one is implying that Macron was involved in the Cahuzac affair. People commenting are concerned that Macron’s financial situation, if investigated, could be of the same magnitude. No one wants to see another Cahuzac affair, which took three years to investigate.

That said, as far back as February 25 — before these hashtags were created — a Twitter user asked people not to forget that Macron got his start in politics thanks to Dr Cahuzac, a surgeon, later parliamentarian, who served as junior minister to the budget in François Hollande’s administration. He is now serving three years in prison, as of December 2016:

Earlier that month, on February 3, Le Figaro reported that Macron was quick off the mark in winning the support of the former anti-corruption judge Eric Halphen in Lyon. It could stand him in good stead.

On February 18, a Journal du Dimanche (JDD, ‘Sunday Journal’) article asked probing questions about Macron’s finances and wondered why Big Media were giving him a pass.

On March 2, Le Monde reported that the Belgian newspaper Le Soir stated that Macron:

was financed ‘more than 30%’ by ‘the kingdom of Saudi Arabia’.

However, Le Monde stated, there was a problem. The allegation came from lesoir.info, not lesoir.be. Lesoir.be is the real link to the genuine Le Soir. Therefore, the Saudi story was fake news.

The rest of this post documents highlights in the #EmmanuelCahuzac timeline from the beginning — March 14 — through May 5, before the 44-hour media blackout.

This is to demonstrate that American alternative media journalists have very little to do with Macron. They came in at the end. A lot of information had already been circulating in France and Belgium before then. That also means Hillary Clinton should stop braying about Russian hacking.

Important articles are also included, indicated by green arrows.

Translation and emphases mine throughout, unless otherwise indicated.

Mar 14: This is the first #EmmanuelCahuzac tweet asking what happened to Macron’s millions:

=> => The Challenges article, also from March 14, says that the French anti-corruption organisation, Anticor, had contacted the Haute Autorité pour la Transparence de la Vie Publique (HATVP) — High Authority for Transparency in Public Life — regarding Macron’s financial situation. Anticor stated that there appears to be a ‘lack of coherence between revenue and declared holdings’. Le Parisien broke the story on March 13.

=> => On March 16, Macron signed a nine-page financial disclosure form for the HATVP.

=> => On March 22, Les Crises said that the March 16 HATVP disclosure of Macron’s finances answered some of their questions, particularly regarding his recent book sales. That said, Les Crises pointed out that several of their questions concerning Macron’s financial situation remained unanswered.

=> => On March 24, Médiapart published an article, ‘Luxembourg, the preferred tax haven for those close to Macron’. They do not mention family, only close associates.

=> => On April 3, Entreprise.news asked what exactly happened to Macron’s earnings from Rothschild during his employment there:

More than three million euros in salary and bonuses over three and a half years.

The author states:

it is often the practice in large international investment banks to pay these bonuses in Luxembourg investment fund shares, for example: nothing is illegal, but it may be wise to turn them into pseudo work on the family homePeople like Macron in France are constantly sailing close to the wind, very close to insider behavior, and would certainly be worried if we were in the Anglo-Saxon world or if the influence of large institutions were not so dominant in our country.

As for François Fillon, the conservative candidate and former prime minister who was dogged by alleged financial scandals from the beginning of the year because Macron never could have beaten him otherwise, the article says:

By the way, François Fillon: you are a small player with your mini-scandal. The technocratic government has known for a long time how to reconcile the moral postures of champagne socialists with an inextinguishable thirst for easy money without the citizens realizing it.

=> => On April 10, an article in Contrepoints states that, based on the aforementioned Enterprise.news article, the conservative think tank IREF has contacted the public prosecutor’s department regarding a declaration of Macron’s assets, one which raises many questions. Contrepoints shows the IREF’s request in full, then explains:

The analysis here is essentially technical and shows that, if Emmanuel Macron really invested €500,000 in work on his wife’s house, he could not account for the transactions he presented in his declaration of assets …

Does this mean that Emmanuel Macron has deliberately sought to defraud? Probably not in the sense that some understand it, that is, with the premeditation worthy of a great, money-grubbing mafioso. On the other hand, it is more plausible that Emmanuel Macron found a convenient way to escape tax by exploiting a loophole, the risk of which he did not properly assess at the time.

For the big institutions, however, the zeal shown against Les Républicains [Fillon] and the Front National, as well as the passivity towards a presidential candidate who appears in many respects as a man of the the establishment becomes a real problem, the importance of which cannot be underestimated, especially if Macron were to qualify for the second round.

=> => On April 14, the aforementioned think tank IREF elaborated on their reasons why they wanted Macron’s finances investigated. Their article poses 15 questions which, they state, have not yet been answered. They conclude (emphasis in the original):

These elements [of the story] cannot be dismissed out of hand. Mr Macron must explain himself without delay or the judicial authorities will get involved. Transparency in public life must be applied with equal rigour to everyone.

=> => Also on April 14, a Médiapart reader posted an article on the readers’ site, Club Médiapart, which proved explosive, creating a firestorm of media reaction. Essentially, it asked if Emmanuel Macron was a new Cahuzac. (I will address it in a future post.) Médiapart‘s editor Edwy Plénel had to tell the media that the views expressed on Club Médiapart have nothing whatsoever to do with Médiapart‘s editorial line. That said, despite numerous requests to take the article down, Plénel refused, saying it did not violate any of their terms and conditions. Note the aforementioned real-deal Médiapart article from March 24.

April 16: the constant accusations against François Fillon and his family actually began attracting undecided voters before the first round of voting on Sunday, April 23. RMC (talk radio) received calls and heard from their guests that he and his family were being dragged through the mud. None of it seemed right, especially when no one was looking at Macron’s finances. A Twitter user complained about coverage on RMC’s sister channel, BFMTV:

On April 17, the JDD (also see their aforementioned article from February 18) reported on Macron’s interview with Jean-Jacques Bourdin on BFMTV, wherein the candidate — now president — called speculation on his finances fausses nouvelles —  ‘fake news’. Already talk was circulating about an offshore account. The JDD reported:

“People said, ‘There has been some trickery,'” said the former business banker, who wanted to cut short the rumours about a possible “hidden account” in a tax haven: Totally false. “

He also told Bourdin something incredible:

In six years, I earned €3mAt the end, I had €270,000 in savings.

=> => Following the BFMTV interview on April 17, Marianne posted an article that afternoon warning that Macron should be more forthcoming in his answers:

In any event, his declarations du jour will have to be addressed at some point, because the candidate of En Marche does not keep any documents in the public domain or available to journalists, which would make it possible to confirm his statements.

April 17: A Belgian researcher put together a brief slideshow showing how many fake Twitter accounts had been created using @Médiapart, after the aforementioned Club Médiapart editorial of April 14 — which, again, has nothing to do with the magazine’s editors or editorial line. The Belgian thinks the new Twitter accounts are bogus. It could be that those were Club Médiapart members who wanted to contribute to #EmmanuelCahuzac. This researcher, by the way, was the one who implicated Jack Posobiec in another anti-Macron hashtag. The only problem with that argument is that Posobiec created his Twitter account in 2012:

=> => Also on April 17, the Huffington Post (French edition) tied all these strands together and said that Macron was behind the curve if he thought that his aforementioned BFMTV interview would clear the air. The online chatter had already started with #EmmanuelCahuzac, the Club Medipart editorial and Nicolas Vanderbiest’s findings on supposed fake Twitter accounts.

April 17: Someone says that Macron’s stepchildren (he has no children of his own) have Swiss bank accounts (fric is slang for ‘money’) and that there is something not right about the house renovation:

April 21: L’Express deleted an article published on this date:

May 3: At this point, the English-language articles began circulating, the first being from ZeroHedge, which discussed the Disobedient Media investigation into an alleged Limited Liability Company (LLC) in Nevis called La Providence, after the Jesuit school Macron attended in Amiens.

May 4: Le Monde reported that, during the presidential debate the previous evening, Marine Le Pen told Macron:

Be careful in what you say, Mr Macron. I hope we won’t learn anything in the coming days … I hope we won’t find out you have a hidden account in the Bahamas.

I recall reading an American tweet at the weekend: ‘It’s not in the Bahamas. It’s in the Caymans.’

May 5: A French Twitter user found the Got News article that Posobiec referenced in his video of May 5. She asks whether BFMTV was economical with the truth regarding documents linked to a possible offshore account of Macron’s:

May 5: Police seized a Frenchman’s banderole, which had writing equating Macron with Cahuzac, and held him for questioning for two hours.

May 5: Lara.Poutou saw Jack Posobiec’s tweet on 4chan data dump. La toile means ‘the web’:

That was nearly the final tweet on #emmanuelcahuzac.

In conclusion, the French had far more to do with questioning Emmanuel Macron’s finances than the American alternative media did.

The only thing that might have really riled Macron up was their pursuit of an alleged offshore account.

WikiLeaks is investigating the authenticity of the 4chan /pol/ data dump.

There’s more good news for alternative media.

On April 3, 2017 Rebel Media hired former political operative Jack Posobiec as their Washington Bureau Chief.

In 2016, Posobiec (pron. ‘Posobik’), his Twitter feed and YouTube videos were popular with Trump supporters, especially Millennials.

Posobiec describes his career as follows:

Last year, I served as the Special Projects Director for Citizens for Trump, the largest Trump grassroots organization in the US.

Originally from the Philadelphia area, I’ve worked for four presidential campaigns, as well as numerous candidates for Senate, Congress, and Governor.

I’m also a US Navy veteran with multiple deployments overseas. 

Posobiec’s Rebel Media work can be found here.

He’s a good reporter. He speaks clearly, concisely and logically.

The video below from Monday, April 3, 2017 was his one of his first reports for Rebel Media. He explains the surveillance scandal involving President Donald Trump and others during the 2016 campaign season. He includes video clips from a variety of Big Media sources and lays out the timeline well:

The Rebel Media was founded in Canada in 2015 by a former Sun News Network host, Ezra Levant. Rebel’s hosts and commentators are controversial but highly popular among Millennials. Canadian Gavin McInnes is the best known in the United States.

The Rebel Media — also known as The Rebel — is an organisation that one either loves or loathes. That said, their programmes will make one think.

Contrary to the way it has been portrayed by Big Media in Western countries, The Rebel is not ‘far-right’ but libertarian-to-conservative alternative media.

Jack Posobiec and Rebel Media unintentionally broke out of their US-Canada market during the weekend of the French election. Now they’ve gone international.

In short, contributors to the /pol/ forum board on 4chan obtained a huge volume of data that supposedly relates to France’s new president, Emmanuel Macron. Macron threatened to sue anyone who discussed these data online during the 44-hour media blackout of the election prior to Sunday, May 7 — the second, and final, round of voting.

Disobedient Media, by investigative citizen journalist William Craddick, reported on the data dump between Wednesday, May 3 and Friday, May 5: here, here, here and here.

Posobiec posted the video below at The Rebel on Friday, May 5, referencing Craddick’s work. Posobiec said that he himself had just been labelled by a Belgian researcher as a Russian agent. Posobiec is a Polish name. This person alleges that Posobiec’s Twitter account appeared in a list of what were brand new Twitter accounts, thought to be bots. The researcher was already hard at work establishing notional bots on April 15. (N.B.: Posobiec opened his Twitter account in 2012.)

Posobiec went on to say that he spoke with 4chan members who said that they found the Macron documents on ‘the deep web’ — the dark net. Posobiec also cited a May 4 article on Got News by an independent auditor for the Big Three accounting firms who examined the data dump. ‘Jessica Gomez’ (not her real name) claimed that the documents are not fake and that the French people should be able to examine them prior to Sunday, May 7:

That weekend, someone on social media suggested that there should be a place on Twitter to discuss the data dump. Posobiec was the first to post at  #MacronLeaks.

Macron has since taken legal action against him and/or Rebel Media.

On Monday, May 8, Posobiec gave Alex Jones an interview in which he said that Rebel Media had their lawyers on the case. He was confident and composed.

My post tomorrow will address a) the speculation about Macron’s finances and b) much worse hashtags — #MacronCahuzac and #EmmanuelCahuzac — both of which started in France months ago. I will look at the latter hashtag  tomorrow.

The Cahuzac affair was the worst financial scandal to take place in France in recent years. It involved tax fraud and money laundering. In the end, Dr Jérôme Cahuzac — a surgeon who became a  parliamentarian then Junior Minister for the Budget in François Hollande’s administration — was sentenced to three years in prison on December 8, 2016. He is also ineligible to serve in public office for five years.

The name Cahuzac has been toxic since his scandal first came to light in 2013. 

Therefore, it’s interesting that Macron would take legal action against an American alternative media reporter when so much information — including the Cahuzac tag — was already circulating in investigative French media outlets.

To be clear: linking Cahuzac’s name with Macron is not saying Macron was involved, but rather the possibility that whatever might be uncovered about Macron’s finances could be as huge as the Cahuzac affair.

I wish Jack Posobiec — and his fiancée Tanya Tay — all the best, especially in the Macron dust-up, and hope that he continues to hold the centre ground in his coverage.

UPDATE: Thank you, Jack, for the tweet. Much appreciated!

.

Various tweets and videos circulated following the French presidential elections on Sunday, May 7, 2017 saying that the result was hacked. Not true.

France’s example is a good one for other countries to follow. So is the British voting procedure.

This is because both involve paper. In France, one puts a slip of paper with the candidate’s name on it into an envelope. In the UK, we mark an X next to a candidate’s name. What could be simpler?

Traditional voting

There are very few voting machines in France. Most of the French vote the old fashioned way.

Furthermore, they are prohibited from sending in an absentee ballot.

The French must vote in person, even when they live overseas (e.g. Canada). If they are unable to show up at the polling station, they can appoint someone to vote for them, provided that person lives in the same commune or, when abroad, vicinity (e.g. Montreal). That said, arranging proxy voting requires appearing before a designated government official beforehand.

A few days before the election is held, voters receive an envelope by post which has flyers from the various candidates along with a slip of paper with the candidate’s name printed on it.

Last weekend, a video showed someone opening their envelope with information about Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. However, although there were two voting slips, both were for Macron:

A photo showed damaged Le Pen slips damaged in the town of Allier. These could not be used for voting. Allier, incidentally, voted overwhelmingly for Macron:

Although those tweets elicited reaction, a number of French voters responded by saying that the polling station has stacks of slips of paper — bulletins — for each candidate.

Even if someone comes in and steals a stack of bulletins for a particular candidate, polling station officials can ring up and get more within a short space of time. This happened in Ruffey-les-Echirey in Burgundy. France3 reported (I’ve edited the Google translation slightly):

The two stacks of ballot papers, one for Emmanuel Macron and the other for Marine Le Pen, were no longer equal, as required by the electoral code: the electors of the commune were only offered 140 Le Pen ballots instead of 973 – the number of registrants in Ruffey …

Several hundred “Marine Le Pen” bulletins were deliberately stolen during the night, thus compromising the fairness of the two candidates in the polling station. But it took more than that to disturb the elected Ruffey: the mayor, Nadine Mutin, and her 1st deputy contacted the prefecture of Côte-d’Or to resolve the discrepancy. The prefecture provided them with official bulletins thirty minutes later. With enough Le Pen ballots, the polling station was able to open at 8 a.m., and voting unfolded smoothly.

Media blackout

Campaigns end the Friday before the election. No election news is allowed from midnight on the Saturday preceding the election.

How voting works

One must be a registered voter in order to cast a ballot. The minimum voting age is 18.

On election day, French voters go to their appointed polling station.

Before voting, an official checks their voter registration and identity cards. Showing a voter registration card is supposed to be mandatory in communes with more than 5,000 people. However, Marianne reported that if voters lost or misplaced it, showing an ID card would be sufficient, even in larger communes.

https://i1.wp.com/ekladata.com/oKF7QilzlYouNO1Fsw1f1n-siXk.jpgVoters then go to a table with stacks of pre-printed bulletins and envelopes. There is one stack for each candidate. I have read that voters must take one slip for each candidate, but I have also read anecdotally that some take only two. Obviously, the more one takes, the less chance that anyone will know one’s voting intention.

Voters also take an envelope before proceeding to private voting booths.

Once in the privacy of the voting booth, voters put the piece of paper with their candidate’s name on it into the envelope. They then close the envelope. They throw unused slips of paper into the bin provided.

They proceed to the table with a clear perspex box which contains the ballots. One official mans the box and two others are on hand to check voter registration and ID cards once more. Once the identity check has been made, voters give their closed envelope to the official in charge of the box. The official opens the little slot on top of the box. The voter places the envelope in the box, then the official closes it.

The official running the box then announces, ‘A voté‘, meaning ‘(has) voted’. Sometimes in smaller places, the official also announces the voter’s full name: ‘Jeanne Duclos a voté‘. I’ve personally seen this done.

The voter signs the voter’s list and an official stamps his voter registration card in the appropriate box.

This ensures that no one can vote twice.

Voting blanc or nul

Protest voting is popular in France.

One can vote blanc — blank — or nul — no vote.

Since 2014, the government has allowed for a tabulation of both types of vote, although neither is included in the entire percentage of votes. In other words, even if the majority of voters cast such a ballot, it would still make no difference to the candidates’ percentages. Someone would emerge as the winner.

Marianne explains that there are only two ways to vote blanc: either put an empty envelope into the box or put a blank piece of paper into the envelope.

Similarly, there are only two ways to vote nul: write anyone else’s name on a piece of paper or put a torn candidate slip into the envelope.

Counting the votes

Polls close at 6 p.m. in smaller communes and at 8 p.m. in towns and cities. Local laws determine closing hours. On Sunday, polls closed at 7 across the country.

Tabulating the votes is remarkably efficient, even though not all votes are counted by the time the media announce the result.

I’ve watched live election coverage a few times over the past decade. By the time I tune in — 11:00 in the UK — the winning candidate has already given his victory speech and is off to celebrate.

The French know the result before midnight. There is no need to pull an all-nighter as there is in the UK and, sometimes, the US.

Fraud nearly impossible

The French voting system, although it is old-fashioned, is remarkably practical, simple and effective.

It mitigates against fraud and there is almost no chance of hacking, even in the few places with machines. Those in one middle class Parisian suburb did not even show the candidates’ names, although Marianne reported that all were fixed on Sunday morning after the polling stations opened:

Marianne stated that, beginning in the first round of voting in 2007, voting machines were allowed in communes with more than 3,500 inhabitants. However, they have been notoriously problematic ever since. After the first round in 2007, the minister of the interior declared a moratorium on new installations, although those communes with machines already installed were allowed to keep them.

Conclusion

It would be nice if the US could adopt the French paper model. However, the US system combines legislative and local elections with the presidential, making this impractical. The US also votes for a wider set of local representatives than France or the UK.

In Europe, we spread our elections out. For example, the UK had local elections on Thursday, May 4. We will be voting again on June 8 for our MPs in a snap election which we hope will return Theresa May to No. 10 so she has an official mandate — and a greater majority of Conservative MPs — to properly implement Brexit.

The French will return to the polls in another two-round election process for their legislators on June 11 and June 18.

Further reading:

Elections in France (Wikipedia)

French Election Vocabulary Practice (French Today)

French legislative election, 2017 (Wikipedia)

Congratulations to everyone in the United States who got involved online in discussing and analysing France’s presidential election, the second round of which was held on Sunday, May 7, 2017.

It was refreshing to see Americans engage so well with this historic election an ocean away.

As predicted, Emmanuel Macron is the new resident of the Elysée Palace in Paris. He won with 66% — two-thirds — of the vote. Turnout was around 74% — high, compared with other Western countries — but was the lowest for France since 1969.

Now he and his En Marche! — formerly a movement, now a political party — must work with the Socialists (PS) and others on the left for les législatives (parliamentary) elections on June 18.

It’s interesting that the supposedly independent, free-thinking Marianne newsweekly put Macron on its cover for the second week in a row. Earlier this year, they criticised other news magazines for multiple Macron covers. Sadly, they have fallen in step with the other sheeplike outlets:

Marine Le Pen

Marine Le Pen (FN, Front National) was upbeat in her concession speech. For the next few weeks, the FN are now the party of opposition.

That said, I expect Les Républicains (LR, conservatives) to regain that position on June 18.

Unlike Hillary Clinton, who hid herself away crying when she lost, Le Pen got on the dance floor with her campaign workers:

Discussions on RMC (French talk radio) this morning centred around her renaming her father’s party to Les Patriotes. No one really thought a new name would give the FN better traction among the French electorate.

Emmanuel Macron

On Sunday evening, Macron supporters waited at the Louvre for him to speak in front of the museum’s glass pyramid:

Hillary Clinton concurred:

She referred to the 48-hour media blackout prior to a French election. This is so that voters are not unduly swayed one way or the other. We have the same thing in the UK.

I watched BFMTV’s coverage and tuned in as the presidential entourage was making its way along part of the Tour de France route to a secret location where he, his family and main supporters had drinks and dinner. Everyone entered by the back in a narrow side street, heavy with security. No one was allowed in the road unless they were going to his victory dinner.

How France voted

Matthieu Gallard of the French division of the polling company IPSOS, has a lot of excellent statistics of which parts of the French population voted for Macron and Le Pen:

Voter profiles

If you click on his tweet, you can see that Gallard also has IPSOS charts which show that Macron did better across the board with executives (cadres), professionals (prof. intermédiaires) and the retired (retraités). The only group where Le Pen dominated was the working class (ouvriers).

Even education levels did not make a difference overall. Macron won every demographic there, from those who had not completed high school to those with post-graduate degrees.

Tactical voting

Forty-three per cent voted Macron only to stop Le Pen (the historical toxicity of the FN).

However, that is not necessarily positive. This will become clearer in June, because IPSOS also has another chart (see Gallard’s other tweets) showing that 61% of the French do not want Macron’s En Marche! to have a majority in parliament (l’Assemblée Nationale).

Regions

The New York Times has a good map of regions where Le Pen dominated:

Someone from an English-speaking country surmises that this has to do with ancient linguistics:

No. It has to do with immigration patterns. The North and Bordeaux (west) have had enough. The voters along the southern coast have the same issue.

Paris also has a big problem, but, like all other Western capitals and major cities, votes for the Left — regardless.

You can see more charts and statistics here.

Francophone reaction to foreign opinion

French-speaking media people were most unhappy with alt-media journalist Mike Cernovich‘s reaction to the outcome.

Cernovich tweeted that America should accept Le Pen voters as political refugees.

Oddly, the responses I’ve seen came from countries other than France.

A Belgian journalist who works at the European Parliament picked up on it, calling Cernovich a ‘little protege’ of President Trump. Frankly, I’m not sure they’ve even met each other:

A Genevan journalist from Le Temps dismissed Cernovich as a ‘conspiracy writer’:

Visit to Germany

Macron’s first trip will be to Germany to visit Angela Merkel.

I have seen several journalists jump on this as being Macron-specific.

However, a trip to Germany is normal for incoming French presidents. François Hollande also went to see Merkel within 48 hours of his election in 2012.

Conclusion

Ultimately, only the parliamentary elections in June can end the debate that is currently going on in France. The first statistic, incidentally, was the result of the Brexit referendum in 2016:

Coming soon: why the election result was not rigged

Tomorrow: Alternative media and Macron’s financial situation

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