MUSLIM MAN ATTACKS TEXAN SYNAGOGUE

texas-synagogue-attack:-nj-leaders-call-it
Malik Faisal Akram, 44, a British citizen, took hostages at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleville, Texas,  on Saturday, according to the FBI and media reports. He appears to have acted alone, according to the bureau.  
Akram was killed and none of the four hostages were seriously injured, according to USA Today.

You won’t read the words written above anywhere else!

Everybody else is writing “British man” attacks Texan synagogue.   But this is grossly misleading.  Until fairly recently, there were few Muslims in the United Kingdom.   The change came with liberal immigration reforms, which allowed in millions of Muslims, mostly from South Asia.  Some of these Muslims have become a serious security headache for the UK and for America.   British passport holders can enter the US without a visa.    Somewhere along the line the perpetrator of this heinous act, Malik Faisal Akram, was described as having “mental problems,” which is another way of deflecting attention from his Islamic faith.   As the next article shows, the West is in total denial on this issue.  Just remember – not all Muslims are terrorists but most terrorists are Muslims!

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The West’s Denial of Terrorists’ Islamic Motivation

Everyone would agree that people’s actions are led by their beliefs. But in the case of Islamically-motivated terrorism, the West reflexively pretends that the terrorists aren’t motivated by their beliefs.

Perhaps the most prominent example of this denial is former U.S. President Barack Obama’s refusal to use the term “Islamic terrorism,” opting instead to refer to it as “violent extremism” to create the impression that the attacks are not religiously motivated, but rather a thoughtless phenomenon. President Obama said:  “There’s no religious rationale that would justify in any way any of the things that they do.”

Here are three additional examples, though there are many other cases.

Less than three weeks after the 2009 Fort Hood shooting, in which U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan shouted “Allahu Akbar!” as he shot and killed 13 fellow U.S. service members, European and U.S. editions of Time Magazine featured a cover photo of Hasan with the title “Terrorist?” over his eyes. The U.S. Department of Defense’s 2010 report “Protecting the Force:  Lessons from Fort Hood” would later classify the attack as “workplace violence,” and makes no mention of Hasan’s religious beliefs.  In 2013, a U.S. Army judge would even limit prosecutors from introducing evidence that would establish Hasan’s motives as “jihadi.”

After the 2015 San Bernardino, California attack, in which married couple Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik killed 14 people and wounded 24 at a Christmas party held for county officials, investigators hesitated to refer to the attack as an act of terrorism even after it was known that the attackers had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State on social media on the day of the shooting.

San Bernardino shooter Tashfeen Malik (Source: From The MEMRI Archives: Reports On Pakistani School, Radical Mosque That Played A Role In CA Jihadi Tashfeen Malik’s Radicalization, MEMRI.org, December 6, 2015)

Yet another example is the May 22, 2017 attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, in which a Muslim suicide bomber named Salman Abedi killed 22 people and wounded over 1,000. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack almost immediately, but in her statement the following day, British Prime Minister Theresa May referred to the attack only as an act of “sickening cowardice.” Some media outlets even reduced the Manchester attack to a misogynistic attack on women and did not mention the bomber’s religious motives at all. U.S. President Donald Trump, who had bucked political correctness by using the term “radical Islamic terrorism” during his campaign, referred to the people behind the Manchester attack as “evil losers.”  (MEMRI, 1/22/2022)

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EUROPE

CHINESE GOVERNMENT BUYING UP EUROPE

A staggering 40% out of 650 Chinese investments in Europe in the years 2010-2020, according to Datenna [a Dutch company that monitors Chinese investments in Europe], had “high or moderate involvement by state-owned or state-controlled companies.”

When the Chairman of the UK parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Tugendhat, wrote that Chinese ownership of the British microchip plant, Newport Wafer Fab, “represents a significant economic and national security concern,” UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng responded that the deal had been “considered thoroughly.” Only after considerable pressure did British Prime Minister Boris Johnson agree to a national security review of the sale.

The European Court of Auditors, an EU institution that oversees EU finances, has found that gaining an overview of Chinese investments in the EU is difficult because of the lack of comprehensive data; it seems no one is recording it.  (“China: buying up Europe,” Judith Bergman, Gatestone, 1/14/2022)

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GERMANY WANTS GREATER ROLE IN EASTERN EUROPE

Without the participation of Germany and the EU, the USA and Russia open talks in Geneva on NATO activities in Eastern Europe and arms control measures. Moscow is insisting that NATO halt its eastward expansion and the military activities near Russia’s borders. Washington rejects this, but is prepared, for example, to scale back maneuvers in Eastern Europe. Berlin and Brussels are not involved. The “Normandy Format,” under which Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine have been unsuccessfully negotiating for seven years, has been currently put on ice. Western European powers are only included in the negotiation process within the NATO framework. The German government is engaging in frantic activities to exert more influence on the talks – so far also to no avail. According to experts, the United States could hardly win a war against both China and Russia.  This is why Washington is interested in a certain degree of a relaxation of tensions on the European front.  (German Foreign Policy, 1/10/2022)

Germany Nervously Tests the Indo-Pacific Waters A quiet frigate deployment is a sign of muddled policy toward Beijing, by Blake Herzinger, a civilian Indo-Pacific defense policy specialist and U.S. Navy Reserve officer. (Foreign Policy, 3 January 2022)

A single German frigate is making the rounds of Asia. With the ship now halfway through its mission, Berlin has created more questions than it has answered with its first foray into the region in two decades.  The German Navy’s deployment of the Brandenburg-class frigate Bayern, announced in January 2021 and dispatched that August, throws into relief Europe’s dilemma in the Indo-Pacific. Despite its public commitments to concepts such as human rights, democracy, and equality, Germany (like many others in Europe) is deeply dependent on China, a power that believes in none of these, for continued economic growth.  While the European Union and China traded sanctions in a rare escalation of tensions last year, EU members are taking great pains to avoid being dragged along by Washington into a direct confrontation with Beijing. But the capitals of Europe are unable to agree on a unified approach.


Germany’s decision to go it alone was a surprising one, given the potential opportunity to integrate with the British Royal Navy’s carrier strike group deployment earlier in the year, as the Netherlands elected to do with its own frigate. During the Bayern’s visit to Singapore last month, Germany’s chief of navy—Vice Adm. Kay-Achim Schönbach—indicated that the ship was selected specifically because it was a bit older and lacked the offensive punch of some newer vessels, to avoid the appearance of provocation. (https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/01/03/german-navy-indo-pacific-frigate-china-policy/)

France takes the EU helm at a crucial time

France on Saturday assumed the presidency of the Council of the European Union,  a position that rotates every six months among the EU member states by Luke Coffey, Arab News (Zawya)

France on Saturday assumed the presidency of the Council of the European Union, a position that rotates every six months among the EU member states. Holding this position is a big deal. With 27 members in the EU, each country has a long wait for their turn. It is an opportunity for member states to shape the policy agenda and promote their national interests on the European stage. Countries plan for months — sometimes years —for their opportunity. France last held the presidency in 2008. This time, its presidency comes at a difficult juncture for the bloc. The initial shock of the UK’s departure has still not fully settled down. There is a debate across much of Europe on what the EU’s future should be, but it is not accompanied by any political will to make the necessary reforms or institutional changes to address many of the EU’s shortcomings. No major treaty has been agreed on since the controversial Lisbon Treaty in 2009. The desire to add new members has stalled. France is also in the middle of a contentious presidential election campaign, with voting in April. The political power of the far right poses a real challenge to Emmanuel Macron’s re-election.   (1/4/2022)

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AFRICA

China cuts Africa lending 

China, Africa’s top lender, is taking a closer look at its lending policy on the continent. Xi Jinping announced last November that China will cut overall lending to the continent by one-third until 2024, as many African countries risk default due to COVID-induced economic crises. In the future, Xi also wants to prioritize cash for small businesses and green projects over more big infrastructure stuff, a riskier investment that can leave Beijing holding a bigger bag when debts go unpaid. China has long been accused of luring African countries into a “debt trap” by lending them cash with no political strings attached, but with fine print that allows Chinese companies to take control of strategic infrastructure – like Uganda’s Entebbe airport – if they get stiffed. What some view as “predatory” lending by Beijing also enables corruption, with Kenya’s famously overpriced Nairobi-Mombasa railway as a glaring example. A defensive Beijing says that the world’s poorest continent needs Chinese loans to build infrastructure, and that the IMF also gets tough on African governments. But needed or not, China’s investment strategy is becoming more cautious.  (Gzero Signal, 1/12/2022)

African countries disallow free movement of people How to break the logjam (16 Jan 2022, The Conversation)

Most African countries signed onto the Free Movement of Persons protocol in Addis Ababa in January 2018. Its rationale was set out clearly: the free movement of people – as well as capital goods and services – would promote integration and herald in a host of other benefits. These included improving science, technology, education, research and fostering tourism. In addition, it would facilitate inter-African trade and investment, increase remittances within the continent, promote the mobility of labour, create employment and improve the standards of living. Four years after its ratification, only a handful of relatively small African states have fully ratified the Free Persons protocol. Over 30 countries signed the protocol in January 2018. But only Rwanda, Niger, São Tomé and Principe, and Mali have fully ratified it.  (https://theconversation.com/african-countries-are-stuck-on-the-free-movement-of-people-how-to-break-the-logjam-174720)

“The United Nations has estimated that since 2011, Boko Haram has killed more than 15,200 Nigerians and forced 1.7 million others from their homes as it has sought to turn Nigeria into an Islamic nation ruled by Sharia law.”  (Catholicherald.co.uk, November 5, 2021; Nigeria)

On November 17, the U.S. removed Nigeria from its list of Countries of Particular Concern, meaning nations that engage in, or tolerate violations of, religious freedom. Nigeria was the country with the most Christians killed (3,530) for their faith in 2020….. “If the U.S. CPC list means anything at all – an open question at this point – Nigeria belongs on it.”  (Hammurabi Human Rights Organization, quoting Christian Solidarity, Nigeria)

(“The Persecution of Christians,” Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone, 1/9/2022)

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DOES JAPAN ASPIRE TO BE A SUPERPOWER? Despite its “peace constitution,” Japan has a growing military footprint, by Alec Dubro, 3 Jan 2022, Foreign Policy in Focus, Extracts:

In early November, the German Navy frigate Bayern docked in Japan after two days of exercises with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer Samidare.  No, it’s not the reestablishment of the Axis Powers, but it’s still significant.“ The Indo-Pacific is today one of the strategically most important regions of the world,” Gen. Eberhard Zorn, chief of Germany’s armed forces said at a Tokyo press conference. “Here, important decisions over freedom, peace and well-being in the world are being made. Deploying our frigate to the Indo-Pacific makes clear that Germany stands up for our common values.” In other words, the Germans are doing their part to contain China, just as the British, French and Dutch have done. And, of course, the Americans.  The Japanese Self-Defense Forces have been described as the world’s fifth most powerful military. In November 2021, Japan’s military budget of $47 billion was supplemented by an additional appropriation of $6.7 billion. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and the ruling LDP had pressed for the supplement because of the ongoing threats not only from China but Russia and North Korea.  This comes as no surprise to the Americans. In their April high-level meeting in Washington, both Suga and President Biden declared their intention to increase Japan’s national defense capabilities to “further strengthen the US- Japan alliance and regional security.”Regional security implies a strategic force, something that flies in the face of Japan’s 1947 Peace Constitution. 

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HOMOSEXUALITY AND ISLAM

A heated debate is currently ongoing in the Arab and Muslim world regarding the LGBTQ+ community and its rights. The debate ensued following criticism in the West over Qatar’s treatment of this community and fear that gays visiting the country for the World Cup in November 2022 will not be safe. Another factor that sparked the interest in this issue was statements made by former Egyptian footballer Mohamed Aboutrika, who said that homosexuality contravenes Islam and human nature and is not a matter of human rights.

As part of the debate, harsh statements were made against gays and against Western attitudes that accept them, including by Islamic authorities such as Al-Azhar – the most prominent religious institute in the Sunni world – and the Saudi Mufti, as well as by media figures and social media activists. 

A handful of Arab writers opposed this incitement and called to stop it, among them Egyptian poet and journalist Mohamed Tolba Radwan. In an article titled “The Rights of Homosexuals in Islam” in the daily Al-‘Arabi Al-Jadid, he wrote that, while homosexuality is indeed forbidden in Islam, Allah did not impose any punishment for it in this world, and therefore there is no reason to hate gays but only to abhor the sin itself. He called to first of all stop the verbal and physical violence directed at gays by the authorities and societies in the Arab world, and only then discuss the issue of their status and rights.    (MEMRI, 1/12/2022)

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TO THE POINT

  • Britain has sent troops and weaponry to Ukraine to help with its self-defence against Moscow, the Daily Mail reported. The soldiers are expected to teach their Ukrainian counterparts how to combat Russian tanks. The paper described the development as a clear signal to Vladimir Putin.  (The Week, 1/18/2022)
  • Downing Street is drawing up plans to phase out England’s remaining pandemic restrictions in March, according to reports. A senior source confirmed to The Guardian that the PM was looking at ending mandatory self-isolation for positive Covid cases, replacing it instead with “guidance”. The paper said the “beleaguered” Boris Johnson wants to signal to his backbenchers that he is prepared to let the UK live with the virus. A World Health Organisation special envoy for Covid-19 has said there is now “light at the end of the tunnel” for the UK in tackling the disease.   (The Week, 1/18/2022)
  • China is waging a trade war against Lithuania in order to test the West’s resolve to stand up to Beijing, according to the foreign minister of the embattled Baltic state. Gabriel Landsbergis told The Telegraph that Lithuania was being targeted with a “weapon of economic destruction” that could “basically be used in any other country and by any other non-democratic country that has issues with another country that it doesn’t like.”   (The Week, 1/18/2022)

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FINAL THOUGHT

A few days ago, Sky News led on Boris Johnson’s problems with drinking parties being held in 10 Downing Street during Covid.   The second news item was about Novak Djokovic, the world’s number one tennis player who tried to get around Australian restrictions on Covid.   And the third profiled Prince Andrew and the ongoing sexual abuse case against him.

All three news items have the same commonality at their root.   All three were about major public figures thinking they are above the law.

Nobody should be above the law.   That’s been a fundamental principle in the English-speaking world ever since the Magna Carta was signed in 1215.  That’s not the case everywhere.  For example, while the Magna Carta brought down Richard Nixon in 1974, French presidents cannot be prosecuted while in office.

The Bible teaches us that God is no respecter of persons.  “Then Peter opened his mouth and said, ‘In truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons . . .  (Acts 10:34, 21st century KJV) 

The kings of ancient Israel were subject to the laws of the Bible, as were the people.

When he (the king) takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.   (Deuteronomy 17:18-20, NIV)

In Africa it’s very common for leaders to abuse their power.   But it’s not in their interests or the interests of the people.

Leaders need to remember they are equal before the law.

CHINA VERY CONFIDENT OF BEATING THE US

Chinese Professor Jin Canrong. Image Source: thestraitstimes

China is … very confident about its ability to stand up to the U.S. and its allies in the Pacific, as is evident in the way that Chinese experts describe the balance of power between China and the U.S. For example, when prominent Chinese Professor Jin Canrong discussed the possibility of an American reaction to a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, he said: “We have complete confidence in our ability to beat any opponent within 1,000 nautical miles, including the United States and its coalition forces… We have superior electronic warfare capabilities [and] China leads the world in medium- and medium-long-range conventional missiles. There is no force on the planet that can compete with us. The United States has fallen far behind us [and] we are the best in hypersonic missiles… The United States has a single 300m dock that can build one aircraft carrier. How many do we have? 49 of them! We have nothing to be afraid of.”   (MEMRI, 1/1/2022)

. . . it seems to be what the Taliban leadership had in mind this summer when they occupied Kabul and immediately began arresting and murdering Afghan officials and civilians. Financial collapse was looming, but they didn’t care. As one Western official working in the region told the Financial Times, “They assume that any money that the west doesn’t give them will be replaced by China, Pakistan, Russia and Saudi Arabia.” And if the money doesn’t come, so what? Their goal is not a flourishing, prosperous Afghanistan, but an Afghanistan where they are in charge.  (“Autocracy is winning,” The Atlantic, 12/21/2021)

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Emmerson Mnangagwa calls for Cecil John Rhodes to be exhumed
The Zimbabwean president wants the remains of the colonialist to be exhumed and repatriated to Britain (21 Dec 2021, by Sharon Mazingaizo, Business Live)

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has called for the remains of colonialist Cecil John Rhodes to be exhumed and repatriated to Britain. Rhodes died in 1902. His self-chosen burial place is at Matobo Hills National Park, south of Bulawayo.

Mnangagwa told traditional leaders on Friday in Harare that Rhodes’ remains should be returned in exchange for Zimbabweans’ ancestors’ remains in the UK. “We still have Rhodes’ remains in Matobo. What do you think about it?

If you go to the shrine, you don’t know whether you are talking to Rhodes or our ancestors.   His remains must be returned to where he hailed from and we can also have our ancestral remains which are being kept in Europe,” said Mnangagwa.

Calls for Rhodes’ exhumation date back to 2012. The late former president Robert Mugabe blocked war veterans and Zanu-PF politicians from exhuming his remains, saying his legacy was part of the country’s history. The veterans had blamed his grave for the lack of rain in the Matobo area.  The gravesite is a tourist attraction, visited by thousands of tourists both local and foreign. It lies at the summit of a hill known as the “World’s View.” Locals call the hill where Rhodes lies “Malindadzimu,” a word meaning “burial place of the defied [openly resisted] ancestors.”

Zimbabweans are charged ZWL$40 entry to the national park and an additional ZWL$25 to see Rhodes’ grave. Foreigners pay US$15 (R237) for admittance and an extra US$10 (R158) to view the site.  In 2003, the sacred Matobo Hills was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site and the gravesite is under the custodianship of the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe.  Rhodes was a colonialist and politician who played a dominant role in Southern Africa in the late 19th century. A business-person who made his fortune in SA’s diamond fields, he founded the De Beers diamond firm.

(https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/world/africa/2021-12-21-emmerson-mnangagwa-calls-for-cecil-john-rhodes-to-be-exhumed/)

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  • HITLER APPROVED OF THE ROMANIAN IRON GUARD’S RUTHLESSNESS
    Romania’s ‘homegrown’ Holocaust: 80 years since forgotten.  Bogdanovka massacre In the final days of 1941, Romanian authorities massacred 40,000 Jews in a chapter of the genocide in which 420,000 Jews were killed in ‘broad daylight’ with collaborators’ help.   by Matt Lebovic, Times of Israel, 1-1-2022

When typhus broke out at a Romanian concentration camp 80 years ago, authorities at Bogdanovka decided to murder 40,000 Jewish inmates and burn down the camp.  Carried out in Romanian-occupied Ukraine by Romanian soldiers, Ukrainian regular police, and local ethnic Germans, the Bogdanovka massacre has largely been ignored by historians, along with Romania’s “distinct” role in the genocide of Europe’s Jews.  “I’m embarrassed to say, that I had no knowledge of that atrocity,” Efraim Zuroff, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi-hunter, told The Times of Israel in reference to Bogdanovka.  In Romania, Hitler’s stalwart ally dictator Marshal Ion Antonescu expanded his borders after Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. Hitler gave Antonescu a free hand to solve Romania’s own “Jewish question,” and an estimated 420,000 Jews under Antonescu’s control were murdered relatively early in the war.

(https://www.timesofisrael.com/romanias-homegrown-holocaust-80-years-since-forgotten-bogdanovka-massacre/)

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For the first time in U.S. history, more fentanyl than heroin has been intercepted by federal law enforcement at the country’s borders.  According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data, 11,201 pounds of fentanyl was seized in fiscal year 2021, compared to 5,400 pounds of heroin. Other drugs seized include 319,447 pounds of marijuana, 190,861 pounds of methamphetamine, 97,638 pounds of cocaine, and 10,848 pounds of ketamine. 2,158 pounds of fentanyl has been seized in fiscal year 2022 to date, compared to 277 pounds of heroin.  …. As The Daily Wire noted, from May 2020 to May 2021, America reached a deadly milestone. 100,255 Americans died of drug overdoses, the first time more than 100,000 people died in such a way, with much of the increase being driven by the stream of fentanyl flooding the country.  “Fentanyl or other synthetic opioids are involved in 64% of all overdoses, according to the CDC. Over the same period, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized twice as much fentanyl — which is between 80 and 100 times stronger than morphine — than it did last year,” The Daily Wire explained.  . . . In January 2021, the Congressional Research Service stated that China remains a major producer of illegal fentanyl, which is smuggled into the U.S. by traffickers, often through the mail.

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Fire damages South African Parliament – A massive fire broke out in Cape Town Sunday morning, spreading to South Africa’s Parliament complex and causing one building’s roof to collapse. The National Assembly chamber was also damaged. The blaze, which began only hours after the state funeral of anti-apartheid activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu, started in a nearby office building. Government officials originally said the fire was contained, but soon after it spread to the new Parliament building. Local officials say the building’s sprinkler system appears to have malfunctioned. Parliament is currently on its holiday recess, and no injuries have been reported. Police have brought in one person for questioning. (CNN, The Associated Press, 2 Jan 2022)

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Germany and the EU are at risk of losing out in the world’s most significant growth region, business representatives warn, regarding the world’s largest free trade agreement RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership), which became effective on January 1, and is still hardly known in Germany. RCEP is a free trade agreement (FTA) between 15 countries of the Asia-Pacific region, which includes the world’s second and third largest economies – China’s and Japan’s respectively. Together, the RCEP countries represent nearly a third of the global GDP. RCEP has the potential of consolidating international supply chains within its member countries, luring production sites away – also from Germany, for example – and to set globally important trade norms and industrial standards. The new free trade alliance is a structural consequence of the shift in the balance of forces from the Atlantic to the Pacific and of former colonies turning their backs on their former colonial powers. German business representatives are calling for swift action to prevent potential losses to the German industry.  (German Foreign Policy, 1/6/2022)

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TO THE POINT

  • “Hegel would not have been possible but for Kant, who would not have been possible but for Plato.  These three, more than any others, are the intellectual builders of Auschwitz.”   (page 44, “The Ominous Parallels,” 1982, Leonard Peikoff)
  • According to Bill C-4, which goes into force on January 8th, the Bible’s teaching on sexuality and gender is defined as a “myth” under Canadian Law. The promotion and sharing of biblical teaching on such topics will be a jailable offence that officially “causes harm to society.”  (Prophecy News Watch, 1/8/2022)
  • Sadiq Khan is set to decriminalise drugs in London as part of a plan to end the prosecution of young people caught with cannabis. The mayor of London will allow under-25s caught with Class B drugs to be offered “speeding course-style classes or counselling instead of arrest,” The Telegraph said. The scheme would mean police officers would be told not to arrest young people caught in possession of drugs including cannabis, ketamine or speed.  (The Week, 1/4/22)
  • Emmanuel Macron has said he intends to make life difficult for people in France who have not been taken the Covid vaccine. “I really want to hassle them, and we will continue to do this – to the end,” the French president told France’s Le Parisien newspaper. Opponents have condemned his sentiments, with Bruno Retailleau, Senate leader of the centre-right Republicains, saying:  “No health emergency justifies such words.”   (The Week, 1/5/22)

FINAL THOUGHT

Only one British prime minister was ever assassinated.  Spencer Perceval was shot on May 11, 1812, by a merchant with a grievance.

“Perceval was opposed to Catholic emancipation and reform of Parliament; he supported the war against Napoleon and the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade. He was opposed to hunting, gambling and adultery; he did not drink as much as most MPs at the time, gave generously to charity, and enjoyed spending time with his thirteen children.” (wikipedia)

What is particularly interesting here is not the assassination itself so much as what happened afterwards.  

He was shot by John Bellingham.   Within one week, there was a trial and, a week to the day after the incident, he was hanged.  

There was a great deal of sympathy for the man and donations from the public enabled his wife and children to live a better life than they had before.  

There’s a verse in the Bible that is interesting here.  In Ecclesiastes 8:11 we read: “When a crime is not punished quickly, people feel it is safe to do wrong.”  (New Living Translation)

Bellingham’s crime was the only time a prime minister has been murdered.   The death penalty was meant to be a deterrent.  This time it certainly was.

Today, people on death row wait an average of 21 years before their sentence is carried out.   That is “cruel and unusual punishment.”  

There is little to deter anybody from any crime today.   A quick trial and execution would go a long way toward reducing the murder rate in our societies.   Over 200 years ago, they knew that.  Over 200 years ago they knew their Bible.

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POLAND ACCUSES GERMANY OF TRYING TO FORM ‘FOURTH REICH’

Ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski speaks in Warsaw in October 2021
Ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski denounced “submission” to EU policy
(https://www.dw.com/en/poland-accuses-germany-of-trying-to-form-fourth-reich/a-60252976)

The deputy prime minister said the EU’s top court was being used to promote federalist ideas.  The comments come as Poland and the EU are embroiled in a conflict over judicial changes launched by Poland’s leading party.  (Deutsche Welle, 24 Dec 2021)

Poland’s deputy prime minister and the leader of its ruling party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, accused Germany’s new government of wanting to turn the European Union into a federal “German Fourth Reich.”

In an interview with far-right Polish daily GPC published on Friday, the head of the Law and Justice (PiS) party said that some countries “are not enthusiastic at the prospect of a German Fourth Reich being built on the basis of the EU.”  “If we Poles agreed with this kind of modern-day submission, we would be degraded in different ways,” said Kaczynski.  He added that the EU’s Court of Justice was being used as an “instrument” for federalist ideas.  Other PiS leaders have recently used the same phrase to describe the intentions of Berlin’s new center-left coalition government toward the European Union.  The agreement forged by the three parties to form Germany’s ruling coalition states that its ultimate goal is a federal European state. This aspect of the agreement was condemned by Poland’s PiS government, with Kaczynski even claiming such a state would take away Poland’s right to self-determination.

Scholz visit spurs criticism: During German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s visit to Warsaw earlier this month, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the current German government’s support for EU federalism was “utopian and therefore dangerous.” Poland has been involved in a long-standing conflict with the European Union, particularly over the judicial changes that the PiS has pushed through since 2015. This week, the European Union said it was launching legal action against Poland for ignoring EU law and undermining judicial independence. Poland has also accused the EU of “bureaucratic centralism.” (DW, 12/24/2021)

German arms exports hit new record during Merkel’s last days
The former government approved almost €5 billion in warships and missile defense deals as it prepared to leave office. 

New Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who was then finance minister, has also received criticism.

Germany’s weapons exports reached a record level this year, thanks to the last-minute approval of deals worth nearly €5 billion ($5.6 billion) by then-Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration. The figures reveal that the agreements were signed off during Merkel’s last nine days in power.  The last-minute deals brought Germany’s total weapons exports to a record €9.04 billion for the whole of 2021, according to the ministry.  Egypt is the main recipient of German arms, despite criticism over its human rights violations and involvement in conflicts in Yemen and Libya.


Under the last-minute agreements, Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems will deliver three warships to Egypt and a submarine to Singapore, while Diehl Defence will deliver 16 air defense systems to Egypt.  Scholz was Vice-Chancellor and Finance Minister in Merkel’s grand coalition…and would have been privy to the deals.  Sevim Dagdelen, the socialist Left party’s foreign policy expert, hit out at Scholz on Twitter, accusing him of acting like “a real crook.” She called for the export of “murder tools” to be halted.

(https://www.dw.com/en/german-arms-exports-hit-new-record-during-merkels-last-days/a-60256034)

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‘Radical’ Israeli groups driving Christians from Holy Land
Guardian of Christian holy places laments ‘unchecked, unpunished’ attacks, as archbishops blame Israeli settlers and security barrier; accusations draw protest from British Jews

Fr. Francesco Patton, the Catholic Church’s Custos of the Holy Land and guardian of the Christian holy places in the Holy Land, wrote in an opinion piece published Saturday by the UK’s Daily Telegraph that “our presence is precarious and our future is at risk.”Last week, the patriarchs and heads of churches in Jerusalem issued a joint statement similarly warning of the danger posed by radical groups they said are aiming at “diminishing the Christian presence.”

“It seems that their aim is to free the Old City of Jerusalem from its Christian presence, even the Christian quarter,” he said. Holy sites, including churches, have been desecrated and vandalized, while offenses have been committed against priests, monks and worshipers, Patton charged.

Patton wrote that whereas the Christians were once 20 percent of Jerusalem’s population, today they are less than 2%. 

He issued an appeal to the world for support “so that we can continue to preserve the rich diversity of this Holy Land.”

The archbishops’ article drew a protest from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which focused on some of the assertions they made on what is causing the waning of Christian presence in Israel.  (Jewish Chronicle, 12/21/2021)

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The battle to succeed Boris Johnson
Britain’s chancellor and foreign secretary are already scoping out  supporters in case their boss stumbles. (Politico London, UK, 29 Dec 2021 — Whisper it, but the race to succeed Boris Johnson is on)

Two of the prime minister’s top lieutenants — Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss — are on maneuvers, as Westminster insiders like to say, and Johnson’s recent woes have only intensified the speculation.  This month’s two-year anniversary of the U.K. leader’s resounding election victory came at a low point. Johnson was beset by scandal, weakened by insurrection in the ranks of his Conservative party, and gifted a bloody nose in a by-election which saw his party lose a seat it has held for almost 200 years. Some in the famously regicidal Conservative Party detect the beginning of the end, and predict an attempt to remove him by next summer. Others caution that reports of his demise are greatly exaggerated.

Whether his departure really is around the corner or another election cycle away, Truss and Sunak — widely regarded as likely successors — are taking no chances.  Sunak has had a meteoric rise from hedge fund whizz-kid to keeper of the nation’s finances at a time of major economic shock. Truss is the Remain-voter-turned-Brexit-champion, now responsible for remaking the U.K.’s foreign policy outside the EU.  In a sure sign that something’s up, their allies say they both have more pressing tasks in hand than their own future job prospects. But, in truth, the respective leadership campaigns are already well under way — even if some political observers are struggling to work out what the pair would actually do with the top job.  

(https://www.politico.eu/article/uk-prime-minister-boris-johnson-succession-conservatives-rishi-sunak-liz-truss/)

NEW UK FOREIGN MINISTER IS AMBITIOUS

Liz Truss has many jobs. She is Minister for Women and Equalities, and after a cabinet reshuffle in the fall she was also tapped as Foreign Secretary. This week, she added to her portfolio the unenviable role of chief negotiator with the EU on all things Brexit. One of her priorities will be to chart a path forward on the future of the Northern Irish border, which has put London on a path toward trade war with Brussels and trouble with Washington. Truss, who has now held cabinet positions in three Tory governments, is also trying to mold Britain’s post-Brexit foreign policy.

Timing is everything in politics, and Truss takes on this monster portfolio just as her boss, Boris Johnson, finds himself in the dog house after a series of bungled policies and communication strategies – as well as a string of tasteless scandals of the Marie Antoniette variety. Truss has already been floated as a potential successor to Johnson, who analysts say may now be on borrowed time. But her chance to become prime minister could depend on how painstaking talks with Brussels progress in the near term. Can she triumph where others have so far failed? (Gzero Signal, 12/23/2021)

Britain’s next Prime Minister?   Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak Biography, Age, Height, Wife, Net Worth ...

Sunak was born on 12 May 1980 in Southampton, Hampshire, South East England, to Indian Punjabi Hindu parents Yashvir and Usha Sunak.  His father Yashvir was born in Kenya and his mother Usha was born in Tanzania.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rishi_Sunak#Early_life_and_education)

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DR. OZ’S LINKS TO TURKISH ISLAMISTS

After announcing his decision to run for U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania, celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz has been publicly lambasted for peddling “miracle” weight-loss supplements and other medical misinformation. However, Pennsylvania voters should be far more concerned with the daytime television star’s connections to Turkey’s Islamist government.

Oz’s links to Turkey’s authoritarian Justice and Development Party (AKP) extend to foreign agents and proxies accused of operating a secret lobby in the U.S. and spying on American citizens. These associations raise urgent questions about the Senate candidate’s loyalty to an illiberal, often antagonistic foreign government that finds itself increasingly at odds with American interests.   (Benjamin Baird, MEF, 12/23/2021)

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SWEDISH CRIME WAVE

Sweden is facing much more than a “serious problem.”

Sweden has the highest number of fatal shootings per million inhabitants in Europe according to the latest report by Brå on shooting, released in May. Sweden, furthermore, is the only country in Europe in which fatal shootings have increased since the year 2005.

“The main underlying reason for the development with shootings and explosions is the situation that prevails in vulnerable areas, where residents feel threatened by criminals, where there is open drug trafficking and where criminals in some places have created parallel social structures,” Swedish police wrote in a recent press release.

In six out of seven police regions, gangs use 12-year-old children in the conduct of their criminal activities, including selling drugs and transporting weapons.  (Judith Bergman, Gatestone, 12/27/2021)

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American media] hurt by dwindling public interest in news in 2021

NEW YORK (AP) 27 Dec 2021 [extracts] – The presidential election, pandemic and racial reckoning were stories that drove intense interest and engagement to news outlets in 2020. To a large degree, 2021 represented the inevitable hangover.  Various metrics illustrate the dwindling popularity of news content.  Cable news networks were the main form of evening entertainment for millions of Americans last year. In 2021, weekday prime-time viewership dropped 38% at CNN, 34% at Fox News Channel and 25% at MSNBC, according to the Nielsen company.  The decline was less steep but still significant at broadcast television evening newscasts: 12% at ABC’s “World News Tonight” and the “CBS Evening News;” 14% at NBC’s “Nightly News,” Nielsen said.

The media monitoring company NewsWhip looked at 14 million political articles online last year and found they had an average of 924 engagements, or social media interactions. The 13.5 million articles NewsWhip has traced in 2021 had an average of 321 engagements. Although usage of the [New York] Times’ digital site is down, the company passed 8 million subscriptions and is on pace to grow further. Doctor said the Times has done an effective job of diversifying beyond politics, most notably with its Wirecutter service of consumer recommendations. (12/27/2021)

(https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-health-business-presidential-elections-arts-and-entertainment-7cc91db0950a8e7e7bcf50d5d23dfc26

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AUSSIE ELECTION

Australia (by May 21) – Australians will go to the polls before the end of May. It’s a legislative election, so the party that gets a majority of seats in parliament will pick the next prime minister. The approval rating of the current PM, Scott Morrison of the right-leaning Liberal Coalition, is now at its lowest in 18 months due to frustration over one of the world’s longest and strictest pandemic lockdowns, which has pummeled Aussie businesses.

Still, the Coalition remains neck-and-neck in the polls with the opposition Labor Party, struggling to capitalize on Morrison’s unpopularity. The main campaign issues will likely be climate, but perhaps more COVID and the economy. On foreign policy, both parties want to maintain close ties with the US, support the AUKUS regional military alliance, and have similar views on China — although Labor doesn’t want Australia to be in complete lockstep with America as it says Canberra has been under Morrison.  (Gzero Signal, 12/28/2021)

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ARCHBISHOP TUTU HATED JEWS

He was among the world’s most respected figures. His recognizable face—with its ever-present grin—has become a symbol of reconciliation and goodness. But it masks a long history of ugly hatred toward the Jewish people, the Jewish religion and the Jewish state. He not only believed in anti-Semitism, he actively promoted and legitimated Jew-hatred among his many followers and admirers around the world.

He has attacked the “Jewish” – not Israeli – “lobby” as too “powerful” and “scary.” He has invoked classic anti-Semitic stereotypes and tropes about Jewish “arrogance,” “power” and “money.”  He has characterized Jews a “peculiar people,” and has accused “the Jews” of causing many of the world’s problems. He once even accused the Jewish state of acting in an “unChristian” manner.  (Alan Dershowitz, Gatestone, 12/28/2021)

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TO THE POINT

  • OMICROM VARIANT ‘MILDER’ – The Omicron variant appears to be “milder” and cause fewer hospitalisations, according to preliminary studies published in the UK and South Africa. Early evidence suggests there has been an estimated reduction of between 30% and 70% in people needing hospital treatment when compared to other variants. However, after the UK’s daily Covid cases topped 100,000 for the first time yesterday, “concern remains that even if Omicron is milder, the sheer number of cases could overwhelm hospitals”, the BBC said.   (The Week, 12/23/2021)
  • Canadian Imam Younus Kathrada: Congratulating People on Christmas Is Like Congratulating Murderers And Pedophiles; It Is A Major Sin  (MEMRI, 12/23/2021)

FINAL THOUGHT

My first crush when I was about ten was on Hayley Mills.   Those of you who are roughly the same age as me will remember her.   After making a British movie called “Tiger Bay,” filmed in and around Cardiff in Wales, she was signed up by Walt Disney to a five-year, seven-movie contract.   Her first movie for them was “Pollyanna.”   She became an international celebrity immediately at the age of 14/15.    Her most successful movie for Disney was “The Parent Trap.”

I watched all her early movies.   I was probably her greatest fan, though we never actually met.  

Our local library was promoting her autobiography earlier this month.  Naturally, I checked out the book and read every word, some 375 pages.    It’s titled “Forever Young” and was published earlier this year. 

I was shocked to read that those early years left her with nothing.   As a minor the money she earned was placed in a trust, which matured when she turned 21, then the age of majority.  

Due to some mistakes made by her family lawyers, she was not to see any of the money.   At 21, the remaining money was subject to 91% tax.    That’s nothing compared to what her father, Sir John Mills, had to pay – 98%.   The tax bill forced him to sign a contract with an American producer; five years to pay off his British taxes.  

No wonder the British people voted for Margaret Thatcher.    She changed the tax regimen making the UK competitive with other countries.   Instead of leaving the country because they had to, people started returning.

In ancient Israel, when the people demanded a king, God warned them that their human leader, the king, would take 10% of their wealth for himself.   (I Samuel 8:15-17).  He added:  “And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day”  (verse 18).  

So, the king started out by taking 10%.  But that was to rise.

Governments have an insatiable appetite.   Today, many governments take far more than 10%.   It’s not just kings who like money.  Presidents do, too.   In Ghana, forty years ago, we were paying 83%.

The late Milton Freeman, the economist, showed in one of his books (“Free to choose”) that people will faithfully pay their taxes until they reach 25%.   Above that, people start fiddling, avoiding tax as much as possible.

Interestingly, under ancient Israel’s tithing principles, 25% was what was expected of people (first tithe, second and third, plus offerings).  

It’s also the case that other means can be found to raise taxation.  Inflation, for example, reduces peoples’ savings.   It’s a form of legalized theft, made the worse by the deception that’s behind it.

Yes, I feel sorry for Hayley Mills, though she’s likely over it now that she’s 75.  

Hayley Mills | Regis Autographs
Hayley in “Tiger Bay”
Hayley at 75

GERMAN HELP FOR UKRAINE

[This was the week of our grandson Grayson’s treatment.   Update #6 is on the GoFundMe website:  https://www.gofundme.com/f/treatment-for-grayson.   As time is rather limited, I’m sending you some urgent news clippings, with no “Final Thought.”]

President Volodymyr Zelenskyi spoke in a newspaper interview that Berlin “recently prevented us from receiving supplies of defense weapons systems within the framework of NATO cooperation”. Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, on the other hand, referred to “the imperative of de-escalation” and at the same time emphasized solidarity with Ukraine. (https://detv.us/2021/12/14/ukraine-insists-on-a-change-of-course-kiev-germany-blocked-arms-delivery/)

Pressure is mounting on the German government to authorize arms deliveries to Ukraine. This is prompted by the fact that Berlin vetoed the supply of US-made sniper rifles to Ukraine via the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA). The Ukrainian armed forces are already being upgraded by NATO and its member states. So far, the USA has provided military aid worth more than US $2.5 billion, including the delivery of hundreds of Javelin anti-tank missiles. Poland and the Czech Republic have delivered dozens of second-hand armored personnel carriers, Turkey is supplying Kiev with its infamous Bayraktar TB2 drones. Great Britain, in turn, has begun to upgrade Ukraine’s naval forces and wants to help Ukraine acquire new warships and construct new naval bases. Via the NSPA, NATO will supply Kiev with an anti-drone system – with Berlin’s explicit support. Kiev is demanding more and accuses Berlin of “blocking” further arms deliveries.  (German Foreign Policy, 12/15/2021)

PUTIN MEETS XI JINPING

Vladimir Putin yesterday sought to present a united front with Xi Jinping after the Kremlin said Beijing supported Moscow’s demand for guarantees that would limit western influence in its backyard. At the start of a 90-minute video call between the pair, Putin told his “dear friend” Xi that “a new model of co-operation between our countries has formed on principles such as non-interference in internal affairs and respecting each other’s interests.” Putin also confirmed he will attend the opening of the Winter Olympics in China, an event Boris Johnson and other leaders have boycotted.  (The Week, 12/16/2021)

Russia makes its demands. With 100,000 Russian troops at the Ukrainian border, Moscow released a bombshell list of demands for the “West” on Friday. Among other things, NATO must relinquish any right ever to expand further eastward and must stop sending its troops or ships anywhere that could conceivably threaten Russia. What’s more, the Russians are impatient: they want the US to discuss these proposals right now. The US is happy to talk but won’t give the Kremlin a veto over the choices that sovereign nations want to make about their own security alliances. The Ukrainians, naturally, agree, and on Monday President Volodymyr Zelenskiy will meet with his counterparts from Poland and Lithuania to emphasize the point. (Gzero Signal, 12/20/2021)

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No new friends — Putin and Xi 

The leaders of Russia and China held a conspicuously chummy video conference on Wednesday at a time when both are getting an earful from “the West.” Putin told his “dear friend” Xi that he will absolutely attend the Beijing Winter Olympics next February despite a US-led diplomatic boycott over China’s human rights abuses, and that China is right to be worried about Western military maneuvering in the Pacific. Xi, meanwhile, told his “old friend” Putin that China supports Russia’s demands for security guarantees from NATO. Both men reportedly discussed developing alternative financial structures in order to evade Western sanctions — the US and EU have threatened to shut Russia out of SWIFT if the Kremlin invades Ukraine (again). Russia-China relations have always been tricky — they have clashed over borders in the past and Moscow is perennially worried about being dwarfed economically by its more populous neighbor. But as the US gears up for a push against authoritarian countries, the two most influential important ones are closing ranks.  (Gzero Signal, 12/16/2021)

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Fed gets serious about US inflation. 

The US Federal Reserve has spent months telling Americans that persistently high inflation was “transitory.” Not anymore (in fact, that word is verboten for the Fed from now on). On Wednesday, the Fed announced it would cut back its monthly purchases of US government debt — which it started doing in March 2020 to bolster the COVID-battered economy — faster than it initially planned because prices are simply rising too much, too fast. What’s more, for the first time since the pandemic began, the Fed is ready to take the more drastic step of raising interest rates up to three times in 2022 if inflation keeps going up at this rate. Now that the US economy is in better shape than it was a year ago — despite ongoing supply-chain disruptions, that is — and unemployment is down, the Fed has become increasingly worried about inflation. Finally admitting you have a problem is a good first step, but fixing it won’t be easy — and interest rate hikes will likely be painful for many Americans.  (Gzero Signal, 12/16/2021)

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IRANIAN OIL ARRIVES IN LEBANON

In September 2021, 80 trucks carrying one million gallons of Iranian oil entered Lebanon amid a severe fuel crisis. There were no border checks and no customs duty was levied. The shipments were orchestrated by the pro-Iranian Hezbollah movement. Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati, although a Hezbollah political ally, told CNN: “The violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty makes me sad.”

If the international community still had doubts, these recent events have clearly shown the extent of Hezbollah’s control over Lebanon. The Iranian oil shipments represent an impressive public relations success. In practical terms they are hollow: Lebanon needs more than 6.5 million gallons of oil per day. Iran sent much less than one day’s worth of consumption. Still, from Hezbollah’s viewpoint, the move was a victory. It highlighted Iranian generosity and flouted the United States embargo. And, since they sold the fuel at the inflated market price, the project also proved highly profitable.   (Amatzia Baram, MEF, 12/16/2021)

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European Neo-Nazis And White Supremacists Use Soccer As An Expression Of Antisemitism Across Social Media Platforms, Chant Slogans Including ‘Jews To The Gas,’ Wear Nazi Paraphernalia At Games, Violently Attack Jewish Supporters Of Rival Teams  (MEMRI 12/16/2021)

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EU POWER WANING

The global power potential of the EU and its member countries is eroding and cannot keep up with that of the United States and China, as confirmed by data in “Power Atlas,” recently published by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR).  Not only the German and the EU’s relative economic power is systematically declining, Germany is also losing ground in terms of its share of major corporations with global influence. China is leading in every sector. In the high-tech sectors such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, robotics and the like, the USA and China dominate. The EU, ECFR notes, “fails to keep pace.” In the future, “geopolitics will be dominated by countries and firms” that excel in precisely these fields. Only in the military sector – in terms of the volume of military expenditures, the number of foreign military bases – are western powers, led by the United States far out front. The military could thus take on prime importance in the West’s attempt to maintain its dwindling global dominance against China.   (German Foreign Policy, 12/19/2021)

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JOE SINKS JOE

It looks like US President Joe Biden has come to the end of the road with his $1.75 trillion Build Back Better Plan, now that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has announced flatly he’ll vote “no.” With the Senate split 50-50, Biden needs every Democrat vote in the chamber. The White House haggled with Manchin for months — “dancin’ for Manchin”, you might say. Biden even cut the proposed spending in half. But the moderate Manchin said he still “couldn’t get there” because of concerns about the deficit, and further stoking already high inflation. Republicans, of course, are ecstatic, because passing BBB is Biden’s key pitch for Americans to vote for Democrats in next year’s midterms and re-elect him (or another Democrat in his place) in 2024. It’s not too late to reach a fresh compromise on the bill, but the longer the Dems keep squabbling, the longer their odds of retaining control of Congress next November.   (Gzero Signal. 12/20/2021)

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THUNDER DOWN UNDER

For Beijing, there is thunder Down Under. Tensions between Australia and China just keep rising. After China responded to Aussie requests for a COVID investigation by imposing devastating tariffs and unofficial bans on Australian exports in 2020, Oz is pushing back hard now. Canberra on Friday accused China of “economic coercion,” while cybersecurity officials publicly confirmed malicious attacks against Australia by Chinese spy services working with Chinese telecom giant Huawei. The Aussies also say Chinese intelligence vessels are snooping around in Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone. These accompany several clearly pro-American moves this year: the Aussies have signed on to AUKUS, an exclusive military club with Washington and London that gives them access to unprecedented weapons tech, are allowing the buildup of US military infrastructure (read, bases) on its soil, and joined America in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. But the Australians are taking the tensions directly to China’s neighborhood, too. Canberra just signed a $770 million weapons deal with South Korea, including tech to build Howitzers — really, really big artillery guns. And even though the spat between the two continues, there is evidence that Australia, while heavily dependent on trade with China, is successfully pushing for diversity in trade partnerships.  (Gzero Signal, 12/20/2021)

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TO THE POINT

  • Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban says his government will defy an EU ruling and maintain its controversial immigration laws. The bloc’s top court has ruled that Hungary’s law, which criminalises lawyers and activists who help asylum seekers, was in breach of European legislation. Orban said the EU’s rules were “obsolete” in the face of “massive migration” since 2015. The row means Hungary could miss out on billions of euros in EU cash.  (The Week, 12/23/2021)
  • Covid’s icy grip on Europe:  Winter infections soar on the continent as Belgium rages with anti-lockdown riots, Holland enforces brutal new curbs and Germany bans tourists in desperate bid to slow the march of Omicron *Winter infections are soaring across Europe amid the rapid spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant *Denmark became first EU country to lift lockdown restrictions, but Europe now reintroducing tougher rules.  Thousands of protestors marched through Brussels and clashed with police over tighter restrictions.  Holland has announced that all non-essential stores, bars and restaurants will be closed until January 14.  Germany has also confirmed Britain has been added to its list of high-risk countries as a ‘virus variant area’  by Jamie Phillips for MailOnline, 20 Dec 2021  (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10326009/Covids-icy-grip-Europe-Winter-infections-soar-countries-bid-slow-march-Omicron.html)
  • Doctors have been told to stop handing out antidepressants after a study found no strong evidence that the drugs were effective. A trial failed to show a “clinically relevant” difference between the drugs and a placebo, with researchers finding that patients had “severe” side effects and withdrawal symptoms. An estimated 7.8m people in England — roughly one adult in six — were given at least one prescription for antidepressants in 2019-20.  (The Week, 12/21/2021)
  • Police in India are investigating a charity started by the late Mother Teresa for alleged “forceful conversions”. Authorities in the state of Gujarat are investigating whether the Missionaries of Charity forced girls in its shelter home to wear a cross and read the Bible. The Telegraph said the probe comes as the Hindu nationalist government pursues a crackdown on the country’s Christian minority.  (The Week, 12/14/2021)
  • What Americans believe when it comes to matters of faith has been shifting for decades, and the latest Pew Research Center seems to indicate that the pace of change is accelerating. Today, the percentage of Americans that identify as Christians is the lowest that it has ever been before, and the percentage of Americans that identify as “nones” is at a new all-time record high.  (PNW, 12/16/2021)
  • The Queen is suffering “sleepless nights” over the Duke of Cambridge’s decision to fly with his wife and children in a helicopter, according to a royal source. The source told The Times that she is “terrified” about an accident. An unwritten rule preventing senior royals flying together was relaxed to allow Prince William to travel with his family between London and Norfolk, but an investigation has been launched after two near-misses.   (The Week, 12/20/2021)

WARNING OF NUCLEAR WAR WITH RUSSIA

Konstantin Sivkov, president of the National Geopolitical Academy and a Ph.D. in Military Sciences, said that the reopening of Lourdes will have both positive and negative consequences.
Colonel Konstantin Sivkov, 12/9/2021

Colonel Konstantin Sivkov, the Deputy President of the Russian Academy of Rocket and Artillery Sciences (RARAN), said in a December 9, 2021 interview on Russia Today TV that America recently gave Germany’s air force permission to equip its planes with American nuclear weapons, and has provided Germany with America’s nuclear battle plans. Colonel Sivkov said that as a result, the U.S. has pushed the situation in Ukraine to the brink of nuclear war, and he warned that if a nuclear conflict erupts, 160 of Russia’s submarine-launched nuclear missiles could turn a country like Germany into a nuclear wasteland.

In addition, he warned that Russian’s nuclear counterstrike would also target America, since the nuclear weapons possessed by Germany are American. Later in the interview, Colonel Sivkov said that an Iranian attack on Israel’s nuclear plants and reactors would make life in Israel “impossible,” while Iran’s nuclear installations are well fortified and are in mountainous regions that could only be penetrated by nuclear weapons. He also said that he does not think Israel would use nuclear weapons against Iran, because this might lead to retaliation by Russia or China and because its territory is so small.   (MEMRI, 12/13/2021)

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RUSSIA’S BIG PLANS FOR UKRAINE 

G7 foreign ministers warned Sunday of “massive consequences” if Russia invades Ukraine. It was the first joint statement by the group of rich democracies since recent satellite images revealed a significant buildup of Russian troops and military equipment on the border with Ukraine. Indeed, according to reports, the force that Moscow is massing near Ukraine is larger than the one it used to annex Crimea in 2014. This comes after the Pentagon said that Russia could have 175,000 troops on the border by the end of January in order to invade the former Soviet republic. In an attempt to lower the temperature last week, President Biden and Vladimir Putin held a long video call, but the Russian president was not deterred by Biden’s threat of more economic sanctions if Russia escalates further. Putin says he wants NATO not to expand membership any further into the former Soviet Union, and to stop military cooperation with Ukraine. Moscow will reportedly send a proposal for a security arrangement this week. But Putin, who has already indicated his willingness to threaten European energy markets, also knows all too well that while Washington talks a tough game, it is not willing to send in troops to defend Ukraine.  (Gzero Signal, 12/13/2021)

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SCOTLAND MADE THE UK

Why does Scottish nationalism get a free pass from the Left?   After all, the usual woke party line is that nationalists are prejudiced rabble-rousers.  Radical politicians and academics are fond of quoting Albert Einstein.  “Nationalism is an infantile disease, the measles of mankind.”

“Yet the same radicals, on both sides of the border, often hail Nicola Sturgeon as an enlightened, modern, progressive leader.  Where British withdrawal from the EU was seen as the work of populous bigots, Scottish withdrawal from the UK is seen as a reasonable democratic aspiration.  BBC presenters can’t mention French or American or Japanese nationalism without pursing their lips.  But Scottish nationalism, like Irish nationalism, is treated as a legitimate option.

“The reason, it seems to me, is that for a certain kind of Leftist, victimhood is the supreme virtue, trumping internationalism….

The idea that Scotland was annexed by its larger neighbor is preposterous – if anything, the impetus for unification came mainly from north of the border – but, in casting themselves as the champions of a subjugated people, the separatists catch the statue-smashing, anti-imperialism mood of our age . . .

If anyone felt colonized when James VI inherited the English crown in 1603, it was his new subjects, who feared that a swarm of landless lairds would swoop south with their sovereign to snap up sinecures.”   (“It was the Scots who made the United Kingdom,” by Daniel Hannan, The Covenant Nations, Vol 5, #8, 2021)

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SPREAD OF OMICRON VARIANT

Ohio and Rhode Island on Saturday became the 28th and 29th states to report cases of the Omicron virus variant.  Ohio officials said two cases were detected, both of which were among persons who were fully vaccinated more than six months ago.  Rhode Island officials confirmed one case. The patient is fully vaccinated and recently returned from New York.

Over half of the states in the country have confirmed cases of Omicron, a variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19.

Officials disclosed the vaccination status of 66 of the infected individuals. Of those, the vast majority, or 52, were fully vaccinated. Some had even gotten booster shots.

Most of the Omicron cases in the United States have been among the vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in an update on Friday. Most patients have experienced mild symptoms, and some have recently returned from trips from Africa or been in contact with somebody else who had.

No deaths from Omicron had been reported anywhere in the world since Omicron was identified by South Africa scientists last month until the recent death attributed to it in UK recently.

Early data indicates the variant, when compared to earlier strains, transmits more easily, can better evade the protection bestowed by vaccines, and may be able to better evade natural immunity, or protection from prior infection.

But COVID-19 cases caused by Omicron have been on average less severe. (“29 states have confirmed Omicron variant,” Zachary Stieber, Epoch Times, 12/12/2021)

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GETTING AROUND ABORTION RESTRICTIONS

The latest attempt to legalize abortion bans across the United States is “an assault on reproductive freedom, and it looks like it’ll work,” says Reshma Saujani on CNN.

Congress’s failure to codify abortion rights into law, along with state abortion bans and their increasing success, sends “a message to 40 million American women of reproductive age:  your rights are not the government’s problem.”  As “horrifying” as that sounds, Saujani continues, “there is at least another group of leaders who can help protect women’s lives and livelihoods in even a post-Roe v. Wade America:  employers.” As business leaders, Saujani continues, “we have the responsibility to look out for our people when politics leave them behind.”  That’s why, if necessary, “companies must give their employees enough paid sick days and medical leave to access reproductive health care, even if it’s states away.”   (The Week, 12/9/2021)

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US RECOGNIZES PALESTINIAN CLAIMS TO JERUSALEM

“The US does not want to open a consulate merely to have a place for diplomatic connections with the PA [Palestinian Authority].  If that is all they wanted, they could easily do this by opening a mission in Abu Dis or Ramallah – where most other countries conduct their relations with the PA… the purpose of opening the consulate is to recognize Palestinian claims to Jerusalem.” — Eugene Kontorovitch, professor, George Mason University, Antonin Scalia School of Law, Israel Hayom, December 5, 2021.  (Gatestone, 12/12/2021)

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ACT OF WAR

Recently in Israel, there was a minor debate about Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s choice of visiting the Cave of the Patriarchs to light the first light of Hanukkah.

For the Palestinians, this was nothing less than an “act of war.”  According to Palestinian Media Watch, the Palestinian Authority (PA) declared that the president “broke into the Ibrahimi Mosque and defiled it,” an act tantamount to a “declaration of war.”

Most Israelis who even heard about the PA’s incitement, probably met it with a shrug or amusement.

However, the terminology the Palestinians use should be considered more carefully because it is the language of war. It is not only used to incite and recruit the next terrorist, it is preparing Palestinians for a long drawn out war where Israel is the instigator.  (The Jewish Press, 12/8/2021)

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BENNETT MAKES LANDMARK VISIT TO UAE FOR MEETING WITH CROWN PRINCE — The first Israeli premier to openly visit Gulf state, will meet Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan to discuss ‘deepening ties’ between countries a year on from Abraham Accords  (Times of Israel, 12 Dec 2021)

Naphtali Bennet’s meeting with the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates scheduled for Monday morning. 

“The visit is meant to deepen cooperation between the countries in all fields. The leaders will discuss deepening ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, with an emphasis on economic and regional issues that will contribute to prosperity, welfare and strengthening stability between the countries,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

Bennett’s visit also comes as Israel and its Gulf allies fret about Iran’s nuclear program. Talks between Iran and world powers stalled again last week. (https://www.timesofisrael.com/bennett-to-make-historic-visit-to-uae-on-sunday-for-meeting-with-crown-prince/)

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CHARLEMAGNE’S OLD CAPITAL RENAMES STREET “MOSQUE PLACE”

The city is also changing the name of its squares…. The new name of a square in Aachen is “Moscheeplatz” (“Mosque Place”), a name desired by the Mayor Marcel Philipp, in agreement with the Turkish [Department of Religious Affairs] …

Then there is the question of demographics:  70% of Raunheim’s population are migrants. “Here we have more Muslims than Christians.” – Mayor Thomas Jühe, Social Democrats, Die Welt, November 16, 2021.

Despite this, they say that the “Great Replacement” and the Islamization of Europe are just conspiracy theories. Have we really understood what the Europe of tomorrow will be like?  (Gatestone, 12/8/2021)

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SCATHING POST ON BORIS JOHNSON

It is a national misfortune that we have a man who is by far and away the worst postwar prime minister in office at the time of the worst postwar crisis.  Johnson lacks any shred of integrity, is driven by ego and self-interest and has been prepared to mislead voters over and over again.  He is incompetent and embodies the entitled politician who sees politics as a game rather than a duty.  He is utterly unfit to govern Britain.  – Paul Johnson.  (A letter from author and historian Paul Johnson, posted on comedian John Cleese’s website)

BORIS JOHNSON FACES TORY REBELLION

Boris Johnson is facing his biggest challenge to his leadership so far as MPs today vote on new Covid-19 rules for England.  The Times said 78 Tories are expected to rebel against the prime minister’s plans, which he has described as a “proportionate” response to the Omicron variant.  On vaccine certificates, Marcus Fysh, a Conservative rebel, told the BBC:  “We are not a ‘papers please’ society.  This is not Nazi Germany.” The PM’s plans are still expected to pass the Commons, as Labour has said it will support them.  (The Week, 12/14/2021)

96 Conservatives MP’s voted against Boris Johnson.

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TURKEY’S DISASTROUS ECONOMY

Erdoğan’s biggest political rival ahead of the 2023 presidential elections seems to be – poverty.

The first decade of Erdoğan’s rule actually brought relative prosperity to Turks. Per capita GDP rose sharply from $3,688 in 2002 to $11,796 in 2012… Since 2013, however, reckless nepotism, increasing authoritarianism, corruption and economic mismanagement have boosted interest-rates, inflation and unemployment, bringing per capita GDP down to an estimated $7,500.

Nearly half of Turkish workers are minimum wage earners, meaning that millions of families must survive on $233 a month. (“Poverty, economic turmoil shaking Erdogan’s throne,” Burak Bedkil, Gatestone, 12/14/2021)

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TO THE POINT

  • Trump is the man whose every move and comment once dominated global news. But now that Twitter, his primary means of communication, has banned him, he has effectively been silenced. Ahead of the interview, I reflect privately on how astonishing — and deeply worrying — it is that the leadership of the Taliban is still allowed to use Twitter but Trump is not.   (Nigel Farage, Daily Telegraph, 12/1/2021)
  • “As Putin may see his destiny and legacy as returning Ukraine into a closer union with Russia, so Chinese President Xi Jinping seems to see his crowning achievement in the return of Taiwan to the motherland after almost a century of separation.” (Pat Buchanan, 12/10/2021)
  • UK:  Daily Omicron infections have hit 200,000 a day, the health secretary has warned after the variant claimed its first life in the UK. Warning of “difficult weeks ahead,” Sajid Javid said around 20% of confirmed Covid-19 cases in England had been identified as the Omicron variant.  After Boris Johnson announced his target of offering all adults a booster jab by the end of the year, waits of up to five hours were reported at some vaccination centres. The central booking website also crashed as it struggled to keep up with demand.  (The Week, 12/14/2021)
  • JK Rowling has compared a new police policy for transgender suspects to George Orwell’s 1984. After Police Scotland confirmed that it would record rapes by offenders with a penis as having being carried out by a woman if the suspect identified as female, Rowling tweeted:  “War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. The Penised Individual Who Raped You Is a Woman.”  The author’s tweet was an allusion to “doublethink” in Orwell’s novel, in which citizens are indoctrinated to believe contradictory ideas to prevent them from challenging the state.  (The Week, 12/14/2021)
  • “In the great power struggle of the present, among America, Russia and China, it is the Americans who are waging relentless ideological wars. And ideological wars often end in shooting wars.”  (Pat Buchanan, 12/14/2021)
  • UPDATE ON GRAYSON – Our three-year-old grandson, Grayson, will start receiving treatment for PANDAS and his autism on Friday.   The treatment lasts five days.   We would like to thank those of you who responded to the Gofundme that was posted a couple of weeks ago and for all your prayers.  We were truly humbled by your generosity and concern.  We would appreciate your continued prayers.  We hope and pray that he will be healed of the self-harming and sleeplessness.  And as God sees fit, a complete healing.

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FINAL THOUGHT

A commercial on British radio this morning (or afternoon, if you live on the other side of the pond), referred to the “never ending list of things to do.”

This statement is very true, but it also beggars the question “why do we have a never- ending list of things to do”?   With all the labor-saving devices at our disposal, shouldn’t life be easier and less stressful than it’s ever been? 

The biblical book of Daniel prophesied of such a time:

Daniel 12:4 says, “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end:  many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” (KJV)

There’s never been a time like it.   In centuries past, people may have worked 14-hour days, six days a week, but their lives were less stressful than ours.

. . . redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”  (Ephesians 5:16-17)

There is an over-whelming need for us to simplify our lives, “redeeming the time,” to put first things first and learn to pace ourselves better.  We need to “understand what the will of the Lord is.”   He doesn’t want us all stressed out all the time. 

PARANOID PUTIN PUTS PEACE ON PAUSE

Biden and Putin square off for 2 hours as Ukraine tensions mount. (Reuters)

Polls show that the majority of people in Ukraine want to join the EU and NATO, but their powerful neighbor, Russia, under Vladimir Putin is against both.    Russia ruled Ukraine until 30 years ago and never got over its loss.  Putin himself described the break-up of the Soviet Union as the greatest disaster of the twentieth century.

No doubt he will find a way to stop Ukraine from moving further away from Moscow.   Once again, he could use Russian speakers in Ukraine to bring about a pro-Russian government in Kyiv.

BIDEN IGNORING JIHADI THREAT

Like his former boss Barack Obama, Joe Biden began his presidency by using the executive branch to treat his critics as “domestic terrorists.” When it comes to counterterrorism, the Biden administration is proving to be the third Obama term.

Within months of his inauguration, Obama directed the Department of Homeland Security away from Islamist terrorism and towards “right-wing terrorism.” Biden is doing the same, but even more aggressively and with both the DHS and Department of Justice.  (A.J. Caschetta, MEF, 12/3/2021)

TERRORISTS CROSSING BORDER

AUSTIN, Texas — The press office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection offered no judgments in a recent press release pregnant with unspoken meaning — just the facts, ma’am. But I certainly can.

The nation’s main border policing agency put out a November 30 press release pointing out that in just one randomly selected time frame in just one of the Texas border’s overwhelmed sectors (Del Rio), during the third week of November, Border Patrol agents caught migrants from regions of the world bristling with Islamic terrorist organizations.

Two men from Syria were caught on November 23. One man was from Lebanon. Another hailed from Tajikistan. Still another arrived after a long journey from Uzbekistan. Six showed up from Eritrea, which sits in a dangerous northeast African neighborhood sharing borders with Sudan, Ethiopia, and Djibouti. (“Migrants from Terror-Plagued Regions are crossing the southern border,” Todd Bensman, MEF, 12/3/2021)

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AMERICAN TECHNOLOGY BENEFITS CHINA

US technology has enabled China to build and successfully test an advanced nuclear-able hypersonic missile that could… evade US missile-defense systems, and succeed in striking the US mainland.

Overall, billions of dollars have been raised for Chinese companies producing computer chips, according to the Rhodium investigation.

Apart from investments, US companies are supplying Chinese companies with the trained manpower to boost their own microchip industry. China is intensively recruiting senior engineers and executives from US companies and their China affiliates.

The semiconductor field in China is booming. More than 22,000 new semiconductor companies were reportedly registered in China in 2020, and another 4,350 in the first two months of 2021.   (Judith Bergman, Gatestone, 12/7/2021)

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COUNTERING THE SILK ROAD

With an infrastructure initiative worth up to €300 billion, the EU attempts to compete with China’s New Silk Road (Belt and Road Initiative, BRI). The initiative named “Global Gateway” was officially presented last Wednesday after bumpy preparations that were widely criticized as largely inadequate. It is intended to provide finances for the construction of roads, railways and digital links – infrastructure projects worldwide to be mainly undertaken by companies from EU countries. The pressure on Brussels to launch the initiative has recently increased. Despite temporary difficulties due to the Corona crises, the BRI has been quite successful with 142 countries participating so far. Only those powers in rivalry with Beijing are not participating – the USA, the leading West European countries (except Italy), Australia, India, Japan. Observers, however, are skeptical, because no concrete Global Gateway project has yet been named and significant portions of the financing have yet to be secured. A previous EU project has long been considered a failure.  (German Foreign Policy, 12/7/2021)

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COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of fear, manufactured by individuals who were in the nominal positions of authority as the virus began to spread across the globe last year, according to Yale epidemiologist Dr. Harvey Risch.

In an appearance on Epoch TV’s “American Thought Leaders” program, Risch, an epidemiology professor at the Yale School of Public Health and Yale School of Medicine’s Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, argued that by and large, what has characterized the entire CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic has been a “degree of fear and people’s response to the fear.”

“Overall, I’d say that we’ve had a pandemic of fear. And fear has affected almost everybody, whereas the infection has affected relatively few,” said Risch.

(“Covid 19 a pandemic of fear ‘manufactured’ by authorities: Yale Epidemiologist”, Isabel van Brugen & Jan Jekielek, Epoch Times, 12/5/2021)

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Pope says:  New meeting with Russian Orthodox patriarch possible 6 Dec 2021, Associated Press

Francis’ five-day trip to Cyprus and Greece has been dominated by the migrant issue and Francis’ call for European countries to stop building walls, stoking fears and shutting out “those in greater need who knock at our door.”

Pope Francis said Monday there are plans for a possible second meeting with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, after their historic 2016 encounter in Cuba became a landmark in mending relations severed by the 1,000-year-old schism that divided Christianity.  Speaking to reporters as he traveled home from Greece, Francis said he planned to meet next week with the Russian church’s foreign envoy “to agree on a possible meeting” with Patriarch Kirill. He noted that Kirill is due to travel in the coming weeks but also said he was “ready to go to Moscow” even if diplomatic protocols weren’t yet in place.  “Because talking with a brother, there are no protocols,” Francis said. “We are brothers. We say things to each other’s face like brothers.”

The two churches split during the Great Schism of 1054 and have remained estranged over a host of issues, including the primacy of the pope and Russian Orthodox accusations that the Catholic Church is poaching converts in former Soviet lands.

Francis made the comments after meeting with two prominent figures in Christian Orthodoxy, the heads of the Orthodox Churches in Cyprus and Greece during his five-day trip to those two nations. Meeting this weekend with Archbishop Ieronymos, the head of Greece’s Orthodox Church, Francis issued a sweeping apology for all the mistakes Catholics had made against Orthodox, echoing the apology offered by St. John Paul II in Greece in 2001.

The Feb. 12, 2016 encounter between Francis and Kirill was the first-ever meeting between the leaders of the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, which is the largest in Orthodoxy. The two men met in a VIP room of the Havana airport while Francis was en route to Mexico.  “We are brothers,” Francis said that day as he embraced Kirill.  (Copyright 2021, The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

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POPE LIBERAL ON SEX

The Pope has suggested that Catholics can worry less about “sins of the flesh.” During a question-and-answer session with journalists on his flight back from a trip to Greece and Cyprus, Pope Francis said “sins of the flesh are not the most serious” – unlike pride and hatred. Robert Mickens, editor-in-chief of the Catholic daily La Croix International, said the Pope is “being less rigid on sex.”  (The Week, 10/8/2021)

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HIGH BLACK DEATH TOLL

585 people of color were killed by Islamic hate groups in November, 2021. Another 285 were injured.

The most deadly attacks appear to have targeted Black people. 

32 blacks were massacred in Central African Republic on Nov. 28 when terrorists group attacked two villages, Kaita and Bayengou. Among the dead were two soldiers. The others were civilians.

25 blacks were killed in Niger during an Islamic hate group raid on a village there. That attack occurred November 16. 

27 blacks were killed within three days in Burkina Faso as Islamic hate groups targeted the nation’s police (gendarmes). One civilian died.

More recently, over 100 blacks were killed in Niger and Mali. Some of the dead were the attackers, themselves.   (Daily Ken, 12/8/2021)

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POINTERS

  • DIFFICULT YEAR FOR US FOREIGN POLICY – It is still early days in the Biden administration, but as far as foreign policy is concerned it has been a difficult year with a seemingly relentless flood of crises. The dramatic events in Afghanistan, with terrorism and people falling off airplanes, was certainly the most high-profile debacle. And while the AUKUS agreement against China seems promising, the year also saw Russia rewarded with Nord Stream 2 and undaunted on Ukraine’s borders. Elsewhere repression in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela continues mostly unanswered, while Iran, the likeliest biggest debacle of them all, looms. In Africa, the unfolding tragedy (begun during the Trump administration) in Ethiopia is clearly the primary challenge, with the volatile situation in Sudan in second place.  (MEMRI 12/7/2021)
  • DISTRUST OF US INSTITUTIONS — US politics is becoming even more tribalized as TV and online media target politically like-minded consumers with hyperpartisan news coverage. Widening wealth inequality fuels the fire by separating white and non-white, urban and rural, and the more educated from the less educated. Deepening public mistrust of political institutions will fuel future fights over the legitimacy of US elections.  (Gzero Signal, 12/7/2021)
  • ISIS Child Preacher Delivers Mosque Address:  Our Goal Is The White House, Not Baghdad Or Damascus; ISIS Weekly Glorifies Senior Commander Killed In U.S. Drone Attack In Kunar, Afghanistan:  14 Months After His Death, His Body Had Not Decomposed  (MEMRI, 12/6/2021)
  • Yvan Benedetti, the extremist nationalist leader of the French movement “Les Nationalistes” who announced that he will run in the 2022 French presidential election, has recently shared several posts endorsing the Hizbullah military wing on his affiliated Telegram channels. The EU designates Hizbullah’s military wing as a terrorist organization.  (MEMRI 12/7/2021)
  • The Australian prime minister has said his government officials will not attend the Beijing Winter Olympics, joining the US in a diplomatic boycott of next year’s Games. Speaking to reporters in Sydney, Scott Morrison cited human rights abuses in Xinjiang as one of the factors Australia had “consistently raised”. The Chinese embassy in Canberra accused Australian politicians of “political posturing” and suggested that the diplomatic representatives had not been invited anyway.  (The Week, 10/8/2021)
  • Olaf Scholz replaced Angela Merkel as Chancellor of Germany today. (12/8/2021)

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IF VACCINES ARE THE MARK OF THE BEAST, THEN WHERE IS THE BEAST?

“And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:  And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.”  (Revelation 13:16-17 NKJV)

The new Omicron variant from South Africa is half as bad as other variants but spreading twice as fast.  It’s yet another twist in the never-ending Covid saga.

The death toll from Covid remains at less than 1%, which puts it on a par with the flu.   This fact was recognized by Norway, which has abolished all restrictions.

Many people believe that this is the biblical Mark of the Beast.   And that could turn out to be the case.  Governments are increasingly inclined to make the Covid vaccine compulsory.   Governments have also taken the opportunity to increase their control of people.

Austria and Germany, at the heart of the prophesied Beast, have both made it mandatory for all people to receive a vaccine.   Restrictions on work and leisure are very much a part of the Covid, non-vaccinated, restrictions.

These facts point to a fulfillment of the prophecy.

But, then, where is the Beast?

To answer that, we need to look further and deeper into what is going on in the world, beyond Covid.

America is in decline and has been for a couple of decades.   It’s just more obvious now.  In the first year of the Biden administration that decline has speeded up.  Even his supporters admit that foreign policy is his greatest weakness.   Add that to economic policy, presumably his strength, and there’s a recipe for greater decline.  The dollar cannot hold its value forever with so much over-spending.

Europe will be the center of the Beast.   But European economic and defense ties are global.  “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”  (Revelation 13:8)

The Beast power will rise suddenly, most likely at a time when the US is in serious trouble.  

”The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.”

If Covid vaccines are indeed the mark of the beast, the Beast power can’t be far behind.

FEAR OF NEW EUROPEAN CONFLICT

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (Image source: © РИА Новости / Пресс-служба МИД РФ)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned that Europe could be returning to what he called the “nightmare of military confrontation.”

At a European security conference in Sweden, Mr. Lavrov floated the idea of a new European security pact to try to stop Nato from expanding further east.   US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned of “serious consequences” if Russia sought conflict with Ukraine.

The meeting comes as Russia boosts its military near Ukraine’s border.   Ukraine says Russia has amassed more than 90,000 troops there.   Moscow denies it is preparing an attack on Ukraine and accuses Kyiv of its own military build-up.  (BBC 12/2/2021)

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Trump ally calls for ‘one religion’

Donald Trump’s former national security adviser has called for “one religion” in the US to win a battle of good versus evil. CNN said Michael Flynn made the comment during a speech to a conservative Christian audience on the ReAwaken America tour in Texas. “If we are going to have one nation under God, which we must, we have to have one religion,” he said. “One nation under God and one religion under God, right? All of us, working together.” 

Flynn is a Catholic. (The Week, 11/16)

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Emad Al Swealmeen: the motivation for Liverpool taxi bomb examined

The suspected terrorist who appeared to blow himself up outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Remembrance Sunday has been named as 32-year-old Emad Al Swealmeen. Officers from Counter Terrorism Policing North West have said that they “strongly believe” Al Swealmeen was the passenger who was proclaimed dead at the scene when the taxi he was in exploded. The driver, named locally as David Perry, managed to escape before the vehicle burst into flames at a drop-off zone near the hospital’s entrance. It was claimed that Perry, who has been heralded as a hero, locked Al Swealmeen in the cab.   (The Week, 11/16/2021)  (https://dennis.slgnt.eu/optiext/optiextension.dll?

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Move to Jerusalem, or Else!Government threatens financial sanctions against ministries that fail to move their offices to the capital by Ryan Jones, 15 Nov 2021, Israel Today

Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. It’s a fact that much of the rest of the world is belatedly accepting.   If only Israel could get its own government ministries to do the same. 

Israel Today has in the past spoken to Israelis who complained that it was no use trying to convince the rest of the world that Jerusalem was the capital of the State of Israel when its own Ministry of Defense and other major government bodies remained in Tel Aviv.  Israel’s new “government of change” is looking to, well, change that.  Cabinet ministers on Sunday voted in favor of a plan requiring all ministries and government offices within the next 120 days to either obtain a special exemption or submit a detailed plan to move to Jerusalem.  Ministries and government offices that fail to meet the deadline will have their budgets for furniture and renovations revoked, and will start paying rent on the Jerusalem properties earmarked for their use, even if those properties remain unused.  Currently some 100 government units operate outside the capital, including the Israel Prison Service, the Health Ministry’s food division, the police fraud and traffic units, and the tech divisions of the ministries of transportation and education.  “The government decision passed today is another part of correcting Jerusalem’s status as the capital and governing city of Israel, and it is extremely important,” Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion told Ha’aretz.  Some are worried that the influx of government offices will exacerbate Jerusalem’s traffic problems and make the capital even more overcrowded. 

But others insist that strengthening the Holy City’s status as the eternal and undivided capital of Israel trumps all other concerns.(https://www.israeltoday.co.il/read/move-to-jerusalem-or-else/)

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‘Experts’ told you if you complied with lockdowns, censorship, masks and vaccinations — life would return to normal. ‘Conspiracy theorists’ told you Covid was never going to end, and governments would use it to usher in a totalitarian new world order. Who do you believe now? — Candace Owens

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KEEP YOUR EYES ON GOVERNMENT SPENDING

“Keep your eye on one thing and one thing only: how much government is spending,” Milton Friedman once said.  Today his eyes would be popping.   Governments have spent $17 trillion on the pandemic, including loans and guarantees, for a combined total of 16% of global GDP.  On current forecasts government spending will be greater as a share of GDP in 2026 than it was in 2006 in every major advanced economy.   America is about to put $1.8 trillion into expanding its welfare state; Europe is doling out a 750 billion euro  ( $850 billion) investment fund; and Japan is promising a “new capitalism,” with even more government largesse.”  (“The triumph of big government,” The Economist, 11/20/2021)

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THE END OF US DOMINANCE IN THE PERSIAN GULF

The incoming German government should intensify its efforts to gain influence at the Persian Gulf, thereby assuring that the EU can be “an actor” in the “global contest” for obtaining regional power. This demand is raised by the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) in its current position paper, due to the power vacuum that is developing from the US focus on its power struggle against China, and therefore withdrawing from the Middle East. The People’s Republic of China, on the other hand, is strengthening its position, not only in Iran, with which it had concluded a 25-year “strategic partnership” last March and is seeking means for circumventing US sanctions, but in Arab Gulf countries as well. Beijing, for example, is also expanding its activities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and in Saudi Arabia – and is supplying them with 5G technology from the Huawei corporation, that Washington is so fiercely opposing. Appeals to Berlin and Brussels to strengthen the EU’s position in the region have so far been in vain. The DGAP warns that, in light of the global “rebalancing of power, ” raising the question of whose order will prevail.  (German Foreign Policy, 11/23/2021)

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CHINESE SAVING FACE DEMANDS TAIWAN

There is an error in the excerpt from Memri below.   Taiwan was separated from China in 1895.  It was ruled by Japan until the end of World War II, then was briefly reunited with China.

The Kuomintang government retreated to Taiwan in 1949 after the Communist Party seized power in mainland China. Since then, Taiwan and mainland China have been divided for 72 years. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has yet to achieve its cherished “reunification,” and this is its biggest concern, since not achieving the annexation would mean a “national humiliation.” Consequently, to seize Taiwan is a matter of “honor” (荣耀) for the CCP, which cannot afford to lose its national prestige as well as its legitimacy as the sole representative of the Chinese people. In fact, the concept of “honor” is deeply rooted in Chinese culture. An ancient Chinese saying goes: “A man can be killed but not humiliated.”

In Chinese culture, the notion of “honor” is connected to the “face” (面子). The “face” concept is so important that “losing face” may even be more frightening than the loss of life itself. Hence, “saving face” is a very important factor affecting judgment and choices.  (MEMRI, 11/29/2021)

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THE BAD GUYS ARE WINNING

“If the 20th century was the story of slow, uneven progress toward the victory of liberal democracy over other ideologies — communism, fascism, virulent nationalism — the 21st century is, so far, a story of the reverse,” Anne Applebaum writes in this tour de force for The Atlantic. From Venezuela, to Belarus, to Russia, to China, she details the myriad ways in which the “bad guys” are winning. “If America removes the promotion of democracy from its foreign policy, if America ceases to interest itself in the fate of other democracies and democratic movements, then autocracies will quickly take our place as sources of influence, funding, and ideas,” she concludes. “If Americans, together with our allies, fail to fight the habits and practices of autocracy abroad, we will encounter them at home; indeed, they are already here. If Americans don’t help to hold murderous regimes to account, those regimes will retain their sense of impunity. They will continue to steal, blackmail, torture, and intimidate, inside their countries—and inside ours.” (The Atlantic, 11/17/2021)

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Holocaust Museum removes photo of Mufti of Jerusalem with Hitler   (Jihad Watch, 11/29/2021)

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AMERICA IN TROUBLE

 “America is still the world’s greatest power.  But since the late 2000’s its ability to deter foes and reassure friends has waned.   George Bush’s invasion of Iraq ended in failure.  Barack Obama drew a “red line” against the use of chemical weapons but did nothing when Bashar al-Assad crossed it in Syria.  Donald Trump scorned America’s allies. Joe Biden ditched Afghanistan.

“Other countries sense, not exactly a vacuum, but many areas of the world where American power is unlikely to be deployed vigorously.  Mr. Biden said he had to ditch Afghanistan to concentrate on China.  If all his attention is on China, other regimes may calculate that they are free to flex their muscles elsewhere.”   (Geopolitics, The Economist, 11/27/2021).

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POINTERS

  • “Indeed, of all of the Black folks who will have died of homicide or murder in D.C., Baltimore, Philly and New York this year, how many will have been shot or stabbed by Proud Boys, Three Percenters, Oath Keepers, white vigilantes, white supremacists or rogue white cops?”  (Return of ‘law and order’ issue, Pat Buchanan, 11/30/2021)
  •   So many people nowadays are described as heroes, I thought I would look for a definition of the term. . .  Here it is.  A definition of “hero”:  a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.  With that definition in mind, could somebody please explain why the singer Rihanna was called a hero when she attended celebrations in her homeland of Barbados?  The event was the birth of the Republic of Barbados, which has now ceased to be a Commonwealth Realm.   The event on the 300,000-population island was also attended by Prince Charles.
  • COVID-19 is a serious disease, but it bears constant repeating that the recovery rate now is between 97% and 99.75%.   (Gatestone, 12/2/2021)
  • Call the Midwife” has been consistently one of the most heartwarming shows on television.  Now in its tenth year, it seems set to go on indefinitely.  It’s only just reached 1966 so it has a long way to go.  Unfortunately, a recent episode dealing with abortion, legalized in the UK in 1967, suggested that all the Anglican nuns at Nonnatus House supported the change in the law.   In the same episode, when a young mother from India turned out to have been traumatized during Partition, the doctor in the series remarked on how it was all Britain’s fault, and that it was due to “arrogance and stupidity.”   And there was me thinking it was due to the fact that the Hindus and the Muslims hated each other.  Silly me!
  • UK army to leave Canada base – British armed services are to leave Canada after 50 years and move their biggest training base to the Middle East. The British Army Training Unit Suffield in Alberta, western Canada, has been in operation since 1972. The thousand-square-mile base, seven times the size of Salisbury Plain, has trained thousands of soldiers. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace is expected to announce that the military will open a training area in Oman to take its place.  (The Week, 11/24/2021)
  • Hamtramek   becomes first US city to have an All-Muslim council
  •   “[We are being more effectively challenged militarily today than at any other time in our history.” — US Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, September 20, 2021.   (Gatestone, 11/16/2021)         
  • An ancient philosopher is attributed to once observing that a nation can survive deprivation or even a battlefield defeat but it cannot survive the loss of confidence in its leadership.  (Gatestone, 11/29/2021)

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FINAL THOUGHT

In a book on European history, The Forge of Christendom, by Tom Holland, published in 2008, I came across the following quote: “The faith is Europe.  And Europe is the faith.”   (Hilaire Belloc 1870-1953;  Mr. Belloc was a famous historian, writer and satirist.   He was also a committed Catholic.)

This statement reminds me of certain passages in scripture.   Daniel 7 and Revelation 17 are all about the church-state relationship that has been the norm for 2,000 years.   Prophecy shows that this system will rise again to form a powerful political and military system at the time of the end.

12 “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. 13 These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast. 14 These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.”

A GoFundMe for Grayson

This is a GoFundMe we posted 4 days ago. I’m sharing it here. There is no blog this week but there will be next week.

The ravages of autism have touched our family . . . twice. And we know we are not the only family who is suffering with this disorder. Our oldest grandson is 9 and he is a joy, although he has his difficulties, for sure. He is unable to attend school but is higher functioning than our youngest grandson, who is severely autistic. The youngest is the reason for this GoFundME.

His name is Grayson. And he is a beautiful child. No, he is not dying. But he is not really “living,” either. His struggles are immense and there seems to be no help that has had any substantial effect on him. He is 3 years old, about 50 lbs and so tormented. He doesn’t respond to his name or much else said to him. Like he’s just not “there.”

He fights like a tiger all diaper changes and just getting dressed. He will not keep shoes on – if you are lucky enough to even get them on him. He will strip his clothes off at first opportunity. No matter what we clothe him in, every time he poops he gets into it if we are not right there when it happens, and it is easier to shower him than to attempt to use wipes for a diaper change. He has dwindled his food choices down to next to nothing. He will vomit at the smell and/or texture of many foods. He wakes up in the middle of the night for 2-5 hours or more screaming (daughter hasn’t slept for so long she can’t remember what it feels like). Then he gets so frustrated (because he is nonverbal and cannot communicate) that he just punches himself in the face or pounds his legs. He bangs his head so hard on floors, walls, or anything, it scares us. Helmets send him into complete melt downs/violent outbursts and that is if we can keep them on him. Needless to say, he is bruised, and to look at him just breaks your heart, let alone to see it happening.

This self harm is the worst aspect to deal with. And it’s exhausting. My daughter is physically, mentally, and emotionally drained. She has two other boys in between the two autistic ones who suffer in that it’s difficult to give them the attention they need amid all the chaos. The only thing we can get from the medical field is to drug Grayson. And maybe we are very close to caving in on that for the sake of everyone’s sanity, but we feel that is a last resort. As he cannot be left alone in a room for more than a minute, it is to the point that my daughter is having to choose between working and staying home and caring for him 24/7 as there is no affordable help with his many challenges. And we are too old to be enough help.

We were alerted to a practice that not only gives us hope for his future, but his immediate future, as it brings about results fast, which would enable my daughter to keep her job, which she needs to provide for these children. This is what this GoFundMe is for. This place is near St. Louis, MO, and works with energy and frequencies, amongst other modalities, and has had dramatic success with autistic children in a short amount of time. They also treat many other conditions. Someone close to us went there recently and had her life changed immeasurably almost instantly by these methods. Not a complete cure (and we don’t expect that) but if they can change ANY aspect of what this child is going through, make any of it less intense, provide any relief, or give him some peace, we will be so grateful! The treatment is for 3 days, an 8-hour session each day (with breaks), with follow up by Skype if we need to consult. And the cost is about $7,000. That doesn’t include getting there and accommodation/meals.

We are desperate to get him some real help as soon as is humanly possible. So we are putting this GoFundMe out there to see if anyone is moved to be a part of this, however small. The link is here: https://gofund.me/614b507d. And if not, prayers are always really, really appreciated!

Bless you and thank you for reading this,

Melvin and Diane Rhodes

CLIMATE CHANGE ABOUT TRANSFER OF WEALTH

Jeff Bezos takes his $65M private jet to UN climate change conference, 400 other private jets also fly in. (https://jet.ms/news/bezos-takes-his-65m-private-jet-to-un-climate-change-conference-400-other-private-jets-also-fly-in-boing-boing/)

“At root, almost every globalist and transnational institution and summit has a common feature: the endless transfer of wealth from the First World, the historic oppressors, to their alleged Third World victims.”  (Pat Buchanan 11/9/2021)

What would happen if a doomsday cult were to take over the world? Science fiction? No. It’s happened. 

How else to explain the collective lunacy of the COP26 meeting in Glasgow, an absolute farce where world leaders made complete fools of themselves?  

There’s been much criticism of the hypocrisy of the event, with hundreds of private jets flying into Glasgow to hector the world about reducing carbon emissions.

Far, far worse has been the total erasure of rationality in the hysterical chorus that this was the “last chance to save the planet” — and the fact that no-one in mainstream debate has challenged this as utter unscientific garbage. (Melanie Phillips, 11/3/2021)

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The Great Organic-Food Fraud

There’s no way to confirm that a crop was grown organically.  Randy Constant exploited our trust in the labels—and made a fortune.
by Ian Parker, The New Yorker, 15 November 2021 issue
(https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/11/15/the-great-organic-food-fraud)

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Nelson Mandela Bay [Port  Elizabeth & area] Day Zero:  ‘We will run out of water before Christmas’

‘We are weeks away from the dams running dry, rather than months,’ says the expert sent by the National Treasury to help the metro deal with this imminent crisis. ‘We are cutting it really fine.’ Is anybody listening? by Estelle Ellis

Nelson Mandela Bay metro (NMBM) is hurtling towards the worst-case scenario. 

With only weeks of water left in the metro’s dams, its Plan B is failing because of delays in the completion of the Nooitgedacht Water Scheme – and yet residents have not reduced their water consumption.  “If it doesn’t rain and consumption is not drastically reduced, we will run out of water before Christmas,” said Dr Gisela Kaiser. Kaiser has been seconded by the National Treasury to Nelson Mandela Bay to try to steer the city through the water crisis.

(https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2021-11-06-nelson-mandela-bay-day-zero-we-will-run-out-of-water-before-christmas/)

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GERMANY AIDS TAIWAN

Germany should “vigorously” promote “Taiwan’s greater representation in international organizations,” as demanded by the USA, and “in the long run” insist on its UN membership. This is a growing demand by representatives of foreign policy think tanks in Berlin and by commentators in leading German media organs in the context of a US campaign aimed at undermining the UN resolution recognizing the People’s Republic of China as the sole legitimate representative of China at the UN. The campaign, in turn, is part of Washington’s efforts to instrumentalize Taiwan more than before in its power struggle with Beijing. Washington is upgrading Taipei’s armaments – with arms export clearances worth US $18 billion under the Trump administration. With US warships crossing on a monthly basis through the Taiwan Straits, it is intensifying its gunboat diplomacy and is beginning to permanently station US troops on Taiwan, while planning to deploy medium-range missiles on the “first island chain” off China, including Taiwan. (German Foreign Policy, 11/4/2021)

Parallel to a US campaign to reinforce Taiwan in the joint power struggle against Beijing, the European Parliament is calling for a “comprehensive enhanced partnership” with Taipei. On Wednesday a parliamentary delegation arrived in Taiwan, for the first time, to hold talks with top-ranking politicians with the aim of further developing relations. The European Parliament also advocates taking additional steps, which would undermine the “One China Policy” and thereby chop at the roots of diplomatic relations to the People’s Republic of China. The EU’s representation in Taipei, for example, should be renamed the “European Union Office in Taiwan” – a linguistic detail, which of course, carries weight in the diplomatic world and signifies a step in the direction of Taiwan’s formal recognition. The latter is incompatible with diplomatic relations with Beijing. The new Taiwan campaign goes hand-in-hand with a campaign against the external cultural policy of the People’s Republic of China, in particular, its Confucius Institutes. Demands to shut them down are now being heard.   (German Foreign Policy, 11/7/2021)

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THE FOURTH REICH

‘The Fourth Reich’ – German Neo-Nazis And White Supremacists, Influenced By Founding Member Of The Red Army Faction (RAF) Horst Mahler, Advocate For Replacing German Government With State Modeled After Third Reich, Seek To Inspire Global Neo-Nazi Movement

German neo-Nazis and white supremacists have been using the term “Fourth Reich” to refer to an imagined establishment of a new German state, based largely on the national socialism of the Third Reich. The establishment of the imagined state would involve the retrieval of West and East Prussia, (territory that is currently Poland and Russia), Silesia (territory that is today Poland and Czech Republic), Pomerania and East Brandenburg, parts of which were made part of Poland after WWII.  (MEMRI 11/5/2021)

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AFGHANISTAN

British and Canadian troops were more than twice as likely to get killed in Afghanistan as their US counterparts, according to a study that looks at the scale of the sacrifice made by Nato allies over the course of the 20-year war.

The UK also gave more to Afghanistan than the US in the form of economic and humanitarian assistance as a percentage of GDP, the study published on Wednesday by the Costs of War project at Brown University in the US found.

Although the US suffered by far the greatest number of fatalities in absolute terms compared with other members of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) – 2,316 American troops were killed between 2001 and 2017, the period of the study – Canadians and British soldiers sent to Afghanistan were more likely to die.  (The Guardian, 2021)

Taliban Orders:  Western Hairstyles Are In Violation Of Shari’a; Women Forbidden From Carrying Phones, Taking Selfies; Shaving Beards Is Outlawed; Taliban Arabic Magazine:  US Veteran Suicide Is A Prayer Answered By Allah  (MEMRI, 11/7/2021)

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JEWISH INVOLVEMENT IN CREATION OF MODERN IRAQ

On August 23, 2021, Iraq celebrated its centennial. There was little of the pomp and celebration that the occasion would have called for; the country was too heavily weighed down by political turmoil and economic hardships. Still, a few articles in the local newspapers were written celebrating the occasion, and some spent time praising the name of an Iraqi Jew, Heskell Sassoon, as one of the key architects in the creation of modern Iraq after four centuries of Ottoman rule.

As the Ottoman Empire begun to crumble toward the end of World War I, the Jews of Baghdad were victimized for supposedly causing the collapse of the government’s finances and some moneychangers faced degradation and torture. Not surprisingly, the Jews welcomed the British army when it entered Baghdad victoriously in 1917. Indeed, there is evidence that shortly after the British military government was established, the Jews of Baghdad, who constituted about 40 percent of the capital’s population, sent an appeal to the military governor of Iraq, General Stanley Maude, signed by 56 leading personalities of the community, expressing their objection to the creation of an Arab national government and requesting to be granted the status of British subjects.

The request was ignored, but Jews came to be important in the colonial government. With the language skills they had acquired at the Jewish schools and with what today would be termed a global outlook, Jews in large numbers were recruited by the British military government to fill many positions in the new administration. Other Jews used their trading skills and overseas contacts to import food supplies to meet the needs of the British army.

In 1920 a deadly revolt erupted in central and southern Iraq against the British rule which the British tried to suppress by force. The revolt claimed the lives of 6,000 Iraqi and 600 British soldiers (primarily Indians with their British officers.). After months of fighting, the key leaders of the revolt decided to seek an end to the violence. They selected a Jew by the name of Menashe Eliahu Ezra Khalaschi who, together with Sheikh Salman Al-‘Abtan, met with the British commanding officer in the city Kufa, and a ceasefire was achieved. 

With the revolt coming to an end, Great Britain decided to relinquish some of the governing powers to a national government, although under British tutelage. A provisional government was established in 1920 with Abdul Rahman Al-Naqib as prime minister presiding over a government comprising six additional ministers, including Heskel Sassoon as minister of finance. Gertrude Bell, who was the Oriental Adviser to the British military government, who is considered by some to be the person most responsible for the creation of modern Iraq, was a big booster of Sassoon. She would later write that he was the most competent of the Iraqi ministers.

Haskell Sassoon was born in Baghdad in 1860 to a distinguished and wealthy Iraqi Jewish family. The son of a leading rabbi, he attended the Alliance School, and continued his education at the imperial school in Constantinople and then with law studies at St. Theresa College in Vienna. He returned to Baghdad after spending time in Berlin and London and, in 1908, he was designated as a member in the first Ottoman parliament where, incidentally, he befriended Prince Faisal, who was to become king of Iraq.

Al-Naqib readily welcomed Bell’s recommendation to appoint Heskell Sassoon as minister of finance, but Bell had difficulty persuading him to add a Shi’ite minister to the government. Throughout most of the history of Iraq under Muslim rule, from the advent of Islam in the seventh century to invasion of Iraq by the United States in 2003, the rulers of Iraq were primarily Sunni Muslims. The Shi’a branch of Islam has been viewed by the Sunnis, particularly those in Saudi Arabia, as rawafedh, meaning apostate. Gertrude Bell, herself believed that the Shi’as “were almost all subjects of Persia, and not eligible for office in a Metropolitan government,”  but she believed it was important for national unity to include them. Al-Naqib reluctantly agreed to appoint a Shi’ite as minister of education. The new government, also known as the Provisional Council of State, reported to the British administration.   (MEMRI 9/20/2021)

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TO THE POINT

  • In Michigan, prosecutors said that a female Muslim doctor facing a charge of obstruction of justice performed female genital mutilation (FGM) procedures on nine 7-year-old girls. The doctor was “part of a secret network which traveled across the U.S. to perform the agonizing procedure,” the court was told. The network belongs to the Dawoodi Bohra cult, whose national presence was exposed by Clarion Intelligence Network.   (Clarion Project, 9/23/2021)
  • Europe is at “critical point” in the Covid-19 pandemic after once again becoming the “epicentre” of the global outbreak, a World Health Organization boss has warned. On the current trajectory, Hans Kluge told a press conference yesterday, the continent may be facing another half a million coronavirus deaths by the beginning of February.  Many countries are “in the midst of a virulent fourth wave,” said Politico. German authorities reported 34,000 new infections on Thursday, a record high, and hospitals there are “beginning to buckle under the pressure” as intensive care beds fill up, Deutsche Welle reported.  (The Week, 11/5/2021)
  • France is returning 60 artefacts to the west African nation of Benin taken from there in 1896, when the country was first colonized.   It all sounds really good.   The problem is that Benin is not the most stable country in the world.  During an upheaval, it’s quite likely the same items could be stolen, as they were in Iraq some years ago.
  • General Colin Powell died a couple of weeks ago.   He is generally considered a great man.   But he had at least one major flaw.  In an interview I saw with him, he said how much he looked forward to America’s first Muslim president.   He obviously lacked in perception!
  • The COP26 conference in Glasgow really is a farce.    China’s president is missing.   The US and India are there.  They are the next two biggest polluters.   Russia comes in at number 4.  Again, Russia’s president is not there.   Greta Thunberg is there and keeps making the headlines.   The only question there is:  who’s behind her?   The biggest farce of all is all the private jets at Glasgow’s airport.   The representatives are collectively the biggest polluters on the planet!
  • Apparently, President Biden on his visit to Britain for COP26, made a loud noise, with resultant smell, while next to Camilla, Prince Charles’ wife.    This could, of course, happen to anyone.   It particularly afflicts old men.  It reminded me of a story the Queen told over dinner some years ago.   She had been to the airport to welcome a visiting foreign head of state.  They rode in an open carriage through the streets of London.  Suddenly, one of the horses let out the same loud noise with resultant smell.   It was so loud the queen felt she had to address it.   She remarked “You see, Mr. President, there are some things even a queen has no control over.”  To which the visiting president responded, “If you hadn’t said anything, your Majesty, I would have thought it was the horse!”   The president was Nigeria’s General Gowon, though many thought it was the US president, George W. Bush.

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I Corinthians 13:8 Remember in these troubled times, “Love never fails!”

IS THIS THE BEGINNING OF A NEW COLD WAR?

Jerusalem calling (AFP file folder) 200 House Republicans, led by Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), have signed a letter opposing President Joe Biden’s plan to put a consulate in Jerusalem to deal specifically with the Palestinians — a move opposed by Israel, and against international law. Jerusalem calling (https://www.breitbart.com/middle-east/2021/11/01/200-republicans-sign-letter-opposing-bidens-palestinian-consulate-in-jerusalem/) (Picture courtesy of AFP file folder)

Is This the Beginning of a New Cold War Between Biden and Israel?by Jonathan S. Tobin: editor in chief of JNS–Jewish News Syndicate. Follow him on Twitter @jonathans_tobin.

As far as Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid are concerned, this week has brought a perfect storm of circumstances that threaten to complicate their hopes for a better relationship with the United States. Both men, each for their own reasons, see establishing a good rapport with President Joe Biden and his administration as one of the main goals of their coalition government that took office in June. But blistering criticism was issued by the US State Department on two issues: its renewed commitment to reopening a US consulate in Jerusalem and settlement building in the West Bank. On top of that is the news that Iran is returning to nuclear talks in Vienna. These were body blows to hopes that their ousting of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is viewed by Biden’s team as the devil incarnate, would ensure the president’s goodwill and protect them against the kind of hostility that was the hallmark of US attitudes towards Jerusalem the last time Democrats were in power.

The question Bennett and Lapid need to be asking themselves is whether, even without having Netanyahu as their antagonist, this administration is really prepared to return to the situation between the two countries that existed in December 2016. If so, the Jewish state is in for a rough ride in the coming years. The arguments for a worst-case scenario for a rapid and steep decline in amity between the two nations are strong.

…former defense secretary Robert Gates admirably summed up his career, Biden has been wrong about every important foreign policy issue for 40 years. He always tells listeners how much he loves Israel, but also thinks he knows better than its leaders and its people what is in their best interests. He believes in applying “tough love” to naughty Israelis who need American guidance. Biden also doesn’t take kindly to criticism. 

Biden has grown even more thin-skinned since then, as his consistently short-tempered responses to non-sycophantic questions from citizens and journalists alike have shown in the last two years.

…Unlike Obama, who had political capital to burn on futile Middle East policies and a pointless feud with Netanyahu, Biden has none to spare. 

Israelis can only hope that he is wise enough not to waste any on equally foolish spats with whoever is running Israel in the coming years.

(https://www.algemeiner.com/2021/10/31/is-this-the-beginning-of-a-new-cold-war-between-biden-and-israel/)

LEBANON WOULD BENEFIT FROM PEACE WITH ISRAEL

I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”  (GEN 12:3 NKJV)

In a recent column in the London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Nadim Koteich, a Shi’ite Lebanese journalist and media figure known for his opposition to Hizbullah, wrote that this organization is holding Lebanon hostage and is beggaring the country, for instance by preventing it from reaching an agreement with Israel that would enable it to exploit its natural gas resources. Referring to the deal that is currently under discussion, for alleviating Lebanon’s energy crisis by importing gas from Egypt and electricity from Jordan, Koteich wondered why, as a country on the shores of the Mediterranean, Lebanon could drill for its own offshore gas.

What prevents this, he said, is Hizbullah’s culture of perpetuating the conflict with Israel in order to justify its existence as an armed organization. It is this ‘conflict first’ strategy, he explained, that keeps Lebanon from reaching understandings with Israel on the demarcation of the maritime border, which would enable it to drill for gas.   Koteich called on the Lebanese to free themselves of Hizbullah’s grip and sign a peace agreement with Israel, since there is no ideological dispute between them but only technical problems that can be resolved.  (MEMRI, 11/2/2021)

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ANTI-TURKISH ALLIANCE FORMING IN NATO by Burak Bekdil,  Ankara-based political analyst and a fellow at the Middle East Forum

The emerging military pact within NATO that brings together the allies Greece, United States and France is bad news for Turkey — that is, if its President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan intends to fuel tensions in the Aegean and Mediterranean seas as part of his campaign strategy before presidential elections in 2023.

In recent months, Greek diplomacy has made a number of smart moves on the difficult chess board called the Aegean. These moves, coupled with Turkey’s increasingly pressing problems at home and on foreign fronts, will restrict Erdoğan’s aggression to “aggressive rhetoric” only, and rule out “aggressive action.”  (MEF, 10/29/2021) 

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PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS IN CHINA

Christianity has significantly grown in China since the Communists seized power in 1949.  What began as a population of less than half of a million Chinese Christians has since expanded to as many as 130 million followers of Jesus Christ in China.

But the marginal toleration of Christianity that existed in China for decades has since been destroyed by General Secretary Xi Jinping as the Party’s abuse against Christians reaches its highest level since the Cultural Revolution.

.The influence of Christianity in China is deeply feared by the atheist CCP.  According to state media, Christianity is seen as a “foreign religion” that has “long been controlled and utilized by colonialists and imperialists.”

The free practice of Christianity, from the perspective of Party leaders, undermines the absolute authority of the Chinese Communist Party. The dictatorship has witnessed the role that faith played in the fall of communism during the Cold War, namely through the resilient leadership of Saint John Paul II.  (Ambassador Callista L. Gingrich, 10/30/2021)

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EU RAPID REACTION FORCE

Ideas for a European Army have long been debated within the EU, which has as its purpose a civilian alliance – thus many have long argued it doesn’t need a military force – which would also be controversial as a parallel force to NATO.

But Germany along with four other European Union countries are now a new EU “rapid reaction force” in order to respond quickly to any future military crisis. (https://www.dw.com/en/germany-4-eu-states-launch-military-reaction-force-initiative-report/a-59574641)   The group including Finland, the Netherlands, Portugal and Slovenia is pursuing the initiative, citing the lessons learned from Afghanistan and the disastrous pullout which saw many European nationals get stranded in the Taliban-controlled country, with not enough flights or personnel available to evacuate them.

German media outlet dpa days ago confirmed the plan after it obtained new internal documents, describing that the five countries are aiming “to expand the existing EU battle groups, which are multinational military units of 1,500 personnel each on standby to respond to crises.”

“The new force is expected to include space and cyber capabilities, along with special forces and air transport,” indicated. (https://www.dw.com/en/germany-4-eu-states-launch-military-reaction-force-initiative-report/a-59574641

Currently, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer is in favor of the initiative, saying in a recent interview that EU forces within NATO are only able to conduct defensive operations within the context of United States support. Thus there’s a desire for a more independent force that can deploy rapidly without seeking broader US and NATO approval first, or going through NATO hurdles.  (zerohedge 10/26/2021)

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WEST LOSING INFLUENCE IN WEST AFRICA

The West’s significant loss of influence in Mali is affecting the debate on the future of the Bundeswehr mission in the Sahel. While Berlin – in light of the defeat in Afghanistan – is suggesting that the intervention in the Sahel should not become “the next 20-year mission,” the transitional government in Bamako is contemplating recruiting mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner Group, as Plan B, in case there is a partial or complete western withdrawal. Plan B is linked to the expansion of military cooperation between Mali and Russia launched in June 2019, with the signing of an agreement. The prospect of closer cooperation with Moscow is met with growing sympathy within the Malian population. At the same time, Turkey is also consolidating its position in the Sahel by expanding its economic and cultural influence and training Malian officers. Following Syria and Libya, Mali is, therefore, the next country, where the Western powers are losing their influence while Russia and Turkey are enhancing theirs.  (German Foreign Policy, 9/24/2021)

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TO THE POINT

  • “Consider. The world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide is China, which burns half of the world’s coal and is building new coal-fired plants even as the 30,000 summiteers gather in Glasgow… Neither Chinese President Xi Jinping nor Russian President Vladimir Putin will even be present in Glasgow.”  (11/2/2021)
  • How many prime ministers has Queen Elizabeth had? — The Queen has had over 170 individuals serve as her realms’ prime ministers throughout her reign, the first new appointment being Dudley Senanayake as Prime Minister of Ceylon and the most recent being Philip Davis as Prime Minister of Bahamas; some of these individuals have served multiple non-consecutive terms in …  (wikipedia)
  • NIGERIA IS NUMBER 2 – India has long been the world’s biggest producer of movies in the English language, beating Hollywood many years ago.   For some time, Hong Kong was in second place.   Now Nigeria has replaced Hong Kong as the world’s second biggest producer of English language movies.   But don’t expect your local cinema to change its program soon!
  • Bosnia is in danger of breaking up, warns top international official – Exclusive:  high representative says threat by Serb separatists to create their own army risks return of conflict.  by Julian Borger: The Guardian, World affairs editor, 2 Nov 2021 — The international community’s chief representative in Bosnia has warned that the country is in imminent danger of breaking apart, and there is a “very real” prospect of a return to conflict.  In a report to the UN seen by the Guardian, Christian Schmidt, the high representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that if Serb separatists carry out their threat to recreate their own army, splitting the national armed forces in two, more international peacekeepers would have to be sent back in to stop the slide towards a new war.  International peacekeeping duties in Bosnia are currently the task of a residual EU force (Eufor) that is 700 strong. Nato retains a formal toehold with a headquarters in Sarajevo. The year-long mandate for both is up for renewal this week at the UN security council, but Russia has threatened to block a resolution unless all references to the high representative are removed, potentially undermining Schmidt’s authority as the overseer of the 1995 Dayton peace deal.  In his first report since taking up the post in August, Schmidt, a former German government minister, warned that Bosnia was facing “the greatest existential threat of the postwar period.”  The Bosnian Serb leader, Milorad Dodik, is threatening to pull out of state-level institutions, including the national army built up with international assistance over the past quarter century, and reconstitute a Serb force.  (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/nov/02/bosnia-is-in-danger-of-breaking-up-warns-eus-top-official-in-the-state)
  • Neo-Nazi And White Supremacist Groups In U.S., Europe Host Summer Camps Geared Toward Youth And Families Featuring Speeches Promoting White Supremacist Ideology And Intensive Training In Combat, Firearms, Drones, And Martial Arts  (Memri, 10/28/1021)
  • Polish Antisemitic Film About Global Jewish Conspiracy Airs In Warsaw Cinema, Promoted By Leading White Supremacist, Ultranationalist, And Neo-Fascist Channels, Including Channel Operated By Government-Funded Party (Memri, 10/7/2021)

For those employed by mainstream media, Norway is a country that’s north of mainland Europe, on the left.

"Once in a while you will stumble upon the truth but most of us manage to pick ourselves up and hurry along as if nothing had happened." — Sir Winston Churchill