ZAMBIA NOW IN CHINA ORBIT

Zambia’s New Debt Reveal Tells Us About the ‘China Debt Trap’ Theory —
Photo credit: https://thediplomat.com/2021/10/what-zambias-new-debt-reveal-tells-us-about-the-china-debt-trap-theory/

Zambia’s creditors, led by China, will give the cash-strapped African country enough debt relief to unlock a $1.3 billion IMF loan it desperately needs to get back into the black. It’s the first time that Beijing has coordinated with other governments to restructure the debt of a low-income country instead of collecting on its own. This is good news not only for Zambia but also for other nations that owe a lot to China such as Sri Lanka, which has already defaulted, and Pakistan, which could be next. Zambia, the first country to default after COVID struck, is often cited as a glaring example of China’s so-called debt trap diplomacy. But President Hakainde Hichilema, elected in late 2021, has successfully leveraged the country’s vast copper reserves to reassure both the IMF and China (the latter wary of the bad optics of squeezing African countries). The deal also puts pressure on private creditors to give more breathing room to heavily indebted nations grappling with high inflation and a strong US dollar. But there’s a catch: private investors will have to agree to at least as much debt relief as public creditors.  (Gzero Signal, 8/1/2022)

ONGOING UKRAINIAN WAR

Russia’s war in Ukraine escalated on multiple fronts over the weekend, particularly with heavy shelling in the southern city of Mykolaiv that killed businessman Oleksiy Vadatursky. The death of Vadatursky, head of one of Ukraine’s top grain exporting companies, came before grain shipments finally resumed Monday from the country’s Black Sea ports. Meanwhile, Ukraine claimed it killed dozens of Russian soldiers near Kherson, crucial for the Kremlin’s supply lines in the Donbas region. But Kyiv had to play defense as well, as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ordered the mandatory evacuation of civilians in the eastern Donetsk province, indicating that fighting is likely to get even more intense there. Finally, Russia was forced to cancel Navy Day in Crimea after a drone attacked its Black Sea Fleet from inside the Russian-occupied peninsula. President Vladimir Putin had earlier announced a new security doctrine with global maritime ambitions and declared America as Russia’s greatest enemy.  (Gzero Signal, 8/1/2022)

DEATH OF DEMOCRACY IN COUNTRY THAT STARTED THE ARAB SPRING

Last week, the birthplace of the Arab Spring took a sharp turn away from democracy as voters in Tunisia passed a constitutional referendum granting President Kais Saied wide-ranging powers, weakening the country’s parliament and sidelining its judiciary.

The vote represents a “symbolic end to the Arab Spring”, said NPR. The pro-democracy revolution that began in Tunis in 2010, before spreading to Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and Syria once stirred hope in millions of people across the Arab world. A decade later, those democratic dreams have been almost entirely dashed.  

In Egypt, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi bears an increasing resemblance to Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian ruler the Arab Spring ousted; Saudi intervention in Bahrain has long since overturned the revolution there; Libya has suffered ten years of war since Nato-led air strikes helped rebels overthrow and kill Colonel Gaddafi; and across the Middle East, “disasters have replaced hope”, said the New Statesman.

For over a decade, Tunisia was the one outlier – the last hope for reforming how politics was done in the Middle East. No longer.   (The Week, 8/1/2022)

The US has ordered non-essential staff and their families to leave Mali and urged visiting Americans to be vigilant, because of a heightened risk of terror attacks. “Terrorist and armed groups continue plotting kidnappings and attacks in Mali. They may attack with little or no warning, targeting night clubs, hotels, restaurants, places of worship, international diplomatic missions, and other locations frequented by Westerners. Attacks may target Malian government offices, infrastructure, or locations frequented by Westerners,” an updated US State Department travel advisory warning said. The warning comes a week after an attack on an army base near the capital, Bamako.  (The Week, 8/1/2022)

THREAT OF WAR WITH CHINA

The UK’s national security adviser has warned that a “breakdown of communication” is increasing the risk of nuclear war between the West and China or Russia.

Stephen Lovegrove argued that the erosion of backdoor channels between rival superpowers has created a higher risk of “rapid escalation to strategic conflict.” 

  • “During the Cold War, we benefited from a series of negotiations and dialogues that improved our understanding of Soviet doctrine and capabilities, and vice versa,” Lovegrove said in a speech in Washington D.C. “Today, we do not have the same foundations with others who may threaten us in the future – particularly with China.”
  • The warning comes amid “growing concern in Western capitals that China is pulling ahead in the race to develop the next generation of weaponry,” The Times reported. Tensions are increasing after Beijing warned of “serious consequences” if US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi goes ahead with a reported plan to visit Taiwan.
  • And warning from Kim Jong Un that North Korea is “ready to mobilise” its nuclear weapons in any future clash with the US or South Korea has further increased fears of a global war. (The Week, 8/1/2022)

ANOTHER THREAT

If there is any benefit to be realized from the collision between China and the U.S. over Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s proposed trip to Taiwan, it is this: America needs to reflect long and hard upon what it is we will fight China to defend in the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea.

China, after all, is a nuclear-weapons nation with a manufacturing base larger than our own, an economy equal to our own, a population four times ours and fleets of warships larger in number than the U.S. Navy.

An air-naval-and-missile war in the Western Pacific and East Asia would be no cakewalk.  (Pat Buchanan, 8/2/2022)

GERMANY AND CHINA

Berlin is considering an intensification of its confrontational policy toward the People’s Republic of China. This is apparent in a strategy paper recently presented by the CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation. The proposals in the paper include an intensified interference in the domestic affairs of China, “public campaigns,” accusing Beijing of “disinformation and propaganda,” as well as attempts in Africa to alienate China, as a cooperation partner. At the same time, the “resilience” of the domestic population must be strengthened – for example, with “a strategic media and information policy in Germany and the EU.” To weaken the People’s Republic’s position in the global economy, the CDU’s foundation suggests that the globally anchored WTO be replaced by a new alliance merging the G7 with the OECD (“WTO of the West”). The foundation points out, however, that Chinese resistance and massive damage to German enterprises are to be expected – at a time when Germany’s economy is already beginning to suffer heavily under the war of sanctions against Russia.

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TO THE POINT

  • Therefore, Berlin’s best move would be to assume a much more autarkic, proactive, and assertive role on the world stage in accordance with the full weight of its national power. Otherwise, it will fade into oblivion as its fate is determined by external stakeholders. Being at the mercy of others is obviously dangerous for any rational state, particularly in times of trouble. Hence, the Germans will probably soon experience a rude awakening whose consequences will be felt for generations to come. The clock is ticking.  (Geopoliticalmonitor)
  • Thanks to the assassination of the former Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, a couple of weeks ago, Japan has come under some scrutiny.  Whereas the US had 45,000 deaths by guns in 2021, Japan had one.  The Japanese population is 127 million.  Mr. Abe’s assassin made his own gun at home. 
  • The party of diversity is led by people who strongly prefer to live in all white neighborhoods.  – Tucker Carlson.
  • “Why would we risk our own peace and security for Taiwan’s freedom and independence, when we would not risk our own peace and security for the freedom or independence of Hong Kong?” (Pat Buchanan, 8/2/2022)

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FINAL THOUGHT

As I write, Nancy Pelosi has just arrived in Taiwan, for a brief visit that has truly angered China.

It’s quite a contrast to Newt Gingrich’s visit 25 years ago.   Mr. Gingrich visited Taiwan immediately following his visit to China.   The Chinese seemed to accept this.

Both Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Gingrich at the time of their visit were Speaker of the House, making them third in the hierarchy of the US government.

The difference has nothing to do with the American visitor.  But it has a lot to do with American decline, relative to China.

We’ve come down considerably, while China has risen.

China, with 1.4 billion people, has a bigger military than the US.    It also has a great deal of clout around the world.  Projects around the world have given them a number of allies.

The Bible says that:

“. . . He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding (Daniel 2:21).”

When it comes to foreign policy,  President Biden has suffered many set-backs (Afghanistan,  the Middle East, and now Taiwan).   The rest of the world sees all this happening and concludes that the US is in decline.   But, at present, there is nobody to take over her leadership role.   Over 70 years ago, as the British Empire went into decline, America was able to take over as the world’s policeman.

Another power will arise to replace the US.  It’s not likely to be China.  

But God is truly “removing kings and raising up (new) kings.”

JEWS TOLD TO LEAVE RUSSIA

Former Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky

JEWS TOLD TO LEAVE RUSSIA

Ex-Jewish agency head urges Russian Jews to move to Israel before possible shutdown. This comes a day after the Justice Ministry in Moscow reportedly asked a local court to rule on the liquidation of the Jewish Agency in Russia, citing violations of the law.

Russian Jews should move to Israel as soon as possible, former Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky urged on Friday, less than a day after Moscow called for the aliyah organization’s liquidation in Russia. (Haaretz, 22 July 2022) 

ARABS CRITICIZE BIDEN’S POLICIES

  • Arabs point out that one of Biden’s biggest mistakes was that he took America’s Arab allies for granted while embarking on a policy of appeasement towards Iran’s mullahs.
  • The behavior of the Obama and Biden administrations regarding Iran and Afghanistan served as a wake-up call for the countries of the region.” — Ali Hamadeh, Lebanese Journalist, Annahar, July 20, 2022. 
  • The Arabs are telling Biden that they do not appreciate or respect weak leaders and remain concerned about his appeasement policy toward the mullahs and their proxies in the Middle East.   (Gatestone, 7/26/2022)

DICTATORSHIPS HAVE THE ADVANTAGE

“History teaches that prolonged conflicts bleed both sides, but dictatorships have an advantage over democracies. They are not accountable to their societies and can pay the price of blood, even with opposition from their citizens . . . Does the transatlantic free world still want to occupy a position of leadership? Do we still believe in the universality of values ​​such as freedom and the right of national self-determination?” — Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Politico, June 27, 2022  (Gatestone, 7/24/2022)

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GERMANY’S PM CALLS ON BERLIN TO HELP FUND FRENCH NUCEAR WEAPONS

BERLIN, July 23, 2022 (Reuters) – Germany should contribute towards the costs of France’s nuclear arsenal as the threat of nuclear war with Russia looms over Europe, German political veteran Wolfgang Schaeuble said in an interview published on Saturday.  “Now that Putin’s accomplices are threatening a nuclear strike every day, one thing is clear to me: we need nuclear deterrence at the European level as well,” Schaeuble, a former finance minister who has served as a member of the German parliament for five decades, told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.  France has such weapons, he said, adding: “In our own interest, we Germans must make a financial contribution to the French nuclear force in return for a joint nuclear deterrent.”  The conservative, who has long been a passionate supporter of European integration, became a European household name during the 2012 eurozone debt crisis, when fans hailed him as a guardian of fiscal rectitude even as opponents accused him of imposing damaging austerity on Greece and other indebted countries.  

Asked whether his proposal would give Berlin a say on using nuclear weapons, the former conservative minister said France and Germany would have to come to an agreement as neighbors and NATO partners.  Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has triggered the most serious crisis in relations between Moscow and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, when many people feared the world was on the brink of nuclear war.  France – one of three NATO members with nuclear weapons, alongside the United States and Britain – has around 300 nuclear warheads in its arsenal, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).  (https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/germanys-schaeuble-calls-berlin-help-fund-french-)   (7/23/2022)

NATURAL GAS FROM AFRICA CONTROVERSIAL

The intensified use of African countries as a source of natural gas for Europe is meeting growing criticism on the African continent. This is resulting from decisions, taken last year by a group of prosperous industrialized nations during the Climate Conference in Glasgow (COP26), which foresaw halting funding of oil and gas extraction abroad. This, on the other hand, would mean that it would be more difficult for Africa to use natural gas as a source of energy. Today, 600 million people in Africa still have no access to electricity. Natural gas is considered a suitable source of energy for rectifying this, with the least possible impact on climate. Now, however, European countries have executed an about face and are insisting on natural gas supplies from African countries – to free themselves of their dependency on Russian gas and to reinforce their boycott against Moscow. Sharp criticism is being raised by numerous African states. A former top UN representative accused this European approach of being “paternalist” and hypocritical.” In their quest for liquefied natural gas (LNG), European countries continue to buy up deliveries away from southern Asia’s poorer countries.  (German Foreign Policy, 7/24/2022)

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PAPAL VISIT TO CANADA

Penitent Pope:  The Pope touched down in Canada last night for a visit in which he will apologise for the harms done by Catholic-run residential schools across the country. Pope Francis called the visit a “pilgrimage of penance” and said he hopes to make amends for the wrongs done to indigenous people in Canada by the Roman Catholic Church. Some 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children were taken from their families and placed in residential schools, the majority of which were run by the Catholic Church, as part of a decades-long policy meant to assimilate indigenous children and destroy indigenous cultures and languages. More than 4,000 indigenous children died either from neglect or abuse in the schools. The pope’s five-day itinerary will include stops in Quebec, Alberta and the northern territory of Nunavut.  (The Week, 7/25/2022)

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DANIEL PIPES RESPONDS TO WSJ ARTICLE

To the Editor:

Instead of lecturing Israelis, Saudis and others, know-it-all U.S. policy makers should start learning from them.

Walter Russell Mead’s scathing op-ed “Can Biden Correct Obama’s Mideast Errors?” (July 16) makes an oft-neglected point that U.S. politicians and advisers must absorb: Their liberal bromides, brewed up by human-rights and anti-Israel activists, are increasingly despised in the region itself. “Arabs and Israelis alike remember the serial failures of the Obama administration,” writes Mr. Mead. They wondered, as the Biden administration dug in, “if the days of condescension and arrogance had returned.”

Mr. Mead is right. It is time for know-it-all U.S. policy makers to recognize the Democrats’ terrible record from Libya and Egypt to Syria and Iran and culminating in Afghanistan. Instead of lecturing Israelis, Saudis and others, they should start learning from them and their bitter experiences. Maybe then the U.S. can again develop worthy policies.

Daniel Pipes
President, Middle East Forum
Philadelphia  (WSJ 7/22/2022)

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TO THE POINT

  • “. . . An unrelenting stream of immigration, nonstop, nonstop.  Folks like me who were Caucasian of European decent, for the first time in 2017, will be in an absolute minority in the United States of America, fewer than 50% of the people in America from then on will be white European stock.  That will be the source of our strength.”  – Joe Biden, February 2015, from C-Span video clip (7/23/2022)
  • “OIL HAS BOUGHT EVERY POLITICIAN” – New analysis has found that the oil and gas industry has delivered $2.8bn (£2.3bn) a day in pure profit for the last 50 years, The Guardian reported. Prof Aviel Verbruggen, author of the study, said the $52tn amassed by petrostates and fossil fuel companies since 1970 has allowed the sector to “buy every politician, every system” and delay action on the climate crisis. His analysis used the World Bank’s oil rent and gas rent data.
  • BBC APOLOGIZES TO FORMER ROYAL GRANNY – The BBC is paying damages to the ex-nanny of princes William and Harry over false claims made about her to obtain a 1995 interview with Princess Diana. The corporation said it was “extremely sorry for the serious and prolonged harm” caused to Alexandra Pettifer, who is better known as Tiggy Legge-Bourke, and her family following the broadcast. There had been unfounded allegations she had an affair with Prince Charles and an abortion.
  • HEALTH SERVICE IN CRISIS – NHS and social care services face their worst workforce crisis in history because of chronic staff shortages, a cross-party committee of MPs has found. The report warned that patient safety is at severe risk with 12,000 hospital doctor posts and more than 50,000 nurse and midwife jobs unfilled in England alone. The MPs also criticised the “absence of a credible government strategy.” Reporting on the “bombshell” findings, The Mirror said exhausted NHS staff are quitting “in droves.”  (The Week, 7/25/2022)
  • The head of Russia’s investigative committee has announced that Moscow has charged 92 members of the Ukrainian armed forces with crimes against humanity. Alexander Bastrykin told state media that more than 1,300 criminal investigations had been launched. Meanwhile, Ukraine has warned that a deal to export grain via the Black Sea will stall if there are further Russian airstrikes on key ports. The warning came after Saturday’s missile attack on a port in Odesa.   (The Week, 7/25/2022)
  • 7% — The percentage of Indonesia’s 270 million people believed to eat dog meat, according to Dog Meat Free Indonesia, a group that campaigns against the dog meat trade. Although 87% of Indonesians are Muslim and view dog products as haram (forbidden) in the same way as pork, the rest of the country does not share the same religious conviction. While animal rights groups object to the trade and consumption of dog meat on the grounds of cruelty and say it carries public health risks including rabies and other diseases, many Indonesians “see eating dog meat as no different than consuming chicken or beef,” according to Al Jazeera, and reject the idea that it should be banned.  (The Week)
  • Zelenskiy says Odesa strike shows Russia will find ways not to implement grain deal.  Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russia’s missile strike on the port of Odessa on Saturday demonstrated that Moscow would find ways not to implement the grain deal struck with the United Nations, Turkey and Ukraine. (23 July 2022, Reuters)
  • Vatican slams German reformers, warns of potential for schism.  The Vatican rebuked the progressive “Synodal Path,” which seeks more agency for lay members, saying it has no authority on doctrine. They warned that issues taken up by the group could split the Catholic Church. [Rome] made clear that it views the Synodal Path’s calls for addressing homosexuality, celibacy, and women in the Church as divisive . . .  Members of the Synodal Path, a group made up of equal numbers of German bishops and lay Catholics, meet regularly. In February, they called on the Catholic Church to allow priests to marry, women to become deacons, and same-sex couples to receive the Church’s blessing.(https://www.dw.com/en/vatican-slams-german-reformers-warns-of-potential-for-schism/a-62559108, Deutsche Welle, 23 July 2022)
  • Olaf Scholz announces bailout for Germany’s largest Russian gas importer. Chancellor unveils government plan to take 30% stake in Uniper, as country struggles to cope with drastic cut in supplies (+ Russia-Ukraine war: latest updates. * Guardian, 22 July 2022)(htps://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jul/22/olaf-scholz-announces-bailout-for-germanys-largest-russian-gas-importer-uniper)

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FINAL THOUGHT

The National Health Service is the biggest employer in Europe.    According to Skynews it needs an additional 475,000 people.  Sky also reported that a further 490,000 positions are needed in social care.  

What wasn’t mentioned is that all the illegal aliens arriving on Britain’s shores in their tens of thousands are entitled immediately to free medical care.  And free education for their children.  And free hotels, with three free meals per day.  And they are given 39 pounds a week to spend on themselves.  This all comes to 5 million pounds ($6 million) per day. 

The need for more money must, in part, be due to increased demand on medical services.

With long wait times for some surgeries, more and more British people are dipping into their savings to receive private medical care.

There is a certain inevitability to the expansion of government.  Here we see a warning from the Bible.

10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 

11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 

12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 

13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 

14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 

15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 

16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 

17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 

18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

(I Samuel 8)

CBS Morning had a segment a couple of Fridays ago about the protestors on January 6, the so-called insurrection.  Most of them came from northern “rust belt” cities.   They also said that many came from cities where large numbers of immigrants were settled, altering the make-up of their historic communities.  Resentment built up, with the inevitable consequences.

So, we see both countries’ governments deliberately contributing to significant changes.   Governments fail to understand that the people are not happy with this.   There is a sense they are losing their country.

There will be more real insurrections in the future.  Governments will keep on expanding, spending more money on the new arrivals (and others).

Brief update on Grayson:

Grayson is currently doing reasonable.  He has his ups and downs, tho.  He takes homeopathic meds and supplements and is on a sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and grain-free diet.  And he is a fussy eater! 

He is banging his head slightly less, still doesn’t wear clothes most of the time but will keep them on for outings . . . most of the time.  He is still nonverbal.  His hands and forehead heal up some, then he has a bad day – so hands and head have good days and bad days, too.  We are using a massager to stimulate the vegus nerve and hope that will show some positive results soon. 

He will start ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis ) soon – they think they can help with some of his behaviors. And if he is with them 40 hours (their suggestion) per week (in home), his mother can go to work again.  She had to quit when my wife went into hospital for a-fib and CHF.  No normal daycare can take him so she had to take care of him herself.  My wife can no longer handle him.  And I am in hospital with a-fib and a mini stroke.  So it has been a bit of a struggle for a couple of months all round. 

We are always grateful for your continued prayers.

NO BLOG THIS WEEK

Apparently Melvin has had two mini strokes behind his left eye and is spending a couple days in the hospital to check everything out. It will involve a medication change but he should be alright. I’m sure he will resume his blog next week. — Diane

UK  IN TURMOIL

The United Kingdom has been in a state of turmoil for almost two weeks now.  Firstly, the ruling Conservative Party turned increasingly against Prime Minister Boris Johnson, forcing him to resign a week ago.  Now, the Conservatives are going through a lengthy process to choose a new leader.

One thing stands out – and that is the number of “minorities” in the running.   The left-of-center Labor Party should hang its head in shame, as they always have a white male leading them.

Boris was involved in so many scandals, they eventually brought him down.   It has also been suggested that this is revenge for Brexit.  If that’s the case, he is the fourth Conservative Leader in rapid succession to fall victim to Europe.

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An investigation endorsed by top human rights lawyer Helena Kennedy has concluded that Turkey should face charges in front of the international court of justice for being complicit in acts of genocide against the Yazidi people. The report has also found that Syria and Iraq failed in their duty to prevent the killings. The Guardian said it is “widely accepted” that genocide was attempted against the Yazidis, a religious minority group, from 2013 in Iraq and Syria. Geoffrey Nice QC, chair of the Yazidi Justice Committee, described the genocide of the Yazidi people as “madness heaped on evil.” (The Week, 7/6/2022)

Freedom of religion is a right that must be “embedded” in all areas of life including “government education, business, the media, and social media, and right across our communities,” said Prince Charles. In his opening remarks at the International Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief, the Prince of Wales said the world stands “at a crossroads” and “there is a choice to be made between totalitarian and liberal societies.” The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Chief Rabbi and the foreign secretary also addressed the conference.  (The Week,7/6/2022)

UK:  The boss of Lloyds Bank said 80% of customers have less than £500 of savings in their accounts. Charlie Nunn said the lender saw customers with persistent debt problems increase by a third in the first six months of this year. However, he added, many customers have increased their balances in the last few years and are in a healthier position than they were before the pandemic. Nunn told the BBC that credit card spending was up significantly, driven by the return of the travel industry.  (The Week, 7/6/2022)

EU

Germany and the EU depend on Chinese companies for access to Lithium, one of the most important raw materials for the energy transition. Chinese companies dominate the global lithium sector – not only in mining, but also in processing and battery production. For the US to catch up to China in the lithium sector, it could take decades and at least US $175 billion in investments, according to estimates. The required investment would be no less for Germany and the EU. This is all the more significant, because experts are predicting a serious shortage of lithium in the years to come. Chinese producers would be at an advantage over their European competitors in the production of electric cars, whose batteries consume the bulk of the lithium being mined globally. Experts already expect that, in the foreseeable future, Chinese electric car manufacturers will conquer the cheaper segment of the European market, which European car manufacturers neglect. One of Germany’s flagship sectors would thus come under pressure on the domestic market.  (German Foreign Policy, 7/6/2022)

RUSSIA WARNS ISRAEL TO LEAVE SYRIA ALONE

In a stunning escalation between Russia and Israel, the Russian government has issued a serious condemnation and warning to Israel, that it must stop its airstrikes against Iranian positions in Syria.

Gone are the days when Israel was able to freely attack Iranian positions in Syria, while making sure to stay away from Russian interests in the Levant.

As the Bennett-Abbas government has now slipped into the Lapid-Abbas government, Putin’s demands appear to be rising on the Jewish State. Whether this is a product of Lapid’s own strong stance against Russian aggression in Ukraine or its just a matter of changing needs for the Russian ruler, Russia is coming hard against Israel.

“We strongly condemn such irresponsible actions that violate the sovereignty of Syria and the basic norms of international law, and we demand their unconditional cessation,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in a statement.

This statement was made after Israel undertook a rare daytime mission to strike at an Iranian shipment of advanced arms in the Syrian port of Tartus. Tartus also houses many Russian military personnel and equipment. (David Mark, American Liberty, 7/6/2022)

Experts are skeptical concerning the widely praised results of the western summits (EU, G7, NATO) that took place over the past ten days. The EU summit has produced an astounding result – granting Ukraine and Moldova candidate status, they note. However, how real the prospects may be for Ukraine, should be cast in serious doubts, given the fact that the EU continues to renege on its accession promises to the non-EU countries of Southeastern Europe. Concerning NATO’s announcement to massively militarize its eastern flank, they wonder where the resources should come from. Arming Ukraine, as the sole focus, should be abandoned in favor of negotiations with Moscow. Observers also note that, with its 600 Billon Dollar infrastructure initiative, the G7 summit has produced a “pipedream” with questionable substance. According to experts, the BRICS states are currently more successful:  More countries seek to join their alliance. The West may well “lose” the current power struggle. (German Foreign Policy, 7/4/2022)

JAPANESE LEADER ASSASSINATED

Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe has died after being shot while campaigning in the southern city of Nara. He was airlifted to hospital in a critical condition but died soon afterwards from his injuries.

Prime minister Fumio Kishida described the attack on the 67-year-old Abe – who was Japan’s longest-serving PM – as “barbaric and malicious”, a sentiment that has been echoed by world leaders who have expressed their shock at the incident. Abe’s brother, the current defence minister Nobuo Kishi, described the shooting as a sacrilege against democracy.

A 41-year-old male suspect was arrested at the scene and is now in police custody. He is thought to be Tetsuya Yamagami and a resident of the city, with no known occupation. Images from the scene suggest that the assailant used an improvised or homemade weapon.

(https://dennis.slgnt.eu/optiext/optiextension.dll?ID=v32v2sp83Lu_uuyzTr0BVfErJrcJBK2vWx9u3f4zBlXcEq7fDbdzZ_iLhx2KEXtZHoL5G0lCHx7VMJMdqQ9wXiHAZY_

PROGRESSIVE ISLAMIZATION IN BRUSSELS

“[I]n the Brussels region as a whole only a quarter of Belgians are of Belgian origin…. Molenbeek is in fact only the tip of the iceberg of the progressive Islamization in all the major Belgian cities. Islam is increasingly visible in the public space of Molenbeek, and in the month of Ramadan almost all the shops and restaurants in the city are closed during the day. In many neighborhoods, women are no longer able to dress however they want or go out at night, and homosexuals have no right of citizenship. There are, however, hardly any voices to worry about this development, as if French-speaking Belgium, anesthetized in unison by the multicultural media, had resigned itself.” — Alain Destexhe, Le Figaro, May 3, 2022   (Gatestone, 7/10/2022)

Germany building LARGEST army in Europe as Scholz vows Kyiv support ‘as long as necessary’ Germany is in the process of building the largest military in Europe, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a pledge that marked a 360-degree turn in the country’s historic stance on defence (by Teresa Gottein Martinez, Express, 29 June 2022)

Post-Cold War Germany steadily reduced the size of its army from around 500,000 troops at the time of reunification in 1990 to just 200,000. Its military spending has for decades been notoriously cautious – until Berlin’s approach abruptly changed in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February. Days after the start of the full-scale war, Mr. Scholz announced a €100billion ($105-billion) fund to beef up Germany’s military defences and offset decades of chronic underfunding – none of which is directly linked to the delivery of weapons to Ukraine. He also promised to meet NATO’s target of spending two percent of GDP on defence as well as boosting its high-readiness forces from the current 40,000 to more than 300,000 troops. This followed years of criticism from close allies that the Bundeswehr was falling short of contributing enough to the Alliance. In an interview on public television ARD after the G7 group of the world’s richest nations met in Bavaria, the Chancellor said Germany, alongside the United Stared, made “certainly the largest contribution” to the North Atlantic Alliance.

(https://ewn.co.za/2022/06/30/stage-8-power-cuts-or-higher-a-real-risk-for-south-africa-energy-experts-warnOlaf Scholz has vowed to build Europe’s biggest army) 

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. … for great is your reward in Heaven…” (Mat 5:9-12).

WATCH:  Abbas’ Fatah party gives 7-year-olds military training to fight Israel | World Israel News. (July 10, 2022)

“When they love their children more than they hate us, there will be peace” – Golda Meir

India will overtake China as the world’s most populous country in 2023, said a report from the UN. As the pace of mortality slows, the world’s population, estimated to reach eight billion by 15 November this year, could grow to 8.5 billion in 2030 and 10.4 billion in 2100, found the report, which was released on World Population Day. UN Secretary-General António Guterres said a growing population was a reminder of our shared responsibility to care for the planet and that we should “reflect on where we still fall short of our commitments to one another.”  (This Week, 7/12/2022)

(I and the family are all sick this week (and last in most cases), so my blog is shorter than usual.)

BRITAIN MISSING MERKEL

L to R: Prime Minister of Italy Mario Draghi, European Union Council Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, US President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida, French President Emanuel Macron and European Union Council President Charles Michel pose for a group photo on the first day of the three-day G7 (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10955515/G7-meeting-Bavaria-Boris-Johnson-rallies-group-fight-Ukraine.html)

Boris Johnson arrives in Bavaria on Sunday for the annual G7 summit of world leaders, hosted this year by the new German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. It will be all smiles when the two men greet at the beautiful Schloss Elmau hotel, a luxury spa high in the Bavarian Alps.

But beyond the handshake diplomacy, Johnson finds himself facing a center-left leader who has decided to break ranks with the discreet style of his predecessor Angela Merkel and deliver clear, public rebukes to London over its Brexit maneuvering.

Five senior politicians and officials within Scholz’s administration confirmed the new German chancellor has chosen to adopt a more robust public stance than his predecessor’s sometimes-opaque utterings over Brexit.

This has played out in speeches, public comments and across the airwaves since Britain published the Northern Ireland Protocol bill earlier this month.

The bill would grant British ministers powers to disapply parts of the protocol, a central part of the Brexit divorce deal designed to prevent a land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The protocol keeps Northern Ireland inside the EU single market, but means the region must administer checks on goods arriving from the rest of the U.K. — stipulations hated by Northern Irish unionists and the British government.

In their public remarks following the bill’s publication, both Scholz and his hawkish foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, a Green Party member of the German coalition government, made their displeasure crystal clear.

“It is a very regrettable decision that the British government has taken,” Scholz said. “It is a departure from all the agreements we have made.”

“London is unilaterally breaking agreements,” Baerbock added. “And it is doing so for predictable motives of its own. We in the EU cannot accept that.”

In private, Scholz is said to be highly critical of Johnson’s handling of the issue, and fears the protocol bill may lead to a trade war between the EU and Britain. With exquisite timing, the bill will receive its second reading in the House of Commons Monday, just as the second day of the leaders’ summit in Bavaria is getting underway.  (Politico, 6/25/2022)

Germany building LARGEST army in Europe as Scholz vows Kyiv support ‘as long as necessary’ GERMANY is in the process of building the largest military in Europe, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a pledge that marked a 360-degree turn in the country’s historic stance on defence  by Teresa Gottein Martinez, Express (patriotic UK newspaper), 29 June 2022

Post-Cold War Germany steadily reduced the size of its army from around 500,000 troops at the time of reunification in 1990 to just 200,000. Its military spending has for decades been notoriously cautious – until Berlin’s approach abruptly changed in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February. Days after the start of the full-scale war, Mr. Scholz announced a €100billion ($105-billion) fund to beef up Germany’s military defences and offset decades of chronic underfunding – none of which is directly linked to the delivery of weapons to Ukraine. He also promised to meet NATO’s target of spending two percent of GDP on defence as well as boosting its high-readiness forces from the current 40,000 to more than 300,000 troops. This followed years of criticism from close allies that the Bundeswehr was falling short of contributing enough to the Alliance. In an interview on public television ARD after the G7 group of the world’s richest nations met in Bavaria, the Chancellor said Germany, alongside the United States, made “certainly the largest contribution” to the North Atlantic Alliance.

German U-turn

This shift towards a military mindset has emerged in unexpected places. Adopting the ‘language of power,’ German chancellor Olaf Scholz announced a spectacular defence policy change, with a new €100bn defence package.

Future German defence spending, he said, would represent more than two-percent of GDP, exceeding Nato’s annual spending goal.

This is a dramatic change from its previous position, which placed civilian approaches front and centre and that there is no military solution to complex, violent conflicts. (euobserver, 6/28/2022)

Why Japan and Germany are Ready to Fight Again – It’s not just the Ukraine war. Unlike in the past, less worrisome figures are now driving the push for a stronger defense — and for sounder reasons.  It is good news that Germans and Japanese are waking up from their postwar slumber. by Ian Buruma: professor of human rights at Bard College. His latest book is “The Churchill Complex,” Blooomberg, 5 May 2022

When German Chancellor Olaf Scholz traveled to Asia in late April, he bypassed China, Germany’s biggest Asian trading partner, in favor of Japan — and with good reason. The two former Axis powers are aiming at closer military cooperation, spurred by concerns over China’s expansionism in East Asia and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Germany sent a frigate to Japan last year for joint naval exercises. Both countries have pledged to boost their defense spending.

Not long ago, many people would have been alarmed at such a turn of events, not least in Germany and Japan, still haunted by bitter memories of their bellicose past. The fact that opposition has been muted is a good sign — and has much to do with who exactly is driving this momentous shift.

Germany’s union head warns of collapse of entire industries due to cuts in Russian natural gas Bloomberg, 3 July 2022

Top German industries could face collapse because of cuts in the supplies of Russian natural gas, the country’s top union official warned before crisis talks with Chancellor Olaf Scholz starting Monday.  “Because of the gas bottlenecks, entire industries are in danger of permanently collapsing:  aluminum, glass, the chemical industry,” said Yasmin Fahimi, the head of the German Federation of Trade Unions (DGB), in an interview with the newspaper Bild am Sonntag.  “Such a collapse would have massive consequences for the entire economy and jobs in Germany.”  The energy crisis is already driving inflation to record highs, she said. Fahimi is calling for a price cap on energy for households. The rising costs for Co2 emissions mean further burdens for households and companies, Fahimi added. The crisis could lead to social and labor unrest, she said.  Economics Minister Robert Habeck said on Saturday that the government is working on ways to address the surging costs both utilities and their customers face, without giving details. Earlier he had warned that the squeeze on Russian gas supplies risks creating deeper turmoil, likening the situation to the role of Lehman Brothers in triggering the financial crisis in 2008.  Russia has reduced shipments through Nord Stream pipeline by 60% and the pipeline is scheduled for a full shutdown this month for maintenance. Germany has raised doubts that Nord Stream will resume supply after that.  (https://fortune.com/2022/07/03/germanys-union-head-warns-of-collapse-of-entire-industries-due-to-cuts-in-russian-natural-gas/)

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CHINESE STATS

Guess who mines more than 70 % of the world’s rare earth materials, and holds at least 85% of the world’s capacity to process them into materials that manufacturers can use? China. Who produces more than 60% of the world’s solar panels, and 45% of the global supply of solar-grade polysilicon, the base material used in solar cells? China.

Moreover, rare earths is not a market that outsiders can simply enter. According to the Danish Institute for International Studies:  “China today has the expertise, IP rights and production facilities, as well as its own REE [rare earth elements] consuming industries. China also manufactures a significant and growing share of goods containing REEs, making it practically impossible for competing companies outside China to get a foothold.”  (Gatestone, 6/29/2022)

BLACK LIVES DON’T MATTER

Where is the outcry? When an Australian, Brenton Tarrant, attacked two mosques and killed 51 Muslims in 2019 in New Zealand, the world stood in condemnation; the hand-wringing has not stopped since. The United Nations responded to that lone and aberrant attack by inaugurating a “combat Islamophobia” initiative.  Where, after years and decades of being attacked, are the UN initiatives to “combat anti-Semitism” and to “combat Christian genocide”?

Ignoring the murder of Christians is, of course, only one piece of the puzzle; covering up the religious identity of their murderers is the other. In describing last Sunday’s massacre of more than 50 Christians, the words “Muslim,” “Islam,” or even “Islamist” never appeared in the AP report. Rather, we are told that “It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack on the church.”

To maintain this ambiguity, the AP failed to point out that Islamic terrorists have routinely stormed churches and slaughtered many Christians over the years in Nigeria — a fact that might just offer a hint as to “who was behind the attack.” (Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone, 6/12/2022)

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Israel Took Part in Unprecedented Meeting With Arab States About Iranian Threat, Report Says – The Wall Street Journal reports that top military officials from Israel, Egypt, Jordan Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as well as representatives from the U.S., Bahrain and UAE, discussed the shared Iranian threat  (26 June 2022, Haaretz Israel)

Israel took part in a secret, U.S.-initiated meeting of top military officials from throughout the Middle East in Egypt in March in order  to discuss combatting the shared threat of Iran’s missile and drone capabilities, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

The talks, held at Sharm El Sheikh, included senior military officers from Israel, Egypt, Jordan and two countries with whom Israel does not have relations: Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain sent officers to the meeting as well, the report said, and Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of the U.S. Central Command, represented the United States, which convened the gathering. The Wall Street Journal report said that this meeting was the first time that such a range of senior Arab and Israeli officers were gathered by the United States to talk about a shared threat.

According to the report, it was made possible by a series of regional shifts: fears of Iran shared by the states, strengthened ties under the Abraham Accords as well as Arab states’ desire to acquire Israeli arms and defense technology.

Israel makes dramatic upgrades to military plans to attack Iran – IAF can now fly its F-35 stealth fighter jets from Israel to the Islamic Republic without requiring midair refueling.  (Jerusalem Post, 8 June 2022)

In face of Iran’s continued development of a nuclear capability, the Israeli Air Force has developed a new capability to be able to fly its F-35 stealth fighter jets from Israel to the Islamic Republic without requiring mid-air refueling. The development is a boost to IAF capabilities and comes as the Israeli military has upped its preparations for a future strike against Iran’s nuclear capabilities. In addition, the IAF recently integrated a new one-ton bomb into the arsenal of weapons used by the F-35s (known in the IAF as the “Adir”) that can be carried inside the plane’s internal weapons compartment without jeopardizing its stealth radar signature.

Israeli Air Force gets a new bomb:  made by Rafael Advanced Weapons Systems – is said to be autonomous and protected against jamming and electronic warfare systems. The bomb was recently used in a series of IAF tests, the results of which were presented to Defense Minister Benny Gantz. 

News of the progress in military preparedness came just a day after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Israel’s Iran strategy has changed in the last year, and it is “acting against the head… and not just its arms, as we had in recent years.”  There are multiple targets in Iran at different ranges. (https://www.jpost.com/arab-israeli-conflict/article-708875)

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Pope Francis denies he is planning to resign soon (Philip Pullella, 4 July 2022, Reuters)

Summary:
* Unsubstantiated rumours fuelled reports of imminent resignation.
* Pope laughs off rumours of cancer: “Doctors didn’t tell me.”
* Trips to Moscow, Kyiv appear more likely; possibly in September.
* On U.S. court decision, pope says abortion is ‘hiring a hit man.’

(MORE:  https://www.reuters.com/world/exclusive-pope-francis-denies-he-is-planning-resign-soon-2022-07-04/)

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Putin’s invasion has shattered dreams of progress, German chancellor says Olaf Scholz said the international order has changed  (3 July 2022, by David Cohen, Politico)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Sunday that the Russian invasion of Ukraine ruptured illusions that had been in place since the end of the Cold War, creating a different dynamic in Europe than existed a few months ago. Speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Scholz told host Margaret Brennan that the brutal invasion launched in February by Russian President Vladimir Putin had shaken the world out of its complacency. “I think too many in the world were hoping that we are living in a different world that is different to the experiences of the last century and the centuries before,” Scholz said, adding that a part of that gentler world order was that “we have had an agreement that there should be no attempt to change territory, to change borders, to invade the neighbor.” He told Brennan: “And this agreement is now canceled by Putin.” Scholz said Putin was a throwback to those leaders who saw conquest as a demonstration of a nation’s greatness.

“What is Putin thinking of? He is thinking like the imperialists in the 17th, 18th, 19th century,” he said. “He is thinking that all about the nation is power, and that if you are mighty enough, you can just take territory of your neighbors. And this is an activity and an idea we cannot accept and we will not accept.”

(MORE:  https://www.politico.com/news/2022/07/03/olaf-scholz-germany-russia-ukraine-00043888)

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Australia’s devastating floods spur new warning systems

On 27 February, Karl Sprogis and his wife Jill spent most of the night anxiously monitoring flood height data from Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology.  Their town, Lismore, was caught in the catastrophic floods that submerged southern Queensland and northern New South Wales in February and March. Those floods have become the most costly in the nation’s history, according to the Insurance Council of Australia.  The latest flooding to hit Australia came at the weekend when Sydney was hit with torrential rain. Thousands were told to evacuate their homes and roads were cut by deep water. (BBC:  by Emily McAuliffe, Business reporter, Melbourne, Australia)

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TO THE POINT

  • Thatcher’s economic reforms changed Britain irrevocably. She had assumed high office after years of apparent national decline. Inflation had been at 18 per cent in 1980 but had been cut to 8 per cent by 1990, when she left office. Likewise, unemployment had been reduced to 7 per cent by 1990. In 1983 nearly 100,000 workers left Britain, but by 1990 more than 200,000 were arriving annually. The number of working days lost to labour disputes plummeted from 29.5 million in 1979 to 1.9 million in 1990.  (Niall Ferguson, 6/11/2022)
  • Prince Andrew is the FBI’s “next target,” says the Daily Mirror, following the jailing of billionaire sex abuser Jeffery Epstein’s associate Ghislaine Maxwell for sex trafficking. The paper says lawyers for Epstein’s victims have “urged US prosecutors to look into associates of the warped pair,” including the royal, who denies any wrongdoing.  (The Week, 6/29/2022)
  • The Royal Family cost taxpayers £102.4m last year, reported the Daily Mirror. The Sovereign Grant Report showed that the renovation of Buckingham Palace helped to drive up the bill. Travel costs were also up – from £1.3m to £4.5m. Royal finances expert Norman Baker said the government should have a “complete rethink” of how taxpayers’ money is allocated to the royals because the public having “no say” in how such sums are spent while “ordinary people are struggling isn’t right.”
  • UK pledges £1bn more to Ukraine – The UK will provide an additional £1bn in military aid for Ukraine, taking the aid given to Kyiv to £2.3bn. The government said the new money will go towards “sophisticated air defence systems”, drones, electronic warfare equipment and “thousands of pieces of vital kit”. Meanwhile, reported the inews site, the UK’s Armed Forces is facing a cut of £1.7bn in real terms by 2025 because of high inflation. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss are both calling for a spending boost.  (The Week, 6/30/2022)
  • Germany’s Scholz wants Western Balkans in EU – BERLIN, May 19 (Reuters) – German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he will travel to the Western Balkans before a meeting of the European Council takes place next month, bearing the message that the region belongs in the European Union. The six Western Balkan countries with EU membership aspirations – Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo – have been engaged in years-long reform process, Scholz told lawmakers in Berlin on Wednesday.  (https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/germanys-scholz-wants-western-balkans-eu-2022-05-19/)
  • Ukraine War collateral damage:  Britain’s beloved fish and chip shops.  Fish [for example] is fried at Godwin’s Fish and Chips, a longtime “chippy” shop in Preston, Englandby William Booth, Washington Post summary, 2 July 2022 — CHORLEY, England – It is a perilous time for fish and chips, the golden fried food for the masses, celebrated as Britain’s “favorite meal” and “the national dish.” As it turns out, a lot of that fish comes from Russian trawlers and the sunflower oil from Ukrainian fields. With Russia’s war raging in Ukraine, that means skyrocketing prices for hungry Brits. The ingredients for an order of fish and chips – by design cheap and caloric – now cost more than twice as much as at the start of the year.
  • An underestimated, unappreciated, and oft-denied driver of the Arab-Israeli conflict is Islamic religious antisemitism. How deeply entrenched is this religious bigotry, and can it prevent, or slow down, the nascent reconciliation between Israel and the Arab world?  Some might question whether it is justifiable to speak of “Islamic antisemitism” and view this charge as a slur on the name of one of the world’s great faiths, followed by close to two billion people. Yet the numerous passages in Islam’s canonical sources (the Qur’an and Sunna) that depict the Jews as a warmongering, cowardly, and treacherous lot have played a key role in the perpetuation of the Arab-Israeli conflict, as evidenced among other things by the outpouring of antisemitic hate speech during and after the May 2021 Hamas-Israel war.  (MEF, 7/2/2022)

FINAL THOUGHT

Mass shootings have become a daily staple of the media.   Many of these shooters kill themselves afterwards.   But some don’t.

A deterrent for them can be found in Ecclesiastes 8:11.  “Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” 

We need to go back to when murder was folowed by a swift trial and then execution.   Or our streets will flow with blood.

“For I will send pestilence upon her, And blood in her streets; The wounded shall be judged in her midst By the sword against her on every side; Then they shall know that I am the LORD.”  (Ezek 28:23)

Spencer Perceval, a British Prime Minister, was murdered in 1812.  Within days the perpetrator was put on trial, found guilty and executed. In more recent times, when an attempt was made to assassinate the American President, Franklin D Roosevelt, and another man was killed, the perpetrator was executed 33 days later.

Now, the average person is on death row for 21 years.  And most murderers do not even receive the death penalty.

This may not go all the way in solving mass shootings, but it would be a good first step. A deterrent can be quite effective.

COMMONWEALTH SUMMIT

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2022 in Kigali Rwanda. (Photo credit: https://thebridge.rw/commonwealth-heads-of-government-meeting-opens-in-kigali/)

This week leaders from across the Commonwealth meet in Rwanda for their first summit for four years and the first in Africa since 2007.The normally biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) hasn’t taken place since 2018 because of the pandemic, but leaders will convene in Kigali on 24 and 25 June for talks “to reaffirm their common values and agree actions and policies to improve the lives of all their citizens.”The CHOGM puts Rwanda under the spotlight again, after the UK government’s initial flight of asylum seekers to the nation was thwarted by a European court ruling last week, Anjam Sundaram, who spent five years as a journalist in Kigali, is among the critics arguing that Rwanda’s human rights record is being “whitewashed” by events such as CHOGM. “Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s president, is using this elite gathering – where Kigali will doubtless be presented at its best, polished to perfection – to burnish his international image and conceal his dictatorship,” he claimed in The Telegraph today.  (The Week, 6/23/2022)(https://dennis.slgnt.eu/optiext/optiextension.dll?ID=gKLgNIpvMriUSl5B_1uh5w85EShiEZOrykhtKNFHKkWEdvq2pZaZpGOjDEAXCs6r6ouZhNfgtDi_TtCBvC0HEjORJKIo2)

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Germany moves closer to gas rationing as Russia chokes supplies. Economy minister says cut in deliveries is ‘economic attack on us by Putin’ by Philip Oltermann in Berlin, The Guardian (UK), 23 June 2022

Germany has moved one step closer to gas rationing, after the country’s economic ministry on Thursday warned of a high risk of long-term supply shortages due to Russia systematically choking off gas deliveries.  Economy minister Robert Habeck announced the second of three energy emergency plan phases, which enables utility firms to pass on high gas prices to customers and thereby help to lower demand.

Russian gas deliveries via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline continue to remain at the low level of 40%.   . . . “There’s no point pretending – the throttling of gas deliveries amounts to an economic attack on us by Putin,” the minister for economic and energy affairs said. “Putin’s strategy is blatantly to stir insecurity, to drive up prices and to drive a wedge through our society. “Even if it doesn’t feel like it yet, we are in a gas crisis,” he added.  “From now on, gas is going to be a scarce good.”   (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jun/23/german-announces-emergency-plan-as-russia-chokes-gas-supplies)

Germany must become ‘leading power’ on world stage after ‘80 years of restraint’, says Scholz ally.  Berlin is pouring billions of euros into rearmament in response to Ukraine war by Rory Sullivan, Independent (UK), 23 June 2022

Germany must ‘normalise’ relationship with military, says SPD co-leaderLars Klingbeil says country should take leadership roleas it relaxes pacifist stance following Ukraine war by Philip Oltermann in Berlin @philipoltermann, 21 June 2022,  Guardian (UK)

Germany needs to “normalise” its relationship with the military and learn to take a leadership role in Europe after “almost 80 years of restraint,” the co-leader of the governing Social Democratic party (SPD) has said.  In a speech marking a further point in Berlin’s slow pivot from a broadly pacifist foreign policy agenda since Russia’s 24 February invasion of Ukraine, Lars Klingbeil said it was important to recognise military force as a legitimate political measure for a government striving for peace.  “It is the last measure, but it has to be clear that it is a measure,” the centre-left politician told a security congress in Berlin on Tuesday. “We are currently seeing that in Ukraine.”  “My wish is that we as a society develop a new normality in our dealings with the Bundeswehr.”  Germany’s pacifist foreign policy instincts, coupled with a history of expanding economic ties with Russia, have come under intense scrutiny in recent months, both domestically and among the country’s Nato allies.. . . In his speech on Tuesday, Social Democrat co-leader Klingbeil said Germany’s newly boosted defence budget would not only mean its army would eventually grow to become the largest in Europe, but that the country needed to learn to become a “leading power” – a term long considered a taboo among German politicians for fear of evoking ghosts of an aggressive past that would alienate its neighbours. “Germany needs to hold itself to the standard of a leading power,” Klingbeil said. “After almost 80 years of restraint, Germany has a new role in the international system. Over the last decades, Germany has earned itself a great amount of trust. With this trust come expectations. …We should meet these expectations.” (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jun/21/germany-must-normalise-relationship-with-military-says-spd-co-leader)

Chaired by Germany, the G7-summit, which will begin on Sunday in Elmau (Germany) plans to prepare new measures in the West’s economic war against Russia.  According to these plans, Washington is seeking to reach an agreement on projects, which would facilitate lowering the price of oil, at Russia’s expense.  The high price of gasoline can impact the chances of the party of the US president in the midterm elections in November.  In addition, the G7 is seeking to woo five states, invited as guests to Elmau, into joining the anti-Russia sanctions, which are still supported by only a quarter of all countries worldwide.  The invited guests include Senegal and Indonesia, which are publicly calling for lifting the sanctions. India and South Africa, both members of the BRICS alliance, will also be present, as well as Argentina which is planning to join that alliance. BRICS, of which Russia is a member, criticized the sanctions policy and positioned itself as a counterweight to the West at its summit yesterday.  (German Foreign Policy, 6/24/2022)

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Italy is Europe’s soft underbelly, and Putin knows it  by Stash Luczkiw – a US-born journalist based in Italy, Kyiv Post, Ukraine, 23 June 2022

It should be clear to all observers by now that Vladimir Putin’s goal has always been, at the very minimum, to rewrite the post-Cold War international order. 

One of his main tactics has involved sinking wedges into European unity and undermining Transatlantic alliances – above all NATO.

Putin understood that although Germany was key to gaining a stranglehold over Europe, Italy was the continent’s soft underbelly. Germany could be coerced and choked through gas. The knock-on effect would be to have the EU’s largest economy beholden to Gazprom. This was a very obvious tactic. More subtly, he recognized that by entering Europe’s lymph through its southern membrane – Italy – it could gain entrée into the continent’s hearts and minds.

. . . Although Draghi has won this battle, he faces constant pressure from a deeply rooted pro-Moscow front in Italy. This pressure comes from many directions: from influential industrialists who have long had business interests in Russia as well as from grassroots Russophilia, covering the gamut from extreme right-wing fascination with Putin as a strongman to residual left-wing nostalgia for the Soviet Union’s support of the once-thriving Italian Communist Party.

. . . In the shifting sands of Italian politics, Draghi has played his hand well. He is once again proving himself to be an authoritative figure in a European landscape suffering from a dearth of leaders. Ultimately, Draghi may be Europe’s – and Ukraine’s – best hope for maintaining a united front against Russia.(https://www.kyivpost.com/article/opinion/op-)

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Russian Troops in Ukraine Face ‘Extraordinary’ Casualty Rates:  U.K. Intelligence – As the war in Ukraine finishes its fourth month, Russian losses appear to be reaching unsustainable levels as Western officials fear a grinding, bloody war of attrition  by Paul D. Shinkman, June 22, 2022, US News

Figures published last week by the Donetsk People’s Republic, part of the self-declared pro-Putin autonomous region in eastern Ukraine known as the Donbas, claimed that more than 2,100 of its forces had died since operations began and nearly 9,000 had been wounded. The casualty rate equals roughly 55% of its total force, according to the U.K. Ministry of Defense, “which highlights the extraordinary attrition rate Russian and pro-Russian forces are suffering in the Donbas.” 

The losses of men and material have come at a staggering rate since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began Feb. 24 and immediately encountered a stiff resistance from local forces backed with Western munitions and financial resources. The number of Russian deaths are a closely guarded secret. Moscow in March placed the death toll at 1,351, but even then there was reason to believe it was far higher. A British estimate in April put the number around 15,000 – more than were killed in the Soviet Union’s nine-year war in Afghanistan – while other estimates project that as many as 40,000 have been injured. * 
The Institute for the Study of War, citing the BBC’s Russian service, noted that new Russian recruits receive only three to seven days of training before being sent to “the most active sectors of the front.”

The casualty counts have appeared similarly grim for Ukraine. U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted last week that public assessments of as many as 100 killed-in-action every day align with the Pentagon’s assessment  of the battlefield carnage, combined with as many as 300 wounded-in-action every day.  (https://www.usnews.com/news/world-report/articles/2022-06-22/russian-troops-in-ukraine-face-extraordinary-casualty-rates-u-k-intelligence)

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U.S. Supreme Court gives States green light to ban abortion, overturning Roe: The bombshell decision is set to upend races across the country as governors, attorneys general, and other state and local leaders gain new powers to decide when abortion will be permitted by Josh Gerstein and Alice Miranda Ollstein, POLITICO, 24 June 2022, 11:03 AM EDT

The Supreme Court on Friday revoked the constitutional right to an abortion that has been in place for half a century — overturning Roe v. Wade on a 5-4 vote, clearing the way for dozens of states to swiftly ban the procedure and throwing the country into uncharted political, legal, social, and medical territory. The bombshell decision is set to upend elections across the country as governors, attorneys general, and other state and local leaders gain new powers to decide when abortion will be permitted, if at all, and who should be prosecuted and potentially incarcerated when bans take effect. The high court’s vote to overturn nearly five decades of court rulings upholding a right to end a pregnancy won the support of five of the court’s six conservative justices while Chief Justice John Roberts and the court’s three liberal justices opposed overruling Roe. The majority opinion, authored by Justice Samuel Alito, hewed closely to the draft version obtained exclusively by POLITICO and published in early May.

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FRANCE HELPED RUSSIAN MILITARY

A French investigative news site has revealed that France has secretly armed the Russian military between 2015 and 2020, in breach of sanctions created after Russia’s annexure of Crimea.

Disclose is a not-for-profit non-government organisation engaged in investigative journalism. The NGO reported on March 14 that classified documents that had come into its possession showed the French government had issued 76 export licenses to Russia for the export of almost $AUD250 million dollars of military equipment.

The sales have been confirmed in a public report to the French parliament which details the dollar amount of French military exports to Russia. The classified documents Disclose has come from the Secrétariat Général de la Défense et de la Sécurité Nationale and details the nature and quantity of military equipment exported to Russia.

The sales appear to be in breach of a European Union embargo on arms exports to Russia from member countries established in 2014.

The claims challenge the orthodox reporting of a Europe united against Putin’s aggression. The prevailing analysis is that the US, the European Union, and NATO have been as one in establishing hard economic sanctions on Putin’s Russia as well as stepping up arms supplies to Ukraine and commitments to increase military spending across NATO members, including long term recalcitrant, Germany. (The Australian, 3/16/2022)

TO THE POINT

  • The Charity Commission is to investigate whether Prince Charles’s acceptance of a suitcase containing €1m (£860,000) in cash broke rules. The Sunday Times reported that the Prince received three separate cash payments from a former PM of Qatar, totaling more than £2.5m. Clarence House said the donations were “passed immediately” to his charity. A Charity Commission spokesman said last night:  “We will review the information to determine whether there is any role for the Commission in this matter.”  (The Week, 6/27/2022)
  • Kyiv was struck by four Russian missile strikes yesterday for the first time in three weeks. The city’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said two residential buildings had been hit in an attempt to “intimidate Ukrainians” before the G7 meeting and a NATO summit in Madrid. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to call for a delivery of heavier armoury when he addresses the G7 group of wealthy nations later. He said yesterday that delaying arms deliveries was “an invitation to Russia to strike again and again.”  (The Week, 6/27/2022)
  • Our local council sent a letter to every home in the township asking us not to mow our lawns for one whole month.   This would help the bees thrive.    Bees are necessary for one third of our food production.  I drove around the area on Monday and found that every lawn was mowed, including ours.   People are more concerned about the outward appearance than they are about our food supply.  We’re in trouble!  (Note from indignant wife:  it was not the appearance that drove us to cut it – it was the fact it was knee high and you needed a machete to get to the front porch!  And mosquitoes were thriving in the moist parts.) 
  • “A gunman opened fire in Oslo, Norway’s nightlife district, killing two people and leaving more than 20 wounded in what the Norwegian security service called  “an Islamic terror attack” during the capital’s annual LGBTQ festival.   Investigators said the suspect, identified as a 42-year-old Norwegian citizen from Iran, was arrested after opening fire at three locations in downtown Oslo.”  (Lansing State Journal, 6/26/2022)
  • “Rising food costs.  Soaring fuel bills. Wages that are not keeping pace.  Inflation is plundering people’s wallets, sparking a wave of protests and workers’ strikes around the world.  This week alone saw protests by the political opposition in Pakistan, nurses in Zimbabwe, unionized workers in Belgium, indigenous people in Ecuador, hundreds of US pilots and some European airline workers.  Sri Lanka’s prime minister declared an economic collapse Wednesday after weeks of political turmoil.”  (Lansing State Journal, 6/26/2022)

FINAL THOUGHT

Abortion has been in the news this past week as the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v Wade decision.  Predictably, those supporting abortion are far more vocal than those against.  I don’t remember mass demonstrations when the decision was made in 1973.

It’s ridiculous to keep on saying that abortion is a constitutional right.  Let’s look at it in a historical context.   1607 was the year in which the first Europeans settled here.  From 1607 to 1973 is 356 years.   That’s 356 years there was no legal abortion.   There followed 49 years when abortion was legal.   One thing is for sure – the men who wrote the constitution never intended abortion should take place.  Planned Parenthood makes the ridiculous claim that abortion was allowed in the first century after the US constitution was written, as there was no law in any state against it.

There are so many different forms of birth control available, the question must be asked, “why do some think abortion so essential?”  It isn’t.  It’s purely for convenience.

And it’s murder.   The Bible tells us to do no murder (Ex 20:13).    The same book shows us that life begins at conception.  Psalm 139, a psalm of David, says: For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.

Jeremiah 1:5 says:   “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Nancy Pelosi accused the Supreme Court of hypocrisy.  She should look in the mirror.   She’s a Catholic and should not support abortion.  Yet she enthusiastically does so.  The same goes for President Biden, who’s also Catholic.   He said that the Supreme Court’s decision set the country back 150 years.   I don’t know where he got that from.  150 years ago there was nobody standing up for abortion.   They knew life was precious.    Too many children were born dead or died in infancy.

Richard Weikart, in his excellent book “From Darwin to Hitler,” shows the direct connection between the theory of evolution (1859) and the change in thinking that occurred in western countries.  “The famous bioethicist Peter Singer and his compatriot James Rachels argue that because Darwinism effectively discredits the Judeo- Christian conception of the sanctity of human life, therefore abortion, euthanasia and infanticide can be morally justified.”  (“From Darwin to Hitler,” 2004, page 2).

Those who have had abortions can repent of their sin.   But the sooner we put abortion behind us, the healthier our society will be. 

We have been told time and time again since the Supreme Court decision that this puts us at odds with Europe.  The US is also at odds with Europe on gun control.   We have never let that bother us.  Why should an anti-abortion stance?   We must do what we believe is right and that does not permit any more abortions.  

The Supreme Court has at last heard the cries of the innocents.

ISRAELI GOVERNMENT COLLAPSES – THE LEFT AND ARABS TAKE CONTROL OF COUNTRY

Photo from: https://www.newsdelivers.com/2022/06/20/israeli-pm-to-dissolve-government-call-new-elections/

Due to increased defections from dissatisfied Yamina party members, the coalition was unable to function and became increasingly reliant on Arab parties within the coalition and in the opposition to function. Given that, Bennett and Lapid took to two podiums to announce the breakup of the 24th Knesset, handing Yair Lapid the role of caretaker Prime Minister until new elections.

This move gives Lapid, an ardent secularist, what he has always sought – control of Israel – albeit with limited powers and only until a new government is formed. Still, with elections in September, the damage a Lapid government can do, especially in partnership with Arab parties, may be irreversible.

With President Joe Biden arriving in Israel in July, a Prime Minister Lapid may attempt to sell Israel out to the Arabs in order to make irreversible changes to Israel’s standing vis a vis Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem. While no agreement is binding, the mere mentions of unilateral concessions is dangerous.

Even without a public capitulation, Lapid’s standing in Israel will be increased and his ability to manipulate the body-politic going into elections will be higher than ever. (Micha Gefen, Israel Unwired, 6/21/2022)

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SOUTH AFRICA

Ramaphosa calls Putin to discuss food and fertiliser supplies after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine scrambled global markets.
During a phone call on Wednesday, the two BRICS leaders stressed intention to ‘expand mutually beneficial cooperation’

“They also discussed in detail issues of food security, including the supply of Russian agricultural products and fertilisers to the African continent, in particular South Africa. The leaders also noted the importance of joint work within BRICS in order to further promote the role of this association in global politics and economics.”  Western governments have accused Russia of manipulating food supplies to gain a diplomatic advantage. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently stated:   “There are credible reports, including as we saw in one of our leading newspapers today, that Russia is pilfering Ukraine’s grain exports, to sell for its own profit.”

Last month, Russian Industry Minister Denis Manturov raised eyebrows when he proposed at a meeting of BRICS industry ministers that all five countries should jointly refine oil and gas and develop green energy — avoiding the need for “unreliable external partners.”  This was seen by some as a Russian attempt to bypass Western sanctions by calling on its BRICS allies. 

(https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2022-06-16-ramaphosa-calls-putin-to-discuss-food-and-fertiliser-supplies-after-russias-invasion-of-ukraine-scrambled-global-markets/)

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THE FAR-RIGHT AND NORSE GODS

Payton Gendron, the suspect in the killing of ten people in a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, is the latest far-right extremist to allegedly murder defenseless people in the name of white supremacy. His hate-filled manifesto is full of baffling contradictions, vile stereotypes, unhinged conspiracy theories and, predictably, Norse symbolism.

Gendron ended his manifesto with the contradictory message: “God bless you all and I hope to see you in Valhalla.” This follows the lead of the terrorist who attacked a summer camp in Utøya, Norway, who named his guns after the weapons of the Norse gods. Even more recently, the shooter who attacked two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand bookended his manifesto with references to Norse culture.  (The Week, 6/20/2022)  (https://dennis.slgnt.eu/optiext/optiextension.dll?(ID=MefMeMVdRQlZ9rarZ%2BbAQ7HC4pwiH7YOeft3i1vGc9iOtAawUn3dMx5eNE3Ff0DjUeDTIy0yd5ps_RwHW%2ByRzm64E2e25)

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“UNSTABLE AS WATER”

Unstable as water, you shall not have preeminence, because you went up to your father’s bed; then you defiled it – he went up to my couch!”   (Genesis 49:4 ESV)

The results of the French parliamentary elections have been “much worse” for Emmanuel Macron than “almost anyone anticipated”, writes Jonathan Miller in The Spectator. The French president “has been humiliated by voters, weeks after being re-elected by an unenthusiastic electorate”, he says. “The hyper-president with ambitions to lead Europe looks like he will not even be able to lead France,” and the country “looks more ungovernable than ever.” Having lost his parliamentary majority, Macron “must now hope to create ad hoc” coalitions to pass reforms, “but he has few allies and will pay a high price.” And he “is not only incapable of uniting the country, he bears heavy responsibility for dividing it” too. Macron “commands little to no affection” and is now “doomed to preside over escalating chaos” as France faces cost-of-living, law and order, and energy crises. (https://dennis.slgnt.eu/optiext/optiextension.dll?ID=MefMgjmtq5ZUHTiP0SV_nGXxz9tSTkjXVlmvD7%2BWo_Jwz%2BiwV4Mli_KaNiikwThT37hVDCk2V45iuf05EZq0GCBJE7Owc)

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THE EU’S CHARM OFFENSIVE IN ISRAEL

People dining this week on the charming terrace at Jerusalem’s King David hotel were surprised to find at the next table Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission.

Given the EU’s long-standing hostility towards Israel, it was a bit like spotting Amber Heard knocking back the tequila with Johnny Depp in a Los Angeles bar.

That may be unfair to von der Leyen herself, who was described later that day by Israel’s prime minister, Naftali Bennett, as “a great friend of the Jewish people and a great friend of Israel.”

She had certainly come to Israel on a charm offensive. In a speech at Ben Gurion University where she was awarded an honorary degree, she said:  “I have put the fight against antisemitism and fostering Jewish life in Europe at the core of the European Commission’s agenda. Our democracy flourishes if Jewish life in Europe flourishes, too. Throughout the centuries, the Jewish people have been ‘a light unto the nations.’ And they shall be a light unto Europe for many centuries ahead.”

So she pressed all the right buttons about the Jewish people. The real reason for her trip, however, was panic.

As a result of Russia’s war against Ukraine, the EU has boycotted Russian natural gas. This has left its energy supplies seriously depleted. Until the war, Russia was supplying some 40 per cent of the gas that Europe consumes.

Now that Israel has emerged as a major player in the energy market, the EU is desperate to import Israeli gas to keep the lights on this coming winter. This week, it signed a deal that will see Israeli gas sent to Egypt, where it will be liquefied and from there shipped to Europe where it will be changed back to gas.  (Melanie Phillips, 6/17/2022)

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AMERICAN BELIEFS

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The vast majority of U.S. adults believe in God, but the 81% who do so is down six percentage points from 2017 and is the lowest in Gallup’s trend. Between 1944 and 2011, more than 90% of Americans believed in God.

Gallup’s May 2-22 Values and Beliefs poll finds 17% of Americans saying they do not believe in God.

Gallup first asked this question in 1944, repeating it again in 1947 and twice each in the 1950s and 1960s. In those latter four surveys, a consistent 98% said they believed in God. When Gallup asked the question nearly five decades later, in 2011, 92% of Americans said they believed in God.

A subsequent survey in 2013 found belief in God dipping below 90% to 87%, roughly where it stood in three subsequent updates between 2014 and 2017 before this year’s drop to 81%.

Gallup has also in recent years asked other questions aimed at measuring belief in God or a higher power. All find the vast majority of Americans saying they believe; when given the option, 5% to 10% have said they were “unsure.”

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PRINCE CHARLES INTERFERING IN POLITICS

British cabinet ministers have fired a warning shot at Prince Charles, who they fear will plunge the country into a constitutional crisis if he continues to meddle in government business when he becomes king.

Clarence House issued a statement on Saturday insisting Prince Charles would remain “politically neutral” as monarch, despite reports he had branded the UK government’s policy of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda “appalling.”  His alleged comment followed a High Court ruling in favour of the policy. The first such flight to the east African country is scheduled for Tuesday.

The Times reported that Charles had been heard expressing opposition to the policy several times in private, and that he was “more than disappointed” by it. Cabinet ministers are concerned by reports from courtiers that Charles wants to be more forward in stating his views.

A rift is said to have developed between Charles and Boris Johnson because of the UK prime minister’s “disrespectful” behavior during the men’s first meeting.   (The Times, 6/12/2022)

Britain’s Prince William turns 40 on 21 June 2022: 40 photos.

The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three.  But as he turns 40, William is making the biggest change yet:  assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.

(https://apnews.com/article/prince-william-turns-40-1c7fdbee66b84453bfb7205743a3645c/gallery/f97adccf829f40d8a3990ac1847a323d)

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TO THE POINT

  • Economic growth in the UK will be the worst in the G20 apart from Russia, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has forecast. The Paris-based organisation said the effects of high inflation and a further round of tax increases will be the main factors in the UK’s expected weak economic activity. Laurence Boone, chief economist of the OECD, said the UK was unique because it was simultaneously facing high inflation, rising interest rates and increasing taxes.  (The Week, 6/9/2022)
  • The Queen’s health is now a topic of constant discussion. To see her looking fit and well during the Jubilee celebrations was a relief for the millions who regard her as the ‘proper’ face of the contemporary monarchy. But given the self-indulgent shenanigans that her family seem intent on creating during the final years of her reign, she might be forgiven for wanting to abandon the whole pack of them, retiring to Windsor Castle and letting her ungrateful brood get on with sabotaging the institution that she has spent seven painstaking decades protecting. Many of us would sympathize with that desire.   (“The royal rabble versus the Queen,”  Alexander Larman, The Spectator, 6/13/2022)
  • Georg Friedrich, Prince of Prussia (born 10 June 1976) is a German businessman who is the current head of the Prussian branch of the House of Hohenzollern, the former ruling dynasty of the German Empire and of the Kingdom of Prussia.  He is the great-great-grandson and historic heir of Wilhelm II, the last German Emperor and King of Prussia, who abdicated and went into exile upon Germany’s defeat in World War I in 1918.  Thus, he is a fourth great-grandson of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and a distant cousin of many European monarchs.  (Wikipedia article based on a German articlehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georg_Friedrich,_Prince_of_Prussia)
  • The world economy will pay a “hefty price” for the war in Ukraine through weaker growth, stronger inflation and potentially long-lasting damage to supply chains, according to the OECD club of rich nations. The grim outlook came as talks between Russia and Turkey brought no signs of progress on a deal to unblock shipments of Ukrainian grain in the face of a global food-supply crisis. Even worse, a United Nations expert said removing mines near Ukraine’s key ports could take months. As the war passes 100 days, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the ongoing battle in the city of Sievierodonetsk may be the most critical of the conflict, and could determine the fate of the east of the country.   (Bloomberg, 6/9/2022)

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FINAL THOUGHT

“When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.”  (Benjamin Franklin)

NUCLEAR WAR A BIG ISSUE – AGAIN

Today, the Chinese nuclear arsenal could destroy most of the United States. The North Koreans have a stockpile of bombs. And the Russian Federation, which inherited the Soviet nuclear arsenal, has launched a major war against Ukraine. As the war began, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his nation’s nuclear forces to go on heightened alert and warned the West that any interference with the invasion would have “consequences that you have never experienced in your history.” Suddenly, the unthinkable seems possible again.

There was a time when citizens of the United States cared about nuclear weapons. The reality of nuclear war was constantly present in their lives; nuclear conflict took on apocalyptic meaning and entered the American consciousness not only through the news and politics, but through popular culture as well. Movie audiences in 1964 laughed while watching Peter Sellers play a president and his sinister adviser in Dr. Strangelove, bumbling their way to nuclear war; a few months later, they were horrified as Henry Fonda’s fictional president ordered the sacrificial immolation of New York City in Fail-Safe. Nuclear war and its terminology—overkill, first strike, fallout—were soon constant themes in every form of entertainment. We not only knew about nuclear war; we expected one.

But during the Cold War there was also thoughtful engagement with the nuclear threat. Academics, politicians, and activists argued on television and in op-ed pages about whether we were safer with more or fewer nuclear weapons. The media presented analyses of complicated issues relating to nuclear weapons. CBS, for example, broadcast an unprecedented five-part documentary series on national defense in 1981. When ABC, in 1983, aired the movie The Day After—about the consequences of a global nuclear war for a small town in Kansas—it did so as much to perform a public service as to achieve a ratings bonanza. Even President Ronald Reagan watched the movie. (In his diary, he noted that The Day After was “very effective” and had left him “greatly depressed.”   (The Atlantic, 6/1/2022)

“The nuclear danger was growing before the invasion (of Ukraine).  North Korea has dozens of warheads.  Iran, the UN said this week, has enough enriched uranium for its first bomb.  Although the new START treaty will limit Russia’s and America’s intercontinental ballistic missiles until 2016, it does not cover weapons such as nuclear torpedoes.  Pakistan is rapidly adding to its arsenal. China is modernizing its nuclear forces and, the Pentagon says, expanding them.”  (The Economist, 6/4/2022)

UK TARGETED BY RUSSIANS:   “…tune into the state owned Russian television channel Russia-1.  ”Just one launch, Boris,” warned Dmitry Kiselev, the station’s main news presenter on May 1st, “and England is gone.”  In case this message proved too subtle for the British prime minister, or the audience at home, Mr. Kiselev laid out the launch options he had in mind.  One was a Sarmat intercontinental missile (ICBM) shown streaking towards Britain. Another was a Poseidon thermonuclear torpedo, designed to whip up an isotope-laced tsunami. “Having passed over the British Isles, it will turn whatever might be left of them into a radioactive desert,” enthused Mr. Kiselev, “Unfit for anything for a long time . . .”  Every few days, some Russian official is making explicit nuclear threats.”   (“Thinking the Unthinkable,” /2022, 6/4)

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IS THE PENTAGON LOSING TAIWAN?

“We have no competing fighting chance against China in 15 to 20 years. Right now, it’s already a done deal; it is already over in my opinion.” — Nicolas Chaillan, former first Chief Software Officer for the Air Force, who resigned in protest over the Pentagon’s slow pace of technological development, citing China’s fast advancements in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and general capabilities in cybersecurity,  (Financial Times, October 10, 2021)

“By the time the Government manages to produce something, it’s too often obsolete.” — Preston Dunlap, the Pentagon’s first Chief Architect Officer, responsible for promoting technological innovation at the Pentagon, who also resigned, labelling the Pentagon “the world’s largest bureaucracy;” The Japan Times, April 19, 2022.  (Judith Bergman, 6/6/2022)

MONKEY POX LINKED TO SEX

A leading adviser to the World Health Organization described the unprecedented outbreak of the rare disease monkeypox in developed countries as “a random event” that might be explained by risky sexual behavior at two recent mass events in Europe.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Dr. David Heymann, who formerly headed WHO’s emergencies department, said the leading theory to explain the spread of the disease was sexual transmission among gay and bisexual men at two raves held in Spain and Belgium. Monkeypox has not previously triggered widespread outbreaks beyond Africa, where it is endemic in animals.

“We know monkeypox can spread when there is close contact with the lesions of someone who is infected, and it looks like sexual contact has now amplified that transmission,” said Heymann.

That marks a significant departure from the disease’s typical pattern of spread in central and western Africa, where people are mainly infected by animals like wild rodents and primates and outbreaks have not spilled across borders.   (CBS news, 5/24/2022)

British health officials reported 77 more cases of monkeypox Monday, raising the total to more than 300 across the country.  To date, the UK has the biggest identified outbreak of the disease beyond Africa, with the vast majority of infections in gay and bisexual men.  (Lansing State Journal, 6/7/2022)

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ATTEMPTS TO FREE UP GRAIN

The EU is obstructing UN efforts to avert global hunger being caused by war and sanctions. The plan provides for the transit of Ukraine’s huge grain reserves over Belarus for shipping via ports at the Baltic Sea. The plan endorsed by UN Secretary General António Guterres is considered to be the only viable alternative to the recently blocked grain-transport via the Black Sea. Of course, the EU is not ready to allow the prerequisites for the plan’s successful implementation and to lift its sanctions against Belarusian fertilizer exports. UN Secretary General António Guterres is in favor of lifting these sanctions to secure the global supply of fertilizers. In a highly symbolic step, Brussels toughened its sanctions against Belarusian fertilizer producers last Friday. On the other hand, UN efforts to jump-start the export of Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea are gaining momentum. Russia and Turkey are paving the way for initial shipments from Odessa.  (German Foreign Policy, 6/7/2022)

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TO THE POINT

  • Experts have warned that a “storm” of bankruptcies is on the horizon, The Telegraph reported. During the first three months of the year, around 137,000 businesses closed their doors for good in the UK, a jump of nearly a quarter on the same period in 2021, and there were also nearly 5,000 voluntary insolvencies in England and Wales – the highest level since the Insolvency Service launched its survey in 1960. “There is a storm coming,” said Simon Bonney, managing director of Quantuma, a restructuring firm based in the Square Mile.  (The Week, 6/6/2022)
  • Gunmen killed more than 50 people in an assault on a Catholic church in Ondo state in Nigeria during mass on Sunday. The attackers targeted the St Francis Xavier Catholic Church in the town of Owo as the worshippers gathered on Pentecost Sunday, gunning down parishioners and detonating an explosive device, local media reported. President Muhammadu Buhari said “only fiends from the nether region” could have performed this “dastardly act.”  (The Week, 6/6/2022)
  • Pope Francis will attend a ceremony founded by one of the few Pontiffs who stepped down from the role during their reign, fuelling speculation he is set to retire. Following rumours in the Italian and Catholic media, the Vatican announced that the Pope will visit the city of L’Aquila in August for a feast initiated by Pope Celestine V. The Telegraph notes that although traditionally popes are expected to hold their post until death, there have been some exceptions, including Celestine V.  (The Week, 6/6/2022)
  • Fish and chip shops are looking to Norway as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatens their business, The Times reported. Bosses have warned that a third of chip shops may have to close if tariffs on fish from Russia add to the pressure they are under from shortages of sunflower oil, flour and potato fertiliser. The National Federation of Fish Friers and the Frozen at Sea Fillets Association will speak to the Norwegian Seafood Council at a conference this week at the port of Alesund.   (The Week, 6/6/2022)
  • British Pro-ISIS Preacher Urges Queen Elizabeth II On Her Platinum Jubilee To Embrace Islam To Save Herself From Hellfire/2022  (MEMRI  6/7/2022)

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FINAL THOUGHT

For the first time (and probably the last) Britain and some Commonwealth countries celebrated the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.  That’s seventy years on the throne.  February 6th was the actual day that she became Queen, but it’s too cold to celebrate anything in February.  So the four-day celebration took place in June, around the annual Trooping the Color, the queen’s official birthday.

Her long reign is a first for Britain.  Only Louis XIV of France reigned longer (1643-1715), but he was only five when he became King.   Until he turned 18 the country was ruled by a Regency, so the first 13 years don’t count.   Anyway, the queen could live another couple of years, which would make her the longest serving monarch ever.

You would think by now people would want a change.   But that is not the case.  She is consistently the most popular royal, with an approval rating way above that of any politician.   The lowest figure I’ve seen is 69%, with her heir, Prince Charles, coming in at a mere 19%.   Prince William, Charles’ heir, is somewhere in between.

What makes her so popular?   During the Jubilee, there was an interesting article in The Australian, by Australian Angela Shanahan.

“Young people, especially in Britain, who in general have discarded most of the intrinsic values of family, religion, even democracy, sometimes become very defensive of “our Queen.”  Criticize her at your peril!   Perhaps for many young people she is a sort of granny figure.  She represents something that is often missing in the lives of the young today:  stability and continuity.”   (“In a world of crumbling values Queen carries on,” Angela Shanahan, The Australian, 6/4/2022)  

It isn’t just the fact that she has lived so long – it’s more that she upholds the traditional values that society long ago discarded.

Proverbs 14:34 reminds us that there is a choice for all global leaders.  “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”   They can choose righteousness or sin.   The Queen represents righteousness, while her children, unfortunately, have all clearly sinned.  So the respect isn’t there.

Charles is trying to live a more righteous life.    William is, too.   So there is hope for the future.   The Queen has set a very good example, which the next generation (and the one after that) will do well to follow.

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WANTED – GOOD FATHERS

The profile image from an Instagram account tied to the suspected Uvalde shooter, identified as Salvador Ramos. (https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/25/us/uvalde-texas-school-shooting-salvador-ramos/index.html)

In America, an anguished debate continues about the implications of the massacre in Uvalde, Texas, where an 18-year-old boy murdered at least 19 children and two teachers in an elementary school by gunning them down.

This debate has been dominated by the argument between those who want to prevent the widespread availability of guns and those who claim that gun control is irrelevant, and that more attention should be paid to a moral sickness that has developed in American society.

To a British mind, it is almost incomprehensible that guns are available with so few security checks and can be obtained by people who are mentally disturbed or otherwise grossly unsuitable for gun ownership.

Surely, however, this is not a matter of either/or. It’s possible that something is going wrong with American society and that it is necessary to restrict the availability of guns.

There’s one particular aspect of current American culture which is arguably the most important factor of all but is rarely even mentioned. That is mass fatherlessness and the destruction of the traditional married family.    (Melanie Phillips, 5/30/2022)

Malachi 2:16 – “For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence,” says the Lord of hosts.  “Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.”

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INTERNATIONAL COMMENT ON SCHOOL SHOOTING

It’s hard to watch a friend make the same mistake over and over again — and change nothing. The tragedy that unfolded last week at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, has appalled America’s allies around the world, not least because it came as a surprise to almost nobody. After all, there have been 27 shootings at American schools so far this year, and more than 200 mass shootings overall.

Once again, thoughts and prayers have poured in from global leaders. Among the messages of shock and grief were a few comments that perhaps express what the rest of the global population really thinks.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said he was deeply saddened by the news but went on to call out the US government’s hypocrisy. Pointing out the fact that over the past 25 years, the US has failed to pass a single gun-control act, he said: “How can one expect the US government, who doesn’t even care about the human rights of its own people to genuinely concern itself with the human rights situation in other countries?” It is, of course, pretty hypocritical of China, with its own terrible human-rights record; its leaders will take any chance they get to deflect from that and make the US appear weak.

More valid – though less overt – criticism came from New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who oversaw her country’s swift banning of military-style semiautomatic weapons after the 2019 mass shooting in Christchurch. “We saw something that wasn’t right and we acted on it,” she said.

With guns now the leading cause of death among children and adolescents, the US appears to the rest of the world not as a modern democracy, but a lawless Wild West. (Bloomberg International, 5/30/2022)

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OBAMA  LINKS TEXAS SHOOTING TO GEORGE FLOYD

Former President Barack Obama raised eyebrows on Wednesday for attempting to link this week’s mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, to the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder. 

Nineteen children and two teachers of Robb Elementary School were murdered by an 18-year-old gunman, who was killed during a gunfire exchange with authorities. Tuesday’s tragedy is now among the worst mass shootings in U.S. history. 

The bloodshed in Uvalde occurred one day prior to the two-year mark of the death of George Floyd, which sparked civil unrest across the country in 2020 after viral footage showed Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on him as he repeatedly claimed he couldn’t breathe until he died.   (Fox News, 5/26/2022)

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GERMANY SEEKS FRIENDS IN AFRICA

On his first trip to Africa in office, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, is seeking to turn two influential African states against Russia. Senegal, where Scholz held talks on Sunday and South Africa, where he visits today have so far strictly refused, along with other countries on the continent, to support the western countries in their power struggle with Russia – for example, by adopting their sanctions. Public appeals by European ambassadors and high-ranking US government policymakers, such as Victoria Nuland, have so far been as ineffective, as threats of reducing development aid to those countries, refusing to renounce Russia. Scholz is now attempting to use the carrot, rather than the stick, and is promoting solidarity among “democrats.” South Africa is considered the most important regional power, Senegal is currently presiding over the African Union (AU). Senegal’s President Macky Sall announced on Sunday, in Scholz’ presence, that he will soon travel to Moscow for negotiations.  (German Foreign Policy, 5/25/2022)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said his country is interested in a major gas exploitation project in Senegal as he began a three-nation visit to Africa on Sunday that also is focused on the geopolitical consequences of the war in Ukraine.

Senegal is believed to have significant deposits of natural gas along its border with Mauritania at a time when Germany and other European countries are trying to reduce their dependence on importing Russian gas.

“We have begun exchanges and we will continue our efforts at the level of experts because it is our wish to achieve progress,” Scholz said at a joint news briefing with Senegalese President Macky Sall.

The gas project off the coast of Senegal is being led by BP, and the first barrels are not expected until next year.

This week’s trip marks Scholz’s first to Africa since becoming chancellor nearly six months ago. Two of the countries he is visiting – Senegal and South Africa – have been invited to attend the Group of 7 summit in Germany at the end of June.

Participants there will try to find a common position toward Russia, which was kicked out of the then-Group of Eight following its 2014 seizure of Crimea from Ukraine.  (Bloomberg, 5/23/2022)

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PUTIN UNLIKELY TO GO

When someone like Boris Bondarev, a Russian counsellor to the United Nations in Geneva, slams the door on his employer, the Russian Foreign Ministry, and on his home country, it’s only natural to wonder if Vladimir Putin’s system is showing cracks three months into the dictator’s disgraceful Ukraine adventure. The answer, however, is “not really.” Despite the relative failure of the invasion so far, prominent defectors are remarkably few in number. The Russian establishment is not about to implode.  (Bloomberg, 5/28/2022)

UK FOREIGN SECRETARY INSISTS PUTIN MUST BE DEFEATED

Liz Truss is to insist that Vladimir Putin must be defeated rather than appeased in a speech to Bosnia and Herzegovina armed forces in Sarajevo. The foreign secretary will also demand more weapons for Kyiv and additional sanctions against Moscow. “Russia’s aggression cannot be appeased. It must be met with strength,” she is expected to say. “We must not allow a prolonged and increasingly painful conflict to develop in Ukraine.” Bosnia and Herzegovina has been a “vocal partner of the UK’s in the western Balkans in calling out Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine,” said Sky News. (5/26/2022)

“Where does Mother Russia go from here?  Bitter at their losses in the Cold War and post-Cold War years, many Russian nationalists are urging the regime to align with today’s great power antagonist of the United States, Xi Jinping’s China.”   (Pat Buchanan, 5/20/2022)

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NEW ZEALAND – IN THE BEGINNING

In 1837 Chief Wiremu Hau wrote to the English King asking:  Sir …. Will you give us law? Three years later the Treaty of Waitangi brought in the rule of law for all the people of New Zealand. It mean that there was freedom for slaves – mainly women – and the end of cannibalism, inter-tribal war, female infanticide, trading in smoked heads and the killing of prisoners. Disputes between tribes would now have to be settled in the courts and all New Zealanders would be subject to British laws.

The end of the Inter-Tribal Wars saved the Maori people from possible extinction. Over 40,000 men, women and children had been killed in more than 500 battles between 1800 and 1840, and the loss of so many women and girls meant that there were not enough potential mothers for the Maori population to recover quickly.

Women were in fact the great beneficiaries of the Treaty, as slaves were released and the fear after battles of at worst death, and at best rape, abduction and servitude, was now gone.

Women who had been the traditional food growers now showed their entrepreneurial skills in providing produce for the European settlers.    (Roger Childs, 5/29/2022)

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TO THE POINT

  • Conservative Party staffers have said that serious sexual abuse, harassment and bullying accusations made against MPs are treated as “mere gossip” in Westminster. In a letter seen by The Guardian, the group of staff working for Tory MPs said “a culture of gossip and rumour has enabled the toleration and acceptance of abuse for too long.” They spoke out in response to a series of recent incidents which have included a Conservative MP being arrested on suspicion of rape, a second being jailed for sexually assaulting a teenager and another being investigated over claims of sexual harassment.  (The Week, 5/26/2022)
  • More than one million foreign nationals were allowed to live in the UK last year for the first time in recorded history, said The Telegraph. Data from the Home Office shows that the number of visas handed to workers, students, relatives and other foreign nationals rose by 35% to 994,951 in the year to March, up from a pre-pandemic high of 739,936, while a further 15,451 people were granted asylum. Red wall Conservative MPs have written to home secretary Priti Patel, saying the data “undeniably undermines” Brexit promises.  (The Week, 5/29/2022)
  • Government plans to hit Russian seafood imports with punitive trade tariffs could “cripple” Britain’s fish and chips shops, said The Telegraph. Ministerial sources said there is a “clear intention” to include Russian whitefish exports, including cod and haddock, in the next wave of sanctions against Moscow. A third of fish and chip shops fear they could be forced to close if shortages of essential ingredients such as cod, haddock and sunflower oil are not addressed by ministers with a reduction in VAT.  (The Week, 5/29/2022)
  • Ministers have been warned that six million households could face blackouts this winter because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The government’s “reasonable” worst-case scenario, which has been drawn up by officials from across Whitehall, said there could be widespread gas shortages if Moscow goes further in cutting off supplies to the EU. Under the scenario there would be rationing for more than a month, causing energy prices to rise again and leaving GDP lower than forecast for years to come.  (The Week, 5/30/2022)
  • Dozens of EU laws are expected to be scrapped within months as Boris Johnson scrambles to win back the support of Tory MPs after the “partygate” scandal. The inews site said that the bulk of the regulations are likely to be related to the environment, workplaces, transport, tax and health and safety. This week, the PM will also formally announce plans to allow all goods to be sold in imperial measures instead of metric, in a move described by critics as an attempt to “weaponise nostalgia.”  (The Week, 5/30/2022)
  • If one non-Muslim attack on a mosque is enough for the UN to institutionalize a special day for Islam, what about the countless, often worse, Muslim attacks on non-Muslim places of worship? Why have they not elicited a similar response from the UN?  (Gatestone, 5/30/2022)
  • UK:  When is a windfall tax not a windfall tax? When it’s a “temporary, targeted energy profits levy,” as UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak dubbed this week’s raid on the future profits of oil and gas companies. The Conservative government is aiming to raise 5 billion pounds ($6.3 billion) to help fund a helicopter money-drop to alleviate Britain’s cost-of-living crisis. The 15 billion-pound package, which includes energy-bill subsidies for every UK household plus one-off grants to welfare recipients and pensioners, looks like “a panicky chess move intended to protect the king but not really advance the government’s own position,” argues Therese Rafael, Bloomberg, 5/27/2022)
This cartoon appeared in Punch Magazine on April 24, 1904..

"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