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)
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)
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-)
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)
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.
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)
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.