Tag Archives: Al-Qaeda

MORE ON CORONA

AMERICA AHEAD

Good morning.   “The US has more confirmed cases of the coronavirus than any other nation on Earth.  Yet Donald Trump has fallen back on his favorite solution to any problem, announcing an executive order that would temporarily suspend all immigration from other countries.   Democrats slammed the move, with one congressman calling it no more than “xenophobic scapegoating.”

Meanwhile, epidemiologists have warned that the greater threat is from within, saying recent anti-lockdown rallies across the country could lead to a surge in new infections.   In Georgia, governor Brian Kemp announced businesses including gyms, cinemas and restaurants would reopen in the state over the coming days, despite the objections of public heath experts.   (Tim Walker, The Guardian, 4/21/2020)

This is a typical Guardian piece from across the water.   It seems to me that the president made a very sensible decision, to halt immigration to help save American jobs.  It’s only for two months.  When things get back to normal, if unemployment persists, there should be no going back to open borders.

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CHINA’S ECONOMY DOWN

 That the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic will be immense is obvious.  Just how bad?  And when can countries start to heal?  China offered a preliminary answer today when it announced that its first-quarter GDP fell by 6.8%, compared with last year.  The last time China’s economy shrank was 1976, the year the Cultural Revolution ended.  It was a foregone conclusion that growth had suffered after lockdowns were imposed nationwide in late January. More notable therefore were indicators for March.   Encouragingly, industrial production fell just 1% year-on-year, a reflection of progress made in restarting factories.   Discouragingly, retail sales were down 16% over the same period, with stores and restaurants open but few visiting them.   Having drastically reduced new infections, China’s economy is creaking back to life.   But people remain anxious and movement is restricted.   In such an inhospitable environment, familiar now around the world, the recovery is likely to be tepid at best.  (The Economist, 4/17/2020)

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GERMAN FOREIGN POLICY

The German government is joining the US campaign of allegations against China regarding the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.  Last weekend, US President Donald Trump warned the People’s Republic that it should face consequences if it was “knowingly responsible” for the spread of the pandemic.  Washington is simultaneously spreading deliberate rumors that the virus could have originated in a Chinese laboratory.   Whereas, scientists vehemently refute the allegations, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas declared, he “does not want to exclude” that the WHO will have to deal with these issues.   On Monday, Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Beijing to show “transparency” on the issue.   Senior German military officials have recently been demanding that the EU adopt “a joint political-strategic response” to China’s growing strength, because in the Corona crisis, Beijing is gaining considerable influence.   According to a recent poll, more than half of the Italian population sees China as a “friend,” while nearly half see Germany as an “enemy.”  (German Foreign Policy, 4/21)

ANTI-CHINESE FEELING HIGH IN GERMANY

In view of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the German media are stepping up their blame on China by moving to openly ask for compensation.  The People’s Republic “has caused the pandemic,” this is what the mainstream media repeatedly say.   And the Springer press insists on “compensation” by headlining “What China already owes us.”   The agitation began when it became apparent that the People’s Republic of China was able to overcome the crisis more lightly than the Western powers and their global rise are likely to continue, while the transatlantic states are in danger of being thrown back by their totally inadequate preparation for the pandemic.   The claims are accompanied by a massive anti-Chinese sentiment; just to make an example, it is currently stated that Peking follows a “strategy of unrestricted warfare, already formulated by the Chinese military a good two decades ago.   The statement is not correct, but it is similar to claims based on lies used against Russia for years.   (German Foreign Policy, 4/17/2020)

BERLIN – The editor-in-chief of Germany’s largest paper Bild on Thursday launched a full frontal attack on China’s communist President Xi Jinping for his regime’s failure to come clean about the coronavirus outbreak and the massive human rights violations carried out by the Communist Party.   Julian Reichelt, the prominent editor-in-chief of the Bild, wrote to Jinping that  “Your embassy in Berlin has addressed me in an open letter because we asked in our newspaper Bild whether China should pay for the massive economic damage the coronavirus is inflicting worldwide.”

He wrote that, “You [Jinping], your government and your scientists had to know long ago that coronavirus is highly infectious, but you left the world in the dark about it.  Your top experts didn’t respond when Western researchers asked to know what was going on in Wuhan.   You were too proud and too nationalistic to tell the truth, which you felt was a national disgrace.”

Reichelt said that, “You rule by surveillance.  You wouldn’t be president without surveillance.  You monitor everything, every citizen, but you refuse to monitor the diseased wet markets in your country.  You shut down every newspaper and website that is critical of your rule, but not the stalls where bat soup is sold.   You are not only monitoring your people, you are endangering them – and with them, the rest of the world.”

He continued with his bill of particulars, noting that “surveillance is a denial of freedom.   And a nation that is not free, is not creative.   A nation that is not innovative, does not invent anything.   This is why you have made your country the world champion in intellectual property theft.

“China enriches itself with the inventions of others, instead of inventing on its own,” Reichelt wrote.   “The reason China does not innovate and invent is that you don’t let the young people in your country think freely.   China’s greatest export hit (that nobody wanted to have, but which has nevertheless gone around the world) is coronavirus.”

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ISRAEL FINALLY GETS A NEW GOVERNMENT

Israel will soon have a new coalition government after an agreement was signed on Monday evening between Likud and Blue and White, putting an end to a 17-month political stalemate that resulted in three elections.

As part of the deal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has served as caretaker prime minister since December 2018, will remain prime minister for another 18 months and then will be replaced in October 2021 by Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, who will serve as vice prime minister in the meantime.   Netanyahu will be vice prime minister under Gantz after that, but if Netanyahu leaves the Prime Minister’s Office sooner, Gantz would already take over

“I promised the State of Israel a national emergency government that will work to save lives and livelihoods of Israeli citizens,” Netanyahu said.   Gantz expressed his relief that an election that would have been held on August 4 if a deal was not reached by May 7 had been averted.   “We prevented a fourth election,” Gantz said. “We will protect our democracy and fight against the coronavirus.”

US President Donald Trump’s peace plan, including its clauses enabling Israel to apply sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, will be able to be implemented in July, when maps are set to be finalized.   In a controversial clause, both Netanyahu and Gantz will have the right to an official residence fully funded by the state.   In another, the so-called Norwegian law will be changed to allow ministers to quit and new MKs to enter the Knesset, including in Blue and White, skipping over MKs from the Yesh Atid and Telem parties that will remain in the opposition.

The Movement for Quality Government and other watchdog groups petitioned the High Court of Justice late Monday, demanding that the court prevent Netanyahu from forming a government, due to his criminal indictments.

(MORE:  https://www.jpost.com/breaking-news/a-joint-meeting-between-netanyahu-and-gantz-to-start-soon-625241)

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South Africa deploys over 70,000 troops to enforce lockdown

More than 70,000 extra troops will be deployed in South Africa to help enforce a lockdown intended to stop the spread of coronavirus, President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced.  South Africa has had 3,465 confirmed coronavirus cases – second only to Egypt in Africa – and 58 deaths.  The country has some of the most stringent coronavirus lockdown restrictions in the world.  But security forces have struggled to enforce them.  Since 27 March only essential service providers, such as health workers, financial services providers, journalists and retail workers, are allowed to continue going to work.  Businesses that provide essential services have been applying for a special permit from the government that allows their members of staff to go outside.  The restrictions include no jogging outside, no sales of alcohol or cigarettes, no dog-walking, no leaving home except for essential trips and prison or heavy fines for law-breaking.

President Ramaphosa said he had decided to deploy an extra 73,180 soldiers in a letter addressed to parliament on Tuesday.

The lockdown restrictions currently apply until Thursday 30 April.

Economic relief package:   He also announced an economic relief package worth $26bn (£21bn) intended to protect companies and three million workers during the coronavirus pandemic. I  n a televised address, he said the assistance amounted to 10% of South Africa’s entire GDP.    Mr. Ramaphosa said the measures included tax relief, wage support through the unemployment insurance fund and funding to small businesses. (4/22/2020)   (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-52387962  

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AUSTRALIA’S REPUBLICANS AT IT AGAIN

The Australian Republican movement bears no resemblance to Republicans in the United States.  They are not a conservative force at all.   Their sole aim is to end Australia’s constitutional monarchy, which has helped the country achieve unparalleled stability and prosperity.  They have now stooped to attacking Queen Elizabeth’s faith, claiming it discriminates against other religions.  The fact is the Queen’s Protestantism and that of her ancestors laid a foundation of religious tolerance for the country.   The Queen, who turned 94 on Tuesday, is highly respected by most Australians.

PRO-republicans are engaged in a heartless waiting game as they plot to overturn Australia’s constitutional monarchy.

Realizing a vast majority of Australians retain a deep admiration for their 93-year-old Queen, republicans are counting down her demise before launching an emotion-charged assault on Australia’s constitution.

By taking this tack they hope to muddy the debate around the nation’s most important foundational document.

Their aim is to shift the conversation from one of constitutional protections and reason into an emotion-charged hysteria about the “un-likability” of Queen Elizabeth’s heirs.

If you think the Queen is nice, their argument goes, then we should remain a constitutional monarchy. But if her successor doesn’t do it for you, then we must change.

They believe time is on their side.   (Sean Burke, Politicom, 3/13/2020)

Politicom is a conservative Australian newsletter.

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US DEFEAT IN AFGHANISTAN

On February 29, 2020 – after 18 months of talks sponsored by Qatar in Doha – the U.S. and the jihadi group Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Taliban organization) signed an agreement in the Qatari capital on the future of Afghanistan.  The democratically elected government of Afghanistan, headed by Ashraf Ghani, was excluded from the talks and from the agreement, and, despite the fact that the Taliban rejected any ceasefire as a precondition for the talks, the U.S. capitulated and agreed to a one-week “Reduction In Violence” on the part of the Taliban.

The agreement was hailed as victory and as an American surrender by Al-Qaeda and by the Taliban leaders at celebratory events across Afghanistan.   The agreement was titled “Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan Between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Which is Not Recognized by the United States as a State And is Known as the Taliban, And the United States of America,” but the Islamic Emirate issued a statement in which it dubbed the pact the “Termination of Occupation Agreement Between the Islamic Emirate and U.S.”

A month after the Doha agreement, the democratically elected government of President Ashraf Ghani is being badgered by both the U.S. and the Taliban to free 5,000 Taliban prisoners.   (MEMRI,  4/21/2020)

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DOES EUROPE HAVE ANY CONSERVATIVES?

Does Europe have any conservatives?   That is, believers in individual responsibility, national independence, free markets, a single law for all, the traditional family, and maximum freedom of speech and religion.

Seemingly not. Politicians called conservative – such as Angela Merkel of Germany Jacques Chirac of France, and Fredrik Reinfeldt of Sweden – are often in reality mild leftists, as are their parties.  One might conclude that conservatism is defunct in its homeland.

One would be wrong.   A substantial conservative movement exists and is growing in Europe.  It is hiding in plain sight, obscured by being tarred as populists, nationalists, extreme-right, or even Neo‑Nazis.   I call this group by another name:   civilizationists, acknowledging that (1) they focus on preserving Western civilization and (2) they forward some distinctly un-conservative policies (such as increased welfare and pension payments).

Civilizationists’ top concern is not battling climate change, building the European Union, nor staving off Russian and Chinese aggression; rather, they focus on preserving Europe’s historic civilization of the past two millennia.  They worry about Europe becoming an extension of the Middle East or Africa.   Already, indigenous Europeans complain of feeling like strangers in their hometowns, of pensioners too scared to leave their houses, and of a school’s few Christian and Jewish students beat up by immigrant bullies.   Imagine how things will look as the proportions change.

The civilizationists’ anxiety contains four main elements: demography, immigration, multiculturalism, and Islamization (or DIMI, recalling the Arabic word dhimmi, the status of Jews and Christians who submit to the rule of Muslims).   (“Finding Europe’s hidden conservatives,” Daniel Pipes, 4/21/2020)

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AFRICAN LEADERS ENJOY FIRST CLASS MEDICAL CARE WHILE THEIR PEOPLE GO WITHOUT

When Muhammadu Buhari was elected president of Nigeria in 2015 — amid a wave of disgust towards the corruption that plagues his giant nation — he promised to put a stop to politicians flying abroad for medical treatment.   It was a popular pledge, especially after revelations that the state spent $1bn a year on health tourism for rich elites while offering dire services for almost everyone else.   He underlined his stance soon after taking office, telling a doctors’ conference he did not want “hard-earned resources” frittered away on officials seeking care abroad when it could be delivered at home.

Such fine and righteous words.   So there was fury the following year when this leader in his seventies flew to London for treatment of an ear infection.   This was “a tragic blot” on Nigeria’s image, thundered Dr. Osahon Enabulele, a former head of its medical association.  The new president, he added, should have used his minor ailment to focus people on the urgent need for domestic health reform.

But Buhari was not listening.   He went off on several more trips and, by the end of his first term last year, had spent at least 170 days in Britain on health grounds.

Buhari is far from the only African leader to display such lack of faith in his own nation.  Robert Mugabe died last year aged 95 in a Singaporean hospital, having so wrecked Zimbabwe and its medical system that life expectancy plummeted by 26 years at one point. “It is very symbolic the former president who presided over the system for three decades can’t trust the health system,” said one doctor after his death.  Other physicians complained of carrying out surgery without even putting on protective gloves.

Meles Zenawi ruled Ethiopia for 21 years, suckering Western admirers who overlooked his savage repression as they fell for his talk of development — yet this wily despot died in a Belgian hospital. Omar Bongo ran Gabon for 42 years, then died in Barcelona having plundered his country’s wealth obscenely while leaving his tiny 2.2m population trapped in poverty.

Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who ruled and ripped off Angola for almost as long, travelled to the same Catalan city for treatment. Algeria’s former president went to a Swiss hospital after running his nation for 20 years, then suffering a stroke.   Benin’s president went to France for surgery.   Two Zambian leaders died abroad while receiving medical attention.   (“Covid-19 will expose Africa’s tyrants”, Ian Birrell, Unherd, 4/20/2020)

Due to the pandemic,  Africa’s leaders can no longer travel abroad for medical treatment.

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IRAN’S DRONES CAN HIT ISRAEL

Iran’s Defense Ministry unveiled a mass of new drones [unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs] over the weekend for the Islamic Republic’s army and air force.   According to Tehran the drones have new capabilities, and can fly more than 1,000 km, which means they could reach Israel from Iran.

Iran has been producing drones since the 1980s and is an innovator in drone warfare.   It used 25 drones and cruise missiles to attack Saudi Arabia last September, and has flown drones into Israeli airspace.

Iran’s Defense Minister Brig.-Gen. Amir Hatami showed off the drones on Saturday.   He said that one jet-powered UAV could fly at speeds of 900 km per hour at an altitude of 12,000 meters.  This would rival the best drones that the US and other countries are now using.   These drones have a range of up to 1,500 km, he said, and can fly for several hours.   It is a message to Israel, the US and their allies: We can reach you.  (Iran’s drones can reach Israel, Seth Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, 4/19/2020)

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TO THE POINT

  • A UNIQUE RAMADAN BEGINS – The Islamic holy month of Ramadan will begin worldwide around April 23.   Because the month typically involves daily social gatherings and communal prayer in mosques, it will present yet more security and economic challenges to local and national governments in Muslim-majority countries already struggling to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.   With some countries like Egypt shutting down traditional Ramadan charity tents for fear of the virus spreading within them, the month could see an exacerbation of existing socioeconomic strain, and with it some disruption to stability over time.   In Indonesia, the annual Mudik pilgrimage could see an estimated 1.3 million people leave the Jakarta area for rural destinations across the archipelago — a potential vector to spread COVID-19 outside its current epicenter in the nation, and one the government has hesitated to crack down on.  (Stratfor, 4/18/2020)
  • With half the world in lockdown, with little else to do but Netflix-and-try-to-chill, the streaming giant unsurprisingly unveiled a bumper set of first-quarter results.   Netflix said it had added nearly 16m new subscribers in the quarter, 23% more than during the same period last year.   Net income, meanwhile, more than doubled to $709m over the same period.   (The Economist, 4/22/2020)
  • 24NYT, a Danish news service, reported on Sunday that the Danish Bible Society just published a revised translation of the New Testament.   The new edition has many surprises, including a new name:   the New Agreement.   But even more shocking is that the “New Agreement has all but removed any references to Israel, whether it describes the land or the people”.
  • Washington:   A day after laying out a roadmap for reviving economic activity, US President Donald Trump has urged his supporters to “liberate” three Democrat-led states, effectively calling for protests against stay-at-home orders aimed at containing the coronavirus.   In a series of tweets, the President urged people in Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia to rise up and “liberate” themselves from restrictions.  He also hit out at New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo for criticising the federal response.  Cuomo “should spend more time ‘doing’ and less time ‘complaining,”‘ he said, adding: “Less talk and more action!”  (AP, 4/18/2020)
  • Corona and the Rise of the German Police State by Thomas Klikauer (author), Jeffrey St. Clair, Editor of Counterpunch (California).       The current crisis is used to prevent protests and to impose measures in a highly authoritarian way.  Currently, there is not much resistance against police measures.   Currently, signs are that Germany is moving [toward] more restrictions issued every day.  There might not be a fully developed police state in Germany but democracy is suffering in Germany and elsewhere.   https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/04/17/corona-and-the-rise-of-the-german-police-state/)

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AFTER THOUGHT

Scientists (including medical experts) are highly respected right now.

It hasn’t always been that way.  There was a time when science had to bow to religion.  All new theories had to fit with the teachings of the established church.

The theory of evolution in 1859 changed all that.

A lot of good has been achieved, but it should also be remembered that there’s been a negative side to science:  abortion, euthanasia, nuclear weapons to name just three.

We must be careful not to elevate scientists and health care professionals, which we are in danger of doing right now.   Scientists likely caused the corona virus through experiments in Wuhan.

We must also be concerned that a victory over corona does not extend to a carte blanche on all things to do with the environment.   A highly respected profession may take us in a direction that could cause all kinds of problems.

All Christians should remember to “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matt 6:33).   A British news program said earlier this week that:  “the NHS is the closest thing Britain has to a national religion.”   Comments like this one are disturbing.

Worshipping science or the health services would be unwise.  That way, we set ourselves up for a fall.

MR     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

US-EU RIFT GETS WORSE

Hello everybody,

The election dominates US news.   There are many conflicting reports.

In Michigan, polls show Trump losing to every prominent Democratic candidate.   Yet, at the same time, his rallies (and those for VP Mike Pence) attract audiences too big to be accommodated.

And note the following report from the Munich Security Conference (read article “Munich Security Conference,” further down).  “Europeans widely expect Trump to be re-elected this fall.”

Meanwhile, the Democratic debate held last night in South Carolina, shows the party tearing itself apart.   Amy Klobuchar said it best:   “If we continue to tear each other apart over the next four months, we will see Trump continue to tear the country apart for the next four years.”  Another House Democrat described the seven Democrats on stage as a “circular firing squad.”   They should remember the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 12:25 — “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” words quoted by Abraham Lincoln on the eve of the Civil War.  With Trump so universally “hated,” it’s incredible the Democrats can’t come up with a winning candidate!

The second issue that dominates the news is the coronavirus.  Hopefully, this will not have the death toll of the various plagues that hit the world during the Middle Ages.   Justinian’s “flea” (probably bubonic plague) killed a manageable 5,000 a day in the first month; then 10,000 a day.   The population was greatly diminished.   As with the coronavirus, it was spread through trade and international travel.   It was the same in the 14th century, 800 years later, when the plague hit Europe again.  The death toll was a staggering 50% of the people.  Just over a century ago, the Spanish flu infected 500 million people worldwide, about one third of the world’s population.   It killed an estimated 20-50 million, including some 675,000 Americans.

We will get through it, but it may kill millions before it’s over.

One final thought on the election:   At least two of the candidates for the Democratic party claim to be Christians.   Voters, however, should be careful here.   All seven of the people appearing last night support a woman’s right to murder her baby!  (To be fair, so do some Republicans.)

Have a great week.

Melvin   

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Very early this morning, I came across a show on PBS World called “Gzero World”, with Ian Bremmer. Today they were reporting from the Munich Security Conference on world security issues.  The first four items come from their website.

US-EU RIFT GETS WORSE

The risk of a major technology blow-up between the US and Europe is growing.   A few weeks ago, we wrote about how the European Union wanted to boost its “technological sovereignty” by tightening its oversight of Big Tech and promoting its own alternatives to big US and Chinese firms in areas like cloud computing and artificial intelligence.

Last week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and her top digital officials unveiled their first concrete proposals for regulating AI, and pledged to invest billions of euros to turn Europe into a data superpower.    (Gzero World, 2/25/2020)

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Communal violence in Delhi:   Over the past few days, India’s capital city has seen its deadliest communal violence in decades.  This week’s surge in mob violence began as a standoff between protesters against a new citizenship law that critics say discriminates against India’s Muslims and the law’s Hindu nationalist defenders.   Clashes between Hindu and Muslim mobs in majority-Muslim neighborhoods in northeast Delhi have killed at least 11 people, both Muslim and Hindu, since Sunday.   We’re watching to see how Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government responds – Delhi’s police force reports to federal, rather than local, officials.(Gzero World, 2/25/2020)

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Unlikely jihadist bedfellows:   For years, the jihadists of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have been at odds over territory and ideology. Bloody clashes between offshoots of the two groups have become commonplace in Yemen and Syria, further destabilizing those war-torn countries.   But now, strangely, ISIS and al-Qaeda linked groups appear to have joined forces in West Africa, recruiting locals and divvying up vast swathes of territory in the Sahel – a semi-arid area stretching across the southern edge of the Sahara Desert.  Motivated by mutual practical interests and common foes – Western forces and local governments – they’ve set aside their doctrinal differences and are gaining ground in states with weak central governments like Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, the US military recently said.  This all comes as the Trump administration is weighing a sizable drawdown of US troops in West Africa.  (Gzero World, 2/25/2020)

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US-China tit-for-tat retaliations:   The Trump administration is weighing up retribution against Chinese journalists and state-owned media – as well as Chinese intelligence agencies – after Beijing expelled three Wall Street Journal reporters last week over an opinion column that criticized Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus.  The Chinese Foreign Ministry, incensed by the “China is the Real Sick Man of Asia” headline, demanded an apology from the Journal before booting three of its reporters, none of whom had anything to do with the column.   If the US responds in kind, it could lead to a cycle of tit-for-tat retribution and animosity between Washington and Beijing just as a preliminary trade agreement appears to have eased mounting tensions between the world’s two largest economies.   We’re watching to see if the Trump administration follows through on its threat – or if it’s just bluster.  (Gzero World, 2/25/2020)

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MUNICH SECURITY CONFERENCE

The annual gathering of the Munich Security Conference provides a useful barometer for the health of the transatlantic relationship. Two years ago, Europeans were reeling from the first year of the Trump administration.   Last year, they were resigned to that reality and determined to press ahead.  This past weekend, everyone was searching for a savior to address critical challenges amid a lack of global leadership.

Europeans widely expect Trump to be re-elected this fall.   After their shock at his 2016 victory, they seem to be bracing for the worst, but remain unprepared for the consequences.   They inquired about Democratic presidential candidates, asking what Bernie Sanders would mean for Europe and whether Michael Bloomberg was a good compromise for moderates.  (Amanda Sloat, Brookings, 2/18/2020)

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TRUMP EMBRACED BY ENTHUSIASTIC INDIANS

“It was the Trumpiest of offers.

“A rally at one of the world’s largest stadiums.   A crowd of millions cheering him on.   A love fest during an election year.”   (Lansing State Journal, 2/24/2020).

The stadium is the world’s biggest cricket stadium.  I wonder if President Trump was aware that cricket was the preferred sport of fellow Republican, Abraham Lincoln?

An incredible welcome from the world’s second most populous nation.  President Trump is hoping for a trade deal with India.

Sadly, it coincided with massive demonstrations against a new Indian immigration bill, which discriminates against Muslims.  At least twenty people have been killed.

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ISRAEL NOW RECOGNIZED BY 161 COUNTRIES

161 countries now have diplomatic relations with Israel, which is the highest number that it has ever been for the Jewish state.  Increasingly, the community of nations cares less about Palestinian objections and more about what Israel has to offer.   (Israel National News, 2/24/2020)

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NEVER ENDING SYRIAN CONFLICT

At a four-way summit with the leaders of Russia, Turkey and France, Angela Merkel will seek to influence the future of the northern Syrian province Idlib.  The summit, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on the weekend is to be held next week.  It will explore options for ending the fighting in the province, where, over the past few weeks, Syrian troops have been advancing on militias.  Usually referred to as “rebels” in the German media, they are, in fact, dominated by an al Qaeda subsidiary.  The combat has deepened dissention between Russia and Turkey on how to go forward in Syria, raising new hopes among western powers for driving a wedge between Ankara and Moscow.   Prior to the summit, however, specialists are pointing out that Berlin hardly has any options for exerting influence in Syria.  The EU sees the overthrow of the government in Damascus as the precondition for granting desperately needed reconstruction aid.    (German Foreign Policy, 2/25/2020)

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MACRON VOWS CRACKDOWN ON POLITICAL ISLAM

“The problem is when, in the name of a religion, some people want to separate themselves from the Republic and therefore not respect its laws.” — French President Emmanuel Macron, February 18, 2020.   (Soeren Kern, Gatestone, 2/21/2020)

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SWEDISH MIGRANT CRISIS

“For the first time now, more crimes – in absolute terms – are committed by persons of foreign background than by persons of Swedish origin . . .   The most crime-prone population subgroup are people born [in Sweden] to two foreign-born parents.” — Report by Det Goda Samhället (“The Good Society”), summer of 2019. (Judith Bergman, Gatestone, 2/26)

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UK GROOMING GANGS TO REMAIN A SECRET

DAILYKENN.com — It’s a state secret.  No one is to know the ethnicity of grooming gang members.  The thugs are responsible for trafficking nearly 19,000 British girls in one year.

Who are these people?  No one knows because  Boris Johnson’s government won’t release statistics that reveal their ethnicity.

The truth is, of course, that the government doesn’t need to release the data because everyone knows the preponderance of the gang members are from non-white Islamic regions of the world.  Nearly all are ethnic Pakistanis.

It’s akin to the n-word.  No one dares say it, but everyone knows what it means.   Authorities said that releasing the data would not be in the public interest.

Survivors accused ministers of making “empty promises,” while a man who prosecuted abusers in Rochdale called for the Home Office to “show some courage and publish” its findings.

It comes after The Independent revealed that almost 19,000 suspected child sexual exploitation victims were identified by local authorities in just one year, sparking renewed calls for prevention efforts.   (Daily Kenn, 2/25/2020)

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GAY CONVERSION THERAPY BANNED IN MORE COUNTRIES

Global momentum is growing to ban so-called gay “conversion therapy,” with bills drawn up in nine countries, a rights group said on Wednesday.

The United States, Canada, Chile, Mexico and Germany are among countries seeking to outlaw the treatment, which includes practices from electric shocks to “praying away the gay” and is based on the belief that being gay or transgender is a mental illness that can be “cured,” Ilga, an LGBT+ advocacy group, said.

Worldwide, only Brazil, Ecuador and Malta have national bans on conversion therapy, condemned as ineffective and harmful to mental health by more than 60 associations of doctors, psychologists or counsellors globally, the Ilga study said.

“The main driving force [for reform] is survivors with their testimonies coming forwards,” Lucas Ramon Mendos, author of the Ilga report, which said 2020 could be a turning point in the fight against “therapies” that have ruined many lives.

“A lot of awareness is being created through their testimony,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.   (Rachel Savage, Independent, 2/26/2020)

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TO THE POINT

  • A headline in our local newspaper, the Lansing State Journal, appeared Monday.   It read: ‘White supremacy seeps into public, experts warn.”   It added:   “Incidents show startling jump over the past year.”   The article went on to show that violence emanating from “white supremacist groups” is increasing and is expected to grow further in the years ahead.   There is no excuse for violence.  But surely this is a reaction to the massive immigration of recent years and the constant emphasis on multiculturalism.   Until both change, there will be a constant threat from the political “right.”  It’s a reaction to the “extreme left.”
  • There’s a plan in Michigan to expand the options offered on payday loans.  These “short term, high cost financial products,” have trapped millions of families into a never ending “costly and potentially catastrophic cycle of debt.”  (David Snodgrass,  Lansing State Journal, 2/20/2020).   The bill “would allow lenders to charge a monthly service fee of 11% on the principal of a loan, equivalent to an APR of around 132%.   In practical terms, this means a borrower would end up paying more than $7,000 to pay off a $2,500 two-year loan.”   Heed the following biblical advice:  “If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you.  Do not take interest or any profit from them, but fear your God, so that they may continue to live among you.” (Lev. 25:35-36)
  • I went to a concert on Monday evening.   The Academy of St Martin in the Fields played Brahms Symphony Number 4, along with a violin concerto by Paganini and a short piece by Mozart.  It was a delightful and relaxing evening with good friends.
  • Also relaxing (and gripping) is my latest “read:”   “The Race to save the Romanovs” by Helen Rappaport was published in 2018.  After the Russian revolution in 1917 the Romanov family were under house arrest.   When the communists came to power later in the year, their situation deteriorated fast.   Many people wanted to save them and their five young children, but no attempt got very far; eventually, they were all brutally murdered.   The Bolsheviks were, if nothing else, thorough – killing all their opponents for over seventy years!   The deaths of the children were particularly reprehensible.   Today’s Russians have tried to make amends by canonizing each member of the Imperial Family.  28% of Russians polled said they would like to see the monarchy restored.   But how do you restore it when you killed everybody off?    (Interestingly, 28% is roughly the support US presidents get; when you consider that only 54.9% bothered to vote in the last election.)    Maurice Paleologue was the French Ambassador to Russia at the time of the revolution.   He said the only man who could have saved them was Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany.   The Russians had been fighting the Germans, along with the British and the French.  The Kaiser helped Lenin get to Russia and, when he assumed power, entered into a peace deal with him, so that Russia could leave the war.    The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk of 1918 could have (should have) included a clause freeing the Czar and his family.   Wilhelm was related to the Russian Imperial Family.  He particularly loved the children.   Why didn’t he save them?

WILL NATO MAKE IT TO 70?

President Emmanuel Macron of France concerned about a “brain dead” NATO.. (Reuters)

NATO leaders are meeting in London December 3rd & 4th to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the organization, which has been credited with maintaining world peace.   President Macron of France has declared the organization “brain dead.”   Could NATO fall apart?

President Emmanuel Macron of France has described Nato as “brain dead,” stressing what he sees as waning commitment to the transatlantic alliance by its main guarantor, the US.

Interviewed by The Economist, he cited the US failure to consult Nato before pulling forces out of northern Syria.  He also questioned whether Nato was still committed to collective defense.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a key ally, said she disagreed with Mr. Macron’s “drastic words.”

Nato, which celebrates 70 years since its founding at a London summit next month, has responded by saying the alliance remains strong.

What else did the French president say?

“What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of Nato,” Mr. Macron told the London-based newspaper.

He warned European members that they could no longer rely on the US to defend the alliance, established at the start of the Cold War to bolster Western European and US security.   (BBC News 11/7/2019)

Franco-German disagreements are accompanying French President Emmanuel Macron’s current trip to China, where he is assuming the role of a leading EU representative.   He is promoting a speedy conclusion of an economic treaty between the Union and the People’s Republic.   He is accompanied by the Union’s designated Trade Commissioner, Phil Hogan, and Germany’s Minister of Education and Research, Anja Karliczek.   This is his way of seeking to lay the groundwork for a unified EU policy regarding China – contrary to Germany’s pursuit of its national interests in its relationship to Beijing.   Germany usually seeks a common approach toward the People’s Republic of China, when other EU countries, such as Greece or Italy, begin to closely cooperate with China within the framework of the “New Silk Road” project.   Macron is making an effort to set both confrontational and cooperative EU policies toward Beijing, and thereby position the Union on an equal footing between the USA and China.   (German Foreign Policy, 11/8/2019)

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ENERGY BOOST FOR ISRAEL

Before discovering major natural gas field

, which began with the Noa gas field off the shores of Ashkelon in 1999 and the more significant findings in 2009 of Tamar and Leviathan, it was widely assumed that the country lacked natural resources.   Finding large sources of natural gas has freed Israel from its dependency of energy sources from abroad and transformed the country into an energy supplier, both domestically and abroad.

Israel is pegged to deliver natural gas to Jordan and Egypt, valued at $26 billion.   It is also planning to construct a 2,000-km pipeline to supply Eastern Mediterranean gas to Europe.   (United with Israel)

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BRITISH LABOUR PARTY ANTI-SEMITIC                                                  From the Jewish Chronicle, UK, November 8th:

The vast majority of British Jews consider Jeremy Corbyn to be an antisemite.  In the most recent poll, last month, the figure was 87 per cent.

Putting oneself in the shoes of another person, or another group, can be difficult.   But we believe it is important — and urgent — that you do that.   Perhaps the fact that nearly half (47 per cent) of the Jewish community said in that same poll that they would “seriously consider” emigrating if Mr. Corbyn wins on December 12 will give you an indication of what it feels like to be a British Jew at a time when the official opposition is led by a man widely held to be an antisemite.

There is racism on all sides of politics and it must be called out wherever it is found.   History has forced our community to be able to spot extremism as it emerges — and Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader in 2015 is one such example.

Throughout his career, he has allied with and supported antisemites such as Paul Eisen, Stephen Sizer and Raed Salah.   He has described organizations like Hamas, whose founding charter commits it to the extermination of every Jew on the planet, as his “friends.”   He has laid a wreath to honor terrorists who have murdered Jews.   He has insulted “Zionists” — the word used by antisemites when they mean “Jew” because they think it allows them to get away with it — as lacking understanding of “English irony.”

Mr. Corbyn should take note of Genesis 12:3. 3 – And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

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AUSTRALIAN DROUGHT RELIEF PACKAGE HITS THE POLITICAL SPOT BUT MISSES THE BIGGER POINT

There are two basic components to the Morrison government’s latest A$1 billion package response to the drought affecting large parts eastern Australia.   One part involves extra subsidies to farmers and farm-related business.   The other involves measures to create or upgrade infrastructure in rural areas.

Unfortunately, most funds will be misdirected and the response is unlikely to secure the long-term prosperity of regional and rural communities.   This is a quick fix to a political problem, appealing to an important constituency.   But it misses the point, again, about the emerging economics of drought.

Hitting the political target

The bulk of the A$1 billion package is allocated to a loan fund.   The terms of the ten-year loans are more generous than what has been offered in the past.   They are now interest-free for two years, with no requirement to start paying back the principal till the sixth year.

Farmers will be able to borrow up to A$2 million.   In addition, loans of up to A$500,000 will also be available to small businesses in drought-affected towns.

Because recipients are not having to pay the full cost, these loans are in practice a form of subsidy.   (The Conversation, 11/6)

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ATTACK BY ISLAMISTS ON CANADIAN COMPANY WORKERS

Gunmen in Burkina Faso have killed nearly 40 civilians in an ambush on a convoy transporting workers for the Canadian goldminer Semafo, regional authorities have said.

The attack on Wednesday underlines the growing instability in the Sahel, where Islamist extremist groups have grown in influence and power over the past decade.

Semafo said in an earlier statement that the attack on a convoy of five buses with a military escort took place on the road to its Boungou mine in the eastern region of Est, about 40km (25 miles) from Boungou, and that there had been several deaths and injuries.   (The Guardian, 11/7)

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OHIO MAN PLOTTED ATTACK

An Ohio man pleaded guilty to planning a Fourth of July bombing in Cleveland.

Demetrius Pitts, 50, also pleaded guilty to threatening the life of U.S. President Donald Trump and the president’s immediate family.   Pitt, who is from Philadelphia, planned to park a van full of explosives in the downtown area and detonate it during the annual fireworks display.   He also wanted to join al-Qaeda.

Pitt, who also went by the names Abdul Raheem Rafeeq and Salah ad-Deen Osama Waleed, became radicalized and began expressing anti-American sentiments in 2015.

He scouted downtown Cleveland on a reconnaissance mission before the attack, looking for a place to park his van for the Fourth of July bombing.   (Clarion Project, 11/7/2019)

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THE THIN VENEER OF CIVILIZATION COLLAPSING IN HONG KONG

The same deterioration in norms is glaringly evident in the actions of the Hong Kong Police Force, which was once considered the finest in Asia, if not the world, and whose slogan is to “serve with pride and care.”   Today, they openly refer to Hong Kong citizens as “cockroaches” and “trash.”   Protesters respond by calling them “dogs.”   This is the language of genocide.

“This willingness to stomach previously unthinkable acts is astonishing in a place ranked seventh by the UN in terms of human development, with some of the healthiest, longest-living, best educated, richest and most worldly citizens on earth.   If this breakdown can happen in Hong Kong it can happen anywhere.   And while a civil society can be torn apart virtually overnight, it almost always takes decades to build it back up.   (“Events in Hong Kong reveal the thin veneer of civilization,” Jamil Anderlini, Financial Times, 11/13).

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ISLAMISTS CROSSING BORDER

Often lost in the discussion of hundreds of thousands of Central Americans pouring over the southern border is that migrants from Muslim-majority countries where Islamist terrorist groups operate arrive among them almost every day.   The corporate media hates talking about this.   But most border-crossers show up without any identification and little vetting, giving rise to U.S. national security efforts to stifle this human traffic for fear of terrorist infiltration, a threat about which I have written extensively.

Every so often, smugglers of migrants from countries of national security concern — known in government parlance as “special interest aliens” — are caught and brought to American justice.   Such was the case last week, when a federal judge in a Del Rio, Texas, courtroom empty of news reporters sentenced a Mexico-based Jordanian smuggler named Moayad Heider Mohammad Aldairi to three years in the federal penitentiary on a guilty plea.   (MEF, 11/8/2019)

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IRAN’S NETWORK OF INFLUENCE IN MIDEAST IS GROWING     by Frank Gardner, BBC security correspondent, 7 Nov 2019

Iran is winning the strategic struggle for influence in the Middle East against its rival, Saudi Arabia, according to a study by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).  Iran’s regional rivals have spent billions of dollars on Western weaponry, much of it from the UK.   Yet for a fraction of that cost, sanctions-bound Iran has been able to successfully embed itself across the region into a position of strategic advantage.   It has a major influence – verging on a controlling influence in some cases – over the affairs of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen.(https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-50324912)

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that US President Donald Trump is the “best US president” so far in his opinion, because he is honest about American intentions to grab Arab oil, Reuters reported on Friday citing Syrian official television.

Assad also said he is skeptical about Trump’s declaration US forces killed ISIS leader al-Baghdadi.   In this perspective, he seems to be in-line with the Russian view as Russia also expressed desire to see further evidence to the claim.  (JPost).(https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Syrian-leader-Bashar-Assad-Donald-Trump-is-the-best-US-President-606534)

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 TO THE POINT

  • “The Scottish government’s statistics show that 60% of Scottish trade goes to the rest of the UK; that Scottish public spending is boosted by $2,530 per person via Westminster’s Barnet formula; and that Scotland’s deficit is over twice as high as the 3% level which would be required if an independent Scotland were to try to join the European Union.”   (Alastair Cameron, Director, Scotland in Union; Letters, The Economist, 11/2/2019)
  • China, with control of 5G, will be in a position to remotely manipulate the world’s devices.   In peacetime, Beijing could have the ability to drive cars off cliffs, unlock front doors, and turn off pacemakers.   In war, Beijing could paralyze critical infrastructure.   (Gatestone, 11/7)
  • After a rocky start to Britain’s general-election campaign for the ruling Conservatives, the main opposition Labour Party also ran into problems.   Tom Watson—often at odds with his chief, Jeremy Corbyn—resigned as the party’s deputy leader and an MP and minister.   And Ian Austin, a former Labour MP, said Mr. Corbyn was “completely unfit” to be prime minister and voters should back the Tories.   (The Economist, 11/7)
  • The National Health Service (NHS), the government-run medical system in the UK, is being discussed a great deal in the election campaign.   Labour accuses the Conservatives of wanting a trade deal with the US that will open up the NHS to American companies, particularly pharmaceutical companies.   This would, they claim, make the price of many drugs too expensive for consumers.   It’s scare mongering, as Mr. Johnson has already said that won’t happen.   But it belies the fact that a serious discussion is needed on the future of the NHS, the biggest employer in Europe and a sacred cow if ever there was one.   The last time I saw figures, the cost of the NHS was rising by 8% a year, while the economy was growing at only 2%.   As viewers of Dr. Finley on British TV will be aware, there was a great deal of opposition to the NHS when it started in 1948.   It may be time to look again at the arguments and see if there isn’t a better way of delivering health care.
  • If you want to see accurate history portrayed on television, try Russian TV.   At least, the programs offered on Amazon Prime.   We’ve just finished watching “Ekaterina,” a ten-part series on the rise of Catherine the Great, the eighteenth century Russian Czar who was actually from Germany.   Earlier this year, we watched “Sophia,” an 8-part series on Ivan III, who was 300 years earlier. Ivan chose to marry the heir to the Byzantine throne after the fall of Constantinople.   Fascinating stuff.   If the Russians keep this up, they could put Mel Gibson out of business (his two movies “Braveheart” and “The Patriot” were notable for their historical inaccuracies!)

 

 

TRUDEAU, NETANYAHU ACCUSED OF CORRUPTION

Two of the most prominent prime ministers of the western world are being accused of corruption.   The removal of one could make a big difference in regional security.

According to the Guardian yesterday:

“Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is facing the biggest political scandal of his administration.   The affair centers around allegations that his former attorney general, Jody-Wilson Raybould, was improperly pressured by some of his closest advisers to prevent the prosecution of a large Canadian engineering firm over accusations of fraud and bribery.   Thus far, the scandal has been politically costly; Gerald Butts, a longtime friend of Trudeau’s, and his closest adviser, resigned two weeks ago.   Wilson-Raybould has resigned, too.   A handful of polls are showing the scandal is politically unpopular for the governing Liberals – which is worrying for them, given there is a federal election in October.”

And, in Israel:

Israel’s attorney general intends to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on corruption charges.

Mr. Netanyahu faces possible charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in connection with three cases.   The prime minister is alleged to have accepted gifts from wealthy businessmen and dispensed favors to try to get more positive press coverage.

Mr. Netanyahu, who faces an election, said in a TV address that the case would “collapse like a house of cards.”   In a defiant broadcast, he repeated his assertion that he is the victim of a left-wing “witch-hunt” intended to topple him ahead of the closely contested election on 9th April.   (BBC, 3/1)

Mr Netanyahu has made Israel a lot stronger in recent years.  His departure could weaken the country

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FRANCE

“A nasty brew — anti-semitic, anti-black, anti-elite – is bubbling in France”.

“A climate of hate is emerging in France.   The targets are varied, apparently unconnected and shifting: Jews, journalists, the rich, policemen, members of parliament, the president.

“When the yellow vest movement emerged last November, it was broadly a social protest and fiscal revolt.   But the infiltration of ultra-left and extreme right agitators, and the determination of a radical core to seek the overthrow of Mr. Macron, has hardened the movement’s edge.  Weekly scenes of violent clashes with riot police fill French television screens and plumes of tear gas fill the air on the streets of Paris and other cities.  This relentless backdrop seems to have legitimized a form of violent hate.  What was once confined to the unhinged ramblings of social media groups has erupted into public.”   (‘Spreading like poison,” The Economist, February 23rd.)

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CHINA/SAUDI ARABIA GET CLOSER

“It is, in its way, the most shocking spectacle in world politics since the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union:   Even as Beijing is stepping up its persecution of Muslim Uighurs, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia cozied up to Chinese President Xi Jinping on his trip to China last week.

“More than a million Uighur Muslims are said to be held in Chinese concentration  and “reeducation” camps, where beatings and mass rapes are reliably reported to be perpetrated against detainees.   Yet the Crown Prince of the leading Sunni Islamic state signed almost $30 billion in trade agreements with China, hailed the long problem-free relationship between the two countries, pledged support for the Belt and Road initiative, and announced that Saudi Arabia respected China’s need to protect its domestic security in its own way.

“Saudi Arabia is not the only Muslim power kowtowing to China. Pakistan has also fallen strangely silent when it comes to the concentration camps now dotting the landscape in Xinjiang.   A country that regularly whips itself into fits of murderous rage over the supposed plight of Muslims in Indian-controlled Kashmir remains rigorously calm about the massive religious repression by its more powerful neighbor.

“Another sign of the strange new brotherhood between Islam and its persecutors:   Saudi Arabia has pledged $10 billion to help build a refinery in the Pakistani port of Gwadar to speed Gulf oil across Eurasia.   Among other things, the refinery will make it easier for China to fuel the vehicles transporting Muslim detainees to concentration camps.”   (“The Saudis hedge their American bets,” WSJ, 2/26).

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PAKISTANI JIHADISTS KILL 40 INDIANS

A terror attack by a Pakistani jihadist group could lead to war between India and Pakistan, two nuclear powers, after the Pakistani group attacked and killed 40 Indian troops in Kashmir.

The responsible party was Jaish-e-Mohammed (Army of Mohammed).

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US WANTS TO ARREST BIN LADEN’S SON

“A son of Osama bin Laden is emerging as a leader in al Qaeda, the US State Department says, and it’s willing to pay up to $1 million for information on his whereabouts.   Hamza bin Laden, whose father was killed by US Navy Seals in Pakistan in 2011, is taking the reins of the terror group, the State Department said late Thursday.

“The State Department wants information on Hamza bin Laden.

“Hamza bin Laden . . . is emerging as a leader” in the al Qaeda franchise, the department said in a statement.   “He has released audio and video messages on the Internet, calling on his followers to launch attacks against the United States and its Western allies, and he has threatened attacks against the United States in revenge for the May 2011 killing of his father by US military forces.”  (CNN, 3/1)

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QT ANGER OVER BREXIT

The BBC’s Question Time is one of the most popular programs on British television.   It gives a live audience (supposedly representing all viewpoints) the opportunity to express themselves on important topics.   Last Night’s QT was no exception.   The subject of Brexit was being discussed.

With only four weeks to go until the date of Britain’s departure from the EU, one member of the audience accused Britain’s three main political parties of betraying the British people.

“A furious Question Time audience member ripped into MPs on the BBC panel insisting all parties had “betrayed” Britons’ Brexit vote. The audience member pointed out Theresa May’s commitment to leaving the EU on March 29, amid fears of a delay, and Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto pledge to deliver Brexit, with the party moving towards backing People’s Vote (a second referendum).  The audience member said:   “I actually think all three parties have betrayed every single one of us.

“Theresa May, 52 times, said we will leave on March 29, she is now extending.   Well, probably will.

“Corbyn said we won’t have a second referendum, now he is going to entertain that.

“Liberals, Nick Clegg ,said there won’t be a European army.”

There’s been a lot of lying over Brexit.   Could this be the end of British democracy, as we have known it?

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EU BACKS SPANISH CLAIM TO GIBRALTAR

The British government has complained about language in EU contingency plans over a no-deal Brexit.   Under the legislation, direct flights between the EU and the UK will continue for nine months in the event of a no-deal Brexit.   But Gibraltar International Airport isn’t included in Brussels’ plan, which refers to Spain’s claim on the 800-metre section of land.

IRAQ WAR INQUIRY

iran-map-region

Further evidence that our leaders are out of touch with reality is not needed.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said yesterday that the world is a better place because of the Iraq War.

Perhaps he has stopped watching the news.  That would be understandable, considering that the ripple effect of the US-British invasion of Iraq in 2003 continues to this day.   On Sunday, 281 people were killed in a bomb blast at a shopping mall in Baghdad, the capital.

When I heard the news I thought of the period between the two world wars, after the Treaty of Paris created Iraq and Syria out of the rubble of the Ottoman Empire.   I remember reading a couple of novels by Agatha Christie titled “Murder in Mesopotamia” and “They came to Baghdad.”   The novels were set in Iraq, which Dame Agatha knew well – she had lived there for a few years with her husband, Max Mallowan, the famed archaeologist.  They first met in the ancient city of Ur in 1928 and lived in Mosul on and off when they were married.   Their association with the country continued until 1963.   They discovered many artifacts from ancient Nimrud, most of which were looted by the Assyrians when they invaded Lebanon and Syria. Agatha Christie used her face cream to clean these treasures. During this period of time, Iraq was at peace and the people lived under a fairly liberal constitutional monarchy.   It all changed after a revolution in 1958.   58 years later, it continues to get worse. Thankfully, Dame Agatha died in 1976, three years before Saddam came to power.   She did not live to see the disaster the country has become.

Mr. Blair’s press conference followed the publication of the Iraq War Inquiry, a six-year project chaired by Sir John Chilcot.   The Chilcot Report was scathing in its criticism of Mr. Blair and his role in the war.   Amongst other things, he was criticized for so readily going to war alongside the Americans, when peaceful options had not been exhausted.   In a memo to President Bush, Mr. Blair wrote he was with him “whatever.”   179 British men and women were killed and hundreds injured.   The invasion, which began in March, 2003, brought to the surface the 1,400 year struggle between Sunnis and Shi’ites – a conflict seemingly without end.

Sir John Chilcot finally published the report of the Iraq War Inquiry on Wednesday.   I’m surprised it got so little attention in the US as there are implications for former President George W. Bush.   There are calls in the United Kingdom, following the publication of the report, for former Prime Minister Tony Blair to be prosecuted as a war criminal.   Demonstrators yesterday carried signs with Blair’s name spelt “Bliar!”

To be fair, both Bush and Blair were presented with faulty intelligence that showed Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction.”  This turned out not to be the case.   Mr. Blair said yesterday that if he was presented with the same evidence today, he would make the same decision.

What is utterly amazing is Mr. Blair’s claim that the world is a better place following the removal of Saddam.

One Iraqi in Baghdad, asked to comment on BBC World News following the report, said that if he had the opportunity he would tell Mr. Blair, to his face, that “he is a criminal – and I would spit in his face!”  No doubt, feelings about George W. Bush are the same.   The invasion of Iraq will negatively affect relations with the West for decades to come.   It has already led directly to the creation of ISIS and the growth of Al-Qaeda (which did not exist in Iraq prior to the war).   These two terrorist movements seriously imperil the West.

One contributory factor to the war was the naivety of the two western leaders, believing that the overthrow of Saddam and the “introduction” of democracy, would bring regional stability as democracy would spread and, as we all know, democracies do not go to war, a fallacy in itself!

Perhaps all this had to happen.   The Middle East is the epicenter of the final apocalyptic events found in both the Christian Bible and in Islam. Thanks to the invasion of Iraq, we now have a Shia arc that embraces Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.  Over 2,300 years ago, following the death of Alexander the Great, this was the territory of his general Seleucus, the “King of the North” we read about in Daniel 11.   Some of the area was taken over by Rome in the first century BC.

A revived King of the North plays a major role in end-time events.

The decision to invade Iraq triggered off so many inter-factional conflicts, it’s impossible for western leaders to begin to comprehend it all.   That alone is a very good reason why we should never have got involved in the first place.

Unfortunately, the damage has been done and we will all have to live with the consequences.

JUST ONE FRONT PAGE

 

Sunday Telegraph 5:8:2016

A British quality Sunday newspaper is a joy to behold.  Only three are left, now that The Independent on Sunday has folded.  The three are the Sunday Times, the Observer and the Sunday Telegraph.  Friends brought me a copy of the latter, a conservative paper, when they arrived in the US from England a few days ago.   I am very grateful for the paper, even though it’s a few days old.

In actual fact, it’s now eight day old, but still very relevant.

On the front page are two articles that reveal a great deal about Britain today.

The lead article, “Migration pressure on schools revealed,” by Tim Ross, highlights the reality of an extra 700,000 foreign language pupils in British public (state) schools.   (Multiply that by five to get the US equivalent.)   Additional funds are needed when pupils speak multiple languages.   The cost to the UK taxpayer will run into the multiple millions.

The immigrants profiled in the article are from other EU countries. They do not include the latest refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, nor do they include Indians and Africans who have been entering the UK for decades.   Free movement of peoples within the European Union, including the United Kingdom, has led to this situation.  It may be a decisive factor in June’s referendum, when the British people get the opportunity to vote on remaining or leaving the Union.

A second front-page article bears the headline “Terror suspects win human rights battle” by Robert Verkaik and Robert Mendick.  The first two paragraphs read:   “Six Algerian terror suspects with links to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda are to be allowed to stay in Britain after the Home Secretary admitted defeat in a 10-year legal battle to deport them.  The move follows a challenge under the Human Rights Act which found that the men were at risk of torture if they were deported to Algeria.”   No doubt these men, linked to terror, will be entitled to receive state benefits in the UK.  This means that their terrorist activities will be financed by the British taxpayer.   The taxpayer has already had to pay out for ten years of legal fees to cover both sides in the dispute.

After finishing the paper yesterday (Sunday) I read the Lansing State Journal.   A front page article informed readers that Michigan is about to see a “surge” of Syrian refugees.   Again, the taxpayer will have to foot the bill, pushing much-needed road repair further down the list of priorities.   Additionally, there is also the prospect of future terrorist acts.

Is anyone in government sane???

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TRUMP vs CAMERON

Staying in the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron described Donald Trump’s attitude to Muslim immigration as “stupid, divisive and wrong.”  This does not bode well for the Atlantic alliance or the Special Relationship that has existed between Britain and America since FDR and Churchill.  Mr. Trump said earlier today that he does not think he and Mr. Cameron will have a very good relationship should he enter the White House.

Considering the terrorist acts that have been perpetrated against the West by Islamic terrorists, we should also ask who is really “stupid” here?   I wonder why leaders throughout the Western world seem so determined to encourage the Islamization of their countries?   As Donald Trump put it today:   “It sounds like he (Mr. Cameron) is not willing to address the problem either.”

The Islamic presence, fairly recent in the context of US and British history, has itself led to division.   A further comment from the BBC’s website followed:

“He (Trump) is also involved in a spat with new London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

The US presidential contender said he would not forgive Mr. Khan for calling him “ignorant” – and challenged the Mayor to take part in an IQ test, an offer mocked by Mr. Khan’s team.”

Further division no doubt lies ahead.

Mr. Trump is also calling on Muslims “to turn people in.”   In a television interview shown on British television’s ITV (not the BBC) the presumptive Republican nominee said he is not anti-Muslim, but rather anti-terror. He called on practicing Muslims to cooperate with the police in their fight against Islamic terror.

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EU FACES ‘POPULIST UPRISING’

Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of Britain’s intelligence service, MI6, warned today of the consequences to Europe if the continent does not get on top of the migrant crisis.   “If Europe cannot act together to persuade the majority of its citizens that it can gain control of the migratory crisis, then the EU will find itself at the mercy of a populist uprising which is already stirring.   The stakes are very high and the UK referendum is the first roll of the dice in a bigger, geopolitical game.”

“Sir Richard also warned against offering visa-free travel to Turkish nationals, describing the move as like storing gasoline near a fire.” (BBC News website.)

 

 

TRUMP QUESTIONS FUTURE OF NATO

Trump NATO

Clause IV of the NATO treaty stipulates that if one member country is attacked, the others are required to act militarily in aid of the attacked member.

This clause was only invoked once – immediately after 9-11.   Other member nations all supported the United States, protecting the country’s air space and coastline, following up with military support in Afghanistan, the country that had given Al-Qaeda a home base.

With this in mind, it’s difficult to understand Donald Trump’s call to end NATO, as he says its now outdated and other nations are not doing enough.

It’s true that most of the other member countries are not spending enough.  Everybody agreed to spend 2% of their GNP on defense, but some fall short.

This is a separate issue, which should be remedied.

But to question the existence of NATO risks the collapse of the 67-year-old alliance, which has done a great deal to maintain peace.

It has also enabled the US president to be “the leader of the free world.”

He won’t be if NATO ceases to exist.

Having said that, no alliance will last forever.

The Bible shows that an alliance of ten nations will be the dominant superpower just before Christ’s return.  This union will be a revival of the Roman Empire. It will not include the United States.

Perhaps Trump’s call is leading up to a rift between Europe and America.  Certainly, the Europeans are not happy about the prospect of a President Trump.

UP TO DATE ON ISLAM

Islamic History Month

On 9-11, I felt for sure that this would wake Americans up to the serious threat posed by Islam.

It didn’t.

The attacks came on a Tuesday.  Three days later, the liberal Establishment had put together an inter-religious memorial service at the National Cathedral.  Not an inter-denominational service, but an inter-religious service that included a Muslim imam, a Hindu priest, a Buddhist monk and a Jewish rabbi, as well as a Catholic priest.

I also remember reading, a few months later, that sales of the Koran had jumped significantly.   Printing presses could not keep up with demand.

So it should not have come as a surprise that, seven years later, the country elected its first president with a Muslim name and definite Muslim connections.

The Obama Administration is staffed by a number of Muslims. Valerie Jarrett, the president’s chief adviser, is a Shi’ite Muslim from Iran; the head of the CIA, John Brennan, converted to Islam while in Saudi Arabia.  There are others, too, in highly influential positions.   It’s no wonder they are panicked at the thought of Donald Trump and his promise to suspend Islamic immigration.

Now, another seven years later, the same president has just declared that March every year will be Muslim History Month. Millions of dollars will be frivolously added to the national debt to pay for it.   In the years to come, we will be hearing many lies, witnessing a re-write of American history, as Muslims did not contribute anything to America for the first 350 years (from 1607).

It should be noted that Muslim History Month follows Black History Month.   Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam, that came to prominence in the 1960’s, would never have believed that this could happen.   But it is happening, right before our eyes.   The media will now follow with programs to show just how it was Islam, not protestant Europeans, that gave birth to this land and made it the most prosperous country in the world.

Fifteen years after James Town, the English settlers had less of a presence on American soil than Muslims do today, less than 15 years after 9-11.

Is there any wonder Americans are flocking to Trump?

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Muslims continue to dominate the news in other parts of the world.

Saudi Arabia has announced the creation of a 34-nation alliance of Sunni Muslims to fight terrorism.   Before you jump for joy, keep in mind that ISIS and Al-Qaeda are also both Sunni Muslims, the latter staging 9/11.   Members were heavily influenced by the Wahabbi sect of Islam, which is the official state religion of Saudi Arabia. They are the most extreme form of Islam.   When mosques are built in western countries, they are often paid for by Saudi Arabia; after completion the country will generously send a Saudi Wahabbi Imam to the mosque to spread the faith.   They also provide imams to work as chaplains in American prisons.   These men work at converting prisoners and are paid by the Federal government.

When the Saudis were criticized for not taking in Muslim refugees during the mass migration to western Europe last summer, they “generously” declared that they would help by building 200 mosques in Germany, once again dispatching the imams needed.

And so we see the progressive spread of Islam into western democracies.   Instead of embracing freedom, they will spread their pernicious religion, which means “submission” or “surrender,” the exact opposite of what America was.

Our children and our grandchildren will never forgive us!

Some Christians get excited about all this, believing that the Saudi led alliance is the prophesied “king of the south,” mentioned in Daniel chapter 11.   Verses 40-44 show that immediately prior to Christ’s return, the “king of the south” pushes at the “king of the north” and the Holy Land gets invaded.

Let’s not be too hasty here to jump to conclusions.

Firstly, we should remember that the old “king of the south,” the Ptolemaic dynasty of ancient Egypt, did not include Saudi Arabia or most of the other nations in alliance with Riyadh.   The kingdom was ruled from Alexandria, the capital of ancient Egypt.   Egypt is home to roughly 50% of all Arabs.  Egypt is more likely to be the leader of the king of the south.

Saudi Arabia is still a prominent player in the Middle East. Another is Iran.  These two countries are involved in proxy wars in both Yemen and Syria.  Whereas the Saudis are mostly Sunni Muslims, the Iranians are Shi’ites.   The two sects of Islam hate each other with a passion.  You would have to go back to the Thirty Years War (1618 to 1648) to see anything comparable in the Christian world.

At least one church organization that emphasizes Bible prophecy has been claiming dogmatically for over twenty years that Iran is the King of the South.  This is not very likely when you consider that Iran (formerly Persia) was a part of the King of the North prior to the Christian era.   The biblical king of the North was ruled from Antioch to the north of Jerusalem.

The two powers, the kings of the south and of the north, both born out of the rubble of Alexander’s empire, regularly came to blows. Each time they did, Jerusalem, the epicenter of Bible prophecy, was negatively affected.

It is also highly unlikely that Shi’ite Iran will lead a Sunni alliance.

So, who are the “kings of the north” and of the “south”?

Maps give you a good idea.

The following maps are of the two powers about 200 years before Christ, a little over a century after the death of Alexander and the division of his empire.

first_punic_war_results

Now look at this contemporary map, showing the worlds of Shia and Sunni Islam.  The red shows Shia Islam which is basically the old King of the North plus territory to the east.  Blue shows Sunni Islam which includes the territory once ruled by the King of the South.

October 15, 2015 by Rodrigo Silva
October 15, 2015 by Rodrigo Silva

The West has been caught up in a growing Shia-Sunni conflict.   We can’t be blamed for the animosity itself, as it began in the seventh century AD, but we must bear some responsibility for the rapid acceleration toward a major war between the two.   Western intervention in Iraq 13 years ago led to the downfall of Sunni ruled Iraq and its replacement with Shia Iraq.  This has led to the development of an arc of Shia Islam, comprising Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

The Shi’ites are now dominated by Iran.   President Assad’s Syria is also led by Shi’ites, who also dominate Lebanon.   This could all have been avoided if we’d known what we were doing, but we didn’t, so now we see the threat of major war between the two branches of Islam.

We still talk about democracy, but liberal democracy is irrelevant in the Middle East.   Only Israel has a real democratic system.

This conflict is only going to get worse.

So, are Shia and Sunni Islam the kings of the north and south?

That’s certainly a possibility.  But, in 60 BC, the King of the North fell to the Roman Empire. 29 years later, so did the King of the South when Cleopatra killed herself.   After those two conquests, Judea and Samaria were also conquered by the Romans.

The two powers ceased to exist and are not mentioned again until “the time of the end.”   Why do they suddenly appear again?

Remember that prophecy revolves around Israel.   There was no Jewish nation from the time of the Roman Empire until it was restored in 1948.   The lengthy prophecy in Daniel 11 is not about the kings of the north and south, so much as their impact on the Jewish people.   Now that the Jewish people have been restored by God to their ancient homeland, any major threat to them from the North or South, or both, has once again become very relevant.

The principal threat right now is from Shia Islam. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has regularly warned the West about the threat from Iran.   Events in Syria could also affect Israel.  Shi’ite Hizbollah in Lebanon remains a constant threat.

As the US has turned against Israel, the country has been seeking closer working relationships with Sunni Islamic nations, like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. (I wrote about this recently in a blogpost.)

The Saudi alliance is looking at getting involved in Syria, ostensibly against ISIS, but likely more against Assad.   A Saudi-led intervention there would partially fulfill the prophecy about the King of the South pushing against the King of the North. But it could also be a side-war, another proxy war between the two branches of Islam.

So, again, let’s not get too excited.   A lot could still happen before we see the fulfillment of Daniel 11: 40-44.

“At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through.  He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon.   He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape.   He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; also the Libyans and Ethiopians shall follow at his heels.”   But news from the east and the north shall trouble him; therefore he shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many.

One thing is for sure and that is the need to watch the Middle East, as events there are often far more important than the events that get reported on our national news programs.

THE NEW HEART OF DARKNESS

Pope in CAR

Bangui is the capital of the Central African Republic, one of the worst failed states on a continent of failed states!   Most world leaders are not likely to even think about going there. But Pope Francis has just been there for two days.

It’s one of those African countries that is on the fault-line between Christianity and Islam, a fault-line that runs west to east across the continent, dividing the Islamic world to the north and the Christian world to the south.

After spending Sunday in the Christian half, today the pope ventured into the volatile Muslim half of the capital.  He delivered a message of reconciliation to the city’s main mosque and observed that Christians and Muslims have long lived peacefully together.  He described Christians and Muslims as “brothers.”

Unfortunately, it’s not really true, not in the CAR or anywhere else for that matter.

In point of fact, the opposite is the case.   For 1400 years, since the birth of the Islamic religion, the two dominant religions in the world have been in conflict.   Occasionally, those conflicts have exploded into major warfare between the two.   It looks like we are heading in that direction again!

Marco Rubio, one of the people running for President of the United States at this time, referred a couple of weeks ago to “the clash of civilizations” that has developed between radical Islam and the Christian West.   His comment has been much maligned.   One newspaper dismissed the whole concept of a clash of civilizations by pointing out that ISIS is not civilized, so it doesn’t qualify.

But that’s just the point.   ISIS has a view of the world, which is totally at variance with the view in the West.  We may consider them barbaric, but that does not make it any easier to defeat them, thereby heralding a new kumbaya world order!

Besides, ISIS isn’t the problem so much as Islam.   ISIS is relatively new.   It simply exploits a hatred that’s already there, the hatred of Muslims toward all other religions.   The intellectual elite are fond of saying that all religions are religions of peace, but where is the evidence of this, particularly when it comes to Islam?

Islam means “submission” – the very word is antithetical to what the West stands for.   Salman Rushdie warned more than a decade ago that when a Muslim moves to the West (he said “Detroit”), he is not looking to take advantage of our way of life to better himself; rather, he sees himself as part of the advance guard to spread Islam to his new country.   This is why migrants want “sharia” law, rather than to live under the legal system of their new country.

The Hungarian prime minister made a profound comment last week, when he observed, that “not all migrants are terrorists, but all terrorists are migrants.”   That comment was immediately condemned, with people pointing out that many of the terrorists in Europe are home grown.   Yes, but the home-grown terrorists are Muslims.   Some are first generation, some were raised in Europe by migrant parents. The prime minister is right – the Paris attacks and the threat of further attacks stem from a seismic shift in demographics across the continent – whereas six decades ago there were very few Muslims, now there are tens of millions.   This simple equation changes everything.

So long as Europeans and westerners in general see Islam as a peaceful religion comparable to Christianity, it will not be possible to deal with the problem we now face.

Donald Trump is another presidential candidate who has come in for a lot of criticism, especially for claiming that, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, he saw Muslims celebrating in New Jersey.   I have to say that I do not remember that.   What I do remember is a brief video of people on the West Bank (Palestinians) celebrating.   I also know that we were not shown that a second time.   In an interview a few weeks later, the chief of the CNN News Bureau that day, was asked why it was only shown briefly.   Her response was that she knew the celebrants were only a few people, that the majority couldn’t possibly feel that way, so she wouldn’t show it again.

Now the video has been recovered from the archives to expose Mr. Trump as a “liar.”   How convenient!   How typical of the liberal media.

Yesterday, one of the Sunday morning news programs interviewed Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who were in Baghdad. Both were advocating 20,000 US troops be sent to Syria to fight ISIS.   The same morning, a one-hour documentary produced by Fareed Zakaria, interviewed the German journalist who is the only known westerner to have spent time in ISIS territory.   He said that ISIS wants US troops in Syria, that’s what they have been hoping for. Once they have western troops in Syria, their home turf, they will have a fulfillment of their long held dream, the apocalyptic battle between Islam and the West, the clash of civilizations liberals deny.

Amongst other things, western forces will boost the number of ISIS volunteers.   Before the US invasion of Iraq, there was no ISIS or al-Qaeda in either Iraq or Syria.   It’s impossible to predict the outcome in the region of western coalition “boots on the ground.”

It’s not just US politicians who do not know how to deal with ISIS.   In Paris today leaders from around the world are gathered to discuss climate change.   Rather than agree a plan to defeat the immediate threat of terrorism, they are talking about the long-term threat from climate change.   They have even tried to link the two, when there is no link.

A century ago, Africa was often referred to as the “Heart of Darkness,” after a novel of that name published in 1899.   Although the story was set in Africa, it wasn’t just Africa that had a heart of darkness; the white hero Kurtz, representing imperialism at its height, was also guilty.   Today, Islam is the heart of darkness, with ISIS, a fundamentalist resurgence of primitive Islam, threatening the peace and prosperity of the world.

But Islam does not have the exclusive patent on violence.

The other major religion in the news with the pope’s visit, is Roman Catholicism. Pope Francis is currently reaching out to Muslims, claiming that Christians and Muslims are brothers.   But that approach could suddenly change.

In 1095, faced with violent attacks on Christians by Muslims, Pope Urban II called on the nations of western Europe to launch a “crusade” to free the holy places from Islamic rule.   The crusades that followed lasted two hundred years.

Far from being ancient history, the Islamic world sees today’s western nations as “crusader states” and Israel as a revival of the twelfth century Kingdom of Jerusalem.   Their medieval mindset has not moved on from that struggle.

It was the Catholic Church that galvanized the nations of western Europe to fight militant Islam.   Jesus Christ warned His followers that “false Christs” would appear before His second coming:

“Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be?  And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”  And Jesus answered and said to them:   “Take heed that no one deceives you.  For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” (Matt 24:3-5).

In Revelation 6 we see false religion as the first of the four horsemen that bring destruction upon the earth.

The medieval Christian church could be just as barbaric as ISIS.   Beheadings and burnings were common punishments for dissent.

It’s well to remember these lessons of history in the hope that we can avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.