Tag Archives: Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer

HATRED OF CIVILIZATION BEHIND RIOTS

Protesters gather in front of a liquor store in flames near the police building in Minneapolis. Photo AFP

“The first thing to understand about the destructive mob riots sweeping the country is that they aren’t race riots.  The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 while being arrested by the police is merely the pretext for the violence.  The cause is hatred.

“Hatred of America, first of all, but ultimately hatred of civilized order itself.

“Many of the thugs looting and destroying property are white.  So what we are witnessing is not a battle between black and white.  It’s a battle between the forces of civilization, on the one hand, and the forces of anarchy, on the other.

“It is curious that the most egregious scenes of violence are taking place in blue states in cities run by left-wing mayors.  Many of the mayors and chiefs of police are themselves black.  In many locales, the police have been told to stand down as the mob rampages.   The mayor of Minneapolis blamed “white supremacists” and “outsiders” for the violence.

“Unfortunately for that assertion, there are no white supremacists to be found, only members of Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and kindred groups.   An Analysis of the ZIP codes of those arrested shows that they are overwhelmingly from the Minneapolis area.

“Meanwhile, various celebrities are encouraging lawlessness by cheering on the malefactors, publicly promising to post bail for them.”   (“Those burning our cities aim to destroy our civilization,” Roger Kimball, the Epoch Times, 6/4/2020).

Mr. Kimball quoted Tucker Carlson who said:   ‘What you’re watching is the ancient battle between those who have a stake in society, and those who don’t, and seek to destroy it.”

He added:  “I should say a word about The Narrative.   The official line is that police officer (now ex-police officer) Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes and asphyxiating him.  The whole horrible incident was captured on video – Floyd can be heard piteously saying “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe” – so it’s an open and shut case.

“Except that there is a wrinkle.   The preliminary autopsy report revealed “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation.”   The report went on to note that “Mr. Floyd had underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease.  The combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death.”

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Black lives matter wants more family breakdown  (Manifesto)

We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.

We foster a queer‐affirming network.  When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking, or rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual (unless s/he or they disclose otherwise).

(Black Lives Matter. What we believe.  https://blacklivesmatter.com/what-we-believe/?fbclid=IwAR1ynQIlPCxVCMr2kfdfsM10RTHOW9CjwEsNcVpACMmkDSWyy1zDSNHAvUo)

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GERMANY – US TROOP REDUCTION COULD HARM NATO SECURITY

Germany’s defense minister suggested that U.S. President Donald Trump’s reported plans to take American troops out of Germany could weaken the U.S. as well as the NATO alliance.  Trump is said to have signed off on a plan to reduce troops stationed in Germany from 34,500 to no more than 25,000.  German Defens e Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said Berlin hasn’t been informed of any such move, but “the fact is that the presence of U.S soldiers in Germany serves . . .  America’s own security.”   (Lansing State Journal, 6/9/2020).

Independently of the Trump administration’s recent move in that direction, German government advisors are hinting of possible US troop reductions in Germany.   In a current analysis of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), the author notes that, given the Corona crisis is inducing a drastic slump in the US economy and the national debt is likely to skyrocket to over 100 percent, it can be expected that Washington will have to set certain priorities in its military policy.   The USA would focus more than before on the power struggle with China and possibly reduce its presence in Europe.   The Trump administration’s relevant plans have been met with strong criticism in Washington and Berlin.  If implemented it would be “a gift for Putin,” according to US politicians and German military officials.   It would certainly not be easy for the USA to make major reductions in Germany, where its military installations are playing a key role in US wars.  (German Foreign Policy, 6/9/2020)

The German government is using the Covid-19 pandemic to expand its strategic disengagement from the USA.   According to reports, Germany is leading efforts to form a European “Vaccine Alliance,” together with France, Italy and the Netherlands to prevent the EU from losing out to the United States and China “in the geopolitical race for a Coronavirus vaccine.”   The participating states are already negotiating with pharmaceutical companies, which would receive government research funds and purchase guarantees and in return organize the desired Covid-19 vaccine’s distribution according to their own concepts. It has previously been made known that the Trump-Administration, in return for billions in subsidies, had secured national priority access to the majority portion of a future vaccine.  Now, the EU is planning billions in subsidies for pharmaceutical companies, in spite of the fact that they are already known for their huge profits.   (German Foreign Policy, 6/8/2020)

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GEORGE FLOYD NOT A MARTYR

[Black] Conservative commentator Candace Owens lashed out at the emerging personality cult of George Floyd, whose death in Minneapolis last month first sparked protests and then riots.

“I do not support George Floyd and the media depiction of him as a martyr for black America,” she said in Facebook Live video on Wednesday.

Referring to the writings of African-American writer and filmmaker Shelby Steele, Owens said black Americans spend too much time defending criminals.

“We are unique in that we are the only people that fight and scream and demand support and justice for the people in our community that are up to no good,” she said.

. . . Owens noted Floyd’s prison record, and said that “I am not going to play a part of the broken black culture that always wants to martyr criminals, to pretend that they were upstanding human beings that just wanted to help society.”

“He has a rap sheet that was long and was dangerous,” she said. “He was an example of a violent criminal his entire life, OK, up until the very last moment.”

. . . Owens said no one who has the kind of criminal record Floyd had should be held up as a model citizen, but black Americans are doing just that.  “We are embarrassing in that regard.  This is why we have a cycle and a toxic culture because nobody wants to tell the truth in black America.  It is so easy to be effective it is so easy to ask white people to bow down and apologize and do all these things for us. It is crap,” she said.    (World News Daily, 6/9/2020)

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Thousands rally in Tel Aviv against Netanyahu’s annexation plans
Meretz MK says move would ‘replace an occupation . . . with an apartheid’; Joint List chief:  Jews, Arabs who want peace must oppose extending Israeli sovereignty to parts of West Bank

Thousands of Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv Saturday evening to protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge to begin annexing parts of the West Bank next month.  Police initially sought to block the rally but backtracked Friday after meeting with organizers, who urged participants to wear masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines.  Dozens of officers were securing the demonstration after police said attendance would be capped at 2,000, though the Haaretz daily put turnout at 6,000 people in what appeared to be the largest protest in the country since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The demonstration was organized by the left-wing Meretz party and the communist Hadash faction of the majority-Arab Joint List, along with several other left-wing rights groups.  MK Nitzan Horowitz, the head of Meretz, told the crowd that annexation would be a “war crime” and cost Israel millions as the economy is already reeling due to the pandemic.  “We cannot replace an occupation of dozens of years with an apartheid that will last forever,” shouted a hoarse Horowitz.  “Yes, to two states for two peoples, no to violence and bloodshed,” he continued. “No to annexation, yes to peace.” (https://www.timesofisrael.com/thousands-rally-in-tel-aviv-against-netanyahus-annexation-plans/)

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SERBIAN CHURCHGOERS ROBBED BY MUSLIMS DURING SERVICE

“According to the latest update of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are currently 8,052 migrants in Serbia, the majority of them in 19 refugee centers across the country.   Their stated countries of origin are Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Iran, Morocco and Palestine.”

Hmmm, what do all those countries (and “Palestine”) have in common?   Could it be an ideology that holds Christianity in contempt and considers Christians “the most vile of created beings” (cf. Qur’an 98:6)?

Two migrants of unknown origin entered the St. Alexander Nevsky church in the Serbian capital Belgrade on Sunday and then robbed several attendants of the liturgy of their money and mobile phones. Those attending the church service managed to catch one of the thieves and hand him over to police responding to the scene, but the other got away.   (Jihad Watch, 6/7/2020)

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The 100-year wound that Hungary cannot forget
by Nick Thorpe, BBC News, Hungary, 4 June 2020.

Exactly 100 years ago, in the Trianon palace at Versailles, two medium-ranking Hungarian officials signed away two thirds of their country, and 3.3 million of their compatriots.   A new monument has appeared in the past weeks in front of parliament in Budapest, among many already erected by Viktor Orban’s government to  Hungary’s past glories.   For Hungary the 1920 treaty was a national wound that still festers to this day. Mr. Orban’s message to the world is that Hungary must now be respected. For his critics, he has dug deeper into that wound.

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What Hungary lost in the Treaty of Trianon

As the Austro-Hungarian empire fell apart at the end of World War One, historic Hungary was forced to cede what is now Slovakia, Vojvodina, Croatia, part of Slovenia, Ruthenia, the Burgenland and Transylvania to the new states of Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, to a much-enlarged Romania, and even to Austria, a fellow loser in the war.  (MORE:  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europ  6/4/2020)

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How they see us:  Racism, riots, and police brutality                           (The Week, 6 June 2020)

Suffocated to death for the color of your skin:   That is “the terrifying reality of what it really means to be black in America right now,” said Piers Morgan at the Daily Mail (U.K.).   The entire world has seen the video of the arrest and killing of George Floyd.   For nearly nine excruciating minutes, white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin crushed the life out of the handcuffed, defenseless Floyd. “Even by the dreadful standards of police violence against black people in America,” this heartless murder was a new low.   Of course American cities erupted in riots — how could they not?   What might have quelled them was a president speaking with empathy and grace and pledging an end to police brutality.   Instead, as America burned, Donald Trump “poured fuel onto the fire.”   He actually threatened war crimes against his own people, tweeting, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”   Now he is ordering the U.S. military into the streets.

The hypocrisy is breathtaking, said the Global Times (China) in an editorial.   Hong Kong suffered months of violent unrest last year, during which rioters caused hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage and injured countless police officers.   China never sent in the troops, yet Washington still “arrogantly and unreasonably” accused Beijing of human rights abuses.   Meanwhile, “the riots in the U.S. have lasted just a week,” and “efforts for reaching a peaceful solution have barely been made,” but already Trump is deploying soldiers.   The U.S. may have the world’s strongest military, but its system of governance stands revealed as a failure.   The COVID-19 epidemic there rages out of control, and now the social unrest “exposes the deep-rooted problem of inequality and a lack of justice.”

“Looted shops, burned-out office buildings, smashed ATMs, and wrecked police cars” litter American streets, said Alexander Gasyuk at Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia).   Protesters burned the U.S. flag right outside the White House, as Trump hid inside, tweeting threats that he would unleash “vicious dogs” on his oppressed citizens.  The demonstrators want justice for Floyd, but the U.S. justice system nearly always lets police who kill unarmed black men go free.   The Ferguson, Mo., officer who shot Michael Brown six times in 2012 was acquitted because he supposedly “acted in self-defense.”  That same excuse got George Zimmerman — not even a cop but a neighborhood watch volunteer — off the hook for the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

The U.S. has always reminded me of India, said Malachi O’Doherty at the Belfast Telegraph (U.K.).   “Both are huge, rich countries with swathes of poverty and dereliction,” and in both it’s perfectly acceptable to stride past homeless beggars. “De facto segregation seems accepted as normal,” with black Americans relegated to an underclass.   As in every caste system, state organs freely oppress those on the bottom.   The entire world sees that clearly now. Until the U.S. lives up to its promise of equality for all, it can never be a model to the rest of us.  (The Week, 6/7/2020)   (Copyright © 2020 The Week Publications, Inc, All rights reserved)

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ANALYSIS:   A rupture looms between Israel and the United States [over China]
As an American-Chinese power struggle ramps up, the Jewish state increasingly feels the fallout with US pressure to nix deals it deems detrimental to its security interests.

WASHINGTON (JTA) 3 June 2020 — Israel’s announcement last week that an Israeli consortium would build Sorek 2, the world’s largest desalination plant, surprised many who had been watching the deal:   The contract had been expected to go to a Hong Kong-based company.  But that was before the Trump administration ramped up pressure on Israel to diminish its ties to China.   For years, Israel has been working to dramatically expand trade with China, one of the world’s largest markets.   That push is suddenly running up against strong opposition from the White House, as the Trump administration pivots from the decades-old policy of increasing US engagement with China to treating the country as an increasingly bitter rival.

The Sorek 2 deal was widely seen as a bow to pressure from the Trump administration, which is pushing Israel and other key allies to curtail trade with China.   But observers of this deepening dynamic say it may not be enough to head off a US-Israel crisis over China.  A Chinese company, SIPG, is building a major port in Haifa and will control it for 25 years.  The Trump administration, according to multiple insiders, wants Israel to roll back at least part of that deal. The Israelis consider it a done deal, even if they may have regrets over it.

“It’s a bit of a shock to the system,” Jonathan Schanzer, the vice president of a think tank, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, that has close ties with the Trump administration and with the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said of the looming crisis.   “We had been hearing from the administration officials and even some Israeli diplomats about some of the complications arising from the intensification of the great power competition between the US and China.”

China has been building infrastructure in Israel since at least 2007, when the China Civil Engineering Construction Corp. brought in 300 workers to build the tunnel system linking the southern entrance to Haifa with the suburbs to the city’s north.   That success has led to a thirst for Chinese construction, and there was talk of China building new rail links in Israel.   China’s Bright Food Group owns a controlling stake in Tnuva, Israel’s preeminent dairy.   Decoupling from China won’t be easy.   Still, Israel’s willingness last week to cut China out of the Sorek 2 desalination deal shows it is ready to roll back engagement on some fronts.
(https://www.timesofisrael.com/breaking-china-a-rupture-looms-between-israel-and-the-united-states/)

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TO THE POINT

  • Cecil Rhodes:   Councillors demand Oxford Uni statue removal by Michael Race, BBC News, 9 June 2020 – A group of councillors has backed the campaign to remove a statue of imperialist Cecil Rhodes and called on Oxford University to “decolonise.”   Twenty-six Oxford city councillors signed a letter saying the figure at Oriel College was “incompatible” with the city’s “commitment to anti-racism.”   A protest by the “Rhodes Must Fall” campaign as part of the Black Lives Matter movement will be held later.   (MORE: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-oxfordshire-52975687)
  • Billions More Desert Locusts Devour Crops from India to Africa, Adding to Farmers’ Pandemic Woes by George Thomas, Christian Broadcasting Network, Inc., 28 May 2020From India and Pakistan to Africa and the Middle East, farmers face a perfect storm.   Already struggling with crippling coronavirus lockdowns, they face billions of locusts devouring crops and putting millions at risk.   The scenes out of parts of northern and central India this week were alarming to watch as billions of desert locusts descended on several states.   And it’s only going to get worse.  Heavy rains and the cyclone season in June are expected to see the swarms multiply.
  • Why Hong Kongers may get path to UK citizenship — Britain will change its immigration rules to allow millions of people from Hong Kong “a route to citizenship” if China passes controversial new national security laws, Boris Johnson has said.  In an article for The Times, the prime minister warns that the new controls would “dramatically erode” Hong Kong’s autonomy, which would breach the terms of China’s Joint Declaration treaty with the UK.  Johnson says he is willing to make one of the “biggest changes in our visa system in British history,” by allowing up to three million Hong Kong residents extended visa-free access to Britain and the opportunity to pursue citizenship.   (The Week, 6/3/2020)
  • Antifa is an extremist movement that demands nothing less than the destruction of America and its democratic system of government.  (Clarion Project, 6/3/2020)
  • “As it rises in prominence, the issue of defunding police will divide the Democratic Party more than the GOP.   For while the hard left sees cops in ideological and class terms as racist and fascist, the right, by and large, sees the police as the last line of defense against the anarchy we saw erupt when there were not enough cops in New York and D.C. to control the mobs looting Fifth Avenue and Georgetown.”   (PB, 6/9/2020)
  • Racist — a person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or who believes that a particular race is superior to another.   (Google Dictionary)
  • Authorities in Antwerp removed a statue of Belgium’s King Leopold II after it was vandalised during anti-racism protests. Between 1885 and 1908 Leopold ran Congo as his fief; millions are estimated to have been killed under his regime.  In Britain, London’s mayor announced a review of the capital’s statues.  On Sunday protesters toppled a statue of Edward Colston, a slave trader, in Bristol.   (The Economist, 6/10/2020)
  • Germany warns Israel against West Bank annexation plans Jerusalem – Germany’s foreign minister on Wednesday warned Israel that its plan to begin annexing parts of the West Bank would violate international law, but he declined to say how Germany or Europe would respond.   The Jerusalem visit comes weeks before Israel intends to extend its sovereignty over Jewish West Bank settlements.   Critics say the annexation plan would destroy any hope for establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel.   The Palestinians seek all of the occupied West Bank for an independent state.  (Lansing State Journal,  6/11).

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AFTERTHOUGHT

LEARN TO LET GO!

A significant change has taken place in the last couple of weeks.  Now , Antifa and Black Lives Matter have the upper hand; while the police are vilified.

How long can our civilization last?  How much longer does the US have?

Daniel 2:44 says:  “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall  break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.”

At the end of all this is the Kingdom of God, which Christians have been praying for throughout the generations.  We need to understand something about the Kingdom of God.  It cannot come until the fall of all the kingdoms and republics that exist in this world at this time.   That includes the United States.

Over 40 years ago, my wife and I lived in Rhodesia, a country that does not exist any more.  As the threats to Rhodesia became more serious, there was a tendency for Christians to become more political.  They were attempting to save the country, their homes and their livelihood.  It was futile. Rhodesians had to learn to let go and let God fulfill His purpose.

Daniel 2:21 shows us that God is behind the rise and fall of nations.  “And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.”

The establishment of the Kingdom of God may be nearer than we think. We’ve all been praying for it for decades.  Let us now pray fervently that God will establish it soon.

MR     

SLAVERY NOT A CRIME

Overview of domestic legislation prohibiting human exploitation.  Many of the 193 U.N. member states have not gone on to explicitly criminalise slavery and other exploitation.  Researchers noted that almost all countries had some form of domestic anti-trafficking legislation in place.   Image: Katarina Schwarz and Jean Allain

Slavery is not a crime for almost half the countries in the world.  Although laws allowing slavery have been scrapped worldwide, many of the 193 U.N. member states have not gone on to explicitly criminalise slavery.                                                                                                                                     by Sonia Elks | @SoniaElks | Thomson Reuters Foundation, 12 Feb 2020

“Slavery is far from being illegal everywhere and we hope our research will move the conversation beyond this popular myth,” said Katarina Schwarz, a researcher at the University of Nottingham’s Rights Lab, which led work on the slavery database.

“It will surprise many people to learn that in all of these countries there are no criminal laws in place to prosecute, convict and punish people for subjecting people to the most extreme forms of exploitation.”   More than 40 million people are held in modern slavery, which includes forced labor and forced marriage, according to estimates by the International Labour Organization and the anti-slavery group the Walk Free Foundation.

There is no criminal law against slavery in 94 countries – almost half of U.N. states – said researchers at Rights Lab, which reviewed the study’s findings with the Castan Centre for Human Rights at Monash University in Australia.   It found almost two thirds of countries apparently failed to criminalize any of the main four practices associated with slavery – serfdom, debt bondage, forced marriage, and child trafficking – except in the context of human trafficking.

“Slavery in its nature looks to exploit people who fall slightly outside the rule of law,” Jakub Sobik, a spokesman for the charity Anti-Slavery International told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.  “There is a need for wide-ranging policies that address the wider context and systemic reasons why people are made vulnerable to being tricked and trapped and controlled by another person.”  (http://news.trust.org/item/20200212132545-vdpzu)

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GM PULLS OUT OF AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND, THAILAND

General Motors has been in Australia since 1856 when it first sold saddles to Australians.   In the 1960’s and 70’s they produced Holden cars, a popular brand that really caught on.  Now, they are selling up and moving out.   The big benefactor?

China.

It’s symbolic of what’s happening to American capitalism.  The US is losing out to competitors, especially the Chinese.

And it’s not just cars.   In the same week, President Duterte of the Philippines tore up the defense treaty with the US, preferring Beijing over Washington.   One reason may be Duterte’s stance on human rights, which has led to criticism from Americans.   China doesn’t care about human rights.

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CORONAVIRUS “MADE IN CHINA”

The Chinese Communist Party calls it “discourse management.”  It’s more than mere censorship and bigger than propaganda.   And Beijing is pretty good at it.   The party uses it to control its own people, but also to manage foreign governments.

Take the new coronavirus, for instance.   It may be a made-in-China global pandemic, and China might have bungled its handling of it, but that’s somehow irrelevant and China’s government says it’s “unhappy” with Australia.   Come again?

The outbreak is classified by the World Health Organization as a global health emergency.   It was created in China, of course.   The consensus among virologists is that the likely cause was the Chinese authorities’ persistent tolerance of unsafe animal and food handling practices.

After the 2003 outbreak of a novel coronavirus, the SARS epidemic, the Chinese government banned all trade in wild animals.  Once the crisis had passed, the authorities relaxed the ban, announcing 54 types of exemption.   In other words, it was going to happen again one day.   Then, once this outbreak was discovered, the Chinese authorities seriously mismanaged it.   This is now the subject of frenetic blame-shifting inside China.

When the first cases started turning up in the city of Wuhan in mid-December, two weeks before the official disclosure on December 31 that there was a new virus, sick people were turned away from local hospitals and sent home to infect other people and die.  The hospitals were told to report “zero infections.”

Why?   Because an important meeting of provincial and city officials was under way in Wuhan and only good news was permitted.   The cover-ups and delays were “reprehensible” according to an eminent Australian virologist, John Mackenzie.      (Peter Hartcher, Sydney Morning Herald, 2/18/2020)

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GOG AND MAGOG  — COULD RUSSIA ATTACK ISRAEL?

Russia’s ambassador to Syria this week issued what some saw as a veiled threat should Israel continue bombing Iranian assets in the war-torn country.

On February 6, an aerial attack on a target near Damascus killed 20 Syrian and Iranian military officials.   It also caused Syrian air defenses to inadvertently fire on an airplane carrying 172 passengers.   The plane managed to safely land at a nearby airport.

Israel Defense Minister Naftali Bennett later hinted that the attack was just another in a long series of Israeli strikes against Iranian assets that are admittedly in Syria for the purpose of threatening the Jewish state.

But Russian Ambassador Alexander Yefimov wasn’t interested in Israeli justifications.

In an interview with Sputnik Arabic, Yefimov called the Israeli raids “provocative and very dangerous.”   He further cautioned that “this increases the possibility of conflict over Syria.”

Since Syria is already in conflict, his warning was taken to mean that the ongoing Israeli raids could eventually result in an armed clash between the Jewish state and Russian forces in the region.

Israeli political and military officials have never been shy about referencing the biblical “War of Gog and Magog.”   It’s something they believe is going to happen.  (Israel Today, 2/17)

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GERMAN CRITICISM OF US BREAKING INTERNATIONAL LAW

In reference to the US drone-murder of Iran’s General Qassem Suleimani, German government advisors are warning against a growing number of violations of international law by the United States.   For years, “the foreign policy of the Trump administration has demonstrated that it has been a particular strain on international law,” observes an analysis published by Berlin’s German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP).  Suleimani’s murder suggests that Washington is now beginning to extend its “war on terror” tactics, that had already become common-place under President Barack Obama – such as drone-murders – to leading representatives of foreign nations, it considers to be “a threat.”  In the future, “state representatives should fear for their lives, when they travel outside their country,” because “the consequences for international diplomacy are hardly predictable.”  The SWP advises the German government to take a clear stand.  Of course, in its attempts to implement its globalist policies over the past few decades, Berlin, too, has repeatedly violated international law, often as an accomplice of the USA.    (German Foreign Policy, 1/28)

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Watch Israel’s new laser weapon shoot drones out of sky                   by Yaron Steinbuch, 12 Feb 2020

An Israeli drone defense system fit for “Star Wars” has shot down multiple maneuvering targets with a high-powered laser beam, according to reports.   “The system achieved 100 percent success in all test scenarios,” defense technology company Rafael said in a statement about its Drone Dome C-UAS, or Counter-Unmanned Aerial System, the Times of Israel reported.   “The stages of the interception included target detection, identification and interception” with the laser beam, it said in a video of a recent demo of the system.   In the footage, a vehicle-mounted system is shown engaging the targets, including zigzagging drones.   In one test, three drones flying in formation were downed in rapid succession.  “Drone Dome is designed to address threats posed by hostile drones both in military and civilian sites,” Rafael said.

Drone Dome refers to a package that includes a search radar, drone radio command detector, an electro-optical sensor, and command-and-control system, according to Popular Mechanics.  The system can detect objects as small as 0.021 square feet at 2.1 miles.  Once detected, it locks onto the drone, keeping it in its cross hairs as it maneuvers in any direction.   When the laser is blasted, it melts away the drone’s plastic housing and destroys its electronics, sending it to the ground.     (https://nypost.com/2020/02/12/watch-israels-wild-new-laser-weapon-shoot-drones-out-of-sky/)

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 Munich Security Conference:  France’s Macron envisions new era of European strength                                                                                                  The French president projected a vision of a Europe with new military power at the Munich Security Conference.   As the only nuclear power in the EU, he also foresaw greater European sovereignty.

“We cannot always go through the United States, no, we have to think in a European way as well,” French President Emmanuel Macron said on stage at the Munich Security Conference (MSC) on Saturday as he continued a theme of his presidency: projecting bold European sovereignty onto the international stage.

He was referring specifically to Europe’s nuclear assets, pointing out a key difference to the Cold War era when Europe’s nuclear shield was primarily coordinated by the US.   “Now we have to be able to say clearly that if we want a sovereign Europe, if we want to protect our citizens, then we do need to look at that aspect, also with a view to Germany,” he said.   To show his commitment, Macron has already invited Germany to take part in a strategic dialogue over France’s nuclear weapon policy.

The UK’s exit from the European Union has shifted added responsibility onto France.   Though the UK and France are of course still NATO partners, along with the US and Germany, France is now the only nuclear power in the EU, which leaves the Paris government balancing its nuclear defense strategy between, as Macron put it, “the ambitions of NATO and Europe.” (Deutsche Welle, 15 Feb, 2020)  (– Extract from:  (https://www.dw.com/en/munich-security-conference-frances-macron-envisions-new-era-of-european-strength/a-52389586)

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Munich Security Conference:   African leaders absent from Sahel talks
Germany and other world powers meeting in Munich raised concerns about the deteriorating security situation in the Sahel region.  But African heads of state who had been invited were conspicuously absent.

Not a single head of state from the continent attended, despite the growing threat of terrorism and the armed conflicts tearing it apart.

A report by Save the Children, published as world leaders convened in Munich, Germany, said at least 95,000 children had been killed or maimed across the world since 2005.  Tens of thousands were abducted and millions were denied access to education.

Germany makes a case for the Sahel:   In the absence of African leaders, to bring the matter to the table, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer called for an increased effort in the fight against Islamists in Africa.   “The Sahel is a key region for Europe, for example, when it comes to migration or the threat of terrorism,” she said, adding:   “That is why it is so important that Germany remains committed there, militarily as well.”  Kramp-Karrenbauer’s statement was encouraging to the Central African Republic’s defense minister, Marie-Noelle Koyara.   “I take this opportunity to thank the German government for making such a wise decision,” the CAR defense minister told DW.

African children were the worst affected, according to Save the Children.   Some 170 million across Africa and the Middle East are living in war zones.  “You will see that most of the violent conflicts do not feature,” Dan Smith, director of SIPRI, an international think tank dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control, and disarmament, told DW.

Smith is disappointed the international community is not paying attention to the crisis unfolding in Africa.

“They (Africans) are not part of the thinking of the security community that is gathered here,” Smith adds.  “That doesn’t mean that this community’s concerns are irrelevant, but they’re not focused on the Sahel; they are not focused on the Horn of Africa.”(https://www.dw.com/en/munich-security-conference-african-leaders-absent-from-sahel-talks/a-52398078)

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 EU’s Franco-German axis will stutter without the Brits, says Vestager
“I think we will see a new dynamic in the union, but it will take some time before we fully recover,” the EU competition and digital chief said.            by Simon Van Dorpe, Politico.eu, 30 Jan 2020

France and Germany will struggle to drive the EU without the British “energy” that helped Paris and Berlin work together, EU competition and digital chief Margrethe Vestager said today.  “One of the things we will be missing is of course the energy.   Because we have a French-German axis – but part of the energy to make that axis work comes from, came from, the U.K.,” Vestager said when asked what she would miss about Britain.    Vestager said that other member countries, “maybe changing coalitions of member states,” would have to step into that void.  “I think we will see a new dynamic in the union, but it will take some time before we fully recover,” she said. Vestager attended the Brexit vote in the parliament on Wednesday, which she said was “really touching because you see it is real.”  Vestager also said she would miss the sense of humor of the Brits, which she said was similar to the Danish.

“I was very close to [former U.K. Commissioner] Jonathan Hill; I was sitting next to [Hill’s successor] Julian King when he was the Commissioner here and I miss them, because they come with a U.K. culture,” she said.   She told an anecdote of how she struggled to communicate in English at the start of her first mandate and when she asked Hill if he didn’t find it exhausting how the other commissioners treated his language, he said: “Of course not, I’m so honored that you’re all trying.”
(https://www.politico.eu/article/eus-franco-german-axis-will-stutter-without-the-brits-says-vestager/)

Brexit punches 12-bln-euro hole in EU finances
by Agence France-Presse, 30 Jan, 2020

Brussels – When Britain leaves the European Union at midnight on Friday the bloc will lose the second-biggest net contributor to its budget, leaving a 12-billion-euro ($13-billion) hole in its finances.  The United Kingdom will continue making budget contributions this year under an agreed post-Brexit transition period.   But from 2021 Europe will have to look elsewhere.  This further complicates an already fraught debate between the remaining member states over the EU’s 2021-2027 long-term budget, called the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).   The European Commission has had a proposed MFF on the table since May 2018, and its new president Ursula von der Leyen is keen to get it approved soon.   But a so-called “Frugal Five” of wealthy mainly northern countries — Austria, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden — are seeking to limit EU expenditure.   And a rival “Friends of Cohesion” group of 16 eastern and Mediterranean countries wants to defend the budget rules.

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Frustrated by liberal policies, some Oregon residents petitioned to leave the state – by moving the border with Idaho westward.

The movement secured initial approval from two counties and aims to get enough signatures to put the proposal on ballots in November, according to the group called Greater Idaho.  If the group succeeds, voters in southeast Oregon may see a question on whether their county should become part of Idaho by redrawing the border.   “Rural counties have become increasingly outraged by laws coming out of the Oregon Legislature that threaten our livelihoods, our industries, our wallet, our gun rights, and our values,” Mike McCarter, one of the chief petitioners, said in a news release. “We tried voting those legislators out, but rural Oregon is outnumbered and our voices are now ignored.  This is our last resort.” (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/02/17/oregon-idaho-border-petition-secede/4789936002/)

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TO THE POINT

  • After a five-month delay, Afghanistan’s electoral commission named Ashraf Ghani as the winner of the country’s presidential election.   The result was delayed after supporters of Mr. Ghani’s leading challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, accused the commission of bias and threatened to form a parallel government.  The victory gives Mr. Ghani a second five-year term as president.  (The Economist 2/19/2020)
  • Three of Britain’s remaining overseas territories are under constant threat from Spain (Gibraltar), Argentina (Falkland Islands) and Mauritius (Diego Garcia, home of a big US naval base in the Indian Ocean).   Vladimir Putin, soon to be proclaimed dictator of Russia, has given his support to Argentina’s claim on the Falklands.   At one time, the three territories would have had nothing to fear as they would have been protected by the Royal Navy.   Not any more – Italy’s navy is now bigger than Britain’s.  Quite a comedown for what was the world’s greatest navy before World War II.   The navy is not even going to be big enough to stop Europeans fishing in British waters, post-Brexit.
  • The British government announced the first details of its post-Brexit plans for immigration policy.  It promised that there would be no more visas for low-skilled workers and no freedom of movement between Britain and the rest of the European Union.  Visa applications will instead be judged on a “points-based” immigration system.  (The Economist 2/19/2020)
  • German man leaves €7 million fortune to far-right AfDAn engineer who died in 2018 has donated his entire estate of gold, property and patents  to the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. The endowment is one of the largest ever given to a German political party.
  • A locust plague which has now reached coronavirus-struck China may be the “fifth trumpet” prophesied in the Book of Revelation, according to wild claims.  (https://www.express.co.uk/news/weird/1243557/locast-swarm-china-coronavirus-book-revelation-seventh-seal-trumpet-jesus-christ-god-)

ELECTORAL EARTHQUAKE IN GERMANY

‘The CDU cannot participate in a government under the elected minister-president,’ says chancellor Merkel. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

An electoral earthquake in the German state of Thuringia is reverberating across the country and its aftershocks are being felt in Brussels.

Berlin’s political establishment has been rocked by an electoral pact between the conservative Christian Democrats, liberal Free Democrats (FDP) and the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) that has propelled a local FDP candidate to power in the eastern state of Thuringia.   By co-operating with the AfD and ousting the sitting leftwing prime minister of the region Germany’s mainstream parties have “torn up” a post-war consensus to ostracise the extreme right, writes Guy Chazan.

Stinging condemnation has rung out from all corners — including the highest ranks of the CDU.   Before yesterday, the liberals and conservatives had vowed never to work with the AfD.   Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, CDU defence minister, lashed out at the Thuringian branch of her party for explicitly disobeying Berlin’s orders.   Elected FDP candidate Thomas Kemmerich is under immense pressure to resign and hold new elections.   Around 1,000 noisy protesters gathered outside the FDP’s HQ in Berlin last night accusing the party of getting into bed with “Nazis.”                      (Maureen Kahn, ft Brussels Briefing, 2/6)

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DAM BURST  — Germany shaken as far-right plays regional kingmaker

It has been a tenet of German politics since the Second World War that mainstream political parties do not legitimize far right movements by siding with them on any issue – but that taboo was shattered on Wednesday, eliciting nationwide outrage.

In the eastern German state of Thuringia, Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat party (CDU) and the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) both used the parliamentary support of nationalist party Alternative fur Deutschland to bring their choice of leader to power.                    (The Week, 2/6)

The parliament in Thuringia, in eastern Germany, elected Thomas Kemmerich from the Free Democrats as state premier.   Mr. Kemmerich’s shocking victory was made possible only with votes from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).   No state government has previously been elected with AfD support.  Politicians across the spectrum expressed dismay at the result.  (Economist 2/6)

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GERMANY’S FUTURE IN DOUBT

Germany was plunged into political uncertainty after the leader of the governing Christian Democratic Union resigned.   A protégée of Angela Merkel, the chancellor, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer was seen as a shoo-in to succeed her.   Then last week the local leader of a small party was elected premier of the eastern state of Thuringia, with votes from the CDU – and the far-right Alternative for Germany – to widespread outrage.   Ms. Kramp-Karrenbauer bungled the response. Previous gaffes had left her vulnerable.      (The Economist, 02/11/2020)

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TRUMP WINNING

With his personal approval ratings at an all-time high, the impeachment process behind him and the US economy booming, Donald Trump’s odds of winning a second term now stand at nearly 60% according to betting aggregator Oddschecker.com.

Add to this a Democratic party in near total disarray and the US president may be on the cusp of fulfilling his 2016 campaign promise to supporters that “We gonna win so much you may even get tired of winning and you’ll say please, please Mr. President, it’s too much winning, we can’t take it anymore.”  (The Week, 2/7)

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HOUSING COSTS

While the past several decades of globalization and technological development have lowered the price of most goods and services in the US, there’s been inflation in all the things that make people middle class: healthcare, education and, most important, housing.  Over the past decade, the cost of shelter has risen sharply compared with everything else — housing prices contributed a record 81 per cent to core inflation in summer 2017 and remain responsible for “the lion’s share” of all inflation in the US, according to a recent Cornell University study.   (Financial Times, 2/10/2020)

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The Observer:    UK child abuse inquiry – ‘We were abused every day.’     Decades on, children’s homes victims wait for justice.  This week an all-party report will demand a reckoning for the epidemic  of institutional child abuse in the 1970s and 1980s.                              by Yvonne Roberts, The Guardian UK, 8 Feb, 2020

As police admitted for the first time last week that there was an “epidemic” of  institutional child sexual abuse in church institutions, children’s homes, borstals, schools and foster families in the 1970s and 80s, chief constable Simon Bailey, the national lead for child protection and abuse investigations, said:   “We do not understand the true scale of it … untold damage has been done to victims and survivors.”   On 11 February a damning report by the all-party parliamentary group on Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse will be highly critical of the support and resources available to these children, now in their 50s, 60s and older, many of whom have spent a lifetime with their experiences not believed and redress unobtainable.  The report is titled Can Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse Access Justice and Support? and the conclusion is an emphatic “no.”   Based on two years’ work, it finds all the major services, including police, health, crown prosecution and courts, are failing to address a potential national crisis, with support services struggling to meet demand.   The Office for National Statistics estimates that 3.1 million people aged 18-74 were sexually abused in childhood.  However, only one in seven callers to the helpline of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood had previously disclosed abuse.                      (https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/fe)

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IRA BIG WINNER IN IRISH ELECTION                                                        (Sinn Fein has long been considered the political wing of the terrorist organization)

Dublin deadlock Sinn Féin has demanded a role in Ireland’s new government after surging to the highest vote share in the general election.  With counting still under way, the nationalist party, led by Mary Lou McDonald, took 24.5 per cent of the vote after pushing prime minister Leo Varadkar’s centre-right Fine Gael into third place with 20.9 per cent.   The centrist opposition Fianna Fáil, led by Micheál Martin, came second with 22.2 per cent but is likely to be the largest party in parliament because Sinn Féin did not run enough candidates to be able to take the most seats.                                  (Financial Times, 2/10/2020)

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MOHIUSSUNNATH CHOWDHURY                                                      Madame Tussauds Terror Plot Revealed

A 28-year-old man from Luton has been found guilty of planning a terror attack on tourist hotspots in London, two years after being arrested with a samurai sword outside Buckingham Palace.

Mohiussunnath Chowdhury, known as Musa, was convicted of terrorism offences at Woolwich Crown Court yesterday.                  (The Week, 2/11/2020)

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Next East Africa locust swarms airborne in 3 to 4 weeks, UN warns Baby desert locusts in Somalia will become East Africa’s next plague wave, UN agronomy experts have warned.   Climate change-driven rain has triggered “unprecedented” breeding, says UN chief Antonio Guterres.(Deutsche Welle, 9 Feb 2020)

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned Sunday that nymph (baby) desert locusts maturing in Somalia’s rebel-held backcountry, where aerial spraying is next to unrealizable, will develop wings in the “next three or four weeks” and threaten millions of people already short of food.   Once in flight and hungry, the swarm could be the “most devastating plague of locusts in any of our living memories if we don’t reduce the problem faster than we are doing at the moment,” said UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock.

The locusts were now “very hungry teenagers,” but once mature, their progeny would hatch, generating “about a 20-fold increase” in numbers, warned Keith Cressman, FAO locust forecasting officer. “Mother Nature” alone would not solve the crisis, said Dominique Burgeon, resilience director of the FAO, which has urged international donors to give $76 million (€69.4 million) immediately.  Swarms, which left damage across parts of Ethiopia and Kenya in December, could also put Uganda, South Sudan, Eritrea and Djibouti at risk, making it the worst such situation in 25 years, the FAO said.  East Africa already has 19 million people facing acute food insecurity, according to the regional inter-agency Food Security and Nutrition Working Group (FSNWG).                  (https://www.dw.com/en/next-east-africa-locust-swarms-airborne-in-3-to-4-weeks-un-warns/a-52312510)

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DECLINE OF THE WEST

The Chairman of the Munich Security Conference, Wolfgang Ischinger, is focusing the debate of the coming weekend’s conference on the insipient decline of the West.   Whereas, in the post-Cold War era western powers enjoyed “almost uncontested freedom of military movement,” this is no longer the case today, according to this year’s “Munich Security Report,” which Ischinger presented to the public yesterday.   Even the “nearly unrivaled global superiority in military technology” NATO had enjoyed for decades, is now endangered.   The report quotes French President Emmanuel Macron’s comment:   “We were used to an international order that had been based on Western hegemony since the 18th century. Things change.”   To prevent the West’s further decline, Ischinger is calling for resolute offensives in global policy.   Sectors of the elites in several western countries are now turning to an ultra-right policy. In Berlin, this debate had contributed to the demise of the CDU chairwoman yesterday.      (German Foreign Policy, 2/11/2020)

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US-FILIPINO MILITARY ALLIANCE TO END

The Philippines told the U.S. it would scrap an agreement considered a cornerstone of the two countries’ military alliance, a move the U.S. State Department said would have serious implications for the relationship.            (Wall Street Journal, 2/12/2020)

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TO THE POINT

  • We went to see the movie “1917” last week.  It was very good and quite intense.  It’s a good reminder of what it was like in the trenches.  Almost one million British men died in combat in what was historically the worst conflict in history.
  • I’m reading “Lost to the West” by Lars Brownworth (2009).   He’s a former American high school history teacher who has written one of the best books ever on the Byzantine Empire.   It’s so gripping I did not want to put it down.   There are so many lessons for the US now.   It was the divisions within the governing elite that enabled the Muslims to get control of what had been the world’s greatest “Christian” Empire for over a thousand years.  It was truly a great loss to the west!
  • Muslims have not stopped their advance into the West.   They now have quite a foothold in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France and other nations.   We bend over backwards to accommodate their religion.  Our new Michigan Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, in her State of the State speech, proudly proclaimed that the Executive Mansion hosted a Diwali (Hindu) evening and a night of Ramadan festivities (Islam) last year, both at tax payer expense.
  • Check out Sky News, a British TV channel that’s now available throughout the US.   I watch it on “Watch Free,” a free streaming service.  They have a good balance of British and world news.   Some of their correspondents are outstanding.

MEMORIES OF WATERGATE

President Richard M. Nixon gives an emotional farewell address to his staff prior to his leaving the White House, Aug. 9, 1974. His situation is being compared to Donald Trump’s. (AP Photo)

In 1973 or ’74, I was living in England where I was the Student Editor of The Portfolio, a Student newspaper. I remember then writing an editorial on Watergate and how the continual, never-ending saga of America’s domestic issues, was damaging America’s international relations.   The article was censored and was not published.

In ’73-’74 America suffered a number  of international set-backs.   The biggest challenge was the October War, when three Arab nations tried to destroy Israel.   At the same time, the oil producing nations of OPEC raised the price of oil by 400%, causing a major international recession.

I now have a sense of Déjà vu, all over again!

New Year’s saw crowds try to seize control of the US Embassy in Iraq.   A country Americans like to think they helped restore democracy has now turned against us.   In Afghanistan, where the US desperately wants peace as a prelude to withdrawal, the Taliban has made it clear that all American troops must leave before they will sit down and talk.

Iraq and Afghanistan – two recent wars that we have lost!

In addition, North Korea is making strong and possibly serious threats of action against the US.

German leaders will no doubt now go ahead with a deal with Russia, making the country more dependent on Russia for energy and giving Russia a major financial boost for further defense spending.

The rest of the world does not understand impeachment (do Americans?).   Their sense is that the US president is greatly weakened and will soon be out of office.   This will not end until the election, ten months away.   By that time, the world could very well be a very different place!

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Germany could make big EU impact in 2020

So far, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has not been particularly ambitious with regard to EU affairs.  But next year provides ample opportunity to make real progress.

 2020 will be a big year for Germany when it comes to European affairs.   Berlin will take over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union in July, but even before then German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has come out to push for a “strong and sovereign Europe.”

To make Europe a bigger player on the world stage, Maas called for a European Security Council to tackle foreign affairs and security issues — such a council could even include the post-Brexit United Kingdom.

*During Germany’s presidency of the Council of the European Union, it will host an EU-Africa summit.   It will be about bringing both continents closer together.   According to Krichbaum, the bloc for many decades woefully neglected its ties with Africa.

(https://www.dw.com/en/germany-could-make-big-eu-impact-in-2020/a-51774449)

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Germany ponders bigger troop mandate in Africa’s Sahel

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said she supports sending more troops to Africa’s Sahel.   Although France already has a strong deployment, they’ve asked for support and Germany cannot “duck away” from the region, she said.

The Sahel spans numerous countries, including parts of Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Mauritania.  Kramp-Karrenbauer noted that the Sahel region has become a “major hub for terrorism, organized crime, migration and human trafficking.”

Germany cannot allow itself to “duck away” from responsibility in the region”, she said.   “In the end, we would have to put up walls and barbed wire all around Europe.”

(https://www.dw.com/en/germany-ponders-bigger-troop-mandate-in-africas-sahel/a-51828723  Map attached)

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Merkel’s ‘grand coalition’ faces array of new challenges                         A poll has found that one-third of Germans want new elections.  Right-wing populists are most eager to clear the decks, and the new SPD leadership has fueled concern about the stability of Germany’s grand coalition.

Divisive issue of speed:  The topic of speed limits is to Germans what gun rights are to many in the US.   Overall, the poll found that 34% of voters want to be rid of the current coalition government, as opposed to 39% who say it should continue to serve until regular elections are held in the fall of 2021.

(https://www.dw.com/en/germany-merkels-grand-coalition-faces-array-of-new-challenges/a-51827518)

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Germans think Trump is more dangerous than Kim Jong Un and Putin
When asked who posed the greatest threat to world peace, Germans in a recent poll overwhelmingly pointed to one person — Donald Trump.  

The US president beat out the leaders of North Korea, Russia, China and Iran   (Deutsche Welle * 26 Dec, 2019)

Although Washington is one of Germany’s closest allies, public trust in the US has significantly eroded under President Donald Trump, a new YouGov survey showed.   Germans were asked who was more dangerous:   North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Russian President Vladimir Putin or US President Donald Trump.   Some 41% of Germans said they thought Trump was the most dangerous out of the five world leaders.  In second place was Kim with 17%, followed by Putin and Khamenei with 8%.   Coming in last was China’s Xi Jinping with 7%.   Over 2,000 people in Germany took part in the survey, which was commissioned by news agency dpa.   A similar YouGov poll was carried out in July last year, in which 48% of Germans surveyed said Trump was more dangerous than Kim and Putin.  That poll, however, did not include the leaders of Iran or China.

(MORE:  https://www.dw.com/en/germans-think-trump-is-more-dangerous-than-kim-jong-un-and-putin/a-51802332)

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GERMANS UNWILLING TO DEFEND US                                              Germans are more unwilling than willing to defend NATO ally the United States should she be attacked by Russia, according to a YouGov survey.

The poll was conducted amongst key members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the defence bloc which was formed during the Cold War to protect allies from Soviet aggression.

Out of the U.S. France, the UK, and Germany, Americans showed the most willingness to “use military force if Russia attacks” NATO allies and partner countries.

Britons were almost equal in the urge to protect as Americans, but opinion was an “even split” on whether to defend Turkey, while the French were more willing to defend the U.S. and others apart from the Ukraine, Turkey, and Romania.

…. “It is very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia, where we’re supposed to be guarding against Russia, and Germany goes and pays out billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia.   We’re protecting Germany, we’re protecting France, we’re protecting all of these countries,” President Trump said.

Currently, only the United States, Greece, Estonia, the United Kingdom, Romania, Poland, and Latvia are meeting their NATO spending obligations, which require members to spend at least two per cent of GDP on defense spending.

Germany is only spending 1.36 per cent of its GDP on defense, well below its NATO obligations, despite having the largest economy in Europe.

Germany was the only country out of these major powers to say they were more unwilling than willing to defend the U.S., 43 per cent to 32 per cent; by contrast, 54 per cent of Americans think they should defend Germany should she find herself attacked by Russia (Breitbart, 12/29/19)

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Expect a tumultuous 2020 in the Middle East                                              by Marc Lynch, The Washington Post, Wednesday, January 1, 2020

It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that the Middle East’s 2020 will be tumultuous.   Libya’s civil war has taken a dangerous turn, with Russian mercenaries and Turkish forces joining the fray as Gen. Khalifa Hifter’s forces push into the capital.   Yemen’s still ravaged by economic blockade and war, despite recent efforts on all sides to de-escalate the conflict.   Syria’s civil war continues to metastasize, with a massive new wave of refugees fleeing violence in Idlib.   Large-scale popular protests are challenging Iraq’s government, which is bracing for fallout from the growing confrontation between the United States and Iran.   Israel and the Palestinian territories could dramatically change their relationship, as the prospects of a two-state solution dissolve.   And protest movements throughout the region could shake up half a dozen regimes.

Here are three trends to watch in the Middle East over the coming year.   Expect these three trends to bring numerous crises during this U.S. election year, shaping the challenges that will await the next administration.

  1. Every government is on edge about the U.S. 2020 election: Usually, when the U.S. government changes hands, U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East remains steady and consistent.  No more.
  2. Conflicts in the gulf region are getting harder to control:   The Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran has inflicted economic pain while accomplishing few or none of its strategic objectives.
  3. Protests and more protests.   2019’s wave of protests across the Middle East rivaled those of the Arab Spring in 2011 – and in some ways were more impressive.   Protests challenged regimes in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon; forced political change in Algeria; and overthrew the Sudanese regime.   More will come.
    (https://www.thehour.com/news/article/Expect-a-tumultuous-2020-in-the-Middle-East-14943308.php)

(Marc Lynch is a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, where he is the director of the Project on Middle East Political Science.  He is also a non-resident senior fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Program and the co-director of the Blogs and Bullets project at the United States Institute of Peace.  Lynch is the editor of “The Arab Uprisings Explained:   New Contentious Politics in the Middle East” and the author of “The Arab Uprising: The Unfinished Revolutions of the New Middle East.

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UK SEX GROOMING GANGS VICTIMIZE 19,000 CHILDREN IN 2019

Despite the publicity given to UK’s Pakistani sex grooming gangs since 2012, close to 19,000 children have been victimized by UK sex grooming gangs in 2019.   The number represents a 3,300 increase from five years ago.

In a report by the Independent, activists say the true number is much higher, as many of these crimes go unreported.   After underage girls are groomed using drugs and alcohol, many are reluctant to go to the authorities as their groomers convince them that due to the illegality of the substances, the victims themselves will be punished.

The exploitation has been widely known to local government officials, social workers and law enforcement officials for over a decade.   However, for fear of being called racists, authorities took no steps to prevent the horrific abuse of young, white British girls.

Sarah Champion is a Labor MP from Rotherham where the story broke in 2012 and a tireless campaigner for the victims of these gangs.   In 2017, Champion was forced to resign from her position as shadow (opposition) secretary for women and equalities after writing an article in The Sun telling the facts about the sex grooming gangs:

Frustrated that years after recommendations were made to endless government commissions with no measures taken to support victims and prevent such abuse in the future, Champion wrote, “Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls … There. I said it.  Does that make me a racist?  Or am I just prepared to call out this horrifying problem for what it is?”

Champion continued:   “The irony of all of this is that, by not dealing with the ethnicity of the abusers as a fact, political correctness has actually made the situation about race.”

“The perpetrators are criminals and we need to deal with them as such, not shy away from doing the right thing by fearing being called a racist.”

In a scathing talk in which he excoriated authorities for not protecting Britain’s young girls, Muslim activist Majid Nawaz said, “They were men like me from my community and in all but three, the victims were white teenage girls.   That is the truth, and what I’m saying is so uncomfortable that we’ve been ignoring it for years.   As a result of ignoring it, this problem has been growing and growing to a point where it now has led to racial tensions.” (Clarion Project, 12/31/2019)

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TO THE POINT

  • French president Emmanuel Macron awarded Britain the Legion of Honor, in recognition of the fact that Britain gave Charles de Gaulle and the “Free French” army refuge during World War II.   Many Frenchmen were opposed, claiming that Britain is France’s traditional enemy.
  • EUROPE:  ANTI-CHRISTIAN ATTACKS REACH ALL TIME HIGH.  The issue of anti-Christian vandalism was rarely reported by the European media until February 2019, when vandals attacked nine churches within the space of two weeks.   The issue made headlines again in April 2019, when a suspicious fire gutted the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.   Since then, however, the European media are once again shrouding facts in silence. (Soeren Kern, Gatestone, 1/1/2020)
  • “Statistics on homelessness are patchy, but dispiriting.   In 2010-18 the French government doubled the spaces in emergency accommodation to 146,000, yet cannot meet demand.   In Spain the number in shelters rose by 2-.5% between 2014 and 2016.   In the Netherlands homelessness has doubled in the past decade.  In Ireland, the number in shelters has tripled.   The German government estimates homelessness rose by 4% in 2018, to a record 678,000, most of them migrants.   All this has thrown a spanner into government’s plans.  For years, they have been trying to shift from providing beds for the night to housing first strategies like Finland’s.   Instead they are struggling to keep people off the streets.”   (“Oh give me a home,  Europe,” The Economist, 12/21/2019).
  • Political instability in Germany, coupled with ongoing economic uncertainty, could mean that the disruption seen in the U.K. during its Brexit crisis could shift across the continent to Europe’s largest economy, according to economists and market watchers. (CNBC 12/30/2019)
  • On December 24, Vladimir Putin took part in the Defense Ministry Board meeting held at the National Defense Control Centre.   During the Defense Ministry Board meeting, Putin discussed the role of European countries in contributing to the outbreak of WWII.   Commenting on Poland, Putin used strong words to criticize the Polish ambassador to Nazi Germany, Josef Lipski, who backed Hitler in 1938.   “That bastard! That antisemitic pig – I have no other words,” Putin said referring to Lipski.   This video aired on Rossiya-24 TV (Russia) and was translated into English by Vesti. (MEMRI 12/30)
  • Biblical Archaeology Report listed a finding at the biblical site of Shiloh as the second-most important biblical archeological discovery during 2019 out of a total of ten discoveries.
    What was the number one find in biblical archaeology? A bulla (clay stamp) found in the ancient City of David, with the inscription “[belonging] to nathan-melech, servant of the king,” not far from the Jewish Temple.   First-century artifacts and a Byzantine church in Bethsaida, evidence of Jerusalem’s destruction in the Babylonian period and a monumental staircase at Hazor, also made the cut.
    (https://www.israelhayom.com/2020/01/01/the-most-important-biblical-discovery-of-2019-not-what-you-think/)
  • Please remember to pray for Australia, which is experiencing the most horrendous fires in its history.  Watching them and the skies over New Zealand made me think of the prophecy in Deut. 28:23:   “And your heavens which are over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you shall be iron.”