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.
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)
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.”
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.
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
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.
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)
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)
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.
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)
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/)
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.