Tag Archives: China

THE AFRICAN SOLUTION

Marcus Garvey

Right now, the United States has the feel of South Africa about it.   Before 1994, South Africa was under the domination of one ethnic group; after 1994 it came under a different ethnic group.   Everything changed.

Clearly, the US has a lot of ethnic problems.   Perhaps Africa offers a solution.

There are over 50 African countries, each with its own president (or king), its own flag and national anthem.   They each have their own laws, but many laws are broadly the same.

For example, the Republic of Liberia specifically says that citizenship may only be given to black people.   Nearby Ghana recently extended Ghanaian citizenship to 100 African-Americans, but white people are not granted citizenship.  Not even those who are married to Ghanaians – they are given a one-year residence visa, which must be renewed every year.  You might think from this that they have really bad racial tensions, but quite the opposite is the case.   Ghana is at peace.  White people are welcome on short-term visas; if they offer skills that Ghana needs.

There is no diversity.

In the West, our emphasis is different.  In 1971, Canada was the first country to officially adopt multiculturalism.  Other nations in the western world quickly followed.   Diversity became all the rage.  In spite of the fact that it obviously doesn’t work, whenever there are riots or tensions between ethnic groups, leaders respond by saying that we need more diversity, not less.  It’s also impossible to achieve full equality between ethnic groups.

People clearly want to live with people of their own culture.

It’s only natural.

Discrimination is not right.  As the Bible says:  “God is no respecter of persons.”  (Acts 10:34)   But living separately in different countries is perfectly acceptable. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.”  (Acts 17:26  NIV)

Enforcing diversity is only going to backfire.   Separation is perfectly acceptable.

Africans have long been saying “Africa for the Africans.”     So why not “Europe for the Europeans”?   And America for the . . . ?  (That’s a question for the Supreme Court!)

Over 200 years ago, the Back to Africa movement in the US was started by men who wanted to provide a home for freed slaves.   White liberals also supported the movement. It led to the founding of Liberia with its capital Monrovia, named after US president Monroe.

One hundred years later, Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican political activist, publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, and orator, advocated a separation of the races, calling for “Africa for the Africans.”

“Failing to attract a following in Jamaica, Garvey went to the United States (1916) and soon established branches of the UNIA (Universal Negro Improvement Association) in Harlem and the other principal ghettos of the North. By 1919 the rising “Black Moses” claimed a following of about 2,000,000, though the exact number of association members was never clear.  From the platform of the Association’s Liberty Hall in Harlem, he spoke of a “new Negro,” proud of being black. His newspaper, Negro World, told of the exploits of heroes of the race and of the splendors of African culture.  He taught that blacks would be respected only when they were economically strong, and he preached an independent black economy within the framework of white capitalism.  To forward these ends, he established the Negro Factories Corporation and the Black Star Line (1919), as well as a chain of restaurants and grocery stores, laundries, a hotel, and a printing press.”   (Encyclopedia Britannica).

Now, we’ve moved on another century.   With the granting of citizenship in Ghana to 100 African-Americans, are the ideas of Marcus Garvey and others returning?

Separation of the races is likely to be considered “racist” in today’s western World.   But can it be racist when African governments themselves are embracing the idea?

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The Decline of the American World                                                                      It is hard to escape the feeling that this is a uniquely humiliating moment for America.   (The Atlantic (extracts), by Tom McTague)

 As citizens of the world the United States created, we are accustomed to listening to those who loathe America, admire America, and fear America (sometimes all at the same time).  But feeling pity for America?  That one is new, even if the schadenfreude is painfully myopic.  If it’s the aesthetic that matters, the U.S. today simply doesn’t look like the country that the rest of us should aspire to, envy, or replicate.

Even in previous moments of American vulnerability, Washington reigned supreme.  Whatever moral or strategic challenge it faced, there was a sense that its political vibrancy matched its economic and military might, that its system and democratic culture were so deeply rooted that it could always regenerate itself.   It was as if the very idea of America mattered, an engine driving it on whatever other glitches existed under the hood.   Now, something appears to be changing.  America seems mired, its very ability to rebound in question.  A new power has emerged on the world stage to challenge American supremacy – China – with a weapon the Soviet Union never possessed:   mutually assured economic destruction.

. . . To understand how this moment in U.S. history is being seen in the rest of the world, I spoke to more than a dozen senior diplomats, government officials, politicians, and academics from five major European countries, including advisers to two of its most powerful leaders, as well as to the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. From these conversations, most of which took place on the condition of anonymity to speak freely, a picture emerged in which America’s closest allies are looking on with a kind of stunned incomprehension, unsure of what will happen, what it means, and what they should do, largely bound together with angst and a shared sense, as one influential adviser told me, that America and the West are approaching something of a fin de siècle.  “The moment is pregnant,” this adviser said. “We just don’t know what with.”

. . . America’s problem is that the rest of the world can see when it has fallen below its achievements.

. . . Dickens, like le Carré, captured America’s unique hold on the world and the fundamental reality that it can never live up to people’s imagination of what it is, good or bad.  As it watches today, it recoils but cannot stop looking. In the United States, the world sees itself, but in an extreme form: more violent and free, rich and repressed, beautiful and ugly.  Like Dickens, the world expects more of America.  But as le Carré observed, it is also, largely, an aesthetic thing – we don’t like what we see when we look hard, because we see ourselves.

(https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2020/06/america-image-power-trump/613228/)

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‘Faces of the conquerors’:   Trump trip to Rushmore draws fire    South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said in 2018 that he had once told her straight-faced it was his dream to have his face carved into the monument.  

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) 25 June 2020 — President Donald Trump’s plans to kick off Independence Day with a showy display at Mount Rushmore are drawing sharp criticism from Native Americans who view the monument as a desecration of land violently stolen from them and used to pay homage to leaders hostile to native people.  Several groups led by Native American activists are planning protests for Trump’s July 3 visit, part of Trump’s “comeback” campaign for a nation reeling from sickness, unemployment and, recently, social unrest.  The event is slated to include fighter jets thundering over the 79-year-old stone monument in South Dakota’s Black Hills and the first fireworks display at the site since 2009.  But it comes amid a national reckoning over racism and a reconsideration of the symbolism of monuments around the globe. Many Native American activists say the Rushmore memorial is as reprehensible as the many Confederate monuments being toppled around the nation.  “Mount Rushmore is a symbol of white supremacy, of structural racism that’s still alive and well in society today,” said Nick Tilsen, a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe and the president of a local activist organization called NDN Collective.  “It’s an injustice to actively steal indigenous people’s land then carve the white faces of the conquerors who committed genocide.”  More:  (https://apnews.com/50f6bdb9e2fd2349bb39b99c1250b093)

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America’s top general warns that ‘divisiveness leads to defeat’ as Pentagon concerns over politicization grow                                        America’s most senior general warned that “divisiveness leads to defeat” in a speech to Naval War College graduates on Wednesday.                         24 June 2020, CNN

America’s most senior general warned that “divisiveness leads to defeat” in a speech to Naval War College graduates on Wednesday. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley counseled the audience to “eliminate anything that divides us.”   While he also spoke of the traditional need to keep an eye on adversaries “during periods when we are weary from conflict or otherwise preoccupied,” and did not mention President Donald Trump by name, his comments appeared to address the broader backdrop of racial divisiveness in the country and concerns within the Pentagon about the military becoming politicized.  Milley told the students, “We who wear the cloth of our nation must hold dear the principle of an apolitical military that is so deeply rooted in the very essence of our Republic.”  (https://edition.cnn.co)

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Going home — Donald Trump’s baffling proposal to withdraw troops from Germany    It makes little sense, and may never happen (The Economist (Europe), June 27, 2020 edition)

“It’s like having a stroke, and then a second one in the ambulance,” sighs Stefan Weiler, economic-development chief for Kaiserslautern, in south-west Germany.   The city was already battling high debt and the effects of covid-19.   Then came Donald Trump’s announcement that America would withdraw 9,500 of its 34,500 troops stationed in Germany.   Some 50,000 American soldiers, civil staff and family members live in and around Kaiserslautern.  The bases employ 2,700 locals and tens of thousands indirectly, from hotel-owners to parts suppliers.  “They’re our neighbors, they rent our houses, our kids play football together,” says Ralf Hechner, mayor of nearby Ramstein-Miesenbach, which adjoins a vast American air base.

This local warmth found a national echo.  Over decades dozens of American military bases – concentrated in Germany’s south, the area of post-war American occupation  – have cemented the bond between the NATO allies.  “I used to get a visit almost every year from the [premier] of Bavaria,” says Jim Townsend, the Pentagon’s former top official for Europe.  “We were important to him, and he was important to us.”

Mr. Trump and surrogates like Richard Grenell, his boorish former ambassador in Berlin, have long threatened to prune America’s military presence in Germany.  This time it looks credible.  At a rally in Oklahoma on June 20th Mr. Trump justified his proposal with a familiar charge-sheet: a “delinquent” Germany free-rides on American protection, spending nugatory sums on defense while backing a Russian gas pipeline.   “On top of it they treat us very badly on trade,” the president huffed.  A day later Robert O’Brien, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, attempted to retrofit a strategic rationale onto his boss’s decision.   The cold-war practice of massive army garrisons with families was “obsolete”, he wrote in the Wall Street Journal, because “modern warfare is increasingly expeditionary.”   Troops were needed in Asia to counter China, he added.

This account “would not pass muster” at any military college, says Ben Hodges, who commanded American army forces in Europe until 2017.   Although the reduction would represent just 15% of its troops in Europe, Germany is a crucial cog in America’s global military machine.  The Pentagon’s European and African commands, which control every soldier, tank, warplane and warship in their domains, are based in Stuttgart.   The army’s European headquarters are in Wiesbaden, and Germany hosts five of its seven European garrisons, including Grafenwöhr, its largest base outside America. Ramstein is a hub for directing drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen (to some German consternation).  The Landstuhl military hospital has treated 95,000 American soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.   “The amount of time and lives that that has saved is just incredible,” says Rachel Ellehuus, a former Pentagon official now at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a think-tank.  A vast $990m replacement, nicknamed the “UFO” by locals, is being built nearby.   At least 40% of American activity in Germany supports operations elsewhere, estimates Ms. Ellehuus.

A drawdown would follow a decades-long thinning of America’s presence.  Over 10m of its troops were cycled through Germany from 1950 to 2000, with 250,000 deployed for much of that time. That had dwindled to under 70,000 by the turn of the millennium, and fell by half again between 2006 and 2018.   Between 2005 and 2020 America’s overall footprint in Europe shrank by over a third.  That leaves little fat to trim.  American capabilities in Europe are spread so thinly across various functions that cutting any one of them by 30% would, in effect, eliminate it, warns General Hodges.  American generals in Germany are said to be baffled by the proposal.

Yet as Heiko Maas, Germany’s foreign minister, has warned, the Atlantic is clearly widening.  Tiffs over energy, trade, security and China are now threaded through the entire transatlantic relationship.  Pro-American Germans say the sabre-rattling of Mr. Trump and Mr. Grenell makes it harder for them to make their case to a sceptical public.  A recent Pew poll found that Germans now value their relations with China as strongly as those with the United States.  Still, at least in Kaiserslautern, Americaphilia reigns supreme.  “We don’t want the troops to leave,” says Mr. Weiler.  “It’s an honor to have them here.”

This article appeared in the Europe section of the print edition under the headline “Going home,” Copyright © The Economist Newspaper Limited 2020. All rights reserved.

(https://www.economist.com/europe/2020/06/27/donald-trumps-baffling-proposal-to-withdraw-troops-from-germany)

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Map of U.S. Military installations in Germany in 2020 Army & Air Force

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GERMANY ASSUMES EU LEADERSHIP

Goal: economic and political independence from China and the USA.  1 July 2020, German Foreign Policy

With its EU-Council Presidency, which begins today, the German government seeks “to set in motion unprecedented changes” in the European Union, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas announced. Not only should the EU countries’ economies – which are experiencing an unprecedented slump, due to the Covid-19 pandemic – be reinvigorated, it is also crucial “to consolidate the union permanently,” Maas declared.   Berlin is thus reacting to the fact that single-handed national initiatives to combat the pandemic – particularly those of Germany – have severely damaged the EU’s reputation within the populations.   According to a recent survey, 50 percent of respondents in Spain declared that their view of the EU had deteriorated, in Italy, it was even 58 percent.   The German government is also pushing to strengthen the EU’s “sovereignty” and to reduce its dependency not only on China, but also on the USA:   In the global great power rivalry, Europe must position itself as a “united entity,” Maas demands.    (German Foreign Policy, 7/1/2020)

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America’s Mood Turns Grim:  Just 17% say they are ‘proud’ when thinking about state of the U.S.   (PEW Research, 30 June 2020)

With less than five months until the 2020 elections, Americans are deeply unhappy with the state of the nation.   As the United States simultaneously struggles with a pandemic, an economic recession and protests about police violence and racial justice, the share of the public saying they are satisfied with the way things are going in the country has plummeted from 31% in April, during the early weeks of the coronavirus outbreak, to just 12% today.  Anger and fear are widespread.   Majorities of Democrats and Republicans say they feel both sentiments when thinking about the country, though these feelings are more prevalent among Democrats.   And just 17% of Americans – including 25% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and 10% of Democrats and Democratic leaners – say they feel proud when thinking about the state of the country.  However, nearly half of adults (46%) say they feel hopeful about the state of the country, although a 53% majority says they are not hopeful.  In the presidential contest, Donald Trump faces a 10-percentage-point deficit in his race against Joe Biden:  54% of registered voters say if the election were held today, they would support Biden or lean toward voting for him, while 44% support Trump or lean toward supporting him.

. . . While white Americans’ opinion on this question is little changed overall, the views of white Democrats and white Republicans have moved in opposite directions.   The share of white Democrats who say life will be better for future generations doubled from 12% in September to 24%.   The share of white Republicans saying life will be better has decreased from 30% to 21%.

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HONG KONGERS OFFERED UK CITIZENSHIP

Britain outlined a path to citizenship for almost 3m eligible Hong Kong residents and their families in response to China’s imposition of a national-security law.  Britain’s foreign secretary described the new regime as a “clear and serious violation” of the agreement under which Britain handed the territory back in 1997—although he admitted Britain could do little if China blocks any emigrants, as it has since promised to do.   Meanwhile, America’s House of Representatives passed sanctions that penalise banks doing business with Chinese officials.  (The Economist, 7/1/2020)

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IRANIAN LEADER SAYS US WILL COLLAPSE

Iranian Ayatollah Lotfollah Dezhkam, Supreme Leader Khamene’s Representative in the Fars province, said in a Friday, June 19, 2020 sermon that aired on Fars TV (Iran): “America cannot be the main decision-maker when it comes to strategic matters in the world . . . The sound of America being shattered, and of its collapse, is being heard all over the world.  The shout of the Iranian nation [is] being heard from the mouths of the Americans themselves:   Death to America!”   The audience responded by chanting:   “Death to America!”  (MEMRI 6/25/2020)

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PANDEMIC TO AFFECT ELECTION DAY

The fear mongering of democrats.com laid bare:   “In the midst of a deadly pandemic, no one should be forced to risk their life to exercise their Constitutional right to vote.”

The question should be how does votedem.org know that “the deadly pandemic” will still be among us on Nov. 3, 2020?

Could it be that devious Democrats intend to steal the election through pandemic fear mongering as a means to get the MAIL-IN VOTE, spearheaded by Michelle Obama’s ”non-partisan” ‘When We All Vote’ is the law of the land?   (Canada Free Press, 6/28/2020)

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EUROPEAN ATTITUDES TO US DETERIORATING

A survey of opinion across nine EU countries has found Europeans’ perception of the US deteriorating because of the pandemic.  More than 60% of respondents in Germany, France, Spain, Denmark and Portugal said they had lost trust in American leadership.   According to the authors of a report accompanying the survey:

Many have been appalled by the [US’s] chaotic response to Covid-19; the lack of solidarity it showed with Europeans in the 12 March closure of its border to members of the Schengen area; and its lack of leadership in tackling the coronavirus crisis at the global level – or even engagement with the issue (beyond a war of words with the World Health Organization).  (The Guardian 6/29/2020)

The EU has since banned American visitors from Europe because of Covid-19.

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PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS CONTINUES IN NIGERIA, GREECE

  • “The atrocities against Christians have gone unchecked and risen to alarming apogee with the country’s security forces and concerned political actors looking the other way or colluding with the Jihadists.” — The Nigerian Voice, May 14, 2020
  • Earlier this year, Christian Solidarity International issued a “Genocide Warning for Christians in Nigeria.”
  • “This [using a church as a personal toilet] is only the latest incident … [I]t has become extremely common for Greek Orthodox Churches to be vandalised and attacked by illegal immigrants on Lesvos . . .   As a deeply religious society, these attacks on churches are shocking to the Greek people and calls to question whether these illegal immigrants seeking a new life in Europe are willing to integrate and conform to the norms and values of their new countries.” — Greek City Times, May 16, 2020.(Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone, 6/28/2020)

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GROWING INTOLERANCE AS RELIGIOUS STATUES UNDER THREAT   “Historical churches are being defaced as some call for statues of Jesus to be torn down.

“’Yes, I think the statues of the white European they claim is Jesus should also come down.  They are a form of white supremacy,” wrote political activist Shaun King, who is an open supporter of Black Lives Matter.

“In the Bible, when the family of Jesus wanted to hide, and blend in, guess where they went?   EGYPT!  Not Denmark,” King continued in a June 22 Twitter post.  “Tear them down.”

“In Washington, vandals defaced the historical St. John’s Episcopal Church located just one block away from the White House.”   (The Epoch Times, 6/2/2020).

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BIDEN TAKES RADICAL STANCE ON ABORTION

Planned Parenthood recently endorsed Joe Biden for president, saying this election was a matter of life and death.  Ironic words from a group that makes millions off the deaths of America’s children.  But it appears their endorsement of the Democrat was well-founded.  Since becoming the party’s de facto nominee, Joe Biden has lurched further to the left— a move unusual in a general election.

Biden is increasingly alienating moderate voters even in his own party.  Now, he promises a radical approach to abortion—if he enters the White House.

In a statement praising the Supreme Court for striking down a Louisiana law requiring doctors who provide abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden announced his support for abortion “under any circumstance,” staking out an extreme position on the issue.  (National Insiders, 7/1/2020)

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BLM Protest in Colonial Williamsburg

On Tuesday morning, June 30, we were visiting Colonial Williamsburg in Williamsburg, Va. We were inside the Governor’s Palace when we spotted 6 police cruisers and heavy police presence, including the park’s security. I found it odd since the park has only been opened for a week and there were few visitors with only about ten percent of the buildings open for historical tours.

The atmosphere was hardly cheerful as everyone was wearing masks and visitors were required to wear masks inside and in outdoor exhibits such as the armory, the gardens, the weaver’s outdoor shop, the blacksmith, and the barrel maker. The temperatures in the 90s yesterday made wearing the masks quite unbearable.  (Canada Free Press, 7/1/2020)

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TEN TAKE-AWAYS

  1.   Boris Johnson promises ‘new deal’ for Britain                                        Boris Johnson will promise to “build back better” as he announces that he wants to use the coronavirus crisis “to tackle this country’s great unresolved challenges,” with a “new deal” bringing forward £5bn of spending on infrastructure projects.  However, critics have scoffed at the plan, saying Johnson cannot be compared to Franklin D. Roosevelt, who created the approach of a “new deal.”  (The Week, 6/30/2020) .   “FDR’s Folly” by Jim Powell shows that FDR prolonged the Great Depression.  Also: “The Forgotten Man” by Amity Schlaes.

2.   China passes contentious national security law for Hong Kong
China has passed a controversial national security law for Hong Kong.  The new legislation was passed unanimously by the Chinese parliament’s top decision-making body.  Critics fear the move will crush political freedoms and pave the way for Beijing to cement its control over the semi-autonomous territory, says The Guardian.   (The Week, 6/30/2020)

3.   Trump ‘bullied May’ and called Merkel ‘stupid’
President Donald Trump’s private calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin resemble conversations between “two guys in a steam bath,” according to an insider account.  “Some of the things he said to Angela Merkel are just unbelievable:  he called her ‘stupid,’” added the source, while Trump’s conversations with former prime minister Theresa May were described as “humiliating and bullying.”  (The Week, 6/30/2020)

4.   Revised data from Britain’s Office for National Statistics showed the greatest quarterly fall in the country’s GDP since 1979.   Output dropped by 2.2% in the first quarter compared to the previous three months, revised down from a previous estimate of a 2% fall.   The revision was driven by a decline in household consumption, which dropped 2.9% in the first quarter.  (The Economist, 6/30/2020)

5.   Police in Hong Kong fired water-cannon and pepper spray at pro-democracy protesters and made 30 arrests, the first under a new national-security law (see main stories). Britain, the EU and NATO expressed dismay after China’s parliament passed the law. Adopted by the territory’s government last night, it gives the government in Beijing and its security agencies the right to designate and prosecute political crimes in Hong Kong.   Activists may face life imprisonment.   One of the first people to be arrested under the new law had unfurled a banner proclaiming “Hong Kong Independence.”   (The Economist, 7/1/2020)

6.    The EU’s 27 member states agreed on 14 “safe” countries from which non-essential travel will be permitted, including Australia, Canada and Japan.  China will also be included, as long as travelers from the EU are allowed to go to China in return.   America, Brazil and Russia, which are suffering big surges of infections, are not on the list.  (The Economist, 7/1/2020)

7.   US snaps up global supply of Covid-19 drug remdesivir                      The US has bought up virtually all the world’s stocks of remdesivir, one of the two drugs proven to work against Covid-19.  “They’ve got access to most of the drug supply [of remdesivir], so there’s nothing for Europe,” said Dr Andrew Hill, senior visiting research fellow at Liverpool University.  Experts now fear what the US would do if a vaccine became available.

8.   Nearly 50% of black UK households live in poverty
Nearly half of black UK households are living in poverty, an independent study has revealed.   Black and minority ethnic households in the UK are more than twice as likely to live in poverty as their white counterparts, leaving them disproportionately exposed to job losses and pay cuts caused by the coronavirus pandemic, says the Social Metrics Commission.

9.   VATICAN RAID – Vatican police on Tuesday raided the office that manages St. Peter’s Basilica, seizing documents and electronic equipment as part of an investigation into possible corruption in procurement practices.  The extraordinary raid comes a month after the Vatican published new procurement rules intended to prevent corruption and cut costs.  The Holy See Press Office said Tuesday that police had acted under orders from Vatican prosecutors in response to a report by the city state’s auditor general.   (WSJ, 6/30/2020)

10.   The Cameroonian waging war against a French war hero’s statue  by Dickens Olewe, BBC News, 1 July 2020

Cameroonian activist Andre Blaise Essama has been on a decades-long mission to purge his country of colonial-era symbols, long before the issue came to international prominence in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests.  His main target has been French World War Two hero Gen Philippe Leclerc in the country’s biggest city, Douala.  “I have decapitated Leclerc’s head seven times and toppled the statue at least 20 times,” Mr. Essama told the BBC.  “I use my bare hands … but I make an incantation to the ancestors first,” he said.  (BBC 7/1/2020)              (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-53148608)

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     

CORONA DEVELOPMENTS

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health Anthony Fauci, left, and White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, attend President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force briefing in the Brady press briefing room of the White House, Wednesday, March 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

“In a stroke, and without a single constitutional shot fired, the country was given over to two unelected doctors named Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, the Democrats suddenly discovered the virtues of federalism, and the economy slammed into the brick wall of the CCP virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus,  as governors across the country trashed the Constitution and began ordering their residents around like serfs.”  (“The Rule of doctors threatens Trump’s reelection,” Michael Walsh, Epoch Times, May 7-13)

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“In California’s Alameda Country, a Chinese American man was screamed at while moving his lawn.   The local prosecutor said the man was told to get out of America.

“In neighboring Santa Clara County, a Vietnamese couple were threatened in a grocery store.  Officials said the man turned his hand into the shape of a gun.

“In New York City, people of Asian descent were assaulted, kicked, pushed and accosted on subway trains.

“The theme:   This virus is your fault.”   (“Hate crimes and biases against Asians on rise,” Kristine Phillips, USA Today, 5/21/2020)

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Coronavirus may kill the strangest beast of all — Donald Trump’s re-election prospects.   And yet . . . and yet …

Right now the virus is proving particularly deadly for the prospects of populists and authoritarians.  Trump is no authoritarian but he is the world’s No 1 populist.

His fellow populists look pretty messy.  Jair Bolsonaro, President of Brazil, makes Trump look a model of dull consistency, a desiccated calculating machine, with his wild and crazy talk.   Coronavirus, the Brazilian says, is only “the little flu.”   One by one his senior cabinet
ministers resign or get the sack as the President opposes his own government’s health regulations.

But local and provincial authorities widely ignore their President. The coronavirus caseload is nonetheless exploding in Brazil.   The death rate is still relatively modest.

Trump’s closest political friend internationally, Britain’s Boris Johnson, also leads an ineffective government response.   Johnson won immense personal sympathy and respect for the characteristically cheerful, generous way he endured his near-death virus episode.

But Britain has one of the worst COVID-19 death rates in the world. Johnson’s government responded too late and especially didn’t cut down travel from China.   It failed to take the warnings seriously in January and February and didn’t increase its stockpiles of personal
protective equipment for healthcare workers.   Nor did it sufficiently increase its beds.  (Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 5/16/2020)

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EU PLANS FOR RECOVERY

The European Commission on Wednesday proposed a €750 billion ($821 billion) aid package to help Europe’s economic recovery from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed over 350,000 people globally.

In a statement on its website, the EU governing body proposed the creation of a new recovery instrument, dubbed Next Generation EU, to address the economic damage caused by the outbreak.

“The recovery plan turns the immense challenge we face into an opportunity, not only by supporting the recovery but also by investing in our future: the European Green Deal and digitalization will boost jobs and growth, the resilience of our societies and the health of our environment,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in the statement.

“This is Europe’s moment.   Our willingness to act must live up to the challenges we are all facing. With Next Generation EU we are providing an ambitious answer.”

Such an aid package requires all 27 member states to agree for the plan to take effect.   (DW News, 5/27/2020)

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UK EPIDEMIC OF GROOMING

“Almost 19,000 children have been sexually groomed in England in the past year, according to official figures that have prompted warnings of an ‘epidemic.’  Campaigners say the true figure is far higher. . . ” — The Independent, December 2019.

“The government’s repeated failure to acknowledge the role of racism and religious bigotry in grooming gang crime has led to inadequate investigation, protection and prosecution,” one survivor, who wanted to remain anonymous, told The Independent in December 2019.   (Judith Bergman, Gatestone, 5/16/2020)

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CIVILIZATIONISTS TRYING TO SAVE WESTERN CIV

Civilizationists’ top concern is not battling climate change, building the European Union, or 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.

That anxiety contains four 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).

Civilizationists . . . are already a powerful force, having advanced from a marginal position twenty years ago to a central role in many countries. They are the key opposition force in Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden. They have been or are part of the government in Austria, Estonia, Italy, Norway, and Switzerland. They govern in a coalition in Poland and on their own in Hungary.(Daniel Pipes, Gatestone, 4/20/2020)

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ARE THE GERMANS EDGING CLOSER TO TRUE FISCAL UNION?

For the second time in the last three years, France and Germany have teamed up on an ambitious plan to rescue Europe—but this time their big road map looks likely to actually go someplace.  The Franco-German declaration this week, “A French-German Initiative for European Recovery From the Coronavirus Crisis,” comes as the European Union finds itself immersed in a political and economic crisis in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and just a week before the European Commission is set to unveil its own blueprint for recovery.

The headline part of the Franco-German plan is a bold, 500 billion-euro fund (about $550 billion) to help out ailing economies that are struggling to rebuild after the economic carnage from months of near-total shutdowns. The big question is whether naysayers like Austria and the Netherlands, which have long opposed picking up the tab for what they see as profligate Southern Europeans, will be persuaded to go along with such an ambitious, pan-European rescue.

And an even bigger question is whether the powerful endorsement of Germany, along with France, could edge the EU closer to the sort of fiscal integration that the more frugal Northern European countries, led by Berlin, have resisted in the past.   The Franco-German proposal for the European Commission to issue debt and then give grants where needed isn’t quite the straight-up debt-sharing that southern countries had asked for, dubbed “coronabonds” – but it’s a step in that direction, marking a turnabout for Germany.  And proposing to offer troubled regions grants rather than loans is a way to make the recovery less painful – another important departure that brings Europe a little bit closer to fiscal transfers, another taboo subject.

“You can call it what you want, but it’s large-scale mutualized debt, it’s a different form of coronabonds,” said J.H.H. Weiler, an expert on the European Union at New York University Law School.   “It crosses a certain line.”     (Keith Johnson, Foreign Policy, 5/20/2020)

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HOME TOWN HOPE

It’s hard to think of a place more deserving of a post-Brexit boom than Grimsby.   In the 1950s it had the largest trawler fleet in the world, brought in hundreds of tonnes of cod a day, and you could cross its harbour by walking over ships in the dock.   But the Cod Wars were lost and the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy began to bite. Now Grimsby is one of the most deprived areas in the country, and its long road down to the docks is littered with shuttered shops.

Simply put, it’s exactly the kind of place the Tories are hoping to ‘level up’ and win over before the next election.  In 2016, along with Hull and much of the rest of the Humber, it voted to leave the EU and it elected its first Tory MP in 75 years in December.   (Spectator, 3/14/2020)

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NEW ZEALAND HEADING FOR ECONOMIC CRISIS

No national leader has been as feted as Jacinda Ardern during this pandemic.  Young and progressive, New Zealand’s Prime Minister was popular before the crisis.   Since she imposed the favored pandemic solution of the left — a hard lockdown, shutting practically all business and no socializing with anyone outside your home — her star has only risen.

“Laughing in the face of seismic shakes, she has calmly steered her country in the face of a massacre, an eruption and a pandemic,”   The Guardian cooed on Tuesday.   Steering it into an economic abyss, perhaps.

New Zealand’s economy is in strife.  Without major change, our constitutional cousin is in decline.  Its public finances are in tatters, its biggest export, tourism, has been obliterated — Air New Zealand announced 4000 job losses this week — and New Zealand police now can enter people’s homes without a warrant.

“New Zealand is going backwards, falling behind the vast ­majority of our OECD partners in virtually every social and economic measure that matters,” said Roger Douglas, a former New Zealand Labour treasurer and the famed architect of Rogernomics.

New Zealand ranks fourth last in the OECD for labor productivity growth, and last for multi-factor productivity growth, according to economist Michael Reddell, based on OECD data. Health and education are gobbling up more of the budget as the population ages, with less and less to show for it.

The country’s Massey University reckons economic activity will tank 16 per cent in the second quarter, while government forecasts pencil in a 4.6 per cent decline this year ahead of an 8.2 per cent rebound in 2022.

“I doubt the economy will bounce back as the government hopes; and the Treasury forecasts, as bad as they are, will prove optimistic,” former NZ Treasury secretary Graham Scott said.

In one year, New Zealand has blown 30 years of hard-fought ­fiscal rectitude. Its public debt will explode from the equivalent of 19 per cent of gross domestic product last year to 54 per cent by 2022, on the government’s own figures.

“The real problem with the Ardern government is they have no idea whatsoever apart from how to throw money at things,” Douglas told The Australian.  The targeted “investment” approach to welfare pioneered when previous prime minister Bill English was treasurer has been junked in favor of open slather.   “Our $12bn wage subsidy, for instance; about a third was a ­donation to people who don’t need it,” he said, explaining how well-off lawyers and accountants had obtained the payments.

New Zealand’s international investment position was negative $171bn at the end of last year, more than half its GDP.   “To keep international investors’ trust, we must remain squeaky clean in our fundamental economic institutions,” New Zealand Initiative chief executive Oliver Hartwich said.   “Even Mexico, Nigeria and Venezuela are not as indebted to the rest of the world as New Zealand.”

(“Flightless economy to land with a thud,” Adam Creighton, The Australian, 5/27,2020)

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US ALTERS STATUS OF HONG KONG

WASHINGTON—The State Department has officially determined that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Wednesday that holds implications for the future of economic ties and could lead to sanctions against China.

The State Department is required by the Hong Kong Policy Act to assess the autonomy of the territory from China.     It certified to Congress on Thursday that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous.

“This decision gives me no pleasure. But sound policy-making requires a recognition of reality,” Mr. Pompeo said in the statement. “It is now clear that China is modeling Hong Kong after itself.”

U.S. endorsement of Hong Kong’s special status has served as a seal of approval of the city’s role as a global financial center with Western-style rule of law.   The new assessment is likely to diminish confidence among U.S. and other foreign businesses in Hong Kong.

Among the practical outcomes of the special status, the U.S. has permitted exports of advanced technology equipment to Hong Kong that isn’t allowed to be sold elsewhere in China.  It also has provided U.S. support for Hong Kong’s separate representation on global bodies from the World Health Organization to the Asian Development Bank.

(“US officially declares that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous,” Jessica Donati, Wall Street Journal, 5/27/2020)

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Five Eyes is the nickname of the intelligence services of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.  These five countries share their intelligence.   The EU’s new intelligence service will rival Five Eyes.

FIVE EYES RIVAL

A DANE, A Swede, a German and a Dutchman walk into a bar.  It is 1979 and spooks from the four countries are conferring in Munich over dark and malty lagers.   For years, they had co-operated in the business of signals intelligence, or SIGINT – intercepting  messages and cracking codes – and wanted a name for their budding spy pact. “They looked at their glasses, filled with Doppelbock beer of the local brand Maximator,” writes Bart Jacobs, a Dutch computer-science professor, “and reached a decision.”

In a paper published last month, Mr. Jacobs publicly revealed the existence of the Maximator alliance for the first time, to the considerable irritation of those who had kept it under wraps for decades.   The group was formed in 1976, when Denmark joined forces with Germany and Sweden to intercept and decipher messages sent by satellites, a burgeoning method of communication. The Netherlands joined two years later, bringing its intercept stations in the Caribbean to the table, and France in 1985.   The group is alive and well today.   (The Economist, 5/27/2020)

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OBAMAGATE TREASON

Perhaps the most troubling – and dangerous – aspect of the current political conversation is the unwillingness of virtually every elected official and every media pundit to confront what “Obamagate” is obviously about, which is treason.   Specifically, treason committed by the Obama White House in attempting to block and then overthrow the Trump presidency.   Obamagate is about the failed attempt by President Obama and his appointees to use government intelligence agencies to spy on the Trump campaign and White House, to concoct a phony accusation of collusion with Russia against the president and then to obstruct his administration and overthrow him.  (David Horowitz, Frontpage, 5/19/2020)

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TO THE POINT

  • Mike Pompeo, America’s secretary of state, declared that Hong Kong is no longer meaningfully autonomous from China.   The territory currently enjoys special trading status with America—it may soon face sanctions instead, which would threaten its position as Asia’s main financial hub.   The move comes as China is set to impose new national-security laws on the territory (see main stories).   Yesterday hundreds of Hong Kongers were arrested as they protested against a bill that would ban insult to China’s national anthem.  (The Economist, 5/28/2020)
  • The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, proposed a new €750bn ($825bn) fund to help European economies recover from the pandemic.   Together with an earlier rescue package and its €1.1trn budget for 2021-27, the commission will have €2.4trn at its disposal, she said. Some EU member-states welcomed the proposal, but the more frugal, such as the Netherlands, sounded relatively cautious.  (The Economist, 5/28/2020)
  • The number of coronavirus deaths in America surpassed 100,000, by far the highest number recorded by any single country (though not the worst on a cases-per-person basis).  The dreaded milestone was reached even as many of the states have begun to ease their lockdowns, prompting fears that the overall rate of infection will soon accelerate again.  (The Economist, 5/28/2020)

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AFTERTHOUGHT

The murder of a nine-year-old autistic boy by his mother less than a week ago is particularly disturbing.

It has become commonplace for children to be killed by one parent or the other, for various reasons.  But this boy was very vulnerable as he was non-verbal.

After initially trying to drown him, the boy was able to run to some passing adults.  But he could not say what he had been through.  As soon as they were gone, she succeeded on a second attempt, taking his life.   The last few moments of the boy’s life must have been terrifying.

We have an 8-year-old grandson who is autistic.   He’s a really good-natured boy and gives us very little trouble (unlike one or two of his brothers!).

It can be difficult raising a special needs child.  Perhaps the coronavirus has made it more challenging for some.   But autistic children have the same potential as others in our society.  Verbal or non-verbal there are jobs that they can do, stores that will give them a job knowing they have “special needs.”

What should the punishment be in this case?

The Bible tells us to do no murder (Exodus 20:13).   When murder was committed, the death penalty was enforced.   It also says that the sentence should be carried out speedily.   (Ezra 7:26)

Something must be done to help our children.   This is even more the case when those children are mentally handicapped in some way.   No sympathy should be given this mother.

One question:   where was the father in all of this?

MR     

CCP BIGGEST VIRUS OF ALL

(Mike Thompson copyright 2020, USA Today)

“The Chinese Communist Party “is the biggest and most serious virus of all . . .   The CCP represses and manipulates information to strengthen its hold on power.  It is time to recognize the threat the Chinese Communist Party poses to all humanity.” — Chen Guangcheng, blind Chinese dissident, now a refugee in the US.  (Asia news April 27, 2020)

Bloomberg News is said to censor articles that might anger China and expose Xi’s personal wealth. And the European Union just softened criticism of China in a report on disinformation about the pandemic… It looks as though free thought is more valued among China’s daring dissidents than in many corners of the West.

To paraphrase Leon Trotsky: You may not be interested in China, but China is interested in you.    (Gatestone, 5/17/2020)

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EU UNHAPPY WITH CHINA

The Western Balkan states, including Serbia, should publicly acknowledge the EU’s support in combating the Covid-19 pandemic, the EU demands in the final declaration at its Zagreb Western Balkan Summit last Wednesday. The summit had been preceded by harsh criticism of Chinese aid deliveries to Serbia, which have aroused strong resentment in Berlin and Brussels.    EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Josep Borrell accused Beijing of waging “a struggle for influence” with its “politics of generosity.”   For years, Germany and the EU have been trying to counter the growing influence of other powers in the Southeastern European non-EU countries.   This pertains to the Turkish, Russian and Chinese cultural and military policies and their economic activities.   The EU dominance over the Western Balkan countries’ economy has only drained these countries of billions of euros and rendered their recovery impossible.   This is why they are turning also to China.  (German Foreign Policy 5/18/2020)

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UK:   Sunak warns of ‘severe recession’ and ‘more hardship’

Rishi Sunak (Britain’s Finance Minister) has forecast that Britain is facing a “severe recession, the likes of which we haven’t seen” and warned that it is “not obvious there will be an immediate bounceback.”   Following a sharp rise in unemployment benefit claims, the chancellor told a Lords committee that there is “no doubt there will be more hardship to come.”  (The Economist, 5/20/2020)

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WHO INVESTIGATION

Member-states of the World Health Organization unanimously agreed to set up an independent inquiry into the covid-19 pandemic. The “impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation” will look at the WHO’s own role in the crisis.   America, in particular, has been critical of the inter-governmental organization.   Its boss, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the inquiry would start “at the earliest opportunity.”

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OPPOSITION TO LOCKDOWNS GATHERS PACE

(Direct quote from The Economist)  ” IN MORE THAN 30 of America’s 50 state capitals angry crowds have been gathering to protest against stay-at-home orders.  Buoyed by tweets from President Donald Trump encouraging them to “liberate” their states, some even compare their elected officials to the Nazis.   A few among them toting assault weapons are dressed incongruously in Hawaiian shirts.  They might seem almost comical were it not for the fact that, in the fetid corners of the internet, such beachwear is recognized as the uniform of the extreme right.

“The spreading of conspiracy theories is central to the extreme right’s activities.   Some claim the virus is a hoax.  Others blame the Chinese, the Jews or even Bill Gates.  Some claim that the federal government is using the virus as a pretext to confiscate weapons and enforce “medical martial law.”   Extremists also spread more familiar conspiracy theories, decrying 5G networks and vaccinations, which help introduce the uninitiated to their ideology.

“A closer look at the far right’s beliefs helps explain why extremists have been energized by America’s new reality.

“The most familiar of these is white supremacy.  Its adherents exploit the virus’s geographical origins to drum up racial antipathy towards Chinese people.  Anti-semites have been accusing Jews of deliberately spreading plagues ever since the Black Death, and covid-19 gives them a chance to reuse the template.  The supremacists thus use fears about “white genocide” to argue for closed borders and eventually a white ethno-state.  “Open borders is the virus,” declares one protest sticker placed on road signs.”  (The Economist, 5/20/2020)

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DURBAN: CORRUPTION IN FOOD DISTRIBUTION

Hunger and starvation in Durban                                                       Allegations are flying thick and fast as some desperate eThekwini residents wait for the delivery of food parcels, one of the brutal consequences of government’s draconian and extended Covid-19 lockdown.  (by Des Erasmus, 12 May 2020, Daily Maverick ) 

eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality is a metropolitan municipality created in 2000, that includes the city of Durban, South Africa and surrounding towns. eThekwini is one of the 11 districts of KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa.  The majority of its 3,442,361 people speak Zulu.  It was formed from seven formerly independent local councils and tribal land. ]

Hunger — and more particularly the very real fear of starvation — has roused already elevated suspicions in some of the province’s rural areas, where peering through a curtain at midnight and seeing “food being delivered at that time” has led to allegations of theft and mismanagement of the parcels by councillors.  What the lockdown has revealed is that it is ordinary citizens who are stepping up to place food on the plates of the province’s distressed.   And allegations about councillors who milk the lockdown to ensure they are able to “buy support” for next year’s local government elections in order to keep their seats.   But just how deep and real this problem is, is difficult to uncover.   Even the South African Police Services couldn’t provide clarity.

Nevertheless, perceived or real, over the course of the weekend and into Monday, Daily Maverick received several calls from eThekwini residents accusing councillors of distributing food to friends and family.   One such call involved the “peering through the window” scenario in Ward 94 of eThekwini Metro, which includes the areas of KwaMakhutha and Ensimbini, just west of the seaside suburb of Amanzimtoti.   “The councillor was seen handing out food parcels at about midnight on Saturday to people who were her friends and family.   One lady went to collect parcels and was turned away,” a resident, who asked not to be named for fear of repercussions, told Daily Maverick.

(https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2020-05-12-hunger-and-starvation-in-durban/)

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CONTROVERSY IN GERMANY OVER HUAWEI

In the wake of the most recent US devastating blow launched at Huawei, demands are again being raised in Berlin to exclude the Chinese company from setting up Germany’s 5G networks.  Huawei should not have an opportunity in Germany, insists Norbert Röttgen, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the German Bundestag.  The government’s current draft for a revised version of the IT security law, in principle, does not exclude the participation of Chinese companies but includes an ambiguous clause (“trustworthiness test”) that could be applied against them.  While the discussion is continuing in Berlin, the Trump administration announced that, in the future, chip manufacturers anywhere in the world, using specialized US equipment must obtain a special US government license to supply Huawei.  Experts estimate that should this directive be implemented – which would subjugate key sectors of the world’s economy to US control – nearly 90 percent of Huawei sales would be threatened.   Subsequently, German companies would also suffer damages.   (German Foreign Policy, 5/19/2020)

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WIFE BEATING ADVICE FROM QATARI OFFICIAL

Dr. Ahmad Al-Farjabi, a shari’a expert from the Qatari Ministry of Religious Endowments, said in a May 6, 2020 interview on Al-Jazeera Network (Qatar) that Muslims are not the only people who beat their wives and that when a man suspects his wife might turn out to be rebellious, he should take the measures prescribed by the Quran, the third of which is beating his wife.   Dr. Al-Farjabi added that even Western psychologists have said that wife-beating is “inevitable” for women who had been beaten while they were growing up and for women who have no respect for their husbands.  He said that these kinds of women must be “subdued by muscles,” and that some kinds of women “may be reformed by beating.”   Al-Farjabi also said that he has even heard from women at his lectures that it is preferable to beat one’s wife than to allow her to ruin the home and lose her children.  (MEMRI 5/18/2020)

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NUREMBERG CODE FORBIDS VACCINES WITHOUT CONSENT

The Nuremberg Code  (1947) is a set of research ethics and principles for human experimentation created as a result of the Nuremberg trials at the end of the Second World War, when the notorious doctor’s experiments where supposed to have come to an end.

It established a set of guiding principles for the Right of the patient to be informed of their medical treatment options and to give their consent before any medical treatment could be performed.

It feels now more than ever that the mass experimentation on humanity is under way once more with enforced vaccines looking an inevitable thing for anyone that wants to do anything.   But know your rights and be better prepared.

The Nuremberg Code is one of the most influential documents in the history of clinical research

Code 6 also states:   The risks should never exceed the benefits.  According to Article 6 of the Unesco 2005 statement on Bioethics and Human Rights.

Article 6, section 1:   Any preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic medical interventions is only to be carried out with the prior, free and informed consent of the person concerned, based on adequate information.   The consent should, where appropriate, be expressed and may be withdrawn by the person concerned  at any time and for any reason WITHOUT DISADVANTAGE or prejudice. (caps mine)

Alan Dershowitz:  State has right to ‘plunge a needle into your arm’
Contends Constitution grants government power to forcibly vaccinate individuals.

Harvard Law School emeritus professor Alan Dershowitz claimed in an interview that the government has a constitutional right under the 10th Amendment to forcibly vaccinate a citizen to curb the spread of a contagious disease.   “Let me put it very clearly, you have no constitutional right to endanger the public and spread the disease, even if you disagree.   You have no right not to be vaccinated, you have no right not to wear a mask, you have no right to open up your business,” he said.   The interviewer, Jason Goodman, interjected, asking if the famed constitutional scholar was saying that if the government decides “you have to be vaccinated, we have to be vaccinated.”   “Absolutely,”  Dershowitz replied. “And if you refuse to be vaccinated, the state has the power to literally take you to a doctor’s office and plunge a needle into your arm.”

>>MORE:  (https://www.wnd.com/2020/05/alan-dershowitz-state-right-plunge-needle-arm/)

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BEHIND THE SCENES OF FRANCO-GERMAN RECOVERY FUND
by Katya Adler, BBC Europe editor, 19 May 2020

After a shambolic, acrimonious display at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the EU’s main players are now on a mission to demonstrate that the European dream is not dead or dying.  To prove that solidarity, common values and a unity of purpose are, in fact, the order of the day.

The German and French leaders were notably absent: the relationship between them tetchy – with France pushing for the EU’s richer countries (including Germany and excluding itself) to take on and share the coronavirus-related debt of the countries of the south.  But what did we see on Monday?   Hey presto: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron jointly proposing a recovery fund to help the weakest EU economies get out of a post-covid slump to the tune of €500bn ($545bn; £448bn).  In EU political terms this is huge. Chancellor Merkel has conceded a lot.   She openly agreed with the French that any money from this fund, allocated to a needy EU country should be a grant, not a loan.   Importantly this means not increasing the debts of economies already weak before the pandemic and financially excruciating lockdown, such as those in southern but also central and eastern Europe.  President Macron gave ground too.   He’d wanted a huge fund of a trillion or more euros.   But a trillion euros of grants was probably too much for Mrs. Merkel to swallow on behalf of fellow German taxpayers.  The resulting compromise:    win-win for the two leaders.  They hope.    . . . I’d say the battle over the EU recovery fund is only just beginning.

 >>MORE:  (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-52717232)

Crisis in Europe:   von der Leyen’s audacious bid for new powers
Commission president must bridge bitter divides over EU plan to rebuild the economy
by Sam Fleming, Jim Brunsden and Michael Peel in Brussels
(Financial Times, 18 May 2020)

Ursula von der Leyen delivered a stark message to the EU’s commissioners on Thursday evening at their first in-person meeting for many weeks.   She told her socially distanced colleagues that they had an opportunity to forge a viable reconstruction plan for a European economy ravaged by the coronavirus crisis.   But they had precious little time at their disposal and only one shot to get it right. One important detail was tellingly absent from the commission president’s private presentation in a windowless room in Brussels’ Berlaymont building:   the hugely divisive question of the size of the recovery fund which she will shortly propose.

Ms. von der Leyen is planning an audacious bid for new powers as she seeks to put her institution at the centre of efforts to revive the European economy, asking member states for unprecedented latitude to raise funds in the markets.   But the former German defense minister faces the central test of her short presidency as she seeks to bridge bitter splits within the EU over the plan.

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FRANCE:   MACRON LOSES MAJORITY

Seven Members leave the La République en Marche group. The French President Macron’s party thus has 288 seats – one less than the majority.(May 19, 2020, Der Spiegel)  

The party of French President Emmanuel Macron loses its majority in parliament.   Seven MEPs from La République en Marche (LREM) left the group and joined the Ecologie Démocratie Solidarité (Ecology, Democracy, Solidarity) group that was founded on Tuesday.

Macron’s party LREM now has only 288 votes in the people’s representation.   A majority require 289 seats.   When Macron took office in 2017, LREM had 314 MPs.   There’s Dissatisfaction with Macron’s business-friendly policies.

(https://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/frankreich-emmanuel-macron-verliert-die-mehrheit-im-parlament-a-ad851480-9158-4c2a-9d45-b059b71da91f)

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DANGER TO FUTURE FOOD SUPPLY

BEE POPULATIONS ARE IN DECLINE ALL OVER THE WORLD =  To bee or not to bee:  International Bee Day highlights plight of pollinators
90% of world’s wild flowering plant species depend, entirely, or at least partly, on animal pollination, along with over 75% of world’s food crops, 35% of agricultural land.

Bees have gotten a bad press — the truth is that they rarely sting.  What they do do is sustainably pollinate a third of the plants needed for a stable, healthy, human diet.   There is no alternative to bees and no logic to seeking an alternative.

In the US, beekeepers lost an estimated 40.7% of their managed honey bee colonies between April 2018 and April 2019, according to the most recent loss and management report issued by the Bee Informed Partnership: https://beeinformed.org/

<Main Article> https://www.timesofisrael.com/to-bee-or-not-to-bee-international-bee-day-highlights-plight-of-pollinators/

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1927 BOMB REMAINS WORST SCHOOL ATTACK IN US HISTORY

May 18th, 1927, 45 people including 38 children were killed in Bath Township, during the deadliest school attack in U.S. History.

“He asked himself I don’t know why I lived.” said Wendy Marrison, granddaughter of a survivor.    Wendy Marrison’s Grandpa, Dean was a student at Bath Consolidated School and was only 11 years old when it happened.

93 years ago, Andrew Keyhoe was a school board member at the time.   Police say he hid nearly 500 pounds of dynamite throughout the school, something he planned for months.

“It was the last day before summer break and as the kids were going into school Mr. Keyhoe was there greeting him.   He actually said to the kids this is your last day, my Grandpa thought that’s a nice greeting, later on, he realized that was a warning.” said Wendy Marrison.

At 8:45 A.M., hours before their summer vacation was set to begin.

The explosion happened.

“He was on the first floor and he got buried under all this rubble.  He was the very last one to be pulled out.   When they pulled him they couldn’t find a pulse, so in his words “I was put in the dead pile.”   One of his neighbors saw his toe move and they all started yelling he’s alive he’s alive!” Marrison added.

Dean did survive the attack and went on to live a good life.  He passed away in 2006 at the age of 92.   Wendy wasn’t alive when it all happened, but she wants to make sure that people never forget.

“We need to honor the ones who survived and the ones who didn’t.” Marrison said.    (WLNS 6, Bath Township, Lansing, Michigan)

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Danish Bible that removed Israel ‘not antisemitic’ argues columnist The Danish Bible society took too many liberties with the translation but, Mosaic Magazine’s Philologos argued, was not antisemitic in its motives.

Far from being antisemitic, a new Christian Bible translation which omits or replaces the word “Israel” in many places within the text affirms the link between Israel and the Jewish people, a columnist for Mosaic Magazine has argued.

The translation, titled Bible 2020, released earlier this year by the Danish Bible Society, came under scrutiny toward the end of April when readers noted that numerous references to “Israel” had been replaced or removed. In some places the word had been replaced with “the Jews,” “the Jewish people,” or even “the people,” whereas in others the translation was made more universal, such as the re-rendering of Psalm 121:4 from “He who watches over Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps,” to “He who takes care of us will not fall asleep, no he is not sleeping.”

According to analysis by the Bible Society in Israel, the word “Israel” appears only twice in the Bible 2020 version of New Testament rather than the more than 60 times it appears in the Greek from which it was originally translated.   The Old Testament has been less altered, but while the word appears 2,521 times in the Greek, it has been rendered as such 2,316 times in the Danish translation, a reduction of around 9%.

Defending their translation, the Danish Bible society said in a statement:   “In The New Testament the word ‘Israel’ has been translated into ‘the Jewish people,’ ‘the Jews,’ or ‘the people’ because when the Greek text uses the word ‘Israel’ it is referring to a people with whom God has a special relationship – Jacob’s descendants.   However, for the secular reader, who does not know the Bible well, ‘Israel’ could be referring only to a country.  Therefore the word ‘Israel’ in the Greek text has been translated in other ways, so that the reader understands it is referring to the Jewish people.”

However, many were unconvinced.

The Jerusalem Post columnist Liat Collins wrote of the translation: “Instead of making sure that readers understand the connection between Israel, the Jews and the Land of Israel of the Bible, they preferred to make an artificial separation.

“Taking a charitable approach, it’s possible to say that the Danish Bible translators did not see their changes as a political act, more an act of political correctness – trying to include all.   But clearly something was lost in translation, as is evident to someone who reads the Bible in the original Hebrew.   As B’nai Brith International tweeted: “… this surreal revision causes confusion and worse: whitewashing of history, identity, and sacred scripture.””

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TO THE POINT

  • Dozens of companies around the world are working on vaccines.  Experts say the world will need more than one, because demand will outstrip the production capacity of any single manufacturer.  Official remarks:  President Trump said he had been taking hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug that experts have warned could cause dangerous heart rhythm abnormalities in coronavirus patients, as a preventive measure.   He said he had no symptoms of Covid-19.  (NY Times).
  • Aussies subservient to Chinese — AUSTRALIA lacks courage to appropriately deal with China in the wake of the Coronavirus “cover-up” warns Liberal Party senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.   Addressing parliament this week the NSW-based senator said it was critical for Australia to plan for reparations and to “decouple” from China.  (Politico, 5/20/2020)
  • It is understood that due to his own experience with the coronavirus, the British PM believes ending obesity will help Britain in its fight against Covid-19 – a battle that will require blood, toil, tears and sweat.  And also, knowing Johnson, bicycles.  (The Week, 5/15/2020) Boris Johnson is an impassioned fan of wartime prime minister Winston Churchill.   But his own war, as it turns out, will not be waged against Nazis but against fat.
  • “Even without laptops and swimming pools, and on a fraction of what government schools spend today, Americans were a surprisingly learned people in our first hundred years.”  (“The Myth that Americans were poorly educated before mass government schooling,” Lawrence W. Reed, The Epoch Times, 5/14/2020).
  • Headline in Lansing State Journal:   “Mid-Michigan’s catastrophic flooding adds to state’s pandemic woes” (5/21/2020).   Michigan is the third worst hit state from the coronavirus.
  • CAR BUMPER STICKER:   My car gets three weeks to the gallon!

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AFTER THOUGHT

There have been more articles warning about a “second” civil war.

By my calculations, it would be the third civil war.   The Revolutionary War was also a civil war.   As John Adams wrote, the country was divided three ways, those Loyal to the Crown, those rebelling and those who couldn’t spell Crown!

Not counting this as a civil war overlooks a reality in American history, which is still pertinent today, in the time of corona.

The country is divided.

A Canadian Member of Parliament summed it up quite well a few years ago.  In explaining the difference between the US & Canada, he said, in Canada they have four different parties who all have a different approach to any problem.   The Canadians discuss the problem until consensus is reached.  In the US, the two parties take opposing positions and head for the barricades.

Perhaps it’s something in the DNA of Americans.  Or something in our breakfast cereals.

The fact is that we are divided again – on a virus of all things!  There are those who believe everything the government tells us; and those who reject everything.

In this sense, it resembles the first civil war (1775-83).   Then, on the one side you had people who were against authority and on the other those who upheld authority.

Then as now.

It would be ridiculous to have a civil war over a virus, but it’s just one more issue that continues to divide the country.

As Abraham Lincoln said prior to the War Between the States,  “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”   He was quoting from Mark 3:25.

MR   

VIRUS COULD BREAK UP EU

Demonstration at Capital Building in Lansing, MI.  (Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty)

For disobedience to the laws of God, ancient Israelites were told that He would “break the pride of their power” (Leviticus 26:19).   Hebrews 13:8 states that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.”  Disobedience to God’s Laws carries the same penalties it did centuries ago.

The pride of America’s power rests in two areas:  the economy (and, with it, the status of the “Almighty Dollar”) and the military, which is dependent on a vibrant economy.

The economy is going to take a big hit this summer.   (In the UK they are predicting the biggest slump in three centuries!)   Along with the virus itself, this must also have an effect on military preparedness.

Could we see a fulfillment of Lev. 26:19?

MR   

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Anti-Governor Demo in Michigan

It’s not very often Lansing, MI, where we live makes headline news:

Lansing, MI — It’s a wild scene in Lansing today.  Hundreds, if not thousands of demonstrators showed up to the Capitol, protesting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay home order intended to fight the coronavirus pandemic.   Police watched as horns honked and vehicles from around the state jammed the nearby roads.   Crowds even gathered in front of the Capitol, out of their cars, some ignoring social distancing orders.  (Detroit Free Press, 4/15/2020)

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VIRUS COULD BREAK UP EU

BERLIN – The coronavirus pandemic, with its simultaneous health and economic crises, is deepening fault lines within Europe in a way some leaders fear could prove to be a final reckoning.   The cohesion of the European Union had been battered by Brexit, bruised by the political fallout from the 2015 migration surge and the 2008 financial crisis, and challenged by rising autocracy in the east that runs contrary to the professed ideals of the European project.

Now, if Europe’s leaders cannot chart a more united course, the project lies in what one of its architects described this week as “mortal danger.”

In the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, the response among European Union member states showed that national interests trump more-altruistic European ideals.   Border restrictions were reimposed haphazardly, and Germany and France threw up export bans on medical equipment such as masks and ventilators, even as Italy clamored for assistance.

Quick to capitalize were the propaganda machines of Russia and China. Moscow and Beijing have swept in with much-trumpeted — if sometimes defective — medical aid, pushing a savior narrative and providing fodder for the region’s Euroskeptics.   (Drudge Report, 4/3/2020)

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GERMANY BLOCKS CORONABONDS

At the euro finance minister’s video conference, the German government blocked the introduction of “coronabonds,” in spite of massive pressure from other EU nations and recently even from within Germany.   Whereas mainly Italy, Spain and France had insisted that this measure be taken, voices are now being raised from within the German establishment warning that the German government should stop blocking its implementation.   The reason, as leading Green Party politicians are explaining, is that should Italy and Spain suffer economic collapse, Germany’s export industry would be seriously damaged by the loss of these important markets, and – should German assistance be refused – both countries could turn to China.  This must be prevented. The “coronabonds” will cost Germany, however, specialists estimated years ago that the costs would be in the lower double-digit billions, while Germany is simultaneously reaping triple-digit billions in profits – annually.   (German Foreign Policy, 4/9/2020)

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GERMANY’S WAY OUT

The German government has announced plans to gradually lift Covid-19 containment measures, beginning with the partial opening of schools from May 4.   Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday said the country had achieved “fragile intermediate success” in managing the pandemic but said that social distancing would remain in place until at least May 3.  (BBC)   Shops smaller than 800 square metres will be permitted to reopen from next week but must comply with strict hygiene rules.  Der Spiegel reports on how an 11-page tentative exit plan was thrashed out between leaders of the federal government and regional prime ministers using a mix of social distancing and videoconferencing for over four hours.

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Berlin lets mask slip on feelings for Trump’s America                           The crisis has convinced Germans that Trump puts other countries at risk.

BERLIN — Late last week in Bangkok, a shipping container holding thousands of masks destined for the German capital was redirected at the last minute.   As far as Berlin’s city elders are concerned, there wasn’t any doubt about who was to blame:   the “Amis.”   And not just any Amis (German slang for Americans, not to be confused with French ami, or friend), but the commander-in-chief variety.   “The actions of the U.S. president do not just betray a lack of solidarity, they are inhumane and irresponsible,” Berlin Mayor Michael Müller, a Social Democrat, thundered on Twitter.   Andreas Geisel, Berlin’s interior minister, went even further, accusing the U.S. of “confiscating” the masks in Thailand.   If Germans didn’t trust President Donald Trump before the coronavirus outbreak, the crisis has convinced them that his unyielding “America First” instinct puts other countries and their citizens at risk.   That such accusations should emanate from Berlin, a city the U.S. saved from Soviet domination during the Berlin Airlift, underscores the depth of distrust for the American president.

(https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/06/germany-trump-america-170905)

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Larry Elliot in The Guardian on where the buck stops post-pandemic

“One of the problems a party faces when it is in power for a long time is that blaming the opposition for the mess it allegedly left behind no longer cuts it.   The Conservatives have been in power for a decade.   They will eventually be held to account over how prepared the UK was for this crisis . . .   For the right, this is the second major economic crisis in little more than a decade.  It’s the second time the state has needed to come to the rescue of an economic system where the gap between rich and poor has widened, corporations pay as little tax as they can get way with, too little attention is paid to the climate emergency, and a large proportion of the workforce is one paycheck from penury.   For the left, it should be an open goal.”   (The Week, 4/3/2020)

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GERMAN FOREIGN POLICY–Establishment voices in Berlin warn that the EU could disintegrate in the corona crisis and call for economic concessions to Italy and Spain.   Both countries would “never forget in a hundred years, if Europe and we, in particular, would forsake them now,” former foreign ministers Joseph Fischer and Sigmar Gabriel wrote in an appeal published yesterday.   This should not happen because it would endanger the EU.   But “our country” is the Union’s “biggest economic and financial winner.”   Studies show, in fact, that with €86 billion annually, Germany profits more from the EU’s single market than any other EU member.    Since its introduction up until 2017, the single currency has provided Germany nearly €1.9 trillion, whereas it has cost France €3.6 and Italy even €4.3 trillion.   Fischer and Gabriel are pushing for an urgent EU aid program to dampen the rapidly growing EU criticism in Rome and Madrid.   According to a recent opinion poll, 67 percent of Italy’s population thinks that the EU harms their interests.  (German Foreign Policy, 4/6/2020)

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Brazilian minister says Covid-19 part of China ‘plan for world domination’

China is furious after a minister in Brazil suggested Covid-19 is part of a plan in Beijing for “world domination.”

Abraham Weintraub, the far-right government’s education minister, wrote on Twitter:   “Geopolitically, who will come out stronger from this global crisis?    Who in Brazil is allied with this infallible plan for world domination?  (The Week, 4/6/2020)

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COVID WORSENS IN SINGAPORE

As the world shut its doors, Singapore remained open for business. Its measured yet effective approach to containing covid-19, which won praise from the World Health Organization, permitted shops, restaurants and schools to stay open.  No longer.   Confronted with a sudden surge in new cases, almost all of them contracted locally, the government has decided to adopt much more stringent measures to slow the spread of the virus.   On April 7th all but essential businesses closed, with Singaporeans allowed out of their homes only to buy food and medicine, to exercise and get their hair cut.  The “circuit-breaker,” as the government calls it, will remain in place for at least a month.   Those who violate a new law banning public and private gatherings risk a $7,000 fine, a six-month stint in prison or both.   Even Singapore is no longer able to preserve a semblance of normality.  (The Economist, 4/9/2020)

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FOX SLAMMED

Fox News viewers are at particular risk from coronavirus due to their age, yet they have been regularly subjected to misleading recommendations and misinformation downplaying its prevalence, write dozens of journalists led by Prof Todd Gitlin from Columbia Journalism School.

Fox News does not clearly distinguish between the authority that should accrue to trained experts on the one hand, and the authority viewers grant to pundits and politicians for reasons of ideological loyalty.  (The Guardian, 4/10/2020

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TO THE POINT

  • Economic turn-around — Six weeks ago, Trump was boasting, and justifiably so, of having the greatest economy of any president in recent memory.   Now, the possibility exists that he could go into the fall election with the worst economy since Hoover and the Great Depression of 1932.   (Pat Buchanan, 4/10/2020)
  • The Israeli government closed off ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in Jerusalem to stem the spread of covid-19.   Israel has so far reported 11,235 confirmed cases of the disease and 110 deaths.  The ultra-Orthodox Jewish community has become the centre of the country’s outbreak.  Meanwhile, talks to establish a new governing coalition were ended, making another election in the summer likely.
  • “If there was ever a time to close the gap between groups of people across New Zealand in different positions, it is now.” Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister, announces she will take a 20% pay cut for six months.  (The Week, 4/15/2020)
  • Donald Trump has announced that the US has “passed the peak” of new Covid-19 cases, suggesting the nation is successfully flattening the curve of the outbreak.   But there is another plateau that might be playing on his mind: a new comparison of approval ratings for world leaders shows several lines, including Boris Johnson’s, rising – while Trump’s remains relatively flat.   (The Week, 4/16/2020)
  • Plane fares “to double” after coronavirus crisis – Airlines may be forced to increase passenger fares dramatically once foreign travel is allowed again, experts have warned.   With many countries banning international flights to try to stem the spread of coronavirus, airlines have been hit particularly hard by the crisis.   Many of them have cut staff, reduced fares and cancelled many flights altogether.   As a result, analysts fear that in an effort to recoup some of their losses – and to cancel out lower plane capacity caused by social distancing rules – prices could skyrocket once travel restrictions are lifted.    (The Week, 4/14/2020)

MEN MORE LIKELY TO DIE

Medical staff speak with a male patient infected by the COVID-19 coronavirus at Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province on March 10, 2020. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUT (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)

What will be the outcome of the coronavirus?

The virus will pass eventually.   But the economic damage is something that could be with us for many years.   We may never recover.

In the Great Depression of the 1930’s, unemployment reached 25%.   Today, it’s already 10-13% and growing.  We may even reach the highest figure the US ever experienced, the 1896 Depression when 50% of the people were unemployed, at a time when government did not provide unemployment benefits.  That year saw the biggest turnout ever for an election, 80%.  The population was roughly 75 million.  According to Wikipedia:

“Since the onset of the Panic of 1893, the nation had been mired in a deep economic depression, marked by low prices, low profits, high unemployment, and violent strikes.   Economic issues, especially tariff policy and the question of whether the gold standard should be preserved for the money supply, were central issues.”

I do not have to tell you how devastating this would be.

One thing is for sure, it’s unlikely we can go back to the way things were.

The United States Is not specifically mentioned in biblical end time events.   These take place in the Middle East and Europe.   China is also not mentioned, except (maybe) where an army of 200 million men comes from the East.  (Revelation 9:16)

So, for the US to be out of the picture, it must come down as a nation.   An economic collapse could fit this scenario.  In the last twenty years, the US economy has suffered serious impact three times – 9/11, the Great Recession of 2008 and now the coronavirus pandemic.   It’s as if God is warning us.   We recovered from the first two.  It does not follow that we will recover from the third.

The big problem is the borrowing.  The stimulus, as it’s being called.  It was big news a few years ago when our national debt reached one trillion.  Now, we add trillions without a second thought.  With the national debt now running at $23 trillion, an additional two trillion of stimulus money doesn’t sound like much.  But a second, third and maybe even fourth round might be needed, adding as much as 8 trillion to our debt.

There will come a point when the rest of the world will no longer accept dollars as payment for anything.   There will also come a point when we won’t be able to pay the interest on the debt.  Inflation may also be a major problem, with many items already costing more.   Worst case scenario – the dollar may become worthless!

A second concern should be the military.  I was struck earlier this week by reports that the US has two aircraft carriers in the Pacific, and both were incapacitated by an outbreak of the coronavirus amongst their crews.   It reminded me of the events of December 1941.   At that time, Britain was the greatest naval power and still the #1 nation in the world.   But, after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, it went on to sink the British battleship Prince of Wales and the battle cruiser Repulse, on December 10th.   Nobody realized at the time that this was the end of British naval supremacy, after more than 200 years.

This is how quickly and unexpectedly a nation can fall from preeminence.

EUROPEAN UPHEAVAL

The second development that may come from the coronavirus is significant upheaval in Europe, the second major area of biblical prophecy, after Jerusalem.

Already battered by the refugee problem, Brexit and the rise of populism, Europe has been unable to make a difference with the virus now sweeping the continent.  There is increasing talk of Europe breaking up, with arguments over money being a major cause.

For Europe to make the biblical changes foretold, the EU is most likely to fall apart, leaving some nations to rally around Germany, the continent’s dominant power.

Revelation 17:12-14:   “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast.  These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.   These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.”

These ten will be led by Germany, the modern descendant of Assyria (Isaiah 10:5-8).

MR     

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Men are proving much more susceptible to the coronavirus than women, dividing opinion as to whether it is linked to behavioral factors such as smoking and drinking – or biology.

While it has been widely reported that the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions are most at risk from Covid-19, emerging data from around the world has revealed that the virus also discriminates by sex.

First seen in China, where one analysis found a fatality rate of 2.8% in men compared with 1.7% in women, a similar pattern has emerged in France, Germany, Iran and South Korea.   (The Week, 3/27/2020)

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CORONAVIRUS ENDS ISRAELI DEADLOCK

In the end, it took the coronavirus to break the year-long deadlock in Israeli politics.   Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu will still face corruption charges, but he has yet another new lease on political life, as he and political rival Benny Gantz cut a deal yesterday:   Bibi will continue as prime minister, with Gantz serving as either defense or foreign minister, until September 2021 at which time Gantz will take over as prime minister.

It’s a full about-face for Gantz, who had previously vowed never to serve under a prime minister facing formal corruption charges.  But Gantz’s inability to form a coalition government of his own, and the need for an “emergency unity government” in the face of the coronavirus crisis, forced his change of heart.

“These are not normal times and they call for unusual decisions,” Gantz explained, much to the anger and dismay of some of his political allies.  The virus outbreak has also delayed the opening of Netanyahu’s trial until May 24.   (Gzero, 3/27/2020)

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ANTI-CHINESE AID

The German government and the EU Commission are taking up positions against Chinese aid, in the combat against the Covid-19 pandemic.   In view of the fact that Italy, for example, is receiving systematic support from Beijing, after the EU’s refusal of aid, “controversial debates on how to deal with China” are pending, according to the German Defense Ministry.   EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Josep Borrell detects a “global battle of narratives.” Beijing is waging a “struggle for influence” with “politics of generosity,” which the EU must counteract.   Since China succeeded in containing Covid-19, it has come to the aid of a growing number of countries around the world.   Western powers, which have traditionally been using their assistance for consolidating their global influence, are unable to control the virus and some are requiring assistance themselves.   For the aftermath of the pandemic, experts are predicting “a changed world order” with the East Asian countries as the “new global health powers.”  (German Foreign Policy, 3/29/2020)

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NEW YORKERS FLEE CITY

Many New Yorkers are fleeing the city as it becomes the global centre of the pandemic, but upstate locals have not been entirely welcoming, writes Adam Gabbatt.   The spread of the virus at the city’s Riker’s Island jail complex is a “public health disaster,” the jail’s top doctor has said.   The New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, warned on Wednesday that his state and the US would never “get back to normal” after the crisis, but instead “get to a new normal.”

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California’s Curve

The Golden State was quick to lockdown and appears to have flattened its Covid-19 curve.   But it still lags behind in testing.  (The Guardian, 4/2/2020)

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OFFER OF IRANIAN HELP FOR US

On March 31, 2020, the Iranian news outlet Khabar Online tweeted a video featuring a reporter wearing a face mask standing in front of a shipping truck.   The reporter said:   “This is the aid shipment that the Iranian nation is sending to the oppressed American nation… The Jihadi students will be giving this shipment to the party that is responsible for America’s interests in Iran, which is the Swiss Embassy.”  A sign on the truck read: “Humanitarian Health Aid Produced by Iranian Students to Americans.”    The same source later tweeted that the Swiss embassy refused to accept the shipment.  (MEMRI 4/2/2020)

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SANCTIONS HURT EFFORT TO STOP VIRUS

US sanctions on Iran, to which German enterprises are obliged to conform, are in fact seriously hampering the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, according to UN General Secretary António Guterres, who is campaigning for an immediate suspension of the sanctions. The boycott measures had already caused serious damage to Iran’s health system prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, depriving, for example, cancer patients of desperately needed medicine.   Now they are blocking deliveries of Covid-19 test kits that are inexpensively produced in Germany.   Iran is one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic.   The numbers given in yesterday’s official statistics – around 27,000 infected, a little more than 2,000 deaths – are considered far too low.   Iranian experts fear an increase in deaths into the 6 or 7-digits.   Washington, with absolutely no intention of at least suspending the sanctions to enable the fight against the pandemic, imposed even new punitive measures a few days ago.   Berlin remains inactive and silent.     (German Foreign Policy, 3/27/2020)

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TO THE POINT

  • The price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil dipped below $20 a barrel, nearly its lowest point in 18 years.  Demand has slumped amid the coronavirus outbreak and a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia.   Brent crude, the international benchmark, also fell below $23 a barrel.
  • Kim Kielsen, the prime minister of Greenland, announced a prohibition on the sale of alcohol in Nuuk, the capital of the autonomous Danish territory.   The move was motivated by an attempt to reduce violence against children in their homes now that schools are closed because of covid-19.   Nearly a third of people living in Greenland suffered sexual abuse as a child  (The Economist, 3/30/2020)
  • America’s death toll from the coronavirus pandemic rose past 3,000, with a record 540 new cases recorded on Monday.  At that rate it will overtake China’s official count at some point today. The USNS Comfort, an oil tanker converted into a floating hospital, drew cheers from New Yorkers as it docked in midtown Manhattan.   Field hospitals are springing up elsewhere in the city, to cope with the surfeit of covid-19 patients.  (The Economist, 3/31/2020)
  • In his memoirs, Jean Monnet, one of the founding fathers of the European Union, wrote:   “Europe will be forged in crises, and will be the sum of the solutions adopted for those crises.”   With crisis currently gripping the continent, those multilateral solutions are proving hard to come by.   (Joe Evans, Deputy News Editor, The Week, @TheWeekUK)

Encouraging words for a time like this:  “Be strong.  Take courage. Don’t be intimidated.  Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you.   He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.”  (Deuteronomy 31:6)

 

THE DEATH OF FREEDOM

A person does a cartwheel in Oxford Circus during rush hour as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, London, Britain, March 23, 2020. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

We have less freedom today than we have had in over 400 years.   And we’ve all consented to this loss of freedom.

Freedom of assembly and the freedom to worship have both suffered.  Even the freedom to go out for a meal or a drink.    Nor can we shake a friend’s hand or give a hug.   Again, with our consent.

As one British paper put it:  “It is no exaggeration to say these are the most extreme powers ever used against citizens in peace time Britain.”

It’s understandable.  We want to live.  We want to survive the coronavirus.

But will we ever get these freedoms back?

Most importantly, what will be the next crisis that makes us so quick to jettison our freedoms?

MR       

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“A heart attack is occurring in the economy”  (Sky News comment, 3/20)

This was a comment about the British economy, but it describes every country right now.   So, let’s take a look at some of the economic consequences of coronavirus.

Argentina’s new government will today publish GDP figures for last year, with economists warning that the covid-19 pandemic could be about to send the country into a deep recession.   GDP is forecast to have contracted by 2.1% in 2019.   But what matters now is the dire situation to come.   One former central banker predicts that the country’s economy could shrink by up to 4% in 2020.   Though weighed down by high inflation and heavy debt, President Alberto Fernández’s government is implementing fiscal stimulus measures worth billions of dollars.   Its treasury minister, Martín Guzmán,  warns that the covid-19 crisis means that it is now impossible to say when, and how, Argentina can return to growth.   That was Mr. Fernández’s primary goal when he took office just four months ago, an aim that looks harder by the day as infections mount in the country.     (The Economist, 3/25/2020)

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For years Germany has run the tightest of fiscal ships, frustrating many in the euro zone and beyond.   Then came covid-19.   Today the Bundestag will approve a €156bn ($168bn) supplementary budget for 2020, under which Germany will issue new debt for the first time since 2013.   The borrowing breaks Germany’s “black zero” balanced-budget policy and exploits an emergency rule in the constitutional “debt brake.”   Yet it is just one part of Germany’s response.   The government has expanded Kurzarbeit support (in which the state partly covers the lost wages of workers who have their hours cut), extended various loan guarantees and even earmarked funds for direct investment in companies.   The package amounts to a potential €750bn, and more may follow.   The scale of the response has surprised observers—but at European level less is happening.   Germany, and the euro area’s other hawks, remain implacably opposed to debt mutualization.   (The Economist, 3/25/2020)

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Today’s meeting of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee should have been the first with Andrew Bailey in the chair.   But the new governor found himself presiding over an emergency meeting last week, amid what he described as “borderline disorderly” market conditions.   In common with other central banks, the Bank of England is aggressively easing monetary policy to react to a rapid economic slowdown due to the spread of covid-19.   Despite interest-rate cuts, £200bn ($232bn) more quantitative easing (amounting to some 10% of GDP) and more direct support for private-sector lending, the bank is more worried about undershooting its inflation target than overshooting it. Today’s consumer-price statistics show inflation running at 1.7%, below the 2% target.   More monetary easing is likely, but with interest rates already at 0.1%, an all-time low, fiscal policy will have to do most of the heavy lifting.  (The Economist, 3/25/2020)

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Coronavirus lockdown measures implemented in the UK may trigger an economic downturn that could kill more people than the virus itself, a new study warns.

Philip Thomas, a professor of risk management at Bristol University, says that a fall in GDP of more than 6.4% could lead to a devastating recession in which “more years of life will be lost . . . than will be saved through beating the virus,” reports The Times.  (The Week, 3/25/2020)

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The worst outbreak of Coronavirus in the Middle East, so far, is in Iran.  Thousands have died and tens of thousands have been exposed to the virus.   An overlooked developing crisis parallel to Iran’s is the situation of the country’s neighbors across the Persian Gulf.

Beyond the civilian element affecting Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE; tens of thousands of American military personnel are also stationed in these countries.   Once facing the Iranian threat and ISIS, they are now involved in combating the invisible enemy:   Covid-19.      (Greg Roman, MEF, 3/20)

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This is an emergency, track everyone:   If there were ever a time to set concerns about privacy aside, this is it.   Giving public health authorities access to everyone’s location data gives them a better chance of tracking down people who have been in contact with confirmed cases – and helps ensure that those who are already sick stay in quarantine.   Right now, governments need all the help they can get.   Give them the data.   Debates about the privacy implications can wait.

China is in this camp. So are other countries in Asia, like South Korea and Taiwan, that have had better success containing the epidemic – although it’s still too early to say whether access to mobile phone location data was the deciding factor.   (Gzero, 3/25/2020)

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A SURPRISING LETTER FROM HOLLYWOOD

Dear Mr. President, @realDonaldTrump

I wanted to thank you for ur recent decorum, sincerity, & care towards us.   You’re taking charge & leading in a manner needed & wanted for this country.   I highly commend you for ur boundless energy & willingness to solve problems.   Thank you!

— Kirstie Alley (@kirstiealley) March 24, 2020

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TO THE POINT

  • LAGOS — A jihadist group ambushed and killed around 70 Nigerian government troops in Borno state, in the north-east of the country.   The guerrillas used rocket-propelled grenades to attack a vehicle full of soldiers; they also took several captive.  The group they belong to split off from Nigeria’s homegrown Boko Haram in 2016, and now considers itself an Islamic State affiliate. (The Economist, 3/25/2020)
  • BERLIN – A court in eastern Germany convicted eight far-right extremists who were accused of planning to violently overthrow the state.   The regional court in Dresden on Tuesday convicted one of the men on a charge of forming a “terrorist organization” and the other seven of being members of the group, called Revolution Chemnitz.   Five of the man were also found guilty of a serious breach, while one was convicted of bodily harm.  The court sentenced the defendants to prison terms that ranged from 27 months to 5 ½ years.  (Lansing State Journal, 3/25/2020)
  • UNITED NATIONS — UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged leaders of the world’s 20 major industrialized nations on Tuesday to adopt a “wartime” plan including a stimulus package “in the trillions of dollars” for businesses, workers and households in developing countries trying to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.   He said in a letter to the Group of 20 leaders that they account for 85% of the world’s gross domestic product and have “a direct interest and critical role to play in helping developing countries cope with the crisis.”  (Lansing State Journal, 3/25/2020)
  • LONDON – Prince Charles has coronavirus.  Prince Charles, 71, is displaying mild symptoms “but otherwise remains in good health,” a spokesman said, adding that the Duchess of Cornwall, 72, has been tested but does not have the virus.   Charles and Camilla are now self-isolating at Balmoral.   Buckingham Palace said the Queen last saw her son, the heir to the throne, on 12 March, but was “in good health.”   The palace added that the Duke of Edinburgh was not present at that meeting, and that the Queen was now “following all the appropriate advice with regard to her welfare.”
    A Clarence House statement read:   “In accordance with government and medical advice, the prince and the duchess are now self-isolating at home in Scotland.  “The tests were carried out by the NHS in Aberdeenshire, where they met the criteria required for testing.  “It is not possible to ascertain from whom the prince caught the virus owing to the high number of engagements he carried out in his public role during recent weeks.”
  • Germany is the only country in Europe to have currently rejected China’s offer of support in combating the Covid-19 pandemic. According to China’s President Xi Jinping, he informed Chancellor Angela Merkel that the People’s Republic of China “is willing to provide help within our capabilities,” if Germany “is in need.”   Over the past few days, Beijing has sent aid supplies and – in some cases – teams of doctors to provide practical on-site assistance to several European countries including Italy, Spain and France.   Berlin has ignored the offer of support, even though there is, for example, a glaring shortage of respiratory protection masks in Germany.   More than 80 percent of Germany’s registered doctors are complaining that they cannot procure sufficient protective clothing.   Serious accusations for failing to take preventive measures are being raised against the German government, which has been emphasizing that it is “well prepared.”   Leading German media are denouncing China’s aid as a “propaganda campaign” and accuse the country of being “the cause of the pandemic.”  The only thing missing is the use of Trump’s label of a “Chinese virus.” (German Foreign Policy, 3/24/2020)
  • A growing number of businesses and individuals worldwide have stopped using banknotes in fear that physical currency, handled by tens of thousands of people over their useful life, could be a vector for the spreading coronavirus.   Public officials and health experts have said that the risk of transferring the virus person-to-person through the use of banknotes is small.   But that has not stopped businesses in the US from refusing to accept currency and some countries from urging their citizens to stop using banknotes altogether.   (Times of Israel, 3/20/2020)

 

Corona Crisis

An almost empty Piazza del Duomo on Tuesday in Milan, Italy.  The Italian government imposed restrictions on movement across the entire country as cases of the virus soared.  (Credit:  Alessandro Grassani for The New York Times)

A cartoon in last week’s Spectator (British) showed a couple in front of their TV set listening to endless news on the coronavirus.   The husband turned to his wife and said, “I sure miss Brexit.”   British readers will remember that the news was dominated by Brexit for 3 ½ years!

When we first got a television set in the late 1950’s, TV news lasted ten minutes in the evening.   That’s all.  If the coronavirus had been around then, we would have avoided all the panic and negativity that surrounds it now.   With an uncountable number of 24/7 news channels, we are daily saturated with news of the virus.  It’s overwhelming us and affecting people mentally as well as physically.

There is no toilet paper available anywhere in the Lansing area (at least I haven’t found any).   No drinking water, either.   For some inexplicable reason, stores have also run out of vegetarian beans.  Entire rows of shelving are empty.  From Monday afternoon at 3pm, all restaurants and bars in Michigan will have to close.   They will only be allowed to sell take-out food.  Schools closed from Monday for at least three weeks.  We are all encouraged to stay home.  In England, if one person in the family gets sick, then everybody should self-isolate for 14 days to allow the virus to run its course.

It’s affecting international relations, with flights between Europe and America suspended for a month.

The virus is changing the world.   The gradual advancement of globalization over the last 75 years is under severe strain, with nations increasingly looking after themselves.   Some European countries have closed their borders to their neighbors and are not following the lead of the EU in their national affairs.  It’s a case of every country for itself.

Will we ever return to normalcy?

MR 

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Covid-19 virus has “swept away” the last remaining “illusions” about the EU      German-Foreign-Policy, 18 March, 2020

Newsletter – EU Solidarity (II) – Experts expect the Corona crisis to have a serious impact on the EU and speculate a possible disintegration of the Union.   According to an expert in the USA, the heavy human toll that the pandemic will exact and the feeling “that the European institutions are not helping,” could give rise to centrifugal tendencies, particularly in those countries hardest hit, such as Italy and Spain, which are also the countries deeply indebted.   Tensions between Germany, on the one hand, and France and Italy on the other, have been already increasing since Berlin unilaterally closed Germany’s borders, thereby annulling the Schengen Agreements.   Whereas the Élysée Palace has angrily complained about “the unilateral measures at the borders,” the pro-EU Italian daily La Repubblica, notes that Berlin, rather than a detailed coordination “with the partners,” in one of the worst crises the Union has faced, it pursues “a national logic.”  Therefore, the Covid-19 virus has “swept away” the last remaining “illusions” about the EU.   (https://www.german-foreign-policy.com/en/news/detail/8222/)

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“Stay home” is not a sufficient plan
by James Hamlin, March 11, 2020, The Atlantic  

This coronavirus is unknown to our species.   Once it breaks into one of our cells, the extent of its spread through the body seems to vary significantly.   The experience can slowly progress from the familiar— cough, congestion, fever — to a life-threatening inflammatory response as the virus spreads down into the lungs, filling the airways with fluid.   Survivors can have permanent scarring in the lungs.   The virus can also spread into other organs, causing liver damage or gastrointestinal disease.   These effects can play out over longer periods than in the flu, sometimes waxing and waning.   Some patients have begun to feel better, then fallen critically ill.   The disease can be fatal despite receiving optimal medical care.

(https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/03/where-do-you-go-if-you-get-coronavirus/607759/)

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In retrospect, was it wise to have relied on China to produce essential parts for the supply chains of goods vital to our national security?   Does it appear wise to have moved the production of pharmaceuticals and lifesaving drugs for heart disease, strokes and diabetes to China?   Does it appear wise to have allowed China to develop a virtual monopoly on rare earth minerals crucial to the development of weapons for our defense?    (Pat Buchanan, 3/13/2020)

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In the corona crisis, the German government has initiated measures aiding the German economy, but refuses urgently recommended measures by the WHO for protecting the population.  Berlin is doing “everything” to prevent the coronavirus COVID-19 from “affecting the economy throughout Germany,” German Minster of the Economy, Peter Altmaier, was quoted saying early this month.  The measures are reinforcing positions of German businesses vis à vis their global rivals.  The following steps will be discussed tomorrow, Friday.  At the same time, the government is opposing the closure of schools and kindergartens, as WHO and leading experts are recommending, because children transmit the virus for a longer period than adults, according to initial studies.  Germany’s Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, on the other hand, declared that closing schools should be avoided, so that parents are still available as workers for the enterprises.  This, however, would eliminate any possibility of containment of the virus, as several Asian countries have been able to do.   According to Chancellor Angela Merkel, “60 to 70 percent” of the population could be infected – throughout Germany.     (German Foreign Policy, 3/12/2020)

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New Zealand’s PM has said nearly everyone entering the country from midnight on Sunday must self-isolate to contain the spread of the coronavirus.  Jacinda Ardern said the new measure also included returning New Zealanders.  The only exemption is for small Pacific islands with no confirmed virus cases.  “I make no apologies.  This is an unprecedented time,” Ms. Ardern said, describing the new rules as the strictest in the world.   New Zealand has six confirmed cases.   (BBC, 3/14/2020)

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FINANCIAL PROBLEMS STARTED A LONG TIME AGO

A decade of aggressive risk-taking, nurtured in part by central banks, has ended in traumatic fashion.   This week marked the biggest one-day falls for Wall Street and UK equities since the great crash of 1987 while European bourses recorded all-time daily slumps.   In the space of just a few weeks, record equity peaks and elevated credit valuations have succumbed to a long-feared moment of reckoning.   Government bond markets had been warning for a while that 2020 was going to be make-or-break for global economic growth.   Meanwhile, the leaderboard in stock markets had been dominated by defensive, high-quality companies — another signal that cast doubt on the widely held view that corporate earnings would rebound strongly this year.   But such signs were mostly ignored.   Money poured into corporate bonds, emerging markets and already crowded equity sectors such as US technology shares, pushing valuations toward extreme levels.   Until last month, that is. When questioned about the risk-versus-reward dynamic of buying assets at these prices in recent months, the response from professional investors pretty much boiled down to a need to “put money to work”, accompanied by a wink suggesting that central banks had their backs.   This week’s rout in markets is of giant proportions, triggered by an oil price war on top of an escalating health crisis across Europe and North America.   An abrupt US travel ban on Europeans for 30 days triggered Thursday’s sharp sell-off across markets.   The adverse sentiment also acknowledged the limited monetary ammunition central banks have, leaving investors wondering whether the fiscal response in Europe and the US can offset the economic damage currently being wrought.  (This market was in trouble long before the virus hit.   (Michael MacKenzie, Financial Times, 3/14/2020)

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Cyril Ramaphosa lists countries on South Africa’s travel ban

“We will limit contact between persons who may be infected.  We’re imposing a travel  ban on foreign nationals from Italy, Iran, South Korea, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and China. We have cancelled visas from those countries.  We advise against all travel to the EU, the United States, China, Iran, the UK and South Korea – this is effective immediately.

“Any foreign national who has visited these countries in the past 20 days, will be denied a visa.   Anyone returning to South Africa from these high-risk countries will be quarantined for 14 days.  All travelers who entered SA from these nations since mid-February, are asked to get themselves tested.”    (15 March, 2020)

(MORE:  https://www.thesouthafrican.com/news/world-news/ramaphosa-coronavirus-updates-south-africa-travel-ban-which-)

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Netanyahu’s trial delayed by over 2 months as court activity limited over virus
As country slows down with introduction of fresh far-reaching rules in attempt to stop pandemic, May 24 date announced just two days before scheduled hearing

The opening of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trial in three corruption cases has been pushed off by more than two months due to new restrictions on Israel’s courts as part of the new measures to combat the coronavirus, the Jerusalem District Court announced Sunday morning.   The move comes just two days before the scheduled March 17 hearing, which according to the Courts Administration of Israel has now been postponed until May 24.  “In light of developments regarding the spread of the coronavirus, and taking into account the latest guidelines given and the declaration of a state of emergency in the courts, we have decided to cancel the scheduled hearing,” the three judges presiding over the case wrote in their announcement.   On Saturday night, Justice Minister Amir Ohana declared a 24-hour “state of emergency” in Israel’s court system, “as part of the national effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.”

(https://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahus-trial-delayed-by-over-2-months-as-court-activity-limited-over-virus/)

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Zimbabwe Govt Minister blames USA+EU for coronavirus:  President corrects
The Herald, Zimbabwe, 16 March 2020

[Zimbabwe] – Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri . . . at the weekend insinuated that COVID-19 was God’s response to countries that imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe.  Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri was speaking at a Zimbabwe National Liberation War Collaborators Association meeting in Chinhoyi on Saturday.   She said in Shona:   “This coronavirus that has come are sanctions against the countries that have imposed sanctions on us.  God is now punishing them  and they are staying indoors now, while their economy is screaming like what they did to ours by imposing sanctions on us.  “Trump should know that he is not God.  They must face the consequences of coronavirus, so that they also feel the pain.”  . . . President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe stands by the international community in fighting the Covid-19, and that it was time to look after each other, especially the weak and vulnerable.

(https://www.herald.co.zw/dont-blame-anyone-for-coronavirus-president/)

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AN ALTERNATIVE THOUGHT

DAILYKENN.com – God is punishing the USA and other Western nations for its sanctions on Zimbabwe, the African nation’s defense minister said.

Oppah Muchinguri said the coronavirus is God’s punishment for “sanctions against the countries that have imposed sanctions on us,” according to reports.

Zimbabwe has suffered a decades-long downward spiral after ousting the Rhodesian government.   White settlers rescued the region from a millennia of indescribable misery, replacing it with a wonderland of amazing technological advancement.  Those advancements included modern health care that has saved the lives of countless millions of black Africans.

Could it be that God has blessed Western nations for colonizing African regions and introducing them to advanced technologies?   (dailykenn, 3/17/2020)

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Now it’s time to lose the two most famous phrases of the moment.
One is “Don’t panic!”   The other is “an abundance of caution.”

“Don’t panic” is what nervous, defensive people say when someone warns of coming trouble.   They don’t want to hear it, so their message is “Don’t worry like a coward, be blithely unconcerned like a brave person.”   One way or another we’ve heard it a lot from administration people.

This is how I’ve experienced it:   “Captain, that appears to be an iceberg.”   “Don’t panic, officer, full steam ahead.”

“Admiral, concentrating our entire fleet in one port seems tempting fate.” “We don’t need your alarmist fantasies, ensign.”

“We’re picking up increased chatter about an al Qaeda action.” “Your hand-wringing is duly noted.”

“Don’t panic,” in the current atmosphere, is a way of shutting up people who are using their imaginations as a protective tool.   It’s an implication of cowardice by cowards.  As for “abundance of caution,” at this point, in a world-wide crisis, the cautions we must take aren’t abundant, they’re reasonable and realistic.
(Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal opinion (extract), March 12, 2020)

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Spain welcomes post-Brexit chance for Gibraltar talks with UK
Madrid interested in pragmatic accords with territory, says foreign minister

Spain’s foreign minister has welcomed post-Brexit talks with the UK as an “incredible opportunity” for the countries to address the status of Gibraltar after centuries of dispute.   Arancha González reacted warmly to calls by Gibraltar’s government for a free-movement area with Spain and suggested that traditional concepts of sovereignty were less important than a series of recent accords on issues such as tax and fighting contraband.

Spain has sought to regain sovereignty over Gibraltar since Britain took control of the Mediterranean territory through the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht.   Madrid has at times instigated delays at its border with Gibraltar, hitting the territory’s economy.

However, Ms, González, who took office last month after a career focusing on international trade, argued that Spain needed to focus on “21st century sovereignty” and practical issues that would strengthen ties with the territory.   “We have an incredible opportunity to fix a number of things that we have not been able to fix in the last 300 years,” she told the Financial Times. “At the end of the day, whatever agreement we find . . . will have to work for them [for Gibraltar] and it will have to work for us; that’s the only red line in reality.”  . . . She added:   “The Gibraltar population needs the Spaniards to function and the Spaniards need the Gibraltarians in order to enhance their prosperity . . .  What matters in the 21st century is managing interdependence.”   Fabian Picardo, Gibraltar’s chief minister, has called for a special deal in which Gibraltar would become part of Europe’s Schengen free-movement area, adding that under such an arrangement, the number of Spaniards working in the territory could increase dramatically.   (Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2020.   All rights reserved)

(https://www.ft.com/content/11b4dfdc-4da8-11ea-95a0-43d18ec715f5)

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Bombshell letters expose Belgian trawlers fishing off Britain’s Brighton Pier                                                                                                            BREXIT means the UK can finally take back control of its fishing waters, but there are fears that foreign vessels may continue to use them illegally – and documents unearthed by Express.co.uk have revealed a row over claims Belgian trawlers were spotted fishing off Brighton Pier in the Seventies.

Under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which came into effect in 1983, EU countries have full access to each other’s fishing waters. National quotas were divided up using historical data, which many British fishermen feel the UK got a raw deal out of.   Currently, around 68 percent of the fish caught in UK waters are caught by foreign vessels.   Outside the EU, the UK would be entitled to its own Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which stretches up to 200 miles away from its shores or up to the median point between it and its neighbor (e.g. halfway across the Irish Sea or English Channel). However, before the CFP, boats from other European countries used to flout the UK’s fishing limits.   For example, the UK had general fishing limits of 12 miles, but France and Belgium were entitled to fish in the 6-12 miles – and, even then, Belgian vessels were accused of fishing even closer to Britain’s shoreline.   According to documents unearthed by Express.co.uk in the National Archives, there were accusations of persistent breaches of the six mile limit by Belgian trawlers off Brighton and the Sussex coast in the early Seventies.

(https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1253526/brexit-fishing-eu-news-belgium-trawler-common-fisheries-policy-brighton-)

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Germany plans to send a warship to the Indian Ocean                        The German Navy plans to send its frigate Hamburg to the Indian Ocean in June to conduct port visits and partake in a regional, naval powwow on the French island of Réunion, the service announced March 12  Cologne, Germany, Defense News, 12 March 2020

The planned Hamburg deployment comes as Germany’s defense leaders test the waters for new engagements far from home.   The sea service especially is seen by some as a potential harbinger for the type of out-of-area missions that the homeland defense-focused German military wants to expand to underwrite its geopolitical ambitions.   “German Navy Chief Vice Adm. Andreas Krause has for years argued that Germany needs a presence in the Indian Ocean.” . . . Bruns said the Navy has been operating in the Indian Ocean’s environs for some time, with mine clearing in the Arabian Gulf, counterterrorism missions under the banner of Operation Enduring Freedom and the European Union’s counter-piracy operation, Atalanta, off the coast of Somalia.   “The Indian Ocean is a vibrant and strategically important maritime theater,” he said.   “German sea lines of communication run through the area, and the great powers are wrestling for influence.”

Krause . . . outlined the country’s maritime spheres of interest in a Defense News op-ed last December.   “They range from the northern flank, i.e., the north Atlantic, the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, down to the Mediterranean, and extend into the wider Indian Ocean region.”

(https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2020/03/12/germany-plans-to-send-a-warship-to-the-indian-ocean/)

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The political rise of southern Africa’s machete gangs
Zimbabwe News, 16 March 2020

A dangerous cocktail of unemployment, social exclusion, poverty, corruption and gold smuggling has led to the rise of violent machete gangs, which are offering their services to local power brokers and criminal gangs fighting for power in both Mozambique and Zimbabwe.   International media reports have shown that Islamist militants have carried out a number of brutal attacks and killings in Mozambique that have left hundreds dead and displaced more than 65,000 people, according to estimates by humanitarian agencies including Human Rights Watch.   A wave of violence perpetrated by a criminal gang in Cabo Delgado, 2,000 kilometres north of Maputo, in the far north of Mozambique near the border with Tanzania, came to public attention after shocking armed attacks on police stations in October 2017.   The group deploys thugs to attack and decapitate people, apparently indiscriminately, with machetes and firearms, and burn down houses and villages as part of its campaign of terror aimed at forcing the Mozambican state to adopt extreme Islamist practices.   A study found the group wants the full adoption of Sharia law, along with an Islamic education system.   Its membership is drawn from among unemployed and marginalized youth, particularly speakers of the Kimwani language, the study said.

The gangs, operating under code names “MaShurugwi” or “Mabhemba,” have been linked to senior officials, right up to the top of the government.   This may explain their boldness — they appear to operate with impunity; few arrests are ever made; they have even, on several occasions, invaded hospitals to finish off their victims; and are not averse to raiding police stations to free fellow gang members.
(http://www.thezimbabwenewslive.com/the-political-rise-of-southern-africas-machete-gangs/)

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Coronavirus:   Hundreds gather to pray at Wailing Wall        Posted: 17 Mar 2020 03:16 AM PDT

DAILYKENN.com — Thousands were expected to show up at the Wailing Wall to pray for an end to the coronavirus pandemic. Hundreds showed up.

Worshipers recited prayers and Psalms, sang and even danced in a circle, asking God to help in the finding of a cure for the disease, in a ceremony promoted by Chief Rabbi of Safed and president of the Rabbinical Community Association Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu in partnership with the Israeli branch of the US Orthodox Union.

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TO THE POINT

  • A newspaper in Darwin, Australia, included a few blank pages last Saturday.   It was their way of helping readers get through the shortage of toilet paper!   I well remember my mother talking about the Depression and how her family had to use newspaper, at a time when the print often came off onto your skin.  It led to some humorous comments.   Toilet paper was not invented until 1857.  Now we can’t imagine life without it.
  • Beijing has, according to President Trump’s trade advisor Peter Navarro, already nationalized one American factory making medical masks.   Moreover, Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo on air repeatedly said the Chinese forced at least one ship carrying masks, gloves, and other protective gear to the United States to return to China.   (Gordon C. Chang, Gatestone, 3/17/2020)
  • Dailykenn.com – If you don’t like diversity, get out of the country. That is the message of Tunahan Kuzu, the leader of a Muslim political party in The Netherlands, to native Dutch.   DENK is a relatively new political party, having been formed in 2015.  It is largely comprised of Turkish Muslims.  (3/11/2020)
  • Good sleep hygiene is the new wellness goal.  Try telling that to an eight-month-old baby.   (Hadley Freeman, the Guardian, 3/14/2020)
  • The call for a National Day of Prayer on Sunday should have included a call to repentance.   The US continues to kill 1.3 million babies a year, is the world’s leading producer of pornography and peoples’ morals are sadly lacking.   We need to change a great deal before we can expect God to listen to us.
  • One of the first casualties of the coronavirus is “Playboy” magazine which is to cease publication with the Spring issue.

A GROWING SENSE OF CRISIS

(MGN Image)

There’s a growing sense of crisis all over the world.

The immediate cause is the coronavirus, which gets worse every day.   Worse, by the numbers.   Daily, there are more deaths, more people have it and the virus is spreading, covering a wider area.

Conspiracy theories abound.   In the US, some people are saying that the virus is being spread to undermine Trump and give the Democrats victory in November.   How does that explain it’s a bigger problem in Italy, in the UK, China and elsewhere, countries with no election this year, or any other year, in the case of China.

Nations are reacting to what promises to be a major game changer in the global economy.   Tourism has ground to a halt, flights are empty, delivery of goods suffering major delays, employees are dying, and there’s no end in sight.

In the UK, Rishi Sunak, Britain’s new Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister) delivered a very professional budget speech that was over an hour long.  He’s the first Indian to be appointed to the second highest political office in the land, the first Hindu (sworn into office with a Hindu holy book) and at only 39, one of the youngest chancellors in history.  His budget was the first one since Britain left the EU, the first in almost 50 years that Britain has been totally independent.  The budget was scheduled weeks ago, before the virus, but it gave the government the opportunity to tackle it from the financial perspective.  It’s going to cost billions of pounds (dollars or euros), increasing deficits and threatening the international exchange rate of currencies.  The stimulus package promised this morning  in Britain is thirty billion  pounds ($39 billion).

It’s unpredictable – but it’s very real.  It will affect President Trump’s chance of reelection, but it’s not a deliberate attempt to thwart his success.   The medical crisis will inevitably affect the economy, which may affect the election, though its doubtful anybody else could manage the crisis better.   In the UK it is estimated that, at the peak of the crisis, one fifth of all workers will have to stay home.

The virus started in Wuhan, China.   We may never know exactly what caused it, but pigs, bats and pangolins seem the most likely candidates.  But there is also a government laboratory in Wuhan.  The suspicion is also that it might have been a biological warfare experiment gone wrong.

MR       

Putin forever  — Russian president Vladimir Putin is backing sweeping constitutional changes that would allow him to stay at the helm of the country until 2036.  (Financial Times)   If approved, the reforms would give Putin the option to serve another two terms and cement an unbroken run of 24 years as president and 36 years in power.   A “people’s vote” referendum is due next month.   The New York Times notes that 36 years is longer “than Stalin but still short of Peter the Great, who reigned for 43 years.”   (Financial Times Brussels Briefing, 3/10/2020)

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WHY GAS IS CHEAP

For three years, Russia and Saudi Arabia, the world’s two largest oil exporters, had a deal to prop up global crude prices by limiting production.   They calculated that by producing fewer barrels, rising prices would make each barrel worth more.

Over the weekend, that deal collapsed when Russia backed out, allegedly because it decided that higher prices were also providing an unexpectedly large boost for the US oil industry, which has expanded its market share by increasing production by nearly 50 percent since the Russia-Saudi (formally, Russia-OPEC) deal began in late 2016.   A lot of that increase has come from US shale oil.

Saudi Arabia, eager to show Russia that its market power is not to be ignored, slashed the price at which it sells its own oil, and moved to sharply boost production.   The expected flood of new Saudi supply dropped global oil prices by more than 30 percent on Monday, the biggest overnight drop in almost three decades.   Stock markets, already wobbly thanks to coronavirus, took a dive.

Now Moscow and Riyadh appear locked in a price war – a crude game of chicken that could last for weeks or even months.   Oil markets are reeling because this conflict comes just as the coronavirus clobbers demand for oil as factories close, and as international shipping and air travel slow dramatically.   More supply + less demand = price collapse.     (Signal, the Gzero Newsletter, 3/10/2020)

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The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries publishes its latest oil report today, amid turmoil.   OPEC and its allies met on March 5th and 6th to discuss production cuts to boost the oil price. Russia refused a deal, stunning the market.   Saudi Arabia then said it would ramp up production next month and lower its selling price.  On March 9th the price of Brent crude fell by 24%, its biggest one-day drop since 1991.   There is a chance that Russia and Saudi Arabia will compromise, but most analysts think the price war is more likely to continue, as they battle for market share and try to squeeze the shale companies that have made America the world’s biggest oil producer.   Saudi Arabia’s low production costs mean it can fight fiercely, but not without suffering.   The kingdom requires oil to top $80 a barrel to balance its budget.   This year’s average may be less than half that.  (The Economist, 3/10/2020)

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FRANCE SET TO BECOME MUSLIM

Domestically, the past fifty years of steady immigration from Islamic countries into France is “transforming the fabric of French society” from within.   Demographic and sociological surveys indicate that 10-15% of the French population is now of Muslim origin, including 20-30% of French citizens or residents under the age of 25.   Some integrate successfully, but many align with the most radical and militant expression of the religion.   Their rejection of France’s secular constitution is matched by resentment of the French military’s fight against global jihadism in Africa and the Middle East, seen as a “deliberate assault … on Islam.”

Whereas religious zeal is steadily increasing among French Muslims, Gurfinkiel said that “the classic national religion of France, Catholicism,” is declining, citing research found in The French Archipelago (L’archipel français) by French pollster, demographer and sociologist Jérôme Fourquet.   Traditional family and marriage are “unraveling among the native French,” while birthrates drop.  (“A very good chance of Islamists conquering France”, Marilyn Stern, MEF, 3/7.   Interview with Michel Gurfinkiel, of the Paris based Jean-Jacques Rousseau Institute.)

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The Western Armament Community (II)                                                              German-Foreign-Policy.com * (10 March 2020)

 Germany, the EU and the western powers altogether have increased their already dominant share of the booming global arms export, according to a report on international arms transfers published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) yesterday.   Germany is the fourth largest arms export nation. With a 26 percent share, the EU is well ahead of Russia (21 percent) and behind the USA (36 percent).   Two thirds of the world’s exports of heavy war machinery are attributed to arms manufacturers in North America and Europe (excluding Russia).   SIPRI’s list of recipient states is a clear indication of current and future hot spots. Six of the top ten global arms importers are located in the Arab world, particularly at the Persian Gulf.   One sixth of all arms exports are being delivered to western allies in the power struggle with China in East and Southeast Asia and in the Pacific realm – with German arms exports being an integral part.    (More…   https://www.german-foreign-policy.com/en/news/detail/8213/)

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USA and France dramatically increase major arms exports;             Saudi Arabia is largest arms importer, says SIPRI

 (Stockholm, 9 March 2020) — International transfers of major arms during the five-year period 2015–19 increased by 5.5 per cent compared with 2010–14.   According to new data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the largest exporters of arms during the past five years were the United States, Russia, France, Germany and China. The new data shows that the flow of arms to the Middle East has increased, with Saudi Arabia clearly being the world’s largest importer.

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Significant increase in arms exports from the United States and France
Between 2010–14 and 2015–19, exports of major arms from the USA grew by 23 per cent, raising its share of total global arms exports to 36 per cent. In 2015–19 total US arms exports were 76 per cent higher than those of the second-largest arms exporter in the world, Russia. Major arms transferred from the USA went to a total of 96 countries.

‘Half of US arms exports in the past five years went to the Middle East, and half of those went to Saudi Arabia,’ says Pieter D. Wezeman, Senior Researcher at SIPRI.   ‘At the same time, demand for the USA’s advanced military aircraft increased, particularly in Europe, Australia, Japan and Taiwan.’

French arms exports reached their highest level for any five-year period since 1990 and accounted for 7.9 per cent of total global arms exports in 2015–19, a 72 per cent increase on 2010–14.  ‘The French arms industry has benefited from the demand for arms in Egypt, Qatar and India,’ says Diego Lopes Da Silva, SIPRI Researcher.

Other notable developments:

  • Germany’s arms exports were 17 per cent higher in 2015–19 than in 2010–14.
  • China was the fifth-largest arms exporter in 2015–19 and significantly increased the number of recipients of its major arms: from 40 in 2010–14 to 53 in 2015–19.
  • South Korea’s arms exports rose by 143 per cent between 2010–14 and 2015–19 and it entered the list of the top 10 largest exporters for the first time.
  • Israeli arms exports increased by 77 per cent between 2010–14 and 2015–19 to their highest-ever level.
  • West and Central European states had outstanding orders at the end of 2019 for imports of 380 new combat aircraft from the USA.
  • Egypt’s arms imports tripled between 2010–14 and 2015–19, making it the world’s third-largest arms importer.
  • Brazil’s arms imports in 2015–19 were the highest in South America, accounting for 31 per cent of the subregion’s arms imports, despite a 37 per cent decrease compared with 2010–14.
  • South Africa, the largest arms importer in sub-Saharan Africa in 2005–2009, imported almost no major arms in 2015–19.

(https://www.sipri.org/media/press-release/2020/usa-and-france-dramatically-increase-major-arms-exports-saudi-arabia-largest-arms-importer-says)

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Germany ‘should join in French nuclear deterrent’
The former Airbus executive Tom Enders urged Berlin to do the “unthinkable”
by Oliver Moody, Berlin, 6 March 2020, The Times (of London)

Germany has been urged to work with France on a joint nuclear deterrent amid doubts about President Trump’s readiness to stand by Europe in a military crisis.  Tom Enders, the former chief executive of Airbus, called on Berlin to overcome its taboo against atomic weapons and buy a stake in the French force de frappe (strike force), consisting of some 290 warheads.   President Macron recently offered EU leaders a “strategic dialogue” on the role of France’s nuclear arsenal.   The German response has so far been ambivalent.   The country is covered by the US “nuclear umbrella” through its membership of Nato.   It is an open secret that Germany hosts about 20 American warheads at the Büchel airbase, near the Belgian border.   The weapons are under the… [Paywall].
(https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/germany-should-join-in-french-nuclear-deterrent-g7vcz63rf)

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TO THE POINT

  • BIDEN BID – With primary wins in Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi and Idaho, Joe Biden took a commanding lead over Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination.   The two are even neck-and-neck in Washington, expected to go to Mr. Sanders.   Sights are already on Florida, the big prize next Tuesday, where Mr Biden leads in polls.   The race is his to lose.  (The Economist, 3/10/2020)
  • The Bank of England cut interest rates from 0.75% to 0.25% to cushion the economic blow from coronavirus.   It also announced a new scheme to provide cheap funding for banks that increase loans to small and medium-sized firms, and capital buffers were cut to ease credit conditions further.   The bank’s rate-cut follows cuts in America, Canada and Australia.  (The Economist, 3/10/2020)
  • The Democratic Republic of Congo, the biggest country in sub-Saharan Africa, confirmed its first case of covid-19.   Cases have also been recorded in South Africa, Nigeria and Senegal.   The World Health Organization has warned that the greatest concern is that the virus spreads “to countries with weaker health systems which are ill-prepared to deal with it”.    (The Economist, 3/10/2020)
  • I took one of my grandsons to see “The Call of the Wild” Monday night.   It’s the third or fourth version of the Jack London classic I’ve seen.  This one was the best.  It was good, family entertainment.  Try to see it before it leaves the big screen.
  • My wife and I have been watching “Beecham House”, a PBS series set in British India in 1795.   Although it has the usual anti-colonial stance, we found it very enjoyable.

I will write again a week from now – unless I succumb to the virus!

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-)