Tag Archives: Coronavirus

DOES BLM WANT A RETURN TO SLAVERY?

A poster advertising a special chapel service to celebrate the Abolition of Slavery in 1838.

Some little-known facts on slavery:

Before 1800 slavery was universally practiced.

Britain became the first major power to abolish the slave trade in 1807.   (Haiti and Denmark had already abolished it in 1804-5).  Britain went on to abolish slavery completely in 1833, with a four year transition period.

The British West Africa Squadron of the Royal Navy patrolled the coast of West Africa for almost 60 years, stopping ships and freeing slaves from 1808-67.   It is estimated that 250,000 slaves were freed.

David Livingstone was a famous Scottish missionary who went out to central Africa determined to bring Christianity to the people and to end slavery in that part of the world.

In the eighteenth century there were one million white slaves held in Muslim countries.

The US abolished the slave trade in 1808, only one year after Britain.   It was not able to abolish slavery itself until it had fought a four-year civil war (1861-65).   Over 400,000 men are now believed to have died in the War fighting for the Union.  That’s 400,000 mostly white men who all died to free the slaves.

It was the US Republican Party that supported the abolition of slavery.  The Democrats took a pro-slavery position and held back the development of African-Americans until well into the 1960s.

Since the end of the British Empire in Africa sixty years ago, slavery is back in every single African country, according to UNESCO.

The modern slave trade is considered the biggest trade in the world, accounting for over 10% of global business.  The Bible talks about this universal trading system.  Revelation 18:13, NIV:   “cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and human beings sold as slaves.”

If the United States and Britain are brought down by riots and revolution, there will be no restraint on the practice of slavery.

The irony is that Black Lives Matter and other groups will have taken the world back over 200 years to a time when slavery was universally practiced.

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THE DANGERS OF VILIFYING ALL POLICE

“The people condemning law enforcement in America and advocating for the defunding of police are not the ones who will have to face the deadly results of their proposals, says former civil rights activist Bob Woodson.

“Let’s do a survey of these communities where crime is the highest and find out what the people there want, before we rush to accept the recommendations of people who don’t have to suffer the consequences,” Woodson said.

“The killing of George Floyd, a black man, at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis sparked nationwide protests demanding reform as well as cases of looting, arson and vandalism. Reform proposals vary, with some groups such as Black Lives Matter and Democratic Socialists of America calling for a nationwide defunding of police.

“In Woodson’s view, crime will likely increase without funding cuts, because vilification of the police as agents of white suppression makes them more reluctant to enforce the law.

“After surveying 200 officers across six agencies in the southern United States,  Shetali Patil, an assistant professor of management at the University of Texas-Austin, found that when officers felt the public didn’t understand or appreciate them, they became less proactive.

“The result is more blacks being killed by other blacks, Woodson said.”   (The Dangers of Vilifying all police,” Epoch Times, 6/11/2020).

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LANSING MAYOR AGREES TO SIGN POLICE REFORM PLEDGES

“Mayor Andy Schor is promising to sign national police reform pledges, increase transparency in the police department and hire a diversity officer to address racial injustice in the city.

“The announcement Tuesday follows weeks of local protests against police brutality.  Some residents, including members of Black Lives Matter Lansing, have been calling for Schor’s resignation after he was criticized for defensiveness in response to questions from the group about the treatment of Black residents by police.

“Schor’s plans include:   “Promoting a city employee to the position of “diversity and inclusion officer”……..improve transparency…..hire an  attorney  to create a citywide diversity, equity and inclusion plan…..”   (Sarah Lehr, Lansing State Journal, 6/17/2020).

It should be noted that all of this will cost money, which will mean a raise in taxes or cuts to the police.

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DEMOCRACY IN DANGER

“The corruption of its democracy is one of America’s oldest yet most surprising habits.  Edgar Allan Poe, it is believed, died after the ordeal of ‘cooping’:   an informal exercise in getting out the vote, in which an often forcibly inebriated man was marched from booth to booth and made to vote for the same candidate each time.

“The voters of Massachusetts 4th District, compelled by a party machine to endorse Joseph P. Kennedy III, will know the feeling.  Indeed, John F. Kennedy’s victory in the 1960 elections is said to have depended on the stuffing of ballots in the Chicago of Mayor Richard J. Daley – and possibly on the intervention in Cook County by the crime boss Sam Giancana.  Kennedy went on to win Illinois by 8,000 votes and to take the White House.

“However endemic electoral corruption was in the past, nothing quite matches the scale of today’s disillusionment with democracy.   Americans are raging against the electoral machine in a way they have never done before.   Whoever wins the White House in November is going to have an uphill struggle convincing a skeptical public that he or she is the genuine choice of the American people and has got there by fair means.”   (Democracy in Danger, The Spectator (US edition), March 2020).

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U.S. National Pride Falls to Record Low                                              by Megan Brenan, 15 June 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. — American pride has continued its downward trajectory reaching the lowest point in the two decades of Gallup measurement.  The new low comes at a time when the U.S. faces public health and economic crises brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and civil unrest following the death of George Floyd in police custody.

* 42% “extremely,” and 21% “very,” proud to be an American.
                      * Republicans’ pride is down sharply in the past year.
                                        * First time extreme pride among whites below 50%; nonwhites’ is now  24%.

At the same time, 15% of Americans say they are “moderately proud,” 12% “only a little proud” and 9% “not at all proud.”

These latest data are from a May 28-June 4 poll, which also found 20% of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S., and presidential approval fell back to 39%.   The poll’s field period encompassed the arrests of the police officers charged in Floyd’s death as well as the nationwide protests that were sparked by the incident and President Donald Trump’s controversial responses to them.

(https://news.gallup.com/poll/312644/national-pride-falls-record-low.aspx)

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THE FUTURE OF THE US

The United States of America will never be the same, it will be a much worse place to live and work.   Amid a three-month pandemic there has been a three-week cultural revolution, ignited by the brutal death of African American George Floyd in Minneapolis, that has changed our country forever.

Our country is a great experiment, a diverse nation of 50 states united by a founding document that enshrines God given rights that people in other countries can only dream of realizing.   The United States has become not only the world’s only superpower, but also a country that has been a beacon of hope and freedom to the world.   (America is “Gone with the wind,” Canada Free Press, 6/14/2020)

Gone with the Wind has been banned by HBO.

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NORTH KOREA BLOWS UP

First, they stop taking your calls.   Then they blow up the house.   But this isn’t a love affair gone wrong, it’s what’s happening right now along one of the tensest borders in the world, between North and South Korea.   Last week Pyongyang quit answering a daily phone call from the South that was set up in 2018 to keep the peace and further reconciliation.   Then, yesterday, North Korea quite literally blew up a building just north of the border which both sides had used for the past two years as a meeting place for officials from the North and the South.   And earlier today, for good measure, Kim Jong-un moved some of his troops into several recently-shuttered inter-Korean economic cooperation sites located just north of the border.

Why now?

The immediate issue seems to be Seoul’s failure to stop North Korean defectors (“human scum” as they’re known in Pyongyang’s state media) from sending anti-Kim leaflets over the border using balloons and drones.

But there’s a larger context. North Korea’s economy is suffering under crippling international sanctions tied to its nuclear program, and the coronavirus pandemic almost certainly isn’t helping.   With nuclear talks largely stalled, there’s no relief in sight.  (Gzero Signal, 6/17/2020)

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 Virus-Immune Rioters Latest Coronavirus Con

Something the mainstream and social media hope you will never come to realize:   Most everyone other than the street protesters remains under coronavirus lockdown.

While the majority of civilized society is held under government-imposed lockdown, meaning with no place to work, no place to worship, no place to go—purportedly for their own safety in a raging pandemic—hundreds of thousands of ‘protesters’ — (millions if counted worldwide) are allowed out to protest, pillage and burn cities down.

Let that sink in if only in order to clearly see how a pandemic panic can be used to help take down Western society.    (Canada Free Press, 6/17/2020)

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TO THE POINT

  • “Liberals will fight for the right of Marxist radicals to burn the American flag to show their hatred of it but cannot tolerate working folks flying the battle flag of the Confederacy to show their love of it.”   (Pat Buchanan, 6/16/2020)
  • NEW PARTY FOR AUSTRALIA:   “On immigration, it says our annual intake is “unsustainably high”, multiculturalism is “cumbersome and inorganic” and refugees should be given temporary asylum rather than permanent homes.   It also calls for “ethnic enclaves” in our cities and schools to be “broken up.”  (The Sensible Center, Michael Koziol, Sydney Morning Herald, 6/14/2020)
  • The two destabilizing events recently occurring back-to-back, the response to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic and the George Floyd rioting, illustrate well how America is now institutionally incapable of making decisions in her own best interests.   That is, the overreaction to the disease and under-reaction to the rioting reflect a country long demoralized.   Moreover, if that’s not troubling enough, know that this is a state of being that usually leads to tyranny.   (2020-06-11, Selwyn Duke, Canada Free Press, 6/12/2020)
  • Meanwhile the World Health Organization warned that the coronavirus pandemic was “accelerating” in Africa.   Hitherto the continent has escaped relatively lightly, recording just 200,000 or so cases and 5,000 deaths (compared with over 170,000 deaths, for instance, in Europe).  The WHO mentioned South Africa, Cameroon and Algeria as likely hotspots for the spread of the disease. (The Economist, 6/12/2020)
  • British GDP plunged by 20.4% in April—by far the biggest month-on-month drop since the series began in 1997 (see main stories). This followed a 5.8% shrinkage in March, itself the previous record drop.   The construction industry was particularly badly affected, showing a 40.1% fall.   May’s figures should be better, as some economic activity was able to return.  (The Economist, 6/12/2020)
  • Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s autocratic president, sacked his prime minister, Imad Khamis.   The country has been hit by five days of protests, centred around the city of Suweida, as a collapsing currency has led to stinging price increases.   Civil war, Western economic sanctions, covid-19 and a crisis in neighbouring Lebanon have all helped to impoverish the country.   (The Economist, 6/12/2020)
  • “At the heart of the Democrats’ problems is a growing spirit of insurgency against political elites.”   (Spectator, March 2020)

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     

WORST DEPRESSION SINCE 1706

(The Spectator, April 11, 2020)

Bank of England warns of sharpest annual contraction since 1706    For the year as a whole, the economy is expected to contract by 14%. 

This would be the biggest annual decline on record, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) data dating back to 1949.   It would also be the sharpest annual contraction since 1706, according to reconstructed Bank of England data stretching back to the 18th Century.    By Szu Ping Chan, Business reporter, BBC News, 7 May, 2020    (https://www.bbc.com/news/business-52566030 (5/7)

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 Factories in US Close for Good as Coronavirus Cuts Demand    Some manufacturers that furloughed employees during lockdowns say plants won’t reopen

Factory furloughs across the U.S. are becoming permanent closings, a sign of the heavy damage the coronavirus pandemic and shutdowns are exerting on the industrial economy.   (Wall Street Journal, 5/11/2020)

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U.S. levels of hunger and unemployment are soaring
Nearly one in five young children in the U.S. are going hungry. 

That’s according to a new survey of households by the Brookings Institution, which found that 17.4 percent of children were not eating enough.   The level is three times as high as in 2008, during the Great Recession.

Disruptions in school meal programs during the pandemic may be part of the problem, the lead researcher said, with some families unable to reach distribution sites and older siblings at home competing for limited food.   As hunger rises, Democrats in Washington are seeking to raise food stamp benefits for the duration of the economic crisis, but Republicans have balked at a long-term expansion of the program.

April’s labor report, due Friday, is expected to show that U.S. payrolls fell by 22 million, according to economists surveyed by MarketWatch.   The worst monthly loss on record was nearly two million jobs in September 1945. (NY Times, 7 May 2020)

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Covid-19 is our punishment, but we need to work with doctors to fight the pandemic, says Zulu king
9 May 2020, by Zimasa Matiwane,  TimesLive

Zulu King Zwelithini also believes Africa had strayed from God and earned his wrath and if the people of Africa “went back to God, I am certain he will protect us.”   “We must admit that we angered Jehovah, that is why he is punishing us, he is humbling us.   This tells me God wants us as a nation, he wants his time with us as a nation. It’s a time where God wanted us to prepare, in connecting with him, not just to meet at churches, he wanted a one-on-one with us,” the monarch explained. King Goodwill Zwelithini addressed his subjects via Zoom on Saturday about Covid-19.

(https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2020-05-09-covid-19-is-our-punishment-but-we-need-to-work-with-doctors-to-fight-the-pandemic-says-zulu-king/)

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PROTEST AGAINST BORDER CLOSURE

Over the weekend, hundreds of French and Luxembourgian citizens have protested the ongoing closure of German borders.   On March 16, the German government unilaterally reinstated strict border controls.   Since then, German police have prevented more than 100,000 citizens of several neighboring countries from entering Germany.   Berlin’s measures have been causing considerable hardships also for French and Luxembourgian citizens, working in German factories and hospitals.   They are also being regularly exposed to harassment by German border police and to a resurgence of old anti-French chauvinism in Germany.   French commuters are increasingly being treated as “second-class EU citizens,” notes a French senator.

The former EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had warned that “Germany will cause permanent damage with the way it is treating some of its neighbors.” 

Germany’s crisis policy is also provoking protests in Southern and Eastern Europe.   (German Foreign Policy, 5/11)

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MEMORIES OF WORLD WAR II

Union Jacks lowered, replaced with swastikas.   This was the British government’s worst nightmare in the early years of the second world war.   And in June 1940 it became reality in the Channel Islands, the only British territory to come under Nazi control.   Today they celebrate their 75th annual “Liberation Day” since the German surrender.   The islands just off France’s northern coast endured almost five years of Nazi rule; food shortages inspired Guernsey’s famous “potato-peel pie.”   With a media blackout in place, local journalists set up an underground news service.  Jersey’s residents daubed swastikas on the houses of anyone considered too cosy with the invaders.   But the islands were not exactly a hotbed of anti-Nazi resistance.   Just two local politicians spoke out against anti-Semitic orders.   Jews were registered and their businesses liquidated.   Most were deported.   Three died in Auschwitz.   Indeed the islands’ experience weakens post-war claims that Britain would have resisted Nazi occupation more strongly than other European states. (The Economist, 5/9/2020)

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MODERN FRANCE

A few months ago, a police officer, Noam Anouar, who infiltrated Islamist circles . . . stated that no-go zones in France are now foreign enclaves on French territory.   “The gangs operating there,” he wrote, “have formed a parallel economy based on drug trafficking. They consider themselves at war with France and with Western civilization.   They act in cooperation with Islamist organizations, and define acts of predation and rampage as raids against infidels.”   He noted that reclaiming these areas today would be complicated, costly, and involve calling in the army.

For years, successive French governments have chosen a policy of “willful blindness”:   they simply behave as if they do not see what is going on.   They do not even try to find solutions.   (Guy Milliere, Gatestone, 5/10/2020)

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72 Knesset Members back Netanyahu to form next government
Once approved by Rivlin, Likud leader has two weeks to form a government; move comes hours after Knesset passes amendment to Basic Law that allows for Netanyahu and Gantz to share premiership as part of recently signed coalition deal
(Associated Press, 7 May 2020, Ynet)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formally received the support of a majority of lawmakers to lead a new government on Thursday, paving the way for a controversial power-sharing deal with rival-turned-partner Benny Gantz.   Likud and Blue & White said that “representatives of the two parties submitted to President Reuven Rivlin the 72 signatures of Knesset members recommending Benjamin Netanyahu for the task of assembling an emergency national unity government.”

Once approved by Rivlin, Netanyahu will have two weeks to form a government.   Of the 72 MKs who supported Netanyahu, 36 were members of Likud, 16 came from Blue & White, two were from Derech Eretz party, two from Labor, nine from Shas and seven from United Torah Judaism.   Lawmakers from Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party did not add their support to back Netanyahu and was unclear whether they would join the new government, which is set to be sworn in on Wednesday of next week.
(https://www.ynetnews.com/article/ry57ljWq8)

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CBS CHEATS

During a pandemic, the media can play an invaluable role in providing accurate reporting so that people may take action based on the best available information.

Scare tactics not only gravely undermine that sacred duty but give credence to the dangerously wrong belief that the coronavirus (COVID-19) presents no real threat.

For a second time, that lesson appears lost on CBS News.  Weeks ago, the network aired footage of a chaotic scene at an Italian hospital while alleging the video came from New York City.

Project Veritas has now learned that a CBS News crew filming in Grand Rapids, Michigan wasn’t satisfied with the orderly COVID-19 testing scene at Cherry Medical Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Getting their desired footage involved taking medical professionals away from their duties and getting them in cars to give the illusion that the line of patients was longer.   (Townhall)

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GREATEST DANGER TO CATHOLIC CHURCH

Life Site News reported on May 4:   “Dr. Robert Moynihan, the editor-in-chief of the Catholic journal Inside the Vatican, revealed on April 23 that he once had a conversation with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (who later became Pope Benedict XVI) about the ‘greatest danger to the Church,’ and he recounts that Ratzinger said:   ‘It is Freemasonry . . . Bishop Schneider states that Freemasons were crucial in the promotion of abortion, same-sex ‘marriage,’ and euthanasia in France . . .

“Then-Cardinal Ratzinger was already in the 1980s so concerned about the nature and work of Freemasonry that he worked out a statement for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, whose Prefect he then was, which repeated the Church’s long-standing ban on Freemasonry.   That is to say, he re-stated that Catholics may not be members of Freemasonry.   On November 26, 1983, Ratzinger signed a document that stated, ‘Therefore the Church’s negative judgment in regard to Masonic association remains unchanged since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and therefore membership in them remains forbidden.   The faithful who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.’”

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POST-CORONA CHURCHES

Stephen Bullivant, whose book Mass Exodus studied Catholic attrition in Britain and America, offers three reasons why he believes churches will shrink after the pandemic.

First, he says, churchgoers (both lay and clergy) tend to be elderly and therefore more likely to die of coronavirus.   Second, many churches rely on a steady influx of immigrants.   With the world in lockdown, that supply has, at least temporarily, dried up.   Third, churchgoing is a habit, and once that habit is broken, it is hard to take it up again.  (“Risen Again,” Luke Coppen, The Spectator (UK), 4/11/2020)

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TO THE POINT

  • Deadly attacks on funeral and hospital in Afghanistan — A suicide bomber has attacked the funeral of a police commander in Afghanistan, killing at least 24 people and injuring 68. In a separate attack, gunmen disguised as police stormed a hospital in the Afghan capital Kabul, killing 16 people, including two newborn babies, at a maternity clinic run by the humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders.  (The Week, 5/18/2020)
  • The Trump administration ordered that an American federal pension fund, the Thrift Savings Plan, with around $600bn under management, stop investing in all Chinese companies.  The White House says they pose national-security threats and might become subject to sanctions.   There is a growing clamor among Republicans to devise punitive measures against China, which they accuse of covering-up facts about covid-19.   (The Economist, 5/13/2020)
  • The number of confirmed cases of covid-19 surged past 4m globally, with more than 282,000 deaths.   America, with a third of the world’s fatalities, is by far the worst-hit country.   Yet even governments that appeared to have tamed the disease warned of its re-emergence.   South Korea reported 35 new cases on Monday—its biggest increase in a month.   A new cluster of infections in Shulan, in north-eastern China, forced the city into complete lockdown.   And Germany’s infection rate accelerated. (The Economist, 5/11/2020)
  • Boris Johnson, Britain’s prime minister, announced plans to relax England’s lockdown, encouraging people who cannot work from home to return to their jobs and permitting more outdoor activities from Wednesday.   Shops and some schools may reopen in June.   Mr. Johnson’s new “stay alert” slogan was criticized by some for being confusing.   Harsher restrictions will remain in Scotland and Wales. (The Economist, 5/11/2020)
  • “The American media is using the virus crisis in order to attack Trump, but the Greek people will not tolerate such craven opportunism and dishonesty.   Criticism of the government is almost non-existent, as the suddenly wise populace is united against the unseen menace.”  (Taki, The Spectator, 4/11/2020).

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AFTERTHOUGHT

As if the coronavirus isn’t bad enough, debt could be the determining factor as regards the future of the US in particular and the West in general.

I got to thinking about this during the week when Nancy Pelosi proposed giving every household in the US $6,000.   That’s a total of $3 trillion.   To be added to a national debt of $23.3.   What’s an extra $3 trillion between friends?

Isn’t anybody frightened of debt anymore?  I know I avoid it like the plague (the coronavirus!).

Romans 13:8 tells us to “Owe no one anything.”

If you are in debt, you are not in the best position to weather whatever storms may come your way as a result of the virus (unemployment, reduced hours and wages, rising food prices, to name just three).

Why did you get into debt in the first place?

Let’s be honest here – greed is normally the answer.   We want.   We want things we can’t afford, but we believe the ads that tell us “you owe it to yourself.”

Or we want a bigger home (why?), or a second car (why?) or new furniture (again, why?).

Matthew 6:31-33:   So don’t worry about these things, saying, “What will we eat?  What will we drink?  What will we wear?”  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Stay out of debt.   If you’re in debt, get out of it ASAP.   You will be able to cope with the new reality, the “new normal,” a lot better if you’re not in debt.

MR     

BRITAIN AND AMERICA LEAD WITH CORONA VIRUS

Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer has taken draconian steps to stop the spread of the corona virus. The restrictions she has imposed on Michigan are unprecedented. Cartoons like this one illustrate the public’s distrust of government, though most people seem to support the measures she has taken. At the same time, North Korea’s leader was missing, presumed dead.

In the US, there have been over 70,000 corona virus deaths; in the UK over 32,000 (proportionately the UK is worse than the US).   What this could mean remains to be seen.

Two months ago, Britain looked on in horror as deaths from Covid-19 skyrocketed in Italy.   Now, the UK’s own death toll from the disease has eclipsed its continental neighbor to become the worst in Europe.

Yet with the true figure likely to be significantly higher due to missed cases and a lag in reporting, the country is braced for worse news to come.  (The Week, 5/6/2020)

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RATE OF UNEMPLOYMENT

The latest unemployment figures came out this morning (Thursday).  An additional 3.2 million people filed for unemployment benefit last week.   That brings the total number of Americans without a job to 33.5 million.

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RESISTANCE MOUNTS

From Maine to California, Americans are defying government officials and reclaiming their First Amendment rights to assemble and protest.  They are opening up their businesses in open defiance of the authoritarian political leaders.   The resistance is building and thankfully remains (mostly) peaceful.  How long until the dam breaks and the lockdown regime comes crashing down?(https://patriotpowerednews.com/resistance-to-lockdown-builds-coronavirus-tyrants-losing-their-grip/)

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BRITISH ECONOMY HITS ROCK BOTTOM

In recent weeks economic data have forced statisticians to change the scale on their charts by hitting new lows.  This week they showed a record drop in construction activity, and the car industry’s trade body reported that new registrations fell by 97% year-on-year in April.   The good news is that the last month probably represented the bottom for Britain’s economy, with lockdown restrictions likely to ease in coming weeks.   The bad news is that the shape of the recovery remains uncertain.   Today’s Bank of England announcements did not include new policy changes—interest rates are already at record lows, quantitative easing has restarted, and new schemes have been put in place to support business lending — but they did update their forecasts.   The bank’s economists now expect the economy to contract by 14% in 2020, the largest annual fall since the early 1700s, followed by a 15% bounce in 2021.   The worry though is that while the scale of the decline looks pretty clear, the speed of the recovery is subject to much more uncertainty.   (The Economist, 5/7/2020)

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FEARS PANDEMIC MAY HASTEN WEST’S DECLINE 

The corona crisis could accelerate Germany and the western powers’ economic and political decline, according to recent economic projections by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and analyses by US foreign policy experts.   As the US magazine Foreign Policy writes, Trump’s handling of the crisis has been an “embarrassing debacle” that tarnished the United States’ reputation as a country “that knows how to do things effectively.”  Other states are more willing to orient themselves on countries which are “past the peak of infection,” such as China, concludes the president of the Council on Foreign Relations.   The EU has also failed in the crisis. According to the IMF, China will economically suffer less under the pandemic than western countries: its economic performance will bypass that of the eurozone quicker than expected and will approach that of the United States.   In the West, this emerging shift in power is being accompanied by aggressive anti-Chinese propaganda.  (German Foreign Policy, 4/16/2020)

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TEST OF AMERICAN LEADERSHIP, POST-VIRUS

You can see why china might sniff an opportunity in this crisis. Coronavirus has targeted America’s weaknesses, while making many of its strengths temporarily irrelevant.   The world’s most powerful military machine is not much use against a virus.   But a lack of universal healthcare coverage is suddenly a threat not just to the poor but to the whole of US society.

Question one is:   what currency in the world do you most trust? Question two:   where, outside your home country, would you most like your children to go to university or to work?  For a majority of the global middle-class, the answers to those questions have been, respectively, the dollar and the us.  If that continues to be the case after the pandemic, then American primacy will continue.

(Gideon Rachman, FT, 5/6)

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FEARS GROW BREXIT TALKS COULD COLLAPSE IN JUNE

Brexit talks with the European Union could collapse in June unless Brussels abandons its demands for a common fisheries policy and a level playing field, says a source close to the UK’s negotiating team.

The source told The Guardian that only “limited progress in bridging the gaps between us” had been made at last week’s talks, but there was “confidence that progress can be made quite quickly.”

He added that he was “quite positive” over the chances of a trade deal before the end of the year, when the UK’s transition period ends.  Boris Johnson is expected to take a more active role in trying to help unblock talks if there is no breakthrough in the months ahead.   (The Week, 5/1/2020)

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Britain’s new aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth sets sail
30 April 2020, Defense News

LONDON — Britain’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth departed its Portsmouth base April 29 for training, but only after its crew was tested for the new coronavirus, the Royal Navy announced.   The 65,000-ton warship is currently in an isolation period at sea ahead of training off the south coast of England.  The ship’s departure from the Portsmouth naval base was delayed by a few days to enable the entire crew of about 800 to be tested for COVID-19.   The warship is expected to be at sea for up to eight weeks conducting the Flag Officer Sea Training assessment required to certify that HMS Queen Elizabeth is competent to join the fleet for operational tasking.  Britain is targeting next year for the ship’s first operational deployment, and the FOST assessment is a key element in achieving that plan.  Training with F-35 fighter jets, simulated battle damage, fires and flood training, and mission rehearsals will be part of the process, the Royal Navy said in a statement.  “This will prepare the ship for further training later in the year with other Royal Navy ships to ensure they are ready to deploy as a task group next year,” the service said.(https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2020/04/30/britains-new-carrier-queen-elizabeth-sets-sail-prepared-to-train-amid-pandemic/)

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EUROZONE ECONOMY SHRINKS AT RECORD RATE

The eurozone economy shrank at its sharpest rate on record in the first quarter of the year, with the continent set to enter a deep recession triggered by the coronavirus lockdown.

Eurostat data published yesterday showed that eurozone GDP shrank by 3.8% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the final quarter of last year.   The contraction is worse than that experienced by the US over the same period and deeper than the financial crisis over a decade ago.   Market Watch says it means “three years of the eurozone’s economic activity have been wiped away, and it is likely going to get worse.”  (The Week, 5/1/2020)

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COULD ISRAEL AND IRAN GO TO WAR?

The undeclared war between Iran and Israel has reached new heights.

Or more specifically, a height of 270 miles, which is the altitude of Iran’s first spy satellite.   It’s more than a nice vantage point for Iran to keep an eye on its arch-enemy Israel.   Lacking advanced reconnaissance aircraft and drones to penetrate Israeli air defenses, a satellite may be the only way for Tehran to gather real-time intelligence on Israel.

Which raises the question: will Israel be tempted to destroy Iran’s eye in the sky?   (Michael Peck, Middle East Forum, 5/5/2020)

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DISENGAGEMENT FROM CHINA

The United States and transatlantic oriented circles in Germany are increasing pressure on Berlin to participate in the West’s “disengagement” from China.   “The alliance question” is “ripe for decision,” declared Mathias Döpfner, CEO of the Axel Springer SE media group.  Germany must cease the “aberration” of economic cooperation with the People’s Republic of China and formally position itself in opposition to Beijing.  This is the result of the global shift in power that is becoming apparent through the Corona crisis. Whereas China has obviously overcome the low-point of this crisis and is already headed back to economic growth, an improvement of the situation in the USA and Europe is not yet on the horizon. Observers are speculating that the western powers’ “influence and significance” will probably “continue to dwindle.”   Whereas Washington is mulling whether to lift China’s sovereign immunity, to permit damage lawsuits, powerful forces in the German economy are seeing their crisis exit in business with China.   (German Foreign Policy, 5/4/2020)

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SCOTTISH COMMENT ON CHINESE BEHAVIOR

“No country with a skerrick of self-respect can allow this behavior to go unpunished.  I have already suggested some punitive measures designed to wound the regime’s pride without harming the Chinese people:   cancel the Huawei deal; pass a Magnitsky-style Act targeting senior CPC figures; champion the Uyghurs at every opportunity (e.g. rename the London street that houses the Chinese embassy after a Uyghur political prisoner); and recognize Taiwan as an independent nation.   All I would add, upon reflection, is this: grant British citizenship to Hong Kongers born before 1 July 1997, their children and grandchildren.” — Scottish political commentator Stephen Daisley.   (Gatestone, 5/7)

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CORONA ECONOMIC GAP

Foreign policy experts in Germany and the EU’s Foreign Affairs Commissioner Josep Borrell are warning that Brussels’ corona relief measures could widen the EU’s economic gap.   So far, the EU’s reaction to the Corona crisis has led to companies in economically stronger countries receiving more relief assistance than their competitors in more heavily indebted countries, according to a proximate analysis by the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP).   After the crisis, German companies will probably be in a stronger position than, for example, their Italian competitors.  “The north-south divide that was already in place before the crisis, could become even more pronounced afterwards,” Borrell predicts.   The growing inequality could threaten the EU’s “political project” in the foreseeable future, the DGAP writes.   In the competition within the EU, German companies are benefiting from the fact that, by fostering a bottom-to-top redistribution, national corona relief measures are already to their advantage – a development that exacerbates the crisis.  (German Foreign Policy, 5/6/2020)

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POPE PIUS XII KNEW OF HOLOCAUST                                          Researchers say Vatican archives show Pope Pius XII knew of WWII killing of Jews  

German scholars exploring newly opened trove of documents find letter indicating pope was aware of massacre of Jews in Warsaw and Lviv from own sources, but denied it to Americans.

Researchers studying the newly opened Vatican archives of pope Pius XII have already found evidence that the World War II-era pope knew about the mass killing of Jews from his own sources but kept it from the US government, the Washington Post reported Wednesday, citing interviews with German scholars.   The archives were opened March 2, but closed soon after due to the coronavirus crisis.   Many of the 200 scholars who had applied for access delayed their trips. However, a German team lead by award-winning religious historian Hubert Wolf from the University of Münster made a start and has already found some damning discoveries.   (Times of Israel, 30 April 2020).

(MORE:  https://www.timesofisrael.com/researchers-say-vatican-archives-show-pope-pius-xii-knew-of-wwii-killing-of-jews/)

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POLYGAMY CAUSE OF CONFLICT IN AFRICA

Polygamy is a major social problem in Africa and other parts of the world.  In Africa, it plays a major role in the wars fought in some areas.   Where men have to provide 30 or more cows as the bride price to buy a wife, cattle raids on neighboring tribes and villages have become a regular occurrence.  As some men have multiple wives, so others have none.  This leads to desperation, to violence and the taking of wives from other tribes.

“Overall, polygamy is in retreat.  However, its supporters are fighting to preserve or even extend it.  Two-fifths of Khazakhstanis want to re-legalize the practice  (it was banned by the Bolsheviks).   In 2008 they were thwarted, at least temporarily, when a female MP amended a pro-polygamy bill to say that polyandry – the taking of multiple husbands – would be allowed as well; Muslim greybeards balked at that.”  (“The Perils of Polygamy,” The Economist, 12/23/17).

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TO THE POINT

  • ISRAEL ALLOWS CHRISTIAN TV CHANNEL – A new evangelical Christian channel whose mission is to “take the message of Yeshua our Messiah to all of Israel 24/7, 365 days a year” began broadcasting in Israel in Hebrew last week, after signing a seven-year contract with Israeli cable provider HOT.   The Shelanu (Hebrew for “Ours”) TV channel is a branch of GOD TV, which broadcasts missionary programming in 200 countries around the world.   The new deal will give the channel access to over 700,000 Israeli households. GOD TV CEO Ward Simpson said in a video announcing the launch that his network had received permission from the Israeli government to “broadcast the gospel of Jesus Christ – Yeshua the Messiah – in Israel on cable TV in the Hebrew language.   Never before, as far as we know in the history of the world, has this ever been done.” (jns. 5/5/2020)
  • The leaders of the European Union and dozens of states and donors pledged €7.4bn ($8.1bn) to fund the fight against covid-19.   Most of the money will go towards developing a vaccine, the rest to finding a cure and better testing.   More cash could be forthcoming.   America declined to take part (or say why).   “A pity,” said Norway’s prime minister.   (The Economist, 5/5/2020)
  • CHINA WARNS OF WAR WITH THE US – An internal report presented to Chinese President Xi Jinping and other top leaders concludes that global anti-China sentiment is at a level not seen since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, and recommends preparing for a worst-case scenario of armed conflict with the United States, according to Reuters, citing people familiar with the content of the document.
  • Eleven European ambassadors to Israel on Thursday warned Jerusalem of severe consequences if it moves ahead with plans to annex parts of the West Bank as part of a government coalition deal.  The envoys from the UK, Germany, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Finland and the EU issued a formal objection to the Foreign Ministry against the move, Channel 13 reported. (Times of Israel, 5/1/2020)
  • Kuwaiti economist Saeed Tawfiqi said in a March 30, 2020 interview on Diwan Al-Mulla Internet TV (Kuwait) that in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. and Europe will enter a sharp decline, and China will become stronger.   He advised people in the Gulf states to start learning Chinese instead of English and using yuans instead of dollars. (MEMRI 7921)

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AFTER THOUGHT

America has held the pre-eminent position in the world for seventy years.  History shows us that it will not always be the case.   Indeed, the corona virus could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

The first recorded recognition that the British Empire no longer ranked at number one was in 1948.   But it wasn’t until 1956, with the Suez Canal crisis, that it was fully realized.   Decline (and fall) is not always overnight as in the fall of Babylon – it can be longer and protracted.

The outcome of the virus and the economic reality of its aftermath, remain to be seen.   But the article by Gideon Rachman, of the Financial Times, quoted elsewhere in this blog, gives us a simple test.   After it’s all over, will the US dollar still be the currency of choice for the world’s nations?  And will people around the world still send their children to US colleges?

We should know the answer to the first question soon; the second may take longer.

Over-spending by the US government has always been a problem.  The late President DeGaulle of France dismissively referred to the “Anglo-Saxon debtor countries”, whose economic systems relied on deficit spending.  But that over-spending has been a big factor in ensuring the prosperity of both the British and the Americans for the last 50 years.

That will likely change.    Borrowing for the stimulus will run into the trillions of dollars.   In the UK, we see the same thing happening with massive spending to help the people in a time of trouble.

This must weaken the dollar (and the pound), against other currencies.   We may even have reached the full extent of our capacity to borrow, that no more borrowing is possible.  At the very least, our children and grandchildren will be buried in debt for generations.

Other nations may decide that the two currencies are not reliable, that they will not hold their value.  In which case, they will have to find an alternative (the euro?  The Chinese yuan?  Gold?).   If that’s the case, the US will lose its global leadership position overnight.

Daniel 2:21 says:   “He removes kings and raises up kings” (Daniel 2:21).  God is behind the rise and fall of nations.  Seventy years is about the average for any nation to stay at the top.  It was longer for the British, but not the French or the Spanish, who held the ascendant position earlier.  Seventy years is about the average lifespan, by which time people have forgotten the lessons of the past, which includes the need to balance the books and stabilize the currency.

Whether this is the time for a major global change is not clear yet.   But it soon will be.

Let’s remember God is in charge and not despair.   The same chapter of Daniel assures us of the greatest event in history, the establishment of the Kingdom of God.

“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.”  (Daniel 2:44)

The kingdoms (and republics) of this world must end for God to establish His Kingdom.

MR     

PARTS OF EUROPE AVOIDED BIG LOSSES FROM COVID-19

In western and southern Europe, coronavirus has taken a devastating toll, with people dying in their thousands each day, and doctors having to make appalling choices about which lives to save as health systems buckle under the number of cases.   But in central and eastern Europe (CEE), the pandemic has been contained to such an extent that the first glimpses of a post-lockdown world are visible.   Shops, hotels, schools and even shopping centers are reopening.   The transcontinental divide is striking.   So far, Spain has recorded 517 deaths per million people, Italy 453, France 353, and the UK 325.   By contrast, Slovakia has recorded 4, Poland 16, the Czech Republic 21 and Austria 65.   On Tuesday alone, Spain, Italy and the UK all suffered more deaths than the Czech Republic, Hungary, or Slovakia have recorded during the entire crisis.  “We are doing very well,” Igor Matovic, Slovakia’s prime minister, said in a press conference on Wednesday of his country’s battle.  “Perhaps even better than we expected.”  (“How central and eastern Europe contained coronavirus”, James Shotter and Sam Jones, Financial Times, 4/30/2020)

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GERMANY IS THE NEW GLOBAL LEADER

Forget Washington and Beijing.  These Days Global Leadership Comes From Berlin.  People love to hate Germany—but the country is doing far more than most nations  to help its European neighbors fight the coronavirus.  (by Elisabeth Braw, April 28, 2020, Foreign Policy)

At the beginning of April, the university hospital in the central German city of Jena dispatched two doctors, two medical assistants, and assorted medical supplies to Naples, Italy.   A couple of days before, the Bundeswehr, Germany’s military, had airlifted French and Italian patients to German hospitals.   That’s just a tiny part of Germany’s coronavirus assistance to allies.(https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/04/28/global-leadership-coronavirus-pandemic-germany-united-states-china/)

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GERMAN RELIANCE ON CHINA OVER COVID-19

Germany will most likely have to rely on China to limit the economic damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to estimates by two flagship sectors of German industry – the automotive and mechanical engineering branches.   The Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA) expects dramatic losses particularly in Europe and North America while expecting growth of business in China, where the situation “seems to become stabilized.” Representatives of the automotive industry express similar views. VW, for example, is expecting to catch up in the People’s Republic and not lag too far behind its original annual plans, whereas experts are expecting billions in losses on the US automotive market.  “Crises shift forces” business circles predict regarding the uneven development in China and the USA.   Berlin also depends on Beijing for the procurement of medical protective equipment.   The largest supply so far is expected to arrive in Leipzig today – carried out by the German military.   (German Foreign Policy, 4/27/2020)

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CAMEL PEE CURES COVID-19

Muslim advocacy for drinking camel urine is back in the news, this time in connection with the coronavirus, which is especially ironic if not deadly, as will be explained.   An “Islamic medicine specialist” and director of a religious-scientific institution in Iran recently called on his countrymen to drink camel urine as the “best cure” for coronavirus and other ailments.

Mehdi Sabili, who is affiliated with the Iranian regime, uploaded a video on his Instagram account extolling the virtues of dromedary urine on April 19.   The video, which has since gone viral, also depicted him drinking a glass of freshly procured camel urine — which he enthused was best drunk “fresh and warm” — and calling on fellow Iranians to do the same three times a day for three days (i.e., nine full glasses).   (Camel urine – Islam’s best cure for coronavirus, Raymond Ibrahim, MEF, 4/28)

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SAN REMO CONFERENCE MAJOR STEP TOWARD CREATION OF ISRAEL

April 25 marked the 100th anniversary of the San Remo conference, which conferred the Mandate for Palestine on Britain, a decision confirmed two years later by the League of Nations in a resolution recognizing Britain’s promise in the 1917 Balfour Declaration to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

There is probably no more understated event in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict than the San Remo conference of April 1920. Convened for a mere week as part of the post-World War I peace conferences, which created a new international order on the basis of indigenous self-rule and national self-determination, participants appointed Britain as mandatory for Palestine with the specific task of:

putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2, 1917, by the British Government [i.e., the Balfour Declaration], and adopted by the other Allied Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

This mandate was then ratified on July 24, 1922, by the Council of the League of Nations – the postwar world organization and the United Nation’s predecessor.  (Efraim Karsh, MEF, 4/28)

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STARVATION MAJOR PROBLEM IN ONCE PROSPEROUS SOUTH AFRICA – The biggest lockdown threat:   Hunger, hunger, everywhere

Protests and looting have broken out all over South Africa in recent days in response to one issue:  hunger.   It is now clear that hunger will pose the greatest threat to South African well-being and security during the lockdown – and the difficulties involved with getting food to millions of South Africans in need are tremendous.

The hunger of South Africans during the extended lockdown period is spilling over on to the streets.   This week alone, grocery stores have been looted and protests have broken out on the Cape Flats, Khayelitsha, Alexandra and Chatsworth – to name just a few areas. Cape Flats ward councillor Bongani Ngcani was quoted by News24 as saying:  “A man told me:   ‘I would rather die of Covid-19 than of hunger’ .”   It is clear that all three tiers of government are well aware of the threat posed by hunger.   But the logistical challenges of providing food to potentially millions of South Africans under lockdown are monumental, and may not be able to be resolved through existing systems.  (The Daily Maverick, 17 April 2020, by Rebecca Davis)

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CAN CORONAVIRUS CAUSE A BIBLICAL FAMINE?

On Tuesday, the head of the UN’s food relief agency warned that the coronavirus pandemic could produce “famines of biblical proportions,” as 265 million people across 30 countries face starvation.

And yet, the world right now has an historic abundance of food.  How is this possible?

Even before the arrival of COVID-19, historic locust swarms had left tens of millions in East Africa without enough food.   And some 85 million people across 46 countries already needed emergency food aid in 2019.

But the coronavirus pandemic, and governments’ responses to it, have made matters drastically worse in ways that hurt the neediest countries the most.  (Gzero Signal, 4/24/2020)

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ISLAMIST HATE PREACHER WARNS MUSLIMS TO ARM THEMSELVES

He spins the bitter realities of failing, backward Middle Eastern communities and nations into narratives of victimization that fuel resentment towards the West, Jews and Israel.

One of Chicago’s most notorious anti-Semites has responded to the COVID-19 outbreak in a despicable manner:   by blaming Jews and encouraging Muslims to arm themselves against their neighbors.

During a series of alarmist rants on his YouTube channel, Imam Omar Baloch simultaneously declared that the coronavirus may be a Zionist-American plot to throttle the growth of the Chinese economy, a punishment from Allah and the work of shadowy secret societies.

However, Baloch’s most concerning online lecture occurred on March 22, when he suggested that the coronavirus presents a “very good opportunity” for Muslims to “purchase firearms” ahead of confrontations with their Trump-supporting neighbors.  (Hesham Shehab, Middle East Forum, 4/29/2020)

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AS AMERICA MOVES OUT, CHINA MOVES IN

Both the United Kingdom and the U.S. State Department have complained to China about the free flow of Chinese weapons to Iran, which then wind up with the Taliban.   These include surface-to-air missiles, rocket-propelled grenades, artillery shells, and land mines.

China’s $3 billion copper mine investment… in Afghanistan’s Logar Province remains under the Taliban’s protection.   Other Chinese corporations that have initiated investment projects in Afghanistan include the Zinjin Mining Company, the Jiangxi Copper Corporation, and China National Petroleum Corporation.

The Trump administration has made clear that it wants to end the forward-positioning of U.S. troops on what it regards as a seemingly endless war in Afghanistan, and the Taliban wholeheartedly agrees. China, in the meantime, has continued to profit from its bilateral commerce and investment in the region, and now appears willing to play a future military role in the area.   China has already established a military base in Tajikistan near the Chinese border with Afghanistan….  (Lawrence A. Franklin, Gatestone, 4/29/2020)

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TO THE POINT

  • A row between Australia and China over the origins of the new coronavirus escalated.   Scott Morrison, Australia’s prime minister, reiterated his demand for an independent global inquiry into the pandemic; it is widely thought to have started in a wet market in Wuhan.   China accused the Australian government of trying to make “political manoeuvres” and warned that such an inquiry could result in a boycott of Australian education, tourism and agricultural products.    (The Economist, 4/29/2020)
  • US Economy Nosedives With Worst Yet To Come — The United State’s gross domestic product (GDP) shrank 4.8% in the first quarter of 2020 – three months where the country’s economy was hit hard by lockdowns in response to the coronavirus pandemic.   The figures, however, do not take April into account, and as such do not show the effect of some of the most comprehensive economic shutdowns that have closed businesses and seen 26.5 million citizens file for unemployment benefits.  (The Week, 4/30/2020)
  • Coronavirus-enforced lockdowns in March clobbered American GDP figures for the first quarter. The economy contracted at an annualized rate of 4.8%, the steepest fall since 2008.   The April-June quarter will probably be worse.   Before the pandemic, GDP had been expected to grow by about 2% this year.   The Federal Reserve said it will keep interest rates at near-zero for the foreseeable future.  (The Economist, 4/30/2020)
  • The French and Spanish economies shrank at the fastest rate on record in the first three months of the year as lockdowns to curb the spread of covid-19 were imposed.   France’s GDP fell by 5.8% quarter-on-quarter over the period, while Spain’s dropped 5.2% by the same measure.   Economists forecast even bigger drops in GDP for the second quarter.   (The Economist, 4/30/2020)
  • News reporter caught on air with no trousers – A US TV news reporter appeared live on Good Morning America – without any trousers. Journalist Will Reeve, the son of Superman actor Christopher Reeve, was appearing on ABC News’s Good Morning America from his home during lockdown.  But he failed to realize that his self-framed shot showed that he wasn’t wearing the bottom half of his suit.  (The Week, 4/29/2020)
  • The City of Detroit has had to remind residents of the need to put pants (trousers) on when going out to check their mail.
  • 500,000 RECEIVE FREE MEALS — The city of New York is giving Muslims 500,000 free meals for Ramadan. These people are of the same ideology as those who attacked the city less than twenty years ago.
  • CHURCHILL A WAR CRIMINAL – At least one school in the UK is now teaching that Winston Churchill was a war criminal.  What’s next?  Hitler as a progressive who solved Germany’s unemployment problem!
  • POYGAMY BEGETS VIOLENCE (you don’t say!)    The Economist.  (More next week)

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AFTER THOUGHT

Through the corona crisis I keep going back to my childhood in England.  We did not have a television until Christmas 1959.  I was almost nine years of age.  When we first got one, there were only two channels, both black and white.   Neither came on the air until about 5pm (except on weekends).  There were two television news bulletins a night, both ten minutes long, one for the early birds at about 6pm and the second one in peak time, at about 9.

How would the Covid-19 outbreak have been handled back then?

With only a ten-minute news bulletin, there would have been no opportunity to whip the public into a panic, which is what has happened this time around.   There was no panic, either, during the Spanish flu epidemic in 1918-19, when the death rate was far higher.

Not everyone is panicking, but workers at a local grocery store and employees at our bank have both commented on how fellow employees are not turning up for work.  “They are just too frightened,” a bank employee told me.

Others avoid the daily walk they are allowed because they are too scared to go outside.

A first step to avoiding this over-reaction might be to stop watching the news.

In Matthew 24:42 Jesus Christ told us to “Watch,” to notice what is happening in the world, as we see prophecy unfolding.   Did He mean to “watch” for ten minutes a day, as in 1959, or “watch” the news 24/7 on any one of a dozen TV stations?   Or could we just read the local newspaper for ten minutes?

We can be aware of what’s going on around us in a few minutes a day.   When we expose ourselves too much to endless negativity it’s going to have a depressing effect on us, spiritually, mentally and physically.

I John 4:18 reassures us when it says, “Perfect love casts out fear.”  During this time of confinement we need to strengthen the love that binds us to our family members, people we can still spend time with.  We may not be able to visit grandparents, but we can Skype them or give them a call.

If we focus on that positivity, there will be less room in our lives for the negativity of the coronavirus, of the endless panic that is whipped up in the national hysteria of television.

One morning I got up early and turned on the local news.  It was so depressing, I flicked through the available channels (we don’t have cable) and landed on “I Love Lucy,” an old TV show that was on TV in the 50’s.  It was, surprisingly, refreshing.  It left me with a good feeling.  I certainly didn’t miss anything.  When it was over, there was plenty of time to contemplate the virus.

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”  (Phil 4:8).

MR         

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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)

 

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!

SUPER TUESDAY

States voting on Super TuesdayStates voting on Super Tuesday
ABC NEWS

California Triumph Keeps Sanders In The Running

Is Joe Biden the new Democratic frontrunner? It certainly seems that way, after the former vice president took a delegate lead over Bernie Sanders with a triumphant sweep of the southern Super Tuesday states, capped by a win in Texas.   Yet Sanders kept some of his momentum with victory in California, setting up what will likely be a long, drawn-out battle between the two wings of the party and their septuagenarian standard-bearers.

Elizabeth Warren – the Massachusetts Senator lost even her home state on Tuesday night, but remains in the race as of Wednesday morning – perhaps with a contested convention in mind.

Michael Bloomberg – the billionaire former New York mayor had planned to make a splash as he at last entered the race on Tuesday, on the back of a $500m ad spend. Instead he claimed just one small victory, in American Samoa.  (The Guardian, 3/4/2020)

Michael Bloomberg withdrew from the race later in the day.


TIME TO MOVE ON FROM OBAMA

He won them two presidential elections, but Democrats are increasingly ready to put President Barack Obama in their rear view, according to exit polls from the Super Tuesday slate of primaries, which showed a startling number of party faithful saying it’s time to move on.

Mr. Obama remains popular in the Deep South, where black voters play an outsized role in Democratic politics, but from Maine to Minnesota, voters said they are no longer thrilled with the man who brought them the first universal health care plan and flexed his executive pen to grant a deportation amnesty to “Dreamers,” to ink a deal with Iran and to commit the U.S. to curbing greenhouse gases.

Instead, the party’s heart now belongs to Sen. Bernard Sanders, the democratic socialist who won’t even call himself a Democrat but who has completely rewritten the party’s agenda.  (Washington Times, 3/4/2020)

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CORONAVIRUS – LESSONS FOR THE FUTURE

Fragile supply chains:    Decades of fine-tuning global manufacturing have given billions of people access to quality consumer goods at affordable prices.  That’s the upside of globalization.  But the same trend has concentrated production of important items in certain countries, creating new vulnerabilities.   For example, regions of China and broader Asia that produce most of the world’s smartphones have been forced to idle or cut manufacturing because of the outbreak.   The decline in Chinese factory activity has been so pronounced, it’s actually visible from space.   And US officials recently warned of drug shortages due to the shuttering of factories in China that make essential ingredients for some important medicines.

Fragile safety nets:    Well before the new virus emerged in China, an annual report by the World Health Organization warned that the chances of a global outbreak were rising and that the world was “not prepared for a fast-moving, virulent respiratory pathogen pandemic.”   It cited the usual problems – a lack of funding for public health monitoring and prevention, bureaucratic hurdles, and weak medical infrastructure, especially in poor and middle-income countries.   But it also warned of “a breakdown in public trust…exacerbated by misinformation that can hinder disease control communicated quickly and widely via social media.”   In the US, the safety net is further weakened by a lack of mandatory paid sick leave, which some people fear will compel sick people to show up at work, where they can infect colleagues and customers.   (Gzero World, 3/4/2020)

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RYANAIR BOSS CONDEMNS ‘HYSTERIA’ OVER CORONAVIRUS

The boss of Ryanair has condemned what he called “lunacy on social media” and “hysteria” in coverage of the coronavirus.

Speaking to Sky News, Michael O’Leary appealed for a calm and measured approach to the coronavirus outbreak and said “Let’s not have irrational panic measures.”  (The Week, 3/4/2020)

FlyBe became the first airline casualty of the virus, filing for bankruptcy on Wednesday.  FlyBe is a UK domestic airline.

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HOW THE EU RULES THE WORLD                                                                  The Brussels Effect:    How the European Union Rules the World

For many observers, the European Union is mired in a deep crisis. Between sluggish growth; political turmoil following a decade of austerity politics, Brexit, and the rise of Asian influence, the EU is seen as a declining power on the world stage.  Columbia Law professor Anu Bradford argues the opposite in her important new book The Brussels Effect:   the EU remains an influential superpower that shapes the world in its image.  By promulgating regulations that shape the international business environment, elevating standards worldwide, and leading to a notable Europeanization of many important aspects of global commerce, the EU has managed to shape policy in areas such as data privacy, consumer health and safety, environmental protection, antitrust, and online hate speech. And in contrast to how superpowers wield their global influence, the Brussels Effect – a phrase first coined by Bradford in 2012 – absolves the EU from playing a direct role in imposing standards, as market forces alone are often sufficient as multinational companies voluntarily extend the EU rule to govern their global operations.  The Brussels Effect shows how the EU has acquired such power, why multinational companies use EU standards as global standards, and why the EU’s role as the world’s regulator is likely to outlive its gradual economic decline, extending the EU’s influence long into the future.

(https://www.amazon.com/Brussels-Effect-European-Union-Rules-ebook/dp/B0822VCYFY)

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GERMAN ARMS SALES BOOM

Düsseldorf’s Rheinmetall arms manufacturer is enjoying a sumptuous upswing in sales for its arms sector and a record-breaking number of contracts.   Whereas the company’s automotive sector is marking a downswing in sales, in comparison to last year, due to 2019’s signs of weakness in the overall auto industry, the current boom in armaments is more than compensating.   The shareholders are “delighted,” boasts stock exchange reports.   At Rheinmetall, there is talk of a “‘super cycle’ in the company’s military sector.”   Western governments – the company’s current and potential customers – are engaged in a massive arms buildup. Whereas this year’s military budget for the Bundeswehr will be increased to €45.1 billion – nearly 40 percent more than it was in 2014 – the military budgets of the European countries together will be more than €300 billion.   The US military budget is more than US $700 billion.   Rheinmetall is benefiting also from the Arab countries’ arms buildups against Iran, but above all, from the buildup of the western world against Russia and China.    (German Foreign Policy, 3/3/2020)

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DRONES REVOLUTIONIZING WARFARE                                          Turkish Drones Revolutionize Warfare in Syria, Seth J. Frantzman (Jerusalem Post)

Footage of numerous Turkish drone strikes in Idlib reveal their groundbreaking and effective use against Syrian regime defenses and armored vehicle formations.   Turkey can’t fly its air force in Idlib due to an apparent ban by Russia and the Syrian regime.   But Turkish drones can fly.
  Video feeds show drones striking columns of infantry and armored vehicles near Idlib.
   Turkey’s widespread use of drones in Idlib may be one of the largest concentrations of drones ever used in this manner.   (Jerusalem Post, 3/3/2020)

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SDA’S AND ROME WORKING TOGETHER                                      Seventh-day Adventists, Roman Catholics and Evangelicals Sign a Historic ‘Ecumenical Charter’ that Affirms Faith in ‘One, Holy, Catholic Apostolic Church’

The document that was signed is a pledge of commitment to each other. Adventists pledged a commitment to Rome, and Rome reciprocated that commitment.   Make no mistake.   The churches that signed this document promised to uphold the principles of the Ecumenical Charter which includes affirming an allegiance to each other.

The Ecumenical Charter declares that the church is “one, holy, catholic and apostolic” and therefore the “inescapable ecumenical task consists in making visible this unity.”

The Ecumenical Charter declares that the churches are “called together in the unity of faith.”

The Ecumenical Charter calls for the “visible unity of the Church of Jesus Christ in the one faith and in witness and in common service.”

The Ecumenical Charter says that “the most important task of the Churches is to proclaim the Gospel together through word and action, for the salvation of all human beings.”  (AdventMessenger, 3/4/2020)

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TO THE POINT

  • America’s ​Federal Reserve lowered its benchmark interest rate by half a percentage point, the largest single cut since the financial crisis.   The move came after a pledge by finance ministers and central bankers from the G7, a group of the world’s biggest rich countries, to “use all appropriate policy tools” to combat the economic downturn caused by the spread of covid-19.   President Donald Trump recently repeated his complaint that Fed rates were too high.   (The Economist, 3/4/2020)
  • The World Bank pledged up to $12bn to help developing countries respond to the growing threat of covid-19.   The announcement came just after the World Health Organisation said the disease’s global mortality rate is 3.4%.   The World Bank’s aid will include a mix of grants, loans and other technical assistance, with priority given to the world’s poorest countries. (The Economist, 3/4/2020)
  • SUPPORT FOR ANTI-EU PARTIES ‘DOUBLES IN 20 YEARS’ – The vote share for anti-EU parties has more than doubled in two decades, according to research conducted by academic experts in populism.   The study found that since 1992, the first year in which there were free and fair elections in every country currently a member of the bloc, combined support for European far-right, far-left and other Eurosceptic parties has surged from 15% to almost 35%.   (The Week, 3/4/2020)
  • Lebanese Preacher:   The Muslims Will Kill The Jews, Who Will Hide Behind Rocks And Trees, The Jews Are The Most Cowardly Of Allah’s Creations; Jerusalem Friday Sermon: It Is The Religious Obligation Of Muslims To Bear Animosity Against The Jews  (MEMRI, 3/4/2020)
  • Indian migrants are driving a surge in citizenship as a record 211,723 people won the right to call Australia home in 2019.  (The Australian, 2/20/2020)
  • Last week, I reviewed the book “The Race to save the Romanovs.” In my review I mentioned that support for the restoration of the monarchy in Russia is at 28%.  That’s roughly the same percentage of votes any American president gets.   54.9% voted in 2016, which gave each candidate roughly 27%.  Bill Clinton was voted into office with a mere 22% of the vote.
  • With 36 seats, Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party will be the largest in Israel’s next Knesset.   Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White alliance won 32.   But with Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition still two seats shy of a majority, and his trial on charges of bribery and fraud due to begin on March 17th, his troubles are not over yet.   (The Economist, 3/4/2020)

 

US-EU RIFT GETS WORSE

Hello everybody,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great week.

Melvin   

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

US-EU RIFT GETS WORSE

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

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

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

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

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

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MUNICH SECURITY CONFERENCE

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

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

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TRUMP EMBRACED BY ENTHUSIASTIC INDIANS

“It was the Trumpiest of offers.

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

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

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

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

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ISRAEL NOW RECOGNIZED BY 161 COUNTRIES

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

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NEVER ENDING SYRIAN CONFLICT

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

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MACRON VOWS CRACKDOWN ON POLITICAL ISLAM

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

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SWEDISH MIGRANT CRISIS

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

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UK GROOMING GANGS TO REMAIN A SECRET

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

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

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

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

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

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

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GAY CONVERSION THERAPY BANNED IN MORE COUNTRIES

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

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

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

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

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

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TO THE POINT

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