The sixth century Christian church, the Hagia Sophia, in Istanbul, is about to be converted into a mosque. Turkey’s religious government is increasingly hardline Islamist. It compares the Hagia Sophia to the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem and is a call to “liberate” Jerusalem from the Israelis. “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. ” (Luke 21:20)
Has Erdogan Launched a New Age of Religious Wars? by Jonathan S. Tobin / JNS.org
In a statement, Erdogan said that the reimposition of Muslim worship at the Hagia Sophia is “the harbinger of the liberation of Masjid al-Aqsa [the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount].” That’s a call for throwing Israel out of Jerusalem and the spot holiest in Judaism.
That this incendiary comment came during the period when religious Jews begin the period of mourning for the destruction of the ancient Temple culminating on Tisha B’Av [evening to evening 29-30 July 2020] is probably coincidental but still chilling.
(Tisha B’Av is an annual fast day in Judaism, on which a number of disasters in Jewish history occurred, primarily the destruction of both Solomon’s Temple by the Neo-Babylonian Empire and the Second Temple by the Roman Empire in Jerusalem. Wikipedia)
What happened in Constantinople was hardly unique. Invading Muslims did the same thing everywhere that they triumphed during the period when they spread their faith by force of arms from India to Europe. And, to be fair, Christian forces repaid the favor when they reconquered Spain and the Balkans by converting mosques into churches.
So when Erdogan echoes the Palestinian rhetoric of both the so-called moderates of Fatah and the extremists of Hamas about chasing the Jews from Jerusalem, he’s not just signaling his hostility to the Jewish state. He’s also making it clear that he wishes to claim the title of the guardian of Islam from Saudi leaders that many Muslims think are now tainted by their under-the-table relations with Israel.
Unfortunately, the Hagia Sophia precedent is also helping shape the discussion about Jerusalem.
The point here is not only to bring attention to the revanchist Islamist spirit that Erdogan’s boasts represent. Nor is it to highlight the fact that even Muslim liberals like Akyol are unable to be honest about the way Judaism’s holiest site was converted into a Muslim shrine that is inviolable in the view of world opinion.
Rather, it is to point out that the only way Jewish access to holy sites in Jerusalem, as well as that of other faiths, will be preserved is by ensuring that the city is not redivided as advocates of a two-state solution with the Palestinians insist must happen. The only alternative to the status quo in Jerusalem is not a platonic utopia of two peoples living happily together in shared sovereignty, as envisaged by anti-Zionists like Peter Beinart, or by returning to the peace parameters embraced by the Obama administration that would split the city. Erdogan’s revival of the brutal conqueror’s path is the only other choice. Those who care about religious freedom and the preservation of the holy sites should draw the appropriate conclusions from events in Turkey, particularly the way it is discussed in the pages of the [New York] Times.
CONFLICT INTENSIFIES IN LIBYA
The Libyan House of Representatives in Tobruk this week passed a motion approving Egyptian military intervention, should this prove necessary in the fight against the rival Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli. This latest move is set to sharply escalate tensions in the divided and strife-torn country.
The decision raises the still remote but no longer unthinkable possibility of a conventional clash between Egyptian and Turkish forces on the soil of Libya. What began as a proxy war now threatens to escalate into a direct conflict. For now, the fighting fronts remain static around the town of Sirte. The focus looks set to return to crisis diplomacy intended to avert a direct clash over the next period. But the escalation is very real, and reflects a dangerous combination of geo-strategic rivalries and long-standing ideological differences between Ankara and Cairo. (Jonathan Spyer, Jerusalem Post, 7/16/2020)
DIVERSITY TO AFFECT ELECTION
Is her racial diversity America’s greatest strength?
So we are told. Yet, even before America becomes a majority-minority nation, 25 years from now, recent changes in the composition of the country are going to impact both parties in 2020.
According to Brookings Institution demographer William Frey, between 2010 and 2020, while America’s population grew by 20 million, our white population fell for the first time since the 1790 census.
White Americans fell as a share of the population in all 50 states, in 358 of 364 metropolitan areas, in 3,012 of 3,141 counties. During that same decade, our Black population grew by 3 million, our Asian population by 4 million and our Hispanic population by 10 million.
What’s the significance of those numbers? In presidential elections, Hispanics and Asians vote 70% Democratic and African Americans vote 90%.
White folks, who made up 69% of the U.S. population in 2000 when George W. Bush was elected, have fallen today to 60%.
For children under 16, the white share has fallen to less than half.
Minority kids are now the majority in California, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Mississippi and Maryland.
Whites are also the oldest Americans, with a median age of 44. For Asian Americans, it is 37, for Black Americans, it is 35, and for Latinos, it is 30.
(Rising diversity is Joe Biden’s problem, too. Pat Buchanan, 7/21/2020)
US NEEDS TO UPDATE GERIATRIC BOMBER FORCE
This 4th of July, Americans witnessed flyovers of our airpower. It was a far cry from the airpower displays over Washington, D.C., that I viewed as a boy on national holidays in the late 1950s. Then, dozens of B-47 bombers literally cast a shadow over the viewers. On this Fourth, only three bombers were on display – a B-52 built in the Kennedy years; a B-1B built during the Reagan administration; and our “newest” bomber, the B-2, over 30 years of age.
To put the current bomber deficit situation in historical context, in 1957 the Air Force had 2,334 bombers in its inventory; in 1990 it had 411; the 2021 budget plans for 140. Yes, times have changed, but arguably the security challenges for the foreseeable future are much more complex and challenging than ever before. Historically under resourced and now with the likely prospect of flat or declining defense budgets in the future, the U.S. Air Force is confronting the potential of painful tradeoffs between modernization, readiness, and capacity. However, given the outsized mission value of bombers and the fact that the bomber force is significantly undersized, looking to it for near-term budget savings risks creating a major capacity and capability gap. Instead, the Department of Defense should increase investment in this critical mission area, fully funding bomber readiness, sustaining the current force, and ramping up acquisition plans for the new B-21 bomber. (forbes.com 7/18/2020)
REBUILDING WARSAW 80 YEARS ON
Several hundred members of the German Bundestag are planning major construction projects in Warsaw. The non-partisan group of German parliamentarians – ranging from right to left – is discussing transformation plans for the Polish capital, which had been destroyed in the 1940s, when war was raging everywhere. Warsaw could finally be embellished with historical sensitivity and German money from a “Poland Fund.” Berlin is discussing the reconstruction of Warsaw’s huge 18th century Baroque palace, the “Pałac Saski” in reminiscence of the Kingdom of Poland, when Poland was moaning under the reign of the Saxons (“Saxony Poland”) – a serious proposal from the portfolio of Germany’s Poland institutes. Therefore, Warsaw’s museums and libraries must also expect wide-ranging construction measures. They would be expanded, with means from the “Poland Fund,” to make room for cultural goods from Germany, where they have been stored in greater quantities – some already for several centuries. They had unfortunately disappeared from Poland, when “Saxony Poland” had been succeeded by quite varying regimes under German domination. Poland’s cultural heritage had been transferred to Berlin in a cloak-and-dagger operation, supposedly to safeguard it from theft and destruction. The Polish artifacts would, however, remain German property and only loaned out to Warsaw’s museums, as was so caringly suggested in the German capital. (German Foreign Policy, 7/21/2020)
COVID DEATHS INFLATED IN UK
People living in England have become increasingly concerned in recent weeks, as Public Health England’s (PHE) figures demonstrate a relentless daily toll of more than a hundred Covid-associated deaths, several days a week. This is in stark contrast to the more reassuring recovery in neighboring regions (Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland), where there are days with no Covid-associated deaths whatsoever. One reason for this is due to a statistical flaw in the way that PHE compiles ‘out of hospital’ deaths data, rather than any genuine difference between the regions of the UK:
‘Linking data on confirmed positive cases (identified through testing by NHS and PHE laboratories and commercial partners) to the NHS Demographic Batch Service: when a patient dies, the NHS central register of patients is notified (this is not limited to deaths in hospitals). The list of all lab-confirmed cases is checked against the NHS central register each day, to check if any of the patients have died.’
It seems that PHE regularly looks for people on the NHS database who have ever tested positive for Covid, and simply checks to see if they are still alive or not. PHE does not appear to consider how long ago the Covid test result was, nor whether the person has been successfully treated in hospital and discharged to the community. Anyone who has tested Covid-positive but subsequently died at a later date of any cause will be included on the PHE Covid death figures.
By this PHE definition, no one with Covid in England is allowed to ever recover from their illness. A patient who has tested positive, but successfully treated and discharged from hospital, will still be counted as a Covid death, even if they had a heart attack or were run over by a bus three months later.
This is why the PHE figures vary substantially from day to day. For example, 16 new deaths were announced on 6 July, but the following day, 152 were reported – today’s figure is 66.
It’s time to fix this statistical flaw that leads to an over-exaggeration of Covid-associated deaths. One reasonable approach would be to define community Covid-related deaths as those that occurred within 21 days of a Covid positive test result.
In summary, PHE’s definition of the daily death figures means that everyone who has ever had Covid at any time must die with Covid too. So, the Covid death toll in Britain up to July 2020 will eventually exceed 290,000, if the follow-up of every test-positive patient is of long enough duration.
Prof. Yoon K Loke is Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology, Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia. Carl Heneghan is Professor of Evidence-Based Medicine and Director of Studies for the Evidence-Based Health Care Programmes. This article originally appeared on the CEBM website.
NIKE USING SLAVE LABOR IN CHINA
In March, the non-partisan Australian Strategic Policy Institute, in a report titled “Uyghurs for Sale,” accused Beijing of forcing more than 80,000 Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities to produce products for Nike and 82 other brands.
The report’s accusations against Nike are damning. “A factory in eastern China that manufacturers shoes for U.S. company Nike is equipped with watchtowers, barbed-wire fences, and police guard boxes,” it noted . . . There, people have been kept against their will in inhumane conditions. This facility, a Nike supplier for more than three decades, produces approximately eight million pairs of shoes each year.
U.S. law provides that products made with forced labor can be seized, but those made in horrific conditions in China and elsewhere routinely are cleared through Customs and end up on the shelves of American retailers. (Gordon G. Chang, Gatestone, 7/21/2020)
GERMANY: TOWARD THE COLLAPSE OF THE SEMINARIES
In 1962, the year the Second Vatican Council opened, Germany ordained 557 priests. Almost 60 years later, in 2020, only 57 of those priests remain in the priesthood. The German Church, stuck more than ever in the synodal swamp, is struggling to find solutions. 18 July 2020, FSSPX
“This is an alarming trend,” worries Thomas Sternberg, president of the Central Committee of German Catholics (Zdk), who explains that “last year, there was one ordination for 11 priests who left for retirement.” A fundamental trend which does not seem likely to be reversed given the situation of German seminaries: “the number of candidates for the Catholic priesthood has decreased from 594 in 2011, to 211 currently,” explains Msgr. Heinrich Timmerevers, Bishop of Dresden-Meissen. A figure that reveals the collapse of the number of seminarians in formation houses. In view of such a catastrophic situation, the fruits of accelerated secularization and the silent apostasy of a large number, the only solution would be a return to Tradition, to the Mass of all times, to the philosophy and theology of Saint Thomas Aquinas, which would imply moving away from the novelties which have the Second Vatican Council as their poisoned source. Alas! The German prelates are not ready for such a rebuff and prefer to deny reality by further accelerating the revolution. Having sown the wind and harvested the whirlwind, the time of reckoning has come. (FSSPX.NEWS is the communication agency of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X, Paris, France).
IS LEBANON ABOUT TO COLLAPSE?
Lebanon, one of the world’s most indebted countries, is spiraling into poverty and political chaos after decades of economic mismanagement. Its government is seeking a $10 billion bailout package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but the IMF insists that Lebanon must first reform its bloated and corrupt public sector. So far, Beirut’s power brokers have resisted. Is Lebanon about to implode?
A crisis decades in the making: While coronavirus lockdowns have exacerbated Lebanon’s economic woes, the country’s financial crisis has been deepening for decades. Lebanon’s byzantine sectarian power-sharing system has brought the government to a standstill, while years of pocket-lining by politicians has crashed the economy and sent standards of living into freefall. (Even before the pandemic, the World Bank predicted that 50 percent of Lebanese could be living below the poverty line if economic trends continued.) (Gzero Signal, 7/21/2020)
TO THE POINT
- Another white guy was shot dead by police in our community. This one likely just snapped. He had gone into a convenience store early one morning and was told he had to wear a mask. He refused and started stabbing the 73-year-old man who had told him to wear one. He then fled. The police caught up with him in our neighborhood. He tried to attack a policewoman with the knife and she reacted by shooting him. Once again, it was not covered on the national television news. When it comes to the news, white lives don’t matter!
- I’m a little uncomfortable with the extradition of Prince Andrew. I have no sympathy with the man and feel that he deserves what he gets. Being a member of the royal family does not give him any special protection from the law. But it bothers me that the US won’t even consider the extradition of Mrs. Anne Secoolas, the lady who killed a 19-year-old young man in England when she drove on the wrong side of the road. Until she is extradited for trial, I see no reason to send Prince Andrew to face an American court. Laws relating to extradition and diplomatic immunity need a complete overhaul. The double standard here is making America look like a big bully. It hardly helps America’s image in the world.
- Joe Biden plans on big changes to the suburbs, making them at least 25% minority. That means more violence and more tension. Diversity doesn’t work. Enforced mixing will only breed resentment. And you can bet Joe Biden’s neighborhood will be exempt.
- Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s court case continues. Were there ever two more trashy people? Why does anyone ever listen to celebrities?
- What happens if Trump refuses to accept defeat? Donald Trump will be “fumigated out” of the Oval Office if he refuses to quit following his predicted defeat in November’s US presidential election, according to the top US Democrat. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued the warning after the president failed to give a straight answer during a TV interview about whether he “might not accept” the results of the vote. The idea of Trump attempting to cling to power may “seem far-fetched,” Politico says. “But the president’s comments have people chattering in the halls of Congress and throughout the Beltway. (The Week, 7/21/2020)
- 25 MILLION IRANIANS INFECTED WITH CORONAVIRUS – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said during a televised meeting of the country’s virus-fighting task force on Saturday: “Up to now, 25 million Iranians have been infected with this virus. We have to consider the possibility that 30 to 35 million more may face infection.” (Al-Jazeera)
- Iranian Spies Accidentally Leaked Videos of Themselves Hacking, by Andy Greenberg – Researchers at IBM’s X-Force security team revealed Thursday that they’ve obtained five hours of video footage from hackers working for ITG18, one of the most active state-sponsored espionage teams linked to the government of Iran. The videos appear to be training demonstrations made to show junior team members how to access compromised Gmail and Yahoo Mail accounts to download their contents, as well as exfiltrating other Google-hosted data from victims. The videos represent a rare, first-hand view of state-sponsored cyberspying. Victims included U.S. military personnel and State Department staff. “This kind of thing is a rare win for the defenders,” said former NSA staffer Emily Crose. “It’s like playing poker and having your opponents lay their entire hand out flat on the table in the middle of the last” hand. (Wired)
- Lebanon’s Financial Collapse Accelerates – Most parts of Lebanon are receiving no more than two or three hours of electricity a day and the traffic signals in Beirut have stopped working. These are among the latest symptoms of an economic implosion that is accelerating at an alarming pace in Lebanon – the result of decades of economic mismanagement, corruption and overspending. Economists are now predicting a Venezuela-style collapse, with acute shortages of essential products and services, runaway inflation and rising lawlessness. The Lebanese pound has lost over 60% of its value in just the past month. Bread is in short supply because the government can’t fund imports of wheat. “Lebanon is no longer on the brink of collapse. The economy of Lebanon has collapsed,” said Fawaz Gerges, professor of international relations at the London School of Economics. (Liz Sly, Washington Post)
- 236 European Lawmakers Call for Total EU Ban on Hizbullah – 236 European lawmakers have urged the EU to ban Hizbullah in its entirety and “end this false distinction between [its] ‘military’ and ‘political’ arms – a distinction Hizbullah itself dismisses.” (Laura Kelly, The Hill)