Tag Archives: Department of Defense

IS TURKEY ABOUT TO LAUNCH  A RELIGIOUS WAR AGAINST ISRAEL?

The site is now one of Turkey’s most visited tourist attractions – GETTY IMAGES

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.

(https://www.algemeiner.com/2020/07/21/has-erdogan-launched-a-new-age-of-religious-wars/)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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. 

(https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/why-no-one-can-ever-recover-from-covid-19-in-england)

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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)

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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).

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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)

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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)

 

 

 

PARLIAMENT VS THE PEOPLE

After a mass operation to withdraw the whip from Tory Brexit rebels, Boris Johnson is far short of a working majority.’ Photograph: WPA Pool/Getty Images

In 1642, King Charles I closed down parliament.  It was the trigger for a civil war that ended when Charles was beheaded in 1649.

It also effectively ended royal power.

Today, if the current divisions in Britain result in another civil war, it will be parliament vs the people.

Ridiculous, some may say.   Parliament represents the people.

Not any more.

Not since 2016, when a referendum in the UK showed the majority of people wanted to leave the European Union.   However, the majority in parliament (about 70%), don’t want to leave the EU and they have been fighting to keep Britain in at every opportunity.

Britain’s new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, is committed to delivering on Brexit, to giving the people want they want. The deadline is October 31st.   He got the Queen’s permission to close parliament from September 9th, an act that enraged members of parliament.

Now parliament has voted to tie his hands behind his back.   He now cannot leave without a deal.   The Europeans may not give him more time, which means he would have to accept the deal they have already offered, a deal which keeps Britain bound to Europe indefinitely.

Normally, an election would have to be held to resolve the issue.   All  Mr. Johnson needs is a simple majority.   But the opposition Labor Party (and others) do not support an election, knowing they would lose.

Mr. Johnson’s hands are tied.

Sensing that this could mean Britain will NEVER leave the EU, financial markets and the British currency were up, a clear indication of where they stand.

A successful Brexit will be a blow to globalization.   Mike Pence, US Vice President, has just visited and expressed his support, including that of President Trump.

A writer for the London Times this morning predicted that in just two weeks Jeremy Corbyn will be PM and then the economy will crash!

This is a dreadful time for the British people.   “But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them:    “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.” (Matt 12:25).

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CORBYN’S NEW ECONOMY                                                                                  by Jim Pickard and Robert Shrimsley”

“A Corbyn government promises a genuine revolution in the British economy.   Labour’s leadership intends to pursue not only a fundamental change in ownership and tax but a systemic effort to embed reform in a way that future parties will struggle to unpick. “We have to do what Thatcher did in reverse,” says Jon Lansman, founder of the Corbyn support group Momentum.   “We have to take decisive steps to both achieve a significant redistribution and create a constituency of an awful lot of people with an obvious stake in a continuing Labour government.”   Labour has announced plans to nationalize rail, water, mail and electricity distribution companies, in addition to higher taxes on the rich.   At the heart of everything is one word:   redistribution.    Redistribution of income, assets, ownership and power.   The mission is to shift power from capital to labour, wresting control from shareholders, landlords and other vested interests and putting it in the hands of workers, consumers and tenants.   “We have to rewrite the rules of our economy,” says Mr. McDonnell.   “Change is coming.”     (“Jeremy Corbyn’s plan to rewrite the rules of the UK economy,” Financial Times, 9/5)

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US ECONOMY — SIGNS OF IMPENDING RECESSION

It can be hard to know when isolated announcements become something more.   Since last November General Motors has cut several thousand factory jobs at plants across the Midwest.   In early August US Steel said it would lay off 200 workers in Michigan.   Sales of camper vans dropped by 23% in the 12 months ending in July, threatening the livelihoods of thousands of workers in Indiana, where many are made.   Factory workers are not the only ones on edge.  Lowes, a retailer, recently said it would slash thousands of jobs.   Halliburton, an oil-services firm, is cutting, too.

In any given month, even at the height of a boom, more than 5m Americans leave a job; nearly 2m are laid off.    Most of the time, however, overall employment grows.   But not all the time.   America may or may not be lurching towards a recession now.   For the time being employment and output continue to grow.   But in the corners of the economy where trouble often rears its head earliest, there are disconcerting portents.  (The Economist)

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ISLAMIC VIEW ON TRUMP, JOHNSON AND ISRAEL

Fatah Revolutionary Council member Dr. Hazem Abu Shanab, the former Palestinian ambassador to Pakistan, said in an August 18, 2019 interview on Alhadath Alyoum TV that U.S. President Donald Trump will be re-elected in 2020 because American society has turned to extremism the same way that Israeli society has favored extremist parties for the past 18 years.   He added that the situation is similar with Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom, and the TV host, Sayyed Ali, said:   “We are creating a Hitler worse than Hitler.” (MEMRI #7431, 8/25)

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FIGHTING FOR GERMANY

“Recently a party represented in the German parliament (Bundestag) published its program for the military.   The program is no secret.   The voters going to the polls in 2 German states on September 1 could know this program.   Up to 28 percent of the voters have chosen the party with this program.   It wants to further militarize Germany.

“The 28 percent party is calling for a radical “restoration of the German Bundeswehr (the German armed forces).”   The military draft should be reinstated and the number of troops “be raised to 23,000 soldiers” – as a “first step.”   An additional 50,000 man reserve would be necessary.   The German military, it literally states, “would be authorized to intervene domestically.”

“The “foreign duties” of the Bundeswehr should be exercised “in every corner of the earth.”   In Europe:   it lays “claim to a military commanding role” – because of “Germany’s geographic situation and economic prominence.”  The highest command level will be a German “General Staff.”

“Germany should also be in command of the European NATO.

“And finally, being the commanding nation, Germany must insist on “participation” in NATO’s “nuclear capabilities.”   In other words, Berlin should have a finger on the trigger of France’s, and eventually also the USA’s nuclear weapons and be in a position to wage also NATO’s nuclear wars.”   (German Foreign Policy, 9/3)

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GERMAN ELECTIONS:   AFD SURGE IN SAXONY AND BRANDENBURG – BBC * 2 Sep 2019

Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party surged in elections in two eastern states, but not enough to oust the ruling coalitions there.   The centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU) of Chancellor Angela Merkel lost votes in Saxony but still came top with 32%, ahead of AfD’s 27.5%.    In Brandenburg, the state surrounding Berlin, the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) won with 26.2%, while AfD got 23.5%.    AfD is shunned by the other parties.   In both states the other parties will now discuss forming new coalitions – perhaps including the Greens – which will exclude AfD.

The SPD – nationally in government with the CDU – plunged dramatically to 7.7% in Saxony.   Support for AfD grew when it campaigned against Mrs. Merkel’s admission of nearly a million non-EU migrants in 2015.   AfD also drew on discontent in the former communist east over Germany’s closure of loss-making businesses, including coal mines.

AfD’s slogan “let’s complete the change” harked back to the 1989 “Wende” (change), which many eastern Germans see as unfinished business.   Despite huge investment from the richer west, for many people the economic restructuring did not transform their lives as they had hoped.

“We’re satisfied in Brandenburg as well as in Saxony,” AfD co-leader Alexander Gauland said, adding that his party had “punished” Mrs. Merkel’s conservatives.   But despite the gains, the result may disappoint AfD as the party had hoped to come top in Brandenburg, the BBC’s Damien McGuinness reports from Berlin.

The CDU state premier of Saxony, Michael Kretschmer, said, “I’m very happy with the result,” but added that opposition messages had made an impact on social media.   “The filter bubble on the internet is so powerful, and in 20 months you cannot reach everyone,” he told broadcaster ARD.    The CDU-SPD national coalition is due to last until federal elections in 2021, and a collapse could trigger a snap election or result in a minority government.

Mrs. Merkel herself plans to step down as chancellor in 2021, having already resigned as CDU leader at the end of last year.   (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-49544781)

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ISRAEL AND IRAN ARE AT WAR

Israel and Iran are at war.  Israeli strikes this week in southern Syria, western Iraq and eastern Lebanon – and possibly even Beirut – confirm it.

This war is a very 21st-century affair.   For now it involves only small circles among the Israeli and Iranian populations.   Parts of the air force, intelligence services and probably special forces are active on the Israeli side.   The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, its expeditionary Quds Force and proxy politico-military organizations in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon are engaged on behalf of Iran.

The war marks a hinge point in Middle Eastern geopolitics.   For the past decade and a half, the region has been engaged mainly with internal strife:   civil wars, insurgencies and mass protests.   These are now largely spent, leaving a broken landscape along the northern route from Iran to Israel.   (Jonathan Spyer, Middle East Forum, 8/28)

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ISRAEL FACES SERIOUS ESCALATION IN WAR WITH IRAN

The fact that Israel has found it necessary to attack targets so far from its traditional area of military operations close to its immediate borders is indicative of the alarming escalation that has taken place in recent months in the threat Iran poses to Israeli security.

Earlier this week, in Lebanon, an Israeli drone was reported to have bombed a Palestinian base that is said to be funded by Iran. Israeli warplanes were also reported to have bombed Iranian military bases on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus.

The very idea of Washington sitting down with the Iranians at a time when it is continuing to threaten the security of its closest Middle Eastern ally would be unconscionable.

The reality is that there can be no meaningful dialogue between Washington and Tehran on a future deal so long as Iran remains committed to its long-standing policy of seeking the wholesale destruction of the Jewish state.   (Con Coughlin, Gatestone, 8/29)

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CALL FOR AMERICAN THEOCRACY

The Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA) held its 2019 annual convention on July 5-7 in Philadelphia.   Just as with last year’s conference – also held in the nation’s birthplace — there was no shortage of extremist speakers sharing the podium.   But in contrast to 2018, this time the focus was squarely on the Islamist charge into the political sphere.   Speakers claimed that Islam required believers to gain political power, impose an Islamic doctrine on America, and fundamentally reshape American society.

Ayman Hammous, executive director of the Muslim American Society (MAS, the American affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood), stated that “Islam is needed at the spiritual level, at the social level, at the political level.”   Movita Johnson-Harrell, a state representative from Pennsylvania, called on Muslims to “occupy every space of this world.”   (Martha Lee and Benjamin Baird, Middle East Forum, 8/2)

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GERMANY AND FRANCE TO BOOST MILITARY PRESENCE IN SAHEL

 

(Own report) – Berlin and Paris have announced an initiative to increase the militarization of the Sahel. The initiative is called the “Partnership for Security and Stability in the Sahel,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel explained last Sunday at the G7 summit in Biarritz. According to Merkel, within this framework “troops and police forces” from five regional countries should be “reinforced nationally.”  For this purpose new financial means will be made available, French President Emmanuel Macron explained. This project is the EU’s third attempt to control tensions and conflicts in the Sahel with increased militarization. With much fanfare, the EU had launched the EUTM Mali training mission in 2013 and strengthened the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali MINUSMA with soldiers from Europe. In 2017, Germany and France had promoted the establishment of the “G5 Sahel” intervention force. The conflicts had increased each time and have already spread beyond Mali to other countries, some even involving ethnic massacres.   (German Foreign Policy, 8/28)

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NON-RELIGIOUS MAJOR FORCE IN DNC

The Democratic National Committee passed a resolution Saturday claiming nonreligious people are “the largest religious group” within the party, noting these people “overwhelmingly share the Democratic Party’s values.”

The resolution came forward at the DNC’s summer meeting in San Francisco, and it was pushed through with unanimous consent.   The lobbying group Secular Coalition of America praised its passage as the first time a major American political party has “embraced nonbelievers,” according to Fox News.

The resolution states that nonreligious people make up 25 percent of the national population and 35 percent of people under the age of 30.   Of these, 70 percent voted for  Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections, the document notes.   It continues that these people “have often been subjected to unfair bias and exclusion in American society,” asserting that many religious Americans have sought to infringe on their rights.”  (American Truth Today, 8/30)

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US MILITARY’S MOST OVERWEIGHT MEMBERS ARE IN THE NAVY

Sailors need remedial physical training

That could be one just one of many conclusions drawn by a recent Department of Defense study that found the Navy earned the dubious honor of surpassing all other branches in its rate of obese personnel.   The overall rate of fat service members is also up from recent years, with the percentage of personnel weighing in at obese standards climbing to over 17 percent, according to a Health of the DoD Force study.   That number spiked to over a quarter of service members over the age of 35.   For the Navy, the overall number of obese personnel was a shocking 22 percent.  The other branches reported the following frequency of obesity: Air Force: 18 percent; Army: 17 percent; Marine Corps: 8.3 percent.

While the Marine Corps was the least overweight of the bunch — a characteristic partially attributable to the Corps having the youngest average age of personnel — the Marines reported the highest rate of knee and back injuries.

“The Department of Defense, our nation’s largest employer, spends about $1.5 billion annually in obesity-related health care costs for current and former service members and their families, as well as costs to replace unfit personnel,” a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claimed.   Overweight and obese active duty military also cost DoD $103 million per year in the form of 658,000 lost workdays, the study found.

A 2018 RAND Report that analyzed rates of both obese and overweight troops painted a grim picture of the military’s physical fitness standards.  The study, featuring roughly 18,000 randomly selected participants across each of the service branches, reported that almost 66 percent of service members are considered to be either overweight or obese, based on the same BMI measurement standard used in the DoD study.    Broken down by service, the 2018 report lists the Army as the branch accounting for the highest percentage of overweight troops, with 69.4 percent of soldiers falling under this category.  The Army was followed by the Coast Guard (67.8 percent), Navy (64.6 percent), Air Force (63.1 percent) and Marine Corps (60.9 percent).

(https://www.militarytimes.com/off-duty/military-culture/2019/09/03/this-branch-takes-the-cake-as-the-us-militarys-fattest/)

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ALTERNATIVE VIEW

Over thirty years ago, Jeremy Paxman presented an above average in-depth news program on BBC2 called Newsnight. I used to watch it when I got home late from visiting or giving an evening Bible Study. Mr. Paxman, of Jewish descent, lives in England, but has the insightfulness of an outsider.

I’ve recently spent time reading two of his books: “On Royalty” (2006) and “The English” (1998).   I was surprised to see the following in the latter, on page 94. I reproduce it for your interest.

“Nineteenth century missionaries sent out to convert the colonized peoples of the world sincerely believed they were spreading the word from a New Jerusalem in England.   It was only a short step to the crackpot belief propounded by Edward Hine in a lecture in Chelsea in 1879 that Great Britain was Israel, the Americans the lost tribe of Manasseh, the Irish the Canaanites, and that Jacob’s Stone was really in Westminster Abbey.   It was, his followers claimed, the only explanation for the extraordinary success of the English people. According to this theory, the Jews of ancient Israel had been captured by Assyrians led by King Sargon, had migrated across Europe and eventually emerged as the Anglo-Saxons.   As late as the 1960s, an American, Herbert W Armstrong was repeating the “chosen people” theory:

‘Certainly there can be no mistaking the identity!   Take a map of Europe, lay a line due northwest of Jerusalem across the continent of Europe until you come to the sea, and then to the islands in the sea.   This line takes you direct to the British Isles! Proof that our white, English speaking people today – British and American – are actually and truly the Birthright tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh of the ‘lost’ House of Israel.’

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QUOTE

“Things have come to a pretty pass when religion is allowed to invade the sphere of private life,” Lord Melbourne, British prime minister, friend and mentor to Queen Victoria.