Tag Archives: ebola

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

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The Middle East remains the focus of Bible prophecy with Jerusalem as its epicenter.

And Jerusalem is very much in the news just now.

Following an assassination attempt on a right-wing Jewish leader, Israeli soldiers shot and killed his assassin. The Israeli government then thought it prudent to close the Temple Mount to all three religions. This was temporary but a Palestinian leader declared the decision “an act of war.”

The Temple Mount reopened in time for Friday prayers but the city remains tense and the prospect of a renewed intifada remains high. At the close of prayers moments ago, Palestinian youth were starting to riot.

Meanwhile, relations between Israel and the US are at an all-time low, with Obama Administration officials using bad language to describe the Israeli leader, Benyamin Nethanyahu. The Israeli Prime Minister this week authorized the building of over 1,000 new homes in East Jerusalem, which the US protested. Natanyahu, a conservative, had little choice if he hopes to win the election scheduled for next year.

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News out of Africa this week has been very interesting, even without Ebola, which continues to rage in West Africa. The BBC today described the region this morning as one of the worst governed parts of the world. We used to live in Ghana, so I can echo those sentiments. Whereas Ghana itself has greatly improved, neighboring Burkina Faso is quite different.

President Blaise Compaoere was finally forced to resign this morning, after 27 years in office. He came to power in a violent coup in October 1987, overthrowing the previous president ,Thomas Sankara. I have been continually reminded of Sankara’s assassination throughout the years as a traffic circle in Ghana’s capital, Accra, is named after him. Ghana’s leader, Jerry John Rawlings and Sankara were close friends, both left-wing revolutionaries in the mould of Che Guevara.

Their devotion to revolutionary fervor did not, however, deter them from personal gain while in office. Compaoere was just the same.

The capital of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou, has witnessed considerable violence for some days now, following the president’s request to the national assembly to approve a change to the constitution, which would allow him another 15 years in office. Tired of all the corruption, the people rose up and said no. Sadly, though, whoever takes over is likely to be just as corrupt. Coups and corruption are the order of the day throughout the continent of Africa. With each change of president, there is short-lived hope of real change,  hope that is soon dashed with the first signs of corruption.

Events in Burkina Faso bring to mind Christ’s profound observation on gentile government:   “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.” (Matt 20:25).   Abuse of power in most African countries is an every day occurrence.

A more orderly transition is taking place in Zambia, another African country considerably to the south and east of Burkina Faso. The 77-year-old President of Zambia, Michael Sata, died in London earlier this week while undergoing medical treatment. Under the constitution, his Vice President is taking over and must preside over an election within 90 days. He himself cannot stand for election as his parents were not born in Zambia, a constitutional requirement when standing for the office of president. What is remarkable is that the interim president is Guy Scott, a white man born in Livingstone in what was then Northern Rhodesia. His ancestry is Scottish. This is the first white man to rule an African nation since F.W. deKlerk, President of South Africa in the last years of apartheid.

Unlike Burkina Faso, Zambia has been quite stable since independence, fifty years ago. Under its post independence leader, Kenneth Kaunda, it pursued a socialist course that set it back economically. But, in recent years, it has been catching up.

Zambia and Ghana are two countries that give some hope to Africa. Sadly, Burkina Faso is another country that reminds us of Africa’s tumultuous post-colonial history.

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I’ve often wondered if Vladimir Putin, Russia’s eternal leader, might one day have himself proclaimed Czar.  His determined swagger through the Czar’s palaces conjure up images of a bygone era.

A friend has just sent me a couple of articles showing that support for a monarchical form of government is growing in both Russia and Rumania.

According to the 24/7 news channel, “Russia Today”, quoting the All Russia Center for Public Opinion, almost a third of Russians support restoration of the monarchy. Only 6% feel that a candidate must be from the Romanov dynasty that ruled Russia for over 300 years.   The vast majority feel the Czar must be Russian Orthodox. 13% feel a prominent Russian could fill the role (Putin?), but a further question and answer showed that 80% feel that no contemporary Russian can fit the role. So, that leaves Putin out. The results were announced by the head of the organization, Valery Fedorov, at a Moscow conference dedicated to the 400th anniversary of the Romanov Russian royal house.

In Rumania, the current Prime Minister, Victor Ponta, is running for the figurehead position of president. If he succeeds, he is promising to hold a referendum on restoration of the monarchy, which was abolished by the communists in 1947. King Michael is still alive, aged 93, and is well thought of in the country.

As disillusionment with the present systems of government grows, nostalgia for an older, more stable and seemingly better time will increase. But it remains the case that only a dramatic upheaval is likely to result in the restoration of ancient crowns.

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TRUTH ABOUT EBOLA

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Dr. Joia Mukharjee says racism is to blame for the slow response to the Ebola epidemic in Liberia and other African countries. Mukharjee is a professor at Harvard Medical School and chief medical officer at the Boston based non-profit Partners in Health.

According to PRI (Public Radio International), Mukharjee said: “I think it’s easy for the world — the powerful world, who are largely non-African, non-people of color — to ignore the suffering of poor, black people.”

It’s difficult to see what she’s talking about when most (all?) of the volunteers who go over there to help are white. The two American doctors who almost died from Ebola were both Caucasian. And only the white western world is sending any help.

Perhaps the lady has never been to Liberia.

Thirty years ago, I used to visit Liberia regularly, where I took care of a congregation.

Liberia is an interesting country. It was founded by African-Americans, freed American slaves, who were returning to Africa in the early years of the nineteenth century. They were part of the “Back to Africa” movement. They called their country Liberia, meaning freedom. Their capital was named after the American president at the time, Monrovia.

Until 1980 the descendants of the original eleven families who settled there, ruled the country.   95% of the population was native African, members of local tribes. It was a unique colonial situation, where both the rulers and the ruled were black.

When the natives finally overthrew their oppressors, it was really bloody, leading eventually to ethnic conflict between the tribes. Visiting Liberia became very unpleasant and dangerous.

It’s safer now but still has serious problems.

Liberia did not receive any of the benefits of colonialism because it was not part of a European empire. Its infrastructure and health care are very limited. At the time I was going there, only 5% of the people were literate, the lowest rate in Africa.

Ignorance and superstition play a major role in prolonging the Ebola outbreak. This is not unique to Ebola – AIDS is very similar. In Europe, so was the Black Death in the fourteenth century.

Health workers have been attacked in West Africa, as people blame them for the spread of the disease. Eight health workers were murdered in neighboring Guinea a few days ago. Their attackers thought they were spreading the disease.

When victims are quickly buried to stop the spread of Ebola, they are often dug up again by relatives anxious to put them through traditional burial rites. Again, this aids the spread of the potentially fatal illness.

Western missionaries and medical volunteers are also suspect. It’s inconceivable to the local people that anybody would risk their own lives to help them, so they are often accused of being CIA. They also risk being labeled “racist” when they clearly are not, or they wouldn’t be over there in the first place.

Here’s another way we can help. I’ve spent months in the hospital this year. About half of the doctors and nurses working in the two hospitals are from overseas. They come from poorer countries to better themselves. But they are desperately needed in the countries they came from. We need to look at this and see what we can do to help countries like Liberia fight outbreaks like Ebola using the talents of their own people.

NEWS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED

News

“Based on current trends China’s economy will overtake America’s in purchasing power terms within the next few years . . . The US is now no longer the world’s sole economic superpower and indeed its share of world output . . . has slipped below the 20% level which we have seen was a useful sign historically of a single dominant economic superpower.” (“America is very close to losing its place in the world as #1.” Deutsche Bank’s Jim Reid is quoted.)

Rapidly gaining on the US is China. “Reid offered this prescient quote from Napoleon Bonaparte: ‘Let China sleep, for when she awakes, she will shake the world.’”

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Turkey is key to dealing with ISIS.

This Middle Eastern nation is the second biggest military power in NATO and is a long-term US ally.   But its new president, former prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is not the secularist his predecessors have been.   Rather, he’s a more religious Sunni Muslim. As ISIS is Sunni, Erdogan’s loyalty to the US is now in doubt. This is serious for the United States – American nuclear missiles are based in the country.

Turkey was also a long time friend of Israel. Erdogan is now comparing Israel to Hitler.

CBS’s security expert, Michael Morrell, said Monday that there are four Islamic terrorist groups that seriously threaten the West. He said that ISIS is not the greatest threat. That accolade goes to ‘Al-Qaeda in the Yemen.’

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Scotland votes tomorrow on breaking away from the United Kingdom. According to opinion polls, the two sides are running neck and neck. If the “Yes” vote wins, there will likely be a financial upheaval.   Already, the Royal Bank of Scotland, once the world’s biggest bank, is saying it will move its HQ from Scotland to London. Other big companies have also said they will head south.

Scotland depends on London for roughly 10% of its spending, money that will no longer be forthcoming. Additionally, breaking away from the UK will leave Scotland with no currency – it will have to join the eurozone, giving Germany effective control over government spending.

Assuming a “yes” vote, there will be eighteen months of discussions aimed at a manageable divorce, before the new country receives its independence.

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The Obama Administration is sending 3,000 US troops to West Africa, mainly Liberia.

The same administration reluctantly agreed to send 500 military advisers to Iraq to train Iraqis to fight ISIS.

Which poses the greatest threat to the United States, ISIS or Ebola?