Tag Archives: Eritrea

ELECTORAL EARTHQUAKE IN GERMANY

‘The CDU cannot participate in a government under the elected minister-president,’ says chancellor Merkel. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

An electoral earthquake in the German state of Thuringia is reverberating across the country and its aftershocks are being felt in Brussels.

Berlin’s political establishment has been rocked by an electoral pact between the conservative Christian Democrats, liberal Free Democrats (FDP) and the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) that has propelled a local FDP candidate to power in the eastern state of Thuringia.   By co-operating with the AfD and ousting the sitting leftwing prime minister of the region Germany’s mainstream parties have “torn up” a post-war consensus to ostracise the extreme right, writes Guy Chazan.

Stinging condemnation has rung out from all corners — including the highest ranks of the CDU.   Before yesterday, the liberals and conservatives had vowed never to work with the AfD.   Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, CDU defence minister, lashed out at the Thuringian branch of her party for explicitly disobeying Berlin’s orders.   Elected FDP candidate Thomas Kemmerich is under immense pressure to resign and hold new elections.   Around 1,000 noisy protesters gathered outside the FDP’s HQ in Berlin last night accusing the party of getting into bed with “Nazis.”                      (Maureen Kahn, ft Brussels Briefing, 2/6)

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DAM BURST  — Germany shaken as far-right plays regional kingmaker

It has been a tenet of German politics since the Second World War that mainstream political parties do not legitimize far right movements by siding with them on any issue – but that taboo was shattered on Wednesday, eliciting nationwide outrage.

In the eastern German state of Thuringia, Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat party (CDU) and the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) both used the parliamentary support of nationalist party Alternative fur Deutschland to bring their choice of leader to power.                    (The Week, 2/6)

The parliament in Thuringia, in eastern Germany, elected Thomas Kemmerich from the Free Democrats as state premier.   Mr. Kemmerich’s shocking victory was made possible only with votes from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).   No state government has previously been elected with AfD support.  Politicians across the spectrum expressed dismay at the result.  (Economist 2/6)

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GERMANY’S FUTURE IN DOUBT

Germany was plunged into political uncertainty after the leader of the governing Christian Democratic Union resigned.   A protégée of Angela Merkel, the chancellor, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer was seen as a shoo-in to succeed her.   Then last week the local leader of a small party was elected premier of the eastern state of Thuringia, with votes from the CDU – and the far-right Alternative for Germany – to widespread outrage.   Ms. Kramp-Karrenbauer bungled the response. Previous gaffes had left her vulnerable.      (The Economist, 02/11/2020)

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TRUMP WINNING

With his personal approval ratings at an all-time high, the impeachment process behind him and the US economy booming, Donald Trump’s odds of winning a second term now stand at nearly 60% according to betting aggregator Oddschecker.com.

Add to this a Democratic party in near total disarray and the US president may be on the cusp of fulfilling his 2016 campaign promise to supporters that “We gonna win so much you may even get tired of winning and you’ll say please, please Mr. President, it’s too much winning, we can’t take it anymore.”  (The Week, 2/7)

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HOUSING COSTS

While the past several decades of globalization and technological development have lowered the price of most goods and services in the US, there’s been inflation in all the things that make people middle class: healthcare, education and, most important, housing.  Over the past decade, the cost of shelter has risen sharply compared with everything else — housing prices contributed a record 81 per cent to core inflation in summer 2017 and remain responsible for “the lion’s share” of all inflation in the US, according to a recent Cornell University study.   (Financial Times, 2/10/2020)

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The Observer:    UK child abuse inquiry – ‘We were abused every day.’     Decades on, children’s homes victims wait for justice.  This week an all-party report will demand a reckoning for the epidemic  of institutional child abuse in the 1970s and 1980s.                              by Yvonne Roberts, The Guardian UK, 8 Feb, 2020

As police admitted for the first time last week that there was an “epidemic” of  institutional child sexual abuse in church institutions, children’s homes, borstals, schools and foster families in the 1970s and 80s, chief constable Simon Bailey, the national lead for child protection and abuse investigations, said:   “We do not understand the true scale of it … untold damage has been done to victims and survivors.”   On 11 February a damning report by the all-party parliamentary group on Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse will be highly critical of the support and resources available to these children, now in their 50s, 60s and older, many of whom have spent a lifetime with their experiences not believed and redress unobtainable.  The report is titled Can Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse Access Justice and Support? and the conclusion is an emphatic “no.”   Based on two years’ work, it finds all the major services, including police, health, crown prosecution and courts, are failing to address a potential national crisis, with support services struggling to meet demand.   The Office for National Statistics estimates that 3.1 million people aged 18-74 were sexually abused in childhood.  However, only one in seven callers to the helpline of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood had previously disclosed abuse.                      (https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/fe)

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IRA BIG WINNER IN IRISH ELECTION                                                        (Sinn Fein has long been considered the political wing of the terrorist organization)

Dublin deadlock Sinn Féin has demanded a role in Ireland’s new government after surging to the highest vote share in the general election.  With counting still under way, the nationalist party, led by Mary Lou McDonald, took 24.5 per cent of the vote after pushing prime minister Leo Varadkar’s centre-right Fine Gael into third place with 20.9 per cent.   The centrist opposition Fianna Fáil, led by Micheál Martin, came second with 22.2 per cent but is likely to be the largest party in parliament because Sinn Féin did not run enough candidates to be able to take the most seats.                                  (Financial Times, 2/10/2020)

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MOHIUSSUNNATH CHOWDHURY                                                      Madame Tussauds Terror Plot Revealed

A 28-year-old man from Luton has been found guilty of planning a terror attack on tourist hotspots in London, two years after being arrested with a samurai sword outside Buckingham Palace.

Mohiussunnath Chowdhury, known as Musa, was convicted of terrorism offences at Woolwich Crown Court yesterday.                  (The Week, 2/11/2020)

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Next East Africa locust swarms airborne in 3 to 4 weeks, UN warns Baby desert locusts in Somalia will become East Africa’s next plague wave, UN agronomy experts have warned.   Climate change-driven rain has triggered “unprecedented” breeding, says UN chief Antonio Guterres.(Deutsche Welle, 9 Feb 2020)

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned Sunday that nymph (baby) desert locusts maturing in Somalia’s rebel-held backcountry, where aerial spraying is next to unrealizable, will develop wings in the “next three or four weeks” and threaten millions of people already short of food.   Once in flight and hungry, the swarm could be the “most devastating plague of locusts in any of our living memories if we don’t reduce the problem faster than we are doing at the moment,” said UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock.

The locusts were now “very hungry teenagers,” but once mature, their progeny would hatch, generating “about a 20-fold increase” in numbers, warned Keith Cressman, FAO locust forecasting officer. “Mother Nature” alone would not solve the crisis, said Dominique Burgeon, resilience director of the FAO, which has urged international donors to give $76 million (€69.4 million) immediately.  Swarms, which left damage across parts of Ethiopia and Kenya in December, could also put Uganda, South Sudan, Eritrea and Djibouti at risk, making it the worst such situation in 25 years, the FAO said.  East Africa already has 19 million people facing acute food insecurity, according to the regional inter-agency Food Security and Nutrition Working Group (FSNWG).                  (https://www.dw.com/en/next-east-africa-locust-swarms-airborne-in-3-to-4-weeks-un-warns/a-52312510)

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DECLINE OF THE WEST

The Chairman of the Munich Security Conference, Wolfgang Ischinger, is focusing the debate of the coming weekend’s conference on the insipient decline of the West.   Whereas, in the post-Cold War era western powers enjoyed “almost uncontested freedom of military movement,” this is no longer the case today, according to this year’s “Munich Security Report,” which Ischinger presented to the public yesterday.   Even the “nearly unrivaled global superiority in military technology” NATO had enjoyed for decades, is now endangered.   The report quotes French President Emmanuel Macron’s comment:   “We were used to an international order that had been based on Western hegemony since the 18th century. Things change.”   To prevent the West’s further decline, Ischinger is calling for resolute offensives in global policy.   Sectors of the elites in several western countries are now turning to an ultra-right policy. In Berlin, this debate had contributed to the demise of the CDU chairwoman yesterday.      (German Foreign Policy, 2/11/2020)

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US-FILIPINO MILITARY ALLIANCE TO END

The Philippines told the U.S. it would scrap an agreement considered a cornerstone of the two countries’ military alliance, a move the U.S. State Department said would have serious implications for the relationship.            (Wall Street Journal, 2/12/2020)

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TO THE POINT

  • We went to see the movie “1917” last week.  It was very good and quite intense.  It’s a good reminder of what it was like in the trenches.  Almost one million British men died in combat in what was historically the worst conflict in history.
  • I’m reading “Lost to the West” by Lars Brownworth (2009).   He’s a former American high school history teacher who has written one of the best books ever on the Byzantine Empire.   It’s so gripping I did not want to put it down.   There are so many lessons for the US now.   It was the divisions within the governing elite that enabled the Muslims to get control of what had been the world’s greatest “Christian” Empire for over a thousand years.  It was truly a great loss to the west!
  • Muslims have not stopped their advance into the West.   They now have quite a foothold in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France and other nations.   We bend over backwards to accommodate their religion.  Our new Michigan Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, in her State of the State speech, proudly proclaimed that the Executive Mansion hosted a Diwali (Hindu) evening and a night of Ramadan festivities (Islam) last year, both at tax payer expense.
  • Check out Sky News, a British TV channel that’s now available throughout the US.   I watch it on “Watch Free,” a free streaming service.  They have a good balance of British and world news.   Some of their correspondents are outstanding.

PARIS – THE NEW NORMAL

Spectators invade the pitch of the Stade de France stadium after the international friendly soccer France against Germany, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 in Saint Denis, outside Paris. At least 35 people were killed in shootings and explosions around Paris, many of them in a popular theater where patrons were taken hostage, police and medical officials said Friday. Two explosions were heard outside the Stade de France stadium. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Spectators invade the pitch of the Stade de France stadium after the international friendly soccer France against Germany, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 in Saint Denis, outside Paris.  Two explosions were heard outside the Stade de France stadium. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Whether we like to admit it or not, what happened in Paris on Friday could happen in any western city at any time.   In fact, it certainly will.

For once, we’ve been spared statements from the Presidents of France and the United States and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, to the effect that “Islam is a religion of peace.”  It’s now too much to expect anybody to believe such an outrageous claim.   Millions of people on social media witnessed Muslims around the globe celebrating the carnage in Paris.  Noticeably absent after yesterday’s attacks was any condemnation from “moderate” Muslim clerics.

129 people were killed and 352 injured, 99 of them critically, meaning they could still die or will be maimed for life.   Not all were French.   This was Paris on a Friday night – a lot of tourists from different countries will be amongst the casualties.   British Prime Minister David Cameron told fellow countrymen they could expect British victims.

One television news commentator observed “they are getting better at this,” listing a number of recent terrorist attacks perpetrated by ISIS — Libya, Tunisia, the Russian  plane blown up over Sinai just two weeks ago, Beirut on Thursday and Paris on Friday.  Not just better, more frequent, too. Mr. Cameron called a security meeting Saturday morning – London could easily be next.  President Obama did the same in Washington, faced with the sobering realization that US cities could be the next target.   The attacks on the French capital followed an assurance from the US president that ISIS has been contained.

The reality is that ISIS is spreading, its ability to stage terror attacks now reaching around the world.   Big attacks and small ones, like the “lone wolf” who stabbed four students at a university in San Diego just a few days ago.

Western intelligence services are, understandably, overwhelmed. The French intelligence service did not see Friday’s attacks coming. Six attacks may be thwarted, maybe more, but eventually one will succeed.   Little can be done if western countries are to continue to enjoy the freedoms that have been acquired over hundreds of years.

“Snowden has a lot of this blood on his hands”, said US Ambassador R. James Woolsey on Fox News Saturday.   Ambassador Woolsey is a former Director of the CIA and is now Chairman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.   He was talking about the damage that Edward Snowden did to western intelligence when he went public with a massive amount of intelligence.  This betrayal could be fatal to western interests at a time when the very survival of the West is at stake.

A friend in another state called me recently.  At some point we got onto the subject of world affairs and Bible prophecy.  He made the comment that “nothing seems to be happening in Europe at this time.”   This comment was made before yesterday’s events.  I expressed the opinion that a great deal was happening in Europe.   The massive influx of refugees and asylum-seekers is radically changing the social fabric of European countries.  Nations are losing their individual unique identity, as hundreds of thousands of Muslims from the Middle East and Africa pour in.

One of these, carrying a Syrian passport, was one of Friday’s attackers.  Other attackers included some who were born and raised in France and went to Syria to train with ISIS, returning to their home country to stage acts of terror.   Their loyalty to their Islamic beliefs trumped everything else.

Expect more of the same.  After forty years of division between East and West, Europe’s brief interlude of peace accompanied by great strides toward “an ever closer union,” has now become the battleground between North and South, between the European Union and Islam, between democracies and failed states.

Not all the refugees who arrive in Europe are Muslims.   The three biggest numbers of people come from Syria, Eritrea and Afghanistan, all Muslim countries that are racked with internal sectarian divisions, corruption and despotism.   Others come from democracies like Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone, seeking a better life and the welfare benefits European governments will give them.

It’s no wonder that David Cameron wants to end the system, but cannot do so within the strictures of the EU.   A few days ago, he published the four demands he is making of the EU.   If the EU can’t deliver, then he will recommend the United Kingdom leaves the 28-nation grouping.   One of his demands is that the free movement of people within the EU be ended and that no new arrivals in Britain from the EU should be entitled to welfare benefits for the first four years.   They would have to work first before they could receive anything.   British papers are claiming that 43% of new European arrivals are receiving benefits.   This amounts to 350 million pounds per week ($530 million), during a period of austerity imposed on the British people.

In addition, there’s the hundreds of thousands from outside the EU, from the Mideast and Africa.   All these arrivals are supported financially by UK tax-payers.   Inevitably, some will be agents of ISIS.

No western leaders show any sign of doing anything about this massive influx of potential terrorists.

After the January attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices, Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s President, marched arm in arm through Paris in defense of western freedoms.   A few months later, Mrs. Merkel led European governments to open their doors to refugees and asylum seekers.   Germany itself is taking in one million people this year.

This can only mean one thing – there will be more terrorist attacks like those yesterday.

As Daniel Pipes observed, each terrorist attack results in the common people moving to the Right politically, while the Establishment moves to the political Left.   (“Why the Paris massacre will have limited impact.” Nationalreview online, November 14th).   Mr. Pipes’ article also pointed out that the number of terrorist attacks by Islamists, since 9/11, is now 27, 269.   The figure was compiled by an organization called “TheReligionofPeace.com.”   Put another way, that’s five attacks per day.

It’s not surprising France’s President Hollande described Friday’s attacks as “an act of war” from ISIS.

All of this does not absolve the West of its responsibility.   “In an official statement claiming responsibility, ISIS carefully listed its targets, couching its choice as one determined by its moral and theocratic superiority.  Paris, it said, was a capital of “abominations and perversion.”   (“Paris attacks:  Bloody atrocity signals shift in ISIS strategy,” Financial Times, November 14th.)   The Christian Holy Book, the Bible, says that “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).   In the same book, God warned the ancient Israelites that disobedience to God and His Laws would result in terror coming upon the nation (Deuteronomy 28:66):   “and you shall be in terror day and night and shall be afraid of your life”  (Darby Bible Translation).   Western countries need to examine themselves in the light of these verses – changes can be made that would result in less hostility toward the West.

Paris is the new normal.

OBAMA’S AFRICAN VISIT

Barack-Obama-Kenya

Only an African-American president could say it and get away with it!

President Obama on his visit to Kenya and Ethiopia was able to pointedly criticize African leaders for their corruption, human rights abuses, abuse of power and unwillingness to ever relinquish office.

Nobody could accuse him of racism.

Mr. Obama said things that have long needed to be said.

In contrast to his speeches on the Middle East, which are always filled with controversy and generally seem to make things worse, his speeches in Nairobi and Addis Ababa could only upset Africa’s corrupt leaders.   Ethiopian primary school teacher, Hikma Lemma had just one regret:  “He took too long to come.”   (“In Ethiopia, a cry for basic freedoms,” USA Today, July 28th.)

Things will not change quickly.  Indeed, they may not change at all, but it was still good to hear the president address these basic issues.

“Ethiopia jails the most journalists in Africa after Eritrea, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.   Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have condemned the country’s human rights record.   And in May, the State Department expressed concern over how the elections that month could result in all seats being won by the ruling party and its partners.   The department noted lingering ‘restrictions on civil society, media, opposition parties, and independent voices and views.” (ibid, USA Today).

At the start of his African trip, Mr. Obama spoke candidly to Kenyans, warning them against the twin evils of corruption and tribalism.  He could have addressed both issues in any of Africa’s 54 countries and his listeners would generally have applauded him. Only the leaders would have sat stone-faced and emotionless, probably wishing they had invited the Chinese leader to visit instead of the American president.   China, much more involved in Africa, does not comment on human rights abuses or corruption.

Boldly, Mr. Obama even addressed the persecution of gays in Africa. Most African governments deny that homosexuality even exists in their countries.   Certainly, all governments are guilty of a double standard in this regard.   At least one country has a prominently displayed sign in its airport warning “perverts and sexual deviants” to stay away, but saying nothing about the many prostitutes offering themselves in all the hotels.

In Addis Ababa, Mr. Obama addressed delegates of the African Union, whose headquarters are in Addis Ababa.   Introducing him was the Chairwoman of the AU, who did not always tell the truth. She criticized the United Nations because Africa is the only continent that does not have a permanent representative on the Security Council.   In actual fact, neither South America nor Australia are represented, either.

The US president expressed incredulity that any president would want to serve indefinitely.  He said he is looking forward to retirement and being able to go places without a massive security detail.  He said it was particularly difficult to understand when so many African presidents have so much money, another reference to corruption, enabling leaders to amass great wealth while their people go hungry.   Unwillingness to leave office is also linked to corruption – African presidents fear being investigated for corruption when they stand down.

Underscoring his points was the absence of the current AU Chairman Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, one of the richest men on earth.   Mr. Mugabe has been president of his country since independence in 1980, presiding over a number of rigged elections.

Mr. Obama mentioned, too, that Americans don’t want to keep on sending Africa free food, but would rather teach Africans how to farm more efficiently.   He could have added that the continent would do well to encourage western (white) farmers to remain in Africa, as their farming skills produce greater crop yields.   Zimbabwe was once the grain basket of Africa – it’s people now go hungry because Mr. Mugabe evicted the white farmers.

Western reporters were also guilty of not telling the whole truth. Much was said during coverage of the African visit about what America is doing for Africa, with some focus on a program to help those with AIDS, a disease that, in Africa, is transmitted almost exclusively by heterosexuals.   Not once did I hear mention of the fact that the program was the initiative of George W. Bush, Mr. Obama’s predecessor.   With this one single program, he did more for Africa than any other president.

It would be nice to think that, with this one single visit to Africa, President Obama might accomplish something else on a grand scale – the end of corruption, together with real progress toward greater democracy.   The two together would boost the living standards of the entire continent.

It remains to be seen whether his visit will make a difference.   But his candid comments were certainly a good start!

 

AFRICAN DESPOTS BEHIND THE NEWS

yahya-jammeh       Isaias-Afewerki_244x183

At first glance, Eritrea and Gambia may not have much in common but both were in the news yesterday.  Separated by 3,000 miles, both are small countries that rarely get any attention.

Yesterday, Gambia announced its departure from the Commonwealth, whose leaders will be meeting next month in Sri Lanka for their bi-annual Heads of Government Meeting.  Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, will be representing his mother, who is the Head of the Commonwealth.

Commonwealth members are required to be democracies and to uphold certain standards of liberty and the rule of law.  Many members throughout the decades have flouted these requirements, but eventually the organization tries to do something.  A decade ago Zimbabwe left, anticipating censure.  Now it’s the turn of Gambia.

Like Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Gambia’s president is in power for life.  Opponents usually end up dead, one way or another.  Yahya Abdul-Azziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh seized power in a military coup in 1996, simply by being the first soldier to enter the presidential palace when the country’s first president was overthrown after over 30 years in power.  He heads the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction.

His human rights record is the reason he has left the organization, though he won’t admit that.  He is claiming that the Commonwealth is “neo-colonialist;” the reality is that he is a ruthless dictator who goes against everything the organization stands for.

Eritrea is not a member of the Commonwealth, having been colonized by the Italians.   After World War II, the UN gave the country to Ethiopia.  In time, this inspired a rebellion to seek independence.  Isaias Afewerki has been president of the country since it won its independence from Ethiopia in 1993.  Eritrea has never held an election.

Both Gambia and Eritrea are dictatorships, not unusual in post-independence Africa.   Dictators, by their very nature, like to control everything.  They also take 99% of the national wealth to support their lavish lifestyle.  The people generally struggle to eke out a meager existence on less than a dollar a day.

So it’s no wonder that a boatload of mainly Eritreans was heading for Italy a couple of days ago, 500 people seeking refugee status.  Unfortunately, the boat sank less than a mile from shore and about 300 of these pathetic refugees drowned.  This included a few children, all proudly wearing new shoes in anticipation of a better life in a new country.

Sadly, Gambia and Eritrea are typical of most of Africa, whose leaders bring to mind the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 20.  “You know that the rulers of the gentiles lord it over them, and those that are great exercise authority over them.  Yet it shall not be so among you, but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.”  (verses 25 & 26)

The president of Eritrea is named after the prophet Isaiah.  Ironically, it’s Isaiah who wrote of a time to come when leaders like President Afewerki will no longer be allowed to rule.  Jesus Christ is returning to establish His Kingdom.  He will “order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever.”  (Isaiah 9:7)

There will be no more despots lording it over their people, taking all the wealth for themselves, driving their own people to flee to faraway lands.

“But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, And no one shall make them afraid.”  (Micah 4:4).

Let us all pray “Thy Kingdom Come.”  (Matt 6:10)