Tag Archives: Georgia

MALARIA, DEATH AND BABIES

    

We lost another friend this week.  She was 95.  A few days later, on the same day as her funeral, our youngest daughter gave birth to our tenth grandchild.   Grayson Gabriel, weighing in at 8 lbs 13 oz.   Because we are both sick, neither of us has seen him yet. (Diane has a head cold, which she could pass on to the baby.  A hospital is the last place you want to go when you’re sick!)

I’ve got malaria back again.

It often re-occurs at this time of the year when the weather is changing.  It’s also a problem when winter is moving into spring. These two periods of time coincide with the biblical holy days, which makes the problem very inconvenient.

Malaria remains the world’s number one killer.

The World Health Organization states:  “Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria.  In 2015, there were roughly 212 million malaria cases and an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths.”

It is not contagious. You can only get it when you are bitten by an infected mosquito, always, as it happens, a female.  So be sure to check the sex of the mosquito if you get bitten!

I used to have a “Far Side” cartoon I cut out and inserted into my Bible.  It showed one of Noah’s sons asking his father a question: “Should I kill the two mosquitoes now while we’re ahead?” If only . . .

Malaria and I go back forty years.

My wife, Diane, got it first when we moved to Ghana in 1978.  She spent the Feast of Tabernacles that year in a hotel room in Kumasi, very sick with a mysterious sickness, until a doctor identified it. It was our introduction to Africa’s major illness.  It’s not so long since West Africa was described as “the white man’s grave,” as half of all the whites who went there died within two years from the mosquito borne disease.   Modern drugs make it easier to handle now, but it really is best to avoid getting bitten, an impossibility really.   You can’t spend all day under a mosquito net.

A couple of years later, Diane ended up in a hospital in Accra with the same disease.  And I still vividly remember carrying our four-year-old son into a clinic in the nation’s capital, when he was in a really bad way. Even now, I don’t want to think about it.

On one occasion I was in Cameroon when I came down with malaria. I was in bed in a hotel room for days.   A Cameroonian we knew went to find an anti-malarial drug I requested, but the names in French are different.  It was here, too, that I first heard the comment that “when you get malaria, in the first 24 hours, you’re afraid you’re going to die; in the second 24 hours, you’re afraid you’re going to live!” There’s great deal of truth to this!  In that second 24 hours you just WANT to die.

A few years ago, we were in Zimbabwe and spent a few days at Victoria Falls, the most magnificent site in the world.   We took a “sundowner cruise” one evening.  Our tour guide pointed out the hippos (hippopotamus is Greek for “river horse”) and told us that “the hippo is the most dangerous animal in Africa” and added “except for the mosquito.”

Sometime later, I remember staying with friends in Kariba.  I wanted to go for a walk, but could not as I saw a hippo at the end of their driveway!

Almost thirty years after leaving Africa, I can say that I no longer have a fear of hippos; but I still don’t like mosquitoes!   In Michigan, the bigger problem is West Nile virus.  Mosquitoes are a problem everywhere.

I do have a little annoyance over malaria.   A couple of times I’ve had to go to the hospital for a shot.  But they never believe me when I say I have malaria.  They always want to put me through a series of tests, costing one thousand dollars or more.  Then they come and say, “You have malaria.”  “Well, I told you that when I arrived here four hours ago!  All I wanted was a shot of chloroquine.”

I now have a doctor who prescribes me an anti-malarial drug, which I can use anytime.  It saves me a lot of time (and money) in ER.

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DIVERSITY NOT A STRENGTH

Pat Buchanan has written an excellent article showing how diversity does not work anywhere else in the world, so why do we expect it to work here in the United States?

His article was inspired by Tucker Carlson who asked the same question on his TV show last week.

“Ethnic diversity, after all, tore apart our mighty Cold War rival, splintering the Soviet Union into 15 nations, three of which — Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia — have since split further along ethnic lines.

Russia had to fight two wars to hold onto Chechnya and prevent the diverse peoples of the North Caucasus from splitting off on ethnic grounds, as Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan had done.

Ethnic diversity then shattered Yugoslavia into seven separate nations.

And even as we proclaim diversity to be our greatest strength, nations everywhere are recoiling from it.” (“The Unpardonable heresy of Tucker Carlson,” PJB, 9/13).

Mr. Buchanan continues:  “The rise of populism and nationalism across Europe is a reaction to the new diversity represented by the Arab, Asian and African millions who have lately come, and the tens of millions desperate to enter.”

He points out that Japan has not encouraged diversity and does not have the ethnic conflicts that are afflicting other western nations.

Israel has passed a law that enshrines Jewish identity into the state itself; while China is taking active measures against Muslims in the country. Burma did the same and has been condemned for it.

Cleary, diversity doesn’t work and we will come to see that more clearly in the years ahead.

When Jesus Christ was asked by His disciples what would be the signs of His coming,   He replied: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:7).   The word “nation” is from the Greek “ethnos” and refers to ethnic groups; a kingdom is a political entity.

Expect more ethnic conflict in the coming years, including western nations.

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A GAY THOMAS?

THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE’ INTRODUCES INCLUSIVE GENDER-BALANCED, MULTICULTURAL CHARACTERS IN MAJOR REVAMP OF CHILDREN’S CLASSIC

–headline in Huffington Post 9/1/18

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IMMINENT MISSILE ATTACK ON SYRIA

“Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, And it will be a ruinous heap. (Isaiah 17:1) 

By an amazing coincidence, I have been reading a book on “Munich” while the current crisis in Syria has been building up.

At Munich in 1938, Hitler and Chamberlain met to discuss Hitler’s claims on German Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia.   Chamberlain famously gave in to his demands. The former British PM described Nazi Germany’s annexation of the area of German-speaking Czechoslovakia in 1938 as “a quarrel in a faraway country between people of which we know nothing.”

Similar words could be spoken today about Syria.

At the time of writing this article, President Trump is deciding on how to react to Syria’s use of chemical weapons on its own people. If the US does nothing, nobody else will.   In 1938 Neville Chamberlain, as British Prime Minister, was the leader of the western world; today it’s President Trump.   Less than a year after Chamberlain’s famous appeasement toward Hitler, Britain and Germany were at war.   It had become all too clear, even to Chamberlain, that Hitler was intent on global conquest.

There’s been plenty of evidence that Russia has similar territorial designs.   The Russians took control of part of Georgia a few years ago; this was followed by the conquest of Crimea and of eastern Ukraine.   Domination of Syria makes them the most powerful voice in the Middle East.  This role is growing – last month, Putin met with the leaders of Iran and Turkey in Ankara.  These three are now in a de facto alliance while Turkey remains officially in NATO.

Geoffrey Wawro, a professor at the University of North Texas, wrote a book called “Quicksand” (2010), on “America’s pursuit of power in the Middle East.”   Reviewer Rick Atkinson sums the book up well, writing that Wawro reveals “how an extraordinary tale of idealism, politics, force and miscalculation began and unfolded over the last century.”

The more the US got involved, the more the US was sucked in; hence the title “Quicksand.”   Why should we expect any other outcome following action in Syria?   Could US intervention lead to war with Russia?

“There was no reason for war in 1914, beyond the murder of an archduke in Bosnia.   As AJP Taylor said of 1914:   “Nowhere was there a conscious determination to provoke a war.   Statesmen miscalculated [and] became prisoners of their own weapons.   The great armies, accumulated to provide security and preserve the peace, carried the nations to war by their own weight.”   I wonder what Taylor would have said of Trump’s “Get ready, Russia” tweet.” (“Look at Syria and you can see all the elements that have led to world wars,” Simon Jenkins, The Guardian, April 12th.)

A miscalculation now could be fatal for the US, Russia and Syria.

SYRIAN COMPLEXITIES

Syria is a perfect illustration of the complexity of modern warfare and the geopolitics that complicate everything.

Syria was established after World War One and the fall of the Ottoman Empire.   After “the war to end all wars,” the Treaty of Paris carved out a number of new countries from the ruins of the Turkish ruled empire.   The treaty was aptly described as “the peace to end all peace” by a British general who saw a future of never-ending conflict in the region.   A century later nothing has improved.

Before World War One, Mesopotamia was a sleepy backwater of no interest to anyone.   The same could be said of Syria.   Bible students know that this had to change to fulfill apocalyptic prophecies about Israel (the Jews) and its neighbors.   The prophesied Jewish national homeland was established exactly seventy years ago, in May 1948.

Syria was a Mandated territory of the League of Nations.   France was given the mandate; Britain was given Iraq and Jordan to administer, again under a Mandate from the League.   Palestine was also a League of Nations mandated territory, given to the British.

After World War Two, the French left Syria.   It soon fell under the Soviet sphere of influence.   From 1970 Syria has been the home of a Russian naval base, the only one Russia has on the Mediterranean. The Russians are not going to give it up.   And they will support President Assad as long as it is in their interest to do so.

The US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 helped Russia to gain further influence in the region.   By removing Saddam Hussein from power and arranging an election in Iraq, the majority Shi’ites came to power, altering the balance of religious and political power in the Middle East.   Iran is the leading nation of Shia Islam.   An arc of Shia Islam now exists, from Iran through Iraq to Syria and Lebanon, roughly the same territory of the ancient biblical King of the North. Russia is heavily involved with the Iranians and Syria.   Turkey is now also with them, wanting to stop its Kurdish minority from breaking away.   The Turks are not Arabs, so this does not present a conflict for them.

Syria is not majority Shia.   Assad’s support comes mostly from his Alawite clan, a branch of Shia Islam, which amounts to only 11% of the population.   The Sunnis do not want to be ruled by Assad. Neither do the Sunnis in Iraq want a Shia government over them.  This is why ISIS formed, to “protect” Sunnis from Shi’ites.

It’s all very complicated.

No wonder the president is taking his time.

If he does nothing, he will be seen as weak against Syria and the Russians.  If he does something, innocent lives will be lost, but Assad will remain in power and Russia will continue as its benefactor.

A further complication came today when the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, announced that Moscow has “evidence” the video of the gas attack was performed by actors.   How does the West prove the film was real?

It seems like a no-win situation for the United States.

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European Immigration:   Nuns Out, Terrorists In                                                          by Douglas Murray, April 13, 2018 (Gatestone Institute)

  • When the same Home Office that forbade Sister Ban even to enter the country discovered that the young male Iraqi was in Britain, he explained clearly that he had been trained by ISIS.  He told the Home Office officials that the group had trained him to kill.   The Home Office promptly found him a place to live and study, and treated him as the minor he said he was but most likely was not.   He subsequently told a teacher that he had “a duty to hate Britain.”
  • Last year the Institute of St. Anselm (a Catholic training institute for priests and nuns, based in Kent) closed its doors because of problems it had getting the Home Office to grant visa applications for foreign students.   One nun last year was apparently denied entry to the UK because she did not have a personal bank account.
  • So, those who flee ISIS are turned away, while those who are trained by ISIS are welcome.

 

 

AUTISM ENTERS POLITICS . . . and other news

Pauline Hanson delivering her comments on autism in schools. (http://www.2gb.com/podcast/pauline-hanson-comments-on-autism/)

Pauline Hanson is an Australian Member of Parliament.  She has her own political party, “Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party,” and often speaks out on immigration and related issues.

This week she spoke out on autism.   Specifically, she is calling for autistic children to be separated from other children, so that the others are not held back in their education.

Our eldest grandson, Aubren, who is five, is autistic.   I drive him to school most days and collect him from school seven hours later.    Because of this, I interact with his teachers a great deal.

All are aware of his autism.  Their approach is very different to Ms. Hanson’s.

About half of the pupils in his pre-kindergarten class do not have special needs.  Those who do have special needs participate in everything.  In addition, they have private sessions with speech therapists and others to help them keep up with the other children.  From what I have seen, this works very well.

There could be a case for separating autistic children if it is found that they will benefit.   What Ms. Hanson is suggesting is that autistic children be educated separately as their presence in the classroom is having a negative effect on non-autistic children.   Again, I’ve not seen any evidence for this.  And with so many children with autism, normal children need exposure to this to understand it, handle it, and see these children as potential friends, not objects of scorn and derision.

Nobody knows for sure what causes autism.  There are plenty of theories.  Some of these are put forward quite volubly by their adherents, but it remains the case that nobody knows for sure what causes the problem.  What is known is that the number of autistic children is increasing.  It is now one in 68.

The correct name for autism is Autism Spectral Disorder.  There is a wide spectrum when it comes to autism.  Many autistic children function well in different areas; but there are others, at the other end of the spectrum, who find it difficult to carry on a conversation, or indeed, speak at all.    Communication is a major challenge for autistic children.   So are emotions and affection.   In addition, many autistic people need “sameness” – they do not adjust well to a different environment or any change to their routine.  We are anxious about Aubren’s first day at kindergarten in August – new school, new teacher, new environment; he may bolt, trying to escape from it as it could be overwhelming for him.  His teacher, Miss Sue, from the last school year has volunteered to regularly take him to his new school and new playground to familiarize him with his future environment.  The right teachers make all the difference!

Aubren is a delightful boy.   Everybody loves him.   He plays well with other children.  He’s affectionate and loving.  I for one am very much against the idea that autistic children should be separated from other children of the same age.   After all, when they finish school at 18, they are going to have to mix with others in the working world.   Why not start now?

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BRITISH COMPROMISE

The news from England can be quite discouraging, with terrorism and Brexit dominating everything.  Britain’s position on just about everything reminds me of a verse in the Old Testament about Ephraim.   In Hosea 7:8 we read:   “Ephraim compromises with the nations; he’s a half-baked cake.” (International Standard Version.)   A half-baked cake is of no use to anybody.

Julius Caesar put it somewhat differently, when he described Britain as “perfidious Albion.”   England is no longer ruled by those ancient Britons, having been taken over by Angles and Saxons shortly after the Romans left the country.   Perhaps it’s the weather, which is very unpredictable.

Whatever the reason, Mrs. May is perfecting “compromise.”   It’s been the British way all my lifetime.

Consider the following:

After a “terror” attack outside of a leading London mosque, she had the opportunity to boldly speak some badly needed truths.  The attack was by a “lone wolf,” a man from Cardiff in Wales who was obviously upset about recent terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists. He drove his car into a crowd outside of the mosque.   Nothing can excuse this, but it provided Mrs. May with an opportunity to say that people are understandably scared after the recent terror attacks. Instead, she condemned “Islamophobia” and said the government was going to stamp it out. Islamophobia is a natural and reasonable response to Islamic terror – the only way to defeat Islamophobia is by Muslims themselves doing something about terrorism.

Also, was the driver of the car really a terrorist?   He had no links to any terror organization, domestic or foreign.  Describing him as a “terrorist” puts his act on a par with the real terror attacks that have taken place, when they are very different.   His was motivated by a fear of Muslims.

Thirdly, Mrs. May is promising more security for mosques.   There is no such protection for churches.  What the prime minister is doing is inadvertently giving Islam a special status.

Today, there was yet more compromise, this time with the European Union, as Britain negotiates itself out of the 27-member organization.

Mrs. May announced this morning that 3 million people from other EU countries can remain in Britain after Brexit.   Jean Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, responded with: “It’s not sufficient.”  Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, was equally dismissive.   Neither man was elected by the people.  They are professional bureaucrats — with all the arrogance that comes with it.

The UK is going to find that compromise doesn’t work with the EU – or with Islam!   Britain will keep on compromising with both, until another Winston Churchill arises – if there is one.

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ROYAL DEPRESSION

It’s surely a depressing time for the Queen.   The multicultural dream she has spent decades developing seems to be crumbling.   It’s not just Islamic terrorism.   Even the fire at the 24-storey apartment block in London brought it out. Most of the residents were from other cultures with no understanding of the way Britain works. After an incident like this, there’s usually a government inquiry and then changes are made based on recommendations received.

On this occasion, residents were quick to protest and even riot, storming the local county offices who are responsible for building safety.   Mrs. May had to quickly promise new accommodation in a luxury apartment block.   The taxpayer will have to foot the bill.

It turned out the fire was started by a faulty fridge.   It spread quickly because of the insulation used.

In view of all these problems, it’s not surprising that nobody in the royal family wants to be king, according to Prince Harry in an interview this week.

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MEDIA BEWILDERED BY VOTE

I don’t know if the Queen has ever been to Georgia, a colony (now a state) named after her ancestor, George II, who reigned from 1727-1760.

Georgia was the center of attention this week due to a by-election in the 6th Congressional district.

As the election got nearer, TV news people were ecstatic at the prospect of a Democratic victory.   It had to happen as Donald Trump is so unpopular!  The election was even described as “a referendum on Trump.”

The party that represents the wealthy elite, the Democrats, spent more than eight times as much money contesting this seat, as the Republicans, now the party of the working man.   In spite of this massive outlay of cash, the Democrats lost.   If this truly was a referendum on Trump, he must be doing ok.

The BBC was totally discombobulated.   Commentators kept repeating that the president has less than a 40% approval rating, so how could this possibly be the result?   It won’t happen again when the mid-term elections take place in November next year, they assured viewers.

Haven’t they learned yet that polls are not reliable?

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ISRAEL’S TICKING TIME BOMB

“The southern neighborhoods of Tel Aviv have been overrun in recent years.   The number of African asylum-seekers and economic migrants now living there is approaching 100,000.

Some have been repatriated.   But most remain in the country illegally.

Israel finds itself in a conundrum – how can it turn away or deport those in need considering the Jews’ own history?   At the same time, how can the tiny nation of Israel absorb such numbers without taking a serious hit to its economy?

And time’s running out to find a solution.

According to Oved Hugi, a social activist from southern Tel Aviv, the “infiltrators’ birthrate stands at 10,000 per year.   That means 50,000 children in five years, and that should cause the Prime Minister to lose sleep.   South Tel Aviv is a ticking time bomb.”   (Israel Today)

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SAUDIS BETRAY REAL FEELINGS

On June 8, 2017, the Saudi national football team met the Australian national team for a match in Adelaide as part of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. The match began with a minute of silence for the victims of the London Bridge terror attack on June 3, among whom were two Australians.   However, while the members of the Australian team observed the minute of silence, the Saudi players appeared to ignore it and continued moving around the pitch. (MEMRI 6-21)

Why are people surprised, when Wahhabism is the official religion of Saudi Arabia? Wahhabis support violence against infidels (non-believers) and believe violence is justified to spread Islam.

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Canadian sniper makes record kill shot                                                                    A sniper with Canada’s elite special forces has shot and killed an Isis fighter in Iraq from a distance of 2.1 miles, shattering the world record for the longest confirmed kill shot previously held by a British sniper.  The shot took 10 seconds to reach its target and the sniper would have had to consider distance, wind and the curvature of the earth when taking aim.  (Globe and Mail) 

Refugees in Germany to be jobless for years                                                       Up to three-quarters of Germany’s refugees will still be unemployed in five years’ time, according to Aydan Özoğuz, the country’s commissioner for immigration, refugees and integration. The stark admission of the challenges Germany faces in integrating its huge migrant population comes as Angela Merkel seeks a fourth term as chancellor in elections in September. (FT)

GERMANY OVERHAULING DEFENSE STRATEGY TO COUNTER RUSSIAN THREATS

GDM von der Leyen

The Ukrainian situation is having a profound effect on Europe.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen is promising to overhaul defense strategy in response to Russian aggression against the government and people of Ukraine.   The Russians have been using “power politics and military force,” to get their own way.

The latest deal, Minsk 2, brokered by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, with the aid of French President Francois Hollande, failed to end the fighting.   It’s clear who is the major problem – yesterday, Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, was warning Ukraine to pull its forces out of yet another of the country’s cities, so that Russian rebels can take over.   There’s ample proof these rebels include Russian professional soldiers.   This is a blatant attack by Russia on the sovereignty of one of its neighbors.

Not content with being the biggest country in the world, the Russians clearly want more territory.   It may even be that Moscow is intent on taking back all the territories of the former Soviet Union. The fall of the USSR in 1991 was once described by Mr. Putin as the greatest disaster of the twentieth century.

It’s less than seven years since Russian troops invaded Georgia in support of ethnic Russians living there.   Less than a year ago, the Crimea was annexed.   Now eastern Ukraine is seriously threatened. Other countries on Russia’s borders now face the same prospect, as the western alliance is proven impotent in the face of Moscow’s aggression.

Watch for dramatic changes ahead in Europe.   As the US shuts down military bases in Europe to focus on needs elsewhere in the world, only one western European country has the capacity to fill America’s shoes.   That country is Germany.   The German Defense Minister sees clearly the need for Germany to reassert itself in the face of Russian threats from the east.

 

 

WHO WILL LOSE FACE OVER UKRAINE – RUSSIA OR AMERICA?

PutinObama_423201b

You would think it was 1914, instead of 2014.  

A previously unknown group of nationalists strikes a blow against a brutal dictatorship.   The  Russians decide to intervene to protect fellow Slavs.  The EU makes threatening noises; and faraway America decides not to get involved militarily.   Substitute Austria for EU and you could be in a time warp.   All we are waiting for is an assassination to trigger off a much bigger conflict.  More likely this time is an over-reaction by a trigger-happy soldier to turn a minor conflict into a major war.

The Russians are copying their 2008 strategy in Georgia, seizing territory inhabited mostly by Russians.  They have already invaded Ukraine.  As with Georgia, don’t expect a hasty withdrawal.   They are still there.

Russia is taking care of its own national interests.  Just like always.  They struggled for centuries to gain access to a warm water port on the Black Sea, finally achieving their goal under Catherine the Great.  They are not going to risk losing it now.

Russians remember, too, that during World War II, Ukraine was divided between communists and fascists.  To the Russians, the nationalists who have taken over in Kiev are fascists.   They have certainly succeeded in opening up old wounds, ethnic, linguistic and religious divisions that go back centuries.

President Obama called President Putin on Friday warning him that there would be consequences if Russia invaded Ukraine.  Within 24 hours, Russian troops were all over the Crimea, an autonomous region of Ukraine.   58% of the people in this area are Russian speaking.  For strategic reasons, Russia needs it.  Russia will keep it.  The US will do nothing, except for giving Russia a symbolic slap on the wrist, perhaps leading a western boycott of the G8 summit to be held in Sochi in June.

As with Syria last year, the US will lose face.   Americans may still think they are the world’s number one power, but the country is increasingly an irrelevant power.   As it makes serious reductions to the size of its armed forces, it will become even less important.  The United States is where Great Britain was after World War II – having fought two major wars, the country is broke and lacks the resolve for further conflict.   A deliberate choice has been made by Washington to concentrate on domestic issues, including a costly government controlled medical system, again following London’s course seven decades ago.

This does not mean Ukraine will be completely abandoned by the West.    The European Union is very much involved in the Ukrainian conflict.  Indeed, in some respects it caused the present conflict, offering Ukraine a closer relationship with the EU and substantial financial incentives.  It is this financial clout that will likely win out at the end, helping western Ukraine at least to break away from Moscow.

Interestingly, in a CBS report on the Ukrainian crisis, Germany’s leader, Angela Merkel was labeled “Europe’s de facto leader.”

Germany and Russia have fought over Ukraine before.

Russia has reverted to the use of force to resolve conflict.   Germany and its EU associates are using economic power.   The US has neither when it comes to Ukraine.

 

A likely outcome will see Crimea back in Russia, perhaps with eastern Ukraine.   Western Ukraine will more likely associate with the EU.   Armed conflict is possible between Russia and Ukraine, but not a prolonged war, as Ukraine is very weak compared to Russia.

Invading the Crimea may cause Russia to lose face for a while but President Putin doesn’t care and it will soon be forgotten.

The US, however, will suffer greater damage.  It’s been five decades since the Chinese leader, Chairman Mao, ridiculed the US as a “paper tiger.”   Now it’s true.