The election dominates US news. There are many conflicting reports.
In Michigan, polls show Trump losing to every prominent Democratic candidate. Yet, at the same time, his rallies (and those for VP Mike Pence) attract audiences too big to be accommodated.
And note the following report from the Munich Security Conference (read article “Munich Security Conference,” further down). “Europeans widely expect Trump to be re-elected this fall.”
Meanwhile, the Democratic debate held last night in South Carolina, shows the party tearing itself apart. Amy Klobuchar said it best: “If we continue to tear each other apart over the next four months, we will see Trump continue to tear the country apart for the next four years.” Another House Democrat described the seven Democrats on stage as a “circular firing squad.” They should remember the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 12:25 — “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” words quoted by Abraham Lincoln on the eve of the Civil War. With Trump so universally “hated,” it’s incredible the Democrats can’t come up with a winning candidate!
The second issue that dominates the news is the coronavirus. Hopefully, this will not have the death toll of the various plagues that hit the world during the Middle Ages. Justinian’s “flea” (probably bubonic plague) killed a manageable 5,000 a day in the first month; then 10,000 a day. The population was greatly diminished. As with the coronavirus, it was spread through trade and international travel. It was the same in the 14th century, 800 years later, when the plague hit Europe again. The death toll was a staggering 50% of the people. Just over a century ago, the Spanish flu infected 500 million people worldwide, about one third of the world’s population. It killed an estimated 20-50 million, including some 675,000 Americans.
We will get through it, but it may kill millions before it’s over.
One final thought on the election: At least two of the candidates for the Democratic party claim to be Christians. Voters, however, should be careful here. All seven of the people appearing last night support a woman’s right to murder her baby! (To be fair, so do some Republicans.)
Have a great week.
Very early this morning, I came across a show on PBS World called “Gzero World”, with Ian Bremmer. Today they were reporting from the Munich Security Conference on world security issues. The first four items come from their website.
US-EU RIFT GETS WORSE
The risk of a major technology blow-up between the US and Europe is growing. A few weeks ago, we wrote about how the European Union wanted to boost its “technological sovereignty” by tightening its oversight of Big Tech and promoting its own alternatives to big US and Chinese firms in areas like cloud computing and artificial intelligence.
Last week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and her top digital officials unveiled their first concrete proposals for regulating AI, and pledged to invest billions of euros to turn Europe into a data superpower. (Gzero World, 2/25/2020)
Communal violence in Delhi: Over the past few days, India’s capital city has seen its deadliest communal violence in decades. This week’s surge in mob violence began as a standoff between protesters against a new citizenship law that critics say discriminates against India’s Muslims and the law’s Hindu nationalist defenders. Clashes between Hindu and Muslim mobs in majority-Muslim neighborhoods in northeast Delhi have killed at least 11 people, both Muslim and Hindu, since Sunday. We’re watching to see how Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government responds – Delhi’s police force reports to federal, rather than local, officials.(Gzero World, 2/25/2020)
Unlikely jihadist bedfellows: For years, the jihadists of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have been at odds over territory and ideology. Bloody clashes between offshoots of the two groups have become commonplace in Yemen and Syria, further destabilizing those war-torn countries. But now, strangely, ISIS and al-Qaeda linked groups appear to have joined forces in West Africa, recruiting locals and divvying up vast swathes of territory in the Sahel – a semi-arid area stretching across the southern edge of the Sahara Desert. Motivated by mutual practical interests and common foes – Western forces and local governments – they’ve set aside their doctrinal differences and are gaining ground in states with weak central governments like Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, the US military recently said. This all comes as the Trump administration is weighing a sizable drawdown of US troops in West Africa. (Gzero World, 2/25/2020)
US-China tit-for-tat retaliations: The Trump administration is weighing up retribution against Chinese journalists and state-owned media – as well as Chinese intelligence agencies – after Beijing expelled three Wall Street Journal reporters last week over an opinion column that criticized Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus. The Chinese Foreign Ministry, incensed by the “China is the Real Sick Man of Asia” headline, demanded an apology from the Journal before booting three of its reporters, none of whom had anything to do with the column. If the US responds in kind, it could lead to a cycle of tit-for-tat retribution and animosity between Washington and Beijing just as a preliminary trade agreement appears to have eased mounting tensions between the world’s two largest economies. We’re watching to see if the Trump administration follows through on its threat – or if it’s just bluster. (Gzero World, 2/25/2020)
MUNICH SECURITY CONFERENCE
The annual gathering of the Munich Security Conference provides a useful barometer for the health of the transatlantic relationship. Two years ago, Europeans were reeling from the first year of the Trump administration. Last year, they were resigned to that reality and determined to press ahead. This past weekend, everyone was searching for a savior to address critical challenges amid a lack of global leadership.
Europeans widely expect Trump to be re-elected this fall. After their shock at his 2016 victory, they seem to be bracing for the worst, but remain unprepared for the consequences. They inquired about Democratic presidential candidates, asking what Bernie Sanders would mean for Europe and whether Michael Bloomberg was a good compromise for moderates. (Amanda Sloat, Brookings, 2/18/2020)
TRUMP EMBRACED BY ENTHUSIASTIC INDIANS
“It was the Trumpiest of offers.
“A rally at one of the world’s largest stadiums. A crowd of millions cheering him on. A love fest during an election year.” (Lansing State Journal, 2/24/2020).
The stadium is the world’s biggest cricket stadium. I wonder if President Trump was aware that cricket was the preferred sport of fellow Republican, Abraham Lincoln?
An incredible welcome from the world’s second most populous nation. President Trump is hoping for a trade deal with India.
Sadly, it coincided with massive demonstrations against a new Indian immigration bill, which discriminates against Muslims. At least twenty people have been killed.
ISRAEL NOW RECOGNIZED BY 161 COUNTRIES
161 countries now have diplomatic relations with Israel, which is the highest number that it has ever been for the Jewish state. Increasingly, the community of nations cares less about Palestinian objections and more about what Israel has to offer. (Israel National News, 2/24/2020)
NEVER ENDING SYRIAN CONFLICT
At a four-way summit with the leaders of Russia, Turkey and France, Angela Merkel will seek to influence the future of the northern Syrian province Idlib. The summit, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on the weekend is to be held next week. It will explore options for ending the fighting in the province, where, over the past few weeks, Syrian troops have been advancing on militias. Usually referred to as “rebels” in the German media, they are, in fact, dominated by an al Qaeda subsidiary. The combat has deepened dissention between Russia and Turkey on how to go forward in Syria, raising new hopes among western powers for driving a wedge between Ankara and Moscow. Prior to the summit, however, specialists are pointing out that Berlin hardly has any options for exerting influence in Syria. The EU sees the overthrow of the government in Damascus as the precondition for granting desperately needed reconstruction aid. (German Foreign Policy, 2/25/2020)
MACRON VOWS CRACKDOWN ON POLITICAL ISLAM
“The problem is when, in the name of a religion, some people want to separate themselves from the Republic and therefore not respect its laws.” — French President Emmanuel Macron, February 18, 2020. (Soeren Kern, Gatestone, 2/21/2020)
SWEDISH MIGRANT CRISIS
“For the first time now, more crimes – in absolute terms – are committed by persons of foreign background than by persons of Swedish origin . . . The most crime-prone population subgroup are people born [in Sweden] to two foreign-born parents.” — Report by Det Goda Samhället (“The Good Society”), summer of 2019. (Judith Bergman, Gatestone, 2/26)
UK GROOMING GANGS TO REMAIN A SECRET
DAILYKENN.com — It’s a state secret. No one is to know the ethnicity of grooming gang members. The thugs are responsible for trafficking nearly 19,000 British girls in one year.
Who are these people? No one knows because Boris Johnson’s government won’t release statistics that reveal their ethnicity.
The truth is, of course, that the government doesn’t need to release the data because everyone knows the preponderance of the gang members are from non-white Islamic regions of the world. Nearly all are ethnic Pakistanis.
It’s akin to the n-word. No one dares say it, but everyone knows what it means. Authorities said that releasing the data would not be in the public interest.
Survivors accused ministers of making “empty promises,” while a man who prosecuted abusers in Rochdale called for the Home Office to “show some courage and publish” its findings.
It comes after The Independent revealed that almost 19,000 suspected child sexual exploitation victims were identified by local authorities in just one year, sparking renewed calls for prevention efforts. (Daily Kenn, 2/25/2020)
GAY CONVERSION THERAPY BANNED IN MORE COUNTRIES
Global momentum is growing to ban so-called gay “conversion therapy,” with bills drawn up in nine countries, a rights group said on Wednesday.
The United States, Canada, Chile, Mexico and Germany are among countries seeking to outlaw the treatment, which includes practices from electric shocks to “praying away the gay” and is based on the belief that being gay or transgender is a mental illness that can be “cured,” Ilga, an LGBT+ advocacy group, said.
Worldwide, only Brazil, Ecuador and Malta have national bans on conversion therapy, condemned as ineffective and harmful to mental health by more than 60 associations of doctors, psychologists or counsellors globally, the Ilga study said.
“The main driving force [for reform] is survivors with their testimonies coming forwards,” Lucas Ramon Mendos, author of the Ilga report, which said 2020 could be a turning point in the fight against “therapies” that have ruined many lives.
“A lot of awareness is being created through their testimony,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. (Rachel Savage, Independent, 2/26/2020)
TO THE POINT
- A headline in our local newspaper, the Lansing State Journal, appeared Monday. It read: ‘White supremacy seeps into public, experts warn.” It added: “Incidents show startling jump over the past year.” The article went on to show that violence emanating from “white supremacist groups” is increasing and is expected to grow further in the years ahead. There is no excuse for violence. But surely this is a reaction to the massive immigration of recent years and the constant emphasis on multiculturalism. Until both change, there will be a constant threat from the political “right.” It’s a reaction to the “extreme left.”
- There’s a plan in Michigan to expand the options offered on payday loans. These “short term, high cost financial products,” have trapped millions of families into a never ending “costly and potentially catastrophic cycle of debt.” (David Snodgrass, Lansing State Journal, 2/20/2020). The bill “would allow lenders to charge a monthly service fee of 11% on the principal of a loan, equivalent to an APR of around 132%. In practical terms, this means a borrower would end up paying more than $7,000 to pay off a $2,500 two-year loan.” Heed the following biblical advice: “If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you. Do not take interest or any profit from them, but fear your God, so that they may continue to live among you.” (Lev. 25:35-36)
- I went to a concert on Monday evening. The Academy of St Martin in the Fields played Brahms Symphony Number 4, along with a violin concerto by Paganini and a short piece by Mozart. It was a delightful and relaxing evening with good friends.
- Also relaxing (and gripping) is my latest “read:” “The Race to save the Romanovs” by Helen Rappaport was published in 2018. After the Russian revolution in 1917 the Romanov family were under house arrest. When the communists came to power later in the year, their situation deteriorated fast. Many people wanted to save them and their five young children, but no attempt got very far; eventually, they were all brutally murdered. The Bolsheviks were, if nothing else, thorough – killing all their opponents for over seventy years! The deaths of the children were particularly reprehensible. Today’s Russians have tried to make amends by canonizing each member of the Imperial Family. 28% of Russians polled said they would like to see the monarchy restored. But how do you restore it when you killed everybody off? (Interestingly, 28% is roughly the support US presidents get; when you consider that only 54.9% bothered to vote in the last election.) Maurice Paleologue was the French Ambassador to Russia at the time of the revolution. He said the only man who could have saved them was Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. The Russians had been fighting the Germans, along with the British and the French. The Kaiser helped Lenin get to Russia and, when he assumed power, entered into a peace deal with him, so that Russia could leave the war. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk of 1918 could have (should have) included a clause freeing the Czar and his family. Wilhelm was related to the Russian Imperial Family. He particularly loved the children. Why didn’t he save them?