Tag Archives: Jonathan Spyer

KURDS ‘STABBED IN BACK’ BY US

The SDF was Washington’s main ally in Syria in the fight against ISIL [File: Maya Alleruzzo/AP Photo]
The US President Donald Trump has announced that an ally of the United States, Turkey, may attack and invade another ally, the Kurds, who fought with the US against ISIS.

Kurds warn Turkish offensive will bring ‘chaos once again’

Several of Donald Trump’s most loyal Republican allies have turned on him over his decision to pull US troops out of north-eastern Syria. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said the withdrawal would benefit Russia and Iran, while Senator Lindsey Graham – usually an outspoken defender of the president – warned that abandoning the Kurds in the region to allow a Turkish military offensive would be “a stain on America’s honor.”

War zone — Turkish forces are already massing near the border with north-eastern Syria as US troops withdraw.  A spokesperson for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said the area would soon “turn into a war zone.”

Civilian suffering — Trump’s rash decision opens the way for a vicious struggle between the Kurds and Turkey’s military, says Simon Tisdall, who warns of war crimes and fresh civilian suffering ahead.   (The Guardian, 10/8)

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PARIS POLICE KILLED BY ISLAMIST

The knife attacker who killed four of his colleagues at Paris police headquarters this week showed signs of radicalization and appears to have planned his assault, French authorities said on Saturday. France’s anti-terror prosecutor said several witnesses had said the attacker — a 45-year-old IT professional who had been working at the Intelligence Directorate of the Paris Police Headquarters since 2003 — had adhered to “a radical vision of Islam.”   He had converted to the religion about 10 years ago.   On Thursday he killed four of his colleagues in an attack that lasted less than 10 minutes in the centre of Paris near Notre-Dame cathedral before being shot dead by an armed officer.

The anti-terror prosecutor took over the investigation on Friday after police examined the attacker’s mobile phone and questioned his associates, including his wife.   On the morning of the attack, said the prosecutor at a press conference, the perpetrator had exchanged 33 text messages with his wife and all of a religious nature, ending with the phrase “Allahu akbar [God is great]”.   He sent the messages 30 minutes before he bought the knives used in the attack.

The prosecutor said that the attacker had probably had contacts with members of the Salafist movement, a radical form of Islam, adding that the investigations had revealed his “approval for certain atrocities committed in the name of that religion,” including the deadly assault in 2015 against satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and that he had changed his manner of dress over the past few months.

According to French media the attacker’s wife has described how he had begun hearing voices the night before the attack.   Over the past four years Paris has been hit by numerous large-scale and deadly attacks, including at the Bataclan theatre in November 2015 when extremists killed 130 people in the deadliest Islamist terror attack to strike France.  (Paris police attacker showed signs of radicalization, David Keohane, Financial Times, 10/5).

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Israel and Gulf states working on ‘historic pact’ to end conflict between them (Times of Israel * 5 Oct 2019)

Israel is reportedly negotiating with several Gulf states on a “non-aggression pact” between them as they face off against an increasingly emboldened Iran.   The deal, which Channel 12 news described as potentially “historic,” aims to put an end to the state of conflict between the Gulf states and Israel, and reportedly provides for friendly relations, cooperation in a variety of fields, and no war or incitement against each other.

Advancing the Israeli initiative, Foreign Minister Israel Katz met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last month with several foreign ministers from Arab Gulf states, Channel 12 news reported Saturday night.   There was no immediate comment from the Foreign Ministry..   (https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-and-gulf-states-said-working-on-non-aggression-pact-as-they-face-iran/)

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Former MidEast envoy:   ‘anti-Iran alliance crumbling’
Times of Israel * 5 Oct 2019

Sensing US reluctance to respond forcefully to Iranian aggression in the region, and following the devastating September attack on its oil facilities blamed on Tehran, Saudi Arabia is quietly moving toward possible rapprochement with the Islamic Republic, according to multiple media reports.    The New York Times reported Friday that the Trump administration’s failure to react militarily to the September 14 missile and drone attack on Saudi oil facilities, which jolted global oil prices and temporarily knocked out nearly 6 percent of the world’s daily crude production, had led Riyadh to recalculate.

“The worst outcome for the Saudis is to move to a confrontation with Iran expecting the US to support them and find out they won’t,” Philip Gordon, a former White House Middle East coordinator, told the Times.   “This administration has shown it’s not really ready to take on Iran.”   . . . Saudi Arabia gave a “positive” response Friday to a truce offer from the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen and called for its implementation.   Saeed Shariati, a political analyst in Tehran, told the New York Times:   “We have reached the peak of Saudi-Iran tensions and both sides have concluded this balance of fear is detrimental to their interests.” (https://www.timesofisrael.com/saudis-said-moving-toward-detente-with-iran-amid-us-reluctance-to-act-militarily/)

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CHINESE LOANS TO FINANCE NEW ZIMBABWE CAPITAL IN POVERTY STRICKEN NATION

China has sunk her dragon claws deeper into Zimbabwe’s social, political and economic bone marrow by reportedly acquiring vast tracks of land in Mount Hampden, the new capital city of the country, thus effectively buying and owning it for a song, well before construction is even completed, Spotlight Zimbabwe, has been told.

Diplomatic and high level government sources at the ministry of lands, agriculture, and rural resettlement this week said Beijing had also struck a deal to provide the more than US$20 billion needed by government to develop the city, which is expected to house a new reserve bank, parliament building, international airport, government departments, presidential palace, shopping malls, five new opulent residential suburbs, and industrial sites.

Other features of the new city include a university, technology centre, schools, churches, hospitals, and official residences for the speaker of parliament and senate president. (Cynthia Goba, Zimbabwe News, 10/4)

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ISRAELI MAJORITY WANT MORE SECULAR STATE

A new survey by Hiddush, an Israeli organization that supports religious pluralism, shows that 57 percent of the Jewish Israeli electorate does not want the incoming governing coalition to include or depend on parties that are Charedi Orthodox, commonly referred to as ultra-Orthodox in the United States.  That 57 percent majority also wants the coalition to support religious freedom in Israel.

Thirty-four percent of Israeli Jews disagree:   They want the Orthodox parties in the coalition and are happy with current government policy, which gives Orthodox Judaism significant influence over Israeli law.   Charedi parties have been part of the Israeli government since 2015 and have sat in a series of coalitions throughout Israel’s history.

The survey’s finding is significant because some of the harshest rhetoric ahead of the election centered on religious issues.   Secular parties accused Orthodox parties of wanting to establish a theocracy in Israel.   Orthodox parties claimed that secular parties wanted to deprive Israel of its religious character.   The only reason for the election last week — Israel’s second in a year — was an intractable conflict between Orthodox and secular parties after the previous election in April.

Nearly all of those who voted for Blue and White, the centrist party led by Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid opposing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, want a secular governing coalition.   Most voters for Netanyahu’s Likud Party (56 percent) support a coalition with Orthodox parties, while 44 percent favor a secular coalition. (https://jewishweek.timesofisrael.com/israelis-want-a-more-secular-ruling-coalition/)

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IRAN MOVES NEARER TO ISRAEL

Israel is fighting off Iranian expansion across the Middle East, but danger for the Jewish state lurks near its own borders.   Painstaking work by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and their loyal proxies has succeeded in laying the groundwork for a second Iranian front with Israel in the Golan Heights.

The first front is to Israel’s north in South Lebanon.   The Golan, which Israel won from Syria in 1967, lies further east.   Though Israel rules the skies, the Syrian land adjoining Israel’s border appears increasingly to belong to Iran.  (Jonathan Spyer, Wall Street Journal, 10/2)

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THREE MUSLIM LEADERS TO START TV NEWS CHANNEL

A leader of a country that has the death penalty for “blasphemy,” a leader who says he is a proud antisemite and a leader who threatens to invade foreign countries have united to push for a TV channel that will “fight Islamophobia.”   Pakistan’s Imran Khan, Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohamad, and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan met to propose a “BBC type English language TV Channel” that will “highlight Muslim issues,” Imran Khan said.

Khan tweeted that he met with his two counterparts on September 25 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.   The three decided to “jointly start an English language channel dedicated to confronting the challenges posed by Islamophobia and setting the record strait on our great religion.”   It’s unclear when he says “our” great religion if he means including other Muslim groups, such as Shi’ites or Ahmadis, both of which are routinely the victims of attacks in Pakistan.   Khan again tweeted about his meeting on September 30, claiming that this channel would be a “BBC type.” (Seth Frantzmann, MEF, 10/1)

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Israeli Security Cabinet to meet for first time in months, amid warnings of Iran threat.                                                                                    Security cabinet to convene Sunday as Liberman urges PM, Gantz to agree on unity, citing ‘national emergency’ and evoking Yom Kippur War; Islamic Jihad holds Gaza rally   (Times of Israel * 5 Oct 2019)

Members of the top forum will meet at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem in the afternoon.   In recent days Hebrew media has on several occasions quoted unnamed security officials as warning of the rising threat of an attack orchestrated by Iran.   The Blue and White party’s Gabi Ashkenazi, newly appointed head of the Knesset’s powerful Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, also spoke Thursday of “many challenges in the security realm, some known to all and some that are only discussed behind closed doors.” Liberman noted in a Facebook post that the country on Sunday will mark 46 years since the Yom Kippur War, the most traumatic conflict in the nation’s history and one in which the country was caught off guard by its enemies, and said it was imperative to remember its legacy “of leadership and love of country.”

Meanwhile, the Islamic Jihad terror group on Saturday marked 32 years since its establishment, holding a rally in the Gaza Strip in which it showed off what it said was a new type of rocket. (https://www.timesofisrael.com/security-cabinet-to-meet-for-first-time-in-months-amid-warnings-of-iran-threat/)

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CATHOLIC CHURCH TO ORDAIN MARIED PRIESTS?

VATICAN CITY— Pope Francis formally opened a meeting of bishops that will debate whether the Catholic Church should loosen its 1,000-year-old requirement of celibacy for priests.

The potentially momentous debate pits those who say ordaining married men could relieve the church’s clergy shortage against those who warn that doing so would undermine the distinctive character of the priesthood.

In his homily on Sunday, at Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, the pope didn’t refer specifically to the celibacy debate, but called generally for innovation in the church’s ministry:   “If everything continues as it was, if we spend our days content that ‘this is the way things have always been done,’ then the gift vanishes, smothered by the ashes of fear and concern for defending the status quo.”   (“Pope opens debate on celibacy requirement for Catholic priests,” Francis X. Rocca, Wall Street Journal, 10/6)

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SCANDINAVIAN CRIME BOOSTED BY IMMIGRANTS

  • “Most immigrants are not criminals, but when the immigrant population is overrepresented in almost every crime category, then there is a problem that we must dare to talk about.” — Jon Helgheim, immigration policy spokesman for the Norwegian party Fremskrittspartiet (FrP).
  • “In the more than thirty years that the surveys cover, one tendency is clearer than all others, namely that the proportion of the total amount of crimes committed by persons with a foreign background is steadily increasing….” — Det Goda Samhället (“The Good Society”), Invandring och brottslighet – ett trettioårsperspektiv (“Immigration and crime – a thirty-year perspective”).   All statistics for the report were supplied by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention.
  • Unless Scandinavian political leaders begin actively to engage with the facts that these statistics describe, the problems are only going to become more intractable — to the point where they may be entirely unsolvable.   (Judith Bergman, Gatestone, 10/4)

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Why some Albertans want to separate from Canada                              by Robin Levinson-King,  BBC News, Calgary, Alberta, 4 Oct 2019

Today, Albertans’ common concerns can be summarized with three words: representation, equalization and oil.    Peter Downing, “a right-wing political muckraker” is hoping to spin this feeling of economic betrayal into a viable political movement, with the creation of Wexit Alberta.

The group is campaigning for the western province to separate from Canada and form its own nation (possibly alongside another western province).   It’s an old idea that has gained momentum as relations between Alberta and the rest of the country have deteriorated.

Many Albertans blame Mr. Trudeau’s policies for this turn of events, and Mr. Cooper, the Albertan political scientist who is also a separatist, says he is certain that if Mr. Trudeau is re-elected, Albertan separation will soon follow.       (Extracts from:  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-49899113)

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TO THE POINT

  • “The China of Xi Jinping boasts land- and submarine-based missiles and bombers that provide a strategic deterrent against the United States.   Beijing’s conventional forces on land, sea, and in air and space rival any on earth.”   (Pat Buchanan, 10/4)
  • Nasr Al-Din Mufreh, Sudan’s Minister of Religious Affairs, said in a September 7, 2019 interview on Al-Arabiya Network (Saudi Arabia) that Sudan is pluralistic in its views, values, cultures, ideologies, Islamic schools of thought, and religions, and he called upon Jewish minorities that may have left Sudan to reclaim their Sudanese citizenship and return to the country, which he pointed out is now ruled by secular law.   On a same-day interview on Sudania 24 TV, Sudanese writer Haidar Al-Mukashafi said that the Jewish presence in Sudan dates back over a century, and he said that this may be evidenced by a rumor in the Sudanese city of Merow that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was born and raised in Sudan.   Al-Mukashafi said that Jews and other minorities may return to Sudan if reforms take place and if there are incentives to do so.   (MEMRI, 9/19)
  • Fatemeh Azad, a 58-year-old Muslim woman who had converted to Christianity against her Muslim husband’s will and fled to Germany, was denied asylum there and deported back to Iran. There she was immediately arrested by authorities waiting for her plane to land . . .   “When Fatemeh made her asylum appeal, her lawyers argued that apostasy (conversion away from Islam) is punishable by the death penalty in Iran.”   This, however, was insufficient for Germany . . . — Persecution.org; July 25, 2019. (Gatestone 9/22)
  • Prince Harry’s decision to take British newspapers to court may backfire on him.   The British Royal family has always maintained a policy of “no comment” on newspaper articles about them. After all, if you deny some, you are, effectively, admitting that others are true.   At the same time, royals have a symbiotic relationship with the press – they can’t live without all the publicity and the press can’t live without the royals, who provide lots of news that people are interested in.   Suing the papers may end that relationship.   If the papers back away from the royals, that could mean no publicity, life-blood of the monarchy.
  • SWEDISH KING KICKS GRANDCHILDREN OUT OF ROYAL HOUSE . . . AND CHARLES WANTS THE SAME (headline in Daily Express, 10/7).   “The five children lose the status of royal highness and are not expected to perform official duties.”  (BBC)
  • The death of a 19-year-old British man, killed on his motorbike by a lady driving on the wrong side of the road, is clear cut.   It was an accident, but some appropriate punishment must be found. However, the motorist, a 42-year-old mother, fled to the US to avoid a court case.   This was made possible by the fact that she has diplomatic immunity.   We understand that there must be laws on diplomatic immunity, but for traffic accidents like this? She will hardly face the death penalty if she goes back for a trial.   And the family needs some sort of closure after losing a son to an American lady who got confused and drove on the right (wrong) side of the road!   (Diplomatic immunity even helps diplomats avoid traffic fines and cost the UK taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds per year.)
  • The deaths of six elephants in Thailand was a tragic accident.   A baby in the herd fell down a waterfall.   The other five died trying to rescue her.   This kind of behavior is typical of elephants who are very caring of each other.
  • I will not be posting a blog next week.

 

 

 

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.

NEW ZEALAND ATROCITY

Tessa Burrows, AFP | Police cordon off the area in front of the Masjid al Noor mosque after a shooting incident in Christchurch on March 15, 2019.

The deaths of 50 attendees at a New Zealand mosque a week ago shocked the world and have led to international condemnation of right-wing extremism.

The attack follows similar attacks on a synagogue and on churches in the US.   It seems that houses of worship are now targets.   Such attacks have a long history in the Middle East, but now in the West, too.

Hasty judgments and decisions have been made in the last few days that may make things worse.

New Zealand has been spared the horrors of international terrorism, but neighboring Australia has not.   The perpetrator of the NZ shootings was an Australian.   While attacks in Australia have been relatively small, they have mostly been perpetrated by people of Middle Eastern origin.

The one common denominator in these attacks and Friday’s attack in Christchurch are the country’s immigration policies.   Islamic immigration has led to attacks on non-Muslims in many western nations; while the perpetrator of the mosque attack was reacting to that same immigration.   People seem increasingly inclined toward extremism as a reaction against immigrants from other cultures.

Change the immigration laws and these attacks would not take place.

Instead, Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister, has changed the gun  laws.   While it is commendable that New Zealand’s parliament can act so quickly, in contrast to the US Congress, if there is more sectarian violence, this will make it more difficult for people to defend themselves.   Where criminals are concerned, it will drive the price of guns up, as people will always find a way to get what they want.

FURTHER TERRORISM

On Monday, a Turkish immigrant in Utrecht, Holland, held up a tram and murdered three people.

On Wednesday, a Senegalese immigrant bus driver in Milan, was set to blow up a school bus with 51 people on board, most of them school children.   He planned on setting the bus on fire in protest at Italy turning away migrants.   Fortunately, one boy called his parents who contacted the police.   There were, however, some casualties, with children slightly burned.

The number of sectarian attacks seems to be increasing.

Matthew 24 is a chapter in the Bible that predicts end-time events. In verse 7 we read that: “nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.”   A kingdom is a political entity whereas nation is from the Greek “ethnos” – it describes sectarian violence increasing as we approach the end of the age.

It should also be noted that, in Holland, a populist anti-immigrant party was elected to the Senate in the last 24 hours.   Populism is gaining more support across Europe, in reaction to multiculturalism.   Diversity is not appreciated by everybody.   Not all of these people are extremists. If leaders really want to end extremism, they should do something about immigration.

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BREXIT – WILL IT HAPPEN OR WON’T IT?

With just a few days to go until Brexit, scheduled for March 29th, Mrs. May is asking the EU for an extension.   Latest reports say they will let her have until May 22nd, which is the day before the European elections.   However, it is unlikely that it will make any difference, as the search for a “deal” remains elusive.

Division in the British parliament is the worst anybody can remember.   It does not bode well for the future of the country.

“EU leaders will today try to achieve the impossible: navigating a cliff-edge Brexit with a prime minister already in freefall.”    (Jim Brunsden, “The Brexit Slalom,” Brussels Briefing, Financial Times, 3/21)

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NATO @ 70

”Reaching 70 is an extraordinary achievement for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.   Most alliances die young.   External threats change; national interests diverge; costs become too burdensome.   Russia’s pact with Nazi Germany survived for only two years.   None of the seven coalitions of the Napoleonic Wars lasted more than five years.   A study in 2010 by the Brookings Institution, a Washington think-tank, counted 63 major military alliances over the previous five centuries, of which just ten lived beyond 40; the average life-span of collective -defense alliances was 15 years.”   (The Economist, NATO at 70, 3/16).

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GOLAN HEIGHTS

President Trump is to recognize the Golan Heights as a part of Israel.   They have been ruled by Israel since 1967 when they were captured by Israel during the Six Day War.

The strategically important Heights should make Israel stronger and easier to defend.    The decision goes against the United Nations policy on the Golan.

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SYRIA’S THREE CIVIL WARS

“Three new wars have started in Syria.   They are taking place in the three de facto independent areas whose boundaries are becoming apparent as the smoke from the previous battle clears: the regime-controlled area, guaranteed by Russia; the area east of the Euphrates River controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces, which are primarily composed of Kurdish fighters protected by the United States and Western air power; and finally the area controlled by the Turks and their Sunni Islamist allies in Idlib province.” (Jonathan Spyer, Middle East Forum, 3/18).

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Australian PM pillories Erdogan for ‘reckless’ and ‘vile’ Christchurch comments

(Australian prime minister) Scott Morrison says he will review ties after Turkish president said anti-Muslim Australians would be ‘sent back in coffins’ like in WWI.

(https://www.timesofisrael.com/australian-pm-pillories-erdogan-for-reckless-and-vile-christchurch-comments/)

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MUSLIM COMMENT ON NEW ZEALAND MARTYRS

On March 15, 2019, the Al-Azhar Mosque in Belmore, a suburb of Sydney, Australia hosted an emergency panel discussion following the massacre at the mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.   One of the speakers, Sheikh Jamil El-Biza, suggested that attack was the result of governments’ and politicians’ defense of freedom of speech.   Sheikh Jalal Chami, another one of the panel members, said that it is an honor for the victims of the shooting to have died for Islam and that Muslims should be happy for them and pray that they are accepted as martyrs.   He said:   “We give our life freely for the sake of Allah and His religion.”   Another panel member, Sheikh Omar Najjarine, said that people in Australia and New Zealand have thoughts of harming Muslims like the Christchurch shooter did.   He also said that he felt jealousy towards the victims of the shooting because they entered Paradise, and he said that it is sad that most people would be thankful if they escaped or survived such a shooting, when they would have lost out on the blessing of dying as a martyr.

Sheikh Najjarine added:   “Who would ever think that a person in a non-Muslim country [who is not waging] Jihad could attain martyrdom.”   (MEMRI, No. 7088, 3/19)

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US SANCTIONS WILL LEAD TO CONFLICT WITH THE EU

Newsletter – Struggle for Global Power Status

(Own report) – The United States is preparing sanctions against European companies participating in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, according to senior US government officials. German government officials, on the other hand, predict that US sanctions will lead to a confrontation with the whole of the EU.   “We will do everything necessary to complete the pipeline.”   At the same time, the power struggle over the participation of the Chinese Huawei Corporation in setting up the 5G grid in Germany and the EU is escalating.   After the German government indicated that it would not exclude, a priori, Huawei, the US ambassador in Berlin is threatening to reduce cooperation between the two countries’ intelligence services.   US President Donald Trump is also considering calling on countries to pay the full cost of stationing US forces on their soil, plus 50 percent more.   German government advisors are pleading for a “policy of ‘softer’ or ‘more robust’ countervailing power formation.”   Europe’s “strategic autonomy” is at the core of this power struggle.   (German Foreign Policy. 3/14)

 

 

 

 

THANKSGIVING AND BEYOND

Seated:  Brooklyn, Aubren, Elena and Hayden.  Standing:  Alyssa with Evan, Paris with Leeson, and Ethan.

We just survived four days of Thanksgiving with nine grandchildren!!!

Actually that’s not quite true.   All nine were only with us from Wednesday evening at 6pm until Thursday at 8pm.   The other seven were in our home for 97 hours and 38 minutes, to be exact.   But, who’s counting?  Delightful chaos!

It was fun – most of the time.   Except when the boys, all 5 except for our son who is 38 going on 5, were playing nerf wars; running around the house with toy guns shooting light plastic/foam bullets at each other.

Until Sunday afternoon, when the oldest “5” year old got hit in the eye and ended up in ER.  Twice.   After spending 2 hours and 30 minutes at the first ER, he had to go to the second ER because they didn’t have the necessary equipment to examine the eye at the first. Both hospitals are owned by the same company, so you would think that the second hospital would let him go to the front of the line.   No way.   He had to wait another 5 or 6 hours to get any attention.  It was eight hours before he arrived back at our home.   8 hours and a few hundred dollars, plus whatever his insurance company paid out on his behalf.

Waiting with him at the second hospital, I was observing what was going on.  I usually take something to read when I have to wait at doctors’ offices or hospitals, but I thought this visit would be brief. Not so.   After about three hours, our son wanted something to eat and walked into the main part of the hospital, which has a “Starbucks” – add another $20 to the cost of his eye injury.  (And another $10 for parking!)   He returned from the Starbucks exclaiming that it cost more than any Starbucks he had been to in any airport.   Hospitals are clearly big business!

It looks as if his eye will be ok, but he has to go see the eye doctor every day this week to see how it’s doing.

His nephews had a lot of fun, but we may just be playing “Snakes and Ladders” next time they visit.   No, I doubt it.   If there’s anything they all have, it’s plenty of energy.

It’s now Tuesday and they have all been gone for almost 48 hours. However, Diane and I are both still exhausted.  Even the house seems to be breathing a sigh of relief although three of the little delights live here.   Only the cat had any sense – he stayed away almost all the time our visitors were here.  For some reason, he’s taken to sleeping on my pillow, so if I want to take a nap, I have to fight him for the space.   I could always get my own back by eating his cat food!  Maybe not – it has turkey as one of the ingredients.   I don’t think I could consume any more turkey for at least a year.

Our youngest grandson, Hayden, 18 months old, enjoyed all the attention from his cousins, aunts and uncles.   He has a new tee-shirt with these words on it:   “If Mom says No, go ask Grandpa”!   I think he already knew that.

It was a great Thanksgiving and we have a lot to be thankful for, starting with the nine grandchildren (pictured above).   If I had to live my life all over again, I think I would go with grandchildren before children – they are so much easier.

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AVOID THIS COMPANY

One thing we are not thankful for is roof repair companies.  Or, at least one, the one we used in February to put a new roof over our bedroom.   The company we used was Hanson’s, who offered us the best deal, or so we thought.

A few weeks after their work, we saw a dark shadow over our ceiling in one corner.   And, some days later, the ceiling started caving in.   We then saw the mold that had developed in the attic since their work on the roof.   The mold had to be treated and the ceiling repaired.  The water leak also ruined the heating coils in our ceiling so that source of heat had to be terminated, therefore installation of an electric heater near the floor was necessary.

After sending their foreman to examine it, and him denying it had anything to do with their roof job, they blamed it on evidence of a former leak, which happened apparently before we bought the place.   Funny, it wasn’t wet up there before they gave us a new roof.  And that “evidence” was on the chimney, not the roof – it would be leaking down the chimney if it were leaking at all.  And it wasn’t.  I had called them in because there was what looked like a small leak in a totally different part of the room.

Well, their foreman and his supervisor came back and did a “water test” and said it didn’t leak until they lifted the hose up to the former repair job on the chimney.  Then they left saying it wasn’t their roof that was at fault.  Well, we redid the water test ourselves when they left because we didn’t believe it.   And when we just laid the hosepipe on the roof, water only going on their roof, it POURED in the ceiling.   We called them and when we told them what we did – they immediately offered to give us a new roof – no apparent intent to come back and see again for themselves.   So they “seemed” to accept their responsibility in this matter and I told them there were ceiling repairs and they said they would submit a claim to their insurance company.   We had that hole in our ceiling for almost 6 weeks.  No insurance adjuster was ever sent to see it.   So I got it repaired and sent them the bill.

We could have saved on postage.  They are now saying they will not pay.  Of course, the ceiling is fixed now so nobody else can come out and confirm that it was their fault.  They lied and that’s that.  They said we called them originally because of a leak in the spot that caved in.  Unbelievable!   And because we did not start out this business with Hanson’s assuming they were dishonest shysters and did not document things as we should have, we now have to come up with the $7,348 to repair the shoddy work that originally cost marginally less than that.  In effect, we will have to pay twice for the same work. No wonder America, with only 4% of the world’s population, has over 50% of all the world’s lawyers (which most can’t afford)!

This spoiled our Thanksgiving – their letter of refusal arrived on the Monday of Thanksgiving Week.

It led to the following thoughts.

I remember thirty years ago, when we lived in England, I needed a chiropractor and the nearest one was about 30 miles away, across meandering country roads.   Beautiful scenery, but a long drive.

I was surprised to find the chiropractor was an American.  I asked him why he was living in the UK.   His response was that business in America was crooked.  I came to America’s defense, pointing out that there were crooks in England, too.  “Yes,” he replied, “there are some crooked companies in England, but in America they are all crooked.”

A more authoritative comment comes from a PBS documentary shown about twenty years ago.  The program compared German business practices with American to see what made Germany such a successful exporting country.

.The conclusion was interesting.  When a German company makes a sale, they consider it the start of a beautiful relationship with the customer; in the US, the sale is the end of the relationship.  That’s certainly true of Hanson’s and of some others we have experienced over the years.

When we lived in Ghana, a local businessman there made a similar observation. He bought his veterinary products from Germany because every few months they would send somebody down to make sure everything was going right.   American companies, he said, won’t do that – once the sale is made, they just want to go home.

When PM Margaret Thatcher was once asked to stop foreign nations from selling their cars in the UK; her response was to encourage the foreign car companies, until British companies learned from them how to do better.

It’s all rather sobering, but I would not be doing Hanson’s, or their future clients, any favors by covering up their shoddy work and blatant lying!

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TOTAL MADNESS FROM BRITAIN AND AMERICA

Don’t call female pupils girls or ladies because it reminds them of their gender, head teachers are told

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5104579/Heads-warned-not-use-gendered-terms-schools.html

New York phases out ‘ladies and gentlemen’ greetings on the subway in favor of politically correct gender-neutral terms including ‘passengers’ and ‘riders’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5070439/New-York-phases-ladies-gentlemen.html

Reminder:  “So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.”  (Genesis 1:27)

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Poland’s Christian [Catholic] Government Votes to Phase Out Sunday Shopping So Families Can Spend More Time Together        28 Nov 2017 * Breitbart

Poland’s parliament has voted to slowly begin the process of abolishing Sunday shopping to allow workers to spend more time with their families.

The law has been passed by the sejm — equivalent to the British House of Commons or the U.S. House of Representatives — but must be approved by the Senate and the president, both of which could veto the decision.   Although the major change — which reverses decades of movement on turning Sunday from a holy day of rest into an ordinary day of shopping and work — has been criticised as putting jobs at risk, the government hopes it will improve quality of life for ordinary Poles.

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TEHRAN IS WINNING THE WAR FOR CONTROL OF THE MIDDLE EASTJonathan Spyer, Middle East Forum 11/21

The confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Iran is taking place across a swath of the Middle East in which, over the last decade, states have partially ceased to function — Iraq and Lebanon — or collapsed completely, as in the case of Syria and Yemen.   A war over the ruins has taken place in each country, with Riyadh and Tehran arrayed on opposing sides in all of them.

Throughout the region, the advantage is very clearly with the Iranians.

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IRAN COMPLETES ITS LAND BRIDGE TO THE GOLAN         Jonathan Spyer, Middle East Forum, 11/18

In the east of Syria, the so-called race to Abu Kamal between the US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces and the forces of Iran, the Assad regime and Russia appears to be close to conclusion – in the latter’s favor.   Regime forces moved into the town last Thursday. They were then expelled by an unexpected Islamic State counterattack this week, and have now retreated to positions about two kilometers outside of Abu Kamal.

The Islamic State move, however, has the flavor of a last roll of the dice.   Clearly, the Sunni jihadis will lose the strategic border town in the days ahead.

The US-supported SDF fighters are covering ground rapidly to the north.   But the forward units of the mainly Kurdish force remain about 25 kilometers north of Abu Kamal, in the area of the Kishma oil field.

Hezbollah can now be reinforced by Iran’s other regional clients in a future conflict with Israel. 

Iran is a regional super-power in the Middle East.  Saudi Arabia is engaged in resisting Iran’s hegemony on a number of fronts.   Iran now dominates an arc of Shia Islam which includes Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon – an arc that covers the same territories as the biblical King of the North in Daniel 11.   This would not have been possible without US intervention in Iraq 14 years ago.   Note:  these nations have Russian support.   ISIS, a violent and reactionary force within Sunni Islam, is largely defeated, making the forces of Shia Islam even more powerful.   This poses a serious threat to Israel. MR

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Headline in the Times of Israel:  IRAN VOWS TO PUT EUROPE IN MISSILE RANGE IF THREATENED    (Times of Israel 11/26)

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FRANCE SUBMITS TO TERRORISM, MUSLIM ANTI-SEMITISM  Guy Milliere, Gatestone Institute, 11/28

  • In France, since 2012, more than 250 people were killed by Islamic terrorism -more than in all other European countries combined.
  • No other country in Europe has experienced so many attacks against Jews.   France is a country where Jews are murdered because they are Jews.
  • “Muslim believers know very well what is happening.   Only a minority is violent.   But as a whole, they do not ignore that their birthrate is such that one day, everything here will be theirs.” — Luc Ravel, Archbishop of Strasbourg

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TIME TO DRAIN THE SWAMP – ALSO IN EUROPE                            Geert Wilders, Dutch nationalist politician, 11/26

  • Our democracies in the Western half of Europe have been subverted.  Their goal is no longer to do what the people want.  On the contrary, our political elites often do exactly the opposite. Our parliaments promote open-door policies that the majority of the people reject.  Our governments sell out sovereignty to the EU against the will of the people.  Our rulers welcome ever more Islam, although the majority of the people oppose it.
  • Our democracies have become fake democracies.  They are multi-party dictatorships, ruled by groups of establishment parties…. The establishment parties control everything, not just the politicians in their pay, but also the top brass of the civil service, the mainstream media, even the courts…. They call us “populists” because we stand for what the people want.   They even drag us to court.
  • We need to show that Europe’s streets are our streets, that we want to stay who and what we are, and do not want to be colonized by Islam. Europe belongs to us!

“Next month, I will be visiting Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.  I have been invited to speak to a group of Czech patriots. The Czechs are a freedom loving people.   In 2011, on the occasion of the 100th birthday of Ronald Reagan, they named a street in Prague after this great American president and freedom fighter.

“This fact reminded me of a shameful event in my home town of The Hague, the seat of the Dutch Parliament and the government of the Netherlands.   Look for a Ronald Reagan Street in The Hague and you will find none.   A proposal in 2011 to name a street in The Hague after Reagan ran into fierce political opposition.   Leftist parties, such as Labor, the Greens and the liberal D66 party, argued that naming a street in honor of Reagan would “do the image of the city no good.”   The whole affair ended in a disgraceful political compromise.   Last year, a short stretch of a local bicycle path was named the “Reagan and Gorbachev Lane.”

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UNBELIEVABLE                                                                                                            BBC

Zimbabwe has officially declared 21 February to be Robert Gabriel Mugabe National Youth Day, thereby making the former president’s birthday a public holiday, the Herald newspaper reports.

Mr. Mugabe was the President of Zimbabwe for over 37 years.  Under his period of rule, the country, once one of the most successful economies in Africa, collapsed economically.   The army forced him out of office last week.  Major change, badly needed, does not look likely.   MR

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TIMES HAVE CHANGED

In 1936, King Edward VIII abdicated, choosing the American woman he loved over the throne of what was then the British Empire.  The parliaments of the UK and the Commonwealth Dominions, did not want Edward to marry a woman who still had two living former husbands.   The King, titular Head of the Church of England, could not marry a divorcee.

In 1955, the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret was not allowed to marry Group Captain Townsend, a divorced equerry in the royal household.

Sixty years later, Prince Harry is to marry another divorced American woman, Meghan Markle.   Nobody is ruffled at all by this.  She is also biracial and could, as Ebony magazine pointed out, give birth to a black baby.

Times have certainly changed.   Of course, Britain itself has changed, with one in ten cohabiting couples living with a member of a different ethnic group.

Divorce has become more common and more acceptable, even in the royal family.  Princess Margaret divorced her husband over forty years ago; Princess Anne followed.   Charles and Diana divorced more than twenty years ago.   He went on to marry a divorced woman, Camilla Parker-Bowles, though the wedding was a civil ceremony in a Registry Office.

Having said all the above, the new royal couple seem well suited and very happy.   Ms. Markle, who has been living in Toronto, seemed to understand the importance of the 53-nation Commonwealth and the royal family’s constitutional role within the organization.   This came out during a televised interview with the couple.

She will not carry the title “Princess” as she is not of royal blood.   As Prince William and his wife are the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, so Harry and Meghan will have a similar title.   The wedding is scheduled for May.  It will no doubt lift everybody’s spirits as they go through the challenging process of Brexit.

The latest news on that is the divorce bill.   55 billion euros is being offered by London, but is said to be too little by Brussels.   As the UK has been subsidizing the EU for decades, they shouldn’t have to pay one penny.   But the British government of Theresa May does not have the confidence to stand up to the Bullies of Brussels!

Fortunately, the wedding will not cost the tax-payer anything (except for police security) and should help boost the country’s income through tourism.