Tag Archives: Knesset

WORST DEPRESSION SINCE 1706

(The Spectator, April 11, 2020)

Bank of England warns of sharpest annual contraction since 1706    For the year as a whole, the economy is expected to contract by 14%. 

This would be the biggest annual decline on record, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) data dating back to 1949.   It would also be the sharpest annual contraction since 1706, according to reconstructed Bank of England data stretching back to the 18th Century.    By Szu Ping Chan, Business reporter, BBC News, 7 May, 2020    (https://www.bbc.com/news/business-52566030 (5/7)

————————————————-

 Factories in US Close for Good as Coronavirus Cuts Demand    Some manufacturers that furloughed employees during lockdowns say plants won’t reopen

Factory furloughs across the U.S. are becoming permanent closings, a sign of the heavy damage the coronavirus pandemic and shutdowns are exerting on the industrial economy.   (Wall Street Journal, 5/11/2020)

————————————————

U.S. levels of hunger and unemployment are soaring
Nearly one in five young children in the U.S. are going hungry. 

That’s according to a new survey of households by the Brookings Institution, which found that 17.4 percent of children were not eating enough.   The level is three times as high as in 2008, during the Great Recession.

Disruptions in school meal programs during the pandemic may be part of the problem, the lead researcher said, with some families unable to reach distribution sites and older siblings at home competing for limited food.   As hunger rises, Democrats in Washington are seeking to raise food stamp benefits for the duration of the economic crisis, but Republicans have balked at a long-term expansion of the program.

April’s labor report, due Friday, is expected to show that U.S. payrolls fell by 22 million, according to economists surveyed by MarketWatch.   The worst monthly loss on record was nearly two million jobs in September 1945. (NY Times, 7 May 2020)

——————————————————–

Covid-19 is our punishment, but we need to work with doctors to fight the pandemic, says Zulu king
9 May 2020, by Zimasa Matiwane,  TimesLive

Zulu King Zwelithini also believes Africa had strayed from God and earned his wrath and if the people of Africa “went back to God, I am certain he will protect us.”   “We must admit that we angered Jehovah, that is why he is punishing us, he is humbling us.   This tells me God wants us as a nation, he wants his time with us as a nation. It’s a time where God wanted us to prepare, in connecting with him, not just to meet at churches, he wanted a one-on-one with us,” the monarch explained. King Goodwill Zwelithini addressed his subjects via Zoom on Saturday about Covid-19.

(https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2020-05-09-covid-19-is-our-punishment-but-we-need-to-work-with-doctors-to-fight-the-pandemic-says-zulu-king/)

—————————————————-

PROTEST AGAINST BORDER CLOSURE

Over the weekend, hundreds of French and Luxembourgian citizens have protested the ongoing closure of German borders.   On March 16, the German government unilaterally reinstated strict border controls.   Since then, German police have prevented more than 100,000 citizens of several neighboring countries from entering Germany.   Berlin’s measures have been causing considerable hardships also for French and Luxembourgian citizens, working in German factories and hospitals.   They are also being regularly exposed to harassment by German border police and to a resurgence of old anti-French chauvinism in Germany.   French commuters are increasingly being treated as “second-class EU citizens,” notes a French senator.

The former EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had warned that “Germany will cause permanent damage with the way it is treating some of its neighbors.” 

Germany’s crisis policy is also provoking protests in Southern and Eastern Europe.   (German Foreign Policy, 5/11)

———————————————————–

MEMORIES OF WORLD WAR II

Union Jacks lowered, replaced with swastikas.   This was the British government’s worst nightmare in the early years of the second world war.   And in June 1940 it became reality in the Channel Islands, the only British territory to come under Nazi control.   Today they celebrate their 75th annual “Liberation Day” since the German surrender.   The islands just off France’s northern coast endured almost five years of Nazi rule; food shortages inspired Guernsey’s famous “potato-peel pie.”   With a media blackout in place, local journalists set up an underground news service.  Jersey’s residents daubed swastikas on the houses of anyone considered too cosy with the invaders.   But the islands were not exactly a hotbed of anti-Nazi resistance.   Just two local politicians spoke out against anti-Semitic orders.   Jews were registered and their businesses liquidated.   Most were deported.   Three died in Auschwitz.   Indeed the islands’ experience weakens post-war claims that Britain would have resisted Nazi occupation more strongly than other European states. (The Economist, 5/9/2020)

—————————————————

MODERN FRANCE

A few months ago, a police officer, Noam Anouar, who infiltrated Islamist circles . . . stated that no-go zones in France are now foreign enclaves on French territory.   “The gangs operating there,” he wrote, “have formed a parallel economy based on drug trafficking. They consider themselves at war with France and with Western civilization.   They act in cooperation with Islamist organizations, and define acts of predation and rampage as raids against infidels.”   He noted that reclaiming these areas today would be complicated, costly, and involve calling in the army.

For years, successive French governments have chosen a policy of “willful blindness”:   they simply behave as if they do not see what is going on.   They do not even try to find solutions.   (Guy Milliere, Gatestone, 5/10/2020)

———————————————————

72 Knesset Members back Netanyahu to form next government
Once approved by Rivlin, Likud leader has two weeks to form a government; move comes hours after Knesset passes amendment to Basic Law that allows for Netanyahu and Gantz to share premiership as part of recently signed coalition deal
(Associated Press, 7 May 2020, Ynet)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formally received the support of a majority of lawmakers to lead a new government on Thursday, paving the way for a controversial power-sharing deal with rival-turned-partner Benny Gantz.   Likud and Blue & White said that “representatives of the two parties submitted to President Reuven Rivlin the 72 signatures of Knesset members recommending Benjamin Netanyahu for the task of assembling an emergency national unity government.”

Once approved by Rivlin, Netanyahu will have two weeks to form a government.   Of the 72 MKs who supported Netanyahu, 36 were members of Likud, 16 came from Blue & White, two were from Derech Eretz party, two from Labor, nine from Shas and seven from United Torah Judaism.   Lawmakers from Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party did not add their support to back Netanyahu and was unclear whether they would join the new government, which is set to be sworn in on Wednesday of next week.
(https://www.ynetnews.com/article/ry57ljWq8)

—————————————————

CBS CHEATS

During a pandemic, the media can play an invaluable role in providing accurate reporting so that people may take action based on the best available information.

Scare tactics not only gravely undermine that sacred duty but give credence to the dangerously wrong belief that the coronavirus (COVID-19) presents no real threat.

For a second time, that lesson appears lost on CBS News.  Weeks ago, the network aired footage of a chaotic scene at an Italian hospital while alleging the video came from New York City.

Project Veritas has now learned that a CBS News crew filming in Grand Rapids, Michigan wasn’t satisfied with the orderly COVID-19 testing scene at Cherry Medical Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Getting their desired footage involved taking medical professionals away from their duties and getting them in cars to give the illusion that the line of patients was longer.   (Townhall)

————————————————————–

GREATEST DANGER TO CATHOLIC CHURCH

Life Site News reported on May 4:   “Dr. Robert Moynihan, the editor-in-chief of the Catholic journal Inside the Vatican, revealed on April 23 that he once had a conversation with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (who later became Pope Benedict XVI) about the ‘greatest danger to the Church,’ and he recounts that Ratzinger said:   ‘It is Freemasonry . . . Bishop Schneider states that Freemasons were crucial in the promotion of abortion, same-sex ‘marriage,’ and euthanasia in France . . .

“Then-Cardinal Ratzinger was already in the 1980s so concerned about the nature and work of Freemasonry that he worked out a statement for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, whose Prefect he then was, which repeated the Church’s long-standing ban on Freemasonry.   That is to say, he re-stated that Catholics may not be members of Freemasonry.   On November 26, 1983, Ratzinger signed a document that stated, ‘Therefore the Church’s negative judgment in regard to Masonic association remains unchanged since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and therefore membership in them remains forbidden.   The faithful who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.’”

———————————————–

POST-CORONA CHURCHES

Stephen Bullivant, whose book Mass Exodus studied Catholic attrition in Britain and America, offers three reasons why he believes churches will shrink after the pandemic.

First, he says, churchgoers (both lay and clergy) tend to be elderly and therefore more likely to die of coronavirus.   Second, many churches rely on a steady influx of immigrants.   With the world in lockdown, that supply has, at least temporarily, dried up.   Third, churchgoing is a habit, and once that habit is broken, it is hard to take it up again.  (“Risen Again,” Luke Coppen, The Spectator (UK), 4/11/2020)

—————————————————–

TO THE POINT

  • Deadly attacks on funeral and hospital in Afghanistan — A suicide bomber has attacked the funeral of a police commander in Afghanistan, killing at least 24 people and injuring 68. In a separate attack, gunmen disguised as police stormed a hospital in the Afghan capital Kabul, killing 16 people, including two newborn babies, at a maternity clinic run by the humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders.  (The Week, 5/18/2020)
  • The Trump administration ordered that an American federal pension fund, the Thrift Savings Plan, with around $600bn under management, stop investing in all Chinese companies.  The White House says they pose national-security threats and might become subject to sanctions.   There is a growing clamor among Republicans to devise punitive measures against China, which they accuse of covering-up facts about covid-19.   (The Economist, 5/13/2020)
  • The number of confirmed cases of covid-19 surged past 4m globally, with more than 282,000 deaths.   America, with a third of the world’s fatalities, is by far the worst-hit country.   Yet even governments that appeared to have tamed the disease warned of its re-emergence.   South Korea reported 35 new cases on Monday—its biggest increase in a month.   A new cluster of infections in Shulan, in north-eastern China, forced the city into complete lockdown.   And Germany’s infection rate accelerated. (The Economist, 5/11/2020)
  • Boris Johnson, Britain’s prime minister, announced plans to relax England’s lockdown, encouraging people who cannot work from home to return to their jobs and permitting more outdoor activities from Wednesday.   Shops and some schools may reopen in June.   Mr. Johnson’s new “stay alert” slogan was criticized by some for being confusing.   Harsher restrictions will remain in Scotland and Wales. (The Economist, 5/11/2020)
  • “The American media is using the virus crisis in order to attack Trump, but the Greek people will not tolerate such craven opportunism and dishonesty.   Criticism of the government is almost non-existent, as the suddenly wise populace is united against the unseen menace.”  (Taki, The Spectator, 4/11/2020).

——————————————————————-

AFTERTHOUGHT

As if the coronavirus isn’t bad enough, debt could be the determining factor as regards the future of the US in particular and the West in general.

I got to thinking about this during the week when Nancy Pelosi proposed giving every household in the US $6,000.   That’s a total of $3 trillion.   To be added to a national debt of $23.3.   What’s an extra $3 trillion between friends?

Isn’t anybody frightened of debt anymore?  I know I avoid it like the plague (the coronavirus!).

Romans 13:8 tells us to “Owe no one anything.”

If you are in debt, you are not in the best position to weather whatever storms may come your way as a result of the virus (unemployment, reduced hours and wages, rising food prices, to name just three).

Why did you get into debt in the first place?

Let’s be honest here – greed is normally the answer.   We want.   We want things we can’t afford, but we believe the ads that tell us “you owe it to yourself.”

Or we want a bigger home (why?), or a second car (why?) or new furniture (again, why?).

Matthew 6:31-33:   So don’t worry about these things, saying, “What will we eat?  What will we drink?  What will we wear?”  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Stay out of debt.   If you’re in debt, get out of it ASAP.   You will be able to cope with the new reality, the “new normal,” a lot better if you’re not in debt.

MR     

MORE ON CORONA

AMERICA AHEAD

Good morning.   “The US has more confirmed cases of the coronavirus than any other nation on Earth.  Yet Donald Trump has fallen back on his favorite solution to any problem, announcing an executive order that would temporarily suspend all immigration from other countries.   Democrats slammed the move, with one congressman calling it no more than “xenophobic scapegoating.”

Meanwhile, epidemiologists have warned that the greater threat is from within, saying recent anti-lockdown rallies across the country could lead to a surge in new infections.   In Georgia, governor Brian Kemp announced businesses including gyms, cinemas and restaurants would reopen in the state over the coming days, despite the objections of public heath experts.   (Tim Walker, The Guardian, 4/21/2020)

This is a typical Guardian piece from across the water.   It seems to me that the president made a very sensible decision, to halt immigration to help save American jobs.  It’s only for two months.  When things get back to normal, if unemployment persists, there should be no going back to open borders.

———————————————————————-

CHINA’S ECONOMY DOWN

 That the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic will be immense is obvious.  Just how bad?  And when can countries start to heal?  China offered a preliminary answer today when it announced that its first-quarter GDP fell by 6.8%, compared with last year.  The last time China’s economy shrank was 1976, the year the Cultural Revolution ended.  It was a foregone conclusion that growth had suffered after lockdowns were imposed nationwide in late January. More notable therefore were indicators for March.   Encouragingly, industrial production fell just 1% year-on-year, a reflection of progress made in restarting factories.   Discouragingly, retail sales were down 16% over the same period, with stores and restaurants open but few visiting them.   Having drastically reduced new infections, China’s economy is creaking back to life.   But people remain anxious and movement is restricted.   In such an inhospitable environment, familiar now around the world, the recovery is likely to be tepid at best.  (The Economist, 4/17/2020)

——————————————————

GERMAN FOREIGN POLICY

The German government is joining the US campaign of allegations against China regarding the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.  Last weekend, US President Donald Trump warned the People’s Republic that it should face consequences if it was “knowingly responsible” for the spread of the pandemic.  Washington is simultaneously spreading deliberate rumors that the virus could have originated in a Chinese laboratory.   Whereas, scientists vehemently refute the allegations, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas declared, he “does not want to exclude” that the WHO will have to deal with these issues.   On Monday, Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Beijing to show “transparency” on the issue.   Senior German military officials have recently been demanding that the EU adopt “a joint political-strategic response” to China’s growing strength, because in the Corona crisis, Beijing is gaining considerable influence.   According to a recent poll, more than half of the Italian population sees China as a “friend,” while nearly half see Germany as an “enemy.”  (German Foreign Policy, 4/21)

ANTI-CHINESE FEELING HIGH IN GERMANY

In view of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the German media are stepping up their blame on China by moving to openly ask for compensation.  The People’s Republic “has caused the pandemic,” this is what the mainstream media repeatedly say.   And the Springer press insists on “compensation” by headlining “What China already owes us.”   The agitation began when it became apparent that the People’s Republic of China was able to overcome the crisis more lightly than the Western powers and their global rise are likely to continue, while the transatlantic states are in danger of being thrown back by their totally inadequate preparation for the pandemic.   The claims are accompanied by a massive anti-Chinese sentiment; just to make an example, it is currently stated that Peking follows a “strategy of unrestricted warfare, already formulated by the Chinese military a good two decades ago.   The statement is not correct, but it is similar to claims based on lies used against Russia for years.   (German Foreign Policy, 4/17/2020)

BERLIN – The editor-in-chief of Germany’s largest paper Bild on Thursday launched a full frontal attack on China’s communist President Xi Jinping for his regime’s failure to come clean about the coronavirus outbreak and the massive human rights violations carried out by the Communist Party.   Julian Reichelt, the prominent editor-in-chief of the Bild, wrote to Jinping that  “Your embassy in Berlin has addressed me in an open letter because we asked in our newspaper Bild whether China should pay for the massive economic damage the coronavirus is inflicting worldwide.”

He wrote that, “You [Jinping], your government and your scientists had to know long ago that coronavirus is highly infectious, but you left the world in the dark about it.  Your top experts didn’t respond when Western researchers asked to know what was going on in Wuhan.   You were too proud and too nationalistic to tell the truth, which you felt was a national disgrace.”

Reichelt said that, “You rule by surveillance.  You wouldn’t be president without surveillance.  You monitor everything, every citizen, but you refuse to monitor the diseased wet markets in your country.  You shut down every newspaper and website that is critical of your rule, but not the stalls where bat soup is sold.   You are not only monitoring your people, you are endangering them – and with them, the rest of the world.”

He continued with his bill of particulars, noting that “surveillance is a denial of freedom.   And a nation that is not free, is not creative.   A nation that is not innovative, does not invent anything.   This is why you have made your country the world champion in intellectual property theft.

“China enriches itself with the inventions of others, instead of inventing on its own,” Reichelt wrote.   “The reason China does not innovate and invent is that you don’t let the young people in your country think freely.   China’s greatest export hit (that nobody wanted to have, but which has nevertheless gone around the world) is coronavirus.”

—————————————————————————–

ISRAEL FINALLY GETS A NEW GOVERNMENT

Israel will soon have a new coalition government after an agreement was signed on Monday evening between Likud and Blue and White, putting an end to a 17-month political stalemate that resulted in three elections.

As part of the deal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has served as caretaker prime minister since December 2018, will remain prime minister for another 18 months and then will be replaced in October 2021 by Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, who will serve as vice prime minister in the meantime.   Netanyahu will be vice prime minister under Gantz after that, but if Netanyahu leaves the Prime Minister’s Office sooner, Gantz would already take over

“I promised the State of Israel a national emergency government that will work to save lives and livelihoods of Israeli citizens,” Netanyahu said.   Gantz expressed his relief that an election that would have been held on August 4 if a deal was not reached by May 7 had been averted.   “We prevented a fourth election,” Gantz said. “We will protect our democracy and fight against the coronavirus.”

US President Donald Trump’s peace plan, including its clauses enabling Israel to apply sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, will be able to be implemented in July, when maps are set to be finalized.   In a controversial clause, both Netanyahu and Gantz will have the right to an official residence fully funded by the state.   In another, the so-called Norwegian law will be changed to allow ministers to quit and new MKs to enter the Knesset, including in Blue and White, skipping over MKs from the Yesh Atid and Telem parties that will remain in the opposition.

The Movement for Quality Government and other watchdog groups petitioned the High Court of Justice late Monday, demanding that the court prevent Netanyahu from forming a government, due to his criminal indictments.

(MORE:  https://www.jpost.com/breaking-news/a-joint-meeting-between-netanyahu-and-gantz-to-start-soon-625241)

————————————————————-

South Africa deploys over 70,000 troops to enforce lockdown

More than 70,000 extra troops will be deployed in South Africa to help enforce a lockdown intended to stop the spread of coronavirus, President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced.  South Africa has had 3,465 confirmed coronavirus cases – second only to Egypt in Africa – and 58 deaths.  The country has some of the most stringent coronavirus lockdown restrictions in the world.  But security forces have struggled to enforce them.  Since 27 March only essential service providers, such as health workers, financial services providers, journalists and retail workers, are allowed to continue going to work.  Businesses that provide essential services have been applying for a special permit from the government that allows their members of staff to go outside.  The restrictions include no jogging outside, no sales of alcohol or cigarettes, no dog-walking, no leaving home except for essential trips and prison or heavy fines for law-breaking.

President Ramaphosa said he had decided to deploy an extra 73,180 soldiers in a letter addressed to parliament on Tuesday.

The lockdown restrictions currently apply until Thursday 30 April.

Economic relief package:   He also announced an economic relief package worth $26bn (£21bn) intended to protect companies and three million workers during the coronavirus pandemic. I  n a televised address, he said the assistance amounted to 10% of South Africa’s entire GDP.    Mr. Ramaphosa said the measures included tax relief, wage support through the unemployment insurance fund and funding to small businesses. (4/22/2020)   (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-52387962  

———————————————————-

AUSTRALIA’S REPUBLICANS AT IT AGAIN

The Australian Republican movement bears no resemblance to Republicans in the United States.  They are not a conservative force at all.   Their sole aim is to end Australia’s constitutional monarchy, which has helped the country achieve unparalleled stability and prosperity.  They have now stooped to attacking Queen Elizabeth’s faith, claiming it discriminates against other religions.  The fact is the Queen’s Protestantism and that of her ancestors laid a foundation of religious tolerance for the country.   The Queen, who turned 94 on Tuesday, is highly respected by most Australians.

PRO-republicans are engaged in a heartless waiting game as they plot to overturn Australia’s constitutional monarchy.

Realizing a vast majority of Australians retain a deep admiration for their 93-year-old Queen, republicans are counting down her demise before launching an emotion-charged assault on Australia’s constitution.

By taking this tack they hope to muddy the debate around the nation’s most important foundational document.

Their aim is to shift the conversation from one of constitutional protections and reason into an emotion-charged hysteria about the “un-likability” of Queen Elizabeth’s heirs.

If you think the Queen is nice, their argument goes, then we should remain a constitutional monarchy. But if her successor doesn’t do it for you, then we must change.

They believe time is on their side.   (Sean Burke, Politicom, 3/13/2020)

Politicom is a conservative Australian newsletter.

——————————————–

US DEFEAT IN AFGHANISTAN

On February 29, 2020 – after 18 months of talks sponsored by Qatar in Doha – the U.S. and the jihadi group Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Taliban organization) signed an agreement in the Qatari capital on the future of Afghanistan.  The democratically elected government of Afghanistan, headed by Ashraf Ghani, was excluded from the talks and from the agreement, and, despite the fact that the Taliban rejected any ceasefire as a precondition for the talks, the U.S. capitulated and agreed to a one-week “Reduction In Violence” on the part of the Taliban.

The agreement was hailed as victory and as an American surrender by Al-Qaeda and by the Taliban leaders at celebratory events across Afghanistan.   The agreement was titled “Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan Between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Which is Not Recognized by the United States as a State And is Known as the Taliban, And the United States of America,” but the Islamic Emirate issued a statement in which it dubbed the pact the “Termination of Occupation Agreement Between the Islamic Emirate and U.S.”

A month after the Doha agreement, the democratically elected government of President Ashraf Ghani is being badgered by both the U.S. and the Taliban to free 5,000 Taliban prisoners.   (MEMRI,  4/21/2020)

———————————————————————-

DOES EUROPE HAVE ANY CONSERVATIVES?

Does Europe have any conservatives?   That is, believers in individual responsibility, national independence, free markets, a single law for all, the traditional family, and maximum freedom of speech and religion.

Seemingly not. Politicians called conservative – such as Angela Merkel of Germany Jacques Chirac of France, and Fredrik Reinfeldt of Sweden – are often in reality mild leftists, as are their parties.  One might conclude that conservatism is defunct in its homeland.

One would be wrong.   A substantial conservative movement exists and is growing in Europe.  It is hiding in plain sight, obscured by being tarred as populists, nationalists, extreme-right, or even Neo‑Nazis.   I call this group by another name:   civilizationists, acknowledging that (1) they focus on preserving Western civilization and (2) they forward some distinctly un-conservative policies (such as increased welfare and pension payments).

Civilizationists’ top concern is not battling climate change, building the European Union, nor staving off Russian and Chinese aggression; rather, they focus on preserving Europe’s historic civilization of the past two millennia.  They worry about Europe becoming an extension of the Middle East or Africa.   Already, indigenous Europeans complain of feeling like strangers in their hometowns, of pensioners too scared to leave their houses, and of a school’s few Christian and Jewish students beat up by immigrant bullies.   Imagine how things will look as the proportions change.

The civilizationists’ anxiety contains four main elements: demography, immigration, multiculturalism, and Islamization (or DIMI, recalling the Arabic word dhimmi, the status of Jews and Christians who submit to the rule of Muslims).   (“Finding Europe’s hidden conservatives,” Daniel Pipes, 4/21/2020)

———————————————————

AFRICAN LEADERS ENJOY FIRST CLASS MEDICAL CARE WHILE THEIR PEOPLE GO WITHOUT

When Muhammadu Buhari was elected president of Nigeria in 2015 — amid a wave of disgust towards the corruption that plagues his giant nation — he promised to put a stop to politicians flying abroad for medical treatment.   It was a popular pledge, especially after revelations that the state spent $1bn a year on health tourism for rich elites while offering dire services for almost everyone else.   He underlined his stance soon after taking office, telling a doctors’ conference he did not want “hard-earned resources” frittered away on officials seeking care abroad when it could be delivered at home.

Such fine and righteous words.   So there was fury the following year when this leader in his seventies flew to London for treatment of an ear infection.   This was “a tragic blot” on Nigeria’s image, thundered Dr. Osahon Enabulele, a former head of its medical association.  The new president, he added, should have used his minor ailment to focus people on the urgent need for domestic health reform.

But Buhari was not listening.   He went off on several more trips and, by the end of his first term last year, had spent at least 170 days in Britain on health grounds.

Buhari is far from the only African leader to display such lack of faith in his own nation.  Robert Mugabe died last year aged 95 in a Singaporean hospital, having so wrecked Zimbabwe and its medical system that life expectancy plummeted by 26 years at one point. “It is very symbolic the former president who presided over the system for three decades can’t trust the health system,” said one doctor after his death.  Other physicians complained of carrying out surgery without even putting on protective gloves.

Meles Zenawi ruled Ethiopia for 21 years, suckering Western admirers who overlooked his savage repression as they fell for his talk of development — yet this wily despot died in a Belgian hospital. Omar Bongo ran Gabon for 42 years, then died in Barcelona having plundered his country’s wealth obscenely while leaving his tiny 2.2m population trapped in poverty.

Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who ruled and ripped off Angola for almost as long, travelled to the same Catalan city for treatment. Algeria’s former president went to a Swiss hospital after running his nation for 20 years, then suffering a stroke.   Benin’s president went to France for surgery.   Two Zambian leaders died abroad while receiving medical attention.   (“Covid-19 will expose Africa’s tyrants”, Ian Birrell, Unherd, 4/20/2020)

Due to the pandemic,  Africa’s leaders can no longer travel abroad for medical treatment.

———————————————————————

IRAN’S DRONES CAN HIT ISRAEL

Iran’s Defense Ministry unveiled a mass of new drones [unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs] over the weekend for the Islamic Republic’s army and air force.   According to Tehran the drones have new capabilities, and can fly more than 1,000 km, which means they could reach Israel from Iran.

Iran has been producing drones since the 1980s and is an innovator in drone warfare.   It used 25 drones and cruise missiles to attack Saudi Arabia last September, and has flown drones into Israeli airspace.

Iran’s Defense Minister Brig.-Gen. Amir Hatami showed off the drones on Saturday.   He said that one jet-powered UAV could fly at speeds of 900 km per hour at an altitude of 12,000 meters.  This would rival the best drones that the US and other countries are now using.   These drones have a range of up to 1,500 km, he said, and can fly for several hours.   It is a message to Israel, the US and their allies: We can reach you.  (Iran’s drones can reach Israel, Seth Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, 4/19/2020)

——————————————————————-

TO THE POINT

  • A UNIQUE RAMADAN BEGINS – The Islamic holy month of Ramadan will begin worldwide around April 23.   Because the month typically involves daily social gatherings and communal prayer in mosques, it will present yet more security and economic challenges to local and national governments in Muslim-majority countries already struggling to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.   With some countries like Egypt shutting down traditional Ramadan charity tents for fear of the virus spreading within them, the month could see an exacerbation of existing socioeconomic strain, and with it some disruption to stability over time.   In Indonesia, the annual Mudik pilgrimage could see an estimated 1.3 million people leave the Jakarta area for rural destinations across the archipelago — a potential vector to spread COVID-19 outside its current epicenter in the nation, and one the government has hesitated to crack down on.  (Stratfor, 4/18/2020)
  • With half the world in lockdown, with little else to do but Netflix-and-try-to-chill, the streaming giant unsurprisingly unveiled a bumper set of first-quarter results.   Netflix said it had added nearly 16m new subscribers in the quarter, 23% more than during the same period last year.   Net income, meanwhile, more than doubled to $709m over the same period.   (The Economist, 4/22/2020)
  • 24NYT, a Danish news service, reported on Sunday that the Danish Bible Society just published a revised translation of the New Testament.   The new edition has many surprises, including a new name:   the New Agreement.   But even more shocking is that the “New Agreement has all but removed any references to Israel, whether it describes the land or the people”.
  • Washington:   A day after laying out a roadmap for reviving economic activity, US President Donald Trump has urged his supporters to “liberate” three Democrat-led states, effectively calling for protests against stay-at-home orders aimed at containing the coronavirus.   In a series of tweets, the President urged people in Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia to rise up and “liberate” themselves from restrictions.  He also hit out at New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo for criticising the federal response.  Cuomo “should spend more time ‘doing’ and less time ‘complaining,”‘ he said, adding: “Less talk and more action!”  (AP, 4/18/2020)
  • Corona and the Rise of the German Police State by Thomas Klikauer (author), Jeffrey St. Clair, Editor of Counterpunch (California).       The current crisis is used to prevent protests and to impose measures in a highly authoritarian way.  Currently, there is not much resistance against police measures.   Currently, signs are that Germany is moving [toward] more restrictions issued every day.  There might not be a fully developed police state in Germany but democracy is suffering in Germany and elsewhere.   https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/04/17/corona-and-the-rise-of-the-german-police-state/)

————————————————————

AFTER THOUGHT

Scientists (including medical experts) are highly respected right now.

It hasn’t always been that way.  There was a time when science had to bow to religion.  All new theories had to fit with the teachings of the established church.

The theory of evolution in 1859 changed all that.

A lot of good has been achieved, but it should also be remembered that there’s been a negative side to science:  abortion, euthanasia, nuclear weapons to name just three.

We must be careful not to elevate scientists and health care professionals, which we are in danger of doing right now.   Scientists likely caused the corona virus through experiments in Wuhan.

We must also be concerned that a victory over corona does not extend to a carte blanche on all things to do with the environment.   A highly respected profession may take us in a direction that could cause all kinds of problems.

All Christians should remember to “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matt 6:33).   A British news program said earlier this week that:  “the NHS is the closest thing Britain has to a national religion.”   Comments like this one are disturbing.

Worshipping science or the health services would be unwise.  That way, we set ourselves up for a fall.

MR     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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)

——————————————————————————

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).

————————————————-

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/)

—————————————————–

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/)

———————————————————–

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)

———————————————————–

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/)

——————————————————————–

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)

——————————————————-

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)

——————————————————-

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/)

———————————————

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)

——————————————–

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)

———————————————–

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)

—————————————————–

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.

 

 

 

NEW GERMAN COALITION TO INCREASE MILITARY STRENGTH

Angela Merkel and Martin Schulz

Europe remains in a continual state of flux.   The UK is leaving the EU and facing an uncertain future.  The EU must punish Britain. It cannot afford to let the UK succeed outside of the Union, or others may follow her through the “exit” door.   Greece is finally coming out of years of serious economic troubles.   Eastern European nations are at variance with Germany over immigration.   Austria has a new conservative government that includes the right-wing Freedom Party.   Always remember, when looking at Europe, that the turmoil the continent is now going through will lead to the fulfillment of the following prophecy.

“The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast.  These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.” (Revelation 17:12-13)

GERMAN COALITION

It looks as if Mrs. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (supposedly a conservative party) is going to be able to form a coalition with the left-of-center Social Democrats, led by Martin Schulz.   This combination is referred to as a Grand Coalition, bringing two opposing parties together again.

“One downside to the grand coalition is that it leaves the right-wing nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD), which made a surprisingly strong showing in September’s polls, as the largest opposition party, giving it a number of advantages including public funding and leadership roles in some parliamentary committees.  The AfD, the closest thing to Nazis to win seats in the Bundestag since the actual Nazis, ran a racially inflected populist campaign that capitalized on widespread anxieties about the influx of refugees and migrants from the Muslim Middle East, which the AfD said were threatening both Germany’s national security and its national identity.”  (“Germany’s political turmoil is bad news for Europe,” Jonah Shepp, New York magazine, 1/16/18).

Looking to the future, Mr. Shepp wrote:

“Part of Merkel’s problem is that she represents a waning generation of political leadership whose preference for moderation and incremental progress is being rejected in favor of bold new ideas on both the right and the left.   German voters flocked to smaller parties in September, particularly the AfD and FDP, while the Greens and the Left made gains among younger voters.

“Younger members of Merkel’s own conservative party have been urging her step aside, while a rising generation of leaders is waiting in the wings to succeed her.   The most talked-about potential successor is 37-year-old Jens Spahn, an openly gay man who has criticized Merkel from the right on immigration issues.   Another name that comes up is Ursula von der Leyen, the current defense minister, whose positions are more liberal.

“The other mainstream parties are also looking at generational transitions:   CSU chairman Horst Seehofer is handing the Bavarian premiership over to Markus Söder, 18 years his junior, while many Social Democrats are looking to oust their leader Martin Schulz after their disappointing performance in September.”

The composition of the new coalition means there will be fireworks ahead as each party wants different things.   It’s not likely the government can stay together very long.   That also means Mrs. Merkel’s future is uncertain and will be short-lived.   She has been Chancellor for over twelve years.

Change is likely not far off.

————————————————————————————

GERMAN REARMAMENT

Meanwhile, the German World Socialist website is warning that the new German government plans a massive expansion of its military. (This is exactly what President Trump has been demanding, that Germany spend at least 2% of its GNP on defense.)

Incoming German government plans massive military rearmament   By Johannes Stern                                                                                                           3 January 2018 * World Socialist Web Site

Extracts:

“At the beginning of December, in a keynote address to the Körber Foundation in Berlin, Social Democrat Sigmar Gabriel demanded that after seven decades of relative foreign policy restraint, Germany return to an independent foreign and military policy – supported by a militarized European Union under German leadership.   “Now we realize that even with great economic prosperity in our country there is no comfortable place on the side-lines of international politics for us anymore.   Neither for us Germans nor for us Europeans,” he declared provocatively.

“Significantly, the SWP, which is close to the government, has once again submitted a paper titled “Dissolution or Replacement?   The International Order in Transition,” which openly makes the case for the establishment of a new world order under German-European leadership.   Above all, it considers China and the US, with or without Trump, as international rivals.

“ . . . The entire paper makes clear that the ruling classes in Germany and Europe are again preparing for a new major war. “

————————————————————————

BREXIT

The Brits are on their way out and leaving the EU with an almighty headache about money.   Rows over the common pot of cash in the EU27 will be about €13bn a year more painful after the UK blows a hole in the budget after 2020.   (FT Brussels Briefing, 1/9)

——————————————————————————-

GREECE’S 8 YEARS OF AUSTERITY UNDER GERMAN DIRECTION IS ALMOST OVER

It’s a Grexit with a difference. 2018 should be the year Greece ends eight years of economic tutelage, closing a chapter on an extraordinary period in the EU’s financial crisis fight.

August is the planned exit date and Greece’s Syriza government has been quietly crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s on its €86bn bailout ahead of the summer. In a familiar ritual, the Greek parliament this week passed its last mountain of sweeping reforms – touching everything from energy markets to trade unions – to unlock its latest dose of rescue money.   Eurozone finance ministers should sign off on the penultimate bailout review on Monday.

In one last act of defiance, thousands of protesters gathered outside the Greek parliament to vent their rage against labour laws that make it harder for trade unions to call strikes. “The law is totally undemocratic, a form of modern slavery” the head of Greece’s public sector union told The Guardian‘s Helena Smith.  (FT Brussels Briefing, 1/17)

——————————————————————————-

STRATFOR’S PREDICTION FOR NEW YEAR

2018 Annual Forecast – North Korea’s likely achievement of a viable nuclear deterrent next year will give rise to a new and more unstable era of containment.   As the specter of war looms in the Asia-Pacific, China and Russia will band together while the United States cracks down even harder on Iran — as well as its own trade partners.  (Stratfor 1/17)

__________________________________________________________________

ISRAEL EXPELLING 10,000 AFRICAN IMMIGRANTS

Israel launches plan to expel thousands of African migrants                4 Jan 2018

Jerusalem – Israel on Wednesday began implementing a plan to force tens of thousands of African migrants out of the country by April, threatening to arrest those who stay.  “This plan will get under way today,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting.  Under the programme, some 38,000 migrants who entered Israel illegally, mainly Eritreans and Sudanese, will have until the end of March to leave.  Each will receive a plane ticket and $3,500 to do so.   After the deadline, this amount will decrease and those who continue to refuse to go will face arrest.  Holot, an open facility in Israel’s desert south that can host 1,200 migrants who are allowed to leave to work during the day, is also set to be closed. Netanyahu pledged to “return south Tel Aviv to the citizens of Israel”, adding that the Africans were “not refugees but illegal infiltrators.”

—————————————————————–

BECOME LIKE LITTLE CHILDREN

Our youngest grandson, not even two yet, already knows a lot more than most politicians, judges and liberal intellectuals in the western world.

Hayden has it down pat.  He knows to go to either Mom or Grandma when he wants food or needs his diaper changed; he’s also learned, when he wants fun, that Dad or Grandpa are the go-to people.

If a 20-month-old toddler can clearly distinguish gender roles, why can’t judges, politicians and lawyers?

They would do well to ponder the following words of Jesus Christ:

… Jesus called a little child to stand among them. “Truly I tell you, He said, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

(Matthew 18:2-4)

————————————————————————-

FOUR LETTER WORDS

I took my wife and daughter to see a movie today.   On the way there, our daughter was doing a crossword on her phone.   She suddenly said:   “I need a four lettered word.”   I suggested she call the White House!

It’s ironic that the bad word President Trump allegedly used to describe African countries and Haiti has some truth to it.   We lived in Africa for over ten years.  During that time, we hosted many western visitors, both black and white.   The one thing everybody complained about was the toilet facilities – or, rather, the lack of them.

This does not mean that there is nothing positive to say about Africa. As I often remarked to visitors:   “we can teach them a lot about plumbing, but we can’t teach them anything about relationships. That’s where they can teach us.”

Back to Trump’s expletive.   Both Richard Nixon and his predecessor LBJ used a lot of bad language.  I suspect every president has since, to one degree or another.

 

Whenever I hear certain words, I am reminded of what my old English teacher said over fifty years ago.   “People who use bad language have a limited vocabulary with which to express themselves!”   There’s a lot of truth in that.

————————————————————————–

MORE IGNORANCE

Senator Jeff Flake (Arizona Republican) has compared President Trump to Josef Stalin.

This kind of ignorance is appalling and dangerous.

Trump has his problems, but he cannot be equated with Stalin, a dictator who killed millions of people in his own country.   Millions more were sent to their deaths in the gulags.

Additionally, ordering the murders of five of his top nine generals prior to World War II meant the country was almost defeated by the German army.   The death toll from this alone was twenty million.

Senator Flake should not be allowed back into Congress until he has read all three volumes of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s “Gulag Archipelago.”   This would give him a much better idea of Russia’s reality under Uncle Joe.

Others who have compared Trump to Hitler should be assigned William Shirer’s “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.”

Unfortunately, ignorance does not preclude entry into Congress!  If anything, it helps.

———————————————————————-

Israeli Mayors Rail Against Law Limiting Commerce on Shabbat   11 Jan 2018 * JNS.org 

Dozens of mayors across Israel vowed on Tuesday to fight the country’s new law limiting commerce on Shabbat, saying they will not enforce it.   The controversial “supermarkets bill” passed in the Knesset with a razor-thin majority of 58-57 on Tuesday morning. The law, an amendment to the Local Authorities Law’s provisions on the operation of local businesses on days of rest, gives the interior minister the power to shutter businesses that choose to remain open on Shabbat.   During the past few weeks, Israeli municipalities have raced to bypass the looming supermarkets law, passing and bolstering bylaws allowing businesses to remain open on Shabbat.

“The supermarkets bill is meaningless.  It is up to the mayors to enforce it and I say in no uncertain terms that I have no intention of sending inspectors to enforce it,”  Ramat Gan Mayor Yisrael Zinger said Tuesday.   “We are a liberal city, and we believe in allowing people to live their lives according to their own beliefs.  This is what creates the fabric of life in the city,” he said.   Prior to the vote on the bill, Holon Mayor Moti Sasson pledged “to do everything within my power to preserve the status quo in the city, as part of which some businesses will be open on Shabbat for the benefit of the residents.” Givatayim Mayor Ran Kunik also announced he would not enforce the new law, telling reporters he is determined to preserve the status quo in his city.   “Givatayim knows what’s best for its residents better than any minister,” he said.