“In a stroke, and without a single constitutional shot fired, the country was given over to two unelected doctors named Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, the Democrats suddenly discovered the virtues of federalism, and the economy slammed into the brick wall of the CCP virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, as governors across the country trashed the Constitution and began ordering their residents around like serfs.” (“The Rule of doctors threatens Trump’s reelection,” Michael Walsh, Epoch Times, May 7-13)
“In California’s Alameda Country, a Chinese American man was screamed at while moving his lawn. The local prosecutor said the man was told to get out of America.
“In neighboring Santa Clara County, a Vietnamese couple were threatened in a grocery store. Officials said the man turned his hand into the shape of a gun.
“In New York City, people of Asian descent were assaulted, kicked, pushed and accosted on subway trains.
“The theme: This virus is your fault.” (“Hate crimes and biases against Asians on rise,” Kristine Phillips, USA Today, 5/21/2020)
Coronavirus may kill the strangest beast of all — Donald Trump’s re-election prospects. And yet . . . and yet …
Right now the virus is proving particularly deadly for the prospects of populists and authoritarians. Trump is no authoritarian but he is the world’s No 1 populist.
His fellow populists look pretty messy. Jair Bolsonaro, President of Brazil, makes Trump look a model of dull consistency, a desiccated calculating machine, with his wild and crazy talk. Coronavirus, the Brazilian says, is only “the little flu.” One by one his senior cabinet
ministers resign or get the sack as the President opposes his own government’s health regulations.
But local and provincial authorities widely ignore their President. The coronavirus caseload is nonetheless exploding in Brazil. The death rate is still relatively modest.
Trump’s closest political friend internationally, Britain’s Boris Johnson, also leads an ineffective government response. Johnson won immense personal sympathy and respect for the characteristically cheerful, generous way he endured his near-death virus episode.
But Britain has one of the worst COVID-19 death rates in the world. Johnson’s government responded too late and especially didn’t cut down travel from China. It failed to take the warnings seriously in January and February and didn’t increase its stockpiles of personal
protective equipment for healthcare workers. Nor did it sufficiently increase its beds. (Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 5/16/2020)
EU PLANS FOR RECOVERY
The European Commission on Wednesday proposed a €750 billion ($821 billion) aid package to help Europe’s economic recovery from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed over 350,000 people globally.
In a statement on its website, the EU governing body proposed the creation of a new recovery instrument, dubbed Next Generation EU, to address the economic damage caused by the outbreak.
“The recovery plan turns the immense challenge we face into an opportunity, not only by supporting the recovery but also by investing in our future: the European Green Deal and digitalization will boost jobs and growth, the resilience of our societies and the health of our environment,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in the statement.
“This is Europe’s moment. Our willingness to act must live up to the challenges we are all facing. With Next Generation EU we are providing an ambitious answer.”
Such an aid package requires all 27 member states to agree for the plan to take effect. (DW News, 5/27/2020)
UK EPIDEMIC OF GROOMING
“Almost 19,000 children have been sexually groomed in England in the past year, according to official figures that have prompted warnings of an ‘epidemic.’ Campaigners say the true figure is far higher. . . ” — The Independent, December 2019.
“The government’s repeated failure to acknowledge the role of racism and religious bigotry in grooming gang crime has led to inadequate investigation, protection and prosecution,” one survivor, who wanted to remain anonymous, told The Independent in December 2019. (Judith Bergman, Gatestone, 5/16/2020)
CIVILIZATIONISTS TRYING TO SAVE WESTERN CIV
Civilizationists’ top concern is not battling climate change, building the European Union, or 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.
That anxiety contains four 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).
Civilizationists . . . are already a powerful force, having advanced from a marginal position twenty years ago to a central role in many countries. They are the key opposition force in Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden. They have been or are part of the government in Austria, Estonia, Italy, Norway, and Switzerland. They govern in a coalition in Poland and on their own in Hungary.(Daniel Pipes, Gatestone, 4/20/2020)
ARE THE GERMANS EDGING CLOSER TO TRUE FISCAL UNION?
For the second time in the last three years, France and Germany have teamed up on an ambitious plan to rescue Europe—but this time their big road map looks likely to actually go someplace. The Franco-German declaration this week, “A French-German Initiative for European Recovery From the Coronavirus Crisis,” comes as the European Union finds itself immersed in a political and economic crisis in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and just a week before the European Commission is set to unveil its own blueprint for recovery.
The headline part of the Franco-German plan is a bold, 500 billion-euro fund (about $550 billion) to help out ailing economies that are struggling to rebuild after the economic carnage from months of near-total shutdowns. The big question is whether naysayers like Austria and the Netherlands, which have long opposed picking up the tab for what they see as profligate Southern Europeans, will be persuaded to go along with such an ambitious, pan-European rescue.
And an even bigger question is whether the powerful endorsement of Germany, along with France, could edge the EU closer to the sort of fiscal integration that the more frugal Northern European countries, led by Berlin, have resisted in the past. The Franco-German proposal for the European Commission to issue debt and then give grants where needed isn’t quite the straight-up debt-sharing that southern countries had asked for, dubbed “coronabonds” – but it’s a step in that direction, marking a turnabout for Germany. And proposing to offer troubled regions grants rather than loans is a way to make the recovery less painful – another important departure that brings Europe a little bit closer to fiscal transfers, another taboo subject.
“You can call it what you want, but it’s large-scale mutualized debt, it’s a different form of coronabonds,” said J.H.H. Weiler, an expert on the European Union at New York University Law School. “It crosses a certain line.” (Keith Johnson, Foreign Policy, 5/20/2020)
HOME TOWN HOPE
It’s hard to think of a place more deserving of a post-Brexit boom than Grimsby. In the 1950s it had the largest trawler fleet in the world, brought in hundreds of tonnes of cod a day, and you could cross its harbour by walking over ships in the dock. But the Cod Wars were lost and the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy began to bite. Now Grimsby is one of the most deprived areas in the country, and its long road down to the docks is littered with shuttered shops.
Simply put, it’s exactly the kind of place the Tories are hoping to ‘level up’ and win over before the next election. In 2016, along with Hull and much of the rest of the Humber, it voted to leave the EU and it elected its first Tory MP in 75 years in December. (Spectator, 3/14/2020)
NEW ZEALAND HEADING FOR ECONOMIC CRISIS
No national leader has been as feted as Jacinda Ardern during this pandemic. Young and progressive, New Zealand’s Prime Minister was popular before the crisis. Since she imposed the favored pandemic solution of the left — a hard lockdown, shutting practically all business and no socializing with anyone outside your home — her star has only risen.
“Laughing in the face of seismic shakes, she has calmly steered her country in the face of a massacre, an eruption and a pandemic,” The Guardian cooed on Tuesday. Steering it into an economic abyss, perhaps.
New Zealand’s economy is in strife. Without major change, our constitutional cousin is in decline. Its public finances are in tatters, its biggest export, tourism, has been obliterated — Air New Zealand announced 4000 job losses this week — and New Zealand police now can enter people’s homes without a warrant.
“New Zealand is going backwards, falling behind the vast majority of our OECD partners in virtually every social and economic measure that matters,” said Roger Douglas, a former New Zealand Labour treasurer and the famed architect of Rogernomics.
New Zealand ranks fourth last in the OECD for labor productivity growth, and last for multi-factor productivity growth, according to economist Michael Reddell, based on OECD data. Health and education are gobbling up more of the budget as the population ages, with less and less to show for it.
The country’s Massey University reckons economic activity will tank 16 per cent in the second quarter, while government forecasts pencil in a 4.6 per cent decline this year ahead of an 8.2 per cent rebound in 2022.
“I doubt the economy will bounce back as the government hopes; and the Treasury forecasts, as bad as they are, will prove optimistic,” former NZ Treasury secretary Graham Scott said.
In one year, New Zealand has blown 30 years of hard-fought fiscal rectitude. Its public debt will explode from the equivalent of 19 per cent of gross domestic product last year to 54 per cent by 2022, on the government’s own figures.
“The real problem with the Ardern government is they have no idea whatsoever apart from how to throw money at things,” Douglas told The Australian. The targeted “investment” approach to welfare pioneered when previous prime minister Bill English was treasurer has been junked in favor of open slather. “Our $12bn wage subsidy, for instance; about a third was a donation to people who don’t need it,” he said, explaining how well-off lawyers and accountants had obtained the payments.
New Zealand’s international investment position was negative $171bn at the end of last year, more than half its GDP. “To keep international investors’ trust, we must remain squeaky clean in our fundamental economic institutions,” New Zealand Initiative chief executive Oliver Hartwich said. “Even Mexico, Nigeria and Venezuela are not as indebted to the rest of the world as New Zealand.”
(“Flightless economy to land with a thud,” Adam Creighton, The Australian, 5/27,2020)
US ALTERS STATUS OF HONG KONG
WASHINGTON—The State Department has officially determined that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Wednesday that holds implications for the future of economic ties and could lead to sanctions against China.
The State Department is required by the Hong Kong Policy Act to assess the autonomy of the territory from China. It certified to Congress on Thursday that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous.
“This decision gives me no pleasure. But sound policy-making requires a recognition of reality,” Mr. Pompeo said in the statement. “It is now clear that China is modeling Hong Kong after itself.”
U.S. endorsement of Hong Kong’s special status has served as a seal of approval of the city’s role as a global financial center with Western-style rule of law. The new assessment is likely to diminish confidence among U.S. and other foreign businesses in Hong Kong.
Among the practical outcomes of the special status, the U.S. has permitted exports of advanced technology equipment to Hong Kong that isn’t allowed to be sold elsewhere in China. It also has provided U.S. support for Hong Kong’s separate representation on global bodies from the World Health Organization to the Asian Development Bank.
(“US officially declares that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous,” Jessica Donati, Wall Street Journal, 5/27/2020)
Five Eyes is the nickname of the intelligence services of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. These five countries share their intelligence. The EU’s new intelligence service will rival Five Eyes.
FIVE EYES RIVAL
A DANE, A Swede, a German and a Dutchman walk into a bar. It is 1979 and spooks from the four countries are conferring in Munich over dark and malty lagers. For years, they had co-operated in the business of signals intelligence, or SIGINT – intercepting messages and cracking codes – and wanted a name for their budding spy pact. “They looked at their glasses, filled with Doppelbock beer of the local brand Maximator,” writes Bart Jacobs, a Dutch computer-science professor, “and reached a decision.”
In a paper published last month, Mr. Jacobs publicly revealed the existence of the Maximator alliance for the first time, to the considerable irritation of those who had kept it under wraps for decades. The group was formed in 1976, when Denmark joined forces with Germany and Sweden to intercept and decipher messages sent by satellites, a burgeoning method of communication. The Netherlands joined two years later, bringing its intercept stations in the Caribbean to the table, and France in 1985. The group is alive and well today. (The Economist, 5/27/2020)
Perhaps the most troubling – and dangerous – aspect of the current political conversation is the unwillingness of virtually every elected official and every media pundit to confront what “Obamagate” is obviously about, which is treason. Specifically, treason committed by the Obama White House in attempting to block and then overthrow the Trump presidency. Obamagate is about the failed attempt by President Obama and his appointees to use government intelligence agencies to spy on the Trump campaign and White House, to concoct a phony accusation of collusion with Russia against the president and then to obstruct his administration and overthrow him. (David Horowitz, Frontpage, 5/19/2020)
TO THE POINT
- Mike Pompeo, America’s secretary of state, declared that Hong Kong is no longer meaningfully autonomous from China. The territory currently enjoys special trading status with America—it may soon face sanctions instead, which would threaten its position as Asia’s main financial hub. The move comes as China is set to impose new national-security laws on the territory (see main stories). Yesterday hundreds of Hong Kongers were arrested as they protested against a bill that would ban insult to China’s national anthem. (The Economist, 5/28/2020)
- The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, proposed a new €750bn ($825bn) fund to help European economies recover from the pandemic. Together with an earlier rescue package and its €1.1trn budget for 2021-27, the commission will have €2.4trn at its disposal, she said. Some EU member-states welcomed the proposal, but the more frugal, such as the Netherlands, sounded relatively cautious. (The Economist, 5/28/2020)
- The number of coronavirus deaths in America surpassed 100,000, by far the highest number recorded by any single country (though not the worst on a cases-per-person basis). The dreaded milestone was reached even as many of the states have begun to ease their lockdowns, prompting fears that the overall rate of infection will soon accelerate again. (The Economist, 5/28/2020)
The murder of a nine-year-old autistic boy by his mother less than a week ago is particularly disturbing.
It has become commonplace for children to be killed by one parent or the other, for various reasons. But this boy was very vulnerable as he was non-verbal.
After initially trying to drown him, the boy was able to run to some passing adults. But he could not say what he had been through. As soon as they were gone, she succeeded on a second attempt, taking his life. The last few moments of the boy’s life must have been terrifying.
We have an 8-year-old grandson who is autistic. He’s a really good-natured boy and gives us very little trouble (unlike one or two of his brothers!).
It can be difficult raising a special needs child. Perhaps the coronavirus has made it more challenging for some. But autistic children have the same potential as others in our society. Verbal or non-verbal there are jobs that they can do, stores that will give them a job knowing they have “special needs.”
What should the punishment be in this case?
The Bible tells us to do no murder (Exodus 20:13). When murder was committed, the death penalty was enforced. It also says that the sentence should be carried out speedily. (Ezra 7:26)
Something must be done to help our children. This is even more the case when those children are mentally handicapped in some way. No sympathy should be given this mother.
One question: where was the father in all of this?