The Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, had to abruptly end his Hawaiian family holiday to return to Australia to fight bushfires which are the worst in history. Millions of dollars’ worth of damage has been done to property in rural New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Over 4 million hectares (almost ten million acres) have been destroyed.
There was a public outcry against the prime minister, with people calling for an immediate end to his vacation. All those protesting were showing their ignorance, as fighting bush fires is a state responsibility and not that of the federal government.
They were also ignorant when it comes to climate change. This is why Mr. Morrison got attacked – he has defended the Australian coal industry and come under a lot of criticism for it. But as many as 50% of all fires are started deliberately. Here in Michigan, a billboard proclaims that 9 out of 10 fires are caused by humans.
“Two of the most recent studies say there are between 52,000 and 54,000 bushfires in Australia every year. Dr. Paul Read, co-director of Australia’s National Centre for Research in Bushfire and Arson, puts the figure higher, at “62,000 and increasing.”
Of those, 13% are started deliberately, and 37% are suspicious. That means 31,000 Australian bushfires are either arson, or suspected arson, every year.
That figure does not include recklessness or accidents. So a bushfire caused by a barbecue, or a spark from a chainsaw, would be classed as “accidental.” In short, up to 85 bushfires begin every day because someone leaves their house and decides to start one.” (BBC 11/10)
It may be months before the fires can be brought under control, as the dry season of summer continues. By the time they are, Australia will have serious economic damage. There may even be food shortages as so many farms have been ruined.
‘Right on our doorstep’: Secret sub reveals China’s chilling plan After years of domination in the South China Sea, Chinese submarines have started popping up somewhere new – and it’s on our doorstep. by Jamie Seidel, news.com.au, DECEMBER 24, 2019 1:11PM
The Andaman Sea is fast becoming the latest target of Chinese expansionism. India says it has seen a surge of Chinese submarine activity in the strategically critical waterway.
And, last month, its navy booted a Chinese spy ship out of its waters. But Indian Navy sources say Chinese submarines have become a regular visitor to the region. And they’re much harder to deal with.
In September, the Indian navy evicted the Chinese survey ship Shiyan-1 for intruding upon its exclusive economic zone. It was sailing among the Andaman and Nicobar Islands without permission. And such survey ships map the ocean floor for just two purposes: military or economic.
Seeking oil, gas or other significant resource deposits inside Indian waters would be … cheeky. Gleaning high-resolution charts of canyons on the sea floor for submarines to hide among would be … offensive.
Exactly why China would be interested in these islands can be inferred by the proximity of Malacca Strait. The narrow channel is a natural choke-point for most of Asia’s trade and fuel supplies. In any future conflict, knowledge of the waters surrounding it would be a matter of victory or defeat.
And that fight would be on Australia’s doorstep.
Russia Is Stepping Up Its Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses
Jehovah’s Witnesses, a U.S.-based international Christian denomination claiming 8.5 million members, are a common sight in countries around the world, as proselytizing door-to-door is a central tenet of their faith. But in Russia they have been forced underground following imprisonment and allegations of torture; only Islamic fundamentalists are treated more harshly.
Russia’s justice ministry calls the group, which has grown its membership here to 170,000, a threat to public order. They were banned as “extremist” in Russia in 2017, putting them in the same ranks as neo-Nazis. A spokesperson for the conservative Russian Orthodox Church, which has grown in influence under Putin, has said Jehovah’s Witnesses manipulate people’s consciousness and “can not be called Christians.”
Now, the crackdown is escalating. On Dec. 13, Vladimir Alushkin, an entrepreneur from Penza southeast of Moscow, was sentenced to six years for organizing “extremist activities” after a judge ruled that he had preached the ideas of Jehovah’s Witnesses, organized worship services, distributed literature and gathered donations. Five others including his wife Tatyana received two-year suspended sentences and three years of probation.
After the 2017 ban, 395 branches of the church in Russia were shut down and their evangelizing and meetings were forbidden. The organization says 297 members in Russia are facing criminal charges; 43 are in detention and 22 are under house arrest. At least 5,000 have fled Russia for Europe and North America.
The brutal repressions have reminded some in the church of when Joseph Stalin sent nearly 10,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses to guarded settlements in Siberia. (Time, Dec 2019)
THE FALL OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE
Singapore’s hidden military secrets
by Emiko Jozuka, 23 Dec 2019, Singapore (CNN)
Inside the dimly lit underground bunker, 12 military commanders are about to trigger the largest capitulation in British military history. At 9:45 a.m. on February 15, 1942, Lt. Gen. Arthur Percival and 11 other senior officers agreed to surrender the British Empire’s forces, numbering more than 120,000 in Malaysia and Singapore, to the Japanese, whose troops numbered under half that. They made that decision from within “the Battlebox,” a secret and heavily fortified underground military bunker that’s been turned into a museum at Fort Canning Hill in Singapore. After 70 days of brutal jungle warfare, Percival’s crew was short on ammunition, food and water. “The primary defense of the British Empire rested on the defense of Singapore. From there, Britain could span her entire empire in Asia,” explains Battlebox director Jeya Ayadurai. But surrender soon became the only option. Percival’s decision would not just open the darkest chapter in Singapore’s modern history — it also sparked the unraveling of the British Empire.
. . . “There are a lot of myths regarding the Battle of Singapore, and we felt that [the reasons] why Singapore fell had to be more readily explained and understood. We wanted to bring focus in terms of modern Singapore looking forward,” he adds. As Singapore focused on growth, the idea of commemorating the past was overlooked, says Ayadurai. “We became a first world country in haste, and we were able to do that because we were very focused on the economy, but there was not much focus on remembrance,” he says.
Europe’s Age of Humiliation
Sławomir Sierakowski in Project Syndicate writes trenchantly on the EU being “helpless and resigned” in the face of global challenges:
“Today, the EU increasingly resembles nineteenth-century China: a still-rich empire that cannot be occupied by others, but is weak enough to be infiltrated and exploited. China, meanwhile, has assumed Europe’s former role, with its companies and investors increasingly penetrating the European economy and extending their influence.” (Brussels Briefing, 12/19)
Following the electoral victory of Britain’s Conservatives under Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the German government is now urging a continuation of its close cooperation with that country. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas expressed his hopes that the United Kingdom “remains a close partner.” Chancellor Angela Merkel is “looking forward to our continued cooperation, for friendship, and a close partnership between our countries.” Berlin needs Great Britain’s political and military capabilities for implementing Germany’s European global policy projects. The British armed forces are still considered to be the most powerful in Europe and London still has considerable influence on global policy. Political and economic examples show that disregarding Britain’s interests can push London into direct rivalry to Berlin. This factor is now all the more important, because Brexit provides the United Kingdom economic and political alternatives to cooperation with the EU. (German Foreign Policy, 12/19)
ANTI-SEMITISM IN EUROPE
- “Although Jews represent less than one percent of the population, half of the racist acts committed in France are committed against Jews.” — French Member of Parliament Meyer Habib.
- Anti-Semitism is advancing throughout the continent and often has a Middle” Eastern cast. Yet, the authorities also talk only about right-wing anti-Semitism.
- Leftist anti-Semitism is present all over Europe. Its followers, as in France, do their best to hide and protect Middle Eastern anti-Semitism.
- The demographic transformation taking place in France is also happening throughout Western Europe, and the growing submission to Islam is being silently accepted by the ruling authorities almost everywhere. (Gatestone, 12/20)
From the Catholic Chronicle: People who have not yet received the Gospel message do not live only in non-Western continents; they live everywhere, particularly in vast urban concentrations that call for a specific pastoral outreach. In big cities, we need other “maps,” other paradigms, which can help us reposition our ways of thinking and our attitudes. Brothers and sisters, Christendom no longer exists! Today we are no longer the only ones who create culture, nor are we in the forefront or those most listened to. We need a change in our pastoral mindset, which does not mean moving towards a relativistic pastoral care. We are no longer living in a Christian world, because faith – especially in Europe, but also in a large part of the West – is no longer an evident presupposition of social life; indeed, faith is often rejected, derided, marginalized and ridiculed.
… I think of five countries that filled the world with missionaries – I told you which ones they are – and today lack the vocational resources to go forward. That is today’s world. (Christendom no longer exists, Rocco Palmo, 12/21, Catholic Chronicle)
A fraction of Peter’s Pence donations actually ends up with charitable causes A fraction of donations to a special papal fund goes directly to charitable causes with the rest spent on plugging the Holy See’s budget deficit, according to a report in “The Wall Street Journal.” Around 10 per cent of the monies donated to Peter’s Pence is spent on supporting the poor and suffering out of an annual budget of €50 million (£42 million).
The fund is technically not for charitable purposes describing itself as serving “the many different needs of the Universal Church and for the relief of those most in need,” and has long been used to help with the Vatican’s running costs. But the news that such a large portion of the budget is still being used to balance the Vatican’s books shows the deep-seated problems Pope Francis is grappling with in attempting to reform the Vatican’s finances. Soon after his election, Francis lamented that the monies were being used to plug deficits rather than being spent on the poor. During his pontificate, the Pope has used the fund to help the destitute, including sending $500,000 (£375,000) in April 2019 to help migrants on the Mexico border. “Let us make money go to the poor,” the Pope told his financial advisers in 2013, according to a new book on the papacy, “Wounded Shepherd”, by Austen Ivereigh. The Vatican does not publish a detailed breakdown of how Peter’s Pence money is spent, and what portion goes to covering administration costs, although it does list which projects it has supported on a website, http://www.peterspence.va. The total value of the fund is thought to be roughly €600 million.
Peter’s Pence has its origins in ninth-century England when King Alfred the Great collected money from landowners to support the Pope. The practice was revived, and formalised by Pius IX in 1871 and was known as the Obolo di San Pietro (“offerings from the faithful”).
(Copyright © The Tablet Publishing Company 2015 – 2019, all rights reserved)
US IMAM CLAIMS ALLAH TRANSFORMED JEWS INTO APES AND PIGS
Indonesian-American Imam Mohamad Joban of Masjid Ar-Rahmah in Redmond, WA delivered a lecture focusing on a Quranic story of a town of Jews who were transformed into apes by Allah for having rebelled against Him by setting fishing nets on Friday, before the Sabbath, and collecting the fish on Sunday. He said that this story was never exposed because the Jews cover up bad stories about themselves and always pretend to be pious. Laughing, he told how the Jews who had been transformed into apes cried because they couldn’t recognize one another as apes.
Then Imam Joban said that in another verse, the violators were transformed into pigs. He discussed the question whether the transformed Jews had offspring and said that there are two views about this. However, he mentioned two cases, from Egypt and Malaysia, where newborns looked like descendants of apes and pigs. Imam Joban and his congregation chanted from the Quran responsively: “When [the Jews] rebelled against the commands to refrain, [Allah] said to them, ‘Be despicable apes’…” Imam Joban is a full-time Imam at Masjid Ar-Rahmah, which belongs to the Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS). The lecture was uploaded to the MAPS Redmond YouTube channel on December 17, 201 (MEMRI, 12/23)
REPORT ON ‘NEW PALESTINE’ SHARPLY CONTRADICTS US POSITIONS
Trump plan sees 3-way peace deal between Israel, PLO, Hamas
Lebanese outlet claims deal would see Israel keep settlements, Palestinians get Jerusalem share, Saudis gain Temple Mount role, Egypt give land for Gaza. (Times of Israel, 17 Dec 2019)
Claiming to have obtained a copy of the Trump administration’s long-awaited peace deal, a Lebanese TV station asserted Monday that the US plan envisions a tripartite agreement providing for Palestinian statehood to be signed by Israel, the West Bank-based Palestine Liberation Organization and the Hamas terrorist group that rules the Gaza Strip. The report by the pro-Hezbollah Al-Mayadeen features details that starkly contradict the limited information the administration has released about the plan, and that stand at sharp odds with known US and Israeli positions, casting considerable doubt on the credibility of the report.
The report claimed the United States would end its economic support for Israel if the Jewish state rejects the deal, which reportedly provides for establishing a Palestinian state in Gaza and parts of the West Bank to be called “New Palestine.” (https://www.timesofisrael.com/report-trump-plan-envisages-three-way-peace-deal-between-israel-plo-and-hamas/)
PLEASE NOTE: THE ABOVE HAS NOT BEEN VERIFIED BY ANY OTHER SOURCE.
TO THE POINT
- Lagos, Nigeria: A slow-motion war is under way in Africa’s most populous country. It’s a massacre of Christians, massive in scale and horrific in brutality. And the world has hardly noticed. (WSJ, 12/20)
- The justice department has unveiled plans for a crackdown on violent crime in seven US cities. William Barr, the attorney general, outlined Operation Relentless Pursuit at a press conference in Detroit on Thursday, flanked by the leaders of several federal law enforcement agencies. The plan will increase the federal law enforcement presence in Detroit, Albuquerque, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Memphis and Milwaukee, which have crime rates higher than the national average.(Guardian, 12/20)
- Tony Blair criticized the Labor leadership at the recent general election. The former Labor prime minister argued that if the party does not jettison Jeremy Corbyn’s “quasi-revolutionary socialism” and revert to a more centrist position, then it might become extinct. He also mocked Labor’s “almost comic indecision” over Brexit; Mr. Corbyn stayed neutral on the biggest issue of the campaign. (Economist, 12/19)
- The evangelical Christian magazine, Christianity Today, founded by Billy Graham has called for Trump’s removal from office following his impeachment, in a break from the president’s typically staunch evangelical support. (Guardian, 12/20)
- Turkish President Erdogan Again Threatens To Push Refugees Into Europe: ‘All European Countries – Above All, Greece – Will Feel The Pressure Turkey Feels (MEMRI 12/24) (http://memri.convio.net/site/R?i=cBe2CcBx5_Z5jD6a-Mi-Xw)