Tag Archives: St. Peter’s Basilica

THE AFRICAN SOLUTION

Marcus Garvey

Right now, the United States has the feel of South Africa about it.   Before 1994, South Africa was under the domination of one ethnic group; after 1994 it came under a different ethnic group.   Everything changed.

Clearly, the US has a lot of ethnic problems.   Perhaps Africa offers a solution.

There are over 50 African countries, each with its own president (or king), its own flag and national anthem.   They each have their own laws, but many laws are broadly the same.

For example, the Republic of Liberia specifically says that citizenship may only be given to black people.   Nearby Ghana recently extended Ghanaian citizenship to 100 African-Americans, but white people are not granted citizenship.  Not even those who are married to Ghanaians – they are given a one-year residence visa, which must be renewed every year.  You might think from this that they have really bad racial tensions, but quite the opposite is the case.   Ghana is at peace.  White people are welcome on short-term visas; if they offer skills that Ghana needs.

There is no diversity.

In the West, our emphasis is different.  In 1971, Canada was the first country to officially adopt multiculturalism.  Other nations in the western world quickly followed.   Diversity became all the rage.  In spite of the fact that it obviously doesn’t work, whenever there are riots or tensions between ethnic groups, leaders respond by saying that we need more diversity, not less.  It’s also impossible to achieve full equality between ethnic groups.

People clearly want to live with people of their own culture.

It’s only natural.

Discrimination is not right.  As the Bible says:  “God is no respecter of persons.”  (Acts 10:34)   But living separately in different countries is perfectly acceptable. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.”  (Acts 17:26  NIV)

Enforcing diversity is only going to backfire.   Separation is perfectly acceptable.

Africans have long been saying “Africa for the Africans.”     So why not “Europe for the Europeans”?   And America for the . . . ?  (That’s a question for the Supreme Court!)

Over 200 years ago, the Back to Africa movement in the US was started by men who wanted to provide a home for freed slaves.   White liberals also supported the movement. It led to the founding of Liberia with its capital Monrovia, named after US president Monroe.

One hundred years later, Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican political activist, publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, and orator, advocated a separation of the races, calling for “Africa for the Africans.”

“Failing to attract a following in Jamaica, Garvey went to the United States (1916) and soon established branches of the UNIA (Universal Negro Improvement Association) in Harlem and the other principal ghettos of the North. By 1919 the rising “Black Moses” claimed a following of about 2,000,000, though the exact number of association members was never clear.  From the platform of the Association’s Liberty Hall in Harlem, he spoke of a “new Negro,” proud of being black. His newspaper, Negro World, told of the exploits of heroes of the race and of the splendors of African culture.  He taught that blacks would be respected only when they were economically strong, and he preached an independent black economy within the framework of white capitalism.  To forward these ends, he established the Negro Factories Corporation and the Black Star Line (1919), as well as a chain of restaurants and grocery stores, laundries, a hotel, and a printing press.”   (Encyclopedia Britannica).

Now, we’ve moved on another century.   With the granting of citizenship in Ghana to 100 African-Americans, are the ideas of Marcus Garvey and others returning?

Separation of the races is likely to be considered “racist” in today’s western World.   But can it be racist when African governments themselves are embracing the idea?

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The Decline of the American World                                                                      It is hard to escape the feeling that this is a uniquely humiliating moment for America.   (The Atlantic (extracts), by Tom McTague)

 As citizens of the world the United States created, we are accustomed to listening to those who loathe America, admire America, and fear America (sometimes all at the same time).  But feeling pity for America?  That one is new, even if the schadenfreude is painfully myopic.  If it’s the aesthetic that matters, the U.S. today simply doesn’t look like the country that the rest of us should aspire to, envy, or replicate.

Even in previous moments of American vulnerability, Washington reigned supreme.  Whatever moral or strategic challenge it faced, there was a sense that its political vibrancy matched its economic and military might, that its system and democratic culture were so deeply rooted that it could always regenerate itself.   It was as if the very idea of America mattered, an engine driving it on whatever other glitches existed under the hood.   Now, something appears to be changing.  America seems mired, its very ability to rebound in question.  A new power has emerged on the world stage to challenge American supremacy – China – with a weapon the Soviet Union never possessed:   mutually assured economic destruction.

. . . To understand how this moment in U.S. history is being seen in the rest of the world, I spoke to more than a dozen senior diplomats, government officials, politicians, and academics from five major European countries, including advisers to two of its most powerful leaders, as well as to the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. From these conversations, most of which took place on the condition of anonymity to speak freely, a picture emerged in which America’s closest allies are looking on with a kind of stunned incomprehension, unsure of what will happen, what it means, and what they should do, largely bound together with angst and a shared sense, as one influential adviser told me, that America and the West are approaching something of a fin de siècle.  “The moment is pregnant,” this adviser said. “We just don’t know what with.”

. . . America’s problem is that the rest of the world can see when it has fallen below its achievements.

. . . Dickens, like le Carré, captured America’s unique hold on the world and the fundamental reality that it can never live up to people’s imagination of what it is, good or bad.  As it watches today, it recoils but cannot stop looking. In the United States, the world sees itself, but in an extreme form: more violent and free, rich and repressed, beautiful and ugly.  Like Dickens, the world expects more of America.  But as le Carré observed, it is also, largely, an aesthetic thing – we don’t like what we see when we look hard, because we see ourselves.

(https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2020/06/america-image-power-trump/613228/)

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‘Faces of the conquerors’:   Trump trip to Rushmore draws fire    South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said in 2018 that he had once told her straight-faced it was his dream to have his face carved into the monument.  

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) 25 June 2020 — President Donald Trump’s plans to kick off Independence Day with a showy display at Mount Rushmore are drawing sharp criticism from Native Americans who view the monument as a desecration of land violently stolen from them and used to pay homage to leaders hostile to native people.  Several groups led by Native American activists are planning protests for Trump’s July 3 visit, part of Trump’s “comeback” campaign for a nation reeling from sickness, unemployment and, recently, social unrest.  The event is slated to include fighter jets thundering over the 79-year-old stone monument in South Dakota’s Black Hills and the first fireworks display at the site since 2009.  But it comes amid a national reckoning over racism and a reconsideration of the symbolism of monuments around the globe. Many Native American activists say the Rushmore memorial is as reprehensible as the many Confederate monuments being toppled around the nation.  “Mount Rushmore is a symbol of white supremacy, of structural racism that’s still alive and well in society today,” said Nick Tilsen, a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe and the president of a local activist organization called NDN Collective.  “It’s an injustice to actively steal indigenous people’s land then carve the white faces of the conquerors who committed genocide.”  More:  (https://apnews.com/50f6bdb9e2fd2349bb39b99c1250b093)

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America’s top general warns that ‘divisiveness leads to defeat’ as Pentagon concerns over politicization grow                                        America’s most senior general warned that “divisiveness leads to defeat” in a speech to Naval War College graduates on Wednesday.                         24 June 2020, CNN

America’s most senior general warned that “divisiveness leads to defeat” in a speech to Naval War College graduates on Wednesday. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley counseled the audience to “eliminate anything that divides us.”   While he also spoke of the traditional need to keep an eye on adversaries “during periods when we are weary from conflict or otherwise preoccupied,” and did not mention President Donald Trump by name, his comments appeared to address the broader backdrop of racial divisiveness in the country and concerns within the Pentagon about the military becoming politicized.  Milley told the students, “We who wear the cloth of our nation must hold dear the principle of an apolitical military that is so deeply rooted in the very essence of our Republic.”  (https://edition.cnn.co)

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Going home — Donald Trump’s baffling proposal to withdraw troops from Germany    It makes little sense, and may never happen (The Economist (Europe), June 27, 2020 edition)

“It’s like having a stroke, and then a second one in the ambulance,” sighs Stefan Weiler, economic-development chief for Kaiserslautern, in south-west Germany.   The city was already battling high debt and the effects of covid-19.   Then came Donald Trump’s announcement that America would withdraw 9,500 of its 34,500 troops stationed in Germany.   Some 50,000 American soldiers, civil staff and family members live in and around Kaiserslautern.  The bases employ 2,700 locals and tens of thousands indirectly, from hotel-owners to parts suppliers.  “They’re our neighbors, they rent our houses, our kids play football together,” says Ralf Hechner, mayor of nearby Ramstein-Miesenbach, which adjoins a vast American air base.

This local warmth found a national echo.  Over decades dozens of American military bases – concentrated in Germany’s south, the area of post-war American occupation  – have cemented the bond between the NATO allies.  “I used to get a visit almost every year from the [premier] of Bavaria,” says Jim Townsend, the Pentagon’s former top official for Europe.  “We were important to him, and he was important to us.”

Mr. Trump and surrogates like Richard Grenell, his boorish former ambassador in Berlin, have long threatened to prune America’s military presence in Germany.  This time it looks credible.  At a rally in Oklahoma on June 20th Mr. Trump justified his proposal with a familiar charge-sheet: a “delinquent” Germany free-rides on American protection, spending nugatory sums on defense while backing a Russian gas pipeline.   “On top of it they treat us very badly on trade,” the president huffed.  A day later Robert O’Brien, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, attempted to retrofit a strategic rationale onto his boss’s decision.   The cold-war practice of massive army garrisons with families was “obsolete”, he wrote in the Wall Street Journal, because “modern warfare is increasingly expeditionary.”   Troops were needed in Asia to counter China, he added.

This account “would not pass muster” at any military college, says Ben Hodges, who commanded American army forces in Europe until 2017.   Although the reduction would represent just 15% of its troops in Europe, Germany is a crucial cog in America’s global military machine.  The Pentagon’s European and African commands, which control every soldier, tank, warplane and warship in their domains, are based in Stuttgart.   The army’s European headquarters are in Wiesbaden, and Germany hosts five of its seven European garrisons, including Grafenwöhr, its largest base outside America. Ramstein is a hub for directing drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen (to some German consternation).  The Landstuhl military hospital has treated 95,000 American soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.   “The amount of time and lives that that has saved is just incredible,” says Rachel Ellehuus, a former Pentagon official now at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a think-tank.  A vast $990m replacement, nicknamed the “UFO” by locals, is being built nearby.   At least 40% of American activity in Germany supports operations elsewhere, estimates Ms. Ellehuus.

A drawdown would follow a decades-long thinning of America’s presence.  Over 10m of its troops were cycled through Germany from 1950 to 2000, with 250,000 deployed for much of that time. That had dwindled to under 70,000 by the turn of the millennium, and fell by half again between 2006 and 2018.   Between 2005 and 2020 America’s overall footprint in Europe shrank by over a third.  That leaves little fat to trim.  American capabilities in Europe are spread so thinly across various functions that cutting any one of them by 30% would, in effect, eliminate it, warns General Hodges.  American generals in Germany are said to be baffled by the proposal.

Yet as Heiko Maas, Germany’s foreign minister, has warned, the Atlantic is clearly widening.  Tiffs over energy, trade, security and China are now threaded through the entire transatlantic relationship.  Pro-American Germans say the sabre-rattling of Mr. Trump and Mr. Grenell makes it harder for them to make their case to a sceptical public.  A recent Pew poll found that Germans now value their relations with China as strongly as those with the United States.  Still, at least in Kaiserslautern, Americaphilia reigns supreme.  “We don’t want the troops to leave,” says Mr. Weiler.  “It’s an honor to have them here.”

This article appeared in the Europe section of the print edition under the headline “Going home,” Copyright © The Economist Newspaper Limited 2020. All rights reserved.

(https://www.economist.com/europe/2020/06/27/donald-trumps-baffling-proposal-to-withdraw-troops-from-germany)

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Map of U.S. Military installations in Germany in 2020 Army & Air Force

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GERMANY ASSUMES EU LEADERSHIP

Goal: economic and political independence from China and the USA.  1 July 2020, German Foreign Policy

With its EU-Council Presidency, which begins today, the German government seeks “to set in motion unprecedented changes” in the European Union, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas announced. Not only should the EU countries’ economies – which are experiencing an unprecedented slump, due to the Covid-19 pandemic – be reinvigorated, it is also crucial “to consolidate the union permanently,” Maas declared.   Berlin is thus reacting to the fact that single-handed national initiatives to combat the pandemic – particularly those of Germany – have severely damaged the EU’s reputation within the populations.   According to a recent survey, 50 percent of respondents in Spain declared that their view of the EU had deteriorated, in Italy, it was even 58 percent.   The German government is also pushing to strengthen the EU’s “sovereignty” and to reduce its dependency not only on China, but also on the USA:   In the global great power rivalry, Europe must position itself as a “united entity,” Maas demands.    (German Foreign Policy, 7/1/2020)

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America’s Mood Turns Grim:  Just 17% say they are ‘proud’ when thinking about state of the U.S.   (PEW Research, 30 June 2020)

With less than five months until the 2020 elections, Americans are deeply unhappy with the state of the nation.   As the United States simultaneously struggles with a pandemic, an economic recession and protests about police violence and racial justice, the share of the public saying they are satisfied with the way things are going in the country has plummeted from 31% in April, during the early weeks of the coronavirus outbreak, to just 12% today.  Anger and fear are widespread.   Majorities of Democrats and Republicans say they feel both sentiments when thinking about the country, though these feelings are more prevalent among Democrats.   And just 17% of Americans – including 25% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and 10% of Democrats and Democratic leaners – say they feel proud when thinking about the state of the country.  However, nearly half of adults (46%) say they feel hopeful about the state of the country, although a 53% majority says they are not hopeful.  In the presidential contest, Donald Trump faces a 10-percentage-point deficit in his race against Joe Biden:  54% of registered voters say if the election were held today, they would support Biden or lean toward voting for him, while 44% support Trump or lean toward supporting him.

. . . While white Americans’ opinion on this question is little changed overall, the views of white Democrats and white Republicans have moved in opposite directions.   The share of white Democrats who say life will be better for future generations doubled from 12% in September to 24%.   The share of white Republicans saying life will be better has decreased from 30% to 21%.

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HONG KONGERS OFFERED UK CITIZENSHIP

Britain outlined a path to citizenship for almost 3m eligible Hong Kong residents and their families in response to China’s imposition of a national-security law.  Britain’s foreign secretary described the new regime as a “clear and serious violation” of the agreement under which Britain handed the territory back in 1997—although he admitted Britain could do little if China blocks any emigrants, as it has since promised to do.   Meanwhile, America’s House of Representatives passed sanctions that penalise banks doing business with Chinese officials.  (The Economist, 7/1/2020)

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IRANIAN LEADER SAYS US WILL COLLAPSE

Iranian Ayatollah Lotfollah Dezhkam, Supreme Leader Khamene’s Representative in the Fars province, said in a Friday, June 19, 2020 sermon that aired on Fars TV (Iran): “America cannot be the main decision-maker when it comes to strategic matters in the world . . . The sound of America being shattered, and of its collapse, is being heard all over the world.  The shout of the Iranian nation [is] being heard from the mouths of the Americans themselves:   Death to America!”   The audience responded by chanting:   “Death to America!”  (MEMRI 6/25/2020)

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PANDEMIC TO AFFECT ELECTION DAY

The fear mongering of democrats.com laid bare:   “In the midst of a deadly pandemic, no one should be forced to risk their life to exercise their Constitutional right to vote.”

The question should be how does votedem.org know that “the deadly pandemic” will still be among us on Nov. 3, 2020?

Could it be that devious Democrats intend to steal the election through pandemic fear mongering as a means to get the MAIL-IN VOTE, spearheaded by Michelle Obama’s ”non-partisan” ‘When We All Vote’ is the law of the land?   (Canada Free Press, 6/28/2020)

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EUROPEAN ATTITUDES TO US DETERIORATING

A survey of opinion across nine EU countries has found Europeans’ perception of the US deteriorating because of the pandemic.  More than 60% of respondents in Germany, France, Spain, Denmark and Portugal said they had lost trust in American leadership.   According to the authors of a report accompanying the survey:

Many have been appalled by the [US’s] chaotic response to Covid-19; the lack of solidarity it showed with Europeans in the 12 March closure of its border to members of the Schengen area; and its lack of leadership in tackling the coronavirus crisis at the global level – or even engagement with the issue (beyond a war of words with the World Health Organization).  (The Guardian 6/29/2020)

The EU has since banned American visitors from Europe because of Covid-19.

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PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS CONTINUES IN NIGERIA, GREECE

  • “The atrocities against Christians have gone unchecked and risen to alarming apogee with the country’s security forces and concerned political actors looking the other way or colluding with the Jihadists.” — The Nigerian Voice, May 14, 2020
  • Earlier this year, Christian Solidarity International issued a “Genocide Warning for Christians in Nigeria.”
  • “This [using a church as a personal toilet] is only the latest incident … [I]t has become extremely common for Greek Orthodox Churches to be vandalised and attacked by illegal immigrants on Lesvos . . .   As a deeply religious society, these attacks on churches are shocking to the Greek people and calls to question whether these illegal immigrants seeking a new life in Europe are willing to integrate and conform to the norms and values of their new countries.” — Greek City Times, May 16, 2020.(Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone, 6/28/2020)

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GROWING INTOLERANCE AS RELIGIOUS STATUES UNDER THREAT   “Historical churches are being defaced as some call for statues of Jesus to be torn down.

“’Yes, I think the statues of the white European they claim is Jesus should also come down.  They are a form of white supremacy,” wrote political activist Shaun King, who is an open supporter of Black Lives Matter.

“In the Bible, when the family of Jesus wanted to hide, and blend in, guess where they went?   EGYPT!  Not Denmark,” King continued in a June 22 Twitter post.  “Tear them down.”

“In Washington, vandals defaced the historical St. John’s Episcopal Church located just one block away from the White House.”   (The Epoch Times, 6/2/2020).

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BIDEN TAKES RADICAL STANCE ON ABORTION

Planned Parenthood recently endorsed Joe Biden for president, saying this election was a matter of life and death.  Ironic words from a group that makes millions off the deaths of America’s children.  But it appears their endorsement of the Democrat was well-founded.  Since becoming the party’s de facto nominee, Joe Biden has lurched further to the left— a move unusual in a general election.

Biden is increasingly alienating moderate voters even in his own party.  Now, he promises a radical approach to abortion—if he enters the White House.

In a statement praising the Supreme Court for striking down a Louisiana law requiring doctors who provide abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden announced his support for abortion “under any circumstance,” staking out an extreme position on the issue.  (National Insiders, 7/1/2020)

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BLM Protest in Colonial Williamsburg

On Tuesday morning, June 30, we were visiting Colonial Williamsburg in Williamsburg, Va. We were inside the Governor’s Palace when we spotted 6 police cruisers and heavy police presence, including the park’s security. I found it odd since the park has only been opened for a week and there were few visitors with only about ten percent of the buildings open for historical tours.

The atmosphere was hardly cheerful as everyone was wearing masks and visitors were required to wear masks inside and in outdoor exhibits such as the armory, the gardens, the weaver’s outdoor shop, the blacksmith, and the barrel maker. The temperatures in the 90s yesterday made wearing the masks quite unbearable.  (Canada Free Press, 7/1/2020)

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TEN TAKE-AWAYS

  1.   Boris Johnson promises ‘new deal’ for Britain                                        Boris Johnson will promise to “build back better” as he announces that he wants to use the coronavirus crisis “to tackle this country’s great unresolved challenges,” with a “new deal” bringing forward £5bn of spending on infrastructure projects.  However, critics have scoffed at the plan, saying Johnson cannot be compared to Franklin D. Roosevelt, who created the approach of a “new deal.”  (The Week, 6/30/2020) .   “FDR’s Folly” by Jim Powell shows that FDR prolonged the Great Depression.  Also: “The Forgotten Man” by Amity Schlaes.

2.   China passes contentious national security law for Hong Kong
China has passed a controversial national security law for Hong Kong.  The new legislation was passed unanimously by the Chinese parliament’s top decision-making body.  Critics fear the move will crush political freedoms and pave the way for Beijing to cement its control over the semi-autonomous territory, says The Guardian.   (The Week, 6/30/2020)

3.   Trump ‘bullied May’ and called Merkel ‘stupid’
President Donald Trump’s private calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin resemble conversations between “two guys in a steam bath,” according to an insider account.  “Some of the things he said to Angela Merkel are just unbelievable:  he called her ‘stupid,’” added the source, while Trump’s conversations with former prime minister Theresa May were described as “humiliating and bullying.”  (The Week, 6/30/2020)

4.   Revised data from Britain’s Office for National Statistics showed the greatest quarterly fall in the country’s GDP since 1979.   Output dropped by 2.2% in the first quarter compared to the previous three months, revised down from a previous estimate of a 2% fall.   The revision was driven by a decline in household consumption, which dropped 2.9% in the first quarter.  (The Economist, 6/30/2020)

5.   Police in Hong Kong fired water-cannon and pepper spray at pro-democracy protesters and made 30 arrests, the first under a new national-security law (see main stories). Britain, the EU and NATO expressed dismay after China’s parliament passed the law. Adopted by the territory’s government last night, it gives the government in Beijing and its security agencies the right to designate and prosecute political crimes in Hong Kong.   Activists may face life imprisonment.   One of the first people to be arrested under the new law had unfurled a banner proclaiming “Hong Kong Independence.”   (The Economist, 7/1/2020)

6.    The EU’s 27 member states agreed on 14 “safe” countries from which non-essential travel will be permitted, including Australia, Canada and Japan.  China will also be included, as long as travelers from the EU are allowed to go to China in return.   America, Brazil and Russia, which are suffering big surges of infections, are not on the list.  (The Economist, 7/1/2020)

7.   US snaps up global supply of Covid-19 drug remdesivir                      The US has bought up virtually all the world’s stocks of remdesivir, one of the two drugs proven to work against Covid-19.  “They’ve got access to most of the drug supply [of remdesivir], so there’s nothing for Europe,” said Dr Andrew Hill, senior visiting research fellow at Liverpool University.  Experts now fear what the US would do if a vaccine became available.

8.   Nearly 50% of black UK households live in poverty
Nearly half of black UK households are living in poverty, an independent study has revealed.   Black and minority ethnic households in the UK are more than twice as likely to live in poverty as their white counterparts, leaving them disproportionately exposed to job losses and pay cuts caused by the coronavirus pandemic, says the Social Metrics Commission.

9.   VATICAN RAID – Vatican police on Tuesday raided the office that manages St. Peter’s Basilica, seizing documents and electronic equipment as part of an investigation into possible corruption in procurement practices.  The extraordinary raid comes a month after the Vatican published new procurement rules intended to prevent corruption and cut costs.  The Holy See Press Office said Tuesday that police had acted under orders from Vatican prosecutors in response to a report by the city state’s auditor general.   (WSJ, 6/30/2020)

10.   The Cameroonian waging war against a French war hero’s statue  by Dickens Olewe, BBC News, 1 July 2020

Cameroonian activist Andre Blaise Essama has been on a decades-long mission to purge his country of colonial-era symbols, long before the issue came to international prominence in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests.  His main target has been French World War Two hero Gen Philippe Leclerc in the country’s biggest city, Douala.  “I have decapitated Leclerc’s head seven times and toppled the statue at least 20 times,” Mr. Essama told the BBC.  “I use my bare hands … but I make an incantation to the ancestors first,” he said.  (BBC 7/1/2020)              (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-53148608)

KURDS ‘STABBED IN BACK’ BY US

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

Kurds warn Turkish offensive will bring ‘chaos once again’

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

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

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

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PARIS POLICE KILLED BY ISLAMIST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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CHINESE LOANS TO FINANCE NEW ZIMBABWE CAPITAL IN POVERTY STRICKEN NATION

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

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

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

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ISRAELI MAJORITY WANT MORE SECULAR STATE

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

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

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

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

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IRAN MOVES NEARER TO ISRAEL

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

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

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THREE MUSLIM LEADERS TO START TV NEWS CHANNEL

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

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

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

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

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

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CATHOLIC CHURCH TO ORDAIN MARIED PRIESTS?

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

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

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

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SCANDINAVIAN CRIME BOOSTED BY IMMIGRANTS

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

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

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

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

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

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TO THE POINT

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