Tag Archives: Syria

US AND UK OUT OF COMMISSION

“In the United States and the United Kingdom – two of the world’s oldest democracies – national governments are at a standstill.   This, for better or worse, could be the future of politics.   It will be a system in which things have to get worse before they can get … worse.    Perpetual political gridlock: it won’t be pretty, and for many it may be painful.

“Both the US government’s shutdown and the UK’s Brexit have become problems with no exit.   Every strategy offered fails for lack of legislative support or national leadership.   The American and British political classes look intellectually exhausted and clueless about a path forward.”  (Gridlock is the new normal,” by Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal, 1/17/19)

The above about sums it up.   The two nations that have dominated the world for as long as anybody can remember are essentially out of commission.

What will this mean?

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AMERICAN WITHDRAWAL FROM MIDDLE EAST

Middle East Chaos Will Escalate Following the Departure of the Americans:   If America departs the Middle East, then the region will become a free-for-all for others.    

The National Interest * January 17, 2019, by Tanya Goudsouzian: a Canadian journalist who has covered Iraq and Afghanistan for over fifteen years.  She is former Opinion editor of Al Jazeera English Online.

The inexorable direction of the U.S. administration is towards less intervention, less engagement, and fewer “dumb wars in the Middle East.”   Although Pompeo may trumpet steadfastness, the U.S. president can pivot on a dime.

The smart money is on disengagement from the region and anyone who thinks subsequent administrations will rush back in will probably be disappointed.

In filling that vacuum in Syria, expect the Russians, the Iranians and the Turks to rush in or stay in.  They have kept their eyes on the prize; to them, it’s not just about Syria but the whole region.

. . . Europe must also understand the consequences of yielding significant Western influence in the region.

. . . More Russian territorial influence means less European territorial influence.   More Chinese trade crowds out European trade.   Iranian ideological expansion displaces Arab cultural norms. All mean “less Europe,” and certainly more instability.

. . . America’s departure will not be leaving the region to itself, but to a free-for-all for others.   And to put it bluntly, the others may not (and probably do not) share the vision or values of the European experiment.    If Europe is unwilling to “up its game” when the Americans withdraw, then it may find the only thing worse than U.S. hegemony is everything else

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TRUMP THREAT TO ISRAEL

“The strategic reality facing the new chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, will depend largely on one factor – the political situation in the United States.   More precisely, it will depend on the vagaries of U.S. President Donald Trump.    At the outset of 2019, the Trump administration continues to convey uncertainty and instability.   The amount of news generated by the president in one week, like this past one, is equivalent to several months’ worth with previous presidents.

“Trump hunkered down in the White House, telling interviewers that he hadn’t emerged in months, forgetting for a moment his frequent trips.   He’s up to his neck in the crisis resulting from the government shutdown, continuing with his promises to build his wall on the Mexican border.   But the latest crisis is only a symptom.   The deluge of headlines in recent days included the following.

“The FBI investigation into Trump began right after he was sworn in two years ago, on suspicions he was a spy or acting on Russia’s behalf.   There was a report he was considering an American withdrawal from NATO, an idea whose very mention sends shivers down the spines of strategic experts, Democrats and Republicans alike.   There was also news of a secret plan initiated by the national security adviser, John Bolton, for attacking targets in Iran.”  (“A wild card thousands of miles away,” by Amos Harel, Haaretz, January 18)

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US-EUROPEAN TRADE WAR

“Transatlantic trump trading” was the title of today’s Brussels Briefing, by Jim Brunsden.

“Ideally trade negotiations between countries should begin on a note of hope:   the desire to deepen economic ties, nurturing prosperity and friendship among their peoples.

But optimism and positivity are not the words that first come to mind when thinking about the talks about to start between the EU and US.

Brussels is expected today to publish its plans for negotiations with Washington that were conceived last year as a way to divert Donald Trump from initiating a full blown transatlantic trade war.”

Things aren’t looking good.   Expect a full-blown trade war between the two trading superpowers.

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BREXIT

The PM has pulled out of a scheduled appearance at Davos next weekend to handle her crisis at home.   (Politico)

Mrs. May has ruled out any further delays on Brexit.   Speaking with Holland’s PM, Mark Rutte, she convinced the PM that there would be no attempt to prolong Brexit beyond March 29th.

The Labour Party’s leader, Jeremy Corbin, gave a strong anti-EU speech, finally making it clear where he stands on the issue.

Leo Varadkar, Irish Prime Minister, is a major obstacle to Brexit.   Brexiteer Lord Lamont says that his refusal to amend the “Irish backstop” makes it impossible to reach agreement on other issues.

From Melanie Phillips, Daily Mail, 1/19/19:

“Current events in Britain’s Parliament are making politics in both Israel and America look positively sane and tranquil by comparison.

Around the world, jaws are dropping at the UK’s convulsions over leaving the European Union.   This resembles not so much a divorce as an amputation without anesthetic using blunt knives and a broken saw, with the surgeons throwing punches across the operating table.

“This week, the deal struck between Prime Minister Theresa May and the EU over the Brexit terms was thrown out by an enormous majority in the House of Commons.

Although this was the largest prime ministerial defeat in British history, Mrs. May survived a motion of no-confidence the following evening.”

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LA PUBLIC SCHOOLS STRIKE

LA teachers are on strike, demanding more pay and smaller classes. Sometimes, there are up to 35 pupils per class.

That’s definitely too many.   By comparison, there are 26 in one of my grandchildren’s schools.   The others are in the mid-twenties.  Private schools keep theirs down to 20, which is why their children receive more attention.

One reason for the mess in Los Angeles is that the schools are overwhelmed by immigrants.   One school reported on this week is 70% Hispanic, only 10% white.

It’s impossible for schools to keep up with the demand on their services.

Immigration is a major focus of Brexit – most people voted for Brexit because they wanted less European immigrants in the country.   It’s the same thing here in the US – most people want to keep the country as it is, and not allow other cultures to dominate.   Those at the bottom have to compete with new immigrants who are willing to work for less.

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And finally . . .

 

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SYRIAN WITHDRAWAL RISKS ISIS REBOUND

U.S. Soldiers observe Turkish forces in the distance while on patrol outside Manbij, Syria, August 7, 2018.  These independent, coordinated patrols are to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS in the region. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Nicole Paese)

Wednesday US President Donald Trump announced that America had beaten ISIS and would soon depart from Syria.   The decision involves 2,200 US military personnel.   The news that ISIS had been beaten came as a surprise to allies and enemies alike.

Later in the day, the following was posted by germanforeignpolicy.com:

(Own report) – “German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas’ brief visit to Baghdad is accompanied by reports that the IS militia (Islamic State) is regaining strength.   Maas was in the Iraqi capital yesterday for talks with Iraq’s new Prime Minister to emphasize Berlin’s push for obtaining stronger influence in Iraq.   He also promoted a billion-euro deal with Siemens and listened to his Baghdad counterpart’s call for Iraqi refugees to return to their homeland.   According to reports, Iraqi authorities are not only responsible for the slow reconstruction of Sunni regions, but Sunnis are being also detained arbitrarily, tortured or condemned to death without proof of guilt. “This is not just revenge on the IS,” explained a senior intelligence officer, “this is revenge on Sunnis.”   Observers warn that this will refill the ranks of the still existing IS in clandestinity, which has again “taken the offensive.””

“As Christmas and the New Year approach, Islamic State (ISIS) supporters have begun to produce posters threatening terror attacks against Christians and inhabitants of Western countries during the holiday season.   Some of the posters threaten impending attacks, particularly by lone operatives, as retaliation for ongoing airstrikes on the organization’s strongholds in eastern Syria, by the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.   Others warn Westerners not to leave their homes on Christmas, while some posters specifically threaten attacks in New York City and London.”   (MEMRI, 12/20)

President Putin praises move to withdraw from Syria, saying that there is no need for US troops to be in the country.   So, why do Russian troops need to be there?

Two headlines from Thursday’s Wall StreetJournal:

“US Pullout could boost ISIS in Syria.”                                                         “Quick exit would add to struggles of Kurdish-led force fighting militant group.”

Additionally, President Trump is to pull 7,000 troops out of Afghanistan.

TWO FOREIGN GIRLS KILLED BY ISIS IN MOROCCO:   Two Scandinavian tourists, aged 24 and 28, were beheaded in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains by men claiming allegiance to ISIS.

BREAKING NEWS: (Friday AM)

ISIS threatens Drone Attack on New York City 

ISIS has issued a chilling new threat to plague the US and the EU with drone attacks.   It comes after a drone near London’s Gatwick Airport caused travel chaos with hundreds of flights cancelled.  

The extremist group widely used drones bought over the counter when it was defending its so-called Caliphate in Syria and Iraq.   Some were used for spy missions while others were adapted to drop grenades and bombs.

Gun cops deployed at Gatwick are continuing to work with elite Army troops and MI5 spooks as they hunt the drones and last night said shooting them down was a “tactical option.”   The saboteur has been playing cat-and-mouse with cops after shutting down Britain’s second busiest airport by drones over the runway 50 times since Wednesday night.  Sharpshooters are today continuing to try to bring down the device – while MI5 spooks were called in to track down the suspect.   Experts say the skilled drone operator – feared to be a lone-wolf green protester – could be controlling the industrial scale craft from up to five miles away.  (Similar claims are in UK tabloids, The Sun and Daily Mail)

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FOUR-YEAR DROUGHT PLUNGES CENTRAL KAROO FARMERS INTO FINANCIAL DISTRESS

CAPE TOWN – Farmers in the central Karoo say they are in financial distress due to a four-year drought.  Farmer’s organisation, Agri Central Karoo, says it’s the worst and longest drought in living memory.   Producers have been unable to grow crops or feed for their livestock.   Agri Central Karoo manager Dêan Gous says the region has only been receiving light rain of two to three millimetres at a time.   He says downpours of at least 20 millimetres are needed.  Gous says farmers are forced to buy expensive feed, while many are being turned away by banks and the co-op.  “My main concern is the people’s cash flow.  We’re past the stage of banks helping us, so now people must dip into their investment money and pension funds.”  He welcomes the Western Cape government’s intervention and drought relief but warns that production cannot be sustained.  “This is not enough . . .  so the main thing is people are decreasing their numbers on the shelves.”  (https://ewn.co.za/2018/12/21/four-year-drought-plunges-central-karoo-farmers-into-financial-distress)

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30,000 JOBS LOST IN WESTERN CAPE AGRICULTURE SECTOR DUE TO DROUGHT — The Western Cape Economic Opportunities Department says the drought has had a massive impact on the agricultural sector

CAPE TOWN – The Western Cape Economic Opportunities Department says the drought has cost about 30,000 jobs in the agriculture sector.  That is 1.5% of all jobs in the Western Cape. Agri Central Karoo says the area is experiencing the worst and longest drought in living memory.  Farmers say they are finding it impossible to farm due to low rainfall. The Western Cape Economic Opportunities Department says the drought has had a massive impact on the agricultural sector. MEC Beverley Schäfer says it has a large impact on jobs and economic growth in the province:   “We’ve already seen a R5.9 billion drop in gross value add, which is about 25% of the value of agriculture production and a 20% decrease in production in general.”   Agri Central Karoo said on Thursday that due to the drought farmers are unable to grow crops or feed their flocks.   Agri Central Karoo manager Dêan Gous says more assistance is needed from the government. Schäfer says they are doing their best and adds that since November support to the farmers in the Central Karoo has increased.   Schäfer says the government is supporting 563 farmers and is spending R8.1 million per month.  (12/21)

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Russia’s Vladimir Putin warns about growing threat of nuclear war

If the US puts intermediate-range missiles in Europe, Russia will take countermeasures, Putin said at his end-of-year press conference.  He warned the “threshold” for the use of nuclear weapons was getting lower.

An attempt to lower the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons could potentially result in an all-out nuclear war, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned during his traditional end-of-year press conference on Thursday.  It is the first such event since the beginning of Putin’s new presidential term in May and the fourteenth for him in total.

“There is a tendency to lower the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons,” he said.  “In the West, there is this idea of using low-yield nuclear weapons.  The use of such weapons could lead to a global disaster,” the Russian leader stressed.

Putin pointed at the US intention to withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.   He said that if the US puts intermediate-range missiles in Europe, Russia will be forced to take countermeasures.

The Russian leader also warned against developing tactical nuclear warheads and conventional long-range ballistic missiles.   According to him, both are dangerous, because they increase the threat of an incidental nuclear war.

“We are currently observing the collapse of the international system for containing weapons,” he added.

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A global credit ‘heart attack’ is just months away

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

20 December 2018 — 11:36am                                                                   Surging borrowing costs for companies in the US and Europe threaten a recession within months and resemble events leading up to the global credit “heart attack” in August 2007.

Risk spreads on American high-yield debt have jumped since early October.   Credit experts say this is the delayed fallout from months of double-barrelled monetary tightening by the US Federal Reserve.

The US central bank is raising interest rates and at the same time shrinking its balance sheet by $US50 billion  a month, perhaps draining more liquidity from global financial markets than intended.

Simon Ward from Janus Henderson said his leading indicator for the health of US companies – the cash supply available to non-financial business (M1) – has turned starkly negative for the first time since the Lehman crisis.

This points to a sharp slowdown next year. “When this measure of cash contracts it means companies plan to cut back,” he said.

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The deal with the EU will turn us into captives                                 By Boris Johnson 19 Nov 2018 — 11:45 PM

Well, it seems my predictions of last week were, if anything, too optimistic.  If MPs vote for this deal, we are bowing our neck to the yoke.

We are preparing to take colonial rule by foreign powers and courts. We are handing over colossal sums of money for nothing.   We are giving up the hope of new free-trade deals. We are giving up the right to vary our laws.   We are betraying Leavers and Remainers alike: we are poised to abandon any UK influence in Brussels, and yet we are signally failing to take back control.

In fact, we are surrendering control to the EU – and this 585-page fig-leaf does nothing to cover the embarrassment of our total defeat.

Boris Johnson argues that the Brexit deal will turn Britons into captives.

In the protocol on Northern Ireland, there is a note almost of malice, as though the EU is punishing us by the surgical severing of part of the UK.   From one convoluted paragraph to the next, you can follow the plot to amputate Northern Ireland and keep it in the EU – run by the EU, but with no influence in Brussels except via Dublin.

Today, No 10 continues to brief that there can still be a future Canada-style free-trade deal and that one day we can still take back control of our laws and our tariffs. But from the Treasury you hear a very different message: that this is the end-state providing the blessed “certainty” that business has been craving.

They can’t both be right – so which is it?   Is the Government serious about staying in the customs union and single market, or is it serious about democracy, free trade and Brexit?   After two years of this tragedy, I think we all know the answer to that one.

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YELLOW VEST RIOTS SPREAD

  • Across Western Europe, ordinary citizens feel ignored and condescended to by their political, business, academic, and media elites.   Against the will of most of these citizens, their leaders are gradually surrendering their nations’ sovereignty to the EU.
  • Also against these citizens’ will, their nations have been flooded with Muslim immigrants who embody a major cultural challenge, have caused massive social unrest, and represent a devastating economic burden.
  • Although it is increasingly obvious that taxpayer-funded Islamization is leading Western Europe down the wrong path, the EU, which stands foursquare behind this disastrous development, refuses to reverse course.
  • Perhaps the question should not be why Western Europeans are rioting but why they did not start rioting a long time ago.

(By Bruce Bawer, Gatestone, 12/18)

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Australia recognises West Jerusalem as Israeli capital .    Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed that his government will recognise West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

BBC * 15 Dec 2018                                                                                              However, he said Australia’s embassy would not move from Tel Aviv, until a peace settlement was achieved.

He added Australia also recognised the aspirations of the Palestinians to a state with a capital in East Jerusalem.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the most contested issues between Israel and the Palestinians.

US President Donald Trump drew international criticism last year when he reversed decades of American foreign policy by recognising the ancient city as Israel’s capital.   The US embassy was relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May.

 

MAY SURVIVES NO CONFIDENCE VOTE

Bible prophecy shows that Europe and the Middle East are to be the main focus of end-time events.   Recent and future developments show continuing upheaval in both regions.

In a parliamentary system, there is provision for a vote of no confidence in the prime minister.   Mrs. Theresa May survived a vote this week.   200 MPs supported her, with 117 voting against.

The fact that she has survived to see Brexit through to completion, however, is not necessarily a good thing.   Mrs. May has been racking up the frequent flyer miles flying around to European capitals in pursuit of a “deal,” a deal that will keep the UK close to Europe after the people voted to leave it!

The Europeans have said that they will not offer anything better than the deal they offered a few weeks ago, a deal that will, effectively, make the United Kingdom a vassal state of the European Union.   Some deal!

Why is the British prime minister so intent on a “deal” that will enslave the country for decades to come?   Why can’t England walk away from the EU, which is what the voters voted for in the referendum of 2016?   Doesn’t anybody have any recollection of how the United Kingdom was a successful trading nation prior to the EU?   Clearly not – as they don’t think that Britain is up to it any more!

As the game picture at the top of this article shows, there is a great deal of negativity in the UK right now.   Positive voices are few and far between.   (The game resembles the London Underground map.)

The only hope left is if the country ends up with “no deal” on March 29th.   Then, she will be free to pursue other trade deals with nations around the globe.

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GERMANY MOVING IN A NEW DIRECTION

Britain isn’t the only country finding it hard to break away from a super-power.

Germany, too, is feeling “impotent rage at not being able to declare independence from America.”   These words are the opinion of Andreas Kluth, editor-in-chief of Handelsblatt Global.   His article on the subject appears in the Economist special edition, predicting trends for 2019.   The title of the article is “The epiphany of German weakness.”

“In 2019 Germany will face a crisis:  not an economic or political one, but an intellectual and psychological crisis that could be just as wrenching.   For the first time, the German public at large will fully absorb what Berlin elites have known for years:   Germany has no viable foreign or security policy to survive the passing of Pax Americana.”

Since World War II, Germany has submitted herself to the leadership of two other western powers.   First, the United States.   Through membership of NATO and other international institutions, Germany has played a vital but secondary role in international affairs.   Secondly, to France, through the European Union.

Mrs. Merkel is leaving office at a time when these two pillars are crumbling.   The United States, under Donald Trump, has “nullified every assumption that Germany … made since 1945.”   Germany, now under great pressure from the US to contribute more to western defense, can actually now break free from US dominance and go her own way.   But in which direction should she go?   Mrs. Merkel’s successor will have to pave a new path for the country.

At the same time as relations with Washington are changing, so are relations with neighboring France.   Mr. Macron, the French president, began his presidency 18 months ago with a bold new vision for Europe.   This vision is now in ruins as the people revolt against his leadership and the economy is seriously threatened by continued riots.   At the very least, Mr. Macron will have to focus his attention more on France itself; there will be little or no time for Europe.

This coincides with Brexit, which will see the United Kingdom leaving Europe.

So, out of the Big 3, only one is left able to lead the European project. And that country is Germany.

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US PULLING OUT OF MIDEAST?

A second article in The Economist’s “The World in 2019,” predicts “The end of American hegemony” in the Middle East.   This process began a few years ago.

“In 1972 Anwar Sadat expelled Soviet military advisers from Egypt, setting the state for decades of American dominance, and much violent disappointment, in the Middle East.   In 2013 President Barack Obama surrendered America’s hegemony when he refused to take military action against Syria’s use of poison gas, and later sought a nuclear accommodation with Iran.   Donald Trump, by contrast, has lobbed missiles at Syria and menaced Iran.   But as he swings between threatening to crush foes, and getting out entirely, the latter instinct will dominate.   Sometimes events, his advisers or domestic politics may compel him to take action.   But Mr. Trump will mostly prove even more detached than Mr. Obama.”   (Article by Anton LaGuardia, deputy foreign editor, The Economist.)

American detachment from the Middle East will likely result in continuing conflicts in Yemen, Libya, Syria; it could also mean no deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians; and we will likely see Iran strengthened both domestically and regionally, with Hezbollah posing a greater threat to Israel.

American detachment will also see Russia filling the gap, with European nations desperate to halt Russian encroachment into the area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PROPHESIED EVENTS SPEEDING UP UNDER TRUMP

When President Trump was elected, many Christians thought this would mean a delay in prophesied end-time events, as America was “made great again”.

The opposite seems to be the case.

As Sky News put it following Mr. Trump’s announcement that the United States is pulling out of the Iran deal, the president’s proclamation sent an “earthquake” through the Middle East.

Rather than delaying prophesied events, Mr. Trump is speeding them up, laying the groundwork for rapid escalation.

Consider the following:

  1. The growing rift between Europe and America.   Less than a month after French President Emmanuel Macron paid a seemingly highly successful visit to Washington, DC, the French today condemned America over the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran, calling the decision “unacceptable.”   Earlier in the week, France, Germany and the UK all expressed support for the Iranian deal, refusing to support the US.

It should be emphasized that it is not Europe distancing itself from America; it’s America that keeps on making decisions that are taking the country down a new path of isolationism.

It’s America that is changing, not the rest of the world.   But changes decided in Washington are going to have a profound effect internationally.

Just today, European Union boss Jean-Claude Juncker is capitalizing on America’s decision to call once again for a United States of Europe with its own, single, unified military.

At some point, prophecy shows that ten nations in Europe will unite to form a formidable military, political and economic alliance.   You can read about this in Revelation, chapter 17.   “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.” (Rev.  17:12-13)

  1.  Pressure from the US on Berlin to build up the German military.

After two world wars that were started by Germany, you would think nobody would want to rearm the country that lies at the heart of Europe.   And that has been the case with every Administration since World War II.   But now it’s changing, as President Trump feels that the Germans must spend more on the defense of the western alliance – which may not be an alliance much longer!   Building up its military will leave Germany in the perfect position to lead the ten nation revival of the Roman Empire.

  1. Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, thereby recognizing the city as the “eternal capital” of Israel.   No other major nation has followed America in this.   This is just one decision that has changed the Middle East dramatically.

The Old Testament Book of Zechariah is a Millennial prophecy, which speaks to us today.   It contains prophecies which could not have been fulfilled until the restoration of the Jewish nation exactly seventy years ago. Note chapter 12, verses 2 & 3.

 “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem.    And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.”

Judah is the biblical name for the modern nation of Israel, whose population is mostly Jewish, people who are descendants of the ancient tribe of Judah.

Given time, conflict around Jerusalem will involve more nations. Note Zech 14:2:  “ For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle.”

  1. US support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has emboldened Israel to strike at Iran in Syria.   It’s worth remembering that it was Netanyahu who warned President George W Bush about weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, calling on Washington to do something.   That did not work out well.   Could we see greater intervention by the United States in a rising conflict between Israel and Iran?   Iran this week attacked Israel for the first time.
  2. Add to this, the growing conflict between Shia and Sunni Islam, with the US clearly supporting Sunni Muslim countries (notably Saudi Arabia) against Shi’ite countries (Iran, Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon).
  3. The decision to tear up the climate change treaty, signed in Paris.   Mr. Macron tried to change President Trump’s mind, but failed.   People may criticize the US president for many things, but he’s certainly fulfilling his election promises, including this one.   The rest of the world remains committed to the treaty.
  4. Trade is another area of growing conflict, as President Trump puts “America First.”   Here certainly the US has many grievances on unfair trade practices, but, again, it adds to the growing sense of divergence, as the US moves in a different direction from the rest of the world.   Other nations continue to support globalization as a way to universal prosperity.

This growing trade war could even backfire on the US, if China decides to divest itself of US dollars. The result would be a serious downward pull on the greenback’s international value.

Even in less important areas, there has been significant change.   For the first time, royal wedding planners had to announce that no politicians will be invited to next week’s wedding.   This was the only way out of inviting the US president to a wedding where the bride is an American.   But the alternative was a massive demonstration outside the church, thereby giving the British a security headache.

It’s not that all the changes are wrong.   As an article headline in the Wall Street Journal put it:   “Everything about Trump is bad, except for all his policies.”   Rather, it’s the combined effect that all the changes are making that has sent an earthquake around the world. The aftershocks will be with us for some time.

Many Christians will no doubt continue to believe that Trump is going to reverse America’s fortunes and usher in a new glorious age, but it seems more likely that the radical departure from previous policies is only going to speed up the prophesied events that culminate in the return of Jesus Christ.

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CBS this morning showed a few minutes of an interview with the Pope, to be broadcast in its entirety on “60 Minutes” this Sunday.  This morning, the pope was talking about the Jewish seventh day sabbath being a day of rest.  He actually used the terms “seventh day” and “sabbath.”

IMMINENT MISSILE ATTACK ON SYRIA

“Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, And it will be a ruinous heap. (Isaiah 17:1) 

By an amazing coincidence, I have been reading a book on “Munich” while the current crisis in Syria has been building up.

At Munich in 1938, Hitler and Chamberlain met to discuss Hitler’s claims on German Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia.   Chamberlain famously gave in to his demands. The former British PM described Nazi Germany’s annexation of the area of German-speaking Czechoslovakia in 1938 as “a quarrel in a faraway country between people of which we know nothing.”

Similar words could be spoken today about Syria.

At the time of writing this article, President Trump is deciding on how to react to Syria’s use of chemical weapons on its own people. If the US does nothing, nobody else will.   In 1938 Neville Chamberlain, as British Prime Minister, was the leader of the western world; today it’s President Trump.   Less than a year after Chamberlain’s famous appeasement toward Hitler, Britain and Germany were at war.   It had become all too clear, even to Chamberlain, that Hitler was intent on global conquest.

There’s been plenty of evidence that Russia has similar territorial designs.   The Russians took control of part of Georgia a few years ago; this was followed by the conquest of Crimea and of eastern Ukraine.   Domination of Syria makes them the most powerful voice in the Middle East.  This role is growing – last month, Putin met with the leaders of Iran and Turkey in Ankara.  These three are now in a de facto alliance while Turkey remains officially in NATO.

Geoffrey Wawro, a professor at the University of North Texas, wrote a book called “Quicksand” (2010), on “America’s pursuit of power in the Middle East.”   Reviewer Rick Atkinson sums the book up well, writing that Wawro reveals “how an extraordinary tale of idealism, politics, force and miscalculation began and unfolded over the last century.”

The more the US got involved, the more the US was sucked in; hence the title “Quicksand.”   Why should we expect any other outcome following action in Syria?   Could US intervention lead to war with Russia?

“There was no reason for war in 1914, beyond the murder of an archduke in Bosnia.   As AJP Taylor said of 1914:   “Nowhere was there a conscious determination to provoke a war.   Statesmen miscalculated [and] became prisoners of their own weapons.   The great armies, accumulated to provide security and preserve the peace, carried the nations to war by their own weight.”   I wonder what Taylor would have said of Trump’s “Get ready, Russia” tweet.” (“Look at Syria and you can see all the elements that have led to world wars,” Simon Jenkins, The Guardian, April 12th.)

A miscalculation now could be fatal for the US, Russia and Syria.

SYRIAN COMPLEXITIES

Syria is a perfect illustration of the complexity of modern warfare and the geopolitics that complicate everything.

Syria was established after World War One and the fall of the Ottoman Empire.   After “the war to end all wars,” the Treaty of Paris carved out a number of new countries from the ruins of the Turkish ruled empire.   The treaty was aptly described as “the peace to end all peace” by a British general who saw a future of never-ending conflict in the region.   A century later nothing has improved.

Before World War One, Mesopotamia was a sleepy backwater of no interest to anyone.   The same could be said of Syria.   Bible students know that this had to change to fulfill apocalyptic prophecies about Israel (the Jews) and its neighbors.   The prophesied Jewish national homeland was established exactly seventy years ago, in May 1948.

Syria was a Mandated territory of the League of Nations.   France was given the mandate; Britain was given Iraq and Jordan to administer, again under a Mandate from the League.   Palestine was also a League of Nations mandated territory, given to the British.

After World War Two, the French left Syria.   It soon fell under the Soviet sphere of influence.   From 1970 Syria has been the home of a Russian naval base, the only one Russia has on the Mediterranean. The Russians are not going to give it up.   And they will support President Assad as long as it is in their interest to do so.

The US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 helped Russia to gain further influence in the region.   By removing Saddam Hussein from power and arranging an election in Iraq, the majority Shi’ites came to power, altering the balance of religious and political power in the Middle East.   Iran is the leading nation of Shia Islam.   An arc of Shia Islam now exists, from Iran through Iraq to Syria and Lebanon, roughly the same territory of the ancient biblical King of the North. Russia is heavily involved with the Iranians and Syria.   Turkey is now also with them, wanting to stop its Kurdish minority from breaking away.   The Turks are not Arabs, so this does not present a conflict for them.

Syria is not majority Shia.   Assad’s support comes mostly from his Alawite clan, a branch of Shia Islam, which amounts to only 11% of the population.   The Sunnis do not want to be ruled by Assad. Neither do the Sunnis in Iraq want a Shia government over them.  This is why ISIS formed, to “protect” Sunnis from Shi’ites.

It’s all very complicated.

No wonder the president is taking his time.

If he does nothing, he will be seen as weak against Syria and the Russians.  If he does something, innocent lives will be lost, but Assad will remain in power and Russia will continue as its benefactor.

A further complication came today when the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, announced that Moscow has “evidence” the video of the gas attack was performed by actors.   How does the West prove the film was real?

It seems like a no-win situation for the United States.

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European Immigration:   Nuns Out, Terrorists In                                                          by Douglas Murray, April 13, 2018 (Gatestone Institute)

  • When the same Home Office that forbade Sister Ban even to enter the country discovered that the young male Iraqi was in Britain, he explained clearly that he had been trained by ISIS.  He told the Home Office officials that the group had trained him to kill.   The Home Office promptly found him a place to live and study, and treated him as the minor he said he was but most likely was not.   He subsequently told a teacher that he had “a duty to hate Britain.”
  • Last year the Institute of St. Anselm (a Catholic training institute for priests and nuns, based in Kent) closed its doors because of problems it had getting the Home Office to grant visa applications for foreign students.   One nun last year was apparently denied entry to the UK because she did not have a personal bank account.
  • So, those who flee ISIS are turned away, while those who are trained by ISIS are welcome.

 

 

IRANIAN MISSILES AIMED AT ISRAEL

An image grab taken from Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV on November 5, 2017 shows Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Lebanon’s militant Shiite movement Hezbollah, giving a televised address from an undisclosed location in Lebanon. / AFP PHOTO 

“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that it’s desolation is near” (Luke 21:20).

Special Dispatch No. 7328

Pro-Hizbullah Lebanese Website:  “Hizbullah Has 70,000 Iranian Missiles Across Syria Ready To Launch Into Israel;  In A Year It Will Have 500,000”  (MEMRI, 2/12)

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Iran has 10 military bases in Syria, two near Israel border — analyst

Up to 20,000 fighters trained by Tehran are in country, now focused on Israel, after neutralizing IS threat, NY Times reports                                   Times of Israel * 19 Feb 2018

Iran operates 10 military bases in Syria and is training militias loyal to President Bashar Assad’s regime for a possible battle with Israel, with two key facilities located near the border with Israel, an analyst for an American think tank said in an article published Monday.  Up to 20,000 fighters from various militias throughout the war-torn country have been trained by Iranian military personnel, giving Tehran its “true muscle” in Syria, according to the Monday report in The New York Times.   Israel has been warning for years that Iran is seeking to entrench itself militarily in Syria.   According to Israeli political and military assessments, Tehran, which has shored up Assad in the Syrian civil war, has been working to create air and naval bases in Syria, from which it can arm the Lebanon-based terror organization Hezbollah and other Shiite groups, as well as carry out attacks of its own against the Jewish state.   Monday’s report said hundreds or thousands of Iranian military officials are in Syria and that about 6,000 of the Iran-trained combatants in the country are members of Hezbollah, with the rest coming from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries.   Most of them view the battle against non-Shiite Muslims and against non-Muslims in the region in religious terms, the report added.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-has-10-military-bases-in-syria-two-near-israel-border-analyst/

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EXTREME RIGHT CONTINUES TO RISE IN GERMANY

DW remains an excellent source of European news.  The German news program is shown on PBS on weekday evenings.

On Monday it reported the appointment of Chancellor Merkel’s “heir apparent”, Annegret Kram-Karrenbauer, as General Secretary of the conservative Christian Democrats.   This is a role that Mrs. Merkel had before becoming Chancellor – the same development could happen again.   Already, the media has dubbed her “Mini-Merkel”.

On the same evening news program, it was reported that the latest polls show support for the left-wing Social Democrats is plummeting.   At the same time, the “extreme right wing party, AfD, continues to rise dramatically.   DW’s Oliver Sallet commented that “this is unheard of.   It has never happened before in (the Federal Republic of) Germany.   The general trend continues, which is the rise of the Right in Germany.”

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RENEW LAUNCHED IN UK

Prior to the above news item, the program reported the launch of a new party in the United Kingdom.   “Renew” is dedicated to reversing the Brexit decision.

Britain remains very divided on whether the country should restore its independence, or further immerse itself in the German dominated European Union.

It’s also reported that the American billionaire George Soros has donated 600,000 pounds to try to ensure Britain does not go ahead with Brexit; at the same time, the CEO of Bank of America is speaking out against it.   Neither of these men is British.   In the US, the nightly news frequently brings up Russian interference in the last US election.   It’s time the British government condemned outside interference in Brexit.   This is a British matter for the British people to decide.

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TRADE WAR GETTING WORSE

Chart du jour:   Donald Trump, look away now

The EU’s trade surplus with the US jumped in 2017 and Donald Trump won’t be happy about it.   Having already dubbed Germany a potential “currency exploiter,” the White House will be wincing at new figures which show EU exports to the States jumped 3 per cent last year to €375bn.  Bloomberg reckons the figures could further strain trans-Atlantic trade ties between the two economic giants.  (FT 2/16)

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RECOMMENDED FAMILY SHOW

Friends recommended “When Calls the Heart,” which is available on Netflix.   The show is now in its fifth season on Hallmark.

It centers on the development of a small town “the other side of the Rockies” and the relationship between a Canadian Mountie and an adventurous school teacher from a wealthy family.   It’s a very good family show.

Prior to watching it, I was saying to my wife that we have watched good programs from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and the USA, but nothing from Canada.   Now, finally, here’s a series set in Canada.   That’s not the same as being “Canadian.” Hallmark, a US based channel, has left its prints all over it.  Even the Mountie is an import from Australia!

King Edward VII conferred the title “Royal” on the Mounties in 1904, six years before the series is set.   At the time, all outposts of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) would have displayed a photo of the King in their office.   Schools would, too, as any reader of “Anne of Green Gables” knows.  (Perhaps, we can overlook this as the school in the series meets in a saloon!)   The government is referred to as “the federal government,” whereas Canadians refer to the government in Ottawa as the “Government of Canada.”   Additionally, the only time any political subject has come up in the series, it’s been about US presidents.  Also, New York, San Francisco and Hollywood have received special mention, as if they are a part of the same province.

In other words, a very uplifting series is slightly marred by historical error, which could have been avoided.   Hallmark missed an opportunity to teach Americans about their bigger neighbor to the North.

It’s not very often that Philippians 4:8 comes to mind when watching a television series.  But it did with this one:

Philippians 4:8 NKJV – “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.”

There is no bad language in this series, no sex and minimal violence.  My wife and I recommend it as good family viewing, suitable for our grandchildren.

One final comment:   famously, Mounties always get their man, but the Mountie in this series is taking a very long time to get his woman!  It’s sometimes painful watching what must be one of the slowest courtships in dramatic history.  It’s good, though, for teens today to see how people used to court the opposite sex.

Watch it and see for yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

FLORIDA SCHOOL SHOOTING

(Photo: John McCall, AP)

After yet another school shooting in the United States, the 19th this year, Pat Buchanan wrote a brilliant analysis.   The following is a quote from his article, posted this morning.

“Another factor helps to explain what happened Wednesday: We are a formerly Christian society in an advanced state of decomposition.

“Nikolas Cruz was a product of broken families.  He was adopted. Both adoptive parents had died.  Where did he get his ideas of right and wrong, good and evil?   Before the Death of God and repeal of the Ten Commandments, in those dark old days, the 1950s, atrocities common now were almost nonexistent.    (“The Motives behind the massacre,” Pat Buchanan, 2/16)

Deuteronomy 28 is the classic Bible chapter that should help us all think.   In summary, what it says is that the more we obey God, the greater our society will be; the more we turn away from God, the worse it will become.   As Mr. Buchanan points out, “before the death of God and repeal of the Ten Commandments, in those dark old days, the 1950s, atrocities common now were almost nonexistent.”

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RIPPLE EFFECT OF SCHOOL SHOOTINGS

It’s not just that US schools are unsafe, it’s clear to the rest of the world that America is a very violent country, with a governmental system that doesn’t work any more.   As one writer put it, the US has an eighteenth century constitution in a twenty first century world.

Most countries already have a bad impression of the current US president.   But, when Mr. Trump spoke following the shootings and talked about mental illness, that impression only worsened.   Mental illness was (and usually is) a major factor, but what differentiates America from other western countries is easy access to weapons. Even the mentally ill can walk into a gun dealer and buy an assault rifle!

Parkland will not be the last school mass shooting.

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ISLAM AND THE WEST

Sheikh “Abu Qusay” delivered a Friday sermon in Jerusalem, in which he said:

“Oh dweller of the White House, let me tell you, from the pulpit of the Prophet Muhammad, that this is the promise of Allah and His Messenger:   Jerusalem is the heart of the land of Islam.   We will storm your White House, stomp on your head, kill your soldiers, and capture your land.   This is the promise of the Prophet Muhammad.” The sermon was posted to the internet on December 22nd.   (MEMRI)

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Nervous Rex?  Tillerson in Turkey

The war in Syria has already tested and destroyed many alliances. Turkey’s relationship with America may be next.   Having launched one army offensive against Kurdish insurgents in north-west Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government says it will soon order another, this time in the north-east.   There, the militants are flanked by American troops, who are supporting them in their fight against Islamic State.   It will be up to America’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, who arrives in Turkey today, to calm nerves and prevent the diplomatic row between the two NATO allies from exploding into an armed one.   That will not be easy.   After an American general warned that his forces would retaliate against any attack on their positions inside the Kurdish strongholds, Mr Erdogan said the United States “had clearly never received an Ottoman slap.” Slap or no slap, Mr. Tillerson’s ears will be ringing by the time he gets back to Washington. (Economist, 2/15)

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German government plans massive military expansion in Iraq        By Johannes Stern, 13 February 2018

The new grand coalition in Germany is planning a massive expansion of the German army (Bundeswehr) mission in Iraq. 

This was announced by Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen (Christian Democratic Union, CDU) in the course of her trip to the Middle East last weekend.  Von der Leyen praised Germany’s cooperation with the Peshmerga [Kurdish military forces] during her visit to Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Autonomous Region in northern Iraq.   The Bundeswehr has been arming and militarily supporting the Kurdish force for three and a half years.   It was “impressive to see the great success of the Peshmerga training mission,” she said, thanking “Bundeswehr soldiers” on the spot.  Von der Leyen then announced that in future the Bundeswehr would be deployed throughout Iraq.

There will be “another mandate,” she said, “a mandate with a new balance … between Baghdad and Erbil on equal terms on both sides.” The defense minister made no concrete statements about the planned operation, but left no doubt she envisaged a long-term military engagement throughout Iraq.   “Both in Kurdistan, as well as in the central government in Baghdad,” there is “a request above all to help in the implementation of reforms, in the construction of ministry structures,” the minister said.   In Erbil, for example, “the construction of an entire sanitary unit is necessary,” but this also involved “of course the entire planning, organisation, recruitment and training.”   There is also “considerable demand” for logistics. Germany wanted to “make its contribution” to provide Iraq with “independent, loyal operational forces for the long term.”

The Socialist Equality Party rejects the coalition pact, which focuses on the return of Germany to an aggressive foreign and great power policy, and calls for the disclosure of all the talks.   Under conditions of escalating warfare in Syria and Iraq, and US preparations for war against North Korea, which threaten to provoke a Third World War, this demand, along with the demand for new elections, is becoming increasingly urgent.

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Special Dispatch No. 7339

Hamas, Palestinian Factions In Response To Israel’s Airstrikes In Syria:   ‘Any Israeli Attack, On Any Front, Will Be Answered With A Comprehensive War On All Fronts’ (MEMRI 2/15)

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Macron Vows to Reform Islam in France
“It is time to bring in a new generation”

by Soeren Kern, February 13, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • The overall objective of President Macron’s plan is to ensure that French law takes precedence over Islamic law for Muslims living in the country.
  • The plan, as currently conceived, is vague and short on details, but appears to involve three broad pillars: determining who will represent Muslims in France; delineating how Islam in France will be financed; and defining how imams in France will be trained.
  • “It is time to bring in a new generation.   We have seen fifteen years of debate to defend the interests of foreign states.” — Hakim el-Karoui, a French-Tunisian expert on Islam who is advising Macron on the reforms. (Gatestone)

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EUROPEAN UNITY

A New Élysée Treaty – Berlin and Paris are seeking a “new Élysée Treaty.”   On the 55th anniversary of the original 1963 Élysée Treaty, in which the Federal Republic of Germany and France committed themselves to hold “consultations” on major political issues, Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron announced the drafting of a new treaty aimed at “deepening” cooperation between the two countries and “strengthening” the EU.   In a declaration, the parliaments of both countries called for harmonizing almost the “complete range of policy issues.”   This would amount to massively enhancing the “German-French axis.”

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US/EU

Transatlantic Rivals

(Own report) – In Washington serious warnings are being raised against an independent German-European military policy aimed at weakening NATO.   The militarization of the EU is being supported as long as “it is complimentary to NATO,” a senior Pentagon official was quoted.   However, Washington would intervene if Berlin and the EU were to pull military resources away from NATO and use them for their own wars.   This statement was made in light of the NATO defense ministers’ meeting that begins today, which will include a decision on the establishment of two new NATO headquarters.   One will be established in the United States, to secure the military supply routes from North America over the Atlantic to Europe.   A second will be established in Germany, to optimize rapid redeployments of West European troops eastwards across the continent.   At the current stage of planning, this will be under German sovereignty and available also for use outside of the NATO framework.

More… https://www.german-foreign-policy.com/en/news/detail/7531/

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TRADE WAR

Despite its loss in U.S. trade court against Bombardier, Boeing believes 2018 will be a turning point in its lengthy WTO challenge to Airbus over government subsidies.   The threat of hefty tariffs could redraw the playing field — or trigger a trade war among traditional allies.   (Dominic Gates,The Seattle Times 2/10)

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday rejected the sale of the Chicago Stock Exchange to a group that would have included Chinese investors, capping a two-year battle over a deal that sparked political opposition in Congress, reports the WSJ’s Dave Michaels. (2/16)

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US ECONOMY

Some like it hot:   America’s economy

The White House will announce its infrastructure plan today.   It is expected to call for $200bn more in government spending to encourage private investment, hoping for a total of $1.5trn towards spending on roads, bridges, ports and more.   Were Congress to pass such a plan without cutting spending elsewhere, it would be the third recent salvo of fiscal stimulus.   Last week lawmakers passed a budget that will raise spending by $143bn (0.7% of GDP) this year; in December President Donald Trump signed into law tax cuts worth about $280bn in 2019.   America’s budget deficit will probably reach $1trn (5% of GDP) that year.   All this will stimulate an already hot economy.   Unemployment is just 4.1%, and real-time estimates of GDP growth in the first quarter of 2018 are as high as 4%.   The natural question is:   when will inflation take off?   This strangely timed fiscal experiment will reveal the answer.   (Economist Espresso, 2/12)

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 ASIA

China, Maldives: Beijing’s Boats Send a Message to India — China’s increased military presence in the Indian Ocean gives the country more options to respond to the crisis in the Maldives, in addition to challenging New Delhi’s influence in the region.   (Stratfor, 2/16)

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AFRICA

Finally, Mo Ibrahim has found an African president worthy of the $5 million prize the Sudanese billionaire offered to any leader who would step down after losing an election.   The prize goes to Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.   It’s been eleven years since the prize was established.   “Ellen Johnson Sirleaf took the helm of Liberia when it was completely destroyed by civil war and led a process of reconciliation that focused on building a nation and its democratic institution,” said the head of the prize committee.

Liberia’s gross domestic product was only $550 million when Mrs. Sirleaf became president in 2005.   At the end of her tenure in office it had increased to $2.1 billion.   (Wall Street Journal, 2/14)

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COMMENT ON OXFAM CHARITY SCANDAL

Can charities be truly bad?   It seems perverse to say that they are, but the Oxfam abuse scandal has revealed a sinister side to international aid — and about time, too.   In our cover package this week, Harriet Sergeant argues that, in Africa and elsewhere, NGOs often do more harm than good.   Mary Wakefield, meanwhile, who wrote about rapist aid workers in the magazine a fortnight ago, well before the Oxfam story broke, asks why polite society prefers to ignore scandals which relate to organisations that people want to believe are good.   (The Spectator, UK, 2/15)

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THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils — Berlioz