In western and southern Europe, coronavirus has taken a devastating toll, with people dying in their thousands each day, and doctors having to make appalling choices about which lives to save as health systems buckle under the number of cases. But in central and eastern Europe (CEE), the pandemic has been contained to such an extent that the first glimpses of a post-lockdown world are visible. Shops, hotels, schools and even shopping centers are reopening. The transcontinental divide is striking. So far, Spain has recorded 517 deaths per million people, Italy 453, France 353, and the UK 325. By contrast, Slovakia has recorded 4, Poland 16, the Czech Republic 21 and Austria 65. On Tuesday alone, Spain, Italy and the UK all suffered more deaths than the Czech Republic, Hungary, or Slovakia have recorded during the entire crisis. “We are doing very well,” Igor Matovic, Slovakia’s prime minister, said in a press conference on Wednesday of his country’s battle. “Perhaps even better than we expected.” (“How central and eastern Europe contained coronavirus”, James Shotter and Sam Jones, Financial Times, 4/30/2020)
GERMANY IS THE NEW GLOBAL LEADER
Forget Washington and Beijing. These Days Global Leadership Comes From Berlin. People love to hate Germany—but the country is doing far more than most nations to help its European neighbors fight the coronavirus. (by Elisabeth Braw, April 28, 2020, Foreign Policy)
At the beginning of April, the university hospital in the central German city of Jena dispatched two doctors, two medical assistants, and assorted medical supplies to Naples, Italy. A couple of days before, the Bundeswehr, Germany’s military, had airlifted French and Italian patients to German hospitals. That’s just a tiny part of Germany’s coronavirus assistance to allies.(https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/04/28/global-leadership-coronavirus-pandemic-germany-united-states-china/)
GERMAN RELIANCE ON CHINA OVER COVID-19
Germany will most likely have to rely on China to limit the economic damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to estimates by two flagship sectors of German industry – the automotive and mechanical engineering branches. The Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA) expects dramatic losses particularly in Europe and North America while expecting growth of business in China, where the situation “seems to become stabilized.” Representatives of the automotive industry express similar views. VW, for example, is expecting to catch up in the People’s Republic and not lag too far behind its original annual plans, whereas experts are expecting billions in losses on the US automotive market. “Crises shift forces” business circles predict regarding the uneven development in China and the USA. Berlin also depends on Beijing for the procurement of medical protective equipment. The largest supply so far is expected to arrive in Leipzig today – carried out by the German military. (German Foreign Policy, 4/27/2020)
CAMEL PEE CURES COVID-19
Muslim advocacy for drinking camel urine is back in the news, this time in connection with the coronavirus, which is especially ironic if not deadly, as will be explained. An “Islamic medicine specialist” and director of a religious-scientific institution in Iran recently called on his countrymen to drink camel urine as the “best cure” for coronavirus and other ailments.
Mehdi Sabili, who is affiliated with the Iranian regime, uploaded a video on his Instagram account extolling the virtues of dromedary urine on April 19. The video, which has since gone viral, also depicted him drinking a glass of freshly procured camel urine — which he enthused was best drunk “fresh and warm” — and calling on fellow Iranians to do the same three times a day for three days (i.e., nine full glasses). (Camel urine – Islam’s best cure for coronavirus, Raymond Ibrahim, MEF, 4/28)
SAN REMO CONFERENCE MAJOR STEP TOWARD CREATION OF ISRAEL
April 25 marked the 100th anniversary of the San Remo conference, which conferred the Mandate for Palestine on Britain, a decision confirmed two years later by the League of Nations in a resolution recognizing Britain’s promise in the 1917 Balfour Declaration to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
There is probably no more understated event in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict than the San Remo conference of April 1920. Convened for a mere week as part of the post-World War I peace conferences, which created a new international order on the basis of indigenous self-rule and national self-determination, participants appointed Britain as mandatory for Palestine with the specific task of:
putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2, 1917, by the British Government [i.e., the Balfour Declaration], and adopted by the other Allied Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
This mandate was then ratified on July 24, 1922, by the Council of the League of Nations – the postwar world organization and the United Nation’s predecessor. (Efraim Karsh, MEF, 4/28)
STARVATION MAJOR PROBLEM IN ONCE PROSPEROUS SOUTH AFRICA – The biggest lockdown threat: Hunger, hunger, everywhere
Protests and looting have broken out all over South Africa in recent days in response to one issue: hunger. It is now clear that hunger will pose the greatest threat to South African well-being and security during the lockdown – and the difficulties involved with getting food to millions of South Africans in need are tremendous.
The hunger of South Africans during the extended lockdown period is spilling over on to the streets. This week alone, grocery stores have been looted and protests have broken out on the Cape Flats, Khayelitsha, Alexandra and Chatsworth – to name just a few areas. Cape Flats ward councillor Bongani Ngcani was quoted by News24 as saying: “A man told me: ‘I would rather die of Covid-19 than of hunger’ .” It is clear that all three tiers of government are well aware of the threat posed by hunger. But the logistical challenges of providing food to potentially millions of South Africans under lockdown are monumental, and may not be able to be resolved through existing systems. (The Daily Maverick, 17 April 2020, by Rebecca Davis)
CAN CORONAVIRUS CAUSE A BIBLICAL FAMINE?
On Tuesday, the head of the UN’s food relief agency warned that the coronavirus pandemic could produce “famines of biblical proportions,” as 265 million people across 30 countries face starvation.
And yet, the world right now has an historic abundance of food. How is this possible?
Even before the arrival of COVID-19, historic locust swarms had left tens of millions in East Africa without enough food. And some 85 million people across 46 countries already needed emergency food aid in 2019.
But the coronavirus pandemic, and governments’ responses to it, have made matters drastically worse in ways that hurt the neediest countries the most. (Gzero Signal, 4/24/2020)
ISLAMIST HATE PREACHER WARNS MUSLIMS TO ARM THEMSELVES
He spins the bitter realities of failing, backward Middle Eastern communities and nations into narratives of victimization that fuel resentment towards the West, Jews and Israel.
One of Chicago’s most notorious anti-Semites has responded to the COVID-19 outbreak in a despicable manner: by blaming Jews and encouraging Muslims to arm themselves against their neighbors.
During a series of alarmist rants on his YouTube channel, Imam Omar Baloch simultaneously declared that the coronavirus may be a Zionist-American plot to throttle the growth of the Chinese economy, a punishment from Allah and the work of shadowy secret societies.
However, Baloch’s most concerning online lecture occurred on March 22, when he suggested that the coronavirus presents a “very good opportunity” for Muslims to “purchase firearms” ahead of confrontations with their Trump-supporting neighbors. (Hesham Shehab, Middle East Forum, 4/29/2020)
AS AMERICA MOVES OUT, CHINA MOVES IN
Both the United Kingdom and the U.S. State Department have complained to China about the free flow of Chinese weapons to Iran, which then wind up with the Taliban. These include surface-to-air missiles, rocket-propelled grenades, artillery shells, and land mines.
China’s $3 billion copper mine investment… in Afghanistan’s Logar Province remains under the Taliban’s protection. Other Chinese corporations that have initiated investment projects in Afghanistan include the Zinjin Mining Company, the Jiangxi Copper Corporation, and China National Petroleum Corporation.
The Trump administration has made clear that it wants to end the forward-positioning of U.S. troops on what it regards as a seemingly endless war in Afghanistan, and the Taliban wholeheartedly agrees. China, in the meantime, has continued to profit from its bilateral commerce and investment in the region, and now appears willing to play a future military role in the area. China has already established a military base in Tajikistan near the Chinese border with Afghanistan…. (Lawrence A. Franklin, Gatestone, 4/29/2020)
TO THE POINT
- A row between Australia and China over the origins of the new coronavirus escalated. Scott Morrison, Australia’s prime minister, reiterated his demand for an independent global inquiry into the pandemic; it is widely thought to have started in a wet market in Wuhan. China accused the Australian government of trying to make “political manoeuvres” and warned that such an inquiry could result in a boycott of Australian education, tourism and agricultural products. (The Economist, 4/29/2020)
- US Economy Nosedives With Worst Yet To Come — The United State’s gross domestic product (GDP) shrank 4.8% in the first quarter of 2020 – three months where the country’s economy was hit hard by lockdowns in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The figures, however, do not take April into account, and as such do not show the effect of some of the most comprehensive economic shutdowns that have closed businesses and seen 26.5 million citizens file for unemployment benefits. (The Week, 4/30/2020)
- Coronavirus-enforced lockdowns in March clobbered American GDP figures for the first quarter. The economy contracted at an annualized rate of 4.8%, the steepest fall since 2008. The April-June quarter will probably be worse. Before the pandemic, GDP had been expected to grow by about 2% this year. The Federal Reserve said it will keep interest rates at near-zero for the foreseeable future. (The Economist, 4/30/2020)
- The French and Spanish economies shrank at the fastest rate on record in the first three months of the year as lockdowns to curb the spread of covid-19 were imposed. France’s GDP fell by 5.8% quarter-on-quarter over the period, while Spain’s dropped 5.2% by the same measure. Economists forecast even bigger drops in GDP for the second quarter. (The Economist, 4/30/2020)
- News reporter caught on air with no trousers – A US TV news reporter appeared live on Good Morning America – without any trousers. Journalist Will Reeve, the son of Superman actor Christopher Reeve, was appearing on ABC News’s Good Morning America from his home during lockdown. But he failed to realize that his self-framed shot showed that he wasn’t wearing the bottom half of his suit. (The Week, 4/29/2020)
- The City of Detroit has had to remind residents of the need to put pants (trousers) on when going out to check their mail.
- 500,000 RECEIVE FREE MEALS — The city of New York is giving Muslims 500,000 free meals for Ramadan. These people are of the same ideology as those who attacked the city less than twenty years ago.
- CHURCHILL A WAR CRIMINAL – At least one school in the UK is now teaching that Winston Churchill was a war criminal. What’s next? Hitler as a progressive who solved Germany’s unemployment problem!
- POYGAMY BEGETS VIOLENCE (you don’t say!) The Economist. (More next week)
Through the corona crisis I keep going back to my childhood in England. We did not have a television until Christmas 1959. I was almost nine years of age. When we first got one, there were only two channels, both black and white. Neither came on the air until about 5pm (except on weekends). There were two television news bulletins a night, both ten minutes long, one for the early birds at about 6pm and the second one in peak time, at about 9.
How would the Covid-19 outbreak have been handled back then?
With only a ten-minute news bulletin, there would have been no opportunity to whip the public into a panic, which is what has happened this time around. There was no panic, either, during the Spanish flu epidemic in 1918-19, when the death rate was far higher.
Not everyone is panicking, but workers at a local grocery store and employees at our bank have both commented on how fellow employees are not turning up for work. “They are just too frightened,” a bank employee told me.
Others avoid the daily walk they are allowed because they are too scared to go outside.
A first step to avoiding this over-reaction might be to stop watching the news.
In Matthew 24:42 Jesus Christ told us to “Watch,” to notice what is happening in the world, as we see prophecy unfolding. Did He mean to “watch” for ten minutes a day, as in 1959, or “watch” the news 24/7 on any one of a dozen TV stations? Or could we just read the local newspaper for ten minutes?
We can be aware of what’s going on around us in a few minutes a day. When we expose ourselves too much to endless negativity it’s going to have a depressing effect on us, spiritually, mentally and physically.
I John 4:18 reassures us when it says, “Perfect love casts out fear.” During this time of confinement we need to strengthen the love that binds us to our family members, people we can still spend time with. We may not be able to visit grandparents, but we can Skype them or give them a call.
If we focus on that positivity, there will be less room in our lives for the negativity of the coronavirus, of the endless panic that is whipped up in the national hysteria of television.
One morning I got up early and turned on the local news. It was so depressing, I flicked through the available channels (we don’t have cable) and landed on “I Love Lucy,” an old TV show that was on TV in the 50’s. It was, surprisingly, refreshing. It left me with a good feeling. I certainly didn’t miss anything. When it was over, there was plenty of time to contemplate the virus.
“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.” (Phil 4:8).
Something funny to end on . . .