There’s so much happening right now, it’s difficult to know where to begin.
Zimbabwe’s economy is, once again, near collapse. Electricity is available only six hours a day, usually at night, which means that cooking meals and ironing a shirt can only be done in the middle of the night. Food is once again scarce and prices high.
It’s hard to believe that, forty years ago, everything was in plentiful supply. In fact, the country exported food, feeding much of Africa. But that was before independence.
Coincidentally, I’m wearing a T-shirt my wife bought me. Emblazened across the front are the words: ‘Rhodesia was super.” “Rhodesia is super” was the slogan of the Rhodesian tourist industry four decades ago.
It certainly was.
Like all countries, it had its faults. But what replaced it has been a miserable failure due, primarily, to bad government.
May God speed the day when change, real change, will come!
Boris Johnson promised 20,000 more police to combat Britain’s horrendous crime wave.
This followed the murder of a 28-year-old newly married policeman. He was murdered by a screwdriver and dragged a considerable distance under a car. Ten 13-30-year-olds were questioned about the murder. A 20-year-old man has been charged.
There were over 31,000 violent assaults on policemen in the UK last year, up from 26,000 the previous year.
I can still remember when a violent attack on a policeman was a very rare event. This is clearly not the case any more. In a country where guns are rare, machetes and knives are often used in violent acts. The machete is a recent addition, being brought in from Africa by immigrants.
There’s not much hope of a real national discussion on the crime wave. There’s a definite need for one. But it would be pointless without freedom of speech. One factor is the gang warfare that plagues the big cities. Most of these are ethnic, but you can’t mention that. The restoration of free speech is a must, for any serious discussion on anything.
Now that the UK is leaving the EU, they will have the freedom to restore the death penalty, banned throughout the European Union. The murders of policeman and of children are particularly heinous and should receive the maximum possible sentence. They need to be put on trial and sentenced quickly
“When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, people’s hearts are filled with schemes to do wrong.” (Ecclesiastes 8:11 NIV)
Over fifty years ago, there was compulsory Christian education in schools. That needs to be restored, too. All children should be taught the ten commandments.
In the US, in the same week, it was announced that there have been nine police suicides in the NYPD this year, highlighting a serious problem across the nation.
TLAIB TALKS NONSENSE, AGAIN
“U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib said Monday Israel’s decision to prohibit her and another Muslim member of congress from visiting the West Bank this week had “nothing to do” with their itinerary but with silencing critics of the occupation of Palestine.
“I think the focus is on hiding the truth,” Tlaib, a Democrat from Detroit, said at a news conference in St. Paul with US Rep. Ilhan Omar.
Israel is, and likely will always be, the most liberal, open and pluralistic society in the Middle East.
The 22 members of the Arab League are all dictatorships, of one sort or another.
Afghanistan celebrated 100 years of independence last week, August 19th.
The country was never a colony but did have a protected status, short of complete self-rule.
After three wars against the Afghans, the British had had enough. The country has seen off many conquerors over the centuries, giving it the well-earned moniker: “the graveyard of empires.” In recent years, the Russians were defeated (1989) and now it’s America’s turn. When the US withdraws, the most likely outcome is that the Taliban will take over; or even ISIS.
America should be careful withdrawing. In January 1842, one lone British doctor was the only person left alive after a massacre of 16,000 Anglo-Indian troops in the Khyber Pass. They left the one man alive to tell others what happened.
America today has 14,000 troops remaining. Other members of the Coalition have already left.
The set-back in Afghanistan is part of a regional trend of lost influence and reduced power. From Australia comes the following: “The US is so weakened in the Indo-Pacific region, it could now lose a short, sharp conflict started by Beijing in just “hours,” up-ending the military order in our region.
Furthermore, Australia is no longer able to rely on Washington to come to its defense.
That’s the conclusion of a blunt new report that found years of spending cuts, an “outdated superpower mindset” and ageing equipment mean US military installations in the region are vulnerable to being wiped out by China in a surprise battle.
“The stakes could not be higher,” the analysis by the University of Sydney’s United States Studies Centre warned.” (“US so weakened in Indo-Pacific it could now “lose war to China,” news.com,au 8/21)
NATO STRENGTHENS TIES WITH AUSTRALIA
(Own report) – NATO continues to intensify its cooperation with Australia. This is the result of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s talks in the Australian capital in the middle of last week. According to Stoltenberg, the cooperation is aimed particularly at taking a stance in the growing rivalry between the major powers – against Russia, but above all, against China. For several years, Germany has been accompanying NATO’s cooperation with Canberra, by enhancing its own bilateral military cooperation, explicitly considering Australia to be a “strategic springboard into the Asian-Pacific region.”
Currently tensions are threatening to escalate because Washington would like to deploy intermediate-range missiles in Australia, which could directly hit Chinese territory. Strategists are increasingly pushing NATO to intensify its activities in the Asian-Pacific. These could even develop into the warfare alliance’s key task, according to the president of the Federal College for Security Studies in Berlin. (German Foreign Policy, 8/20)
TRUMP UPSETS DENMARK
President Trump on Monday offered to buy Greenland, an autonomous province of the Kingdom of Denmark.
The Danish prime minister thought the suggestion “absurd”. So President Trump has canceled his visit to the country.
It’s not the first time that the US has offered money for the Danish island. It was offered first in 1946.
GERMANY IN RECESSION
Germany, Europe’s industrial powerhouse and biggest economy, with companies like Volkswagen, Siemens and BASF, may be entering a recession, according to a gloomy report from the country’s central bank Monday — a development that could have repercussions for the rest of the eurozone and the United States.
A technical recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth, and Germany saw a 0.1% drop in the April-to-June period. In its monthly report, the Bundesbank said that with falling industrial production and orders, it appears the slump is continuing during the July-to-September quarter.
“The overall economic performance could decline slightly once again,” it said. “Central to this is the ongoing downturn in industry.”
Deutsche Bank went further Monday, saying “we see Germany in a technical recession” and predicting a 0.25% drop in economic output this quarter.
Germany’s economy is heavily dependent on exports, and the Bundesbank said the trade conflict between the U.S. and China and uncertainty about Britain’s move to leave the European Union have been taking their toll. Both the U.S. and China are among Germany’s top trade partners, with Britain not far behind. (“Wide implications as Germany teeters toward recession,” A.P., 8/20)
BAD NEWS FOR GERMANY’S ECONOMY MIGHT BE GOOD NEWS FOR THE FAR RIGHT
BERLIN — Despite Germany’s 10-year economic boom, a far-right party has managed to become Germany’s main opposition in Parliament, enter every state legislature in the country and vie for first place in elections in the former Communist East next month. And now the economy is slowing.
At a moment when populism is riding high in various corners of Europe, often against the backdrop of economic distress and high unemployment, a downturn in the Continent’s richest and most stable liberal democracy could add fuel to the fire and strengthen the nationalist Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, analysts said.
“Economic crises fuel a fear of the future, a sense of decline and the sense that the elite is failing the people,” said Yascha Mounk, an expert on populism and author of “The People Vs. Democracy.” “That’s fertile ground for populists.” Marcel Fratzscher, a respected German political economist and professor at Humboldt University in Berlin, put it more directly: “The economic slowdown should rather help the AfD.”
Professor Fratzscher, who also heads the German Institute for Economic Research, pointed to a forthcoming study from his institute, which will show that the AfD is much stronger in economically and structurally weak regions. “This regional inequality and polarization is a threat to democracy,” he said, adding that “with the economic slowdown, structurally weaker regions will be hit harder, which will increase regional inequalities and accelerate the polarization.”
That is as true for Europe broadly as it is for Germany in particular. Signs that a period of exceptional economic growth may come to an end in Europe’s biggest economy sent shivers through global markets this week. But beyond the economics, the political implications of the slowdown are just as disconcerting.
A weaker German economy not only threatens to open a broader path for the AfD. It may also further reduce the influence of Berlin and its lame-duck chancellor, Angela Merkel, precisely at a moment when German leadership is needed to address the European Union’s manifold problems, including Britain’s scheduled departure on Oct. 31, as well as global trade issues.” (Katrin Bennhold, New York Times, 8/16)
MACRON SAYS “NON”
Charles De Gaulle resoundingly said “Non” when Britain applied to join the EU 5o years ago.
Now, his successor, Emmanuel Macron, says “Non” to helping Britain leave on amicable and workable terms. He is refusing to cooperate with Boris Johnson’s request to remove the Irish backstop, the arrangement that would preclude any hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.
What does Ireland have to do with France? Good question!
ITALY’S FASCIST PAST REVERBERATES IN ROME
Lovers of fascist architecture never disappeared from Italy’s capital, where Mussolini sought to centralize powers. He continues to be revered in one of the Roman neighborhoods the dictator built, and elsewhere.
(Deutsche Welle * 17 Aug 2019) Fascist buildings can be found all over Italy. Roberto Canali, the right-wing mayor of Predappio, Mussolini’s birthplace, announced plans last month to reopen the dictator’s crypt to tourists all year around. At the moment, fascists and neo-fascists can only access the site in central Italy three times a year. The mayor said that the move would help local business.
I always sell all the copies of the Primato Nazionale,” adds Moreschini, referring to a far-right, nationalistic monthly magazine founded in Milan six years ago. Even if it is impossible to say whether fascists could make a comeback, it is clear that the current political fragility, coupled with regional emergencies and Italy’s sluggish economy, is increasing the visibility of far-right ideas. “In the end, fascists never really disappeared,” says Pietro Di Placidi, as he cleans up Sgobbone restaurant after the lunchtime customers have left. (https://www.dw.com/en/italys-fascist-past-reverberates-in-rome/a-50024325)
OLD SOUTH AFRICAN FLAG CONSTITUTES “HATE SPEECH”
JOHANNESBURG, Aug 21 (Reuters) – “A South African court on Wednesday ruled that displaying the country’s apartheid-era flag in public constituted hate speech that discriminated against black people and violated equality laws.
The case relates to a 2017 demonstration against attacks and killings of farmers where the so-called ‘Apartheid Flag” was displayed. The protest was led by predominantly white, Afrikaner nationalist groups.
After public anger at the display of the flag, the Nelson Mandela Foundation applied for an order declaring “gratuitous display” of the flag as hate speech, unfair discrimination and harassment based on race.” (Mfuneko Toyana, 8/21)
Pakistani Islamic Scholars Urge Jihad Against India In Kashmir, Say: ‘Kashmiri Muslims Have No Path Other Than Jihad’; ‘The Muslims’ Neck Is In The Grip Of The Jews’ (MEMRI headline, 8/18)
BUBONIC PLAGUE IN US
Bubonic plague may seem like a disease that’s been relegated to the history books, but that’s not the case. The disease that struck terror in people in the Middle Ages is alive and well in the modern world, and it’s most recently appeared in prairie dog towns in the suburbs of Denver.
So how did prairie dogs get a virulent infection that plagued the Byzantine Empire and killed 60 percent of Europeans in the 1300s? During the last half of the 19th century, plague spread across China. When it hit the port of Hong Kong around 1894, the disease-carrying fleas began to spread to port cities around the world, eventually killing about 10 million people. Ester Inglis-Arkell reports that bubonic plague came to the U.S. via Chinatown in San Francisco around 1900, though local officials refused to acknowledge the disease, worried about driving away tourists. In 1906, however, when an earthquake leveled large parts of the city, rats carrying plague fleas proliferated in the rubble, leading to an outbreak of the disease.
The bacteria were also transmitted to San Francisco area squirrels, and from there, spread to the small rodent population of the American West. Now, the disease is endemic, meaning it’s always present at low levels, though researchers don’t completely understand why larger outbreaks occur during certain years. On average, between one and 17 cases of plague are reported annually in humans, with hotspots located in the high deserts of northern New Mexico and Arizona as well as southern Colorado, according to the CDC.
But it’s not just humans that suffer from Yersinia pestis. Outbreaks of the plague, which is called sylvatic plague when it infects small mammals, can kill over 90 percent of prairie dogs infected with the disease. (“Plague infected prairie dogs cause parks to close near Denver.” Smithsonian, 8.22)