Tag Archives: Ukraine

GERMANY BACKS BREAK-UP OF UNITED KINGDOM

BERLIN/LONDON/EDINBURGH – Berlin’s foreign policy is in support of Scottish nationalists, preparing to hold a second referendum to secede from the United Kingdom.   Last week, Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of the Scottish regional government and chairperson of the Scottish National Party (SNP), was received in the German capital for confidential talks with representatives of the German foreign policy establishment, including with Michael Roth (SPD), Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.   Officially, the meetings were focused on the Brexit, bitterly opposed by Sturgeon and the Scottish nationalists.   However, Sturgeon was, in fact, also pleading for support for her secessionist project and to bring Scotland, as an independent country into the EU.

About three years ago, German government representatives had already been in support of this plan.

However, a reliable Scottish majority, needed for this project, is nowhere in sight.

A Second Secession Referendum

Scotland’s regional government under First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is relentlessly pursuing its campaign for a second secession referendum.   Prior to the referendum on September 18, 2014, Scottish nationalists, including Sturgeon, had repeatedly that the population’s decision at the ballot box should be valid for one generation.   However, when a clear majority of 55.3 percent voted in favor of remaining in the UK, Sturgeon immediately declared that, by no means, would she content herself with that outcome, and would eventually seek a new vote.   The occasion presented itself with the Brexit referendum on June 23, 2016, when a majority of 51.9 percent in the UK voted to leave the EU, while a clear majority of 62 percent in Scotland voted to remain.   This discrepancy was an opportunity for Sturgeon – whose regional government has so far only rudimentarily implemented its election promises concerning the social and health sectors – to not only reiterate her idea of a second referendum, but to directly link the perspective of Scotland’s secession with that of remaining in the EU.

Inducement Applause

Representatives of Germany’s governing parties and ministries took this occasion to openly applaud the Scottish nationalists’ secessionist efforts and thus promote the disintegration of an officially allied country.   Already on June 26, 2016, Gunther Krichbaum (CDU), Chairman of the Bundestag’s Committee for the Affairs of the European Union declared that he expected that a new referendum on Scotland’s secession would be “successful” and that the country would remain within the EU.   (German Foreign Policy, 9/23)

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GERMANY SUPPORTS MORE INTERVENTIONS

The German government seeks to expand civilian-military interventions abroad, to obtain a more favorable position in the global struggle for spheres of influence.   To meet the challenge in the context of the “great-power rivalry between the United States, Russia and China,” the EU military missions must be combined with “civilian assistance,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) declared recently.   This “networked approach” should become “a hub” for EU-policy and lead to the creation of a “crisis prevention center” in Berlin.   The plan is particularly to train police officers and other “rule-of-law experts” to be deployed in countries, where “German interests” appear threatened by “outside influence.” “Legitimate partners,” such as the governments of Mali or Afghanistan or opposition forces, as in Syria, could be “strengthened,” explains the German Foreign Ministry.  (German Foreign Policy, 9/21)

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GERMANY LEADS MULTINATIONAL NAVAL EXERCISE

ROSTOCK/COPENHAGEN – Under German command, numerous NATO member countries and close allies are participating in a naval exercise – that ends on Thursday – for the control of Baltic maritime routes.

The Bundeswehr provides, by far, the largest contingent in this year’s “Northern Coasts” naval exercise (September 3 to 19), taking place in the context of the escalating conflict between western countries and Russia.   Due to this conflict, not only Eastern Europe, but the Baltic Sea, as well, has been gaining strategic importance. This is comparable to the Baltic Sea’s importance during the Cold War.   Germany is participating in NATO’s remilitarization of the Baltic Sea, seeking to assume a regional leadership role and enhance its standing within NATO.   The new Maritime Forces Staff, DEU MARFOR, based in the naval headquarters being set up in Rostock, also serves this purpose. In the future, it will be able to provide command for NATO, as well as EU wars.

Northern Coasts 2019

Around 3,000 troops from 18 nations are currently participating in the “Northern Coasts 2019” naval exercise lasting more than two weeks and extending from the straits connecting the Baltic Sea to the North Sea between the Danish and Swedish coasts up to the Bornholm island.   It, thus, includes the narrowest and shallowest sections of the Baltic Sea’s maritime routes.  It is already a challenge for larger ships to maneuver in the Baltic Sea.   In this environment, the multinational forces are training joint operations with 47 vessels, a submarine, seven aircraft and five helicopters.   With 1,300 troops, the Bundeswehr, alone, accounts for nearly half of the soldiers and thus the largest proportion of personnel in the exercise. German forces provide seven ships, the submarine and one of the seven aircraft.   In addition, mine clearance divers from the Naval Force Protection Battalion in Eckernförde are deployed and play a leading role in mine-warfare.   Ashore, German soldiers are active in the logistics command and provide specialists for electronic warfare operations.    This year, the multinational personnel and equipment are under the command of German Rear Admiral Stephan Haisch.(German Foreign Policy, 9/16)

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BANKING AFTER BREXIT

Brexit will reduce by one third the EU’s share of global capital markets and will shift relations within the EU in France’s favor, as was revealed in a recent study on the impact the UK’s departure will have on the Union’s financial sector.   Brexit will therefore reduce the EU’s share of global capital market activities to 14 percent – around one third the size of the US and roughly the same as China. France will become number one among the EU-27 – a bit ahead of Germany.   The shrinkage can also be attributed to the fact that the EU was unable to induce major banks and other financial institutions, on a large scale, to relocate from London onto the continent. Brussels has tried to use strict regulations, stipulating that financial transactions within the EU may only be conducted by legally independent entities within an EU country. However, the financial sector has limited its relocation onto the continent to only the bare essentials. The anticipated banking boom, for example, in Frankfurt, is not materializing.  (German Foreign Policy, 9/19)

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MIDEAST SLIDING INTO MAJOR WAR

The Middle East appears to be sliding into a war and it may even have already started. It is a new kind of war, a 21st century conflict for which there is no formal declaration of war, no clear fronts and a wide variety of battlefields.   There are attacks the provenance of which may never be known, and while some of the fighting is conventional in nature, much of it is not and involves drones in the air and viruses in cyberspace.

More than anything, it is a confusing war, in which nobody really has control, not even those who are ostensibly leading it .

(https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/usa-saudia-arabia-iran-a-new-conflict-in-the-middle-east-a-1287811.html)

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AMERICA WILL NEVER TOLERATE IRAN’S ANTI-SEMITIC HATE – TRUMP

At UN, Trump calls on Mideast nations to fully normalize ties with Israel.  Addressing world leaders, US president says sanctions against Iran will be tightened, not lifted, until it changes behavior and ends ‘fanatical quest’ for nukes.

Speaking before the United Nations General Assembly, the US president accused Tehran of trafficking in “monstrous anti-Semitism” and engaging in a “fanatical quest” to obtain nuclear weapons.   Trump said the rogue regime’s aggression had created newfound regional alliances to counter the Iranian threat. “Thankfully, there is a growing recognition in the wider Middle East that the countries of the region share common interest in battling extremism and unleashing economic opportunity,” Trump said.   “That is why it’s so important to have full normalized relations between Israel and its neighbors.”

In a highly anticipated address before the international community — as tensions with Iran intensified after it allegedly attacked two Saudi oil facilities — Trump insisted that he would maintain his “maximum pressure campaign” against Tehran.    . . . Iran, he said, was on a “fanatical quest for nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them.”   The world, Trump continued, “must never allow this to happen.”

. . . “For 40 years, the world has listened to Iran’s rulers as they lash out on everyone else for the problems they alone have created,” he said.   (https://www.timesofisrael.com/at-un-trump-calls-on-mideast-nations-to-fully-normalize-ties-with-)

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HOW HAMAS LEADERS FOOL PALESTINIANS

“Frustrated Palestinian youths are committing suicide because of poverty, while the sons of the leaders are holding birthday parties!” — Hussein Qatoush, on Facebook

The problem . . . is when your father is a senior terrorist leader who devotes himself to inciting against Israel and Jews and encouraging other young Palestinians to sacrifice their lives in the war against Israel.   Hamad, like the rest of the Hamas leaders, would never send his own son to attack soldiers at the border with Israel.

It is time for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to revolt against the leaders who are keeping them chained in poverty and sending them to their deaths.

It is also time for the international community to wake up to the fact that it is wealthy Hamas leaders, and not Israel, who are responsible for the humanitarian and economic disaster that is known as the Gaza Strip.   (Bassam Tawil, Gatestone, 9/25)

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THE GREAT WAR OF OUR TIME

“So how did our initial victory in Afghanistan – in only months – turn into the longest war in American history?   It happened because at some point our goal shifted from ensuring that al Qai’da would not again be able to use Afghanistan as a launching pad for attacks against the homeland to something else.   The mission changed to trying to permanently alter Afghan politics and society.   It was an impossible task to turn Afghanistan’s tribal society and culture into a liberal democracy.   It was an impossible task to convince the Taliban that it should operate inside the Afghan political system rather than outside of it.   Perhaps we should have walked away from Afghanistan after forcing al-Qa’ida from the country, and we would have told all Afghans, including the Taliban, ‘If you let al-Qa’ida return, so will we.”   (“The Great War of our time”, by Michael Morell, former Deputy CIA Director, 2015, page 74).

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TO THE POINT

  • If you’re tired of the usual entertainment provided by TV and even streaming, check out the continuing saga of Brexit, courtesy of Sky News (on “Watch Free” or on the web).  The parliamentary debates are entertaining, to say the least.
  • Surely, the investigation of Donald Trump over his Ukrainian call should be focused on Joe Biden.   His son is now being paid $50,000 a MONTH by a Ukrainian gas company in a job for which he’s not qualified.   When an investigation began looking into this by a Ukrainian prosecutor Biden brought pressure to bear to stop it, threatening an end to US aid.   Corruption, anyone?   (It’s even worse when you consider that the Democrats are supposed to be the party of the working man.)
  • Former French President Jacques Chirac died today.   He was the French leader who finally admitted French complicity in the Holocaust, that the French themselves put French Jews on trains taking them to concentration camps.
  • New South Wales has become the latest Australian state to liberalize abortion laws.   It doesn’t make any sense.   Australia needs more people.   Refugees and other immigrants threaten the Australian way of life.   Australians need to reproduce more.
  • Somebody has stolen the “Amigo” from our local Aldi.   An amigo is a self-driving vehicle with a shopping cart attached.   They can hardly drive it down the street.   What possible use can the thief have for this?   Meanwhile, customers with disabilities are struggling to get around as best they can.   Apparently, a replacement amigo costs about $2,000.

 

 

MALARIA, DEATH AND BABIES

    

We lost another friend this week.  She was 95.  A few days later, on the same day as her funeral, our youngest daughter gave birth to our tenth grandchild.   Grayson Gabriel, weighing in at 8 lbs 13 oz.   Because we are both sick, neither of us has seen him yet. (Diane has a head cold, which she could pass on to the baby.  A hospital is the last place you want to go when you’re sick!)

I’ve got malaria back again.

It often re-occurs at this time of the year when the weather is changing.  It’s also a problem when winter is moving into spring. These two periods of time coincide with the biblical holy days, which makes the problem very inconvenient.

Malaria remains the world’s number one killer.

The World Health Organization states:  “Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria.  In 2015, there were roughly 212 million malaria cases and an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths.”

It is not contagious. You can only get it when you are bitten by an infected mosquito, always, as it happens, a female.  So be sure to check the sex of the mosquito if you get bitten!

I used to have a “Far Side” cartoon I cut out and inserted into my Bible.  It showed one of Noah’s sons asking his father a question: “Should I kill the two mosquitoes now while we’re ahead?” If only . . .

Malaria and I go back forty years.

My wife, Diane, got it first when we moved to Ghana in 1978.  She spent the Feast of Tabernacles that year in a hotel room in Kumasi, very sick with a mysterious sickness, until a doctor identified it. It was our introduction to Africa’s major illness.  It’s not so long since West Africa was described as “the white man’s grave,” as half of all the whites who went there died within two years from the mosquito borne disease.   Modern drugs make it easier to handle now, but it really is best to avoid getting bitten, an impossibility really.   You can’t spend all day under a mosquito net.

A couple of years later, Diane ended up in a hospital in Accra with the same disease.  And I still vividly remember carrying our four-year-old son into a clinic in the nation’s capital, when he was in a really bad way. Even now, I don’t want to think about it.

On one occasion I was in Cameroon when I came down with malaria. I was in bed in a hotel room for days.   A Cameroonian we knew went to find an anti-malarial drug I requested, but the names in French are different.  It was here, too, that I first heard the comment that “when you get malaria, in the first 24 hours, you’re afraid you’re going to die; in the second 24 hours, you’re afraid you’re going to live!” There’s great deal of truth to this!  In that second 24 hours you just WANT to die.

A few years ago, we were in Zimbabwe and spent a few days at Victoria Falls, the most magnificent site in the world.   We took a “sundowner cruise” one evening.  Our tour guide pointed out the hippos (hippopotamus is Greek for “river horse”) and told us that “the hippo is the most dangerous animal in Africa” and added “except for the mosquito.”

Sometime later, I remember staying with friends in Kariba.  I wanted to go for a walk, but could not as I saw a hippo at the end of their driveway!

Almost thirty years after leaving Africa, I can say that I no longer have a fear of hippos; but I still don’t like mosquitoes!   In Michigan, the bigger problem is West Nile virus.  Mosquitoes are a problem everywhere.

I do have a little annoyance over malaria.   A couple of times I’ve had to go to the hospital for a shot.  But they never believe me when I say I have malaria.  They always want to put me through a series of tests, costing one thousand dollars or more.  Then they come and say, “You have malaria.”  “Well, I told you that when I arrived here four hours ago!  All I wanted was a shot of chloroquine.”

I now have a doctor who prescribes me an anti-malarial drug, which I can use anytime.  It saves me a lot of time (and money) in ER.

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DIVERSITY NOT A STRENGTH

Pat Buchanan has written an excellent article showing how diversity does not work anywhere else in the world, so why do we expect it to work here in the United States?

His article was inspired by Tucker Carlson who asked the same question on his TV show last week.

“Ethnic diversity, after all, tore apart our mighty Cold War rival, splintering the Soviet Union into 15 nations, three of which — Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia — have since split further along ethnic lines.

Russia had to fight two wars to hold onto Chechnya and prevent the diverse peoples of the North Caucasus from splitting off on ethnic grounds, as Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan had done.

Ethnic diversity then shattered Yugoslavia into seven separate nations.

And even as we proclaim diversity to be our greatest strength, nations everywhere are recoiling from it.” (“The Unpardonable heresy of Tucker Carlson,” PJB, 9/13).

Mr. Buchanan continues:  “The rise of populism and nationalism across Europe is a reaction to the new diversity represented by the Arab, Asian and African millions who have lately come, and the tens of millions desperate to enter.”

He points out that Japan has not encouraged diversity and does not have the ethnic conflicts that are afflicting other western nations.

Israel has passed a law that enshrines Jewish identity into the state itself; while China is taking active measures against Muslims in the country. Burma did the same and has been condemned for it.

Cleary, diversity doesn’t work and we will come to see that more clearly in the years ahead.

When Jesus Christ was asked by His disciples what would be the signs of His coming,   He replied: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:7).   The word “nation” is from the Greek “ethnos” and refers to ethnic groups; a kingdom is a political entity.

Expect more ethnic conflict in the coming years, including western nations.

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A GAY THOMAS?

THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE’ INTRODUCES INCLUSIVE GENDER-BALANCED, MULTICULTURAL CHARACTERS IN MAJOR REVAMP OF CHILDREN’S CLASSIC

–headline in Huffington Post 9/1/18

THREE SUMMITS COULD LEAD TO SIGNIFICANT CHANGES

The G7 met today in Quebec; on Tuesday Mr. Trump meets with the North Korean leader; a month from now, the NATO summit will be held in Brussels.   Lots of frequent flyer miles and hotel rewards points for members of the Trump Administration.   But significant changes could also result from all three.   The following are thoughts on each of the summits.

It’s only a month until the next NATO summit in Brussels. President Trump will be there along with Canadian and European leaders.   Mr. Trump has fired the first shots in a trade war with American allies. It’s going to be a big test for the alliance, which turns 70 next year.

Many Americans feel that the US has not had a fair deal on trade.   They also feel that European countries have sponged off America by letting the US pick up the tab for the defense of Europe.

What is often not appreciated is that it is the alliances with 53 countries around the globe that makes the US the world’s number one superpower.   If all the countries the US is allied to suddenly ended their alliance, the United States would be greatly diminished as a global power.   The escalating trade war could easily take the world in this direction.   It’s also forgotten that NATO members came to America’s aid after 9-11, the only time Clause IV of the NATO treaty has been invoked.   The US needs Europe just as much as Europe needs America.

If Mr. Trump goes to NATO headquarters lecturing the Europeans, the alliance could suffer irreparable damage.

It’s true that not every European country contributes the required 2% of GNP to defense costs.   It is also true that some countries have huge trade imbalances with the US.   These need to be dealt with, but for the US to remain the #1 superpower at the head of alliances with 53 nations, disputes need to be handled carefully.

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QUEBEC SUMMIT

While the US is focused on Tuesday’s summit between President Trump and the North Korean leader, both the NATO summit and today’s G7 summit in Quebec, are of potentially greater significance.

For 44 years, this annual meeting of the seven most powerful democracies in the world, has helped keep the planet on an even keel.   Clearly, President Trump doesn’t have much time for the group, both literally (he’s leaving early) and figuratively.   The US leader will not be present for the discussion on trade.

The US has made it clear it wants Russia back in the group, though its economy does not warrant it and it’s hardly a democracy; also, it’s still occupying parts of the Ukraine, the reason it was thrown out of the G8 a few years ago.

Coming up, in a month, is the NATO summit in Brussels.   The trade dispute could affect the future of the 70-year-old alliance, which has arguably kept the peace for the western world since 1949.

If NATO should fall apart, a major realignment of nations will take place.   The end result could see the United States greatly diminished as a global power.

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SINGAPORE SUMMIT — THE MOUSE THAT ROARED

One month before the NATO summit, there’s another summit in Singapore, between the US and North Korea.

North Korea is not a major player on the world stage.   It’s economy is infinitesimally small.

The only reason to take any notice of the country is that it may have nuclear weapons.

A secondary reason is that the US has 28,000 troops based in South Korea.   An end to hostilities with the North could free up most of these troops to return home or be sent elsewhere.

The whole scenario reminds me of an old Peter Sellers movie, “The Mouse that roared,”   The movie is 60 years old, but well worth watching it if you get the opportunity.

It tells the fictional story of the fictional Duchy of Grand Fenwick. The “country” is broke, but the prime minister comes up with a solution to their financial problems.   Declare war on the United States!   Every country that has done so in recent times ends up receiving a great deal of US financial aid and private investment, solving all its financial problems.

Things did not go according to plan.  Grand Fenwick’s soldiers captured a nuclear device, forcing the US to surrender to avoid its own destruction.

I wonder if the North Korean dictator saw the movie recently on TCM?

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UK CUT OFF FROM EUROPEAN DEFENSE

“BRITAIN may have saved Europe from herself in two world wars in the 20th century but today Brussels politicians effectively said the UK had no place in the future defense of the continent and prepared to KICK OUT key military staff. EU chiefs have told UK military staff that they will not have their secondments to Brussels automatically renewed after Brexit – effectively sticking two fingers up to British overtures towards a common and collaborative military and defense solution for Europe.”   So began an article in today’s British Daily Express.

With Britain leaving the European Union a few months from now, it’s becoming clear that other countries in the 27- member Union do not want Britain involved in European defense.   The British had hoped that defense ties would continue, and that the UK would play an important role in the new European Defense Force.

We can see clearly the possibility that the two main Anglo-Saxon powers (the US and the UK) could soon be separated from the rest of the western world. 

It’s also the case that, right now, they are not getting along very well with each other.   Mrs. May is dismayed that President Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal; and also at Trump’s tariff’s on the Europeans.

It’s also the case that the separation of the Anglo-Saxon nations fits very well into prophesied end-time events.

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From Deutsche Welle

Opinion:   The US is fueling European divisions

The new US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, has jumped directly into European politics and ignited a scandal. Outrage at this unprecedented behavior is the wrong answer, writes Deutsche Welle Editor-in-Chief, Ines Pohl. / 4 June 2018

Germany is outraged.   Only hours after right-wing media outlet Breitbart released an interview with the new US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, some are calling for his expulsion.   In it, the Donald Trump appointee expressed his desire to empower conservative, anti-establishment movements in Europe.   Many of his talking points would have roused applause from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party:   the passages referencing a silent majority, the welfare of the average worker, as well as those criticizing Germany’s current refugee policies and describing an out of touch political elite.   It isn’t the first time that Grenell has so explicitly waded into internal German affairs.   Shortly following his appointment, he demanded that German businesses halt trade with Tehran in reaction to the trans-Atlantic dispute over the Iran nuclear deal.

. . . Grenell, like his boss, is exploiting fears to advance his agenda.  He is putting pressure on the weaknesses of the European system to advance a new order — one that weakens European unity primarily to benefit the United States.

It is unheard of that an ambassador would so explicitly interfere with the internal affairs of his host country . . . 

(http://www.dw.com/en/opinion-the-us-is-fueling-european-divisions/a-44071929)

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IS ISLAM INHERENTLY VIOLENT?

Does Islam’s canon foment jihadi violence?   Yes.   Islam is premised on (1) the superiority of Islam, (2) the need to spread its message, and (3) the legitimacy of force to do so.   These fundamentals of faith have been apparent from Muhammad’s time to the present, though not everywhere and not at all times.

(Islamism’s war on the West, Daniel Pipes interview, 6/5) (Mr. Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum, an historian, writer and commentator.)

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ROYAL WEDDING PROMPTS QUESTION

The following comment was posted on my blog after the recent royal wedding.

“I keep waiting for some minister to condemn Prince Harry’s wedding as adultery. Isn’t that what Jesus would call it, based on Matthew 5:32?”

“whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. … and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” 

My response: In 1936 King Edward VIII chose to give up the throne so that he could marry an American divorcee. He could not marry her and remain as King.  Over eighty years later, Prince Harry was allowed to marry Meghan Markle.   The reason for the different decision is that the Church of England, of which the Queen is titular head, changed its position on divorce 15 years ago.   The change also enabled Prince Charles to marry Camilla Parker-Bowles, who was a divorcee.   The position of the Church of England is not dissimilar to the CoGs’ – basically, you can repent of (almost) anything, including a bad marriage.

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Ethiopia–5 June 2018

Crocodile kills pastor as he baptizes followers on lake in Ethiopia

Reptile reportedly leapt from the water and grabbed Pastor Docho Eshete as he moved on to the second person in a mass baptism of 80 followers.

“He baptized the first person and he passed on to another one,” local resident Ketema Kairo told the BBC.

“All of a sudden, a crocodile jumped out of the lake and grabbed the pastor.”

The crocodile is understood to have escaped.  Lake Abaya, Ethiopia’s second largest lake, is said to be beautiful, but the Lonely Planet travel guide warns:   “It has a large population of crocodiles, which are said to be aggressive towards people and animals because the lake has few fish, their preferred food.”

It is likely that the reptile that killed Pastor Docho was a Nile crocodile.  Some Nile crocodiles can grow to be up to six meters (20ft) long while weighing as much as 1,000kg (1 ton), and some estimates suggest the species is responsible for more than 300 attacks on humans in Africa every year.

(https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/crocodile-kills-pastor-ethiopia-baptism-lake-abaya-docho-eshete-arba-minch-fatal-croc-attack-nile-a8384531.html)

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Please note: Recently, a comment posted on my blog questioned the president’s mental state, by using a derogatory and offensive term.

Please remember this is a Christian blog.   Intelligent comments and debate are always welcome, but we should keep in mind the following scriptures:

I Peter 2:17 “Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”

Additionally, II Peter 2:10 speaks of those who “despise government” and “are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries.”  

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.

 

 

13 Hours

13 Hours

Our son took me to see “13 Hours” on Sunday morning.   The movie recounts the events of September 11, 2012, when the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, came under attack.   The US Ambassador to Libya was killed in the attack along with a few others.   The then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has been blamed for the deaths.   Certainly the US State Department was slow to react.

There is a deeper, more troubling question here – what is the US doing in Benghazi?   Chris Stevens, the Ambassador, said it was to support those who want democracy.   Really?   There’s little evidence in Libya, or elsewhere in the Middle East, that anybody wants democracy.   If they do, they want to use democracy to get power, after which there will be no more democracy!

BBC World News last night led with a disturbing report on Benghazi, a city that has been almost completely destroyed by factional fighting.

It’s also about to fall to ISIS – the same ISIS we’ve been told is on the run!

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Europe is still not ready to face the twin challenges of Islamic terrorism and the mostly Islamic invasion of the continent, taking place through the migrant crisis.

Denmark and Sweden have both been in the news this week.   Denmark’s parliament has passed legislation that will confiscate the assets of migrants with more than $1,400 in cash or valuables.   This controversial decision actually brings migrants into line with Danish citizens, who cannot receive government help if they have more than the equivalent of $1,400.   The decision is likely to deter migrants, which was likely the intent behind it.

Sweden has taken in more refugees than any other country, proportionate to its population.   Last year, more than 163,000 arrived in the Scandinavian country, following the announced decision that nobody from Syria would be turned away.   Now, the government says that up to 80,000 (almost half) will not qualify to stay and will be deported.   The government had to do something following a dramatic increase in the number of rapes and the murder of a 22-year-old female volunteer by a 15-year-old “refugee” at an asylum center.   Concern was expressed by one official at how traumatized the boy must have been!   (Yes, really.)   Sweden’s anti-immigrant right-wing party, the Sweden Democrats, unsurprisingly is gaining ground in the polls.

Germany took in more refugees than anybody and has also seen a marked increase in the number of rapes.   There are also increased fears of terrorist attacks as ISIS encouraged recruits to accompany refugees en route to Europe.

The European Union is failing to deal with the migrant crisis, which is threatening to bring an end to the Schengen Agreement, one of the EU’s proudest achievements. Schengen brought about the free movement of peoples throughout Europe, an arrangement now in danger of collapsing.

These are not the only problems facing Europe.   Note the following comment, from an article by Charles Moore, former editor of the Daily Telegraph:

“When a real crisis arises, the EU cannot act.   It failed in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s and finally had to let the Americans come to the rescue.  Today, some say the EU is more vital than ever, because of Russian adventurism.   But the miseries of Ukraine suggest that the EU cannot successfully fill the vacuum created by President Obama’s abandonment of American strength.”  (Charles Moore, DT  ‘European Civilization is in danger of succumbing to the EU empire’.)

Americans should take note of the comment on the Obama Administration.   “The abandonment of American strength” is a good way to put it.   The consequences of his neglect can be seen in the Middle East and, increasingly, in other parts of the world.

There may only be one year left of the Obama Administration, but will things be any better afterwards?   Will a new president be different?   Some candidates threaten to bomb their way to victory in the Middle East, failing to learn the lessons of the past.   Most, maybe all, are simply clueless when it comes to understanding that part of the world.

Once again, the question is:   what are we doing there?

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Here’s a thought:

There is irony in the fact . . . that when a suicide bomber blows himself up, his body parts are impregnated with gelatine and glycerine from the explosive.   Both gelatine and glycerine are manufactured from pigs – ergo, they will never be accepted by Allah. (Source unknown)

 

RUSSIAN PLANE CRASH – THE BIGGER PICTURE

Russian plane crash

Sunday, November 1st, was the first anniversary of Ansar Bait Al-Maqdis pledging allegiance to ISIS leader Al-Baghdadi, thereby becoming the Sinai chapter of ISIS.

They are now claiming that, to celebrate their allegiance and commitment to the terror state, they brought down the Russian flight that crashed Sunday in the Egyptian desert, killing everyone on board.   They have not given any proof that they did this – they say they will do so when they see fit – but their claim has been taken seriously by a number of governments and airlines who will no longer fly over the Sinai desert.   The United Kingdom is the latest country to announce today a total ban on flights.

The flight was cruising at 31,000 feet when it fell apart, after two bright flashes that were picked up by satellite.   It is believed that ISIS does not have the capability to launch a missile that can hit at that altitude, so the most likely explanation is that there was a bomb on board.   It is even possible that this was the work of a suicide bomber.

It is also possible that ISIS does now have the capability to launch missiles that can hit a plane at 31,000 feet.   If this turns out to be true, then we have just entered a new phase in the never-ending War on Terror, which the West shows no sign of winning.

The crash of the Russian flight is a terrible tragedy as all such crashes are.   A little over a year ago, Russians themselves brought down a Malaysian Airlines flight over Ukraine, killing all on board, including many women and children.   Politics played a big role in the aftermath of that crash – nobody has yet accepted responsibility.   Politics is again playing a role in the Sinai.

The Egyptians do not want to acknowledge the possibility of terrorism for fear it will drive tourists away.   Tourist numbers are still down by a third following the Arab Spring and subsequent events.  They don’t want the numbers to go down even further.   On the other hand, the Russians want it to be terrorism – they don’t want people to stop flying on their airlines because of technical worries.   Russian airlines already have a bad flying record and reputation.

ISIS claimed responsibility almost immediately.   In the absence of a free press, the Russians, the Egyptians and ISIS could all be lying. The truth may never come out.

In the West, where we supposedly have a free press, there is also a lot of lying going on.   Or perhaps it’s best just to describe is as “denial” or simply an inability to connect the dots.

For when it comes to the European migrant crisis, ISIS and the myriad conflicts in the Middle East, little historical context is given.

The fact is that the Middle East has been in turmoil since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War One.   That’s almost a century ago.   The ripple effects of imperial collapse are still with us, getting worse by the day.

There is also a deeper relevance with the Ottoman Empire.   Over the course of centuries, the Ottomans tried to conquer Europe.   The nations of central Europe resisted them, but not always successfully – the Ottomans ended up incorporating vast territories in Europe into their empire.  The descendants of those subjugated Europeans are the ones now resisting the massive influx of Muslims from the former Ottoman Empire, which included Syria and Iraq.  They see clearly the threat from the Islamic world, which many in the West fail to see.

Even before the Ottoman Empire, Islamic forces tried to conquer Europe.   It began as early as the eighth century, just after the founding of the new religion. Mohammed died in 632.   Exactly one hundred years later, the French stopped the Arab advance on Paris at the Battle of Poitiers.   If they had lost, everybody reading this article today would be a Moslem!   The history of the world would have been very different.

We are now caught up in another advance of Islam into the Western world.   It may turn out to be the prelude to the prophesied “push” by the King of the South against the King of the North that we read about in Daniel, chapter 11.   Certainly, Islam right now is pushing against the Western world, which is led by compromisers who are constantly yielding to that push, allowing in hundreds of thousands of Muslims who are changing the composition of western countries.

A backlash has started. In turn, this could lead to a major clash with the Islamic world.   There are reports today of another PEGIDA demonstration in Dresden, Germany, where over 8,000 people marched through the streets protesting against Islamization.  They were carrying crosses, to show their allegiance to Europe’s traditional religion, as against the encroachment of the new.   At a football game in Poland on Sunday, crowds unfurled a huge banner that showed hordes of ISIS invaders threatening Europe and crusaders ready to resist them.

Without a doubt, what is taking place now is a major development in history.   Next year could turn out to be another of those axial years that change everything.   In 1848, almost every country in Europe was convulsed by revolution with democracy the end result.   In 1918 disillusionment with kings led to revolutions at the end of World War One.   In 1989 communists were overthrown throughout Eastern Europe.   There is now a growing disillusionment with democracy, as the governments of Western Europe do nothing about the invasion that threatens everybody’s way of life.   Recent elections across the continent show a significant turn to the political Right.   Some countries could see violence bringing about a further turn to the right as history repeats itself.

ISIS is not the only threat from the Islamic world.   All Moslems see themselves as expanding the Islamic ummah, the community of believers.   Filled with zeal for their faith, this is only natural.   When the West had the upper hand, Christian missionaries went all over the world and were instrumental in converting millions to their faith. In the last few decades, Christians have been on the run, mostly from persecution in Islamic lands.

The followers of Mohammed are well on the way to being numerically greater than the followers of Jesus Christ.

What we are witnessing now is a tectonic shift in international relations.   The West shows every indication of giving in, just as the Western Roman Empire did in Islam’s early years.

FINANCIAL CHAOS AROUND THE WORLD

Euro crisis

Wednesday was quite a day on financial markets around the globe.

China’s stock market continued to lose considerable value, down about a third in three weeks.   Uncertainty over the future of Greece within the euro rocked European stock exchanges. And a technical glitch caused problems on the New York Stork Exchange, the world’s biggest.

The latter was resolved before the closing bell.   Greece should be resolved by the weekend.   China, the number two economic power, poses the greatest threat to the world’s economy.   There are increasing fears that the Chinese stock markets are one big giant ponzi scheme, with nothing tangible to support them.

Late Thursday Greece handed over proposals to its European partners that will, hopefully, end the crisis affecting the beleaguered country.

Greece was a member of the euro from the very beginning, using the new European banknotes and coinage from day one on January 1st, 2002.   Today, the euro is used by nineteen European countries. Euro notes are used daily by more people than the US dollar.  The two currencies are the two most important currencies in the world and are used as payment for most international trading.

When Greece joined the euro, it was suddenly able to borrow vast amounts of money, which it did. It was not all used wisely.   Following the crash of 2008, the country soon found itself unable to repay its loans. The dream currency had become a nightmare for the Greek people. Austerity was forced on the country by European bankers, making life very difficult for the average citizen.   Austerity led the country into a downward spiral, which has recently been speeding up.

In January, the left-wing Syriza party won the election, promising an end to austerity.    However, European bankers, anxious to get their money back, want to impose greater austerity as a condition for offering Greece more help.   Without help, Greece will not be able to stay in the euro.

Without a doubt, Greek governments have been reckless.   Government employees can retire at 48 on generous pensions. Corruption is rife, as also is tax avoidance.

Germany is owed 68 billion euros by Greece, France 65 billion (add 10% to get the US dollar equivalent).   Other countries have loaned lesser amounts.   Total Greek debt amounts to 323 billion euros.   Greece is asking for a further bailout of 53.5 billion.

Although there is much talk of the Greek crisis, in a sense this is not about Greece, so much as Germany.   Germany’s conservative government is taking a hard line, refusing to cancel debt or extend further loans.   The Germans want their money back, on time.   Germany’s stance is setting a precedent that will no doubt be repeated if any other country in the eurozone gets into trouble.   Many have pointed out that when Germany was suffering economically after World War II, European finance ministers, including the Greek finance minister, generously cut Germany’s debt by 50%.   If Germany would reciprocate now, Greece would be fine.

The Greek people voted in a referendum a few days ago, rejecting the austerity demands placed on them by Germany and others. However, they still want to remain in the eurozone, which is an apparent contradiction.   If they leave the eurozone, they could restore their former currency, the drachma, but this would cut them off from many of the benefits of the eurozone.   Business loans and mortgages in euros would have to be paid back in ever depreciating drachmas, leading to many foreclosures.  Importers would have to pay upfront in euros, which may be hard to get if Greece leaves the eurozone.

Nobody wants a “Grexit” (a Greek exit from the euro), but it may not be possible to avoid it if the Greeks are unwilling to make the necessary structural changes to keep them in the euro.

This crisis is not the only crisis facing Europe at this time.   The continent is having to work through a number of challenges all at once.

The migrant crisis is the second biggest issue confronting the European Union.   So many people are fleeing from the Middle East and Africa into Europe that social cohesion is becoming a serious issue.   One consequence of this massive movement of people is the rise of right-wing parties opposed to immigration.

Ukraine is a third challenge for Europe.   Russia’s invasion of parts of Ukraine threatens the peace of Europe.

The possibility of Britain leaving the EU comes in at number four.

There’s even a fifth challenge, and that’s the relationship between European countries and the United States.   France and Germany are both upset over the American NSA spying on them and their leaders, even though it’s quite likely they are doing the same to America.

Depending on how each of these issues is resolved, Europe could be very different in the near future.