Tag Archives: Ursula von der Leyen

CORONA DEVELOPMENTS

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health Anthony Fauci, left, and White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, attend President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force briefing in the Brady press briefing room of the White House, Wednesday, March 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

“In a stroke, and without a single constitutional shot fired, the country was given over to two unelected doctors named Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, the Democrats suddenly discovered the virtues of federalism, and the economy slammed into the brick wall of the CCP virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus,  as governors across the country trashed the Constitution and began ordering their residents around like serfs.”  (“The Rule of doctors threatens Trump’s reelection,” Michael Walsh, Epoch Times, May 7-13)

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“In California’s Alameda Country, a Chinese American man was screamed at while moving his lawn.   The local prosecutor said the man was told to get out of America.

“In neighboring Santa Clara County, a Vietnamese couple were threatened in a grocery store.  Officials said the man turned his hand into the shape of a gun.

“In New York City, people of Asian descent were assaulted, kicked, pushed and accosted on subway trains.

“The theme:   This virus is your fault.”   (“Hate crimes and biases against Asians on rise,” Kristine Phillips, USA Today, 5/21/2020)

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Coronavirus may kill the strangest beast of all — Donald Trump’s re-election prospects.   And yet . . . and yet …

Right now the virus is proving particularly deadly for the prospects of populists and authoritarians.  Trump is no authoritarian but he is the world’s No 1 populist.

His fellow populists look pretty messy.  Jair Bolsonaro, President of Brazil, makes Trump look a model of dull consistency, a desiccated calculating machine, with his wild and crazy talk.   Coronavirus, the Brazilian says, is only “the little flu.”   One by one his senior cabinet
ministers resign or get the sack as the President opposes his own government’s health regulations.

But local and provincial authorities widely ignore their President. The coronavirus caseload is nonetheless exploding in Brazil.   The death rate is still relatively modest.

Trump’s closest political friend internationally, Britain’s Boris Johnson, also leads an ineffective government response.   Johnson won immense personal sympathy and respect for the characteristically cheerful, generous way he endured his near-death virus episode.

But Britain has one of the worst COVID-19 death rates in the world. Johnson’s government responded too late and especially didn’t cut down travel from China.   It failed to take the warnings seriously in January and February and didn’t increase its stockpiles of personal
protective equipment for healthcare workers.   Nor did it sufficiently increase its beds.  (Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 5/16/2020)

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EU PLANS FOR RECOVERY

The European Commission on Wednesday proposed a €750 billion ($821 billion) aid package to help Europe’s economic recovery from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed over 350,000 people globally.

In a statement on its website, the EU governing body proposed the creation of a new recovery instrument, dubbed Next Generation EU, to address the economic damage caused by the outbreak.

“The recovery plan turns the immense challenge we face into an opportunity, not only by supporting the recovery but also by investing in our future: the European Green Deal and digitalization will boost jobs and growth, the resilience of our societies and the health of our environment,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in the statement.

“This is Europe’s moment.   Our willingness to act must live up to the challenges we are all facing. With Next Generation EU we are providing an ambitious answer.”

Such an aid package requires all 27 member states to agree for the plan to take effect.   (DW News, 5/27/2020)

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UK EPIDEMIC OF GROOMING

“Almost 19,000 children have been sexually groomed in England in the past year, according to official figures that have prompted warnings of an ‘epidemic.’  Campaigners say the true figure is far higher. . . ” — The Independent, December 2019.

“The government’s repeated failure to acknowledge the role of racism and religious bigotry in grooming gang crime has led to inadequate investigation, protection and prosecution,” one survivor, who wanted to remain anonymous, told The Independent in December 2019.   (Judith Bergman, Gatestone, 5/16/2020)

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CIVILIZATIONISTS TRYING TO SAVE WESTERN CIV

Civilizationists’ top concern is not battling climate change, building the European Union, or staving off Russian and Chinese aggression; rather, they focus on preserving Europe’s historic civilization of the past two millennia.   They worry about Europe becoming an extension of the Middle East or Africa.

That anxiety contains four elements:   demography, immigration, multiculturalism, and Islamization (or DIMI, recalling the Arabic word dhimmi, the status of Jews and Christians who submit to the rule of Muslims).

Civilizationists . . . are already a powerful force, having advanced from a marginal position twenty years ago to a central role in many countries. They are the key opposition force in Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden. They have been or are part of the government in Austria, Estonia, Italy, Norway, and Switzerland. They govern in a coalition in Poland and on their own in Hungary.(Daniel Pipes, Gatestone, 4/20/2020)

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ARE THE GERMANS EDGING CLOSER TO TRUE FISCAL UNION?

For the second time in the last three years, France and Germany have teamed up on an ambitious plan to rescue Europe—but this time their big road map looks likely to actually go someplace.  The Franco-German declaration this week, “A French-German Initiative for European Recovery From the Coronavirus Crisis,” comes as the European Union finds itself immersed in a political and economic crisis in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and just a week before the European Commission is set to unveil its own blueprint for recovery.

The headline part of the Franco-German plan is a bold, 500 billion-euro fund (about $550 billion) to help out ailing economies that are struggling to rebuild after the economic carnage from months of near-total shutdowns. The big question is whether naysayers like Austria and the Netherlands, which have long opposed picking up the tab for what they see as profligate Southern Europeans, will be persuaded to go along with such an ambitious, pan-European rescue.

And an even bigger question is whether the powerful endorsement of Germany, along with France, could edge the EU closer to the sort of fiscal integration that the more frugal Northern European countries, led by Berlin, have resisted in the past.   The Franco-German proposal for the European Commission to issue debt and then give grants where needed isn’t quite the straight-up debt-sharing that southern countries had asked for, dubbed “coronabonds” – but it’s a step in that direction, marking a turnabout for Germany.  And proposing to offer troubled regions grants rather than loans is a way to make the recovery less painful – another important departure that brings Europe a little bit closer to fiscal transfers, another taboo subject.

“You can call it what you want, but it’s large-scale mutualized debt, it’s a different form of coronabonds,” said J.H.H. Weiler, an expert on the European Union at New York University Law School.   “It crosses a certain line.”     (Keith Johnson, Foreign Policy, 5/20/2020)

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HOME TOWN HOPE

It’s hard to think of a place more deserving of a post-Brexit boom than Grimsby.   In the 1950s it had the largest trawler fleet in the world, brought in hundreds of tonnes of cod a day, and you could cross its harbour by walking over ships in the dock.   But the Cod Wars were lost and the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy began to bite. Now Grimsby is one of the most deprived areas in the country, and its long road down to the docks is littered with shuttered shops.

Simply put, it’s exactly the kind of place the Tories are hoping to ‘level up’ and win over before the next election.  In 2016, along with Hull and much of the rest of the Humber, it voted to leave the EU and it elected its first Tory MP in 75 years in December.   (Spectator, 3/14/2020)

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NEW ZEALAND HEADING FOR ECONOMIC CRISIS

No national leader has been as feted as Jacinda Ardern during this pandemic.  Young and progressive, New Zealand’s Prime Minister was popular before the crisis.   Since she imposed the favored pandemic solution of the left — a hard lockdown, shutting practically all business and no socializing with anyone outside your home — her star has only risen.

“Laughing in the face of seismic shakes, she has calmly steered her country in the face of a massacre, an eruption and a pandemic,”   The Guardian cooed on Tuesday.   Steering it into an economic abyss, perhaps.

New Zealand’s economy is in strife.  Without major change, our constitutional cousin is in decline.  Its public finances are in tatters, its biggest export, tourism, has been obliterated — Air New Zealand announced 4000 job losses this week — and New Zealand police now can enter people’s homes without a warrant.

“New Zealand is going backwards, falling behind the vast ­majority of our OECD partners in virtually every social and economic measure that matters,” said Roger Douglas, a former New Zealand Labour treasurer and the famed architect of Rogernomics.

New Zealand ranks fourth last in the OECD for labor productivity growth, and last for multi-factor productivity growth, according to economist Michael Reddell, based on OECD data. Health and education are gobbling up more of the budget as the population ages, with less and less to show for it.

The country’s Massey University reckons economic activity will tank 16 per cent in the second quarter, while government forecasts pencil in a 4.6 per cent decline this year ahead of an 8.2 per cent rebound in 2022.

“I doubt the economy will bounce back as the government hopes; and the Treasury forecasts, as bad as they are, will prove optimistic,” former NZ Treasury secretary Graham Scott said.

In one year, New Zealand has blown 30 years of hard-fought ­fiscal rectitude. Its public debt will explode from the equivalent of 19 per cent of gross domestic product last year to 54 per cent by 2022, on the government’s own figures.

“The real problem with the Ardern government is they have no idea whatsoever apart from how to throw money at things,” Douglas told The Australian.  The targeted “investment” approach to welfare pioneered when previous prime minister Bill English was treasurer has been junked in favor of open slather.   “Our $12bn wage subsidy, for instance; about a third was a ­donation to people who don’t need it,” he said, explaining how well-off lawyers and accountants had obtained the payments.

New Zealand’s international investment position was negative $171bn at the end of last year, more than half its GDP.   “To keep international investors’ trust, we must remain squeaky clean in our fundamental economic institutions,” New Zealand Initiative chief executive Oliver Hartwich said.   “Even Mexico, Nigeria and Venezuela are not as indebted to the rest of the world as New Zealand.”

(“Flightless economy to land with a thud,” Adam Creighton, The Australian, 5/27,2020)

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US ALTERS STATUS OF HONG KONG

WASHINGTON—The State Department has officially determined that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Wednesday that holds implications for the future of economic ties and could lead to sanctions against China.

The State Department is required by the Hong Kong Policy Act to assess the autonomy of the territory from China.     It certified to Congress on Thursday that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous.

“This decision gives me no pleasure. But sound policy-making requires a recognition of reality,” Mr. Pompeo said in the statement. “It is now clear that China is modeling Hong Kong after itself.”

U.S. endorsement of Hong Kong’s special status has served as a seal of approval of the city’s role as a global financial center with Western-style rule of law.   The new assessment is likely to diminish confidence among U.S. and other foreign businesses in Hong Kong.

Among the practical outcomes of the special status, the U.S. has permitted exports of advanced technology equipment to Hong Kong that isn’t allowed to be sold elsewhere in China.  It also has provided U.S. support for Hong Kong’s separate representation on global bodies from the World Health Organization to the Asian Development Bank.

(“US officially declares that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous,” Jessica Donati, Wall Street Journal, 5/27/2020)

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Five Eyes is the nickname of the intelligence services of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.  These five countries share their intelligence.   The EU’s new intelligence service will rival Five Eyes.

FIVE EYES RIVAL

A DANE, A Swede, a German and a Dutchman walk into a bar.  It is 1979 and spooks from the four countries are conferring in Munich over dark and malty lagers.   For years, they had co-operated in the business of signals intelligence, or SIGINT – intercepting  messages and cracking codes – and wanted a name for their budding spy pact. “They looked at their glasses, filled with Doppelbock beer of the local brand Maximator,” writes Bart Jacobs, a Dutch computer-science professor, “and reached a decision.”

In a paper published last month, Mr. Jacobs publicly revealed the existence of the Maximator alliance for the first time, to the considerable irritation of those who had kept it under wraps for decades.   The group was formed in 1976, when Denmark joined forces with Germany and Sweden to intercept and decipher messages sent by satellites, a burgeoning method of communication. The Netherlands joined two years later, bringing its intercept stations in the Caribbean to the table, and France in 1985.   The group is alive and well today.   (The Economist, 5/27/2020)

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OBAMAGATE TREASON

Perhaps the most troubling – and dangerous – aspect of the current political conversation is the unwillingness of virtually every elected official and every media pundit to confront what “Obamagate” is obviously about, which is treason.   Specifically, treason committed by the Obama White House in attempting to block and then overthrow the Trump presidency.   Obamagate is about the failed attempt by President Obama and his appointees to use government intelligence agencies to spy on the Trump campaign and White House, to concoct a phony accusation of collusion with Russia against the president and then to obstruct his administration and overthrow him.  (David Horowitz, Frontpage, 5/19/2020)

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TO THE POINT

  • Mike Pompeo, America’s secretary of state, declared that Hong Kong is no longer meaningfully autonomous from China.   The territory currently enjoys special trading status with America—it may soon face sanctions instead, which would threaten its position as Asia’s main financial hub.   The move comes as China is set to impose new national-security laws on the territory (see main stories).   Yesterday hundreds of Hong Kongers were arrested as they protested against a bill that would ban insult to China’s national anthem.  (The Economist, 5/28/2020)
  • The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, proposed a new €750bn ($825bn) fund to help European economies recover from the pandemic.   Together with an earlier rescue package and its €1.1trn budget for 2021-27, the commission will have €2.4trn at its disposal, she said. Some EU member-states welcomed the proposal, but the more frugal, such as the Netherlands, sounded relatively cautious.  (The Economist, 5/28/2020)
  • The number of coronavirus deaths in America surpassed 100,000, by far the highest number recorded by any single country (though not the worst on a cases-per-person basis).  The dreaded milestone was reached even as many of the states have begun to ease their lockdowns, prompting fears that the overall rate of infection will soon accelerate again.  (The Economist, 5/28/2020)

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AFTERTHOUGHT

The murder of a nine-year-old autistic boy by his mother less than a week ago is particularly disturbing.

It has become commonplace for children to be killed by one parent or the other, for various reasons.  But this boy was very vulnerable as he was non-verbal.

After initially trying to drown him, the boy was able to run to some passing adults.  But he could not say what he had been through.  As soon as they were gone, she succeeded on a second attempt, taking his life.   The last few moments of the boy’s life must have been terrifying.

We have an 8-year-old grandson who is autistic.   He’s a really good-natured boy and gives us very little trouble (unlike one or two of his brothers!).

It can be difficult raising a special needs child.  Perhaps the coronavirus has made it more challenging for some.   But autistic children have the same potential as others in our society.  Verbal or non-verbal there are jobs that they can do, stores that will give them a job knowing they have “special needs.”

What should the punishment be in this case?

The Bible tells us to do no murder (Exodus 20:13).   When murder was committed, the death penalty was enforced.   It also says that the sentence should be carried out speedily.   (Ezra 7:26)

Something must be done to help our children.   This is even more the case when those children are mentally handicapped in some way.   No sympathy should be given this mother.

One question:   where was the father in all of this?

MR     

CCP BIGGEST VIRUS OF ALL

(Mike Thompson copyright 2020, USA Today)

“The Chinese Communist Party “is the biggest and most serious virus of all . . .   The CCP represses and manipulates information to strengthen its hold on power.  It is time to recognize the threat the Chinese Communist Party poses to all humanity.” — Chen Guangcheng, blind Chinese dissident, now a refugee in the US.  (Asia news April 27, 2020)

Bloomberg News is said to censor articles that might anger China and expose Xi’s personal wealth. And the European Union just softened criticism of China in a report on disinformation about the pandemic… It looks as though free thought is more valued among China’s daring dissidents than in many corners of the West.

To paraphrase Leon Trotsky: You may not be interested in China, but China is interested in you.    (Gatestone, 5/17/2020)

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EU UNHAPPY WITH CHINA

The Western Balkan states, including Serbia, should publicly acknowledge the EU’s support in combating the Covid-19 pandemic, the EU demands in the final declaration at its Zagreb Western Balkan Summit last Wednesday. The summit had been preceded by harsh criticism of Chinese aid deliveries to Serbia, which have aroused strong resentment in Berlin and Brussels.    EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Josep Borrell accused Beijing of waging “a struggle for influence” with its “politics of generosity.”   For years, Germany and the EU have been trying to counter the growing influence of other powers in the Southeastern European non-EU countries.   This pertains to the Turkish, Russian and Chinese cultural and military policies and their economic activities.   The EU dominance over the Western Balkan countries’ economy has only drained these countries of billions of euros and rendered their recovery impossible.   This is why they are turning also to China.  (German Foreign Policy 5/18/2020)

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UK:   Sunak warns of ‘severe recession’ and ‘more hardship’

Rishi Sunak (Britain’s Finance Minister) has forecast that Britain is facing a “severe recession, the likes of which we haven’t seen” and warned that it is “not obvious there will be an immediate bounceback.”   Following a sharp rise in unemployment benefit claims, the chancellor told a Lords committee that there is “no doubt there will be more hardship to come.”  (The Economist, 5/20/2020)

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WHO INVESTIGATION

Member-states of the World Health Organization unanimously agreed to set up an independent inquiry into the covid-19 pandemic. The “impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation” will look at the WHO’s own role in the crisis.   America, in particular, has been critical of the inter-governmental organization.   Its boss, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the inquiry would start “at the earliest opportunity.”

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OPPOSITION TO LOCKDOWNS GATHERS PACE

(Direct quote from The Economist)  ” IN MORE THAN 30 of America’s 50 state capitals angry crowds have been gathering to protest against stay-at-home orders.  Buoyed by tweets from President Donald Trump encouraging them to “liberate” their states, some even compare their elected officials to the Nazis.   A few among them toting assault weapons are dressed incongruously in Hawaiian shirts.  They might seem almost comical were it not for the fact that, in the fetid corners of the internet, such beachwear is recognized as the uniform of the extreme right.

“The spreading of conspiracy theories is central to the extreme right’s activities.   Some claim the virus is a hoax.  Others blame the Chinese, the Jews or even Bill Gates.  Some claim that the federal government is using the virus as a pretext to confiscate weapons and enforce “medical martial law.”   Extremists also spread more familiar conspiracy theories, decrying 5G networks and vaccinations, which help introduce the uninitiated to their ideology.

“A closer look at the far right’s beliefs helps explain why extremists have been energized by America’s new reality.

“The most familiar of these is white supremacy.  Its adherents exploit the virus’s geographical origins to drum up racial antipathy towards Chinese people.  Anti-semites have been accusing Jews of deliberately spreading plagues ever since the Black Death, and covid-19 gives them a chance to reuse the template.  The supremacists thus use fears about “white genocide” to argue for closed borders and eventually a white ethno-state.  “Open borders is the virus,” declares one protest sticker placed on road signs.”  (The Economist, 5/20/2020)

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DURBAN: CORRUPTION IN FOOD DISTRIBUTION

Hunger and starvation in Durban                                                       Allegations are flying thick and fast as some desperate eThekwini residents wait for the delivery of food parcels, one of the brutal consequences of government’s draconian and extended Covid-19 lockdown.  (by Des Erasmus, 12 May 2020, Daily Maverick ) 

eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality is a metropolitan municipality created in 2000, that includes the city of Durban, South Africa and surrounding towns. eThekwini is one of the 11 districts of KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa.  The majority of its 3,442,361 people speak Zulu.  It was formed from seven formerly independent local councils and tribal land. ]

Hunger — and more particularly the very real fear of starvation — has roused already elevated suspicions in some of the province’s rural areas, where peering through a curtain at midnight and seeing “food being delivered at that time” has led to allegations of theft and mismanagement of the parcels by councillors.  What the lockdown has revealed is that it is ordinary citizens who are stepping up to place food on the plates of the province’s distressed.   And allegations about councillors who milk the lockdown to ensure they are able to “buy support” for next year’s local government elections in order to keep their seats.   But just how deep and real this problem is, is difficult to uncover.   Even the South African Police Services couldn’t provide clarity.

Nevertheless, perceived or real, over the course of the weekend and into Monday, Daily Maverick received several calls from eThekwini residents accusing councillors of distributing food to friends and family.   One such call involved the “peering through the window” scenario in Ward 94 of eThekwini Metro, which includes the areas of KwaMakhutha and Ensimbini, just west of the seaside suburb of Amanzimtoti.   “The councillor was seen handing out food parcels at about midnight on Saturday to people who were her friends and family.   One lady went to collect parcels and was turned away,” a resident, who asked not to be named for fear of repercussions, told Daily Maverick.

(https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2020-05-12-hunger-and-starvation-in-durban/)

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CONTROVERSY IN GERMANY OVER HUAWEI

In the wake of the most recent US devastating blow launched at Huawei, demands are again being raised in Berlin to exclude the Chinese company from setting up Germany’s 5G networks.  Huawei should not have an opportunity in Germany, insists Norbert Röttgen, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the German Bundestag.  The government’s current draft for a revised version of the IT security law, in principle, does not exclude the participation of Chinese companies but includes an ambiguous clause (“trustworthiness test”) that could be applied against them.  While the discussion is continuing in Berlin, the Trump administration announced that, in the future, chip manufacturers anywhere in the world, using specialized US equipment must obtain a special US government license to supply Huawei.  Experts estimate that should this directive be implemented – which would subjugate key sectors of the world’s economy to US control – nearly 90 percent of Huawei sales would be threatened.   Subsequently, German companies would also suffer damages.   (German Foreign Policy, 5/19/2020)

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WIFE BEATING ADVICE FROM QATARI OFFICIAL

Dr. Ahmad Al-Farjabi, a shari’a expert from the Qatari Ministry of Religious Endowments, said in a May 6, 2020 interview on Al-Jazeera Network (Qatar) that Muslims are not the only people who beat their wives and that when a man suspects his wife might turn out to be rebellious, he should take the measures prescribed by the Quran, the third of which is beating his wife.   Dr. Al-Farjabi added that even Western psychologists have said that wife-beating is “inevitable” for women who had been beaten while they were growing up and for women who have no respect for their husbands.  He said that these kinds of women must be “subdued by muscles,” and that some kinds of women “may be reformed by beating.”   Al-Farjabi also said that he has even heard from women at his lectures that it is preferable to beat one’s wife than to allow her to ruin the home and lose her children.  (MEMRI 5/18/2020)

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NUREMBERG CODE FORBIDS VACCINES WITHOUT CONSENT

The Nuremberg Code  (1947) is a set of research ethics and principles for human experimentation created as a result of the Nuremberg trials at the end of the Second World War, when the notorious doctor’s experiments where supposed to have come to an end.

It established a set of guiding principles for the Right of the patient to be informed of their medical treatment options and to give their consent before any medical treatment could be performed.

It feels now more than ever that the mass experimentation on humanity is under way once more with enforced vaccines looking an inevitable thing for anyone that wants to do anything.   But know your rights and be better prepared.

The Nuremberg Code is one of the most influential documents in the history of clinical research

Code 6 also states:   The risks should never exceed the benefits.  According to Article 6 of the Unesco 2005 statement on Bioethics and Human Rights.

Article 6, section 1:   Any preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic medical interventions is only to be carried out with the prior, free and informed consent of the person concerned, based on adequate information.   The consent should, where appropriate, be expressed and may be withdrawn by the person concerned  at any time and for any reason WITHOUT DISADVANTAGE or prejudice. (caps mine)

Alan Dershowitz:  State has right to ‘plunge a needle into your arm’
Contends Constitution grants government power to forcibly vaccinate individuals.

Harvard Law School emeritus professor Alan Dershowitz claimed in an interview that the government has a constitutional right under the 10th Amendment to forcibly vaccinate a citizen to curb the spread of a contagious disease.   “Let me put it very clearly, you have no constitutional right to endanger the public and spread the disease, even if you disagree.   You have no right not to be vaccinated, you have no right not to wear a mask, you have no right to open up your business,” he said.   The interviewer, Jason Goodman, interjected, asking if the famed constitutional scholar was saying that if the government decides “you have to be vaccinated, we have to be vaccinated.”   “Absolutely,”  Dershowitz replied. “And if you refuse to be vaccinated, the state has the power to literally take you to a doctor’s office and plunge a needle into your arm.”

>>MORE:  (https://www.wnd.com/2020/05/alan-dershowitz-state-right-plunge-needle-arm/)

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BEHIND THE SCENES OF FRANCO-GERMAN RECOVERY FUND
by Katya Adler, BBC Europe editor, 19 May 2020

After a shambolic, acrimonious display at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the EU’s main players are now on a mission to demonstrate that the European dream is not dead or dying.  To prove that solidarity, common values and a unity of purpose are, in fact, the order of the day.

The German and French leaders were notably absent: the relationship between them tetchy – with France pushing for the EU’s richer countries (including Germany and excluding itself) to take on and share the coronavirus-related debt of the countries of the south.  But what did we see on Monday?   Hey presto: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron jointly proposing a recovery fund to help the weakest EU economies get out of a post-covid slump to the tune of €500bn ($545bn; £448bn).  In EU political terms this is huge. Chancellor Merkel has conceded a lot.   She openly agreed with the French that any money from this fund, allocated to a needy EU country should be a grant, not a loan.   Importantly this means not increasing the debts of economies already weak before the pandemic and financially excruciating lockdown, such as those in southern but also central and eastern Europe.  President Macron gave ground too.   He’d wanted a huge fund of a trillion or more euros.   But a trillion euros of grants was probably too much for Mrs. Merkel to swallow on behalf of fellow German taxpayers.  The resulting compromise:    win-win for the two leaders.  They hope.    . . . I’d say the battle over the EU recovery fund is only just beginning.

 >>MORE:  (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-52717232)

Crisis in Europe:   von der Leyen’s audacious bid for new powers
Commission president must bridge bitter divides over EU plan to rebuild the economy
by Sam Fleming, Jim Brunsden and Michael Peel in Brussels
(Financial Times, 18 May 2020)

Ursula von der Leyen delivered a stark message to the EU’s commissioners on Thursday evening at their first in-person meeting for many weeks.   She told her socially distanced colleagues that they had an opportunity to forge a viable reconstruction plan for a European economy ravaged by the coronavirus crisis.   But they had precious little time at their disposal and only one shot to get it right. One important detail was tellingly absent from the commission president’s private presentation in a windowless room in Brussels’ Berlaymont building:   the hugely divisive question of the size of the recovery fund which she will shortly propose.

Ms. von der Leyen is planning an audacious bid for new powers as she seeks to put her institution at the centre of efforts to revive the European economy, asking member states for unprecedented latitude to raise funds in the markets.   But the former German defense minister faces the central test of her short presidency as she seeks to bridge bitter splits within the EU over the plan.

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FRANCE:   MACRON LOSES MAJORITY

Seven Members leave the La République en Marche group. The French President Macron’s party thus has 288 seats – one less than the majority.(May 19, 2020, Der Spiegel)  

The party of French President Emmanuel Macron loses its majority in parliament.   Seven MEPs from La République en Marche (LREM) left the group and joined the Ecologie Démocratie Solidarité (Ecology, Democracy, Solidarity) group that was founded on Tuesday.

Macron’s party LREM now has only 288 votes in the people’s representation.   A majority require 289 seats.   When Macron took office in 2017, LREM had 314 MPs.   There’s Dissatisfaction with Macron’s business-friendly policies.

(https://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/frankreich-emmanuel-macron-verliert-die-mehrheit-im-parlament-a-ad851480-9158-4c2a-9d45-b059b71da91f)

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DANGER TO FUTURE FOOD SUPPLY

BEE POPULATIONS ARE IN DECLINE ALL OVER THE WORLD =  To bee or not to bee:  International Bee Day highlights plight of pollinators
90% of world’s wild flowering plant species depend, entirely, or at least partly, on animal pollination, along with over 75% of world’s food crops, 35% of agricultural land.

Bees have gotten a bad press — the truth is that they rarely sting.  What they do do is sustainably pollinate a third of the plants needed for a stable, healthy, human diet.   There is no alternative to bees and no logic to seeking an alternative.

In the US, beekeepers lost an estimated 40.7% of their managed honey bee colonies between April 2018 and April 2019, according to the most recent loss and management report issued by the Bee Informed Partnership: https://beeinformed.org/

<Main Article> https://www.timesofisrael.com/to-bee-or-not-to-bee-international-bee-day-highlights-plight-of-pollinators/

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1927 BOMB REMAINS WORST SCHOOL ATTACK IN US HISTORY

May 18th, 1927, 45 people including 38 children were killed in Bath Township, during the deadliest school attack in U.S. History.

“He asked himself I don’t know why I lived.” said Wendy Marrison, granddaughter of a survivor.    Wendy Marrison’s Grandpa, Dean was a student at Bath Consolidated School and was only 11 years old when it happened.

93 years ago, Andrew Keyhoe was a school board member at the time.   Police say he hid nearly 500 pounds of dynamite throughout the school, something he planned for months.

“It was the last day before summer break and as the kids were going into school Mr. Keyhoe was there greeting him.   He actually said to the kids this is your last day, my Grandpa thought that’s a nice greeting, later on, he realized that was a warning.” said Wendy Marrison.

At 8:45 A.M., hours before their summer vacation was set to begin.

The explosion happened.

“He was on the first floor and he got buried under all this rubble.  He was the very last one to be pulled out.   When they pulled him they couldn’t find a pulse, so in his words “I was put in the dead pile.”   One of his neighbors saw his toe move and they all started yelling he’s alive he’s alive!” Marrison added.

Dean did survive the attack and went on to live a good life.  He passed away in 2006 at the age of 92.   Wendy wasn’t alive when it all happened, but she wants to make sure that people never forget.

“We need to honor the ones who survived and the ones who didn’t.” Marrison said.    (WLNS 6, Bath Township, Lansing, Michigan)

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Danish Bible that removed Israel ‘not antisemitic’ argues columnist The Danish Bible society took too many liberties with the translation but, Mosaic Magazine’s Philologos argued, was not antisemitic in its motives.

Far from being antisemitic, a new Christian Bible translation which omits or replaces the word “Israel” in many places within the text affirms the link between Israel and the Jewish people, a columnist for Mosaic Magazine has argued.

The translation, titled Bible 2020, released earlier this year by the Danish Bible Society, came under scrutiny toward the end of April when readers noted that numerous references to “Israel” had been replaced or removed. In some places the word had been replaced with “the Jews,” “the Jewish people,” or even “the people,” whereas in others the translation was made more universal, such as the re-rendering of Psalm 121:4 from “He who watches over Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps,” to “He who takes care of us will not fall asleep, no he is not sleeping.”

According to analysis by the Bible Society in Israel, the word “Israel” appears only twice in the Bible 2020 version of New Testament rather than the more than 60 times it appears in the Greek from which it was originally translated.   The Old Testament has been less altered, but while the word appears 2,521 times in the Greek, it has been rendered as such 2,316 times in the Danish translation, a reduction of around 9%.

Defending their translation, the Danish Bible society said in a statement:   “In The New Testament the word ‘Israel’ has been translated into ‘the Jewish people,’ ‘the Jews,’ or ‘the people’ because when the Greek text uses the word ‘Israel’ it is referring to a people with whom God has a special relationship – Jacob’s descendants.   However, for the secular reader, who does not know the Bible well, ‘Israel’ could be referring only to a country.  Therefore the word ‘Israel’ in the Greek text has been translated in other ways, so that the reader understands it is referring to the Jewish people.”

However, many were unconvinced.

The Jerusalem Post columnist Liat Collins wrote of the translation: “Instead of making sure that readers understand the connection between Israel, the Jews and the Land of Israel of the Bible, they preferred to make an artificial separation.

“Taking a charitable approach, it’s possible to say that the Danish Bible translators did not see their changes as a political act, more an act of political correctness – trying to include all.   But clearly something was lost in translation, as is evident to someone who reads the Bible in the original Hebrew.   As B’nai Brith International tweeted: “… this surreal revision causes confusion and worse: whitewashing of history, identity, and sacred scripture.””

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TO THE POINT

  • Dozens of companies around the world are working on vaccines.  Experts say the world will need more than one, because demand will outstrip the production capacity of any single manufacturer.  Official remarks:  President Trump said he had been taking hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug that experts have warned could cause dangerous heart rhythm abnormalities in coronavirus patients, as a preventive measure.   He said he had no symptoms of Covid-19.  (NY Times).
  • Aussies subservient to Chinese — AUSTRALIA lacks courage to appropriately deal with China in the wake of the Coronavirus “cover-up” warns Liberal Party senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.   Addressing parliament this week the NSW-based senator said it was critical for Australia to plan for reparations and to “decouple” from China.  (Politico, 5/20/2020)
  • It is understood that due to his own experience with the coronavirus, the British PM believes ending obesity will help Britain in its fight against Covid-19 – a battle that will require blood, toil, tears and sweat.  And also, knowing Johnson, bicycles.  (The Week, 5/15/2020) Boris Johnson is an impassioned fan of wartime prime minister Winston Churchill.   But his own war, as it turns out, will not be waged against Nazis but against fat.
  • “Even without laptops and swimming pools, and on a fraction of what government schools spend today, Americans were a surprisingly learned people in our first hundred years.”  (“The Myth that Americans were poorly educated before mass government schooling,” Lawrence W. Reed, The Epoch Times, 5/14/2020).
  • Headline in Lansing State Journal:   “Mid-Michigan’s catastrophic flooding adds to state’s pandemic woes” (5/21/2020).   Michigan is the third worst hit state from the coronavirus.
  • CAR BUMPER STICKER:   My car gets three weeks to the gallon!

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AFTER THOUGHT

There have been more articles warning about a “second” civil war.

By my calculations, it would be the third civil war.   The Revolutionary War was also a civil war.   As John Adams wrote, the country was divided three ways, those Loyal to the Crown, those rebelling and those who couldn’t spell Crown!

Not counting this as a civil war overlooks a reality in American history, which is still pertinent today, in the time of corona.

The country is divided.

A Canadian Member of Parliament summed it up quite well a few years ago.  In explaining the difference between the US & Canada, he said, in Canada they have four different parties who all have a different approach to any problem.   The Canadians discuss the problem until consensus is reached.  In the US, the two parties take opposing positions and head for the barricades.

Perhaps it’s something in the DNA of Americans.  Or something in our breakfast cereals.

The fact is that we are divided again – on a virus of all things!  There are those who believe everything the government tells us; and those who reject everything.

In this sense, it resembles the first civil war (1775-83).   Then, on the one side you had people who were against authority and on the other those who upheld authority.

Then as now.

It would be ridiculous to have a civil war over a virus, but it’s just one more issue that continues to divide the country.

As Abraham Lincoln said prior to the War Between the States,  “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”   He was quoting from Mark 3:25.

MR   

US-EU RIFT GETS WORSE

Hello everybody,

The election dominates US news.   There are many conflicting reports.

In Michigan, polls show Trump losing to every prominent Democratic candidate.   Yet, at the same time, his rallies (and those for VP Mike Pence) attract audiences too big to be accommodated.

And note the following report from the Munich Security Conference (read article “Munich Security Conference,” further down).  “Europeans widely expect Trump to be re-elected this fall.”

Meanwhile, the Democratic debate held last night in South Carolina, shows the party tearing itself apart.   Amy Klobuchar said it best:   “If we continue to tear each other apart over the next four months, we will see Trump continue to tear the country apart for the next four years.”  Another House Democrat described the seven Democrats on stage as a “circular firing squad.”   They should remember the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 12:25 — “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” words quoted by Abraham Lincoln on the eve of the Civil War.  With Trump so universally “hated,” it’s incredible the Democrats can’t come up with a winning candidate!

The second issue that dominates the news is the coronavirus.  Hopefully, this will not have the death toll of the various plagues that hit the world during the Middle Ages.   Justinian’s “flea” (probably bubonic plague) killed a manageable 5,000 a day in the first month; then 10,000 a day.   The population was greatly diminished.   As with the coronavirus, it was spread through trade and international travel.   It was the same in the 14th century, 800 years later, when the plague hit Europe again.  The death toll was a staggering 50% of the people.  Just over a century ago, the Spanish flu infected 500 million people worldwide, about one third of the world’s population.   It killed an estimated 20-50 million, including some 675,000 Americans.

We will get through it, but it may kill millions before it’s over.

One final thought on the election:   At least two of the candidates for the Democratic party claim to be Christians.   Voters, however, should be careful here.   All seven of the people appearing last night support a woman’s right to murder her baby!  (To be fair, so do some Republicans.)

Have a great week.

Melvin   

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Very early this morning, I came across a show on PBS World called “Gzero World”, with Ian Bremmer. Today they were reporting from the Munich Security Conference on world security issues.  The first four items come from their website.

US-EU RIFT GETS WORSE

The risk of a major technology blow-up between the US and Europe is growing.   A few weeks ago, we wrote about how the European Union wanted to boost its “technological sovereignty” by tightening its oversight of Big Tech and promoting its own alternatives to big US and Chinese firms in areas like cloud computing and artificial intelligence.

Last week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and her top digital officials unveiled their first concrete proposals for regulating AI, and pledged to invest billions of euros to turn Europe into a data superpower.    (Gzero World, 2/25/2020)

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Communal violence in Delhi:   Over the past few days, India’s capital city has seen its deadliest communal violence in decades.  This week’s surge in mob violence began as a standoff between protesters against a new citizenship law that critics say discriminates against India’s Muslims and the law’s Hindu nationalist defenders.   Clashes between Hindu and Muslim mobs in majority-Muslim neighborhoods in northeast Delhi have killed at least 11 people, both Muslim and Hindu, since Sunday.   We’re watching to see how Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government responds – Delhi’s police force reports to federal, rather than local, officials.(Gzero World, 2/25/2020)

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Unlikely jihadist bedfellows:   For years, the jihadists of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have been at odds over territory and ideology. Bloody clashes between offshoots of the two groups have become commonplace in Yemen and Syria, further destabilizing those war-torn countries.   But now, strangely, ISIS and al-Qaeda linked groups appear to have joined forces in West Africa, recruiting locals and divvying up vast swathes of territory in the Sahel – a semi-arid area stretching across the southern edge of the Sahara Desert.  Motivated by mutual practical interests and common foes – Western forces and local governments – they’ve set aside their doctrinal differences and are gaining ground in states with weak central governments like Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, the US military recently said.  This all comes as the Trump administration is weighing a sizable drawdown of US troops in West Africa.  (Gzero World, 2/25/2020)

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US-China tit-for-tat retaliations:   The Trump administration is weighing up retribution against Chinese journalists and state-owned media – as well as Chinese intelligence agencies – after Beijing expelled three Wall Street Journal reporters last week over an opinion column that criticized Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus.  The Chinese Foreign Ministry, incensed by the “China is the Real Sick Man of Asia” headline, demanded an apology from the Journal before booting three of its reporters, none of whom had anything to do with the column.   If the US responds in kind, it could lead to a cycle of tit-for-tat retribution and animosity between Washington and Beijing just as a preliminary trade agreement appears to have eased mounting tensions between the world’s two largest economies.   We’re watching to see if the Trump administration follows through on its threat – or if it’s just bluster.  (Gzero World, 2/25/2020)

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MUNICH SECURITY CONFERENCE

The annual gathering of the Munich Security Conference provides a useful barometer for the health of the transatlantic relationship. Two years ago, Europeans were reeling from the first year of the Trump administration.   Last year, they were resigned to that reality and determined to press ahead.  This past weekend, everyone was searching for a savior to address critical challenges amid a lack of global leadership.

Europeans widely expect Trump to be re-elected this fall.   After their shock at his 2016 victory, they seem to be bracing for the worst, but remain unprepared for the consequences.   They inquired about Democratic presidential candidates, asking what Bernie Sanders would mean for Europe and whether Michael Bloomberg was a good compromise for moderates.  (Amanda Sloat, Brookings, 2/18/2020)

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TRUMP EMBRACED BY ENTHUSIASTIC INDIANS

“It was the Trumpiest of offers.

“A rally at one of the world’s largest stadiums.   A crowd of millions cheering him on.   A love fest during an election year.”   (Lansing State Journal, 2/24/2020).

The stadium is the world’s biggest cricket stadium.  I wonder if President Trump was aware that cricket was the preferred sport of fellow Republican, Abraham Lincoln?

An incredible welcome from the world’s second most populous nation.  President Trump is hoping for a trade deal with India.

Sadly, it coincided with massive demonstrations against a new Indian immigration bill, which discriminates against Muslims.  At least twenty people have been killed.

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ISRAEL NOW RECOGNIZED BY 161 COUNTRIES

161 countries now have diplomatic relations with Israel, which is the highest number that it has ever been for the Jewish state.  Increasingly, the community of nations cares less about Palestinian objections and more about what Israel has to offer.   (Israel National News, 2/24/2020)

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NEVER ENDING SYRIAN CONFLICT

At a four-way summit with the leaders of Russia, Turkey and France, Angela Merkel will seek to influence the future of the northern Syrian province Idlib.  The summit, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on the weekend is to be held next week.  It will explore options for ending the fighting in the province, where, over the past few weeks, Syrian troops have been advancing on militias.  Usually referred to as “rebels” in the German media, they are, in fact, dominated by an al Qaeda subsidiary.  The combat has deepened dissention between Russia and Turkey on how to go forward in Syria, raising new hopes among western powers for driving a wedge between Ankara and Moscow.   Prior to the summit, however, specialists are pointing out that Berlin hardly has any options for exerting influence in Syria.  The EU sees the overthrow of the government in Damascus as the precondition for granting desperately needed reconstruction aid.    (German Foreign Policy, 2/25/2020)

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MACRON VOWS CRACKDOWN ON POLITICAL ISLAM

“The problem is when, in the name of a religion, some people want to separate themselves from the Republic and therefore not respect its laws.” — French President Emmanuel Macron, February 18, 2020.   (Soeren Kern, Gatestone, 2/21/2020)

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SWEDISH MIGRANT CRISIS

“For the first time now, more crimes – in absolute terms – are committed by persons of foreign background than by persons of Swedish origin . . .   The most crime-prone population subgroup are people born [in Sweden] to two foreign-born parents.” — Report by Det Goda Samhället (“The Good Society”), summer of 2019. (Judith Bergman, Gatestone, 2/26)

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UK GROOMING GANGS TO REMAIN A SECRET

DAILYKENN.com — It’s a state secret.  No one is to know the ethnicity of grooming gang members.  The thugs are responsible for trafficking nearly 19,000 British girls in one year.

Who are these people?  No one knows because  Boris Johnson’s government won’t release statistics that reveal their ethnicity.

The truth is, of course, that the government doesn’t need to release the data because everyone knows the preponderance of the gang members are from non-white Islamic regions of the world.  Nearly all are ethnic Pakistanis.

It’s akin to the n-word.  No one dares say it, but everyone knows what it means.   Authorities said that releasing the data would not be in the public interest.

Survivors accused ministers of making “empty promises,” while a man who prosecuted abusers in Rochdale called for the Home Office to “show some courage and publish” its findings.

It comes after The Independent revealed that almost 19,000 suspected child sexual exploitation victims were identified by local authorities in just one year, sparking renewed calls for prevention efforts.   (Daily Kenn, 2/25/2020)

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GAY CONVERSION THERAPY BANNED IN MORE COUNTRIES

Global momentum is growing to ban so-called gay “conversion therapy,” with bills drawn up in nine countries, a rights group said on Wednesday.

The United States, Canada, Chile, Mexico and Germany are among countries seeking to outlaw the treatment, which includes practices from electric shocks to “praying away the gay” and is based on the belief that being gay or transgender is a mental illness that can be “cured,” Ilga, an LGBT+ advocacy group, said.

Worldwide, only Brazil, Ecuador and Malta have national bans on conversion therapy, condemned as ineffective and harmful to mental health by more than 60 associations of doctors, psychologists or counsellors globally, the Ilga study said.

“The main driving force [for reform] is survivors with their testimonies coming forwards,” Lucas Ramon Mendos, author of the Ilga report, which said 2020 could be a turning point in the fight against “therapies” that have ruined many lives.

“A lot of awareness is being created through their testimony,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.   (Rachel Savage, Independent, 2/26/2020)

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TO THE POINT

  • A headline in our local newspaper, the Lansing State Journal, appeared Monday.   It read: ‘White supremacy seeps into public, experts warn.”   It added:   “Incidents show startling jump over the past year.”   The article went on to show that violence emanating from “white supremacist groups” is increasing and is expected to grow further in the years ahead.   There is no excuse for violence.  But surely this is a reaction to the massive immigration of recent years and the constant emphasis on multiculturalism.   Until both change, there will be a constant threat from the political “right.”  It’s a reaction to the “extreme left.”
  • There’s a plan in Michigan to expand the options offered on payday loans.  These “short term, high cost financial products,” have trapped millions of families into a never ending “costly and potentially catastrophic cycle of debt.”  (David Snodgrass,  Lansing State Journal, 2/20/2020).   The bill “would allow lenders to charge a monthly service fee of 11% on the principal of a loan, equivalent to an APR of around 132%.   In practical terms, this means a borrower would end up paying more than $7,000 to pay off a $2,500 two-year loan.”   Heed the following biblical advice:  “If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you.  Do not take interest or any profit from them, but fear your God, so that they may continue to live among you.” (Lev. 25:35-36)
  • I went to a concert on Monday evening.   The Academy of St Martin in the Fields played Brahms Symphony Number 4, along with a violin concerto by Paganini and a short piece by Mozart.  It was a delightful and relaxing evening with good friends.
  • Also relaxing (and gripping) is my latest “read:”   “The Race to save the Romanovs” by Helen Rappaport was published in 2018.  After the Russian revolution in 1917 the Romanov family were under house arrest.   When the communists came to power later in the year, their situation deteriorated fast.   Many people wanted to save them and their five young children, but no attempt got very far; eventually, they were all brutally murdered.   The Bolsheviks were, if nothing else, thorough – killing all their opponents for over seventy years!   The deaths of the children were particularly reprehensible.   Today’s Russians have tried to make amends by canonizing each member of the Imperial Family.  28% of Russians polled said they would like to see the monarchy restored.   But how do you restore it when you killed everybody off?    (Interestingly, 28% is roughly the support US presidents get; when you consider that only 54.9% bothered to vote in the last election.)    Maurice Paleologue was the French Ambassador to Russia at the time of the revolution.   He said the only man who could have saved them was Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany.   The Russians had been fighting the Germans, along with the British and the French.  The Kaiser helped Lenin get to Russia and, when he assumed power, entered into a peace deal with him, so that Russia could leave the war.    The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk of 1918 could have (should have) included a clause freeing the Czar and his family.   Wilhelm was related to the Russian Imperial Family.  He particularly loved the children.   Why didn’t he save them?

SLAVERY NOT A CRIME

Overview of domestic legislation prohibiting human exploitation.  Many of the 193 U.N. member states have not gone on to explicitly criminalise slavery and other exploitation.  Researchers noted that almost all countries had some form of domestic anti-trafficking legislation in place.   Image: Katarina Schwarz and Jean Allain

Slavery is not a crime for almost half the countries in the world.  Although laws allowing slavery have been scrapped worldwide, many of the 193 U.N. member states have not gone on to explicitly criminalise slavery.                                                                                                                                     by Sonia Elks | @SoniaElks | Thomson Reuters Foundation, 12 Feb 2020

“Slavery is far from being illegal everywhere and we hope our research will move the conversation beyond this popular myth,” said Katarina Schwarz, a researcher at the University of Nottingham’s Rights Lab, which led work on the slavery database.

“It will surprise many people to learn that in all of these countries there are no criminal laws in place to prosecute, convict and punish people for subjecting people to the most extreme forms of exploitation.”   More than 40 million people are held in modern slavery, which includes forced labor and forced marriage, according to estimates by the International Labour Organization and the anti-slavery group the Walk Free Foundation.

There is no criminal law against slavery in 94 countries – almost half of U.N. states – said researchers at Rights Lab, which reviewed the study’s findings with the Castan Centre for Human Rights at Monash University in Australia.   It found almost two thirds of countries apparently failed to criminalize any of the main four practices associated with slavery – serfdom, debt bondage, forced marriage, and child trafficking – except in the context of human trafficking.

“Slavery in its nature looks to exploit people who fall slightly outside the rule of law,” Jakub Sobik, a spokesman for the charity Anti-Slavery International told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.  “There is a need for wide-ranging policies that address the wider context and systemic reasons why people are made vulnerable to being tricked and trapped and controlled by another person.”  (http://news.trust.org/item/20200212132545-vdpzu)

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GM PULLS OUT OF AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND, THAILAND

General Motors has been in Australia since 1856 when it first sold saddles to Australians.   In the 1960’s and 70’s they produced Holden cars, a popular brand that really caught on.  Now, they are selling up and moving out.   The big benefactor?

China.

It’s symbolic of what’s happening to American capitalism.  The US is losing out to competitors, especially the Chinese.

And it’s not just cars.   In the same week, President Duterte of the Philippines tore up the defense treaty with the US, preferring Beijing over Washington.   One reason may be Duterte’s stance on human rights, which has led to criticism from Americans.   China doesn’t care about human rights.

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CORONAVIRUS “MADE IN CHINA”

The Chinese Communist Party calls it “discourse management.”  It’s more than mere censorship and bigger than propaganda.   And Beijing is pretty good at it.   The party uses it to control its own people, but also to manage foreign governments.

Take the new coronavirus, for instance.   It may be a made-in-China global pandemic, and China might have bungled its handling of it, but that’s somehow irrelevant and China’s government says it’s “unhappy” with Australia.   Come again?

The outbreak is classified by the World Health Organization as a global health emergency.   It was created in China, of course.   The consensus among virologists is that the likely cause was the Chinese authorities’ persistent tolerance of unsafe animal and food handling practices.

After the 2003 outbreak of a novel coronavirus, the SARS epidemic, the Chinese government banned all trade in wild animals.  Once the crisis had passed, the authorities relaxed the ban, announcing 54 types of exemption.   In other words, it was going to happen again one day.   Then, once this outbreak was discovered, the Chinese authorities seriously mismanaged it.   This is now the subject of frenetic blame-shifting inside China.

When the first cases started turning up in the city of Wuhan in mid-December, two weeks before the official disclosure on December 31 that there was a new virus, sick people were turned away from local hospitals and sent home to infect other people and die.  The hospitals were told to report “zero infections.”

Why?   Because an important meeting of provincial and city officials was under way in Wuhan and only good news was permitted.   The cover-ups and delays were “reprehensible” according to an eminent Australian virologist, John Mackenzie.      (Peter Hartcher, Sydney Morning Herald, 2/18/2020)

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GOG AND MAGOG  — COULD RUSSIA ATTACK ISRAEL?

Russia’s ambassador to Syria this week issued what some saw as a veiled threat should Israel continue bombing Iranian assets in the war-torn country.

On February 6, an aerial attack on a target near Damascus killed 20 Syrian and Iranian military officials.   It also caused Syrian air defenses to inadvertently fire on an airplane carrying 172 passengers.   The plane managed to safely land at a nearby airport.

Israel Defense Minister Naftali Bennett later hinted that the attack was just another in a long series of Israeli strikes against Iranian assets that are admittedly in Syria for the purpose of threatening the Jewish state.

But Russian Ambassador Alexander Yefimov wasn’t interested in Israeli justifications.

In an interview with Sputnik Arabic, Yefimov called the Israeli raids “provocative and very dangerous.”   He further cautioned that “this increases the possibility of conflict over Syria.”

Since Syria is already in conflict, his warning was taken to mean that the ongoing Israeli raids could eventually result in an armed clash between the Jewish state and Russian forces in the region.

Israeli political and military officials have never been shy about referencing the biblical “War of Gog and Magog.”   It’s something they believe is going to happen.  (Israel Today, 2/17)

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GERMAN CRITICISM OF US BREAKING INTERNATIONAL LAW

In reference to the US drone-murder of Iran’s General Qassem Suleimani, German government advisors are warning against a growing number of violations of international law by the United States.   For years, “the foreign policy of the Trump administration has demonstrated that it has been a particular strain on international law,” observes an analysis published by Berlin’s German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP).  Suleimani’s murder suggests that Washington is now beginning to extend its “war on terror” tactics, that had already become common-place under President Barack Obama – such as drone-murders – to leading representatives of foreign nations, it considers to be “a threat.”  In the future, “state representatives should fear for their lives, when they travel outside their country,” because “the consequences for international diplomacy are hardly predictable.”  The SWP advises the German government to take a clear stand.  Of course, in its attempts to implement its globalist policies over the past few decades, Berlin, too, has repeatedly violated international law, often as an accomplice of the USA.    (German Foreign Policy, 1/28)

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Watch Israel’s new laser weapon shoot drones out of sky                   by Yaron Steinbuch, 12 Feb 2020

An Israeli drone defense system fit for “Star Wars” has shot down multiple maneuvering targets with a high-powered laser beam, according to reports.   “The system achieved 100 percent success in all test scenarios,” defense technology company Rafael said in a statement about its Drone Dome C-UAS, or Counter-Unmanned Aerial System, the Times of Israel reported.   “The stages of the interception included target detection, identification and interception” with the laser beam, it said in a video of a recent demo of the system.   In the footage, a vehicle-mounted system is shown engaging the targets, including zigzagging drones.   In one test, three drones flying in formation were downed in rapid succession.  “Drone Dome is designed to address threats posed by hostile drones both in military and civilian sites,” Rafael said.

Drone Dome refers to a package that includes a search radar, drone radio command detector, an electro-optical sensor, and command-and-control system, according to Popular Mechanics.  The system can detect objects as small as 0.021 square feet at 2.1 miles.  Once detected, it locks onto the drone, keeping it in its cross hairs as it maneuvers in any direction.   When the laser is blasted, it melts away the drone’s plastic housing and destroys its electronics, sending it to the ground.     (https://nypost.com/2020/02/12/watch-israels-wild-new-laser-weapon-shoot-drones-out-of-sky/)

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 Munich Security Conference:  France’s Macron envisions new era of European strength                                                                                                  The French president projected a vision of a Europe with new military power at the Munich Security Conference.   As the only nuclear power in the EU, he also foresaw greater European sovereignty.

“We cannot always go through the United States, no, we have to think in a European way as well,” French President Emmanuel Macron said on stage at the Munich Security Conference (MSC) on Saturday as he continued a theme of his presidency: projecting bold European sovereignty onto the international stage.

He was referring specifically to Europe’s nuclear assets, pointing out a key difference to the Cold War era when Europe’s nuclear shield was primarily coordinated by the US.   “Now we have to be able to say clearly that if we want a sovereign Europe, if we want to protect our citizens, then we do need to look at that aspect, also with a view to Germany,” he said.   To show his commitment, Macron has already invited Germany to take part in a strategic dialogue over France’s nuclear weapon policy.

The UK’s exit from the European Union has shifted added responsibility onto France.   Though the UK and France are of course still NATO partners, along with the US and Germany, France is now the only nuclear power in the EU, which leaves the Paris government balancing its nuclear defense strategy between, as Macron put it, “the ambitions of NATO and Europe.” (Deutsche Welle, 15 Feb, 2020)  (– Extract from:  (https://www.dw.com/en/munich-security-conference-frances-macron-envisions-new-era-of-european-strength/a-52389586)

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Munich Security Conference:   African leaders absent from Sahel talks
Germany and other world powers meeting in Munich raised concerns about the deteriorating security situation in the Sahel region.  But African heads of state who had been invited were conspicuously absent.

Not a single head of state from the continent attended, despite the growing threat of terrorism and the armed conflicts tearing it apart.

A report by Save the Children, published as world leaders convened in Munich, Germany, said at least 95,000 children had been killed or maimed across the world since 2005.  Tens of thousands were abducted and millions were denied access to education.

Germany makes a case for the Sahel:   In the absence of African leaders, to bring the matter to the table, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer called for an increased effort in the fight against Islamists in Africa.   “The Sahel is a key region for Europe, for example, when it comes to migration or the threat of terrorism,” she said, adding:   “That is why it is so important that Germany remains committed there, militarily as well.”  Kramp-Karrenbauer’s statement was encouraging to the Central African Republic’s defense minister, Marie-Noelle Koyara.   “I take this opportunity to thank the German government for making such a wise decision,” the CAR defense minister told DW.

African children were the worst affected, according to Save the Children.   Some 170 million across Africa and the Middle East are living in war zones.  “You will see that most of the violent conflicts do not feature,” Dan Smith, director of SIPRI, an international think tank dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control, and disarmament, told DW.

Smith is disappointed the international community is not paying attention to the crisis unfolding in Africa.

“They (Africans) are not part of the thinking of the security community that is gathered here,” Smith adds.  “That doesn’t mean that this community’s concerns are irrelevant, but they’re not focused on the Sahel; they are not focused on the Horn of Africa.”(https://www.dw.com/en/munich-security-conference-african-leaders-absent-from-sahel-talks/a-52398078)

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 EU’s Franco-German axis will stutter without the Brits, says Vestager
“I think we will see a new dynamic in the union, but it will take some time before we fully recover,” the EU competition and digital chief said.            by Simon Van Dorpe, Politico.eu, 30 Jan 2020

France and Germany will struggle to drive the EU without the British “energy” that helped Paris and Berlin work together, EU competition and digital chief Margrethe Vestager said today.  “One of the things we will be missing is of course the energy.   Because we have a French-German axis – but part of the energy to make that axis work comes from, came from, the U.K.,” Vestager said when asked what she would miss about Britain.    Vestager said that other member countries, “maybe changing coalitions of member states,” would have to step into that void.  “I think we will see a new dynamic in the union, but it will take some time before we fully recover,” she said. Vestager attended the Brexit vote in the parliament on Wednesday, which she said was “really touching because you see it is real.”  Vestager also said she would miss the sense of humor of the Brits, which she said was similar to the Danish.

“I was very close to [former U.K. Commissioner] Jonathan Hill; I was sitting next to [Hill’s successor] Julian King when he was the Commissioner here and I miss them, because they come with a U.K. culture,” she said.   She told an anecdote of how she struggled to communicate in English at the start of her first mandate and when she asked Hill if he didn’t find it exhausting how the other commissioners treated his language, he said: “Of course not, I’m so honored that you’re all trying.”
(https://www.politico.eu/article/eus-franco-german-axis-will-stutter-without-the-brits-says-vestager/)

Brexit punches 12-bln-euro hole in EU finances
by Agence France-Presse, 30 Jan, 2020

Brussels – When Britain leaves the European Union at midnight on Friday the bloc will lose the second-biggest net contributor to its budget, leaving a 12-billion-euro ($13-billion) hole in its finances.  The United Kingdom will continue making budget contributions this year under an agreed post-Brexit transition period.   But from 2021 Europe will have to look elsewhere.  This further complicates an already fraught debate between the remaining member states over the EU’s 2021-2027 long-term budget, called the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).   The European Commission has had a proposed MFF on the table since May 2018, and its new president Ursula von der Leyen is keen to get it approved soon.   But a so-called “Frugal Five” of wealthy mainly northern countries — Austria, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden — are seeking to limit EU expenditure.   And a rival “Friends of Cohesion” group of 16 eastern and Mediterranean countries wants to defend the budget rules.

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Frustrated by liberal policies, some Oregon residents petitioned to leave the state – by moving the border with Idaho westward.

The movement secured initial approval from two counties and aims to get enough signatures to put the proposal on ballots in November, according to the group called Greater Idaho.  If the group succeeds, voters in southeast Oregon may see a question on whether their county should become part of Idaho by redrawing the border.   “Rural counties have become increasingly outraged by laws coming out of the Oregon Legislature that threaten our livelihoods, our industries, our wallet, our gun rights, and our values,” Mike McCarter, one of the chief petitioners, said in a news release. “We tried voting those legislators out, but rural Oregon is outnumbered and our voices are now ignored.  This is our last resort.” (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/02/17/oregon-idaho-border-petition-secede/4789936002/)

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TO THE POINT

  • After a five-month delay, Afghanistan’s electoral commission named Ashraf Ghani as the winner of the country’s presidential election.   The result was delayed after supporters of Mr. Ghani’s leading challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, accused the commission of bias and threatened to form a parallel government.  The victory gives Mr. Ghani a second five-year term as president.  (The Economist 2/19/2020)
  • Three of Britain’s remaining overseas territories are under constant threat from Spain (Gibraltar), Argentina (Falkland Islands) and Mauritius (Diego Garcia, home of a big US naval base in the Indian Ocean).   Vladimir Putin, soon to be proclaimed dictator of Russia, has given his support to Argentina’s claim on the Falklands.   At one time, the three territories would have had nothing to fear as they would have been protected by the Royal Navy.   Not any more – Italy’s navy is now bigger than Britain’s.  Quite a comedown for what was the world’s greatest navy before World War II.   The navy is not even going to be big enough to stop Europeans fishing in British waters, post-Brexit.
  • The British government announced the first details of its post-Brexit plans for immigration policy.  It promised that there would be no more visas for low-skilled workers and no freedom of movement between Britain and the rest of the European Union.  Visa applications will instead be judged on a “points-based” immigration system.  (The Economist 2/19/2020)
  • German man leaves €7 million fortune to far-right AfDAn engineer who died in 2018 has donated his entire estate of gold, property and patents  to the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. The endowment is one of the largest ever given to a German political party.
  • A locust plague which has now reached coronavirus-struck China may be the “fifth trumpet” prophesied in the Book of Revelation, according to wild claims.  (https://www.express.co.uk/news/weird/1243557/locast-swarm-china-coronavirus-book-revelation-seventh-seal-trumpet-jesus-christ-god-)

PERVERSE LIBERAL THINKING

Flowers are left following Friday’s terror attack on London Bridge in London, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019. A man wearing a fake suicide vest was subdued by bystanders as he went on a knife rampage killing two people and wounding others before being shot dead by police on Friday. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)    (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Two young Cambridge University graduates are dead, murdered by a supposedly rehabilitated terrorist, in London last Friday.   The Cambridge University students were part of “Learning Together,” a project that aims to bring rehabilitated terrorists back into mainstream society.   This is liberalism gone mad!

A major weakness of western liberalism is the idea that we’re all the same, whatever culture or background we come from.   We should know better.   ISIS fighters are not going to repent – as they come back to western countries following the defeat of ISIS they will bring their ideology with them, and kill people.   Anybody who thinks otherwise is a misguided fool.

The young male victim had written his dissertation on why minorities account for a disproportionate percentage of people in prison.   The answer is simple – they commit more crimes.

It’s sad as more innocent lives are likely to be lost as we pursue rehab.   Years ago, I remember reading in Psychology Today that 92% of sex offenders are never rehabilitated.   When they leave prison, they commit the same acts again.   Do we really think that terrorists will do better?

As Piers Morgan wrote in the Daily Mail, “Most terrorists don’t change their evil spots so it’s time Britain stopped going soft on hate-filled jihadis to please the PC hand-wringing brigade and does what Americans do – lock them up forever.” (12/2/2019 Daily Mail)

Even this may not work.   Terrorists in prison might encourage fellow terrorists to seize hostages until they are released.

What would be more appropriate (and final) is the death penalty.

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KING OF THE NORTH?

Following the opening, on September 30, 2019, of the Al-Bukamal-Al-Qaim border crossing between Syria and Iraq, which had been closed for five years due to the Syria war, Abu Al-Fazel Salehiniya, a culture advisor at the Iranian embassy in Damascus, published an article in the pro-regime Syrian daily Al-Watan, in which he presented the opening of the crossing as a step towards the realization of Iran’s vision of a new Middle East.   He explained that Iran planned to establish a political, economic and cultural bloc consisting of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, which will impact the power-balance in the region and world, and thwart what he called the American and Western plan to fragment the Middle East into tiny states under Western control.   For many years, he said, the U.S. and Israel have been working in various ways to prevent the creation of this bloc, including by instigating protests in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon; however, they have failed thanks to the resistance axis, which is now stronger than ever and has attained impressive achievements.   (MEMRI 12/4)

Editor’s note: The four countries were roughly the borders of the biblical king of the North, in the second century BC.

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GERMAN MILITARY EXPANSION                                                                        by Johannes Stern, 29 Nov 2019, World Socialist Web Site

(Extracts) . . . Kramp-Karrenbauer replied:  “We know we have to do more, but we are on the way.”   In 2031 the German army would “realistically” be able to take over ten percent of NATO’s military capacity.   Until that date at the latest, Germany would also reach the NATO target of two percent of gross domestic product for military spending.   In fact Germany will make substantial steps towards this goal as early as next year, as the pact to form the grand coalition laid out.   According to a report by the German Press Agency, the German government has reported to the military alliance its intention to spend 50.25 billion euros [$US55.3 billion] in 2020.   “We are complying with our international obligations.   The NATO defense rate is 1.42 percent,” boasted Social Democratic Finance Minister Olaf Scholz at yesterday’s presentation of the budget for 2020 in the Bundestag . . .   Five years after the German government announced the end of military restraint at the Munich Security Conference in 2014, the ruling class can no longer hide the fact that it is basing its foreign and great power politics on the militaristic traditions of the German Empire and the Nazis.   In his major lecture on foreign policy at the end of October, the president of the German parliament, Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU), described 1945, i.e. the date of the downfall of the Third Reich and the defeat of Germany in World War II—as a “catastrophe”       (https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/11/29/kram-n29.html)

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GERMANY TO MATCH US CONTRIBUTION TO NATO BUDGET

From 2021, Germany will increase its contribution to the NATO budget to be in line with what the US pays.                                                                  NATO officials hope the move will diffuse tensions surrounding the cost of maintaining the military alliance.             (https://www.dw.com/en/germany-to-match-us-contribution-to-nato-budget/a-51446211)

German army sorry for ‘retro’ post

BERLIN, Germany — The German army on Wednesday apologized for posting a photo on Instagram of a military uniform complete with two Iron Crosses bearing the Nazi swastika and appearing to celebrate it as “retro.”   After media reports sparked outrage, the army removed the picture of the Nazi-era Wehrmacht uniform and explained that it was an “unacceptable mistake.”   The Bundeswehr said it was seeking to do a photo-essay on the influence of military uniforms on fashion through the ages but failed to provide the correct historical context in its captions.   The Bundeswehr has over the years repeatedly come under fire over embarrassing associations with Germany’s militaristic past (https://www.timesofisrael.com/german-army-sorry-for-retro-nazi-uniform-post/)

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Global Survey of 18 Countries Finds Hardcore Anti-Semitic Attitudes Remain Pervasive                                                                                 One in four Europeans polled fall into most anti-Semitic category.

Among the 2019 ADL Global 100 Index’s key findings:  Negative attitudes in Argentina, Brazil, Poland, Russia, South Africa and Ukraine have seen marked increases since the last ADL Global 100 survey.  Anti-Semitic attitudes remain pervasive in Europe. Roughly one out of every four residents of the 14 European countries polled by ADL fall into the most anti-Semitic category, subscribing to a majority of the anti-Semitic stereotypes tested in the index.

Stereotypes about Jewish control of business and the financial markets are among the most pernicious and enduring anti-Semitic beliefs.   These are especially widespread in the Central and Eastern European countries surveyed.   Asked whether they agreed with the statement that “Jews have too much power in the business world,” a staggering 72 percent of Ukrainians agreed, as did 71 percent of Hungarians, 56 percent of Poles, and 50 percent of Russians.

Jewish “disloyalty” is a widespread anti-Semitic stereotype in the Western European countries surveyed. In Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain, more than 40 percent of the public believes that Jews are more loyal to the State of Israel than to their own country.   This canard also scored high in Brazil (70 percent), South Africa (60 percent), and relatively high in Canada (25 percent) compared to its overall index score of 8 percent.

“Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust” was a statement supported by large segments of the populations of many of the European countries polled, even in Germany, where 42 percent of the population agreed.   This sentiment was also prevalent in Austria (44 percent), Belgium (40 percent) Italy (38 percent) and Spain (37 percent).(https://www.adl.org/news/press-releases/adl-global-survey-of-18-countries-finds-hardcore-anti-semitic-attitudes-remain)

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Zimbabwe ‘on brink of man-made starvation’, UN warns               (BBC, 28 Nov 2019) 

More than 60% of the country’s 14 million people are considered food-insecure, according to the findings.  Hyperinflation, poverty, natural disasters and economic sanctions were among the identified causes.  Women and children were “bearing the brunt of the crisis” with 90% of children aged six months to two years not consuming enough food.  Hilal Elver, the UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food, reported her findings following an 11-day visit to the country.  “I cannot stress enough the urgency of the situation in Zimbabwe,” she said, adding that the crisis continues to worsen.   She said many of the people she met could only afford one meal a day and that most of the children she met were stunted and underweight.  “The harrowing stories I heard from resilient grandmothers, mothers or aunts desperately trying to save their children from starvation, in the midst of their daily hardships, will remain with me.”

She also noted Zimbabwe was among the four highest food-insecure nations, alongside conflict-ravaged countries.(https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-50586514)

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SOUTHERN BAPTISTS CHANGE ON ABORTION

To Christians, there are few issues more important than fighting against abortion.  The millions of unborn children are made in the image of God, making it personal to Christians.

And millions of American might switch churches after what one denomination said about abortion.

If one were to ask virtually any Southern Baptist churchgoer, they would be strongly against abortion and supportive of the fight to end it.

But as it turns out, the Southern Baptist Convention doesn’t agree with that sentiment.

The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), which is the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, just came out stating that Christians should not preach against abortion from the pulpit, on the street corner, or in bumper stickers or social media posts.

They claim that it is “hurtful to women.”   (Culture wars, 11/19)

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LETTER FROM A UK FRIEND

“Channel 4 hosted a leaders debate on climate change yesterday. Boris Johnson. and Nigel Farage did not appear, and their vacant podiums sported ice sculptures instead.   The problem is that Boris is not good responding to tough questioning.   Boris is being shielded from scrutiny as much as possible, he may feel that he’s ‘Churchill like’ but in reality he’s no orator.   In contrast Jeremy Corbyn is a rabble-rouser and whips an audience up to ‘cheers and chanting.’ Very popular with younger voters too.   The Election is for Boris to lose.   According to the opinion polls his lead is slipping back.   I’m fearing another hung parliament.”

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EU DECLARES “CLIMATE EMERGENCY”

The European Parliament declared a “climate emergency,” by a vote of 429 to 225.   The decision is symbolic but important (the European Union is the world’s largest economy) ahead of the UN climate summit to be held in Madrid next week.  The incoming head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has promised a package of ambitious green measures on December 11th.   (The Economist, 11/29)

Britain’s ruling Conservative Party reacted furiously after Channel 4, a national broadcaster, replaced the prime minister with an ice sculpture during a debate on climate change.   While most other leaders of Britain’s main political parties took part, Boris Johnson refused.  The editor of Channel 4 News accused Mr. Johnson of trying to avoid scrutiny during the election campaign “like Donald Trump.”  (Economist, 11/29)

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Italy busts neo-Nazi ring, ‘Miss Hitler’ pageant winner

Prosecutors in Sicily have announced 19 arrests, exposing a nationwide network of would-be fascist militants.  Police have uncovered weapons, explosives, and extremist propaganda in a series of raids.

Italian police have arrested at least 19 people in connection with a militant neo-Nazi ring, national media reported on Thursday. Although the investigation was based in Sicily, several of the suspects hail from all over the country.   One of the arrested included a 26-year-old Milan resident who had been the winner of an online beauty competition called “Miss Hitler.”   She also spoke at an extreme-right conference in Portugal last August that attempted to unite the so-called “National Socialist movements” of Italy, Portugal, Spain, and France.

During the operation, led by prosecutors in Caltanissetta, Sicily, and dubbed “Black Shadows,” police undercovered troves of weapons, explosives, Nazi memorabilia and texts praising fascist dictators Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, in a series of raids carried out across Italy.
   On top of possible weapons charges, promoting fascism is a crime in Italy.
   The supposed leader of the group is a 50-year-old public employee from the city of Padua, in the northeastern region of Veneto.   She was not known to authorities prior to her detention, police have said, adding that they recovered anti-Semitic material at her home.
   Another suspect is an offender with multiple convictions and ties to the ‘Ndrangheta, the elusive Calabrian mafia, one of the richest organized crime syndicates in the world and by some estimates responsible for 3% of Italy’s GDP.   The man, Italian media said, had turned informant for the police against the mafia but was apparently acting as the chief “trainer” for the violence the neo-Nazi group hoped to carry out.   Specific center-left politicians were named as possible targets.
   The group used a Russian chat app to communicate and try to avoid detection, Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported.   A Russian social media platform called VK was also used to host the “Miss Hitler” competition.(https://www.dw.com/en/italy-busts-neo-nazi-ring-miss-hitler-pageant-winner/a-51458025)

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TO THE POINT

  • CHINA FINANCIAL WARNINGS                                                                    From rural bank runs to surging consumer indebtedness and an unprecedented bond restructuring, mounting signs of financial stress in China are putting the nation’s policy makers to the test. Xi Jinping’s government faces an increasingly difficult balancing act as it tries to support the world’s second-largest economy without encouraging moral hazard and reckless spending.   While authorities have so far been reluctant to rescue troubled borrowers and ramp up stimulus, the costs of maintaining that stance are rising as defaults increase and China’s slowdown deepens.  (China financial warning; Bloomberg, 11/28/2019)
  • HONG KONG IN REVOLT                                                                            “When Mao Zedong’s guerrillas seized power in China in 1949, they did not take over a clearly defined country, much less an entirely willing one.   Hong Kong was ruled by the British, nearby Macau by the Portuguese.   Taiwan was under the control of a Nationalist government Mao had just overthrown.   The mountain terrain of Tibet was under a Buddhist theocracy that chafed at control from Beijing.   Communist troops had yet to enter another immense region in the far west, Xinjiang, where Muslim ethnic groups did not want to be ruled from afar.”  (“Hong Kong in revolt,” The Economist, 11/23/2019).
  • Applying pressure on China is the top priority for the newly elected German EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. She announced that, on Sunday – her first day in office – she plans to call Beijing to discuss “human rights.”   The People’s Republic of China is being accused of human rights violations in the context of its “war on terror” against jihadism in Xinjiang province.  The German chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, David McAllister (CDU) announced that the EU Parliament also plans to discuss the situation in Xinjiang, in its upcoming plenary session (December 16 – 19). In Berlin, the transatlantic-oriented opposition plans to call for sanctions to be imposed on either Chinese politicians or Chinese high-tech-companies, already affected by US sanctions. Commentators in the USA, as well as in Germany, are equating China with Nazi Germany. According to a former liberal-oriented German daily, “there can be no long-term peaceful coexistence” with the People’s Republic of China.   (German Foreign Policy, 11/29/2019)
  • ZAMBIAN COUPLE GET 15 YEARS FOR SEXUAL ACT                      A homosexual couple has been given 15 years for a crime “against the natural order,” citing the fact that they are a very religious Christian country.   They also happen to have one of the highest incidents of HIV in the world, reflecting widespread immorality. They should take a look at I Corinthians 6.  Fornication, adultery and sodomy are all condemned equally, a fact that Zambian churches have failed to notice.  In Africa, AIDS is invariably a heterosexual disease.
  •  A video has emerged from the Nato summit in London, which appears to show Boris Johnson,  Justin Trudeau, Emmanuel Macron, Princess Anne and the Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, laughing about the US president during a reception at Buckingham Palace.   The meeting to mark the 70th anniversary of the Nato alliance began inauspiciously, with tensions on full display between Macron, Trump and Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.    It seems that other countries are more likely to ridicule Mr Trump, expecting that he will be impeached next year.
  • PRINCE ANDREW                                                                                                    As a former navy pilot, Prince Andrew would normally be present at a Nato shindig, but the disgraced duke has been stripped of his duties, leaving his mother to host the reception.  Meanwhile, Trump’s claim not to know Andrew is contradicted by extensive photographic evidence.  (Guardian, 12/4)

 

 

 

THE EU IS BUILDING AN EMPIRE

Farage:   The EU Is ‘Building an Empire. Why Deny It?’

12 “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. 13 These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast. 14 These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.” (Revelation 17:12-14)

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has criticized senior Eurocrat Guy Verhofstadt for praising the new “world order” of “empires,” but said it was time to be straight about Brussels’ intentions to build a new European Empire.  The Brexit Party leader condemned the remarks of Verhofstadt, who said during the Liberal Democrat conference on Saturday:   “The world order of tomorrow is not a world order based on nation-states, on countries — it’s a world order that is based on empires.”  “The world of tomorrow is a world of empires, in which we Europeans, and you British, can only defend your interests, your way of life, by doing it together, in a European framework, and in European union,” he added.   The Belgian politician, leader of the left-progressive Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe (ALDE) in the European Parliament, had called in May for the European Union to become an empire “capable of defending our interests,” but is not the first EU politician to do so.  In 2007, former President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso had praised the EU “empire,” saying:   “Sometimes I like to compare the EU as a creation to the organization of empire.   We have the dimension of empire.”

Mr. Farage evoked the former Commission chief’s words while criticizing Verhofstadt on his LBC radio show on Monday, saying an EU empire “is where they are going.”   “That is what they want because Barroso, one of the previous bosses of the European Commission, he said:   ‘We’re building the first ever non-militaristic empire.’   “They’re building an empire.  Why deny it?”  Mr. Farage asked.

To go with this empire, the EU is also building its own military, after the majority of its member states signed the Permanent Structured Cooperation process, or PESCO, in November 2017, which is key to the European Defense Union plans set out by outgoing President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, who called for a “fully fledged” EU army by 2025.

And while Verhofstadt had called for an empire “capable of defending our interests,” French President Emmanuel Macron made the extraordinary claim in November 2018 that the bloc needs a “real European army” in order to “protect our interests.”

The French progressive politician’s call for a “real European army” was backed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr. Verhofstadt, and the most powerful of the Brussels bodies, the European Commission.   Two month later, Germany’s then-defense minister Ursula von der Leyen said that “Europe’s army is already taking shape.”

Mr. Farage criticized Mrs. von der Leyen, now President-Elect of the European Commission, in July as a “fanatic for building a European army” and accused her of readying to lead a European Union that seeks to “take control of every single aspect of our lives.”   “She wants to build a centralized, undemocratic, updated form of Communism where nation state parliaments will cease to have any relevance at all,” he warned.   (Breibart, 9/17)

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GERMANY’S SEARCH FOR A NEW DIPLOMATIC MAP

Being in charge of German foreign policy is a tough assignment these days — not just in Warsaw but in countries around the world.

Over the past few years, Berlin has watched with growing despair as friends have turned into foes and old certainties have dissolved into doubt.   A new breed of nationalist leader holds sway in capitals from Budapest and Warsaw to Rome and Washington, sounding a note of hostility and antagonism towards Berlin.   For reasons both economic and political, Germany’s relationships with key powers such as China, Russia and Turkey are marked by growing tensions.

At the same time, the dense web of alliances that has characterized German foreign policy for decades — and that underpinned the country’s postwar success — is under strain as never before:   NATO has descended into bitter recriminations over burden-sharing, leading many Germans to wonder how much longer the US will remain committed to the defense of Europe.   The EU itself, meanwhile, is riven by splits between north and south and east and west, and exhausted from the never-ending struggle over Brexit. The UK no longer counts as a reliable ally, and the relationship with France is going through a phase of barely-concealed irritation.  One by one, the fixed stars that have guided German foreign policy for generations have started to dim.   (Tobias Buck, Financial Times, 23rd April)

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GERMAN “LUST FOR POWER”

The future EU Commission should play a “geopolitical” role and provide the Union with a leading position in global policy, confirmed Commission President Elect Ursula von der Leyen, whose team, according to observers, shows a newfound “lust for power.”   Von der Leyen’s plans for the coming five years are very much in line with Berlin’s plans to position the Union as an independent global power between the USA and China.   French President Emmanuel Macron shares this project and – in view of the escalating conflict between Washington and Beijing – cautions that, if it fails, all influence on global policy would be lost.   Influential German business circles opine that a German-European intermediate position cannot be avoided.   Otherwise they would lose business with China and suffer severe setbacks.   According to transatlantic circles, however, sooner or later, Berlin and Brussels will not be able to avoid siding with Washington.  (German Foreign Policy, 9/17)

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GERMAN SUPPORT FOR HK DEMO

Monday evening, activist Joshua Wong arrived in Berlin from Hong Kong for talks with German politicians, including Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.   Wong represents an opposition party that calls for a referendum, including a vote on Hong Kong’s future secession from China.   Just before his trip to Berlin, demonstrators rallied on Sunday in front of the US consulate in Hong Kong calling on US President Trump to intervene in their favor with the city authorities. Already since March, high-ranking members of Hong Kong’s opposition have repeatedly visited Washington for talks with US Vice President Mike Pence and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Berlin is now following suit and receiving leaders of the Hong Kong protests for talks with top government officials.   Washington is preparing new legislation for sanctions providing for punitive measures against Chinese officials and putting Hong Kong’s special economic status into question.   Billions in German business transactions are also at risk.   (German Foreign Policy)

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With its professionally choreographed reception of Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong, Berlin is presenting itself to the international public as the Chinese opposition’s foreign hub.   Wong was personally welcomed in Berlin by the Foreign Minister, and he demanded at the Federal Press Conference that action be taken against China.   Germany has already granted asylum to two other dissidents from Hong Kong, who had been calling for the city’s secession from China and have been indicted for their participation in riots.   For decades, Uighur separatist associations have had their foreign operational base in the Federal Republic of Germany, including one accused of participating in preparations of the pogrom-like riots, which claimed the lives of nearly 200 people. German politicians are supporting Tibetan separatists as well – seeing them as a point of leverage for weakening the People’s Republic of China.   A Chinese writer, who called China a “pile of garbage,” was awarded the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade. (German Foreign Policy)

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FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN RETREAT

On June 22nd there was an alleged coup attempt in Ethiopia.   The army chief of staff was murdered, as was the president of Amhara, one of the country’s nine regions.   Ordinary Ethiopians were desperate to find out what was going on.   And then the government shut down the internet.   By midnight some 98% of Ethiopia was offline.

“People were getting distorted news and were getting very confused about what was happening . . . at that very moment there was no information at all,” recalls Gashaw Fentahun, a journalist at the Amhara Mass Media Agency, a state-owned outlet.   He and his colleagues were trying to file a report.   Rather than uploading audio and video files digitally, they had to send them to head office by plane, causing a huge delay.

Last year 25 governments imposed internet blackouts.   Choking off connectivity infuriates people and kneecaps economies.   Yet autocrats think it worthwhile, usually to stop information from circulating during a crisis.

This month the Indian government shut down the internet in disputed Kashmir – for the 51st time this year.   “There is no news, nothing,” says Aadil Ganie, a Kashmiri stuck in Delhi, adding that he does not even know where his family is because phones are blocked, too.   In recent months Sudan shut down social media to prevent protesters from organising; Congo’s regime switched off mobile networks so it could rig an election in the dark; and Chad nobbled social media to silence protests against the president’s plan to stay in power until 2033.

“Free speech is hard won and easily lost. Only a year ago it flowered in Ethiopia, under a supposedly liberal new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed.   All the journalists in jail were released, and hundreds of websites, blogs and satellite TV channels were unblocked.   But now the regime is having second thoughts.   Without a dictatorship to suppress it, ethnic violence has flared.   Bigots have incited ethnic cleansing on newly free social media.   Nearly 3m Ethiopians have been driven from their homes.

Ethiopia faces a genuine emergency, and many Ethiopians think it reasonable for the government to silence those who advocate violence.   But during the alleged coup it did far more than that – in effect it silenced everyone.   As Befekadu Haile, a journalist and activist, put it:   “In the darkness, the government told all the stories.” (The Economist, 8/17)

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CANADIAN THREAT TO FREEDOM OF SPEECH

In a three-pronged blow to freedom of speech, Canada’s Trudeau government in May signed the “Christchurch Call to Action” – a government-led drive for more censorship; then launched a “Digital Charter,” much of it dealing with “hate speech and disinformation;” and in June, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights issued recommendations to the government for the fight against “online hatred,” increasing funding for law enforcement, crown attorneys and judges, and to “educate the population.”   (Nina Rosenwald, Gatestone, 8/15)

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THE LOST ART OF AMERICAN DIPLOMACY

The neglect and distortion of American diplomacy is not a purely Trumpian invention.   It has been an episodic feature of the United States’ approach to the world since the end of the Cold War.   The Trump administration, however, has made the problem infinitely worse.   There is never a good time for diplomatic malpractice, but the administration’s unilateral diplomatic disarmament is spectacularly mistimed, unfolding precisely at a moment when American diplomacy matters more than ever to American interests. The United States is no longer the only big kid on the geopolitical block, and no longer able get everything it wants on its own, or by force alone.

Although the era of singular U.S. dominance on the world stage is over, the United States still has a better hand to play than any of its rivals.   The country has a window of opportunity to lock in its role as the world’s pivotal power, the one best placed to shape a changing international landscape before others shape it first.   If the United States is to seize that opportunity and safeguard its interests and values, it will have to rebuild American diplomacy and make it the tool of first resort, backed up by economic and military leverage and the power of example. (William J. Burns, “The lost art of American diplomacy,” Foreign Policy, May-June issue)

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STRAIT OF HORMUZ – STILL WORLD’S MOST IMPORTANT SEA-GATE

The Strait of Hormuz links the majority of the world’s people who live along the shores of Asia and East Africa to the heart of the Middle East.   Long before the discovery of oil, it was the world’s carotid artery.   Cut off the blood supply almost anywhere else and the world would adapt. Here, however, an interruption could be fatal:    90 percent of oil exported from the Gulf, about 20 percent of the world’s supply, passes through Hormuz. Shipping through the strait, which is a mere 21 nautical miles wide at its narrowest point, is concentrated and hazardous.   In Musandam, the Omani exclave on the strait’s southern side, you can hear Persian radio from Iran as often as Arabic.   Along the rocky shorelines, islets and peninsulas thrust precipitously into the sky.   Heat, humidity, and a scorching wind make the climate inhospitable; many mountain ranges and valleys near Hormuz remain sparsely inhabited.   (“Why the Strait if Hormuz is still the world’s most important chokepoint,” Allen James Fromherz, Foreign Affairs, 7/17)

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SAUDI ARABIA AND IRAN HEADING FOR WAR

Less than 24 hours after a major attack by at least 10 drones or cruise missiles on key Saudi oil facilities, the rhetoric in the Middle East is heating up, and the region appears to be on the brink of conflict.

After US President Donald Trump spoke to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said there was “no evidence” the large attack came from Yemen.

This now means that Saudi Arabia, which is investigating how the attack happened, is positioned to defend itself, but must choose wisely how.

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POPE APPOINTS LIBERAL CARDINALS

Pope Francis’ unexpected announcement this past Sunday that he would appoint 13 new cardinals to the College of Cardinals strengthens his grip on the Catholic Church and solidifies a liberal majority to select the next pope.

Since assuming the seat of St. Peter in 2013, Francis has been assiduously stacking the College of Cardinals with supporters, ones that will not only back his revisions to Church teachings, but choose his successor.

With his Sunday pronouncement, Francis will have picked 67 new members of the College of Cardinals, giving his backers a clear majority for the first time. Of the remaining members, 42 were selected by Benedict and 19 by John Paul II.

Francis’ new majority will also set a new tone, one in keeping with Francis’ desire that the Church move its focus away from tradition to one that is more active in secular politics, advocating such positions as socialist economic policies, environmental responsibility, immigrant rights, and diplomacy toward Islam.

On matters of doctrine, the Pope has sought to move the faith to one that accepts alternative lifestyles, including gays and lesbians, and eases restrictions of Catholics who have been divorced.   (Newsmax, 9/14)

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Pope Francis invites religious, political leaders to sign ‘Global Pact’ for ‘new humanism’

ROME, September 13, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — In a renewed and enthusiastic endorsement of globalism, Pope Francis has announced he is hosting an initiative for a “Global Pact” to create a “new humanism.”    The global event, set to take place at the Vatican on May 14, 2020, is themed Reinventing the Global Educational Alliance.   According to a Vatican statement issued on Thursday, Sept. 12, the Pope is inviting representatives of the main religions, international organizations and various humanitarian institutions, as well as key figures from the world of politics, economics and academia, and prominent athletes, scientists and sociologists to sign a “Global Pact on Education” so as to “hand on to younger generations a united and fraternal common home.”   “A global educational pact is needed to educate us in universal solidarity and a new humanism,” Francis said in a video message to launch the initiative.   In a strikingly secular message containing only one throw-away reference to the Lord, Pope Francis called on people to “capitalize on our best energies” and to be “proactive” in “opening education to a long-term vision unfettered by the status quo.”

Referencing the “Document on Human Fraternity and World Peace for Living Together,” which he signed with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in Abu Dhabi last February, Francis explained that, in this new global village, “the ground must be cleared of discrimination and fraternity must be allowed to flourish.”   The Abu Dhabi document aroused controversy for stating that the “diversity of religions” is “willed by God.”   (https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pope-francis-global-education-pact)

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AIM TO END CHINESE ROLE IN DARWIN

In 2015, the Northern Territory Government announced Chinese company Landbridge had been awarded a 99-year lease of Darwin port in a $500 million deal.   Concerns over Beijing’s steady military build-up in the Indo-Pacific region have since prompted renewed concerns about the foreign ownership of Australia’s northern-most port.

At top-level talks in Sydney over the weekend, the Australian Government again joined the United States in expressing alarm over reports China is moving to establish a new military base in a Cambodian port.

Mr. Champion, who is the deputy chair of Federal Parliament’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee, believes the Commonwealth should now consider buying Darwin Port back.

“It’s a very important port because we have significant defence facilities in the Northern Territory and that’s the part of the world I guess we have to pay a great deal of attention to,” he said.

“We should look pretty clearly at making sure that that port is in government hands, and it’s for those reasons I think it should be nationalised.” (Andrew Greene, 8/4, ABC Australian Broadcasting Company)

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INTERNATIONAL PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS

“Christian persecution ‘at near genocide levels,'” the title of a May 3 BBC report, cites a lengthy interim study ordered by British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and led by Rev. Philip Mounstephen, the Bishop of Truro.

According to the BBC report, one in three people around the world suffer from religious persecution, with Christians being “the most persecuted religious group.”   “Religion ‘is at risk of disappearing’ in some parts of the world,” it noted, and “in some regions, the level and nature of persecution is arguably coming close to meeting the international definition of genocide, according to that adopted by the UN.”

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is also quoted on why Western governments have been “asleep” — his word — concerning this growing epidemic:

“I think there is a misplaced worry that it is somehow colonialist to talk about a religion [Christianity] that was associated with colonial powers rather than the countries that we marched into as colonisers.   That has perhaps created an awkwardness in talking about this issue – the role of missionaries was always a controversial one and that has, I think, also led some people to shy away from this topic.”

Whatever the merits of such thinking, the fact is that many of the world’s most persecuted Christians have nothing whatsoever to do with colonialism or missionaries.   Those most faced with the threat of genocide – including Syria’s and Iraq’s Assyrians or Egypt’s Copts – were Christian several centuries before the ancestors of Europe’s colonizers became Christian and went missionizing.

The BBC report highlights “political correctness” as being especially responsible for the West’s indifference, and quotes Hunt again in this regard:   “What we have forgotten in that atmosphere of political correctness is actually the Christians that are being persecuted are some of the poorest people on the planet.” (“Genocide of Christians reaches ‘alarming stage,’” Gatestone)

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TO THE POINT

  • I’m amazed at the patience of the British people in waiting for Brexit. The majority voted for it over three years ago and it still hasn’t happened.   Maybe they should learn a lesson from their former colony of Hong Kong.   Massive demonstrations over the last three months got the HK government (and China) to back down on proposed legislation that would have given China greater control over the judicial process in the former colony.
  • It’s very interesting seeing the demonstrations in Hong Kong.   The demonstrators have been singing “God save the Queen.”   Clearly, being a colony wasn’t all bad.
  • A significant number of doctors and other medical personnel come from overseas, from countries much poorer than ours.   We are, in effect, stealing doctors from poor countries, leaving them with inadequate medical attention.   It’s time for a rethink.
  • ‘Exit polls suggested that Israel’s general election was too close to call, with Binyamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party taking 30-33 of 120 parliamentary seats and the centrist Blue and White Party, led by Benny Gantz, with 32-34.   That could make Avigdor Lieberman, a former defence minister, the kingmaker, with his far-right Yisrael Beitenu crucial to the formation of a coalition.’   (The Economist, 9/19)
  • Condoleeza Rice has called for the restoration of freedom of speech. Pointing out on CBS’s Face the Nation that half the people deny the other half the freedom to express themselves, she added that “as soon as the word ‘racist’ is used, that’s the end of the discussion.”   It’s more sensible to let people have their say.    Let everybody express themselves.   We used to be proud of our tradition of freedom of speech – let’s return to it.

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has finally died, age 95.   As a Catholic, Mr Mugabe believes he is now in purgatory.   This is highly appropriate because that’s exactly where he’s put the people of Zimbabwe!

 

DEATH OF QUEEN VICTORIA

No, I’m not late bringing you the news!

Rather, I’ve just read “Last Days of Glory,” by Tony Rennell (published in 2000).

The book answers any questions you might have about the death of Queen Victoria, in January 1901.   To my knowledge, hers was the biggest funeral service in history, befitting a woman who was the “Grandmama of Europe” and the most powerful woman in the world. If she had lived, World War One might have been avoided. The German Kaiser was her grandson and was present at her death and subsequent funeral.   By all accounts, he was on his best behavior and was well received by his Uncle Edward, Victoria’s son and successor, who also died before 1914.

 

She wasn’t England’s greatest monarch (that description belongs to Queen Elizabeth I), but she was by far the most influential, giving her name to an age. The Victorian Era carries connotations to this day.

 

Interestingly, President McKinley ordered the flag atop the White House (then known as the Executive Mansion), to fly at half-staff when he heard the news of her death, the first time this had been done for a foreign leader. He also attended a memorial service for her in Washington DC.

In reading of her life, I was reminded of a scripture in the Book of Proverbs, that “Righteousness exalts a nation” (Prov. 14:34).   Britain was exalted during the Victorian era, above all the other nations on earth.   Her empire was the greatest in history, ruling over one quarter of the peoples on earth.   She had the greatest navy in the world, giving her command of the seas.

Contributory factors were the abolition of slavery (in 1833).   There was a four-year transition period, at the end of which Victoria became Queen.   She was seen as a Liberator throughout her life.   Another contributing factor was her exemplary married life – during her short marriage to Prince Albert, they had nine children and were known to be a very happy couple.   This was in stark contrast to her two predecessors on the throne.

There’s no wonder more cities and towns around the world are named Victoria.   She reigned almost 64 years.   She left behind a country that has, sadly, rejected all the values she held dear.

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BRITISH EMPIRE FACTOID

“On the eve of the Second World War, Britain’s Colonial Empire was made up of 45 territories, 2 million square miles and 50 million inhabitants.   All but 300,000 square miles of the Empire was in tropical Africa, where there were no less than 14 territories, all of them staffed by members of the Colonial Service.” (Introduction, “Tales from the Dark Continent,” edited by Charles Allen, 1979)

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TRUMP’S UPSETTING WORDS

When President Trump told four congresswomen to “go back where you came from” and accused them of having anti-American ideas, he had a point.   First and second generation immigrants bring in alien ideas, which can be upsetting.

When I worked for an African government, my wife and I lived quite comfortably on one salary.   When a native African took over, he could not.   The reason is the extended family.   Whereas I only had to support my wife and I, plus our baby daughter, he had 300 members of his extended family to support – brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles.

No wonder the first generation of African leaders asked for bribes to do their jobs, it was the only way they could support all those people.

In Ghana, my wife had a friend from the UK who had married a Ghanaian man.   She used to get very frustrated and angry at all the hangers on, family members who would turn up at all hours of the day and night to ask for money.   Her husband no doubt had to supplement his income in order to survive.

The extended family system is very much a part of African culture.  It is similar to socialism, whereby the guy at the top distributes largesse to everybody according to his will.   As Mrs. Margaret Thatcher put it so well:   “The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other peoples’ money.”   Whether it’s your own money or the tax-payers, eventually the funds will be exhausted.

Far better for each person to take care of himself and his own family. This was the foundation of Anglo-Saxon supremacy,

“If a man doesn’t work, neither should he eat” (II Thess 3:10).   I Timothy 5:8 adds:   “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

But the root of the “squad’s” thinking is the extended family system, correctly described by the president as “an un-American idea.”

With immigration (and even the second and third generation) the idea will grow in numbers, changing America significantly.

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WAR WITHOUT END

“For nation (Greek “ethnos” = ethnic group) shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” (Matthew 24:7)

“When he slipped out of consciousness, Batsi Lokana watched the militiamen who had attacked him slice off his mother’s head.   When he came to, her body was gone.  “Either they ate her, or they threw her into the river,” he surmises from his hospital bed in Bunia, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ituri province.   Given Ituri’s history of gore, it is not a far-fetched conclusion.   The past two decades have seen civil war, mass killings, systematic gang rape and a vile scramble for loot.   For some militias, cannibalism is just another way to terrify one’s enemies.

“Last month saw a reprise of the violence, as Ituri’s cattle-herding Hema and seed-sowing Lendu ethnic groups again turned on each other.   Armed men emptied villages, burned down houses, hacked bits off their occupants and ripped the fetus out of at least one woman.   A mass grave found in the village of Tche contained 161 bodies, babies and small children among them.”   (“Ituri’s injuries,” The Economist, July 13th)

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EUROPE ELECTS FIRST FEMALE PRESIDENT

STRASBOURG — The European Parliament on Tuesday elected Ursula von der Leyen as the next president of the European Commission — the first woman to hold the EU’s top executive job.

Von der Leyen, from the center-right European People’s Party, served most recently as German defense minister and is a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel.  She will be the first German to lead the EU in more than a half-century, since Walter Hallstein served from 1958 to 1967.

Von der Leyen won 383 votes in a secret ballot, just slightly above the absolute majority of 374 she required to be elected — and far short of the 422 votes cast in favor of current Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in 2014.   There were 327 votes in opposition, 22 abstentions and one vote declared invalid.  (Politico.eu 7/16)

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“The Fourth Reich:   The Specter of Nazism from World War II to the Present

 Amazon books:

Ever since the collapse of the Third Reich, anxieties have persisted about Nazism’s revival in the form of a Fourth Reich.   Gavriel D. Rosenfeld reveals, for the first time, these postwar nightmares of a future that never happened and explains what they tell us about Western political, intellectual, and cultural life.  He shows how postwar German history might have been very different without the fear of the Fourth Reich as a mobilizing idea to combat the right-wing forces that genuinely threatened the country’s democratic order.   He then explores the universalization of the Fourth Reich by left-wing radicals in the 1960s, its transformation into a source of pop culture entertainment in the 1970s, and its embrace by authoritarian populists and neo-Nazis seeking to attack the European Union since the year 2000.   This is a timely analysis of a concept that is increasingly relevant in an era of surging right-wing politics.

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PLANS FOR THE [German Army] BUNDESWEHR
The relentlessly fighting AfD army
by VON PETER CARSTENS:  Political correspondent in Berlin,          10 July, 2019

The AfD* calls for a “strong military force” with “relentless” soldiers and a leadership role in Europe.    Their plans for the Bundeswehr are reminiscent of old times.  It would create a state in the state.  An analysis.

Some sympathizers of the AFD have come to the party because the Union has failed to take care of traditional conservatives.

They see themselves as patriotic people who love their country, respect the Basic Law and defend it if necessary with the weapon in hand.   This also applies to the Bundeswehr, which was neglected for years.

For a quarter of a century, from the Urals to the Atlantic, central European politics barely saw any territorial threat in the midst of its great peace project, which would have to be met militarily.  There remained peace operations and disaster relief to justify the existence of the Bundeswehr.

But times have changed.   Germany has been investing more in equipment, training and readiness for five years now.   It will, however, take time for the worst deficits to be balanced.   After all, it was possible in the late autumn to bring about 10,000 well-equipped soldiers and their vehicles and everything else for several weeks to Norway for the NATO maneuver “Trident Juncture” [Google machine translation].    (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 10th July)

* The AfD (Alternative for Deutschland) is the right wing opposition party in Germany.)

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COUNTER-MEASURES TO US SANCTIONS

(Own report) – Berlin and Brussels are weighing countermeasures to the Trump administration’s growing number of extraterritorial sanctions.   The US government is seeking to globally enforce its unilaterally imposed sanctions to bind other countries, including allies, to its foreign policy course.   The sanctions against Iran are the most prominent example.   They also made German business with Iran largely impossible.   Washington first implemented extraterritorial sanctions in the mid-1990s, but finally reached agreement with the EU not to enforce them against European companies.   This was changed during the Obama administration, when it amassed billions in fines from banks in the EU.   The Trump administration has expanded the extraterritorial sanctions to include Russia and Cuba.   Following the failure of the INSTEX financial vehicle, German government advisors are proposing that legal action be taken in US courts.   Now, “asymmetric countermeasures” are also being discussed.   (German Foreign Policy, July 11th)

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UNDOING THE PAST

PRUSSIAN MONARCHY HEIRS SEEK RESTITUTION OF ARTIFACTS FROM GERMAN STATE                                            Hohenzollerns want property and artworks lost after two world wars and Soviet occupation                                                                                        Guardian UK, 12 July 2019

Negotiations have been ongoing “for several years” between the Hohenzollern family, the federal government and the states of Berlin and Brandenburg over the aristocrats’ demand for restitution.  “The talks … are aimed at finding a lasting solution for different art and collection objects, which are valued differently by the public institutions on the one hand and the Hohenzollern House on the other hand,” said the culture ministry in a statement.   According to Der Spiegel, the Hohenzollerns are seeking the restitution of tens of thousands of paintings, sculptures, coins, books and furniture.  Further, they want a right to reside at one of several properties, including Cecilienhof Palace, where Allied powers met after second world war to decide on Germany’s future.

The restitution negotiations were spearheaded by Georg Friedrich Ferdinand, the great-great grandchild of Wilhelm II, the last emperor and king of Prussia, who was deposed and went into exile after Germany’s defeat in the first world war.   The Prussian royals were initially stripped of their properties without compensation after the monarchy was overthrown, but a deal on the monarchy’s assets was later brokered between the state and the Hohenzollerns under a 29 October 1926 law.    However, Soviet occupation following the second world war and the subsequent communist rule in half of Berlin and in the state of Brandenburg led to additional expropriations, further complicating things.

“The negotiations are about legal ambiguities in the agreement, but also with legal positions that have changed as a result of the subsequent historical events, in particular the measures of the Soviet occupying power and the government of the German Democratic Republic,” said the culture ministry.

As a first step, a list of concerned objects has been drawn up that concerns less than 0.1% of the collections in the Prussian Castles and Gardens Foundation in Berlin-Brandenburg, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation and the German Historical Museum.  Nevertheless, a rapid resolution of the talks is unlikely. “At the moment, the positions of the negotiating parties are still very far apart,” said the ministry.

(https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/12/prussian-monarchy-heirs-reclaim-historical-artefacts-from-german-state)

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DUTCH ROYAL FAMILY STEP IN TO SAVE FORMER HOME OF KAISER WILHELM II                                                                                                 Huis Doorn in the Netherlands struggles to attract visitors due to controversial legacy of last German emperor                                        Guardian UK 2018

The Kaiser bought Huis Doorn, his home until his death in June 1941 at the age of 82, from Baroness Ella van Heemstra, the mother of Audrey Hepburn.   Between September 1919 and February 1922, five trains pulling 59 carriages arrived at Zeist station filled with his possessions.

Today those possessions remain largely untouched.  On his deathbed lies a small bunch of snowdrops and a note from his mourning son, Adalbert, who was serving in Hitler’s Wehrmacht when his father died.   Wilhelm’s morning gown hangs in his bedroom, above his fur-trimmed slippers.   A framed postcard from his grandmother, Queen Victoria, takes pride of place.   His cigars sit by an ashtray.

(https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/18/dutch-royal-family-step-in-to-save-former-home-huis-doorn-kaiser-wilhelm-ii)

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MUSLIMS ADD TO INSECURITY

“The BfV has found that all Islamist organizations active in Germany harbor anti-Semitic ideas and disseminate them in various ways. These ideas represent a considerable challenge for peaceful and tolerant coexistence in Germany.” — Annual report of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, BfV), 2019 (Gatestone, 7/17)

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Prominent California Islamists Praise Imam’s Call to Exterminate Jews     by Seth Westrop
Islamist Watch, July 9, 2019

While waiting at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel, following a trip to the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, California imam Ahmed Billoo (also known as Ahmed Ibn Aslam), wrote on his private Facebook account that he was “feeling annoyed” about his location.   He offered a prayer to deal with the surfeit of Jews in the building: “Oh God, reduce their numbers, exterminate them, and don’t leave a single one alive.”   He added the hashtag “Zionists.”

Billoo seemed palpably relieved to arrive in Istanbul the next day, writing “So good to be in a Muslim country” and “#TiredofSeeingZionists.”

Billoo is a prominent cleric in California, and part of a prominent Islamist family.

He works as the religious director at the Islamic Center of Cypress, serves as a “professor” at California Islamic University, and is a teacher at the Institute of Knowledge, a seminary that offers religious advice to Muslim students and trains the next generation of imams.   Its faculty includes prominent clerics from the hardline Salafi and Deboandi strains of Islam. (Middle East Forum, July 9th)

(https://www.meforum.org/58906/california-islamists-praise-imams-call-to-exterminate-jews)

FREEDOM WORE A REDCOAT

It’s appropriate to start the fourth of July with a poster showing at the Museum of the American Revolution, in Philadelphia.

“Sometimes, freedom wore a redcoat,” is the slogan on the poster, showing a redcoat surrounded by African-Americans.

The exhibit highlights the fact that 15,000 African-Americans fought with the Loyalists; while only 5,000 fought for the Patriots.

Even the term “patriots” as against the “Americans” is a step forward in our understanding of the Revolutionary War; this was not a war between Americans and the British, but rather a civil war between two factions of Americans.

After more than 240 years, it’s healthy for Americans to realize this fact, and to appreciate that the war was not as simple as Hollywood (and books) have often made out.

After the conflict, many of the former slaves left for Canada and helped found Sierra Leone.

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LOVE AND HATE IN JAMESTOWN

Of course, the Revolutionary War was not the beginning of America.   There was 170 years of western civilization here before the struggle for independence.

It all began in Jamestown.

The first English settlement in North America began in 1607.  (There was an earlier settlement on Roanoke Island, but it was wiped out.)

Jamestown itself was almost wiped out.   It was a miracle that it survived.

I’ve been reading the book “Love and Hate In Jamestown,” by David A. Price, published in 2003.   On a number of occasions things were going so badly that the settlers wanted to return to England.  One young white man wrote his parents back home begging them to redeem him from indentured servitude, as he didn’t think he would survive the seven years he had to endure.

There is a promising series running on PBS right now titled “Jamestown.”   However, it should not be confused with the facts. The series is very good in conveying the difficulties and challenges of every day life,  but is a fictionalized account  of the English settlement.   However, the series is still one of the best currently showing on American television.

The TV series is in 1619-1620 right now, with the arrival of the first  women and the first African-Americans in 1619 under the governorship of Sir George Yeardley.   The same year saw the beginnings of democracy in the colonies, with the establishment of a parliament (the House of Burgesses).   A major fault of the TV series is that life in Jamestown is seen through the eyes of three women, at a time and in a place where women were few and far between, and irrelevant when it came to decision making. It’s revisionist history, for sure.   More for the 21st century audience than reality.

I am waiting for the uprising, which took place after Yeardley left.  On March 22nd, 1622, one quarter of the colony were slaughtered by the natives, a major turning point in relations between the settlers and the Native Americans.   This was a precursor of the long history of bad relations between the whites and the natives, which went on until the end of the nineteenth century.   The date, March 22nd, was long commemorated throughout Virginia, in remembrance of those who had died.

It’s hard to imagine the heartbreak of those early years.   Pocahontas died before she was due to leave England with her husband.   He had to leave their two-year-old son behind, as he was too fragile to make the Atlantic crossing.   Having lost his mother, he never saw his father again.   He was eventually raised by his uncle.

In his last chapter, Mr. Price, who lives in the Washington DC area, looks at the Pilgrims and the Mayflower.   Of interest was his account of the religious persecution of the Pilgrims.   He relates how the Puritans wanted a ban on sports and the theater on “the Sabbath” (Sunday).   “In 1618 King James overruled local Puritan magistrates who attempted to ban Sabbath day sports.   “When shall the common people have leave to exercise,” he demanded, “if not upon Sundays and holidays, seeing they must apply their labor, and win their living, in all working days.”

“On the scale of European religious repression, King James’s treatment of the Puritans was relatively mild.   At his behest, the bishops of the Church of England fired around ninety of the most conspicuous Puritan ministers from Anglican churches.   He banned the worship services of a breakaway group, dissenters within the dissenters, known as the Separatists.   On the other hand, his sponsorship of a new Bible translation, now known as the King James Bible, came at the suggestion of a prominent Puritan clergyman; several Puritans were also on the team of translators.

“In any event, a group of 125 Separatists left England for Amsterdam in 1608.”   (“Love and Hate In Jamestown,” David A. Price. pages 223-224, 2003.)

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PERVERSE THINKING

“Politicians are granting free healthcare to illegal immigrants, while fining Americans for not having health insurance.”   (“The state has become our nation’s real God,” by Gary DeMar, New American Vision)

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EU CHANGE OF LEADERS

It’s difficult to predict what’s going to happen in Europe right now.

The EU’s top officials are being replaced.   Not democratically, of course.   But their terms are up, so there’s going to be change.

Most significant so far are Ursula von der Leyen and Christine Lagarde.   They have won the top two posts.   Ursula von der Leyen had a mixed record as Germany’s Defense Minister.   Christine Lagarde was the head of the IMF.

CNN reported 7/3:    “Europe’s leaders have agreed to give two of the top four European Union jobs to women, but only after a marathon set of talks that exposed the continent’s simmering divisions.

“German defense minister Ursula Von Der Leyen emerged as nominee for president of the European Commission, and International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde, who is French, was put forward for the presidency of the European Central Bank.

“Von Der Leyen’s role must be confirmed by a vote in the European Parliament.    If elected, she would be the first woman to lead the European Commission.   Lagarde will be the first woman to head the bloc’s central bank.

“Outgoing European Council president Donald Tusk called the appointments “a perfect gender balance.”” (Bryony Jones)

 

 

 

 

SUICIDES UP IN US, DOWN GLOBALLY

“The suicide rate in America is up by 18% since 2000.  This is not merely a tragedy; it matters politically, too.   The rise is largely among white, middle-aged, poorly educated men in areas that were left behind by booms and crushed by busts.   Their deaths are a symptom of troubles to which some see President Trump as the answer. Those troubles should not be ignored.”   (“Staying alive,” The Economist,11/24)

Suicide is declining pretty much all over the world, thanks to greater freedom and some helpful policies.” (“Defeating despair,” The Economist, 11/24).

“Globally, the rate has fallen by 38% from its peak in 1994.”

LIFE EXPECTANCY DOWN IN US

“Suicide and drug overdose rates continued to rise in 2017, helping drive the number of U.S. deaths to the highest level in more than 100 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a series of reports on mortality released Thursday.

“Tragically, this troubling trend is largely driven by deaths from drug overdose and suicide,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a statement.  “These sobering statistics are a wake-up call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable.”

“Life expectancy in 2017 fell to an average of 78.6 years for the total population, down from 78.7 years in 2016.

“Overall, more than 2.8 million Americans died in 2017, about 70,000 more than in 2016.”

(“Suicides, overdoses rise in US,” John Bacon, USA Today, 11/30)

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CONTINUING BREXIT CRISIS

“The only rule of British politics for the coming weeks is that nobody knows anything.   The prime minister doesn’t know who will resign next.   The factions don’t know their relative strengths.   Nobody knows what is bluff and what is in deadly earnest.

“But one thing that is increasingly clear in the fog of Brexit is that this is the most serious domestic crisis Britain has faced in the modern democratic era.   In the statement that accompanied his resignation as transport minister earlier this month, Jo Johnson accused his own government of “a failure of British statecraft on a scale unseen since the Suez crisis.”   Others have compared the current debacle to the IMF’s bail-out of Britain in 1976 or the gold-standard crisis of 1931.   In fact it is worse than anything else Britain has endured in peacetime. The political system is all but paralysed, the country is divided into warring ideological tribes, the civil service in overwhelmed and, in the event of no deal, Britain would be staring into the abyss.” (“Crisis? What crisis?”  Bagehot, The Economist, 11/24).

The Economist has a new layout, that prompted an anti-Brexit  reader to suggest they move the British news section to the end of the magazine, after the Obituary column!   

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IS THE GLOBAL ECONOMY TAKING A DOWNTURN?

The stock market has been rather jumpy lately.   At the same time, gas has been going down (except in France, where an increase in fuel taxes has resulted in three consecutive weekends of riots); of course, a fall in gas prices may not be such a good thing, as it’s often the harbinger of a slowing economy.

Here’s some other indicators the economy may be headed south:

  • The Federal Reserve has been ratcheting up interest rates.
  • Corporations have loaded up on debt.
  • Unemployment is so low that employers are finally raising wages.
  • The housing market shows signs of softening.

. . . But there are plenty of upbeat signs today, too.

Auto sales are still running strong, if not quite at the peak levels of a couple of years ago.   Then, too, the labor markets still have some slack . . .”    (“Warning signs of recession abound,” John Gallagher, Lansing State Journal, 11/26).

“NEW YORK 30% OFF”

“Some homeowners are selling at bargain-basement prices from what they paid, as the city faces an end to a decade-long boom. Oversupply, rising interest rates and tax-code changes are only partly to blame.” (WSJ, Mansion, 11/30).

“Real estate, oil and employment figures are sending similar messages, and that is that economic activity is starting to slow significantly, just like in 2007 before the Great Recession wiped out trillions of dollars from the markets.

And, according to a blog on The Economic Collapse, those in charge don’t want to admit the reality of what is happening, just like in 2008.” (“Money and markets,” JT Crowe, 11/30)

GM ANNOUNCES 15,000 JOB CUTS   (Monday)

‘In the wake of massive layoffs announced by U.S. carmaker General Motors, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lashed out at President Donald Trump’s recent steel and aluminum tariffs.

At Friday’s ceremony to sign a new version of NAFTA, the free trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico, Trudeau urged Trump to reassess levies imposed on Canadian imports in June.

“Donald, it’s all the more reason why we need to keep working to remove the tariffs on steel and aluminum between our countries,” Trudeau said Friday, The Hill reported.   According to a tweet from Toronto Star journalist Daniel Dale, the prime minister was referring to the GM cuts, which Trudeau called a “heavy blow.”

(Justin Trudeau blasts Donald Trump’s trade tariffs to his face after General Motors announced huge lay-offs,” Katherine Hignett, Newsweek, 11/30)

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AN ARMY OF THE EUROPEANS

Military Union in the Making

“At this year’s Berlin Security Conference, which ended yesterday, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen promoted new steps toward creating an “army of the Europeans.”  According to von der Leyen, “the question is no longer if, but how to reach strategic autonomy” of the EU with its own armed forces. “The European defense union is in the making. “[1] Delicate questions will be raised in the near future, such as that of establishing “independent command capabilities,” alongside those of NATO, for future EU missions and streamlining decision-making structures. German parliamentary reservations should not be abolished, but rather reframed.   Brussels could establish a “committee of legislators from national parliaments specializing in defense,” which could rapidly prepare decisions – in questions of war and peace.   In addition, compulsory EU consensus in foreign policy should be abandoned. “European foreign policy decisions on the basis of large majority support must be made possible.”   This would mean that individual member countries could be compelled to support a foreign policy against  their interests.

Strategic Autonomy

The German foreign policy establishment is already discussing the outline for the further development of the “army of the Europeans.” To actually achieve “strategic autonomy, Europe, more than ever must provide for its own security – perhaps even completely,” according to Jan Techau, Director of the European Program of the German Marshall Fund of the United States  .[2] This would mean that, not only conventional, but “nuclear deterrence,” as well, must be “independently organized in Europe.”   [3] This, in turn, must be accompanied “by a significantly enhanced independent intelligence competence and activity.”   Furthermore, with the “shift of acts of aggression to the sector of information technology (IT), and the hybrid warfare in the sectors of media and public opinion influence,” the guarantee of European security will be extended to fields, where Europe … is not among the world leaders,” concluded Techau.   In the future, “the Europeans, and above all, Germany, must accomplish in these fields things that, by far, surpass what the United States has been able to achieve until now.”   The “scope of the task” also demands that in the future “strategy be taught at German universities . . . and strategic education be required as a career-obligation for all civil servants from the B-6 salary level upwards.” And ultimately, “a federal security council” should “be the hub connecting the various strands of ministerial activities on all central questions” so that “the chancellor may have access to thorough strategic advice.” “German foreign policy, 11/29

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‘THE DAY OF THE DICTATOR IS OVER!”

Those were the words of President George H.W. Bush, who has now died, aged 94.   They were spoken at a time of great optimism, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the US intervention against President Noriega of Panama.   Almost thirty years later, democracy isn’t doing so good.  A report last week showed that, in Africa, nations are becoming more dictatorial as leaders refuse to hold elections, amending their constitutions to enable them to stay in power indefinitely.

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TWO CHUMMY MURDERERS

Without any sense of shame or embarrassment, President Vladimir Putin and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, greeted each other warmly at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.   Both men think nothing of ordering the murders of people who disagree with them.   Unfortunately, western nations still have to do business with them!

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HERALDING THE SOCIALIST PARADISE

“Senator Bernie Sanders knows what he wants.  In a Washington Post op-ed last week, the democratic socialist from Vermont laid out a legislative agenda for the 116th Congress’s first 100 days.  Among the dizzying array of proposals Mr. Sanders pushed were his “Medicare for All” bill, tuition-free college, student-debt relief, tax increases requiring “wealthy people and large corporations to begin paying their fair share” and a $15 minimum wage indexed to “median wage growth,” not inflation.

“Others in the Democratic Party’s increasingly influential democratic-socialist wing are pressing for their own major legislation to pass the House, even if it will get nowhere in the Republican Senate.   Rep.-elect Alexandria Occasion-Cortez, for example, wants a “Green New Deal.”   Sounding too much like a Maoist functionary, she describes it as a “national, industrial, economic mobilization plan” to make America carbon neutral.”   (“Stopping the Socialist Resurgence,” Karl Rove, WSJ, November 29th)

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“Then Moses went up into the mountain and a cloud covered
 the mountain. — and the cloud covered it six days.
And on the seventh day He (the LORD) called to Moses out of
the midst of the cloud.”  (Ex 24: 15-16)

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