Tag Archives: Visegrad

GERMANY UPS FIGHT AGAINST ANTI-SEMITISM

HALLE, Germany (AP) — A heavily armed assailant ranting about Jews tried to force his way into a synagogue in Germany on Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day, then shot two people to death nearby in an attack Wednesday that was livestreamed on a popular gaming site.

BERLIN (AP) — Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet passed new measures Wednesday aimed at helping fight far-right extremism and anti-Semitism following an attack on a synagogue earlier this month.

The proposals include tightening gun laws, stepping up prosecution of online hate, and boosting financial support for projects fighting anti-Semitism and far-right extremism.

“The horrible attack on the Jewish community in Halle showed again what the unleashing of hatred online can lead to,” Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht said at a news conference in Berlin when she introduced the bundle of measures alongside Germany’s interior and family ministers.

“We will fight far-right terrorism and anti-Semitism with all the power of the law,” Lambrecht added.

Germany is still reeling from the attempted attack on a synagogue by a 27-year-old German in the eastern city of Halle on Oct. 9, who later killed two passers-by before being arrested.   The man posted an anti-Semitic screed before the attack and broadcast the shooting live on a popular video game streaming site.   (Kirsten Grieshaber, US News & World Report, 10/30)

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The Far Right Is Taking On Cultural Institutions

Theaters, museums, and other venues in Germany are facing pressure from the AfD, raising questions about the extent of artistic freedoms.

ELIZA APPERLY, OCT 28, 2019, The Atlantic

BERLIN – Protests against public artworks in Dresden and Kassel.    A ban on political discussions at the city theater in Freiberg.            And a criminal investigation against a performance art collective.

Germany’s far right is fighting a culture war—and at the forefront is the country’s largest opposition party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD).   Founded only six years ago, the group has transitioned from a platform of opposing the euro to far-right nationalism.   Fierce anti-immigrant rhetoric has helped the group gain sizable sway in regional parliaments, with significant victories in three regional elections this fall.

Yet beyond its focus on immigration, the issue for which it is best known, the AfD has another important target – culture.   At both the federal and the regional level, the party devotes significant attention to cultural matters:   Its main manifesto includes more pages on culture, language, and identity than on employment, national security and justice, and foreign policy.   In Dresden, the AfD municipal program extends to suggested background music for a specific tram line.

“Culture is integral to the AfD’s strategy and ideology,” Julian Göpffarth, a researcher on the far right at the London School of Economics, told me.   “The party is using its powers to curb cultural productions and spaces that ‘undermine national pride,’ and to impose instead a dominant German culture that celebrates, rather than critically engages with, German identity.”          (https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2019/10/germany-far-right-culture-war/598978/)

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FAR RIGHT AFD BEATS MERKEL IN GERMAN ELECTION

Voters in the eastern German state of Thuringia boosted the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) in regional elections on Sunday, according to preliminary results, but the Left party will remain the dominant political force in the state.

With all districts reporting, results showed the Left party winning 31% of votes in the state that was once part of the communist former East Germany.   (DW, 10/28)

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GERMAN INTERVENTION IN LIBYA

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is intervening in Libya, calling for an “end to foreign intervention.”   On the occasion of his trip to Turkey and North Africa he arrived last Sunday for a brief visit in the country, to prepare an international conference on Libya, which the German government intends to convene soon.   With this conference the German government seeks to possibly pacify the country and distinguish itself as a “regulatory force” in North Africa. Maas then traveled on to Egypt, which also is involved in the Libyan war.   While the German minister is declaring that the Egyptians should be able “to breathe the air of liberty,” Cairo is continuing its brutal repression.   Since the military coup in July 2013, more than 1,500 people have disappeared from state custody.   While seeking to pacify Libya, Berlin is increasing its “regulatory” activities in an “arch of crisis” extending from North Africa and the Middle East to Central Asia.   However, until now, without success.   (German Foreign Policy, 10/30)

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VISEGRAD COUNTRIES GROWING

“Fifteen years after they joined the EU, the four “Visegrad” states of central Europe (the V4) can be prouder of their economic achievements than of their patchy record on political reform.   The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have increased their levels of GDP per head dramatically, and are converging with their mighty neighbor Germany.   The Czechs are the richest, with a GDP per head that is 73% of Germany’s, followed by Slovakia with 63% and Hungary and Poland with around 57% each – and the gap continues to close, as their growth outpaces that of the behemoth.” (The Economist, 10/26)

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UK BECOMING MORE EUROPEAN

“Before the referendum in 2016 European Union flags were as rare as golden eagles in Britain.   Today they are as common as sparrows.   Parliament Square is permanently festooned with them.   Activist Remainers flaunt flag-themed berets and T-shirts.   On October 19th a million-strong army of People’s Vote supporters marched on Westminster beneath a sea of gold and blue standards . . .

“This is part of a bigger paradox:   the more Britain struggles to leave the EU, the more it embraces European style politics.   Since the dawn of the democratic era Britain has practiced two or two and a bit party politics compared with the continent’s multiparty system.   That is changing, accelerated by Brexit.

The Scottish National Party controls Scotland.   The ruling Conservative Party is 45 MPs short of a majority.   The European Research Group of hard-line Brexiteers acts as a party within the Tory party.   The Liberal Democrats could make big gains in the forthcoming general election, especially if Brexit seems reversible.” (The Economist, 10/26)

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CATHOLIC SYNOD IN ROME RECOGNIZES DIVIDED CHURCH

“The synod represents the biggest step yet towards recognizing something many Catholics in the West, especially church leaders, have been reluctant to acknowledge:   Just as economic and Diplomatic power in the secular world is sleeping away from the North Atlantic region, a similar process is taking place in Catholicism.   In the secular world, the shift is to Asia.   Within the Catholic church it is towards not only Asia, but Africa and Latin America, too.   That is forcing the church to consider how far it is willing to adapt to the practices and beliefs of cultures with their own spiritual traditions.   The synod has added to fears of a new schism within the church.”   (The Economist, 10/26)

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TO THE POINT

  • Warren not a socialist:  “Some Republicans and Wall Street critics claim that Ms. Warren is a socialist. She is not.   She does not support the public ownership of firms or political control of the flow of credit.   Instead she favors regulations that force the private sector to pass her test of what it is to be fair.”   (“A plan for American capitalism,” The Economist, 10/26)
  • Russia in Africa “… over the past decade, and especially after America and the EU imposed sanctions on Russia related to its annexation of Crimea in 2014, the Kremlin has viewed Africa as an increasingly important arena.   Since 2015 a dozen African leaders have visited Russia.   From 2006 to 2018 Russia’s total trade with sub-Saharan Africa increased by 336%.   It is the largest arms exporter to the continent, accounting for 39% of deliveries in 2013-17 (many from Russia to Algeria”. (The Economist, 10/26)
  • Farage’s gamble  — EU ministers are taking a breather from Brexit as the action moves firmly back to London, where MPs are preparing for a general election. In a possible game-changer for Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage’s Brexit party is considering whether to pull out of hundreds of seats.   This would be a major boost to the UK prime minister, given the risks that the Brexit party could split the vote among leavers. (FT)   As James Blitz writes, the prime minister is taking a massive gamble by engineering the vote before the UK is out of the EU.   Farage’s Brexit party poses one possible risk.   Another is that Labour will hammer home the message that a victorious Tory party would use Brexit as an opportunity to pursue a hard-right social and economic agenda.    (Financial Times 10/31)
  • Refreshing view on Israel:   Egyptian Coptic patriarch Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria said in an October 14, 2019 interview on France 24 Arabic TV that he encourages Copts to visit Jerusalem because getting closer to others increases mutual understanding.   He said that Israel is a country like any other country and expressed support for an agreement that would make Jerusalem an international capital, though he said that this is not possible given the current reality.   Pope Tawadros II expressed concern for Christian holy places in Jerusalem and said that many parties are collectively responsible for the complexity of the current realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.   He praised efforts to resolve the conflict.   (MEMRI, 10/30)
  • The worst patients in the world:   “Americans are hypochondriacs, yet we skip our checkups.   We demand drugs we don’t need, and fail to take the ones we do.   No wonder the US leads the world in health spending.”   (David H. Freedman, The Atlantic, July 2019).

 

 

 

 

 

 

INVASION OF THE WEST

Our 5-year-old grandson, Leeson, has a lot of sense.

On Wednesday, I was watching the news on CBS at 7am.  Quite some time was spent on divided families at the border.   Leeson had just come downstairs and was playing with his toys close to the TV.

At one point, a member of Congress described the President in most unflattering terms.   Leeson immediately said I shouldn’t watch the news any more because all the people on it are always saying bad things.   He asked that I switch to cartoons, which I did.   The day immediately improved and continued to get better as I took him fishing in the afternoon, away from any “Breaking News” on my phone.

In the evening, instead of watching “DW News” and the “BBC” on PBS (each offers a 25-minute international news summary), I went to the pub with a friend.   Again, it was infinitely preferable to watching the news.

The last few days has been quite depressing.   Once again, I feel like I’m living through the last days of the Roman Empire.   Rome, you will remember, was invaded by the “barbarians,” non-Romans who got into the empire and eventually took over.

You would think we would have learned the lesson.   But no, we haven’t.   In the United States, approximately two-thirds of voters want the “barbarians” to come in and take over, although they wouldn’t express it in so many words.   They basically want families breaking the law by illegally entering the country to be able to remain and stay together, receiving free education and health care at public expense, joining gangs, sending money back to their country of origin, etc., etc.

It’s not just an American problem.   Western European nations are also finding it impossible to stop the flood of immigrants from poorer parts of the world.   The so-called “refugees” from the Middle East and Africa are mostly economic migrants, looking for more money and an easier life.

Prior to World War II, this problem did not exist in the West.   But after World War II, with the creation of welfare states, especially in western Europe, there has been a flood of people into western countries.   An additional factor has been what is sometimes called “white guilt” over past “sins” (colonialism and slavery mostly).

LACK OF CLEAR THINKING

An article in the Wall Street Journal last Friday warned that Social Security and Medicare (almost free medical care for the elderly) will soon be broke.   The only solution, claimed the writer, was more immigrants.   Younger people would pay the taxes that would keep both programs growing. (“Social Security needs immigrants,” George Melloan, WSJ, 6/15).

Such articles only encourage the invasion of the West.   Here’s another in today’s Wall Street Journal:

Aging America 
“The surge of retiring baby boomers is reshaping the U.S. into a country with fewer workers to support the elderly – a shift that will add to strains on retirement programs such as Social Security and sharpen the national debate on the role of immigration in the workforce.   For most of the past few decades, the ratio of retiree-aged adults to those of working age barely budged. In 1980, there were 19 U.S. adults age 65 and over for every 100 Americans between 18 and 64, census figures show.   That number barely edged up over the next 30 years.   But there has been a rapid shift since then.   By 2017, there were 25 Americans 65 and older for every 100 people in their working years, according to new census figures released Thursday that detail age and race for every county.”  (Matt Murray, The Ten-Point).

What is more logical is that, in order to grow the economy, there should be an end to abortion.   This would give the US at least another million people a year, providing the young workers that are needed to fund social security and Medicare.   How come the writer of the article never thought of this?

What’s happening in the world is this – while people in the West severely limit the size of their families, people in poorer countries do not. Inevitably, the surplus people in less developed countries move to the richer nations.

In Africa, people want to have lots of children to take care of them in old age; in the Middle East, the reasons may be different – the Palestinians want to outnumber the Israelis, for example, to overwhelm and overcome them in a future conflict.

An additional factor is that many of the poorer countries in the world are “failed states,” with few economic opportunities and a great deal of political uncertainty and gang violence.   People want to flee these bad situations, but their culture doesn’t change when they move to the West.   Inner cities struggle with ethnic gang conflict.

“The existential question, however, thus remains:   How does the West, America included, stop the flood tide of migrants before it alters forever the political and demographic character of our nations and our civilization?   (“Trump and the invasion of the west,” Pat Buchanan, 6/19).

CHANGES IN EUROPE

European attitudes toward migrants are changing.   As I write, the future of German Chancellor Angela Merkel looks very uncertain, as her coalition falters over the issue of migrants; meanwhile, the new Italian government is refusing to accept any more refugees while committing itself to expel over half a million people, mostly from Africa; Austria has turned against refugees and seems set to join the Visegrad Group of four nations who share the same approach;  the United Kingdom, which managed to preserve freedom of speech during England’s “darkest hour,” reacts to any bad news on migrants by limiting freedom of expression.   Populism and populists are on the rise.

If Austria joins the Visegrad Group, it will make a total of five nations.   These eastern European nations seem likely to be the eastern leg of the revived Roman Empire, predicted in Daniel 2.   The prophecy talks of two legs with ten toes.   According to Wikipedia:

“the Visegrád Group . . . is a cultural and political alliance of four Central European states – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, that are members of the European Union (EU) – for the purposes of advancing military, cultural, economic and energy cooperation with one another.”

Of interest, all five countries are Catholic and a century ago, they were all partly or wholly in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The migrant crisis is a major concern shared by these nations, all of whom want to preserve their Catholic and cultural heritage.

MINGLING WON’T WORK

Daniel’s account from the sixth century BC even prophesies that mingling of the races will be a major problem in Europe at this time. “And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile.  As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.”  (Daniel 2:42-43)

Verse 44 shows that this prophecy is for our time today.   This verse shows that the revived Roman Empire will re replaced by the Kingdom of God. And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.”

Will the Kingdom of God be a multicultural paradise?   Will political correctness be the law of the land?

While the Bible tells us that “God shows no partiality” (Acts 10:34), we are also reminded in the same book that He created the nations and set their borders.   Discrimination is wrong, but integration just isn’t going to work!

“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.” (Acts 17:26)

Footnote:   As I write, the local news is reporting that the “Asian and Hispanic” population in Michigan is rising, while the number of Caucasians is falling.   The invasion continues.

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STATS SAY IT ALL ON AFRICA

“In 1960, the entire population of sub-Saharan Africa was around 230 million people.  Today, it is roughly 1 billion.   According to the United Nations, by the middle of this century, it could well reach 2 billion.   In 50 years or so, more than half of the world’s entire population growth will be in Africa.   Two fifths of the world’s population will live on the continent.   A couple of generations ago, sub-Saharan Africa had no cities with populations bigger than 1 million people.  Today it has dozens.   (“How long before the world’s youngest continent revolts?” – Daniel Knowles, Unherd, 6/19)

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KIM JONG WON

President Trump’s approval rating over North Korea is now at 55%, after what is perceived as a successful summit in Singapore.

The Economist had a different view.   It’s cover this week shows the two leaders meeting in front of the two flags, with the headline: “Kim Jong Won.”   That wasn’t the only humor in the magazine, inspired by the summit. A cartoon on page 6 showed Kim Jong Un telling his military that if they cooperate with the US, President Trump will treat them like “close friends and allies,” at which point a collective groan of “Oh no,” goes up from them all.   Allies of the US haven’t done too well lately.

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COMING UP – ONE MORE HUNGRY NATION

Little noticed by the press is that South Africa is moving toward the confiscation of white-owned farms, confiscation without compensation.   It has even been suggested that all property owned by people of European descent should be seized by the state and redistributed.

This has already been done, in neighboring Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia).   The result was that millions of people starved to death, while the farms were simply un-used.

Most African farmers are subsistence farmers, meaning that they just grow enough for their own needs.   They do not farm on a commercial scale, like white farmers.   Rhodesia became the breadbasket of Africa due to its white commercial farmers; the only time the word “basket” is used now is in describing the successor country of Zimbabwe as a “basket case.”

Why should South Africa be any different?

Meanwhile, also from South Africa, comes this news:

Only five out of 696 hospitals‚ clinics got a ‘pass mark’ in SA               6 June 2018

“According to the Office of Health Standards Compliance (OHSC) report‚ only five of the 696 hospitals and clinics it inspected in 2016-17 complied with the Department of Health’s norms and standards to achieve an 80% “pass mark.”

(https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2018-06-06-only-five-out-of-696-hospitals-clinics-got-a-pass-mark-in-sa/)

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THAT LOW FERTILITY RATE AGAIN

“They shall commit harlotry, but not increase;
Because they have ceased obeying the Lord.” (Hosea 4:10)

Nearly twenty years ago, the CDC released an ambitious proposal to “eliminate syphilis from the United States.”   The plan seems to have worked rather poorly.   Soon after the proposal’s issue, infection rates began to head in the wrong direction and then worsened.  From 2000 until 2016, the most recent year for which data are available, the rates of syphilis quadrupled.   Congenital syphilis, a nearly eradicated condition in which the infection is passed from mother to fetus, has also sharply increased – by nearly 28% from a low base in one year.   That is distressing not only because the disease is easily detected and treated by course of antibiotics, but also because afflicted mothers have a 40% chance of a stillbirth.

“The problem is not only limited to syphilis.   Other sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) are roaring back. Rates of gonorrhea, after a brief period of decline, surged 46% since 2010.   Chlamydia, an extremely common STD which can result in female infertility, has nearly doubled since 2000.   Nearly every sort of American has been affected.”   (“Rash behavior,” The Economist, 6/16)

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DEMOCRACY IN REVERSE

“Indices of the health of democracy show alarming deterioration since the financial crisis of 2007-8 . . . The Economist Intelligence Unit . . . has 89 countries regressing in 2017, compared with only 27 improving.” (“How democracy dies,” The Economist, 6/16)