Tag Archives: World Health Organization

DOES BLM WANT A RETURN TO SLAVERY?

A poster advertising a special chapel service to celebrate the Abolition of Slavery in 1838.

Some little-known facts on slavery:

Before 1800 slavery was universally practiced.

Britain became the first major power to abolish the slave trade in 1807.   (Haiti and Denmark had already abolished it in 1804-5).  Britain went on to abolish slavery completely in 1833, with a four year transition period.

The British West Africa Squadron of the Royal Navy patrolled the coast of West Africa for almost 60 years, stopping ships and freeing slaves from 1808-67.   It is estimated that 250,000 slaves were freed.

David Livingstone was a famous Scottish missionary who went out to central Africa determined to bring Christianity to the people and to end slavery in that part of the world.

In the eighteenth century there were one million white slaves held in Muslim countries.

The US abolished the slave trade in 1808, only one year after Britain.   It was not able to abolish slavery itself until it had fought a four-year civil war (1861-65).   Over 400,000 men are now believed to have died in the War fighting for the Union.  That’s 400,000 mostly white men who all died to free the slaves.

It was the US Republican Party that supported the abolition of slavery.  The Democrats took a pro-slavery position and held back the development of African-Americans until well into the 1960s.

Since the end of the British Empire in Africa sixty years ago, slavery is back in every single African country, according to UNESCO.

The modern slave trade is considered the biggest trade in the world, accounting for over 10% of global business.  The Bible talks about this universal trading system.  Revelation 18:13, NIV:   “cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and human beings sold as slaves.”

If the United States and Britain are brought down by riots and revolution, there will be no restraint on the practice of slavery.

The irony is that Black Lives Matter and other groups will have taken the world back over 200 years to a time when slavery was universally practiced.

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THE DANGERS OF VILIFYING ALL POLICE

“The people condemning law enforcement in America and advocating for the defunding of police are not the ones who will have to face the deadly results of their proposals, says former civil rights activist Bob Woodson.

“Let’s do a survey of these communities where crime is the highest and find out what the people there want, before we rush to accept the recommendations of people who don’t have to suffer the consequences,” Woodson said.

“The killing of George Floyd, a black man, at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis sparked nationwide protests demanding reform as well as cases of looting, arson and vandalism. Reform proposals vary, with some groups such as Black Lives Matter and Democratic Socialists of America calling for a nationwide defunding of police.

“In Woodson’s view, crime will likely increase without funding cuts, because vilification of the police as agents of white suppression makes them more reluctant to enforce the law.

“After surveying 200 officers across six agencies in the southern United States,  Shetali Patil, an assistant professor of management at the University of Texas-Austin, found that when officers felt the public didn’t understand or appreciate them, they became less proactive.

“The result is more blacks being killed by other blacks, Woodson said.”   (The Dangers of Vilifying all police,” Epoch Times, 6/11/2020).

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LANSING MAYOR AGREES TO SIGN POLICE REFORM PLEDGES

“Mayor Andy Schor is promising to sign national police reform pledges, increase transparency in the police department and hire a diversity officer to address racial injustice in the city.

“The announcement Tuesday follows weeks of local protests against police brutality.  Some residents, including members of Black Lives Matter Lansing, have been calling for Schor’s resignation after he was criticized for defensiveness in response to questions from the group about the treatment of Black residents by police.

“Schor’s plans include:   “Promoting a city employee to the position of “diversity and inclusion officer”……..improve transparency…..hire an  attorney  to create a citywide diversity, equity and inclusion plan…..”   (Sarah Lehr, Lansing State Journal, 6/17/2020).

It should be noted that all of this will cost money, which will mean a raise in taxes or cuts to the police.

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DEMOCRACY IN DANGER

“The corruption of its democracy is one of America’s oldest yet most surprising habits.  Edgar Allan Poe, it is believed, died after the ordeal of ‘cooping’:   an informal exercise in getting out the vote, in which an often forcibly inebriated man was marched from booth to booth and made to vote for the same candidate each time.

“The voters of Massachusetts 4th District, compelled by a party machine to endorse Joseph P. Kennedy III, will know the feeling.  Indeed, John F. Kennedy’s victory in the 1960 elections is said to have depended on the stuffing of ballots in the Chicago of Mayor Richard J. Daley – and possibly on the intervention in Cook County by the crime boss Sam Giancana.  Kennedy went on to win Illinois by 8,000 votes and to take the White House.

“However endemic electoral corruption was in the past, nothing quite matches the scale of today’s disillusionment with democracy.   Americans are raging against the electoral machine in a way they have never done before.   Whoever wins the White House in November is going to have an uphill struggle convincing a skeptical public that he or she is the genuine choice of the American people and has got there by fair means.”   (Democracy in Danger, The Spectator (US edition), March 2020).

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U.S. National Pride Falls to Record Low                                              by Megan Brenan, 15 June 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. — American pride has continued its downward trajectory reaching the lowest point in the two decades of Gallup measurement.  The new low comes at a time when the U.S. faces public health and economic crises brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and civil unrest following the death of George Floyd in police custody.

* 42% “extremely,” and 21% “very,” proud to be an American.
                      * Republicans’ pride is down sharply in the past year.
                                        * First time extreme pride among whites below 50%; nonwhites’ is now  24%.

At the same time, 15% of Americans say they are “moderately proud,” 12% “only a little proud” and 9% “not at all proud.”

These latest data are from a May 28-June 4 poll, which also found 20% of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S., and presidential approval fell back to 39%.   The poll’s field period encompassed the arrests of the police officers charged in Floyd’s death as well as the nationwide protests that were sparked by the incident and President Donald Trump’s controversial responses to them.

(https://news.gallup.com/poll/312644/national-pride-falls-record-low.aspx)

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THE FUTURE OF THE US

The United States of America will never be the same, it will be a much worse place to live and work.   Amid a three-month pandemic there has been a three-week cultural revolution, ignited by the brutal death of African American George Floyd in Minneapolis, that has changed our country forever.

Our country is a great experiment, a diverse nation of 50 states united by a founding document that enshrines God given rights that people in other countries can only dream of realizing.   The United States has become not only the world’s only superpower, but also a country that has been a beacon of hope and freedom to the world.   (America is “Gone with the wind,” Canada Free Press, 6/14/2020)

Gone with the Wind has been banned by HBO.

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NORTH KOREA BLOWS UP

First, they stop taking your calls.   Then they blow up the house.   But this isn’t a love affair gone wrong, it’s what’s happening right now along one of the tensest borders in the world, between North and South Korea.   Last week Pyongyang quit answering a daily phone call from the South that was set up in 2018 to keep the peace and further reconciliation.   Then, yesterday, North Korea quite literally blew up a building just north of the border which both sides had used for the past two years as a meeting place for officials from the North and the South.   And earlier today, for good measure, Kim Jong-un moved some of his troops into several recently-shuttered inter-Korean economic cooperation sites located just north of the border.

Why now?

The immediate issue seems to be Seoul’s failure to stop North Korean defectors (“human scum” as they’re known in Pyongyang’s state media) from sending anti-Kim leaflets over the border using balloons and drones.

But there’s a larger context. North Korea’s economy is suffering under crippling international sanctions tied to its nuclear program, and the coronavirus pandemic almost certainly isn’t helping.   With nuclear talks largely stalled, there’s no relief in sight.  (Gzero Signal, 6/17/2020)

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 Virus-Immune Rioters Latest Coronavirus Con

Something the mainstream and social media hope you will never come to realize:   Most everyone other than the street protesters remains under coronavirus lockdown.

While the majority of civilized society is held under government-imposed lockdown, meaning with no place to work, no place to worship, no place to go—purportedly for their own safety in a raging pandemic—hundreds of thousands of ‘protesters’ — (millions if counted worldwide) are allowed out to protest, pillage and burn cities down.

Let that sink in if only in order to clearly see how a pandemic panic can be used to help take down Western society.    (Canada Free Press, 6/17/2020)

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TO THE POINT

  • “Liberals will fight for the right of Marxist radicals to burn the American flag to show their hatred of it but cannot tolerate working folks flying the battle flag of the Confederacy to show their love of it.”   (Pat Buchanan, 6/16/2020)
  • NEW PARTY FOR AUSTRALIA:   “On immigration, it says our annual intake is “unsustainably high”, multiculturalism is “cumbersome and inorganic” and refugees should be given temporary asylum rather than permanent homes.   It also calls for “ethnic enclaves” in our cities and schools to be “broken up.”  (The Sensible Center, Michael Koziol, Sydney Morning Herald, 6/14/2020)
  • The two destabilizing events recently occurring back-to-back, the response to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic and the George Floyd rioting, illustrate well how America is now institutionally incapable of making decisions in her own best interests.   That is, the overreaction to the disease and under-reaction to the rioting reflect a country long demoralized.   Moreover, if that’s not troubling enough, know that this is a state of being that usually leads to tyranny.   (2020-06-11, Selwyn Duke, Canada Free Press, 6/12/2020)
  • Meanwhile the World Health Organization warned that the coronavirus pandemic was “accelerating” in Africa.   Hitherto the continent has escaped relatively lightly, recording just 200,000 or so cases and 5,000 deaths (compared with over 170,000 deaths, for instance, in Europe).  The WHO mentioned South Africa, Cameroon and Algeria as likely hotspots for the spread of the disease. (The Economist, 6/12/2020)
  • British GDP plunged by 20.4% in April—by far the biggest month-on-month drop since the series began in 1997 (see main stories). This followed a 5.8% shrinkage in March, itself the previous record drop.   The construction industry was particularly badly affected, showing a 40.1% fall.   May’s figures should be better, as some economic activity was able to return.  (The Economist, 6/12/2020)
  • Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s autocratic president, sacked his prime minister, Imad Khamis.   The country has been hit by five days of protests, centred around the city of Suweida, as a collapsing currency has led to stinging price increases.   Civil war, Western economic sanctions, covid-19 and a crisis in neighbouring Lebanon have all helped to impoverish the country.   (The Economist, 6/12/2020)
  • “At the heart of the Democrats’ problems is a growing spirit of insurgency against political elites.”   (Spectator, March 2020)

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     

VIRUS COULD BREAK UP EU

Demonstration at Capital Building in Lansing, MI.  (Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty)

For disobedience to the laws of God, ancient Israelites were told that He would “break the pride of their power” (Leviticus 26:19).   Hebrews 13:8 states that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.”  Disobedience to God’s Laws carries the same penalties it did centuries ago.

The pride of America’s power rests in two areas:  the economy (and, with it, the status of the “Almighty Dollar”) and the military, which is dependent on a vibrant economy.

The economy is going to take a big hit this summer.   (In the UK they are predicting the biggest slump in three centuries!)   Along with the virus itself, this must also have an effect on military preparedness.

Could we see a fulfillment of Lev. 26:19?

MR   

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Anti-Governor Demo in Michigan

It’s not very often Lansing, MI, where we live makes headline news:

Lansing, MI — It’s a wild scene in Lansing today.  Hundreds, if not thousands of demonstrators showed up to the Capitol, protesting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay home order intended to fight the coronavirus pandemic.   Police watched as horns honked and vehicles from around the state jammed the nearby roads.   Crowds even gathered in front of the Capitol, out of their cars, some ignoring social distancing orders.  (Detroit Free Press, 4/15/2020)

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VIRUS COULD BREAK UP EU

BERLIN – The coronavirus pandemic, with its simultaneous health and economic crises, is deepening fault lines within Europe in a way some leaders fear could prove to be a final reckoning.   The cohesion of the European Union had been battered by Brexit, bruised by the political fallout from the 2015 migration surge and the 2008 financial crisis, and challenged by rising autocracy in the east that runs contrary to the professed ideals of the European project.

Now, if Europe’s leaders cannot chart a more united course, the project lies in what one of its architects described this week as “mortal danger.”

In the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, the response among European Union member states showed that national interests trump more-altruistic European ideals.   Border restrictions were reimposed haphazardly, and Germany and France threw up export bans on medical equipment such as masks and ventilators, even as Italy clamored for assistance.

Quick to capitalize were the propaganda machines of Russia and China. Moscow and Beijing have swept in with much-trumpeted — if sometimes defective — medical aid, pushing a savior narrative and providing fodder for the region’s Euroskeptics.   (Drudge Report, 4/3/2020)

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GERMANY BLOCKS CORONABONDS

At the euro finance minister’s video conference, the German government blocked the introduction of “coronabonds,” in spite of massive pressure from other EU nations and recently even from within Germany.   Whereas mainly Italy, Spain and France had insisted that this measure be taken, voices are now being raised from within the German establishment warning that the German government should stop blocking its implementation.   The reason, as leading Green Party politicians are explaining, is that should Italy and Spain suffer economic collapse, Germany’s export industry would be seriously damaged by the loss of these important markets, and – should German assistance be refused – both countries could turn to China.  This must be prevented. The “coronabonds” will cost Germany, however, specialists estimated years ago that the costs would be in the lower double-digit billions, while Germany is simultaneously reaping triple-digit billions in profits – annually.   (German Foreign Policy, 4/9/2020)

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GERMANY’S WAY OUT

The German government has announced plans to gradually lift Covid-19 containment measures, beginning with the partial opening of schools from May 4.   Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday said the country had achieved “fragile intermediate success” in managing the pandemic but said that social distancing would remain in place until at least May 3.  (BBC)   Shops smaller than 800 square metres will be permitted to reopen from next week but must comply with strict hygiene rules.  Der Spiegel reports on how an 11-page tentative exit plan was thrashed out between leaders of the federal government and regional prime ministers using a mix of social distancing and videoconferencing for over four hours.

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Berlin lets mask slip on feelings for Trump’s America                           The crisis has convinced Germans that Trump puts other countries at risk.

BERLIN — Late last week in Bangkok, a shipping container holding thousands of masks destined for the German capital was redirected at the last minute.   As far as Berlin’s city elders are concerned, there wasn’t any doubt about who was to blame:   the “Amis.”   And not just any Amis (German slang for Americans, not to be confused with French ami, or friend), but the commander-in-chief variety.   “The actions of the U.S. president do not just betray a lack of solidarity, they are inhumane and irresponsible,” Berlin Mayor Michael Müller, a Social Democrat, thundered on Twitter.   Andreas Geisel, Berlin’s interior minister, went even further, accusing the U.S. of “confiscating” the masks in Thailand.   If Germans didn’t trust President Donald Trump before the coronavirus outbreak, the crisis has convinced them that his unyielding “America First” instinct puts other countries and their citizens at risk.   That such accusations should emanate from Berlin, a city the U.S. saved from Soviet domination during the Berlin Airlift, underscores the depth of distrust for the American president.

(https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/06/germany-trump-america-170905)

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Larry Elliot in The Guardian on where the buck stops post-pandemic

“One of the problems a party faces when it is in power for a long time is that blaming the opposition for the mess it allegedly left behind no longer cuts it.   The Conservatives have been in power for a decade.   They will eventually be held to account over how prepared the UK was for this crisis . . .   For the right, this is the second major economic crisis in little more than a decade.  It’s the second time the state has needed to come to the rescue of an economic system where the gap between rich and poor has widened, corporations pay as little tax as they can get way with, too little attention is paid to the climate emergency, and a large proportion of the workforce is one paycheck from penury.   For the left, it should be an open goal.”   (The Week, 4/3/2020)

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GERMAN FOREIGN POLICY–Establishment voices in Berlin warn that the EU could disintegrate in the corona crisis and call for economic concessions to Italy and Spain.   Both countries would “never forget in a hundred years, if Europe and we, in particular, would forsake them now,” former foreign ministers Joseph Fischer and Sigmar Gabriel wrote in an appeal published yesterday.   This should not happen because it would endanger the EU.   But “our country” is the Union’s “biggest economic and financial winner.”   Studies show, in fact, that with €86 billion annually, Germany profits more from the EU’s single market than any other EU member.    Since its introduction up until 2017, the single currency has provided Germany nearly €1.9 trillion, whereas it has cost France €3.6 and Italy even €4.3 trillion.   Fischer and Gabriel are pushing for an urgent EU aid program to dampen the rapidly growing EU criticism in Rome and Madrid.   According to a recent opinion poll, 67 percent of Italy’s population thinks that the EU harms their interests.  (German Foreign Policy, 4/6/2020)

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Brazilian minister says Covid-19 part of China ‘plan for world domination’

China is furious after a minister in Brazil suggested Covid-19 is part of a plan in Beijing for “world domination.”

Abraham Weintraub, the far-right government’s education minister, wrote on Twitter:   “Geopolitically, who will come out stronger from this global crisis?    Who in Brazil is allied with this infallible plan for world domination?  (The Week, 4/6/2020)

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COVID WORSENS IN SINGAPORE

As the world shut its doors, Singapore remained open for business. Its measured yet effective approach to containing covid-19, which won praise from the World Health Organization, permitted shops, restaurants and schools to stay open.  No longer.   Confronted with a sudden surge in new cases, almost all of them contracted locally, the government has decided to adopt much more stringent measures to slow the spread of the virus.   On April 7th all but essential businesses closed, with Singaporeans allowed out of their homes only to buy food and medicine, to exercise and get their hair cut.  The “circuit-breaker,” as the government calls it, will remain in place for at least a month.   Those who violate a new law banning public and private gatherings risk a $7,000 fine, a six-month stint in prison or both.   Even Singapore is no longer able to preserve a semblance of normality.  (The Economist, 4/9/2020)

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FOX SLAMMED

Fox News viewers are at particular risk from coronavirus due to their age, yet they have been regularly subjected to misleading recommendations and misinformation downplaying its prevalence, write dozens of journalists led by Prof Todd Gitlin from Columbia Journalism School.

Fox News does not clearly distinguish between the authority that should accrue to trained experts on the one hand, and the authority viewers grant to pundits and politicians for reasons of ideological loyalty.  (The Guardian, 4/10/2020

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TO THE POINT

  • Economic turn-around — Six weeks ago, Trump was boasting, and justifiably so, of having the greatest economy of any president in recent memory.   Now, the possibility exists that he could go into the fall election with the worst economy since Hoover and the Great Depression of 1932.   (Pat Buchanan, 4/10/2020)
  • The Israeli government closed off ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in Jerusalem to stem the spread of covid-19.   Israel has so far reported 11,235 confirmed cases of the disease and 110 deaths.  The ultra-Orthodox Jewish community has become the centre of the country’s outbreak.  Meanwhile, talks to establish a new governing coalition were ended, making another election in the summer likely.
  • “If there was ever a time to close the gap between groups of people across New Zealand in different positions, it is now.” Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister, announces she will take a 20% pay cut for six months.  (The Week, 4/15/2020)
  • Donald Trump has announced that the US has “passed the peak” of new Covid-19 cases, suggesting the nation is successfully flattening the curve of the outbreak.   But there is another plateau that might be playing on his mind: a new comparison of approval ratings for world leaders shows several lines, including Boris Johnson’s, rising – while Trump’s remains relatively flat.   (The Week, 4/16/2020)
  • Plane fares “to double” after coronavirus crisis – Airlines may be forced to increase passenger fares dramatically once foreign travel is allowed again, experts have warned.   With many countries banning international flights to try to stem the spread of coronavirus, airlines have been hit particularly hard by the crisis.   Many of them have cut staff, reduced fares and cancelled many flights altogether.   As a result, analysts fear that in an effort to recoup some of their losses – and to cancel out lower plane capacity caused by social distancing rules – prices could skyrocket once travel restrictions are lifted.    (The Week, 4/14/2020)

SUPER TUESDAY

States voting on Super TuesdayStates voting on Super Tuesday
ABC NEWS

California Triumph Keeps Sanders In The Running

Is Joe Biden the new Democratic frontrunner? It certainly seems that way, after the former vice president took a delegate lead over Bernie Sanders with a triumphant sweep of the southern Super Tuesday states, capped by a win in Texas.   Yet Sanders kept some of his momentum with victory in California, setting up what will likely be a long, drawn-out battle between the two wings of the party and their septuagenarian standard-bearers.

Elizabeth Warren – the Massachusetts Senator lost even her home state on Tuesday night, but remains in the race as of Wednesday morning – perhaps with a contested convention in mind.

Michael Bloomberg – the billionaire former New York mayor had planned to make a splash as he at last entered the race on Tuesday, on the back of a $500m ad spend. Instead he claimed just one small victory, in American Samoa.  (The Guardian, 3/4/2020)

Michael Bloomberg withdrew from the race later in the day.


TIME TO MOVE ON FROM OBAMA

He won them two presidential elections, but Democrats are increasingly ready to put President Barack Obama in their rear view, according to exit polls from the Super Tuesday slate of primaries, which showed a startling number of party faithful saying it’s time to move on.

Mr. Obama remains popular in the Deep South, where black voters play an outsized role in Democratic politics, but from Maine to Minnesota, voters said they are no longer thrilled with the man who brought them the first universal health care plan and flexed his executive pen to grant a deportation amnesty to “Dreamers,” to ink a deal with Iran and to commit the U.S. to curbing greenhouse gases.

Instead, the party’s heart now belongs to Sen. Bernard Sanders, the democratic socialist who won’t even call himself a Democrat but who has completely rewritten the party’s agenda.  (Washington Times, 3/4/2020)

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CORONAVIRUS – LESSONS FOR THE FUTURE

Fragile supply chains:    Decades of fine-tuning global manufacturing have given billions of people access to quality consumer goods at affordable prices.  That’s the upside of globalization.  But the same trend has concentrated production of important items in certain countries, creating new vulnerabilities.   For example, regions of China and broader Asia that produce most of the world’s smartphones have been forced to idle or cut manufacturing because of the outbreak.   The decline in Chinese factory activity has been so pronounced, it’s actually visible from space.   And US officials recently warned of drug shortages due to the shuttering of factories in China that make essential ingredients for some important medicines.

Fragile safety nets:    Well before the new virus emerged in China, an annual report by the World Health Organization warned that the chances of a global outbreak were rising and that the world was “not prepared for a fast-moving, virulent respiratory pathogen pandemic.”   It cited the usual problems – a lack of funding for public health monitoring and prevention, bureaucratic hurdles, and weak medical infrastructure, especially in poor and middle-income countries.   But it also warned of “a breakdown in public trust…exacerbated by misinformation that can hinder disease control communicated quickly and widely via social media.”   In the US, the safety net is further weakened by a lack of mandatory paid sick leave, which some people fear will compel sick people to show up at work, where they can infect colleagues and customers.   (Gzero World, 3/4/2020)

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RYANAIR BOSS CONDEMNS ‘HYSTERIA’ OVER CORONAVIRUS

The boss of Ryanair has condemned what he called “lunacy on social media” and “hysteria” in coverage of the coronavirus.

Speaking to Sky News, Michael O’Leary appealed for a calm and measured approach to the coronavirus outbreak and said “Let’s not have irrational panic measures.”  (The Week, 3/4/2020)

FlyBe became the first airline casualty of the virus, filing for bankruptcy on Wednesday.  FlyBe is a UK domestic airline.

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HOW THE EU RULES THE WORLD                                                                  The Brussels Effect:    How the European Union Rules the World

For many observers, the European Union is mired in a deep crisis. Between sluggish growth; political turmoil following a decade of austerity politics, Brexit, and the rise of Asian influence, the EU is seen as a declining power on the world stage.  Columbia Law professor Anu Bradford argues the opposite in her important new book The Brussels Effect:   the EU remains an influential superpower that shapes the world in its image.  By promulgating regulations that shape the international business environment, elevating standards worldwide, and leading to a notable Europeanization of many important aspects of global commerce, the EU has managed to shape policy in areas such as data privacy, consumer health and safety, environmental protection, antitrust, and online hate speech. And in contrast to how superpowers wield their global influence, the Brussels Effect – a phrase first coined by Bradford in 2012 – absolves the EU from playing a direct role in imposing standards, as market forces alone are often sufficient as multinational companies voluntarily extend the EU rule to govern their global operations.  The Brussels Effect shows how the EU has acquired such power, why multinational companies use EU standards as global standards, and why the EU’s role as the world’s regulator is likely to outlive its gradual economic decline, extending the EU’s influence long into the future.

(https://www.amazon.com/Brussels-Effect-European-Union-Rules-ebook/dp/B0822VCYFY)

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GERMAN ARMS SALES BOOM

Düsseldorf’s Rheinmetall arms manufacturer is enjoying a sumptuous upswing in sales for its arms sector and a record-breaking number of contracts.   Whereas the company’s automotive sector is marking a downswing in sales, in comparison to last year, due to 2019’s signs of weakness in the overall auto industry, the current boom in armaments is more than compensating.   The shareholders are “delighted,” boasts stock exchange reports.   At Rheinmetall, there is talk of a “‘super cycle’ in the company’s military sector.”   Western governments – the company’s current and potential customers – are engaged in a massive arms buildup. Whereas this year’s military budget for the Bundeswehr will be increased to €45.1 billion – nearly 40 percent more than it was in 2014 – the military budgets of the European countries together will be more than €300 billion.   The US military budget is more than US $700 billion.   Rheinmetall is benefiting also from the Arab countries’ arms buildups against Iran, but above all, from the buildup of the western world against Russia and China.    (German Foreign Policy, 3/3/2020)

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DRONES REVOLUTIONIZING WARFARE                                          Turkish Drones Revolutionize Warfare in Syria, Seth J. Frantzman (Jerusalem Post)

Footage of numerous Turkish drone strikes in Idlib reveal their groundbreaking and effective use against Syrian regime defenses and armored vehicle formations.   Turkey can’t fly its air force in Idlib due to an apparent ban by Russia and the Syrian regime.   But Turkish drones can fly.
  Video feeds show drones striking columns of infantry and armored vehicles near Idlib.
   Turkey’s widespread use of drones in Idlib may be one of the largest concentrations of drones ever used in this manner.   (Jerusalem Post, 3/3/2020)

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SDA’S AND ROME WORKING TOGETHER                                      Seventh-day Adventists, Roman Catholics and Evangelicals Sign a Historic ‘Ecumenical Charter’ that Affirms Faith in ‘One, Holy, Catholic Apostolic Church’

The document that was signed is a pledge of commitment to each other. Adventists pledged a commitment to Rome, and Rome reciprocated that commitment.   Make no mistake.   The churches that signed this document promised to uphold the principles of the Ecumenical Charter which includes affirming an allegiance to each other.

The Ecumenical Charter declares that the church is “one, holy, catholic and apostolic” and therefore the “inescapable ecumenical task consists in making visible this unity.”

The Ecumenical Charter declares that the churches are “called together in the unity of faith.”

The Ecumenical Charter calls for the “visible unity of the Church of Jesus Christ in the one faith and in witness and in common service.”

The Ecumenical Charter says that “the most important task of the Churches is to proclaim the Gospel together through word and action, for the salvation of all human beings.”  (AdventMessenger, 3/4/2020)

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TO THE POINT

  • America’s ​Federal Reserve lowered its benchmark interest rate by half a percentage point, the largest single cut since the financial crisis.   The move came after a pledge by finance ministers and central bankers from the G7, a group of the world’s biggest rich countries, to “use all appropriate policy tools” to combat the economic downturn caused by the spread of covid-19.   President Donald Trump recently repeated his complaint that Fed rates were too high.   (The Economist, 3/4/2020)
  • The World Bank pledged up to $12bn to help developing countries respond to the growing threat of covid-19.   The announcement came just after the World Health Organisation said the disease’s global mortality rate is 3.4%.   The World Bank’s aid will include a mix of grants, loans and other technical assistance, with priority given to the world’s poorest countries. (The Economist, 3/4/2020)
  • SUPPORT FOR ANTI-EU PARTIES ‘DOUBLES IN 20 YEARS’ – The vote share for anti-EU parties has more than doubled in two decades, according to research conducted by academic experts in populism.   The study found that since 1992, the first year in which there were free and fair elections in every country currently a member of the bloc, combined support for European far-right, far-left and other Eurosceptic parties has surged from 15% to almost 35%.   (The Week, 3/4/2020)
  • Lebanese Preacher:   The Muslims Will Kill The Jews, Who Will Hide Behind Rocks And Trees, The Jews Are The Most Cowardly Of Allah’s Creations; Jerusalem Friday Sermon: It Is The Religious Obligation Of Muslims To Bear Animosity Against The Jews  (MEMRI, 3/4/2020)
  • Indian migrants are driving a surge in citizenship as a record 211,723 people won the right to call Australia home in 2019.  (The Australian, 2/20/2020)
  • Last week, I reviewed the book “The Race to save the Romanovs.” In my review I mentioned that support for the restoration of the monarchy in Russia is at 28%.  That’s roughly the same percentage of votes any American president gets.   54.9% voted in 2016, which gave each candidate roughly 27%.  Bill Clinton was voted into office with a mere 22% of the vote.
  • With 36 seats, Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party will be the largest in Israel’s next Knesset.   Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White alliance won 32.   But with Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition still two seats shy of a majority, and his trial on charges of bribery and fraud due to begin on March 17th, his troubles are not over yet.   (The Economist, 3/4/2020)

 

MALARIA, DEATH AND BABIES

    

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

I’ve got malaria back again.

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

Malaria remains the world’s number one killer.

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

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

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

Malaria and I go back forty years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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DIVERSITY NOT A STRENGTH

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

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

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

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

Ethnic diversity then shattered Yugoslavia into seven separate nations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A GAY THOMAS?

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

–headline in Huffington Post 9/1/18

HUBRIS WILL NOT DEFEAT THE ENEMY

Bill de Blasio                             Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio

Yesterday (Monday) I read an article, which stated with great certainty that the US has been better at assimilating Muslims than European countries.   I also read a separate article in USA Today, which quoted the Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, claiming that “New York City has the strongest, most agile, best-trained first responders in the world.   They’re ready to protect us.”

These are just the latest examples of hubris, which is defined as “excessive pride, or self-confidence, arrogance.”

When it comes to assimilation, I am reminded of a conversation I witnessed on British television one Sunday morning a few years ago. People of African descent who had lived in both the United Kingdom and the United States were discussing this very issue.   All the participants said they felt more comfortable and more assimilated in the UK than the US.

This may or may not be true of Muslims.   My concern here is that Americans should be very careful in making such assumptions, that we cannot say for sure and that, really, it doesn’t make any difference.   We are just as threatened by Islamic terrorism as the Europeans.   Whether the US responders do a better job remains to be seen.   FWIW, France (and Canada) are the two countries that top the World Health Organization’s list of best medical systems.   The US ranks at #37.   When it comes to saving lives, Paris is one of the best places to be.

When it comes to fighting ISIS, there’s a great deal of hubris right now.   Once again, the entertainment industry is partly to blame – it’s not just James Bond that defeats the world’s greatest evils; Americans have been doing it for decades.

Or, have we?

More than fourteen years after 9-11, Al-Qaeda is still killing people.   The hotel attack in Bamako was perpetrated by an al-Qaeda affiliate.

The US has been in Afghanistan for the same length of time (longer than the Russians were there) and there is no end in sight.   In fact, the situation is worse in that ISIS now operates there, along with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

Iraq continues with daily conflict.   The immediate goal of overthrowing Saddam Hussein  was achieved by the western coalition, but the resultant mess just goes on and on.   The Iraqi conflict gave birth to ISIS, another problem that seems likely to go on and on.   And, if they are ever defeated, there will be other Islamic extremists to replace them.

Proverbs 16:18 says that:   “Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall.”

I quoted Niall Ferguson a few days ago.   He showed the similarities between what is happening now and what happened to the Roman Empire in its last days – the barbarians are at the gates.   Indeed, they are within the gates thanks to the West having the most myopic immigration policies in the history of mankind.

The West has lived through a period that might be called the Pax Americana, a peace guaranteed by the United States since the end of World War II.

But the US has not had a decisive victory since World War II, when the global conflict was won by the three great powers, the British Empire (which fought the war from 1939-1945), the Soviet Union (which was forced into war six months before the US) and the United States.   The US could not have done it alone.

Korea ended up a stalemate, a burden still carried on the backs of the US tax-payer.   Vietnam was lost.   At the time, there was plenty of hubris.   Who would have thought, in 1965, that the US could lose to North Vietnam?

The next major conflict was the Persian Gulf War in 1990-91.   The immediate goal of driving Iraq out of Kuwait was achieved, but Saddam lived to fight another day, literally.   And, as I said, the mess goes on and on.

Americans are fond of saying that the US military is the best in the world and that the country spends ten times as much on its military as the next biggest spender.   That may be true, but it’s misleading.   In World War II, for every US soldier actually fighting, there were 60 people employed in support roles; for the British it was 45 to 1; for the Germans, 20 to 1.   Efficiency varies.

Additionally, US military personnel are paid more than those of other countries, so the dollar amount spent is not saying much.

Besides, the greatest threat now is Islamic terrorism, not a professional national army.   The “armies” that brought down Rome were barbaric, wild tribes, the Huns, the Vandals and, ultimately, the Arabs.   We’re faced with a similar enemy, but making it worse, our enemy is also “within.”   Let’s remember, the Babylonian Empire fell because two men betrayed it!   It only took two men to bring down the greatest empire in the world at that time.

The analogy with Babylon is apt in another way, too.   Babylon’s period of ascendancy lasted a little over seventy years, from the defeat of Assyria in 612 BC to its own defeat at the hands of the Persians in 539.   Super powers have great difficulty maintaining dominance over a longer period.   The Romans and the British were two exceptions, but countries simply burn out after 70 years.   The US is burning out, showing great reluctance to take on the growing threats to its own dominance.

It’s predecessor as global superpower number one was Great Britain.   Britain simply went broke.   The US is similarly broke, with a national debt of roughly 20 trillion dollars.   How much longer can the country lead the fight against anything?  ISIS is the wealthiest terror group ever, while the US is now penny pinching.

There’s a third lesson, too, from ancient Assyria and Babylon.   The former invaded the ten tribes of Israel, taking the people away as slaves.   The latter, Babylon, more than a century later, conquered the Jews and took them as slaves to Babylon.   The Old Testament prophets show that these nations were conquered because of their sins.

In a statement after the Paris terror attacks, ISIS said it attacked Paris because it’s a “sinful city, full of perversions.”   This does not mean that ISIS is made up of righteous people, any more than ancient Assyria or Babylon were.   But it does mean that many Muslims, appalled at the liberal values of the West, will naturally flock to ISIS.

In this sense, our own permissiveness works against us and is contributing to the violent acts being perpetrated by the terrorists.

But people in the West have hardened their hearts when it comes to God.   When the Church of England prepared a cinema ad promoting the Lord’s prayer, cinemas refused to show it; when the hashtag “#pray for Paris” appeared on Twitter following the Paris attacks, one French publication told people supporting the sentiment that their prayers were not welcome; that France doesn’t want religion!

Some asked where was God when Paris was attacked?   The answer can be found in Isaiah 59:2.   “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.”  Isaiah was preaching to a nation that had known God, but rejected Him.

There are similarities with the western world of today.   We should avoid hubris, clean up our act, and turn to the true God if we are to have any hope of defeating Islamic extremism.

 

A TALE OF TWO COUNTRIES

high-cost-of-healthcare-mount-sinai

My mother died fifteen years ago today.   That year, October 2nd was the Last Great Day, the biblical eighth day of the Feast. The significance was not lost on me.

My father had died a few months earlier, suddenly of a heart attack. Mom was found one morning by two of my brothers, having had a stroke the night before. I flew over to England as soon as I heard the news and was able to stay there in her home, visiting the hospital every day. A few days after her death, I was able to officiate at her funeral, which I had also done for my father.

She was in the hospital six weeks. This year, I was in two different hospitals, both in Michigan, for a total of just over four months, though I had a few days at home in the middle.

Consequently, I’m in a better position than most people to compare the two health systems.

I cannot complain about my mother’s treatment.   She was 73. Her stroke left her paralyzed down the left side. She could not move without help. She couldn’t even feed herself.

After consultations with the head of the cardiac unit at the Princess Diana Hospital in our hometown of Grimsby, it was decided that she should be made as comfortable as possible for as long as necessary. The hospital could have kept her alive indefinitely by inserting a feeding tube into her stomach but she would never be restored to her former state of health. The cardiologist did not want to do anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary.

There was no “death panel” making a decision on her life. My brothers and I made the decision in consultation with the cardiologist. We knew that mom would not want to stay alive, dependent on a feeding tube, relying on others for all her basic needs. None of her sons would want that and we knew she wouldn’t.

She had her own room and was able to receive visitors at any time.

I have often wondered how things might have gone differently if she had been in an American hospital. It is more likely that the feeding tube would have been inserted and she could have lived a few more years, albeit in the hospital. As long as Medicare (i.e. the government) would pay, the hospital would have kept her alive. But that would not have been good for her.

My hospital stays this year involved two major back surgeries, MRSA, abscesses on my spine and all the complications that came directly from my treatment. On two occasions, my wife was told that I might not make it. I was told on one occasion. I’m thankful they continued to treat me.

The complications I suffered were mostly due to the painkillers and strong antibiotics they gave me. They caused chronic nausea and vomiting that left me demoralized and enervated. Eventually, I took myself off all my medications, arranged for my discharge and have been improving ever since.

The biggest problem with both health care systems comes down to one word – money.

In England, where the government controls most health care, they are always trying to save money. In the US, the health care providers are always trying to make money and will often give you treatment and medications you really don’t need. It’s not surprising that Americans have the most expensive health care system in the world, spending almost 20% of GNP on health, compared to an average figure in the western world of 8%. Yet, in spite of the amount spent on health care, we rank 37th in the World Health Organization’s annual ranking of national health care systems. The UK is at number 18. France and Canada compete for number one.

One area in which the US is seriously deficient is in prevention. Governments presiding over socialized medical systems want to save money, so prevention is important. In the US, there’s no money to be made from prevention.

In a study comparing the US and UK’s medical systems a few years ago, it was found that you are twice as likely to die from a heart attack in the United States as in England.

One of my doctors knew of this and said that the hospital I was in was making every effort to improve on this statistic. Personally, I think one factor is that in the UK, heart attack victims will, on average, live closer to a hospital than the average American.   There is little that can be done about this. There are, of course, other factors and hopefully improvements are being made. This is a concern of mine as both my parents died from heart problems.

The same study showed that you are more likely to survive cancer in the US than in the UK. American hospitals are more likely to have all the latest equipment, reflecting advances made in medical research. My wife’s cancer was dealt with very quickly and she is now cancer free. In the UK, she might have had to wait longer for treatment.

I was surprised to read that the US lags behind England and many other western countries when it comes to childbirth and early childcare. The US infant mortality rate is quite high when compared to other advanced nations.

I believe that free enterprise serves people better than government. It is also the most cost-efficient way of delivering anything, whether it be food at the supermarket, gas at the pump, utilities, education or health care. However, the American system is not really a free enterprise system.

For a start, over half of health care is now government. Most of my costs were taken care of by government. In one way I’m thankful for that but a part of me asks: where is the money coming from? Somebody has to pay for it. Government is not careful with money. It’s willingness to foot the bill regardless of cost inevitably pushes up the price and leads to abuse.

Hospitals are now taking maximum advantage of this. Some of the procedures I was subject to seemed unnecessary. They simply ran up my bill.   When I was going through a long period of chronic nausea, they kept giving me additional medications, which only made things worse. The cost of all these pills was added to my bill, for a much higher charge than the pharmacy would make you pay.

Insurance companies also distort free enterprise. The cost of health care has risen dramatically in recent years. Roughly 20% of the cost is administrative, charges added by medical insurance companies. Healthcare is big business in the US and has made a lot of people very wealthy. This was not the case before World War II, before insurance companies got in on the act. If an individual patient had to negotiate his own health care with a provider, it would help keep the bill down. A doctor’s visit would cost closer to $20 than the $100+ it costs now. Doctors could only charge what the market could stand, just as supermarkets do when selling us groceries.

My wife and I scrutinized my bills closely and found a number of charges that we questioned. They charged me $220 for a psychiatric evaluation, which I don’t remember having. Now, I’ve no doubt I would benefit from a psychiatric evaluation but how come I was charged $220 for something I don’t even remember. My hospital room was $2,000 a night, surely excessive when you consider that you can stay in the best hotels in the world for far less? I was also charged $3,000 for a back brace that I never got.   Physical therapy was also $2,000 a day for a ninety-minute session.

As I said, the two systems come down to money. I do not see how either system is sustainable long-term. The UK has been in steady decline as a global and military power as each year the National Health Service requires more funding. In the US, medical bills are now the biggest cause of bankruptcy. The average family is now spending $5,000 per year more on health care than it did ten years ago – and this in a time of declining real wages. Something has to give. There needs to be real changes, whether in the United Kingdom or the United States.

After leaving the hospital I had to consult with a G.I specialist about my nausea. I am still having digestive problems. He recommended a colonoscopy. I had my first one with him seven years ago, so he was rather insistent I have another, as I was overdue.

I didn’t say anything but my first thought was of the comparison study I mentioned earlier.

Colonoscopies are not routinely done in the UK. They are only done when it is felt necessary. The conclusion of the study was that this costs only 25 lives a year in Britain. That’s a small cost, compared to the financial cost, which would force economies in other areas.

As I’m no fan of colonoscopies, I sat there wishing I were in England!