This Week in the News

The Fight Against ISIS—While the Innocent Die

The Independent wrote on May 2:

“At least 52 civilians, including seven children, have been killed in air strikes by the US-led coalition in Syria, according to a monitoring group. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights branded the operation on Friday a ‘massacre’, claiming innocent people had become casualties of the hunt for Isis militants. Rami Abdulrahman, who founded the UK-based group, said Friday’s strike saw the highest civilian death toll in a single attack by US and Arab forces since they started operations in Iraq and Syria last year… So far 52 civilians, including seven children and nine women have been confirmed dead, from six families, the Observatory said… US-led strikes had reportedly killed at least 66 civilians in Syria from the start of the raids on 23 September until Friday, which brought the total to at least 118…

“Analysts have disagreed on the impact operations by the United States, Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have had against Isis and other extremists. Militants’ advances appear to have been slowed but Isis’ power in its strongholds has not been substantially weakened. Britain has not joined air strikes in Syria…

“A third of the population has been made homeless in the four-year civil war and more than 220,000 people have been killed. Almost 4,500 of those fatalities were in April alone, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which documented the deaths of at least 950 civilians, 760 rebel fighters, 1,200 foreign Islamist militants and 750 regime soldiers.”

ISIS Claims Responsibility for Texas Shooting at Anti-Islam Conference

Newsmax/AFP reported on May 4:

“Far-right Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, who addressed participants at a [cartoon contest and art exhibit held for depictions of the Prophet Muhammad in Texas] before a shooting erupted outside the event, believes he is on a mission to stop the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Reviled and supported in equal measure for his anti-Islamic rhetoric, the 51-year-old firebrand has become a divisive figure in the Netherlands, which prides itself on its long but fading tradition of consensus politics and multi-cultural tolerance…

“In Texas on Sunday, he told the meeting organised by the right-wing American Freedom Defence Initiative that ‘we are here in defiance of Islam… Today, too many of our Western leaders want us to shut up,’ he told the gathering. Shortly after he left, two gunmen drove up to the conference centre and began shooting at a security guard. The two attackers were subsequently shot dead by police…

“Wilders… has no hesitation branding the Koran a ‘fascist’ book. He wants to ban the Koran, halt Muslim immigration, and tax headscarves…”

JTA wrote on May 5:

“The Islamic State jihadist group claimed responsibility for the shooting attack on a Texas building housing an exhibit of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad organized by an anti-Islamic organization… The statement threatened future attacks… The keynote speaker was the anti-Muslim Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who late last month spoke on Capitol Hill at the invitation of Reps. Steve King, R-Iowa, and Louis Gohmert, R-Texas.”

Deutsche Welle added on May 6:

“Geert Wilders… proposed posting caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad – considered blasphemous by many Muslims – in the Dutch parliament following a shooting in Texas… ‘I am going to request parliament to exhibit the same cartoons as those that were displayed in Garland,’ Wilders told news agency AFP Wednesday. ‘I want to send a message that if you use violence to suppress free speech, the only effect is that we’ll do it even more,’ Wilders said, adding, ‘We must show we’ll not be intimidated.’ He concluded: ‘I don’t want to provoke, but at the same time, we must show that we’re standing for freedom of speech.’”

Keep Bombing… Whom?

The Independent wrote on May 3:

“The Saudis are bombing Yemen because they fear the Shia Houthis are working for the Iranians. The Saudis are also bombing Isis in Iraq and… Isis in Syria. So are the United Arab Emirates. The Syrian government is bombing its enemies in Syria and the Iraqi government is also bombing its enemies in Iraq. America, France, Britain, Denmark, Holland, Australia and… Canada are bombing Isis in Syria and Isis in Iraq, partly on behalf of the Iraqi government (…Shia militias) but absolutely not on behalf of the Syrian government.

“The Jordanians and Saudis and Bahrainis are also bombing Isis in Syria and Iraq because they don’t like them, but the Jordanians are bombing Isis even more than the Saudis after their pilot-prisoner was burned to death in a cage. The Egyptians are bombing parts of Libya because a group of Christian Egyptians had their heads chopped off [by Isis]. The Iranians have acknowledged bombing Isis in Iraq – of which the Americans (but not the Iraqi government) take a rather dim view. And of course the Israelis have several times bombed Syrian government forces in Syria but not Isis…

“The Sunni Saudis are bombing the Shia Yemenis and the Shia Iranians are bombing the Sunni Iraqis. The Sunni Egyptians are bombing Sunni Libyans… and the Jordanian Sunnis are bombing Iraqi Sunnis. But the Shia-supported Syrian government forces are bombing their Sunni Syrian enemies and the Lebanese Hezbollah – Shia to a man – are fighting the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Sunni enemies, along with Iranian Revolutionary Guards and an ever-larger number of Afghan Shia men in Syrian uniforms.

“… just take a look at Saudi Arabia’s latest request to send more Pakistani troops to protect the kingdom (and possibly help to invade Yemen), which came from the new Saudi Crown Prince and Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman (34)… But the Saudis added an outrageous second request: that the Pakistanis send only Sunni Muslim soldiers. Pakistani Shia Muslim officers and men (30 per cent of the Pakistani armed forces) would not be welcome…

“And then, of course, there are the really big winners in all this blood, the weapons manufacturers. Raytheon and Lockheed Martin supplied £1.3bn of missiles to the Saudis only last year. But three years ago, Der Spiegel claimed the European Union was Saudi Arabia’s most important arms supplier and last week France announced the sale of 24 Rafale fighter jets to Qatar at a cost of around £5.7bn. Egypt has just bought another 24 Rafales…”

Iran Can’t Be Trusted

Western Journalism reported on April 30:

“Iran deceiving the West on its nuclear program is nothing new… Today Reuters reported that Great Britain has informed a United Nations sanctions panel of the existence of an active Iranian nuclear procurement network linked to two blacklisted firms. ‘The existence of such a network could add to Western concerns over whether Tehran can be trusted to adhere to a nuclear deal due by June 30 in which it would agree to restrict sensitive nuclear work in exchange for sanctions relief,’ Reuters reported…

“The UK government informed the Panel on 20 April 2015 that it ‘is aware of an active Iranian nuclear procurement network that has been associated with Iran’s Centrifuge Technology Company (TESA) and Kalay Electric Company (KEC)’, the Panel of Experts said in its annual report… KEC is under U.N. Security Council sanctions while TESA is under U.S. and European Union sanctions due to their suspected links to banned Iranian nuclear activities…

“This is the second time in five months that the U.N. Panel has been informed about illicit nuclear activities by Iran during the current negotiations with the six world powers. In December of last year, Foreign Policy published a similar report about a U.S. delegation informing the U.N. Panel of experts about Iranian procurement agents who had been increasing their efforts to illicitly obtain equipment for the IR-40 research reactor at the Arak nuclear complex…

“[An] article by the Free Beacon detailed how the U.S. Administration kept information about shipments of missile components from North Korea to Iran secret from the U.N. Panel that monitors sanctions violations by Iran.”

Ongoing Hostility Between President Obama and Israel

On April 16, 2015, published a write-up by Rabbi Spero, stating the following:

“Just last month, Barack Obama published classified information showing the world photographs of Israel’s hidden nuclear site, and its inner workings. It was his gift to Iran, Hamas, and ISIS. This puts Israel and her citizens, not just Mr. Netanyahu, at great risk. But, Obama had his people darken out all the information on that page regarding the nuclear sites of other countries.

“At a meeting at the White House in 2009, Obama stated early-on that ‘it’s time to put daylight between Israel and America’… Last month, Obama again singled out Israel by crudely questioning Israel as a democracy… He wants to break the historic bonds between America and Israel.

“… he has taken Hizb’allah and Iran off our list of terror organizations…

“What Mr. Obama wants above all else is to strip Israel of David’s city, its eternal capital, Jerusalem, and hand the ancient, historic city to Islam. Obama knows that whoever controls and manages historic Jerusalem can lay claim to the Land’s entirety. Jerusalem is the heart and pride of Israel…

“Obama’s inner identity is tied to Islam… His father and stepfather were Islamic, as is his family back in Kenya and Indonesia. His brothers are active Islamists. He was raised on the Koran in Islamic countries, and attended Islamic madrassa and grew up with its attitudes, sights and sounds, aspirations and narrative, likes and dislikes. As I grew up to favor Israel, he grew up to dislike it…

“The Marxism Obama was fed, from very early on, made him viscerally dislike successful Western countries, such as America, Israel, and Britain. He was taught they were colonizers and imperialist… As with America, the next two years will be difficult, for Obama has set his antagonistic sights on America and Israel… as well as its citizens. Obama has spent the last 50 years waiting for these next two.”

Strong words… And the next two years will indeed show how antagonistic President Obama will prove to be towards American and Israeli values. Maybe he was placed here to fulfil biblical prophecy to accelerate America’s downfall.

Israel’s New Hard-Line Government

The Associated Press reported on May 6:

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu completed the formation of a new coalition late Wednesday, putting him at the helm of a hard-line government that appears to be set on a collision course with the U.S. and other key allies. Netanyahu reached a deal with the nationalist Jewish Home party shortly before a midnight deadline, clinching a slim parliamentary majority and averting an embarrassing scenario that would have forced him from office. But with a government dominated by hard-liners that support increased West Bank settlement construction and oppose peace moves with the Palestinians, he could have a hard time rallying international support. Controlling just 61 of 120 parliamentary seats, the narrow coalition could also struggle to press forward with a domestic agenda.

“After Netanyahu’s Likud Party won March 17 elections with 30 seats, it seemed he would have a relatively easy time forming a coalition and serving a fourth term as prime minister. But the six-week negotiating process, which expired at midnight, turned out to be much more difficult than anticipated as rival coalition partners and members of the Likud jockeyed for influential Cabinet ministries…

“The coalition talks stalled this week when Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a longtime partner of Netanyahu’s, unexpectedly stepped down and announced his secular nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party was joining the opposition. That left Netanyahu dependent on Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett, a former aide who has a rocky relationship with Netanyahu. With Bennett driving a hard bargain, the talks stretched throughout the day and well into the night before Netanyahu called President Reuven Rivlin, as required by law, to announce the deal…

“Analysts do not expect the new government to last long or accomplish much. Opposition leader Isaac Herzog, head of the centrist Zionist Union, called the coalition ‘a national failure government.’ He said it was ‘an embarrassing farce’ and ‘the narrowest in Israel’s history.’…

“Netanyahu’s ultra-Orthodox partners, Shas and United Torah Judaism, are bent on reversing reforms passed by the last government. Those reforms sought to end an unpopular system that granted the ultra-Orthodox exemptions from compulsory military service…”

No More Special Relationship Between USA and the UK

The Financial Times wrote on May 1:

“Britain’s nail-biting election, and the fragile coalition government it seems likely to produce, are confirming many of Washington’s worst fears about the country’s dwindling influence in the world. Once the US’ most reliable ally, the UK is now seen as a distant player in the crisis over the Ukraine and the euro, has introduced swingeing cuts to its military and recently rebuffed Washington by joining a China-led bank.

“On top of that, the Obama administration is waking up to the prospect that the next government in London could be even more inward-looking as it grapples with Britain’s membership of the European Union and strong support for Scottish independence. US officials say they still value close intelligence and military ties with the UK, but at times sound almost dismissive about the current British government’s reluctance to play a bigger role in the world…

“The fabled ‘special relationship’ between Washington and London has always contained an element of hype that played to Britain’s postcolonial quest for relevance. Successive US administrations have valued Britain’s role as a bridge between North America and the EU, as a mediator within Nato and as a reliable supporter in times of crisis. ‘Until recently, Britain was very much our most trusted, dependable and capable ally,’ says Nicholas Burns, a former US ambassador to Nato and third-ranking official at the state department, who worries that Britain might soon no longer play a ‘central role in global affairs… It is very striking the way that Angela Merkel has become the undisputed leader of Europe,’ he said…

“The frustrations in Washington with Mr Cameron’s government burst into the open last month when a senior US official accused the UK of ‘constant accommodation’ of China… Mr Obama himself has also been accused of looking to disengage from parts of America’s traditional role in the world and one former senior US official said that the president had not been helped by Mr Cameron’s international reticence. He pointed to Margaret Thatcher’s famous warning to George HW Bush after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990 that he should not ‘go wobbly’… The former US official continued: ‘Obama has at times looked lost and it would have helped him to have a stronger British prime minister who could have given him some direction.’”

Cameron On Course to Win

Thomson/Reuters reported on May 7:

“British Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives are on course to win the most seats in parliament but will be just shy of an outright majority, an exit poll showed on Thursday after voting closed in a national election. The poll put the Conservatives on 316 seats and the main opposition Labour Party on 239. The Scottish National Party (SNP) is set to win 58 seats, all but wiping Labour out in its former Scottish stronghold.

“The centrist Liberal Democrats, who have governed in coalition with the Conservatives for the past five years, will get just 10 seats in the 650-seat Westminster parliament, according to the poll released by national broadcasters. However, the combined total of 326 for the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats indicated that Cameron should be able to stay in office, maybe with the support of another small party… Cameron’s Conservatives campaigned on a promise to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the EU before holding a referendum by 2017 on whether to stay in the bloc or leave.”

USA Today reported on May 7:

“If the exit poll from Britain’s election Thursday proves reasonably accurate, the expected frenetic political horse-trading to form a new government likely will be avoided… The projected Conservative seats still would not be quite enough for Cameron to secure an outright majority in the House of Commons, but it would be close. And it would be more than the 307 seats Cameron’s party secured in 2010, when the Conservatives were forced into a coalition with Nick Clegg of the centrist Liberal Democrats to form a governing majority in the 650-member House of Commons.

“Backroom deals and alliances with smaller parties further out of the political mainstream might probably still occur, but the Conservatives should find it easier to get over the 326 line — perhaps by partnering again with Clegg and the anti-immigrant, European Union-bashing United Kingdom Independence Party. Earlier projections of a stronger showing by left-center Labour suggested it would take days, possibly weeks to form the next government. Now it may all be wrapped by the weekend with a pretty red ribbon on top.”

Baltimore Charges Unsustainable… Based on Politics and Crowd Control

Newsmax reported on May 2:

“Criminal charges filed Friday against six Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray were based on ‘politics and crowd control,’ not justice, renowned civil rights lawyer Alan Dershowitz tells Newsmax TV. ‘This is a very sad day for justice . . . Today had nothing to do with justice. Today was crowd control. Everything was motivated by a threat of riots and a desire to prevent riots,’ Dershowitz said… ‘The mayor outrageously said we’re going to get justice for the victim, the family and people of Baltimore, never mentioning the defendants. Under our Constitution, … the defendants… are presumed innocent, they need due process of law, and the mayor and the state attorney have made it virtually impossible for these defendants to get a fair trial. They have been presumed guilty.’

“Dershowitz made the comments hours after Baltimore’s top prosecutor, State Attorney Marilyn Mosby, announced criminal charges against six cops who were suspended after Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury while in custody in a police van. The charges came nearly two weeks after Gray’s death, which sparked riots that caused millions of dollars in damage and left dozens injured. The stiffest, second-degree, ‘depraved heart’ murder charge was lodged against the [black] driver of the van. The others face charges of involuntary manslaughter, assault and illegal arrest.

“But Dershowitz… said the case will very likely be thrown out for lack of evidence… ‘There’s no plausible, hypothetical, conceivable case for murder under the facts that we now know them… Nobody wanted this guy to die, nobody set out to kill him, and nobody intentionally murdered him. ‘The worst-case scenario is a case for involuntary manslaughter or some kind of reckless disregard… This is a show trial…

“Dershowitz added that the charges did not meet the criteria for justice in the United States. ‘It may have been the criteria in Rome, for Fidel Castro, in Iran, and in other countries, but in our country you don’t base indictments on what impact it’s going to have on the crowd,’ he said. ‘You base it on a hard, neutral, objective view of the evidence, and it doesn’t look like that was done here . . . They have invited a mess… They’ve overplayed their hand, it’s unlikely they’ll get any convictions in this case as a result of this, and if they do, there’s a good possibility it’ll be reversed on appeal and will just postpone the riots for months ahead.’”

Legalizing Three-Way Marriages in the UK?

The Daily Mail wrote on May 1:

“Green party leader Natalie Bennett has revealed she is open to the idea of legalising three-way marriages. Party members could get the chance to formulate policy to permit so-called polyamorous relationships, which would allow more than two people to enter into marriages or have civil partnerships. Ms Bennett said the Greens had already led the way in calling for the liberalisation of marriage laws and is ‘open’ to going further…

“David Robertson, from the Free Church of Scotland, contended the idea. He said: ‘Natalie Bennett is of course just being consistent. Given her presuppositions and philosophy, why shouldn’t “marriage equality” extend to multiple people who “love each other”? We warned that the redefinition of marriage would not end with same-sex marriage and were ridiculed and abused as being ridiculous. It gives us no pleasure to know that we were right.’

“The Green Party… proposes ‘mandatory HIV, sex and relationship education – age appropriate and LGBTIQ inclusive – in all schools from primary level onwards… It also suggests considering a reduction in the 12-month blood donation deferral period for men who have sex with men, based on individual risk assessment where the donor is identified to be not at risk of passing infections into the blood supply.”

Let this be a warning for other countries, including the USA, where same-sex marriages are legal or where they are considered of becoming legal.

“If He Says He Is a Woman, Then He Is a Woman…”

The Hill reported on May 2:

“Bruce Jenner got support from a surprising quarter on Saturday: Rick Santorum. ‘If he says he’s a woman, then he’s a woman,’ Santorum, the former GOP senator from Pennsylvania, said… Jenner, the former Olympic gold medalist and reality television star, announced last week that he identified as and was transitioning to a woman. Santorum, who is considering a second straight bid for the Republican nomination, has long had a reputation as a staunch social conservative. ‘My responsibility as a human being is to love and accept everybody. Not to criticize people for who they are. I can criticize, and I do, for what people do, for their behavior. But as far as for who they are, you have to respect everybody,’ Santorum said.

“Santorum did add that ‘these are tough issues’ for both businesses and society, including the question of whether Jenner could use a women’s bathroom. Santorum has been one of the GOP’s most strident opponents of gay marriage over the years, at one point comparing the issue to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Last month, Santorum said he wouldn’t attend a gay wedding – something other potential GOP candidates have said they would.”

“Hillary Clinton Believes She Is a God”

Breitbart reported on May 2:

“In a candid interview, Nigerian bishop Emmanuel Badejo has responded bluntly to Hillary Clinton’s recent assertion that religious beliefs ‘have to be changed’ in order to give women access to reproductive health care. ‘If these values are not precious to Hillary Clinton, I think she has no right at all to call for a change in religious values and religious beliefs,’ he said. ‘I believe there are three groups of people in this world: those who believe in God, those who do not believe in God, and those who think they are gods. Hillary Clinton I think is one of those who thinks she is a god,’ said Badejo, who is Director of Communications for the African Bishops.”

It is amazing that Catholic Bishop Badejo would equate those who believe they can change God’s spiritual law with those who believe they are “gods.” The Roman Catholic Church has changed consistently God’s spiritual law and His values, by replacing the Sabbath with Sunday, God’s annual Holy Days with holidays such as Christmas and Easter which have their origin in paganism, and God’s prohibition against killing with the concept of a “justified” war, just to list a few examples. The time will come when a Pope will sit in the future Temple of God in Jerusalem, claiming to be God (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4), and when he sets “his heart as the heart of a god” (Ezekiel 28:6), but then realizes that he is just a man, and not a god (verse 9).

The Russian Rehabilitation of Evil Stalin

AFP wrote on May 5:

“Since President Vladimir Putin took power in 2000, there has been a growing chorus of Russians who take a positive view of the Soviet tyrant’s role in history… The palpable change… has particularly come into stark focus in the run-up to Russia’s celebrations of Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in WWII… In February, Russia unveiled a monument to the watershed 1945 ‘Big Three’ Yalta summit that features Stalin along with US president Franklin D. Roosevelt and British prime minister Winston Churchill, despite objections from Crimean Tatars, an ethnic group persecuted under his rule…

“‘Stalin’s rehabilitation is being steadily implemented,’ Nikita Petrov, a historian at Memorial, Russia’s most prominent rights organisation, told AFP. ‘It’s a sign of unlearnt history lessons, a reluctance to look at yourself and honestly admit that we took the wrong path and that our country committed a host of crimes against its own people and the people of neighbouring states.’ He said officials, who are nostalgic for the superpower status of the USSR, have consciously been promoting Stalin as a tough leader who led the Soviet Union to victory in WWII and presided over the country’s industrialisation. Those sentiments are now shared by many everyday Russians…

“45 percent of respondents said in March that sacrifices sustained by people under Stalin were justified by the country’s ‘great goals’, up from 27 percent in October 2008. On top of that, the number of those who viewed Stalin negatively fell to 20 percent from 43 percent in April 2001… According to Petrov of the Memorial rights group, which is dedicated to honouring the memory of Stalin-era victims, about ten million people died of starvation, more than five million were displaced, and about six to seven million were arrested for political reasons. Many analysts warn that unless Russians get the Stalin cult out of their system history may repeat itself.”

Stalin was a brutal mass murderer… no better than Hitler. Russia’s positive view of him is alarming and frightening indeed.

The German Navy Gets Involved

Deutsche Welle reported on May 2:

“The German navy has sent two ships as part of efforts to prevent migrants from dying in the Mediterranean. The EU was spurred into action after a migrant ship capsized, killing around 800 people a few weeks ago… The frigate is equipped with a radar system that would allow it to locate migrant boats as far as 40 kilometers (25 miles) away. It would also be capable of picking up up to 100 people in distress. The combat support ship, on the other hand, is equipped with a military hospital and has the capacity to treat 250 people for two days… a German army source… said that the two German ships would not be tasked with trying to catch human traffickers who take money from would-be migrants…

“France and Britain are among EU countries that pledged during last month’s Brussels summit to send more ships to the Mediterranean [to] cope with the problem. The leaders also agreed to triple funding for the Triton border protection mission. The conflicts in Syria and Libya have contributed to a major increase in the number of migrants attempting the crossing…”

“European Army One of the Main Goals for EU” reported on May 3:

“Creating a European army remains one of the main goals for [the] EU, but it is important to start strengthening the union’s security system now, Germany’s Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen told Bild am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday. A European army is a long-term goal, while for now the most important thing is to gradually strengthen the European Defense Community, she said.

“Answering a question on the goals of strengthening the European Defense Community, von der Leyen said that the Ebola outbreak and Islamic State organization’s attacks on Yazidis demonstrated that in case of crisis, Europe needs to be more flexible and quick in providing a response.”

Germany Remembers Dachau

AFP wrote on May 3:

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Sunday that society must ‘never close its eyes’ to anti-Semitism as she joined Holocaust survivors to mark 70 years since the liberation of the former Nazi concentration camp at Dachau… American forces liberated the Dachau camp on April 29, 1945 and discovered on arrival the unspeakable horror that had led to the death of around 43,000 people from starvation or disease…

“US President Barack Obama paid tribute Wednesday to the more than 200,000 Jews, gays, Roma, political opponents, the disabled and prisoners of war who were imprisoned at Dachau from 1933…”

The Associated Press wrote on May 3:

“Merkel thanked survivors for sharing memories of suffering that is ‘beyond our imagination,’ which she said help young people today ‘connect naked numbers and data with faces, names and individual lives.’ And she stressed the importance of ensuring that today’s youth do not turn to extremism. All in Germany must ‘make unmistakably clear that Jewish life is part of our identity; that discrimination, marginalization and anti-Semitism can have no place here, that they must be fought with determination and the full force of legal means,’ she said.

“Abba Naor, a Lithuanian-born former Dachau prisoner who now lives in Israel… recalled an SS guard ordering the killing of a new-born Jewish boy in December 1944 and reports that some SS commanders were ‘loving fathers who played with their children after they had driven thousands into the gas chambers… If you think the Nazis were inhuman, then you’re wrong,’ he said. ‘They were humans like you and me. And that is what is so terrible.’”

The German NSA Scandal… Is Getting Worse

Deutsche Welle wrote on May 5:

“The Austrian government has filed suit due to suspicions that Germany’s BND spying agency, in collaboration with the NSA, may have spied on its authorities and companies… German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended her country’s intelligence agency on Monday against suggestions that it illegally assisted the US in spying on politicians and companies in Europe, including France’s Airbus, the main competitor of America’s Boeing aircraft manufacturer. [Subsequently, the French aviation giant Airbus has announced that it would file a criminal complaint.]

“But the BND affair does not promise to go away quietly and has shown how dangerous it could prove for the ‘untouchable’ Ms. Merkel and her Christian Democrats (CDU). Sigmar Gabriel, the vice-chancellor from coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD), broke a Berlin taboo on Monday by discussing a personal conversation he had with the chancellor over the matter… He hedged his comments, however, by adding that if [Merkel’s] allegations turn out [not] to be true, ‘it would be a big strain of the faith of the economy in governmental behavior.’

“Gabriel’s move was deemed a ‘clever’ one by analysts – a way to put responsibility on Chancellor Merkel and her CDU as his party continues to trail them in the polls – while stopping short of openly challenging her.”

On Tuesday, Gabriel added in parliament that the CDU has been in power for over 10 years and are therefore responsible. Der Spiegel Online said that the harmony between the two partners is over, and Bild Online spoke of an open rift between the two coalition parties. According to Deutsche Welle, dated May 6, “A poll released Wednesday found that 62 percent of respondents… believe the affair has damaged Merkel’s credibility.”

De Maiziere “Knew Nothing”!

The Local wrote on May 7:

“Merkel’s close ally, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière… emerged from a closed-door grilling by a parliamentary oversight panel, denying any wrongdoing while he ran her office and oversaw intelligence matters. ‘As chancellery chief of staff in 2008 I knew nothing about search terms from the US side or … similar things for the purpose of industrial espionage in Germany,’ he told reporters…

“… de Maiziere was accused of misleading parliament over the ‘BND affair’… Opposition politicians harshly disagreed with the latest comments by de Maiziere, who was last week caricatured as a liar with a Pinocchio nose in Germany’s best-selling newspaper Bild…

“Domestically, the scandal presents a rare threat to the broadly popular Merkel… Now facing allegations of hypocrisy, Merkel has softened her statement to say friends ‘shouldn’t’ spy on each other, while stressing the importance of US intelligence cooperation in the face of terrorist threats… For now the affair shows no sign of abating…”

De Maiziere is famous for his proclaimed “innocence.” He has weathered several scandals in the past, when his integrity, honesty and competency were severely questioned.

BND Cuts Spy Data Feed to NSA

The Local wrote on May 7:

“The foreign intelligence agency BND this week stopped sharing Internet surveillance data with the US National Security Agency (NSA), passing on only fax and phone intercepts… Berlin now demands that the NSA provide a justification for each online surveillance request, reported the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily, public broadcasters NDR and WDR, and national news agency DPA…

“‘This is definitely a dramatic step,’ said Green party lawmaker Konstantin von Notz, who serves on a parliamentary panel investigating the NSA’s surveillance activities… , charging that the [German] government was unable ‘to protect German and European interests’… The ‘BND affair’ has rattled the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel and caused a rift in her ‘grand coalition’ government with the centre-left Social Democrats…”

“Animals Will Waste Away”

The Washington Post  wrote on May 6:

“… on California’s sprawling Carrizo Plain, about 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles,… the drought is turning hundreds of thousands of acres of grassland into desert.

“Without grass, long-legged kangaroo rats cannot eat. And as they go, so go a variety of threatened animals that depend on the keystone species to live…

“Endangered kangaroo rats are just one falling tile in the drought’s domino effect on wildlife in the lower Western states. Large fish kills are happening in several states as waters heated by higher temperatures drain and lose oxygen. In Northern California, salmon eggs have virtually disappeared as water levels fall. Thousands of migrating birds are crowding into wetlands shrunk by drought, risking the spread of disease that can cause huge die-offs.

“As the baking Western landscape becomes hotter and drier, land animals are being forced to seek water and food far outside their normal range. Herbivores such as deer and rabbits searching for a meal in urban gardens in Reno are sometimes pursued by hawks, bobcats and mountain lions. In Arizona, rattlesnakes have come to Flagstaff, joining bears and other animals in search of food that no longer exists in their habitat…

“About 4,000 mule deer have vanished from a mountain range near Reno since late last year, probably because of drought…

“Chinook salmon are in great danger… For two years, only 5 percent of their eggs have survived winter and spring migrations because the cold water their eggs need to survive drains from rivers and reservoirs…

“Smelt are at the lowest number ever recorded in the state. They are a major forage fish, feeding other fish and birds in the marine ecosystem…”

The warning in Hosea 4:3 comes to mind: “… the beast of the field And the birds of the air; Even the fish of the sea will be taken away.”

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