This Week in the News

Coming–Violent Civil War in the USA?

The Week wrote on June 23:

“The most telling aspect of a crazed partisan’s 50-round assault on Republican lawmakers last week was that it was not all that surprising. Horrifying, yes. Shocking, no. Mass shootings have become as commonplace in this country as wildfires; partisan hatred has reached a fever pitch unseen since the 1960s, and perhaps the 1850s. Millions of people despise the other political tribe with a visceral passion, and the other tribe loathes them right back.

“Two decades ago… just 21 percent of Republicans and 17 percent of Democrats gave the other party a ‘very unfavorable’ rating. By last year, that contempt rating had shot up to 58 percent and 55 percent, respectively. More troubling still: 45 percent of Republicans and 41 percent of Democrats view the other party as ‘a threat to the nation’s well-being.’ Combine apocalyptic panic with the most polarizing presidency in modern times, frequent and increasingly violent conflicts between far-left and far-right protesters, and 300 million or so firearms, and you’ve got a nation whose RPM needle is climbing into the red zone.

“… Democrats and Republicans are self-segregating into geographic, cultural, and media ghettos of like-minded souls, making it easier to demonize those who are outside the wall…”

Obama Administration’s Inaction on Russia’s Meddling in US Elections

The Week wrote on June 23:

“On Friday, The Washington Post published an extraordinary, comprehensive report of the Obama administration’s action and inaction in the face of mounting evidence that Russia had severely affected the U.S. presidential election last year. ‘It is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend,’ one senior Obama administration official confessed. ‘I feel like we sort of choked.’

“The administration’s response is depicted as frustratingly hesitant, even as the severity of Russia’s actions became impossible to ignore. ‘Obama’s approach often seemed reducible to a single imperative: Don’t make things worse,’ the Post writes. Additionally, ‘the assumption that [Hillary] Clinton would win contributed to the lack of urgency.’ While Obama eventually took steps to ready an attack against Russia’s cyber-infrastructure, it falls on ‘President Trump to decide whether to use the capability.'”

The Senate’s Proposed Health Care Bill

The Huffington Post wrote on June 22:

“Senate Republicans released their draft health care bill Thursday, unveiling a proposed rollback of Medicaid expansion and funding while ensuring hefty tax cuts for the wealthy and health care companies. Among other things, the bill reduces the number of middle-income people eligible to get tax credits for private health insurance, eliminates the individual and employer mandates, and bans Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal funding for one year.

“The Senate’s bill is similar to the one the House passed last month. The Senate bill would cut Medicaid more than the House measure, allow insurers to charge older people higher rates [up to five times what they charge younger people] and permit states to waive rules guaranteeing insurance covers a basic set of benefits [for health care products and services]. The Senate bill does not include some of the particularly harsh aspects of the House legislation, including a provision that would let states end protections for people with pre-existing conditions [Insurance companies cannot deny coverage or charge higher rates for people with preexisting conditions, based on patients’ health or medical histories].”

In a related article, The Huffington Post wrote:

“Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) slammed Senate Republicans’ bill to repeal Obamacare as a ‘barbaric’ plan that means thousands will die so the wealthy can get billions of dollars in tax breaks… ‘If you throw 23 million people off of health insurance, if you cut Medicaid by over $800 billion dollars, there is no question but that thousands of Americans will die… The purpose of this whole legislation… is to provide $500 billion in tax breaks for the top 2 percent, for the insurance companies, for the drug companies and other major corporations.’…

“Sanders acknowledged that premiums, deductibles and copays are currently ‘too high’ under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare… But he added that prices are rising because the Trump administration is ‘sabotaging’ Obamacare, and the system will not be improved by ejecting millions who rely on it, including children. ‘I don’t care what your political view is,’ Sanders said. ‘I don’t think there are many Americans who think that we [should] give unbelievably large tax breaks to billionaires, and then tell disabled kids or people who are in nursing homes todaythat we’re going to punish them to give tax breaks to billionaires. Man, that is not what this country is supposed to be about.'”

More Opposition to Healthcare Bill

The Associated Press reported on June 24:

“Nevada Republican Dean Heller became the fifth GOP senator to declare his opposition to [the proposed 142-page Senate Health care bill]… more than enough to sink the measure and deliver a stinging rebuke to President Donald Trump unless some of them can be brought aboard… Facing unanimous Democratic opposition, [the Senate Republicans] can afford to lose just two of the 52 GOP senators and still prevail.

“Besides the five who’ve announced outright opposition, several other GOP senators — conservatives and moderates — have declined to commit to the new overhaul…

“Heller, facing a competitive re-election battle next year, said he was opposing the legislation because of the cuts it would make in Medicaid. The federal-state program provides health care to the poor, disabled and many nursing home patients… The Senate legislation would phase out extra federal money Nevada and 30 other states receive for expanding Medicaid to additional low earners. It would also slap annual spending caps on the overall Medicaid program, which since its inception in 1965 has provided states with unlimited money to cover eligible costs…

Trump has spoken favorably about both the House-passed bill and the Senate version unveiled this week, though he declared several times as he ramped up his campaign for the presidency that he would not cut Medicaid…”

Vote on Senate Health Care Bill Delayed

Newsmax added on June 28:

“Tuesday’s decision to delay the vote… came amid deep GOP discontent with the proposed legislation… Five Republican senators indicated they would not proceed to a debate on the proposed legislation… Senate Majority Leader… McConnell’s decision to delay the vote took some of his Republican colleagues by surprise… McConnell told Republican senators his goal is to revise the bill and hold a vote soon after the July 4 recess…  But Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said: ‘Tinkering isn’t going to work, from my perspective. There would have to be a major overhaul of the bill … to win my support.’”

A new NPR/“PBS NewsHour”/Marist poll, which was released on June 28 suggests that the proposed Senate health care bill is extremely unfavorable with the vast majority of the American people. Only 17 percent supported the bill, while more than half of respondents said they disapprove of the legislation, and 24 percent said they hadn’t heard enough about it to have an opinion.

Four Million People Would Lose Health Insurance in 2018 under Proposed Senate Health Care Bill

Newsmax reported on June 26:

“Four million people will lose their employer-provided healthcare coverage next year under the Senate’s repeal-and-replace Obamacare proposal – twice as many predicted to lose their work coverage under a House plan [according to the Congressional Budget Office’s scoring of the Senate bill]… According to the report released Monday, 15 million more people would become uninsured next year. The CBO projected 22 million people will lose coverage over the course of 10 years…”

With a typical response, the White House rejected the CBO’s unfavorable predictions.

US Supreme Court Allows Limited Version of Trump’s Travel Ban to Take Effect

The Washington Post wrote on June 26:

“The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to allow a limited version of President Trump’s ban on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries to take effect, and will consider in the fall [in October] the president’s broad powers in immigration matters in a case that raised fundamental issues of national security and religious discrimination.

“The court made an important exception: it said the ban ‘may not be enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.’ The court also said in the ruling that it would consider whether the case will be moot by the time it hears it; the ban is supposed to be a temporary one while the government reviews its vetting procedures.

“The action means that the administration may impose a 90-day ban on travelers from Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and a 120-day ban on all refugees entering the United States, with the exceptions noted by the court. Trump said last week the ban would go into effect 72 hours after receiving an approval from the courts…”

In clarifying the requirement of a bona fide relationship, the Huffington Post added on June 26:

“The court’s order… said that a ‘close familial relationship is required’ for individuals who wish to live with or visit a family member. When the relationship is with an entity like a university, it must be ‘formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course…

“As an example, they said, students and lecturers would have a formal relationship, as would someone who accepted employment with an American company. But it would not apply to someone who ‘enters into a relationship simply to avoid’ the executive order. For example, the order said, ‘a nonprofit group devoted to immigration issues may not contact foreign nationals from the designated countries, add them to client lists, and then secure their entry by claiming injury from their exclusion.’”

The New York Times provided further information on June 26:

“The court, in effect, said that foreigners with ties or relationships in the United States would not be prohibited from entering the country. But, those applying for visas who had never been here, or had no family, business or other ties could be prohibited… The court said the distinction should be easy to administer…

“Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch, dissented from part of the court’s opinion. They said they would have revived the travel ban in its entirety while the court considered the case. ‘I fear that the court’s remedy will prove unworkable,’ Justice Thomas wrote.”

JTA wrote on June 26:

“HIAS — formerly known as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society… called the announcement ‘mixed news’… the group’s CEO and president, Mark Hetfield… criticized the fact that those without such [bona fide] ties [including refugees] could now be barred from entering the United States… ‘Certainly in the case of refugees, this order will have a tragic toll on those who have fled for their lives and played by our rules to find refuge in the United States.’ HIAS was founded in the 1880s as a resource for newly arrived Jewish immigrants.”

The 16-page decision by the US Supreme Court states that generally, the President has the right to prohibit certain people from entering the USA, and it quoted a decision to the effect that an unadmitted and nonresident alien has no constitutional right of entry to this country. The Supreme Court also said that in the case of a refugee lacking a bona fide relationship with a particular person, “the balance tips in favor of the Government’s compelling need to provide for the Nation’s security.” With this highly questionable rationale, thousands upon thousands of Jews were barred from entering the United States prior to and during World War II and were murdered in Nazi Germany’s concentration camps.

The decision failed to address the legal argument that the travel ban could very well be construed as a Muslim travel ban, given the President’s and his advisors’ own words and descriptions of the ban, which could be unconstitutional for that reason alone.

The Supreme Court’s decision, and the US immigration law on which it is based, are bound to create strong dissent within the USA and all over the world, as the decision would allow the President to prevent anyone, lacking a “bona fide relationship,” from entering the USA, including tourists as well as refugees fleeing for their lives. This could include persons from France and Germany, as he once threatened. It is high time the USA wakes up and notices what is happening.

Who Can Come In

Bloomberg wrote on June‎ ‎28‎, ‎2017:

“The Trump administration issued guidelines to U.S. embassies and consulates on how to enforce new restrictions on travel to the U.S. by refugees and migrants from six countries [which went] into effect as of 8 p.m. eastern time Thursday…

“A diplomatic cable outlining the guidelines defines close family that would be allowed U.S. entry as a parent (including parent-in-law), spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in- law, daughter-in-law, sibling, whether whole or half and including step relationships…

“But it doesn’t include grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-laws and sisters-in-law, fiancés and any other extended family members, the person said…

Existing visas will be respected, but new applicants from the countries must prove a relationship with a parent, spouse, child, sibling or close in-law already in the U.S…

“Implementing the ban requires providing clear guidance for thousands of customs and consular officials, as well as airlines and other travel companies around the world seeking to avoid the confusion and chaos generated by Trump’s initial attempt to enforce his policy in January.”

Please note our new StandingWatch program, “Limited Version of Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban Takes Effect”.

“The TSA Is Going to Look Through Your Books but Promises Not to Notice what You’re Reading”

On June 25, the Drudge Report linked to the following article by The Week, dated on June 1:

“The TSA began a new screening policy for paper products at airport checkpoints in Missouri last month, and now the agency’s branch in Sacramento, California, is testing out more invasive searches for books and food items.

“In the new system, passengers are required to take all reading material and food out of their carry-on luggage and place it in a separate bin. TSA screeners can ‘fan’ through travelers’ books to see if anything is hidden in the pages, but agency officials insist they will not pay attention to the content. Critics have long argued passengers selected for extra screening are not chosen as randomly as the TSA claims, and book content — particularly of a political or religious nature — could re-ignite that debate. ‘It’s always been a series of insults,’ said Julie Sze, University of California, Davis, professor who experienced the test procedure at Sacramento. ‘Books, magazines, food, those are like my three treasured things. It feels personal on a whole different level.’

“Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Sunday he will likely expand the new searches nationwide and may also ban laptop carry-ons for all international flights in and out of the United States.”

The continuing intrusive conduct of TSA is very time-consuming, annoying and bothersome for travelers, to say the least. Why TSA would need to look at books or magazines to find hidden material, which would clearly show up through normal screening of the carry-on luggage, is beyond anybody’s imagination. The same goes for the ridiculous and unintelligent plan to ban laptop carry-ons.

The Associated Press reported on June 28:

“The Homeland Security Department is set to announce new security for international flights bound to the United States. Industry and U.S. officials briefed on the announcement said airports and airlines around the world will be required to implement the measures. If they don’t, their passengers may be barred from carrying laptops and other large electronics in passenger cabins…”

“Donald Trump’s Deputies Quietly Push Transgender Ideology Onto Schools”

Breitbart wrote on June 23:

“An internal memo in the Department of Education says officials will investigate schoolteachers who do not comply with children’s demands to be called by the opposite-sex pronoun, for example, ‘her’ instead of ‘him.’ The instruction was part of a jargon-filled memo dated June 6, and signed by Candice Jackson, the Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the U.S. Education Department, which provides instructions to staff concerning ‘complaints involving transgender students.’…

“In February, the Trump administration reversed former President Barack Obama’s guidance that allowed gender-confused students to use the bathrooms and showers of whichever gender they prefer – without restrictions – rather than those corresponding to their biological sex… However… Trump’s new policy… has not formally rejected the transgender ideology. The ideology claims that a person’s legal sex — and their pronouns — are determined by their flexible choice of ‘gender identity,’ not their actual biology… even if the parents oppose…

“The OCR memo also underscores the potential dangers inherent in school vouchers and other financial mechanisms that use taxpayer funding to facilitate school choice. Federal oversight, as seen in the OCR memo, could be extended to these schools as well…”

American Ambassador Meddling in Romanian Affairs on Same-Sex Marriage

Breitbart reported on June 24:

“The Obama-appointed ambassador to Romania, Hans Klemm, has stoked a national debate on the role of U.S. diplomacy abroad by openly advocating same-sex marriage… Last month, Klemm attended a widely publicized Gay Pride march in Bucharest on May 20 to show his support for the LGBT agenda in a country where same-sex marriage is still illegal

“Last fall, Klemm explained in an interview with a Romanian news agency why he publicly pushes for gay marriage. While acknowledging that it is a ‘sensitive subject,’ Klemm claimed that the U.S. Supreme Court had ‘resolved the legal problem over gay marriage, stating that it is unconstitutional and illegal to deny civil marriage to same-sex couples… Therefore, the U.S. should support gay marriage everywhere in the world,’ Klemm stated.

“Klemm’s overt advocacy of gay marriage has met with backlash in the conservative country, and the ambassador has been criticized for abusing his position to meddle in the internal affairs of the nation

“It remains to be seen whether President Trump will encourage officials from the State Department to continue to actively agitate for the LGBT agenda abroad, or whether he will instead encourage restraint and greater respect for national sovereignty, faith, and traditions.”

It is highly inappropriate for any ambassador to meddle in the internal affairs of the nation where he resides—and especially when advocating something which the Bible clearly condemns.

President Trump’s Awful Reputation Worldwide

Flipboard wrote on June 25:

“A new poll from the Pew Research Center has found that Donald Trump’s presidency is strongly and negatively impacting how the rest of the world views the United States. At the end of Barack Obama’s term, 64 percent of global respondents said they were confident in the U.S. president, compared to 22 percent now. Seventy-four percent of those surveyed said they have no confidence in Trump. Compared to the final years of Obama’s presidency, Trump received higher ratings in just two of the 37 countries surveyed – Russia and Israel… ‘The sharp decline in how much global public’s trust the U.S. president on the world stage is especially pronounced among some of America’s closest allies in Europe and Asia, as well as neighboring Mexico and Canada,’ the report states.

“The negative perceptions of the U.S. president appear to be impacting U.S. favorability ratings in general. Sixty-four percent of those surveyed had favorable views of the U.S. at the end of the Obama presidency, compared to 49 percent now…

Arrogant, intolerant and dangerous — these are all traits that a sizeable majority of global respondents said describe the U.S. president. On the other hand, 55 percent see him as a strong leader, while 39 percent say that he is charismatic. Only about one in four people stated that they found Trump ‘well-qualified to be president’  and ‘caring about ordinary people.’

“The survey asked about five of the Trump administration’s signature policy proposals — withdrawing from the Iran deal, restricting travelers from some Muslim-majority countries, withdrawing from climate change and trade agreements, and building a wall along the border with Mexico. It found that all of these positions are unpopular globally

“Poll results in Mexico show some of the most dramatic drops in confidence for the U.S. president — from 49 percent under Obama to 5 percent under Trump…”

Trump’s Deeply Offensive Tweet Condemned

Deutsche Welle wrote on June 29:

“US President Donald Trump has attracted criticism from within his own partyfor a Twitter tirade against female journalist Mika Brzezinski. Republicans said the comments were ‘beneath the office’ of president. Trump unleashed his attack on Thursday, apparently in response to comments by television host Mika Brzezinski on the left-leaning network MSNBC.

“Ironically, it came after Brzezinski had attacked Trump for his ‘bullying’ Twitter tirades. During the ‘Morning Joe’ show, Brzezinski said that if an executive at NBC, MSNBC’s parent company, ‘started tweeting wildly about people’s appearances, bullying people… that person would be thrown out. There would be concerns that the person who runs the company is out of his mind.’

“Trump’s response was aimed at both Mika Brzezinski and her co-host Joe Scarborough. Trump hurled a rapid-fire series of insults in just one Tweet, accusing Brzezinski of having a ‘low IQ,’ being ‘crazy’ and ‘bleeding badly from a face-lift’ while on a visit to his Mar-a-Lago golf resort. Trump called Scarborough a ‘psycho.’

Many senior Republicans sought to distance themselves from the tweets. ‘Obviously I don’t see that as an appropriate comment,’ said Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. ‘The president’s tweets today don’t help our political or national discourse and do not provide a positive role model for our national dialogue,’ said Republican Senator James Lankford.

“One of Trump’s more frequent Republican critics, Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, urged the president to restrain himself. ‘Please just stop. This isn’t normal and it’s beneath the dignity of your office.’ Longtime Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said the tweets were ‘beneath the office’ of president and that they represent ‘what is wrong with American politics.’

“There were also responses on Twitter, including one from Jeb Bush, Trump’s rival for the White House nomination last year. However, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended the president, saying he was ‘pushing back against people who have attacked him day after day after day. Where is the outrage on that?’…

“In addition to his attacks on the mainstream media, Trump has singled out individual journalists before, including a notorious invective against former Fox News and current NBC journalist Megyn Kelly. The president has also made numerous statements about women that have been widely criticized as inappropriate, misogynist, sexist, and offensive to women.”

“Merkel’s Husband’s Plans for Melania Trump”

Bild Online wrote on June 26:

“Prof. Joachim Sauer (68), husband of Chancellor Angela Merkel (62, CDU) [and a quantum chemist,] wants to raise awareness of the dangers of climate change for Donald Trump’s wife Melania (47) and daughter Ivanka (35) at the G20 summit (from July 7 to July 8, 2017).

“As is well-known, US President Donald Trump (71) is not yet too convinced that climate change exists at all. This might be the reason why Sauer has included a visit to the German Climate Computing Centre (DKRZ) in the so-called partner programme… The Centre features superfast high-end computers. Researchers investigate and simulate what climate change might mean for our future and that of the Earth.”

No More Teaching of Evolution in Turkey’s High Schools

The New York Times wrote on June 23:

“Turkey has removed the concept of evolution from its high school curriculum… Starting in September, a chapter on evolution will no longer appear in ninth graders’ textbooks because it is considered too ‘controversial’ an idea, an official announced this week. ‘Our students don’t have the necessary scientific background and information-based context needed to comprehend’ the debate about evolution, said the official…

“‘The last crumbs of secular scientific education have been removed,’ said Feray Aytekin Aydogan, the head of Egitim-Sen, a union of secular-minded teachers… Removing evolution from the curriculum, Ms. Aydogan said, puts Turkey in the same league as ultraconservative Saudi Arabia, where the concept is briefly mentioned in the curriculum but strongly criticized.”

Whatever the motives are behind Turkey’s decision not to teach evolution in high school, we applaud this decision as the evolution theory is clearly false and completely unscientific.

Newsweek added on June 23:

“[The] Evolutionary theory is contentious in some majority-Muslim countries, where creationism—a belief that a divine being created human beings as they exist in their current state—holds sway. A 2011 survey of 23 countries found that Saudi Arabia, a conservative Islamic kingdom, led the way in terms of creationism, with 75 percent of respondents saying they did not believe in evolution. Turkey was second, with 60 percent of respondents saying they were creationists.

“But creationism is also a widely-held belief in some Western or traditionally Christian countries, including the United States. A 2014 poll found that 42 percent of Americans believed that God created humans in their present form around 10,000 years ago.”

Actually, God created humans “in their present form” about 6,000 years ago.

A New Noah’s Ark Exhibit

The Times of Israel wrote on June 26:

“Noah’s seaborne menagerie [carried] enough animals, birds and insects to repopulate the earth after the great flood waters receded. And for those wondering what the floating fauna looked like, a new exhibit at the Morgan Library & Museum called ‘Noah’s Beasts: Sculpted Animals from Ancient Mesopotamia’ suggests that they were strikingly similar to the kinds of animals still found in the contemporary Middle East.

“The show explores the story of the great deluge through actual animal depictions dating back to 3300 BCE. But it also connects past to present: All of the sculptures on display… still roam the world today… On display through August 27, the exhibit offers a glimpse into the way people who lived thousands of years ago interpreted a story that is found in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions

“An Assyriologist named George Smith earned worldwide fame when, in 1872, while an assistant at the British Museum, he translated a tablet from seventh century BCE inscribed with a story of a long ago flood. The story etched into that stone, now known as ‘The Epic of Gilgamesh,’ was quite similar to the story told in the Book of Genesis.

“But the inspiration for the show came from… an even older cuneiform tablet containing the story known as the ‘Epic of Atrahasis,’… the earliest Akkadian version of the iconic flood story… Discovered in 1898, the tablet dates from the reign of the Babylonian King Ammisaduqa, who ruled between 1646 and 1626 BCE… archaeologists have unearthed evidence for devastating floods, most notably at Ur, located in present-day Iraq…”

It is interesting that the exhibit portrays animals which are strikingly similar to “modern” animals, which is biblically correct. Many exhibits of Noah’s Ark (especially those sponsored by “Creationists” who believe that the earth is only 6,000 years old) include pre-Adamic extinct animals, even though this would not be in accordance with the Bible.

Ridiculous Ultimatum for Qatar

Express wrote on June 24:

“Qatar… was given [an] ultimatum amid fears the diplomatic crisis in the region could further deepen, having so far failed to respond to a list [of] 13 demands brought by four Arab nations… The escalating crisis has been exacerbated by the sudden promotion of Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to crown prince of Saudi Arabia by his ageing father King Salman. Some officials in Riyhadh believe the 31-year-old is too impulsive, temperamental and aggressive to one day rule the oil-rich nation.

“As defence minister, Prince Mohammed led the country into the war in Yemen, considered a disaster by many and resulting in the deaths of countless civilians.  With greater power and influence, observers are worried the headstrong prince will take an even more robust approach towards Qatar if it fails to heed the warnings.”

As The Times of Israel reported on June 23, some of the 13 demands include:

“Curb diplomatic ties with Iran and close its diplomatic missions there. Expel members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard from Qatar and cut off any joint military cooperation with Iran… Shut down Al-Jazeera and its affiliate stations. Shut down news outlets that Qatar funds, directly and indirectly, including Arabi21, Rassd, Al Araby Al-Jadeed and Middle East Eye. Immediately terminate the Turkish military presence currently in Qatar and end any joint military cooperation with Turkey inside of Qatar…

Revoke Qatari citizenship for existing nationals where such citizenship violates those [foreign] countries’ laws. Stop all contacts with the political opposition in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Hand over all files detailing Qatar’s prior contacts with and support for those opposition groups. Pay reparations and compensation for loss of life and other, financial losses caused by Qatar’s policies in recent years. The sum will be determined in coordination with Qatar.

Align itself with the other Gulf and Arab countries militarily, politically, socially and economically, as well as on economic matters… Agree to all the demands within 10 days of it being submitted to Qatar, or the list becomes invalid…”

As could be expected, Qatar has already rejected these outlandish and ridiculous demands, and Turkey slammed them as violating international law.

Top US Senator to Block Arms Sales to Gulf States over Qatar Crisis

Deutsche Welle wrote on June 26:

“The chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee [Republican Senator Bob Corker] said Monday he would block US arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) until a diplomatic spat with Qatar is resolved… The senior senator’s threat adds pressure on GCC members to settle the crisis, triggered on June 6 when Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates imposed a blockade on Qatar and cut diplomatic ties.

“Under US law, the State Department must notify Congress 30 days before any major arms sale. Congress can then block the arms sale, or if it does nothing the sale goes through. Corker’s office said in a statement that major arms sales are also subject to ‘preliminary approval’ by the chairman and vice-chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee before the 30-stay congressional review process…”

Bombing Near Mecca

Deutsche Welle wrote on June 24:

“Regional rivals [Iran and Qatar] sent Saudi Arabia their support after police foiled a suicide bomber near Islam’s holiest site (Mecca) during Ramadan – an event that drew more than 1 million people this year… Police said they engaged in a shootout at the three-storey house with the suicide bomber, who blew himself up and caused the building to collapse. He died in the explosion and police arrested five other people…

“The Interior Ministry said the thwarted ‘terrorist plan’ would have violated ‘all sanctities by targeting the security of the Grand Mosque, the holiest place on Earth.’… Since late 2014, the kingdom has faced periodic bombings and shootings claimed by the ‘Islamic State.’ Saudi officials said three terror groups had planned Friday’s attack against the Grand Mosque: two based in Mecca and a third in the nearby city of Jeddah.”

One can only imagine what would have happened if that attack had been successful.

Liberal Islam?

Deutsche Welle wrote on June 24:

“It was described as a ‘world event in the heart of Berlin.’ And judging by the overwhelming response both at home and abroad to the opening of the determinately ‘liberal mosque’ in a Protestant church in Berlin’s Moabit district, this assessment is justified.

“… Seyran Ates, a German-Turkish lawyer and women’s rights activist, presented her reform project to the public: an integrative mosque for everyone. The Ibn Rushd-Goethe Mosque welcomes all Muslims, irrespective of denomination and sexual orientation.

“Furthermore, this house of worship – the only one of its kind in Germany – has explicitly abolished the segregation of the sexes during prayer. Men and women can pray alongside one another. A man and a woman led the first Friday prayers together. And – an important point, given the heated Islam debates in this country – the ‘female imam’ did not wear a headscarf!

‘The fact that reactions from predominantly Muslim countries to the opening of the Ibn Rushd Goethe Mosque have been both hostile and particularly forceful is not really any great surprise – not, at least, if one is aware of the repressive realities in these countries. This is true, too, of Egypt and Turkey, where protests against the Berlin mosque were particularly fierce…”

These forms of “liberal Islam” will not find any acceptance by the governments of Muslim countries. Shiite and Sunni countries even have a hard time cooperating with each other… a combined and unified “liberal” form of Islam, which to a large extent violates the clear dictates of the Koran, would be a total impossibility. Note the next article.

“Turkey Says Liberal German Mosque ‘Incompatible’ with Islam”

The Local wrote on June 22:

“Turkey’s religious affairs agency has expressed distaste over a new mosque in Berlin where men and women mingle freely, saying it was incompatible with the principles of Islam. Diyanet, which oversees religious activity in Turkey… said that the mosque ‘neglects’ the basic principles of Islam and was ‘incompatible with the worship, knowledge and methodology’ accumulated since the faith was founded by the Prophet Mohammed 14 centuries ago…

“Diyanet has influence over Muslim worship among the Turkish diaspora through the Ditib organisation controlled by Ankara that manages some 900 mosques or religious communities in Germany. Diyanet sends clerics to work in its mosques.

“Earlier this year, a furore erupted when German police raided the homes of four Turkish Muslim clerics working for Ditib suspected of spying for the government… Diyanet later said it had recalled six clerics from Germany for exceeding their authority but lashed out at German police for raiding the homes of the preachers.”

Further Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia

Newsweek wrote on June 23:

“A Crimean member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses has been ordered to prove he has renounced his faith or else take up arms for the occupying Russian army. The move follows Russia’s banning of the Christian denomination in April and its annexation of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea in 2014.

One of the central tenets of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ faith is an opposition to serving in the military. Previously in Russia, members have been allowed to undertake alternative civilian service. But that has changed since the country’s Supreme Court upheld a ruling from the justice ministry that they violated an anti-extremism law, liquidating all 395 of its local religious chapters and rendering the faith of 175,000 of its members illegal.

“There have since been multiple reports of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia being denied alternative civilian service… As well as violating the individual’s religious liberty, the order [to take up arms in Crimea] … flouts international humanitarian law. A United Nations resolution passed last December recognized Russia as an occupying force in Crimea.

“The Geneva Conventions states, ‘The Occupying Power may not compel protected persons to serve in its armed or auxiliary forces. No pressure or propaganda which aims at securing voluntary enlistment is permitted.’ Despite that, Russia has continued to conscript Crimeans into military service…

“The treatment of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia since the Supreme Court decision has already come under the microscope. As well as being denied alternative civilian service, there have been reports of meetings being disrupted by police and, in one instance, a Danish member being arrested. He now faces up to 10 years in prison.

“An appeal against the Supreme Court’s decision will be heard on July 17…”

Russia’s mean-spirited actions against political and religious minorities are appalling. The world stands idly by while Putin’s brutal dictatorship widens beyond restrictions.

“Netanyahu Under Fire after Reneging on Western Wall Deal”—No Mixed Gender Prayers at Western Wall

AFP wrote on June 26:

“Israel’s shelving of a deal to allow mixed-gender prayers at the Western Wall echoed far beyond religion Monday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused of abandoning reform efforts for political gain. Netanyahu’s cabinet voted Sunday to back out of the hard-won deal, provoking a flood of criticism and warnings it could damage Israel’s relationship with the United States’ influential Jewish community.

“That followed pressure from ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties who are part of Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition and follow a strict interpretation of religious rules. Such parties have often played a kingmaker role in Israeli politics and have opposed years of efforts by more liberal Jews to win equal rights for women at the Western Wall, one of the holiest sites in Judaism.

“Women and men currently pray in separate areas at the site in Jerusalem’s Old City, where religious affairs are overseen by Israel’s ultra-Orthodox establishment. A compromise reached more than a year ago would have created a third space near the wall, open to both women and men. Sunday’s cabinet vote froze the deal — effectively cancelling it — despite the government having earlier endorsed it.

“In a sign of the tensions the decision provoked, the Jewish Agency, a quasi-governmental organisation that helped mediate the deal, heavily criticised the move and cancelled an event with Netanyahu scheduled for Monday evening in response. Yair Lapid, an opposition figure and leader of the centrist Yesh Atid party, said the decision meant Israel was ‘the only democracy in the world without equality for Jews.’…

“[Netanyahu’s] coalition, seen as the most right-wing in Israel’s history, holds 66 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, or parliament. Ultra-Orthodox parties control 13 of the coalition’s seats. Some 10 percent of Israel’s population are considered ultra-Orthodox.

“The Western Wall, located in Jerusalem’s Old City, is venerated by Jews as a remnant of a wall supporting the Second Temple complex, which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD…

“Sunday’s move to back out of the deal prompted anger among Jewish movements in the United States, home to more than five million Jews, most of whom are not Orthodox… It is a sensitive issue for Israel, which relies on the United States as its most important ally, providing it with strong diplomatic support and more than $3 billion (2.7 billion euros) per year in defence aid. Many Israelis see support from Jewish communities in the United States and worldwide as essential… But for Israel’s ultra-Orthodox establishment, changes such as mixed prayer betray Jewish tradition…”

These developments are interesting in that we read in Zechariah 14:14 that ultimately, Jews will fight “against” Jerusalem, as the passage should read (Revised Standard Version; New Jerusalem Bible, New American Bible; Luther Bible; compare our booklet, “The Book of Zechariah—Prophecies for Today!,” page 83-84.). Also, we find a reference to gender separation in Jerusalem for the end time (“in that day”) in Zechariah 12:10-14.

Australians Forsake Christianity

The website of reported on June 27:

“Australians are ditching religion in unprecedented numbers. About one third of Australians said they had no religion. That’s a huge shift from 50 years ago, when the vast majority of Australians were Christian. While Australians are turning away from the Christian religions, there’s been a massive growth in Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam…

“About one million Australians were born in China or India — and these two countries are the biggest sources of migration to Australia… England and New Zealand are still the most popular countries of birth, but there’s no real growth in migrants from these two countries. English is still the main language for three quarters of Australians, but there are 301 other different languages spoken in homes across the country…

“A record number of same-sex couples — nearly 47,000 — were counted in the census. The number of male and female same-sex couples is roughly equal…”

BuzzFeed wrote on June 26:

“For the first time ever, ‘no religion’ has overtaken any single religious denomination, toppling Catholicism as the number one religious affiliation for Australians… Christianity is still the most common religion (52% of Australians identified as any of the Christian denominations) but has been declining in popularity in Australia for the past 50 years – in 1966, 88% of Australians identified as Christian and by 1991 it was 74%. Catholicism is the largest Christian grouping, accounting for almost a quarter (22.6%) of the Australian population…”

Martin Schulz—an Unlikely Comeback?

Deutsche Welle wrote on June 25:

“Amidst more bad news in opinion polls, Social Democratic chancellor candidate Martin Schulz went on the attack at the party conference in Dortmund. But does he have the policies and charisma to make up a huge deficit?…

“Opinion polls released this weekend put the SPD at 23 to 24 percent… The election is only 90 days away, which means that Schulz and the SPD need to start mounting an unlikely comeback

“The 61-year-old SPD candidate, a former EU parliament president who spent 13 years working in Brussels and only rejoined German national politics last year, began by attacking the conservatives and Merkel… Schulz drew some of his most enthusiastic applause when he criticized Merkel’s statement, largely interpreted to express the growing distance from the Donald Trump-led US, that the times when Germany could ‘rely on others’ were ‘to a degree over.’ Schulz called that statement non-specific and hedged… The implication was that the SPD would stand up to Trump in a way Merkel would not

“There may be something to the Social Democrats’ criticism of Merkel, but German voters seem to like the chancellor the way she is. Moreover, her most controversial policy, the one on which she is most vulnerable, is her welcoming stance toward refugees, and that is not a position the SPD can or would want to attack.”

As AFP reported on June 25, Martin Schulzalso laid down gay marriage as a condition for any future coalition involving the SPD… The SPD’s call for gay marriage comes just a week after the Greens set a similar condition, while Merkel’s CDU has so far refused to allow same gender couples to wed.”

Humanly speaking, it does not appear that Martin Schulz has any chance of beating Angela Merkel. But ultimately, the person will be “elected” who will be most equipped of bringing about end-time prophetic events, especially involving Germany and Europe.

Coming: Same-Sex Marriages in Germany

Deutsche Welle wrote on  June 27:

“Gay marriage could become a reality in Germany almost overnight after Chancellor Merkel made certain concessions. However, the issue is also being used as a political bargaining ahead of the September 24 elections. German Chancellor Angela Merkel removed the previous requirement of party whip control on the issue of voting on gay marriage in Germany’s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag. In other words, members of the Bundestag will be allowed to vote on the issue on the basis of their own conscience and not be required to toe the party line of their political affiliation.

“The chancellor herself worded the vote as a ‘question of conscience’ during a TV interview the previous evening. The vote… could likely see gay marriage become a reality in Germany before the September 24 elections…

“At present, gay and lesbian couples can opt to have a civil partnership, which afford many of the same benefits and protections as traditional marriage, but lacks equity between gay and straight couples in some key areas such as adoption rights…

“The CDU’s sister-party, the Bavaria-based CSU, meanwhile also agreed that its parliamentarians should vote according to the conscience, even this meant a departure from the party’s view that ‘marriage for all’ was not in line with the party’s views. The party said that marriage between a man and a woman should enjoy special protections while stressing that same-sex relationships made valuable contributions ‘to our society,’ which were recognized with the special provision of civil partnerships.

“Rather than genuine concern for gay and lesbian couples, the vote on gay marriage appears to be used as a bargaining chip between the two major parties, Merkel’s CDU and her current coalition partner, the SPD, headed by Martin Schulz. It appears that Schulz is hoping to gain votes by pushing the decision through the Bundestag less than three months ahead of the general elections…

All of Merkel’s potential coalition allies favor same-sex marriage, with some saying that it’s a precondition for a coalition: Both the Free Democrats and the Greens are in support of the notion. Merkel is likely to need [the] to support of both parties if she wants to lead a coalition without the SPD.

“Same-sex marriage is already legal in 14 EU states, including France, Spain, Portugal, the UK and the Benelux countries…

“… homosexuality in politics has also become much more commonplace. Many homosexuals occupy important government posts and live openly in same-sex relationships. That is a far cry from 2004, when Guido Westerwelle became the first top-tier German politician to come out as gay. Then again, Westerwelle, who passed away last year, was not a member of either of the Union parties, but rather a member of the liberal FDP.”

A vote in the German Parliament on the issue of same-sex marriages has been set for Friday. It is expected that the vote will pass overwhelmingly in favor of same-sex marriages.

Merkel’s Vision of France-German Led Europe

Deutsche Welle wrote on June 29:

Germany is reorienting itself away from the US and the UK and toward France. Chancellor Merkel made that abundantly clear in a major speech to parliament about the EU’s future and next week’s G20 summit in Hamburg.

Germany and France will take a greater role in leading the European Union, and Europe must take a greater role in leading the world. That would be one way of summarizing Angela Merkel’s speech to the German parliament on Thursday.

“Merkel looked ahead to the G20 summit of the world’s leading nations that will take place in the northern German city of Hamburg on July 7 and 8. The chancellor stressed the need for Europe to present a common front against Donald Trump, particularly over the Paris Agreement on climate protection… The chancellor also took aim at Trump’s national chauvinism… Merkel acknowledged that it would be difficult to talk with Trump on issues like terrorism, protectionism and climate change in Hamburg…

“Merkel underscored the theme of European solidarity by meeting in Berlin after her speech with the leaders of the other EU countries taking part in the G20 summit as well as the presidents of the European Commission and the European Council. The Chancellor said that the EU wanted to send a ‘message of unity and determination.’…

“SPD parliamentary chairman Thomas Oppermann… questioned whether the chancellor would truly stand up to the US president at a G20 summit that promises to be far more confrontational than such past meetings… ‘Donald Trump divides the west,’ Oppermann said. ‘It is necessary for us to take an unambiguous stand. In Hamburg, we must show the American president that he stands alone on climate change…’”

“The East-West Divide in the EU Deepens”

Deutsche Welle reported on June 24:

“While the German and French leaders celebrated the close ties between their countries during this week’s EU summit, divisions between western and eastern European leaders grew…

“Merkel described the mood of the two-day summit, which ended on Friday, as ‘optimistic and dynamic.’ Such words are more easily uttered in the knowledge that economies in almost all member states… are starting to grow again. The eurozone has just completed its best quarter in almost six years…

“The EU also wants to take the lead in maintaining free trade around the world, which member states see threatened by the protectionist tendencies of US President Donald Trump. But, as French President Macron said, the EU is not ‘naïve’ either. Openness also necessitates fairness. European governments find it unfair that some countries seemingly flood the European market with dumping prices, or that companies from third states buy European firms while at the same time blocking European takeovers in theirs. The main culprit in both instances is China

“But the generally positive mood that has come on the heels of the Brexit depression did not brighten every topic of discussion – such as that of immigration. Macron, who is seen by many as Europe’s new hope, began the conference by angering eastern European countries that have refused to accept refugees from the bloc’s main countries of arrival, Italy and Greece… Although he did not name names, those he was referring to, such as Hungary, felt attackedAustrian Chancellor Christian Kern, on the other hand, stood by Macron

“In an effort to smooth over differences, Macron also met separately with heads of government from the so-called Visegrad Group: Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Nothing, however, came of the meeting. After the summit, Merkel said that all members were ‘very, very much in agreement’ on the issue of fighting the root causes of migration and the control of Europe’s exterior borders. She resignedly added: ‘Unfortunately, we made no progress on the question of distribution’…

“In his joint press conference with Merkel, Macron added: ‘The current refugee crisis is not a temporary, but rather a long-term challenge, which can be resolved only through long-term stabilization in Africa and the Middle East and through ambitious European development policies.’…

“The summit made clear that Emmanuel Macron’s election has given a jolt of energy to the French-German duo that will perhaps be able to drive new European projects. But at the same time, it also highlighted the threat that the divide between new EU member states from the east and old ones from the west could grow ever deeper.”

We should take note of several issues addressed in the article. First, a possible “divide” between some EU members gives fuel to the concept of a Europe with two speeds, or a core Europe, consisting of ten nations or groups of nations, which will emerge from the current EU. In addition, the comment that long-term stabilization in the Middle East is needed reminds us of the biblical prophecy of Europe’s future military intervention in the Middle East.

Deal Reached between Theresa May and Northern Ireland’s DUP

Deutsche Welle wrote on June 26:

“Theresa May and leaders of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party have reached a deal… May entered into talks with the DUP, a right-wing regional party that won 10 seats in June’s elections, to try to shore up her government after her Conservatives lost their majority in the House of Commons earlier in June. With the support of the 10 DUP lawmakers, May would have the numbers she needs to put down a likely series of legislative challenges from her Tories’ main rival, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party and allied opposition factions.

“… Under the deal, the smaller party will support the Tories in all fiscal matters and confidence votes, as well as Brexit talks and national security. The faction’s backing will be case-by-case on other issues… The Tories and DUP also said that they would ‘consider options to support’ British reserve troops on Northern Ireland’s soil… On several issues, notably abortion rights and same-sex marriage, the two factions do not hold common ground.”

Google Fined Almost 3 Billion Dollars by the EU

Bloomberg wrote on June 27:

“Google was fined 2.42 billion euros ($2.7 billion) by the EU on Tuesday, wrapping up a seven-year probe into complaints that it abuses its power as the world’s biggest search engine to muscle out smaller shopping search rivals. It’s one of three investigations targeting Alphabet Inc.’s Google in Europe with final results of a probe into the company’s Android mobile-phone software and online advertising service yet to come. Publishers are also seeking a probe into claims that Google unfairly uses their content, causing them to lose lucrative advertising revenue…”

 Acknowledgement and Disclaimer

These Current Events are compiled and commented on by Norbert Link. We gratefully acknowledge the many contributions of news articles from our readership. The publication of articles in this section is not to be viewed as an endorsement or approval as to contents or accuracy of the selected articles, but they are published for the purpose of pointing at worldwide developments in the light of biblical end-time prophecy and godly instruction. Our own comments are provided in italics.

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