This Week in The News

Recognizing Jerusalem as Capital of Israel and Moving US Embassy to Jerusalem

The New York Times wrote on December 6:

“President Trump on Wednesday officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, reversing decades of American foreign policy. Mr. Trump made the formal announcement during a speech in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, with Vice President Mike Pence standing behind him.

“The following is a transcript of his remarks…

“‘In 1995, Congress adopted the Jerusalem Embassy Act urging the federal government to relocate the American Embassy to Jerusalem and to recognize that that city, and so importantly, is Israel’s capital. This act passed congress by an overwhelming bipartisan majority. And was reaffirmed by unanimous vote of the Senate only six months ago. Yet, for over 20 years, every previous American president has exercised the law’s waiver, refusing to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem or to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city. Presidents issued these waivers under the belief that delaying the recognition of Jerusalem would advance the cause of peace. Some say they lacked courage but they made their best judgments based on facts as they understood them at the time. Nevertheless, the record is in.

“‘After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result. Therefore, I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel…

“‘It was 70 years ago that the United States under President Truman recognized the state of Israel. Ever since then, Israel has made its capital in the city of Jerusalem, the capital the Jewish people established in ancient times. Today, Jerusalem is the seat of the modern Israeli government. It is the home of the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, as well as the Israeli Supreme Court. It is the location of the official residence of the prime minister and the president. It is the headquarters of many government ministries…

“‘Jerusalem is today and must remain a place where Jews pray at the Western Wall, where Christians walk the stations of the cross, and where Muslims worship at Al Aqsa Mosque.

“‘… consistent with the Jerusalem embassy act, I am also directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This will immediately begin the process of hiring architects, engineers and planners so that a new embassy, when completed, will be a magnificent tribute to peace…

“‘The United States would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides. In the meantime, I call on all parties to maintain the status quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites including the Temple Mount, also known as Haram al-Sharif…

It is interesting that President Trump did not say that Jerusalem was the exclusive capital of Israel; that he declared support for a two-state solution if both sides agree (which will never happen; see next articles); that the status quo at the Temple Mount is not to be changed; and that Muslims are to be able to worship at the Al Aqsa Mosque. Finally, even though he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (not excluding the possibility that the eastern part of Jerusalem might ALSO become the capital of a Palestinian state), he signed a waiver delaying the move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem for at least six months, and it is expected that he will continue signing waivers for the next 3 to 4 years, according to ABC News of December 5.

All in all, it seems his big announcement was “much ado about nothing,” except that it upset the rest of the world.

Trying to Please the Evangelicals?

Fox News wrote on December 5:

“There are millions of evangelical eyes on Trump, waiting to see if he will keep his campaign promise to move the embassy, longtime Pastor John Hagee told Fox News. ‘I can assure you that 60 million evangelicals are watching this promise closely because if President Trump moves the embassy into Jerusalem, he will historically step into immortality,’ Hagee said.

“‘He will be remembered for thousands of years for his act of courage to treat Israel like we already treat other nations. If he does not, he will be remembered as just another president who made a promise he failed to keep which would generate massive disappointment in that strong evangelical base that went to vote for him against Hillary Clinton,’ he added…

“A March 2016 Gallup poll found that the majority of Americans didn’t express an opinion when asked if the U.S. embassy should move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. But of those who did have an opinion, Americans were split with 24 percent supporting a move and 20 percent disagreeing with relocation.”

Warnings and Reactions

The Daily Mail wrote on December 6:

“In Gaza, U.S. and Israeli flags were burned and in the West Bank Hamas declared Friday a ‘day of rage,’ raising the specter of mass violence in the occupied territories… Two leading Lebanese newspapers published front-page rebukes of Trump…”

AFP wrote on December 5:

“Warnings multiplied on Tuesday, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warning Trump in a speech that the status of Jerusalem is a ‘red line’ for Muslims and could even prompt Turkey to cut ties with Israel.”

Newsmax wrote on December 6:

“Pope Francis… called on Wednesday for the city’s ‘status quo’ to be respected… The Vatican backs a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, with both sides agreeing on the status of Jerusalem as part of the peace process. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future independent state, whereas Israel has declared the whole city to be its ‘united and eternal’ capital

“The Vatican and Israel established full diplomatic relations in 1994… The Vatican signed its first treaty with the ‘State of Palestine’ in 2015.”

The EUObserver wrote on December 6:

“Trump’s decision comes despite warnings by Germany, France, EU officials, and Arab and Muslim leaders that the Jerusalem move would make the conflict worse. Recognising Jerusalem ‘as the capital of Israel does not calm a conflict, rather it fuels it even more,’ German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel said… He called Trump’s plan ‘a very dangerous development’…

“Gabriel echoed French president Emmanuel Macron… [who] restated the EU and UN position that Israel and Palestine must share ‘Jerusalem as their capital’ in future.”

Deutsche Welle reported on December 6:

“Former German Ambassador to Israel Rudolf Dreßler told DW that the United States would seriously harm the Middle East peace process with an embassy move… Now Russia, China and the EU will take over this role [of negotiating with Israel and the Palestinians].

“… if renewed violence should become a reality — for instance, with a third intifada — then Germany and all of its EU partners will have a lot to deal with. We will have to determine how to reformulate the EU’s role against the backdrop of Trump and Netanyahu’s policies in Israel…”

Saudi Arabia Might Strike a Deal with Israel against Iran

Israel National News reported on December 3:

“A bombshell report suggests that Saudi Arabia [is] ready to sign a deal with the Jewish state… Prime Minister Netanyahu’s former national security advisor Yaakov Nagel told the Telegraph that Saudi Arabia is so desperate to ink an agreement with Israel that it is prepared to move forward despite lack of a Palestinian state. Saudi Arabia’s traditional position forbids negotiations with Israel until a two-state solution is implemented…

“Israel has long been rumored to be holding covert ties with Saudi Arabia and Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon said last week that Israel enjoys warm relations with many Arab countries despite the fact that these countries officially refuse to recognize Israel’s existence… ‘We are talking about a dozen Islamic countries, including the Arab countries that understand the potential of relations with Israel…’”

In the end, many Arab nations will join forces to fight Israel, and according to Psalm 83, Ishmael or Saudi Arabia will be one of them.

“UK Woos Israel as Relationship with EU Breaks Down”

The Times of Israel wrote on November 27:

“As Britain proceeds with the dissolution of its marriage to its long-term partner, the European Union, it has started to court new companions, among them Israel.

“Brexit — the process the UK has initiated for withdrawing from the EU, which is estimated to impact economic growth, create financial instability and cut jobs — is a challenge, but it also presents ‘huge’ opportunities for Israel, said Hugo Bieber, chief executive of the chamber of commerce UK Israel Business (UKIB), who led the chamber’s largest business delegation to Israel last week with a similar message to Israeli firms.”

The ongoing friendly relationship between the USA, the UK and Israel—many times in opposition to Europe’s viewpoint—will not continue.

Dealing with North Korea

The New York Times wrote on December 3:

“The news last week from the Korean Peninsula about yet another ballistic missile launch was déjà vu all over again. This one had an estimated range of 8,100 miles — long enough to hit Washington, D.C., or anywhere else in the continental United States. President Trump responded with angry tweets…

“… a military response is highly unlikely… All sides realize that the human and economic costs of another Korean war are simply unfathomable. Several American presidents have tried to persuade the Kim dynasty to abandon its nuclear ambitions, through a combination of sanctions and negotiations. But these efforts have been unsuccessful.

“… the United States and its allies ought to… wage financial warfare against Mr. Kim and his cabal. The United States must take the lead by ramping up a covert campaign against the regime’s criminal enterprises. This effort ought to include a full-court press of dirty tricks, coercion, heavy-handed threats and even direct action, all covert and deniable, against Kim’s financial wizards…

“Such tradecraft must also be applied outside North Korea and Asia against the businesses and banks in Europe, South America and elsewhere that enable Kim’s criminal empire to flourish… And as North Korea is recognized as a state sponsor of terror, helping groups like Hezbollah with arms and expertise, a numbing slew of lawsuits should be filed seeking damages; those damages will result in the forfeiture of North Korean assets — open and hidden — around the world…”

This may sound good, but it is nothing more than a balloon of hot air and wishful thinking. The idea that all countries would participate in such an endeavor is naïve and illusionary. Furthermore, the assertion that war is highly unlikely is very optimistic, to say the least. The sad truth is that nuclear war between the USA and North Korea is a distinct possibility, and the reaction of many countries, including of European nations, might be hostile towards the USA. Note the next articles.

Threat of Nuclear World War III

The Week wrote on December 4:

“My mind is consumed with thoughts of what could happen if my greatest fear comes true: that North Korea makes the tragic mistake of conducting the first atmospheric nuclear weapons test since 1980, spreading radioactive fallout throughout the Pacific Ocean and eventually around the world… Such a test would likely garner a military response from the Trump administration, a response that could very well take us down a path to war. And I have no illusions of what such a war would look like: nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons used; millions of people dead; trillions of dollars in damage… A Third World War is not even out of the question

“North Korea… could very well consider the Trump administration’s response a full-throated first step towards the destruction of its nuclear program or perhaps the realization of Kim’s worst fear: a move towards regime change. If that is the case, Pyongyang would feel it had nothing to lose, and would likely fire whatever nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons it has at any target in its sites. If America did not destroy all of Kim’s nuclear tipped missiles, and North Korea has indeed perfected all of the technological milestones needed to attack a U.S. city, which is possible, Pyongyang would certainly fire any and all remaining missiles towards America. Even just one nuclear detonation on a major U.S. city like Los Angeles could result in over a million casualties. You could easily assume there would be millions more casualties if North Korea successfully launched nuclear attacks on Seoul or Tokyo, with metro populations totaling 60 million…

“I have been in Washington for too long and know how this could all very well play out – indeed, how it most likely would play out. The optics of an above-ground test, a mushroom cloud spreading radioactivity all over the globe being amplified over and over by social media, would very likely be the straw that broke the nuclear camel’s back. A second Korean War would be almost unavoidable… It seems the choice for war or peace in Northeast Asia is in North Korea’s hands. I just hope they realize it.”

There will be wars and rumors of wars, for nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Europe Under Threat of North Korea

The Washington Post wrote on November 29:

“North Korea’s recent tests have also put a range of European capitals on the map of Pyongyang’s possible targets… Cities like Paris, London or Berlin are all located much closer to North Korea than Washington D.C…

“So far, North Korea has focused on its archenemy, the United States, even though European politicians have acknowledged that an escalation of the conflict could easily draw Europe into the dispute

“Yet… Europe’s role in pressuring it into halting its program remained mostly unchanged — and largely rhetorical. As well as condemning the missile tests, European top officials have also lashed out at Trump for threatening Pyongyang… Europe’s reluctance to fully support the U.S. stance toward handling the North Korea dilemma is likely being welcomed by Russia, which similarly condemned the test on Wednesday and indirectly appeared to warn the United States of overreacting…

“The measured response by the Kremlin, which is ironically known in Europe for its often aggressive military operations, and its striking similarity to Western Europe’s approach, likely has a lot to do with the fact that none of their capitals are currently in the sights of North Korea’s missiles. Yet, at the same time, the diplomatic solution they all favor has made little head way so far…”

Due to its policy of duplicity, Europe might very well find itself sitting between two chairs, not knowing where to turn. When the awakening comes, Europe might react with desperation and furor. In this context, the following article by Reuters, dated December 4, is interesting: “Last week, Norbert Roettgen, a member of Merkel’s conservative party and head of the foreign affairs committee in the Bundestag, decried a ‘deplorable’ lack of leadership in educating Germans about the need to invest more in their own defense and security.”

A Decisive Role for  Germany?

Bloomberg wrote on December 3:

“The [German] government believes that it can use its experience of reunification after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 to give peace [with North Korea] a chance. The reasoning is both humanitarian, to avert the risk of nuclear brinkmanship, and economic self-preservation, to protect regional trade routes that are vital to its continued status as the world’s third-biggest exporter. An armed conflict ‘would be close to a catastrophe for us economically,’ Volker Stanzel, a former German ambassador to China, said in an interview…

“Relations were not always on ice. Back in 1984, when the Berlin Wall still stood as a bulwark between east and west, North Korea’s Kim Il Sung — the grandfather of Kim Jong Un — visited East Germany, touring a collective farm and reportedly receiving treatment at an East Berlin hospital. East German leader Erich Honecker reciprocated two years later with a trip to North Korea, where Kim Il Sung requested East German help in building a synthetic-fiber plant.

“Then in the spring of 2000, as Berlin was still getting to grips with its rediscovered role as the seat of government for a reunified Germany, a delegation from North Korea came knocking at the door of then-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s administration… Almost two decades on, the conflict has sharpened exponentially, though Merkel is taking a similar tack. In September, she suggested that the six-power talks that led to a deal with Iran to limit its nuclear activity could be a model for dealing with the U.S.-North Korean conflict. ‘Europe, and Germany in particular, should be ready to take a very active part’ in any such initiative, Merkel told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper…

“North Korea offers another chance for German leaders to show they’re serious about a more active global role, said Wolfgang Ischinger, a former German ambassador to the U.S. who heads the annual Munich Security Conference… Diplomacy may have its limits, however. Sweden and Norway also have established ties to Pyongyang without any noticeable outcome. While Germany’s goodwill is appreciated, any attempts at dialogue with Pyongyang are unlikely to be feasible, since North Korea doesn’t want a mediator or broker to talk to the U.S…

“Volmer, the former deputy foreign minister… says, Merkel is right to suggest stronger engagement on the issue. She shouldn’t ‘just leave it to an unpredictable duel between Trump and Kim Jong Un.’”

Even though any attempts by Germany to bring peace with North Korea through talks would be unsuccessful, it is still interesting that Germany sees itself more and more as a powerful influence on the world scene and the leader of Europe.

Germany vs. USA—“Relations Will Never Be the Same”

Deutsche Welle wrote on December 5:

“German Foreign Minister [and vice chancellor] Sigmar Gabriel… spoke about strained relations with the United States under the administration of President Donald Trump. ‘The US no longer sees the world as a global community, but as a fighting arena where everyone has to seek their own advantage,’ Gabriel said. The Social Democrat argued that German foreign policy must be more daring, and not simply follow the line from Washington. ‘Germany can no longer simply react to US policy but must establish its own position…even after Trump leaves the White House, relations with the US will never be the same’… Gabriel brushed off criticism that after 72 days without a new government, Berlin could hardly be called upon to take a prominent role in shaping global policy.”

The Hill added on December 6:

“German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said… that the Trump administration looks more and more at Europe as a ‘competitor or economic rival’ instead of as an ally… he also said that Germany needs to be able to ‘define our own position and, if necessary, draw red lines, in partnership, but oriented around our own interests.’”

Germany first?

A Radically Different Europe under a German Grand Coalition?

The Washington Post wrote on December 7:

“The Social Democrats (SPD) had repeatedly insisted they would not join Merkel’s conservatives in another grand coalition… but on Thursday… SPD delegates cleared the way for party leader Martin Schulz to begin negotiationswith Merkel as soon as next week…

“… the talks are not expected to yield agreement any time soon… And the negotiations could still fail… Schulz on Thursday appeared to widen the gap between himself and Merkel in one critical area, Europe, by proposing a far more integrated club that mirrors another union across the Atlantic. ‘I want a new constitutional treaty to establish the United States of Europe,’ Schulz said. The treaty, he said, would go into effect by 2025. European Union members that don’t accept the new agreement would be forced to leave the bloc

“French President Emmanuel Macron… has detailed a far-reaching plan to more tightly bind users of the euro currency through a common finance minister and budget…

“Schulz was reelected as SPD leader on Thursday with 82 percent of the vote…”

Deutsche Welle added on December 7:

“The SPD motion said the ‘open-ended’ talks could start as early as next week and would lead to three options: a new grand coalition; the acceptance of a Merkel minority government or, if negotiations fail, new elections.”

President Trump’s Military Expansion Only a Mirage?

Politico wrote on December 3:

“President Donald Trump came into office pledging the largest defense spending spree since the administration of Ronald Reagan — assuring the troops that they would see ‘beautiful new planes and beautiful new equipment.’ But that vision remains little more than a mirage, top Pentagon officials, lawmakers and defense industry executives lamented during a gathering this weekend at Reagan’s presidential library…

“During his insurgent presidential campaign, Trump promised to expand the Army from 476,000 active-duty to troops to 540,000. He [stated] that the Navy needs to be much larger, pledging to boost the number of warships from 275 to 350. More missile defense systems, an upgraded nuclear arsenal and hundreds of additional fighter aircraft were also on his wish list…

“But lawmakers and the administration have taken few concrete steps to lock in any sustained increase in defense spending close to the 3 percent to 5 percent a year that Defense Secretary James Mattis says is needed to make the vision a reality…

“Even as the Trump administration requested more military spending for this year, Pentagon officials were managing expectations — telling Congress that the buildup would not kick in until the administration’s upcoming budget for the 2019 fiscal year, which starts next October. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said he hopes Congress will still reach an agreement that lets the administration put at least some of Trump’s pledges into motion… But he acknowledged doubts that Congress can do that, even if it lifts the budget caps.”

This does not look good for the effectiveness of the US military.

The Unpopular Senate Tax Bill

The Associated Press wrote on December 2:

“Republicans muscled the largest tax overhaul in 30 years through the Senate early Saturday, taking a big step toward giving President Donald Trump his first major legislative triumph after months of false starts and frustration on other fronts… Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell… shrugged off polls finding scant public enthusiasm for the measure, saying the legislation would prove its worth…

“The measure focuses its tax reductions on businesses and higher-earning individuals [and] gives more modest breaks to others…  Even an official projection of a $1 trillion, 10-year flood of deeper budget deficits couldn’t dissuade GOP senators from rallying behind the bill… Democrats derided the hastily written, scribbles-in-the-margin crafting of the bill in the final hours Friday night…”

The hastily revised 479-page bill was disseminated shortly before the final vote, without giving the senators a real chance to read, let alone absorb the bill. The Republicans are guilty of the same deplorable maneuvering which the Democrats engaged in when adopting Obamacare. Note the next article.

The New Senate Tax Bill—Blessing or Curse?

The Week wrote on December 2:

“In the dead of night, the Republican tax bill passed the Senate on a party-line 51-49 vote, with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) the lone dissenting Republican. It will now either have to be reconciled with the already passed House bill, and passed again by both chambers, or simply passed by the House as is and sent on to President Trump. But regardless of the coming parliamentary procedural hurdles, the lessons of Friday’s vote are clear: Some version of this tax bill is going to become law. And that is very bad for America.

“It’s almost wrong to call this legislative monstrosity a tax bill at all. It is more a top-to-bottom restructuring of American society – one which is a sharp attack on several bedrock American values: education, homeownership, and entrepreneurship

“The biggest single goal of this bill is a huge tax cut for the top 1 percent. The bill slashes taxes on corporations, increases tax benefits for foreign dividends, and cuts taxes for ‘pass-through’ corporations (which will immediately become the new hotness in tax shelter legal chicanery)…

“At every point Republicans relied on lies… They held no hearings… they did not even release the final text until the last possible moment. House Speaker Paul Ryan lied constantly about its contents. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin repeatedly promised an analysis ‘showing’ that the bill would not increase the deficit by turbo-charging growth. This was such a preposterous lie that he didn’t even bother faking the numbers. The secrecy prevented people from examining how it is stuffed full of quiet corporate handouts, only some of which have been discovered – like a big one to General Electric.

“This bill will explode the deficit. And make no mistake, when it does, Republicans… are going to immediately start demanding cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid – indeed, under congressional rules Medicare is due for a $25 billion cut in 2018 alone…”

If this is true, then Republicans have a lot to answer for, when judged by God.

Ending the Obamacare Mandate—Blessing or Curse?

The Hill wrote on December 2:

“Senate Republicans have approved the repeal of ObamaCare’s individual mandate as part of their tax-cut bill, a major step toward ending an unpopular part of the health-care law… The Senate tax bill must still be reconciled with House legislation that does not include the mandate’s repeal. But that is unlikely to be a major issue, given support in the GOP conference for repealing the mandate.

“It’s unclear what repeal of the mandate will mean for ObamaCare. Many experts and health-care groups warn that repeal will destabilize ObamaCare markets, leading to premium increases or insurers simply dropping out of certain areas…

“Moderate Republicans are now pushing for bipartisan ObamaCare fixes to help stabilize insurance markets, setting up a showdown with conservatives… Repealing the mandate also saves $300 billion over ten years in subsidies that otherwise would have been spent on consumers, according to the Congressional Budget Office, providing savings for the tax cuts. The CBO estimates that 13 million fewer people will have health insurance over the next decade without the mandate, and it projects that premiums will rise 10 percent. But it also projects markets will remain stable in ‘almost all areas of the country.’’

It would be devastating for many if premiums would indeed be raised again… given the abominable increase of premiums by greedy insurance companies, which ALREADY have taken place for 2018.

“Slightly Nervous” Outlook for 2018 Economy

Bloomberg wrote on December 4, 2017:

“As 2017 enters its final month… let’s just say what we see makes us slightly nervous about 2018… Pockets of the bond market… look troublesomely bubble-like… the flattening of the yield curve is worrying some bond investors… With government paper offering… meager returns, money has been flowing into corporate bonds…

“Sales of new corporate debt denominated in euros are also setting records this year…”

What this may mean is that the US economy is a bubble which may burst in 2018, and that the dollar is losing its economic strength, which may all be bad news for the US economy.

Most Destructive Wildfire Season in California’s History

The Huffington Post wrote on December 6:

“It’s been the most destructive wildfire season in California history, and it’s getting worse. Conditions in California are especially ripe for devastating fires at the moment, with tinder-dry undergrowth; strong, volatile winds; and terrain that’s difficult for firefighters to traverse. Those natural catalysts are compounded by the proximity of several current fires to large population centers.

“In just the past three days, multiple fires have started in the hills of Los Angeles and surrounding cities, burning more than 83,400 acres. As of Wednesday morning, most of them were barely contained, if at all.”

By Thursday evening, more than 100,000 acres had been burned in the Los Angeles area. In addition, as fire in San Diego broke out (the “Lilac” fire) which had burned more than 2,500 acres by 4:00pm.

AI’s Murderous Weapons

The Daily Star wrote on December 3:

“Chinese and Russian Artificial Intelligence (AI) are set (to) leave US systems in their dust… an earth shattering report… claimed the US has rapidly fallen behind its rivals… Former deputy SDI, Robert Work, said the Pentagon needed to pour billions into researching advanced computing and robotics, or risk Russia developing murderous AI machines. Moscow hardman Vladimir Putin believes the country will develop the best AI and become ‘the ruler of the world’. [The] Russian military [is] building drones, robots and cruise missiles that could make deadly decisions without the need of humans.

“The advancement has panicked US billionaire Eric Schmidt who said China was also gaining on the US and could overtake Washington in five years. [He said:] ‘Let’s talk about immigration. Shockingly, some of the very best people in AI are in countries that we won’t let into America… Iran produces some of the top computer scientists in the world. I want [them] here. I want them working for Alphabet and Google. It’s crazy not to let these people in.’”

These events are indeed ironic and at the same time devastating for the USA. We should also take note of the development of robots, drones and missiles, which could make DECISIONS without human input.

USA Withdraws from UN Global Compact on Immigration

Deutsche Welle wrote on December 3:

“The United States has announced it is withdrawing from the Global Compact on Migration. The non-binding UN migration pact was meant to boost international cooperation on migration issues… In September 2016, all 193 UN member states of the General Assembly adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. The non-binding declaration includes a set of pledges to protect migrants, foster migrant integration, develop guidelines on the treatment of vulnerable migrants and strengthen global governance of migration, among other issues.

“‘The New York Declaration contains numerous provisions that are inconsistent with US immigration and refugee policies and the Trump Administration’s immigration principles. As a result, President Trump determined that the United States would end its participation in the Compact process that aims to reach international consensus at the UN in 2018,’ the US statement said…

“The Trump administration has withdrawn from several international commitments made under the Obama administration, including the Paris climate accord and Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. In October, the United States said it will withdraw from UNESCO, citing what it called the UN culture and education body’s ‘anti-Israel bias.’”

The USA is becoming an exclusive country, and its voice is becoming irrelevant and undesired on the world scene.

US Supreme Court Upholds Muslim Travel Ban

The Washington Post wrote on December 5:

“The Supreme Court on Monday granted President Trump’s request to fully enforce his revised order banning travel to the United States by residents of six mostly Muslim countries while legal challenges to it proceed in lower courts. It was a victory for the White House, which has seen the courts trim back various iterations of the travel ban, and it bodes well for the administration if the Supreme Court is called upon to finally decide the merits of the president’s actions.

“Two lower courts had imposed restrictions on Trump’s new order, exempting travelers from the six countries who had ‘bona fide’ connections with relatives — such as grandparents, aunts or uncles — or institutions in the United States. Those exemptions to the president’s order, issued in the fall, were along the lines of those imposed by the Supreme Court last summer on a previous version of the travel ban.

“But in an unsigned opinion Monday that did not disclose the court’s reasoning, the justices lifted the injunctions, which had been issued by federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland… The latest iteration of the travel ban, the third Trump has issued, bars various people from eight countries: Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Chad, Somalia, North Korea and Venezuela. Six of the countries have Muslim-majority populations.”

This means, the Supreme Court “overruled” without any explanation its prior ruling and struck exemptions for travelers from the six countries who have “bona fide” connections with relatives — such as grandparents, aunts or uncles — or institutions in the United States.

German Pilots Refuse to Carry Out Deportations; Appeals against Deportations Are Skyrocketing

Deutsche Welle reported on December 4:

“… the [German] government said that 222 planned flights were stopped by pilots who wanted no part in the controversial return of refugees to Afghanistan, which has been deemed a ‘safe country of origin’ in some cases, despite ongoing violence and repression in parts of the country.

“Some 85 of the refusals between January and September 2017 came from Germany’s main airline Lufthansa and its subsidiary Eurowings. About 40 took place at Dusseldorf airport… The majority of the canceled flights, around 140, took place at Frankfurt Airport, Germany’s largest and most important hub…

“Germany remains the main destination for refugees and migrants to the European Union — so much so that in 2017, Germany processed more asylum applications than all 27 other EU countries combined… the number of asylum seekers appealing their decisions has increased significantly… Nearly every second ruling made by the BAMF (the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees) in the first half of the year was brought before a judge… the courts side with about one in every four asylum seekers who appeal their status. According to public broadcaster NDR, these suits have cost Berlin about €19 million ($22.5 million) from January to November 2017, an increase of €7.8 million from the previous year.

“In order to reduce the number of appeals and speed up deportations, the government has proposed a program to begin in February 2018 that would see rejected asylum seekers given 3,000 euros as an incentive to accept deportation.”

These highly unpopular developments are bound to give support to right-wing anti-immigration movements and parties in Germany, such as the AfD.

“Gay Marriage in Austria Approved by Constitutional Court”

Deutsche Welle wrote on December 5:

“Austria’s top court has ruled that current laws are discriminatory and must be lifted by 2019. Same-sex couples have so far only been afforded ‘registered partnerships’… the court ruled that ‘the distinction between marriage and registered partnership … cannot be upheld at this day and age without discriminating against same-sex couples. The resulting discriminatory effect is seen in the fact that through the different title of the family status, people living in same-sex partnerships have to disclose their sexual orientation even in situations in which it is not, and must not be, relevant and … are highly likely to be discriminated against,’ the court said in its ruling…

“The ruling will remove the words ‘two people of different sex’ from the law on marriage… Austria has lagged behind several of its Western European neighbors in approving same-sex marriage. Even Germany surprisingly took the step in the run-up to last year’s general election, although critics said Chancellor Angela Merkel was primarily looking to neutralize a probable opposition talking point.”

Outrageous Decision in France

The Independent wrote on December 5:

“France has ordered a halal supermarket in Paris to close because it does not sell pork or wine. The Good Price mini-market in Colombes did not comply with the conditions of its lease, which stated the shop must act as a ‘general food store,’ the Court of Nanterre ruled.

“The local authority argued members of the local community were not being served properly because the shop did not sell pork or alcohol products. A bailiff’s report said the store almost exclusively stocked halal products.”

Spain vs. Catalonia

Deutsche Welle wrote on December 5:

“A Spanish judge withdrew a European arrest warrant for Catalonia’s exiled pro-independence leader Carles Puigdemont and four of his former ministers on Tuesday. Supreme Court magistrate Pablo Llarena said that the individual warrants were no longer valid as the alleged crimes were committed as a group and that the politicians under investigation had illustrated their ‘intention to return to Spain’ in order to run for upcoming elections in Catalonia. The judge kept a Spanish arrest warrant in place however, which means the Catalan leader would be detained immediately upon arrival in Spain…

“Puigdemont fled to Belgium after declaring his region independent from Spain in a referendum that saw voters in Catalonia vote overwhelmingly to secede from Madrid’s control – although the ballot was not sanctioned by Madrid and less than half of the electorate turned out to vote. The court’s decision came as campaigning began for Catalonia’s regional elections on December 21, called by Madrid after it dissolved Barcelona’s parliament over the ‘rebellion’ of its leaders… Along with Puigdemont and his ministers in Brussels, all eight are under investigation for rebellion, which can carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years.”

Jews Wrote Some of the Most Popular Christmas Songs

The Star, republished by JTA, wrote on November 30:

It’s hard to think of words or music that conjure up the Christmas season more quickly than the opening of ‘The Christmas Song.’ The images evoke a classic, timeless Christmas… And though the song has become a worldwide symbol of Christmas, like nearly all the modern songs that now define this fundamentally Christian holiday it was written by Jews… Those songs include: ‘Do You Hear What I Hear,’ ‘Silver Bells,’ ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,’ ‘Holly Jolly Christmas,’ ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,’ ‘Winter Wonderland,’ ‘It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,’ ‘White Christmas’ and ‘Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!’…

“… Between 1881 and 1914 more than two million Jews left Russia, with America the prime destination. No single city was affected more by the influx of Jews than New York, where the Jewish population grew from approximately 80,000 in 1870 to 1.4 million in 1915, or almost 28 per cent of the city’s population… Forbidden from nearly all professions and restricted from pursuing higher education, a surprisingly large number found their way into the world of popular music…

“The overwhelming impulse among the children of Jewish immigrants was to assimilate, and the first step in becoming ‘American’ nearly always involved changing their names… Most not only left their names behind, but all traces of their Jewishness as well.

“… as the holiday season approaches, it is important to remember that they came from the children of Jewish immigrants, desperate to leave their pasts behind and join mainstream America. And today, at this polarizing moment in our history, when the place of immigrants in our society is under intense scrutiny, it might be valuable to remember that these songs of immigrants, songs that came out of America’s melting pot, have become the voice of the world’s Christmas.”

It is indeed paradoxical that President Trump’s fight against immigrants is accompanied with his desire to wish everyone a “Merry Christmas.” What is also remarkable is the tendency of many Jewish immigrants (who fled Russian persecution) to ignore their unpleasant past and leave their roots behind; only to have to deal with American persecution, while still being able to assimilate with mainstream views. Sadly, the embrace of the pagan Christmas season was the wrong kind of reaction.

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