This Week in the News

“Trump’s Tangle with Europe Leads the Continent to Find Partners Elsewhere”

The Washington Post wrote in June 2:

“A day after President Trump pulled out of a key climate agreement… an international realignment was already taking shape on Friday, as European and Chinese officials signed a raft of agreements to bind themselves tightly together.

“The pullout left the United States a global outlier and, many European leaders and experts said, a severely diminished force in the world… ‘Anti-Americanism will bloom,’ said Tomas Valasek, a former Slovak ambassador to NATO who is now the head of the Carnegie Europe think tank. ‘It will be much harder to politically explain to the European publics that we would cooperate with the U.S. president, because Donald Trump has made himself so unpopular now.’…

“In other arenas, such as defense, Europeans… are scrambling to achieve self-sufficiency now that they doubt the validity of U.S. guarantees… ‘We have just witnessed President Trump putting an end to European-American relations,’ said François Heisbourg, a French defense expert who advised Macron during his campaign.”

EU-US Trade Agreement Put on Ice

The Guardian wrote on June 5:

“The prospect of a revived EU-US trade deal is in ‘deep freeze’, according to Brussels sources… [Neither] Donald Trump nor European officials raised the possible resumption of talks during the US president’s visit to Brussels last month, EU sources said. Documents relating to the transatlantic trade and investment partnership, known as TTIP, had now been locked in a filing cabinet and the code to open it had been lost, one diplomat joked…

“Talks over TTIP stalled last year amid opposition from within the EU, including sceptical comments from France’s then trade minister and the German vice-chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel… a meeting between Trump, the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the European council president, Donald Tusk, two weeks ago offered the EU scant evidence of any such willingness, according to EU sources…  the completion of an EU-Japan trade deal was nevertheless imminent, and would provide significant economic gains.”

Another piece of evidence showing how the economic relationship between the US and Europe is deteriorating, while Europe is looking elsewhere for trading partners.

Trump Has a Point—Europe Lagging Behind in Defense Spending

The Wall Street Journal wrote on June 3:

“U.S. President Donald Trump last month irked European leaders when he berated them at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s new headquarters for insufficient defense spending and what he called unpaid military bills. Current and former European officials were quick to point out that NATO members don’t owe dues to the U.S., but they acknowledged Mr. Trump wasn’t wrong: Europe lacks the capabilities to defend itself…

“U.S. military spending far exceeds Europe’s, and American conventional forces are generally better trained and equipped than their European counterparts. The U.S. defense budget, $680 billion by NATO calculations, dwarfs the alliance’s European members, which spend a total of $242 billion…

“German officials acknowledge their force has become hollow and vow to rebuild it—a decision they stress was made before Mr. Trump’s election. Chancellor Angela Merkel pushed through parliament a military budget increase of 8% for this year, to €37 billion ($42 billion). According to the German government, that represents 1.2% of the country’s gross domestic product. Ms. Merkel says she is committed to NATO’s 2% goal…

“At last month’s NATO summit where Mr. Trump lambasted Europeans, several leaders said they would publicly advocate higher military spending for the sake of their own national security, not American demands. But they also privately told Mr. Trump they agreed with him, according to diplomats…”

President Trump’s criticism of Europe’s willingness to spend more on their own defense will have the result that indeed more efforts will be made to build up a powerful European army… but this is not good news for the USA. Many, especially in the USA, seem to be unable to realize that Europe can and will become a mighty military bloc which will turn out to be hostile toward the USA. In addition, to show Europe’s tremendous economic role, the EUObserver wrote on June 2 that “The Luxembourg-based European Investment Bank… is owned by EU member states and has discretely grown into the largest multilateral borrower and lender in the world, with capital of €275 billion.”

Europe’s New Defense Fund

Deutsche Welle wrote on June 7:

“The European Commission on Wednesday launched a new defense fund aimed at helping EU member states to jointly develop and acquire better military capabilities. The EU will provide 500 million euros ($560 million) in 2019 and 2020 for defense development and acquisition. That figure is expected to double to 1 billion euros by 2020. An additional 90 million euros will be made available for research in 2018 and 2019. By next year, the European Commission said it will propose increasing research funding to 500 million euros per year to make the EU ‘one of the biggest defense research investors in Europe.‘…

“European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Wednesday that the EU defense fund marks a new chapter in defense cooperation within the bloc. ‘For too long we have relied too much on the military power of others,’ he said. ‘We must now seize the moment to take charge of our own security…’

Up to 100 billion euros is lost each year by EU member states due to duplication, according to Brussels. EU analysis has shown that the bloc has 37 types of armored personnel carriers and 12 types of tanker aircraft, much higher than the nine and four, respectively, maintained by the United States.

“With the rise of terrorist attacks claimed by the self-styled ‘Islamic State’ militant group on European soil and Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, European nations have sought to tackle growing security concerns. Trump’s failure to reaffirm Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which reinforces collective defense, has effectively provided an additional momentum to the European Commission’s bold plans for greater defense cooperation across the bloc. ‘We are committed to strengthening security and defense work, enhancing our strategic role, our ability to act as a security provider worldwide and our capacity to act autonomously when and where necessary,’ Mogherini said.”

On June 7, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung quoted the EU Commission as saying that “Europe can become a ‘military power.'”

The Bible prophesies that Europe WILL become a mighty military power.

Terrorist Attack in France

Reuters reported on June 7:

“France created a new counter-terrorism task force on Wednesday, bringing together all the intelligence services, to coordinate the response to attacks, a day after an Algerian student assaulted police officers outside Notre Dame cathedral… The performance of France’s intelligence services has come under close scrutiny since the November 2015 attacks on Paris, when militant gunmen and suicide bombers struck entertainment venues across the capital, killing 130 people. In total, more than 230 people have been killed in a wave of attacks in France either claimed by or inspired by Islamic State over the past two-and-a-half years.

“In Tuesday’s attack, a 40-year-old Algerian student armed with a hammer and kitchen knives shouted ‘this is for Syria’ as he struck at and wounded a policeman, before being shot by police officers. A source close to the investigation named the assailant as Algerian-born Farid Ikken, a PhD student of communications registered since 2014 at a university in the eastern city of Metz. The source said that a video in which Ikken pledged allegiance to Islamic State had been found in his flat in Cergy-Pontoise, northwest of Paris, during a police raid on Tuesday evening, after the attack…

“One academic who taught Ikken, a strong linguist who spoke French, English, Arabic and Swedish, described his student as an individual who at times felt lonely… [but that] he was pro-West and very much a supporter of democratic values [and that] there was never any outward sign of excessive adherence to Islam…”

Again, one wonders whether attackers like these have always been secret Islamists; have been secretly radicalized; or whether dark spiritual forces have influenced them.

America Isolated and Its Decline Cemented

Deutsche Welle wrote on June 1:

” [In] pulling out of the Paris Agreement, Trump has also gone against fossil fuel firms, hundreds of major businesses and investors, a large number of Republicans and half of his own cabinet. With the move, Trump has catered to a small but vocal extreme-right constituency – one that is overrepresented among his cabinet and advisors. In essence, he’s sealed his own fate as isolated – and cemented the decline of the US…

“Other nations – most notably China, European Union countries and India – are already taking the lead in showing the way to a clean energy future… The US will be left behind; it will be disadvantaged economically in the long run. Pulling the US out of the Paris Agreement makes America weak. And diplomatic fallout will be extensive…”

California, Washington State and New York Align against Donald Trump

The website of announced on June 1:

“In response to President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., and Washington State Governor Jay Inslee today announced the formation of the United States Climate Alliance, a coalition that will convene U.S. states committed to upholding the Paris Climate Agreement and taking aggressive action on climate change…

“New York, California and Washington [represent] over one-fifth of U.S. Gross Domestic Product [or 6.2 Trillion Dollars of the U.S. economy] … Together, New York, California and Washington represent approximately 68 million people – nearly one-in-five Americans – and the states account for at least 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Washington will continue to work closely together with other states  to help fill the void left by the federal government…”

Deutsche Welle added in June 6:

“Several other states quickly followed suit, most notably Massachusetts and Vermont, which have Republican governors. Many other states are expected to support the alliance in the coming days. According to the Financial Times, the [US] states that have so far agreed to the deal would together represent the world’s third largest economy, just behind China and the US and ahead of Japan. The states have been joined by the leaders of tech giants like Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft, as well as representatives from industries such as Nestle, Nike, Unilever and Starbucks.

“In addition, the leaders of many major US cities… have joined the alliance. Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Houston have signed up and, significantly, Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto is also a signatory. When announcing his plan to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, Trump said ‘I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.’ The remark drew umbrage from Peduto, not the least because Pittsburgh voters chose Hillary Clinton by an overwhelming 80 percent margin in 2016…

“Despite Trump’s determination to withdraw, the earliest possible date for Washington to walk out is November 4, 2020 – one day after the next US federal election.”

So, was the President’s declaration to withdraw from the Paris accord nothing more than an attempt to cater to his base?

Trump Nominates Christopher A. Wray as Next FBI Director

The Huffington Post wrote on June 7:

“President Donald Trump will nominate Christopher A. Wray to be the next director of the FBI, he announced on Wednesday. Wray served as assistant attorney general under President George W. Bush from 2003 to 2005. The Yale Law School graduate now works as an attorney in private practice. Wray represented New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) in the wake of the ‘Bridgegate’ scandal…

“Trump’s critics on both sides of the aisle… praised the president’s decision to tap Wray…

“Wray co-signed a letter of support for then-deputy attorney general nominee Sally Yates. Trump fired Yates after she refused to defend his Muslim immigration ban. Yates has also said she raised concerns that then-national security adviser Michael Flynn was ‘compromised’ by the Russians, but that the White House ignored her warnings…

“Wray was reportedly among the Justice Department officials who threatened to resign after Alberto Gonzales and Andrew Card, then working at the White House, tried to force a bedridden Attorney General John Ashcroft to sign off on a warrantless domestic surveillance effort in 2004. [Former FBI Director James] Comey was serving as acting attorney general at the time, and refused to sign off on the program over concerns about its legality. Comey’s story of his confrontation with the White House officials at Ashcroft’s hospital bedside was some of the most compelling congressional testimony in modern history. Or it was, at least ― that could change when Comey testifies this week…”

Mr. Wray’s’ profile makes at least very interesting reading. If Mr. Wray is confirmed by the Senate, will a new battle ensue between President Trump and FBI director Christopher Wray?

Former FBI Director James Comey Testifies before Senate Intelligence Committee

Deutsche Welle reported on June 8:

“‘It’s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation,’ Comey told the lawmakers at the open section of the hearing. ‘I was fired in some way to change, or the endeavor was to change, the way the Russia investigation was being conducted,’ he added. [Comey said that Trump admitted that much, and that he takes the words of the President at their face value.] Comey also said that there was ‘no doubt’ in his mind that the Russian government tried to influence the 2016 election in the US through hacking, but added that he did not believe any of the votes were altered…

“Comey said that he decided to take notes after meeting Trump for the first time due to several factors, one of them being that he was ‘honestly concerned that [Trump] might lie about the nature of our meeting.’ Acknowledging reports of their interviews being recorded, Comey commented… ‘I hope there are tapes.’… Comey said it was ‘very disturbing’ to hear Trump tell him ‘I hope you can let this go’ on the probe into Flynn. ‘I took it as a direction […] This is what he wants me to do,’ he told the lawmakers…

“Comey also said that he purposefully leaked his notes on Trump [through a law professor to the New York Times] hoping that the media coverage would prompt the authorities to name a special prosecutor. US lawmaker subsequently appointed another ex-FBI head, Robert Mueller, as a special counsel to look into the alleged ties with Russia…

“He also commented on the one-on-one dinner in January this year, when Trump allegedly asked him if he was interested in staying on as head of the FBI for the full term. Comey said ‘common sense’ told him that Trump was looking to get something in exchange for him keeping his FBI job…

“Commenting on his firing, the ex-FBI head… accused the administration of trying to defame him by saying that the FBI was in ‘disarray’ and that Comey lost the trust of his top officials. ‘Those were lies, plain and simple,’ he told the Committee… Comey also openly disputed Trump’s account of their meetings, including the White House dinner. Previously, Trump had told the US media that Comey wanted to have dinner with him. The reason, according to Trump, was that Comey wanted to stay on as FBI chief. He said the statement was ‘untrue,’ adding that he never initiated the dinner where Trump allegedly asked him for his loyalty…

“However, Comey refused to say whether he believed that Trump engaged into obstruction of justice, saying it was ‘Bob Mueller’s job to sort that out’…”

James Comey also confirmed that President Trump himself was not under investigation while Comey was at the helm of the FBI, and testified that Trump did not ask him to end the Russia investigation. At the same time, he testified that Trump asked him to “lift the cloud” of investigation by declaring publicly the president was not the target of the FBI probe. Comey refused to do so, as he feared that he might have to publicly “clarify” the record in the future, if Trump would become part of a criminal investigation.

James Comey came across as a very sincere and honest witness. His credibility even increased when he admitted that he was not Captain Courageous and did not stand up to Donald Trump as he should or could have done on several occasions. He related the incident when Mr. Trump asked everybody to leave the room, including the Vice President, the Attorney General and others, to talk to Comey alone. At that moment, Comey said he became very disturbed and resolved to pay very close attention to every word Trump would be saying. On that occasion, Trump told him he “hoped” that Comey could end the investigation against former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

Comey’s credibility was further enhanced because of his critical comments about Democrats when they were in charge. Comey stated that when he was investigating Democrats, he was pressured by Democrats to shape his investigation.

The Washington Post wrote: “It suggests that no side was immune to meddling in the FBI’s independent investigations. Comey testified that when he was investigating Hillary Clinton’s emails during the 2016 presidential campaign, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch (a President Barack Obama appointee) ‘directed me not to call it an investigation but instead to call it a matter.’ That, plus Lynch’s private tarmac meeting with former president Bill Clinton ahead of the FBI’s impending decision on whether Clinton may have criminally mishandled classified information, raised Comey’s ethics radar and persuaded him to announce the FBI’s findings ahead of schedule.”

One of the most awkward and embarrassing moments during the Committee’s hearing came when Senator John McCain questioned Comey, misspeaking himself several times by referring to Trump as Comey, and trying to draw a non-existing parallel between the investigation against Hillary Clinton and the Russian investigation. Although Comey tried to patiently explain to McCain the obvious difference between the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s handling of her emails and the Russian investigation, McCain kept insisting that Comey had used a double standard. The New York Post commented: “Viewers went wild on Twitter, with some speculating about the 80-year-old’s health.”

After the hearing, President Trump’s private lawyer stumbled through a prepared statement, denying that Trump had ever asked or suggested to Comey to stop any investigation against Flynn and that he never demanded a loyalty declaration from Comey, and he was threatening him with legal action because of leaking “privileged communication” to the press. Subsequently, legal scholars explained that Comey’s memos do not constitute privileged communication (no executive privilege had ever been asserted), and in any event, due to Trump’s public declarations regarding his meetings with Comey and the reasons for his termination, any existing privilege would have been waived.

The Russian investigation will continue for months, if not years, and it must be said that Comey’s testimony was damaging to the President. His statement that Comey’s testimony vindicated him must be described as wishful thinking. Even before Comey’s testimony, Trump’s approval rate in the USA has sunk to an all-time low.

Battle Over Fishing Rights in UK Waters

Express wrote on June 2

“British fishermen have campaigned for the UK’s Brexit negotiators to return Britain’s territorial waters to them and block European firms from operating there… As Britain leaves the EU, it will likely also leave the political project’s Common Fisheries Policy, which allows member states’ fisherman to operate and compete fairly across the shared waters.

“Lorient’s fishermen [in France]  will be watching the Brexit talks closely, which kick off 11 days after Britain’s June 8 General Election, hoping Brussels can manage to negotiate them access to British waters… Mr Macron said: ‘… the interests of fishermen will be taken into account in a serious way as an industry that is among the most essential economic activities to our country, which we must defend.’…

“Ukip’s fisheries spokesman Mike Hookem issued a hands-off warning to the French, insisting bullies in Brussels cannot force the UK to give up its fishing rights. He said: ‘… unless Theresa May barters away our fishing grounds, we have the right under the UN’s UNCLOSE legislation to establish a 200-mile exclusive economic zone and stop EU boats fishing in our waters…  the French realise the value of fishing and that is why they are so keen to protect their right to fish British waters…'”

Leo Varadkar Next Prime Minister of Ireland

The Guardian wrote on June 2:

“Leo Varadkar’s victory in the Fine Gael leadership contest on Friday, which took place after outgoing PM Enda Kenny announced his resignation last month, marks another significant step forward for equality in the country, after 2015’s gay marriage referendum. As well as becoming Ireland’s first gay prime minister, Varadkar, 38, will also become the country’s youngest leader, and the first from an ethnic minority background. His position will be confirmed later this month when parliament resumes after a break…

“Although Varadkar’s centre-right politics are clearly conservative, he portrays the image of a new, progressive Ireland, symbolised best in May 2015 when the Republic voted overwhelmingly in favour of gay marriage

“LGBT groups in Ireland welcomed the domestic focus on Varadkar’s ideology. ‘I think it’s really significant that both his party and the media in Ireland focused on his policies, rather than him simply being a gay man who wants to lead the country,’ said Brian Finnegan, the editor of Gay Community News in Dublin. ‘It is a sign of how much Ireland has changed and moved on that no one really cares if he is gay here. Irish politicians were among the last sectors of our society to come out of the closet but now at least we’ve got one gay man and a lesbian, Catherine Zappone, both in the cabinet. That would have been unthinkable perhaps even 10 years ago.’

“Varadkar, a doctor educated at Trinity College Dublin, entered Irish politics in 2004… In 2014, he became Ireland’s minister for health and, after Fine Gael suffered losses in last year’s general election, he entered a minority coalition as minister for social protection. In the 2015 interview with RTE radio when he came out [declaring to be gay], Vradkar said: ‘It is part of my character, I suppose.'”

To be the first openly gay prime minister in a totally Catholic country is an interesting phenomenon.

Trump Heavily Criticized for His Tweets on London Terror Attacks

CNN wrote on June 4:

“US President Donald Trump appeared to misconstrue a statement while launching an attack on Twitter of London Mayor Sadiq Khan in the wake of the terror attacks which killed at least seven people. Trump, writing on Twitter Sunday, said: ‘At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is “no reason to be alarmed!”‘ But when Khan said in a statement that there was no cause for alarm, he was referring specifically to a visible increase in police activity on the streets of London in the wake of the attack. ‘Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days. There’s no reason to be alarmed,’ he said…

“Trump’s tweets have been heavily criticized by a number of British politicians, who are currently preparing for the country’s general election which is scheduled to take place on Thursday. Conservative politician Penny Mordaunt tweeted the transcript of Khan’s interview and said: ‘I’m standing with resilient London and him.’ Labour politician David Lammy said Trump’s tweet was ‘cheap, nasty and unbecoming of a national leader.’… Trump was also fiercely criticized by Brendon Cox, the husband of former British lawmaker Jo Cox, who was murdered by a right-wing fanatic in November 2016. ‘You represent the worst of your country...’ Cox wrote on Twitter…

“Trump’s tweets came the day after he touted his so-called travel ban in the wake of the London terror attacks, while also pledging assistance to Britain. Without referring explicitly to London, Trump wrote on his personal account: ‘We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!’ Eight minutes later, he tweeted, ‘Whatever the United States can do to help out in London and the U. K., we will be there – WE ARE WITH YOU. GOD BLESS!’

“Cecillia Wang, the deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, quickly accused Trump of exploiting the situation…

“Trump’s travel ban — which, among other things, would temporarily block entry into the US from six Muslim-majority countries — has been blocked by a number of federal court decisions. On Thursday, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to allow the ban to go into…effect while the court considers its legality.”

The Telegraph wrote on June 4: “Donald Trump’s ugly tweets on London are a step too far – even for him.”

The Week wrote on June 6: “Trump had also spent Monday morning tweeting aggressively about his travel ban, prompting The Wall Street Journal editorial board to write Tuesday that ‘some people with a propensity for self-destructive behavior can’t seem to help themselves, President Trump apparently among them.’”

And the Fights Go On…

AFP wrote on June 5:

“President Donald Trump seized on the London terror attack to demand the US ban on travelers from some Muslim countries be reinstated Monday, sparking a diplomatic row with Britain and jeopardizing his legal defense of the measure in the process. In the wake of Saturday’s deadly attack, Trump renewed calls for a travel crackdown, while attacking London’s Muslim mayor, the media, Democrats, judges and opponents who accuse him of playing the politics of fear…

“The ‘special relationship’ with Britain became the latest casualty of that hardline stance Monday. With the seven victims of Saturday’s attack not yet buried, Trump repeatedly criticized London Mayor Sadiq Khan, whom he accused of playing down the terror threat… British officials — many of whom call London home — were incandescent with rage.

“Prime Minister Theresa May, who is under growing pressure to denounce Trump ahead of Thursday’s election, came to Khan’s defense… May had already faced pressure to criticize Trump or even withdraw his invitation for a state visit after he pulled out of a global climate deal and edged away from collective security arrangements under NATO…

“In the United States, many veteran diplomats and officials decried Trump’s remarks… The White House later tried to play down Trump’s tweets.

“Trump also found himself in hot water over his tough-talking tweets defending his ban on travelers from several Muslim countries, which is currently stalled in the federal courts. The White House has struggled to prevent the measures from being permanently struck down, insisting it is not a ‘ban’ and does not target Muslims — which would almost certainly be unconstitutional.

“Trump did not mince words. ‘People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!’ he tweeted. ‘In any event we are EXTREME VETTING people coming into the US in order to help keep our country safe. The courts are slow and political!’ he said, attacking the judiciary in a way that is rare in American politics.

“The husband of senior Trump aide Kellyanne Conway was among those who warned those remarks may pose legal problems for the administration at the Supreme Court. ‘These tweets… certainly won’t help’ get five votes on the Supreme Court.

“In a rare move on Friday, the Supreme Court expedited consideration of the case, ordering the American Civil Liberties Union — which represents the plaintiffs — to respond by June 12 to the Trump administration’s petition for court consideration. Once it receives the response, the high court could quickly rule on whether to take up the case.

“Trump called Monday for a ‘much tougher version’ of his travel ban and an ‘expedited’ hearing for the measure before the Supreme Court. Trump issued his initial travel ban by executive order in January, but that measure — which banned entry to nationals from seven countries for 90 days and suspended the nation’s refugee program for 120 days — was quickly halted by the courts. He then issued a second version, but that too was put on ice.”

President Trump might shoot himself in the foot with his tweets, ignoring the advice of counsel admonishing him NOT to continue tweeting his opinions which will undoubtedly be used against him in court.

Incredible! TSA May Ban Laptops from Cabins on DOMESTIC Flights

Baltimore.cbslocal wrote on June 7:

“[Perceived threats] prompted a ban on laptop and computer pads from airplane cabins flying from seven African and Middle Eastern countries this past spring. It could spread to domestic flights. ‘The Department of Homeland Security is currently considering the possible expansion of that laptop ban,’ says Lisa Farbstein, a TSA spokesperson. ‘No decision has been made.’’

Will this illogical craziness never stop?

US Senate Much Tougher than Trump on Jerusalem?

The Times of Israel wrote ion June 6:

“The US Senate unanimously passed a resolution on Monday that commemorates the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. Co-sponsored by 17 senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D), the text calls on the legislative body to recognize the half a century landmark since Israel captured the eastern part of the city during the 1967 Six Day War. ‘Jerusalem should remain the undivided capital of Israel in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected,’ the resolution states, adding that ‘there has been a continuous Jewish presence in Jerusalem for 3 millennia.’

“It also says that ‘Jerusalem is a holy city and the home for people of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths”’ and advocates a two-state outcome based on direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians…

“Senators advanced this measure just after US President Donald Trump formally deferred — at least for now — his campaign pledge to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognize the city as Israel’s capital… The Senate Resolution ‘reaffirms the Jerusalem Embassy Act’ — the law mandating the move — and ‘calls upon the President and all United States officials to abide by its provisions.’…

Schumer, the Democratic Senate leader and one of the most prominent Jewish members of Congress, released a statement introducing the measure that implored the US to recognize Jerusalem as the Jewish state’s capital…  Such language also runs in stark contrast to a UNESCO resolution last month — titled ‘Occupied Palestine’ — that suggested Israel has no sovereign claim to Jerusalem.”

One has to ask the following questions; Why didn’t Mr. Schumer and his Democratic colleagues stand up to President Obama when he signed the waiver 16 times, preventing the US embassy from moving to Jerusalem? And how can a two-state outcome be achieved with Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the Jewish state when the Palestinians demand eastern Jerusalem to become the capital of their state? Sadly, the resolution seems to be nothing else than an anti-Trump balloon of hot air.

Arab Nations Isolate Qatar… Did the USA Create a Frankenstein Monster?

The New York Times wrote on June 5:

“On Monday… [Qatar’s] powerful neighbor Saudi Arabia, Egypt and at least three other Arab nations severed all ties with the country, escalating their accusations that the Qatari monarchy supported Sunni Islamist terrorism and Iranian designs on the region.

“Those Arab nations… surprised many by cutting off land, air and sea travel to and from Qatar. All but Egypt, which has 250,000 people working there, ordered their citizens to leave Qatar.

“The move created an immediate crisis for Qatar, whose only land border is with Saudi Arabia and which imports about 40 percent of its food from the Saudis. Residents said that people were stocking up on food and cash…

“Some analysts saw the sudden escalation as a sign that Saudi Arabia and its allies had been emboldened by the recent visit from President Trump, in which he publicly embraced the Saudis as a leading partner in fighting terrorism and countering Iran’s influence… But it could also end up hurting American efforts to build broader coalitions in the region, and weaken an ally that has provided a vital base for the American military in its campaign against the Islamic State.

“How, for example, could the American-led air campaign include warplanes from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates if those governments will no longer allow their military representatives to be based at, or even to visit, a major United States command center [in Qatar]? Beyond the military difficulties, several multinational corporations have operations in the feuding nationsQatar is hosting the 2022 World Cup, for instance, and is building facilities for the tournament that are part of an ambitious construction boom, including creating branches of major international museums and universities. About 80 percent of Qatar’s residents are foreign workers, including white-collar professionals and construction and service workers…”

Deutsche Welle added on June 5:

“The decisions plunged Qatar into chaos and ignited the biggest diplomatic crisis in the Gulf since the 1991 war against Iraq… Qatar… responded to the Arab states’ decision, suspending all flights to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain until further notice…”

Qatar is one of the richest countries in the world. At this point, Jordan and Kuwait did not join in the boycott. Qatar has tried to please both sides, thereby antagonizing everybody. While it has good relations with Iran and brokered deal with it, it hosts the largest American air base in the region and is helping to fight the Iranian-linked Houthi rebels in Yemen and supports insurgents fighting Assad of Syria. It is felt by observers that President Trump has given the Saudis carte-blanche authority to do what they want with Qatar.

Trump Takes Credit for Saudi Move Against Qatar–Sowing Confusion Again

The New York Times wrote on June 6:

“President Trump thrust himself into a bitter Persian Gulf dispute on Tuesday, taking credit for Saudi Arabia’s move to isolate its smaller neighbor, Qatar, and rattling his national security staff by upending a critical American strategic relationship. In a series of tweets, Mr. Trump said his call for an end to the financing of radical groups had prompted Saudi Arabia and four other countries to act this week against Qatar, a tiny, energy-rich emirate that is arguably America’s most important military outpost in the Middle East.

“… Qatar has long been accused of funneling money to the Muslim Brotherhood — which has officially forsworn violence but is still accused of terrorism by some countries — as well as to radical groups in Syria, Libya and other Arab nations. But it is also home to two major American command posts, including a $60 million center from which the United States and its allies conduct their air war on Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

“Those contradictory roles may explain the mixed signals the administration sent after Saudi Arabia’s unexpected move. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis initially tried on Monday to smooth over the rift, with Mr. Tillerson offering to play peacemaker and Mr. Mattis insisting it would have no effect on the campaign against the Islamic State. Less than 12 hours later, however, Mr. Trump discarded that approach by putting his thumb on the scale firmly in Saudi Arabia’s favor. His tweets… sowed confusion about America’s strategy and its intentions toward a key military partner…

“Mr. Spicer denied that the president was taking sides… Qatar’s ambassador… expressed surprise at Mr. Trump’s tweets… Pentagon officials said they, too, were taken aback by Mr. Trump’s tweets, particularly given the American military’s deep ties to Qatar… Mr. Trump’s tweets also appeared to contradict the American ambassador to Qatar, Dana Shell Smith, who this week retweeted a post of hers saying Qatar had made ‘real progress’ in curbing financial support for terrorists…”

Why President Trump would take credit for the Gulf states’ rift with Qatar is beyond anyone’s guess, given the fact that this poses an extremely unpleasant situation for the USA and its military base stationed there. Surely, Mr. Trump must realize this.

Germany Warns of Middle East Powder Keg

Deutsche Welle wrote on June 7:

“Germany’s foreign minister warned against deepening conflict in the Middle East… Sigmar Gabriel said ‘a deep dispute between neighbors is the last thing that is needed’ in a region already beset by crises and the threat of greater military conflict.

“Gabriel earlier told the ‘Handelsblatt’ newspaper he was concerned about escalating tensions and the US’ strategy of ‘pure confrontation’ with Iran, including arms sales to Saudi Arabia… ‘Such a Trumpification of relations with one another is particularly dangerous in a region that is already rife with crises,’ he said, in apparent reference to US President Donald Trump’s divisive and confusing statements… ‘The Middle East is a political and military powder keg.’…

“German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schäfer said in a separate news conference on Wednesday that Trump’s stance differed from Berlin, while what he was hearing from the State Department was closer to the German line.”

UAE Threatens 15-Year Jail Term for Anyone Showing Sympathy Toward Qatar

Haaretz wrote on June 7:

“The United Arab Emirates has banned people from publishing expressions of sympathy toward Qatar and will punish offenders with a jail term of up to 15 years, the UAE-based newspaper Gulf News and pan-Arab channel Al-Arabiya reported on Wednesday.

“‘Strict and firm action will be taken against anyone who shows sympathy or any form of bias towards Qatar, or against anyone who objects to the position of the United Arab Emirates, whether it be through the means of social media, or any type of written, visual or verbal form,’ Gulf News quoted UAE Attorney-General Hamad Saif al-Shamsi as saying. On top of a possible jail term, offenders would also be hit with a fine of at least 500,000 dirhams, the newspaper said, citing a statement to Arabic-language media.”

Is this the UAE’s version of true democracy and freedom of speech and expression?

Terror Attacks in Iran

Reuters wrote on June 7:

“Suicide bombers and gunmen attacked Iran’s parliament and the Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini in Tehran on Wednesday morning, killing at least 12 people in a twin assault at the heart of the Islamic Republic… Islamic State claimed responsibility…

The rare attacks were the first claimed by the hardline Sunni Muslim militant group inside in the tightly controlled Shi’ite Muslim country. Islamic State has regularly threatened Iran, one of the powers leading the fight against the militants’ forces in neighboring Iraq and, beyond that, Syria…

“Islamic State has lambasted ‘heretic’ Shi’ite Iran for helping the Syrian and Iraqi governments battle Islamic State, which considers Shi’ites to be infidels…”

According to The Week, dated June 7, Iran accused Saudi Arabia of orchestrating the devastating twin attacks in Tehran.

Lebanon and Jordan Are Becoming Ridiculous

The Times of Israel wrote on June 6:

Jordan is considering banning the film ‘Wonder Woman’ because star Gal Gadot served in the Israel Defense Forces. Jordan’s Communications Commission is currently reviewing the film to determine whether it meets the country’s standards and laws, the Israeli news website Ynet reported.

“The review comes in the wake of Lebanon’s decision to ban the film as part of its total boycott of all things Israeli. Lebanon is officially at war with Israel and bans Israeli products. ‘We remind the Jordanians of their obligation to boycott the film, and we refuse to be partners to the crimes of the Zionists and to increase their profits from this film. The Arab audience will not be involved in projects that represent Zionism and the Israeli army,’ said a statement from one of the Jordanian campaigns against normalization with Israel, according to Ynet.

“Israel and Jordan signed a peace agreement in 1994. Gadot, 32, does not shy away from touting her Israeli heritage… The film, which opened in the United States on Friday, took in an estimated $103.1 million over the weekend and $223 million worldwide.”

How can we ever expect a peace agreement between Israel and its Arab neighbors with these kinds of hostile and rather childish attitudes?

Germany Planning of Moving Troops to Jordan

Deutsche Welle wrote on June 6:

“In light of Turkey’s decision to block a lawmakers’ visit, [Vice-Chancellor] Sigmar Gabriel said that Germany would soon start the process of finding another location for its troops… Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said the troops… would be moved to a base in Jordan. ‘It is unacceptable that our deputies cannot visit the troops,’ she said. ‘We are ready for a transfer,’ she said, adding that a ‘comparable alternative’ had been identified at the Azraq air base in Jordan and that King Abdullah supported the move…

On Wednesday, Germany’s cabinet recommended pulling troops from Turkey. Stationing them in Jordan would be an interesting move, given the fact that Jordan (biblical Ammon and Moab) will be spared from attacks by the future king of the North (Daniel 11:41). Also, Jordan is much closer to Jerusalem than Turkey. The airline distance from Jordan to Jerusalem is a little bit over 150 kilometers, while the airline distance from Turkey to Jerusalem is over 1,000 kilometers.

Why the German Chancellor Could Slip Up in Election 

Express wrote on June 1:

“Angela Merkel (CDU) could be in for a fight with Martin Schulz to win the next election [in September] despite the German Chancellor leading in the polls…

“Ms Merkel is up against Martin Schulz’s German Social Democratic Party (SPD)… And she is on course to defeat her rival according to a recent poll for German broadcaster ARD… The poll found that 49 per cent of respondents would vote for the current Chancellor… But while the CDU/CSU is out in front, nothing is safe in the 2017 race, according to one German publication.

“Online Focus warns that the 2005 ‘Bundestag’ elections show Ms Merkel cannot take the polls for granted. During the 2005 election, the Chancellor was out in front – but the situation quickly changed. The publication said: ‘The election campaign of 2005 offers many parallels to that of 2017… On the evening of the election, however, came the surprise: the SPD almost won. Gerhard Schroeder’s SPD was only one percentage point behind the Union…’

“Mr Schulz, 61, former European Parliament President was promoted to the SPD’s party’s leadership in March, and this has given the party a huge boost. Ms Merkel has a habit of clinging to power by adopting the policies of her opponents if she sees that they are popular. Mr Schulz, for example, has taken a hard line approach to Britain’s Brexit – and wants to help Brussels negotiate the rights of EU citizens over British ones… It’s yet to be seen whether Ms Merkel will begin to take a tougher approach on Brexit by adopting Mr Schulz’s policy in a bid to win over voters…

“Online Focus suggests that the race is still wide open and anyone can win. It added: ‘Forsa’s CEO, Manfred Güllner thinks… shifts are possible… if something unforeseen happens or the electoral participation continues to rise.’”

Bild added on June 3:

“The SPD is climbing… Candidate Martin Schulz (61) gained two points, reaching 27 percent. Previously, the SPD had lost 8 points in two months. The advantage of the CDU/CSU ist still very drastic, reaching 38 percent.“

One will have to wait and see what God has in mind.

“Pope at General Audience: Our Father in Heaven Needs Us”

Zenit wrote on June 7:

“Whether or not we ever feel that we can be without God, Pope Francis has reminded, that God cannot, however, be without us… this is a great mystery!’… Because we are God’s adoptive sons and daughters in the Holy Spirit, the Jesuit Pontiff reminded, ‘we share in the intimate relationship between Jesus and the Father…'”

Many years ago, this very question was raised and analyzed in the Church of God, as some felt the same way as the Pope… that God needs us. However, it was clearly emphasized that God does NOT need us. It is true that God WANTS us to be in His Family, but when we fail, He could even raise up children from stones (Matthew 3:9). The idea that God needs us and CANNOT BE without us gives us an unhealthy feeling of self-importance which can be very dangerous to our spiritual survival. Also, true Christians are not God’s “adoptive” children, but Spirit-begotten TRUE children of God, having received God’s very nature through the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit. God is not just adopting children; He is reproducing Himself through His children, like physical parents reproduce themselves through their children. That is why our intimate relationship with the Father and our elder brother, Jesus Christ, is so much more meaningful.

“Botched Vaccine Campaign Kills 15 Children in South Sudan”

Deutsche Welle wrote on June 2:

“Children in rural South Sudan died as a result of a bungled vaccination campaign to combat measles… An investigation into the deaths… found that the children died as a result of ‘the administration of a contaminated vaccine.’

“Around 300 children up to 5-years-old were treated during the four-day campaign which saw the local team using a single reconstitution syringe to mix multiple vaccine vials. The UNICEF-supplied vaccines were also kept in a building with inadequate refrigeration.

“Another 32 children suffered from fever, vomiting, and diarrhea, but were able to recover from their symptoms…

“The risk of measles remains high in South Sudan due to an ongoing military conflict that has killed tens of thousands and seen almost 2 million people flee the country. According to the UN, the country has suffered from measles outbreaks caused by a backlog of unvaccinated children.”

Some doubt that the account is accurate and feel that the cause for the tragic death of the children lies in the vaccines themselves, and not in any contamination or wrong administration.

Addiction to Legal Drugs

Express wrote on June 7:

“People seeking help for over the counter and prescribed drugs is on the rise. More worrying still, over the counter drug addiction will soon be more prevalent than for heroin… These [prescribed drugs] include codeine, and Benzodiazepines (also known as Benzo’s)…

“Eytan Alexander, founder of UKAT, said: ‘People believe that if they’re prescribed a drug or if they can buy it in their local corner shop, then they’re not an addict… [People] remain completely unaware that they have an addiction problem to Codeine or Benzo drugs, because they get them from their doctor, making it completely legal… most addicts are forced into continuing to take Codeine or Diazepam, for example, simply to cope with the horrific side effects of going cold turkey… It’s currently a hugely vicious cycle…  When in treatment it can take twice as long for a person with an addiction to pharmaceutical drugs to come “clean” compared to with heroin addiction.’”

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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