Deutsche Welle wrote on February 9:
“The current head of Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) Martin Schulz said on Friday that he would no longer pursue a ministerial post in the next German government, including the job of foreign minister. Schulz had come under heavy criticism in his own party for claiming the foreign minister role for himself after leaders of Germany’s largest parties agreed to form another coalition government led by Chancellor Angela Merkel…
“Schulz, the former president of the European Parliament, said he believed the internal squabble within his party risked jeopardizing a pending coalition deal with Merkel’s conservatives. The SPD reached a deal with Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), on Wednesday. The coalition deal still requires the approval of SPD party members who will vote on the deal in the coming weeks and can still reject it…
“His announcement follows days of mounting pressure from senior members of his party, including from current Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who criticized Schulz’s intention to take the helm at the Foreign Ministry. In an interview published on Friday, Gabriel complained about a lack of appreciation for his work as Germany’s top diplomat… ‘It is clear, unfortunately, that the public’s regard for my work meant absolutely nothing to the new SPD leadership,’ Gabriel said…
“Directly after the September election, Schulz ruled out forming a new coalition with Merkel’s CDU/CSU bloc and had categorically ruled out joining her cabinet in the past. The backtracking by SPD leaders angered many in the party’s youth branch…”
Schulz’s Political Career Over?
The Telegraph wrote on February 9:
“Mr Schulz… was briefly talked of as Germany’s next chancellor… He was elected SPD leader with 100 per cent support in 2016 and the country was gripped by ‘Schulzmania’ in the early part of last year. But he led the party to its worst ever result in September’s election.
“His political career is now almost certainly over… His downfall comes despite negotiating a coalition deal widely regarded as very good for the SPD… Mr Gabriel has alleged they made a deal in 2016 under which he would get to stay on as foreign minister in return for stepping aside as party leader to make way for Mr Schulz…”
Whether Schulz’s political career is indeed over will have to be seen. Stranger things have happened in the dirty business of politics, and just maybe, the deadly wound which he received might be healed in the future, surprising the world. Even though Schulz had resigned as leader of the SPD and even though he will not pursue at this point the office of Foreign Minister, he remains to be a member of the German Parliament (Bundestagsabgeordneter).
Bild Online wrote on February 9 that Gabriel indicated that he wanted to remain Foreign Minister. And so, within an hour of Schulz’s “resignation,” Johannes Kahrs, the head of the SPD’s conservative wing, and others stated that Gabriel should stay as Foreign Minister. On the other hand, some of Gabriel’s’ actions against Schulz (for which he subsequently apologized) caused great concern within the SPD.
Merkel Paid High Price
Handelsblatt Global wrote on February 9:
“Ms. Merkel has paid a high price to renew a coalition with the same old partners – maybe too high. There’s plenty of rumbling in the rank and file of her party over the concessions she made to win over her rivals. Their concern: By giving away three prized ministerial portfolios to the Social Democratic Party, she may have handed the struggling party a future while robbing one for her own…
“The concessions prompted a cynical tweet from one CDU parliamentarian, Olav Gutting: ‘At least, we’ve kept the chancellorship.’”
Merkel Defies Critics
AFP wrote on February 12:
“German Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed on Sunday to serve another full four-year term despite growing criticism within her conservative ranks of the sweeping concessions she made to hold onto power. The veteran leader said that despite the sniping over a poor election result and the loss of key ministries in a fresh coalition deal, she felt no decline of her authority and wanted to stay at the helm of Europe’s biggest economy until 2021… she stressed that she… planned to stick with her pledge to stay on for four years as chancellor and party chief rather than make way for a successor before the end of the term…
“‘The transition to the post-Merkel era has begun,’ judged the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily, which added that Merkel’s power was waning and ‘a dangerous mood’ was starting to spread within her CDU. Handing over the finance ministry — long the domain of Merkel lieutenant and fiscal hawk Wolfgang Schäuble – ‘was one concession too many,’ fumed lawmaker Wolfgang Bosbach, reflecting a widely held view in the conservative party.
“An ambitious rival of Merkel, Jens Spahn, also charged that losing direct control of the public purse strings was a ‘hard blow’ that ‘hurt’ the CDU… Conservative lawmaker Christean Wagner even suggested that [the party’s] leader should ‘think about a successor.’”
Handelsblatt Global wrote on February 12:
“For 12 years, Angela Merkel was everybody’s darling. Then the chancellor stumbled over the refugee crisis. Now, after a weak coalition deal, rebellious conservatives are demanding a wide-sweeping party renewal… A revolt is simmering. Although there’s no immediate successor to Ms. Merkel in sight, her authority is clearly being questioned…”
Deutsche Welle added on February 12:
“Germany’s chancellor is reaching out to critics in her party — kind of. Angela Merkel intends to remain the top Christian Democrat, and chances are good that she will succeed.”
Second US Government Shutdown Short-Lived…
USA Today wrote on February 9:
“President Trump signed a $400 billion budget deal Friday, hours after the House passed it in a pre-dawn vote, reopening the federal government after it was partially shut down for the second time in less than a month. The House voted 240-186, with 73 Democrats and 167 Republicans voting in favor…
“House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., voted against the bill following her eight-hour marathon speech on Wednesday, protesting congressional inaction on protections for DREAMers, undocumented immigrants brought here as children. Pelosi issued a statement early Friday that criticized Ryan, saying he ‘refused to make a real commitment’ to schedule a vote to protect DREAMers…
“Pelosi and other Democrats have called on Ryan to guarantee an open debate on legislation — something Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has promised in the Senate… Ryan has said he intends to solve the problem. But he will only bring up a bill that President Trump supports… Of course, it is not entirely clear what the president will demand in an immigration bill. His public statements have embraced a wide range of policy options (from deportation to a path to citizenship, conditioned upon the erection of a “huge beautiful wall,” for which Mexico was supposed to pay)…
“The House vote followed earlier Senate approval of the budget pact that was initially delayed by a protest from Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul… ‘We have Republicans hand-in-hand with Democrats offering us trillion-dollar deficits,’ Paul said on the Senate floor Thursday night… Fifteen other Republicans joined Paul in voting against the bill, with many expressing similar objections about the increased deficit spending.”
“Nobody Should Be Proud of the Budget Deal”
The Week wrote on February 9:
“The debt ceiling was raised or rather, in the deliberately mixed metaphor that is the official language of Washington, ‘suspended.’ Spending at the Pentagon, where single agencies routinely ‘lose’ amounts as large as $800 million, was increased by billions.
“All afternoon senators and congressmen of both parties congratulated one another… It hardly speaks to the virtues of either party or their members…”
“President Donald Trump Proposes a $4 Trillion-Plus Budget for Next Year
The Associated Press and Newsmax wrote on February 12:
“President Donald Trump is proposing a $4 trillion-plus budget for next year that projects a $1 trillion or so federal deficit and — unlike the plan he released last year — never comes close to promising a balanced federal ledger even after 10 years. And that’s before last week’s [$400] billion budget pact is added this year and next, showering both the Pentagon and domestic agencies with big increases…”
Fox News wrote on February 12:
“President Trump’s recent budget moves could complicate his relationship with the House Freedom Caucus and other fiscal conservatives… ‘The swamp won, and the American taxpayer lost,’ Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a founding member of the caucus, said…
“Mark Meckler, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, said Monday that ‘many hopeful-but-naive patriots believed D.C. would change under Donald Trump. Many thought he could drain the swamp without us. Friday morning painfully showed those same patriots that such a plan is nothing but fantasy.’”
One of the Wildest Weeks Since the Financial Crisis
CNBC wrote on February 9:
“The Dow Jones industrial average posted its worst week in two years. Earlier in the session, the index was on track for its worst week since October 2008, during the financial crisis.
“The stock index has traveled more than 22,000 points this week in a volatile few days that kicked off Monday with the Dow’s biggest closing point drop on record. Stocks are falling as traders worry about rising interest rates, and volatility… has jumped to its highest since the market turmoil of August 2015.”
Coming… The Next Recession, and It Will Be BAD
The Huffington Post wrote on February 10:
“It’s highly likely the next recession will occur in the coming three years, while President Donald Trump is still in office… America is ill-prepared for its next recession…
“A recession starts after economic activity has reached its peak. Right when things are better than ever is when they’re about to get worse… There have been 11 recessions since World War II. The current economic expansion began in mid-2009, making it the third longest in history, and it can’t last forever…”
“Trump Doesn’t Understand Deficits and Trade”
The National Post wrote on February 12:
“The usual story that is told about the dangers of running deficits when the economy is not in recession is that increased government borrowing increases the competition for domestic savings, pushes up interest rates and ‘crowds out’ private investment. But in an open economy, governments don’t have to depend on domestic investors to buy their bonds; they also tap into foreigners’ savings to finance their borrowing.
“Borrowing from abroad is essentially the story of how the Reagan and Bush deficits were financed: an inflow of foreign savings to the United States allowed the government to run large deficits without an increase in interest rates or a decline in private investment spending…
“But the real challenge facing the government of Canada — and the governments of all the trading partners of the United States — is that the present U.S. administration remains invincibly ignorant of balance of payments accounting. President Trump wants to increase the government deficit and reduce the trade deficit, without the pain of higher interest rates and weakened investment. It is literally impossible to meet these demands, and the challenge of explaining this point to an incurious President is only slightly less daunting.”
Another Ill-Advised Proposal by President Trump
Axios wrote on February 14:
“President Trump endorsed a 25-cent gas tax hike to pay for infrastructure at a White House meeting this morning with senior administration officials and members of Congress from both parties…
“Trump’s gas tax idea appears dead on arrival. Republicans aren’t about to hike taxes for the Trump voters driving their pickup trucks to work every day. It’s a regressive tax and in Republicans’ minds would undo some of working and middle class tax cuts they just passed.”
Second Judge Blocks Trump’s Decision to End DACA
Newsmax reported on February 13:
“A second U.S. judge on Tuesday blocked President Donald Trump’s decision to end a program that protects immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children from deportation.
“U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, cannot end in March as planned, a victory for state attorneys general and immigrants who sued the Republican administration. The decision is similar to an earlier ruling by a federal judge in San Francisco that DACA must remain in place while litigation over Trump’s decision unfolds.”
Trump Blocks Release of Democratic Memo in Response to GOP Memo
Newsmax wrote on February 9:
“President Donald Trump on Friday returned to the House Intelligence Committee the Democratic response to the Republican memo (Nunes memo) alleging surveillance abuses by the FBI and Justice Department for revisions — citing concerns about classified information contained in the 10-page document…
“The four-page Nunes memo alleged the warrant obtained by the FBI from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page was based on an unsubstantiated dossier of negative information on the Republican presidential candidate. The dossier was prepared by former British agent Christopher Steele and was paid, in part, by the campaign of Democrat Hillary Clinton. The Clinton data were never disclosed in the application for the FISA warrant, according to the GOP memo…”
The Huffington Post added on February 9:
“Several of the allegations in the Nunes memo are already falling apart. One of the key complaints in the memo is that the FBI failed to disclose that a dossier compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele was funded by Democratic operatives looking for information on Trump during the campaign. But three days after the memo was released, Nunes conceded that the FBI had disclosed the political origins of the Steele dossier in a footnote on its application to spy on Page…”
The Telegraph wrote on February 9:
“The president’s rejection of the Democratic memo is in contrast to his enthusiastic embrace of releasing the Republican document, which he pledged before reading to make public. The president declassified the document last week, allowing its publication in full.
“The president has said the GOP memo ‘vindicates’ him in the ongoing Russian investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller. But congressional Democrats and Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, who helped draft the GOP memo, have said it shouldn’t be used to undermine the special counsel…
“Trump declassified the GOP-authored memo over the objections of the FBI, which said it had ‘grave concerns’ about the document’s accuracy…”
Newsmax wrote on February 10:
“The decision to block the Democratic memo is a political risk for Trump…”
Finally… Trump Speaks Out against Domestic Violence…
Deutsche Welle wrote on February 14:
“The US president has finally condemned domestic violence after one of his aides resigned over related charges. The Trump administration’s handling of Rob Porter’s resignation has shaken the White House’s upper echelons…
“The president’s words came days after he praised former top aide Rob Porter, who had been forced to resign last week due to allegations of assault made by his two ex-wives… Trump himself has also been accused of sexual assault and harassment by several women.
“Trump’s words also mark the end of his week-long silence on his stance towards domestic abuse… Over the weekend, however, Trump did find the words to defend the work of his former staff secretary. He told reporters on Friday, ‘[Porter] says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that.’ Trump also applauded Porter for his ‘good work’ in the White House. He did not express sympathy for Porter’s former wives.
“On Saturday, Trump then used a Tweet to cast doubt on the seriousness of assault accusations, describing them as ‘mere allegations.’ ‘Peoples (sic) lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new,’ Trump wrote on Twitter. ‘There is no recovery for someone falsely accused — life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as a Due Process?’
“Porter’s resignation and the White House’s handling of the situation shook the administration at the highest level. Chief of staff John Kelly and White House lawyer Don McGahn are said to have known about the allegations against Porter. The White House insists that it only learned of the allegations shortly before Porter’s resignation, while the FBI maintains the administration had received information on the subject at various points last year.
“Congressional lawmakers have launched an investigation looking into how Porter was able to work at the White House on an interim security clearance despite the allegations of domestic violence.”
The White House’s changing and less than convincing explanations, especially in light of the FBI’s statements, which totally contradict the White House’s versions, have cast a dark cloud on the affair.
In addition, the Week reported on February 14:
“President Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, told The New York Times on Tuesday he paid $130,000 out of his own pocket to Stormy Daniels, the adult film star who told multiple media outlets ahead of the 2016 presidential election that she had an extramarital affair with Trump. In a statement, Cohen told the Times that ‘neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign … reimbursed me for the payment’ to Daniels… Daniels’ manager said Wednesday that Daniels believes by acknowledging the payment, Cohen has invalidated the non-disclosure agreement. She vowed to publicly discuss the details of her affair with Trump. The president has denied the affair.”
These threats do not sound too good for Donald Trump, apart from the fact that it would stretch the imagination to believe that his lawyer paid the adult film star out of his own pocket, without knowledge of Trump, without his consent, and without any reimbursement.
Horrific Mass School Shooting in Florida
Deutsche Welle reported on February 14:
“At least 17 people have been killed and many others injured in a school shooting in Florida. Police arrested a teenager who had previously been expelled from the school… [The murderer] is a 19-year-old former student, who had a troubled history… [He] was found with multiple ammunition magazines and an AR-15-style rifle…
“The shooting reignited debate over gun violence in the United States that kills nearly 33,000 each year. So far this year there have been 18 school shootings across the country…”
Every time a terrible mass shooting takes place, discussions evolve around gun violence. Soon thereafter, the topic is placed on the back burner, to give way to more “important” issues, such as, how the debt ceiling can be raised so that more sophisticated weapons can be produced for the military. The morbid fascination of the American people with their guns is very difficult to be understood by most other civilized countries.
Gun Control and Mental Illness
Breitbart reported on February 15:
“Thursday on NBC’s ‘Today,’ host Megyn Kelly offered her thoughts in a monologue about gun control and mental illness on the heels of the Parkland, FL school shooting:
“‘There have been at least 12… school shootings in America so far in 2018… We’re averaging one just about every three or four days. How we doing, America? Everyone okay with that? Apparently the answer is in fact yes because we haven’t done virtually anything to stop it… We all know what is about to happen right now, don’t we? We’re going to say how sorry and shocked and sad we are, and then we’re going to move on without doing anything. And then we’ll express how sorry and shocked and sad we are at the next one, and the one after that. Does anyone really think that we are going to do anything about these mass murders?
“‘… I don’t believe that. I don’t believe in a single one of these politicians. I don’t believe any of them have the courage it takes to push through reform…
“‘Five years ago I was live on the air and pregnant with my third child when 20 first graders were shot to death in school in Newtown, Connecticut… That was the one where we all thought now we will do something. Now we have to change. But we didn’t. In fact, since Newtown, there have been nearly 300 school shootings in America, about one a week…
“‘Are we really going to loosen the standards for involuntary commitment in this country? Even if we could pay for that, good luck convincing the ACLU that it’s legal. And then there are the guns… No gun reforms are getting through… And most of the ones that will be proposed in the wake of this shooting will be utterly meaningless and wouldn’t have even arguably prevented this killing. The NRA is too powerful, our politicians are too weak, and the guns are too ubiquitous.
“‘Guess how many guns there are in America, do you know? Over 300 million. They say 6 to 10 million AE-15s like the one reportedly used in Florida. So now we’ve seen it a million times. We’re going to debate that gun. But any semiautomatic pistol can unleash carnage. There was no AR-15 at Virginia Tech and that remains the worst school shooting in U.S. history. 32 dead and nothing changed… In the meantime… [m]y children, like yours, have to practice hiding in the bathroom to avoid an active shooter and don’t even think about letting the teacher lead a prayer to get them through that moment because the guns are perfectly legal, but the prayers are not…’”
Gun Violence Not the Same in Israel
JTA wrote on February 15:
“Mike Huckabee, the former Governor of Arkansas… reacted to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida Wednesday by comparing Israeli gun safety policy to America’s… [He tweeted:] ‘Reminded that Israel pretty much eliminated it by placing highly trained people strategically to spot the one common thread–not the weapon, but a person with intent.’
“Many, including a prominent Israeli commentator, took issue with Huckabee’s analysis, saying it isn’t tight security that protects Israel from mass shootings but laws that carefully control who can own and carry a gun, and when. Huckabee is a strict supporter of the right to bear arms.
“‘No Governor, Israel NEVER had such a problem,’ responded Alon Pinkas, a former Consul General of Israel in New York. ‘We don’t worship guns, we don’t sell assault rifles to people, we don’t have a genius creation like the NRA, we don’t regard every bunch of guys a “well regulated militia” and we’re pretty much done fighting the British.’
“… Lawyer… Jill Filipovic referred Huckabee to an article about how Israel restricts gun ownership to those who can prove that their professions or places of residence put them in danger.
“… research, including a study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, says school and other mass shootings are rare in Israel because most people do not have access to the kinds of arsenals readily available in the United States.”
Escalation of Israeli Military Action in Syria
Deutsche Welle wrote on February 10:
“An Israeli jet has been downed by Syrian anti-air fire after Israel intercepted an Iranian drone launched from Syria. The incident is one of the most serious involving Israel, Iran and Syria amid the Syrian civil war… Israeli police said the F16 crashed in the Jezreel Valley in northern Israel (the Jezreel Valley is the biblical Armageddon where Gentile armies will gather to converge from there on Jerusalem to fight against the returning Christ)…
“In a separate statement, the military said… it had carried out ‘large-scale’ attacks on at least a dozen Iranian targets in Syria in response to the drone’s intrusion into Israeli airspace. But the Syrian military denied that the drone had violated Israeli airspace, saying the aircraft was on a mission gathering intelligence on ‘Islamic State’ militants within Syria…
“Israel’s targeting of an Iranian site in Syria marks an escalation in military action involving the three countries and is one of the most serious incidents of its type since the Syrian civil conflict began eight years ago… Israeli missiles also this week targeted a Syrian military research center near Damascus.”
The Complicated Syrian Civil War
Euractiv and Reuters reported on February 11:
“Pro-government forces and Kurdish-led forces have fought each other elsewhere in Syria, and Damascus opposes the Kurds’ demands for autonomy. But in Afrin they have a common enemy and a mutual interest in blocking Turkish advances. Turkey, which regards the Kurdish YPG militia in Afrin as a threat on its southern border, launched an assault on the region last month…
“For the United States, it is yet another complication in Syria’s seven-year-old war, and a reminder of how its Syrian Kurdish ally must at times make deals with Assad even as it builds military ties with the United States. Lacking international protection, the Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria say they have reached agreements with Damascus to allow reinforcements to be sent to Afrin from other Kurdish-dominated areas…
“The United States has relied on the YPG as a vital ground component of its war against Islamic State, and has backed the group in other Kurdish-run regions in northern Syria along the border with Turkey. But US forces are not in Afrin, so have been unable to shield Afrin from the attack by Turkey, its NATO ally… The Kurds meanwhile accuse Russia of giving a green light for the Turkish attack by withdrawing observers it deployed in Afrin last year.”
With these many players involved (also note the following articles), it is difficult to perceive who is actually supporting and fighting whom… while the brutal war goes on and on…
Israel under Cyber Attack
The Jerusalem Post wrote on February 12:
“With this weekend’s events shifting the country’s attention to envisioning the next potential war risks, the cyber-war playing field may once again come front and center… Israeli adversaries could potentially hack Israel Air Force aircraft, including the new, most-advanced F-35…
“Israeli drones can also be hacked and already have been. From 2011-14, Islamic Jihad master hacker Maagad Ben Juwad Oydeh hacked IDF drones while they flew over Gaza, as well as multiple parts of Ben-Gurion Airport’s network. The US and England also had previously hacked Israeli F-16s and drones for information.
“… could Iran or Hezbollah… turn an Israeli drone against Israel?… Other potential cyber risks that have been discussed are adversaries hacking Israeli missiles, missile defense or even nuclear-attack warning systems… To date, Iran and Hezbollah have failed to hack Israel to anywhere near the same extent that Russia and China have managed to hack the US and Europe…”
Germany Should Intervene in Light of American Absence
On February 12, Deutsche Welle published the following comments by Gil Murciano, “a Middle East and Africa expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) think tank in Berlin”:
“In the past, the Americans were an important part in the Israelis’ policy regarding Syria and Lebanon. But today, when it comes to the Syria issue, we see a complete absence of the US. You see the Americans leaving the arena to the Russians… The Syrian issue currently is not on the radar of US policy…
“I think the EU and, specifically in this case, Germany have a unique potential. It is both a strategic ally of Israel, and at the same time it enjoys some level of access or reliability from Iran. Germany is the only actor in the Western world that has some practical experience in mediating informal agreements between Israel, Iran and Hezbollah — the relevant factors in this conflict. Here I refer to the POW swap where Germany was the main negotiator and facilitator in the past. So it has the know-how, the capacities, and a huge interest to stop this cycle of escalation. The shockwave of a third war in this region would have an impact over the Mediterranean. In Lebanon alone we have 1.5 million refugees who, in case of a war, might be knocking on Europe’s doors.”
Europe and specifically Germany will play a major role in the Middle East.
To Serve Israel’s Interests, Israel Must Ignore America
The Jewish Press wrote on February 13:
“Israel should apply Israeli sovereignty to Judea and Samaria, regardless of the United States position on the matter, Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Ze’ev Elkin said Tuesday. Elkin’s comments followed a statement by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday that he had been talking with the United States for some time about the sovereignty law that would extend Israeli civil jurisdiction to settlements in Judea and Samaria, and the subsequent denial of such talks by the White House.
“Elkin told the 15th annual Jerusalem Conference that the issue of whether or not talks on annexation have taken place between Netanyahu and the Trump administration is not important, and that the focus should be whether or not applying sovereignty to Judea and Samaria is an Israeli interest…
“Elkin gave Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights in 1981 as an example that ultimately, Israel should do what it thinks serves its interests best, regardless of the American position. ‘The annexation of the Golan Heights was against the position of President [Ronald] Reagan, who was a very pro-Israel president, and he even imposed sanctions on Israel as a result,’ Elkin said. ‘Today, nobody remembers President Reagan’s sanctions, but we are left with full Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.’
“When asked if Israel should ignore the Trump administration’s position, Elkin said: ‘If what is right for the State of Israel is against the American stance, then we must do what is right for Israel and against the American stance.’”
And so, the relationship between the USA and Israel is prophesied to deteriorate.
USA Worried over European Defense Agreement
Defense News reported on February 14:
“The U.S. is keeping a close eye on a newly formed European Union joint defense agreement [called, the Permanent Structured Cooperation on Security and Defence (PESCO)] to ensure that European members are not distracted from their NATO commitments… ‘We don’t want to see E.U. efforts pulling requirements or forces away from NATO and into the E.U.’, [Katie Wheelbarger, principal deputy assistant secretary for international security affairs, said.]
“… The countries involved ― Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden ― overlap with the NATO nations, with some key differences.
“Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Ireland and Sweden are non-NATO countries, while PESCO excludes Canada, the U.S. and the U.K., three members of NATO not based on the continent that often drive the alliance conversation; instead, PESCO is being driven by France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
“Roberta Pinotti, Italy’s defense minister, wrote… that PESCO ‘might represent the best and, right now, the only possible response to the challenges to international security and Europe’s defense… We need new joint investment in which the EU has a key financial but also political role — new programs must reflect European needs and must be seen by all as intrinsically European…’
“The list of potential PESCO projects [is] still being created, but the creation of a new defense funding mechanism ― under which NATO countries could pool resources for, as Pinotti put it, “intrinsically European” needs and not necessarily spend that funding how NATO would like them to ― has the U.S. keeping a close eye on proceedings… the U.S. is worried about creating two sets of rules that could complicate the issue.”
Without specifically saying or admitting it, PESCO has of course been created to counteract the USA which it correctly felt to have become totally unreliable under President Trump. Also note the next article.
Need for the EU Army
Deutsche Welle wrote on February 15:
“Early plans for a European army failed in the wake of World War II. EU states have since taken numerous small steps to integrate their armed forces, bringing the idea of a Europe-wide military ever-closer to reality… After the end of the European Defense Community (EDC) in 1954, plans for a European army were put on the back burner for decades, until recent events revived the idea…
“The first major step was late last year, when 25 EU member states agreed to the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) on the integration of national militaries into an EU force…
“Founded in 1989, the Franco-German Brigade is the only bi-national military organization in the world…
“In 1995… Germany and the Netherlands established the German/Netherlands Corps… German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen called it a ‘prime example of how to build a European defense union’…
“EU countries are increasingly recognizing the need to accelerate closer military cooperation within the bloc. This not only applies to smaller nations like the Netherlands, but also to EU heavyweights like France and Germany…
“During France’s Mali intervention in 2013, military leaders in Paris were shocked to discover that the country lacked the resources to run such extensive combat operations on its own for long periods of time. French military partners had to help with transport and reconnaissance missions shortly after the operation was launched…
“Last year it was reported that Germany’s navy had no submarines at the ready… The country’s military, the third-largest in the EU, is not expected to have an operational submarine at its disposal again until mid-2018 at the earliest…”
Polish Government Orders Poles to Denounce “Anti-Polish” Compatriots
Deutsche Welle wrote on February 15:
“Senate leader Stanislaw Karczewski has ordered Poles living abroad to inform authorities of [‘harmful’] ‘anti-Polish comments’ made by other Poles. A report [by German public broadcaster NDR] claims an official letter has been sent to embassies and consulates…worldwide asking Poles to ‘document all anti-Polish comments and opinions that could hurt us.’
“The letter orders Poles to ‘inform embassies, consulates of any defamation that could harm the good reputation of Poland.’ NDR says the letter has already been distributed by the general consulate in Munich and that Hamburg’s consulate would follow suit…
“The move comes after Poland passed a controversial Holocaust law that makes it an offense to state that Poles or Poland had any part in Nazi-era atrocities… The law was immediately condemned by the US and Israel. German Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel avoided wading into the diplomatic spat, stressing that Germany alone was responsible for the Holocaust…
“According to senate leader Karczewski, who penned the letter, Poles have been exposed to the painful, unjust and, most of all, factually wrong expression‘Polish death camps’ as well as ‘claims that Poles were involved in the Holocaust,’ stressing that both were an ‘insult to our national dignity and pride.’”
There can be NO question that Poles were involved in the Holocaust. It is absolutely ludicrous to suggest otherwise. The order of the Polish government to denounce Poles who dare to tell the truth is shameful and reminds us of Gestapo activities under Hitler, East-Germany’s Stasi and other dictatorial countries.
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.