This Week in the News

Trump Fires Tillerson!

The Washington Post reported on March 13:

“President Trump said Tuesday he has ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and plans to nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace him as the nation’s top diplomat, orchestrating a major change to his national security team amid delicate outreach that includes possible talks with North Korea.

“Trump and Tillerson have had a fraught relationship for many months. Trump told reporters Tuesday that he ultimately decided to fire the secretary because they disagreed over strategy in key areas of foreign policy, such as the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the approach to North Korea and the overall tone of U.S. diplomacy…

“Trump selected CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel to succeed Pompeo as the agency’s director. She would become the first woman to run the spy agency. Both Haspel and Pompeo would need to be confirmed by the Senate at a time when the closely divided chamber has stalled on confirming dozens of Trump nominees.

“Haspel, in particular, could come under added scrutiny over her past role running one of the CIA ‘black site’ prisons where detainees were subjected to waterboarding and other interrogation methods widely denounced as torture.

“The announcement of Tillerson’s departure sent shock waves across the globe. Many U.S. diplomats and foreign leaders reacted with disbelief because they assumed Tillerson had finally begun to settle into his job after rumors of his ouster had swirled for months — even taking on a nickname, Rexit.”

Arrest Warrant for Trump’s New CIA Director?

MSN wrote on March 13:

“Federal prosecutors in Munich are currently reviewing a request to issue an arrest warrant for Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump‘s recently named director of the Central Intelligence Agency (‘CIA’).

“Haspel currently serves as the deputy director for the CIA and her nomination to head the agency must be approved by the U.S. Senate. Prior to her appointment as CIA deputy director, Haspel controversially ran a secret CIA prison in Thailand used to house, question, and allegedly torture detainees during the second Bush administration’s War on Terror.

“Haspel’s tenure as ‘Chief of Base’ at the prison–and what she did while serving in that role–is the subject of the arrest warrant request.”

Russia Denies Role in Poisoning

The Los Angeles Times wrote on March 13:

“Russia on Tuesday dismissed accusations of any involvement in the poisoning of an ex-spy and his daughter as ‘nonsense,’ saying it will only cooperate with a British investigation if it receives samples of the nerve agent believed to have been used.

“Police, meanwhile, said the investigation of who poisoned Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, will last many weeks and that they are not ready to identify any people of interest in the inquiry. The father and daughter remain in critical condition in a Salisbury hospital.

“British Prime Minister Theresa May said Russia’s involvement is ‘highly likely,’ and she gave the country a deadline of midnight Tuesday to explain its actions in the case. She is reviewing a range of economic and diplomatic measures in retaliation for the assault with what she identified as the military-grade nerve agent Novichok.

“U.S. and European officials were quick to offer words of support for Britain, which will need the backing of its allies if any new sanctions are to have any impact.”

Russia Refuses to Respond

yahoo reported on March 13:

“Britain braced for a showdown with Russia on Wednesday after a midnight deadline set by Prime Minister Theresa May expired without an explanation from Moscow about how a Soviet-era nerve toxin was used to strike down a former Russian double agent.

“The United States, European Union and NATO supported Britain after May said it was ‘highly likely’ that Russia was behind the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter with Novichok, a nerve agent developed by the Soviet military.

“Russia, which denied any involvement, said it was not responding to May’s ultimatum until it received samples of the nerve agent, effectively challenging Britain to show what sanctions it would impose against Russian interests.

“‘Moscow will not respond to London’s ultimatum until it receives samples of the chemical substance,’ Russia’s embassy in London said. ‘Any threat to take punitive measures against Russia will meet with a response.’

“Britain could call on Western allies for a coordinated response, freeze the assets of Russian business leaders and officials, limit their access to London’s financial center, expel diplomats and even launch targeted cyber attacks.”

Vladimir Putin continues to push at the West, and up to this point—with impunity!

Britain’s Response…

The Washington Post reported on March 14:

“British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday ordered the immediate expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats believed to be involved in espionage, in the first reprisals against Moscow for a chemical attack on a former double agent.

“May, speaking to Parliament, said the response would include a halt to high-level meetings between British and Russian officials and the cancellation of a planned visit to Britain by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

“She also said the royal family and government ministers would boycott this summer’s World Cup soccer tournament in Russia. More countermeasures — some clandestine — are under consideration.

“The prime minister repeated the conclusion of British investigators that Russia had either deployed or lost control of a dangerous nerve agent used in the attack targeting former spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter, Yulia, 33.

“May said Russia’s dismissive response to her demand for an explanation has ‘demonstrated complete disdain for the gravity of these events.’

“‘Instead, they have treated the use of a military-grade nerve agent in Europe with sarcasm, contempt and defiance,’ she told lawmakers.

“The British leader gave no further details on the Russian diplomats ordered out of the country but said they were deemed ‘undeclared intelligence officers.’ She called it the largest expulsion of Russian diplomats from Britain since Cold War-era retributions in the 1980s.”

Britain has been pre-occupied with Brexit, and it seems that Europe is only offering tepid support for any strong response to Russia. After all, Russia’s oil and gas supplies are crucial for the EU. Britain may have to look very hard for meaningful help in penalizing Russia.

Four More Years for Angela Merkel!

dw wrote on March 14:

“Merkel’s election by Germany’s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, ends 171 days of waiting after Germany’s national popular election on September 24, 2017. Merkel was elected by deputies from her own conservative CDU-CSU and her junior coalition partners, the Social Democratic Party (SPD)…

“Merkel’s first attempt to form a coalition, with the center-right Free Democrats and the Greens, failed. But she succeeded in doing a deal with the Social Democrats after weeks of late-night negotiation and over the opposition of many regional SPD leaders and one-third of the party rank and file.

“The 63-year-old Merkel will now begin her fourth term as German chancellor and her third as the leader of a grand coalition.”

Mrs. Merkel’s challenge remains—to bring unity to a Germany that grows increasingly polarized.

Putin Suggests that Jews and Minorities be Blamed…

UPI wrote on March 12:

“Russian President Vladimir Putin is facing criticism over comments suggesting Jews and other minorities may have been responsible for meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

“During an interview with Megyn Kelly on U.S. television, Putin said he “couldn’t care less” about accusations of Russian interference in the election and 13 Russian nationals who were charged by U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller last month.

“‘I couldn’t care less because they do not represent the government, I could not care less. They do not represent the interests of the Russian state,’ Putin said.

“‘Maybe they’re not even Russians, but Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship. Even that needs to be checked,” Putin said when questioned about who meddled in the election. “Maybe they have dual citizenship. Or maybe a green card. Maybe it was the Americans who paid them for this work. How do you know? I don’t know.’”

France Won’t Recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

breakingisraelnews  reported on March 9:

“French President Emmanuel Macron told an audience on Wednesday that he would fight anti-Semitism online and in the streets of France in order to protect the country’s Jews.

“‘There are hatreds that are rising again; there are the worst kinds of crimes,’ Macron said at the annual dinner of the extensive Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France, or CRIF, Jewish umbrella organization.

“‘We have understood, with horror, that anti-Semitism is still alive. And on this issue our response must be unforgiving,’ said Macron. ‘France would not be itself if Jewish citizens had to leave because they were afraid.’

“Official figures show that anti-Semitic crimes increased 26 percent last year in France, with a 22 percent increase in vandalism to Jewish synagogues and cemeteries.

“Though CRIF leader Francis Kalifat encouraged Macron to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as has U.S. President Donald Trump and Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, Macron called the move an ‘error.’

“France, he said, ‘would lose this status of honest broker, which is the only useful one for the region,’ if it were to recognize the Jewish claim on the city.”

President Trump has indicated that the U.S. Embassy would move to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv in March of this year. This would mark the seventieth anniversary of the Jews’ declaration of the State of Israel (March 14, 1948). Along with France, most of the rest of the world is refusing to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Many of Israel’s neighbors constantly threaten a war of total annihilation, and the Bible clearly reveals that war is coming!

Pope Francis—Too Liberal?

CNN wrote on March 3:

“In the beginning, there were signs and wonder.

“Signs that Jorge Bergoglio would be different, which led 1.2 billion Catholics to wonder: What kind of Pope would this obscure archbishop from Argentina turn out to be?…

“… Five years later, Pope Francis is firmly among the most liberal, global and politically relevant Holy Fathers in modern history.

“And for some Catholics, that’s become a problem…

“’I now understand how liberals in the church felt under the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict,’ says Benjamin Harnwell, director of the Institute for Human Dignity, a religious right-wing think tank. ‘I never got it before. I thought they were just dissenters, but they really didn’t feel as if they were truly part of the church, and that the Vatican didn’t involve or want them. Well, the pendulum has swung the other way.’

“As Harnwell strolls his new headquarters — an ancient monastery in the hills outside Rome that holds magnificent paintings of Christian persecution and the bones of St. Boniface — he explains his belief that The Vatican is a house divided.

“There are those like Pope Francis, who believe the church should be more like a field hospital, attending to the wounded — regardless of faith or denomination — while creating a more Christ-like society on earth.

“And then there is his camp, which sees the Catholic Church as a supernatural organization, here to enforce the strict rules of heavenly entry.”

Cardinal Marx—A Power Broker to the EU

Politico reported on March 12:

“With allies in Brussels and the Vatican, Cardinal Reinhard Marx has shaped the European debate.

“The German cardinal is the archbishop of one of the Continent’s richest dioceses, and he has spent the last six years serving as the head of the Roman Catholic Church’s most important presence in Brussels. Like Cardinal Richelieu, the 17th-century cleric who served as chief minister to King Louis XIII, Marx has close relations with the highest secular powers in Europe: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

“As head of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community, an advocacy organization consisting of representatives of the Catholic Church from the 28 members of the European Union, Marx has waded into the European debate, in public and behind closed doors…

“Marx belongs to the Catholic Church’s more liberal wing (he was made cardinal by the conservative Pope Benedict in 2010, but his views are clearly closer to those of Pope Francis). As president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences (known in Brussels as COMECE, an abbreviation of its French name), he has often found himself facing off on issues of theology or public policy against colleagues from more conservative Eastern European countries.

“COMECE includes members representing each of the EU28 (a single bishop represents Denmark, Sweden and Finland, while the U.K. has two: one for England and Wales, and one from Scotland). They meet regularly in Brussels to discuss EU policies that might affect them or their parishioners — making the organization a sort of religious parallel to the European Council. And it reflects many of its secular counterpart’s regional divides — especially when it comes to traditionally sensitive issues like abortion and homosexuality…

“Part of Marx’s power lies in his closeness to the Vatican, and in particular to Francis, who in 2013 asked him to serve as a counselor in a new structure outside the Roman Curia.

“Last fall, Marx helped organize a conference in Rome on ‘Re-Thinking Europe,’ which was attended by former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta and Sylvie Goulard, a confidant of French President Emmanuel Macron who is now deputy governor of the Bank of France…

The diocese he oversees is one of the richest in the world. Thanks to the Kirchensteuer, a tax that registered Catholics have to pay every year in Germany, “it collects more than €5 billion a year, more than five times, for example, what is collected by the Italian Church,” according to the Vaticanista Sandro Magister.

“‘It has a budget higher than many small member states,’ said a Vatican official.”

Court Vindicates Couple for Refusing to Lie About the “Easter Bunny”

nationalpost reported on March 7:

“An Ontario child welfare agency placed promoting belief in the Easter Bunny above preventing possible trauma when it removed two girls from a foster home because the Christian couple refused to lie about the bunny’s existence, an Ontario judge ruled.

“In a stinging indictment of the actions of the Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton, a court judgment declared the CAS violated the foster parent’s right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression when the children were taken from their home and their fostering agreement terminated over the Easter Bunny dilemma.

“Derek and Frances Baars, who lived in Hamilton at the time but have since moved to Edmonton, sued the Children’s Aid Society last year, saying a CAS worker insisted they proactively tell two girls in their care, aged three and four, the Easter Bunny was genuine, despite the couple’s belief that all lying is wrong

“The Baars are Christians and members of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America…

“Evidence was clear the Baars sincerely believe it is wrong to lie, including lying to promote belief in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny…”

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