This Week in the News

How Strong Is the US Military?

The Atlantic wrote on July 27:

“Contrary to President Donald Trump’s assertion that ‘our nation is stronger today than it ever was before,’ the ‘Salute to America’ [parade during the 4th of July celebrations] looked more like a military antiques road show than a display of a 21st-century military power.

“The age of the current force was most apparent in the Army hardware on display… The M-1A2 Abrams tanks and M-2 Bradley infantry combat vehicles… represent a generation of armored vehicles that were designed in the 1970s and procured in large numbers during the 1980s. More than three decades later, they remain, albeit with modification, the mainstay of the U.S. Army and have been used in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The aircraft that flew over the capital echoed the theme of an advanced but aging force. The B-2 Spirit stealth bomber was another product of the Reagan defense buildup. Although it is an impressive aircraft able to evade enemy radar, the U.S. Air Force has fewer than 20 of them—far short of the 132 the Air Force originally envisioned purchasing when the bomber first took flight in 1988, and its successor, the B-21 Raider, has yet to make its first flight. The two F-22 Raptors that flanked it are newer aircraft but, like the B-2, exist in only small numbers (187 rather than the 750 originally envisioned)…

“America’s non-stealthy aircraft are becoming more vulnerable. Decades after it was introduced, stealth is still working its way into the U.S. military—in the form of the F-35 plane that the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps are procuring. In the meantime, most U.S. combat aircraft are not stealthy and are less and less useful in high-threat environments. Indeed, as a result of a lack of aircraft-modernization programs over the past 30 years, the Air Force’s fighter force is half the size it was when the Berlin Wall fell, and has reached an unprecedented average age of 26 years…

“Moreover, military displays like the one on July 4 obscure the fact that the U.S. armed forces are still largely organized the way they were a generation ago and employ tactics that have seen only marginal change from those employed in past wars…

“The United States tends not to parade its nuclear forces in public. Had Trump done so, the public would have seen not row upon row of new missiles, such as those that have appeared in recent Russian and Chinese parades, but rather a force of land- and sea-based missiles and bombers that date back to the late Cold War or its immediate aftermath…

“The wars of the future may depend not so much on the kinds of things you can put on parade, but on new technologies that reimagine warfare. Adversaries have invested in blunting America’s ability to project military power abroad, including by striking critical bases of operations, disabling information networks, and interfering with communication, navigation, and imagery satellites that support military operations…”

In light of these facts, it might perhaps not be all that stunning to realize that the US will lose its biblically prophesied war with Europe.

US Costliest Warship Cannot Carry Ammunition

Bloomberg wrote on July 30:

“Only two of 11 elevators needed to lift munitions to the deck of the U.S. Navy’s new $13 billion aircraft carrier (the costliest warship ever) have been installed… It’s another setback for contractor Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. — and for the Navy, which had said in December it planned to complete installation and testing of all 11 elevators before the Ford completed its post-delivery shakedown phase this month… Instead, the shakedown phase has been extended to October and the vessel won’t have all the elevators installed — much less functioning — by then… Essentially, the ship can’t deployIt can’t carry ammunition

“The elevators aren’t the only issue plaguing the ship, which has had problems with two other core systems — the electromagnetic system to launch planes and the arresting gear to catch them when they land… ‘I am concerned overall that the Navy is under-equipped in key areas,” the Oklahoma Republican [Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe] said in a statement. ‘The USS Gerald R. Ford is a prime example of that — delivered nearly two years late, billions over budget, and 9 of 11 weapons elevators still don’t work, with costs continuing to grow’…”

The US President’s War Powers

The Week wrote on July 28:

“The U.S. is currently conducting military operations in at least seven countries. In addition to Afghanistan and Iraq, American forces are involved in conflicts in Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Niger, and Libya. Most of these campaigns are being carried out under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which Congress passed just a week after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The 60-word resolution granted the president sweeping powers to use force against any nation, organization, or person who aided in the attacks. That was understood to include Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network al Qaida and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The Constitution gives Congress the sole power to ‘declare war,’ but since 2001, presidents have repeatedly used the AUMF to justify military operations around the globe. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently suggested President Trump had the authority to unilaterally order a war against Iran because of the AUMF.

“Can Trump do that? Legally, it’s a big stretch. Pompeo has told Congress that Iran has ‘very real’ ties with al Qaida. Intelligence analysts, however, are highly skeptical… there is no evidence of active collaboration between Iran’s Shiite rulers and Sunni-dominated al Qaida. So, the Trump administration’s trial balloon on Iran has alarmed members of both parties in Congress…

“Presidents Bush and Obama invoked the AUMF at least 37 times for military actions in 14 countries and at sea. Obama invoked it to strike ISIS in the Middle East and al–Shabab in East Africa—terrorist groups that didn’t exist on Sept. 11, 2001. Obama administration lawyers argued that those groups were ‘associated forces’ of al Qaida, so the law still applied. But even before the AUMF, American presidents had steadily expanded their war powers over the last century.

“Through what authority? Through their role as commander in chief of the military. The Framers acknowledged that the president should be able to order a military response to an emergency, such as a foreign attack on the U.S., without a formal declaration of war. American presidents have steadily expanded the definition of ‘emergency’; as a result, the U.S. has had only five declared wars in its history, the last of which was World War II. President Truman didn’t seek congressional approval for the Korean War – which lasted for three years and cost the lives of 40,000 Americans – by describing it as a ‘police action’ under United Nations rules. The small American presence in South Vietnam metastasized into a full-blown… undeclared war [which] lasted until 1975, killing more than 58,000 Americans and more than 1.3 million people altogether…

“In 1973, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution, which required the president to seek congressional approval for any conflicts lasting more than 60 days. Presidents have mostly just ignored it. Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton all used loose interpretations of ‘national emergency’ to justify interventions in conflicts in Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Somalia, and Bosnia. Obama argued that the War Powers Resolution didn’t apply to airstrikes in Libya because they wouldn’t involve ground troops or the ‘sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire.’ The Obama and Trump administrations have used a similar rationale to justify supporting Saudi Arabia’s brutal campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Trump used the same legal framework for airstrikes on Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria last year.

“Why doesn’t Congress object? It often does, but it’s nearly impossible to rein in the president without overwhelming, veto-proof congressional majorities. Congress passed a bipartisan bill in April demanding that Trump remove all troops involved in ‘hostilities’ in Yemen, but the president simply vetoed it… In many cases, Congress has actually preferred to let the president take the lead on military action abroad. When Obama asked Congress in 2013 to authorize military strikes against Syria in retaliation for chemical weapons attacks against civilians, the Senate refused even to hold a vote…”

So, practically, the power of the US President to declare and wage war is seemingly unrestricted. This should be of great interest to every American—and to American allies and foes alike.

US Economy Slows

npr wrote on July 26:

“U.S. economic growth fell to a 2.1% annual rate in the second quarter — down from a 3.1% pace in the first three months of 2019…  President Trump has targeted a growth rate of 3% or above, citing the Republican tax cuts passed in 2017. But some studies have found that the tax cuts passed have done little to boost growth, in part because most of the benefit went to wealthy people and corporations.

“A 5.2% drop in exports — amid economic weakness in Europe and elsewhere as well as the U.S. trade war with China and other countries — contributed to the slowdown… In addition… the Commerce Department cited a number of other factors for the slowdown, including drops in business investment and investments in commercial and residential real estate. But consumer spending jumped 4.3% in the second quarter and government spending surged 5%….

“The economic slowdown comes even as unemployment, at 3.7%, is at near 50-year lows. Over the past three months, employers have added an average of 171,000 jobs each month. The trade war has taken a toll on manufacturing, and Boeing’s ongoing problems with the grounding of its top-selling 737 Max have also hurt the economy, analysts say… ‘We’re already seeing some signs of slowing momentum in the U.S. economy and slowing business investment overall,’ Greg Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, told NPR’s Jim Zarroli [said].”

The question in light of this is as to how long the low unemployment figures and the high consumer spending can be maintained. 

Fed Cuts Interest Rates – Why?

The Week wrote on July 31:

“The Federal Reserve announced its first interest rate cut in a decade on Wednesday…

“It’s unusual for the Fed to cut rates as data show ‘above trend growth’ and such a strong labor market, rather than waiting to offer stimulus when the economy is heading into trouble, said Ethan Harris, head of global economic research at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. ‘There’s no historical precedent,’ he said.”

The Democratic Debate: Socialists vs. Moderates

AFP wrote on July 31:

“The ideological divide between Democratic presidential hopefuls came into focus Tuesday as leading progressive candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren defended their liberal policies on healthcare and immigration against surprisingly energetic attacks from moderate rivals. The fault lines emerged immediately in the second debate of the 2020 Democratic primary race, with lesser-known candidates taking sharp digs and warning that forcing radical change could ensure President Donald Trump’s re-election

“[Warren] and Sanders faced dramatic pushback including from ex-congressman John Delaney who delivered a scathing rebuke to their ‘fairy tale economics’ that risk bankrupting the economy… Warren and Sanders… are essentially tied for second, at about half Biden’s support…”

Second Democratic Debate

Fox News reported on August 1:

“Former Vice President Joe Biden dominated the debate stage and weathered the attacks of nine opponents for the Democratic presidential nomination Wednesday night, emerging the clear winner… [He] delivered his message compellingly and convincingly. Even during his less strong moments, Biden remained the focal point of the conversation, speaking for over 21 minutes – more than any other candidate on stage…

“Despite Biden’s strong performance and solid frontrunner status, it is clear that the party has seismically shifted away from the centrist Democratic Party of the 1990’s…”

US Allies Are Distancing Themselves from America

The Atlantic wrote on July 27:

“Two of America’s closest treaty allies have announced military efforts explicitly designed to exclude the United States. Australia is ‘seeking to cement its status as the security partner of choice for Pacific nations’ by establishing an expeditionary training force. And the United Kingdom wants to create a multinational force to ensure freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz.

“It’s not a coincidence that allies are striking out on their own. Countries in the Pacific worry that the U.S. is forcing them to choose between their economic connections to China and their security relationships with the U.S…

“America’s friends are choosing to dissociate themselves, believing their interests are better served without American strength. It seems the rest of the world is losing faith that the U.S. is a reliable partner… The U.S. is ceasing to be a country that its allies come to for help solving problems. On the contrary, America’s allies think the U.S. is the cause of their increasingly tenuous security… [US] relations with close allies have frayed in systemically significant ways…”

The Algemeiner wrote on July 26:

“Denmark said on Friday it welcomed a British government proposal for a European-led naval mission to ensure safe shipping through the Strait of Hormuz and would consider a military maritime contribution… The initiative won initial support from Denmark, France and Italy… The backing contrasts with a lukewarm response shown by European allies to a similar American call first voiced at NATO in late June, which was resisted by France and Germany. They worried the US-led military alliance would be dragged into a possible confrontation with Iran.

“EU-member Denmark is among the world’s biggest seafaring nations and home to the world’s biggest container shipping firm AP Moller-Maersk, which sails in the high-tension area. ‘The Royal Danish Navy is strong and capable and would be able to contribute actively and effectively to this type of engagement,’ said Danish Defense Minister Trine Bramsen. A final decision would still need to be discussed in parliament.”

Germany Refuses to Assist USA

Breitbart wrote on July 31:

“The U.S. has requested naval cooperation from Germany in the Strait of Hormuz as tensions with Iran escalate, but the political leaders of the European nation have refused to assist their NATO allies. The German Federal Foreign Office said that Washington has approached them to contribute to a new surveillance mission in the Persian Gulf but had rejected the appeal saying there was no prospect of a contribution, German tabloid Bild reports.

“Germany’s allies, including the U.S. and the UK, have been attacked in the Persian Gulf by Iran in recent months. and under the doctrine of collective defence guaranteed by the NATO alliance, Germany is duty-bound to come to the aid of its allies if asked. Yet senior members of Angela Merkel’s left-centrist coalition government have made clear working with the U.S. is out of the question.”

Trade Deal between US and UK?

The Guardian wrote on July 31:

“Boris Johnson has presented a trade deal with the US as a way of offsetting the economic costs of leaving the EU, and Donald Trump promised the two countries could strike ‘a very substantial trade agreement’ that would increase trade ‘four or five times’. Trump, however, would not be able to push an agreement through a hostile Congress, where there would be strong bipartisan opposition to any UK trade deal in the event of a threat to the 1998 Good Friday agreement, and to the open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic…

“[Republican] Pete King [said] his party would have no compunction about defying Trump over the issue…

“For the past eight months, Congress has held up ratification of a new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, the USMCA, which Trump has presented as an extraordinary achievement… Representative King said a UK trade deal would face even greater obstacles

“The Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has said that a US-UK trade deal has ‘no chance whatsoever’ of passing in Congress…”

Partisan Decision of US Supreme Court to Support Trump’s Wall

Breitbart wrote on July 26:

“The U.S. Supreme Court allowed President Donald Trump to begin building the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border using emergency funds, lifting an injunction Friday that had been imposed by a district court in California and upheld by the Ninth Circuit.

“After Congress refused to appropriate enough funding to build a barrier along the border earlier this year, President Trump declared a national emergency to allow the administration to access more money. In total, he ordered $8 billion spent — though, as Breitbart News pointed out, only $3.6 billion needed an emergency declaration.

“The decision was largely along partisan lines, with all five Republican-appointed justices voting to lift the injunction, while all three liberal justices were opposed…”

As can be seen from this example, the US Supreme Court has become—or has always been—a political force. The decision is difficult to comprehend from just a merely legal standpoint.

Strange Happenings at the Mexican Border

World News Daily Report wrote on July 24:

“A group of Minutemen watching the Mexican Border for illegal migrants and drug traffickers, have proceeded to the citizen arrest of two men in an SUV, carrying 1300 pounds of cocaine. The volunteers were completely astonished when the two arrestees pulled out CIA ID cards and explained they were actually carrying the drug as part of their duties and that the cargo belonged to the Central Intelligence Agency.

“… the CIA spokesperson, Dean Boyd, has officially denied any link between the organization and the two men… Both the border patrol officers and minutemen seem unconvinced, however, and many of them seem to believe that the secret service agency is hiding something… Both the FBI and the DEA have announced that they would collaborate with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in this case, which has already attracted a lot of attention in Southern Texas.”

One does wonder…

U.S., Guatemala Sign Treaty Denying U.S. Asylum to Migrants

The Week wrote on July 27:

“President Trump on Friday announced an agreement with Guatemala that will require migrants traveling through the country to seek asylum there rather than the United States. American officials said the deal could go into effect within weeks, but critics are expected to challenge it in court, arguing that Guatemala is one of the world’s most dangerous countries and, therefore, should not be considered a place of refuge for those fleeing violence.

“Guatemala’s Constitutional Court has also granted multiple injunctions on the deal preventing the government from entering into it without congressional approval. American asylum laws require that almost all asylum seekers who arrive at the U.S. border be allowed to seek refuge in the country, unless they passed through a ‘safe third’ country, which is what Guatemala would be considered if the deal does go into effect.”

Even though the proposed deal was described by the conservative media as a great victory for Donald Trump, it faces substantial legal challenges in both countries. 

Believing Flip-Flopping Boris Johnson?

Breitbart wrote on July 27:

“Brexit Party MEP Alexandra Philips has warned that ‘we can’t believe Boris’ on his pledges to deliver Brexit… [She] joked that his colleagues should keep count of how many times Prime Minister Johnson pledges to take the UK out of the EU on October 31st, after his predecessor Theresa May stated 108 times that the UK would leave on March 29th. Ms Philips remarked: ‘No, we can’t believe Boris because this is the man who first of all reportedly wrote two different versions of his columns to The Telegraph on whether we should Remain or Leave.’

“Mr Johnson has u-turned on a number of positions in the past, including having voted for Mrs May’s withdrawal treaty on its third vote in the House of Commons, despite having voted it down twice before on grounds that it would reduce the United Kingdom to a ‘vassal state’ or ‘colony’ of the EU…

“Show host Martin Daubney revived the possibility of a Nigel Farage-Boris Johnson election pact…  Mr Farage also shared his colleague’s scepticism that the Tory government under Johnson would deliver Brexit, saying: ‘I don’t believe a single word the Conservative Party tell us. Theresa May told us 108 times we were leaving on March 29th and we didn’t, so just because Boris says we’re leaving on the 31st of October doesn’t mean we’re going to.’”

Nigel Farage also said that unless an election pact between him and Boris Johnson is formed, Mr. Johnson will not succeed. On the other hand, he might carry out Brexit—even without a deal. Also note the next interesting article about his close relationship to Israel.

Johnson a Passionate Zionist

Breaking Israel News wrote on July 24:

“Boris Johnson[’s] Jewish ancestry and personal experiences volunteering on an Israeli kibbutz as a young man positively impact his feelings about the Land of Israel and the Jewish people… He has great-grandparents who were Christian, Muslim, and Jewish and sometimes refers to himself as a ‘one-man melting pot.’

“Johnson’s maternal great-grandfather was a Russian Jewish immigrant… [he] was not a practicing Jew but was descendent of a strictly Orthodox Jewish rabbi from Lithuania. Throughout his political career, Johnson has been a strong advocate for Israel. Writing for The Jewish Chronicle, Daniella Peled reported in 2007 that Johnson is, ‘an enemy of politically correct anti-Zionism and immensely proud of his own Jewish ancestry.’ She quoted Johnson saying, ‘I feel Jewish when I feel the Jewish people are threatened or under attack, that’s when it sort of comes out. When I suddenly get a whiff of antisemitism, it’s then that you feel angry and protective.’

“In addition to his Jewish ancestry, Johnson has even stronger ties to Israel through his Jewish stepmother… Johnson refers to himself as a ‘passionate Zionist’ who ‘loves the great country’ of Israel… British politicians rarely call themselves ‘Zionists.’…”

Pound Could Hit Historic Low

The Wall Street Journal wrote on July 30:

“The new U.K. government’s tough line on Brexit negotiations is pummeling the pound, reflecting increased investor fears the country could crash out of the European Union without an exit agreement… Two days of heavy selling have raised fears that sterling is heading toward its lowest level against the dollar in more than 34 years…

“‘People had thought that Boris Johnson may soften his stance once he was in power, but now the market is realizing that a no-deal Brexit is a very real possibility,’ said Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors in London… The pound could fall to $1.18 as Oct. 31 approaches, she said… Analysts are now placing the probability of a no-deal Brexit between 35% and 45%, up from 20% to 30% at the start of July.”

Russia and China Best Friends

The Guardian wrote on July 27:

“Now that Putin is Xi’s ‘best and bosom friend’, where does that leave the west?  An ever closer alliance between Beijing and Moscow has the Pentagon worried as a threat to US power in east Asia…

“A China-Russia axis is not a new idea but the question is gaining in topicality. Look no further than last week’s aerial confrontation over the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea. For the first time, China and Russia joined forces to mount an air patrol using long-range bombers and spy planes…

“China and Russia agree on many issues, principally the obsolescence of liberal democracy and the attractions of authoritarian governance. When Putin hosted Xi Jinping in Moscow in June, they celebrated a 30% year-on-year increase in bilateral trade and signed various cooperation deals. Russia is selling China its latest weaponry, including S400 ground-to-air missiles and SU-35 jets.

“Bigger, more frequent joint military exercises are planned… Putin has met Xi about 30 times since 2013. Xi calls him his ‘best and bosom friend’. All this… is deeply troubling, not just for Pentagon war-gamers but also for western allies… Trump’s two summit meetings with North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong-un, have failed to produce any movement on denuclearisation. Now things are beginning to unravel. On Thursday, Pyongyang resumed ballistic missile testing.

“Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, while pursuing improved relations with China, also wants his country to be more self-reliant militarily. But he failed to secure a mandate to change Tokyo’s pacifist constitution in last weekend’s Upper House elections. That has tied his hands – which suits China and Russia just fine.

“Compared with Japan, South Korea’s relations with China are less encumbered by historical baggage. But the large American military presence there is a constant irritant… The Philippines president, Rodrigo Duterte, lamely agreed this year to shelve bilateral territorial and fishing disputes under pressure from Xi. Cambodia has reportedly agreed to host a Chinese naval base, although it officially denies it.

“Meanwhile China, sensing division and weakness, is noisily amplifying its longstanding objections to US (and British) geopolitical ‘meddling’. After more violence in Hong Kong last week, it pointedly told the US to remove its ‘black hand’.  Xi is simultaneously ramping up pressure on US-protected Taiwan… Beijing vowed to ‘resolutely defeat anyone attempting to separate Taiwan from China and safeguard national unity at all costs’.

“This sterner-than-usual warning follows Washington’s decision to supply $2.2bn (£1.8bn) in arms to Taiwan and a heightened US naval presence in the Taiwan Strait. Yet despite these American moves, Taiwan, in common with other rattled regional friends and allies, doubts Trump can be counted on…”

The Bible prophesies that a strong economic and military power bloc will be forming in the Far East, consisting of countries such as China, Russia and others. This power bloc will turn out to be hostile towards the West, especially continental Europe.

Crackdown on Russia’s Opposition

Deutsche Welle reported on July 27:

“Police in Moscow said they arrested more than 1,000 people [newer accounts put the number in excess of 1,400] on Saturday during an unauthorized rally to demand fair upcoming elections in Russia’s capital city. Around 3,500 people took to the streets, according to media reports [but the real figure was undoubtedly much higher, according to other press releases], in a demonstration which lasted more than seven hours. Demonstrators were protesting a decision by Moscow’s electoral authorities to keep several opposition members off the ballot for a city council election in September…

“Alexei Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition activist, had called for people to attend the rally. He was jailed for 30 days on Wednesday for organizing ‘unauthorized’ demonstrations… [Deutsche Welle wrote on July 28: “It’s not the first time Russian authorities have detained Navalny. The European Court of Human Rights last year ruled that Russia’s arrests and detention of Navalny in 2012 and 2014 were politically motivated and breached his human rights, a verdict Moscow rejected.”]

“Last weekend, 22,000 people attended a protest in Moscow to protest the ban on opposition candidates, the largest such demonstration in years… anti-Kremlin parties have been steadily marginalized in Russian politics since President Vladimir Putin first took office 20 years ago…

“Sergey Dik, a journalist working in [Deutsche Welle’s] Russian department, was briefly arrested… when he… was covering the protests on behalf of DW Russia… He immediately told the police officers that he is a journalist. They asked to see his ID, at which point Dik informed them that he had his passport as well as his foreign ministry press accreditation in his backpack. As he went to show his accreditation, the special forces offers told him that it was ‘some worthless document.’

“He was then taken to a police van, which transported him, along with 20 other detainees, to the ‘Marino’ police station in southeastern Moscow. A minor and another journalist were also among those who were detained… ‘It quickly became clear that the police were simply arresting everyone arbitrarily,’ Dik said. ‘They just come here, grab someone and lead or drag that person into the police vans — young men, women and also older people — and all without knowing whether these people are actually taking part in the protest,’ he said…

“After almost an hour and a half in the police van and the station, Dik was released.”

The Guardian added on July 27:

“Police also arrived at the homes of multiple opposition figures with search and arrest warrants, and called the editor-in-chief of the country’s leading independent television station in for questioning… Taken by surprise, authorities responded over the past week by launching a series of legal procedures against various opposition figures, alternating between the sinister and the absurd.

“Alexei Navalny, the highest profile opposition politician, was arrested outside his house earlier in the week as he stepped out to go jogging and buy his wife flowers for her birthday; he has been sentenced to 30 days in jail. Others received midnight knocks on the door from investigators, who demanded to search their properties and branded them suspects in the crime of ‘hindering the work of the electoral commission’…

“Sources told Russian media outlets that a department of the FSB security services, the successor of the KGB, is running the cases against opposition leaders… ‘This is the end of Russia’s 30-year experiment with elections,’ said Grigory Yavlinsky, a veteran Russian liberal politician… Yavlinsky, who came third in the 2000 presidential election in which Putin first won the presidency, said that ‘with each year the elections are less and less real, but this is really the end’…

“Now, authorities will… have to decide whether to step back or crack down, at a time when [former KGB intelligence officer and Russian spy VladimirPutin’s ratings are slipping and his ruling United Russia party is widely despised…”

The Sun added on July 27:

“Demonstrators decrying the leader’s grip on power were beaten and dragged away to cells as security forces used batons to storm the crowds… Amnesty International described the security force’s ‘military’ style tactics as reaching a ‘new low’…”

Historically, Russia has always been a dictatorship, and there is really no indication that this will change—most certainly not under Vladimir Putin. When the Russian government is challenged, those in power react with brutal force. 

Navalny Poisoned? 

Deutsche Welle wrote on July 29:

“Russian Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny’s personal doctor, Anastasiya Vasilyeva, said Monday that an unidentified ‘toxic agent’ may have caused his health to deteriorate while in police custody. Navalny was rushed to a Moscow hospital on Sunday but was since reported to be in ‘satisfactory condition’ and taken back to jail. ‘… he was in a life-threatening condition,’ she told reporters. ‘And now they are sending him back to the same place where that same toxic, chemical substance might be again… This was a chemical substance – even the doctors here have admitted that…’

“Navalny’s lawyer, Olga Mikhailova, supported that assumption, saying: ‘It is indeed poisoning.’”

It is not the first time that Vladimir Putin’s government has been accused of poisoning its opponents—and at least in some cases, overwhelming evidence points at the government’s guilt.

Atheistic China Persecutes Christians

CBN wrote on July 27:

“The Chinese government continues to tighten its grip on Christianity by actively discouraging young people to engage in things of faith. Under the last year’s new Regulations on Religious Affairs legislation, schoolchildren are even encouraged to report any family members who espouse Christian views… the new policy has created fierce rifts amongst families as children are encouraged to [question] and undermine the religious beliefs of those closest to them. In addition, the youngsters are fully aware that, if they report members of their family, it could result in their arrest and prosecution

“‘My teacher says that Christianity is an evil cult,’ one boy explained to his mother… ‘Before starting school, I told my child about God’s creation, and he believed it,’ she explained. ‘But after being taught at school, my child is like a different person. In atheistic China, these pure and innocent children have been taught to hate God.’…

“Another school screened a propaganda video in which Jesus-followers were depicted as big scary monsters. After the presentation was complete, a teacher warned that Christian relatives might ‘cast spells’ on the youngsters… students were advised to ‘supervise’ their parents to ensure that they don’t partake in any religious activities…”

Such as was done in Nazi Germany under Hitler. 

Chinese Forces Gather at Hong Kong Border 

news wrote on July 31:

“The White House is monitoring the sudden gathering of Chinese forces at the border with Hong Kong, in a worrying sign of escalation… following another night of unrest and clashes between protesters and police…

“Growing ranks of Hong Kong’s typically conservative and publicity-shy bureaucrats have begun an unprecedented online dissent campaign against the city’s pro-Beijing leaders… US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has urged China to ‘do the right thing’ by Hong Kong… China hit back immediately, with Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying blaming America for the protests. ‘It’s clear that Mr Pompeo has put himself in the wrong position and still regards himself as the head of the CIA,’ Ms Hua said.”

UN Anti-Israel Resolution 

JTA wrote on July 26:

“Norway and six EU countries voted at the United Nations in favor of two resolutions that singled out Israel for criticism as a violator of women’s and human rights. Israel was the only country named Tuesday as a violator or trouble spot by the 54-nation UN Economic and Social Council during the session…

“The council’s rotating president is currently the Norwegian UN ambassador. France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland, Luxembourg and Malta joined China, Russia, Iran and Venezuela and 29 other nations in supporting a resolution that says ‘that the Israeli occupation remains a major obstacle for Palestinian women and girls with regard to the fulfillment of their rights.’…

“Only Canada and the United States voted against the resolution. The United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Romania and Ukraine were among the nine nations that abstained.

“Nikki Haley, the previous US ambassador to the UN, tweeted on Thursday: ‘It amazes me how the U.N. condones votes like these. It is a total mockery of human rights to allow Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, and Yemen to name Israel as the world’s only violator of women’s rights…’”

Bild Online commented about the “scandalous” UN Resolution and Germany’s decision to abstain, asking Germany’s UN ambassador:

“How could Germany be silent, Herr UN-Ambassador? It is a new low point of the German conduct at the UN regarding Israel—a poor testimony for Germany’s UN Ambassador Christoph Heusgen… He was not even present during this farce, but sent a replacement…”

Even though some European countries and especially the German government with its controversial UN ambassador might give lip services for the support of Israel, their actions show quite consistently a totally different and disturbing picture of anti-Israeli politics. Ultimately, European countries will even intervene militarily in the Middle East and occupy Jerusalem, as the Bible clearly predicts.

“Top Rabbi in Israel: We Must Build the Third Temple”

Breaking Israel News wrote on July 29:

“The former Rabbi of the Old City of Jerusalem and one of the leading rabbis in Israel today said in an interview: ‘we must do everything in our power to build the Temple’.

“Rabbi Avigdor Nebenzahl is an Israeli rabbi and Posek (a legal scholar who determines the position of Halakha (Jewish law) in cases of law where previous authorities are inconclusive, or in those situations where no clear halakhic precedent exists). He is the head of the Yeshiva (seminary) of Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh, a faculty member at Yeshivat HaKotel, and Rabbi of the Ramban Synagogue. Nebenzahl used to serve as the chief rabbi of the Old City of Jerusalem. Today, the post was taken over by his son, Rabbi Chizkiyahu Nebenzahl…

“The rabbi emphasized that there has never been any sort of ruling from Chazal (Jewish sages of the Mishna) that states that the Jewish people should wait for it to fall from the sky contrary to what many ultra-orthodox Jews believe. One piece of evidence Rav Nebenzahl submits comes from Midrash Rabah of Parshat Toldot, saying: ‘When the Roman Empire gave the Jews permission to build the Temple, they built it. They didn’t wait for it to fall from Heaven’.

“The rabbi added that there is a mitzvah (commandment) to build the Temple – even if we can’t yet offer sacrifices. He added that questions surrounding the renewal of Temple sacrifices should not get in the way of the Third Temple being built…”

A Third Temple will be built soon.

New Dirty Allegations against Austria’s former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz

Kleine Zeitung wrote on July 27:

“The national election campaign has already reached an all-time low.  On the Internet, a new website with allegations against ÖVP chairman Sebastian Kurz has emerged. In it, the former Chancellor is accused of having been active in the 1990s as a child porn actor…

“This campaign ‘is becoming more and more the dirtiest battle there has ever been – and all with only one goal, namely, to damage Sebastian Kurz sustainably,’ ÖVP General Secretary Karl Nehammer said… Only a few days ago, Kurz was associated with rumors about drugs by the research institute ‘Zoom’, registered in Switzerland… Now it’s ‘one more step down’, says Nehammer.

“[Apart from the accusation of participation as a child porn actor in the 1990s,] there is also a mail circulating that accuses Kurz of sexual relationships with underage Syrian or Afghani [hustlers], Nehammer [reported]…

“As contact, a Dr. Siegfried Mayr is mentioned on the website… Mayr said Saturday afternoon that the site was authentic and the allegations against Kurz were substantiated by witnesses…

“Nehammer [stated:] ‘What is happening here in regard to allegations, rumors, slander and insults, is a systematic… filthy campaign against Sebastian Kurz… With Dirty Campaigning they want to permanently damage Kurz.’ The ÖVP Secretary General announced legal action against the partially unknown actors and has reportedly forwarded the ‘fake mail’ to data-forensic investigations to identify the authors…

“With similar words, Kurz responded himself Sunday on Facebook: ‘The last few days have highlighted the degree of horror [or gruesomeness] that this campaign will bring,’ Kurz writes… He believes that one wants to suppress his policy. The 2017 election campaign was apparently just a foretaste. ‘From the left and from the right, new innuendos, defamation and filth of the lowest kind are being disseminated on an almost daily basis.’ Kurz refers to fake e-mails… and then continues: ‘That’s not enough. Rumors of child pornography, drug abuse or corruption are being scattered around, leaving no stone unturned, saying “Something is going to stick”, in order to sabotage us and our country.’ In short, it is assumed that it is about ‘fighting by all means the change we stand for,’ including [fighting] all those who support this path of change.”

 Politics has always been a rotten and dirty business, but it seems now that there is no end to accusations and innuendos… and that is true around the world. The accused finds him- or herself always in the precarious situation as to whether to remain silent (which could be construed as an admission of guilt in the court of public opinion) or to speak out (which could be construed as a desperate attempt by the “guilty” accused to deny the “facts.” The nice-sounding concept of “presumption of innocence until proven guilty” is in many cases just a farce.) However, the truth, whatever it may be, will come to light and prevail in God’s due time. This proves once more that a true Christian cannot and must not have any active part in politics. In any event, we feel that Sebastian Kurz has still an important role to play on the world scene. 

The Dangers with Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri

The Daily Mail wrote on July 30:

Amazon staff review thousands of audio recordings made by Alexa each day… The clips were accidentally captured by the popular digital assistant — confusing the noises for the commands it should be listening to — and sent off for analysis. Staff at the tech firm review one in every five-hundred recordings made by Alexa, whether of deliberate commands to the assistant or accidental recordings… the revelation is a reminder of the extent of the personal information that the tech firm has on its users. Amazon has an English-speaking team monitoring thousands of Alexa recordings daily based in Bucharest, Romania… along with similar setups in Boston, Costa Rica and India…

“It is estimated that Amazon’s Echo and Echo dot smart speakers — on which Alexa operates — can be found in around 6.5 million homes in the UK alone. ‘All Amazon Alexa owners will likely be stunned by the news that Amazon employees can listen to intimate moments,’ Kaspersky principal security researcher David Emm told the MailOnline. ‘While digital assistants such as the Amazon Echo are supposed to be activated by a specific ‘wake-up’ word, time and time again recently these devices have hit the headlines for intruding on people’s privacy, so the question is, where does this end?’…

“On Twitter, various Alexa users report their smart speaker devices being accidentally activated by random sounds — or even to no apparent cause… consumers need to be made aware ‘that what goes on at home doesn’t necessarily stay at home.’ ‘It is an alarming wake-up call to owners of all digital assistants that the vendor has access to a huge volume of your personal information,’ he said. This information is of potential value not only to cyber-criminals who could conceivably gain access to the data, but advertisers as well…

“The Sun’s investigation comes after similar privacy issues were revealed with Apple’s equivalent digital assistant, Siri — which is so sensitive that even the sound of a zipper being pulled can set it off… There have been countless instances of recordings featuring private discussions between doctors and patients, business deals, criminal dealings, sexual encounters and so on… In particular, it has been suggested that Siri is especially disposed towards unintended activation on Apple Watch devices….”

Amazon’s and Apple’s conduct should not be ignored or glossed over…

Cheaters Linked to Professional Misconduct

The Independent wrote on July 31:

“… a new study suggests that marital infidelity and professional misconduct are linked…

“The study’s researchers said their investigation suggests a strong connection between people’s actions in their personal and professional lives…”

Earthquakes in Europe, Turkey, Japan and Indonesia

The Sun wrote on July 31:

“The island of Crete was hit by a 5.3 magnitude earthquake earlier this morning… Greece is a hotspot for earthquakes…

“While France has not been hit by strong earthquakes in recent history, the country is still affected by shakes, especially along western France… Just last month, a 4.9 magnitude earthquake hit France with tremors felt as far as Bordeaux and Normandy…

Spain does not have dangerously strong earthquakes although they are common in certain regions such as Costa Blanca. In March, holiday resorts in the area were hit by a magnitude 4 earthquake… Eastern and central Italy often experience earthquakes, with a 6.2 quake in 2016 killing more than 150 people…

Turkey has experienced some of the most deadly earthquakes in the world. In 1999, thousands of people were killed following a 7.6 magnitude earthquake.

“… the UK rarely experiences strong earthquakes – the most recent being a 3.3 magnitude quake in February this year. One of the largest earthquakes to hit the UK was in 1931, with a magnitude of 6.1.

“The countries with the most earthquakes are Japan and Indonesia – with the deadliest in 2004 on the island of Sumatra, triggering the Boxing Day tsunami.”

In addition, we will soon experience strong earthquakes in other places around the world, including in America and also in Italy and Israel.

America’s Recycling Crisis—Robots to the Rescue

CNBC wrote on July 27:

“The U.S. is facing a recycling crisis that is burying cities and towns in tens of millions of tons of garbage a day. The problem began last year when China, the world’s largest recyclable processor, stopped accepting most American scrap plastic and cardboard due to contamination problems, and a glut of plastics overwhelming its own processing facilities. Historically, China recycled the bulk of U.S. waste.

“Contamination in the U.S. is high… The situation is dire for many local economies as recycling costs skyrocket. It’s forced many cities and some small communities to stop recycling all together. [Others threaten to charge fees for recycling, which would most certainly not help the situation.] Now more waste is ending up in landfills and incinerators.

“To tackle this environmental catastrophe, U.S. companies and researchers are developing AI-assisted robotic technology that can work with humans in processing plants and improve quality control… Sorting trash is a dirty and dangerous job. Recycling workers are more than twice as likely as other workers to be injured on the job… The profession also has high fatality rates.

“The way the robots work is simple. Guided by cameras and computer systems trained to recognize specific objects, the robots’ arms glide over moving conveyor belts until they reach their target. Oversized tongs or fingers with sensors that are attached to the arms snag cans, glass, plastic containers, and other recyclable items out of the rubbish and place them into nearby bins.

“Denver-based AMP Robotics… has developed software… so robots can recognize different colors, textures, shapes, sizes and patterns to identify material characteristics so they can sort waste. The robots are being installed at the Single Stream Recyclers plant in Sarasota, Florida and they will be able to pick 70 to 80 items a minute, twice as fast as humanly possible and with greater accuracy…”

Amazing what the human mind can do. This would be actually good news for a change… if it works.

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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