This Week in the News

Enduring Anti-Americanism in Germany

The Associated Press wrote on May 7:

“President Barack Obama is aiming to show unity with Western allies on global challenges during an overnight trip to Germany, especially Chancellor Angela Merkel amid enduring anti-Americanism in her country over U.S. spying programs…

“The spying controversy has grown in recent weeks amid reports that Germany’s own Federal Intelligence Agency, better known by its German acronym BND, may have helped the U.S. spy on European companies and officials as long ago as 2008… ‘While we tend to view a lot of the impact of the NSA revelations in Europe as subsided, they have not subsided in Germany,’ said Heather Conley, director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. ‘This issue is being used in multiple ways to increase, I think, anti-Americanism in Germany and to weaken the chancellor.’…

“Obama said there ‘was no doubt’ the spying revelations damaged impressions of the United States in Germany and that he’s been trying to restore confidence… Julianne Smith, a former Obama White House official who is a senior fellow at the Center for New American Security, said part of the disillusionment in Germany and Europe more broadly comes from their sky-high expectations of Obama when he came to office…”

Ukraine About to Explode

Deutsche Welle wrote on June 7:

“The situation in Ukraine is about to escalate once again… In recent weeks, we were tempted to think, to some extent, that the situation in eastern Ukraine was about to calm down… Now, the period of treacherous calm is over.

“Using mortars and tanks, Russia-backed combatants of the so-called ‘people’s republics’ launched a massive military attack  from Donetsk along a major road stretching to the west. This onslaught could pave the way for a new large-scale attack, which people in the region have been fearing for a long time.

“As yet, no one has come forward to declare that the Minsk agreement, negotiated four months ago in the Belarusian capital, has failed. Instead, there is talk of a ‘setback’ and a ‘violation of the agreement.’ European politicians are voicing their concern and warning of a new spiral of violence. They have made a habit of that since the beginning of the conflict – always, it seems, simultaneously viewing the situation through rose-tinted glasses. Can the Minsk agreement work at all? Is a peace plan realistic if just one of the parties involved shows no commitment at all with respect to the objectives agreed upon?…

“To this day, Russia has denied involvement in the war. In fact, however, there was a Russian invasion of Ukraine. Soldiers from Russia were captured there; many have even died in Ukraine. The issue is controversial to such an extent that, a short while ago, a new law was passed in Russia according to which any reporting on the circumstances leading to the death of an army member is forbidden: a measure adopted to ensure secrecy, as if Russia were involved in a war.

“There are a number of indications that a large-scale attack is being prepared in Ukraine. In that case, the Minsk agreement would definitely be history… There is no indication that Russia – or the separatists – has renounced the path of war…”

Italy’s Ties and “Friendship” With Russia

Deutsche Welle wrote on June 10:

“Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi… spoke of ‘traditional Italian-Russian friendship’ while meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, at the beginning of [the] Kremlin chief’s diplomatic visit to Italy and the Vatican… The Italian prime minister, however, showed no intention of breaking ranks with other Western powers, only days after G7 countries [excluded Putin from their meeting and] reaffirmed sanctions against Moscow at a summit in Germany.

Despite the G7 snub, the Kremlin still enjoys better relations with Rome than with most EU countries; Italy is Russia’s third-biggest trading partner after China and Germany, with deals between the two countries topping 30 billion euros ($33.9 billion) last year… The EU is due to decide in two weeks whether economic sanctions over Russian annexation of Crimea will stay in place…

After meeting Renzi, the Russian president is to meet Pope Francis… On Wednesday, The United States urged the Vatican to take a tougher stance on Russia… Putin is also expected to meet long-time Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi, who is a personal friend of the Russian president.”

Everybody is involved in politics and “self-serving” economic interests, which means, that nothing good will come out of these talks. And that Putin and Berlusconi are personal friends does not speak for either one of them.

NATO Unwilling to Defend Russia’s Neighbors Against Russian Aggression?

The Washington Post wrote on June 10:

“After more than a year of war in Ukraine, Western European citizens are extremely wary of using military force to defend NATO allies from Russia, according to a wide-ranging opinion poll released Wednesday. The findings highlight fears among Russia’s NATO neighbors that the Western defense alliance may not be ready if put to the test.

“Fewer than half of those surveyed in Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Spain supported using military force to defend NATO allies if Russia entered a serious military conflict with one of them… The results came at a time of the worst tensions between Russia and the West since the Cold War…

“The NATO charter requires that member nations defend one another if one comes under attack. But the former Eastern bloc countries that joined the alliance in 2004 have long feared that their partners may not come to their aid…

“The three Baltic countries — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — as well as Poland have increased their defense spending since the conflict started in Ukraine…

“[The] United States was the most open to backing its allies if one was attacked. Of the Americans questioned, 56 percent were in favor of using military force and 37 percent were against. Germany, which has taken the lead European role in negotiations with Russia, was the most skeptical of a military response, with 38 percent in favor and 58 percent opposed…”

The Local added on June 10:

“The survey also shows a significant drop in [German] enthusiasm for Nato. Whereas in 2009 73 percent of Germans said they had a favourable opinion of the military alliance, this number has dropped to 55 percent in 2015. In no other Nato country did the survey find such drop in trust in the alliance.

“Germans are also fairly split over whom they attribute blame to for the Ukraine crisis. 29 percent say that Russia is to blame while 25 percent say that the pro-Russian separatists are responsible. 12 percent meanwhile say that the west is responsible.

“A large majority of Germans are in favour of economic support to the Ukrainian government (71 percent) although far fewer support delivering weapons to Kiev (19 percent.) A majority of Germans also reject both Nato membership and EU membership for Ukraine… There were also significant differences in attitudes between east and west Germany in evidence. While 19 percent of west Germans have a positive opinion of Vladimir Putin this number rises to 40 percent for east Germans.”

The Pope in Bosnia… Speaks of World War III

AFP wrote on June 6

“Pope Francis on Saturday bemoaned the ‘atmosphere of war’ haunting the world as he urged the people of war-scarred Sarajevo to provide an example of how different cultures and religions can co-exist peacefully… Many conflicts across the planet amount to ‘a kind of third world war being fought piecemeal and, in the context of global communications, we sense an atmosphere of war,’ the pontiff said in a mass at the stadium during a one-day visit to the Bosnian capital… ‘But war means children, women and the elderly in refugee camps, it means forced displacement, destroyed houses, streets and factories: above all countless shattered lives…

“The pontiff had earlier referred to Sarajevo, with its synagogues, churches and mosques, as a ‘European Jerusalem’, a crossroads of cultures, nations and religions…In a reference to the legacy of the war, which left Sarajevo in ruins and Bosnia permanently divided along ethnic lines, he urged the country’s Muslim, Serb and Croat communities to reach out to each other at every level… Later, at a meeting with Catholic, Muslim, Jewish and Orthodox religious figures, he said Sarajevo could reclaim its former status as a beacon of multiculturalism…

“Despite a show of unity to welcome the pope, it was not hard to find reminders on Saturday of how fragile Bosnia’s unity is. It was noticeable that there were far more red and white Croatian flags being waved than Bosnia’s blue and yellow ones. The national anthem played for Francis on his arrival remains without words because the three communities have been unable to agree [on] a common text…

“The 1992-95 Bosnian war left nearly 100,000 people dead and resulted in half the population, some two million people, being forced to leave their homes, many of them never to return. More than a third of Bosnia’s pre-war ethnic Croat population have left the country which is now divided in two between a Bosnian Serb republic and a Croat-Muslim federation… Around 40 percent of the population of Bosnia is of Islamic heritage, just over 30 percent are from the Serbian Orthodox tradition and around one in 10, almost uniquely Croats, describe themselves as Catholics.”

This area, formerly known as Yugoslavia, has been a powder keg for many decades and even centuries, and it was here where World War I started.

 Coming – A Shiite-Sunni War?

McClatchy Newspapers wrote on June 10:

The Middle East crisis that peaked one year ago Wednesday when the Islamic State captured Mosul may result in the breakup of Iraq and an indefinite continuation of a war in Syria that’s already out of control… Yet still worse things could happen. ‘The conditions are very much like 1914,’ says Michael Stephens of the Royal United Service Institute in London. ‘All it will take is one little spark, and Iran and Saudi Arabia will go at each other, believing they are fighting a defensive war.’  Hiwa Osman, an Iraqi Kurdish commentator, was even more blunt: ‘The whole region is braced for the big war, the war that has not yet happened, the Shiite-Sunni war.’

“U.S. and foreign experts say the U.S still has not developed a strategy for dealing with the Sunni extremists who now hold more territory [in] Iraq and Syria than one year ago… The experts criticize America’s detachment from the four wars now under way in the region. And they say the Obama administration is banking on Iran to stabilize the region, a very dubious course. ‘We really don’t have a strategy at all. We’re basically playing this day by day,’ Robert Gates, a former secretary of defense, told MSNBC last month.

“The one conflict where the U.S. has poured money, weapons and military advisers is Iraq, but the outlook after the Sunni city of Ramadi fell to the Sunni extremists is for a long, drawn-out conflict. John Allen, the former retired Marine Corps general who serves as U.S. envoy to the global coalition fighting the Islamic State… said an Iraqi civil war ‘is almost unavoidable’…

“Everyone agrees that the international system is very different from 1914, when the two competing European alliances went to war. But there are similarities. That was ‘a crisis nobody wanted to have. When it came, it would be over in a few months’ time. It would end all wars. Everybody knows what happened,’ said Thorbjorn Jagland, a Norwegian politician and secretary general of the Council of Europe, a human rights watchdog body. ‘I don’t want to call the leaders today sleepwalkers, but maybe they have entered into a situation that nobody intended or wanted,’ he said.

“‘There are too many actors and too many unknowns. Everyone seems to be stuck in his own way,’ said Altay Cengizer, director of policy planning at the Turkish Foreign Ministry. He warned of the dangers of a prolonged crisis. ‘We are playing with fire,’ he said. ‘You cannot all day long play with fire. A fire will start.’”

More Bad News—ISIS Ready to Develop a Devastating Dirty Bomb?

The Independent wrote on June 10:

The Isis militant group has seized enough radioactive material from government facilities to suggest it has the capacity to build a large and devastating ‘dirty’ bomb…  According to the Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop, Nato has expressed deep concerns about the materials seized by Isis from research centres and hospitals that would normally only be available to governments… The threat of Isis’s radioactive and biological weapons stockpile was so severe that the Australia Group, a 40-nation bloc dedicated to ending the use of chemical weapons, held a session on the subject at its summit in Perth last week… Ms Bishop spoke at the Australia Group meeting about fears Isis was weaponising poisonous gases such as chlorine…

“The growing concerns about Isis’s development of weapons of mass destruction come at a time when experts fear the militant group will be ‘more active than ever’ to mark the start of Ramadan and the one-year anniversary of its declaration of a ‘caliphate’. Isis said it was changing its name to ‘Islamic state’ following the first public address by its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Mosul on 29 June last year, and the US-based Institute for the Study of War has noted that the group usually reserves its major operations to coincide with the Islamic holy month.”

Turkish President Erdogan Suffers Major Setback

The Associated Press reported on June 7:

“In a stunning rebuke of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ambitions to expand his powers, Turkish voters stripped his party of its simple majority in parliament, preliminary election results showed Sunday. With 99.9 percent of the vote counted, Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party, the AKP, had the support of around 41% of voters… According to projections, that would give it some 258 seats — 18 below the minimum needed to keep its majority.

“The unexpected setback for AKP likely puts an end, for the time being, to Erdogan’s hopes of passing constitutional changes that would have greatly boosted the powers of his office. Instead, he faces struggles to retain his pre-eminent place in Turkish politics without the obvious levers to steer the government through his party in parliament.

“The result is also a bitter blow to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, whose political prospects are uncertain after leading his party to such a disappointing result. AKP will now have to seek a coalition partner to stay in power, with the nationalist MHP the most likely candidate…

“The biggest setback for AKP came with the rise of the main pro-Kurdish party, HDP, which for the first time easily cleared the threshold of 10% for representation as a party in the parliament. The preliminary results put its tally at almost 13%…

“The vote came amid high tensions after bombings Friday during a HDP rally killed 2 people and wounded scores…”

AFP added on June 7:

“Turkey’s Islamic-rooted ruling party (AKP) lost its parliamentary majority in Sunday’s legislative elections… [This] means the AKP will need to form a coalition for the first time since coming to power in 2002…

“The result was a triumph for the HDP [a party dominated by ethnic Kurds], which in the campaign had sought to present itself as a genuinely Turkish party and reach out to voters beyond its main Kurdish support base to secular Turks, women and gays. It was also a personal victory for the party’s charismatic leader Selahattin Demirtas, dubbed the ‘Kurdish Obama’… He said there would be no coalition with the AKP and instead the HDP would make a ‘strong and honest opposition’.”

The Washington Post added on June 7:

“It was a remarkable achievement for a party [HDP] that was formed less than three years ago and has direct ties to the violent three-decade Kurdish separatist insurgency in Turkey’s southeast. The war between the militant Kurd­istan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and the Turkish state has claimed 40,000 lives since it first flared in the early 1980s… Among the HDP’s parliamentarians are relatives of jailed or slain leaders of the PKK, an organization still considered a terrorist group by Washington and An­kara. Demirtas, the HDP’s charismatic icon, is believed to have a brother among the guerrillas.

“For decades, Kurdish identity was suppressed by the Turkish state. Ironically, it was under Erdogan and the AKP that Kurds began to experience more cultural rights, including the freedom to speak and write in their own language.”

The EUObserver wrote on June 9:

“Turkey faced a near market crash on Monday (8 June) after ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) failed to win a majority in Sunday’s general election, raising fears about the country’s political stability… Markets reacted negatively to the [election’s] results that left president [Erdogan’s] AKP with no majority for the first time since 2002 and no obvious coalition partner… Prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who is due to meet Erdogan on Tuesday, will have forty-five days to form a government and new elections are not ruled out.

“The period could create instability for [a] Turkish economy that benefited much from Erdogan’s rule and AKP links with business… The political uncertainties could also weigh on relations with the EU, Turkey’s top import and export partner. In a statement Monday, EU chief diplomat Federica Mogherini and enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn said that ‘the coming period offers opportunities for further strengthening the EU-Turkey relationship’…”

The Battle for Greece

Reuters wrote on June 10:

“Greece and its international lenders moved closer to the brink on Wednesday… Athens said it was waiting for the creditors to respond to ideas it put forward on Monday. Euro zone officials said the proposals were inadequate to plug holes in the Greek budget and also dodged key reforms to make the economy more competitive…

“Athens is likely to default on a 1.6 billion euro repayment due to the International Monetary Fund at the end of June unless it receives fresh funds from its frozen bailout or the European Central Bank lets it sell more short-term debt to Greek banks. That will only happen if the two sides can agree in the coming days on a cash-for-reform deal that has been the focus of acrimonious negotiations for the last four months.

“A default could lead to the imposition of capital controls and possibly put Greece on a path to becoming the first country to leave the 19-nation single currency area, undermining the euro’s avowed irreversibility… The European Commission said its chief, Jean-Claude Juncker, who accused Tsipras on Sunday of misrepresenting the creditors’ proposals and misleading his parliament, had no plans as yet to meet the Greek premier…

“Greece appears to be insisting it will not sign any deal unless it contains a commitment to official debt relief, while the creditors say they will only start discussing debt rescheduling once a deal is signed and implemented… ‘If Greece does exit then it is possible that all hell breaks loose and that risk assets and peripheral government bonds suffer,’ said Gary Jenkins, chief credit strategist at LNG Capital. ‘However the least likely outcome is that Greece leaves and that the Eurozone takes no measures to stop speculation that it might fall apart.’”

This will remain to be seen. Earlier this week, Bild Online reported that Angela Merkel was apparently willing to come once again to the rescue of Greece, but many members of the coalition parties are allegedly strongly against further monetary help (The German population is overwhelmingly against it). On the other hand, politicians were strongly against monetary help for Greece several times before, and still finally agreed to it on several occasions.

Deutsche Welle reported on June 11 that the “International Monetary Fund has walked out on talks with Greece on Wednesday, dashing hopes of a compromise in ongoing debt negotiations.” Bild Online added on June 11 that a meeting on Wednesday night and Thursday morning between Angela Merkel (60), Alexis Tsipras (40) und François Hollande (60)failed to produce any results and that, as a consequence, Angela Merkel is now also preparing for a “Grexit.” A final meeting is scheduled for next Thursday.

Cameron Warned that 100 Conservative MPs May Vote for Brexit

The Independent wrote on Monday 8:

“David Cameron has been warned that 100 Conservative MPs will vote for Britain to leave the European Union unless he wins the reforms they want when he renegotiates new membership terms. The Prime Minister’s post-election honeymoon with his own MPs ended as Eurosceptic Tories set out demands that he has little chance of securing. They include reforms to the EU’s freedom of movement rules and allowing the UK Parliament to veto EU laws.

“Mr Cameron made clear that Conservative ministers would have to resign if they failed to back his position in the referendum. Speaking at the start of the G7 summit in Germany, he said he expected all Tory ministers to accept the deal he negotiates and that they would have to leave the Government if they decide to support a No campaign…

“But in a move likely to infuriate Tory rebels, Mr Cameron suggested he might be prepared to accept a renegotiation deal that did not include treaty change as long as it could not be challenged by European courts… Treaty change is one of the key demands of Conservatives for Britain…

“Mr Cameron said he could see no reason why the referendum debate could not be held on the same day as other UK elections – despite a call by the Electoral Commission for it to be held on a separate date. That means the plebiscite could be held next May, when there are elections for local authorities, the Scottish Parliament and Welsh assembly and Mayor of London…

“Speaking ahead of a meeting with Mr Cameron, President Obama re-iterated his desire for Britain to remain as a member of the EU… He added: ‘We have no closer partner around the world on a whole host of issues.’”

The Daily Express added on June 8:

“Mr Cameron spoke out at Schloss Elmau in Bavaria, after a new Conservatives for Britain group was announced yesterday… More than 50 MPs are reported to have signed up to the group [this number is expected to grow to 100 and beyond], which will formally support the Prime Minister’s renegotiation drive but could lead the campaign for a British exit if the members are unimpressed with the terms of the deal…

“Tory MP Steve Baker, who is chairing Conservatives for Britain, said: ‘We wish David Cameron every success but, unless senior EU officials awake to the possibility that one of the largest EU members is serious about a fundamental change in our relationship, our recommendation to British voters seems likely to be: Exit.’

“The Daily Express has led the anti EU debate, helping to force Mr Cameron into a referendum.”

David Cameron’s undefined and shifting goals regarding his stance on Britain’s membership in the EU may lead to undesired consequences—either way.

“In Britain, No One Tells the Truth About Serious Stuff!”

Breitbart wrote on June 7:

“In Britain, no one tells the truth about really serious stuff. It’s not in the national character. So reporters had to do some maths this week to work out that, according to official statistics, 27 per cent of all deaths in England and Wales are abortions…

“According to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there were 506,790 recorded deaths in England and Wales in 2013 – the most recent year for which figures are available. These, however, do not include abortions. Separate figures, also compiled by the ONS, reveal that a total of 185,331 abortions took place in England and Wales in the same year.

“Adding the total number of unborn babies who died as a result of abortion in 2013 to the total number of recorded deaths in England and Wales brings the overall death total to 692,121. This means that 26.78 per cent of the deaths were caused by abortion. The figure has remained relatively stable for the past few years, with abortions accounting for 27.76 per cent of deaths in 2010, 28.17 per cent in 2011 and 27.05 per cent in 2012.

“The current consensus, which appears to be that a woman’s body is hers to do with as she pleases until the little brat pops out, strikes me as utterly sociopathic and wrong. When two lives are at stake, surely a mother has a moral duty to consider the well-being of her unborn baby…

“I instinctively recoil from abortion as one of the great horrors of civilisation… it would be nice to have the conversation… without being told that men have no right to express an opinion on the subject, or that women must simply be left to murder as many of their children as they please, without care or consequence, and that neither society nor the law ought to encourage them to think it through.

“You rarely see anyone in Britain stating the pro-life position with any ferocity. It’s normally done apologetically in newspaper columns and in Catholic magazines… I wonder why that is. Is the reason we don’t even talk about this subject that there’s no strong religious conservatism in our public life? Because there really isn’t… The Catholic Church is almost as bad as the Church of England when it comes to speaking plainly about God. Our bishops would much rather bleat on about climate change — driving away thousands of young people, who come to the church seeking spiritual enlightenment, not green propaganda.

“Our religious leaders are spineless…”

The above-quoted comments ring so true… sadly!

Pope Francis: “Marriage Under Attack from ‘Demonic Gender Ideology’”

Breitbart wrote on June 9:

“Following the recent Irish referendum that recognized same-sex marriage, Pope Francis insisted again on Monday that the ‘complementarity of man and woman’ is essential to marriage, but is under attack from ‘so-called gender ideology, in the name of a freer and fairer society.’ The Pope has repeatedly warned his audiences of the dangers of an ideology of gender that seeks to undermine the proper understanding of marriage as well as human sexuality…

“Noting that the family is under attack from a series of social ills, the Pope underscored ‘the value and beauty’ of marriage, founded on ‘the complementarity of man and woman,’ which he called ‘the crown of God’s creation.’…

“This is not the first time the Pope has sounded the alarm on the dangers of gender politics. Francis has used the strongest language imaginable, calling modern gender ideology ‘demonic,’ and comparing gender theory with ‘the educational policies of Hitler.’ The Pope has also said that gender theory fails to recognize ‘the order of creation.’… Basing himself on Biblical theology, the Pope has declared that God creates people as ‘male and female,’ rather than an ever expanding spectrum of contrived pseudo-sexual genders.”

Transgender Children’s Books Gain Popularity, Indoctrination Rises”

Newsmax reported on June 7:

“As transgender issues become more mainstream, so have books about the subject for children…

“The books include not only memoirs, but science fiction and young adult romance, the Times notes. And though some are printed by publishers that focus on gay and lesbian themes, mainstream publishers such as Scholastic Press and Disney Hyperion are getting on board. ‘As our culture is starting to acknowledge transgender people and acknowledge that they are part of the fabric of who we are, literature is reflecting that,’ Scholastic Press’ David Levithan told the Times.

“But not everyone is happy… Scholastic’s upcoming ‘George,’ has faced resistance from some teachers and librarians who say third- and fourth-graders may not be ready for the transgender discussion. But the publisher has actually increased its first printing from 35,000 to 50,000 copies based on strong pre-orders.”

This is abominable!

Jenner Welcome in Republican Party

Fox News reported on June 7:

“Republican presidential contender Lindsey Graham says his party has room for transgendered people like Caitlyn Jenner. The South Carolina senator calls himself a ‘traditional marriage kind of guy.’ But he says he ‘can only imagine the torment that Bruce Jenner went through’ before becoming a transgendered woman. He hopes that, now, she’s ‘found peace.’

“The underdog Republican candidate is campaigning on the need to counter threats from terrorists and Islamic State militants. He shares the opposition to same-sex marriage expressed by his rivals but says the Supreme Court is settling that question. Graham says if Jenner wants to be a Republican, she’s welcome. And he says if she wants a safe country and a strong economy, she should vote for him… Jenner has suggested earlier that he is a Republican.”

Lindsey Graham’s controversial statements are in total opposition to conservative commentators, such as radio host Rush Limbaugh, who warned Republicans not to go that route.

Will Trump Really Run This Time?

The News & Observer reported on June 7:

“Billionaire businessman Donald Trump all but confirmed he’ll run for the Republican presidential nomination during a stop Saturday at the N.C. GOP convention. Trump says he’ll make his formal announcement on June 16. ‘I think a lot of people are going to be very happy’ with the decision, Trump told The News & Observer before a sold-out speech Saturday night. ‘They’re tired of watching America go down. … It’s about making America great again. I can do it, and nobody else can do it.’…

“Trump referred to the constantly growing field of Republican candidates as ‘clowns’… [He specifically singled out Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio in this context.]

“Addressing criticism that he lacks the political experience to be president, Trump said he’d be strong on foreign policy. ‘I’ve made a lot of money beating China and other countries,’ he said. ‘I only have experience beating other countries. Is that good experience?’

“Trump offered an alternative plan for the international trade negotiations under way. He said Ford and other companies looking to move manufacturing to Mexico or overseas should face a 35 percent tax when they ship the goods back to the U.S…

“Trump wasn’t modest about his credentials. ‘I would be the greatest jobs president that God ever created,’ he said. ‘I would be strongest by far on security, because I’m very big into the military, very big into the vets.’ He said he knows how to beat the Islamic State militants and criticized the Obama administration’s approach… Trump called President Barack Obama ‘most likely incompetent.’ He questioned why Secretary of State John Kerry bicycles at age 71… And he said Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign is ‘unusual’ because she avoids media questions…”

Donald Trump has been announcing time and time again that he was contemplating running for the US Presidency… but he never did. Will it be different this time around?

America’s Spying Program… Back from the Dead?

The Guardian wrote on June 9:

“The Obama administration has asked a secret surveillance court to ignore a federal court that found bulk surveillance illegal and to once again grant the National Security Agency the power to collect the phone records of millions of Americans for six months.

“The legal request, filed nearly four hours after Barack Obama vowed to sign a new law banning precisely the bulk collection he asks the secret court to approve, also suggests that the administration may not necessarily comply with any potential court order demanding that the collection stop…

“Justice Department national security chief John A Carlin cited a six-month transition period provided in the USA Freedom Act – passed by the Senate last week to ban the bulk collection – as a reason to permit an ‘orderly transition’ of the NSA’s domestic dragnet. Carlin did not address whether the transition clause of the Freedom Act still applies now that a congressional deadlock meant the program shut down on 31 May.

“But Carlin asked the Fisa court to set aside a landmark declaration by the second circuit court of appeals. Decided on 7 May, the appeals court ruled that the government had erroneously interpreted the Patriot Act’s authorization of data collection as ‘relevant’ to an ongoing investigation to permit bulk collection. Carlin, in his filing, wrote that the Patriot Act provision remained ‘in effect’ during the transition period…

“On Friday, the conservative group FreedomWorks filed a rare motion before the Fisa court, asking it to reject the government’s surveillance request as a violation of the fourth amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. Fisa court judge Michael Moseman gave the justice department until this coming Friday to respond – and explicitly barred the government from arguing that FreedomWorks lacks the standing to petition the secret court. ‘The only federal appeals court to have considered this surveillance concluded, after very careful analysis, that it’s unlawful. It’s disturbing and disappointing that the government is proposing to continue it,’ said Jaffer, of the ACLU.”

But bad habits seldom die quickly…

The Danger of Deadly Mosquitoes in Europe

The Austrian edition of The Local wrote on June 10:

“The summer may bring hot sunny days and long evenings, but it also brings mosquitoes and this year experts are warning people to be on guard against ‘exotic’ species which bite during the day. ‘Unfortunately in the last two or three years we have noticed more exotic mosquito types in Austria – such as the Asian tiger mosquito – which are active during the day,’ Franz Allerberger, from the Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES), told the ORF. He says the invasive Asian mosquitoes have already been spotted in Graz, and are likely to come to the Vienna area in the next year or two.

“The Asian tiger mosquito has become more common in central Europe, due to the global transport of goods and increasing international travel. It doesn’t need wetlands to breed and can survive colder winters. Researcher Bernhard Seidel, who first discovered the species in Austria in 2011, says that they came to Austria via Slovenia and Switzerland. They tend to colonise urbanised areas and will breed around houses and gardens in small containers such as bird baths, containers, and old tires. There are concerns that the mosquitoes, which are vicious biters, could transmit diseases such as West Nile virus, as well as new, emerging diseases like dengue fever and chikungunya – both of which can be deadly.

“Allerberger said the common house mosquito is more likely to breed after flooding, and the easiest way to eliminate them is to empty water that collects in buckets, cans, jars, barrels, boats, discarded tires, clogged roof gutters, paddling pools or pool covers and any artificially created collection of water. Cutting down weeds, trimming and maintaining shrubs and grass also helps reduce adult mosquito populations that hide in vegetation.

“In 2011 the common house mosquito was found to be carrying West Nile virus in Lower Austria, and in 2014 mosquitoes in Vienna were also found to be carriers of the disease… there is no vaccination for it.

“Experts recommend using mosquito nets, fly screens, and wearing light coloured, loose fitting clothing with long sleeves and legs to prevent bites. Mosquito repellent sprays contain chemicals which deter the mosquito from biting, but should not be used on small children or babies. Mosquito nets are recommended as the best way to protect babies in prams.”

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