This Week in the News

Fully Vaccinated US Tourists Allowed to Visit Europe this Summer?

The Associated Press wrote on April 26:

“The European Union is finalizing plans to allow tourists from the United States to travel to the 27-nation bloc this summer, officials said Monday… The commission didn’t say when exactly tourists will be allowed back inside the bloc, and if a reciprocal approach will apply to European tourists willing to travel to the U.S…

“On Sunday, The New York Times published an interview with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, reporting that fully vaccinated Americans would be able to visit EU countries this summer since all coronavirus vaccines currently used in the U.S. have also been approved by the EU’s drug regulator. But the report didn’t mention whether she was asked about whether Americans could also provide a negative PCR test or evidence of recovering from COVID-19… [She said that the] ‘27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by EMA.’…

“The European Union is putting the finishing touches to a system of certificates that would allow EU residents to travel freely across the region by the summer as long as they have been vaccinated, tested negative for COVID-19 or recovered from the disease. Under the plan discussed with their U.S. counterparts, American tourists could be included in the program… But EU member states will have the final say on whether to implement the guidelines. The commission said other third countries have made similar requests, but didn’t name them. Asked whether negotiations with the United Kingdom were ongoing, European Commission spokesman Christian Wigand said ‘no contact to this end’ has been made.

“Travel to the EU is currently extremely limited except for a handful of countries with low infection rates including Australia and New Zealand. But Greece, which is heavily reliant on tourism, has already lifted quarantine restrictions for the U.S., Britain, the United Arab Emirates, Serbia, Israel, and non-EU members Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland that are part of a European travel pact. Travelers from those countries will no longer be subject to a seven-day quarantine requirement if they hold a vaccination certificate or negative PCR test….”

Deutsche Welle added on April 26:

“Trump attempted to loosen travel restrictions on European travelers shortly before he left office in January, but this was promptly reversed by the President Joe Biden’s administration later that month. The US has yet to announce plans on allowing travel from the EU.”

npr wrote on April 26:

“It is not yet clear when the EU will open up — von der Leyen did not provide a specific timeline, and individual EU member states are permitted to enforce stricter rules than the bloc as a whole. It is also unclear how countries will determine if travelers have been fully vaccinated, but nations and air carriers in Europe have been discussing the use of vaccine passports or vaccine certificates for months…

“Even as the EU is sending positive signals to American travelers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning them not to travel to much of Europe, at least not yet. The CDC website warns Americans not to go [to] Greece, Italy, Spain or even the United Kingdom…”

Bloomberg added on April 26:

“The United States was ‘on track’ and making ‘huge progress’ with its campaign to reach so-called herd immunity, or the vaccination of 70% of adults, by mid-June, New York Times said citing Ursula von der Leyen…”

Talks are cheap. Let’s see what actions will follow, if any. That 70% of American adults will be vaccinated by mid-June is highly doubtful in light of the strong opposition of many Americans to Coronavirus vaccinations. But the increased governmental pressure to get vaccinated is growing everywhere.

The LA Times Newsletter wrote on April 24:

“[California’s] Health officials say they have no plans to institute vaccination ‘passports.’ But new reopening rules incentivize businesses to demand such proof. Meanwhile, the University of California and California State University intend to require vaccinations.”

More and More Shots Needed?

The Associated Press wrote on April 28:

“Europe can achieve herd immunity against the coronavirus within the next four months, the head of German pharmaceutical company BioNTech, which developed the first widely approved COVID-19 vaccine with U.S. partner Pfizer, said… Ugur Sahin, BioNTech’s chief executive, [said:] ‘… we need a third shot to get the vaccine protection back up to almost 100% again…’ Vaccine recipients currently receive a second dose three weeks after their first shot, although some countries have longer intervals. Sahin suggested the third should be administered nine to 12 months after the first shot. ‘And then I expect it will probably be necessary to get another booster every year or perhaps every 18 months,’ he said.

“Concerns have been raised that existing vaccines might be less effective against new variants of the virus now emerging in different parts of the world… Sahin said the vaccine’s effectiveness… was still being investigated.”

“Germany’s Fauci”, Christian Drosten, said, according to Focus, dated April 28, that in the autumn or winter, a new modified shot against the coronavirus might have to be administered because those who have been vaccinated might still pass on the virus to others.

And now… Anti-Coronavirus Lockdown Protest Movement under Observation

Deutsche Welle wrote on April 28:

“German intelligence chiefs have placed parts of the anti-coronavirus lockdown protest movement under observation… Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV)… said elements of the so-called Querdenker (lateral thinking) group  were of particular concern because they questioned the legitimacy of the state…

“The movement does not fall into pre-existing categories of concern — such as far-right, far-left, or Islamist — but a new category, the BfV said. For this reason, the German Interior Ministry said it had created a new category of ‘delegitimization of the state where relevant to constitutional protection.’”

Germany’s actions become more troublesome and dangerous by the week…

Actors Oppose Germany’s Coronavirus Restrictions

The Guardian wrote on April 26:

“… a series of satirical videos making fun of coronavirus restrictions, recorded by TV actors associated with the crime drama (“Tatort”), has plunged lockdown-fatigued Germany into a bitter culture war. A website called #allesdichtmachen (“close it all down”), was launched on Thursday night, featuring 53 to-camera clips in which high-profile actors sarcastically boast of the lengths they have gone to restrict their social contacts and appeal on the government to lock down the country even harder… The videos… have drawn a ferocious backlash not least from other actors…

“Jan Josef Liefers… used his video to sarcastically praise the media for uncritically supporting the government’s measures and shutting out scientists who didn’t toe its line… Twenty actors have withdrawn their videos from the campaign’s website after the backlash…

“The tabloid Bild, the country’s bestselling newspaper, and its sister broadsheet Die Welt, have become increasingly vocal in their criticism of the nationwide ‘emergency brake’ rules that came into effect this weekend and shown… sympathy for the actors’ campaign.

“At the start of the pandemic Germany had high levels of compliance with social distancing measures… Even when the government agreed on a second lockdown in the winter, 67% of those surveyed in polls showed their approval… At the start of April, 48%… wanted restrictions to go further, while only 24% thought they went too far.”

This is really a sad commentary on German sheep mentality. Disappointing that 20 actors withdrew their videos, for whatever reasons. If one has a conviction, one has to follow it, no matter the backlash and no matter from where support or criticism are coming.

German Green Party for EU Army

Express wrote on April 26:

“The German Green Party’s candidate to succeed Ms Merkel has set out steps to implement the creation of a European Union armed forces in the party’s foreign policy agenda. Polls in Germany suggest that the Green Party’s Annalena Baerbock has a high chance of becoming the nation’s first Green Chancellor. Ms Baerbock has called for the creation of EU military units that would come under the direct control of the European parliament. Speaking to German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung she said: ‘In my view, we have to bundle our capabilities together more strongly as Europeans. Europe’s defence spending is three or four times as high as Russia’s but our capabilities are limited because we duplicate a lot.’

“… Over the weekend two surveys were conducted in Germany that showed the Green Party levelling with Ms Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union Party, CDU, in popularity…

“Now that a Green-led German government is a distinct possibility the party has attracted serious scrutiny over its defence policies. The German Green Party has traditionally been pacifist and campaigned for the nation to withdraw from Nato and remove US atomic weapons from its territory. However, the Greens have adopted a more pragmatic and less principled approach in recent years.”

In addition, the Green Party is at the forefront of strongly supporting heavy fines for violators of coronavirus restrictions. Angela Merkel proposes more rights for vaccinated people (the Local, dated April 26), but this proposal is being criticized, for now, for its obvious and blatant violation of the German Constitution. But it is shocking to see how far the German government is already willing to go. And it will get much worse.

US Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistan Has Begun

Fox News wrote on April 26:

“The U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan has begun, just as the Taliban ramp up bombings in the region.

“President Biden pushed back the initial May deadline set by the Trump administration, instead aiming withdraw all troops by Sept. 11. Around 2,500 American troops currently operate within the country. The move has received bipartisan backlash, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., saying it would be a ‘grave mistake’ to withdraw before ensuring the Taliban had been defeated…

“The Taliban have continued their activity in the region… The Ministry of Interior reported that the Taliban conducted 62 bomb blasts and six suicide bombings in the last 11 days, killing 63 civilians and wounding 180 more… Former President George W. Bush warned last week that the decision to withdraw troops from the country would provide opportunities to the Taliban that he hoped the U.S. would not come to regret.

“Biden has maintained that his withdrawal timeline is based on consultation with experts, Congress and allies on the world stage. ‘I am now the fourth American president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats,’ Biden said. ‘I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth.’”

America’s presence in Afghanistan did not end the bloodshed, nor did it bring peace or security.  It turned out to be a futile, but very costly adventure in terms of the loss of American lives.

FBI Can Break into Private Computers without Owner’s Consent

Market Watch wrote on April 26:

“The FBI has the authority right now to access privately owned computers without their owners’ knowledge or consent, and to delete software. It’s part of a government effort to contain the continuing attacks on corporate networks running Microsoft Exchange software, and it’s an unprecedented intrusion that’s raising legal questions about just how far the government can go… The authority the Justice Department relied on and the way the FBI carried out the operation set important precedents. They also raise questions about the power of courts to regulate cybersecurity without the consent of the owners of the targeted computers…

“The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act generally makes it illegal to access a computer without authorization. This law, though, does not apply to the government… Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure… permits the FBI to access computers outside the jurisdiction of a search warrant…

“Important legal issues remain unresolved with the FBI’s current operation. One is the question of liability. What if, for example, the privately owned computers were damaged in the FBI’s process of removing the malicious code? Another issue is how to balance private property rights against national security needs in cases like this. What is clear, though, is that… the FBI could hack into computers at will, and without the need for a specific search warrant.”

This is a truly dangerous and deeply worrisome development.

Feds Raid Giuliani’s Apartment

Fox News wrote on April 28:

“Federal investigators have executed a search warrant on… Rudy Giuliani… The raid on Giuliani… comes as federal authorities were investigating whether he violated the law by lobbying the Trump administration on behalf of Ukrainian officials in 2019. Giuliani has served as former President Donald Trump’s personal attorney on a number of high-profile matters.

“According to Giuliani’s attorney Robert Costello, seven FBI agents arrived at the apartment at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, and remained for roughly two hours. The agents seized several electronic devices including laptops and cell phones. ‘This is totally unnecessary,’ Costello told Fox News, claiming that the raid was done to ‘make him look like he’s some sort of criminal.’…

“Giuliani was instrumental in Trump’s push to have Ukraine investigate then-candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter regarding energy company Burisma Holdings, for which Hunter Biden served on the board.”

Newsmax added on April 28:

“In addition to his Madison Avenue apartment… investigators also executed a warrant at Giuliani’s office on Park Avenue… Federal prosecutors in Manhattan had pushed last year for a search warrant for records, including some of Giuliani’s communications, but officials in the Trump-era Justice Department would not sign off on the request… Officials in the deputy attorney general’s office raised concerns about both the scope of the request, which they thought would contain communications that could be covered by legal privilege between Giuliani and Trump, and the method of obtaining the records…

“The issue was widely expected to be revisited by the Justice Department once Attorney General Merrick Garland assumed office… The Justice Department requires that applications for search warrants served on lawyers be approved by senior department officials.

“The warrants do not mean that charges are near or even expected.”

While Trump was President, the Justice Department did not proceed against Giuliani. Under the new President and the new Attorney General, it does while apparently refusing to proceed against Hunter Biden, Hillary Clinton and others.

John Kerry under Fire

The Daily Mail wrote on April 28:

“John Kerry is facing mounting calls to resign as President Biden’s climate envoy amid allegations he fed Iran sensitive information on 200 Israeli military operations while he was Secretary of State under Obama. Several Republicans… have called for him to step down following leak of tapes of recordings from Tehran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif.

“Kerry emphatically denied giving Zarif information about Israeli attacks on Syria, calling stories about it ‘unequivocally false.’ A leaked recording of Iran’s foreign minister featured Iranian diplomat Zarif claiming that Kerry told him Israel had attacked Iranian proxies in Syria while serving as Barack Obama’s Secretary of State, a role he held between 2013 and 2017…

“Pompeo, Kerry’s successor as Secretary of State…, said the recording tells ‘what I’ve said for years: that [Zarif] continued to engage with former Secretary of State Kerry on policy matters after Kerry’s public service and, according to Zarif, Kerry informed the Iranians of Israeli operations,’ said Pompeo.

“Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley accused Kerry of ‘tipping off’ the Iranians. ‘This is disgusting on many levels. Biden and Kerry have to answer for why Kerry would be tipping off Iran, the number one sponsor of terror, while stabbing one of our greatest partners, Israel, in the back,’ she said.”

Persecution of Churches in Canada

RT wrote on April 26:

“Churches in Canada have been subjected to aggressive policing of Covid-19 restrictions, despite the fact that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the rights of religion and assembly… In Alberta, a church called Gracelife has been physically fenced off by the government until its leaders agree to abide by government rules regarding mass gatherings. In the same province, a pastor in Calgary named Artur Pawlowski kicked health officials and police out of his church, comparing their tactics to those of the Gestapo, after they’d arrived to investigate supposed public-health violations. Given that the pastor is Polish, he’s likely all too aware of how the Gestapo treated his people during World War II. Similarly, the Gracelife church being fenced off rings some familiar, and alarming, bells…

“Canada is supposed to recognize the right of citizens to practise their religion… community and fellowship have always been part not just of Christianity, but of all Abrahamic religions.

“When I see a health inspector show up with several armed police officers to a place of worship demanding that a service is stopped, I have a hard time arguing against comparisons to the Gestapo. The same with seizing a church and telling its congregation that they must comply with the government or they cannot worship God in their own church.

Anytime that a government sees itself above deity or as a substitution for deity it is becoming a tyranny. These Canadian citizens have the right to believe in God and worship as they choose. They have the freedom to assemble, and they have the freedom of association… Canada as a nation is going to need to decide something right now. Is it going to allow Christians to kneel to God, or is it going to act as if it is God and want them to kneel to it first? If the answer is the latter, I fear that the darkest days for Christians in Canada have only just begun.”

Sadly, these same questions must be asked for just about every country all over the world.

Persecution in the UK Too

The Daily Mail reported on April 28:

“This is the moment police pulled an elderly Christian preacher off his podium and arrested him for making ‘homophobic statements’ – after supporters say he refused to stop reading from the Bible about how God wanted families to be headed by a ‘father and a mother’. Two women can be heard shouting ‘this is a Christian country’ as two policemen lead the 71-year-old man away when he refused to stop addressing the crowd outside Uxbridge Station in West London. Police said they had received complaints the man had been making ‘allegedly homophobic comments’ and arrested him under the Public Order Act, which can be used under the vague proviso that someone is using ‘abusive or insulting words’ that cause ‘harm’ to someone else.  He was later released without charge…

“Pastor Peter Simpson, Minister of Penn Free Methodist Church in Buckinghamshire, who was preaching with Pastor Sherwood before the arrest, said: ‘Everything he said was bible based. He was not saying anything abusive; he is a Christian minister. There did not seem to be any recognition from the police that Christian ministers and such views exist. If there was a Pride parade in Uxbridge, the police would support it even if Christians were offended. You don’t have to be an evangelical Christian to be shocked by this. Anyone who cares about liberty should be concerned about what happened in Uxbridge…

“Whatever one’s personal views on homosexuality might be, it is surely pertinent to ask what kind of nation have we become that the minister of a Christian church is arrested for upholding in the public square the very truths which Her Majesty the Queen promised to uphold in her Coronation Oath in 1953, with a Bible in her hand?’”

Good questions in view of a very sad reality.

Newsom Will Face Recall Election in the Fall

The L.A. Times Essential California Newsletter wrote on April 27:

“It’s finally official: Gov. Gavin Newsom will face a recall election in the fall. Newsom is only the second governor in California history and the fourth in U.S. history to face a recall election. The first election to recall a California governor was in 2003, when voters recalled Democratic Gov. Gray Davis from office and elected Hollywood action star Arnold Schwarzenegger, the last Republican to serve as the state’s chief executive… Newsom will face a statewide vote of confidence by year’s end….

“The governor’s first-in-the-nation stay-at-home order and state coronavirus policies brought him soaring job approval ratings in the spring. But as Californians grew frustrated with economically devastating government-mandated restrictions to stem the spread of the virus, those same actions galvanized the campaign against him. Another turning point came in November, when Newsom sat down for one of the more fateful meals in California political history. The optics of opulent hypocrisy — a wealthy, telegenic governor celebrating a lobbyist’s birthday at an ultra-exclusive restaurant after pleading with Californians to stay home — catalyzed a groundswell of anger…

“California voters will be asked two questions on their recall ballots: First, do you want to recall Newsom from office? And second, which of these candidates should replace him? [The votes on the second question will only be counted if more than half say yes to the first.] Newsom is barred from being listed among the candidates who can be considered if the recall passes.

“A Republican has not won statewide office in California since 2006, but several are already challenging Newsom. The list includes former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, businessman John Cox, former Northern California Rep. Doug Ose and Olympic medal-winning reality [and transgender] TV star Caitlyn Jenner.”

Daily Mail added on April 27:

“Jenner is a registered Republican. She voted for Trump in 2016 but not in 2020, in protest against his position on transgender issues. In an announcement on Instagram, she did not indicate whether or not she’ll run as a Republican or Independent.  A member of Jenner’s team – which includes many prominent former Trump White House figures – told Axios: ‘She’s running as someone that’s socially liberal and fiscally conservative.’ She has hired Tony Fabrizio, a pollster who worked on both of Trump’s campaigns, and Brad Parscale also helped her in an informal role.”

Many commentators feel that physically and spiritually bankrupt California cannot be healed, no matter what is being tried.

Russia’s Crackdown on Navalny and his Network

npr wrote on April 26:

“The political network of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been ordered to suspend its activities pending a court ruling on whether to label it and other affiliated organizations ‘extremist’ — a move that would likely result in them being permanently shuttered… [It] would effectively end any meaningful political opposition in Russia ahead of September parliamentary elections…

“The FBK, founded in 2011 by Navalny, has been highly critical of key Russian figures, including President Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, Navalny himself has become a key political figure and one of the few prominent voices openly opposed to Putin. In January, Navalny’s team released a YouTube video detailing an investigation into what it says is a lavish Black Sea palace built for Putin with funds from a ‘slush fund.’ The video has been viewed tens of millions of times. The Kremlin has dismissed the investigation as ‘pure nonsense.’…

“While traveling last August, Navalny suddenly fell ill and was hospitalized in Germany, where doctors determined that he had been poisoned with a Soviet-era, military grade nerve agent. Navalny blamed Putin for ordering the attack, but the Kremlin has denied any involvement. After months of treatment and recovery, Navalny returned to Russia in January, only to be promptly jailed. He was later sentenced to three and a half years in a penal colony on old fraud charges that he says are politically motivated…

“Just last week, Navalny ended a more than three-week hunger strike to protest his lack of medical treatment for leg and back pain while in prison.

“Amnesty International has condemned the move to label Navalny’s network as extremist, saying the ‘looming ban has far reaching consequences for Russian civil society… Tens of thousands of peaceful activists and the staff of Aleksei Navalny’s organizations are in grave danger – if their organizations are deemed “extremist” they will be at imminent risk of criminal prosecution,’ Amnesty said.”

Newsmax wrote on April 27:

“A Russian court said on Tuesday it had imposed restrictions on jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), while it considers a legal request… from the Moscow prosecutor to officially outlaw the FBK on the grounds that it is an extremist group.”

Russia’s violent persecution of any opposition is well-documented. In addition, Russia, with support of the Russian Orthodox Church of which ex-KGB spy Putin is a member, has also labeled the Jehovah’s Witnesses as “extremist” for their religious views, including on human government, military service and voting.

Putin to Restore the Tsarist Empire?

The Sun wrote on April 26:

“VLADIMIR Putin has staged a ‘successful’ test of a mystery new anti-ballistic missile… It comes as the Russian president aims to use his firepower to restore the country’s Tsarist empire, the Polish defence minister Mariusz Blaszczak has claimed…

“Recent pressure on Ukraine combined with the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and hostilities in Georgia in 2008 indicated this trend he claimed, suggesting the Kremlin leader was eyeing a takeover in four NATO countries including Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Like Ukraine, all were once part of the Russian empire. He quoted late Polish president Lech Kaczynski warning ‘first Georgia, then Ukraine, then the Baltic states, then perhaps Poland’.”

No doubt about the fate of Ukraine. It is less clear when it comes to Poland. The assumption has been that Poland will become a fully integrated part of the emerging European super power.

A Free Non-Marxist Society

Ron Paul of the Ron Paul Institute wrote the following on April 26:

“It is ironic to see self-described Marxists, progressives, and other leftists protesting violence by government agents. After all, their ideology rests on the use of force to compel people to obey politicians and bureaucrats…

“Free markets, individual liberty, limited government, sound money, and peace are key to achieving prosperity and social cohesion. Those sincerely concerned about improving all human lives should turn away from the teaching of Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes, who advocated expansive government power…”

Paul makes an important point. Marxism and socialism, including national socialism, are based on the heavy use of governmental authority, inadvertently leading to a dictatorship. Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia are prime examples… but by no means the only ones.

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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