This Week in the News

Germany and USA Disappointing in Ukraine War

On February 9, Piers Morgan wrote the following in the “Sun”:

“The German chancellor Olaf Scholz, already so shamefully slow to supply desperately needed German battle tanks, has now rejected President Zelensky’s urgent plea for fighter jets, saying he won’t be drawn into a ‘public bidding war’ over military support for Ukraine ‘according to the principle of battle tanks, submarines, battleships, who can offer more. Germany won’t get involved.’

“What a dismal response from one of Europe’s most powerful countries.

“Equally disappointing was US President Biden’s decision to barely mention Ukraine in his annual State of the Union address on Tuesday night…

“Both Scholz and Biden are facing growing domestic resistance to supporting the Ukrainian war effort, but that kind of war fatigue is to be expected now it’s dragging on longer than anyone predicted…

“Britain’s led the way in Europe [with] their unwavering commitment and support… Winston Churchill put it best: ‘It’s no use saying, “we are doing our best”, you have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.’

“The West cannot afford to let Putin win this war. If we do, he will inevitably invade other countries to continue his plan to restore the former Soviet Union he believes should never have been broken up…

“And to the ditherers and waverers in Germany and America, I would remind them of what Margaret Thatcher said to President George H.W. Bush when he hesitated over what action to take against Saddam Hussein after the Iraqi tyrant invaded Kuwait in 1990. The Iron Lady took him aside and said: ‘Remember George, this is no time to go wobbly.’”

A slightly different perspective is pointed out in the next article:

Why the USA Supports Ukraine

Life Site News wrote on February 10:

“A few years ago, during the 2020 election, we found out a bombshell: Hunter Biden had a laptop that ended up in the hands of people who were able to look at that laptop…

“… immediately the media began to call it ‘Russian disinformation,’ tried to discredit it, tried to say, ‘Oh, this is just Trump trying to make up stuff. It’s fake news.’ And we heard that for a couple of years — until Jack Maxey came along. He has been trying to get the media to look at all he had found on this laptop, to look at the way in which Hunter Biden and his father Joe… worked in tens of millions of dollars of kickbacks, payments, oil leases, and all the dealings they had with Ukraine and China…

“Everything that’s on that laptop, including horrible pictures of indecent behavior, is all true. And Jack now has been able to bring to us the truth that the left has lied about, has covered up, including such things as the codes to Department of Defense computer systems.

“And what should astound you… is that China had a copy of Hunter Biden’s laptop with all that information on it. So do you wonder why Biden is so cozied up with Ukraine? Do you wonder why Biden is so cozied up with China? Wonder no more. It’s all on the laptop…”

Is Scholz Blocking Tank Deliveries Again?

Bild Online wrote on February 10:

“Ukraine urgently needs Leopard 2 tanks. But apparently Germany is already on the brakes again! The suspicion: The government in Berlin forbids the Netherlands to deliver tanks to Ukraine. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (64, SPD) had only announced the Panzer turnaround two weeks ago: NATO countries including Germany should be allowed to deliver Leos built in Germany to Ukraine.

“Is Scholz possibly playing a double game? One thing is certain: So far there has been no sign of a major Leo delivery offensive to Ukraine. In addition to Germany, only Poland, Portugal and Canada have officially promised deliveries so far. Other countries that previously promised tanks are significantly slower to respond.

“The federal government criticizes the hesitation of the partners, so Scholz is said to have even personally intervened and called the heads of government, wrote the ‘Spiegel’. But now Dutch media reports are throwing a different light on the situation! Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren (55) told parliament on Thursday that 18 Leopard 2 tanks leased by the Netherlands from Germany would NOT be made available to Ukraine. Reason: a ‘no’ from the federal government!

“The allegations weigh heavily. The federal government also denies them. ‘I am not aware that there was an official request that would then have been rejected by the federal government,’ said a spokeswoman for Boris Pistorius’ (62, SPD) defense ministry. The Chancellery also rejects Ollongren’s statements. The government spokesman to BILD: ‘There has never been a request from the Netherlands.’

“Spicy: as early as mid-January, Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte (55) suggested that The Hague could buy some of the Leopard 2 tanks that it is currently renting from Germany – and send them to Ukraine. On Thursday at the EU summit in Brussels, he only spoke evasively, saying… only: ‘This is something that we (still) discuss with our partners.’ Instead, Rutte suggested sending the tanks to Lithuania to secure NATO’s eastern flank in the Baltic States… [But the] tanks are currently not needed on NATO’s eastern flank and would be in much better hands in the Ukraine.

“Military expert Carlo Masala (54, Bundeswehr University Munich) thinks so too. He does not doubt the version of the Dutch defense minister [and] criticizes that Germany and the alliance partners still do not agree on ‘where our security currently needs to be defended most urgently… The fact that the Dutch defense minister is the first to make Germany’s “no” public shows also that not everything runs as smoothly behind the scenes as publicly portrayed.’”

The dubious role of the German government regarding the Russia-Ukraine war is all too obvious.

Empty Stocks in Germany

Xinhua wrote on February 12:

“Germany’s ability to supply other nations with weapons is extremely limited due to the country’s own undersupply. ‘The shelves are almost empty,’ the Inspector General of the country’s army found when taking stock last year…

“Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces, Eva Hoegl, criticized the ‘unacceptable’ lack of action to fully equip the German military at the end of last year. Almost 20 billion euros (21.4 billion U.S. dollars) would be required to stock up on ammunition alone. Germany’s current stockpile would not even last for a week in the event of a military conflict, she warned…

“Germany’s internal struggles aside, Europe’s largest economy has not entirely given up on the idea of a diplomatic solution to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.”

As we reported last week, the situation in the UK is very similar.

Berlin Does Not Trust Washington

Modern Diplomacy published on February 5 an article with the following headline: “Berlin doesn’t trust Washington. Scholz doesn’t trust the U.S.”

The article continued:

It turns out that an even bigger fear for Scholz than escalation is that NATO, and in particular the U.S., wouldn’t get involved if Russia were to retaliate against… Germany. That worry — according to an adviser to the German government — is the reason that Scholz insisted that Washington agree to supply Ukraine with M1 Abrams tanks before the chancellor would lift his veto on delivering German-made Leopard 2 tanks. While the NATO treaty’s Article 5 calls on alliance members to support one another in the event of an attack, it doesn’t require allies to respond with military force. In other words, Scholz doesn’t trust the U.S.

“America Won’t Defend Europe”

The Telegraph wrote on February 11:

“The United States will need to focus on Asia, and rapidly so. Despite recent soft noises from Beijing, China’s enormous military buildup continues apace, and the brazen transiting of American airspace by a Chinese spy balloon shows the increasingly global reach of the PLA. As two successive US defence strategies have made clear, America must first and foremost ensure that it can defeat China in a conflict, and Washington no longer has a military capable of fighting two concurrent wars

“Moscow has revealed the danger it poses to European security, and it does not look likely to fade away or change its course. On the contrary, it is putting its whole society on a war footing. It is only prudent to assume that Russia will be a real and present danger to European security for the foreseeable future. Europeans will have to shoulder a much greater share of the burden of defending against the potential for [a] Russian attack…

European Nato needs leadership, especially in the context of German lassitude… America can no longer plausibly handle those threats largely alone…”

The author then argues that Britain should be the leader in Europe. That concept is illusionary. Notice also the next article.

Germany to Lead?

Express wrote on February 15:

“French MPs have expressed concern over the condition of Britain’s Armed Forces, suggesting the UK has given too much of its own supplies to the war effort in Ukraine. The worry comes just days after reports in Germany claimed NATO requested Berlin to remain in charge of the defensive alliance’s rapid-reaction force for an extra year, despite Britain being expected to take leadership of it in 2024…”

EU vs. Britain

Express wrote on February 11:

“The EU has ordered over 2,000 UK citizens to leave the country over post-Brexit rules, between 2020 and September 2022… About half of those, 1,050, was rejected by the Swedish government, including Britons refused at the border, those found to be illegally living in Sweden, and others told to leave for other reasons, including post-Brexit regulations.

“In comparison, Spain, where over 300,000 Britons reside, has not ordered a single UK citizen to leave the country since Brexit. In France, only 95 people were asked to leave… Second to Sweden, during the same period of time, the Netherlands expelled 615 UK residents…

“It comes as the UK paid £2.3 billion to the EU as part of a long-standing dispute over textiles and footwear imported into the UK from China [prior to Brexit]. The final payment of £1.1 billion, made this week, brings the case to a close.”

UK at the Brink of Civil War

Express wrote on February 14:

“The Conservative Party is on the brink of an all-out civil war as the UK edges closer to a deal with the EU on Northern Ireland. The European Research Group (ERG), a powerful group of backbench Tory MPs, is said to be furious over reports that the Government is considering handing power to the European courts. The Government is reportedly preparing to accept a role for the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in policing the Northern Ireland Protocol, which would be seen as a post-Brexit betrayal by many on the right of the party… Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage said the deal is ‘bound to be a sellout… It’s all heading in the wrong direction. Dire!’…

“An ERG source told the Daily Express that any role for the ECJ would trigger a ‘civil war’ in the party, and could lead to a revival of a pro-Boris Johnson faction…

“Sources in Brussels say the agreement will see the ECJ presented as the ultimate arbiter of disputes about EU law that emerge from Northern Ireland… the Government is no longer insisting that the ECJ must not be the ultimate arbiter on EU law issues in Northern Ireland, which signals a softening of the UK’s previously hardline position.”

This would sound indeed like a post-Brexit betrayal.

Sunak in Crisis

Express wrote on February 11:

“Rishi Sunak is facing a crisis among Tory voters, as more than 60 percent back Liz Truss’s plan for tax cuts.

“A poll conducted by Techne UK for the Daily Express asked voters whether the former Prime Minister is right about tax cuts being necessary for growth. Of those who voted for the Conservative party in 2019, 62 percent said they supported the tax cuts, with just 24 percent saying they do not.”

The 2020 “Rigged” Presidential Election

The New York Post wrote on February 11:

“Former President Trump shared a video insisting that he would have won the 2020 election had the Post’s reporting on Hunter Biden not been suppressed by social media and falsely discredited by the mainstream press. Trump shared the footage of New York GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik — a known favorite — on his Truth Social media platform Saturday morning.

“‘According to polling, of the people who were made aware of the Hunter Biden laptop story, 53% would have changed their vote…this is the definition of election meddling…it’s collusion, it’s corruption, and it’s unconstitutional,’ Stefanik said in the clip.

“The House GOP Conference chairwoman made the remarks during a Thursday hearing of the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. ‘So, the ELECTION WAS RIGGED!,’ Trump added in his post sharing the footage.”

US Military Leaders in the Dark

NBC News wrote on February 12:

“U.S. military leaders on Sunday said they were in the dark about the exact nature and purpose of airborne objects shot down over the United States and Canada since Friday.

“Unlike a balloon shot down off the coast of South Carolina Feb. 4, described by officials as spy aircraft, it’s unclear how the most recent objects stay aloft and move along…

“An unidentified object shot down Sunday over Lake Huron — the fourth flying object in less than two weeks to have been downed over North American airspace — was described earlier Sunday by a senior administration official as an octagonal structure with strings hanging off but no discernible payload… the objects shot down Friday, Saturday and Sunday by North American forces [were] similar in size and shape.”

Not China’s Spy Balloons?

The New York Post wrote on February 14:

“US intelligence officials do not believe the three UFOs shot down over the weekend were tied to China’s spy balloon program… ‘Our initial assessments here, based on talking to civil authorities in the intelligence community, is that we don’t see anything that points right now to these being part of the PRC spying program or, in fact, intelligence collection against the United States of any kind,’ John Kirby said, using the acronym for the People’s Republic of China…

“While intelligence officials don’t yet know what the mystery objects were, Kirby said they are confident they did not belong to the American government

“Unlike the spy balloon, the three UFOs were not maneuverable, meaning they could not change direction and moved largely at the whim of the wind… As of Tuesday afternoon, no private companies or nations had come forward to claim any of the recently downed objects, Kirby said.”

What kind of an irresponsible trigger-happy Wild-West-approach is this to just shoot down objects without knowing what they are?

AT&T’s Stock Falls Significantly After Censoring Newsmax

Newsmax reported on February 11:

“Since DirecTV dropped Newsmax on Jan. 24, AT&T’s stock has fallen by almost 7%, wiping nearly $10 billion from its market value. AT&T, the 70% owner of DirecTV, has come under fierce criticism after deplatforming Newsmax from its satellite TV systems — the second conservative channel it has removed in the past year, with OAN going last April.

“Days after the Newsmax drop, former President Donald Trump called on Americans to cancel not only DirecTV but all AT&T services, including cellular and wireless services… Sen. Rand Paul.. has joined with Trump in urging conservatives to cancel AT&T and DirecTV products. Other leaders — including former Arkansas GOP Gov. Mike Huckabee ; Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; Sen. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla.; Dennis Prager — have encouraged Americans to switch their service providers.

“This week, Republican National Committee Chairwoman  Ronna McDaniel [called] DirecTV’s decision ‘anti-free-speech and anti-American.’… Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy said… AT&T’s targeting of Newsmax for unequal treatment is ‘an act of political discrimination and blatant censorship.’”

IRS Won’t Tax Most Relief Payments Made by States Last Year

The Associated Press reported on February 10:

“The IRS announced Friday that most relief checks issued by states last year aren’t subject to federal taxes…

“The states where the relief checks do not have to be reported by taxpayers are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island…

“In California, most residents got a ‘middle class tax refund’ last year, a payment of up to $1,050 depending on their income, filing status and whether they had children. The Democratic-controlled state Legislature approved the payments to help offset record high gas prices, which peaked at a high of $6.44 per gallon in June…

“A key question was whether the federal government would count those payments as income and require Californians to pay taxes on it. Many California taxpayers had delayed filing their 2022 returns while waiting for an answer. Friday, the IRS said it would not tax the refund.”

In a somewhat related article, Thomson/Reuters reported on February 10: “The U.S. government posted a $39 billion budget deficit for January after a rare $119 billion monthly surplus a year earlier, as revenues dipped and some one-time costs pushed outlays sharply higher…”

Terrible Statistics

Deutsche Welle wrote on February 14:

“The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday said the deadly earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, were the worst natural disaster in the region in a hundred years… The latest figures bring the total number killed in the disaster to at least 39,000 [as of February 16, at least 41,000]… According to United Nations estimates, the number could rise to 50,000 or more.

“Erdogan also said hundreds of thousands of buildings in southern Turkey were uninhabitable and more than 2.2 million people had fled the areas hit by the quakes… UN children’s agency UNICEF said that more than 7 million children have been affected by the Turkey-Syria earthquake and expressed fear over the thousands who have died.”

Anger Over Turkey’s Earthquake Response

On February 12, The Associated Press wrote the following:

“Six days after a massive earthquake devastated Syria and Turkey… sorrow and disbelief are turning to anger and tension over a sense that there has been an ineffective, unfair and disproportionate response to the historic disaster.

“Many in Turkey express frustration that rescue operations have proceeded painfully slowly, and that valuable time has been lost during the narrow window for finding people alive beneath the rubble.

“Others, particularly in the southern Hatay province near the Syrian border, say that Turkey’s government was late in delivering assistance to the hardest-hit region for what they suspect are both political and religious reasons.”

People Were Killed Under State Supervision

 Deutsche Welle wrote on February 16:

In southeastern Turkey, despair is turning into righteous indignation… The earthquake, which also hit northern Syria, claimed more than 35,000 lives in Turkey and 6,000 in Syria. Those numbers have been rising by the hour. 

“According to Turkish authorities, nearly 13 million people in 10 cities have been affected, and at least 33,143 buildings have either collapsed, been severely damaged or require immediate demolition. The number is likely to rise as officials continue to assess the damage. An estimated 1 million people are currently without shelter. Most of them are living in tents or student dormitories…

“Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay pointed the finger at 134 builders from the region who have been arrested across the country on suspicion of shoddy or negligent construction. Some were arrested at airports as they attempted to flee the country with large sums of cash… But the recent history of earthquake investigations in Turkey raises the question of whether senior officials, who were allegedly negligent in the inspection and approval processes, will actually be punished. That has not been the case in the past…

“According to regulations introduced in 2001, buildings have to be inspected by expert auditing firms. But until recently, auditing firms were selected and paid for by the contractors themselves. This, of course, creates a conflict of interest. But the auditing firms are not the only ones responsible for approving construction. The municipality also issues a license for the building. If the municipality does not, then the central administration in Ankara can…

“According to the latest related regulations, initiated on June 8, 2018, and signed by Erdogan, buildings that violate zoning laws will be legalized ‘in accordance with the home owner’s declaration,’ allowing the state to withdraw from any responsibility… In the 10 provinces hit by the recent earthquake, 294,165 buildings had been issued legalization certificates. Experts believe thousands died in these buildings. Instead of being fortified or demolished, they were subject to amnesty under the new regulations. 

“Amnesty laws have created an understanding in society that ‘building violations are tolerated.’ This has led to an increase in unauthorized construction and the legitimization of illegal building. It is considered to be one of the most significant sectors for corruption in society…

“Erdogan’s Directorate of Communication has said Turkey is facing the ‘disaster of the century.’ But many experts in the country believe that this was a preventable catastrophe and that what the country is in fact facing is the ‘negligence of the century.’” 

Israel at the Brink of Social and Constitutional Collapse?

Israel Today wrote on February 13:

“Police closed the main streets around the Knesset to traffic on Monday morning ahead of a mass rally that began at noon, just after the coalition passed the first reading of a bill introducing parts of the proposed judicial reform… more than 45 buses brought employees from Tel Aviv, Rehovot, Beersheba, Nahariya and other locations to the protest in front of the Knesset in Jerusalem. In addition, thousands of doctors and mental health professionals were expected to join the strike.

‘The demonstrations come after a rare plea by President Isaac Herzog in favor of consultations and compromises on the reform plan… Herzog said the country is on the brink of ‘social and constitutional collapse,’ and urged citizens on both sides of the political divide to refrain from violence. ‘Even more so from violence against public officials and elected representatives,’ he pleaded.”

Al Aqsa and Dome of the Rock to Collapse?

Israel 365 News wrote on February 13:

“For the second time in one week, structural damage [was] reported at a Muslim structure on the Temple Mount… the Muslim structures standing on Judaism’s holiest site have a long history of collapse due to the earthquakes that are common to the region.

“Arab media is reporting that rain damage led to the collapse of sections of the floor inside the Aqsa Mosque’s Marwani prayer building on the Temple Mount. The damage took place on Thursday and the Arab officials blamed Israel: ‘Sheikh Najeh Bakirat, deputy head of the Islamic Awqaf Administration in Occupied Jerusalem, warned that the Israeli occupation authority’s (IOA) refusal to allow the Islamic Awqaf to carry out renovations to the Aqsa Mosque’s prayer buildings and premises constitutes a great danger to its existence,’ Qods International News Agency wrote.

“The reference points described in the articles were a bit confusing as the Marwani Mosque and the al-Aqsa Mosque are separate locations. Al Aqsa, also known as the Qibli Mosque, is the prayer hall with a dark gray dome located at the southern end of the Temple Mount. The al-Marwani Mosque is a different location, constructed under the Temple Mount Plaza in an underground vaulted space referred to as Solomon’s stables. In December 1996 the Waqf carried out an illegal construction project using heavy equipment to remove approximately 9,000 tons (an estimated 350 truckloads) of archaeologically rich soil, dumping it in the Kidron Valley. The underground area was converted into a Muslim prayer hall.

“While the term ‘al-Aqsa Mosque’ (the further mosque) refers to a specific structure, the Palestinian media have, in recent years, begun to use it to refer to the entire Temple Mount (al-Ḥaram al-Sharīf in Arabic). According to Dr. Mordechai Kedar, an expert Arabist, this is an intentional lie intended to allow the Palestinians to claim the entire Temple Mount. He suggested that the term will continue to be subverted with the intention of claiming the entire city of Jerusalem for Islam.

“The Arabic media reports claimed the damage was in a structure near the ‘Al-Ghawanmeh Gate.’ This gate, previously called the al-Khalil Gate, is located on the northwestern corner of the Temple Mount. As noted above, the Aqsa Mosque and the Marwani Mosque are located in the southeastern corner of the Temple Mount…

Al Aqsa has also suffered from natural catastrophes.  Shortly after it was built, it was destroyed in an earthquake in 746 CE. The mosque was rebuilt in 758 CE but was damaged in another earthquake. It was again destroyed during the 1033 Jordan Rift Valley earthquake. Severe damage was caused by the 1837 and 1927 earthquakes, but the mosque was repaired in 1938 and 1942.

“Earthquakes in 2004 opened cracks in the walls of the Dome of the Rock and the Marwani Mosque. The Waqf refused to allow Israeli experts to aid in the repairs.  Eilat Mazar, a noted archeologist and activist on the Committee for Preventing the Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount, conjectured that a major disaster at the site was imminent….”

This is interesting in light of the fact that a third temple will be built on the Temple Mount, apparently at the exact place where the Al Aqsa mosque is located.

Anne Frank House in Amsterdam Targeted With Antisemitic Message

The Algemeiner wrote on February 10:

“The Prime Minister of the Netherlands led a chorus of condemnation on Friday following the laser projection of an antisemitic message onto the outer wall of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, where the famed teenage Jewish diarist hid with her family during the Nazi occupation of the country. The offending message was flashed into the front of the building on Monday using a laser. It referred to Anne Frank as the ‘inventor of the ballpoint pen’ — a internet meme actively spread by Holocaust deniers who falsely claim that the diary was written using a pen that did not exist during World War II. The Anne Frank House said in a statement that images of the incident were circulating on right-wing chat groups and it had referred the matter to police and prosecutors.

“Calling the message ‘reprehensible,’ Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a statement on Friday that ‘there is no place for antisemitism in our country, we cannot accept this.’ Separately, Justice Minister Dilan Yeşilgöz slammed the message as ‘disgusting.’ Femke Halsema, the mayor of Amsterdam… denounced the message as ‘pure antisemitism’ and an ‘attack on the legacy of Anne Frank.’ ‘The projection refers to a conspiracy theory about Holocaust denial,’ Halsema said…

“The incident at the Anne Frank House was reported amid a surge in concern over rising antisemitism in the Netherlands… almost one quarter of Dutch millennials believe the Holocaust is a myth, while 60 percent of respondents did not name the Netherlands as a country impacted by the Holocaust. More than 100,000 Dutch Jews — three-quarters of the population — were murdered during the Holocaust, the highest killing rate recorded in western Europe.

“Earlier this week, a… report disclosed that nearly half of Dutch high school teachers had witnessed an antisemitic incident during the last year. The same report noted that 20 percent of offenders were of Moroccan origin — double the number recorded by a similar survey ten years ago — with Dutch citizens from a Turkish background also overrepresented. Offenders are mainly young males, the report stated.”

It is absolutely dumbfounding to hear about such weird conspiracy theories by Holocaust deniers.

Berlusconi Acquitted

Deutsche Welle wrote on February 15:

“An Italian court on Wednesday acquitted former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in a case where he was charged with paying witnesses to lie about his involvement in underage prostitution.

“Prosecutors had demanded that Berlusconi be imprisoned for six years for bribing 24 guests at his parties to give false testimony in a previous trial, where he was charged with paying for sex with a 17-year-old nightclub dancer. He was acquitted in the underage prostitution case because of a lack of proof that he knew he was paying a minor. The former leader was then charged for bribing witnesses.

“The case of paying off witnesses was split between three cities — Siena, Rome and Milan — because of where the witnesses lived. Berlusconi has already been acquitted in the cases in Siena and Rome. Prosecutors there are appealing this decision. The case in Milan is the most high-profile of the three.

“Berlusconi has previously acknowledged giving money to his guests but said that it was compensation for the reputational damage they suffered.

“There have been a total of 35 criminal court cases against him but only one conviction. The total number of cases refers to separate court cases rather than individual trials at each phase of judicial procedure. He was convicted in 2014 but this was overturned the following year, a verdict upheld by an appeals court and the Supreme Court. Berlusconi’s one trial to conclude in a final conviction was the one for tax fraud, false accounting and embezzlement.

“Italy’s top court confirmed Berlusconi’s sentence, four years’ imprisonment, though three were excused by a pardon. Berlusconi was able to cover the remaining time with community service. The case has long cast a shadow on his political career… the scandal led to his political downfall and the end of his fourth term as prime minister in 2011.

“Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party — a key player in current Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s coalition — has consistently denied the allegations… Since then, Berlusconi was re-elected to Italy’s upper house in 2022 with more than 50% of the votes in September in the northern city of Monza, where he also owns a soccer team.

“That marked a significant comeback for him as he was expelled from the Senate in 2013 because of a tax fraud conviction stemming from his media business.”

Civil War in the Catholic Church

AFP wrote on February 11:

“From his reforms to his foreign relations, criticism of Pope Francis has intensified since the death of his predecessor Benedict XVI, revealing a climate of ‘civil war’ at a time when the Catholic Church is engaged in a global conversation about its future. Benedict, a conservative German theologian who was pope for eight years before resigning in 2013, died on December 31 at the age of 95. Within days of his death, his closest aide, Georg Gaenswein, revealed Benedict’s concerns at some of the changes made by his successor Pope Francis, notably his decision to restrict the use of the Latin mass.

“The criticism was not new. Many in the conservative wing of the Roman Curia, which governs the Church, have long complained the Argentine pontiff is authoritarian and too focused on pastoral matters at the expense of theological rigour. But it was followed by the death of Australian cardinal George Pell, and the subsequent revelation that he had authored an anonymous note published last year that directly attacked Francis. The note had described the current papacy as a ‘catastrophe’, and among others criticised ‘heavy failures’ of Vatican diplomacy under his watch. Pell, a former close adviser to Francis, was jailed for child sexual abuse before being acquitted in 2020.

“Then, at the end of the month, German Cardinal Gerhard Mueller published a book adding fuel to the fire. The former head of the Vatican’s powerful congregation for the doctrine of the faith denounced Francis’ ‘doctrinal confusion’ and criticised the influence of a ‘magic circle’ around him… “Pope Francis himself told reporters on his plane back from South Sudan last Sunday that his critics have ‘exploited’ Benedict’s death to further their cause…

“The tensions come as the Catholic Church conducts a vast global consultation on its future… it has revealed key differences with the German Catholic Church… Discussions include everything from the place of women in the church to how to handle the scandal of child sex abuse, from whether priests should marry to how the Church welcomes LGBTQ believers…”

God Gender-Neutral?

Israel 365 News wrote on February 10:

“The Church of England is considering using gender-neutral terms in its prayer service. ‘Christians have recognised since ancient times that God is neither male nor female,’ a spokesperson for the Church said in a media statement on Wednesday…

“In November 2018,  the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said that ‘God is not a father in the same way that a human would be’ and that descriptions of God are always ‘to some degree metaphorical’…   the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: ‘He is neither man nor woman: he is God.’”

Breitbart added on February 10:

“… the Church announced that it would be launching a project on gender-neutral language in which phrases referring to God, such as ‘Our Father’, may be scrapped or replaced by either feminine alternatives or gender-neutral variants.”

What utter confusion!

Prayers for Same-Sex Marriages

Breitbart wrote on February 10:

“Same-sex marriages will receive ‘prayers for God’s blessing’ for the first time in the Church of England following a vote at the General Synod…

“In a joint statement, the two most senior bishops in the Church, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Stephen Cottrell, the Archbishop of York said: ‘It has been a long road to get us to this point. For the first time, the Church of England will publicly, unreservedly and joyfully welcome same-sex couples in church.’…

“The move drew considerable rebukes from some within the Church’s legislative body, including barrister and lay General Synod member Daniel Matovu, who characterised it as a ‘fiasco’, claiming that blessing same-sex marriages ignores the teachings of scripture. ‘The Bishops say that this is about people, it is about much more than that, it’s about the word of God and about Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith,’ he said before citing verses from the Bible which he said demonstrated that marriage is only intended to be between a man and a woman. ‘Where does the Church get its doctrine on marriage from? It comes directly from God,’ Matovu continued…”

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