"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life"

Father God, thank you for the love of the truth you have given me. Please bless me with the wisdom, knowledge and discernment needed to always present the truth in an attitude of grace and love. Use this blog and Northwoods Ministries for your glory. Help us all to read and to study Your Word without preconceived notions, but rather, let scripture interpret scripture in the presence of the Holy Spirit. All praise to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Please note: All my writings and comments appear in bold italics in this colour

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

European Politicians Desperately Grasping at Straws to Stop Le Pen

EU lawmakers vote to strip Le Pen of immunity
for tweeting pictures of ISIS violence

Marine Le Pen © Global Look Press via ZUMA Press

An EU parliamentary committee has voted to lift the immunity (from prosecution) of French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, officials have said. The decision is over the graphic photos of Islamic State victims posted by the politician on Twitter.

Le Pen, the leader of the Eurosceptic and anti-immigration National Front and contender for the French presidency in the upcoming elections, is under investigation in France for posting images of Islamic State atrocities, including the beheading of American journalist James Foley, back in 2015.

The MEPs in the legal affairs committee, after deliberating whether Le Pen’s posts were becoming of a European deputy, "overwhelmingly voted to lift Le Pen's immunity," Italian lawmaker Laura Ferrara told Reuters.

The European Parliament as a whole is to vote on the issue on Thursday, AFP reported.

RT sought comment from Ludovic de Danne, the Secretary General of the ENF (Europe of Nations and Freedom), the political bloc in the European parliament led by Le Pen.

“It's a poor way of the EU globalists and an easy hypocritical excuse to target Marine Le Pen,” de Danne responded in an email. “Like for the other attacks it’s the same maneuvers like against Brexit and Trump. The people are not blind anymore.”

“We are confident she would win any potential trial in this case if it ever happens.”

In December 2015, Le Pen tweeted three graphic photographs of IS killings accompanied by the text “Daesh [Arabic term for IS] is THIS!” in response to journalist Jean-Jacques Bourdin who compared her nationalist rhetoric to that of the Islamic terrorist group.

The family of James Foley, whose lifeless body featured in one of the photographs, said they were “deeply disturbed by the unsolicited use of Jim for Le Pen’s political gain.”

Le Pen had her parliamentary immunity taken away in 2013, when she was charged with inciting racial hatred for remarks she made in 2010 in the city of Lyon, when she compared Muslims praying outside to an “occupation.”

But in December 2015, Le Pen was acquitted after a judge decided that while her remarks were “shocking”, they were protected “as a part of freedom of expression.”

Her father and former National Front leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, has been stripped of his parliamentary immunity four times for making inflammatory remarks, including calling the Holocaust a mere “detail of history.”

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Guatemala Elects Conservative Christian President

With apologies for not finding this story sooner.
The election occurred in October 2015.

Veronica Neffinger | Editor, ChristianHeadlines.com 

Guatemala has elected a comedian who has studied theology and holds conservative Christian values as the country’s new president.

Breaking Christian News reports that Jimmy Morales was initially considered an outsider, but ended up becoming a frontrunner and then going on to win the election.

Morales espouses conservative values, including opposing abortion, gay marriage, and the legalization of marijuana. Morales ran with the slogan “neither corrupt nor a thief”--a Biblical reference.

President Jimmy Morales
“According to my belief, my ideology, I would have to veto such laws," the president-elect told CBN News. "I think in Guatemala we will not have this because of conservative thinking. In case Congress approves such laws, my position would be against them."

Morales was elected in the wake of political crisis, including the resignation of previous president Otto Perez Molina, due to fraud and corruption.

Many Guatemalan Christians believe President Morales is an answer to their prayers.

The Guatemalan Church had been active throughout the election process, holding prayer meetings, prayer vigils, and fasting.

“God put His hand in Guatemala, it's a miracle what happened," prayer participant Marco Antonio Ruiz said. "We came together as Church and cried out with one voice. The effectual prayer of a righteous man availeth much. God heard the voice of all those who joined us in prayer."

The country’s main evangelical organization also organized the debate held right before the election, which was broadcast on national television and on the Christian network Enlace.

God bless him and keep him.

The One Thing Christians Should Stop Saying

Very interesting perspective - don't you think?

Let’s retire this phrase immediately, and say what we really mean to say instead.

I was on the phone with a good friend the other day. After covering important topics, like disparaging each other’s mothers and retelling semi-factual tales from our college days, our conversation turned to the mundane.

“So, how’s work going?” he asked.

Or, as we say in Canada, "How's it goin', eh?"

For those of you who don’t know, I make money by teaching leadership skills and helping people learn to get along in corporate America. My wife says it’s all a clever disguise so I can get up in front of large groups and tell stories.

I plead the fifth.

I answered my buddy’s question with,

“Definitely feeling blessed. Last year was the best year yet for my business. And it looks like this year will be just as busy.”

The words rolled off my tongue without a second thought. Like reciting the Pledge of Allegiance or placing my usual lunch order at McDonald’s.

But it was a lie.

Now, before you start taking up a collection for the “Feed the Dannemillers” fund, allow me to explain. Based on last year’s quest to go twelve months without buying anything, you may have the impression that our family is subsisting on Ramen noodles and free chips and salsa at the local Mexican restaurant. Not to worry, we are not in dire straits.

Last year was the best year yet for my business.

But that is not a blessing.

I’ve noticed a trend among Christians, myself included, and it troubles me. Our rote response to material windfalls is to call ourselves blessed. Like the “amen” at the end of a prayer.

“This new car is such a blessing.”

“Finally closed on the house. Feeling blessed.”

“Just got back from a mission trip. Realizing how blessed we are here in this country.”

On the surface, the phrase seems harmless. Faithful even. Why wouldn’t I want to give God the glory for everything I have? Isn’t that the right thing to do?


As I reflected on my “feeling blessed” comment, two thoughts came to mind. I realize I’m splitting hairs here, creating an argument over semantics. But bear with me, because I believe it is critically important. It’s one of those things we can’t see because it’s so culturally engrained that it has become normal.

But it has to stop. And here’s why.

First, when I say that my material fortune is the result of God’s blessing, it reduces The Almighty to some sort of sky-bound, wish-granting fairy who spends his days randomly bestowing cars and cash upon his followers. I can’t help but draw parallels to how I handed out M&M’s to my own kids when they followed my directions and chose to poop in the toilet rather than in their pants. Sure, God wants us to continually seek His will, and it’s for our own good. But positive reinforcement?

God is not a behavioral psychologist.

Second, and more importantly, calling myself blessed because of material good fortune is just plain wrong. For starters, it can be offensive to the hundreds of millions of Christians in the world who live on less than $1 per day. You read that right. Hundreds of millions who receive a single-digit dollar “blessing” per day.

During our year in Guatemala, Gabby and I witnessed first-hand the damage done by the theology of prosperity, where faithful people scraping by to feed their families were simply told they must not be faithful enough. If they were, God would pull them out of their nightmare. Just try harder, and God will show favor.

The problem? Nowhere in scripture are we promised worldly ease in return for our pledge of faith. In fact, the most devout saints from the Bible usually died penniless, receiving a one-way ticket to prison or death by torture.

I’ll take door number three, please.

If we’re looking for the definition of blessing, Jesus spells it out clearly (Matthew 5: 1-12).

1 Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him,

2 And He began to teach them, saying:

3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

I have a sneaking suspicion verses 12a 12b and 12c were omitted from the text. That’s where the disciples responded by saying:
12a Waitest thou for one second, Lord. What about “blessed art thou comfortable,” or 12b “blessed art thou which havest good jobs, a modest house in the suburbs, and a yearly vacation to the Florida Gulf Coast?”

12c And Jesus said unto them, “Apologies, my brothers, but those did not maketh the cut.”

So there it is. Written in red. Plain as day. Even still, we ignore it all when we hijack the word “blessed” to make it fit neatly into our modern American ideals, creating a cosmic lottery where every sincere prayer buys us another scratch-off ticket. In the process, we stand the risk of alienating those we are hoping to bring to the faith.

And we have to stop playing that game.

The truth is, I have no idea why I was born where I was or why I have the opportunity I have. It’s beyond comprehension. But I certainly don’t believe God has chosen me above others because of the veracity of my prayers or the depth of my faith. Still, if I take advantage of the opportunities set before me, a comfortable life may come my way. It’s not guaranteed. But if it does happen, I don’t believe Jesus will call me blessed.

He will call me “burdened.”

He will ask,

“What will you do with it?”

“Will you use it for yourself?”

“Will you use it to help?”

“Will you hold it close for comfort?”

“Will you share it?”

So many hard choices. So few easy answers.

So my prayer today is that I understand my true blessing. It’s not my house. Or my job. Or my standard of living.


My blessing is this. I know a God who gives hope to the hopeless. I know a God who loves the unlovable. I know a God who comforts the sorrowful. And I know a God who has planted this same power within me. Within all of us.

And for this blessing, may our response always be,

“Use me.”

Since I had this conversation, my new response is simply, “I’m grateful.” Would love to hear your thoughts.

By Scott Dannemiller
My name is Scott Dannemiller.  Several years ago, my wife Gabby and I quit our corporate careers to spend a year doing mission and volunteer work.  We learned a lot about God’s world and our place in it while living with a Mayan family in Southwestern Guatemala.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Fake News is Rapidly Reaching the Point of Absurdity

Fox News caught with their pants down - not for the first time by any means, but criticism is coming from all sides and it results in the suppression of the real truth

Fake Fox News? Network ridiculed for bogus ‘Swedish Defense and National Security’ guest

Fox News Channel host Bill O'Reilly © Brendan McDermid / Reuters

Bill O’Reilly and Fox News have been lambasted for providing fake news after interviewing a “Swedish Defense and National Security adviser,” in relation to Trump’s #LastNightInSweden gaffe, who no one had ever heard of.

Fox News host and controversial peddler of alternative facts Bill O’Reilly interviewed “Swedish Defense and National Security Adviser” Nils Bildt on Thursday, in an effort to back up the claims made about Sweden’s immigration in a Fox segment that is thought to have inspired Trump’s #lastnightinSweden comments.

Bildt dutifully echoed the claims made by Trump, claiming Swedish authorities were failing to socially integrate refugees, leading to a problem with “socially deviant activity” and “hotspots of crime.”

In an awkward turn of events, both the Swedish defense and foreign ministry have denied having any knowledge of who Bildt is.

The problem here is that Fox greatly overstated the man's credentials. Instead of being honest, or making the effort to find someone who actually is an expert and is willing to talk, O'Reilly faked it and deserves the blame and loss of credibility. But it's worse than that!

Trumps now famous #lastnightinSweden gaff resulted from that interview and resulted in another level of lost credibility in the President, which is totally deserved. He should not be getting talking points from Fox News; he should be getting them from his staff. If he took the time to get briefed on issues he decides to talk about, he might be able to speak the truth with some authority. You cannot run the Whitehouse off the top of your head. But it's worse than that!

Because of all this the truth of the conspiracy of silence in ultra-politically correct Sweden is now a joke and no bonafide news network has the guts to report on it or even investigate it. Swedish girls are being raped, gang-raped and beaten senseless every day and the police are covering it up - (see police code R291), by migrants. They are being sacrificed on the altar of political correctness and stupidity by the government, police, judiciary, and media. 

There is such a conspiracy of silence that neither Swedish girls nor their parents are aware of the extreme dangers facing them on the streets of Stockholm, Malmo, Gothenburg, and every other city in Sweden.

A couple of policemen, (see links above) both very near retirement have come forth and outed the conspiracy. A Swedish professor has backed them up (migrants are fiercely over-represented in violent crimes), but there is a mentality in the establishment that criminal migrants are more important than a generation of Swedish girls and women. 

The MSM will never report on that because Fox and Trump have so thoroughly abused the truth that MSM would be seen supporting them if they did report the truth - and that's not going to happen. That's the tragedy of this. 

Photo published for Fake Sweden expert on Fox News – has criminal convictions in US,
no connection to Swedish security...

Fake Sweden expert on Fox News – has criminal convictions in US, no connection to Swedish security...

Fox News continues to focus on the debate about how immigration is breaking Sweden.

Good. At least someone is.

"We have no spokesman by that name," Marie Pis├Ąter, of the Defense Ministry, told Dagens Nyheter.

"We do not know who he is," the Foreign Office said. The Swedish Armed Forces have also stated he is “definitely not a spokesman for the Armed Forces.”

In fact, Bildt left Sweden in 1994, and changed his name from Tolling in 2003. In 2014, Bildt was convicted for assaulting a law enforcement officer and threatening an official by the Arlington General District Court in Virginia, and given a one-year prison sentence.

He runs security companies in the US, although Dangens Nyheter said it is unclear if those companies are in operation.

Bildt later denied claiming he was a Swedish security expert, taking a leaf out of Trump’s book in blaming Fox.

"I had no control over the choice of title, which was made by Fox News' editor,” he told Dagens Nyheter. “I am an independent analyst based in the USA."

A little humour does help one to stave off madness when reporting on stories like this. This tweet emerged which one can't help but laugh at:

Well, they also had this French expert who confirmed everything Nils Bildt said. So, fake?! I think NOT!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Hundreds of Scientists Urge Trump to Withdraw from U.N. Climate-Change Agency

MIT’s Richard Lindzen says policies cause economic harm with ‘no environmental benefits’

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull in the Oval Office of the White House, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

By Valerie Richardson - The Washington Times 

More than 300 scientists have urged President Trump to withdraw from the U.N.’s climate change agency, warning that its push to curtail carbon dioxide threatens to exacerbate poverty without improving the environment.

In a Thursday letter to the president, MIT professor emeritus Richard Lindzen called on the United States and other nations to “change course on an outdated international agreement that targets minor greenhouse gases,” starting with carbon dioxide.

“Since 2009, the US and other governments have undertaken actions with respect to global climate that are not scientifically justified and that already have, and will continue to cause serious social and economic harm — with no environmental benefits,” said Mr. Lindzen, a prominent atmospheric physicist.

Signers of the attached petition include the U.S. and international atmospheric scientists, meteorologists, physicists, professors and others taking issue with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC], which was formed in 1992 to combat “dangerous” climate change.

In 1990, the IPCC predicted a 1 degree C rise in the global temperature by 2025. It is now 2017 and we have seen about a quarter of a degree rise in temperature. Until they get the science right we should not be spending extreme amounts of money to fix a problem that is greatly exaggerated. Alleviate the poverty in the world; stop the selling of weapons as a center-piece of western economies. The worst problem in the world is child sex abuse - by a long shot. Tens of millions of children are sexually abused before they turn 18. Do something about that!

The 2016 Paris climate accord, which sets nonbinding emissions goals for nations, was drawn up under the auspices of the UNFCCC.

“Observations since the UNFCCC was written 25 years ago show that warming from increased atmospheric CO2 will be benign — much less than initial model predictions,” says the petition.

And certainly not worth the trillions of dollars those lunatics want to spend on it.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Islamist who Planned to ‘Blow Up Police or Soldiers’ Arrested in Germany

Potential terrorists in Germany has now reached 1600

© Christian Charisius / Reuters

German police have detained a young man after finding chemicals used for making explosives in his apartment. The suspect admitted that he planned a bomb attack on police officers or soldiers, prosecutors and police said in a joint statement.

A German citizen, 26, whose name has not been revealed yet, was detained on Wednesday in the German town of Northeim, in the northwestern state of Lower Saxony. He is suspected of preparing to commit a “grave violent offense against the state” and of attempted murder, the statement issued by the regional police department in Goettingen and the regional Prosecutor General’s Office in Celle says.

Earlier, police raided his home and found various chemicals used to make explosives based on acetone peroxide – a highly explosive agent, which is difficult to detect and which was earlier used in a number of terrorist attacks across Europe, including the Brussels attacks in 2016.

The police officers also discovered “components that could be used for assembling an unconventional explosive device,” the statement said, adding that the details found in the suspects apartment particularly included “electrical components of a time fuse.”

According to the investigators, the suspect was actively preparing for a terrorist attack when he was captured. They also managed to find out that he was a member of a Salafist group – an ultra-conservative Islamist movement.

During his first questioning, the suspect admitted his guilt and said that he was planning to “lure police officers or soldiers in a trap and kill them with a homemade bomb.” The investigators have not revealed any further details about this case and have said that they are “at the very beginning” of the inquiry.

They also stressed that it is too early to speak about any possible accomplices of the suspect or about his potential ties with any known terrorist groups or links to any similar incidents.

Both police and the Prosecutor General’s Office called the operation “a great success in the fight against terrorism.”

“Police have acted professionally and consistently here and all necessary measures were taken in a timely fashion,” Uwe Luehrig, the head of the Goettingen police department, said in the statement, adding that police will use all available legal means to counter the terrorist threat.

Northeim pedestrian area

About 700 members of Salafist groups live now in Germany’s state of Lower Saxony alone, German media report, citing data provided by the regional office of the German domestic security service, the BfV.

Some 77 of them have traveled to Syria and Iraq, the intelligence data says, adding that about 50 of them are regarded as posing “an acute threat” to the German security and are subjects to “increased surveillance.”

Salafists in Germany is a problem that needs to be addressed urgently. They are still building mosques especially in former East Germany where their influence is growing. Salafists will not be absorbed into German society, they will never put German laws above Sharia and they have one goal - to subject the world to Sharia. Germany needs to shut down Salafist mosques as they did in France or they will pay a high price.

Two weeks ago, police detained two men suspected of terrorism in Goettingen. The investigators found combat weapons, ammunition, data storage devices and Islamic State flags in their apartment during the raid. One of the suspects was an Algerian, 27, while the second one was a Nigerian, 22.

The Regional Interior Ministry initiated deportation for both suspects but they legally challenged this decision, German media report. Their cases were eventually handed over to the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig.

In the meantime, the BfV once again warned that Islamist terrorists pose a significant threat to Germany. Hans-Georg Maassen, the head of the BfV, said this week that his service receives from two to four tips relating to some potentially dangerous acts a day. He also added that the number of potential terrorists and their supporters has recently reached 1,600 people.

That is a whole lot of people to manage! It would require a Communist-era Stasi-like force to keep track of them. I can't imagine that is something Germans want.

Northeim, Germany

Saudi Gift of $10bn to Yemen may be the Worst Thing That Could Happen

Yesterday I posted an article on Saudi Arabia giving Yemen $10 billion for rebuilding the country's infrastructure. I questioned the timing of rebuilding while a war is still in progress. I wondered if the Saudis were trying to impress world opinion, but I can't think of anytime in history where they did that. Then I thought maybe they feel guilty for all the death and destruction they are responsible for. But Saudis are Salafists - I question whether they are capable of feeling guilt and shame. 

Today, I question the motives behind the move.

I mentioned it on Facebook yesterday to some friends in Yemen and was a little surprised at the response which was basically, "We don't want their money, we want them to stop the war."

I thought that surely if the Saudis are going to be spending billions rebuilding infrastructure, they are going to be disinclined to want to blow it up again. The Iranian-backed Houthis, who are in control of the capital city of Sana'a, however, would not be under such a disinclination. 

Then an historian friend in Germany jumped in and added what he considered to be the probable motivation for the 'gift'. It is his contention that the Saudis want the roads and bridges rebuilt for the express purpose of being able to move the military men and machinery into Saudi-controlled areas from whence they could solidify their hold and attack Houthi-held areas, like Sana'a.

The inspirational Saba Yallas can be found on Facebook

He pointed out that Germany's great Autobahn system was first built in earnest by Hitler between 1936 and 1943. It turned out to be of limited value in the war effort, however, as it was much more efficient to use trains than trucks, tanks couldn't use the highway, and there was a scarcity of gasoline. It was, however, frequently used for landing strips for airplanes.

Saudi Arabia has no shortage of gasoline, and no railways running into Yemen, in fact, Yemen has no railways. Saudi Arabia has lots of armoured vehicles and personnel carriers which they have purchased from the west, Canada included, and they are well suited for travel on highways. 

Part of the infrastructure is certainly likely to be airport runway resurfacing which will be very useful for tactical air warfare. They will be able to protect that infrastructure while they pulverize Sana'a very effectively from airports within Yemen.

So, it has become obvious that this $10b gift is most likely to lead to more death and destruction of a beautiful people and a beautiful country. Proxy wars are flat-out evil! 

The west needs to stop selling military vehicles and weapons to Saudi Arabia, and Russia needs to stop selling them to Iran. The possibility of that happening, however, is slightly less than zero. These are the people who run the world - the Oligarchs who make money every time a woman or child is killed, raped, or maimed, and they are laughing all the way to their off-shore bank.

 Pray for Yemen, please.

Danish Blasphemy Law Used for First Time in 46 Years after Man Burns Quran

© Esam Omran al-Fetori / Reuters

A man who filmed himself burning the Quran and posted the video on Facebook has become the first person to be charged under Denmark's blasphemy law since 1971.

The 42 year old from northern Jutland filmed himself burning the sacred book of Islam in his backyard on December 27, 2015. He then posted the video on an anti-Islamic Facebook page called, ‘Yes to freedom – no to Islam’

“Consider your neighbour: it stinks when it burns," the man wrote in text accompanying the post.

“It is the prosecution's view that circumstances involving the burning of holy books such as the Bible and the Quran can, in certain cases, be a violation of the blasphemy clause, which covers public scorn or mockery of religion,” Danish prosecutor Jan Reckendorff said in a statement announcing his decision to bring charges over the incident.

"It is our opinion that the circumstances of this case implies that there should be a prosecution so that the courts now have the opportunity to take a position on the matter.”

Publicly insulting or degrading religious doctrines or worship is punishable under clause 140 of Denmark’s criminal code. Anyone found guilty can be imprisoned or fined, however this is only the fourth time a blasphemy prosecution has been attempted in the country.

In 1938 four people were sentenced for putting up anti-Semitic posters and leaflets and in 1946 two people were fined after acting out a “baptism” at a ball in Copenhagen. The last prosecution attempt came 46 years ago in 1971, when two Denmark Radio producers were acquitted after airing a song mocking Christianity.

Several other cases have been considered without charges being brought. The most controversial incident came in 2005 when prosecutors declined to invoke the blasphemy legislation after the Jyllands-Posten newspaper published cartoons mocking the prophet Mohammed.

As Islamic scholars believe that the Koran forbids depictions of the prophet Mohammed, the cartoons generated widespread anger among Muslims across the world.

The ‘cartoon crisis’ sparked several violent protests as angry demonstrators burned Danish flags and torched diplomatic offices. The Irish Times reports that more than 200 deaths have been linked to the controversy.

The Quran may forbid depictions of Mohammed - why, I do not know, he was just a prophet, but the Quran does not apply to non-Muslims. Just as the Bible does not apply to non-Christians except as reference to their judgment and ultimate destiny. There are billions of depictions of Jesus Christ who is the Son of God, not a mere prophet, and while the Bible forbids it, Christians don't go insane when they see it. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

US Life Expectancy Lowest of High Income Countries and Expected to Lag Behind Further

Study says children born in the USA in 2030 will die 
4-4.5 years sooner than Canadians

© Brendan McDermid / Reuters

Lack of access to universal health coverage, high rates of obesity, and homicide, all contribute to lagging life expectancies for American men and women. The US is predicted to fall farther behind other countries in the next 20 years, researchers say.

While the overall study found life expectancy is likely to rise in all 35 industrialized countries with at least 65 percent for women and 85 percent for men, the size of the increase varies.

Led by Imperial College London, the study was conducted in collaboration with the World Health Organization and published in medical journal The Lancet on Tuesday.

The United States is likely to see only small improvements: Rising 2.1 years (from 81.2 in 2010 to 83.3 in 2030) for women and 3.0 years (76.5 to 79.5) for men. US life expectancy is already lower than most other high-income nations and by 2030 is predicted to lag behind countries such as Croatia and Mexico.

“The USA has the highest child and maternal mortality, homicide rate, and body-mass index of any high-income country, and was the first of high-income countries to experience a halt or possibly reversal of increase in height in adulthood, which is associated with higher longevity,” the study’s authors wrote.

Life expectancies of both men and women in the US will rise in 2030 to almost exactly equal to 
Canada's life expectancies in 2010. Canada's life expectancies will increase by about 4.5 years by then.

Among their findings: Life expectancy for Korean women born in 2030 in South Korea will expect to have life expectancy of 90.8 years, French women 88.6 years, and Japanese women 88.4 years. South Korean men will have a higher life expectancy of 84.1 years, Australian men 84.0 years, and Swiss men 84.0 years.

“Many people used to believe that 90 years is the upper limit for life expectancy, but this research suggests we will break the 90-year barrier,”said lead author Majid Ezzati, a professor in the School of Public Health at Imperial College in a statement. “I don’t believe we’re anywhere near the upper limit of life expectancy – if there even is one.”

Life expectancy is calculated by assessing the age at which people die across the whole population. A country with high childhood mortality rates will lower national life expectancy.

The team used 21 models based on weather forecasting techniques to analyze long-term patters of mortality and longevity in 35 industrialized countries, and combined the results depending on how well the models performed.

Ranking the countries by predicted rises in life expectancy from 2010-20130 for women and men places the US in the bottom four in each case, along with Japan, Bulgaria and Macedonia.

In countries where life expectancy is likely to increase the most, the increases are considerably higher. A baby girl born in 2030 can expect to live 6.6 years longer in South Korea, 4.7 years longer in Slovenia, and 4.4. years longer in Portugal than a baby girl born in 2010. For baby boys, the highest predicted increases in life expectancy are 7.5 years in Hungry, 7.0 years in South Korea and 6.4 years in Slovenia.

The study’s authors held that the high rates of increase in South Korea could be a result of rising economic status, which has improved children’s nutrition, lowered blood pressure, decreased levels of smoking, and increased access to healthcare and medical technology. In the US, the authors found that large socioeconomic inequalities and the lack of universal health care contributed to declines in the US.

‘It’s No Paradise’: Switzerland Funds Nigerian TV Series to Discourage Migrants from Coming

The filming of The Missing Steps in Bern, Switzerland. (Still from Swissinfo video)

Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) is spending $450,000 on filming a TV series with African actors showing the perils of living in Europe illegally, which will be shown on Nigerian television.

“We have seen that a lack of information or false information is one of the main problems that leads to illegal migration,” SEM spokesman Lukas Rieder told The Local. “Human traffickers tell potential migrants that Switzerland is paradise, it's El Dorado. But that's not true. We want to provide objective information about the dangers of passage, and the dangers of living in Switzerland without a permit, for example.”

The series, called Missing Steps, helmed by well-known Nigerian actor and director Charles Okafor, tells the story of a 20-something university-educated protagonist. He gets into debt and flees to the landlocked European state to solve his financial problems, with the help of traffickers.

But he is denied asylum by the Swiss authorities, and deported to his own country – poor, isolated and unhappy.

“He pays a high price,” summed up Okafor in an interview with national broadcaster Swissinfo.

Okafor is convinced that the series – which has 13 episodes, lasting 45 minutes each and costs less than an episode of many Western-made soaps, not to mention big-budget hits like Game of Thrones – is good value for money, particularly if it can be shown across multiple African states.

“Television globally is a very powerful medium, because it has the capacity to reach a vast mass – a critical mass of people… even hundreds of millions of viewers,” said Okafor.

But experts have questioned how true-to-life and persuasive a drama with such a didactic and political purpose can be.

On the one hand, asylum is genuinely hard to obtain in Switzerland. Last year over 27,000 people applied, with less than 1,300 cases processed. A total of 4.1 percent of all applicants were Nigerians. Only three people were granted asylum and six others received temporary admissions.

Deportation is less straightforward. Nationwide statistics are not collated, but despite several public referenda approving a tighter process, it remains an unresolved issue – even two-thirds of the country’s prison population are foreigners, whether with or without papers, who are not facing immediate deportation.

“Most people are fully aware of the risks of migration, thanks to friends and family,” Jill Alpes, a migration expert, told Swissinfo. “Not only do they not get any new information, but people choose carefully which sources to trust.”

Meanwhile, Amnesty International says that Switzerland, which signed a migration regulation agreement with Nigeria in 2011, should strive to reduce the incentive for asylum seekers to come, as opposed to dealing with them once they cross its borders.

“Switzerland should work to improve the human rights situation and the allocation of resources in Nigeria. They are fundamental aspects if we want people to have the opportunity to stay in their own country,” the NGO’s Denise Graf told Swissinfo.

Switzerland is far from being the only European nation trying to discourage asylum seekers from trying to go to Europe through the media. Germany, Italy and Australia have also produced videos with messages aimed at potential migrants. Some also tried ad campaigns in countries like Afghanistan to warn people there against dealing with traffickers.

Switzerland and Nigeria

Saudi Arabia Gives Yemeni Gov't $10bn to Rebuild – President

FILE PHOTO © Naif Rahma / Reuters

Yemen has received $10 billion from Saudi Arabia to rebuild the war-torn country, the Riyadh-backed Yemeni president said.

“Saudi Arabia has provided Yemen with $10 billion,” Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi said, as cited by Al Arabiya, during a meeting of his Aden-based government on Wednesday.

A total of $8 billion from the sum will be spent on the reconstruction of government-held areas, with another $2 billion to be used to support Yemen’s National Bank, he explained.

According to the president, restoring normal functioning of electricity and the water supply, health, education and communications are among the “urgent priorities” for his government.

Yemen is going through a massive humanitarian crisis as a result of the conflict between the Sunni Muslim government of Hadi and the Shia Houthi rebels united with forces loyal to ex-president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

This is widely seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran as the latter backs the Houthis in an attempt to spread its influence throughout the region. 

The wisdom of spending billions rebuilding while the war is still in progress escapes me, but if it alleviates some of the incredible suffering of the people, then God bless it. If it's just an exercise in easing Saudi consciences or trying to look good to the world, that would be unfortunate.

There has so far been no official confirmation of $10 financial aid to Yemen by Saudi officials.

Saudi Arabia's numerous war crimes with USA & UK complicit

Saudi Arabia has contributed to the current state of affairs in Yemen as it has headed an international coalition against the Houthis since March 2015.

The coalition has imposed a blockade of the country and launched an air campaign to return Hadi to power.

Riyadh and its allies have been accused of war crimes by humanitarian groups after their airstrikes hit residential areas and public gatherings on numerous occasions.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported in October that the Saudi coalition, “with direct military support from the US and assistance from the UK,” conducted at least 58 “unlawful airstrikes.”

Earlier this week, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, said that around 10,000 have been killed in the country since Saudi Arabia intervened, with 7 million people close to starvation.

According to World Health Organization figures, more than 7,400 people have been killed, with around 1,400 of them being children.

In August, the UN said that it holds the action of the Saudi-led coalition as the reason for the majority of deaths among civilians and devastation.

Despite some military gains made by the government in recent months, the conflict in Yemen is far from being over as the Houthis remain in control of capital Sanaa, most of the central and northern highlands and the coast around Hodeida.

Hadi’s presidency is contested by the 10-member presidential council headed by Saleh Ali al-Sammad, which was established by the Houthis last year.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Offer to Turn the Gaza Strip into Singapore

Hate wins over prosperity!
In other words - they would rather be poor and sacrifice their children, and hate the Jews, than be happy, comfortable and live in peace
by Bassam Tawil

Whither the future of Gaza: to be "the Singapore of the Middle East," or to more terrorism and war? Sadly, Hamas does not want a new "Singapore" in the Middle East. Hamas wants Israel
to disappear from the face of the earth. The welfare of Palestinians living
under its rule is the last thing on the mind of Hamas.

The Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas has once again demonstrated its priorities: killing Jews. That clearly takes precedence over easing the plight of the two million Palestinians living under its rule in the Gaza Strip.

Since Hamas violently seized control of the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007, the conditions of the Palestinians living there have gone from bad to worse. Crisis after crisis has hit those under the Hamas rule; electricity and water as well as lack of medicine and proper medical care are in dangerously short supply.

Disputes between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have left the Gaza Strip dangerously short of fuel, resulting in massive power outages. Palestinians there consequently have had to resort to using wood for cooking and heating. Hamas, which has brought about three wars that wreaked havoc on its people, is unable to provide them with basic needs.

Last week, Hamas received an offer that no sane entity would turn down. It is to be noted that the offer did not come from Hamas's friends and allies in Iran and the Arab and Islamic world. Rather, the offer, which promises to turn the Gaza Strip, where most residents live in the poverty of "refugee camps," into "the Singapore of the Middle East," came from Israel.

Specifically, the offer was made by Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who proposed building a seaport and an airport, as well as industrial zones that would help create 40,000 jobs in the Gaza Strip, if Hamas agreed to demilitarization and to dismantling the tunnels and rocket systems it has built up.

"The Gazans must understand that Israel, which withdrew from the Gaza Strip to the last millimeter, is not the source of their suffering -- it is the Hamas leadership, which doesn't take their needs into consideration," Lieberman said in a televised message to the residents of the Gaza Strip. "The moment Hamas gives up its tunnels and rockets, we'll be the first to invest."

Only Israel has ever made such an offer to Hamas. Such a plan would vastly improve the living conditions of the Gaza Strip population. All Hamas is required to do is abandon its weapons and plans to kill Jews, and return the bodies of missing Israeli soldiers.

A seaport and an airport would place the Gaza Strip on the global map and open it to investors not only from Israel, but from many other countries as well. Arab and Islamic states, however, are unlikely to rush in to invest in Gaza because, by and large, they despise the Palestinians. One of these countries, Egypt, imposes strict travel restrictions on the Palestinians in Gaza by keeping the Rafah border crossing closed for most days of the year. The Palestinians of the Gaza Strip are considered personae non gratae in many Arab and Islamic countries. Why? Perhaps because they see them as a security threat. Or perhaps simply because they hate their Arab brothers.

Still, there is no shortage of investors in the West who, if given the opportunity and the proper political climate, would not hesitate to invest their money in the Gaza Strip.

Gaza City

Hamas does not want prosperity for Gazans

Sadly for the residents of Gaza, none of this is going to happen. Their leaders in Hamas, some of whom have accumulated large fortunes and are living comfortable lives in oil-rich Gulf countries, are not interested in alleviating their people's misery. On the contrary; Hamas wants its people suffering, as bitter Palestinians are perfect candidates for recruitment to the jihad (holy war) against Israel, the Jews and the West.

But all of this takes some spin -- at which Hamas, like its rival, the Palestinian Authority, is masterful. Whatever goes wrong in their territories as a result of their failed policies, Israel is to blame.

Israel's latest offer to clean up the murderous mess that is now the Gaza Strip was rejected within hours of its delivery. One Hamas spokesman after the other made it clear that the Islamic movement is not interested in turning the Gaza Strip into "the Singapore of the Middle East," but rather wishes to maintain its current status as a base for jihad and the promotion of extremist ideology, anti-Semitism and anti-Western sentiments.

Why did Hamas reject an offer for a seaport, airport and tens of thousands of jobs for Palestinians? Because Hamas does not see its conflict with Israel as an economic issue. The dispute is not about improving the living conditions of Palestinians, as far as Hamas is concerned. Instead, it is about the very existence of Israel.

"The Israeli offer is a silly one," explained Palestinian political analyst Ibrahim Al-Madhoun. "Hamas rejected it because Hamas does not wish to turn the case of liberating the land and Palestinians into an economic issue."

To clarify further: Hamas does not want a new "Singapore" in the Middle East. Hamas wants Israel to disappear from the Middle East and ideally from the face of the earth. The welfare of Palestinians living under its rule is the last thing on the mind of Hamas.

Strikingly, Hamas leaders openly admit all of this. "If we wanted to turn the Gaza Strip into Singapore, we could have achieved that with our own hands," declared senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar. He went on to say that Hamas is continuing to prepare for war with Israel in order to "liberate all of Palestine."

The "settlements," to them, are not Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem; they are Haifa, Jaffa (Tel Aviv), all of Jerusalem, all of Israel. Just look at any map of Palestine: the outline is identical to -- superimposed on -- Israel.

Palestinian leaders are experts at rejecting Israeli gestures and offers for peace. While Hamas continues to say "no" to ending the suffering of the people living under its thumb, the Palestinian Authority continues to reject various Israeli offers for peace. In the past two decades, Palestinian leaders have rejected the advances of all Israeli prime ministers who offered them concessions and compromise. Indeed, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority share a deadly determination to sacrifice as many Palestinians as possible in their war to destroy Israel.

Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East.

It's time for Gazans to give up this hatred, this evil. 1.7 million Arabs, mostly Palestinians, live and work in Israel and are mostly very happy. Gazans can have that happiness too not just for themselves but for their children. Sadly, too many children will grow up with nothing but hatred in their hearts and martyr themselves for a completely useless and Godless cause.

Rioting in Swedish No-Go Zone Sparks Debate

Trump was wrong about rioting in Sweden last week,
but it only took 3 days to make him right

Cars were set on fire, police were pelted with stones and civilians were beaten up as violent clashes broke out between rioters and law enforcement in the Stockholm district of Rinkeby on Monday night.

Police say seven or eight vehicles were torched in the suburb of Sweden’s capital following unrest in the area, which has a high immigrant population. It’s unclear if any immigrants were involved in the incident.

The violence was reportedly instigated after police arrested a wanted person at a metro station in Rinkeby at around 8pm. Police say between 30-50 people were involved in the disturbances.

Large crowds gathered and several cars were engulfed in flames as firefighters battled blazing wrecks while strong winds whipped flames in all directions.

A police officer was injured during the fracas, forcing law enforcement to fire several warning shots, according to Swedish public service broadcaster SVT.

No injuries were reported as a result of the shots.

The riot has prompted a heated online debate
over what constitutes a ‘no-go zone.’

Any debate in Sweden regarding Islamization is a good thing. There needs to be an end to the conspiracy of silence by the police, government and media.

Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet traced the rise of the ‘no-go’ tag, previously used in the media to describe the area affected by Monday’s riots, Rinkeby, to the publication of a Swedish police report on disadvantaged suburbs.

The December 2015 report did not specifically use the phrase ‘no-go area’, however, and in the wake of Monday’s disturbances, a Swedish journalist prompted an in-depth online debate about the use and accuracy of the term.

Rinkeby, an area in Stockholm, was the scene of street disturbances on Monday. According to police, an arrest escalated into stone-throwing at patrol units and an “officer was hit in the arm and slightly injured”. Police fired warning shots to disperse the crowd and say no injuries were reported as a result of these shots.

Following widespread coverage of overnight trouble in Stockholm, Ivar Arpi, a writer for Svenska Dagbladet, posed the ‘no-go zone’ question on Twitter:

Translation: “What do you think of the concept? What is missing, what catches?"

Swedish police have denied that there are ‘no-go zones’ in the country, reports Sverige Radio. But the term has provoked an outpouring of opinion online. “It is seriously misleading because it really means something else,” said Swedish journalist Daniel Wiklander.

Twitter users questioned whether the term correctly described areas in Sweden or if its use should be restricted to commentary about war zones. Others asked if the phrase was being misused to target and marginalise poorer urban areas.

“I understand the concept [as] the police don't go in there. Such areas are not as well known in Sweden.”

“I think that semantics are important, as Sweden's situation is discussed in international media and [they] like to use def no-go zones. In the United States no go zones mean a place where police don’t go without a very large [group]”

“‘No-go’ signals war zone and is perhaps too strong”

“In my view, [a no-go area] a neighborhood where law enforcement and health care cannot move freely without threats and residents take the law into their own hands.”

“Worth [looking] up what sort of neighborhoods get the stamp in terms of social class, crime, life of the inhabitants, etc.”

“It captures a feeling, but misses the reality.”

The discussion on ‘no go’ terminology came as Swedish opposition politician Annie Loof attacked government cuts and called for “more police & new legislation” for poorer areas.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Millions at Risk as Famine Grips Parts of South Sudan

Otherwise fertile country disrupted by prolonged civil war,
economic crisis
The Associated Press 

A mother holds her child in a hospital ward in Juba, South Sudan, on Jan. 24. Roughly 5.5 million people in South Sudan are expected to be severely food insecure and at risk of death in the coming months. (Siegfried Modola/Reuters)

​Famine has been declared in two counties of South Sudan, according to an announcement by the South Sudan government and three UN agencies, which says the calamity is the result of prolonged civil war and an entrenched economic crisis that has devastated the war-torn East African nation.

The official classification of famine highlights the human suffering caused by South Sudan's three-year civil war and even as it is declared President Salva Kiir's government is blocking food aid to some areas, according to UN officials.

More than 100,000 people in two counties of Unity state are experiencing famine and there are fears that the famine will spread as an additional one million South Sudanese are on the brink of starvation, said the announcement.

"Our worst fears have been realized," said Serge Tissot, head of the Food and Agriculture Organization in South Sudan. He said the war has disrupted the otherwise fertile country, causing civilians to rely on "whatever plants they can find and fish they can catch."

Roughly 5.5 million people, or about 50 per cent of South Sudan's population, are expected to be severely food insecure and at risk of death in the coming months, said the report. It added that nearly three-quarters of all households in the country suffer from inadequate food.

If food aid does not reach children urgently "many of them will die," said Jeremy Hopkins, head of the UN children's agency in South Sudan. Over 250,000 children are severely malnourished Hopkins said, meaning they are at risk of death.

A UN peacekeeper from Ethiopia patrols a disputed area between Sudan and South Sudan on Dec. 14, 2016. When South Sudan fought for independence in 1998, the territory suffered from a famine spurred by civil war. (Albert Gonzalez Farran/AFP/Getty Images)

Drastic decline

It is not the first time South Sudan has experienced starvation. When it fought for independence from Sudan in 1998, the territory suffered from a famine spurred by civil war. Anywhere from 70,000 to several hundred thousand people died during that famine. But Monday's declaration of starvation is solely South Sudan's creation, and a UN official blamed the country's politicians for the humanitarian crisis.

"This famine is man-made,"said Joyce Luma, head of the World Food Program in South Sudan. "There is only so much that humanitarian assistance can achieve in the absence of meaningful peace and security."

Perhaps nowhere else has civil war caused such a drastic decline in South Sudan's food security than in Central Equatoria state, according to the report. Traditionally South Sudan's breadbasket, Central Equatoria has been hit by fighting and ethnically targeted killings that began in July 2016 and have displaced over half a million residents and disrupted agricultural production. As a result, more than a third of Central Equatoria's population is now facing crisis or emergency levels of hunger, according to the report.

A United Nations plane releases sacks of food during an airdrop close on Feb. 18. Tens of thousands of people have died since civil war broke out in 2013, and the UN warns that South Sudan is at risk of genocide. (Siegfried Modola/Reuters)

Fertile land

South Sudan's widespread hunger has been compounded by an economic crisis as well. South Sudan is experiencing severe inflation and the value of its currency has plummeted 800 per cent in the past year, which has made food unaffordable for many families. When The Associated Press visited the western town of Aweil in September, the price of food had risen ten-fold in the previous 12 months.

Although it is not as significant as the effects of war and inflation, some of South Sudan's hunger crisis is the direct result of the government's action. South Sudanese government officials have blocked or placed constraints on the delivery of food aid to areas of the country, according to a UN official who insisted on anonymity because of lack of authorization to speak to the media. On Monday, the UN agencies said that unimpeded humanitarian access "is urgently needed."

Tens of thousands of people have died since civil war broke out in December 2013, and the UN warns that South Sudan is at risk of genocide. Since fighting in the capital of Juba killed hundreds of people in July, the war has uprooted more than three million people.

South Sudan - a fertile land

UN officials have contested that hunger in South Sudan is even more shocking because of the country's fertile land conditions. During her farewell briefing in November as head of the UN mission, Ellen Loj said that South Sudan has the resources and climate to feed itself.

"When I am flying up country I am always surprised to see all that fertile land and there is not anything," Loj said. "You could feed yourself plenty and I hope peace will come to South Sudan."