Jewish school in UK faces closure for not teaching LGBT issues

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An orthodox Jewish school for girls in London may be closed down for refusing to teach its students about homosexuality and gender reassignment.

The private school has pupils ranging from 3 years old to 8.

In the UK, all schools, including private religious institutions, must adhere to the Equality Act of 2010, or they can be closed.

The Vishnitz Girls School has defied the agency enforcing the requirement three times.  The agency says that the school’s insistence on abiding by the teachings of the Torah (and presumably its position that its students are too young for such topics) place the school in violation of “fundamental British values.”  Refusing to teach the young children about homosexuality and transgenderism “restricts pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.”

This is happening in a “free country.”  Could it someday happen in ours?

I wonder how Christian schools in the UK are responding to this requirement.  Does anyone know? [Read more…]

The Thucydides trap

The White House is full of aficionados of Thucydides, the Greek historian and chronicler of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta.  In fact, Thucydides is very much in vogue today among lots of diplomats and foreign policy experts.  In the White House, Defense Secretary James Mattis, National Security advisor H. R. McMaster, and Trump’s key advisor Steve Bannon are way into Thucydides.

Recently, international affairs scholar Graham Allison was invited to the White House to brief staffers on the subject of his new book:  Destined for War:  Can America and China Escape Thucydides’ Trap?

He applies Thucydides’ explanation of the Peloponnesian War:  “What made war inevitable was the growth of Athenian power and the fear which this caused in Sparta.”

Established powers fear the rise of new powers.  Just as the United States fears the rise of China.  Or might come to fear the rise of China as it becomes more and more powerful and influential in the world.

Which raises the question:  At some point, will there be a war between China and the United States?

We think of fear as a deterrent, but, as Thucydides has shown and as history often bears out, fear can also motivate war.  Do you think that will happen with China and the United States?

Illustration:  “The Fall of the Athenian Army, ” by J.G.Vogt, Illustrierte Weltgeschichte, vol. 1, Leipzig (E.Wiest) 1893. (fonte) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Russia threatens to shoot down U.S. planes over Syria

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In the course of supporting a rebel faction battling not only President Assad but ISIS, U.S. fighter planes shot down a Syrian jet.  Now Russia, which supports Assad, is threatening to shoot down American and coalition aircraft.

 

Photo of Russian fighter plane by Vitaly V. Kuzmin (http://vitalykuzmin.net/?q=node/464) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0) or CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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The new mideast crisis over Qatar

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The Middle East is embroiled in a new crisis, and it has nothing to do with Israel.  Nine Arab nations have cut off all diplomatic and economic ties with the oil-rich emirate of Qatar and are expelling Qatari citizens.

Bahrain has made it a crime, punishable by 5 years in prison and a fine,  for any of its citizens to “express sympathy” for Qatar.  The United Arab Emirates will put you in prison for 15 years for expressing sympathy for Qatar, “whether it be through the means of social media, or any type of written, visual or verbal form.”

Why?  Qatar has been supporting Islamic extremists under the table for years, some of which threaten the regimes of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and these other monarchies and emirates.

But the catalyst was a report quoting the Qatari Emir expressing support for Iran and criticizing Donald Trump’s policy towards Iran.  Qatar is supposed to be Sunni Muslim, as are these other Arab countries.  Iran is Shi’ite.   Those two Islamic sects are bitter enemies, sort of like Catholics and Protestants during the 30 Years War.  That a Sunni state would support Iran feels like both heresy and betrayal.

Qatar claims that the Emir said no such thing, that the quote was “fake news” connected to a hack by Russian intelligence. U. S. Intelligence says that this could very well be the case.

At any rate, the uproar over Qatar has turned into a new crisis in the Middle East.

[Read more…]

Elections bring chaos to UK, unity to France

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Two European nations, the United Kingdom and France, held parliamentary elections, with radically different results.  The United Kingdom has a real political mess on its hands.  Whereas France has come together in a nearly unprecedented vote of national unity.

In the UK, the Conservative Party under the leadership of Prime Minister Theresa May was riding high in the polls.  So she called for a new election to increase her party’s majority as she negotiated the Brexit breakaway from the European Union.

But that was before England was attacked three times in three months by Islamic terrorists, and many voters wondered why the government had failed to stop them, especially since the perpetrators were known to authorities as potential terrorists.  Also May’s government put forward some unpopular proposals to save money, such as making the elderly and their families pay more for nursing home care, the so called “dementia tax.”

So in the new election that she called, May’s Tories were trounced, to the point of losing their majority, which is necessary to choose the prime minister!  They were 7 votes short, but a deal with the 10 delegates of Ian Paisley’s Northern Ireland party, the closest thing the UK has to a Christian right, keeps her in office.

But her party is furious with her and many Conservatives want a leadership change.  At her party’s insistence, May fired her two main advisors who came up with the bright idea of the dementia tax.  But she still may not last.

Meanwhile, France, which just elected the novice centrist Emmanuel Macron as president, voted for parliamentary representatives.  Macron didn’t run as a representative of any party, but he started a new one, the “Republic on the Move.”

It appears that his party, after the multiple rounds of voting are completed, may win as many as 400 of the 577 seats in Parliament!

Though he ran on a pro-European Union platform, Macron has appointed many conservatives to positions in his government.  And he has demolished the Left, long a fixture of French politics.  The Socialist Party of the recent President Hollande got only 10% of the vote, dropping its representation from 300 seats to 30.  Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigrant party, which some thought would defeat Macron just a few weeks ago, has dropped from 23% to 13%.

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NSA report says Russia hacked voting technology company

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The big news is that a leaker of top secret intelligence information has been arrested.  But what she leaked is unsettling.

The National Security Association report given to a reporter by a 25-year-old intelligence contractor named Reality Leigh Winner documents a Russian hack of a company that provides voting technology software, including systems that handle absentee voting and voter registration lists.  The Russian operation also targeted local election officials.  This took place shortly before election day.

No, nothing implicates Donald Trump, and the effects of the hack, if any, are unknown.  But this would make it appear that the Russians were attempting to wreak havoc with American democracy in a more direct way than was previously thought. [Read more…]