June 02, 2019 – EU Parliamentary Elections
A total of 28 countries across the European Union went to the polls on Sunday May 26th.
Both strong pro-Europe and nationalist parties made gains while the traditional center-left and center right parties saw their numbers drop again.
What does it mean?
For starters, for the first time the two centrist parties, the Conservative party and the Social Democrats, need another party to form a governing coalition in the EU Parliament.
The traditional parties did not seem to grasp how important the topic of fighting climate change was, especially to younger voters. The Greens Party both in the EU Parliament and in Germany, profited from that.
Reflecting about those at the other end of the political spectrum, Max Hofmann DW Brussels Bureau Chief stated,
“Right now, the right-wing populists as they are called, or the nationalists, don’t really have the numbers to inflict serious damage on the European Parliament or to obstruct businesses as usual.”
But if the trend continues, he warned, that outcome will be inevitable.
Italy and the Bloc
A significant victory went to Matteo Salvini’s far right Italian League (Lega) party.
Salvini commented to the press,
“Not only is the League the top party in Italy, but Marine Le Pen’s is the top party in France, and in the UK Nigel Farage’s party is first … it’s the sign of a Europe that is changing.”
The right-wing populist bloc that appears to be forming includes Italy’s Matteo Salvini and his party, France’s Marine Le Pen and her party, and Germany’s AFD.
Not everyone is concerned though because the ultra-right was not able to unite in the past. Hungary’s Prime Minister Victor Orban, for example, disagreed with other populists on a number of issues and is part of another voting group.
Hofmann took a more cautious view.
If they were to be joined by Hungary’s and Poland’s right-wing leading parties, he commented, they would be significantly more powerful.
And we can’t rule out Austria becoming a part, in spite of what happened to its Chancellor the day after the EU elections.
They still won’t powerful enough to take over the EU Parliament, but Hofmann said his concern was that history shows the effect on the establishment parties could still be a serious blow for democracy.
The voter backlash against established parties in the UK was devastating.
Ironically, the weeks old anti-EU Brexit Party of Nigel Farage ended up being the biggest winner.
Steve Baker UK Conservative MP told the media,
“The absolute stand-out here is if this had been a general election we wouldn’t have won any seats, as Conservatives, and the right-wing Brexit Party would be governing the country.”
The Head of the Berlin office of the European Council on Foreign Relations, Josef Janning, commented that,
“In the youngest age group, the Greens”, in Germany “have more votes than the CDU and SPD combined, and that is quite a remarkable change.”
Gauging the EU election results, the right-wing AFD Party now looks at the Greens, on the left, as its main competitor.
As the world gets scarier, people are increasingly deserting the traditional parties for those more to the right and left.
Perhaps, quite a few younger European voters do not feel the need to vote as their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents did; in part, because they didn’t actually experience the horrors of World War II, or the devastation from it, nor the political extremes that preceded it.
Many of those who voted for the Greens fear that humanity is headed for extinction due to Global Warming. To them, established politicians aren’t acting on the issue fast enough.
On the other hand, Hofmann says populist parties — allegedly coached by former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon — are making statements like we might have Global Warming; but it’s not man-made. And, even if it is; we can’t do anything about it. Or, they propose such things as building higher walls to keep out the oceans.
It’s worth repeating, and the major news outlets are now saying — the Europe of yesterday and today won’t be the Europe of tomorrow. But when it comes to the shifting political climate, Europe is, by no means, alone.
If the polarization of people worldwide and other societal flaws continue on unchecked; conditions on planet earth are going to get so bad, only God can save us.
Photo Credits: EU 2019 Elections courtesy of EU; Salvini by Confartigianato Imprese, License: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0; Farage by Gage Skidmore License: CC BY-SA 2.0; French Voting courtesy of EU.
May 24, 2019 – Dead Sea Going?
In late April 2019, a very interesting documentary titled “Saving the Dead Sea ” aired on PBS’s NOVA, a long running American TV science series. (It can be rented from Apple’s iTunes, as part of a NOVA package, or as an individual program from Amazon’s Prime Video.)
The episode’s description stated,
“As the Dead Sea shrinks, engineers prepare a daring solution: connect it with the Red Sea by way of a massive desalinization plant. If it works, it could stabilize the legendary lake and ease regional tensions.”
The Dead Sea is located in a highly contested area of the Middle East. The Jordan River which flows south into it, and the sea itself, serve as a divider between the Palestinian West Bank and Israel to the west and Jordan on the east.
It is technically considered a lake, since it is landlocked. However, because of its size and the fact that the water is salty, people refer to it as a sea.
Then and Now
The Dead Sea’s earliest known name is recorded in Genesis, the first section of the Judeo-Christian scriptures. There it is called “the Salt Sea”.
But, by the Time of the Roman Empire many were referring to it as the Dead Sea. It was so much saltier than the oceans, that any fish, swept into it from the sometimes swollen Jordan River, would rapidly die.
No water lifeforms, other than a few microbes, survive in it.
The Dead Sea has shrunk or expanded over the millennia. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica’s article, ” The Dead Sea “,
“It rose to its highest level, 1,275 feet (389 metres) below sea level, in 1896 but receded again after 1935 …”. To this day, it continues to shrink for a variety of reasons.
The same scriptures that preserved its earliest name also indicate that the Dead Sea will not permanently disappear, as some now fear.
You can find that in the section bearing the name of the prophet Ezekiel in chapter 47.
It states in the future the sea’s water composition will change for the better, and it will be well beyond what anyone currently expects to accomplish. This big body of water is destined to become such a dream fishing location in the future, its current name simply will not do.
More details are contained elsewhere in the book and from them one thing becomes clear: As ambitious and innovative as the desalination plan is, it won’t fully achieve the radical — indeed miraculous and restorative — change promised for the super salty lake and the arid region around it.
Photo Credits: Dead Sea by Honkanen Jonas, License: CC BY-NC 2.0; Map courtesy of CIA Maps; Fishermen by Drew Farwell, License: CC0.
April 12, 2019 – Israel
April, this year, is a significant time for the modern-day nation of Israel.
As widely reported by the media, Israel’s national elections were held on April 9, 2019. The Likud party won; and most expect her to-the-right leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to retain his position.
The Jerusalem Post and other news sources posted an April 12, 2019 Reuters article, “Explainer: Israeli Election–With the Final Count In, Who Won and Who Loss?” It clarified the role of President Reuven Rivlin of Israel in the election process. The article explained that,
“Next week Israel’s president consults with the leaders of each party about their preference for prime minister. He then names the person who he believes has the best chance of putting together a government.”
Less well known is the news reported by Israel’s Temple Institute that two more “red heifers” were born the first week of April. Their arrival was announced on its Temple Radio program on Nisan 1 — the beginning of the year on the Hebrew calendar. On the calendar used in the Western world the date was April 6, 2019.
These two join another heifer candidate born in August 2018. The Temple Institute said the three are at “an undisclosed location in the Golan Heights”. For the part a red heifer will play future events, see our January 02, 2019 article, Jerusalem Sacrificial Altar.
All are part of the Temple Institute’s Raise a Red Heifer in Israel program. The ashes from the oldest of them, if she remains qualified, could be ready as early as Autumn 2020 — or by 2021, if the religious authorities involved conclude that the red heifer has to be no younger than three years old.
Photo Credits: President by Alan Kotok, License: CC BY 2.0; Calendar date courtesy of Danny Sandinoff and Michael J. Radwin of HebCal.