Prayer zone for a better, empowering, inspiring, promoting, prospering, progressing and more successful life through Christ Jesus

Posts tagged ‘Eastern Europe’

The Cold War Was Only on Vacation.


The Crimea is lost. The challenge now is to avoid a wider conflict with a Russia bent on absorbing more territory and further extending its influence into Eastern Europe.

To avoid an eventual choice between feeding Russia’s appetite for its lost empire and a hot war, European and U.S. leaders must embrace expensive and politically tough economic and defense choices.

Save petroleum, aluminum and a few less significant products, the Russian economy is broadly uncompetitive in global markets. Oil and gas account for 75 percent of exports and 50 percent of Moscow’s revenues, and Russia depends on imports from the European Union for technology and many consumer goods. It even buys ships to modernize its navy from France.

U.S. and European economic sanctions on Russian political and military leaders responsible for the Crimean invasion would make a statement, but are unlikely to have any tangible impact on Vladimir Putin’s behavior. However, if the Europeans phase out purchases of Russia’s gas, it has few options to sell it elsewhere. Putin would be starved for cash to finance his military and spread benefits to political cronies.

Replacing Russian gas — which accounts for 30 percent of European supplies — won’t be cheap or pleasant. They must frack to develop shale gas, re-embrace nuclear power and accelerate solar and other alternatives.

For French shipbuilders, German equipment manufacturers and technology and consumer goods producers throughout Europe, cutting off Russia’s most important source of hard currency to buy what they make would be wrenching. Still, it would impose far more systemically destabilizing penalties on Russia.

More than Russian guns won the referendum in the Crimea for Putin. The sad state of the economy and political corruption in the Ukraine made the former Russian possession vulnerable to reacquisition.

To halt Russian expansion, the European Union must do much more to assimilate the Ukraine and other former Soviet states into the Western economy by building infrastructure and moving significantly more industry into these regions, buying a lot more of their exports and imposing aggressive conditions for economic and political reforms in exchange for those benefits.

All of this would be provocative to Moscow and require rebuilding NATO forces, and moving those further east into Romania, the Baltic and aggressively courting cooperation with Belarus.

The Germans and the Americans have the economic resources, but have demonstrated inadequate commitments to giving real meaning to the economic and security commitments the West made to Eastern Europe, for example, through the 1994 Ukrainian security agreement, at the end of the Cold War.

Now, Putin and his political allies, chastened by the loss of an empire and emboldened by Russia’s petroleum wealth, are exploiting western neglect of former Soviet states.

In America, President Obama’s economic policies have boiled down to raising taxes, cutting defense spending and building out a European-style welfare state — universal healthcare and broadening the earned income tax credit. And he has ducked pension and benefits reform that greatly limit the punch of the U.S. military.

Stiffening NATO commitments to Eastern Europe would require German and U.S. governments to step up and pay for stronger militaries, and for the Americans to reform a bloated Pentagon.

In Germany and the United States, taxes are already quite high, even by Cold War standards, and the obvious tradeoff between guns and butter would hit the Obama and Merkel governments where it hurts most — their standing with voters who have come to expect wider and wider welfare benefits.

The greatest courage will be required from German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Barack Obama, or each will bequeath to their successors a much more dangerous world.

Russia will enjoy a stranglehold over European energy supplies and boast a modernized military to gradually coop and reclaim former Soviet states and expand its influence throughout Europe.

The Cold War never really ended, it just took a Black Sea vacation.

© 2014 Moneynews. All rights reserved.

 

GOP’s Blakeman: Hillary Could Have Prevented Russian Attack.


Hillary Clinton failed to anticipate Vladimir Putin’s designs on Ukraine territory and should have taken steps to deter Russian aggression, former Bush-era presidential assistant Bradley A. Blakeman charged Wednesday.

Blakeman noted that Clinton, the former secretary of state and leading Democratic contender for the nomination in 2016, played a high-profile role in hitting the “reset button” on U.S.-Russian relations.

“Maybe she could have prevented this if she had done her job correctly,” he said, “and had [used] the power of persuasion with our allies and others to call attention to Russia’s intentions.”

Blakeman, speaking in an exclusive Newsmax interview, said that while Hillary was pressing the reset button with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, “the Russians were pressing the reject button.”

He added: “They saw America as being weak. They saw Obama as being weak, and somebody that could be exploited.”

Clinton has come under increasing attack from Republicans in recent weeks on issues ranging from Benghazi to her advocacy of the individual mandate that became the linchpin of Obamacare. She appeared to try to get out in front of the Ukraine issue Tuesday while speaking to the media in Long Beach, Calif.

She likened Russia’s pretext for the invasion to Nazi Germany’s push for Lebensraum in the 1930s.  Said Clinton: “The ethnic Germans, the Germans by ancestry who were in places like Czechoslovakia and Romania and other places, Hitler kept saying they’re not being treated right, I must go and protect my people. And that’s what’s gotten everybody so nervous.”

Any resolution of the conflict, Clinton said, must not sanction a de facto annexation by Russia of the Crimea.

During the 2012 campaign, Clinton criticized GOP standard-bearer Mitt Romney for his view that Russia was America’s No. 1 geopolitical foe. “I think it’s somewhat dated to be looking backwards instead of being realistic about where we agree, where we don’t agree,” Clinton told CNN that April in response to Romney’s statement.

But now it appears Romney had a point, Blakeman said.

“She was so out of touch with foreign policy and relationships,” said Blakeman, “that she couldn’t see the forest for the trees that Romney was right, that Putin was no friend of the United States, and had every inclination in causing us problems whether it was in Syria or Iran, and using his power of division to conquer. And that’s exactly what he did.”

He added that Clinton should have discerned Russia’s interest in seizing Ukrainian territory and taken steps to deter it.

Blakeman is a GOP strategist and former assistant to then-President George W. Bush. Now a faculty member at Georgetown University, he is among a growing number of Republicans taking a second look at Clinton’s record in light of Putin’s unchecked militarism in central Europe.

The full geopolitical ramifications of the Russian occupation of Crimea are only now emerging.

Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, in an appearance Tuesday morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, noted that Ukraine gave up a huge arsenal of nuclear weapons in 1994 in return for Russian guarantees to honor its territorial sovereignty. Kristol said the West’s apparent tolerance for the Russian invasion sends a strong message that encourages nuclear proliferation.

“The signal it sends is not only don’t give up your nuclear weapons, [but] build nuclear weapons!” he remarked. “That will guarantee your safety. Everything else is just talk. It’s a horrible, horrible message to let get out in Europe itself, in Eastern Europe especially.”

Kristol added that the Obama administration’s view that it could induce Putin’s Russia into becoming a cooperative member of the world community — the objective of its much-maligned “reset” strategy — should be fair game for criticism.

“That was a centerpiece of Obama administration policy,” Kristol said. “…I think some of us who have been critical of that for a few years are entitled to say, ‘Can we now acknowledge that was a mistake and has failed?'”

According to Blakeman, Clinton’s role in the administration’s attempt to woo the Russians could become a major issue in the 2016 campaign — particularly if Putin continues to provoke Western powers.

Related Stories:

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By David A. Patten

How God Is Breaking Walls of Racism—in Europe.


Lee Grady and friends
No division in Christ: Lee Grady with his Gypsy friends (from left) Pastor Edgar Kovács and his son Dániel. (J. Lee Grady)

I can’t communicate too well with my friend Dániel Kovács. He doesn’t speak much English, and I only know three phrases in Hungarian. But last week we sat beside each other in a worship conference and enjoyed fellowship with the help of a translator.

Dániel is my brother in Christ. But many people in Europe look down on him because he is a Gypsy. He faces huge obstacles because Gypsies—also known as the Roma people—have the highest rates of unemployment, illiteracy and poverty in Eastern Europe, along with the lowest life expectancy rates.

Dániel and the people in his village of Uszka, in northeast Hungary, suffer from what is known as antiziganism, the hatred of Gypsies. It is racial profiling at its worst. It has plagued Europe since the Roma people arrived from India in their caravans 600 years ago. The highest Gypsy populations are in Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Hungary, Slovakia and Spain, but Gypsies are scattered all over Europe and the Middle East—and many have come to North America.

Wherever they go, they experience discrimination.

Antiziganism reached its peak during the 1940s, when German Nazis murdered between 250,000 and 500,000 Gypsies in concentration camps. Like the Jews, many Gypsies were starved or gassed; others were sterilized. Scientists also used Gypsies as human guinea pigs for diabolical experiments because they felt their slightly darker skin made them racially inferior.

The Gypsy genocide in Europe was called “the devouring.” But even though Europeans eventually condemned what the Nazis did, antiziganist feelings have remained strong. Today, Gypsy children are still segregated in their own substandard schools, and Gypsy adults are denied work. Many Gypsies resort to crime in order to exist in this oppressed state, thus reinforcing the stereotype that they are all criminals.

Racism against Gypsies has been compared to what African-Americans suffered in the United States in the Jim Crow era or what blacks endured in the apartheid years in South Africa. Up until the 1960s in England, it was common to see signs in pubs that read “NO BLACKS, NO DOGS, NO GYPSIES.”

A poll in England just 10 years ago showed that a third of British people still have racist feelings toward Gypsies. These feelings are even stronger in Eastern Europe, where Gypsies are viewed as a public health threat. Some people fear serious violence could erupt in Hungary because anti-Gypsy sentiment is being fueled by right-wing politicians.

Zsolt Bayer, a Hungarian journalist who is now an elected official representing the Fidesz Party, grabbed headlines in January of this year when he made this shocking statement: “Most Gypsies are not suitable for cohabitation. They are not suitable for being among people. Most are animals and behave like animals. They shouldn’t be tolerated or understood but stamped out.”

Statements from leaders like Bayer have fueled suspicion of Gypsies, causing an increase in the number of racially motivated assaults of Gypsy people in Eastern Europe. Romanis have been attacked in their homes, in workplaces and in markets. The victims of these incidents of racial profiling include children and the elderly.

Yet amid the darkness of racism in Hungary, a bright light is shining among Pentecostal and charismatic Christians who have been building bridges of reconciliation and healing. Gypsy people have been open to the moving of the Holy Spirit for many years, and ethnic Hungarian churches are working in partnership with them.

When I preached at a worship conference last week in the city of Debrecen, I invited my friend Dániel; his father, who is a Gypsy pastor; and two other Gypsy guys to perform a popular Gypsy praise chorus for everyone. The audience cheered, not just because Dániel’s team performed so skillfully, but also because Hungarian Christians realize God is breaking down walls that man has not been able to dismantle for centuries.

And I know the same God who is tearing down the stronghold of antiziganism in Europe can break racism in America—even when the Trayvon Martin case in Florida seems to have reinforced racial divisions in our country.

The apostle Paul wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28, NASB). That verse has broad application: to Native Americans who have suffered on our reservations; to Aborigines who have been marginalized in Australia; to warring tribes in Africa; to Gypsies in Europe; and to African-American men who feel they are labled criminals simply because of their skin color.

Racism is alive and well in the world today, and it will never be stopped by juries, street protests, riots or even legislation. Christ alone, through the power of the Holy Spirit, can give us the kind of love that looks beyond the outside to see the heart.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

J. LEE GRADY

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of The Mordecai Project (themordecaiproject.org). You can follow him on Twitter at @leegrady. He is the author of The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale and other books.

Foreign Affairs Experts: US Must Bolster Frontline Allies.


The United States needs to do a better job of supporting the countries most threatened by the aggression of China, Russia, and Iran, two foreign policy experts write in The Wall Street Journal.

They are A. Wess Mitchell, president of the Center for European Policy Analysis, and Jakub Grygiel, professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Countries as disparate as Poland, Singapore, and Saudi Arabia are engaged in an arms buildup, they note.

Urgent: Should the NSA Spy on Americans? Vote Here Now 

“In an arc that stretches from Eastern Europe to the Persian Gulf to East Asia, vulnerable states on the outer periphery of U.S. power are re-examining their strategic menus in the face of rising or revisionist powers, most notably China, Russia and Iran,” Mitchell and Grygiel state.

These vulnerable nations feel compelled to act as a result of U.S. inaction, they say.

“The frenzy of activity … shows that all is not well in these regional ecosystems. America’s frontline allies are less confident of U.S. strength and fidelity,” the duo writes.

“This is partly a result of recent U.S. policy, which has often seemed to downgrade alliances in favor of accommodation with large, authoritarian powers,” they say. They are also worried about U.S. defense spending cuts and the shrinking U.S. Navy, Mitchell and Grygiel write.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Dan Weil

Top 10 Rudest Things People Do in Church.


talking on phone

It doesn’t bother me anymore to hear a phone ringing during a church service. It’s part of life in the 21st century. But I’ll admit I was shocked last month when I heard a ringtone while I was preaching—and a woman seated in the third row pulled her phone out of her purse and began a lengthy conversation as if she were in the waiting room of a beauty parlor.

That incident prompted me to post a question on Facebook the next day. I asked my friends to share their own stories of rudeness in church. That triggered an avalanche of pent-up frustration about crinkly peppermint wrappers, loud music, smelly feet (yes, someone took off their shoes during the service), unruly children, coffee-sipping saints and parishioners who try to finish their pastors’ sentences during sermons.

When I tallied the responses, I came up with this list of the rudest things people do in church:

1. Talking during a service.

2. Texting or surfing the web during a service. (One person mentioned seeing people playing video games on their phones.)

3. Sleeping—or snoring!—during a sermon.

4. Clipping fingernails during church. (I was amazed at how many people listed this offense. One person said his church’s sound technician clipped his nails routinely during the sermon, and it was amplified over the loud speaker.)

5. Answering a ringing phone in church.

6. Constantly getting up and leaving the auditorium, presumably to use the restroom.

7. Walking out of a service early, especially during a prayer.

8. Letting babies cry incessantly in the service.

9. Chewing or smacking gum. (One friend from Puerto Rico said he is particularly annoyed when people “chew gum like a goat.”)

10. Public display of affection. (One person complained about a man and wife who enjoy giving each other back rubs during worship.)

Those were the most common replies. Other infractions mentioned in my unscientific poll included (1) “Pushing people to the floor while praying for them”; (2) “Saying ‘Amen’ 100 times during the sermon”; (3) “Taking change from the offering plate”; (4) “Swearing in church” (I didn’t ask for the details on that!); and (5) “Drinking beverages during the entire service.”

But as I mused over these replies, I couldn’t help but wonder: What does God consider rude?

I don’t think He’s too annoyed by crying babies or rambunctious children. Nor do I think God is offended if a husband and wife get slightly cozy in church. And surely God has compassion for a person whose tiny bladder forces them to go to the restroom more often than everyone else. Some of us just need to lighten up and extend grace to latecomers, fidgety kids, teeth-grinders, young mothers with infants and people who have to report to work promptly at 1 p.m.

But when I look at the Bible, it’s obvious God doesn’t like it when people refuse to focus their attention when He’s talking. He has called us to listen. Moses told the Hebrews they would be blessed if theylistened to God’s commandments (Deut. 11:27, NASB). Solomon said that when we come to God’s house we should “draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools” (Eccl. 5:1, emphasis added).

Isaiah said that God awakened him “to listen as a disciple” (Isa. 50:4, emphasis added), while Jeremiah rebuked Israel because they “did not listen or incline their ears” (Jer. 17:23, emphasis added). And when Jesus was glorified in His transfiguration, the Father declared, “Listen to Him!” (Luke 9:35, emphasis added). There is no possible way we can please God or be His faithful followers if we don’t learn to listen.

Yet today we live in a distracted culture. We are sleep-deprived multitaskers. We surf the web while we watch TV; we text while we drive; we tweet while we work; we take calls when we are meeting friends for conversation. Some people even crash into each other while walking on sidewalks because they are too busy Googling to see another distracted Googler headed straight toward them.

We are so focused on everything that we can’t focus on anything. I sometimes wonder if the proliferation of fast food, sugary drinks, movies on demand, “smart” phones and 24-hour news isn’t rewiring our brains so we can’t focus on what’s really important. We’re turning into media zombies.

I’m not bashing technology. But we could lose the art of discipleship if we don’t reclaim the habit of careful listening. That means when we come to church, especially, we should not just turn off our phones but also tune out all other distractions so we can focus on what God is saying to us—through the preacher, the worship songs, the prayers and the Holy Spirit’s still, small voice.

Please don’t be rude to God. Don’t just go to church. Go and hear the word of the Lord. Don’t talk, text, sleep or take calls when He is speaking. Listen as if your life depended on it.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

J. LEE GRADY


J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of the Mordecai Project(themordecaiproject.org). You can follow him on Twitter at @leegrady. He is ministering in Eastern Europe this week.

Romanians, Bulgarians answer UK immigration fears.


RELATED CONTENT

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — The scaremongering is all overBritish tabloids: Romanians and Bulgarians (Pickpockets! Scam artists! Scroungers!) flooding into the UK by the thousands once work restrictions are lifted next year.

Tired of the stereotypes, some are striking back.

One Romanian newspaper is running ads questioning why anyone in their right mind would head for an island with bad weather and worse food, when they could stay in a country where: “Half of our women look like Kate. The other half, like her sister.” — a quip about the glamorous Middleton sisters who are popular in the Romanian press.

“Our draft beer is cheaper than your bottled water,” boasts a second ad in online Gandul, while another notes that Prince Charles bought a house in Romania in 2005.

Behind the tongue-in-cheek campaign is a serious message forBritain.

Romanians and Bulgarians see themselves as hard-working, skilled employees with excellent English who already contribute to Britain’s economy. They say that reports they will bleed dry the welfare system once EU restrictions are lifted are both exaggerated and offensive.

“We are mocked, denigrated and made to feel like third-class citizens,” said Gandul editorial director Claudiu Pandaru. “This is a humorous, good-mannered response. We want to show the British that we have two important reserves: intelligence and humor.”

Bulgarian construction worker Dimitar Dimitrov, who has lived and worked in London since 2010, feels insulted. “I am a European citizen, like thousands of my compatriots here, and I don’t understand why we are discriminated against. I am working probably harder than every single citizen of Her Majesty, and contributing to the economy in the UK with my taxes and social security payments,” he told Bulgarian media.

In the UK, statistics show that almost 1 million Eastern Europeans have come to Britain over the past decade, and data from the 2011 census showed that Polish is now the second-most common tongue in the country. Romania and Bulgaria are the EU’s poorest nations.

Britain’s jingoistic tabloid press has been stoking fears of a second wave of migrants next year. The Daily Star spoke of a “migrants flood” and the Sun warned of a “border alert.”

For its part, the British government has responded to such fears by saying it is considering “options” to deter a potentially huge influx of Romanians and Bulgarians. Ideas include ads explaining that new immigrants could face restrictions on what welfare benefits they can claim, or be deported if they fail to get a job.

Romanians acknowledge that some of their citizens have given the country a bad name with ATM scams, begging and pickpocketing. But they insist these cases are a minority, with most of their citizens law-abiding, taxpaying citizens.

Some British commentators have scolded their compatriots for sowing fear.

Robert Shrimsley in the Financial Times noted sardonically that “as our friends the Poles discovered, the British can tolerate anything except hardworking people who come over here to do the low-paid jobs we can’t be bothered to do ourselves.”

___

Associated Press writers Veselin Toshkov in Sofia, Bulgaria, and Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By ALISON MUTLER | Associated Press

Orthodox Jewish Revival Opens Niche for Yiddish News.


Samuel Norich, Forverts
Samuel Norich, president of the Forward Association, which owns the Yiddish news outlet as well as the separately produced and independently staffed English-language ‘Forward,’ holds up the publication while sitting next to a computer with the website displayed.

The rapid revival of strict Orthodox Jewish communities that has shifted New York City’s religious demographic and transformed Israel’s political landscape has created a new market niche for a 115-year-old Yiddish newspaper.

Next Monday, Forverts (Forward) will launch a daily news website for Yiddish speakers who are bringing the language of Eastern Europe‘s Ashkenazi Jews back from its near-death experience when millions of speakers perished in the Holocaust.

The New York-based weekly, launched in 1897 as a crusading socialist daily for Jewish immigrants to the United States, has been in slow decline since 1945.

It cut back to weekly from daily publishing in 1983 and launched an English-language weekly in 1990.

“The website is going for an international audience,” said associate editor Itzik Gottesman, noting the ranks of native speakers, mostly from Hasidic and yeshiva (religious school) backgrounds, was now booming in the United States, Israel and other countries.

“Research in New York City said there are 80,000 Hasidim who speak Yiddish at home. That population is exploding,” he said.

In Israel, Yiddish is the language of many Haredim (“those who tremble before God”), whose tradition of large families has propelled them from a tiny minority decades ago to a politically influential 10 percent bloc of the population.

About one-quarter of all Israeli first grade pupils are now from Haredi or “ultra-Orthodox” families. In the New York area, more than one-third of all Jewish children are Hasidic.

“We will have a growing Hasidic audience,” publisher Samuel Norich said by telephone from the paper’s office in lower Manhattan.

That prospect is not without irony. In its pre-war heyday, more pious Jews saw Forverts as anti-religion and “not kosher.” Although it covers religion, its editorial line is mostly secular and liberal.

Secular vs. Religious Readers
A vibrant German dialect peppered with Hebrew and Slavic words and written in Hebrew letters, Yiddish was a major language in eastern Europe in the early 20th century.

With the big influx of many tens of thousands of Jews fleeing the Holocaust to the United States and particularly the east coast, it became an important ingredient in the rich mix of the language of New York City. Several words have been adopted into English such as “chutzpah” (brazen self-confidence) and “shlemiel” (chump).

The fastest-growing Hasidic groups in the New York borough of Brooklyn now are tightly-knit communities with their own printed Yiddish weeklies. Many computers are equipped with filters to screen out non-Orthodox media.

“Our site is not intended to be for everybody. Some will be offended by the photographs of women,” Norich said. Some ultra-Orthodox publications never print pictures of women.

“There have always been some Hasidim and yeshiva people who have read the Forverts, but usually they read it underneath their own Yiddish newspaper so nobody should know it,” he said.

“But on the Internet, where you can read it in the privacy of your own home or laptop, it’s easier to do what is frowned upon in the community and consume forbidden fruit.”

Forverts’ Yiddish website will include blogs by Hasidic writers, retaining the slightly different grammar and spelling they use. But the authors will hide behind pseudonyms to avoid criticism from their own communities.

Language Problems
One problem is that many potential visitors to the website can’t easily read Yiddish. Younger fans may have studied it at universities as a foreign language, while older Jews spoke it with parents or grandparents but never learned to read it.

For these users, the website will also carry audio reports and videos with English subtitles. Written reports —from correspondents in the United States, Israel, Russia, Poland, France, Argentina and Australia—will have an online dictionary so that the English translation of a word is only a click away.

“We want to draw people whose Yiddish level is not good enough to read the printed Forverts,” Gottesman said.

“The idea of the website is to be the hub of the Yiddish cultural world, for the students, the older people and the Hasidim. We hope to get everyone to this website.”

The English-language Forward has tripled its online readership in the last two years and its print output has stayed stable at 29,000 copies a week, which is estimated to reach 80,000 readers.

The Yiddish Forverts has a print run of 2,100 copies and about 6,000 readers. Shifting staff to the website, which editors hope can grow as quickly as the English website, means the print edition will have to be reduced to appearing once every other week.

The print edition will continue even though more than half its readers are in their 80s and 90s. About one-third of its subscribers also buy the English-language paper because the two are not simply translations of each other.

“The Yiddish paper has much more coverage of Ashkenazic culture, Yiddish culture, European Jewish history of the last century and the Soviet period than the English paper has,” Norich said. Half the Yiddish readers are Holocaust survivors who arrived in the United States between 1945 and 1955.

Serving these readers is a top priority for the non-profit foundation that publishes the two papers.

“This is a core mission for us,” Norich declared. “This is our origin and we’re not going to abandon it.”

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.


Editing by Sonya Hepinstall.

© 2013 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

Tag Cloud