Dreaming About Food: Sounds Mundane And Boring; But Is It Really?

 

Tonight has been another one of those sleepless night for me, I have these sleep issues a lot. So, after going to bed about 12:30 AM I laid there until 4 AM and decided to go ahead and get up. About the only thing I do these days is to sit here at my desk tapping around on my laptop or watching the TV. We happen to have two cats that are both spoiled rotten but the oldest of the two can get on your last nerve like he is doing right now. Earlier this past evening he was asleep in my wheelchair here beside me. All of a sudden we could here him letting out little odd sounding moans in his sleep. My wife and I both said the same thing, he is probably having a dream about food as that seems to be about the only thing he ever thinks about. He is still sitting here beside me looking up at me making different sounds, we know this routine. If I get up he will walk straight to the kitchen and sit and look up at the cabinet where the kitty treats are at, or he will run to their food bowl in the main bathroom. If he can see the bottom at any spot in the bowl he thinks he is going to starve to death if we don’t refill it. This little boy is not so little anymore, it seems like his belly is the only thing he ever thinks about while he is awake, and I really wonder if he dreams of chicken, fish, and turkey. But, then again, I am sitting here munching on peanut butter crackers and it is not like I’m skinny myself. Yet I do not recall ever actually having a dream about food, any food, not even my favorite things like fried chicken, cold seedless watermelon, white grapes or crispy bacon.

 

Moki (the cat) is the one who got me to thinking about this title and the more I thought about it the more I realized that all cat jokes aside, this is quite the serious issue. When I was a child I remember having to always clean my plate even if the items on it  tasted horrible to me, I had no choice. Every once in a while my Mom would make a comment about ‘all those starving kids in Africa’ as a way to guilt trip me I guess, yet I knew that what she was saying was the truth. When I was a child we never had an abundance of food but we always had enough so that none of us starved to death even if we did feel hungry at times. As I became an adult I came to realise that here in the U.S. we had/have millions of people who go hungry everyday, this issue is not just an African problem, it is a worldwide problem. I sometimes watch TV programs where professional Chefs go all over the world and try different dishes/foods. Some of the things these guys eat would turn my stomach before it ever made it to my mouth let alone my stomach. Yet, honestly, think about it. There are millions of people who will and do dig through garbage cans and landfill dumps everyday looking for something to eat. There is also the reality that there are many people in this world today that are literally starving to death everyday. I wonder, if a person who has not had a bite to eat in 2 or 3 weeks, do they dream of food? I have had times in my life been where I had to go without any food for 2 or 3 days each week while I was waiting on my Friday paycheck. I got used to it, it was reality, yet, I do not ever remember having a dream where I was chasing a rabbit or a squirrel around a parking lot. How about you, have you experienced hunger and there was no food in your home and no money to buy even a pack of crackers with? Have you ever had dreams about jumping out of bed and grabbing and eating the south end of a northbound skunk?

 

 

 

 

6 of 7 Nations With Worst Record of Christian Persecution Are Muslim

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘CREEPING SHARIA’ WEBSITE)

6 of 7 Nations With Worst Record of Christian Persecution Are Muslim

 

Source: Top 7 Nations With Worst Record of Christian Persecution: Report

Persecution watchdog group Aid to the Church in Need released its 2016 “Religious Freedom in the World” report on Thursday, highlighting the growing cases of intolerance around the world, particularly between the time period of June 2014 and June 2016 — coinciding with the rise of the Islamic State terror group.

The report included case by case studies of a number of different countries around the world, and the religious discrimination people of faith face. Some of the most extreme forms of oppression were experienced by people in Iraq and Syria, including Christians and Yazidis, who have been targeted in an ongoing genocide campaign by IS.

One Yazidi boy trained for jihad in Syria shared the chilling words his radical instructors told to him: “You have to kill kuffars [unbelievers] even if they are your fathers and brothers, because they belong to the wrong religion and they don’t worship God.”

The report revealed that 196 countries were examined, with 38 showing “unmistakable evidence” of significant religious freedom violations. Twenty-three of those countries were placed in the top-level “Persecution” category, while 15 others in the “Discrimination” group.

Religious freedom conditions “clearly worsened” in 14 countries, the report added, and only three — Bhutan, Egypt and Qatar — showed signs of improvement since the last study in 2014.

The seven nations where persecution was branded so extreme that “it could scarcely get any worse” include: Afghanistan, Iraq (northern), Nigeria, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Syria.

“A virulent and extremist form of Islam emerged as the number one threat to religious freedom and was revealed as the primary cause of persecution in many of the worst cases,” the report noted.

It added that “religious hyper-extremism,” such as the actions of IS in their quest to build a caliphate and kill off minorities, has been on the rise, characterized by mass killings, ‘horrific’ forms of executions, rape, and extreme torture such as burning people alive, crucifixion, or throwing victims off buildings.

The atrocities committed by Islamist radical groups in nations such as Syria, Iraq and Libya were called arguably some of the “greatest setbacks for religious freedom since the Second World War,” with victims being subjugated to a system which “insults almost every tenet of human rights.”

Other watchdog groups, such as Open Doors USA, have called on the global Church to resist being too self-centered, and instead reach out to help its brothers and sisters in need.

Open Doors President David Curry told The Christian Post in October that the factors that led to 2015 being the worst year for Christian persecution have stayed in place for 2016 as well.

“You still have rogue nations like Eritrea, North Korea, Sudan and others, who are not concerned about international justice laws, and are persecuting Christians within their government,” Curry told CP at the time, ahead of the International Day of Prayer.

“I’m not encouraged yet by the response of the global Church, but I’m hopeful that they are going to wake up and see what is happening,” he added.

How Somali Immigrants Are Revitalizing Main Street America

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

DEC 1 2016, 9:10 AM ET

How Somali Immigrants Are Revitalizing Small towns Main Street America

There’s a mom and pop grocery store in Willmar, Minnesota that carries a few items you won’t find in the freezer aisle at any Wal-Mart. Like cubed camel meat.

“We chopped it and we weigh it. You can’t get it anywhere except us,” said Abdilahi Omar. He’s the owner of Ainu Shams Grocery, which also sells goat meat, ghee, and Ethiopian flatbread.

In recent years, the arrival of thousands of Somali immigrants from East Africa has reshaped the Main Street in this tiny agricultural town and many more throughout the state. These refugees are opening businesses in once empty storefronts and introducing their customs to new customers in places once only found in America’s inner cities, where newcomers like these have traditionally settled upon arrival.

Owner of Ainu Shams Grocery in Downtown Willmar, Abdilahi Omar, 43, plans to expand his Somali imports grocery to a larger space. Ken Smith

“If you want to know what Minnesota will look like in 20 years, go to Willmar,” said Ken Warner, President of the town’s Chamber of Commerce.

Redefining the Demographic

On two square blocks along Litchfield Avenue, Willmar’s otherwise sleepy main street, Somali women run errands while talking on cell phones tucked into their hijabs and men in traditional hats called kufi sip coffee at a local café called Bihi’s.

According to the Minnesota State Census, the official Somali population here is 1,500 — though informal estimates put that number at over 2,000. Combined with the city’s Latino population, the two groups now make up close to 25 percent of Willmar’s population, which is still dominated by farmers of Swedish and Norwegian origin.

The days of family farms have passed here. Many of the large agribusinesses that have since taken their place now depend on immigrant labor.

From Civil War to Jennie-O

The first wave of Somalis came to Minnesota as refugees in the 1990s after the outbreak of civil war in their homeland. After settling in the Twin Cities, many moved to Willmar, where they found work at the local Hormel-owned Jennie-O turkey processing plant.

Today over 20 businesses in and around Main Street are Somali-owned. Many of those have used community-based financing which complies with Islamic law prohibiting the collection or payment of interest.

Despite religious and cultural differences, there are many things these Somali immigrants share with their neighbors, said Abdirizak Mahboub, a local entrepreneur here.

“We speak the language. We are God-loving people, you know, in our own perspective. We work hard,” said Mahboub, 56, who owns an interpreting agency that employs over 30 translators and interpreters and has contracts with area hospitals, courts, and law firms.

On his desk, Mahboub displays photos of his two children, both of whom grew up here and graduated from Willmar High. Without the children of immigrants like Mahboub, Willmar’s school district would have had a net loss of over 1,000 students in the school system. Now, the children of Somali and Latino immigrants represent 50 percent of the district’s population.

“That is our future. We need to embrace the diversity that will be coming in our future workforce,” said Aaron Backman, the director of Willmar’s Economic Development Commission.

Related: Trump Immigration Adviser Wrote the Book on Muslim Registry

No one is pretending that assimilation has come easy here. But there are signs that Willmar’s youngest residents are embracing both cultures. Step inside the Somali Star Restaurant and you might meet Hassan Yusuf, the 8-year-old son of owner, Bashir. Ask him his favorite food, and he won’t say camel meat.

“McDonald’s,” he says with a smile.

His proud father patted his boy on the head — and winced, just a little bit.

West Papuans Protest Against Indonesian Rule

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

JAKARTA, Indonesia — West Papuan protesters faced off with police in the Indonesian capital in a demonstration calling for the remote region’s independence.

Organizers had promised protests in other cities and said police had denied them permission to protest in central Jakarta.

The dozens of demonstrators were blocked from marching onto a busy traffic circle in the capital on Thursday by several hundred police who fired water cannons and dragged men from the crowd into waiting police vans.

Many West Papuans see Dec. 1 as the anniversary of what should have been their independence.

The Dutch colonizers of the Indonesian archipelago held onto West Papua when Indonesia became independent after World War II. It became part of Indonesia following a U.N.-supervised referendum in 1969 criticized as undemocratic.

Labor abuses found at Indonesian palm plantations supplying global companies: Amnesty

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

Labor abuses found at Indonesian palm plantations supplying global companies: Amnesty

By Eveline Danubrata and Bernadette Christina Munthe | JAKARTA

Global consumer companies, including Unilever, Nestle, Kellogg and Procter & Gamble, have sourced palm oil from Indonesian plantations where labor abuses were uncovered, Amnesty International said on Wednesday.

Children as young as eight worked in “hazardous” conditions at palm plantations run by Singapore-based Wilmar International Ltd and its suppliers on the Indonesian islands of Kalimantan and Sumatra, Amnesty said in a report.

Amnesty, which said it interviewed 120 workers, alleges that many of them worked long hours for low pay and without adequate safety equipment. The palm oil from these plantations could be traced to nine multinational companies, it said.

“Despite promising customers that there will be no exploitation in their palm oil supply chains, big brands continue to profit from appalling abuses,” said Meghna Abraham, senior investigator at Amnesty.

The NGO said it chose Wilmar as the focus of its investigation as the company is the world’s largest processor and merchandiser of palm and lauric oils, controlling more than 43 percent of the global palm oil trade.

Other companies operating palm plantations in Indonesia include Golden Agri-Resources Ltd, Indofood Agri Resources Ltd and PT Astra Agro Lestari Tbk.

Even though Indonesia had strong labor laws under which most of the abuses can amount to criminal offences, these laws were poorly enforced by the government, Amnesty said.

Wilmar said it welcomed the NGO’s report, which helps to highlight labor issues within the broader palm oil industry, but added that finding a solution requires collaboration between governments, companies and civil society organizations. (For Wilmar’s full statement, click bit.ly/2fx0q1t)

“We acknowledge that there are ongoing labor issues in the palm oil industry, and these issues could affect any palm company operating in Indonesia,” it said.

“The focus on Wilmar … is often used to draw attention to problems in the wider palm oil industry.”

Wilmar supplies around 10 percent of the total palm oil used in Nestle’s products, the Swiss food giant said in an email. Nestle said it is working with Wilmar to improve the traceability of the commodity.

“Practices such as those identified in Amnesty International’s report have no place in our supply chain,” Nestle said. The company said it would investigate allegations related to its purchase of palm oil along with its suppliers.

Procter & Gamble also said in an email it is working with Wilmar to “ensure they can remedy any potential human rights infringements in their supply chain”.

Indonesia is the world’s biggest producer of palm oil, used in everything from snacks and soaps to cosmetics and biofuels, with the sector employing millions of workers. But plantation operators say it is difficult to have complete oversight of labor conditions.

No company would “consciously” hire underage labor as that is against the law, but some plantation workers get their children to help out, Sumarjono Saragih, an official at the Indonesian Palm Oil Association, told Reuters by telephone.

“If children want to help their parents, companies cannot forbid that.”

Agus Justianto, an official at Indonesia’s environment ministry, said that a company found guilty of labor violations could get its permit revoked, but it is “not in the environment ministry’s domain.”

Indonesia’s manpower ministry did not immediately provide comment.

U.S. snack and breakfast food company Kellogg Co said it is committed to ensuring that its palm oil is obtained from “known and certified sources that are environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable”.

If Kellogg finds or is made aware of any supply chain violations, it would discuss corrective actions with its suppliers, it said. “If the concerns are not adequately addressed, we take action to remove them from our chain.”

Unilever said while significant progress has been made to tackle environmental issues associated with palm cultivation, more needs to be done to address “these deeply concerning social issues” and promised to work with its partners.

(Reporting by Eveline Danubrata and Bernadette Christina Munthe in JAKARTA; Additional reporting by Masayuki Kitano in SINGAPORE; Editing by Tom Hogue and Kenneth Maxwell)

Do All 3 Abrahamic Religions Pray To The Same God? That Answer Is Simple: No!

 

Here in the U.S. I have heard people make the statement that all ‘these religions’ pray to the same God, they just call Him/Her by a different name, so why can’t they all just get along? This statement would be nice, if it were true, but it isn’t at all correct. Mostly the people I have heard say this nonsense have been the Hollywood types or talking heads from the NYC area. People who make this assumption tend to be people who have no knowledge of what the different religions teach and usually have no knowledge of even the teachings of one religion. I know that here in the U.S. that the majority of the population tend to say that they are Christians simply because they were brought up with their families who were or said they were. Here in the States there are a lot of different Christian religions. Religions where they say that Jesus Christ is whom they believe in, even if they have not stepped foot in any Church since they were children, or maybe even never. You hear the divisions of ‘Christ’s’ Church a lot here in the form of the questions like, are you a Christian or a Catholic? Or, Catholic or Protestant. As almost all of you know there are many divisions of Christian Churches like Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Pentecostal and so on and on and on. Then there are the ‘Born Again’ Christians and groups like the Church of Christ, the Church of God and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, O, and let us not forget the Mormon Church. It is easy to see why people who have no religious upbringing or very little of it could think that all ‘Religions’ serve the same God. Even though the Catholic Church doesn’t teach exactly what I believe I honestly haven’t found a ‘Church group’ that does. Yet I am not going to stone any believers in Jesus Christ whether they are Protestant or Catholic. One of the many things I have never understood in life is how groups that believe that Jesus Christ is our Saviour and King can raise their weapons against another person who believes the same thing, in the name of Religion, in the name of Christ! This confusion isn’t just among Christian Churches, let God be the Judge, we are not qualified.

 

Now, let us go onto non-Christian Faiths for a moment. This article is about confusion and understanding, and hopefully, clarity. I know that this article is really going to upset some folks, that is not my intention. My intention is simply to speak the “Honestly Of God’s Truth” as I see it, understand it, and believe it, too you. The only real Truth is God’s Truth and His Truth is 100% pure Truth. Humans tend to dilute God’s Truth in an effort to make it fit what they want the Truth to be, that is why only God’s Truth is pure Truth, He doesn’t need to dilute anything.

 

I don’t know how much knowledge each person who is reading this has concerning Old Testament Scriptures so I will be as direct and short as I can in an effort to help people understand the connections. In the Old Testament (which was written as ‘The Law’ to the Hebrew/Jewish people) the first of the 3 ‘Founding Fathers’ of Israel was Abraham, then there was his son Isaac, and Isaac’s son Jacob. God would later change the name of Jacob to Israel. The 12 Tribes of Israel are named after Jacob’s/Israel’s 12 sons. Since the Book of Genesis but especially in the Books of Isaiah and Daniel the people of Israel are told of a Messiah/Christ/Redeemer/Saviour/Promised One, that will come and elevate Israel to the premier Nation on Earth and this Messiah/Christ will rule the Earth from a new Jerusalem that will come down from Heaven. It is believed that ‘The Christ’ will rule from His Throne upon The Temple Mount. I as a devout Christian believe this exact same thing. The big difference is that as a Christian I believe that the Hebrew/Jewish Messiah has already come in the form of Jesus (Yeshua) but the Jewish folks do not believe that Jesus was ‘The Christ’. You see, when Jesus came to the Earth in 4 B.C. to fulfill Scripture the Jewish people were looking for the ‘Messiah’ to come and remove the Roman Rulers from Israel and to set up His Kingdom then. When the people realised that Jesus was not here to do that many of the people turned on him. Jesus was simply here to fulfill what the Scriptures had to say about Him. Christians should not be at all mad at our Jewish brothers, sisters and friends for their ancestors killing Jesus as they did. First, God hardened their hearts so that they would do so and there is the reality that if Jesus had not done what He did and the people had not done what they did, none of us ‘Gentiles’ (anyone whom is not 100% of Hebrew blood) would have no chance of salvation at all. We would be no better than the dogs or pigs as far as salvation is concerned. (This is exactly what Islam does think of us Christians and Jews by the way.)

 

The Jewish faith and their beliefs are correct in that the Messiah will come from the skies and put an end to this corrupt and violent world that we all live in. Christians call this the ‘Second Advent of Christ’, in the Jewish faith they are looking for the Messiah to come for the first time. When Jesus comes for the Second time He will put an end to this sinful world and the ‘New Jerusalem’ will come down from Heaven and The Messiah will rule the whole World from the Temple Mount just as the Jewish people believe. The Jewish faith believes that all of us Christians are ‘lost’ and that we nor anyone else have any chance of salvation, only the Jewish people do. The Jewish faith does not believe that the ‘New Testament’ is the word of God. They believe in the Torah which are the first 5 books of the Old Testament that Moses authored and the rest of the Old Testament which is called the Books of the Prophets, some major Prophets, some minor.  The New Testament and the teachings of Jesus make it very plain that the ‘only way to the Father is through Him’ also that those who deny Him, deny the Father. As Christians we pray to The Father through Jesus and believe that this is the only way that our prayers have any chance of getting to the ears of The Father. Jewish folks do not believe in Jesus as the Messiah/Christ so they do not pray to Jesus and by New Testament teachings the Jewish people’s prayers have no chance of reaching The Father’s Ears. This would make the prayers of the non-believers of Christ worthless, just the same as someone who prays to Allah, Buddha or the Dali Lama, a dollar bill or as if a total atheist  prayed because they would have no faith in Jesus, nor do they believe in Him. Those statements are hard I know, but they are not meant to be hateful at all, they are just pointing out the honest differences. God has made it very plain that He will never ever abandon Israel nor His people. God is always looking out for the Nation of Israel and He always will. Salvation is to the Jew first, then to the Gentile. We as Christians as well as all other people of the Earth if they have any sense at all should always make sure to stand by Israel and Her people for they are sacred to God Himself.

 

The third of the Abrahamic Religions is the religion of Islam. As Abraham is the Father of the Jewish Nation and people he is also the Father of a boy called Ishmael through his Egyptian Servant woman Hagar. Abraham’s wife was barren until she was 100 years old so being Abraham had no heir his wife Sarah told him to lay with his Servant Hagar to obtain a son and heir. Not long after Ishmael was born God opened up the womb of Sarah and she had a son called Isaac. Sarah got jealous of Ishmael so she had Abraham chase him and his Mom away. Ishmael is the father of the Muslim people and he was of the loins of Abraham so yes, they are Abraham’s descendants. About 600 years after the death of Jesus in Jerusalem a man called Mohammad arose from the deserts of what is now Saudi Arabia and started a new religion in the cities of Medina and Mecca. Mohammad died in the city of Mecca in the year 632 A.D. but his teachings are the religion of Islam. The followers of Islam refer to God by the name of Allah. Do not be shocked that almost all religions other than Islam do not believe that the ‘Allah’ that they are praying to is actually ‘God’. Just as the Jewish believers believe that Christians are not praying to God when we pray to Jesus the Jewish people don’t believe that the Islamic people are praying to a ‘God’ when they are praying to Allah. Also, the Islamic believing people do not believe that the Christians or the Jews are praying to ‘God’ because they are not praying to Allah. Islam calls the Christian and Jewish people the ‘people of The Book’. In this they are correct, just as they know that Islam does not believe in the teachings of ‘The Book’ (The Bible). So folks, it is obvious that the people of the Islamic faith when they are praying to Allah that by the Christian and Jewish beliefs these people are just praying to the open air at best and at worst, they are praying to the Devil Himself. I am not trying to be hateful here in this article, I am just pointing out some very obvious truths between the three Abrahamic Religions where the issue is prayer.

Obama fast-tracks secretive plan to import 1,800 Muslims rejected by Australia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CREEPING SHARIA NEWS)(I HAVE ALSO SEEN THIS SAME INFORMATION IN AUSTRALIAN NEWS PAPERS IN THE PAST 4-6 WEEKS SEVERAL TIMES)

Obama fast-tracks secretive plan to import 1,800 Muslims rejected by Australia

no-refugees-demonstration

If the reported number is 1,800, expect a much larger number with many more to follow. Don’t expect big media to investigate (i.e., do their job). Source: Obama fast-tracks plan to take Muslim migrants rejected by Australia

by Leo Hohmann

The chairmen of the House and Senate judiciary committees are demanding the Obama administration provide details of a secret resettlement deal in which the U.S. has agreed to take up to 1,800 mostly Muslim asylum seekers who have been rejected by Australia as illegal aliens.

Congress only learned of the deal through media reports two weeks ago and, according to a letter sent to administration officials by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., the deal is not only a matter of grave national security concern, but it could be illegal.

That’s because it amounts to an international treaty that Secretary of State John Kerry negotiated without consulting or notifying Congress according to Article II, Section II of the U.S. Constitution, according to the letter, sent by the two lawmakers Nov. 22 to Kerry and DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson.

Grassley is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Goodlatte chairs the same committee in the House.

The rejected aliens come from terror-infested countries including Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan and Afghanistan.

Nearly 2,500 of them were interdicted off the coast of Australia in 2013 in accordance with that country’s policy of not accepting any of the wave of “refugees” streaming out of the Middle East. Unlike Europe, Australia effectively said “no” to the United Nations’ plan to open up Western democracies for millions of refugees fleeing not only the Syrian civil war but conflicts in Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan and even countries like Pakistan that are not at war. Germany alone has accepted 1.5 million Muslim refugees and subjected itself to thousands of sexual assaults on its women and girls.

But migrants who tried to get to Australia did not find a welcome mat. They were rescued by the Australian coast guard from their unsafe vessels and taken to off-shore camps on the Islands of Papua New Guinea and Nauru, where they have remained ever since. The United Nations stepped in and is looking for countries that will take the asylum seekers.

The U.N. found a taker in the Obama administration. Kerry confirmed he had reached a deal to take an undetermined number of the 2,465 aliens for permanent resettlement in the United States. Goodlatte and Grassley said they have since found out that up to 1,800 of the boat people could end up being distributed to U.S. cities and towns. But very little information has been released about the aliens or how many will end up in which American cities.

“This situation is concerning for many reasons,” the letter states. “First, your department s negotiated an international agreement regarding refugees without consulting or notifying Congress. Such information was not disclosed to Congress during the annual refugee consultation that occurred on September 13, 2016, even though your staff confirmed that the agreement had, at the time, been negotiated ‘for months.’ Second, the agreement and the number of refugees to be resettled has been deemed by your departments as classified, thus the American people are left in the dark as to the rationale for this agreement. Third, the individuals who will be resettled are coming from countries of national security concern. In fact, two of the countries are officially designated by the State Department to be State Sponsors of Terrorism. Finally, it begs the question why Australia and other countries refuse to admit these individuals, what other countries are doing to help alleviate the situation, what kind of precedent this sets for future refugees interdicted at sea by Australian forces and prevented from entering Australia, and how a similar situation will be prevented in the future.” Read the entire letter from Grassley and Goodlatte.

They came from the following countries:

Iran
Sri Lanka
Pakistan
Afghanistan
Somalia
Iraq
Sudan
Stateless

No details have been released as to how many from each country would be considered for resettlement in the U.S., what cities or states they would be sent to, the breakdown of men, women and children, or the state of their health. The U.S. sent teams to begin screening the aliens almost immediately after the deal was brokered by Kerry, according to the letter.


Read it all and this previous Hohmann piece: Leaked memo: Refugees vet themselves

Dinka. Sudan. Africa | ESTATE A WHILE

(THIS ARTICLE AND ITS PICTURES ARE FACINATING, I AS AN AMERICAN WHO HAS NEVER BEEN TO THE SUDAN HAVE NEVER SEEN SCENES LIKE THESE BEFORE.)

 

Source: Dinka. Sudan. Africa | ESTATE A WHILE

Can The $12bn Loan From The IMF Help Save Egypt’s Economy And Their People?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CAIRO EGYPT DAILY NEWS)

IMF approves $12bn loan: what’s next for Egypt’s economic reform programme?

These reforms aren’t easy but they will unleash the potential of Egypt’s economy and serve its people, says IMF managing director

Egypt successfully secured the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) approval for the three-year, $12bn loan agreement on Friday. The first instalment of $2.75m has already been received following the IMF executive board’s approval.

The loan payment will be over a 10-year period with an interest rate of 1-1.5%.

Egypt’s economy has been suffering post-2011 revolution; political instability in addition to regional security concerns have had a negative effect, especially on the tourism sector. These factors intensified Egypt’s already existing structural problems, which can be summarised into three main issues.

First, the fixed exchange rates. The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) policy of controlling the Egyptian pound exchange rate against the US dollar had a very negative impact on the economy, leading to lower external competitiveness, depletion of foreign reserves, and foreign exchange crisis, which in turn has affected investments, and led to food shortages.

Second, the sky high budget deficit and public debts as a result of various factors, such as weak revenues, large subsidy bills that are mismanaged and not reaching eligible recipients, combined with a huge public sector wages bill. The current level of deficit and public debt is almost 100% of Egypt’s total GDP.

Finally, low growth achieved in the years following the 25 January Revolution 2011 due to structural issues which have constrained growth and job creation, in addition to declining tourism following the Russian Metrojet incident in October 2015. Egypt has failed to produce enough job opportunities to absorb the several hundreds of thousands of young people joining the workforce annually.

Egypt’s GDP growth peaked in the fiscal year (FY) of 2007/2008 reaching 7.152%, decreasing to 5.139% by FY 2010. It then fell sharply marking a record low of 1.817% in FY 2011, and started to recover in FY 2015, reaching 4.2%. The IMF projects a 4% growth in FY 2017, according to their World Economic Outlook report for October.

 

IMFReforms plan to revive Egypt’s growth prospects, unleash economy’s potential

Egypt’s economic reform programme supported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is, according to managing director Christine Lagarde, “designed to revive growth and make sure it produces lasting changes and inclusive growth”.

The main objective of the reform programme is to restore investors’ confidence in Egypt’s economy. The five pillars of the programme are as follows:

Liberalising the exchange rate system

The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) has already floated the currency, moving it from EGP 8.83 to the US dollar to about EGP 16 on Friday. This decision will not only lead to improved competitiveness, increased attractiveness to foreign direct investments, as well as helping exports and tourism, it will also give the CBE the chance to rebuild Egypt’s international reserves.

Reducing energy subsidies

The fuel subsidy bill for the fiscal year (FY) of 2016/2017 stands at EGP 35bn. Energy subsides are mismanaged and do not benefit the poor as much as intended. These subsides also shift production and investments towards high-energy intensive industries, rather than to labour-intensive industries.

Reducing these subsidies will free up resources that can be allocated to high-priority areas such as education, health, and social safety nets.

Reviving the economy by boosting growth

Egypt aims to improve its business climate by implementing reforms to eliminate bureaucracy, ease the required procedures to obtain licences for projects, and make finances accessible to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME). This comes as an effort to increase job creation so as to reduce Egypt’s currently high unemployment rates.

Tax reforms to increase revenues

The value-added tax (VAT), considered the cornerstone of Egypt’s economic reform programme, was approved by parliament in August, in addition to the tax disputes law, and tax administration and development plans to integrate the informal economy and broaden Egypt’s tax base. This aims to fix existing imbalances in the business community, and increase government revenues without negatively affecting the low- and middle-income brackets. The VAT includes exemptions for most staple foods consumed by low-income citizens.

Strengthening social safety nets and social protection

One of the most important aspects of the programme is to increase spending on food subsidies, as well as cash transfers to the elderly and the poor through the Takaful and Karama programmes. About 1% of the GDP from fiscal savings will be allocated to fund these initiatives, in addition to keeping the existing school meals, infant formula subsidies, and children’s medicine subsidies.

 

11-3-page-001Egypt’s prospects for the future

With an efficient and effective implementation of the government’s reform programme, Egypt’s GDP growth can increase significantly to reach 6% by 2021, similar to levels during 2005-2010.

Egypt aims to achieve this result by attracting $10bn in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the fiscal year (FY) of 2016/2017, in order to achieve the government’s targeted GDP growth of 5.2% in the same fiscal year.

Egypt has immense potential owing to a young dynamic population, a large market size, a favourable geographic location, access to important foreign markets, the government’s large investments in the energy sector, in addition to the newly discovered Zohr gas field, all act in favour of Egypt’s growth potential.

On the other hand, high levels of inflation will prove to be a challenge for the government. Egypt’s core inflation rate reached 15.57% in October according to the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE). The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects that inflation will increase to 18.2% in FY 2016/17; however, it is expected to decline sharply to 7.1% in FY 2020/21.

Egypt’s economic crisis has affected almost every social class, not only the poor. Further, the flotation of the currency lead to an almost 50% drop in its value, which, in turn, has resulted in an increase in the prices of all goods and services. But the government is keen to continue the programme, saying that Egypt can no longer afford any delays.

“These reforms aren’t easy; they will take time to generate gains and benefits. But it’s really worth the journey: implementing them will unleash the economy’s potential and will serve its people” said IMF managing director Christine Lagarde.

Lagarde emphasised that the IMF and the international community’s full support to the Egyptian authorities and the Egyptian people, through every step of the journey of reforms.

 

Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), Tarek Amer
Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), Tarek Amer

Foreign currency flows into Egypt, making reserve’s target of $25-30bn possible

 

Throughout last week, the government along with the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) specified several confirmed resources for foreign currency, which would help reach the targeted foreign currency reserves of $25-30bn by the end of 2016 previously affirmed by CBE governor Tarek Amer.

Egypt’s foreign reserves stood at $19.041bn at the end of October, according to the CBE.

Egypt has already received the first tranche of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan worth $2.75bn, and is expected to receive another $2.7bn from China after the currency swap agreement between the two countries. Additionally, another $1.5bn will be received from the World Bank and the African Development Bank by the end of 2016.

Moreover, Egypt offered international bonds worth $2bn in the Ireland Stock Exchange through a private placement in favour of the CBE, and will offer bonds worth $2.5bn in international markets, for which it expects to receive revenues before the end of this year.

Around 50% of the total $4.5bn gained through the bonds sale will be added to the CBE’s foreign currency reserves, while the remaining amount will be used by the CBE to repurchase international bonds worth $2bn issued by the Ministry of Finance, according to government sources.

The repurchasing of bonds is a guarantee to investors who bought bonds in the international private placement. Hence, if the Finance Ministry would not be able to repay the value of its issued bonds once they mature, the CBE will waive its repurchased bonds and repay the matured bonds to investors.

 

Previously, the ministry had announced that the government issued bonds worth $1.36bn with an annual interest rate of 4.62% to mature on 10 December 2017. Additionally, the ministry issued a $1.32bn bond with an interest rate of 6.75% to mature on 10 November 2024, and a bond worth $1.32bn with a 7% interest rate to mature on 10 November 2028.

 

Minister of Finance Amr El-Garhy said that this step assures the ministry’s commitment to diversify the financing sources specified for the budget deficit, and to ease pressure on domestic funding sources, as well as reduce the cost of public debt.

In September, the Ministry of International Cooperation had said in a statement that Egypt will receive $500m  from the African Development Bank by the end of 2016. The ministry also noted that Egypt would receive $1bn from the World Bank before the end of the year which represents the second tranche of a loan worth $3bn.

Zimbabwe’s Powerful Dictator Mugabe: Running Out Of Money, Running Out Of Power

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

As Zimbabwe’s money runs out, so does Mugabe’s power

President Robert Mugabe addresses to his supporters during an election rally in Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe June 26, 2008.REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo/File Photo
By Ed Cropley | HARARE

In Zimbabwe, where worthless $100 trillion notes serve as reminders of the perils of hyperinflation, President Robert Mugabe is printing a new currency that jeopardizes not just the economy but his own long grip on power.

Six months ago, the 92-year-old announced plans to address chronic cash shortages by supplementing the dwindling U.S. dollars in circulation over the past seven years with ‘bond notes’, a quasi-currency expected at the end of November.

According to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), the bond notes will be officially interchangeable 1:1 with the U.S. dollar and should ease the cash crunch. The central bank also promised to keep a tight lid on issuance.

After a 2008 multi-billion percent inflationary meltdown caused by rampant money-printing, many Zimbabweans are skeptical. The plan has already caused a run on the banks as Zimbabweans empty their accounts of hard currency.

Internal intelligence briefings seen by Reuters raise the possibility that the bond notes, if they crash, could spell the end of Mugabe’s 36 years in charge.

A Sept. 29 Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) report revealed the powerful army was as unhappy as the rest of the population with the new notes and had told Africa’s oldest leader to “wake up and smell the coffee”.

“Top security officers have told Mugabe not to blame them if Rome starts to burn,” the report said.

Reuters was unable to determine the author of the report. It is also unclear if Mugabe has seen the report, whose final audience is not specified. Mugabe’s spokesman did not respond to requests for comment, nor was the CIO available.

But the report offers a rare glimpse into the thinking of Mugabe’s security forces – the backbone of his power – and their concerns about the implosion of what used to be one of Africa’s most promising economies.

“Mugabe was openly told that the bond notes are going to cause his downfall,” the report said.

WAITING FOR THE DROP

The notes’ first test will come in the informal foreign exchange markets on the streets of Harare.

If they fall heavily in value, they are likely to unleash an inflationary spiral that could bleed the banking system of its last few dollars and wipe out Zimbabweans’ savings for the second time in less than a decade, economists say.

The same happened in 2008: powerful individuals with access to dollars at the official 1:1 rate were able to buy bond notes at a discount on the unofficial market and then convert them back to dollars at face value.

“You start with one dollar, then you’ve got 10, then you’ve got 100, then you’ve got 1,000 – and it’s not even lunchtime,” said John Robertson, one of Zimbabwe’s most respected private economists.

In Harare’s chaotic Road Port bus station, the main terminus for those heading to and from South Africa, Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner, some bus operators are fearing the worst.

Required to pay nearly all their expenses – fuel, road tolls and police bribes in Zimbabwe and South Africa – in hard currency cash, they are particularly exposed.

“It’s like being on death row. You don’t know when the hangman is going to open your cell door,” said ticket-seller Simba Muchenje, pulling a wad of worthless 2008 Zimbabwe dollars from his briefcase and tossing them onto the counter.

“It’s just taking us back to the bad old days.”

In interviews, none of eight money-changers trading South African rand and U.S. dollars said they would accept bond notes at their $1 face value because of fears of immediate depreciation. The rand and the U.S. dollar have become Zimbabwe’s currencies since the local dollar was scrapped in 2009

“The banks may say 1:1, but here we say 2:1. We can’t afford to pay the same as the banks. I’m running a business, not a bank,” said Patience, a 32-year-old money-changer.

REASSURING WORDS

Given Zimbabwe’s recent history of hyperinflation, the RBZ is keen to allay fears the printing presses are about to go into overdrive, and that the bond notes are a roundabout route to a new Zimbabwe dollar.

“The introduction of bond notes does not mark the return of the Zimbabwe dollar through the back door,” it said in a statement on its website.

Instead, the bank has presented the notes as a 5 percent “export incentive” – a top-up added by the central bank to the accounts of those receiving foreign exchange either from overseas remittances or via farming, manufacturing and mining exports.

They will also be backed by a $200 million “loan facility” from Afreximbank, a Cairo-based lender owned by the African Development Bank and dozens of African governments and central banks. Afreximbank declined to comment.

Given monthly exports of roughly $250 million, the 5 percent ‘top-up’ suggests a monthly liquidity injection of just $12.5 million, or $1 for every Zimbabwean.

In public statements, the RBZ has given assurances it will not exceed the $200 million issuance ceiling.

But it has not clarified how bond note balances will be recorded in U.S. dollar accounts, nor how ATMs will distinguish between greenbacks and bond notes when they issue cash.

“Upon withdrawal, banks have an option to pay in any one of the legal tenders,” the RBZ said.

RBZ Governor John Mangudya missed a scheduled interview with Reuters and did not respond to emailed questions.

NO DOLLARS, NO FUN

Few Zimbabweans interviewed believed the RBZ would stick to the issuance limits, especially while a large current account deficit continues to suck dollars out of the country.

After the bond notes’ announcement, #ThisFlag and #Tajamuka, social media campaigns targeting the new system, drew the biggest anti-Mugabe protests in a decade before being crushed by riot police and the CIO.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands across the country lined up through the night to empty their accounts the moment their pay or pensions arrive, exacerbating the liquidity crunch. Banks have responded with daily withdrawal limits: $100 one day, $50 another, none another. Customers have no idea until the banks open their doors at 8 a.m.

“Sometimes you get to the end of the line and there’s no money,” said industrial fitter Edmund Panganai, 40, outside a CABS building society branch in Harare. Every month, it takes him at least seven nights of queuing to get his hands on his pay.

In Harare, where most U.S. dollar bills are stained deep brown with grime, a crisp 2009-edition $100 note is now worth as much as $115.

Conversely, the plastic and mobile money introduced to ease physical cash shortages is depreciating, forcing vendors to charge a 10-15 percent premium.

One prostitute, who had been relying on e-wallet payment systems such as Ecocash, run by mobile firm Econet Wireless (ECO.ZI), said she and other sex workers were turning away customers without hard cash.

“Ecocash? No thank you. Dollars, dollars, dollars,” said Patience, a 22-year-old working a Harare street corner. “No dollars, no fun.”

ARMY RATIONED

Combined with unemployment at 90 percent and a government budget crunch that has seen delays in payment of state wages, the discontent is also pervading the army.

The Sept. 29 CIO report said soldiers had applauded the social media protests because they had led to an improvement in daily rations.

“Before the demonstrations government had stopped supplying them with breakfast. At lunch they were being fed with sadza (maize meal) and cabbage without cooking oil. Mugabe instructed for the army officers to be given descent [sic] meals so they will rally behind him,” the report said.

Other intelligence reports from late September and early October suggested Mugabe was having doubts about the bond notes. Reuters was unable to confirm this.

“The issue of the bond notes is giving Mugabe sleepless nights,” one said. “Mugabe is serious [sic] thinking of delaying the introduction of the bond until January next year.”

Another report said army officers were frustrated with pay delays and withdrawal limits.

“They are very angry as they are failing to access their money from the banks and do not want to be issued with bonds,” it said.

“These junior and middle-ranked officers reckon that Mugabe has failed, hence he needs to step down for new blood to replace him.”

VETERANS AT WAR

In July, veterans of the 1964-1979 liberation war that brought Mugabe to power broke ranks, accusing him of “dictatorial tendencies” and blaming him for the “serious plight” of the economy and discord in the ruling ZANU-PF party.

“We are dedicated to stop this rot,” they said in a statement.

As fears over the bond notes have grown and the battle to succeed Mugabe has intensified, they have continued to flex their muscle.

“Once you go wrong with us, you automatically go wrong with the whole state apparatus,” veterans leader Chris Mutsvangwa told Reuters.

The veterans enjoy warm ties with the army and security services, and want Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former security chief nicknamed “The Crocodile”, to take over from Mugabe, political analysts say. On the other side is a faction attached to Mugabe’s 51-year-old wife, Grace.

Mugabe responded to the growing pressure on Nov. 19 with an address in which he admitted fallibility and gave a rare hint at retirement.

“If I am making mistakes, you should tell me. I will go,” he said, before adding: “Change should come in a proper way. If I have to retire, let me retire properly.”

(Additional reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Janet McBride)

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