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Slavery’s Bitter Roots: US Marks 400th Anniversary Of Arrival Of First African Slaves |The Republican News

By Chris Simkins, Carol Guensburg

HAMPTON, VIRGINIA – In late August 1619, an English pirate ship named the White Lion sailed into the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and anchored at Point Comfort. It deposited, according to handwritten records, “20 and odd” Africans seized from a Portuguese slave ship headed to what is now Mexico. 

Those captives from Angola — sold in exchange for food and other supplies — were the first known Africans to set foot in colonial Virginia. Their arrival 400 years ago marked the beginning of slavery in English-speaking America, an institution that persisted for more than two centuries.   

“This is ground zero. This is the beginning of the African imprint on America,” said Calvin Pearson, head of the local history group Project 1619, as he surveyed the former Point Comfort waterfront on a breezy spring day. 

From 1525 to 1866, some 12.5 million captive Africans were put on ships bound for the Americas and Caribbean, according to Emory University’s Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database.  Of those, 10.7 million men, women and children survived the treacherous voyages, chained and crowded below decks with little water or food. The great majority were taken to Brazil or the Caribbean but close to 400,000 arrived in what is now the United States. 

“Those first Africans who landed here were destined for a life of servitude,” Pearson said, noting they were sold or traded to wealthy plantation owners in Hampton or sent to a settlement on the James River. “They had to work the crops — the corn fields, the tobacco fields. It was a life they had to endure knowing they would probably never be free.”

Africans had no official status in the American colonies — not as indentured servants nor as slaves — until Massachusetts became the first to legalize slavery in 1641. Virginia made it a hereditary condition, passing a law in 1662 saying any child born to an enslaved black woman faced the prospect of servitude for life.  Eventually, the number of American slaves swelled to almost 4 million. 

The Triangular Trade 

Slavery came to the Americas as part of the Triangular Trade.

Ships from Europe carried manufactured goods such as cloth, guns and metal pans to Africa, selling or exchanging these items for captives picked up at ports along the continent’s western coast. These people would be delivered into bondage in the Caribbean and Americas. Many were forced into backbreaking work growing sugar, rice, cotton and tobacco — raw materials that were shipped back to Europe on the third leg of the triangle.

Though most slaves from the African continent were taken from Ghana and Senegal, more than 5 million who landed in the Western Hemisphere came from Angola. Colonized by the Portuguese, who dominated the slave trade for centuries, Angola accounted for roughly a quarter of the nearly 400,000 Africans sent to the North American mainland. 

While some tribal chiefs sold captives to European slavers, other leaders tried to protect their people. One was Njinga Mbande, queen of the Ndongo and Mataba kingdoms in the 17th century. A warrior and diplomat, she fended off Portuguese and Dutch slavers throughout her 40-year reign. 

“She was the greatest protector of Angolan sovereignty, and it was 40 years of fighting,” historian Isilda Hurst said from a boat cruising the Kwanza River. Njinga, she said, would hide in the river’s floating islands of tall grass, so her adversaries “could never tell where she was. … She always resisted, and she always won.”

A statue of warrior queen Njinga Mbande stands outside Angola’s National Museum of Military History in Luanda. (B. Ayoub/VOA)
A statue of warrior queen Njinga Mbande stands outside Angola’s National Museum of Military History in Luanda. (B. Ayoub/VOA)

But the Portuguese slavers ultimately prevailed. 

The Kwanza, which empties into the Atlantic just south of the capital city of Luanda, was an important trade route. People who lived near its banks got swept up in the slave trade.

“It was by the river where most of the slaves were captured,” with Africans serving as middle men in the sordid deals, Hurst said.   

The captives were taken to port communities, locked in holding areas, or barracoons, until they could be sold and shipped off.

Bracing the U.S. economy

Slave labor helped build the American colonies and, after they won independence from the British in 1783, the new nation.

“Slavery was so big and so important to the American economy that it was valued at more than all of America’s (other) industries combined,” said Cassandra Newby Alexander, a historian and dean of Norfolk State University’s College of Liberal Arts. “It really is symptomatic of the importance that people had to preserving and expanding slavery.”

By 1860, just before the Civil War, “the nearly 4 million American slaves were worth some $3.5 billion, making them the largest single financial asset in the entire U.S. economy, worth more than all manufacturing and railroads combined,” the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates quoted historian James McPherson in a 2014 essay in The Atlantic.  

Individual states could determine whether to permit slavery. While those in the South held more slaves to tend labor-intensive crops, many whites in the more industrialized, urban North kept slaves as domestic servants or skilled laborers. And though Northern states abolished slavery — some of them gradually — they still profited from the institution. 

For example, merchants in the tiny northeastern state of Rhode Island paid for ships to bring more than 100,000 captives to the New World, said Keith Stokes of Newport, who lectures on the history of Africans in America.

“Between 1705 and 1805, there are at least 900 documented slave ships that begin their voyage in Rhode Island and eventually go from West Africa through the West Indies and back to Rhode Island,” he said.

James DeWolf, who represented Rhode Island in the U.S. Senate in the 1820s, was among those who made a fortune at slaves’ expense. He invested in slave ships, in banks and insurance firms that did business with slaveholders, and in textile mills that turned cotton into garments, fueling America’s industrial revolution. After Rhode Island outlawed the shipment of slaves to North America in 1787 — and the U.S. Congress followed suit in 1807 — DeWolf’s nephew continued the slave trade illegally.
 
DeWolf and his extended family “engaged in slave trading on such an epic level,” said great-grandson James DeWolf Perry. He estimates they brought more than 12,000 enslaved Africans to the New World and are “probably responsible for about half a million people (who) are alive today in the Americas.”

Perry and his cousin, filmmaker Katrina Browne, are confronting the family history that shames them. They collaborated on an Emmy-nominated documentary, “Traces of the Trade” (2008), about slavery and its lingering effects. Then they co-founded the Tracing Center, a Boston-area nonprofit promoting awareness of the slave trade and its legacies affecting all Americans.   

“It’s incumbent upon me to speak out about what our family did and to help other people draw the connections to the ways in which their families are connected to slavery,” Perry said. “If we bury the dark parts of a family history, we will start to assume things like that didn’t happen, and that will greatly distort our understanding of how we got here today.”

Roles of religion 

Faith groups were not without sin.

The Episcopal Church, particularly in Rhode Island during the late 1600s and early 1700s, “profited directly … because donations from our members were proceeds of the slave trade,” said Nicholas Knisely, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island.

Even the clergy enslaved people.

“We had slaves who were owned by the missionary organizations that were creating the Anglican churches here in the United States,” Knisely added. “We have records of slaves who were branded with the letters SPG — Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.”

Unitarian minister William Ellery Channing had an enslaved cook for his household in Newport and praised her industriousness, said Stokes, the Newport historian. Born in 1753 in West Africa, Charity “Duchess” Quamino became known as “the pastry queen of Rhode Island,” using the proceeds from her cake sales to buy freedom for herself and her children.
    
Quamino had a better outcome than many other African-born slaves. 

While awaiting slave ships in Angola, African captives were forced by their Portuguese handlers to convert to Catholicism. Baptisms, conducted in big groups, stripped the captives of their African identity. Those who were detained in Angola would be given Christian names. Those herded onto ships often would be renamed if and when they reached a distant shore.

Religious conversion helped the Africans “embrace the gospel,” said the Rev. Paulino Koteka, a parish priest in the coastal city of Benguela. But, he acknowledged, “it destroyed their identity and their culture. Many of them suffered because of this evangelization.”

In 1985, Pope John Paul II asked Africans to forgive white Christians for their involvement in the slave trade. 

Slavery’s legacy 

 At Angola’s National Museum of Slavery in Luanda, director Vlademiro Fortuna said nearly four centuries of involvement in the slave trade have taken a lasting toll on the country. Today, though Angola has the third-largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa, at least a third of its 30 million people live in poverty.

“This country was harmed in every single aspect. The social fabric was destroyed,” he said, pointing out that Angola wasn’t the only affected place.

“The slave trade destabilized African societies. … It wasn’t possible during the times of slavery and colonization for African societies to reorganize their political and labor systems. … Sometimes, people try to forget this part of the country’s history.”

That’s why the museum exists, he added.  

In the United States, a bill backed by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives proposes setting up a committee to examine and remedy the “lingering negative effects” of slavery and discrimination.  

At a June 19 hearing, proponents brought up the possibility of reparations or an apology, or both, for slavery and subsequent laws and policies that discriminated against blacks. They say those measures — affecting civil rights, education, housing, finance and more — contribute to ongoing disadvantages, including a racial wealth gap. 

The average black family’s net worth is less than 15% of a white family’s, the Federal Reserve reported in 2017. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opposes compensation.

“I don’t think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago, for whom none of us currently living are responsible, is a good idea,” he said the day before the hearing.

Hampton’s historic perspective 

Slavery in Britain’s American colonies began in Virginia. It was also in Hampton, at the former Port Comfort site, where the system began to unravel. 

In May 1861, a month after the start of the U.S. Civil War pitting 11 slave-dependent Southern states against the North, three Virginia slaves working for the Confederate Army fled to Fort Monroe. The federal stronghold had been built decades earlier near the site where the first Africans landed two centuries earlier.

The slaves sought refuge with Union troops who’d volunteered to suppress what was characterized as the Southern rebellion. Their commander, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Franklin Butler, declared the slaves “contraband of war,” a seemingly dehumanizing decision but one that meant they could legally be allowed to remain and support the Union cause. 

Butler’s decision lent protection to thousands of blacks who escaped to the fort during the four-year war, and, says Project 1619 co-founder Bill Wiggins, laid the groundwork for historic measures. 

Wiggins said the decision “forced” President Abraham Lincoln, in early 1863, to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared “that all persons held as slaves” in Confederate states “are, and henceforward shall be free.”

That “led to the 13th Amendment, ending enslavement, and paved the way for the 14th Amendment, which provided citizenship (for the formerly enslaved) in 1866,” Wiggins said.

The fort was decommissioned as a military installation in September 2011. Two months later, President Barack Obama — son of a black African father and white American mother — designated Fort Monroe as a national monument.

At a small cemetery in Hampton, Brenda Tucker stood among graves where her forebears — including William Tucker, believed to be the first child born to Africans in the American colonies — have been laid to rest. 

Packed into slave ships from Angola, “so many did not survive. But the ones that did survive were the healthy ones, our ancestors,” Tucker said. Looking around the site, she added, “There is no way we can pass it or walk through it without thinking of an ancestor to whom we owe gratitude.”

Chris Simkins reported from Virginia and Rhode Island, with Mayra de Lasalette contributing from Angola and Carol Guensburg from Washington.To commemorate the first African landing at Point Comfort 400 years ago, a series of events, exhibits and tours are scheduled in and near Hampton, Virginia.

Source: Voice of America

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Measles Has Returned To Europe, “That Is Unacceptable Tragedy” |The Republican News

Akshat Rathi
                     © Provided by Quartz 

The number of measles cases has rebounded in Europe in 2017, after setting a record low in 2016. The continent recorded some 21,000 cases last year, according to the World Health Organization, which is nearly four times as many cases as in the year before that.

The surge in cases comes as a result of measles outbreaks recorded in 15 out of 53 countries in the region. The countries worst affected were Romania, Italy, and Ukraine, which each recorded about 5,000 cases. The WHO puts the cause down to a decline in routine immunization, low vaccination rates in marginalized groups, interruption in vaccine supplies, or lack of adequate disease surveillance.

“[This is] a tragedy we simply cannot accept,” says Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO regional director for Europe.

And Jakab’s right. As a group of mostly rich and highly educated countries, Europe can and should be able to tackle preventable diseases like measles. The solution to prevention is a single MMR vaccine that provides immunization against three deadly diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella.

In 2017, for instance, the WHO declared that the UK had eliminated measles. To be sure, “elimination” in this context doesn’t mean the UK didn’t have a single case, but that the number of cases was so low—only 282 cases—that the disease was confined to small groups and did not spread widely. To achieve the feat, UK’s national health service (NHS) recommends that the level of immunization in the population should be at least 90% to prevent the spread of measles and 95% to prevent the spread of mumps and rubella.

                               © Getty

This level of immunization could eliminate the disease because of the concept of herd immunity. Here’s how Marcel Salathe, a professor of biology at Pennsylvania State University, explains it:

The basic idea is that a group (the “herd”) can avoid exposure to a disease by ensuring that enough people are immune so that no sustained chains of transmission can be established. This protects an entire population, especially those who are too young or too sick to be vaccinated.

Unlike the NHS, however, Salathe argues that in practice vaccination rates need to be much higher. That’s because the non-immunized population is not evenly spread out. So even though the average vaccination rate may be 95%, there may be some pockets where the rate may be lower than 80% and that’s low enough for the disease to spread.

Salathe says we should aim for 100% vaccine coverage to stop the spread of preventable diseases. In other words, if you’re thinking whether or not to get a vaccine, always lean towards getting it.  (The Quartz)

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Iran Says It Will Increase Missile Range If Europe Threatens Tehran |RN

By Reuters
a train on a track with smoke coming out of it: <span class="lead-asset-caption" itemprop="caption" style="box-sizing:border-box;font-size:1.2rem;line-height:1.6rem;font-family:'Telesans Text Regular', Arial, sans-serif;padding-right:4px;color:#888888;">A long-range Qadr ballistic missile is launched in the Alborz mountain range in northern Iran on March 9, 2016.&nbsp;</span><span style="color:#888888;font-family:'Austin News Text Semibold', Georgia, Times, serif;font-size:10px;">&nbsp;</span><span class="lead-asset-copyright" itemprop="copyrightHolder" style="box-sizing:border-box;font-size:0.9rem;line-height:1.3rem;font-family:'Telesans Text Regular', Arial, sans-serif;text-transform:uppercase;color:#888888;"><span class="lead-asset-copyright-label" style="box-sizing:border-box;">CREDIT:</span>&nbsp;AFP</span>© Provided by The TelegraphA long-range Qadr ballistic missile is launched in the Alborz mountain range in northern Iran on March 9, 2016.  CREDIT: AFP

 

The deputy head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards warned Europe that if it threatens Tehran, the Guards will increase the range of missiles to more than 2,000 kilometres, the Fars news agency reported on Saturday.France has called for an “uncompromising” dialogue with Iran about its ballistic missile programme and a possible negotiation over the issue separate from Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Iran has repeatedly said its missile programme is defensive and not negotiable.

“If we have kept the range of our missiles to 2,000 kilometres, it’s not due to lack of technology. … We are following a strategic doctrine,” Brigadier General Hossein Salami said, according to Fars.

“So far we have felt that Europe is not a threat, so we did not increase the range of our missiles. But if Europe wants to turn into a threat, we will increase the range of our missiles.”

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: <span>Members of the Revolutionary Guard marching in TehranCredit: AFP&nbsp;</span>© Provided by The TelegraphMembers of the Revolutionary Guard marching in TehranCredit: AFP 

The United States accused Iran this month of supplying Yemen’s Houthi rebels with a missile that was fired into Saudi Arabia in July and called for the United Nations to hold Tehran accountable for violating two UN Security Council resolutions.

Iran has denied supplying Houthis with missiles and weapons.

The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, said last month that Iran’s 2,000-kilometre missile range could cover “most of American interest and forces” within the region, and Iran does not need to extend it.

a man looking at the camera: <span>Gen Mohammad Ali Jafari&nbsp;Credit: AP&nbsp;</span>         © Provided by The TelegraphGen Mohammad Ali Jafari Credit: AP 

Gen Jafari said the ballistic missile range was based on the limits set by the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is the head of armed forces.

Iran has one of the Middle East’s largest missile programmes and some of its precision-guided missiles have the range to strike Israel.

The United States says Iran’s missile programme is a breach of international law because the missiles could carry nuclear warheads in the future.

Iran denies it is seeking nuclear weapons and says its nuclear programme is for civilian uses only.

The United States has imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran, saying its missile tests violate a UN resolution that calls on Tehran not to undertake activities related to missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.   (The Telegraph)

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A Radiotactive Cloud Wafts Over Europe, With Russia As Chief Suspect |RN

By ALAN COWELL
Russia's President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech at a ceremony to present state decorations at the Moscow Kremlin. Mikhail Metzel/TASS (Photo by Mikhail Metzel\TASS via Getty Images)© Catalyst Images Russia’s President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech at a ceremony to present state decorations at the Moscow Kremlin. Mikhail Metzel/TASS (Photo by Mikhail Metzel\TASS via Getty Images)

 

LONDON — Scientists across Europe have been puzzling about a phenomenon that seemed laden with mystery and menace in somewhat uneven proportions — a concentration of radioactive pollution caused by a nuclide called ruthenium 106.

Official monitors in France and Germany concluded that, based on weather patterns, the contamination detected since late September had emanated from southern Russia or from Kazakhstan.

“The most plausible zone of release lies between the Volga and the Urals,” the French Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety said on Nov. 9. Jean-Marc Peres, the institute’s director, told Reuters that the geographic area could indicate a spillage in Russia or in Kazakhstan.

On Oct. 8, the German Federal Office for Radiation Protection said, “Russia must be assumed to be the region of origin of radioactive release” — a suggestion that was denied by Rosatom, the state company that runs Russia’s nuclear industry.

A map showing levels of ruthenium 106, provided by the French Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety. Many experts say they suspect Russia to be the origin of the substance’s release.© Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety, via Associated Press A map showing levels of ruthenium 106, provided by the French Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety. Many experts…  

According to a statement from Rosatom, “None of the enterprises of the Russian nuclear industry has recorded radiation levels that exceed the norm.”

“One of the countries in the eastern part of the European Union” was more likely to be the source, Rosatom added, noting high radiation levels over Italy, Romania and Ukraine.

Nonetheless, the presence of the little-known substance raised unease that a threat to European health might be building — hardly surprising in light of the West’s broad palette of other worries about Russia’s intentions, including the crisis in Crimea, which was annexed by Moscow in 2014, and the Kremlin’s activities in cyberspace.

On Wednesday, one of Britain’s top security officials, Ciaran Martin, warned in a speech that, over the past year, Russian hackers had undertaken far more persistent attacks on his country’s energy, telecommunications and media industries than previously acknowledged.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May and Finance Minister Philip Hammond host an industry roundtable with leading figures from the tech sector at 10 Downing Street, London, Britain, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville© Catalyst Images Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May and Finance Minister Philip Hammond host an industry roundtable with leading figures from the tech sector at 10 Downing Street, London, Britain…  

Two days earlier, Prime Minister Theresa May accused Russia of “seeking to weaponize information, deploying its state-run media organizations to plant fake stories and photoshopped images in an attempt to sow discord in the West and undermine our institutions.”

In matters of nuclear threat, of course, European memories are framed by episodes such as the catastrophic accident in 1986 at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union; and, 20 years later, the lethal poisoning in London of a former K.G.B. officer, Alexander V. Litvinenko, with polonium 210, a rare and highly toxic isotope.

With such considerations in mind, the detection of elevated but unexplained levels of ruthenium 106 by monitoring stations in Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland raised alarms.

Slowly though, as the levels retreated, the fretting eased.

German and French nuclear security agencies concluded that the pollution had not threatened the health of Europeans or the environment in which they live. “These low levels of radioactivity do not pose a health hazard to the population,” the German radiation protection office said on Nov. 10.

View of the Kremlin                             © Royalty free View of the Kremlin  

The French institute reached similar conclusions, but said the amounts of ruthenium 106 released at the source of the accident were significant. If contamination of this magnitude had occurred in France, it said, the authorities would have ordered protective measures for people living miles around.

The nuclide, which does not occur naturally, is used for a variety of purposes, including as a therapy for cancers and as an energy source in satellites.

According to European scientists, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, has investigated whether the pollution could have been caused by a satellite falling back to earth, but concluded that there had been no such event.

Nor, according to the French and German radiation protection agencies, could the pollution have been caused by an accident at a nuclear reactor, because only ruthenium 106 has been detected and such a spillage would have released other nuclides. That left two potential sources, the French agency said, “either in nuclear fuel-cycle facilities or radioactive source production.”

Nuclear material                            © Catalyst Images Nuclear material  

Jean-Christophe Gariel, a senior official at the French agency, said, “We’ve done our job with the European data that was available, but we cannot go further for now.”

Referring to Russia, he added, “Maybe we’ll be able to answer more questions when the country concerned by the issue comes up with more precise information.”

He said that when he spoke to his counterparts in Russia last week, they had not been able to explain the origins of the contamination. “We showed them a document detailing our scientific approach. They told us that our results were coherent and correct, but that they were not aware of any event that could have caused that.”

In a telephone interview, Mr. Gariel said French experts thought the two most likely explanations were that the ruthenium 106 originated in a facility treating used fuels, or that it came from a plant producing ruthenium exclusively.

In any event, the French agency said in a statement, ruthenium levels had been decreasing since Oct. 6 and the nuclide was “currently no longer detected in Europe.”

(Source: The New York Times)

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Yazidi Teenager Captured By ISIS Says They Were Planning ‘Big, Big Attack’ On Europe

Caroline Mortimer
Yazidi teenager captured by Isis says they were planning 'big, big attack' on Europe (Representational image)© Reuters Yazidi teenager captured by Isis says they were planning ‘big, big attack’ on Europe (Representational image)

A Yazidi boy captured by Isis has told of the brutal tactics the group used to brainwash its child soldiers.

Arsem Ibraham was just 13 when the Islamist group attacked his people on Sinjar Mountain in Iraq in 2013.

He and the other boys who were captured were separated from the adults. The women and girls were sold into a sexual slavery while the adult men were murdered.

He told ITV News: “Then they blindfolded me but I could still hear the shooting. Three shots into one man.”

          © Provided by Independent Print Limited  

The boys who survived were then taken to Raqqa in Syria, Isis’ “capital” where they were forced to join something the group called “The Caliphate Cubs”.

Here he was trained how to fight for the group using rocket launchers and automatic rifles.

They were shown videos of suicide attacks and told to look up to the perpetrators.

He said he was taken to a military camp for six months and told he must kill Kurds and rebel groups like the Free Syrian Army as they were all “infidels”.

Kurdish authorities told CNN last year that as many as 600 Yazidi children had been abducted by the group but around 200 had managed to escape.

It said they feared they were being used as cannon fodder as the terrorists lose ground and fighters.

Isis is said to be putting its most experienced fighters on the front line and was using child soldiers in sentry positions and suicide bomb squads.

Arsem said: “Every day after training we were shown the latest videos of suicide attacks. We were told: ‘Look up to these brothers’.

“We were told whoever blows themselves up will go to heaven. There will be 70 virgins waiting for us and rivers of wine.”

There was the talk of sending some of the boys through Turkey to launch attacks in Europe.

“They said: ‘Don’t worry. We will do a big, big attack in Europe. Isis is working hard on that.’”

Coalition forces, backed by US-led air strikes, managed to push Isis out of its second city, Mosul in Iraq, last month. US-backed Kurdish forces are also closing in on Raqqa, Isis’s ‘capital’ in Syria.

Arsem was captured by Kurdish fighters as they moved towards the outskirts of Raqqa and he will soon be reunited with his family.

He said he was looking forward to seeing his mother again and would tell her “I have been born again”.  (The Independent)

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Bill Gates changes mind, warns about migrants overwhelming Europe — Zeepertje.com – Facts Fun

Bill Gates once urged America to take in a million migrants like Germany. Now he’s apparently starting to come to his senses a year-and-a-half later, after all the prior warnings about this suicidal immigration policy. Maybe his change of heart is tied to the dire impact of these migrants upon the European economies, which will […]

via Bill Gates changes mind, warns about migrants overwhelming Europe — Zeepertje.com – Facts Fun

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