Hezekiah’s illness

20 Around that same time, Hezekiah became deathly ill. The prophet Isaiah, Amoz’s son, came to him and said, “This is what the Lord says: Put your affairs in order because you are about to die. You won’t survive this.”

Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, saying, “Please, Lord, remember how I have walked before you in truth and sincerity. I have done what is right in your eyes.” Then Hezekiah cried and cried.

Isaiah hadn’t even left the middle courtyard of the palace when the Lord’s word came to him: Turn around. Say to Hezekiah, my people’s leader: This is what the Lord, the God of your ancestor David, says: I have heard your prayer and have seen your tears. So now I’m going to heal you. Three days from now you will be able to go up to the Lord’s temple. I will add fifteen years to your life. I will rescue you and this city from the power of the Assyian king. I will defend this city for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.

Then Isaiah said, “Prepare a bandage made of figs.” They did so and put it on the swelling, at which point Hezekiah started getting better.

Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “What is the sign that the Lord will heal me and that I’ll be able to go up to the Lord’s temple in three days?”

Isaiah said, “This will be your sign from the Lord that he will make his promise come true: Should the shadow go forward ten steps or back ten steps?”

10 “It’s easy for the shadow to go forward ten steps,” Hezekiah said, “but not for the shadow to go back ten steps.” 11 So the prophet Isaiah called on the Lord, who made the shadow go back ten steps, down the flight of stairs built by Ahaz.[a]

12 At that time Merodach-baladan, son of Babylon’s King Baladan, sent messengers to Hezekiah with letters and a gift. This was because he had heard that Hezekiah was sick. 13 Hezekiah granted them an audience and showed them everything in his treasury—the silver, the gold, the spices, and the fine oil. He also showed them his stock of weaponry and everything in his storehouses. There wasn’t a single thing in his palace or his whole kingdom that Hezekiah didn’t show them. 14 Then the prophet Isaiah came to King Hezekiah and said to him, “What did these men say? Where have they come from?”

Hezekiah said, “They came from a distant country: Babylon.”

15 “What have they seen in your palace?” Isaiah asked.

“They have seen everything in my palace,” Hezekiah answered. “There’s not a single thing in my storehouses that I haven’t shown them.”

16 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Listen to the Lord’s word: 17 The days are nearly here when everything in your palace and all that your ancestors collected up to now will be carried off to Babylon. Not a single thing will be left, says the Lord. 18 Some of your children, your very own offspring, will be taken away. They will become eunuchs in the palace of Babylon’s king.”

19 Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The Lord’s word that you’ve spoken is good,” because he thought: There will be peace and security in my lifetime.

20 The rest of Hezekiah’s deeds and all his powerful acts—how he made the pool and the channel and brought water inside the city—aren’t they written in the official records of Judah’s kings? 21 Hezekiah lay down with his ancestors. His son Manasseh succeeded him as king.

2 Kings 20 Common English Bible (CEB)

Why have I taken this biblical view of the movie Black Panther because I am a realist and firmly believe that the Bible is a book of human behavior, not as White Evangelicals would have us believe that it is the “word of God.”  When at Jeremiah 13: 22-23 the prophet castigates the Hebrews: “And when you will say in your hear, 'why is it that these things have befallen me?' because of the abundance of your error your skirts have been taken off as a cover; your heels have been treated violently.  Can a Cushite change his skin? Or a leopard its spots?  You yourselves would also be able to do good, who are persons taught to do bad.”  This has always been the outcome of the African encounters with the West.  The Western colonizing-leopard cannot change his spots, nor has the Black person's belief in the goodness of the West ever been dulled by the West's betrayal.


Christopher Abani (born 27 December 1966) is a Nigerian and American author. He says he is part of a new generation of Nige...

Abani was born in Afikpo, Nigeria. His father was Igbo, while his mother was of English descent.[1]

He published his first novel, Masters of the Board, in 1985 at the age of 16. It was a political thriller, the plot of which was an allegory based on a coup that was carried out in Nigeria just before it was written. He was imprisoned for six months on suspicion of an attempt to overthrow the government. He continued to write after his release from jail, but was imprisoned for one year after the publication of his 1987 novel Sirocco. After he was released from jail this time, he composed several anti-government plays that were performed on the street near government offices for two years. He was imprisoned a third time and was placed on death row. Luckily, his friends had bribed government officials for his release in 1991, and immediately Abani moved to the United Kingdom, living there until 1999.[2] He then moved to the United States, where he now lives.[3]

When I spoke to Nigerian literary critic Chris Abani of Northwestern University, who was visiting the University of Iowa's International Writing Program (IWP) as the Ida Beam Distinguished Visitor in September 2018, he told me he enjoyed the ending of Black Panther.  And that the answer to my distress was “hope.” 

Palin's attempted insult to Obama using a racial slur referring to members of the Black Church.  Negroes/African Americans live on hope, not trust in White benevolence.  The majority of African Americans saw Palin as White trash—not as a fellow Christian.

Abani's answer also reminds me of James 2:26, “Faith without works is dead.”  When it comes to Western relations with Africa, I put my faith and hope in history and work within it.  President Trump has publicly labeled Africa as being filled with “shit-hole” countries.


To back of my assertion about the West's relationship with Africa and Asia, and why I believe the Western leopard cannot change his/her spots, I'll quote Professor Robert I. Weiner of Lafayette College in his Great Courses video: The Long 19th Century European History from 1789 to 1917 (2005): Although forms of domination, empire, and “imperialism” are as old as civilization, and much of the history of western civilization from the late 15th century through the mid-19th century saw almost continuous colonial activity, European imperialism from the 1880s until about 1905 was remarkable for its intensity, tone, scope, and impact.  (1905 saw the Japanese defeat the Russians in the Russo-Japanese War and this event marked the beginning of the end for European colonialism.) Spurred on, sometimes haphazardly, by national pride, Social Darwinian, and racialist assumptions, the search for economic growth and strategic security, Christian conscience; and human adventure and greed and made possible by the radically superior European technological advantage, the “race” for empire was fueled by the European competitive state system and was often popular among the European public.

 Taking place throughout much of Africa, but also extensively in Asia, and involving a number of colonial wars, or “pacifications,” imperialism fueled European tensions, militarism, and a reconfiguration of the alliance system and functioned as a safety valve for competing European nation states.  Ironically, the only two larger imperial wars between substantial powers occurred between industrialized, “non-European” powers, the United States and Japan versus Spain and Russia, respectively.  At the same time, the bulk of Europe's imperial conflicts were temporarily resolved by compromises and partitions at the expense of Africans and Asians.

Frans Coetzee and Marilyn Shevin-Coetzee in World War I: A History In Documents (2002) write that a dilemma which WWI threw into stark relief but which would not go away was race.  As a world war involving action in Africa and Asia, and as a modern war whose massive casualties stimulated a seemingly insatiable demand for manpower, the conflict forced white Europeans to turn to Chinese laborers and to African and Indian soldier.  American officials reluctantly recruited African Americans to sustain the war effort.  But such service met with renewed intolerance, not gratitude, and a Japanese effort at the war's end to press the victorious Allies to denounce racial discrimination was brushed aside.  The resulting tensions would continue to simmer until after the Second World War, by which time they could no longer be repressed.

Despite all the flowery assurances that WWI had been fought to safeguard personal liberty and democracy, the governments involved refused to apply the principles of freedom and self-determination impartially or universally.  Nowhere was this more true than when the issue of race was involved.


British officials, for example, persisted in thinking of the constituent parts of their empire as subsidiary, colonial possessions whose inhabitants could still not be trusted to govern themselves.  American president Woodrow Wilson refused to meet with an eminent delegation of African Americans headed by W.E.B. Du Bois, who wanted to discuss how Wilson's advocacy of self-determination might impinge on the future of Africa.

Du Bois then convened a Pan-African Congress in Paris, attended by 57 black delegates from around the world, but once again they were ignored.  Such shortsighted, prejudiced responses on the part of the victorious Allies would only promote further difficulty in the future.  An editorial published in the journal West Africa during the Versailles conference expresses exasperation over the failure to “think in advance.”


China Makes A Big Play In Silicon Valley


Chinese companies are pumping massive resources into tech firms in Europe and the U.S. as a way to capture innovation and know-how.
Angela Hsieh/NPR

A year ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping stood before the 19th Communist Party Congress and laid out his ambitious plan for China to become a world leader by 2025 in advanced technologies such as robotics, biotechnology and artificial intelligence.

It was seen as a direct challenge to U.S. leadership in advanced technology. James Lewis, a specialist in China and technology at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says China recognizes that technological superiority helps give the United States an edge in national security and wants in on it.

"The Chinese figured out that technology is the key to wealth and power, and the source of technology is still the West for China," says Lewis. The question is: "How do they get their hands on that Western technology?"

The Chinese government has been forming global partnerships with Western think tanks, recruiting key talent at networking events sponsored by the Chinese government and working with U.S. universities, says Michael Brown, managing director of the Pentagon's Defense Innovation Unit in Mountain View, Calif. The unit was set up in 2015 to help the U.S. military capitalize on emerging commercial technologies.

"I'd say they're very systematic, very long term in their approach and very well-funded," Brown says.

And, he notes, there is serious concern in Washington that China could acquire too much sensitive U.S. technology and transfer it back home.

"They don't play by the same rules that we do. So cybertheft is on the table; industrial espionage is on the table," Brown says.

Just this past week, Bloomberg Businessweek magazine reported the United States was investigating whether China had infiltrated the Pentagon and major companies such as Apple and Amazon by building spy chips into server motherboards. The motherboards were manufactured in China. The companies deny the allegations.

Chinese companies also troll bankruptcy courts, looking for failing U.S. firms, and target small enterprises making valuable technology, such as semiconductors. Chinese companies are also pumping millions of dollars and other resources into tech firms in Europe and the U.S. as a way to capture innovation and know-how.

That's illustrated in Sunnyvale, in the heart of Silicon Valley, where U.S. tech giants including Microsoft, LinkedIn and Yahoo have a presence. Right next to a Google complex is a building housing the offices of Baidu — China's largest Internet provider and Google's rival.

Baidu opened its innovation center, called the Institute of Deep Learning, four years ago, with a focus on a self-driving vehicle called Apollo. Other Chinese tech powerhouses — Alibaba, Tencent and Huawei — also have Silicon Valley research and development centers.

Instead of buying an existing U.S. business, these Chinese tech giants come to the U.S. and build new companies from the ground up, in what's known as "greenfield" investments. Lewis says these Chinese tech companies hire away a lot of U.S. employees who might otherwise work for American businesses.

"People change jobs frequently in the tech industry. And [Chinese businesses] say, 'I'll pay you a little bit more than the market rate.' You'll get a lot of talent," he says. "This is a way to acquire know-how."

Chinese venture capital has helped fuel a surge of minority investments in U.S. tech startups over the past few years. These startups could be working on breakthrough technology.

Adam Lysenko, a senior analyst at Rhodium Group, an economic research firm, says American entities represent the largest venture capital investment in startup technology companies, but Chinese investment accounts for about 15 percent of the deals. In the past eight years, there were more than 1,300 rounds of funding for U.S. startups with at least one Chinese investor, Lysenko says, totaling about $11 billion of Chinese investment.

"It is very common for Chinese firms to have some sort of ties to the government," Lysenko says. "And those ties can be in many different forms. It might just be because they have to answer to the government and party leaders back at home. And that [confers on] the state some level of control essentially over every Chinese firm."

After a record 2017, Rhodium Group predicts 2018 will be another record year for Chinese venture capital into U.S. startups. Lysenko says this has become a concern in national security circles because the nature of emerging technology is inherently dual-use: The artificial intelligence algorithms that help speed up your smartphone could also be applied to weapons on the battlefield.

Chris Nicholson is the CEO of Skymind, a San Francisco-based startup, which makes open-source artificial intelligence tools for businesses and employs about 30 people in the U.S., Canada and Asia. He says the company was fragile at the start — until it got its first investment of $200,000 from Chinese consumer tech powerhouse Tencent.  Jackie Northam/NPR

Lysenko says he is not aware of any "smoking gun" case where Chinese venture capital has plundered sensitive technology from the U.S. with malicious intent. But, he adds, "That being said, I think it's become increasingly acknowledged that this risk exists, that venture capital and other minority investments provide Chinese investors to ... access potentially sensitive technologies, particularly ones that are in ascent, in an early stage where U.S. government, military and other security individuals haven't had a full chance to evaluate the implications of those technologies."

American venture capital still far surpasses Chinese funding. But many American tech startups depend on Chinese investment to stay afloat, says Chris Nicholson, the CEO of Skymind, a San Francisco-based startup that makes open-source artificial intelligence tools for businesses and employs about 30 people in the U.S., Canada and Asia.

Nicholson helped create Skymind in November 2014. He says the company, like many startups, was fragile in the beginning — until it got its first investment of $200,000 from Chinese consumer tech powerhouse Tencent.

"We got that 200K check and nobody else followed, but it allowed us to survive. And that's just, like, the whole trick of startups, is just surviving," he says. "Buy yourself enough time until you can realize your idea and test it on the market."

Nicholson says Skymind now has funding from some major American venture capitalists and a few smaller Chinese ones. He says no investor has ever asked Skymind for confidential technical information.

"Right now, we have a board of two people — me and my co-founder — and we're both American," he says.

For decades, funding for U.S. tech firms like Nicholson's often came through the Defense Department, whose support helped create technological breakthroughs that led to things like semiconductors and miniaturized GPS.

But that Pentagon funding over the years has become slow and cumbersome, while private sector technology creation moved much faster. The Pentagon recognized the problem and, in 2015, set up the Defense Innovative Unit to speed up funding to American startups, says Lt. Col. David Rothzeid, a spokesman with the DIU.

"We're trying to grow the defense industry base by enticing these companies that traditionally wouldn't work with us, and honestly don't need to work with us, but have a great capability that we would all benefit from," he says.

Rothzeid says the DIU has awarded about 80 projects to private commercial tech startups since August 2015. They were able to get those contracts finished in two to three months — "remarkably faster than the traditional procurement system," which could take years, Rothzeid says.

Even as the Pentagon tries to reignite relations with the commercial tech world, Congress is working to curtail Chinese investment. It is broadening the authority of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, an interagency committee based at the Treasury Department that examines national security risks of foreign investments in the U.S.

CFIUS can make recommendations to the president on whether to block deals based on national security concerns — something President Trump has done five times, including blocking a Chinese state-backed company's attempt last September to buy Lattice Semiconductor for $1.3 billion.

In August, Trump signed into law reform of the foreign investment committee, allowing it to more closely scrutinize all sorts of Chinese inroads in the U.S. tech sector, says Mario Mancuso, who leads the international trade and national security practice at Kirkland & Ellis, an international law firm, and is the author of A Dealmaker's Guide to CFIUS.

Mancuso says not everyone in the U.S. business community is happy with the new law. "I think some deals where there are Chinese investors will be a lot harder. More deals will get a lot more scrutiny, and some deals just are not going to happen," he says.

Many U.S. tech companies have pushed back against tougher laws on foreign investment, saying it could strangle innovation. It can take weeks and cost an investor thousands of dollars to do a CFIUS investigation, which can scare off potential investors.

Skymind's Nicholson believes there are legitimate national security interests around technology that deserve legislation, but technology is moving fast in a lot of countries. He warns that the U.S. could be left behind.

"In Washington, D.C., people think innovation is an American monopoly — they think that people can't go anywhere else for innovation," he says. But, he emphasizes, that's not true. "So if we shut the door here, that capital is just going to flow through another door. And it's going to be outside of U.S. jurisdiction."

That's the conundrum now for Washington: how to balance U.S. national security concerns with a drive to be the leader in advanced technology.


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Comment by mary gravitt on October 17, 2018 at 11:45am

The Bible is a great book of philosophy and human behavior.  You can read into it what you want but cannot deny that it is a Western document put together by Western religionists seeking to gain power.  It is similar to Macavelli's Prince on how to gain a kingdom and loose one's soul.  When I saw the King before the United Nations in Black Panther I thought of the foolishness of Hasakiah and Hallie Salasie, both trusting souls before an then unknown enemy.  But Black people and peoples of color have only one enemy, like a leopard that never changes its skin: Western Imperialism and greed for power beyond that of God's. 


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