INTERNATIONAL REPORT

Lindt Cafe

Katrina Dawson was 38-years-old. She was described by the London Daily Mail as a “brilliant young barrister (lawyer) and mother of three.” She was one of the hostages who died in the Sydney café that was held up by a deranged cleric from Iran. Another hostage, Tori Johnson, 34, the café manager, also died, shot while trying to wrestle a shotgun out of the hostage-takers’ hands.

The Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott apologized to Australians for the failure of security services, in not preventing the incident. The man had a history of violence and was known to be an Islamic extremist.

The perpetrator of this awful crime was an immigrant from Iran, given refuge through the generosity and benevolence of the Australian government and people. Australia’s immigration policies are the root cause of the problem here.   Not even the very conservative Mr. Abbott was ready to call for change.

That means more Australians will die at the hands of Islamic extremists.

Quick to capitalize on the situation, left-wingers started a twitter campaign.

#Illridewithyou was the hashtag, in a campaign to encourage Australians to “adopt” a Muslim on the way to work, so they wouldn’t be attacked by angry mobs.

But . . . there were no angry mobs.

Australians are, in the main, an easy-going people who welcome strangers, including Muslim immigrants. There was absolutely no need for a campaign to accompany Muslims to work.

There is, however, a serious need for changes to immigration policy – and not just in Australia!

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There seems to be a greater awareness of the threat posed by Muslim immigration in Germany, where another demonstration took place last weekend, this time in Dresden. Fears of “Islamization” prompted the demonstration, which some claim was driven by neo-Nazis.

At this point, that is questionable.

But one thing is for sure – if nothing is done to curtail Muslim immigration, modern day Nazis will capitalize on the public’s anxiety and we could see a repeat of the 1930’s.

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The 1950s were very much in the news in the United States this week, as news programs remembered the Cuban revolution and Fidel Castro’s coming to power.

It’s been 55 years since Castro came to power, presiding over the first communist government in the western hemisphere. In 1962, tension over Soviet plans to place nuclear weapons on the island, only 500 miles from Florida, led to a major confrontation between Washington and Moscow and threatened a nuclear conflict.

In 1960, economic sanctions were placed on Cuba by the United States. Those sanctions remained in effect for over 50 years. This week, President Obama announced his intention to restore diplomatic relations with the island nation and request Congress to lift the embargo. Pope Francis had used his influence to broker a deal between the two countries, which included the release of long-time prisoners by both nations.

The sanctions have not made sense for a long time. If the US can trade with communist China and communist Vietnam, then why not Cuba?

However, the president seems to have missed out on an opportunity to push for some concessions from Cuba. Although American companies may benefit from investment and trade opportunities, the greater benefit will be to the Cuban people, who should see greater job opportunities and an eventual rise in their standard of living.

 

WILL RUSSIA END NATO?

 

100415a-HQ28-010 NATO Headquarters Brussels.

Time Magazine has an interesting article on “Russia’s Fifth Column” in the latest issue, by Simon Shuster.

The article explains Russia’s modus operandi for re-acquiring its former empire.

The annexation of the Crimea earlier this year and the ongoing problems in eastern Ukraine help give insight.

The idea is to use Russian-speaking people left behind when the Soviet empire collapsed.  There are ten million of them in a number of eastern European countries.  Three notable ones are the Baltic countries, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.  These countries could see a repeat of Ukraine’s experience.

“… Russia’s military support for separatists in eastern Ukraine has sent the clearest message to Russians everywhere.  Moscow has your back.”

The methodology is similar to Hitler’s 75 years ago – get local German (now Russian speakers) to claim discrimination and provoke conflict.  Russia will do the rest, providing arms to local militias or even sending their own troops in, claiming they are locals protecting their own community.

The three Baltic republics are the most vulnerable.  They are all members of NATO so, if Russia invades, the US and other NATO members are obliged to intervene on their behalf.

“Under Article 5 of the treaty that binds NATO together, Washington and its 27 allies are obliged to come to the defense of any member attacked by a foreign power. Should Russia invade Estonia or Latvia, perhaps using the rationale that it is protecting the Russian minorities in those countries – just as it did in Crimea – the West would face a sobering choice: go to war with a nuclear-armed state or back down and accept that NATO is no more.”

Based on this rationale, which makes sense, Putin could bring about the end of NATO quite quickly. If a Russian invasion of a NATO country does not see Article 5 invoked, it would mean the end of the alliance.

My wife and I are going away for a week starting tomorrow. I will not be posting again until Thursday December 18th.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

RICK WARREN’S CALL TO BACK THE POPE

Rick Warren and PopeRick Warren clearly does not know his history.

The Protestant evangelist and best-selling author of The Purpose Driven Church, recently called on protestants to unite with Pope Francis, whom he has referred to as “the Holy Father.”  This news came in the same week as the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Orthodox Church in Istanbul expressed his commitment to church unity during a papal visit to the former capital of the Eastern Roman Empire.

“Christiannews.net” began its report on Warren with the following words:

“In a new video, megachurch leader and author Rick Warren is calling for Christians to unite with Roman Catholics and “Pope Francis,” who Warren recently referred to as the “Holy Father” – a move that is raising concerns among Christians nationwide and is resulting in calls for Warren to repent.” (December 2nd)

In the article, Warren defends the Catholic practices of worshipping Mary and a myriad of saints, saying that Protestants just do not understand what the church is really teaching.

America’s founders would be appalled.

At the time the United States was formed, 98% of Americans were Protestants. Only 1% were Catholic and 1% were of other faiths, including Judaism. Colonial America was “Protestant and virulently anti-Catholic.”  (The King’s Three Faces, by Brendan McConville, 2004, page 7)  The fourteenth colony, Quebec, chose not to join the American rebellion against the crown because they perceived America would be a “protestant republic.”

This anti-Catholicism did not end with the formation of the United States. Anti-Catholic riots continued well into the twentieth century. In 1960, anti-Catholic feeling was a factor in the presidential election, which resulted in the first Catholic president, John F. Kennedy. Concerns were expressed that his loyalty would be to Rome rather than the American people.

Does all this matter any more?

Yes.  It matters for this reason:

For more than a thousand years, the Church of Rome ruled despotically over the nations of western Europe.  The beliefs of the church were and remain unbiblical and even anti-biblical.  The Bible was a forbidden book, denied to all but the priests and most priests could not read.  The struggle for religious freedom and for the Bible itself took centuries.  Brave men like William Tyndale, were put to death by the Church for trying to give the people access to the scriptures.  Even repeating the Lord’s Prayer in English was punishable by being burned at the stake.

There was a gradual proliferation in the number of church denominations after the Protestant Reformation.  The greater number of denominations eventually led to religious toleration, especially in Britain and its colonies.

In addition, the Church was corrupt at every level, partly because it had no competition and there was no free press to keep it in line.  The pope, the cardinals, the bishops and the clergy were all corrupt at times, a direct result of the claim that the pope was appointed by God and that the Church organization was the only way to salvation.  Even today, the official position of the church is that other churches are “deficient.”

Our ancestors on both sides of the Atlantic fought for centuries to be free of Catholic despotism.  The first British settlers chose to settle in what they named James Town as it was hidden from the sea, from Catholic navies that would kill them all if they could find them.  Eventually, it was the British Royal Navy that secured the Protestant ascendancy and guaranteed religious freedom.

We should all be thankful for competition in the religious marketplace.  If there were only one supermarket chain, the price of everything would go up.  If there was only one church organization, human nature being what it is, we would pay an awful price in loss of freedom and the despotism that would follow.

The Church of Rome may appear to be an angel of light but in the right circumstances it could revert to its old ways.  II Corinthians 11:14 warns:   “And no wonder, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.”   Our ancestors understood this.

I hope Rick Warren (and the Pope) will do a rethink on church unity.

ANGELA MERKEL — THE MOST POWERFUL WOMAN IN THE WORLD

angela-merkel-wladimir-putin

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, is the most powerful woman in the world.

Consider the following:

She has been the prime minister of Germany for almost ten years. Only Putin has led a major power longer. Compared to her, other major leaders lack longevity and experience.

She speaks on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin once or twice a week.   Putin speaks German while Merkel speaks Russian, though not as well as Putin’s German.   She has talked with Putin more than Obama, Cameron, and (French President) Hollande combined. They remain two of the most popular leaders in the world – Putin’s approval rating has been as high as 90%, Merkel’s at 75%.

On June 6th, the seventieth anniversary of D-Day, Merkel met with Obama, Cameron, Hollande and Putin, leaders of the four victorious allies.   The supreme irony is that, almost seven decades after Germany’s defeat, Merkel was the star attraction, clearly leading the others. Everybody wanted to talk with her.

She is able to dictate economic policy to the other 27 member nations of the European Union.

She is deeply committed to European unity, believing that Europe makes Germany bigger. She is sometimes described as the Chancellor of Europe.

Merkel’s refusal even to consider a British proposal to change EU migrant policy was a clear signal that she is willing to let the British go, to leave the EU.

She is deeply committed to Israel.

All except one of the above facts appears in a lengthy and fascinating article on the German Chancellor, “The Quiet German,” by George Packer, in the latest New Yorker magazine (December 1st).

A great deal is changing in Europe and Merkel is at the center of the changes.

Again, consider:

Anti-Americanism in Germany is greater now than it has been for over thirty years.  

Barely half of Germans have a favorable view of the US, the lowest figure in Europe, except for Greece. Germans were deeply offended by revelations that the US was spying on their country, including listening in to the Chancellor’s private mobile phone calls. Additionally, the article reveals that at the height of the eurozone financial crisis, when Merkel repeatedly called the US President, he refused to answer or return the calls.  

Earlier this year, when Putin lied to Merkel, she refused to take his calls the following week, a way of showing her displeasure.   The Russians panicked as Germany is the one country they cannot do without.   Desperate to put things right, they reminded the Germans that if the two countries got together, like in 1939, they would be the greatest power in the world.

Watch out, America – do not take German support for granted.   Germany is in the drivers’ seat of the European Union, the world’s biggest single market. This is a very powerful and influential position to be in.   If Germany distances itself from America, others will follow.

The Book of Revelation shows that the world is going to witness a revived Roman Empire, with ten nations coming together to form the prophesied Beast-power.

REV 17:12 tells us that “the ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast.”

The only nation in Europe that is capable of leading these countries is Germany, geographically placed at the heart of the continent and the most powerful economy.

The Old Testament prophetic Book of Daniel also shows us that this revived Roman Empire has a role to play in the nation of Israel, which makes Angela Merkel’s deep commitment to Israel of particular interest. It is doubtful that Merkel will be around long enough to be involved in the fulfillment of these verses, but the groundwork for future events is already being laid.

DAN 9:27 “Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week.” The NKJV marginal note says the “he” here is likely the Antichrist that will appear before Christ’s return. “And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate” is a prophecy about the end-time event that is reminiscent of the abomination carried out by Antiochus Epiphanes in the second century before Christ.   The Expositer’s Bible Commentary adds further insight: “If it was a ruler of the Roman people who was to destroy Jerusalem (in AD 70), then it would be a ruler of the Roman Empire – in its final phase, i.e. the ten-toes phase of ch 2 and the ten-horned beast of ch 7 — who will conclude this covenant.” (page 1389)

Just today, there are rumors that the Obama Administration is going to place sanctions on Israel for its continued building of new homes on the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Relations with Israel have been strained. Those strains are worsening as Israelis turn to the right politically.   An election is due next year.

A reduced American commitment to Israel will leave the latter looking for alternative international backing. Some European countries are in the process of recognizing Palestine as an independent state, which will put further pressure on Israel.

Europe is playing an increasing role in the Middle East.   Look for more European involvement in the region, led by Germany.

 

 

 

 

 

ONE-SIDED NEWS

Zemir Begic
Zemir Begic

Zemir Begic will never be as famous as Michael Brown. Yet both men died on a Missouri street and both deaths were likely connected.

“Zemir Begic, a 32-year-old man who emigrated from war-torn Bosnia almost two decades ago in search of a better life, was bludgeoned to death Sunday, allegedly by a group of hammer-wielding teenagers, one of whom has been charged as an adult. Begic was driving with his fiancée, Arijana Mujkanovic, and a male passenger at about 1:15 a.m. Sunday in St. Louis when five teenagers began pounding his vehicle with a hammer, according to police. When Begic confronted them, he was struck in the mouth, face, head and body with hammers and died at a nearby hospital.” (Fox News website)

The five teens were black while Begic was white. The 70,000-strong Bosnian community in the St Louis area is convinced the murder was a hate crime, an indirect consequence of the racial tension in and around nearby Ferguson.

This particular news item did not make it to network news. I saw it on the Fox News website.

Sadly, it remains the case that mainstream media ignores most cases of blacks murdering whites, while, as Ferguson shows, dwelling for inordinate lengths of time on blacks being the victims of whites (Michael Brown and Eric Garner are two classic examples of this).

The media is largely to blame for the riots that engulfed Ferguson and other cities the past few days. If ABC, CBS and NBC had given as much time to the death of Michael Brown and subsequent developments as they did to Zemir Begic, we would have had no riots.

The deaths of both Michael Brown and Zemir Begic are tragic.

It’s also tragic, in a different way, to witness what has become of most television news. The bias is clear.   And nothing will be done about it, unless we all, en masse, stop watching until they clean up their act.

SERIOUS THREATS TO OUR ANCIENT LEGAL SYSTEM

Ted Stevens

The 12-man jury system goes back to the twelfth century under King Henry II and was confirmed in the Magna Carta (1215).   It’s even possible it goes back further to Anglo-Saxon England, prior to the Norman invasion of 1066.

Nobody has ever suggested that it is a perfect system but it beats every alternative known to man. It must have been quite reassuring to hundreds of thousands of people down through the centuries to know that, when falsely accused, they had to be judged by “twelve of their peers.”

So we should all be concerned that the jury system is seriously threatened.

I first noticed this forty years ago in a former British colony in Africa.   The English Common Law was exported to British colonies, including the thirteen American colonies that eventually became the United States.

But the system, like democracy itself, may not be culturally exportable. The problem I noticed in Africa was that juries were greatly influenced by ethnicity. Put another way, if a member of a certain tribe was on trial, members of other tribes would automatically find him guilty without due consideration of the evidence.

This obvious prejudice kept us out of court in 1982 following a serious collision between our Land Rover and a bus. Passengers on the bus testified that the driver was drunk and dancing at the wheel at the time of the crash. But, we were advised that going to trial would be pointless as he was from the area where the accident took place. No jury from that area would convict him.

I don’t remember when it was but I do remember the time in England when it was decided that a jury could convict a murderer with a 10-2 vote, instead of the former 12. My immediate thought was why change a system that has served the country well for over eight centuries?

Grand juries go back to 1166. Again, Henry II was the monarch behind the idea.   A Grand Jury was not limited to 12 men. It could be as many as 23 men, hence the term “grand” as against a regular trial jury. Today, the US is one of the few countries that retain the grand jury system. It is used to determine whether or not a person should be sent for a trial, in effect to determine if anything criminal has taken place.

The grand jury that sat in Ferguson, Missouri, was composed of twelve people, three of them black. They sat for months hearing testimony from a number of people, including the accused police officer, Darren Wilson. Their determination was that there was no case to send Wilson to trial. Rioting erupted immediately and has continued sporadically since.   As in Africa, ethnicity could make it impossible to hold a trial.

Different people reading this will have differing views on the decision of the grand jury.   The concern I want to express is about the system itself.

If a grand jury or a trial jury cannot meet without taking into account the mob outside, then the jury system will fall apart. For centuries, respect for the jury system was such that when a decision was made, the public supported that decision, even if they did not agree with it. The system itself was highly respected.

If mob rule threatens the jury system, what will replace it?   Juries are composed of regular people selected at random.   Those countries that do not have a jury system use judges appointed by government with no jury. Is that what we want?

The prophet Isaiah wrote of a time in ancient Judah when there was no justice and seemingly no concept of it. We are in a similar time today. “No one calls for justice, Nor does any plead for truth.” (Isa 59:4) “The way of peace they have not known, And there is no justice in their ways. (v.8)”

I should add that Ferguson is not the only threat to our legal system.

Bill Cosby illustrates another problem. He has been accused of sexual assault by a number of different women. Without a trial, the media and the population at large seem to have found the man guilty, thereby effectively ending his career.

Both situations threaten our legal system. Is this really what we want?

POPE’S VISIT TO ISTANBUL

Pope in Turkey

What’s behind the Pope’s visit to Istanbul?

It should always be remembered that the Vatican is a country, with its own king, the Pope.   Historically, Vatican meddling in secular affairs has contributed greatly to human conflict. This is particularly true when it comes to the historic struggle between Islam and Christendom.   Popes have been instrumental in leading the West against Islam.

Pope Francis’ visit to Istanbul can hardly be described as pastoral, as there are only 35,000 Catholics in Turkey.   It’s therefore safe to assume the visit was political. What did the pope have in mind?

This visit was the fourth time a pope has visited Turkey. The first was Pope Paul VI in 1967. He caused quite an upset when he prayed in the Hagia Sophia, the sixth century church built by the Emperor Justinian. When Istanbul (then called Constantinople) fell to the Muslim Turks in 1453, the church was turned into a mosque. Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Repubic, turned it into a secular museum 80 years ago.   Pope Francis was careful not to pray in the 1,500-year-old building, not wishing to provoke Muslim sensibilities.

The visit was intended to improve relations, firstly between the primary leader of Christendom and his equal, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, the 270th person to hold the title. Both churches go back a long way.   The historic schism between the two occurred almost a thousand years ago, in 1054.   Threatened by secularism and Islamic extremism, both leaders talk about unity, but, after a millennium, it’s not likely to happen.   This does not, however, mean they cannot work together.

The pope is also interested in establishing closer relationships with the Islamic world. Unlike the Orthodox Church, there is no primary leader in Islam, but the pope is concerned about the worsening situation in the Middle East. A century ago, most of the countries that are in turmoil today were ruled from Istanbul as regions of the Ottoman Empire, the same Turkish Empire that conquered Constantinople in the fifteenth century. Istanbul was, therefore, a good place to start to reach some sort of rapprochement with Islam.

The pope called on Islamic countries to roundly condemn ISIS and to protect religious minorities in their midst. The whole region has witnessed a great deal of persecution of Christians in recent decades, after centuries of fairly peaceful relations between the two major religions.

With the persecutions in mind, the pope should have asked the religiously conservative leader of Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, what happened to the Christians after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. The official answer is that their conqueror, Mehmed I, generously gave them the freedom to practice their religion, as evidenced by the presence of a small community today. Only 1% of the country now is Christian. One thousand years ago, almost all the people were Christians. I asked this question a number of times during a visit to Turkey but never got a truthful answer.   History shows that while some fled to Italy (and contributed to the Renaissance), most were killed, sold into slavery or forced to convert.

It’s what we can all expect if ISIS defeats the West.

Is the papacy once again going to lead the West against resurgent Islam?

"Once in a while you will stumble upon the truth but most of us manage to pick ourselves up and hurry along as if nothing had happened." — Sir Winston Churchill

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