US AND UK OUT OF COMMISSION

“In the United States and the United Kingdom – two of the world’s oldest democracies – national governments are at a standstill.   This, for better or worse, could be the future of politics.   It will be a system in which things have to get worse before they can get … worse.    Perpetual political gridlock: it won’t be pretty, and for many it may be painful.

“Both the US government’s shutdown and the UK’s Brexit have become problems with no exit.   Every strategy offered fails for lack of legislative support or national leadership.   The American and British political classes look intellectually exhausted and clueless about a path forward.”  (Gridlock is the new normal,” by Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal, 1/17/19)

The above about sums it up.   The two nations that have dominated the world for as long as anybody can remember are essentially out of commission.

What will this mean?

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AMERICAN WITHDRAWAL FROM MIDDLE EAST

Middle East Chaos Will Escalate Following the Departure of the Americans:   If America departs the Middle East, then the region will become a free-for-all for others.    

The National Interest * January 17, 2019, by Tanya Goudsouzian: a Canadian journalist who has covered Iraq and Afghanistan for over fifteen years.  She is former Opinion editor of Al Jazeera English Online.

The inexorable direction of the U.S. administration is towards less intervention, less engagement, and fewer “dumb wars in the Middle East.”   Although Pompeo may trumpet steadfastness, the U.S. president can pivot on a dime.

The smart money is on disengagement from the region and anyone who thinks subsequent administrations will rush back in will probably be disappointed.

In filling that vacuum in Syria, expect the Russians, the Iranians and the Turks to rush in or stay in.  They have kept their eyes on the prize; to them, it’s not just about Syria but the whole region.

. . . Europe must also understand the consequences of yielding significant Western influence in the region.

. . . More Russian territorial influence means less European territorial influence.   More Chinese trade crowds out European trade.   Iranian ideological expansion displaces Arab cultural norms. All mean “less Europe,” and certainly more instability.

. . . America’s departure will not be leaving the region to itself, but to a free-for-all for others.   And to put it bluntly, the others may not (and probably do not) share the vision or values of the European experiment.    If Europe is unwilling to “up its game” when the Americans withdraw, then it may find the only thing worse than U.S. hegemony is everything else

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TRUMP THREAT TO ISRAEL

“The strategic reality facing the new chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, will depend largely on one factor – the political situation in the United States.   More precisely, it will depend on the vagaries of U.S. President Donald Trump.    At the outset of 2019, the Trump administration continues to convey uncertainty and instability.   The amount of news generated by the president in one week, like this past one, is equivalent to several months’ worth with previous presidents.

“Trump hunkered down in the White House, telling interviewers that he hadn’t emerged in months, forgetting for a moment his frequent trips.   He’s up to his neck in the crisis resulting from the government shutdown, continuing with his promises to build his wall on the Mexican border.   But the latest crisis is only a symptom.   The deluge of headlines in recent days included the following.

“The FBI investigation into Trump began right after he was sworn in two years ago, on suspicions he was a spy or acting on Russia’s behalf.   There was a report he was considering an American withdrawal from NATO, an idea whose very mention sends shivers down the spines of strategic experts, Democrats and Republicans alike.   There was also news of a secret plan initiated by the national security adviser, John Bolton, for attacking targets in Iran.”  (“A wild card thousands of miles away,” by Amos Harel, Haaretz, January 18)

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US-EUROPEAN TRADE WAR

“Transatlantic trump trading” was the title of today’s Brussels Briefing, by Jim Brunsden.

“Ideally trade negotiations between countries should begin on a note of hope:   the desire to deepen economic ties, nurturing prosperity and friendship among their peoples.

But optimism and positivity are not the words that first come to mind when thinking about the talks about to start between the EU and US.

Brussels is expected today to publish its plans for negotiations with Washington that were conceived last year as a way to divert Donald Trump from initiating a full blown transatlantic trade war.”

Things aren’t looking good.   Expect a full-blown trade war between the two trading superpowers.

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BREXIT

The PM has pulled out of a scheduled appearance at Davos next weekend to handle her crisis at home.   (Politico)

Mrs. May has ruled out any further delays on Brexit.   Speaking with Holland’s PM, Mark Rutte, she convinced the PM that there would be no attempt to prolong Brexit beyond March 29th.

The Labour Party’s leader, Jeremy Corbin, gave a strong anti-EU speech, finally making it clear where he stands on the issue.

Leo Varadkar, Irish Prime Minister, is a major obstacle to Brexit.   Brexiteer Lord Lamont says that his refusal to amend the “Irish backstop” makes it impossible to reach agreement on other issues.

From Melanie Phillips, Daily Mail, 1/19/19:

“Current events in Britain’s Parliament are making politics in both Israel and America look positively sane and tranquil by comparison.

Around the world, jaws are dropping at the UK’s convulsions over leaving the European Union.   This resembles not so much a divorce as an amputation without anesthetic using blunt knives and a broken saw, with the surgeons throwing punches across the operating table.

“This week, the deal struck between Prime Minister Theresa May and the EU over the Brexit terms was thrown out by an enormous majority in the House of Commons.

Although this was the largest prime ministerial defeat in British history, Mrs. May survived a motion of no-confidence the following evening.”

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LA PUBLIC SCHOOLS STRIKE

LA teachers are on strike, demanding more pay and smaller classes. Sometimes, there are up to 35 pupils per class.

That’s definitely too many.   By comparison, there are 26 in one of my grandchildren’s schools.   The others are in the mid-twenties.  Private schools keep theirs down to 20, which is why their children receive more attention.

One reason for the mess in Los Angeles is that the schools are overwhelmed by immigrants.   One school reported on this week is 70% Hispanic, only 10% white.

It’s impossible for schools to keep up with the demand on their services.

Immigration is a major focus of Brexit – most people voted for Brexit because they wanted less European immigrants in the country.   It’s the same thing here in the US – most people want to keep the country as it is, and not allow other cultures to dominate.   Those at the bottom have to compete with new immigrants who are willing to work for less.

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And finally . . .

 

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RASHIDA TLAIB

Rashida Tlaib was kicked out of a Donald Trump event during the 2016 election. She wasn’t sorry then, and will likely remain a strong anti-Trump voice. (Bustle website, By Joseph D. Lyons, Aug 8 2018)

Rashida Tlaib became the first Muslim woman to enter Congress earlier this month.   From Detroit, the lady has already succeeded in re-writing American history.   She famously described the president using a particularly offensive expletive and made an untrue statement that has not been challenged by anyone.   In talking about the use of the Koran in the swearing in, she said:

“I like that,” the Democrat told CNN. “I like that it’s kind of pushing against the stereotype that somehow we’re new to this country.”

Ahh, but Muslims are new to this country.

There’s no record of any before the US Civil War.   If there were, no doubt there would be Muslims buried in Civil war cemeteries.

It is estimated that between 10-20% of African-American arrivals during the slave trade were Muslim, but they were forced to convert to Christianity upon arrival.   They were also forced to accept Christian names.

So, when did Muslims arrive?   From the 1880’s to 1914, many arrived in America as refugees from the Ottoman Empire.

In 1929 the country’s first ever mosque was built, in Chicago.

It was after 1965, the year that Senator Edward Kennedy introduced his Immigration Reform Bill, that Muslims started to arrive en masse.   Additionally, a high birth rate contributed to rapid growth.

“In 2005, more people from Muslim-majority countries became legal permanent United States residents – nearly 96,000 – than there had been in any other year in the previous two decades.   In 2009, more than 115,000 Muslims became legal residents of the United States.”  (Wikipedia, Islam in America.)

So, the real growth in the numbers of Muslims, is fairly recent.

WAS JEFFERSON A MUSLIM?

Most Americans would have been surprised when she was sworn in as a US Congresswoman on Thomas Jefferson’s Koran.   This news has been received with great enthusiasm by the anti-Christian media, ever desirous of distancing American history from its Christian roots.

Now, owning a Koran does not make you a Muslim.   I have one in my library.

But, in the history of US-Muslim relations, Jefferson’s copy may have had more significance.

The Barbary pirates were America’s first major foreign policy challenge following independence.   Four Muslim nations along the North African coast (Algiers, Tripoli, Tunis and Morocco) were seizing shipping and US sailors in the western Mediterranean.   It is estimated that between 1 million and 1.25 million white slaves were being held by these slave-owning nations at this time.   The only nations that escaped were those who paid a ransom to the Arab countries.   The US did this for a while, giving a full 10% of its annual budget.   Clearly, this could not go one.

Attacks on American shipping began in 1784 and continued for about twenty years.

“In March 1786, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams went to London to negotiate with Tripoli’s envoy, ambassador Sidi Haji Abdrahaman (or Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja).   When they enquired “concerning the ground of the pretensions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury,” the ambassador replied:

“It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise.   He said, also, that the man who was the first to board a vessel had one slave over and above his share, and that when they sprang to the deck of an enemy’s ship, every sailor held a dagger in each hand and a third in his mouth; which usually struck such terror into the foe that they cried out for quarter at once.””

“Jefferson reported the conversation to Secretary of Foreign Affairs John Jay, who submitted the ambassador’s comments and offer to Congress.   Jefferson argued that paying tribute would encourage more attacks.   Although John Adams agreed with Jefferson, he believed that circumstances forced the U.S. to pay tribute until an adequate navy could be built.   The U.S. had just fought an exhausting war, which put the nation deep in debt.”  (“First Barbary War,” Wikipedia)     (Note:   the word”musselman” is an old term for Muslims.)

Although there is no official record of when Jefferson acquired his copy of the Koran, this seems the most likely.   He was reading it to better inform himself on the actions of the Arab leaders America was threatened by.   Such a course would be advisable today.

The turning point in the war was the Battle of Derma in 1805, when US and mercenary troops, captured the Tripolitan city of Derma. They were then able to use the conquered city as a bargaining chip for the release of US personnel and to impose a peace.

During this twenty-year period the US acted alone, as all the European countries were pre-occupied with fighting Napoleon.

If we do not read more American history, people like Rashida Tlaib will get the better of us, making exaggerated claims by Muslims.

Ms Tlaib should also be mindful of what the Bible says about Jesus Christ.

“Neither is there salvation in any other;  for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)

He can even help you clean up your language!

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ISLAMIC PARTY OF ONTARIO

In addition to the four main parties already contesting elections in Ontario, there is now an Islamic party.

“It operates with a mandate to introduce Islamic rule in Ontario and Canada because, according to the fledgling party,   “We understand and believe that Islam is the native DEEN (religion) of Ontario and Canada.”

“The Islamic Party of Ontario is headed by one Jawed Anwar, who operates out of the Toronto neighborhood of Thorncliffe Park.” (Middle East Forum, Tarek Fatah, 1/1/19)

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Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour says the prophet Muhammed was a human rights activist

On December 2, 2018, Palestinian-American political activist Linda Sarsour spoke at the 2018 Salam Annual Banquet, held at the Salam Community Center in Sacramento, CA.   She criticized President Trump for moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, saying:   “I declare to all of you here today in Sacramento that Jerusalem is and always will be the capital of Palestine.”   Calling the Trump administration fascist, she encouraged Muslims to become involved in politics even if their mosques usually avoid politics, because, she said, simply being Muslim is a political act. The Prophet Muhammad, she asserted, was a human rights activist, adding that there is no need for workers’ rights movements, environmental justice movements, or Black Lives Matter movements, or anti-racism or feminism, because Islam taught these values long before they were hashtags or movements.   She added:   “I don’t need people in the West, people in Europe, or people in the United States . . . to teach me what feminism is.”   (MEMRI, No. 7878, January 9 2019)

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SAUDI JOURNALIST WRITES:

In his July 8, 2018 column in the Saudi daily Al-Jazirah, Muhammad Al-Sheikh slams Arab and African Muslim immigrants who choose to live in the West and even risk their lives to reach it, yet express hatred and contempt towards the West and regard it as infidel.   He criticizes in particular the ingratitude of mosque imams in Europe, some of whom are immigrants themselves, who abuse the democracy and free speech in their host countries by inciting against the West.   In light of this, says Aal Al-Sheikh, the European right’s opposition to immigration is justifiable, for it is only natural to oppose the influx of immigrants who are “steeped to the bone in a culture of hostility and hatred.” (MEMRI, 7840. 1/10/19)

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America is heading for an almighty fight over presidential authority  (Leaders * Jan 9th 2019 * The Economist)

THE GOVERNMENT has partially shut down.  Again.   No other advanced democracy has government shutdowns.   In America they have become almost routine.   This is the third since Donald Trump became president and by far the most damaging.   The others were resolved quickly; this is already the second-longest on record. It is not happening because America is in turmoil: the country is not at war, unemployment is as low as it has ever been.   It is happening because that is what the president wants.

What is playing out in Washington is the denouement of a political fight.

Mr. Trump was elected on a promise to build a wall on the southern border, though Mexico was supposed to pay for it.   The new Democratic majority in the House is reluctant to give the president a victory on his best-known policy.   The Senate majority leader, who might be able to end the standoff, is AWOL.

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Stretched Thin

In fact, living paycheck to paycheck – meaning there’s not a cash cushion to cover the bills if the income stops for awhile – is a common condition in America.   In the 12th richest nation in the world by per capita GDP, nearly 8 in 10 U.S. workers live paycheck to paycheck, according to a 2017 study by CareerBuilder, a human capital management firm.   And the trend crosses over income groups:   more than half of minimum wage workers said they needed to hold down two jobs to make ends meet, while one in 10 workers earning $100,000 or more yearly say they live paycheck to paycheck.

And if there’s an emergency?   A large number of Americans don’t have an accessible stash of money to cover a substantial health care expense or car repair, studies show.   The Federal Reserve Board in 2017 found that 44 percent of American households surveyed could not cover a $400 emergency expense.   A separate BankRate study last year yielded similar results, finding that while 34 percent of those surveyed had experienced a major unexpected expense in the previous year, just 39 percent of those surveyed said they could tap $1,000 from savings to cover it.   (“Stretched Thin,” US News, Susan Milligan, 1/11/19)

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FROM THE EURO TO BREXIT

The Euro is twenty years old this month.  The Telegraph’s finance writer, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard wrote an article commemorating the anniversary.   Here’s an excerpt.

“While EU leaders quibbled over decimal points and debt repayment in Brussels, youth jobless rates reached 57pc in Greece, 56pc in Spain, and much the same across Italy’s Mezzogiorno.  These were levels once unthinkable in a modern developed democracy.  They have left a wreckage of ‘labour hysteresis’ that will lower economic speed limits for a generation to come.

“Several hundred thousand economic refugees came to work in Britain from the EMU depression belt.   A further wave from Eastern Europe came to the UK instead of going to the eurozone as they would have done in normal times.   The double surge had maximum impact just before the Referendum.

“More subtly, the euro crisis revealed that the pathologies of monetary union cannot be managed by normal democratic means. The elected prime ministers of Greece and Italy were toppled in 2010 and 2011 and replaced by EU functionaries in soft coups organized by Brussels and the pro-EMU vested interests of each country.

“The ECB switched off liquidity support for Greek commercial banks in 2015, knowingly (and illegally?) precipitating a banking collapse that was hard to reconcile with the ECB’s treaty duty to uphold financial stability.   When push come to shove, the reflex was authoritarian.   It spoke to the character of the EU.   That I why I voted for Brexit.”

 

 

 

JAMESTOWN AND IDENTITY

Bernard Lewis was a British American writer on international affairs.  He was an expert on oriental studies and Islam.  He died this year.

Mark Steyn wrote the following about him in his weekly column:

“Bernard Lewis, the west’s preeminent scholar of Islam, worked for British intelligence through the grimmest hours of the Second World War.   “In 1940, we knew who we were, we knew who the enemy was, we knew the dangers and the issues,” he told The Wall Street Journal.   “In our island, we knew we would prevail, that the Americans would be drawn into the fight.   It is different today.   We don’t know who we are, we don’t know the issues, and we still do not understand the nature of the enemy.”   All true.  (12/31)

Thanks to digital television, you can now see old TV shows from the 60’s.   That includes British TV shows, such as The Saint, Danger Man, the Avengers and Doctor Who.  I quite like the first two, but never enjoyed the last two.  I am one of the few people left alive who can remember seeing the premiere of the first episode of “Dr Who.”  I seem to remember it was made on a budget of about twenty pounds!   (Ok, so I exaggerate!  A little.)

Anyway, I occasionally watch “The Saint” and “Danger Man” if only to see the England I grew up in, the England that Bernard Lewis was writing about.   Back then, over fifty years ago, the Citizens of England were English.   Their ancestors had lived on the island for over one thousand years.   Now they come from anywhere and everywhere.   This has complicated life immensely.   Now we don’t know who we are, we don’t see the enemy clearly and we certainly do not understand the nature of the enemy.

Another thing strikes me – there was no obsession with Europe.   These programs were made 50 to 60 years ago, before Britain entered the EU.   Note for all those panicking over Brexit, nobody was starving and Britain played a major role internationally, as “Danger Man” showed.

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JAMESTOWN

“Jamestown,” on the surface, is a very good show.   It’s based on fact, though the individual stories are fictional.   The physical challenges are all there.   It’s set in 1619, the year that the first females landed in the colony, after twelve years.   It also happens to be the first year that slaves were imported into America.   Additionally, it was the year that the first democracy was established in the Americas.

People often forget that the American colonies were democracies, that they each had their own House of Burgesses, or whatever they chose to call it.   In colonial Williamsburg you can go into the House of Burgesses and see the colonial parliament as it was.   Now, there’s an attempt to denigrate this by claiming that the United States owes its origins and inspiration to the Iroquois Confederacy, the union of six (Native American) tribes that dominated the north east of the country.

It’s all a part of the ongoing denigration of the Anglo –Saxon – Celtic peoples who really did found the colony of Virginia and the other colonies. “Jamestown” will likely digress to show that the African slaves and the Native Americans contributed more than their fair share to the economic development of the colony.   History is being rewritten as we slide ever further into multiculturalism and political correctness!  The second series begins Monday on PBS.

The Bible says: “where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18)   The people who founded Jamestown had a vision of establishing an English colony with representative government.   It was also dedicated to Protestantism.

It led, in time, to the establishment of the United States of America.

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BREXIT is yet another example of identity politics, the struggle of half the people to reclaim their national identity and birth right.

“In theory, Britain is leaving the EU on 29 March 2019.   But the legal small print, published by Brussels, shows what this means. Parliament will be asked to ratify a deal which clearly admits that ‘all references to ‘Member States’ and competent authorities of Member States . . . shall be read as including the United Kingdom.’ (Article 7)    So the UK will be bound by EU laws, at least during a transition period.   But this ‘transition period’ can be be made to last forever (Article 132).  And even if a successor deal is agreed, the UK will have signed away other rights for years to come.”   (“The top 40 horrors lurking in the small print of Theresa May’s Brexit deal,” The Spectator, 12.30 18.)

The title of this article says it all.  “The top 40- horrors” in the proposed agreement illustrate that Brexit is impossible if the UK pushes for a deal with the EU.   Better to go ahead with no deal on March 29th.

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A GOOD YEAR FOR ISRAEL

Israel’s identity is clearer – it’s the national home of the Jewish people.

Things have been going the country’s way, as highlighted by an article in “Israel Today.”    “Everything Israel Endured and achieved in 2018” (dated 1.1.19).

Firstly, there was President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.   This was followed recently by Australia.   Guatemala and Brazil are two other nations that have changed their stance.

Secondly, the US and some other western countries finally decided to act against the “pay for slay” policy of the Palestinians.   Under this policy, the Palestinians forked out $355 million annually to terrorists’ families, compensating them for the loss of a family member engaged in acts of terror.   The US decided to withhold $215 million annually to the PA under the Taylor Force Act, named after an American murdered in Israel by a Palestinian terrorist.

The Trump Administration also decided to stop funding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), an organization that gives aid to Palestinians.

Thirdly, thanks largely to outgoing US Ambassador Nikki Haley, the UN voted to condemn Hamas, in a vote that was 87 for and 57 against.   (There are 57 Muslim nations in the Islamic Conference.)

Another very real sign of progress has been Israel’s reaching out to Sunni Arab states, finding areas of common interest with Saudi Arabia, Oman and other Gulf Arab states.   The Sunni Arab countries all share a common fear of Iran.

Prime Minister Netanyahu also visited Chad and Azerbaijan, two Muslim countries a long way from Israel.   Right now, he is in Brazil, a country whose new conservative government is going to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The like-minded Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, has been working on measures to stop anti-semitism from becoming a bigger problem in the EU.

Mr. Kurz, sometimes labeled a “Nazi” for his right wing views, has ironically turned out to be Israel’s best friend in the EU.

“On the security front, the year began with a huge Israeli success when a 100-man strong Mossad team succeeded in stealing a large part of the secret Iranian nuclear archive under the noses of the mullahs in Tehran.   The more than 11,000 documents and disks that the Mossad smuggled to Israel indicated that Iran has never abandoned its plan to obtain a nuclear weapon.”

So, 2018 was a good year for Israel.

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NEW US CONGRESS HAS A RECORD NUMBER OF WOMEN

The former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt may not be the first person you would think of when you ponder Isaiah 3:12:   “As for my people, children are their oppressors and women rule over them.”   But the late First Lady did inadvertently shed some light on the scripture.

In a 1951 radio program, which I heard on BBC Radio 4, she enthusiastically spoke about the role women had played in Congress.   At the time women had only had the vote for thirty years.

“All the great social reforms have taken place since women got the vote”, was the verdict of Mrs. Roosevelt.

If you overlook the first social reform, Prohibition, which was a disaster, others include social security.   Her husband, Franklin Roosevelt, was responsible for the three R’s, Relief, Recovery and Reform and set America on the road to socialism in the first five years of his presidency.

If you accept the claim that “all the great social reforms have taken place since women got the vote,” another way of putting this is that “the road to national bankruptcy began in the 1930’s with all the great social reforms,” for every social reform adds to the nation’s debts.

And this new Congress is set to increase them further.

While the media boasts of “diversity,” and much has been made of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ radical socialism, more social reforms are expected to follow.   Her top two priorities are Medicare for all and forgiveness of student debt.   Norah O’Donnell this morning announced enthusiastically, talking of the new entrants to Congress, that “Trump has met his match!”

Our national identity is being threatened, with all this talk of “diversity” and radical socialism.

 

 

 

SYRIAN WITHDRAWAL RISKS ISIS REBOUND

U.S. Soldiers observe Turkish forces in the distance while on patrol outside Manbij, Syria, August 7, 2018.  These independent, coordinated patrols are to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS in the region. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Nicole Paese)

Wednesday US President Donald Trump announced that America had beaten ISIS and would soon depart from Syria.   The decision involves 2,200 US military personnel.   The news that ISIS had been beaten came as a surprise to allies and enemies alike.

Later in the day, the following was posted by germanforeignpolicy.com:

(Own report) – “German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas’ brief visit to Baghdad is accompanied by reports that the IS militia (Islamic State) is regaining strength.   Maas was in the Iraqi capital yesterday for talks with Iraq’s new Prime Minister to emphasize Berlin’s push for obtaining stronger influence in Iraq.   He also promoted a billion-euro deal with Siemens and listened to his Baghdad counterpart’s call for Iraqi refugees to return to their homeland.   According to reports, Iraqi authorities are not only responsible for the slow reconstruction of Sunni regions, but Sunnis are being also detained arbitrarily, tortured or condemned to death without proof of guilt. “This is not just revenge on the IS,” explained a senior intelligence officer, “this is revenge on Sunnis.”   Observers warn that this will refill the ranks of the still existing IS in clandestinity, which has again “taken the offensive.””

“As Christmas and the New Year approach, Islamic State (ISIS) supporters have begun to produce posters threatening terror attacks against Christians and inhabitants of Western countries during the holiday season.   Some of the posters threaten impending attacks, particularly by lone operatives, as retaliation for ongoing airstrikes on the organization’s strongholds in eastern Syria, by the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.   Others warn Westerners not to leave their homes on Christmas, while some posters specifically threaten attacks in New York City and London.”   (MEMRI, 12/20)

President Putin praises move to withdraw from Syria, saying that there is no need for US troops to be in the country.   So, why do Russian troops need to be there?

Two headlines from Thursday’s Wall StreetJournal:

“US Pullout could boost ISIS in Syria.”                                                         “Quick exit would add to struggles of Kurdish-led force fighting militant group.”

Additionally, President Trump is to pull 7,000 troops out of Afghanistan.

TWO FOREIGN GIRLS KILLED BY ISIS IN MOROCCO:   Two Scandinavian tourists, aged 24 and 28, were beheaded in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains by men claiming allegiance to ISIS.

BREAKING NEWS: (Friday AM)

ISIS threatens Drone Attack on New York City 

ISIS has issued a chilling new threat to plague the US and the EU with drone attacks.   It comes after a drone near London’s Gatwick Airport caused travel chaos with hundreds of flights cancelled.  

The extremist group widely used drones bought over the counter when it was defending its so-called Caliphate in Syria and Iraq.   Some were used for spy missions while others were adapted to drop grenades and bombs.

Gun cops deployed at Gatwick are continuing to work with elite Army troops and MI5 spooks as they hunt the drones and last night said shooting them down was a “tactical option.”   The saboteur has been playing cat-and-mouse with cops after shutting down Britain’s second busiest airport by drones over the runway 50 times since Wednesday night.  Sharpshooters are today continuing to try to bring down the device – while MI5 spooks were called in to track down the suspect.   Experts say the skilled drone operator – feared to be a lone-wolf green protester – could be controlling the industrial scale craft from up to five miles away.  (Similar claims are in UK tabloids, The Sun and Daily Mail)

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FOUR-YEAR DROUGHT PLUNGES CENTRAL KAROO FARMERS INTO FINANCIAL DISTRESS

CAPE TOWN – Farmers in the central Karoo say they are in financial distress due to a four-year drought.  Farmer’s organisation, Agri Central Karoo, says it’s the worst and longest drought in living memory.   Producers have been unable to grow crops or feed for their livestock.   Agri Central Karoo manager Dêan Gous says the region has only been receiving light rain of two to three millimetres at a time.   He says downpours of at least 20 millimetres are needed.  Gous says farmers are forced to buy expensive feed, while many are being turned away by banks and the co-op.  “My main concern is the people’s cash flow.  We’re past the stage of banks helping us, so now people must dip into their investment money and pension funds.”  He welcomes the Western Cape government’s intervention and drought relief but warns that production cannot be sustained.  “This is not enough . . .  so the main thing is people are decreasing their numbers on the shelves.”  (https://ewn.co.za/2018/12/21/four-year-drought-plunges-central-karoo-farmers-into-financial-distress)

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30,000 JOBS LOST IN WESTERN CAPE AGRICULTURE SECTOR DUE TO DROUGHT — The Western Cape Economic Opportunities Department says the drought has had a massive impact on the agricultural sector

CAPE TOWN – The Western Cape Economic Opportunities Department says the drought has cost about 30,000 jobs in the agriculture sector.  That is 1.5% of all jobs in the Western Cape. Agri Central Karoo says the area is experiencing the worst and longest drought in living memory.  Farmers say they are finding it impossible to farm due to low rainfall. The Western Cape Economic Opportunities Department says the drought has had a massive impact on the agricultural sector. MEC Beverley Schäfer says it has a large impact on jobs and economic growth in the province:   “We’ve already seen a R5.9 billion drop in gross value add, which is about 25% of the value of agriculture production and a 20% decrease in production in general.”   Agri Central Karoo said on Thursday that due to the drought farmers are unable to grow crops or feed their flocks.   Agri Central Karoo manager Dêan Gous says more assistance is needed from the government. Schäfer says they are doing their best and adds that since November support to the farmers in the Central Karoo has increased.   Schäfer says the government is supporting 563 farmers and is spending R8.1 million per month.  (12/21)

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Russia’s Vladimir Putin warns about growing threat of nuclear war

If the US puts intermediate-range missiles in Europe, Russia will take countermeasures, Putin said at his end-of-year press conference.  He warned the “threshold” for the use of nuclear weapons was getting lower.

An attempt to lower the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons could potentially result in an all-out nuclear war, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned during his traditional end-of-year press conference on Thursday.  It is the first such event since the beginning of Putin’s new presidential term in May and the fourteenth for him in total.

“There is a tendency to lower the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons,” he said.  “In the West, there is this idea of using low-yield nuclear weapons.  The use of such weapons could lead to a global disaster,” the Russian leader stressed.

Putin pointed at the US intention to withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.   He said that if the US puts intermediate-range missiles in Europe, Russia will be forced to take countermeasures.

The Russian leader also warned against developing tactical nuclear warheads and conventional long-range ballistic missiles.   According to him, both are dangerous, because they increase the threat of an incidental nuclear war.

“We are currently observing the collapse of the international system for containing weapons,” he added.

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A global credit ‘heart attack’ is just months away

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

20 December 2018 — 11:36am                                                                   Surging borrowing costs for companies in the US and Europe threaten a recession within months and resemble events leading up to the global credit “heart attack” in August 2007.

Risk spreads on American high-yield debt have jumped since early October.   Credit experts say this is the delayed fallout from months of double-barrelled monetary tightening by the US Federal Reserve.

The US central bank is raising interest rates and at the same time shrinking its balance sheet by $US50 billion  a month, perhaps draining more liquidity from global financial markets than intended.

Simon Ward from Janus Henderson said his leading indicator for the health of US companies – the cash supply available to non-financial business (M1) – has turned starkly negative for the first time since the Lehman crisis.

This points to a sharp slowdown next year. “When this measure of cash contracts it means companies plan to cut back,” he said.

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The deal with the EU will turn us into captives                                 By Boris Johnson 19 Nov 2018 — 11:45 PM

Well, it seems my predictions of last week were, if anything, too optimistic.  If MPs vote for this deal, we are bowing our neck to the yoke.

We are preparing to take colonial rule by foreign powers and courts. We are handing over colossal sums of money for nothing.   We are giving up the hope of new free-trade deals. We are giving up the right to vary our laws.   We are betraying Leavers and Remainers alike: we are poised to abandon any UK influence in Brussels, and yet we are signally failing to take back control.

In fact, we are surrendering control to the EU – and this 585-page fig-leaf does nothing to cover the embarrassment of our total defeat.

Boris Johnson argues that the Brexit deal will turn Britons into captives.

In the protocol on Northern Ireland, there is a note almost of malice, as though the EU is punishing us by the surgical severing of part of the UK.   From one convoluted paragraph to the next, you can follow the plot to amputate Northern Ireland and keep it in the EU – run by the EU, but with no influence in Brussels except via Dublin.

Today, No 10 continues to brief that there can still be a future Canada-style free-trade deal and that one day we can still take back control of our laws and our tariffs. But from the Treasury you hear a very different message: that this is the end-state providing the blessed “certainty” that business has been craving.

They can’t both be right – so which is it?   Is the Government serious about staying in the customs union and single market, or is it serious about democracy, free trade and Brexit?   After two years of this tragedy, I think we all know the answer to that one.

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YELLOW VEST RIOTS SPREAD

  • Across Western Europe, ordinary citizens feel ignored and condescended to by their political, business, academic, and media elites.   Against the will of most of these citizens, their leaders are gradually surrendering their nations’ sovereignty to the EU.
  • Also against these citizens’ will, their nations have been flooded with Muslim immigrants who embody a major cultural challenge, have caused massive social unrest, and represent a devastating economic burden.
  • Although it is increasingly obvious that taxpayer-funded Islamization is leading Western Europe down the wrong path, the EU, which stands foursquare behind this disastrous development, refuses to reverse course.
  • Perhaps the question should not be why Western Europeans are rioting but why they did not start rioting a long time ago.

(By Bruce Bawer, Gatestone, 12/18)

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Australia recognises West Jerusalem as Israeli capital .    Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed that his government will recognise West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

BBC * 15 Dec 2018                                                                                              However, he said Australia’s embassy would not move from Tel Aviv, until a peace settlement was achieved.

He added Australia also recognised the aspirations of the Palestinians to a state with a capital in East Jerusalem.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the most contested issues between Israel and the Palestinians.

US President Donald Trump drew international criticism last year when he reversed decades of American foreign policy by recognising the ancient city as Israel’s capital.   The US embassy was relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May.

 

MAY SURVIVES NO CONFIDENCE VOTE

Bible prophecy shows that Europe and the Middle East are to be the main focus of end-time events.   Recent and future developments show continuing upheaval in both regions.

In a parliamentary system, there is provision for a vote of no confidence in the prime minister.   Mrs. Theresa May survived a vote this week.   200 MPs supported her, with 117 voting against.

The fact that she has survived to see Brexit through to completion, however, is not necessarily a good thing.   Mrs. May has been racking up the frequent flyer miles flying around to European capitals in pursuit of a “deal,” a deal that will keep the UK close to Europe after the people voted to leave it!

The Europeans have said that they will not offer anything better than the deal they offered a few weeks ago, a deal that will, effectively, make the United Kingdom a vassal state of the European Union.   Some deal!

Why is the British prime minister so intent on a “deal” that will enslave the country for decades to come?   Why can’t England walk away from the EU, which is what the voters voted for in the referendum of 2016?   Doesn’t anybody have any recollection of how the United Kingdom was a successful trading nation prior to the EU?   Clearly not – as they don’t think that Britain is up to it any more!

As the game picture at the top of this article shows, there is a great deal of negativity in the UK right now.   Positive voices are few and far between.   (The game resembles the London Underground map.)

The only hope left is if the country ends up with “no deal” on March 29th.   Then, she will be free to pursue other trade deals with nations around the globe.

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GERMANY MOVING IN A NEW DIRECTION

Britain isn’t the only country finding it hard to break away from a super-power.

Germany, too, is feeling “impotent rage at not being able to declare independence from America.”   These words are the opinion of Andreas Kluth, editor-in-chief of Handelsblatt Global.   His article on the subject appears in the Economist special edition, predicting trends for 2019.   The title of the article is “The epiphany of German weakness.”

“In 2019 Germany will face a crisis:  not an economic or political one, but an intellectual and psychological crisis that could be just as wrenching.   For the first time, the German public at large will fully absorb what Berlin elites have known for years:   Germany has no viable foreign or security policy to survive the passing of Pax Americana.”

Since World War II, Germany has submitted herself to the leadership of two other western powers.   First, the United States.   Through membership of NATO and other international institutions, Germany has played a vital but secondary role in international affairs.   Secondly, to France, through the European Union.

Mrs. Merkel is leaving office at a time when these two pillars are crumbling.   The United States, under Donald Trump, has “nullified every assumption that Germany … made since 1945.”   Germany, now under great pressure from the US to contribute more to western defense, can actually now break free from US dominance and go her own way.   But in which direction should she go?   Mrs. Merkel’s successor will have to pave a new path for the country.

At the same time as relations with Washington are changing, so are relations with neighboring France.   Mr. Macron, the French president, began his presidency 18 months ago with a bold new vision for Europe.   This vision is now in ruins as the people revolt against his leadership and the economy is seriously threatened by continued riots.   At the very least, Mr. Macron will have to focus his attention more on France itself; there will be little or no time for Europe.

This coincides with Brexit, which will see the United Kingdom leaving Europe.

So, out of the Big 3, only one is left able to lead the European project. And that country is Germany.

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US PULLING OUT OF MIDEAST?

A second article in The Economist’s “The World in 2019,” predicts “The end of American hegemony” in the Middle East.   This process began a few years ago.

“In 1972 Anwar Sadat expelled Soviet military advisers from Egypt, setting the state for decades of American dominance, and much violent disappointment, in the Middle East.   In 2013 President Barack Obama surrendered America’s hegemony when he refused to take military action against Syria’s use of poison gas, and later sought a nuclear accommodation with Iran.   Donald Trump, by contrast, has lobbed missiles at Syria and menaced Iran.   But as he swings between threatening to crush foes, and getting out entirely, the latter instinct will dominate.   Sometimes events, his advisers or domestic politics may compel him to take action.   But Mr. Trump will mostly prove even more detached than Mr. Obama.”   (Article by Anton LaGuardia, deputy foreign editor, The Economist.)

American detachment from the Middle East will likely result in continuing conflicts in Yemen, Libya, Syria; it could also mean no deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians; and we will likely see Iran strengthened both domestically and regionally, with Hezbollah posing a greater threat to Israel.

American detachment will also see Russia filling the gap, with European nations desperate to halt Russian encroachment into the area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANGLO MIGRATION

Friends of ours are leaving South Africa and moving to Australia.   They are not the first and certainly won’t be the last.

The “new” South Africa that came into being with the end of apartheid, just under 25 years ago, has become one of the most violent countries in the world.   The white farmers who live there, producing most of the region’s food, have been hit really hard by all the violence.   Hundreds have been murdered in the new South Africa.   Another friend’s grandson was murdered at 18 – for a cell phone!

Young families have to seek greater security for their children.   Australia is one of the best countries to go to, for now at least.

What’s been happening in South Africa and other countries before it, has been one of the minor news items in the world, a blip in the global disorder.   But facts are facts – as the British gave independence to their various colonies around the globe, so Brits who had settled there, contributing greatly to economic development, were forced to leave.   This was especially true in Africa.   This mass migration of people has been really bad for Africa and for Africans.   Their British “masters” have simply been replaced by Chinese bosses who often treat them with contempt.

South Africa’s white population was 20% of the population 25 years ago;  today, it’s down to 10%.

We may think that this migration is over, with South Africa being the last country to expel the whites.   It isn’t.   As South Africa’s majority black population took over the country, so, in the next few decades, new majorities in western nations will take over their new countries and push the original occupants out.

This is prophesied in Deuteronomy 28, the blessings and cursings chapter of the Bible.   The Israelites were told by God that if they obeyed Him, they would be greatly blessed; but, if they turned away from Him, they would suffer the negative consequences.   The modern Israelites are suffering these consequences now and will continue to do so, unless they repent and turn back to God.

16 “Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country.  17 “Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.  18 “Cursed shall be the [a]fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.  19 “Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.   (Deut. 28:16-19)

 “The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower.  44 He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail. ” (vs. 43-44)

The Anglo-Saxon-Celtic peoples are amongst the modern Israelites. At the end of World War II, a little over 70 years ago, they dominated the world.   The British Empire had emerged intact from the global conflict, which it had fought for six years; the United States had emerged from the war as a global superpower.   A constant theme of the last seven decades has seen these same Anglo-Saxon-Celtic peoples lose their power and prestige.     They will continue to do so.

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REVOLUTION IN THE AIR?

France has seen a great deal of violence the last three weekends and is expected to see more again this coming weekend.

The primary cause was increased fuel taxes to help cover an environmental project.   It was enough to trigger off the worst rioting in decades.

What the French elite, including President Macron, fail to understand is that ordinary people are suffering.  They are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet.  Higher fuel costs mean higher food costs as food has to be transported.

The rioting spread to neighboring Belgium and there is speculation there could be rioting elsewhere, including in neighboring Germany.   Once again, governments are out of touch with the reality of day to day living.

The following is a joke somebody sent me from Germany, a country not noted for its sense of humor:

“An African refugee is walking through the streets of Nuremberg – a well preserved medieval walled city. He fronts up to the first person he meets and says, “I would like to thank you for taking me in. For clothing me, feeding me, giving me healthcare and letting me stay.”

“But I’m not German, I’m Albanian,” the pedestrian responds.

The African walks on undeterred, and meets another pedestrian: “I would like to thank you for taking me in, clothing me, feeding me, giving me healthcare and letting me stay.”

“But I’m not German, I’m Turkish…”

The African tries once more, with a third pedestrian. “Thank you for taking me in, clothing me…”

“But I’m not German, I’m Arabic.”

“Then where are all the bloody Germans?” the African refugee asks.

The Arab looks at his watch, shrugs and says, “Probably at work.” (end of joke)

The cost of housing, clothing, feeding and educating all the refugees falls on the German tax-payer. It’s the same throughout the western world, in every single western nation.

Brexit started as a means to hit back against the system.   51.7% of the British people supported the “rebellion” against the ruling elite. Trump soon followed with victory in the US election.   The reality of what was behind Trump’s victory still has not been appreciated by the liberal intellectual community that has dominated the country for decades.   The reality is summed up in the title of a new book by Anthony Scaramucci:   “Trump – the Blue-Collar President,”   Trump was / is America’s revolution.   If his revolution fails, we should expect a worse one up ahead.

The same with Brexit.   If the British Establishment manages to thwart Brexit, as is certainly a possibility, the frustrations that ordinary people are experiencing could explode in something far worse.

Populist parties exist throughout the western democracies today – unless people see an improvement in their circumstances, we could see sweeping electoral changes ahead.   This could start in France.

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AN AGE OF ANGER

During a dinner in Washington, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde sent a warning to politicians whose decisions could create “an age of anger.”   She said:  “Imagine what the world might look like if we fail to build and adapt.   We could live in an age of anger.”

But this lesson is best learnt from Mr. Trump, the US President, who successfully harnessed the anger of America’s rustbelt communities to propel himself into the White House.  (BBC, 12/6)

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ARABS TIGHTEN BELTS

“A wave of economic austerity is squeezing the Arab world’s middle class, pushing a segment of society that is key to growth and stability into making painful cut-backs and fueling discontent.

“Egyptians say they are taking second jobs and dining out less often. Jordanians trying to make ends meet are pulling children from private schools.   In Tunisia, hundreds of thousands of civil servants staged a one-day strike last month to demand a pay increase.”  (“Arab Middle Class Tightens Belt,” Jared Malsin, WSJ, 12/6)

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IRAN AND ISRAEL PREPARING FOR WAR

Iranian leaders stepped up their war of words against Israel and the United States over the weekend while new information shows both the Israel Defense Forces and the Islamic Republic are actively preparing for a multi-front war in Israel.

The new war of words started when Iran’s so-called moderate president Hassan Rouhani told participants in an Islamic conference that Israel was a “cancerous tumor” and “a fake regime” founded by Western nations.

While calling upon the Islamic world to establish a “joint force” that could win the “battle against criminals,” Rouhani claimed Israel had killed and displaced the (non-existing) “historic nation of Palestine.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu responded to Rouhani’s belligerent rhetoric by warning Iran that Israel knows how to defend itself against the “murderous Iranian regime.”   (“Iran and Israel preparing for multi-front war,”  (Yochanan Visser,  Israel Today, 11/28)

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BREXIT — THE WORST DEAL IN HISTORY

This Brexit “deal” is anything but good for the nation.

This “deal” will cost the British taxpayer £60 billion; require that the British still comply with EU rules without having any say in what those will be, and worst of all, it permits the British to leave the EU only if the EU agrees.   It commits the British effectively to subjugation by the EU in perpetuity, with no recourse should the British change their mind. It is a prison.   It is also the first step of the EU toward its dream of global governance: unaccountable, untransparent, unelected by the public, and with no way out.

There is still a way out of this mess; an easy alternative.   The solution is No Deal.   Without any further action, the UK’s membership of the EU will lapse on March 29, 2019, and unless that majority can unite around a viable alternative, we will leave.   Even better, according to a House of Lords report, there would be no legal obligation for the UK to make any payment as part of a financial settlement.   (David Brown, Gatestone, 12/4)

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ANGELA MERKEL STEPS DOWN

Friday Angela Merkel, German Chancellor since 2005, stepped down as Chairman of her political party, the Christian Democratic Union.   She will remain Chancellor for the time being, but relinquishing her chairman role will likely result in change at the chancellery in the not too distant future.

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PROFOUND COMMENTS

Europe today is not afraid of Vladimir Putin reaching the Rhine. Europe is afraid of Africa and the Middle East reaching the Danube.  (“The Never-Trumpers are never coming back,” PB, 7/6)

A “sense of guilt” for colonialism is debasing the West from within, according to Professor Bruce Gilley, and authoritarian regimes such as Iran, Russia, China and Turkey are profiting from this weakness.

The Romans called it damnatio memoriae:   the damnation of memory that resulted in destroying the portraits and even the names of the fallen emperors.   The same process is now underway in the West about its colonial past.   The cultural elite in the West now seem so haunted by feelings of imperialist guilt that they are no longer confident that our civilization is something to be proud of.  (“Is guilt killing the West from within?”  Giulio MeottiGatestone, 7/6)

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ITALY CLOSES DOOR TO MIGRANTS

In Italy, rising popular sentiment against immigration has found a forceful spokesman and leader in Deputy PM Matteo Salvini, who has refused entry to Italian ports to migrant rescue ships, saying “NGO rescue ships will only see Italy on postcards.” 

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ANN COULTER PREDICTS END OF REPUBLICAN PARTY

“New York Times best-selling author and populist conservative columnist Ann Coulter says the Republican Party is “just at the point of extinction without a shot” due to mass illegal and legal immigration to the country that continues importing more than 1.5 million immigrants a year.

In an interview with SiriusXM Patriot’s Breitbart News Daily, Coulter told Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow that the United States — due to mass immigration and rapid demographic shifts — will be electorally dominated by Democrats indefinitely in “about five more years,” calling Trump “the last Republican president.” (Breitbart 11/28)

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MILITARY SPENDING

According to SIPRI’s 2016 data:

  • Only 4 out of 28 NATO countries — the United States, France, Greece and Estonia — pay above the 2 percent GDP
  • If under-paying countries began reaching the 2 percent threshold, total European nato-military spending would rise from $254 billion to $328 billion.
  • In comparison, U.S. military spending was $611 billion, China’s $215 billion, and Russia’s $69 billion.
  • If Germany spent 2 percent of its GDP on defense, its military spending would parallel Russia’s — $69 billion!

SIPRI stands for Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

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CHANGING RELATIONSHIPS

The US Congress is about to come out with a statement stating that the Saudi Arabian Crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered the death of the Washington Post correspondent, Jamal Khashoggi. Mr. Khashoggi was assassinated in the Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey on October 2nd.

Additionally, the US has requested the extradition of the top executive of the major Chinese company, Huawei.

“New York (CNN Business) — The arrest of a top Huawei executive has sent stock markets plunging around the world and threatens to derail the tenuous trade truce between the United States and China.

“Meng Wanzhou, the Chinese tech company’s chief financial officer, was detained in Vancouver on Saturday at the request of US authorities.” (12/6)

Thirdly, Mr. Trump ignored President Putin of Russia at the G20 summit last weekend.

Three major relationships, with Saudi Arabia, China and Russia are seriously threatened by these actions.

Interestingly, these three countries are the top oil producing countries in the world, after the United States.   Saudi Arabia and Russia are already co-operating on oil production, which will affect the global price.

It should also be noted that all three are murderous regimes.   The Saudi and Russian governments think nothing of murdering opponents in other parts of the world; while the Chinese have their gulags (sorry, re-education camps).

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OF INTEREST

Donald and Melania Trump did not recite The Apostles’ Creed nor did they sing the hymns during George H.W. Bush’s funeral Wednesday, sparking criticism of the president who claims to be Presbyterian and is portrayed as an evangelical Christian by many conservatives.   Video shows the first couple standing in silence alongside three former presidents and first ladies who all recited the creed.

Ivanka Trump also participated, despite having converted to Judaism.   The Apostles’ Creed is considered Christianity’s core prayer, at the heart of the Christian doctrine.   The version of the creed at the service was that of the Episcopal Church, to which the Bush family belongs.   The Apostles’ Creed is Trinitarian in structure with sections affirming belief in God the Father, Jesus Christ His Son and the Holy Spirit.   The Apostles’ Creed was based on Christian theological understanding of the Canonical gospels, the letters of the New Testament and to a lesser extent the Old Testament.   Its basis appears to be the old Roman Creed known also as the Old Roman Symbol.   (mailonline 12/6)

 

 

 

 

 

SUICIDES UP IN US, DOWN GLOBALLY

“The suicide rate in America is up by 18% since 2000.  This is not merely a tragedy; it matters politically, too.   The rise is largely among white, middle-aged, poorly educated men in areas that were left behind by booms and crushed by busts.   Their deaths are a symptom of troubles to which some see President Trump as the answer. Those troubles should not be ignored.”   (“Staying alive,” The Economist,11/24)

Suicide is declining pretty much all over the world, thanks to greater freedom and some helpful policies.” (“Defeating despair,” The Economist, 11/24).

“Globally, the rate has fallen by 38% from its peak in 1994.”

LIFE EXPECTANCY DOWN IN US

“Suicide and drug overdose rates continued to rise in 2017, helping drive the number of U.S. deaths to the highest level in more than 100 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a series of reports on mortality released Thursday.

“Tragically, this troubling trend is largely driven by deaths from drug overdose and suicide,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a statement.  “These sobering statistics are a wake-up call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable.”

“Life expectancy in 2017 fell to an average of 78.6 years for the total population, down from 78.7 years in 2016.

“Overall, more than 2.8 million Americans died in 2017, about 70,000 more than in 2016.”

(“Suicides, overdoses rise in US,” John Bacon, USA Today, 11/30)

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CONTINUING BREXIT CRISIS

“The only rule of British politics for the coming weeks is that nobody knows anything.   The prime minister doesn’t know who will resign next.   The factions don’t know their relative strengths.   Nobody knows what is bluff and what is in deadly earnest.

“But one thing that is increasingly clear in the fog of Brexit is that this is the most serious domestic crisis Britain has faced in the modern democratic era.   In the statement that accompanied his resignation as transport minister earlier this month, Jo Johnson accused his own government of “a failure of British statecraft on a scale unseen since the Suez crisis.”   Others have compared the current debacle to the IMF’s bail-out of Britain in 1976 or the gold-standard crisis of 1931.   In fact it is worse than anything else Britain has endured in peacetime. The political system is all but paralysed, the country is divided into warring ideological tribes, the civil service in overwhelmed and, in the event of no deal, Britain would be staring into the abyss.” (“Crisis? What crisis?”  Bagehot, The Economist, 11/24).

The Economist has a new layout, that prompted an anti-Brexit  reader to suggest they move the British news section to the end of the magazine, after the Obituary column!   

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IS THE GLOBAL ECONOMY TAKING A DOWNTURN?

The stock market has been rather jumpy lately.   At the same time, gas has been going down (except in France, where an increase in fuel taxes has resulted in three consecutive weekends of riots); of course, a fall in gas prices may not be such a good thing, as it’s often the harbinger of a slowing economy.

Here’s some other indicators the economy may be headed south:

  • The Federal Reserve has been ratcheting up interest rates.
  • Corporations have loaded up on debt.
  • Unemployment is so low that employers are finally raising wages.
  • The housing market shows signs of softening.

. . . But there are plenty of upbeat signs today, too.

Auto sales are still running strong, if not quite at the peak levels of a couple of years ago.   Then, too, the labor markets still have some slack . . .”    (“Warning signs of recession abound,” John Gallagher, Lansing State Journal, 11/26).

“NEW YORK 30% OFF”

“Some homeowners are selling at bargain-basement prices from what they paid, as the city faces an end to a decade-long boom. Oversupply, rising interest rates and tax-code changes are only partly to blame.” (WSJ, Mansion, 11/30).

“Real estate, oil and employment figures are sending similar messages, and that is that economic activity is starting to slow significantly, just like in 2007 before the Great Recession wiped out trillions of dollars from the markets.

And, according to a blog on The Economic Collapse, those in charge don’t want to admit the reality of what is happening, just like in 2008.” (“Money and markets,” JT Crowe, 11/30)

GM ANNOUNCES 15,000 JOB CUTS   (Monday)

‘In the wake of massive layoffs announced by U.S. carmaker General Motors, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lashed out at President Donald Trump’s recent steel and aluminum tariffs.

At Friday’s ceremony to sign a new version of NAFTA, the free trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico, Trudeau urged Trump to reassess levies imposed on Canadian imports in June.

“Donald, it’s all the more reason why we need to keep working to remove the tariffs on steel and aluminum between our countries,” Trudeau said Friday, The Hill reported.   According to a tweet from Toronto Star journalist Daniel Dale, the prime minister was referring to the GM cuts, which Trudeau called a “heavy blow.”

(Justin Trudeau blasts Donald Trump’s trade tariffs to his face after General Motors announced huge lay-offs,” Katherine Hignett, Newsweek, 11/30)

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AN ARMY OF THE EUROPEANS

Military Union in the Making

“At this year’s Berlin Security Conference, which ended yesterday, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen promoted new steps toward creating an “army of the Europeans.”  According to von der Leyen, “the question is no longer if, but how to reach strategic autonomy” of the EU with its own armed forces. “The European defense union is in the making. “[1] Delicate questions will be raised in the near future, such as that of establishing “independent command capabilities,” alongside those of NATO, for future EU missions and streamlining decision-making structures. German parliamentary reservations should not be abolished, but rather reframed.   Brussels could establish a “committee of legislators from national parliaments specializing in defense,” which could rapidly prepare decisions – in questions of war and peace.   In addition, compulsory EU consensus in foreign policy should be abandoned. “European foreign policy decisions on the basis of large majority support must be made possible.”   This would mean that individual member countries could be compelled to support a foreign policy against  their interests.

Strategic Autonomy

The German foreign policy establishment is already discussing the outline for the further development of the “army of the Europeans.” To actually achieve “strategic autonomy, Europe, more than ever must provide for its own security – perhaps even completely,” according to Jan Techau, Director of the European Program of the German Marshall Fund of the United States  .[2] This would mean that, not only conventional, but “nuclear deterrence,” as well, must be “independently organized in Europe.”   [3] This, in turn, must be accompanied “by a significantly enhanced independent intelligence competence and activity.”   Furthermore, with the “shift of acts of aggression to the sector of information technology (IT), and the hybrid warfare in the sectors of media and public opinion influence,” the guarantee of European security will be extended to fields, where Europe … is not among the world leaders,” concluded Techau.   In the future, “the Europeans, and above all, Germany, must accomplish in these fields things that, by far, surpass what the United States has been able to achieve until now.”   The “scope of the task” also demands that in the future “strategy be taught at German universities . . . and strategic education be required as a career-obligation for all civil servants from the B-6 salary level upwards.” And ultimately, “a federal security council” should “be the hub connecting the various strands of ministerial activities on all central questions” so that “the chancellor may have access to thorough strategic advice.” “German foreign policy, 11/29

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‘THE DAY OF THE DICTATOR IS OVER!”

Those were the words of President George H.W. Bush, who has now died, aged 94.   They were spoken at a time of great optimism, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the US intervention against President Noriega of Panama.   Almost thirty years later, democracy isn’t doing so good.  A report last week showed that, in Africa, nations are becoming more dictatorial as leaders refuse to hold elections, amending their constitutions to enable them to stay in power indefinitely.

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TWO CHUMMY MURDERERS

Without any sense of shame or embarrassment, President Vladimir Putin and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, greeted each other warmly at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.   Both men think nothing of ordering the murders of people who disagree with them.   Unfortunately, western nations still have to do business with them!

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HERALDING THE SOCIALIST PARADISE

“Senator Bernie Sanders knows what he wants.  In a Washington Post op-ed last week, the democratic socialist from Vermont laid out a legislative agenda for the 116th Congress’s first 100 days.  Among the dizzying array of proposals Mr. Sanders pushed were his “Medicare for All” bill, tuition-free college, student-debt relief, tax increases requiring “wealthy people and large corporations to begin paying their fair share” and a $15 minimum wage indexed to “median wage growth,” not inflation.

“Others in the Democratic Party’s increasingly influential democratic-socialist wing are pressing for their own major legislation to pass the House, even if it will get nowhere in the Republican Senate.   Rep.-elect Alexandria Occasion-Cortez, for example, wants a “Green New Deal.”   Sounding too much like a Maoist functionary, she describes it as a “national, industrial, economic mobilization plan” to make America carbon neutral.”   (“Stopping the Socialist Resurgence,” Karl Rove, WSJ, November 29th)

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“Then Moses went up into the mountain and a cloud covered
 the mountain. — and the cloud covered it six days.
And on the seventh day He (the LORD) called to Moses out of
the midst of the cloud.”  (Ex 24: 15-16)

"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