BACKGROUND TO THE ZIMBABWE COUP

Forty years ago, my wife and I lived in what was then Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.

Rhodesia (Southern Rhodesia, to be exact) had been a model colony.   It never asked London for help; it always had sound finances; it was stable and prosperous.    It was often called the Breadbasket of Africa.   During World War II, Winston Churchill had labeled the country “the most loyal colony,” as it had contributed proportionately more to the allied cause than any other.

But, twenty years after the war, the same Rhodesians who had fought for the Empire and helped Britain win the war against Hitler, were being called “fascists,” for the simple reason that they wanted to preserve their way of life, which included a qualified franchise, to ensure responsible government.   This meant that most native Africans did not have the vote.   Britain, the US and the nations of Africa were hostile to this and insisted on NIBMAR (No Independence Before Majority Rule).   In order not to have majority rule forced on them, the white Rhodesian government declared itself independent of London on 11th November, 1965.

The “rebellion” led to a civil war, which lasted seven years.   It wasn’t a simple black and white struggle.   82% of the Rhodesian army was made up of black African soldiers.   Many saw what had happened to nations north of them, where independence led to corruption, nepotism, financial collapse, political uncertainty and eventually military coups – they didn’t want that and fought to save Rhodesia.

But the whole world was against Rhodesia.   Even its southern neighbor, South Africa under apartheid, did not like the country and was ready to throw it to the wolves.  This they did, with the US and the UK, forcing the country to hand over to a “majority government.” to introduce “one man, one vote.”

The last white Prime Minister, Ian Smith, remarked that “one man, one vote” would mean exactly that, that the first African leader would be the one man with the one vote.

Black African friends of ours said Zimbabwe, the new name for the new country, would be different.   It would not go the same way as the rest of Africa.

But it has.

It’s been over 37 years since Robert Mugabe became the country’s leader.   As Ian Smith predicted, he became the “one man” with the “one vote” – nobody else’s opinion mattered.   And, as has happened so many times in Africa, the only way to remove a civilian president who won’t allow anybody else to come to power, is for the army to overthrow him.   The army goes on to make things worse, with even more corruption and general incompetence all round;  eventually the army allows another election, bringing another civilian government to power, which is also corrupt and so it goes on and on in a vicious cycle.

Zimbabweans woke up Wednesday morning to find the army has taken over.   Right now, it’s unclear what has happened to 93-year-old Robert Mugabe.   It seems as if the army is saying that they only want to remove the criminals around the president, not the president himself.   They certainly want to remove the wife of the president, who has lived a lavish lifestyle at the expense of the poor. But Mr. Mugabe has become one of the richest men on earth during his time in office.   They may turn against him yet.   Right now, he is said to be under “house arrest”, while his wife, Grace Mugabe (“Gucci Grace”), has fled to Namibia.

What may help Mr. Mugabe is that he is highly respected across the continent.

Ask a taxi driver in any African country who is the best African leader and they will all say Robert Mugabe.   Why?   “Because he got rid of the whites!”   Point out that the country collapsed economically after the expulsion of the white farmers and they will say, “it doesn’t matter!”

Less than a week before the coup, the capital’s airport was renamed “Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.”

The “coup” seems more of a final act in a dynastic power struggle. The president was grooming his wife as his successor; this was intolerable for those who have been close to him for decades.  She was booed early last week at a rally.   The Vice-President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, fled to South Africa a week ago, increasing fears that Mrs. Mugabe may succeed her husband.   It’s even possible Mr. Mnangagwa may have solicited support from South Africa to effect the coup.

It all brings to mind the words of Jesus Christ in the Book of Matthew, where He warned His disciples not to be like the gentile leaders who ruled over them, with their never ending power struggles and abuses of authority.

But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.  Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.   And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”  (Matthew 20:25-28).

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SSM, COA, SSA AND CCC

For those who are not familiar with the abbreviations above, let me explain.

SSM = Same Sex Marriage.

COA = Commonwealth of Australia, the latest country to approve this historic change.

SSA = Same Sex Attraction, a term that is often used to describe people who are attracted to the same sex.    Many of these people do not want to be gay, which denotes promiscuity and a particular lifestyle.

CCC = Conservative Christian Churches, who are ill-equipped to handle the cultural tsumani that is heading their way.

Australia is the latest country to embrace same-sex marriage, approved by the people in a plebiscite.   Parliament in Canberra is set to approve the change before the end of the year.

There were celebrations across Australia today.   One banner was particularly disturbing:  “Burn Churches, not Queers.”   The attitude behind this banner is not limited to Australia.   The issue of same-sex marriage has pitted conservative churches against the gay movement.   While liberal churches have embraced gays, Biblically based churches cannot.

But this does not mean that biblically based churches have got it right, either.

Recent research showed that 12% of 18 year olds in the United States have a sexual identity issue.   Either they are attracted to the same sex or they feel they are in the wrong body and want to change sex.   None of this is of their own choosing.   They are like people struggling with eating disorders.   A 75-pound woman will look in the mirror and see herself as fat, when everybody who knows her sees clearly that she is anorexic.

In the same way, someone can look in the mirror and feel they are in the wrong body.   They want to change sex.   Or they feel strong attraction to a member of the same sex.

Whatever the problem, these people have to make a choice: either go into the gay lifestyle, or try to obey God.   It’s the same choice everybody makes one way or the other, whether or not to commit to a godly lifestyle.   Those who choose to commit to God take the more difficult road and need help from other Christians.

Those struggling with these issues need compassion and love.   They need Jesus Christ more than the average person.   “When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”   On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.   But go and learn what this means:   ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’   For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”… (Matthew 9:11-13).   This is what is lacking amongst conservative Christians and too many churches.

It’s been known for over a century that people do not choose their sexual orientation.   Recognizing this might have avoided the polarization that has taken place.

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ACCUSATIONS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT

It seems that, in today’s English speaking world, you are guilty until proven innocent.   This is a significant reversal of a practice that goes back 800 years to the Magna Carta.   It separated England, and later the English speaking countries, from the European legal system, which denied people justice until they were tried before a 12-man jury of their peers.

Perhaps all the accusations are true and that all of those accused are guilty, but they are still entitled to a fair trial.

The Bible says:   “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”  ( II Corinthians 13:1 KJV)

What is clear with all the accusations, whether against politicians or actors, is that there were no witnesses.   What are parents doing allowing their teenagers to spend time alone with people they don’t know?

Maybe we should bring back chaperones!   That would put an end to all of this.

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A CALL FROM SINGAPORE

Nestled in the heart of Southeast Asia and just at the tip of the Malaysian peninsula, the island country of Singapore is a melting pot of Chinese, Malay, Indian and Western cultures. The Lion City is one of the world’s most dynamic, vibrant and prosperous nations.

A friend from Singapore called me at the weekend.   Amongst other things we discussed President Trump’s visit to the region, which is now taking place.   He told me that Singaporeans (mostly ethnic Chinese) believe that America is on the way down and China is on the way up.   In other words, the most powerful nation in Asia and the Pacific is now NOT the US, but China.   Every nation in the region is having to come to terms with Chinese domination.

My friend, who is over 80, remembered the events of 1942 that led Singaporeans to realize the British Empire was on its way down.   One of the greatest military defeats in British history was the fall of Singapore on the 15th of February in 1942.   The story is told of Lee Kwan Yew, the first prime minister of Singapore.   While he was a student, the British blew up the causeway that linked the city to the mainland, to delay Japanese forces.   The sound of the explosion could be heard across the island.   When Mr. Lee’s British headmaster came out of the school building and asked him what the noise was, Mr. Lee responded: “It is the sound of the British Empire falling.”

Effectively, it was.   The fall of the British built and developed city started a series of events that led to American domination of Asia and the Pacific.   Now, China’s economic success means Beijing has greater clout in the area than Washington — many nations are looking to Beijing rather than Washington, to secure their future.

I posted an article to my blog in February to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the first time anybody realized that the US had overtaken the United Kingdom as the world’s pre-eminent nation.   It’s all recounted in the book “Picking up the Reins,” by Norman Moss.   It wasn’t until the following year that the term “Leader of the Free World” was applied to the US.   Seventy years later, we find people openly talking about China overtaking the United States. Chinese resentment at US domination is illustrated by an item on today’s BBC World News website.   Apparently, the Chinese use the term “Boss of the World” to describe America.

China isn’t the only power center trying to take over from America. The European Union is also determined to provide an alternative to American hegemony, with Germany’s Angela Merkel now often labeled “the Leader of the Free World.”   Bible students will not be surprised at these developments.

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IRAN – SAUDI STRUGGLE

Keep an eye on the growing Sunni-Shia struggle in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia leads the former and Iran the latter.   The two countries are fighting a proxy war in Yemen.   The latest development was a missile attack on the Saudi capital, fired by Houthi rebels, who are backed by Iran.

Iran also supports Hizbollah in Lebanon, whose prime minister resigned on Friday out of fear that he, like his father, will be assassinated.

From Monday’s Jerusalem Post:  “Saudi Arabia said on Monday that Lebanon had declared war against it because of attacks against the Kingdom by the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah.”

Syria is also caught up in the Sunni-Shia conflict.   Iran supports the Syrian president, Bashir Assad.

The West is solely focused on ISIS, a Sunni Islam group which is fighting Iranian backed forces in Iraq and Syria.   ISIS is re-grouping in a number of countries, claiming to represent and defend Sunnis from the Shi’ite heretics.

It’s all very complicated.   Not at all as simple as TV news depicts.

A new area of conflict is in the Sahara, where the US lost four military personnel last month.   Most attention was focused on President Trump’s call to the young wife of one of the men who died. Little attention has been given to the wider problem of a growing conflict right across the Sahel.

The West seems to think ISIS has been defeated; the reality is that the organization has dispersed and formed new radical terrorist groups in a number of different countries.  ISIS fighters have also been returning home to western nations – we should expect more terrorist attacks following the “defeat” of ISIS.

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WALL STREET’S BREXIT WARNING

Big banks are worried about Brexit.   A group of large financial institutions with big London operations, including JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and HSBC, has told US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross that Britain’s unstable government and slow progress in Brexit planning may force them to start moving thousands of jobs out of  the City in the near future.   The lack of clarity over a transition deal is making them nervous.

Their concerns are unlikely to be assuaged by the latest chaos in Theresa May’s cabinet.   Mrs. May is under pressure to strip two more cabinet ministers of their jobs following separate fiascos involving Priti Patel and Boris Johnson.   And the EU has warned that the UK has less than a month to make concessions on a divorce settlement.   The FT’s editorial outlines how the British government’s flailing at home is translating into weakness abroad: “Allies are increasingly wondering whether Mrs. May’s government has the focus or ability to play Britain’s traditional global position — let alone the enhanced role pledged by Brexit.”   (Financial Times, 11/8)

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TEXAS CHURCH ATTACK

26 people were shot dead in church Sunday, following a man’s argument with his mother-in-law.   Twenty others were injured, some very seriously.

This was the 307th incident of mass murder in the US this year. Today is the 310th days of the year, so, in effect, the US is experiencing an average of one mass attack per day.   A mass murder incident is defined as the murder of four or more people.

No other nation in the world sees so much violence.   Yemen, in a civil war between Shia and Sunni Muslims (see segment above), has the second highest incident rate.   Statistically, you would be safer living in Yemen, than in the United States.

I’ve always believed that people have a right to defend themselves, a right that goes back at least to the time of Henry II in the 12th century and perhaps goes back to the ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom prior to the Norman ascendancy.  The second amendment of the US constitution guarantees that right.   After an attack in London a few weeks ago, I pointed out that if one member of the public, just one, had been carrying a weapon, the terror attack might have been thwarted.

President Trump raised the issue of mental health in the context of mass shootings at a press conference in Tokyo.   Mental health is certainly a major issue.   But easy access to guns, especially by the mentally ill, is also a factor and needs to be addressed.   It’s time for that presidential commission of inquiry into mass gun violence.   Let the public have their say.   They are the ones that are dying, even in church.

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100-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF RUSSIAN REVOLUTION

November 7th is the anniversary of the Russian Revolution that brought the communists to power.   Not surprisingly, Russians are not enthused about the anniversary.   They rejected communism over 25 years ago.

There is still talk of a restoration of the monarchy, though most people do not seem to be in favor and do not expect it to happen.

There are lessons here from both France and Spain, two countries that were once dominated by their respective leaders, Charles de Gaulle and General Franco.   Both were strong men, who were vain enough to think that nobody could possibly replace them after their deaths.   Both men thought that the best way to preserve their nations in the future was through the restoration of their national monarchies.

De Gaulle was a close friend of the Comte de Paris, the descendant of the Orleanist monarch, Louis Phillipe, who ruled France from 1830-1848.   The Comte was aware of de Gaulle’s desire to restore the monarchy.

In 1968, France was rocked by student riots and violence across the country.   DeGaulle presented constitutional reforms (not including a restoration) that were rejected, leading to his resignation as President of France in April, 1969.   He died one year later.   De Gaulle, the inspiration behind the Fifth Republic in 1958, need not have worried  — the Fifth Republic remains to this day.

General Franco of Spain, a fascist dictator, had more time to think about the Spanish succession, proclaiming that his heir and successor was to be Juan Carlos, of the Bourbon line of monarchs. As soon as Franco died in 1975, Juan Carlos was proclaimed king.   Rather than continuing Franco’s conservative ideology, the new King dedicated himself to protecting Spanish democracy, thereby at the same time preserving the monarchy.   He even had the respect and support of Spanish communists.

Vladimir Putin may be thinking along the same lines.   He’s been a very strong leader, with a 90% approval rating at times.   He must be fearful of Russia’s future after he leaves the scene.

The restoration of the Romanov dynasty along Spanish lines, may be just what he’s thinking.   He’s already reviving Russian culture, and has helped the church take center stage.

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SYRIA SIGNS UP TO PARIS ACCORD

The US is now the only country in the world that has not signed up to the Paris climate treaty.   Syria was the only other holdout, but has now signed.

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PARADISE PAPERS SCANDAL

The Anglo-Saxon world loves its scandals, especially when its leaders are exposed.   In this regard, the Paradise Papers did not disappoint.

While TV audiences are focused on who has what and why, it should be emphasized that absolutely no one “exposed” broke the law.  They simply took advantage of legal tax loopholes, just as most people do, only theirs is on a much bigger scale than the average citizen.

The only law-breaking going on here was by the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, which somehow gained access to private financial information.   The paper’s partners in this enterprise included the British Guardian newspaper and the New York Times.  No surprises there.

Another concern is this:   the revelations are the latest “scandal” to undermine our institutions.   As if the Harvey Weinstein and other sexual revelations are not enough, we now have nightly reports that Queen Elizabeth II (and others) have been protecting their assets by moving them beyond the control of national governments.

Times have certainly changed.   Fifty years ago, royal tour-guides would proudly announce that the British monarch was the richest woman in the world.   Now, she’s not even in the top 500 wealthiest people in Britain (J.K. Rowling heads the female list), and people are getting riled about it.

The amount involved was only 10 million pounds ($13 million).

Exactly 100 years after the class warfare of the Russian Revolution, people have learned nothing.   All socialism brought was “equal shares of misery for all” (Margaret Thatcher’s definition).   Do we really want to embrace it again, naively thinking it will improve all our lives?

BACK TO REALITY

The November 2, 1917 declaration by then British foreign minister Arthur Balfour said his government viewed “with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”. Photograph: (AFP)

We’re back from Indianapolis after delivering one of our cats to our daughter and family.   We stayed three nights, to see the family and for the cat to get adjusted to her new situation.

I offered to go get some cat food, but our daughter and granddaughters would not allow me near the pet food aisle after my last blog!

I don’t know what it is but whenever I visit them I go into “vacation mode” – I don’t feel like doing anything. I just want to relax.  This is not fair to them.   We help take care of three (sometimes, five) grandchildren in Lansing; then have four when we visit Indy.

Our family Sunday ended up being a day in front of the television with our granddaughters who introduced us to the British series “Father Brown,” available on Netflix. It was actually quite good, though some things did irritate me.   For example, whenever the priest prayed in Latin, the closed-caption subtitles simply said: “Prays in a foreign language.”   Don’t most people know that Latin has been the lingua franca of the Catholic church for almost 2,000 years?

Family members are all trying to be healthier, which meant no junk in the house.   If I had remembered that, I would have taken some goodies to nibble between meals.  I was so hungry, at one point I called our daughter in Lansing and said:   “Can you come down immediately and bring some food?” I was just being humorous – it’s a 4+ hour drive; and I could have gone to a local grocery store if I thought I might expire.

Mike, our son-in-law, is a very good cook and the food was excellent.   I decided to join the healthy eating and then continue it at home, which is what I’m now doing.   I feel better already.   I’ve had no indigestion for a week and feel more energetic.  The dog food last week probably helped.

It was really nice to have a break from everything, including world news.

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BACK TO MORE REALITY

The terror attack in New York on Tuesday is a reminder of the constant threat to our lives that emanates from radical Islam.   It’s also a constant reminder of how hopeless our governments are – they keep letting in Muslims en masse, trying to claim that “Islam is a peaceful religion that has been hijacked by extremists.”

Trump called immediately for Congress to abolish the Diversity Visa Waiver program.  This is a lottery that enables 50,000 people a year from usually poor and backward countries to enter the United States.  They may then sponsor their relatives and friends to enter the US.   Tuesday’s murderer brought in 23 over 15 years.   Most of these people go straight to the bottom of our economic ladder, competing for jobs with low income Americans.

(Do the math. If one man brought in 23, multiply 50,000 x 23 = 1, 150,000 people per year.   That’s in addition to the one million plus who get a visa the normal way.)

President Trump immediately called on Congress to change the law.   That’s commendable.   The law needs to be changed.   But, then, why didn’t he react the same after the Las Vegas mass shooting?   Changes to the law are desperately needed.

It’s been over twenty years since the Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania, Australia.   35 people were killed in a little over half an hour.   The conservative prime minister, John Howard, immediately called on parliament to pass tough controls on assault weapons.

“Twelve days after the Port Arthur massacre, the Australian prime minister, John Howard, announced a sweeping package of gun reforms in a country where firearms had long been considered an essential prop in the national mythology of life in the bush.

“At that stage the gun lobby was the ruling lobby in Australia,” says Philip Alpers, associate professor at the University of Sydney.  “What happened at Port Arthur is that they were outpaced, outflanked and outwitted by a man who had the power to move in 12 remarkable days.”

“Tim Fischer was leader of the National party and Howard’s deputy prime minister in the Coalition government, charged with persuading skeptical country voters to support, or at least accept, reforms.  “Port Arthur was our Sandy Hook,” he says.   “Port Arthur we acted on.  The USA is not prepared to act on their tragedies.”   (The Guardian 14th March 2016).

The Sandy Hook massacre of kindergarten children took place on December 14th, 2012.   Congress did not pass any laws following the deaths of 26 people, including 19 children.   If the country could not make any changes after the deaths of so many young children, it’s doubtful they will ever come.

President Trump and others reacted to the Las Vegas shootings by saying, “Now is not the time to discuss gun control.”

Then, when will it be the time?   Immigration policies make the situation worse – the killer at Virginia Tech ten years ago was from South Korea.   The Boston Marathon killings were also the work of new arrivals.

Changes can be made without encroaching on the Second Amendment, which says:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Today, the US definitely has a “well regulated militia,” so America’s needs have changed.   At the same time, people do have a right to defend themselves.   There’s a balance. It’s time for a national debate.

On the highly successful Australian TV show, “Janet King,” Janet, a senior employee of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS; sometimes referred to as “Crownies”), is appointed by the country’s Governor-General to head a royal commission into gun violence.   It’s time the United States had a presidential commission to look into mass casualty gun violence, with the remit that it report back to the president and the public within twelve months, making recommendations to effectively reduce gun violence.

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NEW ZEALAND MAKES THE NEWS

Before we leave the Antipodes, New Zealand has a new, radical prime minister.

Jacinda Ardern is only 37 and the third female leader of the country. She wants to restrict immigration into New Zealand – one of her first acts was to ban the sale of homes to people living outside of the country.   She is a left-wing republican, meaning she would like to end NZ’s relationship with the Crown thereby giving greater power to the politicians, of which she is the chief!   Interestingly, she is also a former Mormon who has strong views on churches that encourage families to shun former believers like herself; she left the church over its anti-homosexual stance.

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QUOTE: “President Xi (of China) believes that America is in steep decline and China rising in a power game that will define our century” (Carrie Gracie, China Editor, BBC News, 11/2).   President Trump is about to visit China.

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CENTENARIES

Today, November 2nd, is the centenary of the Balfour Declaration.   Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in London to commemorate the celebration, boycotted by the anti-semitic socialist Labour Party of Jeremy Corbyn.

The famous Balfour Declaration was announced in the middle of World War I by British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, at a time when Great Britain was the dominant power in the world. It committed His Majesty’s Government to establish in Palestine a home for the Jewish people.   It was one of the most important documents of the twentieth century and a major fulfillment of Bible prophecy. It led directly to the establishment of a Jewish nation in the Middle East, the country now called Israel.

An independent Jewish nation had not been in existence since Roman times.   The Roman Jewish province of Judea rebelled against Rome in 66 AD. The Romans crushed the Jewish Revolt in 70 AD, destroying much of Jerusalem in the process.   The Jews rebelled again from 132 AD-135 AD.   Once again, the Romans crushed the revolt.   This time, the Jews dispersed to other parts of the Roman Empire and beyond.   For almost two millennia, they did not have their own country.   But scriptures made it clear that the Jews would be back in their homeland, called Judah in the Bible (the Jews were only one of the twelve tribes of Israel).

Zechariah was a prophet 2,500 years ago.   His Old Testament book is a Millennial prophecy about the Second Coming of the Messiah. Judah figures quite prominently in events at the time immediately prior to Christ’s Return.

Note Zechariah 12:2-3 – “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem.  And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.”

And Zechariah 14:2-4 – “For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.

“Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.

“And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.”

The last verse is clearly still in the future.   Jerusalem, Judah, revived after almost 2,000 years is once again a central point of geographical contention, with neighboring nations and tribes wanting to destroy the country.   As if perpetually drunk, they desperately try to destroy her, so far not succeeding.

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RUSSIAN REVOLUTION

Five days after the Balfour Declaration, Russia had a second revolution.   Earlier in the year, the Czarist regime had fallen and was replaced by a parliamentary system.   Elections were scheduled for later in the year.   Two weeks before the election, the Bolsheviks (communists) staged a coup on November 7th that overthrew the interim government of Alexander Kerensky.   They proclaimed the world’s first communist state.   It brought seven decades of misery to the country, with despotic leaders that made the czars look like Sunday school teachers.   Communism has gone, but the country remains a dictatorship, though claiming to be a democracy.

The Bolshevik Revolution was the second revolution of 1917; there was an earlier revolution in 1905, which led to the establishment of the Duma (parliament) but still left the czar with ultimate power and authority.   Russia’s parliament today is also called the Duma and is the people’s assembly.   However, some would say that Vladimir Putin is a new Czar, with all the power and authority.

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500th ANNIVERSARY OF PROTESTANT REFORMATION

Tuesday was the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenburg church in Germany.   We should all be thankful to Martin Luther.   He had the courage to stand up to the Church of Rome, ending the monopoly the Church had in western Europe.   All churches today owe their freedom to Luther.

I watched a two-hour documentary on PBS recently about Martin Luther and the Reformation.   He is considered the greatest theologian of all time, due to the fact that he wrote more books and articles on the Bible than anybody else. He also translated the scriptures into German.

Later in life, asked to sum up his writings, he replied: “God forgives.” That was of paramount importance to Luther, who struggled all his life with sin, as we all do.   Hearing that, I thought about all the churches that have come out of Luther, directly or indirectly.   Many have one thing in common – they can’t forgive.   How ironic.

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VISIT TO NOAH’S ARK

Earlier in the month, we were in Cincinnati, Ohio.   A group of us, including four of our grandchildren, took the opportunity to visit Noah’s Ark, which is just over the state line in Kentucky.   It’s well worth a visit, if only to get a better idea of the size of the original ark. This replica is built according to biblical specifications.

I’m very thankful that the enterprising Australian behind this project was inspired to build the Ark (and the Creation Museum nearby). More and more people are biblically illiterate, so it’s good that somebody has kept the story alive.   I found the wall plaques explaining everything interesting, but I do not agree with his theory that the earth is only 6,000 years old.

We had been told to allow three hours for our visit. With two 5-year-old twin boys, we went through quite quickly, in exactly two hours.  We left early — because it was raining!!!

The following evening we had a group of Barbadians over for dinner. Wonderful people.   They had actually come from Barbados to visit the Ark.   They are also Young Earthers, believing in the 6,000 years.   We agreed to disagree and still remain friends.  That’s the way it should be.

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FINALLY

I’ve been asked why I quote so often from the Daily Express and Daily Mail newspapers, two Conservative British tabloids.

The answer is quite simple: they have the best web sites.   Check them out sometime.

The Guardian and Independent, more intellectual papers, are constantly asking for money whenever I check their sites; whereas the Times, the Telegraph and the Financial Times make very little available.

The biggest problem with the two papers I use is that they often sensationalize news items.

I will try to find alternative sources, but, realistically I will have to use them occasionally as I don’t have the funds to pay for subscriptions to the more highbrow papers; and they have to request money as they have smaller circulations.

(This blog is a fully independent blog that has no connection to any church or secular organization. It was started to keep people informed on international affairs in light of the scriptures.   Financial support comes from myself and readers who graciously donate to help cover costs.) 

DOGS AND CATS AND SUPER-POWERS

Dog food, cleverly disguised as human food!

Today, I ate a can of dog food.

Not by informed choice, you understand.

As the house is now dog free, I did not expect to find a can of dog meat and certainly was not looking for one.   I was not wearing my glasses when I pulled it off the shelf at Kroger.   It looked like a promising can of soup, with the word “Organic” prominently displayed on the label.   The words “dog food” were in small print and not noticed until my daughter pulled it out of the trash.

It’s my own fault, really.

Our local Kroger grocery store has a “Reduced for quick sale” section, which I often check out for bargains.   That’s where I bought this half-price can.

Now, I may be barking up the wrong tree (sorry!), but I do feel that stores have a responsibility to separate human food from pet food, if only to discourage people from switching to the healthier, cheaper canine options.

This could lead to a serious shortage of dog food, forcing dog owners to feed their pets human food.   While this would be a boon to vets and would encourage entrepreneurs to open doggie weight loss centers on every block, it’s probably best not to blur the thin line that separates animals from humans.

I will continue to write, even though that dog food has made me a little queasy.   My youngest made the observation that my body is in shock from eating healthy food!!!

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Enough of dogs.  Cats have been a big part of my life recently.

After living in an animal free home for almost a year, our youngest daughter brought a cat into the house, thinking that our grandchildren would benefit from the new arrival.   A few weeks later, a second cat suddenly appeared.

The two do not get along.  Cat fights have been a nightly occurrence. So, in a couple of days, we will be taking the “new” cat to our eldest daughter’s home. This will cost over $100 in gas. I suggested it might be cheaper to send the cat by UPS or FedEx, but was over-ruled.

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To more serious matters, the Chinese Communist Party just held its “once-every-five-years” big congress.   Foreign observers would notice that, whenever the delegates had to vote, the vote was always unanimous, with nobody voting against Mr. Xi, the President of the People’s Republic.

I’m surprised that any foreign delegates were there.   Mr. Xi’s speech was 3 and a half hours long, “short” by Chinese standards.   Come to think of it, I would have voted “for” just to get the speech over with.

As few westerners were likely to have listened, it should be noted that President Xi wants to offer the world an alternative to American leadership.   The first Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party was Chairman Mao.   He is credited with unifying the country. His successor, Chairman Deng, turned the country’s back on socialism and made it the second biggest economy in the world, after the United States.  Now, President Xi vows to build on his predecessor’s accomplishments and make the country “stronger.”   History shows he’s likely to succeed – economic success leads to military success.

China isn’t the only power center that wants to offer the world an alternative to the US.   The EU is promising the same.   The EU is the world’s biggest single market. It is effectively the world’s biggest economy, but with 27 member countries it’s not ranked at the top, with each country listed separately.   That will change if Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk have their way. Immediately after Brexit takes place, they want to move full steam ahead with their plans to turn Europe into the world’s number one superpower.

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Russia was in the news today.

Exactly a century after the Russian Revolution overthrew the country’s monarchy, the last Czar, Nicholas II, was in the news again.

A new movie on “Niki’s” relationship with a popular ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet, is proving so controversial the lead actor decided not to attend the premiere of “Matilda” in St. Petersburg.   Cinemas have been attacked and at least one was burned to the ground.

The contention is due to the fact that the Russian Orthodox Church canonized Nicholas and his wife Alexandra after the end of the communist dictatorship.   Russian nationalists consider the movie “blasphemous.”

Clearly, only 26 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, the church and the monarchy both have a substantial following in post-communist Russia.

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Perhaps one reason for a revival of both Russian and Chinese nationalism is American democracy.   US divisions make democracy look really bad. Mass shootings like the recent one in Las Vegas don’t help, either.   Street interviews with the Chinese public during the Communist Party Congress showed that most people do not want to be like the West.   They feel that the US and other western democracies have too much freedom.

We seem to be living through a time that’s reminiscent of ancient Israel.   “There was no king in Israel in those days.   Every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

 

 

BRITISH-ISRAEL’S CALL FOR A FAST

The British-Israel World Federation (BIWF) has called a fast for this Saturday for the peoples of “the Covenant Nations.”

The British-Israelites formed their federation in 1919, but their beliefs can be traced back to the previous century.   As the British Empire expanded during Queen Victoria’s reign and America was spreading westward fulfilling its “manifest destiny,” so the number of believers grew.   Their belief is based on God’s promises to Israel in Genesis 48, that the two sons of his son Joseph would grow into a “company of nations” and “a great nation” – the British Empire and the United States of America.

It was a widely-held belief in the trenches of World War I, when men from all over the British Empire fought against Imperial Germany.   The losses were so great that people became disillusioned with both religion and the empire.

As Britons turned increasingly away from their Christian heritage, so BIWF lost some support.   The organization was supported by some prominent members of the British establishment, the most famous of which was Princess Alice, one of Queen Victoria’s granddaughters.   In the 1930’s, as the Countess of Athlone, she was married to the Governor-General of South Africa; from 1940, following the sudden death of John Buchan, the popular Governor-General of Canada, she and her husband moved to Canada in war time, so that he could serve there, replacing John Buchan.   They remained in Canada until 1946.   On two occasions, they hosted President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill at Rideau Hall, the official residence of the Governor-General.   King George VI, father of Queen Elizabeth II, also made supportive statements reflecting a belief in BI.   A former prime minister of New Zealand was also a member.  They have branches in a number of countries, including all the “covenant nations”.

The idea still persists, in spite of Wikipedia’s claim that the theory has been disproved, for which they give no evidence.   Yair Davidy’s Brit-Am organization in Israel supports the theory with archaeological evidence.     An American organization called “Truth in History” publishes a magazine, which also upholds the teaching. Additionally, the Churches of God that came out of Herbert W Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God, continue to believe – their interpretation of prophecy is heavily influenced by British-Israelism.

Some are dogmatic in their support of BI, while others are equally dogmatic in their dismissal of the belief.   There are those who believe the evidence supporting BI is overwhelming, but there are others who don’t consider it conclusive and reject the teaching.

Whether you believe the theory or not is largely irrelevant.   The fact Is that the “covenant nations” are in deep trouble, hence the call for a fast.   Coincidentally, the date chosen for the fast is also the Jewish Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the year for Jews.   On this day, believers are expected to fast completely, abstaining from all food and drink.   The idea is for everybody to humble themselves before God, to be “at-one” with God, through prayer and Bible Study, as well as worshipping Him with others of like mind.

It’s also a day for repentance.   Repentance means to change, to overcome sin and return to God with great fervor.   It’s unlikely that the peoples of the “covenant nations” will go that far.

Followers of BI believe that Ephraim is the ancestor of the British peoples and nations that became dominions after independence (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa).   Note what God said to Ephraim in Hosea 7:8-10:

“Ephraim has mixed himself among the peoples; Ephraim is a cake unturned.   Aliens have devoured his strength, but he does not know it, yes, gray hairs are here and there on him, yet he does not know it. And the pride of Israel testifies to his face, but they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek Him for all this.”

A little over seventy years ago, the descendants of Joseph, the peoples of the covenant nations, the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic peoples, dominated the globe.   The British Empire and the United States had emerged victorious after World War II and it seemed as if God had given them supremacy all over the globe.   But things started to go wrong immediately. The British lost their empire in the twenty years after the war; and the United States and Britain now seem unable to win any conflicts.

The Commonwealth has largely unraveled and may not survive the death of the Queen and ascension of her son, Prince Charles.

Certainly, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are not as close as they once were.   They no longer form an effective military force and no longer see themselves as fulfilling a common destiny. They have also taken in millions of people from other cultures who do not share the same values inherited from Britain.  (“Ephraim has mixed himself among the peoples”;  “aliens have devoured his strength.”)

At the present time, the greatest threat comes from Brexit and this is why BIWF has called for a fast.   Brexit negotiations are not going well.   The United Kingdom seems to be intimidated by the European Union, lacking in self-confidence, its stance somewhat reminiscent of Neville Chamberlain prior to World War II.  (“Grey hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knows it not.”)

BIWF’s call for a fast and a day of prayer has this to say about Brexit: “On 29th March 2017, Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty was triggered for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.   We need to pray that the LORD will deliver the United Kingdom completely from the Babylonish EU as the difficult negotiations proceed.”

BIWF publishes a book called “We Have a Guardian” recording historical evidence that shows God’s intervention to help Britain in times of trouble.   “Dunkirk” was one example in 1940.   They are calling for God to intervene again, to save Britain through Brexit and to restore the country to its former self, when many of the people were devout Christians.   They are mindful of the Queen’s Coronation Oath, to maintain the laws of God and the true religion, two promises that all the queen’s governments in each of her dominions have conveniently forgotten.

They are also mindful of the threat to the United States and the rest of the world posed by North Korea, calling upon their members to pray about the situation so that a devastating war can be avoided. Such a war would finish off North Korea, but may also set back the United States, allowing other nations to fill the vacuum.

Remember to pray for your country on this fast day.

GERMAN ELECTION AND THE FUTURE OF EUROPE

Angela Merkel told supporters they had achieved “something fantastic” (AFP)

First Brexit, then Trump, now the AfD (Alternative for Deutschland).   Sunday’s German election was the third electoral upheaval in a western country since June last year when the Brexit vote showed a majority of Brits wanted to leave the EU.

Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union received 33% of the vote, which still puts her ahead to form a coalition government with two smaller parties.   Her party received one million votes less than last time.   The Social Democrats got half a million less votes. These have been the two dominant parties through Germany’s postwar history.   The CDU’s more conservative sister party in Bavaria, the Christian Social Union, saw a drop of over 10% in support since the 2013 election.

The third biggest party, with 13.2% of the vote, was the AfD, giving them seats in the Bundestag for the first time.   The party is considered extreme right-wing and has even been described as a “neo-Nazi” party. It’s anti-Islam, anti-immigrant and anti-euro.   It could grow in power and influence as Germany is increasingly threatened by Islamic extremists, let in by Mrs. Merkel two years ago.   She will be blamed for terrorist attacks and every other problem created by the Muslims.   Mrs. Merkel stands by her decision, yet also says the CDU will win back the voters they lost to the AfD.

The CSU’s late leader, Franz Josef Strauss, once warned that Germany must never have a party to the right of his.  It’s now happened.   The CSU is expected to quickly move to the right politically before the state election a year from now.

If she can put together a coalition with the Free Democrats (liberals) and the Greens (left-of-center), she will command a majority of seats in parliament.   If she is able to continue the coalition with the Social Democrats (socialists), the AfD will be the opposition party in parliament, giving them greater public exposure, enabling them to pose a greater threat next time there’s a general election.

Mrs. Merkel is the world’s most powerful woman and the leader of Europe’s most powerful country.   This election is going to have a ripple effect throughout the EU and even the rest of the world, as the EU is the world’s biggest trading bloc.

It’s certainly going to impact Brexit negotiations with the United Kingdom, partly because the British lack the self-confidence to truly go-it-alone.   Mrs. May addressed EU leaders in Florence a few days ago and was bending over backwards to accommodate their demands.   One of her proposals was for a two year transition period, which would mean that the UK would not fully leave the EU until 2021.   That’s not what voters had in mind when they voted on Brexit.

The pro-Brexit leader Nigel Farage described Mrs. May’s proposal as a victory for Goldman Sachs and other international corporations – certainly not one for the British people.

Monday’s Daily Express warned:   “FEARS of a new Franco-German plot to sabotage Brexit and keep Britain tied to Brussels for ever have emerged.”   President Macron of France has proposed some revisions to the EU treaties to keep Britain in and stop others from leaving.

Just as the people in the UK are not going to get what they want, Americans find themselves in a similar situation.   President Trump seems unable to deliver on his promises – to end Muslim immigration, to build a wall on the southern border, to abolish Obamacare, to withdraw from Afghanistan.

The people voted in support of these, just as the British people voted for Brexit.

If they cannot get their countries back through the ballot box, they may take more desperate measures.

Mrs. Merkel has promised to address the concerns of the German people, including those who voted AfD, whom she wants back in the CDU by the next election.   But again, it’s doubtful anything will be done about immigration.   It seems to be an issue western leaders cannot handle.

Bible prophecy shows that the Middle East and Europe will be central to the fulfillment of the final end-time events.   Right now, Europe is at the forefront, with developments that will lead to a continental upheaval resulting in the revived Roman Empire, a new arrangement that will up-end the Treaty of Rome, which was itself an attempt at a European revival based on the Roman Empire.

EUROPE’S STATE OF THE UNION

Nigel Farage blasted Jean-Claude Juncker over his speech in speech in Strasbourg

Nigel Farage is no Winston Churchill.

But the man who led the Brexit campaign sees clearly the growing threat from the German dominated EU, just as Churchill warned of the growing threat from Hitler’s Germany.   Most British people remain clueless.   In fact, almost 50% of the electorate would gladly be subservient to Berlin, including former prime ministers, Tony Blair and John Major.

Earlier this week the President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, gave his State of the Union speech to the European parliament.   Amongst other things, he called for a strong European president with extensive powers, a strong finance minister with dictatorial powers over all 27-member nations, a stronger united military and a more aggressive foreign policy; all of this to begin immediately after Brexit is completed in March, 2019.

This, remember, is a man who is at the head of the world’s most powerful economic system.   It has a population roughly one and a half times that of the United States and a currency that is used by more people around the world than the US dollar.   While the dollar keeps falling in value, the euro is rising, now at $1.20.   This reflects growing confidence in the euro and declining confidence in the greenback.

Note the following from the London Daily Express:

“After listening to more than an hour of Jean-Claude Juncker’s self-agrandising State of the Union speech Farage’s laser-guided attack took just seconds to dismantle almost every plan, proposal and pontification made by the former Luxembourg politician turned European Commission President.

He called Jean-Claude Juncker’s plans to hugely expand the powers of the EU without a vote “extremely worrying” and shouted:   “Thank *** we’re leaving!  You’ve learned nothing from Brexit!”

“The former UKIP boss, and champion of Brexit, added that Juncker and his colleagues were appointing powerful unelected people in positions of huge power including “a finance minister who intervenes when he feels it necessary” and plans for “a European army with a more aggressive foreign policy.”

“And all this to be done without the consent of the people.”

“Mr. Farage was clearly appalled by Junker’s earlier claim that the EU could appoint pan-European ministers with unprecedented powers WITHOUT any form of electoral process.”   (“Nigel Farage TERRIFIED at Juncker’s plan for UNDEMOCRATIC EU”, Daily Express, 9/13/17).

Mr. Juncker’s speech does not mean that all is well in the Union, or that there is perfect harmony between member countries.   Some of the former communist countries of Eastern Europe are at odds with Brussels over a number of issues, including migration.

Note the following from Bloomberg Politics:

“European leaders are declaring the continent’s financial crisis to be over, but now a political one is fermenting.

“A battle between European Union regulators and the Polish government over its plans to weaken the judiciary’s independence is splitting eastern and western Europe……

“The government in Warsaw is at the sharp end of a campaign to rein in errant states.   Populist leaders in Poland and Hungary have been emboldened by Donald Trump’s U.S. presidency and Britain’s decision to quit the EU.  Yet the continent’s center has held together. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is now joined by French President Emmanuel Macron in an active defense of Europe against those centrifugal forces.   Opponents in the east face the prospect of being marginalized politically and even economically.  (“Europe’s Eastern Rebels expose next fault line for EU leaders”, Jonathan Stearns, Bloomberg, July 29th, 2017)”

Europe has come a long way since the European Coal and Steel Community was formed 66 years ago, in 1951.   Six years later, six countries signed the Treaty of Rome, which laid the foundation for the European Union.  Those six countries eventually became 28. Following Brexit they are now at 27.   A few more could leave over various issues.   Perhaps they will get down to the biblical number ten, forming the final union of ten European nations that will be a future superpower.   You can read about this revival of the Roman Empire in Revelation chapter 17.    66 years ago, only serious Bible students would have foreseen the EU becoming as powerful as it is.

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500 YEARS AFTER MARTIN LUTHER

  • Turkey controls 900 mosques in Germany and feels free to say that a “liberal mosque” in Germany is “incompatible” with Islam.
  • Can you imagine Germany offering Iraq, Syria and Egypt to build “200 new churches” to reconstruct the derelict and dispossessed Christian communities there?   No, because in the Middle East, Christians have been eradicated in a forced de-Christianization.
  • Christians in Germany will become a minority in the next 20 years, according to Die Welt.
  • We risk losing not only our churches, but more importantly, our cultural strength and even confidence in the values of our own civilization.

(Germany:  the rise of Islam,  Giulio Meotti , Gatestone Institute, September 12th, 2017.)

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“Why do millions of Muslims risk everything to reach a civilization they blame for all the world’s evils?” (Burak Bekdil, a Muslim, “What’s on the Mind of a Muslim refugee?” Middle East Forum, September 10th.)

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LONDON TERROR ATTACK

There was another terror attack on the London Underground (subway) this morning, during the rush hour.   It injured 22 people. There would have been many more casualties, including deaths, if the IED had exploded properly as intended.   The train had dozens of school children on board, likely the intended target.    (The Manchester Arena target in May was also children.)

Theresa May called an emergency Cabinet meeting following this morning’s attack.

It’s rather pointless.   No western leader will do anything about the immigration policies that have led to the current situation.  Even President Trump is backing away from the promises he made before the election.

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If You Live in Freedom, Thank the British Empire

Was the British Empire a good or bad thing for the world? To put it another way, is freedom a good or bad thing for the world? Historian and author H.W. Crocker III explains why we may want to rethink the British Empire’s bad rap.
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 US DEBT

Americans are starting to pile up more credit card debt than ever before.

According to a new study released Monday, U.S. consumers added $33 billion in credit card debt during the second quarter of 2017, making it the second-highest point of debt since the end of 2008.

Personal Finance website WalletHub.com — who conducted the study—projects that by the end of 2017, Americans will pile more than $60 billion in new credit card debt, which means overall the U.S. is headed towards well over $1 trillion in credit card debt.  (Fox Business News, 9/11)

"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