Category Archives: Life

BABY HAYDEN UPDATE and WORLD NEWS

Saggital craniosynostenosis, first column normal.
Saggital craniosynostenosis, column a normal.

It’s been a tough week.

Our 8-month-old grandson Hayden had major cranial surgery on Wednesday of last week. The technical name for the condition was saggital craniosynostenosis (see diagram above – Hayden wasn’t quite as pronounced as that).   He was in the operating theater for seven hours and remained in the hospital for seven days.   The surgery was to reshape his head.   Without it, seizures could likely start as his brain could not grow sideways, only forwards and backwards, resulting in a football shaped head.   We were informed that one in every 2,000 babies needs the surgery.   I’d never heard of it until a few weeks after he was born.   The surgery was performed at the University of Michigan’s Mott Children’s Hospital, the best in our state.   It’s about 75 miles from our home.

As is often the case with surgery, things did not go entirely as planned.   He lost so much blood he needed a blood transfusion.   In the days following surgery, he could not keep food down.   Additionally, although the surgeon said that he would not feel much pain as there are no nerve sensors in the skull bones, the pediatrician said on the third day that he was clearly in pain.   His face remains swollen and he spends most of the day and night crying.   My wife gave our daughter a break last night and held him in her recliner while he slept.   He cannot lie down in a cot yet.

It’s good to have him home, but it’s going to take a while for him to fully recover.  The swelling must go down.   So must the pain.

We’re very thankful that the surgery is available.   A generation or two ago he may not have survived very long.  It’s marvelous what medical science can do nowadays.

I would like to also thank you all for your prayers and concern during this difficult time.

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Hopefully, medical science will soon find a way to stop “old” people falling.  I fell on the ice this morning while taking Hayden’s two older brothers to school.   As they are both aged four, they naturally wanted to look at the “owie” on my knee.   I refuse to give them the morbid satisfaction of seeing me fall again!

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CNN’S DETERIORATION

After dropping them at school I came home to write this column.   Yesterday, after taking them to school (which I do most days), I went to McDonald’s to wait for Leeson, who is only in school for three hours.  I ordered a hot tea (I’ve got them trained!) and sat down with my laptop to read and write.  CNN was showing on the television, thankfully muted.   Whenever I looked up at the screen, they were “bashing Trump.”

Today, at home, I thought I would try CNN International, which is broadcast from London.  It’s always been a better channel than CNN.  They have an “International Report” at 10am,   that was also devoted to “Trump bashing,” though they did include a brief “Breaking News” item about a serious bomb blast in Baghdad, which killed at least 48 people.

CNN’s audience has been shrinking, with viewers lost to Fox and Fox Business Network.

Critical analysis is needed of this (and every) president, but non-stop, one-sided, often personal attacks on President Trump take away from the network’s credibility, which has been seriously eroded in recent months.   No wonder people are switching to Fox.   No wonder, also, that millions of households have “cut the cord” and no longer have cable, saving an average of $100 a month.

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CHANGING DYNAMICS   (NEWS YOU WILL HAVE MISSED IF YOU WATCH CNN)

From Der Spiegel:

Germany must stand up in opposition to the 45th president of the United States and his government.   That’s difficult enough already for two reasons:   Because it is from the Americans that we obtained our liberal democracy in the first place; and because it is unclear how the brute and choleric man on the other side will react to diplomatic pressure.   The fact that opposition to the American government can only succeed when mounted together with Asian and African partners — and no doubt with our partners in Europe, with the EU — doesn’t make the situation any easier.

So far, Germany has viewed its leadership role — at least the leadership understanding of Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble — as one that is by all means in opposition to the interests of other European countries.   Whether Schäuble’s austerity policies or Merkel’s migration policies, it all happened without much co-coordination and with considerable force.   It is thus somewhat ironical that it is Germany, the country that is politically and economically dominant in Europe, that will now have to fill in many of the gaps created by America’s withdrawal from the old world order, the one referred to by former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer as “Pax Americana.”   At the same time, Germany must build an alliance against Donald Trump, because it otherwise won’t take shape.   It is, however, absolutely necessary.

It is literally painful to write this sentence, but the president of the United States is a pathological liar.  The president of the U.S. is a racist (it also hurts to write this).  He is attempting a coup from the top; he wants to establish an illiberal democracy, or worse; he wants to undermine the balance of power.   He fired an acting attorney general who held a differing opinion from his own and accused her of “betrayal.”   This is the vocabulary used by Nero, the emperor and destroyer of Rome.   It is the way tyrants think.

(Klaus Brinkbaumer)

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New German President anti-Trump

German parliamentary assembly has elected Frank-Walter Steinmeier to become the country’s next president by an overwhelming majority.   Mr. Steinmeier, Germany’s former foreign minister, strongly criticised Donald Trump during the US election campaign.
 
(The President of Germany is a figurehead with similar powers to the British monarch.  He is elected by parliament.  His role is largely ceremonial but he has a great deal of influence.)
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German army to be anchor for small Nato partners

By EUOBSERVER

German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen meets Friday in Washington for the first time with her new American counterpart James Mattis ahead of Nato defence ministers’ meeting in Brussels next week.   The longer-term strategy would turn the Bundeswehr into the leading Nato army in Europe, with small countries integrating their military forces into the German command structures, reports German daily FAZ

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CHANGES AHEAD IN EUROPE

  • A growing number of Europeans are rebelling against decades of government-imposed multiculturalism, politically correct speech codes and mass migration from the Muslim world.
  • Europe’s establishment parties, far from addressing the concerns of ordinary voters, have tried to silence dissent by branding naysayers as xenophobes, Islamophobes and neo-Nazis.
  • “This disruption is fruitful.   The taboos of the last few years are now fully on the agenda: illegal immigration, Islam, the nonsense of open borders, the dysfunctional EU, the free movement of people, jobs, law and order.   Trump’s predecessors did not want to talk about it, but the majority of voters did.   This is democracy.” — Roger Köppel, editor-in-chief of Die Weltwoche, Switzerland.

(Gatestone Institute 1/22)

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US DIVISIONS

As with the EU, the cracks in the USA seem far beyond hairline fractures.   Many sense the country could come apart.   It did once before.   And could Southerners and Northerners have detested each other much more than Americans do today?   (“Is the Left playing with fire again?”  Pat Buchanan 2/14)

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BORROWING FOR US GOVT TO BECOME MORE DIFFICULT

In the age of Trump, America’s biggest foreign creditors are suddenly having second thoughts about financing the U.S. government.

In Japan, the largest holder of Treasuries, investors culled their stakes in December by the most in almost four years, the Ministry of Finance’s most recent figures show.   What’s striking is the selling has persisted at a time when going abroad has rarely been so attractive.   And it’s not just the Japanese.   Across the world, foreigners are pulling back from U.S. debt like never before.

From Tokyo to Beijing and London, the consensus is clear:  few overseas investors want to step into the $13.9 trillion U.S. Treasury market right now.  Whether it’s the prospect of bigger deficits and more inflation under President Donald Trump or higher interest rates from the Federal Reserve, the world’s safest debt market seems less of a sure thing — particularly after the upswing in yields since November.   And then there is Trump’s penchant for saber rattling, which has made staying home that much easier.

(Newsmax  2/13/17)

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YEMEN – NEXT US WAR

Yemen shapes up for US-Iran military clash

Eight armies are fighting for dominance in Yemen, a country of 25 million inhabitants:  The Iranian-backed Houthi insurgents, together with a breakaway force, are battling the army loyal to President Abdulrabbuh Mansur Hadi, which is supported by Saudi, Egyptian and UAE military forces and their hired legion of Colombian mercenaries.   Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) elements, most acting as advisers to the Houthi rebels, intervene actively from time to time.   Last October, they conducted missile attacks on US vessels on the Red Sea from shore batteries.   In response, the US Navy on October 9 and 12 knocked out those batteries and the radar stations that were manned by IRGC teams.   Tehran countered by deploying to Yemen long-range Shahed 129 drones carrying Sadid-1 rockets and sowing sea mines around the international Bab Al-Mandeb Straits.   US President Donald Trump’s sharp warning on Friday, Feb. 3, after just two weeks in office, that Iran was “playing with fire” and the fresh round of sanctions he clamped down were galvanized by Iranian aggression in Yemen and the Red Sea as much as by its ballistic missile test.   And indeed, the deployment of the USS Cole destroyer to the strategic Red Sea Straits of Bab Al-Mandeb on the same day turned the compass needle toward the potential arena, should the escalating tension between the US and Yemen explode into a military encounter, such as a US special operations force going into Yemen to strike IRGC targets. (Debka file)

DEATH OF AN OLD FRIEND

keith-keogh-version-3

Keith Keogh was a friend of mine.   He died in November, aged 80.

Keith was a member of the church my wife and I attended when we first got married.   At the time, we lived in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).   Keith’s farm was in the middle of nowhere, in a place called Tjolotjo, in Matabeleland.   If I remember correctly, Keith had 9,000 hectares, over 22,000 acres.   His farm was about 60 miles one side of Bulawayo, while we lived 30 miles in the opposite direction.   We met with others for a monthly church Bible Study in Bulawayo, the country’s second biggest city.

I went out to his farm on one occasion to join a small group of people hunting on his land.    I wasn’t too successful but I have one lasting memory of that day.   Keith’s employees had just killed an elephant. Elephants were royal game, protected by law.   Farm hands could only kill one if it was a “rogue elephant” – in other words, if it was destroying crops or homes or killing people.   This was one that had been a problem for some time.

I remember watching them cut up the elephant after it was killed.   The meat from the huge animal would keep them all fed for some time.   They even cut open the stomach and turned its contents into some sort of stew.   The elephant’s feet were to be sold to make tables for foreign tourists, the tusks for ivory artifacts.   It’s hide likely ended up making purses and briefcases.   When we left Rhodesia in May 1978 for Ghana, the local church presented me with an elephant skin briefcase, an item I still have as a memento of the country and the Salisbury church (we lived in the capital for over a year after moving from the Bulawayo area).

At the time we visited Keith’s farm, the country was in the midst of a civil war and Tjolotjo was in the thick of it.   In fact, Ian Fyffe, who had taught me my job in Essexvale where I worked for the District Commissioner, was transferred there after I took over his job in Umzingwane.   Ian was younger than me. He was attacked by terrorists and seriously injured.   After two months in the hospital, he was back at work, only to be killed some time later by terrorists. His wife Linda remarried a farmer who, in turn, was also murdered by terrorists.

At about the same time, Keith gave refuge to a couple we remember well and loved dearly – Martin and Cobi Visser.   The Vissers had left Holland after World War II to farm in Africa.  They were dairy farmers.  We often visited them and loved the raw milk they gave us on each visit.   I’ve forgotten why, but they lost their farm and were then invited to live and work on Keith’s farm.   Mrs. Visser looked after the farm store, which sold food and other essential items to the workers there.   On one occasion the farm was raided by terrorists and Cobi, together with Keith’s wife Winnie, scared them off with a loud car horn.

After seven years, the war ended in December 1979.   The whites, under incredible pressure from liberals and socialists in the US, UK and South Africa, lost and saw their country become Zimbabwe.   As the last white leader, Ian Smith, had predicted, Zimbabwe would have “one man, one vote,” meaning that the new leader Robert Mugabe had the only vote that mattered.   Theoretically, there’s universal suffrage, but President Mugabe has had dictatorial power for 37 years.

One of the worst things he did was expel the white farmers.   Keith lost his farm with no compensation in 2002.   He left everything behind him and moved to Botswana, a neighboring country with better race relations and better government.   I lost touch with him at about this time, but I have learned since that he was very successful there in helping local people to improve their farms and build for the future.

A few years ago, we returned to Zimbabwe and visited Essexvale, where we went to see the farm of a friend, Colin Martin, who had lived there.   He fled the country with his wife and dogs and nothing else about the same time Keith left.   A brief visit to his farm was heart-breaking – it lay in ruins.   It was not being used to produce food.   Africans are subsistence farmers, not commercial farmers like Keith and Colin.

Keith, Colin and others like them are part of central Africa’s story. They helped make Rhodesia the breadbasket of Africa and gave it the second most developed economy on the continent.   Since independence, the country they loved has become the basket-case of Africa.

The white liberals in the West who helped destroy the country are now silent.   Zimbabwe has created thousands of jobs for western aid agencies who try to feed the people with hand-outs. In hindsight, it would have been better to keep the white farmers and ensure there would be enough food for everybody.   Neighboring countries, like Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia have taken in some of the farmers, who have boosted food production in their countries.

Instead of forking out endless aid to help peoples in Africa, it would be better to send in just one highly productive white farmer.   Given 99-year leases, as in Zambia, they can make the land very productive.

Sadly, South Africa seems likely to follow Zimbabwe.   Militant voices are calling for the confiscation of white-owned farms.   A friend of mine related to me on Friday how his cousin and wife were murdered on their farm by African militants, members of the governing ANC’s “youth wing.”   Julius Melema, their leader, is one voice wanting all the land seized.   South Africa’s commercial farmers have helped feed Zimbabweans and others; if the farmers lose their land, where will the food come from?

It was the great Scottish missionary, David Livingstone, who first opened up the interior of Africa in his zeal to end the slave trade on the continent and to bring light into darkness, preaching the gospel to people who had never heard it.   Muslims were raiding central Africa and taking slaves back to the Middle East.

Others from Britain went out to central Africa and farmed.   They did not steal the land as is popularly believed today – the land they farmed was mostly un-used.   They saw themselves as bringing civilization into the area.   Some believed they were fulfilling Old Testament prophecies about the modern descendants of Israel being a blessing to the world (Genesis 12:3); the colonies they settled were forming the “multitude of nations” promised in Genesis 48:19. The Victorians had a mission to save the Africans from ignorance, poverty and slavery.

Sadly, the end of the British Empire in Africa has seen slavery returning in every single country in Africa.  It is estimated there are more slaves today than there ever were at the height of the 18th century slave trade.   This is a direct consequence of today’s white liberals who succeeded in destroying the empire.

This can also be said about Africa’s food problems.   Again, it’s western liberals who have set back African food production.

Keith Keogh was one of the men who helped boost food production on the continent during the colonial era.   Right up until he died, he remained dedicated to helping improve farms and the lives of farmers.

It’s time to honor the work of men like Keith and to speak out about the African leaders who have done so much harm to the continent.

Footnote:   African countries are planning a mass exodus from the International Criminal Court (ICC).   They claim bias by the court, which has highlighted atrocities committed by African leaders, including genocide perpetrated by some presidents against tribes other than their own.  Rather than risk prosecution by an international court, they are withdrawing from the jurisdiction of the court.  This decision is not unexpected – South Africa, Burundi and the Gambia withdrew last year.

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AMERICA FIRST – PHONE CALL TO AUSTRALIA

I was saddened and troubled this morning upon hearing the news that the new American President, Donald Trump, yelled at the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, during a phone call that reportedly lasted 25 minutes.   The US president apparently was so angry he slammed the phone down, cutting off the prime minister.  The PM has since denied this.

The issue they were discussing was an agreement between the Obama Administration and the Australian government, whereby the US promised to take in 1,250 Muslim migrants that Australia did not want to accept.

The real problem here is the migrants themselves.   This situation has been going on for years and has led to extreme violence by Muslim immigrants in both the US and Australia.   Why is it governments still have not come up with a solution?

Why is it that thousands of migrants cross dozens of countries to get to Australia, the US, Canada and the nations of Western Europe when they could quite easily go to a neighboring Muslim country?

Just as disturbing is the question: why did President Trump get so angry with a vital American ally?   Australia has done a great deal to help the United States in recent decades, in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. It works both ways – the US is pledged to defend Australia in times of war. But Australia has fought in American wars that were not in their own interests.

Additionally, the US has a large trade imbalance with Australia, to America’s advantage.   Aussies buy far more American products than the other way round.   (I do my bit to buy goods from Australia, but one can only eat so many Tim Tams!)   Australians are already disappointed at the US backing out of the TPP.

Hopefully, the president will learn quickly who America’s friends are, friends who themselves have often put “America First.”

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IS AMERICA UNRAVELLING?

Frank Luntz, a Republican strategist and regular CBS contributor, expressed grave concern this morning following the riot at the University of Southern California, Berkeley.  The riot was intended to stop a conservative speaker who had been invited to speak on the campus.  As so often happens nowadays, whenever a conservative is asked to speak, a “rent-a-mob” turns up to stop them.  Whether or not these were all university students is a matter of speculation.  But what’s going on threatens the historic freedom of speech that has been a hall-mark of American democracy going right back to colonial times.

Mr. Luntz said he feels the country is unraveling, adding that “we have 1968 all over again.”   Prior to the latest election, 1968 witnessed the most tumultuous election in recent times, with riots and assassinations against a backdrop of war.

Mr. Luntz is correct when he notes that there is “nothing that binds Republicans and Democrats together” any more.

He also observed that Donald Trump is keeping his promises, that people had plenty of warning of what he intended to do in America.

GRANDCHILDREN, THE DEBATE AND THE CANADIAN CROWN

Evan very upset he couldn't have that "juice."
Evan very upset he couldn’t have that juice.

We’re visiting our daughter, Alix, her husband, Mike, and their family in Indianapolis.   Seven of our grandchildren are with us in the house. Our son’s two girls had to stay behind for basketball try-outs on Sunday.

The 5-hour drive south was stressful, to put it mildly.   Not only did we have to contend with road construction that seriously impacted our speed but we had three young children in the van, one of whom hates traveling and kept asking to go home.   Even after we arrived, he still wanted to go home, asking Grandpa if we could leave late at night just to get away from it all. He must have sensed my stress!

It’s now Friday lunchtime.   Just as I sat down to write, Evan, one of Alix’s twins, rode in a laundry basket down the steep stairs and crashed into the front door.   He’s ok – I’m not sure about the door and the laundry basket has definitely seen better days!  (Not to mention Alix’s heart failure!)

A few moments earlier, our autistic grandson who has a tendency to run away and get lost, knocked on the front door.   We’ve no idea how he got out but at least he came back.   He’s 4.   He’s a late developer – I ran away when I was 3.

Evan is clearly a troublemaker.   I have been sipping whisky in an attempt to kill a sore throat, though it doubles as a coping mechanism with all the activity around me.   I just looked up to find Evan took my whisky bottle over to his mom and asked her to pour him some “juice.”

In spite of the occasional stress of sheer numbers, I still think that the opportunity to have time with grandchildren is a tremendous blessing and we truly enjoy every minute of it.

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We are, of course, in Mike Pence territory. He’s been Governor of Indiana for four years and is highly spoken of by, seemingly, everybody.   He’s done a good job governing the state, which has a financial surplus.

I thought he was treated badly on Monday by his opponent Tim Kaine in the Vice Presidential debate.   Mr. Kaine kept on interrupting Mr. Pence so that he could not get his points across.   Kaine was rude while Pence responded like a gentleman.

Another difference between them was over the issue of abortion. Kaine squirmed and waffled while trying to explain how he supports abortion when his own church, the Church of Rome, is against it.   He said he felt it would be wrong of him to force his own view on women who want abortions.   Mr. Pence, a Protestant and regular church-goer, reaffirmed his total opposition to abortion and said that, as Governor of Indiana, he has been promoting adoption as a means of encouraging women to give birth, rather than have their unborn child murdered.   He reminded viewers that Mrs. Clinton supports partial-birth abortions, allowing women to abort babies when they are close to delivery.   He even quoted Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.”

Mrs. Clinton supposedly takes her Christianity seriously – she’s a Methodist, a church now opposed to abortion.

Kaine and Clinton can only be described as hypocrites, supporting the murder of innocent children, while claiming to both be people of faith.

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This year’s US presidential election cannot be encouraging any country to adopt the American system of government.   Comments heard overseas are along the lines of:   “Out of 330 million people, this is the best you can come up with?”

The ignorance of the rest of the world shown by Gary (“What’s Aleppo?”) Johnson, who is now claiming that knowledge of world affairs is “over-rated,” must be another influencing factor.

So, it’s not surprising that Canadians welcomed Prince William, his wife and two children, to British Columbia and Yukon.   The future King and Queen of Canada, with their son, Prince George, who will succeed his father on the throne 40 or 50 years from now, ensure that Canada’s current system of government will endure for the rest of this century.

Canada is a constitutional monarchy, just like the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.   There are also 13 other Commonwealth Realms over which the Queen reigns.   In addition, she is Head of the 53-nation Commonwealth of former British colonies.   The British government has no authority over any of these countries.

Although many people think the 90-year-old Queen doesn’t do anything, the left-wing Independent newspaper in Britain wrote the following on her responsibilities:

“Her schedule is incredibly regimented, with multiple formal proceedings, events and processes she has to adhere to every day.

Meetings with ministers and officials take up a large portion of her day and, like most of us, she spends a big chunk of her time at work.

Morning

The Queen’s working day begins at her desk scanning the daily newspapers.   She then proceeds to go through some of the 300 letters she receives from the general public every day.   Some of these letters the Queen reads and replies to herself, while with others she tells members of her staff how she would like them to be answered.

Her Majesty will then see two of her private secretaries with the daily quota of official papers and documents.   She receives a huge number of correspondences from Government ministers and her representatives in the Commonwealth and foreign countries.   All of these have to be read and, where necessary, approved and signed.

A series of official meetings or ‘audiences’ will often follow.   Each meeting usually lasting 10 to 20 minutes.

If there is an Investiture, a ceremony for the presentation of honors and decorations, it begins at 11.00am and lasts just over an hour.

The Queen will then lunch privately although every couple of months, she and The Duke of Edinburgh will invite a dozen guests from a wide variety of backgrounds to an informal lunch.

If Her Majesty is spending the morning on engagements away from her desk and other commitments, she will visit up to three venues before lunch, either alone or jointly with The Duke of Edinburgh.

Afternoon

In the afternoons, the Queen often goes out on public engagements and prepares for each visit by briefing herself on who she will be meeting and what she will be seeing and doing.   Her Majesty carries out around 430 engagements (including audiences) a year and will regularly go out for the whole day to a particular region or city.

The afternoon draws to an end with a meeting of the Privy Council with several government ministers.

Evening

Early evening can involve the weekly meeting with the Prime Minister, which usually takes place on Wednesdays at 6.30pm.” (Independent, 9/9/15)

She is also available to all Commonwealth leaders.

Prince Charles will inherit the same responsibilities, as will Prince William, then George, in turn.

In contrast to the US, where party politics has seriously damaged the unity of the country, the Queen brings people together in a non-political way.

Western democracies, in the main, have one of three distinctly different forms of democracy.

The US presidential system is one.

The “Westminster” (British system) is another.   This is just as democratic.   People elect their representatives to parliament.   The dominant party’s leader becomes the prime minister.   The Queen remains outside of politics, but contributes greatly to political stability and national unity.

The third option is a mix of the two, with a parliamentary form of government and a prime minister but, instead of a monarch, there is an appointed figurehead president, with similar powers to the British monarch.   The Germans, Italians and Irish have this form of government.   A serious weakness was shown with this system in 1934, when the German president died suddenly and the new Chancellor, Adolf Hitler, simply abolished the office and had himself proclaimed “Fuhrer.”   This could not happen in a constitutional monarchy – when the Queen dies, automatically Charles becomes King.

Although some people in Canada would like to see the tie with the Crown abolished when the Queen dies, Canadian John Fraser summed up their arguments this way:   “Queen Elizabeth has done a great job for Canada; therefore let’s make sure there is no monarchy when she dies.”  (“The Secret of the Crown,” John Fraser, 2012)   The reasoning really doesn’t make sense.

Fraser points out that Canada is one of the most successful countries in the world, thanks partly to its political system, which includes a major role for the Crown.   The country’s birth owes its origin to the Crown and the people’s allegiance to it. Even the current Liberal Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, is committed to maintaining the tie with the Crown – indeed, he invited William and Kate to Canada, along with their two children.   Next year, Prince Charles and his wife will be in Canada to join in celebrations for the 150th anniversary of confederation.

 

FAMILY UNIT – FOUNDATION OF SOCIETY

Lark-Rise-To-Candleford-net-worth

“Lark Rise to Candleford” is a BBC series set in 1895.   It’s about two geographically close communities, one poor and the other fairly affluent, and how characters inter-act with each other.   The series started in 2008 and ran for four seasons.

My wife and I have been watching it when time permits.   We are now halfway through the third season.

We usually watch it after the latest episode of “Agatha Raisin,” set in contemporary England.   Shown originally on Sky TV and filmed in the Cotswolds, one of the most beautiful areas in the country, Agatha Raisin is an amateur detective (Agatha! Get it?), who has moved from London to the Cotswolds for a change of pace.   She must be having second thoughts as the small village she lives in has at least one murder per week.   Every murder is tastefully done – no extreme violence here, no, not in England.   No guns.

The two series could not be more different.   We unhesitatingly recommend the former, but are not likely to continue to watch the latter.

In 1895 the residents of Lark Rise and Candleford all lived in accordance with strict societal rules.   These included biblical standards of morality.   This cannot be said about the residents in Agatha Raisin’s village, or even of Agatha herself.   Agatha Christie would be appalled. And Queen Victoria would certainly not have been amused!

What a difference 120 years has made to the family and morality.

Pause for a moment and think of how much it has cost us on both sides of the Atlantic.

The high costs of welfare are largely to cover-up the breakdown of the family system in this new liberal age.   These welfare rolls have put us on a toboggan slide to insolvency.   They have also added to the violence in our society as mothers often choose single parenthood over marriage as a way to get more benefits; boys without fathers are more inclined toward crime and violence.

A report from England two days ago highlighted how teenage girls there are increasingly unhappy.   Family breakdown leads to unhappiness and increases the likelihood of addictions and suicide.

The anti-biblical society we have created has put 65 million babies to death in the US alone, following the 1973 Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion.   These 65 million have been replaced by an equal number of immigrants, many of whom make no attempt to assimilate, while some are openly hostile toward us. Aside from the moral consideration, wouldn’t it have been better to raise those 65 million babies to be productive members of society?   Faced with growing existential threats, they would also have added to our military strength; after all, the greatest strength is people, not technology.

Generous welfare benefits in western countries are also contributing to the migrant crisis, as hundreds of thousands of economic migrants are attracted to the West by all the freebies.  Not all are refugees fleeing wars and persecution.

It’s a complete mess.  It’s clearly time for a rethink.  It’s time to restore the family to its traditional role and reverse the role of the state.

Christians believe that God created the family system — “male and female created He them” (Genesis 1:27). “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24).   To a certain extent, this is still a basic principle of our law – the marriage relationship takes precedence over other relationships.

However, what we fail to see is that within the biblical parameters we have the perfect welfare system.   For thousands of years, this was the foundation of every society, a family system in which the various members of a family helped and supported each other.   It is still the basic unit of most cultures around the world.

The irony is that, in the event of a financial collapse, which is inevitable at some point, we would see the family unit restored, as people would have to help each other again.

We might even see some sense come back into the financial system. One of the characters in the first season of “Lark Rise” is now serving time in debtors’ prison.   Until 1905, in Britain at least, people were sent to prison for their debts, until family members could save the money to pay off the debt and get them out.   Today, the accumulation of debt in the western world is no longer a crime – and it’s even legally possible for people to walk away from their debts. This cannot be good for the economy.

The more Biblically aware Victorians believed that “if a man doesn’t work, neither should he eat.” (II Thessalonians 3:10)   They would have been appalled at the very idea of state welfare.

Another scripture that influenced the Victorians was written by the Apostle Paul.   “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (I Timothy 5:8).

The family system was the foundation of society.   It’s taken quite a battering in the last century, but still survives – and will be needed once again in the event of a national or international calamity.

CATCHING UP

Five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, with bloodied face, sits with his sister inside an ambulance after they were rescued following an airstrike in the rebel-held al-Qaterji neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria August 17, 2016. Picture taken August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Mahmoud Rslan
Five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, with bloodied face, sits with his sister inside an ambulance after they were rescued following an airstrike in the rebel-held al-Qaterji neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria August 17, 2016. Picture taken August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Mahmoud Rslan

Our lives are dominated by medical concerns at the moment.

I’ve just been in the hospital again, this time with vomiting, dehydration, high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation.   I drink more water than most people I know, but seem to have trouble retaining it.   I’ve started supplementing my diet with a natural substance full of electrolytes.   Together with prayer and moderate exercise, I hope this will keep me out of the hospital.

Of far greater concern is our ninth grandchild, who turns three months on August 24th.   He has saggital craniolsinostenosis and is scheduled for surgery on November 4th.   His name is Hayden.   Your prayers for him are greatly appreciated.

A longer-term problem remains with his eldest brother, Aubren, who is autistic.   He will be attending a new school after Labor Day, which is supposed to have a good program for autism.   He attended a school last year that helped him considerably, but we are now in a different school district.   Autistic children do not generally adjust well.   Again, we ask for your prayers.

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At the same time, do not forget to pray:  “Thy Kingdom come.” (Matthew 6:10)   72 hours ago a photo of a five-year-old boy in Aleppo went around the world and showed the continued suffering of children in Syria, in a war without end.   Similar photos were taken of children during the Blitz in World War II.   Some of those children were evacuated to rural areas for their own safety.   Now, the pressure is on to evacuate the children to other countries.   Surely western nations can secure a war-free zone near Aleppo that would provide safety to all children, while greater pressure is applied on Russia to end the war.   The latest news is that the boy’s older brother has died from his injuries.

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An Orthodox Jew was attacked Friday morning in Strasbourg, France, by a man shouting “Allahu Akhbar!”   The police say there was no link with terrorism.   I suppose they mean there was no perceived link with Islamic State.   What they should be looking for is a link with Islam.   If that were the standard to judge attacks by, the general public would be better informed of the dangers from radical Islam.   Almost all terror attacks are perpetrated by Muslims – whether they are affiliated with ISIS or not is a side issue.

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With so many attacks in France, Marine LePen is now the favorite to win the French presidential election next year.   As Hillary Rodham Clinton is leading polls in the US, 2017 could see all four major western countries (Britain, France, Germany and the US) led by women.   That would be a definite first!   I should add that, beyond their gender, they have little in common.

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Donald Trump was in town on Friday.   Dimondale, to be exact, just one suburb away from where we live.   My son, Kurt, and I had two tickets.  Trump’s speech was postponed from 2 till 5pm due to an urgent visit to Louisiana to deliver relief to flood victims, while the president was playing golf and Mrs. Clinton was “resting.”   We arrived at the building three hours before the rally.   The lines were unbelievably long.   Lots of enthusiastic people, almost all white, waiting in line to enter.   Kurt thought, correctly, that I would not be able to handle the line, so after looking around we returned home and I watched the speech on television.   It was widely thought to be the best speech he had ever given.   Even his detractors agreed on that point.

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Meanwhile, even the pro-Clinton Boston Globe has called on the Democratic presidential candidate to close down the Clinton Foundation, a “charity” that has helped make the Clintons very wealthy people.   A spokesperson for the Foundation has said that if Mrs. Clinton wins in November, they will stop accepting foreign donations.   It’s a clear conflict of interest and one of the reasons people question her ethics.

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If Trump wins, it could mean the end of the western alliances that have helped give us peace for 70 years, coinciding with America’s supremacy as the global superpower.   Mr. Trump has been critical of the fact that some allies are not doing enough.  That’s a fair point, but overlooks the fact that the alliances are what give America it’s leadership role.   If NATO is disbanded, the US president will no longer be “the Leader of the Free world.”

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Having said that, if Mrs. Clinton wins the election, promising more of the same, the country is well on the way to national bankruptcy.

Either way, America’s period of global domination is coming to an end.   In February 2017, just after the new president takes office, it will be exactly 70 years since the first perception that Washington had replaced London as the main center of global power.   Seventy years.   That’s how long the first superpower, Babylon, stayed at the top.  (“When seventy years are completed….” Jeremiah 29:10).   All great powers eventually burn out – America will be no different. America replaced the British Empire.   Who will replace America?

CONFUSION REIGNS!

 

Captain America

Last Sunday evening I was humbled.

I decided to take all four granddaughters to the latest “Captain America” movie, which began at 7.15pm.   I sat there through over two hours of film, not comprehending what was going on.   I was totally bewildered.

Leaving the movie theater at 10pm, we all drove home in my daughter’s RV.   It was very dark outside.   I was driving as all the girls are 9, 10 and 11.

Suddenly, a voice in the back yelled out, “Will my dad be up this late?”

I shouted back, “Which dad?”  Two of the girls belong to our son, Kurt, and two to our daughter, Alix, and her husband, Mike.   And they all have similar-sounding voices.

“MY dad!” was the response.

Again, I asked, “Which dad?”

This time, two girls shouted back,  “OUR dad!”

“Look,” I said, “I can’t see who is asking and there are two dads here. There’s Kurt and there’s Mike.  Which dad do you want?”

This time, the response was clear.   “Kurt.”

Silence followed for a few seconds, then I heard our nine-year-old granddaughter, Elena, turn to her sister and cousins and observe: “I’ve heard that when people are old, they get very confused!”

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Perhaps there is some truth to that.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is a few years older than me and said something last week that showed she is very confused.   Either that, or she was deliberately misleading people.

She said in a speech that Donald Trump’s call for an end to Muslim immigration would increase terrorism.

If this is true, how does she explain Japan?   They have received no Muslim immigrants – and have experienced no Islamic terrorism!

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There was no mention on any news program of the religious background of the man who killed the UCLA Professor a few days ago.   Earlier, he had also murdered his ex-wife.   A “hit list” found at his home showed he intended to kill two professors but the other one was gone for the day.

The man, Mainak Sarkar, was a Bengali immigrant.   Bangladesh is a Muslim country.

Once again, we see the need for a complete overhaul of the rules relating to immigration and naturalization.   Confusion (Babylon) has been the result of the last fifty years when it comes to immigration.

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There’s also a lot of confusion over in England, too, over the EU Referendum taking place on June 23rd, less than three weeks away.   The debate has gotten nasty and the country remains very divided.

It’s becoming the norm for foreign leaders to butt in.   US President Obama, Mrs. Clinton, and Donald Trump have all expressed their opinion.   Mr. Trump has brought forward his visit to the country by two days, now arriving the day before the vote, rather than the day after.   The head of the International Monetary Fund, the German Chancellor, and European Union bureaucrats are all warning of disaster if the country leaves the EU.

Although there are peripheral issues, the fundamental question is: do the British people want their country administered from London or Berlin?   75 years ago, Winston Churchill knew the answer.   Does England need another Churchill to figure it out?

A very important secondary question is: do the British people want their country to remain British, or become a European mix?   The EU’s open borders have led to millions of people from other EU countries flooding into the UK, for its more generous welfare benefits and it’s better economy.   There’s nothing can be done about this as long as they remain in the EU.

The future of the UK is certainly at stake.

The worst possible result is a close vote, with the majority of Scots voting to “Remain” (in the EU) and the majority of English voting to “Leave.”   This would lead to Scotland calling for a second referendum on independence from the UK.   Going it alone could work with help from Berlin and Brussels, the capital of the EU.

It would mean the end of the United Kingdom.

In today’s world where only money seems to matter, I don’t think anybody really understands the full implications of this. “Grey hairs are here and there upon him, and he knows it not.”   (Hosea 7:9).

It’s not just the elderly who are confused!

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A final comment on the US presidential election comes from our 11-year-old granddaughter, Paris, who was half-watching the news with me.   Following the usual five-second sound bite from both Trump and Hillary, she suddenly asked:   ‘Why do we have to have a president anyway?   Whey can’t we be like other countries, with a king or a queen?”

After watching this election, it’s no wonder she’s confused!

 

RHODES ON ROADS

Leeson
Leeson, 3, playing in the driveway.

I was sitting on the front porch yesterday evening, watching our 3-year-old grandson, Leeson, digging in the dirt that constitutes our circular drive way.   He had his back to me and happily played for over two hours.   I think he was enjoying some alone time as his 4-year-old brother, Aubren, had gone to play golf with his dad.   His younger brother no longer likes golf after falling off the golf cart (it was parked) and getting a couple stitches over his eye.   And Grandpa hasn’t liked golf since making a fool of himself the last time he played!  It was so bad, the city closed down the golf course soon afterwards, though this may have been a coincidence.

Back to the driveway.   I couldn’t see exactly what he was doing, but when he finally came in to the house to eat his dinner (or, rather, not eat it) I walked over to where he was playing and looked at his handiwork.

What Leeson had done was dig his own little pothole.

Clearly influenced by driving on Michigan’s roads, where potholes are ubiquitous, this future citizen is growing up thinking this is the norm.   I’m going to have to tell him, when he is old enough to understand, that once upon a time there were no potholes in Michigan.  In fact, when Grandpa and Grandma left Ghana for the United States in 1990, they naively thought that potholes were a thing of the past!

We never expected that, 25 years later, Michigan would be worse than Ghana for potholes.

Presumably, the United States has the technology to fix the roads, so that can’t be the problem.   A recent letter to our local newspaper was written by a man who had driven from Florida to Michigan, driving through a number of states, and remarked on how the roads deteriorated as soon as he crossed the state line from Ohio into Michigan.   He rather unkindly wrote that he didn’t need a sign to tell him he had reached Michigan – the state of the roads was enough to say where he was.

It’s been like this for a while, two or thee years.   Nothing is ever done about it.   For all the roadworks that seem to take place here, there are still potholes galore.

Perhaps all our taxes are going to Flint to improve the water quality before the entire population dies from lead poisoning.   I doubt it. Infrastructure does not appear to be a priority.

The question is: where are our taxes going?

We pay road taxes in different ways – our gas is amongst the most expensive in the United States.   Before we cross back into Michigan from Indiana, where our daughter and family live, we fill up our gas tank to save money.  If we smoked, we’d buy our cigarettes there, too; and if I drank a lot, I’d buy my beer there as there’s no deposits on bottles or cans.

An attempt was made last year to raise the sales tax (on everything except food) from 6-7%, but was rejected by the voters. Quite simply, the people did not trust their government to actually use the money to fix the roads. The 6% should be enough, together with a high tax on gas and car registration fees. Again, where’s all the money going?

Michigan taxpayers had to bail out the city of Detroit to the tune of $191 million, following years of corrupt administration in the city, where officials pocketed a great deal of the local tax revenue.   More recently, Michigan taxpayers have had to bail out the city of Flint to rectify its water situation.   Again, the problem was caused by the local city council.   The inevitable lawsuits will themselves run into millions, every dollar of which could be used to fix the roads.

Meanwhile, voters are forking out thousands each year on car repairs, made essential by the state of the roads.   At least the body shops are doing well!

It’s time the Legislature made a determined effort to solve this problem.   It might be more of a priority for the Governor if he didn’t fly around in a helicopter – from his perspective, the roads look fine!

To be fair, there is only one pothole in my drive.  I suspect, however, that Leeson will be out there again today digging up more of our own little road, until there are a dozen potholes in the drive, making it a more authentic stretch of Michigan road!

Perhaps, 15 years from now, when he graduates from High School, Leeson can work for the Transportation Department and help fix the roads.   I’m convinced those potholes will still be there.