Category Archives: News

I have my opinions and am willing to share them!

ANTI-SEMITISM ON THE INCREASE IN GERMANY AND FRANCE

The premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, says anti-Semitism in his country is increasing from two directions: the far right and Muslim migrants. Police clash with right-wing protesters in Chemnitz, Germany. Credit: AFP

DW news (German news) highlighted the fact that anti-semitic acts in the Federal Republic increased by over 60% last year.   They added that France was worse, with a 70% increase.

At the same time, right-wing parties are expected to make significant gains in the election for the European Parliament, set for May.   It should be emphasized that most people in these parties are simply concerned about immigration.   But this could change.

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A FRENCH VIEW ON AMERICA’S RETREAT FROM THE WORLD

“BHL (Bernard Henri Levy) … is a philosopher given to interpreting the world’s maladies.   He is in New York for the publication on Feb 12 of his latest book, elegantly provocative, “The Empire and the Five Kings.”   It describes “the new geopolitical order which is designing itself before our eyes” as a result of “America’s abdication” of global leadership.

“You have America going back,” he says, “retreating and lowering its flag, both on military and ideological terms.”   In Mr. Levy’s thesis,“ five former empires which we all thought to be dead and buried, are waking up again – Russia, China, Turkey, Sunni radical Islamism and Persia  (Iran).   We thought they were pure ghosts but no, they are moving again; they are dancing again on the floor of the world.”  They are rushing unchecked, he says, into the voids left everywhere by the retreat of the West, most notably under Donald Trump.”   (“The French philosopher who loves America,” by Tunku Varadarajan, WSJ, 2/9)

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INCREDIBLE SHRINKING EUROPE

“Last week offered fresh evidence that the most consequential historical shift of the last 100 years continues:   the decline of Europe as a force in world affairs.   As Deutsche Bank warned of a German recession, the European Commission cut the 2019 eurozone growth forecast from an already anaemic 1.9 % to1.3 %.   Economic output in the eurozone was lower in 2017 than it was in 2009; over that same period, gross domestic product grew 139% in China, 96% in India, and 34% in the US, according to the World Bank.”   (“Incredible Shrinking Europe”, by Walter Russell Mead, WSJ, 12th February).

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DEJA VU – socialism (again)

“If you’re not a socialist by age 20, you’ve got no heart; if you’re still a socialist by age 40, you’ve got no head.”   So said Winston Churchill.   It explains Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, at 29, very well.   But how do you explain Elizabeth Warren, aged 69?   Or Bernie Sanders, who’s 8 years older!

50 years ago, it was all the rage.   Students across the world wanted socialism, government control of the means of production (and everything else).   It didn’t work.   It made a much bigger mess of the world.   Thirty years later, people realized that instead of government solving the problem, the reality was that government IS the problem!

But now, thanks to young voters, we’re back to socialism being the solution to everything.

This year, a number of socialists are in the US Congress.   And they all have expensive ideas.   Medicare for all; the Green New Deal; a guaranteed job for all; a new system for corporate control; vastly higher taxes.   These are all part of the program.   The cost to the tax-payer would be horrendous.     A guaranteed job for all would make government even more inefficient.

That isn’t to say it won’t happen.

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Democracy in Africa?  What democracy in Africa?

Note from The Editor:   Branko Brkic, Daily Maverick, 20 January 2019

The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Constitutional Court in the early hours of 20 January upheld the victory of Felix Tshisekedi by rejecting appeals by his rival, Martin Fayulu.   Fayulu has rejected the court ruling and called on his supporters to organize non-violent protests.

It is becoming increasingly clear for everyone to see:   Democracy in Africa is an idea to which almost nobody is subscribing.   Once more, another country’s clear majority chose its president, only for the land that was once Mandela’s to accept the clearly fake presidential and parliamentary results, people’s will be damned.   This time, it’s Congo’s turn.   So, why have elections at all?   The polls in Congo have come and gone, another one in the wall of denying the people’s true will.   The “results,” if they could be even considered that, have clearly been cooked.   (Daily Maverick, South Africa, January 2019)

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FIGHTING FOR THE KING IN AMERICA’S FIRST CIVIL WAR

Recently, I’ve read four books on the American Revolution.   All four books were written by Americans — and all four describe the Revolutionary War as “America’s first civil war.”   Indeed it was.

Most of the battles did not involve any British troops.   And for two years after the British defeat at Yorktown, fighting continued between Americans.   The conflict was between American Tories (Loyalists) and American Patriots (Rebels).   In some areas (notably South Carolina) 80% of the citizenry supported the Crown.   In fact, at one point the Patriots were ready to give up on the South as they were solidly loyal.

One thing is clear – the more conservative you are now, the more likely you are to have been a Loyalist!

Out of the war came three nations, the United States, Canada and Sierra Leone.   (The latter was established for slaves freed by the British Army.)   The war was not between America and England. Note the last three paragraphs of “Tories:   Fighting for the King in America’s First Civil War,” by Thomas B Allen:

“Within a year after the war ended, about 100,000 Americans left their homes.   Most of them went to Canada.   The rest chose England, Scotland or British possessions in the West Indies.   Within a generation the new Canadians had spread across the vast British dominion, taking with them the virtues and the visions that they and their ancestors had had as American colonists.   Granted large tracts of land, they transformed a wilderness into a vibrant nation.   Many became prosperous farmers or started mercantile dynasties. “Seldom had a people done so well by losing a war,” a Canadian historian wrote.

“Today, four to six million Canadians – about one fifth of the population – claim a Tory ancestor.   Many Canadians believe that their nation’s traditional devotion to law and civility, the very essence of being a Canadian, traces back to being loyal, as in Loyalist.

“Below the border live the people who started another country, built by Rebels.

Within a generation, those Rebels would begin to forgive – and forget – the Tories.   They would call the Revolution a war between Americans and the British, losing from their collective memory the fact that much of the fighting had been between Americans and Americans.”   (“Tories,” Thomas B. Allen, page 333).

This obscures the fact that the war saw brother fight brother, that neighbors fought each other.   We have seen this twice in our history.  Now, we are dividing again.  Could history repeat itself?

(The other three books are “Redcoats and Partisans,” by Walter Edgar; “Frontier Rebels,” by Patrick Spero; and “Scars of Independence,” by Holger Hoock.)

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A SPECIAL PLACE IN HELL

Donald Tusk (AFP)

Donald Tusk is the President of the European Council.   He was voted in for a second term by the 27 countries of the EU, not by a popular vote of the people.

He serves until the end of 2019.

Earlier in the week, Mr. Tusk caused offense by saying that “there’s a special place in hell for those who support Brexit.”   Later, Guy Verhofstadt, special EU negotiator on Brexit, further elaborated with:   “Lucifer himself would not welcome Brexiteers, as they would divide hell.”

So, Brexit has brought religion to Europe, a continent that sorely needs it!

These insulting and, at the same time, amusing comments overlook a significant truth about Europe.   Religion is involved.   Let me elaborate.

COMING OUT OF A CULT

Leaving the EU increasingly resembles coming out of a cult.   Independent thinking is discouraged and blind obedience is expected.   Members are deceived about its history.   The finances are strictly controlled by the people at the top, who divert a significant amount of donations to take care of themselves.   After leaving, there will be a period of meaninglessness; and withdrawal symptoms will take some years to work through.

The EU Treaty allows people to leave, in exactly the way Britain has left.   So why are the British being treated this way?   Because if they are a success, others may want to leave as well and the cult would lose members as well as financial support.

It’s not just Juncker and Tusk who have benefitted from largesse. Others have, too, including some prominent British officials.  Veteran British socialists, Neil and Glynis Kinnock received millions of pounds when they were EU officials.   Others have gotten fat on the EU “gravy train,” as it’s often called.

HISTORICAL COMPARISON

After the Protestant Reformation in the early part of the sixteenth century, the Church of Rome was in a panic.   Rather than reform the corrupt practices of the church, it clamped down.   The “counter-reformation” led to an incredible persecution of non-Catholics.   Of great concern was the preservation of the influence and material wealth of the church.  

“(The counter-reformation) was the period of Catholic resurgence that was initiated in response to the Protestant Reformation.   It began with the Council of Trent (1545–1563) and ended with the 1781 Patent of Toleration.   Initiated to preserve the power, influence and material wealth enjoyed by the Catholic Church and to present a theological and material challenge to Reformation, the Counter-Reformation was a comprehensive effort . . . ” (Wikipedia: counter-reformation).

History is repeating itself.   As authoritarianism is very much a part of Europe’s DNA, so the EU is reacting to Brexit with its authoritarian instincts.

At stake are the inflated salaries of top EU officials.   Jean Claude Juncker, the President of the EU Commission, is paid over $31,000 a month.   In addition, he receives generous allowances to cover travel and other expenses.   So it’s very similar to the counter-reformation, with the desire “to protect the influence and wealth enjoyed by the church.”   We may see the Inquisition and the expulsion of Brits yet ahead.   (Hundreds of thousands of Protestants were expelled in the counter-reformation!)

This is the reason Britain turned its back on Europe in the first place, rejecting the authority of the Church of Rome.  In 1534 King Henry VIII declared himself Supreme Head of the Church of England, thereby rejecting papal authority.

England was effectively cut off from Europe.   One of the first decisions Henry made was to legalize the Bible, which had been suppressed for over a thousand years by Rome.

That same Bible tells us a little about Europe’s future.   After the upheaval that is taking place right now, there is to be a union of ten nations.   We know it’s still ahead as it remains there until the return of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 17:12-14 says:  “And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.  These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.  These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.”

Europe and religion are inseparable, then, now and in the future.

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EU – US Trade War

“As nearly 100m Americans watched Tom Brady, the veteran quarterback of the New England Patriots, lift another Super Bowl trophy last Sunday, many will have noticed that Mercedes-Benz was the sponsor of the gleaming new stadium in Atlanta where the game was played.

“The German carmaker, owned by Daimler, recently moved its US headquarters to the state of Georgia from New Jersey, cementing its commitment to the south-eastern United States, where it already owns a big manufacturing plant in Alabama.

“But even as the Mercedes-Benz logo flew high over the biggest American football match of the year, it and many other foreign carmakers operating in the US worry that their love for doing business stateside might be unrequited.

“The US commerce department is due to issue a report by February 17 declaring whether it believes automotive imports constitute a threat to US national security.   Such a finding would inflame an already tense trade relationship between the US and Europe.   After the conclusions are published, Donald Trump will have 90 days to decide whether to follow up by imposing tariffs on imports of cars and car parts.   That prospect has filled European policymakers in Brussels and beyond with dread.

“The EU has been adamant that it would react strongly to such a move, stopping budding trade negotiations with Washington and retaliating with its own tariffs on a list of US goods. ”  (James Politi, Financial Times, 2/8)

GLOBAL OUTLOOK BLEAK FOR 2019

There have been an increasing number of articles warning about the global economy.   The latest predicts a depression worse than the Great Depression.   None are specific, in terms of “when” but all say the signs are there.

The most common problem cited is debt.   Governmental debt is already over $22 trillion in the US.   This is the highest amount any country in history has ever owed, so it’s difficult to predict what will happen.   In addition, there’s also corporate and private debt.   The figures given do not include mortgage debt, which is also extremely high.   Nor do they include the annual commitments for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other government programs, the so-called entitlements.

The 2008 financial crash started as a mortgage failure.   So did the 1873 crash.   It began in Austria-Hungary and spread around the world.   This particular crash was known as The Great Depression, more than fifty years before the depression of the thirties.   It would be a mistake to think it cannot happen again.

In fact, depressions have been a regular feature in America’s history.   There have been as many as 47 recessions and depressions since independence.   After the end of the Revolutionary War, there was a depression, in which the economy slumped by 50%.   The depression of 1873 lasted 25 years, on and off.   Unemployment was at 50% in the 1896 election, resulting in the highest turnout ever – a full 80% of voters participated that year.

Not every year saw the economy in deep depression.   It came in three waves.   It finally ended with the Spanish-American War, which got the economy moving again.

PANIC OF 1873

The 1873 depression in the US started with the collapse of Jay Cooke & Co., then a major component of the American banking establishment.   Contributory failures were the post-Civil War inflation, rampant speculative investment and losses in the Chicago and Boston fires (1871 & 1872).   Bank reserves plummeted in the first two months from $50 million to $17 million.

“The failure of the Jay Cooke bank, followed quickly by that of Henry Clews, set off a chain reaction of bank failures and temporarily closed the New York stock market.   Factories began to lay off workers as the United States slipped into depression.   The effects of the panic were quickly felt in New York, and more slowly in Chicago, Virginia City, Nevada (where silver mining was active), and San Francisco.

“The New York Stock Exchange closed for ten days starting 20 September.    By November 1873 some 55 of the nation’s railroads had failed, and another 60 went bankrupt by the first anniversary of the crisis.    Construction of new rail lines, formerly one of the backbones of the economy, plummeted from 7,500 miles (12,070 km) of track in 1872 to just 1,600 miles (2,575 km) in 1875.    18,000 businesses failed between 1873 and 1875.    Unemployment peaked in 1878 at 8.25%.    Building construction was halted, wages were cut, real estate values fell and corporate profits vanished. ”  (Panic of 1873, Wikipedia)

GRUNDERKRACH

I single out the 1873 depression because of the similarities in the global situation today.   The depression in German speaking countries is known as the Grunderkrach, or Founders Crash.   When Germany was united following the Franco-Prussian war, a lot of money flowed into the country, mostly from French war reparations. Loans were then made, mostly for mortgages.   When people couldn’t pay them, the banking system collapsed.   This spread to the US and Britain.   It was the beginning of the end of Britain’s global supremacy.

The Great Recession of 2008 began as a housing crisis.   It actually began two years earlier when housing prices started falling.   For years previously house prices had been rising fast.   Millions of people bought homes, homes they could not afford.   The banks loaned to people who should not have had loans.   It was a recipe for disaster.

The same thing is happening again.   Bad loans and speculative investments are pervasive.   Student loans are so high they could be the cause of a collapse by themselves.   Government debt is at an all-time high as are corporate debt and consumer, non-mortgage debt (credit cards).

I am reminded of what the late President of France, Charles de Gaulle, said over 50 years ago.   He did not want Britain to join the EU (he had incredible foresight!).   He dismissed the US and the UK as “the Anglo Saxon debtor nations.”   The British-American economic systems have been built on massive debt.   It works well . . . for a while!   Eventually, there comes the day of reckoning.

That may be this year.

We should never have borrowed so much money, especially after the Crash of 2008.   Often it’s been encouraged by government, when it makes little sense.   Social engineering has boosted the value of homes and increased the number of loans (more profits).   A government decree made under the last administration was that all neighborhoods should be 25% minority; the only way to achieve that was to give 100% loans to people who had never owned a house. Additionally, 100% loans have been made to immigrants, who have had little time to learn how the economy works in the US.

Remember, at stake here is America’s global leadership role.   A serious set-back for the economy would weaken the US.

It’s interesting here to note that the euro is set up very differently, with government borrowing limited to 3%.   The euro has its own problems, but could emerge as the greater currency in the event of a global depression.  It’s already used by more people than the US dollar.

Debt can mean the borrower ends up in servitude to the lender. Note the following warning from scripture:   Proverbs 22:7 7  “The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender.”

This is a far cry from the promised blessings for obedience:

Deuteronomy 15:6 says:  “For the Lord your God will bless you just as He promised you; you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow; you shall reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over you.”

A second cause of financial concern is impending TRADE WARS.   These will slow down the global economy.   Once again, uncertainty is an issue here.

A third reason the global economy is at risk is BREXIT, now less than two months away.   This could seriously affect inter-European trade.

A fourth factor, increasingly seen, is the economic Rule of Inequality. This is an economic law that predicts the likelihood of revolution based on the gap between the rich and the poor in any country. China is very concerned about this.   There is only one country with a greater gap and that’s the US.   Trump’s election was our “revolution” – if he is not able to deliver, there will be trouble ahead.

There are many countries around the world with a similar gap. France is going through weekly demonstrations about the rising gap between rich and poor; Venezuela and Zimbabwe are on the brink of revolution.

Other factors to watch are China’s slowdown and even the weather. Both can impact economies.

The above are all the predictables.   There may be other factors, unpredicatables, such as war, that can add to economic woes.

It remains to be seen.   But the warnings are there.   The only question is “When?”

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RUSSIA & CHINA POSE BIGGEST THREATS TO US

“Former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski warned in 1997 that the greatest long-term threat to US interests would be a “grand coalition” of China and Russia, ‘”united not by ideology but by complementary grievances.”   This coalition “would be reminiscent in scale and scope of the challenge once posed by the Sino-Soviet bloc, though this time China would likely be the leader and Russia the follower.”

Nobody listened back then, but now it’s becoming clear that the two countries are cooperating to deal with what each perceives as the American threat.   The latest development is in Venezuela, where they are supporting President Maduro and condemning the US for backing the “usurper,” Juan Guaido.

In the past, the US has thought a Sino-Russian entente outlandish. Only now it’s happening.   As Mr. Brzezinski warned, it’s not that they have a lot in common, but rather they share a common enemy.

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UK TO CRASH OUT OF THE EU

Now, nothing can stop Brexit from happening.   Even many supporters of remaining in the EU see that.   The way Europe has treated the UK will make it impossible to avoid a hard Brexit.   (This assumes no change of heart in the EU.)

The facts are that British incompetence has led to Europe just wanting to get it over with.   Looking back on almost 50 years of membership there is a realization that Britain has never been a good fit, either, so why try to keep the British in?

A third reason is NATO.   Most of the other European countries sense that the US is pulling out of NATO, that it doesn’t want the responsibility or cost of defending the other members.   This is why Europe is trying to put together its own military force.   Britain, more pro-American, would only get in the way of this.

So, expect a full Brexit on March 29th.

This will not prevent Mrs. May running around Europe like a chicken with its head cut-off!

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BOOK QUOTE

“From July 1780 until the end of the year, the Catawba River Valley and the adjacent northern districts were the scenes of some of the most brutal warfare ever fought in what is now the United States.   It was a civil war, with all its horrors, as neighbors and families turned on one another with a vengeance.”   (page 140, Partisans and Redcoats, by Walter Edgar, 2001)

END OF THE UK?

Fourteen years ago I gave a sermon in England on Bible prophecy as it relates to the United Kingdom.   I speculated that eventually the United Kingdom would be whittled down to England, just England.

My reasoning was simple.   As the “multitude of nations” (Genesis 48:19) was a blessing, and the strength of Ephraim was to be that multitude of nations, so, in accordance with Deuteronomy 28, as the people turned away from God, they would lose the multitude of nations, until they were down to what England was during the time of Elizabeth I, just England.

It all tied In with the Protestant Reformation.   The zeal for independence from Rome and the need for trade sent England around the world in search of markets.   These trading posts were the origin of the British Empire, the empire “upon which the sun never set.”

It was not just mercantile considerations.   After the legalization of the Bible in 1537 (it had been banned under the Church of Rome), there was an enthusiasm for God’s Word that encouraged believers to take it around the world.   King Henry VIII was on the throne at the time the Bible became available.   In 1546 he admonished the people on their enthusiasm, thinking it improper for people to read it in the pubs.

Almost five centuries later, the reading of it anywhere would be beneficial.   The  fact is that the more people sin, the more the nation will suffer.   This applies to all nations, but especially to the descendants of ancient Israel.   And few people in England today know what sin is.

CONTRASTING TWO FUNERALS

In “The Abolition of Britain,” Peter Hitchens writes about this.   He shows how much England changed between the funerals of Sir Winston Churchill on 30th January 1965; and the funeral of Princess Diana on 6th September, 1997.

“The final days of imperial Britain are bracketed – appropriately enough – by the funerals of an old man and of a beautiful young woman.   The first, of Sir Winston Churchill, reached into a past of grandeur and certainty, while the second, of Diana, Princess of Wales, foreshadowed a future of doubt and decline.   The two events were different in every possible way, except that both were unmistakably British.   The dead warrior was almost ninety, full of years and ready to die.   He represented the virtues of courage, fortitude and endurance, was picturesque rather than glamorous, and his death was expected.   The lost princess was snatched from life in the midst of youth, beauty and glamour.   Her disputed virtues were founded on suffering (real or imagined) and appealed more to the outcasts and the wounded than to the dutiful plain heart of England.”   (“The Abolition of Britain,” by Peter Hitchens, 1999, pages 1 & 2).

Churchill’s funeral was the last hurrah of Imperial Britain.   The hundreds of thousands who lined the streets were deferential, tipping their hats when the cortege went by.   They were a generation of God-fearing people who believed that the British Empire had been the greatest empire in history, that the Queen was chosen by God, that their system of government was the best in the world.   They respected the royal family.   They even respected their politicians, even though they did not agree with them.   In a world of turmoil, there was civil order, something to be proud of.   They were a confident people, self-assured and independent.

Over the next 32 years, it all changed.

Now, they lead the world in the number of websites devoted to atheism.   They are a nation of emotional basket cases rather like Diana herself.   They are sexually immoral, a people with no moral compass and no backbone, either.   Today, in parliament, there’s hardly a real man amongst them.   They cower before the European Union, afraid to make any decision.   Afraid to leave, afraid to stay – leaderless.   They have forgotten their friends, family, really, the Old Dominions, turning their backs on them in pursuit of a European chimera.

Worst of all, they do not realize any of this.

In that 32-year period the country changed.   Quite literally, in fact, as many of the people who live there now are not even of British descent.

“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.”   (Hosea 7:8-10)

This describes Britain today.

UK TO BREAK UP?

The challenges continue to mount.   The official name of the country is the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”   But divided Ireland presents a real problem for the UK in its negotiations with the EU.   Nobody wants a “hard” border with customs and passport controls.   But this cannot be avoided when the UK leaves the EU. The EU is not cooperating with Britain over this, giving the UK a real headache.   A hard border could mean a return to all the fighting of previous decades.   A soft border is only possible if Ireland unites, which means Northern Ireland leaving the United Kingdom.   The majority in Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU.   It would also mean the fall of the Conservative government as they rely on the votes of the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party).

Northern Ireland dropping out of the UK means the United Kingdom would have to change its name to Great Britain, the name given to the country when Scotland and England merged.

In Scotland, as well, the majority voted to remain in the United Kingdom.   If Northern Ireland leaves the UK, the Scots are more likely to follow.   So then it will just be England.

It’s logical.   Seventy years ago, the British still had the biggest empire in history.   Gradually, they gave it all away.   Would anybody now be shocked if the United Kingdom ceased to exist?   If Ireland and Scotland were given away?

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Footnote:   Somebody has written and asked if I think the election of Donald Trump will delay the prophesied end time events?   Quite the contrary.   The election of Donald Trump has turned the world upside down, with alliances broken and trading systems overturned.   The growing separation between Europe and America alone speeds up prophetic events.

US AND UK OUT OF COMMISSION

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

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

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

What will this mean?

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AMERICAN WITHDRAWAL FROM MIDDLE EAST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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TRUMP THREAT TO ISRAEL

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

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

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

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US-EUROPEAN TRADE WAR

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

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

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

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

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

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BREXIT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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LA PUBLIC SCHOOLS STRIKE

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

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

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

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

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

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And finally . . .

 

RASHIDA TLAIB

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

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

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

Ahh, but Muslims are new to this country.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WAS JEFFERSON A MUSLIM?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He can even help you clean up your language!

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ISLAMIC PARTY OF ONTARIO

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

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

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

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

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

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SAUDI JOURNALIST WRITES:

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

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

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

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

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

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Stretched Thin

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

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

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FROM THE EURO TO BREXIT

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

JAMESTOWN AND IDENTITY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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JAMESTOWN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A GOOD YEAR FOR ISRAEL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, 2018 was a good year for Israel.

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NEW US CONGRESS HAS A RECORD NUMBER OF WOMEN

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

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

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

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

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

And this new Congress is set to increase them further.

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

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