Peter Mandelson

Peter Mandelson was one of the architects of “New Labour,” that helped lead the British Labour Party to a landslide victory in 1997, following almost twenty years of Conservative Party rule.  Mr. Mandelson served under both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, the last two Labour (socialist) prime ministers.  Mr. Mandelson became a member of the British House of Lords in 2008.

He has now made a stunning confession – that, under Labour, the British government brought 2.2 million immigrants into the country in a deliberate attempt to force diversity on the British people.  He admits that this move has brought massive unemployment upon working class Britons, Labour’s traditional supporters.  Not only that, but the social cohesion of many parts of already over-populated Britain has been threatened by this mistaken policy.   (Realize that 2.2 million in the UK is the equivalent of 11 million in the US.  However, the impact is greater in Britain, which has a much higher population density.)

So, why then did the Labour government do what it did?

It seems that there was a deliberate policy of forcing Britain to become multicultural.

Again, why would they do that?

Partly for votes – most of the immigrants would vote for Labour.

But, also, because of their own contempt for the nation they grew up in.  Their hatred of England and English ways led them to a deliberate policy of fundamentally changing the make-up of Britain and the British people.

One of the immediate consequences of this is unemployment amongst working class whites.  Quoted in the British Daily Mail, Lord Mandelson admits that Britain had almost full employment in 1997 when his party took over governance of the country.  This is now a thing of the past.

Ironically, multiculturalism will likely be one of the first casualties of rising unemployment as people turn against those they feel have deprived them of jobs!



Syria-3770337          Bashar_al-Assad_(cropped)

The death toll now stands at well over 100,000.  The numbers of refugees runs into the millions as people flee the carnage in their homeland.  The suffering seems endless with no end in sight.  Now the Russians are helping to prolong the civil war, which has gone on for over two years.

So, why doesn’t the West help bring it to an end?  Western countries could easily provide the military hardware that would enable the rebels to gain power in Syria.  A relatively minor role by France and Britain helped bring down President Gaddafi in Libya.

But there’s a catch, or two, or five, or more . . .

For a start, western countries are tired of endless wars in the Middle East.  After years of fighting in Iraq, conflict continues daily in that country.  It’s the same in Afghanistan, where Afghan allies, trained by western troops, regularly turn on the westerners who trained them, killing them.

Then there’s the high cost, an ever-mounting bill that has contributed greatly to current financial problems.

Thirdly, there’s al-Qaeda.  The terrorist movement is involved in helping to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad.  There’s no doubt that Assad is a bloody dictator and will stop at nothing, including the use of chemical weapons, to keep himself and his cohorts in power.  But it complicates things when al-Qaeda is the main opposition.  That makes it very difficult for western countries to get involved.

But still, the majority in Syria clearly wants Assad out, which could easily be accomplished in a democracy.  But Syria is not a democracy.  They also have a similar problem to Iraq, but it’s the exact opposite.  In Syria, the majority are Sunnis, while the ruling elite are Alawites, an offshoot of Shia Islam.  In Iraq, the Sunnis ruled over the majority Shia under Saddam.  Now, following a western style election forced on them, the Shiites are in control and the Sunnis don’t like that, hence the daily bombs that kill and maim hundreds of people.  The country seems headed for a civil war.

The Sunni-Shiite conflict is beyond western comprehension.  Maybe it’s best just to stay out of it.  After all, in hindsight, western intervention in Iraq led to the overthrow of a Sunni government that was not very religious and has now been replaced by a predominantly Shiite government, which has made our old enemy Iran the dominant power in the region.  Iran’s sphere of influence now extends from Afghanistan, through Iran and Iraq, to Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon – an arc that stretches from Afghanistan to the Mediterranean.  Why didn’t we think of that before we got involved?

Now, if we help overthrow Assad in Syria, al-Qaeda will likely take over.  That would weaken Iran but strengthen the terrorist movement that was behind 9/11.  It would exacerbate the Sunni-Shiite divide and who knows what that would lead to?

So the dilemma goes on.

Where does all this leave Israel?  With Syria in turmoil, it’s not likely to be attacked from there.  Meanwhile, Jordan and Egypt have got plenty of  domestic problems.  There’s really only Hezbollah to worry about.  Oh, and Iran with those nuclear weapons.

But if the Israelis or the Americans weaken Iran, then Sunni Islam is strengthened and that means al-Qaeda again and that means more terrorism and who knows what else?

And now Russia is giving the Syrian government more weaponry with which to defeat the rebels.  The Russians can’t afford to see their ally Assad overthrown.  The Iranians don’t want to lose him either.  This triple entente between the three countries is rather reminiscent of the Cold War, supposedly ended two decades ago.  When Israel recently sent planes into Syria on a bombing mission, Israeli PM Netanyahu was immediately summonsed to Moscow, where he was undoubtedly warned to stay out of the Syrian conflict.

It’s all so complicated, there’s no wonder that our television news programs don’t try to explain it.  Besides, none of our journalists are likely to understand the complexities of this religious divide.  At least they have the sense to stay out of it.  Perhaps Washington, London, Paris, and Moscow could follow their example?



“The surge in oil production in the US and Canada and shrinking oil consumption in the developed world is transforming the global oil market.

“The threat of chronic oil shortages is all but gone, US dependence on Middle Eastern oil will continue to dwindle, and oil will increasingly flow to the developing economies of Asia, according to a five-year outlook published Tuesday by the International Energy Agency.”

(“US Oil production alters market”, by Jonathan Fahey, Lansing State Journal, 17th May)


Public library shelves

We live in Delta Township, which borders Lansing, the state capital of Michigan.

There are a number of public libraries in the Greater Lansing area.  Many of them are connected to the main library in downtown Lansing.  However, some libraries are independent.  That includes ours, and the one in East Lansing, the home of Michigan State University.

For many years, I was a member of the East Lansing Library, which had the best selection of books out of all the libraries.  I terminated my membership when they decided to charge non-residents the sum of $75 per year for using their facility.

Our library in Delta Township has the best building of all the libraries in the area.  It was opened about four years ago and is spacious with lots of natural light.

It’s free to residents.  Even though the book selection is not as good as East Lansing, it is able to borrow books upon request from any library in Michigan through what is known as Mel-Cat.

In the last few months, I have tried not to buy any new books, as I tend to accumulate too many.  Instead, I borrow from the local library or request books from other libraries through the local library.  Only twice in six months have I been unable to get a book I wanted from one of the other libraries; and one of those times the local library bought the $35 book for me, which I was then able to read free of charge.

Borrowing books helps in other ways, too.  Typically, you have three weeks to read a book.  That puts the pressure on to finish a 600-page history book ASAP.  Two weeks ago I borrowed “Europe:  the Struggle for Supremacy from 1453” by Brendan Simms, a 560 page thorough account of European history and the ups and downs of the German question.  As somebody else also wanted it, I was given two weeks to read it, which works out at over 40 pages a day.

At the same time I tried to borrow “German Europe” by Ulrich Beck, which is not yet available in any Michigan library.  It is available on Amazon but I will not yield to temptation and buy it new!

The two books really should be read together and were reviewed together in a recent issue of “The Economist.”

So far, there is no demand for Beck’s book in Michigan, which is interesting in itself.  Germany has emerged under Chancellor Angela Merkel as the dominant European power.  As Europe is the world’s biggest single market and Germany the world’s biggest single exporting nation, you would expect there to be an increased interest in the country.

(While walking our grandchildren down our street here in Lansing, I noticed a van in a driveway with “German Language Service, Lansing” on the side.  Clearly, there is increased trade between Germany and Michigan.  When I Googled the service, I learned they translate and offer German language classes.)

The library is not just a source of books.  It also offers free DVD’s, which can be checked out for a week at no charge (there is a small charge for new releases).  Again, they can get DVD’s from other libraries if you request one.  These DVD’s include a lot of really good documentaries, travel films, fitness DVD’s and children’s films.  Our grandchildren love to check out a couple of children’s films when we go to the library.

We can also borrow books-on-tape (or CD).

There are a number of newspapers available for reading at the library.  These include the “Wall Street Journal”, the “Chicago Tribune” and the “Lansing State Journal.”

There’s a great selection of magazines available alongside the papers.  Sadly, they do not offer any foreign magazines, like “The Economist.”

If you want somewhere quiet to work away from home, private study rooms are available.  Computers are available for use, or you can bring your own.

They also offer regularly scheduled activities for young children, including a “Baby Time” for two-year-olds.  The children get to sing along with the “teacher” and the accompanying parents; afterwards they can play together.

Once a month, they have a free movie afternoon with popcorn for families.

Libraries have changed a lot since I was a child.  Back then you went to the library to borrow books and records (remember records?).  There wasn’t anything else available.

Today, there’s plenty available at and through your local library.  No matter what your income, everything is free (for local residents).  It all comes out of our local taxes.

Be sure to check out your library and make good use of what’s offered there.



“COULD BANKRUPTCY LIE AHEAD?”  (under a panoramic view of Detroit and the announcement that “Detroit is broke”)

“The first report by Detroit’s emergency manager declares that the city is broke and at risk of running completely out of money — a financial meltdown that could mean employees don’t receive paychecks, retirees lose their pensions and residents endure even deeper cuts in municipal services.  If Detroit cannot avert disaster, the only remaining option appears to be bankruptcy . . .

“Kevyn Orr, emergency manager, described the city’s operations as “dysfunctional and wasteful after years of budgetary restrictions, mismanagement, crippling operational practices, and , in some cases, indifference or corruption.”

(Lansing State Journal, May 14th)


My grandkids
My grandkids

I was sitting in the optometrist’s office waiting for my glasses to be repaired, when I realized I was singing the theme tune to “Thomas the Tank Engine.”   Fortunately, I wasn’t too loud but I did feel somewhat embarrassed, so I attempted to explain.

“I have grandchildren,” I began, “and I just spent half an hour watching Thomas with the 16 month old.”

The lady helping me laughed, as did the optician fixing my glasses.  “I know what you mean,” he said.  “I have two girls, aged 5 & 6.  They just love Thomas.”

That led to a conversation on keeping our children (and grandchildren) entertained.

Adding to the challenge is having to do it on a limited budget.

The following day it was cold and raining, so I felt it best not to take Aubren and his brother for their daily walk.  Aubren still wanted to do something with Grandpa, so I sat him next to me, opened up my laptop and did a search on “youtube” for nursery rhymes and old cartoon theme tunes.  He just loved it when I sang the lyrics to about a dozen nursery rhymes, “The Flintstones,” “Top Cat” and “Gummi Bears.”

The latter was his favorite, so, naturally, I had to play it half a dozen times.  I even played it in French, Swedish and Hungarian, all of which are on “YouTube.”   It kept him occupied for an hour.

It cost nothing, except maybe a few cents for electricity.

His favorite pastime on my lap is playing with my watch.  He reaches out and pulls it off my wrist, then plays with it for almost an hour.   My cell phone will only keep him busy for five minutes, so old technology works best!

When the weather is fine, I take him to the park.  He loves the swings but isn’t too keen on the slides yet.  All of this is free.

If the weather is not too good, I will walk him to the store, which gives him fresh air for a while, but then some warmth indoors.  Again, it’s all free.

There are so many things you can do with grandchildren that cost next to nothing.

Once a week, I take the older grandchildren to the library.  The library hosts all kinds of activities for young children.  They can play, listen to stories, sing along, make things – all with other children in the same age group.

I also allow both girls to check out a free movie and a couple of books to read at home.

Once a month I take them into the basement at the library, where the “Friends of the Library” sell used books for a dollar or less.  I let them choose one they can keep.

The park also appeals to the older children and they are always happy to have their younger cousins come along.  When the four grandchildren in Indianapolis are here, they can all join us.  We have four parks close by, each one with its own unique attractions.

Occasionally, I take the older girls to see a movie in a neighboring town, which charges only $2 for admission.  There’s a new MacDonald’s near the theatre with a shiny big red sports car in the children’s play area.   Although you don’t have to buy food there, I always treat the girls to something, even if it’s only an ice cream from the dollar menu.   There’s plenty of options to a “Happy Meal,” which will save you money and end the accumulation of trashy “free gifts” that are inside every “Happy Meal”!

When the weather improves (if?), I intend to take them down to the River Walk, which should tire them out (me, too!).   We already have a one-year pass to the zoo, $50 for two adults and unlimited children.  It’s a good deal.  They even give a 10% discount on all sales, including ice cream.  The zoo pass also gives discounts at other area zoos.

The museum is also free and educates the children on Michigan, its history, topography, flora and fauna.

I intend to take them to the City Market one of these days, another freebie.

Every summer, I take the older girls to the county fair.   I usually budget $50 for the day.   They have one weekday with unlimited rides for $12 each child for the day, so that’s the day we go.   By going early, we can take advantage of free admission and can see the farm animals without the crowds.   Grandparents should be warned – some of those rides can soon make you dizzy and feel sick!  It’s best to ask a parent to join you later to take the children on those.

Every single one of these activities is bonding time with your grandchildren, helping to build relationships that will last the rest of your lifetime – and the rest of theirs.  I can still remember a day trip I took with my grandfather back in 1968.  I’m thankful he took the time to take me somewhere, especially as he died not long afterwards.

There are so many things to do with grandchildren, even on a limited budget.

Love, attention and time are the three greatest gifts you can give to your grandchildren.  Thankfully, not one of them costs money!

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