Tag Archives: Aleppo

US V CHINA:  WHO’S WINNING?

(Photo credit: (The Sunday Guardian Live)

Anyone with a pulse and a smartphone probably knows by now that the US-China rivalry is heating up these days, and fast.  (If you know anyone who doesn’t, get them a Signal subscription.)

Let’s recap the latest drama between the world’s two largest economies.  In tech, after squeezing Huawei over 5G, US President Donald Trump now wants to ban TikTok and WeChat. Harsh words — backed up by sanctions — are still flying over China’s crackdown on Hong Kong and its repression of the Uighurs.   The US has also waded into the South China Sea dispute, closed China’s consulate in Houston, and stirred up a hornet’s nest by dispatching the highest-ranking official to visit Taiwan in more than 40 years.

Why is this all happening?   Because each side, in its own mind, is winning.

Trump’s big swipes at China are good electoral politics:   Americans’ distrust of China is at an all-time high, and one of the (very) few things that Democrats and Republicans agree on these days.  What’s more, Democrats can’t really push back on Trump’s China approach now that the US intelligence community has said it believes Beijing prefers a Biden victory in November.

For Beijing, the US undermining Chinese tech companies and slapping sanctions on Chinese officials over “internal” matters feeds President Xi Jinping’s nationalist narrative that Washington is preventing China from taking its rightful place as a rising global power.   It also explains why Beijing wants to break the (US-dominated) internet, and assert its dominance over all territories where China’s rule is contested — including Taiwan.

However, there’s one area they seem unlikely to mess with for now.  Phase I of the US-China trade deal signed in January was hardly a big win for either side, but enough to pause a rapidly escalating trade war that was hurting both US and Chinese businesses (and consumers).  (Signal, 8/11/2020)

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NOT SO UNITED KINGDOM

Post-Brexit, United Kingdom is not so united
,  Six months after Britain broke away from the European Union, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is trying to stop the breakaway of restive parts of the U.K.
  On Friday, Mr. Johnson sent his popular Treasury chief, Rishi Sunak, to Scotland, to tamp down nationalist sentiment.  There, Mr. Sunak noted that Scottish firms would get 2 billion pounds ($2.6 billion) in loans to survive the lockdown.  Another top minister, Michael Gove, visited Northern Ireland with nearly $500 million in aid to help frustrated companies deal with new checks on shipped goods.  Experts have long predicted that Brexit would strengthen the forces pulling apart the U.K.   But in Scotland, in particular, the pandemic has accelerated those forces.  In an average of recent polls, 52.5 percent of people said they would vote for Scottish independence — a swing from the 2014 referendum, when 55.3 percent of Scots voted to stay in the U.K.   What it means:   This is the first time the polls have consistently shown a majority for breaking away, one polling expert said.  Pro-independence feelings have hardened in Scotland during the pandemic because many people there believe that Scotland has done a better job managing the crisis than neighboring England has.  Case study:   The implications of leaving the bloc are dawning on some of those in Mersham, an area close to Britain’s busiest port where support for Brexit was strong.   A 27-acre parking lot is being built to handle trucks amid fears that new trade rules will slow freight movement.  (New York Times, 10 Aug 2020)

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ZIMBABWE’S CONTINUING ECONOMIC CHAOS

Forgive Zimbabweans for not celebrating “Heroes’ Day” today.  The annual commemoration of those who died fighting against white rule comes at a time of great suffering.  The value of the local currency has plummeted against the American dollar.   Inflation is running at more than 700%.   The World Food Programme reckons that 60% of Zimbabweans will soon struggle to get enough to eat. The ruling party, Zanu-PF, blames covid-19.   The truth is that it has run the country into the ground.   After toppling Robert Mugabe in a coup in late 2017, Emmerson Mnangagwa and his backers in the military have behaved much as he did, manipulating the currency and responding to unrest with repression.   In recent weeks journalists and opposition figures have been arrested and allegedly tortured.   But as the economy spirals out of control, how long can Mr. Mnangagwa hold on?   The veteran of the independence wars may see himself as a hero. Zimbabweans disagree.   (The Economist,  8/10/2020)

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Banks braced as pandemic poses biggest test since financial crisis | Provisions for loan losses are at the highest in a decade as lenders prepare for large-scale company bankruptcies             
(© Financial Times UK, 10 Aug 2020)                                                                    by Stephen Morris and Owen Walker in London and Laura Noonan in Dublin

During the depths of the coronavirus crisis in Europe in late March, Sergio Ermotti remembers sitting in his home study in Lugano, reflecting on the latest financial meltdown to engulf his career as a banker.  “If I go through my last eight years, we had a lot of mini-earthquakes, but never of the magnitude of what we are seeing now,” the 60-year-old UBS chief executive says.  “This is a crisis that is driven by fear in a different way . . . this time it’s not just about people losing their assets or savings, it’s about their life, it’s about their families.  It’s so profound, so different.”   Switzerland’s largest bank is weathering the crisis relatively well, considering its share price is down only 10 per cent this year, a more modest fall than any other global lender apart from Wall Street’s Morgan Stanley.

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 BARR ON URBAN GUERILLA WARFARE

  • Attorney General William Barr revealed that the United States is under attack, facing a new form of “urban guerilla warfare.”
  • Barr on Fox News’ “Life, Liberty & Levin” on Sunday said that the left’s “lust for power” was the driving force behind this new anti-American assault.
  • He added that the media’s false characterization of the “Black Lives Matter” organization as a fed-up activist group was misleading the American people and leaving them vulnerable to what is actually a group of “Bolsheviks” focused on taking over the country and turning it into a communist run country.
  • Barr tore into the media for selling a “lie” to the American people in their horrifically biased coverage of the civil unrest caused by these two dangerous groups. (Lifeandlibertynews)

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FROM FRANCE:

  • “We only love what hates us, anything that destroys us is seen as great.  There is a desire to destroy truth, history . . .  We no longer teach the history of France and we no longer say what our civilization has accomplished.   We only talk about our civilization to disparage it.” — Michel Onfray, Le Salon Beige, July 30, 2020 and YouTube, July 17, 2020.
  • “France is undergoing reverse colonization.   Populations coming mainly from countries formerly colonized by France have settled in France without any intention of integrating.  Most of them live in neighborhoods where the laws of Islam now reign and where imams spread hatred of France . . .   And in a gesture of submission, the French authorities say that hatred does not emanate from those who kill, but from those who want to react and say that we must put an end to assaults and murders. It is a suicidal attitude.”   — Éric Zemmour, YouTube, November 22, 2016   (Guy Milliere, Gatestone, 8/9)

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THE NEED FOR A MUTUAL DEFENSE TREATY FOR ISRAEL

“Although the relationship between Israel and the United States has many of the characteristics of a formal alliance – intelligence sharing, regular joint exercises, prepositioned weapons and so forth – the two countries have opted not to sign a traditional mutual defense pact because of Israel’s determination to defend itself by itself and maintain freedom of action in conducting military operations, and because of American reluctance to be dragged into Middle East conflicts.”

However, according to Makovsky, the revival of Iran’s nuclear program and the growing capabilities of its proxies mean Israeli deterrence alone may be insufficient to stave off a regional military conflagration, particularly given “the trend in America towards a retrenchment in the Middle East.”   Hezbollah’s arsenal of an estimated 130,000 rockets and missiles is vastly superior quantitatively and qualitatively to its stockpile the last time it fought an all-out war with Israel in 2006.  “Unless there’s a regime collapse in Iran, I think we’re heading at some point to a major war between Israel and Iran and Hezbollah.”   (Gary C. Gambill, Middle East Forum, 8/10/2020)

Iran Has 125 Outposts and Bases in Syria – Dean Shmuel Elmas (Israel Hayom) —  Iran has 125 outposts of its Revolutionary Guards Corps and pro-Iranian militias in Syria, the Turkish research institute Jusoor has revealed.

The Iranians have set up 37 military locations in the Deraa governorate in southwestern Syria, not far from Israel.

There are another 22 Iranian outposts in and around Damascus, 15 in Aleppo, and another 5 each in the Quneitra and al-Suwayda governorates in southwestern Syria.

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Fatah, PLO Are Planning a Third Intifada – Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)  —  “A popular uprising that will result in a comprehensive intifada” is being planned by Fatah, the PLO, and other Palestinian groups, according to a statement they issued on July 28.  Asked by the PA TV host if this would be a “peaceful” and “non-violent intifada,” PLO Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Yusuf answered in the negative.

Former Israeli Defense Minister:  Hizbullah Responsible for Beirut Blast – Neta Bar (Israel Hayom) —  A Hizbullah weapons depot that caught fire led to the explosion of the ammonium nitrate stored in Beirut port, former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told the Saudi outlet Elaph on Friday.

Pro-ISIS Media Center Urges Muslim In The West To Set Forests, Factories, Agricultural Fields, And Buildings On Fire  (MEMRI, August 2020)

Friday Sermon In Bojnurd, Iran By Abolghasem Yaghoubi:   Pork Contains A Microbe That Weakens One’s Zeal; Just Look At The Westerners – There Is No Difference Between Men And Women There  (MEMRI 8/9/2020)

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EMPIRE REDUX

Rhodesia had contributed, per head of population, more in both world wars than any part of the British Empire, including the United Kingdom itself.   (“The Rhodesia Syndrome,” Tiberiu Dianu, December 11, 2016)

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TO THE POINT

  • FAILING DEMOCRACIES – Both Lebanon and Belarus claim to be democracies.  The former is very corrupt, as evidenced last week by the massive blast that hit Beirut.  Belarus, the last dictatorship in Europe, had an election at the weekend.  Their president Alexander Lukashenko was returned with 80% of the vote after 26 years in office.   That stretches credulity too far.
  • We’ve just finished watching the new Perry Mason on HBO.   Any resemblance to the old TV series with Raymond Burr is largely coincidental, but not entirely.   The new Perry Mason shows how the “crew” came together:   Perry and Della Street (now a lesbian), Drake (now black), thanks to PC and the intervening 60 years!  There is some nudity in the new series but there is a lot of swearing.  I don’t remember any of either in the earlier 271 episodes.   All eight episodes are just one story, but a very good one with lots of twists.
  • A promising TV series called “Wild Bill” is being shown on TV.   I’m curious.  The series is based around a US police chief who is sent to Lincolnshire, on the east coast of England, where I come from.  Why the English force would need the help of a US cop is beyond me!  (The show is being streamed on Britbox.)
  • The Epoch Times contains some really good movie reviews by Tiffany Brannan, of movies that are quite old.   These words appeared at the end of last week’s article.  “Tiffany Brannan is an 18-year-old opera singer, Hollywood historian, travel writer, film blogger, vintage fashion expert, and ballet writer.  In 2016, she and her sister founded the Pure Entertainment Preservation Society, an organization dedicated to reforming the arts by reinstating the Motion Picture Production Code.”
  • Australians too divided for sustained conflict – Former PM Tony Abbott has raised concerns about Australia’s deteriorating strategic situation saying the nation’s economy is not as strong as it should be nor its citizens as united as they need to be. (Politicom 8/10/2020)
  • Qatari Press:   Reconversion Of Hagia Sophia Into Mosque Is A Historic Step; We Hope To See Prayers At Great Mosque Of Cordoba (Spain)  (MEMRI, 8/8/2020)
  • Britain in recession as PM warns of ‘bumpy months –
    Boris Johnson has said the British economy faces “bumpy months” ahead and has a “long, long way to go” until it sees a return to “economic vitality and health”.   GDP figures announced this morning confirmed that the UK has officially fallen into recession for the first time since the 2008 financial crash.   The Office for National Statistics has announced earlier this week that about 730,000 jobs have been lost since March.
  • Biden names Kamala Harris as running mate — Senator Kamala Harris, the former presidential candidate, has been picked by Joe Biden to be his running mate, making her the first black woman and Asian-American to be selected as vice-presidential nominee. Writing on Twitter, Harris said she was “honored” to join Biden on the Democratic ticket and pledged to “do what it takes to make him our Commander-in-Chief.”   Biden will face President Donald Trump in the election on 3 November.  (The Week, 8/12/2020)
  • The Economist Is Sick — Our local library lets me read  The Economist before anyone else.   Now, in the midst of the virus, there’s a delay of a week as the magazine has to go through quarantine.  If I had my own subscription (about $200) I could read it right away.   Not only that, but I have to pick up my magazine  in the parking lot, without getting out of my car.   I have to have the trunk open so library staff can put it in there without any contact with me.

 

 

 

 

 

RUSSIA AND THE MIDDLE EAST

putin

While US media has been focussed on alleged Russian hacking of the US electoral process, Vladimir Putin’s Russia has strengthened its role in the Middle East.

The morning that America suffered a major setback in the Middle East, American news networks led on two deaths – those of actresses Carrie Fisher and her mother, Debbie Reynolds.   Tragic though these deaths were, developments in the Middle East put America where Great Britain was exactly six decades ago.

Before World War Two, the British Empire was the dominant power in the region.   Britain withdrew from Israel in May of 1948. Immediately, the Jewish nation was invaded by five neighboring Arab nations.   Miraculously, Israel survived. In those early days, it was not helped by the United States.

In 1952, as a direct consequence of defeat against Israel, Egypt’s King Farouk was overthrown by the military.   The new leaders soon seized the Anglo-French Suez Canal.   Together with Israel, these countries invaded Egypt but were soon stopped by US President Eisenhower.   This single event led directly to the dismantling of the British Empire.   In 1958 the pro-British King of Iraq was overthrown.   Britain was losing its remaining influence in the area. The country fought a war against rebels in Aden, withdrawing from the protectorate in 1967.

It was a gradual decline, with one setback after another.   Now, the UK does not play any major role in the Middle East.

Since Britain, America has been the dominant power in the region. During the time of the Soviet Union, the US and the USSR were rivals in the area, with Moscow backing Egypt and Syria.   Later, Egypt switched sides and allied itself with the United States, but Moscow retained its influence in Syria.   Iran was in the US sphere of influence until the Shah was overthrown in 1979.

The region has seen never-ending turmoil since the fall of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire after World War One.   That turmoil shows no sign of ending.

The recent war in Iraq has left a big mess in the region.   At its root is the almost 1,400 year sectarian conflict between the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam. Until the US invasion of Iraq, the country was dominated by Sunni Muslims, even though the majority of people were Shia Muslims (the reverse is the case in Syria).   Following the US backed election in Iraq, the majority Shia now rule the country. This development has altered the religious balance in the region and is causing repercussions everywhere.   ISIS was formed to protect Sunni Muslims from the now dominant Shia.

In Syria, Sunnis have been trying to overthrow the Alawite (Shia) minority regime of President Assad for five years.   Enter Moscow. Russia’s backing of the Syrian president has enabled Assad to win. The US showed a great deal of weakness, refusing to get involved even when the Syrian government crossed the line and used chemical weapons on its own citizens.   Now, after months of fighting in Aleppo, the biggest city of the country, Assad is firmly in power and Russia is sponsoring “peace talks” with the rebel factions in the country.   The US is not invited to the peace talks. Russia now controls Syria.   To accomplish this, the country needs Turkey’s help. The two are pushing for peace in the country. Turkey, the second most powerful military power in NATO, is now working with the Russians to bring peace to the Middle East.

That’s two set-backs for Washington in just a few days.

A third set-back is in Israel.   The outgoing administration in Washington did not veto the latest UN vote against Israel, condemning the country for building new settlements for Jewish settlers in the West Bank.   Friction between the US and the only western style democracy in the region is unsettling, to say the least. This set-back may only be temporary as a new President takes over in the US in just three weeks, but that gives a few days for further negative developments.   Even the British have criticized America’s condemnation of Israel.   The State Department seems set on causing rifts with US allies in the final days of the current Administration.

Keep in mind, too, that Syria borders Israel on the Golan Heights.   What happens in Syria may affect Israel.   Perhaps that’s why Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went to Moscow in June, the fourth time in a year that he sat down with President Putin to discuss the situation in the Middle East.

The tables have been turned once again in the region.   Over sixty years ago, the UK was the dominant power in the region; since then, it’s been the US.   But now Russia is arguably the dominant power in the area.   The Russians are in alliance with the Shi-ite Muslims in Iran and Syria; they are also working with Sunni Turkey, which ruled the whole area prior to 1919.   At the same time, it seems that Israel’s prime minister is more comfortable with Putin than with Obama, with whom he’s had a serious exchange of heated words in recent days.

There’s even a fourth development that puts Russia ahead. Following the hacking scandal, President Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the US; President Putin made it clear that he will not expel any Americans. This is a triumph for Putin in the propaganda war with America.

What lies ahead?   Remember that the Middle East is the primary focus of Bible prophecy with Jerusalem at the epicenter.

In the nineteenth century, there was no indication that the Jews were about to become an independent nation again.  Their period of self-rule ended with the Romans before the time of Christ.  Their rebellion against the Romans in the first century AD led to the Diaspora, a dispersion that scattered the Jewish people throughout the Roman Empire and left them scattered until fairly recently.   Bible prophecy showed that the Jewish nation would be restored and that happened in 1948.

Exactly a century ago, British and Australian forces entered Jerusalem in the continuing war with the Ottoman Turks.   At this point in time, a Jewish nation became possible.   The British were given a mandate to administer Palestine by the League of Nations.   This was an impossible task as Palestinians and Jews clashed repeatedly.   Eventually, the League’s successor, the United Nations, divided the territory up between Jews and Palestinians, the latter never accepting their loss of land.

 

 

BERLIN TERROR ATTACK

A lorry ploughed into wooden booths selling mulled wine and sausages (Photo: REUTERS)
A lorry ploughed into wooden booths selling mulled wine and sausages   (Photo: REUTERS)

For over a decade she’s been called “the most powerful woman in the world”.   In recent weeks, she has received the accolade “Leader of the Free World” as many nations see America turning its back on its international role.

But she may not even be in power one year from now.

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, generously allowed into the country one million asylum seekers in recent months.   On Monday, one of those migrants staged a terrorist attack in Berlin, killing twelve and seriously injuring almost 50.   The attacker stole a heavy goods vehicle and drove into Christmas shoppers in one of the capital’s famous Christmas markets.   The method copied the attack in Nice, France, which killed 84 people in July.

Many Berliners thought themselves immune from attack.  Their liberal city welcomed migrants.  Now, many Germans are doing a rethink.  The right-wing AfD (Alternative for Deutschland) party looks set to gain at the polls next year.   Their anti-immigrant policy is in stark contrast to their “conservative” Chancellor and other centrist parties.   Germans could easily follow British and American voters by turning away from the liberal immigration policies of the past.

“Everything has changed for Merkel after Berlin terror attack, says expert” was the headline Thursday morning in the British Daily Express.   ‘Angela Merkel’s open-door migrant policy will come slamming shut and Germany will become a Big Brother state after the Berlin Christmas market terror attack, a leading political commentator has warned.”  (Alix Culbertson)

The article continues:  “Josef Joffe said Germany has only had to deal with no or low victim lone-wolf attacks, unlike many other Western countries, until this year but after a spate of seven in 2016 the government will be forced to change the way the country is run.”

At the same time, there is concern across Europe about America’s commitment to the continent’s democracies.   Many are now looking to Germany and Angela Merkel to take over America’s seven decade leading role in western Europe.

“President-elect Donald Trump hasn’t taken the oath of office or outlined his administration’s plans for the nation’s foreign policy, but his election has already forced the United States’ European allies to contemplate a future where the United States might no longer underwrite Europe’s security.   Faced with an American president who has dismissed alliances such as NATO while denigrating liberal values, Germany will assume an increasingly consequential role as a leader in the turbulent transatlantic order while it takes gradual steps to shore up its lagging military capabilities.   But the prospect of nationalist victories in important European elections next year raises an under-discussed question: as the European project comes under unprecedented strain and prepares to face a President who promises to turn the United States away from the world, could a fractured and increasingly nationalistic Europe come to fear a more powerful Germany again?”

The following paragraph is of particular interest:   “In a profound twist of historical irony that is not yet appreciated widely, only 71 years after World War II, a sitting German chancellor has warned the next leader of the United States to respect the transatlantic order’s commitment to the rule of law and liberal values.”   (“Could Europe fear Germany again?” by Adam Twardowski, Small Wars Journal, December 19th.)

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Political Revolution Is Brewing in Europe

Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician who leads the anti-immigrant party, was found guilty this week of inflammatory language against Moroccan immigrants, all Muslims.   The following was written by Mr. Wilders and appeared in “The Gatestone Institute’s” newsletter:

  • The German authorities are dangerously underestimating the threat of Islam . . .   They have betrayed their own citizens.
  • Let no-one tell you that only the perpetrators of these crimes are to blame.   The politicians, who welcomed Islam into their country, are guilty as well.   And it is not just Frau Merkel in Germany, it is the entire political elite in Western Europe.
  • Out of political-correctness, they have deliberately turned a blind eye to Islam.  They have refused to inform themselves about its true nature.  They refuse to acknowledge that its all in the Koran: the permission to kill Jews and Christians (Surah 9:29), to terrorize non-Muslims (8:12), to rape young girls (65:4), to enslave people for sex (4:3), to lie about one’s true goals (3:54), and the command to make war on the infidels (9:123) and subjugate the entire world to Allah (9:33).
  • We will have to de-islamize our societies . . .   But it all begins with politicians with the courage to face and speak the truth.
  • More and more citizens are aware of that.   This is why a political revolution is brewing in Europe.   Patriotic parties are rapidly growing everywhere.   They are Europe’s only hope for a better future.

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Prince Charles warns against religious persecution

BBC

Prince Charles has spoken out about the danger of religious persecution, warning against a repeat of “the horrors of the past.” Delivering BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day, the Prince of Wales said the rise of populist groups “aggressive” to minority faiths had “deeply disturbing echoes of the dark days” of the 1930s.   The prince said the scale of religious persecution around the world was “not widely appreciated” and was not limited to Christians, but included many other minority faiths.   He went on:  “That, nearly seventy years later, we should still be seeing such evil persecution is, to me, beyond all belief.”   The Prince said:  “Whichever religious path we follow, the destination is the same – to value and respect the other person, accepting their right to live out their peaceful response to the love of God.”

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ANGLOS ON DECLINE

It may not be too serious yet, but a group of Californians has just opened an “embassy” in Moscow.   They are seeking international recognition for an independent California.

Don’t think it’s not possible.

Many Scots want independence from the United Kingdom, with a call this week for a second referendum within two years; many Australians want to sever the tie with the Crown after the Queen’s reign ends.

These three developments all have something in common – they reflect the decline of the Anglo-Saxons and the increasing presence of non-Anglo immigrants.   Watch for more fragmentation in the Anglosphere.   It’s inevitable considering the low Anglo-Saxon birthrate everywhere.   California, remember, is now a majority Spanish speaking state.

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THE FALL OF ALEPPO

I took the latest Economist magazine to a medical appointment yesterday, expecting to have to wait for some time.  The doctor commented on the depressing cover on “The Fall of Aleppo.”   I’m pleased to say that he did not ask: “What’s Aleppo?” You have to be a presidential candidate to be that ill-informed.   Rather, he asked me what the difference is between East and West Aleppo.

I started to explain that East Aleppo was the “rebel” side, made up mostly of Sunni Muslims; West is where the pro-government Shi’ites live.   The rebels have now been defeated, not by a few hundred Syrian troops, but by  Shia volunteers from Iraq, Iran, Lebanon and Afghanistan; together with Russian air power.

He jokingly asked what my solution would be to the 1,400-year-old Shia-Sunni conflict. We then joked about attempts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which goes back even longer.   It has been suggested that Donald Trump’s 35-year-old Jewish son-in-law could make a difference and resolve the conflict!

After I left, I remembered one of the funniest scenes in the movie “The Flintstones,” supposedly set in prehistoric times.   As the paperboy delivered the morning newspaper, if you look carefully you can see the headline from 3000+ years ago:   “Mideast peace talks fail.”

Nothing’s changed.

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One small change has taken place in the Middle East and that’s in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, from where the BBC’s James Longman has been reporting to the world about the developments in Aleppo, 180 miles away.   Apparently, the 29-year-old, good-looking, athletic reporter has quite a female following.   Hundreds of thousands around the world who, until recently, thought Beirut was a root vegetable, an expensive perfume or a new wine at the local liquor store, are now becoming interested in Middle East affairs, so much so they eagerly turn to BBC World News first thing in the morning.

It is, however, having a negative affect on news channels.   Fox started it all by employing attractive blondes, seemingly a requirement for employment at the news channel.   Now even men on global news networks are being chosen according to their physical appearance.

Fortunately, Mr. Longman also knows his Middle East.   Born in England, he is fluent in both French and Arabic, which give him a distinct advantage in the region.   His reporting on the area is worth watching.

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The BBC, like other networks, does not give enough attention to the religious divisions that exist in the Middle East.   Religion is at the core of all the sectarian violence that afflicts the region.   It may be difficult for people raised in secular England to fully comprehend this.

The Jewish-Palestinian conflict has the potential to lead to World War III.   Increasingly, it seems that the Shia-Sunni conflict could do the same.

Some in the West think the solution is the end of religion.   Another solution is found in the Lord’s Prayer, in the words “Thy Kingdom Come.” (Matthew 6:10)

When that Kingdom comes, the Bible shows us that the true religion of the Messiah will be imposed over all the false religions.   You can read about this in the book of the Old Testament prophet, Zechariah, which looks to the future Millennial rule of Jesus Christ.

“And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.   And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain.   If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the Lord strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.   This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.” (Zech. 14:16-19)

Egypt is 90% Muslim, and is a country that is witnessing a continued decline in its Christian population, which has been persecuted and discriminated against for generations.   The latest outrage was a bomb going off in Cairo’s St Mark’s Cathedral.   This passage of scripture shows that the Egyptians will in the future be forced to change from the Islamic religion to the true religion.

Christians should also take note, especially at this time of the year. Christmas is not mentioned in this passage.   Rather, we see the biblical Feast of Tabernacles mentioned; once thought of as a Jewish festival, it will, in the future, be observed by everybody.   At the same time, we will see the end of all the sectarian violence that today is at the root of all the suffering and violence in the area.

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WE’VE COME A LONG WAY

PBS’s “The Hollow Crown” is taking us through Shakespeare’s historical plays and the last kings of the Plantagents, England’s bloodiest dynasty.   They reigned for over 300 years, from 1154 to 1485.   The last thirty years saw the Wars of the Roses, as the two royal houses of York and Lancaster battled for supremacy.

The series has inspired me to read Alison Weir’s “The Wars of the Roses,” first published in 1995.   The following paragraph should be of interest to all.

“Formal education was provided for boys only.   Women were seen as the inferior sex and regarded as the chattels of men.   The author of “The Goodman of Paris” (c. 1393) advised wives to behave like faithful dogs in order to please their husbands, and Margaret Paston of Norfolk referred to John Paston as “right worshipful husband” in her letters.   The husband was lord of his family as God reigned supreme over the universe.   The chief duty of a wife, therefore, was to be submissive.   If there was discord in a marriage, or infertility, people automatically assumed it was the wife’s fault.   Women had virtually no freedom beyond that which their fathers or husbands allowed them.   Within these confines, however, many managed businesses, shops, farms or noble estates, and proved themselves the equal to men.” (page 17)

 

A RAPIDLY CHANGING WORLD

refugee-screening

It’s not just the US that is in transition. Take a look at what’s happening elsewhere around the world. 

The year That May Decide Europe’s Fate

2017 will be the most important year yet for the continuity of the eurozone as political and economic risk reaches the bloc’s very core in Germany, France and Italy. These countries not only have the largest economies in Europe, but they are also the main forces driving the process of European integration.  If a nationalist party gains power in France or Italy, the eurozone’s days could be numbered. (Stratfor, 12/16)

Middle East

In this world, it is often dangerous to be an enemy of the United States, said Henry Kissinger in 1968, but to be a friend is fatal . . . So it is today with Aleppo, where savage reprisals against U.S.-backed rebels are taking place in that hellhole of human rights.” (“Lessons from Aleppo – for Trump”, Pat Buchanan, 12/15/16)

Trump’s new US envoy to Israel seeks Jerusalem base

US President-elect Donald Trump has chosen right-winger David Friedman as America’s next ambassador to Israel.  The 57-year-old lawyer is strongly critical of the long-held US goal of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He also supports Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank, which the Obama administration considers an “obstacle to peace.”  A liberal Jewish group opposed his nomination. Conservatives welcomed it.  Mr. Friedman said he looked forward to working “from the US Embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem,” a statement that will anger Palestinians   (BBC)

ISIS leader in first interview:

“To behead an animal, it would be difficult; with enemies of Allah, it is a pleasure.” (Daily Mirror, London)

Deadliest Church Attack

The worst attack on Egypt’s Christian minority in recent years occurred  Sunday, December 11, 2016. St. Peter Cathedral in Cairo, packed with worshipers celebrating Sunday mass, was bombed; at least 25 churchgoers, mostly women and children, were killed and 65 severely wounded. As many of the wounded are in critical condition, the death toll is expected to rise.

As usual, witnesses say that state security was not present, and that police took an inordinate amount of time to arrive after the explosion.  Preliminary investigations point to a bomb placed inside an unattended woman’s purse on one of the rear pews of the women’s section.

Mutilated bodies were strewn along the floor of the cathedral. “I found bodies, many of them women, lying on the pews. It was a horrible scene,” said one witness. (“Egypt’s deadliest church attack,” by Raymond Ibrahim, 12/12/16, Gatestone Institute).

1000 Radical Muslims Protest in London, Call for the Return of the Islamic Caliphate (PJ Media 12/16/16)

More Muslims Settle In Michigan

“Activists to Trump: Keep letting refugees into Michigan, US”

“Trump will have wide-ranging powers in deciding  who to let in, or keep out, of the country. But it’s a move that could have deep reverberations in Michigan, which has welcomed more Syrian and Iraqi refugees than just about any other state in the nation.

“In the federal fiscal year that ended September 30, Michigan took in 1,374 Syrian refugees, second only to California.  Additionally, 1,119 Iraqis as families fled civil war in the Middle East. Overall, the U.S. took in about 22,500 people from Syria and Iraq that year – a sizeable number, but far less than those being resettled in parts of Europe and Turkey out of millions displaced by Syria’s civil war.”

On a local level:  ”Lansing took in some of those Syrian and Iraqi refugees. There were 56 Syrians and 46 Iraqis among the 776 people from the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia resettled in Lansing by St. Vincent Catholic charities in the 2015-16 fiscal year . . .”   (Lansing State Journal, Sunday)

White Americans Dying Off

A rapidly aging white population and fast-growing younger minority groups are speeding demographic changes across the nation, hastening a political divide likely to have long-term ramifications.

The percentage of the U.S. population that is white has decreased from 79.6 percent in 1980 to 61.9 percent in 2014.  The percentage of Latino-Americans has increased from 6.4 percent to 17.3 percent over the same time period, while both the African-American and Asian-American populations have grown, too.

There are growing signs that the rate of change is increasing.  The number of non-Hispanic whites who died in 2014 outpaced the number of white births in 17 states, according to a new analysis from the University of New Hampshire.  That’s the largest number of states to experience a natural decrease in the white population in American history.   (“Aging white population speeding diversity,” The Hill, 12/2))

Governments Fail To Protect Citizens Against Muslim Invaders

“Some scandals are so massive that they’re simply hard to believe.  As many as one million white English children may have been the victims of Muslim rape gangs, better known as grooming gangs, in towns up and down Great Britain.

Policy analyst George Igler says, “When you encounter an issue that is just so unbelievable, just so outside your frame of reference and understanding, the immediate human reaction is just  to not believe it at all.”

Perhaps even harder to believe is that while there have been prosecutions, the British government has still not stopped this criminal activity.

Easy Targets

Former Home Secretary and parliament member Jack Straw once said, “There’s a particular problem involving Pakistani heritage men who target young, vulnerable, white English girls.”  He also said these Pakistani heritage men view white English girls as “easy meat.”

This is when some shout ‘racism,’ but here are the facts:  calculations based on convictions show that a British Muslim male is 170 times more likely to be a part of a sex grooming gang than a non-Muslim.  And there are no recorded instances of non-Muslims doing this to Muslim girls as part of a criminal enterprise.  In one local jurisdiction, it was estimated that six out of seven Muslim males either knew about, or were part of, a grooming gang.

Igler says, “What you do not have is any example of non-Muslim men targeting Muslim girls for this organized form of abuse.  So, the argument that this crime exists everywhere is not only false, but is being deliberately cultivated by the media and by the government inquiry that is kicking the can down the road.”   (CBN)

 

 

WHAT’S ALEPPO?

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Gary Johnson is the leader of the Libertarian Party, a third party in the United States.   Polls showed the party had 9% support a few days ago – before Mr. Johnson made a big boo-boo on nationwide television.   When asked what he would do about Aleppo, he looked bewildered and asked the anchor:  “What’s Aleppo?”  Aleppo, you will remember, is Syria’s second biggest city and has been devastated in the country’s never-ending civil war.   Tens of thousands of refugees have been fleeing the city and the country, heading mostly for Europe.

It’s been big news – and Mr. Johnson was unaware of it!

Sadly, there will be many others in the country who are just as ignorant of the rest of the world.

I’m often amazed at how many people do not want to know what’s going on in the world.   Even Christians have a problem in this regard, despite what Jesus Christ said in Matthew 24:42:  “Watch therefore for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.”  The chapter answers the question from the disciples:  “Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be?  And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (verse 3)

From other scriptures we know that the Middle East and Europe play a key role in world events.   Christians especially should be aware of what is happening in these two areas of the world, but too often they are not.   Sadly, some just do not want to know.

“. . . and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”  (Mark 4:19)

Mr. Johnson’s comment (or lack of comment) may have ended his presidential ambitions, which did not have much hope in the first place; but he’s not the only candidate aspiring to the presidency who is ignorant of international affairs.

Donald Trump’s comments on NATO could mean the end of an alliance that has guaranteed peace for the West since World War II; while Mrs. Clinton’s assurance that America is the “indispensable” nation overlooks the fact that America’s preeminence did not begin until after World War II.   Before that the world got along fine without the US and could do so again if the country pursued an isolationist course.

Next week, Jean Claude Juncker, the former prime minister of Luxembourg and now President of the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, lays out his plan for a European military.   The British were very much against this, seeing it as a threat to NATO.   But the British are no longer members of the EU. The remaining 27 members of the Union are now free to pursue their own combined military force, which has the potential to rival America’s.   The EU remains, even without the UK, the world’s biggest economy and, through trade, has greater economic power around the world than the US does.

Inevitably, an EU military force will be led by Germany, the most powerful economy in Europe.

While Americans remain preoccupied with their election, they may not have noticed a significant victory for the extreme right in last Sunday’s state election in Angela Merkel’s home state.   Her party came in third after the socialists and the fairly new anti-immigrant party known as the Alternative for Deutschland (AfD), which some claim is “neo-Nazi.”

“A nationalist, anti-immigration party performed strongly in a state election Sunday in the region where German Chancellor Angela Merkel has her political base, overtaking her conservatives to take second place amid discontent with her migrant policies.

The three-year-old Alternative for Germany, or AfD, won 20.8 percent of votes in the election for the state legislature in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Merkel’s Christian Democrats polled 19 percent, their worst result yet in the state.

The center-left Social Democrats, who led the outgoing state government in a coalition with the conservatives, remained the strongest party with 30.6 percent support.” (ABC News website, 9th September)

The successful vote for Brexit in the UK in June was motivated partly by anti-immigrant feeling.   AfD’s success in Germany is due to the same problem.   Next year’s federal elections in Germany are likely to reinforce the trend. In France next year a victory is predicted for their anti-immigrant party.   The US may see the same in November.

Voters throughout the western world are waking up to the twin threats from globalization and immigration, which together threaten their way of life.

At the same time there are increasing fears of further terrorism from radical Islamists.   Europe is being invaded by hundreds of thousands of potential terrorists, mostly from ISIS areas of influence.  Could this be the push by the king of the South as described in Daniel 11?   The only way to stop this invasion may be for the new European Army to invade the Middle East and stabilize the failed states of Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, as the King of the North hits back.

The changes in Europe will affect the Middle East, the home countries of many of the recent refugees arriving at European borders.

The Visegrad Group is made up of four eastern European countries, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.  These four are against the massive immigration that has been favored by Angela Merkel.  The four are working together to prevent further invasion from the Mideast by Islamic “refugees,” many of whom, it turns out, are actually from west Africa.   Could these four countries be the nucleus of the eastern leg of the revived Roman Empire prophesied by the prophet Daniel in chapter two of the Book of Daniel?

The developments listed above all have two things in common – I have heard nothing about any of them on the main American television news programs.   They are not considered important.  The US election gets priority.  Secondly, they are all of significance when it comes to biblical prophesies relating to Europe.  Christians can be forgiven for being ignorant of them.

Having said that, Aleppo has received some attention on national news programs.   Clearly, not everyone wants to watch!

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?