Tag Archives: Australia

HARRY AND MEGHAN DOWN UNDER

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – OCTOBER 16: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex meet a koala during a visit to Taronga Zoo on October 16, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are on their official 16-day Autumn tour visiting cities in Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand. (Photo by Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage)

One of my earliest memories is of a trip with a friend and his father to the shore of the River Humber in England.   It was twilight and, along with thousands of other people, we tried to position ourselves comfortably on the rocks so that we could watch the famous yacht go by.

The yacht was the Royal Yacht Britannia.   On board were the Queen and Prince Philip who were returning from a royal tour.   Those tours were frequent back then – often to faraway places like Australia and New Zealand or one of the islands in the South Pacific.   I don’t remember where they were returning from on this evening, or why they were sailing up the River Humber.   I remember having a brief look through binoculars, but the yacht was just too far away.

There’s been hundreds of royal tours since then.   The latest in the news is actually the first tour of the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex, formerly known as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, before their marriage five months ago.   They are now on an 18-day tour of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga, during which they have 76 engagements.

The tour comes at an interesting time.   In five months time, the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union.   Almost fifty years ago, the country turned its back on the Commonwealth of former British territories; now, it hopes to revive the commercial and other ties it once had with these nations.

At the same time as the British are focused on Brexit, Australians are preparing for a plebiscite on the future of the monarchy in their country.   With an election next year, the Labor (socialist) party is planning an immediate vote on whether to turn the country into a republic, not a republic American style but one where the titular head of state will no longer be a monarch who lives 10,000 miles away, but an Australian figurehead likely chosen by parliament.   The American model is not likely to be adopted as it’s too expensive and politicians don’t like it as it’s too weak.   One member of the Australian parliament warned against adopting the US system lest they, too, have a President Trump!

Even republicans admit the change will lead to some confusion and political instability as 63 laws have to be changed, if the people vote for a republic.   Any change will also be more expensive.

Immediately prior to the arrival of the prince and duchess, the new Australian prime minister, Liberal (in Australia, that’s conservative) Scott Morrison, declared he is a monarchist and had the monarch’s portrait returned to the PM’s official office.   His expressed view is that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”   Australia’s founders chose to remain loyal to the Crown after achieving independence at the turn of the twentieth century.

Australia’s constitutional monarchy and parliamentary system has been the envy of the world. It has attracted immigrants from all over the world, mostly, in recent decades, from failed states that happen to be republics; it’s likely that most of these immigrants, not knowing the past, will vote for a republic, setting Australia on the path to yet another dysfunctional state run by politicians for politicians.

Before casting their vote, they would do well to watch the Australian documentary, “When the Queen came to town,” a record of the monarch’s first royal tour of Australia in 1954, with many interviews of those who remember the tour, in which 75% of Australians saw the monarch at least once.   She was the first reigning monarch to set foot in the country.   It was a highly successful visit.

After the queen returned to England, Robert Menzies, Prime Minister of Australia, wrote an article that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, in which he wrote:

“It is a basic truth that for our Queen we have within us, sometimes unrealized until the moment of expression, the most profound and passionate feelings of loyalty and devotion.   It does not require much imagination to realize that when eight million people spontaneously pour out this feeling they are engaging in a great act of common allegiance and common joy which brings them closer together and is one of the most powerful elements converting them from a mass of individuals to a great cohesive nation.   In brief, the common devotion to the Throne is a part of the very cement of the whole social structure.”

WHAT DAMPENED THE ENTHUSIASM?

Britain’s entry into the EU, then the Common Market, on January 1st, 1973, contributed to the republican movement, as many Australians felt betrayed by the mother country, formerly their biggest trading partner.   In November of 1975, more people turned against the monarchy when the queen’s representative, the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, dismissed the socialist government of Gough Whitlam for financial improprieties.   As this dismissal was “in the name of the Queen,” it boosted republican feeling.

Australians gave the monarchy “the walkabout,” where members of the royal family walk amongst the people.  This was named after an aboriginal practice.   The term has caught on in the other constitutional monarchies, as well.    It’s a great way for the people to meet their sovereign and other members of her family; and for them to show that they care about local issues.   Politicians only show up at election time; Harry and Meghan are in Australia for the Invictus games and to promote growing concerns about mental health.

Wikipedia has this to say about the Games, which are now being held in Sydney:

“The Invictus Games is an international adaptive multi-sport event, created by Prince Harry, in which wounded, injured or sick war veterans take part in sports including wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, and indoor rowing.”

ROYAL MEMORIES

Even with binoculars, we didn’t get to see the Queen or Prince Philip sixty years ago, but I do remember the crowds and the excitement. One other memory from about the same time was of the Queen’s visit to my hometown of Grimsby, a town on the estuary of the Humber.   Again, crowds lined the street. I couldn’t see anything, but a man standing next to me offered to lift me up on his shoulders and my mother consented.   From that vantage point, I remember a couple of people across the road fainted and the Red Cross was called to revive them.   They were suffering from heat stroke (yes, even in England)!

I remember, too, that my father, a republican (not to be confused with Republicans in the US), complained that he could not drive his car through the center of town, where all the crowds were. Ironically, he got the best view of the monarch as she passed by.   It did not lead to his changing his mind on Britain’s constitutional arrangements.  Perhaps Prince Harry and Meghan’s visit will help change the minds of those Australians who are tempted to step into the unknown with a questionable and uncertain republic.

Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, together with a number of small islands in the Caribbean and South Pacific, share a cultural heritage.   A significant part of that heritage is the monarchy, which has provided each nation with a solid foundation and continuous, peaceful political and economic development.   A change in the political system will mean a diversion from that heritage.   First, abolish the monarchy, then change the flag, then something else until Australia becomes just another Asian republic – the kind of republic that new Australians have recently fled from!

Note the following from this week’s Spectator:

“Whether it was intended so or not, the decision by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to choose Australia as the place to announce that they are expecting their first child was a public relations triumph. For years the royal family was criticised for having a tin ear when it came to reading and dealing with the public, but no one could say this now.   The tone of the younger royals’ tour to the southern hemisphere has been one of approachability, without compromising the dignity of the positions which Harry and Meghan hold.

“Their visit also runs counter to the conventional wisdom of some republicans — in Britain as well as Australia — that support for the monarchy is dependent on personal affection for the Queen and that the institution will be doomed upon her death.   Now that Elizabeth II is, for reasons of age, no longer able to conduct long-haul tours, her grandchildren have achieved what her children never quite managed: to show that they have the ability to follow on and capture the support of the public where she leaves off.”  (The Spectator, 19th October).

As the prime minister recently said: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

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DEATH OF JAMAL KHASHOGGI

The famous Washington Post columnist was brutally tortured and murdered in the Embassy of Saudi Arabia on October 2nd.   What happened to him was reprehensible.   It‘s not the first time that an Arab government has killed a critic.   At the same time, we should also remember that Mr. Khashoggi was no friend of the West.   His support of the Muslim Brotherhood and his close friendship with Osama bin Laden both illustrate this. 

Khashoggi was a political Islamist to the end.   He did not believe in secularism.   He wanted an alliance of Islamic democratic states. There’s nothing wrong with that, necessarily.   But it is relevant and worth saying, as it helps explain the dynamic by which he found himself on the wrong side of the Saudi regime.”   (Freddie Gray, The Spectator, 19th October)

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700, 000 PROTEST OVER BREXIT

A huge demonstration took place in London on Saturday, calling for a second referendum on Brexit.   They oppose the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, scheduled for March 29th, five months from now.

Referenda in the EU has often followed this path.   A vote is taken on an issue, and when the result is not to the liking of the EU, a second referendum will be called for.   Whereas the demand sounds reasonable, it could lead to further division in the United Kingdom, already seriously divided as it is.

Those who want to Remain in the EU have concerns about leaving the world’s biggest trading bloc.

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WHAT MULTICULTURALISM HIDES

  • If we bring in highly qualified immigrants to our workforce, we would be taking away from poorer countries the best they have to offer, and the situation in those countries will further deteriorate.   The result will be an even greater flow of unskilled migrants escaping those countries.
  • The proponents of the new multiculturalism want to share their welfare states with masses of refugees who — through no fault of their own — will be unable to participate in financing themselves for a long time to come.

(Jan Keller, a Czech, writing for Gatestone Institute, 16th October)

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RESPONSE ON MULTICULTURALISM

Following a comment to my last blog this morning, here is my response:

Multiculturalism was a term first coined by a Royal Commission in Canada in 1971.   It was an attempt to show Canadians a way forward following a significant number of immigrants arriving from Africa, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Asia, peoples of different cultures from the dominant culture of Canada.   The policy was adopted by Canada and then other western nations.   It has not worked well and will lead to further problems ahead.

Jesus Christ prophesied that, at the time of the end, “Nation will rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:7).   The word “nation” comes from the Greek word “ethnos,” from which we get the word “ethnic.”   Ethnic conflict will be common at the end time.   Indeed, it is already, arguably, the biggest cause of conflict around the world.

While we sing “O God of every nation,” and all nations are descended from Noah’s sons, we should also remember the following words spoken by the Apostle Paul, from Acts 17:26:

“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.”   God set the boundaries;  man (mainly western man) is behind mixing, which is the opposite.

We see many problems with multiculturalism.   Tolerance is required for it to work, but this  is sadly lacking in some groups.   Rising conflict in many nations is leading to the rise of populist movements that want to preserve one culture over others.   None of this means that any race is superior to another.   People simply want to preserve their own cultural heritage.   Some cultures are just not compatible.    Comments I have made on the threats from immigration are based on this reality  — that the mixing is going to lead to negative consequences.  It is not meant to imply that any race is superior.

The Apostle Peter said that:   “God is no respecter of persons”   (Acts 10:34)

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CARAVAN PUTS IMMIGRATION BACK IN THE SPOTLIGHT, IN TIME FOR MIDTERMS

“As 4,000 Honduran migrants push north toward the US, President Trump sees an opportunity to help Republicans hang on to the House in the midterm elections.” (Axios, 20th October).

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IN RETROSPECT — OF INTEREST TO THE WCG DIASPORA

“Throughout this study two related concepts have been mentioned repeatedly:   authority and government/governance.   We have seen Herbert W. Armstrong imposing his authority, diminishing his son’s authority.   Having his authority challenged, using his authority to change long-held doctrines, and being accused of authoritarianism.   We have seen Joseph W. Tkach and Joe Jr. making use of the strong ethos of obedience to top-down authority in the Worldwide Church of God to revolutionize its teachings, thus precipitating the three major schismatic moves of 1989, 1992-3, and 1995.   We have seen various attitudes to authority in the offshoot churches, from the hardline position of Philadelphia, Restored, and others to the more liberal attitudes found in United and its smaller offshoots and in the GTA group of churches.

“As for church government or governance, for some churches in the Worldwide family this is a crucial part of their beliefs; differing attitudes to governance are a major distinguishing factor between the hardline and the more liberal churches.”   (“Authority in the Churches of God,” chapter 7 of “The Fragmentation of a Sect,” by David V Barrett, 2013, Oxford University Press.)

Philippians 2:12  – “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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DOMESTIC TURMOIL

It’s getting personal!

Our grandchildren have a weakness for Cadbury’s chocolate fingers.   Not wanting them to develop any addictions, they have only been an occasional treat.

A few months ago, I bought them for less than $3.   When I looked for them again a few days ago, they had gone up to $6.75.

The only reason I can think of to explain that jump is an increased tariff on imported chocolate (they are produced in the United Kingdom).   The dispute is between the US and the EU, of which the UK remains a member for another seven months. Hopefully, after Brexit the price will come down.

Yesterday, I checked at WalMart, where I got them for less than $3 earlier this year.   They are no longer selling them.   They have also stopped selling Tim Tams from Australia.

Armageddon must be close – that’s all I can say!

Request: if anybody lives in the Cincinnati area, could they please check availability and price next time they visit Jungle Jim’s?

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207 DAYS LEFT UNTIL BREXIT

Talking of Brexit (and food), you would think the British didn’t eat before they joined the European Union.

Those opposed to leaving the 27-nation EU are attempting to scare the general population, saying that there will be food shortages and their prescriptions may no longer be available.

For the record, the United Kingdom was the world’s most successful trading nation in Victorian times.   They continued as a major trader right up until they entered the EU in 1973.

Prior to that ill-informed decision, major trading partners included the Commonwealth (former British territories), the United States and EFTA (European countries that were not a part of the EU).   Food was a lot cheaper than it is now.   The UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa had a preferential trading agreement, which ensured cheap food for the mother country and gave preference for British exports.   Withdrawing from this agreement was one of the biggest mistakes Britain ever made.

The UK cannot sign any new trading agreements until after leaving the EU. When they do, expect food prices to drop.     It is, of course, possible that the cost of French cheeses and German wines may rise, but, believe it or not, you can live without them! (My grandchildren, deprived of Cadbury’s fingers, are surviving!)

From the WSJ yesterday:

WSJ Brexit Beyond

Britain Ramps Up Preparations for No-Deal Brexit:    The U.K. government on Thursday published advice for British businesses on how to prepare for an abrupt and messy break with the European Union, a move aimed at underscoring to Brussels that it is serious about walking away from talks if it doesn’t get a satisfactory deal.

Of note:   The Wall Street Journal has a regular “Brexit and Beyond” column.  They have now added a sub-title:  “Europe in Flux.”

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POLITICAL TURMOIL AFFLICTS ANGLO COUNTRIES

Thanks to Brexit, there’s a great deal of political instability in the UK right now.   Theresa May seems unlikely to be able to deliver a “deal” with the EU, while satisfying those who want to leave.   Attempting to do so is really a contradiction!

According to one paper earlier this week, over 100 Conservative MPs are ready to rebel over this.   That could mean a coup against Mrs. May, replacing her with somebody more to their liking.   Boris Johnson is still the favorite.   Mr. Johnson is more conservative than Mrs. May and does not want to compromise with the EU.

Don’t assume this won’t happen.   I woke up this morning to find a similar “coup” took place in Australia on Friday (the day is already over in the Antipodes).    Malcolm Turnbull, leader of the governing Liberal Party (the Conservative Party of Australia) has been ousted and replaced with Scott Morrison.   The latter is more conservative than the former.

Canada is also going through some political turmoil, as Maxime Bernier is quitting the Conservative Party and forming his own party dedicated to “more freedom, less government.”   In recent weeks, he has launched Twitter attacks against PM Justin Trudeau’s “extreme multiculturalism” and immigration policy, according to the BBC’s website this morning.

Mr. Trudeau, the country’s prime minister, is a Liberal who has welcomed thousands of Muslim refugees from the Middle East.   The Conservatives remain in opposition, with an election expected late next year.

The UK, Canada and Australia all share a common heritage and remain members of the Commonwealth.   With a very different political system, the United States is also going through a great deal of internal turmoil after two of President Trump’s former political associates were found to be breaking the law.   The implication is that the president did likewise.   Calls for his impeachment are growing. I don’t think this will happen as the Republicans control both houses in Congress and President Trump has a very loyal support base.

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GERMANY’S CONTINUED RISE TO WORLD PROMINENCE

“The Lord says:   I am furious!  And I will use the King of Assyria as a club.”  (Isa. 10:5; Contemporary English Version).

From Time magazine:

Europe should scale up military spending in order to act as a counterpoint to an unpredictable and unreliable United States, the German foreign minister said in an op-ed Wednesday, an unusually forthright criticism of U.S. foreign policy by a senior political figure in Europe.

In the German newspaper Handelsblatt entitled “A New World Order,” Heiko Maas said that Europe and the U.S. have been drifting apart for years.   Instead of waiting for Trump’s presidency to end, he argued, Europe should take an “equal share of responsibility” globally.

Yet Maas joined in agreement with Trump in demanding NATO members increase their defense spending.   “It is in our own interest to strengthen the European part of the North Atlantic Alliance,” he wrote.   However, he continued, this was “not because Donald Trump is always setting new percentage targets, but because we can no longer rely on Washington to the same extent.”   (Germany’s Foreign Minister: when the US ‘crosses the line,” Europe must act,” by Billy Perrigo.)

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From Deutsche Welle:

Germany on track for world’s largest trade surplus for third consecutive year.    Deutsche Welle * 21 Aug 2018

The country’s $299 billion surplus is poised to attract criticism, however, both at home and internationally.

Germany is expected to set a €264 billion ($299 billion) trade surplus this year, far more than its closest export rivals Japan and the Netherlands, according to research published Monday by Munich-based economic research institute Ifo.

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GERMANY BLAMES TRUMP TARIFFS FOR DESTROYING ECONOMY — MINISTER IN FURIOUS RANT                                (headline in Daily Express; article by Paul Withers, 8/20)

“The US President has triggered a bitter trade war with the likes of Europe, China and Canada by imposing huge import tariffs on a number of goods, including steel and aluminum.

Trade war

He has accused them of unfair trade practices and insists the tariffs are aimed at protecting American jobs.

“Speaking to German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier took aim at the US President, claiming consumers were taking the brunt of his import tariffs because they are driving up prices.

He said:   “This trade war is slowing down and destroying economic growth – and it creates new uncertainties.”

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A NUCLEAR GERMANY?

German bomb debate goes nuclear

The security community has become unnerved in the face of Donald Trump’s threats, and some are thinking the unthinkable.

“It’s crucial for Germany and Europe that we have a strategic debate”   — Ulrike Franke, analyst with the European Council on Foreign Relations

BERLIN — Imagine a nuclear-armed Germany (first line of article – (Matthew Karnitschnig, 8/6, Politico)

Headline in the Singapore Straits Times:  “Can Germany and Japan replace the United States?”

MEMORIES OF GHANA

Kumasi has been on my mind a great deal this week.

Ghana’s second city was called “the garden city” before independence in 1957.   It’s not very green now, but the city still has the biggest open air-market in west Africa and a number of attractions for visitors.   It remains the home of the Asantahene, the King of the Ashanti, one of the most powerful men in the Republic of Ghana.

Exactly forty years ago, my wife and I were visiting the city once a month. We pastored a church there, as well as one in Accra, the capital, where we lived.   One of the joys of visiting Kumasi was spending time with Charles and Comfort Akowuah.   At the time, Charles was the deacon of the local church. He had a huge chicken farm outside of Kumasi.   The Akowuahs had two children, Loma and Richard (also known as Yaw).   Our children and theirs would play together.

We first arrived in Ghana on May 27, 1978.   At the time, the country was going through some major problems.   The economy had collapsed with an inflation rate of 600%, the military was in power, a “palace coup” took place just a few weeks after we arrived, and a revolution took place a few months later.   It was difficult to buy anything in the stores.   We were in culture shock for a while after arriving.   Charles and Comfort were a great help.

At some point during our first five-year stay in Ghana, Charles was ordained an elder of the church.   We worked very closely in serving the Ghanaian people.   During that five years, the church grew considerably.

We maintained our friendship even after a split in the church in 1995, which affected just about every country in the world.   We had dinner with them on our last visit to Ghana.   Whenever we visited Kumasi, we would visit the restaurant they started over twenty years ago, “Friends Garden,” a popular, open-air meeting place right in the heart of Kumasi.   Conversations would always last late into the night.

Sadly, Charles died of cancer on Sunday.

Charles’ funeral will not take place until 20th October.   This will enable friends and relatives in the Ghanaian diaspora to get back to Kumasi for the traditional funeral rites.  Ghanaians have the best funerals in the world.   If I could be there, I would be, joining in the celebration of Charles’ life.   His son, Richard, will be there from the United States; sadly, their daughter died some years ago, from complications that arose from sickle cell anemia, the end of a life-long struggle.

Thank you, Charles, for some wonderful memories.   Comfort, keep the business going – we hope to pass through Kumasi again someday. Will red-red or fufu be on the menu?

Damfira due, dear friend . . .

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LONDON TERROR – INCIDENT OR ACCIDENT?

The road to Kumasi was always a challenge. It was exactly 168 miles from our home to the center of the city.   The journey could take anything from 4 to 6 hours, depending on traffic and weather, as well as the state of the road, which varied.   There were well-paved stretches of road, but there were also considerable distances of mud, where you could easily get bogged down, especially if it was raining.   The rain was always a tropical storm, a. positive deluge, which could quickly wash the road away.   There was no shelter, just thick rain forest on either side of the highway.

Sometime in 1982, during the rainy season, my American colleague and I, together with our son Kurt, who was only three, were driving back to Accra from Kumasi, after dark.   We had four church members in the back of our Landrover (jeep).   In the middle of a heavy storm, we had a major accident with a bus, full of passengers heading to the capital.   We were all under a deadline, as there was a curfew at 10pm.

Our vehicle was hit by the bus and completely turned around, as it spun into a stone wall, demolishing it, before coming to a halt.   I had grabbed hold of our son (there were no seat belts in those days).   He and I did not have any serious injuries; my colleague, Steve, had a cut on his head and at least one of our passengers was thrown out of the back of the vehicle.

Making things worse was the endless, heavy rain.

A vehicle stopped to help.   The driver, an Ethiopian working for an NGO, gave Kurt and I a ride to our home, about two hours away.   We arrived just before the curfew.   My colleague was not far behind.   Days later, I tried to find the driver of our rescue vehicle.   I had no success. To this day,   I wonder if we were rescued by “an angel unawares.”   (Hebrews 13:2)

In the weeks that followed, we had no vehicle.

It turned out that the bus driver was drunk and had been dancing in the aisle while driving in a heavy storm.   Theoretically, we could have gone to court and received compensation from the bus driver’s company to buy a new vehicle.   But it wasn’t that simple.

Our lawyer, a prominent Ghanaian, said it would be pointless going to court.   The local police were not co-operating and the judge and jury wouldn’t either. One reason was tribal affiliation.   People in Africa identify with their tribe, first and foremost.   As the people on the jury would be of the same tribe as the accused, who came from that area, the man would be found not guilty; so what was the point of going to court?

That’s how it was explained to me.

I was reminded of this a couple of days ago when watching Sky News.   There was a report about a terrorist attack in London, when a 29-year-old Muslim man from South Sudan deliberately ran his vehicle into a group of cyclists riding past London’s iconic parliament building.   The man was in London to obtain a British passport, having just been granted British citizenship.

Sky News questioned some of the man’s friends, all Muslims.   They were all in agreement, that the incident was just an accident, not a terrorist incident, that Muslims are always blamed for terrorist attacks, when no Muslim would ever do anything like that.

It reminded me of that accident almost 40 years ago.   Again, tribal affiliation makes policing virtually impossible.

Thanks to Acorn, a streaming service similar to Netflix, offering shows from the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, we have been able to watch a number of shows from England.   Crime shows, especially, portray the complexities caused by the reality of multicultural Britain, where everyday policing is made virtually impossible for the same reason it was pointless trying to have the drunk driver of the bus prosecuted following our near-death experience.

If the man is still alive, he is probably still driving buses in the pouring rain on difficult roads, dancing in the aisle while consuming lots of beer!

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AUSTRALIA AT 25

Sometime this week Australia’s population reached 25 million. Nobody knows exactly who is number 25 million – it’s more likely to be an immigrant arriving in the country than a new born baby; but 25 million is now the number.   Australia, in recent years, has been taking in 240,000 immigrants a year, compared to an average of 70,000 per annum in the twentieth century.

Prior to Gough Whitlam’s Labor administration (1972-75), Australia had a “white Australia” policy, in an attempt at preserving the country’s European culture.   At the time, most people were descended from the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic peoples of the British Isles. Today, with declining birthrates in western Europe, most immigrants come from Asia and the Middle East, peoples of very different cultural backgrounds.

Eighty years ago, the big fear was of a Japanese invasion.   After World War II, there was great concern about the Chinese.   Neither invasion took place.   But a new generation of Australians is permitting a different invasion of their country.   The end result is likely to be that Australia will become an Asian republic, with all that implies.

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TRAINS AND REPTILES

This has been the last week before our grandchildren in Lansing return to school.   (The grandchildren in Indiana have been back for two weeks.)

I took Aubren on Wednesday for a day in Durand, a small town east of Lansing that has a railroad museum and remains a fairly busy train terminal, almost all freight.   This means you can sit and watch trains while eating lunch.   Aubren loves it and likes to play with the model train in the museum.   We were there for a few hours.   The man in charge at the museum said that they get many autistic children visiting.   For some reason, they love trains. He certainly felt at home there.

On Thursday, it was Leeson’s turn.   I took him to a big pet store to see all the snakes, lizards and spiders.   At first, he wanted me to buy a tarantula. He was inspired by a young lady who was standing next to us, checking out all the creepy-crawlies before buying one.   I saw no evidence that she was married, which is just as well.   I would also caution all single males to check out the girlfriend’s hobbies before contemplating marriage!

But, Leeson wasn’t so interested in tarantulas as he was in snakes. We ended up in the snake section (yes, there is one), where he asked the manager if he could hold a snake.   Yes, he could.   He chose the candy cane corn snake.

He held it for some time, offering me the opportunity to do so.   I declined, saying I needed to keep my hands free to take pictures for his mother.   My excuse worked!

Leeson is only five and asked the store manager, Jason, lots of very intelligent questions about snakes and how to take care of them.   He revealed that he already has a garter snake, which is hiding in the woodpile in our back yard.

In conversation, I told Jason I was watching PBS’ ‘The Outback,” on the previous evening.   Australia has more dangerous creatures than anywhere else on earth (and they still have 240,000 people settle there each year!).

Jason told me he had seen a documentary on Australia, where the American presenter commented on all these dangerous creatures and asked the Australian animal expert if there was anywhere in Australia that was safe.   The Australian responded with: “Yes, the classroom!”   Good point!

Through these two boys I’ve learned a lot about both trains and reptiles, far more than I ever wanted to know, in the case of the latter.

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COLORADO TRAGEDY

A young father in Colorado murdered his pregnant wife and two young daughters on Monday.   We’ve had similar tragedies in Michigan in recent years.

It seems that, today, parents (particularly the father or step-father) are the greatest danger children have to face.

It’s a national tragedy.   Why does this keep on happening?

Apparently, the couple was having financial problems and had had an argument that morning.   TV news reported from outside their home, which was a modern mansion.

Coincidentally, I checked a new book out of the library this week. The title is “Squeezed:   why our families can’t afford America,” by Alissa Quart.   According to a recent newspaper article, 70% of Americans are struggling financially.   They live paycheck to paycheck and are heavily in debt.   It starts with student loans, then a car loan and a mortgage and progresses downhill from there.

But, why does a small family like the one in Colorado, need such a big house?   A PBS documentary over twenty years ago showed that the average family home in the 50’s and 60s was 1,100 square feet, with a garage for one car.   Forty years later, the average new home was 2,000 square feet, with a 2½ car garage, usually used for storage.     Now, it’s even worse.   The title of the documentary was “Affluenza,” highlighting a disease that too many people suffer from.   We need bigger and bigger homes to store more and more things!   And it’s all built on debt.   Where’s the sense in it?

The stress that it all leads to is causing irreparable damage to families, including divorce and violence.

We don’t know yet why the man in Colorado flipped and killed those he, at one time, loved.

There’s never been a greater need than there is now for God to fulfill the last two verses of the Old Testament, a promise to “turn the hearts of the fathers to their children,” prior to Christ’s Second Coming.

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
And he will turn
The hearts of the fathers to the children,
And the hearts of the children to their fathers,
Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”   (Malachi 4:5-6)

I find it unfathomable that a husband and father can do what this young man did in Colorado.   A father’s role includes protecting his wife and children. Instead, today, too often the husband and father represent the greatest threat to the safety and security of everybody in the household.

Of course, we have, in the last few decades destroyed the family in many ways, including totally upending God’s financial system.   In the past, parents had to have children, partly so they could take over the family farm as they got older and could then provide for them in old age. Now we have social security.   It’s taken away the “need” for children, who are now disposable.

How much worse is it going to get?

TRADE WAR LOOMING

Consternation has been expressed this week that the US currently has no Ambassador to South Korea, at a time when war between the US and North Korea is a definite possibility.  Nothing has been said about the fact that the US has no Ambassador to the European Union, also at a very critical time.

On Sunday, in a British television interview, President Trump described the EU’s trading policies as “unfair” to the US and threatened increased tariffs on imports from the 27-member nation trading club.

The US president, Donald Trump, claimed in an interview with ITV broadcast on Sunday that the EU had been “very unfair” on American exporters, and that it would “morph into something very big” that would “turn out to be very much to [the EU’s] detriment.”

Washington is currently examining the case for protecting US economic interests on national security grounds, including the imposition of import tariffs on aluminum and steel.

Responding to Trump’s comments, a spokesman for the European commission told reporters in Brussels that the EU was ready to hit back if its importers were made to suffer.

The spokesman said:   “For us trade policy is not a zero sum game.  It is not about winners and losers.  We here in the European Union believe that trade can and should be win-win.

“We also believe that while trade has to be open and fair it also has to be rules-based.  The European Union stands ready to react swiftly and appropriately in case our exports are affected by any restrictive trade measures by the United States.”

(“Brussels prepared for trade war with US if it restricts EU imports,” Daniel Boffey, The Guardian, 29th January, 2018).

There is an assumption in the United States that America is the biggest trading power in the world and can dictate to others when it comes to trade.   This may not be the case.

“The adjusted GDP of the 28 EU member nations is bigger than both China and the US, the traditional list of world’s economic super powers.

“In nominal U.S. dollar terms, the European Union (plus Norway, Switzerland, Iceland) accounted for 25.4% of world output in 2014 according to data from the International Monetary Fund.  That was greater than America’s share (22.5%) and well in excess of China’s—13.4%,” said Quinlan.

(“Europe is bigger than the US”, Bob Bryan, Business Insider, 30th June, 2015).

These facts will have changed in the 2 ½ years since this was written. When the United Kingdom leaves the European Union next year, the figures will need to be further adjusted.   But the figures do convey that the US, the EU and China are each roughly on a par when it comes to the size of their economies.

What is not conveyed here is how powerful the European Union is through its trading agreements.   Whereas the US has twenty major trading partners, the EU has eighty.   These countries will all likely side with Brussels if a trade war worsens.

Nobody is likely to benefit from a trade war.   The latest tariffs the US imposed on Chinese washing machines, for example, will increase the cost of purchasing a washing machine in the US.   This will apply to thousands of products as tariffs are increased by all three economic powers.

There’s a lesson from history here.  The Smoot-Hawley Act, passed by Congress in 1930, raised tariffs on over 20,000 items imported from other countries.   One side effect was that US trade decreased by over 50% increasing unemployment.   This period became known as the Great Depression.

The first shots have been fired in a new trade war.   It’s not likely that the US will come out ahead here, certainly not in the long term.   Putting “America First” will mean the rest of the world coming together in a renewed commitment to globalization, leading to the new global economic system predicted in Revelation 18.

Note the following just after Angela Merkel’s speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos:

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted on Wednesday “protectionism is not the answer” to world problems, addressing the Davos economic summit before US President Donald Trump appears to defend his “America First” agenda.

“We think that shutting ourselves off, isolating ourselves, will not lead us into a good future.   Protectionism is not the answer,” Merkel said in a speech in the Swiss resort.

She spoke a day before the arrival of the US president whose aggressive trade policies have raised concern among defenders of globalization.

“Let us not shut off from others, let us keep pace with the best in the world and let us canvas for this multilateral approach,” Merkel said.”

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Headline in WIN (World Israel News)

German FM in Israel rejects US Jerusalem move, warns of European ‘frustration’ (1st February)

During a visit to Israel, German FM Sigmar Gabriel blasted those who oppose a Palestinian state, demanding a two-state approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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DARKEST HOUR

We went to see “Darkest Hour” recently.   Although not perfect, the movie is a fairly accurate attempt at showing what Winston Churchill was up against when he suddenly became Prime Minister in May, 1940.  Forgotten now is how close Britain came to being invaded by Hitler’s armies.   The future of the world depended on what was to follow – if the UK had fallen, other nations would have had to sue for peace on Hitler’s terms.   Those “other nations” included the United States, which was totally unprepared for war in 1940.

Britons like to say that they “stood alone” against Hitler.   Certainly, in Europe that was true.   But forgotten now is a simple fact:   at the time, Britain ruled a quarter of the world’s people.   All these nations fought with Britain.   Two and a half million Indians were in the British Army, plus hundreds of thousands of people from Africa and the Caribbean.   Additionally, the British dominions (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Southern Rhodesia) played a major role.

In the event of another threat to Britain, none of these countries will be likely to come to her aid.

Watching the movie, you can also see clearly the similarities with today.   Whereas, in 1940, Britain was faced with an enormous military threat from Germany, today it’s an economic threat – from the German dominated EU.   As the Brexit negotiations continue, the EU has the advantage, because the Brits are allowing them to.  There seems to be a lack of backbone in standing up to Brussels, Berlin and Paris.  The FT’s Philip Stephens today described the mess as “Britain’s nervous breakdown.”

Sadly, there is no Winston Churchill waiting in the wings!

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Note the following headline from the British Daily Express newspaper following an incident were young leftists stormed the Churchill café, screaming that Churchill was a racist.   Nigel Farage is the man who led the Brexit campaign.   Churchill was an Empire-loyalist, an unforgiveable sin in today’s Britain!

“Nigel Farage TEARS APART ‘pig-ignorant’ lefty gang who terrorized Churchill café.  NIGEL FARAGE aimed a furious tirade in the direction of a group of protesters who burst into a Winston Churchill-themed cafe in London while chanting Britain’s wartime leader was a “racist.”

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TRUMP’S AFRICA

You will remember that Donald Trump reportedly described African countries as “****hole countries.”

At least two countries on the Dark Continent are capitalizing on this.

Namibia is promoting tourism with posters proclaiming that “Namibia is Africa’s Number One ****hole country.”

Namibia is not the only country to take advantage of Trump’s words.

According to the Wall Street Journal yesterday, “A Facebook page run by a marketing group promoting tourism in Zambia – famed for the Zambezi River that feeds the spectacular Victoria Falls – includes a slogan welcoming visitors to “****hole Zambia.”   “Where beautiful vistas and breathtaking wildlife are our Trump card!” says an accompanying post.

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FOR FUN!

Some entertaining posts on FaceBook . . .

 

BACKGROUND TO THE ZIMBABWE COUP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But it has.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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SSM, COA, SSA AND CCC

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

SSM = Same Sex Marriage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ACCUSATIONS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT

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

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

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

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

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

BACK TO REALITY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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BACK TO MORE REALITY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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NEW ZEALAND MAKES THE NEWS

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

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

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

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CENTENARIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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RUSSIAN REVOLUTION

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

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

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500th ANNIVERSARY OF PROTESTANT REFORMATION

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

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

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

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VISIT TO NOAH’S ARK

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

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

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

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

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FINALLY

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

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

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

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

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

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

BRITISH-ISRAEL’S CALL FOR A FAST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remember to pray for your country on this fast day.