Tag Archives: Australia

SUPER TUESDAY

States voting on Super TuesdayStates voting on Super Tuesday
ABC NEWS

California Triumph Keeps Sanders In The Running

Is Joe Biden the new Democratic frontrunner? It certainly seems that way, after the former vice president took a delegate lead over Bernie Sanders with a triumphant sweep of the southern Super Tuesday states, capped by a win in Texas.   Yet Sanders kept some of his momentum with victory in California, setting up what will likely be a long, drawn-out battle between the two wings of the party and their septuagenarian standard-bearers.

Elizabeth Warren – the Massachusetts Senator lost even her home state on Tuesday night, but remains in the race as of Wednesday morning – perhaps with a contested convention in mind.

Michael Bloomberg – the billionaire former New York mayor had planned to make a splash as he at last entered the race on Tuesday, on the back of a $500m ad spend. Instead he claimed just one small victory, in American Samoa.  (The Guardian, 3/4/2020)

Michael Bloomberg withdrew from the race later in the day.


TIME TO MOVE ON FROM OBAMA

He won them two presidential elections, but Democrats are increasingly ready to put President Barack Obama in their rear view, according to exit polls from the Super Tuesday slate of primaries, which showed a startling number of party faithful saying it’s time to move on.

Mr. Obama remains popular in the Deep South, where black voters play an outsized role in Democratic politics, but from Maine to Minnesota, voters said they are no longer thrilled with the man who brought them the first universal health care plan and flexed his executive pen to grant a deportation amnesty to “Dreamers,” to ink a deal with Iran and to commit the U.S. to curbing greenhouse gases.

Instead, the party’s heart now belongs to Sen. Bernard Sanders, the democratic socialist who won’t even call himself a Democrat but who has completely rewritten the party’s agenda.  (Washington Times, 3/4/2020)

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CORONAVIRUS – LESSONS FOR THE FUTURE

Fragile supply chains:    Decades of fine-tuning global manufacturing have given billions of people access to quality consumer goods at affordable prices.  That’s the upside of globalization.  But the same trend has concentrated production of important items in certain countries, creating new vulnerabilities.   For example, regions of China and broader Asia that produce most of the world’s smartphones have been forced to idle or cut manufacturing because of the outbreak.   The decline in Chinese factory activity has been so pronounced, it’s actually visible from space.   And US officials recently warned of drug shortages due to the shuttering of factories in China that make essential ingredients for some important medicines.

Fragile safety nets:    Well before the new virus emerged in China, an annual report by the World Health Organization warned that the chances of a global outbreak were rising and that the world was “not prepared for a fast-moving, virulent respiratory pathogen pandemic.”   It cited the usual problems – a lack of funding for public health monitoring and prevention, bureaucratic hurdles, and weak medical infrastructure, especially in poor and middle-income countries.   But it also warned of “a breakdown in public trust…exacerbated by misinformation that can hinder disease control communicated quickly and widely via social media.”   In the US, the safety net is further weakened by a lack of mandatory paid sick leave, which some people fear will compel sick people to show up at work, where they can infect colleagues and customers.   (Gzero World, 3/4/2020)

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RYANAIR BOSS CONDEMNS ‘HYSTERIA’ OVER CORONAVIRUS

The boss of Ryanair has condemned what he called “lunacy on social media” and “hysteria” in coverage of the coronavirus.

Speaking to Sky News, Michael O’Leary appealed for a calm and measured approach to the coronavirus outbreak and said “Let’s not have irrational panic measures.”  (The Week, 3/4/2020)

FlyBe became the first airline casualty of the virus, filing for bankruptcy on Wednesday.  FlyBe is a UK domestic airline.

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HOW THE EU RULES THE WORLD                                                                  The Brussels Effect:    How the European Union Rules the World

For many observers, the European Union is mired in a deep crisis. Between sluggish growth; political turmoil following a decade of austerity politics, Brexit, and the rise of Asian influence, the EU is seen as a declining power on the world stage.  Columbia Law professor Anu Bradford argues the opposite in her important new book The Brussels Effect:   the EU remains an influential superpower that shapes the world in its image.  By promulgating regulations that shape the international business environment, elevating standards worldwide, and leading to a notable Europeanization of many important aspects of global commerce, the EU has managed to shape policy in areas such as data privacy, consumer health and safety, environmental protection, antitrust, and online hate speech. And in contrast to how superpowers wield their global influence, the Brussels Effect – a phrase first coined by Bradford in 2012 – absolves the EU from playing a direct role in imposing standards, as market forces alone are often sufficient as multinational companies voluntarily extend the EU rule to govern their global operations.  The Brussels Effect shows how the EU has acquired such power, why multinational companies use EU standards as global standards, and why the EU’s role as the world’s regulator is likely to outlive its gradual economic decline, extending the EU’s influence long into the future.

(https://www.amazon.com/Brussels-Effect-European-Union-Rules-ebook/dp/B0822VCYFY)

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GERMAN ARMS SALES BOOM

Düsseldorf’s Rheinmetall arms manufacturer is enjoying a sumptuous upswing in sales for its arms sector and a record-breaking number of contracts.   Whereas the company’s automotive sector is marking a downswing in sales, in comparison to last year, due to 2019’s signs of weakness in the overall auto industry, the current boom in armaments is more than compensating.   The shareholders are “delighted,” boasts stock exchange reports.   At Rheinmetall, there is talk of a “‘super cycle’ in the company’s military sector.”   Western governments – the company’s current and potential customers – are engaged in a massive arms buildup. Whereas this year’s military budget for the Bundeswehr will be increased to €45.1 billion – nearly 40 percent more than it was in 2014 – the military budgets of the European countries together will be more than €300 billion.   The US military budget is more than US $700 billion.   Rheinmetall is benefiting also from the Arab countries’ arms buildups against Iran, but above all, from the buildup of the western world against Russia and China.    (German Foreign Policy, 3/3/2020)

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DRONES REVOLUTIONIZING WARFARE                                          Turkish Drones Revolutionize Warfare in Syria, Seth J. Frantzman (Jerusalem Post)

Footage of numerous Turkish drone strikes in Idlib reveal their groundbreaking and effective use against Syrian regime defenses and armored vehicle formations.   Turkey can’t fly its air force in Idlib due to an apparent ban by Russia and the Syrian regime.   But Turkish drones can fly.
  Video feeds show drones striking columns of infantry and armored vehicles near Idlib.
   Turkey’s widespread use of drones in Idlib may be one of the largest concentrations of drones ever used in this manner.   (Jerusalem Post, 3/3/2020)

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SDA’S AND ROME WORKING TOGETHER                                      Seventh-day Adventists, Roman Catholics and Evangelicals Sign a Historic ‘Ecumenical Charter’ that Affirms Faith in ‘One, Holy, Catholic Apostolic Church’

The document that was signed is a pledge of commitment to each other. Adventists pledged a commitment to Rome, and Rome reciprocated that commitment.   Make no mistake.   The churches that signed this document promised to uphold the principles of the Ecumenical Charter which includes affirming an allegiance to each other.

The Ecumenical Charter declares that the church is “one, holy, catholic and apostolic” and therefore the “inescapable ecumenical task consists in making visible this unity.”

The Ecumenical Charter declares that the churches are “called together in the unity of faith.”

The Ecumenical Charter calls for the “visible unity of the Church of Jesus Christ in the one faith and in witness and in common service.”

The Ecumenical Charter says that “the most important task of the Churches is to proclaim the Gospel together through word and action, for the salvation of all human beings.”  (AdventMessenger, 3/4/2020)

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TO THE POINT

  • America’s ​Federal Reserve lowered its benchmark interest rate by half a percentage point, the largest single cut since the financial crisis.   The move came after a pledge by finance ministers and central bankers from the G7, a group of the world’s biggest rich countries, to “use all appropriate policy tools” to combat the economic downturn caused by the spread of covid-19.   President Donald Trump recently repeated his complaint that Fed rates were too high.   (The Economist, 3/4/2020)
  • The World Bank pledged up to $12bn to help developing countries respond to the growing threat of covid-19.   The announcement came just after the World Health Organisation said the disease’s global mortality rate is 3.4%.   The World Bank’s aid will include a mix of grants, loans and other technical assistance, with priority given to the world’s poorest countries. (The Economist, 3/4/2020)
  • SUPPORT FOR ANTI-EU PARTIES ‘DOUBLES IN 20 YEARS’ – The vote share for anti-EU parties has more than doubled in two decades, according to research conducted by academic experts in populism.   The study found that since 1992, the first year in which there were free and fair elections in every country currently a member of the bloc, combined support for European far-right, far-left and other Eurosceptic parties has surged from 15% to almost 35%.   (The Week, 3/4/2020)
  • Lebanese Preacher:   The Muslims Will Kill The Jews, Who Will Hide Behind Rocks And Trees, The Jews Are The Most Cowardly Of Allah’s Creations; Jerusalem Friday Sermon: It Is The Religious Obligation Of Muslims To Bear Animosity Against The Jews  (MEMRI, 3/4/2020)
  • Indian migrants are driving a surge in citizenship as a record 211,723 people won the right to call Australia home in 2019.  (The Australian, 2/20/2020)
  • Last week, I reviewed the book “The Race to save the Romanovs.” In my review I mentioned that support for the restoration of the monarchy in Russia is at 28%.  That’s roughly the same percentage of votes any American president gets.   54.9% voted in 2016, which gave each candidate roughly 27%.  Bill Clinton was voted into office with a mere 22% of the vote.
  • With 36 seats, Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party will be the largest in Israel’s next Knesset.   Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White alliance won 32.   But with Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition still two seats shy of a majority, and his trial on charges of bribery and fraud due to begin on March 17th, his troubles are not over yet.   (The Economist, 3/4/2020)

 

SLAVERY NOT A CRIME

Overview of domestic legislation prohibiting human exploitation.  Many of the 193 U.N. member states have not gone on to explicitly criminalise slavery and other exploitation.  Researchers noted that almost all countries had some form of domestic anti-trafficking legislation in place.   Image: Katarina Schwarz and Jean Allain

Slavery is not a crime for almost half the countries in the world.  Although laws allowing slavery have been scrapped worldwide, many of the 193 U.N. member states have not gone on to explicitly criminalise slavery.                                                                                                                                     by Sonia Elks | @SoniaElks | Thomson Reuters Foundation, 12 Feb 2020

“Slavery is far from being illegal everywhere and we hope our research will move the conversation beyond this popular myth,” said Katarina Schwarz, a researcher at the University of Nottingham’s Rights Lab, which led work on the slavery database.

“It will surprise many people to learn that in all of these countries there are no criminal laws in place to prosecute, convict and punish people for subjecting people to the most extreme forms of exploitation.”   More than 40 million people are held in modern slavery, which includes forced labor and forced marriage, according to estimates by the International Labour Organization and the anti-slavery group the Walk Free Foundation.

There is no criminal law against slavery in 94 countries – almost half of U.N. states – said researchers at Rights Lab, which reviewed the study’s findings with the Castan Centre for Human Rights at Monash University in Australia.   It found almost two thirds of countries apparently failed to criminalize any of the main four practices associated with slavery – serfdom, debt bondage, forced marriage, and child trafficking – except in the context of human trafficking.

“Slavery in its nature looks to exploit people who fall slightly outside the rule of law,” Jakub Sobik, a spokesman for the charity Anti-Slavery International told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.  “There is a need for wide-ranging policies that address the wider context and systemic reasons why people are made vulnerable to being tricked and trapped and controlled by another person.”  (http://news.trust.org/item/20200212132545-vdpzu)

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GM PULLS OUT OF AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND, THAILAND

General Motors has been in Australia since 1856 when it first sold saddles to Australians.   In the 1960’s and 70’s they produced Holden cars, a popular brand that really caught on.  Now, they are selling up and moving out.   The big benefactor?

China.

It’s symbolic of what’s happening to American capitalism.  The US is losing out to competitors, especially the Chinese.

And it’s not just cars.   In the same week, President Duterte of the Philippines tore up the defense treaty with the US, preferring Beijing over Washington.   One reason may be Duterte’s stance on human rights, which has led to criticism from Americans.   China doesn’t care about human rights.

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CORONAVIRUS “MADE IN CHINA”

The Chinese Communist Party calls it “discourse management.”  It’s more than mere censorship and bigger than propaganda.   And Beijing is pretty good at it.   The party uses it to control its own people, but also to manage foreign governments.

Take the new coronavirus, for instance.   It may be a made-in-China global pandemic, and China might have bungled its handling of it, but that’s somehow irrelevant and China’s government says it’s “unhappy” with Australia.   Come again?

The outbreak is classified by the World Health Organization as a global health emergency.   It was created in China, of course.   The consensus among virologists is that the likely cause was the Chinese authorities’ persistent tolerance of unsafe animal and food handling practices.

After the 2003 outbreak of a novel coronavirus, the SARS epidemic, the Chinese government banned all trade in wild animals.  Once the crisis had passed, the authorities relaxed the ban, announcing 54 types of exemption.   In other words, it was going to happen again one day.   Then, once this outbreak was discovered, the Chinese authorities seriously mismanaged it.   This is now the subject of frenetic blame-shifting inside China.

When the first cases started turning up in the city of Wuhan in mid-December, two weeks before the official disclosure on December 31 that there was a new virus, sick people were turned away from local hospitals and sent home to infect other people and die.  The hospitals were told to report “zero infections.”

Why?   Because an important meeting of provincial and city officials was under way in Wuhan and only good news was permitted.   The cover-ups and delays were “reprehensible” according to an eminent Australian virologist, John Mackenzie.      (Peter Hartcher, Sydney Morning Herald, 2/18/2020)

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GOG AND MAGOG  — COULD RUSSIA ATTACK ISRAEL?

Russia’s ambassador to Syria this week issued what some saw as a veiled threat should Israel continue bombing Iranian assets in the war-torn country.

On February 6, an aerial attack on a target near Damascus killed 20 Syrian and Iranian military officials.   It also caused Syrian air defenses to inadvertently fire on an airplane carrying 172 passengers.   The plane managed to safely land at a nearby airport.

Israel Defense Minister Naftali Bennett later hinted that the attack was just another in a long series of Israeli strikes against Iranian assets that are admittedly in Syria for the purpose of threatening the Jewish state.

But Russian Ambassador Alexander Yefimov wasn’t interested in Israeli justifications.

In an interview with Sputnik Arabic, Yefimov called the Israeli raids “provocative and very dangerous.”   He further cautioned that “this increases the possibility of conflict over Syria.”

Since Syria is already in conflict, his warning was taken to mean that the ongoing Israeli raids could eventually result in an armed clash between the Jewish state and Russian forces in the region.

Israeli political and military officials have never been shy about referencing the biblical “War of Gog and Magog.”   It’s something they believe is going to happen.  (Israel Today, 2/17)

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GERMAN CRITICISM OF US BREAKING INTERNATIONAL LAW

In reference to the US drone-murder of Iran’s General Qassem Suleimani, German government advisors are warning against a growing number of violations of international law by the United States.   For years, “the foreign policy of the Trump administration has demonstrated that it has been a particular strain on international law,” observes an analysis published by Berlin’s German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP).  Suleimani’s murder suggests that Washington is now beginning to extend its “war on terror” tactics, that had already become common-place under President Barack Obama – such as drone-murders – to leading representatives of foreign nations, it considers to be “a threat.”  In the future, “state representatives should fear for their lives, when they travel outside their country,” because “the consequences for international diplomacy are hardly predictable.”  The SWP advises the German government to take a clear stand.  Of course, in its attempts to implement its globalist policies over the past few decades, Berlin, too, has repeatedly violated international law, often as an accomplice of the USA.    (German Foreign Policy, 1/28)

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Watch Israel’s new laser weapon shoot drones out of sky                   by Yaron Steinbuch, 12 Feb 2020

An Israeli drone defense system fit for “Star Wars” has shot down multiple maneuvering targets with a high-powered laser beam, according to reports.   “The system achieved 100 percent success in all test scenarios,” defense technology company Rafael said in a statement about its Drone Dome C-UAS, or Counter-Unmanned Aerial System, the Times of Israel reported.   “The stages of the interception included target detection, identification and interception” with the laser beam, it said in a video of a recent demo of the system.   In the footage, a vehicle-mounted system is shown engaging the targets, including zigzagging drones.   In one test, three drones flying in formation were downed in rapid succession.  “Drone Dome is designed to address threats posed by hostile drones both in military and civilian sites,” Rafael said.

Drone Dome refers to a package that includes a search radar, drone radio command detector, an electro-optical sensor, and command-and-control system, according to Popular Mechanics.  The system can detect objects as small as 0.021 square feet at 2.1 miles.  Once detected, it locks onto the drone, keeping it in its cross hairs as it maneuvers in any direction.   When the laser is blasted, it melts away the drone’s plastic housing and destroys its electronics, sending it to the ground.     (https://nypost.com/2020/02/12/watch-israels-wild-new-laser-weapon-shoot-drones-out-of-sky/)

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 Munich Security Conference:  France’s Macron envisions new era of European strength                                                                                                  The French president projected a vision of a Europe with new military power at the Munich Security Conference.   As the only nuclear power in the EU, he also foresaw greater European sovereignty.

“We cannot always go through the United States, no, we have to think in a European way as well,” French President Emmanuel Macron said on stage at the Munich Security Conference (MSC) on Saturday as he continued a theme of his presidency: projecting bold European sovereignty onto the international stage.

He was referring specifically to Europe’s nuclear assets, pointing out a key difference to the Cold War era when Europe’s nuclear shield was primarily coordinated by the US.   “Now we have to be able to say clearly that if we want a sovereign Europe, if we want to protect our citizens, then we do need to look at that aspect, also with a view to Germany,” he said.   To show his commitment, Macron has already invited Germany to take part in a strategic dialogue over France’s nuclear weapon policy.

The UK’s exit from the European Union has shifted added responsibility onto France.   Though the UK and France are of course still NATO partners, along with the US and Germany, France is now the only nuclear power in the EU, which leaves the Paris government balancing its nuclear defense strategy between, as Macron put it, “the ambitions of NATO and Europe.” (Deutsche Welle, 15 Feb, 2020)  (– Extract from:  (https://www.dw.com/en/munich-security-conference-frances-macron-envisions-new-era-of-european-strength/a-52389586)

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Munich Security Conference:   African leaders absent from Sahel talks
Germany and other world powers meeting in Munich raised concerns about the deteriorating security situation in the Sahel region.  But African heads of state who had been invited were conspicuously absent.

Not a single head of state from the continent attended, despite the growing threat of terrorism and the armed conflicts tearing it apart.

A report by Save the Children, published as world leaders convened in Munich, Germany, said at least 95,000 children had been killed or maimed across the world since 2005.  Tens of thousands were abducted and millions were denied access to education.

Germany makes a case for the Sahel:   In the absence of African leaders, to bring the matter to the table, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer called for an increased effort in the fight against Islamists in Africa.   “The Sahel is a key region for Europe, for example, when it comes to migration or the threat of terrorism,” she said, adding:   “That is why it is so important that Germany remains committed there, militarily as well.”  Kramp-Karrenbauer’s statement was encouraging to the Central African Republic’s defense minister, Marie-Noelle Koyara.   “I take this opportunity to thank the German government for making such a wise decision,” the CAR defense minister told DW.

African children were the worst affected, according to Save the Children.   Some 170 million across Africa and the Middle East are living in war zones.  “You will see that most of the violent conflicts do not feature,” Dan Smith, director of SIPRI, an international think tank dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control, and disarmament, told DW.

Smith is disappointed the international community is not paying attention to the crisis unfolding in Africa.

“They (Africans) are not part of the thinking of the security community that is gathered here,” Smith adds.  “That doesn’t mean that this community’s concerns are irrelevant, but they’re not focused on the Sahel; they are not focused on the Horn of Africa.”(https://www.dw.com/en/munich-security-conference-african-leaders-absent-from-sahel-talks/a-52398078)

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 EU’s Franco-German axis will stutter without the Brits, says Vestager
“I think we will see a new dynamic in the union, but it will take some time before we fully recover,” the EU competition and digital chief said.            by Simon Van Dorpe, Politico.eu, 30 Jan 2020

France and Germany will struggle to drive the EU without the British “energy” that helped Paris and Berlin work together, EU competition and digital chief Margrethe Vestager said today.  “One of the things we will be missing is of course the energy.   Because we have a French-German axis – but part of the energy to make that axis work comes from, came from, the U.K.,” Vestager said when asked what she would miss about Britain.    Vestager said that other member countries, “maybe changing coalitions of member states,” would have to step into that void.  “I think we will see a new dynamic in the union, but it will take some time before we fully recover,” she said. Vestager attended the Brexit vote in the parliament on Wednesday, which she said was “really touching because you see it is real.”  Vestager also said she would miss the sense of humor of the Brits, which she said was similar to the Danish.

“I was very close to [former U.K. Commissioner] Jonathan Hill; I was sitting next to [Hill’s successor] Julian King when he was the Commissioner here and I miss them, because they come with a U.K. culture,” she said.   She told an anecdote of how she struggled to communicate in English at the start of her first mandate and when she asked Hill if he didn’t find it exhausting how the other commissioners treated his language, he said: “Of course not, I’m so honored that you’re all trying.”
(https://www.politico.eu/article/eus-franco-german-axis-will-stutter-without-the-brits-says-vestager/)

Brexit punches 12-bln-euro hole in EU finances
by Agence France-Presse, 30 Jan, 2020

Brussels – When Britain leaves the European Union at midnight on Friday the bloc will lose the second-biggest net contributor to its budget, leaving a 12-billion-euro ($13-billion) hole in its finances.  The United Kingdom will continue making budget contributions this year under an agreed post-Brexit transition period.   But from 2021 Europe will have to look elsewhere.  This further complicates an already fraught debate between the remaining member states over the EU’s 2021-2027 long-term budget, called the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).   The European Commission has had a proposed MFF on the table since May 2018, and its new president Ursula von der Leyen is keen to get it approved soon.   But a so-called “Frugal Five” of wealthy mainly northern countries — Austria, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden — are seeking to limit EU expenditure.   And a rival “Friends of Cohesion” group of 16 eastern and Mediterranean countries wants to defend the budget rules.

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Frustrated by liberal policies, some Oregon residents petitioned to leave the state – by moving the border with Idaho westward.

The movement secured initial approval from two counties and aims to get enough signatures to put the proposal on ballots in November, according to the group called Greater Idaho.  If the group succeeds, voters in southeast Oregon may see a question on whether their county should become part of Idaho by redrawing the border.   “Rural counties have become increasingly outraged by laws coming out of the Oregon Legislature that threaten our livelihoods, our industries, our wallet, our gun rights, and our values,” Mike McCarter, one of the chief petitioners, said in a news release. “We tried voting those legislators out, but rural Oregon is outnumbered and our voices are now ignored.  This is our last resort.” (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/02/17/oregon-idaho-border-petition-secede/4789936002/)

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TO THE POINT

  • After a five-month delay, Afghanistan’s electoral commission named Ashraf Ghani as the winner of the country’s presidential election.   The result was delayed after supporters of Mr. Ghani’s leading challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, accused the commission of bias and threatened to form a parallel government.  The victory gives Mr. Ghani a second five-year term as president.  (The Economist 2/19/2020)
  • Three of Britain’s remaining overseas territories are under constant threat from Spain (Gibraltar), Argentina (Falkland Islands) and Mauritius (Diego Garcia, home of a big US naval base in the Indian Ocean).   Vladimir Putin, soon to be proclaimed dictator of Russia, has given his support to Argentina’s claim on the Falklands.   At one time, the three territories would have had nothing to fear as they would have been protected by the Royal Navy.   Not any more – Italy’s navy is now bigger than Britain’s.  Quite a comedown for what was the world’s greatest navy before World War II.   The navy is not even going to be big enough to stop Europeans fishing in British waters, post-Brexit.
  • The British government announced the first details of its post-Brexit plans for immigration policy.  It promised that there would be no more visas for low-skilled workers and no freedom of movement between Britain and the rest of the European Union.  Visa applications will instead be judged on a “points-based” immigration system.  (The Economist 2/19/2020)
  • German man leaves €7 million fortune to far-right AfDAn engineer who died in 2018 has donated his entire estate of gold, property and patents  to the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. The endowment is one of the largest ever given to a German political party.
  • A locust plague which has now reached coronavirus-struck China may be the “fifth trumpet” prophesied in the Book of Revelation, according to wild claims.  (https://www.express.co.uk/news/weird/1243557/locast-swarm-china-coronavirus-book-revelation-seventh-seal-trumpet-jesus-christ-god-)

CONSERVATIVES WIN LANDSLIDE IN UK

Johnson, pictured on the final day of campaigning, ran a campaign dominated by the promise to take the UK out of the EU (Reuters)

Once again, pollsters were wrong.   And once again, conservatives benefitted.

The vote was supposed to be close.   There was a lot of talk of a “hung” parliament, where there’s not enough seats to give any party a majority.   This would have been the worst outcome.   As it was, the Conservatives won, as they did in Australia earlier in the year; and in the 2016 US election when every prediction was that Hillary Clinton would be president.

It seems that people do not answer pollsters truthfully.   Perhaps it’s because people are embarrassed to say they are Conservative, but vote with their wallets on election day.   Margaret Thatcher won every time and that was the explanation.   Well, whatever the reason, Boris Johnson won a landslide, the biggest vote for the Conservatives since Mrs. Thatcher in the 80s.

My home town of Grimsby, in the North of England, returned a Conservative MP for the first time in my lifetime.   Others did the same.   Partly, this was disillusionment with the Labor Party (socialists), who have promised much over the years, but delivered little.   This time, according to analysis on Sky News, they promised 28 times as much as the Conservatives, an amount of money that would have been impossible to deliver.

But the main issue was Brexit.  The Conservatives had a definite plan to get out of the European Union by January 31st.   Labour’s plan was more negotiations with the EU, then a second referendum.   There was a referendum in 2016 and those wanting to leave won.   The experience of the last few years has been that many politicians refused to honor the referendum result.  None of them were returned in last week’s election.

It’s the same with Scotland.   A referendum there in 2014 showed the majority of Scots wanting to remain in the United Kingdom.   But Mrs. Nicola Sturgeon refuses to accept that result and wants a second referendum.   If successful, would she allow a third referendum seven years later when disillusionment with the reality of independence sets in?   Doubtful.   The Scottish people are subsidized by the English taxpayer to the tune of almost 2,000 pounds a year per person.   Independence must mean a drop in living standards.   Her hope is that Germany will help.   But Germany is going to have to bail out everybody in Europe now that Britain is leaving.

However, the issue of Scottish independence is not going away.  Boris Johnson has pledged to preserve the union, but even he is going to find that hard.

It’s not just Scotland, either.   Northern Ireland presents another problem.   For the first time ever, there are more Republican MPs from that region.   The Unionists lost out for the first time.   The Irish Republicans (who favor a united socialist Ireland) will be demanding independence at the same time as the Scots.   If either breaks away, British security will be compromised.   The UK’s nuclear base is in Clyde on the Scottish west coast.  There’s also a big military presence in Northern Ireland.

But Brexit is first.   Mr. Johnson has promised to deliver by the end of next month.   There is no impediment in his way.   There will follow eleven months of negotiations with the EU on a trade deal.   The Europeans say that is impossible, it will take at least two years.   With the election, power has shifted.   The Europeans will have to deliver a trade deal by the end of 2020 if they want to keep British trade, and they will want to.   The German car industry relies on Britain for 20% of its sales.   They are not going to throw that away for the sake of teaching Britain a lesson.

The election result should benefit the US, too.   Mr. Johnson has a personal friendship with Mr. Trump.   Both were born in New York City.   Both are known for their hair.   And both are against globalism, preferring to put their country first.

The trend against pollsters may prove the same in 2020, when Donald Trump faces who knows who for the Democrats.   In spite of impeachment (which isn’t going anywhere and seems solely to benefit hundreds of lawyers, all billing the taxpayer) and opinion polls that will show him losing to Elizabeth Buttagieg, or Bernie Biden, Donald Trump is most likely to win.   The longer the impeachment process continues, the more support he has.

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Could Scotland leave the UK . . . and stay in the EU?                                   by Philip Sim, BBC Scotland political reporter, “Would Scots vote for independence?”  18 Dec 2019

This is the big question – after all Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t just want to hold  a referendum, she wants to win one.

Polling data collected by What Scotland Thinks suggests an increase in support for independence – but it generally remains just short of a majority.   Excluding “don’t knows,” the average of polls this year has been 51% No to 49% Yes.   The average for 2018 was 55% to 45% – the same as the 2014 referendum.

Would an independent Scotland stay in the EU?   In practice, Scotland would not become independent the day after a Yes vote – there would have to be a period of transition.    In 2014, the pro-independence side said it would take 18 months to set up an independent Scottish state.   Even if a referendum was held tomorrow, the transition would therefore run beyond the end of 2020 – when the UK is due to complete its exit from the EU.   This means Scotland would leave the EU with the rest of the UK, and would need to apply to join again.

Scotland would have to jump through the same hoops as any state seeking to join the EU, although it would have the advantage of having recently been a member.

Sturgeon’s own party’s prospectus for independence suggests this could take several years, whereas she wants to rejoin the EU as quickly as possible.   The first minister also wants to avoid a hard border between Scotland and England.

(https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-50813510)

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TRUMP AND NATO

The Senate foreign relations committee has voted unanimously in favor of a bipartisan bill that would prevent Trump from unilaterally withdrawing the US from Nato.   The isolationist-inclined president is a noted sceptic of the transatlantic military alliance, and last week left the Nato summit in London early after the emergence of a hot mic video in which other world leaders appeared to be mocking him. The bill will now await a slot for a full vote in the Senate.   (The Guardian, 12/12)

The largest arms producers in the USA and Western Europe, including German companies, have further increased their already predominant share of global arms production, as can be seen in the analysis published yesterday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute SIPRI.   SIPRI analyzed the sales of the world’s Top 100 arms-producers and concluded that 83 percent of their output comes from 70 companies headquartered in countries of the self-proclaimed community of western values.   Whereas the combined sales of the Top 100 arms companies have increased by 4.6 percent, compared to the preceding year, those of the US and West European companies have increased by around 5.2 percent.

Currently the production of military hardware is also massively expanding in Germany.   The armaments division of the Düsseldorf-based Rheinmetall Group was able to boost its sales by 11.8 percent in the first nine months of this year.   The increase of defense budget is promising business in the billions.   German arms exports are also rising dramatically.   (German Foreign Policy, 12/11)

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A 5,000-Year-Old Plan to Erase Debts Is Now a Hot Topic in America                                                                                                                                  In ancient Babylon, a newly enthroned king would declare a jubilee, wiping out the population’s debts.  In modern America, a faint echo of that idea call it jubilee-lite, is catching on.  (Bloomberg, 10 Dec 2019)

Support for write-offs has been driven by Democratic presidential candidates.   Elizabeth Warren says she’d cancel most of the $1.6 trillion in U.S. student loans.   Bernie Sanders would go further -– erasing the whole lot, as well as $81 billion in medical debt.   But it’s coming from other directions too.   In October, one of the Trump administration’s senior student-loan officials resigned, calling for wholesale write-offs and describing the American way of paying for higher education as “nuts.’’    Real-estate firm Zillow cites medical and college liabilities as major hurdles for would-be renters and home buyers.

Moody’s Investors Service listed the headwinds from student debt -– less consumption and investment, more inequality — and said forgiveness would boost the economy like a tax cut.   While the current debate centers on college costs, long-run numbers show how debt has spread through the economy.   The U.S. relies on consumer spending for growth -– but it hasn’t been delivering significantly higher wages.   Household borrowing has filled the gap, with low interest rates making it affordable.   And that’s not unique to America.   Steadily growing debts of one kind or another are weighing on economies all over the world.

The idea that debt can grow faster than the ability to repay, until it unbalances a society, was well understood thousands of years ago, according to Michael Hudson, an economist and historian.   Last year Hudson published “And Forgive Them Their Debts,’’ a study of the ancient Near East where the tradition known as a “jubilee” — wiping the debt-slate clean — has its roots.   He describes how the practice spread through civilizations including Sumer and Babylon, and came to play an important role in the Bible and Jewish law.   Rulers weren’t motivated by charity, Hudson says.   They were being pragmatic — trying to make sure that citizens could meet their own needs and contribute to public projects, instead of just laboring to pay creditors.   And it worked, he says. “Societies that canceled the debts enjoyed stable growth for thousands of years.’’

Forgiveness was good for the economy, would be a modern way of putting it. In an October paper, Moody’s examined how that might apply if America writes off its student debts. (12/10/2019 (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/5-000-old-plan-erase-100000406.html)

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NIGERIAN MONKEYPOX IN ENGLAND                        

A rare viral infection known as monkeypox has been diagnosed in England.   The virus likely was contracted by a person in Nigeria.

Monkeypox could replace smallpox as a most dreaded disease.   The related smallpox virus was eradicated in 1980, thanks to Western technology.   (White people are often condemned for spreading smallpox, but seldom credited with destroying the virus worldwide.)

Open borders allow infected individuals from African nations to invade Western nations.  (Daily Kenn, 12/14/2019)

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A UNITED AFRICA

We Want A United States Of Africa — says Julius Malema
by SG Editor, 16 Dec 2019, iAfrica.com

JOHANNESBURG – Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema on Sunday spelled out the party’s ambitious vision to lead the entire African continent to economic freedom.   Speaking at the party’s second national people’s assembly in Nasrec, south of Johannesburg, Malema explained that it was only natural that economic freedom came from the south.  The gathering was expected to come to an end on Monday.

Governing South Africa may have appeared to be a tall order for the EFF, but this was just one dream that formed part of even bolder ambitions.   Malema wants the six-year-old organisation to have a presence everywhere on the continent.   “Our vision is not these small-minded things you’re thinking about; we want to lead Africa. We want a United States of Africa with one currency, economy, and judiciary,” Malema said.

The party’s vision appeared to be inspired by late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi who dreamt of a United States of Africa.   This plan could well be underway with formations from Liberia, Malawi, and Namibia who were among the guests attending the second people’s assembly in Nasrec.
(https://www.iafrica.com/we-want-a-united-states-of-africa-malema/)

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TO THE POINT

  • Authorities in Australia warned that a “mega-blaze” was threatening the north-western suburbs of Sydney.   Covering about 400,000 hectares, the bushfire has already destroyed over 20 homes and is moving into the Blue Mountains area, a popular tourist destination.   A heatwave is not helping; the Bureau of Meteorology advised that the record for the highest-ever temperature could be broken this week.  (The Economist, 12/17)
  • America’s defence secretary said he needs to speak with his Turkish counterpart about remarks made by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.   On Sunday Mr. Erdogan issued a new threat:   that it may shut down America’s Incirlik air base in eastern Anatolia.   A worsening chill between the two NATO allies has made America jittery about the nuclear warheads it stores there.   (The Economist, 12/17)
  • Chief Advisor To Turkish President Erdoğan:   ‘The Islamic World Should Prepare An Army For Palestine From Outside Palestine’ (MEMRI 12/2)
  • A special court in Pakistan has sentenced former military leader Pervez Musharraf to death on charges of treason and subversion of the constitution.   Mr. Musharraf seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999 and ruled until 2008.   The sentence was largely seen as symbolic, as the former leader is currently in exile in Dubai.   (The Economist, 12/17)
  • Protests in India, against a citizenship law designed to exclude Muslims from naturalisation, escalated in their fifth day.   In Delhi police clashed with protesters around a Muslim university; at least 100 were injured and buses were set on fire.   Other campuses around the country erupted in anger. In India’s north-east, where immigration is generally opposed, six people have been killed.   (The Economist, 12/16)
  • Chief Advisor To Turkish President Erdoğan:   ‘The Islamic World Should Prepare An Army For Palestine From Outside Palestine’ (MEMRI 12/2)
  • 65 of Britain’s MPs returned to the House of Commons last week are minorities.   That’s 10%.   Take away the 59 Scots, and the percentage will increase to almost 20%.   There were none a little over twenty years ago.  This reflects Britain’s changing demographics, the result of massive immigration from the underdeveloped world since World War II.
  • I watched the British election on Sky News, a British 24/7 news channel available on “Watch Free”, a US streaming service.   A day or two later, I was surprised to read that only 46, 000 people watched the election on Sky.  The news company spent a small fortune on John Bercow, controversial former Speaker of the House of Commons, a commentator for the evening, who seemed to spend most of his time justifying his performance as Speaker.

ZIMBABWE NEAR COLLAPSE

A woman waits to buy gas at a service station in Harare, Zimbabwe, July 16, 2019. (Reuters)

There’s so much happening right now, it’s difficult to know where to begin.

Zimbabwe’s economy is, once again, near collapse.  Electricity is available only six hours a day, usually at night, which means that cooking meals and ironing a shirt can only be done in the middle of the night.  Food is once again scarce and prices high.

It’s hard to believe that, forty years ago, everything was in plentiful supply.   In fact, the country exported food, feeding much of Africa. But that was before independence.

Coincidentally, I’m wearing a T-shirt my wife bought me. Emblazened across the front are the words: ‘Rhodesia was super.”   “Rhodesia is super” was the slogan of the Rhodesian tourist industry four decades ago.

It certainly was.

Like all countries, it had its faults.   But what replaced it has been a miserable failure due, primarily, to bad government.

May God speed the day when change, real change, will come!

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RAMPANT INJUSTICE

Boris Johnson promised 20,000 more police to combat Britain’s horrendous crime wave.

This followed the murder of a 28-year-old newly married policeman. He was murdered by a screwdriver and dragged a considerable distance under a car.   Ten 13-30-year-olds were questioned about the murder.   A 20-year-old man has been charged.

There were over 31,000 violent assaults on policemen in the UK last year, up from 26,000 the previous year.

I can still remember when a violent attack on a policeman was a very rare event.   This is clearly not the case any more.   In a country where guns are rare, machetes and knives are often used in violent acts.   The machete is a recent addition, being brought in from Africa by immigrants.

There’s not much hope of a real national discussion on the crime wave.   There’s a definite need for one.   But it would be pointless without freedom of speech.   One factor is the gang warfare that plagues the big cities.   Most of these are ethnic, but you can’t mention that.   The restoration of free speech is a must, for any serious discussion on anything.

Now that the UK is leaving the EU, they will have the freedom to restore the death penalty, banned throughout the European Union.   The murders of policeman and of children are particularly heinous and should receive the maximum possible sentence.  They need to be put on trial and sentenced quickly

“When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, people’s hearts are filled with schemes to do wrong.”  (Ecclesiastes 8:11 NIV)

Over fifty years ago, there was compulsory Christian education in schools.   That needs to be restored, too.   All children should be taught the ten commandments.

In the US, in the same week, it was announced that there have been nine police suicides in the NYPD this year, highlighting a serious problem across the nation.

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TLAIB TALKS NONSENSE, AGAIN

“U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib said Monday Israel’s decision to prohibit her and another Muslim member of congress from visiting the West Bank this week had “nothing to do” with their itinerary but with silencing critics of the occupation of Palestine.

“I think the focus is on hiding the truth,” Tlaib, a Democrat from Detroit, said at a news conference in St. Paul with US Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Israel is, and likely will always be, the most liberal, open and pluralistic society in the Middle East.

The 22 members of the Arab League are all dictatorships, of one sort or another.

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AFGHANISTAN @100

Afghanistan celebrated 100 years of independence last week, August 19th.

The country was never a colony but did have a protected status, short of complete self-rule.

After three wars against the Afghans, the British had had enough.   The country has seen off many conquerors over the centuries, giving it the well-earned moniker:  “the graveyard of empires.”   In recent years, the Russians were defeated (1989) and now it’s America’s turn.   When the US withdraws, the most likely outcome is that the Taliban will take over; or even ISIS.

America should be careful withdrawing.   In January 1842, one lone British doctor was the only person left alive after a massacre of 16,000 Anglo-Indian troops in the Khyber Pass.   They left the one man alive to tell others what happened.

America today has 14,000 troops remaining.   Other members of the Coalition have already left.

The set-back in Afghanistan is part of a regional trend of lost influence and reduced power.   From Australia comes the following: “The US is so weakened in the Indo-Pacific region, it could now lose a short, sharp conflict started by Beijing in just “hours,” up-ending the military order in our region.

Furthermore, Australia is no longer able to rely on Washington to come to its defense.

That’s the conclusion of a blunt new report that found years of spending cuts, an “outdated superpower mindset” and ageing equipment mean US military installations in the region are vulnerable to being wiped out by China in a surprise battle.

“The stakes could not be higher,” the analysis by the University of Sydney’s United States Studies Centre warned.”   (“US so weakened in Indo-Pacific it could now “lose war to China,” news.com,au 8/21)

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NATO STRENGTHENS TIES WITH AUSTRALIA

(Own report) – NATO continues to intensify its cooperation with Australia.   This is the result of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s talks in the Australian capital in the middle of last week.   According to Stoltenberg, the cooperation is aimed particularly at taking a stance in the growing rivalry between the major powers – against Russia, but above all, against China.   For several years, Germany has been accompanying NATO’s cooperation with Canberra, by enhancing its own bilateral military cooperation, explicitly considering Australia to be a “strategic springboard into the Asian-Pacific region.”

Currently tensions are threatening to escalate because Washington would like to deploy intermediate-range missiles in Australia, which could directly hit Chinese territory.   Strategists are increasingly pushing NATO to intensify its activities in the Asian-Pacific.   These could even develop into the warfare alliance’s key task, according to the president of the Federal College for Security Studies in Berlin. (German Foreign Policy, 8/20)

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TRUMP UPSETS DENMARK

President Trump on Monday offered to buy Greenland, an autonomous province of the Kingdom of Denmark.

The Danish prime minister thought the suggestion “absurd”.  So President Trump has canceled his visit to the country.

It’s not the first time that the US has offered money for the Danish island.  It was offered first in 1946.

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GERMANY IN RECESSION

Germany, Europe’s industrial powerhouse and biggest economy, with companies like Volkswagen, Siemens and BASF, may be entering a recession, according to a gloomy report from the country’s central bank Monday — a development that could have repercussions for the rest of the eurozone and the United States.

A technical recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth, and Germany saw a 0.1% drop in the April-to-June period. In its monthly report, the Bundesbank said that with falling industrial production and orders, it appears the slump is continuing during the July-to-September quarter.

“The overall economic performance could decline slightly once again,” it said. “Central to this is the ongoing downturn in industry.”

Deutsche Bank went further Monday, saying “we see Germany in a technical recession” and predicting a 0.25% drop in economic output this quarter.

Germany’s economy is heavily dependent on exports, and the Bundesbank said the trade conflict between the U.S. and China and uncertainty about Britain’s move to leave the European Union have been taking their toll. Both the U.S. and China are among Germany’s top trade partners, with Britain not far behind.    (“Wide implications as Germany teeters toward recession,” A.P., 8/20)

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BAD NEWS FOR GERMANY’S ECONOMY MIGHT BE GOOD NEWS FOR THE FAR RIGHT

BERLIN — Despite Germany’s 10-year economic boom, a far-right party has managed to become Germany’s main opposition in Parliament, enter every state legislature in the country and vie for first place in elections in the former Communist East next month. And now the economy is slowing.

At a moment when populism is riding high in various corners of Europe, often against the backdrop of economic distress and high unemployment, a downturn in the Continent’s richest and most stable liberal democracy could add fuel to the fire and strengthen the nationalist Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, analysts said.

“Economic crises fuel a fear of the future, a sense of decline and the sense that the elite is failing the people,” said Yascha Mounk, an expert on populism and author of “The People Vs. Democracy.” “That’s fertile ground for populists.”  Marcel Fratzscher, a respected German political economist and professor at Humboldt University in Berlin, put it more directly:  “The economic slowdown should rather help the AfD.”

Professor Fratzscher, who also heads the German Institute for Economic Research, pointed to a forthcoming study from his institute, which will show that the AfD is much stronger in economically and structurally weak regions.   “This regional inequality and polarization is a threat to democracy,” he said, adding that “with the economic slowdown, structurally weaker regions will be hit harder, which will increase regional inequalities and accelerate the polarization.”

That is as true for Europe broadly as it is for Germany in particular. Signs that a period of exceptional economic growth may come to an end in Europe’s biggest economy sent shivers through global markets this week.   But beyond the economics, the political implications of the slowdown are just as disconcerting.

A weaker German economy not only threatens to open a broader path for the AfD.   It may also further reduce the influence of Berlin and its lame-duck chancellor, Angela Merkel, precisely at a moment when German leadership is needed to address the European Union’s manifold problems, including Britain’s scheduled departure on Oct. 31, as well as global trade issues.” (Katrin Bennhold, New York Times, 8/16)


MACRON SAYS “NON”

Charles De Gaulle resoundingly said “Non” when Britain applied to join the EU 5o years ago.

Now, his successor, Emmanuel Macron, says “Non” to helping Britain leave on amicable and workable terms.  He is refusing to cooperate with Boris Johnson’s request to remove the Irish backstop, the arrangement that would preclude any hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

What does Ireland have to do with France?  Good question!

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ITALY’S FASCIST PAST REVERBERATES IN ROME

Lovers of fascist architecture never disappeared from Italy’s capital, where Mussolini sought to centralize powers.   He continues to be revered in one of the Roman neighborhoods the dictator built, and elsewhere.

 (Deutsche Welle * 17 Aug 2019)   Fascist buildings can be found all over Italy.   Roberto Canali, the right-wing mayor of Predappio, Mussolini’s birthplace, announced plans last month to reopen the dictator’s crypt to tourists all year around.   At the moment, fascists and neo-fascists can only access the site in central Italy three times a year.   The mayor said that the move would help local business.

I always sell all the copies of the Primato Nazionale,” adds Moreschini, referring to a far-right, nationalistic monthly magazine founded in Milan six years ago.   Even if it is impossible to say whether fascists could make a comeback, it is clear that the current political fragility, coupled with regional emergencies and Italy’s sluggish economy, is increasing the visibility of far-right ideas.   “In the end, fascists never really disappeared,” says Pietro Di Placidi, as he cleans up Sgobbone restaurant after the lunchtime customers have left.   (https://www.dw.com/en/italys-fascist-past-reverberates-in-rome/a-50024325)

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OLD SOUTH AFRICAN FLAG CONSTITUTES “HATE SPEECH”

JOHANNESBURG, Aug 21 (Reuters) – “A South African court on Wednesday ruled that displaying the country’s apartheid-era flag in public constituted hate speech that discriminated against black people and violated equality laws.

The case relates to a 2017 demonstration against attacks and killings of farmers where the so-called ‘Apartheid Flag” was displayed.   The protest was led by predominantly white, Afrikaner nationalist groups.

After public anger at the display of the flag, the Nelson Mandela Foundation applied for an order declaring “gratuitous display” of the flag as hate speech, unfair discrimination and harassment based on race.”   (Mfuneko Toyana, 8/21)

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Pakistani Islamic Scholars Urge Jihad Against India In Kashmir, Say: ‘Kashmiri Muslims Have No Path Other Than Jihad’;  ‘The Muslims’ Neck Is In The Grip Of The Jews’   (MEMRI headline, 8/18)

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BUBONIC PLAGUE IN US

Bubonic plague may seem like a disease that’s been relegated to the history books, but that’s not the case.   The disease that struck terror in people in the Middle Ages is alive and well in the modern world, and it’s most recently appeared in prairie dog towns in the suburbs of Denver.

So how did prairie dogs get a virulent infection that plagued the Byzantine Empire and killed 60 percent of Europeans in the 1300s? During the last half of the 19th century, plague spread across China. When it hit the port of Hong Kong around 1894, the disease-carrying fleas began to spread to port cities around the world, eventually killing about 10 million people.   Ester Inglis-Arkell reports that bubonic plague came to the U.S. via Chinatown in San Francisco around 1900, though local officials refused to acknowledge the disease, worried about driving away tourists.   In 1906, however, when an earthquake leveled large parts of the city, rats carrying plague fleas proliferated in the rubble, leading to an outbreak of the disease.

The bacteria were also transmitted to San Francisco area squirrels, and from there, spread to the small rodent population of the American West.    Now, the disease is endemic, meaning it’s always present at low levels, though researchers don’t completely understand why larger outbreaks occur during certain years.   On average, between one and 17 cases of plague are reported annually in humans, with hotspots located in the high deserts of northern New Mexico and Arizona as well as southern Colorado, according to the CDC.

But it’s not just humans that suffer from Yersinia pestis.   Outbreaks of the plague, which is called sylvatic plague when it infects small mammals, can kill over 90 percent of prairie dogs infected with the disease.   (“Plague infected prairie dogs cause parks to close near Denver.” Smithsonian, 8.22)

 

LOOSE ENDS

HONOUR: King George V knights Lieutenant General John Monash at the Australian Corps headquarters in France on August 12, 1918. Photo: AWM E02964.

A friend in Australia pointed out something interesting about Lieutenant General John Monash, “the outsider who won a war” (the title of a biography about him published in 2004).   He did, indeed, receive a knighthood from King George V in 1918.   It was no ordinary knighthood.

The knighthood was unprecedented in that the King crossed the channel to present it to Sir John Monash at the Australian Army Corps headquarters in the Chateau where they were based.  This was during the First World War, on August 12th, 1918.  It was the first time in 200 years that anybody had been knighted on the battlefield.

Clearly, Sir John was held in high esteem.

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DIABETES

My blood sugar has been worse since I returned to the US.   It’s difficult to say why.   I’m eating the same.    Stress is minimal.   I think the only difference is the quality of food.

There’s way too much garbage in our food (in bread, for example; the subject of an article in The Guardian newspaper this week.   We have the worst bread in the western world.   The bread contains additives, which are banned in other western nations.

Diabetes has restricted my mobility, which rules out hikes.   It also means that I need a wheelchair when going through airports.   The only airport that let me down was Detroit.

There’s only one solution – move to Australia!  I could eat cheesecake every day and still stay within the recommended range.

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CELL PHONE ADDICTION

Mobile phones are banned in Australia.   You can’t drive and use a phone, of any type.   You can’t even touch one in the car  even if the car is stationery – I know a lot of people who would find it hard to let go!

Not only does this cut down the accidents, it’s also a great stress reliever.

I mentioned last week that Australia is more relaxed that the US. One reason must be mobile phones.   When people are always on the phone, they don’t relax.   Take a four- or five-hour journey in Australia – without a phone, it’s pure relaxation!

I should add that hands-free phones are ok.

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DEATH OF BOB HAWKE

One of Australia’s most memorable prime ministers, Bog Hawke, died while I was visiting the country. He was PM from 1983-91.

News coverage was all positive.  One TV news program said that he was “a gambler, a womanizer and an adulterer.”   The same narrator added that he was “a great bloke.”

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CHURCHILL

I’ve started reading Andrew Roberts’ 1,000-page biography of Sir Winston Churchill.   This means I’m slowly progressing through two biographies at the same time, the one on Churchill and the one on Monash.   I got both out of the library.

I may post a few quotes on Churchill as I progress through the book.

“No less a figure than Mark Twain introduced Churchill at his first New York lecture, saying: “Mr. Churchill by his father is an Englishman, by his mother he is an American, no doubt a blend that makes the perfect man.”

At the Press Club, he made the following observation.   “After seeing many nations, after traveling through Europe, and after having been a prisoner of the Boers, I have come to see that, after all, the chief characteristic of the English-speaking people as compared with other white people is that they wash, and wash at regular periods. England and America are divided by a great ocean of salt water, but united by an eternal bathtub of soap and water.”   (p 78, Churchill, by Andrew Roberts).

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BORIS SET TO WIN?

Donald Trump isn’t the only leader going through constant efforts to discredit him.   Describing Boris Johnson as “a friend of mine,”   Mr. Trump came close to endorsing him Thursday.    Mr. Johnson is the favorite so succeed Theresa May. Is it just a coincidence that legal action is being taken against him when he is running for the Tory leadership?   He is being accused of lying.

His accusers say that his claim that the UK subsidizes the EU by 350 million pounds a week was a lie, which influenced voters in favor of Brexit.   “Remainers” are as bewildered as anti-Trump voters in the US – they cannot comprehend that others disagree with them!

Mr. Johnson has promised to deliver Brexit with or without a deal.   The British Foreign Office really doesn’t want to leave with “no deal.” Discredit Johnson and it’s likely the country will never leave the EU.

The European parliamentary elections were a mixed bag.   People turned away from the main parties in droves.   In Britain, the six-week-old Brexit party got more votes than anybody, but still not a majority. Some interpret this as the people supporting “Remain” in the EU.

A move toward the “extreme Right” was noticeable in many countries, including France and Germany; but, at the same time, there was also a move toward the Greens.

It will be some time before Europe settles down.

After all the upheavals, the prophesied ten nations will be in place (Revelation 17).

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LONDON NO LONGER LONDON

Actor John Cleese is having to defend himself after making the comment that “London isn’t really an English city any more.”    Of course it isn’t.   Over half the people of London are immigrants (first, second and third generation immigrants).   They are not ethnic Englishmen.

It’s a fact.   Just don’t mention it!

Pat Buchanan asked this week (May 30th):   “Is the Liberal Hour ending in the West?”   With the rising tide of populist feeling in the West (and even in India), it seems that the ideas of “one worldism” are dying.

“Why is liberalism fading away, and nationalism ascendant?

“The former is an idea that appeals to the intellect; the latter, rooted in love of family, faith, tribe and nation, is of the heart.   In its potency to motivate men, liberalism is to nationalism what near beer is to Bombay gin.”

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DEATH OF FRANCE

The Middle East Forum saw symbolism in the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral and the death of the Judeo-Christian values in modern France.

“There was something darkly symbolic about the fire that nearly destroyed the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris on April 15 – the morrow of Palm Sunday — and the fall amid heavy smoke of its 93-metre iron spire.   One couldn’t help linking the religious and architectural disaster with a deeper crisis:   the passing of France as a distinct country, or at least as the Western, Judeo-Christian nation it had hitherto been presumed to be.

“Writing in Causeur the morning after, Hadrien Desuin, a conservative journalist, conveyed some of these feelings as he observed:   “Beyond the cathedral’s fire, France itself is burning . . . We have witnessed the Church’s slow death . . . and now even the old stones are collapsing . . . Yes, France may die . . . That’s what Notre-Dame’s flames tell us.”   (Michel Gurfinkiel, 5/30).

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WHAT’S BEIJING DOING IN HAIFA?

“Below the radar screens of all but a few experts, a dispute is brewing with the potential to disrupt defense cooperation between the U.S. and Israel and embroil the Jewish state in America’s increasingly intense trade conflict with China.

“The story begins in 2015, when Israel’s Transportation Ministry accepted an offer from the Shanghai International Port Group to operate the port of Haifa for 25 years, starting in 2021, and invest $2 billion to expand the port into Israel’s largest harbor.   Notably, this decision was taken without the formal involvement of either Israel’s security cabinet or its National Security Council.

“As far as I can tell, this agreement went almost unnoticed for three years, until the transfer of part of the new port to Chinese control in the summer of 2018 sparked a furor in the Israeli media.   But it took a meeting this past August between a delegation from the Washington-based Hudson Institute and Haifa University’s Research Center for Maritime Policy and Strategy to make this issue a matter of international concern.

During this meeting, the U.S. delegation, which included retired Adm. Gary Roughead, former chief of naval operations, and ex-Pentagon official Douglas Feith, weighed in against the deal with a vehemence that reportedly stunned many Israeli participants.

“Adm. Roughead noted that China’s presence in Haifa might force the U.S. Sixth Fleet to abandon the port and dock elsewhere.   As he explained in remarks reported in the Jerusalem Post, “The Chinese port operators will be able to monitor closely U.S. ship movements, be aware of maintenance activity, and could have access to equipment moving to and from repair sites and interact freely with our crews over protracted periods.”   He also expressed concern that the Chinese could use the new port’s information systems to conduct surveillance and threaten U.S. cybersecurity.”    (William Galston, WSJ, 5/28)

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GERMANY STRENGTHENS TIES WITH LATIN AMERICA

(Own report) – With a Latin America-Caribbean Conference, the German Foreign Ministry is launching a new political offensive in the struggle for influence in Latin America.   Germany and the EU’s influence on the subcontinent has been stagnating, while China’s importance is growing.   The government hopes to counteract this development by helping German companies to increase their opportunities in Latin America – and this at a time when massive protest is being raised against German companies’ activities, for example, in Brazil.   The Brazilian judiciary has currently taken action against the Technical Control Board (TÜV) South, for its alleged complicity in a dam burst in January of this year, killing more than 250 people.    Brazilian activists are also accusing the Bayer and BASF companies of selling agricultural poisons in their country, which are banned in the EU.   Over the past decade, more than 2,000 people have died in Brazil from agrochemicals. Berlin is also envisaging the inclusion of Latin American countries into NATO structures.   (German Foreign Policy, 5/29)

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MERKEL AT HARVARD

Angela Merkel gave the commencement address at Harvard University today.

She called for a strengthening of ties between Europe and the US, building on what has been accomplished in the last seven decades.

Politico reports:   “Angela Merkel urged Harvard graduates Thursday to “tear down walls of ignorance and narrow-mindedness” in a speech laced with apparent jibes at Donald Trump and his policies.

“Though she did not name the U.S. president, the German chancellor devoted much of her Harvard University commencement speech to attacking major pillars of Trump’s presidency:    protectionism, trade wars and building walls.

“She also warned of the “threat climate change poses to our planet’s resources” and called for the world to work together.   Trump announced in 2017 that he would pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement.”

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Trump will win 2020 election unless Democrats impeach, says expert

(Independent, 5/30)

AUSTRALIA – THE WONDERFUL LAND DOWN UNDER

    BREAKING NEWS:   THERESA MAY RESIGNS

For the fourth time in under 30 years, a conservative British prime minister has been brought down by Europe, with a possible fifth one to follow.

Mrs. Theresa May worked hard to deliver her dream of a “deal” with the EU, but failed miserably after three parliamentary votes.   The British people voted for Brexit three years ago and are still waiting.

Her successor as prime minister must still deliver Brexit, with a deadline of October 31st. Wrong moves and bad decisions could bring him or her down, too.

It was a Conservative prime minister who took Britain into Europe, perhaps the greatest mistake Britain has ever made.  It’s a form of justice that all four subsequent Conservative leaders have been brought down by Europe.

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AUSTRALIA – THE WONDERFUL LAND DOWN UNDER

I’ve been in Australia for three weeks.   A friend sent me a ticket.  It was a wonderful trip.   Not the first time I’ve been there (actually, the 5th), but the first time to visit without having to work.   It was total relaxation.

And the Australians know how to relax.   They are much more laid back, far less frenetic, and, I believe, enjoy life more because of it.

In explaining the difference between Australia and the United States, an Australian historian observed that while America was founded by pilgrims, Australia was founded by convicts.   The Americans, striving to establish the Kingdom of God on earth, had nowhere to go but down; whilst the Australians, who threw a wild party when they arrived on Australia’s shores, had nowhere to go but up!

So, I had a great time – exclusively in small town Australia (Westbury in Tasmania, Wangaratta in Victoria, Junee in NSW; and outside of Kiama in NSW).   This is the real Australia.   Too many visitors spend all their time on the beaches of the Gold Coast, with a quick visit to the Great Barrier Reef, great to visit but you won’t learn anything about Australia there.

The days I spent in Wangaratta were spent in Ned Kelly country. He was the Jesse James of Australia, a horse thief and bank robber whose gang killed some policemen. He got himself hanged in November 1880, at the age of 25.   As a criminal, he also got a considerable following, a Robin Hood figure who stood against authority.

Intermezzo Cafe, Wangaratta, NSW

Life in Wangaratta was beautiful.   A coffee in the morning at a coffee shop called “Intermezzo” (yes, I actually drank coffee), followed by a visit to the town library (one of the best I’ve ever been in), followed by a pub lunch.   There are only a few Starbucks in Australia – it wasn’t very successful.   And there are no big pub chains, each one has its own distinct personality. We drank one day at the pub frequented by Ned Kelly.   There, I had fish and chips (hake) and a dessert of sticky date pudding!   Even the beer was exceptionally good.   We also spent thirty minutes talking to the owner, who revealed that much of his business came from the local pig industry.   They kill 3,500 pigs a day, which makes it the world’s biggest producer of pork products, mostly for the Chinese market.   We had no idea it was there.

As a diabetic, I have to keep my blood sugar numbers within a range. I had no difficulty at all while in Australia, even with drinking a beer a day. It must be the fact that I was very relaxed!

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AUSTRALIAN ELECTION

While visiting Australia, the country was preparing for a general election.  Opinion polls throughout showed Labor (the socialists) were winning, but, as in the US, the conservative (Liberal) party won. Pollsters seem to always get it wrong, probably because they ask the wrong questions.   It may even be deliberate, an attempt to force people to vote Left.

Perhaps the people saw through all the promises being made by Labor (though the Liberals themselves made enough!).   Bill Shorten, Labor leader, was promising this, that and the other, in a country of only 25 million people.   Scott Morrison, leader of the Liberal Party, had a better grasp of what Australia’s economy needed.

I actually met One Nation party leader Pauline Hanson in the airport luggage area in Launceston, Tasmania.   One Nation is a small party that is very much against mass immigration, which is changing the fabric of Australian society.   34% of Australians were born overseas, which is more than double the American figure.   Most immigrants are settling in the big cities, which is adding to social problems.   On the internet, I saw a discussion between her and a Muslim man with three wives, new to Australia.   He explained how he had put all the welfare payments he received for the children into buying a house. When he had bought one, he wanted to start on a second one for his second wife.   And so on for the third.

In contrast to the US, one issue that dominated was climate change.   This is because television news is one sided (pro-Left) and they have made it the number one issue.   Morning news programs could spend up to thirty minutes on the one issue, warning of dire consequences if nothing is done immediately.    Australia already does more than most countries, at great cost and inconvenience to its people.   For example, the ubiquitous plastic bags, so common in the US, have been withdrawn, and people have been told to take their own bags to the grocery store in which to carry their own groceries.

A generational divide was also apparent during the election, with young people much more concerned about climate change than older voters.

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REMEMBERING THE PAST

Every year, on April 25th, Australia (and New Zealand) celebrate ANZAC Day.   This day honors the memory of those who served in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, a vital contributory factor to the Allied victories in World Wars 1 & 2.

Although they contributed only 5% of the sum total of troops, the new nations were enthusiastic in their support of the British Empire.   An Australian General, Sir John Monash, distinguished himself at Gallipoli and on the Western Front, receiving a knighthood for his services from King George V.   As a Prussian Jew he faced a lot of opposition at home.

In both world wars, Australia fought from beginning to end, in contrast to the US, which only entered World War I near the end, and World War 2 after Pearl Harbor.   The British Commonwealth nations fought with Britain from the moment war was declared.   This “multitude of nations” comprised the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and, at the time, South Africa and Rhodesia. Together with Britain’s many colonies, they were the global superpower before the United States.   “And he set Ephraim before Manasseh.” (Genesis 48:20)   Many men fighting in the trenches firmly believed that they were the modern descendants of Ephraim fighting together in a just war. Even if you do not believe there is any biblical significance to their historic role, history shows they had a very significant and meaningful role at the time.

Since World War 2, these allies have increasingly drifted apart.   Yet, there are no nations that are as similar, sharing a common cultural and political heritage.   Perhaps its time to think about reviving the organization, as a separate entity from the Commonwealth, which is the 53-nation multicultural organization that does not have a military component.

They could certainly cooperate in military matters, at a time when the US is reducing its international commitments.

They could also cooperate on other meaningful challenges at this time.   Australia, with its commitment in fighting global warming; New Zealand with their deep interest in the terrorist threats posed by social media; Canada, the country that coined the term multiculturalism could help solve the problems created by it; and Britain, whose two royal princes have done so much in the area of mental health.

They should not argue over who has the dominant role (this could rotate amongst the four), but they would collectively work together to address the most important issues of our time.

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THE AUSTRALIAN

The Australian is the nation’s best newspaper, the only one with real news.   It’s a Rupert Murdoch owned newspaper with a definite conservative slant.

I enjoyed reading it each day, even with coffee!

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BACK TO THE US

When I arrived back in the US, the first thing I heard at the airport was a woman complaining about her wheelchair, which was delayed by five minutes.   A couple of days later, at a doctor’s office, there was a similar incident, with a lady complaining that her subsidized public transport was late.   Are we becoming a nation of complainers?

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It was good to get back to America, but I sure do miss Australia. I think I need an annual Australian “fix.”

ANGLO MIGRATION

Friends of ours are leaving South Africa and moving to Australia.   They are not the first and certainly won’t be the last.

The “new” South Africa that came into being with the end of apartheid, just under 25 years ago, has become one of the most violent countries in the world.   The white farmers who live there, producing most of the region’s food, have been hit really hard by all the violence.   Hundreds have been murdered in the new South Africa.   Another friend’s grandson was murdered at 18 – for a cell phone!

Young families have to seek greater security for their children.   Australia is one of the best countries to go to, for now at least.

What’s been happening in South Africa and other countries before it, has been one of the minor news items in the world, a blip in the global disorder.   But facts are facts – as the British gave independence to their various colonies around the globe, so Brits who had settled there, contributing greatly to economic development, were forced to leave.   This was especially true in Africa.   This mass migration of people has been really bad for Africa and for Africans.   Their British “masters” have simply been replaced by Chinese bosses who often treat them with contempt.

South Africa’s white population was 20% of the population 25 years ago;  today, it’s down to 10%.

We may think that this migration is over, with South Africa being the last country to expel the whites.   It isn’t.   As South Africa’s majority black population took over the country, so, in the next few decades, new majorities in western nations will take over their new countries and push the original occupants out.

This is prophesied in Deuteronomy 28, the blessings and cursings chapter of the Bible.   The Israelites were told by God that if they obeyed Him, they would be greatly blessed; but, if they turned away from Him, they would suffer the negative consequences.   The modern Israelites are suffering these consequences now and will continue to do so, unless they repent and turn back to God.

16 “Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country.  17 “Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.  18 “Cursed shall be the [a]fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.  19 “Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.   (Deut. 28:16-19)

 “The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower.  44 He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail. ” (vs. 43-44)

The Anglo-Saxon-Celtic peoples are amongst the modern Israelites. At the end of World War II, a little over 70 years ago, they dominated the world.   The British Empire had emerged intact from the global conflict, which it had fought for six years; the United States had emerged from the war as a global superpower.   A constant theme of the last seven decades has seen these same Anglo-Saxon-Celtic peoples lose their power and prestige.     They will continue to do so.

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REVOLUTION IN THE AIR?

France has seen a great deal of violence the last three weekends and is expected to see more again this coming weekend.

The primary cause was increased fuel taxes to help cover an environmental project.   It was enough to trigger off the worst rioting in decades.

What the French elite, including President Macron, fail to understand is that ordinary people are suffering.  They are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet.  Higher fuel costs mean higher food costs as food has to be transported.

The rioting spread to neighboring Belgium and there is speculation there could be rioting elsewhere, including in neighboring Germany.   Once again, governments are out of touch with the reality of day to day living.

The following is a joke somebody sent me from Germany, a country not noted for its sense of humor:

“An African refugee is walking through the streets of Nuremberg – a well preserved medieval walled city. He fronts up to the first person he meets and says, “I would like to thank you for taking me in. For clothing me, feeding me, giving me healthcare and letting me stay.”

“But I’m not German, I’m Albanian,” the pedestrian responds.

The African walks on undeterred, and meets another pedestrian: “I would like to thank you for taking me in, clothing me, feeding me, giving me healthcare and letting me stay.”

“But I’m not German, I’m Turkish…”

The African tries once more, with a third pedestrian. “Thank you for taking me in, clothing me…”

“But I’m not German, I’m Arabic.”

“Then where are all the bloody Germans?” the African refugee asks.

The Arab looks at his watch, shrugs and says, “Probably at work.” (end of joke)

The cost of housing, clothing, feeding and educating all the refugees falls on the German tax-payer. It’s the same throughout the western world, in every single western nation.

Brexit started as a means to hit back against the system.   51.7% of the British people supported the “rebellion” against the ruling elite. Trump soon followed with victory in the US election.   The reality of what was behind Trump’s victory still has not been appreciated by the liberal intellectual community that has dominated the country for decades.   The reality is summed up in the title of a new book by Anthony Scaramucci:   “Trump – the Blue-Collar President,”   Trump was / is America’s revolution.   If his revolution fails, we should expect a worse one up ahead.

The same with Brexit.   If the British Establishment manages to thwart Brexit, as is certainly a possibility, the frustrations that ordinary people are experiencing could explode in something far worse.

Populist parties exist throughout the western democracies today – unless people see an improvement in their circumstances, we could see sweeping electoral changes ahead.   This could start in France.

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AN AGE OF ANGER

During a dinner in Washington, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde sent a warning to politicians whose decisions could create “an age of anger.”   She said:  “Imagine what the world might look like if we fail to build and adapt.   We could live in an age of anger.”

But this lesson is best learnt from Mr. Trump, the US President, who successfully harnessed the anger of America’s rustbelt communities to propel himself into the White House.  (BBC, 12/6)

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ARABS TIGHTEN BELTS

“A wave of economic austerity is squeezing the Arab world’s middle class, pushing a segment of society that is key to growth and stability into making painful cut-backs and fueling discontent.

“Egyptians say they are taking second jobs and dining out less often. Jordanians trying to make ends meet are pulling children from private schools.   In Tunisia, hundreds of thousands of civil servants staged a one-day strike last month to demand a pay increase.”  (“Arab Middle Class Tightens Belt,” Jared Malsin, WSJ, 12/6)

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IRAN AND ISRAEL PREPARING FOR WAR

Iranian leaders stepped up their war of words against Israel and the United States over the weekend while new information shows both the Israel Defense Forces and the Islamic Republic are actively preparing for a multi-front war in Israel.

The new war of words started when Iran’s so-called moderate president Hassan Rouhani told participants in an Islamic conference that Israel was a “cancerous tumor” and “a fake regime” founded by Western nations.

While calling upon the Islamic world to establish a “joint force” that could win the “battle against criminals,” Rouhani claimed Israel had killed and displaced the (non-existing) “historic nation of Palestine.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu responded to Rouhani’s belligerent rhetoric by warning Iran that Israel knows how to defend itself against the “murderous Iranian regime.”   (“Iran and Israel preparing for multi-front war,”  (Yochanan Visser,  Israel Today, 11/28)

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BREXIT — THE WORST DEAL IN HISTORY

This Brexit “deal” is anything but good for the nation.

This “deal” will cost the British taxpayer £60 billion; require that the British still comply with EU rules without having any say in what those will be, and worst of all, it permits the British to leave the EU only if the EU agrees.   It commits the British effectively to subjugation by the EU in perpetuity, with no recourse should the British change their mind. It is a prison.   It is also the first step of the EU toward its dream of global governance: unaccountable, untransparent, unelected by the public, and with no way out.

There is still a way out of this mess; an easy alternative.   The solution is No Deal.   Without any further action, the UK’s membership of the EU will lapse on March 29, 2019, and unless that majority can unite around a viable alternative, we will leave.   Even better, according to a House of Lords report, there would be no legal obligation for the UK to make any payment as part of a financial settlement.   (David Brown, Gatestone, 12/4)

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ANGELA MERKEL STEPS DOWN

Friday Angela Merkel, German Chancellor since 2005, stepped down as Chairman of her political party, the Christian Democratic Union.   She will remain Chancellor for the time being, but relinquishing her chairman role will likely result in change at the chancellery in the not too distant future.

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PROFOUND COMMENTS

Europe today is not afraid of Vladimir Putin reaching the Rhine. Europe is afraid of Africa and the Middle East reaching the Danube.  (“The Never-Trumpers are never coming back,” PB, 7/6)

A “sense of guilt” for colonialism is debasing the West from within, according to Professor Bruce Gilley, and authoritarian regimes such as Iran, Russia, China and Turkey are profiting from this weakness.

The Romans called it damnatio memoriae:   the damnation of memory that resulted in destroying the portraits and even the names of the fallen emperors.   The same process is now underway in the West about its colonial past.   The cultural elite in the West now seem so haunted by feelings of imperialist guilt that they are no longer confident that our civilization is something to be proud of.  (“Is guilt killing the West from within?”  Giulio MeottiGatestone, 7/6)

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ITALY CLOSES DOOR TO MIGRANTS

In Italy, rising popular sentiment against immigration has found a forceful spokesman and leader in Deputy PM Matteo Salvini, who has refused entry to Italian ports to migrant rescue ships, saying “NGO rescue ships will only see Italy on postcards.” 

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ANN COULTER PREDICTS END OF REPUBLICAN PARTY

“New York Times best-selling author and populist conservative columnist Ann Coulter says the Republican Party is “just at the point of extinction without a shot” due to mass illegal and legal immigration to the country that continues importing more than 1.5 million immigrants a year.

In an interview with SiriusXM Patriot’s Breitbart News Daily, Coulter told Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow that the United States — due to mass immigration and rapid demographic shifts — will be electorally dominated by Democrats indefinitely in “about five more years,” calling Trump “the last Republican president.” (Breitbart 11/28)

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MILITARY SPENDING

According to SIPRI’s 2016 data:

  • Only 4 out of 28 NATO countries — the United States, France, Greece and Estonia — pay above the 2 percent GDP
  • If under-paying countries began reaching the 2 percent threshold, total European nato-military spending would rise from $254 billion to $328 billion.
  • In comparison, U.S. military spending was $611 billion, China’s $215 billion, and Russia’s $69 billion.
  • If Germany spent 2 percent of its GDP on defense, its military spending would parallel Russia’s — $69 billion!

SIPRI stands for Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

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CHANGING RELATIONSHIPS

The US Congress is about to come out with a statement stating that the Saudi Arabian Crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered the death of the Washington Post correspondent, Jamal Khashoggi. Mr. Khashoggi was assassinated in the Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey on October 2nd.

Additionally, the US has requested the extradition of the top executive of the major Chinese company, Huawei.

“New York (CNN Business) — The arrest of a top Huawei executive has sent stock markets plunging around the world and threatens to derail the tenuous trade truce between the United States and China.

“Meng Wanzhou, the Chinese tech company’s chief financial officer, was detained in Vancouver on Saturday at the request of US authorities.” (12/6)

Thirdly, Mr. Trump ignored President Putin of Russia at the G20 summit last weekend.

Three major relationships, with Saudi Arabia, China and Russia are seriously threatened by these actions.

Interestingly, these three countries are the top oil producing countries in the world, after the United States.   Saudi Arabia and Russia are already co-operating on oil production, which will affect the global price.

It should also be noted that all three are murderous regimes.   The Saudi and Russian governments think nothing of murdering opponents in other parts of the world; while the Chinese have their gulags (sorry, re-education camps).

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OF INTEREST

Donald and Melania Trump did not recite The Apostles’ Creed nor did they sing the hymns during George H.W. Bush’s funeral Wednesday, sparking criticism of the president who claims to be Presbyterian and is portrayed as an evangelical Christian by many conservatives.   Video shows the first couple standing in silence alongside three former presidents and first ladies who all recited the creed.

Ivanka Trump also participated, despite having converted to Judaism.   The Apostles’ Creed is considered Christianity’s core prayer, at the heart of the Christian doctrine.   The version of the creed at the service was that of the Episcopal Church, to which the Bush family belongs.   The Apostles’ Creed is Trinitarian in structure with sections affirming belief in God the Father, Jesus Christ His Son and the Holy Spirit.   The Apostles’ Creed was based on Christian theological understanding of the Canonical gospels, the letters of the New Testament and to a lesser extent the Old Testament.   Its basis appears to be the old Roman Creed known also as the Old Roman Symbol.   (mailonline 12/6)

 

 

 

 

 

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.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?