Tag Archives: Boris Johnson

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?”

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RESTORE FREEDOM OF SPEECH

Ed Murrow, the famous CBS reporter who broadcast nightly to the US from the London Blitz, wrote that the most remarkable fact of the war was that Britain kept its basic freedoms even in the face of defeat.   This included freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

Both have been increasingly restricted in recent decades, not just in the United Kingdom, but in other western democracies.  Political correctness, together with new laws, have made it difficult for people to express themselves on issues that did not exist before the era of mass immigration and multiculturalism.

Boris Johnson’s comment this week about the burqa being like a “letter box” led to a round of condemnation, until an opinion poll showed he had the support of 60% of the British people, who support a ban on burqas.   At least half a dozen European countries have already imposed a ban on wearing a burqa in public.

The BBC’s John Simpson, reported from Afghanistan shortly after 9-11.   At the time the country was ruled by the Taliban.   The only way he and a colleague could get into the country was by wearing a burqa.   As deeply religious “women”, soldiers and police would not touch them.   They safely returned with excellent coverage on the state of the country, immediately prior to the US led invasion.

Mr. Simpson, without realizing it, showed the security risk posed by people in burqas.   It’s no wonder that 60% of British people want them banned.   And it’s not just security that is compromised by the wearing of the burqa.   Wearing the garment is a constant statement that the wearer has no intention of ever being assimilated into western society, any western society.

It’s likely that Mr. Johnson’s comment was not an error on his part.   He knew what he was saying.   Mr Johnson, a populist, is now leading the charge in defending traditional British values (freedom of speech) against the dictatorship of political correctness, enforced on the population by the liberal-leftist elite.

The liberal elite have only themselves to blame.   They are the ones who have forced multiculturalism on the English English, those who have lived in the country for generations, even centuries; it was forced on them against their will and without any vote by the people, who have seen their country hijacked since World War II.

The liberal elite are not going to give up easily, as we have seen by their under-handed efforts to stop Brexit, eager to overturn the will of the majority to pursue their own globalist dream, which would, in time, wipe out England and all its traditional values.   But their role, similar to that of the “thought police” in George Orwell’s “1984”, needs to end.   The British people need to be free to express themselves on any issue, without the fear of punishment or denigration.

Other prominent people, leaders in the community, need to show support for Mr. Johnson.   One famous person did, today.   His name is Rowan Atkinson, but he’s better known around the world as Mr. Bean or Black Adder.   He’s been making fun of religious beliefs, without prejudice, for decades.   He clearly sees the threat if you can’t describe the burqa as a “letter box.”   Good for you, Mr. Bean!

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Viktor Orban:   The new EU leadership should punish those who let millions of migrants into Europe, by VOICE OF EUROPE, 28 July 2018

“Viktor Orban, Hungary’s Prime Minister, says a new European Commission is needed with a new approach to migration policy, stating that the days of the current EU executive are “numbered” with its mandate expiring next May, Reuters reports.

“He made the comments Friday to state radio and said the next Commission should not punish countries that protect their borders from migrants.   Orban added that the new EU leadership should punish those who let millions of migrants into Europe in violation of the EU’s rules.

“The Hungarian Prime Minister is one of the strongest opponents of the EU’s migration policy.   The European Commission has stepped up a legal battle with Hungary over EU migration rules, claiming a new Hungarian law, criminalising support for asylum seekers, is illegal.

“Orban’s response is that the Commission’s decision was insignificant as its mandate is running out:   “We need a new Commission … with a new approach.”

“European Parliamentary elections will be in May 2019.   Orban’s nationalist Fidesz party polls strongly in the lead after a landslide win in the national election in April, re-elected for a third consecutive term.”

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CANADA’S AMBASSADOR TO SAUDI ARABIA EXPELLED

“Saudi Arabia has given the Canadian ambassador to the kingdom 24 hours to leave after Ottawa criticised the arrest of women’s rights activists in the ultra-conservative country.   The Saudi foreign ministry also said it was freezing “all new business” between the two states.”  (Independent, 8/6) 

Note the following from today’s MEMRI (“The Middle East Media Research Institute”) (#7617):

“Canada’s crude stance on social issues in the [Saudi] kingdom is not new – rather, it has been ongoing for years, despite Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic attempts to act flexibly towards [this stance].   Canada’s actions are nothing but systematic and planned aggression that goes far beyond support for human rights or freedoms and constitutes an attempt to take over and to impose the values of the Canadian left.

“As the racist Canadian government sheds leftist crocodile tears over freedoms, it disregards the true suppression that it [itself] implements against Canada’s original inhabitants.”

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IRAN:   “It’s Trump, Netanyahu and Saudi prince who are ‘isolated,’ not us”

“Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Monday that the leaders of the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel were isolated in their hostility to Iran.

“Today, the entire world has declared they are not in line with US policies against Iran,” Zarif said in a speech, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency. (“The times of Israel”, 8/6)

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HAMAS CONTINUES DESTRUCTION OF LAND IN ISRAEL

Hamas Counts Rewards for Successful anti-Israel Terror Campaign, DEBKAfile Exclusive Report (8/10)

Hamas has burned to a cinder more than 35,000 dunams of flourishing Israeli land – half the area of Tel Aviv, the whole of Beersheba – since March 31.   But if the Palestinian terrorist rulers of Gaza walk off with the $650m aid package the UN, Egypt and Qatar are offering for a long-range truce accord with Israel – with applause from Washington – they will win the biggest prize ever awarded a serial arsonist.   Only a fraction of the billions of dollars of aid poured into Gaza since Hamas seized power 11 years ago ever reached the population; the lion’s share was grabbed by Hamas’ terrorist wing for funding for “resistance, i.e. violence against Israel.   Its arson campaign of incendiary kites and exploding balloons has been so successful that Hamas is being showered with perks, including the lifting of the Israeli and Egyptian blockades on Gaza, without having to reciprocate by, for example, dismantling its military (terror) arm and rocket arsenal, or even handing over the remains of the Israeli soldiers and hostages.

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Hamas launched multiple assault on Gaza-Israeli border amid truce talks

Friday saw a record 30 fires caused by Palestinian balloons from the Gaza Strip and mass riots pushing against the fence, while hurling fire bombs at Israeli troops.   A gang broke through and sabotaged IDF equipment before fleeing back.   The outbreak was quelled only after Israeli forces used tear gas, which left 80 rioters injured and one dead and a tank gun fired at a Hamas position.   Read DEBKA file’s Exclusive Analysis.

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Africans take Germany to court in New York over ‘forgotten genocide’  – July 31, 2018 * USA Today

After people from the Herero and Nama tribes launched a rebellion in 1904 against German colonial settlers in South West Africa, German General Lothar von Trotha issued a written extermination order, saying:  “Within the German borders, every Herero, with or without a gun, with or without cattle, will be shot.”

For the last six decades, Germany has atoned and compensated for its historical role in the Holocaust of World War II, paying out an estimated $70 billion to survivors since 1952.   However, a group of determined activists from Namibia has been fighting for recognition of the extermination of their ancestors by the German government in what has been termed the first genocide of the 20th century.

Though often overshadowed by the subsequent Nazi crimes of World War II, Germany’s colonial-era atrocities have recently been put under the spotlight.   Between the 19th and 20th centuries, Imperial Germany administered several parts of Africa including modern-day Togo, Cameroon and Tanzania.   What was then known as German South West Africa (today’s Namibia) is where some of the darkest chapters of Germany’s colonial rule unfolded.   In October 1904, after people from the Herero and Nama tribes launched a rebellion against German colonial settlers in South West Africa, German General Lothar von Trotha issued a written extermination order, saying: “Within the German borders, every Herero, with or without a gun, with or without cattle, will be shot.”  The edict goes on to clarify that women and children would not be spared.  Tens of thousands of Herero and Nama were starved to death in concentration camps in the desert or were massacred between the years of 1904-1908.   It has been estimated that 80 percent of the Herero and Nama people were wiped out in the atrocities.

On July 31, representatives of the Nama and Herero people will descend on New York Southern District Court to see if their quest for retrospective justice will be successful.   In pursuing their case, the Namibians have invoked the Alien Tort Statute, which allows for non-US residents to make a claim in a US court for international law violations.

They call for a full, formal apology from the German government, and reparations that could stretch into the billions.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/07/31/africans-take-germany-court-new-york-over-forgotten-genocide/877191002/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FAMILY REUNIONS

We had all nine grandchildren in the house last week, Monday through Friday.   Hence, the lack of a blog post a week ago.   Visits to the grocery store were frequent, as was taking them places.   There was no time to write, or even watch the news.

After our mini-family reunion, I really hope they will want to see each other after my wife and I are no longer around to host the gathering.   I’m sure they will!

I was struck (again) by how much louder the five younger ones, all boys, were, than their four older female sisters and cousins.   Noise, noise, noise!   Can’t boys do anything quietly?   Clearly not.

I found myself walking through the daily debris silently reminding myself that “children are a blessing!”  They certainly are and I’m already looking forward to when we can all be together again.

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THEN AND NOW

When everybody was gone, I started reading Boris Johnson’s “The Churchill Factor:   How one man made history.”

You may have heard of Boris Johnson.   He’s sometimes been described as “Britain’s Donald Trump.”   On his recent visit to England, Trump expressed the opinion that Boris would make “a great prime minister.”   A poll earlier this week showed him to be the favorite to succeed Theresa May.   Donald Trump and Boris Johnson have known each other for some time and are good friends.

Boris served two terms as a very successful Mayor of London.   More recently, he was Britain’s Foreign Secretary, the equivalent of Secretary of State.

He resigned a few weeks ago over Brexit.   His objection, supported by many, is that Mrs. May, the Prime Minister, seems to want to compromise with the European Union.   This would not deliver the Brexit (total independence) from the EU that was promised after the referendum over two years ago.   There is still no agreement between the UK and the EU over future trade.   Boris Johnson’s point is that the United Kingdom doesn’t need one – that new trade deals can be signed after breaking away from Brussels.   Have faith – it will all work out.

I must admit to sympathy with his stance.   Get out quick.   Don’t hesitate.

His book on Churchill was written a few years ago and published in 2014.   I’m now reading chapter 17 (there are 23 chapters).   The chapter is titled “The Wooing of America” and details Churchill’s relationship with Franklin Roosevelt.   His single-minded mission was to bring the United States into the war against Hitler.   At their first wartime meeting, the two leaders were concerned that Hitler had recently invaded Russia.   But Churchill knew that after Russia, he would come after Britain; and that if Britain fell and Hitler sank the Royal Navy, America would be next.   The whole world would very quickly descend into the barbarism of fascism.

A lot was at stake when they met in Newfoundland on August 10th, 1941.   This was the handshake that was to change the history of the twentieth century.

“As he stretches out that elegant white hand he knows he is reaching for his only lifeline; and yet there is nothing about him to convey the gloom of his position.   On the contrary, his face is suddenly wreathed in smiles, babyish, irresistible.

“Roosevelt smiles back; they grip hands, for ages, each reluctant to be the first to let go, and for the next two days Churchill maintains his schmoozathon.   We don’t know exactly what they say to each other at the first such Atlantic conference — the direct ancestor of NATO; but we know that Churchill lays it on thick.   His mission is to build up a sense of common destiny; to work with the grain of Roosevelt’s natural instincts, and to turn the USA from distant sympathizers into full-blown allies in bloodshed.” (page 235)

This was a family reunion, only the second time a President of the United States had shaken the hand of a British prime minister in office.   160 years after Yorktown.   160 years after the United States had separated itself from the rest of the English speaking world.   Now the two branches of the Anglo-Saxon world (the two sons of Joseph) were to be united in a common purpose.  They met in Canada, the oldest Dominion of the  British Empire, a nation founded by Loyalists at the end of the Revolutionary War.  The alliance that was forming  has remained the foundation of global peace and order for 77 years.

As I read Johnson’s book, I could see parallels with today.   There’s no fighting this time (not yet, anyway), but once again Britain is trying to free itself from European despotism, as it has so often in history.   There are those, like the current prime minister, who want to compromise; but others, like Boris Johnson, who are in a Churchillian mood, wanting to raise two fingers to the German-dominated EU (the two fingers were “V for Victory” in WWII, but, reversed, they have another meaning in England, which you will have to Google!)

History may repeat itself.

Confidence in Mrs. May is waning.  The Opposition Labour Party is scandalizing Britain with its anti-semitism.   The smaller parties are not credible.   An internal coup in the Conservative Party could replace Mrs. May with Boris Johnson, just as Chamberlain was replaced with Winston Churchill.

There’s another analogy.

Mr. Trump repeated a commitment to Mrs. May that the US will offer a free trade deal to the United Kingdom when Britain leaves the EU.   (EU rules mean that no deal can be signed until D-Day on 29th March next year; D for Departure!)    American farmers, losing markets in the current trade dispute with the EU, will benefit from a new trade deal with the UK; Britain will benefit with plentiful supplies of cheap food.

Once again, the New World may come to the aid of the Old.

Once again, a family reunion could make a big difference in the world.

There’s another lesson from Churchill’s meeting with FDR.   After the historic meeting of president and prime minister, there was a “divine service” on the Sunday morning.   Sailors of the two nations sang hymns together – “chosen by Churchill – that express that single heritage:   two broadly Protestant nations bound together against a vile and above all a pagan regime.”   (pages 235-6)

This was just a few weeks after the National Day of Prayer called by King George VI during Dunkirk.

At such a critical time, today’s leaders should follow the example of their predecessors and ask God for divine help through a very challenging time.

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BEWARE OF CHINESE TIES

Britain is keen for a sweet deal with China after Brexit – but watch out for Beijing’s ‘debt-trap diplomacy’, says Michael Auslin.   For decades we’ve heard dire warnings about China’s growing military power, but these doom-mongers have missed the point.   China isn’t on the war path.   Where old empires would start by invading, it starts by trading.   Only when an economy has become dependent on trade does Beijing begin to demand more, with the aim of creating an ever-expanding ‘Greater China’ in its near abroad.   (Freddy Gray, The Spectator, 8/2)

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FARMERS IN CRISIS

There’s increasing talk of land redistribution in South Africa, the wealthiest nation on the African continent.   It’s been almost a quarter of a century since the end of apartheid, a period in which few black South Africans have seen any benefits.   A wealthy elite has been created through corruption at the highest level, but little has been done to help the average person.

Neighboring Zimbabwe confiscated land from white farmers at the turn of this century.   The result was mass starvation, the collapse of the currency and economic chaos.

The European farmers who colonized southern Africa in the nineteenth century brought a great deal of development to the region.   Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) was the ‘breadbasket of Africa;” now, after almost forty years of independence, it’s the “basket case of Africa.”   The white farmers who once dominated Rhodesia were “commercial farmers,” similar to their American and Canadian counter-parts. African farmers are “subsistence” farmers, who just grow enough food for their own families.   This is a major cultural difference the world does not understand.   Confiscating white farmland can only have one consequence – a dramatic drop in food production (Zimbabwe saw a 90% drop, with a consequent famine).

Farmers in South Africa are being murdered at an alarming rate.   Many have chosen to leave the country.   Western Australia is one area that is attracting them.   Other parts of Africa are offering the farmers 99-year leases to boost their own agricultural production. Even Russia is encouraging them to relocate.

Other farmers from Europe moved to North America, Australia and New Zealand in the nineteenth century.   These commercial farmers produce a disproportionate percentage of the world’s food.   Higher tariffs on agricultural produce could affect this, along with changes in the weather and massive fires that seem to be a permanent fixture of our landscape.   All of these threaten today’s farmers.

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AFRICAN ELECTION

Zimbabwe’s woes never seem to end.   The “first free election” held at the weekend, has been followed by riots and violence as the losing party claims to have won.   It’s not possible to determine who really won, but after 38 years, ZANU-PF is still in power.   Most people will not be surprised.

Prior to Zimbabwe, Rhodesia had elections for decades without any violence.   Zimbabwe has not been able to achieve that.   As is the case elsewhere in Africa, tribalism and corruption have led to democracy being compromised.   Zimbabwe’s first leader, Robert Mugabe, was in power for almost 38 years, leading a very corrupt regime.

It’s doubtful there will be any significant change.

 

GOVERNMENTS IN CRISIS

First came Brexit; followed by Donald Trump four months later.

Both showed that voters wanted significant change.   Both are considered populist.   Two years later, Britain and America, once the most stable nations in the world, are now in turmoil.   Their friends and allies are in confusion.

Mrs. May’s Conservative government could fall at any time.   She survived this week and things are likely to quiet down with the summer recess, but with only a few months until the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, there’s going to be more turmoil ahead.

There is little reporting on Brexit in the United States.   Americans don’t realize how important it is.   The best analogy is this:  California has voted to leave the United States, effective March 29th 2019.  The vote was over two years ago, but there’s still no agreement on trade between California and the other 49 states and time is running out.   What about passports?   Residence rights – can Californians remain in the other states after 3/29?   Can people from Michigan remain in California if they own a home and work there?

It’s almost unthinkable.   So is Brexit, except that it’s less than fifty years since the UK was a fully independent country outside of the EU (then the EEC, the European Economic Community).

It gets more complicated.

BREXIT VOTE

The referendum of June 2016 was a free vote.   Many Conservative MPs (Members of Parliament) voted to “Leave,” but many voted to “Remain.”   Members of the other political parties mostly voted to “Remain” in the EU.

73% of all MP’s support continued membership of the EU, including 56% of Conservatives.   But they are bound by the referendum result when 51.9% of the electorate voted to Leave, 48.1% Remain. Voter turnout was 72.21%, meaning that just over one third of British voters wanted to stay in the EU.   Parliament is clearly not in step with the people.   British democracy is at risk here.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister who presided over the vote, resigned.   He voted to “Remain;” as did Theresa May, his successor, who is now trying to deliver Brexit.   Although she is committed to honoring the will of the people and intends for Britain to leave Europe, she is clearly “hugging the coast” and wants as close a relationship as possible.   She made things more difficult for herself last year when she called for a General Election, resulting in a minority government, which is propped up by a party from Northern Ireland.

On Friday, 6th July, the Cabinet met at the Prime Minister’s country home of Chequers to discuss the way forward.   They drew up plans for further negotiations with the EU.    Since then, a number of party leaders have resigned, including the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, and the chief Brexit negotiator, David Davis.   Both men accused Mrs. May of wanting a compromise.   Mrs May has had twelve frontbenchers  resign since the election last year.

Visiting US President Donald Trump was in the UK a week later and got involved by stating that if the UK does not break away from Europe completely, the US may not be able to give the country a trade deal.   If Britain were bound in some way to EU trade regulations, it would complicate a trade deal with America.   Mr. Trump also said that he thought that Mr. Johnson, a close personal friend, would make a great prime minister.

Boris Johnson gave a Churchillian speech in parliament on Wednesday on why he resigned, criticizing Mrs. May and claiming that Brexit can be saved.   Mr. Johnson has made a point of saying that the British have lost the confidence needed to go it alone.   He claims that May’s proposals would lead to Britain becoming a “colony” of the German led EU.   A poll yesterday by “Westmonster” showed that, given a choice between Johnson or May, 93% of voters would support Mr. Johnson.   (“Westmonster” is similar to Breitbart.)

It’s reminiscent of the late 1930’s, with a weak, compromising Prime Minister (Chamberlain / May) and one voice defying Europe (Winston Churchill/ Boris Johnson).   Churchill is Mr. Johnson’s hero – he wrote a book on him a few years ago:  “The Churchill Factor: How one man made history.”   He may yet succeed May and lead Britain to a full Brexit.

US PRESIDENT TURNING THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN

Mr. Trump was criticized for getting involved in British domestic affairs.  In an interview after his visit to the UK, he was asked who is America’s biggest “foe.”   He replied that the EU is the biggest foe of the US at this time.

This followed his attendance in Brussels at the NATO conference, at which he threatened to pull America out of NATO if European countries do not contribute more to the military organization.

Not all EU countries are members of NATO.   The EU is a major trading organization, whereas NATO is a military alliance.   Within the space of a few days, Mr. Trump criticized the two organizations that have been pillars of the Western Alliance for many decades.   An immediate consequence was the EU signing a trade agreement with Japan.   The EU is already China’s largest trading partner, and China is the EU’s second largest trade partner after the US.   The EU, China and Japan are busy building closer ties as the US turns away.

Mr. Trump ended his European trip with a visit to Helsinki to meet with Russia’s President Putin.   This was the most shocking meeting of all with the US president seeming to support Mr. Putin against his own intelligence services, Putin denying that Russia interfered in the US election.   Mr. Trump has backtracked on his claim, now supporting his intelligence services; but has followed all this by inviting Putin to Washington in the autumn.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the President of the United States, in just a few days, turned the world upside down.

The late Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, wrote a memoir of his years in the diplomatic service after World War II when America built the present world order.   He gave the book the title:   “Present at the Creation”, published in 1969.   It would be appropriate now for somebody involved in current events, to write a sequel:   “Present at the Destruction.”

The seventy-year global world order put together mostly by America and Britain is ending.   It may take a year or two to see clearly what will replace it.

 

 

TRUMP’S EUROPEAN UPHEAVAL

Students of Bible prophecy have long speculated on the identities of the ten kings (or leaders) who come together to form a revived Roman Empire immediately prior to Christ’s Second Coming.

“The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast.   These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.   These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.” (Revelation 17:12-14 NKJV)

There has often been speculation on what exactly will bring them all together.   Daniel 11:40-44 suggests it will be a threat from the Middle East.

Likely, nobody thought it would be the President of the United States!

He has been pushing the European members of NATO to increase their contributions to the defense of NATO.   It was agreed a few years ago that all would spend at least 2% of their GDP.   This is certainly the fairest way to finance the military alliance.   But it can be misleading.   The British and the Greeks have always spent more than 2% on defense.    Why the Greeks? – because of the very serious threat from neighboring Turkey, also a NATO member.   They are not spending more on the military to boost NATO.

Now, Mr. Trump is demanding everybody contribute 4% of their GDP.   This would more than double the military strength of the European members of NATO.   What if they later decided to leave NATO and go it alone?   They could equal America’s military power.

President Trump claimed that NATO is financed 90% by the US.   This is not true.   The highest figure I could find on the internet was 70.1 %, but usually it was a few points lower than that.

There are problems with what might be termed “NATO bashing.”

Firstly, NATO was formed in 1949 following World War II.   The idea was to keep the Russians out, the Germans down and the Americans in.   The United States, having learned after World War One that isolationism is not a good idea, wanted to make sure it had a permanent presence in Europe.   America may be the dominant member of NATO, but it is only one member in a 29-member alliance, arguably the most successful multinational alliance in history.

If NATO falls apart, Americans don’t just go home and carry on American business as usual.   An end to NATO will mean the US ceasing to be the world’s dominant power.   No longer could the president be labeled   as “the leader of the free world,” as the US would not be leading anything.

It should also be remembered that only once in NATO’s seventy-year history has the famous Clause 5 been invoked.   This is the clause that says an attack on one country is an attack on all.  The only occasion in which all the members came to the aid of one member under attack was on 9/11 when the US itself was under attack.   This clause is at the heart of the Washington Treaty, signed by President Truman seven decades ago.

President Trump’s two days in Brussels has had the effect of uniting the Europeans against Washington; and also will, in time ,boost Europe’s defenses.

He gave special attention to Germany, which only spends 1.24% of GDP on defense.   Overlooked is the fact that, in the past, nobody wanted Germany to spend more.   It has a history of aggressive militarism.   Does the West really want to rearm Germany?

UK VISIT

After leaving Brussels, Mr. Trump flew across the Channel to visit Prime Minister Theresa May, have tea with Queen Elizabeth and spend the weekend in Scotland.

As I write, I am watching Sky News.   It is showing the start of what is expected to be a large anti-Trump demonstration in London.   A twenty-foot balloon (costing over $20,000), showing a bloated Trump as a baby in diapers, is flying over London, approved by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, a Muslim of Pakistani origin.   Most demonstrators seem to be upset at US immigration policies and specifically at the separation of families at the border.   This policy has now been ended.   As European countries are finally doing something about illegal immigration, perhaps these demonstrators could turn their attention elsewhere!

It’s rather hypocritical for demonstrators to criticize Trump’s comments on Brexit, when he is not British; while they are condemning his immigration policies when they do not live in the US. The demonstration is not as big as expected – a Sky News poll this morning showed most British people in agreement with the US president on key issues.

It is certainly not in the UK’s interest to upset Mr. Trump at this point in time.

President Trump’s visit is colliding with a domestic crisis over Brexit.   A week ago today Mrs. May met with her Cabinet to discuss a united approach to negotiations with the EU.   Britain is set to leave the organization in March of next year, less than nine months away.

Although the majority of people in the UK voted to leave the EU, Mrs. May did not.   Her proposals would tie the United Kingdom to the European Union, even though it would not be a voting member, making it the worst of both worlds.   The Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, resigned along with some others.   Mr. Johnson said that the UK would become a “colony” under May’s proposals.   Mrs. May’s government could fall at any time, as she does not have a majority in parliament and this issue is the most contentious issue the country has faced for a long time.

Enter Mr. Trump.

In an interview in one of Britain’s trashiest newspapers (the Sun), Mr. Trump criticizes May for not following his advice in negotiations with the EU.   He even went so far as to say that his friend, Boris Johnson, would make a great prime minister!   Mr. Trump is also friends with Nigel Farage, who led the Brexit campaign.   The US president does not hide the fact that he supports Brexit, but interference in another country’s internal affairs is unprecedented and could backfire, with British voters turning against Brexit following the president’s comments.

But Trump’s visit could also be timely – if he offers London a generous trading agreement.

He has, however, made it clear that it will only be possible if the UK completely breaks away from the EU.

Are we seeing the continental countries grouping around Germany while the US and UK go their own way?   Again, long time Bible students have known this is part of the final global scenario.   It’s taking time to get there, but world events are moving in that direction.

Footnote:   Mrs. May has just spoken with President Trump beside her and announced that, after leaving the EU in March, the US and UK “will pursue an ambitious UK-US free trade agreement.”     They were speaking at Chequers, the prime minister’s country home.

On Thursday evening, the president was entertained at a black tie dinner at Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, at the request of the president.

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HISTORICAL NOTE

Monday, July 16th, marks the 100th anniversary of the assassinations of the Romanov family, Czar Nicholas II, his wife and children, plus their servants.

 

 

A CALL FROM SINGAPORE

Nestled in the heart of Southeast Asia and just at the tip of the Malaysian peninsula, the island country of Singapore is a melting pot of Chinese, Malay, Indian and Western cultures. The Lion City is one of the world’s most dynamic, vibrant and prosperous nations.

A friend from Singapore called me at the weekend.   Amongst other things we discussed President Trump’s visit to the region, which is now taking place.   He told me that Singaporeans (mostly ethnic Chinese) believe that America is on the way down and China is on the way up.   In other words, the most powerful nation in Asia and the Pacific is now NOT the US, but China.   Every nation in the region is having to come to terms with Chinese domination.

My friend, who is over 80, remembered the events of 1942 that led Singaporeans to realize the British Empire was on its way down.   One of the greatest military defeats in British history was the fall of Singapore on the 15th of February in 1942.   The story is told of Lee Kwan Yew, the first prime minister of Singapore.   While he was a student, the British blew up the causeway that linked the city to the mainland, to delay Japanese forces.   The sound of the explosion could be heard across the island.   When Mr. Lee’s British headmaster came out of the school building and asked him what the noise was, Mr. Lee responded: “It is the sound of the British Empire falling.”

Effectively, it was.   The fall of the British built and developed city started a series of events that led to American domination of Asia and the Pacific.   Now, China’s economic success means Beijing has greater clout in the area than Washington — many nations are looking to Beijing rather than Washington, to secure their future.

I posted an article to my blog in February to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the first time anybody realized that the US had overtaken the United Kingdom as the world’s pre-eminent nation.   It’s all recounted in the book “Picking up the Reins,” by Norman Moss.   It wasn’t until the following year that the term “Leader of the Free World” was applied to the US.   Seventy years later, we find people openly talking about China overtaking the United States. Chinese resentment at US domination is illustrated by an item on today’s BBC World News website.   Apparently, the Chinese use the term “Boss of the World” to describe America.

China isn’t the only power center trying to take over from America. The European Union is also determined to provide an alternative to American hegemony, with Germany’s Angela Merkel now often labeled “the Leader of the Free World.”   Bible students will not be surprised at these developments.

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IRAN – SAUDI STRUGGLE

Keep an eye on the growing Sunni-Shia struggle in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia leads the former and Iran the latter.   The two countries are fighting a proxy war in Yemen.   The latest development was a missile attack on the Saudi capital, fired by Houthi rebels, who are backed by Iran.

Iran also supports Hizbollah in Lebanon, whose prime minister resigned on Friday out of fear that he, like his father, will be assassinated.

From Monday’s Jerusalem Post:  “Saudi Arabia said on Monday that Lebanon had declared war against it because of attacks against the Kingdom by the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah.”

Syria is also caught up in the Sunni-Shia conflict.   Iran supports the Syrian president, Bashir Assad.

The West is solely focused on ISIS, a Sunni Islam group which is fighting Iranian backed forces in Iraq and Syria.   ISIS is re-grouping in a number of countries, claiming to represent and defend Sunnis from the Shi’ite heretics.

It’s all very complicated.   Not at all as simple as TV news depicts.

A new area of conflict is in the Sahara, where the US lost four military personnel last month.   Most attention was focused on President Trump’s call to the young wife of one of the men who died. Little attention has been given to the wider problem of a growing conflict right across the Sahel.

The West seems to think ISIS has been defeated; the reality is that the organization has dispersed and formed new radical terrorist groups in a number of different countries.  ISIS fighters have also been returning home to western nations – we should expect more terrorist attacks following the “defeat” of ISIS.

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WALL STREET’S BREXIT WARNING

Big banks are worried about Brexit.   A group of large financial institutions with big London operations, including JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and HSBC, has told US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross that Britain’s unstable government and slow progress in Brexit planning may force them to start moving thousands of jobs out of  the City in the near future.   The lack of clarity over a transition deal is making them nervous.

Their concerns are unlikely to be assuaged by the latest chaos in Theresa May’s cabinet.   Mrs. May is under pressure to strip two more cabinet ministers of their jobs following separate fiascos involving Priti Patel and Boris Johnson.   And the EU has warned that the UK has less than a month to make concessions on a divorce settlement.   The FT’s editorial outlines how the British government’s flailing at home is translating into weakness abroad: “Allies are increasingly wondering whether Mrs. May’s government has the focus or ability to play Britain’s traditional global position — let alone the enhanced role pledged by Brexit.”   (Financial Times, 11/8)

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TEXAS CHURCH ATTACK

26 people were shot dead in church Sunday, following a man’s argument with his mother-in-law.   Twenty others were injured, some very seriously.

This was the 307th incident of mass murder in the US this year. Today is the 310th days of the year, so, in effect, the US is experiencing an average of one mass attack per day.   A mass murder incident is defined as the murder of four or more people.

No other nation in the world sees so much violence.   Yemen, in a civil war between Shia and Sunni Muslims (see segment above), has the second highest incident rate.   Statistically, you would be safer living in Yemen, than in the United States.

I’ve always believed that people have a right to defend themselves, a right that goes back at least to the time of Henry II in the 12th century and perhaps goes back to the ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom prior to the Norman ascendancy.  The second amendment of the US constitution guarantees that right.   After an attack in London a few weeks ago, I pointed out that if one member of the public, just one, had been carrying a weapon, the terror attack might have been thwarted.

President Trump raised the issue of mental health in the context of mass shootings at a press conference in Tokyo.   Mental health is certainly a major issue.   But easy access to guns, especially by the mentally ill, is also a factor and needs to be addressed.   It’s time for that presidential commission of inquiry into mass gun violence.   Let the public have their say.   They are the ones that are dying, even in church.

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100-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF RUSSIAN REVOLUTION

November 7th is the anniversary of the Russian Revolution that brought the communists to power.   Not surprisingly, Russians are not enthused about the anniversary.   They rejected communism over 25 years ago.

There is still talk of a restoration of the monarchy, though most people do not seem to be in favor and do not expect it to happen.

There are lessons here from both France and Spain, two countries that were once dominated by their respective leaders, Charles de Gaulle and General Franco.   Both were strong men, who were vain enough to think that nobody could possibly replace them after their deaths.   Both men thought that the best way to preserve their nations in the future was through the restoration of their national monarchies.

De Gaulle was a close friend of the Comte de Paris, the descendant of the Orleanist monarch, Louis Phillipe, who ruled France from 1830-1848.   The Comte was aware of de Gaulle’s desire to restore the monarchy.

In 1968, France was rocked by student riots and violence across the country.   DeGaulle presented constitutional reforms (not including a restoration) that were rejected, leading to his resignation as President of France in April, 1969.   He died one year later.   De Gaulle, the inspiration behind the Fifth Republic in 1958, need not have worried  — the Fifth Republic remains to this day.

General Franco of Spain, a fascist dictator, had more time to think about the Spanish succession, proclaiming that his heir and successor was to be Juan Carlos, of the Bourbon line of monarchs. As soon as Franco died in 1975, Juan Carlos was proclaimed king.   Rather than continuing Franco’s conservative ideology, the new King dedicated himself to protecting Spanish democracy, thereby at the same time preserving the monarchy.   He even had the respect and support of Spanish communists.

Vladimir Putin may be thinking along the same lines.   He’s been a very strong leader, with a 90% approval rating at times.   He must be fearful of Russia’s future after he leaves the scene.

The restoration of the Romanov dynasty along Spanish lines, may be just what he’s thinking.   He’s already reviving Russian culture, and has helped the church take center stage.

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SYRIA SIGNS UP TO PARIS ACCORD

The US is now the only country in the world that has not signed up to the Paris climate treaty.   Syria was the only other holdout, but has now signed.

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PARADISE PAPERS SCANDAL

The Anglo-Saxon world loves its scandals, especially when its leaders are exposed.   In this regard, the Paradise Papers did not disappoint.

While TV audiences are focused on who has what and why, it should be emphasized that absolutely no one “exposed” broke the law.  They simply took advantage of legal tax loopholes, just as most people do, only theirs is on a much bigger scale than the average citizen.

The only law-breaking going on here was by the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, which somehow gained access to private financial information.   The paper’s partners in this enterprise included the British Guardian newspaper and the New York Times.  No surprises there.

Another concern is this:   the revelations are the latest “scandal” to undermine our institutions.   As if the Harvey Weinstein and other sexual revelations are not enough, we now have nightly reports that Queen Elizabeth II (and others) have been protecting their assets by moving them beyond the control of national governments.

Times have certainly changed.   Fifty years ago, royal tour-guides would proudly announce that the British monarch was the richest woman in the world.   Now, she’s not even in the top 500 wealthiest people in Britain (J.K. Rowling heads the female list), and people are getting riled about it.

The amount involved was only 10 million pounds ($13 million).

Exactly 100 years after the class warfare of the Russian Revolution, people have learned nothing.   All socialism brought was “equal shares of misery for all” (Margaret Thatcher’s definition).   Do we really want to embrace it again, naively thinking it will improve all our lives?

A YEAR OF CHANGES

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has repeatedly warned the European Union to stick by a promise of visa free travel for Turks © AFP/File Adem Altan
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has repeatedly warned the European Union to stick by a promise of visa free travel for Turks.     © AFP/File Adem Altan

For centuries the Ottoman Empire posed a serious threat to Europe.   The powerful caliphate ruled from Istanbul was only halted at the gates of Vienna by Catholic forces that did not want to be conquered by Islam.

In the nineteenth century, the Europeans were able to push the Ottomans back, freeing countries in south-east Europe that had been ruled for centuries by the Ottoman Sultan. At the end of World War I, the Ottoman Empire, after more than six centuries, collapsed and was replaced by the Turkish Republic.

Now Europe is granting visa-free travel to the 80 million citizens of Turkey, meaning that the descendants of the Ottoman conquerors will be allowed into Europe whenever and wherever they want.

Another interesting development at the other end of Europe is the election of the first Muslim mayor of a major European capital.   In London, Sadiq Khan, the son of Pakistani immigrants, is taking over from conservative Boris Johnson, presiding over one of the world’s greatest financial centers.

By the looks of things, Europe is not going to put up a fight against the latest Muslim invasion.

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At the same time, the London Stock Exchange is coming under German control.   Even if the UK votes to leave the EU, that won’t change – the country will still lose a great deal of its independence.

David Cameron, the British prime minister, in calling for Britain to remain in the EU, expressed the opinion today that whenever Britain withdraws from Europe, it leads to war.   This is a perverse interpretation of British history.   As one commentator put it on the BBC World Service this morning, “He’s got it the wrong way round.”

Britain maintained its distance from Europe after the country broke away from the Roman Catholic Church in the sixteenth century.   The country chose the open sea over the neighboring continental land-mass and only got involved in European affairs when a dictator arose trying to conquer the continent.  Wars were fought against Louis XIV, Napoleon, the Kaiser and Hitler.

It wasn’t until 1973 that this policy changed, when the country entered what became the EU and turned its back on the Commonwealth it had built up over centuries.

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Meanwhile, on the mainland, changes are taking place.

The Austrian Chancellor (prime minister) resigned today, as he no longer enjoyed the support of his party, the Social Democrats.

His resignation follows on the partial victory of the right-wing Freedom Party’s candidate for the role of president, largely a ceremonial role.   There is to be a second round of voting which is expected to assure his assuming office.

Austria, like a number of European countries, is in a state of turmoil following the arrival of well over a million “refugees” from Syria and other countries.   There is a growing fear of Islamization.   Extremist parties are gaining momentum, promising to do something to stop the invasion and to ensure the preservation of their national way of life.

It’s definitely a year of change for Europe.

A Brexit (British exit from the EU) could trigger off changes across the continent.  The EU itself may fall apart;  the unity of the United Kingdom could be threatened; David Cameron would likely have to resign; other countries might want to vote on withdrawing from the European Union.

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A final amusing note comes from Australia. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has asked the Governor-General (Queen Elizabeth’s representative in the country) to disband parliament before an election in two months.   Two months of campaigning will be a record for Australia – and people are complaining.

They should take note that their American allies have been going through an election for almost a year now and still have six months to go.

Australia anybody?