Tag Archives: Brexit

TALIBAN VICTORY IN AFGHANISTAN

Afghanistan Taliban members

Our neighborhood has had internet problems all week, so my blog is shorter than usual.   It should be solved by 5pm tonight.

“At the July 7-8 talks in Doha, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Taliban organization), backed by Qatar and the U.S., emerged victorious, extracting major advantages from Afghan delegates and the international community.   A key Taliban advantage was that they held on to the Islamic Emirate’s long-standing position of not recognizing the elected government of Afghanistan as a legitimate entity.   While the Afghan delegates, including those from the government, were forced to attend the talks in their personal capacity, the Taliban representatives came to the table as the Taliban.

“As per a statement issued by Qatar, Dr. Mutlaq bin Majid Al-Qahtani, the Qatari Special Envoy for Counterterrorism and Mediation in Conflict Resolution, announced the “success” of the talks, stating:   “We are very pleased today to reach a joint statement as a first step to peace.”  The “success” and the “first step to peace” which Al-Qahtani spoke of belong to the Taliban and shari’a, not to the democratic government in Kabul, not to Afghan women who suffered under the Taliban’s shari’a rule during the 1990s, and not to common Afghans whose civil liberties are at stake in Doha.

“The Afghan Taliban – as a result of the Doha talks which were sponsored jointly by Qatar and Germany – marched closer to their stated objectives of enforcing Islamic shari’a rule in Afghanistan and of restructuring the Afghan government institutions, including the military, to their liking.”   (Tufail Ahmad, MEMRI #191. 7/12/19)

A total of almost 3,500 coalition forces have died in the 18-year conflict.

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BRITISH CLASH WITH IRAN

There was a time, even in my lifetime, when the British dominated the Persian Gulf.   But that was before 1971.   Now, a British naval presence is once again essential, to protect British shipping.   A British tanker was intercepted by Iranian vessels earlier in the week.

This was seen as retaliation for a previous confrontation off the coast of (British) Gibraltar.

Things were a lot easier during the four centuries when Britain had the greatest navy in the world.   The navy held the “multitude of nations” together (Genesis 48:19).   Since World War II it has been allowed to decline, so that more and more money could be spent on Britain’s welfare system and its National Health Service.

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BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO US QUITS

The American Ambassador to the Court of St. James (London), has always, in effect, bought his way into the position.   His contribution to the presidential election campaign would have been one of the largest contributions made.

Not so the other way around.

Britain’s diplomatic service is always made up of career diplomats. Nobody has bought a position and the service is non-political.

This week, unexpectedly, it became “political” when a memo from the British Ambassador in Washington was leaked.   The memo evaluated the Trump Administration as “inept.”

President Trump exploded and the Ambassador resigned.   President Trump rightly felt he could no longer work with the man.

The Ambassador will take early retirement (he was due to retire at the end of the year, anyway).   The big question is:  who leaked the memo and why?

It may have something to do with Brexit.   What doesn’t nowadays?

Somebody might be trying to damage US-UK relations at a time when Brexit is imminent.   Could this worsen relations with the US and therefore make it more likely that Britain will stay in Europe?  Or could it have been an attempt to get rid of a man who is critical of the US president, in time for Boris Johnson to become PM and appoint a more pro-US Ambassador?

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CHENNAI OUT OF WATER

India’s sixth biggest city has run out of water.   Tankers have to deliver water to its seven million plus inhabitants.

It highlights a problem that is set to make life much harder for people around the world.

Water is the one commodity that people can’t live without.

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QUESTION TIME

I’m now able to watch BBC Question Time on a regular basis.  This is courtesy of Britbox, a streaming service.  The one-hour program is shown on British television on Thursday evening and I can see it Friday morning. We’ve come a long way in the last few years.

The program is not one I can say I enjoy.  It raises my blood pressure alarmingly!  But it’s a clear reminder of how far the British people have gone astray.  As it says in the Book of Hosea:   My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).   There isn’t even a basic grasp of Biblical knowledge.

Typically, there are five panelists and a supposedly random audience, made up of members of the public.   Members of the public put questions to the panel, who then answer them.   Only two of the panelists gave reasonable answers.   One was a Ghanaian member of the British parliament, the other the head of Witherspoons’, the country’s biggest pub chain. In the audience, only one supported Brexit, whereas 51.7% did in the country as a whole.

One panelist was a raving leftist loonie.   She was the most vocal.

Fortunately, the panelists differ from week to week, but it’s doubtful they will ever have one made up of five conservatives.

Which brings me to the Democratic Party’s ten contenders last night and ten tonight.

Age is obviously a hindrance for me.  I can remember when the Democrats were simply a left of center party claiming to fight for better pay and conditions for working men.   That was 50 years ago. Now, they are the main party advocating infanticide, excessive spending that would wreck the economy, an alien invasion and a total transformation of the social lives of the people, replacing the norm with LGBTQ adherents.

I can’t help feeling that a backlash is coming, one way or the other. Perhaps it will come after national bankruptcy.   It’s not just that the party lacks ideological sense;  it also lacks common sense.

>>Mark Steyn, 6/27:   “Bernie comes up with an action plan for American student debt: PRINT MORE MONEY”.

>> A report in today’s USA Today shows that young people are turning against the LGBTQ community.   It’s another sign that liberalism has gone too far.

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LONDON KILLINGS

One question that came up on “Question Time” was the issue of London’s outbreak of stabbings.   All kinds of theories were brought up to explain why they have seen an increasing number of stabbings in recent years.

One theory that was not mentioned seems the most likely.  That’s the fact that London is the most multicultural city in the world.  With people from every country, and with 50% of the population made up of immigrants, many people have formed gangs along ethnic lines. These gangs are very territorial and constantly fight each other. Over drugs, too.

For generations, when the British had colonies all over the world, they kept hostile tribes apart.  Now they have to do the same at home.  They seem to be failing.

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FOUR MORE MONTHS = 40

The number 40 is of Biblical significance, separating one epoch from another. It can show God’s intervention in human affairs.

At the end of October, it will be forty months since the vote on Brexit.   October 31st is the day by which the UK is set to leave the European Union.

Knowing what is to come in Europe, this may be God’s way of delivering the modern Israelites from the prophesied European Beast power, which is to come.

This most likely means that Boris Johnson will be the next prime minister.   He has promised Brexit by the due date.

Alternatively, if it’s Jeremy Hunt, the Europeans will have to kick Britain out.   They have already made if clear there can be no more negotiations, so why bother?

>>Carrie Symonds, Boris’ girlfriend, turns out to be a feminist and an environmentalist.  No wonder they had a blowup last week!   Meanwhile, the liberal leftist neighbours who reported on this to The Guardian, are in hiding, after having received death threats. Brexit is nasty.

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REPARATIONS FOR SLAVERY

It’s not surprising that the Democrats are in favor of reparations for slavery.   As the party of slavery, they have a lot to atone for.

Of course, slavery was a long time ago.   But, even in my lifetime, the Democrats were instrumental in depriving African-Americans in the south of the vote and, therefore, their civil rights.

True to form, the welfare reforms brought in by LBJ, have destroyed the African-American family.

What will they do next to make life harder for the country’s second biggest minority?

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A WORLD WITHOUT THE US

“If one wanted to see what a world without US influence looks like, you could have been an observer at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Bishkek on Friday, and then gone to Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe the next day for the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA).

Together, these summits include more than 30 member and observer states and provided a forum for an emerging alliance of Russia, China, Turkey and Iran to discuss regional and global issues without Western powers present.   This is important because all of these countries, for different reasons, have faced challenges from Washington in recent years.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jingping met on Friday with leaders of Central Asian states, as well as India and Pakistan, to discuss regional and global issues.   They adopted the Bishkek Declaration that sought to emphasize the need to fight “three forces of evil,” including separatism, terrorism and extremism. Russia’s Tass News Agency felt this was important to note. In addition, the countries are working to challenge “cross-border crime” and “build a multi-polar world order.”

(“Two central Asia summits challenge the United States,” Seth Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, 6/15 Middle East Forum).  (Original title: “The Central Asia summits that show Washington is losing its grip.”)

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G20 SET TO DISCUSS TRADE

President Trump and world leaders are meeting in Osaka, Japan.   World trade is certain to be discussed.   On Saturday, Mr. Trump meets with China’s President Xi.   Hopefully, they can resolve their trade dispute.   If they fail, the world seems headed for a full-scale trade war.

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A SIGN OF THE TIMES

“A lie can travel around the world quicker than the truth gets out of bed.” (Tony Dokoupil, CBS This Morning)

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EU DIVISIONS OVER ARMAMENTS

In the arms industry, tensions between Berlin and Paris are growing as new steps are made to develop the next-generation of EU aerial combat systems.   The signing of new agreements concerning the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) on Monday in Paris was overshadowed by warnings from the German Bundestag that companies from Germany must be granted at least 50 percent of the contracts for the development and construction of the FCAS.

At the same time, Berlin is seeking to shift the balance of forces involved in the development and construction of a new Franco-German battle tank to Germany’s advantage.   The battle tank is conceived to be part of the future Main Ground Combat Systems (MGCS), which – like the FCAS – should operate in close conjunction with other weapons including unmanned systems.   While the German government is aiming to establish the Franco-German combat systems as a standard within the EU, to channel as much profit as possible to Germany, Great Britain, excluded from the German – French project, is developing its own rival combat aircraft.   (German Foreign Policy, 6/20)

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ANGELA MERKEL’S HEALTH

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was seen trembling once again during a ceremony in Berlin on Thursday, eight days after a similar incident.

Video showed Mrs. Merkel, 64, gripping her arms as her body was shaking on Thursday.   After about two minutes, she looked steadier and shook hands with the new justice minister.

She was offered a glass of water, but did not drink it.   Mrs. Merkel had blamed the previous incident on dehydration.

She later set off for the G20 summit in Japan as planned at lunchtime.

“All is going ahead as planned.   The federal chancellor is fine,” spokesman Steffen Seibert said.   (BBC 6/27)

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SARCASM GETS POINT ACROSS ON TRUMP AND HITLER

Trump Derangement Syndrome:   Hitler Hitler Hitler!   Trump could be Hitler except he has a Jewish daughter, son-in-law and Jewish grandchildren.   He could totally be Hitler except for moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem.   And he could certainly be Hitler except for recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Worst anti-Semite ever.   (Mark Steyn, 6/27)

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I’m writing this while seated in a Tim Horton’s coffee and donut shop (I only had a drink!). On TV, Dr Phil’s subject of the day is “My husband’s face is used for catfish bait”!   TV doesn’t get any better. 

Fortunately, I can’t hear it.

BOTSWANA ENDS SEXUAL DISCRIMINATION

Activists pose with a rainbow flag as they celebrate outside Botswana High Court in Gaborone on June 11, 2019. Tshekiso Tebalo/AFP/Getty Images

Botswana has become the latest nation to legalize sexual relations between members of the same sex.   This puts them at odds with most African nations, but brings them into line with neighboring South Africa, which enshrined anti-discrimination in their new post-apartheid constitution.

African nations have long persecuted homosexuals, believing that sexual preference is simply a choice.

Botswana used to benefit immensely during the apartheid era from white men crossing the border to have relations outside of marriage with African women. Inter-racial sex was banned under apartheid.

Now same-sex relations are on a par with adultery.   They are both legal.  As is fornication.   I Corinthians 6, written by the Apostle Paul, lists all three as sins that will keep a person out of the kingdom of God.   If you study the Greek, you will find that all three involve penetration.

“ Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?   Do not be deceived.   Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”

A female lawyer in Botswana explained on DW.news that the previous law went back to 1533.   Botswana only goes back to 1966.  But before that, it was a British colony and inherited many British laws.

Before 1533, ecclesiastical courts used to deal with all of these sins.   In 1533 England passed the anti-buggery laws.

It was the country’s first civil sodomy law, such offenses having previously been dealt with by the ecclesiastical courts.   The Act defined buggery as an unnatural sexual act against the will of God and man. ”  (wikipedia)

Adultery and fornication were not mentioned, as King Henry VIII was a serial adulterer.   They were also passed at this time because Henry was breaking away from the Church of Rome (1532-34) and the ecclesiastical courts ceased to exist.

Wikipedia has this to say on the break with Rome:

“The break with Rome was effected by a series of acts of Parliament passed between 1532 and 1534, among them the 1534 Act of Supremacy, which declared that Henry was the “Supreme Head on earth of the Church of England.”

These anti-sodomy laws were later “exported” to British colonies. Over half the countries in the world that still outlaw this particular sin are former British colonies.   Britain, through its Commonwealth ties, has been encouraging nations to change but many still strictly enforce the laws.

This is hypocritical, to say the least.   Many African nations come down hard on same-sex relationships, while their leaders commit serial adultery.   In African culture, the “big man” syndrome encourages men in public office to have plenty of relationships with women.   Churches don’t help, often turning a blind eye to adultery and fornication, while condemning homosexuality.

Of course, in an ideal world, fornication, adultery and sodomy would not exist.  We will have to wait for the Kingdom of God to see that happen.  But persecuting a minority in today’s world is not going to stop anything.

The Enduring Word Commentary has this to say on I Corinthians 6:

“Paul did not write in or of a “homophobic” culture.   Homosexuality was rampant in the ancient world; 14 out of the first 15 Roman emperors were bisexual or homosexual.   At the very time Paul wrote, Nero was emperor.   Nero castrated a boy named Sporus and then married him (with a full ceremony), brought him to the palace with a great procession, and made the boy his “wife.”   Later, the emperor lived with another man, and Nero was declared to be the other man’s “wife.”   In this list of sins, homosexuality (not some “special” version of homosexuality) is described, but it is described right along with other sins.  Some who so strongly denounce homosexuals are guilty of other sins on this list.   Can fornicators or adulterers or the covetous or drunkards rightly condemn homosexuals?   Of course not.

“Christians err when they excuse homosexuality, and deny that it is sin, but they also err just as badly when they single it out as a sin God is uniquely angry with.”   (Enduring Word Commentary)

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HONG KONG RIOTS

Talking of the legacy of the British Empire, Hong Kong is a territory in upheaval, with hundreds of thousands of people (all Chinese) rebelling against the Extradition Bill, that could have them all sent to mainland China for prosecution.

Hong Kong was British for over 150 years. During that time, the people were acquainted with freedom. The law was separate from the government.   China has no such tradition.

Although all the people are Chinese, many obviously still want the British tradition.   According to the Basic Law, they were guaranteed that for fifty years after Beijing took control of the former colony they could keep their laws and traditions.   Less than halfway into the fifty years, China has clearly changed its mind.

That makes it less likely that Taiwan will ever consent to being taken over by China.

China, we must never forget, is a one party state with all that that implies.   China will win this one.

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CHERNOBYL

The nuclear reactor at Chernobyl, which exploded in 1986, is now the subject of a five part television series, produced by HBO and Sky. We found it excellent, compelling viewing.  (Warning:   it contains a scene showing nudity – but not involving sex.)

Again, it shows the absurdity of socialist thinking, that everything (even a disaster) has to be directed by the party.   Mikhail Gorbachev wrote that Chernobyl was the biggest single factor in the fall of the Soviet Union.

The official death toll was 31.   The actual death toll is closer to 31,000!

It should be compulsory viewing for Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and AOC – and all those inclined to vote for them.

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PELOSI SORRY FOR THE POOR

From the Financial Times (3rd June) comes the following on Nancy Pelosi:

“It is dangerous to underestimate Nancy Pelosi . . .

“It is interesting, however, that Ms. Pelosi says:   “What took me from the kitchen to Congress was knowing that one in five children in America lives in poverty.   I just can’t stand that.”   (Anne Marie Slaughter, FT)

(COMMENT:   In which case, why is she in favor of allowing in so many refugees?   They depress wages at the bottom, making it harder for Americans.)

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BREXIT DEVELOPMENTS

The Conservative Party has ten people vying for the leadership.  One of them is Boris Johnson, a maverick who has been likened to Donald Trump, who is a personal friend.   Mr. Johnson was born in the US, so could actually also run for president.

Although Boris says he would prefer a deal with the EU, he is promising to leave the EU by October 31st, with or without a deal.   In an attempt to thwart this, and stop Britain leaving without a deal, a parliamentary vote this week was narrowly lost, meaning that the country can leave without a deal.

If the vote had gone the other way, Britain would have been in the position of not being able to get a deal and not being able to leave without one.   The country would have, effectively, been a prisoner of the EU indefinitely.

It should be clear to everyone that the biggest obstacle to leaving remains parliament.   Supposedly the house of the people,   it has become the house that denies the voice of the people.   At the next election, people should remember this and vote the incumbents out of office.

Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon has visited Brussels once again.  The leader of Scotland seems determined to keep Scotland in the EU. The only way this is possible is if Scotland breaks away from England.

“Ms. Sturgeon said that because of Brexit “there is now a deeper understanding” in EU capitals “of why Scotland might want to be independent” compared to in 2014, when the Scottish referendum took place.   “The vibe here compared to 2014 about this question is like night and day,” she said.”  (Brussels Briefing, FT, June 12th).

Scotland would need a great deal of financial help if she left the United Kingdom.   Only one country could give her what she needs – Germany.   What would England do if Scotland broke away and formed a de facto alliance with Germany?

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WAR WITH IRAN?

The latest attack on oil tankers in the Straits of Hormuz raises the stakes in the Persian Gulf.   Undoubtedly, Iran was responsible.

Although war with the US is not likely, another regional war could start over this.   The United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia, both Sunni Muslim nations, could be provoked into a conflict with their arch enemy, Iran.   If that happens, it’s difficult to see how the United States could remain uninvolved.

Many Bible students are fond of identifying Iran with the King of the South, the ancient prophecy in Daniel 11.   It’s difficult to see how Iran can be the king of the South now when it was a part of the King of the North in biblical times!

Don’t look for rationale in this.   Iran’s theology embraces an apocalyptic vision of the future, which might encourage them to go to war.

Iran has three times the military power Iraq did.   If there is a conflict, it could tie down the US for years.

TRUMP’S VISIT TO ENGLAND

At long last, some good news!

President Trump’s visit to the United Kingdom was very successful and has given the British people a much needed boost in the midst of Brexit.

The British would probably have been ok even without the US, but Trump’s promise of a trade deal couldn’t have come at a better time.   Mrs. May ceases to be prime minister at the end of the week, having failed in her bid to do a “deal” with Europe.  (She will continue in a caretaker role until a new leader of the Conservative Party is chosen.)

Mr. Trump made the effort to talk to Boris Johnson and to meet with both Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove, the three most likely men to replace Mrs. May.   He already knew the first two.  He also spent some time with Nigel Farage, leader of the Brexit party.   Mr. Trump is firmly on the side of Brexit, which will put a dent in the European Union, arguably America’s greatest trade rival.

Some voices were raised against Trump.  PBS said the “streets were flooded” with demonstrators.  250,000 were expected; 75,000 turned up, according to organizers.   Others felt the number was considerably less.   Hardly a flood!   An opinion poll found that 46% of the British people supported the visit; only 40% were against. Those numbers were a lot better than on his previous visit.   People have seemingly become aware that he is in favor of a strong, individual nation state, and against globalization.

He was well received by the royal family, in spite of the revelation of a negative comment made by Meghan Markle prior to her marriage to Prince Harry.

Criticism from London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, continues but it did not influence anybody else.   Mr. Khan, a Muslim, began his spat with Trump when the president introduced curbs on immigrants from Muslim countries.   His negativity only strengthens how actor John Cleese described London a few days ago as a non-English city – it’s unlikely to be in step with the rest of the country from now on. Jeremy Corbyn was another critical voice.   The leader of the Labor Party seems happy to meet with terrorist leaders but not with the US president.

President Trump extolled the virtues of the Anglo-American alliance, two nations that have been the greatest alliance in history. It took Robert Tuttle, a former US Ambassador to the UK on Sky TV, to add another three countries:   “Canada, Australia and New Zealand.”   The Australian prime minister sat behind the Queen and President for the celebrations commemorating D-Day.   The Canadian prime minister was also present.   All three countries contributed to the D-Day landings.

There are now two clearly defined ideas when it comes to the future of the western world.   Angela Merkel gave the commencement speech at Harvard University.   Her priority is still globalization.   While Trump’s speeches in England were all about the nation state.   Comments posted to websites talked about role reversal – that Merkel believes in freedom while Trump is for fascism.   Such comments show people’s ignorance.   Nationalism is a far cry from fascism.   And fascism is more likely to come out of the EU than the US.   Too many people on the left are too quick to label a conservative “fascist.”

CONSTITUTIONAL CHALLENGES

Other challenges lie ahead. Britain is in the midst of a constitutional crisis; the US seems headed for one.

Britain’s is all to do with Brexit.  And the referendum on the subject was won three years ago by supporters of the country leaving the EU.   Parliament will not support the British people’s vote and, instead, is split between those who support Brexit with a deal and those who wish to remain members of the EU.   Those supporting Brexit with a deal are not facing reality as the EU will not give them a deal it could accept.   The uncertainty has gone on for three years, eroding any respect for Britain that the EU might have had.   If they upset the EU any more, they may find themselves kicked out of the organization.

On the anniversary of D-Day today, June 6th, the Daily Express Head of News, Paul Baldwin, mused on the anniversary of the landings:  “It’s interesting and quite moving to think that 75 years ago today one of the biggest armadas ever assembled was about to set off and head for northern France and liberate Europe from the yoke of Nazism.   And we’re now seeing 75 years later that Britain is, at best, tolerated by our European neighbors and at worst, possibly despised.”   (Daily Express 6/6)

Not only is there uncertainty over Brexit.   There is also uncertainty over who will replace Mrs. May as PM.   The choice is most undemocratic.

“At some point in June or July roughly 124,000 people in Britain can expect to receive a ballot paper in the post.   It will offer them the names of two Conservative MPs (members of parliament).   The one they select will, shortly thereafter, enter 10 Downing Street as prime minister.   The rest of Britain’s 66 million inhabitants will have no say whatsoever.”   (“The Referendums and the damage done,” The Economist, 6/1).

The new leader will serve out the term of this government.   Then he will have to stand for election with everyone else and may be defeated.   More uncertainty.

The US has a constitutional crisis pending, as most Democrats want President Trump to be impeached, claiming his behavior warrants this.   More likely, it’s because they know there is no prospect of winning the 2020 election and want to find some way to get rid of him so that a Democrat is more likely to win.   In other words, it’s all politics.

But, the process of impeachment would damage the US considerably.   Financial markets hate instability.   Trump has been good for business; any attempt to remove him would likely have a negative effect on the economy.

So, both countries may have constitutional crises’ at the same time.

This would make ineffective the famed Anglo-American alliance, upon which the free world has been largely built.

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)

NOTRE DAME, NO ORDINARY FIRE

The fire at Notre Dame Cathedral, which began on Monday night, has had one beneficial effect – it has united France after months of yellow vest demonstrations and riots.   This may only be temporary.

Long term, there may be other long lasting effects.

Prior to the conflagration, just one day earlier, a fascinating article appeared on the Gatestone website:   “European churches: Vandalized, defecated on and torched “every day”.”   In fact, twice a day churches are desecrated, just in France.

  • “In virtually every instance of church attacks, authorities and media obfuscate the identity of the vandals.   In those rare instances when the Muslim (or “migrant”) identity of the destroyers is leaked, the desecraters are then presented as suffering from mental health issues.
  • “Hardly anyone writes and speaks about the increasing attacks on Christian symbols.   There is an eloquent silence in both France and Germany about the scandal of the desecrations and the origin of the perpetrators , , ,   Not a word, not even the slightest hint that could in anyway lead to the suspicion of migrants . . .   It is not the perpetrators who are in danger of being ostracized, but those who dare to associate the desecration of Christian symbols with immigrant imports.   They are accused of hatred, hate speech and racism.” — PI News, March 24, 2019

(Gatestone, April 14th.)

All Christians should be very concerned about these attacks.  Many may not like these ancient churches, full of idols that defy the second commandment (Ex.20:4), but attacks on them reflect a growing intolerance to all forms of Christianity.   While the loss of relics (the crown of thorns worn by Christ at the crucifixion; and a piece of the actual cross on which He died), may not mean anything to non-Catholics, the world’s biggest religion attaches a great deal of importance to them.   David Muir, of ABC News and a Catholic, described these relics as if they are real, beyond question.   This is the way that many feel.

It is not known, yet, whether the fire was started deliberately, but after two attacks on French churches a day it seems quite likely. Also, the timing is indicative of a deliberate attack, coming on the second day of Holy Week, the most sacred week of the year in the Catholic calendar.

We can only speculate on what caused the fire, but what is known is that jihadists, worldwide, celebrated when news of the fire reached them.

“Jihadis celebrated the destruction of large parts of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in a devastating fire on April 15, 2019.   Reactions by jihadis on social media refer to the cathedral as a symbol of Christianity and a major point of origin for the Crusades.   Several describe the fire as punishment for various crimes attributed to France or to Christians in general, such as France’s military intervention in Muslim countries or the mosque massacres in New Zealand.   Some jihadis, including leading figures, view the incident as a good omen heralding calamities for the West and the global order.”   (MEMRI, 4/16)

At the very least, the presence of millions of Muslims in the West is complicating National security.   One day after the fire, Shemima Begum, an ISIS fighter originally from Britain, was granted tax-payer funded legal aid to fight the British government’s ban on her returning.   With so many anti-British “liberals” in England, it is becoming impossible to do anything about these security threats.

It’s likely that Shemima will return to the UK and live off British welfare while espousing her hatred and contempt for all things British!   She remains loyal to ISIS.

COULD THE FIRE REVIVE THE CHURCH?

Rachel Donadio, a Paris based staff writer for the Atlantic, writes:

“Commentators were seeing the fire as a symbol of how the Catholic Church needs to be restored as an institution as much as a building. Like so many of Europe’s great churches and places of pilgrimage, Notre-Dame is dedicated to the Virgin Mary.   This is the Church as mother and protector, an aspect the institution has not excelled at in the years since the sexual-abuse crisis erupted.

“It’s hard to convey just how significant Notre Dame is for France. Listening to the newscasters wrestle with their formulations about the crown of thorns, it became clear that the devastation of the cathedral had laid bare all the paradoxes of the country.   Here is a secular republic, dedicated to the principle of laïcité, or the absence of religion in public life, that has as its national symbol a cathedral. Here is a country that deposed its king in a revolution, yet now sees its embattled president as a new monarch—one that some of its “yellow vest” protesters want to depose again.”  (“France’s Paradoxes, embodied in a cathedral”, 4/16.)

Mr. Macron, France’s president, has pledged to rebuild the cathedral within five years, in time for Paris to host the 2024 Olympics.

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EU-US TRADE WAR

Brussels has warned that US products from hazelnuts to tractors could face punitive tariffs in retaliation for state support to Boeing, as Washington and Brussels gear up for the next stage of their long-running transatlantic dispute over aircraft subsidies.   The European Commission on Wednesday published a draft list of products that could be targeted for additional duties.   The move follows a victory for the EU at the World Trade Organization, which ruled last month that Washington had failed to end an illegal tax break to Boeing.  The list’s publication comes only days after the US announced similar plans to target up to $11bn of EU products in response to WTO rulings against subsidies for Airbus.   (“Brussels sets out 420 billion list of US goods facing tariffs; http://www.ft.com, 4/17)

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PRESIDENTIAL SUICIDE

Former Peruvian president Alan García shot himself dead on Wednesday after police arrived at his house to arrest him as part of a corruption investigation.   The government said that when officers arrived at his home, García withdrew to a closed room to phone his lawyer.   They heard a gunshot minutes later, broke down the door and found the former president with a wound to the head.   They rushed him to hospital where he underwent surgery.   He died a few hours later.   President Martin Vizcarra confirmed the news on Twitter, sending his condolences to García’s family and loved ones. (Financial Times, 4/17)

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GERMANY BRINGS BREXIT TO A CLOSE

Germany’s foreign minister has warned London that there will be no Brexit extension beyond October, sending out the strongest signal yet that Berlin’s patience with the UK’s deadlocked political system is starting to wear out.   “They will have to decide what they want by October,” Heiko Maas told the Financial Times in an interview.  “You cannot drag out Brexit for a decade.”  (Tobias Buck, Financial Times, 4/17)

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PELOSI DICTATES ON BREXIT

LONDON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is leading a congressional delegation to Britain and Ireland this week.   What’s being discussed?    “Brexit, Brexit, Brexit,” she said.

In the old days, bilateral U.S.-U.K. talks would be all about counterterrorism, intelligence sharing, NATO, Russia and China – and the special relationship.

Today, Brexit dominates.    And on one particular point, Pelosi is emphatic:    Don’t mess with the Irish peace accord.

The speaker said Tuesday that she had warned Prime Minister Theresa May, Conservative pro-Brexit hard-liners and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn that if the churn of Britain’s messy break with the European Union in any way weakens the Northern Ireland peace pact known as the Belfast or Good Friday Agreement, the U.S. Congress will block any trade deals Britain might seek with the United States.

“Don’t even think about that,” Pelosi said she had warned.   “We made it clear to all that if there were any harm to Good Friday accords, no treaty.”

Pelosi did not have to remind her hosts that the Trump administration can negotiate treaties and trade deals.   But she emphasized that Congress has to approve them.    (William Booth, Washington Post, 4/16).

Mrs Pelosi is a Catholic, and is siding with the Irish Republic on this issue.

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WHAT’S THAT NOISE?

Sunday morning, while listening to a CD of Rachmaninov, our seven-year-old grandson looked up from his train and asked:   “What’s that noise?”   He clearly is not a fan.

BRITAIN’S NATIONAL HUMILIATION

Prime Minister Theresa May arrived outside the chancellery earlier than scheduled with the German chancellor nowhere to be seen to welcome her.
Prime Minister Theresa May arrived outside the chancellery earlier than scheduled with the German chancellor nowhere to be seen to welcome her.

As if to emphasize her growing isolation, Mrs. Theresa May stood at the Berlin chancellory alone.   Her flight arrived early and Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, was a little late.

She started her week with a visit to Berlin and Paris, to meet German and French leaders.   Her purpose was to ask for a second extension to Brexit, due on Friday, April 12th.    The French president seemed reluctant to support her request, but is now supportive.   Her biggest problem is going to be back home.

It’s not just the Queen who must be frustrated with parliament (see picture above), Mrs. May is presiding over the most divided parliament in living memory.

A friend of mine wrote from the UK:   “What a shambles!  The worst Prime Minister since Chamberlain, the most dysfunctional Parliament since Cromwell, the worst leader of the Labour Party ever, plus a rogue Commons Speaker.   A recipe for a ‘perfect storm’.”

“Britain’s new departure date was set for October 31 in what was the EU’s second approval of an extension in less than a month.   The UK will be able to leave earlier if it is able to ratify the withdrawal agreement reached between Mrs. May and the EU.   The humiliating decision for Mrs. May leaves Britain facing elections within six weeks to the European Parliament.   It will heap pressure on the prime minister from Eurosceptic Conservative MPs furious with her leadership and the postponement of Brexit.”  (“EU leaders agree to six month Brexit delay.” Financial Times, 4.11)

A scripture that comes to mind through all this is:   “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.”   (Matthew 12:25).

The country has never been so divided.

It seems as if Britain is incapable of standing up for herself.

The Daily Telegraph reports today that the fixation on a deal is not so much Mrs. May, but senior non-elected advisers in the government, who cannot imagine laving the EU without an agreement that binds the UK to it.   The “deep state” in the UK is just as dangerous as it is in the US.

“Groveling Britain has officially surrendered to a triumphant EU,” wrote Andrew Lilico, in today’s Daily Telegraph (4/11).

“Theresa May will soon learn the terms of her latest Brexit extension, which Emmanuel Macron wants to make as punishing as possible.   Why so?   He’s in deep trouble at home, says Jonathan Miller, and thinks a bit of Brit-bashing will help.”   (Fraser Nelson, The Spectator, 4/11/19).

“Brexit rolls on for another six months.   Just after the stroke of midnight, EU27 leaders gave the UK a new Brexit fright night: October 31 (Halloween).“   (Mehreen Khan, Financial Times 4/11)

President Trump has warned the “brutal” EU that “it will all come back to bite you.”    Mr. Trump has his own problems with the EU and is threatening $11 billion in tariffs on EU products.   He may be surprised at how hard the EU can hit back!

LEGACY OF EU MEMBERSHIP

When Britain entered the EU in January 1973 (at the time it was the EEC – the European Economic Community), there were only six members (Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Holland and Luxemburg). Today there are 28 (27 without Britain).   It is doubtful many of the others would have joined if the UK had not signed up.

Additionally, Britain has been a net contributor, helping new (and poorer) members to grow economically.   Britain has been at the forefront of creating an economic superpower.   She is leaving at a time when the EU is strengthening ties, with the creation of a military union.  In effect, Britain has created a (potentially) European military and political superpower, right on her doorstep.

At the same time, Britain handed over many of her former colonies, who signed up to the ACP Lome Convention. African, Caribbean and Pacific nations, tied themselves to the EU.

It’s difficult to see how Britain can recover from her EU membership, but the sooner she is out, the sooner she can make a start.

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BREXIT’S IMPACT ON GERMANY

(Own report) – Germany’s Minister of the Economy, Peter Altmaier, warns of the consequences a “hard” Brexit would have on Germany, and sees the danger of the loss of “thousands of jobs.”   Brussels and London must absolutely “prevent the big crash at the last moment,” declared Altmaier yesterday.   The Federation of German Industries (BDI) had already warned that a hard Brexit could cost Germany a half-percentage point in growth – €17 billion this year alone.   For months, think tanks have been pointing out that Germany would be the country most affected on the continent, if the United Kingdom makes an unregulated exit.   Germany possibly may have to expect double-digit billions in annual losses.   Most recently, the Bertelsmann Foundation assumed that the losses could be broken down to €115 per inhabitant of Germany.   Those losses are looming at a time, when the German economy is in danger of slipping into a recession.   Berlin and Brussels could prevent a hard Brexit by setting a time limit on the “backstop,” however, they are still hoping for a second referendum – and upping the ante.  (German Foreign Policy, 4/4)

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TRUMP ON THE EU

“Europe’s leaders have never felt more alone.   Across the ocean, President Donald Trump has called the E.U. “a foe” of America, stalled a transatlantic trade deal while repeatedly threatening tariffs on European goods, and lashed out at NATO, the West’s cherished postwar project.”   (Time)

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MIDEAST CONFLICT WIDENS

  • “The Yemeni revolution will not be confined to Yemen alone.   It will extend, following its success, into Saudi territories.” — Iranian Lawmaker Ali Reza Zakani, trusted adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
  • “If the Shia rebels gain control of the Bab al-Mandeb Strait, Iran can attain a foothold in this sensitive region giving access to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, a cause of concern not only for its sworn rivals Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf states, but also for Israel and European countries along the Mediterranean.” — IDF Lt.-Col. (Ret.) Michael Segall

(“Is Iran winning in Yemen?” – Soeren Kern, Gatestone Institute, 4/11/19)

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NETANYAHU VICTORY – LONGEST SERVING ISRAEL PM

Prime Minister Benjamin Ntanyahu has won a record fifth term as Israel’s prime minister, in spite of corruption charges laid against him.

Victory for the conservative prime minister is another sign that the “left” in Israel has effectively ceased to exist.   His primary opponent, Benny Gantz, was also conservative and hawkish on defense.   He came in a close second.

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HAGIA SOPHIA TO BE CONVERTED INTO A MOSQUE

Addressing a rally ahead of the March 31 municipal elections in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced plans to convert the Hagia Sophia museum, originally a Byzantine cathedral, into a mosque.

Erdogan repeated this statement the following day during a televised interview.   “Hagia Sophia will no longer be called a museum,” he declared.   “Its status will change.   We will call it a mosque.”   (Gatestone, 4/7)

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THE POPE AND WALLS

“I appeal not to create walls but to build bridges” has long been Pope Francis’s mantra.

Most recently, when asked last Sunday “a question about migration in general and about U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to shut down the southern border with Mexico,” the pope pontificated in platitudes:   “Builders of walls,” he said, “be they made of razor wire or bricks, will end up becoming prisoners of the walls they build . . . With fear, we will not move forward, with walls, we will remain closed within these walls.”

Less than a week earlier, Pope Francis lectured the mayor of Rome about the need to be more welcoming to Muslim migrants.   “Rome,” he declared, “a hospitable city, is called to face this epochal challenge [Muslim migrants demanding entry] in the wake of its noble history; to use its energies to welcome and integrate, to transform tensions and problems into opportunities for meeting and growth.”

“Rome,” he exulted, “city of bridges, never walls!”

The grand irony of all this is that Pope Francis lives in the only state to be surrounded by walls—Vatican City—and most of these bastions were erected to ward off centuries of Islamic invasions.”   (“A lesson for Pope Francis on walls and Muslims,” by Raymond Ibrahim, Middle East Forum, 4/2).