Tag Archives: China

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.

 

 

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DOES SINGAPORE SUMMIT MEAN PEACE IN OUR TIME?

President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sentosa Island, Tuesday, June 12, 2018, in Singapore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“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.”  (Rev 17:12-14)

For these ten nations to come together, there must be a major upheaval that transforms the nations of the world and their alliances.   President Trump may be the catalyst.

It’s difficult to know at this point what the outcome of the Singapore summit will be.   North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump seemed to get along fine and there is hope of an end to almost 70 years of conflict on the Korean peninsula.

“President Donald Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hearkens back to an era of high-risk summits where the outcome was not preordained.”   (“In the past, summits often redrew maps, changed world,” Gregory Korte, USA Today, 6/13)

“ . . . To Trump’s credit, we are surely at a better place than we were a year ago when Kim was testing hydrogen bombs and ICBMs, and he and Trump were trading threats and insults in what seemed the prelude to a new Korean War.

“Whatever one may think of his diplomacy, Trump has, for now, lifted the specter of nuclear war from the Korean peninsula and begun a negotiating process that could lead to tolerable coexistence.”   (“Trump’s Bold Historic Gamble,” Pat Buchanan, 6/15)

For a more critical view, note this paragraph from The Economist:   “In foreign policy, perhaps more than anywhere else, President Donald Trump is doing exactly what he said he would do:   he has pulled out of the Paris climate agreement and the Iran deal, moved America’s embassy in Israel and imposed tariffs on imports.  His supporters, and many business folk, are thrilled.  But though his wrecking-ball approach may bring short-term wins for America, it will cause long-term damage to the world.”  (6/9)

WILL THERE BE PEACE?

In 1938, before the word “summit” was used to describe meetings of world leaders (it was first used by Sir Winston Churchill over ten years later), the two most powerful men in the world met in Munich.   British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and Germany’s leader, Adolf Hitler, worked out a peace “deal” between them.   Mr. Chamberlain was able to return to England and proclaim  “Peace in our time.”   Less than a year later, the two nations were at war.  World War Il was to last six years.

80 years later, the Singapore summit has raised hopes of an end to the threat of nuclear war involving North Korea.   But whether this will mean peace remains to be seen.

“Here is where the crunch comes.   Kim is being told that he must give up the weapons whose very possession by him are the reason why the world powers are paying him heed.”   (PB)

Meanwhile, it is becoming clear that neither North Korea nor the United States are the biggest beneficiaries following the summit.  The nation that benefits the most is China, already the greatest power in the Far East.

A HUGE WIN FOR CHINA

“Kim Jong Un flew into Singapore on a Chinese plane for his summit with US President Donald Trump and left with a prized concession long sought by Beijing:   the suspension of US-South Korean war games.

Not only that, but Trump also teased the possibility of a complete withdrawal of American troops from the Korean Peninsula at some point in the near future.

“It’s a huge win for China,” Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at CSIS, told CNN.”   (CNN, 6/3)

SAVING MONEY

Mr. Trump clearly wants to reduce the number of US military personnel in South Korea, variously said to be 28,000-32,000.   At a press conference, he said the following:

“I want to get our soldiers out.   I want to bring our soldiers back home.   We have 32,000 soldiers in South Korea.   I would like to be able to bring them back home. . . .   We will stop the war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money.”

As said on CNN, this statement is exactly what China wants.  Under pressure from Beijing, North Korea will likely take a more peaceful course.   The country will likely open up to some foreign investment, mostly from China, although there is little prospect of an end to authoritarian, communist rule.   China itself has not made any progress in that area.

It may take some time for the world to see clearly that this summit was a big step forward for China and Chinese power in the Asia-Pacific region.   Perhaps mindful of the decline of the European powers in the region following World War II, China is enabling the US to decline gracefully in what is increasingly a Chinese sphere of influence.   Even the summit venue, Singapore, is ethnically Chinese. A friend of mine in the city-state reports an increased sighting of Chinese ships around the strategically important island.

On the day of the summit, the Singapore Straits Times reported:

PARIS (AFP) – “France is increasing its military presence in the Indo-Pacific region, sending warships through the South China Sea and planning air exercises to help counter China’s military build-up in disputed waters.

“In late May, the French assault ship Dixmude and a frigate sailed through the disputed Spratly Islands and around a group of reefs that China has turned into islets, to push back against Beijing’s claim to own most of the resource-rich South China Sea.”

Around the globe, the talk was of peace; but the summit was largely about money, as is so often the case with global power struggles.

Although the US economy is doing well, the country is heavily in debt (more about that later), while China has mountains of cash. Inevitably, the latter is going to overtake the former, at least in Asia, unless things change fast.

EU & NATO  CONCERNS

“Donald Trump’s America-first diplomacy has shaken the foundations of many global institutions and alliances, but its most damaging effects so far have been on the trans-Atlantic relationship. The community of North American and European nations forming the nucleus of the alliance that won the Cold War for the West is closer to breaking up now than any time since the 1940s.”   (“Why Trump clashes with Europe,” by Walter Russell Mead, WSJ, 6/12).

The summit of the G7 nations, meeting in Quebec just a few days ago, ended in disarray when the US president refused to sign the joint communiqué and walked out of the conference.   The future of the organization remains in doubt.   The G7 was sometimes referred to last week as the G6+1; at other times the G4, as only the European countries seemed to be in agreement.

By throwing out the suggestion that all tariffs be abolished, Mr. Trump was undermining the very foundations of the European Union.

Early in July, the US president will be attending the NATO summit in Brussels.   It should become clearer then if he feels any support for the European democracies.   If he doesn’t, Europe will be on its own.

GERMANY’S VIEW

The German news magazine Der Spiegel commented on the “G7 fiasco,” saying “it’s time to isolate Donald Trump:”

“The G-7 summit once again made it clear that U.S. President Donald Trump is intent on treating America’s allies worse than its enemies. Europe must draw the consequences and seek to isolate Trump on the international stage.”

“Germany’s foreign minister called for the European Union to become a more self-confident global actor, prepared to take counter-measures when the United States crosses “red lines” and able to respond to Russian threats and Chinese growth.

“In a Berlin speech, Heiko Maas gave the clearest sign yet that Germany no longer sees its 70-year-old alliance with the United States as unconditional, and threw his weight behind French proposals to make the EU shipshape for a more uncertain world.

“We need a balanced partnership with the US,” he told youth activists in a converted railway station, “where we as Europeans act as a conscious counterweight when the US oversteps red lines.”

“In remarks that drew a line under the post-war German doctrine of close alignment with the United States, Maas listed President Donald Trump’s Washington as a challenge for Europe, alongside more traditional rivals like Russia and China.

“Donald Trump’s egotistical politics of ‘America First’, Russia’s attacks on international law and state sovereignty, the expansion of gigantic China:   the world order we were used to – it no longer exists,” he said.

“The speech is the latest in a flurry of declarations by leading German politicians digesting the implications of the disarray following Trump’s abrupt departure last week from the Quebec G7 summit, long a pillar of the US-led Western global order.

“Earlier this week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, long known as among Germany’s most committed Atlanticists, effectively demoted the US relationship in a television interview by saying Germany’s second loyalty had to be the EU.

“The first loyalty goes to your own country,” she said.  “But the second should go to the EU.”   For Berlin’s elites, the EU and the transatlantic alliance were long regarded as equal pillars.”  (Euractiv with Reuters 6/14)

Once again, money has played a part in Mr. Trump’s anti-European rhetoric.   Although some European countries do spend more than the required 2% of their GNP on defense, some do not, including Germany.   Mr. Trump feels very strongly that this is wrong and needs to change.   The United States is deeply in debt.   In itself, this poses a grave threat to national security.   Other nations must devote more of their resources to defense.

Did both the Singapore and the Quebec summits have a lot to do with money?   Seemingly so.

ONE SUMMIT STILL TO GO

Here’s a final comment from a British conservative publication, linking all three summits (G7, Singapore and NATO):

“Donald Trump is feeling confident about world peace following his big summit in Singapore with Kim Jong Un.   But . . . western leaders are desperately worried.   Might the US President, inebriated on his own sense of destiny, be about to collapse Nato?   Theresa May is certainly worried:   she knows how hard the British government had to push Trump to officially endorse Nato.   But now, following the fallout over tariffs at last weekend’s G7 summit in Canada, Trump is not feeling well disposed towards the rest of the West.   Next month’s Nato Summit in Brussels will be a tense affair.”   (Spectator, UK, 6/14)

Seventy years after the formation of NATO, could the organization break up?   We will see next month.

PROPHESIED EVENTS SPEEDING UP UNDER TRUMP

When President Trump was elected, many Christians thought this would mean a delay in prophesied end-time events, as America was “made great again”.

The opposite seems to be the case.

As Sky News put it following Mr. Trump’s announcement that the United States is pulling out of the Iran deal, the president’s proclamation sent an “earthquake” through the Middle East.

Rather than delaying prophesied events, Mr. Trump is speeding them up, laying the groundwork for rapid escalation.

Consider the following:

  1. The growing rift between Europe and America.   Less than a month after French President Emmanuel Macron paid a seemingly highly successful visit to Washington, DC, the French today condemned America over the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran, calling the decision “unacceptable.”   Earlier in the week, France, Germany and the UK all expressed support for the Iranian deal, refusing to support the US.

It should be emphasized that it is not Europe distancing itself from America; it’s America that keeps on making decisions that are taking the country down a new path of isolationism.

It’s America that is changing, not the rest of the world.   But changes decided in Washington are going to have a profound effect internationally.

Just today, European Union boss Jean-Claude Juncker is capitalizing on America’s decision to call once again for a United States of Europe with its own, single, unified military.

At some point, prophecy shows that ten nations in Europe will unite to form a formidable military, political and economic alliance.   You can read about this in Revelation, chapter 17.   “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.” (Rev.  17:12-13)

  1.  Pressure from the US on Berlin to build up the German military.

After two world wars that were started by Germany, you would think nobody would want to rearm the country that lies at the heart of Europe.   And that has been the case with every Administration since World War II.   But now it’s changing, as President Trump feels that the Germans must spend more on the defense of the western alliance – which may not be an alliance much longer!   Building up its military will leave Germany in the perfect position to lead the ten nation revival of the Roman Empire.

  1. Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, thereby recognizing the city as the “eternal capital” of Israel.   No other major nation has followed America in this.   This is just one decision that has changed the Middle East dramatically.

The Old Testament Book of Zechariah is a Millennial prophecy, which speaks to us today.   It contains prophecies which could not have been fulfilled until the restoration of the Jewish nation exactly seventy years ago. Note chapter 12, verses 2 & 3.

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

Judah is the biblical name for the modern nation of Israel, whose population is mostly Jewish, people who are descendants of the ancient tribe of Judah.

Given time, conflict around Jerusalem will involve more nations. Note Zech 14:2:  “ For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle.”

  1. US support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has emboldened Israel to strike at Iran in Syria.   It’s worth remembering that it was Netanyahu who warned President George W Bush about weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, calling on Washington to do something.   That did not work out well.   Could we see greater intervention by the United States in a rising conflict between Israel and Iran?   Iran this week attacked Israel for the first time.
  2. Add to this, the growing conflict between Shia and Sunni Islam, with the US clearly supporting Sunni Muslim countries (notably Saudi Arabia) against Shi’ite countries (Iran, Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon).
  3. The decision to tear up the climate change treaty, signed in Paris.   Mr. Macron tried to change President Trump’s mind, but failed.   People may criticize the US president for many things, but he’s certainly fulfilling his election promises, including this one.   The rest of the world remains committed to the treaty.
  4. Trade is another area of growing conflict, as President Trump puts “America First.”   Here certainly the US has many grievances on unfair trade practices, but, again, it adds to the growing sense of divergence, as the US moves in a different direction from the rest of the world.   Other nations continue to support globalization as a way to universal prosperity.

This growing trade war could even backfire on the US, if China decides to divest itself of US dollars. The result would be a serious downward pull on the greenback’s international value.

Even in less important areas, there has been significant change.   For the first time, royal wedding planners had to announce that no politicians will be invited to next week’s wedding.   This was the only way out of inviting the US president to a wedding where the bride is an American.   But the alternative was a massive demonstration outside the church, thereby giving the British a security headache.

It’s not that all the changes are wrong.   As an article headline in the Wall Street Journal put it:   “Everything about Trump is bad, except for all his policies.”   Rather, it’s the combined effect that all the changes are making that has sent an earthquake around the world. The aftershocks will be with us for some time.

Many Christians will no doubt continue to believe that Trump is going to reverse America’s fortunes and usher in a new glorious age, but it seems more likely that the radical departure from previous policies is only going to speed up the prophesied events that culminate in the return of Jesus Christ.

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CBS this morning showed a few minutes of an interview with the Pope, to be broadcast in its entirety on “60 Minutes” this Sunday.  This morning, the pope was talking about the Jewish seventh day sabbath being a day of rest.  He actually used the terms “seventh day” and “sabbath.”

FLORIDA SCHOOL SHOOTING

(Photo: John McCall, AP)

After yet another school shooting in the United States, the 19th this year, Pat Buchanan wrote a brilliant analysis.   The following is a quote from his article, posted this morning.

“Another factor helps to explain what happened Wednesday: We are a formerly Christian society in an advanced state of decomposition.

“Nikolas Cruz was a product of broken families.  He was adopted. Both adoptive parents had died.  Where did he get his ideas of right and wrong, good and evil?   Before the Death of God and repeal of the Ten Commandments, in those dark old days, the 1950s, atrocities common now were almost nonexistent.    (“The Motives behind the massacre,” Pat Buchanan, 2/16)

Deuteronomy 28 is the classic Bible chapter that should help us all think.   In summary, what it says is that the more we obey God, the greater our society will be; the more we turn away from God, the worse it will become.   As Mr. Buchanan points out, “before the death of God and repeal of the Ten Commandments, in those dark old days, the 1950s, atrocities common now were almost nonexistent.”

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RIPPLE EFFECT OF SCHOOL SHOOTINGS

It’s not just that US schools are unsafe, it’s clear to the rest of the world that America is a very violent country, with a governmental system that doesn’t work any more.   As one writer put it, the US has an eighteenth century constitution in a twenty first century world.

Most countries already have a bad impression of the current US president.   But, when Mr. Trump spoke following the shootings and talked about mental illness, that impression only worsened.   Mental illness was (and usually is) a major factor, but what differentiates America from other western countries is easy access to weapons. Even the mentally ill can walk into a gun dealer and buy an assault rifle!

Parkland will not be the last school mass shooting.

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ISLAM AND THE WEST

Sheikh “Abu Qusay” delivered a Friday sermon in Jerusalem, in which he said:

“Oh dweller of the White House, let me tell you, from the pulpit of the Prophet Muhammad, that this is the promise of Allah and His Messenger:   Jerusalem is the heart of the land of Islam.   We will storm your White House, stomp on your head, kill your soldiers, and capture your land.   This is the promise of the Prophet Muhammad.” The sermon was posted to the internet on December 22nd.   (MEMRI)

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Nervous Rex?  Tillerson in Turkey

The war in Syria has already tested and destroyed many alliances. Turkey’s relationship with America may be next.   Having launched one army offensive against Kurdish insurgents in north-west Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government says it will soon order another, this time in the north-east.   There, the militants are flanked by American troops, who are supporting them in their fight against Islamic State.   It will be up to America’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, who arrives in Turkey today, to calm nerves and prevent the diplomatic row between the two NATO allies from exploding into an armed one.   That will not be easy.   After an American general warned that his forces would retaliate against any attack on their positions inside the Kurdish strongholds, Mr Erdogan said the United States “had clearly never received an Ottoman slap.” Slap or no slap, Mr. Tillerson’s ears will be ringing by the time he gets back to Washington. (Economist, 2/15)

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German government plans massive military expansion in Iraq        By Johannes Stern, 13 February 2018

The new grand coalition in Germany is planning a massive expansion of the German army (Bundeswehr) mission in Iraq. 

This was announced by Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen (Christian Democratic Union, CDU) in the course of her trip to the Middle East last weekend.  Von der Leyen praised Germany’s cooperation with the Peshmerga [Kurdish military forces] during her visit to Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Autonomous Region in northern Iraq.   The Bundeswehr has been arming and militarily supporting the Kurdish force for three and a half years.   It was “impressive to see the great success of the Peshmerga training mission,” she said, thanking “Bundeswehr soldiers” on the spot.  Von der Leyen then announced that in future the Bundeswehr would be deployed throughout Iraq.

There will be “another mandate,” she said, “a mandate with a new balance … between Baghdad and Erbil on equal terms on both sides.” The defense minister made no concrete statements about the planned operation, but left no doubt she envisaged a long-term military engagement throughout Iraq.   “Both in Kurdistan, as well as in the central government in Baghdad,” there is “a request above all to help in the implementation of reforms, in the construction of ministry structures,” the minister said.   In Erbil, for example, “the construction of an entire sanitary unit is necessary,” but this also involved “of course the entire planning, organisation, recruitment and training.”   There is also “considerable demand” for logistics. Germany wanted to “make its contribution” to provide Iraq with “independent, loyal operational forces for the long term.”

The Socialist Equality Party rejects the coalition pact, which focuses on the return of Germany to an aggressive foreign and great power policy, and calls for the disclosure of all the talks.   Under conditions of escalating warfare in Syria and Iraq, and US preparations for war against North Korea, which threaten to provoke a Third World War, this demand, along with the demand for new elections, is becoming increasingly urgent.

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Special Dispatch No. 7339

Hamas, Palestinian Factions In Response To Israel’s Airstrikes In Syria:   ‘Any Israeli Attack, On Any Front, Will Be Answered With A Comprehensive War On All Fronts’ (MEMRI 2/15)

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Macron Vows to Reform Islam in France
“It is time to bring in a new generation”

by Soeren Kern, February 13, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • The overall objective of President Macron’s plan is to ensure that French law takes precedence over Islamic law for Muslims living in the country.
  • The plan, as currently conceived, is vague and short on details, but appears to involve three broad pillars: determining who will represent Muslims in France; delineating how Islam in France will be financed; and defining how imams in France will be trained.
  • “It is time to bring in a new generation.   We have seen fifteen years of debate to defend the interests of foreign states.” — Hakim el-Karoui, a French-Tunisian expert on Islam who is advising Macron on the reforms. (Gatestone)

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EUROPEAN UNITY

A New Élysée Treaty – Berlin and Paris are seeking a “new Élysée Treaty.”   On the 55th anniversary of the original 1963 Élysée Treaty, in which the Federal Republic of Germany and France committed themselves to hold “consultations” on major political issues, Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron announced the drafting of a new treaty aimed at “deepening” cooperation between the two countries and “strengthening” the EU.   In a declaration, the parliaments of both countries called for harmonizing almost the “complete range of policy issues.”   This would amount to massively enhancing the “German-French axis.”

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US/EU

Transatlantic Rivals

(Own report) – In Washington serious warnings are being raised against an independent German-European military policy aimed at weakening NATO.   The militarization of the EU is being supported as long as “it is complimentary to NATO,” a senior Pentagon official was quoted.   However, Washington would intervene if Berlin and the EU were to pull military resources away from NATO and use them for their own wars.   This statement was made in light of the NATO defense ministers’ meeting that begins today, which will include a decision on the establishment of two new NATO headquarters.   One will be established in the United States, to secure the military supply routes from North America over the Atlantic to Europe.   A second will be established in Germany, to optimize rapid redeployments of West European troops eastwards across the continent.   At the current stage of planning, this will be under German sovereignty and available also for use outside of the NATO framework.

More… https://www.german-foreign-policy.com/en/news/detail/7531/

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TRADE WAR

Despite its loss in U.S. trade court against Bombardier, Boeing believes 2018 will be a turning point in its lengthy WTO challenge to Airbus over government subsidies.   The threat of hefty tariffs could redraw the playing field — or trigger a trade war among traditional allies.   (Dominic Gates,The Seattle Times 2/10)

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday rejected the sale of the Chicago Stock Exchange to a group that would have included Chinese investors, capping a two-year battle over a deal that sparked political opposition in Congress, reports the WSJ’s Dave Michaels. (2/16)

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US ECONOMY

Some like it hot:   America’s economy

The White House will announce its infrastructure plan today.   It is expected to call for $200bn more in government spending to encourage private investment, hoping for a total of $1.5trn towards spending on roads, bridges, ports and more.   Were Congress to pass such a plan without cutting spending elsewhere, it would be the third recent salvo of fiscal stimulus.   Last week lawmakers passed a budget that will raise spending by $143bn (0.7% of GDP) this year; in December President Donald Trump signed into law tax cuts worth about $280bn in 2019.   America’s budget deficit will probably reach $1trn (5% of GDP) that year.   All this will stimulate an already hot economy.   Unemployment is just 4.1%, and real-time estimates of GDP growth in the first quarter of 2018 are as high as 4%.   The natural question is:   when will inflation take off?   This strangely timed fiscal experiment will reveal the answer.   (Economist Espresso, 2/12)

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 ASIA

China, Maldives: Beijing’s Boats Send a Message to India — China’s increased military presence in the Indian Ocean gives the country more options to respond to the crisis in the Maldives, in addition to challenging New Delhi’s influence in the region.   (Stratfor, 2/16)

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AFRICA

Finally, Mo Ibrahim has found an African president worthy of the $5 million prize the Sudanese billionaire offered to any leader who would step down after losing an election.   The prize goes to Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.   It’s been eleven years since the prize was established.   “Ellen Johnson Sirleaf took the helm of Liberia when it was completely destroyed by civil war and led a process of reconciliation that focused on building a nation and its democratic institution,” said the head of the prize committee.

Liberia’s gross domestic product was only $550 million when Mrs. Sirleaf became president in 2005.   At the end of her tenure in office it had increased to $2.1 billion.   (Wall Street Journal, 2/14)

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COMMENT ON OXFAM CHARITY SCANDAL

Can charities be truly bad?   It seems perverse to say that they are, but the Oxfam abuse scandal has revealed a sinister side to international aid — and about time, too.   In our cover package this week, Harriet Sergeant argues that, in Africa and elsewhere, NGOs often do more harm than good.   Mary Wakefield, meanwhile, who wrote about rapist aid workers in the magazine a fortnight ago, well before the Oxfam story broke, asks why polite society prefers to ignore scandals which relate to organisations that people want to believe are good.   (The Spectator, UK, 2/15)

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THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils — Berlioz

TRADE WAR LOOMING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Headline in WIN (World Israel News)

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

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

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DARKEST HOUR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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TRUMP’S AFRICA

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

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

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

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

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

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FOR FUN!

Some entertaining posts on FaceBook . . .

 

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?

BACK TO REALITY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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BACK TO MORE REALITY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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NEW ZEALAND MAKES THE NEWS

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

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

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

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CENTENARIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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RUSSIAN REVOLUTION

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

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

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500th ANNIVERSARY OF PROTESTANT REFORMATION

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

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

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

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VISIT TO NOAH’S ARK

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

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

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

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

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FINALLY

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

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

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

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

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

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