Tag Archives: Civil War

SINGAPORE MAN SPIES FOR CHINA

Jun Wei Yeo, an ambitious and freshly enrolled Singaporean PhD student, was no doubt delighted when he was invited to give a presentation to Chinese academics in Beijing in 2015.

America is not an ethnically based nation.  Most nations remain that way.  This shows that even Singapore, which is ethnically Chinese, may be producing spies for China.   Will a clash between the US and China see large numbers of Chinese supporting their ancestral homeland?

Jun Wei Yeo was charged with using his political consultancy in America as a front to collect information for Chinese intelligence, US officials say.  Separately, the US said a Chinese researcher accused of hiding her ties to China’s military was detained.

China earlier ordered the closure of the US consulate in Chengdu.

The move to shut down the diplomatic mission in the south-western city was in response to the US closing China’s consulate in Houston.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the decision was taken because China was “stealing” intellectual property.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin responded by saying that the US move was based on “a hodgepodge of anti-Chinese lies.”  (BBC7/25/2020)

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PHILIPPINES ASKS CHINA FOR HELP

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he has asked China for help in getting access to a coronavirus vaccine as governments around the world make arrangements to secure supply for their citizens ahead of what is expected to be a global scramble for the much-awaited shots.

In an address Monday, Mr. Duterte, who has favored close ties with Beijing, said he had made a plea to Chinese President Xi Jinping that the Philippines be one of the first to receive the doses if China has them.  He also asked Mr. Xi to grant Manila credit . . .

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AUSSIE PM FIT FOR WAR

ONE of Australia’s most experienced military Generals has backed Prime Minister Scott Morrison as capable of running – and winning – a “serious war.”

Retired Australian Army General Jim Molan AO DSC said this week the Australian Prime Minister displayed the type of leadership you’d expect in war time.

Molan, who now serves in the Australian Senate, shared his observations during a Northern Forum address on Tuesday evening.

Speaking at the online event, Senator Molan said Australia’s defense capabilities were the best he’d seen during his 40 years of service.

“I would suggest to you with this government we could run a serious war,” he said.   “We have a Prime Minister who shows the type of leadership you would expect in war time.

“We have a bunch of ministers and bureaucrats now who have been tested through the fires, tested through COVID – they are extraordinarily experienced from my observation and know what to do.”

Senator Molan retired from the Australian Army in 2008 after having served, among other postings, as Chief of Operations of the multi-national forces in Iraq, where he oversaw 170,000 allied troops.  (Politicom, 7/28/2020)

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IRAN’S MULLAHS LOOKING FORWARD TO A BIDEN VICTORY

The ruling mullahs of Iran are excited.  They are convinced that a new US president, like his previous boss, former President Barack Obama, will throw them the lifeline so badly needed for their survival, their hold on power, and their ability to advance their nuclear and other imperialist plans — both in Venezuela against the United States, and in the Middle East.

Iran’s economic conditions have become so dire that even some officials are warning of possible revolt and the collapse of the Islamic Republic.

It is important to note that without Iran’s financial and military assistance, many militia and terror groups could not survive. As Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, admitted, “… Hezbollah’s budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, are from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

(Iran:  the mullahs are excited, Majid Rafizadeh, Gatestone, 7/28/2020)

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Israel sends reinforcements to north, bracing for imminent attack    IDF deploys additional firepower, intel-gathering tools and special forces  a day after alleged attempted Hezbollah assault.  (Times of Israel, 28 July, 2020)

The Israel Defense Forces deployed additional reinforcements to the country’s Lebanese and Syrian borders on Tuesday, indicating it was bracing for more violence along the frontiers after an alleged attempted attack by the Hezbollah terror group the day before.  Israeli officials expected an attack on Israeli troops by the Lebanese terror group within the next 48 hours, before the start of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha on Thursday night, according to an unattributed Channel 12 report on Tuesday.  Over the past week, Hezbollah has threatened some form of retaliation for the death of one of its fighters last week in Syria in an airstrike that it attributed to Israel, but which the Jewish state has not officially acknowledged conducting.     (https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-sends-reinforcements-to-north-bracing-for-imminent-attack/)

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Latinos are the largest group of Californians admitted to University of California for the first time    (LA Times, 16 July, 2020)

Latinos represent the highest number of prospective freshmen accepted into the University of California for fall 2020, part of the most diverse first-year class ever admitted, according to preliminary UC data.   Latinos slightly eclipsed Asian Americans, making up 36% of the 79,953 California students offered admission. Asians made up 35%, white students 21% and Black students 5%.

(https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-07-16/latinos-uc-berkeley-diverse-class-history)

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The lost boys:   the white working class is being left behind           These children are the forgotten demographic  (The Spectator UK, 18 July 2020, by Christopher Snowdon)

You can argue about the merits of pulling down statues, but it’s hard to make the case that mass protests serve no useful purpose.  At the very least, they provoke debate and draw attention to uncomfortable topics that it might otherwise be easier to ignore. The recent protests have forced everyone to have difficult discussions about race, class, poverty and attainment.   Any serious examination of the statistics shows that we’re pretty far from equal, but what the figures also show is that it’s wrong-headed and damaging to lump very different groups together. In these discussions politicians often lazily assume that all BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) people are the same, and that all white groups are equally privileged.   But a proper look at the data shows not just that there are striking differences within BAME groups, but that the very worst-performing group of all are white working-class boys — the forgotten demographic.

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BLAMING THE VICTIMS

An increasingly popular idea is that  . . . only minorities can be victims.   The notion is hardly limited to the recent riots in America. Elements of such thinking often appear in other contexts.

British women, for instance, including rape victims who draw attention to “Asian” (Pakistani and South Asian) sex grooming gangs, are being attacked by the “woke” establishment.

Earlier this month in the UK, Sarah Champion, a Labor politician and MP for Rotherham (the epicenter of sex grooming), was accused of “fanning the flames of racial hatred” and “acting like a neo-fascist murderer.”   Her crime?   She had dared to assert that “Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls.”

(“Blaming the Victims of Muslim Rapists,” Raymond Ibrahim, MEF 7/11 – Raymond Ibrahim is a Judith Friedman Rosen Fellow at the Middle East Forum)

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POWERFUL SERMON OPENS HAGIA SOPHIA TO MUSLIMS

In a July 10, 2020 decree, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan converted the Hagia Sophia from a museum into a mosque and placed it under the authority of the country’s Ministry of Religious Affairs.   On July 24, Friday prayers were held for the first time in 86 years in the Hagia Sophia Mosque’s main space.   Before the prayers were performed, President Erdoğan recited verses from the Quran. Diyanet minister Ali Erbaş went to the minbar (“pulpit”) bearing a sword and gave a sermon that, among other things, praised several Turkish conquerors, including Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, who conquered Istanbul in 1453, and Sultan Alparslan, who won the 1071 Battle of Manzikert, which opened Asia Minor to Turkish settlement. (MEMRI 7/29/2020)

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US to withdraw or relocate more troops in Germany than previously thought

Defense Secretary Mark Esper has outlined proposals that foresee bringing about 6,400 troops back to the US and relocating another 5,400 within Europe.   That entails reducing the presence in Germany by roughly one third.  (Deusche Welle 7/29/2020)

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US PRESSURE ON GERMAN BUSINESS

In individual talks with German and EU companies, the Trump administration is threatening repercussions, if they do not withdraw from the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.   According to reports, up to twelve representatives of three US ministries have held separate video conferences with European companies, to coerce them into withdrawing from the Nord Stream 2 project.   The latest US sanctions against the gas pipeline affect 120 enterprises from 12 EU countries.   Should the construction of Nord Stream 2 remain unfinished, the direct damage could reach twelve billion euros. German business associations are calling on Berlin and Brussels to take harsh retaliatory measures, otherwise US reprisals could set a “dangerous precedent” that could be repeated at any time.   Business representatives draw attention to the fact that the USA had tried to torpedo German-Russian energy relations, beginning already with those between West Germany and the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1980s, but ultimately had to yield each time.  (German Foreign Policy, 7/27/2020)

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THINKING THRU A CIVIL WAR

If Trump wins in November, it is foreseeable that his many enemies will ratchet up their hatred for him to even more destructive extremes.   A bloody civil war would become likely, escalating an already violent cultural battle to a new threshold.   How this might impact our schools, workplaces and neighborhoods is unpredictable even if the tactical outcome is not.   The red states, wide-open spaces where politically conservative Americans tend to live and work, have superior firepower, to put it mildly, and their geographical vastness has rendered them invulnerable to attack.

They also provide most of the food consumed by blue-zone denizens, implying red partisans could lay siege to blue, bringing the color war to a relatively quick end. Political liberals have taken to boycotting the wares of nearly everyone perceived as unfriendly to their cause.   It remains to be seen whether conservatives can get sufficiently aroused to return fire, not only by boycotting every product or service associated with liberal ownership, but by disrupting the flow of essentials into the big cities where they live.   (The Morning Line, 7/26/2020)

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TO THE POINT

  • Europe bracing for second wave of Covid-19 Europe is preparing for a second wave of Covid-19 amid continuing outbreaks.  The Belgian government has warned that the country could be put into a second “complete lockdown” and Catalonia says it may also have to reintroduce lockdown measures. Germany’s public health advisory body has said it is “deeply concerned” about the rise in cases and France has called for greater vigilance.  (The Week, 7/28/2020)
  • Study finds men are performing more domestic tasks Men are performing more domestic duties than ever, according to new research.  The study found that men are spending an extra five-and-a-half hours a week on childcare and housework compared to 40 years ago, while women do nearly three hours less of domestic work.   However, women still do 80% more cooking, cleaning and caring than men.  (The Week, 7/28/2020)
  • Israel Aircraft Industries is known as a world leader in drone technology and was recently tapped by the German Air Force to develop a special Heron drone for the Luftwaffe.  The German model of the Heron TP UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) completed its first flight in Israel’s skies to test modifications designed for the German Ministry of Defense.   The EU company Airbus DS Airborne Solutions, a subsidiary of the well-known passenger plane maker, is collaborating with IAI on the project.   The Germans will lease a number of UAVs with maintenance services, with Luftwaffe personnel currently training in Israel with Israeli counterparts at an IAF base in central Israel.  (Yakir Benzion, United with Israel, 7/27/2020)
  • Over-55’s main losers from Covid – Workers over the age of 50 have suffered larger cuts to their earnings than any other age group during the economic downturn triggered by coronavirus, a new report reveals. Britain’s oldest workers have seen their pay fall by an average of 23%, while millennials and middle-aged workers have been hit by salary cuts of 19% and 17% respectively, according to the Financial Conduct Authority.  (The Week, 7/29/2020)
  • A Christian teenager was sexually assaulted by his Muslim employer in early June.   The boy’s father and brother were then beaten for trying to seek justice for him.  (Persecution.org, June 19, 2020, Pakistan)

 

 

DOES BLM WANT A RETURN TO SLAVERY?

A poster advertising a special chapel service to celebrate the Abolition of Slavery in 1838.

Some little-known facts on slavery:

Before 1800 slavery was universally practiced.

Britain became the first major power to abolish the slave trade in 1807.   (Haiti and Denmark had already abolished it in 1804-5).  Britain went on to abolish slavery completely in 1833, with a four year transition period.

The British West Africa Squadron of the Royal Navy patrolled the coast of West Africa for almost 60 years, stopping ships and freeing slaves from 1808-67.   It is estimated that 250,000 slaves were freed.

David Livingstone was a famous Scottish missionary who went out to central Africa determined to bring Christianity to the people and to end slavery in that part of the world.

In the eighteenth century there were one million white slaves held in Muslim countries.

The US abolished the slave trade in 1808, only one year after Britain.   It was not able to abolish slavery itself until it had fought a four-year civil war (1861-65).   Over 400,000 men are now believed to have died in the War fighting for the Union.  That’s 400,000 mostly white men who all died to free the slaves.

It was the US Republican Party that supported the abolition of slavery.  The Democrats took a pro-slavery position and held back the development of African-Americans until well into the 1960s.

Since the end of the British Empire in Africa sixty years ago, slavery is back in every single African country, according to UNESCO.

The modern slave trade is considered the biggest trade in the world, accounting for over 10% of global business.  The Bible talks about this universal trading system.  Revelation 18:13, NIV:   “cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and human beings sold as slaves.”

If the United States and Britain are brought down by riots and revolution, there will be no restraint on the practice of slavery.

The irony is that Black Lives Matter and other groups will have taken the world back over 200 years to a time when slavery was universally practiced.

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THE DANGERS OF VILIFYING ALL POLICE

“The people condemning law enforcement in America and advocating for the defunding of police are not the ones who will have to face the deadly results of their proposals, says former civil rights activist Bob Woodson.

“Let’s do a survey of these communities where crime is the highest and find out what the people there want, before we rush to accept the recommendations of people who don’t have to suffer the consequences,” Woodson said.

“The killing of George Floyd, a black man, at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis sparked nationwide protests demanding reform as well as cases of looting, arson and vandalism. Reform proposals vary, with some groups such as Black Lives Matter and Democratic Socialists of America calling for a nationwide defunding of police.

“In Woodson’s view, crime will likely increase without funding cuts, because vilification of the police as agents of white suppression makes them more reluctant to enforce the law.

“After surveying 200 officers across six agencies in the southern United States,  Shetali Patil, an assistant professor of management at the University of Texas-Austin, found that when officers felt the public didn’t understand or appreciate them, they became less proactive.

“The result is more blacks being killed by other blacks, Woodson said.”   (The Dangers of Vilifying all police,” Epoch Times, 6/11/2020).

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LANSING MAYOR AGREES TO SIGN POLICE REFORM PLEDGES

“Mayor Andy Schor is promising to sign national police reform pledges, increase transparency in the police department and hire a diversity officer to address racial injustice in the city.

“The announcement Tuesday follows weeks of local protests against police brutality.  Some residents, including members of Black Lives Matter Lansing, have been calling for Schor’s resignation after he was criticized for defensiveness in response to questions from the group about the treatment of Black residents by police.

“Schor’s plans include:   “Promoting a city employee to the position of “diversity and inclusion officer”……..improve transparency…..hire an  attorney  to create a citywide diversity, equity and inclusion plan…..”   (Sarah Lehr, Lansing State Journal, 6/17/2020).

It should be noted that all of this will cost money, which will mean a raise in taxes or cuts to the police.

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DEMOCRACY IN DANGER

“The corruption of its democracy is one of America’s oldest yet most surprising habits.  Edgar Allan Poe, it is believed, died after the ordeal of ‘cooping’:   an informal exercise in getting out the vote, in which an often forcibly inebriated man was marched from booth to booth and made to vote for the same candidate each time.

“The voters of Massachusetts 4th District, compelled by a party machine to endorse Joseph P. Kennedy III, will know the feeling.  Indeed, John F. Kennedy’s victory in the 1960 elections is said to have depended on the stuffing of ballots in the Chicago of Mayor Richard J. Daley – and possibly on the intervention in Cook County by the crime boss Sam Giancana.  Kennedy went on to win Illinois by 8,000 votes and to take the White House.

“However endemic electoral corruption was in the past, nothing quite matches the scale of today’s disillusionment with democracy.   Americans are raging against the electoral machine in a way they have never done before.   Whoever wins the White House in November is going to have an uphill struggle convincing a skeptical public that he or she is the genuine choice of the American people and has got there by fair means.”   (Democracy in Danger, The Spectator (US edition), March 2020).

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U.S. National Pride Falls to Record Low                                              by Megan Brenan, 15 June 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. — American pride has continued its downward trajectory reaching the lowest point in the two decades of Gallup measurement.  The new low comes at a time when the U.S. faces public health and economic crises brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and civil unrest following the death of George Floyd in police custody.

* 42% “extremely,” and 21% “very,” proud to be an American.
                      * Republicans’ pride is down sharply in the past year.
                                        * First time extreme pride among whites below 50%; nonwhites’ is now  24%.

At the same time, 15% of Americans say they are “moderately proud,” 12% “only a little proud” and 9% “not at all proud.”

These latest data are from a May 28-June 4 poll, which also found 20% of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S., and presidential approval fell back to 39%.   The poll’s field period encompassed the arrests of the police officers charged in Floyd’s death as well as the nationwide protests that were sparked by the incident and President Donald Trump’s controversial responses to them.

(https://news.gallup.com/poll/312644/national-pride-falls-record-low.aspx)

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THE FUTURE OF THE US

The United States of America will never be the same, it will be a much worse place to live and work.   Amid a three-month pandemic there has been a three-week cultural revolution, ignited by the brutal death of African American George Floyd in Minneapolis, that has changed our country forever.

Our country is a great experiment, a diverse nation of 50 states united by a founding document that enshrines God given rights that people in other countries can only dream of realizing.   The United States has become not only the world’s only superpower, but also a country that has been a beacon of hope and freedom to the world.   (America is “Gone with the wind,” Canada Free Press, 6/14/2020)

Gone with the Wind has been banned by HBO.

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NORTH KOREA BLOWS UP

First, they stop taking your calls.   Then they blow up the house.   But this isn’t a love affair gone wrong, it’s what’s happening right now along one of the tensest borders in the world, between North and South Korea.   Last week Pyongyang quit answering a daily phone call from the South that was set up in 2018 to keep the peace and further reconciliation.   Then, yesterday, North Korea quite literally blew up a building just north of the border which both sides had used for the past two years as a meeting place for officials from the North and the South.   And earlier today, for good measure, Kim Jong-un moved some of his troops into several recently-shuttered inter-Korean economic cooperation sites located just north of the border.

Why now?

The immediate issue seems to be Seoul’s failure to stop North Korean defectors (“human scum” as they’re known in Pyongyang’s state media) from sending anti-Kim leaflets over the border using balloons and drones.

But there’s a larger context. North Korea’s economy is suffering under crippling international sanctions tied to its nuclear program, and the coronavirus pandemic almost certainly isn’t helping.   With nuclear talks largely stalled, there’s no relief in sight.  (Gzero Signal, 6/17/2020)

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 Virus-Immune Rioters Latest Coronavirus Con

Something the mainstream and social media hope you will never come to realize:   Most everyone other than the street protesters remains under coronavirus lockdown.

While the majority of civilized society is held under government-imposed lockdown, meaning with no place to work, no place to worship, no place to go—purportedly for their own safety in a raging pandemic—hundreds of thousands of ‘protesters’ — (millions if counted worldwide) are allowed out to protest, pillage and burn cities down.

Let that sink in if only in order to clearly see how a pandemic panic can be used to help take down Western society.    (Canada Free Press, 6/17/2020)

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TO THE POINT

  • “Liberals will fight for the right of Marxist radicals to burn the American flag to show their hatred of it but cannot tolerate working folks flying the battle flag of the Confederacy to show their love of it.”   (Pat Buchanan, 6/16/2020)
  • NEW PARTY FOR AUSTRALIA:   “On immigration, it says our annual intake is “unsustainably high”, multiculturalism is “cumbersome and inorganic” and refugees should be given temporary asylum rather than permanent homes.   It also calls for “ethnic enclaves” in our cities and schools to be “broken up.”  (The Sensible Center, Michael Koziol, Sydney Morning Herald, 6/14/2020)
  • The two destabilizing events recently occurring back-to-back, the response to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic and the George Floyd rioting, illustrate well how America is now institutionally incapable of making decisions in her own best interests.   That is, the overreaction to the disease and under-reaction to the rioting reflect a country long demoralized.   Moreover, if that’s not troubling enough, know that this is a state of being that usually leads to tyranny.   (2020-06-11, Selwyn Duke, Canada Free Press, 6/12/2020)
  • Meanwhile the World Health Organization warned that the coronavirus pandemic was “accelerating” in Africa.   Hitherto the continent has escaped relatively lightly, recording just 200,000 or so cases and 5,000 deaths (compared with over 170,000 deaths, for instance, in Europe).  The WHO mentioned South Africa, Cameroon and Algeria as likely hotspots for the spread of the disease. (The Economist, 6/12/2020)
  • British GDP plunged by 20.4% in April—by far the biggest month-on-month drop since the series began in 1997 (see main stories). This followed a 5.8% shrinkage in March, itself the previous record drop.   The construction industry was particularly badly affected, showing a 40.1% fall.   May’s figures should be better, as some economic activity was able to return.  (The Economist, 6/12/2020)
  • Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s autocratic president, sacked his prime minister, Imad Khamis.   The country has been hit by five days of protests, centred around the city of Suweida, as a collapsing currency has led to stinging price increases.   Civil war, Western economic sanctions, covid-19 and a crisis in neighbouring Lebanon have all helped to impoverish the country.   (The Economist, 6/12/2020)
  • “At the heart of the Democrats’ problems is a growing spirit of insurgency against political elites.”   (Spectator, March 2020)

US-EU RIFT GETS WORSE

Hello everybody,

The election dominates US news.   There are many conflicting reports.

In Michigan, polls show Trump losing to every prominent Democratic candidate.   Yet, at the same time, his rallies (and those for VP Mike Pence) attract audiences too big to be accommodated.

And note the following report from the Munich Security Conference (read article “Munich Security Conference,” further down).  “Europeans widely expect Trump to be re-elected this fall.”

Meanwhile, the Democratic debate held last night in South Carolina, shows the party tearing itself apart.   Amy Klobuchar said it best:   “If we continue to tear each other apart over the next four months, we will see Trump continue to tear the country apart for the next four years.”  Another House Democrat described the seven Democrats on stage as a “circular firing squad.”   They should remember the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 12:25 — “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” words quoted by Abraham Lincoln on the eve of the Civil War.  With Trump so universally “hated,” it’s incredible the Democrats can’t come up with a winning candidate!

The second issue that dominates the news is the coronavirus.  Hopefully, this will not have the death toll of the various plagues that hit the world during the Middle Ages.   Justinian’s “flea” (probably bubonic plague) killed a manageable 5,000 a day in the first month; then 10,000 a day.   The population was greatly diminished.   As with the coronavirus, it was spread through trade and international travel.   It was the same in the 14th century, 800 years later, when the plague hit Europe again.  The death toll was a staggering 50% of the people.  Just over a century ago, the Spanish flu infected 500 million people worldwide, about one third of the world’s population.   It killed an estimated 20-50 million, including some 675,000 Americans.

We will get through it, but it may kill millions before it’s over.

One final thought on the election:   At least two of the candidates for the Democratic party claim to be Christians.   Voters, however, should be careful here.   All seven of the people appearing last night support a woman’s right to murder her baby!  (To be fair, so do some Republicans.)

Have a great week.

Melvin   

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Very early this morning, I came across a show on PBS World called “Gzero World”, with Ian Bremmer. Today they were reporting from the Munich Security Conference on world security issues.  The first four items come from their website.

US-EU RIFT GETS WORSE

The risk of a major technology blow-up between the US and Europe is growing.   A few weeks ago, we wrote about how the European Union wanted to boost its “technological sovereignty” by tightening its oversight of Big Tech and promoting its own alternatives to big US and Chinese firms in areas like cloud computing and artificial intelligence.

Last week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and her top digital officials unveiled their first concrete proposals for regulating AI, and pledged to invest billions of euros to turn Europe into a data superpower.    (Gzero World, 2/25/2020)

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Communal violence in Delhi:   Over the past few days, India’s capital city has seen its deadliest communal violence in decades.  This week’s surge in mob violence began as a standoff between protesters against a new citizenship law that critics say discriminates against India’s Muslims and the law’s Hindu nationalist defenders.   Clashes between Hindu and Muslim mobs in majority-Muslim neighborhoods in northeast Delhi have killed at least 11 people, both Muslim and Hindu, since Sunday.   We’re watching to see how Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government responds – Delhi’s police force reports to federal, rather than local, officials.(Gzero World, 2/25/2020)

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Unlikely jihadist bedfellows:   For years, the jihadists of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have been at odds over territory and ideology. Bloody clashes between offshoots of the two groups have become commonplace in Yemen and Syria, further destabilizing those war-torn countries.   But now, strangely, ISIS and al-Qaeda linked groups appear to have joined forces in West Africa, recruiting locals and divvying up vast swathes of territory in the Sahel – a semi-arid area stretching across the southern edge of the Sahara Desert.  Motivated by mutual practical interests and common foes – Western forces and local governments – they’ve set aside their doctrinal differences and are gaining ground in states with weak central governments like Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, the US military recently said.  This all comes as the Trump administration is weighing a sizable drawdown of US troops in West Africa.  (Gzero World, 2/25/2020)

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US-China tit-for-tat retaliations:   The Trump administration is weighing up retribution against Chinese journalists and state-owned media – as well as Chinese intelligence agencies – after Beijing expelled three Wall Street Journal reporters last week over an opinion column that criticized Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus.  The Chinese Foreign Ministry, incensed by the “China is the Real Sick Man of Asia” headline, demanded an apology from the Journal before booting three of its reporters, none of whom had anything to do with the column.   If the US responds in kind, it could lead to a cycle of tit-for-tat retribution and animosity between Washington and Beijing just as a preliminary trade agreement appears to have eased mounting tensions between the world’s two largest economies.   We’re watching to see if the Trump administration follows through on its threat – or if it’s just bluster.  (Gzero World, 2/25/2020)

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MUNICH SECURITY CONFERENCE

The annual gathering of the Munich Security Conference provides a useful barometer for the health of the transatlantic relationship. Two years ago, Europeans were reeling from the first year of the Trump administration.   Last year, they were resigned to that reality and determined to press ahead.  This past weekend, everyone was searching for a savior to address critical challenges amid a lack of global leadership.

Europeans widely expect Trump to be re-elected this fall.   After their shock at his 2016 victory, they seem to be bracing for the worst, but remain unprepared for the consequences.   They inquired about Democratic presidential candidates, asking what Bernie Sanders would mean for Europe and whether Michael Bloomberg was a good compromise for moderates.  (Amanda Sloat, Brookings, 2/18/2020)

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TRUMP EMBRACED BY ENTHUSIASTIC INDIANS

“It was the Trumpiest of offers.

“A rally at one of the world’s largest stadiums.   A crowd of millions cheering him on.   A love fest during an election year.”   (Lansing State Journal, 2/24/2020).

The stadium is the world’s biggest cricket stadium.  I wonder if President Trump was aware that cricket was the preferred sport of fellow Republican, Abraham Lincoln?

An incredible welcome from the world’s second most populous nation.  President Trump is hoping for a trade deal with India.

Sadly, it coincided with massive demonstrations against a new Indian immigration bill, which discriminates against Muslims.  At least twenty people have been killed.

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ISRAEL NOW RECOGNIZED BY 161 COUNTRIES

161 countries now have diplomatic relations with Israel, which is the highest number that it has ever been for the Jewish state.  Increasingly, the community of nations cares less about Palestinian objections and more about what Israel has to offer.   (Israel National News, 2/24/2020)

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NEVER ENDING SYRIAN CONFLICT

At a four-way summit with the leaders of Russia, Turkey and France, Angela Merkel will seek to influence the future of the northern Syrian province Idlib.  The summit, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on the weekend is to be held next week.  It will explore options for ending the fighting in the province, where, over the past few weeks, Syrian troops have been advancing on militias.  Usually referred to as “rebels” in the German media, they are, in fact, dominated by an al Qaeda subsidiary.  The combat has deepened dissention between Russia and Turkey on how to go forward in Syria, raising new hopes among western powers for driving a wedge between Ankara and Moscow.   Prior to the summit, however, specialists are pointing out that Berlin hardly has any options for exerting influence in Syria.  The EU sees the overthrow of the government in Damascus as the precondition for granting desperately needed reconstruction aid.    (German Foreign Policy, 2/25/2020)

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MACRON VOWS CRACKDOWN ON POLITICAL ISLAM

“The problem is when, in the name of a religion, some people want to separate themselves from the Republic and therefore not respect its laws.” — French President Emmanuel Macron, February 18, 2020.   (Soeren Kern, Gatestone, 2/21/2020)

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SWEDISH MIGRANT CRISIS

“For the first time now, more crimes – in absolute terms – are committed by persons of foreign background than by persons of Swedish origin . . .   The most crime-prone population subgroup are people born [in Sweden] to two foreign-born parents.” — Report by Det Goda Samhället (“The Good Society”), summer of 2019. (Judith Bergman, Gatestone, 2/26)

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UK GROOMING GANGS TO REMAIN A SECRET

DAILYKENN.com — It’s a state secret.  No one is to know the ethnicity of grooming gang members.  The thugs are responsible for trafficking nearly 19,000 British girls in one year.

Who are these people?  No one knows because  Boris Johnson’s government won’t release statistics that reveal their ethnicity.

The truth is, of course, that the government doesn’t need to release the data because everyone knows the preponderance of the gang members are from non-white Islamic regions of the world.  Nearly all are ethnic Pakistanis.

It’s akin to the n-word.  No one dares say it, but everyone knows what it means.   Authorities said that releasing the data would not be in the public interest.

Survivors accused ministers of making “empty promises,” while a man who prosecuted abusers in Rochdale called for the Home Office to “show some courage and publish” its findings.

It comes after The Independent revealed that almost 19,000 suspected child sexual exploitation victims were identified by local authorities in just one year, sparking renewed calls for prevention efforts.   (Daily Kenn, 2/25/2020)

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GAY CONVERSION THERAPY BANNED IN MORE COUNTRIES

Global momentum is growing to ban so-called gay “conversion therapy,” with bills drawn up in nine countries, a rights group said on Wednesday.

The United States, Canada, Chile, Mexico and Germany are among countries seeking to outlaw the treatment, which includes practices from electric shocks to “praying away the gay” and is based on the belief that being gay or transgender is a mental illness that can be “cured,” Ilga, an LGBT+ advocacy group, said.

Worldwide, only Brazil, Ecuador and Malta have national bans on conversion therapy, condemned as ineffective and harmful to mental health by more than 60 associations of doctors, psychologists or counsellors globally, the Ilga study said.

“The main driving force [for reform] is survivors with their testimonies coming forwards,” Lucas Ramon Mendos, author of the Ilga report, which said 2020 could be a turning point in the fight against “therapies” that have ruined many lives.

“A lot of awareness is being created through their testimony,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.   (Rachel Savage, Independent, 2/26/2020)

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TO THE POINT

  • A headline in our local newspaper, the Lansing State Journal, appeared Monday.   It read: ‘White supremacy seeps into public, experts warn.”   It added:   “Incidents show startling jump over the past year.”   The article went on to show that violence emanating from “white supremacist groups” is increasing and is expected to grow further in the years ahead.   There is no excuse for violence.  But surely this is a reaction to the massive immigration of recent years and the constant emphasis on multiculturalism.   Until both change, there will be a constant threat from the political “right.”  It’s a reaction to the “extreme left.”
  • There’s a plan in Michigan to expand the options offered on payday loans.  These “short term, high cost financial products,” have trapped millions of families into a never ending “costly and potentially catastrophic cycle of debt.”  (David Snodgrass,  Lansing State Journal, 2/20/2020).   The bill “would allow lenders to charge a monthly service fee of 11% on the principal of a loan, equivalent to an APR of around 132%.   In practical terms, this means a borrower would end up paying more than $7,000 to pay off a $2,500 two-year loan.”   Heed the following biblical advice:  “If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you.  Do not take interest or any profit from them, but fear your God, so that they may continue to live among you.” (Lev. 25:35-36)
  • I went to a concert on Monday evening.   The Academy of St Martin in the Fields played Brahms Symphony Number 4, along with a violin concerto by Paganini and a short piece by Mozart.  It was a delightful and relaxing evening with good friends.
  • Also relaxing (and gripping) is my latest “read:”   “The Race to save the Romanovs” by Helen Rappaport was published in 2018.  After the Russian revolution in 1917 the Romanov family were under house arrest.   When the communists came to power later in the year, their situation deteriorated fast.   Many people wanted to save them and their five young children, but no attempt got very far; eventually, they were all brutally murdered.   The Bolsheviks were, if nothing else, thorough – killing all their opponents for over seventy years!   The deaths of the children were particularly reprehensible.   Today’s Russians have tried to make amends by canonizing each member of the Imperial Family.  28% of Russians polled said they would like to see the monarchy restored.   But how do you restore it when you killed everybody off?    (Interestingly, 28% is roughly the support US presidents get; when you consider that only 54.9% bothered to vote in the last election.)    Maurice Paleologue was the French Ambassador to Russia at the time of the revolution.   He said the only man who could have saved them was Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany.   The Russians had been fighting the Germans, along with the British and the French.  The Kaiser helped Lenin get to Russia and, when he assumed power, entered into a peace deal with him, so that Russia could leave the war.    The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk of 1918 could have (should have) included a clause freeing the Czar and his family.   Wilhelm was related to the Russian Imperial Family.  He particularly loved the children.   Why didn’t he save them?

GLOBAL OUTLOOK BLEAK FOR 2019

There have been an increasing number of articles warning about the global economy.   The latest predicts a depression worse than the Great Depression.   None are specific, in terms of “when” but all say the signs are there.

The most common problem cited is debt.   Governmental debt is already over $22 trillion in the US.   This is the highest amount any country in history has ever owed, so it’s difficult to predict what will happen.   In addition, there’s also corporate and private debt.   The figures given do not include mortgage debt, which is also extremely high.   Nor do they include the annual commitments for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other government programs, the so-called entitlements.

The 2008 financial crash started as a mortgage failure.   So did the 1873 crash.   It began in Austria-Hungary and spread around the world.   This particular crash was known as The Great Depression, more than fifty years before the depression of the thirties.   It would be a mistake to think it cannot happen again.

In fact, depressions have been a regular feature in America’s history.   There have been as many as 47 recessions and depressions since independence.   After the end of the Revolutionary War, there was a depression, in which the economy slumped by 50%.   The depression of 1873 lasted 25 years, on and off.   Unemployment was at 50% in the 1896 election, resulting in the highest turnout ever – a full 80% of voters participated that year.

Not every year saw the economy in deep depression.   It came in three waves.   It finally ended with the Spanish-American War, which got the economy moving again.

PANIC OF 1873

The 1873 depression in the US started with the collapse of Jay Cooke & Co., then a major component of the American banking establishment.   Contributory failures were the post-Civil War inflation, rampant speculative investment and losses in the Chicago and Boston fires (1871 & 1872).   Bank reserves plummeted in the first two months from $50 million to $17 million.

“The failure of the Jay Cooke bank, followed quickly by that of Henry Clews, set off a chain reaction of bank failures and temporarily closed the New York stock market.   Factories began to lay off workers as the United States slipped into depression.   The effects of the panic were quickly felt in New York, and more slowly in Chicago, Virginia City, Nevada (where silver mining was active), and San Francisco.

“The New York Stock Exchange closed for ten days starting 20 September.    By November 1873 some 55 of the nation’s railroads had failed, and another 60 went bankrupt by the first anniversary of the crisis.    Construction of new rail lines, formerly one of the backbones of the economy, plummeted from 7,500 miles (12,070 km) of track in 1872 to just 1,600 miles (2,575 km) in 1875.    18,000 businesses failed between 1873 and 1875.    Unemployment peaked in 1878 at 8.25%.    Building construction was halted, wages were cut, real estate values fell and corporate profits vanished. ”  (Panic of 1873, Wikipedia)

GRUNDERKRACH

I single out the 1873 depression because of the similarities in the global situation today.   The depression in German speaking countries is known as the Grunderkrach, or Founders Crash.   When Germany was united following the Franco-Prussian war, a lot of money flowed into the country, mostly from French war reparations. Loans were then made, mostly for mortgages.   When people couldn’t pay them, the banking system collapsed.   This spread to the US and Britain.   It was the beginning of the end of Britain’s global supremacy.

The Great Recession of 2008 began as a housing crisis.   It actually began two years earlier when housing prices started falling.   For years previously house prices had been rising fast.   Millions of people bought homes, homes they could not afford.   The banks loaned to people who should not have had loans.   It was a recipe for disaster.

The same thing is happening again.   Bad loans and speculative investments are pervasive.   Student loans are so high they could be the cause of a collapse by themselves.   Government debt is at an all-time high as are corporate debt and consumer, non-mortgage debt (credit cards).

I am reminded of what the late President of France, Charles de Gaulle, said over 50 years ago.   He did not want Britain to join the EU (he had incredible foresight!).   He dismissed the US and the UK as “the Anglo Saxon debtor nations.”   The British-American economic systems have been built on massive debt.   It works well . . . for a while!   Eventually, there comes the day of reckoning.

That may be this year.

We should never have borrowed so much money, especially after the Crash of 2008.   Often it’s been encouraged by government, when it makes little sense.   Social engineering has boosted the value of homes and increased the number of loans (more profits).   A government decree made under the last administration was that all neighborhoods should be 25% minority; the only way to achieve that was to give 100% loans to people who had never owned a house. Additionally, 100% loans have been made to immigrants, who have had little time to learn how the economy works in the US.

Remember, at stake here is America’s global leadership role.   A serious set-back for the economy would weaken the US.

It’s interesting here to note that the euro is set up very differently, with government borrowing limited to 3%.   The euro has its own problems, but could emerge as the greater currency in the event of a global depression.  It’s already used by more people than the US dollar.

Debt can mean the borrower ends up in servitude to the lender. Note the following warning from scripture:   Proverbs 22:7 7  “The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender.”

This is a far cry from the promised blessings for obedience:

Deuteronomy 15:6 says:  “For the Lord your God will bless you just as He promised you; you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow; you shall reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over you.”

A second cause of financial concern is impending TRADE WARS.   These will slow down the global economy.   Once again, uncertainty is an issue here.

A third reason the global economy is at risk is BREXIT, now less than two months away.   This could seriously affect inter-European trade.

A fourth factor, increasingly seen, is the economic Rule of Inequality. This is an economic law that predicts the likelihood of revolution based on the gap between the rich and the poor in any country. China is very concerned about this.   There is only one country with a greater gap and that’s the US.   Trump’s election was our “revolution” – if he is not able to deliver, there will be trouble ahead.

There are many countries around the world with a similar gap. France is going through weekly demonstrations about the rising gap between rich and poor; Venezuela and Zimbabwe are on the brink of revolution.

Other factors to watch are China’s slowdown and even the weather. Both can impact economies.

The above are all the predictables.   There may be other factors, unpredicatables, such as war, that can add to economic woes.

It remains to be seen.   But the warnings are there.   The only question is “When?”

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RUSSIA & CHINA POSE BIGGEST THREATS TO US

“Former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski warned in 1997 that the greatest long-term threat to US interests would be a “grand coalition” of China and Russia, ‘”united not by ideology but by complementary grievances.”   This coalition “would be reminiscent in scale and scope of the challenge once posed by the Sino-Soviet bloc, though this time China would likely be the leader and Russia the follower.”

Nobody listened back then, but now it’s becoming clear that the two countries are cooperating to deal with what each perceives as the American threat.   The latest development is in Venezuela, where they are supporting President Maduro and condemning the US for backing the “usurper,” Juan Guaido.

In the past, the US has thought a Sino-Russian entente outlandish. Only now it’s happening.   As Mr. Brzezinski warned, it’s not that they have a lot in common, but rather they share a common enemy.

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UK TO CRASH OUT OF THE EU

Now, nothing can stop Brexit from happening.   Even many supporters of remaining in the EU see that.   The way Europe has treated the UK will make it impossible to avoid a hard Brexit.   (This assumes no change of heart in the EU.)

The facts are that British incompetence has led to Europe just wanting to get it over with.   Looking back on almost 50 years of membership there is a realization that Britain has never been a good fit, either, so why try to keep the British in?

A third reason is NATO.   Most of the other European countries sense that the US is pulling out of NATO, that it doesn’t want the responsibility or cost of defending the other members.   This is why Europe is trying to put together its own military force.   Britain, more pro-American, would only get in the way of this.

So, expect a full Brexit on March 29th.

This will not prevent Mrs. May running around Europe like a chicken with its head cut-off!

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BOOK QUOTE

“From July 1780 until the end of the year, the Catawba River Valley and the adjacent northern districts were the scenes of some of the most brutal warfare ever fought in what is now the United States.   It was a civil war, with all its horrors, as neighbors and families turned on one another with a vengeance.”   (page 140, Partisans and Redcoats, by Walter Edgar, 2001)

SIGNIFICANT MIDTERMS

The US midterm elections do not normally get much attention, as the office of the presidency is not up for a vote.   This year has been quite different, with the election seen by many as a “referendum” on Donald Trump.   The country is very divided and there was a very high turnout.

The Irish Times, of all papers, got it right with the following comment on the midterm election.

“Many in the (US) had hoped that the first full electoral verdict on the presidency of Donald Trump would deliver a decisive repudiation of Trumpism.   The results do not bear this out.” — Irish Times.

In fact, Donald Trump’s legitimacy as president was confirmed by Tuesday’s election.   He emerged as a credible candidate for a second term in 2020.

This goes even further – populist parties around the world have received greater legitimacy.   Liberals and globalists will now have to accept that a significant percentage of the population does not want to continue in the same direction, but wants to put their own country first, over all others.

Brazil is the latest country to vote for a populist as president.   Brazil is the second most powerful nation in the Americas. President Jair Bolsonaro has said that he will follow Trump (and Guatemala) in recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.   He also plans a radical program similar to what the US president is trying to do at home.

At a press conference the morning after the election, an African-American reporter with PBS accused the president of advocating “white nationalism.”    Mr. Trump was quick to respond and point out that he is a “nationalist,” not a “white nationalist.”   He puts America first.   Most of the journalists present did not seem to understand the concept!

We are likely to see more evidence of this over the weekend when Mr. Trump joins European leaders for the centenary of the end of the First World War.   The celebrations are being held in France.   President Macron of France has already said that the war was a good example of how allies cooperating can achieve great things; he has also emphasized that the Europeans need to work together even more now that the US is less committed to Europe.

Another issue likely to arise is highlighted by this comment from the German newspaper Die Welt, following Tuesday’s election:

“. . . Trump is expected significantly to increase pressure on Europeans to invest the target of two percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on defense.   Above all, Berlin will face pressure to spend billions and billions of euros, because the federal government is far from achieving this goal.” — Die Welt

It’s easy to understand why the president of the United States is pressuring Germany on this issue, but many Europeans, including Germans, are not so keen on seeing a more militarized Germany.   Just because a nation has been a democracy for seventy years does not mean it will remain one.   Just look at history!

The press conference on the morning after the midterms was also significant and not just because the PBS and CNN reporters were  put down, for different reasons.

Nancy Pelosi was the Democratic Party spokesperson and, true to form, talked up her party’s gains on Tuesday, even though they were nowhere near as good as she herself had predicted.   She spoke of how the “monied power” had been defeated, a throw back to when the Republican Party was considered the enemy of the working man.

On the same day, I learned of a new book by Anthony Scaramucci, “Trump, the blue collar president.”   When I Googled the book, this blurb came up on “Google Books:”

“Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci tells the inside story of how Donald J. Trump, a billionaire living on Fifth Avenue, identified the struggle of blue-collar Americans, and won the Presidency.   TRUMP, THE BLUE-COLLAR PRESIDENT is the comeback story for America and Americans …”

It’s clearly not possible for Nancy Pelosi to claim the Democrats are the party of the working man when Donald Trump, a Republican, is the “blue collar president.”

The Dems’ enthusiasm for the “caravan” moving through Mexico, headed for the border, will only result in Americans at the bottom of the economic ladder losing their jobs, forcing down wages.   Trump’s promise to refuse them entry will help blue-collar workers far more.

Times have changed.   Populists across the world are the new parties of “blue collar” workers – they appeal to the grassroots.   But the liberal, intellectual parties fail to understand this.

Ms Pelosi, at 78, is out of touch with reality.

It was pointed out on the BBC the evening of the election that the average age of the three top Democrats in Congress is 75.   This contrasts with the average age of the three top Republicans in Congress, which is 48.   The new democrats entering Congress are not likely to want to be led by somebody who is so out of touch with the winds of change that are sweeping America.   The last election showed that the Dems are the wealthier party.   The Wall Street Journal last week said the midterms were a battle between college educated white women and non-college educated white blue-collar workers.   It’s all topsy-turvy!

A further change was also highlighted in the Wall Street Journal (and on TV), that 40% of African-Americans now support President Trump.   It’s not so long ago that only 4% voted for the Republicans!

Liberal news programs were enthused at the fact that the new House of Representatives is more diverse, with more women, including  the first two Muslim women.  But diversity is the opposite of unity and could do further damage to the political system.

One final thought comes from noted columnist Pat Buchanan who wrote this morning:   “The war in Washington will not end until the presidency of Donald Trump ends.   Everyone seems to sense that now.”  (“The War for the soul of America”)

Jesus Christ once said that If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”  (Mark 3:25).   A recent poll revealed that one third of Americans think the country is headed for a civil war.   This scripture was used by Abraham Lincoln on the eve of the last one, on June 16th, 1858.

The times, they are a-changing, indeed!

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BREXIT

Britain’s decision in a referendum to exit the European Union is getting more and more complicated.   Today, Jo Johnson, the brother of the former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, resigned declaring that leaving Europe is “a terrible mistake.”   This will make it even more difficult for Prime Minister Theresa May to steer the whole process through parliament.   Others may resign as the Brexit deadline of March 29th gets closer.

It’s a mess!

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ISLAM

1)   Pompano Beach, Florida, Friday Sermon By Imam Hasan Sabri: Palestine Must Be Liberated ‘Even If This Leads To The Martyrdom Of Tens Of Millions Of Muslims’.

2) Asia Bibi is a young Christian mother in Pakistan, who made the mistake of drinking out of a glass that had been used by Muslims.   For this, she was put on trial for blasphemy.   There were huge demonstrations calling for her death.

She was freed, but is going to have to leave the country as Muslim citizens still want her executed.   There have even been calls for other family members and her lawyers to be put to death.

Pakistan remains an ally of the United States.

3) Saudi Arabia is also an ally, in spite of the officially sanctioned murder of a US based journalist who worked for the Washington Post.

Jamal Khashoggi went to the Saudi Embassy in Turkey to get papers that would enable him to marry. He never left.   It seems that he was murdered in a gruesome manner, and then dismembered, his remains carried out in black plastic trash bags.

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GERMANY

Today is the centenary of the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany.   His resignation ended 400 years of Hohenzollern rule over Prussia and, after 1871, Germany.   Wilhelm is often blamed for World War I, though it’s a lot more complicated than that.   Two days after he fled to neutral Holland, the war ended.   World War II started a little over twenty years later.

Today is also the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass.   On this night, November 9, 1938, almost 200 synagogues were destroyed, over 8,000 Jewish shops were attacked and dozens of Jews were killed in Germany under the Third Reich.

BACKGROUND TO THE ZIMBABWE COUP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But it has.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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SSM, COA, SSA AND CCC

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

SSM = Same Sex Marriage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ACCUSATIONS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT

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

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

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

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

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

GUAM IN THE HEADLIGHTS

Guam isn’t in the news very often.   But right now it is.   The reason? North Korea has threatened to “nuke” it first.   It seems to have the technology to do it. But will it?   That is the question.

A North Korean attack on the US Pacific island would likely kill most of the 160,000 Americans who live there; but, within minutes, most of North Korea’s population would also be dead in a US retaliatory strike.  That figure would include North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un. Even if he has a bunker to retire to through the attack, he would no longer have a kingdom to rule over.   Kim would lose everything in minutes.   The three-generation Kim dynasty would be history!

Logic and common sense say he won’t do it.   But logic and common sense are sadly lacking in North Korea.

The world awaits developments and hopes for a good outcome.

Back to Guam.

The world was much simpler when the US took possession of the island in 1898.   It was one of four territories acquired by the United States as a result of the Spanish-American War.   The others were Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. Guam had been a Spanish territory for 230 years, since 1668.

When the USS Charleston arrived in Guam to capture the territory, the ship fired its cannons in the direction of the Spanish fort on the island.   The Spanish garrison took some time to respond.   Eventually, they sent a delegation to apologize to the Americans. They had thought the cannons were a salute and they had no means of reciprocating – they hadn’t realized this was an invasion.   It had been a while since they had received any communication from Spain.

So Guam fell into American hands.

Not without some opposition – at home.   The United States was terribly divided on the issue of foreign adventures.   Pro-interventionists included President McKinley, the future Vice President Theodore Roosevelt and newspaper magnate, William Randolph Hearst, a man of great influence at the time.   All three felt that America needed overseas possessions, like European nations. Against the acquisition of colonies were Mark Twain, Dale Carnegie and William Jennings Bryan.   These two were often referred to as the “pro-imperialists” and the “anti-imperialists.”   Imperialism was very much in vogue at the end of the nineteenth century.

The great debate around the birth of the American Empire is the subject of a new history book, entitled “The True Flag” by Stephen Kinzer, a foreign correspondent who now writes for the Boston Globe.   The Spanish-American War was a major turning point in American history and, indeed, in world history. It launched the US as a global power.

“Various forces united to push McKinley toward his decision to seize the Philippines.   Navy commanders recognized Manila Bay as a magnificent platform from which to project American strategic power into East Asia.   Business leaders saw millions of new customers for American goods, the prospect of rich resources, and a springboard to the potentially immense China market.   Missionaries and religious groups swooned at the prospect of saving millions of lost souls for Christ.   McKinley himself recognized above all the political value of annexation – and the furor he feared would engulf him if he turned away from empire at this crucial moment.” (“The True Flag,” page 87.)

Later, McKinley, a deeply religious man, recounted a vision he had at this time.

“When McKinley emerged from his trance, he found himself believing that the United States could not grant independence to the Philippines because its people were ‘unfit for self-government,’ and that ‘there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them and by God’s grace do the very best we could by them, as our fellow men for whom Christ also died.” (ibid.)

The following paragraph adds:  “McKinley was deeply religious, and his account of this vision was no doubt sincere.  Nevertheless he must have recognized the happy coincidence: what God wanted him to do would also be popular with voters.  This time, God sounded remarkably like Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge.”

These paragraphs show just how much American thinking has changed in the last century.   America’s track record in international affairs has been mixed, at best.   The Spanish-American War was won by the US.   World Wars One and Two, were also won, with allies, but there were many problems after the fighting was over.   Wars since World War Two have largely not been won and the country is now caught up in never ending conflicts in the Middle East and Afghanistan.   The resultant turmoil has created an unprecedented refugee problem and untold suffering.

Americans are often woefully ignorant of these wars and the mess that is left behind.   President McKinley did not know where the Philippines and Guam were when he ordered US forces to take both.   Somebody once said that “wars are nature’s way of teaching Americans geography” — there is a great deal of truth to that.

History, too.   A review of a new book on President James Buchanan, who was in office immediately before Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, described him as one of the worst ever leaders of the free world.   This remark fails to appreciate that Americans presidents did not lead the Free World until after World War Two.

“The first time the phrase ‘Leader of the free world’ appeared in The New York Times was in a November 1948 essay by the British economist Barbara Ward, which urged Western unity against the communist threat. With its unchallenged economic might, the United States was ‘potentially the political leader of the free world.’“ (‘What does it mean that Trump is “Leader of the Free World,” by Dominic Tierney, The Atlantic, January 2017.)

Dozens of nations have been truly and deeply thankful for the American umbrella, especially the nuclear umbrella, which protected them from communism during the Cold War.   However, the Cold War ended over a quarter of a century ago.   Now, there are other threats and the US is not doing so well.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s farewell speech in 1961 warned:

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.  The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

A powerful military-industrial complex will constantly be pushing the country toward war to justify its existence and its cost to the tax-payer.   Each of these wars divides the country as assuredly as the first overseas military adventures in 1898.   The wars in the Islamic world have cost the US billions, in addition to thousands of lives.   The result has been described by historian Geoffrey Wawro (University of North Texas) as “Quicksand,” the title of his 2010 book – the more we struggle to get out, the more we get sucked in!

WILL AMERICAN HEGEMONY BE A CONSTANT?

President Trump has vowed to maintain American hegemony, while at the same time promising to put “America First.”   Ultimately, these two are opposites.   America already suffers from a bad case of “imperial over-reach,” with too many commitments around the globe.  Can the US handle a major conflict on the Korean peninsula, together with unfinished wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan? Can the US afford another major conflict, with a $20 trillion overdraft?   Will American voters support more wars?   President Trump has added another possible military intervention, saying that the US may have to intervene militarily in Venezuela.

History shows that every great power eventually burns out.  Before the US, the British Empire was the world’s number one superpower. After World War Two, the British had to deal with three major international problems all at the same time – in India, Palestine and Greece.   Imperial over-reach led to a withdrawal from Greece and the US was well on the way to replacing the United Kingdom as the world’s policeman.   Americans should not fall into the trap of thinking the same cannot happen to them.   The country has a bad case of imperial hubris, just as Britain did before the US.

History shows the inevitability of America’s demise.

So does the Bible.

Bible scholars have long known that the US plays no role in the final prophesied events, which center on Europe and the Middle East.

This implies that something big is going to happen to America, which returns the country to its pre-1898 status, isolated from the rest of the world.   However, it won’t be the same as pre-1898 – then, the US was secure in its isolation; now, there’s too much bitterness and resentment around the world toward the United States.   Additionally, the United States is more divided now than it was then.

Daniel 2:21 reminds us that God is behind the rise and fall of nations.

“And He changes the times and the seasons;
He removes kings and raises up kings;
He gives wisdom to the wise
And knowledge to those who have understanding.”

In the sixth century BC, while living in the Babylonian Empire, Daniel had a vision that revealed to him that Babylon would soon fall and be replaced by Persia; in turn, Persia would give way to Greece and Greece to Rome.   This is exactly what happened over the next few centuries.   Each of those superpowers, in turn, thought it was invincible; yet, each one fell.   Both history and the Bible show the inevitability of this continuing.

Already, there are voices declaring the 21st century China’s century, just as the twentieth was America’s and the nineteenth Great Britain’s. Certainly,   China is a rising power.   It’s the main reason North Korea can threaten the US at this time and seemingly get away with it.

But the Bible shows that the final superpower is a power that has not yet formed; that ten nations will come together and threaten the peace and security of the world.

Revelation 17:12-13 says the following:

“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.”

The term “for one hour” means that this superpower will not last very long.   America’s supremacy has lasted 70 years, Britain’s was much longer; the next one will be a lot shorter.

Which brings us back to Guam.

When the USS Charleston took possession of Guam en route to the Philippines, America became a major power in Asia.   A successful attack on Guam from North Korea would signal the end of the American Empire.   It happened once before in 1942 when the Japanese took the island, but the US returned after defeating Japan.     A nuclear attack on the island would mean there’s nothing to return to.

It’s likely that something will be worked out and we will return to peace – this time.   But at some point American hegemony will end and it could end on an island thousands of miles away or somewhere closer to home.   It’s worth remembering that the British Empire suffered two major defeats, in Singapore (1942) and Suez (1956).

Stephen Kinzer, who wrote “The True Flag,” has an accompanying article in the latest issue of American History magazine.   He ends with an observation by Mark Twain, who opposed America’s international expansion.

The last two paragraphs make for sobering reading:  “Despondent, Twain wrote a bitter lament. His observations, trenchant then, sound eerily appropriate today.  (italics mine)

“It was impossible to save the Great Republic,”  Twain wrote.  “She was rotten to the heart.   Lust of conquest had long ago done it’s work.   Trampling upon the helpless abroad had taught her, by natural process, to endure with apathy the like at home; multitudes who had applauded the crushing of other people’s liberties, lived to suffer for their mistake in their own persons.   The government was irrevocably in the hands of the prodigiously rich and their hangers-on, the suffrage was become a mere machine, which they used as they chose.   There was no principle but commercialism, no patriotism but of the pocket.”

(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 generously donate to help cover costs.)

RUSSIA, BRITAIN AND THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

This 1783 portrait shows the American delegation to the Paris peace talks. The British refused to pose with the Americans. Animosity was still running high more than a year after the war had ended.

With three young grandchildren in the house, including a baby that recently turned one year old, I’ve taken to watching silent movies on Turner Classic Movies (TCM).   There’s no dialog to hear, so surrounding noise isn’t a problem.

I started by watching the 1925 version of “Ben Hur,” which many consider the best of the three versions.  It certainly has the best chariot scene, made at a time when animal rights were not taken into consideration.  (Not that I advocate hurting animals – it was just so REAL!)

Recently, I watched “Love” with Greta Garbo and John Gilbert, made the following year.   The two actors were more famous than Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio are today.

The movie was an enactment of Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina.”   The title was changed thanks to the tabloids.  The gossip papers had revealed that, while making the film, Gilbert and Gabo had started their own relationship.  This enabled the movie’s producers to put the following on marquees across America:   “Garbo and Gilbert in Love.” The movie was a sensation, a bigger hit than anything Hollywood turns out nowadays.

It wasn’t only the title that was changed.   Producers chose to make the movie with two alternative endings.  They referred to one as the “Russian ending,” with Anna, as in the classic, killing herself in front of a train after an adulterous affair that led to her losing her son.   Another ending was made for Americans, with Anna’s husband dying, thereby leaving her free to marry her lover, Vronsky, and keep her son.  It was felt that American audiences couldn’t handle Anna’s death.   The “American” version missed the whole point of the novel.

Interestingly, the Russian ending was shown in New York and on the West coast.   It was only Mid-western sensibilities that they were concerned about.

If Hollywood can’t even get a novel right, why would we expect them to be accurate when it comes to non-fiction?

Another Russian “story” caused a problem for Hollywood a few years later, by which time sound had replaced the old silent movies. This movie dealt with “Rasputin and the Empress” (1932).   It’s depiction of Prince Felix Yousoupov, the principal murderer of Rasputin, was so inaccurate it led to a major lawsuit; since then movies carry the words “all characters in this film are fictional,” or similar, to protect themselves from expensive lawsuits.   Now, no attempt is made at accuracy.

I’ve yet to see a Hollywood movie depict the American Revolution with any degree of accuracy.   In Hollywood, everything has to be black and white.  Real life is rarely like that.   The Revolution was not Americans against the king; the country was equally divided — one third rebelled against the crown, one third were loyal and the other third couldn’t spell “crown.”   On the eve of Yorktown, 40% were loyalists, with support for the Patriots down to 30%.

Rather than the claim that the king was acting selfishly, it can be argued that the leaders of the Patriots were.   They were heavily in debt to British banks, following a bad crop in 1773 – one way to get out from under the debt was to ditch the Crown.   It’s not surprising that wealthy indebted landowners led the revolution – the only revolution in history where those rebelling were richer than those they rebelled against!   This issue was finally resolved after the war when the belligerents got together in Paris.

I was thinking about this over the Fourth of July, when I read a review in The Economist by their American correspondent.   He reviewed a book titled:   “Scars of Independence: America’s violent birth,” by Holger Hoock of the University of Pittsburgh.    Mr. Hoock “. . . concluded that selective amnesia took hold soon after the war, as victors told their version of history, and the British displayed their genius for forgetting defeats.  In the republic’s earliest decades, stone monuments charging the British with “cold-blooded cruelty” rose on battle sites from Lexington, Massachusetts to Paoli, Pennsylvania.   Meanwhile orators told Americans that their revolt had been unusually civilized:  one public meeting in 1813 declared the revolution “untarnished with a single blood-speck of inhumanity.”  (The American Revolution Revisited – a Nation Divided, Even at Birth)

I have an extensive library of books on the Revolution, all of which were written by Americans.  The following quote from The Economist is an accurate observation:

“Browse through school history books, with names like “Liberty or Death!” and the struggle to throw off British rule is sanctified as a victory of American patriot-farmers and artisans against battle-hardened British redcoats and foreign mercenaries, defending ideals crafted by orators in periwigs.  Yet go back to contemporary sources, and they called it what it also was:  a brutal civil war.” (Economist review.)

6% of America’s population died in the Revolutionary War, as against 2% in the War Between the States eight decades later.  (By 1861 the population was much higher, but the percentage gives an idea of the relative suffering of the people.)

Note the following:  “At the war’s end, about one in 40 Americans went into permanent exile, the equivalent of some 8m people today.” (ibid.)

The Revolutionary War was a civil war.   Most battles took place without the presence of British soldiers – brother fought brother, to death, with little mercy shown.   Ironically, if the Revolutionary War had not taken place, the “Civil War” would never have happened – the imperial parliament in London abolished the slave trade in 1808 and slavery itself 25 years later.   No battles were fought over the issue.   Additionally, states’ rights would never have been a factor or cause for conflict.   Canada was spared both civil wars.

So, what did Americans gain?

FACTS TELL A DIFFERENT STORY

Consider the following gleaned from a variety of books on the subject:

>>>American historian Gordon Wood, considered the foremost expert on the Revolution, wrote in his book: “The Radicalization of the American Revolution,” that England in the eighteenth century was the freest country in the world and that the colonists were even freer.  The king was the guarantor of freedom – never again could a commoner like Oliver Cromwell take power and become a dictator. Celebrations for King George III’s coronation in 1762 were greater in the colonies than in England.   So, what went wrong and why, then, did some Americans want more freedom?

>>>The French and Indian Wars were fought by Britain and the colonists to defend the latter against a French Catholic take-over. George Washington, serving “King and Country”, fired the first shots. The seven-year war left the British government with serious debts, which they tried to recoup by taxing the colonies.   Americans did not want to pay for the war.   Over two centuries later, Americans still do not like to pay for wars.

>>>Contrary to what is often thought today, all thirteen original colonies had a democratic form of government.   All property-owning males could vote, with a 90% turnout at elections.   After independence, there was no immediate widening of the franchise.   In 1789, when the first election was held, only 6% of the population could vote.   Both the United States and the United Kingdom extended the franchise during the nineteenth century and both gave women the vote after World War One.   America lagged behind England in voting rights, not catching up until the Voting Rights Act of 1964.

>>>The Right to Vote and the Right to Bear Arms were in force before 1776.   Indeed, the revolution would not have been possible without these rights.

>>>It has often been pointed out that the leaders of the Revolution were richer than the people they rebelled against.

>>>In 1772, the monumental Somerset Decision sent shock-waves through the American colonies.  A slave  had taken his owner to court.  The court ruled that nobody in the British Isles could be owned by somebody else.  If extended to the colonies, this would have ruined prosperous farmers who needed free labor.

Wikipedia has this to say on the subject:   “Somerset v Stewart 98 ER 499 is a famous judgment of the English Court of King’s Bench in 1772, which held that chattel slavery was unsupported by the common law in England and Wales.”

>>>Rather than the claim that the king was acting selfishly, it can be argued that the leaders of the Patriots were.  They were heavily in debt to British banks, following a bad crop in 1773.

>>> Paul Revere did not ride through Lexington, Massachusetts, shouting:  “the British are coming.”   This would have made no sense as everybody was British.   It would be like somebody today, seeing the police approaching, would shout out the warning that the Americans are coming.   Rather, Paul Revere warned that “the Regulars are coming,” a reference to full time professional troops.

>>>Geoffrey Wawro, a distinguished scholar of military history who teaches at the University of North Texas, led a discussion some years ago on “Global View” (History International Channel).   The panel concluded that the separation of England and America weakened the English-speaking world considerably.

>>>By 1800, almost twenty years after independence, Americans were paying more in taxes than they had ever paid under colonial rule.

>>>As the Patriots called themselves the “Sons of Liberty,” the Tories referred to them as the “Sons of Anarchy.”   Partly because of what happened a century earlier when England itself became a republic, many loyalists feared a total breakdown of law and order if the country became a republic, a country without a king.   A Biblically literate population was aware of the warning at the end of the Book of Judges:   “There was no king in Israel in those days; every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”  (Judges 25:25).   No king meant anarchy!

>>>Many of today’s super-patriots, those who celebrate the 4th of July most vigorously, ironically, would probably have been Tories in 1780.   Conservatives don’t like change or uncertainty.

>>>This brings us back to the Russians.  Newt Gingrich’s book “Yorktown” brings out that Catherine the Great of Russia offered to mediate between the British government and those rebelling against it.   One idea proposed was that Americans would keep their unitary nation, but remain within the Empire.  On the eve of the final Battle of Yorktown, this was acceptable to most Americans, including members of the Continental Congress.  This would have resulted in America being more like Canada.   It would, of course, also have meant there was no need for Canada – loyalists would have stayed where they were.   Catherine’s mediation attempt got nowhere – the autocratic Russian Empress was hardly a credible mediator between two sides that both believed in democracy.

>>>The victory at Yorktown would not have happened without the French navy.   After the battle, the situation was unclear.   It wasn’t until the King asked parliament for more money to fight the rebellion that the war finally ended – parliament refused his request.

>>>Cut off from the empire’s trading system, the US struggled financially after independence.  Even in the 1930’s, the nations of the British Empire recovered from the Great Depression quicker than the US.  America was anxious to break into the imperial trading club without becoming a part of the empire.

The question remains:   what did Americans gain from independence?  One thing comes immediately to mind – that the new country was no longer bound by British treaties with the “Indians;” they could now expand westward.

Ironically, it was a British bank that financed the Louisiana Purchase and British investors who helped build the railways that opened up the West.   So the Brits did their part to make the country expand anyway.

On the other hand, if those treaties had remained in effect, California may never have entered the Union and Hollywood might not exist – some would say, those are two very good reasons for remaining loyal to the Crown!

So, why did Americans revolt and why did the rebels (patriots) win?

Decades after the American Revolution, the Anglo-Israelite movement believed that the British Empire and the United States of America were the fulfillment of a prophecy in Genesis 48; that the two sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, would become a great company of nations (Ephraim; the British Empire and Commonwealth) and his brother would become a great single nation (Manasseh, the United States).   As the “company of nations” (Genesis 48:19) was united by the Crown, the great single nation had to break away from the crown, which is exactly what the United States did.   Note: ”He set Ephraim before Manasseh (verse 20)”. Britain was the world’s superpower before the United States.  In relative terms, Britain was also greater than its successor.  After the loss of the American colonies, the British went on to develop the greatest empire the world had ever seen.

In other words, God determined the outcome of the Revolutionary War in order to fulfill Bible prophecy.

AMERICA’S GROWING DIVISIONS

trump-and-obama

On the same day as the Inaugural in Washington, The Gambia was in the midst of a major constitutional crisis.   Gambia is a slither of a country in west Africa.   Until the weekend, it was ruled by the same dictator for over twenty years.

A recent election gave victory to Mr. Adama Barrow, but President Yahya Jammeh refused to step down.

Neighboring countries in the region invaded to remove the former president and replace him with the new one.   Mr. Jammeh has now gone.

It’s different in America.   No coups or counter-coups were needed to remove President Obama.   Canadian and Mexican troops were not needed, either.

America has had smooth transfers of government for a very long time.   That is to America’s credit.

But some commentators, including some religious ones, are doing a disservice to the United States when they describe America as “unique” in this regard.   They also overlook an area of grave concern, deeply rooted in American history.

America’s peaceful changes of government are not unique.   England has had peaceful transfers of power since 1689, to name just one country.   Ed Morrow, CBS’s American wartime correspondent during World War II, marveled that, when faced with foreign invasion and possible extinction, the United Kingdom maintained a democratic system of government and people were free to criticize Winston Churchill.   He did not think America would fare so well when faced with similar threats.

It can truthfully be said that America is unique in one respect – it is the only presidential system in the world that always has peaceful transfers of power.   Others, like Gambia, have a bad history in this regard. It has taken over 50 years of independence for The Gambia to get a new elected Head of State – and the change was not peaceful.   Zimbabwe has had the same president for 38 years following its independence – there is no sign of change in the country, though people talk increasingly of “nature taking its course” – the president is well over 90 years of age.

So, credit to America.

But not so fast.

In 1860, the election was peaceful, but a few weeks later, fourteen southern states seceded from the Union.   Four years of civil war followed. 2% of the people were killed.

Go back even further, to 1775, and we see another civil war that claimed 6% of the people’s lives.   (The population was less then so the total number was less, but the impact was, arguably, greater.)   This war is known as the Revolutionary War or the American War of Independence.   It lasted seven years.

Both wars saw incredible divisions in America.   Both saw “brother against brother.”   Both were truly civil wars of the worst kind.   Is another civil war possible?   It is not out of the question.

Again, we are seeing great division in American society.   Roughly half the voters supported Donald Trump, while the other half supported Hillary Clinton.   The latter seem no more inclined to accept the result than voters in 1860.   That is not to say there will be another civil war, but there could be a great deal of civil unrest; and, eventually, another civil conflict, this time between conservatives and liberals, with race as a contributory factor.

Hundreds of thousands, some would say millions, of angry women were out on the streets of a number of cities, demonstrating over threats to women’s rights; an issue that did not even exist in 1860.   The term “women’s rights” is a euphemism for abortion, the murder of babies.   There was no support for abortion in 1860 – that’s a new phenomenon that is directly due to the nation’s gradual rejection of Christianity.   Over 60 million abortions have been performed since legalization in 1973 – those children, who would now be adults, have been replaced by over 60 million immigrants, some from countries that are hostile to the United States.   It really doesn’t make any sense.

Many of those immigrants are now with the demonstrators against the new Administration.   This adds an ethnic dimension that did not exist in the two previous civil wars.   Some of the most outspoken critics of the new administration in Washington are Muslims.   Liberals come quickly to their defense. I even heard one prominent liberal on CNN yesterday extolling the virtue of an Islamic female leader who “is pro-gray, pro-LGBT.”   Do they really believe that?  The gay lifestyle is totally at variance with Islam.   Gays have no civil rights in any Muslim country.

These divisions in America, primarily over abortion (sorry, women’s rights) and race, will continue to worsen during the Trump presidency.   They have already resulted in some violence.   In time, they could explode into greater conflict.

Americans can pride themselves on being part of a presidential republic that has seen many peaceful changes of government, but America is not unique where peaceful change is concerned.   The challenge now is to make sure peaceful transfers of power continue. This is not likely to happen in a period of increasing diversity. Tribalism was a big factor in Gambia’s electoral disaster – tribalism is now a growing threat in America.

Diversity is just another word for “tribalism.”

We should not become complacent.   Jesus Christ warned that:  “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”  (Matthew 12:25).

 

 

 

 

 

 

REFLECTIONS

gift-return

USA Today disclosed last week that the average family home in the US has 71 toys.   71?!?    I can only remember having two when I was a child — a farm set and a train set.   Admittedly, both had multiple pieces.   But 71?

Actually, I can believe it.   I always seem to be stepping on toys when I walk through our home.   Even at our daughter’s in Indianapolis, the living room floor is the favored spot for dumping toys.  My wife always said that toys were things to drag from the bedroom and dump on the living room carpet, and then the kids go out and play with a stick.

It wasn’t like this in Africa.   Most children there had no toys, unless a family member had made one from a used car tire or an old cardboard box.

When we first moved to the US, I was fascinated by how different American children are from African children; not for the better, I might add.  Too many American kids say bad things back to their parents and are more materialistic when it comes to getting things (toys and candy, mostly).

Part of the problem is television programs and commercials.   Children put incredible pressure on parents to buy them everything they’ve seen on TV and advertisers know this.   Credit cards enable parents to buy – few in Africa have CC’s.   One other factor I think all parents should think about – how many buy toys out of guilt?  With very little time to devote to children, parents over-compensate by buying lots of things.

I think their offspring would prefer time with Mom and Dad.  We didn’t have lots of things growing up, but our mother was always there, thankfully.

One other thing we should be concerned about is not to encourage materialism or greed in our children and grandchildren.  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “ (Matthew 6:19-21).

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It’s no surprise that Jimmy Fallon and Meryl Streep criticized President-elect Donald Trump Sunday night at the Golden Globes.

Fallon even commented that the Globes are now the only place in America where the “popular vote” counts.  Really?   I wasn’t asked to vote on the best movies of 2016.

The theater was full, as usual.  Many of those seated threatened to leave the United States if Trump won the election.   Canada seemed the preferred destination.  But they were there at the Globes.  Presumably they flew back for the evening!!!   Or, perhaps, upon reflection, when they saw how much they would have to pay in taxes in Canada, they decided to stay in the United States.

These people are unreal.  (Well, they are actors, after all.)  They rake in the millions or hundreds of millions and spend more money on face-lifts and breast enhancements than Donald Trump will ever spend on the military.  Their gowns alone cost more than the GNP’s of many countries.

Meryl Streep is a good actress.  So are some of the others in the audience.  They should stick to acting and stay out of politics, before millions of their fans turn away from them in disgust.

There was also an element of hypocrisy when Meryl Streep, commenting on Donald Trump, warned that violence begets more violence.  Hollywood has arguably done more to promote violence than Donald Trump or any other president could possibly do.

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alixs-kids

Diane and I have just been down to Indianapolis to see our eldest daughter, Alix, her husband, Mike, and their four children.  It was an enjoyable and relaxing few days.

I was able to take our two granddaughters, Alyssa and Elena, to tour President Benjamin Harrison’s home in downtown Indianapolis.   It was well worth the time and money to tour the historic house.   I am pleased to say that both girls asked intelligent and perceptive questions.

President Harrison was the 23rd President of the United States, in office from 1889 to 1893.   He replaced Grover Cleveland and was succeeded by the same man, a Democrat.   Harrison was a prime example of Churchill’s later dictum:  “If you’re not a socialist (liberal) at 20 you’ve got no heart; if you’re still a socialist at 30, you’ve got no head.”  He started out as a Whig but later became a Republican.

Historians do not rate his presidency very highly, but it’s interesting to note that he was facing the same issues that confront President-elect Trump today.   He raised tariffs on imports to help reduce the federal deficit and built up the navy which had been neglected since the Civil War.  (Interestingly, the day we toured the home, a website revealed that, for the first time in decades, there were no US naval vessels on patrol anywhere in the world.)

President Harrison is remembered as the grandson of President William Henry Harrison, who was president for exactly one month. He gave a very long speech at his Inaugural in 1841, caught a cold which developed into pneumonia, and died.   The two Harrisons are the only grandfather-grandson presidents in US history.

The second president also saw six states enter the Union during his four-year term, a record number under any chief executive.

It was sobering to note that the three-story home had no indoor plumbing!

It was an interesting visit and I recommend it if you are ever in Indianapolis.

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On a different day I took the twins to McDonald’s for an ice cream sundae, followed by a visit to Meijer, a huge grocery store that also sells toys.  (The twins would probably describe it as a toy store that also sells groceries!)

When ordering ice cream for them, I asked for a hot tea for myself.   The man taking the order responded with “Excuse me?”  I repeated my request.  He said he had never heard of it!  (seriously!)   So I asked for the manager and, again, repeated my request for a hot tea.   He had at least heard of it.   I added a request that the bag be put in the cup before the water as it tastes so much better that way.   My order came five minutes later – a styrofoam cup with luke-warm water and a separate tea bag!

I’m pleased to say that Tim Horton’s is moving south – they have now reached Ft Wayne.  I think I will stay away from Indianapolis until they move the extra 120 miles!  At least the Canadian franchise makes decent tea – just stay away from the donuts.

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There was an interesting paragraph Monday morning from an Israeli paper:

“Religious Jews are more excited about Messiah’s return than Christians are,” Markell told WND.   “Muslims are more anticipatory about their Mahdi’s return than are Christians about Jesus’s return. This shows the deplorable state of the church today that is ‘majoring in minors.’   They have their finance seminars and marriage conferences but have shoved the idea of the Lord’s imminent return not just to the back burner, perhaps to the back yard.”   (WND)

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AIRPORT ATTACK

The latest terrorist attack at Fort Lauderdale’s airport is disturbing.  It highlights the danger that ISIS is spreading beyond Islam to non-Muslims.  The perpetrator of Friday’s attack was an American born Hispanic.   If ISIS spreads its influence to hispanics and other minorities in America, attacks like this will only become more common.

A Palestinian drove a truck into a group of soldiers in Jerusalem on Sunday, killing four and injuring dozens.   These truck (or lorry) attacks in France, Germany and Israel are also spreading.

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NEW YEAR, 1917

We were with Alix and Mike over the New Year’s weekend.   Mike came across a quote, supposedly from Russia’s last Czar, Nicholas II, who wrote on the last day of 1916, in the middle of World War I:   “1916 was cursed. The new year will surely be better.”   Those who know Russian history will be aware that the Czar abdicated in February of 1917, the country was plunged into civil war before the year ended and the royal family were all slaughtered.   The “quote” was tweeted by Gary Kasparov, the famous Russian chess player who now lives in the United States.   Whether it’s true or not, it should make us think!