Tag Archives: climate change

ISRAEL ATTACKS SYRIAN AND IRANIAN TARGETS

Syria’s state media released images of what they say are destroyed houses near Damascus (AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Israel says it has hit dozens of targets in Syria belonging to the government and allied Iranian forces.

The Israeli military says the “wide-scale strikes” responded to rockets fired by an Iranian unit into Israel.   Syria says two civilians died and that Syrian air defenses shot down most of the missiles over Damascus.  Other reports say the death toll was higher.   Local reports said loud explosions were heard in the capital.   Pictures on social media showed a number of fires.

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PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS

“It’s easy to go about our lives and forget that in places like Nigeria, Iran and North Korea being a Christian can often lead to death.” — Vernon Brewer, founder and CEO of World Help, Fox News, November 4, 2019

“4,136 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons.  On average, that’s 11 Christians killed every day for their faith.” — Open Doors, World Watch List 2019

More than 245 million Christians around the world are currently suffering from persecution. — Open Doors, World Watch List, 2019 (Gatestone 11/15/2019)

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CHANGES AHEAD IF CORBYN WINS

The United Kingdom has a general election on December 12th.  It is considered the most important election in 80 years.  It will determine the issue of Brexit, the future direction of the British economy and even of the United Kingdom itself.

  • “By far the most likely casualty of a Corbyn government would be the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network, where there is a strong likelihood that other member states of the alliance will be deeply reluctant to share highly sensitive material with a British prime minister who has spent his entire political career openly associating with regimes and groups that are utterly hostile to the West and its allies.
  • At the heart of his hard Left approach to foreign policy lies a deep hatred for the US and its role in safeguarding the interests of the Western democracies.
  • Thus Mr. Corbyn’s instinct is to be more sympathetic to the views of Russia, Iran, North Korea and the Assad regime in Syria than Britain’s long-standing allies in Washington and Europe.   (Con Coughlin, Gatestone, 11/16/2019)

JEREMY CORBYN’S BIG NEGATIVE EFFECT ON FOREIGN POLICY

“A Corbyn-led government would quickly lead to the biggest change in Britain’s defense posture since the second world war.   Even if the country stayed in NATO, as is likely, it would be a passive member, reluctant to push back against Russian expansionism and hostile to the idea of a nuclear deterrent.   Given that NATO depends on confidence that it means what it says, this would be a severe blow to its credibility.   Britain’s Middle East policy would be revolutionized, with a more hostile stance toward Israel and the Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia, and a friendlier one to Iran.   America would almost certainly stop sharing critical intelligence with Downing Street, for fears that such secrets would find their way into Russian or Iranian hands.   Given Britain’s membership of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, that would harm Europe’s ability to combat hostile states and non-state actors.

“Such a revolution would come at a sensitive time.   Mr. Trump is already disrupting established security relations (for all their differences, he and Mr. Corbyn share a common hostility to the multinational institutions that have kept the peace since 1945).   Brexit is straining relations with Britain’s European allies, while gobbling up the political class’s available bandwidth.  The Foreign Office is demoralized by decades of cuts, and the security establishment is still tainted by the weapons-of-mass-destruction fiasco.

All this is taking place at a time when Mr. Putin is on the march and Islamic State is shifting its focus from state-building to global terror. A Dangerous world may be about to become more dangerous.” (“Security questions,” Bagehot, The Economist, 11/9,2019).

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MACRON ON RUSSIA

“. . . consider Mr. Macron’s Russia policy.   He has long argued that rogue powers are more dangerous when isolated.   To this end, he has hosted Vladimir Putin at both Versailles, near Paris, and Bregancon, on the Mediterranean.   But his call for a “rapprochement” with Russia, in order to keep it out of China’s arms, has alarmed Poland and the Baltics.   “My idea is not in the least naïve,” argues Mr. Macron.   He insists that any movement would be conditional on respect for the Minsk peace accords in Ukraine.   He has not called for sanctions to be lifted.   And he sees this as a long-term strategy, that “might take ten years.”   Mr. Macron’s belief is that, eventually, Europe will need to try to find common ground with its near neighbor.   Not doing so would be a “huge mistake”.” (Briefing, The Economist, 11/9/2019)

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WHO WILL PAY FOR ENDLESS WARS?

“Future generations will pay for them:   the wars have been funded by debt.   Most Americans have had little reason to think their country is even at war.    And lucky them because war is hell.   But this disconnect helps explain why the country’s civil-military relations are as distant as they are.   It also helps explain how America came to be locked in such long and largely unproductive conflicts in the first place.   Its voters started to reckon with the rights and wrongs of the Vietnam War – then demand accountability for it – only after they felt its sting.   By contrast Donald Trump, who almost alone among national politicians decries the latest conflicts, has struggled to interest voters in them – or indeed end them.

“Though mostly wrong on the details, the president raises an important question of the long wars.   What have they achieved?” (Lexington, The Economist, 11/9/2019).

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TEMPLE MOUNT NO LONGER

154 UN nations call Temple Mount solely by Muslim name Haram al-Sharif  – EU approves text, but warns it may not do so in the future by Tovah Lazaroff, November 17, 2019

The UN gave its preliminary approval to a resolution that referred to the Temple Mount solely by its Muslim name of Haram al-Sharif.

The resolution passed at the UN’s Fourth Committee in New York 154-8, with 14 abstentions and 17 absences.   It was one of eight pro-Palestinian resolutions approved on Friday, out of a slate of more than 15 such texts the committee is expected to approve.   The UN General Assembly will take a final vote on the texts in December.

. . . Acting US Deputy Representative to the United Nations Cherith Norman Chalet told the Fourth Committee it opposed the “annual submission of more than a dozen resolutions biased against Israel.

. . .  “As the United States has repeatedly made clear, this dynamic is unacceptable,” Chalet continued.  “We see resolutions that are quick to condemn all manner of Israeli actions, but say nothing or almost nothing about terrorist attacks against innocent civilians.   And so the United States will once again vote against these one-sided resolutions and encourages other nations to do so.”
(https://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/154-UN-nations-call-Temple-Mount-solely-by-Muslim-name-Haram-al-Sharif-608135)

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GERMAN MILITIAS

Right-wing militia groups say they patrol where police turn a blind eye.  But with criminality dropping and more police than ever in Germany,  analysts and politicians say their motives are more sinister.         Deutsche Welle, 18/11/2019 

Sebastian Niedrich is one of about 20 militiamen in Berlin with a “citizen patrol” initiative.   In groups of two or three, the red-vested men patrol neighborhoods in Berlin they claim are areas where petty crime is rife.   Their initiative is called “Establish Protection Zones” (“Schafft Schutzzone”).   It is abbreviated as “SS,” which in Germany immediately brings to mind the notorious Nazi-era “SS” – the paramilitary “Protection Squadron” that persecuted millions and was directly responsible for genocide.   Niedrich rejects any such connection.   Right-wing extremist initiative:   The “Establish Protection Zones” initiative, an offshoot of Germany’s extreme-right National Democratic Party (NPD), says the areas it patrols are often popular tourist areas, as well as those with growing immigrant communities.

The first subheading of the NPD’s party platform in Berlin reads “The Problem of Foreigners” and lays out ways to close Germany’s borders, bar immigrants from receiving jobs and social benefits, and preserve Germany’s national identity.   The party’s website also prominently displays images of its logo-wearing patrols, superimposed with slogans like “Protect Germans!” and “Germans helping Germans!”   Multiple attempts to disband or ban the party entirely have failed in courts.   The extreme-right NPD in western Germany, has made it their task to protest against Islam.   A study on German society’s biggest fears released earlier this year by the Berlin Social Science Center showed that one in three respondents feared “foreign infiltration” on account of too many immigrants. Over half feared criminality.

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GERMANY-TAIPEI LINKS

German politician urges military links with Taipei                             Taipei Times, 19 Nov 2019

Germany and Taiwan should conduct military exchanges, which would be more meaningful than exchanges with China, German lawmaker Ulrich Lechte, a member of the Bundestag Committee on Foreign Affairs, said on Sunday.   “The free world should stand together,” the Free Democratic Party lawmaker wrote on Facebook.  The Taipei Representative Office in Germany’s Munich office shared Lechte’s post on its Facebook page, and thanked him for his continuing support of Taiwan.   The German newspaper Bild am Sonntag reported that 62 nations, including China, are to receive training from the Bundeswehr, Germany’s military.

Amnesty International arms and human rights expert Mathias John criticized the plans to train Chinese soldiers, telling the paper that doing so was “incomprehensible” given China’s “human rights situation and the role the Chinese People’s Liberation Army plays” in human rights violations in China.   John also brought up the protests in Hong Kong and the Hong Kong police’s response to them.  Germany should “send a clear message and immediately cease all military cooperation with China,” he said.   A spokesperson for the German Ministry of Defense told the paper that Chinese soldiers regularly participate in educational events organized by the German military, including international officer courses, as well as officer training courses offered at military schools, universities and military leadership academies.   The weekly news magazine Der Spiegel on Saturday reported that the German government is planning to send warships into the South China Sea and through the Taiwan Strait as a way of “refuting Chinese territorial claims” in those areas (http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2019/11/19/2003726106)

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ADMIRAL HORATIO NELSON and THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR

 214 Years Ago

The Battle of Trafalgar, fought 21 October 1805, was one of the most important and decisive Naval engagements of all time, decisively establishing the supremacy of the Royal Navy on the high seas.   Rather than a conventional engagement between lines of battle with gunnery duels, the English made a bold attack that allowed them to gain local superiority over the enemy and raked their ships with devastating broadsides.   The Franco-Spanish fleet was decisively defeated and British supremacy on the high seas was decisively established for the rest of the 19th century.   Lord Nelson’s defeat of the French and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar allowed British trade to flourish around the world, laying the foundations for Britain’s emergence as an economic superpower.   It also made possible the Greatest Century of Missions, as Protestant missionaries were able to sail to every corner of the world.   The Royal Navy’s domination of the high seas brought an end to the slave trade in the 19th Century.   (Reformation SA, 2019)

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TO THE POINT

  • The Chinese Ambassador to the UK has accused both the UK and the US of interfering in Chinese domestic affairs.   He is referring to British and American support for student protesters in Hong Kong.   He has a point. Democracy isn’t working too well right now in the US or the UK.   Perhaps we should shut up until things calm down at home!
  • “The escalation of the unrest in Hong Kong coincides with recent mass protests around the world.   These protests – in Bolivia, Iran and elsewhere – are not connected.   However, they are loosely linked thematically in that they concern inequality, political freedoms, corruption and climate change.”  (“Protests catch fire,” USA Today, 11/19/2019)
  • Prince Andrew’s BBC interview in which he denies having had a relationship with a 17- year-old girl, courtesy of Jeffrey Epstein, has failed to convince many.   Members of the royal family rarely give interviews.   It’s difficult to remember one, which was advantageous to the royals.   Perhaps they just haven’t had as much practice at lying as politicians!  (Prince Andrew has since withdrawn from public duties, “for the foreseeable future”.)
  • A 55-year-old man in China’s Inner Mongolia region has been diagnosed with bubonic plague after eating wild rabbit, the third recorded case of the deadly disease in the country.
  • A famous person I’ve never heard of is complaining about the patriotic song “Rule Britannia,” which dates back to the days when the British Royal Navy governed the world.   Is she objecting to the fact that the royal navy did more than any other institution to end the slave trade?   From 1810 to 1860 the West Africa Squadron freed 250,000 slaves. (see article above on Horatio Nelson; last sentence) “Slavery was a fact of life in the sixteenth century.   The African slave trade was already the largest form of commerce in the world.   No one had the least qualms about it, least of all Africa’s own tribal rulers.” (“To Rule the Waves,” page 2, Arthur Herman, 2004)
  • “The global debt ballooned to a record high of more than $250 trillion and shows no sign of slowing down, according to a new report from the Institute of International Finance (IIF).   . . . Extended low interest rates and easy money has facilitated the accumulation of a bone crushing amount of debt over the last decade or so,” Dylan Riddle, a spokesperson for the IIF told ABC News in a statement.   “This debt has helped fuel global growth, however, we must focus on managing the current debt load, and deploying resources for more productive means — like fighting climate change or investing in growth.”  (ABC News)

SLAVERY IS BACK, BIG TIME

Many of the victims were chained to car hubcaps. Picture: Nigerian police – Source:Supplied

When the first Europeans arrived in Africa in the late fifteenth century, they found a thriving slave trade along the west African coast.   UNESCO reported some years ago that the slave trade was back, in every single country.   President John Kufour of Ghana apologized for the fact that African leaders had been involved.   Without them, there could have been no slave trade.   Now, it seems that the trade is back.   See the following two reports from Nigeria.   Kaduna is a Muslim city in the north of Nigeria.

Nearly 500 men and boys have been rescued from a building in the northern city of Kaduna, where the detainees were allegedly sexually abused and tortured, Nigerian police said.

Children as young as five were among those in chains at what was thought to be an Islamic school, officers said.   Kaduna police chief Ali Janga told the BBC the building was raided after a tip-off about suspicious activity.   He described it as a “house of torture” and a place of human slavery.

Eight suspects, most of them teachers, were arrested.   The police chief said the detainees – some with injuries and starved of food – were overjoyed to be freed. (BBC 9/27)

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BABY FACTORIES

Police rescued 19 pregnant girls who had been kidnapped and raped from properties in Lagos dubbed “baby factories.”

Most of the women, aged between 15 and 28, were abducted and forcibly impregnated so their babies could later be sold.   The girls had been promised employment as domestic workers in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city.   Instead they were held in the properties and forced into sex slavery.   They were also forced to bear children, which were then sold.   (Independent, 10/1)

It’s likely that these babies were intended for western markets.

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GLOBAL ECONOMIC PROBLEMS

Manhattan apartment prices suffered their worst slide in almost a decade in the third quarter as buyers stayed away from multimillion-dollar purchases while newly-built luxury properties continued to flood the market.  Median prices fell 12 per cent in the quarter from the year earlier, the worst drop since the last three months of 2009, according to Core, a New York City real estate broker.   The median price fell to $999,950, the first time it dipped below $1m in four years, according to Core’s data.

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Vacancies in US shopping malls have hit an eight-year high but new data show that some areas are coping with the retail upheaval far better than others and the gap is widening.   The proportion of units lying empty in some cities, including Indianapolis and Birmingham, Alabama, is about four times higher than the economic hotspot of San Francisco, according to new data from Reis, part of Moody’s Analytics.   The signs of difficulty in local retail property markets come as landlords brace for a wave of store closures following the bankruptcy of Forever 21 this week.   The fast-fashion retailer, which has 32,800 employees globally, has earmarked 178 locations for closure across the US.  (Alistair Gray, Financial Times, 10/3)

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Global stocks fell sharply on Wednesday, with the UK market having its worst day in more than three years, after poor US jobs data compounded weak manufacturing reports and geopolitical fears — a pile-up of risks that sets the stage for a rocky fourth quarter.   The UK’s benchmark FTSE 100 closed 3.2 per cent lower, the largest one day fall since January 2016 and exceeding the decline that followed the UK referendum in June 2016.   The US S&P 500 fell 1.8 per cent, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq closed down 1.6 per cent.   The sell-off continued in Asia on Thursday morning. Japan’s Topix slid 2.1 per cent, on track for its worst day in almost two months, and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 2.2 per cent, setting up the bourse for worst one-day performance in seven weeks.   Stocks in Hong Kong opened down 0.8%. (Financial Times, 10/3)

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The World Trade Organisation gave America the green light to impose $7.5bn of tariffs on imports from the European Union.   The Trump administration slapped 25% tariffs on a smorgasbord, from Scotch whisky and parmesan to aeroplane parts.  The WTO had already ruled that EU subsidies for Airbus, a plane-maker, amounted to illegal state aid harming Boeing, its American rival.                          (The Economist, 10/3)

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IRAN TO WIPE ISRAEL OFF THE MAP

ISRAEL MUST BE ‘WIPED OFF MAP’ AND IRAN HAS ‘THE CAPACITY’ — Iran Guards chief:   Destroying Israel now not a dream but an ‘achievable goal’

In a claim prominently reported in Iran, Major General Hossein Salami declares Tehran able to annihilate ‘the impostor Zionist regime.   ’Four decades on from Iran’s Islamic revolution, “we have managed to obtain the capacity to destroy the impostor Zionist regime,” Major General Hossein Salami was quoted saying by the IRGC’s Sepah news site.    “This sinister regime must be wiped off the map,” Salami said.

Salami’s comments Monday came two days after Abbas Nilforoushan, the deputy commander of operations of the IRGC, threatened that if Israel attacks Iran, it will have to collect “bits and pieces” of Tel Aviv from the Mediterranean Sea.

“Iran has encircled Israel from all four sides.   Nothing will be left of Israel,” said Nilforoushan in an interview with the Iranian news agency Tasnim on Saturday.   “Israel is not in a position to threaten Iran,” he said according to a translation published by Radio Farda, the Iranian branch of the US government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.   (https://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-guards-chief-says-destroying-israel-is-not-a-dream-but-an-achievable-goal/)

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AUSTRALIAN PM GIVES MAJOR SPEECH ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has warned against “negative globalism” that could restrict his government from acting on its election promises, pushing back against global bodies in areas like climate change and border control.

Mr. Morrison used a major foreign policy speech to reject isolationism but said his government could not accept decisions by an “unaccountable internationalist bureaucracy” at odds with the will of the Australian people.

The Prime Minister insisted Australia did not have to choose between its friendships with the United States and China, one week after he took a position on global trade talks that triggered objections in Beijing.

In a key statement about Australian alliances, he praised a “quadrilateral” meeting between the United States, Japan and India last week as an important advance on regional cooperation.

And he announced his intention to visit Japan and India early next year, cementing relations with both countries at a time of public strains with China, which has strongly opposed the “quadrilateral” forum for more than a decade.   (David Crowe, 10/3)

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CANADIAN ELECTION

“. . . parts of the coalition that brought Mr. Trudeau to power are looking shady. In 2015, eight out of the ten constituencies with the highest proportion of immigrants went for his party.   The blackface scandal could put some immigrants voters off, although Mr. Trudeau’s support for high levels of immigration will weigh in his favor.   Just over 321,000 permanent residents were admitted in 2018 (0.9% of Canada’s population) and the target for 2021 is 350,000.” (The Economist, 9/28).

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CHINA’S 70th BIRTHDAY

The Chinese Communist Party celebrated 70 years in power on Tuesday, October 1st.   The “People’s Republic of China” was founded on that day, seventy years ago.

Celebrations were marred by on-going rioting in Hong Kong, where protestors celebrated a “Day of Grief.”   Sources say that the military display Tuesday was the biggest in history, showing that China is a military superpower.

President Xi declared that “no force can shake this great nation.”

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SINO-GERMAN RELATIONS

Since Berlin’s ceremonial reception of a secessionist from Hong Kong, the People’s Republic of China has been reducing its working relations with Germany.   Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi canceled a series of bilateral meetings with his German counterpart, Heiko Maas.   China’s easing customs restrictions for German automobile companies are in jeopardy.   Maas recently met with Joshua Wong, General Secretary of the Demosisto party, which is campaigning for a referendum on Hong Kong’s secession from China. Germany, which is thus blatantly interfering in the People’s Republic of China’s domestic affairs and is strengthening those forces, hostile to the Chinese nation’s continued existence, had already been one of those European powers, which, at the turn of the 19th century, had sought to weaken China, to colonially subjugate regions of the country – including Hong Kong – and to plunder the Middle Kingdom.   From the outset, German colonial troops had committed massacres of countless civilians, to crush the fierce resistance within the population. (German Foreign Policy, 10/2).

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FACEBOOK — END OF FREE SPEECH?

EU courts can demand Facebook actively monitor and delete illegal material such as hate speech, Europe’s top court has ruled.

In a landmark ruling that Facebook has warned threatens freedom of expression, the European Court of Justice on Wednesday said there is nothing in EU current law stopping Facebook from searching and deleting duplicate posts of content that has been declared illegal.   The court said the searches and deletion can be done in the EU but also worldwide should national courts demand it.

The judgment upholds a non-binding opinion from an ECJ adviser in June, which Facebook said “undermines the longstanding principle that one country should not have the right to limit free expression in other countries.”

In its ruling, the ECJ said there is nothing stopping Facebook “from being ordered to remove identical and, in certain circumstances, equivalent comments previously declared to be illegal.”  (Mehreen Kah, Brussels, Financial Times, 10/3)

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TO THE POINT

  • “For three years, the media-deep state axis has sought to overturn the election of 2016 and bring down Trump, starting with Russia-gate.   Now it appears to have tailored and weaponized the impeachment process . . .   This is what the deep state does to outsiders Middle America sends to Washington to challenge or dispossess it.”  (Pat Buchanan, 10/1)
  • SYNAGOGUES IN GERMANY
    Rykestrasse Synagogue in Berlin:   The Jewish community in Berlin with more than 11,000 members is once again the biggest in Germany.   Its main synagogue is on the Rykestrasse, a red-brick building in a Neo-Romanesque style dating from 1903/04. With seating for over 2,000 it is the second largest synagogue in Europe after the Dohány Street Synagogue in Budapest.
  • In February 2019 . . . Pope Francis travelled to Abu Dhabi after receiving an invitation from His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.   It was there that on 4 February the Pope and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, His Eminence Dr. Ahmed el-Tayeb, signed a historic Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together. Abrahamic Family House:   Immediately, the newly signed document took on flesh. Just one day later on 5 February, Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince announced the construction of the Abrahamic Family House on Saadiyat Island.   The complex will eventually house a Christian church, a mosque and a synagogue as well as an educational centre.   . . . Committee member Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak says that this latest proposal to “bring world cultures together” is rooted in an overall desire on the part of the United Arab Emirates.
  • A village in New Zealand has banned a replica of Captain Cook’s ship from docking there to mark 250 years since the explorer’s arrival after an outcry from the local Māori community.   The vessel is part of a flotilla circumnavigating New Zealand next month for the Tuia 250– a NZ$13.5m (£7m) series of events that “acknowledges the first onshore encounters between Māori and Pākehā in 1769-70.”    It was due to visit Mangonui, in the North Island, but the stop was cancelled by the ministry of culture and heritage after complaints from indigenous figures.   Anahera Herbert-Graves, the head of Northland’s Ngāti Kahu iwi, or tribe, told RNZ:    “He [Cook] was a barbarian.   Wherever he went, like most people of the time of imperial expansion, there were murders, there were abductions, there were rapes, and just a lot of bad outcomes for the indigenous people.   “He didn’t discover anything down here, and we object to Tuia 250 using euphemisms like ‘encounters’ and ‘meetings’ to disguise what were actually invasions.”   In Gisborne, nearly 800km from Mangonui down the east coast and the starting point for the flotilla’s months-long voyage, iwi said they would refuse to hold pōwhiri, or welcoming ceremonies, for those ships linked to colonization. (Graham Russell, The Guardian, 9/17)
  • BORIS JOHNSON’S PLANS FOR BREXIT                                              Boris Johnson on Wednesday finally published the plan he hopes will end Britain’s three-year Brexit agony, winning plaudits from Eurosceptics at home but prompting serious doubts about whether it could unlock a deal with the EU.   Mr. Johnson closed his Conservative party conference with a flourish, despatching to Brussels what he called “fair and reasonable” proposals to address the vexed issue of the Irish border, intended to broker an exit deal by October 31.   The prime minister’s allies said Mr. Johnson would negotiate with Brussels, but if his plan was rejected outright he would break off all talks and start preparing for a no-deal exit.   He could also refuse to attend an EU summit next month and fight any future election blaming Brussels, opposition parties and Remainers for stopping Brexit.  (Financial Times, 10/3)

 

LOOSE ENDS

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

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

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

Clearly, Sir John was held in high esteem.

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DIABETES

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

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

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

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

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CELL PHONE ADDICTION

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

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

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

I should add that hands-free phones are ok.

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DEATH OF BOB HAWKE

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

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

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CHURCHILL

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

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

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

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

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BORIS SET TO WIN?

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

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

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

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

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

It will be some time before Europe settles down.

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

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LONDON NO LONGER LONDON

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

It’s a fact.   Just don’t mention it!

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

“Why is liberalism fading away, and nationalism ascendant?

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

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DEATH OF FRANCE

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

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

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

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WHAT’S BEIJING DOING IN HAIFA?

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

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

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

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

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

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GERMANY STRENGTHENS TIES WITH LATIN AMERICA

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

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MERKEL AT HARVARD

Angela Merkel gave the commencement address at Harvard University today.

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

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

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

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

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Trump will win 2020 election unless Democrats impeach, says expert

(Independent, 5/30)

AUSTRALIA – THE WONDERFUL LAND DOWN UNDER

    BREAKING NEWS:   THERESA MAY RESIGNS

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

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

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

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

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AUSTRALIA – THE WONDERFUL LAND DOWN UNDER

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

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

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

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

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

Intermezzo Cafe, Wangaratta, NSW

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

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

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AUSTRALIAN ELECTION

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

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

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

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

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

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REMEMBERING THE PAST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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THE AUSTRALIAN

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

I enjoyed reading it each day, even with coffee!

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BACK TO THE US

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

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

GROWING ANGLO ISOLATION

President Trump announcing US withdrawal from Paris climate accord deal.

An historic upheaval is taking place around the world as the US and UK, the two leading Anglo-Saxon powers, inadvertently separate from other nations.

It started a year ago with the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom. One year later, the country is about to enter dialog with other EU nations, a divorce settlement that is going to have a lasting effect on both the UK and the EU.

The historic upheaval continued last week when President Trump ended an international trip with a NATO meeting in Sicily that made it clear the US will no longer guarantee the security and independence of other NATO countries if they are invaded by Russia.   This effectively ends Clause 5 of the NATO Treaty that required all member nations to come to the aid of another member if attacked.

The only time Clause 5 has been invoked was on September 11th, 2001, in defense of the United States.   Alliance members came to America’s aid.

A third development could end America’s leadership role in the world.

I posted a few weeks ago an article on the 70th anniversary of America’s replacing Britain as the world’s chief superpower and international policeman.   The question I asked was: “Could 70 be it for the US?” (February 19th).

It looks increasingly likely that, indeed, 70 could be it!
I say this following President Trump’s announcement yesterday that the US is withdrawing from the Paris climate deal.

Climate change has certainly become politicized.   It’s also true that it has cost jobs, in the US and other countries.   But the fact is that 195 countries in the world signed the deal – the only two that didn’t were Syria and Nicaragua.

More is at stake than a simple climate deal to reduce carbon emissions.

What’s at stake here is America’s global leadership.

Next time the US goes to other nations and asks for help (Afghanistan in 2001, Iraq in 2003 are two examples, the fight against ISIS more recently), it’s likely the country will be rebuffed.

The dispute within NATO also risks the US president losing the accolade “Leader of the Free World.”   In recent days, Angela Merkel seems to be filling that role.

Jacob Hellbrunn, editor of the American magazine National Interest, asked in the May 28th issue, Is Trump Pushing Merkel to Create A German Superpower?

“Donald Trump entered office hoping that he could splinter the European Union.  But what if his presidency has the effect of further unifying it —against America?
“. . . Until now, the core relationship in American foreign policy in Europe has been with Germany.   That tie appears not simply to be fraying but on the verge of snapping.   It will be no small irony if Trump has impelled Europe to transform itself into a unified great power.”

Two days later, the National Interest, in a separate article by Salvatore Babones, once again addressed the issue of Germany:

“Germany is not among America’s “closest and oldest allies.”   That honor surely goes to the United Kingdom.   And second, Merkel didn’t single out just the United States.  She said that Europe can no longer rely on the United States or the UK for its security.   In other words, Merkel wasn’t just declaring her independence from Donald Trump.   She was declaring independence from Theresa May, too. But can Germany defend Europe itself?   And even if it could, would Europe want it to?   The most likely answer to both questions is “no.” (“Can Germany defend Europe on its own?”)

The last question and answer overlooks the possibility that the US may push the Europeans into standing on their own; and the only leader, in such a situation, is Germany.   This likely development has been made more likely by Brexit, even though London says it is not turning its back on Europe.   The outcome of Thursday’s election in the UK could be decisive here – a change of government, even a hung parliament where no party has enough votes to govern effectively, would seriously weaken Britain’s role relative to the EU.

SHIFTING ALLIANCES

Yesterday, it was France’s turn.   Emmanuel Macron, the new President of France, took the unprecedented step of announcing France’s “disappointment” at Mr. Trump’s decision and inviting scientists from around the world to fight climate change from France.   Paris was where the deal to fight climate change was signed in December 2015.   The new French prime minister described Trump’s decision as “calamitous.”   (It should be noted that this was the first time ever that a French president addressed the world in English from the Elysee Palace. It was clear to whom it was addressed.)

CBS’ Ben Tracy put it well this morning when he said:   “The president (Trump) is fundamentally shifting alliances around the world” (CBS This Morning).

Note the following from a British newspaper Friday morning:
“One senior European NATO diplomat said:   “Trump showed that we have fundamental differences about what NATO is for. NATO is designed to defend the territory of its members, not stop terrorism or immigration.   We are heading in opposite directions.”   (NATO joins forces in fight against ISIS – but it’s branded as POINTLESS in Germany” (Katie Mansfield, Daily Express, June 2nd).

Many Bible students know that another superpower will soon replace the United States as the world’s global leader.   Some have felt that Donald Trump would reverse America’s fortunes by putting “America First” and strengthening America’s role in the world.   At this point in time it seems more likely that he will speed up the rise of an alternative global power that will rival the United States of America.   Revelation 13, 17 & 18, together with Daniel 2 & 7 describe this new superpower.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OBSERVATIONS II

Puerto rican debt

President Obama has called for urgent action on climate change, to save the environment for our children and grandchildren.

We are not likely to hear him call for massive reductions in government spending so that our children and grandchildren do not have to pay back the $18 trillion debt the last two generations have accumulated.

This problem is arguably more urgent than climate change.

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We’ve been hearing a lot about Greece recently.  The country has some serious financial problems.  Now Puerto Rico is in default.

“Puerto Rico’s outstanding debt of $72 billion is far bigger than Detroit’s $20 billion bankruptcy two years ago but a fraction of Greece’s $350 billion in obligations.  But unlike Detroit, there’s no law allowing Puerto Rico to declare bankruptcy…..  ’There’s no big daddy to rescue Puerto Rico,’ says Gary Hufbauer, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.”   (“Puerto Rico defaults on $72bn debt”, USA Today, Tuesday.)

As everyone with a credit card knows, eventually you have to pay the balance.

It’s no different with countries.

How are we, or our grandchildren going to pay off $18 trillion of national debt?   How long before it’s $20 trillion?   Will that be the psychological barrier that prompts the rest of the world to say “Enough!”?

What’s happening in Greece could also happen here.

In Athens, the Stock Market reopened yesterday after a five-week shutdown due to the financial crisis.   Shares fell dramatically, with some investors losing 25% in one day.   Shares of the Greek National Bank, once trading as high as $27.50, dropped to $0.09 Monday.

The general feeling is that the worst is yet to come.

It could also spread to other countries with a heavy debt load.

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Our economic woes are certainly increasing.  One reason is the drought, which is severely affecting some parts of the country and has been for four years.   This has led to many of the uncontrolled fires we are witnessing on the nightly news.

The drought stricken land reminds me of God’s warning to the ancient Israelites, that if they did not obey Him, there would be some serious consequences.

One of those consequences would be drought.   Note:  Deuteronomy 28:23 – “The skies above will be as unyielding as bronze, and the earth beneath will be as hard as iron.”  (New Living Translation)

Is God trying to tell us something?

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I haven’t been able to post any articles for a few days.  This is because all eight grandchildren were staying with us last week.  The four oldest, all girls, are aged 8 to 10; the four youngest, all boys, 2 & 3.   Needless to say, I spent the week pre-occupied with little time to think, let alone write.

But it was fun having them all and we’re looking forward to the next time — over the Labor Day weekend.   Family get-togethers are so very important!