Tag Archives: Democrats

WORST DEPRESSION SINCE 1706

(The Spectator, April 11, 2020)

Bank of England warns of sharpest annual contraction since 1706    For the year as a whole, the economy is expected to contract by 14%. 

This would be the biggest annual decline on record, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) data dating back to 1949.   It would also be the sharpest annual contraction since 1706, according to reconstructed Bank of England data stretching back to the 18th Century.    By Szu Ping Chan, Business reporter, BBC News, 7 May, 2020    (https://www.bbc.com/news/business-52566030 (5/7)

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 Factories in US Close for Good as Coronavirus Cuts Demand    Some manufacturers that furloughed employees during lockdowns say plants won’t reopen

Factory furloughs across the U.S. are becoming permanent closings, a sign of the heavy damage the coronavirus pandemic and shutdowns are exerting on the industrial economy.   (Wall Street Journal, 5/11/2020)

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U.S. levels of hunger and unemployment are soaring
Nearly one in five young children in the U.S. are going hungry. 

That’s according to a new survey of households by the Brookings Institution, which found that 17.4 percent of children were not eating enough.   The level is three times as high as in 2008, during the Great Recession.

Disruptions in school meal programs during the pandemic may be part of the problem, the lead researcher said, with some families unable to reach distribution sites and older siblings at home competing for limited food.   As hunger rises, Democrats in Washington are seeking to raise food stamp benefits for the duration of the economic crisis, but Republicans have balked at a long-term expansion of the program.

April’s labor report, due Friday, is expected to show that U.S. payrolls fell by 22 million, according to economists surveyed by MarketWatch.   The worst monthly loss on record was nearly two million jobs in September 1945. (NY Times, 7 May 2020)

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Covid-19 is our punishment, but we need to work with doctors to fight the pandemic, says Zulu king
9 May 2020, by Zimasa Matiwane,  TimesLive

Zulu King Zwelithini also believes Africa had strayed from God and earned his wrath and if the people of Africa “went back to God, I am certain he will protect us.”   “We must admit that we angered Jehovah, that is why he is punishing us, he is humbling us.   This tells me God wants us as a nation, he wants his time with us as a nation. It’s a time where God wanted us to prepare, in connecting with him, not just to meet at churches, he wanted a one-on-one with us,” the monarch explained. King Goodwill Zwelithini addressed his subjects via Zoom on Saturday about Covid-19.

(https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2020-05-09-covid-19-is-our-punishment-but-we-need-to-work-with-doctors-to-fight-the-pandemic-says-zulu-king/)

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PROTEST AGAINST BORDER CLOSURE

Over the weekend, hundreds of French and Luxembourgian citizens have protested the ongoing closure of German borders.   On March 16, the German government unilaterally reinstated strict border controls.   Since then, German police have prevented more than 100,000 citizens of several neighboring countries from entering Germany.   Berlin’s measures have been causing considerable hardships also for French and Luxembourgian citizens, working in German factories and hospitals.   They are also being regularly exposed to harassment by German border police and to a resurgence of old anti-French chauvinism in Germany.   French commuters are increasingly being treated as “second-class EU citizens,” notes a French senator.

The former EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had warned that “Germany will cause permanent damage with the way it is treating some of its neighbors.” 

Germany’s crisis policy is also provoking protests in Southern and Eastern Europe.   (German Foreign Policy, 5/11)

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MEMORIES OF WORLD WAR II

Union Jacks lowered, replaced with swastikas.   This was the British government’s worst nightmare in the early years of the second world war.   And in June 1940 it became reality in the Channel Islands, the only British territory to come under Nazi control.   Today they celebrate their 75th annual “Liberation Day” since the German surrender.   The islands just off France’s northern coast endured almost five years of Nazi rule; food shortages inspired Guernsey’s famous “potato-peel pie.”   With a media blackout in place, local journalists set up an underground news service.  Jersey’s residents daubed swastikas on the houses of anyone considered too cosy with the invaders.   But the islands were not exactly a hotbed of anti-Nazi resistance.   Just two local politicians spoke out against anti-Semitic orders.   Jews were registered and their businesses liquidated.   Most were deported.   Three died in Auschwitz.   Indeed the islands’ experience weakens post-war claims that Britain would have resisted Nazi occupation more strongly than other European states. (The Economist, 5/9/2020)

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MODERN FRANCE

A few months ago, a police officer, Noam Anouar, who infiltrated Islamist circles . . . stated that no-go zones in France are now foreign enclaves on French territory.   “The gangs operating there,” he wrote, “have formed a parallel economy based on drug trafficking. They consider themselves at war with France and with Western civilization.   They act in cooperation with Islamist organizations, and define acts of predation and rampage as raids against infidels.”   He noted that reclaiming these areas today would be complicated, costly, and involve calling in the army.

For years, successive French governments have chosen a policy of “willful blindness”:   they simply behave as if they do not see what is going on.   They do not even try to find solutions.   (Guy Milliere, Gatestone, 5/10/2020)

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72 Knesset Members back Netanyahu to form next government
Once approved by Rivlin, Likud leader has two weeks to form a government; move comes hours after Knesset passes amendment to Basic Law that allows for Netanyahu and Gantz to share premiership as part of recently signed coalition deal
(Associated Press, 7 May 2020, Ynet)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formally received the support of a majority of lawmakers to lead a new government on Thursday, paving the way for a controversial power-sharing deal with rival-turned-partner Benny Gantz.   Likud and Blue & White said that “representatives of the two parties submitted to President Reuven Rivlin the 72 signatures of Knesset members recommending Benjamin Netanyahu for the task of assembling an emergency national unity government.”

Once approved by Rivlin, Netanyahu will have two weeks to form a government.   Of the 72 MKs who supported Netanyahu, 36 were members of Likud, 16 came from Blue & White, two were from Derech Eretz party, two from Labor, nine from Shas and seven from United Torah Judaism.   Lawmakers from Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party did not add their support to back Netanyahu and was unclear whether they would join the new government, which is set to be sworn in on Wednesday of next week.
(https://www.ynetnews.com/article/ry57ljWq8)

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CBS CHEATS

During a pandemic, the media can play an invaluable role in providing accurate reporting so that people may take action based on the best available information.

Scare tactics not only gravely undermine that sacred duty but give credence to the dangerously wrong belief that the coronavirus (COVID-19) presents no real threat.

For a second time, that lesson appears lost on CBS News.  Weeks ago, the network aired footage of a chaotic scene at an Italian hospital while alleging the video came from New York City.

Project Veritas has now learned that a CBS News crew filming in Grand Rapids, Michigan wasn’t satisfied with the orderly COVID-19 testing scene at Cherry Medical Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Getting their desired footage involved taking medical professionals away from their duties and getting them in cars to give the illusion that the line of patients was longer.   (Townhall)

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GREATEST DANGER TO CATHOLIC CHURCH

Life Site News reported on May 4:   “Dr. Robert Moynihan, the editor-in-chief of the Catholic journal Inside the Vatican, revealed on April 23 that he once had a conversation with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (who later became Pope Benedict XVI) about the ‘greatest danger to the Church,’ and he recounts that Ratzinger said:   ‘It is Freemasonry . . . Bishop Schneider states that Freemasons were crucial in the promotion of abortion, same-sex ‘marriage,’ and euthanasia in France . . .

“Then-Cardinal Ratzinger was already in the 1980s so concerned about the nature and work of Freemasonry that he worked out a statement for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, whose Prefect he then was, which repeated the Church’s long-standing ban on Freemasonry.   That is to say, he re-stated that Catholics may not be members of Freemasonry.   On November 26, 1983, Ratzinger signed a document that stated, ‘Therefore the Church’s negative judgment in regard to Masonic association remains unchanged since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and therefore membership in them remains forbidden.   The faithful who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.’”

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POST-CORONA CHURCHES

Stephen Bullivant, whose book Mass Exodus studied Catholic attrition in Britain and America, offers three reasons why he believes churches will shrink after the pandemic.

First, he says, churchgoers (both lay and clergy) tend to be elderly and therefore more likely to die of coronavirus.   Second, many churches rely on a steady influx of immigrants.   With the world in lockdown, that supply has, at least temporarily, dried up.   Third, churchgoing is a habit, and once that habit is broken, it is hard to take it up again.  (“Risen Again,” Luke Coppen, The Spectator (UK), 4/11/2020)

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TO THE POINT

  • Deadly attacks on funeral and hospital in Afghanistan — A suicide bomber has attacked the funeral of a police commander in Afghanistan, killing at least 24 people and injuring 68. In a separate attack, gunmen disguised as police stormed a hospital in the Afghan capital Kabul, killing 16 people, including two newborn babies, at a maternity clinic run by the humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders.  (The Week, 5/18/2020)
  • The Trump administration ordered that an American federal pension fund, the Thrift Savings Plan, with around $600bn under management, stop investing in all Chinese companies.  The White House says they pose national-security threats and might become subject to sanctions.   There is a growing clamor among Republicans to devise punitive measures against China, which they accuse of covering-up facts about covid-19.   (The Economist, 5/13/2020)
  • The number of confirmed cases of covid-19 surged past 4m globally, with more than 282,000 deaths.   America, with a third of the world’s fatalities, is by far the worst-hit country.   Yet even governments that appeared to have tamed the disease warned of its re-emergence.   South Korea reported 35 new cases on Monday—its biggest increase in a month.   A new cluster of infections in Shulan, in north-eastern China, forced the city into complete lockdown.   And Germany’s infection rate accelerated. (The Economist, 5/11/2020)
  • Boris Johnson, Britain’s prime minister, announced plans to relax England’s lockdown, encouraging people who cannot work from home to return to their jobs and permitting more outdoor activities from Wednesday.   Shops and some schools may reopen in June.   Mr. Johnson’s new “stay alert” slogan was criticized by some for being confusing.   Harsher restrictions will remain in Scotland and Wales. (The Economist, 5/11/2020)
  • “The American media is using the virus crisis in order to attack Trump, but the Greek people will not tolerate such craven opportunism and dishonesty.   Criticism of the government is almost non-existent, as the suddenly wise populace is united against the unseen menace.”  (Taki, The Spectator, 4/11/2020).

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AFTERTHOUGHT

As if the coronavirus isn’t bad enough, debt could be the determining factor as regards the future of the US in particular and the West in general.

I got to thinking about this during the week when Nancy Pelosi proposed giving every household in the US $6,000.   That’s a total of $3 trillion.   To be added to a national debt of $23.3.   What’s an extra $3 trillion between friends?

Isn’t anybody frightened of debt anymore?  I know I avoid it like the plague (the coronavirus!).

Romans 13:8 tells us to “Owe no one anything.”

If you are in debt, you are not in the best position to weather whatever storms may come your way as a result of the virus (unemployment, reduced hours and wages, rising food prices, to name just three).

Why did you get into debt in the first place?

Let’s be honest here – greed is normally the answer.   We want.   We want things we can’t afford, but we believe the ads that tell us “you owe it to yourself.”

Or we want a bigger home (why?), or a second car (why?) or new furniture (again, why?).

Matthew 6:31-33:   So don’t worry about these things, saying, “What will we eat?  What will we drink?  What will we wear?”  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Stay out of debt.   If you’re in debt, get out of it ASAP.   You will be able to cope with the new reality, the “new normal,” a lot better if you’re not in debt.

MR     

A GROWING SENSE OF CRISIS

(MGN Image)

There’s a growing sense of crisis all over the world.

The immediate cause is the coronavirus, which gets worse every day.   Worse, by the numbers.   Daily, there are more deaths, more people have it and the virus is spreading, covering a wider area.

Conspiracy theories abound.   In the US, some people are saying that the virus is being spread to undermine Trump and give the Democrats victory in November.   How does that explain it’s a bigger problem in Italy, in the UK, China and elsewhere, countries with no election this year, or any other year, in the case of China.

Nations are reacting to what promises to be a major game changer in the global economy.   Tourism has ground to a halt, flights are empty, delivery of goods suffering major delays, employees are dying, and there’s no end in sight.

In the UK, Rishi Sunak, Britain’s new Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister) delivered a very professional budget speech that was over an hour long.  He’s the first Indian to be appointed to the second highest political office in the land, the first Hindu (sworn into office with a Hindu holy book) and at only 39, one of the youngest chancellors in history.  His budget was the first one since Britain left the EU, the first in almost 50 years that Britain has been totally independent.  The budget was scheduled weeks ago, before the virus, but it gave the government the opportunity to tackle it from the financial perspective.  It’s going to cost billions of pounds (dollars or euros), increasing deficits and threatening the international exchange rate of currencies.  The stimulus package promised this morning  in Britain is thirty billion  pounds ($39 billion).

It’s unpredictable – but it’s very real.  It will affect President Trump’s chance of reelection, but it’s not a deliberate attempt to thwart his success.   The medical crisis will inevitably affect the economy, which may affect the election, though its doubtful anybody else could manage the crisis better.   In the UK it is estimated that, at the peak of the crisis, one fifth of all workers will have to stay home.

The virus started in Wuhan, China.   We may never know exactly what caused it, but pigs, bats and pangolins seem the most likely candidates.  But there is also a government laboratory in Wuhan.  The suspicion is also that it might have been a biological warfare experiment gone wrong.

MR       

Putin forever  — Russian president Vladimir Putin is backing sweeping constitutional changes that would allow him to stay at the helm of the country until 2036.  (Financial Times)   If approved, the reforms would give Putin the option to serve another two terms and cement an unbroken run of 24 years as president and 36 years in power.   A “people’s vote” referendum is due next month.   The New York Times notes that 36 years is longer “than Stalin but still short of Peter the Great, who reigned for 43 years.”   (Financial Times Brussels Briefing, 3/10/2020)

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WHY GAS IS CHEAP

For three years, Russia and Saudi Arabia, the world’s two largest oil exporters, had a deal to prop up global crude prices by limiting production.   They calculated that by producing fewer barrels, rising prices would make each barrel worth more.

Over the weekend, that deal collapsed when Russia backed out, allegedly because it decided that higher prices were also providing an unexpectedly large boost for the US oil industry, which has expanded its market share by increasing production by nearly 50 percent since the Russia-Saudi (formally, Russia-OPEC) deal began in late 2016.   A lot of that increase has come from US shale oil.

Saudi Arabia, eager to show Russia that its market power is not to be ignored, slashed the price at which it sells its own oil, and moved to sharply boost production.   The expected flood of new Saudi supply dropped global oil prices by more than 30 percent on Monday, the biggest overnight drop in almost three decades.   Stock markets, already wobbly thanks to coronavirus, took a dive.

Now Moscow and Riyadh appear locked in a price war – a crude game of chicken that could last for weeks or even months.   Oil markets are reeling because this conflict comes just as the coronavirus clobbers demand for oil as factories close, and as international shipping and air travel slow dramatically.   More supply + less demand = price collapse.     (Signal, the Gzero Newsletter, 3/10/2020)

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The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries publishes its latest oil report today, amid turmoil.   OPEC and its allies met on March 5th and 6th to discuss production cuts to boost the oil price. Russia refused a deal, stunning the market.   Saudi Arabia then said it would ramp up production next month and lower its selling price.  On March 9th the price of Brent crude fell by 24%, its biggest one-day drop since 1991.   There is a chance that Russia and Saudi Arabia will compromise, but most analysts think the price war is more likely to continue, as they battle for market share and try to squeeze the shale companies that have made America the world’s biggest oil producer.   Saudi Arabia’s low production costs mean it can fight fiercely, but not without suffering.   The kingdom requires oil to top $80 a barrel to balance its budget.   This year’s average may be less than half that.  (The Economist, 3/10/2020)

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FRANCE SET TO BECOME MUSLIM

Domestically, the past fifty years of steady immigration from Islamic countries into France is “transforming the fabric of French society” from within.   Demographic and sociological surveys indicate that 10-15% of the French population is now of Muslim origin, including 20-30% of French citizens or residents under the age of 25.   Some integrate successfully, but many align with the most radical and militant expression of the religion.   Their rejection of France’s secular constitution is matched by resentment of the French military’s fight against global jihadism in Africa and the Middle East, seen as a “deliberate assault … on Islam.”

Whereas religious zeal is steadily increasing among French Muslims, Gurfinkiel said that “the classic national religion of France, Catholicism,” is declining, citing research found in The French Archipelago (L’archipel français) by French pollster, demographer and sociologist Jérôme Fourquet.   Traditional family and marriage are “unraveling among the native French,” while birthrates drop.  (“A very good chance of Islamists conquering France”, Marilyn Stern, MEF, 3/7.   Interview with Michel Gurfinkiel, of the Paris based Jean-Jacques Rousseau Institute.)

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The Western Armament Community (II)                                                              German-Foreign-Policy.com * (10 March 2020)

 Germany, the EU and the western powers altogether have increased their already dominant share of the booming global arms export, according to a report on international arms transfers published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) yesterday.   Germany is the fourth largest arms export nation. With a 26 percent share, the EU is well ahead of Russia (21 percent) and behind the USA (36 percent).   Two thirds of the world’s exports of heavy war machinery are attributed to arms manufacturers in North America and Europe (excluding Russia).   SIPRI’s list of recipient states is a clear indication of current and future hot spots. Six of the top ten global arms importers are located in the Arab world, particularly at the Persian Gulf.   One sixth of all arms exports are being delivered to western allies in the power struggle with China in East and Southeast Asia and in the Pacific realm – with German arms exports being an integral part.    (More…   https://www.german-foreign-policy.com/en/news/detail/8213/)

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USA and France dramatically increase major arms exports;             Saudi Arabia is largest arms importer, says SIPRI

 (Stockholm, 9 March 2020) — International transfers of major arms during the five-year period 2015–19 increased by 5.5 per cent compared with 2010–14.   According to new data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the largest exporters of arms during the past five years were the United States, Russia, France, Germany and China. The new data shows that the flow of arms to the Middle East has increased, with Saudi Arabia clearly being the world’s largest importer.

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Significant increase in arms exports from the United States and France
Between 2010–14 and 2015–19, exports of major arms from the USA grew by 23 per cent, raising its share of total global arms exports to 36 per cent. In 2015–19 total US arms exports were 76 per cent higher than those of the second-largest arms exporter in the world, Russia. Major arms transferred from the USA went to a total of 96 countries.

‘Half of US arms exports in the past five years went to the Middle East, and half of those went to Saudi Arabia,’ says Pieter D. Wezeman, Senior Researcher at SIPRI.   ‘At the same time, demand for the USA’s advanced military aircraft increased, particularly in Europe, Australia, Japan and Taiwan.’

French arms exports reached their highest level for any five-year period since 1990 and accounted for 7.9 per cent of total global arms exports in 2015–19, a 72 per cent increase on 2010–14.  ‘The French arms industry has benefited from the demand for arms in Egypt, Qatar and India,’ says Diego Lopes Da Silva, SIPRI Researcher.

Other notable developments:

  • Germany’s arms exports were 17 per cent higher in 2015–19 than in 2010–14.
  • China was the fifth-largest arms exporter in 2015–19 and significantly increased the number of recipients of its major arms: from 40 in 2010–14 to 53 in 2015–19.
  • South Korea’s arms exports rose by 143 per cent between 2010–14 and 2015–19 and it entered the list of the top 10 largest exporters for the first time.
  • Israeli arms exports increased by 77 per cent between 2010–14 and 2015–19 to their highest-ever level.
  • West and Central European states had outstanding orders at the end of 2019 for imports of 380 new combat aircraft from the USA.
  • Egypt’s arms imports tripled between 2010–14 and 2015–19, making it the world’s third-largest arms importer.
  • Brazil’s arms imports in 2015–19 were the highest in South America, accounting for 31 per cent of the subregion’s arms imports, despite a 37 per cent decrease compared with 2010–14.
  • South Africa, the largest arms importer in sub-Saharan Africa in 2005–2009, imported almost no major arms in 2015–19.

(https://www.sipri.org/media/press-release/2020/usa-and-france-dramatically-increase-major-arms-exports-saudi-arabia-largest-arms-importer-says)

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Germany ‘should join in French nuclear deterrent’
The former Airbus executive Tom Enders urged Berlin to do the “unthinkable”
by Oliver Moody, Berlin, 6 March 2020, The Times (of London)

Germany has been urged to work with France on a joint nuclear deterrent amid doubts about President Trump’s readiness to stand by Europe in a military crisis.  Tom Enders, the former chief executive of Airbus, called on Berlin to overcome its taboo against atomic weapons and buy a stake in the French force de frappe (strike force), consisting of some 290 warheads.   President Macron recently offered EU leaders a “strategic dialogue” on the role of France’s nuclear arsenal.   The German response has so far been ambivalent.   The country is covered by the US “nuclear umbrella” through its membership of Nato.   It is an open secret that Germany hosts about 20 American warheads at the Büchel airbase, near the Belgian border.   The weapons are under the… [Paywall].
(https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/germany-should-join-in-french-nuclear-deterrent-g7vcz63rf)

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TO THE POINT

  • BIDEN BID – With primary wins in Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi and Idaho, Joe Biden took a commanding lead over Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination.   The two are even neck-and-neck in Washington, expected to go to Mr. Sanders.   Sights are already on Florida, the big prize next Tuesday, where Mr Biden leads in polls.   The race is his to lose.  (The Economist, 3/10/2020)
  • The Bank of England cut interest rates from 0.75% to 0.25% to cushion the economic blow from coronavirus.   It also announced a new scheme to provide cheap funding for banks that increase loans to small and medium-sized firms, and capital buffers were cut to ease credit conditions further.   The bank’s rate-cut follows cuts in America, Canada and Australia.  (The Economist, 3/10/2020)
  • The Democratic Republic of Congo, the biggest country in sub-Saharan Africa, confirmed its first case of covid-19.   Cases have also been recorded in South Africa, Nigeria and Senegal.   The World Health Organization has warned that the greatest concern is that the virus spreads “to countries with weaker health systems which are ill-prepared to deal with it”.    (The Economist, 3/10/2020)
  • I took one of my grandsons to see “The Call of the Wild” Monday night.   It’s the third or fourth version of the Jack London classic I’ve seen.  This one was the best.  It was good, family entertainment.  Try to see it before it leaves the big screen.
  • My wife and I have been watching “Beecham House”, a PBS series set in British India in 1795.   Although it has the usual anti-colonial stance, we found it very enjoyable.

I will write again a week from now – unless I succumb to the virus!

SUPER TUESDAY

States voting on Super TuesdayStates voting on Super Tuesday
ABC NEWS

California Triumph Keeps Sanders In The Running

Is Joe Biden the new Democratic frontrunner? It certainly seems that way, after the former vice president took a delegate lead over Bernie Sanders with a triumphant sweep of the southern Super Tuesday states, capped by a win in Texas.   Yet Sanders kept some of his momentum with victory in California, setting up what will likely be a long, drawn-out battle between the two wings of the party and their septuagenarian standard-bearers.

Elizabeth Warren – the Massachusetts Senator lost even her home state on Tuesday night, but remains in the race as of Wednesday morning – perhaps with a contested convention in mind.

Michael Bloomberg – the billionaire former New York mayor had planned to make a splash as he at last entered the race on Tuesday, on the back of a $500m ad spend. Instead he claimed just one small victory, in American Samoa.  (The Guardian, 3/4/2020)

Michael Bloomberg withdrew from the race later in the day.


TIME TO MOVE ON FROM OBAMA

He won them two presidential elections, but Democrats are increasingly ready to put President Barack Obama in their rear view, according to exit polls from the Super Tuesday slate of primaries, which showed a startling number of party faithful saying it’s time to move on.

Mr. Obama remains popular in the Deep South, where black voters play an outsized role in Democratic politics, but from Maine to Minnesota, voters said they are no longer thrilled with the man who brought them the first universal health care plan and flexed his executive pen to grant a deportation amnesty to “Dreamers,” to ink a deal with Iran and to commit the U.S. to curbing greenhouse gases.

Instead, the party’s heart now belongs to Sen. Bernard Sanders, the democratic socialist who won’t even call himself a Democrat but who has completely rewritten the party’s agenda.  (Washington Times, 3/4/2020)

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CORONAVIRUS – LESSONS FOR THE FUTURE

Fragile supply chains:    Decades of fine-tuning global manufacturing have given billions of people access to quality consumer goods at affordable prices.  That’s the upside of globalization.  But the same trend has concentrated production of important items in certain countries, creating new vulnerabilities.   For example, regions of China and broader Asia that produce most of the world’s smartphones have been forced to idle or cut manufacturing because of the outbreak.   The decline in Chinese factory activity has been so pronounced, it’s actually visible from space.   And US officials recently warned of drug shortages due to the shuttering of factories in China that make essential ingredients for some important medicines.

Fragile safety nets:    Well before the new virus emerged in China, an annual report by the World Health Organization warned that the chances of a global outbreak were rising and that the world was “not prepared for a fast-moving, virulent respiratory pathogen pandemic.”   It cited the usual problems – a lack of funding for public health monitoring and prevention, bureaucratic hurdles, and weak medical infrastructure, especially in poor and middle-income countries.   But it also warned of “a breakdown in public trust…exacerbated by misinformation that can hinder disease control communicated quickly and widely via social media.”   In the US, the safety net is further weakened by a lack of mandatory paid sick leave, which some people fear will compel sick people to show up at work, where they can infect colleagues and customers.   (Gzero World, 3/4/2020)

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RYANAIR BOSS CONDEMNS ‘HYSTERIA’ OVER CORONAVIRUS

The boss of Ryanair has condemned what he called “lunacy on social media” and “hysteria” in coverage of the coronavirus.

Speaking to Sky News, Michael O’Leary appealed for a calm and measured approach to the coronavirus outbreak and said “Let’s not have irrational panic measures.”  (The Week, 3/4/2020)

FlyBe became the first airline casualty of the virus, filing for bankruptcy on Wednesday.  FlyBe is a UK domestic airline.

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HOW THE EU RULES THE WORLD                                                                  The Brussels Effect:    How the European Union Rules the World

For many observers, the European Union is mired in a deep crisis. Between sluggish growth; political turmoil following a decade of austerity politics, Brexit, and the rise of Asian influence, the EU is seen as a declining power on the world stage.  Columbia Law professor Anu Bradford argues the opposite in her important new book The Brussels Effect:   the EU remains an influential superpower that shapes the world in its image.  By promulgating regulations that shape the international business environment, elevating standards worldwide, and leading to a notable Europeanization of many important aspects of global commerce, the EU has managed to shape policy in areas such as data privacy, consumer health and safety, environmental protection, antitrust, and online hate speech. And in contrast to how superpowers wield their global influence, the Brussels Effect – a phrase first coined by Bradford in 2012 – absolves the EU from playing a direct role in imposing standards, as market forces alone are often sufficient as multinational companies voluntarily extend the EU rule to govern their global operations.  The Brussels Effect shows how the EU has acquired such power, why multinational companies use EU standards as global standards, and why the EU’s role as the world’s regulator is likely to outlive its gradual economic decline, extending the EU’s influence long into the future.

(https://www.amazon.com/Brussels-Effect-European-Union-Rules-ebook/dp/B0822VCYFY)

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GERMAN ARMS SALES BOOM

Düsseldorf’s Rheinmetall arms manufacturer is enjoying a sumptuous upswing in sales for its arms sector and a record-breaking number of contracts.   Whereas the company’s automotive sector is marking a downswing in sales, in comparison to last year, due to 2019’s signs of weakness in the overall auto industry, the current boom in armaments is more than compensating.   The shareholders are “delighted,” boasts stock exchange reports.   At Rheinmetall, there is talk of a “‘super cycle’ in the company’s military sector.”   Western governments – the company’s current and potential customers – are engaged in a massive arms buildup. Whereas this year’s military budget for the Bundeswehr will be increased to €45.1 billion – nearly 40 percent more than it was in 2014 – the military budgets of the European countries together will be more than €300 billion.   The US military budget is more than US $700 billion.   Rheinmetall is benefiting also from the Arab countries’ arms buildups against Iran, but above all, from the buildup of the western world against Russia and China.    (German Foreign Policy, 3/3/2020)

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DRONES REVOLUTIONIZING WARFARE                                          Turkish Drones Revolutionize Warfare in Syria, Seth J. Frantzman (Jerusalem Post)

Footage of numerous Turkish drone strikes in Idlib reveal their groundbreaking and effective use against Syrian regime defenses and armored vehicle formations.   Turkey can’t fly its air force in Idlib due to an apparent ban by Russia and the Syrian regime.   But Turkish drones can fly.
  Video feeds show drones striking columns of infantry and armored vehicles near Idlib.
   Turkey’s widespread use of drones in Idlib may be one of the largest concentrations of drones ever used in this manner.   (Jerusalem Post, 3/3/2020)

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SDA’S AND ROME WORKING TOGETHER                                      Seventh-day Adventists, Roman Catholics and Evangelicals Sign a Historic ‘Ecumenical Charter’ that Affirms Faith in ‘One, Holy, Catholic Apostolic Church’

The document that was signed is a pledge of commitment to each other. Adventists pledged a commitment to Rome, and Rome reciprocated that commitment.   Make no mistake.   The churches that signed this document promised to uphold the principles of the Ecumenical Charter which includes affirming an allegiance to each other.

The Ecumenical Charter declares that the church is “one, holy, catholic and apostolic” and therefore the “inescapable ecumenical task consists in making visible this unity.”

The Ecumenical Charter declares that the churches are “called together in the unity of faith.”

The Ecumenical Charter calls for the “visible unity of the Church of Jesus Christ in the one faith and in witness and in common service.”

The Ecumenical Charter says that “the most important task of the Churches is to proclaim the Gospel together through word and action, for the salvation of all human beings.”  (AdventMessenger, 3/4/2020)

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TO THE POINT

  • America’s ​Federal Reserve lowered its benchmark interest rate by half a percentage point, the largest single cut since the financial crisis.   The move came after a pledge by finance ministers and central bankers from the G7, a group of the world’s biggest rich countries, to “use all appropriate policy tools” to combat the economic downturn caused by the spread of covid-19.   President Donald Trump recently repeated his complaint that Fed rates were too high.   (The Economist, 3/4/2020)
  • The World Bank pledged up to $12bn to help developing countries respond to the growing threat of covid-19.   The announcement came just after the World Health Organisation said the disease’s global mortality rate is 3.4%.   The World Bank’s aid will include a mix of grants, loans and other technical assistance, with priority given to the world’s poorest countries. (The Economist, 3/4/2020)
  • SUPPORT FOR ANTI-EU PARTIES ‘DOUBLES IN 20 YEARS’ – The vote share for anti-EU parties has more than doubled in two decades, according to research conducted by academic experts in populism.   The study found that since 1992, the first year in which there were free and fair elections in every country currently a member of the bloc, combined support for European far-right, far-left and other Eurosceptic parties has surged from 15% to almost 35%.   (The Week, 3/4/2020)
  • Lebanese Preacher:   The Muslims Will Kill The Jews, Who Will Hide Behind Rocks And Trees, The Jews Are The Most Cowardly Of Allah’s Creations; Jerusalem Friday Sermon: It Is The Religious Obligation Of Muslims To Bear Animosity Against The Jews  (MEMRI, 3/4/2020)
  • Indian migrants are driving a surge in citizenship as a record 211,723 people won the right to call Australia home in 2019.  (The Australian, 2/20/2020)
  • Last week, I reviewed the book “The Race to save the Romanovs.” In my review I mentioned that support for the restoration of the monarchy in Russia is at 28%.  That’s roughly the same percentage of votes any American president gets.   54.9% voted in 2016, which gave each candidate roughly 27%.  Bill Clinton was voted into office with a mere 22% of the vote.
  • With 36 seats, Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party will be the largest in Israel’s next Knesset.   Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White alliance won 32.   But with Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition still two seats shy of a majority, and his trial on charges of bribery and fraud due to begin on March 17th, his troubles are not over yet.   (The Economist, 3/4/2020)

 

CONSERVATIVES WIN LANDSLIDE IN UK

Johnson, pictured on the final day of campaigning, ran a campaign dominated by the promise to take the UK out of the EU (Reuters)

Once again, pollsters were wrong.   And once again, conservatives benefitted.

The vote was supposed to be close.   There was a lot of talk of a “hung” parliament, where there’s not enough seats to give any party a majority.   This would have been the worst outcome.   As it was, the Conservatives won, as they did in Australia earlier in the year; and in the 2016 US election when every prediction was that Hillary Clinton would be president.

It seems that people do not answer pollsters truthfully.   Perhaps it’s because people are embarrassed to say they are Conservative, but vote with their wallets on election day.   Margaret Thatcher won every time and that was the explanation.   Well, whatever the reason, Boris Johnson won a landslide, the biggest vote for the Conservatives since Mrs. Thatcher in the 80s.

My home town of Grimsby, in the North of England, returned a Conservative MP for the first time in my lifetime.   Others did the same.   Partly, this was disillusionment with the Labor Party (socialists), who have promised much over the years, but delivered little.   This time, according to analysis on Sky News, they promised 28 times as much as the Conservatives, an amount of money that would have been impossible to deliver.

But the main issue was Brexit.  The Conservatives had a definite plan to get out of the European Union by January 31st.   Labour’s plan was more negotiations with the EU, then a second referendum.   There was a referendum in 2016 and those wanting to leave won.   The experience of the last few years has been that many politicians refused to honor the referendum result.  None of them were returned in last week’s election.

It’s the same with Scotland.   A referendum there in 2014 showed the majority of Scots wanting to remain in the United Kingdom.   But Mrs. Nicola Sturgeon refuses to accept that result and wants a second referendum.   If successful, would she allow a third referendum seven years later when disillusionment with the reality of independence sets in?   Doubtful.   The Scottish people are subsidized by the English taxpayer to the tune of almost 2,000 pounds a year per person.   Independence must mean a drop in living standards.   Her hope is that Germany will help.   But Germany is going to have to bail out everybody in Europe now that Britain is leaving.

However, the issue of Scottish independence is not going away.  Boris Johnson has pledged to preserve the union, but even he is going to find that hard.

It’s not just Scotland, either.   Northern Ireland presents another problem.   For the first time ever, there are more Republican MPs from that region.   The Unionists lost out for the first time.   The Irish Republicans (who favor a united socialist Ireland) will be demanding independence at the same time as the Scots.   If either breaks away, British security will be compromised.   The UK’s nuclear base is in Clyde on the Scottish west coast.  There’s also a big military presence in Northern Ireland.

But Brexit is first.   Mr. Johnson has promised to deliver by the end of next month.   There is no impediment in his way.   There will follow eleven months of negotiations with the EU on a trade deal.   The Europeans say that is impossible, it will take at least two years.   With the election, power has shifted.   The Europeans will have to deliver a trade deal by the end of 2020 if they want to keep British trade, and they will want to.   The German car industry relies on Britain for 20% of its sales.   They are not going to throw that away for the sake of teaching Britain a lesson.

The election result should benefit the US, too.   Mr. Johnson has a personal friendship with Mr. Trump.   Both were born in New York City.   Both are known for their hair.   And both are against globalism, preferring to put their country first.

The trend against pollsters may prove the same in 2020, when Donald Trump faces who knows who for the Democrats.   In spite of impeachment (which isn’t going anywhere and seems solely to benefit hundreds of lawyers, all billing the taxpayer) and opinion polls that will show him losing to Elizabeth Buttagieg, or Bernie Biden, Donald Trump is most likely to win.   The longer the impeachment process continues, the more support he has.

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Could Scotland leave the UK . . . and stay in the EU?                                   by Philip Sim, BBC Scotland political reporter, “Would Scots vote for independence?”  18 Dec 2019

This is the big question – after all Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t just want to hold  a referendum, she wants to win one.

Polling data collected by What Scotland Thinks suggests an increase in support for independence – but it generally remains just short of a majority.   Excluding “don’t knows,” the average of polls this year has been 51% No to 49% Yes.   The average for 2018 was 55% to 45% – the same as the 2014 referendum.

Would an independent Scotland stay in the EU?   In practice, Scotland would not become independent the day after a Yes vote – there would have to be a period of transition.    In 2014, the pro-independence side said it would take 18 months to set up an independent Scottish state.   Even if a referendum was held tomorrow, the transition would therefore run beyond the end of 2020 – when the UK is due to complete its exit from the EU.   This means Scotland would leave the EU with the rest of the UK, and would need to apply to join again.

Scotland would have to jump through the same hoops as any state seeking to join the EU, although it would have the advantage of having recently been a member.

Sturgeon’s own party’s prospectus for independence suggests this could take several years, whereas she wants to rejoin the EU as quickly as possible.   The first minister also wants to avoid a hard border between Scotland and England.

(https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-50813510)

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TRUMP AND NATO

The Senate foreign relations committee has voted unanimously in favor of a bipartisan bill that would prevent Trump from unilaterally withdrawing the US from Nato.   The isolationist-inclined president is a noted sceptic of the transatlantic military alliance, and last week left the Nato summit in London early after the emergence of a hot mic video in which other world leaders appeared to be mocking him. The bill will now await a slot for a full vote in the Senate.   (The Guardian, 12/12)

The largest arms producers in the USA and Western Europe, including German companies, have further increased their already predominant share of global arms production, as can be seen in the analysis published yesterday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute SIPRI.   SIPRI analyzed the sales of the world’s Top 100 arms-producers and concluded that 83 percent of their output comes from 70 companies headquartered in countries of the self-proclaimed community of western values.   Whereas the combined sales of the Top 100 arms companies have increased by 4.6 percent, compared to the preceding year, those of the US and West European companies have increased by around 5.2 percent.

Currently the production of military hardware is also massively expanding in Germany.   The armaments division of the Düsseldorf-based Rheinmetall Group was able to boost its sales by 11.8 percent in the first nine months of this year.   The increase of defense budget is promising business in the billions.   German arms exports are also rising dramatically.   (German Foreign Policy, 12/11)

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A 5,000-Year-Old Plan to Erase Debts Is Now a Hot Topic in America                                                                                                                                  In ancient Babylon, a newly enthroned king would declare a jubilee, wiping out the population’s debts.  In modern America, a faint echo of that idea call it jubilee-lite, is catching on.  (Bloomberg, 10 Dec 2019)

Support for write-offs has been driven by Democratic presidential candidates.   Elizabeth Warren says she’d cancel most of the $1.6 trillion in U.S. student loans.   Bernie Sanders would go further -– erasing the whole lot, as well as $81 billion in medical debt.   But it’s coming from other directions too.   In October, one of the Trump administration’s senior student-loan officials resigned, calling for wholesale write-offs and describing the American way of paying for higher education as “nuts.’’    Real-estate firm Zillow cites medical and college liabilities as major hurdles for would-be renters and home buyers.

Moody’s Investors Service listed the headwinds from student debt -– less consumption and investment, more inequality — and said forgiveness would boost the economy like a tax cut.   While the current debate centers on college costs, long-run numbers show how debt has spread through the economy.   The U.S. relies on consumer spending for growth -– but it hasn’t been delivering significantly higher wages.   Household borrowing has filled the gap, with low interest rates making it affordable.   And that’s not unique to America.   Steadily growing debts of one kind or another are weighing on economies all over the world.

The idea that debt can grow faster than the ability to repay, until it unbalances a society, was well understood thousands of years ago, according to Michael Hudson, an economist and historian.   Last year Hudson published “And Forgive Them Their Debts,’’ a study of the ancient Near East where the tradition known as a “jubilee” — wiping the debt-slate clean — has its roots.   He describes how the practice spread through civilizations including Sumer and Babylon, and came to play an important role in the Bible and Jewish law.   Rulers weren’t motivated by charity, Hudson says.   They were being pragmatic — trying to make sure that citizens could meet their own needs and contribute to public projects, instead of just laboring to pay creditors.   And it worked, he says. “Societies that canceled the debts enjoyed stable growth for thousands of years.’’

Forgiveness was good for the economy, would be a modern way of putting it. In an October paper, Moody’s examined how that might apply if America writes off its student debts. (12/10/2019 (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/5-000-old-plan-erase-100000406.html)

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NIGERIAN MONKEYPOX IN ENGLAND                        

A rare viral infection known as monkeypox has been diagnosed in England.   The virus likely was contracted by a person in Nigeria.

Monkeypox could replace smallpox as a most dreaded disease.   The related smallpox virus was eradicated in 1980, thanks to Western technology.   (White people are often condemned for spreading smallpox, but seldom credited with destroying the virus worldwide.)

Open borders allow infected individuals from African nations to invade Western nations.  (Daily Kenn, 12/14/2019)

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A UNITED AFRICA

We Want A United States Of Africa — says Julius Malema
by SG Editor, 16 Dec 2019, iAfrica.com

JOHANNESBURG – Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema on Sunday spelled out the party’s ambitious vision to lead the entire African continent to economic freedom.   Speaking at the party’s second national people’s assembly in Nasrec, south of Johannesburg, Malema explained that it was only natural that economic freedom came from the south.  The gathering was expected to come to an end on Monday.

Governing South Africa may have appeared to be a tall order for the EFF, but this was just one dream that formed part of even bolder ambitions.   Malema wants the six-year-old organisation to have a presence everywhere on the continent.   “Our vision is not these small-minded things you’re thinking about; we want to lead Africa. We want a United States of Africa with one currency, economy, and judiciary,” Malema said.

The party’s vision appeared to be inspired by late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi who dreamt of a United States of Africa.   This plan could well be underway with formations from Liberia, Malawi, and Namibia who were among the guests attending the second people’s assembly in Nasrec.
(https://www.iafrica.com/we-want-a-united-states-of-africa-malema/)

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TO THE POINT

  • Authorities in Australia warned that a “mega-blaze” was threatening the north-western suburbs of Sydney.   Covering about 400,000 hectares, the bushfire has already destroyed over 20 homes and is moving into the Blue Mountains area, a popular tourist destination.   A heatwave is not helping; the Bureau of Meteorology advised that the record for the highest-ever temperature could be broken this week.  (The Economist, 12/17)
  • America’s defence secretary said he needs to speak with his Turkish counterpart about remarks made by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.   On Sunday Mr. Erdogan issued a new threat:   that it may shut down America’s Incirlik air base in eastern Anatolia.   A worsening chill between the two NATO allies has made America jittery about the nuclear warheads it stores there.   (The Economist, 12/17)
  • Chief Advisor To Turkish President Erdoğan:   ‘The Islamic World Should Prepare An Army For Palestine From Outside Palestine’ (MEMRI 12/2)
  • A special court in Pakistan has sentenced former military leader Pervez Musharraf to death on charges of treason and subversion of the constitution.   Mr. Musharraf seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999 and ruled until 2008.   The sentence was largely seen as symbolic, as the former leader is currently in exile in Dubai.   (The Economist, 12/17)
  • Protests in India, against a citizenship law designed to exclude Muslims from naturalisation, escalated in their fifth day.   In Delhi police clashed with protesters around a Muslim university; at least 100 were injured and buses were set on fire.   Other campuses around the country erupted in anger. In India’s north-east, where immigration is generally opposed, six people have been killed.   (The Economist, 12/16)
  • Chief Advisor To Turkish President Erdoğan:   ‘The Islamic World Should Prepare An Army For Palestine From Outside Palestine’ (MEMRI 12/2)
  • 65 of Britain’s MPs returned to the House of Commons last week are minorities.   That’s 10%.   Take away the 59 Scots, and the percentage will increase to almost 20%.   There were none a little over twenty years ago.  This reflects Britain’s changing demographics, the result of massive immigration from the underdeveloped world since World War II.
  • I watched the British election on Sky News, a British 24/7 news channel available on “Watch Free”, a US streaming service.   A day or two later, I was surprised to read that only 46, 000 people watched the election on Sky.  The news company spent a small fortune on John Bercow, controversial former Speaker of the House of Commons, a commentator for the evening, who seemed to spend most of his time justifying his performance as Speaker.

GERMANY BACKS BREAK-UP OF UNITED KINGDOM

BERLIN/LONDON/EDINBURGH – Berlin’s foreign policy is in support of Scottish nationalists, preparing to hold a second referendum to secede from the United Kingdom.   Last week, Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of the Scottish regional government and chairperson of the Scottish National Party (SNP), was received in the German capital for confidential talks with representatives of the German foreign policy establishment, including with Michael Roth (SPD), Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.   Officially, the meetings were focused on the Brexit, bitterly opposed by Sturgeon and the Scottish nationalists.   However, Sturgeon was, in fact, also pleading for support for her secessionist project and to bring Scotland, as an independent country into the EU.

About three years ago, German government representatives had already been in support of this plan.

However, a reliable Scottish majority, needed for this project, is nowhere in sight.

A Second Secession Referendum

Scotland’s regional government under First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is relentlessly pursuing its campaign for a second secession referendum.   Prior to the referendum on September 18, 2014, Scottish nationalists, including Sturgeon, had repeatedly that the population’s decision at the ballot box should be valid for one generation.   However, when a clear majority of 55.3 percent voted in favor of remaining in the UK, Sturgeon immediately declared that, by no means, would she content herself with that outcome, and would eventually seek a new vote.   The occasion presented itself with the Brexit referendum on June 23, 2016, when a majority of 51.9 percent in the UK voted to leave the EU, while a clear majority of 62 percent in Scotland voted to remain.   This discrepancy was an opportunity for Sturgeon – whose regional government has so far only rudimentarily implemented its election promises concerning the social and health sectors – to not only reiterate her idea of a second referendum, but to directly link the perspective of Scotland’s secession with that of remaining in the EU.

Inducement Applause

Representatives of Germany’s governing parties and ministries took this occasion to openly applaud the Scottish nationalists’ secessionist efforts and thus promote the disintegration of an officially allied country.   Already on June 26, 2016, Gunther Krichbaum (CDU), Chairman of the Bundestag’s Committee for the Affairs of the European Union declared that he expected that a new referendum on Scotland’s secession would be “successful” and that the country would remain within the EU.   (German Foreign Policy, 9/23)

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GERMANY SUPPORTS MORE INTERVENTIONS

The German government seeks to expand civilian-military interventions abroad, to obtain a more favorable position in the global struggle for spheres of influence.   To meet the challenge in the context of the “great-power rivalry between the United States, Russia and China,” the EU military missions must be combined with “civilian assistance,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) declared recently.   This “networked approach” should become “a hub” for EU-policy and lead to the creation of a “crisis prevention center” in Berlin.   The plan is particularly to train police officers and other “rule-of-law experts” to be deployed in countries, where “German interests” appear threatened by “outside influence.” “Legitimate partners,” such as the governments of Mali or Afghanistan or opposition forces, as in Syria, could be “strengthened,” explains the German Foreign Ministry.  (German Foreign Policy, 9/21)

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GERMANY LEADS MULTINATIONAL NAVAL EXERCISE

ROSTOCK/COPENHAGEN – Under German command, numerous NATO member countries and close allies are participating in a naval exercise – that ends on Thursday – for the control of Baltic maritime routes.

The Bundeswehr provides, by far, the largest contingent in this year’s “Northern Coasts” naval exercise (September 3 to 19), taking place in the context of the escalating conflict between western countries and Russia.   Due to this conflict, not only Eastern Europe, but the Baltic Sea, as well, has been gaining strategic importance. This is comparable to the Baltic Sea’s importance during the Cold War.   Germany is participating in NATO’s remilitarization of the Baltic Sea, seeking to assume a regional leadership role and enhance its standing within NATO.   The new Maritime Forces Staff, DEU MARFOR, based in the naval headquarters being set up in Rostock, also serves this purpose. In the future, it will be able to provide command for NATO, as well as EU wars.

Northern Coasts 2019

Around 3,000 troops from 18 nations are currently participating in the “Northern Coasts 2019” naval exercise lasting more than two weeks and extending from the straits connecting the Baltic Sea to the North Sea between the Danish and Swedish coasts up to the Bornholm island.   It, thus, includes the narrowest and shallowest sections of the Baltic Sea’s maritime routes.  It is already a challenge for larger ships to maneuver in the Baltic Sea.   In this environment, the multinational forces are training joint operations with 47 vessels, a submarine, seven aircraft and five helicopters.   With 1,300 troops, the Bundeswehr, alone, accounts for nearly half of the soldiers and thus the largest proportion of personnel in the exercise. German forces provide seven ships, the submarine and one of the seven aircraft.   In addition, mine clearance divers from the Naval Force Protection Battalion in Eckernförde are deployed and play a leading role in mine-warfare.   Ashore, German soldiers are active in the logistics command and provide specialists for electronic warfare operations.    This year, the multinational personnel and equipment are under the command of German Rear Admiral Stephan Haisch.(German Foreign Policy, 9/16)

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BANKING AFTER BREXIT

Brexit will reduce by one third the EU’s share of global capital markets and will shift relations within the EU in France’s favor, as was revealed in a recent study on the impact the UK’s departure will have on the Union’s financial sector.   Brexit will therefore reduce the EU’s share of global capital market activities to 14 percent – around one third the size of the US and roughly the same as China. France will become number one among the EU-27 – a bit ahead of Germany.   The shrinkage can also be attributed to the fact that the EU was unable to induce major banks and other financial institutions, on a large scale, to relocate from London onto the continent. Brussels has tried to use strict regulations, stipulating that financial transactions within the EU may only be conducted by legally independent entities within an EU country. However, the financial sector has limited its relocation onto the continent to only the bare essentials. The anticipated banking boom, for example, in Frankfurt, is not materializing.  (German Foreign Policy, 9/19)

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MIDEAST SLIDING INTO MAJOR WAR

The Middle East appears to be sliding into a war and it may even have already started. It is a new kind of war, a 21st century conflict for which there is no formal declaration of war, no clear fronts and a wide variety of battlefields.   There are attacks the provenance of which may never be known, and while some of the fighting is conventional in nature, much of it is not and involves drones in the air and viruses in cyberspace.

More than anything, it is a confusing war, in which nobody really has control, not even those who are ostensibly leading it .

(https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/usa-saudia-arabia-iran-a-new-conflict-in-the-middle-east-a-1287811.html)

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AMERICA WILL NEVER TOLERATE IRAN’S ANTI-SEMITIC HATE – TRUMP

At UN, Trump calls on Mideast nations to fully normalize ties with Israel.  Addressing world leaders, US president says sanctions against Iran will be tightened, not lifted, until it changes behavior and ends ‘fanatical quest’ for nukes.

Speaking before the United Nations General Assembly, the US president accused Tehran of trafficking in “monstrous anti-Semitism” and engaging in a “fanatical quest” to obtain nuclear weapons.   Trump said the rogue regime’s aggression had created newfound regional alliances to counter the Iranian threat. “Thankfully, there is a growing recognition in the wider Middle East that the countries of the region share common interest in battling extremism and unleashing economic opportunity,” Trump said.   “That is why it’s so important to have full normalized relations between Israel and its neighbors.”

In a highly anticipated address before the international community — as tensions with Iran intensified after it allegedly attacked two Saudi oil facilities — Trump insisted that he would maintain his “maximum pressure campaign” against Tehran.    . . . Iran, he said, was on a “fanatical quest for nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them.”   The world, Trump continued, “must never allow this to happen.”

. . . “For 40 years, the world has listened to Iran’s rulers as they lash out on everyone else for the problems they alone have created,” he said.   (https://www.timesofisrael.com/at-un-trump-calls-on-mideast-nations-to-fully-normalize-ties-with-)

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HOW HAMAS LEADERS FOOL PALESTINIANS

“Frustrated Palestinian youths are committing suicide because of poverty, while the sons of the leaders are holding birthday parties!” — Hussein Qatoush, on Facebook

The problem . . . is when your father is a senior terrorist leader who devotes himself to inciting against Israel and Jews and encouraging other young Palestinians to sacrifice their lives in the war against Israel.   Hamad, like the rest of the Hamas leaders, would never send his own son to attack soldiers at the border with Israel.

It is time for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to revolt against the leaders who are keeping them chained in poverty and sending them to their deaths.

It is also time for the international community to wake up to the fact that it is wealthy Hamas leaders, and not Israel, who are responsible for the humanitarian and economic disaster that is known as the Gaza Strip.   (Bassam Tawil, Gatestone, 9/25)

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THE GREAT WAR OF OUR TIME

“So how did our initial victory in Afghanistan – in only months – turn into the longest war in American history?   It happened because at some point our goal shifted from ensuring that al Qai’da would not again be able to use Afghanistan as a launching pad for attacks against the homeland to something else.   The mission changed to trying to permanently alter Afghan politics and society.   It was an impossible task to turn Afghanistan’s tribal society and culture into a liberal democracy.   It was an impossible task to convince the Taliban that it should operate inside the Afghan political system rather than outside of it.   Perhaps we should have walked away from Afghanistan after forcing al-Qa’ida from the country, and we would have told all Afghans, including the Taliban, ‘If you let al-Qa’ida return, so will we.”   (“The Great War of our time”, by Michael Morell, former Deputy CIA Director, 2015, page 74).

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TO THE POINT

  • If you’re tired of the usual entertainment provided by TV and even streaming, check out the continuing saga of Brexit, courtesy of Sky News (on “Watch Free” or on the web).  The parliamentary debates are entertaining, to say the least.
  • Surely, the investigation of Donald Trump over his Ukrainian call should be focused on Joe Biden.   His son is now being paid $50,000 a MONTH by a Ukrainian gas company in a job for which he’s not qualified.   When an investigation began looking into this by a Ukrainian prosecutor Biden brought pressure to bear to stop it, threatening an end to US aid.   Corruption, anyone?   (It’s even worse when you consider that the Democrats are supposed to be the party of the working man.)
  • Former French President Jacques Chirac died today.   He was the French leader who finally admitted French complicity in the Holocaust, that the French themselves put French Jews on trains taking them to concentration camps.
  • New South Wales has become the latest Australian state to liberalize abortion laws.   It doesn’t make any sense.   Australia needs more people.   Refugees and other immigrants threaten the Australian way of life.   Australians need to reproduce more.
  • Somebody has stolen the “Amigo” from our local Aldi.   An amigo is a self-driving vehicle with a shopping cart attached.   They can hardly drive it down the street.   What possible use can the thief have for this?   Meanwhile, customers with disabilities are struggling to get around as best they can.   Apparently, a replacement amigo costs about $2,000.

 

 

QUESTION TIME

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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LONDON KILLINGS

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

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

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

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FOUR MORE MONTHS = 40

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

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

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

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

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

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

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REPARATIONS FOR SLAVERY

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

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

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

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

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A WORLD WITHOUT THE US

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

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

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

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

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G20 SET TO DISCUSS TRADE

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

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A SIGN OF THE TIMES

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

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EU DIVISIONS OVER ARMAMENTS

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

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

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ANGELA MERKEL’S HEALTH

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

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

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

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

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

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SARCASM GETS POINT ACROSS ON TRUMP AND HITLER

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

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

Fortunately, I can’t hear it.

TRUMP’S VISIT TO ENGLAND

At long last, some good news!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONSTITUTIONAL CHALLENGES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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