Tag Archives: Donald Tusk

FREEDOM WORE A REDCOAT

It’s appropriate to start the fourth of July with a poster showing at the Museum of the American Revolution, in Philadelphia.

“Sometimes, freedom wore a redcoat,” is the slogan on the poster, showing a redcoat surrounded by African-Americans.

The exhibit highlights the fact that 15,000 African-Americans fought with the Loyalists; while only 5,000 fought for the Patriots.

Even the term “patriots” as against the “Americans” is a step forward in our understanding of the Revolutionary War; this was not a war between Americans and the British, but rather a civil war between two factions of Americans.

After more than 240 years, it’s healthy for Americans to realize this fact, and to appreciate that the war was not as simple as Hollywood (and books) have often made out.

After the conflict, many of the former slaves left for Canada and helped found Sierra Leone.

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LOVE AND HATE IN JAMESTOWN

Of course, the Revolutionary War was not the beginning of America.   There was 170 years of western civilization here before the struggle for independence.

It all began in Jamestown.

The first English settlement in North America began in 1607.  (There was an earlier settlement on Roanoke Island, but it was wiped out.)

Jamestown itself was almost wiped out.   It was a miracle that it survived.

I’ve been reading the book “Love and Hate In Jamestown,” by David A. Price, published in 2003.   On a number of occasions things were going so badly that the settlers wanted to return to England.  One young white man wrote his parents back home begging them to redeem him from indentured servitude, as he didn’t think he would survive the seven years he had to endure.

There is a promising series running on PBS right now titled “Jamestown.”   However, it should not be confused with the facts. The series is very good in conveying the difficulties and challenges of every day life,  but is a fictionalized account  of the English settlement.   However, the series is still one of the best currently showing on American television.

The TV series is in 1619-1620 right now, with the arrival of the first  women and the first African-Americans in 1619 under the governorship of Sir George Yeardley.   The same year saw the beginnings of democracy in the colonies, with the establishment of a parliament (the House of Burgesses).   A major fault of the TV series is that life in Jamestown is seen through the eyes of three women, at a time and in a place where women were few and far between, and irrelevant when it came to decision making. It’s revisionist history, for sure.   More for the 21st century audience than reality.

I am waiting for the uprising, which took place after Yeardley left.  On March 22nd, 1622, one quarter of the colony were slaughtered by the natives, a major turning point in relations between the settlers and the Native Americans.   This was a precursor of the long history of bad relations between the whites and the natives, which went on until the end of the nineteenth century.   The date, March 22nd, was long commemorated throughout Virginia, in remembrance of those who had died.

It’s hard to imagine the heartbreak of those early years.   Pocahontas died before she was due to leave England with her husband.   He had to leave their two-year-old son behind, as he was too fragile to make the Atlantic crossing.   Having lost his mother, he never saw his father again.   He was eventually raised by his uncle.

In his last chapter, Mr. Price, who lives in the Washington DC area, looks at the Pilgrims and the Mayflower.   Of interest was his account of the religious persecution of the Pilgrims.   He relates how the Puritans wanted a ban on sports and the theater on “the Sabbath” (Sunday).   “In 1618 King James overruled local Puritan magistrates who attempted to ban Sabbath day sports.   “When shall the common people have leave to exercise,” he demanded, “if not upon Sundays and holidays, seeing they must apply their labor, and win their living, in all working days.”

“On the scale of European religious repression, King James’s treatment of the Puritans was relatively mild.   At his behest, the bishops of the Church of England fired around ninety of the most conspicuous Puritan ministers from Anglican churches.   He banned the worship services of a breakaway group, dissenters within the dissenters, known as the Separatists.   On the other hand, his sponsorship of a new Bible translation, now known as the King James Bible, came at the suggestion of a prominent Puritan clergyman; several Puritans were also on the team of translators.

“In any event, a group of 125 Separatists left England for Amsterdam in 1608.”   (“Love and Hate In Jamestown,” David A. Price. pages 223-224, 2003.)

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PERVERSE THINKING

“Politicians are granting free healthcare to illegal immigrants, while fining Americans for not having health insurance.”   (“The state has become our nation’s real God,” by Gary DeMar, New American Vision)

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EU CHANGE OF LEADERS

It’s difficult to predict what’s going to happen in Europe right now.

The EU’s top officials are being replaced.   Not democratically, of course.   But their terms are up, so there’s going to be change.

Most significant so far are Ursula von der Leyen and Christine Lagarde.   They have won the top two posts.   Ursula von der Leyen had a mixed record as Germany’s Defense Minister.   Christine Lagarde was the head of the IMF.

CNN reported 7/3:    “Europe’s leaders have agreed to give two of the top four European Union jobs to women, but only after a marathon set of talks that exposed the continent’s simmering divisions.

“German defense minister Ursula Von Der Leyen emerged as nominee for president of the European Commission, and International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde, who is French, was put forward for the presidency of the European Central Bank.

“Von Der Leyen’s role must be confirmed by a vote in the European Parliament.    If elected, she would be the first woman to lead the European Commission.   Lagarde will be the first woman to head the bloc’s central bank.

“Outgoing European Council president Donald Tusk called the appointments “a perfect gender balance.”” (Bryony Jones)

 

 

 

 

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A SPECIAL PLACE IN HELL

Donald Tusk (AFP)

Donald Tusk is the President of the European Council.   He was voted in for a second term by the 27 countries of the EU, not by a popular vote of the people.

He serves until the end of 2019.

Earlier in the week, Mr. Tusk caused offense by saying that “there’s a special place in hell for those who support Brexit.”   Later, Guy Verhofstadt, special EU negotiator on Brexit, further elaborated with:   “Lucifer himself would not welcome Brexiteers, as they would divide hell.”

So, Brexit has brought religion to Europe, a continent that sorely needs it!

These insulting and, at the same time, amusing comments overlook a significant truth about Europe.   Religion is involved.   Let me elaborate.

COMING OUT OF A CULT

Leaving the EU increasingly resembles coming out of a cult.   Independent thinking is discouraged and blind obedience is expected.   Members are deceived about its history.   The finances are strictly controlled by the people at the top, who divert a significant amount of donations to take care of themselves.   After leaving, there will be a period of meaninglessness; and withdrawal symptoms will take some years to work through.

The EU Treaty allows people to leave, in exactly the way Britain has left.   So why are the British being treated this way?   Because if they are a success, others may want to leave as well and the cult would lose members as well as financial support.

It’s not just Juncker and Tusk who have benefitted from largesse. Others have, too, including some prominent British officials.  Veteran British socialists, Neil and Glynis Kinnock received millions of pounds when they were EU officials.   Others have gotten fat on the EU “gravy train,” as it’s often called.

HISTORICAL COMPARISON

After the Protestant Reformation in the early part of the sixteenth century, the Church of Rome was in a panic.   Rather than reform the corrupt practices of the church, it clamped down.   The “counter-reformation” led to an incredible persecution of non-Catholics.   Of great concern was the preservation of the influence and material wealth of the church.  

“(The counter-reformation) was the period of Catholic resurgence that was initiated in response to the Protestant Reformation.   It began with the Council of Trent (1545–1563) and ended with the 1781 Patent of Toleration.   Initiated to preserve the power, influence and material wealth enjoyed by the Catholic Church and to present a theological and material challenge to Reformation, the Counter-Reformation was a comprehensive effort . . . ” (Wikipedia: counter-reformation).

History is repeating itself.   As authoritarianism is very much a part of Europe’s DNA, so the EU is reacting to Brexit with its authoritarian instincts.

At stake are the inflated salaries of top EU officials.   Jean Claude Juncker, the President of the EU Commission, is paid over $31,000 a month.   In addition, he receives generous allowances to cover travel and other expenses.   So it’s very similar to the counter-reformation, with the desire “to protect the influence and wealth enjoyed by the church.”   We may see the Inquisition and the expulsion of Brits yet ahead.   (Hundreds of thousands of Protestants were expelled in the counter-reformation!)

This is the reason Britain turned its back on Europe in the first place, rejecting the authority of the Church of Rome.  In 1534 King Henry VIII declared himself Supreme Head of the Church of England, thereby rejecting papal authority.

England was effectively cut off from Europe.   One of the first decisions Henry made was to legalize the Bible, which had been suppressed for over a thousand years by Rome.

That same Bible tells us a little about Europe’s future.   After the upheaval that is taking place right now, there is to be a union of ten nations.   We know it’s still ahead as it remains there until the return of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 17:12-14 says:  “And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.  These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.  These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.”

Europe and religion are inseparable, then, now and in the future.

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EU – US Trade War

“As nearly 100m Americans watched Tom Brady, the veteran quarterback of the New England Patriots, lift another Super Bowl trophy last Sunday, many will have noticed that Mercedes-Benz was the sponsor of the gleaming new stadium in Atlanta where the game was played.

“The German carmaker, owned by Daimler, recently moved its US headquarters to the state of Georgia from New Jersey, cementing its commitment to the south-eastern United States, where it already owns a big manufacturing plant in Alabama.

“But even as the Mercedes-Benz logo flew high over the biggest American football match of the year, it and many other foreign carmakers operating in the US worry that their love for doing business stateside might be unrequited.

“The US commerce department is due to issue a report by February 17 declaring whether it believes automotive imports constitute a threat to US national security.   Such a finding would inflame an already tense trade relationship between the US and Europe.   After the conclusions are published, Donald Trump will have 90 days to decide whether to follow up by imposing tariffs on imports of cars and car parts.   That prospect has filled European policymakers in Brussels and beyond with dread.

“The EU has been adamant that it would react strongly to such a move, stopping budding trade negotiations with Washington and retaliating with its own tariffs on a list of US goods. ”  (James Politi, Financial Times, 2/8)

DOGS AND CATS AND SUPER-POWERS

Dog food, cleverly disguised as human food!

Today, I ate a can of dog food.

Not by informed choice, you understand.

As the house is now dog free, I did not expect to find a can of dog meat and certainly was not looking for one.   I was not wearing my glasses when I pulled it off the shelf at Kroger.   It looked like a promising can of soup, with the word “Organic” prominently displayed on the label.   The words “dog food” were in small print and not noticed until my daughter pulled it out of the trash.

It’s my own fault, really.

Our local Kroger grocery store has a “Reduced for quick sale” section, which I often check out for bargains.   That’s where I bought this half-price can.

Now, I may be barking up the wrong tree (sorry!), but I do feel that stores have a responsibility to separate human food from pet food, if only to discourage people from switching to the healthier, cheaper canine options.

This could lead to a serious shortage of dog food, forcing dog owners to feed their pets human food.   While this would be a boon to vets and would encourage entrepreneurs to open doggie weight loss centers on every block, it’s probably best not to blur the thin line that separates animals from humans.

I will continue to write, even though that dog food has made me a little queasy.   My youngest made the observation that my body is in shock from eating healthy food!!!

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Enough of dogs.  Cats have been a big part of my life recently.

After living in an animal free home for almost a year, our youngest daughter brought a cat into the house, thinking that our grandchildren would benefit from the new arrival.   A few weeks later, a second cat suddenly appeared.

The two do not get along.  Cat fights have been a nightly occurrence. So, in a couple of days, we will be taking the “new” cat to our eldest daughter’s home. This will cost over $100 in gas. I suggested it might be cheaper to send the cat by UPS or FedEx, but was over-ruled.

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To more serious matters, the Chinese Communist Party just held its “once-every-five-years” big congress.   Foreign observers would notice that, whenever the delegates had to vote, the vote was always unanimous, with nobody voting against Mr. Xi, the President of the People’s Republic.

I’m surprised that any foreign delegates were there.   Mr. Xi’s speech was 3 and a half hours long, “short” by Chinese standards.   Come to think of it, I would have voted “for” just to get the speech over with.

As few westerners were likely to have listened, it should be noted that President Xi wants to offer the world an alternative to American leadership.   The first Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party was Chairman Mao.   He is credited with unifying the country. His successor, Chairman Deng, turned the country’s back on socialism and made it the second biggest economy in the world, after the United States.  Now, President Xi vows to build on his predecessor’s accomplishments and make the country “stronger.”   History shows he’s likely to succeed – economic success leads to military success.

China isn’t the only power center that wants to offer the world an alternative to the US.   The EU is promising the same.   The EU is the world’s biggest single market. It is effectively the world’s biggest economy, but with 27 member countries it’s not ranked at the top, with each country listed separately.   That will change if Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk have their way. Immediately after Brexit takes place, they want to move full steam ahead with their plans to turn Europe into the world’s number one superpower.

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Russia was in the news today.

Exactly a century after the Russian Revolution overthrew the country’s monarchy, the last Czar, Nicholas II, was in the news again.

A new movie on “Niki’s” relationship with a popular ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet, is proving so controversial the lead actor decided not to attend the premiere of “Matilda” in St. Petersburg.   Cinemas have been attacked and at least one was burned to the ground.

The contention is due to the fact that the Russian Orthodox Church canonized Nicholas and his wife Alexandra after the end of the communist dictatorship.   Russian nationalists consider the movie “blasphemous.”

Clearly, only 26 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, the church and the monarchy both have a substantial following in post-communist Russia.

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Perhaps one reason for a revival of both Russian and Chinese nationalism is American democracy.   US divisions make democracy look really bad. Mass shootings like the recent one in Las Vegas don’t help, either.   Street interviews with the Chinese public during the Communist Party Congress showed that most people do not want to be like the West.   They feel that the US and other western democracies have too much freedom.

We seem to be living through a time that’s reminiscent of ancient Israel.   “There was no king in Israel in those days.   Every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

 

 

TODDLER ON THE BEACH

Turkish beach

The photograph of the three-year-old boy washed up on a Turkish beach has been seen across the world.   The picture is harrowing.  He could easily have been one of my grandchildren; like the policeman who carefully carried him from the beach, I wanted to pick him up and hold him.   This was no way to die.

His five-year-old brother also died, two in a party of eleven who all drowned while trying to get into Europe.   They were all from Syria.   It has been revealed tonight that the mother did not want to go on the journey.  It seems the family could have stayed behind in the Kurdish part of Syria, where they were quite secure.

The media is taking advantage of the death of the two boys to put pressure on western governments to take in more refugees.   Their thinking does not go very deep.

Incidents like this drowning are the result of illegal people-smuggling.  People smugglers charge as much as 3,000 euros ($3,450) per person to be taken a short distance into Europe, by boat, truck or train.   Hundreds or thousands have died when boats have sunk; dozens more have suffocated to death in trucks.   Governments have forced people off trains, insisting they follow international agreements that require them to register in the first country they enter.   They won’t because they want to get to Germany, the richest country, which emphasizes the blurring line between refugee and migrant.

Refugees, like the three-year-old toddler and his family, are fleeing war or persecution or both.   Migrants are moving to Western Europe in order to better themselves.   They could apply for a work visa like millions of their countrymen who have entered Europe legally.   But they are taking advantage of current chaos to get into what they consider paradise.

One report from Budapest this morning showed a train full of migrants.   They came from 67 different countries.   Only Syrians and, maybe, Iraqis and Libyans truly qualify as refugees at this time. Others are migrants.   They can and should be returned home.   They should not be allowed to become a burden on European tax-payers.

The Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, wrote an article on the migrant crisis that appeared in a German newspaper today.   He warned that the migrant crisis threatens Christian Europe.   Donald Tusk, the Polish President of the European Council, responded by saying that the first duty of all Christians is to help those in need, regardless of race or religion.

Both men are correct.

Surely, the solution is simple.

  1. Return all migrants, those seeking a better life in Europe.  The EU has a high unemployment rate and a number of countries haven’t got the money to provide free healthcare, free education and welfare to all those arriving.   They can be sent home, where they can apply for legal entry into their country of choice.
  1. Establish a temporary, guest worker program for all refugees, providing them with peace and security and an opportunity to work for up to five years.
  1. Change the citizenship laws.  That’s the real problem here.   The Hungarian prime minister is correct when he says Christian Europe is threatened, though, frankly, Europe has not shown much Christianity down through the centuries.   What he means by this is that ethnic Hungarians, Germans, French, etc., could easily be overwhelmed and their countries could be taken over by peoples of an alien culture and religion.
  1. Go after the people-smugglers.  They have no respect for human lives, not even the lives of 3- and 5-year-old little boys!   Life in prison is too good for them!  Deal with it.  Sink their boats.  Close the borders effectively.
  1. Put pressure on other Arab countries to take in Syrian refugees.   They will have a much better prospect of assimilation in a neighboring country than in Europe or America.
  1. Increase pressure on Syria’s President Assad who is largely responsible for this mess.   The US President should have followed through with his “red line” to remove Assad when he used chemical weapons on his own people.   US policy toward Syria has been totally ineffective.   It’s not all Obama’s fault – President Putin, another leader who does not care about people, supports Assad.
  1. Advertise on television.  Yes, that’s right.   Satellite TV is encouraging this massive migration of peoples – they see television programs from the West and want to move to a western country.   This is attracting migrants from all over.   Western governments would do well to show that their own countries are not the paradise many think.
  1. Abolish the generous welfare systems that attract migrants. Scenes from Hungary shows them resisting efforts to make them register in poorer Hungary, knowing this will stop them from being able to enter richer and more generous Germany.   Those trying to cross the Channel Tunnel know well that the UK’s benefits are more generous than France’s.

If these measures are applied, Europe can be saved and so can the people of Syria.