Tag Archives: Eastern Europe

EUROPE’S STATE OF THE UNION

Nigel Farage blasted Jean-Claude Juncker over his speech in speech in Strasbourg

Nigel Farage is no Winston Churchill.

But the man who led the Brexit campaign sees clearly the growing threat from the German dominated EU, just as Churchill warned of the growing threat from Hitler’s Germany.   Most British people remain clueless.   In fact, almost 50% of the electorate would gladly be subservient to Berlin, including former prime ministers, Tony Blair and John Major.

Earlier this week the President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, gave his State of the Union speech to the European parliament.   Amongst other things, he called for a strong European president with extensive powers, a strong finance minister with dictatorial powers over all 27-member nations, a stronger united military and a more aggressive foreign policy; all of this to begin immediately after Brexit is completed in March, 2019.

This, remember, is a man who is at the head of the world’s most powerful economic system.   It has a population roughly one and a half times that of the United States and a currency that is used by more people around the world than the US dollar.   While the dollar keeps falling in value, the euro is rising, now at $1.20.   This reflects growing confidence in the euro and declining confidence in the greenback.

Note the following from the London Daily Express:

“After listening to more than an hour of Jean-Claude Juncker’s self-agrandising State of the Union speech Farage’s laser-guided attack took just seconds to dismantle almost every plan, proposal and pontification made by the former Luxembourg politician turned European Commission President.

He called Jean-Claude Juncker’s plans to hugely expand the powers of the EU without a vote “extremely worrying” and shouted:   “Thank *** we’re leaving!  You’ve learned nothing from Brexit!”

“The former UKIP boss, and champion of Brexit, added that Juncker and his colleagues were appointing powerful unelected people in positions of huge power including “a finance minister who intervenes when he feels it necessary” and plans for “a European army with a more aggressive foreign policy.”

“And all this to be done without the consent of the people.”

“Mr. Farage was clearly appalled by Junker’s earlier claim that the EU could appoint pan-European ministers with unprecedented powers WITHOUT any form of electoral process.”   (“Nigel Farage TERRIFIED at Juncker’s plan for UNDEMOCRATIC EU”, Daily Express, 9/13/17).

Mr. Juncker’s speech does not mean that all is well in the Union, or that there is perfect harmony between member countries.   Some of the former communist countries of Eastern Europe are at odds with Brussels over a number of issues, including migration.

Note the following from Bloomberg Politics:

“European leaders are declaring the continent’s financial crisis to be over, but now a political one is fermenting.

“A battle between European Union regulators and the Polish government over its plans to weaken the judiciary’s independence is splitting eastern and western Europe……

“The government in Warsaw is at the sharp end of a campaign to rein in errant states.   Populist leaders in Poland and Hungary have been emboldened by Donald Trump’s U.S. presidency and Britain’s decision to quit the EU.  Yet the continent’s center has held together. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is now joined by French President Emmanuel Macron in an active defense of Europe against those centrifugal forces.   Opponents in the east face the prospect of being marginalized politically and even economically.  (“Europe’s Eastern Rebels expose next fault line for EU leaders”, Jonathan Stearns, Bloomberg, July 29th, 2017)”

Europe has come a long way since the European Coal and Steel Community was formed 66 years ago, in 1951.   Six years later, six countries signed the Treaty of Rome, which laid the foundation for the European Union.  Those six countries eventually became 28. Following Brexit they are now at 27.   A few more could leave over various issues.   Perhaps they will get down to the biblical number ten, forming the final union of ten European nations that will be a future superpower.   You can read about this revival of the Roman Empire in Revelation chapter 17.    66 years ago, only serious Bible students would have foreseen the EU becoming as powerful as it is.

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500 YEARS AFTER MARTIN LUTHER

  • Turkey controls 900 mosques in Germany and feels free to say that a “liberal mosque” in Germany is “incompatible” with Islam.
  • Can you imagine Germany offering Iraq, Syria and Egypt to build “200 new churches” to reconstruct the derelict and dispossessed Christian communities there?   No, because in the Middle East, Christians have been eradicated in a forced de-Christianization.
  • Christians in Germany will become a minority in the next 20 years, according to Die Welt.
  • We risk losing not only our churches, but more importantly, our cultural strength and even confidence in the values of our own civilization.

(Germany:  the rise of Islam,  Giulio Meotti , Gatestone Institute, September 12th, 2017.)

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“Why do millions of Muslims risk everything to reach a civilization they blame for all the world’s evils?” (Burak Bekdil, a Muslim, “What’s on the Mind of a Muslim refugee?” Middle East Forum, September 10th.)

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LONDON TERROR ATTACK

There was another terror attack on the London Underground (subway) this morning, during the rush hour.   It injured 22 people. There would have been many more casualties, including deaths, if the IED had exploded properly as intended.   The train had dozens of school children on board, likely the intended target.    (The Manchester Arena target in May was also children.)

Theresa May called an emergency Cabinet meeting following this morning’s attack.

It’s rather pointless.   No western leader will do anything about the immigration policies that have led to the current situation.  Even President Trump is backing away from the promises he made before the election.

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If You Live in Freedom, Thank the British Empire

Was the British Empire a good or bad thing for the world? To put it another way, is freedom a good or bad thing for the world? Historian and author H.W. Crocker III explains why we may want to rethink the British Empire’s bad rap.
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 US DEBT

Americans are starting to pile up more credit card debt than ever before.

According to a new study released Monday, U.S. consumers added $33 billion in credit card debt during the second quarter of 2017, making it the second-highest point of debt since the end of 2008.

Personal Finance website WalletHub.com — who conducted the study—projects that by the end of 2017, Americans will pile more than $60 billion in new credit card debt, which means overall the U.S. is headed towards well over $1 trillion in credit card debt.  (Fox Business News, 9/11)

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GOVERNMENT FOR THE PEOPLE

Margaret Thatcher defined socialism as “equal shares of misery for all,” the best definition I’ve ever read of the economic theory and subsequent reality.

The following is a more matter-of-fact explanation that I got when I googled “socialism,” looking for the exact definition.

“a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole;……

  • (in Marxist theory) a transitional social state between the overthrow of capitalism  and the realization of communism.”

Basically, what it’s saying is that government controls everything and it’s a stepping-stone to communism.  Keep in mind that Marxists believe that, when communism is achieved, everybody lives in paradise – although, of course, they don’t actually believe in paradise, heaven or any other nirvana.

The reality, of course, is that people actually live in hell.

The best example of communism today is North Korea, where everything is controlled by the government, even thoughts.

Another example is Cuba, where almost everything is controlled by the government.

China is not a very good example.  Not any more.  Whereas the government still controls every thought, the economy is more of a free for all.   So long as you keep your mouth shut, you can be a millionaire!

Until the latest British election, many people thought socialism was dead.   Mrs. Thatcher herself had rolled back socialism in the UK and helped the nations of Eastern Europe send the communists packing. But the latest election in the United Kingdom showed that socialism is alive and kicking – and may even be the next government.

Why the appeal?  Because when people feel the inequities of capitalism, they naturally favor the opposite, thinking everything will be put right by the firm hand of government.

Somebody once said that “conservatives believe in the exploitation of man by man; while socialists believe the exact opposite!” Think about it before moving on!

Venezuela has been in the news a great deal over the last few days. There, an incompetent socialist government has destroyed the nation’s economy.  An attempt was made by a member of the country’s military to overthrow the government.  The sight of the helicopter flying over the capital city of Caracas brought back memories of a similar situation in Ghana almost 40 years ago.

Ghana is a case study in the failings of socialism, well-meant but a disaster.

Ghana got its independence from Great Britain in 1957.  It was the first black African country to receive independence, first because it was the most promising, with the greatest number of highly educated citizens and the most money in the bank.   Within four years, it was bankrupt and a dictatorship.   Eventually, the military had to take over to save the country.

A second attempt was made at democracy, which also failed; the military then took over again.   Whereas the politicians were generally well educated, military men were not well-versed in running an economy.   Soon, there was a high rate of inflation and serious shortages.   These led to a coup on June 4th, 1979, a coup my wife and I experienced first-hand.

The helicopter flying overhead, filmed by somebody on a balcony, reminded me of how Diane watched a similar scene during Ghana’s coup.   In Ghana, the helicopter opened fire and she quickly went indoors.   At the time, I was trying to get back to the house using side roads to avoid the fighting.   At one point, I was held up at gunpoint by rebel soldiers who wanted to take my car.

The coup was successful.   A new government came to power led by Flight Lt. J.J. Rawlings, an avowed socialist who was enamored by the way things were done in Eastern Europe.   The people said the “J.J.” stood for “Junior Jesus.”

He immediately started setting things right, freezing the price of eggs at 8 cedis a dozen and controlling the price of beer, two priorities!   The problem was that farmers could not produce eggs to sell at that price as chicken feed was too expensive; with beer, there was a shortage of hops.   I thought that a national shortage of beer would lead to revolution fairly quickly, but I was wrong.   Ghana remains the only African nation I know of that did not experience civil unrest when the beer ran out!

Serious shortages became a major problem.   Supermarkets had next to nothing on their shelves.   Basic commodities could only be obtained through barter – I remember bartering shirts for gasoline and toilet paper for rice!

As the economy went into freefall, so the government was made more oppressive.   Foreigners were blamed for just about everything – in August, we were told to leave the country.

Elections had been scheduled before Rawlings took over.   Under pressure, he allowed them to go ahead and a new, still socialist, government came to power, led by a nice man who was also an alcoholic.   At least beer was now available!

Eventually, he was overthrown and J.J. was back, followed by even greater economic disaster.   It wasn’t until Rawlings started to reverse socialism and encourage free enterprise that things started to improve.

Government control of the economy = disaster.   Mrs. T got it right!

So why is socialism “in vogue” again?   The rising gap between rich and poor is one answer; another is the youth vote – most young people have no memory of when Europe was largely socialist.   As Winston Churchill once said:   “If you’re not a socialist at 20, you’ve got no heart; if you’re still a socialist at 30, you’ve got no head”.

In I Samuel 8 we read an account of how Israel wanted a human leader like all the other nations around them.   God warned the people that it would mean greater financial hardship, as government would constantly expand and the people would have to pay for it.  The warning was of 10% taxation.  Today, taxes run much higher.

10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who asked him for a king. 11 And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. 12 He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. 14 And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. 16 And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men,[a] and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. 18 And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day.”

Don’t just assume that this only applies to kings and kingdoms.   In the last century, new nations have come into existence, most of them with a president rather than a king.   It turns out the kings were cheaper.   Note the following from Ecclesiastes 10:16-17:

“Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child,
And your princes feast in the morning!
17 Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobles,
And your princes feast at the proper time—
For strength and not for drunkenness!”

Elected politicians think they have an automatic right to take everybody else’s money and spend it how they want.   Again, Margaret Thatcher put it well when she observed:  “the trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money!”

That’s exactly what Jeremy Corbyn of Britain’s Labour (socialist) party is promising the people – more taxes to help government expand.

That’s what Venezuela got with Hugo Chavez, the socialist president who presided over the collapse of the country’s economy.   His successor, Nicolas Maduro, has not been able to improve things.

The great lesson here is: there’s a lot of evils in capitalism, but don’t think government will make things better!

Just ask the Venezuelans….!

 

 

 

TEN YEARS AFTER 7/7

7:7 remembrance service

A Service of Remembrance was held in London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral today, to commemorate 7/7, England’s 9/11.   It came just eleven days after another terrorist attack in Tunisia claimed the lives of thirty British tourists.

Ten years ago exactly, 52 people were killed when four home grown Islamic terrorists blew up three subway trains and one bus.   Dozens more suffered life-changing injuries.

At times, the service was deeply moving.   In attendance were Prince Andrew, the Prime Minister David Cameron and his predecessor, Tony Blair, who was prime minister when the attacks took place, together with his wife, Cherie.   Family members of the deceased filled the great church, built in the late seventeenth century following the Great Fire of London.

London is, arguably, the most multicultural city in the world.   The deceased were drawn from different cultures and different religions.   The perpetrators of the atrocities were all Muslims, born in England, and all from fairly affluent backgrounds.   Their actions were not motivated by poverty or lack of opportunity.

The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, pointed out, that:  “the majority of the victims were young, they came from all over the UK and all over the world. There were Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and Humanists . . . London is an astonishing world in a city, but beyond the diversity… this was a terrible crime that robbed us of family and friends.”

He continued:  “Our London is a laboratory for testing whether it will be possible for the cosmopolitan civilization, which is becoming a global reality, to hold together.”

“We are in the midst of a debate about identity, including what it means to be British.   Some in the world are reacting to change by retreating into ever narrower definitions of their identity.   At the same time, merely invoking the universal concepts of tolerance and respect, with which we probably all agree, does not generate one iota of the energy required to transform lives and to build a community.   We cannot exorcise the Satanic by creating a spiritual vacuum.”

The Bishop’s comments were thought-provoking.   Some might disagree with some of what he said.

He talked of our “cosmopolitan civilization, which is becoming a global reality,” when, in truth, it really isn’t.   The suicide bombings that were being commemorated were the acts of second generation Muslims.  The countries their families came from are not cosmopolitan.   They do not allow westerners into their countries except on short-term contracts – they certainly cannot settle and become citizens no matter how long they stay.   Britain and other western nations allow immigration from the Middle East and grant citizenship, thereby encouraging a cosmopolitan society, which clearly has its challenges, when young citizens, far from appreciating the country their parents moved to, instead try to kill as many of their fellow citizens as possible.

He also talked of the “universal concepts of tolerance and respect.”   Sadly, these are not universal concepts.  They are concepts that developed over time in Protestant countries, when the proliferation of different sects necessitated learning to live peaceably alongside each other.   They are western concepts.   They do not even extend to Eastern Europe, let alone to China, Russia or even Japan.

The bishop’s remarks highlight the great gulf that exists between the West and the Rest.   Multiculturalism is largely one-sided, with people in the West having to bend over backwards to accommodate other cultures that have moved into their territory and are now demanding they get their own way.   And, when they don’t, they will blow other people up to make a point.

It’s not surprising that a BBC straw poll taken on Saturday, found that 95% of British people say that multiculturalism is not working.

Further, today’s British papers quote the ex-head of British Counter-terror as suggesting that it’s time for the British government to provide charter flights to Syria, encouraging homegrown jihadists to fly out and join ISIS, after surrendering their passports.   This is, finally, recognition that many Muslims in their midst will never show the tolerance and respect that living in Britain requires.

 

 

BRITAIN DISARMING, GERMANY REARMING: SOUND FAMILIAR?

David Cameron and Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister address a press conference in Berlin on 7 June 2012.  Photograph: Carsten Koall/AFP/Getty Images
David Cameron and Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister address a press conference in Berlin on 7 June 2012. Photograph: Carsten Koall/AFP/Getty Images

Two hundred years ago, on June 18th, 1815, the British won the war against Napoleon.

Or so you thought.   As is generally the case with Europe, it’s not quite that simple.

British troops were only 36% of the allied troops that gained the victory.  Take away the Irishmen fighting in the British army, and the percentage of British troops was well below a third of those on the victorious side.

Other troops that fought in this allied cause, all wanting to end Napoleon’s domination of Europe, came from Prussia (eastern Germany) and what are today Belgium and the Netherlands. The battle took place on Belgian soil.

This is not to diminish the British contribution.   One result of the battle was that the United Kingdom became a global superpower and was unrivaled in Europe for almost one hundred years.

But it’s a classic example of how British relations with Europe are never that simple.   Also, of how the Brits can misread Europe, seeing their country as far more important than it really is.

Which brings us to the promised referendum on British relations with the EU, to take place in 2017.

There are 28 countries in the European Union, with more on the sidelines wanting to join the club. Britain is the third biggest economy in the Union.   It is, right now, the most successful economy, attracting hundreds of thousands of people to its shores every year.  These are mostly from Europe and, it is thought, attracted primarily by Britain’s generous social support system.   People from Eastern Europe can work in the UK and receive benefits for their progeny back home in Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.   These benefits enable them to provide quite comfortably for their families, even if they earn a very small income in London or whatever other city they reside in.

British people get angry at this as they are the ones paying for it in their taxes.   But, as a member of the EU, the British government can do nothing about it.  The EU guarantees the free movement of people within member nations.

London wants to change this.  Most of the other members do not. The Polish leader made it clear to British Prime Minister David Cameron this is something he cannot change.  And that is correct. If the UK stays in Europe, it won’t change.  Mr. Cameron may hope it does, but it won’t – unless Germany is willing to change it, and that’s not likely.

Many (maybe most) British people are fed up with the EU, which they also heavily subsidize in other ways.  They want to withdraw from the organization and go back to the way they were 50 years ago.

What they don’t realize is that they cannot go back to the 1960’s, to the pre-EU days.

It’s not an option.

Prior to entering the European Common Market (as the EU was then called), Britain had an extensive system of trade with nations farther afield.   “Imperial preferences” left over from the days of the Empire, ensured close trade ties with the dominions of the Commonwealth: Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.   These trade agreements were torn up by Britain when they joined Europe. It is unlikely that they can restore them more than 40 years later.

At the same time, in the 60’s, the British still had close trade ties with all their former colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific, the ACP countries.  These gave Britain cheap food, while the British were able to sell manufactured products to these countries without the hindrance of tariffs.

After Britain joined the European Community, it was a matter of urgency to help these less developed nations. The Lome Convention was signed in 1975, taking effect in April 1976.   It gave preferential access to Europe for member countries’ food and mineral exports.   This treaty, agreed to in the capital of the former French colony of Togo, effectively embraced all former British, French and Dutch colonies.   As this agreement was to help less developed countries, it did not extend to the British dominions, who were on their own.

Effectively, Great Britain, thirty years after World War II, handed over its former Empire to the European Union, now dominated by Germany.  What a supreme irony of history!

There is no turning back.

This is not to say that Britain will be entirely on its own if it separates from the EU.   Norway and Switzerland are two European countries that are not members of the EU.  Both have a per capita income that is higher than the EU average.

But it won’t be easy for Britain, certainly not as easy as the anti-Europeans are making it out to be.

The Treaty of Rome, signed in 1957 by the original six members of the European Community, pledged member countries to form “an ever closer union.”   The EU today is very different from the old European Common Market. It is far more intrusive and controlling than it was at the beginning.   And it is already talking about greater cooperation, with an EU Army not too far ahead.

Bible prophecy shows that another superpower is set to arise, a European power that will be a revival of the Roman Empire.   You can read about this new power in Revelation chapters 13 and 17.   Note the following words from chapter 17:

12 “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast.  13 These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.  14 These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.” (Rev 17:12-14)   Clearly, this is not talking about the Roman Empire of two thousand years ago, as this superpower will be in existence when Christ returns.  The good news is that this “beast” power will not last long and will lead directly into the prophesied Kingdom of God.

Is Britain prepared for isolation, facing a German dominated European super-power on its doorstep, without any say in its composition and its purpose?

Interestingly, just four days ago, British defense chiefs warned that the country’s defenses had been so greatly diminished that the nation was now “feeble” on the world stage.   As Britain no longer has a deployable aircraft carrier, only one ship, HMS Ocean, is equipped to host US Marines and their MV 22 Osprey vertical take off aircraft, in the event of military action by Russia.   As Russia is rapidly increasing its military potential, warnings of a coming conflict between the West and Moscow are growing. The UK’s response is to go down the road of disarmament. The similarities with the 1930’s are quite blatant – Britain is once again disarming while Germany is rearming.

Berlin is spending an additional 8 billion euros (US 9 billion) on the new MEADS air defense system and the multi role combat ship 180.  3.9 billion euros ($4.37 billion) has also been set aside for four new battleships.

Germany is also working toward an EU Army, which will add to its military capacity.

Outside of the EU, Britain will have to fend for itself, something it seems ill-prepared for at this time.   Even a Conservative government is clearly more inclined to cut defense over higher health care costs, at a time of growing international tensions.

Individual Britons need to think carefully before the vote in the referendum.   There may be sound reasons to reject the EU, but there could also be serious consequences.   Britain’s relationship with Europe can be compared to a marriage.   It was certainly a mistake to marry in the first place, but divorce is not an easy option and needs to be considered carefully.

HISTORIC ELECTION IN UK

British elections

Growing up, I always knew exactly when World War 2 ended.   It ended on my mother’s birthday, the 8th May.   On that day in 1945, she turned 19.   She was 13 when the war in Europe began. Her teenage years were lost to war!

If she had not said anything, I would still have a rough idea of when the war was fought and when it ended.   During my childhood, I played with friends on bomb- sites.   It took England some years to rebuild.

World War 2 wasn’t the only conflict I heard about.   My grandfather (my father’s stepfather) had been wounded in World War I and would show us the bullet wounds in his lower arm and wrist.

At least we knew that England had won both wars and that we were now safe from the threat of German conquest.

Friday marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war in Europe.   It ended with Germany’s surrender.

Seventy years later, Britain’s relationship with Europe is once again center stage in the UK General Election taking place today, May 7th.

There is more choice in this election than there has ever been.   There is also more uncertainty – nobody is willing to stick their neck out and predict the outcome.

What is clear is that there will have to be another coalition government, as neither of the two main parties will have enough seats in parliament to form a government.   The two main party leaders will spend Friday and maybe a few more days (or even weeks) haggling, while trying to put together a majority to form the next government.   (British politicians take note – it’s just taken seven weeks for Benyamin Netanyahu to put together a coalition government!)

The uncertainty of a hung parliament is one problem with this election.   There are two others that have graver implications.

One is that the unity of the kingdom is at stake.   Although the majority of Scots rejected independence in a referendum just a few months ago, the pro-independence Scottish National Party may hold the balance of power in a coalition government, thereby boosting their cause.

The other monumental matter is a possible referendum on leaving the European Union.   The Conservatives have promised this for 2017, but UKIP (the United Kingdom Independence Party) wants it sooner.   If they enter a coalition with David Cameron’s Conservatives, the price they will demand will be a referendum by the end of the year.   This will make a “No” vote more likely as hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Eastern Europe keep arriving and every one of them can vote.   By 2017 their votes would likely result in “yes.”

If England votes to leave the EU and the majority of Scots don’t, there will be a major constitutional crisis.   It’s likely such a scenario will cause the United Kingdom to fall apart.   The end result would be an independent England surrounded by not-so-friendly powers, all a part of a German dominated European superpower.   How ironic just seventy years after Great Britain and its allies defeated the Third Reich!

So, it’s an above average interest election this year, with repercussions beyond the UK’s borders.