Tag Archives: Emmanuel Macron

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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TRADE WAR AHEAD?

 

Brussels is preparing to retaliate against the US if Washington pushes ahead with far-reaching new sanctions on Russia that hit European companies.   The White House indicated on Sunday that President Donald Trump would accept legislation that would punish Russia for interfering in the 2016 election.   This is despite Mr. Trump questioning assertions about Moscow’s involvement for months — and as Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort were scheduled to appear before Senate committees this week  (FT, 7/24)

“The assessment is that the Bill responds primarily to the US domestic political situation and that its harmful consequences are probably unintentional yet serious,” says the note.  (Brussels Briefing, 7/24)

Brussels is examining all options in its arsenal to do battle with its supposed ally, as the US inches closer to ripping up friendships and partnerships with its unilateral action on Russia.  Anger has reverberated through the continent as the US looks poised to rubber stamp a deal on sanctions against their Cold War foe.

The EU and US look set to clash over the draft sanction laws, which target Russian energy, financial, railways, the shipping and mining sectors.

Republicans and Democrats thrashed out the deal over the weekend, and The House of Representatives will vote on the bill on Tuesday.   (Juncker “set to retaliate in days,” Daily Express, 7/24)

Honeymoon over Emmanuel Macron’s approval rating has fallen 10 percentage points to 54 per cent, the second-biggest decline for a French president so soon after election.   French voters were either confused by plans for the tax system, shocked by a dispute with the head of the army or unsettled by upcoming labour laws reform. (Bloomberg 7/24)

  • More than 60 Islamic leaders and imams — from France, Belgium, Britain, Tunisia, and of different Islamic faiths — in a move that may be unprecedented, are touring Europe to denounce Islamic terrorism and to pay homage to the victims of terror in Europe by visiting many of the sites of terror attacks.
  • The idea seems to have shaken extremists to the core.   They have been sending these imams death threats.
  • It is therefore high time, as mankind faces a crucial turning point, that people will pull together and support any voices of peace such as those of the marching imams, and restrain any hands that would try to sabotage their noble mission.   (“Hero Imams,” GT 7/24)

RANDOM THOUGHTS ON RECENT EVENTS

24-storey apartment building in London on fire

I stayed up late a week ago to watch the British election results, broadcast live on BBC World’s television channel.   It soon became clear that Theresa May’s ruling Conservatives were not doing well. Mrs. May had called an early election to strengthen her position prior to the start of Brexit talks with the European Union.   Her gamble failed – she now finds herself leading a party that does not control over 50% of parliament.   To stay in office, she has had to enter a coalition with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the pro-British faction from Northern Ireland.

This is already being misinterpreted by Sinn Fein, the anti-British, pro-republican faction from Northern Ireland; it could easily lead to further violence in the province.

There’s another threat to the coalition. Mrs. May also relies on the Scottish Conservatives, who did extremely well in the election, increasing their parliamentary representation from one to thirteen seats.  Their leader, Ruth Davidson, who is married to her female partner, is a fervent supporter of same-sex marriage; while the Northern Irish conservatives are socially very traditional.

It’s going to be interesting to see how this all works out.

At the very least, it has weakened the government at a crucial time, as negotiations begin on Monday, with the most efficient and uncompromising bureaucracy on the face of the earth – the European Union.

An additional threat comes from the opposition Labour Party.   A prominent voice in the party is calling for one million people to take to the streets to bring down Mrs. May.   Sound familiar?

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”  (Mark 3:25.)

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EUROPEAN LEADERS CHILDLESS

Talking of Europe, note the following, sent by a friend in New Zealand:

• Emmanuel Macron, the newly elected French president, has no             children.
•  German chancellor Angela Merkel has no children.
•  British prime minister Theresa May has no children.
•  Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni has no children.
•  Holland’s Mark Rutte, has no children.
•  Sweden’s Stefan Löfven, has no children.
•  Luxembourg’s Xavier Bettel, has no children.
•  Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon has no children.
•  Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, has        no children.

So a grossly disproportionate number of the people making decisions about Europe’s future have no direct personal stake in that future.

Additionally, in the last few days, the Irish Republic has a new prime minister.   He also has no children.  The press has been full of the fact that he is the youngest prime minister ever.   He is also half-Indian and gay, neither of which is an issue.   (Serbia’s new prime minister is also gay, as is Luxembourg’s PM.)

At the very least, all the above are thinking short-term, wanting to win the next election.   When Europe was dominated by kings, at the very least the leaders wanted to preserve their thrones for their descendants;  this also meant ensuring the continuation of the nation-state.   Both of these factors no longer apply.

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THE RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS

Talking of kings, King Henry II got a mention in the US Congress a week ago.   Henry died long before the United States ever existed as a nation – even before America was “discovered” by Christopher Columbus.   He reigned from 1154-1189.

Note the following from Vanity Fair:

“The James Comey hearing has officially gone medieval.   A little less than two hours into the former FBI director’s highly watched testimony, Comey dropped a reference to Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury who was killed at the casual request of King Henry II in the year 1170.   The reference popped up when Senator Angus King was questioning Comey, asking him about Donald Trump’s seemingly casual but firm request to have Comey drop the FBI’s Michael Flynn investigation.  Though Trump did not demand outright that Comey drop the investigation, even his slightest requests come with an air of seriousness, King suggested.

“Do you take that as a directive?” King asked Comey of Trump’s question.

“Yes, yes,” Comey replied.   “It rings in my ears as kind of ‘Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?’”

Henry II was a very significant monarch.   James Comey learned a lesson from his reign.   Today’s British people, who have experienced three terrorist attacks in less than three months, could learn something else.   Note the following:

“Henry II, who is considered the father of the common law, promulgated the Assize of Arms in 1181. This required all (male) British citizens between 15 and 40 to purchase and keep arms.   The type of arms required varied with wealth; the wealthiest had to provide themselves with full armor, sword, dagger, and war horse, while even the poorest citizens, “the whole community of freemen,” must have leather armor, helmet and a lance.   Twice a year all citizens were to be inspected by the king’s officials to insure that they possessed the necessary arms.   Conversely, the English made it quite clear that the king was to be expected to depend exclusively upon his armed freemen.   When rebellious barons forced John I to sign the Magna Carta in 1215, they inserted in its prohibitions a requirement that he “expel from the kingdom all foreign knights, crossbowmen, sergeants, and mercenaries, who have come with horses and weapons to the harm of the realm.” (Historical Basis of the Right to keep and bear arms, by David P. Hardy, 1982)

During the recent terror attacks in England, on each occasion, one armed citizen could have made a significant difference and saved lives.  Medieval monarchs were very concerned that the people should be able to defend themselves against the French; today, the threat is Islamic extremists, but the principle remains the same.

Also note, in the quote above, that Henry’s second son, John, one of the worst monarchs in English history, was required by the people to “expel from the kingdom all foreign knights, crossbowmen, sergeants and mercenaries, who have come with horses and weapons to the harm of the realm.”

No prizes for guessing who should be expelled today!

It should be noted that King Henry did not introduce the right to bear arms; he simply restored an ancient right that went back to at least the reign of Alfred the Great, in the 9th century.  The Vikings were one of the problems at that time.  The threat changes, but a threat is always there.

With this in mind, I found the following interesting while studying this morning:   “The story of David and Goliath is helpful since “five smooth stones” and a “sling” are the closest equivalent to a handgun we can find in the Bible.   David seems to have been armed with his sling at all times.   There was no way he could run home to get his sling when a lion or a bear was about to attack his flock.   (1 Sam. 17:31-37, 41-54)

It’s possible that Jesus had the Old Testament case law in mind when He offered this injunction to His disciples:   “But be sure of this, if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.”   (Matt 24:43) (“Jesus, Guns and Self-defence – what does the Bible say?”)

Christians should, of course, strive to live peaceably with all men. (Romans 12:18)   Jesus Christ said: “Blessed are the peacemakers.” (Matt 5:9)   He also told us to “turn the other cheek.”  (vs. 38-39)

With terrorism, we are dealing with a totally different mind-set from Jesus Christ, a religious belief system that encourages and celebrates killing en masse.   People have to be able to defend themselves. King Henry understood this.   Today’s leaders in countries like the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada need to address the issue, enabling people to defend themselves from acts of barbarism.   In contrast, Australia has just announced an amnesty calling on citizens to hand over illegal weapons.

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THE GREAT FIRE OF LONDON, 2017

The tragic apartment block fire in London dominated the news on Wednesday.   30 deaths have been confirmed, but scores of people are still missing.   There were also over sixty injured.   What started the fire is not known at this time, but a material used in construction appears to have helped the fire to quickly spread.   The Daily Express said Thursday that EU environmental directives could be the cause.

Most of the people in the apartment block seemed to have been from other countries in Africa and Asia.   Looking at the high-rise (24-storey) block of flats, as they are called in England, I wondered why people would leave their own countries to live in such an awful place.

My wife and I have spent many happy days in African villages.   I can truthfully say that I would rather live in one of those than in a high-rise apartment block in London, or any other major city.   Isaiah 5:8 warns against living too close to each other.   “Woe unto them that join house to house.”

What attracts people to move to the West varies for each individual. One of the established reasons in the UK is the generous welfare benefits.   Perhaps some of that money could be diverted to African villages to bring water and electricity to communities to improve their quality of life.   Together with the abolition of welfare for new arrivals, this would go some way to help solve the immigration crisis.

On BBC World this morning, interviews with survivors of the fire revealed a lot of understandable anger.   It’s also clear that many have an “entitlement mentality,” demanding that the government re-house them immediately, claiming that hotels are not good enough; they also dismissed Theresa May’s call for an independent inquiry – they want those responsible punished NOW.

Since writing the above, some residents and neighbors have stormed the local town hall, chanting their demands, blaming the fire on the Conservative government.   There was no logic – just a mob mentality. Scary and a sign of things to come. 


 

ISLAMIC EXTREMISTS

  • At the moment, the bar for taking extremists out of circulation is set ridiculously high.   People known for their own extremism that reaches pre-terrorist levels should not be walking the streets when they have expressed support for Islamic State (ISIS) or tried to head to Syria or called for the destruction of Britain and other democracies or allied themselves to people already in prison. Their demand for free speech or freedom of belief must never be elevated above the rights of citizens to live safely in their own towns and cities.   It is essential for parliament to lower the bar.
  • Is this to be the political landscape for the future, where groups of people demanding death and destruction are given the freedom of the streets whilst those wishing to hold a peaceful celebration are prevented from doing so?
  • To see extremist Islam as a “perversion” of Islam misses an important point.   The politically correct insistence that radical versions of Islam somehow pervert an essentially peaceful and tolerant faith forces policy-makers and legislators, church leaders, rabbis, interfaith workers and the public at large to leave to one side an important reality.   Flatly, Islam in its original and classic forms has everything to do with today’s radicals and the violence they commit.   The Qur’an is explicit in its hatred for pagans, Jews and Christians.   It calls for the fighting of holy war (jihad) to conquer the non-Muslim world, subdue it, and gradually bring it into the fold of Islam. Islam has been at war with Europe since the seventh century.

(“No tolerance for extremism, “ by Denis McMacEion, Gatestone Institute, 6/16).

 

GROWING ANGLO ISOLATION

President Trump announcing US withdrawal from Paris climate accord deal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SHIFTING ALLIANCES

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW EUROPEAN ORDER TAKING SHAPE

Getty

The French election on Sunday went as expected, with a victory for Emmanuel Macron, a centrist with no real political experience.

A few days before the election, his opponent, the very conservative Marine LePen, said that one week later France would have a female leader, either Ms. LePen or Germany’s Angela Merkel.   As if to prove the point, Mr. Macron’s first promise, to issue joint Eurobonds, was quickly over-ruled by Germany’s leader.   Germans are far more frugal than most other nations – the idea of issuing joint bonds with France is not going to come to fruition.

Macron is a very successful investment banker, with considerable personal wealth.   He is likely to be successful in moving France’s economy forward.   He will certainly be an improvement over his socialist predecessor who is leaving office with a 4% approval rating. But he is not likely to solve France’s immigration problem or the connected problem of domestic terrorism. In fact, he doesn’t even seem to see these two problems.

The movement that brought him to power (En Marche – “On the move”) is only now starting to form a political party, with only a few days before the elections for the French parliament.   It is quite conceivable that Ms. LePen’s National Front could dominate parliament and give M. Macron a hard time.   M. Macron hasn’t started yet, while Ms. LePen certainly isn’t finished.

Macron has also been speaking out against Brexit, describing it as a “crime.”   That shows little respect for British democracy.   A French lawyer is also trying to get Brexit cancelled on the grounds that the referendum was “illegal” – in effect, both men are saying that no matter how bad Europe is, you have to stay in it!   The EU’s dictatorial nature is becoming more and more apparent.

It is also increasingly clear that every nation in Europe has to bow to Berlin.   Note the following:

Macron to hold talks with Merkel in Berlin on first day of new job  Oliver Gee * oliver.gee@thelocal.com , 12 May 2017,  The Local

Emmanuel Macron will head to Berlin on Monday – the day after he is inaugurated as the new president of France – to hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The German leader had welcomed Macron’s win in France, saying he “carries the hopes of millions of French people and also many in Germany and across Europe.”

The 39-year-old had stressed his “common ground” with the German chancellor on economic reform, fiscal discipline and Europe’s future.   The former economy minister had also wanted to strengthen ties with Germany.   The symbolism of Macron meeting Merkel on his first full day as president won’t be lost on the far right Marine Le Pen who had criticized Macron for being pro-EU and said if he won then France will remain under Merkel’s rule.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Thursday underlined common ground with Macron in Germany and France’s bid to bolster the European Union, which has been buffeted by Britain’s decision to quit the bloc.

Schaeuble said both he and Macron are in favor of creating a parliament for the 19-country eurozone.   “A eurozone parliament could be set up, made up of European parliamentarians, which would have consultative powers” for moving forward the European Stability Mechanism (ESM),” Schaeuble said.  (https://www.thelocal.de/20170512/macron-to-meet-merkel-in-berlin-on-first-day-of-new-job)

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Germany’s growing ties to Turkey are highlighted below.   It brings back memories of the alliance between Germany and Turkey forged immediately prior to World War One.   Germany seems to be replacing the US as Turkey’s chief ally – a situation that will receive a further boost now that the US is supplying arms to the Kurds in the war against ISIS.   Turkey has its own problem with the Kurds and does not want them to receive arms.

Germany is negotiating new arms deals with Turkey                    German-Foreign-Policy.com newsletter , 11 May 2017

BERLIN / ANKARA (Own report) – The German government is negotiating new German-Turkish arms deals, as was confirmed by the German Ministry of Economics.   Brigitte Zypries (SPD), Minister of the Economy, spoke with the CEO of Rheinmetall weapons manufacturer about upgrading the Turkish Leopard battle tank.  “In principle,” such deals with NATO partners “can not to be restricted,” according to Berlin.   The German government is also seeking to re-invigorate German-Turkish economic cooperation, to strengthen bilateral relations.  Germany does not want to lose Turkey as a “bridge” connecting Germany and the EU to the Middle East.   Under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Ankara is not only strengthening the country’s economy and, in the long run, making it one of the world’s top ten economies (“Vision 2023”), he is also planning to transform the country into an independent regional power, forming alliances as it chooses – no longer dependent on the western states.

The reorientation of its foreign policy is accompanied by the country’s transformation into a presidential dictatorship.

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AUSTRIAN ELECTION LIKELY

Following the resignation of the OVP party leader from the governing coalition, another election in Austria is likely.   This time, the right wing People’s Party is doing well in the polls, which show they have more than 30% of the population behind them.   The party, like other right-wing parties in Europe, is against Islamization and the arrival of millions of Muslim immigrants.

With the French and Dutch elections, we saw that European countries are out of line with the US and Britain.

We also see the remaining 27 countries of the EU sticking together – it’s increasingly unlikely that any other nations will break away, especially as the EU seems determined to punish the UK for leaving the organization.

Thirdly, a clearer picture is emerging of Berlin’s role as the leader in Europe.

Europe now is a German led super power, with a greater economic role than the US and with the potential to play a much bigger military role.

 

 

 

 

I LOVE PARIS IN THE SPRING TIME

The second round of the French presidential election takes place on Sunday.   Polls (!) show that the centrist candidate, Emmanuel Macron, is leading with 62% of the vote.   Madame Marine LePen, of the National Front, is not doing so well.   Reports say that she is already looking to what is often called “the third round of the presidential election,” voting for the Legislative Assembly, in June.   She has the potential to lead the opposition to Macron, who has no party support.   A future crisis (financial or terrorism), could lead to a major upheaval that would be to her benefit.

Mrs. LePen’s support comes mainly from rural areas and France’s rust-belt; Mr. Macron has all but 5% of the vote in Paris and the more affluent regions of the country.

The French political system, with three elections in just a few weeks, is rather complicated and, certainly this time, quite suspenseful.   For the first time since the birth of the Fifth Republic in 1958, the major parties are not involved in this second round – their candidates did not garner the necessary support.

It’s not just the political system that is different in France. Mr. Macron, married to his former school-teacher, 25 years older than himself, laughed off an accusation that he has had a gay relationship with a prominent radio personality; but now is issuing frequent denials about an overseas bank account!

In a heated televised debate on Wednesday evening, Madame LePen made the best prediction of the evening.   She said that seven days from now, France will have a female leader – either her or Angela Merkel, Germany’s Chancellor.   Mr. Macron is a committed European, whereas she would like the French people to have a Brexit style referendum on the country’s future membership. Under pressure,   M. Macron is talking about the need for Europe wide reforms, but he would keep France in both the EU and the single currency, the euro.

A victory for Emmanuel Macron would mean the 27 remaining members of the EU will stand together against the United Kingdom in the Brexit negotiations.   A win for Mrs. LePen would actually help London, though no politician in the UK is going to say anything to that effect!

So Sunday’s second round is not just about France, but Europe.   We should know the outcome sometime Sunday evening, Eastern time.

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MORE MIGRANTS COMING

  • Turkey appears determined to flood Europe with migrants either way:  with Europe’s permission by means of visa-free travel, or without Europe’s permission, as retribution for failing to provide visa-free travel.
  • The migrants arriving in Italy are overwhelmingly economic migrants seeking a better life in Europe.   Only a very small number appear to be legitimate asylum seekers or refugees fleeing war zones.
  • The director of the UN office in Geneva, Michael Møller, has warned that Europe must prepare for the arrival of millions more migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.   (Gatestone Institute, 5/5/17).

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DIVORCE EUROPEAN STYLE

Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek finance minister who negotiated with the EU during the financial crisis a few years ago, is warning the United Kingdom NOT to negotiate with the bureaucratic nightmare known as the European Union.   In effect, Mr. Varoufakis was saying that nobody wins against the undemocratic EU.

Wolfgang Munchau, a German contributor to the London-based Financial Times, is also warning the Brits that they cannot win against Brussels.

The alternative for the UK is simply to leave and face the consequences, what is called a “hard Brexit.”   There are plenty of other countries wanting trade agreements with the UK, so there’s definitely a case for this.   But the British government is hoping for a trade deal with the EU post-Brexit.   They have also re-committed themselves to closer military ties, reaffirming their commitment to Europe.

A hard Brexit could be a better choice.   It would certainly be quicker as Brexit talks will last two years – and that time frame only covers the actual exit, not talks on a new trade pact.

It’s like a divorce – after over 40 years together, the UK and the EU are now talking to divorce lawyers about a divorce settlement.   As with a divorce, the only people who will benefit are the lawyers.   And, as any divorced people know, divorce never ends – the animosity (and the financial costs) just go on and on.

Footnote:   Mr. Varoufakis, who cannot vote in France, has called on people to support M. Macron, in spite of the way he and his country were treated by the EU!

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PRINCE PHILIP TO RETIRE AT 96

Britain’s Prince Philip is retiring after seventy years of public service.   His wife, Queen Elizabeth II, will continue with royal duties, but will no longer be accompanied by her husband.

Shortly after the announcement, the prince was at a function when an older man came up to him and expressed his sorrow that the prince was “standing down” from his responsibilities; the prince consort quipped back that his problem was not standing down, but rather standing up!

In his seventy years of public service, Prince Philip has attended over 25,000 public engagements and made over 600 overseas trips representing the United Kingdom.

He will end his official duties in August, by which time he will be 96 but will still take on a few as he feels up to it.. The Queen turned 91 two weeks ago. It is expected that Princes Charles, William and Harry will take on some of Philip’s commitments.

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INTERESTING QUOTE

( I cannot independently verify the following, but thought that some readers would find it interesting. It’s from a magazine called “Truth in History,” which comes out of Oklahoma.)

“…Bob travels to London quite often on business and from time to time has dinner with a very close friend of his, which is Queen Elizabeth’s personal secretary.   Bob told me that he asked his friend when the Queen was going to turn the throne over to Charles.   He replied, “she does not intend to ever give the scepter to Charles – possibly to William, but her desire is to present her crown, throne and scepter to the Lord Jesus Christ when He returns, whose rightful throne it is. This is her desire.”

Anyone who has read “The Servant Queen and the King She Serves,” published a little over a year ago, will know that the queen is a very religious woman.

“This tribute focuses on the Queen’s own words to draw out the central role of her trust in Jesus Christ in shaping her life and work, offering us an inspiring multi-faceted insight into a life well lived for others.” (Backcover, Google Books)

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DEATH OF OBAMACARE

I have mixed thoughts about the vote yesterday to abolish Obamacare.   The ACA went into effect on April 1st, 2014.   Before you marvel at my memory, I should add that I ended up in the hospital on April 2nd and spent over four months fighting for my life. I had one of those deadly infections that’s killing people all over the world.   I needed two major back surgeries and then fought nausea and vomiting while working my way through all the medications.   They gave up on me twice.

During this time period I was in two different hospitals. The bill from the second one was a million dollars; from the first, it was roughly half that.

Obamacare covered almost all my bills.

If it had not been in place, I would have died.   If I had gotten sick a month earlier, before it came into effect, I would have, likewise, died.

Having said that, I’ve also seen the negative side of Obamacare, of people having to spend a significant part of their income to get coverage, of a bureaucracy that has often failed beneficiaries, of a system that is too expensive to be maintained.

I do believe that the Republicans have made a mistake – they should have come up with another system first, before abolishing what the country already had.

I’ve been in the United States for 27 years, since 1990.   Health care (and how to pay for it) has been at the center of American politics during that time.   Whereas other, less affluent countries, have been able to put a workable system in place in months, the richest country in the world still cannot find a solution to the problem of healthcare.

Apparently, President Trump, who is in New York to meet with Australia’s Prime Minister Turnbull, made a favorable comment to the visiting prime minister about their country’s healthcare system. It’s a single payer system, so the president’s comment is of particular interest.

A possible solution lies in each state working out it’s own system,

But it’s embarrassing that, after decades of talking about it, Washington still has not come up with a sustainable medical system.   Perhaps America could start by looking at the medical systems in Australia, the UK and Canada, our next-door neighbor.   France, too, which the WHO claims has the best system in the world. You would think that one of our TV news programs would take a look at one or two of these other countries.

I might add that if a Conservative government in the UK, the closest equivalent to a Republican administration, abolished the medical system, they would not make it back into power for decades.   The same goes for the French, Canadian and Australian conservatives.

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FAVORITE SCRIPTURE

John Wycliffe (1320-84) was a major figure in what became the Protestant Reformation.

“John Wycliffe was an English scholastic philosopher, theologian, Biblical translator, reformer, and seminary professor at Oxford.   He was an influential dissident within the Roman Catholic priesthood during the 14th century.”  (Wikipedia)

His favorite scripture was Philippians 2:12 – “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”   This was heresy to the Roman Church, which dominated the country at the time. Later, the Church had Wycliffe condemned as a “heretic.”   It didn’t bother him – he was already dead and buried. But his bones were exhumed and burnt.

He did not just influence religion.   He also had a profound political effect.   Not long after the birth of the modern parliament in 1265, Wycliffe encouraged people to think for themselves, thereby encouraging democracy, an idea the church did not like at all.

The freedom to think for ourselves is seriously threatened today by universities that won’t allow conservative speakers to address students, citing security concerns.   This is unlikely to be a temporary phenomenon.

Sadly, few remember Wycliffe today.   When I visited Lincoln Cathedral in England some years ago, I asked after the man who served there for some years in the 14th century.   A senior member of the cathedral’s clergy had never heard of him!   I did find a very thin book on him in the bookstore, which I bought.

John Wycliffe (pronounced WICKCliff) is one of the greatest men in our common history, who made a big difference both religiously and politically.