Tag Archives: EU

TRUMP’S EUROPEAN UPHEAVAL

Students of Bible prophecy have long speculated on the identities of the ten kings (or leaders) who come together to form a revived Roman Empire immediately prior to Christ’s Second Coming.

“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.   These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.   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.” (Revelation 17:12-14 NKJV)

There has often been speculation on what exactly will bring them all together.   Daniel 11:40-44 suggests it will be a threat from the Middle East.

Likely, nobody thought it would be the President of the United States!

He has been pushing the European members of NATO to increase their contributions to the defense of NATO.   It was agreed a few years ago that all would spend at least 2% of their GDP.   This is certainly the fairest way to finance the military alliance.   But it can be misleading.   The British and the Greeks have always spent more than 2% on defense.    Why the Greeks? – because of the very serious threat from neighboring Turkey, also a NATO member.   They are not spending more on the military to boost NATO.

Now, Mr. Trump is demanding everybody contribute 4% of their GDP.   This would more than double the military strength of the European members of NATO.   What if they later decided to leave NATO and go it alone?   They could equal America’s military power.

President Trump claimed that NATO is financed 90% by the US.   This is not true.   The highest figure I could find on the internet was 70.1 %, but usually it was a few points lower than that.

There are problems with what might be termed “NATO bashing.”

Firstly, NATO was formed in 1949 following World War II.   The idea was to keep the Russians out, the Germans down and the Americans in.   The United States, having learned after World War One that isolationism is not a good idea, wanted to make sure it had a permanent presence in Europe.   America may be the dominant member of NATO, but it is only one member in a 29-member alliance, arguably the most successful multinational alliance in history.

If NATO falls apart, Americans don’t just go home and carry on American business as usual.   An end to NATO will mean the US ceasing to be the world’s dominant power.   No longer could the president be labeled   as “the leader of the free world,” as the US would not be leading anything.

It should also be remembered that only once in NATO’s seventy-year history has the famous Clause 5 been invoked.   This is the clause that says an attack on one country is an attack on all.  The only occasion in which all the members came to the aid of one member under attack was on 9/11 when the US itself was under attack.   This clause is at the heart of the Washington Treaty, signed by President Truman seven decades ago.

President Trump’s two days in Brussels has had the effect of uniting the Europeans against Washington; and also will, in time ,boost Europe’s defenses.

He gave special attention to Germany, which only spends 1.24% of GDP on defense.   Overlooked is the fact that, in the past, nobody wanted Germany to spend more.   It has a history of aggressive militarism.   Does the West really want to rearm Germany?

UK VISIT

After leaving Brussels, Mr. Trump flew across the Channel to visit Prime Minister Theresa May, have tea with Queen Elizabeth and spend the weekend in Scotland.

As I write, I am watching Sky News.   It is showing the start of what is expected to be a large anti-Trump demonstration in London.   A twenty-foot balloon (costing over $20,000), showing a bloated Trump as a baby in diapers, is flying over London, approved by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, a Muslim of Pakistani origin.   Most demonstrators seem to be upset at US immigration policies and specifically at the separation of families at the border.   This policy has now been ended.   As European countries are finally doing something about illegal immigration, perhaps these demonstrators could turn their attention elsewhere!

It’s rather hypocritical for demonstrators to criticize Trump’s comments on Brexit, when he is not British; while they are condemning his immigration policies when they do not live in the US. The demonstration is not as big as expected – a Sky News poll this morning showed most British people in agreement with the US president on key issues.

It is certainly not in the UK’s interest to upset Mr. Trump at this point in time.

President Trump’s visit is colliding with a domestic crisis over Brexit.   A week ago today Mrs. May met with her Cabinet to discuss a united approach to negotiations with the EU.   Britain is set to leave the organization in March of next year, less than nine months away.

Although the majority of people in the UK voted to leave the EU, Mrs. May did not.   Her proposals would tie the United Kingdom to the European Union, even though it would not be a voting member, making it the worst of both worlds.   The Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, resigned along with some others.   Mr. Johnson said that the UK would become a “colony” under May’s proposals.   Mrs. May’s government could fall at any time, as she does not have a majority in parliament and this issue is the most contentious issue the country has faced for a long time.

Enter Mr. Trump.

In an interview in one of Britain’s trashiest newspapers (the Sun), Mr. Trump criticizes May for not following his advice in negotiations with the EU.   He even went so far as to say that his friend, Boris Johnson, would make a great prime minister!   Mr. Trump is also friends with Nigel Farage, who led the Brexit campaign.   The US president does not hide the fact that he supports Brexit, but interference in another country’s internal affairs is unprecedented and could backfire, with British voters turning against Brexit following the president’s comments.

But Trump’s visit could also be timely – if he offers London a generous trading agreement.

He has, however, made it clear that it will only be possible if the UK completely breaks away from the EU.

Are we seeing the continental countries grouping around Germany while the US and UK go their own way?   Again, long time Bible students have known this is part of the final global scenario.   It’s taking time to get there, but world events are moving in that direction.

Footnote:   Mrs. May has just spoken with President Trump beside her and announced that, after leaving the EU in March, the US and UK “will pursue an ambitious UK-US free trade agreement.”     They were speaking at Chequers, the prime minister’s country home.

On Thursday evening, the president was entertained at a black tie dinner at Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, at the request of the president.

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HISTORICAL NOTE

Monday, July 16th, marks the 100th anniversary of the assassinations of the Romanov family, Czar Nicholas II, his wife and children, plus their servants.

 

 

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DOES SINGAPORE SUMMIT MEAN PEACE IN OUR TIME?

President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sentosa Island, Tuesday, June 12, 2018, in Singapore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“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.   These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.   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)

For these ten nations to come together, there must be a major upheaval that transforms the nations of the world and their alliances.   President Trump may be the catalyst.

It’s difficult to know at this point what the outcome of the Singapore summit will be.   North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump seemed to get along fine and there is hope of an end to almost 70 years of conflict on the Korean peninsula.

“President Donald Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hearkens back to an era of high-risk summits where the outcome was not preordained.”   (“In the past, summits often redrew maps, changed world,” Gregory Korte, USA Today, 6/13)

“ . . . To Trump’s credit, we are surely at a better place than we were a year ago when Kim was testing hydrogen bombs and ICBMs, and he and Trump were trading threats and insults in what seemed the prelude to a new Korean War.

“Whatever one may think of his diplomacy, Trump has, for now, lifted the specter of nuclear war from the Korean peninsula and begun a negotiating process that could lead to tolerable coexistence.”   (“Trump’s Bold Historic Gamble,” Pat Buchanan, 6/15)

For a more critical view, note this paragraph from The Economist:   “In foreign policy, perhaps more than anywhere else, President Donald Trump is doing exactly what he said he would do:   he has pulled out of the Paris climate agreement and the Iran deal, moved America’s embassy in Israel and imposed tariffs on imports.  His supporters, and many business folk, are thrilled.  But though his wrecking-ball approach may bring short-term wins for America, it will cause long-term damage to the world.”  (6/9)

WILL THERE BE PEACE?

In 1938, before the word “summit” was used to describe meetings of world leaders (it was first used by Sir Winston Churchill over ten years later), the two most powerful men in the world met in Munich.   British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and Germany’s leader, Adolf Hitler, worked out a peace “deal” between them.   Mr. Chamberlain was able to return to England and proclaim  “Peace in our time.”   Less than a year later, the two nations were at war.  World War Il was to last six years.

80 years later, the Singapore summit has raised hopes of an end to the threat of nuclear war involving North Korea.   But whether this will mean peace remains to be seen.

“Here is where the crunch comes.   Kim is being told that he must give up the weapons whose very possession by him are the reason why the world powers are paying him heed.”   (PB)

Meanwhile, it is becoming clear that neither North Korea nor the United States are the biggest beneficiaries following the summit.  The nation that benefits the most is China, already the greatest power in the Far East.

A HUGE WIN FOR CHINA

“Kim Jong Un flew into Singapore on a Chinese plane for his summit with US President Donald Trump and left with a prized concession long sought by Beijing:   the suspension of US-South Korean war games.

Not only that, but Trump also teased the possibility of a complete withdrawal of American troops from the Korean Peninsula at some point in the near future.

“It’s a huge win for China,” Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at CSIS, told CNN.”   (CNN, 6/3)

SAVING MONEY

Mr. Trump clearly wants to reduce the number of US military personnel in South Korea, variously said to be 28,000-32,000.   At a press conference, he said the following:

“I want to get our soldiers out.   I want to bring our soldiers back home.   We have 32,000 soldiers in South Korea.   I would like to be able to bring them back home. . . .   We will stop the war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money.”

As said on CNN, this statement is exactly what China wants.  Under pressure from Beijing, North Korea will likely take a more peaceful course.   The country will likely open up to some foreign investment, mostly from China, although there is little prospect of an end to authoritarian, communist rule.   China itself has not made any progress in that area.

It may take some time for the world to see clearly that this summit was a big step forward for China and Chinese power in the Asia-Pacific region.   Perhaps mindful of the decline of the European powers in the region following World War II, China is enabling the US to decline gracefully in what is increasingly a Chinese sphere of influence.   Even the summit venue, Singapore, is ethnically Chinese. A friend of mine in the city-state reports an increased sighting of Chinese ships around the strategically important island.

On the day of the summit, the Singapore Straits Times reported:

PARIS (AFP) – “France is increasing its military presence in the Indo-Pacific region, sending warships through the South China Sea and planning air exercises to help counter China’s military build-up in disputed waters.

“In late May, the French assault ship Dixmude and a frigate sailed through the disputed Spratly Islands and around a group of reefs that China has turned into islets, to push back against Beijing’s claim to own most of the resource-rich South China Sea.”

Around the globe, the talk was of peace; but the summit was largely about money, as is so often the case with global power struggles.

Although the US economy is doing well, the country is heavily in debt (more about that later), while China has mountains of cash. Inevitably, the latter is going to overtake the former, at least in Asia, unless things change fast.

EU & NATO  CONCERNS

“Donald Trump’s America-first diplomacy has shaken the foundations of many global institutions and alliances, but its most damaging effects so far have been on the trans-Atlantic relationship. The community of North American and European nations forming the nucleus of the alliance that won the Cold War for the West is closer to breaking up now than any time since the 1940s.”   (“Why Trump clashes with Europe,” by Walter Russell Mead, WSJ, 6/12).

The summit of the G7 nations, meeting in Quebec just a few days ago, ended in disarray when the US president refused to sign the joint communiqué and walked out of the conference.   The future of the organization remains in doubt.   The G7 was sometimes referred to last week as the G6+1; at other times the G4, as only the European countries seemed to be in agreement.

By throwing out the suggestion that all tariffs be abolished, Mr. Trump was undermining the very foundations of the European Union.

Early in July, the US president will be attending the NATO summit in Brussels.   It should become clearer then if he feels any support for the European democracies.   If he doesn’t, Europe will be on its own.

GERMANY’S VIEW

The German news magazine Der Spiegel commented on the “G7 fiasco,” saying “it’s time to isolate Donald Trump:”

“The G-7 summit once again made it clear that U.S. President Donald Trump is intent on treating America’s allies worse than its enemies. Europe must draw the consequences and seek to isolate Trump on the international stage.”

“Germany’s foreign minister called for the European Union to become a more self-confident global actor, prepared to take counter-measures when the United States crosses “red lines” and able to respond to Russian threats and Chinese growth.

“In a Berlin speech, Heiko Maas gave the clearest sign yet that Germany no longer sees its 70-year-old alliance with the United States as unconditional, and threw his weight behind French proposals to make the EU shipshape for a more uncertain world.

“We need a balanced partnership with the US,” he told youth activists in a converted railway station, “where we as Europeans act as a conscious counterweight when the US oversteps red lines.”

“In remarks that drew a line under the post-war German doctrine of close alignment with the United States, Maas listed President Donald Trump’s Washington as a challenge for Europe, alongside more traditional rivals like Russia and China.

“Donald Trump’s egotistical politics of ‘America First’, Russia’s attacks on international law and state sovereignty, the expansion of gigantic China:   the world order we were used to – it no longer exists,” he said.

“The speech is the latest in a flurry of declarations by leading German politicians digesting the implications of the disarray following Trump’s abrupt departure last week from the Quebec G7 summit, long a pillar of the US-led Western global order.

“Earlier this week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, long known as among Germany’s most committed Atlanticists, effectively demoted the US relationship in a television interview by saying Germany’s second loyalty had to be the EU.

“The first loyalty goes to your own country,” she said.  “But the second should go to the EU.”   For Berlin’s elites, the EU and the transatlantic alliance were long regarded as equal pillars.”  (Euractiv with Reuters 6/14)

Once again, money has played a part in Mr. Trump’s anti-European rhetoric.   Although some European countries do spend more than the required 2% of their GNP on defense, some do not, including Germany.   Mr. Trump feels very strongly that this is wrong and needs to change.   The United States is deeply in debt.   In itself, this poses a grave threat to national security.   Other nations must devote more of their resources to defense.

Did both the Singapore and the Quebec summits have a lot to do with money?   Seemingly so.

ONE SUMMIT STILL TO GO

Here’s a final comment from a British conservative publication, linking all three summits (G7, Singapore and NATO):

“Donald Trump is feeling confident about world peace following his big summit in Singapore with Kim Jong Un.   But . . . western leaders are desperately worried.   Might the US President, inebriated on his own sense of destiny, be about to collapse Nato?   Theresa May is certainly worried:   she knows how hard the British government had to push Trump to officially endorse Nato.   But now, following the fallout over tariffs at last weekend’s G7 summit in Canada, Trump is not feeling well disposed towards the rest of the West.   Next month’s Nato Summit in Brussels will be a tense affair.”   (Spectator, UK, 6/14)

Seventy years after the formation of NATO, could the organization break up?   We will see next month.

TRADE WAR WITH ALLIES BEGINS

TRADE WAR WITH ALLIES BEGINS

At midnight Thursday night the US imposed tariffs on goods from Europe, Canada and Mexico.   The countries of the EU and Canada have been allies of the United States since World War II.

Verbal reaction was swift, with condemnation from Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and threats of retaliation from EU leaders.  The President of France declared them “illegal”.  The European response is:  Retaliate, don’t escalate!

It’s not just bad feeling that will result from the decision by President Trump to impose the tariffs.   The tariffs will lead to higher prices on imported goods, both in the US and the EU; unemployment will also increase, over all, though there may be short-term gains in this area.

Although nobody is left alive from the last trade war that afflicted the western world, many leaders are aware that trade conflicts were a contributory factor to World War II.

The trade war is also coming at a bad time, fresh on the heels of the US tearing up the nuclear deal with Iran.   The Europeans did not agree with the US and are continuing to honor the agreement.

There’s bad feeling all round.

After seventy years of the NATO alliance, member nations outside of the US increasingly feel they are not in an alliance with Washington; rather, they are being dictated to as America changes direction on a number of levels.

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Newsletter – Dispute Among Friends

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas ended his first official visit to Washington yesterday, without reaching a compromise in the transatlantic dispute over policy on Iran.   “We’re pursuing two completely different paths,” Maas declared following his talks with his counterpart Mike Pompeo and the National Security Advisor John Bolton.  The EU remains unified in their policy approach, which is diametrically opposed to that of the Trump administration. Berlin’s attempts to achieve an independent German-EU policy on Iran opposing Washington’s is particularly applauded by Germany’s strategists in the establishment’s foreign policy sectors. Recommendations of submission to the Trump administration’s threats to use force against Teheran, so as not to jeopardize German companies’ highly profitable business relations with the US, are coming from business circles.   Meanwhile, foreign policy experts recommend developing the euro into an alternative global reserve currency.   This could reduce the USA’s potential to apply pressure on Germany’s economy.   (German Foreign Policy, 5/24)

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BELGIUM ATTACKED AGAIN

On Tuesday, a terrorist attacked and killed two policewomen in the Belgian city of Liege.  One of the policewomen was a single mother with twin daughters, aged 13.   A passerby was also killed.   The attacker shouted “Alahu Akhbar” as he stabbed the women repeatedly, then seized one of their guns before shooting at others.

The incident itself was horrific.   But the reaction of the authorities and the media showed how little understanding there is in official circles of the reality of Islamic terrorism.   There was a great deal of speculation as to what “radicalized” the perpetrator of the crime. Was he “radicalized” in prison or on the internet, or what?

After centuries of Islamic conquest and ongoing conflict between Islam and the West, today’s western leaders remain out of touch with reality.   They believe that Islam is a peaceful religion and that only a very small minority of Muslims turn to violence.

What if they are wrong?

Before political correctness, Winston Churchill once said that: ”Islam is more dangerous in a man than rabies in a dog.”

He also observed that:  “A nation that forgets its past has no future.”

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IS IRELAND SET TO ABORT ITSELF?

Last week, Irish voters decided to legalize abortion, bringing Ireland into line with every other EU country except Poland and Malta, two very Catholic countries.

In the last few years, Ireland, also a Catholic country, has also embraced divorce and gay rights.  Its current prime minister is gay and of Indian descent, two radical departures for the Irish.

But, with a small population, Is it really in the country’s interest to make abortion readily available?

Ireland is simply following other European countries, nations with low birth rates due to abortion and other forms of birth control.

To fill the gap left by those missing babies, the nations of western Europe are importing people from other parts of the world, resulting in serious social problems and terror attacks.

Wouldn’t it be better to simply keep the ban on abortion?

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DEATH OF DEMOCRACY

What’s happening in Italy is yet further proof that the EU has a democracy problem.   An entire nation has gone to the polls, yet the vote has been overridden because it delivered the ‘wrong’ result. Europe’s leaders insist they know they must listen to voters, but don’t seem very keen to hear what is being said.  (Freddy Gray, The Spectator, 5/31)

 

 

TRADE WAR LOOMING

Consternation has been expressed this week that the US currently has no Ambassador to South Korea, at a time when war between the US and North Korea is a definite possibility.  Nothing has been said about the fact that the US has no Ambassador to the European Union, also at a very critical time.

On Sunday, in a British television interview, President Trump described the EU’s trading policies as “unfair” to the US and threatened increased tariffs on imports from the 27-member nation trading club.

The US president, Donald Trump, claimed in an interview with ITV broadcast on Sunday that the EU had been “very unfair” on American exporters, and that it would “morph into something very big” that would “turn out to be very much to [the EU’s] detriment.”

Washington is currently examining the case for protecting US economic interests on national security grounds, including the imposition of import tariffs on aluminum and steel.

Responding to Trump’s comments, a spokesman for the European commission told reporters in Brussels that the EU was ready to hit back if its importers were made to suffer.

The spokesman said:   “For us trade policy is not a zero sum game.  It is not about winners and losers.  We here in the European Union believe that trade can and should be win-win.

“We also believe that while trade has to be open and fair it also has to be rules-based.  The European Union stands ready to react swiftly and appropriately in case our exports are affected by any restrictive trade measures by the United States.”

(“Brussels prepared for trade war with US if it restricts EU imports,” Daniel Boffey, The Guardian, 29th January, 2018).

There is an assumption in the United States that America is the biggest trading power in the world and can dictate to others when it comes to trade.   This may not be the case.

“The adjusted GDP of the 28 EU member nations is bigger than both China and the US, the traditional list of world’s economic super powers.

“In nominal U.S. dollar terms, the European Union (plus Norway, Switzerland, Iceland) accounted for 25.4% of world output in 2014 according to data from the International Monetary Fund.  That was greater than America’s share (22.5%) and well in excess of China’s—13.4%,” said Quinlan.

(“Europe is bigger than the US”, Bob Bryan, Business Insider, 30th June, 2015).

These facts will have changed in the 2 ½ years since this was written. When the United Kingdom leaves the European Union next year, the figures will need to be further adjusted.   But the figures do convey that the US, the EU and China are each roughly on a par when it comes to the size of their economies.

What is not conveyed here is how powerful the European Union is through its trading agreements.   Whereas the US has twenty major trading partners, the EU has eighty.   These countries will all likely side with Brussels if a trade war worsens.

Nobody is likely to benefit from a trade war.   The latest tariffs the US imposed on Chinese washing machines, for example, will increase the cost of purchasing a washing machine in the US.   This will apply to thousands of products as tariffs are increased by all three economic powers.

There’s a lesson from history here.  The Smoot-Hawley Act, passed by Congress in 1930, raised tariffs on over 20,000 items imported from other countries.   One side effect was that US trade decreased by over 50% increasing unemployment.   This period became known as the Great Depression.

The first shots have been fired in a new trade war.   It’s not likely that the US will come out ahead here, certainly not in the long term.   Putting “America First” will mean the rest of the world coming together in a renewed commitment to globalization, leading to the new global economic system predicted in Revelation 18.

Note the following just after Angela Merkel’s speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos:

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted on Wednesday “protectionism is not the answer” to world problems, addressing the Davos economic summit before US President Donald Trump appears to defend his “America First” agenda.

“We think that shutting ourselves off, isolating ourselves, will not lead us into a good future.   Protectionism is not the answer,” Merkel said in a speech in the Swiss resort.

She spoke a day before the arrival of the US president whose aggressive trade policies have raised concern among defenders of globalization.

“Let us not shut off from others, let us keep pace with the best in the world and let us canvas for this multilateral approach,” Merkel said.”

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Headline in WIN (World Israel News)

German FM in Israel rejects US Jerusalem move, warns of European ‘frustration’ (1st February)

During a visit to Israel, German FM Sigmar Gabriel blasted those who oppose a Palestinian state, demanding a two-state approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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DARKEST HOUR

We went to see “Darkest Hour” recently.   Although not perfect, the movie is a fairly accurate attempt at showing what Winston Churchill was up against when he suddenly became Prime Minister in May, 1940.  Forgotten now is how close Britain came to being invaded by Hitler’s armies.   The future of the world depended on what was to follow – if the UK had fallen, other nations would have had to sue for peace on Hitler’s terms.   Those “other nations” included the United States, which was totally unprepared for war in 1940.

Britons like to say that they “stood alone” against Hitler.   Certainly, in Europe that was true.   But forgotten now is a simple fact:   at the time, Britain ruled a quarter of the world’s people.   All these nations fought with Britain.   Two and a half million Indians were in the British Army, plus hundreds of thousands of people from Africa and the Caribbean.   Additionally, the British dominions (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Southern Rhodesia) played a major role.

In the event of another threat to Britain, none of these countries will be likely to come to her aid.

Watching the movie, you can also see clearly the similarities with today.   Whereas, in 1940, Britain was faced with an enormous military threat from Germany, today it’s an economic threat – from the German dominated EU.   As the Brexit negotiations continue, the EU has the advantage, because the Brits are allowing them to.  There seems to be a lack of backbone in standing up to Brussels, Berlin and Paris.  The FT’s Philip Stephens today described the mess as “Britain’s nervous breakdown.”

Sadly, there is no Winston Churchill waiting in the wings!

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Note the following headline from the British Daily Express newspaper following an incident were young leftists stormed the Churchill café, screaming that Churchill was a racist.   Nigel Farage is the man who led the Brexit campaign.   Churchill was an Empire-loyalist, an unforgiveable sin in today’s Britain!

“Nigel Farage TEARS APART ‘pig-ignorant’ lefty gang who terrorized Churchill café.  NIGEL FARAGE aimed a furious tirade in the direction of a group of protesters who burst into a Winston Churchill-themed cafe in London while chanting Britain’s wartime leader was a “racist.”

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TRUMP’S AFRICA

You will remember that Donald Trump reportedly described African countries as “****hole countries.”

At least two countries on the Dark Continent are capitalizing on this.

Namibia is promoting tourism with posters proclaiming that “Namibia is Africa’s Number One ****hole country.”

Namibia is not the only country to take advantage of Trump’s words.

According to the Wall Street Journal yesterday, “A Facebook page run by a marketing group promoting tourism in Zambia – famed for the Zambezi River that feeds the spectacular Victoria Falls – includes a slogan welcoming visitors to “****hole Zambia.”   “Where beautiful vistas and breathtaking wildlife are our Trump card!” says an accompanying post.

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FOR FUN!

Some entertaining posts on FaceBook . . .

 

NEW GERMAN COALITION TO INCREASE MILITARY STRENGTH

Angela Merkel and Martin Schulz

Europe remains in a continual state of flux.   The UK is leaving the EU and facing an uncertain future.  The EU must punish Britain. It cannot afford to let the UK succeed outside of the Union, or others may follow her through the “exit” door.   Greece is finally coming out of years of serious economic troubles.   Eastern European nations are at variance with Germany over immigration.   Austria has a new conservative government that includes the right-wing Freedom Party.   Always remember, when looking at Europe, that the turmoil the continent is now going through will lead to the fulfillment of the following prophecy.

“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.  These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.” (Revelation 17:12-13)

GERMAN COALITION

It looks as if Mrs. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (supposedly a conservative party) is going to be able to form a coalition with the left-of-center Social Democrats, led by Martin Schulz.   This combination is referred to as a Grand Coalition, bringing two opposing parties together again.

“One downside to the grand coalition is that it leaves the right-wing nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD), which made a surprisingly strong showing in September’s polls, as the largest opposition party, giving it a number of advantages including public funding and leadership roles in some parliamentary committees.  The AfD, the closest thing to Nazis to win seats in the Bundestag since the actual Nazis, ran a racially inflected populist campaign that capitalized on widespread anxieties about the influx of refugees and migrants from the Muslim Middle East, which the AfD said were threatening both Germany’s national security and its national identity.”  (“Germany’s political turmoil is bad news for Europe,” Jonah Shepp, New York magazine, 1/16/18).

Looking to the future, Mr. Shepp wrote:

“Part of Merkel’s problem is that she represents a waning generation of political leadership whose preference for moderation and incremental progress is being rejected in favor of bold new ideas on both the right and the left.   German voters flocked to smaller parties in September, particularly the AfD and FDP, while the Greens and the Left made gains among younger voters.

“Younger members of Merkel’s own conservative party have been urging her step aside, while a rising generation of leaders is waiting in the wings to succeed her.   The most talked-about potential successor is 37-year-old Jens Spahn, an openly gay man who has criticized Merkel from the right on immigration issues.   Another name that comes up is Ursula von der Leyen, the current defense minister, whose positions are more liberal.

“The other mainstream parties are also looking at generational transitions:   CSU chairman Horst Seehofer is handing the Bavarian premiership over to Markus Söder, 18 years his junior, while many Social Democrats are looking to oust their leader Martin Schulz after their disappointing performance in September.”

The composition of the new coalition means there will be fireworks ahead as each party wants different things.   It’s not likely the government can stay together very long.   That also means Mrs. Merkel’s future is uncertain and will be short-lived.   She has been Chancellor for over twelve years.

Change is likely not far off.

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GERMAN REARMAMENT

Meanwhile, the German World Socialist website is warning that the new German government plans a massive expansion of its military. (This is exactly what President Trump has been demanding, that Germany spend at least 2% of its GNP on defense.)

Incoming German government plans massive military rearmament   By Johannes Stern                                                                                                           3 January 2018 * World Socialist Web Site

Extracts:

“At the beginning of December, in a keynote address to the Körber Foundation in Berlin, Social Democrat Sigmar Gabriel demanded that after seven decades of relative foreign policy restraint, Germany return to an independent foreign and military policy – supported by a militarized European Union under German leadership.   “Now we realize that even with great economic prosperity in our country there is no comfortable place on the side-lines of international politics for us anymore.   Neither for us Germans nor for us Europeans,” he declared provocatively.

“Significantly, the SWP, which is close to the government, has once again submitted a paper titled “Dissolution or Replacement?   The International Order in Transition,” which openly makes the case for the establishment of a new world order under German-European leadership.   Above all, it considers China and the US, with or without Trump, as international rivals.

“ . . . The entire paper makes clear that the ruling classes in Germany and Europe are again preparing for a new major war. “

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BREXIT

The Brits are on their way out and leaving the EU with an almighty headache about money.   Rows over the common pot of cash in the EU27 will be about €13bn a year more painful after the UK blows a hole in the budget after 2020.   (FT Brussels Briefing, 1/9)

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GREECE’S 8 YEARS OF AUSTERITY UNDER GERMAN DIRECTION IS ALMOST OVER

It’s a Grexit with a difference. 2018 should be the year Greece ends eight years of economic tutelage, closing a chapter on an extraordinary period in the EU’s financial crisis fight.

August is the planned exit date and Greece’s Syriza government has been quietly crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s on its €86bn bailout ahead of the summer. In a familiar ritual, the Greek parliament this week passed its last mountain of sweeping reforms – touching everything from energy markets to trade unions – to unlock its latest dose of rescue money.   Eurozone finance ministers should sign off on the penultimate bailout review on Monday.

In one last act of defiance, thousands of protesters gathered outside the Greek parliament to vent their rage against labour laws that make it harder for trade unions to call strikes. “The law is totally undemocratic, a form of modern slavery” the head of Greece’s public sector union told The Guardian‘s Helena Smith.  (FT Brussels Briefing, 1/17)

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STRATFOR’S PREDICTION FOR NEW YEAR

2018 Annual Forecast – North Korea’s likely achievement of a viable nuclear deterrent next year will give rise to a new and more unstable era of containment.   As the specter of war looms in the Asia-Pacific, China and Russia will band together while the United States cracks down even harder on Iran — as well as its own trade partners.  (Stratfor 1/17)

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ISRAEL EXPELLING 10,000 AFRICAN IMMIGRANTS

Israel launches plan to expel thousands of African migrants                4 Jan 2018

Jerusalem – Israel on Wednesday began implementing a plan to force tens of thousands of African migrants out of the country by April, threatening to arrest those who stay.  “This plan will get under way today,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting.  Under the programme, some 38,000 migrants who entered Israel illegally, mainly Eritreans and Sudanese, will have until the end of March to leave.  Each will receive a plane ticket and $3,500 to do so.   After the deadline, this amount will decrease and those who continue to refuse to go will face arrest.  Holot, an open facility in Israel’s desert south that can host 1,200 migrants who are allowed to leave to work during the day, is also set to be closed. Netanyahu pledged to “return south Tel Aviv to the citizens of Israel”, adding that the Africans were “not refugees but illegal infiltrators.”

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BECOME LIKE LITTLE CHILDREN

Our youngest grandson, not even two yet, already knows a lot more than most politicians, judges and liberal intellectuals in the western world.

Hayden has it down pat.  He knows to go to either Mom or Grandma when he wants food or needs his diaper changed; he’s also learned, when he wants fun, that Dad or Grandpa are the go-to people.

If a 20-month-old toddler can clearly distinguish gender roles, why can’t judges, politicians and lawyers?

They would do well to ponder the following words of Jesus Christ:

… Jesus called a little child to stand among them. “Truly I tell you, He said, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

(Matthew 18:2-4)

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FOUR LETTER WORDS

I took my wife and daughter to see a movie today.   On the way there, our daughter was doing a crossword on her phone.   She suddenly said:   “I need a four lettered word.”   I suggested she call the White House!

It’s ironic that the bad word President Trump allegedly used to describe African countries and Haiti has some truth to it.   We lived in Africa for over ten years.  During that time, we hosted many western visitors, both black and white.   The one thing everybody complained about was the toilet facilities – or, rather, the lack of them.

This does not mean that there is nothing positive to say about Africa. As I often remarked to visitors:   “we can teach them a lot about plumbing, but we can’t teach them anything about relationships. That’s where they can teach us.”

Back to Trump’s expletive.   Both Richard Nixon and his predecessor LBJ used a lot of bad language.  I suspect every president has since, to one degree or another.

 

Whenever I hear certain words, I am reminded of what my old English teacher said over fifty years ago.   “People who use bad language have a limited vocabulary with which to express themselves!”   There’s a lot of truth in that.

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MORE IGNORANCE

Senator Jeff Flake (Arizona Republican) has compared President Trump to Josef Stalin.

This kind of ignorance is appalling and dangerous.

Trump has his problems, but he cannot be equated with Stalin, a dictator who killed millions of people in his own country.   Millions more were sent to their deaths in the gulags.

Additionally, ordering the murders of five of his top nine generals prior to World War II meant the country was almost defeated by the German army.   The death toll from this alone was twenty million.

Senator Flake should not be allowed back into Congress until he has read all three volumes of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s “Gulag Archipelago.”   This would give him a much better idea of Russia’s reality under Uncle Joe.

Others who have compared Trump to Hitler should be assigned William Shirer’s “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.”

Unfortunately, ignorance does not preclude entry into Congress!  If anything, it helps.

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Israeli Mayors Rail Against Law Limiting Commerce on Shabbat   11 Jan 2018 * JNS.org 

Dozens of mayors across Israel vowed on Tuesday to fight the country’s new law limiting commerce on Shabbat, saying they will not enforce it.   The controversial “supermarkets bill” passed in the Knesset with a razor-thin majority of 58-57 on Tuesday morning. The law, an amendment to the Local Authorities Law’s provisions on the operation of local businesses on days of rest, gives the interior minister the power to shutter businesses that choose to remain open on Shabbat.   During the past few weeks, Israeli municipalities have raced to bypass the looming supermarkets law, passing and bolstering bylaws allowing businesses to remain open on Shabbat.

“The supermarkets bill is meaningless.  It is up to the mayors to enforce it and I say in no uncertain terms that I have no intention of sending inspectors to enforce it,”  Ramat Gan Mayor Yisrael Zinger said Tuesday.   “We are a liberal city, and we believe in allowing people to live their lives according to their own beliefs.  This is what creates the fabric of life in the city,” he said.   Prior to the vote on the bill, Holon Mayor Moti Sasson pledged “to do everything within my power to preserve the status quo in the city, as part of which some businesses will be open on Shabbat for the benefit of the residents.” Givatayim Mayor Ran Kunik also announced he would not enforce the new law, telling reporters he is determined to preserve the status quo in his city.   “Givatayim knows what’s best for its residents better than any minister,” he said.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

O JERUSALEM

Jerusalem is described in the biblical Book of Zechariah as “ a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples” (12:2).   The book is a Millennial prophecy about events now and in the future.

When people are drunk, they don’t think straight.   And we see that happening now, following President Trump’s announced intention to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, thereby recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab state.   It was not the capital under the Ottomans, who ruled over the city for four centuries.   When East Jerusalem was a part of the Kingdom of Jordan, it was not the capital.   The US will be moving its embassy to West Jerusalem, which is the Jewish part of the city, not East Jerusalem, where the Muslim population lives.   One third of the city’s people are Muslim.

It should also be noted that Jerusalem has not been of historic importance to the Palestinians, Arabs or Muslims. Only in recent years has it been turned into a political football in the never-ending negotiations known as the “peace process.”

It was Yasser Arafat’s uncle, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who claimed that the Muslim prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven from the Dome of the Rock.   He also declared the Rock sacred, as the site where Abraham went to sacrifice Ishmael (not Isaac).   The intent behind these declarations was to stop the growing Jewish community from taking control of the city.

However, facts will not be allowed to interfere with anything from riots to war.   Any excuse to focus attention on the Palestinians and against Israel, supposedly the occupying power and supporters of apartheid.

“Peace talks” have gotten nowhere.   By recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Mr. Trump may be trying to force the Palestinians into real peace talks, which will require compromise on both sides.   Fear of losing Jerusalem may provoke them into concessions, though this is not likely historically. As Abba Eban, former Israeli diplomat and politician, said of Yasser Arafat: “he never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”   There’s no sign of this changing.

So, what might be the next step?   War?

Undoubtedly, there will be trouble on the West Bank and in Gaza.   A “day of rage” has been called for Friday, the Muslim day of prayer. Some are calling for a new intifada, a popular uprising that will go on indefinitely, tying down Israeli troops for months or years to come.

Right now, Israel is faced with war on three fronts.   Once the Syrian conflict is over, Hezbollah in Lebanon can turn its attention to Israel.   The Gaza Strip and the West Bank could be another two fronts, making it very difficult for Israel to cope.

The following verse, Zachariah 12:3 says that Jerusalem will become “a very heavy stone for all peoples.”   The marginal note in my NKJV Study Bible says on this verse: “  Jerusalem is compared to a heavy stone that brings injury to anyone who tries to remove it from its place.”    Nobody could ever physically move Jerusalem, but its status can theoretically be changed, as President Trump has done.   This verse may be saying that attempts to reverse the decision will only bring hurt to those advocating the change.

Israel Today asked the question this morning:   “Is this a fulfillment of prophecy?”

One thing does seem likely following Mr. Trump’s decision.   It is not likely that the US can continue to orchestrate peace talks now that the country has come out openly in favor of Israel.   The EU may claim to be the new honest broker in the peace process, though the German News channel DW is showing a definite anti-Israel / pro-Palestinian slant in its news coverage of the announcement.   (DW news is shown on many PBS channels across the United States. Times vary.)

The announcement made by President Trump is likely to be the most significant decision made by the new president in his first year in office.

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).