Tag Archives: Gibraltar

TALIBAN VICTORY IN AFGHANISTAN

Afghanistan Taliban members

Our neighborhood has had internet problems all week, so my blog is shorter than usual.   It should be solved by 5pm tonight.

“At the July 7-8 talks in Doha, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Taliban organization), backed by Qatar and the U.S., emerged victorious, extracting major advantages from Afghan delegates and the international community.   A key Taliban advantage was that they held on to the Islamic Emirate’s long-standing position of not recognizing the elected government of Afghanistan as a legitimate entity.   While the Afghan delegates, including those from the government, were forced to attend the talks in their personal capacity, the Taliban representatives came to the table as the Taliban.

“As per a statement issued by Qatar, Dr. Mutlaq bin Majid Al-Qahtani, the Qatari Special Envoy for Counterterrorism and Mediation in Conflict Resolution, announced the “success” of the talks, stating:   “We are very pleased today to reach a joint statement as a first step to peace.”  The “success” and the “first step to peace” which Al-Qahtani spoke of belong to the Taliban and shari’a, not to the democratic government in Kabul, not to Afghan women who suffered under the Taliban’s shari’a rule during the 1990s, and not to common Afghans whose civil liberties are at stake in Doha.

“The Afghan Taliban – as a result of the Doha talks which were sponsored jointly by Qatar and Germany – marched closer to their stated objectives of enforcing Islamic shari’a rule in Afghanistan and of restructuring the Afghan government institutions, including the military, to their liking.”   (Tufail Ahmad, MEMRI #191. 7/12/19)

A total of almost 3,500 coalition forces have died in the 18-year conflict.

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BRITISH CLASH WITH IRAN

There was a time, even in my lifetime, when the British dominated the Persian Gulf.   But that was before 1971.   Now, a British naval presence is once again essential, to protect British shipping.   A British tanker was intercepted by Iranian vessels earlier in the week.

This was seen as retaliation for a previous confrontation off the coast of (British) Gibraltar.

Things were a lot easier during the four centuries when Britain had the greatest navy in the world.   The navy held the “multitude of nations” together (Genesis 48:19).   Since World War II it has been allowed to decline, so that more and more money could be spent on Britain’s welfare system and its National Health Service.

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BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO US QUITS

The American Ambassador to the Court of St. James (London), has always, in effect, bought his way into the position.   His contribution to the presidential election campaign would have been one of the largest contributions made.

Not so the other way around.

Britain’s diplomatic service is always made up of career diplomats. Nobody has bought a position and the service is non-political.

This week, unexpectedly, it became “political” when a memo from the British Ambassador in Washington was leaked.   The memo evaluated the Trump Administration as “inept.”

President Trump exploded and the Ambassador resigned.   President Trump rightly felt he could no longer work with the man.

The Ambassador will take early retirement (he was due to retire at the end of the year, anyway).   The big question is:  who leaked the memo and why?

It may have something to do with Brexit.   What doesn’t nowadays?

Somebody might be trying to damage US-UK relations at a time when Brexit is imminent.   Could this worsen relations with the US and therefore make it more likely that Britain will stay in Europe?  Or could it have been an attempt to get rid of a man who is critical of the US president, in time for Boris Johnson to become PM and appoint a more pro-US Ambassador?

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CHENNAI OUT OF WATER

India’s sixth biggest city has run out of water.   Tankers have to deliver water to its seven million plus inhabitants.

It highlights a problem that is set to make life much harder for people around the world.

Water is the one commodity that people can’t live without.

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TRUDEAU, NETANYAHU ACCUSED OF CORRUPTION

Two of the most prominent prime ministers of the western world are being accused of corruption.   The removal of one could make a big difference in regional security.

According to the Guardian yesterday:

“Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is facing the biggest political scandal of his administration.   The affair centers around allegations that his former attorney general, Jody-Wilson Raybould, was improperly pressured by some of his closest advisers to prevent the prosecution of a large Canadian engineering firm over accusations of fraud and bribery.   Thus far, the scandal has been politically costly; Gerald Butts, a longtime friend of Trudeau’s, and his closest adviser, resigned two weeks ago.   Wilson-Raybould has resigned, too.   A handful of polls are showing the scandal is politically unpopular for the governing Liberals – which is worrying for them, given there is a federal election in October.”

And, in Israel:

Israel’s attorney general intends to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on corruption charges.

Mr. Netanyahu faces possible charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in connection with three cases.   The prime minister is alleged to have accepted gifts from wealthy businessmen and dispensed favors to try to get more positive press coverage.

Mr. Netanyahu, who faces an election, said in a TV address that the case would “collapse like a house of cards.”   In a defiant broadcast, he repeated his assertion that he is the victim of a left-wing “witch-hunt” intended to topple him ahead of the closely contested election on 9th April.   (BBC, 3/1)

Mr Netanyahu has made Israel a lot stronger in recent years.  His departure could weaken the country

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FRANCE

“A nasty brew — anti-semitic, anti-black, anti-elite – is bubbling in France”.

“A climate of hate is emerging in France.   The targets are varied, apparently unconnected and shifting: Jews, journalists, the rich, policemen, members of parliament, the president.

“When the yellow vest movement emerged last November, it was broadly a social protest and fiscal revolt.   But the infiltration of ultra-left and extreme right agitators, and the determination of a radical core to seek the overthrow of Mr. Macron, has hardened the movement’s edge.  Weekly scenes of violent clashes with riot police fill French television screens and plumes of tear gas fill the air on the streets of Paris and other cities.  This relentless backdrop seems to have legitimized a form of violent hate.  What was once confined to the unhinged ramblings of social media groups has erupted into public.”   (‘Spreading like poison,” The Economist, February 23rd.)

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CHINA/SAUDI ARABIA GET CLOSER

“It is, in its way, the most shocking spectacle in world politics since the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union:   Even as Beijing is stepping up its persecution of Muslim Uighurs, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia cozied up to Chinese President Xi Jinping on his trip to China last week.

“More than a million Uighur Muslims are said to be held in Chinese concentration  and “reeducation” camps, where beatings and mass rapes are reliably reported to be perpetrated against detainees.   Yet the Crown Prince of the leading Sunni Islamic state signed almost $30 billion in trade agreements with China, hailed the long problem-free relationship between the two countries, pledged support for the Belt and Road initiative, and announced that Saudi Arabia respected China’s need to protect its domestic security in its own way.

“Saudi Arabia is not the only Muslim power kowtowing to China. Pakistan has also fallen strangely silent when it comes to the concentration camps now dotting the landscape in Xinjiang.   A country that regularly whips itself into fits of murderous rage over the supposed plight of Muslims in Indian-controlled Kashmir remains rigorously calm about the massive religious repression by its more powerful neighbor.

“Another sign of the strange new brotherhood between Islam and its persecutors:   Saudi Arabia has pledged $10 billion to help build a refinery in the Pakistani port of Gwadar to speed Gulf oil across Eurasia.   Among other things, the refinery will make it easier for China to fuel the vehicles transporting Muslim detainees to concentration camps.”   (“The Saudis hedge their American bets,” WSJ, 2/26).

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PAKISTANI JIHADISTS KILL 40 INDIANS

A terror attack by a Pakistani jihadist group could lead to war between India and Pakistan, two nuclear powers, after the Pakistani group attacked and killed 40 Indian troops in Kashmir.

The responsible party was Jaish-e-Mohammed (Army of Mohammed).

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US WANTS TO ARREST BIN LADEN’S SON

“A son of Osama bin Laden is emerging as a leader in al Qaeda, the US State Department says, and it’s willing to pay up to $1 million for information on his whereabouts.   Hamza bin Laden, whose father was killed by US Navy Seals in Pakistan in 2011, is taking the reins of the terror group, the State Department said late Thursday.

“The State Department wants information on Hamza bin Laden.

“Hamza bin Laden . . . is emerging as a leader” in the al Qaeda franchise, the department said in a statement.   “He has released audio and video messages on the Internet, calling on his followers to launch attacks against the United States and its Western allies, and he has threatened attacks against the United States in revenge for the May 2011 killing of his father by US military forces.”  (CNN, 3/1)

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QT ANGER OVER BREXIT

The BBC’s Question Time is one of the most popular programs on British television.   It gives a live audience (supposedly representing all viewpoints) the opportunity to express themselves on important topics.   Last Night’s QT was no exception.   The subject of Brexit was being discussed.

With only four weeks to go until the date of Britain’s departure from the EU, one member of the audience accused Britain’s three main political parties of betraying the British people.

“A furious Question Time audience member ripped into MPs on the BBC panel insisting all parties had “betrayed” Britons’ Brexit vote. The audience member pointed out Theresa May’s commitment to leaving the EU on March 29, amid fears of a delay, and Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto pledge to deliver Brexit, with the party moving towards backing People’s Vote (a second referendum).  The audience member said:   “I actually think all three parties have betrayed every single one of us.

“Theresa May, 52 times, said we will leave on March 29, she is now extending.   Well, probably will.

“Corbyn said we won’t have a second referendum, now he is going to entertain that.

“Liberals, Nick Clegg ,said there won’t be a European army.”

There’s been a lot of lying over Brexit.   Could this be the end of British democracy, as we have known it?

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EU BACKS SPANISH CLAIM TO GIBRALTAR

The British government has complained about language in EU contingency plans over a no-deal Brexit.   Under the legislation, direct flights between the EU and the UK will continue for nine months in the event of a no-deal Brexit.   But Gibraltar International Airport isn’t included in Brussels’ plan, which refers to Spain’s claim on the 800-metre section of land.

MAY BETRAYS UK

Theresa May continues to “pursue the east wind” (Hosea 12:1).   If parliament approves her Brexit proposals, the United Kingdom will be a vassal state of the German-led European Union.   The UK itself could also break up, losing Northern Ireland .  Additionally, many Scots are agitating for independence, partly out of a desire to stay in the EU.   Now Gibraltar has become a major point of contention.

The British Spectator magazine is still the best weekly read in the United Kingdom.   Each week, the editor posts a “weekly highlights” column summarizing what’s inside each issue.   Here’s the latest:

“The dust has settled on Theresa May’s Brexit deal – and it’s looking more dangerous than ever, says James Forsyth.  Her deal means if Britain ever wants to move further from Europe, it’ll have to leave Northern Ireland behind.   This choice, between sovereignty or the union, could tear her party apart.  But what about the deal itself?  Martin Howe QC gives the legal verdict:   it’s not bad, he says – it’s atrocious.  MPs who say we can change it later haven’t read the small print. In his diary, Jacob Rees-Mogg rules himself out of the Tory leadership race and (almost) suggests Boris.”   (The Spectator Weekly Highlights, Fraser Nelson, 11/22)

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SPANISH HYPOCRISY

Controversy over the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar could scupper the EU/UK summit this weekend.   The Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, says the country will veto any deal unless Spain has a say in the colony’s future.

Gibraltar has been a British territory since 1713 when it was ceded to the British under the Treaty of Utrecht.   It has been British longer than it was ever Spanish.   In the past, it has been a vital military base, for the British Royal Navy and allied navies.

Successive Spanish governments have been demanding the “return” of Gibraltar.   A big obstacle to that is the fact that 96% of Gibraltar’s 35,000 inhabitants want to remain British.   A recent complication, giving Spain an opportunity, is that the same percentage voted to remain in the EU in the British referendum held over two years ago.   This does not mean that the Gibraltarians have changed their minds on continued association with the UK; that comes first.

The Spanish are being hypocritical, a fact that the British government seems reluctant to point out.   Spain itself has two overseas territories across the water in North Africa.   Ceuta and Mellila are two Spanish enclaves claimed by Morocco.

Spain won’t budge on this issue – why should they expect the British to do otherwise?

At the same time, it should be pointed out that Spain is ignoring the referendum result on independence in the Spanish region of Catalonia.

European governments don’t take much notice of democracy – unless, of course, the result is to their liking.

The 2016 UK referendum on EU membership did not go as expected; so now demands are being made for a second referendum. This is an old trick.   It shows how undemocratic European leaders are, including the Spanish prime minister.

Latest news:  Late Saturday, after Britain made concessions on Gibraltar, Spain withdrew its objections – until next time.   The EU can now go ahead and vote on the Brexit proposals.   The British parliament will vote in a few days.  Expect more compromise — by the UK, not the EU!

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RIOTING IN PARIS OVER SECOND WEEKEND

While the price of oil is falling, it’s actually going up in France.   This has led to demonstrations in Paris.   The problem is not petrol – it’s the government.   When governments decide the price of anything, it’s easy to add on yet another tax.

Michigan, whose first European settlement was founded by a Frenchman, Jacques Marquette, over three centuries ago, should learn a lesson here.   Our new Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, promises to fix the roads.   Expect a higher fuel tax.   One way or another, the people will have to pay higher taxes.   What’s happening to the gas taxes we’re already paying?

“The Michigan Capitol Confidential is now reporting that a large part of our gas tax is going towards paying down previous debt incurred by the Engler and Granholm administrations.   This debt to improve our roads and bridges started accruing back in 1989. Apparently both Governors John Engler, a Republican and Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, promoted these major debt initiatives to improve our roads and bridges back then only for others to pay for it later; that later is today.

“Apparently each year taxes collected to improve our roads and bridges are used to pay interest and principal of that previous debt in the amount of approximately $200 million.

“To put that number in perspective let us look at the current fiscal year.   In this current fiscal year, $206.0 million of the taxes Michigan spends on roads will go to repay principal and interest on this debt, according to a House Fiscal Agency memo.   That means that the $206 million in gas tax will not go to improve our roads or bridges.  The state tax increase that as I stated above added about seven cents to the price of a gallon of gas, starting last January 1, 2017, was projected to generate an additional $313 million for road repairs this year.    Which really translates into only an additional $107 million going towards improving our infrastructure, unless they continue to fund the infrastructure improvements at the previous rate plus the additional $313 million.”

In a similar way, our property taxes are almost $500 a year higher as our township has to pay off past debt.   This is set to get worse as a settlement was agreed with a teen’s family, following his shooting death at the hands of a policeman.   The settlement runs into the millions and has to be paid by somebody.

The problem with debt is that it won’t go away.   Eventually, it has to be repaid.   Just wait until the $22 trillion federal debt falls due!

It’s not just government that is in debt.   Black Friday will likely see millions added to the national private debt load.  People are addicted to over-spending.

It’s not surprising that a survey this week showed Americans love money more than people (family and friends).   People and God came in second and third place.

King Solomon, one of the wealthiest men in history, wrote the following advice 3,000 years ago.   These words of wisdom remain valid today.

“He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver;
Nor he who loves abundance, with increase.
This also is vanity.”   (Ecclesiastes 5:10; NKJV)

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FRANCE FRAGMENTING

  • In a new program, Macron’s government is offering Arabic lessons in France’s public schools to children as young as six years old, purportedly to facilitate integration.
  • French authorities seem to ignore that the vast majority of terrorists from France have been French citizens, who spoke a perfect French and, unlike their parents, were born in France. They were perfectly “integrated.”  They rejected it.

(“The Fracturing of France,” Giulio Meotti, Gatestone, 11/24)

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HILLARY CLINTON WAKES UP

Perhaps because she was defeated at the polls by a populist, Mrs. Clinton, 2016 Democratic candidate for the presidency, finally sees the connection between the immigration invasion and populism.

“Europe’s leaders need to send a much stronger message that they will no longer offer “refuge and support” to migrants if they want to curb the right-wing populism spreading across the Continent, Hillary Clinton warned in an interview published Thursday.

‘Mrs. Clinton said that while the decision of some nations to welcome migrants was admirable, it had opened the door to political turmoil, the rise of the right and Britain’s decision to withdraw from the European Union.

“I think Europe needs to get a handle on migration because that is what lit the flame,” Mrs. Clinton said in the interview with The Guardian, which was conducted before the United States midterm elections this month.

“I admire the very generous and compassionate approaches that were taken particularly by leaders like Angela Merkel, but I think it is fair to say Europe has done its part, and must send a very clear message — ‘we are not going to be able to continue to provide refuge and support’ — because if we don’t deal with the migration issue it will continue to roil the body politic,” she said.”   (“Hillary Clinton says Europe must ‘get a handle’ on migration to thwart populism,” Matt Stevens, NYT, 11/22)

Does this mean that Mrs Clinton will no longer support the Democrats when it comes to illegal immigration?    Not likely — most illegals eventually vote for the welfare party!

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US LEADING THE CHARGE AGAINST UN MIGRATION AGENDA

“Under the Trump administration, the U.S. is leading the charge in pushing back against the U.N.’s migration agenda — in a move that is picking up support from other countries and giving political cover to those seeking to join them.” (Fox News, 11/23)

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DON’T TELL THE TRUTH!

“The European Court of Human Rights ruled on October 25 that to state that the Islamic prophet Muhammad “liked to do it with children” and “… A 56-year-old and a six-year-old?… What do we call it, if it is not paedophilia?” goes “beyond the permissible limits of an objective debate,” and could be classified as “an abusive attack on the Prophet of Islam which could stir up prejudice and threaten religious peace.” (Judith Bergman, Gatestone, 11/23)

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PAGANS OUTNUMBER PRESBYTERIANS IN US

In headlines across the country, we are now being treated to the fact that modern-day witches outnumber Presbyterians in the United States.   We’ve gone from a nation where our founding revolution was referred to as “The Presbyterian Revolt” by the British, to a nation where millennials are only able to construct political arguments based on Harry Potter – a fictional boy wizard invented by a British children’s author.

What did everyone expect to happen when they abandoned the founding faith of our nation?   People would just become shiny secular atheists who use reason and logic to rule their lives?

Pew Research reports that the number of practicing pagans, witches or “Wiccans” now totals 1.5 million in America, compared to 1.4 million Presbyterians.   These modern-day witches are noted for their adherence to radical feminism, political Marxism, and worshiping trees and plants in the forest to unlock their “higher selves.”  (In fairness, a lot of Presbyterian Church-USA sermons are indistinguishable from this.)   (“Paganism outstripping Christianity in America,” Christian Patriot Daily)

EUROPE:  “AMERICA’S WORST IDEOLOGICAL ENEMY”

Europe is the worst enemy of the US?   You cannot be serious. Islamism, Russia, illegal immigrants . . .  whatever, but surely not Europe!  Are we not still together in NATO?  Do we not conduct huge amounts of trade every day?  Do we not share the same cultural roots, the same civilization, the same vision of the future? Did France not give the US her famous Statue of Liberty – “Liberty Enlightening the World?

Not anymore. In a sense, Europe looks like a continent where American Democrats have been in power for 30 years, not only in the European states, but also at the level of the European Union. (Gatestone Institute, 20th July).

Wanted: US ambassadors in Europe

 The Trump administration’s slow pace in appointing ambassadors, which has left major posts vacant around the world, is hampering the ability to carry out US policy.   “Now is a bad time not to have an ambassador in Germany,” the top US Army commander in Europe said. (Politico)   (FT 7/20)

Melanie Phillips writes on Brexit:

Good gracious!   Someone tell me I’m not dreaming!   A Eurocrat has spoken the truth about Britain’s negotiations with the EU.

In an article in The Times Hans-Olaf Henkel, a senior German politician who is deputy head of the European Parliament’s industry, research and energy committee, accuses the European Union’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier of trying to punish Britain by making a deliberate “mess” of key elements of Brexit.

You don’t say!

Mr. Henkel writes that the European parliament’s Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt, was responsible in “no small part for the disaster of Brexit” and “now wants to punish the British, full stop.”

“He says he doesn’t want to, but I’m afraid he does.   My impression is that Mr. Barnier wants to do the same.   The reason is simple.   They would seek to make sure that Brexit is such a catastrophe that no country dares to take the step of leaving the EU again.”

Precisely.

(“So just who is really messing up Brexit talks?”  7/20)

KING AND QUEEN OF SPAIN VISIT UK

The King and Queen of Spain were on a state visit to the United Kingdom last week.   Predictably, the King brought up the question of Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory at the southern tip of Spain. It’s been under British rule for over three centuries, far longer than it ever belonged to Spain.

There’s an element of hypocrisy here.

Spain rules two enclaves in North Africa, Ceuta and Melilla, which are both claimed by Morocco. They are the only African territories still ruled by Europeans.

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 ISRAEL

UNESCO is an Immoral, Anti-Semitic Organization 
- Decent Countries Should Leave

by Guy Millière  •  July 19, 2017 at 5:00 am

Although Europe claims to respect human rights and the rights of peoples, it has been a party to violating the most essential right of the Jewish people:  the recognition of its existence for more than 3,000 years, and the anchoring of this existence to its sacred monuments.   Worse, Europe does so in the name of a people fictitiously invented less than 50 years ago.   No serious scholar can find any trace of a “Palestinian people” before the 1960s.   Europe has apparently been all too happy to accept lies.

While claiming to fight terrorism, Europe complies with the demands of a terrorist movement that does not even bother to hide its terrorist nature.   When Mahmoud Abbas speaks Arabic, he continually incites the murder of Jews.   He recently repeated that he would not stop paying tried, convicted and imprisoned murderers of Jews, and still calls these murderers heroic “martyrs.”   On all maps used by the Palestinian Authority and in Palestinian textbooks, Israel does not exist;   it is called Palestine.

Europeans, imbued with a generic sense of guilt, began attributing all that is wrong in the world to Western civilization.   Because they had colonized parts of the Muslim world, they failed to note that Muslim culture had, in fact, colonized Persia, the Byzantine Empire, the Middle East, Greece, Cyprus, the Balkans, North Africa, Southern Spain, and, more recently, northern Cyprus.  (Gatestone Institute 7/20)

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Turkish schools drop Darwin

Turkey’s new school curriculum drops the theory of evolution and adds the concept of ” jihad as patriotic in spirit”.   The move has fueled fears that populist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is subverting the republic’s secular foundations. (Independent)


 

POLITICAL INCORRECTNESS

a.  A white Australian woman was shot dead by a policeman In Minneapolis over the weekend.

Headlines around the world announced that she was shot by an American cop.

The cop, it turns out, was a Somali immigrant, a Muslim named Mohammed Noor.

Was the fact that he is a Somali Muslim a factor?    Possibly.

What was certainly a factor is that he is an immigrant from Somalia, one of the most violent countries in the Islamic world, a country famous for its mistreatment of women.

Once again, an innocent victim would still be alive if there were stricter controls on immigration.

b)  I’m looking forward to going to see the movie “Dunkirk” which begins this weekend.   The movie tells the true story of the 1940 evacuation from the French coastal town of Dunkirk of 330,000 British troops who were about to be captured by the German army.

USA Today gave it a good review.   However, the reviewer fell victim to political incorrectness when he ended his review with these words:   “… the fact that there are only a couple of women and no lead actors of color may rub some the wrong way.”   (“Dunkirk an immersive look at heroism,” 7/18).

It wasn’t until 1948 that non-whites started arriving in Britain in significant numbers; and women were not used in combat until fairly recently.

But how would a generation raised on political correctness possibly know that?

Note the following from a review of the movie “Atonement” (2007) which featured the evacuation from Dunkirk.   The same problem perplexed the historical adviser to the movie.

“She said that as a historical advisor on Atonement (2007), there was a decision that had made her uneasy – the depiction of a black soldier appearing with Robbie (the main character) in Dunkirk.   She asserts:  “In fact, it was almost impossible for there to have been a black soldier in the British Expeditionary Force in France.”   She suspects this was done “to reflect today’s multicultural society” and “gave a misleading impression of how Britain was at the time.”   The film did prompt discussion.”

(Presenting the black past – how history must change the media,11/14/13).

MIGRANT BILL

daily express

Further to what I posted on Monday, here is the front page headline in Tuesday’s Daily Express, a conservative tabloid newspaper in the UK.   “Migrants cost Britain 17 billion pounds a year” — that’s about $25 bn. (Remember to multiply by 5 for the US equivalent, as the American population is roughly five times that of the United Kingdom.)

It’s no coincidence that the country can no longer afford naval protection for either the Falkland Islands or Gibraltar.

And it’s not surprising that the country fell behind the NATO requirement that 2% of GNP be spent on defense.   President Obama got rather angry with the British prime minister over that.

The irony is that, with even more migrants, the country will need to spend more on defense; but can’t because the migrants need the cash!

This reminds me of a passage in Hosea about Ephraim:

Strangers devour his strength, and he knows it not;
gray hairs are sprinkled upon him, and he knows it not.
The pride of Israel testifies to his face;
yet they do not return to the Lord their God,
nor seek him, for all this.  (Hosea 7:9-10; English Standard Version)

 

ACROSS THE POND

Queen's 2016 birthday

I’ve not been able to write much recently.   This is due to the fact that we moved house on Sunday.   Or, rather, I should say we moved the big, heavy items with the help of younger men from our church. For a month before that, we were moving small items ourselves.   Now, we still have to clear out our old house.  We have a few more days to do that and then things should get back to normal.  (Why is my wife laughing hysterically . . . ?)

Moving house later in life is more difficult.   Not only is lifting harder, especially after two major back surgeries and my wife’s cancer surgery.   But also we have accumulated more.   So this has been an opportunity to get rid of some things.   We still have a long way to go, though.   We must keep working on it.

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President Obama is in England as I write.  He’s upset a lot of people by urging the British to stay in the EU.   A referendum on the issue is due in two months.

The US president stated that fighting terrorism is more effective within the European Union.   This is debatable – the EU allows freedom of movement within the 28-member organization.   In itself, this encourages terrorism.

It should be noted that Switzerland is surrounded by the EU, but not a member and has not had one single terrorist incident.

It’s also true that the EU is not a security organization – NATO is.   There is no suggestion that Britain leave NATO.

Thirdly, it has always been the case that foreign leaders do not interfere in elections in other countries.   Is a new precedent being set here?   Can Mr. Cameron now come over to Washington and tell Americans not to vote for Trump?

Having said that, President Kennedy over 50 years ago, encouraged the United Kingdom to join what is now the European Union.   The reason is simple – Washington wants a reliable pro-American voice in the world’s biggest single market.

But how would Americans feel if they were part of an Americas Union, bringing all the nations of North and South America together in one bloc?   Would they willingly take orders from Havana and Caracas?   That’s exactly what the Brits are having to do as members of the EU.   Some member countries have lost considerable financial independence, as they have to wait for orders from Berlin.   Germany is the dominant power in the EU.   The Union is a socialist bloc that tries to control every aspect of daily life.   No wonder so many Brits want out.   The president should stay out of the debate and leave it to the British people, who have to subsidize the organization from their taxes each and every day.

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The Obamas arrived in London on the Queen’s 90th birthday.   They will be having lunch with her on Friday.   The official reason for their visit is to honor the Queen.   Mrs. Obama has expressed a desire to see the monarch’s grandchildren and great grandchildren.   A family photo was released this week showing four generations of monarchs sitting together – Queen Elizabeth and future monarchs Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince George.   A similar picture was taken in the 1890’s of Queen Victoria with her oldest son, grandson and great-grandson (the future Edward VII, George V and Edward VIII).

No other British monarch has ever lived to be 90.   Nor has any other monarch reigned as long as the Queen.   The Queen’s marriage is also the longest ever royal marriage in history.   It’s interesting to note that out of 40 monarchs, the three most prominent ones have all been women, Elizabeth I, Victoria and Elizabeth II.

Commentators on BBC World yesterday expressed the opinion that the Queen’s longevity and famous devotion to duty owes a great deal to three things – good health, strong faith and Prince Philip, who turns 95 in June.   For the first time, a book on her faith is available for people to read.   It’s title is The Servant Queen and the King She Serves.   Hopefully, it will influence more of her subjects to reject the secular humanism that has brought so many evils into British society and look to Jesus Christ for solutions to their problems.   This is equally true for Commonwealth countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

In contrast to most world leaders the Queen sees herself as a servant.   She is no doubt familiar with the words of Jesus Christ who taught His disciples to be different to the leaders they saw around them.

”But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.   Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.   And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—  just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”  (Matthew 20: 25-28).

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Pat Buchanan has just written a column on “America’s Imperial Overstretch,” comparing the country’s present state to the last days of the British Empire.   Most people today are unaware that when the British monarch was born, the British Empire was the greatest power in the world.   At the start of her reign, Britain was still a very powerful country.   One of its greatest strengths was the Royal Navy. Now, there are so few ships, there are none available to protect the Falkland Islands from Argentina.   Nor are there any to defend Gibraltar.   The governments of the two colonies took the unusual step earlier this month of issuing a joint statement reminding potential aggressors (Argentina and Spain) that the United Nations charter calls for the “self-determination of peoples.”   The populations of both colonies want to remain British but Britain can’t or won’t defend them.

This is the future Americans have to look forward to – imperial decline on a massive scale.

Note Pat Buchanan’s comments:

“Since the end of the Cold War in 1991, this country has been steadily bled and slowly bankrupted. We are now as overextended as was the British Empire in the 1940s.

“And like that empire, we, too, are being challenged by nations that seek to enlarge their place in the sun — a resurrected Russia, China, Iran.   And we are being bedeviled by fanatics who want us out of their part of the world, which they wish to remake according to the visions of their own faiths and ideologies.  (“America’s Imperial Overstretch,” 4/14)

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President and Mrs. Obama arrived in England after visiting Saudi Arabia.  It was clear the Saudis are upset with the United States.   For decades the alliance between the two has been a cornerstone of US foreign policy.   Now that the US is cuddling up to Shi’ite Iran, the Saudis feel betrayed.   As one commentator put it – they don’t like playing the role of a rejected wife as the husband turns his attention to his new mistress, Tehran!   Divorce, however, is not considered an option. It is also the case that many Saudis (maybe most) are more enamored with IS than the US!

SINGAPORE LOSES ITS FOUNDING FATHER

Lee Kuan Yew

Singapore is one of the greatest success stories of the modern world.

The modern history of the country started in 1819, just under 200 years ago.  The British were looking for a strategic location to base their growing merchant and naval fleets and to thwart Dutch regional influence.

The then Lieutenant-Governor of Bencoolan in Sumatra, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, landed in Singapore after surveying neighboring islands.   A colony was soon founded with a population of only 150. Today, the population is almost 5.5 million.   Singapore’s success was based on free trade, which made it a vibrant commercial center, attracting merchants from all over Asia, the Middle East and the United States, as well as Great Britain, which dominated the globe in the nineteenth century.

The port city saw its greatest period of growth after the British opened the Suez Canal in 1869.   Control of vital sea-gates around the globe contributed to the dominance of the British Empire.   It was possible for British vessels to sail from England to Gibraltar, Malta and Cyprus in the Mediterranean, before continuing their journey through the Suez Canal and Aden, then on to points east, including Singapore.   The naval base at Singapore enabled the British to dominate the Far East and Australasia.   Singapore was a vital sea-gate, one of the arteries of empire.   Many believe this fulfilled the prophecy in Genesis 22:17 that Abraham’s descendants would “possess the gates of their enemies.”

Everything went well until the Japanese attacked the city the day after Pearl Harbor.   Once regarded as an impregnable fortress, the city surrendered on 15th March, 1942.   It remained under Japanese occupation for three-and-a-half-years.   Looking back, it was a major turning point in the decline and fall of the British Empire, perhaps the biggest single turning point.   It showed that the seemingly invincible British, a white race that ruled the greatest empire in history, could be defeated by a non-white peoples considered backward and inferior.

After the defeat of Japan, the British returned, but it was impossible to return to the pre-war order.   New political parties were formed that campaigned for independence.

In 1963, the people of Singapore voted to join the new Malaysian Federation, which the British had created six years earlier.   Only two years later, Singapore, an island of mostly Chinese immigrants, had to leave the Moslem dominated federation and go it alone.

In 1965, at the time of independence, the total Gross National Product of Singapore was only $1 billion.   Fifty years later, it’s $300 billion.   Per capita income has grown from less than $500 per year to well over $55,000, second only to Japan in East Asia.   The island state has been transformed in fifty years from a Third World outpost to a thriving city-state that belongs proudly to the First World of wealthy, affluent countries.

This achievement was the work of one man, Lee Kuan Yew, the longest serving prime minister in the world (from 1959 to 1990). Singapore’s former prime minister died at the weekend.   The man who cried when the federation broke up and Singapore had to go it alone, had a clear vision of what was needed – a free enterprise system which would become a regional financial center.   This does not mean that government was not involved.   He was mildly authoritarian, with restrictions on freedom of speech and the press.   He also oversaw massive public housing projects, which contributed to a rising standard of living for the people. The US could learn from its medical system.

He leaves behind a wealthy, efficient and honest administration – one of the modern world’s greatest success stories.   Other developing nations, struggling to survive in the contemporary world, could learn a great deal from Singapore and the man who built its modern economy.

Singapore is also symbolic of Asia’s growing might, accompanied by the decline of its former imperial master Great Britain, and the West in general.

The world has changed a great deal in the fifty years since Singapore became an independent republic.   It’s experience should give many nations pause for thought and reflection.