Tag Archives: IMF

ANGLO MIGRATION

Friends of ours are leaving South Africa and moving to Australia.   They are not the first and certainly won’t be the last.

The “new” South Africa that came into being with the end of apartheid, just under 25 years ago, has become one of the most violent countries in the world.   The white farmers who live there, producing most of the region’s food, have been hit really hard by all the violence.   Hundreds have been murdered in the new South Africa.   Another friend’s grandson was murdered at 18 – for a cell phone!

Young families have to seek greater security for their children.   Australia is one of the best countries to go to, for now at least.

What’s been happening in South Africa and other countries before it, has been one of the minor news items in the world, a blip in the global disorder.   But facts are facts – as the British gave independence to their various colonies around the globe, so Brits who had settled there, contributing greatly to economic development, were forced to leave.   This was especially true in Africa.   This mass migration of people has been really bad for Africa and for Africans.   Their British “masters” have simply been replaced by Chinese bosses who often treat them with contempt.

South Africa’s white population was 20% of the population 25 years ago;  today, it’s down to 10%.

We may think that this migration is over, with South Africa being the last country to expel the whites.   It isn’t.   As South Africa’s majority black population took over the country, so, in the next few decades, new majorities in western nations will take over their new countries and push the original occupants out.

This is prophesied in Deuteronomy 28, the blessings and cursings chapter of the Bible.   The Israelites were told by God that if they obeyed Him, they would be greatly blessed; but, if they turned away from Him, they would suffer the negative consequences.   The modern Israelites are suffering these consequences now and will continue to do so, unless they repent and turn back to God.

16 “Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country.  17 “Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.  18 “Cursed shall be the [a]fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.  19 “Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.   (Deut. 28:16-19)

 “The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower.  44 He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail. ” (vs. 43-44)

The Anglo-Saxon-Celtic peoples are amongst the modern Israelites. At the end of World War II, a little over 70 years ago, they dominated the world.   The British Empire had emerged intact from the global conflict, which it had fought for six years; the United States had emerged from the war as a global superpower.   A constant theme of the last seven decades has seen these same Anglo-Saxon-Celtic peoples lose their power and prestige.     They will continue to do so.

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REVOLUTION IN THE AIR?

France has seen a great deal of violence the last three weekends and is expected to see more again this coming weekend.

The primary cause was increased fuel taxes to help cover an environmental project.   It was enough to trigger off the worst rioting in decades.

What the French elite, including President Macron, fail to understand is that ordinary people are suffering.  They are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet.  Higher fuel costs mean higher food costs as food has to be transported.

The rioting spread to neighboring Belgium and there is speculation there could be rioting elsewhere, including in neighboring Germany.   Once again, governments are out of touch with the reality of day to day living.

The following is a joke somebody sent me from Germany, a country not noted for its sense of humor:

“An African refugee is walking through the streets of Nuremberg – a well preserved medieval walled city. He fronts up to the first person he meets and says, “I would like to thank you for taking me in. For clothing me, feeding me, giving me healthcare and letting me stay.”

“But I’m not German, I’m Albanian,” the pedestrian responds.

The African walks on undeterred, and meets another pedestrian: “I would like to thank you for taking me in, clothing me, feeding me, giving me healthcare and letting me stay.”

“But I’m not German, I’m Turkish…”

The African tries once more, with a third pedestrian. “Thank you for taking me in, clothing me…”

“But I’m not German, I’m Arabic.”

“Then where are all the bloody Germans?” the African refugee asks.

The Arab looks at his watch, shrugs and says, “Probably at work.” (end of joke)

The cost of housing, clothing, feeding and educating all the refugees falls on the German tax-payer. It’s the same throughout the western world, in every single western nation.

Brexit started as a means to hit back against the system.   51.7% of the British people supported the “rebellion” against the ruling elite. Trump soon followed with victory in the US election.   The reality of what was behind Trump’s victory still has not been appreciated by the liberal intellectual community that has dominated the country for decades.   The reality is summed up in the title of a new book by Anthony Scaramucci:   “Trump – the Blue-Collar President,”   Trump was / is America’s revolution.   If his revolution fails, we should expect a worse one up ahead.

The same with Brexit.   If the British Establishment manages to thwart Brexit, as is certainly a possibility, the frustrations that ordinary people are experiencing could explode in something far worse.

Populist parties exist throughout the western democracies today – unless people see an improvement in their circumstances, we could see sweeping electoral changes ahead.   This could start in France.

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AN AGE OF ANGER

During a dinner in Washington, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde sent a warning to politicians whose decisions could create “an age of anger.”   She said:  “Imagine what the world might look like if we fail to build and adapt.   We could live in an age of anger.”

But this lesson is best learnt from Mr. Trump, the US President, who successfully harnessed the anger of America’s rustbelt communities to propel himself into the White House.  (BBC, 12/6)

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ARABS TIGHTEN BELTS

“A wave of economic austerity is squeezing the Arab world’s middle class, pushing a segment of society that is key to growth and stability into making painful cut-backs and fueling discontent.

“Egyptians say they are taking second jobs and dining out less often. Jordanians trying to make ends meet are pulling children from private schools.   In Tunisia, hundreds of thousands of civil servants staged a one-day strike last month to demand a pay increase.”  (“Arab Middle Class Tightens Belt,” Jared Malsin, WSJ, 12/6)

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IRAN AND ISRAEL PREPARING FOR WAR

Iranian leaders stepped up their war of words against Israel and the United States over the weekend while new information shows both the Israel Defense Forces and the Islamic Republic are actively preparing for a multi-front war in Israel.

The new war of words started when Iran’s so-called moderate president Hassan Rouhani told participants in an Islamic conference that Israel was a “cancerous tumor” and “a fake regime” founded by Western nations.

While calling upon the Islamic world to establish a “joint force” that could win the “battle against criminals,” Rouhani claimed Israel had killed and displaced the (non-existing) “historic nation of Palestine.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu responded to Rouhani’s belligerent rhetoric by warning Iran that Israel knows how to defend itself against the “murderous Iranian regime.”   (“Iran and Israel preparing for multi-front war,”  (Yochanan Visser,  Israel Today, 11/28)

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BREXIT — THE WORST DEAL IN HISTORY

This Brexit “deal” is anything but good for the nation.

This “deal” will cost the British taxpayer £60 billion; require that the British still comply with EU rules without having any say in what those will be, and worst of all, it permits the British to leave the EU only if the EU agrees.   It commits the British effectively to subjugation by the EU in perpetuity, with no recourse should the British change their mind. It is a prison.   It is also the first step of the EU toward its dream of global governance: unaccountable, untransparent, unelected by the public, and with no way out.

There is still a way out of this mess; an easy alternative.   The solution is No Deal.   Without any further action, the UK’s membership of the EU will lapse on March 29, 2019, and unless that majority can unite around a viable alternative, we will leave.   Even better, according to a House of Lords report, there would be no legal obligation for the UK to make any payment as part of a financial settlement.   (David Brown, Gatestone, 12/4)

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ANGELA MERKEL STEPS DOWN

Friday Angela Merkel, German Chancellor since 2005, stepped down as Chairman of her political party, the Christian Democratic Union.   She will remain Chancellor for the time being, but relinquishing her chairman role will likely result in change at the chancellery in the not too distant future.

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PROFOUND COMMENTS

Europe today is not afraid of Vladimir Putin reaching the Rhine. Europe is afraid of Africa and the Middle East reaching the Danube.  (“The Never-Trumpers are never coming back,” PB, 7/6)

A “sense of guilt” for colonialism is debasing the West from within, according to Professor Bruce Gilley, and authoritarian regimes such as Iran, Russia, China and Turkey are profiting from this weakness.

The Romans called it damnatio memoriae:   the damnation of memory that resulted in destroying the portraits and even the names of the fallen emperors.   The same process is now underway in the West about its colonial past.   The cultural elite in the West now seem so haunted by feelings of imperialist guilt that they are no longer confident that our civilization is something to be proud of.  (“Is guilt killing the West from within?”  Giulio MeottiGatestone, 7/6)

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ITALY CLOSES DOOR TO MIGRANTS

In Italy, rising popular sentiment against immigration has found a forceful spokesman and leader in Deputy PM Matteo Salvini, who has refused entry to Italian ports to migrant rescue ships, saying “NGO rescue ships will only see Italy on postcards.” 

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ANN COULTER PREDICTS END OF REPUBLICAN PARTY

“New York Times best-selling author and populist conservative columnist Ann Coulter says the Republican Party is “just at the point of extinction without a shot” due to mass illegal and legal immigration to the country that continues importing more than 1.5 million immigrants a year.

In an interview with SiriusXM Patriot’s Breitbart News Daily, Coulter told Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow that the United States — due to mass immigration and rapid demographic shifts — will be electorally dominated by Democrats indefinitely in “about five more years,” calling Trump “the last Republican president.” (Breitbart 11/28)

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MILITARY SPENDING

According to SIPRI’s 2016 data:

  • Only 4 out of 28 NATO countries — the United States, France, Greece and Estonia — pay above the 2 percent GDP
  • If under-paying countries began reaching the 2 percent threshold, total European nato-military spending would rise from $254 billion to $328 billion.
  • In comparison, U.S. military spending was $611 billion, China’s $215 billion, and Russia’s $69 billion.
  • If Germany spent 2 percent of its GDP on defense, its military spending would parallel Russia’s — $69 billion!

SIPRI stands for Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

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CHANGING RELATIONSHIPS

The US Congress is about to come out with a statement stating that the Saudi Arabian Crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered the death of the Washington Post correspondent, Jamal Khashoggi. Mr. Khashoggi was assassinated in the Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey on October 2nd.

Additionally, the US has requested the extradition of the top executive of the major Chinese company, Huawei.

“New York (CNN Business) — The arrest of a top Huawei executive has sent stock markets plunging around the world and threatens to derail the tenuous trade truce between the United States and China.

“Meng Wanzhou, the Chinese tech company’s chief financial officer, was detained in Vancouver on Saturday at the request of US authorities.” (12/6)

Thirdly, Mr. Trump ignored President Putin of Russia at the G20 summit last weekend.

Three major relationships, with Saudi Arabia, China and Russia are seriously threatened by these actions.

Interestingly, these three countries are the top oil producing countries in the world, after the United States.   Saudi Arabia and Russia are already co-operating on oil production, which will affect the global price.

It should also be noted that all three are murderous regimes.   The Saudi and Russian governments think nothing of murdering opponents in other parts of the world; while the Chinese have their gulags (sorry, re-education camps).

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OF INTEREST

Donald and Melania Trump did not recite The Apostles’ Creed nor did they sing the hymns during George H.W. Bush’s funeral Wednesday, sparking criticism of the president who claims to be Presbyterian and is portrayed as an evangelical Christian by many conservatives.   Video shows the first couple standing in silence alongside three former presidents and first ladies who all recited the creed.

Ivanka Trump also participated, despite having converted to Judaism.   The Apostles’ Creed is considered Christianity’s core prayer, at the heart of the Christian doctrine.   The version of the creed at the service was that of the Episcopal Church, to which the Bush family belongs.   The Apostles’ Creed is Trinitarian in structure with sections affirming belief in God the Father, Jesus Christ His Son and the Holy Spirit.   The Apostles’ Creed was based on Christian theological understanding of the Canonical gospels, the letters of the New Testament and to a lesser extent the Old Testament.   Its basis appears to be the old Roman Creed known also as the Old Roman Symbol.   (mailonline 12/6)

 

 

 

 

 

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SUICIDES UP IN US, DOWN GLOBALLY

“The suicide rate in America is up by 18% since 2000.  This is not merely a tragedy; it matters politically, too.   The rise is largely among white, middle-aged, poorly educated men in areas that were left behind by booms and crushed by busts.   Their deaths are a symptom of troubles to which some see President Trump as the answer. Those troubles should not be ignored.”   (“Staying alive,” The Economist,11/24)

Suicide is declining pretty much all over the world, thanks to greater freedom and some helpful policies.” (“Defeating despair,” The Economist, 11/24).

“Globally, the rate has fallen by 38% from its peak in 1994.”

LIFE EXPECTANCY DOWN IN US

“Suicide and drug overdose rates continued to rise in 2017, helping drive the number of U.S. deaths to the highest level in more than 100 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a series of reports on mortality released Thursday.

“Tragically, this troubling trend is largely driven by deaths from drug overdose and suicide,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a statement.  “These sobering statistics are a wake-up call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable.”

“Life expectancy in 2017 fell to an average of 78.6 years for the total population, down from 78.7 years in 2016.

“Overall, more than 2.8 million Americans died in 2017, about 70,000 more than in 2016.”

(“Suicides, overdoses rise in US,” John Bacon, USA Today, 11/30)

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CONTINUING BREXIT CRISIS

“The only rule of British politics for the coming weeks is that nobody knows anything.   The prime minister doesn’t know who will resign next.   The factions don’t know their relative strengths.   Nobody knows what is bluff and what is in deadly earnest.

“But one thing that is increasingly clear in the fog of Brexit is that this is the most serious domestic crisis Britain has faced in the modern democratic era.   In the statement that accompanied his resignation as transport minister earlier this month, Jo Johnson accused his own government of “a failure of British statecraft on a scale unseen since the Suez crisis.”   Others have compared the current debacle to the IMF’s bail-out of Britain in 1976 or the gold-standard crisis of 1931.   In fact it is worse than anything else Britain has endured in peacetime. The political system is all but paralysed, the country is divided into warring ideological tribes, the civil service in overwhelmed and, in the event of no deal, Britain would be staring into the abyss.” (“Crisis? What crisis?”  Bagehot, The Economist, 11/24).

The Economist has a new layout, that prompted an anti-Brexit  reader to suggest they move the British news section to the end of the magazine, after the Obituary column!   

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IS THE GLOBAL ECONOMY TAKING A DOWNTURN?

The stock market has been rather jumpy lately.   At the same time, gas has been going down (except in France, where an increase in fuel taxes has resulted in three consecutive weekends of riots); of course, a fall in gas prices may not be such a good thing, as it’s often the harbinger of a slowing economy.

Here’s some other indicators the economy may be headed south:

  • The Federal Reserve has been ratcheting up interest rates.
  • Corporations have loaded up on debt.
  • Unemployment is so low that employers are finally raising wages.
  • The housing market shows signs of softening.

. . . But there are plenty of upbeat signs today, too.

Auto sales are still running strong, if not quite at the peak levels of a couple of years ago.   Then, too, the labor markets still have some slack . . .”    (“Warning signs of recession abound,” John Gallagher, Lansing State Journal, 11/26).

“NEW YORK 30% OFF”

“Some homeowners are selling at bargain-basement prices from what they paid, as the city faces an end to a decade-long boom. Oversupply, rising interest rates and tax-code changes are only partly to blame.” (WSJ, Mansion, 11/30).

“Real estate, oil and employment figures are sending similar messages, and that is that economic activity is starting to slow significantly, just like in 2007 before the Great Recession wiped out trillions of dollars from the markets.

And, according to a blog on The Economic Collapse, those in charge don’t want to admit the reality of what is happening, just like in 2008.” (“Money and markets,” JT Crowe, 11/30)

GM ANNOUNCES 15,000 JOB CUTS   (Monday)

‘In the wake of massive layoffs announced by U.S. carmaker General Motors, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lashed out at President Donald Trump’s recent steel and aluminum tariffs.

At Friday’s ceremony to sign a new version of NAFTA, the free trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico, Trudeau urged Trump to reassess levies imposed on Canadian imports in June.

“Donald, it’s all the more reason why we need to keep working to remove the tariffs on steel and aluminum between our countries,” Trudeau said Friday, The Hill reported.   According to a tweet from Toronto Star journalist Daniel Dale, the prime minister was referring to the GM cuts, which Trudeau called a “heavy blow.”

(Justin Trudeau blasts Donald Trump’s trade tariffs to his face after General Motors announced huge lay-offs,” Katherine Hignett, Newsweek, 11/30)

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AN ARMY OF THE EUROPEANS

Military Union in the Making

“At this year’s Berlin Security Conference, which ended yesterday, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen promoted new steps toward creating an “army of the Europeans.”  According to von der Leyen, “the question is no longer if, but how to reach strategic autonomy” of the EU with its own armed forces. “The European defense union is in the making. “[1] Delicate questions will be raised in the near future, such as that of establishing “independent command capabilities,” alongside those of NATO, for future EU missions and streamlining decision-making structures. German parliamentary reservations should not be abolished, but rather reframed.   Brussels could establish a “committee of legislators from national parliaments specializing in defense,” which could rapidly prepare decisions – in questions of war and peace.   In addition, compulsory EU consensus in foreign policy should be abandoned. “European foreign policy decisions on the basis of large majority support must be made possible.”   This would mean that individual member countries could be compelled to support a foreign policy against  their interests.

Strategic Autonomy

The German foreign policy establishment is already discussing the outline for the further development of the “army of the Europeans.” To actually achieve “strategic autonomy, Europe, more than ever must provide for its own security – perhaps even completely,” according to Jan Techau, Director of the European Program of the German Marshall Fund of the United States  .[2] This would mean that, not only conventional, but “nuclear deterrence,” as well, must be “independently organized in Europe.”   [3] This, in turn, must be accompanied “by a significantly enhanced independent intelligence competence and activity.”   Furthermore, with the “shift of acts of aggression to the sector of information technology (IT), and the hybrid warfare in the sectors of media and public opinion influence,” the guarantee of European security will be extended to fields, where Europe … is not among the world leaders,” concluded Techau.   In the future, “the Europeans, and above all, Germany, must accomplish in these fields things that, by far, surpass what the United States has been able to achieve until now.”   The “scope of the task” also demands that in the future “strategy be taught at German universities . . . and strategic education be required as a career-obligation for all civil servants from the B-6 salary level upwards.” And ultimately, “a federal security council” should “be the hub connecting the various strands of ministerial activities on all central questions” so that “the chancellor may have access to thorough strategic advice.” “German foreign policy, 11/29

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‘THE DAY OF THE DICTATOR IS OVER!”

Those were the words of President George H.W. Bush, who has now died, aged 94.   They were spoken at a time of great optimism, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the US intervention against President Noriega of Panama.   Almost thirty years later, democracy isn’t doing so good.  A report last week showed that, in Africa, nations are becoming more dictatorial as leaders refuse to hold elections, amending their constitutions to enable them to stay in power indefinitely.

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TWO CHUMMY MURDERERS

Without any sense of shame or embarrassment, President Vladimir Putin and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, greeted each other warmly at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.   Both men think nothing of ordering the murders of people who disagree with them.   Unfortunately, western nations still have to do business with them!

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HERALDING THE SOCIALIST PARADISE

“Senator Bernie Sanders knows what he wants.  In a Washington Post op-ed last week, the democratic socialist from Vermont laid out a legislative agenda for the 116th Congress’s first 100 days.  Among the dizzying array of proposals Mr. Sanders pushed were his “Medicare for All” bill, tuition-free college, student-debt relief, tax increases requiring “wealthy people and large corporations to begin paying their fair share” and a $15 minimum wage indexed to “median wage growth,” not inflation.

“Others in the Democratic Party’s increasingly influential democratic-socialist wing are pressing for their own major legislation to pass the House, even if it will get nowhere in the Republican Senate.   Rep.-elect Alexandria Occasion-Cortez, for example, wants a “Green New Deal.”   Sounding too much like a Maoist functionary, she describes it as a “national, industrial, economic mobilization plan” to make America carbon neutral.”   (“Stopping the Socialist Resurgence,” Karl Rove, WSJ, November 29th)

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“Then Moses went up into the mountain and a cloud covered
 the mountain. — and the cloud covered it six days.
And on the seventh day He (the LORD) called to Moses out of
the midst of the cloud.”  (Ex 24: 15-16)

UNCERTAIN DEALS

Map for deals

Two current international “deals” may yet amount to nothing.

The European Union’s latest deal with Greece, the third bailout of the country in the last five years, may yet fail.

The Greek government may not be able to get the agreement through parliament as it is only going to make austerity harder for the Greek people.

Four bills need to be passed in the next twenty-four hours.   Pensions must be cut; taxes increased; the defense budget slashed and steps taken toward privatizing ports and other government owned enterprises, which it is hoped will cut corruption and make things more efficient.   As the ruling party, Syriza, is very left-wing, there’s a good possibility the parliament will not approve everything.   The Greek population voted against further austerity less than a month ago.

There is concern, too, beyond Greece’s borders.   European creditor countries are fully aware that, even if the Greek parliament approves the agreement, they may not keep their word.   It’s happened before.   This would mean that, in a few months, Greece will be back, asking for a further bailout.

A further set-back occurred this morning when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced that Greece’s debt was “unsustainable” and that the country needs a much greater infusion of cash from the EU.   The EU bailout deal has, at least, united all concerned in the conviction that it won’t work!    The Greek problem is not about to go away.

Then there’s the deal between six western powers and Iran.

The British Guardian Weekly wasn’t sure which deal to put on its front page, Greece or Iran.   Right up to the last minute, Greece was going to be the leader, but then the deal with Iran came through.  The paper decided that the Iranian deal was the more important one, with far reaching implications.   But both deals could have both short-term and long-term negative consequences.

On Iran, the headline on the Fox News website was: “Win for Putin?” Putin has been supportive of Iran, Syria’s Assad and Shi’ites in general.

It’s certainly a win for Iran, which can look forward to the lifting of international sanctions.

The best the West can hope for is that this will buy time, that Iran will not develop nuclear weapons for at least the next ten years, by which time, democracies being as they are, none of those signing the agreement today, will still be in power.   They can, as with so many things, kick the can down the road.

However, even if this presupposes Iran will keep its side of the deal.   That’s no more likely than Greece abiding by the terms of the EU bailout deal.

Anyway, it doesn’t really matter what the West thinks about the Iranian deal.

Israel’s prime minister has described the deal as “a mistake of historic proportions,” that it endangers his country.   He added:  “the more you read it, the worse it gets.”   Iran has been screaming “Death to Israel.  Death to America,” for over 35 years.   A recent demonstration in Tehran showed mobs screaming the same again. Perhaps nobody in Washington has been watching!

But, even Israel is not the country most concerned about the agreement.   The Sunni Arab states are.   Almost certainly, they will see through this agreement and their fears of Shia Iran acquiring nuclear weapons will lead them to acquire the same.   It may take a few years, but they will be driven by a great sense of urgency.   Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt are the three countries most likely to pursue their own bomb, with immediate help from Pakistan, which already has the bomb.   Saudi Arabia certainly has the money for this.

The greatest threat to world peace remains the Sunni-Shia conflict, a struggle that has continued for over thirteen centuries.   Although an Obama Administration spokesman expressed the hope that the Iran deal would help bring a resolution to the ancient conflict, this is at best naïve.   Nothing will end the conflict until the Messiah comes and sorts out the religious mess that is today’s world. Meanwhile, the US will be seen as siding with the Shi’ites against the Sunnis.   Tehran and Damascus must be celebrating at this development.

The Iranian deal brings to mind I Thessalonians 5:3 :  “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail Upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (KJV).

Thankfully, Jesus Christ is returning to end the spiritual confusion. “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.”  (Matthew 24:22).

INTERNATIONAL NEWS DESK

syriza

Syriza was described on the BBC World Service this morning as a “very left-wing party.”   It looks as if it will come to power in Greece this Sunday, January 25th.

The big issue, as is common in western democracies, is the economy.   In the case of Greece, this means austerity, which, in turn, means the euro.

In May, 2010, faced with imminent national bankruptcy, the European Central Bank, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (the so called troika) bailed out the small Mediterranean country, while imposing strict austerity on the Greeks.   Austerity measures were increased in 2011 resulting in very high unemployment, especially amongst the young.   The measures were extremely unpopular.   Much of the blame was given to the euro, Germany and Angela Merkel.

Today, Syriza is threatening to unilaterally halve the debt, to end Greece’s national “humiliation” and if necessary, to leave the euro. Angela Merkel has indicated she is ok with a Grexit, the term being used for a Greek exit.

One concern is that, if one country withdraws, others will follow.   The eurozone could unravel.   Although not a member of the eurozone, Great Britain could pull out of the EU, which, again, might influence others.

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King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died yesterday, automatically succeeded by his half-brother King Salman.   Little change is likely in the kingdom in the immediate future.   The two kings come from a total of 45 brothers and half-brothers.   However, King Salman, aged 79, is likely the last of the present generation.

King Abdullah’s passing is ill-timed.   He has been king since 2005 and before that was de facto monarch for ten years as the previous king had suffered a serious stroke.   So, for twenty years, he has been the most powerful man in Saudi Arabia and a major figure in the Middle East.   His knowledge and experience will be sorely missed.

This is a challenging time for the Arabian peninsula, home of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), perpetrators of the Paris terror attack.   Yemen’s pro-American government resigned this week as rebels seized the capital.   At the same time, another neighbor, Oman, will soon lose its leader, the pro-western Sultan Qaboos, who is now 74 and has been suffering from an undisclosed medical condition, which has resulted in him being rarely seen in public.

King Abdullah has been involved in bringing down the price of oil.   If the king had wanted to, he could have reversed the falling price simply by cutting Saudi production, but he didn’t.

He has also played a major role in supporting western efforts at fighting IS (Islamic State) and supporting Sunni rebels against Syria’s leader, who is allied to Saudi Arabia’s enemy, Shia Iran.   It should be noted here that Iran’s leader will attend a memorial for King Abdullah tomorrow.   Under Islamic custom, the king was buried today.

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Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the death of Sir Winston Churchill. He died on 24th January 1965.

His official biographer is Sir Martin Gilbert.   Sir Martin spends two months every year at conservative Hillsdale College in Michigan, where he lectures on Churchill.   He has willed his extensive Churchill library to the college.

A few years ago, a student invited me to go with him to one of the lectures.

I asked Sir Martin to sign my copy of his one volume book on Churchill, which he gladly did.   I also took the opportunity to ask him a question:   “If Churchill had never lived, what would have happened in World War Two?”   His response was:   “We wouldn’t have gotten very far.”   His lecture that evening illustrated his point.

That evening’s talk was on the sinking of the French fleet after the fall of France.

Churchill ordered that the fleet should be sunk so that it would not fall into the hands of the Germans.   Hundreds of French naval personnel died in the British attack on the fleet.   The incident remains controversial to this day.   Not only did it deny the Germans the use of the fleet, it had the added side benefit of convincing US President Franklin Roosevelt to back Churchill.    He was now convinced that the British war-time leader would stop at nothing to win the war.

The western world desperately needs a Churchill now.

EUROPE ON US FISCAL CRISIS

economist sphere

“Imagine you are in a taxi and the driver suddenly turns violently and speeds towards a wall, tires screeching, only to stop at the very last moment, inches from the bricks — and cheerfully informs you that he wants to do the same to you in three months time.  Would you be grateful that he has not killed you? Or would you wonder why you chose his cab in the first place?  This is the journey Congress has taken the American people on over the past few weeks.

“….the country’s long-term fiscal problem is immense: it taxes like a small-government country but spends like a big-government one.  Eventually demography — and the huge tribe of retiring baby-boomers who expect pensions and health care — will bankrupt the country.  By the IMF’s calculation, if America is to reduce its debt to what it regards as a sensible level by 2030, allowing for all this age-related spending, it needs a ‘fiscal adjustment’ of 11.7% of GDP — more than any other advanced country other than Japan.”

(“Worse than Europe, really”.  Economist October 19th)