Tag Archives: Ireland

WHY, OH WHY, OH WHY?

Fifty years ago, I became friends with a Muslim immigrant who had moved to the UK from India.   At the time, there were very few Muslims in the area where I lived.   I asked him what he could do as a Muslim in such a remote location.   He said it was the duty of every Muslim to help spread Islam wherever he goes.

Salman Rushdie, the writer persecuted for his book “Satanic Verses” and a former Muslim, speaking in New York over ten years ago (and broadcast on C-Span), said:   ‘When a Muslim moves from the Middle East to Detroit, he is not looking to take advantage of America’s freedoms to better himself; rather, he sees himself as part of the advance guard to spread Islam to America.”

When you hear a Muslim spokesperson on a television news program, keep the above in mind.

Yesterday, Wednesday, approximately 36 hours after the Manchester suicide bombing and following press reports that the perpetrator worshipped at the local Didsbury mosque, a trustee of the mosque addressed the press, distancing his mosque from the bombing, while at the same time inviting members of the public to come and join them, taking the opportunity to proselityze.

“The doors of the centre are open to all – they are open to all.    “Some media reports have reported that the bomber worked at the Manchester Islamic Centre – this is not true, he has never worked in this centre.                                                                                                                         “We are concerned about anti-Muslim acts ranging from verbal abuse to acts of criminal damage to mosques in the area and outside the area.”

As you can tell from the last sentence, he also took the opportunity to halt any anti-Muslim backlash that could follow the bombing that killed mostly young white girls attending a concert in the Manchester Arena.

The youngest was 8 years old.   As this is unlikely to be the last suicide bombing, we need to ask why we can no longer protect our children.

The suicide bomber was the son of Libyan refugees who fled to England in the 1990’s.

An Australian Muslim psychiatrist born in Bangladesh, writing about the Manchester terror incident, called Wednesday for restrictions on Muslim immigrants into the West. His article appeared in The Spectator Australia.   “Refugees have trouble integrating,” said Tanveer Ahmed.

The only solution to the problem of Islamic terror in western countries is to change immigration policies that have allowed this dangerous situation to develop over the last five decades.

The best commentary on the bombing was on the Gatestone Institute’s website.   Note the following three paragraphs.

  • “After hearing of the Manchester terrorist attack, politicians once more communicated their by now old-routine of “shock” and “grief” at the predictable outcome of their own policies.
  • “Most dumbfounding of all, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she was watching the developments in Manchester “with grief and horror” and that she found the attack “incomprehensible.”
  • “Every time a European leader publicly endorses Islam as a great faith, a “religion of peace,” or claims that violence in Islam is a “perversion of a great faith,” despite massive evidence to the contrary, they signal in the strongest way possible that with every devastating attack, the West is ripe for the taking.” (5/22/17 ‘Manchester:  Europe still “Shocked! Shocked!”’ by Judith Bergman)

Ms. Bergman is absolutely correct in writing that Monday’s horror was the result of political decisions taken in recent decades, particularly when it comes to immigration.   It’s almost fifty years since a famous British politician denounced the country’s immigration policies, saying the nation was “building up its own funeral pyre.”   Enoch Powell, MP, had to resign his position in the Conservative party for, as is now clear, speaking the truth.

Jonathan Ive, Apple’s Chief Design Officer, sensing the changing public mood on immigration, said Thursday that immigrants are vital for the UK economy.   This is meant to scare people into accepting more immigrants, some of whom will, inevitably, be Muslims; and some of those extremists.   What he should have called for is a ban on all abortions.   This will mean a higher birthrate and, in time, will provide those extra people for the British economy.

Immigration policy must change.  The fact remains, following the attack by Salman Abedi, a British born Libyan, that if his parents had not been allowed into the UK, 22 ethnic English (those whose ancestors have lived there for centuries) would still be alive; and over sixty others would not be dealing with potentially life-changing injuries.

It’s no good just increasing the numbers of police and army personnel on the streets, or spending more on intelligence gathering – until something is done about immigration it will all be fruitless.

And talking of intelligence, Mrs. May was correct in her response to US intelligence releasing information from England to the New York Times. Intelligence services need to be very careful about betraying one another’s confidences.   The arrangement between the US and UK dates back 75 years, to 1942.   Australia, Canada and New Zealand were included more recently.   These Anglophone nations need to be able to trust each other.   After a face-to-face discussion with Theresa May earlier today, President Trump has promised to find the source of the leaks and punish those responsible.

One final thought on Britain and terrorism:   the British have a history of compromising with terrorism, starting with Ireland a century ago and continuing until the Good Friday Agreement twenty years ago.   After World War II, Jewish terrorists blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, an act that led to Britain withdrawing from the mandated territory; even though the British defeated the Mau Mau in Kenya, they gave the terrorists what they wanted; the same in Cyprus; in the 70’s they handed over Rhodesia to terrorists led by Robert Mugabe; and then worked on South Africa to hand over to Nelson Mandela, a terrorist leader who was responsible for the deaths of 200 people.   The lesson repeatedly learned is that terrorism works!

This time, the British are fighting for their homeland, the United Kingdom – will they once again compromise with the forces of evil?

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SOLVING CENTURIES-OLD PROBLEMS

Prior to visiting Jerusalem, Mr. Trump was in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam and home of one of its strictest sects, the Wahhabi sect of Islam.  Wahhabis believe that all non-believers are infidels and enemies and they have a history of violence directed at non-Muslims.  This includes September 11th, when 15 of the 19 hijackers had Saudi citizenship. Even the attack in Manchester has its origins in Wahhabism, by way of ISIS.

Saudis have helped finance terrorism around the world and continue to provide imams for taxpayer-funded chaplaincy programs in the US, as well as new mosques around the world.   The “help” Saudi Arabia promised Germany when the latter took in over a million refugees, was to offer to build 200 new mosques.

But oil, as we all know, is very important and the Saudis happen to be one of the world’s biggest producers and the country that determines the price of the black gold.

Saudi Arabia is also of strategic importance and an avowed enemy of Iran.  Their differences go back to the seventh century when Shia Islam broke away from the majority Sunni Islam.   Today, Saudi Arabia backs Sunnis throughout the Middle East against Shia Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.   Some wealthy Saudis have even backed ISIS, an organization that supports Sunnis against the Shia.

With a visit to the world’s three main religious centers, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican, President Trump is working on achieving a comprehensive Middle East peace, hoping to succeed where all his predecessors have failed.

He should remember the words of the Apostle Paul.   In his First Epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul looked ahead to the time prior to Christ’s Second Coming when there is much talk of world peace.  For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman.   And they shall not escape.”  (I Thess. 5:3).

The US has the power and influence to impose a peace treaty on the Israelis and Palestinians – but it won’t last.   The latter will ultimately not embrace peace until the country of Israel ceases to exist. How can you negotiate with people who are committed to your destruction?

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LACK OF KNOWLEDGE

A news item a few days ago revealed that attendance at Church of England services in the United Kingdom is increasing, after decades of decline.   This is attributed partly to the rise of English nationalism, as evidenced by Brexit.

Whatever the reasons, it might eventually help the BBC.

On Monday’s 9am broadcast on BBC World News, Lyse Doucet, a BBC journalist from Canada, was standing in front of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem awaiting the arrival of President Trump and his wife.   As the president was delayed, Lyse Doucet recapped on Mr. & Mrs. Trump’s visit to what she described as the most important Christian religious site in the world, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which witnessed the “death, burial and reconstruction of Jesus Christ”.

I think she meant “resurrection.”

Which brings me to Little Emily, a 5-year-old girl featured in our local newspaper two or three years ago.   Her Baptist pastor was giving a sermon on Easter Sunday and asked the children what they knew about the resurrection. 5-year-old Emily raised her hand and kept saying:   “I know! I know!”

So the pastor asked her to tell the congregation what she knew about the resurrection.   Her reply made it into the local paper.   “If you experience a resurrection lasting more than four hours, you need to go to the doctor.”

Reportedly, the pastor was unable to finish his sermon.

Maybe one day Emily could work for the BBC, as their Religious Affairs Correspondent!

 

 

BORIS JOHNSON MAKES BREXIT MORE LIKELY

Boris Johnson

Donald Trump has a new rival, a fellow New Yorker no less.  Like Mr. Trump, the newcomer is causing just as much turmoil in political circles. He can even rival The Donald with his famous hair.

Boris Johnson (born 19 June, 1964, in New York) is a British politician, popular historian and journalist who has served as Mayor of London since 2008 and as Member of Parliament (MP) for Uxbridge and South Ruislip since 2015.  Mr. Johnson is a popular figure in British politics.

Mr. Johnson attended the same exclusive private school that Prime Minister David Cameron attended.  Later they both attended Oxford University at the same time.  They are two members of Britain’s elite and have been best friends for decades.  That could change now.

While Mr. Cameron is fighting to keep Britain in the European Union (EU), Boris Johnson on Sunday declared himself opposed.  Mr. Johnson will support the “Leave” campaign.  He is in favor of a Brexit, a British exit from the organization.

As the Wall Street Journal put it:  “Mr. Johnson is the most prominent politician to break with the prime minister ahead of the June 23 referendum.”

It should be noted that if the vote goes against Mr. Cameron, he will likely face a “No Confidence” vote in parliament.  If he loses, Mr. Johnson could be his replacement as prime minister.  Unlike Americans, the Brits don’t have laws precluding those born overseas from holding office.  Besides, Mr. Johnson’s parents were both upper middle class English.   Mr. Johnson recently wrote a biography of fellow Conservative Winston Churchill, a predecessor who also had definite American connections.   (His book, “The Churchill Factor” is well worth reading.)

If this sounds awfully like the 1930’s all over again, there are definite similarities, though nobody is threatening violence this time, not right now anyway.

The pro-European faction in parliament is led by Mr. Cameron.  He returned from Brussels late on Friday, promising the equivalent of Neville Chamberlain’s “peace in our time.”   The prime minister announced that agreement had been reached with EU leaders that will serve Britain well.  Consequently, Mr. Cameron will recommend Britain remain a member of the European club.

It came as a surprise on Sunday when Boris Johnson came out publicly against continued membership.  Like Mr. Churchill in 1938 he is concerned to protect Britain’s sovereignty in light of European developments toward a trans-national super-state.  This time it’s not Berlin that concerns him so much as Brussels, the capital of the EU.   But Berlin is a factor as the European project is dominated by Germany.

The European Union began with the 1957 Treaty of Rome, which pledges member countries to form “an ever closer union.”   This does not mean a United States of Europe along USA lines. This could never happen, as the dynamics are very different.   What is far more likely to emerge is something akin to the Holy Roman Empire, which lasted for a thousand years until it was broken up by Napoleon in 1806.

Dictionary.com defines the Holy Roman Empire as follows:

“a Germanic empire located chiefly in central Europe that began with the coronation of Charlemagne as Roman emperor in AD 800 . . . and ended with the renunciation of the Roman imperial title by Francis II in 1806, and was regarded theoretically as the continuation of the Western Empire and as the temporal form of a universal dominion whose spiritual head was the pope.”

The EU has been working toward something similar since its inception almost six decades ago.   It’s already the world’s biggest single market and trading power.   The common currency called the euro rivals the US dollar as a global currency.     Politically it’s more united than ever and there is some progress toward a European military.

For Britain, all this is bad news.  Not even the pro-EU politicians want the UK to be a part of a European super-state.  They want to keep their independence or, rather, what’s left of it.  They want to stay out of the euro and do not want to go any further toward an “ever closer union” or join a European military force.  Mr. Cameron received assurances from the other 27 members of the EU that Britain can stay out of all three.  He was also given some relief on the financial costs to British tax-payers having to pay benefits to EU migrants from the East, but only for seven years.

But anti-EU politicians and members of the public are still insecure about the future.

It’s not surprising really when you consider Britain’s history.  For centuries Britain looked beyond the seas to its colonies and, later, the Commonwealth and the United States, remaining outside of Europe, only getting involved when threatened by a Napoleon, the Kaiser or Hitler.

In 1962, former US Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, observed that: “Britain has lost an empire and not yet found a role.” In the same year, US President John Kennedy expressed his support for Britain joining what was then called the Common Market.  Canada’s Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker, was very much against Britain joining, expressing his concern that it could mean the end of the Commonwealth of which Canada was a founding member.

America wanted Britain “in” so as to have a reliable pro-American voice in the European club.  The US also wanted free trade to boost American exports to Europe.

If the United Kingdom votes to leave the EU, there will likely be far greater repercussions than can presently be seen.  These will not just be economic.  44% of Britain’s exports go to other EU nations – a “no” vote could jeopardize these exports as tariffs exist on imports from non-member countries.

Other repercussions could include the following:

  1. The EU could be less co-operative with the USA.
  1. A British exit from the EU could encourage a Scottish exit from the UK, as it seems most Scots want to stay in the EU.
  1. Ireland would be negatively affected, with 40% of its imports coming from the UK and 17% of its exports going to Britain.
  1. Germany will become more dominant.  Only Britain and France are big enough right now to restrain the central European giant.  Take away Britain and it’s down to France.   France’s priority right now is Islamic terrorism. Germany will be able to go full steam ahead toward its dream of a revived European empire, already referred to by some as the Fourth Reich.  The Holy Roman Empire was the first reich (or empire), that lasted a thousand years; the Kaisers were the second reich; Hitler promised his Third Reich would last a thousand years like the first one, but it only lasted twelve.
  1. There will be a lot of bad feeling if Britain leaves.  Other EU members will not be inclined to bend over backwards to help the Brits through a difficult transition period.   Concessions on trade will be unlikely.  It could also end shared security arrangements at a time when there are increased security risks with Islamic militancy.
  1. International companies operating in Britain could move to other countries.  Many companies have based themselves in the UK to gain advantage in selling goods to other EU countries.  Faced with high tariffs to keep out non-EU goods, they are likely to move elsewhere, leaving greater unemployment in their wake.
  1. There is also a possibility that some other EU members may follow Britain out the door.   Whereas countries at the center of Europe have a long history of strong government from the center, those on the northern periphery have not.  Although some may sympathize with the British position, they may decide it’s not economically feasible to leave as trade with Germany and other nations is too great.

Some of the southern members may also opt to leave so that they can print their own money and boost employment.

Bible prophecy shows that a revived European super-state will include ten nations.

“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)

However, this does not rule out the possibility of other countries being closely tied to the ten.  This would be very similar to the Holy Roman Empire where some territories were ruled directly from the center, but others were more loosely attached.

Additionally, dozens of countries around the world are tied to the EU through the Lomé Convention, named after the capital of Togo.  The agreement came into being a couple of years after Britain joined the EU.  It tied British former colonies to the European trading system, along with French, Belgian and Portuguese.  The EU is by far the leading world trading power.

It’s surprising then that there’s little interest in the outcome of the British referendum in the American media.  Any mention of the European Union solicits a big yawn.  But the reality is that Boris Johnson may out-Trump Donald Trump in the upheaval he may cause across the pond!

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TRAGEDY IN KALAMAZOO

Kalamazoo is a big city that’s only an hour’s drive from where we live.  Saturday night it fell victim to the latest American mass shooting, when a 45-year-old Uber driver shot dead six people and seriously injured two others.  In between killing people, he picked up and drove passengers to their destinations.

The lack of motive is disturbing.  So is the following paragraph from the BBC’s website:

“One of the seriously injured, a 14-year-old girl, was believed to have been dead for more than an hour when she squeezed her mother’s hand as doctors were preparing to harvest her organs, police officer Dale Hinz told Michigan Live.”

 

 

ANGLO-SAXON DELUSIONS

UK and eu

According to the British Daily Express on Friday, 92% of the British people are now against remaining in the European Union.

This means that Prime Minister David Cameron’s gamble has not paid off. Mr. Cameron hoped that by gaining some concessions from his EU partners, the British people would vote to remain in the 28-nation bloc.

What’s defeated him is the migrant crisis.

“Shock poll result as asylum claims rocket yet again,” is the remainder of the front-page headline. The British people feel like they are being invaded and that the British way of life is seriously threatened. One of my brothers put it well when he said you don’t hear English spoken any more at the local “precinct” (mall).

This is not a recent phenomenon sparked by the mass exodus of people fleeing Syria. It’s been going on for some time. Migrants take advantage of Britain’s generous welfare system. They will cross a dozen countries in Europe to get to the United Kingdom, when international rules on asylum say you should apply for asylum status at the first country you go to.

The British only have themselves to blame.   Firstly, in joining the EU in the first place; secondly, in having such generous welfare benefits; thirdly, by, unbelievably, distributing leaflets on claiming benefits in British Council offices around the world.   This was the way it was when we lived in Ghana.   The British Council was a British taxpayer funded library and information center in the Ghanaian capital and in the second biggest city of Kumasi.   Leaflets on their information table promoted all the freebies available once an individual arrived in London.   Britons should remember St. Paul’s admonition: “If a man doesn’t work, neither should he eat.” (II Thessalonians 3:10)

Under EU rules, anybody moving from country to country within the EU is entitled to receive benefits from his/her new country upon arrival. All people have to do is get to the EU, from where they can easily move to Britain. This is causing serious financial problems in the UK and is widely resented.

Question:  if Britain leaves the EU, where will she go? What will she do?

The Norwegian Foreign Minister, visiting Britain last week, cautioned the UK on leaving. Norway is NOT a member but often pays a heavy price for not being allowed to make decisions on European trading policies, dictated from Brussels.

Prior to entering the European Economic Community, the predecessor of the EU, Britain had close trading ties with its former colonies, the four Dominions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.   These countries now have different priorities.

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The term “dominions” is not used any more, except in Canada, whose official name is “Dominion of Canada.” Australia is the “Commonwealth of Australia.” Collectively, the four nations mentioned were termed the “Dominions.” When I was growing up, the British government had a special minister to handle relations with these nations, they were so important. He was the Secretary for the Dominions. The dominions each had the Westminster system of parliamentary government with the British monarch as Head of State.

“New Brunswick premier Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley suggested the term ‘Dominion,’ inspired by Psalm 72:8 (from the King James Bible): “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.” This is also echoed in Canada’s motto:  A Mari Usque Ad Mare (Latin for “from sea to sea”). The term had been used for centuries to refer to the lands held by a monarch, and had previously been adopted as titles for the Dominion of New England and the Dominion and Colony of Virginia. (Wikipedia: “Name of Canada”)”

These dominions, together with Britain itself, were the number one military and economic power in the world prior to the United States.   They were the only nations that fought against fascism in World War II from beginning to end. In World War I, they led the fight against German militarism.

In June 1953, the prime ministers of these countries, who then comprised the British Commonwealth, met in London to discuss security matters. They had been in the capital for the coronation of the queen. Sir Winston Churchill chaired the meeting. Sir Robert Menzies, the Australian prime minister and an ardent monarchist, was also present.

Two of the issues they discussed were the Korean War, in which the Commonwealth played a major role; and the new radical government in Egypt, which had overthrown the Egyptian monarchy. The new nationalist government wanted to seize the Anglo-French Suez Canal, an artery of the British Empire, giving Britain ready access to its territories in the east.

In 1956 the Egyptians seized the canal. The British and French, together with the Israelis, invaded Egypt to take the canal back.   Unexpectedly, US President Dwight D. Eisenhower told them to stop and threatened the UK with severe economic consequences if the country went ahead with its plans.

This spelled the end of the British Empire. It was clear that Britain could no longer continue as a global power.   Britain’s colonies were rapidly given independence, most of them joining the Commonwealth, which became meaningless. Today, 94% of the people in the Commonwealth are Asians or Africans. This has totally transformed the organization from what it was in 1953. Most member nations are republics, though they still recognize the Queen as the Head of the Commonwealth.

Now, it’s America’s turn to start pulling back from international commitments.

If Britain pulls out of the EU, it presents Australia with an opportunity. Instead of severing the last tie with Britain, the country could propose a reactivation of the alliance that existed right up until Bob Menzies was PM. The four nations that were founder members of the original Commonwealth (South Africa, Rhodesia and Newfoundland were the other three) could once again be a formidable force, with a global reach. Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom could have a major presence in the world again. Queen Elizabeth II is queen of all four countries, in herself a unifying symbol.   This does not mean Britain would be in the lead.   But all four, working together, would be a positive force in the world.   They have a great deal in common, including a commitment to the freedom of the individual and the rule of law. A formal, more meaningful relationship between the four could also bolster the US led western alliance, at a time of growing disillusionment and disinterest in the US.

It’s such a good idea, it’s unlikely to happen. Australia and New Zealand will more likely continue to pursue closer ties with Asia; the UK pursuing a differed European model. Further examples of Anglo-Saxon delusions.

The result is the continuing decline and fragmentation of the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic peoples who, a century ago, dominated the world.

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The US Administration is also delusional.

Amidst clear signs that the economy is slowing down, unemployment has dropped to below 5% for the first time in a few years. This is due to the way the unemployment figures are calculated and has little to do with reality.   The figure is based on how many people are receiving unemployment benefits and are actively looking for work. As benefits are for a limited time only, the numbers decline over time. Additionally, millions of people have simply given up looking for work.

Another sign of spreading delusion is the federal deficit. It passed $19 trillion last week and hardly got a mention. Nobody cares anymore. It appears that nobody in Washington has any concept of why the country should live within its means.   Of course, few people, mere mortals included, has any idea how to balance a budget, so it’s not surprising our leaders get away with it. Somebody once described credit cards as “45 days to reality” – it may take longer for the US to reach its “pay by” date, but it will come and when it does economic upheaval will follow.

Further delusion was shown when the President visited a mosque Thursday, as a guest of the Islamic Society of Baltimore.   Stressing how Muslims were involved in America from the beginning, he continued to build on the false idea that this country is based on Judeo-Christian-Islamic principles and that Islam, together with the other two religions, is a religion of peace.

None of this is based on reality. Yes, some Muslims were brought to America as slaves, but they did not retain their religion. The book “Muslims in America” says the first recorded Muslim was an American who converted after his travels in the Middle East. This was after the Civil War. The first mosque was opened in Chicago in 1929. The mosque visited on Thursday is only 47 years old. As for Islam being a “religion of peace,” history shows otherwise.

Perhaps there’s no time to read history when you’re President of the United States!

There’s no time for geography, either, when you are running for president. Marco Rubio has upset both the Swedes and the Norwegians by suggesting that one of his rivals should run for president in one of the two Scandinavian countries. The two nations are quite upset with this suggestion – they have never had a president. Nor do they want one. Can you blame them after being exposed to all the debates on CNN?

Note the following comment from a Swedish magazine:

“The thing with some American politicians, such as Sarah Palin, is – I don’t want to use the word stupid, but I do. They are. They are so ignorant about the rest of the world. They think there are two monarchies in the world. And that’s the UK and Monaco, because of Grace Kelly.”

– Roger Lundgren editor of Sweden’s Kungliga (Royal) magazine

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The presidential candidates did not just sleep through history and geography classes, they dozed off during English classes as well. In one of the Republican debates, I was introduced to the following new words:   “vigorousness” (Ted Cruz) and “falseness” (Rand Paul, who has since dropped out, hopefully to take further English classes!)  Donald Trump also expanded my vocabulary.  Thankfully, those words were bleeped out!

The Democrats, meanwhile, argued over the meaning of the word “progressive.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FATHER OF ENGLAND’S RULING DYNASTY

 (My brother Nigel's official website is http://www.nigelrhodesfineart.com/.   He has been in the art business for over 30 years.   This picture is of the portrait he has for sale.)
My brother, Nigel, has been in the art business for over 30 years. This picture is of the rare portrait of George I, by C. Fontaine, he has for sale.

My brother Nigel in England asked me to write this article to accompany a portrait of King George I that is being sold by his art and antique business.   I find George I interesting, so here is the story.   (My brother’s official website is http://www.nigelrhodesfineart.com/.)

The first Hanoverian king did not get the dynasty off to a good start.

So desperate were the English to guarantee the Protestant succession after Queen Anne’s death in 1714, that they turned to a distant relative who lived in Germany and asked him to become King.   More than fifty closer relatives were passed over because of their Roman Catholicism.   It had taken almost two centuries to secure England’s freedom from Rome – there was clearly no turning back.

George I was King of Great Britain and Ireland from August 1st, 1714, to his death in 1727.   At the same time, he retained his German titles that he had held since 1698. He was also ruler of the Duchy of Brunswick-Luneberg and Elector of the Holy Roman Empire.   His two successors, George II and George III would also hold the same titles, until the dismantling of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806.

George I was never comfortable speaking English.   If someone did not speak his native German, he would converse in French.

Although the people were thankful to have a protestant monarch, George was never popular.   He had a bad reputation even before he arrived on England’s shores.   After his wife had committed adultery with a Swedish guardsman, he had the man murdered and then imprisoned her and would not let her see their two children, one of whom was the future George II.   While Prince of Wales, the future George II, was anxious for the death of his father, not so much to be king himself, but to be able to see his mother again.   However, she died shortly before her husband.

“He was by nature neither warm nor congenial (“the Elector is so cold that he freezes everything into ice,” his cousin remarked), and those who had to deal with him soon discovered that beneath his shy, benign reserve their lurked a deeply suspicious, even vindictive nature.   Accustomed to unquestioning obedience, George was selfish and easily offended. And once offence was given, the wrong could never be made right.” (Royal Panoply, George I, by Carolly Erickson, 2003.)

When George became king, he journeyed to England to ascend the throne, but had intended to return to Hanover as soon as possible. His acceptance of his new responsibility owed more to his conviction that it would be good for Hanover, than to any desire to serve the British people.

The year after his ascension, he faced rebellion at home. Jacobites, loyal to the Catholic Stuarts, wanted to place the son of James II on the throne of England, Scotland and Ireland.   When the Pretender landed in Scotland and raised his standard against the king, many Scottish towns declared themselves for James.   But George was resolute – he had faced the Turks and the French and was not about to be defeated by the Stuart usurper. James soon returned to France, discouraged by the lack of support he received from the people.

Immediately after this victory, George returned to Hanover, one of five visits he made to his old home during his reign. At the time, Hanover was at war with Sweden. George had allied his electorate with Peter the Great, Czar of Russia, in hopes of acquiring territory from the Swedes after their defeat.   But George was soon faced with a crisis in his new home and had to return to London, where the government had degenerated into squabbles.

Without realizing it, after 1720, George contributed to the modern democracy that has given the United Kingdom three centuries of stability. Robert Walpole was his first prime minister. Indeed, he was also the first prime minister of the country, one of the most competent prime ministers in a long line of, arguably, questionable heads of government.   Walpole blended the power of the Crown with the growing power of parliament, in a balance that remains with us to this day.

Although the king shunned public appearances, on warm summer nights, he would board his open barge at Whitehall with a small party of friends, travelling upriver to Chelsea.   Other barges would soon join the royal barge, one of which had a full orchestra of fifty musicians on board.   The music they played filled the air and was very popular with Londoners.   George had brought with him his favorite musician George Frederick Handel, who composed much of the music played on these royal evenings, music that is still popular today.

George will also be remembered for the South Sea Bubble, one of the greatest financial catastrophes in history. Its collapse ruined thousands of people.

The company was set up to refinance thirty thousand pounds of government debt, a vast sum in those days. The debts were converted into shares of the company’s stock. As investors rushed in to make a killing, the value of the shares kept rising, shares in other companies rising along with them. Inevitably, the bubble burst and the shares became worthless.   As the king was the Governor of the company, he got the blame, inspiring the Jacobites to plan another insurrection, which also failed.

While George I may not be anybody’s favorite monarch, his legacy lives on to this day in his descendant Queen Elizabeth II. George I founded a dynasty, which has lasted more than three centuries and given the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth Realms unrivalled political stability. For this we should all be thankful. Thanks also to the first Hanoverian who had a small part in this achievement.

 

HOMAGE TO AUSTRALIA

 

Australian soldiers at Galipoli
Australian soldiers at Gallipoli

The Woman in Gold is a movie that’s showing in cinemas right now.   It tells the true story of an elderly American Jewish lady who takes the Austrian government to court to reclaim a family painting that was stolen by the Nazis during the 1938 Anschluss, when the vast majority of Austrians welcomed Adolf Hitler’s annexation of his home country.

The movie stars Helen Mirren as the elderly lady and Ryan Reynolds as her lawyer.

In one scene, Reynolds is sending a package to the Austrian government from somewhere in Los Angeles.   The man behind the desk commented on how he had always wanted to go to Austria.   His daughter, he added, loves kangaroos!

He’s not the only person who is ignorant of Australia.   Americans, in particular, have difficulty telling the difference between an Australian and a British accent.   I’ve often had people ask me which part of Australia I come from. Unlike many of my compatriots, this does not upset me – I consider it a great honor to be taken as an Aussie.   If I were 24, instead of 64, I would move there.   Australia has an American lifestyle without the frenetic pace that makes life in the US so stressful.

Tomorrow, April 25th, is Australia’s special day – ANZAC Day, a commemoration of Australia’s losses in the wars of the last century. ANZAC stands for the “Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.”

It’s exactly a hundred years since the great battle that was a defining moment for the new countries.   Australia became a Dominion of the British Empire in 1901; New Zealand in 1905. Dominion status meant they were independent but still a part of the Empire, which was transforming into a Commonwealth, united in a common loyalty to the Crown, fulfilling the biblical prophecy of “a multitude of nations” (Genesis 48:19), descended from the patriarch Joseph’s son, Ephraim.

When the British went to war in August 1914, these two dominions, together with the other dominions and colonies of the Empire, went to war as well.   The Australians quickly took over German territories in the Pacific.   But it’s the Battle of Gallipoli, which is remembered most and commemorated on this day, the day the conflict started.   It was to last over eight months.

Gallipoli is a peninsula in North West Turkey.   It’s sometimes called the Dardenelles.   At the time, Turkey was called the Ottoman Empire. In November, 1914, it made the fatal mistake of allying itself with the two central European empires, Germany and Austria-Hungary, against Great Britain and its allies.   Less than ten years later, the Ottoman Empire collapsed and was replaced by the Turkish Republic.   The founder of the republic was Kemal Ataturk, who was one of the military commanders on the Ottoman side at Gallipoli.

The battle was a military disaster for the Allies. Australians, New Zealanders, the British and French all fought there and lost a great number of men, many on the first day when soldiers were landed on a thin strip of beach, looking up cliffs at Ottoman positions, cannon fodder for the enemy.   They fought valiantly.   Ataturk afterwards talked of their bravery.   Turkey’s president is hosting a commemoration today, a gathering of world leaders including Prince Charles and Prince Harry.   Harry is currently serving with the Australian military.   Commonwealth ties remain, even though they have been weakened in recent decades.   The prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand laid wreaths.   The President of Ireland was also present, a reminder that Ireland was then a part of the United Kingdom and lost many of its native sons in this battle.

74,000 Anzac troops fought at Gallipoli. 10,000 died.   To understand the full impact of that loss, let’s remember these were troops from two new countries, that were thinly populated.   At the time, the United States had just over 100 million people, the UK 40 million. Australia’s population in 1915 was under five million.   New Zealand’s was a little over one million.   To compare the losses to the US, we need to multiply the figures by twenty.   The 10,000 dead was the equivalent of 200,000 American losses, or 80,000 British servicemen.

The British lost 25,000 at Gallipoli, out of a total of 350,000 men.   The French also suffered heavy losses, 10,000 out of 79,000 men.

On the other side, the Turks lost 86,000 out of 400,000 combatants.

The figures are staggering, far greater than losses suffered in recent conflicts.

And the sobering reality is that the war was so unnecessary.   Some wars were unavoidable – World War Two, for instance, when the Western powers had to defeat the evil of fascism.   Ironically, if World War One had not been fought, there would have been no World War Two.

If the Ottoman Empire had not been defeated, its constituent territories would not have been carved up, ultimately creating the modern Middle East.   The ripple effect of that first global conflict of the twentieth century continues to this day.   The wars we are fighting now all originated in World War One.

Australia, it should be noted, is the only country to have fought in all these conflicts from beginning to end.   Gallipoli was just the start (in fact, Australians had been fighting in the Empire’s wars even before independence).   Australia was always ready to fight alongside the British to preserve freedom in a dangerous world. After World War Two, when America became the pre-eminent power, Australians fought alongside Americans in all America’s wars.

The land down under is an under-appreciated country.   It’s time to publicly pay homage to a great nation that has done so much for the western world.

Let’s remember and give thanks for their many sacrifices on this ANZAC day.

SYRIZA WINS GREEK ELECTION

Alexis Tsipras

In the last few weeks we’ve developed a taste for Kerrygold butter, which comes from Ireland.   Diane did the research – Kerrygold and Anchor (from New Zealand) are the two healthiest butters you can buy.   The milk comes from “happy” cows!

Unfortunately, Kerrygold costs more than regular butter.

In theory, the price should have come down recently as the euro has fallen in value against the US dollar.   It now takes only $1.11 to buy a euro; it was twenty-five cents higher fairly recently.   Ireland uses the euro, so the price of everything they produce should have come down with the lower value of the euro.   But the price of Kerrygold has not fallen – in fact, it’s gone up by 50 cents for half a pound.   (We can’t buy Anchor in Lansing but it, too, should have fallen in price as the US dollar has risen.)   Not only has the euro decreased in value, transportation costs have also fallen with the drop in the price of oil.

My favorite beer also comes from Ireland.   I don’t buy it as often as butter (you will be pleased to know) but I’m hoping that the price has not similarly risen.

Sometimes, there’s no logic when it comes to money and exchange rates.   All money today is built simply on confidence.   The value of the dollar and the British pound usually rise when there is great turmoil in the world – people around the world have more confidence in the two older democracies, which have a longer record of stability.   When the euro was launched in January 1999, its’ value was $1.1743. It reached its highest rate against the dollar in July, 2008, when it took $1.6038 to buy a euro.   This was at a time when confidence in the US currency was low.   It’s now almost a third less against the greenback.

Monday will likely see a further fall in the value of the euro, so perhaps I should expect Kerrygold to go up in price again, when it should, in fact, come down.

The reason that the euro will likely drop further in value is the Greek election held today, Sunday.   The “very left-wing” party, Syriza, has been voted into power.   The party campaigned on a promise to end austerity, imposed on the country for its extreme profligacy.

The party leader, Alexis Tsipras, rather naively hopes that he can cut Greece’s debts by 50% in a new deal with the troika (the European Central Bank, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund).   If that fails, withdrawal from the eurozone is a definite possibility.   Other members may even encourage Greece to leave before they do greater harm to the single currency.   Withdrawal would enable Greece to have its own currency.   They could then print money and print more money and then even more money . . . you get the picture.   This would not, of course, solve their problems but it might give them a temporary high.

Spain is watching developments in Greece closely.   The Spanish economy is a lot bigger than Greece’s.   It has also been going through a long period of austerity for the same reasons as Greece.   The Podemos (“We can”) party is Spain’s equivalent of Syriza.   It, too, could win the next election, due later this year.

Germany is unlikely to approve any deal for Greece that absolves them of debts owed to German taxpayers lest Spain make the same demand.

The eurozone is not really in danger, though Greece and Spain could certainly withdraw from the currency union.   Other profligate countries could follow – Italy and Portugal, for example.   Corruption is a big problem in all four countries.   Mr. Tsipras has promised to do something about it, as have other earlier prime ministers.

Nineteen countries are now members of the eurozone.   Six other European countries also use the currency.   Outside of Europe, remaining overseas territories of European countries also use it. Additionally, 210 million people worldwide use currencies pegged to the euro, including 182 million Africans.   This makes the euro the most used hard (convertible) currency in the world.

Expect further turmoil in world financial markets as well as possible changes in the composition of the EU, though few on the continent of Europe seem to want that, at this point in time.   The EU and the euro have brought many advantages and have a great deal of support.   Even Mr. Tsipras is calling first for changes that will simply end the long period of austerity that has devastated his country.

 

IRISH REMAIN COMMITTED TO EU IN SPITE OF SEVERE AUSTERITY

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The Irish Finance Minister admitted a couple of weeks ago that he cannot make any big decisions about the Irish economy until after the German elections in September.

For hundreds of years, Ireland struggled to rid itself of English control only to now find itself under German domination.  How did this happen?

In 1957, six western European nations signed the Treaty of Rome, establishing the EEC (European Economic Community, now the European Union).  In 1971, Britain negotiated entry into the EC, along with the Irish Republic and Denmark.  Ireland was so closely tied to the UK that it had no real choice in the matter.  Besides, closer ties with other European countries held out the hope of reducing the economic dependency on England.

Between 1995 and 2008, the Irish economy grew so fast it was known as the Celtic Tiger.  The Irish people were enthused about their new-found wealth and status within Europe.

In 2002, Ireland was in at the birth of the EU’s currency, the euro, which is now the currency of 17 of the, today, 28-member nations of the EU.  With 920 billion euros in circulation (notes and coins), the euro surpassed the dollar earlier this year as the world’s most used currency.

In 2008, Ireland ceased to be the Celtic Tiger with the crash in the global economy.  Along with a number of other EU countries, Ireland has had serious fiscal problems and is following a path of austerity agreed to with the “Troika” (the EU, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank).  In effect, Germany, the dominant economy of the European Union, is behind the austerity imposed on Ireland, Greece, Spain and Portugal.  Because these nations do not have their own national currencies, they have no choice but to follow the dictates imposed upon them.  The result is a great deal of unemployment and severe cuts in government spending, which are predicted to continue for the next twenty years.

Further decisions on austerity plans must await the German elections.

What is surprising is that, in Ireland, there is a greater acceptance of this situation than in the other countries struggling with austerity.  Irishmen remain committed Europeans.

They do not seem unduly concerned at their loss of sovereignty and see little future without the EU.  They are a part of what has been called “German Europe”, a distant outpost maybe, but very much a part of the German dominated eurozone that is coming together in Europe.

Could Scotland find itself in the same situation if it also breaks away from London a year from now?  A switch to the euro would likely follow independence, with increased dependency on German Europe.