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ANTI-SEMITISM – MEMORIES AND PERSONAL REFLECTIONS

Personnel from Chesed Shel Emes Emergency Services and Recovery Unit gather near the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018. Robert Bowers, the suspect in the mass shooting at the synagogue, expressed hatred of Jews during the rampage and told officers afterward that Jews were committing genocide and he wanted them all to die, according to charging documents made public Sunday. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The attack on a synagogue on the Sabbath of October 27th was the worst anti-semitic incident in American history.   Similar incidents have taken place throughout history in many countries.

When I was a child growing up in England, I remember going on a school field trip to the city of York.   At the time, I must have been 9 or 10 years of age.

The old Roman city of York is one of the most interesting cities in England.   It was here that Constantine was proclaimed Emperor in 306 AD.   Constantine later converted to Catholicism, turning away from worship of the pagan gods.   The writer, James Carroll, a former Catholic priest, traced anti-Semitism back to Constantine in his book “Constantine’s Sword.”   It was all quite simple – the Jews killed Christ, so they should be persecuted forever.  This has been the teaching of the church down through the centuries.

Four years after William the Conqueror successfully invaded England in 1066, he invited Jews from France to come over.   He believed that their commercial skills and capital would help develop the English economy.   The Jews were not allowed to purchase land (most English people could not, either), but they were allowed to practice medicine and money-lending, the latter breeding resentment against the Jews.

In 1189, following a rumor that the newly crowned King Richard I had ordered a massacre of Jews, mobs in a number of cities across the country attacked and killed Jews.  The worst incident was in the city of York the following year, just before the Passover.

“A significant loss of life occurred at York on the night of March 16 (Shabbat HaGadol,  the Shabbat before Passover) and 17 March 1190.   As crusaders prepared to leave on the Third Crusade, religious fervor resulted in several anti-Jewish violences. Josce, the leader of the Jews in York, asked the warden of York Castle to receive them with their wives and children, and they were accepted into Clifford’s Tower.   However, the tower was besieged by the mob of crusaders, demanding that the Jews convert to Christianity and be baptized.   Trapped in the castle, the Jews were advised by their religious leader, Rabbi Yomtov of Joigney, to kill themselves rather than convert; Josce began by slaying his wife Anna and his two children, and then was killed by Yomtov.   The father of each family killed his wife and children, before Yomtov and Josce set fire to the wooden keep, killing themselves.   The handful of Jews who did not kill themselves died in the fire, or were murdered by rioters.” (Wikipedia:  History of the Jews in England 1066-1290).

Clearly, upon hearing a rumor, the crowds were ready to turn against the Jews.   It should be realized that many of those in the crowd would likely have owed money to the Jewish money-lenders and this was an opportunity to cancel the debts.   Debts to Jewish money-lenders continued to be an issue and not just in England.

“As early as 1198, Pope Innocent III had written to all Christian princes, including Richard of England, calling upon them to compel the remission of all usury demanded by Jews from Christians.   This would render the Jewish community’s very existence impossible.”

“On 15 July 1205, the pope laid down the principle that Jews were doomed to perpetual servitude because they had crucified Jesus. I  n England the secular power soon followed the initiative of the Church.   John, having become indebted to the Jewish community while in Ireland, at first treated Jews with a show of forbearance.   He confirmed the charter of Rabbi Josce and his sons, and made it apply to all the Jews of England; he wrote a sharp remonstrance to the mayor of London against the attacks that were continually being made upon the Jews of that city, alone of all the cities of England.   He reappointed one Jacob archpriest of all the English Jews (12 July,1199).

OTHER REASONS FOR ANTI-SEMITISM

In 1492 Queen Isabella of Spain desired to make her country completely Catholic.   This followed the expulsion of the Muslims who had dominated the country for centuries.   The new law meant that Jews had to convert, emigrate or be burned to death.   Many fled to Poland, which was then the most liberal country in Europe.

During a tour of Krakow some years ago, we were able to see a number of synagogues in the old Jewish Quarter of the medieval city.   Our tour guide related the persecution of Jews in Spain and how many moved to Krakow.   Two years later, the local people turned against them.   I asked our Polish guide why.   His response was interesting. “The Jews were different.   They had different customs.  They went to church on a different day….”   Sabbath observance has always made religious Jews more noticeable wherever they have settled.

Polish persecution of Jews had started prior to the arrival of the Spanish Jews.   It continued on and off into modern times, with a pogrom immediately after the defeat of the Nazis and the arrival of the Soviets in 1945.

This article only touches the surface where anti-semitism is concerned.   The incidents I related from England are what I learned as a child; I mention Krakow as my visit there was a great learning experience.

Auschwitz is close to Krakow.   A visit there was truly traumatic for me personally.   It was bad enough standing in the gas chambers and looking up at the holes in the ceiling that enabled Zykon B to be dropped down amongst those taking a “shower.”   I felt like throwing up when I saw the “accommodations” for inmates – bunk-beds three levels high – people would fight to get the top bunk, so that they would not get “showered on” during the night when those above had to relieve themselves.   (Inmates had permanent diarrhoea because the scarce food was so bad.)   But, what made me “lose it” was the exhibit behind a glass screen, of the hair of little girls taken (after being gassed) from Jewish children and then used to make wigs and other things.   All I could think of was our little girls, our grandchildren when they were 3 or 4.   I had to leave the room.   I had planned on giving a sermon on anti-semitism when I returned to Michigan, but I could not bring myself to give it.   I knew I could not get through the sermon without, once again, losing it.

On another occasion, following a visit to Anne Frank’s House, I wanted to speak on it but couldn’t.  When I looked out the back window of the house at the backyard below, it reminded me so much of my grandparents’ home.   If it could happen here, it might have happened in England; or anywhere else, for that matter.  We are naïve if we think it can never happen here.

As if the Holocaust wasn’t bad enough, hundreds of millions of people around the world have learned nothing from it.   They still hate Jews.   They still blame Jewish bankers when they can’t repay a loan.   Many still think they deserve what they get because they killed Christ when the scriptures make it clear that every single one of us killed Christ.   Note I John 2:2:   “And Christ himself is the means by which our sins are forgiven, and not our sins only, but also the sins of everyone.”  (Good News Translation).   The Contemporary English Version translates the verse this way:  “Christ is the sacrifice that takes away our sins and the sins of all the world’s people.”   He had to die so that each of us, individually, may receive eternal life.

Jesus Christ Himself was a Jew; so was the Apostle John who wrote those words.

MODERN ANTI-SEMITISM

Complicating the issue of anti-Semitism today is the existence of the modern state of Israel, a nation that came into being exactly 70 years ago.   The Palestinians lost their land and have hated Israel ever since.   Many Muslims also hate Israel in sympathy with the Palestinians.

This hatred of Israel has infected others, partly because of television newsreels showing the suffering of the Palestinian people.   The British Labor Party, under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, has a bad record of anti-Semitism.   Fifty years ago, there were fifty Jewish members of parliament, 48 of whom were members of the Labor Party.   Clearly, attitudes have changed.

Modern Israel is, without a doubt, the most successful country in the Middle East.   It is the only western-style democracy.   This Jewish country allows freedom of religion in a region where non-Muslims are suffering from great persecution.   The nation can teach its neighbors lots of lessons, about economic development, freedom and democracy.   I had the privilege of being able to spend a summer in the country in 1973 and was greatly impressed at the development that had taken place in just 25 years.   I would love to go back and see how much further the country has progressed, in spite of wars and internal conflict.

People should remember what God said to Abraham thousands of years ago.

“Now the Lord had said to Abram:  “Get out of your country,
 From your family 
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
   I will make you a great nation;
  I will bless you
  And make your name great;
  And you shall be a blessing.
   I will bless those who bless you,
 And I will curse him who curses you;
 And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”   (Genesis 12:1-3)

No country benefits from anti-Semitism.

The attack on a synagogue last week was the work of one man, an ignorant, hate-filled individual who likely spent too much time looking at websites that blame Jews for everything.   (The internet is also a modern contributor to anti-Semitism.)

Let’s hope and pray it remains an isolated incident in American history.

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US MID-TERMS

The Wall St Journal on Wednesday highlighted the growing divergence amongst American voters on just about every issue.   The divide, the paper showed, is largely between “white women with college degrees and white men without.”   They “are on rapidly diverging tracks.”

In a report on BBC World News America, polls showed the divide was between “big cities and suburbs” and those living in rural areas, which includes small-town America.

Reports on the election are usually quite superficial.   Not realized is that the white blue-collar workers are the primary producers of the nation’s wealth; the people with college degrees are in non-productive jobs.

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CESAR CHAVEZ REMEMBERED

Left-wing protestors across the country are chanting “Yes, we can” in opposition to the president’s stance on illegal immigration.

But few, if any, remember who first used this expression.

Tucker Carlson showed a few days ago that it was Cesar Chavez, the (Hispanic) United Farm Workers Union president who was very left-wing and, yes, against illegal immigration.

“Yes, we can SEAL THE BORDERS,” was the original chant.

Mr. Chavez, concerned for the members of his union, realized that illegals would only force down wages, making things harder for those at the lower end of the income spectrum.  The last thing he wanted was more Mexicans in the country.

It’s ironic that the Democrats have ended up supporting illegals.   It was not always thus.   When the boat people started arriving from Vietnam 40 years ago, California’s Democratic Governor Jerry Brown did not want them in his state, which was already finding it difficult to cope with poverty and unemployment.   Today, Jerry Brown encourages more immigration.

Why the change?

Because it’s now known that 90% of illegals vote for the Democrats once they become registered voters.

It’s all about power!

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The Caravan to Nowhere – The march from Honduras echoes the 1980 Mariel boatlift, by The Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 22, 2018, 7:27 p.m. ET

These columns favor generous immigration and asylum for refugees. But when migration becomes a political weapon to foment border chaos, leaders have no choice other than to step in and protect national security.   Exhibit A are the 4,000 or so Central Americans moving on foot through Mexico to the U.S.

Waves of humanity marching in lock step don’t materialize spontaneously and neither has this “caravan.”   This march is organized and not necessarily for the benefit of the migrants.   Mr. Trump has good reason to turn it back.

(https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-caravan-to-nowhere-1540250858?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=8)

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BOOK QUOTE

One of the best books I’ve read recently was “Sword and Scimitar” by Raymond Ibrahim.   It’s a new book that looks at the history of the 1,400-year-old struggle between Islam and the West, which continues to this day.

(Suggestion:   do what I did.   I requested the local library buy a copy.   That way, dozens of people may wake up to what is happening!)

Love and Justice, Sin and Hell  (Extracted from: Sword and Scimitar by Raymond Ibrahim, Page 130-131)

Having discussed the doctrine of jihad and its motivations at some length (see Introduction) here it is necessary to compare and contrast the motivations behind the crusades.   Shocking as it may seem, love – not of the modern, sentimental variety, but a medieval, muscular one, characterized by Christian altruism, agape – was the primary driving force behind the crusade.   As foremost crusade historian Jonathan Riley-Smith puts it, the crusaders, moved by love of God and their neighbor, renouncing wives, children, and earthly possessions, and adopting temporary poverty and chastity, were described as going into a voluntary exile.

Despite popular depictions of crusaders as prototypical Europeans imperialists cynically exploiting faith, recent scholarship has proven the opposite, that every crusader “risked his life, social status, and all his possessions when he took the cross.”   Nor was it “those with the least to lose who took up the cross, but rather those with the most.”  Great lords of vast estates – not dispossessed “second sons,” as once believed – parted with their wealth and possessions upon taking the cross.”

“It was a miraculous sight,” wrote one contemporary.   “Everyone bought high and sold low; whatever could be used on the journey was expensive, since they were in a hurry; they sold cheaply whatever items of value they had piled up; what neither prison nor torture could have wrung from them just a short time before they now sold for a few paltry coins.”  But it was worth it all for the “message was clear,” writes Thomas Madden:  “Christ was crucified again in the persecution of his faithful and the defilement of his sanctuaries.”  Both needed rescuing; both offered an opportunity to fulfill one of Christ’s two greatest commandments:  “Love God with all your heart” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).

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GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS

The central banks of the UK and Australia have both raised red flags about the rapid expansion of so-called leveraged loans and associated products that have invited comparisons to the toxic debt vehicles that triggered the global financial crisis.

In documents published just days apart, both the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Bank of England have expressed clear concern at the growth in leveraged loans, which have doubled in issuance since the GFC and now stand at over $US1 trillion ($1.4 trillion).

The leveraged loans have invited comparisons to the toxic conditions that helped trigger the GFC.   (The Age, AUSTRALIA, Paul Colgan, 19th October)

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LOS ANGELES

“The Los Angeles regional food bank distributed 300,000 meals a month, but that, says its director, Michael Flood, is only a fraction of what the hungry 1.4 million people in the county need.  The bank resembles the vast warehouse operation of a supermarket chain, with apartment-sized refrigerators and fork-lift trucks processing millions of pounds of groceries.  Every hour, a dozen or so of the 650 soup kitchens in the city arrive to collect sandwiches for the homeless (who cannot cook anything on the streets) or groceries for families.”  (“Amid plenty, want; The Economist, October 27th.)   “…the state with the largest share of people in poverty is California.   As the most populous state, it also has by far the largest number of poor people, 7.4 million.”  (And the Governor, Jerry Brown, is in favor of open borders.)

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PERVERSE THINKING

“Immerse yourself in the pro-immigration literature of Democratic Party thinkers, and you will notice a curious pattern of argument: High levels of immigration have awakened the racism and bigotry that have fueled the rise of right-wing populism, but it is nevertheless best to press forward with the policies that have ostensibly produced this fearsome reaction.  Why?   Because slowing the pace of immigration would be a callow surrender to bigotry.   But also because, in the fullness of time, a unified coalition of college-educated white liberals, African Americans, and working class immigrants and their descendants will vanquish the aging rump of reactionary whites.”   (“The next populist revolution,” by Reihan Salam, The Atlantic Monthly, September 2018).

 

 

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RETIRE AND ENJOY THE GRANDKIDS

The picture above was taken last Sunday in Indianapolis.  It was the first time all ten of our grandchildren were together.  The picture was posted to FaceBook before I had an opportunity to see it.  I was asked a couple of days later why I wasn’t smiling.  The simple truth is that, moments before, I had been trying to get the boys (aged 2 through 6) to sit still, look at the camera and smile.  I was exhausted and remember collapsing on to the couch!

It’s great being a grandfather.   And Diane loves being a grandmother.

Our advice to others in our age group – don’t work until it’s too late to enjoy the grandchildren.   You will find the time you spend with them rewarding – and they will remember you until they are old and have their own grandchildren.

Retire and enjoy the grandkids!

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ARMISTICE DAY – ONE HUNDRED YEARS ON

World War One came to an end exactly 100 years ago, on November 11th, 1918.   The following article shows that many in Germany want to resurrect the German Empire that collapsed at the end of the Great War.   The article is taken from France24, a French television website.

100 years later: Germany’s far right is trying to resurrect the German Empire  

Berlin (AFP) – 26 Oct 2018

Germany’s far right is trying to rehabilitate the German Empire and its role in World War I, resuming a decades-old debate ahead of the centenary of the armistice.

The magazine Compact, which is close to the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD), is publishing a special November issue dedicated to the 1919 Treaty of Versailles which held the Reich responsible for the Great War and compelled the country to make colossal reparations.  The title recalls the rhetoric used in the 1920s by those nostalgic for Imperial Germany and the Nazis: “The shame of Versailles:   how the victorious powers enslaved Germany.”  Its online story is headlined “Germany in chains.”

The aim is to reevaluate the German Empire (1871-1918) which for decades has been seen in the collective consciousness as the first of the destructive powers of the 20th century.

‘Bid for world power’

Hamburg University historian Fritz Fischer in the early 1960s confronted the German public with the then controversial thesis that Imperial Germany carried the sole responsibility for the war and the horrors of the Somme, Verdun and Gallipoli.   In his work “Griff nach der Weltmacht” (Bid for World Power), Fischer argued that the Germany of William II, dominated by a racist and imperialist elite, had deliberately instigated World War I in a bid to become a world power.  Fischer argued that Berlin used the crisis sparked by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand to go to war with France and Russia to create a German-dominated Europe and Africa — and that this unfulfilled ambition paved the way for the Nazi regime to follow.  This overturned the then entrenched national belief that Germany had fought a defensive war.

 

Joern Leonhard of Freiburg University said Fischer’s views — at heart a “virulent criticism of the German Empire, militarism and imperialism” — are “still broadly shared today by the left.”  By contrast, the AfD wants to “glorify the Empire” as a state that “was modern, had strong industrial development and was very conservative,” said historian Klaus-Peter Sick.  Representatives of the extreme right in their speeches praise the former Imperial Chancellor Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898) and the era of “Prussian Palaces.”  Sick said that “the values of the German Reich correspond” to those of the AFD, “discipline and order.”  AfD leader Alexander Gauland went so far as to describe the Hitler regime as a “mere speck of bird [dung]” relative to “1,000 years of glorious German history.”  Sick said that the goal of the far right, at a time when the last eye-witnesses are disappearing, is to ensure “that the Germans are proud of their history and the German nation and stop seeing the spectre of Nazism everywhere.”

Old wounds

Public interest in the origins of the First World War was revived with the 2013 release of the bestseller “The Sleepwalkers:  How Europe went to war in 1914” by Australian historian Christopher Clark of Cambridge University.   Rather than just blame Germany and the Austro-Hungarian empire, Clark argues that other European powers shared an imperialist paranoia and, without intending to, sleepwalked into the first industrial-scale war.  The success of the book among German readers “betrayed a deep-rooted need to free themselves from blame and guilt,” said the conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.  The AfD’s Bavaria chapter has promoted Clark’s tome on its website.

While Germany has gone to great lengths to remember and atone for World War II, Nazi atrocities and the Holocaust, remembrance of the First World War is far more low-key.   Even in this centenary year, commemorations remain minimal.  The foreign ministry hosted a conference entitled “Winning peace” in mid-October, but it was not open to the general public.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel will only participate in one ceremony, alongside French President Emmanuel Macron, on November 10 in Rethondes, the site of the signing of the Armistice.  “German politicians attach great importance to not opening old wounds,” said Leonhard.

https://www.france24.com/en/20181026-100-years-german-far-right-seeks-rehabilitate-empire

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Merkel urged to make ‘Germany a NUCLEAR SUPERPOWER for Europe’ over US-exit fears 

GERMANY should become a nuclear superpower and spearhead European efforts to acquire weapons, according to leading politicians.   Berlin is under pressure to obtain nuclear weapons for the EU over fears the United States will leave NATO.

Head of Poland’s ruling party Jaroslaw Kaczynski told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, he would “welcome an EU nuclear superpower” shortly before meeting Angela Merkel in Warsaw.

It is thought he may have pressed the German Chancellor on the issue during the visit.

Angela Merkel has been urged to make Germany a nuclear superpower

(“Merkel urged to make ‘Germany a nuclear super-power for Europe’ over US exit fears,” Daily Express, 10/23)

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MORE EUROPEAN NEWS

*   Poland is going through a major battle between Left and Right, with Jewish issues always in the background.   Is it condemned to carry this baggage or can it focus on the new threat?

*   Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán aspires to push Angela Merkel aside and become the new leader of Europe. Is this crazy or does he have a chance?

*   Austria is the first European country outside the Soviet bloc to have a government coalition of a legacy conservative party and what the media calls a far-right party.   Is this a model or an exception?   (Daniel Pipes, promoting an educational tour of the three countries, all threatened by the growing Islamic threat; 10/26)

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UNITED STATES

“The (US) midterm elections are all about the man who’s not on the ballot.” — referring to President Trump.   (USA Today 10/26)

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ISLAM PERSECUTING CHRISTIANS IN NIGERIA

“Nigerian Christianity is under siege from radical Islam. The country’s importance to Africa, and to Christianity as a whole, makes this siege particularly noteworthy.   With a population of nearly 200 million – about 50% Christian, 40% Muslim and 10% animist (traditional pagan religion) – by 2050 Nigeria will become the third most populous country in the world, the United Nations estimates. No wonder Nigeria has been a strategic target for radical Islamists for several decades.

“Boko Haram, a radical Islamic movement whose name roughly translates to “Western education is forbidden,” has ramped up attacks on Christians this year. Since 2009 when Boko Haram began its rampage, about 20,000 Nigerians have been hacked with machetes or shot.  Two million have been displaced. Pastors and their families have been specifically targeted for death.

“Pastors in northern and central Nigeria face daunting pressures. Some conduct funerals almost every week for victims, often in mass burials.   They struggle to answer their parishioners’ questions about God’s love and justice.   They hear powerful voices dismiss this as an ethnic clash, but they understand it is a strategic scorched earth war, a jihad against Christianity.”   (“Boko Haram put a bounty on my head,” by Hassan John, an Anglican priest and journalist; Wall Street Journal, 10/26).

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CHRISTIANITY vs ISLAM

In Western Germany, 42% of children under the age of six now come from a migrant background, according to Germany’s Federal Statistical Office, as reported by Die Welt.  (Gatestone, 10/26)

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FACEBOOK AND IRAN DISINFORMATION

SAN FRANCISCO – Facebook has uncovered a covert Iranian disinformation campaign which attempted to sow political discord in the U.S. over such hot-button issues as race, immigration, police brutality and President Trump ahead of the November midterm elections.

The social media giant said Friday it detected the activity coming from dozens of pages, accounts and groups on Facebook and Instagram late last week.  Facebook removed  82 Facebook pages, groups and accounts for “coordinated inauthentic behavior” that originated in Iran and targeted people in the U.S. and U.K. over the course of the last year, the company said.”  (USA Today, 10/26)

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CHINA vs AMERICA

“East Asian countries increasingly are joining the US in believing that a triumphant China will “treat us like dogs,” as one Asian diplomat remarked to me recently.   (“How to win a Cold War with Beijing,” by Seth Cropsey, WSJ, 10/26)

“For the past quarter century America’s approach to China has been founded on a belief in convergence.   Political and economic integration would not just make China wealthier, they would also make it more liberal, pluralistic and democratic . . .

“Today convergence is dead.   America has come to see China as a strategic rival – a malevolent actor and a rule-breaker.   The Trump administration accuses it of interfering in America’s culture and politics, of stealing intellectual property and trading unfairly, and of seeking not just leadership in Asia, but also global dominance.  It condemns China’s record on human rights at home and an aggressive expansion abroad.   This month, Mike Pence, the vice-president, warned that China was engaged in a “whole of government” offensive.   His speech sounded ominously like an early bugle-call in a new cold war.

“Do not presume that Mr. Pence and his boss, President Donald Trump, are alone.   Democrats and Republicans are vying to outdo each other in bashing China.   Not since the 1940’s has the mood among American businessfolk, diplomats and the armed forces swung so rapidly behind the idea that the United States faces a new ideological and strategic rival.”   (“China v America,” The Economist, 10/20).

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CHINA CATCHING UP

Right now, the US has more billionaires than China, but China is adding two per week.   (Deutsche Welle News, 10/26)

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THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Two new churches have recently opened their doors in our neighborhood.

One is called “Impact” and meets in the Lansing Mall at 10.30am every Sunday.   It is hoped that it will save the mall.   Like malls everywhere nowadays, it has a lot of empty stores and a declining number of visitors.

In keeping with the times (and the needs of the mall), the church is encouraging people to come to church, then stay to shop (from 12 noon on).   They can also stay for a movie at the cinema in the mall; or have lunch or a beer at a bar in the facility.

The other church is more interesting.  It’s a one-theme church, focusing on forgiveness.  They have billboards on the way into Lansing encouraging people to be forgiven; and to forgive others.

Most Christians are very aware that they need forgiveness.   Not so many are able to show forgiveness toward others.  Yet, if we can’t show forgiveness, our own eternal life is at stake.

The Lord’s Prayer reminds us of the need for us to receive forgiveness and to show it to others.

“and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us,”   (Matthew 6:15)

Jesus Christ also said the following on this subject:   “But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses (sins)” (Mark 11:26)

These are sobering words, particularly as we get older. We don’t want to miss out on eternal life because we’ve not shown forgiveness to others!

ROYAL WEDDING EUPHORIA HIDES GRIM REALITY

Prince Harry’s wedding to actress Meghan Markle, was a great success, watched by approximately one billion people around the world.   Everything to do with the wedding went smoothly, as we have come to expect from royal events in Britain.

Various estimates were given as to the cost of the wedding. Fox News said it was $34 million.   A British source said 32 million pounds (one pound = $1.34).   The cost was higher than seven years ago, when Prince William got married.   According to Fox, security alone was more than $30 million, considerably higher than at William’s.   Harry had a greater need for security, a sign of the times, together with terrorist threats made against him for his military role in Afghanistan.

The Queen paid for the wedding; the tax-payer covers security.   When President Trump visits London in a few weeks, security will also be expensive.     At least with the royal wedding, the financial outlay will be more than covered by increased tourism, television rights, sales of merchandise made for the occasion, and all those celebratory drinks and meals.

The cost of the monarchy is covered by entrance fees to the royal palaces.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

The Economist’s first editor, Walter Bagehot (pronounced “Badge It”), wrote a classic book on the English Constitution, in which he explained the function of the two branches of government.   The monarchy, he said, represented the “dignified” branch of government; while parliament was the “efficient” branch.

The Economist has a weekly column on British politics, called “Bagehot,” in memory of its founder, who edited the publication from 1860-77.    “A royal wedding is as good a time as any to conduct an audit of the British constitution,” is the opening line of this week’s offering.

In the past, the weekly newsmagazine has called for the abolition of the monarchy.   “An Idea whose time has gone,” was one such cover story about twenty years ago.

But this week’s publication points out that the monarchy and parliament have changed roles – “The efficient branch is in its worst state since the 1970s.   The two main parties have been captured by their extremes.   The prime minister lacks authority.   Westminster has been rocked by scandals about sexual harassment and bullying. The Home Office is in turmoil.   The government is preparing for Brexit, its most complicated task since the second world war, without a majority in the Commons or a consensus in its own ranks.” (“Something old, something new”, Economist, 5/19).

Most Members of Parliament do not support Brexit, but the people did in a referendum two years ago.   “The efficient branch now has an agonizing choice: implement a policy that it believes to be foolish, or frustrate the “will of the people.”

“The dignified branch (the Crown), by contrast, is thriving.   The Queen represents stability in an unstable world, as well as unity in a polarized one.   She has spent 66 of her 92 years on the throne and has survived twelve prime ministers and innumerable political crises.”   Last week’s wedding has boosted the popularity of the monarchy around the world; Prince Charles was chosen last month as the new Head of the 53-nation Commonwealth, to succeed his mother; Prince Harry was appointed as an Ambassador to Commonwealth youth; Zimbabwe has asked to return to the organization after leaving fifteen years ago over human rights abuses and failure to uphold the rule of law and democratic norms.

It remains the case, however, that twenty years ago, the monarchy wasn’t doing so well; a reality that could return at any time.

This is the age of populism and no politician is more popular than Queen Elizabeth II, whose approval rating in Britain is always above 70%, more than double the highest rated politician.   Even in her overseas dominions, her popularity surpasses the politicians, so much so that many of them would like to say goodbye to her and the institution of constitutional monarchy. It is the ordinary people who feel differently and from whom she gets her greatest support.

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GERMANY TO REPLACE US AS HONEST BROKER IN MIDEAST Handelsblatt Global, 18 May 2018

“Iran, Gaza, Jerusalem: If ever the time was right for EU countries to unite in their foreign policy as in their trade policy, it is now . . .    May 2018 could one day enter history books as the moment when the EU countries including Germany at last embarked on a common foreign policy.   The catalyst, as long expected, will have been an external power.   Not, however, a common foe, but an ostensible ally: America’s Donald Trump.

“. . . the US and Europe can no longer pretend to be aligned.   The US has forfeited its role of honest broker [in the Middle East] . . .   If there is today an honest broker, it may ironically be Germany…

“Angela Merkel and her EU peers have certainly grasped the urgency of the moment . . .   For Germany to play a diplomatic role . . .   it would need to boost military spending far beyond its paltry 1.2% of GDP…”

(Handelsblatt is an influential German business paper; the German equivalent of the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times.)

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EUROPEAN NEWS

Macron to Silicon Valley: Embrace Europe’s Regulations:   French President Emmanuel Macron ratcheted up tensions with U.S. tech giants Thursday calling on them to embrace Europe’s regulation of topics ranging from taxation to privacy to artificial intelligence, because Washington is failing to do so.

Europe Seeks Russia’s Help on Saving Iran Deal, Despite Chill:  U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran has added fresh impetus to a European outreach to Russia—although European officials say existing tensions make it far from a thaw.

Britain Takes Stab at Wrangling Dirty Money:   The publication this week of a U.K. parliamentary report calling for tougher action to stop the flow of dirty Russian money into Britain is a landmark moment for the City of London, writes Simon Nixon.

ECB Warns Against Trade Spats, Urges Patience in Easing:   European Central Bank officials warned at their April rate-setting meeting that international trade conflicts could hurt the eurozone economy and called for patience in phasing out the bank’s easy-money policies.                                                                                                        (Brexit and Beyond, WSJ, 5/23

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IN FACE OF A GLOBAL TRADE WAR

The EU announced its first defensive measures against US plans to penalize European companies’ business engagements with Iran, by reactivating the 1996 “Blocking Statute.” That law prohibits companies from terminating their business engagements with Iran, to avoid severe penalties in the United States.   Some companies from Germany and other EU countries have already announced that they will cancel their contracts with Tehran to avoid endangering their business ventures in the US. German companies, involved in profitable ventures with Russia, could be facing a similar situation.   Washington threatens to demand that businesses from Germany and the EU comply also with the April 6 sanctions announced by US President Donald Trump, against some Russian oligarchs and their companies.   According to government advisors, German Russia-oriented businesses are “virtually panicking” because of the escalation of a global trade war.
(https://www.german-foreign-policy.com/en/news/detail/7612/)

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Newsletter – How to Become a World Power

Berlin is seeking to use Washington’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal to increase its pressure on Tehran. In their joint statement published Wednesday, the governments of Germany, France and the United Kingdom declared their continued commitment to the agreement, while demanding that the Iranian government limit its ballistic missile program and its efforts to obtain influence in the region.   The reintroduction of US sanctions offers Berlin a chance to disguise its continued pressure on Tehran as a war preventive measure.   At the same time, US sanctions against Iran continue to fuel the power struggle between the EU and the USA.   The Airbus Company alone could lose €16 billion in commercial deals due to the sanctions imposed by the US government.   Commentators recommend resistance:   “You don’t become a world power in a conference room.”   At the same time, Israel is exacerbating the escalating tensions with its aggressions against Syria.

more…
(https://www.german-foreign-policy.com/en/news/detail/7606/)

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Der Spiegel comment on EU / US relations

“With his decision to blow up the Iran deal, U.S. President Donald Trump has thrown Europe into uncertainty and anxiety — and raised the specter of a new war in the Middle East. One thing is certain: the
trans-Atlantic relationship has been seriously damaged.”

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Zimbabwe Formally Applies to Re-Join Commonwealth

To re-join, Zimbabwe must demonstrate that it complies with the fundamental values set out in the Commonwealth Charter, including democracy and rule of law plus protection of human rights such as freedom of expression.   The membership process requires an informal assessment to be undertaken by representatives of the Secretary-General, followed by consultations with other Commonwealth countries.   Zimbabwe has also invited the Commonwealth to observe its forthcoming elections in July.

Zimbabwe was suspended in 2002 for breaching the Harare Declaration.  In 2003, when the Commonwealth refused to lift the suspension, Zimbabwe withdrew from the Commonwealth.   Since then, the Commonwealth has played a major part in trying to end the political impasse and return Zimbabwe to a state of normality.(http://allafrica.com/stories/201805210678.html)

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ISLAM INCOMPATIBLE WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

  • The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) itself has become a prime motivator and enforcer of the rejection of human rights.
  • The other charters of human rights are to be found exclusively in the Muslim world.   Anything that falls within Islamic shari’a law is a human right; anything that does not fall within shari’a is not a human right.
  • “For us the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is nothing but a collection of mumbo-jumbo by disciples of Satan”. — ‘Ali Khamene’i, Iran’s current Supreme Leader.
  • “The underlying thesis in all the Islamic human rights schemes is that the rights afforded in international law are too generous and only become acceptable when they are subjected to Islamic restrictions.” — Ann Elizabeth Mayer, Islam and Human Rights: Tradition and Politics.

AUSTRIAN COALITION ANNOUNCED AT KAHLENBERG MOUNTAIN

Austrian Foreign Minister and the leader of the Austrian Peoples Party (OeVP) Sebastian Kurz attend a news conference at the Kahlenberg mountain in Vienna, Austria, Dec. 16, 2017. EPA-EFE/CHRISTIAN BRUNA

Whereas Germany is having difficulty putting together a coalition government, Austria’s youthful Chancellor, the youngest head of government in the world, has been successful.   Sebastian Kurz, 31, leads the Austrian People’s Party.   His party is now in coalition with the “extreme right” Freedom Party, led by Heinz-Christian Strache. The latter party is often compared to the Nazis, whose leader, Adolf Hitler, was from Austria.   This is an exaggeration, to say the least.

Both leaders and their supporters, are concerned about the invasion of their country by Muslims and encroaching Islamization. They announced the formation of their government on Kahlenberg Mountain outside of Vienna, the same hill where Islamic Turks were defeated on 9-11 (& 12), 1683, ending the Muslim threat to western Europe.   The new government joins Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia in turning against the tide of immigrants welcomed by Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel.   Interestingly, all five of these countries were parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which collapsed after World War One.

One thing is certain – Austria has become the first western nation with a genuine conservative government. 

“The new coalition was agreed on Friday (15th December) by the conservative People’s Party (ÖVP) and the Freedom Party (FPÖ), pledging to stop illegal immigration, cut taxes and resist EU centralization.

It will be led by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who took over the ÖVP in May and yanked it to the right, securing his party first place in October elections.  At 31, Kurz will be the world’s youngest leader.

At his side for the investiture by Austria’s (figurehead) president in the Hapsburg dynasty’s imperial palace in Vienna was FPÖ chief Heinz-Christian Strache, 48, now vice-chancellor, and FPÖ general secretary Herbert Kickl, the new interior minister.

“Strache has said Islam “has no place in Europe” and last year called German Chancellor Angela Merkel “the most dangerous woman in Europe” for her open-door refugee policy.

On Sunday, Strache trumpeted to his 750,000 followers on Facebook that the new government would slash social benefits for asylum-seekers.

“It will no longer happen that migrants who have never worked here a single day or paid anything into the social system will get thousands of euros in welfare!” he said in a post that has gained 9,000 “likes.”

(“European far-right jubilant as Austria’s new government is sworn in.” The Local, December 18th)

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HAPSBURG MEMORIES

Empress Elizabeth of Austria, wife of Emperor Franz-Josef.

Coincidentally, at the same time the Austrian government was agreeing a coalition, my wife and I were watching the “Sisi” trilogy on Turner Classic Movies.  These three films, made over 50 years ago in Austria (with English sub-titles), portrayed the Austrian Empress Elizabeth, wife of the Emperor Franz Josef, who reigned from 1848-1916. Elizabeth came from Bavaria.  She was sympathetic to the aspirations of Hungarian nationalists and was influential in the historic agreement that united Austria and Hungary in the Austro-Hungarian Empire (in 1867).   Her life was rather tragic – her only son, the Crown Prince Rudolf, committed suicide and she herself was assassinated a few years later, while visiting Geneva.

It was an interesting time in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.   A great deal of liberalization took place under Franz Josef as Austrians tried to keep their multiethnic empire together.   Often overlooked is the fact that this major empire gave a home to eleven different nationalities, all united under the Hapsburgs.  Today, each ethnic group has its own sovereign state, each one weaker than the old empire.

“The great Czech historian Frantisek Palacky once said that if the Hapsburg Empire had not existed, it would have been necessary to invent it” (The Emperors, by Gareth Russell, 2014, pages 40-41).   The European Union is no replacement as it is German dominated.

Some of the former Austrian nationalities are again marching together.   Austria, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are all opposed to further Muslim immigration, wanting to protect and preserve Catholic Europe.   These five countries are set to form the Eastern leg of the biblically prophesied revived Roman Empire.

Following the fall of the Roman Empire in the West in the fifth century, there have been a number of attempts to revive it – most recently, in 1922 Mussolini announced a revival of the Roman Empire; in 1957 European leaders signed the Treaty of Rome, forming what is now the European Union, another attempt at uniting Europe.   Perhaps out of the rubble of the EU will come the final European Union, led by Germany.

Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay.  And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile.  As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.  And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” (Daniel 2:41-44)

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ANNUAL MESSAGES FROM HEADS OF STATE

Every year, the British monarch speaks to the Commonwealth on Christmas Day.  This is a tradition that began with her grandfather, King George V, in 1932.   At the time Britain was a global superpower, ruling over a quarter of the world’s people.   With the introduction of radio in the previous decade, the king could now address all his subjects around the world.

In 1957 the annual radio broadcast began to be televised. By this time, the empire was fundamentally changing.   Indeed, in 1957’s broadcast, the Queen welcomed Ghana and Malaysia into the Commonwealth, as both nations had become independent that year. The 52-nation Commonwealth continues to this day, with the Queen as its Head.

For some years now, the queen’s message has embraced multiculturalism.   The Commonwealth is multicultural in itself, composed of nations that have different religions and a great deal of ethnic diversity.   This year, she took a different approach to her speech. Instead of emphasizing multiculturalism, she praised the citizens of London and Manchester who suffered terrorist attacks last year; and the heroism of Emergency Responders who helped save lives.

Sadly, it is, of course, multiculturalism which has led directly to terrorism, not just in the United Kingdom but in other countries in Europe.

The queen is a deeply religious woman, never more so than at Christmas.   In her speech this year she talked of how Jesus Christ “suffered rejection, hardship and persecution.”   Having experienced all three in recent years, I was encouraged by her words, which prompted a Bible Study from this angle.

Queen Elizabeth is not the only Head of State who gives an annual Christmas speech.   President Steinmeier of Germany addressed the German people on the same day.   The German president, like the British monarch, is a figurehead, playing an important role in unifying the nation at a difficult time.   The German president devoted his speech to reassuring the German people, who still do not have a government over three months after the election.   This is the longest period in the Federal Republic’s history and, for some, brings back memories of the rather unstable Weimar Republic.   Today’s German republic is more resilient and Germany should soon have a new coalition government, made up of two or more parties.

The Pope also gave a Christmas speech.   Whereas the British monarch and the German president were careful not to advocate more immigrants, the pope called upon nations to open their doors wider to receive more refugees.   Ironically, on the same day, ISIS in Somalia called for the assassination of the pope and for attacks on more western cities, like Manchester and London.

And so it goes on.  The West has lost its way and does not know how to respond to radical Islam’s assault upon it.   It won’t, until its religious roots are revived.   Most people in the West still give lip-service to Christianity, but few think deeply about their traditional religions, both Catholic and Protestant.

Acts 4:12 says of Jesus Christ:  “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”   Muslims deny Jesus Christ is the Son of God.   Therefore, to equate Islam with Christianity, makes no sense and endangers Christians, who are ill-prepared for the assault that is taking place upon them today.

The British monarch is the titular Head of the Anglican Community. The Pope is the Head of the Catholic Church.

They need to wake up to what is happening and to see clearly the threat to traditional Christianity.

The Pope, in his annual speech, focused on Jerusalem, calling for an independent Palestinian state, the “two state solution” that has been official policy of most countries in recent years.   What the pope is calling for pits him (and the Church) against the US Administration, which is recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“Pope Francis has used his traditional Christmas Day message to call for “peace for Jerusalem” and dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. Acknowledging “growing tensions” between them, he urged a “negotiated solution . . . .  that would allow the peaceful co-existence of two states.”   US President Donald Trump recently announced that America recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.   The hugely controversial move drew condemnation across the Muslim world.   The Roman Catholic leader gave his Urbi et Orbi speech, which in Latin means “To the city and world,” in Saint Peter’s Square.”    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-42477274

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REVISIONIST HISTORY – CHECK THE FACTS!

I’ve taken to looking up just about everything depicted in historical movies and television programs.   As we watch a series, I keep my laptop on my lap and google the “facts” depicted by Hollywood and others who make movies.   The “facts” are rarely factual. Note the following:

1) The new “History” channel series “Knightfall” depicts the Knights Templar around the year 1300.   In the first episode of the series, the Catholic soldiers saved the Jews who were expelled from Paris by King Philip the Fair in 1306.   According to the series, the Jews were saved by the Knights Templar.

This is a total fabrication.   Note the following from the BBC’s Religion section:

“During the first half of the 13th century the attitude of the Church towards Jews hardened from disapproval to loathing. On 22 July, 1306 King Philip IV of France expelled all Jews from his kingdom.”

2) The second season of “The Crown” (Netflix) implies that Prince Philip cheated on his wife in the 1950’s and early 60’s.   There is no evidence for this.  It may be true – it may not be true.  But people watching the otherwise excellent series will no doubt believe everything they see.

3)   “A United Kingdom” was an otherwise good movie, telling the story of Seretse Khama and his wife Ruth Williams.   Sir Seretse led Botswana to independence in 1966.   He met his wife while studying in London.   They were a bi-racial couple in southern Africa, not very common in those days and forbidden in neighboring South Africa, the regional powerhouse.   In 1947 the movie referred to the presidents of four neighboring countries, not one of which had a president at the time, as they were all a part of the British Commonwealth.

4) This is the worst one!   ‘The Viceroy’s House” is a recent movie set in India at the time of independence and partition, in 1947.

Everything in the movie was good until somebody opened a drawer and pulled out a two-year-old highly secretive British government paper advocating partition of the country into India and (Muslim) Pakistan.   So what, you may ask?

Well, this file changed history.   Instead of Earl Mountbatten being responsible for partition, the file “revealed” it was war-time leader Winston Churchill.   As the anti-colonial Guardian reviewer put it – it was the equivalent of somebody in Germany opening a drawer and finding that the Holocaust was first proposed, not by Hitler, but by Mussolini.

Why can’t the entertainment industry ever get it right?   As far more people will watch the movie than read any book on the subject, Churchill will now be blamed for one of the greatest disasters of the twentieth century.

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One very good series we’ve seen was on the National Geographic Channel.  It was a biography of Albert Einstein.   One of the most brilliant minds in history, he was absolutely hopeless at personal relationships.

I thought you might appreciate the following quote from the great physicist himself:   “The universe is so extraordinary that only God could have created it.  My job is to figure out how He did it.”  (Einstein)

The two greatest scientists of all time were Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein.     Many people today see science and religion as opposites — these men did not.  They both believed in God.    Be sure to share that fact with others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A CALL FROM SINGAPORE

Nestled in the heart of Southeast Asia and just at the tip of the Malaysian peninsula, the island country of Singapore is a melting pot of Chinese, Malay, Indian and Western cultures. The Lion City is one of the world’s most dynamic, vibrant and prosperous nations.

A friend from Singapore called me at the weekend.   Amongst other things we discussed President Trump’s visit to the region, which is now taking place.   He told me that Singaporeans (mostly ethnic Chinese) believe that America is on the way down and China is on the way up.   In other words, the most powerful nation in Asia and the Pacific is now NOT the US, but China.   Every nation in the region is having to come to terms with Chinese domination.

My friend, who is over 80, remembered the events of 1942 that led Singaporeans to realize the British Empire was on its way down.   One of the greatest military defeats in British history was the fall of Singapore on the 15th of February in 1942.   The story is told of Lee Kwan Yew, the first prime minister of Singapore.   While he was a student, the British blew up the causeway that linked the city to the mainland, to delay Japanese forces.   The sound of the explosion could be heard across the island.   When Mr. Lee’s British headmaster came out of the school building and asked him what the noise was, Mr. Lee responded: “It is the sound of the British Empire falling.”

Effectively, it was.   The fall of the British built and developed city started a series of events that led to American domination of Asia and the Pacific.   Now, China’s economic success means Beijing has greater clout in the area than Washington — many nations are looking to Beijing rather than Washington, to secure their future.

I posted an article to my blog in February to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the first time anybody realized that the US had overtaken the United Kingdom as the world’s pre-eminent nation.   It’s all recounted in the book “Picking up the Reins,” by Norman Moss.   It wasn’t until the following year that the term “Leader of the Free World” was applied to the US.   Seventy years later, we find people openly talking about China overtaking the United States. Chinese resentment at US domination is illustrated by an item on today’s BBC World News website.   Apparently, the Chinese use the term “Boss of the World” to describe America.

China isn’t the only power center trying to take over from America. The European Union is also determined to provide an alternative to American hegemony, with Germany’s Angela Merkel now often labeled “the Leader of the Free World.”   Bible students will not be surprised at these developments.

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IRAN – SAUDI STRUGGLE

Keep an eye on the growing Sunni-Shia struggle in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia leads the former and Iran the latter.   The two countries are fighting a proxy war in Yemen.   The latest development was a missile attack on the Saudi capital, fired by Houthi rebels, who are backed by Iran.

Iran also supports Hizbollah in Lebanon, whose prime minister resigned on Friday out of fear that he, like his father, will be assassinated.

From Monday’s Jerusalem Post:  “Saudi Arabia said on Monday that Lebanon had declared war against it because of attacks against the Kingdom by the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah.”

Syria is also caught up in the Sunni-Shia conflict.   Iran supports the Syrian president, Bashir Assad.

The West is solely focused on ISIS, a Sunni Islam group which is fighting Iranian backed forces in Iraq and Syria.   ISIS is re-grouping in a number of countries, claiming to represent and defend Sunnis from the Shi’ite heretics.

It’s all very complicated.   Not at all as simple as TV news depicts.

A new area of conflict is in the Sahara, where the US lost four military personnel last month.   Most attention was focused on President Trump’s call to the young wife of one of the men who died. Little attention has been given to the wider problem of a growing conflict right across the Sahel.

The West seems to think ISIS has been defeated; the reality is that the organization has dispersed and formed new radical terrorist groups in a number of different countries.  ISIS fighters have also been returning home to western nations – we should expect more terrorist attacks following the “defeat” of ISIS.

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WALL STREET’S BREXIT WARNING

Big banks are worried about Brexit.   A group of large financial institutions with big London operations, including JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and HSBC, has told US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross that Britain’s unstable government and slow progress in Brexit planning may force them to start moving thousands of jobs out of  the City in the near future.   The lack of clarity over a transition deal is making them nervous.

Their concerns are unlikely to be assuaged by the latest chaos in Theresa May’s cabinet.   Mrs. May is under pressure to strip two more cabinet ministers of their jobs following separate fiascos involving Priti Patel and Boris Johnson.   And the EU has warned that the UK has less than a month to make concessions on a divorce settlement.   The FT’s editorial outlines how the British government’s flailing at home is translating into weakness abroad: “Allies are increasingly wondering whether Mrs. May’s government has the focus or ability to play Britain’s traditional global position — let alone the enhanced role pledged by Brexit.”   (Financial Times, 11/8)

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TEXAS CHURCH ATTACK

26 people were shot dead in church Sunday, following a man’s argument with his mother-in-law.   Twenty others were injured, some very seriously.

This was the 307th incident of mass murder in the US this year. Today is the 310th days of the year, so, in effect, the US is experiencing an average of one mass attack per day.   A mass murder incident is defined as the murder of four or more people.

No other nation in the world sees so much violence.   Yemen, in a civil war between Shia and Sunni Muslims (see segment above), has the second highest incident rate.   Statistically, you would be safer living in Yemen, than in the United States.

I’ve always believed that people have a right to defend themselves, a right that goes back at least to the time of Henry II in the 12th century and perhaps goes back to the ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom prior to the Norman ascendancy.  The second amendment of the US constitution guarantees that right.   After an attack in London a few weeks ago, I pointed out that if one member of the public, just one, had been carrying a weapon, the terror attack might have been thwarted.

President Trump raised the issue of mental health in the context of mass shootings at a press conference in Tokyo.   Mental health is certainly a major issue.   But easy access to guns, especially by the mentally ill, is also a factor and needs to be addressed.   It’s time for that presidential commission of inquiry into mass gun violence.   Let the public have their say.   They are the ones that are dying, even in church.

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100-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF RUSSIAN REVOLUTION

November 7th is the anniversary of the Russian Revolution that brought the communists to power.   Not surprisingly, Russians are not enthused about the anniversary.   They rejected communism over 25 years ago.

There is still talk of a restoration of the monarchy, though most people do not seem to be in favor and do not expect it to happen.

There are lessons here from both France and Spain, two countries that were once dominated by their respective leaders, Charles de Gaulle and General Franco.   Both were strong men, who were vain enough to think that nobody could possibly replace them after their deaths.   Both men thought that the best way to preserve their nations in the future was through the restoration of their national monarchies.

De Gaulle was a close friend of the Comte de Paris, the descendant of the Orleanist monarch, Louis Phillipe, who ruled France from 1830-1848.   The Comte was aware of de Gaulle’s desire to restore the monarchy.

In 1968, France was rocked by student riots and violence across the country.   DeGaulle presented constitutional reforms (not including a restoration) that were rejected, leading to his resignation as President of France in April, 1969.   He died one year later.   De Gaulle, the inspiration behind the Fifth Republic in 1958, need not have worried  — the Fifth Republic remains to this day.

General Franco of Spain, a fascist dictator, had more time to think about the Spanish succession, proclaiming that his heir and successor was to be Juan Carlos, of the Bourbon line of monarchs. As soon as Franco died in 1975, Juan Carlos was proclaimed king.   Rather than continuing Franco’s conservative ideology, the new King dedicated himself to protecting Spanish democracy, thereby at the same time preserving the monarchy.   He even had the respect and support of Spanish communists.

Vladimir Putin may be thinking along the same lines.   He’s been a very strong leader, with a 90% approval rating at times.   He must be fearful of Russia’s future after he leaves the scene.

The restoration of the Romanov dynasty along Spanish lines, may be just what he’s thinking.   He’s already reviving Russian culture, and has helped the church take center stage.

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SYRIA SIGNS UP TO PARIS ACCORD

The US is now the only country in the world that has not signed up to the Paris climate treaty.   Syria was the only other holdout, but has now signed.

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PARADISE PAPERS SCANDAL

The Anglo-Saxon world loves its scandals, especially when its leaders are exposed.   In this regard, the Paradise Papers did not disappoint.

While TV audiences are focused on who has what and why, it should be emphasized that absolutely no one “exposed” broke the law.  They simply took advantage of legal tax loopholes, just as most people do, only theirs is on a much bigger scale than the average citizen.

The only law-breaking going on here was by the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, which somehow gained access to private financial information.   The paper’s partners in this enterprise included the British Guardian newspaper and the New York Times.  No surprises there.

Another concern is this:   the revelations are the latest “scandal” to undermine our institutions.   As if the Harvey Weinstein and other sexual revelations are not enough, we now have nightly reports that Queen Elizabeth II (and others) have been protecting their assets by moving them beyond the control of national governments.

Times have certainly changed.   Fifty years ago, royal tour-guides would proudly announce that the British monarch was the richest woman in the world.   Now, she’s not even in the top 500 wealthiest people in Britain (J.K. Rowling heads the female list), and people are getting riled about it.

The amount involved was only 10 million pounds ($13 million).

Exactly 100 years after the class warfare of the Russian Revolution, people have learned nothing.   All socialism brought was “equal shares of misery for all” (Margaret Thatcher’s definition).   Do we really want to embrace it again, naively thinking it will improve all our lives?

BACK TO REALITY

The November 2, 1917 declaration by then British foreign minister Arthur Balfour said his government viewed “with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”. Photograph: (AFP)

We’re back from Indianapolis after delivering one of our cats to our daughter and family.   We stayed three nights, to see the family and for the cat to get adjusted to her new situation.

I offered to go get some cat food, but our daughter and granddaughters would not allow me near the pet food aisle after my last blog!

I don’t know what it is but whenever I visit them I go into “vacation mode” – I don’t feel like doing anything. I just want to relax.  This is not fair to them.   We help take care of three (sometimes, five) grandchildren in Lansing; then have four when we visit Indy.

Our family Sunday ended up being a day in front of the television with our granddaughters who introduced us to the British series “Father Brown,” available on Netflix. It was actually quite good, though some things did irritate me.   For example, whenever the priest prayed in Latin, the closed-caption subtitles simply said: “Prays in a foreign language.”   Don’t most people know that Latin has been the lingua franca of the Catholic church for almost 2,000 years?

Family members are all trying to be healthier, which meant no junk in the house.   If I had remembered that, I would have taken some goodies to nibble between meals.  I was so hungry, at one point I called our daughter in Lansing and said:   “Can you come down immediately and bring some food?” I was just being humorous – it’s a 4+ hour drive; and I could have gone to a local grocery store if I thought I might expire.

Mike, our son-in-law, is a very good cook and the food was excellent.   I decided to join the healthy eating and then continue it at home, which is what I’m now doing.   I feel better already.   I’ve had no indigestion for a week and feel more energetic.  The dog food last week probably helped.

It was really nice to have a break from everything, including world news.

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BACK TO MORE REALITY

The terror attack in New York on Tuesday is a reminder of the constant threat to our lives that emanates from radical Islam.   It’s also a constant reminder of how hopeless our governments are – they keep letting in Muslims en masse, trying to claim that “Islam is a peaceful religion that has been hijacked by extremists.”

Trump called immediately for Congress to abolish the Diversity Visa Waiver program.  This is a lottery that enables 50,000 people a year from usually poor and backward countries to enter the United States.  They may then sponsor their relatives and friends to enter the US.   Tuesday’s murderer brought in 23 over 15 years.   Most of these people go straight to the bottom of our economic ladder, competing for jobs with low income Americans.

(Do the math. If one man brought in 23, multiply 50,000 x 23 = 1, 150,000 people per year.   That’s in addition to the one million plus who get a visa the normal way.)

President Trump immediately called on Congress to change the law.   That’s commendable.   The law needs to be changed.   But, then, why didn’t he react the same after the Las Vegas mass shooting?   Changes to the law are desperately needed.

It’s been over twenty years since the Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania, Australia.   35 people were killed in a little over half an hour.   The conservative prime minister, John Howard, immediately called on parliament to pass tough controls on assault weapons.

“Twelve days after the Port Arthur massacre, the Australian prime minister, John Howard, announced a sweeping package of gun reforms in a country where firearms had long been considered an essential prop in the national mythology of life in the bush.

“At that stage the gun lobby was the ruling lobby in Australia,” says Philip Alpers, associate professor at the University of Sydney.  “What happened at Port Arthur is that they were outpaced, outflanked and outwitted by a man who had the power to move in 12 remarkable days.”

“Tim Fischer was leader of the National party and Howard’s deputy prime minister in the Coalition government, charged with persuading skeptical country voters to support, or at least accept, reforms.  “Port Arthur was our Sandy Hook,” he says.   “Port Arthur we acted on.  The USA is not prepared to act on their tragedies.”   (The Guardian 14th March 2016).

The Sandy Hook massacre of kindergarten children took place on December 14th, 2012.   Congress did not pass any laws following the deaths of 26 people, including 19 children.   If the country could not make any changes after the deaths of so many young children, it’s doubtful they will ever come.

President Trump and others reacted to the Las Vegas shootings by saying, “Now is not the time to discuss gun control.”

Then, when will it be the time?   Immigration policies make the situation worse – the killer at Virginia Tech ten years ago was from South Korea.   The Boston Marathon killings were also the work of new arrivals.

Changes can be made without encroaching on the Second Amendment, which says:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Today, the US definitely has a “well regulated militia,” so America’s needs have changed.   At the same time, people do have a right to defend themselves.   There’s a balance. It’s time for a national debate.

On the highly successful Australian TV show, “Janet King,” Janet, a senior employee of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS; sometimes referred to as “Crownies”), is appointed by the country’s Governor-General to head a royal commission into gun violence.   It’s time the United States had a presidential commission to look into mass casualty gun violence, with the remit that it report back to the president and the public within twelve months, making recommendations to effectively reduce gun violence.

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NEW ZEALAND MAKES THE NEWS

Before we leave the Antipodes, New Zealand has a new, radical prime minister.

Jacinda Ardern is only 37 and the third female leader of the country. She wants to restrict immigration into New Zealand – one of her first acts was to ban the sale of homes to people living outside of the country.   She is a left-wing republican, meaning she would like to end NZ’s relationship with the Crown thereby giving greater power to the politicians, of which she is the chief!   Interestingly, she is also a former Mormon who has strong views on churches that encourage families to shun former believers like herself; she left the church over its anti-homosexual stance.

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QUOTE: “President Xi (of China) believes that America is in steep decline and China rising in a power game that will define our century” (Carrie Gracie, China Editor, BBC News, 11/2).   President Trump is about to visit China.

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CENTENARIES

Today, November 2nd, is the centenary of the Balfour Declaration.   Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in London to commemorate the celebration, boycotted by the anti-semitic socialist Labour Party of Jeremy Corbyn.

The famous Balfour Declaration was announced in the middle of World War I by British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, at a time when Great Britain was the dominant power in the world. It committed His Majesty’s Government to establish in Palestine a home for the Jewish people.   It was one of the most important documents of the twentieth century and a major fulfillment of Bible prophecy. It led directly to the establishment of a Jewish nation in the Middle East, the country now called Israel.

An independent Jewish nation had not been in existence since Roman times.   The Roman Jewish province of Judea rebelled against Rome in 66 AD. The Romans crushed the Jewish Revolt in 70 AD, destroying much of Jerusalem in the process.   The Jews rebelled again from 132 AD-135 AD.   Once again, the Romans crushed the revolt.   This time, the Jews dispersed to other parts of the Roman Empire and beyond.   For almost two millennia, they did not have their own country.   But scriptures made it clear that the Jews would be back in their homeland, called Judah in the Bible (the Jews were only one of the twelve tribes of Israel).

Zechariah was a prophet 2,500 years ago.   His Old Testament book is a Millennial prophecy about the Second Coming of the Messiah. Judah figures quite prominently in events at the time immediately prior to Christ’s Return.

Note Zechariah 12:2-3 – “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem.  And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.”

And Zechariah 14:2-4 – “For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.

“Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.

“And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.”

The last verse is clearly still in the future.   Jerusalem, Judah, revived after almost 2,000 years is once again a central point of geographical contention, with neighboring nations and tribes wanting to destroy the country.   As if perpetually drunk, they desperately try to destroy her, so far not succeeding.

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RUSSIAN REVOLUTION

Five days after the Balfour Declaration, Russia had a second revolution.   Earlier in the year, the Czarist regime had fallen and was replaced by a parliamentary system.   Elections were scheduled for later in the year.   Two weeks before the election, the Bolsheviks (communists) staged a coup on November 7th that overthrew the interim government of Alexander Kerensky.   They proclaimed the world’s first communist state.   It brought seven decades of misery to the country, with despotic leaders that made the czars look like Sunday school teachers.   Communism has gone, but the country remains a dictatorship, though claiming to be a democracy.

The Bolshevik Revolution was the second revolution of 1917; there was an earlier revolution in 1905, which led to the establishment of the Duma (parliament) but still left the czar with ultimate power and authority.   Russia’s parliament today is also called the Duma and is the people’s assembly.   However, some would say that Vladimir Putin is a new Czar, with all the power and authority.

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500th ANNIVERSARY OF PROTESTANT REFORMATION

Tuesday was the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenburg church in Germany.   We should all be thankful to Martin Luther.   He had the courage to stand up to the Church of Rome, ending the monopoly the Church had in western Europe.   All churches today owe their freedom to Luther.

I watched a two-hour documentary on PBS recently about Martin Luther and the Reformation.   He is considered the greatest theologian of all time, due to the fact that he wrote more books and articles on the Bible than anybody else. He also translated the scriptures into German.

Later in life, asked to sum up his writings, he replied: “God forgives.” That was of paramount importance to Luther, who struggled all his life with sin, as we all do.   Hearing that, I thought about all the churches that have come out of Luther, directly or indirectly.   Many have one thing in common – they can’t forgive.   How ironic.

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VISIT TO NOAH’S ARK

Earlier in the month, we were in Cincinnati, Ohio.   A group of us, including four of our grandchildren, took the opportunity to visit Noah’s Ark, which is just over the state line in Kentucky.   It’s well worth a visit, if only to get a better idea of the size of the original ark. This replica is built according to biblical specifications.

I’m very thankful that the enterprising Australian behind this project was inspired to build the Ark (and the Creation Museum nearby). More and more people are biblically illiterate, so it’s good that somebody has kept the story alive.   I found the wall plaques explaining everything interesting, but I do not agree with his theory that the earth is only 6,000 years old.

We had been told to allow three hours for our visit. With two 5-year-old twin boys, we went through quite quickly, in exactly two hours.  We left early — because it was raining!!!

The following evening we had a group of Barbadians over for dinner. Wonderful people.   They had actually come from Barbados to visit the Ark.   They are also Young Earthers, believing in the 6,000 years.   We agreed to disagree and still remain friends.  That’s the way it should be.

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FINALLY

I’ve been asked why I quote so often from the Daily Express and Daily Mail newspapers, two Conservative British tabloids.

The answer is quite simple: they have the best web sites.   Check them out sometime.

The Guardian and Independent, more intellectual papers, are constantly asking for money whenever I check their sites; whereas the Times, the Telegraph and the Financial Times make very little available.

The biggest problem with the two papers I use is that they often sensationalize news items.

I will try to find alternative sources, but, realistically I will have to use them occasionally as I don’t have the funds to pay for subscriptions to the more highbrow papers; and they have to request money as they have smaller circulations.

(This blog is a fully independent blog that has no connection to any church or secular organization. It was started to keep people informed on international affairs in light of the scriptures.   Financial support comes from myself and readers who graciously donate to help cover costs.) 

EUROPE’S STATE OF THE UNION

Nigel Farage blasted Jean-Claude Juncker over his speech in speech in Strasbourg

Nigel Farage is no Winston Churchill.

But the man who led the Brexit campaign sees clearly the growing threat from the German dominated EU, just as Churchill warned of the growing threat from Hitler’s Germany.   Most British people remain clueless.   In fact, almost 50% of the electorate would gladly be subservient to Berlin, including former prime ministers, Tony Blair and John Major.

Earlier this week the President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, gave his State of the Union speech to the European parliament.   Amongst other things, he called for a strong European president with extensive powers, a strong finance minister with dictatorial powers over all 27-member nations, a stronger united military and a more aggressive foreign policy; all of this to begin immediately after Brexit is completed in March, 2019.

This, remember, is a man who is at the head of the world’s most powerful economic system.   It has a population roughly one and a half times that of the United States and a currency that is used by more people around the world than the US dollar.   While the dollar keeps falling in value, the euro is rising, now at $1.20.   This reflects growing confidence in the euro and declining confidence in the greenback.

Note the following from the London Daily Express:

“After listening to more than an hour of Jean-Claude Juncker’s self-agrandising State of the Union speech Farage’s laser-guided attack took just seconds to dismantle almost every plan, proposal and pontification made by the former Luxembourg politician turned European Commission President.

He called Jean-Claude Juncker’s plans to hugely expand the powers of the EU without a vote “extremely worrying” and shouted:   “Thank *** we’re leaving!  You’ve learned nothing from Brexit!”

“The former UKIP boss, and champion of Brexit, added that Juncker and his colleagues were appointing powerful unelected people in positions of huge power including “a finance minister who intervenes when he feels it necessary” and plans for “a European army with a more aggressive foreign policy.”

“And all this to be done without the consent of the people.”

“Mr. Farage was clearly appalled by Junker’s earlier claim that the EU could appoint pan-European ministers with unprecedented powers WITHOUT any form of electoral process.”   (“Nigel Farage TERRIFIED at Juncker’s plan for UNDEMOCRATIC EU”, Daily Express, 9/13/17).

Mr. Juncker’s speech does not mean that all is well in the Union, or that there is perfect harmony between member countries.   Some of the former communist countries of Eastern Europe are at odds with Brussels over a number of issues, including migration.

Note the following from Bloomberg Politics:

“European leaders are declaring the continent’s financial crisis to be over, but now a political one is fermenting.

“A battle between European Union regulators and the Polish government over its plans to weaken the judiciary’s independence is splitting eastern and western Europe……

“The government in Warsaw is at the sharp end of a campaign to rein in errant states.   Populist leaders in Poland and Hungary have been emboldened by Donald Trump’s U.S. presidency and Britain’s decision to quit the EU.  Yet the continent’s center has held together. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is now joined by French President Emmanuel Macron in an active defense of Europe against those centrifugal forces.   Opponents in the east face the prospect of being marginalized politically and even economically.  (“Europe’s Eastern Rebels expose next fault line for EU leaders”, Jonathan Stearns, Bloomberg, July 29th, 2017)”

Europe has come a long way since the European Coal and Steel Community was formed 66 years ago, in 1951.   Six years later, six countries signed the Treaty of Rome, which laid the foundation for the European Union.  Those six countries eventually became 28. Following Brexit they are now at 27.   A few more could leave over various issues.   Perhaps they will get down to the biblical number ten, forming the final union of ten European nations that will be a future superpower.   You can read about this revival of the Roman Empire in Revelation chapter 17.    66 years ago, only serious Bible students would have foreseen the EU becoming as powerful as it is.

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500 YEARS AFTER MARTIN LUTHER

  • Turkey controls 900 mosques in Germany and feels free to say that a “liberal mosque” in Germany is “incompatible” with Islam.
  • Can you imagine Germany offering Iraq, Syria and Egypt to build “200 new churches” to reconstruct the derelict and dispossessed Christian communities there?   No, because in the Middle East, Christians have been eradicated in a forced de-Christianization.
  • Christians in Germany will become a minority in the next 20 years, according to Die Welt.
  • We risk losing not only our churches, but more importantly, our cultural strength and even confidence in the values of our own civilization.

(Germany:  the rise of Islam,  Giulio Meotti , Gatestone Institute, September 12th, 2017.)

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“Why do millions of Muslims risk everything to reach a civilization they blame for all the world’s evils?” (Burak Bekdil, a Muslim, “What’s on the Mind of a Muslim refugee?” Middle East Forum, September 10th.)

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LONDON TERROR ATTACK

There was another terror attack on the London Underground (subway) this morning, during the rush hour.   It injured 22 people. There would have been many more casualties, including deaths, if the IED had exploded properly as intended.   The train had dozens of school children on board, likely the intended target.    (The Manchester Arena target in May was also children.)

Theresa May called an emergency Cabinet meeting following this morning’s attack.

It’s rather pointless.   No western leader will do anything about the immigration policies that have led to the current situation.  Even President Trump is backing away from the promises he made before the election.

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If You Live in Freedom, Thank the British Empire

Was the British Empire a good or bad thing for the world? To put it another way, is freedom a good or bad thing for the world? Historian and author H.W. Crocker III explains why we may want to rethink the British Empire’s bad rap.
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 US DEBT

Americans are starting to pile up more credit card debt than ever before.

According to a new study released Monday, U.S. consumers added $33 billion in credit card debt during the second quarter of 2017, making it the second-highest point of debt since the end of 2008.

Personal Finance website WalletHub.com — who conducted the study—projects that by the end of 2017, Americans will pile more than $60 billion in new credit card debt, which means overall the U.S. is headed towards well over $1 trillion in credit card debt.  (Fox Business News, 9/11)