Tag Archives: Jo Johnson

SUICIDES UP IN US, DOWN GLOBALLY

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

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

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

LIFE EXPECTANCY DOWN IN US

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

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

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

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

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

——————————————————

CONTINUING BREXIT CRISIS

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

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

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

——————————————————————

IS THE GLOBAL ECONOMY TAKING A DOWNTURN?

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

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

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

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

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

“NEW YORK 30% OFF”

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

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

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

GM ANNOUNCES 15,000 JOB CUTS   (Monday)

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

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

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

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

———————————————————

AN ARMY OF THE EUROPEANS

Military Union in the Making

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

Strategic Autonomy

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

————————————————–

‘THE DAY OF THE DICTATOR IS OVER!”

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

——————————————————–

TWO CHUMMY MURDERERS

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

————————————————————–

HERALDING THE SOCIALIST PARADISE

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

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

———————————————————

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

Advertisements

SIGNIFICANT MIDTERMS

The US midterm elections do not normally get much attention, as the office of the presidency is not up for a vote.   This year has been quite different, with the election seen by many as a “referendum” on Donald Trump.   The country is very divided and there was a very high turnout.

The Irish Times, of all papers, got it right with the following comment on the midterm election.

“Many in the (US) had hoped that the first full electoral verdict on the presidency of Donald Trump would deliver a decisive repudiation of Trumpism.   The results do not bear this out.” — Irish Times.

In fact, Donald Trump’s legitimacy as president was confirmed by Tuesday’s election.   He emerged as a credible candidate for a second term in 2020.

This goes even further – populist parties around the world have received greater legitimacy.   Liberals and globalists will now have to accept that a significant percentage of the population does not want to continue in the same direction, but wants to put their own country first, over all others.

Brazil is the latest country to vote for a populist as president.   Brazil is the second most powerful nation in the Americas. President Jair Bolsonaro has said that he will follow Trump (and Guatemala) in recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.   He also plans a radical program similar to what the US president is trying to do at home.

At a press conference the morning after the election, an African-American reporter with PBS accused the president of advocating “white nationalism.”    Mr. Trump was quick to respond and point out that he is a “nationalist,” not a “white nationalist.”   He puts America first.   Most of the journalists present did not seem to understand the concept!

We are likely to see more evidence of this over the weekend when Mr. Trump joins European leaders for the centenary of the end of the First World War.   The celebrations are being held in France.   President Macron of France has already said that the war was a good example of how allies cooperating can achieve great things; he has also emphasized that the Europeans need to work together even more now that the US is less committed to Europe.

Another issue likely to arise is highlighted by this comment from the German newspaper Die Welt, following Tuesday’s election:

“. . . Trump is expected significantly to increase pressure on Europeans to invest the target of two percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on defense.   Above all, Berlin will face pressure to spend billions and billions of euros, because the federal government is far from achieving this goal.” — Die Welt

It’s easy to understand why the president of the United States is pressuring Germany on this issue, but many Europeans, including Germans, are not so keen on seeing a more militarized Germany.   Just because a nation has been a democracy for seventy years does not mean it will remain one.   Just look at history!

The press conference on the morning after the midterms was also significant and not just because the PBS and CNN reporters were  put down, for different reasons.

Nancy Pelosi was the Democratic Party spokesperson and, true to form, talked up her party’s gains on Tuesday, even though they were nowhere near as good as she herself had predicted.   She spoke of how the “monied power” had been defeated, a throw back to when the Republican Party was considered the enemy of the working man.

On the same day, I learned of a new book by Anthony Scaramucci, “Trump, the blue collar president.”   When I Googled the book, this blurb came up on “Google Books:”

“Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci tells the inside story of how Donald J. Trump, a billionaire living on Fifth Avenue, identified the struggle of blue-collar Americans, and won the Presidency.   TRUMP, THE BLUE-COLLAR PRESIDENT is the comeback story for America and Americans …”

It’s clearly not possible for Nancy Pelosi to claim the Democrats are the party of the working man when Donald Trump, a Republican, is the “blue collar president.”

The Dems’ enthusiasm for the “caravan” moving through Mexico, headed for the border, will only result in Americans at the bottom of the economic ladder losing their jobs, forcing down wages.   Trump’s promise to refuse them entry will help blue-collar workers far more.

Times have changed.   Populists across the world are the new parties of “blue collar” workers – they appeal to the grassroots.   But the liberal, intellectual parties fail to understand this.

Ms Pelosi, at 78, is out of touch with reality.

It was pointed out on the BBC the evening of the election that the average age of the three top Democrats in Congress is 75.   This contrasts with the average age of the three top Republicans in Congress, which is 48.   The new democrats entering Congress are not likely to want to be led by somebody who is so out of touch with the winds of change that are sweeping America.   The last election showed that the Dems are the wealthier party.   The Wall Street Journal last week said the midterms were a battle between college educated white women and non-college educated white blue-collar workers.   It’s all topsy-turvy!

A further change was also highlighted in the Wall Street Journal (and on TV), that 40% of African-Americans now support President Trump.   It’s not so long ago that only 4% voted for the Republicans!

Liberal news programs were enthused at the fact that the new House of Representatives is more diverse, with more women, including  the first two Muslim women.  But diversity is the opposite of unity and could do further damage to the political system.

One final thought comes from noted columnist Pat Buchanan who wrote this morning:   “The war in Washington will not end until the presidency of Donald Trump ends.   Everyone seems to sense that now.”  (“The War for the soul of America”)

Jesus Christ once said that If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”  (Mark 3:25).   A recent poll revealed that one third of Americans think the country is headed for a civil war.   This scripture was used by Abraham Lincoln on the eve of the last one, on June 16th, 1858.

The times, they are a-changing, indeed!

——————————————————————

BREXIT

Britain’s decision in a referendum to exit the European Union is getting more and more complicated.   Today, Jo Johnson, the brother of the former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, resigned declaring that leaving Europe is “a terrible mistake.”   This will make it even more difficult for Prime Minister Theresa May to steer the whole process through parliament.   Others may resign as the Brexit deadline of March 29th gets closer.

It’s a mess!

——————————————————————–

ISLAM

1)   Pompano Beach, Florida, Friday Sermon By Imam Hasan Sabri: Palestine Must Be Liberated ‘Even If This Leads To The Martyrdom Of Tens Of Millions Of Muslims’.

2) Asia Bibi is a young Christian mother in Pakistan, who made the mistake of drinking out of a glass that had been used by Muslims.   For this, she was put on trial for blasphemy.   There were huge demonstrations calling for her death.

She was freed, but is going to have to leave the country as Muslim citizens still want her executed.   There have even been calls for other family members and her lawyers to be put to death.

Pakistan remains an ally of the United States.

3) Saudi Arabia is also an ally, in spite of the officially sanctioned murder of a US based journalist who worked for the Washington Post.

Jamal Khashoggi went to the Saudi Embassy in Turkey to get papers that would enable him to marry. He never left.   It seems that he was murdered in a gruesome manner, and then dismembered, his remains carried out in black plastic trash bags.

——————————————————————

GERMANY

Today is the centenary of the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany.   His resignation ended 400 years of Hohenzollern rule over Prussia and, after 1871, Germany.   Wilhelm is often blamed for World War I, though it’s a lot more complicated than that.   Two days after he fled to neutral Holland, the war ended.   World War II started a little over twenty years later.

Today is also the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass.   On this night, November 9, 1938, almost 200 synagogues were destroyed, over 8,000 Jewish shops were attacked and dozens of Jews were killed in Germany under the Third Reich.