Tag Archives: Michigan

WORST DEPRESSION SINCE 1706

(The Spectator, April 11, 2020)

Bank of England warns of sharpest annual contraction since 1706    For the year as a whole, the economy is expected to contract by 14%. 

This would be the biggest annual decline on record, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) data dating back to 1949.   It would also be the sharpest annual contraction since 1706, according to reconstructed Bank of England data stretching back to the 18th Century.    By Szu Ping Chan, Business reporter, BBC News, 7 May, 2020    (https://www.bbc.com/news/business-52566030 (5/7)

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 Factories in US Close for Good as Coronavirus Cuts Demand    Some manufacturers that furloughed employees during lockdowns say plants won’t reopen

Factory furloughs across the U.S. are becoming permanent closings, a sign of the heavy damage the coronavirus pandemic and shutdowns are exerting on the industrial economy.   (Wall Street Journal, 5/11/2020)

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U.S. levels of hunger and unemployment are soaring
Nearly one in five young children in the U.S. are going hungry. 

That’s according to a new survey of households by the Brookings Institution, which found that 17.4 percent of children were not eating enough.   The level is three times as high as in 2008, during the Great Recession.

Disruptions in school meal programs during the pandemic may be part of the problem, the lead researcher said, with some families unable to reach distribution sites and older siblings at home competing for limited food.   As hunger rises, Democrats in Washington are seeking to raise food stamp benefits for the duration of the economic crisis, but Republicans have balked at a long-term expansion of the program.

April’s labor report, due Friday, is expected to show that U.S. payrolls fell by 22 million, according to economists surveyed by MarketWatch.   The worst monthly loss on record was nearly two million jobs in September 1945. (NY Times, 7 May 2020)

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Covid-19 is our punishment, but we need to work with doctors to fight the pandemic, says Zulu king
9 May 2020, by Zimasa Matiwane,  TimesLive

Zulu King Zwelithini also believes Africa had strayed from God and earned his wrath and if the people of Africa “went back to God, I am certain he will protect us.”   “We must admit that we angered Jehovah, that is why he is punishing us, he is humbling us.   This tells me God wants us as a nation, he wants his time with us as a nation. It’s a time where God wanted us to prepare, in connecting with him, not just to meet at churches, he wanted a one-on-one with us,” the monarch explained. King Goodwill Zwelithini addressed his subjects via Zoom on Saturday about Covid-19.

(https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2020-05-09-covid-19-is-our-punishment-but-we-need-to-work-with-doctors-to-fight-the-pandemic-says-zulu-king/)

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PROTEST AGAINST BORDER CLOSURE

Over the weekend, hundreds of French and Luxembourgian citizens have protested the ongoing closure of German borders.   On March 16, the German government unilaterally reinstated strict border controls.   Since then, German police have prevented more than 100,000 citizens of several neighboring countries from entering Germany.   Berlin’s measures have been causing considerable hardships also for French and Luxembourgian citizens, working in German factories and hospitals.   They are also being regularly exposed to harassment by German border police and to a resurgence of old anti-French chauvinism in Germany.   French commuters are increasingly being treated as “second-class EU citizens,” notes a French senator.

The former EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had warned that “Germany will cause permanent damage with the way it is treating some of its neighbors.” 

Germany’s crisis policy is also provoking protests in Southern and Eastern Europe.   (German Foreign Policy, 5/11)

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MEMORIES OF WORLD WAR II

Union Jacks lowered, replaced with swastikas.   This was the British government’s worst nightmare in the early years of the second world war.   And in June 1940 it became reality in the Channel Islands, the only British territory to come under Nazi control.   Today they celebrate their 75th annual “Liberation Day” since the German surrender.   The islands just off France’s northern coast endured almost five years of Nazi rule; food shortages inspired Guernsey’s famous “potato-peel pie.”   With a media blackout in place, local journalists set up an underground news service.  Jersey’s residents daubed swastikas on the houses of anyone considered too cosy with the invaders.   But the islands were not exactly a hotbed of anti-Nazi resistance.   Just two local politicians spoke out against anti-Semitic orders.   Jews were registered and their businesses liquidated.   Most were deported.   Three died in Auschwitz.   Indeed the islands’ experience weakens post-war claims that Britain would have resisted Nazi occupation more strongly than other European states. (The Economist, 5/9/2020)

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MODERN FRANCE

A few months ago, a police officer, Noam Anouar, who infiltrated Islamist circles . . . stated that no-go zones in France are now foreign enclaves on French territory.   “The gangs operating there,” he wrote, “have formed a parallel economy based on drug trafficking. They consider themselves at war with France and with Western civilization.   They act in cooperation with Islamist organizations, and define acts of predation and rampage as raids against infidels.”   He noted that reclaiming these areas today would be complicated, costly, and involve calling in the army.

For years, successive French governments have chosen a policy of “willful blindness”:   they simply behave as if they do not see what is going on.   They do not even try to find solutions.   (Guy Milliere, Gatestone, 5/10/2020)

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72 Knesset Members back Netanyahu to form next government
Once approved by Rivlin, Likud leader has two weeks to form a government; move comes hours after Knesset passes amendment to Basic Law that allows for Netanyahu and Gantz to share premiership as part of recently signed coalition deal
(Associated Press, 7 May 2020, Ynet)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formally received the support of a majority of lawmakers to lead a new government on Thursday, paving the way for a controversial power-sharing deal with rival-turned-partner Benny Gantz.   Likud and Blue & White said that “representatives of the two parties submitted to President Reuven Rivlin the 72 signatures of Knesset members recommending Benjamin Netanyahu for the task of assembling an emergency national unity government.”

Once approved by Rivlin, Netanyahu will have two weeks to form a government.   Of the 72 MKs who supported Netanyahu, 36 were members of Likud, 16 came from Blue & White, two were from Derech Eretz party, two from Labor, nine from Shas and seven from United Torah Judaism.   Lawmakers from Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party did not add their support to back Netanyahu and was unclear whether they would join the new government, which is set to be sworn in on Wednesday of next week.
(https://www.ynetnews.com/article/ry57ljWq8)

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CBS CHEATS

During a pandemic, the media can play an invaluable role in providing accurate reporting so that people may take action based on the best available information.

Scare tactics not only gravely undermine that sacred duty but give credence to the dangerously wrong belief that the coronavirus (COVID-19) presents no real threat.

For a second time, that lesson appears lost on CBS News.  Weeks ago, the network aired footage of a chaotic scene at an Italian hospital while alleging the video came from New York City.

Project Veritas has now learned that a CBS News crew filming in Grand Rapids, Michigan wasn’t satisfied with the orderly COVID-19 testing scene at Cherry Medical Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Getting their desired footage involved taking medical professionals away from their duties and getting them in cars to give the illusion that the line of patients was longer.   (Townhall)

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GREATEST DANGER TO CATHOLIC CHURCH

Life Site News reported on May 4:   “Dr. Robert Moynihan, the editor-in-chief of the Catholic journal Inside the Vatican, revealed on April 23 that he once had a conversation with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (who later became Pope Benedict XVI) about the ‘greatest danger to the Church,’ and he recounts that Ratzinger said:   ‘It is Freemasonry . . . Bishop Schneider states that Freemasons were crucial in the promotion of abortion, same-sex ‘marriage,’ and euthanasia in France . . .

“Then-Cardinal Ratzinger was already in the 1980s so concerned about the nature and work of Freemasonry that he worked out a statement for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, whose Prefect he then was, which repeated the Church’s long-standing ban on Freemasonry.   That is to say, he re-stated that Catholics may not be members of Freemasonry.   On November 26, 1983, Ratzinger signed a document that stated, ‘Therefore the Church’s negative judgment in regard to Masonic association remains unchanged since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and therefore membership in them remains forbidden.   The faithful who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.’”

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POST-CORONA CHURCHES

Stephen Bullivant, whose book Mass Exodus studied Catholic attrition in Britain and America, offers three reasons why he believes churches will shrink after the pandemic.

First, he says, churchgoers (both lay and clergy) tend to be elderly and therefore more likely to die of coronavirus.   Second, many churches rely on a steady influx of immigrants.   With the world in lockdown, that supply has, at least temporarily, dried up.   Third, churchgoing is a habit, and once that habit is broken, it is hard to take it up again.  (“Risen Again,” Luke Coppen, The Spectator (UK), 4/11/2020)

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TO THE POINT

  • Deadly attacks on funeral and hospital in Afghanistan — A suicide bomber has attacked the funeral of a police commander in Afghanistan, killing at least 24 people and injuring 68. In a separate attack, gunmen disguised as police stormed a hospital in the Afghan capital Kabul, killing 16 people, including two newborn babies, at a maternity clinic run by the humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders.  (The Week, 5/18/2020)
  • The Trump administration ordered that an American federal pension fund, the Thrift Savings Plan, with around $600bn under management, stop investing in all Chinese companies.  The White House says they pose national-security threats and might become subject to sanctions.   There is a growing clamor among Republicans to devise punitive measures against China, which they accuse of covering-up facts about covid-19.   (The Economist, 5/13/2020)
  • The number of confirmed cases of covid-19 surged past 4m globally, with more than 282,000 deaths.   America, with a third of the world’s fatalities, is by far the worst-hit country.   Yet even governments that appeared to have tamed the disease warned of its re-emergence.   South Korea reported 35 new cases on Monday—its biggest increase in a month.   A new cluster of infections in Shulan, in north-eastern China, forced the city into complete lockdown.   And Germany’s infection rate accelerated. (The Economist, 5/11/2020)
  • Boris Johnson, Britain’s prime minister, announced plans to relax England’s lockdown, encouraging people who cannot work from home to return to their jobs and permitting more outdoor activities from Wednesday.   Shops and some schools may reopen in June.   Mr. Johnson’s new “stay alert” slogan was criticized by some for being confusing.   Harsher restrictions will remain in Scotland and Wales. (The Economist, 5/11/2020)
  • “The American media is using the virus crisis in order to attack Trump, but the Greek people will not tolerate such craven opportunism and dishonesty.   Criticism of the government is almost non-existent, as the suddenly wise populace is united against the unseen menace.”  (Taki, The Spectator, 4/11/2020).

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AFTERTHOUGHT

As if the coronavirus isn’t bad enough, debt could be the determining factor as regards the future of the US in particular and the West in general.

I got to thinking about this during the week when Nancy Pelosi proposed giving every household in the US $6,000.   That’s a total of $3 trillion.   To be added to a national debt of $23.3.   What’s an extra $3 trillion between friends?

Isn’t anybody frightened of debt anymore?  I know I avoid it like the plague (the coronavirus!).

Romans 13:8 tells us to “Owe no one anything.”

If you are in debt, you are not in the best position to weather whatever storms may come your way as a result of the virus (unemployment, reduced hours and wages, rising food prices, to name just three).

Why did you get into debt in the first place?

Let’s be honest here – greed is normally the answer.   We want.   We want things we can’t afford, but we believe the ads that tell us “you owe it to yourself.”

Or we want a bigger home (why?), or a second car (why?) or new furniture (again, why?).

Matthew 6:31-33:   So don’t worry about these things, saying, “What will we eat?  What will we drink?  What will we wear?”  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Stay out of debt.   If you’re in debt, get out of it ASAP.   You will be able to cope with the new reality, the “new normal,” a lot better if you’re not in debt.

MR     

MORE ON CORONA

AMERICA AHEAD

Good morning.   “The US has more confirmed cases of the coronavirus than any other nation on Earth.  Yet Donald Trump has fallen back on his favorite solution to any problem, announcing an executive order that would temporarily suspend all immigration from other countries.   Democrats slammed the move, with one congressman calling it no more than “xenophobic scapegoating.”

Meanwhile, epidemiologists have warned that the greater threat is from within, saying recent anti-lockdown rallies across the country could lead to a surge in new infections.   In Georgia, governor Brian Kemp announced businesses including gyms, cinemas and restaurants would reopen in the state over the coming days, despite the objections of public heath experts.   (Tim Walker, The Guardian, 4/21/2020)

This is a typical Guardian piece from across the water.   It seems to me that the president made a very sensible decision, to halt immigration to help save American jobs.  It’s only for two months.  When things get back to normal, if unemployment persists, there should be no going back to open borders.

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CHINA’S ECONOMY DOWN

 That the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic will be immense is obvious.  Just how bad?  And when can countries start to heal?  China offered a preliminary answer today when it announced that its first-quarter GDP fell by 6.8%, compared with last year.  The last time China’s economy shrank was 1976, the year the Cultural Revolution ended.  It was a foregone conclusion that growth had suffered after lockdowns were imposed nationwide in late January. More notable therefore were indicators for March.   Encouragingly, industrial production fell just 1% year-on-year, a reflection of progress made in restarting factories.   Discouragingly, retail sales were down 16% over the same period, with stores and restaurants open but few visiting them.   Having drastically reduced new infections, China’s economy is creaking back to life.   But people remain anxious and movement is restricted.   In such an inhospitable environment, familiar now around the world, the recovery is likely to be tepid at best.  (The Economist, 4/17/2020)

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GERMAN FOREIGN POLICY

The German government is joining the US campaign of allegations against China regarding the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.  Last weekend, US President Donald Trump warned the People’s Republic that it should face consequences if it was “knowingly responsible” for the spread of the pandemic.  Washington is simultaneously spreading deliberate rumors that the virus could have originated in a Chinese laboratory.   Whereas, scientists vehemently refute the allegations, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas declared, he “does not want to exclude” that the WHO will have to deal with these issues.   On Monday, Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Beijing to show “transparency” on the issue.   Senior German military officials have recently been demanding that the EU adopt “a joint political-strategic response” to China’s growing strength, because in the Corona crisis, Beijing is gaining considerable influence.   According to a recent poll, more than half of the Italian population sees China as a “friend,” while nearly half see Germany as an “enemy.”  (German Foreign Policy, 4/21)

ANTI-CHINESE FEELING HIGH IN GERMANY

In view of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the German media are stepping up their blame on China by moving to openly ask for compensation.  The People’s Republic “has caused the pandemic,” this is what the mainstream media repeatedly say.   And the Springer press insists on “compensation” by headlining “What China already owes us.”   The agitation began when it became apparent that the People’s Republic of China was able to overcome the crisis more lightly than the Western powers and their global rise are likely to continue, while the transatlantic states are in danger of being thrown back by their totally inadequate preparation for the pandemic.   The claims are accompanied by a massive anti-Chinese sentiment; just to make an example, it is currently stated that Peking follows a “strategy of unrestricted warfare, already formulated by the Chinese military a good two decades ago.   The statement is not correct, but it is similar to claims based on lies used against Russia for years.   (German Foreign Policy, 4/17/2020)

BERLIN – The editor-in-chief of Germany’s largest paper Bild on Thursday launched a full frontal attack on China’s communist President Xi Jinping for his regime’s failure to come clean about the coronavirus outbreak and the massive human rights violations carried out by the Communist Party.   Julian Reichelt, the prominent editor-in-chief of the Bild, wrote to Jinping that  “Your embassy in Berlin has addressed me in an open letter because we asked in our newspaper Bild whether China should pay for the massive economic damage the coronavirus is inflicting worldwide.”

He wrote that, “You [Jinping], your government and your scientists had to know long ago that coronavirus is highly infectious, but you left the world in the dark about it.  Your top experts didn’t respond when Western researchers asked to know what was going on in Wuhan.   You were too proud and too nationalistic to tell the truth, which you felt was a national disgrace.”

Reichelt said that, “You rule by surveillance.  You wouldn’t be president without surveillance.  You monitor everything, every citizen, but you refuse to monitor the diseased wet markets in your country.  You shut down every newspaper and website that is critical of your rule, but not the stalls where bat soup is sold.   You are not only monitoring your people, you are endangering them – and with them, the rest of the world.”

He continued with his bill of particulars, noting that “surveillance is a denial of freedom.   And a nation that is not free, is not creative.   A nation that is not innovative, does not invent anything.   This is why you have made your country the world champion in intellectual property theft.

“China enriches itself with the inventions of others, instead of inventing on its own,” Reichelt wrote.   “The reason China does not innovate and invent is that you don’t let the young people in your country think freely.   China’s greatest export hit (that nobody wanted to have, but which has nevertheless gone around the world) is coronavirus.”

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ISRAEL FINALLY GETS A NEW GOVERNMENT

Israel will soon have a new coalition government after an agreement was signed on Monday evening between Likud and Blue and White, putting an end to a 17-month political stalemate that resulted in three elections.

As part of the deal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has served as caretaker prime minister since December 2018, will remain prime minister for another 18 months and then will be replaced in October 2021 by Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, who will serve as vice prime minister in the meantime.   Netanyahu will be vice prime minister under Gantz after that, but if Netanyahu leaves the Prime Minister’s Office sooner, Gantz would already take over

“I promised the State of Israel a national emergency government that will work to save lives and livelihoods of Israeli citizens,” Netanyahu said.   Gantz expressed his relief that an election that would have been held on August 4 if a deal was not reached by May 7 had been averted.   “We prevented a fourth election,” Gantz said. “We will protect our democracy and fight against the coronavirus.”

US President Donald Trump’s peace plan, including its clauses enabling Israel to apply sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, will be able to be implemented in July, when maps are set to be finalized.   In a controversial clause, both Netanyahu and Gantz will have the right to an official residence fully funded by the state.   In another, the so-called Norwegian law will be changed to allow ministers to quit and new MKs to enter the Knesset, including in Blue and White, skipping over MKs from the Yesh Atid and Telem parties that will remain in the opposition.

The Movement for Quality Government and other watchdog groups petitioned the High Court of Justice late Monday, demanding that the court prevent Netanyahu from forming a government, due to his criminal indictments.

(MORE:  https://www.jpost.com/breaking-news/a-joint-meeting-between-netanyahu-and-gantz-to-start-soon-625241)

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South Africa deploys over 70,000 troops to enforce lockdown

More than 70,000 extra troops will be deployed in South Africa to help enforce a lockdown intended to stop the spread of coronavirus, President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced.  South Africa has had 3,465 confirmed coronavirus cases – second only to Egypt in Africa – and 58 deaths.  The country has some of the most stringent coronavirus lockdown restrictions in the world.  But security forces have struggled to enforce them.  Since 27 March only essential service providers, such as health workers, financial services providers, journalists and retail workers, are allowed to continue going to work.  Businesses that provide essential services have been applying for a special permit from the government that allows their members of staff to go outside.  The restrictions include no jogging outside, no sales of alcohol or cigarettes, no dog-walking, no leaving home except for essential trips and prison or heavy fines for law-breaking.

President Ramaphosa said he had decided to deploy an extra 73,180 soldiers in a letter addressed to parliament on Tuesday.

The lockdown restrictions currently apply until Thursday 30 April.

Economic relief package:   He also announced an economic relief package worth $26bn (£21bn) intended to protect companies and three million workers during the coronavirus pandemic. I  n a televised address, he said the assistance amounted to 10% of South Africa’s entire GDP.    Mr. Ramaphosa said the measures included tax relief, wage support through the unemployment insurance fund and funding to small businesses. (4/22/2020)   (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-52387962  

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AUSTRALIA’S REPUBLICANS AT IT AGAIN

The Australian Republican movement bears no resemblance to Republicans in the United States.  They are not a conservative force at all.   Their sole aim is to end Australia’s constitutional monarchy, which has helped the country achieve unparalleled stability and prosperity.  They have now stooped to attacking Queen Elizabeth’s faith, claiming it discriminates against other religions.  The fact is the Queen’s Protestantism and that of her ancestors laid a foundation of religious tolerance for the country.   The Queen, who turned 94 on Tuesday, is highly respected by most Australians.

PRO-republicans are engaged in a heartless waiting game as they plot to overturn Australia’s constitutional monarchy.

Realizing a vast majority of Australians retain a deep admiration for their 93-year-old Queen, republicans are counting down her demise before launching an emotion-charged assault on Australia’s constitution.

By taking this tack they hope to muddy the debate around the nation’s most important foundational document.

Their aim is to shift the conversation from one of constitutional protections and reason into an emotion-charged hysteria about the “un-likability” of Queen Elizabeth’s heirs.

If you think the Queen is nice, their argument goes, then we should remain a constitutional monarchy. But if her successor doesn’t do it for you, then we must change.

They believe time is on their side.   (Sean Burke, Politicom, 3/13/2020)

Politicom is a conservative Australian newsletter.

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US DEFEAT IN AFGHANISTAN

On February 29, 2020 – after 18 months of talks sponsored by Qatar in Doha – the U.S. and the jihadi group Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Taliban organization) signed an agreement in the Qatari capital on the future of Afghanistan.  The democratically elected government of Afghanistan, headed by Ashraf Ghani, was excluded from the talks and from the agreement, and, despite the fact that the Taliban rejected any ceasefire as a precondition for the talks, the U.S. capitulated and agreed to a one-week “Reduction In Violence” on the part of the Taliban.

The agreement was hailed as victory and as an American surrender by Al-Qaeda and by the Taliban leaders at celebratory events across Afghanistan.   The agreement was titled “Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan Between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Which is Not Recognized by the United States as a State And is Known as the Taliban, And the United States of America,” but the Islamic Emirate issued a statement in which it dubbed the pact the “Termination of Occupation Agreement Between the Islamic Emirate and U.S.”

A month after the Doha agreement, the democratically elected government of President Ashraf Ghani is being badgered by both the U.S. and the Taliban to free 5,000 Taliban prisoners.   (MEMRI,  4/21/2020)

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DOES EUROPE HAVE ANY CONSERVATIVES?

Does Europe have any conservatives?   That is, believers in individual responsibility, national independence, free markets, a single law for all, the traditional family, and maximum freedom of speech and religion.

Seemingly not. Politicians called conservative – such as Angela Merkel of Germany Jacques Chirac of France, and Fredrik Reinfeldt of Sweden – are often in reality mild leftists, as are their parties.  One might conclude that conservatism is defunct in its homeland.

One would be wrong.   A substantial conservative movement exists and is growing in Europe.  It is hiding in plain sight, obscured by being tarred as populists, nationalists, extreme-right, or even Neo‑Nazis.   I call this group by another name:   civilizationists, acknowledging that (1) they focus on preserving Western civilization and (2) they forward some distinctly un-conservative policies (such as increased welfare and pension payments).

Civilizationists’ top concern is not battling climate change, building the European Union, nor staving off Russian and Chinese aggression; rather, they focus on preserving Europe’s historic civilization of the past two millennia.  They worry about Europe becoming an extension of the Middle East or Africa.   Already, indigenous Europeans complain of feeling like strangers in their hometowns, of pensioners too scared to leave their houses, and of a school’s few Christian and Jewish students beat up by immigrant bullies.   Imagine how things will look as the proportions change.

The civilizationists’ anxiety contains four main elements: demography, immigration, multiculturalism, and Islamization (or DIMI, recalling the Arabic word dhimmi, the status of Jews and Christians who submit to the rule of Muslims).   (“Finding Europe’s hidden conservatives,” Daniel Pipes, 4/21/2020)

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AFRICAN LEADERS ENJOY FIRST CLASS MEDICAL CARE WHILE THEIR PEOPLE GO WITHOUT

When Muhammadu Buhari was elected president of Nigeria in 2015 — amid a wave of disgust towards the corruption that plagues his giant nation — he promised to put a stop to politicians flying abroad for medical treatment.   It was a popular pledge, especially after revelations that the state spent $1bn a year on health tourism for rich elites while offering dire services for almost everyone else.   He underlined his stance soon after taking office, telling a doctors’ conference he did not want “hard-earned resources” frittered away on officials seeking care abroad when it could be delivered at home.

Such fine and righteous words.   So there was fury the following year when this leader in his seventies flew to London for treatment of an ear infection.   This was “a tragic blot” on Nigeria’s image, thundered Dr. Osahon Enabulele, a former head of its medical association.  The new president, he added, should have used his minor ailment to focus people on the urgent need for domestic health reform.

But Buhari was not listening.   He went off on several more trips and, by the end of his first term last year, had spent at least 170 days in Britain on health grounds.

Buhari is far from the only African leader to display such lack of faith in his own nation.  Robert Mugabe died last year aged 95 in a Singaporean hospital, having so wrecked Zimbabwe and its medical system that life expectancy plummeted by 26 years at one point. “It is very symbolic the former president who presided over the system for three decades can’t trust the health system,” said one doctor after his death.  Other physicians complained of carrying out surgery without even putting on protective gloves.

Meles Zenawi ruled Ethiopia for 21 years, suckering Western admirers who overlooked his savage repression as they fell for his talk of development — yet this wily despot died in a Belgian hospital. Omar Bongo ran Gabon for 42 years, then died in Barcelona having plundered his country’s wealth obscenely while leaving his tiny 2.2m population trapped in poverty.

Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who ruled and ripped off Angola for almost as long, travelled to the same Catalan city for treatment. Algeria’s former president went to a Swiss hospital after running his nation for 20 years, then suffering a stroke.   Benin’s president went to France for surgery.   Two Zambian leaders died abroad while receiving medical attention.   (“Covid-19 will expose Africa’s tyrants”, Ian Birrell, Unherd, 4/20/2020)

Due to the pandemic,  Africa’s leaders can no longer travel abroad for medical treatment.

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IRAN’S DRONES CAN HIT ISRAEL

Iran’s Defense Ministry unveiled a mass of new drones [unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs] over the weekend for the Islamic Republic’s army and air force.   According to Tehran the drones have new capabilities, and can fly more than 1,000 km, which means they could reach Israel from Iran.

Iran has been producing drones since the 1980s and is an innovator in drone warfare.   It used 25 drones and cruise missiles to attack Saudi Arabia last September, and has flown drones into Israeli airspace.

Iran’s Defense Minister Brig.-Gen. Amir Hatami showed off the drones on Saturday.   He said that one jet-powered UAV could fly at speeds of 900 km per hour at an altitude of 12,000 meters.  This would rival the best drones that the US and other countries are now using.   These drones have a range of up to 1,500 km, he said, and can fly for several hours.   It is a message to Israel, the US and their allies: We can reach you.  (Iran’s drones can reach Israel, Seth Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, 4/19/2020)

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TO THE POINT

  • A UNIQUE RAMADAN BEGINS – The Islamic holy month of Ramadan will begin worldwide around April 23.   Because the month typically involves daily social gatherings and communal prayer in mosques, it will present yet more security and economic challenges to local and national governments in Muslim-majority countries already struggling to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.   With some countries like Egypt shutting down traditional Ramadan charity tents for fear of the virus spreading within them, the month could see an exacerbation of existing socioeconomic strain, and with it some disruption to stability over time.   In Indonesia, the annual Mudik pilgrimage could see an estimated 1.3 million people leave the Jakarta area for rural destinations across the archipelago — a potential vector to spread COVID-19 outside its current epicenter in the nation, and one the government has hesitated to crack down on.  (Stratfor, 4/18/2020)
  • With half the world in lockdown, with little else to do but Netflix-and-try-to-chill, the streaming giant unsurprisingly unveiled a bumper set of first-quarter results.   Netflix said it had added nearly 16m new subscribers in the quarter, 23% more than during the same period last year.   Net income, meanwhile, more than doubled to $709m over the same period.   (The Economist, 4/22/2020)
  • 24NYT, a Danish news service, reported on Sunday that the Danish Bible Society just published a revised translation of the New Testament.   The new edition has many surprises, including a new name:   the New Agreement.   But even more shocking is that the “New Agreement has all but removed any references to Israel, whether it describes the land or the people”.
  • Washington:   A day after laying out a roadmap for reviving economic activity, US President Donald Trump has urged his supporters to “liberate” three Democrat-led states, effectively calling for protests against stay-at-home orders aimed at containing the coronavirus.   In a series of tweets, the President urged people in Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia to rise up and “liberate” themselves from restrictions.  He also hit out at New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo for criticising the federal response.  Cuomo “should spend more time ‘doing’ and less time ‘complaining,”‘ he said, adding: “Less talk and more action!”  (AP, 4/18/2020)
  • Corona and the Rise of the German Police State by Thomas Klikauer (author), Jeffrey St. Clair, Editor of Counterpunch (California).       The current crisis is used to prevent protests and to impose measures in a highly authoritarian way.  Currently, there is not much resistance against police measures.   Currently, signs are that Germany is moving [toward] more restrictions issued every day.  There might not be a fully developed police state in Germany but democracy is suffering in Germany and elsewhere.   https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/04/17/corona-and-the-rise-of-the-german-police-state/)

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AFTER THOUGHT

Scientists (including medical experts) are highly respected right now.

It hasn’t always been that way.  There was a time when science had to bow to religion.  All new theories had to fit with the teachings of the established church.

The theory of evolution in 1859 changed all that.

A lot of good has been achieved, but it should also be remembered that there’s been a negative side to science:  abortion, euthanasia, nuclear weapons to name just three.

We must be careful not to elevate scientists and health care professionals, which we are in danger of doing right now.   Scientists likely caused the corona virus through experiments in Wuhan.

We must also be concerned that a victory over corona does not extend to a carte blanche on all things to do with the environment.   A highly respected profession may take us in a direction that could cause all kinds of problems.

All Christians should remember to “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matt 6:33).   A British news program said earlier this week that:  “the NHS is the closest thing Britain has to a national religion.”   Comments like this one are disturbing.

Worshipping science or the health services would be unwise.  That way, we set ourselves up for a fall.

MR     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VIRUS COULD BREAK UP EU

Demonstration at Capital Building in Lansing, MI.  (Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty)

For disobedience to the laws of God, ancient Israelites were told that He would “break the pride of their power” (Leviticus 26:19).   Hebrews 13:8 states that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.”  Disobedience to God’s Laws carries the same penalties it did centuries ago.

The pride of America’s power rests in two areas:  the economy (and, with it, the status of the “Almighty Dollar”) and the military, which is dependent on a vibrant economy.

The economy is going to take a big hit this summer.   (In the UK they are predicting the biggest slump in three centuries!)   Along with the virus itself, this must also have an effect on military preparedness.

Could we see a fulfillment of Lev. 26:19?

MR   

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Anti-Governor Demo in Michigan

It’s not very often Lansing, MI, where we live makes headline news:

Lansing, MI — It’s a wild scene in Lansing today.  Hundreds, if not thousands of demonstrators showed up to the Capitol, protesting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay home order intended to fight the coronavirus pandemic.   Police watched as horns honked and vehicles from around the state jammed the nearby roads.   Crowds even gathered in front of the Capitol, out of their cars, some ignoring social distancing orders.  (Detroit Free Press, 4/15/2020)

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VIRUS COULD BREAK UP EU

BERLIN – The coronavirus pandemic, with its simultaneous health and economic crises, is deepening fault lines within Europe in a way some leaders fear could prove to be a final reckoning.   The cohesion of the European Union had been battered by Brexit, bruised by the political fallout from the 2015 migration surge and the 2008 financial crisis, and challenged by rising autocracy in the east that runs contrary to the professed ideals of the European project.

Now, if Europe’s leaders cannot chart a more united course, the project lies in what one of its architects described this week as “mortal danger.”

In the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, the response among European Union member states showed that national interests trump more-altruistic European ideals.   Border restrictions were reimposed haphazardly, and Germany and France threw up export bans on medical equipment such as masks and ventilators, even as Italy clamored for assistance.

Quick to capitalize were the propaganda machines of Russia and China. Moscow and Beijing have swept in with much-trumpeted — if sometimes defective — medical aid, pushing a savior narrative and providing fodder for the region’s Euroskeptics.   (Drudge Report, 4/3/2020)

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GERMANY BLOCKS CORONABONDS

At the euro finance minister’s video conference, the German government blocked the introduction of “coronabonds,” in spite of massive pressure from other EU nations and recently even from within Germany.   Whereas mainly Italy, Spain and France had insisted that this measure be taken, voices are now being raised from within the German establishment warning that the German government should stop blocking its implementation.   The reason, as leading Green Party politicians are explaining, is that should Italy and Spain suffer economic collapse, Germany’s export industry would be seriously damaged by the loss of these important markets, and – should German assistance be refused – both countries could turn to China.  This must be prevented. The “coronabonds” will cost Germany, however, specialists estimated years ago that the costs would be in the lower double-digit billions, while Germany is simultaneously reaping triple-digit billions in profits – annually.   (German Foreign Policy, 4/9/2020)

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GERMANY’S WAY OUT

The German government has announced plans to gradually lift Covid-19 containment measures, beginning with the partial opening of schools from May 4.   Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday said the country had achieved “fragile intermediate success” in managing the pandemic but said that social distancing would remain in place until at least May 3.  (BBC)   Shops smaller than 800 square metres will be permitted to reopen from next week but must comply with strict hygiene rules.  Der Spiegel reports on how an 11-page tentative exit plan was thrashed out between leaders of the federal government and regional prime ministers using a mix of social distancing and videoconferencing for over four hours.

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Berlin lets mask slip on feelings for Trump’s America                           The crisis has convinced Germans that Trump puts other countries at risk.

BERLIN — Late last week in Bangkok, a shipping container holding thousands of masks destined for the German capital was redirected at the last minute.   As far as Berlin’s city elders are concerned, there wasn’t any doubt about who was to blame:   the “Amis.”   And not just any Amis (German slang for Americans, not to be confused with French ami, or friend), but the commander-in-chief variety.   “The actions of the U.S. president do not just betray a lack of solidarity, they are inhumane and irresponsible,” Berlin Mayor Michael Müller, a Social Democrat, thundered on Twitter.   Andreas Geisel, Berlin’s interior minister, went even further, accusing the U.S. of “confiscating” the masks in Thailand.   If Germans didn’t trust President Donald Trump before the coronavirus outbreak, the crisis has convinced them that his unyielding “America First” instinct puts other countries and their citizens at risk.   That such accusations should emanate from Berlin, a city the U.S. saved from Soviet domination during the Berlin Airlift, underscores the depth of distrust for the American president.

(https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/06/germany-trump-america-170905)

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Larry Elliot in The Guardian on where the buck stops post-pandemic

“One of the problems a party faces when it is in power for a long time is that blaming the opposition for the mess it allegedly left behind no longer cuts it.   The Conservatives have been in power for a decade.   They will eventually be held to account over how prepared the UK was for this crisis . . .   For the right, this is the second major economic crisis in little more than a decade.  It’s the second time the state has needed to come to the rescue of an economic system where the gap between rich and poor has widened, corporations pay as little tax as they can get way with, too little attention is paid to the climate emergency, and a large proportion of the workforce is one paycheck from penury.   For the left, it should be an open goal.”   (The Week, 4/3/2020)

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GERMAN FOREIGN POLICY–Establishment voices in Berlin warn that the EU could disintegrate in the corona crisis and call for economic concessions to Italy and Spain.   Both countries would “never forget in a hundred years, if Europe and we, in particular, would forsake them now,” former foreign ministers Joseph Fischer and Sigmar Gabriel wrote in an appeal published yesterday.   This should not happen because it would endanger the EU.   But “our country” is the Union’s “biggest economic and financial winner.”   Studies show, in fact, that with €86 billion annually, Germany profits more from the EU’s single market than any other EU member.    Since its introduction up until 2017, the single currency has provided Germany nearly €1.9 trillion, whereas it has cost France €3.6 and Italy even €4.3 trillion.   Fischer and Gabriel are pushing for an urgent EU aid program to dampen the rapidly growing EU criticism in Rome and Madrid.   According to a recent opinion poll, 67 percent of Italy’s population thinks that the EU harms their interests.  (German Foreign Policy, 4/6/2020)

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Brazilian minister says Covid-19 part of China ‘plan for world domination’

China is furious after a minister in Brazil suggested Covid-19 is part of a plan in Beijing for “world domination.”

Abraham Weintraub, the far-right government’s education minister, wrote on Twitter:   “Geopolitically, who will come out stronger from this global crisis?    Who in Brazil is allied with this infallible plan for world domination?  (The Week, 4/6/2020)

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COVID WORSENS IN SINGAPORE

As the world shut its doors, Singapore remained open for business. Its measured yet effective approach to containing covid-19, which won praise from the World Health Organization, permitted shops, restaurants and schools to stay open.  No longer.   Confronted with a sudden surge in new cases, almost all of them contracted locally, the government has decided to adopt much more stringent measures to slow the spread of the virus.   On April 7th all but essential businesses closed, with Singaporeans allowed out of their homes only to buy food and medicine, to exercise and get their hair cut.  The “circuit-breaker,” as the government calls it, will remain in place for at least a month.   Those who violate a new law banning public and private gatherings risk a $7,000 fine, a six-month stint in prison or both.   Even Singapore is no longer able to preserve a semblance of normality.  (The Economist, 4/9/2020)

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FOX SLAMMED

Fox News viewers are at particular risk from coronavirus due to their age, yet they have been regularly subjected to misleading recommendations and misinformation downplaying its prevalence, write dozens of journalists led by Prof Todd Gitlin from Columbia Journalism School.

Fox News does not clearly distinguish between the authority that should accrue to trained experts on the one hand, and the authority viewers grant to pundits and politicians for reasons of ideological loyalty.  (The Guardian, 4/10/2020

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TO THE POINT

  • Economic turn-around — Six weeks ago, Trump was boasting, and justifiably so, of having the greatest economy of any president in recent memory.   Now, the possibility exists that he could go into the fall election with the worst economy since Hoover and the Great Depression of 1932.   (Pat Buchanan, 4/10/2020)
  • The Israeli government closed off ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in Jerusalem to stem the spread of covid-19.   Israel has so far reported 11,235 confirmed cases of the disease and 110 deaths.  The ultra-Orthodox Jewish community has become the centre of the country’s outbreak.  Meanwhile, talks to establish a new governing coalition were ended, making another election in the summer likely.
  • “If there was ever a time to close the gap between groups of people across New Zealand in different positions, it is now.” Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister, announces she will take a 20% pay cut for six months.  (The Week, 4/15/2020)
  • Donald Trump has announced that the US has “passed the peak” of new Covid-19 cases, suggesting the nation is successfully flattening the curve of the outbreak.   But there is another plateau that might be playing on his mind: a new comparison of approval ratings for world leaders shows several lines, including Boris Johnson’s, rising – while Trump’s remains relatively flat.   (The Week, 4/16/2020)
  • Plane fares “to double” after coronavirus crisis – Airlines may be forced to increase passenger fares dramatically once foreign travel is allowed again, experts have warned.   With many countries banning international flights to try to stem the spread of coronavirus, airlines have been hit particularly hard by the crisis.   Many of them have cut staff, reduced fares and cancelled many flights altogether.   As a result, analysts fear that in an effort to recoup some of their losses – and to cancel out lower plane capacity caused by social distancing rules – prices could skyrocket once travel restrictions are lifted.    (The Week, 4/14/2020)

US-EU RIFT GETS WORSE

Hello everybody,

The election dominates US news.   There are many conflicting reports.

In Michigan, polls show Trump losing to every prominent Democratic candidate.   Yet, at the same time, his rallies (and those for VP Mike Pence) attract audiences too big to be accommodated.

And note the following report from the Munich Security Conference (read article “Munich Security Conference,” further down).  “Europeans widely expect Trump to be re-elected this fall.”

Meanwhile, the Democratic debate held last night in South Carolina, shows the party tearing itself apart.   Amy Klobuchar said it best:   “If we continue to tear each other apart over the next four months, we will see Trump continue to tear the country apart for the next four years.”  Another House Democrat described the seven Democrats on stage as a “circular firing squad.”   They should remember the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 12:25 — “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” words quoted by Abraham Lincoln on the eve of the Civil War.  With Trump so universally “hated,” it’s incredible the Democrats can’t come up with a winning candidate!

The second issue that dominates the news is the coronavirus.  Hopefully, this will not have the death toll of the various plagues that hit the world during the Middle Ages.   Justinian’s “flea” (probably bubonic plague) killed a manageable 5,000 a day in the first month; then 10,000 a day.   The population was greatly diminished.   As with the coronavirus, it was spread through trade and international travel.   It was the same in the 14th century, 800 years later, when the plague hit Europe again.  The death toll was a staggering 50% of the people.  Just over a century ago, the Spanish flu infected 500 million people worldwide, about one third of the world’s population.   It killed an estimated 20-50 million, including some 675,000 Americans.

We will get through it, but it may kill millions before it’s over.

One final thought on the election:   At least two of the candidates for the Democratic party claim to be Christians.   Voters, however, should be careful here.   All seven of the people appearing last night support a woman’s right to murder her baby!  (To be fair, so do some Republicans.)

Have a great week.

Melvin   

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Very early this morning, I came across a show on PBS World called “Gzero World”, with Ian Bremmer. Today they were reporting from the Munich Security Conference on world security issues.  The first four items come from their website.

US-EU RIFT GETS WORSE

The risk of a major technology blow-up between the US and Europe is growing.   A few weeks ago, we wrote about how the European Union wanted to boost its “technological sovereignty” by tightening its oversight of Big Tech and promoting its own alternatives to big US and Chinese firms in areas like cloud computing and artificial intelligence.

Last week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and her top digital officials unveiled their first concrete proposals for regulating AI, and pledged to invest billions of euros to turn Europe into a data superpower.    (Gzero World, 2/25/2020)

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Communal violence in Delhi:   Over the past few days, India’s capital city has seen its deadliest communal violence in decades.  This week’s surge in mob violence began as a standoff between protesters against a new citizenship law that critics say discriminates against India’s Muslims and the law’s Hindu nationalist defenders.   Clashes between Hindu and Muslim mobs in majority-Muslim neighborhoods in northeast Delhi have killed at least 11 people, both Muslim and Hindu, since Sunday.   We’re watching to see how Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government responds – Delhi’s police force reports to federal, rather than local, officials.(Gzero World, 2/25/2020)

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Unlikely jihadist bedfellows:   For years, the jihadists of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have been at odds over territory and ideology. Bloody clashes between offshoots of the two groups have become commonplace in Yemen and Syria, further destabilizing those war-torn countries.   But now, strangely, ISIS and al-Qaeda linked groups appear to have joined forces in West Africa, recruiting locals and divvying up vast swathes of territory in the Sahel – a semi-arid area stretching across the southern edge of the Sahara Desert.  Motivated by mutual practical interests and common foes – Western forces and local governments – they’ve set aside their doctrinal differences and are gaining ground in states with weak central governments like Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, the US military recently said.  This all comes as the Trump administration is weighing a sizable drawdown of US troops in West Africa.  (Gzero World, 2/25/2020)

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US-China tit-for-tat retaliations:   The Trump administration is weighing up retribution against Chinese journalists and state-owned media – as well as Chinese intelligence agencies – after Beijing expelled three Wall Street Journal reporters last week over an opinion column that criticized Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus.  The Chinese Foreign Ministry, incensed by the “China is the Real Sick Man of Asia” headline, demanded an apology from the Journal before booting three of its reporters, none of whom had anything to do with the column.   If the US responds in kind, it could lead to a cycle of tit-for-tat retribution and animosity between Washington and Beijing just as a preliminary trade agreement appears to have eased mounting tensions between the world’s two largest economies.   We’re watching to see if the Trump administration follows through on its threat – or if it’s just bluster.  (Gzero World, 2/25/2020)

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MUNICH SECURITY CONFERENCE

The annual gathering of the Munich Security Conference provides a useful barometer for the health of the transatlantic relationship. Two years ago, Europeans were reeling from the first year of the Trump administration.   Last year, they were resigned to that reality and determined to press ahead.  This past weekend, everyone was searching for a savior to address critical challenges amid a lack of global leadership.

Europeans widely expect Trump to be re-elected this fall.   After their shock at his 2016 victory, they seem to be bracing for the worst, but remain unprepared for the consequences.   They inquired about Democratic presidential candidates, asking what Bernie Sanders would mean for Europe and whether Michael Bloomberg was a good compromise for moderates.  (Amanda Sloat, Brookings, 2/18/2020)

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TRUMP EMBRACED BY ENTHUSIASTIC INDIANS

“It was the Trumpiest of offers.

“A rally at one of the world’s largest stadiums.   A crowd of millions cheering him on.   A love fest during an election year.”   (Lansing State Journal, 2/24/2020).

The stadium is the world’s biggest cricket stadium.  I wonder if President Trump was aware that cricket was the preferred sport of fellow Republican, Abraham Lincoln?

An incredible welcome from the world’s second most populous nation.  President Trump is hoping for a trade deal with India.

Sadly, it coincided with massive demonstrations against a new Indian immigration bill, which discriminates against Muslims.  At least twenty people have been killed.

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ISRAEL NOW RECOGNIZED BY 161 COUNTRIES

161 countries now have diplomatic relations with Israel, which is the highest number that it has ever been for the Jewish state.  Increasingly, the community of nations cares less about Palestinian objections and more about what Israel has to offer.   (Israel National News, 2/24/2020)

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NEVER ENDING SYRIAN CONFLICT

At a four-way summit with the leaders of Russia, Turkey and France, Angela Merkel will seek to influence the future of the northern Syrian province Idlib.  The summit, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on the weekend is to be held next week.  It will explore options for ending the fighting in the province, where, over the past few weeks, Syrian troops have been advancing on militias.  Usually referred to as “rebels” in the German media, they are, in fact, dominated by an al Qaeda subsidiary.  The combat has deepened dissention between Russia and Turkey on how to go forward in Syria, raising new hopes among western powers for driving a wedge between Ankara and Moscow.   Prior to the summit, however, specialists are pointing out that Berlin hardly has any options for exerting influence in Syria.  The EU sees the overthrow of the government in Damascus as the precondition for granting desperately needed reconstruction aid.    (German Foreign Policy, 2/25/2020)

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MACRON VOWS CRACKDOWN ON POLITICAL ISLAM

“The problem is when, in the name of a religion, some people want to separate themselves from the Republic and therefore not respect its laws.” — French President Emmanuel Macron, February 18, 2020.   (Soeren Kern, Gatestone, 2/21/2020)

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SWEDISH MIGRANT CRISIS

“For the first time now, more crimes – in absolute terms – are committed by persons of foreign background than by persons of Swedish origin . . .   The most crime-prone population subgroup are people born [in Sweden] to two foreign-born parents.” — Report by Det Goda Samhället (“The Good Society”), summer of 2019. (Judith Bergman, Gatestone, 2/26)

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UK GROOMING GANGS TO REMAIN A SECRET

DAILYKENN.com — It’s a state secret.  No one is to know the ethnicity of grooming gang members.  The thugs are responsible for trafficking nearly 19,000 British girls in one year.

Who are these people?  No one knows because  Boris Johnson’s government won’t release statistics that reveal their ethnicity.

The truth is, of course, that the government doesn’t need to release the data because everyone knows the preponderance of the gang members are from non-white Islamic regions of the world.  Nearly all are ethnic Pakistanis.

It’s akin to the n-word.  No one dares say it, but everyone knows what it means.   Authorities said that releasing the data would not be in the public interest.

Survivors accused ministers of making “empty promises,” while a man who prosecuted abusers in Rochdale called for the Home Office to “show some courage and publish” its findings.

It comes after The Independent revealed that almost 19,000 suspected child sexual exploitation victims were identified by local authorities in just one year, sparking renewed calls for prevention efforts.   (Daily Kenn, 2/25/2020)

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GAY CONVERSION THERAPY BANNED IN MORE COUNTRIES

Global momentum is growing to ban so-called gay “conversion therapy,” with bills drawn up in nine countries, a rights group said on Wednesday.

The United States, Canada, Chile, Mexico and Germany are among countries seeking to outlaw the treatment, which includes practices from electric shocks to “praying away the gay” and is based on the belief that being gay or transgender is a mental illness that can be “cured,” Ilga, an LGBT+ advocacy group, said.

Worldwide, only Brazil, Ecuador and Malta have national bans on conversion therapy, condemned as ineffective and harmful to mental health by more than 60 associations of doctors, psychologists or counsellors globally, the Ilga study said.

“The main driving force [for reform] is survivors with their testimonies coming forwards,” Lucas Ramon Mendos, author of the Ilga report, which said 2020 could be a turning point in the fight against “therapies” that have ruined many lives.

“A lot of awareness is being created through their testimony,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.   (Rachel Savage, Independent, 2/26/2020)

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TO THE POINT

  • A headline in our local newspaper, the Lansing State Journal, appeared Monday.   It read: ‘White supremacy seeps into public, experts warn.”   It added:   “Incidents show startling jump over the past year.”   The article went on to show that violence emanating from “white supremacist groups” is increasing and is expected to grow further in the years ahead.   There is no excuse for violence.  But surely this is a reaction to the massive immigration of recent years and the constant emphasis on multiculturalism.   Until both change, there will be a constant threat from the political “right.”  It’s a reaction to the “extreme left.”
  • There’s a plan in Michigan to expand the options offered on payday loans.  These “short term, high cost financial products,” have trapped millions of families into a never ending “costly and potentially catastrophic cycle of debt.”  (David Snodgrass,  Lansing State Journal, 2/20/2020).   The bill “would allow lenders to charge a monthly service fee of 11% on the principal of a loan, equivalent to an APR of around 132%.   In practical terms, this means a borrower would end up paying more than $7,000 to pay off a $2,500 two-year loan.”   Heed the following biblical advice:  “If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you.  Do not take interest or any profit from them, but fear your God, so that they may continue to live among you.” (Lev. 25:35-36)
  • I went to a concert on Monday evening.   The Academy of St Martin in the Fields played Brahms Symphony Number 4, along with a violin concerto by Paganini and a short piece by Mozart.  It was a delightful and relaxing evening with good friends.
  • Also relaxing (and gripping) is my latest “read:”   “The Race to save the Romanovs” by Helen Rappaport was published in 2018.  After the Russian revolution in 1917 the Romanov family were under house arrest.   When the communists came to power later in the year, their situation deteriorated fast.   Many people wanted to save them and their five young children, but no attempt got very far; eventually, they were all brutally murdered.   The Bolsheviks were, if nothing else, thorough – killing all their opponents for over seventy years!   The deaths of the children were particularly reprehensible.   Today’s Russians have tried to make amends by canonizing each member of the Imperial Family.  28% of Russians polled said they would like to see the monarchy restored.   But how do you restore it when you killed everybody off?    (Interestingly, 28% is roughly the support US presidents get; when you consider that only 54.9% bothered to vote in the last election.)    Maurice Paleologue was the French Ambassador to Russia at the time of the revolution.   He said the only man who could have saved them was Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany.   The Russians had been fighting the Germans, along with the British and the French.  The Kaiser helped Lenin get to Russia and, when he assumed power, entered into a peace deal with him, so that Russia could leave the war.    The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk of 1918 could have (should have) included a clause freeing the Czar and his family.   Wilhelm was related to the Russian Imperial Family.  He particularly loved the children.   Why didn’t he save them?

MAY BETRAYS UK

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

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

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

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SPANISH HYPOCRISY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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RIOTING IN PARIS OVER SECOND WEEKEND

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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FRANCE FRAGMENTING

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

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

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HILLARY CLINTON WAKES UP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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US LEADING THE CHARGE AGAINST UN MIGRATION AGENDA

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

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DON’T TELL THE TRUTH!

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

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PAGANS OUTNUMBER PRESBYTERIANS IN US

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

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

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

BREXIT TURNS NASTY

British fishermen plan 40-strong flotilla back into French waters as ‘scallop wars’ threaten to erupt again (article by Henry Samuel, Paris Cara McGoogan, Brixham
30 AUGUST 2018 • 7:49PM)

BREXIT TURNS NASTY

Clashes between French and English fishermen took place this week.   The incident was over fishing for scallops just off the north coast of France.

But Brexit was blamed.   It’s as if the old animosities and rivalries are resurfacing with the coming of Brexit.   March 29th is D-Day when Britain departs from the EU.

Mrs. May, the British Prime Minister, was in Africa this week, on a three day tour to prepare for a trade deal with three of Africa’s biggest economies.   South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya were all British territories not so long ago.   Britain is looking to Commonwealth countries as well as the US to replace the European trade when it exits the European Union.

It should be noted that all three countries are very corrupt, a factor that adds considerable challenge to business in the private sector.

I’m currently reading “a novel of Africa,” The Old Order and the New by Wilfred Fowler (1963), who worked for the British Colonial Service in Nigeria, during the period immediately prior to independence in 1960.   He shows quite clearly that from the day a date was chosen for independence, corruption became a major problem in the country.   Politicians saw that, with the British gone, there were great opportunities to make lots of money without actually doing any work!

Germany’s Angela Merkel was also in Africa this week.   In West Africa, to be precise, visiting Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria.   All three countries are a major source of migrants to Germany and other nations of the EU.   Mrs. Merkel wants to try and cut the numbers moving to Europe through increased business and investment.

Note the following from Germanforeignpolicy.com:

“ In opinion polls, nearly half of the Senegalese, and around three-fourths of the Ghanaian and Nigerian respondents, signaled their wish to leave their country, because of dire poverty and a dramatically high youth unemployment rate.”

At least one report on TV news described the two women visiting Africa as a new “Scramble for Africa,” a term often used to describe European colonization and rivalry in Africa towards the end of the nineteenth century.   It’s not just the UK and Germany that are fighting for business in Africa – China is their biggest rival on the continent.   They have to move fast to thwart China taking over the continent, which is Europe’s backyard.

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TRIBALISM MAJOR CAUSE OF CRIME IN UK

A Sky News investigation of crime in London and other major UK cities has revealed that over half of all the violent crime is committed by young, black males.   A lot of it is gang rivalry.

I find this very interesting.

A major problem in Africa is tribalism, which goes back centuries.   People identify with their tribe first and foremost.   This now seems to be the case in the United Kingdom.

The problem hasn’t been solved in Africa.   It won’t be solved in the UK, either, no matter how much money the government spends on social programs.

London and other major cities have seen a dramatic increase in violent crime in recent years.

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POPULIST GAINS PREDICTED IN SWEDISH IDENTITY CRISIS   From the Brussels Briefing, Financial Times, Richard Milne, 8/31.

“Sweden, long known as a bastion of political stability, is gearing up for a step into the unknown.   Elections on September 9 have sparked a fierce debate about the future of the country with Swedes appearing as divided as many Europeans, leading many to fear messy and lengthy talks to form a government . . .

“The current centre-left government is widely thought to be the weakest in decades with the Social Democrats set to post their worst score in more than a century.   But the centre-right opposition seem incapable of capitalising on that. Instead, the main winners next weekend are set to be the populist, anti-immigration Sweden Democrats who could come in second place with about 20 per cent of the vote.”

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HUNGARY AND ITALY ATTACK MACRON OVER MIGRANTS    From Brietbart, 8/31

“Conservative Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and populist Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini have attacked globalist French President Emmanuel Macron as “the leader of pro-migration parties in Europe today.”

“At a joint press conference in Milan, Italy, on Tuesday, the two pro-sovereignty politicians singled out former Socialist party member Macron as their political enemy when they announced they are forming an anti-mass migration front ahead of European Parliament elections to challenge his vision for the European Union.

“He leads the European force that backs migration, he’s the leader of those parties who back migration to Europe, and on the other side there’s us who want to stop illegal migration,” said Prime Minister Orbán, according to Politico.”

——————————————————————————-ANTI-IMMIGRANT PROTESTS ROCK GERMAN CITY

The German city of Chemnitz has been seeing anti-immigrant protests all week, following the murder of a local man by two men, one from Syria and one from Iraq.

“The demonstrations, which turned violent at times, have shocked the country and are the latest manifestation of the divisions caused by the influx of close to two million asylum seekers since 2015.”  (WSJ, 8/31).

“On Monday, a demonstration registered by a local anti-immigration group drew around 6,000 protesters, some performing the banned Nazi salute.”

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DAY OUT WITH THOMAS

 

I’ve spent all week listening to songs from Thomas and Friends.

For those with no children or grandchildren, Thomas is one of the most successful children’s TV programs ever.   The series is based on books written by an Anglican vicar, the Reverend W. Audrey, who died over twenty years ago.

Last Sunday, I took our 6-year-old grandson for a “Day Out with Thomas” at Crossroads Village in Flint, Michigan.   They have four of these days each year.   This was the last one, though our grandson remains unconvinced and keeps asking me to take him back there.   I keep telling him that Thomas is hibernating through the winter (he has far more sense than people!) and we can go back and see him next summer.   Tell that to your six year old!

During our five-hour visit, Thomas songs were playing constantly. They have stayed in my head since then.

When I looked at Wikipedia’s write-up of the author and books, I was surprised to see that Thomas owes his origin to measles.   When the author’s son, Christopher, was sick with measles, his father told him stories of Thomas and his friends.   This was in 1943.   It wasn’t long before his wife suggested he publish his stories.   The first book came out in 1946.  The first TV series did not begin until 1984.

Thomas isn’t the only train our grandson Aubren has been on.   In six months, I’ve been able to take him on Amtrak to Battle Creek; a small railway in Coldwater, Michigan; the Pere Marquette (Polar Express); and Thomas.   Next year, I will have to top that – perhaps a journey on the Orient Express?

This has helped him greatly in his knowledge of geography – this morning he was playing with his train set and I heard him saying: “Thomas lives in Flint, but he has to go to Chicago!”   He’s also been telling his teachers everything he knows about trains.   He was able to have his picture taken on Sunday with a rather portly Sir Topham Hatt; and with Bob the Builder, who was also appearing.

I take seriously the scriptural admonition to “train up a child”! (Proverbs 22:6)

 

 

 

A VERY BRITISH REVOLUTION

Sun headlines BREXIT

“See EU Later!” – front page headline in The Sun.

“No one was hurt. But still a revolution that will lead to profound change.” (BBC Assistant Political Editor, Norman Smith).

The most important election this year has already taken place.  No, I haven’t forgotten the one in November that has still to take place here in the United States.   Nor am I overlooking the election in Australia next week.

The referendum in the United Kingdom on membership of the European Union was a once in a lifetime vote that will actually lead to significant change, something that normally doesn’t follow a general election.

The British people voted yesterday to leave the European Union.  Or, rather, 52% of those who voted, opted to “Leave;” 48% voted to “Remain.” Even that does not reveal the whole story – London and Scotland voted to “Remain.” The English voted overwhelmingly to leave. London, a city which, at best, is only 50% ethnic English, voted to remain.

The pace of change that is taking place right now is staggering.   Britain is OUT; so is David Cameron, who resigned this morning; it’s only a year since he led the Conservative Party to a surprise win in the last election.  It’s less than two years since the Union with Scotland was secured in the Scottish referendum.  Scotland voted yesterday to stay in the EU.  The First Minister of Scotland is now insisting that Scots be given another opportunity to vote on leaving the UK.  What a change in just a few months!

Even the Leader of the Opposition Labor Party may choose to resign – while he supported continued membership of the EU, the party’s supporters did not.

London’s first Muslim Mayor is even talking of the capital city somehow maintaining a special relationship with Europe.

The prospect of the United Kingdom breaking up is a serious one.  Only England (outside of London) and Wales voted to “Leave.”   Even Gibraltar, the first British territory to vote, voted overwhelmingly to “Remain” – the Spanish Prime Minister, seizing an opportunity, is now calling for joint British and Spanish control of the peninsula.

Meanwhile, there is turmoil on the international financial markets, which will likely continue until some sort of an agreement is reached between the UK and EU, reassuring markets.

It’s a big mess all round!

POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES

  1. Changes could come to the EU.  Other nations may withdraw, forcing change on those that remain.   Financially, the European Union received a lot of money from the UK. This spigot will be cut off.  To paraphrase Margaret Thatcher, the EU has finally run out of other peoples’ money!
  2. The future of the European Union itself is also uncertain.   One thing is absolutely clear – the bureaucrats who control the Union are out of touch with the common people.   Demands from the people of other countries for their own referendum will increase.   Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, is calling for a quick resolution of uncertainty, hoping to stop any contagion.   Anti-Establishment revolutions, even non-violent ones, have a habit of spreading from one country to another – 1989 is a recent example; 1918 and 1848 are two others.
  3. Scotland is more likely to leave the United Kingdom, taking England and Wales back to the seventeenth century.  Northern Ireland’s future is also uncertain.
  4. Germany will emerge from this as a more powerful force in Europe. This was one concern some British people had. Ironically, by voting to leave, they will have helped strengthen Germany as the dominant power in Europe. As the EU progresses, fulfilling its goal of an “ever closer union”, it will inevitably mean a greater role for Berlin.
  5. The referendum was an anti-Establishment vote.  For 43 years the British people have lived under the growing authority of the bureaucratic socialist super-state that is the EU, having to comply with thousands of dictates they did not want.  Some people have done very well out of the EU.  Prominent Brits have jumped aboard the European gravy train and done very well out of it, with high salaries and an even higher expense account.  There has been little or no accountability.
  6. The vote was a vote against globalization.   The driving force in western thinking, since World War II, has been globalization. Multiculturalism, free trade deals, massive numbers of immigrants, have all profoundly changed the western world; yesterday’s vote was the first big sign that the people are hitting back. Half the people (actually a little over half) feel that they are missing out and don’t like the way things are going. That’s true in other countries as well as the UK.
  7. Migration was a major issue.   People don’t like the sheer numbers of Syrians, Iraqis, Poles, Bulgarians, Rumanians, Pakistanis, etc that now live in Britain.   The new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, a Muslim whose family migrated from Pakistan, sensing this significant change in national thinking, campaigned against a Brexit and now wants London to continue an association with Europe.

In this context, it’s interesting to note the prophet Daniel’s observation about the interracial condition of the ancient Roman Empire and of its modern-day successor founded by the Treaty of Rome:

“42 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. 43 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.” (Daniel 2:42-43).   Whereas America was a melting pot, the European Union was a union of 28 different nations and cultures, each with its own languages and customs.   Mixing was never going to be as successful as in the United States.

  1. Yesterday’s vote could start a populist movement – even the US may follow in November.   Presidential candidate Donald Trump, on a private visit to Scotland, said this morning that Brexit is a good thing: “the British have gotten their country back.”   Brexiters have a lot in common with Trump, who may capture the mood of Americans in the same way. Hillary Clinton supported the “Remain’ campaign but was out of touch with the people.  (There was no reason for her to get involved in the first place.)   President Obama warned on a recent visit to the UK that if the country left the EU it would go to the “back of the queue” (a British term) to wait for a new trade deal with the US.   Trump today said that will not happen if he becomes president, that the UK has been a close ally of the US for decades and deserves better than that.

Note the following comment on Twitter from Michael Moore, leftist documentary filmmaker who lives in Flint, Michigan:   “Hail Trumptannia!   Fear wins out in UK.   Britain votes to “build a ‘wall’” by leaving EU.  Hatred of immigrants, xenophobia, nationalism reign.  Fellow Americans – we’re up next!”  This is a typical comment from the not-so-intellectual elite, who insult the voters when they lose!  Expect more of the same from the EU as well as the US.

  1. However, financial concerns are justified.  The pound dropped 10% in hours, even before the final tally was realized (trading continued in the Far East due to the time difference) and stock markets are in freefall.  But this was to be expected.   It should soon calm down.   The Emperor Napoleon once dismissed the English as “a nation of shopkeepers”, a quote from Adam Smith in “The Wealth of Nations.”   But this will only help Britain – Germany sells 20% of its cars to the UK, they will not want to lose that market.
  2. The vote for Brexit will have an international effect as well as a domestic one.   Relations between the EU and Russia may change.  The Mayor of Moscow today said that without Britain, the EU will be less likely to continue economic sanctions on the country.

Today we are witnessing a seismic shift in world history.   We don’t see those every day. What we are seeing is England waking up to the consequences of globalism.   Others will follow.   But, the world has changed in the last 43 years.   Whereas the UK was a constant in the pre-EU world, it no longer is.   The EU offers Scotland and Ireland a viable alternative.   The Brexit could mean the end of the United Kingdom.  British historian Paul Johnson wrote in his 1972 book “The Offshore Islanders,” written between Britain’s application to join Europe and its actual membership, that disunity has always been fatal to the offshore islanders (the British).   The country has not been this divided in centuries and will likely see further division ahead.

Europe has already meant the end of David Cameron, who joins his two Conservative predecessors, John Major and Margaret Thatcher, in being brought down by divisions over Europe.   Whoever replaces him as prime minister will have to try and unite the party and the country at a very difficult time in history.

At the same time, there is going to be a lot of lingering bad feelings, in both British major parties and between the UK and the rest of Europe.  Mr. Juncker has just announced an emergency meeting of the other 27 leaders of the EU, to take place on Wednesday. We will soon see what the EU has in mind for a Europe without the UK.

RHODES ON ROADS

Leeson
Leeson, 3, playing in the driveway.

I was sitting on the front porch yesterday evening, watching our 3-year-old grandson, Leeson, digging in the dirt that constitutes our circular drive way.   He had his back to me and happily played for over two hours.   I think he was enjoying some alone time as his 4-year-old brother, Aubren, had gone to play golf with his dad.   His younger brother no longer likes golf after falling off the golf cart (it was parked) and getting a couple stitches over his eye.   And Grandpa hasn’t liked golf since making a fool of himself the last time he played!  It was so bad, the city closed down the golf course soon afterwards, though this may have been a coincidence.

Back to the driveway.   I couldn’t see exactly what he was doing, but when he finally came in to the house to eat his dinner (or, rather, not eat it) I walked over to where he was playing and looked at his handiwork.

What Leeson had done was dig his own little pothole.

Clearly influenced by driving on Michigan’s roads, where potholes are ubiquitous, this future citizen is growing up thinking this is the norm.   I’m going to have to tell him, when he is old enough to understand, that once upon a time there were no potholes in Michigan.  In fact, when Grandpa and Grandma left Ghana for the United States in 1990, they naively thought that potholes were a thing of the past!

We never expected that, 25 years later, Michigan would be worse than Ghana for potholes.

Presumably, the United States has the technology to fix the roads, so that can’t be the problem.   A recent letter to our local newspaper was written by a man who had driven from Florida to Michigan, driving through a number of states, and remarked on how the roads deteriorated as soon as he crossed the state line from Ohio into Michigan.   He rather unkindly wrote that he didn’t need a sign to tell him he had reached Michigan – the state of the roads was enough to say where he was.

It’s been like this for a while, two or thee years.   Nothing is ever done about it.   For all the roadworks that seem to take place here, there are still potholes galore.

Perhaps all our taxes are going to Flint to improve the water quality before the entire population dies from lead poisoning.   I doubt it. Infrastructure does not appear to be a priority.

The question is: where are our taxes going?

We pay road taxes in different ways – our gas is amongst the most expensive in the United States.   Before we cross back into Michigan from Indiana, where our daughter and family live, we fill up our gas tank to save money.  If we smoked, we’d buy our cigarettes there, too; and if I drank a lot, I’d buy my beer there as there’s no deposits on bottles or cans.

An attempt was made last year to raise the sales tax (on everything except food) from 6-7%, but was rejected by the voters. Quite simply, the people did not trust their government to actually use the money to fix the roads. The 6% should be enough, together with a high tax on gas and car registration fees. Again, where’s all the money going?

Michigan taxpayers had to bail out the city of Detroit to the tune of $191 million, following years of corrupt administration in the city, where officials pocketed a great deal of the local tax revenue.   More recently, Michigan taxpayers have had to bail out the city of Flint to rectify its water situation.   Again, the problem was caused by the local city council.   The inevitable lawsuits will themselves run into millions, every dollar of which could be used to fix the roads.

Meanwhile, voters are forking out thousands each year on car repairs, made essential by the state of the roads.   At least the body shops are doing well!

It’s time the Legislature made a determined effort to solve this problem.   It might be more of a priority for the Governor if he didn’t fly around in a helicopter – from his perspective, the roads look fine!

To be fair, there is only one pothole in my drive.  I suspect, however, that Leeson will be out there again today digging up more of our own little road, until there are a dozen potholes in the drive, making it a more authentic stretch of Michigan road!

Perhaps, 15 years from now, when he graduates from High School, Leeson can work for the Transportation Department and help fix the roads.   I’m convinced those potholes will still be there.

JUST ONE FRONT PAGE

 

Sunday Telegraph 5:8:2016

A British quality Sunday newspaper is a joy to behold.  Only three are left, now that The Independent on Sunday has folded.  The three are the Sunday Times, the Observer and the Sunday Telegraph.  Friends brought me a copy of the latter, a conservative paper, when they arrived in the US from England a few days ago.   I am very grateful for the paper, even though it’s a few days old.

In actual fact, it’s now eight day old, but still very relevant.

On the front page are two articles that reveal a great deal about Britain today.

The lead article, “Migration pressure on schools revealed,” by Tim Ross, highlights the reality of an extra 700,000 foreign language pupils in British public (state) schools.   (Multiply that by five to get the US equivalent.)   Additional funds are needed when pupils speak multiple languages.   The cost to the UK taxpayer will run into the multiple millions.

The immigrants profiled in the article are from other EU countries. They do not include the latest refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, nor do they include Indians and Africans who have been entering the UK for decades.   Free movement of peoples within the European Union, including the United Kingdom, has led to this situation.  It may be a decisive factor in June’s referendum, when the British people get the opportunity to vote on remaining or leaving the Union.

A second front-page article bears the headline “Terror suspects win human rights battle” by Robert Verkaik and Robert Mendick.  The first two paragraphs read:   “Six Algerian terror suspects with links to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda are to be allowed to stay in Britain after the Home Secretary admitted defeat in a 10-year legal battle to deport them.  The move follows a challenge under the Human Rights Act which found that the men were at risk of torture if they were deported to Algeria.”   No doubt these men, linked to terror, will be entitled to receive state benefits in the UK.  This means that their terrorist activities will be financed by the British taxpayer.   The taxpayer has already had to pay out for ten years of legal fees to cover both sides in the dispute.

After finishing the paper yesterday (Sunday) I read the Lansing State Journal.   A front page article informed readers that Michigan is about to see a “surge” of Syrian refugees.   Again, the taxpayer will have to foot the bill, pushing much-needed road repair further down the list of priorities.   Additionally, there is also the prospect of future terrorist acts.

Is anyone in government sane???

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TRUMP vs CAMERON

Staying in the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron described Donald Trump’s attitude to Muslim immigration as “stupid, divisive and wrong.”  This does not bode well for the Atlantic alliance or the Special Relationship that has existed between Britain and America since FDR and Churchill.  Mr. Trump said earlier today that he does not think he and Mr. Cameron will have a very good relationship should he enter the White House.

Considering the terrorist acts that have been perpetrated against the West by Islamic terrorists, we should also ask who is really “stupid” here?   I wonder why leaders throughout the Western world seem so determined to encourage the Islamization of their countries?   As Donald Trump put it today:   “It sounds like he (Mr. Cameron) is not willing to address the problem either.”

The Islamic presence, fairly recent in the context of US and British history, has itself led to division.   A further comment from the BBC’s website followed:

“He (Trump) is also involved in a spat with new London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

The US presidential contender said he would not forgive Mr. Khan for calling him “ignorant” – and challenged the Mayor to take part in an IQ test, an offer mocked by Mr. Khan’s team.”

Further division no doubt lies ahead.

Mr. Trump is also calling on Muslims “to turn people in.”   In a television interview shown on British television’s ITV (not the BBC) the presumptive Republican nominee said he is not anti-Muslim, but rather anti-terror. He called on practicing Muslims to cooperate with the police in their fight against Islamic terror.

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EU FACES ‘POPULIST UPRISING’

Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of Britain’s intelligence service, MI6, warned today of the consequences to Europe if the continent does not get on top of the migrant crisis.   “If Europe cannot act together to persuade the majority of its citizens that it can gain control of the migratory crisis, then the EU will find itself at the mercy of a populist uprising which is already stirring.   The stakes are very high and the UK referendum is the first roll of the dice in a bigger, geopolitical game.”

“Sir Richard also warned against offering visa-free travel to Turkish nationals, describing the move as like storing gasoline near a fire.” (BBC News website.)