Our neighborhood has had internet problems all week, so my blog is shorter than usual. It should be solved by 5pm tonight.
“At the July 7-8 talks in Doha, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Taliban organization), backed by Qatar and the U.S., emerged victorious, extracting major advantages from Afghan delegates and the international community. A key Taliban advantage was that they held on to the Islamic Emirate’s long-standing position of not recognizing the elected government of Afghanistan as a legitimate entity. While the Afghan delegates, including those from the government, were forced to attend the talks in their personal capacity, the Taliban representatives came to the table as the Taliban.
“As per a statement issued by Qatar, Dr. Mutlaq bin Majid Al-Qahtani, the Qatari Special Envoy for Counterterrorism and Mediation in Conflict Resolution, announced the “success” of the talks, stating: “We are very pleased today to reach a joint statement as a first step to peace.” The “success” and the “first step to peace” which Al-Qahtani spoke of belong to the Taliban and shari’a, not to the democratic government in Kabul, not to Afghan women who suffered under the Taliban’s shari’a rule during the 1990s, and not to common Afghans whose civil liberties are at stake in Doha.
“The Afghan Taliban – as a result of the Doha talks which were sponsored jointly by Qatar and Germany – marched closer to their stated objectives of enforcing Islamic shari’a rule in Afghanistan and of restructuring the Afghan government institutions, including the military, to their liking.” (Tufail Ahmad, MEMRI #191. 7/12/19)
A total of almost 3,500 coalition forces have died in the 18-year conflict.
BRITISH CLASH WITH IRAN
There was a time, even in my lifetime, when the British dominated the Persian Gulf. But that was before 1971. Now, a British naval presence is once again essential, to protect British shipping. A British tanker was intercepted by Iranian vessels earlier in the week.
This was seen as retaliation for a previous confrontation off the coast of (British) Gibraltar.
Things were a lot easier during the four centuries when Britain had the greatest navy in the world. The navy held the “multitude of nations” together (Genesis 48:19). Since World War II it has been allowed to decline, so that more and more money could be spent on Britain’s welfare system and its National Health Service.
BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO US QUITS
The American Ambassador to the Court of St. James (London), has always, in effect, bought his way into the position. His contribution to the presidential election campaign would have been one of the largest contributions made.
Not so the other way around.
Britain’s diplomatic service is always made up of career diplomats. Nobody has bought a position and the service is non-political.
This week, unexpectedly, it became “political” when a memo from the British Ambassador in Washington was leaked. The memo evaluated the Trump Administration as “inept.”
President Trump exploded and the Ambassador resigned. President Trump rightly felt he could no longer work with the man.
The Ambassador will take early retirement (he was due to retire at the end of the year, anyway). The big question is: who leaked the memo and why?
It may have something to do with Brexit. What doesn’t nowadays?
Somebody might be trying to damage US-UK relations at a time when Brexit is imminent. Could this worsen relations with the US and therefore make it more likely that Britain will stay in Europe? Or could it have been an attempt to get rid of a man who is critical of the US president, in time for Boris Johnson to become PM and appoint a more pro-US Ambassador?
CHENNAI OUT OF WATER
India’s sixth biggest city has run out of water. Tankers have to deliver water to its seven million plus inhabitants.
It highlights a problem that is set to make life much harder for people around the world.
Water is the one commodity that people can’t live without.
The world’s debt burden stands at a staggering 317 per cent of global gross domestic product, just shy of its all-time high in 2016, according to the Institute of International Finance. Years of low and negative interest rates have fed the debt habit: since the 2008 financial crisis, the world has added an extraordinary $70tn in debt, or 25 per cent of GDP, with sovereign debt accounting for nearly 40 per cent of that increase.
“To be clear: responsibly incurred debt can play an important and constructive role in economic development. Long-term investments that enhance productivity can foster a more prosperous future. Amid subdued growth in many parts of the world and a critical need for infrastructure, there are arguments to be made in support of using debt to foster growth.
“But too much debt is a risk for lenders and borrowers alike, as history has shown time and again.”
(“We need transparency to keep countries out of a debt spiral,” Axel Weber, Financial Times, 6/18)
Europe has been warned. Any use of monetary levers to hold down the euro exchange rate will be deemed a provocation by the Trump administration.
Further cuts in interest rates to minus 0.5pc or beyond will be scrutinized for currency manipulation. A revival of quantitative easing will be considered a devaluation policy in disguise, as indeed it is, since the money leaks out into global securities and depresses the euro.
The Bank for International Settlements says €300bn of Europe’s QE funding reached London alone between 2014 and 2017.
If the ECB copies the Swiss National Bank and starts to amass foreign assets directly to cap currency strength Europe will face certain retaliation.
(“Currency war is the next phase of global conflict and Europe, the chief parasite, is defenceless,” Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph, June 19th)
Donald Trump’s found someone else in Europe he doesn’t like. The US president launched a Twitter tirade against Mario Draghi after the ECB president said he was ready to inject new stimulus into the eurozone, sending the euro tumbling against the dollar. (Brussels Briefing, Financial Times, 6/1)
“President Donald Trump cannot want war with Iran. Such a war, no matter how long, would be fought in and around the Persian Gulf, through which a third of the world’s seaborne oil travels. It could trigger a worldwide recession and imperil Trump’s re-election. It would widen the “forever war,” which Trump said he would end, to a nation of 80 million people, three times as large as Iraq. It would become the defining issue of his presidency, as the Iraq War became the defining issue of George W. Bush’s presidency. And if war comes now, it would be known as “Trump’s War.”
“Who wants a U.S. war with Iran? Primarily the same people who goaded us into wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, and who oppose every effort of Trump’s to extricate us from those wars. Should they succeed in Iran, it is hard to see how we will ever be able to extricate our country from this blood-soaked region that holds no vital strategic interest save oil, and America, thanks to fracking, has become independent of that.” (“War with Iran would become “Trump’s War,” Pat Buchanan, 6/18)
Iran shoots down US drone aircraft
Oil prices jump after action by Revolutionary Guard escalates tensions between Tehran and Washington (Financial Times, 6/20)
“Iran shoots down US military drone to send “clear message” to Trump” (Independent, 6/20)
GERMAN POLITICIAN ASSASSINATED BY NEO-NAZI
Germany’s federal prosecutors have taken over the investigation into the murder of Walter Lübcke, indicating that the killing of the Kassel district president on June 2 is being treated as a politically motivated terrorist act.
If indeed the murder is shown to have been politically motivated, it would be the first such assassination on a sitting German politician since the 1970s.
Trail included death threats, weapons.
A number of German outlets have reported details of the alleged far-right ties of the suspect arrested in the central city of Kassel in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Monday that the 45-year-old man, named only as Stephan E., had a long criminal record, had already issued death threats via his YouTube channel, and that weapons were found during the search of his home.
According to the paper, Stephan E. had written a comment on YouTube in 2018 under his alias ‘Game Over’ that read, “Either this government abdicates soon or there will be deaths.” ( “Walter Lubcke murder raises specter of neo-Nazi terrorism,” Deutsche Welle news)
“Xenophobia stokes extreme-right activism
Puls has also noticed that neo-Nazis became more and more vocal in the last few years, following the influx of refugees who arrived in Germany in 2015 and 2016, which led to more anti-immigrant sentiment in the mainstream political debate and hate speech on social media.
As a supporter of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policy, Walter Lübke himself was on the sharp end of much of this.
“One can certainly say that the propensity for violence has certainly risen following the right-wing debates around immigration,” he said. “The case of Lübcke is certainly very revealing here. Walter Lübcke faced an enormous amount of hatred in 2015. That does raise the question: how much does it take before one person says ‘I’ll reach for a weapon?’ In certain circumstances, not much.”
( “Walter Lubcke murder raises specter of neo-Nazi terrorism,” Deutsche Welle news)
Stand up to far right, Germany’s Angela Merkel tells Europe
The resignation of Austria’s vice chancellor led German politicians to warn against alliances with populists. Chancellor Merkel spoke out against right-wing populism as many are now demanding new Austrian elections. (DW)
NEO-NAZIS IN AMERICA
The definition of a neo-Nazi is someone who belongs to an organization that is similar to the German Nazi Party of Adolf Hitler.
“Frontline” (PBS) this week showed the growth of neo-Nazis across America. It showed synagogues that are now doing everything they can to prepare for further mass shootings.
It also interviewed members of neo-Nazi groups and showed a perverse link with the current Administration. “To make America great again, you would have to make America white again”, is a direct quote from a leader of the neo-Nazi movement, the Waffen.
“FRONTLINE and ProPublica continue reporting on the resurgence of white supremacist groups in the United States. “Documenting Hate: New American Nazis” investigates a violent neo-Nazi group that has actively recruited inside the U.S. military, and examines the group’s terrorist objectives.” (Frontline).
Overlooked here is the major contribution made by liberals, in the growth of Nazism. The massive influx of immigrants since 1965 has led directly to anti-immigrant feeling. The 2008 financial crisis contributed greatly to anti-semitism.
ZUCKERBERG LAUNCHES NEW CURRENCY
“He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads,and that no one may buy or sell except one who has [a]the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” (Rev 13:16-17)
“Zuckerberg’s $538 billion social network on Tuesday announced plans to create a new digital currency and financial system that it claims will revolutionize banking. Facebook announced the new currency, called Libra, in a 12-page white paper that promised vast improvements on bitcoin and other volatile digital coins.” (New York Post, 6/18)
THE DARK SIDE OF ZUCKERBERG’S POWERFUL NEW CRYPTO COIN
“In its quest for world domination, Facebook has already disrupted everything from the media industry to American democracy, drawing scrutiny for things like its pitiful handling of user data, its monopolistic tendencies, and a “digital gangster” mentality along the way. Now, as regulators in Washington, D.C., bear down on Facebook, co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has acquired a new target: the global financial system.
“On Tuesday, Facebook announced plans to debut Libra, a cryptocurrency it has been developing for more than a year. Described by the company as “a simple global currency and financial infrastructure that can empower billions of people,” Libra will partner Facebook with Mastercard, Visa, Uber, and an array of other high-profile companies in what the New York Times called “the most far-reaching attempt by a mainstream company to jump into the world of cryptocurrencies.”
“David Marcus, who is leading Facebook’s blockchain technology research, is stoked. “It feels like it is time for a better system,” Marcus told The Times. “This is something that could be a profound change for the entire world.” Even Zuckerberg, who has spent much of the last two years on a sort of apology tour, sounds like he’s regained his change-the-world mojo. “Being able to use mobile money can have an important positive impact on people’s lives because you don’t have to always carry cash, which can be insecure, or pay extra fees for transfers,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post. “We aspire to make it easy for everyone to send and receive money just like you use our apps to instantly share messages and photos.” (Eric Lutz, Vanity Fair, 6/18)
THREAT TO US FOOD SUPPLY
“US beekeepers lost 40% of colonies over past year” – The Guardian 6/19
Botswana has become the latest nation to legalize sexual relations between members of the same sex. This puts them at odds with most African nations, but brings them into line with neighboring South Africa, which enshrined anti-discrimination in their new post-apartheid constitution.
African nations have long persecuted homosexuals, believing that sexual preference is simply a choice.
Botswana used to benefit immensely during the apartheid era from white men crossing the border to have relations outside of marriage with African women. Inter-racial sex was banned under apartheid.
Now same-sex relations are on a par with adultery. They are both legal. As is fornication. I Corinthians 6, written by the Apostle Paul, lists all three as sins that will keep a person out of the kingdom of God. If you study the Greek, you will find that all three involve penetration.
“ Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”
A female lawyer in Botswana explained on DW.news that the previous law went back to 1533. Botswana only goes back to 1966. But before that, it was a British colony and inherited many British laws.
Before 1533, ecclesiastical courts used to deal with all of these sins. In 1533 England passed the anti-buggery laws.
“It was the country’s first civil sodomy law, such offenses having previously been dealt with by the ecclesiastical courts. The Act defined buggery as an unnatural sexual act against the will of God and man. ” (wikipedia)
Adultery and fornication were not mentioned, as King Henry VIII was a serial adulterer. They were also passed at this time because Henry was breaking away from the Church of Rome (1532-34) and the ecclesiastical courts ceased to exist.
Wikipedia has this to say on the break with Rome:
“The break with Rome was effected by a series of acts of Parliament passed between 1532 and 1534, among them the 1534 Act of Supremacy, which declared that Henry was the “Supreme Head on earth of the Church of England.”
These anti-sodomy laws were later “exported” to British colonies. Over half the countries in the world that still outlaw this particular sin are former British colonies. Britain, through its Commonwealth ties, has been encouraging nations to change but many still strictly enforce the laws.
This is hypocritical, to say the least. Many African nations come down hard on same-sex relationships, while their leaders commit serial adultery. In African culture, the “big man” syndrome encourages men in public office to have plenty of relationships with women. Churches don’t help, often turning a blind eye to adultery and fornication, while condemning homosexuality.
Of course, in an ideal world, fornication, adultery and sodomy would not exist. We will have to wait for the Kingdom of God to see that happen. But persecuting a minority in today’s world is not going to stop anything.
The Enduring Word Commentary has this to say on I Corinthians 6:
“Paul did not write in or of a “homophobic” culture. Homosexuality was rampant in the ancient world; 14 out of the first 15 Roman emperors were bisexual or homosexual. At the very time Paul wrote, Nero was emperor. Nero castrated a boy named Sporus and then married him (with a full ceremony), brought him to the palace with a great procession, and made the boy his “wife.” Later, the emperor lived with another man, and Nero was declared to be the other man’s “wife.” In this list of sins, homosexuality (not some “special” version of homosexuality) is described, but it is described right along with other sins. Some who so strongly denounce homosexuals are guilty of other sins on this list. Can fornicators or adulterers or the covetous or drunkards rightly condemn homosexuals? Of course not.
“Christians err when they excuse homosexuality, and deny that it is sin, but they also err just as badly when they single it out as a sin God is uniquely angry with.” (Enduring Word Commentary)
HONG KONG RIOTS
Talking of the legacy of the British Empire, Hong Kong is a territory in upheaval, with hundreds of thousands of people (all Chinese) rebelling against the Extradition Bill, that could have them all sent to mainland China for prosecution.
Hong Kong was British for over 150 years. During that time, the people were acquainted with freedom. The law was separate from the government. China has no such tradition.
Although all the people are Chinese, many obviously still want the British tradition. According to the Basic Law, they were guaranteed that for fifty years after Beijing took control of the former colony they could keep their laws and traditions. Less than halfway into the fifty years, China has clearly changed its mind.
That makes it less likely that Taiwan will ever consent to being taken over by China.
China, we must never forget, is a one party state with all that that implies. China will win this one.
The nuclear reactor at Chernobyl, which exploded in 1986, is now the subject of a five part television series, produced by HBO and Sky. We found it excellent, compelling viewing. (Warning: it contains a scene showing nudity – but not involving sex.)
Again, it shows the absurdity of socialist thinking, that everything (even a disaster) has to be directed by the party. Mikhail Gorbachev wrote that Chernobyl was the biggest single factor in the fall of the Soviet Union.
The official death toll was 31. The actual death toll is closer to 31,000!
It should be compulsory viewing for Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and AOC – and all those inclined to vote for them.
PELOSI SORRY FOR THE POOR
From the Financial Times (3rd June) comes the following on Nancy Pelosi:
“It is dangerous to underestimate Nancy Pelosi . . .
“It is interesting, however, that Ms. Pelosi says: “What took me from the kitchen to Congress was knowing that one in five children in America lives in poverty. I just can’t stand that.” (Anne Marie Slaughter, FT)
(COMMENT: In which case, why is she in favor of allowing in so many refugees? They depress wages at the bottom, making it harder for Americans.)
The Conservative Party has ten people vying for the leadership. One of them is Boris Johnson, a maverick who has been likened to Donald Trump, who is a personal friend. Mr. Johnson was born in the US, so could actually also run for president.
Although Boris says he would prefer a deal with the EU, he is promising to leave the EU by October 31st, with or without a deal. In an attempt to thwart this, and stop Britain leaving without a deal, a parliamentary vote this week was narrowly lost, meaning that the country can leave without a deal.
If the vote had gone the other way, Britain would have been in the position of not being able to get a deal and not being able to leave without one. The country would have, effectively, been a prisoner of the EU indefinitely.
It should be clear to everyone that the biggest obstacle to leaving remains parliament. Supposedly the house of the people, it has become the house that denies the voice of the people. At the next election, people should remember this and vote the incumbents out of office.
Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon has visited Brussels once again. The leader of Scotland seems determined to keep Scotland in the EU. The only way this is possible is if Scotland breaks away from England.
“Ms. Sturgeon said that because of Brexit “there is now a deeper understanding” in EU capitals “of why Scotland might want to be independent” compared to in 2014, when the Scottish referendum took place. “The vibe here compared to 2014 about this question is like night and day,” she said.” (Brussels Briefing, FT, June 12th).
Scotland would need a great deal of financial help if she left the United Kingdom. Only one country could give her what she needs – Germany. What would England do if Scotland broke away and formed a de facto alliance with Germany?
WAR WITH IRAN?
The latest attack on oil tankers in the Straits of Hormuz raises the stakes in the Persian Gulf. Undoubtedly, Iran was responsible.
Although war with the US is not likely, another regional war could start over this. The United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia, both Sunni Muslim nations, could be provoked into a conflict with their arch enemy, Iran. If that happens, it’s difficult to see how the United States could remain uninvolved.
Many Bible students are fond of identifying Iran with the King of the South, the ancient prophecy in Daniel 11. It’s difficult to see how Iran can be the king of the South now when it was a part of the King of the North in biblical times!
Don’t look for rationale in this. Iran’s theology embraces an apocalyptic vision of the future, which might encourage them to go to war.
Iran has three times the military power Iraq did. If there is a conflict, it could tie down the US for years.
"Once in a while you will stumble upon the truth but most of us manage to pick ourselves up and hurry along as if nothing had happened." — Sir Winston Churchill