Tag Archives: Recep Tayyip Erdogan

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?

ASSASSINATION OF DONALD TRUMP

The death of Qasem Soleimani has put Trump on an Islamic hit list.

The Iranian Fars News Agency aired a short video on January 10, 2020, titled “Severe Revenge,” dramatizing an Iranian assassination of U.S. President Donald Trump.   In the video, Iranian officials are seen planning their revenge for the killing of Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani.  They study a board with a diagram of possible targets, U.S. President Trump is at the head and Israeli PM Netanyahu, Secretary of State Pompeo, Saudi Crown Prince Bin , and Masoud Rajavi, former leader of Mujahedeen-e-Khalq are at the bottom.  The Iranian officials say they are “going for the big fish,” and one of them says:   “We should target their head.”   In the video, the U.S. Capitol Building is blown up and then the Iranian forces storm the White House, shooting anyone in their sight.   President Trump, Secretary of State Pompeo and PM Netanyahu, (among others) lie dead on the White House floor.   The voice of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is heard in the background, saying: “Severe revenge awaits the criminals whose dirty hands are soiled with his blood.”  (MEMRI 1/14)

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EUROPEANS STILL HOPE FOR IRAN DEAL

The decision by France, Germany and the UK to trigger the dispute resolution mechanism in the landmark Iran nuclear deal is a high-risk move driven by a lack of better options.   It underscores the tough spot the Europeans are in as they vie to save an accord that has been under siege ever since the US pulled out of it 20 months ago and slapped harsh sanctions on Tehran.

The launch of the dispute procedure yesterday crystallises the threat of the nuclear agreement’s demise and the reimposition of UN sanctions on Iran, but the so-called “E3” European powers want neither.   Instead, they hope to force Iran to back down from an escalating series of breaches of the accord launched to retaliate against the US “maximum pressure” economic squeeze.   (Michael Peel, Brussels Briefing, Financial Times, 1/15/2020)

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PLANS FOR ISLAMIC SUPERPOWER

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s chief advisor, retired Turkish general Adnan Tanrıverdi, has been articulating a vision of a unified Islamic superpower through conferences and documents published by his organizations.   This vision is reflected in President Erdoğan’s foreign policy.

The Justice Defenders Strategic Studies Center (ASSAM), of which Tanrıverdi is chairman of the board, has scheduled seven annual “congresses,” of which three have taken place, to work through the technical problems in the formation and governance of an “Islamic union.”   At a recent ASSAM Congress, Tanrıverdi called for the coordination of the joint manufacturing of weapons and military equipment among Islamic countries, saying:   “States cannot stand tall against the countries whose weapons they use.”   ASSAM has also published a 69-page draft of a constitution for a planned shari’a-based confederation of 61 Islamic countries.   This constitution declares that “sovereignty belongs to shariah,” that Istanbul is to be the capital of the confederation, that the Arabic language would be taught in all of its schools, and that its name will be “Asrica,” which is formed from a combination of Asia and Africa.   (MEMRI, 1/14)

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Dutch and German Shipyards to Build Warships for Germany Worth 6 Billion                                                                                                                  by Reuters, 14 Jan 2020, © New York Times Company

BERLINGermany has awarded Dutch shipyard Damen a contract to construct at least four new multi-role warships worth nearly 6 billion euros ($6.7 billion) in an alliance with its Bremen-based partner Luerssen, the armed forces and budget lawmakers said on Tuesday.   The ship tender is one of Germany’s biggest arms projects, along with a contract for the MEADS missile defense system and the new Franco-German fighter jet (FCAS), underlining Berlin’s efforts to increase its military capabilities.   The first warship is expected to be delivered in 2027, the Bundeswehr armed forces said in a statement, confirming a Reuters report from Monday.   The contract includes an option to build two additional MKS 180 warships.  Lawmakers told Reuters that about two-thirds of the production will take place at Luerssen’s shipyards and other sites in northern Germany.   “The decision for the MKS 180 to be mainly built by the Luerssen Group and thus in Germany is a good decision which strengthens Germany as a marine and shipyard location,” said Eckhardt Rehberg, chief budget lawmaker from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives.   Germany’s new warships will be able to attack targets on land and under water, and provide air cover for other vessels.   Other companies interested in the MKS 180 warship tender were ThyssenKrupp and German Naval Yards.   Damen said in a statement that its alliance also included Hamburg-based Blohm+Voss shipyard and France’s Thales.   It estimated that about 80% of the tender’s net investment would remain in Germany.
(https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2020/01/14/world/europe/14reuters-germany-warship.html)

Germany to invest €62 billion to modernize rail network .               The German government on Tuesday agreed to pump €62 billion into biggest modernization ever in Germany,” said Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer.

The German government on Tuesday agreed to pump €62 billion into modernizing its rail network system, as part of a wider plan to incite commuters to opt for greener public transport options. “We’ve just signed the most important programme of modernization ever in Germany,” said Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer, adding that “this is the decade for railway.”   Besides the massive sum stumped up by the state German rail operator Deutsche Bahn will also plow an additional €24 billion into the renewal programme.   The investments will go towards “replacing obsolete installations,” improving access to disabled passengers as well as renovating rail bridges, said Scheuer.   (The Local Germany )(https://www.thelocal.de/20200114/germany-to-invest-62-bn-euros-by-2030-to-modernise-rail-network)

Germany posts record-breaking budget surplus
Germany ended 2019 with a budget surplus of €13.5 billion.  The government wants to spend on infrastructure and other projects, but critics say the money isn’t getting where it needs to go.  (Deutsche Welle, 13 Jan 2020)       (https://www.dw.com/en/germany-posts-record-breaking-budget-surplus/a-51991140)

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AN AMERICAN VIEW OF BRITISH ROYALS

Long ago the British royals ceded all direct power to Parliament. Precisely in being freed from politics — in leaving its dirty work to politicians — the Queen now serves as a brake on democratic excess, just as democracy acts as a brake on the crown.   In a 2010 article for First Things, David Bentley Hart noted the delicate balance:

“The ideal king,” he wrote, “would be rather like the king in chess:  the most useless piece on the board, which occupies its square simply to prevent any other piece from doing so, but which is somehow still the whole game.”

In this sense Elizabeth has been the perfect constitutional monarch. She keeps above the political fray.   She puts on a good British face to the world, even to foreign representatives she might despise, because that is what her nation needs.   She happily attends local events in the smallest part of her realm.

A woke queen could not do this.   Elizabeth may at times be mocked for her restraint and dowdiness, but those qualities are both reassuring and dignified.   Indeed, even though the British elect their politicians, almost always they seem to feel more affection for their monarch than for their prime minister.   And Elizabeth has done it without interruption since 1952, notwithstanding the private heartache and public embarrassment she has had to endure, including Charles’s disastrous first marriage and Prince Andrew’s association with Jeffrey Epstein.

The Queen’s service might also inform today’s debate about liberal democracy.   Plainly monarchy is not suited for the US, given our history.   But liberalism is not one-size-fits-all.   And against those who argue that modernity has overtaken the monarchy, in Britain the crown is one of those enduring institutions — along with church and family — to which liberalism must look for the social cohesion and cultural capital it needs to thrive but cannot itself create.

As British society fragments and Merry Old England gives way to a far more religiously and racially diverse United Kingdom, the Crown offers something to unify people.   Some defenders of the Duchess of Sussex now suggest that it was British racism that did her in.   The truth is that the diversity Meghan Markle brought the royal family by marrying into it was cheered and celebrated.   (William McGurn, The Australian, 1/14, reproduced from the WSJ)

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A LEFT-WING NATIONALIST PARTY

Swedish Communists Wake Up — Just days ago, Sputnik reported on the fact that almost half of the members of the Communist Party in Malmö, Sweden, are resigning.   They plan to establish a new workers’ party that no longer features multiculturalism, LGBT interests, and climate change as key policy goals.  Nils Littorin, one of the defectors, told a local newspaper that today’s Left has become part of the elite and has come to “dismiss the views of the working class as alien and problematic.”   Littorin suggested that the Left “is going through a prolonged identity crisis” and that his group, instead, intends to stick to the original values, such as class politics.  Littorin adds:   “[The Left] don’t understand why so many workers don’t think that multiculturalism, the LGBT movement and Greta Thunberg are something fantastic, but instead believe we are in the 1930s’ Germany and that workers who vote [right-wing] Sweden Democrats have been infected by some Nazi sickness.”   In a piece of simple insight previously rare on the Left, he argues that the rise in right-wing votes for people like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson are in fact due to “widespread dissatisfaction with liberal economic migration that leads to low-wage competition and the ghetto-isation of communities, a development that only benefits major companies.”  Rather than being beneficial to working class Whites, Littorin condemns a “chaotic” immigration policy that has led to “cultural clashes, segregation and exclusion due to an uncontrolled influx from parts of the world characterised by honour culture and clan mentalities.”

Littorin continues to talk sense when it comes to the LGBT agenda. He explains that LGBT issues and the climate movement are merely “state ideologies” that are “rammed down people’s throats.”   Littorin adds that phenomena like these happen at the expense of real issues, such as poverty, homelessness, and income equality:  “Pride, for instance, has been reduced to dealing with sexual orientation. We believe that human dignity is primarily about having a job and having pension insurance that means that you are not forced to live on crumbs when you are old.”

On immigration, Galloway argues that there is “nothing left-wing about unlimited mass immigration.   It decapitates the countries from which the immigrants leave, and drives down wages in those where they arrive.   The wealthy benefit from it, as they can afford cheap labor for their companies, or cheap au-pairs, cheap baristas, cheap plumbers.   But the working class suffers.”   (Andrew Joyce, 12/29/19)

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TO THE POINT

  • WORLD’S OLDEST CONTINENT – With its low birth rate and fast-ageing population, Europe is facing a demographic crisis, one that economists fear could hit growth and public finances. While the global population overall is getting older, Europe is an extreme example of this trend, particularly in the continent’s south and east, which have been hit by record-low fertility rates and emigration.   An analysis of the main demographic trends highlights the challenge faced by policymakers.  Europe has had higher longevity and lower fertility rates than the rest of the world over the past few decades.   It is now the region with the world’s oldest population.   The median age in Europe is 43, 12 years older than the rest of the world.    (Valentina Romel, Financial Times, 1/14/2020)
  • ECONOMIST COMMENT ON TRUMP AND IRAN – He may have deterred conventional attacks, but goaded Iran to build a bomb faster.  (Leaders, Jan 9th 2020 edition, Economist)
  • TWO POPES DISAGREE – There’s a dispute between Pope Francis and his predecessor, Pope Benedict, on, of all issues, celibacy.   There’s no biblical basis for celibacy, but conservatives in the church say that priests cannot serve the church properly if their loyalties are divided.   Pope Francis is more liberal on the issue, wanting to resolve the shortage of priests, particularly in South America.   Pope Benedict takes a conservative view that priests should not be allowed to marry.
  • AMERICAN REVOLUTION — “The conflict that rent the United States in 1861-65 was not America’s first civil war — the American Revolution was.  The fight for independence pitted neighbor against neighbor and family member against family member, exemplified by the split between Founding Father Benjamin Franklin and Tory son William, the final royal governor of New Jersey.   Violence arising from these and countless other pesonal breaks rendered expanses of the former colonies ‘danger land.’  as one historian has called the impact of the internecine warfare that raged between loyalists and patriots. ”  (“That Time General Washington Proposed to Execute  An Innocent Man,” by Peter R. Henriques, American History, February 2020)

 

 

CONSERVATIVES WIN LANDSLIDE IN UK

Johnson, pictured on the final day of campaigning, ran a campaign dominated by the promise to take the UK out of the EU (Reuters)

Once again, pollsters were wrong.   And once again, conservatives benefitted.

The vote was supposed to be close.   There was a lot of talk of a “hung” parliament, where there’s not enough seats to give any party a majority.   This would have been the worst outcome.   As it was, the Conservatives won, as they did in Australia earlier in the year; and in the 2016 US election when every prediction was that Hillary Clinton would be president.

It seems that people do not answer pollsters truthfully.   Perhaps it’s because people are embarrassed to say they are Conservative, but vote with their wallets on election day.   Margaret Thatcher won every time and that was the explanation.   Well, whatever the reason, Boris Johnson won a landslide, the biggest vote for the Conservatives since Mrs. Thatcher in the 80s.

My home town of Grimsby, in the North of England, returned a Conservative MP for the first time in my lifetime.   Others did the same.   Partly, this was disillusionment with the Labor Party (socialists), who have promised much over the years, but delivered little.   This time, according to analysis on Sky News, they promised 28 times as much as the Conservatives, an amount of money that would have been impossible to deliver.

But the main issue was Brexit.  The Conservatives had a definite plan to get out of the European Union by January 31st.   Labour’s plan was more negotiations with the EU, then a second referendum.   There was a referendum in 2016 and those wanting to leave won.   The experience of the last few years has been that many politicians refused to honor the referendum result.  None of them were returned in last week’s election.

It’s the same with Scotland.   A referendum there in 2014 showed the majority of Scots wanting to remain in the United Kingdom.   But Mrs. Nicola Sturgeon refuses to accept that result and wants a second referendum.   If successful, would she allow a third referendum seven years later when disillusionment with the reality of independence sets in?   Doubtful.   The Scottish people are subsidized by the English taxpayer to the tune of almost 2,000 pounds a year per person.   Independence must mean a drop in living standards.   Her hope is that Germany will help.   But Germany is going to have to bail out everybody in Europe now that Britain is leaving.

However, the issue of Scottish independence is not going away.  Boris Johnson has pledged to preserve the union, but even he is going to find that hard.

It’s not just Scotland, either.   Northern Ireland presents another problem.   For the first time ever, there are more Republican MPs from that region.   The Unionists lost out for the first time.   The Irish Republicans (who favor a united socialist Ireland) will be demanding independence at the same time as the Scots.   If either breaks away, British security will be compromised.   The UK’s nuclear base is in Clyde on the Scottish west coast.  There’s also a big military presence in Northern Ireland.

But Brexit is first.   Mr. Johnson has promised to deliver by the end of next month.   There is no impediment in his way.   There will follow eleven months of negotiations with the EU on a trade deal.   The Europeans say that is impossible, it will take at least two years.   With the election, power has shifted.   The Europeans will have to deliver a trade deal by the end of 2020 if they want to keep British trade, and they will want to.   The German car industry relies on Britain for 20% of its sales.   They are not going to throw that away for the sake of teaching Britain a lesson.

The election result should benefit the US, too.   Mr. Johnson has a personal friendship with Mr. Trump.   Both were born in New York City.   Both are known for their hair.   And both are against globalism, preferring to put their country first.

The trend against pollsters may prove the same in 2020, when Donald Trump faces who knows who for the Democrats.   In spite of impeachment (which isn’t going anywhere and seems solely to benefit hundreds of lawyers, all billing the taxpayer) and opinion polls that will show him losing to Elizabeth Buttagieg, or Bernie Biden, Donald Trump is most likely to win.   The longer the impeachment process continues, the more support he has.

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Could Scotland leave the UK . . . and stay in the EU?                                   by Philip Sim, BBC Scotland political reporter, “Would Scots vote for independence?”  18 Dec 2019

This is the big question – after all Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t just want to hold  a referendum, she wants to win one.

Polling data collected by What Scotland Thinks suggests an increase in support for independence – but it generally remains just short of a majority.   Excluding “don’t knows,” the average of polls this year has been 51% No to 49% Yes.   The average for 2018 was 55% to 45% – the same as the 2014 referendum.

Would an independent Scotland stay in the EU?   In practice, Scotland would not become independent the day after a Yes vote – there would have to be a period of transition.    In 2014, the pro-independence side said it would take 18 months to set up an independent Scottish state.   Even if a referendum was held tomorrow, the transition would therefore run beyond the end of 2020 – when the UK is due to complete its exit from the EU.   This means Scotland would leave the EU with the rest of the UK, and would need to apply to join again.

Scotland would have to jump through the same hoops as any state seeking to join the EU, although it would have the advantage of having recently been a member.

Sturgeon’s own party’s prospectus for independence suggests this could take several years, whereas she wants to rejoin the EU as quickly as possible.   The first minister also wants to avoid a hard border between Scotland and England.

(https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-50813510)

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TRUMP AND NATO

The Senate foreign relations committee has voted unanimously in favor of a bipartisan bill that would prevent Trump from unilaterally withdrawing the US from Nato.   The isolationist-inclined president is a noted sceptic of the transatlantic military alliance, and last week left the Nato summit in London early after the emergence of a hot mic video in which other world leaders appeared to be mocking him. The bill will now await a slot for a full vote in the Senate.   (The Guardian, 12/12)

The largest arms producers in the USA and Western Europe, including German companies, have further increased their already predominant share of global arms production, as can be seen in the analysis published yesterday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute SIPRI.   SIPRI analyzed the sales of the world’s Top 100 arms-producers and concluded that 83 percent of their output comes from 70 companies headquartered in countries of the self-proclaimed community of western values.   Whereas the combined sales of the Top 100 arms companies have increased by 4.6 percent, compared to the preceding year, those of the US and West European companies have increased by around 5.2 percent.

Currently the production of military hardware is also massively expanding in Germany.   The armaments division of the Düsseldorf-based Rheinmetall Group was able to boost its sales by 11.8 percent in the first nine months of this year.   The increase of defense budget is promising business in the billions.   German arms exports are also rising dramatically.   (German Foreign Policy, 12/11)

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A 5,000-Year-Old Plan to Erase Debts Is Now a Hot Topic in America                                                                                                                                  In ancient Babylon, a newly enthroned king would declare a jubilee, wiping out the population’s debts.  In modern America, a faint echo of that idea call it jubilee-lite, is catching on.  (Bloomberg, 10 Dec 2019)

Support for write-offs has been driven by Democratic presidential candidates.   Elizabeth Warren says she’d cancel most of the $1.6 trillion in U.S. student loans.   Bernie Sanders would go further -– erasing the whole lot, as well as $81 billion in medical debt.   But it’s coming from other directions too.   In October, one of the Trump administration’s senior student-loan officials resigned, calling for wholesale write-offs and describing the American way of paying for higher education as “nuts.’’    Real-estate firm Zillow cites medical and college liabilities as major hurdles for would-be renters and home buyers.

Moody’s Investors Service listed the headwinds from student debt -– less consumption and investment, more inequality — and said forgiveness would boost the economy like a tax cut.   While the current debate centers on college costs, long-run numbers show how debt has spread through the economy.   The U.S. relies on consumer spending for growth -– but it hasn’t been delivering significantly higher wages.   Household borrowing has filled the gap, with low interest rates making it affordable.   And that’s not unique to America.   Steadily growing debts of one kind or another are weighing on economies all over the world.

The idea that debt can grow faster than the ability to repay, until it unbalances a society, was well understood thousands of years ago, according to Michael Hudson, an economist and historian.   Last year Hudson published “And Forgive Them Their Debts,’’ a study of the ancient Near East where the tradition known as a “jubilee” — wiping the debt-slate clean — has its roots.   He describes how the practice spread through civilizations including Sumer and Babylon, and came to play an important role in the Bible and Jewish law.   Rulers weren’t motivated by charity, Hudson says.   They were being pragmatic — trying to make sure that citizens could meet their own needs and contribute to public projects, instead of just laboring to pay creditors.   And it worked, he says. “Societies that canceled the debts enjoyed stable growth for thousands of years.’’

Forgiveness was good for the economy, would be a modern way of putting it. In an October paper, Moody’s examined how that might apply if America writes off its student debts. (12/10/2019 (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/5-000-old-plan-erase-100000406.html)

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NIGERIAN MONKEYPOX IN ENGLAND                        

A rare viral infection known as monkeypox has been diagnosed in England.   The virus likely was contracted by a person in Nigeria.

Monkeypox could replace smallpox as a most dreaded disease.   The related smallpox virus was eradicated in 1980, thanks to Western technology.   (White people are often condemned for spreading smallpox, but seldom credited with destroying the virus worldwide.)

Open borders allow infected individuals from African nations to invade Western nations.  (Daily Kenn, 12/14/2019)

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A UNITED AFRICA

We Want A United States Of Africa — says Julius Malema
by SG Editor, 16 Dec 2019, iAfrica.com

JOHANNESBURG – Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema on Sunday spelled out the party’s ambitious vision to lead the entire African continent to economic freedom.   Speaking at the party’s second national people’s assembly in Nasrec, south of Johannesburg, Malema explained that it was only natural that economic freedom came from the south.  The gathering was expected to come to an end on Monday.

Governing South Africa may have appeared to be a tall order for the EFF, but this was just one dream that formed part of even bolder ambitions.   Malema wants the six-year-old organisation to have a presence everywhere on the continent.   “Our vision is not these small-minded things you’re thinking about; we want to lead Africa. We want a United States of Africa with one currency, economy, and judiciary,” Malema said.

The party’s vision appeared to be inspired by late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi who dreamt of a United States of Africa.   This plan could well be underway with formations from Liberia, Malawi, and Namibia who were among the guests attending the second people’s assembly in Nasrec.
(https://www.iafrica.com/we-want-a-united-states-of-africa-malema/)

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TO THE POINT

  • Authorities in Australia warned that a “mega-blaze” was threatening the north-western suburbs of Sydney.   Covering about 400,000 hectares, the bushfire has already destroyed over 20 homes and is moving into the Blue Mountains area, a popular tourist destination.   A heatwave is not helping; the Bureau of Meteorology advised that the record for the highest-ever temperature could be broken this week.  (The Economist, 12/17)
  • America’s defence secretary said he needs to speak with his Turkish counterpart about remarks made by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.   On Sunday Mr. Erdogan issued a new threat:   that it may shut down America’s Incirlik air base in eastern Anatolia.   A worsening chill between the two NATO allies has made America jittery about the nuclear warheads it stores there.   (The Economist, 12/17)
  • Chief Advisor To Turkish President Erdoğan:   ‘The Islamic World Should Prepare An Army For Palestine From Outside Palestine’ (MEMRI 12/2)
  • A special court in Pakistan has sentenced former military leader Pervez Musharraf to death on charges of treason and subversion of the constitution.   Mr. Musharraf seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999 and ruled until 2008.   The sentence was largely seen as symbolic, as the former leader is currently in exile in Dubai.   (The Economist, 12/17)
  • Protests in India, against a citizenship law designed to exclude Muslims from naturalisation, escalated in their fifth day.   In Delhi police clashed with protesters around a Muslim university; at least 100 were injured and buses were set on fire.   Other campuses around the country erupted in anger. In India’s north-east, where immigration is generally opposed, six people have been killed.   (The Economist, 12/16)
  • Chief Advisor To Turkish President Erdoğan:   ‘The Islamic World Should Prepare An Army For Palestine From Outside Palestine’ (MEMRI 12/2)
  • 65 of Britain’s MPs returned to the House of Commons last week are minorities.   That’s 10%.   Take away the 59 Scots, and the percentage will increase to almost 20%.   There were none a little over twenty years ago.  This reflects Britain’s changing demographics, the result of massive immigration from the underdeveloped world since World War II.
  • I watched the British election on Sky News, a British 24/7 news channel available on “Watch Free”, a US streaming service.   A day or two later, I was surprised to read that only 46, 000 people watched the election on Sky.  The news company spent a small fortune on John Bercow, controversial former Speaker of the House of Commons, a commentator for the evening, who seemed to spend most of his time justifying his performance as Speaker.

IRAN USING ISLAMIC JIHAD TO STRIKE ISRAEL

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo voiced strong support for protesters again and called on Iran’s leaders to stop their crackdown. (ABC News)

Pompeo:   Iran uses Islamic Jihad to strike Israel

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday accused Iran of using its terrorist proxy Palestinian Islamic Jihad to strike our great ally Israel.   In two tweets, Pompeo also wrote:   “Iran does not want peace in the region.  It does not want the Palestinian people to prosper.   It wants more conflict. Until we address Iran’s threats, the cycle of violence will continue.”   Pompeo went on to say:   “The way forward is clear:  continued pressure until Iran negotiates a comprehensive agreement that includes halting its support to terror groups like PIJ.   Nations around the world can no longer claim to want peace in the region yet allow Iran’s threats to go unchallenged.” (Debka 11/16/2019)

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LEGACY OF FASCISM IN CROATIA

Serious accusations are being made concerning racist attacks, official commemorations honoring Nazi collaborators and excessive police brutality against refugees, are accompanying Croatia’s preparations for taking over the Presidency of the EU Council on January 1, 2020. Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Zagreb, yesterday, for consultations with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković about the duties he must assume in the context of Croatia’s council presidency.   The Croat government will also seek to ward off refugees more efficiently.   For years, Croatia’s border police have been using brute force to deport large numbers of refugees to Bosnia Herzegovina, in violation of international law.   In addition, the Council of Europe has certified that the country is experiencing an increase in racism and glorification of the fascist Ustaša regime. One of the popular commemoration ceremonies honoring Croat Nazi collaborators is celebrated under the “patronage” of Croatia’s parliament in Zagreb.   (German Foreign Policy, 11/22/2019)

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TOTAL COST OF WARS

Since terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center and killed thousands upon thousands of innocent American citizens, U.S. taxpayers have spent $6.4 trillion on wars and military action in the Middle East and Asia, according to a new report by the Watson Institute at Brown University.

. . . The study also shows that as a result of the fighting, 801,000 people have died, including 335,000 civilians, and another 21 million people have been displaced to get away from the violence. (https://moneyandmarkets.com/war-on-terror-cost-us-6-4-trillion/)

. . . The report notes that after 9/11, wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria have grown to include more than 80 countries, making it “a truly global war on terror.”

And the longer the war on terror drags on, the more service members will lose their lives while others will ultimately claim benefits and disability payments.

“Even if the United States withdraws completely from the major war zones by the end of FY2020 and halts its other Global War on Terror operations, in the Philippines and Africa for example, the total budgetary burden of the post-9/11 wars will continue to rise as the U.S. pays the on-going costs of veterans’ care and for interest on borrowing to pay for the wars,” the study notes.

The Pentagon said in March that wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria have cost each U.S. taxpayer $7,623 through fiscal 2018.

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“Britain is in a dangerous mess” says former Prime Minister Tony Blair                                                                                                                                      Blair said on Monday that  neither his own Labor Party nor Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives deserved to win a Dec. 12 election.
by Guy Faulconbridge & William James, Reuters, 25 Nov 2019

“We’re a mess,” Blair said at a Reuters Newsmaker event.  “The buoyancy of the world economy has kept us going up to now, but should that falter, we will be in deep trouble.”   Blair, the only Labour leader to win three elections, said his party was now controlled by its “Marxist-Leninist wing” and that its leader Jeremy Corbyn was promising a revolution.

“The problem with revolutions is never how they begin but how they end,” said Blair.   “The problem with revolutions is that they always end badly.”   “The truth is:  the public aren’t convinced either main party deserves to win this election outright.”   The Dec. 12 vote presents a stark choice between a socialist-run state under Labour, which is offering a second referendum on leaving the EU, and the free-market Conservatives, who want to “get Brexit done” by the end of January.

Johnson has pledged to take Britain out of the EU by Jan. 31 if he wins a parliamentary majority and then to negotiate a comprehensive deal with the bloc covering trade and future relations during a transition period due to end next December.  Blair cast doubt on that timetable and said there was still a risk that Britain could exit the EU in a year’s time without having struck a deal with its biggest trading partner.   “No-deal Brexit is not off the table,” Blair said. “This negotiation (on the future relationship) has no chance of being concluded in that transition period.”  Blair said he did not know whether Labour, which has tacked sharply to the left under Corbyn, would ever return to the center ground of British politics, but added:   “We must set about the urgent task of reconstructing the sensible mainstream of British politics.”

“Otherwise, this laboratory experiment in populism running riot, will end very badly for our nation.”
(http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/topNews/~3/70roENoQAOI/britain-is-a-dangerous-mess-former-pm-blair-says-idUSKBN1XZ0WT)

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ISLAM AND THE LGBT

British Sheikh Asrar Rashid said in a class that was uploaded to the Internet on August 3, 2019, that the LGBT movement is one of the signs of the end of days because it is a manifestation of people forgetting basic principles, like male-female relations.   During the lecture, which took place against the backdrop of protests by the U.K.’s Muslim community against public school curricula that teach about same-sex relationships, Sheikh Rashid criticized the LGBT movement for having “concocted” over 70 different genders, and he said that Islam’s prohibition of homosexual acts is not tantamount to hatred of homosexuals.   Sheikh Rashid said that children who are confronted with education about LGBT issues in schools should vocally question what they are taught and that such questions should not be “blotted out in classrooms or treated in an Orwellian fashion.”   He said that the “Chinese-communist-Mao-Zedong-style brainwashing program” taught in schools should also teach children about the harms that can be caused by homosexual lifestyles in order to discourage such behaviors.

Sheikh Rashid said, for example, that the schools should teach that men who engage in homosexual acts sometimes have to use “male Tampax” diapers at night to prevent their bowels from leaking.   He also said that children should be taught about STDs.   Sheikh Asrar Rashid, who is based in the Birmingham area, was born in the U.K. in 1983 and has reportedly studied in Syria and India.   The video, which was titled “The New Age of Jahiliyah,” was uploaded to the Ahl-us-Sunnah Wal Jama’ah YouTube channel.   For more from Sheikh Asrar Rashid, see MEMRI TV Clip No. 6370.                    (MEMRI, 11/26)

From September next year, “relationships” are to be taught in British primary (elementary) schools, including same-sex relationships.   This has led to protests outside schools.   Most protestors appear to be Muslims.  Muslim opposition to anything LGBTQ is leading to a clash between the two groups.

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GERMAN SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA

With today’s Africa Conference in Berlin, the German government is seeking to induce German companies to make investments on the African continent.   The conference is taking place within the framework of the “Compact with Africa” project, launched more than two years ago during the G20 Summit in Hamburg.   Hailed as a breakthrough for Africa’s economic development at the time, the heralded expansion of investments has, so far, fallen short of expectations, according to experts.   Berlin’s efforts must be seen in the context of the growing global competition for a share in the African market that is no longer limited to China.   Whereas the People’s Republic of China is already Africa’s leading trading partner and is catching up on investments, India has also been expanding its activities on the continent and has surpassed Germany.   Meanwhile, Russia has also succeeded in reinforcing its influence in Africa.   Like the other western powers, Germany is steadily losing ground.   (German Foreign Policy, 11/19/2019)

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The Militarization of the North Sea

Alongside the militarization of the Baltic Sea region, NATO is beginning to reestablish military structures around the English Channel and the North Sea.   At the annual meeting within the framework of the NATO Channel Committee (CHANCOM) recently held in Hamburg, the five riparian states signed a declaration on the further enhancement of their naval cooperation.   According to the German Navy, which participated at the meeting, the establishment of a regional NATO command for the North Sea region, analogous to the war alliance’s Baltic Maritime Component Command (BMCC) in Rostock, was also in discussion.   The maritime route from the Atlantic through the English Channel to the Baltic Sea, via the North Sea is the main route for US troops coming to Europe.   This is why the region has regained strategic importance, since NATO has intensified its confrontation against Russia.   Civilian ports along the transatlantic route are also to be integrated, including Hamburg and Bremerhaven.    (German Foreign Policy, 11/26/2019)

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TO THE POINT

  • The three conservative leaders of three prominent western democracies are all under intense pressure now.   The US, UK and Israel are the three nations threatened.   There is no such pressure upon liberal-socialist leaders. Is this just a coincidence?
  • “Following the 2016 coup attempt, (Turkey’s) Erdogan has purged scores of thousands from his army and regime, jailed more journalists than any other authoritarian, purchased Vladimir Putin’s S-400 missile system as Turkey’s air defense, and ordered the U.S. forces out of his way as he invaded northern Syria, killing Kurdish fighters who did the bleeding and dying in the U.S.-led campaign to crush the ISIS caliphate.” (Pat Buchanan, 11/22/2019)
  • Italian former prime minister and MEP Silvio Berlusconi said on Thursday that Europe needs to become a global military power “to have a seat at the table where decision are made” with America and China.   “We also need military capacity to defend ourselves in case of a massive invasion phenomenon,” Berlusconi added, saying his party will return to government soon as the current Italian government is “unprepared, unqualified and inexperienced.”   (EU Observer, 11/21)
  • A report on TV earlier this week highlighted the fact that Italy has a very low birthrate, with some communities seeing no babies for years.   A proposed solution is immigrants from Africa.   But if the Italian peninsular was full of Africans, would it still be Italy?
  • It has been suggested that Britain’s Prince Andrew should visit the US to be interviewed by the FBI.   A month ago, an American woman was asked to return to the UK to stand trial for the death of a motorcyclist, something she admits.   But she won’t return and claims diplomatic immunity, which she does not qualify for. The US cannot have it both ways.   Perhaps Prince Andrew can be interviewed about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein on British soil?
  • “Corbyn refuses to say sorry” for anti-semitism in the Labor Party (headline in a British newspaper November 27th)
  • “A passionate cohort of campaigners, including former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and opposition leader Anthony Albanese have renewed their push for Australia to become an independent republic more than 20 years since the failed referendum.”   (Sky News, 11/27/2019)
  • As with the referendum on Scottish independence, or Brexit, groups refuse to accept a “No” verdict and simply ask for a second referendum.

WHO CAN TRUST TRUMP’S AMERICA?

Gary Newman is a good friend of mine who attends the Milwaukee congregations of the United Church of God. Photography is his hobby, particularly taking pictures of birds in Wisconsin. The above picture is taken from his latest book of wildlife, a collection of his photographs.
Gary struggles with Parkinson’s and would appreciate your prayers.

“The pithiest summary of Donald Trump’s foreign policy comes from the president himself.   Referring to the mayhem he has uncorked in Syria, he tweeted:  “I hope they all do great, we are 7,000 miles away!”   Mr. Trump imagines he can abandon an ally in a dangerous region without serious consequences for the United States.   He is wrong.   The betrayal of the Kurds will lead friends and foes to doubt Mr. Trump’s America.   That is something both America and the world should lament . . .

“Mr. Trump campaigned on bringing troops home.   He has argued that America must rid itself of ‘endless wars.’   When he says Russia, Iran and Turkey can deal with the mess in Syria, many of his voters will agree.   After almost two decades at war, they have tired of America’s acting as the world’s policeman.   Some Democrats would like to pull troops out of the Middle East, too, including Elizabeth Warren, a leading contender to replace Mr. Trump.”   (“Who can trust Trump’s America?” – The Economist, 10/19)

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TURKEY MAY GO THE WAY OF VENEZUELA

Turkish citizens are wildly optimistic about the invasion of Syria that began Oct. 9.   President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s decision finds broad support within Turkey, including from all the major opposition parties except the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party.   The incursion is understood domestically not only as a measure to protect the country from the Kurdish forces Mr. Erdoğan calls “terrorists,” but also to affirm Turkey’s status as a power; Ankara no longer must bow to the wishes of Washington, Berlin or Moscow.

Then there’s the pessimistic view, the one I share.   The invasion damages Turkey internationally:    Western and Arab governments have condemned the military operation, as have the Russian, Iranian, Indian and Chinese governments.   Volkswagen paused a planned investment in Turkey, and other companies may follow suit. Congress is weighing economic sanctions.   Italy, France and Germany have suspended arms sales.   Tensions are heightening between Turks and Kurds in Germany, and will likely rise within Turkey as well.   (“Turkey may go the way of Venezuela,” Daniel Pipes from the Wall Sreet Journal, 10/24)

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CANADIAN ELECTION

The Canadian election has been held and leaves Justin Trudeau in charge, albeit with a minority government.   He will now have to negotiate with other parties to keep himself in power.   The following is an item from before the election.

In a Friday, October 11, 2019, sermon that was uploaded to the Muslim Youth Victoria YouTube channel, Canadian Sheikh Younus Kathrada reminded his audience that who they vote for in the upcoming Canadian elections, if they decide to vote, will be recorded by the two angels on their shoulders and that Allah will ask them on Judgment Day why they voted for “filthy non-Muslims” who approve of homosexuality.   Sheikh Kathrada said that all of the candidates are “evil and filthy” people who support the Zionists against Islam and who do not have Muslims’ best interests in mind. He added that this is consistent with the Quranic statement that the Jews and the Christians will never be pleased with the Muslims. (MEMRI 10/16)

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DRAGHI BOWS OUT AT ECB WITH WARNING ON EUROZONE WEAKNESS
Mario Draghi blames slowing global economy, Brexit uncertainty and recession fears in Germany

Speaking in Frankfurt after his final ECB policy meeting before stepping down, Draghi said the ECB was concerned that the economy of the 19-member currency bloc, which has slowed this year along with much of the global economy, faced “protracted weakness” going into 2020.

With consumer and business confidence low and trade with the US hit by Donald Trump’s latest raft of import tariffs, risks were all “to the downside,” said the Italian economist, who will be succeeded on 1 November by former International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde.

German companies were the worst affected, with employment in Europe’s largest economy falling for the first time in six years according to a closely watched business survey.   After 14 months of falling new orders from abroad and a steep drop in sales across the manufacturing sector in October, the German economy’s slide to the brink of recession appeared to be continuing unabated.   (Guardian * 24 Oct 2019)

(https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/oct/24/germany-eurozone-stagnation-economy-output-recession)

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TO THE POINT

  • The search for the perfect impeachable offense against President Trump is reminiscent of overzealous prosecutors who target the defendant first and then search for the crime with which to charge him.   Or to paraphrase the former head of the Soviet secret police to Stalin:   show me the man and I will find you the crime.   (“Impeachers searching for new crimes,” Adam Dershowitz, Gatestone, 10/24)
  • If, according to Hamas, Turkey has the right to protect its border, why does Israel not have the same right?   (“Why Hamas supports Erdogan’s War,” Gatestone, 10/22)
  • With only a few days to go until Brexit, scheduled for October 31st, it seems doubtful it can go ahead.   The British parliament has made it virtually impossible for Boris Johnson to leave.   The EU, however, is clearly growing tired of this and has granted an extension of undetermined length (to be decided next week). Clearly, this is the last extension they will grant.   EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker described the whole Brexit process as “a waste of time and energy.”   What has become clear through the whole Brexit process is that the EU is in charge and Britain plays the subservient role.   This is Britain’s national humiliation.   It is also clear that it is impossible to negotiate a deal with the EU, as the former Greek finance minister warned, as they won’t budge an inch.   Donald Trump should remember this when negotiations begin for a new trade deal with Europe – it’s their way or no way!
  • The deaths of 39 people in a lorry (truck) just outside of London shows that people traffickers are still very active.   The people found inside were Orientals.   Only one has been identified, a young lady from Vietnam who was a human rights activist.   She had texted her mother from inside the truck saying she was finding it hard to breathe.   The Chinese government is blaming the British for this.   In one way, this is correct.   If Britain’s welfare system was not so generous, many people would be less inclined to go there.   An immediate solution that would improve the situation would be to deny welfare and healthcare to immigrants unless they have worked there for five years.     It’s an unlikely solution as neither branch of government (healthcare is government controlled) is set up to manage such a system.   So expect more people smugglers.   And, realize, for every truck found, there’s probably 20 or 30 get through and unload their passengers with no problems.   Revelation 18:13 warned that the end-time economic system would see a great trade in human beings:    “The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thy wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, and cinnamon and incense, fragrant oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and bodies and souls of men.” (NKJV)
  • Human trafficking is now the world’s biggest trade, and is far more profitable than drugs.   People pay approximately 30,000 pounds ($39,000) to be “smuggled” from China through Belgium to England.   One other thing needs to be said:   these people cross at least a dozen countries to get to England.   Anti-Brexit propaganda says the British economy will collapse when the UK exits the EU.   Obviously, these people have far more confidence in the future of the British economy that the Remainers have!

Had a great time in the Dells.   My wife has a pain in her right leg (which has just been diagnosed as a Baker’s cyst), making it very difficult to walk.   And I’ve had the flu since we got back.

KURDS ‘STABBED IN BACK’ BY US

The SDF was Washington’s main ally in Syria in the fight against ISIL [File: Maya Alleruzzo/AP Photo]
The US President Donald Trump has announced that an ally of the United States, Turkey, may attack and invade another ally, the Kurds, who fought with the US against ISIS.

Kurds warn Turkish offensive will bring ‘chaos once again’

Several of Donald Trump’s most loyal Republican allies have turned on him over his decision to pull US troops out of north-eastern Syria. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said the withdrawal would benefit Russia and Iran, while Senator Lindsey Graham – usually an outspoken defender of the president – warned that abandoning the Kurds in the region to allow a Turkish military offensive would be “a stain on America’s honor.”

War zone — Turkish forces are already massing near the border with north-eastern Syria as US troops withdraw.  A spokesperson for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said the area would soon “turn into a war zone.”

Civilian suffering — Trump’s rash decision opens the way for a vicious struggle between the Kurds and Turkey’s military, says Simon Tisdall, who warns of war crimes and fresh civilian suffering ahead.   (The Guardian, 10/8)

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PARIS POLICE KILLED BY ISLAMIST

The knife attacker who killed four of his colleagues at Paris police headquarters this week showed signs of radicalization and appears to have planned his assault, French authorities said on Saturday. France’s anti-terror prosecutor said several witnesses had said the attacker — a 45-year-old IT professional who had been working at the Intelligence Directorate of the Paris Police Headquarters since 2003 — had adhered to “a radical vision of Islam.”   He had converted to the religion about 10 years ago.   On Thursday he killed four of his colleagues in an attack that lasted less than 10 minutes in the centre of Paris near Notre-Dame cathedral before being shot dead by an armed officer.

The anti-terror prosecutor took over the investigation on Friday after police examined the attacker’s mobile phone and questioned his associates, including his wife.   On the morning of the attack, said the prosecutor at a press conference, the perpetrator had exchanged 33 text messages with his wife and all of a religious nature, ending with the phrase “Allahu akbar [God is great]”.   He sent the messages 30 minutes before he bought the knives used in the attack.

The prosecutor said that the attacker had probably had contacts with members of the Salafist movement, a radical form of Islam, adding that the investigations had revealed his “approval for certain atrocities committed in the name of that religion,” including the deadly assault in 2015 against satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and that he had changed his manner of dress over the past few months.

According to French media the attacker’s wife has described how he had begun hearing voices the night before the attack.   Over the past four years Paris has been hit by numerous large-scale and deadly attacks, including at the Bataclan theatre in November 2015 when extremists killed 130 people in the deadliest Islamist terror attack to strike France.  (Paris police attacker showed signs of radicalization, David Keohane, Financial Times, 10/5).

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Israel and Gulf states working on ‘historic pact’ to end conflict between them (Times of Israel * 5 Oct 2019)

Israel is reportedly negotiating with several Gulf states on a “non-aggression pact” between them as they face off against an increasingly emboldened Iran.   The deal, which Channel 12 news described as potentially “historic,” aims to put an end to the state of conflict between the Gulf states and Israel, and reportedly provides for friendly relations, cooperation in a variety of fields, and no war or incitement against each other.

Advancing the Israeli initiative, Foreign Minister Israel Katz met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last month with several foreign ministers from Arab Gulf states, Channel 12 news reported Saturday night.   There was no immediate comment from the Foreign Ministry..   (https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-and-gulf-states-said-working-on-non-aggression-pact-as-they-face-iran/)

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Former MidEast envoy:   ‘anti-Iran alliance crumbling’
Times of Israel * 5 Oct 2019

Sensing US reluctance to respond forcefully to Iranian aggression in the region, and following the devastating September attack on its oil facilities blamed on Tehran, Saudi Arabia is quietly moving toward possible rapprochement with the Islamic Republic, according to multiple media reports.    The New York Times reported Friday that the Trump administration’s failure to react militarily to the September 14 missile and drone attack on Saudi oil facilities, which jolted global oil prices and temporarily knocked out nearly 6 percent of the world’s daily crude production, had led Riyadh to recalculate.

“The worst outcome for the Saudis is to move to a confrontation with Iran expecting the US to support them and find out they won’t,” Philip Gordon, a former White House Middle East coordinator, told the Times.   “This administration has shown it’s not really ready to take on Iran.”   . . . Saudi Arabia gave a “positive” response Friday to a truce offer from the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen and called for its implementation.   Saeed Shariati, a political analyst in Tehran, told the New York Times:   “We have reached the peak of Saudi-Iran tensions and both sides have concluded this balance of fear is detrimental to their interests.” (https://www.timesofisrael.com/saudis-said-moving-toward-detente-with-iran-amid-us-reluctance-to-act-militarily/)

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CHINESE LOANS TO FINANCE NEW ZIMBABWE CAPITAL IN POVERTY STRICKEN NATION

China has sunk her dragon claws deeper into Zimbabwe’s social, political and economic bone marrow by reportedly acquiring vast tracks of land in Mount Hampden, the new capital city of the country, thus effectively buying and owning it for a song, well before construction is even completed, Spotlight Zimbabwe, has been told.

Diplomatic and high level government sources at the ministry of lands, agriculture, and rural resettlement this week said Beijing had also struck a deal to provide the more than US$20 billion needed by government to develop the city, which is expected to house a new reserve bank, parliament building, international airport, government departments, presidential palace, shopping malls, five new opulent residential suburbs, and industrial sites.

Other features of the new city include a university, technology centre, schools, churches, hospitals, and official residences for the speaker of parliament and senate president. (Cynthia Goba, Zimbabwe News, 10/4)

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ISRAELI MAJORITY WANT MORE SECULAR STATE

A new survey by Hiddush, an Israeli organization that supports religious pluralism, shows that 57 percent of the Jewish Israeli electorate does not want the incoming governing coalition to include or depend on parties that are Charedi Orthodox, commonly referred to as ultra-Orthodox in the United States.  That 57 percent majority also wants the coalition to support religious freedom in Israel.

Thirty-four percent of Israeli Jews disagree:   They want the Orthodox parties in the coalition and are happy with current government policy, which gives Orthodox Judaism significant influence over Israeli law.   Charedi parties have been part of the Israeli government since 2015 and have sat in a series of coalitions throughout Israel’s history.

The survey’s finding is significant because some of the harshest rhetoric ahead of the election centered on religious issues.   Secular parties accused Orthodox parties of wanting to establish a theocracy in Israel.   Orthodox parties claimed that secular parties wanted to deprive Israel of its religious character.   The only reason for the election last week — Israel’s second in a year — was an intractable conflict between Orthodox and secular parties after the previous election in April.

Nearly all of those who voted for Blue and White, the centrist party led by Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid opposing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, want a secular governing coalition.   Most voters for Netanyahu’s Likud Party (56 percent) support a coalition with Orthodox parties, while 44 percent favor a secular coalition. (https://jewishweek.timesofisrael.com/israelis-want-a-more-secular-ruling-coalition/)

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IRAN MOVES NEARER TO ISRAEL

Israel is fighting off Iranian expansion across the Middle East, but danger for the Jewish state lurks near its own borders.   Painstaking work by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and their loyal proxies has succeeded in laying the groundwork for a second Iranian front with Israel in the Golan Heights.

The first front is to Israel’s north in South Lebanon.   The Golan, which Israel won from Syria in 1967, lies further east.   Though Israel rules the skies, the Syrian land adjoining Israel’s border appears increasingly to belong to Iran.  (Jonathan Spyer, Wall Street Journal, 10/2)

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THREE MUSLIM LEADERS TO START TV NEWS CHANNEL

A leader of a country that has the death penalty for “blasphemy,” a leader who says he is a proud antisemite and a leader who threatens to invade foreign countries have united to push for a TV channel that will “fight Islamophobia.”   Pakistan’s Imran Khan, Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohamad, and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan met to propose a “BBC type English language TV Channel” that will “highlight Muslim issues,” Imran Khan said.

Khan tweeted that he met with his two counterparts on September 25 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.   The three decided to “jointly start an English language channel dedicated to confronting the challenges posed by Islamophobia and setting the record strait on our great religion.”   It’s unclear when he says “our” great religion if he means including other Muslim groups, such as Shi’ites or Ahmadis, both of which are routinely the victims of attacks in Pakistan.   Khan again tweeted about his meeting on September 30, claiming that this channel would be a “BBC type.” (Seth Frantzmann, MEF, 10/1)

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Israeli Security Cabinet to meet for first time in months, amid warnings of Iran threat.                                                                                    Security cabinet to convene Sunday as Liberman urges PM, Gantz to agree on unity, citing ‘national emergency’ and evoking Yom Kippur War; Islamic Jihad holds Gaza rally   (Times of Israel * 5 Oct 2019)

Members of the top forum will meet at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem in the afternoon.   In recent days Hebrew media has on several occasions quoted unnamed security officials as warning of the rising threat of an attack orchestrated by Iran.   The Blue and White party’s Gabi Ashkenazi, newly appointed head of the Knesset’s powerful Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, also spoke Thursday of “many challenges in the security realm, some known to all and some that are only discussed behind closed doors.” Liberman noted in a Facebook post that the country on Sunday will mark 46 years since the Yom Kippur War, the most traumatic conflict in the nation’s history and one in which the country was caught off guard by its enemies, and said it was imperative to remember its legacy “of leadership and love of country.”

Meanwhile, the Islamic Jihad terror group on Saturday marked 32 years since its establishment, holding a rally in the Gaza Strip in which it showed off what it said was a new type of rocket. (https://www.timesofisrael.com/security-cabinet-to-meet-for-first-time-in-months-amid-warnings-of-iran-threat/)

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CATHOLIC CHURCH TO ORDAIN MARIED PRIESTS?

VATICAN CITY— Pope Francis formally opened a meeting of bishops that will debate whether the Catholic Church should loosen its 1,000-year-old requirement of celibacy for priests.

The potentially momentous debate pits those who say ordaining married men could relieve the church’s clergy shortage against those who warn that doing so would undermine the distinctive character of the priesthood.

In his homily on Sunday, at Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, the pope didn’t refer specifically to the celibacy debate, but called generally for innovation in the church’s ministry:   “If everything continues as it was, if we spend our days content that ‘this is the way things have always been done,’ then the gift vanishes, smothered by the ashes of fear and concern for defending the status quo.”   (“Pope opens debate on celibacy requirement for Catholic priests,” Francis X. Rocca, Wall Street Journal, 10/6)

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SCANDINAVIAN CRIME BOOSTED BY IMMIGRANTS

  • “Most immigrants are not criminals, but when the immigrant population is overrepresented in almost every crime category, then there is a problem that we must dare to talk about.” — Jon Helgheim, immigration policy spokesman for the Norwegian party Fremskrittspartiet (FrP).
  • “In the more than thirty years that the surveys cover, one tendency is clearer than all others, namely that the proportion of the total amount of crimes committed by persons with a foreign background is steadily increasing….” — Det Goda Samhället (“The Good Society”), Invandring och brottslighet – ett trettioårsperspektiv (“Immigration and crime – a thirty-year perspective”).   All statistics for the report were supplied by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention.
  • Unless Scandinavian political leaders begin actively to engage with the facts that these statistics describe, the problems are only going to become more intractable — to the point where they may be entirely unsolvable.   (Judith Bergman, Gatestone, 10/4)

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Why some Albertans want to separate from Canada                              by Robin Levinson-King,  BBC News, Calgary, Alberta, 4 Oct 2019

Today, Albertans’ common concerns can be summarized with three words: representation, equalization and oil.    Peter Downing, “a right-wing political muckraker” is hoping to spin this feeling of economic betrayal into a viable political movement, with the creation of Wexit Alberta.

The group is campaigning for the western province to separate from Canada and form its own nation (possibly alongside another western province).   It’s an old idea that has gained momentum as relations between Alberta and the rest of the country have deteriorated.

Many Albertans blame Mr. Trudeau’s policies for this turn of events, and Mr. Cooper, the Albertan political scientist who is also a separatist, says he is certain that if Mr. Trudeau is re-elected, Albertan separation will soon follow.       (Extracts from:  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-49899113)

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TO THE POINT

  • “The China of Xi Jinping boasts land- and submarine-based missiles and bombers that provide a strategic deterrent against the United States.   Beijing’s conventional forces on land, sea, and in air and space rival any on earth.”   (Pat Buchanan, 10/4)
  • Nasr Al-Din Mufreh, Sudan’s Minister of Religious Affairs, said in a September 7, 2019 interview on Al-Arabiya Network (Saudi Arabia) that Sudan is pluralistic in its views, values, cultures, ideologies, Islamic schools of thought, and religions, and he called upon Jewish minorities that may have left Sudan to reclaim their Sudanese citizenship and return to the country, which he pointed out is now ruled by secular law.   On a same-day interview on Sudania 24 TV, Sudanese writer Haidar Al-Mukashafi said that the Jewish presence in Sudan dates back over a century, and he said that this may be evidenced by a rumor in the Sudanese city of Merow that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was born and raised in Sudan.   Al-Mukashafi said that Jews and other minorities may return to Sudan if reforms take place and if there are incentives to do so.   (MEMRI, 9/19)
  • Fatemeh Azad, a 58-year-old Muslim woman who had converted to Christianity against her Muslim husband’s will and fled to Germany, was denied asylum there and deported back to Iran. There she was immediately arrested by authorities waiting for her plane to land . . .   “When Fatemeh made her asylum appeal, her lawyers argued that apostasy (conversion away from Islam) is punishable by the death penalty in Iran.”   This, however, was insufficient for Germany . . . — Persecution.org; July 25, 2019. (Gatestone 9/22)
  • Prince Harry’s decision to take British newspapers to court may backfire on him.   The British Royal family has always maintained a policy of “no comment” on newspaper articles about them. After all, if you deny some, you are, effectively, admitting that others are true.   At the same time, royals have a symbiotic relationship with the press – they can’t live without all the publicity and the press can’t live without the royals, who provide lots of news that people are interested in.   Suing the papers may end that relationship.   If the papers back away from the royals, that could mean no publicity, life-blood of the monarchy.
  • SWEDISH KING KICKS GRANDCHILDREN OUT OF ROYAL HOUSE . . . AND CHARLES WANTS THE SAME (headline in Daily Express, 10/7).   “The five children lose the status of royal highness and are not expected to perform official duties.”  (BBC)
  • The death of a 19-year-old British man, killed on his motorbike by a lady driving on the wrong side of the road, is clear cut.   It was an accident, but some appropriate punishment must be found. However, the motorist, a 42-year-old mother, fled to the US to avoid a court case.   This was made possible by the fact that she has diplomatic immunity.   We understand that there must be laws on diplomatic immunity, but for traffic accidents like this? She will hardly face the death penalty if she goes back for a trial.   And the family needs some sort of closure after losing a son to an American lady who got confused and drove on the right (wrong) side of the road!   (Diplomatic immunity even helps diplomats avoid traffic fines and cost the UK taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds per year.)
  • The deaths of six elephants in Thailand was a tragic accident.   A baby in the herd fell down a waterfall.   The other five died trying to rescue her.   This kind of behavior is typical of elephants who are very caring of each other.
  • I will not be posting a blog next week.

 

 

 

BRITAIN’S NATIONAL HUMILIATION

Prime Minister Theresa May arrived outside the chancellery earlier than scheduled with the German chancellor nowhere to be seen to welcome her.
Prime Minister Theresa May arrived outside the chancellery earlier than scheduled with the German chancellor nowhere to be seen to welcome her.

As if to emphasize her growing isolation, Mrs. Theresa May stood at the Berlin chancellory alone.   Her flight arrived early and Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, was a little late.

She started her week with a visit to Berlin and Paris, to meet German and French leaders.   Her purpose was to ask for a second extension to Brexit, due on Friday, April 12th.    The French president seemed reluctant to support her request, but is now supportive.   Her biggest problem is going to be back home.

It’s not just the Queen who must be frustrated with parliament (see picture above), Mrs. May is presiding over the most divided parliament in living memory.

A friend of mine wrote from the UK:   “What a shambles!  The worst Prime Minister since Chamberlain, the most dysfunctional Parliament since Cromwell, the worst leader of the Labour Party ever, plus a rogue Commons Speaker.   A recipe for a ‘perfect storm’.”

“Britain’s new departure date was set for October 31 in what was the EU’s second approval of an extension in less than a month.   The UK will be able to leave earlier if it is able to ratify the withdrawal agreement reached between Mrs. May and the EU.   The humiliating decision for Mrs. May leaves Britain facing elections within six weeks to the European Parliament.   It will heap pressure on the prime minister from Eurosceptic Conservative MPs furious with her leadership and the postponement of Brexit.”  (“EU leaders agree to six month Brexit delay.” Financial Times, 4.11)

A scripture that comes to mind through all this is:   “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.”   (Matthew 12:25).

The country has never been so divided.

It seems as if Britain is incapable of standing up for herself.

The Daily Telegraph reports today that the fixation on a deal is not so much Mrs. May, but senior non-elected advisers in the government, who cannot imagine laving the EU without an agreement that binds the UK to it.   The “deep state” in the UK is just as dangerous as it is in the US.

“Groveling Britain has officially surrendered to a triumphant EU,” wrote Andrew Lilico, in today’s Daily Telegraph (4/11).

“Theresa May will soon learn the terms of her latest Brexit extension, which Emmanuel Macron wants to make as punishing as possible.   Why so?   He’s in deep trouble at home, says Jonathan Miller, and thinks a bit of Brit-bashing will help.”   (Fraser Nelson, The Spectator, 4/11/19).

“Brexit rolls on for another six months.   Just after the stroke of midnight, EU27 leaders gave the UK a new Brexit fright night: October 31 (Halloween).“   (Mehreen Khan, Financial Times 4/11)

President Trump has warned the “brutal” EU that “it will all come back to bite you.”    Mr. Trump has his own problems with the EU and is threatening $11 billion in tariffs on EU products.   He may be surprised at how hard the EU can hit back!

LEGACY OF EU MEMBERSHIP

When Britain entered the EU in January 1973 (at the time it was the EEC – the European Economic Community), there were only six members (Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Holland and Luxemburg). Today there are 28 (27 without Britain).   It is doubtful many of the others would have joined if the UK had not signed up.

Additionally, Britain has been a net contributor, helping new (and poorer) members to grow economically.   Britain has been at the forefront of creating an economic superpower.   She is leaving at a time when the EU is strengthening ties, with the creation of a military union.  In effect, Britain has created a (potentially) European military and political superpower, right on her doorstep.

At the same time, Britain handed over many of her former colonies, who signed up to the ACP Lome Convention. African, Caribbean and Pacific nations, tied themselves to the EU.

It’s difficult to see how Britain can recover from her EU membership, but the sooner she is out, the sooner she can make a start.

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BREXIT’S IMPACT ON GERMANY

(Own report) – Germany’s Minister of the Economy, Peter Altmaier, warns of the consequences a “hard” Brexit would have on Germany, and sees the danger of the loss of “thousands of jobs.”   Brussels and London must absolutely “prevent the big crash at the last moment,” declared Altmaier yesterday.   The Federation of German Industries (BDI) had already warned that a hard Brexit could cost Germany a half-percentage point in growth – €17 billion this year alone.   For months, think tanks have been pointing out that Germany would be the country most affected on the continent, if the United Kingdom makes an unregulated exit.   Germany possibly may have to expect double-digit billions in annual losses.   Most recently, the Bertelsmann Foundation assumed that the losses could be broken down to €115 per inhabitant of Germany.   Those losses are looming at a time, when the German economy is in danger of slipping into a recession.   Berlin and Brussels could prevent a hard Brexit by setting a time limit on the “backstop,” however, they are still hoping for a second referendum – and upping the ante.  (German Foreign Policy, 4/4)

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TRUMP ON THE EU

“Europe’s leaders have never felt more alone.   Across the ocean, President Donald Trump has called the E.U. “a foe” of America, stalled a transatlantic trade deal while repeatedly threatening tariffs on European goods, and lashed out at NATO, the West’s cherished postwar project.”   (Time)

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MIDEAST CONFLICT WIDENS

  • “The Yemeni revolution will not be confined to Yemen alone.   It will extend, following its success, into Saudi territories.” — Iranian Lawmaker Ali Reza Zakani, trusted adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
  • “If the Shia rebels gain control of the Bab al-Mandeb Strait, Iran can attain a foothold in this sensitive region giving access to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, a cause of concern not only for its sworn rivals Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf states, but also for Israel and European countries along the Mediterranean.” — IDF Lt.-Col. (Ret.) Michael Segall

(“Is Iran winning in Yemen?” – Soeren Kern, Gatestone Institute, 4/11/19)

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NETANYAHU VICTORY – LONGEST SERVING ISRAEL PM

Prime Minister Benjamin Ntanyahu has won a record fifth term as Israel’s prime minister, in spite of corruption charges laid against him.

Victory for the conservative prime minister is another sign that the “left” in Israel has effectively ceased to exist.   His primary opponent, Benny Gantz, was also conservative and hawkish on defense.   He came in a close second.

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HAGIA SOPHIA TO BE CONVERTED INTO A MOSQUE

Addressing a rally ahead of the March 31 municipal elections in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced plans to convert the Hagia Sophia museum, originally a Byzantine cathedral, into a mosque.

Erdogan repeated this statement the following day during a televised interview.   “Hagia Sophia will no longer be called a museum,” he declared.   “Its status will change.   We will call it a mosque.”   (Gatestone, 4/7)

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THE POPE AND WALLS

“I appeal not to create walls but to build bridges” has long been Pope Francis’s mantra.

Most recently, when asked last Sunday “a question about migration in general and about U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to shut down the southern border with Mexico,” the pope pontificated in platitudes:   “Builders of walls,” he said, “be they made of razor wire or bricks, will end up becoming prisoners of the walls they build . . . With fear, we will not move forward, with walls, we will remain closed within these walls.”

Less than a week earlier, Pope Francis lectured the mayor of Rome about the need to be more welcoming to Muslim migrants.   “Rome,” he declared, “a hospitable city, is called to face this epochal challenge [Muslim migrants demanding entry] in the wake of its noble history; to use its energies to welcome and integrate, to transform tensions and problems into opportunities for meeting and growth.”

“Rome,” he exulted, “city of bridges, never walls!”

The grand irony of all this is that Pope Francis lives in the only state to be surrounded by walls—Vatican City—and most of these bastions were erected to ward off centuries of Islamic invasions.”   (“A lesson for Pope Francis on walls and Muslims,” by Raymond Ibrahim, Middle East Forum, 4/2).

 

 

 

 

FLORIDA SCHOOL SHOOTING

(Photo: John McCall, AP)

After yet another school shooting in the United States, the 19th this year, Pat Buchanan wrote a brilliant analysis.   The following is a quote from his article, posted this morning.

“Another factor helps to explain what happened Wednesday: We are a formerly Christian society in an advanced state of decomposition.

“Nikolas Cruz was a product of broken families.  He was adopted. Both adoptive parents had died.  Where did he get his ideas of right and wrong, good and evil?   Before the Death of God and repeal of the Ten Commandments, in those dark old days, the 1950s, atrocities common now were almost nonexistent.    (“The Motives behind the massacre,” Pat Buchanan, 2/16)

Deuteronomy 28 is the classic Bible chapter that should help us all think.   In summary, what it says is that the more we obey God, the greater our society will be; the more we turn away from God, the worse it will become.   As Mr. Buchanan points out, “before the death of God and repeal of the Ten Commandments, in those dark old days, the 1950s, atrocities common now were almost nonexistent.”

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RIPPLE EFFECT OF SCHOOL SHOOTINGS

It’s not just that US schools are unsafe, it’s clear to the rest of the world that America is a very violent country, with a governmental system that doesn’t work any more.   As one writer put it, the US has an eighteenth century constitution in a twenty first century world.

Most countries already have a bad impression of the current US president.   But, when Mr. Trump spoke following the shootings and talked about mental illness, that impression only worsened.   Mental illness was (and usually is) a major factor, but what differentiates America from other western countries is easy access to weapons. Even the mentally ill can walk into a gun dealer and buy an assault rifle!

Parkland will not be the last school mass shooting.

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ISLAM AND THE WEST

Sheikh “Abu Qusay” delivered a Friday sermon in Jerusalem, in which he said:

“Oh dweller of the White House, let me tell you, from the pulpit of the Prophet Muhammad, that this is the promise of Allah and His Messenger:   Jerusalem is the heart of the land of Islam.   We will storm your White House, stomp on your head, kill your soldiers, and capture your land.   This is the promise of the Prophet Muhammad.” The sermon was posted to the internet on December 22nd.   (MEMRI)

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Nervous Rex?  Tillerson in Turkey

The war in Syria has already tested and destroyed many alliances. Turkey’s relationship with America may be next.   Having launched one army offensive against Kurdish insurgents in north-west Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government says it will soon order another, this time in the north-east.   There, the militants are flanked by American troops, who are supporting them in their fight against Islamic State.   It will be up to America’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, who arrives in Turkey today, to calm nerves and prevent the diplomatic row between the two NATO allies from exploding into an armed one.   That will not be easy.   After an American general warned that his forces would retaliate against any attack on their positions inside the Kurdish strongholds, Mr Erdogan said the United States “had clearly never received an Ottoman slap.” Slap or no slap, Mr. Tillerson’s ears will be ringing by the time he gets back to Washington. (Economist, 2/15)

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German government plans massive military expansion in Iraq        By Johannes Stern, 13 February 2018

The new grand coalition in Germany is planning a massive expansion of the German army (Bundeswehr) mission in Iraq. 

This was announced by Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen (Christian Democratic Union, CDU) in the course of her trip to the Middle East last weekend.  Von der Leyen praised Germany’s cooperation with the Peshmerga [Kurdish military forces] during her visit to Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Autonomous Region in northern Iraq.   The Bundeswehr has been arming and militarily supporting the Kurdish force for three and a half years.   It was “impressive to see the great success of the Peshmerga training mission,” she said, thanking “Bundeswehr soldiers” on the spot.  Von der Leyen then announced that in future the Bundeswehr would be deployed throughout Iraq.

There will be “another mandate,” she said, “a mandate with a new balance … between Baghdad and Erbil on equal terms on both sides.” The defense minister made no concrete statements about the planned operation, but left no doubt she envisaged a long-term military engagement throughout Iraq.   “Both in Kurdistan, as well as in the central government in Baghdad,” there is “a request above all to help in the implementation of reforms, in the construction of ministry structures,” the minister said.   In Erbil, for example, “the construction of an entire sanitary unit is necessary,” but this also involved “of course the entire planning, organisation, recruitment and training.”   There is also “considerable demand” for logistics. Germany wanted to “make its contribution” to provide Iraq with “independent, loyal operational forces for the long term.”

The Socialist Equality Party rejects the coalition pact, which focuses on the return of Germany to an aggressive foreign and great power policy, and calls for the disclosure of all the talks.   Under conditions of escalating warfare in Syria and Iraq, and US preparations for war against North Korea, which threaten to provoke a Third World War, this demand, along with the demand for new elections, is becoming increasingly urgent.

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Special Dispatch No. 7339

Hamas, Palestinian Factions In Response To Israel’s Airstrikes In Syria:   ‘Any Israeli Attack, On Any Front, Will Be Answered With A Comprehensive War On All Fronts’ (MEMRI 2/15)

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Macron Vows to Reform Islam in France
“It is time to bring in a new generation”

by Soeren Kern, February 13, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • The overall objective of President Macron’s plan is to ensure that French law takes precedence over Islamic law for Muslims living in the country.
  • The plan, as currently conceived, is vague and short on details, but appears to involve three broad pillars: determining who will represent Muslims in France; delineating how Islam in France will be financed; and defining how imams in France will be trained.
  • “It is time to bring in a new generation.   We have seen fifteen years of debate to defend the interests of foreign states.” — Hakim el-Karoui, a French-Tunisian expert on Islam who is advising Macron on the reforms. (Gatestone)

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EUROPEAN UNITY

A New Élysée Treaty – Berlin and Paris are seeking a “new Élysée Treaty.”   On the 55th anniversary of the original 1963 Élysée Treaty, in which the Federal Republic of Germany and France committed themselves to hold “consultations” on major political issues, Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron announced the drafting of a new treaty aimed at “deepening” cooperation between the two countries and “strengthening” the EU.   In a declaration, the parliaments of both countries called for harmonizing almost the “complete range of policy issues.”   This would amount to massively enhancing the “German-French axis.”

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US/EU

Transatlantic Rivals

(Own report) – In Washington serious warnings are being raised against an independent German-European military policy aimed at weakening NATO.   The militarization of the EU is being supported as long as “it is complimentary to NATO,” a senior Pentagon official was quoted.   However, Washington would intervene if Berlin and the EU were to pull military resources away from NATO and use them for their own wars.   This statement was made in light of the NATO defense ministers’ meeting that begins today, which will include a decision on the establishment of two new NATO headquarters.   One will be established in the United States, to secure the military supply routes from North America over the Atlantic to Europe.   A second will be established in Germany, to optimize rapid redeployments of West European troops eastwards across the continent.   At the current stage of planning, this will be under German sovereignty and available also for use outside of the NATO framework.

More… https://www.german-foreign-policy.com/en/news/detail/7531/

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TRADE WAR

Despite its loss in U.S. trade court against Bombardier, Boeing believes 2018 will be a turning point in its lengthy WTO challenge to Airbus over government subsidies.   The threat of hefty tariffs could redraw the playing field — or trigger a trade war among traditional allies.   (Dominic Gates,The Seattle Times 2/10)

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday rejected the sale of the Chicago Stock Exchange to a group that would have included Chinese investors, capping a two-year battle over a deal that sparked political opposition in Congress, reports the WSJ’s Dave Michaels. (2/16)

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US ECONOMY

Some like it hot:   America’s economy

The White House will announce its infrastructure plan today.   It is expected to call for $200bn more in government spending to encourage private investment, hoping for a total of $1.5trn towards spending on roads, bridges, ports and more.   Were Congress to pass such a plan without cutting spending elsewhere, it would be the third recent salvo of fiscal stimulus.   Last week lawmakers passed a budget that will raise spending by $143bn (0.7% of GDP) this year; in December President Donald Trump signed into law tax cuts worth about $280bn in 2019.   America’s budget deficit will probably reach $1trn (5% of GDP) that year.   All this will stimulate an already hot economy.   Unemployment is just 4.1%, and real-time estimates of GDP growth in the first quarter of 2018 are as high as 4%.   The natural question is:   when will inflation take off?   This strangely timed fiscal experiment will reveal the answer.   (Economist Espresso, 2/12)

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 ASIA

China, Maldives: Beijing’s Boats Send a Message to India — China’s increased military presence in the Indian Ocean gives the country more options to respond to the crisis in the Maldives, in addition to challenging New Delhi’s influence in the region.   (Stratfor, 2/16)

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AFRICA

Finally, Mo Ibrahim has found an African president worthy of the $5 million prize the Sudanese billionaire offered to any leader who would step down after losing an election.   The prize goes to Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.   It’s been eleven years since the prize was established.   “Ellen Johnson Sirleaf took the helm of Liberia when it was completely destroyed by civil war and led a process of reconciliation that focused on building a nation and its democratic institution,” said the head of the prize committee.

Liberia’s gross domestic product was only $550 million when Mrs. Sirleaf became president in 2005.   At the end of her tenure in office it had increased to $2.1 billion.   (Wall Street Journal, 2/14)

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COMMENT ON OXFAM CHARITY SCANDAL

Can charities be truly bad?   It seems perverse to say that they are, but the Oxfam abuse scandal has revealed a sinister side to international aid — and about time, too.   In our cover package this week, Harriet Sergeant argues that, in Africa and elsewhere, NGOs often do more harm than good.   Mary Wakefield, meanwhile, who wrote about rapist aid workers in the magazine a fortnight ago, well before the Oxfam story broke, asks why polite society prefers to ignore scandals which relate to organisations that people want to believe are good.   (The Spectator, UK, 2/15)

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THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils — Berlioz

NEW EUROPEAN ORDER TAKING SHAPE

Getty

The French election on Sunday went as expected, with a victory for Emmanuel Macron, a centrist with no real political experience.

A few days before the election, his opponent, the very conservative Marine LePen, said that one week later France would have a female leader, either Ms. LePen or Germany’s Angela Merkel.   As if to prove the point, Mr. Macron’s first promise, to issue joint Eurobonds, was quickly over-ruled by Germany’s leader.   Germans are far more frugal than most other nations – the idea of issuing joint bonds with France is not going to come to fruition.

Macron is a very successful investment banker, with considerable personal wealth.   He is likely to be successful in moving France’s economy forward.   He will certainly be an improvement over his socialist predecessor who is leaving office with a 4% approval rating. But he is not likely to solve France’s immigration problem or the connected problem of domestic terrorism. In fact, he doesn’t even seem to see these two problems.

The movement that brought him to power (En Marche – “On the move”) is only now starting to form a political party, with only a few days before the elections for the French parliament.   It is quite conceivable that Ms. LePen’s National Front could dominate parliament and give M. Macron a hard time.   M. Macron hasn’t started yet, while Ms. LePen certainly isn’t finished.

Macron has also been speaking out against Brexit, describing it as a “crime.”   That shows little respect for British democracy.   A French lawyer is also trying to get Brexit cancelled on the grounds that the referendum was “illegal” – in effect, both men are saying that no matter how bad Europe is, you have to stay in it!   The EU’s dictatorial nature is becoming more and more apparent.

It is also increasingly clear that every nation in Europe has to bow to Berlin.   Note the following:

Macron to hold talks with Merkel in Berlin on first day of new job  Oliver Gee * oliver.gee@thelocal.com , 12 May 2017,  The Local

Emmanuel Macron will head to Berlin on Monday – the day after he is inaugurated as the new president of France – to hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The German leader had welcomed Macron’s win in France, saying he “carries the hopes of millions of French people and also many in Germany and across Europe.”

The 39-year-old had stressed his “common ground” with the German chancellor on economic reform, fiscal discipline and Europe’s future.   The former economy minister had also wanted to strengthen ties with Germany.   The symbolism of Macron meeting Merkel on his first full day as president won’t be lost on the far right Marine Le Pen who had criticized Macron for being pro-EU and said if he won then France will remain under Merkel’s rule.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Thursday underlined common ground with Macron in Germany and France’s bid to bolster the European Union, which has been buffeted by Britain’s decision to quit the bloc.

Schaeuble said both he and Macron are in favor of creating a parliament for the 19-country eurozone.   “A eurozone parliament could be set up, made up of European parliamentarians, which would have consultative powers” for moving forward the European Stability Mechanism (ESM),” Schaeuble said.  (https://www.thelocal.de/20170512/macron-to-meet-merkel-in-berlin-on-first-day-of-new-job)

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Germany’s growing ties to Turkey are highlighted below.   It brings back memories of the alliance between Germany and Turkey forged immediately prior to World War One.   Germany seems to be replacing the US as Turkey’s chief ally – a situation that will receive a further boost now that the US is supplying arms to the Kurds in the war against ISIS.   Turkey has its own problem with the Kurds and does not want them to receive arms.

Germany is negotiating new arms deals with Turkey                    German-Foreign-Policy.com newsletter , 11 May 2017

BERLIN / ANKARA (Own report) – The German government is negotiating new German-Turkish arms deals, as was confirmed by the German Ministry of Economics.   Brigitte Zypries (SPD), Minister of the Economy, spoke with the CEO of Rheinmetall weapons manufacturer about upgrading the Turkish Leopard battle tank.  “In principle,” such deals with NATO partners “can not to be restricted,” according to Berlin.   The German government is also seeking to re-invigorate German-Turkish economic cooperation, to strengthen bilateral relations.  Germany does not want to lose Turkey as a “bridge” connecting Germany and the EU to the Middle East.   Under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Ankara is not only strengthening the country’s economy and, in the long run, making it one of the world’s top ten economies (“Vision 2023”), he is also planning to transform the country into an independent regional power, forming alliances as it chooses – no longer dependent on the western states.

The reorientation of its foreign policy is accompanied by the country’s transformation into a presidential dictatorship.

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AUSTRIAN ELECTION LIKELY

Following the resignation of the OVP party leader from the governing coalition, another election in Austria is likely.   This time, the right wing People’s Party is doing well in the polls, which show they have more than 30% of the population behind them.   The party, like other right-wing parties in Europe, is against Islamization and the arrival of millions of Muslim immigrants.

With the French and Dutch elections, we saw that European countries are out of line with the US and Britain.

We also see the remaining 27 countries of the EU sticking together – it’s increasingly unlikely that any other nations will break away, especially as the EU seems determined to punish the UK for leaving the organization.

Thirdly, a clearer picture is emerging of Berlin’s role as the leader in Europe.

Europe now is a German led super power, with a greater economic role than the US and with the potential to play a much bigger military role.

 

 

 

 

“BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH”

One hundred years ago, on this day, March 15th, the “ides of March,” Czar Nicholas II of Russia, under pressure, abdicated, ending the dynasty that had ruled Russia since 1613.   The end result was not the liberal democracy that many hoped for, but, rather, seventy years of communism, a period far worse than anything under the czars. When the czar abdicated, nobody could have foreseen the ultimate outcome. The czar himself brought attention to the fact that the day was the “ides of March,” the day Julius Caesar was assassinated, changing the course of Roman history, ending the Roman Republic, replacing it with the Roman Empire.   The term became popular through Shakespeare’s famous play, “Julius Cesar.”

Today, March 15th, The Netherlands is voting for a new government. It’s the first time ever that Holland has received this much media attention.   Once again, an uncertain future awaits the country and the European Union; that is, if Geert Wilder’s ‘Party for Freedom’ makes significant gains and goes on to form a government.   Mr. Wilders has been labeled Holland’s Donald Trump.   He’s a populist, who wants to restore his country to what it was, ending the multiculturalism that has fundamentally changed the country.   In addition, he wants to leave the EU.   He also wants to ban the Koran and Islamic schools and has called for the closure of all mosques; and end the wearing of burqas and hijabs, requiring people to wear western style clothing.

The election result is likely to have a profound effect on France and Germany who hold elections later this year.   If a populist government comes to power in the Netherlands, then, maybe populism will see gains in the two biggest European countries, France and Germany.   This could make 2017 as significant a year as 1989 and 1848 in European history.   Change is in the air.   But, as with Russia a century ago, the future of change is unpredictable.   Sweeping populism may sweep away the European Union, but what will replace it?   Will liberal social democracy be replaced by more nationalistic forms of government?   Could a swing to the right in the Netherlands lead to similar swings elsewhere on the continent?   The European Union, which turns 60 in ten days, may have to go back to the drawing board.

It’s not just the election that is making news in Holland.   For over four centuries the Dutch, once a great maritime power, have had a peace treaty with Turkey.   But now, the two NATO members are going through a verbal conflict that could easily get out of hand.   The basic problem is immigration.   Millions of Turks live in Holland, Germany and other EU countries.   The Turkish president wants to send members of his government to speak to these Turkish citizens, so that they will vote for Mr, Erdogan in a referendum that will grant the president more powers.   Naturally, Holland does not want the Turkish election to be conducted in Holland.   Allowing Ankara to do so would expose the lie that Muslims are assimilated and are, in fact, Dutch.   They are not, identifying primarily with their own religion and culture, not with that of the host country.

A Turkish government minister was not allowed to address a rally in Holland.   Consequently, relations have been negatively affected.

The Netherlands isn’t the only European country that’s hitting the headlines internationally.   The United Kingdom is also in the news.

It’s taken nine months for the groundwork to be laid for Britain to activate Article 50 and apply to leave the European Union.   It’s been a rocky road, with members of Britain’s ruling elite doing everything possible to undermine the will of the people, expressed in June’s Brexit vote.    The unelected House of Lords was the final hurdle.

As if invoking Article 50 is not difficult enough, Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National Party picked the same time to demand another referendum.

This time, she believes the Scots will vote to leave the United Kingdom as the majority of Scots voted to remain in the European Union.

In effect, what Ms. Sturgeon wants is to replace English domination with German domination.   Ignorant of history (except possibly watching “Braveheart” over and over again!), Ms. Sturgeon has no problem replacing London with Berlin.

When the UK completes its negotiations with the EU settling Brexit terms, Ms. Sturgeon’s Scotland will have to act quickly and apply to use the euro.  It will also need massive amounts of aid as Scotland has needed English financial support ever since it voted to join the union with England, over three centuries ago.

Scottish loyalists will have to get used to shopping with a new currency  – and won’t even be able to stay home and watch the BBC!