Tag Archives: Russia

WHEN A CROCODILE EATS THE SUN

“When a Crocodile Eats The Sun” is one of the best books I’ve ever read.   I read it some years ago when I was making regular visits to Zimbabwe, the subject of the book by Peter Godwin.   Mr. Godwin was born and raised in Rhodesia as it was before 1980.   At the time of writing the book he was living in New York City and visiting Zimbabwe twice a year to see his elderly parents.  During this time his father was dying and eventually did die.

The title of the book comes from an old Shona proverb.   The Shona are the dominant tribe in Zimbabwe.  They believe that an eclipse of the sun is actually a crocodile eating the sun.  It is a warning of a coming calamity.

The eclipse was on June 21st, 2001.   In the following years, Zimbabwe’s economy collapsed, millions of people starved to death and the country was plunged into chaos.  This all followed President Robert Mugabe’s decision to confiscate white-owned farms.   Food production fell by an estimated 90%.

In Rhodesian days, the country was the breadbasket of Africa; it now became an economic basket-case.   In one chapter his mother and a group of friends shared one tomato between them.  In a later chapter, he related the challenges he faced to cremate his father – the famine, together with AIDS, had overwhelmed the country’s funeral systems.

Those in the West who still think it makes no difference which ethnic group dominates a country, should study what happened to Rhodesia-Zimbabwe.

This does not mean that every nation that witnesses an eclipse of the sun will go through something similar.   But the eclipse seen by Americans last week reminded me of the book – and the consequences that followed the eclipse of the sun.

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DISASTER IN TEXAS

Just as some saw the eclipse as a sign of impending doom, so others feel the same way about the disaster in Texas.

If any problems follow the heavy rainfall in Texas, they are likely to be economic.   The US is already over $20 trillion in debt, money which has to be paid back at some point.   The Federal Government is offering Texas billions of dollars in assistance.   Private debt in the country is at an all-time high.   Student debt is a bubble waiting to burst.   And the only way to rebuild Texas is by borrowing more money.

You would think the world’s richest country would have “a rainy day fund” (no pun intended) but, in fact, we have so much debt, more disasters could easily break us.

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RECOMMITMENT TO AFGHANISTAN

A further financial burden that could break the United States is the war in Afghanistan.   After promising to pull the US out of America’s longest ever war, President Trump is now recommitting to the fight.   His military advisers think the US can win, where no previous foreign presence ever has.   We should remember that it was Afghanistan that broke the Soviet Union, both financially and militarily.   The US has a bad case of “imperial hubris” if we think it can’t happen here.   Afghanistan is not known as “the graveyard of empires” for nothing.

A few months ago I wrote that President Trump had made his biggest mistake, calling for Germany to spend billions more on its military.   History shows that decision could be fatal for Germany’s neighbors and others.   The decision to increase the military in Afghanistan could turn out to be Trump’s second biggest mistake.

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INTERNATIONAL COMPLICATION

KABUL/BERLIN/WASHINGTON  – In light of the new buildup of US troops in Afghanistan, experts are warning of a new proxy war between NATO and Russia at the Hindu Kush.   As observers unanimously explain, Russia has been able to expand its influence in Afghanistan significantly over the past few years. Moreover, the dismal results of NATO’s nearly 16 years of war have seriously damaged the West’s reputation in that country.   Moscow can now take advantage of this situation and enhance its prestige, according to reports.   A former top US intelligence official considers that Russian President Vladimir Putin sees Afghanistan as “one more hot spot, to exercise his influence” and depict Moscow “as the problem solver and peacemaker.”

If NATO and Russia ally with divergent forces at the Hindu Kush, it
could develop into another proxy war, as in Syria.   (German Foreign Policy 8/24)

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THE ENEMY WITHIN

August 24, 2017National

The Muslim Brotherhood has penetrated every one of our national security agencies, including our intelligence agencies, according to retired Navy admiral James “Ace” Lyons, former commander of the U.S. Pacific fleet…

Meanwhile, Judicial Watch recently obtained documents revealing that the FBI under director Robert Mueller purged hundreds of pages of training curricula related to Islamic terrorism at the behest of Muslim Brotherhood front groups who were unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation case….

(http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2017/08/national_security_coverups_missteps_and_miscalculations.html)

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MORE ENEMIES WITHIN

“Antifa” is a contraction of the words “anti” and “fascist.”   It’s a new word that will soon enter our dictionary.   It’s very misleading. People who identify with “Antifa” are not fighting fascism – they are, rather, trying to stop conservatives expressing any opinion different from their own.   Their opposition to freedom of speech shows that they are the fascists!

Note the following headline from the liberal-fascist New York Times: “Antifa grows as left wing faction set to literally fight the far right.” (8/17)   Just as you will never see a conservative editorial in the NYT, their readers will not allow conservative opinions to be expressed by anybody anywhere.

SKYFALL

Sky News in the UK is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who also owns Fox News in the US.   Sky has just decided not to relay segments from Fox, described variously as “right wing” and “extreme.”

Does anybody ever describe CNN as “left wing” and “extreme?”  It most assuredly is!

Reminds me of Isaiah 5:20:

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

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RUSSIA CALLING SHOTS IN MIDEAST

RUSSIA, NOT THE U.S., IS NOW CALLING THE SHOTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST WITH IRAN AND IRAQ                                                             By Tom O’Connor, 3 Aug 2017

Russia’s deputy foreign minister met Wednesday with leading diplomats from Iran and Iraq to discuss combating Islamist extremist groups and the future of Syria.

With the U.S. minimizing efforts to topple the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Iraq expressing weariness of the U.S.’s extended presence in its country, Russia has become an increasingly important power broker in the region. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov met in Moscow with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Jaberi Ansari and Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Nazar Khairallah to emphasize the “principled position of the three countries” on Syria.   All three expressed support for Assad in a lengthy war pitting his armed forces against jihadists and opposition groups, according to Syria’s pro-government Al-Watan newspaper and Iran’s semi-official Tasnim News Agency.  …Russia, Iran, Iraq and Syria maintain a joint intelligence sharing operation known as the 4+1, which includes the Iran-backed, Shiite Muslim militant group Hezbollah of Lebanon.   In addition to Russia’s involvement with these countries, it has reportedly established relationships with Egypt and Libyan military leader Khalifa Haftar in an effort to extend its sphere of influence in the Middle East and the Mediterranean.

(http://www.newsweek.com/russia-not-us-calling-shots-middle-east-iran-iraq-646052)

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GERMAN MUSLIM BIKER GANGS

German Muslims have established a self-styled biker gang — modeled on the Hells Angels — aimed at protecting fellow Muslims from the “ever-growing hatred of Islam,” according to Die Welt.

The emergence of the group, which aspires to open chapters in cities and towns across Germany, has alarmed German authorities, who have warned against the growing threat of vigilantism in the country.

Muslim vigilantes enforcing Islamic justice have become increasingly common in Germany.   The government’s inability or unwillingness to stop them has led to the rise of anti-Muslim counter-vigilantes. Germany’s BfV intelligence agency, in its latest annual report, warned that an escalating action-reaction cycle could result in open warfare on German streets.   (Gatestone Institute, 7/31/2017)

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A failed asylum seeker from Yemen who was given sanctuary at a church in northern Germany to prevent him from being deported has potentially infected more than 50 German children with a highly contagious strain of tuberculosis.

The man, who was sheltered at a church in Bünsdorf between January and May 2017, was in frequent contact with the children, some as young as three, who were attending a day care center at the facility.   He was admitted to a hospital in Rendsburg in June and subsequently diagnosed with tuberculosis — a disease which only recently has reentered the German consciousness.   (G.I. 7/14)

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SWEDEN — BECOMING A “FAILED STATE”

  • The Swedish state, in true Orwellian style, fights those Swedish citizens who point out the obvious problems that migrants are causing.
  • When police officer Peter Springare said in February that migrants were committing a disproportionate amount of crime in the suburbs, he was investigated for “inciting racial hatred.”
  • Currently, a 70-year-old Swedish pensioner is being prosecuted for “hate speech,” for writing on Facebook that migrants “set fire to cars, and urinate and defecate on the streets.”
  • The security situation in Sweden is now so critical that the national police chief, Dan Eliasson, has asked the public for help; the police are unable to solve the problems on their own.   In June, the Swedish police released a new report, “Utsatta områden 2017,” (“Vulnerable Areas 2017,” commonly known as “no-go zones” or lawless areas).   It shows that the 55 no-go zones of a year ago are now 61.
  • In September 2016, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and Minister of Interior Anders Ygeman refused to see the warnings: in 2015, only 14% of all crimes in Sweden were solved, and in 2016, 80% of police officers were allegedly considering quitting the force. Both ministers refused to call it a crisis.    (G.I. 7/21)

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ROYAL COUPLE URGED TO LIMIT SIZE OF FAMILY

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are parents to Prince George and Princess Charlotte and speculation has been rife the proud parents could have another baby.

But the royal couple has been told they should not have any more children in a letter written by ‘Having Kids,’ an organization that promotes smaller families.

Citing environmental reasons like climate change, economic equality and the distribution of ‘resources,’ the open letter urges Prince William and Kate to “consider forgoing having a third child… in favor of modeling a smaller, sustainable family.”  (Daily Express, 7/30)

Comment:  The white birthrate in the countries of the Anglosphere is so low that, within decades, ethnic Anglo-Saxons and Celts will be a minority in their own countries.   If Prince William and his wife decide not to have any more children, it will encourage others to do the same.    This will only speed up the alien takeover of the Anglosphere, as the peoples of Asia, Africa and the Middle East will continue to have big families, exporting the surplus to countries of the Anglosphere (the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the US).

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TERROR ATTACKS FOILED IN AUSTRALIA

This week, two terror attacks by Islamists were foiled in Australia, including an attempt to blow up a plane.

“AUSTRALIA would have experienced 15 terror attacks including public beheadings on home soil over the past three years if most plots in their advanced stages hadn’t been foiled, according to police.

The terror attacks police were unable to prevent include the Lindt Cafe siege in Sydney in which manager Tori Johnson and mother-of-three Katrina Dawson lost their lives; the killing of police accountant Curtis Cheng by 15-year-old schoolboy Farhad Khalil Mohammed Jabar in Parramatta and the non-fatal stabbing of Wayne Greenhalgh in Minto last year.   In Victoria, Numan Haider, 18, attacked two police officers with a knife outside the Endeavour Hills police station before being shot dead in September 2014.

Among the alleged “imminent” terror plots foiled by police in the last two years were advanced plans to kidnap members of the public in Sydney and Brisbane then behead them on camera and release the footage; detonate bombs at a Mother’s Day running event; stab and shoot police and members of the public at Anzac Day ceremonies; and target government buildings including the Garden Island Navy base and Parramatta Court House.” (Megan Palin, news.com.au July 31st)

Islamic terrorism would not be a threat if the government of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam had not changed immigration law in the early 1970’s.   Note the following from Wikipedia:

“Soon after Australia became a federation, it passed the Immigration Restriction Act of 1901.  The passage of this bill is considered the commencement of the White Australia Policy as Australian government policy.   Subsequent acts further strengthened the policy up to the start of the Second World War.   These policies effectively allowed for British migrants to be preferred over all others through the first four decades of the 20th century.   During the Second World War, Prime Minister John Curtin reinforced the policy, saying, “This country shall remain forever the home of the descendants of those people who came here in peace in order to establish in the South Seas an outpost of the British race.”

The policy was dismantled in stages by successive governments after the conclusion of the Second World War, with the encouragement of first non-British, non-white immigration, allowing for a large multi-ethnic post-war program of immigration. The Menzies and Holt Governments effectively dismantled the policies between 1949 and 1966 and the Whitlam Government passed laws to ensure that race would be totally disregarded as a component for immigration to Australia in 1973. In 1975, the Whitlam Government passed the Racial Discrimination Act, which made racially based selection criteria unlawful. In the decades since, Australia has maintained large-scale multi-ethnic immigration.   Australia’s current Migration Program allows people from any country to apply to migrate to Australia, regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, culture, religion, or language, provided that they meet the criteria set out in law.  (“White Australia Policy,” Wikipedia).

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100 YEARS AFTER PASSCHENDAELE, WE’VE LEARNED NOTHING

“We remember it not only for the rain that fell, the mud that weighed down the living and swallowed the dead, but also for the courage and bravery of the men who fought here.’

The Prince of Wales was in good voice on Monday at the centenary commemorations of the battle of Passchendaele — more properly, ‘Third Ypres,’   It was a pity he couldn’t say that we should remember it not only for the incompetence of the high command, but because the majority of the British troops were at best only half-trained.

One of the enduring myths about war is that armies can be raised quickly.   They can’t, because armed conflict is the most complex human interaction known.   A soldier’s skill is nine parts judgment.   It takes time to acquire — as true today as it was 100 years ago, perhaps even more so.   Yet we’re about to make the same mistake as we did before 1914:   thinking we can influence events without putting boots on the ground and shrinking the army to a token force. The view in much of Whitehall seems to be that intervention leads only to entanglement — and that intervention by land forces leads only to bloodier entanglement.

(Allan Mallinson, (Why can’t we learn? Wars can’t be won without trained troops.” The Spectator, UK, 4th August)

COMMENT:   The British Army is now down to 80,000 troops, the lowest in over two centuries.  If another conflict arose comparable to 1914 and 1939, the United Kingdom would not be ready.

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ATHEISM DROPS DRAMATICALLY IN RUSSIA

by Dale Hurd, 07-27-2017

The number of Russians who call themselves atheists has fallen by 50 percent in only three years, according to a new poll.

The independent Levada Research Center conducted the survey in late June.

It showed that Russian atheists and those who describe themselves as “absolutely irreligious,” dropped from 26 percent in 2014 to 13 percent in 2017.

Religious believers now make up 86 percent of the Russian population and 44 percent say they are “quite religious,” but that number included Islam and eastern religions.

The poll found that the Russian Orthodox Church remains the major denomination by far in Russia, with 9 out of 10 respondents saying they view the Orthodox church with “respect and benevolence.”

74 percent of Russians view the Roman Catholic church with “respect and benevolence,” 61 percent hold a favorable view of Protestantism, followed by 59 percent for Islam and 56 percent who said they respect Judaism.  (CBN)

TRADE WAR AHEAD?

 

Brussels is preparing to retaliate against the US if Washington pushes ahead with far-reaching new sanctions on Russia that hit European companies.   The White House indicated on Sunday that President Donald Trump would accept legislation that would punish Russia for interfering in the 2016 election.   This is despite Mr. Trump questioning assertions about Moscow’s involvement for months — and as Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort were scheduled to appear before Senate committees this week  (FT, 7/24)

“The assessment is that the Bill responds primarily to the US domestic political situation and that its harmful consequences are probably unintentional yet serious,” says the note.  (Brussels Briefing, 7/24)

Brussels is examining all options in its arsenal to do battle with its supposed ally, as the US inches closer to ripping up friendships and partnerships with its unilateral action on Russia.  Anger has reverberated through the continent as the US looks poised to rubber stamp a deal on sanctions against their Cold War foe.

The EU and US look set to clash over the draft sanction laws, which target Russian energy, financial, railways, the shipping and mining sectors.

Republicans and Democrats thrashed out the deal over the weekend, and The House of Representatives will vote on the bill on Tuesday.   (Juncker “set to retaliate in days,” Daily Express, 7/24)

Honeymoon over Emmanuel Macron’s approval rating has fallen 10 percentage points to 54 per cent, the second-biggest decline for a French president so soon after election.   French voters were either confused by plans for the tax system, shocked by a dispute with the head of the army or unsettled by upcoming labour laws reform. (Bloomberg 7/24)

  • More than 60 Islamic leaders and imams — from France, Belgium, Britain, Tunisia, and of different Islamic faiths — in a move that may be unprecedented, are touring Europe to denounce Islamic terrorism and to pay homage to the victims of terror in Europe by visiting many of the sites of terror attacks.
  • The idea seems to have shaken extremists to the core.   They have been sending these imams death threats.
  • It is therefore high time, as mankind faces a crucial turning point, that people will pull together and support any voices of peace such as those of the marching imams, and restrain any hands that would try to sabotage their noble mission.   (“Hero Imams,” GT 7/24)

REFLECTIONS

gift-return

USA Today disclosed last week that the average family home in the US has 71 toys.   71?!?    I can only remember having two when I was a child — a farm set and a train set.   Admittedly, both had multiple pieces.   But 71?

Actually, I can believe it.   I always seem to be stepping on toys when I walk through our home.   Even at our daughter’s in Indianapolis, the living room floor is the favored spot for dumping toys.  My wife always said that toys were things to drag from the bedroom and dump on the living room carpet, and then the kids go out and play with a stick.

It wasn’t like this in Africa.   Most children there had no toys, unless a family member had made one from a used car tire or an old cardboard box.

When we first moved to the US, I was fascinated by how different American children are from African children; not for the better, I might add.  Too many American kids say bad things back to their parents and are more materialistic when it comes to getting things (toys and candy, mostly).

Part of the problem is television programs and commercials.   Children put incredible pressure on parents to buy them everything they’ve seen on TV and advertisers know this.   Credit cards enable parents to buy – few in Africa have CC’s.   One other factor I think all parents should think about – how many buy toys out of guilt?  With very little time to devote to children, parents over-compensate by buying lots of things.

I think their offspring would prefer time with Mom and Dad.  We didn’t have lots of things growing up, but our mother was always there, thankfully.

One other thing we should be concerned about is not to encourage materialism or greed in our children and grandchildren.  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “ (Matthew 6:19-21).

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It’s no surprise that Jimmy Fallon and Meryl Streep criticized President-elect Donald Trump Sunday night at the Golden Globes.

Fallon even commented that the Globes are now the only place in America where the “popular vote” counts.  Really?   I wasn’t asked to vote on the best movies of 2016.

The theater was full, as usual.  Many of those seated threatened to leave the United States if Trump won the election.   Canada seemed the preferred destination.  But they were there at the Globes.  Presumably they flew back for the evening!!!   Or, perhaps, upon reflection, when they saw how much they would have to pay in taxes in Canada, they decided to stay in the United States.

These people are unreal.  (Well, they are actors, after all.)  They rake in the millions or hundreds of millions and spend more money on face-lifts and breast enhancements than Donald Trump will ever spend on the military.  Their gowns alone cost more than the GNP’s of many countries.

Meryl Streep is a good actress.  So are some of the others in the audience.  They should stick to acting and stay out of politics, before millions of their fans turn away from them in disgust.

There was also an element of hypocrisy when Meryl Streep, commenting on Donald Trump, warned that violence begets more violence.  Hollywood has arguably done more to promote violence than Donald Trump or any other president could possibly do.

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alixs-kids

Diane and I have just been down to Indianapolis to see our eldest daughter, Alix, her husband, Mike, and their four children.  It was an enjoyable and relaxing few days.

I was able to take our two granddaughters, Alyssa and Elena, to tour President Benjamin Harrison’s home in downtown Indianapolis.   It was well worth the time and money to tour the historic house.   I am pleased to say that both girls asked intelligent and perceptive questions.

President Harrison was the 23rd President of the United States, in office from 1889 to 1893.   He replaced Grover Cleveland and was succeeded by the same man, a Democrat.   Harrison was a prime example of Churchill’s later dictum:  “If you’re not a socialist (liberal) at 20 you’ve got no heart; if you’re still a socialist at 30, you’ve got no head.”  He started out as a Whig but later became a Republican.

Historians do not rate his presidency very highly, but it’s interesting to note that he was facing the same issues that confront President-elect Trump today.   He raised tariffs on imports to help reduce the federal deficit and built up the navy which had been neglected since the Civil War.  (Interestingly, the day we toured the home, a website revealed that, for the first time in decades, there were no US naval vessels on patrol anywhere in the world.)

President Harrison is remembered as the grandson of President William Henry Harrison, who was president for exactly one month. He gave a very long speech at his Inaugural in 1841, caught a cold which developed into pneumonia, and died.   The two Harrisons are the only grandfather-grandson presidents in US history.

The second president also saw six states enter the Union during his four-year term, a record number under any chief executive.

It was sobering to note that the three-story home had no indoor plumbing!

It was an interesting visit and I recommend it if you are ever in Indianapolis.

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On a different day I took the twins to McDonald’s for an ice cream sundae, followed by a visit to Meijer, a huge grocery store that also sells toys.  (The twins would probably describe it as a toy store that also sells groceries!)

When ordering ice cream for them, I asked for a hot tea for myself.   The man taking the order responded with “Excuse me?”  I repeated my request.  He said he had never heard of it!  (seriously!)   So I asked for the manager and, again, repeated my request for a hot tea.   He had at least heard of it.   I added a request that the bag be put in the cup before the water as it tastes so much better that way.   My order came five minutes later – a styrofoam cup with luke-warm water and a separate tea bag!

I’m pleased to say that Tim Horton’s is moving south – they have now reached Ft Wayne.  I think I will stay away from Indianapolis until they move the extra 120 miles!  At least the Canadian franchise makes decent tea – just stay away from the donuts.

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There was an interesting paragraph Monday morning from an Israeli paper:

“Religious Jews are more excited about Messiah’s return than Christians are,” Markell told WND.   “Muslims are more anticipatory about their Mahdi’s return than are Christians about Jesus’s return. This shows the deplorable state of the church today that is ‘majoring in minors.’   They have their finance seminars and marriage conferences but have shoved the idea of the Lord’s imminent return not just to the back burner, perhaps to the back yard.”   (WND)

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AIRPORT ATTACK

The latest terrorist attack at Fort Lauderdale’s airport is disturbing.  It highlights the danger that ISIS is spreading beyond Islam to non-Muslims.  The perpetrator of Friday’s attack was an American born Hispanic.   If ISIS spreads its influence to hispanics and other minorities in America, attacks like this will only become more common.

A Palestinian drove a truck into a group of soldiers in Jerusalem on Sunday, killing four and injuring dozens.   These truck (or lorry) attacks in France, Germany and Israel are also spreading.

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NEW YEAR, 1917

We were with Alix and Mike over the New Year’s weekend.   Mike came across a quote, supposedly from Russia’s last Czar, Nicholas II, who wrote on the last day of 1916, in the middle of World War I:   “1916 was cursed. The new year will surely be better.”   Those who know Russian history will be aware that the Czar abdicated in February of 1917, the country was plunged into civil war before the year ended and the royal family were all slaughtered.   The “quote” was tweeted by Gary Kasparov, the famous Russian chess player who now lives in the United States.   Whether it’s true or not, it should make us think!

BINGE WATCHING RECOMMENDATIONS

war-and-peace

Diane and I spent Saturday night and too much of Sunday afternoon watching “War and Peace”, the BBC adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s 1869 novel that has been described as the greatest novel ever written.

It’s set during the period of the Napoleonic Wars, concentrating on the years between 1805 and 1812 when France turned its attentions to Russia, arguably Napoleon’s biggest mistake.

It isn’t just about the military and endless battles.   There’s the usual romantic entanglements that make a good novel, which keep you enthralled until the end.

The television series lasts eight hours.  According to a website I checked, it takes 32 hours and 40 minutes for the average person to read the book.   So you can save yourselves almost 25 hours by watching the series, even if you do feel guilty about “wasting” a Sunday afternoon binge watching.

Warning:  once you start, you won’t want to stop!!!

(It’s even led to me starting to read the 3 volume set that has been on my bookshelf for fifty years.)

NETFLIX:  THE CROWN

the-crown

We also binge-watched “The Crown” over Thanksgiving when our eldest daughter, her husband and children were with us.  This is the most expensive online production ever, showing on Netflix.  They reportedly spent over 100 million pounds on it (approx. $125 million).  As it’s the first of four seasons, they will be spending a good $500 million before it’s over.   One newspaper said that Netflix is hoping to bury cable with this and other upcoming productions.

“The Crown” tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II, from her marriage to Prince Philip in 1947, up till the present time.  As flashbacks go back to the Abdication in 1936, it effectively covers her life from the moment she learned she would become Queen when her uncle abdicated, until the present day.   The first series ends in 1955, when Sir Winston Churchill resigned as Prime Minister.    Coincidentally, with the recent deaths of the King of Thailand and Fidel Castro, she is now the only political figure who was around in the 1950’s.

Although many of the conversations that take place in the series are pure conjecture, the production is remarkably accurate in its portrayal of the 1940’s and 50’s and its attention to detail.   The deep spiritual and historical meaning of the coronation is brilliantly conveyed to audiences that are unfamiliar with the biblical significance of the ceremony, which has its origins in the coronation of Israel’s King Solomon and his anointing by Zadok, the priest.

Politically, the series will help people to understand constitutional monarchy.   43 countries around the world are monarchies, not all of them constitutional.   Queen Elizabeth II is Head of State of 16 of those countries.  Each country chose to remain a constitutional monarchy at the time of independence.

All four of us recommend the series and look forward to the following three seasons.

Footnotes:  In one scene Prince Philip says something negative about visiting Australia; in a later episode, he is asked to go there alone for the opening of the Olympic Games in 1956 and, again, expresses a complaint.  I question the series’ interpretation of events here.   Mark Steyn, a Canadian of decidedly conservative views who now lives in New Hampshire, wrote an article some years ago about a dinner he had with others at Buckingham Palace, where he was hosted by the Queen and Prince Philip.  In the article he recounted a private conversation with the Prince in which they both compared and discussed the Canadian and Australian constitutions.   It didn’t seem as if the Prince was not interested in the two countries.  The trips were undoubtedly a challenge as they went by sea and were away from their children for months at a time.    This fact is alluded to in the later episode.

Personal footnote:  Our son was helping his eldest daughter, Paris, prepping her for a test on Canada the following day in her fifth grade exam.   One question was “What kind of government does Canada have?”  Kurt told her Canada is a constitutional monarchy.  It turned out to be the wrong answer.  What the teacher wanted was:  “Canada has its own government.”   Even teachers don’t seem to understand “constitutional monarchy,” which has a very good track record of preserving democracy.

ANTENNA

the-hollow-crown

A third series we’ve started binge-watching (well, every Sunday evening for a couple of hours) is “The Hollow Crown,” adaptations of Shakespeare’s historical plays.  The series is showing in the Sunday night “Masterpiece Theater” slot on PBS.  It stars some of the world’s greatest actors. Somehow, we missed the first series, which we’ve now requested through our public library system.   But we’ve started the second series, which begins in 1422 with the death of Henry V and the ascension to power of his son, Henry VI.   Actually, it was not that simple – the new king was only nine months old, the youngest monarch in English history.  In view of his age, there had to be a regency – and that was the start of his problems.   Out of this came the War of the Roses, a civil war that lasted over thirty years.

SERIOUSLY

“Britain’s oldest manufacturing firm put its business up for sale.  Based in East London, Whitechapel Bell Foundry was established in 1570 and cast the original Liberty Bell in Philadelphia as well as Big Ben and bells for St Paul’s Cathedral.  Fewer churches mean fewer orders for large bells.  But the success of “Downton Abbey” has wrought a new market:  for handbells to ring for tea.”  (The Economist, December 10th.)

 

EUROPE CHANGES WHILE US PRE-OCCUPIED

British Prime Minister Theresa May, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, U.S. President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet at the German Chancellery in Berlin, Germany November 18, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
British Prime Minister Theresa May,  Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, U.S. President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet at the German Chancellery in Berlin, Germany November 18, 2016.       REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

When newspapers around the world reported that the Archduke Franz Ferdinand had been assassinated in Sarajevo, nobody would have thought it would lead to the First World War, the worst war in history.  The subsequent war started in the Balkans, a part of Europe that frequently saw conflict; it didn’t seem anything to worry about.

25 years later, another world war followed on from the first, again started in Europe.

You would think that, consequently, the world would want to know what’s happening in Europe!   But the mention of Europe is likely to see wide-mouthed yawns in an audience – Europe is a continent of the past, not the future; a quaint place to visit but of no relevance.

However, Europe is a continent that is unraveling as old rivalries rise to the surface.   The end result could be a Europe that is very different from what we see now.

What we are witnessing is the return of nationalism, the root cause of both world wars.   Right now, we are in the dark, just as the world was the morning after the Archduke’s assassination.   Another seemingly insignificant event could lead directly to global conflict, just as the assassination did over a century ago.

After six decades of the European Union and its predecessor, Europeans are turning against the idea of “an ever closer union.” Now, they want to put their own country first.   It started in the United Kingdom with the Brexit vote.   Outside of Europe, the Americans voted earlier this month to put “America First.”   Austrians seem likely to elect their “far right” candidate to the presidency on December 4th.   If he wins, he has promised to dissolve parliament and to hold a vote on whether or not the country should stay in the EU.   A referendum in Italy on the same day could also have a profound effect on other countries in Europe.

However, the biggest two upcoming elections will be in France in May and Germany four months later.

France just had its primaries for the center-right party, resulting in the selection of Francois Fillon as their presidential candidate. He will run against the leader of the Socialist Party.   It’s not likely that their candidate will be the current socialist president, Francois Hollande, as his approval rating is down to only 4%.   A third party candidate, Marine LePen, of the National Front, could beat the two establishment figures.   Ms. LePen is against both the EU and immigration, two popular positions that could give her victory.

Elections next year in France and Germany may see a continuation of the trend toward nationalist parties.

Brexit has already led continental Europeans to move ahead with a European Army, independent of NATO.   This has been talked about for some time, amid growing concerns about Russia and Islamic terrorism.   Donald Trump’s victory in the US led, hours later, to a German call to quickly move forward – without Britain this is now possible.   It’s also the case that, until the UK actually exits the EU, it will have to help pay for the combined military force.

Europe and America differ on Russia, even more so now that Trump will be president.   Note the following from The Orange County Register, November 25th.

“Russian and American interests in Europe do not align.   Although both powers do share the general goal of preventing Islamic terror networks from spiraling out of control, Russia’s tacit support for some acts of terrorism, through its close relationship with state sponsors of militant jihad, is well known.   The truth is that Putin’s regime wants instability in Europe, by hook or by crook, so as to replace U.S. dominance on the continent.” (“High-stake Russian relations”)

The editorial continues:   “And the reality is that Putin is well on his way to getting it.   NATO allies like Turkey, Bulgaria and Hungary have joined in a clear pendulum swing away from Western liberalism.   At the same time, reactionary parties on the ascent aim to shake off the political bonds economically forged by the international institutions that give the US its influential stake in European affairs.   Few in Europe wish to become satellites of Moscow.   But few realize that, absent a robust American role in Europe, there is no European force powerful enough to keep its patchwork of small states from slipping into Russia’s shadow.

“Were the US capable of defending a persuasive liberal agenda abroad, friendlier European relations toward Russia wouldn’t necessarily be cause for such profound alarm.   But today, America’s leadership – like public opinion – is divided and unsure about just how much support free trade and international agreements deserve. Without clarity and confidence, even a little resurgence in traditionally pro-Russian sentiment in Europe could trigger a stampede away from the kind of American influence that has helped build and maintain security and order on the continent for generations.

“Is that a price America’s pro-Russian right and left are willing to bear?   Whatever Trump’s actual preference around Russian relations may be, he is well advised to take into account the answer to that question.   Nothing can ruin a presidential legacy like losing Europe.” (The last sentence was italicized by myself for emphasis.)

Five days earlier, another editorial in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette addressed European issues:

“President Obama spent Thursday and part of Friday in Germany, underlining the importance of the relationship with Chancellor Angela Merkel and, particularly, their personal rapport.   With Obama’s imminent disappearance from the world stage, the transition to a Donald Trump administration is creating international disquiet, as world leaders prepare for the unknown.   The German chancellor is arguably the most important figure of stability in international politics . . .   They met in Berlin, increasingly the capital of Europe, although Brussels still hosts the headquarters of both the European Union and NATO, British Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Francois Hollande and Spanish Prime Minister Maariano Rajoy all traveled to Berlin for their farewell-as-president meeting with Obama.”

Continuing:   “Germany is the economic and, thus, probably, the political center of Europe, an ironic epilogue to its loss of two major wars in the last century.”  (“Obama’s last key European stop.”  Italics mine)

Put these two articles together and what you have is this:

Europe is increasingly likely to break away from America; and Germany is the leader of Europe.

But . . . not yet!

The Economist magazine’s Charlemagne column adds that Germany and its Chancellor Angela Merkel “are still too hesitant to be able to lead the free world” (“Iron Waffler,” Charlemagne, November 19th):

“Now, after an election campaign in which Mr. Trump trashed immigrants, vowed to rewrite trade deals and threatened to withdraw America’s security guarantee, the West’s indispensable nation appears to have dispensed with itself.   Desperate for a candidate to accept the mantle of leader of the free world, some alighted on Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor.”

Yet Mrs. Merkel’s options are limited.   “We are protected by our terrible history,” says Joschka Fisher, a former foreign minister.   “You cannot say, ‘Make Germany Great Again’.”

Times are changing – and further changes are likely as a result of Donald Trump’s victory in the US.   “The Westbindung (Western integration), a staple of German foreign policy since Adenauer, is fraying as extremist parties on the left and right cozy up to Russia.”

Konrad Adenauer was Germany’s first chancellor after the formation of the Federal Republic in 1949, four years after Adolf Hitler.   Germany’s foreign policy since then has been firmly rooted in both NATO and the EU.   Extremist parties in the country threaten this and could destroy this policy after next year’s election.

“Germany’s stake in the global liberal order is immense.  Its export-led economic model relies on robust international trade; its political identity is inexorably linked to a strong EU; its westward orientation assumes a friendly and engaged America.   All of these things may now be in jeopardy, and Germany would suffer more than most from their demise.   But do not look to Mrs. Merkel to save them, for she cannot do so alone.”

A different chancellor, a stronger chancellor, perhaps with more extremist views of either left or right, could make a huge difference in the 2017 general election.

It’s very difficult to predict what will happen in the next twelve months in Germany or other European nations, but the continent is going through a peaceful turmoil that could see radical changes in the months ahead.

The biblical books of Daniel and Revelation both wrote of the Roman Empire and successive attempts to revive the empire down through the ages.  In 1922 Mussolini proclaimed a revived Roman Empire; in 1957, the Treaty of Rome was signed to lay the groundwork for another attempt at European Union.   A final group of European nations will soon come together, with Germany as its leader.   Bible students have expected this for years — now the world’s media sees Berlin as the new European capital and Germany as the driving force behind the world’s biggest single economic grouping.

 

Does any reader have 60,000 frequent flyer miles they are not likely to use?  I would like to go over to Europe to research and write on developments on the continent.

CATCHING UP

Five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, with bloodied face, sits with his sister inside an ambulance after they were rescued following an airstrike in the rebel-held al-Qaterji neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria August 17, 2016. Picture taken August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Mahmoud Rslan
Five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, with bloodied face, sits with his sister inside an ambulance after they were rescued following an airstrike in the rebel-held al-Qaterji neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria August 17, 2016. Picture taken August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Mahmoud Rslan

Our lives are dominated by medical concerns at the moment.

I’ve just been in the hospital again, this time with vomiting, dehydration, high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation.   I drink more water than most people I know, but seem to have trouble retaining it.   I’ve started supplementing my diet with a natural substance full of electrolytes.   Together with prayer and moderate exercise, I hope this will keep me out of the hospital.

Of far greater concern is our ninth grandchild, who turns three months on August 24th.   He has saggital craniolsinostenosis and is scheduled for surgery on November 4th.   His name is Hayden.   Your prayers for him are greatly appreciated.

A longer-term problem remains with his eldest brother, Aubren, who is autistic.   He will be attending a new school after Labor Day, which is supposed to have a good program for autism.   He attended a school last year that helped him considerably, but we are now in a different school district.   Autistic children do not generally adjust well.   Again, we ask for your prayers.

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At the same time, do not forget to pray:  “Thy Kingdom come.” (Matthew 6:10)   72 hours ago a photo of a five-year-old boy in Aleppo went around the world and showed the continued suffering of children in Syria, in a war without end.   Similar photos were taken of children during the Blitz in World War II.   Some of those children were evacuated to rural areas for their own safety.   Now, the pressure is on to evacuate the children to other countries.   Surely western nations can secure a war-free zone near Aleppo that would provide safety to all children, while greater pressure is applied on Russia to end the war.   The latest news is that the boy’s older brother has died from his injuries.

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An Orthodox Jew was attacked Friday morning in Strasbourg, France, by a man shouting “Allahu Akhbar!”   The police say there was no link with terrorism.   I suppose they mean there was no perceived link with Islamic State.   What they should be looking for is a link with Islam.   If that were the standard to judge attacks by, the general public would be better informed of the dangers from radical Islam.   Almost all terror attacks are perpetrated by Muslims – whether they are affiliated with ISIS or not is a side issue.

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With so many attacks in France, Marine LePen is now the favorite to win the French presidential election next year.   As Hillary Rodham Clinton is leading polls in the US, 2017 could see all four major western countries (Britain, France, Germany and the US) led by women.   That would be a definite first!   I should add that, beyond their gender, they have little in common.

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Donald Trump was in town on Friday.   Dimondale, to be exact, just one suburb away from where we live.   My son, Kurt, and I had two tickets.  Trump’s speech was postponed from 2 till 5pm due to an urgent visit to Louisiana to deliver relief to flood victims, while the president was playing golf and Mrs. Clinton was “resting.”   We arrived at the building three hours before the rally.   The lines were unbelievably long.   Lots of enthusiastic people, almost all white, waiting in line to enter.   Kurt thought, correctly, that I would not be able to handle the line, so after looking around we returned home and I watched the speech on television.   It was widely thought to be the best speech he had ever given.   Even his detractors agreed on that point.

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Meanwhile, even the pro-Clinton Boston Globe has called on the Democratic presidential candidate to close down the Clinton Foundation, a “charity” that has helped make the Clintons very wealthy people.   A spokesperson for the Foundation has said that if Mrs. Clinton wins in November, they will stop accepting foreign donations.   It’s a clear conflict of interest and one of the reasons people question her ethics.

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If Trump wins, it could mean the end of the western alliances that have helped give us peace for 70 years, coinciding with America’s supremacy as the global superpower.   Mr. Trump has been critical of the fact that some allies are not doing enough.  That’s a fair point, but overlooks the fact that the alliances are what give America it’s leadership role.   If NATO is disbanded, the US president will no longer be “the Leader of the Free world.”

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Having said that, if Mrs. Clinton wins the election, promising more of the same, the country is well on the way to national bankruptcy.

Either way, America’s period of global domination is coming to an end.   In February 2017, just after the new president takes office, it will be exactly 70 years since the first perception that Washington had replaced London as the main center of global power.   Seventy years.   That’s how long the first superpower, Babylon, stayed at the top.  (“When seventy years are completed….” Jeremiah 29:10).   All great powers eventually burn out – America will be no different. America replaced the British Empire.   Who will replace America?