Tag Archives: Russia

DEATH OF QUEEN VICTORIA

No, I’m not late bringing you the news!

Rather, I’ve just read “Last Days of Glory,” by Tony Rennell (published in 2000).

The book answers any questions you might have about the death of Queen Victoria, in January 1901.   To my knowledge, hers was the biggest funeral service in history, befitting a woman who was the “Grandmama of Europe” and the most powerful woman in the world. If she had lived, World War One might have been avoided. The German Kaiser was her grandson and was present at her death and subsequent funeral.   By all accounts, he was on his best behavior and was well received by his Uncle Edward, Victoria’s son and successor, who also died before 1914.

 

She wasn’t England’s greatest monarch (that description belongs to Queen Elizabeth I), but she was by far the most influential, giving her name to an age. The Victorian Era carries connotations to this day.

 

Interestingly, President McKinley ordered the flag atop the White House (then known as the Executive Mansion), to fly at half-staff when he heard the news of her death, the first time this had been done for a foreign leader. He also attended a memorial service for her in Washington DC.

In reading of her life, I was reminded of a scripture in the Book of Proverbs, that “Righteousness exalts a nation” (Prov. 14:34).   Britain was exalted during the Victorian era, above all the other nations on earth.   Her empire was the greatest in history, ruling over one quarter of the peoples on earth.   She had the greatest navy in the world, giving her command of the seas.

Contributory factors were the abolition of slavery (in 1833).   There was a four-year transition period, at the end of which Victoria became Queen.   She was seen as a Liberator throughout her life.   Another contributing factor was her exemplary married life – during her short marriage to Prince Albert, they had nine children and were known to be a very happy couple.   This was in stark contrast to her two predecessors on the throne.

There’s no wonder more cities and towns around the world are named Victoria.   She reigned almost 64 years.   She left behind a country that has, sadly, rejected all the values she held dear.

—————————————————-

BRITISH EMPIRE FACTOID

“On the eve of the Second World War, Britain’s Colonial Empire was made up of 45 territories, 2 million square miles and 50 million inhabitants.   All but 300,000 square miles of the Empire was in tropical Africa, where there were no less than 14 territories, all of them staffed by members of the Colonial Service.” (Introduction, “Tales from the Dark Continent,” edited by Charles Allen, 1979)

________________________________________

TRUMP’S UPSETTING WORDS

When President Trump told four congresswomen to “go back where you came from” and accused them of having anti-American ideas, he had a point.   First and second generation immigrants bring in alien ideas, which can be upsetting.

When I worked for an African government, my wife and I lived quite comfortably on one salary.   When a native African took over, he could not.   The reason is the extended family.   Whereas I only had to support my wife and I, plus our baby daughter, he had 300 members of his extended family to support – brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles.

No wonder the first generation of African leaders asked for bribes to do their jobs, it was the only way they could support all those people.

In Ghana, my wife had a friend from the UK who had married a Ghanaian man.   She used to get very frustrated and angry at all the hangers on, family members who would turn up at all hours of the day and night to ask for money.   Her husband no doubt had to supplement his income in order to survive.

The extended family system is very much a part of African culture.  It is similar to socialism, whereby the guy at the top distributes largesse to everybody according to his will.   As Mrs. Margaret Thatcher put it so well:   “The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other peoples’ money.”   Whether it’s your own money or the tax-payers, eventually the funds will be exhausted.

Far better for each person to take care of himself and his own family. This was the foundation of Anglo-Saxon supremacy,

“If a man doesn’t work, neither should he eat” (II Thess 3:10).   I Timothy 5:8 adds:   “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

But the root of the “squad’s” thinking is the extended family system, correctly described by the president as “an un-American idea.”

With immigration (and even the second and third generation) the idea will grow in numbers, changing America significantly.

———————————————–

WAR WITHOUT END

“For nation (Greek “ethnos” = ethnic group) shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” (Matthew 24:7)

“When he slipped out of consciousness, Batsi Lokana watched the militiamen who had attacked him slice off his mother’s head.   When he came to, her body was gone.  “Either they ate her, or they threw her into the river,” he surmises from his hospital bed in Bunia, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ituri province.   Given Ituri’s history of gore, it is not a far-fetched conclusion.   The past two decades have seen civil war, mass killings, systematic gang rape and a vile scramble for loot.   For some militias, cannibalism is just another way to terrify one’s enemies.

“Last month saw a reprise of the violence, as Ituri’s cattle-herding Hema and seed-sowing Lendu ethnic groups again turned on each other.   Armed men emptied villages, burned down houses, hacked bits off their occupants and ripped the fetus out of at least one woman.   A mass grave found in the village of Tche contained 161 bodies, babies and small children among them.”   (“Ituri’s injuries,” The Economist, July 13th)

———————————————————–

EUROPE ELECTS FIRST FEMALE PRESIDENT

STRASBOURG — The European Parliament on Tuesday elected Ursula von der Leyen as the next president of the European Commission — the first woman to hold the EU’s top executive job.

Von der Leyen, from the center-right European People’s Party, served most recently as German defense minister and is a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel.  She will be the first German to lead the EU in more than a half-century, since Walter Hallstein served from 1958 to 1967.

Von der Leyen won 383 votes in a secret ballot, just slightly above the absolute majority of 374 she required to be elected — and far short of the 422 votes cast in favor of current Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in 2014.   There were 327 votes in opposition, 22 abstentions and one vote declared invalid.  (Politico.eu 7/16)

——————————————————–

“The Fourth Reich:   The Specter of Nazism from World War II to the Present

 Amazon books:

Ever since the collapse of the Third Reich, anxieties have persisted about Nazism’s revival in the form of a Fourth Reich.   Gavriel D. Rosenfeld reveals, for the first time, these postwar nightmares of a future that never happened and explains what they tell us about Western political, intellectual, and cultural life.  He shows how postwar German history might have been very different without the fear of the Fourth Reich as a mobilizing idea to combat the right-wing forces that genuinely threatened the country’s democratic order.   He then explores the universalization of the Fourth Reich by left-wing radicals in the 1960s, its transformation into a source of pop culture entertainment in the 1970s, and its embrace by authoritarian populists and neo-Nazis seeking to attack the European Union since the year 2000.   This is a timely analysis of a concept that is increasingly relevant in an era of surging right-wing politics.

———————————————————-

PLANS FOR THE [German Army] BUNDESWEHR
The relentlessly fighting AfD army
by VON PETER CARSTENS:  Political correspondent in Berlin,          10 July, 2019

The AfD* calls for a “strong military force” with “relentless” soldiers and a leadership role in Europe.    Their plans for the Bundeswehr are reminiscent of old times.  It would create a state in the state.  An analysis.

Some sympathizers of the AFD have come to the party because the Union has failed to take care of traditional conservatives.

They see themselves as patriotic people who love their country, respect the Basic Law and defend it if necessary with the weapon in hand.   This also applies to the Bundeswehr, which was neglected for years.

For a quarter of a century, from the Urals to the Atlantic, central European politics barely saw any territorial threat in the midst of its great peace project, which would have to be met militarily.  There remained peace operations and disaster relief to justify the existence of the Bundeswehr.

But times have changed.   Germany has been investing more in equipment, training and readiness for five years now.   It will, however, take time for the worst deficits to be balanced.   After all, it was possible in the late autumn to bring about 10,000 well-equipped soldiers and their vehicles and everything else for several weeks to Norway for the NATO maneuver “Trident Juncture” [Google machine translation].    (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 10th July)

* The AfD (Alternative for Deutschland) is the right wing opposition party in Germany.)

————————————————————————–

COUNTER-MEASURES TO US SANCTIONS

(Own report) – Berlin and Brussels are weighing countermeasures to the Trump administration’s growing number of extraterritorial sanctions.   The US government is seeking to globally enforce its unilaterally imposed sanctions to bind other countries, including allies, to its foreign policy course.   The sanctions against Iran are the most prominent example.   They also made German business with Iran largely impossible.   Washington first implemented extraterritorial sanctions in the mid-1990s, but finally reached agreement with the EU not to enforce them against European companies.   This was changed during the Obama administration, when it amassed billions in fines from banks in the EU.   The Trump administration has expanded the extraterritorial sanctions to include Russia and Cuba.   Following the failure of the INSTEX financial vehicle, German government advisors are proposing that legal action be taken in US courts.   Now, “asymmetric countermeasures” are also being discussed.   (German Foreign Policy, July 11th)

————————————————————————

UNDOING THE PAST

PRUSSIAN MONARCHY HEIRS SEEK RESTITUTION OF ARTIFACTS FROM GERMAN STATE                                            Hohenzollerns want property and artworks lost after two world wars and Soviet occupation                                                                                        Guardian UK, 12 July 2019

Negotiations have been ongoing “for several years” between the Hohenzollern family, the federal government and the states of Berlin and Brandenburg over the aristocrats’ demand for restitution.  “The talks … are aimed at finding a lasting solution for different art and collection objects, which are valued differently by the public institutions on the one hand and the Hohenzollern House on the other hand,” said the culture ministry in a statement.   According to Der Spiegel, the Hohenzollerns are seeking the restitution of tens of thousands of paintings, sculptures, coins, books and furniture.  Further, they want a right to reside at one of several properties, including Cecilienhof Palace, where Allied powers met after second world war to decide on Germany’s future.

The restitution negotiations were spearheaded by Georg Friedrich Ferdinand, the great-great grandchild of Wilhelm II, the last emperor and king of Prussia, who was deposed and went into exile after Germany’s defeat in the first world war.   The Prussian royals were initially stripped of their properties without compensation after the monarchy was overthrown, but a deal on the monarchy’s assets was later brokered between the state and the Hohenzollerns under a 29 October 1926 law.    However, Soviet occupation following the second world war and the subsequent communist rule in half of Berlin and in the state of Brandenburg led to additional expropriations, further complicating things.

“The negotiations are about legal ambiguities in the agreement, but also with legal positions that have changed as a result of the subsequent historical events, in particular the measures of the Soviet occupying power and the government of the German Democratic Republic,” said the culture ministry.

As a first step, a list of concerned objects has been drawn up that concerns less than 0.1% of the collections in the Prussian Castles and Gardens Foundation in Berlin-Brandenburg, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation and the German Historical Museum.  Nevertheless, a rapid resolution of the talks is unlikely. “At the moment, the positions of the negotiating parties are still very far apart,” said the ministry.

(https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/12/prussian-monarchy-heirs-reclaim-historical-artefacts-from-german-state)

——————————————————-

DUTCH ROYAL FAMILY STEP IN TO SAVE FORMER HOME OF KAISER WILHELM II                                                                                                 Huis Doorn in the Netherlands struggles to attract visitors due to controversial legacy of last German emperor                                        Guardian UK 2018

The Kaiser bought Huis Doorn, his home until his death in June 1941 at the age of 82, from Baroness Ella van Heemstra, the mother of Audrey Hepburn.   Between September 1919 and February 1922, five trains pulling 59 carriages arrived at Zeist station filled with his possessions.

Today those possessions remain largely untouched.  On his deathbed lies a small bunch of snowdrops and a note from his mourning son, Adalbert, who was serving in Hitler’s Wehrmacht when his father died.   Wilhelm’s morning gown hangs in his bedroom, above his fur-trimmed slippers.   A framed postcard from his grandmother, Queen Victoria, takes pride of place.   His cigars sit by an ashtray.

(https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/18/dutch-royal-family-step-in-to-save-former-home-huis-doorn-kaiser-wilhelm-ii)

————————————————————————-

MUSLIMS ADD TO INSECURITY

“The BfV has found that all Islamist organizations active in Germany harbor anti-Semitic ideas and disseminate them in various ways. These ideas represent a considerable challenge for peaceful and tolerant coexistence in Germany.” — Annual report of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, BfV), 2019 (Gatestone, 7/17)

————————————————

Prominent California Islamists Praise Imam’s Call to Exterminate Jews     by Seth Westrop
Islamist Watch, July 9, 2019

While waiting at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel, following a trip to the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, California imam Ahmed Billoo (also known as Ahmed Ibn Aslam), wrote on his private Facebook account that he was “feeling annoyed” about his location.   He offered a prayer to deal with the surfeit of Jews in the building: “Oh God, reduce their numbers, exterminate them, and don’t leave a single one alive.”   He added the hashtag “Zionists.”

Billoo seemed palpably relieved to arrive in Istanbul the next day, writing “So good to be in a Muslim country” and “#TiredofSeeingZionists.”

Billoo is a prominent cleric in California, and part of a prominent Islamist family.

He works as the religious director at the Islamic Center of Cypress, serves as a “professor” at California Islamic University, and is a teacher at the Institute of Knowledge, a seminary that offers religious advice to Muslim students and trains the next generation of imams.   Its faculty includes prominent clerics from the hardline Salafi and Deboandi strains of Islam. (Middle East Forum, July 9th)

(https://www.meforum.org/58906/california-islamists-praise-imams-call-to-exterminate-jews)

Advertisements

ANTI-SEMITISM ON THE INCREASE IN GERMANY AND FRANCE

The premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, says anti-Semitism in his country is increasing from two directions: the far right and Muslim migrants. Police clash with right-wing protesters in Chemnitz, Germany. Credit: AFP

DW news (German news) highlighted the fact that anti-semitic acts in the Federal Republic increased by over 60% last year.   They added that France was worse, with a 70% increase.

At the same time, right-wing parties are expected to make significant gains in the election for the European Parliament, set for May.   It should be emphasized that most people in these parties are simply concerned about immigration.   But this could change.

—————————————————

A FRENCH VIEW ON AMERICA’S RETREAT FROM THE WORLD

“BHL (Bernard Henri Levy) … is a philosopher given to interpreting the world’s maladies.   He is in New York for the publication on Feb 12 of his latest book, elegantly provocative, “The Empire and the Five Kings.”   It describes “the new geopolitical order which is designing itself before our eyes” as a result of “America’s abdication” of global leadership.

“You have America going back,” he says, “retreating and lowering its flag, both on military and ideological terms.”   In Mr. Levy’s thesis,“ five former empires which we all thought to be dead and buried, are waking up again – Russia, China, Turkey, Sunni radical Islamism and Persia  (Iran).   We thought they were pure ghosts but no, they are moving again; they are dancing again on the floor of the world.”  They are rushing unchecked, he says, into the voids left everywhere by the retreat of the West, most notably under Donald Trump.”   (“The French philosopher who loves America,” by Tunku Varadarajan, WSJ, 2/9)

———————————————————

INCREDIBLE SHRINKING EUROPE

“Last week offered fresh evidence that the most consequential historical shift of the last 100 years continues:   the decline of Europe as a force in world affairs.   As Deutsche Bank warned of a German recession, the European Commission cut the 2019 eurozone growth forecast from an already anaemic 1.9 % to1.3 %.   Economic output in the eurozone was lower in 2017 than it was in 2009; over that same period, gross domestic product grew 139% in China, 96% in India, and 34% in the US, according to the World Bank.”   (“Incredible Shrinking Europe”, by Walter Russell Mead, WSJ, 12th February).

__________________________________________

DEJA VU – socialism (again)

“If you’re not a socialist by age 20, you’ve got no heart; if you’re still a socialist by age 40, you’ve got no head.”   So said Winston Churchill.   It explains Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, at 29, very well.   But how do you explain Elizabeth Warren, aged 69?   Or Bernie Sanders, who’s 8 years older!

50 years ago, it was all the rage.   Students across the world wanted socialism, government control of the means of production (and everything else).   It didn’t work.   It made a much bigger mess of the world.   Thirty years later, people realized that instead of government solving the problem, the reality was that government IS the problem!

But now, thanks to young voters, we’re back to socialism being the solution to everything.

This year, a number of socialists are in the US Congress.   And they all have expensive ideas.   Medicare for all; the Green New Deal; a guaranteed job for all; a new system for corporate control; vastly higher taxes.   These are all part of the program.   The cost to the tax-payer would be horrendous.     A guaranteed job for all would make government even more inefficient.

That isn’t to say it won’t happen.

—————————————————-

Democracy in Africa?  What democracy in Africa?

Note from The Editor:   Branko Brkic, Daily Maverick, 20 January 2019

The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Constitutional Court in the early hours of 20 January upheld the victory of Felix Tshisekedi by rejecting appeals by his rival, Martin Fayulu.   Fayulu has rejected the court ruling and called on his supporters to organize non-violent protests.

It is becoming increasingly clear for everyone to see:   Democracy in Africa is an idea to which almost nobody is subscribing.   Once more, another country’s clear majority chose its president, only for the land that was once Mandela’s to accept the clearly fake presidential and parliamentary results, people’s will be damned.   This time, it’s Congo’s turn.   So, why have elections at all?   The polls in Congo have come and gone, another one in the wall of denying the people’s true will.   The “results,” if they could be even considered that, have clearly been cooked.   (Daily Maverick, South Africa, January 2019)

——————————————————–

FIGHTING FOR THE KING IN AMERICA’S FIRST CIVIL WAR

Recently, I’ve read four books on the American Revolution.   All four books were written by Americans — and all four describe the Revolutionary War as “America’s first civil war.”   Indeed it was.

Most of the battles did not involve any British troops.   And for two years after the British defeat at Yorktown, fighting continued between Americans.   The conflict was between American Tories (Loyalists) and American Patriots (Rebels).   In some areas (notably South Carolina) 80% of the citizenry supported the Crown.   In fact, at one point the Patriots were ready to give up on the South as they were solidly loyal.

One thing is clear – the more conservative you are now, the more likely you are to have been a Loyalist!

Out of the war came three nations, the United States, Canada and Sierra Leone.   (The latter was established for slaves freed by the British Army.)   The war was not between America and England. Note the last three paragraphs of “Tories:   Fighting for the King in America’s First Civil War,” by Thomas B Allen:

“Within a year after the war ended, about 100,000 Americans left their homes.   Most of them went to Canada.   The rest chose England, Scotland or British possessions in the West Indies.   Within a generation the new Canadians had spread across the vast British dominion, taking with them the virtues and the visions that they and their ancestors had had as American colonists.   Granted large tracts of land, they transformed a wilderness into a vibrant nation.   Many became prosperous farmers or started mercantile dynasties. “Seldom had a people done so well by losing a war,” a Canadian historian wrote.

“Today, four to six million Canadians – about one fifth of the population – claim a Tory ancestor.   Many Canadians believe that their nation’s traditional devotion to law and civility, the very essence of being a Canadian, traces back to being loyal, as in Loyalist.

“Below the border live the people who started another country, built by Rebels.

Within a generation, those Rebels would begin to forgive – and forget – the Tories.   They would call the Revolution a war between Americans and the British, losing from their collective memory the fact that much of the fighting had been between Americans and Americans.”   (“Tories,” Thomas B. Allen, page 333).

This obscures the fact that the war saw brother fight brother, that neighbors fought each other.   We have seen this twice in our history.  Now, we are dividing again.  Could history repeat itself?

(The other three books are “Redcoats and Partisans,” by Walter Edgar; “Frontier Rebels,” by Patrick Spero; and “Scars of Independence,” by Holger Hoock.)

MALARIA, DEATH AND BABIES

    

We lost another friend this week.  She was 95.  A few days later, on the same day as her funeral, our youngest daughter gave birth to our tenth grandchild.   Grayson Gabriel, weighing in at 8 lbs 13 oz.   Because we are both sick, neither of us has seen him yet. (Diane has a head cold, which she could pass on to the baby.  A hospital is the last place you want to go when you’re sick!)

I’ve got malaria back again.

It often re-occurs at this time of the year when the weather is changing.  It’s also a problem when winter is moving into spring. These two periods of time coincide with the biblical holy days, which makes the problem very inconvenient.

Malaria remains the world’s number one killer.

The World Health Organization states:  “Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria.  In 2015, there were roughly 212 million malaria cases and an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths.”

It is not contagious. You can only get it when you are bitten by an infected mosquito, always, as it happens, a female.  So be sure to check the sex of the mosquito if you get bitten!

I used to have a “Far Side” cartoon I cut out and inserted into my Bible.  It showed one of Noah’s sons asking his father a question: “Should I kill the two mosquitoes now while we’re ahead?” If only . . .

Malaria and I go back forty years.

My wife, Diane, got it first when we moved to Ghana in 1978.  She spent the Feast of Tabernacles that year in a hotel room in Kumasi, very sick with a mysterious sickness, until a doctor identified it. It was our introduction to Africa’s major illness.  It’s not so long since West Africa was described as “the white man’s grave,” as half of all the whites who went there died within two years from the mosquito borne disease.   Modern drugs make it easier to handle now, but it really is best to avoid getting bitten, an impossibility really.   You can’t spend all day under a mosquito net.

A couple of years later, Diane ended up in a hospital in Accra with the same disease.  And I still vividly remember carrying our four-year-old son into a clinic in the nation’s capital, when he was in a really bad way. Even now, I don’t want to think about it.

On one occasion I was in Cameroon when I came down with malaria. I was in bed in a hotel room for days.   A Cameroonian we knew went to find an anti-malarial drug I requested, but the names in French are different.  It was here, too, that I first heard the comment that “when you get malaria, in the first 24 hours, you’re afraid you’re going to die; in the second 24 hours, you’re afraid you’re going to live!” There’s great deal of truth to this!  In that second 24 hours you just WANT to die.

A few years ago, we were in Zimbabwe and spent a few days at Victoria Falls, the most magnificent site in the world.   We took a “sundowner cruise” one evening.  Our tour guide pointed out the hippos (hippopotamus is Greek for “river horse”) and told us that “the hippo is the most dangerous animal in Africa” and added “except for the mosquito.”

Sometime later, I remember staying with friends in Kariba.  I wanted to go for a walk, but could not as I saw a hippo at the end of their driveway!

Almost thirty years after leaving Africa, I can say that I no longer have a fear of hippos; but I still don’t like mosquitoes!   In Michigan, the bigger problem is West Nile virus.  Mosquitoes are a problem everywhere.

I do have a little annoyance over malaria.   A couple of times I’ve had to go to the hospital for a shot.  But they never believe me when I say I have malaria.  They always want to put me through a series of tests, costing one thousand dollars or more.  Then they come and say, “You have malaria.”  “Well, I told you that when I arrived here four hours ago!  All I wanted was a shot of chloroquine.”

I now have a doctor who prescribes me an anti-malarial drug, which I can use anytime.  It saves me a lot of time (and money) in ER.

————————————————————————

DIVERSITY NOT A STRENGTH

Pat Buchanan has written an excellent article showing how diversity does not work anywhere else in the world, so why do we expect it to work here in the United States?

His article was inspired by Tucker Carlson who asked the same question on his TV show last week.

“Ethnic diversity, after all, tore apart our mighty Cold War rival, splintering the Soviet Union into 15 nations, three of which — Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia — have since split further along ethnic lines.

Russia had to fight two wars to hold onto Chechnya and prevent the diverse peoples of the North Caucasus from splitting off on ethnic grounds, as Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan had done.

Ethnic diversity then shattered Yugoslavia into seven separate nations.

And even as we proclaim diversity to be our greatest strength, nations everywhere are recoiling from it.” (“The Unpardonable heresy of Tucker Carlson,” PJB, 9/13).

Mr. Buchanan continues:  “The rise of populism and nationalism across Europe is a reaction to the new diversity represented by the Arab, Asian and African millions who have lately come, and the tens of millions desperate to enter.”

He points out that Japan has not encouraged diversity and does not have the ethnic conflicts that are afflicting other western nations.

Israel has passed a law that enshrines Jewish identity into the state itself; while China is taking active measures against Muslims in the country. Burma did the same and has been condemned for it.

Cleary, diversity doesn’t work and we will come to see that more clearly in the years ahead.

When Jesus Christ was asked by His disciples what would be the signs of His coming,   He replied: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:7).   The word “nation” is from the Greek “ethnos” and refers to ethnic groups; a kingdom is a political entity.

Expect more ethnic conflict in the coming years, including western nations.

—————————————————————–

A GAY THOMAS?

THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE’ INTRODUCES INCLUSIVE GENDER-BALANCED, MULTICULTURAL CHARACTERS IN MAJOR REVAMP OF CHILDREN’S CLASSIC

–headline in Huffington Post 9/1/18

FAMILY REUNIONS

We had all nine grandchildren in the house last week, Monday through Friday.   Hence, the lack of a blog post a week ago.   Visits to the grocery store were frequent, as was taking them places.   There was no time to write, or even watch the news.

After our mini-family reunion, I really hope they will want to see each other after my wife and I are no longer around to host the gathering.   I’m sure they will!

I was struck (again) by how much louder the five younger ones, all boys, were, than their four older female sisters and cousins.   Noise, noise, noise!   Can’t boys do anything quietly?   Clearly not.

I found myself walking through the daily debris silently reminding myself that “children are a blessing!”  They certainly are and I’m already looking forward to when we can all be together again.

————————————————-

THEN AND NOW

When everybody was gone, I started reading Boris Johnson’s “The Churchill Factor:   How one man made history.”

You may have heard of Boris Johnson.   He’s sometimes been described as “Britain’s Donald Trump.”   On his recent visit to England, Trump expressed the opinion that Boris would make “a great prime minister.”   A poll earlier this week showed him to be the favorite to succeed Theresa May.   Donald Trump and Boris Johnson have known each other for some time and are good friends.

Boris served two terms as a very successful Mayor of London.   More recently, he was Britain’s Foreign Secretary, the equivalent of Secretary of State.

He resigned a few weeks ago over Brexit.   His objection, supported by many, is that Mrs. May, the Prime Minister, seems to want to compromise with the European Union.   This would not deliver the Brexit (total independence) from the EU that was promised after the referendum over two years ago.   There is still no agreement between the UK and the EU over future trade.   Boris Johnson’s point is that the United Kingdom doesn’t need one – that new trade deals can be signed after breaking away from Brussels.   Have faith – it will all work out.

I must admit to sympathy with his stance.   Get out quick.   Don’t hesitate.

His book on Churchill was written a few years ago and published in 2014.   I’m now reading chapter 17 (there are 23 chapters).   The chapter is titled “The Wooing of America” and details Churchill’s relationship with Franklin Roosevelt.   His single-minded mission was to bring the United States into the war against Hitler.   At their first wartime meeting, the two leaders were concerned that Hitler had recently invaded Russia.   But Churchill knew that after Russia, he would come after Britain; and that if Britain fell and Hitler sank the Royal Navy, America would be next.   The whole world would very quickly descend into the barbarism of fascism.

A lot was at stake when they met in Newfoundland on August 10th, 1941.   This was the handshake that was to change the history of the twentieth century.

“As he stretches out that elegant white hand he knows he is reaching for his only lifeline; and yet there is nothing about him to convey the gloom of his position.   On the contrary, his face is suddenly wreathed in smiles, babyish, irresistible.

“Roosevelt smiles back; they grip hands, for ages, each reluctant to be the first to let go, and for the next two days Churchill maintains his schmoozathon.   We don’t know exactly what they say to each other at the first such Atlantic conference — the direct ancestor of NATO; but we know that Churchill lays it on thick.   His mission is to build up a sense of common destiny; to work with the grain of Roosevelt’s natural instincts, and to turn the USA from distant sympathizers into full-blown allies in bloodshed.” (page 235)

This was a family reunion, only the second time a President of the United States had shaken the hand of a British prime minister in office.   160 years after Yorktown.   160 years after the United States had separated itself from the rest of the English speaking world.   Now the two branches of the Anglo-Saxon world (the two sons of Joseph) were to be united in a common purpose.  They met in Canada, the oldest Dominion of the  British Empire, a nation founded by Loyalists at the end of the Revolutionary War.  The alliance that was forming  has remained the foundation of global peace and order for 77 years.

As I read Johnson’s book, I could see parallels with today.   There’s no fighting this time (not yet, anyway), but once again Britain is trying to free itself from European despotism, as it has so often in history.   There are those, like the current prime minister, who want to compromise; but others, like Boris Johnson, who are in a Churchillian mood, wanting to raise two fingers to the German-dominated EU (the two fingers were “V for Victory” in WWII, but, reversed, they have another meaning in England, which you will have to Google!)

History may repeat itself.

Confidence in Mrs. May is waning.  The Opposition Labour Party is scandalizing Britain with its anti-semitism.   The smaller parties are not credible.   An internal coup in the Conservative Party could replace Mrs. May with Boris Johnson, just as Chamberlain was replaced with Winston Churchill.

There’s another analogy.

Mr. Trump repeated a commitment to Mrs. May that the US will offer a free trade deal to the United Kingdom when Britain leaves the EU.   (EU rules mean that no deal can be signed until D-Day on 29th March next year; D for Departure!)    American farmers, losing markets in the current trade dispute with the EU, will benefit from a new trade deal with the UK; Britain will benefit with plentiful supplies of cheap food.

Once again, the New World may come to the aid of the Old.

Once again, a family reunion could make a big difference in the world.

There’s another lesson from Churchill’s meeting with FDR.   After the historic meeting of president and prime minister, there was a “divine service” on the Sunday morning.   Sailors of the two nations sang hymns together – “chosen by Churchill – that express that single heritage:   two broadly Protestant nations bound together against a vile and above all a pagan regime.”   (pages 235-6)

This was just a few weeks after the National Day of Prayer called by King George VI during Dunkirk.

At such a critical time, today’s leaders should follow the example of their predecessors and ask God for divine help through a very challenging time.

——————————————————

BEWARE OF CHINESE TIES

Britain is keen for a sweet deal with China after Brexit – but watch out for Beijing’s ‘debt-trap diplomacy’, says Michael Auslin.   For decades we’ve heard dire warnings about China’s growing military power, but these doom-mongers have missed the point.   China isn’t on the war path.   Where old empires would start by invading, it starts by trading.   Only when an economy has become dependent on trade does Beijing begin to demand more, with the aim of creating an ever-expanding ‘Greater China’ in its near abroad.   (Freddy Gray, The Spectator, 8/2)

——————————————————————————–

FARMERS IN CRISIS

There’s increasing talk of land redistribution in South Africa, the wealthiest nation on the African continent.   It’s been almost a quarter of a century since the end of apartheid, a period in which few black South Africans have seen any benefits.   A wealthy elite has been created through corruption at the highest level, but little has been done to help the average person.

Neighboring Zimbabwe confiscated land from white farmers at the turn of this century.   The result was mass starvation, the collapse of the currency and economic chaos.

The European farmers who colonized southern Africa in the nineteenth century brought a great deal of development to the region.   Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) was the ‘breadbasket of Africa;” now, after almost forty years of independence, it’s the “basket case of Africa.”   The white farmers who once dominated Rhodesia were “commercial farmers,” similar to their American and Canadian counter-parts. African farmers are “subsistence” farmers, who just grow enough food for their own families.   This is a major cultural difference the world does not understand.   Confiscating white farmland can only have one consequence – a dramatic drop in food production (Zimbabwe saw a 90% drop, with a consequent famine).

Farmers in South Africa are being murdered at an alarming rate.   Many have chosen to leave the country.   Western Australia is one area that is attracting them.   Other parts of Africa are offering the farmers 99-year leases to boost their own agricultural production. Even Russia is encouraging them to relocate.

Other farmers from Europe moved to North America, Australia and New Zealand in the nineteenth century.   These commercial farmers produce a disproportionate percentage of the world’s food.   Higher tariffs on agricultural produce could affect this, along with changes in the weather and massive fires that seem to be a permanent fixture of our landscape.   All of these threaten today’s farmers.

—————————————————–

AFRICAN ELECTION

Zimbabwe’s woes never seem to end.   The “first free election” held at the weekend, has been followed by riots and violence as the losing party claims to have won.   It’s not possible to determine who really won, but after 38 years, ZANU-PF is still in power.   Most people will not be surprised.

Prior to Zimbabwe, Rhodesia had elections for decades without any violence.   Zimbabwe has not been able to achieve that.   As is the case elsewhere in Africa, tribalism and corruption have led to democracy being compromised.   Zimbabwe’s first leader, Robert Mugabe, was in power for almost 38 years, leading a very corrupt regime.

It’s doubtful there will be any significant change.

 

THREE SUMMITS COULD LEAD TO SIGNIFICANT CHANGES

The G7 met today in Quebec; on Tuesday Mr. Trump meets with the North Korean leader; a month from now, the NATO summit will be held in Brussels.   Lots of frequent flyer miles and hotel rewards points for members of the Trump Administration.   But significant changes could also result from all three.   The following are thoughts on each of the summits.

It’s only a month until the next NATO summit in Brussels. President Trump will be there along with Canadian and European leaders.   Mr. Trump has fired the first shots in a trade war with American allies. It’s going to be a big test for the alliance, which turns 70 next year.

Many Americans feel that the US has not had a fair deal on trade.   They also feel that European countries have sponged off America by letting the US pick up the tab for the defense of Europe.

What is often not appreciated is that it is the alliances with 53 countries around the globe that makes the US the world’s number one superpower.   If all the countries the US is allied to suddenly ended their alliance, the United States would be greatly diminished as a global power.   The escalating trade war could easily take the world in this direction.   It’s also forgotten that NATO members came to America’s aid after 9-11, the only time Clause IV of the NATO treaty has been invoked.   The US needs Europe just as much as Europe needs America.

If Mr. Trump goes to NATO headquarters lecturing the Europeans, the alliance could suffer irreparable damage.

It’s true that not every European country contributes the required 2% of GNP to defense costs.   It is also true that some countries have huge trade imbalances with the US.   These need to be dealt with, but for the US to remain the #1 superpower at the head of alliances with 53 nations, disputes need to be handled carefully.

____________________________________________________

QUEBEC SUMMIT

While the US is focused on Tuesday’s summit between President Trump and the North Korean leader, both the NATO summit and today’s G7 summit in Quebec, are of potentially greater significance.

For 44 years, this annual meeting of the seven most powerful democracies in the world, has helped keep the planet on an even keel.   Clearly, President Trump doesn’t have much time for the group, both literally (he’s leaving early) and figuratively.   The US leader will not be present for the discussion on trade.

The US has made it clear it wants Russia back in the group, though its economy does not warrant it and it’s hardly a democracy; also, it’s still occupying parts of the Ukraine, the reason it was thrown out of the G8 a few years ago.

Coming up, in a month, is the NATO summit in Brussels.   The trade dispute could affect the future of the 70-year-old alliance, which has arguably kept the peace for the western world since 1949.

If NATO should fall apart, a major realignment of nations will take place.   The end result could see the United States greatly diminished as a global power.

—————————————————————

SINGAPORE SUMMIT — THE MOUSE THAT ROARED

One month before the NATO summit, there’s another summit in Singapore, between the US and North Korea.

North Korea is not a major player on the world stage.   It’s economy is infinitesimally small.

The only reason to take any notice of the country is that it may have nuclear weapons.

A secondary reason is that the US has 28,000 troops based in South Korea.   An end to hostilities with the North could free up most of these troops to return home or be sent elsewhere.

The whole scenario reminds me of an old Peter Sellers movie, “The Mouse that roared,”   The movie is 60 years old, but well worth watching it if you get the opportunity.

It tells the fictional story of the fictional Duchy of Grand Fenwick. The “country” is broke, but the prime minister comes up with a solution to their financial problems.   Declare war on the United States!   Every country that has done so in recent times ends up receiving a great deal of US financial aid and private investment, solving all its financial problems.

Things did not go according to plan.  Grand Fenwick’s soldiers captured a nuclear device, forcing the US to surrender to avoid its own destruction.

I wonder if the North Korean dictator saw the movie recently on TCM?

——————————————————————————-

UK CUT OFF FROM EUROPEAN DEFENSE

“BRITAIN may have saved Europe from herself in two world wars in the 20th century but today Brussels politicians effectively said the UK had no place in the future defense of the continent and prepared to KICK OUT key military staff. EU chiefs have told UK military staff that they will not have their secondments to Brussels automatically renewed after Brexit – effectively sticking two fingers up to British overtures towards a common and collaborative military and defense solution for Europe.”   So began an article in today’s British Daily Express.

With Britain leaving the European Union a few months from now, it’s becoming clear that other countries in the 27- member Union do not want Britain involved in European defense.   The British had hoped that defense ties would continue, and that the UK would play an important role in the new European Defense Force.

We can see clearly the possibility that the two main Anglo-Saxon powers (the US and the UK) could soon be separated from the rest of the western world. 

It’s also the case that, right now, they are not getting along very well with each other.   Mrs. May is dismayed that President Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal; and also at Trump’s tariff’s on the Europeans.

It’s also the case that the separation of the Anglo-Saxon nations fits very well into prophesied end-time events.

———————————————————————————

From Deutsche Welle

Opinion:   The US is fueling European divisions

The new US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, has jumped directly into European politics and ignited a scandal. Outrage at this unprecedented behavior is the wrong answer, writes Deutsche Welle Editor-in-Chief, Ines Pohl. / 4 June 2018

Germany is outraged.   Only hours after right-wing media outlet Breitbart released an interview with the new US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, some are calling for his expulsion.   In it, the Donald Trump appointee expressed his desire to empower conservative, anti-establishment movements in Europe.   Many of his talking points would have roused applause from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party:   the passages referencing a silent majority, the welfare of the average worker, as well as those criticizing Germany’s current refugee policies and describing an out of touch political elite.   It isn’t the first time that Grenell has so explicitly waded into internal German affairs.   Shortly following his appointment, he demanded that German businesses halt trade with Tehran in reaction to the trans-Atlantic dispute over the Iran nuclear deal.

. . . Grenell, like his boss, is exploiting fears to advance his agenda.  He is putting pressure on the weaknesses of the European system to advance a new order — one that weakens European unity primarily to benefit the United States.

It is unheard of that an ambassador would so explicitly interfere with the internal affairs of his host country . . . 

(http://www.dw.com/en/opinion-the-us-is-fueling-european-divisions/a-44071929)

—————————————————————————–

IS ISLAM INHERENTLY VIOLENT?

Does Islam’s canon foment jihadi violence?   Yes.   Islam is premised on (1) the superiority of Islam, (2) the need to spread its message, and (3) the legitimacy of force to do so.   These fundamentals of faith have been apparent from Muhammad’s time to the present, though not everywhere and not at all times.

(Islamism’s war on the West, Daniel Pipes interview, 6/5) (Mr. Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum, an historian, writer and commentator.)

————————————————————————

ROYAL WEDDING PROMPTS QUESTION

The following comment was posted on my blog after the recent royal wedding.

“I keep waiting for some minister to condemn Prince Harry’s wedding as adultery. Isn’t that what Jesus would call it, based on Matthew 5:32?”

“whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. … and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” 

My response: In 1936 King Edward VIII chose to give up the throne so that he could marry an American divorcee. He could not marry her and remain as King.  Over eighty years later, Prince Harry was allowed to marry Meghan Markle.   The reason for the different decision is that the Church of England, of which the Queen is titular head, changed its position on divorce 15 years ago.   The change also enabled Prince Charles to marry Camilla Parker-Bowles, who was a divorcee.   The position of the Church of England is not dissimilar to the CoGs’ – basically, you can repent of (almost) anything, including a bad marriage.

———————————————————————————

Ethiopia–5 June 2018

Crocodile kills pastor as he baptizes followers on lake in Ethiopia

Reptile reportedly leapt from the water and grabbed Pastor Docho Eshete as he moved on to the second person in a mass baptism of 80 followers.

“He baptized the first person and he passed on to another one,” local resident Ketema Kairo told the BBC.

“All of a sudden, a crocodile jumped out of the lake and grabbed the pastor.”

The crocodile is understood to have escaped.  Lake Abaya, Ethiopia’s second largest lake, is said to be beautiful, but the Lonely Planet travel guide warns:   “It has a large population of crocodiles, which are said to be aggressive towards people and animals because the lake has few fish, their preferred food.”

It is likely that the reptile that killed Pastor Docho was a Nile crocodile.  Some Nile crocodiles can grow to be up to six meters (20ft) long while weighing as much as 1,000kg (1 ton), and some estimates suggest the species is responsible for more than 300 attacks on humans in Africa every year.

(https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/crocodile-kills-pastor-ethiopia-baptism-lake-abaya-docho-eshete-arba-minch-fatal-croc-attack-nile-a8384531.html)

————————————————————————–

Please note: Recently, a comment posted on my blog questioned the president’s mental state, by using a derogatory and offensive term.

Please remember this is a Christian blog.   Intelligent comments and debate are always welcome, but we should keep in mind the following scriptures:

I Peter 2:17 “Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”

Additionally, II Peter 2:10 speaks of those who “despise government” and “are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries.”  

AMERICA’S FIRST CIVIL WAR

The Battle of King’s Mountain, North Carolina. Picture courtesy of North Carolina Office of Archives and History.

Idealism has played a role in American interventions.  Misguided idealism.   It goes back over two centuries to the country’s revolution against Britain.

This is the subject of a new book by Holger Hoock of the University of Pittsburgh, called “Scars of Independence,” the best book I’ve ever read on the revolution.

Mr. Hoock shows that the war was very much “America’s first civil war,” with Loyalists and Patriots doing most of the fighting.  (After the “final” Battle of Yorktown, there were over 200 battles and skirmishes between those loyal to the Crown and those in revolt. None of these involved British troops.)   Loyalists were denied the opportunity to return to their former properties (and families) after the war, by local revolutionary committees – this enabled the “victors” to distort historical accounts of exactly what happened. But those accounts are still there.   Mr. Hoock quotes from newspaper and other accounts at the time, of atrocities committed by both sides. Neither side looks good by the end of the book.

He also shows how America’s mis-interpretation of the Revolutionary War affects us today.

Because America’s leaders see the war for independence as a revolt by simple farmers against a mighty tyrant king of England, they see analogies with leaders like Saddam Hussein.   Overthrow him and you can introduce democracy, which will solve all the country’s problems.   This was a prominent idea at the time of the invasion. The reality is that a democratic election in Iraq has caused many problems.   The repercussions never seem to end.   As with every other military adventure in the Middle East, the quicksand just keeps sucking us further in!

The reality of our history is that the thirteen original colonies were democracies before the revolution.   Each colony had its own representative assembly.   The political system of each colony evolved from England whose parliament was founded in 1265.   That’s a long history of democracy.

This is important to understand and appreciate.   Because the common mythology believes that it took a revolution to introduce democracy in America, our foreign policy keeps trying to do the same thing over and over again.  

We fail to understand that democracy is unlikely to be successfully introduced in some nations for cultural reasons.   America’s democracy evolved over centuries in the mother country; it cannot suddenly be imposed on most alien cultures.

POST-WAR DELUSIONS

Post-war America kept pushing for the dissolution of the European empires.   Country after country was given independence.  Most of them have not been very successful democracies; in many, the people are worse off than they were under colonialism and the people have less freedom.   These are reasons why millions are trying to reach North America, Europe and Australia.   But, again, Americans see independence as a solution to all problems, based on their own misinterpretation of history.

“It was the Suez crisis of 1956 which first sounded the alarm, and brought those of us associated with Britain and the Empire face to face with the hard reality that Britain could no longer call the tune on the international stage.   The United States was now in the driving seat, constantly propagating the philosophy that colonialism was inherently bad and that the pace of its elimination had to be stepped up.

“The Americans joined forces with the Russians in this anti-colonialist campaign, albeit for opposing reasons.   The Russian plan was for world conquest, the take-over by Marxism-Leninism.  As the metropolitan powers pulled out of their empires, the Russian plan was to move in.  The Americans, on the other hand, believed that the presence of the colonial powers was denying them the opportunity to develop in these areas the expertise, skills and economic success of their free enterprise system.   Sadly, they seriously misjudged the situation.

“First, the Russian plan was organized and well laid . . . As everybody knows only too well, in the fields of espionage and propaganda, the Marxists-Leninists are world beaters . . . Once they control a country, the free enterprise system goes out the window – and that is exactly what happened in every case.

“The second point, which should have been obvious to the USA, was that wherever Western colonialism was the vogue and the free enterprise system thriving, with American skills, capital and equipment everywhere – big mining and industrial development, motor cars, heavy transport, earth-moving equipment – all doors were open to everybody, including the Americans.   But once the Russians moved in, everyone else was frozen out.   So the result turned out to be contrary to the United States’ expectations. However, there is no way of correcting these mistakes, we have to live with them.   This is easy for the Americans: they live 10,000 kilometers away and can go on living their own lives.   The problem lies with the people on the spot, who have to go on living with the disaster forced onto them.”   (Bitter Harvest, Ian Smith, Rhodesian Prime Minister, 2008, pg 34)

AMERICAN REVOLUTION

It’s also the case that, denying the Revolutionary War was, in fact, a civil war, we overlook the case for the Loyalists.   Those that remained loyal to the Crown were, ironically, the equivalent of today’s Republicans.   They called the Patriots “the sons of anarchy.” fearing that a republic, a country without a king, would be like the English Republic of the previous century.   When King Charles I was executed in 1649, parliament was supreme for a while, but was soon replaced by a military dictatorship under Oliver Cromwell.   The king had always been seen as the guarantor of freedom – without him, it was likely there would be a breakdown of law and order.

There were also concerns that America would be cut off from other colonies around the world.   Together, they all constituted an Empire of the English speaking peoples, that had built up the best trading system in the world.   Tens of thousands, maybe more, wanted to maintain that trading empire because their livelihood depended on it. It was also an empire built on basic freedoms, of enterprise, political thought, the press and religion; and the rule of law.

“There are good reasons why Americans portray their revolution and war for independence as an uplifting, heroic tale, as the triumph of high-minded ideals in the face of imperial overreach, as a unified and unifying nation-building struggle to deliver a free and independent United States.   But, in doing so, they risk neglecting its divisive and violent strands.  To understand the Revolution and the war – the very birth of the nation – we must write the violence, in all its forms, back into the story.” (“Scars of Independence,” Holger Hoock, 2017, page 12.)

It’s not just foreign policy that has been affected.   Mr. Hoock shows that the basic divisions of the “first civil war” continue to this day, as do the means of achieving an end.   The Patriots tried to silence the Loyalists, by smashing their printing presses, tarring and feathering them, even hanging them.   Today, we see a frightening liberal-fascism that tries to silence any voices that oppose their aims.   It’s the same intolerance.

I remember a few years ago listening to an interesting segment on NPR.   It was an interview with a Canadian politician who was asked to explain the difference between the Canadian and American political systems.   I will always remember his answer (paraphrased): “In Canada, on any issue, we begin with the four parties stating their respective positions.  We then discuss and discuss until we finally reach a compromise.   In the US, there are two sides.   Both argue their case and then head for the barricades.”   Sadly, there is a lot of truth to that.

We have a culture of intolerance, which is causing irreparable division.  In Mr. Hoock’s opinion, it all goes back over two centuries to the Revolutionary War.   Incidentally, that war made the “second civil war” inevitable.

Although many Loyalists left the new republic to live in other colonies, many also remained with their families in the US.   They remain in our midst even now.   The post-World War II Secretary of State, Dean Acheson came from a Loyalist family.

“Dean Acheson was born in Connecticut into the Anglophile East Coast establishment.   His father was a Canadian-born Episcopalian bishop and the family always celebrated the King’s birthday.” (“Picking Up The Reins”, Norman Moss, 2008, pg 65).

“Scars of Independence” should be read by all Americans.   The writer’s basic premise is that the country’s violent birth still affects us negatively.   Before we make any more mistakes, we ought to be honest about our origins.

From a Biblical perspective, there is also something to think about. Most Christians would say that the US is not mentioned in the Bible. It certainly does not seem to be mentioned in end-time prophecies. However, other Christians believe that the United States is modern Manasseh, the half-tribe of Israel, descended from Joseph.   Manasseh broke away from the “multitude of nations” that was the Empire.  (Genesis 48)

Manasseh’s name means “causing to forget.”   “And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house.” (Genesis 41:51)

Forgetting has been America’s history from Day One.