Tag Archives: St. Paul’s Cathedral

AMERICA CHANGING HANDS

A protester carries an Antifascist Action flag at a rally following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, in Boston, Massachusetts, US, May 31, 2020. (Reuters)

The Lessons of History

Empires rise and empires fall.  They usually don’t end with a bang. They end with a whimper.  Revolts become revolutions when those sent by the authorities to put them down instead join the revolt. Is that what we’re beginning to see as police and National Guard troops kneel in submission before BLM and ANTIFA?  Many who railed against those who kneeled for the playing of our national anthem now kneel before those who showed their contempt for America.  Are the reins of power about to slip from the limp hands of the descendants of the Minutemen, the Grand Army of the Republic, and all the heroes who won the wars and enforced the peace?  Are the cultural, financial, social, and political structures we’ve known all our lives about to be upended?   (Dr. Robert R. Owens, Canada free press, 7/5/2020)

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FRANCE AND GERMANY DIFFER

Serious conflicts between Berlin and Paris over foreign policy overshadow the beginning of the German EU Presidency.   French President Emmanuel Macron’s ongoing endeavors to cooperate more closely with Russia are being met with resentment in the German capital.  During a recent two-hour long video conference with his Russian counterpart. he agreed to soon visit Moscow.  In fact, the German government lays claim to leadership in determining the EU’s policy toward Russia.  There is also the conflict between France and Turkey, which had considerably escalated after a Turkish naval vessel carried out radar targeting of a French frigate in June. Paris therefore withdrew from a NATO operation and is demanding tougher EU sanctions being imposed on Ankara.  This runs counter to Berlin’s intention to seek the kind of cooperation with Turkey that can safeguard the refugee pact and serve its own geostrategic interests.  The dispute could escalate next week when the EU foreign ministers meet.  (German Foreign Policy, 7/6/2020)

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ILHAN OMAR CALLS FOR DISMANTLING US

In the most recent brazen ideological attack on the country that took her in from a war zone, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar called for the “dismantling” of the U.S. economic and political system.

Those who feared the Islamist threat to undermine the United States would come via “creeping sharia” can put that worry to rest. The threat is coming from a Marxist alliance, which includes the Far Left and its social justice rage mob paired with movements attaching itself to the George Floyd murder.

Of course, this political millieu is giving Islamists fertile ground to further destabilize and sow chaos in the American landscape.

In a press conference yesterday called by the Minnesota People of Color and Indigenous caucus, Omar said that the push for change can’t stop with criminal justice or policing reform.  “We are fighting to tear down systems of oppression that exist in housing, in education, in health care, in employment, in the air we breathe,” said Omar.

It’s a nod to dismantling the American system of government — the same government that gave Omar shelter as a refugee.  Notably, Omar’s statements also systematically called out the disparities between “white families” and black families, making her speech not just about oppression, but about white privilege as well.  (Clarion Project, 7/8/2020)

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CHURCHES SPREAD VIRUS

The virus has infiltrated Sunday sermons, meetings of ministers and Christian youth camps in Colorado and Missouri.  It has struck churches that reopened cautiously with face masks and social distancing in the pews, as well as some that defied lockdowns and refused to heed new limits on numbers of worshipers.

Pastors and their families have tested positive, as have church ushers, front-door greeters and hundreds of churchgoers.  In Texas, about 50 people contracted the virus after a pastor told congregants they could once again hug one another.  In Florida, a teenage girl died last month after attending a youth party at her church.

More than 650 coronavirus cases have been linked to nearly 40 churches and religious events across the United States since the beginning of the pandemic, with many of them erupting over the last month as Americans resumed their pre-pandemic activities, according to a New York Times database.    (NY Times, 7/8/2020)

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PLOT TO BLOW UP ST. PAUL’S

An unrepentant Muslim convert who was on course to become the UK’s first female homegrown suicide bomber has been jailed for a minimum of 14 years for plotting a terror attack at St Paul’s Cathedral.

But it is only good news for now, since Western leaders continue in their willful ignorance about jihad; jihadis go to jail and return to society unchanged or even more hardened in their violent beliefs than they were before.  Jihadis use the prison system to spread their messages of jihad and Islamic supremacy.   Anywhere they go, they view themselves as committed servants of Allah on the mission to expand and conquer, as per Islamic teachings.   British prisons are now grounds for radicalization; Muslim prison gangs have even been caught beating prisoners who won’t convert to Islam.  Female jihadis are no different from their male counterparts, although they are often presented in the media as victims.  The reality is that they victimize as much as the men do, and if they have children, they train them to be hardcore jihad fighters.  (Jihad Watch, 7/5/2020)

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The Implications of Withdrawing American Troops from Germanyby Alexander Luck: who received his MA in Political Science from the University of Leipzig.FPRI (Foreign Policy Research Institute) Philadelphia, June 2020, A nation must think before it acts.

. . . Whatever the cause of the decision, the proposal has led to renewed debate over the significance of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), German contributions to the Alliance, and the security benefits that Berlin derives from being a member.  The potential reallocation of forces has also caused European national security observers to take a closer look at the relevance of American military assets for national foreign policy and the benefits—actual or perceived—to its European partners. . . . the current American effort appears to have significant flaws in the limited impact on Germany, should redistribution simply mean troops remain in Europe, and the near impossibility of expecting Bundeswehr to be funded to the tune of 2% GDP any time soon . . . any drastic reductions would appear to pose a significant problem for unilateral U.S. military operations in support of its sovereign foreign policy execution.(https://www.fpri.org/article/2020/06/the-implications-of-withdrawing-american-troops-from-germany/)   (6/30/2020)

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AUSTRALIA PLANS FOR ARMED CONFLICT

Australia must and will prepare for the real risk of armed conflict in its region: that was the bracing message of the new defense plan launched by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday.

The document is innocuously titled the Defence Strategic Update.  But that is a euphemism for something of profound significance to the nation’s future – a blueprint for a military capable of fighting major wars, and thus in principle helping to prevent them from breaking out.

At one level, this is simply about government executing its first duty: providing for the security of the nation, its interests and values.

What has changed is that the government now recognises a rapidly worsening horizon of risk and knows it can no longer defer hard choices about what the Australian Defence Force is for.

The landscape of strategic hazard is much to do with the way in which the People’s Republic of China has not only strengthened its armed forces, but projected power right across the region that Australia calls home – the Indo-Pacific.

Depressingly, the opportunity for co-operation that came with the COVID-19 pandemic – in theory, a shared challenge that should compel nations to suspend their rivalry – has been lost. The reality is that China has chosen this window to intensify its push for dominance, from Hong Kong to Taiwan, from Japan to the South China Sea, from the Indian border to economic leverage against Australia.

China is increasingly active as a military power in south-east Asia, the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific.   Much of the arc to Australia’s north is now a region of contestation and power plays, not only between China and America but increasingly between China and others such as Japan, India, Vietnam and Indonesia.

And Canberra has responded to this with the unequivocal statement that deterring threats to Australia’s interests in this arc – these northern, western, and eastern approaches – is the foremost priority for our forces’ sovereign capability that demonstrates an intent to allow Australian forces to operate more independently of our American ally is the new plan’s commitment to build a dedicated Australian satellite network and ground stations.

In other words, Australia is finally getting serious about being able to find and target potential adversaries without heavy reliance on the United States.

The government is also committing to stockpile much larger quantities of ammunition and fuel on Australian soil, so that in a future crisis this nation’s military would be able to sustain a long conflict or blockade.

The overall plan is a paradox of both less and more reliance on America.   Despite these steps towards more independent Australian deterrence and war-fighting capacity, the continued modernization of the force – longer-range missiles, more advanced aircraft, ships and unmanned systems – will depend fundamentally on US technology and supply.

And Morrison is certainly not writing off the future of the US alliance.   Despite all the awful vicissitudes of the Trump presidency, it is clear that the Australian strategic establishment remains convinced that the United States will remain engaged in our region.

After all, if the US is serious about competing with China – and there seems bipartisanship on this in Washington – then it is going to need to remain active in the Indo-Pacific and to sustain the alliances and partnerships that have been a unique American strength.  (Rory Medcalf, Sydney Morning Herald, 7/2/2020)

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BLACK LIVES MATTER IS A MARXIST ORGANIZATION

Black Lives Matter is a Marxist revolutionary movement aimed at transforming the United States into a communist dystopia.   BLM states that it wants to abolish the nuclear family, police, prisons and capitalism.   BLM leaders have threatened to “burn down the system” if their demands are not met.   They are also training militias.

“Cutting the LAPD budget means longer responses to 911 emergency calls, officers calling for backup won’t get it, and rape, murder and assault investigations won’t occur or will take forever to initiate, let alone complete.” — Los Angeles Police Protective League, the city’s police union.

“White people are so confused in America . . .   If there is systematic racism today it is a racism against white people, in the sense that white people are told that they are responsible for all the evils in the world . . . ”  (Dr. Carol M. Swain, university professor and advisory board member of Black Voices for Trump.  Gatestone, 7/2/2020)

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BLACK ON BLACK VIOLENCE ONLY GETS WORSE

Chicago has long struggled with violent crime, and Democratic leaders in the city haven’t been able to do anything about it.   Over the Independence Day weekend, that violence truly became out of control, with more than 70 people shot in the city, 14 of whom died.

It comes at a time when Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot faces increased scrutiny over her running of the city, and her constant pandering to the most far-left elements of the Democratic Party.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that some 74 people were shot over the weekend, 14 fatally, by 6:45 p.m. on Sunday, July 5.  If you believe the Chicago Tribune instead, the number was actually 80 people shot, and 17 people killed, by 5:29 p.m. on Sunday.

Whichever number is accurate, it’s too high.  (The Liberty Revolution, 7/8/2020)

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LATEST STATS ON MODERN SLAVERY

  • There are an estimated 136,000 people living in modern slavery just in Britain.  Slavery in the UK takes the form of forced labor, and domestic and sexual exploitation.   Albanians and Vietnamese are among the groups that constitute the majority of slaves. — Global Slavery Index, 2018.
  • There are currently an estimated 9.2 million black slaves in Africa.  Slavery, according to the index, includes forced labor, forced sexual exploitation and forced marriage. — Global Slavery Index, 2018.
  • “According to the U.N.’s International Labor Organization (ILO), there are more than three times as many people in forced servitude today as were captured and sold during the 350-year span of the transatlantic slave trade,” Time Magazine,March 14, 2019.

(Judith Bergman, Gatestone, 6/27/2020)

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TO THE POINT

  • Mauritanian Anti-Slavery Activist Maryam Bint Al-Sheikh: Slavery Still Exists in Mauritania; Slaves Can Be Bequeathed From Father To Son.  (MEMRI 7/5/2020)
  • South African Farm Murders are ‘National Emergency’ Says DA, Calls for Urgent Parliamentary Debate — The Democratic Alliance (DA) has requested a debate in the National Assembly on the “scourge” of farm attacks and murders across rural South Africa, many of which have been “particularly heinous in nature with brutal torture”.   These attacks, they say, are a “national emergency” which must be addressed as a matter of urgency.(https://www.sapeople.com/2020/06/25/sa-farm-murders-are-          national-emergency-says-da-and-calls-for-urgent-                                        parliamentary-)
  • South Africa To Borrow $7 Billion Globally as Debt Rises by SAPeople Staff Writer – Jun 24, 2020 — The government will need to borrow $7 billion from international finance institutions as one of the measures to cover the budget hole brought about by South Africa’s response to COVID-19,   Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said today during his supplementary budget.(https://www.sapeople.com/2020/06/24/south-africa-to-                         borrow-7-billion-globally-as-debt-rises/)
  • King Leopold’s legacy:   The lingering chaos in DR Congo60 years after independence, traces of the system of exploitation and violence that Leopold II and colonial-era Belgium created still remain in DR Congo.  The propensity for violence is inherited, experts say. — More than a century of looting and terror began in 1885 when King Leopold II and Belgium were granted then barely developed Congo Basin at the Berlin Conference.   The “Congo Free State” served solely to enrich the monarch.   Congolese labor oiled this machine.   Anyone who resisted or stood in their way was brutally punished — photographs and reports of hands chopped off bear testimony to the stories.   This is how it largely remained, until Congo was given independence on 30 June 1960.   Yet, even 60 years later —with the exception of a small elite —many children are still born into bitter poverty.              (https://www.dw.com/en/king-leopolds-legacy-the-lingering-chaos-in-dr-congo/a-53982357)
  • “RUNNING THE WORLD SINCE 1776” was the message on a Tee-shirt I saw this morning.   Are people really that ignorant?  The US did not become the leading power in the world until 1948!  A lot of people won’t even question it.

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AFTER THOUGHT

I finally got my malaria pills!

I ordered them over three months ago when I was given a new prescription.

I’ve been coming down with malaria for over 40 years.   It still comes back.   It was coming back once a year but it’s been three years since I’ve had it.  I was tempted to not bother buying the pills as they are quite expensive.  But there’s nothing worse than the shakes from malaria and I feel better knowing there’s a pill there I can take.  Just one and I’m usually ok.

But there was a complication this time.   Thanks to President Trump millions of people are taking chloroquine for Covid-19.   This led to a shortage and the price went up.   $132 for 24 pills.

Malaria remains the number one killer in the world.  Maybe Covid-19 has overtaken it temporarily.   But the pesky mosquito will be back, I’m sure of it.  All those aggressive females will be biting us wherever we go, taking every opportunity to suck the blood out of us.  (Only the females spread the disease.)

It used to be said that on the first day with malaria you’re afraid you are going to die.  On the second day, you’re afraid you’re going to live!

“O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.” (Psalm 38:9-10)

 

 

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.)

 

TEN YEARS AFTER 7/7

7:7 remembrance service

A Service of Remembrance was held in London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral today, to commemorate 7/7, England’s 9/11.   It came just eleven days after another terrorist attack in Tunisia claimed the lives of thirty British tourists.

Ten years ago exactly, 52 people were killed when four home grown Islamic terrorists blew up three subway trains and one bus.   Dozens more suffered life-changing injuries.

At times, the service was deeply moving.   In attendance were Prince Andrew, the Prime Minister David Cameron and his predecessor, Tony Blair, who was prime minister when the attacks took place, together with his wife, Cherie.   Family members of the deceased filled the great church, built in the late seventeenth century following the Great Fire of London.

London is, arguably, the most multicultural city in the world.   The deceased were drawn from different cultures and different religions.   The perpetrators of the atrocities were all Muslims, born in England, and all from fairly affluent backgrounds.   Their actions were not motivated by poverty or lack of opportunity.

The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, pointed out, that:  “the majority of the victims were young, they came from all over the UK and all over the world. There were Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and Humanists . . . London is an astonishing world in a city, but beyond the diversity… this was a terrible crime that robbed us of family and friends.”

He continued:  “Our London is a laboratory for testing whether it will be possible for the cosmopolitan civilization, which is becoming a global reality, to hold together.”

“We are in the midst of a debate about identity, including what it means to be British.   Some in the world are reacting to change by retreating into ever narrower definitions of their identity.   At the same time, merely invoking the universal concepts of tolerance and respect, with which we probably all agree, does not generate one iota of the energy required to transform lives and to build a community.   We cannot exorcise the Satanic by creating a spiritual vacuum.”

The Bishop’s comments were thought-provoking.   Some might disagree with some of what he said.

He talked of our “cosmopolitan civilization, which is becoming a global reality,” when, in truth, it really isn’t.   The suicide bombings that were being commemorated were the acts of second generation Muslims.  The countries their families came from are not cosmopolitan.   They do not allow westerners into their countries except on short-term contracts – they certainly cannot settle and become citizens no matter how long they stay.   Britain and other western nations allow immigration from the Middle East and grant citizenship, thereby encouraging a cosmopolitan society, which clearly has its challenges, when young citizens, far from appreciating the country their parents moved to, instead try to kill as many of their fellow citizens as possible.

He also talked of the “universal concepts of tolerance and respect.”   Sadly, these are not universal concepts.  They are concepts that developed over time in Protestant countries, when the proliferation of different sects necessitated learning to live peaceably alongside each other.   They are western concepts.   They do not even extend to Eastern Europe, let alone to China, Russia or even Japan.

The bishop’s remarks highlight the great gulf that exists between the West and the Rest.   Multiculturalism is largely one-sided, with people in the West having to bend over backwards to accommodate other cultures that have moved into their territory and are now demanding they get their own way.   And, when they don’t, they will blow other people up to make a point.

It’s not surprising that a BBC straw poll taken on Saturday, found that 95% of British people say that multiculturalism is not working.

Further, today’s British papers quote the ex-head of British Counter-terror as suggesting that it’s time for the British government to provide charter flights to Syria, encouraging homegrown jihadists to fly out and join ISIS, after surrendering their passports.   This is, finally, recognition that many Muslims in their midst will never show the tolerance and respect that living in Britain requires.