In the US, there have been over 70,000 corona virus deaths; in the UK over 32,000 (proportionately the UK is worse than the US). What this could mean remains to be seen.
Two months ago, Britain looked on in horror as deaths from Covid-19 skyrocketed in Italy. Now, the UK’s own death toll from the disease has eclipsed its continental neighbor to become the worst in Europe.
Yet with the true figure likely to be significantly higher due to missed cases and a lag in reporting, the country is braced for worse news to come. (The Week, 5/6/2020)
RATE OF UNEMPLOYMENT
The latest unemployment figures came out this morning (Thursday). An additional 3.2 million people filed for unemployment benefit last week. That brings the total number of Americans without a job to 33.5 million.
From Maine to California, Americans are defying government officials and reclaiming their First Amendment rights to assemble and protest. They are opening up their businesses in open defiance of the authoritarian political leaders. The resistance is building and thankfully remains (mostly) peaceful. How long until the dam breaks and the lockdown regime comes crashing down?(https://patriotpowerednews.com/resistance-to-lockdown-builds-coronavirus-tyrants-losing-their-grip/)
BRITISH ECONOMY HITS ROCK BOTTOM
In recent weeks economic data have forced statisticians to change the scale on their charts by hitting new lows. This week they showed a record drop in construction activity, and the car industry’s trade body reported that new registrations fell by 97% year-on-year in April. The good news is that the last month probably represented the bottom for Britain’s economy, with lockdown restrictions likely to ease in coming weeks. The bad news is that the shape of the recovery remains uncertain. Today’s Bank of England announcements did not include new policy changes—interest rates are already at record lows, quantitative easing has restarted, and new schemes have been put in place to support business lending — but they did update their forecasts. The bank’s economists now expect the economy to contract by 14% in 2020, the largest annual fall since the early 1700s, followed by a 15% bounce in 2021. The worry though is that while the scale of the decline looks pretty clear, the speed of the recovery is subject to much more uncertainty. (The Economist, 5/7/2020)
FEARS PANDEMIC MAY HASTEN WEST’S DECLINE
The corona crisis could accelerate Germany and the western powers’ economic and political decline, according to recent economic projections by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and analyses by US foreign policy experts. As the US magazine Foreign Policy writes, Trump’s handling of the crisis has been an “embarrassing debacle” that tarnished the United States’ reputation as a country “that knows how to do things effectively.” Other states are more willing to orient themselves on countries which are “past the peak of infection,” such as China, concludes the president of the Council on Foreign Relations. The EU has also failed in the crisis. According to the IMF, China will economically suffer less under the pandemic than western countries: its economic performance will bypass that of the eurozone quicker than expected and will approach that of the United States. In the West, this emerging shift in power is being accompanied by aggressive anti-Chinese propaganda. (German Foreign Policy, 4/16/2020)
TEST OF AMERICAN LEADERSHIP, POST-VIRUS
You can see why china might sniff an opportunity in this crisis. Coronavirus has targeted America’s weaknesses, while making many of its strengths temporarily irrelevant. The world’s most powerful military machine is not much use against a virus. But a lack of universal healthcare coverage is suddenly a threat not just to the poor but to the whole of US society.
Question one is: what currency in the world do you most trust? Question two: where, outside your home country, would you most like your children to go to university or to work? For a majority of the global middle-class, the answers to those questions have been, respectively, the dollar and the us. If that continues to be the case after the pandemic, then American primacy will continue.
(Gideon Rachman, FT, 5/6)
FEARS GROW BREXIT TALKS COULD COLLAPSE IN JUNE
Brexit talks with the European Union could collapse in June unless Brussels abandons its demands for a common fisheries policy and a level playing field, says a source close to the UK’s negotiating team.
The source told The Guardian that only “limited progress in bridging the gaps between us” had been made at last week’s talks, but there was “confidence that progress can be made quite quickly.”
He added that he was “quite positive” over the chances of a trade deal before the end of the year, when the UK’s transition period ends. Boris Johnson is expected to take a more active role in trying to help unblock talks if there is no breakthrough in the months ahead. (The Week, 5/1/2020)
Britain’s new aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth sets sail
30 April 2020, Defense News
LONDON — Britain’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth departed its Portsmouth base April 29 for training, but only after its crew was tested for the new coronavirus, the Royal Navy announced. The 65,000-ton warship is currently in an isolation period at sea ahead of training off the south coast of England. The ship’s departure from the Portsmouth naval base was delayed by a few days to enable the entire crew of about 800 to be tested for COVID-19. The warship is expected to be at sea for up to eight weeks conducting the Flag Officer Sea Training assessment required to certify that HMS Queen Elizabeth is competent to join the fleet for operational tasking. Britain is targeting next year for the ship’s first operational deployment, and the FOST assessment is a key element in achieving that plan. Training with F-35 fighter jets, simulated battle damage, fires and flood training, and mission rehearsals will be part of the process, the Royal Navy said in a statement. “This will prepare the ship for further training later in the year with other Royal Navy ships to ensure they are ready to deploy as a task group next year,” the service said.(https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2020/04/30/britains-new-carrier-queen-elizabeth-sets-sail-prepared-to-train-amid-pandemic/)
EUROZONE ECONOMY SHRINKS AT RECORD RATE
The eurozone economy shrank at its sharpest rate on record in the first quarter of the year, with the continent set to enter a deep recession triggered by the coronavirus lockdown.
Eurostat data published yesterday showed that eurozone GDP shrank by 3.8% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the final quarter of last year. The contraction is worse than that experienced by the US over the same period and deeper than the financial crisis over a decade ago. Market Watch says it means “three years of the eurozone’s economic activity have been wiped away, and it is likely going to get worse.” (The Week, 5/1/2020)
COULD ISRAEL AND IRAN GO TO WAR?
The undeclared war between Iran and Israel has reached new heights.
Or more specifically, a height of 270 miles, which is the altitude of Iran’s first spy satellite. It’s more than a nice vantage point for Iran to keep an eye on its arch-enemy Israel. Lacking advanced reconnaissance aircraft and drones to penetrate Israeli air defenses, a satellite may be the only way for Tehran to gather real-time intelligence on Israel.
Which raises the question: will Israel be tempted to destroy Iran’s eye in the sky? (Michael Peck, Middle East Forum, 5/5/2020)
DISENGAGEMENT FROM CHINA
The United States and transatlantic oriented circles in Germany are increasing pressure on Berlin to participate in the West’s “disengagement” from China. “The alliance question” is “ripe for decision,” declared Mathias Döpfner, CEO of the Axel Springer SE media group. Germany must cease the “aberration” of economic cooperation with the People’s Republic of China and formally position itself in opposition to Beijing. This is the result of the global shift in power that is becoming apparent through the Corona crisis. Whereas China has obviously overcome the low-point of this crisis and is already headed back to economic growth, an improvement of the situation in the USA and Europe is not yet on the horizon. Observers are speculating that the western powers’ “influence and significance” will probably “continue to dwindle.” Whereas Washington is mulling whether to lift China’s sovereign immunity, to permit damage lawsuits, powerful forces in the German economy are seeing their crisis exit in business with China. (German Foreign Policy, 5/4/2020)
SCOTTISH COMMENT ON CHINESE BEHAVIOR
“No country with a skerrick of self-respect can allow this behavior to go unpunished. I have already suggested some punitive measures designed to wound the regime’s pride without harming the Chinese people: cancel the Huawei deal; pass a Magnitsky-style Act targeting senior CPC figures; champion the Uyghurs at every opportunity (e.g. rename the London street that houses the Chinese embassy after a Uyghur political prisoner); and recognize Taiwan as an independent nation. All I would add, upon reflection, is this: grant British citizenship to Hong Kongers born before 1 July 1997, their children and grandchildren.” — Scottish political commentator Stephen Daisley. (Gatestone, 5/7)
CORONA ECONOMIC GAP
Foreign policy experts in Germany and the EU’s Foreign Affairs Commissioner Josep Borrell are warning that Brussels’ corona relief measures could widen the EU’s economic gap. So far, the EU’s reaction to the Corona crisis has led to companies in economically stronger countries receiving more relief assistance than their competitors in more heavily indebted countries, according to a proximate analysis by the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP). After the crisis, German companies will probably be in a stronger position than, for example, their Italian competitors. “The north-south divide that was already in place before the crisis, could become even more pronounced afterwards,” Borrell predicts. The growing inequality could threaten the EU’s “political project” in the foreseeable future, the DGAP writes. In the competition within the EU, German companies are benefiting from the fact that, by fostering a bottom-to-top redistribution, national corona relief measures are already to their advantage – a development that exacerbates the crisis. (German Foreign Policy, 5/6/2020)
POPE PIUS XII KNEW OF HOLOCAUST Researchers say Vatican archives show Pope Pius XII knew of WWII killing of Jews
German scholars exploring newly opened trove of documents find letter indicating pope was aware of massacre of Jews in Warsaw and Lviv from own sources, but denied it to Americans.
Researchers studying the newly opened Vatican archives of pope Pius XII have already found evidence that the World War II-era pope knew about the mass killing of Jews from his own sources but kept it from the US government, the Washington Post reported Wednesday, citing interviews with German scholars. The archives were opened March 2, but closed soon after due to the coronavirus crisis. Many of the 200 scholars who had applied for access delayed their trips. However, a German team lead by award-winning religious historian Hubert Wolf from the University of Münster made a start and has already found some damning discoveries. (Times of Israel, 30 April 2020).
POLYGAMY CAUSE OF CONFLICT IN AFRICA
Polygamy is a major social problem in Africa and other parts of the world. In Africa, it plays a major role in the wars fought in some areas. Where men have to provide 30 or more cows as the bride price to buy a wife, cattle raids on neighboring tribes and villages have become a regular occurrence. As some men have multiple wives, so others have none. This leads to desperation, to violence and the taking of wives from other tribes.
“Overall, polygamy is in retreat. However, its supporters are fighting to preserve or even extend it. Two-fifths of Khazakhstanis want to re-legalize the practice (it was banned by the Bolsheviks). In 2008 they were thwarted, at least temporarily, when a female MP amended a pro-polygamy bill to say that polyandry – the taking of multiple husbands – would be allowed as well; Muslim greybeards balked at that.” (“The Perils of Polygamy,” The Economist, 12/23/17).
TO THE POINT
- ISRAEL ALLOWS CHRISTIAN TV CHANNEL – A new evangelical Christian channel whose mission is to “take the message of Yeshua our Messiah to all of Israel 24/7, 365 days a year” began broadcasting in Israel in Hebrew last week, after signing a seven-year contract with Israeli cable provider HOT. The Shelanu (Hebrew for “Ours”) TV channel is a branch of GOD TV, which broadcasts missionary programming in 200 countries around the world. The new deal will give the channel access to over 700,000 Israeli households. GOD TV CEO Ward Simpson said in a video announcing the launch that his network had received permission from the Israeli government to “broadcast the gospel of Jesus Christ – Yeshua the Messiah – in Israel on cable TV in the Hebrew language. Never before, as far as we know in the history of the world, has this ever been done.” (jns. 5/5/2020)
- The leaders of the European Union and dozens of states and donors pledged €7.4bn ($8.1bn) to fund the fight against covid-19. Most of the money will go towards developing a vaccine, the rest to finding a cure and better testing. More cash could be forthcoming. America declined to take part (or say why). “A pity,” said Norway’s prime minister. (The Economist, 5/5/2020)
- CHINA WARNS OF WAR WITH THE US – An internal report presented to Chinese President Xi Jinping and other top leaders concludes that global anti-China sentiment is at a level not seen since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, and recommends preparing for a worst-case scenario of armed conflict with the United States, according to Reuters, citing people familiar with the content of the document.
- Eleven European ambassadors to Israel on Thursday warned Jerusalem of severe consequences if it moves ahead with plans to annex parts of the West Bank as part of a government coalition deal. The envoys from the UK, Germany, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Finland and the EU issued a formal objection to the Foreign Ministry against the move, Channel 13 reported. (Times of Israel, 5/1/2020)
- Kuwaiti economist Saeed Tawfiqi said in a March 30, 2020 interview on Diwan Al-Mulla Internet TV (Kuwait) that in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. and Europe will enter a sharp decline, and China will become stronger. He advised people in the Gulf states to start learning Chinese instead of English and using yuans instead of dollars. (MEMRI 7921)
America has held the pre-eminent position in the world for seventy years. History shows us that it will not always be the case. Indeed, the corona virus could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
The first recorded recognition that the British Empire no longer ranked at number one was in 1948. But it wasn’t until 1956, with the Suez Canal crisis, that it was fully realized. Decline (and fall) is not always overnight as in the fall of Babylon – it can be longer and protracted.
The outcome of the virus and the economic reality of its aftermath, remain to be seen. But the article by Gideon Rachman, of the Financial Times, quoted elsewhere in this blog, gives us a simple test. After it’s all over, will the US dollar still be the currency of choice for the world’s nations? And will people around the world still send their children to US colleges?
We should know the answer to the first question soon; the second may take longer.
Over-spending by the US government has always been a problem. The late President DeGaulle of France dismissively referred to the “Anglo-Saxon debtor countries”, whose economic systems relied on deficit spending. But that over-spending has been a big factor in ensuring the prosperity of both the British and the Americans for the last 50 years.
That will likely change. Borrowing for the stimulus will run into the trillions of dollars. In the UK, we see the same thing happening with massive spending to help the people in a time of trouble.
This must weaken the dollar (and the pound), against other currencies. We may even have reached the full extent of our capacity to borrow, that no more borrowing is possible. At the very least, our children and grandchildren will be buried in debt for generations.
Other nations may decide that the two currencies are not reliable, that they will not hold their value. In which case, they will have to find an alternative (the euro? The Chinese yuan? Gold?). If that’s the case, the US will lose its global leadership position overnight.
Daniel 2:21 says: “He removes kings and raises up kings” (Daniel 2:21). God is behind the rise and fall of nations. Seventy years is about the average for any nation to stay at the top. It was longer for the British, but not the French or the Spanish, who held the ascendant position earlier. Seventy years is about the average lifespan, by which time people have forgotten the lessons of the past, which includes the need to balance the books and stabilize the currency.
Whether this is the time for a major global change is not clear yet. But it soon will be.
Let’s remember God is in charge and not despair. The same chapter of Daniel assures us of the greatest event in history, the establishment of the Kingdom of God.
“And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” (Daniel 2:44)
The kingdoms (and republics) of this world must end for God to establish His Kingdom.