Tag Archives: Syria

PROPHESIED EVENTS SPEEDING UP UNDER TRUMP

When President Trump was elected, many Christians thought this would mean a delay in prophesied end-time events, as America was “made great again”.

The opposite seems to be the case.

As Sky News put it following Mr. Trump’s announcement that the United States is pulling out of the Iran deal, the president’s proclamation sent an “earthquake” through the Middle East.

Rather than delaying prophesied events, Mr. Trump is speeding them up, laying the groundwork for rapid escalation.

Consider the following:

  1. The growing rift between Europe and America.   Less than a month after French President Emmanuel Macron paid a seemingly highly successful visit to Washington, DC, the French today condemned America over the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran, calling the decision “unacceptable.”   Earlier in the week, France, Germany and the UK all expressed support for the Iranian deal, refusing to support the US.

It should be emphasized that it is not Europe distancing itself from America; it’s America that keeps on making decisions that are taking the country down a new path of isolationism.

It’s America that is changing, not the rest of the world.   But changes decided in Washington are going to have a profound effect internationally.

Just today, European Union boss Jean-Claude Juncker is capitalizing on America’s decision to call once again for a United States of Europe with its own, single, unified military.

At some point, prophecy shows that ten nations in Europe will unite to form a formidable military, political and economic alliance.   You can read about this in Revelation, chapter 17.   “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast.” (Rev.  17:12-13)

  1.  Pressure from the US on Berlin to build up the German military.

After two world wars that were started by Germany, you would think nobody would want to rearm the country that lies at the heart of Europe.   And that has been the case with every Administration since World War II.   But now it’s changing, as President Trump feels that the Germans must spend more on the defense of the western alliance – which may not be an alliance much longer!   Building up its military will leave Germany in the perfect position to lead the ten nation revival of the Roman Empire.

  1. Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, thereby recognizing the city as the “eternal capital” of Israel.   No other major nation has followed America in this.   This is just one decision that has changed the Middle East dramatically.

The Old Testament Book of Zechariah is a Millennial prophecy, which speaks to us today.   It contains prophecies which could not have been fulfilled until the restoration of the Jewish nation exactly seventy years ago. Note chapter 12, verses 2 & 3.

 “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem.    And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.”

Judah is the biblical name for the modern nation of Israel, whose population is mostly Jewish, people who are descendants of the ancient tribe of Judah.

Given time, conflict around Jerusalem will involve more nations. Note Zech 14:2:  “ For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle.”

  1. US support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has emboldened Israel to strike at Iran in Syria.   It’s worth remembering that it was Netanyahu who warned President George W Bush about weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, calling on Washington to do something.   That did not work out well.   Could we see greater intervention by the United States in a rising conflict between Israel and Iran?   Iran this week attacked Israel for the first time.
  2. Add to this, the growing conflict between Shia and Sunni Islam, with the US clearly supporting Sunni Muslim countries (notably Saudi Arabia) against Shi’ite countries (Iran, Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon).
  3. The decision to tear up the climate change treaty, signed in Paris.   Mr. Macron tried to change President Trump’s mind, but failed.   People may criticize the US president for many things, but he’s certainly fulfilling his election promises, including this one.   The rest of the world remains committed to the treaty.
  4. Trade is another area of growing conflict, as President Trump puts “America First.”   Here certainly the US has many grievances on unfair trade practices, but, again, it adds to the growing sense of divergence, as the US moves in a different direction from the rest of the world.   Other nations continue to support globalization as a way to universal prosperity.

This growing trade war could even backfire on the US, if China decides to divest itself of US dollars. The result would be a serious downward pull on the greenback’s international value.

Even in less important areas, there has been significant change.   For the first time, royal wedding planners had to announce that no politicians will be invited to next week’s wedding.   This was the only way out of inviting the US president to a wedding where the bride is an American.   But the alternative was a massive demonstration outside the church, thereby giving the British a security headache.

It’s not that all the changes are wrong.   As an article headline in the Wall Street Journal put it:   “Everything about Trump is bad, except for all his policies.”   Rather, it’s the combined effect that all the changes are making that has sent an earthquake around the world. The aftershocks will be with us for some time.

Many Christians will no doubt continue to believe that Trump is going to reverse America’s fortunes and usher in a new glorious age, but it seems more likely that the radical departure from previous policies is only going to speed up the prophesied events that culminate in the return of Jesus Christ.

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CBS this morning showed a few minutes of an interview with the Pope, to be broadcast in its entirety on “60 Minutes” this Sunday.  This morning, the pope was talking about the Jewish seventh day sabbath being a day of rest.  He actually used the terms “seventh day” and “sabbath.”

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IMMINENT MISSILE ATTACK ON SYRIA

“Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, And it will be a ruinous heap. (Isaiah 17:1) 

By an amazing coincidence, I have been reading a book on “Munich” while the current crisis in Syria has been building up.

At Munich in 1938, Hitler and Chamberlain met to discuss Hitler’s claims on German Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia.   Chamberlain famously gave in to his demands. The former British PM described Nazi Germany’s annexation of the area of German-speaking Czechoslovakia in 1938 as “a quarrel in a faraway country between people of which we know nothing.”

Similar words could be spoken today about Syria.

At the time of writing this article, President Trump is deciding on how to react to Syria’s use of chemical weapons on its own people. If the US does nothing, nobody else will.   In 1938 Neville Chamberlain, as British Prime Minister, was the leader of the western world; today it’s President Trump.   Less than a year after Chamberlain’s famous appeasement toward Hitler, Britain and Germany were at war.   It had become all too clear, even to Chamberlain, that Hitler was intent on global conquest.

There’s been plenty of evidence that Russia has similar territorial designs.   The Russians took control of part of Georgia a few years ago; this was followed by the conquest of Crimea and of eastern Ukraine.   Domination of Syria makes them the most powerful voice in the Middle East.  This role is growing – last month, Putin met with the leaders of Iran and Turkey in Ankara.  These three are now in a de facto alliance while Turkey remains officially in NATO.

Geoffrey Wawro, a professor at the University of North Texas, wrote a book called “Quicksand” (2010), on “America’s pursuit of power in the Middle East.”   Reviewer Rick Atkinson sums the book up well, writing that Wawro reveals “how an extraordinary tale of idealism, politics, force and miscalculation began and unfolded over the last century.”

The more the US got involved, the more the US was sucked in; hence the title “Quicksand.”   Why should we expect any other outcome following action in Syria?   Could US intervention lead to war with Russia?

“There was no reason for war in 1914, beyond the murder of an archduke in Bosnia.   As AJP Taylor said of 1914:   “Nowhere was there a conscious determination to provoke a war.   Statesmen miscalculated [and] became prisoners of their own weapons.   The great armies, accumulated to provide security and preserve the peace, carried the nations to war by their own weight.”   I wonder what Taylor would have said of Trump’s “Get ready, Russia” tweet.” (“Look at Syria and you can see all the elements that have led to world wars,” Simon Jenkins, The Guardian, April 12th.)

A miscalculation now could be fatal for the US, Russia and Syria.

SYRIAN COMPLEXITIES

Syria is a perfect illustration of the complexity of modern warfare and the geopolitics that complicate everything.

Syria was established after World War One and the fall of the Ottoman Empire.   After “the war to end all wars,” the Treaty of Paris carved out a number of new countries from the ruins of the Turkish ruled empire.   The treaty was aptly described as “the peace to end all peace” by a British general who saw a future of never-ending conflict in the region.   A century later nothing has improved.

Before World War One, Mesopotamia was a sleepy backwater of no interest to anyone.   The same could be said of Syria.   Bible students know that this had to change to fulfill apocalyptic prophecies about Israel (the Jews) and its neighbors.   The prophesied Jewish national homeland was established exactly seventy years ago, in May 1948.

Syria was a Mandated territory of the League of Nations.   France was given the mandate; Britain was given Iraq and Jordan to administer, again under a Mandate from the League.   Palestine was also a League of Nations mandated territory, given to the British.

After World War Two, the French left Syria.   It soon fell under the Soviet sphere of influence.   From 1970 Syria has been the home of a Russian naval base, the only one Russia has on the Mediterranean. The Russians are not going to give it up.   And they will support President Assad as long as it is in their interest to do so.

The US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 helped Russia to gain further influence in the region.   By removing Saddam Hussein from power and arranging an election in Iraq, the majority Shi’ites came to power, altering the balance of religious and political power in the Middle East.   Iran is the leading nation of Shia Islam.   An arc of Shia Islam now exists, from Iran through Iraq to Syria and Lebanon, roughly the same territory of the ancient biblical King of the North. Russia is heavily involved with the Iranians and Syria.   Turkey is now also with them, wanting to stop its Kurdish minority from breaking away.   The Turks are not Arabs, so this does not present a conflict for them.

Syria is not majority Shia.   Assad’s support comes mostly from his Alawite clan, a branch of Shia Islam, which amounts to only 11% of the population.   The Sunnis do not want to be ruled by Assad. Neither do the Sunnis in Iraq want a Shia government over them.  This is why ISIS formed, to “protect” Sunnis from Shi’ites.

It’s all very complicated.

No wonder the president is taking his time.

If he does nothing, he will be seen as weak against Syria and the Russians.  If he does something, innocent lives will be lost, but Assad will remain in power and Russia will continue as its benefactor.

A further complication came today when the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, announced that Moscow has “evidence” the video of the gas attack was performed by actors.   How does the West prove the film was real?

It seems like a no-win situation for the United States.

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European Immigration:   Nuns Out, Terrorists In                                                          by Douglas Murray, April 13, 2018 (Gatestone Institute)

  • When the same Home Office that forbade Sister Ban even to enter the country discovered that the young male Iraqi was in Britain, he explained clearly that he had been trained by ISIS.  He told the Home Office officials that the group had trained him to kill.   The Home Office promptly found him a place to live and study, and treated him as the minor he said he was but most likely was not.   He subsequently told a teacher that he had “a duty to hate Britain.”
  • Last year the Institute of St. Anselm (a Catholic training institute for priests and nuns, based in Kent) closed its doors because of problems it had getting the Home Office to grant visa applications for foreign students.   One nun last year was apparently denied entry to the UK because she did not have a personal bank account.
  • So, those who flee ISIS are turned away, while those who are trained by ISIS are welcome.

 

 

IRANIAN MISSILES AIMED AT ISRAEL

An image grab taken from Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV on November 5, 2017 shows Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Lebanon’s militant Shiite movement Hezbollah, giving a televised address from an undisclosed location in Lebanon. / AFP PHOTO 

“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that it’s desolation is near” (Luke 21:20).

Special Dispatch No. 7328

Pro-Hizbullah Lebanese Website:  “Hizbullah Has 70,000 Iranian Missiles Across Syria Ready To Launch Into Israel;  In A Year It Will Have 500,000”  (MEMRI, 2/12)

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Iran has 10 military bases in Syria, two near Israel border — analyst

Up to 20,000 fighters trained by Tehran are in country, now focused on Israel, after neutralizing IS threat, NY Times reports                                   Times of Israel * 19 Feb 2018

Iran operates 10 military bases in Syria and is training militias loyal to President Bashar Assad’s regime for a possible battle with Israel, with two key facilities located near the border with Israel, an analyst for an American think tank said in an article published Monday.  Up to 20,000 fighters from various militias throughout the war-torn country have been trained by Iranian military personnel, giving Tehran its “true muscle” in Syria, according to the Monday report in The New York Times.   Israel has been warning for years that Iran is seeking to entrench itself militarily in Syria.   According to Israeli political and military assessments, Tehran, which has shored up Assad in the Syrian civil war, has been working to create air and naval bases in Syria, from which it can arm the Lebanon-based terror organization Hezbollah and other Shiite groups, as well as carry out attacks of its own against the Jewish state.   Monday’s report said hundreds or thousands of Iranian military officials are in Syria and that about 6,000 of the Iran-trained combatants in the country are members of Hezbollah, with the rest coming from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries.   Most of them view the battle against non-Shiite Muslims and against non-Muslims in the region in religious terms, the report added.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-has-10-military-bases-in-syria-two-near-israel-border-analyst/

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EXTREME RIGHT CONTINUES TO RISE IN GERMANY

DW remains an excellent source of European news.  The German news program is shown on PBS on weekday evenings.

On Monday it reported the appointment of Chancellor Merkel’s “heir apparent”, Annegret Kram-Karrenbauer, as General Secretary of the conservative Christian Democrats.   This is a role that Mrs. Merkel had before becoming Chancellor – the same development could happen again.   Already, the media has dubbed her “Mini-Merkel”.

On the same evening news program, it was reported that the latest polls show support for the left-wing Social Democrats is plummeting.   At the same time, the “extreme right wing party, AfD, continues to rise dramatically.   DW’s Oliver Sallet commented that “this is unheard of.   It has never happened before in (the Federal Republic of) Germany.   The general trend continues, which is the rise of the Right in Germany.”

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RENEW LAUNCHED IN UK

Prior to the above news item, the program reported the launch of a new party in the United Kingdom.   “Renew” is dedicated to reversing the Brexit decision.

Britain remains very divided on whether the country should restore its independence, or further immerse itself in the German dominated European Union.

It’s also reported that the American billionaire George Soros has donated 600,000 pounds to try to ensure Britain does not go ahead with Brexit; at the same time, the CEO of Bank of America is speaking out against it.   Neither of these men is British.   In the US, the nightly news frequently brings up Russian interference in the last US election.   It’s time the British government condemned outside interference in Brexit.   This is a British matter for the British people to decide.

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TRADE WAR GETTING WORSE

Chart du jour:   Donald Trump, look away now

The EU’s trade surplus with the US jumped in 2017 and Donald Trump won’t be happy about it.   Having already dubbed Germany a potential “currency exploiter,” the White House will be wincing at new figures which show EU exports to the States jumped 3 per cent last year to €375bn.  Bloomberg reckons the figures could further strain trans-Atlantic trade ties between the two economic giants.  (FT 2/16)

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RECOMMENDED FAMILY SHOW

Friends recommended “When Calls the Heart,” which is available on Netflix.   The show is now in its fifth season on Hallmark.

It centers on the development of a small town “the other side of the Rockies” and the relationship between a Canadian Mountie and an adventurous school teacher from a wealthy family.   It’s a very good family show.

Prior to watching it, I was saying to my wife that we have watched good programs from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and the USA, but nothing from Canada.   Now, finally, here’s a series set in Canada.   That’s not the same as being “Canadian.” Hallmark, a US based channel, has left its prints all over it.  Even the Mountie is an import from Australia!

King Edward VII conferred the title “Royal” on the Mounties in 1904, six years before the series is set.   At the time, all outposts of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) would have displayed a photo of the King in their office.   Schools would, too, as any reader of “Anne of Green Gables” knows.  (Perhaps, we can overlook this as the school in the series meets in a saloon!)   The government is referred to as “the federal government,” whereas Canadians refer to the government in Ottawa as the “Government of Canada.”   Additionally, the only time any political subject has come up in the series, it’s been about US presidents.  Also, New York, San Francisco and Hollywood have received special mention, as if they are a part of the same province.

In other words, a very uplifting series is slightly marred by historical error, which could have been avoided.   Hallmark missed an opportunity to teach Americans about their bigger neighbor to the North.

It’s not very often that Philippians 4:8 comes to mind when watching a television series.  But it did with this one:

Philippians 4:8 NKJV – “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.”

There is no bad language in this series, no sex and minimal violence.  My wife and I recommend it as good family viewing, suitable for our grandchildren.

One final comment:   famously, Mounties always get their man, but the Mountie in this series is taking a very long time to get his woman!  It’s sometimes painful watching what must be one of the slowest courtships in dramatic history.  It’s good, though, for teens today to see how people used to court the opposite sex.

Watch it and see for yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

FLORIDA SCHOOL SHOOTING

(Photo: John McCall, AP)

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

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

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

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

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RIPPLE EFFECT OF SCHOOL SHOOTINGS

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

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

Parkland will not be the last school mass shooting.

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ISLAM AND THE WEST

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

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

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Nervous Rex?  Tillerson in Turkey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Special Dispatch No. 7339

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

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

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

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

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EUROPEAN UNITY

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

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US/EU

Transatlantic Rivals

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

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

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TRADE WAR

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

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

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US ECONOMY

Some like it hot:   America’s economy

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

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 ASIA

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

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AFRICA

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

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

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COMMENT ON OXFAM CHARITY SCANDAL

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

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THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

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

GLOBAL HUMANITARIAN CRISIS

BBC World is an international news channel, based in London.   With more correspondents around the globe, it is certainly the best source of world news.  It’s nightly news program made especially for American audiences is shown on PBS channels across the country

Increasingly, it has become the best place to go for humanitarian news.   At a time when many people are tired of seeing disaster after disaster and weary of refugee news, the BBC is consistent in highlighting the sufferings of people around the world.   If it wasn’t for the BBC, most people would be unaware of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, the continuing tragedy in South Sudan,  or the half a million Rohingya refugees, who have fled Myanmar (Burma) in the last few weeks, for the safety of neighboring Muslim Bangladesh. Thursday their nightly news program for American audiences had an in-depth report from the Democratic Republic of Congo, a major humanitarian  and worsening disaster.

The BBC is almost a century old, having been launched in London in 1922.   During World War II, it gained an unrivaled reputation as a reliable news source, even upsetting Britain’s wartime leader, Winston Churchill, who didn’t like its negative reports on the country’s war effort.

Undoubtedly, Burma’s most prominent politician and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, once thankful for the BBC’s championing democracy in her native Burma, is now wishing the organization did not exist.  Why?   Because it has been relentless in trying to get her to condemn the “ethnic cleansing” of the country’s Muslim minority, the Rohingya.   For some reason, she refuses to do that.

A negative consequence of the BBC’s relentless coverage is that people in the West are made uncomfortable witnessing all the suffering.   Many react by donating to charities that help those suffering; more vocal and radical people will call for “resettlement” into their own countries, which will only add to ethnic tensions at home.

The nightly scenes of columns of “Syrian” refugees (many actually from African countries) marching through snow and rain to reach western countries, led to those nations opening their doors.   Some are now regretting it.   Not far from the BBC’s headquarters in London, an attempt was made to blow up a subway train recently by a Syrian refugee. Similar attacks are likely to follow.

The world has always had ethnic conflict, but, after decades of organizations like the BBC, the European Union and the United Nations, supporting globalization efforts, while glossing over ethnic conflict, and singing Kumbaya at international gatherings, the world is waking up to the fact that ethnic consciousness has not gone away and ethnic conflict is surfacing everywhere.

Christians, who have often been at the forefront of trying to bring ethnic groups together, should be aware that this problem is set to get worse.   Asked by His disciples what would be the signs of His (Second) Coming, Jesus said: “nation will rise against nation” (Matthew 24:7) and “kingdom against kingdom”.   A kingdom is a political unit, like the United Kingdom or the United States.   The word “nation” here is from the Greek ethnos, meaning ethnic group. Ethnic group will turn on ethnic group is what this verse is saying.

The Bible also helps us understand why.

In the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy, written by Moses, we read:

“When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance,   When He separated the sons of man,   He set the boundaries of the peoples According to the number of the sons of Israel.”   The word “nations” here is a Hebrew word meaning “people”.   (Deuteronomy 32:8) “According to the number of the sons of Israel” is telling us that God wanted the Israelites to be separate from the pagan nations around them, so that they would not be encouraged to follow the pagan gods.

In the New Testament we read the following words spoken by the Apostle Paul, a Jew who was also a Greek and a Roman citizen: ” . . .  and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation.”  (Acts 17:26)

From these verses we can understand that God set boundaries between different ethnic groups, to help them avoid conflict.   This also meant that religious groups were separated.   The presence of Shi’ite Muslims in predominantly Sunni Yemen is the root cause of that country’s problems.   Little attempt is made to help people understand the depth of this animosity by organizations like the BBC that are always trying to promote multiculturalism and the idea that there is one faith, one God and that all worship Him in different ways.

Some are waking up to this reality.   It’s nothing new.   For centuries different religious and ethnic groups separated themselves from one another.   But now, after decades of increasing strife as groups were forced to mix, there are an increasing number of people questioning the whole idea.

Daniel Pipes is one of them.   Mr. Pipes is an American historian, writer and commentator.   He is also President of the Middle East Forum and publishes its Middle East Quarterly Journal.

In a recent interview, Mr. Pipes was asked by a German publication, Achse des Guten, for his solution to the problems caused by multiculturalism and specifically the attempt to assimilate millions of Muslims into German society:

What, then, is the answer?

The 100,000 permanent, almost-always empty tents in Saudi Arabia can hold 3 million migrants.

“Practically speaking, see the world in terms of cultural and geographic zones:   Westerners in need should stay in the West, Middle Easterners should stay in the Middle East, and so forth around the globe. Is it not strange that migrants from Syria and Iraq move to places like Germany and Sweden?   They would be better off going to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, where the climate, the language, the religion, and the mores are all like their own; plus, these countries are much closer to Syria.”

Cultures and customs change. Perhaps Muslims will adapt to European cultures if given the opportunity?

“In theory, yes;  in practice, no.   Experience shows that the first generation of Muslim immigrants to Europe is more adaptable than its children and grandchildren, as cultural separation increases over time. It is hard to find any place in Europe where Muslim immigrants have assimilated, leading me gravely to doubt that this will take place in the future. Chileans, Chinese, and Congolese fit better into European culture than do Muslims.”

Let’s be clear – Mr. Pipes is advocating the separation of the “Christian” West and the Islamic world.   Muslims should live in the Middle East; they should not be allowed to flee to western Europe when there are 22 Arab countries closer to them, some of them fabulously wealthy nations.

I would like to suggest we take it a step further.

Western nations need to urgently call for an international meeting of Islamic and western leaders.   The West needs to openly confess that it’s made a horrible mess of the Middle East since the Treaty of Paris a century ago.   Western leaders need to promise to stay completely out of the Middle East in exchange for Muslim nations taking in the Muslims who are living in the West.

Is this likely to happen?

Once again, we can look to the Bible for the answer.

Daniel, a book written in the sixth century BC in Babylon, not only predicted the coming of the Messiah six centuries later, but also prophesied of future empires – Persia, Greece and Rome.   Much of the book has already been fulfilled, but parts are set in the future. Chapter 11 deals with Alexander the Great and the four kingdoms that succeeded him.   The prophetic timeline brings us down to the present.   In verses 40-43 we read of a coming clash of civilizations between a united European power and the “King of the South,” a revived caliphate to the South of Jerusalem.  The Jews (the nation we call Israel) will, once again, be caught up in this conflict.

 

THANKSGIVING AND BEYOND

Seated:  Brooklyn, Aubren, Elena and Hayden.  Standing:  Alyssa with Evan, Paris with Leeson, and Ethan.

We just survived four days of Thanksgiving with nine grandchildren!!!

Actually that’s not quite true.   All nine were only with us from Wednesday evening at 6pm until Thursday at 8pm.   The other seven were in our home for 97 hours and 38 minutes, to be exact.   But, who’s counting?  Delightful chaos!

It was fun – most of the time.   Except when the boys, all 5 except for our son who is 38 going on 5, were playing nerf wars; running around the house with toy guns shooting light plastic/foam bullets at each other.

Until Sunday afternoon, when the oldest “5” year old got hit in the eye and ended up in ER.  Twice.   After spending 2 hours and 30 minutes at the first ER, he had to go to the second ER because they didn’t have the necessary equipment to examine the eye at the first. Both hospitals are owned by the same company, so you would think that the second hospital would let him go to the front of the line.   No way.   He had to wait another 5 or 6 hours to get any attention.  It was eight hours before he arrived back at our home.   8 hours and a few hundred dollars, plus whatever his insurance company paid out on his behalf.

Waiting with him at the second hospital, I was observing what was going on.  I usually take something to read when I have to wait at doctors’ offices or hospitals, but I thought this visit would be brief. Not so.   After about three hours, our son wanted something to eat and walked into the main part of the hospital, which has a “Starbucks” – add another $20 to the cost of his eye injury.  (And another $10 for parking!)   He returned from the Starbucks exclaiming that it cost more than any Starbucks he had been to in any airport.   Hospitals are clearly big business!

It looks as if his eye will be ok, but he has to go see the eye doctor every day this week to see how it’s doing.

His nephews had a lot of fun, but we may just be playing “Snakes and Ladders” next time they visit.   No, I doubt it.   If there’s anything they all have, it’s plenty of energy.

It’s now Tuesday and they have all been gone for almost 48 hours. However, Diane and I are both still exhausted.  Even the house seems to be breathing a sigh of relief although three of the little delights live here.   Only the cat had any sense – he stayed away almost all the time our visitors were here.  For some reason, he’s taken to sleeping on my pillow, so if I want to take a nap, I have to fight him for the space.   I could always get my own back by eating his cat food!  Maybe not – it has turkey as one of the ingredients.   I don’t think I could consume any more turkey for at least a year.

Our youngest grandson, Hayden, 18 months old, enjoyed all the attention from his cousins, aunts and uncles.   He has a new tee-shirt with these words on it:   “If Mom says No, go ask Grandpa”!   I think he already knew that.

It was a great Thanksgiving and we have a lot to be thankful for, starting with the nine grandchildren (pictured above).   If I had to live my life all over again, I think I would go with grandchildren before children – they are so much easier.

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AVOID THIS COMPANY

One thing we are not thankful for is roof repair companies.  Or, at least one, the one we used in February to put a new roof over our bedroom.   The company we used was Hanson’s, who offered us the best deal, or so we thought.

A few weeks after their work, we saw a dark shadow over our ceiling in one corner.   And, some days later, the ceiling started caving in.   We then saw the mold that had developed in the attic since their work on the roof.   The mold had to be treated and the ceiling repaired.  The water leak also ruined the heating coils in our ceiling so that source of heat had to be terminated, therefore installation of an electric heater near the floor was necessary.

After sending their foreman to examine it, and him denying it had anything to do with their roof job, they blamed it on evidence of a former leak, which happened apparently before we bought the place.   Funny, it wasn’t wet up there before they gave us a new roof.  And that “evidence” was on the chimney, not the roof – it would be leaking down the chimney if it were leaking at all.  And it wasn’t.  I had called them in because there was what looked like a small leak in a totally different part of the room.

Well, their foreman and his supervisor came back and did a “water test” and said it didn’t leak until they lifted the hose up to the former repair job on the chimney.  Then they left saying it wasn’t their roof that was at fault.  Well, we redid the water test ourselves when they left because we didn’t believe it.   And when we just laid the hosepipe on the roof, water only going on their roof, it POURED in the ceiling.   We called them and when we told them what we did – they immediately offered to give us a new roof – no apparent intent to come back and see again for themselves.   So they “seemed” to accept their responsibility in this matter and I told them there were ceiling repairs and they said they would submit a claim to their insurance company.   We had that hole in our ceiling for almost 6 weeks.  No insurance adjuster was ever sent to see it.   So I got it repaired and sent them the bill.

We could have saved on postage.  They are now saying they will not pay.  Of course, the ceiling is fixed now so nobody else can come out and confirm that it was their fault.  They lied and that’s that.  They said we called them originally because of a leak in the spot that caved in.  Unbelievable!   And because we did not start out this business with Hanson’s assuming they were dishonest shysters and did not document things as we should have, we now have to come up with the $7,348 to repair the shoddy work that originally cost marginally less than that.  In effect, we will have to pay twice for the same work. No wonder America, with only 4% of the world’s population, has over 50% of all the world’s lawyers (which most can’t afford)!

This spoiled our Thanksgiving – their letter of refusal arrived on the Monday of Thanksgiving Week.

It led to the following thoughts.

I remember thirty years ago, when we lived in England, I needed a chiropractor and the nearest one was about 30 miles away, across meandering country roads.   Beautiful scenery, but a long drive.

I was surprised to find the chiropractor was an American.  I asked him why he was living in the UK.   His response was that business in America was crooked.  I came to America’s defense, pointing out that there were crooks in England, too.  “Yes,” he replied, “there are some crooked companies in England, but in America they are all crooked.”

A more authoritative comment comes from a PBS documentary shown about twenty years ago.  The program compared German business practices with American to see what made Germany such a successful exporting country.

.The conclusion was interesting.  When a German company makes a sale, they consider it the start of a beautiful relationship with the customer; in the US, the sale is the end of the relationship.  That’s certainly true of Hanson’s and of some others we have experienced over the years.

When we lived in Ghana, a local businessman there made a similar observation. He bought his veterinary products from Germany because every few months they would send somebody down to make sure everything was going right.   American companies, he said, won’t do that – once the sale is made, they just want to go home.

When PM Margaret Thatcher was once asked to stop foreign nations from selling their cars in the UK; her response was to encourage the foreign car companies, until British companies learned from them how to do better.

It’s all rather sobering, but I would not be doing Hanson’s, or their future clients, any favors by covering up their shoddy work and blatant lying!

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TOTAL MADNESS FROM BRITAIN AND AMERICA

Don’t call female pupils girls or ladies because it reminds them of their gender, head teachers are told

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5104579/Heads-warned-not-use-gendered-terms-schools.html

New York phases out ‘ladies and gentlemen’ greetings on the subway in favor of politically correct gender-neutral terms including ‘passengers’ and ‘riders’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5070439/New-York-phases-ladies-gentlemen.html

Reminder:  “So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.”  (Genesis 1:27)

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Poland’s Christian [Catholic] Government Votes to Phase Out Sunday Shopping So Families Can Spend More Time Together        28 Nov 2017 * Breitbart

Poland’s parliament has voted to slowly begin the process of abolishing Sunday shopping to allow workers to spend more time with their families.

The law has been passed by the sejm — equivalent to the British House of Commons or the U.S. House of Representatives — but must be approved by the Senate and the president, both of which could veto the decision.   Although the major change — which reverses decades of movement on turning Sunday from a holy day of rest into an ordinary day of shopping and work — has been criticised as putting jobs at risk, the government hopes it will improve quality of life for ordinary Poles.

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TEHRAN IS WINNING THE WAR FOR CONTROL OF THE MIDDLE EASTJonathan Spyer, Middle East Forum 11/21

The confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Iran is taking place across a swath of the Middle East in which, over the last decade, states have partially ceased to function — Iraq and Lebanon — or collapsed completely, as in the case of Syria and Yemen.   A war over the ruins has taken place in each country, with Riyadh and Tehran arrayed on opposing sides in all of them.

Throughout the region, the advantage is very clearly with the Iranians.

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IRAN COMPLETES ITS LAND BRIDGE TO THE GOLAN         Jonathan Spyer, Middle East Forum, 11/18

In the east of Syria, the so-called race to Abu Kamal between the US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces and the forces of Iran, the Assad regime and Russia appears to be close to conclusion – in the latter’s favor.   Regime forces moved into the town last Thursday. They were then expelled by an unexpected Islamic State counterattack this week, and have now retreated to positions about two kilometers outside of Abu Kamal.

The Islamic State move, however, has the flavor of a last roll of the dice.   Clearly, the Sunni jihadis will lose the strategic border town in the days ahead.

The US-supported SDF fighters are covering ground rapidly to the north.   But the forward units of the mainly Kurdish force remain about 25 kilometers north of Abu Kamal, in the area of the Kishma oil field.

Hezbollah can now be reinforced by Iran’s other regional clients in a future conflict with Israel. 

Iran is a regional super-power in the Middle East.  Saudi Arabia is engaged in resisting Iran’s hegemony on a number of fronts.   Iran now dominates an arc of Shia Islam which includes Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon – an arc that covers the same territories as the biblical King of the North in Daniel 11.   This would not have been possible without US intervention in Iraq 14 years ago.   Note:  these nations have Russian support.   ISIS, a violent and reactionary force within Sunni Islam, is largely defeated, making the forces of Shia Islam even more powerful.   This poses a serious threat to Israel. MR

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Headline in the Times of Israel:  IRAN VOWS TO PUT EUROPE IN MISSILE RANGE IF THREATENED    (Times of Israel 11/26)

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FRANCE SUBMITS TO TERRORISM, MUSLIM ANTI-SEMITISM  Guy Milliere, Gatestone Institute, 11/28

  • In France, since 2012, more than 250 people were killed by Islamic terrorism -more than in all other European countries combined.
  • No other country in Europe has experienced so many attacks against Jews.   France is a country where Jews are murdered because they are Jews.
  • “Muslim believers know very well what is happening.   Only a minority is violent.   But as a whole, they do not ignore that their birthrate is such that one day, everything here will be theirs.” — Luc Ravel, Archbishop of Strasbourg

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TIME TO DRAIN THE SWAMP – ALSO IN EUROPE                            Geert Wilders, Dutch nationalist politician, 11/26

  • Our democracies in the Western half of Europe have been subverted.  Their goal is no longer to do what the people want.  On the contrary, our political elites often do exactly the opposite. Our parliaments promote open-door policies that the majority of the people reject.  Our governments sell out sovereignty to the EU against the will of the people.  Our rulers welcome ever more Islam, although the majority of the people oppose it.
  • Our democracies have become fake democracies.  They are multi-party dictatorships, ruled by groups of establishment parties…. The establishment parties control everything, not just the politicians in their pay, but also the top brass of the civil service, the mainstream media, even the courts…. They call us “populists” because we stand for what the people want.   They even drag us to court.
  • We need to show that Europe’s streets are our streets, that we want to stay who and what we are, and do not want to be colonized by Islam. Europe belongs to us!

“Next month, I will be visiting Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.  I have been invited to speak to a group of Czech patriots. The Czechs are a freedom loving people.   In 2011, on the occasion of the 100th birthday of Ronald Reagan, they named a street in Prague after this great American president and freedom fighter.

“This fact reminded me of a shameful event in my home town of The Hague, the seat of the Dutch Parliament and the government of the Netherlands.   Look for a Ronald Reagan Street in The Hague and you will find none.   A proposal in 2011 to name a street in The Hague after Reagan ran into fierce political opposition.   Leftist parties, such as Labor, the Greens and the liberal D66 party, argued that naming a street in honor of Reagan would “do the image of the city no good.”   The whole affair ended in a disgraceful political compromise.   Last year, a short stretch of a local bicycle path was named the “Reagan and Gorbachev Lane.”

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UNBELIEVABLE                                                                                                            BBC

Zimbabwe has officially declared 21 February to be Robert Gabriel Mugabe National Youth Day, thereby making the former president’s birthday a public holiday, the Herald newspaper reports.

Mr. Mugabe was the President of Zimbabwe for over 37 years.  Under his period of rule, the country, once one of the most successful economies in Africa, collapsed economically.   The army forced him out of office last week.  Major change, badly needed, does not look likely.   MR

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TIMES HAVE CHANGED

In 1936, King Edward VIII abdicated, choosing the American woman he loved over the throne of what was then the British Empire.  The parliaments of the UK and the Commonwealth Dominions, did not want Edward to marry a woman who still had two living former husbands.   The King, titular Head of the Church of England, could not marry a divorcee.

In 1955, the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret was not allowed to marry Group Captain Townsend, a divorced equerry in the royal household.

Sixty years later, Prince Harry is to marry another divorced American woman, Meghan Markle.   Nobody is ruffled at all by this.  She is also biracial and could, as Ebony magazine pointed out, give birth to a black baby.

Times have certainly changed.   Of course, Britain itself has changed, with one in ten cohabiting couples living with a member of a different ethnic group.

Divorce has become more common and more acceptable, even in the royal family.  Princess Margaret divorced her husband over forty years ago; Princess Anne followed.   Charles and Diana divorced more than twenty years ago.   He went on to marry a divorced woman, Camilla Parker-Bowles, though the wedding was a civil ceremony in a Registry Office.

Having said all the above, the new royal couple seem well suited and very happy.   Ms. Markle, who has been living in Toronto, seemed to understand the importance of the 53-nation Commonwealth and the royal family’s constitutional role within the organization.   This came out during a televised interview with the couple.

She will not carry the title “Princess” as she is not of royal blood.   As Prince William and his wife are the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, so Harry and Meghan will have a similar title.   The wedding is scheduled for May.  It will no doubt lift everybody’s spirits as they go through the challenging process of Brexit.

The latest news on that is the divorce bill.   55 billion euros is being offered by London, but is said to be too little by Brussels.   As the UK has been subsidizing the EU for decades, they shouldn’t have to pay one penny.   But the British government of Theresa May does not have the confidence to stand up to the Bullies of Brussels!

Fortunately, the wedding will not cost the tax-payer anything (except for police security) and should help boost the country’s income through tourism.

 

 

A CALL FROM SINGAPORE

Nestled in the heart of Southeast Asia and just at the tip of the Malaysian peninsula, the island country of Singapore is a melting pot of Chinese, Malay, Indian and Western cultures. The Lion City is one of the world’s most dynamic, vibrant and prosperous nations.

A friend from Singapore called me at the weekend.   Amongst other things we discussed President Trump’s visit to the region, which is now taking place.   He told me that Singaporeans (mostly ethnic Chinese) believe that America is on the way down and China is on the way up.   In other words, the most powerful nation in Asia and the Pacific is now NOT the US, but China.   Every nation in the region is having to come to terms with Chinese domination.

My friend, who is over 80, remembered the events of 1942 that led Singaporeans to realize the British Empire was on its way down.   One of the greatest military defeats in British history was the fall of Singapore on the 15th of February in 1942.   The story is told of Lee Kwan Yew, the first prime minister of Singapore.   While he was a student, the British blew up the causeway that linked the city to the mainland, to delay Japanese forces.   The sound of the explosion could be heard across the island.   When Mr. Lee’s British headmaster came out of the school building and asked him what the noise was, Mr. Lee responded: “It is the sound of the British Empire falling.”

Effectively, it was.   The fall of the British built and developed city started a series of events that led to American domination of Asia and the Pacific.   Now, China’s economic success means Beijing has greater clout in the area than Washington — many nations are looking to Beijing rather than Washington, to secure their future.

I posted an article to my blog in February to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the first time anybody realized that the US had overtaken the United Kingdom as the world’s pre-eminent nation.   It’s all recounted in the book “Picking up the Reins,” by Norman Moss.   It wasn’t until the following year that the term “Leader of the Free World” was applied to the US.   Seventy years later, we find people openly talking about China overtaking the United States. Chinese resentment at US domination is illustrated by an item on today’s BBC World News website.   Apparently, the Chinese use the term “Boss of the World” to describe America.

China isn’t the only power center trying to take over from America. The European Union is also determined to provide an alternative to American hegemony, with Germany’s Angela Merkel now often labeled “the Leader of the Free World.”   Bible students will not be surprised at these developments.

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IRAN – SAUDI STRUGGLE

Keep an eye on the growing Sunni-Shia struggle in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia leads the former and Iran the latter.   The two countries are fighting a proxy war in Yemen.   The latest development was a missile attack on the Saudi capital, fired by Houthi rebels, who are backed by Iran.

Iran also supports Hizbollah in Lebanon, whose prime minister resigned on Friday out of fear that he, like his father, will be assassinated.

From Monday’s Jerusalem Post:  “Saudi Arabia said on Monday that Lebanon had declared war against it because of attacks against the Kingdom by the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah.”

Syria is also caught up in the Sunni-Shia conflict.   Iran supports the Syrian president, Bashir Assad.

The West is solely focused on ISIS, a Sunni Islam group which is fighting Iranian backed forces in Iraq and Syria.   ISIS is re-grouping in a number of countries, claiming to represent and defend Sunnis from the Shi’ite heretics.

It’s all very complicated.   Not at all as simple as TV news depicts.

A new area of conflict is in the Sahara, where the US lost four military personnel last month.   Most attention was focused on President Trump’s call to the young wife of one of the men who died. Little attention has been given to the wider problem of a growing conflict right across the Sahel.

The West seems to think ISIS has been defeated; the reality is that the organization has dispersed and formed new radical terrorist groups in a number of different countries.  ISIS fighters have also been returning home to western nations – we should expect more terrorist attacks following the “defeat” of ISIS.

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WALL STREET’S BREXIT WARNING

Big banks are worried about Brexit.   A group of large financial institutions with big London operations, including JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and HSBC, has told US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross that Britain’s unstable government and slow progress in Brexit planning may force them to start moving thousands of jobs out of  the City in the near future.   The lack of clarity over a transition deal is making them nervous.

Their concerns are unlikely to be assuaged by the latest chaos in Theresa May’s cabinet.   Mrs. May is under pressure to strip two more cabinet ministers of their jobs following separate fiascos involving Priti Patel and Boris Johnson.   And the EU has warned that the UK has less than a month to make concessions on a divorce settlement.   The FT’s editorial outlines how the British government’s flailing at home is translating into weakness abroad: “Allies are increasingly wondering whether Mrs. May’s government has the focus or ability to play Britain’s traditional global position — let alone the enhanced role pledged by Brexit.”   (Financial Times, 11/8)

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TEXAS CHURCH ATTACK

26 people were shot dead in church Sunday, following a man’s argument with his mother-in-law.   Twenty others were injured, some very seriously.

This was the 307th incident of mass murder in the US this year. Today is the 310th days of the year, so, in effect, the US is experiencing an average of one mass attack per day.   A mass murder incident is defined as the murder of four or more people.

No other nation in the world sees so much violence.   Yemen, in a civil war between Shia and Sunni Muslims (see segment above), has the second highest incident rate.   Statistically, you would be safer living in Yemen, than in the United States.

I’ve always believed that people have a right to defend themselves, a right that goes back at least to the time of Henry II in the 12th century and perhaps goes back to the ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom prior to the Norman ascendancy.  The second amendment of the US constitution guarantees that right.   After an attack in London a few weeks ago, I pointed out that if one member of the public, just one, had been carrying a weapon, the terror attack might have been thwarted.

President Trump raised the issue of mental health in the context of mass shootings at a press conference in Tokyo.   Mental health is certainly a major issue.   But easy access to guns, especially by the mentally ill, is also a factor and needs to be addressed.   It’s time for that presidential commission of inquiry into mass gun violence.   Let the public have their say.   They are the ones that are dying, even in church.

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100-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF RUSSIAN REVOLUTION

November 7th is the anniversary of the Russian Revolution that brought the communists to power.   Not surprisingly, Russians are not enthused about the anniversary.   They rejected communism over 25 years ago.

There is still talk of a restoration of the monarchy, though most people do not seem to be in favor and do not expect it to happen.

There are lessons here from both France and Spain, two countries that were once dominated by their respective leaders, Charles de Gaulle and General Franco.   Both were strong men, who were vain enough to think that nobody could possibly replace them after their deaths.   Both men thought that the best way to preserve their nations in the future was through the restoration of their national monarchies.

De Gaulle was a close friend of the Comte de Paris, the descendant of the Orleanist monarch, Louis Phillipe, who ruled France from 1830-1848.   The Comte was aware of de Gaulle’s desire to restore the monarchy.

In 1968, France was rocked by student riots and violence across the country.   DeGaulle presented constitutional reforms (not including a restoration) that were rejected, leading to his resignation as President of France in April, 1969.   He died one year later.   De Gaulle, the inspiration behind the Fifth Republic in 1958, need not have worried  — the Fifth Republic remains to this day.

General Franco of Spain, a fascist dictator, had more time to think about the Spanish succession, proclaiming that his heir and successor was to be Juan Carlos, of the Bourbon line of monarchs. As soon as Franco died in 1975, Juan Carlos was proclaimed king.   Rather than continuing Franco’s conservative ideology, the new King dedicated himself to protecting Spanish democracy, thereby at the same time preserving the monarchy.   He even had the respect and support of Spanish communists.

Vladimir Putin may be thinking along the same lines.   He’s been a very strong leader, with a 90% approval rating at times.   He must be fearful of Russia’s future after he leaves the scene.

The restoration of the Romanov dynasty along Spanish lines, may be just what he’s thinking.   He’s already reviving Russian culture, and has helped the church take center stage.

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SYRIA SIGNS UP TO PARIS ACCORD

The US is now the only country in the world that has not signed up to the Paris climate treaty.   Syria was the only other holdout, but has now signed.

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PARADISE PAPERS SCANDAL

The Anglo-Saxon world loves its scandals, especially when its leaders are exposed.   In this regard, the Paradise Papers did not disappoint.

While TV audiences are focused on who has what and why, it should be emphasized that absolutely no one “exposed” broke the law.  They simply took advantage of legal tax loopholes, just as most people do, only theirs is on a much bigger scale than the average citizen.

The only law-breaking going on here was by the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, which somehow gained access to private financial information.   The paper’s partners in this enterprise included the British Guardian newspaper and the New York Times.  No surprises there.

Another concern is this:   the revelations are the latest “scandal” to undermine our institutions.   As if the Harvey Weinstein and other sexual revelations are not enough, we now have nightly reports that Queen Elizabeth II (and others) have been protecting their assets by moving them beyond the control of national governments.

Times have certainly changed.   Fifty years ago, royal tour-guides would proudly announce that the British monarch was the richest woman in the world.   Now, she’s not even in the top 500 wealthiest people in Britain (J.K. Rowling heads the female list), and people are getting riled about it.

The amount involved was only 10 million pounds ($13 million).

Exactly 100 years after the class warfare of the Russian Revolution, people have learned nothing.   All socialism brought was “equal shares of misery for all” (Margaret Thatcher’s definition).   Do we really want to embrace it again, naively thinking it will improve all our lives?