Tag Archives: Syria

SPRING BREAK

Last week was Spring Break.   We had all nine grandchildren in the house for almost a week.   Sickness struck halfway through and two of them came down with the flu.   So did Grandma.

On the last day, Sunday, our eldest daughter took her four children home to Indianapolis, to be ready for school Monday morning.   For the remainder of the day I was the only functioning adult in the house, with a sick wife (Grandma) and three young children, one of whom is only ten months old.

It was quite a day!

I’m thankful to say that the two oldest boys, 5 and 4, were perfectly well behaved and the baby was no trouble at all.

On the Friday I was able to take my wife to Urgent Care, where they confirmed a diagnosis of influenza.   Hers was a particularly bad strain.   The doctor tactlessly added that it could be very serious “at her age.”   She also added that she would be contagious for five days and should remain in bed.   Just as well – she did not have the strength to move.

Each day of Spring Break, I made it a point to take our four granddaughters out for some fun.   The girls are all 10-12 and are generally happy doing things together.   The first day the local library had a free session called “Game On” where children of their age could come together and play electronic games.

On the Wednesday morning, another library offered a free magic show which was, apparently, very good.   I was there, but I made the mistake of taking one of the 4-year-old boys with me – and he had difficulty sitting still, which meant that I could not sit still, either.   From there, we had to rush back to go to another library for their Spring Carnival, games for children of all ages.

Thursday, the same library offered a Lego afternoon.   I used to play Lego with our children 30+ years ago, but now I find it extremely challenging as all the Lego pieces seem to get under my feet and cause me grievous bodily harm.   So our two daughters took the boys, while I took the girls bowling, followed by milkshakes at Steak and Shake (half price shakes from 2-5).   We had a lot of fun.

On the Friday, our son took all four girls to a bouncy place, while I took Grandma to Urgent Care.   (This was due to the flu, not the grandchildren!)

Why do I mention all this?

Because almost everything was free the entire week.   When you check out the library, there are so many “events” on over Spring Break, none of which cost anything.   Before leaving “Game On” on the Tuesday, I asked two of the girls to check out the DVDs and see what we could take home to watch.   They chose all four “Home Alone” movies.   You didn’t know there were four?   Neither did I, but I spent each evening watching them with the girls and quite enjoyed them. 8-year-old Kevin reminded me of 4-year-old Leeson – Leeson would definitely give any intruders a hard time!   All five boys together are a more effective deterrent than the most vicious Rottweiler.     Again, as with the activities, the movies were free.

So if you are a grandmother about to host nine grandchildren for a week, remember the library.   Even if it’s a place of refuge while you leave the grandkids at home with Grandpa.

I love these weeks when we are all together.   They don’t happen very often.   Which is just as well – with all the “kids” here, I did not find time to write my blog, or even to keep up on the news.   One thing I’ve learned, though, as a grandparent, is to give the grandchildren 100% of my time when they are with us.   Nothing is more important than building good relationships within the family.

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BABY FIRST

Our ten-month-old grandson Hayden is not up to joining in any of the activities his older siblings and cousins are into, but he has taken a decided liking to the “Baby First” channel while he bounces up and down in his bouncer.   The channel is produced with babies in mind – and their parents, who are ready to spend lots of money on that first baby!   They have lots of singing of familiar nursery rhymes, cute little lambs running around on a farm in Wales and endless reruns of “Harry, the Bunny.”   The channel will certainly entertain your baby, but how many grandparents have been driven nuts watching it is what I want to know???

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WARS AND RUMORS OF WARS   (Matthew 24:6)

A more serious matter is the never-ending wars we see each night on television.

Syria and Iraq continue to dominate the news.   It’s difficult to understand the full complexity of the fighting that goes on and on, year after year, in both countries.

The West is appalled that President Assad has dropped chemical weapons on “his own people.”   I should mention that he denies doing anything of the kind and has even asked “where are the dead?” when TV viewers everywhere have witnessed dozens of children convulsing, struggling to breathe and even dying on camera.   Secondly, westerners need to learn that, to Assad, these are not his own people.   His own people are Alawites, who number 11% of Syria’s population.   The chemical weapon attack was on a village in Idlib province, which is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim, with a significant percentage of Christians.

Assad’s wife is from a Sunni background, but she seems to be in denial of everything that’s going on.

We should remember, too, that what’s going on is the direct result of our meddling in the Middle East.   We don’t need Mideast oil any more and Israel can take care of itself.   Why are we there?

The origins of the disaster that is the current Middle East go back a century to the Great War, otherwise known as World War One.  The war led to the collapse of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire, the last Caliphate.   It gave independence, freedom (supposedly) to new nations like Syria and Iraq.   Artificially created and not fully taking into account sectarian boundaries, the result has been a disaster.

Interestingly, a hundred years after the fall of the Ottomans, the present Turkish president seems to want to restore the old empire and is projecting Turkish power into neighboring countries.   He is also seeking more power for himself with a referendum on Sunday.

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VIMY RIDGE

A few days ago, on April 8th, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in France for the centenary commemoration of the battle that was Canada’s coming of age, the Battle of Vimy Ridge, in which thousands of Canadians died and many more suffered serious injury. The PM had this to say:

“One hundred years ago, on a gentle slope in France, the four divisions of the Canadian Corps fought for the first time as one. They were ordinary – yet extraordinary – men, from all corners of the country: Francophone, Anglophone, new Canadians, Indigenous Peoples.

“On Easter Monday, April 1917, battling through snow, sleet, and constant machine gun fire, they broke through an impregnable fortress and achieved a historic victory.   They succeeded where other armies had failed – but at a great cost.   Nearly 3,600 Canadians lost their lives.   Over 7,000 more were wounded. The Battle of Vimy Ridge remains one of the bloodiest battles in Canada’s history.

“Despite these losses, Canadian bravery and ingenuity won the day and led to one of the most decisive victories in the First World War. The innovative fighting techniques used so effectively by our soldiers at Vimy Ridge would contribute to the final Allied victory a year and a half later.”

Mr. Trudeau continued:   “Many of the soldiers wearing the Canadian uniform that day were immigrants to this country.   People of many languages and backgrounds, representing every region in Canada, fought for the values we hold so dear:   freedom, democracy, and peace.   In the words of one veteran:   ‘We went up Vimy Ridge as Albertans and Nova Scotians.   We came down as Canadians.’

“Today, as we gather to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, we remember the thousands of Canadians who gave their lives far from Canada’s shores.   We pay tribute to the 100th anniversary of a pivotal battle that has left an indelible mark on our history.   And we thank every Canadian who has answered the call to serve for their selflessness and sacrifice.”

On the surface, these two paragraphs seem well motivated, but they overlook a simple fact.   Amidst all the talk of people from many languages and backgrounds fighting for Canada is the simple fact that Canada has radically changed.   A century ago Canada was very much a Dominion of the British Empire, sharing the ideals of Great Britain and its other dominions, Australia, New Zealand and, at the time, South Africa.   These nations were committed to freedom and all fought together from Day One of what, at the time, was the greatest war in history.

The nations were bound by a common loyalty to the Crown. Indeed, Prince Charles, the future King of Canada, was present at the same ceremony.   So were both of his sons, who have served in the British military.

What has changed is this:   Canada is now much more multicultural. The very word originated in Canada, coined by a royal commission back in 1971.   Today, immigrants are more likely to come from Africa, Asia and the Middle East, than from Europe.

In the event of another conflict like World War One (or Two), would all these people be so willing to die for the values Canada has traditionally held?

The prime minister’s speech ended with the traditional words used at events commemorating wars:   “Lest we forget.”   Sadly, the contribution made by Britain and the British dominions has been forgotten.

This is also the centenary of America’s entry into world affairs.   The country declared war on Germany on April 6th, 1917.   After the war the US withdrew from further international involvement until 1941.

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DEFINITION OF INSANITY

Stefan Lofven is the Prime Minister of Sweden, the country that witnessed its worst-ever terrorist attack a few days ago when a migrant from Uzbekistan in central Asia drove a truck into a big department store.   Sweden has had the most generous open-door policy in Europe during the migrant crisis.   The prime minister has now said that will change.

But nothing has changed, either in Sweden or anywhere else.   It seems that western politicians are incapable of changing immigration policies.

According to the late Albert Einstein (died 1955), this means that our politicians are mostly mad.   Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” Western nations endure one terrorist attack after another, yet they continue to allow Muslim immigration!

It’s the same on the American side of the Atlantic.   Mark Twain once said:   “Suppose you are an idiot and suppose you are a Member of Congress; but I repeat myself.”

Neither of these two men was addressing Islamic immigration, but what they said is certainly applicable.

So, what should a Christian do?

I Peter 2:17 instructed Christians to “honor the king.”   Today, most countries have presidents, not kings, but the principle still applies.   The Apostle Peter wrote while under the yoke of Rome, an empire that produced the occasional emperor of unsound mind.   In 64 AD, following the Great Fire, which he himself started, an intense persecution of Christians was started by Nero, who blamed the new sect for the destruction of 70% of the imperial city.   Yet Christians were still told to “honor the king.”

Western leaders are certainly guilty of upholding erroneous ideas.   They can even be said to be of unsound mind.   It’s doubtful either Einstein or Twain would alter their famous statements.

In theory they should be voted out of office.   But even when that happens (as with Brexit and Trump), it’s clear that very little is likely to change.

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MORE WARS AND RUMORS OF WAR

>It’s 50 years since the Six-Day War between Israel and its Arab neighbors, a war which ended in a decisive Israeli victory and the fall of Jerusalem to the Israelis.   Russia has now recognized West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, at the same time recognizing East Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent Palestine.    Will the US follow?

>>AFGHANISTAN continues in the news, as the US has dropped its most powerful non-nuclear bomb on an area of the country with a very active ISIS presence.   Three dozen were killed.   Will ISIS be defeated with this more aggressive approach?   If they are, will that be the end of Islamic fundamentalism?   Doubtful.

>>Another war may be brewing in the Far East, as North Korea pursues its nuclear program and threatens the South, Japan and the United States.   Some voices in the US want war with the North.   It should be remembered that, after three years of war from 1950-53, North Korea was not defeated and the US was forced into a stalemate.

>>Libya continues to be engaged in a civil war, which has had a major impact on its economy.   Reports this week are of African migrants being sold in the market-place as slaves, one way for locals to make money.   In an appalling twist, those being sold are giving slave traders their cell phones so that captives can call home to ask for money.   Relatives must listen while their sons and daughters are being tortured.

>>Torture is the best way to describe a recent incident in Detroit, which will undoubtedly become more common with the numbers of Muslims increasing.   A female Muslim Detroit doctor has been charged with performing GFM (Genital Female Mutilation) on two 7-year-old girls, a custom common in some Islamic nations.   No feminists have yet raised their voice to condemn the incident in Detroit.

One person who had this surgery performed on her when she was a child was Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somalian who now lives in the Washington DC area and is constantly warning of the dangers from Islam.   Her latest book is “The Challenge of Diwa.”   Note the following extracted from her book by Giulio Meotti, published by the Gatestone Institute, 4/10:   “According to one estimate, 10−15 percent of the world’s Muslims are Islamists.   Out of well over 1.6 billion, or 23 percent of the globe’s population, that implies more than 160 million individuals.”

>> Headline in today’s MEMRI:   “Women Arrested In Iran For Dressing As Men In Order To Attend Soccer Game; Khamenei Issues Fatwa Against Women Riding Bicycles In Public.”

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GOOD FRIDAY

Today is Good Friday, the day most Christians believe is the day on which Jesus Christ was crucified.   When I was growing up, nothing was open on this day.   We certainly had no school and I remember a discussion with one of my teachers a day or two before in which I asked why  it’s called “Good” Friday.   It was certainly a somber day and we all knew it.

I’ve just returned from the bank and a store.   Both were crowded.

Times have certainly changed.  The only god worshipped in today’s western world is the god of materialism.  Nothing else seems to matter any more.

We would do well to remember Acts 4:12:  “. . . there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”   Having forgotten this, the western world fails to see clearly the threat from Islam, thinking that all religions are equally valid or equally ridiculous, depending on your point of view.

 

 

 

 

 

TRUMP AND MAY’S BIGGEST MISTAKE

President Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May have just made their biggest mistake.

The American president received Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House last week.   At a press conference, he clearly made the German chancellor uncomfortable when he publicly called for Germany to bring its military budget up to the full 2% of GNP agreed on by NATO.   This would raise military spending from 37 billion euros a year to 60 billion.   It would also restore German military might.

Across the ocean, Mrs. May is seeking closer military ties to Germany at the same time as pursuing Brexit.   The idea is to keep Germany close.   It would also contribute to restoring German military might.

British war time leader Sir Winston Churchill promised at the end of World War II that Germany would never rise again; 45 years later British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher opposed German reunification following the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Attitudes change.   It’s now over seventy years since the fall of the Third Reich.   Today’s leaders see Germany as a model democracy and think it will always be that way.

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LONDON TERROR

Mrs. May has other things on her mind right now.   A terrorist attack on Westminster Bridge on Wednesday afternoon left 5 dead, including the terrorist and an unarmed policeman; also 29 hospitalised, seven of them critically.   The terrorist was known to the police as a “radical Islamist.”   No surprise, there.

As the terrorist was “British born,” the implication is that somehow it’s Britain’s fault and that more can be done (costing more, of course) to avoid such incidents in the future.

What will not be considered is this – Islam means “submit;” it’s the exact opposite of “freedom” which is what Britain is all about.   Muslim children raised in Britain will inevitably struggle with internal conflict, unable to reconcile the two opposing ideals.

A few weeks ago the BBC interviewed Somalis on the streets of Minneapolis, asking them how they felt about life in America and related issues.   Clearly better off than they were in Somalia, nevertheless every single one of them said they would rather live in a Muslim country and that America would be a better country if it embraced sharia law!

I first heard the news of the terror attack when I was having lunch with a friend.   A man sitting alone at the next table was checking his mail on his phone and suddenly exclaimed “there’s been a terrorist attack in London.”   He had no idea I was from the UK.   When I told him, his first question was “why don’t they arm the police?   How can a policeman defend himself when attacked like this?”

I explained that one third of all the police are now armed and you see a lot of them in London, protecting the main tourist sights.   But Wednesday’s murder shows that every policeman needs to be able to defend himself, even if it’s only with a stun gun.

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BREXIT MOVING AHEAD

Mrs. May has also announced that she will invoke Article 50 of the Treaty of Rome on March 29th.   This will formally begin Britain’s exit from the European Union.   Failure to reach agreement on terms within a two-year period will automatically mean a “hard Brexit,” with Britain simply leaving the EU and signing trade deals around the world with other countries.   There would be no trade deal with the 27 remaining EU countries.

Such a failure would likely impact any military agreement between Germany and the UK.   It would be hard for the two countries to maintain a good friendship when they cannot even reach an agreement on future trade.

The formal triggering of Article 50 will put a dampener on celebrations in Rome, for the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome.   All 27 leaders of the EU will be there – Mrs. May will not be attending.   Interestingly, all 27 leaders will also be meeting with the pope.

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SCOTTISH REFERENDUM #2

The Scottish leader, Nicola Sturgeon, continues to mimic a “Rottweiler.”   With her teeth firmly latched onto Mrs. May’s pants, she will not let go of her demand for a second referendum on Scotland’s independence.   (If the vote goes against her, she will ask for a third and a fourth, until she gets what she wants!)

Scotland depends heavily on subsidies from England.   Ms. Sturgeon should concentrate first on improving the nation’s finances, showing that Scotland can go it alone.   Then she could go back to the Scottish electorate and claim an independent Scotland would do better on its own.

But that’s not what’s happening.   Rather, Scotland is hoping Germany will come to its rescue.   Edinburgh has even opened a trade mission in Berlin (whisky for cars?).

Don’t get me wrong.   I’m not trying to make light of a serious situation.   The United Kingdom is better with Scotland.   It would be a real shame if England’s northern neighbor pulled out after more than 300 years of unity within one nation.

It would also present a potentially serous security issue if Germany replaced England as Scotland’s benefactor.   Scotland’s independence would be compromised — the Irish parliament already finds it cannot agree on a budget without Berlin’s agreement.

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1400 YEARS OF SECTARIAN CONFLICT

There’s a big battle going on in Mosul between ISIS and government forces.   Optimism has been expressed on the imminent defeat of the terror organization.

Overlooked is the fact that Shia militias are operating in Iraq, without restraint.   The government is majority Shia.   Many Sunnis identify with ISIS.   If the terrorists are defeated, another organization (perhaps worse than ISIS) will arise to protect the Sunnis from the Shia.

Western countries, led by the US, have been sucked into the ancient Sunni-Shia conflict in the Middle East.   Whereas the West sees things ideologically, Middle Easterners see the situation from a sectarian viewpoint.   To us, ISIS is bad because it’s a violent terrorist organization; to Sunni Muslims living in a majority Shia country, ISIS is their protector.   To the Sunnis, this is also America’s fault – until the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the country was dominated by Sunnis. They lost out when America came in!

There’s two lessons here for the West – 1) Get out of the Middle East and stay out!   2) Stop importing the region’s sectarian conflicts through immigration policies that do not take into account national security.

In other words, let’s get back to the pre-1914 Middle East, before the war that brought down the Ottoman Empire and led to the fragmentation we now see in the region.   The war led to increased British dominance of the region, and now American domination.   It’s a mess.   It’s time to get out.

On another note – why is the US getting involved in Yemen, another territory witnessing increased fighting between Sunni and Shia?  A US Navy Seal was killed there last month in a raid by American forces.

The Sunni-Shia conflict has gone on since the 7th century, almost seven times as long as the United States has existed as a nation.   Do we really think that our involvement is going to end the conflict between the two major branches of Islam?   Do we really think that moving Shia and Sunni from the Middle East to the US (and Europe) will suddenly make them love each other?   After the London attack on Wednesday, one security expert interviewed mentioned that the UK knows of 850 British passport holders, fighting with ISIS in Iraq and Syria. If they are British raised, why are they still identifying with Sunni Islam and anxious to fight Shia Muslims?   It’s a question that needs to be addressed.

It’s just been announced that the perpetrator of the London attack was Kent-born and raised Khalid Masood, aged 52.   He was the son of immigrants and  a convert to Islam.

It should also be noted that the perpetrator was unusually old for a terrorist.

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If you can find it on pbs.org, this week’s Frontline examined the rise of the Shia militias in Iraq and the (Shia) government’s failure to address the problem.

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ANOTHER BLESSING OF BRITISH RULE

“Among some contemporary Israelis the British Mandate has come to be viewed nostalgically.  Although Palestine did not have the elephants, maharajahs and tigers of the Indian Raj, the same culture of Highland reels, polo and pink gins in the King David Hotel flourished.  So did an incorruptible civil service, possibly a novelty in the region.”  (‘Blood and Rage”, by Michael Burleigh, 2009, page 89)

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THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS

A few days ago a friend gave me a copy of the Seventh Day Adventist magazine, “Amazing Facts.”   The cover story was titled:  “The Power of Forgiveness.”   Forgiveness is sadly lacking, even amongst Christians.   Church organizations often find it hard to forgive, so how can they teach their members to forgive others?

Yet our eternal life depends on it.

When the Apostle Peter asked Jesus Christ how often should he forgive his brother, Peter suggested that seven times would be enough; the Messiah’s response was “seventy times seven”, meaning an unlimited number of times (Matthew 18:21-22).

Jesus expounded on one of the points in His model prayer, adding:

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”   (Matthew 6:14-15)

If Christians always practiced forgiveness, we would no doubt have more Christians.

Perhaps, given time, even the Muslims would follow and learn to forgive a 1400-year-old schism.

 

 

 

 

 

RUSSIA AND THE MIDDLE EAST

putin

While US media has been focussed on alleged Russian hacking of the US electoral process, Vladimir Putin’s Russia has strengthened its role in the Middle East.

The morning that America suffered a major setback in the Middle East, American news networks led on two deaths – those of actresses Carrie Fisher and her mother, Debbie Reynolds.   Tragic though these deaths were, developments in the Middle East put America where Great Britain was exactly six decades ago.

Before World War Two, the British Empire was the dominant power in the region.   Britain withdrew from Israel in May of 1948. Immediately, the Jewish nation was invaded by five neighboring Arab nations.   Miraculously, Israel survived. In those early days, it was not helped by the United States.

In 1952, as a direct consequence of defeat against Israel, Egypt’s King Farouk was overthrown by the military.   The new leaders soon seized the Anglo-French Suez Canal.   Together with Israel, these countries invaded Egypt but were soon stopped by US President Eisenhower.   This single event led directly to the dismantling of the British Empire.   In 1958 the pro-British King of Iraq was overthrown.   Britain was losing its remaining influence in the area. The country fought a war against rebels in Aden, withdrawing from the protectorate in 1967.

It was a gradual decline, with one setback after another.   Now, the UK does not play any major role in the Middle East.

Since Britain, America has been the dominant power in the region. During the time of the Soviet Union, the US and the USSR were rivals in the area, with Moscow backing Egypt and Syria.   Later, Egypt switched sides and allied itself with the United States, but Moscow retained its influence in Syria.   Iran was in the US sphere of influence until the Shah was overthrown in 1979.

The region has seen never-ending turmoil since the fall of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire after World War One.   That turmoil shows no sign of ending.

The recent war in Iraq has left a big mess in the region.   At its root is the almost 1,400 year sectarian conflict between the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam. Until the US invasion of Iraq, the country was dominated by Sunni Muslims, even though the majority of people were Shia Muslims (the reverse is the case in Syria).   Following the US backed election in Iraq, the majority Shia now rule the country. This development has altered the religious balance in the region and is causing repercussions everywhere.   ISIS was formed to protect Sunni Muslims from the now dominant Shia.

In Syria, Sunnis have been trying to overthrow the Alawite (Shia) minority regime of President Assad for five years.   Enter Moscow. Russia’s backing of the Syrian president has enabled Assad to win. The US showed a great deal of weakness, refusing to get involved even when the Syrian government crossed the line and used chemical weapons on its own citizens.   Now, after months of fighting in Aleppo, the biggest city of the country, Assad is firmly in power and Russia is sponsoring “peace talks” with the rebel factions in the country.   The US is not invited to the peace talks. Russia now controls Syria.   To accomplish this, the country needs Turkey’s help. The two are pushing for peace in the country. Turkey, the second most powerful military power in NATO, is now working with the Russians to bring peace to the Middle East.

That’s two set-backs for Washington in just a few days.

A third set-back is in Israel.   The outgoing administration in Washington did not veto the latest UN vote against Israel, condemning the country for building new settlements for Jewish settlers in the West Bank.   Friction between the US and the only western style democracy in the region is unsettling, to say the least. This set-back may only be temporary as a new President takes over in the US in just three weeks, but that gives a few days for further negative developments.   Even the British have criticized America’s condemnation of Israel.   The State Department seems set on causing rifts with US allies in the final days of the current Administration.

Keep in mind, too, that Syria borders Israel on the Golan Heights.   What happens in Syria may affect Israel.   Perhaps that’s why Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went to Moscow in June, the fourth time in a year that he sat down with President Putin to discuss the situation in the Middle East.

The tables have been turned once again in the region.   Over sixty years ago, the UK was the dominant power in the region; since then, it’s been the US.   But now Russia is arguably the dominant power in the area.   The Russians are in alliance with the Shi-ite Muslims in Iran and Syria; they are also working with Sunni Turkey, which ruled the whole area prior to 1919.   At the same time, it seems that Israel’s prime minister is more comfortable with Putin than with Obama, with whom he’s had a serious exchange of heated words in recent days.

There’s even a fourth development that puts Russia ahead. Following the hacking scandal, President Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the US; President Putin made it clear that he will not expel any Americans. This is a triumph for Putin in the propaganda war with America.

What lies ahead?   Remember that the Middle East is the primary focus of Bible prophecy with Jerusalem at the epicenter.

In the nineteenth century, there was no indication that the Jews were about to become an independent nation again.  Their period of self-rule ended with the Romans before the time of Christ.  Their rebellion against the Romans in the first century AD led to the Diaspora, a dispersion that scattered the Jewish people throughout the Roman Empire and left them scattered until fairly recently.   Bible prophecy showed that the Jewish nation would be restored and that happened in 1948.

Exactly a century ago, British and Australian forces entered Jerusalem in the continuing war with the Ottoman Turks.   At this point in time, a Jewish nation became possible.   The British were given a mandate to administer Palestine by the League of Nations.   This was an impossible task as Palestinians and Jews clashed repeatedly.   Eventually, the League’s successor, the United Nations, divided the territory up between Jews and Palestinians, the latter never accepting their loss of land.

 

 

A RAPIDLY CHANGING WORLD

refugee-screening

It’s not just the US that is in transition. Take a look at what’s happening elsewhere around the world. 

The year That May Decide Europe’s Fate

2017 will be the most important year yet for the continuity of the eurozone as political and economic risk reaches the bloc’s very core in Germany, France and Italy. These countries not only have the largest economies in Europe, but they are also the main forces driving the process of European integration.  If a nationalist party gains power in France or Italy, the eurozone’s days could be numbered. (Stratfor, 12/16)

Middle East

In this world, it is often dangerous to be an enemy of the United States, said Henry Kissinger in 1968, but to be a friend is fatal . . . So it is today with Aleppo, where savage reprisals against U.S.-backed rebels are taking place in that hellhole of human rights.” (“Lessons from Aleppo – for Trump”, Pat Buchanan, 12/15/16)

Trump’s new US envoy to Israel seeks Jerusalem base

US President-elect Donald Trump has chosen right-winger David Friedman as America’s next ambassador to Israel.  The 57-year-old lawyer is strongly critical of the long-held US goal of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He also supports Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank, which the Obama administration considers an “obstacle to peace.”  A liberal Jewish group opposed his nomination. Conservatives welcomed it.  Mr. Friedman said he looked forward to working “from the US Embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem,” a statement that will anger Palestinians   (BBC)

ISIS leader in first interview:

“To behead an animal, it would be difficult; with enemies of Allah, it is a pleasure.” (Daily Mirror, London)

Deadliest Church Attack

The worst attack on Egypt’s Christian minority in recent years occurred  Sunday, December 11, 2016. St. Peter Cathedral in Cairo, packed with worshipers celebrating Sunday mass, was bombed; at least 25 churchgoers, mostly women and children, were killed and 65 severely wounded. As many of the wounded are in critical condition, the death toll is expected to rise.

As usual, witnesses say that state security was not present, and that police took an inordinate amount of time to arrive after the explosion.  Preliminary investigations point to a bomb placed inside an unattended woman’s purse on one of the rear pews of the women’s section.

Mutilated bodies were strewn along the floor of the cathedral. “I found bodies, many of them women, lying on the pews. It was a horrible scene,” said one witness. (“Egypt’s deadliest church attack,” by Raymond Ibrahim, 12/12/16, Gatestone Institute).

1000 Radical Muslims Protest in London, Call for the Return of the Islamic Caliphate (PJ Media 12/16/16)

More Muslims Settle In Michigan

“Activists to Trump: Keep letting refugees into Michigan, US”

“Trump will have wide-ranging powers in deciding  who to let in, or keep out, of the country. But it’s a move that could have deep reverberations in Michigan, which has welcomed more Syrian and Iraqi refugees than just about any other state in the nation.

“In the federal fiscal year that ended September 30, Michigan took in 1,374 Syrian refugees, second only to California.  Additionally, 1,119 Iraqis as families fled civil war in the Middle East. Overall, the U.S. took in about 22,500 people from Syria and Iraq that year – a sizeable number, but far less than those being resettled in parts of Europe and Turkey out of millions displaced by Syria’s civil war.”

On a local level:  ”Lansing took in some of those Syrian and Iraqi refugees. There were 56 Syrians and 46 Iraqis among the 776 people from the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia resettled in Lansing by St. Vincent Catholic charities in the 2015-16 fiscal year . . .”   (Lansing State Journal, Sunday)

White Americans Dying Off

A rapidly aging white population and fast-growing younger minority groups are speeding demographic changes across the nation, hastening a political divide likely to have long-term ramifications.

The percentage of the U.S. population that is white has decreased from 79.6 percent in 1980 to 61.9 percent in 2014.  The percentage of Latino-Americans has increased from 6.4 percent to 17.3 percent over the same time period, while both the African-American and Asian-American populations have grown, too.

There are growing signs that the rate of change is increasing.  The number of non-Hispanic whites who died in 2014 outpaced the number of white births in 17 states, according to a new analysis from the University of New Hampshire.  That’s the largest number of states to experience a natural decrease in the white population in American history.   (“Aging white population speeding diversity,” The Hill, 12/2))

Governments Fail To Protect Citizens Against Muslim Invaders

“Some scandals are so massive that they’re simply hard to believe.  As many as one million white English children may have been the victims of Muslim rape gangs, better known as grooming gangs, in towns up and down Great Britain.

Policy analyst George Igler says, “When you encounter an issue that is just so unbelievable, just so outside your frame of reference and understanding, the immediate human reaction is just  to not believe it at all.”

Perhaps even harder to believe is that while there have been prosecutions, the British government has still not stopped this criminal activity.

Easy Targets

Former Home Secretary and parliament member Jack Straw once said, “There’s a particular problem involving Pakistani heritage men who target young, vulnerable, white English girls.”  He also said these Pakistani heritage men view white English girls as “easy meat.”

This is when some shout ‘racism,’ but here are the facts:  calculations based on convictions show that a British Muslim male is 170 times more likely to be a part of a sex grooming gang than a non-Muslim.  And there are no recorded instances of non-Muslims doing this to Muslim girls as part of a criminal enterprise.  In one local jurisdiction, it was estimated that six out of seven Muslim males either knew about, or were part of, a grooming gang.

Igler says, “What you do not have is any example of non-Muslim men targeting Muslim girls for this organized form of abuse.  So, the argument that this crime exists everywhere is not only false, but is being deliberately cultivated by the media and by the government inquiry that is kicking the can down the road.”   (CBN)

 

 

WHAT’S ALEPPO?

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Gary Johnson is the leader of the Libertarian Party, a third party in the United States.   Polls showed the party had 9% support a few days ago – before Mr. Johnson made a big boo-boo on nationwide television.   When asked what he would do about Aleppo, he looked bewildered and asked the anchor:  “What’s Aleppo?”  Aleppo, you will remember, is Syria’s second biggest city and has been devastated in the country’s never-ending civil war.   Tens of thousands of refugees have been fleeing the city and the country, heading mostly for Europe.

It’s been big news – and Mr. Johnson was unaware of it!

Sadly, there will be many others in the country who are just as ignorant of the rest of the world.

I’m often amazed at how many people do not want to know what’s going on in the world.   Even Christians have a problem in this regard, despite what Jesus Christ said in Matthew 24:42:  “Watch therefore for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.”  The chapter answers the question from the disciples:  “Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be?  And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (verse 3)

From other scriptures we know that the Middle East and Europe play a key role in world events.   Christians especially should be aware of what is happening in these two areas of the world, but too often they are not.   Sadly, some just do not want to know.

“. . . and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”  (Mark 4:19)

Mr. Johnson’s comment (or lack of comment) may have ended his presidential ambitions, which did not have much hope in the first place; but he’s not the only candidate aspiring to the presidency who is ignorant of international affairs.

Donald Trump’s comments on NATO could mean the end of an alliance that has guaranteed peace for the West since World War II; while Mrs. Clinton’s assurance that America is the “indispensable” nation overlooks the fact that America’s preeminence did not begin until after World War II.   Before that the world got along fine without the US and could do so again if the country pursued an isolationist course.

Next week, Jean Claude Juncker, the former prime minister of Luxembourg and now President of the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, lays out his plan for a European military.   The British were very much against this, seeing it as a threat to NATO.   But the British are no longer members of the EU. The remaining 27 members of the Union are now free to pursue their own combined military force, which has the potential to rival America’s.   The EU remains, even without the UK, the world’s biggest economy and, through trade, has greater economic power around the world than the US does.

Inevitably, an EU military force will be led by Germany, the most powerful economy in Europe.

While Americans remain preoccupied with their election, they may not have noticed a significant victory for the extreme right in last Sunday’s state election in Angela Merkel’s home state.   Her party came in third after the socialists and the fairly new anti-immigrant party known as the Alternative for Deutschland (AfD), which some claim is “neo-Nazi.”

“A nationalist, anti-immigration party performed strongly in a state election Sunday in the region where German Chancellor Angela Merkel has her political base, overtaking her conservatives to take second place amid discontent with her migrant policies.

The three-year-old Alternative for Germany, or AfD, won 20.8 percent of votes in the election for the state legislature in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Merkel’s Christian Democrats polled 19 percent, their worst result yet in the state.

The center-left Social Democrats, who led the outgoing state government in a coalition with the conservatives, remained the strongest party with 30.6 percent support.” (ABC News website, 9th September)

The successful vote for Brexit in the UK in June was motivated partly by anti-immigrant feeling.   AfD’s success in Germany is due to the same problem.   Next year’s federal elections in Germany are likely to reinforce the trend. In France next year a victory is predicted for their anti-immigrant party.   The US may see the same in November.

Voters throughout the western world are waking up to the twin threats from globalization and immigration, which together threaten their way of life.

At the same time there are increasing fears of further terrorism from radical Islamists.   Europe is being invaded by hundreds of thousands of potential terrorists, mostly from ISIS areas of influence.  Could this be the push by the king of the South as described in Daniel 11?   The only way to stop this invasion may be for the new European Army to invade the Middle East and stabilize the failed states of Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, as the King of the North hits back.

The changes in Europe will affect the Middle East, the home countries of many of the recent refugees arriving at European borders.

The Visegrad Group is made up of four eastern European countries, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.  These four are against the massive immigration that has been favored by Angela Merkel.  The four are working together to prevent further invasion from the Mideast by Islamic “refugees,” many of whom, it turns out, are actually from west Africa.   Could these four countries be the nucleus of the eastern leg of the revived Roman Empire prophesied by the prophet Daniel in chapter two of the Book of Daniel?

The developments listed above all have two things in common – I have heard nothing about any of them on the main American television news programs.   They are not considered important.  The US election gets priority.  Secondly, they are all of significance when it comes to biblical prophesies relating to Europe.  Christians can be forgiven for being ignorant of them.

Having said that, Aleppo has received some attention on national news programs.   Clearly, not everyone wants to watch!

CATCHING UP

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

Our lives are dominated by medical concerns at the moment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TERROR IN EUROPE

 

Rouen priest

We’re back from our family visit to England.   We had a great time with my brothers and their families.   It would be wonderful to do it more often.

It was an interesting time to be there.   Just over a week after we arrived, the Daily Mail newspaper carried the banner headline: “Another day, yet another terror attack.”  A number of attacks on French and German targets took place while we were on the other side of the Atlantic.

An attack on foreign tourists in London on Wednesday evening resulted in the death of a 64-year-old American lady.   As with some of the incidents in France and Germany, terrorism was not blamed. Rather, the perpetrator, a Norwegian of Somali ancestry, had some “mental issues.”   The majority of British people do not accept this, pointing out that the attacker is a Muslim.   It turns out that he has “recommended jihad terror books,” according to one source quoted on the Fox News website this afternoon.

Governments have no idea what to do.   At the same time, the media does not understand what is happening – every tragic event is either excused or seen through the prism of political correctness.  There remains no comprehension that the West is under attack from Islam, as it has been a number of times in history.

The goal is the conquest of the West – the security situation can only get worse.

Speaking on Thursday July 28th, Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, clearly does not see any connection between her open door policy toward refugees and the recent terror attacks, at least two of which were perpetrated by new arrivals into the country.   Such blindness defies all logic.   It’s the same in France. And in the United States, for that matter, where the Obama Administration has repeated its plan to allow 10,000 Syrian refugees into the country, in spite of fears of terrorism.   Perhaps the president is trying to atone for letting Syria down in the first place!

My favorite historian, Niall Ferguson, a Scot who has lived in the US for some years, tweeted the following yesterday:  “The next POTUS needs a Council of Historical Advisers to help the United States of Amnesia learn from the past.”   He added the famous quote:  “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”   The United States of Amnesia is a good one and totally appropriate.   Mr. Ferguson is not likely to be aware that many believe America’s biblical name to be “Manasseh,” which means “causing to forget.”

ISIS has been behind 141 terror attacks in the last 30 days, yet the President and Secretary of State say we have them on the run.   In addition, there have been other non-ISIS attacks, like the young man in Munich who killed 9 people, including seven teenagers, at a MacDonald’s in a Mall in the German city.   He was German born but of Iranian descent. A shi’ite Muslim, he’s not likely to have been influenced by ISIS, but he was still a Muslim.

It has become apparent that French security services are lacking when it comes to preventing attacks.  How could a large truck enter a vacation area in Nice and mow down 84 people, including ten children?   A few well-placed concrete blocks would have prevented the attack.   Apparently, there are six security agencies operating in France and they don’t tend to co-operate.   The country urgently needs an MI6 or a Department of Homeland Security, to bring all the agencies under one security umbrella.

So now all four major western powers have been attacked – the US, UK, France and Germany.   The last two have elections next year. Fear of further attacks could bring more right-wing parties to power. In turn, this could lead to a change of policy.   Instead of allowing in unlimited numbers of migrants, some of whom are inclined toward terrorism, borders may close and countries start hitting back.

Professor Samuel Huntington predicted over twenty years ago a “coming clash of civilizations” between Islam and the post-Christian West.  This is what we see developing now.

The biblical book of Daniel prophesied the same development 2,500 years ago.   In chapter 11 we read of the King of the North and the King of the South.   These were two dynasties that succeeded Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC.   These two powers frequently warred against each other.   Each time they did so, the Jews were caught in the middle.

The prophecy is that today’s modern successors, Europe and the Islamic world, (North and South), will clash.  You can read about this beginning in verse 40:   “At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through.”

An attack on July 25th was of particular interest.   It was the first time the Church was attacked.   An elderly Catholic priest in a village near Rouen had his throat slit while officiating at mass.   His two killers got up and preached a sermon in Arabic.   They were later shot by the police.

The pope did not respond with any threats.  He did say “we are at war,” but the war he was referring to was a vague war on poverty and deprivation.   Calling on Europe to open its borders further, the pontiff seemed as clueless as many politicians in his response, referring to Islam and Christianity as “religions of peace.”

These two “religions of peace” have warred against each other on and off throughout history.   In 1095, also in northern France, Pope Urban II called on European leaders to launch “a crusade” against Islam, in defense of Christians in the Holy Land.   The Crusades lasted two centuries.   Their legacy remains with us to this day. Further conflict came in the 16th and 17th centuries.  Renewed conflict between the two religions could erupt again if Islamists keep provoking the Church.

It’s not just the “United States of Amnesia” that needs some historical advisors.   Every government in western Europe, every president and prime minister and even the pope could all do with some history lessons.  They need to see Islam in its historical setting to learn that the religion is expansionist – imperialist, in fact, and that the West is now at war with Islam, even though few seem to realize it.