Tag Archives: Vladimir Putin

SYRIAN WITHDRAWAL RISKS ISIS REBOUND

U.S. Soldiers observe Turkish forces in the distance while on patrol outside Manbij, Syria, August 7, 2018.  These independent, coordinated patrols are to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS in the region. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Nicole Paese)

Wednesday US President Donald Trump announced that America had beaten ISIS and would soon depart from Syria.   The decision involves 2,200 US military personnel.   The news that ISIS had been beaten came as a surprise to allies and enemies alike.

Later in the day, the following was posted by germanforeignpolicy.com:

(Own report) – “German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas’ brief visit to Baghdad is accompanied by reports that the IS militia (Islamic State) is regaining strength.   Maas was in the Iraqi capital yesterday for talks with Iraq’s new Prime Minister to emphasize Berlin’s push for obtaining stronger influence in Iraq.   He also promoted a billion-euro deal with Siemens and listened to his Baghdad counterpart’s call for Iraqi refugees to return to their homeland.   According to reports, Iraqi authorities are not only responsible for the slow reconstruction of Sunni regions, but Sunnis are being also detained arbitrarily, tortured or condemned to death without proof of guilt. “This is not just revenge on the IS,” explained a senior intelligence officer, “this is revenge on Sunnis.”   Observers warn that this will refill the ranks of the still existing IS in clandestinity, which has again “taken the offensive.””

“As Christmas and the New Year approach, Islamic State (ISIS) supporters have begun to produce posters threatening terror attacks against Christians and inhabitants of Western countries during the holiday season.   Some of the posters threaten impending attacks, particularly by lone operatives, as retaliation for ongoing airstrikes on the organization’s strongholds in eastern Syria, by the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.   Others warn Westerners not to leave their homes on Christmas, while some posters specifically threaten attacks in New York City and London.”   (MEMRI, 12/20)

President Putin praises move to withdraw from Syria, saying that there is no need for US troops to be in the country.   So, why do Russian troops need to be there?

Two headlines from Thursday’s Wall StreetJournal:

“US Pullout could boost ISIS in Syria.”                                                         “Quick exit would add to struggles of Kurdish-led force fighting militant group.”

Additionally, President Trump is to pull 7,000 troops out of Afghanistan.

TWO FOREIGN GIRLS KILLED BY ISIS IN MOROCCO:   Two Scandinavian tourists, aged 24 and 28, were beheaded in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains by men claiming allegiance to ISIS.

BREAKING NEWS: (Friday AM)

ISIS threatens Drone Attack on New York City 

ISIS has issued a chilling new threat to plague the US and the EU with drone attacks.   It comes after a drone near London’s Gatwick Airport caused travel chaos with hundreds of flights cancelled.  

The extremist group widely used drones bought over the counter when it was defending its so-called Caliphate in Syria and Iraq.   Some were used for spy missions while others were adapted to drop grenades and bombs.

Gun cops deployed at Gatwick are continuing to work with elite Army troops and MI5 spooks as they hunt the drones and last night said shooting them down was a “tactical option.”   The saboteur has been playing cat-and-mouse with cops after shutting down Britain’s second busiest airport by drones over the runway 50 times since Wednesday night.  Sharpshooters are today continuing to try to bring down the device – while MI5 spooks were called in to track down the suspect.   Experts say the skilled drone operator – feared to be a lone-wolf green protester – could be controlling the industrial scale craft from up to five miles away.  (Similar claims are in UK tabloids, The Sun and Daily Mail)

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FOUR-YEAR DROUGHT PLUNGES CENTRAL KAROO FARMERS INTO FINANCIAL DISTRESS

CAPE TOWN – Farmers in the central Karoo say they are in financial distress due to a four-year drought.  Farmer’s organisation, Agri Central Karoo, says it’s the worst and longest drought in living memory.   Producers have been unable to grow crops or feed for their livestock.   Agri Central Karoo manager Dêan Gous says the region has only been receiving light rain of two to three millimetres at a time.   He says downpours of at least 20 millimetres are needed.  Gous says farmers are forced to buy expensive feed, while many are being turned away by banks and the co-op.  “My main concern is the people’s cash flow.  We’re past the stage of banks helping us, so now people must dip into their investment money and pension funds.”  He welcomes the Western Cape government’s intervention and drought relief but warns that production cannot be sustained.  “This is not enough . . .  so the main thing is people are decreasing their numbers on the shelves.”  (https://ewn.co.za/2018/12/21/four-year-drought-plunges-central-karoo-farmers-into-financial-distress)

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30,000 JOBS LOST IN WESTERN CAPE AGRICULTURE SECTOR DUE TO DROUGHT — The Western Cape Economic Opportunities Department says the drought has had a massive impact on the agricultural sector

CAPE TOWN – The Western Cape Economic Opportunities Department says the drought has cost about 30,000 jobs in the agriculture sector.  That is 1.5% of all jobs in the Western Cape. Agri Central Karoo says the area is experiencing the worst and longest drought in living memory.  Farmers say they are finding it impossible to farm due to low rainfall. The Western Cape Economic Opportunities Department says the drought has had a massive impact on the agricultural sector. MEC Beverley Schäfer says it has a large impact on jobs and economic growth in the province:   “We’ve already seen a R5.9 billion drop in gross value add, which is about 25% of the value of agriculture production and a 20% decrease in production in general.”   Agri Central Karoo said on Thursday that due to the drought farmers are unable to grow crops or feed their flocks.   Agri Central Karoo manager Dêan Gous says more assistance is needed from the government. Schäfer says they are doing their best and adds that since November support to the farmers in the Central Karoo has increased.   Schäfer says the government is supporting 563 farmers and is spending R8.1 million per month.  (12/21)

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Russia’s Vladimir Putin warns about growing threat of nuclear war

If the US puts intermediate-range missiles in Europe, Russia will take countermeasures, Putin said at his end-of-year press conference.  He warned the “threshold” for the use of nuclear weapons was getting lower.

An attempt to lower the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons could potentially result in an all-out nuclear war, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned during his traditional end-of-year press conference on Thursday.  It is the first such event since the beginning of Putin’s new presidential term in May and the fourteenth for him in total.

“There is a tendency to lower the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons,” he said.  “In the West, there is this idea of using low-yield nuclear weapons.  The use of such weapons could lead to a global disaster,” the Russian leader stressed.

Putin pointed at the US intention to withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.   He said that if the US puts intermediate-range missiles in Europe, Russia will be forced to take countermeasures.

The Russian leader also warned against developing tactical nuclear warheads and conventional long-range ballistic missiles.   According to him, both are dangerous, because they increase the threat of an incidental nuclear war.

“We are currently observing the collapse of the international system for containing weapons,” he added.

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A global credit ‘heart attack’ is just months away

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

20 December 2018 — 11:36am                                                                   Surging borrowing costs for companies in the US and Europe threaten a recession within months and resemble events leading up to the global credit “heart attack” in August 2007.

Risk spreads on American high-yield debt have jumped since early October.   Credit experts say this is the delayed fallout from months of double-barrelled monetary tightening by the US Federal Reserve.

The US central bank is raising interest rates and at the same time shrinking its balance sheet by $US50 billion  a month, perhaps draining more liquidity from global financial markets than intended.

Simon Ward from Janus Henderson said his leading indicator for the health of US companies – the cash supply available to non-financial business (M1) – has turned starkly negative for the first time since the Lehman crisis.

This points to a sharp slowdown next year. “When this measure of cash contracts it means companies plan to cut back,” he said.

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The deal with the EU will turn us into captives                                 By Boris Johnson 19 Nov 2018 — 11:45 PM

Well, it seems my predictions of last week were, if anything, too optimistic.  If MPs vote for this deal, we are bowing our neck to the yoke.

We are preparing to take colonial rule by foreign powers and courts. We are handing over colossal sums of money for nothing.   We are giving up the hope of new free-trade deals. We are giving up the right to vary our laws.   We are betraying Leavers and Remainers alike: we are poised to abandon any UK influence in Brussels, and yet we are signally failing to take back control.

In fact, we are surrendering control to the EU – and this 585-page fig-leaf does nothing to cover the embarrassment of our total defeat.

Boris Johnson argues that the Brexit deal will turn Britons into captives.

In the protocol on Northern Ireland, there is a note almost of malice, as though the EU is punishing us by the surgical severing of part of the UK.   From one convoluted paragraph to the next, you can follow the plot to amputate Northern Ireland and keep it in the EU – run by the EU, but with no influence in Brussels except via Dublin.

Today, No 10 continues to brief that there can still be a future Canada-style free-trade deal and that one day we can still take back control of our laws and our tariffs. But from the Treasury you hear a very different message: that this is the end-state providing the blessed “certainty” that business has been craving.

They can’t both be right – so which is it?   Is the Government serious about staying in the customs union and single market, or is it serious about democracy, free trade and Brexit?   After two years of this tragedy, I think we all know the answer to that one.

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YELLOW VEST RIOTS SPREAD

  • Across Western Europe, ordinary citizens feel ignored and condescended to by their political, business, academic, and media elites.   Against the will of most of these citizens, their leaders are gradually surrendering their nations’ sovereignty to the EU.
  • Also against these citizens’ will, their nations have been flooded with Muslim immigrants who embody a major cultural challenge, have caused massive social unrest, and represent a devastating economic burden.
  • Although it is increasingly obvious that taxpayer-funded Islamization is leading Western Europe down the wrong path, the EU, which stands foursquare behind this disastrous development, refuses to reverse course.
  • Perhaps the question should not be why Western Europeans are rioting but why they did not start rioting a long time ago.

(By Bruce Bawer, Gatestone, 12/18)

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Australia recognises West Jerusalem as Israeli capital .    Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed that his government will recognise West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

BBC * 15 Dec 2018                                                                                              However, he said Australia’s embassy would not move from Tel Aviv, until a peace settlement was achieved.

He added Australia also recognised the aspirations of the Palestinians to a state with a capital in East Jerusalem.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the most contested issues between Israel and the Palestinians.

US President Donald Trump drew international criticism last year when he reversed decades of American foreign policy by recognising the ancient city as Israel’s capital.   The US embassy was relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May.

 

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ANGLO MIGRATION

Friends of ours are leaving South Africa and moving to Australia.   They are not the first and certainly won’t be the last.

The “new” South Africa that came into being with the end of apartheid, just under 25 years ago, has become one of the most violent countries in the world.   The white farmers who live there, producing most of the region’s food, have been hit really hard by all the violence.   Hundreds have been murdered in the new South Africa.   Another friend’s grandson was murdered at 18 – for a cell phone!

Young families have to seek greater security for their children.   Australia is one of the best countries to go to, for now at least.

What’s been happening in South Africa and other countries before it, has been one of the minor news items in the world, a blip in the global disorder.   But facts are facts – as the British gave independence to their various colonies around the globe, so Brits who had settled there, contributing greatly to economic development, were forced to leave.   This was especially true in Africa.   This mass migration of people has been really bad for Africa and for Africans.   Their British “masters” have simply been replaced by Chinese bosses who often treat them with contempt.

South Africa’s white population was 20% of the population 25 years ago;  today, it’s down to 10%.

We may think that this migration is over, with South Africa being the last country to expel the whites.   It isn’t.   As South Africa’s majority black population took over the country, so, in the next few decades, new majorities in western nations will take over their new countries and push the original occupants out.

This is prophesied in Deuteronomy 28, the blessings and cursings chapter of the Bible.   The Israelites were told by God that if they obeyed Him, they would be greatly blessed; but, if they turned away from Him, they would suffer the negative consequences.   The modern Israelites are suffering these consequences now and will continue to do so, unless they repent and turn back to God.

16 “Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country.  17 “Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.  18 “Cursed shall be the [a]fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.  19 “Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.   (Deut. 28:16-19)

 “The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower.  44 He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail. ” (vs. 43-44)

The Anglo-Saxon-Celtic peoples are amongst the modern Israelites. At the end of World War II, a little over 70 years ago, they dominated the world.   The British Empire had emerged intact from the global conflict, which it had fought for six years; the United States had emerged from the war as a global superpower.   A constant theme of the last seven decades has seen these same Anglo-Saxon-Celtic peoples lose their power and prestige.     They will continue to do so.

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REVOLUTION IN THE AIR?

France has seen a great deal of violence the last three weekends and is expected to see more again this coming weekend.

The primary cause was increased fuel taxes to help cover an environmental project.   It was enough to trigger off the worst rioting in decades.

What the French elite, including President Macron, fail to understand is that ordinary people are suffering.  They are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet.  Higher fuel costs mean higher food costs as food has to be transported.

The rioting spread to neighboring Belgium and there is speculation there could be rioting elsewhere, including in neighboring Germany.   Once again, governments are out of touch with the reality of day to day living.

The following is a joke somebody sent me from Germany, a country not noted for its sense of humor:

“An African refugee is walking through the streets of Nuremberg – a well preserved medieval walled city. He fronts up to the first person he meets and says, “I would like to thank you for taking me in. For clothing me, feeding me, giving me healthcare and letting me stay.”

“But I’m not German, I’m Albanian,” the pedestrian responds.

The African walks on undeterred, and meets another pedestrian: “I would like to thank you for taking me in, clothing me, feeding me, giving me healthcare and letting me stay.”

“But I’m not German, I’m Turkish…”

The African tries once more, with a third pedestrian. “Thank you for taking me in, clothing me…”

“But I’m not German, I’m Arabic.”

“Then where are all the bloody Germans?” the African refugee asks.

The Arab looks at his watch, shrugs and says, “Probably at work.” (end of joke)

The cost of housing, clothing, feeding and educating all the refugees falls on the German tax-payer. It’s the same throughout the western world, in every single western nation.

Brexit started as a means to hit back against the system.   51.7% of the British people supported the “rebellion” against the ruling elite. Trump soon followed with victory in the US election.   The reality of what was behind Trump’s victory still has not been appreciated by the liberal intellectual community that has dominated the country for decades.   The reality is summed up in the title of a new book by Anthony Scaramucci:   “Trump – the Blue-Collar President,”   Trump was / is America’s revolution.   If his revolution fails, we should expect a worse one up ahead.

The same with Brexit.   If the British Establishment manages to thwart Brexit, as is certainly a possibility, the frustrations that ordinary people are experiencing could explode in something far worse.

Populist parties exist throughout the western democracies today – unless people see an improvement in their circumstances, we could see sweeping electoral changes ahead.   This could start in France.

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AN AGE OF ANGER

During a dinner in Washington, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde sent a warning to politicians whose decisions could create “an age of anger.”   She said:  “Imagine what the world might look like if we fail to build and adapt.   We could live in an age of anger.”

But this lesson is best learnt from Mr. Trump, the US President, who successfully harnessed the anger of America’s rustbelt communities to propel himself into the White House.  (BBC, 12/6)

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ARABS TIGHTEN BELTS

“A wave of economic austerity is squeezing the Arab world’s middle class, pushing a segment of society that is key to growth and stability into making painful cut-backs and fueling discontent.

“Egyptians say they are taking second jobs and dining out less often. Jordanians trying to make ends meet are pulling children from private schools.   In Tunisia, hundreds of thousands of civil servants staged a one-day strike last month to demand a pay increase.”  (“Arab Middle Class Tightens Belt,” Jared Malsin, WSJ, 12/6)

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IRAN AND ISRAEL PREPARING FOR WAR

Iranian leaders stepped up their war of words against Israel and the United States over the weekend while new information shows both the Israel Defense Forces and the Islamic Republic are actively preparing for a multi-front war in Israel.

The new war of words started when Iran’s so-called moderate president Hassan Rouhani told participants in an Islamic conference that Israel was a “cancerous tumor” and “a fake regime” founded by Western nations.

While calling upon the Islamic world to establish a “joint force” that could win the “battle against criminals,” Rouhani claimed Israel had killed and displaced the (non-existing) “historic nation of Palestine.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu responded to Rouhani’s belligerent rhetoric by warning Iran that Israel knows how to defend itself against the “murderous Iranian regime.”   (“Iran and Israel preparing for multi-front war,”  (Yochanan Visser,  Israel Today, 11/28)

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BREXIT — THE WORST DEAL IN HISTORY

This Brexit “deal” is anything but good for the nation.

This “deal” will cost the British taxpayer £60 billion; require that the British still comply with EU rules without having any say in what those will be, and worst of all, it permits the British to leave the EU only if the EU agrees.   It commits the British effectively to subjugation by the EU in perpetuity, with no recourse should the British change their mind. It is a prison.   It is also the first step of the EU toward its dream of global governance: unaccountable, untransparent, unelected by the public, and with no way out.

There is still a way out of this mess; an easy alternative.   The solution is No Deal.   Without any further action, the UK’s membership of the EU will lapse on March 29, 2019, and unless that majority can unite around a viable alternative, we will leave.   Even better, according to a House of Lords report, there would be no legal obligation for the UK to make any payment as part of a financial settlement.   (David Brown, Gatestone, 12/4)

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ANGELA MERKEL STEPS DOWN

Friday Angela Merkel, German Chancellor since 2005, stepped down as Chairman of her political party, the Christian Democratic Union.   She will remain Chancellor for the time being, but relinquishing her chairman role will likely result in change at the chancellery in the not too distant future.

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PROFOUND COMMENTS

Europe today is not afraid of Vladimir Putin reaching the Rhine. Europe is afraid of Africa and the Middle East reaching the Danube.  (“The Never-Trumpers are never coming back,” PB, 7/6)

A “sense of guilt” for colonialism is debasing the West from within, according to Professor Bruce Gilley, and authoritarian regimes such as Iran, Russia, China and Turkey are profiting from this weakness.

The Romans called it damnatio memoriae:   the damnation of memory that resulted in destroying the portraits and even the names of the fallen emperors.   The same process is now underway in the West about its colonial past.   The cultural elite in the West now seem so haunted by feelings of imperialist guilt that they are no longer confident that our civilization is something to be proud of.  (“Is guilt killing the West from within?”  Giulio MeottiGatestone, 7/6)

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ITALY CLOSES DOOR TO MIGRANTS

In Italy, rising popular sentiment against immigration has found a forceful spokesman and leader in Deputy PM Matteo Salvini, who has refused entry to Italian ports to migrant rescue ships, saying “NGO rescue ships will only see Italy on postcards.” 

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ANN COULTER PREDICTS END OF REPUBLICAN PARTY

“New York Times best-selling author and populist conservative columnist Ann Coulter says the Republican Party is “just at the point of extinction without a shot” due to mass illegal and legal immigration to the country that continues importing more than 1.5 million immigrants a year.

In an interview with SiriusXM Patriot’s Breitbart News Daily, Coulter told Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow that the United States — due to mass immigration and rapid demographic shifts — will be electorally dominated by Democrats indefinitely in “about five more years,” calling Trump “the last Republican president.” (Breitbart 11/28)

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MILITARY SPENDING

According to SIPRI’s 2016 data:

  • Only 4 out of 28 NATO countries — the United States, France, Greece and Estonia — pay above the 2 percent GDP
  • If under-paying countries began reaching the 2 percent threshold, total European nato-military spending would rise from $254 billion to $328 billion.
  • In comparison, U.S. military spending was $611 billion, China’s $215 billion, and Russia’s $69 billion.
  • If Germany spent 2 percent of its GDP on defense, its military spending would parallel Russia’s — $69 billion!

SIPRI stands for Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

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CHANGING RELATIONSHIPS

The US Congress is about to come out with a statement stating that the Saudi Arabian Crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered the death of the Washington Post correspondent, Jamal Khashoggi. Mr. Khashoggi was assassinated in the Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey on October 2nd.

Additionally, the US has requested the extradition of the top executive of the major Chinese company, Huawei.

“New York (CNN Business) — The arrest of a top Huawei executive has sent stock markets plunging around the world and threatens to derail the tenuous trade truce between the United States and China.

“Meng Wanzhou, the Chinese tech company’s chief financial officer, was detained in Vancouver on Saturday at the request of US authorities.” (12/6)

Thirdly, Mr. Trump ignored President Putin of Russia at the G20 summit last weekend.

Three major relationships, with Saudi Arabia, China and Russia are seriously threatened by these actions.

Interestingly, these three countries are the top oil producing countries in the world, after the United States.   Saudi Arabia and Russia are already co-operating on oil production, which will affect the global price.

It should also be noted that all three are murderous regimes.   The Saudi and Russian governments think nothing of murdering opponents in other parts of the world; while the Chinese have their gulags (sorry, re-education camps).

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OF INTEREST

Donald and Melania Trump did not recite The Apostles’ Creed nor did they sing the hymns during George H.W. Bush’s funeral Wednesday, sparking criticism of the president who claims to be Presbyterian and is portrayed as an evangelical Christian by many conservatives.   Video shows the first couple standing in silence alongside three former presidents and first ladies who all recited the creed.

Ivanka Trump also participated, despite having converted to Judaism.   The Apostles’ Creed is considered Christianity’s core prayer, at the heart of the Christian doctrine.   The version of the creed at the service was that of the Episcopal Church, to which the Bush family belongs.   The Apostles’ Creed is Trinitarian in structure with sections affirming belief in God the Father, Jesus Christ His Son and the Holy Spirit.   The Apostles’ Creed was based on Christian theological understanding of the Canonical gospels, the letters of the New Testament and to a lesser extent the Old Testament.   Its basis appears to be the old Roman Creed known also as the Old Roman Symbol.   (mailonline 12/6)

 

 

 

 

 

SUICIDES UP IN US, DOWN GLOBALLY

“The suicide rate in America is up by 18% since 2000.  This is not merely a tragedy; it matters politically, too.   The rise is largely among white, middle-aged, poorly educated men in areas that were left behind by booms and crushed by busts.   Their deaths are a symptom of troubles to which some see President Trump as the answer. Those troubles should not be ignored.”   (“Staying alive,” The Economist,11/24)

Suicide is declining pretty much all over the world, thanks to greater freedom and some helpful policies.” (“Defeating despair,” The Economist, 11/24).

“Globally, the rate has fallen by 38% from its peak in 1994.”

LIFE EXPECTANCY DOWN IN US

“Suicide and drug overdose rates continued to rise in 2017, helping drive the number of U.S. deaths to the highest level in more than 100 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a series of reports on mortality released Thursday.

“Tragically, this troubling trend is largely driven by deaths from drug overdose and suicide,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a statement.  “These sobering statistics are a wake-up call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable.”

“Life expectancy in 2017 fell to an average of 78.6 years for the total population, down from 78.7 years in 2016.

“Overall, more than 2.8 million Americans died in 2017, about 70,000 more than in 2016.”

(“Suicides, overdoses rise in US,” John Bacon, USA Today, 11/30)

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CONTINUING BREXIT CRISIS

“The only rule of British politics for the coming weeks is that nobody knows anything.   The prime minister doesn’t know who will resign next.   The factions don’t know their relative strengths.   Nobody knows what is bluff and what is in deadly earnest.

“But one thing that is increasingly clear in the fog of Brexit is that this is the most serious domestic crisis Britain has faced in the modern democratic era.   In the statement that accompanied his resignation as transport minister earlier this month, Jo Johnson accused his own government of “a failure of British statecraft on a scale unseen since the Suez crisis.”   Others have compared the current debacle to the IMF’s bail-out of Britain in 1976 or the gold-standard crisis of 1931.   In fact it is worse than anything else Britain has endured in peacetime. The political system is all but paralysed, the country is divided into warring ideological tribes, the civil service in overwhelmed and, in the event of no deal, Britain would be staring into the abyss.” (“Crisis? What crisis?”  Bagehot, The Economist, 11/24).

The Economist has a new layout, that prompted an anti-Brexit  reader to suggest they move the British news section to the end of the magazine, after the Obituary column!   

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IS THE GLOBAL ECONOMY TAKING A DOWNTURN?

The stock market has been rather jumpy lately.   At the same time, gas has been going down (except in France, where an increase in fuel taxes has resulted in three consecutive weekends of riots); of course, a fall in gas prices may not be such a good thing, as it’s often the harbinger of a slowing economy.

Here’s some other indicators the economy may be headed south:

  • The Federal Reserve has been ratcheting up interest rates.
  • Corporations have loaded up on debt.
  • Unemployment is so low that employers are finally raising wages.
  • The housing market shows signs of softening.

. . . But there are plenty of upbeat signs today, too.

Auto sales are still running strong, if not quite at the peak levels of a couple of years ago.   Then, too, the labor markets still have some slack . . .”    (“Warning signs of recession abound,” John Gallagher, Lansing State Journal, 11/26).

“NEW YORK 30% OFF”

“Some homeowners are selling at bargain-basement prices from what they paid, as the city faces an end to a decade-long boom. Oversupply, rising interest rates and tax-code changes are only partly to blame.” (WSJ, Mansion, 11/30).

“Real estate, oil and employment figures are sending similar messages, and that is that economic activity is starting to slow significantly, just like in 2007 before the Great Recession wiped out trillions of dollars from the markets.

And, according to a blog on The Economic Collapse, those in charge don’t want to admit the reality of what is happening, just like in 2008.” (“Money and markets,” JT Crowe, 11/30)

GM ANNOUNCES 15,000 JOB CUTS   (Monday)

‘In the wake of massive layoffs announced by U.S. carmaker General Motors, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lashed out at President Donald Trump’s recent steel and aluminum tariffs.

At Friday’s ceremony to sign a new version of NAFTA, the free trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico, Trudeau urged Trump to reassess levies imposed on Canadian imports in June.

“Donald, it’s all the more reason why we need to keep working to remove the tariffs on steel and aluminum between our countries,” Trudeau said Friday, The Hill reported.   According to a tweet from Toronto Star journalist Daniel Dale, the prime minister was referring to the GM cuts, which Trudeau called a “heavy blow.”

(Justin Trudeau blasts Donald Trump’s trade tariffs to his face after General Motors announced huge lay-offs,” Katherine Hignett, Newsweek, 11/30)

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AN ARMY OF THE EUROPEANS

Military Union in the Making

“At this year’s Berlin Security Conference, which ended yesterday, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen promoted new steps toward creating an “army of the Europeans.”  According to von der Leyen, “the question is no longer if, but how to reach strategic autonomy” of the EU with its own armed forces. “The European defense union is in the making. “[1] Delicate questions will be raised in the near future, such as that of establishing “independent command capabilities,” alongside those of NATO, for future EU missions and streamlining decision-making structures. German parliamentary reservations should not be abolished, but rather reframed.   Brussels could establish a “committee of legislators from national parliaments specializing in defense,” which could rapidly prepare decisions – in questions of war and peace.   In addition, compulsory EU consensus in foreign policy should be abandoned. “European foreign policy decisions on the basis of large majority support must be made possible.”   This would mean that individual member countries could be compelled to support a foreign policy against  their interests.

Strategic Autonomy

The German foreign policy establishment is already discussing the outline for the further development of the “army of the Europeans.” To actually achieve “strategic autonomy, Europe, more than ever must provide for its own security – perhaps even completely,” according to Jan Techau, Director of the European Program of the German Marshall Fund of the United States  .[2] This would mean that, not only conventional, but “nuclear deterrence,” as well, must be “independently organized in Europe.”   [3] This, in turn, must be accompanied “by a significantly enhanced independent intelligence competence and activity.”   Furthermore, with the “shift of acts of aggression to the sector of information technology (IT), and the hybrid warfare in the sectors of media and public opinion influence,” the guarantee of European security will be extended to fields, where Europe … is not among the world leaders,” concluded Techau.   In the future, “the Europeans, and above all, Germany, must accomplish in these fields things that, by far, surpass what the United States has been able to achieve until now.”   The “scope of the task” also demands that in the future “strategy be taught at German universities . . . and strategic education be required as a career-obligation for all civil servants from the B-6 salary level upwards.” And ultimately, “a federal security council” should “be the hub connecting the various strands of ministerial activities on all central questions” so that “the chancellor may have access to thorough strategic advice.” “German foreign policy, 11/29

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‘THE DAY OF THE DICTATOR IS OVER!”

Those were the words of President George H.W. Bush, who has now died, aged 94.   They were spoken at a time of great optimism, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the US intervention against President Noriega of Panama.   Almost thirty years later, democracy isn’t doing so good.  A report last week showed that, in Africa, nations are becoming more dictatorial as leaders refuse to hold elections, amending their constitutions to enable them to stay in power indefinitely.

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TWO CHUMMY MURDERERS

Without any sense of shame or embarrassment, President Vladimir Putin and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, greeted each other warmly at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.   Both men think nothing of ordering the murders of people who disagree with them.   Unfortunately, western nations still have to do business with them!

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HERALDING THE SOCIALIST PARADISE

“Senator Bernie Sanders knows what he wants.  In a Washington Post op-ed last week, the democratic socialist from Vermont laid out a legislative agenda for the 116th Congress’s first 100 days.  Among the dizzying array of proposals Mr. Sanders pushed were his “Medicare for All” bill, tuition-free college, student-debt relief, tax increases requiring “wealthy people and large corporations to begin paying their fair share” and a $15 minimum wage indexed to “median wage growth,” not inflation.

“Others in the Democratic Party’s increasingly influential democratic-socialist wing are pressing for their own major legislation to pass the House, even if it will get nowhere in the Republican Senate.   Rep.-elect Alexandria Occasion-Cortez, for example, wants a “Green New Deal.”   Sounding too much like a Maoist functionary, she describes it as a “national, industrial, economic mobilization plan” to make America carbon neutral.”   (“Stopping the Socialist Resurgence,” Karl Rove, WSJ, November 29th)

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“Then Moses went up into the mountain and a cloud covered
 the mountain. — and the cloud covered it six days.
And on the seventh day He (the LORD) called to Moses out of
the midst of the cloud.”  (Ex 24: 15-16)

GOVERNMENTS IN CRISIS

First came Brexit; followed by Donald Trump four months later.

Both showed that voters wanted significant change.   Both are considered populist.   Two years later, Britain and America, once the most stable nations in the world, are now in turmoil.   Their friends and allies are in confusion.

Mrs. May’s Conservative government could fall at any time.   She survived this week and things are likely to quiet down with the summer recess, but with only a few months until the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, there’s going to be more turmoil ahead.

There is little reporting on Brexit in the United States.   Americans don’t realize how important it is.   The best analogy is this:  California has voted to leave the United States, effective March 29th 2019.  The vote was over two years ago, but there’s still no agreement on trade between California and the other 49 states and time is running out.   What about passports?   Residence rights – can Californians remain in the other states after 3/29?   Can people from Michigan remain in California if they own a home and work there?

It’s almost unthinkable.   So is Brexit, except that it’s less than fifty years since the UK was a fully independent country outside of the EU (then the EEC, the European Economic Community).

It gets more complicated.

BREXIT VOTE

The referendum of June 2016 was a free vote.   Many Conservative MPs (Members of Parliament) voted to “Leave,” but many voted to “Remain.”   Members of the other political parties mostly voted to “Remain” in the EU.

73% of all MP’s support continued membership of the EU, including 56% of Conservatives.   But they are bound by the referendum result when 51.9% of the electorate voted to Leave, 48.1% Remain. Voter turnout was 72.21%, meaning that just over one third of British voters wanted to stay in the EU.   Parliament is clearly not in step with the people.   British democracy is at risk here.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister who presided over the vote, resigned.   He voted to “Remain;” as did Theresa May, his successor, who is now trying to deliver Brexit.   Although she is committed to honoring the will of the people and intends for Britain to leave Europe, she is clearly “hugging the coast” and wants as close a relationship as possible.   She made things more difficult for herself last year when she called for a General Election, resulting in a minority government, which is propped up by a party from Northern Ireland.

On Friday, 6th July, the Cabinet met at the Prime Minister’s country home of Chequers to discuss the way forward.   They drew up plans for further negotiations with the EU.    Since then, a number of party leaders have resigned, including the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, and the chief Brexit negotiator, David Davis.   Both men accused Mrs. May of wanting a compromise.   Mrs May has had twelve frontbenchers  resign since the election last year.

Visiting US President Donald Trump was in the UK a week later and got involved by stating that if the UK does not break away from Europe completely, the US may not be able to give the country a trade deal.   If Britain were bound in some way to EU trade regulations, it would complicate a trade deal with America.   Mr. Trump also said that he thought that Mr. Johnson, a close personal friend, would make a great prime minister.

Boris Johnson gave a Churchillian speech in parliament on Wednesday on why he resigned, criticizing Mrs. May and claiming that Brexit can be saved.   Mr. Johnson has made a point of saying that the British have lost the confidence needed to go it alone.   He claims that May’s proposals would lead to Britain becoming a “colony” of the German led EU.   A poll yesterday by “Westmonster” showed that, given a choice between Johnson or May, 93% of voters would support Mr. Johnson.   (“Westmonster” is similar to Breitbart.)

It’s reminiscent of the late 1930’s, with a weak, compromising Prime Minister (Chamberlain / May) and one voice defying Europe (Winston Churchill/ Boris Johnson).   Churchill is Mr. Johnson’s hero – he wrote a book on him a few years ago:  “The Churchill Factor: How one man made history.”   He may yet succeed May and lead Britain to a full Brexit.

US PRESIDENT TURNING THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN

Mr. Trump was criticized for getting involved in British domestic affairs.  In an interview after his visit to the UK, he was asked who is America’s biggest “foe.”   He replied that the EU is the biggest foe of the US at this time.

This followed his attendance in Brussels at the NATO conference, at which he threatened to pull America out of NATO if European countries do not contribute more to the military organization.

Not all EU countries are members of NATO.   The EU is a major trading organization, whereas NATO is a military alliance.   Within the space of a few days, Mr. Trump criticized the two organizations that have been pillars of the Western Alliance for many decades.   An immediate consequence was the EU signing a trade agreement with Japan.   The EU is already China’s largest trading partner, and China is the EU’s second largest trade partner after the US.   The EU, China and Japan are busy building closer ties as the US turns away.

Mr. Trump ended his European trip with a visit to Helsinki to meet with Russia’s President Putin.   This was the most shocking meeting of all with the US president seeming to support Mr. Putin against his own intelligence services, Putin denying that Russia interfered in the US election.   Mr. Trump has backtracked on his claim, now supporting his intelligence services; but has followed all this by inviting Putin to Washington in the autumn.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the President of the United States, in just a few days, turned the world upside down.

The late Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, wrote a memoir of his years in the diplomatic service after World War II when America built the present world order.   He gave the book the title:   “Present at the Creation”, published in 1969.   It would be appropriate now for somebody involved in current events, to write a sequel:   “Present at the Destruction.”

The seventy-year global world order put together mostly by America and Britain is ending.   It may take a year or two to see clearly what will replace it.

 

 

NATO SUMMIT COULD BE DECISIVE

The new NATO Headquarters on Boulevard Leopold III, 1110 Brussels.

A few weeks ago, I said I gave up on television news when my grandson, aged 5, made a remark about how nasty everybody is.  Today, I’m back to watching while I write this blog.   There are two reasons for this – Sky News (from the UK) and the young soccer team trapped in a cave in Thailand.   As we no longer have cable, Sky is a real treat – a free 24/7 news channel with no sensationalism, no shouting and few commercials. It has more international content than US TV channels, though not as much as the BBC, which has more foreign correspondents than any other source.   I recommend it to those of you who have also “cut the cord.”

There’s a great deal going on in the world right now.   The implications are quite profound for almost all countries.

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NATO SUMMIT

Next week, President Trump will be attending the NATO summit in Brussels.   The 70th anniversary of the alliance is coming up.   After seven decades of working together to maintain the peace of the western world, the 29-nation military grouping is facing its biggest challenge yet:   President Trump.

The US president is adamant that European countries need to contribute more, a justifiable demand on the part of the US Administration.   But, perhaps a greater challenge is growing indifference to the alliance in the US as increasing numbers of people turn isolationist.   Americans are focused primarily on their own problems.

Today’s Economist led with the following words:   “The Western alliance is breaking apart.”

The collapse of NATO will quickly lead to radical change and realignments in Europe; ultimately leading to the fulfillment of Revelation 17.

President Trump will be visiting the UK after the NATO summit.  His “working” visit will include meetings with Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth.

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EU SECURITY TIES

No country can replace the US in the short term, but European countries are certainly moving in the direction of closer security ties. NATO was formed to keep the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans down!   Russia is no longer the greatest threat to European security.   Note the following comment:

‘Europe today is not afraid of Vladimir Putin reaching the Rhine. Europe is afraid of Africa and the Middle East reaching the Danube.”  (“The Never-Trumpers are never coming back,” Pat Buchanan, 7/6).

Attitudes are certainly changing on the continent:   “In Italy, rising popular sentiment against immigration has found a forceful spokesman and leader in (Deputy PM Matteo) Salvini, who has refused entry to Italian ports to migrant rescue ships, saying NGO rescue ships will only see Italy on postcards.”   

Nations are increasingly working together to keep the Muslims out.   Others are still letting them in.

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TRADE WAR BEGINS

“The U.S. and China slapped levies on $34 billion of each other’s exports, the first tangible shots in a trade battle that both sides are bracing to fight for months – if not years.” (WSJ  7/6).

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NHS @ 70

The British are proud of their National Health Service (NHS). Everybody in the country, at least in theory, has equal access to free health care, which costs 9.8% of GDP.   Conservatives, Liberals and Socialists in the UK all support the NHS, competing with each other to promise increased funding.

“In 2014, Britain spent 9.8 per cent of its GDP on healthcare, compared to the average for the EU . . . of 9.7 per cent.”  (ft.com).

In contrast, the US spent 17.9 % of its GDP on healthcare last year, almost twice as much per person and with no better results.

Over the last 70 years, the NHS has provided free health care for all British citizens.   But it has some serious problems:

  • A shortfall of 100,000 doctors and nurses, who can often earn more in other countries.
  • After 70 years of the NHS, people were asked in a recent poll if they thought it would last another 70 years.  Over two-thirds said “No.”
  • “The NHS is drowning in bureaucracy”, a report noted in 2015.
  • Rising costs are due to: recent medical developments that are very costly;  an increasing number of elderly.   55% of all the money allocated to the NHS is spent on people over 85;  foreign nationals taking advantage of the system.   Can no way be found to make them pay up BEFORE receiving treatment?   They can’t buy petrol at the pump without paying in advance – perhaps the petrol companies can help the NHS here?

Each year, the cost of the NHS increases by 8%; but the economy only grows at a 2%  rate.   This means that the NHS is unsustainable.

Mrs. May is promising the medical service an additional 20 billion pounds ($26.6 billion), out of the savings the country will make as a result of Brexit.

This will not solve the problem long-term.

  • REALITY CHECK:   The same government that introduced the NHS started dismantling the British Empire and reducing the UK’s military power.   There IS a connection.   Military cuts have combined with increased medical bills over the last 70 years.  If the country cannot defend itself, there will be no NHS!

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BREXIT

As I write, Theresa May, UK Prime Minister, is trying to keep her Cabinet together as she draws up Britain’s final Brexit offer.   They are all meeting at Chequers, the Prime Minister’s country home not far from London.   The country is due to leave the European Union in March of next year.   Many members of the Cabinet are concerned she will give too much away and tie Britain to the EU for decades to come.   The worst-case scenario is that Britain will become a European vassal state, constantly having to follow orders from Berlin.   Can’t the country find another Winston Churchill?

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CANADA:    “Canada’s Supreme Court has banned Christian schools and colleges from teaching Biblical values because the Bible does not support the Trudeau government’s vision of “diversity” and is therefore “harmful” to LGBT and Muslim students.

“Instead, Canada’s schools have been encouraged to adopt Common Core values such as ordering children as young as six to question their sexual orientation and gender identity, while teaching them how to use a range of vegetables as sex toys, and promoting anal sex as “normal.”

“Christian colleges and universities will be stripped of their accreditation if they continue to promote Biblical standards and values.   In other words, the highest Canadian court has ruled that Christianity and education are incompatible. ”  (“Canada Bans Christianity from the classroom”, Ray Pennings, 6/15, National Post)

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ROYALS

Rumors have long persisted that Queen Elizabeth was not as involved as she perhaps should have been in her children’s lives, especially when they were young.

In his controversial 1994 authorized biography of Prince Charles, Jonathan Dimbleby quotes the Prince of Wales saying it was “inevitably the nursery staff” who taught him to play, witnessed his first steps, and punished and rewarded him, as they are who took care of him.

But Princess Anne has publicly refuted any claim that her mother was an absent parent.   “I simply don’t believe there is any evidence whatsoever to suggest that she wasn’t caring.   It just beggars belief,” the Princess Royal said.

Indeed, Elizabeth II, who has four children, eight grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren (including newborns Lena Tindall and little Prince Louis) once described motherhood as “the only job which matters.”   (The Royal News from Town and Country, 7/6).

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GAY CONVERSION THERAPY TO BE BANNED IN  UK

“Gay conversion “therapies” are based on the premise that being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender is a mental illness that can be “cured.”   But there is no evidence that they work, and the techniques are largely discredited.   Members of UK professional bodies for counseling and psychotherapy are prohibited from using such techniques.” (CNN)   The government believes that the therapies are harmful and have driven some to suicide.

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?

BACK TO REALITY

The November 2, 1917 declaration by then British foreign minister Arthur Balfour said his government viewed “with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”. Photograph: (AFP)

We’re back from Indianapolis after delivering one of our cats to our daughter and family.   We stayed three nights, to see the family and for the cat to get adjusted to her new situation.

I offered to go get some cat food, but our daughter and granddaughters would not allow me near the pet food aisle after my last blog!

I don’t know what it is but whenever I visit them I go into “vacation mode” – I don’t feel like doing anything. I just want to relax.  This is not fair to them.   We help take care of three (sometimes, five) grandchildren in Lansing; then have four when we visit Indy.

Our family Sunday ended up being a day in front of the television with our granddaughters who introduced us to the British series “Father Brown,” available on Netflix. It was actually quite good, though some things did irritate me.   For example, whenever the priest prayed in Latin, the closed-caption subtitles simply said: “Prays in a foreign language.”   Don’t most people know that Latin has been the lingua franca of the Catholic church for almost 2,000 years?

Family members are all trying to be healthier, which meant no junk in the house.   If I had remembered that, I would have taken some goodies to nibble between meals.  I was so hungry, at one point I called our daughter in Lansing and said:   “Can you come down immediately and bring some food?” I was just being humorous – it’s a 4+ hour drive; and I could have gone to a local grocery store if I thought I might expire.

Mike, our son-in-law, is a very good cook and the food was excellent.   I decided to join the healthy eating and then continue it at home, which is what I’m now doing.   I feel better already.   I’ve had no indigestion for a week and feel more energetic.  The dog food last week probably helped.

It was really nice to have a break from everything, including world news.

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BACK TO MORE REALITY

The terror attack in New York on Tuesday is a reminder of the constant threat to our lives that emanates from radical Islam.   It’s also a constant reminder of how hopeless our governments are – they keep letting in Muslims en masse, trying to claim that “Islam is a peaceful religion that has been hijacked by extremists.”

Trump called immediately for Congress to abolish the Diversity Visa Waiver program.  This is a lottery that enables 50,000 people a year from usually poor and backward countries to enter the United States.  They may then sponsor their relatives and friends to enter the US.   Tuesday’s murderer brought in 23 over 15 years.   Most of these people go straight to the bottom of our economic ladder, competing for jobs with low income Americans.

(Do the math. If one man brought in 23, multiply 50,000 x 23 = 1, 150,000 people per year.   That’s in addition to the one million plus who get a visa the normal way.)

President Trump immediately called on Congress to change the law.   That’s commendable.   The law needs to be changed.   But, then, why didn’t he react the same after the Las Vegas mass shooting?   Changes to the law are desperately needed.

It’s been over twenty years since the Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania, Australia.   35 people were killed in a little over half an hour.   The conservative prime minister, John Howard, immediately called on parliament to pass tough controls on assault weapons.

“Twelve days after the Port Arthur massacre, the Australian prime minister, John Howard, announced a sweeping package of gun reforms in a country where firearms had long been considered an essential prop in the national mythology of life in the bush.

“At that stage the gun lobby was the ruling lobby in Australia,” says Philip Alpers, associate professor at the University of Sydney.  “What happened at Port Arthur is that they were outpaced, outflanked and outwitted by a man who had the power to move in 12 remarkable days.”

“Tim Fischer was leader of the National party and Howard’s deputy prime minister in the Coalition government, charged with persuading skeptical country voters to support, or at least accept, reforms.  “Port Arthur was our Sandy Hook,” he says.   “Port Arthur we acted on.  The USA is not prepared to act on their tragedies.”   (The Guardian 14th March 2016).

The Sandy Hook massacre of kindergarten children took place on December 14th, 2012.   Congress did not pass any laws following the deaths of 26 people, including 19 children.   If the country could not make any changes after the deaths of so many young children, it’s doubtful they will ever come.

President Trump and others reacted to the Las Vegas shootings by saying, “Now is not the time to discuss gun control.”

Then, when will it be the time?   Immigration policies make the situation worse – the killer at Virginia Tech ten years ago was from South Korea.   The Boston Marathon killings were also the work of new arrivals.

Changes can be made without encroaching on the Second Amendment, which says:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Today, the US definitely has a “well regulated militia,” so America’s needs have changed.   At the same time, people do have a right to defend themselves.   There’s a balance. It’s time for a national debate.

On the highly successful Australian TV show, “Janet King,” Janet, a senior employee of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS; sometimes referred to as “Crownies”), is appointed by the country’s Governor-General to head a royal commission into gun violence.   It’s time the United States had a presidential commission to look into mass casualty gun violence, with the remit that it report back to the president and the public within twelve months, making recommendations to effectively reduce gun violence.

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NEW ZEALAND MAKES THE NEWS

Before we leave the Antipodes, New Zealand has a new, radical prime minister.

Jacinda Ardern is only 37 and the third female leader of the country. She wants to restrict immigration into New Zealand – one of her first acts was to ban the sale of homes to people living outside of the country.   She is a left-wing republican, meaning she would like to end NZ’s relationship with the Crown thereby giving greater power to the politicians, of which she is the chief!   Interestingly, she is also a former Mormon who has strong views on churches that encourage families to shun former believers like herself; she left the church over its anti-homosexual stance.

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QUOTE: “President Xi (of China) believes that America is in steep decline and China rising in a power game that will define our century” (Carrie Gracie, China Editor, BBC News, 11/2).   President Trump is about to visit China.

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CENTENARIES

Today, November 2nd, is the centenary of the Balfour Declaration.   Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in London to commemorate the celebration, boycotted by the anti-semitic socialist Labour Party of Jeremy Corbyn.

The famous Balfour Declaration was announced in the middle of World War I by British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, at a time when Great Britain was the dominant power in the world. It committed His Majesty’s Government to establish in Palestine a home for the Jewish people.   It was one of the most important documents of the twentieth century and a major fulfillment of Bible prophecy. It led directly to the establishment of a Jewish nation in the Middle East, the country now called Israel.

An independent Jewish nation had not been in existence since Roman times.   The Roman Jewish province of Judea rebelled against Rome in 66 AD. The Romans crushed the Jewish Revolt in 70 AD, destroying much of Jerusalem in the process.   The Jews rebelled again from 132 AD-135 AD.   Once again, the Romans crushed the revolt.   This time, the Jews dispersed to other parts of the Roman Empire and beyond.   For almost two millennia, they did not have their own country.   But scriptures made it clear that the Jews would be back in their homeland, called Judah in the Bible (the Jews were only one of the twelve tribes of Israel).

Zechariah was a prophet 2,500 years ago.   His Old Testament book is a Millennial prophecy about the Second Coming of the Messiah. Judah figures quite prominently in events at the time immediately prior to Christ’s Return.

Note Zechariah 12:2-3 – “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.”

And Zechariah 14:2-4 – “For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.

“Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.

“And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.”

The last verse is clearly still in the future.   Jerusalem, Judah, revived after almost 2,000 years is once again a central point of geographical contention, with neighboring nations and tribes wanting to destroy the country.   As if perpetually drunk, they desperately try to destroy her, so far not succeeding.

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RUSSIAN REVOLUTION

Five days after the Balfour Declaration, Russia had a second revolution.   Earlier in the year, the Czarist regime had fallen and was replaced by a parliamentary system.   Elections were scheduled for later in the year.   Two weeks before the election, the Bolsheviks (communists) staged a coup on November 7th that overthrew the interim government of Alexander Kerensky.   They proclaimed the world’s first communist state.   It brought seven decades of misery to the country, with despotic leaders that made the czars look like Sunday school teachers.   Communism has gone, but the country remains a dictatorship, though claiming to be a democracy.

The Bolshevik Revolution was the second revolution of 1917; there was an earlier revolution in 1905, which led to the establishment of the Duma (parliament) but still left the czar with ultimate power and authority.   Russia’s parliament today is also called the Duma and is the people’s assembly.   However, some would say that Vladimir Putin is a new Czar, with all the power and authority.

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500th ANNIVERSARY OF PROTESTANT REFORMATION

Tuesday was the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenburg church in Germany.   We should all be thankful to Martin Luther.   He had the courage to stand up to the Church of Rome, ending the monopoly the Church had in western Europe.   All churches today owe their freedom to Luther.

I watched a two-hour documentary on PBS recently about Martin Luther and the Reformation.   He is considered the greatest theologian of all time, due to the fact that he wrote more books and articles on the Bible than anybody else. He also translated the scriptures into German.

Later in life, asked to sum up his writings, he replied: “God forgives.” That was of paramount importance to Luther, who struggled all his life with sin, as we all do.   Hearing that, I thought about all the churches that have come out of Luther, directly or indirectly.   Many have one thing in common – they can’t forgive.   How ironic.

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VISIT TO NOAH’S ARK

Earlier in the month, we were in Cincinnati, Ohio.   A group of us, including four of our grandchildren, took the opportunity to visit Noah’s Ark, which is just over the state line in Kentucky.   It’s well worth a visit, if only to get a better idea of the size of the original ark. This replica is built according to biblical specifications.

I’m very thankful that the enterprising Australian behind this project was inspired to build the Ark (and the Creation Museum nearby). More and more people are biblically illiterate, so it’s good that somebody has kept the story alive.   I found the wall plaques explaining everything interesting, but I do not agree with his theory that the earth is only 6,000 years old.

We had been told to allow three hours for our visit. With two 5-year-old twin boys, we went through quite quickly, in exactly two hours.  We left early — because it was raining!!!

The following evening we had a group of Barbadians over for dinner. Wonderful people.   They had actually come from Barbados to visit the Ark.   They are also Young Earthers, believing in the 6,000 years.   We agreed to disagree and still remain friends.  That’s the way it should be.

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FINALLY

I’ve been asked why I quote so often from the Daily Express and Daily Mail newspapers, two Conservative British tabloids.

The answer is quite simple: they have the best web sites.   Check them out sometime.

The Guardian and Independent, more intellectual papers, are constantly asking for money whenever I check their sites; whereas the Times, the Telegraph and the Financial Times make very little available.

The biggest problem with the two papers I use is that they often sensationalize news items.

I will try to find alternative sources, but, realistically I will have to use them occasionally as I don’t have the funds to pay for subscriptions to the more highbrow papers; and they have to request money as they have smaller circulations.

(This blog is a fully independent blog that has no connection to any church or secular organization. It was started to keep people informed on international affairs in light of the scriptures.   Financial support comes from myself and readers who graciously donate to help cover costs.)