Tag Archives: West Africa

CITY DECLARES NAZI EMERGENCY

The anti-immigration AfD party won 28 percent votes in the regional elections in September [File: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters]
A city in eastern Germany has declared a “Nazi emergency,” saying it has a serious problem with the far-right.

Dresden, the capital of Saxony, has long been viewed as a bastion of the far-right and is the birthplace of the anti-Islam Pegida movement.

Councillors in the city – a contender for the 2025 European Capital of Culture – have now approved a resolution saying more needs to be done to tackle the issue.

But opponents say it goes too far.

What is a ‘Nazi emergency’?

“‘Nazinotstand’ means – similar to the climate emergency – that we have a serious problem.  The open democratic society is threatened,” local councillor Max Aschenbach, who tabled the motion, told the BBC.

Mr. Aschenbach, from left-leaning satirical political party Die Partei, said he believed it was necessary to take action because politicians were not doing enough to “position themselves clearly” against the far-right.   (BBC News 11/2)

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OUTRAGE AS AFD OBJECTS TO MIXED RACE CHILD

The mayor of Nuremberg in Germany has attacked a far-right party for “openly racist” comments about a teenage girl picked to be a Christmas gift-bringer.

A member of Alternative for Germany (AfD) attacked Benigna Munsi, who will open the city’s Christmas market.   The teen was born in Nuremberg to an Indian father and a German mother.  “You would laugh about it if you didn’t know these guys are serious, but you could cry about this level of hostility,” Mayor Ulrich Maly said.

He said there had been “idiotic comments” about previous children chosen for the traditional role of “Christkind” (Christ Child), but this attack had an “openly racist connotation.”

A now-deleted Facebook post by an AfD district branch said that German people were being eradicated like Native Americans.

“Nuremberg has a new Christ Child.   One day, we’re going to go the way of the Indians,” it read.   Another AfD member meanwhile provoked further criticism for writing online that the teenager’s “foreign” nose was a “slap in the face to friends of tradition.”   (BBC, 11/4)

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MEXICAN CARTEL KILLS 9 AMERICANS

“Breaking news coming out of Mexico detailed the horrific cartel killings of an American family, which, astonishingly, The New York Times tried to pin on (get ready for it) fundamentalist religion. Specifically, the Mormon faith.

An American family living in Mexico was ambushed and massacred by a cartel, with three women and six children murdered.   The scene as described by surviving family members is horrific:

“They described a terrifying scene in which one child was gunned down while running away, while others were trapped inside a burning car.   Two of the children killed were less than a year old, the family members said.   The car they were in with their mother was set ablaze.”

In one article, the family is described as being part of a “fundamentalist Mormon community,” while in another the spotlight is on the victims’ faith.

In fact, a quick Google search of the NY Times coverage of the tragedy yielded the following headlines on articles put up at various times during the day by the Times:

“9 Members of Mormon Family in Mexico Are Killed in Ambush,”      “A Storied Mormon Family Reels After Mexico Murders,”              “What We Know About the Killing of 9 Mormon Family”    and        “US Victims in Mexico Attack From Mormon Offshoot Community.”

In between these headlines, another mainstream media source, NBC, chimed in with its own coverage:   “Slain U.S. citizens were part of Mormon offshoot with sordid history,” which detailed, well, the “sordid history” of the group which they called a “cult.”   (Clarion 11/6)

COMMENT ON TWITTER — “Thanks @nytimes.   For a second there, I thought it was the murderous cartel’s fault that six children were burned alive while their mothers were raped, then shot rather than Mormonism.   Silly me.” (https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/1191822530727829506)

Six children were murdered and this is how The New York Times chooses to cover it.  Pathetic.

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NON-MEXICAN ILLEGALS INCREASING IN NUMBER

Border Patrol agents in San Diego arrested a historic number of non-Mexican migrants crossing illegally into the U.S. during the 2019 fiscal year.

“San Diego sector realized its highest number of apprehensions from countries other than Mexico in the history of tracking statistics for this population with a total of 27,255 arrests,” said Kathleen Scudder, acting deputy chief patrol agent for the San Diego sector.

To put that number in perspective, Border Patrol agents arrested 11,509 non-Mexicans during the 2018 fiscal year.   Between 2009 and 2015, the average number of non-Mexican border apprehensions were 1,500, records show.

The majority of non-Mexican nationals apprehended came from Central American countries like Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, she added.    (San DiegoTribune)

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HOW MALAYSIAN AIRLINES 370 DISAPPEARED

“They didn’t follow protocol.  They didn’t follow procedure.   More could have been done.   As a result of the inaction of the air force – of all of the parties involved in the first hour who didn’t follow protocol – we are stuck like this now.   Every one of them breached protocol one time, multiple times.   Every single person who had some form of responsibility at the time did not do what he was supposed to do.   To varying degrees of severity.   Maybe in isolation some might not seem so bad, but when you look at it as a whole, every one of them contributed 100 percent to the fact that the airplane has not been found.”

“And every one of them was a government employee.”   (“Vanished:   how Malaysia airlines flight 370 disappeared,” William Langewiesche, The Atlantic, July 2019)

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SOUTH AFRICAN VICTORY OVER ENGLAND IN RUGBY WORLD CUP

The Rugby World Cup victory by the Springboks on Saturday is inevitably being seen as a moment of national reconciliation, with people focusing on what it means for a black South African captain to hold aloft a trophy after leading a team that was once a potent symbol of apartheid.

For some, it is a holiday from the problems that plague us.   Still, the events of the weekend have also exposed how some benefit from fanning divisions in society.   For them, the sight of a team of people from different parts of our society beating the best in the world as a united team is bad news.   And so they have to do everything they can to distract us and kill the moment.

The victory by the national rugby team on Saturday could not have been scripted better.   Led by Siya Kolisi, a man from an incredibly poor background, a team involving players from most of our communities was able to comprehensively take apart a team many considered to be better than them.   The scrums showed what happens when everyone pushes together.   The moment when Makazole Mapimpi scored South Africa’s first try in a World Cup Final was full of genius and symbolism.   As was Cheslin Kolbe’s logic-defying try just a few minutes later.   (By Stephen Grootes, Daily Maverick, 11/4)

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SOUTH AFRICAN WATER CRISIS

As the Eastern Cape treasury last week made R120m available in drought relief for the province, several towns were running out of drinking water as more dams dried up and the province’s total remaining water dropped to 50% of capacity.

On Saturday a strict warning was sent to residents in eight towns in the Eastern Cape – Aliwal North, Mount Fletcher, Lady Grey, Ugie, Barkley East, Burgersdorp and Maclear – not to drink the water supplied by the municipality without boiling it first.

In an official notice, the municipal manager for the Joe Gqabi Municipality, Zolile Williams, added that residents must add a teaspoon of bleach to every 25 litres of drinking water to make it safe.

“We can no longer guarantee the quality of the drinking water supplied by the municipality,” the notice reads.   (Estelle Ellis, Daily Maverick, 11/4)

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IRAN ANNOUNCES FRESH VIOLATIONS OF NUCLEAR DEAL WITH EXTRA, ADVANCED CENTRIFUGES                                       Tehran’s nuclear chief says domestically made centrifuge in development is 50 times faster than those allowed under 2015 accord

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran on Monday broke further away from its collapsing 2015 nuclear deal with world powers by announcing it’s doubling the number of advanced centrifuges it operates, calling the decision a direct result of President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement.

The announcement — which also included Iran saying it now has a prototype centrifuge that works 50 times faster than those allowed under the deal — came as demonstrators across the country marked the 40th anniversary of the 1979 US Embassy takeover that started a 444-day hostage crisis.

By starting up these advanced centrifuges, Iran further cuts into the one year that experts estimate Tehran would need to have enough material for building a nuclear weapon — if it chose to pursue one. Iran long has insisted its program is for peaceful purposes, though Western fears about its work led to the 2015 agreement that saw Tehran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.   (The Times of Israel, 11/4)

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WHY SO MANY ARE DEMONSTRATING                                                Blame economics, demography, a sense of powerlessness . . . and social media

For anyone trying to follow protest movements around the world it is hard to keep up.   Large anti-government demonstrations, some peaceful and some not, have taken place in recent weeks in places on every continent:   Algeria, Bolivia, Britain, Catalonia, Chile, Ecuador, France, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Lebanon and more.    On November 1st Pakistan joined the ever-lengthening roll as tens of thousands of protesters converged on the capital, Islamabad, to demand that the prime minister, Imran Khan, stand down within 48 hours.

Probably not since the wave of “people power” movements swept Asian and east European countries in the late 1980s and early 1990s has the world experienced such a simultaneous outpouring of popular anger on the streets.   Before that, only the global unrest of the late 1960s bears comparison in terms of the number of countries swept up and the number of people mobilized.   (Economist, 11/4)

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IMPACT OF GAY PRESIDENT IN MIDEAST

In an October 7, 2019 article on the website of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, Egyptian journalist and Muslim Brotherhood (MB) member Amer Shamakh wrote about the growing support for the LGBTQ community and same-sex marriage in the West, and in the U.S. in particular.   Calling them “perversion” that is contrary to human nature and the monotheistic religions, he warned that if potential Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg became president, this would lead to a campaign of pressure on Arab countries to accept the LGBTQ community as normal, as it is perceived today in the West.   Expressing concern that Arab leaders would capitulate to such pressure, he underlined that Islam views homosexuality as “one of the most loathsome deeds,” that “Islamic law instructs that those who carry it out be killed by burning, being thrown from a high place, or stoning,” and that the Prophet Muhammad himself even ordered that this be done.   (MEMRI, 1/5)

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TO THE POINT

  • We are not witnessing a legitimate impeachment process, and certainly not any form of justice recognizable in America since the Massachusetts Spring of 1693.   (Chris Farrell, Gatestone, 11/5)
  • The Deutsche Bank is supporting the imminent IPO (initial public offering) of the world’s largest oil company Saudi Aramco thus helping to consolidate power in the hands of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.   On Sunday, the competent Saudi authorities gave the green light for the IPO, which will be executed in the first half of December and will flush double-digit billions into the Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.   The PIF will play a central role in financing strategic domestic investments and buying strategic shares in foreign companies and will de facto be controlled by the Crown Prince personally.   Experts agree that bin Salman is directly responsible for the murder of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi in Riyadh’s consulate in Istanbul.   Already years ago, the Deutsche Bank had financed deliveries of arms to Saudi Arabia, which were used in the war on Yemen.   Along with other German companies, the bank participated in last week’s investor conference in Riyadh.  (German Foreign Policy, 11/5)
  • Iran and its terror proxy Hezbollah are financing Mexican drug cartels, smuggling people into America and recruiting them (for pay) as sleeper jihadist cells.   The recruits are mainly immigrants to Mexico from the Middle East, mostly from Lebanon where Hezbollah is based.   The coordinated operation is part of Iran’s war on America.   (Clarion Project, 11/5)
  • “As widespread protests plunge Lebanon into political crisis mode once again, we are reminded that multi-ethnic democracies in the Middle East aren’t exactly a model of good governance.   Those looking for solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should take note, and this should give pause to advocates of the one-state solution.”   (The Delusional One-State solution, MEF, 11/4).
  • There are reports on the Gatestone website (11/3) that Turkey is sending arms to Boko Haram, the terrorist group that operates in Nigeria and other west African nations.   The terror group targets Christians.   Observers have wondered how Boko Haram obtains sophisticated weapons.   The Turkish connection answers the question.

FORTY YEARS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD

George Washington and the French and Indian War

I spent a couple of evenings this week watching “The War That Made America,” a 4-hour PBS special made in 2006, to coincide with the 250th anniversary of the French and Indian War.   The intro added the words:   “And it’s not the war you think.”

It is, arguably, the most significant war in American history.   If it had ended differently, we might have been French and Catholic. Instead, we speak English and have freedom of religion.

Prior to 1754 the British had control of the eastern seaboard.   The French were in control of the “Ohio country.”   From Canada to Louisiana, they had a series of forts that controlled the center of what is now the US.   These forts stopped Americans from moving westward.   They were trying to strengthen these forts when conflict arose between Britain and France.

George Washington fired the first shot, as a member of the colonial Virginia Regiment, a provincial militia.   It was the first shot in what was really the first world war, a war that saw fighting in India, the Philippines, Africa and Europe as well as North America.   Outside of the US, the war is known as the Seven Years War.

After more than seven years of brutal fighting, the French were driven out of North America.   The threat from the Roman Catholic Church, which did not tolerate freedom of religion, was over.   The French king no longer ruled over North America, replaced by an English king who was a constitutional monarch.

When told the news that he had lost Canada, Louis XV was talking to Voltaire, the famous French philosopher. In an attempt to console him, Voltaire asked what the French had actually lost. It was, he said, just “a few acres of snow.”

Fast forward fifteen years, to 1775.   This was the year that saw the beginning of major changes that lay the groundwork for the world we now live in.

From Wikipedia:   “In the Hebrew Bible, forty is often used for time periods, forty days or forty years, which separate “two distinct epochs.”   Several Jewish leaders and kings are said to have ruled for “forty years,” that is, a generation.”

1775 was truly the end of one epoch. 1815 was the beginning of another.

  1. MANASSEH SEPARATED FROM EPHRAIM

The forty-year period began with the separation from the “multitude of nations,” of a ”great people,” Manasseh.   The multitude remained united under the Crown.

Then Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands knowingly, for  Manasseh was the firstborn.  And he blessed Joseph, and said: “God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, The God who has fed me all my life long to this day, The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil, Bless the lads; Let my name be named upon them, And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

“Now when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took hold of his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head.  And Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”

But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know.   He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.”

“So he blessed them that day, saying, “By you Israel will bless, saying, ‘May God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh!’ ” And thus he set Ephraim before Manasseh.”   (Genesis 48:14-20)

2.  CANADA ALSO BECAME A NATION.

One of the consequences of the US victory at Yorktown was the expansion of Canada and of it becoming its very own nation.  The British had control of the 14th colony, Quebec (Lower Canada), which refused to join the “Protestant Republic” forming to the south.   Britain had conquered Quebec in 1759, guaranteeing the French their Roman Catholicism.   Many of America’s Tories fled to Ontario, then Upper Canada, and, with Lower Canada, formed a new nation of Canada.   Later, in 1867, they would be given independence under the Crown, forming the Dominion of Canada, the first nation of the British Commonwealth.

3.  FRANCE LOSES ITS SUPREMACY TO ENGLAND

The first blow against French domination was struck in 1759 when the British gained Montreal and Quebec.   But it was the 22-year period of on-again, off again, military conflict with France that led to a century of British domination.   The Napoleonic Wars weakened France and strengthened England.   The defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, on 18th June, 1815, saw the end of France as a great military power.

4.  The LOUISIANA PURCHASE of 1803, financed by a British bank, gave America the Ohio country and enabled it to expand westward.

5.  NAVAL SUPREMACY

The Battle of Trafalgar on October 21, 1805, one of the greatest British victories of all time, gave Britain naval supremacy.   For over a century, the Royal Navy ruled the seas, protected British territories and the US and ensured the peace.

  1.  ABOLISHMENT OF THE SLAVE TRADE

The trade in slaves ended for the British Empire in 1807. The US followed a year later.   It wasn’t until 1833 that the British ended slavery throughout their empire.   For the US it was thirty years later during the Civil War.   But the end of the slave trade boosted the growth of the British Empire, which was seen throughout Africa as a Liberator.   The West Africa Squadron of the British Royal Navy patrolled the Gulf of Guinea, and was authorized to stop any naval vessel (of whatever country) and free their slaves.   In the fifty years of the Squadron it is estimated that 150,000 slaves were freed.

During the Revolutionary War, the British were supported by most of the slaves in the thirteen colonies, slaves who were promised their freedom at the end of the war.   With defeat, they took those slaves on board ships, many of which went to found a new nation, Sierra Leone, in West Africa.

Three new countries emerged in the 40-year period we are looking at – the United States, Canada and Sierra Leone.

  1.  WAR OF 1812

This war showed that the US was a serious nation.   Canada was, too. The two fought and established their separate identities.   Canadians made it clear they wanted to stay under the Crown.

THE COST OF ARROGANCE

The PBS documentary showed quite clearly the role of the Indians in the struggle for North America.   The French started the war with great advantage – most of the Indian tribes were on their side.   But their arrogance toward the Indians caused that to change.

At the same time, British arrogance toward George Washington cost them the American colonies twenty years later.   They refused to allow Washington advancement in the ranks because he was a “provincial.”   He quit the military in 1758, returning in 1775 to lead the Patriots” against the British.

The DVD is well worth four hours.   You could also read the book “A Few Acres of Snow” by Robert Leckie, “the saga of the French and Indian Wars.”   Published in 2006.

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MAY VISITS GRIMSBY

Mrs. Theresa May, Prime Minister of the UK, visited my hometown of Grimsby this morning.   She was there to make a pitch for her latest Brexit proposals, to be voted on in parliament on Tuesday.   Grimsby is one of the towns that most supported Brexit.   She made it clear that, if her proposals are rejected, the UK might have to remain in the EU.

Even if her proposals receive the support of parliament (a big IF), there is no guarantee that the EU will go along with them.

The people voted to leave the European Union.   Now they are being told it’s not as simple as that.   Why not let the people have what they voted for?   That will never do!

 

 

 

 

QUEEN ELIZABETH LONGEST REIGNING MONARCH

Westminster Abbey's bells will peal, a flotilla will sail down the River Thames and a gun salute will ring out on Wednesday as Queen Elizabeth II becomes the longest-serving monarch in British history.
Westminster Abbey’s bells will peal, a flotilla will sail down the River Thames and a gun salute will ring out on Wednesday as Queen Elizabeth II becomes the longest-serving monarch in British history.

Today at 5.30pm British Summer Time, Queen Elizabeth II became the longest reigning monarch in British history, overtaking the record set by her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria.

She still has some way to go to pass the longest reigning European monarchs,   Austrian Emperor Franz Josef (1848-1916) and France’s Louis XIV (1643-1715).   However, the latter doesn’t really count as he was only five when he became “king,” meaning that his mother and Cardinal Mazarin ruled in his place.

Thailand’s current king was crowned in May 1950 so he’s been around even longer than the British monarch.

A PBS documentary on the queen aired last week.   The one-hour documentary is available on DVD.   It’s part of the “In their own words” occasional series.   There was one mistake in the program when a BBC broadcast announcing that “the king’s life draws peacefully to a close” was applied to her father, King George VI, who died in 1952.   The recording dates to January 1936 when his father, George V, was dying.   The queen’s father was found dead in bed on February 6th, 1952.   He had been out hunting the previous day. Elizabeth and her husband were in Kenya, on a tour of the empire, when he died.

The monarchy goes back over one thousand years.  It has evolved through the centuries into today’s constitutional monarchy.   The system has worked very well, giving Britain and the other Commonwealth realms (which include Canada, Australia and New Zealand) an unparalleled period of political stability, without which economic progress is difficult to achieve.

The very complimentary documentary highlighted Elizabeth’s role as constitutional monarch, using her influence rather than authority in chaperoning the country for over sixty years.   It’s been a time of unprecedented change, as was Victoria’s in the nineteenth century.

The program began with then Princess Elizabeth’s 21st birthday broadcast from Cape Town, South Africa.   In her own words she pledged herself to serve “the great imperial family to which we all belong,” a reference to the Empire and Commonwealth, which included South Africa.

Immediately after these words were shown on the documentary, a royal expert then added a comment about her lifelong service to Britain.

There’s a blind spot here, which obscures Britain’s incredible decline during her reign.   As she is a constitutional monarch, the blame for this decline rests with the politicians, especially the twelve British prime ministers who have served under her.   Her Canadian, Australian and New Zealand prime ministers can also share some of that responsibility.

The fact is that the British Empire has gone and its successor, the Commonwealth (the “British” was dropped 50 years ago) is no more than a shadow of what it was.   It may not even survive the queen’s passing.   The queen remains Head of State of 16 countries and has 138 million subjects.   She is also titular Head of the Commonwealth, an organization of 54 former colonies.   It remains to be seen if Prince Charles will be able to hold it all together after he succeeds his mother.

Sir John Major, her ninth British prime minister, said in the documentary that throughout all the changes of the last six decades, the queen has been the one “constant” in the country, giving a sense of continuity and stability during monumental and significant changes.   This is true, but it hides some painful realities.

The loss of empire saw a rapid decline in global power.   The country’s military capability is about one-twelfth of what it was at the beginning of her reign – and continues to decline even under a Conservative administration.   The queen’s international role remains at the core of British “soft power,” along with the BBC World Service and British aid.   This soft power has replaced the strong military power it used to have.

With the empire gone, Britain entered the European Common Market (now the European Union), which has progressively taken away the UK’s independence.   Under the EU’s freedom of movement rules, millions of people from other European countries have been able to move to Britain, changing the composition of the nation’s population.

Added to this has been mass immigration from Commonwealth countries like India and Pakistan.

The changes are so significant, it’s fair to say that the Great Britain she inherited in 1952 and the Great Britain of today are two very different countries.   It’s amusing to remember that in 1949, when she was Princess Elizabeth, she spoke out against the evils of divorce.   The nation would not take kindly to such comments today and the queen would not be qualified to speak on the subject anyway as her own family has seen a few divorces.

None of this detracts from the great accomplishments of Elizabeth II.   She has set an incredible example of service.   Her sense of duty is unsurpassed by anybody in any field.   In her own personal private life she has set a fine example, never putting a foot wrong.

In many ways, the world was a better place when the Queen ascended the throne on February 6th, 1952 (the Coronation was in June the following year).   At that time, she presided over the greatest empire in history.   As countries were given independence, all too often they were taken over by self-serving bad leaders who destroyed much of what Britain had accomplished, enriching themselves by stealing from their own people.   They were often from the lowest echelons of society, suddenly receiving absolute power, which they abused in every way.

I remember an incident 35 years ago at a time when Ghana, in West Africa, was going through a long period of political instability and economic chaos, I stopped to buy some food at the side of the road. When I opened my wallet, the lady who was selling me the items, saw a British bank note with the portrait of the queen on it.   The lady sighed and said:   “Ah, Queen Elizabeth.   She used to be our queen.   Now we have so many presidents, we cannot count them all. And we are in such a mess.   And England still has the queen.”   Stability is so important.

Two verses in the Book of Ecclesiastes illustrate this so well:

“Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child,
And your princes feast in the morning!
Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobles,
And your princes feast at the proper time —
For strength and not for drunkenness!”   (Eccl. 10:16-17.)

Britain has been greatly blessed with Elizabeth II as Queen.

As many are saying today:    “Long may she reign!”

DID A DYING PRINCE ALBERT SAVE A DYING UNITED STATES?

Our Man in Charleston

I’m currently reading a new non-fiction book that may interest some of you.   It tells the story of the British Consul in Charleston, South Carolina, in the years leading up to and into the US Civil War (1861 to 1865).

When southern states seceded from the United States, the hope across the Confederacy was that they would receive support from the British government.   Britain was the greatest power in the world at the time and had the most powerful military.   They had a great deal of support in the British press.   British commercial interests strongly suggested the United Kingdom would support the South – the UK was the biggest importer of southern cotton, which was needed to feed the clothing factories in the North of England.

The British government’s Consul in Charleston was Robert Bunch, who lived in the city with his wife and children.   His instructions were to ingratiate himself with prominent citizens and report to London.   His reports to the British government, via the Ambassador in Washington, Lord Lyons, were highly influential in determining Britain’s attitude toward the breakaway republic.

Great Britain had abolished the slave trade in 1807, the first major power to do so.   With the world’s most powerful navy, the British took it upon themselves to stop vessels on the high seas and free any slaves they found.   The US followed one year later, but American vessels continued to transport slaves from West Africa, where African leaders continued the practice.   These slave ships transported people in the most horrible conditions, many dying en route.   The Royal Navy’s ships were kept busy along the West African coast throughout the nineteenth century.

Bunch was repulsed by slavery and by those who kept slaves. But he hid his feelings extremely well, as he mixed with leading Charlestonians in the 1850’s.   The people around him thought that he sympathized with them and their “peculiar custom” of slavery and would support the South when it broke away from the North.   But he was, in fact, sending back to London reports on the brutality of slavery, reports that made it impossible for London to show any support for the Confederacy.

He did his job so well that the US Secretary of State, William Seward, pressured the British government to remove Bunch from Charleston as he was a “known” secessionist!

In late 1861, there was a major crisis between Washington and London that almost brought the two countries to war.   If that had happened, the UK would likely have recognized the South and the Confederacy would still exist.

The crisis was triggered when an American navy steamer, the USS San Jacinto, under Captain Charles Wilkes, boarded a British mail ship, the Trent, and arrested two prominent Southerners who were on their way to London to appeal for recognition and help.   The British protested volubly.   The British Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, wrote a seriously threatening note, which would have placed Abraham Lincoln’s Administration in a difficult position and would almost certainly have led to another war between the two great English speaking nations.

Then something interesting happened.

“Before the ultimatum could be sent, however, it had to be read and approved by the palace.   On other occasions this might have been largely a formality, and, indeed, in this case Queen Victoria had other priorities.   She was giving a dinner party and did not want it interrupted.   But Prince Albert, her beloved consort, begged off from the dinner, saying he felt ill.   Feverish with the first symptoms of the typhoid that would kill him a few days later, Albert sat down at his desk to look at the ultimatum, and he did not like what he saw. Palmerston and Russell (British Foreign Minister) were giving Lincoln and Seward no way out. They would have to bend to Britain’s will, release Slidell and Mason (the two Southern gentlemen), and apologize abjectly or face the greatest military power on earth.

“For twenty years Albert had made the fight against slavery, and especially the slave trade, one of his important causes.   He did not want to see the Crown tarnished by a war that might guarantee the continuation of slavery for generations to come.   He deeply mistrusted Palmerston’s bellicosity and thought of Russell as something of a lightweight.   He wanted the brashness in the official note to be softened:   “Her Majesty’s Government are unwilling to believe that the United States Government intended wantonly to put an insult upon this country…..”   The new wording left a way open for Seward to explain the incident as an accident, if only he would take it.”   (“Our Man in Charleston”, by Newsweek’s Christopher Dickey, pages 297-8, Crown Publishers.)

“The language offered by Prince Albert had left room for a face-saving response in Seward’s reply:   Charles Wilkes had not been acting under orders.   Three days after Christmas the correspondence of Seward and the British and French foreign ministers was published, announcing the release of the Confederate emissaries.”

War between the US and Britain had been averted, thanks to a German prince’s careful editing of a diplomatic note, written in English!   If the more strident note had resulted in war between Britain and America, London would have supported the Confederacy and the United States would have been permanently divided.   If Prince Albert had not been seriously ill, the outcome of the Civil War could have been very different.

The book is an interesting read and gives some fresh insight into the Civil War.

YEMENI CONFLICT WIDENS SHIA-SUNNI DIVIDE

Shia Sunni

Fill up with gas – the price of oil has been “surging overnight”!

That’s the likely international outcome of the latest development in the Middle East.

Early Thursday morning (late Wednesday in the US), a coalition of ten countries, led by Saudi Arabia, started bombing Shi’ite rebels in Yemen, aiming to restore the “legitimate” (Sunni) government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is in hiding somewhere.

The conflict widens the Shia-Sunni conflict, which is the root cause of the never-ending conflicts in Iraq and Syria.   The latest war pits Saudi Arabia and Iran against each other.

Yemen is not a big oil producer.   But it’s strategically located, controlling the 25-mile wide Gulf of Aden, through which a great deal of the world’s oil is shipped.   The British controlled the Gulf from 1839 until 1967.

Illustrative of the volatility in the oil market is the fact that, less than 24 hours ago, hopes were high that a deal between Iran and the western coalition would lead to a glut of oil, driving the price down.   The deal may still happen, but the benefits will likely be more than offset by the Yemeni conflict and the increasing Sunni-Shia struggle throughout the Middle East.

This is the basis for the ongoing battle over Tikrit in Iraq.   Over a week ago, the Iraqi military was claiming victory over ISIS forces controlling the city.   But ISIS, the most militant group within Sunni Islam, is holding its own against a combined force of Shi’ite Iraqi troops, Shia militias and Iranians, who are also Shi’ites.

Interestingly, the US supports the Saudi-led action to restore the President of Yemen, at the same time as supporting the Iraqi and Iranian action to defeat ISIS.   It’s doubtful this difficult balancing act will last.

Another question is what it will take for western intervention in the region.   An article on the widening conflict in the Middle East in the latest issue of Time Magazine ended with the following paragraph.

“It’s impossible to predict when and where the next extremist attack on a Western target may occur.   But it seems all to likely that it would require a mass casualty terrorist strike in a Western country to build the public support needed for the sustained military effort that could actually eliminate these growing threats.”   (The New Caliphates, TIME Magazine, Volume 185, Issue #11).

Certainly, such an attack cannot be far off.   This could certainly fulfill the prophecy in Daniel 11:40, which states:   “At the time of the end the King of the South shall attack him.”   The King of the North then retaliates.

As this global crisis worsens and spreads, another recent development shows ISIS, al-Qaeda and Boko Haram “troops” training together in Mauretania, a Moslem country not directly affected by terrorism until now.   With ISIS now operating in Tunisia and Libya and Boko Haram in alliance with ISIS, operating in Nigeria, Niger and Chad, the whole of West Africa is vulnerable.

At the same time, the Taliban, which operate in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, has pledged support to the new Caliphate.

The spreading Caliphate is well on its way to achieving its avowed goal of an Islamic State stretching from the Atlantic through the Middle East and on to Indonesia.   The plan is a five year plan, which means conflicts are set to increase and spread.

Meanwhile, the “mass casualty terrorist strike” Time warned about, may already have happened. It has been disclosed that the pilot was locked out of the cockpit of the “Germanwings” flight that crashed into the Alps two days ago.   When the pilot went to the bathroom, his co-pilot locked the door behind him and then immediately set the controls for a rapid descent and the final, fatal crash.   The Marseille prosecutor has just declared that the “co-pilot was not known as a wanted terrorist.”   The question remains as to why he would deliberately fly the plane into the mountains.   Terrorism was quickly denied but terrorist websites constantly inspire “lone wolf” violent attacks as part of their cause.

Spain and Germany lost the most people in the crash.   Spain is one of the countries that ISIS wants in its Caliphate, having been ruled by Muslims for over 700 years.

It’s too early to tell if this was a factor in the plane crash but a criminal investigation is now underway.   It seems certain the loss of 150 lives was no accident.

 

 

 

 

YET ANOTHER BEHEADING

Peter Kassig

Sadly, ISIS has chosen to behead Peter Kassig, a 26-year-old man from Indianapolis. Peter, who converted to Islam while in captivity and changed his name to Abdul Rahman, was a humanitarian. He went to Syria to help people suffering in the Civil War there and was captured by ISIS.

It seems his captors cannot understand the concept of humanitarianism, even though charity and charitable works is one of the five pillars of Islam.

I am reminded again of our experience in Ghana, where we lived for seven years. Frequently, people would accuse me of working for the CIA, in spite of my protestations to the contrary. At the time, I had never even lived in the United States, let alone worked for the American government. I came to the conclusion that they could not comprehend why any westerner would live in West Africa when they didn’t have to; that trying to serve people was an alien concept to them.

We in the West can be quite naïve when it comes to other cultures. We cannot understand how different the thinking is. Another victim of this failure to understand was a British taxi driver who was beheaded a few weeks ago. Again, like Peter Kassig, he had gone to Syria to help alleviate suffering.

A further example of the incredible gulf between west and east lies in history. In the West most people are not interested in history. This is especially true of the United States.   It comes as quite a shock to find that in the Middle East, history really matters. When Peter Kassig’s executioner referred to Coalition soldiers as “Crusaders,” he was referring to the crusades that began in 1095 and continued for two centuries. Frequent references to the crusades show that, to many in the Middle East, it’s as if they were a recent event. Israel is often referred to as “the Crusader State,” thereby avoiding the use of the word “Israel.” Westerners in the Middle East are seen as the modern equivalent of the Crusaders, out to conquer the region at the earliest opportunity.

The author Salman Rushdie, who came from a Muslim background, explained in a speech some years ago, that when a Muslim from the Middle East comes to Detroit, he is not looking for an opportunity to better himself, to take advantage of the American way of life. Rather, he sees himself as part of the advance guard that will spread Islam to the United States. With this intent in mind, perhaps it’s not surprising they cannot understand why Americans go to their part of the world.

A third lesson from this tragic incident is that the West is going through a prolonged period of religious confusion. After decades of anti-Christian propaganda in schools, it’s not surprising that so many of our young people, like Peter Kassig, convert to Islam, which is a simpler religion. Islam is even propagated in schools in an attempt to promote multiculturalism. However, converting to Islam, as some captives have done, does not gain any mercy from ISIS captors.

There will no doubt be more beheadings. American troops are still in the area. If any of them are captured, they can expect the same fate, along with any other aid workers from western countries still hoping to make a difference.

WESTERN EDUCATION IS FORBIDDEN

 

Boko Haram

“Western education is forbidden.” Roughly translated that’s the meaning of Boko Haram, words in the Hausa language, which refer to the Nigerian Islamist terror group.

A few months ago, the group kidnapped over 200 teenage girls from one school. They have not been seen since. A leader of the group stated last week that the girls have all been married off. ISIS was selling kidnapped women in Iraq for $1,000 each. It seems likely Boko Haram gave the girls away to terrorists fighting in their group.

Yesterday came news that 46 teenage boys have been killed in another school in Nigeria by Boko Haram.

The number 46 reminded me of a community where we once lived, the city of Bath, in Michigan, just outside of Lansing.

In the spring of 1927 the local school was blown up and 46 people, mostly youngsters at the school, eventually died as a result of that day’s carnage. It remained the worst terrorist attack in US history until Oklahoma City in April 1995, which also claimed many young lives in a daycare facility.

On a website devoted to the Bath disaster are the following introductory words:

“On a cool Spring morning in May of 1927 the Treasurer of the Bath, Michigan, Consolidated School District fire/dynamite bombed his home and farm and collapsed the North half of the school building (having intended to destroy all of it). Within the hour he had committed additional murders in the middle of the village by the suicidal detonation of shrapnel-shrouded explosives that he had packed into his vehicle. Over the following year a total of 46 people would be dead as a result of that day’s mayhem and many, many more would be counted among the injured & maimed. After 86 years this incident still ranks as the worst instance of school violence in U.S. history.”

Like Oklahoma City, this particular incident was an example of homegrown terrorism.

We lived in Bath when 9/11 happened, the worst terror attack in American history. So far. I fear others lie ahead that will be worse in terms of numbers of deaths. 9/11 was perpetrated by Islamist terrorists who hated the West. ISIS is made up of people who feel the same way. Boko Haram reflects a great deal of anger directed at Western education.

Hatred of the West is not going away.

Will ISIS or Boko Haram be defeated? Not likely. Certainly not in the short-term.

Nigeria’s police and military are a joke. That is true right across West Africa. The police are less a force to capture criminals, than people who extort money out of innocent members of the public. The military in most countries is not well disciplined and will run away when confronted by armed insurgents, such as Boko Haram.

Terrorism threatens all of us, even children in school. It’s the scourge of the age. Although the vast majority of terror attacks are perpetrated by Islamists, adherents of all religions are capable of extremely violent acts.

These awful acts should inspire Christians to pray ‘Thy Kingdom Come” (Matt 6:10). Only when Jesus Christ returns and it’s clear which religion really is the truth will terrorism come to an end.