Tag Archives: xenophobia

GLOBAL DEBT AT 317% OF GDP

The world’s debt burden stands at a staggering 317 per cent of global gross domestic product, just shy of its all-time high in 2016, according to the Institute of International Finance.   Years of low and negative interest rates have fed the debt habit:   since the 2008 financial crisis, the world has added an extraordinary $70tn in debt, or 25 per cent of GDP, with sovereign debt accounting for nearly 40 per cent of that increase.

“To be clear: responsibly incurred debt can play an important and constructive role in economic development.   Long-term investments that enhance productivity can foster a more prosperous future. Amid subdued growth in many parts of the world and a critical need for infrastructure, there are arguments to be made in support of using debt to foster growth.

“But too much debt is a risk for lenders and borrowers alike, as history has shown time and again.”

(“We need transparency to keep countries out of a debt spiral,” Axel Weber, Financial Times, 6/18)

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CURRENCY WARS

Europe has been warned. Any use of monetary levers to hold down the euro exchange rate will be deemed a provocation by the Trump administration.

Further cuts in interest rates to minus 0.5pc or beyond will be scrutinized for currency manipulation.   A revival of quantitative easing will be considered a devaluation policy in disguise, as indeed it is, since the money leaks out into global securities and depresses the euro.

The Bank for International Settlements says €300bn of Europe’s QE funding reached London alone between 2014 and 2017.

If the ECB copies the Swiss National Bank and starts to amass foreign assets directly to cap currency strength Europe will face certain retaliation.

(“Currency war is the next phase of global conflict and Europe, the chief parasite, is defenceless,” Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph, June 19th)

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BRUSSELS BRIEFING

Donald Trump’s found someone else in Europe he doesn’t like.   The US president launched a Twitter tirade against Mario Draghi after the ECB president said he was ready to inject new stimulus into the eurozone, sending the euro tumbling against the dollar.  (Brussels Briefing, Financial Times, 6/1)

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 TRUMP’S WAR

“President Donald Trump cannot want war with Iran.

   Such a war, no matter how long, would be fought in and around the Persian Gulf, through which a third of the world’s seaborne oil travels.   It could trigger a worldwide recession and imperil Trump’s re-election.

   It would widen the “forever war,” which Trump said he would end, to a nation of 80 million people, three times as large as Iraq.   It would become the defining issue of his presidency, as the Iraq War became the defining issue of George W. Bush’s presidency.

 And if war comes now, it would be known as “Trump’s War.”

In conclusion:

“Who wants a U.S. war with Iran?

   Primarily the same people who goaded us into wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, and who oppose every effort of Trump’s to extricate us from those wars.

   Should they succeed in Iran, it is hard to see how we will ever be able to extricate our country from this blood-soaked region that holds no vital strategic interest save oil, and America, thanks to fracking, has become independent of that.”    (“War with Iran would become “Trump’s War,” Pat Buchanan, 6/18)

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Iran shoots down US drone aircraft

Oil prices jump after action by Revolutionary Guard escalates tensions between Tehran and Washington (Financial Times, 6/20)

“Iran shoots down US military drone to send “clear message” to Trump”   (Independent, 6/20)

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GERMAN POLITICIAN ASSASSINATED BY NEO-NAZI

Germany’s federal prosecutors have taken over the investigation into the murder of Walter Lübcke, indicating that the killing of the Kassel district president on June 2 is being treated as a politically motivated terrorist act.

If indeed the murder is shown to have been politically motivated, it would be the first such assassination on a sitting German politician since the 1970s.

Trail included death threats, weapons.

A number of German outlets have reported details of the alleged far-right ties of the suspect arrested in the central city of Kassel in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Monday that the 45-year-old man, named only as Stephan E., had a long criminal record, had already issued death threats via his YouTube channel, and that weapons were found during the search of his home.

According to the paper, Stephan E. had written a comment on YouTube in 2018 under his alias ‘Game Over’ that read, “Either this government abdicates soon or there will be deaths.”  ( “Walter Lubcke murder raises specter of neo-Nazi terrorism,”   Deutsche Welle news)

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Xenophobia stokes extreme-right activism

Puls has also noticed that neo-Nazis became more and more vocal in the last few years, following the influx of refugees who arrived in Germany in 2015 and 2016, which led to more anti-immigrant sentiment in the mainstream political debate and hate speech on social media.

As a supporter of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policy, Walter Lübke himself was on the sharp end of much of this.

“One can certainly say that the propensity for violence has certainly risen following the right-wing debates around immigration,” he said. “The case of Lübcke is certainly very revealing here.   Walter Lübcke faced an enormous amount of hatred in 2015.   That does raise the question:   how much does it take before one person says ‘I’ll reach for a weapon?’   In certain circumstances, not much.”

( “Walter Lubcke murder raises specter of neo-Nazi terrorism,” Deutsche Welle news)

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Stand up to far right, Germany’s Angela Merkel tells Europe

The resignation of Austria’s vice chancellor led German politicians to warn against alliances with populists.   Chancellor Merkel spoke out against right-wing populism as many are now demanding new Austrian elections.   (DW)

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NEO-NAZIS IN AMERICA

The definition of a neo-Nazi is someone who belongs to an organization that is similar to the German Nazi Party of Adolf Hitler.

“Frontline” (PBS) this week showed the growth of neo-Nazis across America.   It showed synagogues that are now doing everything they can to prepare for further mass shootings.

It also interviewed members of neo-Nazi groups and showed a perverse link with the current Administration.    “To make America great again, you would have to make America white again”,  is a direct quote from a leader of the neo-Nazi movement, the Waffen.

“FRONTLINE and ProPublica continue reporting on the resurgence of white supremacist groups in the United States.   “Documenting Hate:   New American Nazis” investigates a violent neo-Nazi group that has actively recruited inside the U.S. military, and examines the group’s terrorist objectives.” (Frontline).

Overlooked here is the major contribution made by liberals, in the growth of Nazism.   The massive influx of immigrants since 1965 has led directly to anti-immigrant feeling.   The 2008 financial crisis contributed greatly to anti-semitism.

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ZUCKERBERG LAUNCHES NEW CURRENCY

“He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has [a]the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” (Rev 13:16-17)

Zuckerberg’s $538 billion social network on Tuesday announced plans to create a new digital currency and financial system that it claims will revolutionize banking. Facebook announced the new currency, called Libra, in a 12-page white paper that promised vast improvements on bitcoin and other volatile digital coins.” (New York Post, 6/18)

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THE DARK SIDE OF ZUCKERBERG’S POWERFUL NEW CRYPTO COIN

“In its quest for world domination, Facebook has already disrupted everything from the media industry to American democracy, drawing scrutiny for things like its pitiful handling of user data, its monopolistic tendencies, and a “digital gangster” mentality along the way.   Now, as regulators in Washington, D.C., bear down on Facebook, co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has acquired a new target: the global financial system.

“On Tuesday, Facebook announced plans to debut Libra, a cryptocurrency it has been developing for more than a year. Described by the company as “a simple global currency and financial infrastructure that can empower billions of people,” Libra will partner Facebook with Mastercard, Visa, Uber, and an array of other high-profile companies in what the New York Times called “the most far-reaching attempt by a mainstream company to jump into the world of cryptocurrencies.”

“David Marcus, who is leading Facebook’s blockchain technology research, is stoked.   “It feels like it is time for a better system,” Marcus told The Times. “This is something that could be a profound change for the entire world.”   Even Zuckerberg, who has spent much of the last two years on a sort of apology tour, sounds like he’s regained his change-the-world mojo.   “Being able to use mobile money can have an important positive impact on people’s lives because you don’t have to always carry cash, which can be insecure, or pay extra fees for transfers,”    Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post.   “We aspire to make it easy for everyone to send and receive money just like you use our apps to instantly share messages and photos.”   (Eric Lutz, Vanity Fair, 6/18)

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THREAT TO US FOOD SUPPLY

“US beekeepers lost 40% of colonies over past year” – The Guardian 6/19

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A VERY BRITISH REVOLUTION

Sun headlines BREXIT

“See EU Later!” – front page headline in The Sun.

“No one was hurt. But still a revolution that will lead to profound change.” (BBC Assistant Political Editor, Norman Smith).

The most important election this year has already taken place.  No, I haven’t forgotten the one in November that has still to take place here in the United States.   Nor am I overlooking the election in Australia next week.

The referendum in the United Kingdom on membership of the European Union was a once in a lifetime vote that will actually lead to significant change, something that normally doesn’t follow a general election.

The British people voted yesterday to leave the European Union.  Or, rather, 52% of those who voted, opted to “Leave;” 48% voted to “Remain.” Even that does not reveal the whole story – London and Scotland voted to “Remain.” The English voted overwhelmingly to leave. London, a city which, at best, is only 50% ethnic English, voted to remain.

The pace of change that is taking place right now is staggering.   Britain is OUT; so is David Cameron, who resigned this morning; it’s only a year since he led the Conservative Party to a surprise win in the last election.  It’s less than two years since the Union with Scotland was secured in the Scottish referendum.  Scotland voted yesterday to stay in the EU.  The First Minister of Scotland is now insisting that Scots be given another opportunity to vote on leaving the UK.  What a change in just a few months!

Even the Leader of the Opposition Labor Party may choose to resign – while he supported continued membership of the EU, the party’s supporters did not.

London’s first Muslim Mayor is even talking of the capital city somehow maintaining a special relationship with Europe.

The prospect of the United Kingdom breaking up is a serious one.  Only England (outside of London) and Wales voted to “Leave.”   Even Gibraltar, the first British territory to vote, voted overwhelmingly to “Remain” – the Spanish Prime Minister, seizing an opportunity, is now calling for joint British and Spanish control of the peninsula.

Meanwhile, there is turmoil on the international financial markets, which will likely continue until some sort of an agreement is reached between the UK and EU, reassuring markets.

It’s a big mess all round!

POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES

  1. Changes could come to the EU.  Other nations may withdraw, forcing change on those that remain.   Financially, the European Union received a lot of money from the UK. This spigot will be cut off.  To paraphrase Margaret Thatcher, the EU has finally run out of other peoples’ money!
  2. The future of the European Union itself is also uncertain.   One thing is absolutely clear – the bureaucrats who control the Union are out of touch with the common people.   Demands from the people of other countries for their own referendum will increase.   Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, is calling for a quick resolution of uncertainty, hoping to stop any contagion.   Anti-Establishment revolutions, even non-violent ones, have a habit of spreading from one country to another – 1989 is a recent example; 1918 and 1848 are two others.
  3. Scotland is more likely to leave the United Kingdom, taking England and Wales back to the seventeenth century.  Northern Ireland’s future is also uncertain.
  4. Germany will emerge from this as a more powerful force in Europe. This was one concern some British people had. Ironically, by voting to leave, they will have helped strengthen Germany as the dominant power in Europe. As the EU progresses, fulfilling its goal of an “ever closer union”, it will inevitably mean a greater role for Berlin.
  5. The referendum was an anti-Establishment vote.  For 43 years the British people have lived under the growing authority of the bureaucratic socialist super-state that is the EU, having to comply with thousands of dictates they did not want.  Some people have done very well out of the EU.  Prominent Brits have jumped aboard the European gravy train and done very well out of it, with high salaries and an even higher expense account.  There has been little or no accountability.
  6. The vote was a vote against globalization.   The driving force in western thinking, since World War II, has been globalization. Multiculturalism, free trade deals, massive numbers of immigrants, have all profoundly changed the western world; yesterday’s vote was the first big sign that the people are hitting back. Half the people (actually a little over half) feel that they are missing out and don’t like the way things are going. That’s true in other countries as well as the UK.
  7. Migration was a major issue.   People don’t like the sheer numbers of Syrians, Iraqis, Poles, Bulgarians, Rumanians, Pakistanis, etc that now live in Britain.   The new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, a Muslim whose family migrated from Pakistan, sensing this significant change in national thinking, campaigned against a Brexit and now wants London to continue an association with Europe.

In this context, it’s interesting to note the prophet Daniel’s observation about the interracial condition of the ancient Roman Empire and of its modern-day successor founded by the Treaty of Rome:

“42 And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. 43 As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.” (Daniel 2:42-43).   Whereas America was a melting pot, the European Union was a union of 28 different nations and cultures, each with its own languages and customs.   Mixing was never going to be as successful as in the United States.

  1. Yesterday’s vote could start a populist movement – even the US may follow in November.   Presidential candidate Donald Trump, on a private visit to Scotland, said this morning that Brexit is a good thing: “the British have gotten their country back.”   Brexiters have a lot in common with Trump, who may capture the mood of Americans in the same way. Hillary Clinton supported the “Remain’ campaign but was out of touch with the people.  (There was no reason for her to get involved in the first place.)   President Obama warned on a recent visit to the UK that if the country left the EU it would go to the “back of the queue” (a British term) to wait for a new trade deal with the US.   Trump today said that will not happen if he becomes president, that the UK has been a close ally of the US for decades and deserves better than that.

Note the following comment on Twitter from Michael Moore, leftist documentary filmmaker who lives in Flint, Michigan:   “Hail Trumptannia!   Fear wins out in UK.   Britain votes to “build a ‘wall’” by leaving EU.  Hatred of immigrants, xenophobia, nationalism reign.  Fellow Americans – we’re up next!”  This is a typical comment from the not-so-intellectual elite, who insult the voters when they lose!  Expect more of the same from the EU as well as the US.

  1. However, financial concerns are justified.  The pound dropped 10% in hours, even before the final tally was realized (trading continued in the Far East due to the time difference) and stock markets are in freefall.  But this was to be expected.   It should soon calm down.   The Emperor Napoleon once dismissed the English as “a nation of shopkeepers”, a quote from Adam Smith in “The Wealth of Nations.”   But this will only help Britain – Germany sells 20% of its cars to the UK, they will not want to lose that market.
  2. The vote for Brexit will have an international effect as well as a domestic one.   Relations between the EU and Russia may change.  The Mayor of Moscow today said that without Britain, the EU will be less likely to continue economic sanctions on the country.

Today we are witnessing a seismic shift in world history.   We don’t see those every day. What we are seeing is England waking up to the consequences of globalism.   Others will follow.   But, the world has changed in the last 43 years.   Whereas the UK was a constant in the pre-EU world, it no longer is.   The EU offers Scotland and Ireland a viable alternative.   The Brexit could mean the end of the United Kingdom.  British historian Paul Johnson wrote in his 1972 book “The Offshore Islanders,” written between Britain’s application to join Europe and its actual membership, that disunity has always been fatal to the offshore islanders (the British).   The country has not been this divided in centuries and will likely see further division ahead.

Europe has already meant the end of David Cameron, who joins his two Conservative predecessors, John Major and Margaret Thatcher, in being brought down by divisions over Europe.   Whoever replaces him as prime minister will have to try and unite the party and the country at a very difficult time in history.

At the same time, there is going to be a lot of lingering bad feelings, in both British major parties and between the UK and the rest of Europe.  Mr. Juncker has just announced an emergency meeting of the other 27 leaders of the EU, to take place on Wednesday. We will soon see what the EU has in mind for a Europe without the UK.

THE PASSAGE OF TIME

Aubren watching the clock strike.
Aubren watching the clock strike.

We’re still moving.

Although the move has gone smoothly, we’re still adjusting to a new home and can’t seem to find anything when we need it.   Or it’s still at the old house!

One little thing has made quite a difference.

In 2002, our youngest daughter bought an “antique grandfather clock” from England that was a limited edition clock to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.   The clock bears a commemorative plate on the front.   Of course, it’s not really an antique as it’s only 14 years old, but it looks like an antique.   Finally, we have a good place for it and it’s now chiming every 15 minutes from 7am to 10pm.

Our eldest grandson loves it.

Wherever he is in his “new house” he runs to the clock when it starts chiming and is fascinated by it.   He then comes running back to me pointing in the direction of the clock and repeating enthusiastically “Hickory Dickory Dock.”   (Long-time readers will remember his love of the old nursery rhyme.)   I’m taking the opportunity to teach him time using the clock.   Every hour you hear the number of strokes denoting the passage of time.   The chimes are “Westminster” chimes, just like Big Ben.

Although, to be exact, not like Big Ben, which, after 150 years, has now been silenced for extensive repairs.  I don’t know what the BBC will do.  When we lived in Ghana, we heard the chimes of Big Ben every day on the BBC World Service, the most listened to radio service in the world.   In a period of turmoil, it conveyed a sense of stability, normalcy and even sanity.  But it’s now too old to continue – until it’s fully repaired.

Our clock and London’s famous clock are reminders of the passage of time.

No two days are exactly alike in this world.   Every fifteen minutes, there’s likely to be some change.   I wonder what the world of our grandchildren will be like when they are 65?

This year we are seeing some changes that may turn out to be very significant.

On Sunday, Austrians gave the right-wing Freedom Party the most votes in the first round of the Austrian presidential election. Now, the president of Austria does not have executive powers.   His responsibilities are more ceremonial, similar to what the Queen has in the United Kingdom.   However, he can dissolve parliament and call an election.   If he does, we may find his party wins and controls parliament.   Europe is moving to the right as the people reject the traditional centrist parties that have governed for seven decades. It’s similar to the 1930’s with a rising nationalism, xenophobia and economic stagnation all contributory factors.

Arguably, the same phenomenon is taking place in the United States with Donald Trump.

We see it in a number of different countries.  In the United Kingdom, a referendum is to take place in a few weeks on the country’s continued membership of the European Union.   We should not confuse this with the euro-zone – Britain has an exemption on this issue regardless of the outcome of the vote.   The EU itself is the issue in June. The EU has a great deal of support, but many want to put “Britain First,” the name of one of the anti-EU parties on the political right.

In hindsight, it was a big mistake for Britain to enter the Union in 1973.  But after more than 40 years of marriage, divorce is not going to be easy.   In the short-term the outcome may not make much of a difference.  The EU is evolving into something more akin to the Holy Roman Empire than the United States, with no two members seemingly alike.  Whatever the outcome of the June 23rd vote, the UK will have to come to terms with a German-dominated potential superpower on its doorstep.

So will the US.   Donald Trump gave a major speech yesterday calling for a radical reappraisal of US foreign policy.   He promised to put “America First,” the name of a movement in the 1930’s to keep America out of Europe’s rising conflict.

It’s been 25 years since the fall of communism but the US continues to spend billions each year defending long-time allies against Russia, China and North Korea.   There is growing resentment amongst American voters who feel that the US has to spend more than its fair share, at a time when Americans are experiencing a fall in their standard of living.

There could be significant changes if Trump wins the election in November.

At the same time, there could be significant changes in Europe regardless of who wins the US election.

King Solomon wrote 3,000 years ago:

“That which has been is what will be,
That which is done is what will be done,
And there is nothing new under the sun.”  (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

Future historians may label this period in time as “the rise of nationalism.”   But it’s nothing new.   We’ve been there before.   The post-World War II international set-up is increasingly falling apart.   Within the next few months we could see some real changes.

In Daniel 2:21 the ancient prophet says of God:

“And He changes the times and the seasons;
He removes kings and raises up kings;
He gives wisdom to the wise
And knowledge to those who have understanding.”

God is behind the rise and fall of nations.   America, like Britain before it, has had its period of pre-eminence.   A withdrawal from much of the world would inevitably diminish America’s international standing – the president would no longer be “the Leader of the Free World.”

It would be time for another superpower to fill the vacuum.

Like our grandfather clock, our grandchildren are likely to see these changes and feel the impact as their world dramatically changes.   They will need to remember the words of Jesus Christ to pray fervently for the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:10).

TERROR ATTACK IN PARIS

BBC News photo
BBC News photo

Europe is the center of attention this week.

In Dresden, an 18,000 strong crowd demonstrated against the Islamization of Europe. PEGIDA (“Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West”) has been staging demonstrations in a number of cities. Counter-demonstrations are also being held by those in support of Muslims. How many of the participants are Muslims themselves has not been revealed.

PEGIDA has been condemned by the German Chancellor and President, along with many other prominent people, but the movement must be a serious worry to the establishment. A backlash against Islam has clearly started and is gaining momentum.

That momentum is likely to build with the terrorist attack in Paris today. Twelve people were killed and as many injured when the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo were invaded by two or three gunmen. It’s of particular concern that the gunmen were asking for specific people who they named. The publication has satirized Islam in the past. It has just been revealed that the publication’s editor and two cartoonists were amongst those murdered.

This is a classic example of a clash of civilizations – whereas western countries appreciate satire, Islamists don’t. It remains to be seen what effect this attack will have on freedom of speech. This is the second attack on the publication’s offices – the first was in November 2011. One of the gunmen shouted, “The prophet has been avenged!” – clearly, any publication or writer who speaks out against Islam is in danger!

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the daily terror attacks that were taking place in France prior to the holidays. France may seem a long way away but the reality is that these attacks could happen anywhere. Ottawa and Sydney suffered terror attacks recently. In the US, one of the Boston Marathon bombers is about to go on trial.

Increasing concerns about the Islamization of Europe will also likely be boosted by a new best-selling novel in France, written by Michel Houellebecq, France’s most famous living writer. The novel’s title is Soumission (Submission), which is the meaning of the word “Islam.”   The book takes a look at France in 2022, not too many years from now, when the country is led by a Muslim who, amongst other things, orders women to stop working (thereby ending unemployment). The novel shows most French collaborating with the new regime, as most did in World War II when the country was invaded by Germany.

Attitudes toward Muslims may also be affected by Europe’s latest economic news. Today, it was revealed that the eurozone has entered a period of deflation, with prices dropping. Partly, this is due to the fall in the price of oil; but it also reflects other factors that show economies going down. There will no doubt be emergency measures taken to stop a deflationary spiral, which is one of the worst things that can happen to an economy. One likely solution to be tried will be quantitative easing, as applied in the US. Otherwise known as printing more money, this practice carries its own risks.

Rising unemployment and economies in disarray will only add to feelings of xenophobia.

Meanwhile, Greece may have a new left-wing government soon, which will increase the likelihood of the country withdrawing from the euro.   The majority of Greeks are angry that the country has gone through a period of severe austerity imposed from outside as the price of staying in the single currency.   The euro can’t be all bad – Lithuania has become the latest country to adopt the currency, which is now used by all three Baltic republics. The three countries, ruled by the Soviet Union before the collapse of communism, are anchoring themselves in the West.

Finally, staying in Europe, Germany’s Angela Merkel is visiting Britain’s David Cameron.   The UK wants to see some changes in the treaties that govern the EU, which Frau Merkel does not want. If those changes are not forthcoming, it’s likely that Britain will pull out of the Union. They will need the German Chancellor’s help whichever way things go, so the visit is timely and comes just before a British general election in May.

It’s going to be an interesting year in Europe, with a serious prospect of big changes.