Wednesday, 7 December 2016

New Atlanticist: Trump, Brexit, and the Myth of Ukrainian Nationalism

New Atlanticist: Trump, Brexit, and the Myth of Ukrainian Nationalism

by Peter Dickinson

"Since the 2014 Revolution of Dignity, the Ukrainian political arena has witnessed the arrival of numerous new nationalistic parties. However, not one of them has emerged as a serious political contender. Opinion polls consistently place overall support for Ukraine’s nationalist parties at between six and eight percent. These surveys tally directly with the results of the autumn 2014 parliamentary election, in which none of the country’s nationalist political parties passed the five percent threshold. The May 2014 presidential race saw nationalist candidates sink without a trace. As if to underline the point, Jewish presidential hopeful Vadim Rabinovich famously received a greater share of the votes than the collective support secured by all the nationalist candidates.

Compared to the rest of Europe, where it is now commonplace for nationalist parties to win upwards of a quarter of the vote, support for nationalists in Ukraine is strikingly low. Given the circumstances in today’s Ukraine, this is particularly noteworthy. Ukrainian society is currently in the midst of a post-revolutionary national awakening while also engaged in what many regard as a war of independence against Russia. If nationalist parties cannot flourish in such a frenzied environment, one has to concede that Ukrainian society does not currently contain the seeds of such fervent.

It is also worth considering the perspectives of Europe’s self-styled nationalist parties. Virtually all of them actively ally themselves with President Vladimir Putin’s Russia and denigrate Ukraine. They receive financing and favors from the Kremlin, lavish praise on Putin as a model nationalist leader, attend far-right forums hosted in Russia, and dutifully accept roles as election observers in Moscow’s hybrid war pantomime. In contrast, nobody from any of Europe’s prominent nationalist groups has come out in support or sympathy for Ukraine’s revolution—a particularly strange state of affairs given the Kremlin’s oft-stated claims of rampant Ukrainian fascism."

National Review: Why Trump’s Phone Conversation with Taiwan’s President Is a Good Sign

National Review: Why Trump’s Phone Conversation with Taiwan’s President Is a Good Sign

by Ian Tuttle

"Taiwan, for its part, only grows more independence-minded. In January, the country reduced the Kuomintang (KMT) to just 35 out of 113 seats in the country’s national parliament, giving the “opposition” Democratic Progressive Party control of the parliament for the first time in the country’s history. Taiwanese voters also elected Tsai, a DPP president. The DPP and smaller, like-minded parties, as opposed to the KMT and its allies, generally believe that Taiwan is de facto independent, and they eschew the KMT’s conciliatory approach to Beijing, preferring an approach that is more cautiously antagonistic. Given that younger voters feel little to no connection with mainland China, a more independence-minded politics is likely to gain ground in coming years.

This is a movement the United States should support. There are economic reasons, certainly: Taiwan occupies an integral place in the global technology supply chain, for example. But, more important, Taiwan is a country of freedom-loving people who are governed by legitimately elected representatives, who operate a free press, and who seek to work amicably with a community of international partners. China is a large, sprawling, complex country, in which many people are flourishing economically; but it is ruled by a one-party dictatorship that seeks to maintain — and is presently working to consolidate — power. The contrast between the two countries is perhaps most visible at the entrance to Taipei 101, the tallest skyscraper in Taiwan and formerly the tallest building in the world: Visitors will see Falun Gong adherents practicing their religion openly and protesting the Chinese government. But just 110 miles to the west, across the Taiwan Strait, Falun Gong practitioners are imprisoned and used to source a state-run organ-trafficking trade."

National Review: Donald Trump’s Taiwan Call: An Opportunity, Not a Crisis

National Review: Donald Trump’s Taiwan Call: An Opportunity, Not a Crisis

Editorial

It is a telling comment on America’s political Left that they have reacted more strongly to Donald Trump’s potentially “undiplomatic” phone call to the head of a vibrant democracy than to the regime in Beijing trying to crush that democracy. Visitors to Taiwan will find a fairly elected president, a vigorous legislature, an open press, religious freedom, the fifth-largest economy in Asia, and a unique culture that straddles East and West. A little over 100 miles to the west, visitors will find a one-party dictatorship, directly descended from the terrors of Chairman Mao, that “disappears” political dissidents and harvests the organs of Falun Gong adherents.

But the latter claims sovereignty over the former. According to the government in Beijing, Taiwan does not have a “president” or a “legislature.” China has never recognized Taiwan’s independence, and still harbors hopes of bringing the island back under Beijing’s rule, under the auspices of its specious “One China” philosophy (to which we have long been opposed; historically, the PRC ought to be considered a province of Taiwan, whose government predates the Communists by nearly four decades). To this end, China exercises significant economic pressure to keep Taiwan dependent on Chinese markets; it exercises diplomatic pressure to keep Taiwan from participation in international bodies such as the United Nations (where even the Palestinian Liberation Organization has observer status); and, if worse comes to worst, it is prepared to deploy the 1,500 short-range ballistic missiles currently pointed at Taiwan. It turns out that, the week before Trump’s phone call, two nuclear-capable Chinese bombers encircled Taiwan during a long-range surveillance mission.


I hope Trump goes even further and travels to Taiwan to meet President Tsai Ing-wen.

Canada to lead NATO Battle Group

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady



O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin prepared a worthy dwelling for your Son, grant, we pray, that, as you preserved her from every stain by virtue of the Death of your Son, which you foresaw, so, through her intercession, we, too, may be cleansed and admitted to your presence. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


The Litany of Loretto

Lord, have mercy on us
Christ, have mercy on us
Lord, have mercy on us
Christ, hear us
Christ, graciously hear us

God the Father of heaven,
have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the World,
have mercy on us.

God the Holy Spirit,
have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, one God,
have mercy on us.

Holy Mary,
pray for us.

Holy Mother of God,
pray for us.

Holy Virgin of virgins,
pray for us.

Mother of Christ,
pray for us.

Mother of Divine Grace,
pray for us.

Mother most pure,
pray for us.

Mother most chaste,
pray for us.

Mother inviolate,
pray for us.

Mother undefiled,
pray for us.

Mother most amiable,
pray for us.

Mother most admirable,
pray for us.

Mother of good counsel,
pray for us.

Mother of our Creator,
pray for us.

Mother of our Saviour,
pray for us.

Virgin most prudent,
pray for us.

Virgin most venerable,
pray for us.

Virgin most renowned,
pray for us.

Virgin most powerful,
pray for us.

Virgin most merciful,
pray for us.

Virgin most faithful,
pray for us.

Mirror of justice,
pray for us.

Seat of wisdom,
pray for us.

Cause of our joy,
pray for us.

Spiritual vessel,
pray for us.

Vessel of honour,
pray for us.

Singular vessel of devotion,
pray for us.

Mystical rose,
pray for us.

Tower of David,
pray for us.

Tower of ivory,
pray for us.

House of gold,
pray for us.

Ark of the covenant,
pray for us.

Gate of heaven,
pray for us.

Morning star,
pray for us.

Health of the sick,
pray for us.

Refuge of sinners,
pray for us.

Comforter of the afflicted,
pray for us.

Help of Christians,
pray for us.

Queen of Angels,
pray for us.

Queen of Patriarchs,
pray for us.

Queen of Prophets,
pray for us.

Queen of Apostles,
pray for us.

Queen of Martyrs,
pray for us.

Queen of Confessors,
pray for us.

Queen of Virgins,
pray for us.

Queen of all Saints,
pray for us.

Queen conceived without original sin,
pray for us.

Queen assumed into heaven,
pray for us.

Queen of the most holy Rosary,
pray for us.

Queen of Peace,
pray for us.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.

Grant we beseech Thee, O Lord God,
that we, Thy servants,
may enjoy perpetual health of mind and body:
and, by the glorious intercession of the blessed Mary, ever Virgin,
be delivered from present sorrow and enjoy eternal gladness.
Through Christ, our Lord.

Amen.


Holy Mary, Virgin Conceived Without Sin, pray for us, that by God's grace, we may turn from all that is wrong.

Naturalis Historia| A Dinosaur Tale: A Young-Earth Speaker Takes on the Asteroid Extinction Theory

Naturalis Historia| A Dinosaur Tale: A Young-Earth Speaker Takes on the Asteroid Extinction Theory

"The problem is that Tommy Mitchell lack of specific knowledge of the fossil record has resulted in his presenting a false understanding of fossils to his audience. He hasn’t provided any real answers at all. He trivializes the facts by either not mentioning important ones or by simply getting his facts wrong.

It is not surprising that someone not familiar with the fossil record of dinosaurs might believe that many dinosaur fossils are the direct result of the asteroid impact. But, Tommy Mitchell is an expert in the eyes of the audience and as such he has a responsibility to be better informed than his audience rather than subject to the same misconceptions. He has a responsibility to get his facts right and present his opponents views accurately. Unfortunately, the many errors in his talk can’t be dismissed as just the result of hasty production. Mitchell has been giving this same talk for at least 2 years. Every word in this talk has been carefully constructed to influence they audience toward a particular view of dinosaurs.

Mitchell even makes a plea to his audience to become informed about dinosaurs because he says it is critical that Christians have answers to dinosaur questions. He is worried that our kids will learn answers about dinosaurs from the world rather than the Bible and thus parents need to educate themselves about dinosaurs and teach our kids these answers. He even pulls out a piece of 1 Peter 3:15 to emphasize the importance of understanding dinosaurs, “… be ready always to give an answer….” That is the Answers in Genesis motto. Always have an answer and AiG will provide you with answers to all your dinosaur questions in their books and videos. But what good are answers if they are based on misconception and poor scholarship?"

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Nick Tyrone: How Theresa May could be walking into a trap partly of her own making

Nick Tyrone: How Theresa May could be walking into a trap partly of her own making

"I am now starting to think that Theresa May has begun to play herself into a corner on Brexit, one she better find a way out of quickly. Even though Labour have meanwhile played themselves into the worst position imaginable on the topic of Brexit, others are setting themselves up nicely. As I wrote yesterday, UKIP’s “don’t invoke Article 50” means that if she has any bumps in the road post triggering, she has a party that has set itself up to capitalise. In the Lib Dems and the SNP, you have small and regional but nonetheless significant enough parties who are doom-saying about the whole procedure in advance. Perhaps worst of all for May, there are those in her own party on both Remain and Leave sides of the argument who want to pounce if and when it does not all go to plan.

Theresa May has massive approval ratings at present. But this is partly based on Jeremy Corbyn’s spectacular unpopularity, and partly based on the fact that she has convinced enough people that she is intent on making Brexit happen – and more importantly, that deep down she knows how she will do this, or at least has the talent to pull off a decent post-Brexit settlement. The problem is, it’s clear she’s still trying to get to grips with it all and doesn’t have a clear plan.

Perhaps she figures it all out at some point and comes up with a brilliant plan to make it all work. Perhaps she gets very lucky. But if neither occur, the wrath awaiting her on all sides is not something I would wish upon anyone."

The Guardian| Top Tories: hard Brexit stance could lose us next election

The Guardian| Top Tories: hard Brexit stance could lose us next election

Writing in the Observer, the former Conservative cabinet minister, Dominic Grieve, ex-foreign office minister Alistair Burt and former transport minister Claire Perry, along with education select committee chair Neil Carmichael and Bath MP Ben Howlett, say the Richmond outcome must serve as a wake-up call to the prime minister.

“The Conservative party needs to be alert that there is a moderate core of Conservative voters, who voted Remain, and who want to hear the Conservative government speaking above the noise of the Brexiters,” they say. “They do not want the Conservative party to be Ukip-lite, nor to hear that their desire for a negotiated Brexit … is somehow an attempt to delay or simply an expression of Remoaning.

“They want the Conservative leadership to speak for them, too, and Richmond may be a reminder that their votes have another destination if we don’t get this right. That moderate voice is crucial for the party to keep the votes of the middle ground who could lose the Conservative party the next election if they take their votes elsewhere.”


Moderate Tories (like me) should not be taken for granted by Theresa May.

Trump's Policy on Syria is basically the same as Obama's Failed Policy

The Henry Jackson Society|Analysis: ‘Trump Might Continue Obama’s Dangerous Syria Policy’

by Kyle Orton

"Which leaves the apparent dichotomy between IS and Assad. Put aside that Assad provided shelter, training camps, logistical and other support for IS during the entire time Western forces were present in Iraq. Put aside, too, how many foreign fighters arrived at Damascus International Airport and were then moved by Assad’s military-intelligence service to IS safe-houses overseen by this same intelligence apparatus in eastern Syria, before being set loose as suicide bombers on Iraq. It will never be possible to calculate how many hundreds of Western soldiers and thousands of Iraqi civilians would now be alive but for Assad’s support for IS. This wasn’t restricted to Iraq, either. U.S. courts found Assad liable for IS’s regional terrorism in the middle of the last decade.

What has Assad done to counter IS since it emerged in Syria? Very little. Assad said the opposition were terrorists, and then worked very hard to make it so. At the beginning of the uprising, the release of waves of Islamist prisoners was intended to stain a peaceful opposition with sectarianism and violence. “The regime did not just open the door to the prisons and let these extremists out, it facilitated them in their … creation of armed brigades,” as one defector explained. Among those freed at this early stage was Amr al-Absi (Abu al-Atheer), one of IS’s most senior leaders and a crucial actor in the formation of the caliphate.

For an entire year after IS began seizing territory, Assad left them alone, despite his entire war strategy by that point being built around using airstrikes to make life in rebel-held areas unliveable so that no attractive alternative government took hold to which people could defect. It’s not difficult to understand why Assad allowed IS to remain and expand: “letting black-clad terrorists run around … crucifying and beheading people, made for great propaganda,” as Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan write in ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror. During the 2014 rebel offensive against IS, Assad bombed the rebels. That summer, the regime and IS assaulted the rebels in tandem in Aleppo. In June 2015, during a replay of the joint assault on Aleppo, the U.S. Embassy in Syria protested that Assad was “aiding extremists against [the] Syrian population” and not only avoiding IS “but actively seeking to bolster their position”. This had been happening for some time, but, as a rebel spokesman noted, “It was never this blatant”."


Trump will do what Obama is doing; letting Assad and the Russians fight the rebels, while leaving ISIS well alone.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Enhanced Forward Presence

The Guardian: UK defence secretary tells US only Nato can deter Russian threat

The Guardian: UK defence secretary tells US only Nato can deter Russian threat


British defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon, making the first trip across the Atlantic by a UK cabinet minister since Donald Trump won the election, told the incoming administration that Russia presented a real threat that only Nato could deter.

Trump on the campaign trail repeatedly spoke warmly about a need for increased dialogue with Russian president Vladimir Putin while questioning the basic tenets of the Nato alliance, in particular that an attack on one constitutes an attack on all.

Such comments created alarm among Nato members, particularly in the Baltic states, who, even though Nato members, fear Russia might seek to destabilise them.

Fallon urged the Trump administration not to retreat into isolationism, one of the populist threads during his campaign. “First, it is important that America remains an outward-looking nation,” Fallon told the conference.

The defence secretary’s speech aimed to balance establishing a rapport with Trump’s administration while sending a message that the UK regards Nato as the cornerstone of European defence and concerns over Russia.

He told the conference that Nato countries are in a “strategic competition” with Russia.

Fallon said: “Russia’s actions in Crimea and Ukraine have tested the alliance. You only have to visit Nato’s eastern flank to understand the acute sense of vulnerability that abounds. There’s no point pretending this is business as usual. Dialogue with Russia is useful. But deterrence is essential.

The Feast of Saint John of Damascus

Grant, we pray, O Lord, that we may be helped by the prayers of the Priest Saint John Damascene, so that the true faith, which he excelled in teaching, may always be our light and our strength. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


Saint John of Damascus, pray for us, for all theologians and for peace in Syria.

The Feast of Saint Barbara



Oh God, who among the other miracles of Your power, have given the victory of martyrdom, grant, we beseech You, that we, who are celebrating the heavenly blessed Saint Barbara, Your Virgin and Martyr, may by her example draw nearer to you, Amen.



Saint Barbara, your courage is much stronger than the forces of hurricanes and the power of lightening. Be always by our side so that we, like you, may face all storms, wars, trials and tribulations with the same fortitude with which you faced yours. O Beautiful Maiden once imprisoned in a high tower, protect us from the lightning and fire that rages in the sky and the discord of war. Keep us alert and protect us from the dangers that surround us. Holy Mary Mother of Jesus intercessor for us all; we pray to assure receiving of the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist at the hour of our death. Through Jesus Christ Our Lord, Amen


Saint Barbara, pray for us, that we may love Christ and be faithful to Him unto death.

The Weekly Standard: Cotton Commends Trump for Talking to Taiwan's President

The Weekly Standard: Cotton Commends Trump for Talking to Taiwan's President

Tom Cotton, a Republican senator from Arkansas, issued a statement Friday evening praising Trump for speaking to Taiwan's president. "America's policy toward Taiwan is governed by the Taiwan Relations Act, under which we maintain close ties with Taiwan and support its democratic system," Cotton said. "I commend President-elect Trump for his conversation with President Tsai Ing-wen, which reaffirms our commitment to the only democracy on Chinese soil. I have met with President Tsai twice and I'm confident she expressed to the president-elect the same desire for closer relations with the United States."

It's time western leaders put pressure on China to recognize the right of the Taiwanese people to determine their own future. While there is a question about motives, Trump's call to the Taiwan president is a positive step forward and probably the best thing he is done since being elected.

Politics.co.uk| Richmond byelection shock: Theresa May’s Brexit weakness revealed

Politics.co.uk| Richmond byelection shock: Theresa May’s Brexit weakness revealed

by Ian Dunt

"But despite these caveats, the Richmond result does say something important about Brexit. It shows that while Leave won in June, there is outrage from many Remainers at the type of Brexit which is being pursued. A marginal vote has been interpreted in the most radical possible manner, not just by taking us out the EU, but the single market and customs union too. A more modest Brexit proposal would be less likely to stoke anger from voters in places like Richmond.

May has pursued this hard line not out of strength but weakness. She could have offered a more limited proposal, fulfilling the Brexit mandate but trying not to alienate the 16 million Remain voters in the country. Instead, she has been besieged by hard Brexiters in the Tory party, Ukip and the press. She is driving Britain towards a cliff edge, with a chaotic pull-out in two years expected to do untold economic damage to the UK. Until then, she will find herself at the mercy of European negotiators during Article 50 talks. They hold several key advantages over the UK, in terms of the timetable, the consequences of failure, negotiating capacity, and economic clout. Her only contribution to this process was a conference speech in October which limited her room to manoeuvre in Brussels in exchange for short term support from her own party.

May is weak in parliament, weak in the country and weak in Europe. She is weak everywhere. Her response to Goldsmith’s decision to trigger the byelection was to not stand anyone against him. That in itself was a startling admission of vulnerability. Not only did she have to allow a suspension of collective Cabinet responsibility over Heathrow but she had to swallow Goldsmith’s vanity byelection, and then allow him to run unopposed. And she still lost. Her wafer-thin majority has been sliced down by two."

Getting Stronger