Saturday, 17 March 2018

Forward Presence Battle Group

Friday, 16 March 2018

The Feast of Saint Patrick

O God, who chose the Bishop Saint Patrick to preach your glory to the peoples of Ireland, grant, through his merits and intercession, that those who glory in the name of Christian may never cease to proclaim your wondrous deeds to all. 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 Patrick, pray for us, and for Ireland.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

A Call to Unity from Chuka Umunna and Anna Soubry

Evening Standard: The Brexit generation will never forgive our parties if we fail

by Anna Soubry and Chuka Umunna

"Given a free vote, we believe our colleagues would support Britain staying in both the single market and customs union — not just because that is what they believe in but because their constituents are desperate for an outcome that secures the economic future of their children and grandchildren.

We also believe that if we don’t get this right there will be profound adverse consequences not just for our economy and place in the world but also on the way we do politics in Britain.

Too many government ministers bury their Brexit fears under piles of ministerial papers, shy away from debate in interministerial groups and get whisked away from difficult discussions in cosy cars. Too often their excuses for ducking the difficult decisions are parroted by the Opposition frontbench.

For the first time ever, a Government is set upon a course which, on its own admission, will make us less prosperous. We were promised the “exact same benefits” by David Davis, but now in a welcome blast of Brexit reality Mrs May admits we will have reduced access to the single market and there will be no passporting for London’s financial services. And that, of course, is her opening pitch."

Monday, 12 March 2018

Turkish Flag Hoisted

Encouraging to see continued military co-operation between the US and Turkey.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Euromaidan Press: What can Ukraine offer NATO?

Euromaidan Press: What can Ukraine offer NATO?

"Since the inception of bilateral relations in the early 1990s, Ukraine has proved itself as a reliable partner that showed its commitment to values and standards of NATO through joint military operations, counter-terrorism missions, and security sector reforms. For the past two decades, Ukraine demonstrated its commitment to principles of the transatlantic security framework through participating in the wide range of NATO-led operations.

Ukraine took part in a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, ISAF mission in Afghanistan, and training mission in Iraq; contributed its navy to the counter-piracy initiative Ocean Shield off the coast of Somalia and counter-terrorism Operation Active Endeavour in the Mediterranean Sea. It became the first non-member country to contribute its troops to the NATO Response Force. Ukraine provided NATO with unique airlift capabilities and actively participated in joint civil emergency exercises. Although the military cooperation has reached a strategic level, a combination of factors including the lack of political will and opposition from Russia prevented the intensification of the dialogue. Two years of conflict in eastern Ukraine has not only rallied the public and governmental support for the deeper integration in NATO structures, but also forged Ukraine into a much stronger partner with a unique set of capabilities that could be crucial for the Alliance."

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Fire and Fury, by Michael Wolff

I finished reading Michael Wolff's penetration of the Trump White House this week. I must say I really enjoyed it and found it a difficult book to put down. It really does feel like watching a TV series, such is Wolff's marvelously lively portrayal of the characters. It was also fun to relive the news headlines of the past year and to see them from an ostensibly insider perspective. Obviously, it is impossible for the reader to know how much of Wolff's report is accurate.

Trump comes across as slightly poor likeable than he is sometimes portrayed in the media, but he nevertheless is shown to be generally a pathetic and pitiable figure. A good deal of this is written from the perspective of Steve Bannon, who is clearly Wolff's most important source. At times, this book almost comes across as a biography of Bannon. Wolff seems to have a remarkable admiration for Bannon, making him out to be the voice of integrity and honesty in the White House. Other right-wing figures come in for praise; notably Ann Coulter is credited with persuading Trump that he cannot employ any of his children as Chief of Staff. Likewise, the chief liberal figures in the White House, 'Jarvanka,' as Wolff christens the husband and wife team of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, are portrayed as the villains, ambitious, untrustworthy, but also incompetent and out of their depth. This right-wing bias in the book has gained surprisingly little comment among the liberal readers who have eagerly devoured it.

Eastern Ukraine Situation Report 10th March

Friday, 9 March 2018

The Washington Post: What should immigration activists do now?

The Washington Post: What should immigration activists do now?

by Jennifer Rubin

"Third, immigration activists have let the anti-immigrant crowd run away with the national security and safety issues on immigration-related issues. That’s a mistake. The facts are actually on the side of pro-immigration activists. The Muslim ban does not make us safer; in fact, we need American Muslim communities to work hand in glove with law enforcement to spot and prevent radicalization among young people. The same holds true on crime. Cities that do not want to do Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) work for the agency (by holding suspected undocumented immigrants, turning them over to the feds without warrants, etc.) are taking this stance in part because they must create an environment in which immigrants will report crimes and cooperate in catching and trying criminals. This is why local and state law enforcement generally (not everywhere, certainly) do not want to be dragooned into rounding up undocumented immigrants and facilitating their deportation; in the end, it makes their jobs harder.

The successes that big cities have had in reducing crime, especially violent crime, should be highlighted — and proffered as evidence that prioritizing public safety (not acting as ICE’s minions) makes the country safer. Likewise, aggressively challenging the administration’s deportation of non-criminals is essential if pro-immigrant activists are to make the case that we are safer when authorities are focused on dangerous criminals, not on chemistry teachers."

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Jayda Fransen of Britain First sent to the Clink

Daily Mail: Britain First leader and deputy are jailed for a total of 54 weeks for hate crimes linked to gang rape as judge blasts their 'hostility towards Muslims'

On hearing the sentence Fransen said: 'I think this is a very sad day for British justice...

She is then cut off by Judge Barron who said he did not want to hear a political slogan.

She added: 'Everything I have done is for the children and they are worth it.'

Upon saying this the public gallery- that was packed with Britain First supporters- erupted in applause.

The supporters then left the court abusing the judge and the press saying they were 'disgraceful' and also shouting 'no surrender'

Golding and Fransen were led down to the cells.

Some very good news for once. All that free publicity from Donald Trump didn't save these racist thugs from jail. Funny how the Daily Mail journalist tries so hard to paint them in as favourable light as possible.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

The Feast of Saint Perpetua and Saint Felicity

O God, at the urging of whose love the Martyrs Saints Perpetua and Felicity defied their persecutors and overcame the torment of earth, grant, we ask, by their prayers, that we may ever grow in your love. 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.

St. Perpetua and Saint Felicity, pray for us, that we may be men and women of faith.

I am very proud that my birthday should fall on the 7th March, the feast day of such blessed martyrs and I regard them as my holy patrons.

The Costs of an Hard Brexit

Independent: Boris Johnson warned that violent Brexit rhetoric risks undermining EU talks and ruining Britain's reputation

Independent: Boris Johnson warned that violent Brexit rhetoric risks undermining EU talks and ruining Britain's reputation

A cross-party group of British MEPs has warned Boris Johnson that he and other Brexiteers risk undermining negotiations with the EU and ruining Britain’s image abroad with their repeated use of violent war imagery when talking about Brexit.

The Foreign Secretary has been sent a letter, seen by The Independent, from 20 British MEPs in six different parties, including Mr Johnson’s own. They argue that the casual use of the language of “war and conflict” to describe talks with the UK’s allies is “dangerous”, undermines negotiations and does “not promote an image of a deep and special relationship, but a hostile one”.

Criticising “the language used by many senior politicians and much of the press”, the MEPs single out “terms such as ‘war cabinet’, ‘punishment’, ‘demands’, ‘blackmail’ and similar” – some of which have been used by the Foreign Secretary himself.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Where Creationists Contradict the Bible, by K. Scott Schaeffer

This is an hard hitting assault on Young Earth Creationism. He refers to the Young Earthers as 'Traditional Creation Enforcers,' which is an apt description for Ken Ham & Co, I think. The author seems to take a concordist approach to Genesis One. I don't favour this approach, nor do I agree with all of his interpretations of the Genesis narratives, but he does a good job of showing that the literal exegesis of the Creationists does not stand up. A fairly good critique of Flood Geology is provided. The author states that he had tended to think the flood was global, but in more recent years had come to favour (rightly in my opinion) the local flood view. The final chapter rebuts some commonly offered arguments for creationism. Schaeffer points out the way that so often Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis have to tell their followers to stop using old arguments that have demonstrable scientific flaws. He feels that Creation Scientists pursue a deceptive strategy, selecting evidence that seems to reinforce what they already believe.

The author seems to accept animal evolution, but says very little about the question of human evolution or early hominids. Schaeffer takes a very anti-Catholic stance and at one point seems to say that Catholics are not Christians! Nevertheless, this is a book that's worth reading for a good rebuttal of Young Earth Creationism.

The Feast of Saint Casimir

Almighty God, to serve you is to reign; grant that, with the help of Saint Casimir's intercession, we may constantly serve you in holiness and justice. 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 Casimir, pray for us, and for Poland.

Obey the Pope: What does it mean to say "I absolve you"?

Obey the Pope: What does it mean to say "I absolve you"?

"It must also be noted that neither Pope Francis nor any of the bishops who have issued implementing guidelines have said anything to the effect that a divorced person in a new civil union can simply discern that sex with his or her partner in the union is a mere venial sin and on that basis alone receive Holy Communion without prior sacramental confession. The guidelines for Buenos Aires, Malta, Rome and Braga all refer to access to the sacraments of both Penance and the Eucharist. In other words, Amoris Laetitia proposes a path of discernment for divorced persons in civil unions that may allow them to have the same access to the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist that every other Catholic has. This is a change from prior sacramental discipline that imposed special restrictions on divorced persons in civil unions on the basis of their objective outward state and the confusion and scandal this could cause to the community.

Previous sacramental discipline did take into account the subjective intent of a divorced person in a civil union: whether they have a "commitment to continence." It is clear from the Buenos Airs guidelines that Pope Francis has softened this requirement based on whether or not it is feasible and whether there are mitigating circumstances that reduce culpability. This ties back into another subjective, invisible element of the sacrament of Penance (in addition to the examination of conscience): contrition. Contrition requires sorrow for sins, a purpose of not sinning in the future, and a purpose of avoiding near occasions of sin."

Excellent discussion of sacramental discipline here.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Methodism Reborn, by Lindsay Cameron

The spread and growth of Methodist Christianity in the South Pacific in the 19th and 20th century has been impressive, thanks to the labours of so many faithful missionaries. In particular, the Kingdom of Tonga is the world's only officially Methodist country. This book provides a good history of this growth. It also provides a history of Methodism in Australia and New Zealand, which is a good deal less interesting. This is one of those denominational histories that go into incredible detail, listing every quarrel in the Australian Methodist church and the names of every Wesleyan missionary labouring in the South Pacific.

The author takes a conservative stance, holding to inerrancy, which is good and Young Earth Creationism, which is not so good. The author is dismayed by the drift of Methodism into liberalism and feels that a good deal of the decline of the Wesleyan movement can be traced to the abandonment of Weley's model of class meetings, a system that had encouraged spiritual growth and discipleship.