Trump vows trade deal with UK

UK Prime Minister Theresa May

UK Prime Minister Theresa May

In an interview with the London Times [subscription required], Donald Trump promised a quick trade deal with the UK, thus helping its Brexit transition.  (British prime minister Theresa May and other Brexit supporters were delighted at the news.)

He also gave other indications of what his new foreign policy would be like:  He said he supported NATO, though he considered it “obsolete,” saying only five NATO members are paying their dues.  He also said he might suspend sanctions against Russia in exchange for a nuclear arms cut.

The EU is alarmed because it had been planning to punish the UK economically for pulling out of the union.  Furthermore, if Trump is going to reward UK for breaking away from the European Union, will that encourage other member nations to do the same? Trump’s NATO talk also has Europe worried that they may have to go it alone militarily without the US.

If a free trade pact with the UK were to be extended to other countries that break away from the EU, that could create a new bloc of nations, dominated by the US.  Or maybe Trump’s deal could be extended to other English-speaking countries, such as Canada and Australia.  Throw in India, with its vast population and emerging wealth, as an alternative to China.

Whatever happens, Trump is going to remake American foreign policy, for better or worse (or some of both). [Read more…]

Czech Republic tells citizens to arm themselves

Cz805The Czech Republic, perhaps the most pro-gun nation in Europe, has called on its citizens to arm themselves as a line of defense against terrorists.

Meanwhile, the former Soviet satellite has been battling the European Union, of which it is a member, which has been trying to pass more gun restrictions.  With the help of Finland, Germany, and various national “right wing” groups, the measure was weakened.  But the version that passed will still force member nations, including the Czechs, to impose a ban on “military-style” firearms and to require gun buyers to pass “psychological checks.”

Nevertheless, the Czechs are considering a constitutional amendment to strengthen gun rights. [Read more…]

The world’s favorite Bible verses

phone-1052021_640Do you have the Bible app YouVersion on your phone?  Over 255 million people from around the world do.  It gives the entire Bible in over 1500 versions and in over 1,000 languages.  (This was originally the project of a church here in Oklahoma.)

The technology gives the YouVersion people lots of data.  They can tell what Bible passages are the most highlighted, bookmarked, and shared with others.  With those criteria, guess what the world’s favorite Bible passage is.  See the answer after the jump.

The link also gives the favorite Bible passages of 88 different countries.  What can you tell about them or about the state of Christianity on the basis of that Bible verse?

UPDATE:  Notice how the world’s favorite Bible verse is about being “called”; that is, it is about vocation!

[Read more…]

More Russian dirty tricks

For_Your_Eyes_Only-Ian_FlemingNot only did the Russians hack into the Democrats’ e-mails in an attempt to influence the election.  According to a classified report shared with Donald Trump, the Russians also compiled a dossier of “compromising” information about the president-elect’s personal life and about his finances.

That the Russians released embarrassing information about Hillary Clinton but not about Trump is evidence, according to the CIA, that they wanted to discredit the former but protect the latter.  But now some fear that the Russians may have information to hold over the new president’s head, which they can use to blackmail him into going along with their policies.

What the Russians, perhaps, don’t know is that Trump is uncompromisable and un-blackmailable.  The American public already knows lots of facts about Trump that might sink other politicians, but none of it seems to matter with our new Teflon president.

UPDATE:  The report also claims that members of the Trump campaign went to Russia and directly colluded with Russian intelligence.   All sides are calling “Fake News!” so it’s impossible to sort out the facts and the original document remains unverified, but expect a Congressional investigation to the direct collusion charges. [Read more…]

From Russia with Love

6341892558_531c1e9e93_zDonald Trump and his supporters have been dismissive of U. S. Intelligence claims that the Russians were behind the hacks of the Democratic National Committee e-mails.  These made Hillary Clinton look bad and were then given to Wikileaks, which made them public.  Those intelligence agencies have released a report giving the basis for blaming Russia and Vladimir Putin’s intelligence operations.

The unclassified version of the report leaves out the details but gives the nature of their evidence.  (Read the report for yourself here.)  It says that Putin despised Clinton and wanted Trump to win.  The actions, which also included the use of paid “trolls,” were intended to discredit Clinton–though the Russians expected her to win–and to boost Trump’s chances.

Defenders of Trump have said that some other group could have done the hacking, that the CIA has often been wrong (including finding evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq), that the intelligence agencies are part of the establishment, that they are part of the Democratic administration (despite their non-politicized organization and their history of conflict with liberals), etc., etc.   Yes, lots of things “could have” happened.  But I am not aware of any evidence connecting the hacks to anyone else other than the Russians.  (Do you know of any?  If so, please let us know in the comments.  I’ll continue my thoughts after the jump.) [Read more…]

Obama picks a fight with Russians

Vladimir_Putin_and_Barack_Obama_(2015-09-29)_01President Obama has hit Russia with sanctions and the expulsion of diplomatic personnel in retaliation for Vladimir Putin’s alleged interference  with the U.S. election.  He has also threatened cyberattacks against Russia.

In return, Russia is promising retaliation of its own.

With only twenty or so days left in office, the president has stirred up a conflict with Russia that his successor is going to have to deal with.  Donald Trump, with his pro-Russian leanings, will probably reverse Obama’s actions, but this will just advance the narrative that the Russians put him in office, making his new administration and the nation as a whole look bad.

UPDATE:  Putin is now saying he will not retaliate, hoping for better relations with the Trump administration.

[Read more…]