Sunday, June 26, 2016

BREXIT: Will Scotland leave the UK? (After 300 years of the union . . .)

The Guardian reports:
Scotland is on the brink of staging a fresh referendum on independence after Nicola Sturgeon requested talks with the EU on separate membership after the UK’s vote to leave.

The first minister said she believed a second referendum on independence was highly likely after Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain within the EU [--> 62%], but was unable to prevent the leave campaign winning by 52% to 48% across the UK as a whole.
Sturgeon said that was a “democratic outrage” and constituted the clear, material change in Scotland’s circumstances referred to in the Scottish National party’s carefully worded manifesto commitment in May to hold a second independence vote if needed.

“It is a significant material change in circumstances. It’s a statement of the obvious that the option of a second independence referendum must be on the table, and it is on the table,” she said.

Sturgeon announced that she was instructing Scottish government officials to draft fresh referendum legislation for Holyrood, only two years after her party lost the first independence vote in 2014, to ensure it could be held quickly if enough Scottish voters backed it. 

UK government sources said David Cameron, who quit as prime minister after the referendum defeat, was anxious that his successor make sure the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland government were closely involved in the UK’s Brexit negotiations to avoid increasing Scottish grievances and fuelling the case for independence.
Fundamentally, the concern of the brexiters has been subjugation to a democratically unaccountable, unresponsive bureaucracy of the forty thousand in Brussels. 

This reflects in concerns over immigration and more, which is compounded by issues of race and  the immigration of IslamIST radicals leading to onward civil strife. 

For Scotland, the EU likely seems a counter-weight to The City of London proper and its toffs, the power-centre square mile elite who dominate the UK. (The City's power elites and institutions plainly seem largely unaccountable to the Scots; who are a minority -- an "island" of 5.35 millions in a "sea" of 65.1 million in the overall UK. Hence, the compromise strategy of devolution; i.e. federal elements in a unitary state. Yea, can Iron and Miry Clay mix and cleave together?)

Now that this issue has been put back on the table, the period of uncertainty and turmoil are now extended, with sobering implications for global financial markets. 

However, those who would go independent would need to ask, if the UK's City is unaccountable, what about the EU elite?

What would back a Scottish currency, if the Euro is unacceptable?

What of the implications of North Sea oil running down and the price of oil having come down sharply?

And, more.

I guess, to speak to this, it is not enough to say one is a stakeholder in another UK territory. So, I put the slice of me that is Scottish by descent on the table. (Yes, there is something undefinable but clearly there, a spiritual tie that connects one ancestrally; just as affairs in Africa call out to all of us in the Caribbean also. [What, you imagine that after a few generations you have not a touch of the "tar" in your blood? Get real! We are a mongrel region, and we are the better for it.])

I dare to suggest to Scotland that history counts, it speaks to ties that cannot be cut.

It is no accident that the mother of our beloved Queen, Elizabeth II, was a Scotswoman. Yes, Queen Mum of fond memory, the lady who defied Hitler's Blitz in London and earned her place in our hearts the hard way.

 (And yes, much of the rest of Her Majesty's roots are recently German. That is where the Angles, Saxons and Jutes came from, with the Danes as close kin -- what, 1500 years past. And yes, genetic studies show that the Celtic root-stocks of England and Wales are effectively indistinguishable from those of Belgium. We must never forget, the only British King to have the well-earned title, The Great, was a Saxon; Alfred. Where of course, thanks to some wealthy West Indian planters, the Royal Family is not without a touch of the tar or two. Reality: we are mongrels all, or better, cousins. Ask old Grampa Noah about it.)

On balance, reasonable devolution and responsible contribution in Britain are far more likely to be beneficial in the long term, now that the toffs have been served a helping of crow bigger than any they have had since July 4th 1776.

And, I dare say, that a rump Britain and a tiny Scotland in a time of grave turmoil would be utter geostrategic folly.

Let us never lose sight of what now confronts the world:

Even Vanity Fair senses it -- not to mention a very worried Germany:
In the first hours of the strange new world, Prime Minister David Cameron, a broken man, announced that he would be stepping down, implicitly acknowledging that referendum was entirely of his making, and that he was responsible for losing it. Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the Scottish National Party, announced that the country, which had voted overwhelmingly to remain, would likely be seeking a new independence referendum in order to join the E.U. as an independent nation. In Northern Ireland, where a majority had also voted to remain, Martin McGuinness, the deputy first minister and member of nationalist Sinn Fein, called for a poll on a united Ireland. Nearly a century after the Irish Civil War, and only decades removed form incomprehensible atrocities of the Troubles, it is indeed conceivable that the border between Ulster and the Republic could be vanquished.

If these things happen, and there is no reason why they shouldn’t, the United Kingdom, once a great power and still the world’s fifth-largest economy, will be reduced to a rump state of England and Wales. It would have a vastly diminished presence on the international stage—the victim, as Der Spiegel noted, of “an act of deliberate self mutilation” that bears the “emblem of a country in retreat.”
The world has changed this past week, with all sorts of consequences. It is time to act with sober prudence. END

Friday, June 24, 2016

Pound pounded

Yahoo news 5-day trend:

Food for thought. END

BREXIT! Where are we now? (In a lot of trouble, but not without hope.)

. . . including, regarding major trends of our civilisation vis a vis the IslamISTS, also as a civilisation, we face "seven mountains of influence" issues.

I add, the initial cliff-edge fall-off in the Pound [US$ 1.50 --> 1.44] as Sunderland gave the first indication Brexit would likely win:

Sky News, live:

Guardian graphic breakdown of the vote:

Key initial impacts:
  • UK Prime Minister, David Cameron has resigned, staying on as a three-month caretaker
  • Former Mayor of London Boris Johnson (leader of the Brexit campaign) is tipped a likely successor
  • A 2 - 4 year estimated Lisbon Article 50 leave process is likely to begin under Cameron's successor.
  • The Governor of the Bank of England has promised liquidity in Pounds and key foreign currencies to ease pressure on UK markets and the currency.
  • Key stocks, starting with leading banks are off by up to 1/5.
  • FTSE initially has dived 6.95% though as of this writing it has clawed its way back above the 6,000 threshold,
  • the GBP dived 5.77% against the Euro (which is itself falling), and up to 8.46% against the US$, hitting as low as $1.36 down from $1.50 on the eve of the vote. The Yen is rising.
  • Gold is surging, oil is falling.
  • The Scots have long since warned that a Brexit would re-open the independence question, which would have major consequences for the UK's geostrategic stance in the world, and knock-on effects for the global economy and stability.
  • And much more . . .
Geostrategic issues are of sobering concern when we consider the global geostrategic situation:

We must also ponder civilisation level trends, for which the (generic) seven mountains of influence approach may be helpful:

One obvious implication is this is a sign of rising nationalism in the midst of an unsettling and utterly atypical US Election year that just saw an assassination attempt -- directly parallel to the murder of a UK Member of Parliament. (If anything, that would tend to favour Mr Trump; providing, he does in fact become the Republican nominee.)

As touching origins debates and linked concerns relevant to Intelligent Design and to the historic Judaeo-Christian heritage of our civilisation, the key issue will be the power moves made during a time of uncertainties and instabilities. 

For, we deal with those of the Marxian type view that a "crisis" must not go to "waste."

Here in Montserrat and in the wider Caribbean, we just took a direct, hard hit as both the UK and the European Union are key development partners. 

A Turtle, head and limbs in the shell . . .
An article at The Montserrat Reporter explores such impacts, for Montserrat. Regional leaders and the public should ponder the thoughts and concerns raised. Above all, we must not panic or go into a head-in-the-shell mode.

Vigilance, is eternally the price of liberty. END

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Matt 24 watch 294: A news summary on the Orlando attack


Summary on FBI background:


Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer refute the politically correct talking points:

Food for thought. END

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Matt 24 watch, 293: Privileged species vs Darwinism as a universal acid . . .

 Q: How does one forge a container for a universal acid?

A: One cannot, it will eat up its own container and then set itself loose on the world as a universal plague . . . 

By contrast, let us reflect.


Food for thought as we ponder our significance and particularly what it means to find ourselves inescapably under the government of ought. 

Let me share a comment I made in discussion at UD this morning:
>>morals and ethics (as well as principles) can be addressed at three levels; here, I cite Clark and Rakestraw:
Principles are broad general guidelines that all persons ought to follow. Morality is the dimension of life related to right conduct. It includes virtuous character and honorable intentions as well as the decisions and actions that grow out of them. Ethics on the other hand, is the [philosophical and theological] study of morality . . . [that is,] a higher order discipline that examines moral living in all its facets . . . . on three levels. The first level, descriptive ethics, simply portrays moral actions or virtues. A second level, normative ethics (also called prescriptive ethics), examines the first level, evaluating actions or virtues as morally right or wrong. A third level, metaethics, analyses the second . . . It clarifies the meaning of ethical terms and assesses the principles of ethical argument . . . . Some think, without reflecting on it, that . . . what people actually do is the standard of what is morally right . . . [But, what] actually happens and what ought to happen are quite different . . . . A half century ago, defenders of positivism routinely argued that descriptive statements are meaningful, but prescriptive statements (including all moral claims) are meaningless . . . In other words, ethical claims give no information about the world; they only reveal something about the emotions of the speaker . . . . Yet ethical statements do seem to say something about the realities to which they point. “That’s unfair!” encourages us to attend to circumstances, events, actions, or relationships in the world. We look for a certain quality in the world (not just the speaker’s mind) that we could properly call unfair . . . .
Many people today think relativistically. “We live in a pluralistic society,” they say, apparently thinking this proves normative ethical relativism [that is, the theory that contradictory ethical beliefs may both be right, as such beliefs are viewed as only relative to the culture, situation, or individual: perception and feeling, not objective reality]. Others hold that . . . it is necessary to a tolerant society. Absolutists, they argue, encourage intolerance of other views, and this erodes social harmony. Tolerance in society is a benefit produced when people adopt relativism.
Is this inference right? Philosopher J. P. Moreland . . . [argues that] Relativism is true descriptively, but consistently holding to both normative and metaethical[5] relativism is difficult. [That is, it tends to fall into logical inconsistency: arguing that all people ought to become relativists!] Further . . . [true] tolerance is entirely consistent with absolutism. Those who defend tolerance hold that everyone ought to practice tolerance!
[Clark, Davis K & Rakestraw, Robert V, Eds. Readings in Christian Ethics, Vol. 1: Theory and Method. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2002), pp. 18 – 19.]
In that context, Holmes has somewhat to say by way of summary of key issues:
However we may define the good, however well we may calculate consequences, to whatever extent we may or may not desire certain consequences, none of this of itself implies any obligation of command. That something is or will be does not imply that we ought to seek it. We can never derive an “ought” from a premised “is” unless the ought is somehow already contained in the premise . . . .
R. M. Hare . . . raises the same point. Most theories, he argues, simply fail to account for the ought that commands us: subjectivism reduces imperatives to statements about subjective states, egoism and utilitarianism reduce them to statements about consequences, emotivism simply rejects them because they are not empirically verifiable, and determinism reduces them to causes rather than commands . . . .
Elizabeth Anscombe’s point is well made. We have a problem introducing the ought into ethics unless, as she argues, we are morally obligated by law – not a socially imposed law, ultimately, but divine law . . . . This is precisely the problem with modern ethical theory in the West . . . it has lost the binding force of divine commandments . . . .
If we admit that we all equally have the right to be treated as persons, then it follows that we have the duty to respect one another accordingly. Rights bring correlative duties: my rights . . . imply that you ought to respect these rights. [Holmes, Arthur F. Ethics: Approaching Moral Decisions. Downers Grove, IL: 1984, pp. 70 – 72, 81.]
In short, principles, morality and ethics are a significant subject that cannot be seriously addressed without proper focus and effort to be clear, accurate, sober-minded and fair. All of which are absolutely riddled with moral import; indeed you will perhaps recall how Plato’s Socrates — challenged to address the seeming uselessness of philosophy and the way many who studied it (read, Alcibiades as exhibit A) turned out to be clever rogues — responded in terms of the pure hearted, diligent and virtuous effort required to be a genuine student as opposed to a dabbler who hoped to gain advantages in being a manipulator of the public.
That’s a big clue in itself.
As conscience tells us in urging us towards the true and the right, morality cannot be severed from our life of thought and praxis. We find ourselves inescapably under moral government, as even skeptics inadvertently manifest.
A second clue.
Indeed, were the testimony of conscience deemed delusional, that would at once let a bull of grand delusion lose in the china shop of our inner thought-world.
A third clue: dismissing conscience as a delusion that works to get us to somewhat cooperate and enhance survival, ends in self referential incoherence and absurdity.
Undermining the life of the mind.
Impeaching and dismissing conscience as a witness fails, spectacularly.
We have to take conscience seriously and avoid letting bulls loose in the china shop of mindedness.
When we do so, we find a clear testimony that we are valuable, that we are owed duties of care to fairness, truth etc, and that we in turn owe such to our patent metaphysical equals. Which points to key principles such as right to life as the basis on which any other rights or value may exist. Likewise, we find the classic golden rule speaking to us in various ways: mutual responsibility of respect, cherishing, avoiding harm, fulfilling duties of care, not resorting to behaviour that is advantageous precisely because a society cannot live by generally behaving like that (e.g. lying, rubber checks), treating others as valuable in themselves not just tools, toys or means to our own ends, etc. Of which, as Locke quoteth the judicious Hooker, no man is ignorant.
But of course the is and the ought are very different.
How then do we come to a world-understanding in which IS and OUGHT (and our struggle betwixt the two) can be held in due, coherent balance?
Hume gives us a clue (likely, inadvertently) in his guillotine argument:
In every system of morality, which I have hitherto met with, I have always remarked, that the author proceeds for some time in the ordinary ways of reasoning, and establishes the being of a God, or makes observations concerning human affairs; when all of a sudden I am surprised to find, that instead of the usual copulations of propositions, is, and is not, I meet with no proposition that is not connected with an ought, or an ought not. This change is imperceptible; but is however, of the last consequence. For as this ought, or ought not, expresses some new relation or affirmation, ’tis necessary that it should be observed and explained; and at the same time that a reason should be given, for what seems altogether inconceivable, how this new relation can be a deduction from others, which are entirely different from it. But as authors do not commonly use this precaution, I shall presume to recommend it to the readers; and am persuaded, that this small attention would subvert all the vulgar systems of morality, and let us see, that the distinction of vice and virtue is not founded merely on the relations of objects, nor is perceived by reason. [Hume, David. A Treatise of Human Nature (London: John Noon, 1739), p. 335.]
As Holmes, 250 years on from Hume notes: “We can never derive an “ought” from a premised “is” unless the ought is somehow already contained in the premise.”
This instantly points to the need to trace to world-roots, and to find there an IS that is inextricably fused with the roots of OUGHT. Something that is a necessary being root of reality capable of properly bearing the weight of a manifestly evident core moral law of our nature that leaves us as responsibly and rationally free, duty-bound, and conscience guided. (Worldviews that undermine such invariably end in letting the bull of grand delusion loose in the china shop of the life of the mind.)
After centuries of debate, there is just one serious candidate: the inherently good creator God, root of reality, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of loyalty and the reasonable responsible service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature.
(If you doubt that, simply provide a serious alternative that will stand comparative difficulties analysis: ___________ )
In that generic ethical theism context, purpose/ goal warranting ought does emerge. In a way connected to the declaration of 1776 that we have a right of pursuit of happiness. Not pleasure or amusement for the proverbially short season, but the satisfaction of stretching ourselves to fulfill our sense of calling, excelling and producing the lasting good.
So, yes, goal-seeking does fit in, where conscience is one of the guiding-lights to those goals.
But unfortunately, such can be warped, hence the need for moral coherence and mutuality.
We are again back to Locke in the 2nd treatise of civil gov’t, citing Hooker who onward refers to Aristotle while pivoting on Moshe, Yeshva d’Nazaret and Paul of Tarsus:
[2nd Treatise on Civil Gov’t, Ch 2 sec. 5:] . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [This directly echoes St. Paul in Rom 2: “14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them . . . “ and 13: “9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law . . . “ Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [Eccl. Polity ,preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80, cf. here. Emphasis added.] [Augmented citation, Locke, Second Treatise on Civil Government, Ch 2 Sect. 5. ]>>

Let us think, and in so doing ponder how darwinism has become a universal acid that eats up everything -- including its containers (our minds). END

Monday, June 06, 2016

King George VI's speech-prayer, and call for a global prayer-vigil, June 6th 1944

This too is worth listening to:

Yes, a call to a worldwide vigil of prayer. Oh how far have we fallen. Let us too take up a prayer vigil in our day, that we may be restored. END

FDR's D-Day Prayer, June 6th 1944


Text, including the prayer:

My fellow Americans: Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home - fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas - whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them - help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too - strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.

(It is sad, to see in the same search, a needed response to dismissals of this prayer as "unconstitutional." I suppose, such a prayer is as "unconstitutional" as this verse of the US National Anthem, with sentiments directly echoed in the prayer:
O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation.
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust.'

 And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!)
Let us ponder how far our civilisation has gone wrong in just one lifespan. END

D-Day, June 6th 1944 anniversary

Today, 72 years ago; video (emphasis on the airborne assault -- the one for which Eisenhower feared 70% casualties):

Another video emphasising the Omaha Beach battle:

 Wikipedia summarises:
The Normandy landings (codenamed Operation Neptune [--> Naval part, Overlord was the invasion]) were the landing operations on Tuesday, 6 June 1944 (termed D-Day) of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II. The largest seaborne invasion in history, the operation began the liberation of German-occupied northwestern Europe from Nazi control, and contributed to the Allied victory on the Western Front.

Planning for the operation began in 1943. In the months leading up to the invasion, the Allies conducted a substantial military deception, codenamed Operation Bodyguard, to mislead the Germans as to the date and location of the main Allied landings. The weather on D-Day was far from ideal, but postponing would have meant a delay of at least two weeks, as the invasion planners had requirements for the phase of the moon, the tides, and the time of day that meant only a few days in each month were deemed suitable. Adolf Hitler placed German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in command of German forces and of developing fortifications along the Atlantic Wall in anticipation of an Allied invasion.
The amphibious landings were preceded by extensive aerial and naval bombardment and an airborne assault—the landing of 24,000 American, British, and Canadian airborne troops shortly after midnight. Allied infantry and armoured divisions began landing on the coast of France at 06:30. The target 50-mile (80 km) stretch of the Normandy coast was divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword Beach. Strong winds blew the landing craft east of their intended positions, particularly at Utah and Omaha. The men landed under heavy fire from gun emplacements overlooking the beaches, and the shore was mined and covered with obstacles such as wooden stakes, metal tripods, and barbed wire, making the work of the beach-clearing teams difficult and dangerous. Casualties were heaviest at Omaha, with its high cliffs. At Gold, Juno, and Sword, several fortified towns were cleared in house-to-house fighting, and two major gun emplacements at Gold were disabled using specialised tanks.

The Allies failed to achieve all of their goals on the first day. Carentan, St. Lô, and Bayeux remained in German hands, and Caen, a major objective, was not captured until 21 July. Only two of the beaches (Juno and Gold) were linked on the first day, and all five beachheads were not connected until 12 June; however, the operation gained a foothold which the Allies gradually expanded over the coming months. German casualties on D-Day were around 1,000 men. Allied casualties were at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead. Museums, memorials, and war cemeteries in the area host many visitors each year.

Food for thought. Freedom and wisdom to guide the ship of state were bought at stiff price, in blood and tears. END