Brexit Fight Looms Over Role of EU Courts

April 28, 2017

Bloc is poised to set firm tone after Theresa May’s demand for freedom from European jurisdiction

British Prime Minister Theresa May welcomes European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to 10 Downing Street in London on Wednesday.

British Prime Minister Theresa May welcomes European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to 10 Downing Street in London on Wednesday. PHOTO: ANDY RAIN/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

When leaders of 27 European Union states meet on Saturday to settle guidelines on how to negotiate Brexit, they will show their determination to give EU courts a major role over U.K.-EU affairs.

To the surprise of some European officials, determining the role of the bloc’s courts looms as a central battle in the divorce talks.

Many expected British concerns about immigration and EU rules guaranteeing freedom of movement to the bloc’s citizens to dominate the negotiations. And they anticipated a major clash over the EU’s insistence that Britain agree to payments to settle past spending pledges.

Yet Theresa May, from her first major speech on Brexit as prime minister at October’s Conservative party conference, has made British freedom from EU courts a firm red line.

“We are not leaving the European Union only to give up control of immigration again. And we are not leaving only to return to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice,” Mrs. May said.

“Our laws will be made not in Brussels but in Westminster. The judges interpreting those laws will sit not in Luxembourg but in courts in this country. The authority of EU law in Britain will end,” she said.

The implication was clear: Mrs. May had decided the U.K. should leave the EU’s single market, a common zone of laws and rules to ensure that products lawfully sold in one EU country can be sold in the rest of the bloc.

The entrance to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, as seen in 2015. The future role of Europe's courts is a subject of controversy in Brexit negotiations.

The entrance to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, as seen in 2015. The future role of Europe’s courts is a subject of controversy in Brexit negotiations. PHOTO: GEERT VANDEN WIJNGAERT/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The EU’s courts, in particular the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice, are the ultimate authority in deciding when national laws breach EU rules, when EU legislation breaches the bloc’s treaties and how EU rules should be interpreted across the bloc.

If the U.K. rejects the authority that polices the single market, it can’t be part of the single market.

This could conflict with two of Mrs. May’s other key objectives: to limit economic disruption after leaving the bloc, and to secure the closest possible economic ties between the EU and the U.K. in the medium term.

Mrs. May has conceded that some ECJ rulings will apply to British exporters. “U.K. companies that trade with the EU will have to align with rules agreed by institutions of which we are no longer a part, just as we do in other overseas markets,” she said in March.

Moreover, to avoid a legal vacuum post-Brexit, the U.K. is pasting the body of EU law onto its own books through its so-called Great Repeal Bill. Until the British courts decide differently or U.K. law is changed, the ECJ’s interpretation of EU law is the only one U.K. courts will have to rely on.

But Britain’s EU partners also say that if Mrs. May wants to avoid a cliff-edge exit from the bloc she will have to accept that EU courts will continue to have a role in Britain.

Draft negotiating guidelines to be discussed at Saturday’s summit say the ECJ should continue to adjudicate on cases pending at the court when Britain leaves. These could involve anything from antitrust rulings against British firms to penalties against the U.K. government if it breaches EU law.

The draft guidelines say EU institutions should have the right to start new cases post-Brexit “for facts that have occurred before the withdrawal date.”

They also set out the need for dispute mechanisms to enforce and interpret the divorce agreement and to adopt measures to respond to situations not foreseen in the pact.

While that would open the way to EU-U.K. tribunals on issues such as the rights of EU citizens in the U.K., the guidelines say these dispute mechanisms must be arranged to protect the EU’s legal order, including the role of the ECJ.

In other words, while future tribunals can make autonomous decisions, they will have to factor in the decisions and case law of the ECJ. The same would be true for any joint tribunals or enforcement mechanisms established under a future EU-U.K. trade agreement.

ECJ President Koen Lenaerts said Wednesday that since the terms of Brexit will be agreed to under Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, the court will have jurisdiction, if cases are brought to them, to strike down aspects of the divorce deal that infringe EU law.

Since the original draft negotiation guidelines were sent out by European Council President Donald Tusk on March 31, EU capitals have also hardened their position on another crucial point: the role of the EU courts in any transitional agreement. A transitional deal is seen by many officials on both sides as crucial for smoothing Britain’s exit from the bloc.

If a temporary extension of the U.K.’s membership of the single market or other EU arrangements is negotiated, the draft guidelines say, “this would require existing Union regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures to apply.”

EU law will thus continue to shape British rules and regulation. Even if Britain escapes the jurisdiction of the ECJ, it won’t escape the jurisprudence of the court for years.

Write to Laurence Norman at


This is ‘as good as it gets’ for Amazon, says Pacific Crest as it downgrades rating — Wal-Mart Rising

April 28, 2017

Published: Apr 28, 2017 5:24 a.m. ET

Wal-Mart, Microsoft, could prove tough contenders going forward

Sony Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection
As good as it gets? Jack Nicholson, 1997


Shares of Inc. were poised to hit a fresh record on Friday, after another set of blockbuster earnings, but one analyst firm has popped above the bullish parapet with a downgrade and a warning.

Cutting shares to sector weight from overweight, Edward Yruma and the team at Pacific Crest said for Amazon AMZN, +3.69% it may be “as good as it gets (for now).” The investment bank has consistently kept its rating at overweight for more than two years — 84% of analysts rate Amazon a buy, with just 16% rating it a hold, according to FactSet Research.

The Pacific Crest analysts laid out concerns that the online retailer’s rivals may be gaining on it and suggested it may be time to take profit on the share climb.

“Amazon’s 1Q17 results were impressive. However, the stock is approaching our $961 target, and stepped-up competition may dampen near-term upside,” said Yruma and the team in a note that published Thursday.

Check out: MarketWatch’s live-blog recap of Amazon results

Shares took off late Thursday, rising nearly 5% to $963 after Amazon reported net income of $724 million, earnings per share of $1.48 and revenue of $35.7 billion. On average, analysts were expecting earnings of $1.08 per share on sales of $35.3 billion.

Wal-Mart in the wings

Picking over the results, Yruma and the team noted that Amazon’s North American operating margin fell 62 basis points on an annual basis, marking the first decline since the fourth quarter of 2015.

In addition, growth rates for first-party (1P) vendors who sell wholesale to Amazon point to moderating sales growth, they said. The last two quarters of growth dropped below the growth rate for third-party (3P) independent sellers.

“Moderating 1P and 3P trends could be a headwind for revenue and profitability growth. We believe that Wal-Mart’s WMT, +0.01%  aggressive stance in e-commerce makes it a much more formidable competitor,” said the analysts.

Earlier in April, Wal-Mart began offering discounts on some online orders when customers opt for in-store pickup instead of home delivery, seen as a sign the second-largest online retailer in the U.S. is working to compete more aggressively with Amazon.

The Pacific Crest analysts also noted that the online retailer’s Amazon Web Services unit, which sells remote computing capacity to businesses, is facing some headwinds.

“Despite our view that AWS (Amazon Web Services) can maintain a multiyear lead, cloud competition should intensify through 2017,” they said.

Read: Amazon is worth so much because AWS is tech’s true unicorn

Microsoft’s MSFT, +0.65%  cloud growth picked up to 52% year over year, on 93% annual growth for its Azure unit, the analysts noted. They added that AWS’s growth slowed to 43% year-on-year, from 47% in the fourth quarter.

Read: Microsoft’s big cloud gains are a bright spot

And then of course, it may be now a question of how greedy investors want to get. Pacific Crest said they are backing off a bit because shares are now at their target of $961.

“Growth or multiple upside are more difficult to justify in the short term,” they said.

Trump Challenges North Korea in High-Stakes Game of Risk

April 28, 2017

U.S. president appears to be trying to change perception that Pyongyang has higher tolerance for conflict and loss of life

Related image


Updated April 28, 2017 7:00 a.m. ET


Over a campfire in Mexico two decades ago, North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations explained to an American how his country keeps the U.S. military at bay: “We’re more willing to cut off a leg than you are a pinkie.”

President Donald Trump appears to be trying to change that perception.

“There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely,” Mr. Trump told Reuters on…

Theresa May turns combative ahead of Brexit negotiations

April 28, 2017

Deutsche Welle

Days after waxing lyrical about the “special relationship” between the UK and the EU, the British premier has hardened her tone. The change came after Angela Merkel said the UK was suffering illusions over its future.

Theresa May speaks at a campaign rally in Leeds (picture-alliance/dpa/PA Wire/A. Devlin)

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday accused European Union member states of lining up to oppose Britain ahead of the release of the EU’s negotiating position on Brexit.

“We’ve seen from Chancellor Merkel today, we’ve heard her comments today. We’ve seen that actually there will be times when these negotiations are going to get tough,” May was quoted as saying by the BBC while speaking at a campaign rally in the Labour stronghold of Leeds ahead of the snap general election she called for June.

“Our opponents are already seeking to disrupt those negotiations – at the same time as 27 other European countries line up to oppose us,” she said.

“That approach can only mean one thing – uncertainty and instability, bringing grave risk to our growing economy with higher taxes, fewer jobs, more waste and more debt,”

May’s combative comments came just days after dining with EU Brexit negotiators and saying the UK had a “commitment to achieving a deep and special partnership with the European Union.”

British illusions

May was responding to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s warning to the UK on Thursday against “illusions” over the exit process.

Merkel stressed in parliament that “a third-party state will not have the same rights or even superior rights to a member state,” referring to the relationship the EU has with non-EU countries such Switzerland and Norway.

“This may sound self-evident, but I have to say this clearly because some in Britain seem to have illusions on this point,” she said. “That would be a waste of time.”

© AFP/File | German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Merkel’s statement on Brexit

EU presents unified front

EU ministers met in Luxembourg on Thursday to underscore their unity ahead of Saturday’s meeting to approve their negotiation position.

“It seems that at the moment we are completely united on everything,” said Vice Premier Louis Grech of Malta, the country that holds the rotating EU presidency. “Naturally we have to protect the EU’s interests.”

He said a prime objective was “to ensure that we will conduct the negotiations in a spirit of unity and trust between the 27.”

The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said that “we are united.”

Saturday’s EU’s guidelines will inform a tight negotiating mandate for Barnier which should be ready by May 22.

60 billion euro bill

The EU is expected to push on issues such as the treatment of EU expats, the bill of remaining costs to be paid by Britain and border issues in Ireland.

Some reports claim the EU could hold Britain liable for costs until at least a year after it leaves, at a possible cost of 60 billion euros (US$65 billion).

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson responded angrily to those claims.

“If you’re saying that they want the money before they get any substantive talks, then that is obviously not going to happen,” he told the BBC.

Northern Ireland

Ireland was expected to push for automatic membership of Northern Ireland to the EU if the two ever reunified.

German daily “Frankfurter Allgemeine” reported on Thursday that rental payments from the EU medicines agency in London could also become a sticking point in negotiations.  The lease agreement of the EU authority was reportedly signed until 2039, according to a document from the European Parliament, and could cost 347.6 million euros. Various EU members are seeking to be the new home of the institution.

Negotiations will likely start after Britain’s June 8 election, in which May is seeking to crush a weakened Labour party.



See also:

EU President Donald Tusk has said Britain must settle the key issues of “people, money and Ireland” before any talks on a post-Brexit trade deal can take place.

Mr Tusk also called for action to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

It came as it emerged that European leaders could take steps towards allowing Northern Ireland to rejoin the EU after Brexit if its citizens voted for reunification of the country.

Read it all:

European Council president Donald Tusk holds the letter giving Britain's official notice under Article 50

European Council president Donald Tusk holds the letter giving Britain’s official notice under Article 50 CREDIT: EPA

Prayer and Meditation for Saturday, April 29, 2017 — Would You Let Jesus Steer Your Boat?

April 28, 2017

Memorial of Saint Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 272

Image may contain: sky, swimming, outdoor and water

Jesus walks on water, by Ivan Aivazovsky (1888)

Reading 1 ACTS 6:1-7

As the number of disciples continued to grow,
the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews
because their widows
were being neglected in the daily distribution.
So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said,
“It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table.
Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men,
filled with the Spirit and wisdom,
whom we shall appoint to this task,
whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer
and to the ministry of the word.”
The proposal was acceptable to the whole community,
so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit,
also Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas,
and Nicholas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism.
They presented these men to the Apostles
who prayed and laid hands on them.
The word of God continued to spread,
and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly;
even a large group of priests were becoming obedient to the faith.

Responsorial PsalmPS 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19

R. (22) Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
R. Alleluia.
Exult, you just, in the LORD;
praise from the upright is fitting.
Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;
with the ten-stringed lyre chant his praises.
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
R. Alleluia.
Upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
R. Alleluia.
See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
R. Alleluia.


R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Christ is risen, who made all things;
he has shown mercy on all people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel JN 6:16-21

When it was evening, the disciples of Jesus went down to the sea,
embarked in a boat, and went across the sea to Capernaum.
It had already grown dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.
The sea was stirred up because a strong wind was blowing.
When they had rowed about three or four miles,
they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat,
and they began to be afraid.
But he said to them, “It is I. Do not be afraid.”
They wanted to take him into the boat,
but the boat immediately arrived at the shore
to which they were heading.

Image may contain: outdoor
Jesus walks on water by Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky
Homily For John 6:16-21 By Scott Knowlton

First let me tell you what this is not:

This is not the story of Jesus sleeping in the boat and there’s a storm, and the disciples are afraid and they wake Jesus up and he calms the storm.  Sometimes Jesus calms the storm, but this is not a story of Jesus calming the storm.

This is not the story of the disciples seeing something they can’t make out and Jesus says it’s me and Peter says if it’s you, then call me to come to you and He calls Peter out to walk on the water.  Sometimes Jesus calls us to step out of the boat, but this is not the story of Jesus calling us to step out of the boat.

This is not the story of the fishermen finishing cleaning their nets after they’ve been out fishing in the boat and Jesus calling them to leave their boats behind.  Sometimes Jesus calls us to leave everything behind, but this is not the story of Jesus calling us to leave our boat.

People who really study the Bible in depth are sometimes bothered trying to make everything fit together.  Here’s a story of Jesus walking on the water.  Is this the time Jesus commanded Peter to step out of the boat?  May be.  But sometimes the writers of the Gospel are wanting to stress a point.  So instead of trying to draw other boat stories into this one, I wanted to try to figure out what John is saying in this boat story or event.

Here’s what I came up with:  This is the story of Jesus coming at a rough time in a miraculous way and coming up along side them, joining them, and getting them through the rough time.  This is the story of Christ getting in our boat and giving us peace even in the midst of the storm. – Teaching us that when we have Christ with us, we have everything.  Here’s the thing about the disciples at this time:  They didn’t have Christ with them yet unless he was physically present with them.  It wasn’t until Jesus ascended to the father that He said he would send the Holy Spirit to live in us.

So that, NOW, no matter the circumstances, we who are his disciples now have Christ with us always and he will bring us through it – When we are His and He is ours, we have a song of victory.

Paul Acts 16:25 – But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns. – They’re in prison, yet they have Christ with them, and they’re singing and praying – when you have Christ with you, in you, you have a song in your heart, a song of victory, not a song of defeat, no matter the circumstances.  Do we still cry out to Him?  Yes.  And He lets us know he’s with us and He gets us through whatever it is.

There’s a story John Wesley tells from when he’s on a ship that’s crossing the ocean going from England to Georgia in the Colonies.  Wesley had never been on a ship before.  They’re 7 days from land and it’s the third and most violent storm.  They’re worried that the ship is going to be lost in a storm at sea.  “The sea spilled over the ship, split the mainsail, and poured between the decks as if the great deep had already swallowed us up.”  The English passengers screamed in fright; the German Moravians calmly continued singing the psalm without intermission.  Wesley was impressed with their faith in the face of death.  He saw the difference in the hour of trial, between those who truly knew Jesus Christ and those who didn’t.  Even though he’d been a preacher for some time now, he didn’t have that faith.

It’s almost as if The Moravians had Christ with them, in their boat, in themselves.  You could say, Wesley had seen Jesus walk on the water, but hadn’t let Christ in his boat.

The miracle then for the disciples was the fact that Jesus was there walking on the water.  The miracle for those alive today who believe that Jesus existed but don’t know him as Savior was that Jesus was walking on the water.

The miracle for me and you who know Him as Savior is that Jesus has joined us, He’s joined me and He’s joined you just as surely as he joined the disciples in that boat, yet even in a more miraculous way.  That’s the miracle I see coming out of this.

When he joins us, when we willingly receive Him, He enters into our very being.  He joins those who put their faith and trust in Him in such a way that no matter what we go through, we have a song in our heart because we have Him, Christ, in our heart, within us.  Like the Moravians who Wesley witnessed, that’s the miracle for all of us who call him Savior.  And Jesus knows what we need when we need it.

Who has a GPS?  Our GPS hasn’t been updated since we bought it.  When I cross the new bridge in Parkersburg (Rt. 50) the GPS shows I’m driving across the river.  I’m on a road, it’s just that the GPS doesn’t know it.  It looks like on the GPS that I’m driving on the water, but I’m not.

In this miracle, Jesus isn’t out there walking on a sand bar, it’s not an illusion.  He’s walking on the water. And He’s not out on the water going, “Where am I?”  He doesn’t need to recalculate.

Why do you think Jesus was out there walking on the water?  He knows what the disciples need.  He knows they need Him and He’s there for them, it Just happens to be they’re 3-4 miles from shore in the water.

How cool would it be today if this happened?  If the disciples were in say, the space shuttle and there’s space debris coming at them and there Jesus is, walking in space. And he hops on the space shuttle.  The fact that he’s out there without a space suit and without a space ship makes it pretty obvious he doesn’t need them!

On the water, Jesus doesn’t need to get into the boat.  Jesus is doing just fine without them or their boat- It’s that they need Jesus.

So many people know Jesus is there, just outside their boat, but they won’t let Him get in.  He wants to get in, and we’ve established that he doesn’t need to get in for His own sake, it’s for the sake of us on the boat!

Yet when we allow Him, He gets in our boat and allows us to do His work even though He can do it quite fine without us.

Jesus needs us?  ROFL.  He ALLOWS US the privilege of being used for His glory in His work.

But letting him get on the boat isn’t even enough.  For a Christian, it’s just a step.

It’s not enough to just let him on our boat, but we’ve got to let him steer, letting Him be the one who yells the commands, we no longer insist on being the captain, but we become the deck hand!

Giving up control is where it’s at.  He knows where we’re going.  We don’t know where we’re going.  We just know we’re supposed to be going, He knows WHERE.

When they willingly received them into the boat – BAM – they’re where they were going.  I’m thinking teleporting.  But that’s only where they were going right now.  The Christian life on this earth is not about a daily destination, it’s about the journey.  Tomorrow he’ll direct us somewhere else.

They hadn’t arrived at their final destination – Jesus still had places he wanted to take them.  When we have Christ guiding us, He’ll take us places we wouldn’t steer into ourselves.

Heard a sermon once where James McDonald said there are preachers that will tell you if you have faith, Jesus won’t steer you into the storms.  That’s not right.  Sometimes you’ll see the waterfall ahead, and you’ll think, “Jesus won’t let me go over the waterfall, but man he’s taking me awful close.”  And next thing you know, you’re going over the waterfall.  You’re looking straight down falling at the same speed as the water rushing toward to pool of water at the bottom and you’re thinking, “Jesus, what are you doing taking me over the waterfall?

Once when I was white water rafting – we stopped at this place and there was a big tall rock that you jumped off, when you jump you go pretty deep in the water, you have to hold your breath for a long time, but then after what seems like an eternity, you pop up from the water, gasping for breath, and you appreciate fresh air so much more than you ever have, and you realize you made it through.  THAT’S what it’s like sometimes when Jesus is steering our boat.  Even when He doesn’t calm the storm, he can maneuver WITHIN the storm so much better than we can.

Today – Some of you are sitting out there realizing “I need to give up control of my own boat.”  You’re already a Christian, you have Jesus in the boat, but you’re the captain and you consider Him your 1st Mate, Jesus is my co-pilot.  You like giving Jesus the orders.

Going back to white water rafting – When you’re rafting, You have a guide who steers the boat, what do you do?  PADDLE.  Our job isn’t to steer, it’s to paddle.  He might say right side forward, left side backward, he might say all forward.  He gives the directions and steers.  You paddle.  The guide knows the river.  You don’t know the river!  He knows where the rocks are below the surface.  He knows where the whirlpools are that will suck you under.

You need to start following orders and you need to do it by saying Yes to whatever he’s calling you to.  Aye, captain!  Yes, Jesus.

Some of you need to start by letting him on your boat.  He’s saying, “It is I; don’t be afraid.”  It might not immediately calm the storm.  Satan may stir up the waters even more so your ship tosses worse than it ever has.  Let Jesus on board and let Him take the wheel of the ship.  He can get you safely past the obstacles, safely through the seas.



Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore



Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
Sermon for John 6:16-21 By Curtis E. Nester

TITLE Power and Peace in the Storm

TEXT: John 6:14-21

INTRO: Since he was a little boy, Bob had heard that his Father, Grandfather and Great-grandfather had all walked on water on their 21st birthdays. So, on his 21st birth-day, Bob his good friend Brian headed out to the lake. “If they did it, I can too!” he insisted. They got into a boat and paddled out to the middle of the lake. Bob stepped off of the side of the boat….and nearly drowned. Brian pulled him out of the water and they headed for home, embarrassed and soaking wet.

When Bob arrived back at the family farm, he asked his Grandmother, “Grandma, why can’t I walk on water on my 21st birthday, like my Father, and his Father, and his Father before him?” His Grandmother took him by the hands, looked into his eyes, and explained, “That’s because you were born in July, dear. Your Father, Grandfather, and Great-grandfather were all born in January.”

After the feeding of the 5,000, the crowd was so impressed by Jesus’ miracle that they were prepared to force Him to become their king, which was not in God’s timing. So, Jesus went up into a mountain to pray, while the disciples got into a boat to go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.


A. The Disciples on the Sea

1. Jesus sent the disciples out on the sea of Galilee

(Mar 6:45) ”And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people.”

2. A great storm arose

The sea is nearly 700 feet below sea level. Around the sea, the hills of Galilee reach nearly 1,400 feet above sea level. This makes it subject to sudden and violent storms as the wind comes over these mountains and drops suddenly onto the sea.

3. Their boat was in danger of sinking

B. We Also Face Storms

1. We have never been promised a life of ease

(Job 14:1) Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.

2. Someone once said:

-You are either in the midst of a storm,

-You’ve just come out of a storm, or

-You’re headed into a storm!

3. Why the storms come:

-To strengthen our character,

-To teach a lesson about God’s will,

-To allow us to experience God in a fresh, new way

# (Robert Hamilton)

“I walked a mile with pleasure; she chatted all the way.

But left me none the wiser for all she had to say.

I walked a mile with sorrow; not a word said she.

But oh, the things I learned from sorrow,

when sorrow walked with me.”


A. Jesus Appeared Walking on the Water

1. The crowd went by boat or walked on land…

2. Jesus took a short cut & walked on the water

-Job said that: “(God) alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea.” (Job 9:8)

B. The Disciples Were Afraid

1. They thought He was a ghost

2. Then He spoke to them

(v.20) But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid.

C. Then They Took Him into the Boat

1. His presence makes all the difference…

2. The waves calmed and they were supernaturally

Read the rest:

Time for America to follow China’s lead

April 28, 2017

A superpower in relative decline should seek to strengthen the multilateral order, as China is doing.

In a 2005 speech before the National Committee on US-China Relations, former World Bank president Robert Zoellick famously called upon the Chinese government to become a responsible stakeholder in the global system, and to work with other international powers to maintain stability and security around the world. One can assume that when Mr Zoellick delivered his speech on that autumn day in New York, there was no doubt in his mind – nor in the minds of most American leaders and policymakers – that the United States was in fact the responsible stakeholder in the international system, and that China was not.

However, last year’s election of Mr Donald Trump has spurred a remarkable reversal in global perceptions of the US and China.

President Trump has loudly proclaimed that he will pursue unilateralist “America First” policies, and he has also threatened to withdraw the US from the World Trade Organisation (WTO). In an interview last year with NBC’s “Meet the Press”, he said: “We’re going to renegotiate or we’re going to pull out. These trade deals are a disaster. The World Trade Organisation is a disaster.”

By contrast, after the two brilliant speeches delivered by Chinese President Xi Jinping in Davos and in Geneva in January this year, China has projected itself as a defender of the prevailing multilateral order. Mr Zoellick would not be able to deliver his 2005 speech in 2017. The roles have reversed.


This need not and should not have happened. As a power that is – by President Trump’s own admission – in relative decline, it is increasingly in the national interest of the US to strengthen multilateral rules and processes. Articulating this truth in a visionary 2003 speech at Yale University, former president Bill Clinton said: “If you believe that maintaining power and control and absolute freedom of movement and sovereignty is important to your country’s future, there’s nothing inconsistent in that. We’re the biggest, most powerful country in the world now. We’ve got the juice and we’re going to use it… But if you believe that we should be trying to create a world with rules and partnerships and habits of behaviour that we would like to live in when we’re no longer the military, political, economic superpower in the world, then you wouldn’t do that. It just depends on what you believe.”


His audience might not have been aware at the time, but this was a cunning bit of advice from the once president. Mr Clinton was telling them to prepare for a world in which the US is the No. 2 global power, and China is No. 1. As the world’s second power, America would prefer to live with a No. 1 power that supports “a world with rules and partnerships and habits of behaviour” that would make the world a more orderly place. Even more cunningly, Mr Clinton was suggesting that the US could slip the “handcuffs” of multilateral rules and processes more effectively onto China if America slipped those very same handcuffs on itself while it was still the world’s pre-eminent power.

China’s decision to take the opposite course of strengthening rather than weakening multilateral institutions should be seen as a surprising, even shocking, decision. Why is China not following in the footsteps of the prevailing No. 1 power? One possible reason China is not emulating America in undermining multilateralism is that the two countries have very different conceptions of their roles in the world.

However, Mr Clinton’s speech would have been more effective had he honestly admitted that it has been a consistent American policy to weaken, rather than strengthen, multilateral rules and institutions. This was a dirty little secret I discovered while serving twice as Singapore’s ambassador to the United Nations, from 1984 to 1989 and again from 1998 to 2004.

This policy was also made plain when the US walked away from the World Court in 1985, refused to ratify the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and tried to undermine the International Criminal Court in 2002. America has also consistently tried to pick weak and spineless UN secretaries-general to head the global body. Former US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton admitted this publicly in his memoirs when he quoted then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who said: “I’m not sure we want a strong secretary-general.”

Unfortunately, such candour is a rarity from US leaders.

Paradoxically, Mr Trump may emerge as the most honest and forthright American president on the issue of multilateralism. He has made public his disdain for multilateral rules and institutions. He has denounced the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and threatened to walk away from commitments that the US had made on climate change. At a White House briefing earlier this year, Mr Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said: “As to climate change, I think the President was fairly straightforward: We’re not spending money on that any more.”


Such rhetoric should have been music to Beijing’s ears. As a rising power poised to become the world’s largest economy within a decade or so, it would be in China’s interest, one might argue, to see international institutions such as the United Nations weakened and marginalised. This is, after all, exactly what the US has done for decades.

But China chose a different tack. Its decision to take the opposite course of strengthening rather than weakening multilateral institutions should be seen as a surprising, even shocking, decision. Why is China not following in the footsteps of the prevailing No. 1 power?

One possible reason China is not emulating America in undermining multilateralism is that the two countries have very different conceptions of their respective roles in the world. The US sees itself as an “exceptional” country, hence it believes that it has a global responsibility to transform the world. It refuses to be constrained by multilateral rules when it interferes in the internal affairs of other countries. It has promoted many so-called colour revolutions, including the 2005 Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan and the 2011 Arab Spring revolution in Egypt. No other country shares this messianic impulse of the US.

By contrast, China is only interested in improving the livelihoods of its 1.4 billion citizens (or one-fifth of the world’s population). After a century and a half of “hell” – from the First Opium War in 1839 through to the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976 – China experienced “heaven” and enjoyed the world’s fastest economic growth, especially after joining the global multilateral order that the West gifted to the world after World War II. No country has benefited more from the WTO than China has. This is why China is now the world’s No. 1 trading power.

Having enjoyed many remarkable benefits by walking away from Mao Zedong’s isolationist policies and towards Deng Xiaoping’s integrationist policies, China knows from first-hand experience that integration into a rules-based multilateral order has served it well. In another remarkable reversal, the values and benefits of free trade have been documented and explained by American, not Chinese, thinkers. Yet, today, it is politically toxic in the US to defend free trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement and the TPP. By contrast, China is enthusiastically signing more and more free trade pacts. Since it joined the WTO in 2001, it has signed 14 FTAs with countries as diverse as Australia, South Korea and Peru and, in 2002, it agreed to a broader free trade area with the 10-member Asean.


It was, therefore, a mistake for American pundits and policymakers to pooh-pooh the two speeches made by Mr Xi earlier this year. They reflect a well-considered position that China benefits from a stronger rules-based multilateral order. Similarly, it was also unwise of the American media to excoriate Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for characterising the US-China relationship as a very positive one built on “non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation”, as is common in Chinese policymaking circles. Article 2 of the UN Charter, after all, spells out the principles of international cooperation, and Mr Tillerson’s statements were only a reiteration of these principles.

Sadly, Mr Tillerson was accused in the West of kowtowing to China. The clear assumption behind these criticisms is that America is pursuing the correct international policies while China is pursuing the wrong ones. However, the US clearly remains committed to weakening and undermining multilateral rules and processes, while China still believes that it is in its national interest to do the opposite.

As Mr Clinton wisely advised, it is now in the national interest of the US to change course and strengthen multilateral rules and institutions. In an atmosphere of global financial crises and climate change, of pandemics and terrorism, and numerous other international challenges such as famine and cyber security, it is high time that the US embraced global institutions and became a responsible stakeholder in the global system once more.

•The writer, a former Singapore ambassador to the United Nations, is the dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. He is the author of The Great Convergence: Asia, The West, And The Logic Of One World.

•This article first appeared on, a website of global news and commentary.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 28, 2017, with the headline ‘Time for America to follow China’s lead’.

Why the GDP Report Could Make U.S. Growth Look Rosier Than It Is — Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal are expecting 1% growth

April 28, 2017

Pedestrians walk through the Oculus shopping mall in New York this month. Fresh downward revisions to retail-sales data suggest consumer spending was weaker in the first quarter than previously estimated.

Pedestrians walk through the Oculus shopping mall in New York this month. Fresh downward revisions to retail-sales data suggest consumer spending was weaker in the first quarter than previously estimated. PHOTO: STEPHANIE KEITH/BLOOMBERG

On Friday the government will release data that’s widely expected to show slow growth in U.S. output in the first quarter. Now—even before its release—there’s evidence output growth was even slower than this estimate will convey.

The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis won’t incorporate into its growth estimates recently revised U.S. retail sales data that were made public Wednesday. Instead, these revisions will be incorporated next month, when the BEA updates its first-quarter estimates of gross domestic product, the government’s broadest measure of the economy’s output.

The downward revisions to the retail-sales data suggest consumer spending was weaker in the first quarter than previously estimated. But the revisions didn’t come through soon enough to incorporate into the upcoming report.

Using the new figures could subtract two-tenths of a percentage point from the “headline” figure in Friday’s GDP report, said Ben Herzon, economist with the private forecasting firm Macroeconomic Advisers. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal are expecting 1% growth, at an annual rate, in overall GDP, based on the previous retail figures.

The old retail figures showed so-called core retail sales–which exclude autos, gasoline and building materials–grew at a 4.1% annual rate in the first quarter. The new data show core sales grew at a 3.2% rate, Mr. Herzon said. These core sales data are used to estimate consumer spending, which is a major input in the GDP report.

Some background: The Census Bureau, the BEA’s sister data-gathering agency, releases data on retail sales every month based on a limited sampling. Then, each spring, it revises the figures going back months and years, based on an annual survey and tweaks to account for seasonal factors.

Usually, that annual revision comes out just after the government’s initial estimate of first-quarter GDP. This year it came out earlier, but still too late to incorporate into the GDP report.

Kyle Brown, chief of the BEA branch on consumer spending, said the agency determined it would be cutting it too close to rewrite Friday’s GDP report using the new figures. Rewriting the report based on the new figures would have increased the chance for error, he said.

“Yesterday when we got the file we notified everybody and decided that we’re going to hold off with that and bring it in next month like we typically do,” Mr. Brown said. “We make a determination with each piece of data independently as to whether or not we have time to bring it in and verify the estimates and go through the whole process.”

Mr. Brown said the decision to not incorporate the new data came from within the BEA, which is not headed by a political appointee.

Friday’s release is more anticipated than usual because it will be the first major snapshot of the economy during the Trump administration. It will come out a day before the administration marks its first 100 days, a symbolic threshold. President Donald Trump has pledged to boost growth by 3% and above.

Some economists are expecting an especially downbeat report even without the retail sales revisions. Macroeconomic Advisers believes GDP grew at an annual rate of 0.3%. Mr. Herzon estimates GDP grew at a 0.1% pace using the newer retail figures.

The Atlanta Federal Reserve’s GDPNow model pegs growth at 0.2%. J.P. Morgan expects a 0.3% headline number.


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Philippines completes an 18-day scientific survey in the South China Sea

April 28, 2017


MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines has completed an 18-day scientific survey in the South China Sea to assess the condition of coral reefs and draw a nautical map of disputed area, a top security official said on Thursday.

Two survey ships, including an advanced research vessel acquired from the United States, conducted surveys around Scarborough Shoal and on three islands, including Thitu, in the Spratly group, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said.

“This purely scientific and environmental undertaking was pursued in line with Philippine responsibilities under the U.N. Convention of the Law of the Sea to protect the marine biodiversity and ensure the safety of navigation within the Philippines’ EEZ,” Esperon said in a statement.

He gave no details of the findings from the reef assessments and nautical mapping of the area done from April 7-25.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, but it appeared to have allowed the survey. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims in the strategic waterway.

Other countries in the region were regularly making scientific surveys in the area, said a navy official who declined to be named.

The navy official told Reuters the Philippines also conducts marine survey from time to time, but this was its first major undertaking since 2011, when a Chinese patrol boat harassed a survey ship hired by an Anglo-Filipino company to explore for oil and gas in the Reed Bank.

Esperon said researchers from the environment ministry, the country’s premier university and the navy took part in the expedition.

“This is the first leg of the expedition,” he said, adding the government also plans to conduct research in Benham Rise, part of the Philippines’ continental shelf, in the Pacific Ocean.

(Reporting By Manuel Mogato; Editing by Larry King)

Israel’s Attack in Syria: Israel’s Policy of Ambiguity Could Be Nearing an End — Proxy “War” With Iran — Has Russia Allowed Israel’s Raids?

April 28, 2017

By Amos Harel

Strike in Damascus international airport attributed to Israel ■ Why isn’t Russia taking action? ■ defense chief draws a new red line: No Iranian and Hezbollah military presence on the Syrian border

Explosion in Syria

Explosion in Syria . (photo credit:ARAB MEDIA)

Witnesses said a total of five strikes occurred near the Damascus airport road, about 25km from the capital, early on Thursday.

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What has been done up to now with a degree of ambiguity, not to say discretion, is now being done for all to see. Syria confirmed on Thursday, in a report from its official news agency, that the Israeli airforce struck a military compound next to the Damascus airport before dawn.

Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz implicitly acknowledged Israeli responsibility for the strike when he explained in a somewhat sleepy radio interview from the United States on Army Radio that “the incident totally fits with our policy for preventing weapons transfers to Hezbollah.” And all of this happened while Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman was away on a visit to Russia, the chief sponsor of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Katz’s comments followed an earlier, first acknowledgement of its kind by Israel, after numerous reports in the Arab media of an Israeli airstrike in Syria in late March. And this past Tuesday, a senior Israel Defense Forces officer told journalists that about a hundred missiles, some intended for Hezbollah, were destroyed in that March airstrike. But it is still not certain that a deliberate decision has been made to abandon the policy of ambiguity that Israel has adhered to for the past five years, neither denying nor confirming its responsibility for such air strikes.

This policy of ambiguity seems to be based on the idea that Israel’s refusal to comment on these strikes makes them less of an embarrassment for the regime and thus does not whet the Syrians’ appetite for revenge as much. The recent deviations from this policy were likely random occurrences and not the product of long-range strategic thinking.

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An Israeli tank on the Golan Heights

The initial reports from Damascus did not specify what types of weaponry was hit. Arab intelligence sources (quoted by an Amman-based reporter for Reuters) claimed that the targets this time were arms shipments from Iran being smuggled on civilian commercial flights via the international airport in Damascus.

Syrian reports denied that Israeli planes had penetrated Syrian airspace, and claimed their bombs were launched from within Israeli territory. This could explain the lack of an antiaircraft missile response from the Syrian and Russian air defenses, although Russian radar in northwest Syria can also identify aircraft movements in much of Israel.

Why isn’t Russia taking action? After the March airstrike, Russia reportedly protested to Israel that the Syrian target in the Palmyra area came too close to a Russian military base. Possibly, Russia doesn’t really care that much, as long as these actions don’t directly threaten the Assad regime’s survival. Most of the Russian troops and aircraft are in the northwest, in the area of Tartus and Latakia, and hardly Israeli strikes have been reported in that area since the start of the Russian military deployment in September 2015.

On the tactical level, Russia and Israel seem to be getting along quite well amid the general Syrian chaos. The military coordination mechanism for preventing aerial clashes between the two countries is working properly and Israeli officials, especially Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have held frequent consultations with their Russian counterparts. But on the long-term, strategic level, Israel has a problem: Russia’s military success in the war means the salvation of the Assad regime and a gain for Assad’s other allies, Iran and Hezbollah. Should Russia decide to promote the interests of these other members of the Assad alliance, it could come at Israel’s expense.

In his talks in Russia, Lieberman has been emphasizing the new red line drawn by Israel: no Iranian or Hezbollah military presence near the Syrian border on the Golan Heights. As Assad’s forces have advanced southward, there have been initial reports of the arrival of members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah and related Shi’ite and Palestinian militias in the border area, mainly in the northern Golan Heights. Besides the arms smuggling, this is the matter of greatest concern for Israel right now. Should it decide to take action to enforce its stance, as Lieberman has spoken about, Israel will have to weigh the possibility not only of heightened friction with Iran, but also of a shift in relations with Moscow.

read more:



Did Moscow Green-Light an Israeli Attack in Syria?

The Kremlin may be backing Bashar al-Assad and publicly denouncing Israel’s strike on Damascus’ airport Thursday, but the two sides are ‘tightly’ coordinating behind the scenes.

By Benny Avni

An Israeli attack in Damascus on Thursday was evidently well coordinated with Russia, highlighting how transient alliances in the Middle East’s most consequential war can be.

Israel, in addition to Sunni Muslim countries opposed to the Syrian regime, is America’s close regional ally, while Russia backs some of Israel’s most formidable foes: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Iran, and Hezbollah.


Loud explosions were reported near Damascus’ international airport Thursday morning, reportedly injuring three people.


Syrian officials were quick to blame Israel for the attack, and in an apparent attempt to retaliate, an “object”—reportedly a drone—was sent over the Golan Heights that was destroyed by an Israeli Defense Force Patriot missile, according to an IDF spokesman.

Although Jerusalem officials normally refrain from confirming such attacks like the one in Damascus, this time they did not quite deny it.


“The incident in Syria is consistent with our policy of preventing the smuggling of advanced weapons from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon by Iran,” Intelligence Minister Israel Katz told Israel’s Army Radio. He declined, in accordance with the long-held policy, to explicitly confirm that the IDF conducted the attack.


 Image result for syrian aircraft at russian base, photos

Three weeks ago, in a rare departure from that Jerusalem’s policy of ambiguity, Israeli officials did acknowledge they fired missiles at Syrian targets. In Moscow, Kremlin officials publicly denounced that Israeli attack, leading some in Jerusalem to speculate that the tacit understanding between Jerusalem and Moscow could be at an end and that the Kremlin would no longer wink and nod at Israel’s routine incursions into Syria’s airspace, largely dominated by Russian and Syrian government air forces.


On Thursday Russian spokesmen denounced the attack as well, though they were careful not to confirm Israel was behind it. And when asked Thursday whether Israel had notified Moscow in advance of the strike, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told Kremlin reporters that “Russia and Israel exchange information using various channels.”

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One likely such channel, according to Jerusalem sources, is Avigdor Liberman, the Russian-speaking, Moldovan-born Israeli defense minister who landed in Moscow on Wednesday for a pre-planned visit. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also speaks to Putin on the phone regularly and often visits Moscow.


“The Russians know that our most important ally is the United States, and we know, of course, that Russia’s clients are Assad, Iran, and Hezbollah,” said an Israeli official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Yet, he added, “that doesn’t stop us from tightly coordinating with Moscow through well-established work mechanisms.”


The IDF and Russia want to ensure there are no collisions in the skies above Syria, the official added, saying, “And yes, the Russians are very familiar with our red lines.”


Those red lines include “preventing Iran from establishing a military foothold in Syria,” Katz, the intelligence minister, told The Daily Beast last week. Additionally, he said, Jerusalem has made clear it will not allow Iran to transfer heavy armaments through Syria to Hezbollah, which he characterized as “our most formidable non-state enemy.”

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 Hezbollah fighters. Reuters photo

Speaking to the UN Security Council last week, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said Washington and its partners will resume their pressure on Tehran, documenting violations of several council resolutions that ban arms transfers from Iran to Hezbollah, as well as to its Yemen-based ally, the Houthis.


Hours after Thursday’s Israeli attack in Damascus, Russian diplomats exchanged barbs with their British and French counterparts at the United Nations, while Haley sharpened her criticism of the Kremlin’s Syria policy.


During a Security Council session on humanitarian aid to Syria, Haley blamed Russia for shielding Assad, even as the Syrian dictator prevents UN aid from reaching its destination and bombs hospitals. “Many of you said we need to put pressure on the Syrian regime,” she said. “That’s actually not the case. We need to put pressure on Russia, because Russia continues to cover for the Syrian regime”—does so even when Assad “uses chemical weapons on his own people.”


The French UN ambassador, François Delattre, told reporters Thursday that Paris has conclusively determined that in a well-publicized April 4 attack at Khan Sheikhun, in Syria’s Idlib province, “sarin was used, and the presence of a substance called hexamine is characteristic of the sarin produced by the Syrian regime.” So, he added, “we have no doubt that the Syrian regime is responsible for this barbaric attack.”


The United States fired 59 Tomahawk missiles in response to that chemical assault, hitting a Syrian airbase that according to Pentagon officials was used to launch the Idlib attack.


On Wednesday, British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said that if Washington asked London to join in future military attacks against Syria, “It would be difficult for us to say no.”


But Washington has yet to clarify its ultimate goal in Syria—and particularly its policy on Assad’s future, despite the atrocities he has committed. President Trump, who hosted the 15 members of the Security Council at the White House last week, said that while the Syrian dictator is clearly a “bad actor,” his removal “is not a deal breaker” for the U.S., according to an ambassador who attended the session. However, the ambassador, who requested anonymity, said that at a later session National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told the visiting diplomats, “There can be no stable Syria as long as Assad stays in power.”

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Le Pen woos Nice voters with vision of ‘happy Europe’

April 28, 2017


© Yann Coatsaliou, AFP | French presidential election candidate for the far-right Front National (FN) party Marine Le Pen arrives for a campaign meeting, on April 27, 2017 in Nice.

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said on Thursday she wanted to replace the “grey” European Union by a “happy Europe”, in a speech that focused on her plans to build back border checks, but did not mention her anti-euro stance.

One aide said the positive spin on Le Pen’s euroscepticism was meant to reassure voters who had supported conservative candidate François Fillon, who did not qualify for the May 7 run-off, and try and convince them to vote for her.

“The EU is grey, like the colour of the Brussels technocrats’ suits, Le Pen said, adding: “I want to give it colours because my Europe is happy, diverse, colourful, it’s got the face of its peoples.”

Le Pen, who wants to hold a referendum on France’s EU membership after six months of negotiations to turn the bloc into a loose cooperative of nations, did not announce any shift in her policies and reaffirmed that what she wanted was a “Europe of free nations, of cooperations”.

But while she repeatedly talked of her plans to take France out of the Schengen border-free area, she did not mention returning to the Franc national currency – which is also among her policies.

With a majority of French voters opposed to leaving the euro, the Le Pen campaign has not insisted on that part of her platform over the past months.

Differing views on  Europe

Fillon came third behind Le Pen and first-placed Emmanuel Macron in the first round with about 20 percent of votes which Le Pen and Macron must now fight over.

During the first-round campaign he said that he wanted to step up border controls and make some changes to the EU, but he also several times severely criticised Le Pen’s anti-euro stance.

Macron is in favour of closer European integration, although in a series of interviews on Thursday he sought to present a tough position on countries he felt do not play by the rules.

Playing on fear

Keeping mum on her plans to reinstitute the French franc is not the only card Le Pen is playing in the hope of appealing to the traditionally rightist voters of Nice; she is also trying to capitalise on security fears here in the wake of an Islamic State group attack that killed 86 people there last July.

That’s an exploitation that has angered some residents of the Mediterranean resort town.

Dominique Eche was on the Promenade des Anglais on Bastille Day and had to jump down to the beach below to avoid the truck that ploughed into the crowd, but when the 62-year-old children’s sports coach thinks about the presidential election, and Le Pen’s insistence that her tough line on security will prevent such atrocities, he gets angry.

“I saw the Nice attack from the inside and I find it appalling to try and benefit from such attacks, to say: ‘It wouldn’t have happened if I’d been in power’,” Eche said on Thursday, speaking hours after Le Pen’s rally in Nice.

Next to him, workers were erecting concrete bollards to make sure trucks cannot access the pavement there any more.

The FN has said some of the Islamist attacks that have killed more than 230 people in France since 2015 would have been prevented had it been in power, thanks to a platform that includes locking up French-born suspected jihadists and expelling foreign ones as well as scrapping the European Union’s open-border arrangement.

If Eche isn’t buying it, that rhetoric does resonate with some voters in Nice, where one in four voted for Le Pen in the first round of the presidential election on Sunday, against 21.3 percent nationally.

Inflammatory language

Describing the city as a “martyr of Islamist terrorism”, Le Pen told the rally her first move if elected would be to reinstate border controls, to wide applause from a crowd of a few thousand.

“I have asked for it after each attack … how can we think we are protected if terrorists can move around freely, if weapons can circulate freely?,” she said, detailing a
law-and-order platform she said she would apply “without weakness”.

Le Pen’s fear-mongering seems to be working.

Local FN representative Lionel Tivoli said FN membership in Nice’s Alpes-Maritimes department had jumped from 740 two years ago to 3,500-4,000 now, driven in particular by the attacks.

“What strikes people is that this attack took place where they live, here in the Alpes-Maritimes,” Tivoli said in the FN’s local headquarters. “We’re not safe anywhere anymore.”

Hubert, a 70-year-old FN supporter who said he does not miss a chance to see Le Pen at a rally, said the attacks had reinforced his resolve to vote for her. “We need to feel safe,” he said, adding derogatory comments about Arabs.

But 79-year-old Nice resident Roger Blanc, who backed Fillon in the first round and will vote Macron in the second, took a very different view.

He said: “I was very shocked by the attacks. But what would she (Le Pen) have done about it? What would she have done? Nothing. It’s all just talk.”

While opinion polls all say that Macron will easily beat Le Pen in the second round, the head of France’s south east region and deputy Nice mayor Christian Estrosi, a conservative, warned against considering it was in the bag for the young centrist.

“Le Pen can win,” he told Reuters.