Update 543


In the Face of Death

On June 2, 2012, Michael Link will give the sermon, titled, “In the Face of Death.”

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

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A Polite Society

by Brian Gale (United Kingdom)

A religious minister in the UK founded the Polite Society in 1986. Later they changed the name to “the Campaign for Courtesy” as they decided that the word “polite” had passed its sell-by date. Politeness can be defined as “The act of showing respect or regard for others”. Wikipedia defines it this way: “Politeness is best expressed as the practical application of good manners or etiquette”.

However, there is the “Polite Society” organisation in the USA which is actually about guns and weapons, and they state that “Our name derives from Robert Heinlein’s famous quotation, ‘An armed society is a polite society.’” I would suggest that the quotation, and their adoption of it, is a misuse of the phrase.

One writer on an Internet forum opined: “Yet, it is that acceptable social condition called politeness that polite society itself, through its repression and recrimination has been the greatest source of the travesties and injustices of Man against Fellow Man.” Having read that phrase a number of times, I’m still unsure what he means except that politeness does not rank high on his list of attributes.

Showing respect and regard for others is not about carrying and using guns, nor is it repressive or recriminatory. It is simply another definition that echoes the requirement of a true Christian. It is certainly about courtesy, good manners and etiquette and considers others as much as self.

It was interesting to read the story that youngsters gave up their seats on a bus to two pensioners (who were two of the founder members of the National Polite Society). The couple was so impressed by their courteous behaviour that they nominated them for a Polite Society award. I am sure this was encouraging to the recipients, but it does reflect that which should be the norm in society is now considered old fashioned, out of date or unnecessary! Not so, some decades ago, but politeness is not something that seems “cool” today.

One quotation I read was very interesting when the writer said: “One of the greatest victories you can gain over someone is to beat him at politeness.”

William Arnot, a clergyman, wrote in his book “Illustrations of the Book of Proverbs”: “I do not say that politeness will do as a substitute for religion; but politeness is of use as the handmaid of religion. Indeed, rude speech and manners are both the signs of moral evil already existing, and the causes of increasing it… Christianity with its living power in the heart will produce refinement in the manners; and outward refinement will throw a shield round inward principle, and keep it out of harm’s way.”

The Bible sums up, succinctly, the qualities needed to reflect our calling, showing politeness and courtesy:

• “Nothing is to be done out of jealousy or vanity; instead, out of humility of mind everyone should give preference to others” (Philippians 2:3 NJB).  
• “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12 NIV).  
• “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another” (Romans 12:10 NIV).  
• “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous (1 Peter 3:8 New King James Version)

Pentecost, which we’ve just celebrated, was the time when the Holy Spirit was given to the New Testament Church (See Acts chapter 2). Today, baptised members of the true Church of God can reflect their calling by being polite and courteous in a dark society, which emphasises the promotion of self and other carnal traits. Our way is the opposite to that, as Scripture reveals. It is a way that improves society, creates happiness and ensures that we are moving towards being in the Kingdom of God at Christ’s return.

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We begin with a report on the interesting relationship between Germany and Poland on the one hand, and Germany and the Ukraine on the other hand, showing how biblical prophecy is important in this context. Other articles explain the prophesied predominant role of Germany in Europe and the desire of the EU to create a political union.

We continue with the rocky relationship between Israel and Turkey, and between Israel and Germany; we address the situation in Iran and Syria; and we focus on a traumatic power struggle and corruption in the Vatican, which might include most important and influential cardinals. This earthquake in the Catholic Church might be mirrored by real earthquakes in Italy which struck again this week.

We conclude with three articles of a diverse nature—the suspicious and secretive dealings of the Bilderberg group; the ongoing controversial US drone attacks in other countries; and the “natural born citizen” controversy regarding Barak Obama, which had been raised before—in regard to Mitt Romney’s father, presidential candidate George Romney, who was born in Mexico.

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Poland– a Country to Be Reckoned With

On May 25, 2012, Der Spiegel Online wrote the following:

“Poland… has become the most astonishing success story in Eastern Europe. Relations between Berlin and Warsaw have never been better… The country sees itself as a pioneer and role model for the ‘others’ in the East. It wants to become a power in Europe and for Europe, thereby assuming what it has always believed to be its rightful place in the world. We are a country to be reckoned with, say the Poles in Warsaw, Gdansk, Wroclaw and Krakow.

“Poland is one of the world’s few success stories since the fall of the Soviet bloc, a development that is particularly noticeable in comparison with other countries in Eastern Europe. One of those is Ukraine, the second host of the European Championship, plagued by human rights violations and ruled by an authoritarian regime. If Poland is Europe’s model pupil, Ukraine is its bad boy…

“In 2009, a year of crisis, when the German, Italian and British economies each shrank by about 5 percent, Poland was the only country on the continent to experience economic growth (1.7 percent). By 2011, the Polish economy was already growing by an impressive 4.4 percent…

“Amid speculation over Greece’s future in the euro zone, the Polish government is fighting to join the common currency. Warsaw expects to fulfill the criteria by no later than the end of 2015. To do so, it is also prepared to give up sovereignty rights… Hardly any other population is as pro-European as the Poles. In surveys, more than 80 percent say that their country has benefited from joining the European Union…

“Just as Germany and France improved relations after World War II and then became friends, the same progression also seems possible between Germany and Poland today. Berlin is already Warsaw’s biggest trading partner…

“Krakow is the most beautiful city in Poland, a Central European jewel and UNESCO World Heritage Site… Legend has it that the mythical ruler Krakus founded the city on Wawel Hill after killing the dragon that had lived in a cave there… The city is a veritable think tank, with its 23 universities and colleges, and about 200,000 students… In addition to the Polish kings, the country’s greatest figures are buried in a crypt beneath the cathedral. Two years ago, former President Lech Kaczyski was also buried there, in a sarcophagus framed in a sea of white and red roses. For the country’s archconservatives, the fact that he lies so prominently in state is an appropriate appreciation of the former president. But his political opponents see it as presumptuous. They accuse the Catholic Church and Kaczyski’s party of operating a cult for what they see as a rather unsuccessful, nationalist politician…”

The Bible predicts that the Ukraine will forsake Europe and become an integral part of the Russian war machine, while Poland will be, in all likelihood, a strong player in the European unification. It might even become one of the ten core nations or groups of nations which will lead Europe for a short time.

Germany—The Savior of Europe?

The Local reported on May 25:

“Germany is developing a six-point plan to boost growth in Europe, a magazine reported on Friday, amid a heated debate among EU leaders on how to best help indebted eurozone states. The plan, being worked on by the German government, includes setting up special economic zones in crisis-hit countries which could woo investors with lower taxes and less regulation, Der Spiegel said, without revealing its sources.

“Special bodies to privatise state-owned enterprises, along the same lines as when the assets of the former communist East Germany were sold off following German unification, would be created, the magazine said in a copy of its Monday edition. In addition, the proposals included labour market reforms, such as making it easier to hire and fire employees and bringing down wage costs. The plan further entailed proposals to boost on-the-job training for young people, similarly based on the long-established German model, the magazine said.”

Again, Germany is seen as the leader of Europe, destined to save the euro, and it becomes more and more willing to fulfill that role. To privatize and sell state-owned enterprises might sound to be a good idea, but if history is a guide, many West Germans suffered greatly financially when getting involved in buying property in East Germany. In addition, and for all practical purposes, East Germany was swallowed up by West Germany. It was by no means a unification of two equal partners, or a merger, but it was a (peaceful) occupation and takeover by the West Germans. Virtually all East German institutions were dismantled, and even the registration of West German churches in East Germany was disallowed and set aside by the new powers of occupying West Germany.

Europe Forced to Become a Political Union

The EUObserver wrote on May 22, 2012:

“The European Commission has said it will soon bring forward plans for an economic and political union…Last week, German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the European Commission should be the government of Europe and its president should be directly elected.

“Britain, outside the euro and one of its more sceptical members, has also started making public statements about the need for fiscal and political union, with many arguing that the eurozone’s woes have been exacerbated by the fact that the EU lacked the tools – such as a central transfer system – to effectively deal with it.”

As the Bible shows, Europe will become a political AND military union—with frightening consequences for the rest of the world.

Israel vs. Turkey

Haaretz reported on May 30:

“Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday in a meeting with German President Joachim Gauck that despite Turkey’s vicious tongue-lashing against Israel over the past few years, Jerusalem has been behaving with ‘maximum restraint toward the Turkish provocations.’ Lieberman added that despite Israel’s restraint, it will not allow its officers and soldiers to be terrorized, for they acted completely justifiably and in accordance with international law, as was also determined by the UN’s international investigatory committee into the Gaza flotilla.

“‘We hope that the European nations will not cooperate with the Turkish provocation of baseless indictments against the former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff and other senior officers,’ Lieberman told Gauck, who is visiting Jerusalem. ‘We hope the European nations will put Turkey back in its place and prevent wild behavior by the NATO member that has gone off course and is behaving contradictorily to all acceptable international laws.’”

According to the Bible, the relationship between Israel and Turkey is bound to deteriorate even further.

The Rocky Relationship Between Germany and Israel

Deutsche Welle reported on May 26:

“German-Israeli relations have never been easy. German President Joachim Gauck hails from the former German Democratic Republic, which did not maintain official relations with Israel. As an ‘anti-fascist’ state, the GDR government did not consider itself in succession of the law of the Third Reich, and therefore did not shoulder the burdens of responsibility of German history. For West Germany, on the other hand, unconditional solidarity with Israel became a cornerstone of its policy.

“Konrad Adenauer, West Germany’s first chancellor, laid the groundwork in building a good relationship with the Jewish state, which was founded in 1948. In 1952, Adenauer and founder and Prime Minister of Israel David Ben-Gurion signed a reparations agreement – which entered into force the following year – to compensate for some of the atrocities of the Holocaust. Diplomatic relations were established in 1965. Today, Germany is considered one of Israel’s closest allies.

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel has even deemed Israel’s security a raison d’être of the German state, yet German citizens themselves long ago stopped heeding this principle. Israel has increasing lost respect among Germans [Note: Please note our next article and our accompanying comments on that issue.]

“‘Friendship does not exist between Germany and Israel,’ Munich-based historian Michael Wolffsohn noted matter-of-factly. A sense of distance has been growing between the two nations since 1981, clearly evidenced in surveys, he said at a recent podium discussion in Berlin.

“Israel enjoyed an exceptionally good reputation among Germans following the Six-Day War in 1967, he pointed out, but it began to suffer after the Yom Kippur War of 1973. A deep fissure in the relationship developed in 1981 concerning German plans to deliver weapons to Saudi Arabia, leading to a hefty dispute between then government leaders Menachem Begin and Helmut Schmidt. Israel is now one of the most unpopular states in the world in German eyes, Wolffsohn said.

“Young Germans in particular have developed a critical distance toward Israel… 70 years after the Shoah, the Zionist project has failed. ‘The Jewish state offers security neither to its Jewish nor its non-Jewish residents,’ historian Amar-Dahl said. Germans are slowly waking up to this as well. ‘People are beginning to realize that Israel’s hopeless policies have helped create this situation,’ she noted… Amar-Dahl said she could not speak of a ‘normal relationship between Germany and Israel.’ This would not be possible given the extent of Germany’s radical and monstrous crimes against Jews…

“In Israel, Germany is highly regarded as a weapons supplier. Just a few weeks ago, the Israeli Navy received the fourth Dolphin-class submarine from Germany. Israel has ordered a total of six German-made, nuclear-capable submarines, each costing up to a half-billion dollars, making them Israel’s most expensive weapons. Germany covers part of the costs, with the first two submarines given to Israel for free and the construction of the rest subsidized with several hundred thousand euros (100,000 euros = $125,000).

“Germany’s supply of submarines to Israel also prompted poet and novelist Günther Grass to express his concerns over the growing tensions in the Middle East and his criticism of Israel’s politics. The poem “What Must Be Said” by the Nobel Peace Prize laureate published in April in several German and international newspapers criticized Israel’s policies and its threats of attack on Iran, triggering a wave of outrage and prompting the Israeli government to deem Grass persona non grata…”

German-Israeli Relationship at the Brink

The Local wrote on May 23:

“A large majority of Germans view Israel as ‘aggressive’ and think Germany no longer has a special obligation to the Jewish nation, according to an opinion poll released Wednesday ahead of a state visit by Germany’s president.

“The survey, conducted by Forsa for Stern news magazine, found that 59 percent of those questioned viewed Israel as ‘aggressive’, an increase of 10 percentage points over a similar survey in January 2009. Seventy percent said they believed Israel pursued its interests without consideration for other nations, Stern said in a pre-release of its Thursday edition, up 11 percentage points from three years ago.

“And 67 years after the end of the Nazi regime, 60 percent said Germany had no special obligation towards Israel, while a third believed the contrary, according to the survey of 1,002 people conducted on May 15 and 16…

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been sharply critical of the Israeli government’s settlements policy in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, calling it an obstacle to fruitful peace talks with the Palestinians. And last month Grass sparked outrage when he published a poem in which he said he feared a nuclear-armed Israel ‘could wipe out the Iranian people’ with a ‘first strike’ and described the Jewish state as the region’s biggest threat to peace. Although his work came in for widespread condemnation in Germany, a subsequent move by the Israeli government to declare the 84-year-old author of ‘The Tin Drum’ a persona non grata was also roundly criticised.”

The relationship between Europe, under German leadership, and Israel will deteriorate. The results of the survey mentioned in the article are not representative of the overwhelming opinion of the German people—the number of those looking at Israel negatively is much higher than the official figure. The “widespread  condemnation” of Guenther Grass’s poem was not as severe as the article makes it out to be—and when evaluating Grass’s POETIC statements in context, they were not as critical of the state of Israel as portrayed by the mainstream media. Grass was in no way defending Iran, nor was he portraying himself as Israel’s enemy—just the opposite is true.

What is correct, however, is that the Israeli government’s move to ban any visits of Grass to Israel was condemned by the German people, as it was in Israel’s media. Grass published last week a new poem, criticizing Europe’s dealings with Greece. According to the German press, no uproar is expected, as he did not criticize Israel in his new poem.

The first state visit of German President Joachim Gauck in Israel has been observed with great interest.

Der Spiegel Online reported on May 31:

“Speaking to reporters on Tuesday in Jerusalem, Gauck appeared to distance himself from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s stated position that the security of Israel is Germany’s raison d’état, or national interest, and that Germany would stand by Israel even in the event of war with Iran — comments for which she herself has been heavily criticized at home.”

The Local added on May 31:

“Gauck, who visited Israel this week, said he was not at all talking about drawing a line under the Holocaust debate. ‘But there’s one tendency I don’t want to follow – pulling the perception of the Holocaust into a quasi-religious dimension, into something surreal,’ he said. Gauck’s comments came as he visited Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas in Ramallah. Gauck promised Abbas that Germany would continue to provide financial aid to the Palestinians – currently amounting to €70 million a year – as long as there was no solution to the Mideast conflict… Gauck also told Die Zeit that he agreed with the intention of a statement by his predecessor Christian Wulff that Islam belongs to Germany. The comment stirred huge controversy in Germany. But Gauck said he would have put it differently. ‘I would have simply said that the Muslims who live here belong to Germany,’ he said.”

As the next articles show, Iran is getting closer to producing the bomb. With fanatics in charge in that country, who seem to be determined to wipe Israel off the map, war in the region is becoming more and more a distinct possibility—either way.

Iran Closer to Production of Nuclear Weapons

Reuters reported on May 27:

“Iran has significantly stepped up its output of low-enriched uranium and total production in the last five years would be enough for at least five nuclear weapons if refined much further, a U.S. security institute said…

“During talks in Baghdad this week, six world powers failed to convince Iran to scale back its uranium enrichment program. They will meet again in Moscow next month to try to defuse a decade-old standoff that has raised fears of a new war in the Middle East that could disrupt oil supplies. Friday’s report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a Vienna-based U.N. body, showed Iran was pressing ahead with its uranium enrichment work in defiance of U.N. resolutions calling on it to suspend the activity.”

The Financial Times wrote on May 25:

“Over the past few weeks, there has been growing optimism in western capitals that Iran might be forced into a compromise over its nuclear programme and avoid a war with Israel and the US. However, after two days of anguished talks this week between Iran and world powers in Baghdad, such hopes were doused in a very cold dose of reality.

“As Israel and the US make contingency plans for a possible strike, the six powers – the US, EU, UK, France, Germany, Russia and China – put a proposal to Iran that would have seen Tehran freeze its production of more highly enriched uranium in return for a package of inducements from the US and EU, such as providing parts for Iranian civil aircraft. But after often fraught bargaining in Baghdad, diplomats left declaring they had made no progress at all…

“Washington is desperate to stop Israel carrying out an attack before November – an event that would drag the US into war and also destabilise President Barack Obama’s chances of re-election… the negotiations will get a great deal harder if there is no clear progress at the next meeting in Moscow on June 18. The meeting comes just before US and EU energy and banking sanctions take full effect on July 1, after which a breakthrough will be much more difficult.

“At the same time, failure at Moscow will force Mr Obama to ratchet up the rhetoric against the regime in order to counter Republican accusations that he is being strung along by Iranian prevarication… contingency planning for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities is intensifying in the US and Israel.”

Syria’s Civil War

Newsmax, Thomsen and Reuters reported on May 29:

“The State Department is expelling Syria’s top diplomat in Washington following a wave of deadly attacks on civilians in Syria over the weekend… The U.S. move was coordinated with at least seven other Western countries, which also expelled Syria’s ambassadors from their capitals on Tuesday in response to the coordinated killing of more than 100 civilians in a Syrian town. The joint action marked a new phase in the international effort to halt the repression of a 14-month uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad and force him to relinquish power… France, Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Australia said they were expelling the Syrian envoys from their capitals in a move that… underlined Assad’s diplomatic isolation…

“Gruesome video footage distributed by opposition activists has helped to shake world opinion out of growing indifference to a conflict in which more than 10,000 have been killed. But Russia, which with China has twice vetoed U.N. Security Council resolutions on Syria… insists that rebels share the blame for the massacre. Russia long saw Assad’s late father as the best defender of its interests in the region, and leases a major naval base in Syria… Sunni Muslim Gulf powers Saudi Arabia and Qatar favor arming the mostly-Sunni rebels fighting Assad, whose ruling cadre are mostly Alawites, members of an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam.”

The Austrian media outlet, net.news, published a biting and damning article about President Obama in the context of Syria. It titled its article “Coward Obama?”, and wrote on May 29:

“Barack Obama is silent. The man who normally cannot walk by a microphone, says nothing about the most recent massacre in Syria. For months he has been watching the slaughter without any action. Does the ‘World Power Number 1’ depart from its claim to protect the suppressed of this world, and to help the freedom fighters?”

Reuters wrote on May 31 that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary “Clinton rejects military option in Syria, following [the] Houla massacre. [She] says that unlike Libya, Syrian air defense is stronger, society is more diverse and opposition is not unified.”

At the same time, the German magazine Focus reported on May 29 that French President Hollande is now considering European military intervention in Syria. Angela Merkel responded that she is against any such action, but influential voices in Germany utter a different view point.

The Bible is very clear that in the end, Syria and Damascus will be destroyed, and Syrians will become slaves of a foreign power. In our Q&A on Syria, we stated the following:

“Jeremiah 49:23-27 gives us [a] stirring account of Syria’s impending destruction. It specifically mentions that the young men of Damascus will fall in her streets, and all men of war shall be cut off IN THAT DAY. It also says that GOD will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus which will consume the palaces of the city and of the leadership and prominent people of Syria… We can safely say that in the end time, Syria and Damascus will be destroyed. Even though the Bible does not expressly state who will be the nation or ‘king’ who will destroy Damascus and enslave the Syrians, if we look at prior historical events, it is possible that it will be done through the modern Babylonian system under the leadership of the modern ‘king’ of Assyria–a mighty future leader in Germany, also referred to in the Bible as the beast, King Jareb, and the king of the North.”

Power Struggle and Scandals at the Vatican

The Associated Press reported on May 28:

“One of the Vatican’s biggest scandals in decades appears to be widening with reports that an Italian cardinal may be involved in a power struggle involving leaked documents, corruption and intrigue. The pope’s butler, who has been arrested in the scandal, has pledged to cooperate in the probe. Leading Italian newspapers Corriere della Sera and Il Messaggero reported Monday that the pope’s butler — arrested three days ago for allegedly feeding documents to Italian journalists — clearly did not act alone, and that an unidentified cardinal is suspected of playing a major role in the scandal…

“The commitment by butler Paolo Gabriele to cooperate with Vatican investigators raises the specter that higher-ranking prelates may soon be named in the scandal over leaks of confidential Vatican correspondence that have shed light on power struggles and intrigue inside the highest levels of the Catholic Church.”

In the German press, and especially its tabloids, conspiracy theories are rampant. Bild Online suggested that four most influential cardinals were attempting to unseat Pope Benedict XVI. Der Spiegel Online added that the Pope is powerless against the ongoing intrigue in the Vatican. As could be expected, the Vatican denied any power struggle or intrigue. Note the next articles.

Scandal and Corruption in the Catholic Church

Deutsche Welle wrote on May 30:

“It’s a case of intrigue, betrayal, and secret documents that would make a good plot for a thriller: Paolo Gabriele, personal butler to Pope Benedict XVI, was allegedly a mole who passed confidential Vatican information to the press, uncovering alleged corruption, cronyism and mismanagement at the heart of the Roman Catholic Church – he even passed on details of an alleged murder plot against Benedict himself… ‘The butler’s arrest is the affair’s dramatic climax, because there is no one nearer to the pope,’ said Ludwig Ring-Eifel, editor-in-chief of the German Catholic News Agency (KNA). Gabriele has been at Pope Benedict’s side since 2006.

“… the Italian media has been rife with conspiracy theories this week. But the only consensus among them is that Gabriele was not working alone…”

The Washington Post wrote on May 29:

“Rumors have been flying in the press about possible cardinals implicated in the probe… The scandal represents one of the greatest breaches of trust and security for the Holy See in recent memory given that a significant number of documents from the pope’s own desk were leaked to an investigative journalist… Few people think Gabriele worked alone… The motivations for the leaks remain unclear: Some commentators say they appear designed to discredit Benedict’s No. 2, the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. Others say they’re aimed at undermining the Vatican’s efforts to become more financially transparent. Still others say they aim to show the 85-year-old Benedict’s weakness in running the church…

“Gabriele is an employee of the Holy See, a citizen and resident of the Vatican city state. He is being held by Vatican police…

“The scandal broke in January when Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi revealed letters from a former top Vatican administrator who begged the pope not to transfer him for having exposed alleged corruption that cost the Holy See millions of euros (dollars) in higher contract prices. The prelate, Monsignor Carlo Maria Vigano, is now the Vatican’s U.S. ambassador. The scandal widened over the following months with documents leaked to Italian journalists that laid bare power struggles inside the Vatican over its efforts to show greater financial transparency and comply with international norms to fight money laundering. There was even a leak of a memo claiming that Benedict would die this year. The crisis reached a peak last weekend, when Nuzzi published an entire book based on a trove of new documentation, including personal correspondence to and from the pope and his private secretary, much of which paints Bertone in a negative light.”

More Earthquakes Hit Italy

Der Spiegel Online wrote on May 29:

“At least 15 people are dead after two earthquakes shook northern Italy on Tuesday. Just nine days after the last quake that left seven dead, many buildings had already been destabilized. Police reportedly struggled to handle a panic stricken populace amid communication and transportation difficulties… The first quake, which struck Tuesday morning around 9 am, registered a magnitude of 5.8, according to the US Geological Service (USGS). The second, which hit close to midday, reached 5.6.

“The temblors affected the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, where residents were still trying to recover from the last deadly earthquake on May 20. That 6.0 magnitude disaster was one of the strongest quakes the country has seen in the last three years and shocked the area around Bologna, injuring 50 and leaving thousands homeless. Tuesday’s quakes were reportedly felt from Genoa to Venice and from Bolzano to Florence. Factories, churches and warehouses reportedly collapsed, with the cities of Modena, Brescia and Milan among the most affected.”

How Bilderberg and Other Powerful Groups Manipulate Us

rt.com wrote on May 29:

“Every time a Bilderberg Meeting takes place, important things happen. The last time they met in the US was an election year, 2008 – and the world got Obama. This year they’re back in the US: will they decide who the next president will be? When in 2008 they gathered from June 5 to 8 in Chantilly, Virginia – just a stone’s throw from… Washington DC – Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were neck-in-neck in the battle for the Democratic Party’s presidential candidacy. On June 5 of that year, Barack and Hillary mysteriously ‘disappeared’ for some hours ‘somewhere in the DC area.’ Their agendas blocked out, they clearly sneaked off to ‘Meet the Bilderbergers.’

“The media kept mum about that…  two days later, Hillary withdrew from the race and Obama became the presidential candidate. Did Bilderberg make Hillary ‘an offer she couldn’t refuse’ to clear the way for Obama to the White House? Did they promise her that she would become his Secretary of State?

“Although most Bilderberg annual meetings are held in Europe – France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Denmark, England, Scotland, Norway – this US election year they’re again gathering at the Westfield Marriott Hotel in Virginia from May 30 to June 3. Either they’re very fond of that place… or of US elections… or both…

“We… saw George H. W. Bush attend their 1985 meeting, Bill Clinton attend their 1991 meeting, Tony Blair in 1993, and Romano Prodi, former head of the EU Commission, in 1999. So what exactly is Bilderberg? It’s neither an organization nor a lobby. The ‘Bilderberg Meetings’… is a ‘by-invitation-only’ club of around 140 very high-power people from business, finance, oil, politics, media, industry, academia and nobility who come together in a very private no-media / no cameras / extremely-tight-security surroundings…

“Though very high up on the Pyramid, Bilderberg is not the Global Elite’s power center. Rather, Bilderberg is a key group within a much more vast, more complex, less centralized, and highly effective Global Power Network… This includes such key entities as the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations (long-term geopolitical planners), its London-based sister entity Royal Institute of International Affairs (aka ‘Chatham House’), RAND Corp., CSIS, the American Enterprise Institute (strategic affairs specialists), Tavistock Institute in London (mass psychology research), the Carnegie Endowment, and the Trilateral Commission ‘umbrella’ entity (founded 1973 by Rockefeller / Morgan / Rothschild interests…)…

“It’s therefore no surprise to see that [Bilderberg’s] last year’s attendee list looks like a Who’s Who of banking, industrial and media CEO top brass: Deutsche Bank, HSBC, CitiCorp, European Central Bank, US Federal Reserve Bank, Lazard Frères, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Barclays, World Bank, Bank of Canada, AXA, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Fiat, Nestle, Novartis, Coca-Cola, Airbus, Eni, Telecom Italy, ExxonMobil, Alcoa, Marks & Spencer, Die Zeit, The Economist… European nobility regularly attend too: the Dutch Queen, the Spanish King and Queen, Norway’s Crown Prince… Interestingly, also in attendance are founders and top executives of giant Internet management and intelligence gathering companies as Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Microsoft. Clearly, they run countries around the world, not voting citizens…”

The Digital Journal added on May 31:

“Starting today 150 of the world’s elite are meeting just outside Washington. Will they decide who to back as the next U.S. President? The agenda of the meeting is not available to the public, but much speculation is going around as to what the global elite will be discussing. Many people are wondering if the Bilderberg Conference is a place that decides the leaders in this world and many believe it is. Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush both apparently attended Bilderberg conferences in the years prior to election as President. Prior to becoming Prime Minister of England in 1997, Tony Blair was an attendee at the 1993 Bilderberg conference. Many believe that the 2004 conference decided 2008’s U.S. presidential election and rumors suggested that attending members backed Barack Obama for his future nomination at that year’s event.”

In its article of May 31, the Guardian confirmed the foregoing, strongly suggesting that the Bilderbergers decided on Bill Clinton and George W. Bush as the next Presidents.

It also stated: “As for this year’s election, rumours are already circulating about Bilderberg and presidential running mates, sparked off by a Washington Post report back in April on the matter of Republican senator Marco Rubio’s speech at the Summit of the Americas: ‘[John] Edwards gave a speech in June 2004 at the Bilderberg conference that was widely credited as one reason John Kerry chose him.’”

We may not be aware of worldwide activities of powerful secret groups, but that does not mean that they do not exist. In a revealing article in the German magazine “Wunderwelt Wissen,” which was published in May of 2012, the incredible and bizarre activities of the secret American organization “Skull and Bones,” which originates at the Yale University, were discussed (former President George W. Bush is a member of this group, and so is Democrat John Kerry). The same article also addressed other obscure groups, such as the Illuminati and the Bilderbergers.

Another German magazine, PM History, also ran an article in May of 2012, discussing the activities of the Free Masons. Most American Presidents belonged to that obscure, but powerful group, including George Washington and Franklin D. Roosevelt. So, the media knows about these secret groups, but generally omits to talk about them. As the article that was quoted above alleges, they may even be part of them. No wonder, then, that the media seems to manipulate the citizens in so many ways, by omitting to report important news, or by changing it when it does not fit their purposes.

Are U.S. Drone Attacks Christian, Moral and Legal?

The New York Times wrote on May 29:

“Mr. Obama has placed himself at the helm of a top secret ‘nominations’ process to designate terrorists for kill or capture, of which the capture part has become largely theoretical… Mr. Obama is the liberal law professor who campaigned against the Iraq war and torture, and then insisted on approving every new name on an expanding ‘kill list’… When a rare opportunity for a drone strike at a top terrorist arises…  it is the president who has reserved to himself the final moral calculation.

“Nothing else in Mr. Obama’s first term has baffled liberal supporters and confounded conservative critics alike as his aggressive counterterrorism record… [It shows] a paradoxical leader who shunned the legislative deal-making required to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, but approves lethal action without hand-wringing…

“The administration’s failure to forge a clear detention policy has created the impression among some members of Congress of a take-no-prisoners policy… Beside the president at every step is… a priest whose blessing has become indispensable to Mr. Obama, echoing the president’s attempt to apply the ‘just war’ theories of Christian philosophers to a brutal modern conflict… Yet the administration’s very success at killing terrorism suspects has been shadowed by a suspicion: that Mr. Obama has avoided the complications of detention by deciding, in effect, to take no prisoners alive. While scores of suspects have been killed under Mr. Obama, only one has been taken into American custody, and the president has balked at adding new prisoners to Guantánamo…

“Justly or not, drones have become a provocative symbol of American power, running roughshod over national sovereignty and killing innocents. With China and Russia watching, the United States has set an international precedent for sending drones over borders to kill enemies.  Mr. Blair, the former director of national intelligence, [not to be confused with Britain’s Tony Blair] said the strike campaign was dangerously seductive. ‘It is the politically advantageous thing to do — low cost, no U.S. casualties, gives the appearance of toughness,’ he said. ‘It plays well domestically, and it is unpopular only in other countries. Any damage it does to the national interest only shows up over the long term.’

“But Mr. Blair’s dissent puts him in a small minority of security experts. Mr. Obama’s record has eroded the political perception that Democrats are weak on national security. No one would have imagined four years ago that his counterterrorism policies would come under far more fierce attack from the American Civil Liberties Union than from Mr. Romney.”

And that is a sad statement, indeed. And so is the following article:

US Drone Attacks Summary Executions and War Crimes?

The Guardian wrote on May 29:

“More than a decade after George W Bush launched it, the ‘war on terror’ was supposed to be winding down. US military occupation of Iraq has ended and Nato is looking for a way out of Afghanistan, even as the carnage continues. But another war – the undeclared drone war that has already killed thousands – is now being relentlessly escalated. From Pakistan to Somalia, CIA-controlled pilotless aircraft rain down Hellfire missiles on an ever-expanding hit list of terrorist suspects – they have already killed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of civilians in the process.

“At least 15 drone strikes have been launched in Yemen this month, as many as in the whole of the past decade, killing dozens; while in Pakistan, a string of US attacks has been launched against supposed ‘militant’ targets in the past week, incinerating up to 35 people and hitting a mosque and a bakery.

“The US’s decision to step up the drone war again in Pakistan, opposed by both government and parliament in Islamabad as illegal and a violation of sovereignty, reflects its fury at the jailing of a CIA agent involved in the Bin Laden hunt and Pakistan’s refusal to reopen supply routes for Nato forces in Afghanistan. Those routes were closed in protest at the US killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers last November, for which Washington still refuses to apologise…

“In his first two years in office, the US president more than tripled the number of attacks in Pakistan alone. For their US champions, drones have the advantage of involving no American casualties, while targeting the ‘bad guys’… Since 2004, between 2,464 and 3,145 people are reported to have been killed by US drone attacks in Pakistan, of whom up to 828 were civilians (535 under Obama) and 175 children. Some Pakistani estimates put the civilian death toll much higher – plausibly, given the tendency to claim as ‘militants’ victims later demonstrated to be nothing of the sort.

“The US president insisted recently that the civilian death toll was not a ‘huge number’. Not on the scale of Iraq, perhaps, where hundreds of thousands were killed; or Afghanistan, where tens of thousands have died. But they gruesomely include dozens killed in follow-up attacks after they had gone to help victims of earlier strikes – as well as teenagers like Tariq Khan, a 16-year-old Pakistani boy decapitated in a strike last November after he had travelled to Islamabad to protest against drones.

‘These killings are, in reality, summary executions and widely regarded as potential war crimes by international lawyers – including the UN’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Philip Alston. The CIA’s now retired counsel, John Rizzo, who authorised drone attacks, himself talked about having been involved in ‘murder’.

“A decade ago, the US criticised Israel for such ‘extrajudicial killings’ but now claims self-defence in the war against al-Qaida. These are attacks, however, routinely carried out on the basis of false intelligence, in countries such as Pakistan where no war has been declared and without the consent of the elected government… Of course, drone attacks are only one method by which the US and its allies deliver death and destruction in Afghanistan and the wider Middle East, from night raids and air attacks to killing sprees on the ground. The day after last Friday’s Houla massacre in Syria, eight members of one family were killed at home by a Nato air attack in eastern Afghanistan – one of many such atrocities barely registered in the western media.

“But while support for the war in Afghanistan has fallen to an all-time low in all Nato states, the drone war is popular in the US…”

Please view our latest StandingWatch program on the issue, titled, “Does God Approve of US Drone Attacks?”

The “Natural Born Citizen” Controversy

Politico wrote on May 29:

“During a phone interview from Las Vegas, [Donald] Trump defended his ongoing claims that Obama may not have been born in the United States, a charge that Mitt Romney has sought to distance himself from even as he courts Trump’s support. ‘Many people do not think [his birth certificate] was authentic,’ Trump said…”

Reuters reported on May 29:

“So on a day when real estate and media mogul Donald Trump was trying to help Mitt Romney by stirring up a new round of questions about whether Democratic President Barack Obama was born in the United States, Romney’s own birth record became a reminder that in the 1968 presidential campaign, his father had faced his own ‘birther’ controversy. Back then, George Romney – who died in 1995 – was a moderate who was challenging eventual President Richard Nixon in the Republican primaries.

“Records in a George Romney archive at the University of Michigan describe how questions about his eligibility to be president surfaced almost as soon as he began his short-lived campaign. In many ways, they appear to echo today’s complaints that Trump and some other conservative ‘birthers’ have made about Obama while questioning whether Obama – whose father was from Kenya and mother was from Kansas – was born in Hawaii.

“In George Romney’s case, most of the questions were raised initially by Democrats who cited the Constitution’s requirement that only a ‘natural born citizen’ can be president. As early as February 1967 – a year before the first 1968 presidential primary – some newspapers were raising questions as to whether George Romney’s place of birth disqualified him from the presidency.

“By May 1967, U.S. congressman Emmanuel Celler, a Democrat who chaired the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, was expressing ‘serious doubts’ about George Romney’s eligibility. The next month, another Democratic congressman inserted a lengthy treatise into the Congressional Record in which a government lawyer… argued that George Romney was ineligible for the White House because he was born outside U.S. territory.

“In what today might seem like deja vu, eminent legal authorities soon were queuing up to argue in favor of George Romney’s eligibility. The New York Law Journal published a lengthy argument by a senior partner from Sullivan & Cromwell, one of Manhattan’s elite law firms, arguing that the fact that both of George Romney’s parents were U.S. citizens clearly established him as a ‘natural born citizen’ who was eligible to be president.

“In a paper in November aimed at clarifying presidential eligibility, the Congressional Research Service declared that the practical, legal meaning of ‘natural born citizen’ would ‘most likely include’ not only anyone born on U.S. soil but anyone born overseas of at least one parent who was a U.S. citizen.”

It is interesting to us that in the case of George Romney, his eligibility was immediately questioned, whereas in the case of Barak Obama, this very issue was initially totally “ignored” or “overlooked.” The controversy on the eligibility of Barack Obama is not easily going away, even though the mainstream press would love to suppress it. To be fair, there are many different legal opinions as to the requirements of a “natural born citizen.”

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, wrote this:

“Status as a natural-born citizen of the United States is one of the eligibility requirements established in the United States Constitution for election to the office of President or Vice President. This requirement was an attempt to allay concerns that foreign aristocrats might immigrate to the new nation and use their wealth and influence to impose a monarchy. The Constitution does not define the phrase natural-born citizen, and various opinions have been offered over time regarding its precise meaning.

“A 2011 Congressional Research Service report stated: ‘The weight of legal and historical authority indicates that the term ‘natural born’ citizen would mean a person who is entitled to U.S. citizenship ‘by birth’ or ‘at birth,’ either by being born ‘in’ the United States and under its jurisdiction, even those born to alien parents; by being born abroad to U.S. citizen-parents; or by being born in other situations meeting legal requirements for U.S. citizenship ‘at birth.’ Such term, however, would not include a person who was not a U.S. citizen by birth or at birth, and who was thus born an ‘alien’ required to go through the legal process of ‘naturalization’ to become a U.S. citizen.

“The natural-born-citizen clause has been mentioned in passing in several decisions of the United States Supreme Court and lower courts dealing with the question of eligibility for citizenship by birth, but the Supreme Court has never directly addressed the question of a specific presidential or vice-presidential candidate’s eligibility as a natural-born citizen.”

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What is the apostasy mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3? Is it a continuation of wrong teachings by a revised orthodox Christianity?

In 2 Thessalonians 2:3 there is a falling away (“apostasia”) mentioned, which is defined by Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries (G646) as “defection from the truth, falling away, forsake.”  This verse is in the section of Scripture (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4), which reads as follows in its entirety:
“Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”
The context of these verses is interesting. This is talking about a falling away from the truth, and it is the only place in the Bible where the word “apostasia” is used. The apostle Paul is addressing “brethren” (verse 1) about an apostasy especially at the end time, as “the man of sin” is also mentioned who is to reveal himself during the very last days, and who will sit in the temple of God and pretend to be God himself. This strongly indicates that the Jews will build a temple in Jerusalem prior to Christ’s return, where they will bring sacrifices, and that the man of sin or the false prophet will occupy the temple for a while, when the armies of the beast power will occupy the city of Jerusalem and suppress the daily sacrifices. All of this will be fulfilling aspects of Christ’s end time warning that the abomination of desolation will be set up or standing at the holy place, where it should not be (Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14).
It is correct, of course, that an apostasy from the true gospel already began during the lifetime of Paul, when he stated that he marvelled that so many in the Church of God had turned to another gospel (Galatians 1:6-7). But Paul’s warning, taken as a whole, is not about others who did not or do not have the truth, but he is addressing those who had learned it and who would nevertheless “fall away” or leave their own beliefs behind and go off in a different direction.
It is therefore clear that any revival of orthodox Christianity, including a revival of the Roman Catholic Church, the Greek and Russian Orthodox Church or the different Protestant churches (as mentioned in Revelation 13 and 17), is not in any way to be viewed as being an aspect of the end-time apostasy or falling away from true biblical teaching.

How can orthodox Christianity “fall away” from biblical beliefs that they do not accept in the first place, and have never accepted? For instance, the Catholic and Protestant churches have rejected, for nearly two millennia, the weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days. The Roman Catholic Church has stated that they had the authority to change the Sabbath day. James Cardinal Gibbons wrote in his book “The Faith of our Fathers”, 88th ed., p. 89:   “But you may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday.  The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify.”   Further, The Catholic Mirror stated in 1893:  “The Catholic Church, . . . by virtue of her divine mission, changed the day from Saturday to Sunday.”   There are many other admissions along these lines, and so it is a dogmatic statement which will not change.

The Protestant Church, even though they officially rejected and still reject the authority of the Catholic Church to change the teachings of the Bible, nevertheless followed the lead of the Catholic Church and adopted Sunday worship, while rejecting the Sabbath. Martin Luther himself declared that the Bible teaches the observance of the Sabbath, agreeing with the Waldenses who insisted at the time that the Sabbath must be kept, but he concluded that one should instead continue the observance of Sunday, as to avoid an unnecessary uproar. Other Protestant “reformers” such as Calvin understood that Easter is a pagan holiday, which is not enjoined in Scripture, but which the Catholic Church adopted from pagans who kept this day in honour of pagan gods. The goal was to  bring those pagans into the fold of the Catholic Church. However, these same Protestant “reformers” did not feel it necessary to abrogate Easter observance.

The food or dietary laws are ignored and nominal Christians are permitted to eat just about any abomination one can imagine, and the correct way of tithing is something that they have never believed in. At the same time, a false concept of God is being taught, where He is misrepresented as a Trinity—One Person in Three Persons—while the Bible clearly rejects such absurd doctrine. The list could go on and on, but suffice to say that orthodox Christianity could not be part of an end time “apostasia”, because they never had the truth in the first place from which to renege, and they most certainly do not have the truth today.
In Galatians 1:8-9, we are instructed in no uncertain terms to preach only the truth: “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”
The true Church of God has always been a “little flock”.  Jesus said in Luke 12:32: “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”   The history of the Church of God has shown, down through the centuries, that it has always been a little flock, whilst the Roman Catholic Church has grown to a membership of around a billion people.   The rest of the professing Christian world is about another one billion people, many of whom are nominal members.
It must be remembered that “a falling away” doesn’t have to be millions of people.   It is a falling away from a small flock, which the Church of God has always been, and therefore, numerically, won’t be millions of people. The “falling away” is only in connection with where the truth is and has been preached – and that is in the Church of God. We should also note that the Bible does not use the term, “great” falling away.
Paul’s warning for us today is therefore very sobering: Even though a falling away did undoubtedly take place at the time when a new administration came to power in the Worldwide Church of God, after the death of its human leader, Herbert Armstrong, in 1986, the apostasy from the truth within the Church of God will continue. As many fell away from the truth then, so many will still fall away in the future.
Many of us may remember that in the Worldwide Church of God, many things were changed, but the official explanation was that it was just another way of explanation or a “clarification.” That should be sufficient warning for all of us to be very careful, and check up on what the Bible actually says, rather than following any individual’s personal interpretations.
The reason for the ongoing apostasy, which will culminate just prior to Christ’s return, is clearly explained in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12:
“The coming of the lawless one [the man of sin, mentioned in verse 3] is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the LOVE of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them [allow them to receive] strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
There is also a warning about those who are always wanting to hear something new. In 2 Timothy 4:3 we read the following prophecy: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers.”   Others teach falsely that the Church of God does not need any true ministers.
And so, we have been warned not to be deceived. We must heed the warning, lest we fall away from God’s Church and God’s truth.
Lead Writers: Brian Gale (Great Britain) and Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program was recorded and posted on YouTube and our website (www.standingwatch.org), titled, “Does God Approve of US Drone Attacks?” Are US drone attacks moral, Christian and legal, or do they violate biblical standards and constitute potential war crimes? The New York Times reported on May 29 that a priest blesses President Obama’s decisions to launch such deadly drone attacks. While the drone war remains popular in the US, it is being condemned in most other countries, as the British paper, The Guardian, reports on May 29. It is estimated that hundreds, if not thousands of civilians and children were killed in the process, but the facts and circumstances of such atrocities are rarely mentioned in the Western press. The drone war has been described by concerned Americans as “dangerously seductive,” and it is feared that its damage will show up in the long run. But it may not be that long.

We are planning to broadcast soon on radio the audio portion of this program.

A new German AufPostenStehen program was posted on YouTube and on our German website (www.aufpostenstehen.de) titled, “Die Verteufelung des Guenther Grass” (“The Demonization of Guenther Grass”).

Norbert Link’s most recent video-taped sermon, “God’s Gracious Gifts,” which was recorded on May 26, 2012, was posted on YouTube and our website (www.standingwatch.org).

A new German sermon was posted on YouTube and on our German website (www.aufpostenstehen.de), titled, “Gesetz und Gnade” (“Law and Grace”).

A reminder for those wishing to attend the Feast of Tabernacles with us for 2012–please review details posted on our website under the “FEASTS” heading. Our locations for this year are Pismo Beach, California, and Deganwy, North Wales.

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How This Work is Financed

This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.

Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson

Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank

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