Current Events

2004 — a year of disasters

AFP reported on December 8, 2004, that “typhoons, earthquakes and war made 2004 one of the toughest years for aid workers… This year began with the aftermath of a powerful earthquake in Iran that killed more than 26,000 people, and is ending with a string of storms in the Philippines that have left more than 1,500 people dead… ‘It has been one of the most challenging years ever for the humanitarian community in part because we have had tremendous natural disasters,’ the UN deputy secretary general for humanitarian affairs [Jan Egeland] told a news conference… An announcement at the start of the year that the war-torn region of Darfur in western Sudan was the world’s worst humanitarian crisis remained true 12 months later, despite mammoth relief projects, he noted. Some 1.5 million people have fled fierce fighting that flared between government and rebel forces in the province in February 2003. A bloody conflict between rebels and government forces in northern Uganda has also triggered a humanitarian crisis, but hopes were rising for peace as both sides have opened discussions through mediators, Egeland said… In addition, the UN relief coordinator lamented the bloodshed in Iraq where an insurgency against the US-backed government claims lives daily. ‘We are very concerned for the situation of the civilian population and the continuous killings of civilians in Iraq,’ Egeland said.”

Russia’s Vladimir Putin

On December 13, 2004, Newsweek published a telling article about Russia’s Vladimir Putin. The magazine pointed out:

“Russia’s leader thought Ukraine was in his pocket — until Ukrainians showed how badly he had miscalculated. But the former KGB colonel still isn’t about to abandon his dream of bringing back the Kremlin’s glory days of worldwide influence.”

The article continued: “The last thing Putin wants to see is another chunk of the old U.S.S.R. disappear down the maw of the ever encroaching West. (Yushchenko has indicated he might try to bring Ukraine into the European Union, and possibly follow the Baltic states into NATO.) Ever since Putin rose to the presidency in 2000 pledging to crush Chechnya’s separatists, he’s sought to halt further disintegration of the former Soviet superpower and its sphere of influence.”

In a related article of the Associated Press, dated December 6, 2004, it was reported that “President Vladimir Putin said [in Turkey] Russia was willing to work with whoever is elected in Ukraine’s new presidential runoff, but strongly warned the West on Monday not to try to force its vision of democracy on other nations.”

The article continued: “Putin said countries were welcome to help mediate Ukraine’s crisis, but should not meddle…Some Western countries have issued veiled criticism of Russia for what they contend was meddling in Ukrainian politics… Putin rejected Western accusations, saying Russia acted ‘absolutely correctly’ in disputes throughout the former Soviet Union. He suggested forces in the West were seeking to create new divisions in Europe for their political purposes.”

Russia’s Missiles

AFP reported on December 6, 2004, that “Russia revealed it was fitting its strategic bombers with cruise missiles capable of delivering a massive precision strike thousands of miles away… ‘We have broken the US monopoly on the use of long-range conventional cruise missiles,’ an unnamed senior air force commander told ITAR-TASS. The technology appears to be similar to cruise missiles that the United States has long attached to its own intercontinental bombers…”

The article continued: “Russia has been developing a range of new missiles capable of penetrating US defenses as a result. Generals announced earlier this year the successful tests of a hypersonic intercontinental missile that has no officially-confirmed rival in the United States. Moscow is also believed to be developing a multi-stage intercontinental ballistic missile that uses cruise missile technology to zigzag and avoid being shot down once it re-enters the earth’s atmosphere. Finally Russia announced that it was making its most feared and powerful trans-Atlantic missile mobile within the next two years… ‘These cruise missiles have a range of more than 3,000 kilometers (1,800 miles) and can miss a target by no more than a few meters while carrying a warhead of hundreds of kilotons,’ the source said.”

Earthquake in Germany

On December 5, 2004, Associated Press reported that “An earthquake struck western Germany near the French border early Sunday, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries, officials said. The magnitude 4.9 quake, with an epicenter near the German town of Waldkirch [in the Black Forrest], occurred about 2:52 a.m., France’s national seismological center said.” Bild Online reported on December 5 that the earthquake reached in fact the magnitude of 5.4 on the Richter scale, and that several people were injured.

Second Earthquake in Japan

Following the powerful earthquake with the magnitude of 7.1 that struck Japan last week, another earthquake hit the main island of Hokkaido on December 6, 2004. The quake reached a magnitude of 6.8 or 7.0, according to Bild Online and Der Spiegel Online. When the quake hit last week, it was stated by the Japanese government, according to Der Spiegel Online, that such a strong earthquake “only happens once within 10 years.” How wrong human predictions can be!

Typhoons in The Philippines

We received the following report from a subscriber in The Philippines:

“We appreciate your prayers for the Filipinos especially in Real Quezon that have been directly hit by three consecutive typhoons. The government is doing its part, and many volunteer to help the victims. But your prayers are greatly appreciated.”

Europe and Africa

According to Zenit of December 2, 2004, “Europe has a key role in Africa’s development, even though the Old World seems to have lost its own Christian identity, says Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kisangani, Congo.” He also stated in the interview: “Where is Europe going, legitimizing homosexual marriages? Where is it going, taking steps forward and backward? This already existed in Sodom… Africa needs not only the Europe of material goods but above all the Europe of values, such as work, the sense of research, the price of the eternal value of our life on earth, because when one keeps them in mind, one cannot remain seated.”

Europe and Russia

According to the EUobserver of December 3, 2004, “The European Union is too reliant on gas supplies from Russia, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned. According to the Financial Times, the IEA said that the EU’s energy security is at risk due to a growing dependence on Russian gas supplies piped through politically unstable Ukraine… Russia is the world’s largest gas producer. EU countries buy 40 percent of their gas imports from the former Soviet Union…The IEA’s call for diversification follows confirmation this week that Berlin was actively encouraging German energy companies to invest in the Russian oil sector.”

Italy’s “distant” past?

A recent article posted by discussed the recent appointment of Gianfranco Fini as Italy’s new foreign minister. Adar Primor stated in the article: “Fini, who in 1987 inherited the leadership of the neo-fascist Movimento Sociale Italiano, who in 1992 marched in front of tens of thousands of people, who with a raised-arm salute marked the historic march of Benito Mussolini on Rome, and who in 1994 still considered Il Duce the ‘most important personality of the 20th century’ — that same Fini is now in charge of Italian diplomacy, and the sky isn’t falling. On the contrary. It seems that everyone — both in Europe and in Israel — is reacting positively.”

The article continued: “I met Fini for the first time in the summer of 2002. As someone who kept track of the representatives of the extreme right, the vestiges of Nazism and fascism in Europe, with great interest, I had interviewed Jorg Haider, Jean-Marie Le Pen, Rolf Schlierer (the head of the extreme-right Republikaner Party in Germany) and Gerhard Frei (his colleague-rival, the head of the German People’s Party).”

As the article pointed out, by the time of the described meeting, Fini had turned 180 degrees. “He shook himself free of Mussolini, condemned fascism and anti-Semitism, expressed enthusiastic support for Israel, and primarily, he declared that if he was permitted to come to Jerusalem, he would accept there the responsibility for the crimes of fascism and would ask forgiveness of the Jewish people. The Italian press was very excited. It considered his words ‘a historic turning point,’ ‘the breaking of the taboo that had paralyzed national memory in Italy.’ It compared his declarations to French President Jacques Chirac’s acceptance of responsibility for the crimes of the Vichy regime. The press, like Fini, understood that the way to Jerusalem had been paved. And, in fact, a year later Fini came on an official visit to Israel. At Yad Vashem he once again condemned the horrors of the Holocaust and the ‘disgrace of the 1938 racial laws.’… [At] a press conference that he held later… Fini condemned the Salo Republic – the puppet government established by Hitler in 1943, headed by Mussolini – and defined it as ‘one of the most disgraceful chapters in the history of our nation.’ In reply to a question, he even agreed to call fascism ‘absolute evil.’… The Italian media were beside themselves again. They spoke of a ‘victory for Italian democracy’ and of ‘a final reconciliation between Fini and the Jewish people.’ Alessandra Mussolini [Benito Mussolini’s granddaughter] slammed the door in Fini’s face and left his party in anger. Fini’s path — this time to the ministry of foreign affairs in Rome — had been paved.”

The article concluded with some interesting predictions. It stated, by first quoting Fini: ‘When we first met, I was still considered by some as the enemy of the Jewish people. Two years later, they are already calling me Israel’s best friend in Europe.’ Fini knows that his chances of serving as the prime minister of Italy are greater today than ever before. His way to the Palazzo Chigi looks like clear sailing.”

EU and Britain

AFP reported on December 7 about comments made by Great Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, which might have reached almost prophetic proportions and significance. According to the article, “Britain will be ‘weak and marginalized’ within Europe if it fails to ratify the EU constitution in an expected 2006 referendum, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said.” The article continued:

“‘If we approve this constitution, we will be making our kind of Europe, a Europe in which Britain is strong,’ he told a seminar of lawyers, diplomats and business executives… ‘If we reject it, we will end up with a weak and marginalized Britain in a worse kind of European Union.’.. Opinion polls consistently show the British electorate to be hostile to the EU constitution, a sentiment that the main opposition Conservative Party is keen to exploit… ‘History shows that we have shaped Europe in our interests when Britain has been strong, engaged and influential,’ he said. ‘When we have resorted to a policy of blocking and wrecking, we have lost out.'”

As AFP reported, critics labeled Straw’s speech and comments as “utter nonsense.” However, Straw’s predictions may come much closer to the Biblically prophesied truth, than they realize.

Iraq and Iran

On December 8, 2004, posted the following on their Website: “Insurgents launched assaults around the city of Samarra on Wednesday, trading gunfire with U.S. forces, attacking a convoy, and blowing up a police station after looting its armory. The Pentagon said the number of U.S. combat deaths climbed to 1,001… The military also said a Marine died in a vehicle accident in western Baghdad. The two deaths brought the number of U.S. military who have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003 to 1,278, according to an Associated Press tally.”

The article continued: “The developments in Samarra show that the insurgents still remain a force in a city where American forces launched a large-scale operation several months ago in a bid to end the militants’ control there. The U.S. military hailed its September-October operation to retake control of Samarra as a success, but violence there has persisted. American and Iraqi forces have killed 127 fighters and 20 civilians.”

The article also pointed out the following: “Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Iraq’s interim president, both Sunni Muslims, singled out Shiite Muslim-dominated Iran, accusing it of trying to influence the elections, in which Iraq’s majority Shiites are expected to perform strongly. Abdullah told The Washington Post in an interview published Wednesday that more than 1 million Iranians have entered Iraq, many to vote, and said they were being encouraged by the Iranian government. Iran has said it has no interest in fomenting instability in Iraq and it tries to block any infiltration into Iraq by insurgents – while noting that the borders are hard to police. But Iraq’s interim president, Ghazi al-Yawer, sees things differently. ‘Unfortunately, time is proving, and the situation is proving, beyond any doubt that Iran has very obvious interference in our business,’ al-Yawer told the Washington Post.”

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