Current Events

Bad Weather in California

The Associated Press reported on Sunday, January 9, and Tuesday, January 11, 2005, about unprecedented bad weather conditions in California. The articles pointed out:

“Areas of the Sierra Nevada, famous for paralyzing amounts of snowfall, have been hit with a dumping like they haven’t seen in generations, with steep drifts stranding an Amtrak train, knocking out the Reno airport and shutting down major highways across the mountains… Storms also have caused flooding in Southern California and Arizona, deadly avalanches in Utah and ice damage and flooding in the Ohio Valley… Rain lashed water-logged Southern California again Tuesday, hampering efforts to find survivors buried by a mud slide in a coastal community and prompting hundreds to flee a mountain town before a rain-swollen lake spills over a dam. The succession of storms that have brought heavy snow to the mountains of Northern California and astonishing amounts of rain to the south was blamed for the deaths of at least 12 people. The National Weather Service said Tuesday that downtown Los Angeles had recorded its wettest 15 consecutive days on record, with a total of 17 inches of rain falling in the period ending Monday… In La Conchita, a small community on a spit of land between the hills south of Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean, a massive mudslide Monday killed three people [later upgraded to ten], injured eight and left 21 unaccounted for.”

Bad Weather in Europe

As ABCNews reported on January 9, 2005, “Eight people have been killed, more than 1,000 homes flooded and almost 200,000 others left without power as violent storms swept through northern Europe, bringing hurricane force winds and violent rain. Denmark, southern Sweden and the British Isles bore the brunt of the conditions, with 100 people forced to spend the night on a ferry after it ran aground in south-west Scotland.”

The Scotsman reported on Wednesday, January 12, 2005: “Two people were dead and 60,000 homes without power last night as hurricane-force winds caused chaos throughout large parts of Scotland, bringing destruction across the country. Wind speeds of 124mph were recorded in the Western Isles as the most damaging storms for more than a decade swept in from the Atlantic.”

EU’s Trade Partners

The EUobserver reported on January 10, 2005, that the “EU has leap-frogged the US and Japan to become China’s biggest trade partner, according to Chinese media… In the year up to November, trade volumes between the EU and China reached 159.3 billion dollars — up 34.7 percent on the same period in 2003. The UK, the Netherlands, France, Germany and Italy are the main trading partners…, accounting for 72 percent of Europe’s trade with Beijing.”

AFP reported on January 11, 2005, that “The European Union (EU) is to resume talks with Iran on a trade and cooperation accord this week, following Tehran’s suspension of uranium enrichment activities, the European Commission said.”

EU’s Military

While the EU becomes more and more an economic power bloc, it is still lagging far behind the United States in its military development. That, at least, is the opinion of Nicholas Burns, Washington’s ambassador to the Alliance. According to an article, published by the EUobserver on January 10, 2005, “Mr Burns said that while the US spends 420bn dollars per year on defence, the rest of the NATO members combined (24 European countries plus Canada) spend less than half that amount. The Ambassador said the gap is ‘worrisome’ but reserved praise for some countries such as the UK, France, Norway and Denmark for their defence spending and capabilities and the Czech Republic for specialising in biological and chemical decontamination… Calling it ‘our biggest problem’, Mr Burns also criticised European countries for having large reserves of troops but with such a small percentage that are actually deployable. Only 3-5% of European forces can be ‘deployed beyond European national borders.’ This contrasts with up to 75% on the US side. ‘This is truly a problem of a huge dimension that Europe must grapple with’, said the ambassador.”

These interesting comments show that Europe has not yet reached the point where it can be considered as superior or even equal to American military forces. However, the Bible prophesies that it will reach that point in time. It is perhaps ironic that the United States is pushing Europe to spend more and more money for an effective military, which, once established, will ultimately be used AGAINST the United States, as Biblical prophecy clearly reveals. For more information, please read our free booklets, “Europe in Prophecy,” and “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.”

Islamic Extremists in Europe

The Associated Press reported on Saturday, January 8, 2005, that “Islamic extremists accused of plotting to kill Iraq’s prime minister in Germany are smuggling battle-hardened fighters from Iraq to Europe, raising a potential new terrorist threat on the continent, according to German officials.” The article continued: “About 100 Ansar al-Islam supporters are in Germany alone, officials say. Mullah Krekar, the group’s spiritual head, has lived for years as a refugee in Norway, and investigators believe that the group has also recruited volunteers in Italy and Britain. Estimates of its total membership range between about 500 and 1,000.”

The Associated Press reported on January 12, 2005, that “Police arrested 14 people during raids of apartments and mosques in five German states Wednesday in a crackdown on an Islamic extremist organization suspected of aiding terrorists, authorities said… The suspects are alleged to have raised money through smuggling and producing false papers to ‘pursue their ideological goals,’ the prosecutor’s office said in a statement. They ‘equipped people with false documents, making possible illegal residency in the country and outside, and supported other like-minded groups,’ the statement said. ‘In addition, they are accused of spreading their beliefs in racial hatred and recruiting people for “jihad”,’ the statement said, using an Islamic word often interpreted as meaning ‘holy war.'”

Election of Palestinian Authority President

The Associated Press reported on Monday, January 10, 2005, about world leaders’ reactions to “the election of Mahmoud Abbas as Palestinian Authority president, saying it showed Palestinians want to reform their government and find a negotiated solution with Israel.”

The article stated in particular (emphasis added): “German Chancellor Gerhard SCHROEDER said his country and other European nations would do everything possible to help Abbas create an ‘independent, viable and democratic’ Palestinian state. ‘I trust that the Palestinian people will follow the path you have chosen of renouncing violence and carrying out comprehensive reforms,’ Schroeder wrote in a telegram to Abbas, whom he invited to visit Germany. Russian President Vladimir PUTIN also sent a message to the Palestinian leader, looking forward to cooperation on achieving ‘a just Palestinian-Israeli settlement on the basis of the “road map” (peace plan) and resolutions of the UN Security Council’… President BUSH said he would welcome Abbas to the White House, extending an invitation he refused to offer to the late Yasser Arafat… Abbas, who has spoken out against violence, is widely seen as a pragmatist committed to resuming peace talks with Israel, although he faces the TOUGH TASK of reining in POWERFUL ARMED groups.

“British Foreign Secretary Jack STRAW congratulated Abbas after the landslide victory in the vote to replace Arafat… ‘The challenge now is for the new president to use his mandate to lay the foundations for a new Palestinian state,’ [he said]… European Commission President Jose Manuel BARROSO said the election of the pragmatic Palestinian ‘adds to the credibility of the peace process.’… Austria’s foreign minister, Ursula PLASSNIK, called Abbas’ election ‘an encouraging step toward peace’ in the Middle East.’ … ‘Japan will work actively to support the Palestinian Authority’s efforts at peace,’ Prime Minister Junichiro KOIZUMI said… Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong QUAN said Monday that… ‘China is happy about the smooth election. We accept the choice made by the Palestinian people and sincerely hope that the newly elected leader will lead the Palestinian people to the early achievement of their goal of establishing their own state,’ he said.”

World leaders express their hope for peace in the Middle East, coupled with the idea of a Palestinian state. One hotly debated issue is whether the city of Jerusalem will have to belong to that new Palestinian state — a Palestinian demand which is totally unacceptable to Israel. The Bible prophesies that there will be no permanent peace in that part of the world, until Jesus Christ returns.

As if to confirm the foregoing observation, Reuters reported on January 12, 2005: “Palestinian militants killed a Jewish settler and wounded three soldiers in a Gaza ambush on Wednesday, challenging new Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’s quest for a cease-fire to help him talk peace with Israel… Wednesday’s killings threatened a relapse into what has been an intractable cycle of violence that, unless quickly checked, could stall fresh internationally backed momentum toward Middle East peace negotiations, frozen since 2000.” The AFP added: “Four Palestinian militants and an Israeli settler were killed in a rash of violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, puncturing the optimism that has greeted the election of a new Palestinian leader.”

Japan’s Missile Defense reported on January 9, 2005, that “Japan has decided to use its missile defense system solely to intercept ballistic missiles targeting Japan, not missiles that pass over Japan and target other countries including the United States… The government has decided to limit the scope of interception by the missile defense system, to be deployed in fiscal 2007, because intercepting missiles that are targeted at other countries would be construed as collective self-defense [which would be prohibited by the Japanese Constitution]… Political analysts say, however, that Japan will likely be hard-pressed by the United States, which is expected to show discontent over the decision.”

The United States and Germany

The Houston Chronicle reported on its Webpage on January 8, 2005, that “The United States and Germany view the world in vastly different ways, but a February meeting between President Bush and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is expected to bolster a trans-Atlantic relationship strained by the Iraq war.”

The article continued:

“The get-together is not expected to resolve divisions over Iraq, environmental protection and the U.S. refusal to join the International Criminal Court, which prosecutes war crimes. But diplomats and analysts say the meeting is a signal that Washington and Berlin remain partners in a world of terrorism and changing strategic alliances… Berlin’s strong opposition to the war and its insistence not to commit troops to Iraq have agitated a Bush administration desperate to strengthen coalition forces in a show of international solidarity… European analysts say Bush needs to re-engage the continent at a time when the European Union is expanding and Moscow is feeling isolated. But German media are wondering what Schroeder can expect from talks with a U.S. president who largely ignores Europe and acts unilaterally…

“Bush and Schroeder are not political soul mates; their relationship is one of forced congeniality. Officials in their administrations haven’t helped much. A Schroeder official once compared Bush to Adolf Hitler, and U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld referred to Germany as old Europe… Despite differences with Washington, Germany remains wary of aspirations by Paris to counterbalance the United States with a stronger European partnership. Yet Schroeder has broadened his international endeavors and in recent months simultaneously courted Washington and Moscow. The German media reported that the chancellor, perhaps in a gamble that could hurt him with the United States, was strengthening ties with Putin.

“Schroeder’s re-election in 2002 was mainly attributed to his opposition to the Iraq war. Many Germans now want reconciliation over Iraq and improved relations with America… Bush faces his own domestic pressures. Some conservative supporters of the president want to continue punishing Germany over Iraq. This comes as the United States is closing military bases in Germany and moving them east — an indication that Western Europe is less strategically important for fighting the global threats that arose after the Cold War. Germans also are concerned that U.S. foreign policy may veer more isolationist once Condoleezza Rice replaces Colin L. Powell as secretary of state.”

International Governmental Help for Asia

Bloomberg News Special Report published on January 6, 2005, “a list of aid pledged by governments as of 6 p.m. Hong Kong time today to countries affected by the Dec. 26 Asian earthquake and tsunami, which left more than 155,000 people dead or missing. The information is drawn primarily from foreign ministry Web sites and official news agencies. Israel, Luxembourg and Pakistan didn’t announce the value of aid they’re providing in the form of supplies and human resources. Donations by companies and individuals aren’t included.”

The published list is set forth below. When studying the same, it is amazing that Germany and Japan have pledged the highest amounts — exceeding, as of January 6, the U.S. pledge by $338 million and $150 million, respectively. It is also noteworthy that the governments of rich Arab nations have pledged, in comparison, little or nothing, although many of the people who died in Asia were Muslim.

Country/Entity Pledged Amount

Germany $688 million
Japan $500 million
U.S. $350 million
Norway $164 million
U.K. $94 million
Italy $93 million
Canada $93 million**
Sweden $75 million
Denmark $75 million
Spain $66 million
France $65 million
China $60 million
South Korea $50 million
Taiwan $50 million
Australia $46 million***
EU $41 million
Netherlands $36 million
Saudi Arabia $30 million
Switzerland $23 million
U.A.E $20 million
Belgium $16 million
Singapore $15 million
Ireland $13 million
Portugal $11 million
Kuwait $10 million
Czech Republic $9.4 million
Luxembourg $6.6 million
New Zealand $7 million
Finland $6 million
Greece $4 million
Hong Kong $4 million
Turkey $1.3 million
Hungary $1.2 million
Vietnam $450,000
Poland $323,000
Latvia $190,150
North Korea $150,000
Lithuania $134,080
Estonia $42,325

**Includes donations from the provinces of British Columbia and Ontario.

***Australia will provide Indonesia with a further A$1 billion ($765 million) in grants and loans over five years, Prime Minister John Howard said today.

Spectacular Crime Unsettles Northern Ireland

On January 7, 2005, The Daily Telegraph reported that “The Provisional IRA is ‘responsible’ for the £26.5 million Ulster bank raid.” That crime was committed at the Northern Bank in Belfast last month. It has been described as a “violent and brutal crime which has national and international implications… with victims suffering from trauma. Families of staff were kidnapped and abandoned in the run-up to the raid.” The amount taken during the raid was £26.5 million.

The newspaper reported that “the Northern Bank intends to replace its entire current series of notes in a bid to thwart the gang in the ‘largest theft ever of waste paper’. Don Price, chief executive, ordered the unprecedented move which it is understood will involve the withdrawal of up to £300 million in paper currency after talks with police chiefs. All existing £10, £20, £50 and £100 notes will be replaced with new ones, a process which will cost £5 million. It will take eight weeks before the new notes are in circulation. A statement confirmed: ‘All new notes will be of the same design as the old ones, but will be printed in a different colour, feature a new Northern Bank logo and bear new prefixes to their serial numbers.’ More than half of the missing millions included brand-new notes which could be detected immediately, but the drastic decision to carry out a total re-issue is aimed at preventing used notes filtering into the Northern Ireland economy.”

These drastic actions might ensure that, in this case, the particular crime will not pay — but at what price will this be accomplished! Only when the Kingdom of God is established here on this earth, can we truly say that there won’t be a successful future for criminals and their crimes.

China’s Population Explosion

The Associated Press reported on January 7 about China’s dilemma with its population explosion. The article introduced this dilemma, as follows:

“Greeted by national television coverage of his first bath, a boy born Thursday was declared China’s 1.3 billionth citizen in a blaze of publicity to promote the government’s controversial ‘one child’ birth limits.” The article continued:

“The government says that without the policy, China would have at least 200 million more mouths to feed, straining farm, water and other resources. But critics say the plan has led to forced abortions and other abuses. Foreign experts say China’s true population could be hundreds of millions above 1.3 billion because many rural families have unreported children. The one-child limit is also frequently ignored by urban couples who can afford the fines or are desperate for a son to carry on the family name and care for them in old age. Couples who have unsanctioned children can face heavy fines, the loss of jobs and forced sterilization. But government spokesmen deny that women are coerced into having abortions, saying forced abortions aren’t sanctioned and officials who carry them out can be punished.”

China’s Growing Navy

The International Harald Tribune published an article on December 31, 2004, stating that “China’s Growing Navy Worries [the] U.S.” The article pointed out:

“Ever since the U.S. Marine Corps defeated Japanese forces here 60 years ago, the Marianas have been widely considered an American lake. Now, the United States may have to get used to sharing the western Pacific with China, the world’s rising naval power. According to military analysts, China is rapidly expanding its [navy]. ‘China is embarking on a $10 billion submarine acquisition and upgrade program and is buying destroyers and frigates and equipping them with modern antiship cruise missiles.’… The rise of China’s navy is watched with apprehension in the Pacific, where, down through the centuries, the islands have long been playthings for the world’s maritime powers: Spanish, American, British, French, German and Japanese.”

The article concluded: “‘The Chinese influence in the Pacific islands will be very, very big, bigger than Japan’s today,’ Hiroshi Nakajima, executive director of the Pacific Society, an academic group, predicted in a recent interview here. Eventually, Nakajima said, ‘Chinese interests and the American interest will clash.'”

Mexico Advises How to Illegally Enter the USA

The following incredible report was published by and reprinted by WorldNetDaily on January 2, 2005:

“The government of Mexico is raising eyebrows with a new comic book offering advice on how to cross the border into the U.S. illegally. Called ‘The Guide for the Mexican Migrant,’ the 32-page book published by Mexico’s Foreign Ministry uses simple language to offer information on safety, legal rights and living unobtrusively in America…. Illustrations depict illegal wading into a river, trying to evade U.S. Border Patrol and crouching near a hole in a border fence. Immigrants are also shown hiking through the desert with rock formations similar to those in Arizona and being caught by an American agent…. The Mexican consul general of Phoenix, Carlos Flores Vizcarra, said the reality is many migrants will try to cross the border illegally, and the book appears to be a means of protection.”


As AFP reported on January 12, 2005, “Public support [in Great Britain] for the war in Iraq has fallen to a record low, with only 29 percent of Britons believing that it was the right thing to do… For the first time, more supporters of the governing Labour Party think that the war was the wrong thing to do, by 44 percent to 37 percent… The survey also found that women are more hostile to the war than men while men are more concerned than women that elections should go ahead.”

In a related article, AFP stated on January 12, 2005, that “Iraqi leaders acknowledged that parts of the country remain too dangerous to conduct the election, while the US military has reportedly ended a long and fruitless hunt for weapons of mass destruction… As the clock ticked down to polling day on January 30, fears of internal Iraqi political strife mounted, as a top Shiite party vowed to cleanse the security forces of ex-Baathists and Allawi’s Iraqi National Accord party cried foul over the alleged use of religion by Shiite political candidates.”

Prince Harry’s Bad Taste

The Associated Press reported on January 13, 2005, that “Jewish groups and lawmakers criticized Prince Harry on Thursday for wearing a Nazi uniform to a costume party, with one group urging him to visit the Auschwitz death camp, despite an apology from the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II. The 20-year-old prince apologized Wednesday in a statement after a British newspaper printed a picture of him wearing the uniform with a swastika armband while clutching a cigarette and a drink at a party on Saturday… The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles expressed outrage and urged Prince Harry to travel to Poland later this month to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp… The queen will commemorate the Holocaust and 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by inviting survivors of the Nazi death camps and British World War II veterans who liberated them to a reception at St. James’ Palace… A former Buckingham Palace spokesman said he believed Prince Charles was too easy on his sons. ‘I’m sorry, the Prince of Wales, he’s a humanitarian and he does some terrific work, but I don’t think he has … the right discipline over his children, particularly Prince Harry,’ Dickie Arbiter told Sky News TV.”

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