Current Events

2005–The Year With the Worst Natural Catastrophes!!!

Bild Online published several articles on October 10, 2005, discussing the most recent natural catastrophes. In one of the articles, it was stated:

“It is scary. Again another terrible killer quake, this time in Pakistan. Again more than 30,000 people died [recent preliminary estimates say that about 40,000 died]. And a mudslide in Guatemala killed 1,400. Does it ever stop? 2005–one catastrophe after the other. Never before did so many people die through natural catastrophes. Never before did our earth see so much suffering all at once. Earthquakes, killer waves, volcanic eruptions, horror storms, and floods. Does nature revenge itself? The earthquake in the region of Kashmir (India, Pakistan)… is the worst in South Asia over the past 100 years…

“2005–the year of catastrophes. At the end of last year and the beginning of the new year, a tsunami in Southeast Asia kills about 300,000 people. New panic about two months later. A severe earthquake hits the East of Indonesia… On March 13, a middle-size earthquake (5.7) in south-eastern Turkey. Four months later: Earthquake alarm in Tokyo…

“May 2005: Fear and trembling in the Saar Territory [in Germany]. A strong temblor (3.4) hits the region. The sky ignites in Germany at the end of July: 104,000 lightning strikes in six hours. A tornado damages houses. At the end of August another ‘one-hundred-year-flood’: Heavy rain, mudslides and floods: Many people die in several European countries (Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Turkey, Rumania). Then the horror storms: Hurricane ‘Katrina’ devastates… Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Almost 1,000 people die. Three weeks later: The levies in New Orleans break again. Hurricane ‘Rita’ strikes. Over two million people evacuate Houston and surrounding areas. Then Hurricane Stan strikes Middle America. Several families die, villages are buried by mud… 2005 is going to be the record year of hurricanes. This year has seen already 18–normally, there are only 10 within a year. And then, there are 16 potential killer volcanoes on earth. Four of them are in Europe.”

In addition, another article stated: “And Now– Will Millions Die Through The Bird Flu?” The article continued: “The bird flu has reached Europe. It is only 1,000 kilometers away from us. In Romania and Turkey, there are already thousands of dead birds… We [in Germany] are sitting on a time bomb… During the last great epidemic in 1918 (the Spanish flu), over 50 million people died. The cause was a bird flu virus, similar to the current one… Early symptoms are fever, coughing, and serious pneumonia.”

Disastrous Earthquake in South Asia

AFP reported on October 8, 2005, that “An earthquake measuring at least 7.6 on the Richter Scale caused massive devastation across a swathe of Pakistan, India and Afghanistan, leaving thousands of people feared dead. [Subsequent reports estimated the death toll in Pakistan alone as exceeding 40,000]. ‘This is the strongest quake in the last 100 years in this region,’ the chief of Pakistan’s meteorological department, Qamar Uzzman, told AFP… At least 14 aftershocks [most recent news reports mentioned more than 140 aftershocks], including one measuring more than 6.0 on the Richter scale, rattled Islamabad in the hours after the quake… Many mosques started reciting special prayers… Men spontaneously started reading aloud verses from the Muslim holy book, the Koran, and women beat their chests in a display of bereavement.” Bild Online reported on October 11, 2005, that the first cases of Malaria surfaced in Kashmir.

Der Spiegel Online added that a similar earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 on the Richter Scale occurred in the region on May 31, 1935, killing 60,000 people.

Tropical Storm “Stan” Devastates Central America

AFP reported on October 8, 2005, that “Devastating Tropical Storm Stan has killed at least 278 people in Central America and Mexico after lashing the region for days with relentless rain, authorities said. Officials feared the toll could rise as emergency workers tried to reach communities cut off by flooded rivers or swept away by massive mudslides. The death toll in hardest-hit Guatemala surged to 176 Friday… The storm has also killed 67 in El Salvador, 11 in Nicaragua and 24 in Mexico… Tens of thousands were left homeless across the region… “

The article continued:

“In El Salvador… the trauma of the storm was magnified by an earthquake measuring 6.2 on the open-ended Richter scale that hit Friday at 1743 GMT. The quake’s epicenter was 55 kilometers (35 miles) south of El Salvador’s coast in the Pacific Ocean… On October 1, El Salvador’s largest volcano erupted for the first time in a century, killing at least two and forcing more than 2,000 to flee. The Panamerican Highway leading to the capital of San Salvador was cut off by mudslides, as were several other roads.”

AFP summarized the most recent devastations through hurricanes, as follows:

“The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30, has been one of the deadliest and most active on record. Stan was the 10th Atlantic hurricane this year. Hurricane Katrina, which slammed the US Gulf of Mexico coast August 29, ravaged New Orleans and coastal areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, killing more than 1,200 people and becoming the deadliest storm to hit the United States since 1928.”

Floods in Eastern U.S.

The Associated Press reported on October 10, 2005, that “Prolonged, heavy rain caused flooding from North Carolina to New Hampshire over the weekend, forcing hundreds of people to evacuate, knocking out electricity, weakening dams and making roads impassable… Gov. John Lynch [of New Hampshire]… declared a state of emergency and called in 500 National Guard members for assistance. ‘This is the worst damage they’ve seen from flooding in 25 years in New Hampshire,’ the governor said Sunday night.”

America Ill Prepared for Bird Flu

AFP reported on October 8, 2005, that “A draft of the Bush administration’s final plan for dealing with a likely Pandemic flu outbreak shows the United States is woefully unprepared for the potential disaster, The New York Times reported on Saturday. The document says a large outbreak that began in Asia would be likely to reach the United States within ‘a few months or even weeks,’ and that more than 1.9 million people could die in the worst case scenario, the Times said. If that occurred, according to the draft, hospitals would be overwhelmed, riots would engulf vaccination clinics and power and food would be in short supply, it said… The H5N1 avian influenza virus has killed millions of birds across Asia and infected 116 people, killing 60 of them. If it acquires the ability to pass easily from person to person, it could kill millions in the space of a few months, experts say.”

According to press releases by Der Spiegel and Bild Online, Rumania and Turkey quarantined large areas where hundreds of birds died, apparently because of the bird flu, including chicken, swans, ducks, geese and turkeys.

Earthquakes in Central California

The Associated Press reported on October 8, 2005, that “An earthquake shook central California early Saturday about five miles northeast of San Simeon, home to Hearst Castle. The magnitude-4.2 temblor hit at 5:17 a.m., according to a preliminary report from the U.S. Geological Survey… The temblor came after a magnitude-4.4 quake hit the area Oct. 2. San Simeon is located about 200 miles northwest of Los Angeles.”

Living In the End Times

WorldNetDaily reported on October 9, 2005, that “this weekend’s catastrophic earthquake in South Asia in the wake of recent U.S. hurricanes and December’s tsunami is catching the eye of televangelist Pat Robertson, who says we ‘might be’ in the End Times described in the Bible. ‘These things are starting to hit with amazing regularity,’ Robertson said on CNN’s ‘Late Edition.’ Robertson, a former GOP presidential candidate and host of the ‘700 Club’ daily Christian TV show noted, ‘If you read back in the Bible, the letter of the apostle Paul to the church of [Thessalonica], he said that in the latter days before the end of the age that the Earth would be caught up in what he called the birth pangs of a new order… What was called the blessed hope of the Bible is that one day Jesus Christ would come back again, start a whole new era, that this world order that we know would change into something that would be wonderful that we’d call the millennium… And before that good time comes there will be some difficult days and [these] will be likened to what a woman goes through in labor just before she brings forth a child.'”

The article continued: “Robertson isn’t the only one raising the End Times issue, as author and WorldNetDaily columnist Hal Lindsey has weighed in on the issue. ‘It seems clear that the prophetic times I have been expecting for decades have finally arrived. And even worse, it appears that the judgment of America has begun,’ Lindsey said on the Sept. 9 broadcast of the ‘International Intelligence Briefing’ on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. ‘I warn continually that the last days lineup of world powers does not include anything resembling the United States of America. Instead, a REVIVED ROMAN EMPIRE IN EUROPE is to rule the West, and then the world. ‘”

Starve Or Freeze?

The Associated Press reported on October 12, 2005, that “Winter heating bills will be a third to a half higher for most families across the country, with the sharpest increases expected for those who heat with natural gas, the Energy Department forecast Wednesday. The department said natural gas users can expect to pay an average of $350 more during the upcoming winter compared to last year, an increase of 48 percent. Those who heat their homes with fuel oil will pay $378 more, or 32 percent higher than last winter… ‘Should colder weather prevail, expenditures will be significantly higher,’ the EIA [Energy Information Administration] said… For some low-income families the sharp jumps could mean choosing whether TO EAT OR KEEP WARM, energy experts and advocacy groups fear.

“The natural gas utilities warned Tuesday that despite their attempts to contain retail fuel costs, heating bills for gas users this winter will jump 50 percent over last season nationwide. In parts of the Midwest bills could be much higher. More than half of all U.S. households heat with natural gas. But many of those who rely on electric heat, nearly a third of the country, may also see bills go up because many power plants run on natural gas. And users of fuel oil, more than half the households in New England, are expected to see their costs jump by a third or more over last winter, according to industry and government estimates… [The] National Energy Assistance Directors Association, which represents the state agencies that distribute money to help low-income families pay their fuel bills [commented that this] winter… [there will be more] than a million additional applicants for the government program, a 20 percent increase over last year, with NOT ENOUGH MONEY TO GO AROUND.”

The fact that poor citizens of the most prosperous country in the world may either have to go without food or heat this winter is a crying shame and a terrible testimony of the state of affairs of the United States of America.

Did God Order President Bush to Invade Iraq?

AFP reported on October 8, 2005, that “The White House has denied that US President George W. Bush said God told him to invade Iraq and Afghanistan, as a new BBC documentary is expected to reveal. ‘That’s absurd. He’s never made such comments,’ White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Thursday. The documentary series set to be broadcast later this month in Britain claims Bush made the claim when he met Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas and then-foreign minister Nabil Shaath in June 2003. He also told them he had been ordered by God to create a Palestinian state, the ministers said. Shaath, now the Palestinian information minister, said: ‘President Bush said to all of us: “I’m driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, ‘George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.’ And I did. And then God would tell me, ‘George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq… ‘ And I did. And now, again, I feel God’s words coming to me, ‘Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East’. And… I’m gonna do it.”‘

“Abbas, who was also at the meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm al-Sheikh, recalled how the president told him: ‘I have a moral and religious obligation. So I will get you a Palestinian state.'”

President Bush Under Attack

Der Spiegel Online reported on October 8, 2005, that “The US Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted to outlaw the abuse of military prisoners in American custody. The move is being seen as a slap in the face to a President Bush who is retreating on all fronts. It’s the ‘biggest defensive battle’ of his career…

“Although the Bush Administration opposed the motion, arguing that it was unnecessary and would interfere with interrogation procedures, the Republican-dominated US Senate backed the bill by a vote of 90-9. This astonishing move, effectively a revolt against Bush by his own party, is being seen by many in Europe as just comeuppance for a president who the old continent feels has been guilty of astounding hubris [excessive pride, arrogance or self-confidence]. Bush’s leadership qualities, once his strongest suit, have been called into question by the disorganized relief effort following Katrina. And with every casualty in Iraq, the president’s popularity drops further still. Even the right-wing of the party — some of his most vociferous supporters during his first term — are disappointed with him, with Bush this week nominating dark horse, and possibly even moderate, Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. Are German commentators worried for Bush? Hardly. They couldn’t be happier.”

Merkel Germany’s New Chancellor?

AFP reported on October 10, 2005, that “German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has relinquished his seven-year grip on power to open the way for his conservative arch-rival Angela Merkel to become the first female leader of Europe’s biggest economy. Merkel will lead a coalition government of her Christian Democrats and his Social Democrats, an alliance last seen in the 1960s, tasked with reviving the country’s battered economy. In separate meetings Monday, the SPD and CDU leaderships approved the deal for a left-right administration.”

The Associated Press added: “Parliament must convene by Oct. 18 but is not obliged to vote immediately on a new chancellor if coalition talks are still ongoing.” According to Bild Online, dated October 11, 2005, the earliest date for a parliamentary vote on a new chancellor is November 17, if both parties (SPD and CDU) adopt the coalition contract on November 14. If Angela Merkel receives the absolute majority (i.e., 308 votes–CDU and SPD have 448 votes), she will be chancellor. Failing this, the parliamentary election process will have to be repeated once or twice, until a simple majority has been reached.

The German press reported that Merkel’s CDU (in coalition with Stoiber’s CSU) would occupy six ministerial posts, while the SPD, in exchange for their approval of Merkel as chancellor, would receive eight ministerial posts. German TV reported that Schroeder declined a ministerial post in the new government, reiterating his position that it would be impossible for him to serve under Merkel–following a step taken by Germany’s Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer, a few days ago.

Some officials within the SPD, as well as the FDP, have stated their disagreement with the decision and announced that they will not vote for or support Angela Merkel as chancellor. And nobody expects that the remaining two parties represented in the German Parliament, the left-winged PDS and the Greens, will support or vote for Angela Merkel.

Guido Westerwelle, leader of the FDP–the strongest opposition party–commented that “nothing good will come out of the grand coalition” (Bild Online, October 11, 2005).

Former German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher (FDP), who was highly instrumental in bringing about Germany’s re-unification, had warned against a grand coalition between SPD and CDU. He had stated in an interview, according to an article by Deutsche Welle of October 5, that “A grand coalition always means a two-way blockade culminating in wrong decisions. Today when people talk about how federalism reform is necessary, it’s actually the call to finally undo what the grand coalition of 1966-1969 did wrong. That does not inspire confidence.”

Some observers agree with Mr. Genscher’s assessment of the grand coalition of 1966-1969, but hope that we will see better results this time. However, they might be disappointed. The grand coalition of 1966-1969 was responsible for many unpopular decisions, including adopting the controversial “Notstandsgesetze” (“emergency laws”), the military draft, and laws restricting personal liberties and freedoms. Because of little opposition within the German Parliament, an extra-parliamentary opposition (“APO”) came into being, mainly carried by students, leading to civil unrest in the country. If something like this happens again, we might witness a loud outcry from the German people and their demand for a stable and effective leadership (“der starke MANN muss her” –“the strong MAN must come”).

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