Current Events

A New Germany?

Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 5:

“On Tuesday night, one second after Germany lost 2-0 to Italy, it was as if someone had pulled the plug on Germany’s World Cup party. As the flag-waving subsides, politicians and media are urging Germans to stay confident and proud after a month-long display of patriotism which startled the world and the nation itself. The cheers, the cries of ‘Deutschland, Deutschland,’ the honking of horns, the whole wall of sound that has echoed around cities since June 9 ended within a second of the final whistle. In the country’s biggest public viewing area, the Fan Fest behind the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, 900,000 fans fell silent and drifted home with their flags stuffed in their pockets and tears smudging the national colors of black, red and gold painted onto their faces… On Wednesday morning, every other car still had a German flag on it. The big question now is whether the upbeat mood and outpouring of patriotism in recent weeks, the flag waving, the fervent singing of the national anthem, marked a genuine revival in national pride or was just a short-lived summer carnival…

“The World Cup hasn’t changed the fact that Germany remains weighed down by mass unemployment, slow economic growth, high public debt and a social welfare system struggling to cope with an ageing population and surging costs. Chancellor Angela Merkel went as far as to call the country an ‘economic basket case’ two weeks ago… President Horst Köhler said Germans should stay upbeat even after the World Cup. ‘We can achieve a lot if we have the courage to try new things,’ said Köhler. ‘We should remember that after the World Cup. The Germans are identifying themselves with their country and its national colors. I think that’s great. And I think it’s great that I’m not the only one with a flag on my car,’ added Köhler…”

On July 4, Der Spiegel Online reported:

“Like so many ageing Western societies, Germany has struggled with surging healthcare costs in recent years. But instead of coming up with a grand reform to the healthcare system, the government in Berlin has agreed to a sickly compromise… The ideological differences between the conservatives (CDU/CSU) and the SPD left the coalition unable to deal with the question of what to do with Germany’s private health insurers… In the end, Germany gets a half-baked compromise that is loathed by an insurance lobby… It also raises the important question of whether Merkel’s grand coalition really has the courage to initiate the tough reforms Germany requires.”

The mass tabloid Bild was less concerned with finding “diplomatic” words for its criticism. It wrote on July 4:

“They (the Grand Coalition) have once again broken their word. Only two weeks after the greatest tax increase of all times, the Grand Coalition grabs into our pockets once again… They broke another promise–and this is not the first time.”

In its accompanying commentary, Bild Online wrote: “The citizens ask: Why can’t the Grand Coalition accomplish anything?… The so-called health-care reform is… a political declaration of bankruptcy.” On July 3, Der Stern Online referred to the “health care reform” as “der grosse Murks” (loosely translated as, “the big chaos”), adding that the German government is losing its credibility.

Bild Online also reported on July 4 that SPD’s party-chief Peter Struck accused Coalition Partner and Chancellor Angela Merkel of breaking her word. He had publicly commented previously, on June 26, 2006, that Gerhard Schroeder would be a better chancellor than Angela Merkel.

As can be expected, not much, if anything, is reported in the American press about this ongoing controversy in the German Grand Coalition. This is perhaps due to a lack of foresight and appreciation regarding the significance of the events in Germany. However, the indications are that the current German government won’t survive for long. The ideological differences are too great, and the will to compromise too appalling. Coupled with a perception that the ruling parties are incompetent to govern, the German citizens are becoming increasingly frustrated with “their” leadership. The new-found wave of patriotism, in the wake of the World Cup, might contribute to a conviction that Germany deserves much better!

In order to understand what IS prophesied for Germany’s future, please read our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy.”

Flag-Waving in the USA

The Associated Press reported on July 4:

“It’s a true epidemic: the red, white and blue, stars-and-stripes banners are everywhere in the United States–on house facades, front lawns, cars and clothes. Hitting an high point on the July 4 US Independence Day holiday, it is a genuine phenomenon of American national pride that, inevitably, gets a good but also sometimes unwanted boost from commercial exploitation. ‘It’s a little strange, this obsession of the flag,’ French author Bernard-Henri Levy wrote after traveling across the country… But the phenomenon hits its peak each year around the Fourth of July, when it becomes the focus of intense advertising and commercial promotions. At shopping malls, big and small national banners show up on jeans, baseball caps, dinner plates and swimsuits. The Stars and Stripes decorate everything — from tattoos and fingernails to huge cakes…

“An official federal government code sets very specific rules on how the US flag should be handled. The national banner cannot be thrown on the ground, hung upside down, torn or allowed to become dirty. It must be illuminated in nighttime and, the code says, cannot be used as a prop for advertising activities. However, there is no sanction for violating these rules. The Supreme Court ruled in 1989 that freedom of expression guaranteed by the US constitution includes the right to burn the flag, an act frequently observed during protests against the Vietnam War. Last week, the US Senate barely rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that could have led to criminal penalties for desecrating of the flag.”

South American Trade Bloc vs. USA

The Associated Press reported on July 5:

“President Hugo Chavez marked Venezuela’s entry into the South American trade bloc Mercosur with a six-nation summit Tuesday, an alliance that he says should be a common front against U.S. free trade deals. Chavez and the leaders of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay formalized the bloc’s expansion to include Venezuela, which Chavez claims as a victory against Washington’s ‘imperialistic’ economic plans for the hemisphere. Bolivian President Evo Morales, a close Chavez ally, was to attend the signing ceremony as an observer. ‘We are defeating the hegemonic pretensions’ of the United States ‘and today we have placed a new cornerstone for the freedom and unity of South America,’ Chavez said to a rousing applause in a packed Caracas auditorium following the signing ceremony.”

North Korea A Real Danger?

Der Spiegel Online reported on July 5:

“Despite repeated warnings from the international community, North Korea has test-fired at least six missiles. The missiles were launched on Wednesday morning at 3:30 a.m. local time and included a long-range Taepodong-2 missile, which is thought to be capable of reaching the United States. Due to the time difference — North Korea is located on the other side of the international dateline — the launch symbolically took place on July 4th, America’s independence day, a day generally associated with less nefarious fireworks. According to US officials, the Taepodong missile failed just 42 seconds after take-off, while the others fell into the Sea of Japan. Washington and Seoul have both criticized the tests, calling them ‘provocative,’ while Japan has demanded an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council.”

The Associated Press added:

“North Korea test-fired a seventh missile Wednesday, intensifying the furor that began when the reclusive regime defied international protests by launching a long-range missile and at least five shorter-range rockets earlier in the day. The North’s state-run media said Wednesday that the country was prepared to cope with any provocation by the United States… China, North Korea’s neighbor and most important ally, urged all parties to remain calm.”

The Hostage War

On July 3, Der Spiegel Online wrote:

“The kidnapping of an Israeli soldier shows that radicals within Hamas want to harm the pragmatists around Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. Now Israel is trying to destroy the Islamists’ infrastructure — in the face of massive international criticism… The hostage affair has given Israel a welcome provocation to destroy the infrastructure for militants who have been firing Qassam rockets at the small Israeli town of Sderot ever since Jewish settlers left the Gaza Strip. This end justifies any means, in Prime Minister Olmert’s opinion. ‘The world is fed up with the Palestinians,’ he railed at a meeting of Israel’s Security Cabinet. According to Olmert, the entire Palestinian political leadership — including President Abbas — is responsible for the kidnapping… There’s one thing the Israeli action has accomplished: Factions within Hamas have put aside their differences, and for now moderates are working in solidarity with hardliners again.”

The Middle East Quartet a Failure–and Gaza a “Hell Hole”?

Der Spiegel Online reported on July 4:

“The ultimatum issued by Palestinian militants to the Israelis for the release of prisoners in exchange for a captured Israeli soldier has not been met. Pessimism is growing about the prospects for a diplomatic resolution…

“The left-wing ‘Die Tageszeitung’ is pessimistic about the chances for an international resolution of the current crisis. The Middle East Quartet — the United States, EU, Russia and the United Nations — had described itself as the ‘guardians of the peace process,’ presenting the quartet members as ‘honest brokers between the Israelis and the Palestinians.’ However, the current crisis makes clear the extent to which the Quartet has failed. The paper points out a number of reasons for this failure: firstly, its ‘partiality.’ Over the past three weeks the Quartet ‘held its tongue as 20 civilians died as a result of constant Israeli pounding of the Gaza Strip. It was only with the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier that it suddenly lifted a finger.’ The Quartet should also have ‘been working over the past year and a half to transform the unilateral cease fire by Hamas into a bilateral one.’ The paper continues: ‘The decision to boycott the Hamas government now seems to be a failure too.’ As a result, Americans and Europeans have no access to the right people. According to the newspaper, ‘the Quartet now has to put pressure on Presidential president Mahmoud Abbas, who has to pass this on to the Hamas government, which then has to put the militant groups under pressure.’ It points out that ‘without diplomatic channels, there is no diplomacy and thus no diplomatic solution.’

“The conservative ‘Die Welt’ writes that since the Israelis withdrew from the Gaza Strip and gave up the settlements, the ability of the Palestinians to establish a stable state has been put to the test. ‘The results have been catastrophic. Gaza, instead of becoming a model of Palestinian autonomy has become a hell hole.’ The Israeli reaction of shelling is a ‘disproportionate retaliation without a clear and reachable political goal.’… The paper concludes that ‘the small war over Gaza shows signs of spinning out of control.’ The Quartet, as well as Egypt, the Saudis and Israel have to understand that ‘if the fire brigade hesitates the fire in Gaza, it will spread across the whole neighborhood.'”

If you want to learn more about what is prophesied for the Middle East, please read our free booklet, “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.”

…but it’s the Wrong Sabbath

On July 3, USA Today published an article by a Presbyterian pastor about the need to keep the weekly Sabbath holy. Unfortunately, the pastor confuses the weekly Sabbath–the seventh day of the week– with Sunday, the first day of the week. This error is not uncommon in the “Christian” world–but it shows the complete ignorance, if not willful defiance of the teachings of the Bible. In addition, the article contains other glaring errors. To judge for yourself, just read the following excerpts:

“For all the attention paid this past year to public displays of the Ten Commandments, you’d think people would spend as much energy trying to follow them. When it comes to the Fourth Commandment–‘Remember the Sabbath Day’–that’s not the case. And pastors like me, far from being role models, are among the worst offenders. After all, we work every Sunday.

“The problem with ignoring the Sabbath is that it hurts us as individuals, families and communities… Whether religious or not, people know that they need to take a day off in order to maintain their sanity and remain efficient and productive at work. But I’m convinced that downtime is not enough. We need a formal day of rest. A true Sabbath gives us time to refresh and renew ourselves, regain proper perspective and redirect our lives to what is good and true and worthwhile. There is something positive and even creative about allowing ourselves to take a break, as is noted in the Bible when it says God finishes the work of creation on the seventh day … by resting (Genesis 2:2). Resting is an act of creativity…

“Given this history, Sabbath-keeping is going to be a countercultural activity, one requiring commitment and creativity. A day of rest does not have to be a Saturday or a Sunday–impossible for pastors and many others–but it should be at least one day out of seven, and qualitatively different from the other six. The key is to break away from work patterns, whether that means hobbies, sports or artistic activities. (Sabbath is related to the Hebrew verb meaning ‘to cease, stop, interrupt.’)… So take a vacation this summer and a Sabbath day throughout the year–whether to honor God, your family or yourself.”

The Bible commands us to keep the seventh day of the week holy–which is the time from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. And it is to be kept in honor of God. To keep Sunday–or just one day out of seven–does not fulfill Godly requirements in the slightest And the suggestion to keep the Sabbath to honor yourself is just plain ridiculous. For more information, please read our free booklet, “God’s Commanded Holy Days.”

Further Erosion of Individual Liberties

The EUObserver reported on June 29 about the recent scandal regarding US access to international banking transfers–another piece of a puzzle showing more and more the restrictions and the erosion of privacy of US citizens and others. The article revealed the astonishing fact that, apparently, European countries secretly collaborated with the US:

“The European Central Bank and the Bank of England were aware that customers’ payment data were being transferred to US authorities, according to a document obtained by Belgium’s Le Soir newspaper. A consortium known as SWIFT, which manages the ‘Swift’ codes for international payments, tried in vain to get permission from the Frankfurt and London banks to hand payment data to Washington, but the banks did not subsequently tell the government of Belgium–where SWIFT is based–that data was being transferred to the US. SWIFT, which stands for the ‘Society for Worldwide Inter-bank Financial Telecommunications’ based just outside Brussels, was thrust into the limelight when the New York Times last week reported that officials from the CIA, the FBI and other US agencies had since 2001 been allowed to inspect the transfers. The Belgian senate announced on Wednesday (28 June) that it had opened a case on the affair. The office of Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt said in a statement that the probe will determine whether Belgian law and the rights of Belgian nationals were respected when information on financial transactions worldwide was passed on to US authorities. The National Bank of Belgium (BNB) acknowledged that it knew of the transfers. But it claimed that it could do nothing about them as its primary task is to see to the soundness of financial transactions, not of data transfer.

“London-based human rights group Privacy International said it was alleging that SWIFT made the disclosures ‘without regard to legal process under data protection law’ and without any legal basis or authority. ‘This unlawful activity shows yet again how the US wilfully disregards the privacy rights not only of its own citizens, but also the rights of foreign nationals,’ said the head of the group Simon Davies in a statement. ‘The scale of the operation is breathtaking, and the extent of privacy violation is almost without parallel. We will work to bring the programme to a halt pending further investigation.’ A European diplomat said ironically however, that ‘in any case, the Americans have succeeded in doing what the Europeans cannot; creating a European judiciary… European judges spend years to obtain this kind of information,’ Liberation writes.”

Guantanamo Camp Illegal!

Der Spiegel Online reported on June 30:

“The United States Supreme Court has ruled that George W. Bush overstepped his authority when he set up military tribunals for Guantanamo Bay inmates. The ruling has widespread implications for Guantanamo, the war on terror and rule of law in the United States… In its ruling the Supreme Court, which ruled 5-3… against the government, said that the tribunals contravened the Geneva Convention, as well as the US code of military justice. It added that there was ‘no sweeping mandate for the president to invoke military commissions whenever he deems them necessary.’ The German press resoundingly welcomes the Supreme Court decision, and many papers comment on its implications for the democratic rule of law and separation of powers in the United States.’…

“The financial daily Handelsblatt writes that the existence of the camp ’causes serious concerns for every person who respects the law.’ Concerns that the US itself could embark on the path of lawlessness, ‘which the fight against terror is actually aimed at defeating.’ The paper argues that the decision by the Supreme Court against the Bush military tribunals is therefore good for the US: ‘It makes clear that in America it is not only the opinion of the president that counts.’ The paper then asks: ‘How long can the US government afford to sanction this kind of extrajudicial space, against the doubts of its own Supreme Court? How long can they keep going back to Sept 11 to justify operating on the edges of legality?'”

America’s reputation in the world is growing worse and worse. To understand the reasons for this startling development, please read our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.”

Haider in the News Again

On June 17, the Jerusalem Post reported the following: 

“Far-right Austrian leader Joerg Haider called US President George W. Bush a war criminal on Saturday. In an interview with the Austrian daily Die Presse, Haider claimed Bush ‘brought about the war against Iraq deliberately, with lies and falsehoods … The Iraqi population is suffering terribly. Bush took the risk of an enormous number of victims.’ Haider added in the interview that Bush’s actions have only served to strengthen international terrorism.”

According to Austrian reports, Haider might be contemplating running for office in non-Austrian territories within a few years from now–due to a proposed change of the European laws, purportedly allowing candidates from one European country to run for office in another European country. Even though Haider is considered by some as just an “agitator,” it might be advisable to take note of his words, conduct and plans.

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