Current Events

Germany and the “War on Terror”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on May 30:

“For good historical reasons, Germans tend to get easily nervous about war, and recent violence in Afghanistan and Iraq has caused the nation to reconsider its role in the war on terror. Dozens of gunmen dressed as Iraqi police kidnapped five foreign workers in a brazen daylight raid on Baghdad’s Finance Ministry on Tuesday, and early reports from Iraq had suggested the victims were German. They were, in fact, British, but the raid highlighted ongoing chaos in Iraq and gave German newspapers a reason to mull the violence… The overall conclusion on Wednesday is that it may be too late to pretend that the war in Iraq has nothing to do with Germany.

“The left-leaning Berliner Zeitung writes:

“‘In February a German woman and her son were kidnapped; in mid-April there was a terror alert for Americans in Germany; one month later three German soldiers died in Afghanistan; and yesterday it seemed that three Germans had been taken hostage in Baghdad. Even if this last report is untrue, the reminders that Germany is caught in a steadily-more-hopeless “war on terror” are becoming more frequent. It seems our freedom and security are not being defended in Afghanistan (and wherever else German anti-terrorism forces are stationed) so much as put at risk.’

“‘Deliberating this in public has been made virtually taboo by the German government…. Anyone who, like (Left Party politician) Oskar Lafontaine, dares to characterize as “terrorism” the campaign waged by the United States and others — including Germany — against al-Qaida and the Taliban, finds himself labelled an enemy of the state. It’s time to retire the current culture of debate in Germany that follows President Bush’s maxim: “Who’s not for us is against us,” and make way for a realistic and objective political argument about the point and duration of foreign commitments, anti-terrorism alliances and new security laws.’…

“The conservative daily Die Welt writes: ‘Do critics like the former US Security Advisor Zbigneiew Brzezinski have it right? Months ago he suggested two alternatives to the Bush administration: Either suppress the insurgents quickly and brutally with 300,000 American soldiers, or pull out as fast as possible.'”

US Blamed for Possible Failure at Future Summit

The Financial Times wrote on May 25:

“Political tensions between the US and Germany over climate change have worsened sharply, with Washington threatening to no longer ‘tread lightly’ in negotiations on global warming ahead of the Group of Eight rich nations’ summit next month. The US has sent Germany a harshly worded statement in which it accuses Berlin of ignoring of Washington’s ‘serious, fundamental concerns’ with Germany’s draft climate change communiqué for the Baltic coast summit.

“The statement, written in red ink and obtained by the Financial Times, says: ‘We have tried to “tread lightly” but there is only so far we can go given our fundamental opposition to the German position.’

“Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, would like the summit to agree limits on carbon emissions but the US says climate change should be tackled with technology-based solutions rather than mandatory emissions targets and accuses Berlin of ignoring its stance.

“Washington says… ‘The majority of our comments on the previous draft have not been addressed and some new, problematic text has been added.’ Germany’s proposed text ‘crosses multiple “red lines” in terms of what we simply cannot agree to’, according to the statement… Diplomats said the US outburst confirms that a substantial deal on climate change is no longer possible at the summit, despite the months of diplomatic pressure from Berlin.

“The strains in German-US relations ahead of the June 6-8 summit, to be attended by US President George W. Bush, are also likely to make it tougher for Ms Merkel to achieve progress in other sensitive fields, such as the stalled world trade talks.”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on May 30

“One week ahead of the G-8 summit in Heiligendamm, the US is still refusing to agree on concrete emissions reductions goals. Now, the German environment minister [Sigmar Gabriel] has had enough… On German television on Wednesday, Gabriel finally shed his diplomatic veneer and lashed out.

“‘Now is not the time to merely write in the minutes how well we got along with each other,’ Gabriel said on the news channel N24. ‘Now is not the hour of diplomacy. Now is the hour for real action.’ The German environment minister then took on the US directly, saying ‘the challenge remains that of convincing the Americans that they have a responsibility — also for their own citizens who suffer from climate change. Look at the hurricane in New Orleans.’… Gabriel said on Wednesday that the US position makes it easier for developing nations to sit back and do nothing about reducing their own emissions. Countries such as India and China, said Gabriel, ‘have the attitude: “if the industrialized nations don’t take responsibility, then how should developing countries do so?” The only solution is to continue negotiations with the Americans and to put them under pressure.'”

Ministerial Meeting Ahead of G-8 Summit

AFP reported on May 30:

“Foreign ministers of the Group of Eight nations met Wednesday to lay the groundwork for next week’s summit in Germany as discord over climate change and Kosovo cast a shadow over the talks… Japan poured cold water on one of the issues Germany had placed at the top of its priority list for the summit — a binding agreement on reducing greenhouse gases, [saying that] German proposals to complete negotiations on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases by 2009 were ‘premature.’

“Japan has been leading efforts among Asian nations to limit global warming. It said it believed major emitters of greenhouse gases such as the United States, China and India should agree to join the process before any timetable was put in place…

“However, faced with the bloodiest internal clashes in Lebanon for decades and the firing of Palestinian rockets into Israel and Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, expectations for the meeting were low… The ministers also addressed the situation in strife-torn Afghanistan.”

Zoellick Nominated as New World Bank President

Der Spiegel Online wrote on May 30:

“Robert Zoellick has been designated the new president of the World Bank following Paul Wolfowitz’s departure. Many Germans remember him as the likeable mediator who helped bring about German reunification. But Zoellick’s maxim is still ‘America first.’… In Germany, Zoellick is considered a friend, an ‘Atlanticist’ and a bridge-builder…

“His nomination was quickly interpreted as a technical victory for the moderates, since he was considered the favored candidate of the Europeans, of developing countries and even of the World Bank’s critics. His nomination could therefore be seen as a gesture of reconciliation on the part of US President George W. Bush. But 53-year-old Zoellick knows what he wants — which is to say, he knows what his superior in Washington wants… He is, after all, an old friend of the Bush family — and he shares its conviction that the United States is the only qualified world power today. Zoellick… grew up as a descendant of German immigrants in Illinois…”

Proposed Immigration Bill Under Fire

The New York Times wrote on May 29:

“President Bush today accused opponents of his proposed immigration measure of fear-mongering to defeat it in Congress, and took on his own conservative political base as he did so… The bill, the product of a compromise struck by Republican and Democratic leaders two weeks ago, has encountered stiff resistance from the left and right. Liberal opposition taking aim at the proposal for shifting the system for awarding permanent residence status to give more weight to education and skills and less to family reunification, while conservatives have derided the plan for allowing illegal aliens to legalize their status.

“It was the conservative opponents whom Mr. Bush seemed to address most forcefully in his remarks here today — a rare example of the president crossing swords with key members of the political coalition that helped him attain the Oval Office and then keep it four years later…”

Deadly Strain of Tuberculosis Has Re-entered the USA

The New York Times wrote on May 29:

“Public health officials today urged the passengers and crew of two recent trans-Atlantic flights to get checked for tuberculosis, after learning that a man with an exceptionally deadly and drug-resistant form of the disease had flown on the planes. The man, an American…, flew on May 12 from Atlanta to Paris aboard Air France Flight 385, then traveled on May 24 from Prague to Montreal aboard Czech Air Flight 410 before driving back to the United States… He is currently hospitalized in an isolation ward… While tuberculosis is not highly transmissible, the deadliness of this strain — and the ease of modern transportation — underscored the need for rapid response, as with the SARS virus epidemic of a few years ago… the type of tuberculosis found in the infected American — known as extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis, or XDR TB — resists treatment even by three of the six second-line drugs used when first-line drugs fail. Only two cases of the strain were found last year in the United States.

“Tuberculosis is typically spread by sneezing or coughing…  tuberculosis is still deadly, particularly in countries where medical care is lacking, killing about 1.6 million people each year worldwide. It is particularly deadly among those infected with HIV. At any given time, one person in three worldwide is infected with dormant tuberculosis germs… People become ill when the bacteria become active, usually when a person’s immunity declines, whether because of advancing age, HIV infection or some other medical problem.”

Russia Threatens EU and USA

The Associated Press reported on May 29:

“Russia tested new missiles Tuesday that a Kremlin official boasted could penetrate any defense system, and President Vladimir Putin warned that U.S. plans for an anti-missile shield in Europe would turn the region into a ‘powder keg.’ … Russia has bristled at the plans, dismissing U.S. assertions that the system would be aimed at blocking possible attacks by Iran and saying it would destroy the strategic balance of forces in Europe.

“‘We consider it harmful and dangerous to turn Europe into a powder keg and to fill it with new kinds of weapons,’ Putin said…

“Russia is also embroiled in a dispute with the West over another Soviet-era arms pact, the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty. Putin has announced a moratorium on observance of the treaty and threatened to withdraw altogether if the United States and other NATO members do not ratify an 1999 amended version. ”

The Guardian wrote on May 30:

“Russia yesterday threatened a new cold war-style arms race with the United States by announcing that it had successfully tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile capable of penetrating American defences.”

Grim Conditions in Sudan

AFP reported on May 29:

“US President George W. Bush on Tuesday tightened US sanctions on Sudan over ‘genocide’ in Darfur and pushed for a tough new UN Security Council resolution to punish the government in Khartoum.

“‘The people of Darfur are crying out for help, and they deserve it,’ he said. ‘I promise this to the people of Darfur: The United States will not avert our eyes from a crisis that challenges the conscience of the world.’

“China, a veto-wielding permanent council member and one of Sudan’s main allies, criticized the sanctions even before Bush unveiled them. But Britain welcomed the plan, while France proposed a humanitarian corridor through neighboring Chad to get aid to Darfur.

“The violence in Sudan’s western states has left at least 200,000 people dead and forced more than two million people from their homes, according to the United Nations…

“The goal of the sanctions is to force Sudan to allow the full deployment of a UN peacekeeping force; disarm the Janjaweed militias; and let humanitarian aid reach the region, which is roughly the size of France, US officials say…  China also faced pressure from European nations over Darfur.”

Even though the situation is very grim in Darfur, there is no Biblical evidence whatsoever for the concept that Sudan may be the “king of the south,” mentioned in Daniel 11, as some have recently suggested. Such fanciful ideas do not help in any way to gain a proper understanding of prophecy.

Eu vs. Turkey

The Turkish Daily News wrote on May 28:

“As they seemed to forget their comments about Turkey’s membership to the EU, European politicians with an imperialistic arrogance about our domestic politics have recently told Turkey to wait fifty more years; that is after having kept Turkey waiting at the EU door for more than forty-five years… It is time to say stop [to] European injustice and the arrogant European double standard with its old imperialistic traditions. With the mentality ‘I decide everything and everything belongs to me,’ the EU seems to not be satisfied with its economic benefits…

“By making Turkey obey harsh conditions of the Customs Union, Turkey became the fifth largest market of the EU ahead of Japan, Korea and India… Since 1999 when Turkey was granted candidate status, the EU has made visa application and customs laws more difficult instead of easier… Some EU countries like the Netherlands are only open for visa applications between 8:45 – 9:15 a.m. at their consulates…  It is time to say stop to the discriminatory visa application against Turkey…  It is time to… raise the stakes with arrogant Europeans.”

Five Britons Kidnapped in Iraq

AFP reported on May 30:

“Iraqi and British officials scrambled Wednesday to get to the bottom of the brazen daylight kidnapping of five British contractors snatched from a finance ministry building in Baghdad. The Britons… were taken on Tuesday by a large group [of] gunmen in Iraqi police uniforms.

“‘We are pursuing this case very vigorously, I would say, because the nature of this kidnapping is very strange,’ Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told AFP. ‘The location of this finance ministry computer centre and the nature of the operation and the number of people involved, I think all indicate more a militia than a terrorist group, let’s say,’ he added…  the nature of the kidnapping clearly points towards the involvement of one of the Shiite militant groups that has infiltrated Iraqi forces, rather than a Sunni insurgent outfit such as Al-Qaeda, he said…

“Mass kidnappings by uniformed men were common last year and were believed to be the work of Shiite militias with close ties to the police.”

Iraq War With No End in Sight

AFP reported on May 26:

“US President George W. Bush scored a key victory against Democrats in Congress over funding US troops in Iraq, but with no end in sight, the four-year-old war continues to encumber his administration… After battling for weeks, the president’s Democratic foes in Congress had ceded to his demands to strip timelines for troop withdrawals out of the war funding bill… But the bill’s passage was unlikely to reassure a war-weary US public strongly critical of the Bush administration’s Iraq effort and dismayed at the mounting US toll there, with 3,445 US servicemen dead since the March 2003 start of the war.

“A new poll Friday showed a record number of people in the United States are pessimistic about the war’s outcome and now believe it was a mistake. Seventy-six percent of Americans think the Iraq war is going badly, up ten percentage points in one month, according to the CBS News/New York Times opinion poll. And 61 percent said the United States should have stayed out of Iraq…

“The top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, meanwhile gave the clearest signal yet that Republicans would also be looking for a change of tack by Bush later this year. ‘I think the handwriting is on the wall that we are going in a different direction in the fall, and I expect the president is going to lead it,’ McConnell told reporters.”

“War Is Hell”

USA Today wrote on May 25:

“He said it in 1879, a decade after he led Union forces to victory in our Civil War. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman: ‘War is at best barbarism. … Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation. War is hell.’

“Those are words to heed as we honor the dead of all our wars on Monday’s Memorial Day. Those who died in the service of our country – and many who served and survived – have been through hell. We have about 147,000 servicemen and women in Iraq now. More than 3,400 have died there…

“On Memorial Day, my memories will be with my buddies who served with me in the 86th Infantry Division in both Europe and the Pacific in World War II. But my hopes and prayers will be for our military in Iraq. It’s already too late to bring them home sooner, as I suggested three years ago. But better late (now) than never.”

President Bush the Only Person Who Understands?

The Herald Tribune published on May 27 the following biting article:

“Never mind how badly the war is going in Iraq. President George W. Bush has been swaggering around like a victorious general because he cowed a wobbly coalition of Democrats into dropping their attempt to impose a time limit on his disastrous misadventure. By week’s end, Bush was acting as though that bit of parliamentary strong-arming had left him free to ignore not just the Democrats, but also the vast majority of Americans, who want him to stop chasing illusions of victory and concentrate on how to stop the sacrifice of young Americans’ lives. And, ever faithful to his illusions, Bush was insisting that he was the only person who understood the true enemy.

“Speaking to graduates of the Coast Guard Academy, Bush declared that Al Qaeda is ‘public enemy No. 1’ in Iraq and that ‘the terrorists’ goal in Iraq is to reignite sectarian violence and break support for the war here at home.’ The next day, in the Rose Garden, Bush turned on a reporter who had the temerity to ask about Bush’s declining credibility with the public, declaring that Al Qaeda is ‘a threat to your children’ and accusing him of naïvely ignoring the danger.

“It’s upsetting to think that Bush believes the raging sectarian violence in Iraq awaits reigniting, or that he does not recognize that Americans’ support for the war broke down many bloody months ago. But we have grown accustomed to this president’s disconnect from reality and his habit of tilting at straw men, like Americans who don’t care about terrorism because they question his mismanagement of the war or don’t worry about what will happen after the United States withdraws, as it inevitably must.

“The really disturbing thing about Bush’s comments is his painting of the war in Iraq as an obvious-to-everyone-but-the-wrongheaded fight between the United States and a young Iraqi democracy on one side, and Al Qaeda on the other. That fails to acknowledge that the Shiite-dominated government of Iraq is not a democracy and is at war with many of its own people. And it removes all pressure from the Iraqi leadership – and Bush – to halt the sectarian fighting and create a real democracy. There is no doubt that organized Islamist terrorism – call it Al Qaeda or by any other name – is a dire threat. There is also no doubt that terrorists entered Iraq – mostly after the war began.

“We, too, believe that Iraq has to be made as stable as possible so the United States can withdraw its troops without unleashing even more chaos and destruction. But Bush is not doing that, and his version of reality only makes it more unlikely. The only solution lies with the Iraqi leaders, who have to stop their sectarian blood feud and make a real attempt to form a united government. That is their best chance to stabilize the country, allow the United States to withdraw and, yes, battle Al Qaeda.

“The Democrats who called for imposing benchmarks for political progress on the Iraqis, combined with a withdrawal date for American soldiers, were trying to start that process. It’s a shame they could not summon the will and discipline to keep going, but we hope they have not given up. As disjointed as the Democrats have been, their approach makes far more sense than Bush’s denial of Iraq’s civil war and his war-without-end against terror.”

Kuwait Drops U.S. Dollar

The Wall Street Journal reported on May 21: “Kuwait dropped its currency’s four-year-old peg to the falling U.S. dollar and switched to a basket of currencies, raising new questions about plans for a currency union with other Gulf Arab oil producers. Kuwait’s central-bank governor said his country was still committed to the union and was acting in the ‘national interest’ to contain inflation. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and the other states of the Gulf Cooperation Council may now be pressed to relax fiscal policy. Saudi Arabia’s central bank said it has no plans to change the exchange rate of its dollar-pegged currency.”

Eurozone Takes Over From USA

The EUObserver wrote on May 25:

“The eurozone will in 2007 take over from the US as the driver of world economic growth, according to Paris-based think tank the OECD, with a strong performance by Germany giving Europe the edge.

“The 13-state strong European currency union will see 2.7 percent GDP growth this year compared to 2.1 percent in the US… ‘Europe [is] taking over the baton from the United States,’ OECD chief economist Jean-Philippe Cotis said. ‘A vibrant German-led recovery has remained on track…[and] the so-far lagging Italian economy has been sharing in the upswing.’…

“By contrast, US results are being held back by problems in the housing market… The European upswing could spell good news for political projects, such as Germany’s attempt to revive the EU constitution… But the European picture is not entirely rosy: unemployment still remains much higher than in the US; inflation risks are likely to see the European Central Bank hike rates again this year and an ageing population is increasing pressure on the public purse.”

Iran Defiant reported on May 25:

“[One] Day after [the] end of [the] deadline to halt uranium enrichment and in light of possibility of additional sanctions, Ahmadinejad says ‘sanctions will hurt Western countries more than they will hurt us’… The Western powers are unable to act against Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Friday morning… On Thursday, the Iranian president ruled out even a brief halt in his country’s nuclear program, saying it would hand a victory to the country’s enemies who seek to prevent Iran from becoming a world power…  the Iranian president referred to the Security Council’s resolutions as ‘having no influence.’…

“Ahmadinejad’s outburst followed Wednesday’s report by the UN nuclear watchdog that said Iran has expanded its controversial uranium enrichment program in defiance of UN demands for a suspension. The report could set the stage for a third round of UN Security Council sanctions against Iran.”

Queen Exasperated Over Blair’s Legacy?

AFP reported on May 26:

“Prime Minister Tony Blair, who steps down in a month after 10 years in power, is leaving a legacy for Britain that has ‘exasperated and frustrated’ Queen Elizabeth II… The queen is worried that London’s close ties with Washington have come at the Commonwealth’s expense and that British troops might have become ‘overstretched’ in Iraq and Afghanistan, The Sunday Telegraph said. The newspaper… said the 81-year-old monarch is especially concerned that the nation has become divided over some New Labour policies, such as the ban on fox hunting and hare coursing. ‘The queen has been left exasperated and frustrated by change for change’s sake,’ one of her friends was quoted as saying…

“Under the constitutional monarchy, the queen, who meets with the prime minister on a weekly basis at Buckingham Palace, has the right to be consulted, to encourage and to warn, the newspaper recalled. The queen, who has ruled for 55 years and worked with 10 prime ministers, is the head of state, head of the Commonwealth — which groups former British colonies — and head of the armed forces…

“John Daw, an influential farmer, recalled telling the queen in May 2002, following the nationwide crisis over foot and mouth disease, that he doubted whether Blair and his government understood the countryside. He told the newspaper that the queen surprised him with her reply: ‘I know. I tell him that every week when I see him.’

“The newspaper said Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the relationship between the queen and the prime minister.”

EU Constitution in the Making–Without Britain?

The Wall Street Journal wrote on May 24:

“Whatever happened to the idea of a European Union constitution? A new cast of characters leading the bloc’s biggest governments may be on the verge of providing an answer.

“Angela Merkel took over from Gerhard Schroeder as Germany’s chancellor last fall, Romano Prodi took back Italy’s premiership from Silvio Berlusconi a year ago, Nicolas Sarkozy succeeded Jacques Chirac as French president last week and Gordon Brown is set to assume Tony Blair’s post in Britain next month. They are all involved in negotiations taking place in several capitals over what to do with the pact scuttled two years ago by French and Dutch referendums — with an eye toward finding a solution in time for an EU summit June 21-22 in Germany. Yesterday, Mr. Sarkozy made his first presidential visit to the EU headquarters in Brussels, [and] expressed support for the new French leader’s idea of a ‘simplified, more compact’ treaty…

“During the French election campaign, Mr. Sarkozy said [he] wanted to keep language that would change the EU to streamline decision making; create an EU presidency that would replace the one currently rotating among nations every six months; and apply majority voting to immigration and some other policy areas where EU member states can’t reach consensus…

“Mr. Sarkozy has also said that this time he would leave ratification to parliament rather than a referendum, and yet with French parliamentary elections set for next month, he may be confident about popular support on the issue since he is giving it such prominence. Still, while the Netherlands also likes the idea of a slimmer constitution, Germany and other EU partners don’t want to abandon altogether the original, far more ambitious version that took so many years to forge. Mr. Prodi — a former commission president — was also in Brussels this week to offer vociferous backing for the constitution, and suggested countries that didn’t like it could be excluded from the faster, fuller pace of integration…

“Ms. Merkel’s team considers Britain one of the biggest obstacles to any agreement… Mr. Brown wants to avoid a referendum ‘at all costs,’ and to win him over, Ms. Merkel may find a way to let the U.K. ‘opt out’ of police, judicial and other legal areas of the treaty as a way to avoid one.”

Israel Arrests 33 Palestinian Officials… While EU Considers Peacekeeping Force in Gaza

The Herald Tribune wrote on May 24:

“The Israeli Army and internal security agency arrested 33 prominent West Bank Palestinians, including a minister, three lawmakers and three mayors, in raids early this morning, army officials said. In a statement, the army described those arrested as ‘senior members of the Hamas terror organization,’ which it said ‘exploits governmental institutions to encourage and support terrorist activity.’ Miri Eisin, a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel, said, ‘We have information that connects all those arrested to terrorist activity.’ Another senior Israeli government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the arrests came ‘on the heels of concrete and genuine indications that these individuals – all of them – pose a clear and present danger to the lives of Israelis.’

“But the most senior Palestinian to have been arrested, the Palestinian Authority’s education minister, Nasser Eddin al-Shaer, had already been detained by the Israeli authorities in August… Shaer was released by a military court in late September, because of what the court said was a lack of evidence against him.

“Other Palestinians arrested ran educational and charitable establishments… Forty-one Palestinian legislators have remained in Israeli detention since the summer, including the parliament’s speaker, Aziz Dweik. All were elected in January 2006, having run on Hamas’s ‘Change and Reform’ list, which won a large majority of seats in the 132-member parliament…

“Israel, the Palestinians and the United Nations should consider stationing peacekeepers in the Gaza Strip, Michael Williams, the UN special envoy to the Middle East, said on Thursday… The European Union foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, after talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials, said a peacekeeping force was ‘one of many suggestions’ that the EU would be ‘open to consider’ if proposed by the parties. But he said Egyptian officials made clear during talks this week ‘they don’t see the need for that.'”

China’s Military Ambitions

The Financial Times wrote on May 24:

“The US is increasingly concerned about China’s deployment of mobile land and sea-based ballistic nuclear missiles that have the range to hit the US… The 2007 Pentagon China military power report will highlight the surprising pace of development of a new Jin-class submarine equipped to carry a nuclear ballistic missile with a range of more than 5,000 miles.

“Washington is also concerned about the strategic implications of China’s preparations later this year to start deploying a new mobile, land-based… intercontinental ballistic missile that could target the whole US.

“Robert Gates, US defence secretary, on Thursday said the report would not exaggerate the threat posed by China. ‘It paints a picture of a country that is devoting substantial resources to the military and developing…some very sophisticated capabilities.’

“The report also outlines concerns about the build-up of missiles across the Taiwan Strait, China’s recent anti-satellite missile test and its development of technologies to deny access in space. Beijing has strongly criticised previous Pentagon reports on the Chinese military, which it sees as portraying China as a cold war-style enemy, and points out that the Chinese military budget is a fraction of US defence spending…”

North Korea — the Plot Thickens

The Associated Press reported on May 25:

“North Korea fired several short-range guided missiles Friday into the sea that separates it from Japan in an apparent test launch… Analysts and media reports said the North’s test was in response to South Korea’s launch of its first destroyer equipped with high-tech Aegis radar technology on Friday. South Korea is now one of only five countries armed with the technology, which will make it easier to track and shoot down North Korean aircraft and missiles…

“Last month, North Korea displayed a newly developed ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. territory of Guam during a military parade… North Korea’s missile program has been a constant concern to the region, along with its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

“The hard-line regime test-fired a series of missiles in July last year… which experts believe could reach parts of the United States. The North rattled the world again in October by conducting its first-ever test of a nuclear device.”

Latin–The Language of Europe?

VIS reported on May 24:

“‘Latin Future: the language for building the identity of Europe’ is the theme of an international congress to be held in Rome and the Vatican from May 25 to 26… On the first day Friday, May 25, discussions will focus on the question of ‘the role of Latin in the formation of Europe’… to consider the question of ‘policies to follow in order to support the study of Latin.'”

Biblical or Worldly Pentecost…Which?

On May 27, Zenit published a translation of an address by Benedict XVI, pointing out, inadvertently, the fundamental differences between the Biblical Feast of Pentecost and its worldly counterfeit. His statements regarding the city of Rome are also very remarkable. For more information, please read our free booklets, “The Meaning of God’s Spring Holy Days,” and “Europe in Prophecy“:

“Today we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost. And through today’s liturgy we relive the birth of the Church as it is narrated by Luke in the book of the Acts of the Apostles (2:1-13). Fifty days after Easter, the Holy Spirit descended upon the community of disciples — ‘persevering with one mind in prayer’ — gathered together ‘with Mary, the mother of Jesus’ and with the twelve apostles (cf. Acts 1:14; 2,1)…

“Rome represents the pagan world and therefore all peoples who are outside the ancient people of God. In fact, the Acts conclude with the arrival of the Gospel in Rome. We can say, then, that Rome is the concrete name of the catholicity and missionary spirit of the Church… the first Pentecost happened when Mary Most Holy was present among the disciples in the cenacle in Jerusalem and prayed.”

Health Scare Over Soft Drinks

The Independent wrote on May 27:

“A new health scare erupted over soft drinks last night amid evidence they may cause serious cell damage. Research from a British university suggests a common preservative found in drinks such as Fanta and Pepsi Max has the ability to switch off vital parts of DNA. The problem – more usually associated with ageing and alcohol abuse – can eventually lead to cirrhosis of the liver and degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s…

“Concerns centre on the safety of E211, known as sodium benzoate, a preservative used for decades by the £74bn global carbonated drinks industry. Sodium benzoate derives from benzoic acid. It occurs naturally in berries, but is used in large quantities to prevent mould in soft drinks such as Sprite, Oasis and Dr Pepper. It is also added to pickles and sauces.

“Sodium benzoate has already been the subject of concern about cancer because when mixed with the additive vitamin C in soft drinks, it causes benzene, a carcinogenic substance…  Coca-Cola and Britvic’s Pepsi Max and Diet Pepsi all contain sodium benzoate.”

Nightmare Scenario Likely in the Near Future

The Daily Mail wrote on May 24:

“Thousands of government web pages suddenly vanish…  thousands of popular websites, from eBay to YouTube, start malfunctioning or are replaced by malicious parodies. Tens of millions of pounds are wiped off the share price of companies like Amazon as fears grow that the whole Internet credit card payment network is now vulnerable and insecure. Eventually, reports start to flood in that hundreds of thousands of personal bank accounts have been raided overnight.

“…thousands of anxious citizens take to the streets, many in tears, and pour angrily into the banks to demand their savings in cash. When the ATM system goes down, the government steps in. A task force is appointed. There is a rush on hard cash that leads to a shortage of notes and coins. Soon, it is clear that the United Kingdom (and much of Europe) has been subjected to a sustained and effective cyber-terrorist attack… Such a scenario, say some experts, is not only possible but likely in the near future…
“The Internet, developed as a rather ad hoc joint venture between the American military and academia as a way of sharing information quickly and reliably, has become – 30 years later – a vast worldwide infrastructure. It is now a huge, ungoverned electronic machine upon which we are all more and more dependent. We don’t only bank and shop online, our governments use the infrastructure of the Net to do their business too. Secure information is entrusted to cyberspace, information held by the likes of MI5 and the Pentagon, as well as various financial authorities, health services and treasuries…

“The genie is out of the bottle. Controlling – and policing – the Net, still less trying to shut the thing down, will probably prove to be as impossible as trying to stop the waves and the tides. If you bank online, best keep an eye on your account.”

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