Current Events

Big Brother in Europe–A System of Total Control

Der Spiegel Online wrote the following on November 23:

“The European Commission in Brussels wants to protect European citizens even more effectively against danger and disease. Soon there will be a well-intended — but mostly completely unnecessary — regulation for every aspect of life…

“It seems only a matter of time before Brussels’ compulsion to control everything is subjected to a nonsense standard, which would recognize anything that causes 25 of 100 adult EU citizens to shake their heads in disbelief for a period of at least 30 seconds as general lunacy.

“In all seriousness, the EU’s inspectors are keeping themselves busy coming up with more and more regulations to govern even the most hidden corners of human existence…

“There is only one thing the Brussels bureaucrats have forgotten in their zeal to slap regulations on just about everything: the often-evoked ‘responsible citizen.’ The Europeans of the 21st century appear to be dim-witted and unable to cope with life — and wholly dependent on the dictates of Big Brother in Brussels. When it comes to protecting the population from its own supposed lack of common sense, Big Brother is enthusiastic… Advocates for the protection of consumers, children, animals, patients and practically everything else are tirelessly proposing new things that they are convinced require regulation or, in some cases, ought to be banned outright. The EU administrators in Brussels are only too pleased to comply, while the representatives of the member states are quick to give the go-ahead…

“In truth, even legal experts find the well-intentioned flood of regulatory fervor overwhelming… Torsten Stein, a European legal expert at Saarland University, warns that one day EU citizens will become aware ‘that, long after the end of absolute rulers, a new authority has established itself that once again claims the authority to decide what is good and what is bad for subjects.’ Undeterred by such doubts, officials in Brussels continue to perfect a system of total control…”

Once Germany emerges as THE leader of Europe–as clearly prophesied in the Bible–we can expect more and more regulations and prohibitions, which will become worse, not better. This is due to Germans’ well-documented historical tendency to prohibit everything which is not specifically permitted. And in order to specifically permit something, you need regulations. Pretty soon, we will have Big Brother everywhere–this world is becoming more and more an unpleasant place in which to live. For more information, please read our free booklets, “Europe in Prophecy” and “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.”

New Poland For Europe

EUObserver wrote on November 23:

“In an effort to put Poland back on the European stage, the country’s new leadership is set to be the first to ratify the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, the bloc’s new institutional set-up agreed in October. ‘I hope that Poland will be the first country to ratify the treaty. This would be a symbolic gesture, signifying Poland’s return to the heart of Europe’, speaker of the Polish parliament Bronislaw Komorowski said on Thursday… The new Polish leadership has made it clear it wants to draw a clear line between the 16-month era of former prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who earned himself the reputation of a trouble-maker on European issues.”

French President Sarkozy Approval Down as Rail Strike Ends

Der Spiegel Online wrote on November 23:

“A national train strike that crippled France for nine days eased on Friday after rail workers voted Thursday morning to return to work. The poll to end rail strikes, coming just one day after union leaders and government officials began negotiations, was seen as a victory for President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose reform agenda has drawn massive resistance from rail workers and other public servants.

“However, strikes that cost the country up to €400 million ($592 million) a day and at one point spread to other public services appear to have cost him with voters.

“A poll conducted by the OpinionWay institute and published in the daily Paris newspaper Metro showed that Sarkozy’s approval rating fell to 58 percent from a pre-strike level of 63 percent.

“Even as the rail strike fades, Sarkozy faces continued resistance from other groups affected by his broad reform agenda. Civil servants staged a separate strike Tuesday against pay and job cuts, and 3,000 students marched through Paris Thursday in protest of a plan that would restructure French universities with private funding.”

More Unrest in France

AFP reported on November 27:

“Riot police deployed late Tuesday across a north Paris suburb bracing for a possible repeat of youth riots that have left 120 police injured, as the government vowed zero tolerance for the ‘criminals’ behind the violence. For two nights running, young men have hurled petrol bombs and bricks at police, torching cars and buildings in the town of Villiers le Bel, where on Sunday two teenagers were killed in a motorbike collision with a police car… Police unions said the violence was worse than the rioting that hit hundreds of French cities in November 2005 — also sparked by the deaths of two youths.”

British Commonwealth Suspends Pakistan

Der Spiegel Online wrote on November 23:

“Three weeks after President Perez Musharraf imposed a state of emergency in Pakistan, the British Commonwealth has decided to suspend the country’s membership. The announcement was made after a meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) on Thursday in Uganda. Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon said the suspension would be ‘pending restoration of democracy and the rule of law.’…

“On Friday, a speaker for Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said that ‘the decision does not take into account the current conditions. The state of emergency was a necessary measure to avoid a serious internal crisis.’ Mohammed Sadiq told Reuters that Pakistan would be ‘reconsidering its membership and future co-operation with the organization.’

“The Commonwealth expelled Pakistan a first time in 1999 in response to the coup that brought Musharraf to power. The Commonwealth reinstated Pakistan five years later. The suspension has little impact on diplomatic relations but does mean that the country will be banned from Commonwealth meetings and the Commonwealth Games, which take place every four years. Within a year of its last suspension, Pakistan requested re-entry.

“British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the ‘decision was taken in sorrow, not in anger,’ and that the Commonwealth looked forward to being able to welcome Pakistan into its fold. Particular attention will be paid to the parliamentary elections which Musharraf has promised to hold in January.”

Commonwealth Summit in Uganda

Sky News stated on November 23:

“The Queen has given the opening speech at the three-day Commonwealth summit in Uganda–urging tolerance among its 53 nations… Sky’s political editor Adam Boulton said most countries see Commonwealth membership as beneficial, and Pakistan’s suspension is a ‘sanction’ although ‘not the toughest in the world.'”

AFP wrote on November 25:

“Commonwealth leaders… from the 53-nation federation ‘called on the government of Pakistan to respond positively to the Commonwealth’s desire to remain engaged and support the return of democratic government and the rule of law.’… Leaders from the Commonwealth, a body representing nearly a third of the world’s population, also called for global trade talks to be concluded swiftly…

“The Commonwealth represents two billion people…, drawn from the broadest range of religions and cultures, from the world’s smallest countries to its largest and its poorest to its richest. It also encompasses some of the biggest villains and victims of climate change, from major polluter Australia — whose outgoing government refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on reducing emissions — to Tuvalu. This Pacific Ocean island group, the second lowest nation in the world and home to 10,000 people, could disappear for ever under the waves if melting ice gaps and glaciers cause sea levels to rise…

“Some Commonwealth nations, led by Britain, pushed for the summit to send a recommendation that binding emissions cuts be agreed in the Indonesian resort. But others, reportedly led by Canada and Australia — at least under the outgoing government — oppose binding cuts if they fail to include all countries, most notably economic powerhouse China. The result was no recommendation of binding cuts and in its place a climate change ‘action plan’ trumpeted by Secretary General Don McKinnon as a ‘very strong political statement.'”

On the historic and prophetic role of the British Commonwealth, please tune in to our four-part StandingWatch programs on the Origins of Britain and America, which are posted on StandingWatch and on Google Video.

Pakistan’s President Resigns as Army Chief

AFP wrote on November 29:

 “The Bush administration on Wednesday took heart in Pakistan leader Pervez Musharraf’s decision to take off his uniform but still faced the dilemma of what to do if the chief ally on the ‘war on terror’ went into January elections under a state of emergency. President George W. Bush and his chief diplomat Condoleezza Rice welcomed Musharraf’s resignation as military chief, but urged him to lift emergency rule to pave the way for free and fair elections… Musharraf [was] sworn in as civilian president on Thursday, his second five-year term as leader of the nuclear-armed nation regarded as a crucial US ally in the fight against Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants…

“The opposition maintains that Musharraf’s October 6 re-election as president was illegal, claiming he imposed emergency rule to purge the Supreme Court of hostile judges who threatened to overturn his victory. Calls have intensified for the release of all political detainees, lifting of media curbs and a [reinstatement] of the 1973 constitution.”

Australia’s New Leader

AFP wrote on November 25:

“Australia’s new leader Kevin Rudd vowed Sunday to tackle climate change and Iraq war policy, a day after sweeping veteran prime minister John Howard from power in a stunning election landslide. Rudd pledged to implement his campaign promises as a new era dawned for Australia after Saturday’s poll ended nearly 12 years of conservative rule by US President George W. Bush’s closest remaining ally in the war in Iraq. Voters abandoned Howard, 68, who presided over a record economic boom and became Australia’s second longest-serving leader, in a humiliating drubbing in which he is also likely to suffer the indignity of losing his parliamentary seat of 33 years.”

Russia’s Violent Suppression of the Opposition

AFP reported on November 27:

“Russia on Tuesday strongly defended the mass detention of anti-Kremlin demonstrators in the latest salvo of a war of words with the West before parliamentary elections. Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov said riot police ‘acted very correctly’ when they detained more than 200 people and jailed chess legend turned opposition leader Garry Kasparov during the dispersal of weekend protests in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, Interfax reported.

“Adding to the authorities’ tough message ahead of Sunday’s parliamentary elections, a deputy interior minister announced the seizure of millions of issues of campaign literature allegedly ‘not conforming to the law.’ The row over the crackdown fuelled controversy over claims that anti-Kremlin politicians are being repressed to ensure overwhelming victory for Putin’s United Russia party…

“Late Monday, US President George W. Bush added his voice to condemnations from across the European Union, saying he was ‘deeply concerned about the detention of numerous human rights activists and political leaders.’ ‘I am particularly troubled by the use of force by law enforcement authorities to stop these peaceful activities,’ Bush said in a statement. He was speaking shortly after Putin accused foreigners of ‘sticking their noses’ into Russia’s affairs and claimed the United States had pressured European election monitors to boycott Sunday in order to ‘discredit’ the polls.”

Over Half of Afghanistan Under Taliban Control

Der Spiegel wrote on November 22:

“Six years ago coalition forces headed into Afghanistan to eradicate the Taliban. Now an international think tank says more than half of the country is under the Taliban’s thumb…

“‘The Taliban’s ability to establish a presence throughout the country is now proven beyond doubt,’ the report says, adding that ’54 percent of Afghanistan’s landmass hosts a permanent Taliban presence, primarily in southern Afghanistan, and is subject to frequent hostile activity by the insurgency.’… More than 6,000 people have been killed in insurgency-related violence in 2007 as NATO forces continue to battle against the Taliban, particularly in the volatile south…

“The report was released on the same day as an Oxfam assessment critical of the spending efforts inside Afghanistan by Western powers… Both reports are grim…”

Don’t Dare To Believe in God!…

BBC News reported on November 25:

“Tony Blair avoided talking about his religious views while in office for fear of being labelled ‘a nutter’, the former prime minister has revealed. In an interview for BBC One’s The Blair Years, he said that his faith had been ‘hugely important’ to his premiership. His ex-spokesman Alastair Campbell once told reporters: ‘We don’t do God.’ Mr Campbell has now acknowledged to the programme that his former boss ‘does do God in quite a big way’, but that both men feared the public would be wary… Mr Campbell added that the former prime minister always asked his aides to find him a church to attend, wherever he happened to be, each Sunday… ‘This is a man who takes a Bible with him wherever he goes and last thing at night he will read from the Bible.’

“Sir Menzies Campbell, the former Liberal Democrat leader, suggested that Mr Blair may not have been so politically successful had the relationship between his beliefs and his actions in office been better known. ‘The public might have been less willing to give him the triumph of three consecutive general election victories if they’d known the extent to which ethical values would overshadow pragmatism,’ Sir Menzies said.”

The Daily Mail commented on November 26 on Tony Blair’s secret religious faith, as follows:

“The great 19th-century campaigns of social reform, which brought about an end to slavery, universal suffrage and the transformation of Britain from a criminal cesspit into an orderly society, were motivated by Christian evangelicalism… So what a desperately sad commentary on our times it is that a Prime Minister felt unable to acknowledge that he subscribed to the faith that underpinned his society…

“But in Britain, the Church of England has turned into a kind of social workers’ convention where faith in God is too often seen as the equivalent of making a rude noise in church. It is almost as if Christianity is fine – with its high-minded concerns about poverty, the environment, war and so forth – as long as no one believes in it.

“Of course, the irony is that Mr Blair’s government seemed determined to attack and undermine bedrock Christian ethics… Nevertheless, he did believe in a Christian God which he was unable to reveal without doing himself political damage. That is because, to a secular society, religion is merely a form of organised superstition. Acting on religious faith is thus seen as irrational, and praying to God regarded as evidence of clinical insanity… Moreover, as the influence of religion has declined in Britain… people have become more credulous, superstitious and irrational than ever before. They place their faith in a range of New Age cults, paganism, witchcraft and belief in psychic phenomena such as reincarnation, astrology and parapsychology…

“In suggesting that life sprang into existence without any kind of governing intelligence, they fly in the face of the evidence emerging from science that the hitherto unimaginable complexity of life forms, including the living cell, makes it scientifically impossible for life to have emerged without some kind of intelligent design…

“The fact that a British Prime Minister has to keep his Christian faith secret is sorry testimony to the self-inflicted damage of a society that is in danger of losing not just its faith, but its mind.”

Anglican Archbishop Attacks the U.S.

Times on Line wrote on November 25:

“The Archbishop of Canterbury has said that the United States wields its power in a way that is worse than Britain during its imperial heyday. Rowan Williams claimed that America’s attempt to intervene overseas by ‘clearing the decks’ with a ‘quick burst of violent action’ had led to ‘the worst of all worlds’. In a wide-ranging interview with a British Muslim magazine, the Anglican leader linked criticism of the United States to one of his most pessimistic declarations about the state of western civilisation.

“He said the crisis was caused not just by America’s actions but also by its misguided sense of its own mission. He poured scorn on the ‘chosen nation myth of America, meaning that what happens in America is very much at the heart of God’s purpose for humanity’. Williams went beyond his previous critique of the conduct of the war on terror, saying the United States had lost the moral high ground since September 11…”

America–“The Depressed Superpower!”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on November 27:

“As frustration takes hold in the land of optimism, Americans are beginning to resemble Germans. They are collectively depressed over the Iraq War, the weak dollar and the aging of the baby boomers. Presidential candidates are left to preach change to an electorate that is afraid of it…

“Sixty percent of Americans believe that the next generation will be worse off than their own. A majority of Americans have no confidence in the government’s ability to solve the nation’s problems. Sixty-two percent are convinced that the administration is a failure at everything it tries to do… Sixty-eight percent of Americans see their country going down the wrong path in every respect. According to demographers, America today is even more overcome by pessimism than it was in 1974, a disastrous year in American politics. It was the year the US military withdrew from Vietnam; and back in Washington, the Watergate scandal led to the impeachment of then-President Richard Nixon…

“There is in fact little today that an American can be proud of… The only thing that has doubled in the seven years of the Bush administration is the country’s military budget. By comparison, the average US family income has stagnated in the last decade or so.

“A look at the US economy doesn’t exactly offer grounds for optimism. The US’s share of global exports has been cut in half since 1960. The balance of trade deficit has skyrocketed from about $80 billion in 1992 to a forecast $700 billion in 2007. The dollar has lost 24 percent of its value against the euro. The Bush administration’s answer to skeptics is that America is still growing at a faster rate than Europe. Consumer spending drives the economy, say politicians in Washington. But since when has consumer spending made a nation wealthy?…

“Americans are capable of handling anything — just not the notion that something cannot be improved. When their pioneering ancestors tamed and developed the nation, their motto was: ‘If you can dream it, you can do it.’ But nowadays more and more Americans face nights as dreamless as their days are dreary. America’s new reality is simple: Hope dies first…”

These developments are highly significant. For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.”

“America Is Coming Apart”

On November 25, The Drudge Report advertised Pat Buchanan’s new book, “Day of Reckoning,” as follows:

“‘America is coming apart, decomposing, and…the likelihood of her survival as one nation…is improbable — and impossible if America continues on her current course,’ declares Pat Buchanan. ‘For we are on a path to national suicide.’

“This time, Buchanan goes all the way: ‘America is in an existential crisis from which the nation may not survive.’ The U.S. Army is breaking and is too small to meet America’s global commitments. The dollar has sunk to historic lows and is being abandoned by foreign governments. U.S. manufacturing is being hollowed out. The greatest invasion in history, from the Third World, is swamping the ethno-cultural core of the country, leading to Balkanization and the loss of the Southwest to Mexico.

“The culture is collapsing and the nation is being deconstructed along the lines of race and class. A fiscal crisis looms as the unfunded mandates of Social Security and Medicare remain unaddressed. All these crises are hitting America at once — a perfect storm of crises.”

US Republican Debate–“What Would Jesus Do?”

WorldNetDaily wrote about an interesting exchange during the Republican Presidential Debate on November 28, 2007. It stated:

“Do the Republicans running for president believe every word of the Holy Bible? That issue was the focus of a portion of tonight’s CNN/You Tube debate, as a questioner brought it to the forefront…

“‘The reality is, I believe it, but I don’t believe it necessarily literally true in every single respect,’ said former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is Catholic. ‘I think there are parts of the Bible that are interpretive; I think there are parts of the Bible that are allegorical; I think there are parts of the Bible that are meant to be interpreted in a modern context. I don’t believe every single thing in the literal sense of Jonah being in the belly of the whale,’ he added.

“Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney a Mormon, drew applause when he said ‘the Bible is the Word of God, absolutely.’ ‘Does that mean you believe every word?’ asked moderator Anderson Cooper. ‘Yeah, I believe it’s the Word of God,’ Romney said. ‘I might interpret the Word differently than you interpret the Word, but I read the Bible and I believe the Bible is the Word of God. I don’t disagree with the Bible. I try and live by it.’

“The only other candidate presented with the question was former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister. ‘It’s the Word of revelation to us from God Himself,’ Huckabee said. ‘The fact is when people ask if you believe all of it, you either believe it or you don’t believe it. As the only person here probably on this stage with a theology degree, there are parts of it I don’t fully comprehend and understand, but I’m not supposed to. Because the Bible is the revelation of an infinite God, and no finite person is ever gonna fully understand it. If they do, their God is too small.’

“When asked what would Jesus do concerning the death penalty, Huckabee quipped, ‘Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office, Anderson. That’s what Jesus would do.'”

Lawsuit Challenges New California Law SB 777

WorldNetDaily reported on November 29:

“Absent a provision in the California Constitution that would ban ‘stupid’ laws, the non-profit Advocates for Faith and Freedom has filed a lawsuit challenging a new state law that would ban ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ from public schools. WND has reported that experts fear the socially groundbreaking legislative plan, signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, will impose a radical pro-homosexual indoctrination agenda on all California public schools.

“‘Realize that SB 777 affects all school “instruction” (textbooks, classroom instruction, homework, videos, and other instructional materials) and every school-sponsored “activity” (sex education classes, school assemblies, dramas, music, dances, proms, sports teams, homecoming games, etc.). To opt out of SB 777, you would have to opt out your child from the entire school day,’ said Randy Thomasson, of the Campaign for Children and Families, a California-based pro-family group.

“His organization has concluded a state constitutional amendment would be the best way to remove the objectionable requirements, while the Capitol Resource Institute is working on a separate effort to have voters overturn SB 777.

“Robert Tyler, the general counsel for Advocates for Faith and Freedom, said the lawsuit his organization has filed challenges the law on the basis it is unconstitutionally vague and violates the privacy of all students, teachers and the people on school campuses. SB 777 changed in state law the definition of gender to make it now mean ‘sex,’ including a person’s gender identity and gender related appearance and behavior whether or not associated with the person’s ‘assigned’ sex at birth.”

More Attacks on Corporal Punishment

WorldNetDaily wrote on November 29:

“A proposal in the Massachusetts House of Representatives to ban ‘corporal punishment’ would turn good parents into criminals, according to a family advocacy group leader who battled the same idea earlier this year in California. ‘This bill equates loving, corrective discipline with hateful, harmful abuse,’ said Randy Thomasson, the president of the Campaign for Children and Families.

“‘Just as California’s proposed spanking ban was stopped cold, [Rep. Jay] Kaufman’s bill should be rejected by lawmakers who respect the sanctity of the home… ‘This punish-you-if-you-spank-your-children bill is intrusive, unenforceable, and a blatant violation of parental rights,’ Thomasson said… ‘Some parents spank and some parents don’t, and that’s their right as parents. Government regulation of parents’ discipline wipes out the right of parents to raise their own children. This is wrong. God gave children to parents, not to the state,’ he said. ‘Appropriate spanking is not “beating” or “abusing” a child, which is a ridiculous and offensive comparison. When appropriate spanking is lovingly administered, it greatly helps a disobedient youngster to become a well-adjusted adult who respects authority,’ he said.”

For more information on this hotly debated issue, please tune in to our StandingWatch program, “To Spank or Not to Spank,” which is posted on StandingWatch and on Google Video.

Middle East Conference–Cause for Hope…?

Der Spiegel Online wrote on November 28:

“Few thought it was possible that the Middle East conference in Annapolis would generate anything other than photo ops. But now, the Palestinians and the Israelis have agreed to talks… The first meeting is scheduled for Dec. 12 with further negotiations scheduled for every two weeks thereafter. The talks will be facilitated by an American president committed to reaching an agreement by the end of his term at the end of 2008.

“It is a real coup. And it is a surprise for all those who expected nothing of import to result from the conference — as well as for those who question the Americans’ ability to help negotiate a peace agreement due to their close relations with Israel. Even the mega-news network CNN was caught off guard. The channel completely forgot about the simultaneous translation of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ speech delivered on the heels of Bush’s announcement. There was no sound other than the leader’s speech in Arabic. For five long minutes, only Arabic could be heard, before CNN interrupts the program and cuts to a correspondent. ‘We are watching history be made,’ is all he can think to say…

“Whether it’s ‘history,’ of course, remains to be seen. But it is a new initiative, and Bush’s presentation contained new elements as well. He spoke emphatically about the suffering of the Palestinians and even used the word ‘occupation.’… Many questions remain… the agreement announced by Bush contains — besides the commitment to a fixed negotiating framework — no specific details on the most contentious issues, namely the borders of a Palestinian state, the right of return of refugees and the exact status of Jerusalem. Still, the US president listed three reasons why the time for a settlement is better than ever: The two leaders in Israel and the Palestinians are committed to peace; a historic battle is raging against extremists over the future of the region; and the whole world wants peace more than ever…”

… or for Utter Pessimism?

Subsequently, Der Spiegel Online hit quite a different note, when reporting about the reactions from Israel and the Arab world. The paper wrote the following, on November 28:

“Disappointment, pessimism, frustration. The participants in the Annapolis conference could only feel victorious for one evening — then the disillusion set in. In a rare show of unity, Israeli and Arab newspapers have thrashed out at their political leaders… ‘Anyone unfamiliar with the Middle East would be forgiven for thinking that Tuesday’s ceremonies were marking the signing of a permanent peace,’ wrote Nahum Barnea, one of Israel’s best-known commentators. The opposite is true. According to Barnea, nothing less than ‘a miracle would be required’ for a Palestinian state to be brought into being by the end of 2008. There are too many difficulties to be cleared out of the way before this kind of ‘express peace’ would be realistic.

“The newspaper’s military expert is just as pessimistic. Prime Minster Ehud Olmert has maneuvered the Israeli army into a predicament. At a time when it is facing a tough militia enemy in Hamas, it is supposed to use restraint. That is ‘an almost unbearable situation.’

“This, however, sounds like resounding praise compared to the reaction of Maariv, the country’s second-biggest mass circulation paper. ‘Peace agreed for the cameras,’ writes Ben Caspit in his editorial. He caustically describes the joint statement between Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as a successful marketing coup by Olmert — arranged only so that the beleaguered premier could hold on to power until the end of next year.

“‘Olmert is the true winner,’ writes Caspit. The big losers are Defense Minister Ehud Barak and the peace movement. ‘Barak knows that the chances for a peace treaty in a year are as great as Olmert being elected US president next November.’ The great expectations that US President George W. Bush has stirred up will only be disappointed, Caspit writes, ‘and then we will experience a profound disaster.’

“The London-based pan-Arab daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi also predicts calamity. ‘The rude awakening is yet to come,’ says their editorial. The Annapolis conference did not address the really urgent problems. That will come back to haunt the participants, the paper writes: ‘The only success at Annapolis is that the conference took place.’…

“One day after Annapolis, the mood in the Middle East’s newspapers is subdued. The conclusion of most of the commentators is that Annapolis’s turbo-charged approach to the peace process will cause more harm than good.”

Natural Disasters on the Rise

AFP wrote on November 25:

“More than four times the number of natural disasters are occurring now than did two decades ago, British charity Oxfam said in a study Sunday that largely blamed global warming… The world suffered about 120 natural disasters per year in the early 1980s, which compared with the current figure of about 500 per year, according to the report.

“‘This year we have seen floods in South Asia, across the breadth of Africa and Mexico that have affected more than 250 million people,’ noted Oxfam director Barbara Stocking. ‘This is no freak year. It follows a pattern of more frequent, more erratic, more unpredictable and more extreme weather events that are affecting more people.’… The number of people affected by extreme natural disasters, meanwhile, has surged by almost 70 percent, from 174 million a year between 1985 to 1994, to 254 million people a year between 1995 to 2004, Oxfam said. Floods and wind-storms have increased from 60 events in 1980 to 240 last year, with flooding itself up six-fold.”

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