Current Events

Iran Fools the West–How Much Longer?

The New York Sun reported on July 7:

“The West’s current diplomatic strategy — offering endless incentives to Iran, hoping it will change its behavior — is little more than an exercise in self-delusion…

“Western diplomats reportedly are ‘disappointed’ at Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki’s written response over the weekend to the most recent incentive package that the European Union foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, offered to Iran. Disappointed? The Iranian response should have been foreseeable to anyone who’s been paying attention.

“Reading Mr. Solana’s package of benefits, Israel’s Ephraim Sneh told me, ‘I thought it was being offered to Sweden’… [and] not a terrorist regime that has thumbed its nose at U.N. Security Council resolutions. But the mullahs will react to the new generous package as they always have, he predicted last week. ‘Iran will fool the West to buy time, and the West will allow itself to be fooled,’ Mr. Sneh, a former deputy defense minister, said. Sure enough, European diplomats swore that they could detect ‘new language’ in statements from Iranian officials…

“Their statements were vague enough to raise hopes for a breakthrough. But then the nonanswer came in writing: The mullahs made it clear that they have no intention whatsoever of suspending their enrichment of uranium, as the Security Council has demanded. Instead, they offered more negotiations. Surprised? Was any other outcome possible?

“Meanwhile… anonymous Israel Defense Force sources and Pentagon officials predicted an Israeli military strike before the end of President Bush’s term. But some missing pieces of data might render such an attack ineffective, the Sunday Telegraph reported yesterday. Gaps in Israeli intelligence on the precise locations and vulnerabilities of Iran’s facilities emerged…, the Telegraph reported…

“Even if someone like Osama bin Laden were to go berserk tomorrow and attack the Iranian nuclear facilities, America and Israel would immediately be seen as the culprits. With dependents such as Hamas in the south, Hezbollah in the north, and Syria in the east, Iran would certainly retaliate and shower Israeli cities with missiles. Attacks on U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf, as well as a possible closure of the Strait of Hormuz, through which 70% of the world’s oil passes, would no doubt cause considerable discomfort here, as well.”

America’s and Iran’s War Games and Threats

Reuters reported on July 7:

“Iran started war games on Monday and its president rejected a demand by major powers that it stop enriching uranium as ‘illegitimate,’ showing no sign of backing down in a stand-off over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. Missile units of the elite Revolutionary Guards’ naval and air forces began war games, Iranian news agencies said, hours after the U.S. Navy said it had begun exercises in the Gulf.

“Speculation about an attack on the world’s fourth biggest oil exporter over its nuclear program rose after a report last month said Israel had practiced such a strike. Fears of military confrontation helped send world oil prices to record highs…

“The Revolutionary Guards’ head said in remarks published in late June that Tehran would impose controls on shipping in the Gulf and the strategic Strait of Hormuz if it was attacked. The U.S. Navy last week vowed that Iran would not be allowed to block the Gulf waterway which carries crude from the world’s largest oil exporting region.”

Reuters added on July 8:

“Iran will hit Tel Aviv, U.S. shipping in the Gulf and American interests around the world if it is attacked over its disputed nuclear activities, an aide to Iran’s Supreme Leader was quoted as saying on Tuesday.”

Iran “Tests” Nine Missiles–But Were They Really Nine?

Iran Missle Test

On July 9, AFP reported the following:

“Iran on Wednesday test-fired a missile it said is capable of reaching Israel, angering the United States amid growing fears that the standoff over the contested Iranian nuclear drive could lead to war. The Shahab-3 was among a broadside of nine missiles fired off simultaneously at 8:00 am (0330 GMT) from an undisclosed location in the Iranian desert…”

The International Herald Tribune elaborated, on July 9:

“State-run media, quoted by Western news agencies, said the tests near the Strait of Hormuz included long- and medium-range missiles, among them a new version of the Shahab-3, which Tehran maintains can hit targets 2,000 kilometers, or 1,250 miles, away… At the same time, U.S. and British warships have been conducting naval maneuvers in the Gulf – apparently within range of the launch site of the missiles tested Wednesday.”

According to an article in Der Spiegel Online, dated July 10, a spectacular photograph, issued by the Iranian government and showing four missiles being fired on Wednesday, was nothing but a digital forgery. At least one of the four missiles–the second one from the right– was allegedly “added” on the picture. The magazine also stated in a related article that commentators feel that the alleged reach of the Iranian missiles is “weigh overblown.”

Iran Fires More Missiles–and Oil Prices Jump

The Associated Press added on July 10:

“Iran test-fired more long-range missiles overnight in a second round of exercises meant to show that the country can defend itself against any attack by the U.S. or Israel, Iranian state television reported Thursday. The weapons have ‘special capabilities’ and included missiles launched from naval ships in the Persian Gulf, along with torpedoes and surface-to-surface missiles…

“The report came hours after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned Iran that Washington will not back down in the face of threats against Israel. ‘We are sending a message to Iran that we will defend American interests and the interests of our allies,’ Rice said Thursday in Georgia at the close of a three-day Eastern European trip.”

The International Herald Tribune reported on July 10:

“The head of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries warned Thursday that oil prices would see an ‘unlimited’ increase in the case of a military conflict involving Iran, because the group’s members would be unable to make up the lost production… Iran, the second-largest producing country in OPEC, after Saudi Arabia, produces about four million barrels of oil a day out of the daily worldwide production of close to 87 million barrels.”

Iran Divides Obama and McCain…With No Real Solution in Sight

AFP reported on July 9:

“Democrat Barack Obama Wednesday called for aggressive diplomacy with Iran while Republican John McCain warned against making any concessions, as Tehran’s missile tests jolted the White House race. The presidential rivals used Iran’s test of a missile capable of reaching Israel to sketch sharply divergent approaches on foreign policy.

“Senator Obama said Iran ‘must suffer threats of economic sanctions with direct diplomacy opening up channels of communication so we avoid provocation, but we give strong incentives for the Iranians to change their behavior… Part of the problem that we’ve got right now is that we’ve been basically farming out the diplomatic activity to the Europeans. We’ve got to be actively engaged,’ Obama said.

“Senator McCain issued a statement following the tests implicitly criticizing Obama’s engagement strategy, which Republicans argue is naive and dangerous. ‘Working with our European and regional allies is the best way to meet the threat posed by Iran, not unilateral concessions that undermine multilateral diplomacy,’ McCain said… McCain also said the tests shows the United States needs effective missile defense ‘now and in the future,’ including the planned missile defense sites in the Czech Republic and Poland…

“The Bush administration, which has not ruled out military action against Iranian atomic facilities, condemned the missile tests. ‘Iran’s development of ballistic missiles is a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions and completely inconsistent with Iran’s obligations to the world,’ White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said. He expressed concern that Iran’s ballistic missiles could be used as ‘a delivery vehicle for a potential nuclear weapon.'”

Iran–A Frightening Intolerant Tyranny

The Jerusalem Post reported on July 8:

“A new law has been passed by the Iranian parliament extending use of the death penalty to online crimes. Previously, only people charged with insulting Islam or drug trafficking had been sentenced to death. In accordance with the new law, bloggers and website editors can be sentenced to death for crimes such as… apostasy… Blogging about subjects such as minority rights and freedom of speech and religion has already carried a risk. In 2005, blogger Mojtaba Saminejad was tried before a local court in Teheran charged with insulting the prophets, which carries the death penalty. He was eventually acquitted…”

Monkeys Used in Iran for Research Involving Biological Weapons?

The Sunday Times reported on July 6:

“Hundreds of endangered monkeys are being taken from the African bush and sent to a ‘secretive’ laboratory in Iran for scientific experiments. An undercover inquiry by The Sunday Times has revealed that wild monkeys, which are banned from experiments in Britain, are being freely supplied in large numbers to laboratories in other parts of the world. All will undergo invasive and maybe painful experiments leading ultimately to their death…

“The revelation will fuel speculation that the monkeys may be used for research involving biological weapons. Primates are typically used by scientists wishing to test both the effectiveness of germ warfare agents and defences against them… According to US intelligence, the pharmaceutical industry in Iran has long been used as a cover for developing a germ warfare capability.”

Iraq Pressures USA to Withdraw

The Associated Press reported on July 8:

“Iraq’s national security adviser said Tuesday his country will not accept any security deal with the United States unless it contains specific dates for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces. The comments by Mouwaffak al-Rubaie were the strongest yet by an Iraqi official about the deal now under negotiation with U.S. officials. They came a day after Iraq’s prime minister first said publicly that he expects the pending troop deal with the United States to have some type of timetable for withdrawal.

“President Bush has said he opposes a timetable. The White House said Monday it did not believe Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was proposing a rigid timeline for U.S. troop withdrawals.”

Russia Threatens Military Response to U.S. Missile Defense Deal

Times On Line reported on July 9:

“Russia threatened to retaliate by military means after a deal with the Czech Republic brought the US missile defence system in Europe a step closer. The threat followed quickly on from the announcement that Condoleezza Rice signed a formal agreement with the Czech Republic to host the radar for the controversial project.

“Moscow argues that the missile shield would severely undermine the balance of European security and regards the proposed missile shield based in two former Communist countries as a hostile move. ‘We will be forced to react not with diplomatic, but with military-technical methods,’ the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement… The radar agreement still has to pass through the Czech parliament where the government only has a slim majority.”

Barack Obama to Visit Germany

Der Spiegel Online reported on July 8:

“Barack Obama wants to hold a keynote speech on trans-Atlantic relations in front of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate during his visit later this month… A July 24 date has been set by the campaign for a Berlin visit… ‘During this campaign, Senator Obama has been criticized for his lack of interest in Europe,’ an Obama campaign adviser with knowledge of the planning for the trip told SPIEGEL ONLINE. ‘This trip is partly a response to this… The memory of John F. Kennedy’s famous Berlin speech is still alive. Berlin is a bridge between East and West, and the German-American relationship is very strong…’

“Former US President John F. Kennedy was given a rousing reception by the people of West Berlin during his visit in 1963 when he held his famous ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ speech in front of the town hall in Berlin’s Schöneberg district — which lies several miles from the Brandenburg Gate. The German government has already announced that it would give Obama a warm welcome but also voiced concern that an Obama speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate may be misinterpreted as German interference with the US election campaign.

“… he won’t shy away from some ‘tough love’ in his speech, said the advisor, noting that he would spell out clearly that Europe needs to assume more international responsibility, especially in Afghanistan, and perhaps in Iraq as well… Obama will meet Chancellor Angela Merkel. His advisors are also trying to make time for a meeting with Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, partly to get a better understanding of both camps in Germany’s grand coalition government — Merkel being a conservative Christian Democrat and Steinmeier a center-left Social Democrat.

“The German government is treading carefully. Merkel and Steinmeier want nice pictures with the Democrat who is highly popular in Germany. But they can’t take sides too openly in the US election campaign… Merkel’s office on Monday diplomatically declared that it was greatly looking forward to Obama’s visit. But, it added, Republican contender John McCain was of course most welcome anytime as well.”

Der Spiegel Online added on July 10:

“Barack Obama’s campaign team has responded to Angela Merkel’s apparent discomfort over his bid to hold a speech at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. A spokesman for the chancellor said his choice to hold the speech at the historic setting was ‘odd’ and that Merkel has ‘little sympathy for the Brandenburg Gate being used for electioneering and has expressed her doubts about the idea.’… Ultimately, the decision on whether Obama can speak at the Brandenburg Gate will be made by the government of the city of Berlin. According to report in the Friday edition of the Hannoverschen Neuen Presse newspaper, city officials in Berlin’s Mitte district have reserved the Brandenburg Gate for the Democratic Party politician on July 24. Mayor Klaus Wowereit has also expressed his support for using the site for Obama’s speech.”

Worldwide Food, Fuel and Financial Crises–Man-Made Catastrophes

On July 4, 2008, the EUObserver reported the following:

“As the head of the World Bank [Robert Zoellick] warns world leaders that the planet is entering the ‘danger zone’ with millions thrown into extreme poverty by the twin food and fuel crises, a leaked report from his organisation shows that biofuels have pushed up global food prices by 75 percent – a much bigger role in the disaster than previously thought… ‘What we are witnessing is not a natural disaster – a silent tsunami or a perfect storm. It is a man-made catastrophe and as such must be fixed by people,’ [Mr. Zoellick] said in the letter.”

The EarthTimes wrote on July 6:

“The global financial crisis could lead to losses of 1,600 billion dollars for financial institutes, according [to] a report in the Swiss Sunday newspaper SonntagsZeitung. It quoted a confidential study by the hedge fund Bridgewater Associates as saying losses for banks holding risky assets could be four times greater than the 400 billion dollars previously estimated… The value of such risky assets is 26,600 billion dollars, according to the hedge fund. The losses would amount to 1,600 billion dollars if these assets were valued at market rates and not in the form of securitization, the newspaper said.”

“The U.S. Dollar Is Mighty No More”

The Associated Press reported on July 7:

“The almighty dollar is mighty no more. It has been declining steadily for six years against other major currencies, undercutting its role as the leading international banking currency. The long slide is fanning inflation at home and playing a major role in the run-up of oil and gasoline prices everywhere… Everything made in America — from goods to entire companies — is near dirt cheap to many foreigners. Meanwhile, American consumers, both those who travel and those who stay at home, are seeing big price increases in energy, food and imported goods.

“The dollar has lost roughly a quarter of its purchasing power against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners from its peak in 2002. Since oil is bought and sold in dollars worldwide, the devalued dollar has made the recent surge in energy prices even worse for Americans, leading to $4 gasoline in the United States…

“The loss of the dollar’s purchasing power and international respect has some experts worrying that the euro might one day replace the dollar as the so-called primary reserve currency. And that could trigger a dollar rout as foreign governments and international investors flee from U.S. Treasury bonds and other dollar-denominated investments.

“Making matters worse: The gaping U.S. current-account deficit — the amount by which the value of goods, services and investments bought in the U.S. from overseas exceeds the amount the U.S. sells abroad — and the low levels of domestic savings means that foreigners must purchase more than $3 billion every business day to fund the imbalance. Since roughly half of the nation’s nearly $10 trillion national debt is held by foreigners, mostly in Treasury bills and bonds, such a withdrawal could have enormous consequences…

“The dollar has fallen so far, it will be difficult to halt or reverse its slide. U.S. efforts to persuade Saudi Arabia and other major oil-producing nations to increase their production — and help ease pressure on both oil prices and the dollar — have brought scant results…”

“Conflicting” Messages of the British Government

The Independent reported on July 7:

“The Government is to launch a campaign to stamp out Britain’s waste food mountains as part of a global effort to curb spiralling food prices. Supermarkets will be urged to drop ‘three for two’ deals on food that encourage shoppers into bulk-buying more than they need, often leading to the surpluses being thrown away. The scandal of the vast mountains of food that are thrown away in Britain while other parts of the world starve is revealed in a Cabinet Office report today. It calls for a reduction in food waste: up to 40 per cent of groceries can be lost before they are consumed due to poor processing, storage and transport…

“Gordon Brown said he would make action to tackle the soaring cost of food a priority at the G8 summit starting today in Japan. ‘If we are to get food prices down, we must do more to deal with unnecessary demand, such as by all of us doing more to cut our food waste which is costing the average household in Britain around £8 per week,’ he told journalists on board the plane to the summit.”

However, as the Telegraph reported on July 8, Mr. Brown’s conduct at the summit was in sharp conflict with his words:

“Gordon Brown and his fellow world leaders have sparked outrage after it was disclosed they enjoyed a six-course lunch followed by an eight-course dinner at the G8 summit where the global food crisis tops the agenda. The Prime Minister was served 24 different dishes during his first day at the summit – just hours after urging the world to reduce the ‘unnecessary demand’ for food and calling on British families to cut back on their wasteful use of food…

“The dinner consisted of 18 dishes in eight courses including caviar, smoked salmon, Kyoto beef and a ‘G8 fantasy dessert’. The banquet was accompanied by five different wines from around the world including champagne, a French Bourgogne and sake.

“African leaders including the heads of Ethiopia, Tanzania and Senegal who had taken part in talks during the day were not invited to the function…

“Dominic Nutt, of Save the Children, said: ‘It is deeply hypocritical that they should be lavishing course after course on world leaders when there is a food crisis and millions cannot afford a decent meal to eat.’… The Prime Minister’s spokesman declined to comment on the menus.”

Anglican Bishops and Members to Flock to Catholic Church?

The Sunday Telegraph wrote on July 6:

“Senior Church of England bishops have held secret talks with Vatican officials to discuss the crisis in the Anglican communion over gays and women bishops. They met senior advisers of the Pope in an attempt to build closer ties with the Roman Catholic Church… Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was not told of the talks and the disclosure will be a fresh blow to his efforts to prevent a major split in the Church of England.

“In highly confidential discussions, a group of conservative bishops expressed their dismay at the liberal direction of the Church of England and their fear for its future. They met members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the most powerful of the Vatican’s departments, the successor to the medieval Inquisition, which enforces doctrine and was headed by Pope Benedict XVI before his election.”

Meanwhile, Sky News reported on July 7:

“The Church of England’s ruling body has voted to go ahead with the ordination of women bishops… Sky News correspondent Mike McCarthy said: ‘It’s a historic and very significant moment for the Church of England. The real test now is how many people will leave (the Church). There are certainly going to be many wrestling with their consciences.’… A total of 1,333 clergy have threatened to leave the Church of England if they are not given legal safeguards to set up a network of parishes that would remain under male leadership.”

Deutsche Welle reported on July 8 that “The Vatican has strongly criticised the Church of England’s plan to ordain women bishops, describing it as a historic break from Christian doctrine that will drive Anglicans and Catholics further apart.”

The Telegraph added on July 8:

“The Bishop of Ebbsfleet… Andrew Burnham, is to lead his fellow Anglo-Catholics from the Church of England into the Roman Catholic Church… Bishop Burnham, one of two ‘flying bishops’ in the province of Canterbury, has made a statement asking Pope Benedict XVI and the English Catholic bishops for ‘magnanimous gestures’ that will allow traditionalists to become Catholics en masse. He is confident that this will happen, following talks in Rome with Cardinal Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Cardinal Kasper, the Vatican’s head of ecumenism…

“Bishop Burnham hopes that Rome will offer special arrangements whereby former Anglicans can stay worshipping in parishes under the guidance of a Catholic bishop. Most of these parishes already use the Roman liturgy, but there may be provision for Anglican prayers if churches request it. Anglican priests who are already married will not be barred from ordination as priests, though Bishop Burnham would not be able to continue in episcopal orders, as he is married and there is an absolute bar on married bishops in the Roman and Orthodox Churches.”

The Powers of the Vatican Court

CNN reported on July 5:

“A fake priest was caught trying to hear confessions in St. Peter’s Basilica and was tried by a Vatican tribunal, a Vatican judge said in an interview published Saturday. Judge Gianluigi Marrone, who is a member of the court system of the independent Vatican city-state, said the man was wearing clerical garb and carried documents alleging that he was a priest… ‘It was a case of usurping an ecclesiastical title, and thus he was tried by our tribunal,’ the judge added…

“[He] didn’t say when the incident happened, what the tribunal’s verdict was or if the man received punishment… Last year, Italian news reports said that… the Vatican court system issued a drug conviction, giving a former employee of the Holy See a four-month suspended sentence for possession of cocaine.”

Why the World Will NOT End in 2012

AOL published the following on July 6, under “Weird News”:

“Survival groups around the world are gearing up and counting down to a mysterious date that has been anticipated for thousands of years: Dec. 21, 2012. Across the United States, Canada and throughout Europe, apocalyptic sects and individuals say that is the day that the world as we know it will end…

“Ancient Mayan societies, known for their advanced mathematics and astronomy, followed a ‘long count’ calendar that lasted 5,126 years. When their charts are translated to the Gregorian calendar, the international standard used today, time runs out on Dec. 21, 2012.

“Believers say there are other links besides just the Mayan calendar that portend catastrophe. The sun will be aligned with the center of the Milky Way for the first time in about 26,000 years on the same day, which marks the winter solstice. Some say that will disrupt the energy flow to Earth, or that the high rate of sunspots or sun flares that NASA has predicted for 2012 could affect Earth magnetic fields. Scientists have tried to squash the doomsday scenario as another empty prophesy, but it’s clear there are thousands who consider the possibility of a worldwide catastrophe occurring on that date very real…

“Searching for ‘2012 the end of the world’ on Google brings up nearly 700,000 hits. More than 6,500 video posts about the day have been posted on YouTube… ‘These prophecies of doom really don’t have any basis in what we know about the Maya,’ said Stephen Houston, an anthropology professor at Brown University and an expert in Maya hieroglyphic writing. ‘The Maya descriptions barely talk about this event.’ He said the Mayans saw their calendar coming to an end on the date, but then starting over without any catastrophes.'”

Jesus said very clearly that we do NOT know the time of His return and the end of the present civilization. So, we can dogmatically say that it will not be on or about December 21, 2012. Christ said He would return at a time when we DON’T expect it!

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