Current Events

Dangerous War Preparations

The International Herald Tribune wrote on September 14:

“The Bush administration is pushing through a broad array of foreign weapons deals as it seeks to re-arm Iraq and Afghanistan, contain North Korea and Iran, and solidify ties with onetime Russian allies. From tanks, helicopters and fighter jets to missiles, remotely piloted aircraft and even warships, the Department of Defense has agreed so far this fiscal year to sell or transfer more than $32 billion in weapons and other military equipment to foreign governments, compared with $12 billion in 2005. The trend, which started in 2006, is most pronounced in the Middle East, but it reaches into northern Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and even Canada… 

“The United States is far from the only country pushing sophisticated weapons systems: It is facing intense competition from Russia and elsewhere in Europe, including continuing contests for multibillion-dollar deals to sell fighter jets to India and Brazil…

“About 60 countries get annual military aid from the United States, $4.5 billion a year, to help them buy these American weapons. Israel and Egypt receive more than 80 percent of that aid. The United States has also recently given Iraq and Afghanistan large amounts of weapons and other equipment…

“The United States has long been the top arms supplier to the world. In the past several years, however, the list of nations that rely on the United States as a primary source of major weapons systems has greatly expanded. Among the recent additions are Argentina, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Georgia, India, Iraq, Morocco and Pakistan… Cumulatively, these countries signed $870 million worth of arms deals with the United States from 2001 to 2004. For the past four fiscal years, that total has been $13.8 billion…

“In the Gulf region, much of the re-armament is driven by fears of Iran. The United Arab Emirates, for example, are considering spending as much as $16 billion on U.S.-made missile defense systems… Saudi Arabia, this fiscal year alone, has signed at least $6 billion worth of sales agreements to buy weapons from the U.S. government – the highest figure for that country since 1993, which was another peak year in U.S. weapons sales, after the Gulf War. Israel, long a major buyer of U.S. military equipment, is also increasing its orders, including planned purchases of perhaps as many as four American-made coastal warships, worth $1.9 billion.”

Israel Prepares for a Strike Against Iran

The Jerusalem Post wrote on September 14:

“The US Department of Defense has notified Congress of a potential sale to Israel of 1,000 smart bombs capable of penetrating underground bunkers, which would likely be used in the event of a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities… The bomb Israel wants is the GBU-39, developed in recent years by the US as a small-diameter bomb for low-cost, high-precision and low-collateral damage strikes. Israel has also asked for 150 mounting carriages, 30 guided test vehicles and two instructors to train the air force in loading the bombs on its aircraft.

“The GPS-guided GBU-39 is said to be one of the most accurate bombs in the world… Tests conducted in the US have proven that the bomb is capable of penetrating at least 90 cm. of steel-reinforced concrete…

“In its recommendation to Congress, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency wrote that Israel’s strategic position was ‘vital to the United States’ interests throughout the Middle East.’… The agency’s announcement came amid growing concern that the Pentagon was not willing to sell Israel advanced military platforms such as bunker-buster missiles in an effort to dissuade Jerusalem from attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities. Bunker-buster missiles would be a fundamental component of an air strike against Iran, since many of the nuclear facilities, such as the Natanz uranium enrichment complex, have been built in underground, heavily fortified bunkers.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to Become New Prime Minister?

BBC News reported on September 18:

“Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is beginning the task of putting together a new government after her election as leader of the ruling Kadima party. She has 42 days to form a coalition and replace Ehud Olmert as prime minister… The Islamist movement, Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said it expected no change in Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians… The centre-right opposition Likud party of former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, which is currently leading in the polls, immediately called for a general election…

“If she can form a fresh governing coalition within the next six weeks, Ms Livni will become Israel’s first woman prime minister since Golda Meir stepped down in 1974. The BBC’s Tim Franks in Jerusalem says that will be no easy task, and if it were to end in failure, general elections will follow in a further three months.”

Russia’s Provocations Continue… While Europe Gives In… Again…

Deutsche Welle reported on September 17:

“Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed friendship treaties with Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia on Wednesday and promised them the backing of Russia’s armed forces… The deals were signed in the face of widespread global condemnation of Russia’s incursion into Georgia… In a speech after the signing ceremony in the Kremlin, Medvedev said Russia was committed to defending Abkhazia and South Ossetia from any Georgian attempts to reclaim the two enclaves. Georgia has insisted the two regions be returned to Tbilisi’s control…

“Just hours after the signing of the treaties, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the European Union may resume talks on a cooperation agreement with Russia, even if Moscow maintains a military presence in Georgia’s separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. On Sept. 1, EU leaders attending an emergency summit in Brussels agreed to postpone talks on a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with Russia until Russian troops ‘have withdrawn to the positions held prior to Aug. 7.'”

The EUObserver reported on September 17:

“France, Germany, Spain and Italy are leaning toward pulling Georgia and Ukraine into the EU over the next 10 or more years, but keeping them out of NATO to avoid antagonising Russia. The UK is keen on both NATO and EU membership for the pair, Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza writes.”

With the exception of the UK and some Eastern European states, Europe’s conduct in this entire affair has been deplorable. Europe’s cowardice towards Russia has been clearly dictated by political and economic interests, and Europe has demonstrated that it is willing to turn its back on an ally in the pursuit of its own purposes.

Russia’s Alliances with Iran, Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua

The Times wrote on September 18:

“Russia snubbed its nose at the United States today by announcing plans to sell military equipment to both Iran and Venezuela… Reports have circulated for some time that Russia is preparing to sell its S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Iran, offering greater protection against a possible US or Israeli attack on the Islamic republic’s nuclear facilities. The missiles have a range of more than 150 kilometres and can intercept jets approaching at low altitudes.

“Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies in Moscow, said that it was logical to conclude a lucrative contract with Iran ‘in the current situation, when the US and the West in general are stubbornly gearing toward a confrontation with Russia.’ Russia has already delivered 29 Tor-M1 missile systems under a $700 million deal with Iran in 2005.

“Sergei Chemezov, the head of state-owned Russian Technologies also disclosed that Venezuela’s leader Hugo Chavez wanted to buy anti-aircraft systems, armoured personnel carriers, and new SU-35 fighter jets when they come into production in 2010… Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, one of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s closest allies, has visited Venezuela and Cuba this week… Mr Sechin travelled to Nicaragua yesterday as part of Russia’s efforts to revive its influence on America’s doorstep in Latin America. Nicaragua was the only state to join Russia in recognising the independence of Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia…”

Palin Ready to Go to War With Russia?

The EUObserver wrote on September 9:

“US Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has backed Georgia’s NATO membership in a television interview, while leaving open the option of war with Russia if it were to attack a NATO ally. In an interview with ABC News, Ms Palin was asked whether the United States would have to go to war with Russia if it invaded Georgia, and the country was part of NATO, Ms Palin said: ‘Perhaps so’…

“Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned on Thursday (11 September)… that tensions between Russia and the EU may well worsen if the planned US missile defense shield is deployed in Poland, threatening yet once more to point Russian missiles at European targets… Mr Putin fiercely defended Russia’s invasion of Georgia, accusing the West of ‘anti-Russian hysteria’ and saying that if this military operation had not been carried out, it would have been like Russia ‘getting a bloody nose and hanging its head down.'”

How German Paper “Die Welt” Saw Palin’s Interview With ABC

Die Welt wrote on September 12:

“Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s assertion that she believes humans play a role in climate change – made in her first major interview since joining the Republican ticket – is at odds with her previous statements… ‘Show me where I have ever said that there’s absolute proof that nothing that man has ever conducted or engaged in has had any effect or no effect on climate change. I have not said that,’ Palin told ABC News in an interview broadcast Thursday and Friday. However, in the past Palin has said she does not believe global warming is caused by human activity. She has told the Internet news site Newsmax, ‘A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location. … I’m not one, though, who would attribute it to being man-made…’

“She also… [a]ppeared unsure of the Bush doctrine – essentially that the United States must help spread democracy to stop terrorism and that the nation will act pre-emptively to stop potential foes. Asked whether she agreed with that, Palin said: ‘In what respect, Charlie?’ Gibson pressed her for an interpretation of it. She said: ‘His world view.’ That prompted Gibson to say ‘no, the Bush doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq war’ and describe it to her… Asked three times what her position would be if Israel felt threatened enough to attack Iranian nuclear facilities, Palin repeatedly said the United States shouldn’t ‘second guess’ Israel’s steps to secure itself.”

U.S. Faces “Once-in-a-Century” Financial Crisis

AFP reported on September 14:

“The United States is mired in a ‘once-in-a century’ financial crisis… former Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan said… [adding] that the crisis… still had a long way to go and would continue to effect home prices in the United States… Asked whether the crisis, which has seen the US government step in to bail out mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, was the worst of his career, Greenspan replied ‘Oh, by far’… [He] also predicted that the financial crisis would see the failure of more major financial institutions, even as embattled Wall Street investment giant Lehman Brothers scrambled to find a buyer.”

U.S. Financial Mess Deepens

Reuters reported on September 15:

“Global markets plummeted on Monday after investment bank Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy protection, rival Merrill Lynch agreed to be taken over and the Federal Reserve threw a life line to the battered financial industry… a deepening crisis took new, bigger victims…

“The events signal a seismic shift in Wall Street’s power structure with big name investment banks biting the dust and major banks like Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase becoming the survivors. ‘It’s a return to pure capitalism, the survival of the fittest — the government can’t and won’t bail everybody out,’ said Justin Urquhart Stewart, investment director at 7 Investment Management in London. Bank of America agreed to buy Merrill Lynch in an all-stock deal worth $50 billion, seeking a bargain as the world’s largest retail brokerage sought refuge from fears it could be the next victim.

“‘It’s just shockingly fast how it happened,’ an employee for Merrill in Asia said. ‘It’s hard to believe there will be no more Merrill Lynch,’ he said…

“Asian and European stock markets tumbled… Shares in U.S. banks trading in Frankfurt tumbled… The euro jumped to as high as $1.4479, up 1.7 percent from Friday, while U.S. Treasury yields dropped to five-month lows…

“With Lehman and Merrill out of the picture, three of the top five U.S. investment banks have effectively departed the scene inside six months…

“Britain’s Barclays emerged as a front-runner to buy Lehman late on Sunday after Bank of America pulled back, but it was deterred by the U.S. government’s unwillingness to provide a financial backstop to potential losses.

“The New York Times also reported that AIG, once the world’s largest insurer, had made an approach to the Federal Reserve seeking $40 billion in short-term financing…

“One of the catalysts for this weekend’s events was the stance of U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who opposed using government money to resolve the Lehman crisis after a week earlier bailing out mortgage lenders Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, wary of accusation of encouraging excessive risk-taking by bailing out the bank.”

“Black Sunday” Affects Europe

Der Spiegel Online reported on September 15:

“Financial authorities tried to shore up confidence on Monday as world markets plummeted following ‘Black Sunday’ on Wall Street where Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy protection and Bank of America took over Merrill Lynch.

“Europe’s big central banks pumped liquidity into the financial system to calm investors… The European Central Bank conducted a one-day tender for €30 billion… The Bank of England and Swiss National Bank also provided liquidity as Asian and European stock markets tumbled. The FTSEurofirst 300 index of leading European shares fell 5 percent, led by falling bank stocks such as UBS, down 10 percent. The Dax index of leading German [banks] fell as much as 4.7 percent to its lowest level in two years.
“Fears of a global crash swept through markets on Monday… The German finance ministry, the Bundesbank central bank and the Bafin financial supervisory authority all tried to restore calm in German markets with a joint statement saying the exposure of German banks to Lehman was manageable.”

For further discussion on the worldwide financial crisis, listen to our new StandingWatch program on Global Depression. It is posted on StandingWatch, Google Video and YouTube.

U.S. Housing Market Still Very Unstable

The Wall Street Journal wrote on September 17:

“A steep decline in new home construction last month to a 17-year low suggests that the hoped-for stabilization of the housing market — key to boosting the U.S. economy — is still a ways off. Construction of new homes dropped by 6.2% in August to a seasonally adjusted 895,000 annual rate, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Construction of multifamily units fell sharply. Single-family home construction fell by a smaller amount…”

Stocks Fall and Gold Rises, as Federal Reserve Bails Out AIG

The Associated Press reported on September 17:

“Gold prices soared Wednesday, notching the biggest one-day advance ever as mounting credit market turmoil prodded jittery investors to pull money out of equities and into safe-haven assets. Gold’s huge rally came as the government moved overnight to rescue troubled insurer American International Group Inc. with an $85 million bailout loan. The Federal Reserve stepped in after AIG, teetering on collapse from losses tied to the subprime crisis and the credit crisis, failed to find adequate capital in the private sector.

“Fearing more tightening of credit markets, investors reacted swiftly and began dumping stocks and socking money into gold, silver and other safe-haven commodities. Gold is especially attractive during times of crisis because the metal is known for holding its value.”

AIG Bailout–Abuse of Taxpayer Money?

Die Welt wrote on September 17:

“For the second time this month, the U.S. government intervened to bail out a private financial company, saying the failure of the huge insurer American International Group Inc. would further disrupt markets and threaten the already fragile economy… The Federal Reserve said Tuesday it would provide up to $85 billion in an emergency, two-year loan to rescue AIG… In return, the government will get a 79.9 percent stake in AIG and the right to remove senior management.

“The move was similar to the government’s seizure on Sept. 7 of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, where the Treasury Department said it was prepared to put up as much as $100 billion over time in each of the companies if needed to keep them from going broke. Both moves were bound to raise questions about the use of taxpayer money to bail out private firms…

“The decision to help AIG marked a reversal from the government’s move over the weekend, when it refused to use taxpayer money to bail out Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. Lehman, which filed for bankruptcy protection Monday, collapsed under the weight of mounting losses related to its real estate holdings…

“The central bank also pumped $70 billion into the nation’s financial system to help ease credit stresses. In emergency sessions over the weekend, the Fed expanded its loan programs to Wall Street firms, part of an ongoing effort to get credit flowing more freely…”

The Collapse of Lehman and AIG–Bad and Good News for Europe?

Der Spiegel Online wrote on September 17:

“America’s central bank has saved Wall Street insurance giant AIG from failure, but a federally insured German fund could be facing €6 billion in liabilities following the collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers…

“World markets Wednesday briefly reversed their slides after a sudden bailout by the United States Federal Reserve of the American insurance giant American International Group (AIG) — which on Tuesday joined Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch in a brutal series of Wall Street failures. But by late morning, Germany’s blue chip DAX index was headed south again, with investors doubting that the worst is over…

“Stock markets have been sliding worldwide since Bank of America announced a deal to buy Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday. The Lehman failure is said to be the largest bankruptcy in history and it could also have massive implications for Germany. Lehman Brothers’ German subsidiary is a member of the Deposit Guarantee Fund of the Association of German Banks (BdB); and the fund, backed by Germany’s biggest banks, could be required to cover up to €6 billion of Lehman’s liabilities… The fund’s liability can only be reduced if parts of Lehman’s German subsidiary are sold — and that could present a serious problem.

“According to Germany’s Finance Ministry, the Deposit Guarantee Fund has only $4.6 billion at its disposal… Experts noted… that if the amount reaches €6 billion it would be the largest single loss in the history of a German fund…

“On Tuesday, news emerged that the German state lender KfW had transferred €300 million to Lehman Brothers the day it filed for bankruptcy in an erroneous swap — a transaction in which two parties agree to exchange one stream of cash flows against another, according to Reuters. The transfer exposed the government lender to €300 million in losses, triggering criticism from the Finance Ministry, which demanded a ‘swift explanation of such a technical failure.’

“But other German companies viewed Monday’s development and the announcement of the AIG bailout as an opportunity to step into the lucrative American financial market — just as the British bank Barclays announced a deal to buy Lehman Brothers’ core businesses for what the New York Times described as a ‘fire-sale price’ of $1.75 billion.

“AIG provides insurance not just for consumers but also for large Wall Street investment firms against just the sort of credit crisis that has brought Lehman and Merrill to their knees. German insurance giants like Allianz and Munich Re are openly on the lookout for Lehman-style bargains… given a strong euro and a relatively weak dollar…”

Washington Mutual for Sale?

The Associated Press reported on September 18:

“Ailing bank Washington Mutual Inc. appeared headed toward a sale Wednesday… The New York Times, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter, said an auction of the bank was already under way, and The Wall Street Journal reported Wells Fargo & Co. and Citigroup Inc. expressed interest in a takeover. WaMu, Wells Fargo and Citigroup all declined to comment…

“After losing $6.3 billion in the past three quarters, Washington Mutual believes it is slowly healing under a new chief executive, Alan Fishman, who will receive an $8 million bonus if he can keep WaMu alive through 2009… Nonetheless, analysts still expect the company to sustain a loss of about $1.8 billion in the quarter ending Sept. 30… The company’s stock fell 31 cents to $2.01 Wednesday, leaving the stock price with a decline of 85 percent so far this year. The erosion has left WaMu with a market value of about $3.5 billion—down from $43 billion at the end of 2006.”

“Who Will Bail Out Uncle Sam?”

CBS reported on September 17:

“The federal government may seem like a financial knight on a white steed riding to the rescue of big companies in trouble. The irony is that Uncle Sam’s got enormous money problems of his own. The government is far deeper in debt than any of the companies it’s bailing out.

“As of this morning, the national debt stands at over $9.634 trillion. That’s trillion – with a ‘T.’ And that’s nearly $4 trillion more than it was on the day President Bush took office. This year alone, it’s costing taxpayers more than $230 billion just to pay the interest on the national debt.

“And it’s getting bigger every day thanks to the relentless rush of the government spending money it has to borrow. The federal deficit for the fiscal year ending September 30 is expected in the range of $400 billion – close to the all-time high. In fact, the government doesn’t have the $85 billion needed to bailout insurance giant American International Group. The treasury department announced this morning it would auction new debt to raise funds for the Federal Reserve’s rescue plan for AIG… But where does the federal government go when it needs a bailout? Taxpayers need only look in the mirror.”

“The Greatest Destruction of Financial Wealth the World Has EVER Seen”

The Washington Post wrote on September 17:

“Having pumped $100 billion into the banking system, and lent another $115 billion to rescue Bear Stearns and AIG, the Federal Reserve was forced to ask the Treasury yesterday to borrow some extra money to replenish its coffers… This is what a Category 4 financial crisis looks like. Giant blue-chip financial institutions swept away in a matter of days. Banks refusing to lend to other banks. Russia closing its stock market to stop the panicked selling. Gold soaring $70 in a single trading session. Developing countries’ currencies in a free fall. Money market funds warning they might not be able to return every dollar invested. Daily swings of three, four, five hundred points in the Dow Jones industrial average.

“What we are witnessing may be the greatest destruction of financial wealth that the world has ever seen…”

“In the end, however, there is only so much the government can borrow and so much the government can do. The only other choice is for Americans to finally put their spending in line with their incomes and their need for long-term savings… But if everyone cuts back at roughly the same time, a recession is almost inevitable. That’s a bitter pill in and of itself, involving lost jobs, lower incomes and a big hit to government tax revenues. But it could be serious trouble for regional and local banks that have balance sheets loaded with loans to local developers and builders who will be hard hit by an economic downturn. Think of that… as the inevitable second round of this financial crisis that, alas, still lies ahead.”

The New York Times added on September 18:

“The Dow industrials closed up more than 400 points [on Thursday], but there was little relief from the paralysis that has gripped the credit markets.”

US FINANCIAL CRISIS–“The World As We Know It Is Going Under”

Der Spiegel wrote on September 19:

“Panic is the word of the hour on Wall Street…

“The bad news on Wall Street was coming thick and fast. All the US indexes were crashing again after Tuesday’s brief and deceptive breather. In its wild, rollercoaster ride, the Dow Jones lost about 450 points, which was almost as much as it lost on Monday, the most catastrophic day on US markets since 2001… Things got worse after the markets closed. Washington Mutual, America’s fourth-largest bank, announced that it had started the process of putting itself up for sale. The Wall Street Journal reported that both Wells Fargo and the banking giant Citigroup were interested in taking over the battered American savings bank.

“And then came the announcement that would dominate all of Thursday’s market activities: Morgan Stanley — the venerable Wall Street institution and one of the last two US investment banks left standing — had lost massive amounts and was fighting for survival. Media reports were saying that it was even in talks about a possible bail-out or merger. Rumor had it that possible suitors might include Wachovia or China’s Bank Citic…

“In fact, it really does look as if the foundations of US capitalism have shattered. Since 1864, American banking has been split into commercial banks and investment banks. But now that’s changing. Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch — overnight, some of the biggest names on Wall Street have disappeared into thin air. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are the only giants left standing. Despite tolerable quarterly results, even they have been hurt by mysterious slumps in prices and — at least in Morgan Stanley’s case — have prepared themselves for the end…

“Many are drawing comparisons with the Great Depression, the national trauma that has been the benchmark for everything since. ‘I think it has the chance to be the worst period of time since 1929,’ financing legend Donald Trump told CNN. And the Wall Street Journal seconds that opinion, giving one story the title: ‘Worst Crisis Since ’30s, With No End Yet in Sight.’

“… the era of the unbridled free-market economy in the US has passed — at least for now. The near nationalization of AIG, America’s largest insurance company, with an $85 billion cash infusion — a bill footed by taxpayers — was a staggering move. The sum is three times as high as the guarantee provided by the Federal Reserve when Bear Stearns was sold to JPMorgan Chase in March…

“The situation appears to be so serious that George W. Bush cancelled two domestic trips he had planned for Thursday on short notice. Instead, the president will remain in Washington to discuss the ‘serious challenges confronting US financial markets.’…

“So far, the US presidential candidates have made few helpful remarks about the crisis other than the usual slogans… Republican Party presidential candidate John McCain had the most to say. On Monday, he said ‘the foundation of our economy’ was ‘strong,’ adding that he opposed a government-led bailout of US insurer AIG. But now he’s promising further government steps ‘to prevent the kind of wild speculation that can put our markets at risk.’ McCain’s explanation for the current crisis: ‘unbridled corruption and greed.’

“But Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama didn’t move past superficialities, either. ‘We’re Americans. We’ve met tough challenges before and we can again.’ What else are they supposed to say? After all, US presidents have very little influence on stockmarkets. And Wall Street is expecting the status quo for the next president…”

Terrible Aftermath of Hurricane Ike

The Associated Press reported on September 16:

 “More Hurricane Ike relief was on the way for evacuees Tuesday as tens of thousands of people waited for food, water and ice, for the electricity to return to their homes or for their first hot meal and shower… Many service stations have no gasoline, and some major highways remain under water. More than 30,000 evacuees are still living in nearly 300 public shelters, and roughly 2 million people in Texas alone are without power…

“A curfew remains in force for Houston, barring people from being on city streets from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., and officials were working to prevent looting and theft…

“Officials on the barrier island said it could be months before the city of Galveston reopens. The main gas and a primary electric transmission line to the island were severely damaged… Officials warned that mosquito-borne diseases could begin to spread… Across the entrance to Galveston Bay on Bolivar Peninsula, a resort community where entire neighborhoods were obliterated by the height of Ike’s storm surge, only one or two buildings remained standing in the town of Gilchrist. Aaron Reed, a spokesman for Texas Parks and Wildlife, said the town ‘is almost completely gone. Like somebody took a razor and went pffft.'”

Lawful Excuse to Intentionally Destroy Property Over Global Warming Dispute?

The Independent wrote on September 11:

“The threat of global warming is so great that campaigners were justified in causing more than £35,000 worth of damage to a coal-fired power station, a jury decided yesterday. In a verdict that will have shocked ministers and energy companies the jury at Maidstone Crown Court cleared six Greenpeace activists of criminal damage.

“Jurors accepted defence arguments that the six had a ‘lawful excuse’ to damage property at Kingsnorth power station in Kent to prevent even greater damage caused by climate change. The defence of ‘lawful excuse’ under the Criminal Damage Act 1971 allows damage to be caused to property to prevent even greater damage – such as breaking down the door of a burning house to tackle a fire…”

Pope Benedict in France

AFP reported on September 12:

“Pope Benedict XVI Friday threw his weight behind a call by President Nicolas Sarkozy to rethink the strict separation of religion and state in France, the ‘eldest daughter’ of the Catholic Church. Bells tolled across Paris to greet the arrival of the leader of the world’s one billion Roman Catholics, whose four-day visit comes as France faces a freefall in the number of churchgoers despite its deep Christian heritage… Sarkozy, a twice-divorced lapsed Catholic, defended his vision in presence of the pope, saying it would be ‘madness’ to ‘deprive ourselves’ of religion.”

NPR reported on September 12:

“Pope Benedict has arrived for his first visit to France, which has 35 million baptized Catholics. Polls show the French have lost much of their sense of belonging to the church though Catholicism remains by far the country’s No. 1 religion.”

Reuters added on September 13:

“Pope Benedict prayed on Saturday at the site where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a French peasant girl 150 years ago… At Lourdes, Benedict prayed in the grotto where Saint Bernadette Soubirous said she had seen the Madonna 18 times in 1858, and drank water from a spring that believers say has healing powers. In the past 150 years, the Church has recognized as ‘miracles’ 67 medically inexplicable healings of sick pilgrims who visited Lourdes…

“At mass on Saturday morning in Paris, the pope told more than a quarter of a million people that the modern world had turned money, possessions and power into idols as false as the gold and silver statues worshipped by the pagans of antiquity… ‘Has it not imitated, perhaps inadvertently, the pagans of antiquity, by diverting man from his true end, from the joy of living eternally with God,’ he said in fluent French, wearing gold, white and red vestments. Benedict, who arrived in France on Friday, celebrated the mass at Les Invalides, a complex of military buildings begun by King Louis XIV in the 17th century that houses the sarcophagus of Napoleon Bonaparte…

“Since he arrived on Friday, the pope has been encouraging Catholics to speak out confidently in a country where ‘laicite’, the separation of church and state that often relegates faith to the private sphere, is part of the national psyche. The once powerful French church struggles with a shortage of priests and Sunday mass attendance is below 10 percent. But religion has re-emerged as a factor in public life, especially because of the growth of Islam, and French Catholics have increasingly spoken out on social issues.”

Due to more “miracles, signs and wonders,” which will be in some way attributed to the “Virgin Mary” and the present or future leader of the Roman Catholic Church, the number of practicing Roman Catholics in France–and around the world–will greatly increase in coming years. Also, the fact that Pope Benedict celebrated mass at Les Invalides where Napoleon I is buried, is highly significant. Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte represented the fifth revival of the HOLY Roman Empire (a confederation of Church and State)–or the eighth resurrection of the ancient Roman Empire. For more information, please listen to our Public Bible Lecture, which is posted on Google Video and titled, “Public Bible Lecture: Europe in Prophecy” and read our free booklet on “Europe in Prophecy.”

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