Current Events

“Hamas Leader Praises Iran’s Help”

CNN reported on February 1:

“Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal on Sunday praised Iran for helping Hamas achieve ‘victory’ over Israel in Gaza… ‘The victory of the people of Gaza was a miracle of God and the Islamic Republic definitely has a share in this victory,’ Meshaal said after meeting with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei…

“Khamenei congratulated Meshaal, saying, ‘The people of Gaza and the Islamic Resistance made us all proud and with their patience and perseverance successfully passed this very difficult test.’ The Iranian leader stressed that the war in Gaza has not yet ended, noting that ‘the Islamic Resistance must, with full alertness and in proper ways, prepare itself fully for the possibility of the beginning of another war…’ Iran has supported Hamas during and since the 22-day Israeli military operation.”

Israel’s Gaza War “Preintroduction” to Tackle Nuclear Iran

The Australian wrote on January 31:

“Israel’s ambassador to Australia [Yuval Rotem] has described his country’s military offensives in Gaza as a ‘preintroduction’ to tackling the military threat posed by a nuclear-equipped Iran… Mr Rotem told those gathered he expected Iran to stockpile enough uranium over the next 14 months to ‘be at the point of no return.'”

Olmert Threatens Gaza with Disproportionate Response

Deutsche Welle reported on February 2:

“Israeli aircraft have again bombed Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in spite of the de facto truce in place since Jan. 18, which ended Israel’s 22-day offensive in the coastal enclave. Sporadic rockets attacks from Hamas have continued since the ceasefire with ten such attacks occurring in the last 24 hours prompting Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, to threaten Gaza with a ‘disproportionate response’…”

Welt on Line reported on February 2:

“Defence Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday that Israel does not intend to launch another broad operation in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip… His comments clashed with statements on Sunday by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni who said that, if necessary, Israel would mount a new offensive in the Gaza Strip to choke off cross-border rocket fire. Both Barak, head of the centre-left Labour Party, and Livni, chairman of the ruling, centrist Kadima party, are candidates for prime minister in Israel’s Feb. 10 election. Opinion polls forecast victory for right-winger Benjamin Netanyahu of Likud.”

Netanyahu Would Do “Everything Necessary” To Prevent Iran Getting Nuclear

The Associated Press reported on February 1:

“Benjamin Netanyahu… said Saturday that Iran ‘will not be armed with a nuclear weapon.’… Netanyahu said if elected prime minister his first mission will be to thwart the Iranian nuclear threat. Netanyahu… called Iran the greatest danger to Israel and to all humanity. When asked if stopping Iran’s nuclear ambitions included a military strike, he replied: ‘It includes everything that is necessary to make this statement come true.'”

Israel Threatens Lebanon

Reuters wrote on February 3:

“During a tour of the northern border on Tuesday, [Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud] Barak addressed concerns that Syria was looking to transfer anti-aircraft missiles to the Lebanon-based militants group [Hezbollah], vowing that Israel would respond to such an illicit deal.

“Bracing for reprisals a year after the assassination of Hezbollah’s military mastermind, Israel said on Tuesday it would hold Lebanon responsible for any such attacks by the guerrilla group…

“The Counter-Terrorism Bureau issued a severe travel warning on Sunday for Israelis abroad… The bureau said it was on high alert due to concrete intelligence that Hezbollah is in advanced stages of preparing an attack against Israelis abroad… Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah… said Hezbollah’s revenge was ‘yet ahead.'”

Due To Mr. Obama’s Position–Israel All Alone Against Iran

The Jerusalem Post wrote on January 29:

“In his first week and a half in office, US President Barack Obama has proven that he is a man of his word. For instance, he was not bluffing when he said during his campaign that he would make reconstituting America’s relations with the Islamic world one of his first priorities in office. Obama’s first phone call to a foreign leader was to PLO chieftain Mahmoud Abbas last Wednesday morning. And this past Tuesday, Obama gave his first television interview as president to the Al-Arabiya pan-Arabic television network.

“… the most significant campaign promise that Obama is wasting no time in keeping is his attempt to diplomatically engage with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Teheran is the central sponsor of the global jihad. Hizbullah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are all Iranian proxies. And, as is becoming increasingly undeniable, al-Qaida too enjoys a close relationship with the mullahs…

“Beyond its sponsorship of terrorism, due to its nuclear weapons program Iran is the largest emerging threat to global security. Together with its genocidal rhetoric against Israel, its calls for the destruction of the US, and its incitement for the overthrow of the governments of Egypt and Jordan, among others, Iran is the single largest source of instability in the region. Moreover, as US Defense Secretary Robert Gates made clear in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, Iran is working actively in South and Central America to destabilize the western hemisphere.

“Obama caused an uproar when during a Democratic primary debate last spring he said that he would meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad without preconditions. In subsequent months, he sought to soften his declaration. It is now apparent that his statement was not a slip of the tongue. It was a pledge…

“On November 6, two days after the US election, Ahmadinejad sent a congratulatory letter to Obama… In general, Iran’s government-controlled media outlets reported that Ahmadinejad’s letter was an ultimatum and that if Obama did not submit to his demands, the US would be destroyed… To summarize, Iran’s conditions for meeting with the Obama administration are that the US abandon Israel (which as Ahmadinejad reiterated at his annual Holocaust denial conference on Tuesday, must be annihilated), and that Obama take no action whatsoever against Iran’s nuclear program…

“If in fact Obama truly intends to move ahead with his plan to engage the mullahs, then he will effectively legitimize – if not adopt – Teheran’s preconditions that the US end its alliance with Israel, which Iran seeks to destroy, and accept a nuclear-armed Iran… Israel is alone in recognizing the necessity of preventing Iran from acquiring the means to destroy the Jewish state. Consequently, [Israel’s new] government will need to proceed with all deliberate speed to take whatever actions are necessary to prevent Israel’s destruction.”

Mr. Obama Already in Negotiations With Iran

AFP reported on January 31:

“US President Barack Obama has already used experts within the last few months to hold high-level but discreet talks with both Iran and Syria… Former defense secretary William Perry, who served in Obama’s election campaign, participated in some of these meetings…”

Germany “Concerned” Over Iran’s Satellite

Deutsche Welle reported on February 3:

“German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier has expressed concern about the launch of Iran’s first domestically built satellite… Steinmeier said that Germany and the permanent members of the UN Security Council would now have to intensify their efforts to dissuade Tehran from developing a nuclear weapons programme… the long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into orbit can also be used for launching weapons, although Iran says it has no plans to do so…”

“Berlin Split Over How to Deal with New US Administration”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on February 2:

“US President Barack Obama is driving a wedge between the parties in Germany’s grand coalition government. Angela Merkel is keeping her distance while Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is making overtures to the new president — and ruffling feathers in the process… [Germany is divided] between Merkel’s Germany and Steinmeier’s Germany. And when it comes to their relationship with the new America, these two Germanys could not be more different.

“Chancellor Angela Merkel takes a reserved view of Obama, waiting to see what his administration’s policies will look like. There is not even a trace of enthusiasm for the man on whom the world’s hopes are now pinned. Merkel is not prepared to quickly accommodate the Americans on the first concrete issue for trans-Atlantic relations, namely the acceptance of detainees from Guantanamo.

“Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, on the other hand, is the president of Germany’s Obama fan club. His enthusiasm knows no bounds. Steinmeier indicated right away that Germany would accept detainees from Guantanamo. And so Obama has a problem: figuring out which Germany he will be dealing with…

“The new chapter in German-American relations has gotten off to a bumpy start… Germany is still a puzzle for the new US administration. Which party in Germany’s grand coalition government… will call the shots in this election year, and what direction will they take?…

“The curiosity is mutual. The Germans want to know what the United States intends to do in the world’s crisis regions, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq. They are also curious to see how America intends to combat the recession. There are growing fears that the country will isolate itself and protect its economy while discouraging imports. This would be a serious blow for Germany, the world’s largest exporter…”

Regarding the thorny issue of Guantanamo prisoners, the magazine explained:

“There is now a list of 57 names of Guantanamo prisoners that the Americans have scheduled for release and who are not considered high-ranking terrorists. It is a list of 57 problems…

“It includes such illustrious cases as that of Tunisian national Abdul Bin Mohammed Ourgy, who the Americans say is a member of al-Qaida… Another man on the list is Rafiq Bin Bashir al-Hami [who] is believed to have… attended a terrorist training camp… in Afghanistan…

“Two Uzbeks, who are believed to be members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and were captured during fighting in Afghanistan in late 2001, are also on the US list. In a video released at the beginning of this year, the IMU threatened Germany and sought to recruit volunteers for jihad…”

The EU Threatens the USA

The Times wrote on February 4:

“The European Union warned the US yesterday against plunging the world into depression by adopting a planned ‘Buy American’ policy, intensifying fears of a trade war. The EU threatened to retaliate if the US Congress went ahead with sweeping measures in its $800 billion (£554 billion) stimulus plan to restrict spending to American goods and services.

“Gordon Brown was caught in the crossfire as John Bruton, the EU Ambassador to Washington, said that ‘history has shown us’ where the closing of markets leads — a clear reference to the Depression of the 1930s, triggered by US protectionist laws. Last night Mr Obama gave a strong signal that he would remove the most provocative passages from the Bill.”

Germany to Station Troops in France for Joint Mission

Deutsche Welle reported on February 3:

“France has agreed to allow a German battalion to be stationed in eastern France for the first time since World War II… Anywhere between 450 and 800 German soldiers will likely be stationed near the northeastern French city of Strasbourg… Such a move would have been unimaginable in the past, with animosity stemming from the 1870 Franco-German conflict and two world wars. Times have changed. Germany and France have found themselves at the forefront of pushing for a joint European defense strategy…

“The countries already have a 5,000-member bi-national brigade, which has served in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan since it was founded 20 years ago.”

“Europe Must Send Troops to the Middle East!”

Deutsche Welle reported on February 4:

“Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas made his request for armed support while addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday, Feb. 4. ‘The time has come for the international community to bear its legal, political and moral responsibilities and provide … adequate international protection,’ Abbas said. ‘I would like to stress again our request to send international forces in order to protect our people.'”

Insects as Weapons of War?

Times on Line wrote on February 2:

“Insects are one of the cheapest and most destructive weapons available to terrorists today, and one of the most widely ignored: they are easy to sneak across borders, reproduce quickly and can spread disease and destroy crops with devastating speed… few people have an inkling of how insects can – and have – been used to inflict human suffering and economic destruction…

“In the 14th century, 75 million people succumbed to flea-borne bubonic plague. But few people realise that the Black Death arrived in Europe after the Mongols catapulted flea-ridden corpses into the port of Kaffa. People fled, carrying bacteria, rats and fleas throughout the Mediterranean. And it was lice, not enemy armies, that nearly broke the back of the Soviet Union when typhus made 30 million people ill and killed 5 million after the First World War.

“Military strategists have seen the potential for warfare in all this. In the Second World War, the French and Germans pursued the mass production and dispersal of Colorado beetles to destroy enemy food supplies, and the Japanese military killed more than 400,000 Chinese by dropping plague-infected fleas and cholera-coated flies.

“During the Cold War, the US military planned to produce 100 million yellow fever-infected mosquitoes a month, and produced an ‘entomological warfare target analysis’ of vulnerable sites in the Soviet Union and its allies’ territories. The dispersal and biting capacity of (uninfected) mosquitoes was tested by secretly dropping them over US cities…”

The ideas that terrorists will use insects in their wars are not far-fetched. According to the Bible, God used hornets to fight against Israel’s enemies (Joshua 24:12).

Mexico–One of the World’s Biggest Security Risks

The Washington Times wrote on January 22:

“Indiscriminate kidnappings. Nearly daily beheadings. Gangs that mock and kill government agents. This isn’t Iraq or Pakistan. It’s Mexico, which the U.S. government and a growing number of experts say is becoming one of the world’s biggest security risks. The prospect that America’s southern neighbor could melt into lawlessness provides an unexpected challenge to President Obama’s government.

“In its latest report anticipating possible global security risks, the U.S. Joint Forces Command lumps Mexico and Pakistan together as being at risk of a ‘rapid and sudden collapse.’… The Justice Department said last month that Mexican gangs are the ‘biggest organized crime threat to the United States.’ 

“Mexico – Latin America’s second-biggest economy and the United States’ third-biggest oil supplier – is one of the top 10 global risks for 2009… Businesses have closed because they can’t afford to pay monthly extortion fees to local thugs. The rich have fled to the U.S. to avoid one of the world’s highest kidnapping rates. Many won’t leave their homes at night.”

Schuller’s Televangelism Empire in Chaos

USA Today wrote February 1:

“Once one of the nation’s most popular televangelists… Robert H. Schuller is watching his life’s work crumble. His son and recent successor… Robert A. Schuller, has abruptly resigned as senior pastor of the Crystal Cathedral… The church is in financial turmoil: It plans to sell more than $65 million worth of its Orange County property to pay off debt. Revenue dropped by nearly $5 million last year…

“The Crystal Cathedral blames the recession for its woes. But it’s clear that the elder Schuller’s carefully orchestrated leadership transition… has stumbled badly. It’s a problem common to personality driven ministries. Most have collapsed or been greatly diminished after their founders left the pulpit or died. Members often tie their donations to the pastor, not the institution…

“Church-based televangelism led by powerful personalities filled TV in the 1980s, but now only a handful of shows remain… Among the struggling ministries are those of Oral Roberts and the late D. James Kennedy…”

Stir Within the Catholic Church

Deutsche Welle wrote on February 1:

“A second German Catholic bishop Saturday raised unusual criticism of German Pope Benedict XVI for rehabilitating Holocaust denier Bishop Williamson… Bishop Gebhard Fuerst of Rottenburg-Stuttgart… charged that Benedict’s rehabilitation of Williamson had led to ‘external and internal alienation from the church on the part of many believers, to a betrayal of trust especially among Jewish sisters and brothers in their relationship to the church, and to a considerable disturbance in the Christian-Jewish dialogue.’…

“In related developments on Saturday, Israel’s minister for religious affairs threatened to suspend relationships with the Vatican… The timing of Benedict’s pardon is considered particularly insensitive, as the announcement came just days before Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27…

“Catholic priests in Austria on Sunday criticized the Vatican for naming an ultraconservative priest as auxiliary bishop in Linz on Saturday without having consulted the local church… [He] suggested in 2005 that Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment, as it destroyed five abortion clinics as well as nightclubs in New Orleans… A significant portion of Austrian Catholics see themselves as more liberal than the Vatican, opposing Rome’s views on abortion, homosexuality or the ban on married priests.”

Der Spiegel Online added on February 2:

“One controversy is apparently not enough for the Catholic Church… Another week, another public relations disaster for the Catholic Church. While the furor continues swirling around the pope’s decision to reinstate an ultra-conservative bishop who denies the Holocaust, the Vatican has once again raised hackles by promoting a controversial pastor to be a bishop in Austria… The priest has a knack for inappropriate comments, writing back in 2005 in a parish newsletter that Hurricane Katrina was an act of ‘divine retribution’ for New Orleans’ permissive ways. ‘This was not the sinking of any city but that of a people’s dream city with the “best brothels and prettiest prostitutes,”‘ he wrote.

“The same man warned children in 2001 against reading J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books because the tales of a boy wizard were ‘spreading Satanism.’ Then in 2004 Wagner said that it was no coincidence that the Tsunami disaster had occurred at Christmas, inferring that it was punishment for ‘rich Western tourists’ who had fled to ‘poor Thailand’…

“Liberal Catholics now fear that the pope is steering the church in an ultra-conservative direction and there is increasing concern about his leadership style. In a commentary for the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Catholic theologian Hans Küng said that the pope risked losing the trust of millions of Catholics across the world. Küng said that Pope Benedict XVI is obviously ‘so shielded and cut off from the real world, that he has no idea how disastrously his actions are received.'”

Der Spiegel Online added the following in a related article, dated February 3:

“The criticism of the Vatican’s decision has been particularly cutting in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel entered into the fray on Tuesday… ‘If a decision of the Vatican gives rise to the impression that the Holocaust may be denied, this cannot be left to stand,’ Merkel said. ‘It’s a matter of affirming very clearly on the part of the pope and the Vatican, that there can be no denial here,’ she said, adding that in her view this had ‘not yet been made sufficiently clear.’

“Merkel, who is a Lutheran, added that she usually would not judge internal decisions made within… the church but that the current debate dealt with a fundamental issue.

“And even the pope’s strongest supporters have been left dismayed by the decision. Cardinal Karl Lehmann, who is a highly influential figure in Germany and serves as the bishop of Mainz, has described the pope’s decision to rehabilitate Williamson as ‘catastrophic’ and said that many people were very disappointed by Benedict XVI’s move… Lehmann said that there should be a clear apology ‘from a high position.'”

Has the Pope Lost His Magic?

Der Spiegel Online wrote on February 4:

“The scandal surrounding Bishop Williamson has brought the honeymoon between Germans and their pope to an abrupt end. The affair has done lasting damage to Benedict’s reputation and authority in his home country…

“Neither the Curia, nor the press office nor the pope has learned the lessons of the PR disaster of Regensburg in 2006, when Benedict deeply offended the Muslim world… A degree of alienation and mistrust will remain between the German Catholics and their pope. People will take a closer look at his comments, question them more critically, behave more independently.

“The Vatican has called on Bishop Williamson to retract his Holocaust denial. He may do so and declare that he had taken another look at the history books and didn’t mean what he said about the Jews. It will change nothing. What could it change? Too many questions will remain unanswered. For example, why does the pope always hold out his hand of mercy in just one direction?…

“… the media covered ‘our pope’ with fondness, curiosity and empathy. That’s over… This scandal surrounding Bishop Williamson has robbed this pope of his magic. It’s a pity.”

But DID the scandal really rob “this pope of his magic”? The near future will show that it did NOT.

Human-Animal Clones Don’t Seem to Work…

Reuters reported on February 2:

“Researchers who tried to use mouse, cow and rabbit eggs to make human clones said on Monday the effort failed to produce workable embryos but added that they showed human cloning should work in principle…

“A mouse-human hybrid petered out after just one division. The cow and rabbit human hybrids went further, but stopped at the point when maternal DNA is supposed to kick in and turn the ball of cells into a proper embryo… It appears that using the egg of another species turns off the genes needed to make an embryo instead of turning them on… But the human-human clone did turn on the right genes, although it, too stopped dividing before it could produce stem cells…”

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