Current Events

The U.S. Health Care Debate

Before President Obama’s long-awaited Health Care speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, September 9, 2009, the press reported about a new proposal circulating in Congress on Tuesday, which–it was felt–could create a problem for the President.

The Associated Press wrote on September 8:

“Americans would be fined up to $3,800 for failing to buy health insurance under a plan that circulated in Congress on Tuesday… Just as auto coverage is now mandatory in most states, [Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., a moderate who heads the influential Finance Committee] would a require that all Americans get health insurance once the system is overhauled. Penalties for failing to get insurance would start at $750 a year for individuals and $1,500 for families. Households making more than three times the federal poverty level – about $66,000 for a family of four – would face the maximum fines. For families, it would be $3,800, and for individuals, $950.

“The fines pose a dilemma for Obama. As a candidate, the president campaigned hard against making health insurance a requirement, and fining people for not getting it. ‘Punishing families who can’t afford health care to begin with just doesn’t make sense,’ he said during his party’s primaries. At the time, he proposed mandatory insurance only for children…

“The fast-moving developments left liberals in a quandary. They’ve drawn a line, saying they won’t vote for legislation if it doesn’t include a public plan to compete with private insurance companies and force them to lower costs… An 18-page summary of the Baucus proposal was obtained by The Associated Press. The complex plan would make dozens of changes in the health care system, many of them contentious. For example, it includes new fees on insurers, drug companies, medical device manufacturers and clinical labs.

“It would require insurers to take all applicants, regardless of age or health. But smokers could be charged higher premiums. And 60-year-olds could be charged five times as much for a policy as 20-year-olds.”

The President’s Speech–More Broken Promises

In his speech to a joint session of Congress, President Obama showed his willingness to “modify” his stance and to alter or abrogate promises which he made during the Presidential campaign.

The Associated Press reported on September 9:

“The change was subtle, but significant. In his speech to Congress on Wednesday night, President Barack Obama gave a more accurate — and less reassuring — account of the impact of his proposed health care overall than he has done in the past. It went by in a blink…

“[The plan does not] guarantee that people can keep their current coverage. Employers sponsor coverage for most families, and they’d be free to change their health plans in ways that workers may not like, or drop insurance altogether. The Congressional Budget Office analyzed the health care bill written by House Democrats and said that by 2016 some 3 million people who now have employer-based care would lose it because their employers would decide to stop offering it…

“House Democrats offered a bill that the Congressional Budget Office said would add $220 billion to the deficit over 10 years. But Democrats and Obama administration officials claimed the bill was actually deficit-neutral. They said they simply didn’t have to count $245 billion of it — the cost of adjusting Medicare reimbursement rates so physicians don’t face big annual pay cuts. Their only-in-Washington reasoning was that they already decided to exempt this so-called ‘doc fix’ from congressional rules that require new programs to be paid for. In other words, it doesn’t have to be paid for because they decided it doesn’t have to be paid for…

“In his speech, Obama endorsed mandatory coverage for individuals, an approach he did NOT embrace as a candidate. He proposed during the campaign — as he does now — that larger businesses be required to offer insurance to workers or else pay into a fund. But he REJECTED the idea of requiring individuals to obtain insurance. He said people would get insurance WITHOUT BEING FORCED to do so by the law, if coverage were made affordable. And he repeatedly criticized his Democratic primary rival, Hillary Rodham Clinton, for proposing to mandate coverage… Now, he says, ‘individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance — just as most states require you to carry auto insurance.'”

The Times added on September 9:

“President Obama vowed tonight to succeed where a century of American politicians have failed and introduce comprehensive reform of a healthcare system that had led the US to ‘breaking point’… The plan would make it illegal for insurance companies to deny coverage because of patients’ pre-existing conditions, to drop coverage when they become ill or to set arbitrary limits on the amount a policy-holder can claim in a given year…

“Mr Obama’s strategic dilemma is whether to insist on a state-run insurance plan to compete with private ones and lose all hope of Republican backing in the process, or to sacrifice the so-called public option for the sake of bipartisan support. The liberal wing of the Democratic Party is urging him to abandon the Republicans and insist on a shift towards a European-style government role in medical coverage. The President appears ready to risk their wrath for the sake of a Bill that might not win even a single Republican vote in the Senate, and that centrists in his party can sell to constituents at the mid-term elections…

“Senator Max Baucus, chairman of the finance committee, said that he would produce a Bill for the committee to debate by the week of September 21, with or without Republican support. The Baucus Bill would not contain a public option… Howard Dean, the former Democratic presidential contender, has threatened to organise primary challenges in next year’s elections against any House Democrats who fail to insist on a public option in whatever Bill the President ultimately endorses… [Powerful] Democrat… Mike Ross… said that he would refuse to back any Bill containing a public option…

“Tonight [President Obama] channelled some of that fire into the most hallowed forum in American democracy, but he will need to save some for the horse-trading that begins in earnest on a Bill likely to cost more than $900 billion over ten years. He faces [a] long, arduous autumn on the political high wire.”

One Czar Left–More to Follow?

Politico wrote on September 6:

“The resignation early Sunday of ‘green jobs’ adviser Van Jones says as much about the Obama White House as it does about Jones – marking the latest sacrifice to the political gods after a long summer of compromises and surrenders highlighted the limits of White House power.

“The departure – nominally the choice of a still-defiant Jones, who said he feared distracting from important business – confirmed Obama’s choice of pragmatism over confrontation and a belief that controversies sometimes are better solved by capitulation, a view that infuriates Obama’s allies on the left…

“White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs [stated:] ‘What Van Jones decided was that the agenda of this president was bigger than any one individual,’… agreeing with the show’s host, George Stephanopoulos that Obama ‘doesn’t endorse’ Jones’s remarks on race and politics, his apparent flirtation with the ‘9/11 Truth’ movement, and his advocacy for the convicted murderer Mumia Abu-Jamal…’

“The resignation, in turn, confirmed [Fox News’ Glenn] Beck’s stature as the administration’s most potent foe. Along with the talk radio host Rush Limbaugh and the Drudge Report’s Matt Drudge, Beck helped drive a summer of protest against health care reform that turned the legislation into a referendum on change and government.”

The Afghan Debacle–Rift Between Germany and USA

The Associated Press reported on September 6:

“An airstrike by U.S. fighter jets that appears to have killed Afghan civilians could turn into a major dispute between NATO allies Germany and the United States, as tensions began rising Sunday over Germany’s role in ordering the attack. Afghan officials say up to 70 people were killed [according to other reports, at least 125 or 135 people allegedly died, including a large number of children] in the early morning airstrike Friday in the northern province of Kunduz after Taliban militants stole two tanker trucks of fuel and villagers gathered to siphon off gas.

“Afghan and NATO investigations are just beginning, but both German and U.S. officials already appeared to be trying to deflect blame. German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung said the Taliban’s possession of the two tankers ‘posed an acute threat to our soldiers.’ German officials have said the tankers might have been used as suicide bombs…

“[Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith, the top U.S. and NATO spokesman] said he hopes a U.S.-German rift does not develop over the strike…”

Afghan Debacle Big Problem For German Politicians

Der Spiegel Online reported on September 7:

“The attack has drawn international condemnation amid fears that the civilian casualty rate could undermine the Western effort to bring peace and democracy to Afghanistan. It has also prompted criticism of the German army from its NATO partners and is set to put the German government under mounting pressure to come up with an exit strategy for its around 4,200 troops in Afghanistan. The attack is dominating the German election campaign with less than three weeks to go before the Sept. 27 vote.

“The mission is deeply unpopular in Germany, which has a strong pacifist streak because of its Nazi past… Senior German commanders were reported on Monday to be furious at NATO’s decision to allow the Washington Post reporter to accompany the seven-member NATO investigative team in its probe of the bombing. ‘It stinks to high heaven,’ one unnamed commander told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung newspaper. The report said German commanders accused the US army of ‘deliberately leaking misinformation about an ongoing investigation’…”

Deutsche Welle reported on September 8:

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel has delivered a staunch defense of her country’s mission in Afghanistan, following international and domestic uproar over last week’s deadly NATO airstrike… While promising a thorough investigation and a full report on the raid, which is believed to have left dozens of Taliban militants as well as civilians dead, Merkel slammed critics for drawing premature conclusions.”

German Media Reactions to Afghan Debacle

Der Spiegel Online reported on September 7 about the reactions of the German media to the debacle in Afghanistan:

“Germany, which has often condemned US military operations in Afghanistan that led to civilian deaths, is now on the receiving end of international criticism following Friday’s air strike. The criticism seems justified, write German media commentators, but they add that internal disputes within NATO can only help the Taliban…

“Center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘The allies are fundamentally embittered about Germany’s tendency to offer advice and little in the way of action… Now this nation that always knew everything better and criticized the military strategy of the troop providers in the south is responsible for an air strike with what may turn out to be the highest number of civilian casualties.’

“The left-wing Frankfurter Rundschau writes: ‘…Jung’s strategy of avoidance is explosive. He’s provoking the allies by trying to whitewash the German army’s role…’

“Business daily Financial Times Deutschland writes: ‘The air strike clearly violated NATO’s mission guidelines. Air strikes may only be ordered if there’s imminent danger. And that is hard to see when two fuel tankers are stuck in the sand…’

“Conservative Die Welt writes: ‘There was no imminent danger for Allied troops or the Afghan population. The tankers were stuck in a river bed and weren’t rolling towards German positions as mobile fire bombs. But deriving serious errors and accusations from that, as some European allies are now doing, doesn’t do justice to the tense situation facing the German army in northern Afghanistan… This mustn’t lead to accusations within the alliance. That would be the beginning of the end.’

“Mass circulation Bild writes: ‘The days when a divided Germany could stay out of international conflicts are over… The Americans — who still have the massive German criticism of them ringing in their ears — can barely conceal their schadenfreude: look, the good Germans too are responsible for killing civilians… If allies wage war against each other, they only end up doing their enemy’s job. It’s clear that leaving Afghanistan to the Taliban would be the greatest mistake — and would make a mockery of our soldiers. A fixed date for withdrawal would send a fatal message too…'”

Is Withdrawing German Troops the Solution?

Deutsche Welle added its opinion on September 7, as follows:

“The alliance in Afghanistan appears to be more deeply split than was commonly known. Germany’s Bundeswehr has been openly criticized by its partners in Washington and London – even before there are any official inquiry results. The Bundeswehr has been as harsh in its criticism of the US military, which it says deliberately leaked false information in order to discredit the German commitment in Afghanistan. The dispute is being carried out in the media… The consequences: the Afghan people will lose faith in the process of democratization… The Taliban must be rubbing their hands in glee…

“The Bundeswehr’s image as a reconstruction force has been damaged – with unforeseeable consequences. Attacks on German troops will increase. The public – in Afghanistan and in Germany – will see less of a difference between fighting the insurgency and war… All of this is poison for the development in Afghanistan. Allies who are at odds on one hand, an increasing number of civilian victims and a triumphant Taliban on the other hand… The appeal to get German troops out of Afghanistan may garner votes, but it is by no means a stable concept for the future of Afghanistan.” 

The Netzeitung wrote on September 7:

“A NATO air strike in northern Afghanistan has exposed the German government and military to unprecedented criticism from its closest allies. This is unlikely to increase Berlin’s resolve to help fight the Taliban or bolster the transatlantic alliance… Germany has long purported to be doing a better job of helping Afghanistan by focusing on policing and reconstruction efforts rather than brutally eradicating the Taliban and al Qaida – as the US military is wont to do. Such arguments, of course, conveniently overlook the fact that Germany has consistently refused to join America and its other allies in the fiercer fighting taking place in the southern part of the country…

“Some German commentators have begun mooting that the heavy criticism of the air strike is retaliation for Germany’s supposed readiness to point out the military mistakes of its allies in Afghanistan while keeping its own troops safe in their northern bases. They are also questioning the unusual indiscretions during the investigation of the incident… Is it merely payback time for the Germans? Are they being punished for first being combat shy and then for being too trigger-happy? For the sake of the transatlantic alliance – not to mention the people of Afghanistan – we have to hope that NATO members are above petty games involving such extremely high stakes…

“Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding the air strike is unlikely to make most Germans think about why their troops were sent to Afghanistan in the first place. The deployment remains deeply unpopular here… While German reluctance to use lethal force is commendable, the idea that Germany retreat from its international commitments to let its allies take the bullets is absolutely unacceptable.

“But if it turns out scores of civilians were killed in the air strike, it will not encourage most Germans to redouble their military efforts in Afghanistan. Instead, calls to end the Bundeswehr’s deployment along the Hindu Kush are sure to increase. This would be troubling not only for the NATO mission in Afghanistan, but also the implications for Berlin’s place in the transatlantic alliance. Afghanistan is not Iraq. That doesn’t mean NATO forces should remain there indefinitely, but allowing the country to descend back into the kind of chaos conducive to breeding Islamist terrorism is simply not an option.”

If You Lived in Sudan…

The Associated Press wrote on September 7:

“A Sudanese judge convicted a woman journalist on Monday for violating the public indecency law by wearing trousers outdoors and fined her $200, but did not impose a feared flogging penalty. Lubna Hussein was among 13 women arrested July 3 in a raid by the public order police in Khartoum. Ten of the women were fined and flogged two days later. But Hussein and two others decided to go to trial…

“The case has made headlines in Sudan and around the world and Hussein used it to rally world opinion against the country’s morality laws based on a strict interpretation of Islam… Hussein’s lawyer said… the judge ignored his request to present defense witnesses. ‘The ruling is incorrect,’ he said, adding that the prosecution witnesses gave contradictory statements… [He] said the judge had the option of choosing flogging, but apparently opted for fine to avoid international criticism…

“Human rights and political groups in Sudan say the law is in violation of the 2005 constitution drafted after a peace deal ended two decades of war between the predominantly Muslim north and the Christian and animist south Sudan.

“[An] Amnesty statement said Sudan had been urged to amend the law which permits flogging… after eight women were flogged in public in 2003 with plastic and metal whips leaving permanent scars on the women. The women had been picnicking with male friends… In a column published in the British daily the Guardian Friday, Hussein said her case is not an isolated one, but is a showcase of repressive laws in a country with a long history of civil conflicts.”

Rift Between Europe and the USA?

The Associated Press reported on September 4:

“The European Union is strongly criticizing a congressional proposal to charge a $10 fee to some visitors to the United States and suggesting it may carry a price for U.S. travelers. If it passes, the EU says, some U.S. travelers to Europe could face retaliation… Europeans see the issue as yet another potential hassle that the United States is preparing to burden Europe’s citizens with…

“Early, this year… the United States began requiring people traveling to the United States under the visa waiver program to register online at least 72 hours before travel and renew their registration every two years. If the new proposal is passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, it would require all visitors to pay the fee when they register… [The European Commission’s Ambassador to Washington, John Bruton] said the EU will have to reconsider whether the U.S. registration system with the new fee would amount to a visa. The EU might then have to consider visas for U.S. travelers.”

Widening Rift Between Israel and the USA

The Associated Press reported on September 4:

“Alarmed by Israeli plans to build new housing units in settlements and dimming prospects for American peace efforts, the Obama administration on Friday put out a rare and harsh public rebuke of its main Mideast ally. The White House said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s settlement plans were ‘inconsistent’ with commitments the Jewish state has made previously and harmful to U.S. attempts to lay the groundwork for a resumption in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. ‘[The] United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement expansion and we urge that it stop,’ White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement…

“Netanyahu’s aides… said any Israeli settlement freeze would not halt building the new units and or block completion of some 2,500 others currently under construction. They also said the freeze would not include east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians hope to make their future [capitol]. The unusually blunt White House criticism reflected the administration’s growing frustration with Netanyahu…

“Netanyahu’s refusal to bend on the settlement issue despite repeated U.S. appeals threatens to damage Obama’s credibility in the Arab world. The administration is counting on Arab support for a resumption in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations but will not likely get it unless Netanyahu makes concessions on settlements.”

Bloomberg added on September 7:

“Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved the building of 455 housing units in the West Bank, defying U.S. demands for a freeze on settlement construction. The Palestinian Authority immediately condemned the move, saying it ‘undermines the belief that Israel is a credible partner for peace.’… Jewish settlers, who provide support for Netanyahu and many of his Cabinet ministers, said accepting a freeze on construction would be ‘catastrophic for the government.’… Reacting to reports Sept. 4 that Israel would approve more construction in the West Bank, Amre Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League, said such a move would ‘destroy the peace prospects entirely.’” 

Oil Deal Admitted–After All the Denials…

BBC wrote on September 5:

“Trade and oil played a part in the decision to include the Lockerbie bomber in a prisoner transfer deal, Jack Straw has admitted. Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, the UK justice secretary said trade was ‘a very big part’ of the 2007 talks that led to the prisoner deal with Libya. However, Mr Straw’s spokesman accused the press of ‘outrageous’ innuendo…

“On Wednesday, Prime Minister Gordon Brown insisted there was ‘no conspiracy, no cover-up, no double dealing, no deal on oil’ over his release. But officials admit the prisoner transfer agreement (PTA) was part of a wider set of negotiations aimed at bringing Libya in from the international cold, and improving British trade prospects with the country.”

CNN added on September 5:

“An oil deal and trade concerns with Libya were at one point considered as factors in the Lockerbie bomber’s release, British Justice Secretary Jack Straw said in an interview published Saturday. And Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s son, who was involved in negotiating accords between the two nations, told CNN that Libya pressured the British government to include the convicted terrorist in a 2007 prisoner release agreement that was tied to trade deals…

“Straw first assured Scotland he would tell the Libyans that Britain would not agree to any prisoner transfer treaty unless al Megrahi was specifically excluded. But only three months later, he told Edinburgh he was giving up efforts to keep al Megrahi out of the deal ‘in view of the overwhelming interests for the United Kingdom.’

“Gadhafi’s son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi told CNN that initially, Britain refused to heed to Libya’s demands that al Megrahi be included in the prisoner release agreement. ‘There was no mention of Mr. Megrahi until the British said, “we are ready to sign but there should be a clause mentioning that Mr. Megrahi is excluded.” And then we said no,’ Gadhafi said. ‘We were very very angry. It’s not acceptable.’

“The agreement was eventually signed and days later, Libya approved a huge oil exploration contract with BP.”

Widening Rift Between UK and USA

Mail-On-Line wrote on September 5:

“Downing Street has hit back at Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for attacking the decision to release the Lockerbie bomber. President Obama and the US Secretary of State fuelled a fierce American backlash against Britain, claiming Abdelbaset Al Megrahi should have been forced to serve out his jail sentence in Scotland…

“British officials claim Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton were kept informed at all stages of discussions concerning Megrahi’s return. The officials say the Americans spoke out because they were taken aback by the row over Megrahi’s release, not because they did not know it was about to happen.

“‘The US was kept fully in touch about everything that was going on with regard to Britain’s discussions with Libya in recent years and about Megrahi,’ said the Whitehall aide. ‘We would never do anything about Lockerbie without discussing it with the US…’

“American politicians claimed the Anglo-US ‘special relationship’ had been damaged ‘for years to come’ because the UK had gone back on a joint pledge that Megrahi would stay behind bars in Scotland.”

UN Proposes to Replace U.S. Dollar

The Telegraph wrote on September 7:

“The dollar should be replaced with a global currency, the United Nations has said, proposing the biggest overhaul of the world’s monetary system since the Second World War… Although a number of countries, including China and Russia, have suggested replacing the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, the UNCTAD report is the first time a major multinational institution has posited such a suggestion… The proposals, included in UNCTAD’s annual Trade and Development Report, amount to the most radical suggestions for redesigning the global monetary system.”

Irresponsible US Economic Policy?

The Telegraph wrote on September 6:

“The US Federal Reserve’s policy of printing money to buy Treasury debt threatens to set off a serious decline of the dollar and compel China to redesign its foreign reserve policy, according to a top member of the Communist hierarchy.

“Cheng Siwei, former vice-chairman of the Standing Committee and now head of China’s green energy drive, said Beijing was dismayed by the Fed’s recourse to ‘credit easing’. ‘We hope there will be a change in monetary policy as soon as they have positive growth again,’ he said… ‘If they keep printing money to buy bonds it will lead to inflation, and after a year or two the dollar will fall hard. Most of our foreign reserves are in US bonds and this is very difficult to change, so we will diversify incremental reserves into euros, yen, and other currencies,’ he said. China’s reserves are more than… $2 trillion, the world’s largest…

“Mr Cheng said the root cause of global imbalances is spending patterns in US (and UK) and China. ‘The US spends tomorrow’s money today,’ he said. ‘We Chinese spend today’s money tomorrow. That’s why we have this financial crisis.’ Yet the consequences are not symmetric. ‘He who goes borrowing, goes sorrowing,’ said Mr Cheng. It was a quote from US founding father Benjamin Franklin.”

Germany’s Uncertain Economy

The Financial Times wrote on August 31:

“The European Union’s biggest member goes to the polls in less than four weeks. Yet while Germany’s economic prospects rest precariously on a recovery in foreign demand, the campaign has been free of any real debate about the country’s extraordinary export dependence. This is worrying… addressing the underlying disequilibriums will require changes in member states’ economic structures. If this does not happen, long-term growth in Europe will be weak and tensions within the eurozone inevitable.

“… the return of the German economy to growth may be a mixed blessing for Europe. Mounting confidence in Germany that it is on the cusp of a return to rapid export-led growth is likely to reduce pressure on the country’s authorities to focus more on domestic demand…

“There is a tendency in Germany to portray criticism of German policy as ‘anti-German’ or as a product of envy. But it is no more anti-German than German criticism of the poor management of the US and British economies is anti-American or anti-British. As for envy, Germany’s growth performance has been one of the weakest in Europe for years… A reinforced German belief in the superiority of export-led growth would be a recipe for weak growth in Germany and serious problems elsewhere in Europe…”

Mass Vaccinations Against Swine Flu?

According to Bild Online, dated September 7, when asked whether they would be immunized against the swine flu, 62% of Germans answered, “No way.” Only 14% said that they would be immunized “for sure,” while 33% responded that it was not “likely” that they would do it. 82% of Germans believe that the danger of being infected with the virus is relatively small or very small. Only 4% feel that the danger of an infection is very great.

Modified Brussels Treaty of Ten European Member States

The EUobserver wrote on September 3:

“A group of the EU’s major foreign policy players is waiting to find out what happens to the Lisbon Treaty before deciding if it should keep or scrap an old ‘musketeer’ defence pact. The security pact is found in Article V of the Modified Brussels Treaty, created in 1954 at the height of the Cold War. ‘If any of the high contracting parties should be the object of an armed attack in Europe, the other high contracting parties will …afford the party so attacked all the military and other aid and assistance in their power,’ it states.

“The contracting parties are EU and Nato member states France, Germany, the UK, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Greece… The Brussels Treaty is significant because it is the only European defence pact in existence. In terms of legal theory, if a Nato and Brussels Treaty member state was attacked and the US-led Nato alliance failed to honour its musketeer clause, the country could instead invoke the Brussels Treaty as a back-up.

“… the 1954 treaty is also significant because some of its 10 parties are interested in keeping it alive so that Article V could in future be used as the basis of a new EU-level defence pact, a source at the Western European Union (WEU) told EUobserver…

“The WEU expects its 10 member states to hold talks on its future in the few months after the fate of the Lisbon Treaty becomes clear… The Lisbon Treaty does not contain a European defence pact. But Lisbon would give EU member states a mandate to progressively frame ‘a common defence policy that might lead to a common defence.'”…

One Step Closer to Lisbon Treaty Ratification

Der Spiegel wrote on September 8:

“The beleaguered Lisbon Treaty got past one more stumbling block on Tuesday after the German parliament voted for legislation that would ease the treaty’s ratification in the EU’s biggest country… However, the so-called ‘accompanying laws’ will still need to be passed by the upper house or Bundesrat on Sept. 18, before Germany can finally give the green light to Europe’s star-crossed treaty.

“The treaty, which is designed to ease decision-making in the 27-member European Union, has stalled in a number of countries, including Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic. In Ireland a second referendum is to be held on Oct. 2 after the Irish government secured a number of guarantees on issues such as neutrality, abortion, taxation and the right to a commissioner. The latest opinion poll, conducted by the Irish Times, showed only 46 percent of respondents saying they would definitely vote ‘yes,’ a slump of eight points from the last poll in May.”

EU and Turkey

The EUobserver wrote on September 7:

“The EU’s relationship with Turkey has turned into a ‘vicious circle’, with growing distrust on both sides, the Independent Commission on Turkey, a panel of experts chaired by Nobel Peace Prize winner Martti Ahtisaari warns in a report issued Monday (7 September). ‘Continued negative comments by European political leaders, combined with growing public hesitation about further EU enlargement, have deepened resentment in Turkey and slowed the necessary reforms,’ the document reads.
“French President Nicolas Sarkozy has publicly questioned Turkey’s right to become an EU member, pointing to its geography, which stretches from southeastern Europe to Asia Minor. The question of 70 million Muslims set to become EU citizens is also frequently invoked by opponents to Turkish membership in countries such as Austria, Germany or the Netherlands.”

It is very unlikely that Turkey–the biblical “Edom” in history and prophecy–will become a member state of the EU. At the same time, the Bible shows that end-time Turkey will be on “friendly” terms with Europe against Israel.

A Lost World–Found

The Guardian wrote on September 7:

“A lost world populated by fanged frogs, grunting fish and tiny bear-like creatures has been discovered in a remote volcanic crater on the Pacific island of Papua New Guinea… A team of scientists from Britain, the United States and Papua New Guinea found more than 40 previously unidentified species when they climbed into the kilometre-deep crater of Mount Bosavi and explored a pristine jungle habitat… In a remarkably rich haul from just five weeks of exploration, the biologists discovered 16 frogs which have never before been recorded by science, at least three new fish, a new bat and a giant rat, which may turn out to be the biggest in the world…

“They found the three-kilometre wide crater populated by spectacular birds of paradise and in the absence of big cats and monkeys… the main predators are giant monitor lizards while kangaroos… live in trees. New species include a camouflaged gecko, a fanged frog and a fish called the Henamo grunter, named because it makes grunting noises from its swim bladder.

“‘These discoveries are really significant,’ said Steve Backshall, a climber and naturalist who became so friendly with the never-before seen Bosavi silky cuscus, a marsupial that lives up [in] trees and feeds on fruits and leaves, that it sat on his shoulder.”

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