Egypt Opens Gateway to Gaza
Fox News reported on May 28:
“After a four-year blockade, Egypt on Saturday permanently opened the Gaza Strip’s main gateway to the outside world, bringing long-awaited relief to the territory’s Palestinian population and a significant achievement for the area’s ruling Hamas militant group. The reopening of the Rafah border crossing eases an Egyptian blockade of Gaza that has prevented the vast majority of the densely populated area’s 1.5 million people from being able to travel abroad. The closure, along with an Israeli blockade of its borders with Gaza, has fueled an economic crisis in the territory…”
Deutsche Welle wrote on May 28:
“Egypt and Israel first imposed a blockade in 2006 following the abduction of an Israeli soldier. It was later tightened in 2007 in an effort to weaken the Islamic group Hamas after it gained control of the area. Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s regime defended its decision to close the only gateway to the Gaza Strip which was not controlled by Israel by asserting it was a necessary move in the fight against terrorism.
“But when Mubarak was ousted from power in February, Egypt’s military rulers opted to permanently ease the blockade imposed by Israel… fears have been raised in Israel that it will also be easier for militants to get in and out of Gaza. Some Palestinians had previously smuggled goods, including weapons, into Gaza using tunnels from Egypt.”
The New York Times added on May 28:
“… the formal, seven-days-a-week opening on Saturday did not remove all restrictions. It left in place a blockade on the shipment into Gaza of goods, including concrete badly needed to repair buildings damaged by clashes between Israel and Hamas… There are still restrictions on passengers as well. Although women, children and older Palestinians can now enter Egypt without a visa, men 18 to 40 years old are required to obtain one, for security reasons.”
Even though the opening of the gateway still includes many restrictions, the dangers especially for Israel should not be ignored.
Libyan Adventure Slow and Messy
Deutsche Welle wrote on May 28:
“The quick and clean intervention promised in Libya has proved slow and messy. Despite over two months of NATO air support for the Libyan rebels, the civil war in the country is looking more and more like a stalemate. As a result, it was only a matter of time before Britain and France sought to tip the balance in its battle against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s military machine…
“Britain announced it would be sending four Apache helicopters, with France flying in similar Tiger helicopters as well. These maneuverable craft can fly lower than large warplanes and bombers, and Western militaries hope they will offer [provided] scope for more precise attacks against smaller targets like tanks. Some military analysts… see this fresh deployment of more versatile aircraft as a sign that the NATO mission in Libya is failing…
“The US and Britain both reiterated this week that sending in ground troops was not an option, and arming the rebels does not conform to the mandate of UN Resolution 1973, which only authorizes Western powers to protect civilian lives in Libya…
“Estimates suggest the rebel troops are outnumbered by as much as 10 to one by those loyal to Gadhafi, an imbalance that air support alone might not overcome. On this basis, NATO looks set to stay in Libya, and for an indeterminate period of time.”
Reuters wrote on June 1:
“NATO said on Wednesday it had extended its Libyan mission for a further 90 days, after Gaddafi made it clear he would not step down, dashing hopes of a negotiated end to the fighting.”
It does not appear that we will see a closure in Libya any time soon. The German press, and especially the mass tabloid Bild, reported angrily how President Obama, during the recent G-8 summit, ignored Chancellor Merkel and showed her “the cold shoulder”; and that she was not invited for talks about the future of Libya. They also blasted the American President for his unwillingness to visit Germany (even though he found time to visit Ireland, England, France and Poland). The German press speculated that the reason for this “mistreatment” was America’s anger over Germany’s refusal to participate in military attacks on Libya. However, in the long run, the world might recognize Germany’s wisdom and America’s and NATO’s foolishness in this regard.
African Union Fails in Libya
On May 29, 2011, The New York Times reported:
“Talks between President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi ended Monday with no sign of the breakthrough Libyan officials had said they hoped for. The outcome appeared to leave the Tripoli government and its rebel foes still mired in the stalemate that has settled over the conflict, and NATO with the prospect of an extended campaign of airstrikes in its bid to topple the Libyan leader…
“The demand for Colonel Qaddafi to quit has been set by rebel leaders in eastern Libya and backed by the NATO countries leading the 10-week-old campaign of airstrikes against the Qaddafi government, and was joined last week by Russia, long considered a Qaddafi ally…
“The Zuma visit was widely trumpeted in advance by officials in Tripoli, who have come to see the African Union as a last bastion of diplomatic support. For decades, Colonel Qaddafi has sought to reach out across barriers of culture, faith and geography to promote solidarity between the continent’s Arab and African peoples, and to present himself, as posters around Tripoli proclaim him, as the ‘king of kings’ among African leaders.”
On March 10, the New York Times explained the following about the African Union:
“The African Union, which was formed to succeed the Organization of African Unity on July 9, 2002 and is loosely based on the European Union, aims to promote cooperation and integration among the independent nations of Africa. It consists of 53 African nations and its headquarters are in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It works to promote African unity on issues involving the continent, and deals with security matters and regional conflicts…
“The current incarnation was conceived by Moammar el-Qaddafi, the Libyan leader. The union has grand plans for the future that include the establishment of a central bank, with a single currency by 2023, and of a human rights court. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the president of Equatorial Guinea is its current leader.”
Please note that the African Union is headquartered in Ethiopia, which was formerly known as the king of the South, as referred to in the book of Daniel. Ethiopia could still play a significant role in world affairs. Please also note the next remarkable comments:
African Union Wants to End Libya Crisis with Russian Help
The EUObserver wrote on June 1:
“Senior African envoy Jean Ping has told the EU and Nato that the African Union is keen to end the Libya crisis by diplomacy, not war, and with Russian help… The EU and Nato have ruled out talking to Gaddafi and said he must step down from power…
“EU commission head Barroso… indicated that EU countries and the US are no longer in a position to dictate terms to African ‘client’ states…”
And Now Yemen… “Worse Than Libya”
The Guardian wrote on June 1:
“The crisis engulfing Yemen deepened on Wednesday with dozens of people killed as President Ali Abdullah Saleh reinforced his troops after heavy clashes with gunmen loyal to an influential tribal leader… Arab embassies were said to be evacuating their staff and the few remaining western residents were being advised to leave urgently. The Foreign Office is urging all Britons to leave while flights are still available in a situation diplomats described as ‘worse than Libya.’”
The EUObserver wrote on May 31:
“Syria-type EU arms trade and visa bans are looking ever more likely to be imposed on Yemen as fellow Arab countries struggle to resolve the crisis… EU and US nationals have been advised to leave the country as quickly as possible and many embassies are already working with essential staff only… The US embassy in Sanaa said it ‘condemns the unprovoked and unjustified attack on peaceful demonstrators’ in Taiz and ‘commends the youth protesters who have shown both resolve and restraint.’ Yemen is a strategically important country for EU security due to the presence of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in the south of the country and due to its location along the vital trade route through the Gulf of Aden.”
Iran Helps Syrian Government
The Washington Post reported on May 27:
“U.S. officials say Iran is dispatching increasing numbers of trainers and advisers — including members of its elite Quds Force — into Syria to help crush anti-government demonstrations that are threatening to topple Iran’s most important ally in the region. The influx of Iranian manpower is adding to a steady stream of aid from Tehran that includes not only weapons and riot gear but also sophisticated surveillance equipment that is helping Syrian authorities track down opponents through their Facebook and Twitter accounts, the sources said. Iranian-assisted computer surveillance is believed to have led to the arrests of hundreds of Syrians seized from their homes in recent weeks.
“The United States and its allies long have accused Iran of supporting repressive or violent regimes in the region, including Syria’s government, the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip… The new assertions… are clearly aimed at suggesting deepening involvement of Iranian military personnel in Syria’s brutal crackdown against anti-Assad demonstrators…
“Iran’s increasing engagement in the Syrian crackdown reflects anxiety in Tehran about the prospects for Assad, who has failed to end the protests despite rising brutality that human rights groups say has left more than 800 people dead and perhaps 10,000 in prison. Iran, a longtime supplier of military aid to Syria, has been helping Dasmascus battle the current wave of civil unrest since at least mid-March…”
Iran Able to Build a Bomb Now
Newsmax reported on May 31:
“The International Atomic Energy Agency believes that Iran’s nuclear program has dangerous ‘military dimensions,’ according to a piece published late Monday in The New York Times. The Times report, drawing on an IAEA document, details Iran’s apparent efforts to build a nuclear bomb using ‘implosion’ techniques – the same basic technology used in the bomb dropped on Hiroshima… Essentially, Iran is able to build a bomb now, according to senior staff members of the IAEA quoted by the Times.”
Iran Pushes at Germany
Deutsche Welle reported on May 31:
“German Chancellor Angela Merkel touched down more than two hours late in New Delhi for the start of her visit to India, after Iran refused to allow her plane access to its airspace. The plane was forced to turn round and circle over Turkey before permission was finally granted – just before the plane ran out of fuel. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle requested the presence of the Iranian ambassador in Berlin on Tuesday. He said he wanted to make it clear that such a ‘breach of international protocol would not be tolerated’…
“Merkel is leading a large delegation of ministers and businessmen to India, seeking improved trade with booming South Asian economies… It is unclear why Iran suddenly withdrew permission to enter its airspace in the early hours of Tuesday morning… The plane was also carrying a large group of industry representatives and journalists.
“The German chancellor wants to promote European fighter aircraft. The Eurofighter consortium made up of Germany, the UK, Spain and Italy is hoping to sign a contract with the Indian air force for 126 new planes, worth 7 billion euros ($11 billion). Germany is India’s biggest trading partner in Europe, with bilateral trade at 15.4 billion euros in 2010. Indian officials estimate that this figure will grow to 20 billion euros by 2012.”
Europe’s Two-Faced Relationship with Iran
Der Spiegel Online wrote on May 31:
“Relations between Berlin and Tehran have deteriorated in recent years due to German opposition to Iran’s nuclear program, and there have been a number of points of conflict in recent months. Germany recently dropped its opposition to European Union sanctions against a Hamburg-based Iranian bank that was considered a financial lifeline for Tehran’s nuclear program. The EU agreed to impose sanctions on the bank at a foreign ministers’ meeting last week.
“There was also tension between the countries when Iran detained two German reporters in October 2010. They were finally released in February after Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle made a personal visit to Tehran and met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
“Despite Iran’s pariah status, Germany is still the third-largest exporter to the country. Last year, German exports to the Islamic republic were worth €3.8 billion ($5.5 billion). Nevertheless, a number of major German companies, such as Siemens and ThyssenKrupp, have decided to stop doing business with Iran.”
Please make sure to read our Q&A in this Update, discussing the future of Iran and its relationship with Europe, as prophesied in the Bible.
“Who Cares in the Middle East What Obama Says?”
The Independent wrote on May 30:
“This month, in the Middle East, has seen the unmaking of the President of the United States. More than that, it has witnessed the lowest prestige of America in the region since Roosevelt met King Abdul Aziz on the USS Quincy in the Great Bitter Lake in 1945. While Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu played out their farce in Washington… the Arabs got on with the serious business of changing their world, demonstrating and fighting and dying for freedoms they have never possessed. Obama waffled on about change in the Middle East – and about America’s new role in the region. It was pathetic…
“Obama’s failure to support the Arab revolutions until they were all but over lost the US most of its surviving credit in the region… Obama’s policy towards the Middle East – whatever it is – sometimes appears so muddled that it is scarcely worthy of study. He supports, of course, democracy – then admits that this may conflict with America’s interests. In that wonderful democracy called Saudi Arabia, the US is now pushing ahead with a £40 billion arms deal and helping the Saudis to develop a new ‘elite’ force to protect the kingdom’s oil and future nuclear sites…
“Obama stated that the Palestinians would have to answer questions about Hamas. But why should they? What Obama and Netanyahu think about Hamas is now irrelevant to them… Obama says no Palestinian state must be declared at the UN… Who cares in the Middle East what Obama says? Not even, it seems, the Israelis. The Arab spring will soon become a hot summer and there will be an Arab autumn, too. By then, the Middle East may have changed forever. What America says will matter nothing.”
This is truly a sad testimony about a powerful country which becomes more and more insignificant and irrelevant in world affairs. The reason for our national downfall is clearly described in our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.”
Afghan War Gets Even Uglier…
Deutsche Welle reported on May 30:
“A NATO commander apologized on Monday for the deaths of Afghan civilians killed by an airstrike in the southern province of Helmand on Saturday. Afghan officials said the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had killed 12 children and two women. The raid was in response to a Taliban attack on US marines in the area…
“The apology came after President Hamid Karzai’s office issued what it called a ‘last warning’ to US and NATO troops… Karzai said such operations amounted to the ‘murdering of Afghanistan’s women and children’…
“Meanwhile, Afghan officials said on Sunday an investigation was under way into a suicide attack on Saturday that killed two senior police commanders and two German soldiers. German General Markus Kneip, the top NATO officer in the northern region was injured in the blast.”
The paper added on May 31:
“Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday said NATO was ‘not allowed’ to launch attacks on Afghan homes in pursuit of insurgents, and that a recent wave of civilian casualties risks turning the Afghan people against them. ‘NATO must learn that airstrikes on Afghan homes are not allowed and that Afghan people have no tolerance for that anymore,’ Karzai told reporters at a news conference in Kabul. ‘If they don’t stop airstrikes on Afghan homes, their presence in Afghanistan will be considered as an occupying force and against the will of the Afghan people.’ Karzai added that he had warned NATO commanders ‘a hundred times.’
“‘The international community has helped us a lot, but they cannot risk the lives of Afghan people, this can’t be compensated,’ he said… Graphic footage was broadcast on television, showing mourning relatives holding the bodies of several children, among them babies… UN data shows at least three-quarters of civilian deaths are caused by insurgents, but those by NATO forces cause the most anger among the Afghan people.”
The Cost of the Afghan War
The Washington Post wrote on May 30:
“Of all the statistics that President Obama’s national security team will consider when it debates the size of forthcoming troop reductions in Afghanistan, the most influential number probably will not be how many insurgents have been killed or the amount of territory wrested from the Taliban… It will be the cost of the war.
“The U.S. military is on track to spend $113 billion on its operations in Afghanistan this fiscal year, and it is seeking $107 billion for the next. To many of the president’s civilian advisers, that price is too high… Military and civilian officials agree that the cost of the Afghan mission is staggering. The amount per deployed service member in Afghanistan, which the administration estimates at $1 million per year, is significantly higher than it was in Iraq because fuel and other supplies must be trucked into the landlocked nation, often through circuitous routes. Bases, meanwhile, have to be built from scratch.
“The U.S.-led effort to create a new national army, which Afghanistan never had, already has consumed more than $28 billion. The Pentagon wants $12.8 billion for fiscal 2012 — the largest single line item in next year’s Defense Department budget request — to continue training and equipping Afghan soldiers…
“Military leaders maintain that the 30,000-troop surge and an increase in civilian reconstruction efforts have resulted in a dramatic turnaround of what had been a foundering war, creating the possibility of a reasonably stable nation. They insist that a rapid withdrawal of forces would make that goal unachievable by rolling back territorial gains against the Taliban and jeopardizing efforts to develop Afghan security forces and build government institutions…
“On Thursday, the House narrowly defeated an amendment calling for an accelerated withdrawal from Afghanistan and a fixed timetable for turning over military operations to the Kabul government. The vote, 204 to 215, was far thinner than last year’s 162-to-260 tally on the same issue. In the Senate, influential members have said recently that the cost of the war merits a reexamination of the overall U.S. strategy in Afghanistan…
“Some Republican presidential candidates also are beginning to have second thoughts about the scope of the war…”
Mankind has still a long way to go to finally learn that its costly and futile wars will NOT solve our problems and establish lasting peace. In that light, the following article is quite interesting.
“The Way to Peace They Do Not Know…”
The Local wrote on June 2:
“Margot Käßmann, former head of the German Protestant church, used her speech at an annual Christian convention on Thursday to question the morality of the German weapons industry. President Christian Wulff was in her audience. ‘Our national economy benefits from a war that we criticize,’ she said at the 33rd Kirchentag convention in Dresden, addressing an audience of thousands in a sports arena. ‘Is it legitimate to earn money from the weapons trade?’
“Käßmann cited the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which recently reported that Germany’s share of the global weapons trade rose to 11 percent between 2005 and 2010, making it the third biggest weapons exporter in the world, behind the US and Russia…
“Käßmann also criticized Germany’s mission in Afghanistan and the NATO bombing of Libya. She said she had been in favour of enforcing a no-fly zone over the latter country, but condemned the ‘deliberate attempt to kill Qaddafi, with whom we had been doing business with just before. That is no path to peace,’ she said.”
Need to “Redefine” Relationship Between USA and Europe
Deutsche Welle reported on May 28:
“US President Barack Obama has called on America and Europe to renew their flagging global leadership. But the Atlantic partners first must redefine their relationship in the face of Arab uprisings and Asian strength… Europe and the US are struggling to come to terms with the fact that their historic partnership is changing in response to revolts in the Arab world and stunning economic growth in Asia…
“During the Group of Eight (G8) summit in Deauville, France, the US and Europe sought to demonstrate the global leadership role Obama called for in London by agreeing to provide billions of dollars in aid to support the so-called Arab Spring, particularly democratic transitions in Egypt and Tunisia… Although America’s relationship with Europe is rooted in history, Washington’s fate has become deeply intertwined with developments in the Middle East, Asia and Russia over the past decade. As [a] consequence, the US has largely shifted its political attention towards the large emerging powers.
“Central European nations such as Poland, where Obama spent the final leg of his trip, have expressed growing concern that Washington is overlooking their security as it seeks to improve ties with Russia by inviting Moscow to participate in the construction of a missile shield…
“Building partnerships in Europe is complex due to the continent’s maze of political institutions… Washington has to simultaneously engage the continent through NATO, the individual nation-states, as well as through the European Union…. As a result, Washington finds it difficult to engage a European continent that often lacks a common voice on global issues… The US has been disappointed with Europe’s reluctance to engage in Afghanistan and that it did not assume full responsibility for the intervention Libya.”
Sadly, the relationship between the USA and Europe will continue to deteriorate.
EU Unhappy With Ashton
Mail On Line wrote on May 27:
“Baroness Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, has been told she has until the autumn to raise her game or she could lose her job. The Labour peer, who is the world’s highest-paid female politician, was given the warning by leading German politicians… the attack from Germany could cut short her five-year term in Brussels on £250,000 a year – a salary that is higher than President Barack Obama’s.
“Wolfgang [Schaeuble], the German finance minister, said Lady Ashton ‘does not have the power to portray Europe’ on the world stage. He criticised the impression she had made during the Arab Spring, saying she had ‘not spoken with one voice’ for Europe. Elmar Brok, an MEP from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, warned that she had until autumn to prove herself… She is also facing criticism from the French, Spanish and British as well as some of the smaller member states, particularly for what is seen as a low-key approach to her job.”
Soon, Europe WILL speak and act much more powerfully.
Slavery in the Third Reich
Der Spiegel Online wrote on May 27:
“Germany’s occupation of Poland is one of the darkest chapters of World War II. Some 6 million people, almost 18 percent of the Polish population, were killed during the Nazi reign of terror that saw mass executions, forced evictions and enslavement… The Nazis’ aim was to transform the Poles into a nation of slaves. In May 1940 Himmler wrote that ‘the non-German peoples of the East may not receive any education beyond four-year elementary school…’
“The occupiers set up the first major ghetto in Lodz, which they renamed Litzmannstadt, in the ‘Reich District of Wartheland’ (also known as the Warthegau), where 3.7 million Poles and 400,000 Jews were resettled for ‘germanization.’ Even minor offenses led to Poles being sent to Germany as forced laborers. In this way, more than two million people were enslaved… In November 1942, police officers began brutally evacuating more than 100,000 Polish farmers to make way for 20,000 ethnic Germans. Those fit for work were sent to Germany as slave laborers, old people and children were resettled in so-called ‘retirement villages,’ while anyone deemed ‘inferior’ or ‘unreliable’ was deported to Auschwitz.”
This should serve as a painful reminder that slavery is possible in our sophisticated civilized world. The Bible has clearly announced for thousands of years that in these end times, the USA, Great Britain, Canada, and other English-speaking nations, as well as the Jewish people, WILL BE defeated in war and enslaved by a powerful enemy.
Radiation Fears in Japan
Focus wrote on May 28:
“The news agency Kyodo reported that the damaged [Fukushima nuclear] plant was not sufficiently secure and protected against heavy rain and wind… Kyodo also reported that at twelve places on the ocean floor, within a radius of between 50 and 300 kilometers, Japanese governmental agencies detected radiation levels which exceeded officialy safe limits hundreds of times and which would be very dangerous to human health if they would also be deteced in fish and shellfish.”
Der Spiegel Online wrote on June 1:
“Contamination levels in the Japanese mountain village of Iitate are higher than in some parts of the Chernobyl exclusion zone. Its evacuation has been a painful process for residents…
“In the days following the explosions inside the Fukushima reactors, the wind carried radiation clouds in a northwesterly direction, all the way into the mountains surrounding Iitate, about 40 kilometers away from the plant. The people working in the fields at the time knew nothing about the dangers in the sky. No one had warned them. Later on, the authorities measured radiation levels of up to 45 microsievert per hour in Iitate. This is several times the level that led to the evacuation of Chernobyl…
“Twenty years after Chernobyl, the United Nations published a comprehensive report on the health of those resettled from the restricted zone there. According to the report, the people were traumatized by the loss of their homes and the fear of radiation damage. Believing that they are doomed to die, many drink and smoke excessively…”
The reality of the plague of dangerous radiation and the accompanying pain and suffering of the victims cannot be overemphasized. Our nuclear plants are simply not safe enough to prevent terrible disasters from occuring. It has now been reported that a nuclear plant near Joplin, Missouri, could be seriously affected by a powerful tornado. In this light, Germany’s controversial decision to abandon nuclear energy altogether is quite interesting, as the next article shows, also in consideration of the fact that Germany is becoming once again the (unpopular) leader of Europe in important questions.
Germany To Abandon Nuclear Energy
The Local wrote on May 31:
“The German plan, hammered out by Merkel’s ruling coalition in marathon overnight negotiations, will see the country shutter all 17 of its nuclear reactors… within 11 years. Seven of the eight reactors already offline are the country’s oldest, which the government shut down for three months pending a safety probe after the Fukushima emergency. The eighth is the Kruemmel plant, in north Germany, which has been offline for years because of technical problems. Six further reactors will shut down by 2021 and the three most modern will stop operating the following year 2022.
“Monday’s decision, which could run into legal challenges from energy companies, means Germany will have to find the 22 percent of its electricity needs that were covered by nuclear power from other sources… Thorny questions remained unanswered, including finding a permanent storage site for the highly radioactive waste and slashing CO2 emissions…
“France, meanwhile, said nuclear power allowed the country with its 58 reactors to provide electricity at prices about 40 percent cheaper than other European countries, on average… Sweden said the German decision would lead to a disjointed energy policy that failed to adequately address climate change. Poland and nuclear-free Austria, however, welcomed the German move… Poland, considering launching its first nuclear power station in 2020, said it would rethink its plans.
“The United States and Britain have announced plans to build new reactors as an alternative to producing harmful greenhouse gas emissions. Italy scrapped nuclear power in 1987, one year after the Chernobyl disaster, while Switzerland said last week it would phase out atomic energy by 2034.”
Der Spiegel Online wrote on May 31:
“… the majority believes the chancellor had no other choice given the broad consensus in the German populace that nuclear power has no place in the country. That sentiment is expected to be codified by the German parliament on July 8…
“The Financial Times Deutschland writes: ‘… since the nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima, it is impossible in Germany to mobilize a majority in favor of a return to atomic energy’…
“The tabloid Bild writes: ‘… German prosperity and millions of jobs in the country are dependent on affordable energy… what share of the costs will have to be picked up by renters and homeowners? The government has acted on the behalf of voters, but who will be forced to pick up the tab in the end?’
“The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes: ‘…The upgrading of Germany’s energy supply, related costs and the necessity of greater energy saving will hit or at least be felt by all…’
“The conservative Die Welt writes: ‘… the breakneck speed with which the government decided to hastily and permanently turn its back on the use of nuclear energy by 2022 makes a mockery of every democratic rule of procedure. It began with the repealing of the decision to extend nuclear life spans … which happened at the spur of the moment after Fukushima, without any discussion or reflection — out of fear of the Greens (who have recently seen their influence increase dramatically in Germany).’”
Germany’s Deadly Disease Outbreak…
Time magazine wrote on May 30:
“German authorities are urging consumers not to panic as an outbreak of a virulent strain of enterohemorrhagic E. coli known as EHEC has killed at least  people, with no sign of abating. The bacterial outbreak — which was first reported on May 20 in northern Germany — is believed to have infected around [2,000] people, but officials fear it hasn’t yet reached its peak. After scientists in the north German port city of Hamburg traced the bacterium to cucumbers imported from Spain, German health-safety officials have advised consumers to steer clear of raw cucumbers, salad, and tomatoes. And now the fear has spread to Russia, where authorities on Monday banned the import of all raw vegetables from Germany and Spain — and threatened to widen the ban to produce from the rest of the European Union.
“The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in Stockholm has said in a statement that the outbreak in Germany is one of the biggest of its kind worldwide, and certainly the largest ever in Germany. Up to 500 cases of EHEC have been reported in the northern port city of Hamburg alone…
“‘This is a very serious outbreak,’ says Thomas Alter, a food-safety expert at the Institute of Food Hygiene at Berlin’s Free University. ‘In the past, there have been smaller EHEC outbreaks in Germany which have been detected in beef or [unpasteurized] milk. But there’s never been an EHEC outbreak linked to vegetables.’ Alter notes that Germany normally has an average of 900 cases of EHEC each year, but the new outbreak is ‘very dangerous.’ ‘The challenge now is to identify the source of the infection and determine how vegetables were contaminated by the EHEC bacterium which is usually found in cattle,’ he says. The European Disease Centre says that transmission of the EHEC infection usually occurs through contaminated food or water, and through contact with animals, but person-to-person transmission is also possible…
“Amid growing concerns that the outbreak is spreading, some German supermarket chains have taken Spanish-imported cucumbers off the shelves and German consumers have started boycotting raw vegetables, even those from Germany. According to a survey published on Sunday in the newspaper Bild am Sonntag, 58% of Germans say they are not eating fresh cucumbers, raw tomatoes or salad. German farmers say they are now facing huge losses and are being forced to destroy crops because of the consumer boycott. However, despite pressure from Germany’s powerful farming lobby, the government is still sticking to its guidelines…
“‘My advice is simple: avoid salad, cucumbers and raw tomatoes, wash your hands carefully in the kitchen, and heat up all food properly,’ says Lothar Wieler, professor of microbiology at Berlin’s Free University. ‘The high mortality rate and the spiraling number of cases of patients infected with EHEC who develop HUS are extremely worrying,’ he says, adding that the EHEC bacterium cannot be treated with antibiotics…
“Other EHEC cases have been reported across Europe — in Britain, Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Sweden — but all of those cases involve either German nationals or patients who have recently traveled to Germany. European health officials say no case of a locally acquired infection has so far been detected outside Germany…”
The Associated Press added on June 1:
“The outbreak is already considered the third-largest involving E. coli in recent world history, and it may be the deadliest.”
Der Spiegel Online wrote on June 2:
“As the E. coli outbreak continues to ravage Germany and other parts of Europe, the World Health Organization said Thursday that the aggressive intestinal bacteria is a new strain never seen before. Meanwhile fears of the illness prompted Russia to ban imports of vegetables from the EU… the World Health Organization announced that preliminary genetic sequencing had revealed the deadly strain is likely a mutant form of two separate E. coli bacteria that is new to scientists… Thousands of people in nine European countries have been infected by the bacteria… The swiftly spreading outbreak is baffling even the most experienced of doctors… In the meantime experts have ruled out their initial suspicion that Spanish cucumbers were the source of the E. coli bacteria…
“The EU commission has since removed its warning against Spanish cucumbers, but Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero told a national radio station that his country would seek reparations from European authorities to cover farmers’ losses… The outbreak also prompted Russia on Thursday to ban the import of vegetables from the entire European Union, a move the commission health spokesman Frederic Vincent called ‘disproportionate.’ The commission will write a letter to Russian authorities demanding an explanation, he said, adding that fresh fruit and vegetable exports to Russia amount to between €3 billion and €4 billion ($4.3 billion and $5.8 billion) per year, primarily in apples.
“Despite the EU’s criticism, Germany’s disease control authority, the Robert Koch Institute, maintained its warning against eating raw tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce until the source of the bacteria could be found. Experts remain uncertain whether it arises during transport, loading, or packaging the products. However, experts said it was unlikely the bacteria’s source would be located quickly, if at all…”
In His Word, the Bible, God speaks of worldwide costly diseases—some of them unheard of before—which will plague this world prior to Christ’s return.
Tunnels and Excavations Under Jerusalem
The Associated Press reported on May 30:
“Underneath the crowded alleys and holy sites of old Jerusalem, hundreds of people are snaking at any given moment through tunnels, vaulted medieval chambers and Roman sewers in a rapidly expanding subterranean city invisible from the streets above. At street level, the walled Old City is an energetic and fractious enclave with a physical landscape that is predominantly Islamic and a population that is mainly Arab. Underground Jerusalem is different…
“Archaeological digs under the disputed Old City are a matter of immense sensitivity. For Israel, the tunnels are proof of the depth of Jewish roots here, and this has made the tunnels one of Jerusalem’s main tourist draws: The number of visitors, mostly Jews and Christians, has risen dramatically in recent years to more than a million visitors in 2010. But many Palestinians, who reject Israel’s sovereignty in the city, see them as a threat to their own claims to Jerusalem…
“Beginning this summer, a new passage will be open… : a sewer Jewish rebels are thought to have used to flee the Roman legions who destroyed the Jerusalem temple in 70 A.D. The sewer leads uphill, passing beneath the Old City walls before expelling visitors into sunlight next to the rectangular enclosure where the temple once stood, now home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the gold-capped Dome of the Rock…
“Palestinian Muslims… are suspicious of any government moves in the Old City and particularly around the Al-Aqsa compound, Islam’s third-holiest shrine. Jews know the compound as the Temple Mount, site of two destroyed temples and the center of the Jewish faith for three millennia… Mindful that the compound has the potential to trigger devastating conflict, Israel’s policy is to allow no excavations there…
“Despite the Israeli assurances, however, rumors persist that the excavations are undermining the physical stability of the Islamic holy sites. ‘I believe the Israelis are tunneling under the mosques,’ said Najeh Bkerat, an official of the Waqf, the Muslim religious body that runs the compound under Israel’s overall security control. Samir Abu Leil, another Waqf official, said he had heard hammering that very morning underneath the Waqf’s offices, in a Mamluk-era building that sits just outside the holy compound and directly over the route of the Western Wall tunnel, and had filed a complaint with police.”
This existence of a network of tunnels beneath Jerusalem is also interesting in that it could give additional meaning to the prophecy of the strong possibility of a future erection of a temple on the Temple Mount, prior to Christ’s return, and the certainty of a future military invasion of that city.
Our Selective Memories
The following article shows how careful one must be with “repressed memories,” and it gives useful tips as to what parents can do to foster even early memories of their children.
The Wall Street Journal wrote on May 31:
“Why we remember some scenes from early childhood and forget others has long intrigued scientists—as well as parents striving to create happy memories for their kids. One of the biggest mysteries: why most people can’t seem to recall anything before age 3 or 4. Now, researchers in Canada have demonstrated that some young children can remember events from even before age 2—but those memories are fragile, with many vanishing by about age 10…
“Researchers asked 140 children, aged between 4 and 13, to describe their three earliest memories, and repeated the exercise two years later with the same children. On average, the 50 youngest children, aged 4 to 6 during the first interview, recalled events from when they were barely 2 years old, as verified by their parents. When they were interviewed two years later, only five of those 50 children mentioned the same earliest memory. By contrast, 22 of the 61 children who were 10 to 13 at the first interview were able to mention the same earliest memory when they were interviewed again two years later…
“The inability of adults to remember the earliest years of childhood—also known as infantile amnesia—has been the subject of speculation for more than a century. Modern researchers think that storing and retrieving memories require language skills that don’t develop until age 3 or 4. Others believe that while children can recall fragments of scenes from early life, they can’t create autobiographical memories—the episodes that make up one’s life story—until they have a firm concept of ‘self,’ which may take a few more years…
“Indeed, experts say that if parents want their children to remember particular events from their early lives, they should discuss them in as much detail as possible and help children see their significance. Talking over events with an adult ‘gives a meaning to memories that children may not have before,’ says psychologist Judith Hudson of Rutgers University who has studied how mother-child interactions influence memories. Ask a child, ‘Remember when we went to the zoo? What did you see?’ she suggests. ‘Suddenly, it’s something to talk about and share.’
“Traumatic events, such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks, also tend to become seared in children’s memories… Dr. Peterson and colleagues interviewed 145 children aged 2 to 13 who were treated in a hospital emergency room for injuries. Children who recalled crying a lot at the time were more likely to remember specific details two years later.
“Yet most early childhood memories are far more mundane, which baffles experts and parents alike… Still, because the brain is constantly reassembling the fragments, they are vulnerable to distortion… In one famous case, the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget had vivid memories of being kidnapped at age 2 in Paris, complete with the kidnappers scratching his nurse’s face. Years later, the nurse confessed to fabricating the story—but Piaget had heard his family discuss it so often that his mind created a false memory…
“Some therapists claim to be able to ‘recover’ repressed memories of childhood traumas, but the field fell into disrepute in the 1980s when some unscrupulous therapists were found to be planting false memories of incest and child abuse.
“Is it possible to recall more of your own childhood memories? Some researchers believe that people can access more if they have the right cues. Discussing past times with family members can jog the memories as well as offer different perspectives. Photographs and letters are also helpful; knowing specific dates like the birth of a sibling or a move to a different house can help place fragmentary memories in time.”