Current Events

Britain’s Blagging and Bribery Scandal

Deutsche Welle reported on July 8:

“The former editor of the News of the World, and former aide to Prime Minister David Cameron, has been arrested in London over phone hacking allegations… Coulson has close links to Prime Minister David Cameron and was a key figure in last year’s Conservative election campaign. Coulson was forced to quit as Cameron’s communications chief in January after the phone hacking allegations resurfaced. Cameron has come under fire for hiring Coulson shortly after he resigned as News of the World editor in 2007… In a further twist, British police on Friday re-arrested the paper’s former royal editor Clive Goodman over allegations of corruption. Goodman was jailed for four months in 2007 for hacking into phone messages from the royal household…

“Cameron on Friday called for a new system of press regulation in the wake of the closure of the News of the World newspaper. He also promised a full inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal gripping the British media… Cameron is also friends with Rebekah Brooks, Coulson’s predecessor as editor of the popular Sunday paper. She is now chief executive of News International and a close confidante of Rupert Murdoch, the Australian-born media tycoon. Cameron said Friday that he would have accepted her resignation, had it been offered to him. Murdoch’s media empire spans the globe, and includes Fox Television and the Wall Street Journal in the United States, along with major broadcasting operations in Australia and Asia… [According to Deutsche Welle, Murdoch also owns News International which operates The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times.]

“On Thursday, News Corp announced that Sunday’s edition of the News of the World would be the last. It is the bestselling Sunday newspaper in the country, selling some 2.7 million copies a week, and has been published for 168 years… The News of the World has been at the center of phone-hacking claims for several years. The targets included the royal family, celebrities and politicians. But it was the allegations that journalists hacked into the cell phones of victims of crime, terror attacks and the relatives of British soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan that sparked a public outcry, alienating readers and advertisers.”

BBC wrote on July 11:

“The Sunday Times is alleged to have targeted the personal information of the former Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the time he was chancellor, a BBC investigation has found… The Browns also fear medical records relating to their son Fraser, whom the Sun revealed in 2006 had cystic fibrosis, may have been obtained…
“Blagging, or ‘knowingly or recklessly obtaining or disclosing personal data or information without the consent of the data controller’ has been illegal since 1998. A blagger alleged to be acting for the Sunday Times posed as Brown and obtained details of his Abbey National account in January 2000… The Abbey National said to Mr Brown’s lawyer it was a ‘well-orchestrated scheme of deception.’”

The London Evening Standard wrote on July 11:

“Personal details about the Queen and her closest aides were sold to the News of the World by corrupt royal protection officers…The information included phone numbers and tips about the movements and activities of the Queen, Prince Philip and staff in a serious breach of national security…

“Around half a dozen emails indicating payments totalling more than £100,000 by News of the World journalists to corrupt Met officers were found… Several police officers and a number of other current or former News of the World staff are expected to be arrested over the coming weeks over the bribery scandal.”

The UK press is filled with reports on the British scandal—which some have already described as the “British Watergate.” The German paper, Die Welt, wrote on July 11 that Britain’s Premier David Cameron is affected by the scandal and is quick to distance himself from it—while fighting for his political survival.

UK Government vs. Murdoch

The Associated Press reported on July 12:

“The cozy relationship that Rupert Murdoch long enjoyed with the British power structure came to an abrupt end Tuesday, just as he needed it to complete one of his biggest media buys ever. The billionaire… suddenly faces stiff government opposition to his bid for total control of a much more lucrative property: the satellite British Sky Broadcasting company. The news came in a stunning announcement from Prime Minister David Cameron’s office that the government will support a motion calling on Murdoch and his News Corp. to withdraw the $12 billion bid for BSkyB.

“Cameron’s turnabout means the Australian-born Murdoch, who held great influence in British politics no matter who ran the government, suddenly finds all three major political parties lined up against him. He’s even been asked to appear before lawmakers next week to answer questions about the conduct of News International, Murdoch’s UK company…”

Murdoch Withdraws Bid for BSkyB

The New York Times wrote on July 13:

“In a stunning reversal after days of building scandal surrounding its British newspaper operations, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation announced on Wednesday that it was withdrawing a $12 billion bid to take over the shares it does not already own in Britain’s main satellite television broadcaster. The withdrawal from the bid for complete control of British Sky Broadcasting, also known as BSkyB, represented the most severe damage inflicted so far on Mr. Murdoch’s corporate ambitions by a crisis which erupted only 10 days ago with reports that The News of the World tabloid ordered the hacking of the voice mail of Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old girl abducted and murdered in 2002. Since then, virtually every day has brought dizzying new disclosure and developments, culminating in News Corporation’s announcement on Wednesday…

“Only hours before the announcement, Prime Minister David Cameron had sought to distance himself from Mr. Murdoch and had urged him to drop the bid for BSkyB, reversing his previous support… The scandal has also convulsed the British politicians, press and police…[G]iven Mr. [Murdoch’s] erstwhile towering influence in British public life, the scandal has also cast unusually sharp light into a world of cozy relationships between political and corporate leaders and senior police officers.

“On Wednesday, Mr. Cameron offered details for the first time of a broad inquiry into those relationships to be led by a senior judge, Lord Justice Brian Leveson. Mr. Cameron told Parliament that it would have the power to summon witnesses to testify under oath. The announcement came as Mr. Cameron fought to recover the initiative in a scandal that has turned into potentially the most damaging crisis of his time in office, partly because of his own close relationship with senior figures in Mr. Murdoch’s British subsidiary…”

German Press Attacks British Democracy—“It’s a Farce”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 14:

“As the News of the World phone hacking scandal continues to unfold, there are indications that it extends beyond the press to the police and even the government. German papers on Thursday write that the situation reveals grave problems within Britain’s democratic system…

“Conservative daily Die Welt writes:

“‘There is more rotten in the state of Great Britain than is dreamt of in our philosophy. And more than just in the media, whose reputation has sunk to an all-time low through the revelations about the Sunday scandal paper News of the World. But this is about more than that. The complicity of some Scotland Yard officials with the surveillance methods of the Murdoch empire are also damaging trust in the country’s law enforcement… It’s a nation under shock. Too much institutional erosion was simply ignored…’

“Left-leaning daily Die Tageszeitung writes:

“‘The News of the World case has shown the British public that their democracy is a farce, with power-hungry politicians who bow to the most loathsome tabloids and money-grubbing police who hide the crimes of these papers. The investigations that Prime Minister Cameron has called for make sense only when they include all sides and lead to consequences. Most of the investigations to date … give no cause for optimism.’”

America’s Debt Ceiling Crisis

The Associated Press reported on July 11:

“Call it eliminating an unfair break, or removing an unjust loophole, or even ‘taking a balanced approach.’ Just don’t call it raising taxes. As they work toward a must-do deal with Republicans on paring trillions from the deficit in order to raise the nation’s debt limit, President Barack Obama and Democrats are saying almost anything to avoid the politically toxic pronouncement that they want to increase taxes. Republicans, for their part, are just as quick to declare elimination of the most rarefied corporate benefit a job-killing tax hike on the American people. It’s all about winning the public relations debate over the debt limit, and in turn, perhaps, gaining a more politically advantageous outcome in the resulting deal itself…

“Taxes are hardly the only issue going through the partisan spin cycle — and emerging virtually unrecognizable — as the days tick down to an Aug. 2 deadline to raise the federal government’s borrowing limit or face unprecedented default. Take Social Security. Obama is insisting he won’t agree to ‘slash’ benefits — a vague word the White House refuses to define, thus leaving room for benefits to be cut without ever saying it…”

What an interesting testimony on the duplicity of politics.

More Taxes?

The Wall Street Journal added on July 11:

“So the fondest Washington hopes for a grand debt-limit deal have broken down over taxes. House Speaker John Boehner said late Saturday that he couldn’t move ahead with a $4 trillion deal because President Obama was insisting on a $1 trillion tax increase, and the White House quickly denounced House Republicans…

“How dare Republicans not agree to break their campaign promises and raise taxes when the jobless rate is 9.2% and President Obama’s economic recovery is in jeopardy? We think Mr. Boehner is making the sensible choice. No one wants to reform the tax code more than we do, but passing a $1 trillion tax increase first on the promise of tax reform later is a political trap…

“Keep in mind that Mr. Obama has already signed the largest tax increase since 1993… Starting in 2013, the bill adds an additional 0.9% to the 2.9% Medicare tax for singles who earn more than $200,000 and couples making more than $250,000. For [the] first time, the bill also applies Medicare’s 2.9% payroll tax rate to investment income, including dividends, interest income and capital gains…  And don’t forget a new annual fee on health insurance providers starting in 2014 and estimated to raise $60 billion. This tax, like many others on this list, will be passed along to consumers in higher health-care costs…

“Mr. Obama is now pushing to reduce the payroll tax by two-percentage points for another year to boost the economy, but he’s already built in a big increase in that same payroll tax for 2013. So if a payroll tax cut creates jobs this year, why doesn’t a payroll tax increase destroy jobs after 2013?…

“Last November Republicans won the House and landslide gains in many states in large part because of the deep unpopularity of the stimulus and ObamaCare. Mr. Boehner has a mandate for spending cuts and repealing the Affordable Care Act. If Republicans instead agree to raise taxes in return for future spending cuts that may or may not happen, they will simply be the tax collectors for Mr. Obama’s much expanded entitlement society.”

It is curious that the Weekly Standard reminded its readership on July 11 that President Obama had said in August of 2009 that “raising taxes in a recession is a bad idea.” How many times have politicians promised us that there would be no new taxes, only to subsequently break those promises? Just think of President Bush Sr.’s famous claim, when running for office, “Read my lips, no new taxes,” which he subsequently violated, when he was in office. How can anyone have any trust and confidence in any one of our present or future political leaders? The answer is, we cannot, and we should not even try to do so. This is not God’s world, but it is ruled by Satan the devil, the god of this world and the prince of the power of the earth–the liar from the beginning, who has deceived the whole world. This includes every country. But God has given us a promise that we CAN rely on. He will soon send His Son Jesus Christ back to this earth, to replace all corrupt human leadership. He will restore the Kingdom of God on this earth and rule this world with fairness, equity and righteousness. Self-seeking incompetent politicians will finally become a fading memory of the distant past.

IMF Pressures USA

The Associated Press reported on July 10:

“The International Monetary Fund’s new chief foresees ‘real nasty consequences’ for the U.S. and global economies if the U.S. fails to raise its borrowing limit. Christine Lagarde, the first woman to head the global lending institution, said in an interview broadcast Sunday that it would cause interest rates to rise and stock markets to fall. That would threaten an important IMF goal, which is preserving stability in the world economy, she said. The U.S. borrowing limit is $14.3 trillion. Obama administration officials say the U.S. would begin to default without an agreement by Aug. 2…

“Republicans are insisting on deep spending cuts as a condition of voting in favor of raising the debt ceiling. Obama and congressional Democrats are insisting that more tax revenue should be part of the mix… The IMF has 187 member nations and lends money to countries with troubled finances.”

The IMF’s goal is to dominate the economic world. In the future, we will see more and more pressure exerted by the IMF on countries like the USA or Great Britain.

Cut Off Social Security Checks First?

The Associated Press reported on July 11:

“A government report Friday saying the economy created far fewer jobs than expected in June compounded fears that the U.S. economy was in even worse shape than previously thought. The unemployment rate rose to 9.2%. Weekend budget talks between Republicans and Democrats stalled, raising the possibility that the U.S. might reach its debt limit before a deal to raise that ceiling and make spending cuts is in place. That could mean the government might miss a debt payment for the first time in history, although it’s more likely other payments, like social security or military pay, would be skipped first.”

Reuters reported on July 12:

“President Barack Obama raised the stakes in the third straight day of budget talks Tuesday by warning that senior citizens and veterans may suffer first if the debt ceiling is not raised by Aug. 2… Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said a ‘real solution’ to the U.S. debt problem was unlikely while Obama was in office… Obama said in an interview with U.S. television network CBS that checks to recipients of the Social Security retirement program may not go out in early August if he and congressional leaders do not agree on a debt deal… Failure to seal a deal by Aug. 2 could… put the United States at risk of another recession…

“Obama’s warning that senior citizens… could suffer first if a deal is not reached could give lawmakers a nudge ahead of 2012 elections. Seniors punished Democrats last year for including Medicare cuts in their healthcare package and then turned on Republicans in a special New York election this year over a Republican plan to overhaul the healthcare program for the elderly. It also evoked memories of the debt limit crisis of 1996 when Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin warned he would not be able to send out Social Security pension checks the next month if the ceiling were not raised. The Republican-controlled House immediately voted to allow the government to issue more debt to make those Social Security payments.”

While Europe and the USA battle with their economies, Europe will recover and/or stay strong, while the USA will not. It would be a crying shame if, in light of all the wasteful spending of the US government, they would indeed begin cutting social security payments. For our international readers, Social Security benefits are not akin to discretionary Welfare, but they have been earned by Americans during their working life, and should be considered vested and irrevocable.

The question we need to ask is simply this: Whose fault is it that that the prospect of insolvency looms for the USA? Certainly not the fault of the senior citizens, but mainly of the former and current US governments which have overextended themselves by wasting borrowed money for at least unnecessary and at worst ungodly projects. And raising the debt ceiling and allowing for even more borrowing will only make matters worse.

Companies Flee California

CNN Money wrote on July 12:

“Buffeted by high taxes, strict regulations and uncertain state budgets, a growing number of California companies are seeking friendlier business environments outside of the Golden State. And governors around the country, smelling blood in the water, have stepped up their courtship of California companies… Companies are ‘disinvesting’ in California at a rate five times greater than just two years ago… This includes leaving altogether, establishing divisions elsewhere or opting not to set up shop in California…

“The state has been ranked by Chief Executive magazine as the worst place to do business for seven years. ‘California, once a business friendly state, continues to conduct a war on its own economy,’ the magazine wrote… The most popular places to go? Texas, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Virginia and North Carolina… All rank in the Top 13 places to do business, according to Chief Executive.”

Having created the mess in the first place, it is high time for California’s government to wake up. So far, this has not happened—but perhaps with the handwriting on the wall, someone will have enough sense to DO something about it.

Italy Next?

The Local wrote on July 11:

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Monday on the parliament in Rome to approve government spending cuts so as to end speculation Italy could become the next casualty of the eurozone debt crisis… ‘I have full confidence that the Italian government will pass exactly such a budget. I spoke yesterday (Sunday) by phone with Italian Prime Minister (Silvio Berlusconi) about precisely this topic… The euro itself is stable, but in some countries there is a debt problem,’ Merkel said.

“Berlusconi’s government has earmarked about €40 billion ($56.5 billion) in savings over the next four years to stabilise the country’s public finances… Rome has already pushed through spending cuts of €25 billion for 2011-12 and the latest package should reduce the budget deficit to just 0.2 percent of output by 2014 from 4.6 percent last year…

“Speculation has risen in recent days that Italy, which has the eurozone’s third-biggest economy, could follow Greece, Ireland and Portugal in needing outside help. Italy’s accumulated public debt is equal to about 120 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), one of the highest rates in the world. Borrowing costs on Italian debt reached record levels on Monday.”

Whatever the immediate outcome may be, it is very clear from the Bible that Italy will not forsake the euro, but rather, that it will be among the prophesied ten core nations or groups of nations leading Europe. In all likelihood, we can say the same about Spain (see one of our subsequent articles).

Italy in Turmoil—End of the Road for Berlusconi?

Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 12:

“Italy is used to crises — the government is rudderless, the economy is stagnant and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is mired in scandals. Now the country may become embroiled in the euro crisis, and its fate lies in the hands of its finance minister. Berlusconi, for his part, faces the ruins of his political career… After a black Friday and a black Monday the nation initially seemed to be facing a black Tuesday…

“This turmoil coincided with the auction on Tuesday of almost €7 billion worth of 12-month bills. If the sale had failed, or if it had even been undersubscribed, the markets may have panicked. But the whole issue found buyers, albeit at significantly higher interest rates. The gross yield on the bills rose to 3.67 percent from 2.15 percent at the previous auction in June. The Milan bourse breathed a sigh of relief and was in positive territory for several hours — but it is likely to remain a rollercoaster in the coming weeks…

“Economists interviewed on television on Tuesday kept on repeating the mantra that ‘Italy isn’t Greece or Portugal,’ and ‘Italy’s economic fundamentals aren’t that bad.’ And it’s true: no real estate bubble has collapsed in the country, banks aren’t battling enormous sums of toxic investments and new state debt is well below that of France, for example. Italy’s unemployment rate is at 9 percent, miles away from Spain’s 20 percent. The country — the third-largest economy in the EU — has a solid industry structure, mainly thanks to tens of thousands of small and mid-size businesses, which still earn billions each year through exports.

“On Tuesday, though, the country’s politicians managed to send a signal of determination — led by the opposition… All three opposition parties in parliament pledged not to stand in the way of the passage of a package of austerity measures within the next week. They won’t vote in favor, but they vowed not to slow down the bill with a slew of amendment requests. Furthermore, even the final passage of a budget this Sunday is now seen as a possibility.

“It is partly for this reason that the situation on the Milan stock exchange relaxed on Tuesday. Furthermore, the risk premium on Italian bonds dropped again and is now back to just three percentage points higher than the German benchmark. But the opposition also made it clear that they see this as Berlusconi’s last battle. Massimo D’Alema, head of the leftist Democratic Party, said that once the austerity package is passed, Berlusconi should ‘go immediately’ and make room for a new government aimed at improving the country’s financial health.

“And Berlusconi himself? Little had been heard from him for the last four days — until Tuesday afternoon. His coalition, he said, is ‘unified and determined.’ He said he welcomed the conciliatory gestures from the opposition — and said nothing at all about a possible resignation. But in the end, his future lies more in the hands of the financial markets than it does with the Italian parliament. Any additional signs of investor distrust could signal the end of the road for Berlusconi.”

Deutsche Welle added on July 12:

“… the Italian markets launched a surprising rally after nose-diving in early trading to end up almost breaking even. The Italian recovery surprised many, considering that the European Union finance ministers’ summit in Brussels was primarily focusing on the possibility of Italy becoming the latest eurozone country to need some form of financial assistance…

“At their summit in Brussels on Monday, Eurozone finance ministers had already indicated a willingness to expand the size and scope of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), as well as proposing complimentary measures like lowering interest rates or extending the maturity on loans for particularly hard-hit countries like Greece… Over the past fourteen months, the eurozone and sometimes other EU partners – with the help of the International Monetary Fund – have been forced to offer emergency loans packages to Greece, Ireland and Portugal…

“The EFSF currently has a theoretical lending capacity of 440 billion euros, and despite the pledge to bolster this, politicians have not offered any concrete increased figures. ‘If we stand together, no country will be at risk. We will do everything possible so that there is neither a risk of contagion nor a default by a member state of the eurozone,’ Luxembourg’s Finance Minister Luc Frieden said in Brussels. ‘It will be difficult to convince the markets, but we all agree that everything has to be done to ensure the stability of the eurozone.’”

Europe Demands Urgent Clampdown on Rating Agencies

Deutsche Welle reported on July 12:

“As EU finance ministers met in Brussels, concern was spreading that Italy could soon become the latest casualty of the debt crisis. Italian and other European stocks suffered heavy losses, especially in the banking sector, reflecting worries that Italy’s financial stability is at risk… Borrowing rates for Italy and Spain rose to the highest levels since the eurozone was created, and in the case of Spain, to the highest level since 1997. The euro fell sharply against the US dollar as investors lost faith in the single currency.

“But politicians were quick to quell rumors that Italy could become the latest country to seek an EU bailout. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble offered reassurance that the debt crisis had not spread further. ‘It is true that Italy has to take difficult budget decisions, but the Italian finance minister has made very convincing proposals and I’m sure they will make the right decisions,’ he said. ‘Italy is on the right track.’

“Schäuble was among several top European politicians to suggest that rating agencies such as Standard and Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch were partly responsible for fueling uncertainty over Italy’s financial status. He said that verification was needed ‘to check if there is abusive behavior’ by the agencies. ‘We need to examine the possibilities of smashing the rating agency oligopoly,’ Schäuble said. 

“In response, EU officials in Brussels called for an urgent clampdown on rating agencies, suggesting a ban on ratings for countries covered by international rescue packages such as Greece.” 

Europe’s road towards more and more autocratic and dictatorial measures should be carefully observed.

Europe Must Finally Lead

Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 13:

“The euro crisis appears to have entered a turbulent new phase, as the European Union hesitates on approving a second bailout for Greece and the risk of contagion seems ever larger. Italy has slid into speculators’ crosshairs this week amid fears that its debt mountain, equivalent to 120 percent of its gross domestic product, has grown too big to handle. Observers say the country — the third-largest economy in the euro zone — is too big to be bailed out. On top of that, the rating agency Moody’s has now downgraded Ireland’s debt to junk status, following its downgrade of Portugal last week.

“It seems that the time has come for decisive action on the part of Europe’s leaders. But precisely that is missing… The markets are reacting nervously to the uncertainty. The euro fell to its lowest level against the dollar in four months, and Italian stocks have taken a beating. The country’s main share index fell by as much as 4 percent on Tuesday before recovering… German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble… insisted that the EU was on the correct path to stemming the debt crisis…

“The conservative Die Welt writes:

“‘The fact that important European leaders have still not realized the full extent of the problem is having a catastrophic effect. Chancellor Angela Merkel, for example, temporarily neglected the euro crisis for weeks and focused on the so-called energy revolution, which could easily have waited another month or two. And now, when things are heating up because Italy is under pressure, Merkel has gone to Africa. As an economic powerhouse, Germany profits from the euro zone more than any other country. But Merkel is visiting Kenya, Angola and Nigeria rather than taking the lead in Europe and saving our domestic market. One can only hope that the powerful turbulence on the capital markets has woken up the chancellor and her colleagues. It will take more to get this crisis under control than a decision by euro-zone finance ministers to approve the new euro rescue package. … Instead of disappearing for their summer vacation, Europe’s leaders must now sit down and negotiate — and not only next weekend, but until they have found a convincing result and have regained their ability to take action.’”

When even a conservative and CDU-friendly paper such as Die Welt attacks Chancellor Angela Merkel for lacking in decisive leadership, we know that she is in deep political trouble.

Egypt’s Increasing Frustration

Reuters wrote on July 10:

“Anger has been rising against what many Egyptians see as the reluctance of the military council to deliver on the demands of protesters who ousted Hosni Mubarak in February… A speech by Prime Minister Essam Sharaf on Saturday that promised action but was thin on detail only stoked frustrations… Analysts said the army-appointed government needed to act quickly if it wanted to avoid a further escalation, even if some of the aspirations for change were unreasonably high.

“Some chanted for Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi to go. Tantawi, who now leads the military council in charge of Egypt, was Mubarak’s defense minister for two decades. The army has pledged to hand power to civilians soon and has scheduled parliamentary elections for September.

“The prime minister has come in for increasingly tough criticism. His appointment in March was initially welcomed as the former minister had joined protesters in Tahrir even when Mubarak was still in office. Now, activists say he has failed to act firmly as a mediator between protesters and the army.”

As we feared from the outset, Egypt is far off from becoming a democracy.

Dictatorial Iran

Newsmax reported on July 7:

“A U.S. State Department official expressed outrage and pressed Iran to reverse a court decision that gives an Iranian pastor an outrageous, and suicidal, choice: Reject his Christian faith, or die. The 32-year-old pastor, Yosef Nadarkhani, was arrested in October 2009 for apostasy because he objected to the teaching of Islam to Christian children at Iranian schools. He was sentenced to death by hanging late last year, a verdict that he appealed to Iran’s Supreme Court… Now, it appears that the Gilan court will ‘question the defendant again in order to determine whether he believes in Islam or not. If he is a Muslim, Yosef Nadarkhani must be released. If it is determined that he is a Christian, he may repent from his faith. Otherwise, if he insists on his beliefs, the death penalty must be carried out,’ CNSNews [states]…

“And the advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide said, that, despite reports that the death sentence had been reversed, ‘in reality the Supreme Court appears to have added a precondition requiring him to renounce his faith, or face execution’…  Nadarkhani… was born to Muslim parents and Islamic law dictates that a child of Muslim parents is considered to be a Muslim. Although apostasy is not an offense in the Iranian penal code, CNSNews reports that Iran’s constitution includes a clause demanding that, if a basis for a judicial ruling does not exist in the law, judges must turn to ‘reliable Islamic sources or a valid fatwa.’”

Fundamentalist Muslims all over the world demand the right to practice their religion, while they are persecuting those of other convictions, especially those who believe in the one and only true God—God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

USA vs. Syria

The New York Times wrote on July 12:

“The Obama administration, after weeks of urging Syria to carry out democratic reforms and end a brutal crackdown, has now turned decisively against President Bashar al-Assad, saying that he has lost legitimacy and that it has no interest in Mr. Assad keeping his grip on power. President Obama… stopped short of demanding that Mr. Assad step down. But administration officials said the president may take that step in coming days, as he did with Libya’s leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, much earlier in that country’s popular uprising.

“Mr. Obama’s comments, and even stronger ones by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday, showed that the administration has now concluded that Mr. Assad is no more willing or capable than Colonel Qaddafi of opening a dialogue with protesters or overseeing a political transformation. The turning point in the administration’s public posture came after angry crowds attacked and vandalized the United States Embassy in Damascus, and the residence of Ambassador Robert Ford, after his visit to Hama, the hub of the current protests and site of a bloody crackdown by Mr. Assad’s father in 1982.

“But administration officials said the shift has been weeks in the making, as Mr. Assad’s government has continued to harass and jail demonstrators, quash peaceful protests, and clamp down attempts to organize a political opposition. The crackdown has also begun to threaten regional stability with thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing across the northern border into Turkey…

“Administration officials said they had no choice in Libya: Colonel Qaddafi is notoriously unpredictable, and had threatened to send his troops house-to-house in Benghazi, killing his opponents. In Syria’s case, there is no military remedy. NATO nations have no interest in acting in Syria, and there is no chance of a United Nations Security Council resolution equivalent to the one that NATO is enforcing in Libya. Russia has made clear it would reject any resolution condemning Mr. Assad…

“Still, until recently some American officials argued they were better off with Mr. Assad in power than with a power vacuum that could threaten the stability of Lebanon and security of Israel, and might be filled by Iran…”

Arab World Disappointed in Obama’s USA

The National Journal wrote on July 14:

“When President Bush left office, 9 percent of Egyptians had a favorable attitude towards the United States. After Barack Obama was elected, that number jumped to 30 percent. But today, only 5 percent of Egyptians surveyed said they have a favorable opinion of the United States and its president. Similar figures in Morocco, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates illustrate that the initial optimism in the region has been eclipsed by a widespread sense of disappointment.”

Germany’s Weapon Industry

Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 12, 2011:

“Germany is in third place among the world’s biggest weapons suppliers, behind only the big guns of Russia and the United States and in front of France and Great Britain. Its arms are coveted around the world… The United States military is generally only allowed to order armaments from domestic suppliers. But even it makes an exception when it comes to Germany: For their tanks, they order the smooth-bore guns made by Rheinmetall because they are more precise than those developed in the US.

“The international arms industry doesn’t face crises; crises are its business. In 2010, global arms expenditures rose to $1.63 trillion (€1.14 trillion). This represents a growth of 56 percent over the last decade… Indeed, almost one-tenth of all the money generated by global weapons exports ends up in the pockets of the German defense industry.

“But what is it about the German arms industry that has made it so successful?… Like most other German arms companies, Rheinmetall has adapted its business to fit changing times. A decade ago, the companies primarily supplied Germany’s military, the Bundeswehr. But these days, roughly 70 percent of their products are sold to foreign clients.

“German arms companies enjoy a reputation for delivering high-tech weapons of the highest quality. For example, the ThyssenKrupp submarines outfitted with fuel cells are considered the best in the world because they are practically undetectable… The companies are also profiting from how military conflicts have changed… These days, fighting is conducted in many places at the same time and often by small units. This type of fighting calls for high-tech solutions, including drones, satellites, radars and electronic gadgetry. Much of this is based on technology in fields where Germany’s companies are among the world’s leaders…

“Since 2000, Saudi Arabia has numbered among Germany’s top 20 clients for… missile parts, machine guns, munitions and artillery shells… When the UN Security Council voted on whether to establish a no-fly zone in Libya, Germany abstained. The stated reason for the abstention was the desire to not have German soldiers participate in the war. Despite this desire, however, Germany is still playing a role in the fighting, with ‘Made in Germany’ written on many of the weapons used — by both sides… NATO troops also rely on German technology in the form of the ‘Eurofighters’… the fact that three parties involved in the fighting are all using weapons made in Germany shows the fundamental problem of these kinds of arms export policies…”

Sadly, Germany’s good qualities of organization, production of high-quality items and its highly sophisticated technology, are so often misused in this evil world for ungodly and deplorable purposes. This can also be seen in a subsequent article on German laws regarding the Holocaust, showing Germany’s misguided zeal.

More German Weapons Deals—With Angola

Deutsche Welle reported on July 14:

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced on Wednesday that Germany was prepared to sell six to eight patrol boats to Angola as part of an international cooperation deal… In return, the chancellor suggested that the patrol boats could protect Angola’s borders, the security of which is essential for regional stability… But Merkel’s offer of military equipment was met with widespread condemnation in Berlin…

“In the past, Angola has courted both China and western nations as they competed for contracts and access to the country’s oil resource. According to the Angolan investment agency, trade between Germany and Angola currently stands at around 400 million euros ($566 million). As the first German leader to visit Angola, however, Merkel was keen to boost economic ties further.”

German Court Upholds Holocaust Denial Verdict Against UK Bishop

The Local wrote on July 11:

“A German appeals court on Monday upheld renegade British bishop Richard Williamson’s conviction for Holocaust denial, but reduced the fine ordered by a lower court to €6,500 ($9,262). Williamson, 71, who was not in court, had appealed his conviction by a court in Regensburg, southern Germany, for denying key facts about the Holocaust in an interview he gave to Swedish television in Regensburg in 2008…

“Lawyers for London-based Williamson did not deny the statements made by the bishop, a member of the breakaway ultra-conservative Catholic fraternity the Saint Pius X Society, but stressed that in Sweden such opinions could be freely voiced. In Germany it is an offence to deny that the Nazis murdered six million Jews during World War II. Williamson told Swedish television that ‘200,000 to 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps’ and disputed the existence of the gas chambers. In April 2010, Williamson, who now lives in London, was fined €10,000 by the lower court, reduced from an earlier fine of €12,000 he had refused to pay, for inciting racial hatred.”

The controversial German law of penalizing those who execute their right to free speech and falsely deny aspects of the Holocaust is bound to backfire one of these days.

Denmark on Collision Course with Germany and Europe

Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 12:

“…the right-wing populist Danish party’s beliefs are currently damaging the country’s relationship with the European Union– and neighboring Germany in particular. The anti-immigration party managed to get the reintroduction of border controls passed by demanding the new policy in exchange for its support for the government’s 2020 budget reform plan. Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen’s center-right government, which does not have the majority, would likely collapse without DF’s support.

“But many politicians within the EU argue that the new customs checkpoints, erected last week along the country’s borders with Germany and Sweden, are a violation of the Schengen Agreement, which established border-free travel in Europe in 1985.

“… [DF] party criticism of Berlin and Brussels has taken on an unusually aggressive tone. ‘All of the ideological guns are pointed at us,’ [party co-founder and leader Pia] Kjaersgaard cursed last week. ‘Germany is playing the role of bad cop — it has mustered all the ministers and ambassadors it can find in the attack on Denmark’… Her parliamentary group colleague and pastor Jesper Langballe agreed. Germany is a ‘neurotic nation’ and is constantly pursued by the shadows of its past, he said last week. In a ‘desperate attempt to repress the Nazi era,’ Berlin is using the European Union as a ‘supranational monster’ attempting to ‘play fireman against the flames of nationalism,’ he added.”

It is only a matter of time, it seems, when Denmark will leave—or is asked to leave—the EU.

“Farewell to Europe’s Last Emperor”

Zenit wrote on July 11:

“Benedict XVI sent his condolences to the family of Otto von Habsburg, the last crown prince of Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia… Also known as Archduke Otto of Austria, Otto was the eldest son of Blessed Charles I of Austria, the last emperor of Austria-Hungary…

“Benedict XVI stated in his message, sent Sunday to Karl von Habsburg, that Otto had ‘been a witness to the changing face of Europe. Trusting in God and aware of a significant heritage,’ the Pope added, Otto had ‘been a committed European tirelessly working for freedom, for the unity of peoples and for a just order in this continent. With deepest sympathy have I learned about the passing of your father, His Royal Highness Archduke Otto of Austria,’ the Pontiff wrote…

“The funeral for Archduke Otto of Austria is scheduled for July 16 in Vienna, Austria. The Pope named Cardinal Christoph Schönborn as [the] delegate to the funeral. … Otto’s father, Charles I, died in 1922, leaving his eldest son as pretender to the imperial throne. In 2004, Pope John Paul II beatified his father…

“During World War II, Otto was a fearless critic of the Nazi party in Germany. Upon annexing Austria, Adolf Hitler had not only ordered the death of Otto von Habsburg, but also revoked his citizenship, as well as the citizenship of the imperial royal family. Otto, who was left stateless, spent the better part of World War II in the United States, and he wouldn’t regain his citizenship until 1965. In the 1960s, [he renounced] his claim to the Austrian throne… Otto was an organizer of the Pan-European Picnic at the Hungary-Austria border on Aug. 19, 1989, which allowed some 700 East Germans to escape to the West, and is considered a turning point in the collapse of the Iron Curtain that divided Europe. Otto’s wife, Regina, died last year. He is survived by a brother, Felix, seven children, 22 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.”

Bild On Line reported on July 11:

“Today, Munich said farewell to Otto von Habsburg (98)—son of the last emperor of Austria and king of Hungary. ‘Thank you for what you did for your family, for this country, for Europe and also for the church,’ said Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich… the Cardinal honored [von Habsburg] as a great European and a convicted Christian… The memorial service was attended by Habsburg’s seven children [as well as representatives of the German parliament]. The congregation sang [Franz Josef] Haydn’s Kaiserlied.”

The website,, published the following comments regarding the “Kaiserlied,” which, by the way, is being sung today in many U.S,. churches under the title, “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken,” with the English words written by John Newton:

“…when the French Revolution effectively destroyed the Bourbon dynasty by beheading its king and queen, [it] created the first modern nation. And it wasn’t long before a national anthem followed: The bloodthirsty ‘La Marseilles’ became the marching song for the Grande armee as it conquered continental Europe. Seeing the effect ‘La Marseilles’ had on the population in general and the army in particular, the British responded with their ‘God Save the King,’ a drinking song pressed into service for the patriotic cause.

“Austria was luckier in its choice of [a] national anthem. In early 1797, Franz Joseph, Count Saurau, commissioned Franz Josef Haydn, considered the greatest living Austrian composer, to write a hymn for the birthday of the Austrian Emperor Franz II. Based on a Croatian folk tune ‘Zalostna Zarucnice’ (The Sad Bride), Haydn quickly wrote the tune to the words ‘Gott Erhalte Franz den Kaiser’ (‘God Save Franz the Emperor’) and the piece proved an immediate and lasting success. The tune is instantly memorable with deeply moving harmonies and a simple and effective rhythm. Soon, the Kaiserlied appeared on all manner of arrangements for every conceivable assortment of instruments and voices… The hymn was later adapted by the German poet… Hoffmann von Fallersleben for his Deutschlandlied…”

Europe’s and Germany’s love for royals is interesting in light of the fact that the Bible predicts that ten European “kings” will come to power in these last days. Even though the reference to “kings” could just mean, “rulers” or “autocratic rulers,” it could also refer to literal kings or emperors.

Most Americans Support Gay Marriage

USA Today wrote on July 11:

“…now that the gay marriage legalization trend is becoming a fact of life in several states, millions of Americans, like the New York state senators who changed their vote to okay the law, have changed their minds on the issue.

“A Gallup Poll this summer found that for the first time most Americans (53%) support gay marriage. That’s up from 42% in 2004 when Massachusetts first legalized the shift. And somewhere in that shifting statistic is Jeff Angelo of Ames, Iowa — a straight, Republican, married-with-three-kids Christian mid-westerner who changed his mind.

“In 2006 when Angelo was in the state legislature, he led a push for a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage. It failed. In the years since, Angelo says, ‘I came to see gay couples as outstanding friends, citizens and neighbors. They’re no threat to community or marriage in this country.’ In June, Angelo founded Iowa Republicans for Freedom to rally social and political conservatives to support gay marriage. Says Angelo: ‘The GOP stands for limited government. It should not be telling people who they cannot marry.’”

While a majority of Americans seem to support gay marriages, politicians compromise their own convictions to suddenly support them as well. Our Q&A in this Update shows what God thinks of such kind of compromise.

Why Not to Serve on a Jury

There are of course many BIBLICAL reasons why a true Christian ought not to serve on a jury. Here is just another example which could be added to the list:

Mail On Line wrote on July 12:

“A juror in the Casey Anthony trial has told how she received death threats and has been unable to work since she was cleared of murder. The woman, known only as juror number 12,  left her job and went into hiding fearing co-workers would ‘want her head on a platter’. Her husband said before leaving she told him: ‘I’d rather go to jail than sit on a jury like this again.’…

“The sensational trial of Casey Anthony sparked outrage across the U.S. when she was acquitted of murdering her two-year-old daughter Caylee. She had been accused of drugging her young daughter, suffocating her and dumping her body in overgrown woodland…

“A jury of seven woman and five men took ten hours to clear Anthony of charges of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter of a child. She smiled as she was given the verdict at Orange County Courtroom in Orlando, Florida after one of the most controversial verdicts in recent history.

“Furious spectators compared the verdict to that in the OJ Simpson case, however some jurors have publicly defended the decision. One… said there was not evidence to convict the 25-year-old mother. She said: ‘I did not say she was innocent, I just said there was not enough evidence. If you cannot prove what the crime was, you cannot determine what the punishment should be’… Another… said the jury only saw evidence that Anthony was a good mother… ‘The first number of witnesses were Casey’s [friends] and every time that they said they saw Casey with Caylee, it was a loving relationship and no one provided evidence to the contrary.’”

Famine and Disease Epidemics

The Telegraph wrote on July 11:

“The worst drought in over half a century has hit parts of East Africa affecting more than 10 million people. Thousands of families have travelled for days across scorched scrubland from Somalia to Kenya, including barefoot children with no food or water after their crops and livestock were destroyed by drought. More than 10 million people have been affected across the Horn of Africa. Acute malnutrition has reached 37% in some parts of north east Kenya and child refugees from Somalia are dying of causes related to malnutrition either during the journey or very shortly after arrival at aid camps.”

Jesus Christ prophesied that in these last days, we will hear more and more of worldwide famine and disease epidemics.

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