Current Events

Great Britain All Alone

The EUobserver wrote on December 9:

“A group of 26 EU member states is to forge ahead with an intergovernmental agreement on tightening economic governance in the eurozone, following a stormy summit in Brussels that saw the UK sidelined after it overplayed its hand…The break represents a major symbolic shift for the European Union which has never before cemented a disagreement so publicly and so thoroughly…”

This major symbolic shift will have major practical consequences.

Exactly 20 Years Later…

The New York Times wrote on December 9:

“Europe’s worst financial crisis in generations is forging a new European Union, pushing Britain to the sidelines and creating a more integrated, fiscally disciplined core of nations under the auspices of a resurgent Germany. Exactly 20 years to the day after European leaders signed the treaty that led to the creation of the European Union and the euro currency, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany persuaded every current member of the union except Britain to endorse a new agreement calling for tighter regional oversight of government spending…

“The European Union… is now being reinvented by a united Germany… The big loser in Brussels was Britain…”

The fact that this new pact was agreed upon exactly 20 years after the Maastricht Treaty is no coincidence. At that time, Britain was a co-signer; now, Britain is being excluded. In the Bible, the number ten stands for judgment. Twenty (2 times 10) designates a severe time of judgment. Also, as one of the next articles points out, this week marked the tenth anniversary for the introduction of euro notes and coins in Germany.

… a Two Speed Europe

Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 9:

“… the summit’s outcome will seal the status of a two-speed Europe… Nor is the loss of importance in Europe that Britain has now brought upon itself in the country’s geopolitical interest. Indeed, its trans-Atlantic partnership with the United States will suffer as a result.

“In the eyes of politicians in Washington, Britain has been particularly useful because of its ability to assert influence in Brussels… The pact… also represents a shift of power… at the EU level. The ‘economic government’ of leaders of these countries can make decisions via euro summits and would not need to seek the approval of the European Parliament…”

AFP wrote on December 12:

“French President Nicolas Sarkozy admitted on Monday that the European Union was now a two-speed alliance… Separately, the head of France’s financial regulator branded Cameron’s Conservatives ‘the stupidest’ right-wing party in the world for pushing its leader into confrontation with Europe…”

This confrontation with Europe will continue. The Bible shows that ultimately, ten nations or groups of nations will arise in Europe, and they will give their authority to a charismatic political and military leader, who, in turn, will begin a war with Great Britain. The next articles speak for themselves, showing that Great Britain is not being perceived as a part of Europe—whether or not they nominally stay in the EU. However, Britain will not remain a EU member for long.

Britain Abrogated Any Leadership Role in Europe

The Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote on December 12:

“… nobody can seriously believe that Great Britain’s shrinking influence in Europe will have no consequences for the country’s economy… British industry is dependent on the European common market to which Cameron has just given the cold shoulder.”

The Financial Times wrote on December 12:

“Cameron has abandoned Britain’s claim to playing a leading role in the European Union. And the Continent is not prepared to wait. As the recent summit showed, it is quite willing to push forward with European integration even without the British…”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote on December 12:

“…the euroskeptics who already view the allegations that England is isolated as a badge of honor, may agitate even more vehemently for Britain to leave the EU. And Cameron, who is correctly defending EU membership as being in the national interest, will have to see how he can stuff this genie back into the bottle — and how he can bring the tumult in his coalition back under control…’”

Britain In or Out?

Der Spiegel wrote on December 11:

“The British were never completely dedicated to European unity and the ongoing project of greater fiscal integration is better off without them… European leaders in Brussels hammered out an agreement… that conflicts fundamentally with the British understanding of Europe…

“But from the very beginning, Great Britain’s participation in a united Europe was a misunderstanding. When the EU was founded, the British still hadn’t finished mourning over their lost empire… In the 1960s, the empire was history, with one colony after the other declaring independence. But instead of turning toward Europe, Britain looked west to the US. And to this day, the UK feels much closer to America than it does to the frogs and the krauts on the other side of the English Channel…

“Great Britain is an EU member that never truly wanted to be part of the club. It was more of an observer than a contributor and it always had one eye on Washington. Indeed, it is telling that the country never joined the border-free travel regime known as Schengen — Britain still checks everybody who enters the country from the other side of the Channel. The political establishment was likewise extremely skeptical of the common currency from the very beginning…

“Now, finally, there is a clear line of separation. On the one side is euro-Europe with a treaty obligating them to stay within clear budgetary and sovereign debt boundaries. And there is the rest which still has complete sovereign control over their finances. The 17 euro-zone member states will no longer be forced to accommodate a country that rejects anything that smells like supra-nationalism…

“British historian Timothy Garton Ash, a critic of the euro-skeptic course followed by the Cameron administration, said recently… ‘If the euro zone is saved, there will be a fiscal union, which means a political union of the euro countries…. Then, in the next two, three or four years, we in Great Britain will face the final question: in or out?’

“If the British political class does not undergo a fundamental transformation, there is only one possible answer. Out.”

These are strong words with grave meaning. Not too long ago, we would have been hard-pressed to see these kinds of statements in the European press. Now, suddenly, overnight, the world seems to have changed… Note also the next article.

The Beginning of the End for Great Britain

Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 12:

“By casting his veto at the EU summit, Prime Minister David Cameron has signaled the beginning of the end of Britain’s EU membership. Many in Europe wouldn’t be sorry to see Britain go… Have we finally reached the end of this fractious alliance? Is Britain well on its way to once again becoming what it has always been both in geographical terms and in spirit: an island, politically and culturally far removed from Europe…?

“In the future, in addition to the old EU club of 27 states, there will also be one made up of the 17 euro-zone countries and their sympathizers. Isolated and paranoid, Britain will keep armies of lawyers busy watching over the EU like chained dogs to make sure that its institutions don’t ever assume an active role in matters that only concern the euro countries.

“Since joining what is now called the EU in 1973, the British have annoyed many Europeans with their constant and now notorious demands for special treatment, rebates and blocking tactics. They have placed a one-sided emphasis on making sure that the EU’s internal market functions as smoothly as possible, while sabotaging the establishment of a common foreign policy. They were just as allergic to the draft of a European constitution as they were to the free movement of workers.

“Britain is entering a new era. Indeed, Cameron’s veto marks the beginning of the end of Britain’s days as a member of the EU. Charles Grant is the director of the Centre for European Reform, a London-based think tank… [He] gives the island a decade at most before it severs its ties with Brussels for good… [Cameron’s] own party pushed him into distancing Britain from the continent… Many people in Britain view the EU as a neo-Stalinist power machine… Four years ago, a clear majority of Britons still wanted to stay in the EU. But that’s no longer the case, as 51 percent want out. And Cameron has now shown them the way…”

Britain’s exit might occur much sooner. As long as they are EU members, they are still under European scrutiny, as the next article shows.

Britain Cannot Escape

The EUobserver wrote on December 12:

“The European Commission has picked a fight with the British government… Economic and monetary affairs commissioner Olli Rehn on Monday (12 December) warned the UK that the City of London could not escape expanded European regulation of the financial sector and insisted that Brussels is on firm legal ground in the use of the EU institutions to police the new ‘fiscal compact’ – an intergovernmental agreement that Britain decided not to sign up to. ‘If this move was intended to prevent bankers and financial corporations of the City from being regulated, that’s not going to happen,’ he told reporters in Brussels.”

Political Union

The Euobserver wrote on December 14:

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said a political union is beginning to take shape in the EU… Merkel said the crisis had seen Europeans ‘move closer than ever before.’

“Referring to a sense of determination in other EU leaders to overcome the eurozone problems, the chancellor said: ‘I am sure that this common sense of responsibility will remain with us far beyond the crisis…’

“However she was fiercely criticised by the Socialist opposition leader, Frank-Walter Steinmeier… [who] said the intergovernmental path chosen sounded ‘harmless at first glance, but it is not… With this (solution) we are putting Europe on a politically and legally fully incalculable path.’”

Abandoning the Euro Absurd

The Local wrote on December 14:

“The idea of abandoning the euro in the current eurozone debt crisis and returning to the Deutsche mark as called for by some people in Germany is ‘absurd,’ Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann said. ‘We’re doing everything we can so that that scenario won’t come about,’ Weidmann said… ‘The scenario we’re working on with the European Central Bank is a scenario for a solid euro,’ he told reporters.

“Weidmann, along with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, is scheduled to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the introduction of euro notes and coins at a ceremony in Berlin later on Wednesday. ‘There’s no plan B, no printer in the Bundesbank’s cellars,’ he quipped. ‘The only Deutsche marks still in existence are those on display in the currency museum and those which people are still coming to us with to exchange’ for euros.”

Russian-European Summit

Deutsche Welle reported in December 15:

“Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has pledged up to 20 billion euros of Russian investment to bolster the eurozone… The EU must be ‘preserved as a powerful political and economic force … [and the euro] preserved as one of the most important reserve currencies,’ he added. The EU is Russia’s biggest trading partner… With 41 percent of Russia’s currency reserves held in the euro and half of all Russian external trade conducted with the EU, Russia’s interests in the survival of the euro are clear…

“It wasn’t just economic concerns, however, which were on the agenda of the 28th EU-Russia summit in Brussels. Speaking at a press conference at the close of the summit, EU president Herman Van Rompuy said the bloc was troubled by reports of corruption in Russia’s recent elections… Tens of thousands gathered in Moscow and other cities in Russia on Saturday denouncing the polls on December 4 as a farce.

“Van Rompuy noted, however, that EU leaders had had an honest discussion with the Russian president. He went on to praise the regime’s response to the weekend protests. ‘In contrast, the recent large demonstrations were peaceful and the authorities in my view handled it very well,’ he added.

“On Wednesday the European Parliament called for Russia to hold a new round of ‘free and fair elections’  and conduct investigations into any fraud claims. Medvedev declined to comment on the demands, but noted that his country’s legislature had ‘expressed indignation with the position of the European Parliament.’

“No real progress was made during the summit over the issue of sanctions against Syria and Iran. Moscow has been blocking United Nations condemnation of the Syrian government’s deadly crackdown on anti-regime protests. Russia also opposes any further moves on Iran, whose nuclear program worries the West…

“Meanwhile trade between Russia and the EU is expected to grow further, with Russia expected to join the World Trade Organization on Friday following 18 years of negotiation. The accession would offer ‘a myriad of new opportunities for trade, investment and global growth,’  Van Rompuy said.”

In addition, Putin lashed out on Thursday against American propaganda, and even claimed that American drones and special forces killed Gaddafi. Europe’s rather mild stance on the matter shows how money rules this world…

European Banks Stop Serving American Customers

Der Spiegel Online reported on December 14:

“European banks are dumping clients with US citizenship due to a new American law meant to curb tax evasion. The law would require financial institutions around the world to report on certain client activities. Compliance, say many banks, is way too expensive. The idea was to ensure that US citizens were paying their taxes on investments made through overseas banks. The result, however, has been that Americans in Europe may have difficulties finding banks who want their business.

“According to a report in the Wednesday edition of the Financial Times Deutschland, several European banks have elected to no longer serve American securities investors due to stricter reporting requirements pushed through last year by the administration of President Barack Obama.

“German financial institution HypoVereinsbank has informed its customers that it will no longer offer certain services to its US-based clients or to US citizens as of Jan. 1. Deutsche Bank told the paper that it already cancelled such accounts held by American citizens in the middle of 2011. Germany’s second largest bank, Commerzbank, is considering a similar move… British banking giant HSBC has also reported that it will no longer serve US investors as has the Swiss bank Credit Suisse.

“The reason for the sudden reticence to serve American clients is the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which was passed in 2010 and will go into effect in January of 2013. The act requires all foreign banks to identify and report on US citizens with accounts holding more than $50,000 in an effort to clamp down on tax evasion. If banks refuse to comply, they could face a punitive 30 percent withholding tax on all payments from the US. The law is expected to increase tax revenues by $8 billion over the next 10 years… An official for DWPBank, which takes care of securities transactions for 1,600 banks in Germany, estimated that total cost of compliance in Germany alone could amount to €10 billion.”

The Local added on December 15:

“None of the banks have said they are restricting Americans’ run-of-the-mill banking activities such as making deposits into normal savings accounts. That’s because those transactions aren’t yet covered by US regulations… The regulations will only get more complex in 2013 when the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act comes into effect. That will require banks to report more information about account holders to American tax authorities, although specifics about what the law will require remain elusive, angering many in the financial services industry.”

Another example as to how man makes decisions without considering the consequences…

US Soldiers Leave Iraq

With the U.S. military ending its mission in Iraq, uncertain days lie ahead for that tumultuous Islamic country. Even though the following article by the Wall Street Journal seems to be overly enthusiastic and far too “patriotic” regarding the Iraq war which the USA did NOT win and which provides very little reason to be proud of, we are bringing you the following telling excerpts:

The Wall Street Journal reported on December 15:

“After nearly nine years of war, tens of thousands of casualties—including 4,500 Americans dead—and more than $800 billion spent, the U.S. military on Thursday formally ended its mission in Iraq and prepared to leave the country… In the coming days, the last of the 4,000 U.S. military personnel still in Iraq will follow the flag and head home—leaving fewer than 200 to serve as part of the diplomatic mission…

“The Iraq war has been a nine-year emotional roller-coaster ride for the American people and the military. With the destruction of Saddam Hussein’s military and advance on Baghdad accomplished within weeks, it at first appeared to be a quick victory for America and the world’s most technically advanced army.

“But within months of the taking of Baghdad, a growing insurgency emerged and turned the quick victory into a long slog. The advanced U.S. military was brought low by primitive weapons: homemade bombs made from fertilizer or discarded artillery shells… The surge, deeply controversial in the U.S., began to tamp down that violence in the summer of 2007, eventually restoring a measure of calm on a country that had descended into chaos.

“The U.S. force numbered more than 170,000 at the height of the surge—a mobilization that required grueling 15-month tours for many in the Army and constant trips to the war zone for a generation of Marines… Mr. Obama rose to prominence in part with his criticism of the Iraq war. He argued that it was a ‘dumb war’ that never should have been fought—a stance that helped him win the Democratic nomination. Bringing home the troops fulfills one of his major campaign promises.

“Iraqi officials say it also makes good on a pledge by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who won a second term by securing the support of parliamentarians who were dead-set against any extension of the U.S. troop presence.”

The New York Times added on December 15:

“The United States military officially declared an end to its mission in Iraq on Thursday even as violence continues to plague the country and the Muslim world remains distrustful of American power… The war was started by the Bush administration in March 2003 on arguments that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and had ties to Al Qaeda that might grow to an alliance threatening the United States with a mass-casualty terrorist attack.  As the absence of unconventional weapons proved a humiliation for the administration and the intelligence community, the war effort was reframed as being about bringing democracy to the Middle East…”

BBC News wrote on December 15:

“Some 4,500 US soldiers and more than 100,000 Iraqis have died in the war. The conflict, launched by the Bush administration in March 2003, soon became hugely unpopular as claims that Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction and supporting al-Qaeda militants turned out to be untrue.

“The war has cost the US some $1tr. Republicans have criticised the pullout citing concerns over Iraq’s stability, but a recent poll by the Pew Research Centre found that 75% of Americans backed the troop withdrawal… Some Iraqis have said they fear the consequences of being left to manage their own security…

“But in the city of Falluja, a former insurgent stronghold which was the scene of major US offensives in 2004, people burned US flags on Wednesday in celebration at the withdrawal… Concerns have also been voiced in Washington that Iraq lacks robust political structures or an ability to defend its borders. There are also fears that Iraq could be plunged back into sectarian bloodletting, or be unduly influenced by Iran.”

The following article points out an interesting consequence stemming from US withdrawal from Iraq:

The Washington Times wrote on December 14:

“The U.S. military’s fast-approaching Dec. 31 exit from Iraq, which has no way to defend its airspace, puts Israel in a better place strategically to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities. Iraq has yet to assemble a force of jet fighters, and since the shortest route for Israeli strike fighters to Iran is through Iraqi airspace, observers conclude that the U.S. exit makes the Jewish state’s mission planning a lot easier.”

USA Loses Another Drone

The Washington Post wrote on December 13:

“One of the Air Force’s premier drones crashed Tuesday morning in the Seychelles, the Indian Ocean archipelago that serves as a base for anti-piracy operations, as well as U.S. surveillance missions over Somalia. The crash of the MQ-9 Reaper comes roughly two weeks after a U.S. drone went down in Iran.

“The Seychelles, where U.S. officials have worked closely with local officials to establish the drone base, is hardly enemy territory, and the drone that crashed Tuesday was operated by the Air Force, not the CIA, which operated the stealth RQ-170 that crashed in Iran. Still, Tuesday’s crash once again illustrates the fallibility of unmanned aerial vehicles. The Air Force acknowledged the crash at the Seychelles airport, and a spokesman for the service said the crash happened as the drone was landing. No one was injured.”

President Obama’s plea to Iran to please return the first missing drone—which “request” was of course rejected outright–would be laughable, if it wasn’t so pathetic. And now, the USA is losing another drone, also apparently due to mechanical failure. It appears that just nothing goes right for the USA these days…

Iran’s New Threats

Fox News reported on December 13:

“A high-ranking Iranian official has said Iran’s military will practice sealing off the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important oil transport channel, in a provocative move that illustrates Iran’s capability of disrupting the world’s oil supply… The announcement Monday… sent oil prices up about $3 to $100 a barrel…

“Pentagon Spokesman Doug Wilson responded by saying although he has no information on the exercises, the United States government is committed to the free and safe passage in international waters and anything that interferes with that would be ‘detrimental’… About 15.5 million barrels of oil a day, about a sixth of global consumption, flows through the Strait of Hormuz…”

The Vatican and Jerusalem

Israel News reported on December 15:

“‘Peace negotiations in the Middle East must tackle the issue of the status of the holy sites of Jerusalem’, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, head of the Vatican’s Council for Interreligious Dialogue, declared several days ago in Rome. The Vatican’s former foreign minister asked to place some Israeli holy places under Vatican authority, alluding to the Cenacle on Mount Zion and the garden of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. The first site also houses what is referred to as King David’s tomb.

“‘There will not be peace if the question of the holy sites is not adequately resolved’, Tauran said…  The Israeli government and the Vatican are deadlocked in discussions over the status of the religious sites. Vatican officials are now reiterating their demand for control over the religious sites…The Vatican’s former archbishop in Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, just promoted an appeal to the European Union and United States to ‘stop the Hebraization of Jerusalem’…

“A few days earlier, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, gave a speech to greet the bishops of Europe and North America during their annual pilgrimage in Israel, in which Twal denounced ‘the Israeli right wing invading more and more of Jerusalem and trying to transform it into an only Hebrew-Jewish city, excluding the other faiths…’”

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