Current Events

Total Martial Law in the USA?

On December 18, the Drudge Report posted several articles which appeared in The following was pointed out:

“Leading GOP candidate Ron Paul has warned in recent interviews that the amendments passed in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) are not only dangerous, but authorize the establishment of total martial law inside the United States. Not only does the bill, in sections 1031 and 1032, declare the unconstitutional right to detain Americans indefinitely without trial, but it authorizes an Internet offensive and online Pentagon takeover under the pretext of cybersecurity and stopping online piracy…

“Real preparations for martial law and WWIII have taken place– including recent calls to staff emergency detention camps ready for use if an national emergency is signaled over civil unrest and a takeover goes red hot… various emergency provisions have long worked in conjunction to build a framework for martial law takeover inside America… from TSA at the airports, to highway checkpoints and now, the claimed power to indefinitely detain anyone the feds view as a threat to national security…

“Now, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and portions of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) have openly declared ‘offensive war’ on the Internet, implementing Pentagon censors & spies and instituting a Kill Switch to selectively shut down content on the basis of suspicion or accusation, without a vehicle for recourse, appeal or the burden of proof…”

These are indeed frightening developments. But there is even more! The following articles show that the tendencies can be clearly seen (if we have eyes to see) of attempting to abrogate individual freedom and liberty, and to place EVERY AMERICAN CITIZEN AT RISK.

US Democracy Being Destroyed?

The Business Insider published the following article on December 14, under the headline, “American Democracy: 1776-2011.”

The article stated:

“It turns out that destroying the American democratic republic was easy to accomplish, historians will write someday. Simply get the three major cable news networks to blather on about useless [“information”] for a few days, while legislators meet in secret behind closed doors to rush through the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA), and its evil twin sister, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which is a clever name for an Internet censorship bill straight out of an Orwellian nightmare.

“Sure, some independent media web sites and Jon Stewart warned us about this. Ron Paul & Son warned us about this. Amnesty International and the ACLU have been screaming from the rooftops… But the American people let it happen, because the vast majority of us simply didn’t find out in time. And now President Obama’s advisers are saying he is withdrawing his veto threat against NDAA, so it will become law. As will SOPA…

“I have no idea why an American media blackout on NDAA is still in effect — Anderson Cooper, Chris Matthews, Bill O’Reilly and the other broadcast ‘journalists’ have been disgustingly silent on what is undoubtedly the most important news story of the past decade. The single most important news story since September 11th, 2001.

“Combined, NDAA and SOPA simply destroy American democracy. That isn’t hype. That isn’t exaggeration. Within a few days, your freedom of speech will be gone — post something controversial online, and the government can legally ‘disappear’ it.

“Annoy the government too much, or criticize Congress’ infinite wisdom and mercy, and you may find yourself in military prison for the remainder of your life, without access to a trial or attorney. Even if you’re an American citizen on US soil.

“This is a brave new world. Watch what you say. Be mindful of who you associate with. You may criticize your government within the privacy of your own home, amongst close family or friends, but do not post negative comments online. Do not assemble. Do not protest. Do not agitate. Do not give ‘comfort’ to the ‘enemy.’

“This is a sad day for all of us… it turns out democracy was attacked from within, the historians will write someday. We didn’t even see it coming.”

The Examiner added on December 15:

“The National Defence Authorization Bill 2012 (NDAA FY2012)… contains language allowing the Pentagon to wage cyberwar on domestic enemies of the state, a human and civil rights violation of freedom of speech and freedom of the press, as reported by MSNBC Wednesday, potentially impacting both Occupy movement and Tea Party participants plus independent news reporters and whistleblowers exposing government corruption…

“On December 5, Forbes reported, ‘If Obama does one thing for the remainder of his presidency let it be a veto of the National Defense Authorization Act, a law that would place domestic terror investigations and interrogations into the hands of the military and which would open the door for trial-free, indefinite detention of anyone, including American citizens, so long as the government calls them terrorists.’

“Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said about NDAA FY2012 that it ‘denigrates the very foundations of this country.’ Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) [son of Ron Paul] has repeatedly said that NDAA FY2012 ‘puts every single American citizen at risk.’”

SOPA Endangers Our Freedom

Roll Call wrote on December 14 (The article was posted on the Drudge Report’s website on December 21):

“The legislation that campaigns across the country should be concerned about is the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)…

“Imagine you are running for Congress in a competitive House district. You give a strong interview to a local morning news show and your campaign posts the clip on your website. When your opponent’s campaign sees the video, it decides to play hardball and sends a notice to your Internet service provider alerting them to what it [deems] ‘infringing content.’ It doesn’t matter if the content is actually pirated. The ISP has five days to pull down your website and the offending clip or be sued. If you don’t take the video down, even if you believe that the content is protected under fair use, your website goes dark.

“The ability of any entity to file an infringement notice is one of SOPA’s biggest problems. It creates an unprecedented ‘private right of action’ that would allow a private party, without any involvement by a court, to effectively shut down a website…

“Another damaging aspect of SOPA is the increased liability the bill would place on ISPs and search engines. SOPA effectively guts the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s safe harbors — one of the big reasons companies such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter weren’t crushed in their early days by harassing lawsuits. Without these safe harbors, the risk of frivolous lawsuits greatly increases…

“By creating legislation that allows sites to be shut down at will, with limited recourse available to the sites’ owners, SOPA greatly threatens the democratizing tool the Internet has become. With the Internet playing an ever increasing role in the political process, the powers the bill creates could be greatly abused by those wishing to silence their opponents. Political campaigns and anyone interested in an open political process should be greatly concerned about the regulations SOPA creates and the freedoms it restricts…”

For more information, please make sure to view (and circulate) our recent StandingWatch program, “Destruction of US Democracy?” 

US Politics Galore—and We All May Have to Pay!

The Washington Times wrote on December 20:

“The House officially voted Tuesday to start negotiations with the Senate on the payroll-tax fight — but Senate Democrats have said they won’t cancel their vacation to conduct the talks, leaving an impasse that could mean an average $1,000 tax increase on 160 million taxpayers in the new year… the House on Tuesday officially sent [the Senate] bill back to the Senate, which means, according to legislative rules, the Senate has to act next, and the House cannot take up the Senate’s proposal anymore…

“The House has passed a one-year extension of the current 2 percent payroll-tax cut, along with a two-year extension of full payments to doctors who take Medicare patients and another round of unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless. But the Senate, which couldn’t agree on a long-term extension, instead passed a two-month bill last week, arguing it gave all sides breathing room to keep trying for a longer-term deal. The White House has endorsed the Senate compromise.”

America’s Downfall

Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 16:

“The US has officially declared the war in Iraq to be over with a flag-casing ceremony in Baghdad. President Barack Obama said that America was leaving behind a ‘sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq.’ German commentators ask if the conflict, which lasted almost nine years, was worth the toll… Many in America and elsewhere will continue to ask, however, if freeing Iraq from the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein was worth the high cost of the war. The conflict, which began in March 2003 with a ‘shock and awe’ assault on Baghdad, left almost 4,500 Americans and over 100,000 Iraqis dead. Around 30,000 American soldiers were wounded, many of them permanently maimed as a result of the notorious improvised explosive devices (IEDs) which were used against coalition forces. Today, the country is still racked by religious conflict, and there are fears that sectarian violence could flare up again. The country’s political structures are weak and Iran continues to exert influence…

“The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘Even nearly nine years after the events, it is hard to contain the outrage that boils up when one remembers the fabricated justification for the war and the way the conflict proceeded. On the contrary, the distance to the events makes it even clearer how George W. Bush vacillated in his justification for the war and how he combined weapons of mass destruction, al-Qaida terror and the dictatorship into a single threatening brew. The politically twisted logic behind the invasion was coupled with a botched military strategy that laid the ground for an orgy of violence and hatred…

“‘America’s current decline is the logical consequence of the over-extension that was visible everywhere in the early 2000s, including its military strength, bloated budgets and promises of growth, its foreign policy ambitions and the verbal radicalism which ultimately promised to forcefully create democracy at gunpoint. With this form of extremism, America betrayed its own best ideals. And in the process the country lost its natural attraction, which historically had repeatedly given hope to freedom-seekers and those fleeing persecution.’

“The left-leaning Berliner Zeitung writes: ‘Every American schoolchild knows today that George W. Bush’s mission has not been accomplished. Iraq has not become the democracy that the neo-cons dreamed of, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein did not lead to democratization in the region and the regime in Tehran has not been weakened. On the contrary, Iran has more influence than ever in Iraq. And what about the people who were liberated? For them, life eight years after the start of the war is still dangerous. Everyday life, characterized by shortages of water and electricity, abuses of power by the police and the threat of attacks, is unspeakably difficult… the country that American troops are now leaving is not the ‘sovereign and stable’ nation that Obama spoke of in his speech at Fort Bragg. The US troops may indeed have conquered Baghdad in three weeks, but after eight years of occupation, they have still not won in Iraq.’

“The left-leaning Die Tageszeitung writes: ‘The last nine years of the American presence in Iraq is further proof that the political balance of power within a country cannot be changed by an external military intervention. What the US experienced in Iraq, Israel also experienced in the war against Hezbollah in Lebanon. One can only hope that both have learned their lesson before they start planning military operations against Iran… With its interference in Iraq, the US did lasting damage to the concept of democratization…’”

We should especially take note of the statements that America is in decline, and that the USA did NOT win the war in Iraq. The sad truth is that America did not win any war for a long time, and that it will NOT win any future wars. The Church of God began to proclaim this FACT over 40 years ago; it has been established and confirmed to be the absolute truth; and it will remain to be true. See also our other articles on Iraq in this issue.

“America On Its Deathbed”

In his December 6, 2011 newsletter, Gerald Celente, Founder and Director of The Trends Research Institute, wrote the following about the USA:

“Be it healthcare, education, longevity or working longer and vacationing less, the world’s former quality-of-life leader no longer wins, places or shows. In a blink of the calendrical eye, the United States of America had gone from first world to borderline third world…

“A record 47 million Americans – one of every six people… are impoverished, according to government statistics. If you take into account those who are teetering on the edge of poverty, that figure almost doubles. This means nearly one-third of the American populace is struggling to achieve what they once considered their inalienable rights – putting food on their tables, gas in their cars, and heat in their homes… nearly one-quarter of all American children are living in poverty… as we enter a national election year, no candidate… speaks directly of a nation in decline. Even as the country piles up more and more debt, the Washington Beltway is gridlocked …

“On the economic front, the trend towards wealth concentration… continues. The richest 1 percent of Americans now owns 70 percent of all financial assets. Even the November 2011 ‘drop’ in unemployment to a two-year low of 8.5 percent meant virtually nothing. The rate doesn’t consider the new class of people that the Bush/Obama Administrations have created – the millions of permanently unemployed Americans who have been down so low so long they’ve stopped looking for work and aren’t even counted as unemployed…

“In the decade since 9/11, under the guise of protecting its citizens from terrorism, the government has steadily abrogated individual rights, compromising the very liberties it pretends to preserve. As thousands of protestors occupied Wall Street and Main Streets across America, police department cameras recorded their every step. In New York City alone, more than 4,000 cameras monitored the marching, chanting throngs. Banks – which now charge us to hold and spend our money  – watch our every financial move… America has become a country of fear, not freedom…”

These statements are very true. No politician—regardless of what party he or she might belong to, or whether he or she might run as an “independent”– will be able to reverse the trend of America’s downfall. Our false hope in human accomplishments, while forgetting to give glory to and rely on God, awaits a rude awakening. The sooner we understand as to where our real hope and strength lie, the better it will be for us.

Pakistan Attack–Washington Admits Mistakes, but Does Not Apologize

The Washington Times wrote on December 22:

“An investigation into a NATO attack that killed 24 Pakistani troops last month near the Afghan border has concluded that a combination of mistrust and bad maps led to the airstrikes on two Pakistani outposts… It’s unclear whether the report, which says mistakes were made on both sides, will reduce the tension between Pakistan and the U.S. over the incident. The Pakistani army has said its troops did nothing wrong and claimed the attack was a deliberate act of aggression.

“A statement issued by the U.S. Department of Defense did not apologize for the attack, as the Pakistanis have demanded, and instead defended the actions of American forces… Since the Nov. 26 attack, a furious Pakistani government has shut down NATO supply routes to Afghanistan and thrown the U.S. out of its Shamsi Air Base in southwestern Baluchistan province…”

Euro Permanent and Irreversible

The EUobserver wrote on December 19:

“The euro is ‘irreversible’ and will overcome the crisis, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi said in his first appearance in front of the European Parliament’s economics committee on Monday (19 December), while making the case for austerity and fiscal discipline… the ECB chief said he has ‘no doubt in the strength, permanence and irreversibility of the euro,’ dismissing as ‘morbid speculation’ any eurozone break-up scenarios…”

German Economy Defying European Gloom

Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 20:

“German companies and consumers are upbeat about the future, according to economic surveys released on Tuesday. They show that Europe’s largest economy has remained resilient in the face of the euro crisis… The index increased to 107.2 points from 106.6… surprising economists who had on average predicted a decline… There have been increasing signs that the euro zone as a whole, including France, its second largest economy, will slide into recession in 2012.

“But Germany, thanks to its broad industrial base and strong exports to countries outside the euro zone, especially emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil, will weather the storm, economists said… Another positive surprise came earlier on Tuesday with the release of the December consumer climate index from market research institute GfK, which showed the first rise in economic expectations in five months.”

Savior or Destroyer?

On December 20, The Local published the following English translation of a German editorial, which originally appeared in Die Zeit:

“Who is to blame for the split? Is it Cameron, who insisted that special rules must apply to Britain’s financial sector – or is it Merkel, who put the subject of a treaty change on the table in the first place? At any rate, it’s Cameron who came off worst, since he is now isolated in Europe, without having gained anything for his country’s interests. Knowing Merkel, an adept player of power games, she will have planned for such an eventuality. She and Sarkozy had a good argument on their side: as the French president said, we cannot agree stricter rules for the eurozone and then allow Britain room to deregulate its financial sector.

“But this success has not come cheap. The impression that 22 states stand firmly at Germany’s side is false. Most other heads of state are following Merkel with little enthusiasm – not out of conviction, but because they know that no solution to the debt crisis is possible without Germany. Even those that support the German vision of more budget discipline are unsure whether this is the right time or the right path to take.

“The eurozone states will now agree a new contract that will exist alongside current EU law… [Either] Merkel will go down in history as the saviour of the euro [or…] as the one who divided Europe.”

And there may be a third—and more likely–alternative: The German Chancellor will be remembered as both.

Britain Resists…

Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 20:

“EU finance ministers wanted to raise 200 billion euros to boost the International Monetary Fund’s firepower in the euro crisis, but they only raised 150 billion on Monday, largely due to resistance from Britain… the United Kingdom refused, at least for the time being, to contribute its share of around €25 billion.

“Following a conference call, the ministers said in a statement that the Czech Republic, Denmark, Poland and Sweden, which are in the EU but not in the euro zone, would also grant loans to the International Monetary Fund to help rescue the currency. But the EU said those countries must first win parliamentary approval…

“Meanwhile, the German newspaper Die Welt reported on Tuesday that Germany will probably have to pay €8.6 billion, twice as much as originally planned, into the European Stability Mechanism in 2012. The newspaper cited an unnamed high-ranking member of government as its source. The first German tranche for the fund was to have been €4.3 billion, and would not have been due until 2013. But the decision to launch the ESM will force Berlin to make its contribution sooner.”

This won’t make the Germans happy, and they will blame Britain for it…

Britain’s Isolation Could Prove Costly

The Daily Mail wrote on December 20:

“A senior Church of England bishop warned yesterday against British isolation from Europe. The Bishop of Guildford…,Christopher Hill, who speaks for his colleagues on EU matters in the House of Lords, said: ‘It will be disastrous if we were actually isolated from the rest of Europe, economically and in terms of international relations.’ He added: ‘The structures need reform and accountability, but you don’t do that by stepping out.’

“Business leaders claim millions of British jobs will be lost if the country does not fight to keep its place as a key player in Europe. A group of tycoons and entrepreneurs, including Sir Richard Branson, have written an open letter to the Government urging David Cameron to ‘re-engage in the decision-making process in Europe’. Signatories say at least three million could find themselves unemployed if Britain continues to isolate itself from the EU.

“Co-ordinated by the lobby group Business for New Europe, the letter will put extra pressure on Mr Cameron at a time when he stands accused of trying to appease Europhile party members.”

Widening Gap Between Britain and Brussels

The EUobserver wrote on December 21:

“The British government has blamed the euro for ratings agency [Moody’s] worries on its triple-A status amid a widening political gap between Brussels and London. A UK treasury spokesman told newswires on Tuesday… that exposure to the eurozone is the main reason why Moody’s earlier the same day warned that Britain’s top-level grade faces ‘formidable and rising challenges.’ The spokesman said: ‘The UK is not immune to the problems facing our trading partners in the euro area; the crisis is having a chilling effect across Europe…’ The Moody’s report noted ‘that no EU sovereign rating can be considered immune to this crisis.’ But it cited internal UK problems as the main cause of concern.”

Britain’s Mounting Distrust of Germany

Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 19:

“In Britain, distrust of Europe goes hand-in-hand with distrust of Germany. Relations between the two countries have cooled following the furore caused by the latest EU summit, and British euroskeptics are once again resorting to old stereotypes…

“The English Channel has suddenly become wider, deeper and foggier once again. The London-based Daily Telegraph newspaper has warned its readers against what it calls Berlin’s blatant effort to dominate Europe and already sees ‘a new era of Anglo-German antagonism’ on the horizon… The headline ‘Welcome to the Fourth Reich’ in the high-circulation Daily Mail summarized the German-French plans to rescue the monetary union. In another story, the paper wrote: ‘What we are witnessing is the economic colonisation of Europe by stealth by the Germans.’…

“The anti-German rhetoric was particularly strong after German reunification, which then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, nicknamed ‘the Iron Lady,’ sought to prevent. Even the levelheaded Economist warned against what it believed to be the threat of a German nuclear bomb. In 1990, Thatcher invited leading British historians to a conference at Chequers to analyze the dangerous German national character…

“For the British, the fact that the Germans, with their renowned engineering prowess, still produce goods and sell them around the world is a wistful reminder of their own days as major exporters during the Victorian age… The Indians bought Jaguar a few years ago, Rolls-Royce is now part of BMW, Volkswagen owns Bentley, and once-proud brands like Triumph, Austin and Vickers no longer exist. Even the colorful candies known as ‘Smarties’ haven’t been produced in York, where they were invented, for the last five years. All European production has now been moved to Germany…

“So a new ice age has set in for the time being. Many Britons have noticed that ‘suddenly German is being spoken in Europe,’ following the undiplomatic words of Volker Kauder, the parliamentary floor leader of Germany’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU). They’ve also noticed that there are Germans who already anticipate ‘Britain’s departure from the EU,’ as SPD parliamentary leader Frank-Walter Steinmeier said. And Merkel’s statement that ‘no country, no financial center and no financial product can be unsupervised from now on’ was certainly understood in London just the way it was meant. Even before the Brussels summit, politicians in Berlin knew that there would be no compromise with the Tory government in London.”

We should be able to see more and more the veracity of the prophesied fact that Europe and Great Britain will finally turn out to be real enemies. Europe is moving ahead without Britain, and Britain’s isolation is rapidly manifesting itself. Please note also the next article.

New European Treaty Between Just Nine Initial Countries?

The EUobserver wrote on December 16:

“The first draft of a new treaty meant to tighten economic governance in eurozone countries was circulated Friday (16 December) with the aim to have the text finalised by January and coming into force once nine countries have ratified it. The ratification threshold would allow the treaty to go into place even if some euro states – such as Ireland which may have to hold a referendum – are having problems getting domestic approval.

“A euro country that rejected the treaty after it had already come into place will not be bound by it. Non-euro countries, who agree to sign up to the treaty, will be bound by the agreement as soon as they take on the single currency, but can put in place some of the details immediately…

“Following the UK’s refusal to allow full-blown treaty change, the pact is an intergovernmental treaty for the 17 euro states plus up to nine of the non-euro countries who have all indicated they will attempt to come on board. But in a bid to draw a line under the potentially damaging rift between London and the rest of member states, all 27 countries will be at the negotiation table, although London will only have observer status…”

We should be able to recognize the long-prophesied development of a core Europe or a Europe of two speeds.

Europe Meddles and Condemns

Haaretz wrote on December 20:

“The four European Union members of the UN Security Council on Tuesday strongly criticized Israel’s decision to speed up construction of settlements, which they termed a ‘wholly negative’ development. The ambassadors from Britain, France, Germany and Portugal issued a joint statement branding the Israeli settlements in Palestinian occupied territories and East Jerusalem as illegal under international law. ‘We call on the Israeli government to reverse these steps,’ the statement said. ‘The viability of the Palestinian state that we want to see and the two-state solution that is essential for Israel’s long-term security are threatened by the systematic and deliberate expansion of settlements’…

“Israel’s UN ambassador Ron Prosor responded by saying on Tuesday that ‘while innocent citizens are being slaughtered in Syria, terrorist elements are operating freely in Gaza, UN forces are attacked in Lebanon and Iran is seeking a nuclear weapon – the Security Council is silent and paralyzed.’ He added that ‘the main obstacle to peace was and remains the Palestinians’ demand to the right of return, and not recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.’”

European Intervention in Egypt?

Al Arabiya News reported on December 19:

“The fire that broke out in a Cairo library that houses thousands of rare documents raised concerns over the government’s and the army’s ability to protect historic sites at times of upheaval and drove several experts to warn of a possible intervention by foreign entities to preserve the heritage at risk…

“Haggag Ibrahim, deputy chairman of the Association for the Preservation of Heritage and member of the Higher Commission for Museums, labeled those involved in setting the Scientific Complex on fire ‘the new Tatars’ who want to erase all aspects of culture in the country. ‘Those are the grandchildren of the Tatars who burned the library of Baghdad when they invaded the Muslim world,’ he told Al Arabiya.

“According to Ibrahim, UNESCO is now capable of placing historic sites in Egypt under international protection since Egyptians proved unable to do so themselves. ‘Some countries like France might take this initiative.’…

“Nasser Amin, legal expert and member of the National Council for Human Rights, differed. ‘The UNESCO doesn’t have the right to impose international protection on a sovereign country because one historic establishment was subjected to an act of sabotage,’ he said. Amin explained that international protection on cultural heritage is imposed only if the country in which the sites are located is in a state of war or engaged in other types of armed conflict…

“A professor of archeology, Mamdouh al-Masry, held the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces (SCAF) accountable for failing to contain the fire and arrest the culprits… The fact that the fire targeted the Scientific Complex and maps of Egypt’s borders in particular raises a lot of questions about a possible conspiracy, according to Masry… Egyptian archeology professor Ayman Hassan al-Dahshan agreed that a conspiracy is involved in the library fire…”

The concern of Egyptians regarding a European intervention is remarkable. We know from Scripture that finally, a United States of Europe WILL intervene and occupy Egypt. We may not know the exact justification for such military aggression, but we do know that it WILL occur. See also the next article on Egypt.

Egyptian Democracy—a Joke!

Haaretz reported on December 20:

“Egyptian police and soldiers fired weapons and used batons and teargas for a fifth day on Tuesday in the latest effort to clear Cairo’s central Tahrir Square of opponents of army rule, amid mounting international concern about the violence… The United States, which saw Egypt as a staunch ally in the Mubarak era, gives Cairo $1.3 billion a year in military aid.”

Iraq in Danger of Civil War?

BBC wrote on December 20:

“Iraq’s Sunni Vice-President, Tariq al-Hashemi, has denied any wrongdoing, a day after a warrant was issued for his arrest on terrorism-related charges. Mr Hashemi described as ‘fabricated’ the accusation he was linked to attacks on government and security officials. He also accused Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, a Shia, of being behind a plot to embarrass him and blow apart recent attempts at national reconciliation. The Sunni deputy prime minister has warned Iraq risks a new sectarian war…

“Barely had the last American soldier stepped across the border into Kuwait than the fragile Iraqi political structure the US military left behind began to fall dangerously apart, as long-standing tensions between Shia and Sunni political leaders came to a head…”

BBC News added on December 21:

“In recent years, the Americans would have been expected to head off such a rift long before it happened. The White House has said it is deeply concerned by the current crisis and has been in touch with all sides. Its ability to continue playing a major role in the Iraqi political arena in the post-withdrawal period is thus faced with an immediate test, but the Iraqi perception is that US influence is now much diminished. The crisis may also give clues as to how hard Tehran will seek to push its advantage and exploit the perceived vacuum left by the American withdrawal…”

BBC reported on December 22:

“A wave of apparently [14] co-ordinated bomb attacks in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, has killed at least 63 people and injured around 185, say officials… the bombings are the worst in months – and follow the withdrawal of US troops. They come amid fears of rising sectarian tensions as the unity government faces internal divisions.”

Deutsche Welle added on December 22:

“The political turmoil is the worst since Iraq’s fragile powersharing government was formed a year ago. Iraq’s Sunni minority, to which the late dictator Saddam Hussein belonged, has faced a rise of Iraq’s Shiite majority since the 2003 US-led invasion.

“The upsurge in violence comes just days after US troops completed their withdrawal, nearly nine years after their invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, and leaving behind what US President Barack Obama had described as a ‘sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq.’”

This does not really deserve any comment.

Syria’s Massacres

The Associated Press wrote on December 21:

“Syrian troops assaulting a northwest town with machine gun fire and shelling have killed at least 100 people in one of the deadliest episodes of the 9-month-old uprising against President Bashar Assad’s regime… Tuesday’s attack… showed the Syrian government was pressing ahead with its crackdown despite its agreement this week to an Arab League plan for bringing a halt to the bloodshed.

“‘It was an organized massacre. The troops surrounded people then killed them,’ said Rami Abdul-Rahman, head of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. He said troops on the outskirts of the town surrounded and fired on crowds of civilians and activists trying to flee out of fear they would be detained…

“The Syrian conflict, which began with peaceful protests in March, has become increasingly militarized in recent weeks, with clashes nearly every day between troops and army defectors who have joined the movement against Assad… Meanwhile, the Syrian military was displaying its might with a second round of maneuvers Tuesday involving warplanes, helicopters and surface-to-air missiles…”

Uncertainty for North Korea

Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 20:

“With the death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, an already jittery Asia has been thrown into great uncertainty. Questions over how his successor and son Kim Jong Un might rule abound… with little known about the young heir to their political dynasty, his father’s death has sparked a wave of uncertainty in the tense, heavily-armed region, with Asian markets thrown into turmoil following the announcement. Some worry that Kim Jong Un may not have a firm hold on power, which could destabilize the isolated country, which has still not sworn off nuclear weapons. The South Korean military has been placed on high alert, concerned about what the large armed forces in their northern neighbor might do… There are worries that the leader’s death after 17 years in power could prompt his inexperienced son to test his strength militarily…

“Die Welt writes: ‘The death of Kim Jong Il is good news, just as the deaths of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin or Saddam Hussein were all good news. … But that doesn’t mean that the situation for the North Koreans will now improve. Already the next Kim stands ready to take the office he has inherited from his father and grandfather. East Asia faces months and perhaps years of turbulence. The leader, not even 30 years old, is not sitting securely in the saddle. … Thus he will attempt to prove his tenacity to the military by operating aggressively both within and without…’

“Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘Kim Jong Il, the now dead dictator, will not be missed. He held his people in slavery and was responsible for the deaths of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands. … But his worst crime was that he created a system of bondage that also laid claim to the minds of the people. Many generations of North Koreans live in the dark — and they have no idea. As long as the regime maintains power over the brains of the people, and as long as it controls the flow of information, then the system can theoretically survive…’

“Die Tageszeitung writes: ‘North Korea is the world’s most bizarre combination of Stalinism, dynastic succession and cult of personality, along with presumed atomic weapons and real hunger problems… Kim Jong Il was prepared to let his people starve and his region descend into chaos if it meant he could hold onto power… The tragedy for the people of North Korea will likely continue for some time.’”

Germany’s Execution of Alleged Witches…

Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 16:

“Tortured and burned at the stake by the tens of thousands, Germany’s alleged witches have been largely forgotten… It began with the trial and execution of an eight-year-old girl for witchcraft in the spring of 1630. Compelled to name others involved in an alleged nighttime dance with the devil in the German town of Oberkirchen, young Christine Teipel’s confession sparked a wave of fingerpointing and subsequent trials. Within just three months, 58 people, including 22 men and two children, were burned at the stake there.

“The Oberkirchen trials represent just a small fraction of those that led to the execution of some 25,000 alleged witches between 1500 and 1782 in Germany. The country was a hotbed of persecution… some 40 percent of the 60,000 witches who were tortured and killed in Europe during the infamous era were executed in what is now modern Germany…

“In a time when many regions were fighting for political domination, historians believe that leaders also used the trials as an expression of power… And, contrary to common belief, it wasn’t just the Catholic Church that encouraged witch hunts. The Protestant Church was behind a significant number of trials…”

We should not believe that these events are just ancient history, and that something similar could not happen again in the 21st century.

Catholic Distortions and Admissions on Christmas

On December 20, The Catholic agency, Zenit, published the following interview with Pietro Messa, president of the Higher School of Medieval and Franciscan Studies of Rome’s Antonianum Pontifical University. We are quoting the following revealing excerpts, manifesting a hotchpotch of convoluted distortions and—at the same time—eye-opening admissions regarding Christmas—a festival deeply rooted in paganism:

“We know that the early Christians, all of them being of the Jewish religion, observed the Sabbath, but on the following day, that is the present Sunday, they gathered to commemorate the Resurrection [Editor’s note: The early Church, including Gentile Christians, kept the Sabbath. They never commemorated the resurrection on Sunday—one reason is that they knew that Christ was resurrected on the Sabbath, and not on Sunday.] Hence, the first celebration held par excellence was Easter [Editor’s note: Easter is a pagan festival, which was not kept by the early Christians. The Church kept the Passover, but not Easter.]. Subsequently, other events of Jesus’ life began to be celebrated, such as the birth fixed on Dec. 25, namely, on the same day in which previously the Sol invictus was celebrated, that is, the celebration of not being overcome by darkness, given that the winter solstice had passed, the days began to be longer and light imposed itself on the darkness of the night [Editor’s note: It has been established that Christ could not have been born in December, let alone December 25. It is true that the Catholic Church gradually introduced into so-called “Christianity” the celebration of the pagan festival of Christmas on December 25, which had been kept long before the birth of Christ in honor of pagan sun gods. The early Church of the apostles never kept Christmas or celebrated Christ’s birth on December 25. They would have been abhorred about anyone who would have even suggested such a thing.]…”

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