Current Events

Japan’s Military Role

he Economist wrote on January 5:

“On December 26th, the new prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, unveiled his cabinet. Mr Abe, an arch-nationalist, promises to focus on turning round an economy enduring its third recession in five years. He says he has learnt from his disastrous first term as prime minister, in 2006-07, when economic policymaking was distracted by needless spats over wartime guilt…

“Fourteen in the cabinet belong to the League for Going to Worship Together at Yasukuni, a controversial Tokyo shrine that honours leaders executed for war crimes. Thirteen support Nihon Kaigi, a nationalist think-tank that advocates a return to ‘traditional values’ and rejects Japan’s ‘apology diplomacy”‘ for its wartime misdeeds. Nine belong to a parliamentary association that wants the teaching of history in schools to give a better gloss to Japan’s militarist era. They deny most of Japan’s wartime atrocities.

“The line-up includes Hakubun Shimomura, the new education minister, who wants to… annul the verdicts of the war-crimes trials in Tokyo in 1946-48. Mr Abe has made no secret of his wish to revise three of the country’s basic modern charters: the American-imposed constitution of 1946, committing Japan to pacifism; the education law, which Mr Abe thinks undervalues patriotism; and the security treaty with the United States, under which Japan plays a junior role… This is a cabinet of radical nationalists…”

In regard to “the League for Going to Worship Together at Yasukuni, a controversial Tokyo shrine that honours leaders executed for war crimes,” mentioned above, Wikipedia informs us that “Yasukuni Jinja is a Shinto shrine… to war dead who served the Emperor of Japan during wars from 1867–1951… to house the actual souls of the dead as Kami, or ‘spirits/souls’ as loosely defined in the English words. Furthermore it is believed that all negative or evil acts committed are absolved when enshrinement occurs… the Yasukuni Shrine and the Japanese Government have been criticized… as being… unapologetic about the events of World War II.”

The connection to pagan and demonic activities is unmistakable. The Bible warns that in the future, a Far Eastern alliance, consisting of countries such as Japan, Russia, China and others, will in fact pursue an aggressive military course of action against Western powers.

Germany’s Military Role

The New York Times wrote on January 5:

“When Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted a recent reception for military families, she greeted parents, wives and children whose loved ones were spending their holidays in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Kosovo and off the Horn of Africa. German deployments overseas, Ms. Merkel said, ‘will soon encompass the entire globe.’

“On that same wintry afternoon, members of Parliament debated whether to add to the nearly 6,000 German troops currently serving abroad by sending up to 400 soldiers to Turkey, where they would operate two Patriot missile batteries to help protect their NATO ally from a potential escalation of the civil war across the border in Syria… The vote easily passed in the Parliament two days later…

“Conscription was suspended indefinitely here in 2011 as part of a drive to professionalize and modernize the armed forces. In August, the Constitutional Court ruled for the first time that the German military could be deployed at home under exceptional circumstances, like in the wake of a terrorist attack. ‘Naturally, a great deal has developed further in terms of the acceptance of deployments outside of this country and outside the NATO territory,’ said Col. Ulrich Kirsch, chairman of the German Federal Armed Forces Association… ‘But the Germans are, now as before, difficult to inspire for military operations.’

“Military business is another matter. Germany is the world’s third-biggest arms exporter, behind only the United States and Russia, sending weapons not only to NATO members and allies like Israel but increasingly to the Middle East and beyond. As the business grows, critics at home question sales to undemocratic countries like Saudi Arabia.

“Germany’s military industry employs an estimated 80,000 people… Last month Der Spiegel, the influential newsmagazine, showed a grim-faced Ms. Merkel on the cover in a camouflage suit jacket with the headline ‘German Weapons for the World’… The German government approved military exports in excess of 10 billion euros, or over $13 billion, for the first time in 2011, the magazine reported…

“Germany’s path forward could well determine the shape of Europe’s military affairs for years to come. Whether that is through a growing leadership role and the assumption of more responsibility for regional security or a limited, some say cynical, emphasis on protecting its own interests still remains to be seen… Olaf Böhnke, head of the Berlin office of the European Council on Foreign Relations, [said:] ‘If Germany wants to be in a leadership position, you need stronger military engagement.’…

“After World War II, West German politicians rejected military force for any goal other than self-defense, and a strong pacifist streak developed in the public. The end of the cold war brought the beginning of a long period of halting change. Allies, particularly in the United States, have repeatedly called for Germany to take more responsibility and a larger share of the burden… The biggest turning point was probably when Germany participated in airstrikes in the Kosovo war in 1999, a break with the taboo against offensive operations.

“Even as Germany exports arms around the world, idealism about the use of force by German soldiers remains. In May 2010, Germany’s president, Horst Köhler, gave an interview to German public radio saying that society needed to recognize the sacrifices and contributions of the military. A broader political discussion was necessary, Mr. Köhler said, about the military’s role. ‘A country of our size,’ Mr. Köhler said, ‘with its focus on exports and thus reliance on foreign trade, must be aware that military deployments are necessary in an emergency to protect our interests, for example, when it comes to trade routes, for example, when it comes to preventing regional instabilities that could negatively influence our trade, jobs and incomes.’

“A public outcry ensued, and Mr. Köhler resigned [for this and other reasons]. But the German Navy was essentially already doing what Mr. Köhler described in his comments, as part of the multinational mission to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia… ‘The suspension of conscription officially recognized the fact that the German Army had become a professional army’, said Ms. Stelzenmüller from the German Marshall Fund. ‘These are people who get paid for putting themselves in harm’s way, just like other Western armies.'”

Whether intentionally or “accidentally”; whether willingly pursuing or being pushed into it; whether the German people, as opposed to their governmental like it or not–Germany’s military role will drastically increase in the future. Germany’s pacifistic stance since World War II is going to fade and disappear. And sadly, war will be the end result–war with the USA and the UK, as well as with the Far Eastern alliance, mentioned above.

A New Ruler of Germany?

The Daily Mail reported on January 4:

“A Scotsman… is now being tipped as the possible ruler of Germany. After climbing high and fast through the ranks of Germany’s CDU conservative party, pundits speculate great things lie in store for 41-year-old David McAllister, who is up for re-election as governor in the state of Lower Saxony later this month. The son of a German mother and a Scottish father from the tough Gorbals area of Glasgow, he is recognised as one of the leading figures in Germany’s ruling Christian Democratic Union party.

“In 2008, he was appointed head of the CDU in Lower Saxony, the second most important and powerful regional post in the country. In 2010, he became the state governor…

“Mr McAllister, who has dual British-German nationality, grew up in Berlin, where his father, James, was a British Army officer… Growing up enclosed by the Berlin Wall left its mark on Mr McAllister. He said: ‘Berlin was surrounded by communism – that is how I experienced it as a child. This left its mark, and since then my motto has been “future, not socialism”.’

“Previously, the youngest conservative party parliamentary leader in Germany, McAllister is a trained lawyer… He is known to be well liked – and well rated – by current leader Angela Merkel… He said his parents imbued him with an equal sense of pride in Scotland and Germany. However, when he was 11, the family moved to the North Sea coastal town of Bad Bederska, a move which made it ‘more or less clear to me that we had turned German then’…

“While he insists that he does not have Berlin in his sights just yet, others are convinced he is on the path to greatness. German weekly Stern compared McAllister’s career path to that of three-time Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Germany’s longest-serving postwar leader.”

Even though it is not very likely that Mr. McAllister will become the new leader of Germany, it is interesting that Scotland and England don’t like each other–to put it mildly–and that any antagonism between Germany and England–which is clearly prophesied to happen–might not bother the Scots in the slightest.

The Wiesenthal Center’s Tragic Mistake

Der Spiegel wrote on January 4:

“Most of the entries on the 2012 list of top anti-Semites published by the Simon Wiesenthal Center just after Christmas are unsurprising. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood makes the list. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is there. European soccer fans, some of them notoriously racist, land at No. 4. A handful of right-wing extremist parties in Europe are also fingered. Number nine on the list, however, has caused many in Germany to scratch their heads. It is Jakob Augstein, the editor of the weekly paper Der Freitag and a columnist for SPIEGEL ONLINE… His offense? The fact that he has been vociferously critical of Israeli policy…

“Perhaps predictably, the inclusion of Augstein, son of SPIEGEL’s founding editor in chief Rudolf Augstein, on the list has launched yet another national debate in Germany about the contours of anti-Semitism and how far one can go when criticizing Israel before being labelled a racist. Germany’s history, after all, has long informed the country’s deep official support of Israel, but its center-left majority displays an almost reflexive affinity for the Palestinians…

“While Augstein has plenty of detractors, much of the critique this week has so far been directed at the Los Angeles-based Wiesenthal Center itself. And Augstein has found defenders on all sides of the political spectrum. ‘The choice of Jakob Augstein for ninth place on the list of the 10 worst anti-Semites is a serious intellectual and strategic error made by the Simon Wiesenthal Center,’ wrote, for example, the influential conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. ‘Not only has a critical journalist been placed in a group into which he doesn’t belong, the nine other people and groups who have justifiably been pilloried can now exculpate themselves by pointing to such arbitrariness.’

“Augstein has also been defended by a senior member of the far-left Left Party and a deputy head of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats. And on Friday, the Central Council of Jews in Germany also declined to make the Wiesenthal Center’s list its own. ‘I have read some of his stuff, though not that much,’ Central Council Vice President Solomon Korn said in a Friday interview with German radio station Deutschlandradio Kultur. ‘I never had the impression that what he wrote was anti-Semitic.’

“Augstein himself has also sought to defend himself. He said in a Thursday statement that he has the greatest respect for the Wiesenthal Center. That, though, he added, ‘makes it all the more distressing when their fight is weakened. That is necessarily the outcome when critical journalism is defamed as racist or anti-Semitic.’

“Not all in Germany, however, [including the conservative paper, Die Welt] have proven willing to back the Der Freitag editor… The Wiesenthal Center, for its part, is not backing down…”

Der Spiegel Online added on January 7:

“It’s a scandal… After the list was published, a passionate debate erupted in German newspapers over what constitutes justifiable criticism of Israeli policies and what exactly defines anti-Semitism. Most journalists felt that the accusation against Augstein was absurd…”

It is true that far too often, critique of Israeli policy is confused with and labeled as anti-Semitism. This is not helping the Jewish cause, and in this case, the Wiesenthal Center and those who defend their decision have done more harm than good–as have the recent baseless accusations against Germany’s well-known author and poet, Guenter Grass, labeling him falsely as being anti-Semitic. It is tragic that German persecution of correct Jewish values, such as circumcision of young boys, must be seen in this context. See the next article.

Is Anti-Circumcision Anti-Semitic?

The Atlantic wrote on January 7:

“… in a decision that shocked Germany’s Jews and Muslims and damaged the country’s image around the world, a Cologne court ruled that male circumcision causes ‘bodily harm,’ and declared the practice to be illegal… Although I had known that circumcision is not widespread in Europe, I had no awareness of the average German’s hostility toward the practice, nor of the deep-seated xenophobic and perhaps even anti-Semitic feelings dredged up by the controversy… Indeed, one survey taken last year found that sixty percent of Germans equate it with genital mutilation…

“Germany’s backlash against male circumcisions is not unique… As an American Jew who has spent much of his time in Berlin during the past six years, I’ve been impressed by Germany’s willingness to confront its Nazi past, from the construction of the Holocaust Memorial at the Brandenburg Gate to the continuing placement of small gold plaques in the sidewalks of Berlin’s residential neighborhoods, marking the homes of Jews murdered by the Nazis. Yet I’m also aware that Jews occupy a marginal, and tenuous place in German society: the heavy police presence in front of Berlin’s handful of synagogues, Jewish book stores, and Jewish bakeries serve as a constant reminder that Jews are considered prime targets for neo-Nazis and other terrorist groups… The court judgment and ensuing anti-circumcision backlash reinforced the notion that many Germans regard Jews — and Muslims — as outsiders, clinging to backward, unsavory rituals and beliefs. For the first time, I began to feel uncomfortable about being Jewish in Germany…

“Jewish leaders share my suspicions. Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, called the court decision ‘one of the gravest attacks on Jewish life in the post-Holocaust world.’ Stephan Kramer, secretary general of the Jewish Community in Berlin, told me that ‘the bris is fundamental for our religion. If this is put into a legal jeopardy, then we have to reconsider whether we can stay in Germany or not.’ German Muslims, many of whom already feel like second-class citizens here, were also incensed…

“Anti-circumcision advocates deny that they are motivated by anti-Semitic or anti-Islamic feelings… Most German medical groups, including the German Pediatricians’ Association… [regard] circumcision as a bodily injury without benefits to health. By contrast, the American Academy of Pediatrics says circumcision ‘significantly reduces’ the risk of HIV-AIDs and sexually transmitted diseases. (Even so, the number of infant boys who were circumcised in the US declined from 60 percent in 1998 to 55 percent in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)…

“Germans I’ve talked to have downplayed the anti-Semitic angle in all this. They say that the circumcision backlash simply reflects a German habit of telling people what to do and how to behave, a busybody quality… The German leadership, after a month-long silence, finally condemned the court ruling last summer. Prosecutors have promised not to arrest doctors or mohels, and the Jewish Hospital has resumed circumcisions. A bill legalizing ritual circumcision — as long as it is performed using an anaesthetic by someone with ‘medical expertise’ – [has been approved by] the Bundestag. But about fifty Parliamentarians [had] proposed a countermeasure that would [have] ban[ned] circumcisions on boys below age 14…”

And so, the issue is not likely to go away…

“Don’t Judge But Accept Homosexuals and Sabbath-breakers”

JTA wrote on January 4:

“The Orthodox Jewish community is not known as gay friendly. So it was big news when Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, the head of a major Israeli yeshiva and the son-in-law of the intellectual leader of Modern Orthodoxy, the late Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, told his students that gays should be no more shunned than those who violate the Sabbath — which is to say, not very much at all. ‘So, those who break the Shabbat — we wish they would be Shabbat observant, but if that’s what they are, that’s what they are,’ Lichtenstein said, according to a transcript. ‘We accept them as they are and we don’t pass judgment.'”

Even though it is true that we must love and not condemn the sinner, we are also called upon to hate sin and point out what sin is.

Jerusalem Paralyzed by Snowstorm

On January 10, JTA reported:

“Jerusalem remained paralyzed as the largest snowfall in 20 years closed roads, trains and buses and schools. At least six inches of snow reportedly have fallen in the center of Jerusalem and more in the surrounding areas… Israel has been plagued by wild weather, including high winds, for several days. Meanwhile, the water level in the Sea of Galilee, Israel’s main freshwater source, has risen more than two feet since rain began over the weekend… As is typical when there is heavy snowfall in the Golan Heights, Israel’s only ski area, Mount Hermon, shut down for the storm.”

Jesus Christ, when warning of end-time troubles and including with his warning the citizens of Jerusalem, cautioned us to pray that our flight would not occur “in winter or on the Sabbath” (Matthew 24:20).

Israel’s New Superstar

Voice of America wrote on January 4:

“Six months ago, few Israelis had heard of him. Today, the media calls the former high tech tycoon a ‘superstar,’ and everyone knows about Naftali Bennett, leader of the Bayit Yehudi (‘Israel Home’) Party. As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces criticism from left and right, Bennett’s popularity is rising by the day. The latest polls suggest that if an election were held this week, Bayit Yehudi would triple its seats in the Knesset to become Israel’s third largest party. In fact, Bennett is gaining supporters who don’t even agree with his ultra-religious/nationalist platform, a fact that is greatly troubling Netanyahu’s Likud.

“Under Israel’s parliamentary system, citizens cast their ballots for a party, not a candidate. The 120 Knesset seats are assigned according to the percentage of the total national votes each party wins. In order to win a seat in the Knesset, a party must win a minimum of 1.5 percent of the total votes. Usually, the leader of the party with the most seats is named prime minister and tasked with forming a new government consisting of 61 seats. Because no party has ever won enough seats to form a government by itself, parties form coalitions to meet the 61-seat majority. New elections can be called if the prime minister cannot form a government, if a coalition collapses or it is not able to pass its budget.

“Last October, Netanyahu called for early elections, saying his coalition would not be able to pass a ‘responsible’ austerity budget. Soon afterward, he announced that Likud would merge with the hardline Yisrael Beitenu Party headed by Avigdor Lieberman. Some believed Netanyahu was looking to gain support for a military strike on Iran’s suspected nuclear facilities… Netanyahu’s plans seem to have failed. The latest Haaretz polls show the Likud Party losing as many as a dozen of its present 42 seats in government…

“So, who is Naftali Bennett and why is he attracting so many voters?… The political newcomer fits the mold of what people, especially young voters, look up to… A key component of his platform is his opposition to a Palestinian state in the ‘greater part of the West Bank,’ something Netanyahu says he supports… He calls for Israel to annex what is known as ‘Area C,’ or about 60 percent of the West Bank, and grant Israeli citizenship to the area’s Palestinian population, which he estimates is 50,000… While many Israelis worry that such a move could jeopardize Israel’s international standing, Bennett disagrees…

“On other key issues, Bennett would halt the wave of illegal migrants from Africa… end the exemption of Israel’s ultra-orthodox Jews from military service; end recognition of civil and gay marriages, and deepen the Jewish nature of education and the judiciary…

“Most analysts agree that Netanyahu will stand as Prime Minister. The real question is where he will turn to build his government coalition. On the left, Labor leader Shelly Yachimovich has vowed she won’t join forces with Netanyahu and that could force the prime minister to look further right–even as far as Naftali Bennett–to build his future government. Meanwhile, Bennett has hinted he could merge with Labor in a post-election coalition. After all, this is Israel, where anything can happen politically and often does.”

The outcome of the next election and the new government outcome might have a decisive influence on the entire region of the Middle East–and that also in light of the following article about the true colors of Egypt’s President Morsi.

Let the True Morsi Be Heard…

Newsmax reported on January 4:

“Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are a ‘waste of time and opportunities’ because Arabs and Muslims gain nothing from engagement with ‘the descendants of apes and pigs,’ Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi said in recently translated interviews from 2010. According to the translated interviews published by the Middle East Media Research Institute this week, Morsi called the creation of Israel in 1948 a ‘plundering’ of Palestinian lands.

“During an interview with Lebanon’s Al-Quds TV network, Morsi said the Islamic world should ‘confront this Zionist entity. The Zionists have no right to the land of Palestine,’ Morsi said, according to the Jerusalem Post. ‘What they took before 1947-8 constitutes plundering, and what they are doing now is a continuation of this plundering. By no means do we recognize their Green Line. The land of Palestine belongs to the Palestinians, not to the Zionists.’

“In two interviews, the recently-elected Egyptian leader, who formerly led the extremist Muslim Brotherhood, disparaged the idea of a two-state solution because there could be no peace with the ‘plundering criminal entity’ of Israel. ‘Pressure should be exerted upon them,’ Morsi continued, so that Jews should ‘not be given any opportunity [to] stand on any Arab or Islamic land… [Zionists] have been fanning the flames of civil strife wherever they were throughout history. They are hostile by nature. The Zionists understood nothing but the language of force.'”

The Washington Post wrote on January 7, 2013:

“Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi rebuilt his cabinet Sunday, replacing 10 ministers and amplifying the Islamist presence in the government… At least three of the new ministers are long-serving members of the Muslim Brotherhood, including those heading the ministries of supply and domestic trade, and local development.

“The new finance minister, Al-Mursi al-Sayed Hegazy, is not a member of the Islamist organization, but local media described him as a specialist in Islamic banking who may be sympathetic to the group. Many of the Brotherhood’s allies from the more-conservative Salafist parties have called on the government to implement a system of Islamic banking, which would ban interest on loans…”

Hitler put the world on notice regarding his true plans towards Jews, and now Morsi has been doing the same. But the world was sound asleep then, as it is now. Also please consider America’s policy towards the Middle East, as the nominations of Messrs. Hagel and Brennan might indicate. Note the next article.

Controversial Chuck Hagel and John Brennan Nominated to Secretary of Defense and Director of CIA

The Washington Free Beacon wrote on January 7:

“President Obama announced Monday his nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel to secretary of defense and John Brennan to director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The Hagel nomination formalizes what many expect to be a bruising battle for the president… Hagel, a Republican… served two terms as a Senator from Nebraska, during which time he sat on the Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees. He voted for the Iraq and Afghanistan war resolutions before becoming critical of both wars…

“Hagel has taken numerous foreign policy positions that some view as out of the American mainstream. He has advocated for direct talks with both Iran and Hamas, and voted against encouraging the European Union to label Hezbollah a terrorist group. Hagel once referred to the ‘Jewish lobby’ … and he has openly distanced himself from Israel… In December, Rep. Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.) said of Hagel, ‘it seems there is some kind of endemic hostility toward Israel’…

“Hagel’s nomination will likely overshadow Brennan’s, but Brennan himself has come under criticism in the past for foreign policy and national security positions he has taken in the past. Brennan once referred to Jerusalem as ‘Al Quds,’ the Arabic name for the city, and he announced that the government would not use the terms ‘Islamists’ and ‘Jihadists’… Brennan has also advocated prosecuting detained terrorists in the civilian criminal system, and he drew sharp criticism for his handling of the foiled Christmas Day Bomber plot.”

The New York Times added on January 7:

“The announcements… complete a troika of personnel moves, along with that of Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, who was named as secretary of state last month, that fill out Mr. Obama’s national security team for his second term… Mr. Hagel… has also faced criticism from gay rights organizations for remarks he made 14 years ago – for which he has since apologized – about an openly gay diplomat.

“David A. Harris, the executive director of the American Jewish Committee… said that Iran topped his list of concerns because Mr. Hagel had voted against American sanctions against the Iranian government over its nuclear program and had argued against using military force to prevent Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  Abraham H. Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said… that the senators should challenge Mr. Hagel on his positions on Israel and Iran…”

Koch and Vallely Criticize Hagel Nomination

Newsmax reported on January 9:

“Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch believes President Barack Obama’s decision to nominate former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense will damage relations between the United States and Israel, while emboldening Islamists, and amounts to reneging on support for the Jewish state. Koch, a Democrat who has been one of Obama’s staunchest supporters, said he’d thought all along that Obama would ‘renege on what he conveyed on his support of Israel’…

“Koch said, Hagel’s nomination means Obama is turning his back on Israel a little sooner than he thought he would. ‘It’s very disappointing, I believe he will ultimately regret it,’ Koch said, ‘It undoubtedly will reduce support for him in the Jewish community, but I don’t think he [the President] worries about that now that the election is over… I believe it will encourage the jihadists. They will say: “Ah, we are winning the battle. America is beginning to desert Israel”…’

“… the former mayor is very critical not only on Hagel’s positions on Israel, but also about the former senator’s statements about homosexuals, and he doesn’t believe Hagel regrets opposing an ambassador’s appointment over his sexual orientation. However, Koch said he’s not accusing Hagel of being anti-Semitic. ‘You can be hostile to Israel and not be anti-Semitic,’ Koch said.”

Newsmax reported on January 8:

“Neither John Kerry nor Chuck Hagel is qualified for the Cabinet positions they have been nominated to by President Barack Obama, retired Army Gen. Paul Vallely [said]… ‘they’re part of the naïveté of the Obama administration,’ Vallely, who served in the Vietnam War, [said]… [He] predicts that Hagel would easily endorse nations antagonistic to Israel…”

Is the Worst of Europe’s Debt Crisis Behind Us?

The Washington Post wrote on January 5:

“After more than three years of global market turmoil, political upheaval and nail-biting summits, European leaders are declaring that the worst of the continent’s debt crisis is behind them… Yet any suggestion of victory in Europe may be viewed as the economic equivalent of President George W. Bush’s ‘Mission Accomplished’ speech on Iraq aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003. Though market panic is subsiding, the region appears to be simply trading a crisis of financial markets for one rooted in its ailing economies.

“Confronting the reality of deep budget cuts, higher taxes and piles of debt that have hindered any prospect of recovery, Italy, Spain and Greece are battling what economists predict will be yet another year of brutal recession… Even mighty Germany and France, the anchors of the 17-nation euro zone, potentially face weaker growth or stagnation this year… Europe is in a similar position as the United States, which avoided its own ‘fiscal cliff’ last week but must confront larger questions of how to stimulate growth and bring down unemployment… while addressing the longer-term peril from high levels of national debt…

“To be sure, there are signs of fiscal improvement… French President Francois Hollande, in a New Year’s Eve greeting from Paris, warned his countrymen that 2013 looks to be a difficult year, with almost no economic growth in the first half and an unemployment rate that is likely to climb before it gets better. But echoing others in the region, he said the threat to the euro seems to be under control despite last year’s dire predictions. ‘The euro zone has been safeguarded, and Europe has at last put into place the instruments of stability and growth that it lacked,’ Hollande said. ‘Even six months ago, this result seemed out of reach. It has been achieved.’

“In recent comments, Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said, ‘I am totally and absolutely convinced that the worst has passed.’ Germany’s influential finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, used almost the exact same words in an interview with the Bild newspaper…

“The potential land mines are many, with the most immediate being elections in Italy next month pitting the technocrat interim Prime Minister Mario Monti — whose tough reforms were seen as preventing disaster in the country last year — against Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s former longtime leader and its most infamous playboy. Berlusconi has assailed Monti’s austerity measures as diktats from Germany. But leading the polls there is the center-left’s Pier Luigi Bersani, a 61-year-old former Communist whose current stated support of Monti’s austerity measures will probably be opposed by his own rank and file.

“Europe’s fate is also caught up in another national election — in Germany this September, when the domestically popular Merkel will seek another term. The ‘Iron Chancellor’ is loath to be seen as soft on Greece, a country whose bailout has stung German taxpayers. But many also say that Merkel will hesitate to go as far as cutting off bailout funds from Greece — an act that would effectively force it out of the euro zone — if that country once again misses its fiscal targets, as some predict.’

And while Europe will get its financial house in order, the USA will not be able to do so. The signals indicating coming domestic and social disasters should make this very clear even to those who do not understand the Bible. Notice the next few articles.

The USA in the Grip of Deadly Flu

The Daily Mail wrote on January 5:

“The U.S. has been hit with a particularly aggressive early flu season this year with widespread reports of the illness across the country, hospitalizing 2,257 people and leaving 18 children dead before the end of 2012. And health officials say the numbers haven’t even peaked yet… The latest figures… show 29 states and New York City reporting high levels of flu activity, up from 16 states and New York City just one week prior.

“Overall, 41 states reported cases. ‘It’s about five weeks ahead of the average flu season,’ said Lyn Finelli, lead of the surveillance and response team that monitors influenza for the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. ‘We haven’t seen such an early season since 2003 to 2004.'”

Hottest Year in Recent History of USA

he Guardian wrote on January 8:

“Temperatures in the United States have reached record levels, making 2012 by far the hottest year in the history books. A year of negligible winter, punishing heat waves, drought, and monster storms, such as Sandy, contributed to the record year in the continguous United States, according to a report released on Tuesday by the National Climatic Data Center… NCDC scientists described that difference as a ‘big deal’ – one that over time would begin to redefine what was seen as normal weather conditions for America… It was, on several other counts, a year of extremes.

“Last year brought $11bn weather events from Sandy, believed to have inflicted more than $60bn damages on New Jersey and New York, to Hurricane Isaac, tornadoes to a brutal drought. By the time summer was over, more than 99m Americans – or about a third of the entire population – had sweltered through 10 or more days hotter than 100F (37.8C), the NCDC said. Nineteen states broke existing temperature records.

“Sixty-one percent of the lower 48 states was enduring drought. The extreme hot and dry conditions – the worst since the 1950s – burned through the corn fields of the midwest and high plains, delivering a shock to food prices. While drought has faded from public conversation, it has not relaxed its grip over the winter. Shipping on the Mississippi has slowed because of low river levels. The Great Lakes are nearing historic lows. Farmers in Kansas report winter wheat crop is at risk.

“The closing months of the year also remained stubbornly warm, with the third smallest snowfall on record. ‘We are still seeing impacts from the drought,’ Crouch said. ‘It is not over, and I perceive that is going to be a big story moving forward in 2013.'”

CNS News added on January 10:

“Almost 62 (61.8%) percent… of the continental United States experienced drought in July 2012, making it the largest drought-affected area since the end of the ‘Dust Bowl’ era in December 1939, when 62.1 percent of the U.S. was drought-stricken…”

It will get much worse. The Bible predicts that the impact of the sun will become seven times stronger in the years ahead (Isaiah 30:26; Revelation 16:8-9), before it will get better (Isaiah 49:10).

Drought-Drained Mississippi River Affects US Economy

Reuters reported on January 2:

“The drought-drained Mississippi River will rise slightly later this week between St. Louis and Cairo, Illinois, but later continue its decline toward historic lows, according to a National Weather Service forecast. Low water, due to the worst U.S. drought since 1956, has already impeded the flow of billions of dollars worth of grain, coal, fertilizer and other commodities between the central United States and shipping terminals at the Gulf of Mexico…”

Incredibly Weak US Job Market

Business Insider wrote on January 4:

“… the U.S. economy added 155k jobs in December and the unemployment rate ticked up in 7.8 percent. Although the numbers were in line with economists’ expectations, they still reflect a job market that remains incredibly weak almost four years into the economic recovery… ‘This shows the depth of the recent employment recession – worse than any other post-war recession – and the relatively slow recovery due to the lingering effects of the housing bust and financial crisis,’ writes Bill McBride of Calculated Risk.”

Insanity Galore

The Associated Press reported on January 10:

“Officials in a small Utah town want to make sure every head of household has a firearm and knows how to use it, and they want to give school teachers training with guns too. Spring City Councilman Neil Sorensen first proposed an ordinance requiring a gun in every household in the town of 1,000. The rest of the council scoffed at making it a requirement, but they unanimously agreed to move forward with an ordinance ‘recommending’ the idea. The council also approved funding to offer concealed firearms training Friday to the 20 teachers and administrators at the local elementary school.”

Abuse Scandal in Catholic Church Under Scrutiny

Deutsche Welle reported on January 10:

“The goal was clear: the abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church to its core since the beginning of 2010, was supposed to be addressed seamlessly. The church leadership wanted to investigate the abuse cases in detail in which priests and others abused young people – going back as far as 1945. To carry out the study seriously and objectively, the German Bishops’ Conference (DBK) brought in the Criminological Research Institute of Lower Saxony (KFN). The scientists from Hanover were to be granted access to all personnel records of the past decade in all 27 dioceses. But there is now disagreement between the KFN and the DBK. The bishops canceled the contracts with the Institute…

“The head Christian Pfeiffer spoke of censorship and the hindrance of his work… Matthias Kopp, spokesman for the German Bishops’ Conference, rejected these accusations…  Pfeiffer… spoke of the destruction of records on the part of the Church… Kopp also rejected this accusation…  Unlike the original agreement in the contract, Pfeiffer said, the Church demanded to see texts before publication… Some had clearly not wanted the abuse cases to be solved, fearing damage to the church, he said…

“Experts see the temporary end of the academic study as a new image problem for the Catholic Church and expect even more people to leave the church… Pfeiffer wants to continue the work he started – without the help of the church… It now seems more than questionable as to when, and whether, there will be any findings at all.”

Marijuana Use for Medical or Recreational Reasons?

NBC News reported on January 4, 2013:

“If a California company has its way, recreational marijuana users in Colorado and Washington state will one day be able to get their pot out of vending machines. Such machines are already in use in some states where medical marijuana is legal, but now the maker’s founder says the company is working to adapt the machines to comply with new laws in Colorado and Washington, where adults can legally use marijuana for recreation. The vending machines for medicine require a fingerprint scan to verify the identification of the patient, which is then linked to a prescription on file.

“But as Washington and Colorado figure out how to create a legal pot market for the masses, Hollywood-based Medbox, a public company, is offering up its expertise in convenient delivery systems. ‘One day we envision these machines to be accessed, when it’s allowed, 24 hours a day,’ Vincent Mehdizadeh, the founder and chief consultant of a subsidiary of Medbox that produces, installs and consults on the vending business, told NBC News…

“He said the Medbox machines and consultancy are in high demand in states such as Arizona, Massachusetts and Connecticut that have published medical marijuana regulations… In November, Washington and Colorado voters passed initiatives to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Those laws went into effect last month.

“In Washington state, voter-approved Initiative 502 made it legal for anyone 21 or over to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, 16 ounces of ‘solid marijuana-infused product’ (pot brownies and such) or 72 ounces of ‘marijuana-infused liquid.’… Colorado, under Amendment 64 to the state Constitution, legalized not only recreational use, but also home growing, which is still illegal in Washington.

“Growing, selling and possessing marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and the federal government is reviewing options in both Washington and Colorado. President Barack Obama… [told] ABC’s Barbara Walters [last month] the federal government has more important things to do than go after recreational marijuana users. ‘We have bigger fish to fry,’ he told Walters.”

The New York Times wrote on December 20:

“Marijuana is, as a practical matter, already legal in much of California. No matter that its recreational use remains technically against the law. Marijuana has, in many parts of this state, become the equivalent of a beer in a paper bag on the streets of Greenwich Village. It is losing whatever stigma it ever had and still has in many parts of the country, including New York City, where the kind of open marijuana use that is common here would attract the attention of any passing law officer. ‘It’s shocking, from my perspective, the number of people that we all know who are recreational marijuana users,’ said Gavin Newsom, the lieutenant governor. ‘These are incredibly upstanding citizens: Leaders in our community, and exceptional people. Increasingly, people are willing to share how they use it and not be ashamed of it.’

“Marijuana can be smelled in suburban backyards in neighborhoods from Hollywood to Topanga Canyon as dusk falls — what in other places is known as the cocktail hour — often wafting in from three sides. In some homes in Beverly Hills and San Francisco, it is offered at the start of a dinner party with the customary ease of a host offering a chilled Bombay Sapphire martini…

“A study by the California Office of Traffic Safety last month found that motorists were more likely to be driving under the influence of marijuana than under the influence of alcohol. Still, there are limits. No matter how much attitudes in California may have changed, it remains illegal in most of the country — as Californians have been reminded by a series of crackdowns by the Justice Department on medical marijuana here…”

CNN reported on December 14:

“In a statement Monday, U.S. Attorney John Walsh said that the Department of Justice is ‘reviewing’ the initiatives passed in both states and that the department’s ‘responsibility to enforce the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged. Regardless of any changes in state law, including the change that will go into effect on December 10 in Colorado, growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law,’ Walsh said. The Justice Department is familiar with negotiating contradictory state and federal laws on marijuana. Aside from the two states which have legalized recreational use of marijuana, 18 states and the District of Columbia have allowed legal use of the drug for medical reasons.

“Marijuana is listed as a Schedule I drug by the Drug Enforcement Agency, meaning it’s dangerous and has no medical use. Other Schedule I drugs include heroin, ecstasy, and psychedelic mushrooms. Medical marijuana advocates say it should be listed under Schedule II, comparing it to other prescription painkillers that have a high potential for abuse.”

In spite of varying human opinions and practices on the matter, the Bible gives us sure guidelines as to how to conduct ourselves. In our last Update, we commented briefly on the Church’s stance on the use of marijuana and pointed out that marijuana use for recreational purposes is never godly. We inserted a brief comment to the effect that there might be exceptions for medically-prescribed necessary treatments for certain illnesses, but even then, we stated that great caution would be advised, as pot is a drug that has led some into demonic experiences or exposure. The ingesting of pot is primarily through smoking, but regardless, it seems to be a drug that causes some bad and sometimes permanent problems.

In addition, we want to elaborate on the matter and clarify our position, as follows:

Our comments in regard to medical use were not meant to be applied to countries where such use is illegal. As several articles on the topic, quoted above, explain, in the USA, “growing, selling and possessing marijuana remains illegal under federal law.” This means, even when certain US states allow the use of pot for medical reasons, it is still prohibited under federal law, which governs and rules state law. 

Note the additional comments from the US government, as set forth on its website,

“Regardless of state laws to the contrary, there is no such thing as ‘medical’ marijuana under Federal law… The Department of Justice (DOJ) issued guidance for Federal prosecutors in states that have enacted laws authorizing the medical use of marijuana under state law. The guidelines explain that it is likely not an efficient use of federal resources to focus enforcement efforts on individuals with serious illnesses who use marijuana as part of a recommended treatment regimen consistent with applicable state law or their individual non-commercial caregiver.

“However, persons who are in the business of cultivating, selling, or distributing marijuana, and those who knowingly facilitate such activities, are in violation of Federal law, and are subject to Federal enforcement action, including potential prosecution.

“The DOJ guidelines do not legalize marijuana. The DOJ guidance explicitly states that marijuana remains illegal under Federal law. Enforcing Federal law against significant traffickers in illegal drugs including marijuana remains a core Department of Justice priority… The DOT [Department of Transportation] Compliance Notice explicitly reiterated that DOT regulation does not recognize ‘medical’ marijuana under a state law to be a valid medical explanation for a transportation employee’s positive drug test…  Medical Review Officers will not verify a drug test as negative based upon information that a physician recommended that the transportation employee use marijuana as medicine. It remains unacceptable for any safety]sensitive employee subject to drug testing under the Department of Transportation’s drug testing regulations to use marijuana.”

The website of  explains further:

“First and foremost, Marijuana, for any use, is illegal under federal law. Even if you live in a state that has enacted legislation or passed a ballot initiative that recognizes marijuana’s medical utility you are subject to arrest by federal officials for possession or cultivation of marijuana. Secondly, it is illegal to ship or receive marijuana by mail… Interstate shipment of marijuana is a federal offense. So is importation of marijuana.”

The website of sets forth the following:

“Federal laws do not differentiate between marijuana used for medical purposes or marijuana used for recreational purposes. The medical marijuana defense is not expressly recognized under Federal law. Nevertheless, during pre-trial negotiations, the medical marijuana defense is often effective when properly asserted for mitigation purposes. Judges have limited the defense attorneys ability to fully assert such a defense at trial, although the defense often has a right to present evidence related to the medical marijuana defense for the juries [sic] consideration when warranted by the facts of the case… Generally, doctors may exercise their right to free speech by recommend[ing]  the use of marijuana under the First Amendment, federal law does not allow a doctor to ‘prescribe’ marijuana.”

Based on all the foregoing evidence, the Church cannot recommend or support the use of marijuana for any purpose in countries where such use is legally prohibited (including the USA, where it is against governing federal law), as we are to be subject to the laws of the land (except in those rare circumstances when man’s laws conflict with God’s laws).This is true, regardless of whether, due to limited resources, the laws may or may not be enforced.

We state the following in our Statements of Beliefs, under “Relationship with God” and “Civic Government”: “We believe that a Christian’s duty to God is of a superior and higher nature than our duty arising from any human relationship (Acts 4:18-20; 5:27-29)… We believe that we are to be subject to the government of our country and its laws (Romans 13:1-5; I Peter 2:13-17); that we are to pay our taxes (Matthew 22:17-21; Mark 12:14-17; Romans 13:6-7); that we are to pray for leaders of government (1 Timothy 2:1-3); and that we are to honor those leaders (1 Peter 2:17; Romans 13:7).”

Even when dealing with an extraordinary case of “necessary” medical use (in the conclusion of a medical doctor) of legally permitted marijuana in a situation of painful terminal illness, we would still advise great caution as pot has been known to cause demonic experiences and influence in some cases.

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