Current Events

The President Speaks… Who Is Listening?

USA Today wrote on February 3:

“President Obama said Sunday the economy is poised for growth, but not if Washington ‘dysfunction’ gets in the way. ‘Washington cannot continually operate under a cloud of crisis,’ Obama told CBS News in his annual Super Bowl Sunday interview. He urged Congress to avoid an upcoming series of automatic spending cuts. Obama… also urged the Boy Scouts of America to drop its ban on gays, expressed concern about the safety of football, and said he would not hesitate to order women into combat…

“The president spoke just days after news that the economy shrunk slightly in the fourth quarter of 2012, a development Obama attributed to a sharp drop in defense spending brought on by uncertainty over the ‘fiscal cliff’ and other political disputes. The White House and Congress forestalled the fiscal cliff — a series of automatic tax hikes and budget cuts — with a New Year’s Day agreement that raised income tax rates on households that make more than $450,000 per year. The deal also deferred automatic spending cuts for two months, to the start of March.”

President Obama’s contradictory statements do not seem to be convincing. He speaks out against violence in football and unrestricted access to assault weapons, but has no hesitation ordering women into combat. He predicts economic growth, while the economy shrunk in 2012. He blames Congress for our economic situation, while willing to increase spending. He proposes lifting the ban on gays in Boy Scouts, while endorsing liberties and freedom for everyone… but denies the Boy Scouts their freedom to exclude gays. In this context, please read the next article.

Religious Groups Object to Boy Scout Changes

The Wall Street Journal reported on February 6:

“The Boy Scouts of America’s national executive board said Wednesday that it is delaying a vote on changes to the group’s ban on gay scouts and leaders, amid pressure from religious groups that say more discussion is needed… ‘After careful consideration and extensive dialogue within the Scouting family, along with comments from those outside the organization, the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy,’ the Scouts said in a statement…

“Some of the religious leaders were opposed to the change, while others supported it… Last summer, the Scouts reaffirmed the ban, saying it was ‘absolutely the best policy’…  The Scouts have been under pressure from gay-rights activists, who over the past year have gathered more than a million signatures through online petitions to end the ban. Some corporate sponsors pulled funding because of the ban…”

Obamacare’s Disaster and “Hidden” Curse

Breitbart wrote on January 31, 2013:

“The IRS has begun implementing Obamacare; starting in 2014, ‘people who choose not to buy insurance and don’t qualify for an exemption from the mandate will have to pay a fine of $95.’ The $95 penalty will increase to $695 in 2016, and continue to grow thereafter at a ‘pre-determined’ rate.
“Households that do not earn enough to pay federal income tax are exempt from the penalty of the mandate, as are persons who are temporarily unemployed or transitioning from one job to another. The current rules of the healthcare overhaul also say that if you have insurance ‘for one day of a month,’ it will count as having coverage for that entire month.”
On January 31, 2013, CNS News reported:

“In a final regulation issued Wednesday, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assumed that under Obamacare the cheapest health insurance plan available in 2016 for a family will cost $20,000 for the year. Under Obamacare, Americans will be required to buy health insurance or pay a penalty to the IRS. The IRS’s assumption that the cheapest plan for a family will cost $20,000 per year is found in examples the IRS gives to help people understand how to calculate the penalty they will need to pay the government if they do not buy a mandated health plan.

“The examples point to families of four and families of five, both of which the IRS expects in its assumptions to pay a minimum of $20,000 per year for a bronze plan. ‘The annual national average bronze plan premium for a family of 5 (2 adults, 3 children) is $20,000,’ the regulation says. Bronze will be the lowest tier health-insurance plan available under Obamacare–after Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Under the law, the penalty for not buying health insurance is supposed to be capped at either the annual average Bronze premium, 2.5 percent of taxable income, or $2,085.00 per family in 2016… the IRS calculates that a family earning $120,000 per year that did not buy insurance would need to pay a ‘penalty’ (a word the IRS still uses despite the Supreme Court ruling that it is in fact a ‘tax’) of $2,400 in 2016…”

Ignorant left-wing liberals and socialists embraced and welcomed the Obamacare regulations as a great accomplishment, while nobody had actually read the bill. They are being surprised more and more by the hidden curses and disastrous concepts of this ill-conceived adventure which are bound to contribute to the economic downfall of our country.

Drone War At High Risk

NBC News reported on February 6:

“Legal experts expressed grave reservations Tuesday about an Obama administration memo concluding that the United States can order the killing of American citizens believed to be affiliated with al-Qaida — with one saying the White House was acting as ‘judge, jury and executioner’… The experts said the memo… threatened constitutional rights and dangerously expanded the definition of national self-defense and of what constitutes an imminent attack. ‘Anyone should be concerned when the president and his lawyers make up their own interpretation of the law or their own rules,’ said Mary Ellen O’Connell, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame and an authority on international law and the use of force. ‘This is a very, very dangerous thing that the president has done,’ she added.

“…the memo… specifically says the government is not required to have ‘clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.’… Glenn Greenwald, a constitutional lawyer who writes about security and liberty for the British newspaper The Guardian, described the memo as ‘fundamentally misleading,’ with a clinical tone that disguises ‘the radical and dangerous power it purports to authorize. If you believe the president has the power to order U.S. citizens executed far from any battlefield with no charges or trial, then it’s truly hard to conceive of any asserted power you would find objectionable,’ he wrote.”

While many conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats support the Obama Administration’s use of drones to kill “the enemy”—including American citizens abroad—CNN, normally very supportive of President Obama, asked the pertinent question on February 6 where it will end—if it is permitted today to kill American citizens abroad without any charges, trial and conviction, only because they are SUSPECTED of terrorist activities, will the government soon be willing to kill “suspicious” American citizens INSIDE the USA?

Cyberattacks at High Risk

Deutsche Welle reported on February 6:

“Media reports claim that the US is secretly claiming the right to launch pre-emptive cyberattacks in ‘credible threat’ scenarios… Many were surprised when the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post announced recently that they had been hit for over four months by cyberattacks, in part coming from China. Perhaps more alarmingly, the US Department of Homeland Security said that one power station had been knocked out for weeks by a cyberattack, though it declined to say which. The US has of course launched a number of digital onslaughts of its own, most notably on Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities. And that attack was not risk-free, as the so-called Stuxnet virus injected into Iranian systems ended up being leaked onto the Internet and copied millions of times.

“A number of security firms and analysts have warned that cyber warfare will escalate in 2013, with some warning that it could be only a matter of time before a cyberweapon takes lives like any other weapon would…  ‘A [cyberattack] perpetrated by nation states or violent extremist groups could be as destructive as the terrorist attack of 9/11,’ Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said last October. ‘Such a destructive cyber terrorist attack could paralyze the nation.’ That view appeared to be confirmed by a report in the New York Times on Sunday (03.02.2013), which indicated that the arsenal of cyber weapons now at the disposal of the US and other nation-states is larger than most suspect. ‘There are levels of cyberwarfare that are far more aggressive than anything that has been used or recommended to be done,’ one official told the paper on condition of anonymity…

“That begs many questions – such as: who is able to order such attacks, and under what circumstances? According to the officials quoted in the New York Times, the answer to the first question is pretty clear – only the president… the answer to the second question – the definition of when an attack may be carried out – remains deliberately vague… a secret legal review seen by the New York Times suggests that President Barack Obama has the power to order a pre-emptive strike, if the US has credible evidence of an imminent digital attack…”

In light of the government’s dealings with drones, the President’s perceived authority to order cyberattacks is also a frightening and little assuring scenario.

“Those Who Live by the Sword…”

Fox News reported on February 5:

“After a public backlash, former presidential candidate Ron Paul used his Facebook page to clarify controversial comments he made Monday about the Navy SEAL who was killed at a Texas gun range over the weekend. On Monday, Paul, 77, took cyber heat for a tweet he sent out following the news of the veteran’s death. Paul wrote: ‘Chris Kyle’s death seems to confirm that “he who lives by the sword dies by the sword”’…

“Paul… offered a clarification on his Facebook page. He wrote: ‘As a veteran, I certainly recognize that this weekend’s violence and killing of Chris Kyle were a tragic and sad event. My condolences and prayers go out to Mr. Kyle’s family. Unconstitutional and unnecessary wars have endless unintended consequences. A policy of non-violence, as Christ preached, would have prevented this and similar tragedies…’

“Paul has spent much of his congressional career denouncing military intervention overseas. He publicly opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and called them unconstitutional… Kyle, who had four tours in Iraq, was the most lethal sniper in the U.S. He had 160 confirmed kills and received 14 different awards and decorations, including two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars with Valor and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals…”

Egypt Receives U.S. Fighter Jets

Reuters reported on February 3:

“The United States has delivered four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt, Egypt’s military and a U.S. military delegation said on Sunday, highlighting military links between the two countries despite Egypt’s political upheaval. A statement from the American embassy in Cairo said a U.S. delegation and Egypt held a joint ceremony on Sunday to mark the arrival of the jets, the latest of 224 F-16s delivered to Egypt. “

“U.S. aid, which has brought criticism in the U.S. Congress, has given the United States leverage over Egypt for decades and given its warships preferential access to the Suez Canal… Part of a group of 20 F-16s, the four jets arrived in January, with the rest due later in 2013, Egyptian media reported.”

America’s political blindness continues. It has not learned from its past mistakes. It is continuing to feed the Frankenstein monster of its own creation.

Iran Wants Ties with Egypt

The Washington Post reported on February 5:

“President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Cairo on Tuesday as Iran’s first leader to visit Egypt since the two nations ended diplomatic relations in 1980, another sign of the regional shifts triggered by the Arab Spring. But although the countries’ ties have thawed since the overthrow of Egyptian autocrat Hosni Mubarak, key differences — including opposing views on the conflict in Syria — make the prospect of fully restored relations distant…

“Iran cut off diplomatic relations with Egypt in 1980 over the latter’s recognition of Israel, and Mubarak, who cultivated ties with the West, was deeply suspicious of Tehran’s influence. But Morsi traveled to Iran in August for a Non-Aligned Movement meeting, and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has begun advancing the idea that Iran’s 1979 revolution was, as he put it last summer, ‘a role model for these popular movements’ that have risen up during the Arab Spring. As he left Tehran for Cairo, where he is scheduled to attend an Islamic conference, Ahmadinejad told reporters that his purpose was to ‘try to prepare the grounds for cooperation between the two great nations of Iran and Egypt’…

“Their governments share opposition to Israel and intense interest in the Syrian conflict…The most immediate divergence between the nations is their view of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which Iran supports and Egypt condemns… Still, some observers say Egypt is looking to maintain at least cordial ties with the Islamic republic, which it recognizes as a major regional player and worthwhile economic partner.”

Egypt Asks Muslim Countries to Unite Against Israel

The Times of Israel wrote on February 6:

“Egypt’s Islamist president on Wednesday told leaders of Islamic countries that there will not be regional peace until a Palestinian state is founded, and called on them to unite against Israel. Speaking at an Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit in Cairo, Mohammed Morsi said that ‘there won’t be peace in the Arab region unless the Palestinian people receive their rights and unless the brutal assault [on them] ends and the Palestinians receive their freedom and have a separate homeland and sovereign state.’

“The means of obtaining that objective, he told OIC leaders, was unified action by Muslim states against Israel. ‘We must cooperate to stop Israel’s hotheaded takeover of the Palestinian territories,’ he said. ‘The Palestinian issue is the central issue… it is the cornerstone for stability [in the Middle East]. The aspiration is to found a sovereign state whose capital is Jerusalem, and [we] are obliged to do it.’”

Brainwashing Through Evolution

The Guardian wrote on January 31, 2013:

“Four US states are considering new legislation about teaching science in schools, allowing pupils to be taught religious versions of how life on earth developed in what critics say would establish a backdoor way of questioning the theory of evolution. Fresh legislation has been put forward in Colorado, Missouri and Montana. In Oklahoma, there are two bills before the state legislature that include potentially creationist language…

“The moves in such a wide range of states have angered advocates of secularism in American official life… Over the past few years, only Tennessee and Louisiana have managed to pass so-called ‘academic freedom’ laws of the kind currently being considered in the four states…

“Intelligent design, which a local school board in Dover, Pennsylvania, had sought to get accepted as legitimate science, [was defeated in a landmark court case in 2005 and] asserts that modern life is too complex to have evolved by chance alone…”

While the unscientific and thoroughly atheistic evolution concept is being taught to the minds of our children with the obvious attempt to brainwash them, the biblical and godly truth of creation is being rejected by secularists and scientific agnostics.

Monumental Decision Regarding Ecumenical Relations

The Huffington Post wrote on January 31:

“In a monumental occasion for ecumenical relations, the U.S. Roman Catholic church and a group of Protestant denominations plan to sign a document on Tuesday evening to formally agree to recognize each other’s baptisms. Catholic leaders will join representatives from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Christian Reformed Church in North America, Reformed Church in America and United Church of Christ at the ceremony in Austin, Texas, to sign the agreement…

“Currently, the Protestant churches recognize Roman Catholic baptisms, but the Catholic church does not always recognize theirs. The mutual agreement on baptisms, a key sacrament in the churches, has been discussed between denominational leadership for seven years and hinges in part on invoking trinity of the ‘Father, Son and Holy Spirit’ during the baptism…

“The Roman Catholic church as a whole has generally recognized the baptisms of most mainstream Christian denominations since the Second Vatican Council, a series of historic church meetings from 1962 to 1965, but the formal baptism agreement is the first of its kind for the U.S. church.

“According to a prior statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which was released in 2010 when bishops were deliberating the agreement, the understanding between the churches ‘affirms that both Catholic and Reformed Christians hold that baptism is the sacramental bond of unity for the Body of Christ, which is to be performed only once, by an authorized minister, with flowing water, using the Scriptural Trinitarian formula of “Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”’…

“The Austin newspaper reported that Tuesday’s agreement says that ‘for our baptisms to be mutually recognized, water and the scriptural Trinitarian formula ‘Father, Son, and Holy Spirit’ (Matthew 28:19-20) must be used in the baptismal rite.’”

The Bible predicts that the Protestant churches, which separated from the Catholic Church during the Reformation or subsequently, will return to the mother church of Rome and become again part of a worldwide religious system. However, this system is not in accord with major biblical doctrines. For instance, the Trinity is nowhere taught in Scripture, and the biblical concept and “formula” of baptism is totally different from the baptism practiced by the Catholic and Protestant churches. Please read our free booklet, “Baptism—A Requirement for Salvation?”

Coming—Agreement Between Holy See and Palestine

On January 31, 2013, VIS reported:

“Following the bilateral negotiations held in past years with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), an official meeting took place in Ramallah, Palestine on 30 January 2013, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine. The talks were headed by Dr. Riad Al-Malki, minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine, and Msgr. Ettore Balestrero, under-secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States.

“The Parties exchanged views regarding the draft Agreement under discussion, especially the Preamble and Chapter I of the mentioned Agreement. The talks were held in an open and cordial atmosphere, the expression of the existing good relations between the Holy See and the State of Palestine. The Delegations expressed the wish that negotiations be accelerated and brought to a speedy conclusion. It was thus agreed that a joint technical group will meet to follow-up.”

According to the Bible, the Catholic Church will involve itself more and more in the political affairs in the Middle East, thereby taking the side of countries and movements opposed to the state of Israel.

Catholic Archbishop of Germany Allows Morning-After Pill in Cases of Rape

The Local wrote on February 5:

“Clergy across North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) on Monday backed the Archbishop of Cologne’s controversial decision to allow doctors in Catholic-run clinics in the western German state to prescribe rape victims the morning-after pill.

“Archbishop Josef Cardinal Meisner caused a stir in Church circles last week when he said the morning-after pill was, in certain circumstances, not morally objectionable. Bishops of the Münster, Aachen, Essen and Paderborn dioceses officially gave him their support on Monday… In the instance of rape, medication that stopped pregnancy by halting the division of cells had the Archbishop’s blessing. Chemical abortion pills, however, remained unacceptable in the eyes of the Church.

“Two Catholic clinics in NRW came under fire in January after it emerged that they refused in December a woman who had been raped the morning-after pill. Their reasoning was that their medical treatment of the woman would result in ending a pregnancy, which is against Church doctrine.”

The Pope has not officially spoken on this rather startling development in the German Catholic Church.

Jews Not Welcome!

The Spectator wrote on January 29:

“Should Jews leave Britain?… David Ward, the Liberal Democrat MP for Bradford East, used the opportunity provided by Holocaust Memorial Day to punish the Jews for the Holocaust:

“‘Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.’

“And on the day itself the Sunday Times saw fit to publish a cartoon by the witless Gerald Scarfe showing the Prime Minister of the Jewish state building a wall consisting of bloodied and dying Palestinians. Much of the comment on these latter cases has focused on the ‘inappropriateness’ of running an anti-Semitic cartoon or making an anti-Semitic comment so close to Holocaust Memorial Day. I cannot help thinking that this is missing the point…

“There is absolutely no connection between, for instance, the liquidation of hundreds of thousands of Jews in the Warsaw ghetto and the treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank. There is absolutely no connection between the situation in Gaza and the herding of six million Jews into concentration camps. The wonder then is not over Scarfe or Ward’s sense of timing, but why at any point in any year they would be so keen to spread lies and to bait Jews by comparing the actions of the Jewish state with those of a genocidal doctrine of Nazism which sought to annihilate the Jews.

“Rupert Murdoch has apologised for the Scarfe cartoon and Ward now seems to be reluctantly towing what Liberal Democrat party line can be held… What sort of future is there in Britain for Jews?… what is becoming increasingly clear is that the price of that future is that Jews will increasingly be expected to distance themselves from Israel. There is a fair amount of evidence from the Jewish community suggesting that this process is already underway. Once it is complete then those ‘good’ anti-Israel Jews will be able to proclaim victory…”

These are remarkable words in the light of biblical prophecy. We read in the book of Zechariah, in the 14th chapter, that in the end time, Judah will fight against Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:14, Revised Standard Version), speaking of those Jews who escaped captivity by supporting the Gentile armies, compare Daniel 11:32.

In addition, there is a tendency in Europe to establish countries which will be “free from Jews” (“Judenfrei”), as Kopp Online reported already on July 19, 2012. According to that article, all Norwegian Jews left their country because of fear of growing anti-Semitism. Regular attacks against Jews were reported in Sweden, France, Belgium and The Netherlands, leading, as a consequence, to a mass exodus of Jews from those countries. The anti-Jewish decision of a court in Germany pertaining to circumcision must be viewed in this light. There may be a temporary “cease-fire” arrangement, due to a German law permitting circumcision under certain circumstances, but it is, in effect, nothing else but the temporary calm before the next storm. Please view our recent StandingWatch program, “Worldwide Attacks on Israel.”

Europe–a Free-Fire Zone for Iran and Hezbollah?

On February 5, the Washington Post wrote the following:

“On Tuesday, the Bulgarian government confirmed what most of the world has known for months: The bombing of a bus carrying Israeli tourists in the Black Sea resort of Burgas last July 18 was carried out by members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah organization. The results of an official investigation present leaders of the European Union with a reality that will be difficult to ignore. They must decide whether to allow a terrorist attack on E.U. territory to go unpunished or to sanction a movement that is both an Iranian proxy and the dominant party in the Lebanese government.

“The case for sanctions is a strong one. The Burgas attack, which killed five Israelis and wounded more than 100, was not an isolated incident but part of a campaign of terrorism against Israeli, U.S. and gulf state targets by Hezbollah and the Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. According to a new report by Matthew Levitt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the two groups decided in January 2010 to launch a campaign of violence aimed at punishing Israel for the assassination of Iranian scientists and deterring an attack on Iran’s nuclear program.

“Since then the Quds Force has, among other things, plotted to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States in Washington and the U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan, and it has attacked an Israeli diplomat’s wife in India. Hezbollah has attempted attacks on Israeli tourists in Cyprus, Greece and Thailand as well as in Bulgaria. Mr. Levitt says that more than 20 terror attacks by Hezbollah or the Iranian force were detected between May 2011 and July 2012; fortunately, almost all failed or were disrupted.

“Israel participates in this shadow war, too: Five Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated in recent years. The United States has sponsored cyberattacks on Iranian nuclear facilities. But nothing justifies Hezbollah’s attempts to murder tourists; one of those killed in Bulgaria was a pregnant woman. Nor should a democratic community such as the European Union tolerate terrorist attacks on its territory by an established organization such as Hezbollah, which seeks recognition as a legitimate political movement worthy of governing Lebanon.

“The United States, which long ago designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, has been pressing European leaders to do the same so that the group’s funds in European banks and other financial assets can be targeted. Several governments, led by France, have resisted; they worry that sanctions could further destabilize Lebanon or subject European peacekeepers in the south of that country to reprisals. Bulgaria’s findings should end the debate. Inaction would mean accepting that Europe can be a free-fire zone for Iran and its proxies.”

The Times of Israel added on February 6:

“Now that a Bulgarian investigation has confirmed that Hezbollah is responsible for the bus bombing last July in Burgas that killed six civilians, more and more voices are demanding that the European Union place the Shiite group on its list of terror organizations. EU officials said Wednesday they would reassess their stance, but experts remain doubtful that anything will change.

“The West didn’t need a Bulgarian police report to know Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. Even Turkey includes Hassan Nasrallah’s militia in its official list of terrorist groups. So why is it that the EU refuses to state the obvious, and thereby help prevent terrorism and save lives?

“Officially labeling Hezbollah a terrorist entity… requires unanimity among the EU’s 27 member states… ‘We know that the French government has until now been reluctant to back other European countries with respect to Hezbollah. But Burgas has shown that Islamist terrorism is not just happening in Mali, it is not just happening in the Middle East, it is also happening right here in Europe, and it must be stopped,’ said Ronald Lauder, the head of the World Jewish Congress…

“Among policy analysts it is indeed clear that the French are behind the EU’s refusal, and had actually been pressuring Bulgarian authorities not to name Hezbollah so as not to up the pressure on them. But why is France so reluctant to call a spade a spade? After all, the country has experienced firsthand the deadly effects of Hezbollah terrorism. In 1983, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah’s predecessor organization, sent two suicide bombers to attack American and French troops in Beirut. Among the 299 dead were 58 French paratroopers, in what is said to have been the single worst military loss for Le Grande Nation since the end of the Algerian War in 1962…

“One often-quoted argument says Hezbollah is also a political party and therefore Europe shies away from categorizing it as a terror group. But the EU’s terror list does include Hamas, which won the Palestinian legislative elections in 2006, as well as the militant Communist Party of the Philippines, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and other groups that are involved in their countries’ political systems.

“Obviously, there must be other reasons for the stubbornness of the French and their supporters, Germany among them. According to Matthew Levitt, the director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s counterterrorism and intelligence program, the Europeans are afraid to stir up a hornet’s nest. ‘Hezbollah is not very active in Europe. The Europeans feel that if you poke Hezbollah or Iran in the eye then they will do the same to you. If you leave them alone, then maybe they will leave you alone,’ Levitt said… But none of these are sufficient reasons to stall efforts to label Hezbollah a terrorist group, argues Levitt…

“Hershco, the Begin-Sadat Center expert, seemed to believe that not much would change. ‘The report is very embarrassing for the French but they will stick to their policy, trying to keep good relations with the Lebanese government — and Hezbollah is the strong party there,’ she said. As long as France hides behind the absence of near-unattainable unanimity and doesn’t clearly take a stand, the EU’s ‘Common Position 2001/931/CFSP on the application of specific measures to combat terrorism’ is unlikely to be amended to include Hezbollah. In other words, if France sticks to its guns, so will Hezbollah — literally. ‘Failure to [list the organization as a terrorist group] will only give these killers the opportunity to further organize, recruit, raise funds, and carry out additional terrorist attacks across the continent,’ Royce, the chairman of House Foreign Affairs Committee, said. ‘The EU’s indefensible policy on Hezbollah makes defending all of us from Iranian-backed terrorism even more difficult.’”

Magnitude 8.0 Earthquake in South Pacific Generates Tsunami

Fox News and The Associated Press reported on February 6:

“A powerful magnitude 8.0 earthquake off the Solomon Islands generated a tsunami of up to 5 feet that killed at least 5 people, a hospital official says, while the death toll is feared to rise as officials inspect dozens of damaged homes… Solomons officials reported two 1.5-meter (4 foot, 11 inch) waves hit the western side of Santa Cruz Island, damaging between 70 and 80 homes and properties… Dozens of aftershocks stronger than magnitude 5 followed the quake…

“The tsunami formed after a magnitude-8.0 earthquake struck near the town of Lata, on Santa Cruz in Temotu, the easternmost province in the Solomons, about a 3-hour flight from the capital, Honiara. Temotu has a population of around 30,000. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said a tsunami of about a meter (3 feet) was measured in Lata wharf…

“More than 50 people were killed and thousands lost their homes in April 2007 when a magnitude-8.1 quake hit the western Solomon Islands, sending waves crashing into coastal villages. The Solomons comprise more than 200 islands with a population of about 552,000 people. They lie on the ‘Ring of Fire’ — an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones that stretches around the Pacific Rim and where about 90 percent of the world’s quakes occur.”

Hundreds of European and Non-European Football (Soccer) Matches Rigged

The EUobserver reported on February 5:

“A ‘sophisticated organised crime operation’ stretching all the way to Asia bribed officials and rigged over 380 football [soccer] matches in Europe, generating some €8 million in profit, EU’s police agency (Europol) has uncovered… the sheer size of the illegal profits ‘threatens the very fabric of the game’. A total of 425 football officials, players and serious criminals from more than 15 countries are suspected of being involved. Some €2 million were paid out in bribes.

“Europol said it used intelligence from 13,000 emails connecting the dots between suspects and establishing the links with organised crime networks in Asia. Several prosecutions have already started, with 14 people convicted in Germany. Among the 380 rigged matches in Europe between 2008 and 2011 are World Cup and European Championship qualification matches, two UEFA Champions League matches and several top-flight matches in European national leagues. Another 300 suspicious matches were identified outside Europe, mainly in Africa, Asia, South and Central America.

“‘We have evidence for 150 of these cases and the operations were run out of Singapore with bribes of up to €100,000 paid per match. Even two World Championship Qualification matches in Africa, and one in Central America, are under suspicion,’ a German police officer present at the briefing said Monday… The ringleaders are of Asian origin, working closely together with European facilitators. During the investigation, links were also found to Russian-speaking and other criminal syndicates. Europol would not name any individual clubs, but its chief said ‘it would be naive and complacent to think’ that no English clubs were involved.”

Carnival in Germany

Deutsche Welle reported on February 7:

“A week of partying in what is commonly known as the year’s ‘fifth season’ has begun in Germany’s western Rhineland region… The Rhineland Carnival is held each year in the last week before Lent, which is the 40-day religious period before Easter observed by Christians around the world. Between Thursday morning and Ash Wednesday, the Rhineland is transformed by day-upon-day of partying complete with costumes, copious amounts of alcohol and carnival parades… The biggest parade is to be held on Monday, which is known as Rose Monday, through the streets of downtown Cologne. Tens of thousands line the parade route each year to catch sweets thrown from the crowd from revelers on the passing floats. Those same floats are often used to poke fun at German politicians.

“Although the Rhineland is regarded as being at the heart of Carnival in Germany, it is also celebrated in other regions of the country, in which it sometimes goes by different names, such as Fasching, as it is known in the south…

“Carnival in Germany mobilizes millions of people who spend billions of euros every year. The celebration, often referred to as ‘the fifth season’ because of its huge economic clout, differs commercially from other events like Halloween where people also wear costumes but spend far less… The carnival season generates annual revenues of almost 2 billion euros ($2.7 billion), according to data provided by the German Carnival Association (BDK), which has 2.6 million enthusiasts organized in some 4,700 clubs. But it’s not only these groups that are in a spending mood during the days of what many call ‘complete madness.’ Carnival bastions such as Cologne, Düsseldorf and Mainz attract millions of visitors to the delight of hotels and catering businesses. Carnival tourism alone generates three-digit-million-euro revenue… In fact, some 3,000 firms with more than 40,000 employees rely completely on carnival sales…”

The Local added on February 7:

“According to the tradition of Weiberfastnacht, or the ‘Wenches Carnival,’ hoards of women in the largely Catholic region descend on city halls at exactly 11:11 am to snip off men’s ties to show them who’s really boss. Always on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, the day is also known as Fat Thursday, when men generally wear old ties in anticipation of losing this symbol of their manhood, a humiliation that is also traditionally soothed with a kiss. In Düsseldorf, the women traditionally stage the mock arrest of the city’s mayor, while in Cologne the triumvirate of presiding fools, or Dreigestirn, takes hold of the keys to the city. Thousands of costumed clownish revellers known as Narren took to Cologne’s streets despite extremely chilly weather… But Trier has decided to ease into Karneval this year, instituting a ban on booze in the old town until 7pm on Thursday. The city is hoping to avoid a repeat of teenage excesses last year, when 60 youths suffered injuries and alcohol poisoning.”

We produced a new StandingWatch program in the German language, addressing the origin of carnival and its customs, and showing that it is not godly to participate in it.

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