Present German Pope Resigns
On February 11, the New York Times wrote the following:
“Citing advanced years and infirmity, but showing characteristic tough-mindedness and unpredictability, Pope Benedict XVI shocked Roman Catholics on Monday by saying that he would resign on Feb. 28, becoming the first pope to do so in six centuries… Benedict’s papacy was overshadowed by clerical abuse scandals, a case involving documents leaked from within the Vatican itself and tangles with Jews, Muslims and Anglicans. In his handling of the sexual abuse crisis, critics said that his failures of governance were tantamount to moral failings… Father Lombardi said that the pope would continue to carry out his duties until Feb. 28 at 8 p.m., and that a successor would probably be elected by Easter, which falls on March 31…
“The church’s 265th pope, Benedict was the first German to hold the title in half a millennium, and his election was a milestone toward Germany’s spiritual renewal 60 years after World War II and the Holocaust. At 78, he was also the oldest new pope since 1730…”
A Divisive Figure
Der Spiegel wrote on February 11:
“Ever since his appointment in April 2005, Benedict XVI has been a divisive figure. The euphoria over the election of a Bavarian pope that first swept Germany has long since receded. With all due respect to the first pope to voluntarily step down in hundreds of years: In the eight years he held office, the pope did more to polarize than to unify Catholics in his country of birth… Here in Germany, his election led to an increasing split within the Church. On the one side were the disappointed advocates of long-overdue reform. On the other were the fundamentalists, the upholders of tradition and self-appointed guardians of the faith who wanted to turn the clock back to before the Second Vatican Council and sought salvation in an authoritarian and hierarchical Church of the past…
“Some in Germany are already speaking of a schism within the Conference of Bishops. During his years in office, Pope Benedict boosted the reactionary wing of the Catholic community, with its frequently obscure splinter groups, more than his predecessor did — be it with his approaches to the ultra-conservative Pius Brothers, his scolding of renegade theologians or his fondness for the Traditional Mass. His efforts to address the abuse scandals that rocked the Catholic Church all over the world were too little, too late. Neither in the United States, Ireland nor Germany did he and his bishops manage to regain the trust subsequently lost. Under a German pope, no less, the Church’s reputation arrived at an all-time low in Germany in early 2013. According to a study conducted by the Sinus Institute, even the most loyal Catholics don’t trust their own bishops. Once hailed as a sophisticate, the head of the Church morphed into a leader who lurched on the international stage from one unfortunate mishap to another…
“Benedict’s resignation, however, now reshuffles the cards. Power structures could shift as a result, however slightly, when a new pope, possibly even one from another continent, blesses the world from St. Peter’s Basilica this Easter. It is a prospect that fills many leading Catholics in Germany with hope, others with fear. The pope, though, has taken some steps to ensure that his political legacy will continue in Rome — particularly through his appointment of former Regensburg Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller. As the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Müller is a rough and ready guarantee of strict orthodoxy on central Vatican positions. And just a short time ago, Benedict elevated his private secretary, Georg Gänswein, to the status of bishop.
“… many in Germany have long yearned for an end to the Ratzinger era, no matter who might succeed him. It remains to be seen whether German bishops will have more confidence than before to follow a more independent path. But there will certainly be more room for risk taking. Indeed, Benedict’s resignation offers the Catholic Church in Germany a new chance to free itself from torpor created by this paternalistic pope and to perhaps finally find a way to begin resolving the deep crisis facing German Catholics.”
The Search for a Successor
As the Catholic Church is preparing for the election of a new pope, opinions vary widely as to whether the upcoming election will be inspired by the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ or the Virgin Mary—or whether it will be simply the product of politicking and human agreements under the sway and influence of the current pope, or perhaps even the “dark side.”
The Associated Press reported on February 11:
“The announcement… will also allow Benedict to hold great sway over the choice of his successor. He has already hand-picked the bulk of the College of Cardinals — the princes of the church who will elect the next Pope — to guarantee his conservative legacy and ensure an orthodox future for the church…
“The last Pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII, who stepped down in 1415 in a deal to end the Great Western Schism among competing papal claimants. The most famous resignation was Pope Celestine V in 1294; Dante placed him in hell for it…
“[Benedict] called it prophetic that a German followed a Polish pope — with both men coming from such different sides of World War II…”
The Guardian wrote on February 11:
“By the time the conclave begins, there is likely to be at least some consensus over the leading contenders. But Catholics believe that, once behind the shut doors of the Sistine Chapel, the cardinals are guided to their decision by God directly in the guise of the Holy Spirit. Anything becomes possible.”
In his resignation, the pope wrote: “… let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff.”
Deutsche Welle wrote on February 11:
“In terms of church politics, Pope Benedict XVI’s eight-year tenure was a period of transition. But he did leave his own mark by appointing nearly half of the cardinals who will now elect his successor…”
The Washington Times wrote on February 11:
“It will be the first conclave to take place with a previous pope still alive since the one that selected Boniface in 1294, and it is clear Benedict will yield great influence over a conclave in which every voting cardinal was appointed either by Benedict or by John Paul with the counsel of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict’s name before he became pope. It is unlikely that Benedict will make a single utterance about the conclave once he steps down, but Vatican experts said cardinals will know that whatever decision they make will be judged by the man he replaced. ‘A strong figure like Benedict will be in the [conclave] even if he is not there physically,’ said the Rev. Alistair Sear, a retired church historian. ‘He will be in their thoughts as they cast their votes.’”
The Washington Post wrote on February 11:
“In the 13th century, the position was vacant for 31 / 2 years… In some ways, the selection of a new pope will have more potential to influence the future of Catholicism than the election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then 78, in 2005…
“The list is highly speculative. Unlike in a presidential race, Vatican practice for centuries has barred public discussion about possible successors while a pope is alive, or anything that even whiffs of open campaigning. Italians make up a quarter of the cardinals who will participate in the voting meeting, or conclave, in March. Europeans make up more than half. Since this pope is alive, the cardinals are in unchartered waters and will probably meet in small groups to quietly brainstorm and discuss the possibilities until the conclave begins.
“That’s when they will decide what kind of theologian they want, what kind of manager, what kind of communicator. Do they want to try to revive the powerful and secularizing West or turn toward the developing world, where two-thirds of Catholics now live? Even within regions, there is huge diversity. For example, some African Catholics aren’t as orthodox on contraception, which can protect from AIDS, but are conservative on homosexuality…
“Catholic debate in the United States often centers on issues such as whether the church should allow the ordination of women or married priests. But those are not the debates of the cardinals, all of whom were picked by Benedict or his like-minded predecessor, Pope John Paul II. They are in agreement on such matters as allowing female priests, contraception, or equality for gays and lesbians: no, no and no.”
“Will a Black Pope Replace Benedict?”
On February 11, Newsmax ran an article with the above-cited headline, continuing:
“With the shocking announcement that Pope Benedict XVI will be stepping down at the end of the month, all eyes are now on the men who are being considered to replace him and become the 266th Pope. Many within the Roman Catholic Church believe the time has come for a non-European to ascend to the papacy. Here is a look at some of the front-runners:
“Peter Turkson (Ghana, age 64) is the one of the top African candidates. Head of the Vatican justice and peace bureau, he is spokesman for the Church’s social conscience and backs world financial reform…
“Francis Arinze (Nigeria, age 80) is also a strong African contender. He is Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, having served as prefect from 2002 to 2008. He is the current Cardinal Bishop of Velletri-Segni, succeeding Joseph Ratzinger in 2005…
“In addition, there is a large and growing Catholic population in Latin America to consider. The region already represents 42 percent of the world’s 1.2 billion-strong Catholics, the largest single block in the Church, compared to 25 percent in Europe.”
The “Prophecy” of an Ancient Bishop
Newsmax wrote on February 13:
“Ancient Catholic prophecies by a revered Irish bishop end with the chilling prediction that the next Pope to be selected by the College of Cardinals to fill Benedict XVI’s place will be the last Pope. St. Malachy, an Archbishop of Armagh who died in 1148, left behind a list of 112 Popes that has amazed some with its remarkable accuracy. Malachy used a short phrase in Latin to describe each Pope, beginning with Celestine II and ‘From a castle on the Tiber.’ That Pope’s birth name was Guido di Castello. More recently, he described Pope John Paul I with the phrase: ‘From the midst of the moon.’ His reign, which began in 1978, began with the moon half full and lasted only one month — or one moon. He was followed by Pope John Paul II by the Latin expression ‘Laboris Solis’ — or translated ‘From the labor of the sun’ — an expression meaning a solar eclipse. As it turned out, John Paul II was the only known pope to be born on the day of a solar eclipse — and he was buried on the day of a solar eclipse.
“A near total eclipse was seen across Europe on May 18, 1920, the day he was born in Poland. And on April 8, 2005, the day of the Pope’s funeral, a partial solar eclipse blotted out most of the sun and darkened a wide area of the world, from the South Pacific to the Western Hemisphere. For the next Pope, Benedict XVI, St. Malachy wrote: ‘Glory of the olive.’ Before the Pope was selected, some suggested a Benedictine would be elected because the order is sometimes referred to as the Olivetans, whose name ultimately derives from the Mount of Olives in the New Testament. A Benedictine was not selected. However, upon his election as pontiff, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger chose the name Benedict after St. Benedict of Nursia, founder of the Benedictine Order.
“St. Malachy described only one more Pope after Benedict, ‘Petrus Romanus’ or ‘Peter the Roman.’ The Irish prophet wrote: ‘In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will reign Peter the Roman, who will feed his flock amid many tribulations; after which the seven-hilled city (Rome) will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people.’ Some believe the prophecy could foretell the destruction of the Church, or the world, and play into Christian prophecy as revealed in the book of Revelation which suggests a final battle between good and evil…
“According to a traditional account, Malachy was summoned to Rome by Pope Innocent II in 1139, and while there he purportedly experienced a vision of future Popes. He recorded the vision in his cryptic phrases and this manuscript was left in an archive and forgotten until its rediscovery in 1590…”
Please see our new StandingWatch program, “Peter of Rome–The Last Black Pope?” If that “prophecy” was indeed genuine, it was not a prophecy given by God. And one cannot trust demonic prophecies. Even though demons may know aspects of the truth and the future, they are also liars and deceivers.
Cartoons and Lightning
Der Spiegel Online wrote on February 13:
“The day before it happened, a German page-a-day calendar prophesied the pope’s resignation, and then lightning struck St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Were these mysterious events just coincidence or a sign from God? On Monday morning he tore off a page from his daily calendar, just like any other day. But then a bit later he heard the news on the radio: Pope Benedict XVI was resigning. ‘I was a bit shocked,’ says Jürgen Holtfreter. Certainly the announcement came as [a] shock to many, but Holtfreter was positively mystified. The calendar he had updated was his own — a page-a-day cartoon calendar called ‘Karicartoon’ that he produces each year. The cartoon that he tore away from the day before, Sunday February 10, happened to be of the pope winning the lottery. ‘Holy sack of straw!,’ the pope thinks as he sees all of his numbers come up on the televized lottery results. Then, the thought bubble became prophetic. ‘I’m quitting tomorrow!’ it reads. And then, as though the cartoon had predicted the future, Pope Benedict XVI announced he was stepping down.
“Holtfreter says the 2013 calendar was finished around Easter of 2012. It was a coincidence ‘as unlikely as a lottery win,’ says cartoonist Katharina Greve, who originally created the prophetic drawing about a year and a half ago for the German weekly Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung… The cartoon wasn’t the only strange coincidence on that day, though. On Monday evening, two photojournalists and a BBC video captured stunning images of a bolt of lightning striking St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican late on Monday afternoon after the pope’s announcement. And this after one of his senior cardinals, Angelo Sodano, had made the widely quoted comment that Benedict’s move was a ‘bolt of lightning in a clear blue sky.’ Mere coincidences, or a message from beyond?”
Der Spiegel Online wrote on February 12:
“Pope Benedict XVI told almost no one that he was preparing to become the first pope in 719 years to resign from the papacy. His advisors were taken by surprise, as were the cardinals attending a papal consistory on Monday, a gathering they believed had been called for a trio of canonizations. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who was present, called the announcement ‘a bolt of lightning in a clear blue sky.’ But the pope’s brother, Georg Ratzinger, knew. He knew the exact date and even the time when Joseph, three years his junior, was going to announce his resignation…
“Center-left daily Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘… Only in his departure has Benedict broken the chains of tradition. Everywhere else, he left those chains alone, or even strengthened them… As a bridge builder, he was never able to reach the other side of the bridge. As such, the question remains at the end of his papacy: transition to what? Nobody knows…’
“Conservative daily Die Welt writes: ‘… One should… recognize that there are good reasons for strengthening the earthly institution of the church as an antipode to the current zeitgeist and its unavoidable relativization of values. One should understand why he cannot say yes to gay marriage and why he cannot embrace Protestantism. The church’s dilemma is simple: If it refuses to bend to the times, it will lose members; if it does bend, it will lose them anyway…’
“Center-right daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes: ‘… Benedict saw himself confronted with powers in the church that darkened the light of faith, dampened hope and perverted love. The long episode of sexual abuse fell over the papacy of Benedict XVI and over the entire church like a devilish shadow… In one facet, Benedict is similar to his predecessor Pope John Paul II. Both had their difficulties in dealing with the Roman Curia and with the machinations of the cardinals. John Paul II escaped by travelling the world, Benedict XVI retired to the world of his books…’
“Left-leaning daily Die Tageszeitung’s front page is largely blank on Tuesday, but for the words ‘Gott Sei Dank,’ or ‘Thank God.’ Below the fold is an editorial entitled ‘Even Worse than Expected.’ ‘It is good that this pope is gone, because nothing is good. Not in the Vatican and certainly not in the rest of the global church. During his eight-year papacy, Pope Benedict XVI managed to outdo even the worst fears harbored by Catholics in Germany. As God’s deputy, Benedict showed little interest in facing the numerous sexual abuse crimes within his own institution. Nor did he wish to confront the fascist organization Opus Dei. Whether the topic was women, homosexuals, rape or human rights, it is hard to be more reactionary than this pope proved to be. The papal visit to the home of Martin Luther also served to cement the schism and destroyed all hope for a long overdue rapprochement between the two large Christian churches. It would be a good thing if Pope Benedict XVI were the last of his kind…’”
But he won’t be. The next pope will continue in the traditions of his predecessor.
Tyranny in America?
On February 7, 2013, Newsmax reported:
“As a senator, Barack Obama decried George W. Bush’s use of presidential war powers to prosecute the war on terror. As president, Obama has embraced those powers and promoted the preemptive use of drones to target al-Qaida operatives. That’s the thrust of an editorial in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal that accuses the administration of ‘hypocrisy.’…
“The editorial comes after the leaking of a confidential 16-page Justice Department memo asserting that the U.S. can order the killing of American citizens it deems a threat. The ‘white paper’, obtained by NBC News, states that Americans and others can be targeted if they are believed to be ‘senior operational leaders’ of al-Qaida or ‘an associated force,’ even if there is no evidence that they are engaged in an active plot to attack American interests. Drone strikes in Yemen in September 2011 killed al-Qaida operatives Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, both American citizens ‘who had never been indicated by the U.S. government or charged with any crimes,’ NBC reported.
“The Justice Department memo states: ‘The condition that an operational leader present an “imminent” threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.’ Rather, it claims, an ‘informed, high-level’ American official may determine that the targeted American has been recently involved in activities posing a threat of violent attack and ‘there is no evidence suggesting that he has renounced or abandoned such activities.’…
“The editorial also comes two days after The New York Times reported that a clandestine U.S. drone base was built in Saudi Arabia to carry out strikes against al-Qaida operatives in neighboring Yemen. The Times and other news organizations say they knew about the base for some time but had not revealed its existence at the request of U.S. officials.”
These developments are indeed deeply disturbing and frightening, and it appears to be thoroughly unconstitutional to grant autocratic powers to an “‘informed, high-level’ American official” to order the assassination of suspected American citizens without charges, trials or conviction under the disguise of a “war” on terror. One can’t help but begin to draw comparisons with dictatorial leaderships, such as Egyptian President Morsi’s attempts to gain autocratic powers.
On February 8, 2013, Newsmax reported:
“Administration Documents providing legal coverage for drone strikes on Americans are just more of the ‘tyrannical’ ways the president is using his executive powers to run the government, warns Gen. Paul Vallely. The retired general… told Newsmax TV… that using drones is nothing new, but President Barack Obama’s authorization to use them against Americans is ‘what’s in question’…
“Vallely said he’s… concerned, as are many other Americans, that Obama has granted himself broader powers without consulting Congress through his use of executive orders and classified documents. ‘We have growing here a tyrannical form of government which is supposed to be a shared government with Congress, the White House, and the courts . . . They’re trying to consolidate power solely within the White House and the executive branch while at the same time diminishing the court’s input,’ he said. Vallely noted, however, that Congress in his view is ‘inept and weakened’ and therefore won’t shut off funding for the drone program despite ‘what we see happening.’”
The American People “rebelled” against the “tyranny” of the British King. Some warn that they will be “rebelling” soon against the “tyranny” of the American President.
The Dire Prospects of Drone Warfare
Der Spiegel wrote on February 8:
“Germany’s government recently announced plans to do a 180-degree policy shift by deploying armed drones in combat. It argues that remote-controlled killing machines are no different than any other weapons… Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière has spoken, and it’s apparently no big deal. ‘In ethical terms,’ he says, ‘a weapon should always be viewed neutrally’… Franz Josef Strauss… [ancient] predecessor at the Defense Ministry, said weapons aren’t evil, just their use — and even then only sometimes. That was in the 1950s, when Strauss was trying to equip the new Bundeswehr, Germany’s postwar military, with nuclear weapons.
“The Basic Law, as Germany’s constitution is called, allows Germans to cite reasons of [conscience] in refusing to take up arms for the country, thereby respecting their opposition to weapons on ethical grounds. In fact, the very first section of the constitution’s very first article says respecting ‘human dignity’ is ‘inviolable’ and elevates it to the status of the supreme ‘duty of all state authority.’
“The question is: Can a country with a constitution like Germany’s justify the acquisition of remote-controlled killing machines? The quick shooters among experts in the international laws on warfare aren’t at all troubled by the issue… However, pacifists aren’t the only ones warning about the killer machines… As long as they were part of an organized legal order of war, weapons were used in regrettably violent, yet still legitimate conflicts between those who held the state’s monopoly on the use of force… The war was thought about in terms of a battle between nations rather than a hunt for humans. Likewise, at the domestic level, having armed agents go after private individuals was viewed as a task solely reserved for the police…
“To the horror of international law experts, drawing such differences has been almost impossible ever since US President George W. Bush declared his ‘War on Terror’ just days after the 9/11 attacks. The hunt for terrorists is a hunt for individuals… In civilized countries that respect the human dignity of their opponents, criminals are detained before a trial rather than executed without one… The ‘new wars’… could very well usher in the demise of the political order of sovereign states that has been in place since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. But what could replace it? A global police state?…
“In all of this, one can also not exclude the possibility that one of de Maizière’s new killing machines will execute a suspected terrorist fighter right outside the defense minister’s own front door. Indeed, Germany’s highest court, the Federal Constitutional Court, has ruled that the Bundeswehr can also employ its weapons in German territory under exceptional circumstances entailing a worst-case scenario…”
The same discussion, which is being held in the USA, has reached Germany as well. Can a civilized government use drones to kill its own citizens in their own countries, who are merely suspected of illegal activities? And will a (global) police state be the inevitable result? A freaky and eerie memory of dictatorial regimes such as Stalin’s Russia or Hitler’s Nazi Germany seems to be raising its ugly head… See the next article.
Drones Under Attack—“Unconstitutional and Unethical Killings”
Deutsche Welle wrote on February 9:
“They can stay in the air for more than 24 hours – controlled remotely from the ground, and they fly where terrorists are suspected. In the past few days, the unmanned high-tech aircraft known as drones have been making headlines in the US, as well as in Europe. Almost daily, new aspects of remote-controlled killing are emerging in the debate. It has now become known that Saudi Arabia has housed a secret base for US drones for two years. Iran, meanwhile, has published aerial photographs that the country alleges came from a US drone. The Iranians say they intercepted the unmanned RQ-170 aircraft along the border with Afghanistan in December 2011.
“Because of the use of drones, John Brennan, President Obama’s closest counterterrorism adviser and nominee for head of the CIA, had to listen to harsh criticism from senators and vociferous protesters during his confirmation hearings. Above all, it is the number of innocent victims that critics object to. According to the independent Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London, about 3,000 people have been killed by drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004, including at least 470 civilians. The victims include American citizens, such as the radical Islamist Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in 2011 in an attack in Yemen. In 2010, a German citizen known solely as Bünyamin E. in press reports was killed by a US drone. He had traveled to a mountainous region in northwest Pakistan, an Islamist stronghold.
“People in Germany have voiced numerous ethical concerns over the use of drones. ‘If the decision over life and death is handed over to a computer, no one is responsible in the end for the people who are dying,’ said Niklas Schörnig, a peace researcher at the Hessian Foundation for Peace and Conflict Studies, in an interview with DW. In this way, Schörnig believes the officer who launches the drone, but does not fire the weapon, can distance himself from the act just as easily as the programmer.
“The use of drones with missiles is highly controversial under international law. From the American perspective, the country is in an armed conflict against Al-Qaeda, Schörnig said. The reasoning: Because Al Qaeda operates worldwide, it is necessary to take action globally against the terror network. But European international law rejects these arguments. ‘Such attacks happen in a legal vacuum,’ Wolfgang Neskovic told RBB public televison. Neskovic, a legal expert and independent member of the German parliament… said, ‘International law contains no legal basis for the killing of alleged terrorists outside a combat situation. In the case of Pakistan, for example, so far no western country has officially announced that it is a war zone or that this is an armed conflict within the meaning of international law.’ Neskovic added that the targeted killing of suspected terrorists is like ‘a death sentence without trial.’
“These accusations have gathered strength thanks to a new paper published by the US government. Television station NBC has already published a short form of the report, which shows how the rules for the killing of US citizens can be laid down. According to the document, it is sufficient if the government determines that the US citizen has been involved in relevant ‘activities.’ Schörnig is not surprised by that statement. On the one hand, the US government insists that it uses restraint when approaching the targeted killing of terrorists and has so-called kill lists, which the president must authorize personally. But, Schörnig adds, ‘If you look at the extent of drone attacks on suspected Al-Qaeda members in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, you can see that these were always much more extensive than the American rhetoric suggests.’
“Götz Neuneck, of the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg, is especially critical of the White House’s information policy, saying, ‘There is a lack of transparency in this sector. We do not really know anything. Who is now making what decision and on what basis?’… In addition, Schörnig adds, ‘There are studies that clearly show that the population at home considers this type of warfare unethical,’ Neuneck said. The drones are invisible and kill seemingly indiscriminately. In the regions where drones have flown over, that leads to trauma and terror.’”
Asteroid Close to Earth
On www.space.com, the following was reported on February 8:
“At 2:26 p.m. EST… on Feb. 15, the asteroid 2012 DA14 will fly within 17,200 miles (27,680 kilometers) of Earth. This is lower than the communications satellites that orbit 22,000 miles (35,800 km) above the equator. The asteroid will not hit the Earth on this orbital pass, but asteroid 2012 DA14 is about the size of the object that hit Siberia in 1908 (the ‘Tunguska Event’). The asteroid was discovered on Feb. 23, 2012… It is about half the size of a football field…
“The asteroid passes at a sharp angle to the path of the satellites… The asteroid’s current orbit is similar to the Earth’s, but tilted. Asteroid 2012 DA14 passes Earth twice per orbit, but February’s pass is the closest approach for many decades…”
The Atlantic Wire reported on February 7:
“In fact, the so-called DA14 asteroid will be such a close call that the force of Earth’s gravity will actually cause the asteroid to ricochet off those orbits, creating more distance between the asteroid and our planet… At 17,100 miles away, the DA14 will become the largest object ever (on record) to fly so close to Earth and not hit it. Which is really good news since it’s traveling eight times faster than a speeding bullet. Scientists say that it could take out a satellite or two, however…
“Although 17,100 miles is a lot of miles in terms of space distance, for an asteroid half the size of the International Space Station to zip by so closely is a little breath-taking… DA14’s projected path brings it just one-thirteenth the distance to the moon from Earth, less than seven roundtrip flights from New York to Los Angeles. If it hit us, the resultant explosion would have the force of a 2.5-megaton atomic bomb…
“This record breaking brush with cosmic inevitability is just a reminder that we’re sometimes on the wrong end of the galaxy’s shooting range and never completely safe from [a] world-ending event… as Yeomans put it, ‘There are lots of asteroids we are watching where we haven’t yet ruled out an Earth impact.’ But, thankfully, the one that will zip by on February 15 is not one of them. Not this time around anyways.”
Even though THIS asteroid will not hit the earth, the Bible predicts that in the future, other asteroids will.
Solar Super Storm Will Hit the Earth
The Independent wrote on February 8:
“A solar ‘superstorm’ could knock out Earth’s communications satellites, cause dangerous power surges in the national grid and disrupt crucial navigation aids and aircraft avionics, a major report has found. It is inevitable that an extreme solar storm – caused by the Sun ejecting billions of tonnes of highly-energetic matter travelling at a million miles an hour – will hit the Earth at some time in the near future, but it is impossible to predict more than about 30 minutes before it actually happens, a team of engineers has warned.
“Solar superstorms are estimated to occur once every 100 or 200 years, with the last one hitting the Earth in 1859. Although none has occurred in the space age, we are far more vulnerable now than a century ago because of the ubiquity of modern electronics, they said. ‘The general consensus is that a solar superstorm is inevitable, a matter not of “if” but “when?”’ says a report into extreme space weather by a group of experts at the Royal Academy of Engineering in London.
“In the past half century, there have been a number of ‘near misses’ when an explosive ‘coronal mass ejection’ of energetic matter from the Sun has been flung into space, narrowly bypassing the Earth. In 1989 a relatively minor solar storm knocked out several key electrical transformers in the Canadian national grid, causing major power blackouts. Similar solar storms significantly increased atmospheric radiation levels in 1956, 1972, 1989 and 2003, the experts found.”
The Bible predicts the occurrence of cosmic disturbances and heavenly signs prior to Christ’s soon-coming return.
Major Snowstorm Hits USA and Canada
BBC wrote on February 9:
“A major snowstorm has brought swathes of the north-eastern US and eastern Canada to a standstill, leaving about half a million homes without power. High winds and blizzard conditions have emptied the centre of Boston and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has banned all non-essential traffic. More than 600,000 homes and businesses are without power in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut… A nuclear power station in Massachusetts also lost power and was forced to shut down…
“Airlines cancelled more than 5,000 flights – including all those to and from the three major airports in New York City – and the train operator Amtrak has suspended nearly all services north of the city.
“Canadians on the Atlantic Coast are also bracing for blizzards after heavy snow fell on Ontario… Fuel shortages were being reported from Connecticut to New York City as motorists queued at petrol stations to fill up vehicles, generators and snow blowers.”
America Like Ancient Rome
Newsweek reported on February 8:
“World-renown pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson told conservative radio and television host Armstrong Williams on Friday that his attacks on the nation’s ills in his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast this week were not directed at President Barack Obama… [but they were] ‘directed at the situation that is going on in our nation and how we can solve it’…
“Opening his remarks with quotations from the Old Testament books of Proverbs and Second Chronicles, the neurosurgeon blasted the nation’s $16.4 trillion debt, its cumbersome tax system–and its ‘inefficient’ health care system.
“President Obama showed no reaction to Carson’s attacks, simply sitting stoically at the dais table. First Lady Michelle Obama also was in attendance. ‘Our deficit is a big problem,’ said Carson… ‘Sixteen-and-a-half trillion dollars. You think that’s not a lot of money? Count one number per second. You know how long it would take to count to 16 trillion? 507,000 years. More than half-a-million years to get there. What about our taxation system?… So complex, there is no one who can possibly comply with every jot and tittle of our tax system. If I wanted to get you, I can get you on a tax issue…’
“He then discussed the biblical principle of tithing. ‘God has given us a system. He didn’t say, “If [your] crops fail, don’t give me a tithe.” He didn’t say, “If you get a bumper crop, give me a triple-tithe.” So, there must be something inherently fair about proportionality. You make $10 billion, you put in a billion. You make $10, you put in $1… But some people say, “That’s not fair because it doesn’t hurt the guy who made $10 billion as much as the guy who made $10”–but where does it say that you have [to] hurt the guy? He just put a billion dollars in the pot. We don’t need to hurt him…’
“As for health care, he began, ‘We need to have good health care for everybody, but we have to figure out efficient ways to do it… When a person is born, give him a birth certificate, an electronic medical record, and a health savings account (HSA) to which money can be contributed — pretax — from the time you’re born ’til the time you die. When you die, you can pass it on to your family members… For the people who are indigent who don’t have any money, we can make contributions to their HSA each month because we already have this huge pot of money. Instead of sending it to some bureaucracy, let’s put it in their HSAs. Now, they have some control over their own health care.’
“In his interview with Williams on Friday, Carson said… likened the United States to the ancient Roman civilization. ‘The Roman Empire was very, very much like us,’ he told Williams. ‘They lost their moral core, their sense of values in terms of who they were. And after all of those things converged together, they just went right down the tubes very quickly. When you look at America, it’s not too hard to see great similarities. We’ve spread ourselves all over the place. We have incredible expenses. We don’t adjust–and, consequently, we expand the deficit and the debt and entitlement programs, and not living within our means and not adjusting programs and not adjusting people’s expectations. When it comes to wanting things, people don’t really care about the national debt… They don’t really care about the future; they just care about, “Give me my check so I can eat next week.”’”
Please read our recent member letter of January 11, 2013 , pointing out in much more detail the similarities between America and ancient Rome.
State of the Union
Deutsche Welle wrote on February 13:
“President Obama should have stuck to the adage that less is usually more. Instead of focusing on specific issues, the president presented a long domestic to-do list. Judging by that list, he has his work cut out for him, a sign that not all is well with the state of the union, contrary to his optimistic opening.
“Where to begin? Budget spending needs to be reined in, Medicare is in desperate need of reform, and tax loopholes need to be closed. America needs to create more jobs, especially in the industrial sector, while vocational training needs an overhaul and climate change must be combated. And the list goes on: the country’s decrepit infrastructure, immigration policy, election laws and gun laws.
“In a nutshell, we’ve heard it all before. There were few concrete proposals, although he did lay out his plans to increase the minimum wage to $9. He also gave Congress an ultimatum on climate change, saying he would resort to executive actions if lawmakers dragged their feet. But therein lies the problem. Republicans dominate the House of Representatives and are unlikely to show any willingness to compromise – apart from possibly on immigration reform. In his response to Obama’s speech, Florida’s Republican Senator Marco Rubio repeated the Republican mantra: less government is the panacea, and the president is the problem. That sounds like four more years of political stalemate.
“In terms of foreign policy, Obama made a few fleeting remarks. The withdrawal from Afghanistan will go ahead as planned. Some 34,000 troops are set to come home by early next year. The president stressed that any future US military intervention would be a last resort, applicable also to the fight against al Qaeda. The world, he said, should no longer rely on the US to pull the chestnuts out of the fire.
“Ahead of his Israel trip next month, Obama reiterated his support, an obligatory statement to avoid any type of criticism. There were brief admonitions for North Korea and Iran, and reassurances that the administration’s controversial drone program was, is and would continue to stand on a sound legal footing. He also pledged to work together with Russia to further reduce the two countries’ nuclear arsenals. There was good news for Europe with Obama’s announcement to intensify talks about a trans-Atlantic trade pact, notwithstanding the fact that his agenda is driven by domestic interests, namely creating more American jobs… his window of opportunity is closing. Congressional elections are coming up in two years… his to-do list can be seen as a legacy for his successor – and as a sobering analysis of America’s status quo.”
America is in BIG trouble.
Findus Beef Lasagna up to 100% Horsemeat
On February 8, 2013, sky.com reported:
“Tests on Findus beef lasagne have revealed that some of the ready meals were made entirely from horsemeat. Findus analysed 18 of its beef lasagne products and found 11 meals contained between 60% and 100% horsemeat, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said… All food companies have been told to test their beef products, with the FSA saying it was ‘highly likely’ that criminal activity was to blame for the contamination.
“Consumers who have purchased the ready meals – produced by French food supplier Comigel on behalf of Findus – have been advised by the FSA not to eat them and return them to the shop they were bought from. Retail giant Tesco and discount chain Aldi have already withdrawn a range of ready meals produced by Comigel over fears they contained contaminated meat.
“Findus UK has already started a full recall of its lasagne products. It withdrew its 320g, 360g and 500g lasagne meals from supermarket shelves as a precautionary measure earlier this week. It came after Comigel alerted Findus and Aldi that their products ‘do not conform to specification’. It advised them to remove Findus beef lasagne and Aldi’s Today’s Special frozen beef lasagne and Today’s Special frozen spaghetti Bolognese… Tesco also decided to withdraw its Everyday Value spaghetti bolognese, which is produced at the same Comigel site.”
The Sun wrote on February 8:
“Downing Street described the latest incident as ‘distasteful’ but stressed there was no evidence of a health risk and urged consumers to follow the FSA advice… Findus last night admitted it had no idea how LONG the products had been on sale or how MANY families had bought them… The findings — which raised the spectre of human food being contaminated with vets’ drugs — are a major humiliation for the Government…
“Red-faced officials at the Food Standards Agency have urged families who bought the ready meals to take them back to shops unopened. And they ordered Findus to check whether the lasagne contained phenylbutazone — an animal painkiller linked to harmful effects, including potentially causing cancer, in humans.”
Breitbart wrote on February 8:
“Findus, a frozen foods manufacturer, has acknowledged that the frozen lasagna it offers has been using 100 percent horsemeat—and it all comes from France. The French company Comigel pounded the horsemeat into the lasagna in its plant in Metz.
“Great Britain’s Food Safety Agency (FSA) is checking all beef products on the shelves to look for horsemeat, which is banned in Britain but widely eaten in France. Meanwhile, Findus told stores to remove all three sizes of its beef lasagna from stores… Horsemeat can contain the veterinary drug phenylbutazone, which was banned when research showed one person in 30,000 could have serious side effects to it.
“The Labour Party’s Shadow Food and Farming Secretary, Mary Creagh, was furious with the British government, saying: ‘People do not feel they can trust what it says on the label. The Government’s handling of this has been appalling. Unless they come out on the front foot and show leadership, we won’t have a meat processing industry left.’”
CNN reported on February 11:
“High-stakes lawsuits, overlapping investigations and a bitter battle over blame are spreading across Europe in the wake of a scandal that has rocked the meat industry.
Horse meat was discovered in products that are supposed to be 100% beef, sold in Sweden, the United Kingdom and France. On Sunday, a major company under scrutiny called one of its suppliers a ‘villain’ responsible for the fraud. The supplier, in turn, insisted it was ‘fooled’ by a subsupplier… the discovery was a new shock to an industry already reeling from a bombshell last month when Irish investigators found horse and pig DNA in numerous hamburger products.
“Swedish food producer Findus has been a focus of the uproar… Findus is only one of several companies that receive products from Comigel. Others include Axfood, Coop and ICA, which have recalled some meat products in Sweden, and Aldi, which has pulled some products from shelves in Britain. Six big French retailers — Auchan, Casino, Carrefour, Cora, Picard and Monoprix — said Sunday that they were recalling lasagne and other products… While Findus has begun legal action in Sweden, Findus France previously said it will file a legal complaint Monday against a Romanian business that is part of the supply chain… Aldi said tests on random samples demonstrated that the withdrawn products contained between 30% and 100% horse meat.
“The revelations have revolted many meat eaters in the United Kingdom, where horse meat is generally considered taboo, although it is commonly eaten in neighboring France, as well as countries including China, Russia, Kazakhstan and Italy. The discovery of pig DNA in beef products is of particular concern to Jews and Muslims, whose dietary laws forbid the consumption of pork products. Jewish dietary laws also ban the eating of horse meat. The UK Justice Ministry confirmed last week that a number of meat pies and similar items supplied to prisons in England and Wales were labeled and served as halal — prepared in compliance with Islamic dietary law — but contained traces of pork DNA…
“Horse meat is not commonly eaten in the United States, but the country does export it to Canada and Mexico. Congress passed a bill in November 2011 that lifted a 5-year-old ban on the slaughter of horses for meat in the United States.”
The Local added on February 11:
“British watchdog the Food Safety Association said that there could be a chance of horse meat in ready-made products on sale in Germany as experts found it in food on sale in UK branches of German supermarket chain Aldi.”
Der Spiegel Online and Bild Online speculated on February 8 and 9 that Findus’ contaminated “beef” products were also sold in other European countries, including Germany. The Bible prohibits the human consumption of horsemeat, as it poses a health risk, regardless of uninformed statements by medical “experts” such as the FSA.
“Horse Meat Scandal Gallops On”
Deutsche Welle wrote on February 13:
“No one knows the actual magnitude of the current horsemeat scandal at this point, nor who is responsible… Greenpeace spokesman Jürgen Knirsch said the horsemeat scandal shows how insufficient the labeling of food is in Germany. The supply chain is obscure, he told DW… Germany has many horse lovers and eating horse meat is simply taboo…”
The Local wrote on February 13:
“The Consumer Protection Ministry in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) said that a Luxembourgian distributor has been delivering products thought to contain horse meat ‘on a large scale across Germany and NRW.’ Deliveries had been made between November 2012 and January 2013, not only to a wide range of supermarkets but also to other food production companies.”
The Daily Star wrote on February 13:
“HORSES killed at a British slaughterhouse were turned into doner kebabs, it was alleged last night. Officials from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) raided two UK meat plants yesterday. They were probing whether either plant was linked to 100% horse kebabs and burgers that have been discovered. It comes amid fears that old racehorses, even pet ponies, may have ended up in fast food restaurants across Britain as kebabs as well as beefburgers. The raids took place at the Peter Boddy slaughterhouse in Todmorden, West Yorks, which allegedly supplied horse carcasses to Farmbox Meats in Aberystwyth, Wales.”
Egypt’s Hard-Line Muslim Clerics
The Globe and Mail wrote on February 7:
“One hard-line Muslim cleric on an Egyptian TV station justified sexual assaults on women protesters. Others issued religious edicts saying opposition leaders must be killed. Television screeds by ultraconservative sheiks are raising fears of assassinations here a day after a top anti-Islamist politician was gunned down in Tunisia… The office of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and his prime minister denounced the edicts and the top prosecutor began an investigation into one of the clerics.
“The TV screeds by the clerics reflect the fury with which some ultraconservatives have reacted to nationwide protests against Mr. Morsi, which turned into deadly clashes as police cracked down on the demonstrators… Egyptians saw a series of assassinations of top statesmen and writers after religious edicts were issued against them back in 1990s during a bloody Islamic extremist insurgency.”
When Islamists come to power and pronounce evil things, the people suffer and hide (compare Proverbs 28:12, 15-16, 28; 29:2; 11:11).
The Washington Post wrote on February 8:
“In an echo of the Arab Spring protests that have overturned regimes elsewhere in the region, angry residents have been staging weekly demonstrations against the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, calling, among a host of other demands, for him to step down and for Iraq’s U.S.-brokered constitution to be replaced. The Friday protests have also drawn huge crowds in towns and cities elsewhere across the Sunni provinces, as the passions of the Arab Spring collide with the bitter legacy of the Iraq war.
“The demonstrations first erupted in December in response to the detention of the bodyguards of a Sunni minister in Maliki’s coalition government, which reinforced widespread Sunni perceptions that the premier is intent on eliminating his Sunni political rivals. But the protests have evolved into a far deeper expression of the many grievances left unresolved when U.S. forces withdrew a little over a year ago, ranging from abuses committed disproportionately against Sunnis by the Iraqi security forces to what Sunnis perceive to be an unequal distribution of power among the sects.
“With their huge turnouts, these largely peaceful protests have the potential to present a far bigger challenge to Maliki’s hold on power than the violent and stubbornly persistent insurgency, which continues to claim scores of lives every month without any discernible impact on the political process. At a time when civil war is raging in neighboring Syria the demonstrations also risk becoming embroiled in the wider regional conflict already spilling beyond Syria’s borders…
“The Islamic State of Iraq, the umbrella extremist group affiliated with al-Qaeda, is seeking to exploit the heightened tensions. In a statement last week, it called on Sunni protesters to take up arms against the Shiite government. The group has intensified the pace of its attacks in recent weeks, targeting Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis in what looks like an attempt to capitalize on the heightened tensions and reignite the sectarian war that engulfed the country from 2006 to 2007. In the most recent attack Friday, at least 36 people died in bombings against Shiite marketplaces and a taxi stand in Baghdad, Karbala and Hilla.”
The “Arab Spring”—a wrong term for a disastrous movement—will continue to spread with devastating consequences for Western nations, especially the USA.
“Flaws Found in US Missile Shield against Iran”
The Times of Israel and The Associated Press reported on February 9:
“Secret US Defense Department studies cast doubt on whether a multibillion-dollar missile defense system planned for Europe will ever be able to protect the US from Iranian missiles as intended, congressional investigators said Friday… proposed fixes could be difficult. One possibility has already been ruled out as technically unfeasible. Another, relocating missile interceptors planned for Poland and possibly Romania to ships on the North Sea, could be diplomatically explosive.
“The studies are the latest to highlight serious problems for a plan that has been criticized on several fronts. Republicans claim it was hastily drawn up in an attempt to appease Russia, which had opposed an earlier system. But Russia is also critical of the plan, which it believes is really intended to counter its missiles. A series of governmental and scientific reports has cast doubt on whether it would ever work as planned.
“At a time that the military faces giant budget cuts, the studies could prompt Congress to reconsider whether it is worthwhile to spend billions for a system that may not fulfill its original goals… The military has considered deploying interceptors on ships, but the Navy has safety concerns that have not yet been resolved. The suggestion of attempting intercepts from ships on the North Sea would likely aggravate tensions with Russia. That could put it right in the path that some Russian ICBMs would use, further reinforcing Russia’s belief that it, not Iran, is the target of the system…”
It seems that America’s problems are mounting and increasing continuously…
Worldwide Condemnation of North Korean Nuclear Test
Deutsche Welle reported on February 12:
“North Korea has confirmed that it has conducted a third nuclear test after monitoring agencies detected an ‘explosion-like’ quake. The test, which defied United Nations sanctions, has prompted international condemnation… The isolated country is banned under United Nations Security Council resolutions from developing nuclear and missile technology following previous tests in 2006 and 2009. Following Tuesday’s test, South Korea’s mission to the UN called an emergency Security Council meeting to be held in New York later in the day. South Korea holds the presidency of the 15-nation council this month.
“The European Union’s foreign policy coordinator, Catherine Ashton condemned the test… German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle condemned the test ‘in the strongest possible terms,’ a statement released by Westerwelle’s office said. ‘Further sanctions against the regime in Pyongyang should now be considered.’ UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the nuclear test as ‘deplorable’… Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the test must not be tolerated. US President Barack Obama described North Korea’s nuclear test as a ‘highly provocative act.’ ‘The danger posed by North Korea’s threatening activities warrants further swift and credible action by the international community. The United States will also continue to take steps necessary to defend ourselves and our allies,’ a White House statement said. North Korea’s communist neighbor and closest ally, China, expressed ‘firm opposition’ to the nuclear test.’”
Merkel Leads Europe… but the Opposition Grows…
The Local wrote on February 8:
“German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday successfully convinced EU leaders to cut the bloc’s budget for the first time in its six-decade history, following marathon talks in Brussels… Negotiating for nearly 26 hours with little break, Merkel, backed by British Prime Minister David Cameron, led a sustained push for the EU budget for 2014-2020 to share in the austerity national governments are facing. The tentative agreement would trim spending by three percent over the rest of the decade…
“France, along with Italy, fought to protect spending it sees as essential to boost growth and jobs at a time of record unemployment, but indications early Friday were that Paris could live with the deal. ‘It is not a fantastic compromise deal but it is acceptable,’ said a French diplomatic source…
“But there is another important hurdle still to clear – the European Parliament must approve the deal and lawmakers have already made clear they are in no mood for more austerity. Parliament head Martin Schulz said bluntly on Thursday that he and the assembly would not accept a budget which would compromise EU programmes and undercut its future. ‘That’s called a deficit. I won’t sign a deficit budget anymore,’ he said.”
Unification of Europe under ten core nations is prophesied. Even though constituting a mighty military power bloc, these nations will still attempt to gain individual political advantages and pursue their own goals, as iron does not really mix with clay (Daniel 2:40-43).