Current Events

Meteors and Asteroids a Real Danger for Planet Earth

NBC News reported on February 16:

“Scientists have raised their estimates of the size and power of what turns out to be the most widely witnessed asteroid strike in modern history. The size estimate puts the object that caused Friday’s meteor blast over Russia in a troublesome category of asteroids: big enough to cause damage, but small enough to evade detection.

“The new estimates, based on additional readings from a sensor network built to detect nuclear blasts, suggest the meteor released the energy equivalent of nearly 500 kilotons of TNT. That’s about 30 times the power of the Hiroshima atomic bomb. NASA now says the Chelyabinsk object must have been about 55 feet wide (17 meters wide) with a mass of 10,000 tons before it entered Earth’s atmosphere… The space agency said Friday’s Russian meteor was the largest reported since 1908, when an asteroid roughly the size of 2012 DA14 exploded over a remote wooded areas [sic] in Siberia’s Tunguska region. That blast flattened millions of trees over a 820-square-mile area, but was not widely seen. Friday’s event, in contrast, took place over a city of 1.1 million inhabitants, and hundreds of millions more watched the videos that were distributed over the Internet.

“As powerful as the meteor blast was, it’s on the low end of the asteroid impact scale. Astronomers estimate that there are about a million potentially hazardous near-Earth objects smaller than 100 meters (330 feet) in width, and only about 1 percent of those have been cataloged…”

Fox News wrote on February 15:

“On the same day that the world’s scientists were polishing their telescopes in anticipation of asteroid 2012 DA124, a meteor broke apart over the Ural Mountains in Russia and rained down fire and debris — reportedly injuring nearly 1,000 people. So why didn’t they see this one coming?

“Apparently, size matters… The Russian meteor — estimated to be just 10 tons and about 15 meters or 49 feet wide — entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a hypersonic speed of at least 33,000 mph and shattered about 18-32 miles above the ground. It released the energy of several [hundred] kilotons above the Chelyabinsk region.

“That’s relatively small compared with asteroid 2012 DA14, which will make the closest recorded pass of an asteroid to the Earth — about 17,150 miles — later today. And while NASA’s Near Earth Object Program and other skywatchers track thousands of larger asteroids like it, the countless smaller ones in the heavens are virtually impossible to locate. ‘This thing is probably pretty small compared to DA14,’ explained K.T. Ramesh, professor of science and engineering at Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering and founding director of Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute. ‘If you think about objects the size of the one that came into Russia, you’re probably looking at 100 million up there. Of those likely to intersect Earth, there’s less, maybe 100,000,’ Ramesh told…”

BBC News reported on February 15:

“An object of similar size to 2012 DA14 carved out the magnificent 1.2km-wide depression known as Meteor Crater in Arizona. This object was metallic – composed of iron and nickel – ensuring that it reached the ground relatively intact… The impact implicated in killing off the dinosaurs… was probably caused by an object some 10-15km wide. The space rock hurtled through our atmosphere, striking Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. Scientists estimate that the explosive energy released by the impact was equivalent to 100 trillion tonnes of TNT – billions of times more explosive than the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

“The huge crater that remains from the event is some 180km in diameter and surrounded by a circular fault about 240km in diameter… Initially, the Chicxulub impact triggered large-scale fires, huge earthquakes, and continental landslides which generated tsunamis. Then the hot rock and gas blasted at high velocity into the atmosphere shrouded the planet in darkness. There is evidence for considerable cooling following the asteroid strike; this ‘impact winter’ could have lasted up to 10 years. An object of this size hitting Earth today could potentially wipe out civilisation.”

Please see our new broadcast on YouTube, titled, “The Stars Are Falling.”

President Obama Speaks Out

Breitbart reported on February 17:

“During a Google+ Hangout responding to a question about immigration, President Barack Obama made a stunning remark: ‘This is something I’ve struggled with throughout my presidency,’ said Obama. ‘The problem is that I’m the president of the United States, I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed.’”

The problem is that he is not an emperor? Or, that he is the President?

Drone Warfare

The Washington Times published the following editorial by Sen. Rand Paul:

“The recent leak of a Department of Justice white paper on the legal justification for the use of drones to execute American citizens abroad accused of terrorism raises some very important constitutional and moral issues. Politicians should not decide the crime and the punishment for American citizens here or abroad. A trial by jury with a judge is a right to be prized by American citizens… Mr. Obama tells us that an ‘imminent threat’ need not be ‘immediate’… my opposition to his drone killing is an opposition to any politician, Republican or Democrat, becoming an imperial executioner-in-chief. No politician should ever be granted that power…

“Why can we not just kill Americans who dissent? For one, because our government has already shown recklessness in defining who is a terrorist. Fusion centers in Missouri defined pro-life and pro-border-security hawks as potential terrorists. The Department of Justice produced a list of characteristics of terrorists that we should report to the government: people missing fingers; people who’ve changed the color of their hair; people who like to pay in cash; people who have more than seven days of food; and people who buy weatherized ammunition.

“Mr. Obama’s pick for drone-killer-in-chief, John O. Brennan, says the 2001 authorization for military force after Sept. 11 authorizes him to kill American citizens, and it ‘does not contain a geographical limitation’…”

The Washington Times reported on February 18:

“House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the White House doesn’t necessarily have to confess to killing American citizens by unarmed drones. It all depends on the situation, she said in reply to a Huffington Post reporter who asked if President Obama’s administration should acknowledge when it targets a U.S. citizen in a drone strike…

“At least one Republican House colleague is outraged. ‘Anytime the government willfully executes a citizen, regardless of the circumstances, it is a very serious issue,’ said Rep. Mike Lee, from Utah, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee… ‘As the body that oversees executive branch actions, at the very least, Congress should have a full accounting — even if it must sometimes be in a classified setting — of the specific considerations that went into the decision.’ Mrs. Pelosi said her views would be the same even if a Republican held the White House.”

Please view our new StandingWatch program, titled, “Tyranny in the USA?”

Will Drones Destroy Our Remaining Privacy?

The Sydney Morning Herald wrote on February 17:

“…drones that can record video footage are being sold in large retail stores, alarming privacy experts who say they could be used to spy on people. The drones sell for as little as $350, making them increasingly popular with the general public, and worrying those who believe the technology has the potential to be a peeping Tom in the sky. Associate Professor Kevin Heller from the Melbourne Law School says the idea that private citizens can buy drones and record footage directly onto smartphones had serious privacy implications.

“He said that while ‘not everybody who buys these drones is a closet criminal … there are infinite mischievous possibilities’… Victoria Police is also concerned that drones could be used unlawfully… Police departments throughout the US are already using aerial drones for surveillance purposes.”

Power Struggle in the Catholic Church

Der Spiegel Online wrote on February 18:

“A shift is taking place in the otherwise immovable Catholic Church. A global struggle has begun over the prerogative of interpretation, opportunities, legacy and positions — a silent battle for Rome. The ultimate effects of the pope’s resignation are thus far impossible to predict…

“In the modern age, a pope has never resigned from the office, one that some believe is the most important on earth. There hasn’t been an ex-pontiff since the last years of the Schism, after Gregory XII and the Avignon pope agreed to resign to reunite the church. That was the last time that an ex-pope spent the rest of his days strolling around the Vatican gardens as nothing but a simple brother. Never before has the decision of a single pope presented such a challenge to the Catholic Church as this one. Zero hour has begun at the Vatican. The pope’s resignation was certainly ‘great’ within Dante’s meaning. But it was not made through cowardice. On the contrary, it was probably the most courageous step in a long-drifting papacy marred by scandals and misunderstandings. With his revolt against tradition and the church machinery, Benedict XVI may have brought more change to the church than he did in the seven years and 10 months of his papal reign…

“Vatican correspondents agree that there will be a battle for control. The focus is already on holding on to power, the threat that heads will roll and on the web of relationships within the curia after Ratzinger’s departure… There is a saying in secular Rome: ‘morto un papa se ne fa un altro’, or ’if a pope dies, one simply makes another one.’ But it isn’t that easy this time. The pope is still alive and the curia is divided, which makes everything so difficult to predict… Joseph Ratzinger, Bishop of Rome emeritus, will not be present at the conclave. He is five years too old for that. For days, papal spokesman Federico Lombardi has denied that the soon-to-be-ex-pope could nevertheless influence the conclave’s decision, saying that Benedict is too modest. But no one believes Lombardi.

“Every word Benedict will utter in the coming days will be carefully analyzed and possibly even interpreted as a message to the conclave. This was already evident at the Ash Wednesday mass, at which Benedict spoke of ‘religious hypocrisy,’ of ‘individuals and rivalries’ and of ‘sins against the unity of the church and divisions in the body of the church.’ All of this is unambiguous criticism, a settling of accounts, as well as an allusion to the conclave and a preview of what could come in the next few weeks.

“Benedict is giving up power and, at the same time, is accusing his underlings of being obsessed with power, and of clinging to power and of thus being unable to follow their hearts, as he has done. A comparably explosive constellation hasn’t been seen at the Vatican in a long time…

“Benedict has been careful to point out that he intends to ‘hide from the world.’ Nevertheless, he will be a source of conflict for as long as he lives… ‘Benedict threatens to become a shadow pope,’ says Swiss theologian Hans Küng. One cannot simply stop being pope, says Benedict biographer Andreas Englisch. ‘In the worst case, a part of the church would split off, perhaps because Ratzinger believed that his successor was doing great harm to the church’…

“What it’s seeking is a miracle. The Vaticanisti agree that, given this job description, none of the six German cardinals (Paul Josef Cordes, Walter Kasper, Karl Lehmann, Reinhard Marx, Joachim Meisner, Rainer Maria Woelki) is a possibility. If the new pope is to be a European, he will most likely be an Italian. After almost 35 years of foreign rule, first by a Pole and then by a German, an Italian pontiff would certainly be desirable. The problem is that the Italians in the curia are divided, into both territorial groups and theological factions… The Latin Americans, among others, have great expectations… Africa too is hoping for a change of course… ‘… let’s hope it’s not an African!’ Stefan Hippler, a foreign priest in South Africa, said in April 2005 before the white smoke rose from the Sistine Chapel marking the beginning of Benedict’s papacy. The ultra-conservative Cardinal Francis Arinze from Nigeria, now 80, was among the favorites at the time.

“This time around, though, Hippler would consider 64-year-old Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson a good choice. The Ghanaian, already dubbed the ‘Obama of the Vatican,’ is multilingual and has been a member of the Roman curia for more than three years. He is also ranked highly on gambling sites. Turkson is relatively young and open-minded on social issues. He represents positions of Liberation Theology and advocates a cautious correction of course on the issue of condoms. A 63-year-old Brazilian with ancestors from the German state of Saarland, Odilo Pedro Scherer, is also on the list of likely possibles, as is French-Canadian Marc Ouellet, a close friend of Ratzinger who could garner the votes of North and South Americans, thereby bridging the old and new worlds.

“New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, 63, a representative of the wealthy US church, is also frequently mentioned as a possible candidate. And then there is another candidate, the ‘Wojtyla from the Far East,’ Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila in the Philippines. He is said to possess the brain of a theologian and the heart of a shepherd, as well as being more charismatic than most in the College of Cardinals. But at 55, he is also the second youngest in the College of Cardinals, practically a baby by Vatican standards…

“The next pope could be a black man, an African. He could be a charismatic South American or an Italian apparatchik or a reformist European. He could be someone who continues Ratzinger’s course or someone who takes advantage of zero hour…”

Ratzinger—A Future Shadow Pope?

Der Spiegel Online wrote on February 18:

“Progressive Catholic theologian Hans Küng, whose authority to teach Catholic theology was rescinded by the Vatican in 1979, spoke to SPIEGEL about the challenges facing the next pope and the need for reform of the Catholic Church… ‘Benedict XVI could turn into a shadow pope who has stepped down but can still exert indirect influence. He has already assigned himself a place within the Vatican.

“‘He is keeping his secretary, who will also remain prefect of the papal household under the new pope. This is a new form of nepotism, and one that isn’t appreciated in the Vatican either. No priest likes to have his predecessor looking over his shoulder. Even the bishop of Rome doesn’t find it pleasant to have his predecessor constantly keeping an eye on him.”

Please see our StandingWatch program, “Peter of Rome—The Last Black Pope?” 

China’s Problems and the Return to Marx and Lenin

The Wall Street Journal wrote on February 6:

“Karl Marx would be pleased. After decades of ‘from each according to their ability,’ China’s rulers are promising a bit of ‘to each according to their need.’ A wide-ranging plan to address income inequality, endorsed by China’s State Council on Tuesday, is meant to head off social unrest by closing the gap between rich and poor. It should also help get China’s economy on an even keel, with more equal income distribution fostering higher levels of consumption…

“Not everyone will be pleased by the plans. Liberalizing interest rates—and restricting fees—will erode profits at the banks. Higher wages will impose costs on manufacturers and exporters already struggling with razor thin margins. The luxury sector could suffer from a crackdown on corruption and more taxes on high-end goods and services. The winners are firms that can sell into the broad, shallow markets of China’s emerging middle class…

“Making progress, though, won’t be easy. Beijing will have to swallow lower growth… Look out for the return of Marx to China’s markets.”

The New York Times added on February 14:

“When China’s new leader, Xi Jinping, visited the country’s south to promote himself before the public as an audacious reformer following in the footsteps of Deng Xiaoping, he had another message to deliver to Communist Party officials behind closed doors. Despite decades of heady economic growth, Mr. Xi told party insiders… China must still heed the ‘deeply profound’  lessons of the former Soviet Union, where political rot, ideological heresy and military disloyalty brought down the governing party… he demanded a return to traditional Leninist discipline… He has also repeatedly demanded that the military show unflinching loyalty — a principle that, in his view, the Soviet Communist Party under Mikhail S. Gorbachev fatally failed to uphold.’”

North Korea Threatens Final Destruction of South Korea

Reuters reported on February 19:

“North Korea threatened South Korea with ‘final destruction’ during a debate at the U.N Conference on Disarmament on Tuesday, saying it could take ‘second and third steps’ after a nuclear test last week… ‘If the U.S. takes a hostile approach toward the DPRK to the last, rendering the situation complicated, it (North Korea) will be left with no option but to take the second and third stronger steps in succession,’ [North Korean diplomat Jon Yong Ryong said]. His comments drew immediate criticism from other nations, including South Korea and Britain… U.S. Ambassador Laura Kennedy said she found North Korea’s statement profoundly disturbing.”

Does President Obama Support President Assad of Syria?

Deutsche Welle wrote on February 19:

“Syrian activists say that the conflict raging in their country is not a ‘civil war’ at all – it’s a massacre perpetrated by the government on its own people. The United Nations high commissioner for human rights Navi Pillay this month put the latest death toll for the two-year conflict at ‘approaching 70,000’ – but the relentless reports of atrocities in Aleppo and the suburbs of Damascus have done nothing to move western governments to intervene in the conflict…

“For the Syrian activists abroad, this lack of action equals support for President Bashar Assad’s brutal regime… Just what is preventing the West’s intervention in the Syrian conflict? In last two weeks, it has become clear that one significant obstacle is US President Barack Obama…”

EU Dispatches Military Training Mission to Mali

Deutsche Welle reported on February 19:

“The German cabinet has given the green light for German military instructors to begin the training of the Malian army. Germany’s armed forces are to provide logistical support, but will not be deployed in combat…

“The Malian army is poorly trained and equipped, which is why the European Union has decided to dispatch a military training mission. More than a dozen EU countries will be taking part in this mission which is due to start in the next few weeks… German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle says Mali’s security is crucial for Europe…”

The Future of Nuclear Weapons

Deutsche Welle wrote on February 19:

“Just hours after US President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address last week, in which he announced a new push to convince Russia to jointly reduce their respective nuclear arsenals, North Korea went ahead with its third nuclear test. Iran, meanwhile, is suspected of working on its own ‘bomb,’ despite international efforts to contain the program, while Pakistan, a highly unstable country, already has an atomic weapon…

“A world without nuclear weapons appears to be a distant dream. Is there any chance to achieve a nuclear-free world…?

“In addition to the recognized nuclear powers – USA, Russia, Britain, France and China – at least India, Pakistan and North Korea also have the bomb. Israel is believed to possess nuclear weapons, but this has never been officially confirmed by the government. All four of these countries have not signed the NPT and are not likely to join any international effort at global disarmament…

“In the case of Pakistan and India, these two adversarial nuclear powers are right next door to one another. A resolution of their long-standing regional conflict, not to mention nuclear disarmament, will only ever be achieved through bilateral negotiations. North Korea is also not interested in disarmament…  An Iranian atomic bomb would seriously disrupt the balance of power in the entire region… The road to a nuclear-free world… is a long way off.”

And with it the hope for world peace. Only the return of Jesus Christ will accomplish both.

Berlusconi—a Real Danger for Italy and the EU

Der Spiegel Online wrote on February 19:

“It was German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble who allegedly fired the first shot. In an interview with the Italian newsmagazine l’Espresso late last week, Schäuble warned Italians against voting for Silvio Berlusconi in general elections scheduled for Feb. 24 and 25… ‘my advice to the Italians is not to make the same mistake again by re-electing him.’ A Finance Ministry spokesman was quick to deny that Schäuble had said such a thing. But this week, given Berlusconi’s seemingly inexorable climb toward the top of Italian public opinion polls, two more top German politicians have warned against re-electing a man who many see as being partially responsible for the economic troubles facing the country.

“‘We are of course not a party in the Italian campaign,’ German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told the center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung in comments printed on Tuesday. ‘But whoever ends up forming the next government, we are emphatic that (Rome’s) pro-European path and necessary reforms are continued.’ Given Berlusconi’s fiscally irresponsible campaign promises combined with his anti-European rhetoric, it isn’t difficult to guess who Westerwelle’s verbal darts were aimed at. But just to be sure the message was clear, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in German parliament, Ruprecht Polenz, also spoke up. Polenz, a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, said: ‘Italy needs political leaders who stand for the future. Berlusconi is certainly not one of them.’…

“The anxiety apparent in the comments is the result of Berlusconi’s astounding rise from political afterthought last autumn to a genuine threat to win a fourth term as Italian prime minister… A Berlusconi victory, many fear, could result in an immediate rise in Italian borrowing costs and a return to the critical situation in which Rome found itself in late 2011, when Berlusconi was essentially forced to step down in favor of the technocratic government led by outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti… One Italian bank even went so far this week as to issue a report arguing that a Berlusconi election would almost certainly force the country to apply for emergency bailout aid from the EU…

“And Chancellor Merkel? She has so far remained silent on the Italian campaign. But her antipathy for Berlusconi is not something she goes out of her way to hide… Just this week, Berlusconi called Merkel an ‘Eastern bureaucrat,’ a reference to her having grown up in communist East Germany. That, of course, can be regarded as a compliment in comparison with some of the things he has said about the German leader in the past.”

How anyone could vote for Berlusconi is beyond comprehension. But especially in Italy, the land of Benito Mussolini, strange things do happen.

Koran—Wrong Again on Horsemeat

The Local reported on February 19:

“The Berliner Zeitung daily reported on Monday that traces of horse and pork had been found in kebabs in Berlin [and] in Leipzig. Normally made from lamb, döner sandwiches with pork would be outrage for Germany’s Muslim and Jewish communities. Horse is also not considered kosher, although it can be halal according to Islam… Traces of horsemeat were detected in processed meals sold in a number of German supermarket chains last week. Horse has also been discovered in beef tortellini manufactured in Germany by a Liechtenstein-based group, Hilcona, and sold by budget retailer Lidl.”

The Bible prohibits the consumption of horsemeat. It is “unclean” and can’t be made clean. The Koran does apparently teach that horsemeat is “halal” or permissible.

As one Website informs us, “In Arabic, the word halal means permitted or lawful. Halal foods are foods that are allowed under Islamic dietary guidelines. According to these guidelines gathered from the Qu’ran, Muslim followers cannot consume the following: pork or pork by products; animals that were dead prior to slaughtering; animals not slaughtered properly or not slaughtered in the name of Allah; blood and blood by products.”

As one can see, these dietary laws are a mixture of right and wrong. Only the true God of the Bible tells us with authority what animal meat is good for food, and in a conflict, we are to obey God and not human beings.

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