Current Events

False and Damaging Reports about the Vatican?

Newsmax and Reuters reported on February 23:

“The Vatican on Saturday accused the Italian media of spreading ‘false and damaging’ reports in what it condemned as a deplorable attempt to influence cardinals who will meet in a secret conclave next month to elect a new pope. Since Pope Benedict announced his resignation on Feb. 11, Italian newspapers have been full of rumors about conspiracies, secret reports and lobbies in the Vatican that they say pushed the pope to abdicate, including a rumor that involved a shadowy ‘gay lobby’ within the Vatican…

“The Italian reports have painted an unflattering picture of the Vatican’s central administration, known as the Curia, depicting it as being full of prelates more concerned with their careers than serving the Church or the pope. Some Church officials, speaking privately, have said foreign cardinals coming to Rome to choose the next pope have been alarmed over reports of corruption and might be inclined to elect someone not connected with the Curia, which is predominantly Italian.”

The German mass tabloid Bild has been running a series on previous horrible scandals in the Vatican and the terrible history of certain corrupt popes in the past.

… While the Lord Was Sleeping?

The Telegraph reported on February 27:

“A day before he becomes the first pontiff to resign in nearly 600 years, Benedict acknowledged that his papacy had been rocked by ‘rough seas’, in an oblique reference to paedophile priest sex scandals, controversy swirling around the Vatican bank and the theft of confidential papers by his butler…

“Wearing his traditional white vestments, he told the huge crowd: ‘There were moments of joy and light but also moments that were not easy … there were moments, as there were throughout the history of the Church, when the seas were rough and the wind blew against us and it seemed that the Lord was sleeping.’”

Benedict XVI Remains “Your Holiness” and Becomes “Emeritus Pope”

The Guardian reported on February 26:

“Pope Benedict XVI will be known as ‘emeritus pope’ in his retirement and will continue to wear a white cassock, the Vatican has announced, again fuelling concerns about potential conflicts arising from having both a reigning and a retired pope… The Vatican spokesman, the Rev Federico Lombardi, said Benedict himself had made the decision in consultation with others, settling on ‘Your Holiness Benedict XVI’ and either emeritus pope or emeritus Roman pontiff as his titles following his resignation this Thursday. Lombardi said he did not know why Benedict had decided to drop his other main title: bishop of Rome…

“Benedict’s decision to call himself emeritus pope and to keep wearing white is sure to fan concern voiced privately by some cardinals about the awkward reality of having two popes, both living within the Vatican walls. Adding to the concern is that Benedict’s trusted secretary Monsignor Georg Gaänswein will be serving both pontiffs – living with Benedict at the monastery inside the Vatican and keeping his day job as prefect of the new pope’s household… Benedict himself has made clear he is retiring to a lifetime of prayer and meditation ‘hidden from the world’. However, he will still be very present in the tiny Vatican city state, where his new home is right next door to the Vatican Radio and looks out over the dome of St Peter’s Basilica.”

Unconditional Obedience?

BBC News reported on February 28:

“Pope Benedict XVI has vowed ‘unconditional obedience and reverence’ to his eventual successor. He was speaking on his final day in office at the Vatican to his cardinals, one of whom will be elected next month to replace him…”

Others report that Benedict has vowed “unconditional reverence and obedience.” The difference could be great. To pledge “unconditional obedience” to any man would be a colossal mistake. And God is the only one to whom we owe “unconditional reverence.”

Archbishop of Edinburgh Resigns

The Atlantic Wire reported on February 25:

“The Archbishop of Edinburgh, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, has been forced to resign just days before the Pope Benedict XVI steps down, leaving Great Britain without a representative at the upcoming papal conclave. O’Brien, who heads the Catholic Church in Scotland and was the only British Cardinal eligible to vote for the new pope, has recently been accused of ‘inappropriate behavior’ with some of his priests. He denies all the charges, but the growing storm over the accusations had created an unwelcome distraction at a pivotal time for the [Church], and threatened to throw a cloud over the upcoming conclave. O’Brien announced that the Pope has accepted his resignation and he won’t be going to Rome next month for the vote…

“O’Brien has been a somewhat controversial figure in the majority Anglican nation, speaking out harshly against homosexuality, gay marriage, and abortion. However, he did recently state that the new pope should consider relaxing the rules on celibacy among the clergy. The Vatican said they would investigate the accusations, but it’s not known if they will drop the matter now that Pope Benedict XVI has accepted O’Brien’s resignation. He would have retired in a few weeks anyway, when he turns 75, but his participation in the selection of the next pope would have been the cap on a long and successful career…”

Britain’s influence in Europe—politically and now even religiously—is constantly declining.

German Catholic Church Approved Morning-After Pill in Rape Cases

Der Spiegel Online reported on February 22:

“In a significant reversal just one month after two Catholic hospitals refused to treat a victim of sexual assault, Germany’s bishops on Thursday approved the use of the ‘morning-after pill’ in rape cases… This time, it didn’t take the Catholic Church long to react. In mid-January, the church in Germany was blasted after two Catholic hospitals in Cologne refused treatment to a rape victim due to concerns about the provision of emergency contraception in the form of the ‘morning-after’ pill.  On Thursday, the German Bishops’ Conference completed an about-face on its approach to the treatment, saying that Catholic facilities in Germany were now free to prescribe such pills in rape cases, provided that the medication was used to prevent a pregnancy and not to abort an already fertilized egg.

“Robert Zollitsch, head of the Bishops’ Conference, announced the decision in Trier… It applies to all Catholic facilities in Germany and follows a similar change made unilaterally by Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Cologne in the immediate wake of the scandal… Zollitsch, however, was careful to note that ‘medical or pharmaceutical methods that lead to the death of the embryo are still not permitted.’ In addition to the resolutions regarding the ‘morning-after’ pill, the Bishops’ Conference also announced its intention to increase the number of women working in church leadership positions…

“Left-leaning daily Die Tageszeitung takes a broader look at what the change of course on the ‘morning-after’ pill says about the state of the Catholic Church. ‘… using the pill as a means of family planning remains forbidden as does ordination for women. That won’t be enough to confront the deep crisis facing the Catholic Church in Germany. Even conservative Catholics have lost faith in the church, and the church has distanced itself from many of the faithful. The bishops might see their faint-hearted reforms as a great step. For the public it looks at best like a purely cosmetic improvement that will do little to change the devastating image the church in Germany has developed in recent years.’”

HOWEVER, the negative image of the Catholic Church will drastically change—regardless of their teachings or practices—when a powerful miracle-working charismatic personage will become pope. The Bible warns of that individual, calling him the false prophet and the man of sin, of iniquity and lawlessness, who will appear with the power and under the directive of Satan himself (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, 8-10).

Catholic Church Now Has Seat on Mount Zion

Israel National News reported on February 1:

“An historic agreement has been drafted between Israel and the Vatican. The Israeli authorities have granted the Pope an official seat in the room where the Last Supper is believed to have taken place, on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, and where David and Solomon, Jewish kings of Judea, are considered by some researchers, to also be buried. It is the culmination of a long campaign by the Catholic Church to regain religious stewardship over the place where Jesus is supposed to have broken bread and drunk wine with his disciples on the eve of his crucifixion.

“This is an enormous issue pushed through without any public debate. According to our sources, the agreement, which is expected to be ratified next June, gives the Pope a ‘special authority’ over the second floor of the building… The agreement constitutes Israel’s capitulation to the Vatican’s efforts to ‘Christianize’ the holy site… The Catholic Church has long wanted control over part of the area on Mt. Zion so as to turn it into an international religious center for Catholics…

“In the long term, the gesture will increase tensions between Jews and the large assets of the Vatican. The Church has long been working to reduce Jewish rights in Jerusalem and in the Old City. Now, after the Muslim Waqf authority expelled the Christians from the Temple Mount and turned it into a mosque, it’s the turn of the Vatican to lay its hands on the Jewish Jerusalem. The Custody of the Holy Land, the Franciscan order who, with Vatican approval, is in charge of the holy sites, campaigns with the Arabs against Israel.

“As far back as May 2000, Yasser Arafat met Islamic and Christian clergymen at the presidential offices in Ramallah to back Palestinian Arab sovereignty over Jerusalem. Among the clergymen who attended the meeting [were] Diodoros I, patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church, Torkom II, patriarch of the Armenian Orthodox Church, Catholic Patriarch Michel Sabbah and officials from the Custody of the Holy Land…

“The Vatican is also asking that Israel hand over to the Vatican’s control dozens of sites, 19 in Judea and Samaria and 28 in Jerusalem. The Catholic Church want to discuss some properties on [the] Mount of Olives, Har Hazeitim, which is the very history of the Jewish people. If you want to keep Jerusalem united, you have to keep Har Hazeitim. The Vatican knows that…

“Should the Vatican gain sovereignty over Mount of Zion, millions of Christian pilgrims will flock to the site, and this will threaten the Israeli presence in the Old City’s Jewish Quarter and Jewish access to the Western Wall. The Vatican wants the Jews out of the Old City and apparently Israel’s government is agreeing with them. Turning the Cenacle into an active church is also a way of desecrating the holiness of the site known as the Tomb of David…”

The Bible makes it very clear that in these end times, the Catholic Church, as “representative” of “orthodox Christianity,” will gain access to and control over the Temple Mount and the city of Jerusalem.

Italy in Turmoil — Again

The New York Times wrote on February 25:

“Italian voters delivered a rousing anti-austerity message and a strong rebuke to the existing political order in national elections on Monday that threatened to plunge the country into political paralysis after early results failed to produce a clear winner. Political experts said the situation would most likely lead to a shaky coalition government and once again expose Italy and the euro zone to turmoil if financial markets question the new government’s commitment to measures that have kept the budget deficit within a tolerable 3 percent of gross domestic product.

“In an election marked by voter anger and low turnout, the center-left Democratic Party appeared to be leading in the Lower House… and in the Senate… But the results were not a clear victory, because the center-right People of Liberty Party of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was leading in several populous regions that carry more Senate seats, raising the prospect of political gridlock.

“Even without a final result, the election was a victory for the Five Star Movement of the former comedian Beppe Grillo, which in its first-ever national elections appeared… to win 25 percent of the vote in the Lower House. Italians from both right and left — and the wealthier north and poorer south — were drawn to Mr. Grillo’s opposition of austerity measures and cries to oust the existing political order.  And it was a stinging defeat for the caretaker prime minister, Mario Monti, a newly minted politician whose lackluster civic movement appeared to win around 10 percent in both houses…

“When he came to power in November 2011, after Mr. Berlusconi stepped down amid intense market turmoil [and intense personal problems and accusations], Mr. Monti was praised for restoring international confidence in Italy. Although he won plaudits from European leaders and President Obama, Italians remember him for raising the retirement age and taxes. ‘Taxes, taxes and more taxes, that’s what voters remember the most from Monti,’ said Stefano Sacchi, a professor of political science at the University of Milan…”

The Washington Post added on February 25:

“Silvio Berlusconi, the three-time Italian prime minister, billionaire playboy and perpetual criminal defendant, who was all but counted out of Italian political life when a debt crisis forced his resignation in 2011, shocked the country Monday by shooting back into a position of influence. Even by the chaotic standards of Italian politics, the resurgence of Berlusconi’s People of Liberty party… along with the astonishingly strong showing of a naysaying protest party led by Beppe Grillo, a seething ex-comedian opposed to the euro, has cast the Italian government into confusion…”

Der Spiegel wrote on February 26:

“An angry comedian and ‘Bunga Bunga’ Berlusconi won enough votes to block the formation of an urgently needed reform-minded government in Rome. They attracted millions of disenchanted people who feel they’ve lost out from the euro. Italy has descended into chaos and the whole of Europe will feel it… Incompetent political leadership has been running down the country for years…

“Berlusconi’s promises are outlandish, but many are intent on believing them, like one believes in the miracle cures of Catholic saints… they’re all hoping for a miracle… Germany and some other northern nations have become richer thanks to the euro but other regions, especially in the south, have become poorer…”

Deutsche Welle added on February 26:

“Italian newspapers, more or less, came to the same conclusion on the morning after the country’s parliamentary election: ‘Italy is ungovernable.’”

After the end of World War II, Italy has had an extraordinary amount of shaky governments, so the present turmoil is no exception. Heavily taxing the people is never a popular or smart move. It is also condemned in the Bible. It led to a revolt of the Israelites under King Solomon’s son, and it apparently broke the neck of Mr. Monti and his politics, as well as Italy’s present “political order.” In such circumstances, controversial and unscrupulous men capitalize from unrest, as Benito Mussolini did prior to and during World War II. However, Italy will become one of the prophesied ten European core nations or groups of nations which will comprise the final revival of the ancient Roman Empire, but under German leadership.

More Europe—A “Defense” of the European Idea

Der Spiegel Online reported on February 22:

“German President Joachim Gauck made a passionate plea on Friday for greater European integration in the most important speech of his term in office thus far. He called on Britain to remain in the EU and said that Germany does not want to impose its will on the rest of its EU partners.

“When it comes to the European Union, many in Germany and around the 27-member club think first and foremost of mind-numbing bureaucracy in Brussels and the never-ending crisis facing the Continent’s common currency. Citizens feel powerless, helpless and oftentimes ignored. Such were the sentiments that German President Joachim Gauck acknowledged right at the beginning of his highly anticipated keynote address on Europe, delivered on Friday in Berlin. It was the first major speech of his 11-month-old presidency, and it comes at a time when euro-skepticism is widespread — most notably in Britain, but also in Germany and across the EU.

“Gauck, though, quickly moved on from the laundry list of complaints that are often directed at Brussels and from the fears felt by those countries in crisis. In the rest of the speech, he delivered an eloquent and passionate defense of the European idea. ‘We can travel from the Neman (River) to the Atlantic and from Finland to Sicily without at any point having to dig out a passport,’ he said. ‘We can use one and the same currency across much of Europe, and we buy Spanish shoes and Czech cars without paying extra customs charges…. In a very positive way, more Europe has become part of our everyday lives.’… First and foremost, he said, Europe needed to develop a common identity…

“Gauck is particularly well-liked in Germany. As a pastor in East Germany, he became a leading member of the New Forum, a citizens’ movement that ultimately played a key role in the GDR’s rapid switch from communism to democracy after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989…

“On Friday, Gauck seemed well aware of the attention that would be paid to his speech. ‘European identity is not about excluding those who are different,’ he said. ‘Rather, European identity grows out of our deepening cooperation and the conviction of those who say we want to be part of this community because we share common values. More Europe means making diversity more genuinely part of our lives and allowing it to unite us.’

“The German president noted the difficulties currently facing the EU and warned that further integration is needed in terms of financial and economic policy as well as foreign and defense issues… Toward the end of his speech, he made a direct appeal to the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union… ‘During the Second World War, your efforts helped to save our Europe — and it is also your Europe…. More Europe cannot mean a Europe without you… I want to assure all citizens of neighboring countries that I cannot imagine any of Germany’s policymakers seeking to impose a German diktat… It is my heartfelt conviction that, in Germany, more Europe does not mean a German Europe. For us, more Europe means a European Germany.’ Gauck received a standing ovation at the end of his speech…”

The Local ran an article on February 26, which had first been published by Die Zeit. Even though much of it is objectionable and misleading, the following excerpts are worth quoting:

“Since last Friday it has been clear that Germany’s ceremonial head of state is… a convinced European with the courage to make overhauling the European project a central theme of his presidency… Gauck developed what had been painfully absent in all of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s efforts to save the euro and push forward with reform of the European Union: a vision of how the crisis-hit bloc should move forward – as a community of common values, a European civil society…

“Gauck committed himself to a further ‘internal unification’ of the EU. His view of this deeper integration involves not only a common financial and economic policy, but also a unified foreign, security and defence policy…

“Europe will fail without a common narrative, without an idea of where the European journey should lead, whether as a loose confederation of states or a federal, tight union. That is Gauck’s central message – and his warning to politicians. What is needed, as he rather passionately said, is not doubters, but banner-wavers, not hesitators, but hard workers. There is no doubt about which group Gauck would like to belong to.”

There will be more Europe, and even though German politicians may not envision or desire it, it will be led by ten Eurozone core nations or groups of nations under German leadership, and Great Britain will not be a part of it.

Britain the Big Loser

Der Spiegel Online wrote on February 28:

“In a bid to address widespread public outrage over greed in the financial sector, European officials have agreed to legislation capping bankers’ bonuses at a maximum of a year’s salary. Great Britain fought to prevent the measure, but failed to rally enough support… European Parliament and member states must still formally approve the compromise…

“Wednesday’s agreement to implement what will be the world’s strictest pay cap was hard-won after months of resistance from member states. Chief among them was Great Britain, which boasts Europe’s largest financial sector… The new rules will apply to all EU financial institutions and their foreign subsidiaries. It will also apply to the subsidiaries of American or Asian bank with branches in the EU…”

The New York Times added on February 28:

“The agreement… is a blow to Britain, which partly relies on generous remuneration packages to ensure that the City of London remains the biggest financial center in Europe and the overseas base for banks from around the globe.”

Europe is ganging up on Britain… as has been prophesied in the Bible.

Resistance IS Possible

Deutsche Welle reported on February 18 about the White Rose, a peaceful resistance group of students and other younger men and women in Germany who tried to educate the people by distributing leaflets informing the readers as to what was really going on in Germany:

“Franz J. Müller was part of the White Rose resistance group that called for active opposition against the Nazi regime. In an interview with DW he recalls what happened and why the White Rose is still significant…

“‘The Führer decided whether we were to live or to die. And then, all that pseudo-militaristic stuff. And we weren’t allowed to read what we wanted, either. Fortunately we were able to listen to Swiss radio broadcasts. That wasn’t exactly the voice of freedom, but at least they had information that was not available in Germany. And, of course, we then discussed all these things, too. We knew that if Germany didn’t lose the war, the Nazis would rule Europe. Under no circumstances did we want that! In our opinion Germany HAD to lose the war! Otherwise we wouldn’t see freedom again in our lifetime…

“‘The White Rose is seen as the prominent indication that resistance in Germany was possible, that one could do something…  Hans and Sophie [Scholl, leaders of the White Rose movement] didn’t want to be heroes. They valued friendship and freedom. The students should look for information as comprehensively as possible and have discussions with friends, in order not to be easily influenced by propaganda slogans, and to show civil courage when liberties are at stake…’”

This is still true for Christians today. We are told to come out of Babylon and not to share in her sins (Revelation 18:4). Rather, we are to cry aloud and spare not and show the people their transgressions and sins (Isaiah 58:1).

USA and Europe—No More Closeness

Der Spiegel Online wrote on February 25:

“The new US secretary of state is visiting Berlin on Monday. He’s promising grand things — and he has a soft spot for Europe. But John Kerry has little room for maneuver. The Old World is of little interest to people in Washington, particularly President Obama… Kerry’s boss, President Barack Obama, is perhaps the first genuine ‘non-European’ in the White House…

“Obama used Berlin in 2008 as an election stage. He hasn’t made it back to the German capital since. And during his re-election campaign last year, the president didn’t shy away from scolding Europe. Obama’s support for a planned free-trade agreement between Washington and the European Union is so half-hearted that he only added a sentence about it to his recent State of the Union address at the very last minute — and even then, it only came after statements about the implementation of a trans-Pacific trade agreement.

“Above all, though, Obama is the ultimate pragmatist when it comes to diplomacy. Vali Nasr, the influential Washington politics professor, recently came to the damning conclusion in a new book that Obama’s foreign policy isn’t based on strategic considerations, but solely on public opinion in the United States. The desire of the American people is clear. They would rather rebuild their country’s economy than focus on the rest of the world. Right now America is looking inside rather than outside, and moving forward it wants to act in the background rather than march at the front, as evidenced by its positions on Mali and Syria…

“Kerry will be unable to do anything to change that. For one, America’s political system grants the secretary of state very little influence… The office holder can only wield power if he or she has the president’s ear. Ultimately, though, it is a small circle of confidants who influence Obama’s foreign policy, and not even [Hillary] Clinton, a political superstar, was able to crack it. ‘It is incredible how little support she got from the White House,’ Admiral Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently told the New York Times. ‘They want to control everything.’

“Besides, Kerry wasn’t even Obama’s first choice for the post. US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice was initially supposed to be secretary of state, but that fell through after the scandal surrounding the US diplomats killed in Libya made her untenable for the position. Secondly, from Obama’s perspective, there is no alternative to America’s new foreign-policy restraint.

“The United States no longer wants to be the ‘irreplaceable nation’ that Madeleine Albright once touted. And even if the country wanted that role again, it is unlikely that it would suddenly increase its focus and pay more attention to Europe, as former NATO commander Wesley Clark recently reminded German listeners during a speech. When the Americans actually do look to Europe, it will only be when working together actually pays dividends, as with the planned free-trade agreement… Someone now just has to explain that to Kerry.”

The Atlantic Wire added on February 26:

“Brand-new Secretary of State John Kerry gave a speech Tuesday proudly defending Americans’ ‘right to be stupid’ in front of the very people who are most likely to think Americans are stupid, Europeans. ‘People have sometimes wondered about why our Supreme Court allows one group or another to march in a parade even though it’s the most provocative thing in the world and they carry signs that are an insult to one group or another,’ Kerry told students in Berlin, according to Reuters, which notes the remark prompted laughter.

“‘The reason is, that’s freedom, freedom of speech. In America you have a right to be stupid — if you want to be.’ Kerry explained to the German students that the freedom from brains is a good thing. ‘Now, I think that’s a virtue. I think that’s something worth fighting for… The important thing is to have the tolerance to say, you know, you can have a different point of view.’”

The relationship between the USA and Europe is prophesied to consistently deteriorate, until open hostility will be the result. Even Germany’s former euphoria for the Obamas is fading. The left-liberal magazine, Der Stern, wrote that the Oscar celebrations on Sunday were ok, but what on earth was Michelle Obama doing, announcing a reward for a movie from the White House. It was felt that she was totally out-of-place. As the next article shows, America is recognizing Germany’s strong leadership role in Europe. But this might not be good news for the USA.

Kerry Praises Germany’s Leadership Role in Europe

The EUObserver wrote on February 27:

“On his first trip to Berlin as US foreign secretary John Kerry on Tuesday… praised Germany’s leadership in Europe and made a strong case for an EU-US free trade agreement… ‘What you’re doing now in Germany is so remarkable in terms of leading Europe and expressing a vision about where we can go together,’ Kerry told the young audience [of German students.] He repeated the compliment when meeting Merkel, thanking ‘Germany’s exemplary leadership.’…

“Kerry also underlined the importance of signing a free trade agreement between the US and the EU… The trade deal will help raise standards for products and food all across the world and break tariff barriers, he added. ‘One of the difficulties with the Asian marketplace has been that they’re engaged in capitalism and they’re pursuing pretty intensive market opportunities, but they’re not always playing by the same rules,’ Kerry said.”

As the previous section points out, President Obama may not attach the same importance to the trade agreement. But it will increase Europe’s wealth.

Chuck Hagel Sworn In… but John Brennan Still Under Review

BBC News reported on February 27:

“Shortly after his swearing-in as defence secretary, Chuck Hagel has said the US should engage with the world rather than dictate to it… Mr Hagel was confirmed by a 58-41 vote after Republicans stalled his nomination, questioning his past positions on Israel and Iran and his qualification for the job… Hagel has stirred up a sudden storm in a chai glass, with past suggestions that India has been using Afghanistan as a ‘second front’ against its old rival Pakistan… 

“Also on Wednesday, the Senate intelligence committee delayed a vote on White House counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan, whom Mr Obama has nominated as the next director of the CIA… some Democrats have expressed concern over the government’s use of unmanned drones to carry out ‘targeted killings’; and have suggested a vote on Mr Brennan should be delayed until the committee can review certain secret documents relating to the programme.”

And Republicans oppose the confirmation “unless the Obama administration turns over more Benghazi documentation.”

Breitbart added on February 26:

“An unprecedented 41 Senators voted against Hagel’s nomination. In the history of the Republic, no other Defense Secretary had been approved with more than 11 votes in opposition. Hagel now has the job title, but he doesn’t have the political authority necessary to be successful. He won confirmation, but he failed his nomination…

“Hagel was always an odd choice for the job… he admitted he didn’t know a lot about specific military programs, but would be able to learn quickly on the job…

“The Pentagon is famously bureaucratic. In addition to tensions between uniformed and civilian employees, there is competition between the different services… With 41 votes against his confirmation, Hagel has [no] authority. Because of this, Hagel is a failed nominee. He won the office, but the questions raised during his confirmation debate have neutered him within the Department. America has never had a Defense Secretary who didn’t enjoy broad bi-partisan support on The Hill. Hagel’s confirmation is historic, but for all the wrong reasons.”

Big Banks a Threat to Global Economy?

Bloomberg reported on February 20:

“…  what if we told you that, by our calculations, the largest U.S. banks aren’t really profitable at all? What if the billions of dollars they allegedly earn for their shareholders were almost entirely a gift from U.S. taxpayers? Granted, it’s a hard concept to swallow. It’s also crucial to understanding why the big banks present such a threat to the global economy… The larger they are, the more disastrous their failure would be and the more certain they can be of a government bailout in an emergency. The result is an implicit subsidy: The banks that are potentially the most dangerous can borrow at lower rates, because creditors perceive them as too big to fail.

“Lately, economists have tried to pin down exactly how much the subsidy lowers big banks’ borrowing costs… Multiplied by the total liabilities of the 10 largest U.S. banks by assets, it amounts to a taxpayer subsidy of $83 billion a year. To put the figure in perspective, it’s tantamount to the government giving the banks about 3 cents of every tax dollar collected.

“… the banks occupying the commanding heights of the U.S. financial industry — with almost $9 trillion in assets, more than half the size of the U.S. economy — would just about break even in the absence of corporate welfare. In large part, the profits they report are essentially transfers from taxpayers to their shareholders.

“Neither bank executives nor shareholders have much incentive to change the situation. On the contrary, the financial industry spends hundreds of millions of dollars every election cycle on campaign donations and lobbying, much of which is aimed at maintaining the subsidy… the superbanks could ultimately require bailouts that exceed the government’s resources. Picture a meltdown in which the Treasury is helpless to step in as it did in 2008 and 2009…”

Frightening and scary indeed! Add to this our entitlement problems, our broken healthcare system, our unparalleled public debts and the myriads of other man-made economic dangers, coupled with our paralyzed government, we should not have to think twice to be able to comprehend that our economy is in grave danger, just waiting to collapse.

The Sequester–Is America Committing Suicide?

Deutsche Welle reported on February 27:

“With a series of automatic spending cuts set to take effect on Friday, Democrats and Republicans are playing a game of political chicken, with neither party willing to compromise in the latest round of America’s 18-month-old fiscal drama…The $85 billion (65 billion euros) in across-the-board cuts for fiscal year 2013, called sequestration, would equally impact both defense and social spending.

“… with hopes of a deal fading, both sides of the political aisle are pointing fingers as Washington prepares to fall on its own sword… As the world watches America go through these self-manufactured crises, to what extent does this say to the rest of the world, these guys in Washington may run the world because they have the biggest army and they have the biggest economy, but their disfunctionality is becoming really dangerous to us all…”

Bob Woodward vs. Barack Obama

Reuters reported on February 27:

“Journalist Bob Woodward on Wednesday criticized Barack Obama’s handling of the automatic U.S. budget cuts set to take effect this week, calling the president’s decision to hold back on military deployments ‘madness.’ His comments continued what has become a running dispute between Woodward, perhaps the country’s best-known print journalist, and the Democratic White House over who is responsible for the across-the-board cuts scheduled to begin on Friday…

“Woodward… first gained fame in the 1970s from exposing the Watergate scandal during the administration of President Richard Nixon…

“On Wednesday he attacked Obama for drawing national security into the budget debate. ‘So we now have the president going out (saying) “Because of this piece of paper and this agreement, I can’t do what I need to do to protect the country.” That’s a kind of madness that I haven’t seen in a long time’ Woodward told MSNBC on Wednesday… Obama’s decision to drag the military into the budget fight likely would not have happened in previous administrations, Republican or Democratic, Woodward added…”

The Business Insider reported on February 27:

“Bob Woodward said this evening on CNN that a ‘very senior person’ at the White House warned him in an email that he would ‘regret doing this,’ the same day he has continued to slam President Barack Obama over the looming forced cuts known as the sequester. CNN host Wolf Blitzer said that the network invited a White House official to debate Woodward on-air, but the White House declined.”

The White House is becoming desperate. But renowned journalist Bob Woodward will not be an easy target. Subsequently, the White House was anxious to downplay the incident, and CNN jumped on the bandwagon, but the fact remains that a hot phone discussion had taken place between Woodward and a senior official at the White House, followed by an “apologetic” email by that senior person at the White House—apparently Gene Sperling, a top economic aide–containing the above-quoted statement which Woodward interpreted as a threat. It was also stated by Ari Fleischer, a former White House Press Secretary, during an interview with CNN that other journalists had allegedly received similar threats from current officials at the White House.

Will It Be Avoided?

The Washington Post wrote on February 27:

“President Obama will meet with congressional leaders Friday at the White House to discuss a way to avoid the fallout of deep spending cuts, amid intensifying warnings that they could affect the daily lives of Americans in a variety of ways. Obama’s meeting with the top four Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate is scheduled for the day the so-called ‘sequester’ cuts begin to take effect…

“Among the sequester’s possible impacts… are major flight delays and the closure of hundreds of air traffic control towers at smaller airports across the country…  the sequester would wreak havoc on air travel across the country… increased delays, higher costs and lags in air-traffic upgrades would be felt by travelers, pilots, airlines, business and the military… the greatest impact of the cuts may be felt during the spring break and summer travel seasons when airports are busiest…

“The White House meeting Friday will be the first between Obama and congressional leaders on the issue… [House Speaker John] Boehner spokesman Michael Steel confirmed the meeting while complaining that it was scheduled too late. ‘At this point, the Obama administration isn’t even pretending to try to stop the sequester,’ he said in a statement. While the sequester technically begins Friday, its effects will not be felt for several weeks, as they are implemented… Both sides are hoping to resolve the battle by late March…

“Obama has said the $85 billion in cuts in domestic and defense spending would have a devastating impact on the government and harm the economy. Republican leaders agree that an alternative to the sequester is necessary. But the two sides have clashed over whether new tax revenue should be part of the solution. Senate Democrats and Republicans are expected to advance dueling proposals Thursday to resolve the sequester, but neither is expected to get the votes necessary to pass…”

Iran—Just Says “No”

The Los Angeles Times wrote on February 26:

“Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been doubling down on his hard-line message that all but rules out the possibility of direct talks with the United States… Khamenei characterized the latest efforts by the Obama administration to negotiate directly with Iran as ‘a marketing ploy’ designed to convince Islamic countries around the world that if the Islamic Republic, with its long history of resistance and endurance, finally relented and negotiated, then what hope would they have standing up against the West. The real aim of Western powers, Khamenei declared, was not good-faith negotiations but forcing Iran’s ‘surrender.’…

“Simply put, normalization of relations between Iran and the United States would deprive Khamenei and the deeply invested cohort of radical ideologues around him of a powerful justification for their arbitrary rule. Continued enmity with the United States has time and again proved to be a convenient excuse for silencing the reformist opposition…

“The difficult dilemma facing the Obama administration, therefore, is not simply one concerning the rights or responsibilities of Iran under the terms of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty… The implementation of an unprecedented regime of economic and political sanctions against Iran has been a godsend to Khamenei, because it presents him with a tangible set of grievances against American ‘arrogance’ and ‘hypocrisy.’

“Khamenei ended his latest speech with a telling observation. ‘The sanctions,’ he said, ‘did not in fact put any distance between the people and the Islamic Republic. They merely proved the point that belief in Islam and resilient leadership can help solve any problems. Surrender to the enemies [of the Islamic Republic] will not solve anything.’”

And so, Iran proves to be another irremovable thorn in the flesh of America’s botched up foreign policy.

More Horsemeat in Europe

The website of reported on February 25:

“Bad news for those whose shopping trips at Ikea are partly motivated by the allure of the store’s famous meatballs: The giant Swedish furniture retailer on Monday said it had recalled a batch of frozen meatballs sent to more than a dozen European countries after tests detected traces of horse meat… Ikea says it has pulled frozen meatballs from the same batch that were sent to its stores in Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, France, the U.K., Portugal, Italy, the Netherlands, Ireland, Cyprus, Greece, Spain and Belgium, The Wall Street Journal reports.

“The product was also removed from Ikea stores in Sweden… Ikea is the latest retailer to be swept up in the ever-widening European horse meat scandal. Horse meat has been detected in a wide array of products, from frozen lasagnas to burger meat sold to Burger King’s U.K. operations, and in a meat pasta sauce sold by Wal-Mart’s U.K. supermarket chain, Asda.”

Horsemeat is not fit for human consumption. Rather, it is dangerous for human health, if you believe the Bible.

No Tuna in Tuna

The Atlantic wrote on February 22:

“Nonprofit ocean protection group Oceana took 1,215 samples of fish from across the United States and genetically tested them in order to bring us the following astonishing facts: 59% of the fish labeled ‘tuna’ sold at restaurants and grocery stores in the US is not tuna. Sushi restaurants were far more likely to mislabel their fish than grocery stores or other restaurants. In Chicago, Austin, New York, and Washington DC, every single sushi restaurant sampled sold mislabeled tuna.

“84% of fish samples labeled ‘white tuna’ were actually escolar, a fish that can cause prolonged, uncontrollable, oily anal leakage. The only fish more likely to be misrepresented than tuna was snapper, which was mislabeled 87% of the time, and was in actuality any of six different species. If you’ve ever wondered why the sushi in the display case is so affordable, given the dire state of the world’s tuna supply, well, now you know.”

Free-Range and Organic Chicken and their Eggs Neither Free-Range Nor Organic

The Local wrote on February 25:

“Prosecutors are investigating around 200 German egg farmers suspected of falsely labelling their produce as organic or free-range, in what has been described as fraud on a massive scale. It would seem that millions of eggs had been sold under false pretences over the last few years, exploiting the willingness of some customers to pay extra for produce from more humanely kept birds…

“Those under suspicion were largely conventional farms, but some organic farms were also affected. Chickens and their eggs can only be described as free-range if each animal has access to at least four square metres of space, while the description organic, or ‘bio’ in German, requires further specific conditions.”

Donkey and Pork Found in South African Meat Products

The Guardian wrote on February 26:

“South African food scientists say there is water buffalo, donkey and goat meat in mislabelled South African foods including beefburgers and sausages. A study published by three professors at Stellenbosch University found that 99 of 139 samples contained species not declared on the product label, with the highest incidence in sausages, burgers and deli meats. The study found soya and gluten were not labelled in 28% of products tested, undeclared pork in 37% and chicken in 23%.

“Co-author Professor Louwrens C Hoffman said: “This study confirms that the mislabelling of processed meats is commonplace in South Africa and not only violates food labelling regulations but also poses economic, religious, ethical and health impacts.’”

Big and small governmentally-run or -subsidized, as well as private companies and businesses constantly defraud the people and may contribute to or even be responsible for sicknesses and ultimately, for their physical destruction. But God will soon send back His Son Jesus Christ to “destroy those who destroy the earth” (Revelation 11:18).

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