This Week in the News

USA Vetoes U.N. Security Council’s Draft Resolution on Status of Jerusalem

Reuters wrote on December 18:

“The United States was further isolated on Monday over President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital when it blocked a United Nations Security Council call for the declaration to be withdrawn. The remaining 14 council members voted in favour of the Egyptian-drafted resolution, which… expressed ‘deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem.’ ‘What we witnessed here in the Security Council is an insult. It won’t be forgotten,’ U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said after the vote, adding that it was the first veto cast by the United States in more than six years…

“The U.N. draft resolution affirmed ‘that any decisions and actions which purport to have altered the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council…

“Trump also plans to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. The draft U.N. resolution had called upon all countries to refrain from establishing diplomatic missions in Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Haley and Trump for the veto in a video clip posted on his Facebook page…

“Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said the Palestinians would seek a rare emergency special session of the 193-member U.N. General Assembly on Trump’s decision. Under a 1950 resolution, an emergency special session can be called for the General Assembly to consider a matter ‘with a view to making appropriate recommendations to members for collective measures’ if the Security Council fails to act. Only 10 such sessions have been convened, and the last time the General Assembly met in such a session was in 2009 on Israeli actions in occupied Palestinian territories. Any outcome of such a session is non-binding, but carries political weight.”

CNN wrote on December 18:

“Palestinian leaders slammed the US decision, citing it as further proof the White House could no longer play an impartial role in any Israeli-Palestinian peace process… Expecting the US veto, the Palestinians immediately changed their focus from the Security Council to the United Nations General Assembly, where each member has one vote and no country — not even the United States — can veto a resolution…

“Speaking in favor of the resolution before the vote, France and the United Kingdom insisted the final status of Jerusalem should only be determined in negotiations… The proposed resolution comes almost exactly one year after UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which criticized Israel for the expansion of settlements in the West Bank, calling them ‘a flagrant violation under international law.’ In the vote, taken in the waning days of the Obama administration, 14 of the 15 Security Council members voted in favor of the resolution; the United States abstained, allowing it to pass.

“At the beginning of her speech, Haley made clear the results would be different if the vote were taken again. ‘Given the chance to vote again on Resolution 2334, I can say with complete confidence that the United States would vote no,’ said Haley, slamming the resolution as a hindrance to the exact peace process it was intended to advance…

“‘We will take legal, political and diplomatic action against Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem,’ Abbas said on Monday… In addition, Abbas signed 22 agreements and treaties in a move to solidify Palestinian standing in international affairs…”

The current 15 members of the UN Security Council are:

The five permanent members: China, France, Russia, the UK and the USA.

The current ten non-permanent members elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly are:

Bolivia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Senegal, Sweden, Ukraine and Uruguay.

Not much was to be expected from most of these member states, except perhaps, under “normal” circumstances, the UK and some of America’s European allies.

US Will Take Names of Those Voting against It in UN General Assembly

Deutsche Welle wrote on December 20:

The UN General Assembly will vote on a measure that would require the US to rescind its decision regarding Jerusalem. US President Donald Trump has threatened to cut aid to countries that support the resolution… ‘All these nations that take our money and then vote against us at the Security Council and they vote against us potentially at the Assembly,’ Trump said at the White House. ‘They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars and then they vote against us. Well, we’re watching those votes… Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care,’ he concluded.

The remarks follow a stern warning delivered by US Ambassador Nikki Haley on Tuesday, who threatened to ‘take the names’ of countries that vote in favor of the draft resolution rejecting the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital… Turkey and Yemen requested the emergency session on behalf of the Arab group of countries and the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation.”

U.N. General Assembly Condemns USA

The Associated Press wrote on December 21:

“The U.N. General Assembly has voted 128-9 with 35 abstentions to declare President Donald Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital ‘null and void.’ Thursday’s vote, while a victory for the Palestinians, was significantly lower than its supporters had hoped for… It is noteworthy that 21 countries were absent.

In that sense, it was a victory for the United States, with Trump’s threat to cut off U.S. funding to countries that oppose his decision having an impact.”

Deutsche Welle added on December 21:

“The United States and Israel were joined by Guatemala, Honduras and Togo [as well as small islands, namely Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, and Palau] in opposing the measure. Washington’s North American neighbors Canada and Mexico abstained [as well as Australia, the Philippines, Panama, Paraguay, Colombia, Argentina and South Sudan] along with several eastern European countries, including Poland, the Czech Republic [Croatia, Hungary] and Romania. Alongside many Middle Eastern countries, much of western Europe supported the measure, including Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Spain…

“Israeli Prime Minister Banjamin Netanyahu… slammed the UN as a ‘house of lies.’… Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Twitter that the vote showed the ‘illegality’ of Trump’s Jerusalem move…”

CBS News added:

“In the end, major U.S. aid recipients including Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania and South Africa supported the resolution. The absent countries included Kenya, which was the fifth-largest recipient of U.S. aid last year, Georgia and Ukraine, all of which have close U.S. ties.”

Breitbart reported on December 21:

“The leader of the populist Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) and new Austrian Vice-chancellor, Heinz Christian Strache, has also expressed a desire to move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem. As early as July Mr Strache called for the international community to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, saying it would be ‘absurd’ not to.”

In the end, Austria voted FOR the resolution, following Germany’s lead. Note below many more articles about Heinz Christian Strache.

Trump Administration: Western Wall Will Be Part of Israel

JTA wrote on December 15:

“The Trump administration said it cannot envision an outcome in which the Western Wall [in eastern Jerusalem] is not part of Israel — the first signal by any U.S. administration that it recognizes a claim to Jerusalem outside the 1967 lines… Israel captured eastern Jerusalem, including the Old City, in the 1967 Six-Day War…”

JTA wrote on December 18:

“The Western Wall is the outer wall and the largest remnant of the Second Temple, which was destroyed by Rome in 70 C.E. during the Jewish wars. Since 135 C.E. — the launch of the Jewish exile in the wake of the failed Bar Kochba revolt — Jews have directed prayers from wherever they are toward the destroyed Temple. There are indications throughout the Dark and Middle Ages of Jewish worship at the Wall, but the Encyclopedia Judaica dates permanent worship at the site to the early 1500s, probably a result of an influx of Jewish refugees from Spain into the city. Depictions of pious Jews praying at the site were a cliche by the late 19th century.

Jordan’s almost absolute ban on Jewish worship at the Western Wall during its 1949-1967 occupation of Jerusalem became a sore point for Diaspora Jews, as well as for Israelis… Israel extended administrative control to eastern Jerusalem, including the Old City, within a month or so of the Six-Day War. It declared the ‘complete and unified Jerusalem’ the capital of Israel in a 1980 law that was amended in 2000 to define borders that included the Old City; the law refers to the ‘Holy Places’ as being under Israeli protection…

“The wall abuts the Temple Mount — the holiest site in Judaism, and the third holiest in Islam. Muslims believe its Al Aqsa mosque is where Muhammad ascended into heaven in his Night Journey… ‘For the United States to take this position formally is obviously a significant departure from previous policies,’ said Yousef Munayyer, the director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights. ‘It has huge implications. There has been no formal American position on the holy sites that gave sovereignty to either party.’”

The control of the Western Wall and the Temple Mount, as well as the building of a third temple will become the cataclysm which will ignite the powder keg in the Middle East.

New National Security Strategy of the USA

Fox News wrote on December 18:

“President Trump on Monday unveiled a national security strategy that enshrines his ‘America First’ approach into U.S. policy, stressing American strength and economic security and putting rivals like China and Russia on notice. ‘America is in the game and America is going to win,’ Trump said, making clear that the United States will stand up for itself even if that means acting unilaterally or alienating others on issues such as trade, climate change and immigration…

“Trump, who released his 68-page national security strategy ahead of his speech, said he is making good on campaign pledges that he promised would ‘revitalize the American economy, rebuild our military, defend our borders, protect our sovereignty and advance our values.’ Trump’s national security strategy, a document mandated by Congress, is based on four principles: protecting the homeland by restricting immigration, pressuring trading partners, building up the military and otherwise increasing U.S. influence globally…

“‘China and Russia challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity,’ the strategy document says. ‘They are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence.’ The strategy accuses the two nations of ‘developing advanced weapons and capabilities that could threaten our critical infrastructure and our command and control architecture.’”

President Trump also said this (quoted from the transcript of his speech, as published by Al Jazeera News):

“We have withdrawn the United States from job-killing deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the very expensive and unfair Paris Climate Accord. And on our trip to Asia last month, I announced that we will no longer tolerate trading abuse. We have established strict new vetting procedures to keep terrorists out of the United States, and our vetting is getting tougher each month. To counter Iran and block its path to a nuclear weapon, … I declined to certify the Iran Deal to Congress…

“In Afghanistan, our troops are no longer undermined by artificial timelines, and we no longer tell our enemies of our plans… And we have made clear to Pakistan that while we desire continued partnership, we must see decisive action against terrorist groups operating on their territory. And we make massive payments every year to Pakistan. They have to help.

“Our efforts to strengthen the NATO Alliance set the stage for significant increases in member contributions, with tens of billions of dollars more pouring in because I would not allow member states to be delinquent in the payment while we guarantee their safety and are willing to fight wars for them.  We have made clear that countries that are immensely wealthy should reimburse the United States for the cost of defending them. This is a major departure from the past, but a fair and necessary one – necessary for our country, necessary for our taxpayer, necessary for our own thought process.”

The “affected” NATO countries, including Germany, already declared that there will be no way that they will reimburse the USA for anything. This will further continued alienation.

Largest US Tax Overhaul in More Than Three Decades

Bloomberg wrote on December 20:

“After a year of infighting, frustration and failure, President Donald Trump and his Republicans finally have something to celebrate. The Senate early this morning passed the largest U.S. tax overhaul in more than three decades with barely a vote to spare, bringing Trump to the brink of his first big legislative win…

“The legislation — passed before Christmas, as Trump urged just two months earlier — quiets questions about the fractious party’s ability to govern. The measure’s repeal of the Obamacare insurance mandate also helps salve the wounds from Republican struggles to repeal the broader law earlier this year.

But the celebration may be short-lived. Congress must quickly pass a spending bill by Friday to avoid a holiday government shutdown. The new year will bring more spending showdowns, Russia probe revelations and a midterm election in which the Democrats are increasingly favored to take back at least one house of Congress. The tax bill, with most of its benefits going to corporations and the rich, will provide ample fodder for the campaigns ahead.”

Subsequently, the US House of Representatives approved another short-term funding bill until January 19, 2018 to keep the federal government running.

Europe Worried About Trump’s Tax Reform

Deutsche Welle wrote on December 19:

“European finance ministers are worried. They say the US’s big tax reform bill contains measures that would unfairly disadvantage European business and contravene global fair-taxation rules…

“Last week, the finance ministers of Europe’s five biggest economies — Germany, France, the UK, Spain and Italy — wrote an anxious letter to their American colleague, US Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin, and copied it to all senior Republican politicians in the Congress and Senate. The letter’s thrust: The draft US tax bill would… represent a thinly disguised form of trade war. ‘The United States is Europe’s single most important trade and investment partner,’ the finance ministers wrote… A day later, a similar letter was sent to Mnuchin by the European Commission’s four most senior economic officials and made many of the same points. The two letters didn’t get much of an answer — at least not a public one…

“Are the criticisms from Europe justified? In a word: Yes…  The US… proposes to play unfairly by taxing profits that have already been taxed in Europe…”

Whatever is happening in the USA these days causes opposition in foreign countries, especially in Europe.

The Trump “Tax-Cut” Will Complicate the Tax System

The Week wrote on December 18:

“You’ll be able to file your taxes on a postcard. That was the sales pitch the Republican Party made when it started out on tax reform. The whole idea was to make the tax code simpler and fairer. Now the House and Senate have hashed out a final compromise bill… So how did they do at living up to their promise? Not good.

“Jammed through at incredible speed, with virtually no public hearings or debate, the tax bill is a complete mess of glitches, opaque wording, and complications. Despite the bill’s rapid-fire pace, a group of tax experts was able to survey the tax code changes and compile at least some of the major problems. Not only will the Republicans’ tax bill increase the ways the wealthy and connected can game the tax code and avoid paying their fair share — it will likely make the tax system vastly more complicated, not less…”

Saudi Arabia vs. Yemen and Iran

The Sun wrote on December 19:

“A MISSILE fired at Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh was shot down moments before it hit a royal palace today… The Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information tweeted: ‘Coalition forces confirm intercepting an Iranian-Houthi missile targeting south of Riyadh.’…

“[A previous] November 4 attack triggered the tightening of a longstanding Saudi-led blockade of Yemen – already on the verge of famine. Saudi Arabia angrily accused its arch foe Iran of supplying the missile to the rebels, a charge Tehran strongly denied.

“On Thursday, US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley presented what she called ‘undeniable’ evidence that last month’s missile was ‘made in Iran’. A brutal civil war has been raging in Yemen for over two years and the conflict has claimed over 16,000 lives. A military alliance led by Saudi Arabia has launched thousands of air strikes against the Houthi movement, which now controls much of Yemen.”

Germany Still Looking for a Government

Deutsche Welle wrote on December 20:

“Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the center-left Social Democrats have agreed to start talks on forming a government on January 7. The exploratory talks should end by January 12… The results of the exploratory talks will then be discussed within each their parliamentary parties and among the parties’ respective boards and Merkel’s CDU…

“Last Friday, Schulz announced that the parties had agreed to start preliminary talks although the SPD carefully noted that it wanted to keep open the possibility of a softer ‘cooperative coalition,’ while the CDU is mainly interested in forming a grand coalition… To date, the longest Germany has gone without a ruling government coalition was the 86 days that the CDU, CSU and SPD needed to agree to a grand coalition under Merkel’s leadership in 2013. The current talks have now surpassed that record.”

Key Positions for FPO in Austria’s New Government

Deutsche Welle wrote on December 16:

“People’s Party (OVP) leader Sebastian Kurz will become the next chancellor and coalition partner Freedom Party (FPO) head Heinz-Christian Strache [successor to the late Joerg Haider] will become vice-chancellor in the new Austrian government. Strache will also be minister for sports and public servants. Five other ministries go to Strache’s Freedom Party. They include the key interior, defense and foreign ministries.

“Kurz’s People’s Party will have seven ministers and one deputy. They include the finance, economy and justice ministries.”

Austria’s New Government Sworn In

The Huffington Post wrote on December 18:

“Austria’s new coalition government was sworn in on Monday, which includes members from the far-right Freedom Party for the first time in more than a decade… European countries met the ascendance of the new coalition with caution.

“… Austria’s president, Alexander Van der Bellen, announced his approval of the new coalition on Saturday after being promised that the new leaders would take on ‘a pro-European direction.’ ‘Sebastian Kurz and Heinz-Christian Strache have assured me that Austria is and will remain a strong country in the heart of Europe and that it will play an active role in the future shaping of the E.U.,’ Van der Bellen said…

“When Austria’s far-right Freedom Party entered government in the year 2000, there was an international backlash and harsh warnings from the country’s closest allies. The European Union imposed several months of sanctions on Austria, and Israel recalled its ambassador in protest. At the time, European governments believed an openly xenophobic party that was founded in the 1950s by a former Nazi SS officer and embraced nationalist views needed to be collectively isolated and contained. But in the years since, Europe has radically changed how it sees the far right… there are none of the same warnings from the EU today…”

Deepening Relationship with Germany

Deutsche Welle added on December 18:

“Austria’s new right-of-center coalition government wants to further deepen relations with Germany, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Monday before he assumed office. ‘Many personal, economic, political and cultural ties bind us to Germany,’ [he] told Germany’s Bild newspaper…

“As foreign minister, Kurz frequently criticized Berlin over immigration policy, and FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache once called German Chancellor Angela Merkel ‘the most dangerous woman in Europe.’… While Vienna’s incoming government encountered mixed responses in Germany, Merkel’s conservative Bavarian allies, the CSU, have been positive. ‘With Sebastian Kurz, Bavaria and Germany have one more ally in Europe,’ Alexander Dobrindt, the head of the CSU’s parliamentary group in the German Bundestag, told Die Welt newspaper…”

Maintaining its Distance

The Jewish Press wrote on December 18:

“The State of Israel is maintaining its distance in dealing with the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) in Austria’s new coalition government, according to a statement issued by the government on Monday (Dec 18.)…

“The European Jewish Congress (EJC) expressed ‘grave concern’ over reports of the new coalition. ‘The FPÖ has a long history of anti-Semitism and xenophobia and we are concerned about the fact that they will control government ministries in the new Austrian government,’ said Dr. Moshe Kantor, president of the EJC. ‘However, we hope that rather than as expected — that the Freedom Party will have an undue influence on the direction of the government led by the People’s Party — the Chancellor and his party will be able to discipline the intolerant elements within the FPÖ.’”

Historically, Hitler was not taken seriously either and his initial declarations of friendship and cooperation with the Jews were readily and naively believed… so much so that initially, Jewish bankers supported him and his party.

Friendlier Ties with Russia

The EUObserver wrote on December 18:

“Kurz’s coalition wants to see friendlier relations with Russia, and says that EU sanctions are a source of unwelcome tension.

“Tusk wrote a letter to Kurz on Monday, saying he trusts the Austrian government will continue to play a constructive and pro-European role in the European Union. Austria is the latest country to add to the sceptical chorus within the EU about the effectiveness of Russian sanctions…”

Friendlier ties with Russia will be very temporary, if at all. Note the next article.

Russia Practiced Full-Scale Invasion of Europe

The Sun wrote on December 20:

“RUSSIA has practised a full-scale mock invasion of the West that includes capturing Baltic states, bombing Germany and invading neutral countries, it has been revealed. The terrifying war drills were carried out in September and featured troops, artillery, tanks, missile attacks and naval and air force raids. At the time, Putin claimed the exercises were for anti-terror purposes and were purely defensive in nature. However, [Bild Online] reported that the drills were a dry-run for a ‘shock campaign’ against Western European NATO countries…

“Over two days, Russian fighter jets also flew mock sorties through the Baltic and North Seas, swooping down onto the edges of Germany and the Netherlands. These were designed to be a practice run for destroying high-value targets such as power reactors, airports and other forces, including naval battalions, practised invading neutral Finland, as well as Sweden, Norway and Poland…

“General Petr Pavel, head of NATO’s military committee, warned in September: ‘All together, what we see is a serious preparation for big war… when we look it in the big picture, we have to be worried, because Russia was not transparent.’”

The Bible tells us that Europe will be so worried in the future because of rumors from the East, that they will attack countries such as Russia and China.

Catalonia: Separatist Groups Win Absolute Majority

Deutsche Welle wrote on December 21:

“[O]usted regional President Carles Puigdemont was set to regain power in Catalonia after his… party captured 34 seats. Together with the 36 seats of the two other pro-independence parties, the separatists are headed for an absolute majority in the 135-seat regional parliament…

“Speaking from exile in Brussels, Puigdemont called the election a victory for the ‘Catalan Republic’ as well as a ‘slap in the face’ to Spanish Prime MinisterMariano Rajoy…

“Catalan National Assembly Vice President Agusti Alcoberro… demanded the release of imprisoned secessionist politicians and ‘the restitution of the government,’ sacked by Madrid…

“The pro-independence forces garnering an absolute majority could be a significant blow to the government of Prime Minister Rajoy [In fact, it is a total disaster for the Spanish government.]The vote on Thursday had been ordered by Rajoy in the aftermath of a highly contested independence referendum on October 1 and a subsequent unilateral declaration of independence, both of which were ruled unconstitutional. The central government in Madrid also sacked Puigdemont’s regional government and took direct control of the region

“Deposed regional President Puigdemont campaigned for his pro-independence… party from Brussels, where he had fled to avoid imprisonment by the Spanish authorities. Other pro-independence leaders currently in jail in Spain… campaigned… through letters, social media and prison-time phone calls.”

The question is, what will be Spain’s next move, since previous actions backfired terribly.

Bitcoin Threat to Banks and Worldwide Economy?

The Independent wrote on December 14:

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes banks are going the way of the dinosaur, and bitcoin may be the meteor that brings about its extinction. The head of state appeared on a youtube video posted December 12 where he ponders in Hebrew ‘Is the fate of banks that they will eventually disappear? Yes. The answer is yes.’ He continued: ‘Does it need to happen tomorrow? And do we need to do it through Bitcoin? That’s a question mark.’

“The 70-second video shows Netanyahu discussing the function of banks, which he says act as middlemen and to protect their customers by offsetting risks and preventing theft… ‘The truth behind what I just said is what’s propelling bitcoin upwards,’ Netanyahu concluded.”

Express added on December 18:

“Independent research analyst Ronnie Moas predicted over the summer that the value in Bitcoin would reach as high as $5,000 (£3,738) when the digital currency was trading at just $2,600 (£1,943). Since then, Bitcoin has surged to $20,000 (£13,582) in value as of Monday, according to prices tracked on Coinbase.

“Now, Mr Moas, the founder of Standpoint research, claims the growth will shoot above $300,000 (£224,280) and become the ‘most valuable currency in the world’. He told CNBC: ‘Bitcoin is already up 500 per cent since I recommended it in the beginning of July, and I’m looking for another 500 per cent move from here. His claims are based on the idea that since only 21million Bitcoin can ever exist, increasing demand for the digital currency will naturally drive its price up, he said.

“Mr Moas said: ‘I don’t know how much gold there is in the ground, but I know how much bitcoin there is, and in two years there will be 300 million people in the world trying to get their hands on a few million bitcoin. ‘This mind-blogging supply and demand imbalance is what is going to drive the higher price.’… [a] study by Anglia Ruskin University, Trinity College Dublin and Dublin City University released on Friday said Bitcoin could pose a threat to [and could have a “knock-out effect” on] to the financial stability of traditional currencies and markets.”

These developments are not surprising in light of the incompetency, untrustworthiness, unproductivity and deceptive conduct of many banks.

Acknowledgement and Disclaimer

These Current Events are compiled and commented on by Norbert Link. We gratefully acknowledge the many contributions of news articles from our readership. The publication of articles in this section is not to be viewed as an endorsement or approval as to contents or accuracy of the selected articles, but they are published for the purpose of pointing at worldwide developments in the light of biblical end-time prophecy and godly instruction. Our own comments are provided in italics.

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