Current Events

Dangerously Dependent

With this headline, U.S. News & World Report described in its February 9, 2004 edition, the U.S. dependency on others for its energy, its capital, and its labor. The article pointed out: “The world’s only superpower is becoming increasingly vulnerable to an ever expanding dependence on other nations… Our national policies are leading the United States, at the height of its strength, toward diminished economic and political power and unprecedented vulnerability to external forces that we may, one day, not be able to control. Never before has the United States followed policies that are certain to create dependence and vulnerability.” It was then explained that the U.S. is “reliant on the rest of the world” for its energy supply and on “foreign immigration to meet its labor force requirements,” which was described as “principally the result of so many businesses being unwilling to pay a fair living wage to our native workforce to fill those jobs.” The article also stated that “the most striking evidence of our national dependence is the U.S. trade deficit… Almost half of U.S. treasury bonds are now owned in Asia.”

The article concluded: “The trend away from national self-reliance, in general, is something that the Bush administration has been either unable or unwilling to take on. The Democrats are just as reluctant. [This] should concern all Americans.”

Stretched Thin

With this headline, U.S. News & World Report discussed in its February 9, 2004 edition, the problems faced by the U.S. military. The article stated: “The recently authorized Pentagon budget rings in at $401 billion, the LARGEST IN REAL TERMS SINCE THE REAGAN ERA. Yet at the same time, the active-duty military force–at 1.4 million–is one-third smaller in size than it was under Ronald Reagan, and THE DEMANDS ON IT ARE GREATER THAN AT ANY TIME SINCE THE VIETNAM WAR, when the military was twice as large. Exactly 30 years after the draft was abolished, the all-volunteer military is confronting its first great crisis. A Bush administration that came into office pledging to cut missions–and planning further cuts in the force–is now immersed in a war likely to be measured in years instead of months… After making quick work of Saddam Hussein’s eviscerated military during the war, the relatively small U.S. force in Iraq was quickly overwhelmed by the enormous task of nation building.”

One can only imagine the emergence of future momentous problems and challenges, should the United States decide to get involved in further military actions against other countries, in addition to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Pentagon report predicts worldwide famines and wars

As AFP reported on February 22, “a secret report prepared by the Pentagon warns that climate change may lead to global catastrophe costing millions of lives and is A FAR GREATER THREAT THAN TERRORISM.” According to the article, the report predicts that “abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies… Once again, warfare would define human life.” The report predicted the following possible scenarios:

“Britain will have winters similar to those in current-day Siberia as European temperatures drop off radically by 2020. By 2007 violent storms will make large parts of the Netherlands uninhabitable and lead to a breach in the aqueduct system in California that supplies all water to densely populated southern California. Europe and the United States become ‘virtual fortresses’ trying to keep out millions of migrants whose homelands have been wiped out by rising sea levels or made unfarmable by drought. ‘Catastrophic’ shortages of potable water and energy will lead to widespread war by 2020.”

The article continued that Randall, one of the authors of the report, “called his findings ‘depressing stuff’ and warned that it might even be too late to prevent future disasters.”

Bird Flu On the Rise

As Bild Online reported last week, the bird flu has now affected cats. Scientists are alarmed. When the flu virus “jumps” to another kind, the risk that it will affect humans increases. This is especially true for house cats which live in close proximity to man. The bird flu has also reached Canada by now. In addition, migrating birds, like the stork, have been affected as well. This is especially troublesome as those birds migrate up to 16,000 kilometers. They could thereby carry the disease to other countries and areas within a short time. U.S. News & World Report stated on February 9, 2004, in its article, “Playing chicken with the flu,” that the explosive emergence of this pathogen in so many different countries at once is unprecedented… and alarming. Already the disease has killed millions of chickens and led to the slaughter of many millions more in an attempt to contain it. More ominous, this bird flu has jumped the species barrier, infecting a minimum of 11 people and killing at least eight.” The article continued: “The real scare is that we could be watching a human flu pandemic in the making.. Adding to the urgency is evidence that our usual weapons against flu might not work well against an avian pandemic… It is an open question whether an effective vaccine could be ready for mass use if the avian flu becomes a human threat.”

AIDS Catastrophe in Eastern Europe

As News-Networld reported on February 24, 2004, Aids is presently exploding in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. While 300,000 were infected with the HIV virus in 1995, it is now more than 1,5 million people. More than 90 percent of those infected have no access to life-prolonging medicine. Ireland’s Minister President Bertie Ahern stated that AIDS must be taken as seriously as terrorism, echoing the sentiments of experts that it is within Europe’s interest to fight the disease, given the fact “that the EU with 500 million people will soon be the strongest economic power in the world.”

Anti-Semitism in Europe

As A.P. reported on February 19, “European Commission President Romano Prodi said he will ask EU justice and interior affairs ministers to take a lead role in fighting anti-Semitism. He said the campaign ‘calls for law enforcement measures as well as preemptive action in the field of education.’ In turn, he asked Jewish leaders not to equate European criticism of Israeli government policies with anti-Jewish sentiments.” If this advice would have been followed by German politicians and the German press in the Juergen Moellemann affair, the tragic outcome of his apparent suicide might perhaps have been avoided.

California’s ongoing debacle

As A.P. reported, “California is quickly running out of cash and is bracing for acute financial pain after three years of political procrastination and budget bungling. Now voters must decide if it makes more sense to approve a $15 billion bailout bond that might extend the misery for a decade or more, or suffer it more quickly through temporary tax increases and deep spending cuts… In either case, it’s clear that the time has finally come for California to balance its checkbook — the state will literally run out of money unless Schwarzenegger and the legislature find a way to produce $14 billion by June 16. If voters refuse to authorize the bond under Proposition 57 on the March 2 ballot, Schwarzenegger says he’ll have to make ‘Armageddon’ spending cuts that will make California a less desirable place to live.”

Worldwide Earthquakes

On February 24, a powerful 6.5 earthquake struck northern Morocco early Tuesday, killing at least 600 people. The press also reported that Monday evening, unrelated earthquakes with a magnitude of 5.1 hit the Alps region in southeast France. The tremors were felt in Freiburg, Germany, as well as in Basel, Switzerland. In addition, an earthquake with the magnitude of 4.5 or 5.0 hit Macedonia on Tuesday morning. No injuries or damages were reported.

Mel Gibson’s New Movie on Jesus

As Reuters reported on February 24, 2004, “many scholars complain” that Mel Gibson’s new movie on the passion of Christ “is riddled with historical errors.” Concerning the movie, this is a summary from (2/20/2004): “This film’s script is based upon several sources, including the diaries of St. Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824) as collected in the book, ‘The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ’, ‘The Mystical City of God’ by St. Mary of Agreda, and the New Testament books of John, Luke, Mark and Matthew.”

In addition, some scholars explain that Jesus would not have talked to Pilate in Latin, as depicted in the film. The most interesting mistake deals, however, with hairstyle. The article pointed out:

“‘He has a long-haired Jesus… JESUS DIDN’T HAVE LONG HAIR,’ said physical anthropologist Joe Zias, who has studied hundreds of skeletons found in archaeological digs in Jerusalem. ‘Jewish men back in antiquity DID NOT HAVE LONG HAIR.’ ‘The Jewish texts ridiculed long hair as something Roman or Greek,’ said New York University’s Lawrence Schiffman. Along with extensive writings from the period, experts also point to a frieze on Rome’s Arch of Titus, erected after Jerusalem was captured in AD 70 to celebrate the victory, which shows Jewish men WITH SHORT HAIR taken into captivity. ERRONEOUS DEPICTIONS OF JESUS IN WESTERN ART HAVE OFTEN MISLED FILM MAKERS IN THEIR PORTRAYAL OF JESUS, EXPERTS SAID.”

According to the article, others criticize the “historical accuracy” of the movie, by challenging the historical accuracy of the Bible itself. Such self-serving complaints must, of course, be disregarded and rejected.

Regarding the inaccuracy of hair length, however, those concerns are valid. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:14: “Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him?” It is therefore inconceivable that Christ would have worn long hair. This fact has been pointed out by the Church of God for over 50 years.

News from the Catholic Church reported on February 20, 2004, that most Catholic school books in the United States do not accurately depict official Catholic teaching. Some textbooks avoid saying adultery and premarital sex are sins, while others downplay the spiritual value of the Bible. Archbishop Alfred Hughes of New Orleans complained that “our young people are not learning… that the sole Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church,” thereby upholding the long-standing teaching of the Catholic Church that it, and it alone, is the true Church.

In other news, the Netzeitung reported on February 20 that Bishop Mueller, of Regensburg, Germany, has issued a decree prohibiting his Catholic parishioners from going to court against other Catholics, in regard to issues involving Church matters. He referred to Matthew 5:25. He could also, of course, have referred to 1 Corinthians 6:1-6. In the U.S., it has been a long-standing legal concept that the courts of the land will not rule over church-related matters, such as the termination of a minister from the church. However, the application of such a law is not that clear at all in Germany; hence, the decree of the Roman Catholic Bishop.

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