Current Events

US–The Fading Superpower

Last week, published an interesting article, asking whether the United States was “fading as superpower.”

In the article, it was stated:

“For the past five years, since the 9/11 attacks, US President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have helped shape key world events. But now, some influential media and political critics are saying that both men, and the US in particular, no longer can get the world to do as they wish. In a recent article entitled, ‘Axis of Feeble,’ the Economist argues that ‘the debacle in Iraq and problems at home have turned both leaders from soaring hawks into the lamest of ducks.’… an era is plainly drawing to an end… For those who would ‘rejoice’ at the end of this partnership [between Bush and Blair], because of the idea that ‘in a world of one superpower, some say, people are safer when its president is too weak for foreign adventures,’ the Economist says they are wrong…

“’s OnPoint recently looked at the question ‘Is America losing its luster?’ The conclusion reached by panelists on the show was that while the US continues to be militarily powerful, the ‘notion of irresistible power’ no longer is the case. David Kennedy, professor of history at Stanford University, argued that the US is learning ‘[t]he world is a recalcitant place and does not yield itself to us easily.’ He added that the notion the US could shape the world as it wished proved to be an illusion. The US is learning the lesson that all great powers have learned, Kennedy said, that no matter how much power a country has, the world will not just go along with its wishes…”United Press International reports that a new survey by the Pew Research Center, part of a new book ‘America against the World,’ also illustrates the problem for the US. More than 70 percent of the 91,000 people around the world interviewed for the survey believe that the US needs a rival superpower… The survey found anti-American sentiment is at its highest level ever…”

The Bible prophesies that America’s status as a superpower will gradually disappear. For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.”

USA and Europe Just Different

AFP reported on May 24:

“The United States is trying to rally its [European] partners behind plans to build a missile shield… Washington hopes to set up around 10 ‘interceptor’ missiles in central Europe, possibly in Poland or the Czech Republic, to ward off potential attacks with ballistic missiles, perhaps from countries like Iran… ‘There is a growing threat of long-range missile attack on NATO territory and it is timely to examine ways and means of addressing that threat’ in Europe, said Marshall Billingslea, head of NATO’s Conference of National Armaments Directors…”

However, the European reaction is less than enthusiastic and shows again the different perspectives of the two power blocs–even when they relate to such important matters as national and international defense. The article pointed out:

“‘There is a difference in perception. America is looking at protection from strategic missile attacks from places like China, North Korea and Iran. Europe doesn’t believe that’s a threat,’ said Andrew Brookes, from the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.”… Europe is unlikely to act too hastily. ‘On the European side, there is an almost categorical refusal to take decisions on the run,’ said Rik Coolsaet, from the Royal Institute of International Relations in Brussels. ‘Politically, Europeans understand that there is a potential danger from the Iranians but it is not a danger they see likely in the short term,’ he said, adding: ‘the sense of urgency is far less present in Europe than in the United States.’ Another obstacle — and a big one — to accepting the US plan is that it remains to be seen whether such a missile shield can actually work. ‘We are being asked — us, the Europeans — to make a huge investment to… a programme which, even in the United States, is not believed to be ready,’ said Coolsaet. ‘It isn’t working,’ Brookes said of the missile shield plan… ‘German politicians, French politicians and British politicians do not regard Pyongyang as about to launch anything in the foreseeable future at a European capital, they just don’t,’ he said.”

However, future developments might surprise everybody.

Pope Benedict’s “Bold Moves”

The Associated Press reported on May 19:

“Even as he was dogged by claims of sexual abuse, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ religious order remained a favorite of Pope John Paul II. On Friday, Pope Benedict XVI showed a bold willingness to correct his beloved predecessor by disciplining the Mexican priest. It’s the latest move by Benedict away from John Paul’s legacy… The Vatican asked the prominent cleric to stop celebrating Mass publicly and live a life of ‘prayer and penance’–effectively making him a priest in name only. In a statement, the 86-year-old Maciel insisted he was innocent, but accepted the Vatican’s punishment.

“The pope has made other changes that highlight his differences with John Paul. Benedict recently insisted on strict adherence to rules for naming saints, which will inevitably slow the process of canonization. By contrast, John Paul named an unprecedented number of saints during his 26-year papacy. Benedict has also cracked down on another movement that John Paul admired–the Neocatechumenal Way. The pope said the group had to change its innovative practices to celebrate Mass and take Holy Communion the same way other Catholics do…

“There were early signs that Benedict would aggressively take on transgressors among the faithful. Just before he became pope, he decried ‘filth’ in the church–a statement largely taken as a reference to the clergy sex abuse crisis. Still, when the cardinals elected Benedict in April 2005, many observers interpreted the vote as a desire for continuity. Benedict, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, had served for more than two decades under the late pontiff as the Vatican’s orthodoxy watchdog and had enormous influence in the church. But [Thomas] Reese, [former editor of the Jesuit magazine America], said, ‘Benedict is not a clone of John Paul. When he was Cardinal Ratzinger, Benedict didn’t shy away from taking people on even if it meant bad press,’ said Reese, who resigned as America editor under pressure from Ratzinger. ‘He does what he thinks is right.'”

The Catholic Church will play a dominant role in the near future. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy.”

FCC Declined To Investigate

USA Today reported on May 24:

“The Federal Communications Commission declined Tuesday to investigate whether a spy agency has access to millions of Americans’ telephone records. It cited the secrecy of the National Security Agency. The decision drew a call for congressional hearings from a Democratic congressman who had requested a probe. ‘The FCC has abdicated its responsibility to protect Americans’ privacy to the National Security Agency without even asking a single question about it,’ Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said. Markey had asked the regulatory panel to look into a report in USA TODAY that the NSA has been secretly collecting the phone call records with the help of telecommunications companies.

“FCC Chairman Kevin Martin wrote Markey that ‘the classified nature of the NSA’s activities make us unable to investigate the alleged violations’ of privacy. Martin cited written testimony by John Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, and Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, the NSA’s director, that disclosure of any information could ’cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States.’ Their declarations were made in response to a lawsuit in federal court in California. AT&T was sued there in January by the privacy rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation for violating customer privacy by turning over telephone data to the government. The Justice Department has asked that the case be dismissed…”

The article continued:

“USA TODAY reported May 11 that the NSA secretly collected call records with the help of three companies: AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth. USA TODAY reported the records include information on calls made before and after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism attacks. Verizon and BellSouth released statements last week denying they provided the NSA with call information. A Verizon spokesman said the company’s statement did not include MCI, the long-distance company that Verizon acquired in January. President Bush has not confirmed or denied the report but said that intelligence activities he authorized were legal and that the government was not looking into ordinary Americans’ personal lives.”

Alarming Bird Flu Developments

Reuters reported on May 24 about the long-feared possibility that the bird flu virus might mutate–by transmitting the disease from human to human. The article stated:

“Limited human-to-human transmission of bird flu might have occurred in an Indonesian family… The WHO and Indonesian health officials are baffled over the source of the infection but genetic sequencing has shown the H5N1 bird flu virus has not mutated, the U.N. agency said… The WHO statement came after one of the family members, a 32-year-old father, died on Monday after caring for his ailing son, who had died earlier. The agency said such close contact was considered a possible source of infection… But another WHO spokesman said the agency was worried. ‘This is the most significant development so far in terms of public health,’ Peter Cordingley, spokesman for the West Pacific region of the WHO, told Reuters Television in the Philippine capital on Wednesday. ‘We have never had a cluster as large as this. We have not had in the past what we have here, which is no explanation as to how these people became infected. We can’t find sick animals in this community and that worries us,’ he added.”

Notwithstanding “reassuring” statements from some experts who may OR MAY NOT know the facts, these are alarming and frightening developments. It is understandable that some within the WHO want to calm down any “over-reaction”– but how truthful and helpful is this in light of comments from others within the WHO, who seem to be worried? Wouldn’t it be high time for this world to turn to GOD–the CREATOR of man–who ALONE can and does control and prevent the outbreak of diseases? Notice what God told ancient Israel in Exodus 15:26: “If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you.” Sadly, this world has moved so far away from God that any suggestion to RETURN to Him and obtain protection from disease epidemics is being met with indifference, ridicule or outright rejection.

More Hurricanes Are Coming

CBS News reported on May 22:

“This year’s North Atlantic hurricane season will be ‘very active,’ spawning eight to 10 hurricanes, the U.S.-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday… NOAA’s outlook, published on its website, predicts: There will likely be 13 to 16 named storms, including tropical storms and hurricanes, compared with the 11 named storms seen in an average season. Eight to 10 of this year’s named storms will become hurricanes, meaning they will have sustained winds of at least 119 km/h, compared with the annual average of six. Four to six of the hurricanes will reach an intensity of at least Category 3, with sustained winds of at least 178 km/h, though on average each season experiences only two. The 2006 North Atlantic hurricane season begins on June 1.”

The article continued:

“Even now, repaired levees are not strong enough to protect New Orleans from a direct hit by a Category 3 storm, a new report released Monday warned… Predictions of more storms than usual in 2005 were dead-on. Forecasters ran out of names for the tropical storms and hurricanes, having to dip into the Greek alphabet when the standard alphabetic list of 21 names was exhausted. At the end of the day, the 2005 North Atlantic season included 28 storms, seven more than the previous record of 21 storms in 1933. Four of them – Emily, Katrina, Rita and Wilma – reached Category 5, the top level of intensity, with sustained winds of at least 250 km/h at some point in their existence.”

U.S. Senate Votes on Illegal Immigration Issues

The Washington Times reported on May 19:

“The Senate voted yesterday to allow illegal aliens to collect Social Security benefits based on past illegal employment — even if the job was obtained through forged or stolen documents… The Senate also yesterday approved an amendment to adopt English as the nation’s official language… In addition, senators voted last night to kill an amendment that would have specified that the guest-worker program will not provide visas that would provide a path to citizenship.”

Iran Is Preparing For War

The Jerusalem Post reported on May 23:

“Iran conducted a test launch Tuesday night of the Shihab-3 intermediate-range ballistic missile, which is capable of reaching Israel and US targets in the region, Israel Radio reported… ‘What deters the enemy from launching an aggression is the resistance’s continuous readiness to respond,’ [Hizbullah leader Hassan] Nasrallah told scores of supporters. ‘Northern Israel today is within the range of the resistance’s rockets. The ports, bases, factories and everything is within that range.'”

The article continued:

“[Israel’s] Maj. Elyakim, commander of the Arrow missile battery at Palmahim, told The Jerusalem Post last month that the missile crews were always on high alert, but that they were recently instructed to ‘raise their level of awareness’ because of developments on the Iranian front. The Arrow missile, he said, could intercept and destroy any Iranian missile fired at Israel, including ones carrying non-conventional warheads. Experts believe that if Iran is attacked by Israel or the US, Teheran would respond by firing long-range ballistic missiles at Israel.”

Iraq’s New Government–Good or Bad News?

Der Spiegel Online reported on May 22 about the reaction of the German press to Iraq’s new government.

The magazine commented: “Five bloody months after Iraqis turned out to vote for their first freely-elected parliament, Baghdad has a working government — minus a few important ministers. German papers are divided on whether this amounts to a triumph for democracy… the day was marked by suicide bombings around Iraq and a walkout by Sunnis in the parliament chamber (to protest slim Sunni representation). The cabinet also wasn’t complete — three crucial ministers hadn’t been named. Observers said it was a symptom of deep divisions in Iraq that defense, interior, and national security jobs were still vacant, since those ministries need strong leaders to control Iraq’s security forces and quell the Sunni uprising…

“German newspapers on Monday can’t decide if the news is good. The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung sounds optimistic… The Financial Times Deutschland agrees. The lack of key ministers ‘may sound like a joke, given the security situation in Iraq,’ and yes, it took a long time for the government to form, but the presence of Sunnis in the cabinet is already an important step forward, writes the paper…

“Center-right daily Die Welt, however, is a lot more pessimistic. Its editors think Prime Minister al-Maliki has gotten off to a weak start… ‘How far Maliki has succeeded is clear from his appointments to key ministries: Not at all.’ The paper doesn’t believe non-partisan or ‘neutral’ politicians exist in Iraq… So the US probably won’t pull troops anytime soon. ‘AN AMERICAN STRATEGIC SUCCESS IN IRAQ, in other words a functioning, democratic, pro-western government,’ writes the paper, ‘IS SIMPLY NOT SHAPING UP.'”

Who Is Safe in Germany?

Der Spiegel Online reported on May 22:

“The furor over Germany’s image in advance of the World Cup roiled straight through the weekend after an assault in Berlin on a Turkish-born politician seemed to confirm warnings last week that non-white tourists might want to avoid parts of the country. Giyasettin Sayan, a 56-year-old member of Berlin’s regional assembly, was hospitalized after two men attacked him with a bottle on Friday in his own ward of Lichtenberg. The incident seemed to confirm a controversial warning made only two days before by Uwe-Karsten Heye, a former spokesman for Gerhard Schröder, that World Cup tourists should be warned [to stay] away from ‘small and mid-sized towns in Brandenburg,’ where neo-Nazi thugs were active. This time, tellingly, the incident was no provincial freakshow: It happened in the tolerant, cosmopolitan capital.

“‘Police say this wasn’t a targeted attack on Giyasettin Sayan — and that’s not comforting at all,’ writes the center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung. Sayan represents the neo-Communist Left Party in Berlin, and Lichtenberg has a known skinhead problem: If he wasn’t a target, the paper implies, then anyone can get hurt. ‘In Berlin, in eastern Germany, and even in western Germany it’s dangerous to walk around at night in the wrong neighborhood with the wrong skin color, beard, or length of hair,’ write the editors. Uwe-Karsten Heye’s warnings last week — which upset some conservative German politicians and soccer authorities — ‘weren’t just yanked out of thin air.'”

“The left-wing Berliner Zeitung thinks World Cup visitors need to be warned, officially, about certain parts of Berlin. ‘Immigrants with a sense of Berlin avoid these places out of experience,’ the commentator writes, but ‘the city senate should warn foreign visitors to be careful in these risky neighborhoods. Berlin authorities openly worry about the city’s name. But considering that a neo-Nazi attack during the World Cup would be even worse — how many people have to get hurt before the concern for the physical integrity of our guests becomes more important than our image?'”

Russia vs. EU

On May 22, The EUobserver reported about Russia’s misgivings regarding the enlargement of the EU. The article stated:

“The EU’s new member states are spoiling Moscow’s relationship with the bloc due to ‘phantom pains of the past,’ a top Russian diplomat [Vladimir Chizhov, Moscow’s ambassador to the EU] has commented in the run up to the EU-Russia summit this week. ‘With enlargement, the EU has not become an easier partner for us,’ [he said]… The Kremlin has seen several problematic issues come up with some of the countries from central and eastern Europe that joined the bloc in May 2004.”

The article continued:

“Disputes with the ex-Soviet republics–Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania–involving political wording around border agreement texts and the treatment of Russian minorities in the Baltic countries have strained relations… Poland, the biggest of the ten 2004 entrants, also features on Moscow’s list of prickly newcomers. Apart from its support to opposition forces in Ukraine and Belarus, Warsaw has been one of the most outspoken critics of Russia’s energy policy, accusing the Kremlin of using its gas reserves as a means of blackmailing western neighbours. Poland is particularly vexed about a gas pipeline project to link Russia and Germany via the Baltic Sea bypassing Poland, with the country’s defence minister Radek Sikorski comparing the deal to a pre-World War II Nazi-Soviet pact partitioning Poland. Russia’s months-long blockade of Polish food imports and Moscow’s refusal to grant the Stalinist massacre of Polish officers and intelligentsia in Katyn in 1940 ‘genocide’ status are also bones of contention.”

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