Current Events

USA, Israel and Australia vs. the Rest of the World

UPI reported on November 18:

“Israel’s ambassador walked out on the United Nations session that resulted in a strong call to Israel to end its military operations in the Gaza Strip. The 192-member General Assembly voted Friday night 156-7, with six abstentions, in favor of the non-binding resolution in an emergency special session. The United States, Israel and Australia voted against the document, while all the European Union members supported it after last-minute changes were made to soften the tone. Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman conducted a news conference nearby and blasted the session as a ‘farce’ and a ‘circus.’ U.S. Ambassador John Bolton called the resolution ‘one-sided’ and said its adoption would only ‘increase tension and serve the interests of those hostile to Israel and that do not accept Israel’s right to exist.'”

Little Positive Change in the Middle East

Der Spiegel Online reported on November 21 about the popularity of President George W. Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, as well as the current unchanged situation in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip:

“Both men have enjoyed few successes recently. Olmert is just as unpopular in Israel as Bush is in the United States. He has only been in office since last spring, and he has been isolated since the invasion of Lebanon…
“Israel made a number of mistakes in rapid succession, mistakes for which Bush’s America, with its theory of war as a suitable tool for bringing about change, is partly responsible. The invasion in Lebanon was based on the illusion that Hezbollah, under its leader Hassan Nasrallah, could be dealt a devastating and possibly quick military defeat. But when faced with large numbers of civilian casualties, Olmert was eventually forced to agree to a cease-fire. An international force has now been deployed to the region to keep the peace, but Israel has little confidence in its effectiveness, as evidenced by Israeli military aircraft routinely flying over German ships and ignoring Lebanon’s territorial sovereignty. In taking such action, the Olmert administration is in violation of United Nations resolutions.

“Little has changed in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian militants are still firing Qassam rockets into Israel, but their range and availability have increased, thereby increasing the risk of Israelis being killed or wounded. The rocket attacks are met with retaliatory action by the Israeli air force and army. In an inadvertent attack on Nov. 8, the Israelis ended up massacring 19 civilians, including women and small children, in the town of Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip…

“The Iraq war has only exacerbated the problem, because it has fueled the rise of the radical Hamas in Palestine and Hezbollah in Lebanon — and, of course, Iran’s push to become a nuclear power. Israel still has the monopoly on nuclear weapons in the region, although it has never admitted to being a nuclear power… With the military deprived of its mystique, the people disappointed and the administration weakened, Israel now even faces the prospect of waning support from its traditional ally, the US.”

Anti-Syrian Minister Murdered in Lebanon

AFP reported on November 21:

“Lebanese Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel has been assassinated in a northern Beirut suburb in the latest in a spate of attacks to target anti-Syrian politicians… The head of the anti-Syrian majority in parliament, Saad Hariri, interrupted a press conference to accuse the Syrian regime of ‘trying to kill every free person’ in Lebanon. ‘The cycle (of killings) has resumed,’ he said. He was referring to a spate of assassinations and attempts in the past two years. These included the murder of his own father, five-time premier Rafiq Hariri, in a massive bomb blast on the Beirut seafront in February last year… The Syrian regime has denied links with the attacks.”

Britain’s Intervention in Iraq a “Disaster”?

The Daily Mail reported on November 18:

“Tony Blair admitted that British intervention in Iraq has been a disaster last night–sending shockwaves through Westminster. In his frankest admission about the war to date, Mr Blair admitted that Western forces have been powerless to stop the descent into violence… Challenged by veteran interviewer Sir David Frost that the Western invasion of Iraq has ‘so far been pretty much of a disaster’, Mr Blair said: ‘It has.’ … In a chilling warning to those who want Britain to cut and run from the foreign adventures that have characterised Mr Blair’s premiership he warned that Britain would be involved in the Middle East on a ‘generational’ basis, though he stressed he did not expect British troops to remain in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan for a generation… The Prime Minister used his interview to again offer a partnership with Iraq’s neighbours Iran and Syria but warned that they are not yet doing enough to warrant a friendly relationship.”  

Downing Street was quick to respond to Blair’s interview. As AFP reported on November 18:

“Downing Street has moved swiftly to dampen an apparent overnight admission by British Prime Minister Tony Blair that the US-led invasion of Iraq had been a disaster…  Downing Street insisted Saturday that Blair’s comments had been misrepresented. ‘The Prime Minister does not use the word disaster,’ a spokesperson told AFP. ‘What he does is set out that the violence in Iraq is of course hugely regrettable, tragic and very very difficult, but that this violence is a result of malicious external intervention, not some planning error three years ago.’… A spokesperson for the main opposition Conservative Party added that the Prime Minister’s comments highlighted the need for an inquiry into how Britain joined the war in Iraq.”

How Kissinger Sees It…

The Associated Press reported on November 20, 2006:

“Military victory is no longer possible in Iraq, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said in a television interview broadcast Sunday. Kissinger presented a bleak vision of Iraq, saying the U.S. government must enter into dialogue with Iraq’s regional neighbors–including Iran–if progress is to be made in the region. ‘If you mean by “military victory” an Iraqi government that can be established and whose writ runs across the whole country, that gets the civil war under control and sectarian violence under control in a time period that the political processes of the democracies will support, I don’t believe that is possible,’ he told the British Broadcasting Corp.

“But Kissinger, an architect of the Vietnam war who has advised President Bush about Iraq, warned against a rapid withdrawal of coalition troops, saying it could destabilize Iraq’s neighbors and cause a long-lasting conflict. ‘A dramatic collapse of Iraq–whatever we think about how the situation was created–would have disastrous consequences for which we would pay for many years and which would bring us back, one way or another, into the region,’ he said.”

Australian Drought

Der Spiegel Online reported on November 21, 2006:

“Farmers in Australia are suffering their fifth year of continuous drought — and the summer hasn’t even started yet. Now, farms along the Murray River have been cut off… And there is little Australia can do… over 50 percent of the country’s agricultural land has now been declared drought-stricken… The drought has got so bad that officials are now talking about the worst dry spell in 100 years on the continent… More and more farmers are giving up hope and a wave of farmer suicides has hit the country, with a farmer taking his life every four days. The rate is already twice the national average… The situation has even shocked the government in Canberra out of their stubborn position on global warming. ‘Certainly, it has taken people beyond the denial phase on climate change,’ Senator Bill Heffernan told the International Herald Tribune recently. ‘For the first time, the cities are focused on their worries about the future of water supply. Everyone has taken for granted that you turn the tap on and water comes out. I think they now can see that that might not necessarily continue to be the case.”

Ethiopia’s Rare Lions Are Being Killed

The Associated Press reported on November 22:

“Rare Abyssinian lion cubs are being poisoned at a zoo because staff cannot afford to keep them… Ethiopia’s lions, famous for their black manes, are the country’s national symbol and adorn statues and the local currency. Wildlife experts estimate that only 1,000 Ethiopian lions, which are smaller than other lions, remain in the wild… it costs around $6,000 a month to run the zoo, but it only receives $5,000 in revenues from entrance fees… the poisoning has been going on [for] at least two years…The zoo is a popular local attraction, although poor facilities have led to concerns by international wildlife organizations. It was built in 1948 by Emperor Haile Selassie and currently has 16 adult lions and five cubs.”

How is Germany’s Angela Merkel Doing?

AFP reported on November 19, 2006:

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel has had a testing first year in charge, holding together a fractious coalition government, presiding over a fall in unemployment and thawing relations with Washington. Merkel came to power last November 22 after a messy, inconclusive election eventually produced a negotiated compromise — she would rule over the unusual combination of her conservative Christian Democrats and the left-leaning Social Democrats of her predecessor Gerhard Schroeder… As Germany’s first woman leader, Merkel has led the so-called grand coalition to major policy decisions, reforming the funding of the healthcare system and raising the retirement age while tinkering with the tax system. Unemployment, which bubbled ominously around the five-million mark before the election, fell in October to its lowest level in four years at around four million and debt is down too.

“But a panel of company bosses polled by the Allensbach research institute found that 55 percent of them believed the economic recovery had nothing to do with the work of the government. ‘After five lean years, Germany is for once enjoying the sweet side of the business cycle. It won’t last forever,’ said Bank of America analyst Holger Schmieding. Worse, he suggested, is that ‘the cyclical upswing has sapped the appetite in Berlin for tackling the really unpopular issues.’ While the infighting between right and left within her government has restricted her room to manoeuvre at home, Merkel has been able to express herself in the field of foreign policy…

“The US-German relationship was severely strained by Schroeder’s outspoken opposition to the Iraq war, but Merkel has made it work again and she was instrumental in ensuring Germany leads the naval component of the peacekeeping force after the Lebanon-Israel war. Her surprisingly high profile abroad saw the pastor’s daughter from the former East Germany voted the world’s most powerful woman by Forbes magazine. Yet Merkel has enjoyed a year of two halves — riding a wave of popularity in the first six months, almost drowning in the cross-party bickering over the healthcare reforms in the second. Surveys now show only a third of the country supports her conservatives, their lowest score since 2000. And with Germany set to take over the presidency of the Group of Eight most industrialised nations and the European Union on January 1, Merkel will find dangers lurking around every corner.”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on November 20, 2006:

“It’s been one year since Chancellor Angela Merkel came to office at the head of a grand coalition of her conservatives and the center-left Social Democrats. How has she done? Conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes: ‘There’s no mood of celebration on the first anniversary of the grand coalition. There’s general disappointment that this alliance didn’t use its big majorities in the Bundestag and Bundesrat to achieve great things. Even its members don’t deny this. But they never announced gigantic plans in the first place… The weight of the grand coalitions’ seats has proved to be an optical illusion. Even the chancellor’s own party is divided on many issues.'”

The Unspeakable Horrors of the Holocaust

The Associated Press reported on November 19 about the terrible reality of the Holocaust during World War II. Even though the appalling fact of the Holocaust has been firmly established and verified, some still deny its existence, or the gravity of the same. The following article of the Associated Press should put any doubts to rest and remind the world of the unspeakable atrocities man has been willing–and is still willing–to inflict upon his fellow man:

“The 21-year-old Russian sat before a clerk of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate’s office, describing the furnaces at Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp where he had been a prisoner until a few weeks previously. ‘I saw with my own eyes how thousands of Jews were gassed daily and thrown by the hundreds into pits where Jews were burning,’ he said. ‘I saw how little children were killed with sticks and thrown into the fire,’ he continued. Blood flowed in gutters, and ‘Jews were thrown in and died there’; more were taken off trucks and cast alive into the flames.

“Today the Holocaust is known in dense and painful detail. Yet the young Russian’s words leap off the faded, onionskin page with a rawness that transports the reader back to April 1945, when World War II was still raging… The two pages of testimony, in a file randomly plucked off a shelf, are among millions of documents held by the International Tracing Service, or ITS, an arm of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

“This vast archive–16 miles of files in six nondescript buildings in a German spa town–contains the fullest records of Nazi persecutions in existence. But because of concerns about the victims’ privacy, the ITS has kept the files closed to the public for half a century, doling out information in minimal amounts to survivors or their descendants on a strict need-to-know basis. This policy, which has generated much ill-feeling among Holocaust survivors and researchers, is about to change.

“In May, after years of pressure from the United States and survivors’ groups, the 11 countries overseeing the archive agreed to unseal the files for scholars as well as victims and their families. In recent weeks the ITS’ interim director, Jean-Luc Blondel, has been to Washington, The Hague and to the Buchenwald memorial with a new message of cooperation with other Holocaust institutions and governments. ITS has allowed Paul Shapiro, of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, to look at the files and has also given The Associated Press extensive access on condition no names from the files are revealed unless they have been identified in other sources.

“‘This is powerful stuff,’ said Shapiro, leafing through the file containing the Russian’s statement and some 200 other testimonies that take the reader into the belly of Hitler’s death machine– its camps, inmates, commandants, executioners and trusted inmates used as low-level guards and known as kapos. ‘If you sat here for a day and read these files, you’d get a picture of what it was really like in the camps, how people were treated…’

“Another subject is the sheer scope of the Holocaust system. The files will support new research from other sources showing that the network of concentration camps, ghettos and labor camps was nearly three times more extensive than previously thought. Postwar historians estimated about 5,000 to 7,000 detention sites. But after the Cold War ended, records began pouring out of the former communist nations of East Europe. More sites were disclosed in the last six years in claims by 1.6 million people for slave labor reparations from a $6.6 billion fund financed by the German government and some 3,000 industries. ‘We have identified somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 camps and ghettos of various categories,’ said Geoffrey Megargee of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, who is compiling a seven-volume encyclopedia of these detention centers… Between 1933 to 1945, the Nazi persecution grew to assembly-line proportions, slaughtering 6 million Jews and an equal number of Gypsies, homosexuals, mental patients, political prisoners and other ‘undesirables.’ Tens of millions were conscripted as forced laborers.

“To operate history’s greatest slaughter, the Nazis created a bureaucracy that meticulously recorded the arrest, movement and death of each victim. Sometimes even the lice plucked from heads in concentration camps were counted. But as the pace of genocide stepped up, unknown numbers were marched directly from trains to gas chambers without being registered. In the war’s final months, the bookkeeping collapsed, though the extermination continued. What documents survived Nazi attempts to destroy them were collected by the Allies to help people find missing relatives… Some 50 million pages–scraps of paper, transport lists, registration books, labor documents, medical and death registers–make reference to 17.5 million individuals caught up in the machinery of persecution, displacement and death.”

Violent Games Blamed for German School Attack

Reuters reported on November 21:

“Leading German lawmakers demanded a crackdown on violent computer and simulated war games on Tuesday over concerns that they may have helped inspire a young man to attack his former school with guns and explosives. The masked 18-year-old man stormed the Scholl secondary school on Monday in the western German town of Emsdetten, wounding as many as 27 people before committing suicide. The young man, identified only as Bastian B., was known to authorities and due in court on Tuesday for weapons violations, local police said. According to German media reports, he had a fondness for war simulation and computer games.

“Wolfgang Bosbach, the deputy head of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) in parliament, said it was time to consider banning games that simulate wanton killing. ‘We need effective guidelines to protect children from exposure to different types of media, but we don’t need (simulated) killer games that can lead to brutalisation,’ Bosbach was quoted on the Netzeitung news Web site as saying. Bosbach added that scientific studies have shown violent games have disturbing effects on some children.

“Christa Stewens, family minister for the conservative-led state of Bavaria, called for a nationwide ban on war games like paintball and laser tag, in which players hunt down and pretend to kill each other with guns firing paint balls or laser beams. ‘The federal government must finally ban (simulated) killer games… Bavaria has had such a ban in place since 2002,’ Stewens said in a statement. She added that children should also be prevented from playing violent computer games. The federal government has so far refused to ban such games.”

That violent computer and other games may have a contributing role in brutal and senseless murders cannot be denied. However, the real problem lies much deeper. To gain a thorough understanding of the matter, please read our free booklets, “Should You Fight in War?” and “The Keys to Happy Marriages and Families.”

Is Europe Going To Leap Ahead?

The EUobserver reported on November 20:

“Several former EU politicians have called for a ‘leap’ on the European political scene to create enough impetus to see through institutional reform in the bloc by 2009. A joint declaration, published in Florence on Friday (17 November) urges member states to ‘get back on the path to reform of the European institutions.’ Signed, amongst others, by Valery Giscard d’Estaing, the architect of the frozen EU constitution, ex-German foreign minister Joschka Fischer and the former presidents of Italy and Portugal, the text calls for a ‘political leap by all the parties concerned so that the new process is concluded at the time of the new European parliament in spring 2009.’

“Going into detail, it says that the whole of the first and second parts of the constitution–dealing with the values and aims of the bloc as well as the fundamental rights of citizens–should be kept and that the contentious parts of the third section–detailing the policies of the EU–should be clarified… Talk about reviving the EU institutional reform process–put off track by the rejection of the European constitution by French and Dutch voters last year–has gone up a notch recently. This is mainly due to the twin prospect of the German EU presidency in the first half of next year as well as French elections in April–with only a concerted effort by Berlin and Paris thought to be enough to get reform back at the top of the bloc’s political agenda…

“Germany has made progress on the constitution–calling for an ‘ambitious’ text–one of the main issues of its six-month stint at the helm of the EU. Now it is waiting to hear what Paris has to offer… For its part, Germany is planning to have a concrete timetable on the constitution and institutional reform on the table by an EU leaders summit in June–with a view to bringing the reform process to fruition in 2009.”

Remnants of Lost Ten Tribes in India?

The Scotsman reported on November 21:

“A group of 51 Indians who claim to be descendants of one of the ten lost biblical tribes were on their way to Israel last night, in what is viewed by their supporters as a fulfillment of prophecy. They were converted to Judaism in India by rabbis after Israel’s chief rabbinate last year recognized about 7,000 people from the remote north-eastern states of Mizoram and Minapur who claim ancient Israelite ancestry through belonging to the Bnei Menashe, one of the ten tribes that were lost after being exiled by the Assyrians in 586BC. Michael Jankelowitz, spokesman for the Jerusalem-based Jewish Agency, which is co-ordinating the Indians’ arrival, said ‘they have lived a Jewish way of life for decades’ including by keeping Saturday as the Sabbath and observing Jewish dietary laws…

“Some researchers say certain practices involving animal sacrifice were similar to ancient Hebrew traditions, while an ancient song among one tribe talked of crossing the Red Sea… Exiled from ancient Israel by the Assyrian empire around 730BC, the tribe was apparently forced east and travelled through Afghanistan and China before settling in what is now India’s north-east.

“On the way, they forgot their language, their history and most of their traditions… Among the clues… were traditions resembling those of the ancient Israelites, including having places of refuge for those who had killed someone by mistake. [They] also practised circumcision, albeit with sharpened flint rather than a knife… By Rabbi Avihayil’s estimate, there are tens of millions of descendants of the lost tribes of Israel living in [other parts of the world].”

We can safely say that the group of 51 Indians are NOT descendants of the ancient tribe of Manasseh, as these descendants migrated westward–not eastward–after the Assyrian captivity, and settled in Europe and ultimately in the United States. However, many people had come in contact with the Israelites before and after their captivity, so it stands to reason that they adopted some of the Israelite laws and cultures–something that God had prophesied would happen, to an extent. For more information, please read our free booklets, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America,” and “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.” We have also still available for distribution some copies of the full-color booklet, “America and Britain in Prophecy…,” which was written by Raymond McNair.

The Catholic Position

VIS reported on November 17:

“… at one of the regular meetings of the heads of dicasteries of the Roman Curia… [the] value of the choice of priestly celibacy [compulsory refusal to marry] in accordance with Catholic tradition was reaffirmed…  [The Pope also stressed that] ‘the aim of the ecumenical movement remains unchanged: the visible unity of the Church. … Vatican Council II considered the re-establishment of full unity among all Christians as one of its principal concerns. It is also my concern… The eastern and western parts of Europe are coming closer together, and this encourages Churches to coordinate their efforts to safeguard the Christian tradition.’… In this context [of the ecumenical movement], the [Pope] mentioned ‘the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification,’ signed with the World Lutheran Federation, and to which the World Methodist Council has also given its approval.”

Internet Libel Law

The Associated Press reported on November 20:

“Websites that publish inflammatory information written by other parties cannot be sued for libel, the California Supreme Court ruled Monday. The ruling in favour of free online expression was a victory for a San Diego woman who was sued by two doctors for posting an allegedly libelous e-mail on two websites. Some of the Internet’s biggest names, including, America Online Inc., EBay Inc., Google Inc., Microsoft Corp and Yahoo Inc., took the defendant’s side out of concern a ruling against her would expose them to liability. In reversing an appellate court’s decision, the state Supreme Court ruled that the Communications Decency Act of 1996 provides broad immunity from defamation lawsuits for people who publish information on the Internet that was gathered from another source.

“‘The prospect of blanket immunity for those who intentionally redistribute defamatory statements on the Internet has disturbing implications,’ Associate Justice Carol Corrigan wrote in the majority opinion. ‘Nevertheless … statutory immunity serves to protect online freedom of expression and to encourage self-regulation, as Congress intended.’ Unless the U.S. Congress revises the existing law, people who claim they were defamed in an Internet posting can only seek damages from the original source of the statement, the court ruled.”

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