Current Events

Peace in Northern Ireland … But There Is No Peace

The Associated Press reported on May 8:

“Protestant firebrand Ian Paisley and IRA veteran Martin McGuinness formed a long-unthinkable alliance Tuesday as Northern Ireland power-sharing went from dream to reality–and all sides expressed hope that bloodshed over this British territory would never return. “Paisley, who spent decades refusing to cooperate with Northern Ireland’s Catholic minority, conceded he had often refused to budge in years past but was ready now. He lauded the Irish Republican Army’s moves to renounce violence and disarm, and Sinn Fein’s decision to cooperate with the province’s mostly Protestant police as genuine. ‘From the depths of my heart, I believe Northern Ireland has come to a time of peace, a time when hate will no longer rule. How good it will be to be part of a wonderful healing in this province,’ Paisley said.

“Tuesday’s speedy, trouble-free formation of a 12-member administration jointly led by Paisley and McGuinness heralded an astonishing new era for Northern Ireland following decades of violence and political stalemate that left 3,700 dead. Paisley, 81, affirmed an oath pledging to cooperate with Catholics and the government of the neighboring Republic of Ireland–moves that the fire-and-brimstone evangelist had long denounced as surrender.”

Sadly, the Bible clearly predicts that there will be no lasting peace–neither in Northern Ireland, nor anywhere else on this globe.  The only hope for worldwide peace is the return of Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:3 says: “For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.”

Elections in France — and More Talk of Peace

The Herald Tribune wrote on May 7:

“Leaders across Europe welcomed the election of Nicolas Sarkozy as France’s next president but enthusiasm Monday was tempered with caution, particularly in Germany. While leaders hoped that Sarkozy would reform the French economy, they questioned his protectionist policies and voiced concern that his strong opposition to Turkey joining the European Union could divide the 27-member bloc.

“Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, was quick to congratulate Sarkozy on Sunday night. ‘The German-French friendship will continue to be the basis to secure lasting peace, democracy and prosperity in Europe,’ said Merkel, who like Sarkozy, belongs to the new generation of leaders born after World War II. The European Commission president, José Manuel Barroso, said he was confident that Sarkozy would play the role of ‘motor’ in helping to overhaul EU institutions…

“Russia’s reaction was muted. Sergey Karaganov, dean of international studies at the Higher School of Economics, said in a telephone interview: ‘The only change I see will be the loss of a personal relationship with Chirac. With changes in Germany, France, Italy and the United States, there is an element of unpredictability’ for Russia, he added.

“Analysts said Sarkozy’s foreign policy agenda could ultimately depend on two things: whether the Franco-German alliance can again become the driving force inside the EU; and whether Gordon Brown, who is expected to succeed Tony Blair as Britain’s prime minister, will re-engage with Europe.”

France’s Next President for EU Constitution

Der Spiegel Online reported on May 7:

“Germany, as current EU president, will [breathe] a collective sigh of relief that Sarkozy has prevailed. Unlike his rival Ségolène Royal, Sarkozy does not want to let the French vote again on the constitutional treaty. Instead he wants a slimmed-down version, with only institutional reforms for the 27-member bloc, to be ratified as soon as possible — and not by the people, but by parliament. The discussions about a more comprehensive EU constitution would then be postponed to a later date.

“This pragmatism reflects that of German Chancellor Angela Merkel who, as EU president, has already been working on a roadmap that would save the ‘substance of the constitutional treaty’ by 2009. A further indication of Sarkozy’s new pro-European stance is the fact that in March he was the only candidate in the French election to publicly support the Berlin Declaration, which marked the EU’s 50th anniversary, and which called for the revival of the constitution. It is also in Sarkozy’s own interest to clear the hurdles as soon as possible since France is due to take over the EU presidency in the second half of 2008. If everything goes according to Merkel’s roadmap, Sarkozy could end up being celebrated as the savior of the constitutional treaty…

“Other issues, however, could well lead to clashes. Sarkozy is a genuine opponent of further EU expansion. Even before the entry of Bulgaria and Romania he had called for an end to the accession of any more countries. And unlike his predecessor Jacques Chirac, he categorically rejects EU membership for Turkey. The Turkish newspaper Vatan has called him the ‘greatest opponent of Turkey in Europe.’ Sarkozy has repeatedly explained that as far as he is concerned geographically, Turkey doesn’t belong in Europe, but rather in Asia.”

France Over All

On May 7, Der Spiegel Online quoted the business daily Handelsblatt, as follows: “The new president has a dream: he wants to help France, which has lost its economic and political significance, to achieve new greatness… Sarkozy looks at Europe through a purely French lens…”

US-French Friendship?

The French News Agency AFP reported on May 7:

“World leaders were quick to congratulate Sarkozy on his victory, with US President George W. Bush telephoning him within an hour of polls closing. Sarkozy’s presidency carries hopes of a new era in US-France relations after the frostiness caused by Chirac’s opposition to the Iraq war. In his victory speech, Sarkozy said Washington can count on France’s friendship but urged it to show leadership in the struggle against global warming.”

Tony Blair Announces His Resignation

The Associated Press reported on May 10, 2007:

“Tony Blair said Thursday he would step down as prime minister on June 27, closing a decade of power in which he fostered peace in Northern Ireland and followed the United States to a war in Iraq that cost him much of his popularity. In a somber farewell, Blair made way for Treasury chief Gordon Brown to take the top post.

“Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, it was right, Blair said, to ‘stand shoulder to shoulder with our oldest ally, and I did so out of belief… I may have been wrong, but that’s your call. But believe one thing if nothing else. I did what I thought was right for our country.’

“Brown, Blair’s dour partner in reforming the Labour Party and a sometimes impatient rival in government, was expected to easily win election as the party’s new leader and become the next prime minister. Brown has never criticized Blair’s decision to go to war in Iraq and has given no indication on how he will steer Britain’s role in the conflict…

“Under the stewardship of Blair and Brown, the British economy has thrived. London rivals New York as the world’s pre-eminent financial center, GDP is up, unemployment is down and interest rates are low, though rising. However, Blair’s promised health and education reforms remain incomplete, and soaring house prices and increasing personal debt threaten to widen the divide between haves and have-nots…

“His decision to stand [shoulder]-to-shoulder with President Bush by committing troops for the invasion divided his party and the country. Blair said he was content for history to judge him, but four years on and with almost 150 British troops dead in Iraq, the war is more unpopular than ever. In Iraq, those critical of the 2003 invasion welcomed Blair’s impending departure… But in southern Basra, where British soldiers have been based since 2003, some worried the city will fall into chaos when Britain reduces its troop presence…

“Blair’s last months in office also have been overshadowed by a police investigation into claims that his party and the opposition traded political honors for cash…”

King Herod’s Tomb Found reported on May 7:

“An Israeli archaeologist has found the tomb of King Herod, the legendary builder of ancient Jerusalem and the Holy Land, Hebrew University said late Monday. The tomb is at a site called Herodium, a flattened hilltop in the Judean Desert, clearly visible from southern Jerusalem. Herod built a palace on the hill, and researchers discovered his burial site there, the university said…

“Herod became the ruler of the Holy Land under the Romans around 37 B.C. The wall he built around the Old City of Jerusalem still stands, and he also ordered big construction projects in Caesaria, Jericho, the hilltop fortress of Massada and other sites… Herod died in 4 B.C. in Jericho. Herodium was one of the last strong points held by Jewish rebels fighting against the Romans, and it was conquered and destroyed by Roman troops in A.D. 71, a year after they destroyed the Second Temple in Jerusalem.”

Herod was one of the most brutal and cruel leaders this world has ever known. Among other terrible crimes, his bad reputation results from his evil murder of innocent children in an attempt to kill Jesus (compare Matthew 2:16-18).

Turkey in Big Trouble

Der Spiegel Online wrote on May 7:

“Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül withdrew from the country’s presidential race on Sunday in disgust after secularists in parliament handed his Islamic-rooted party another humiliating defeat. Gül said the rift in Turkey between secularist and Islamic politicians has ‘damaged the parliament’s honor’ and may force a popular presidential vote… A defeat for Gül — who belongs to Prime Minister Recept Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party, the AKP — is, perhaps ironically, bad news for the West…

“European politicians are now more concerned about the Turkish military, which looks unwilling to keep its fingers out of politics, than any Islamic agenda. Is it possible that Turkey still hasn’t transcended its violent past, typified in previous decades by coups and rolling tanks?… An open conflict between AKP supporters and the military would be fatal for the country…

“The founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal, later known as Atatürk… made Sunday the country’s official day of rest (instead of Friday, the Muslim day of prayer). He introduced Latin writing instead of Arabic and replaced Sharia with a code composed of Swiss and Italian law. ‘Progress means taking part in this civilization,’ Atatürk preached to his people, ‘the Turks have constantly moved in one direction — we have always gone from East to West.’…”

Russian Nuclear Weapons Missing?

The Washington Times reported on May 2:

“Russian President Vladimir Putin told President Bush he could not account for all of Moscow’s nuclear weapons at the same time al Qaeda was seeking to purchase three Russian nuclear devices on the black market, former CIA Director George J. Tenet said… The comments contradict Russian government claims for the past 16 years that no nuclear arms were missing. Alexander Lebed, a former Russian national security adviser, stated in 1997 that Russia could not account for about 80 portable nuclear weapons, a claim later denied by Moscow.”

The Pope Warns Catholic Politicians

Reuters reported on May 9:

“Pope Benedict on Wednesday warned Catholic politicians they risked excommunication from the [Catholic] Church and should not receive communion if they support abortion.

“It was the first time that the Pope, speaking to reporters aboard the plane taking him on a trip to Brazil, dealt in depth with a controversial topic that has come up in many countries, including the United States, Mexico, and Italy… Under [Catholic] Church law, someone who knowingly does or backs something which the [Catholic] Church considers a grave sin, such as abortion, inflicts what is known as ‘automatic excommunication’ on themselves…

“The Pope’s comments appear to raise the stakes in the debate over whether Catholic politicians can support abortion or gay marriage and still consider themselves proper Catholics. In recent months, the Vatican has been accused of interference in Italy for telling Catholic lawmakers to oppose a draft law that would grant some rights to unwed and gay couples…

“Some Catholics say they personally would not have an abortion but feel obliged to support a woman’s right to choose. But the [Catholic] Church, which teaches that life begins at the moment of conception and that abortion is murder, says Catholics cannot have it both ways.”

Terrible Weather Conditions in the USA

The Associated Press wrote on May 9:

“Nature’s fury made life miserable Wednesday from one end of the nation to the other… And although the calendar still said spring, the first named storm of the year was whipping up surf on the beaches of the Southeast.

“… a three-week-old fire in southern Georgia had become that state’s biggest on record after charring 167 square miles of forest and swamp. Smoke and a dusting of ashes filled the air through much of Florida and southeastern Georgia. The haze over most of Florida even closed several highways and sent people with breathing problems indoors.

“… In addition to 11 tornado deaths, two drowning deaths were blamed on the storms, one each in Oklahoma and Kansas. High water had poured over the tops of at least 20 levees along the Missouri River and other streams in the state…

“On the West Coast, in view of many Los Angeles residents, a blaze had covered more than 800 acres in the city’s sprawling Griffith Park behind the iconic Griffith Observatory… In the Southeast, a wildfire in northern Florida’s Bradford County had forced the evacuation of about 250 homes… That fire had blackened 16,000 to 18,000 acres and was 20 percent contained…

“Elsewhere, a wildfire near the Canadian border in northeastern Minnesota had covered more than 34 square miles Wednesday, adding more than 8 square miles in one day, authorities said. It had destroyed 45 buildings, including multimillion-dollar homes, and firefighters said it was just 5 percent contained. More than 100 people had been removed from their homes in the path of the fire.”

State Orders Gas Prices to Be Raised

From the highly objectionable to the totally ridiculous–and because of laws, which make no sense, there is no end in sight of the rise of manipulated unreasonable gas prices.

The Associated Press reported on May 9:

“A service station that offered discounted gas to senior citizens and people supporting youth sports has been ordered by the state to raise its prices. Center City BP owner Raj Bhandari has been offering senior citizens a 2 cent per gallon price break and discount cards that let sports boosters pay 3 cents less per gallon.

“But the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection says those deals violate Wisconsin’s Unfair Sales Act, which requires stations to sell gas for about 9.2 percent more than the wholesale price. Bhandari said he received a letter from the state auditor last month saying the state would sue him if he did not raise his prices. The state could penalize him for each discounted gallon he sold, with the fine determined by a judge.

“Bhandari, who bought the station a year ago, said he worries customers will think he stopped the discounts because he wants to make more money. About 10 percent of his customers had used the discount cards.”

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