Current Events

US Attorney General Gonzales Resigns

AFP wrote on August 27:

“US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said he would resign Monday, after a scandal-tainted tenure marred by critics’ claims he was incompetent, hid the truth and may be guilty of perjury. Gonzales, an architect of contentious US ‘war on terror’ legal tactics, was also at the center of a row with Democrats over firings of federal prosecutors, and had lost the confidence of many top Republicans.

“He was the latest confidant to leave President George W. Bush’s inner circle, two weeks after political guru Karl Rove named his own departure date and 17 months before the US leader himself exits the White House. ‘Al Gonzales is a man of integrity, decency and principle, and I have reluctantly accepted his resignation,’ Bush said in Waco, Texas after Gonzales’s sudden announcement… Democrats vowed to press on with congressional probes into the conduct of the Justice Department and the White House… Critics say Gonzales, a former White House counsel, signed off on ‘torture’ methods to interrogate ‘war on terror’ prisoners and say programs he backed like a warrantless wiretapping scheme infringed the US constitution. He also argued that terror suspects held at the US base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba had no rights under the Geneva Convention.”

Extra 50 Billion Dollars for Iraq?

AFP wrote on August 29:

“US President George W. Bush plans to ask Congress for an extra 50 billion dollars for Iraq… The request would seek to pay for the current troop ‘surge’ strategy and is a sign that Bush anticipates prevailing in a showdown with the Democratic-controlled Congress which has been pushing for troop withdrawal, the Washington Post said. If approved, the bid would bring US spending on the Iraq war to MORE THAN THREE BILLION DOLLARS PER WEEK… The 50 billion dollars would be in addition to the 460 billion dollars in the fiscal 2008 defense budget and 147 billion dollars in a pending supplemental bill to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Britons Die in U.S. “Friendly Fire”

AFP wrote on August 24:

“Three British NATO troops were killed in an apparent ‘friendly fire’ incident in Afghanistan when US jets dropped a bomb on them during fighting with the Taliban… The deaths are likely to spark anger in Britain, where a coroner ruled earlier this year that a British soldier was unlawfully [“criminally”] killed by US pilots in Iraq and criticised the Pentagon for failing to provide information… Britain has more than 6,000 troops in Afghanistan, a figure which will increase to over 7,700 this year. They are mostly deployed in the south. A total of 73 British troops have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001.”

Afghanistan Almost Exclusive World’s Supplier of Opium

AFP reported on August 27:

“Afghanistan’s opium production [used to make heroin] has doubled in two years, reaching a new high in 2007, with the country almost the exclusive supplier of the world’s deadliest drug [accounting for 93 percent of the global opiates market]… Production [is] estimated to have jumped 34 percent this year over last with the number of heroin labs also increasing… The southern province of Helmand [has] meanwhile become the world’s biggest source of illicit drugs, surpassing the output of entire countries. This [is the case] despite a multi-million-dollar effort led by Britain and the United States to cut the opium trade which finances the growing Taliban insurgency that has killed thousands of people, including scores of Western soldiers… The amount of Afghan land used for growing opium [is] now larger than the combined total used to grow coca — the raw ingredient for cocaine — in Colombia, Peru and Bolivia…”

Bird Flu in Germany

The Associated Press reported on August 26:

“Tests have found that birds at a poultry farm in southern Germany died of the H5N1 strain of bird flu, and some 160,000 birds were being slaughtered as a precaution… The virus was detected in ducklings at the farm near Erlangen, in northern Bavaria… More than 400 birds had died over a short period of time at the farm… Several cases of the virus have surfaced among wild birds in Germany this year. Last month, it was detected in a domestic goose in the east of the country. The H5N1 virus has killed more than 190 people worldwide…”

China Angers Germany

Times On Line reported on August 27:

“China has hacked into the computers of Angela Merkel’s Chancellery and three other German ministries in an extraordinary economic espionage operation… The claims, made in a detailed investigation by Der Spiegel magazine, were denied strenuously by the Chinese authorities yesterday, but there was no mistaking German anger.”

Merkel Meets With China’s and Japan’s Leaders

Deutsche Welle reported on August 29:

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel has met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the start of a visit to Japan. The two leaders discussed global warming and economic issues, which the Chancellor and a German delegation travelling with her will also take up with business leaders. Japan takes over the presidency of the Group of Eight industrialised countries from Germany next year. Earlier, Merkel spent three days in China where she highlighted human rights, freedom of the press and the protection of intellectual property rights.”

China’s and Japan’s Defense Ministers Meet

AFP wrote on August 29:

“China’s defence minister was due in Japan Wednesday in the first such visit in more than nine years as the Asian giants work to repair their rocky relations. Defence affairs have been a key impediment in relations between the two countries, with Japan repeatedly joining the United States in voicing concern about China’s rapidly growing military budget… The two defence ministers may also discuss launching a hotline between the two nations amid Japan’s concerns over China’s military build-up, Japanese media said. China had said it will boost military spending by 17.8 percent this year and in January became only the third nation to shoot down an object in space.”

Confused Christianity–Passport to Heaven?

Zenit reported on August 26:

“Heaven is an equal-opportunity destination, but to gain entry one needs a ‘passport’ stamped with virtues such as humility, mercy and truth, [said Pope] Benedict XVI… in a reflection he gave on the “narrow gate’…  [The pope] said that the message of Christ is that everybody has an equal chance of entering through the narrow gate, ‘but it is “narrow” because it is demanding, it requires commitment, self-denial and mortification of one’s own egoism.’ Christ invites all to heaven, he said, ‘but with one and the same condition: that of making the effort to follow him and imitate him, taking up one’s cross, as he did, and dedicating one’s life to the service of our brothers.’ Benedict XVI makes the point that ‘we will not be judged on the basis of presumed privileges, but by our works.’ ‘True friendship with Christ,’ he added, ‘is expressed by one’s way of life: it is expressed by goodness of heart, with humility, meekness and mercy, love of justice and truth, sincere and honest commitment to peace and reconciliation.'”

Nowhere in the Bible do we read that humans go to heaven when they die. Rather, the saints are to inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). Converted Christians will be resurrected from their sleep of death at the time of Christ’s return (1 Thessalonians 4:16)–to rule on the earth (Revelation 5:10). For more information, please read our free booklet, “Do We Have an Immortal Soul?”

More Confusion in Orthodox Christianity

The German magazine, Der Stern, wrote on August 28 about Sunday papers. The following comments exemplify the utter confusion of many Germans and Europeans, as well as Americans, for that matter, about the Biblical command to keep the weekly SABBATH holy–not SUNDAY.  The article stated:

“You shall read on the seventh day… Turmoil on holy Sunday… active competition is big on the seventh day…”

Sunday is neither holy–in the eyes of God–nor is it the seventh day. Sunday is the FIRST day of the week–a day that God never sanctified or declared holy. The Sabbath–the time from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset–is the seventh day, and God made IT holy (compare Genesis 2:2-3; Exodus 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 5:12-15).

It is remarkable, however, that in Germany and other European countries, the CALENDAR was changed, following the lead of the Catholic Church. Calendars in the USA clearly identify Sunday correctly as the FIRST day of the week–not as the seventh day! This is NOT the case in Germany and other European countries, where SUNDAY is falsely designated as the SEVENTH day of the week, and Monday as the first day. Can you see the subtle–and not so subtle–deception?

This development was prophesied thousands of years ago. In Daniel 7:25, a religious power is mentioned, which shall “intend to change times and law”–that is, the LAW regarding which TIMES God has set aside as HOLY. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy.”

No More Mosques in Carinthia, Austria?

On August 27, Reuters reported that “Austrian right-wing firebrand Joerg Haider said on Monday he plans to change building laws to prevent mosques and minarets being erected in his home province of Carinthia. Haider, Carinthia’s governor, said he would ask its parliament to amend the building code to… require towns and villages to consider ‘religious and cultural tradition’ when dealing with construction requests.

“‘We don’t want a clash of cultures and we don’t want institutions which are alien to our culture being erected in Western Europe,’ Haider said in a statement. ‘Muslims have of course the right to practise their religion, but I oppose erecting mosques and minarets as centres to advertise the power of Islam,’ he said.”

The article continued:

“Muslims in Europe are meeting increasing resistance to plans for mosques that befit Islam’s status as the continent’s second religion after Christianity, with petitions in London, protests in Cologne, a court case in Marseille and violence in Berlin. However, while all those places have significant Muslim minorities, Haider’s Carinthia has the second lowest share of Muslim citizens of all Austrian provinces — 11,000 out of a population of around 400,000.”

Britain an Embarrassment for the Entire EU?

The Telegraph reported on August 27, about Britain’s pending approval of the EU Treaty:

“Gordon Brown’s chances of ending a Labour revolt over the new EU reform treaty have been snuffed out after leading Euro-MPs made clear they would give no further concessions to Britain…  The Prime Minister is facing a mounting rebellion by his own backbenchers who are demanding a referendum on the treaty unless Mr Brown can extract fresh amendments at the eleventh hour. But representatives of the European Parliament who are directly involved in the last stage of negotiations insisted that Britain had already caused the EU enough problems by winning a series of ‘unacceptable’ opt-outs…

“Enrique Baron Crespo, a Spanish socialist and former president of the parliament, made clear Britain had already exhausted its goodwill. He said Britain’s opt-outs had ‘led to a situation close to humiliation and embarrassment for the entire EU’. Criticism also came from German MEP Elmar Brok, a close ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said: ‘The European parliament is worried about the exact extent, definition and consequences of the opt-outs.'”

The paper also mentioned that “More than 60,000 people have signed a Daily Telegraph petition calling for the people to be given a say.”

Is Israel Going to Abandon Control Over the Temple Mount?

WorldNetDaily wrote on August 28:

“Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the Egyptian government the Jewish state is willing to forfeit control over the Temple Mount – Judaism’s holiest site – to the management of Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, according to an Arab media report… Israeli and Palestinian diplomatic sources said U.S.-brokered biweekly meetings between Olmert and Abbas are being utilized to draft the outline of a permanent status deal, ultimately yielding a Palestinian state, scheduled to be aired in public at the November summit…”

The article also said that “Currently under Israeli control, Jews and Christians are barred from praying on the Mount.”

“Middle East Turmoil Could Cause World War”

Reuters reported on August 27:

“Upheaval in the Middle East and Islamic civilization could cause another world war, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations was quoted as saying in an Austrian newspaper… Zalmay Khalilzad told the daily Die Presse the Middle East was now so disordered that it had the potential to inflame the world as Europe did during the first half of the 20th century…

“Khalilzad was also quoted as saying Iraq would need foreign forces for security for a long time to come… Asked whether that could be 10-20 years, he said: ‘Yes, indeed, it could last that long. What form the help takes will depend a lot on the Iraqis. Up to now there is no accord between Iraq and the United States about a longer military presence.’ Khalilzad said the chaos in Iraq since U.S.-led forces overthrew Saddam Hussein in 2003 was not unavoidable but arose from mistakes in the initial period of occupation.”

Outspoken Sarkozy reported on August 27:

“In his first major foreign policy speech, [the] French president says [a] diplomatic push by [the] world’s powers to rein in Tehran’s nuclear program is [the] only alternative to [the] ‘Iranian bomb or bombing of Iran’…

“Sarkozy said a nuclear-armed Iran would be unacceptable and that major powers should continue their policy of incrementally increasing sanctions against Tehran while being open to talks if Iran suspended nuclear activities. ‘This initiative is the only one that can enable us to escape an alternative that I say is catastrophic: the Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran,’ he said, adding that it was the worst crisis currently facing the world… Sarkozy criticized Russia for its dealings on the international stage. ‘Russia is imposing its return on the world scene by using its assets, notably oil and gas, with a certain brutality,’ he said…

“Sarkozy had warm words for the United States, saying friendship between the two countries was important. But he said he felt free to disagree with American policies, highlighting what he called a lack of leadership on the environment… Breaking with the policy of his predecessor Jacques Chirac, Sarkozy said he was prepared to hold high-level talks with Syria… But he stuck to his predecessor’s stance in demanding that a timeline be drawn up for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.”

The Times added on August 28:

“President Sarkozy called Iran’s nuclear ambition the world’s most dangerous problem yesterday and raised the possibility that the country could be bombed if it persisted in building an atomic weapon… He did not say who would carry out such an attack, which has been suggested by policy experts in Israel and the US… President Sarkozy, the most pro-American French leader for decades, condemned the US invasion of Iraq…”

EU Greater World Rule–Under France?

The EUObserver wrote on August 28:

“As France prepares to assume the EU’s driving seat in July next year, president Nicolas Sarkozy has indicated he wants to turn the 27-nation bloc into a decisive player in the global arena – something he says would result in a fairer and more harmonious world order… ‘The European Union alone has accumulated, during the long process of building the community, the practical experience of a shared sovereignty that corresponds well to the demands of our times’, Mr Sarkozy told his audience of 180 diplomats, stressing the EU bloc has at its disposal a broad palette of instruments, ranging from military force to humanitarian and financial means. While outlining new ideas, Mr Sarkozy urged the 27-nation club to boost its common security strategy – namely to improve its conduct of joint military operations, to rationalize its arms procurement as well as boost countries’ contributions to Europe’s defence budget…”

German Reactions to Sarkozy’s Remarks–“Rambo in the Elysée”

Der Spiegel Online reported on August 28 on German reactions to Sarkozy’s first major policy speech. The magazine stated:

“In an editorial entitled ‘Rambo in the Elysée,’ the business daily Handelsblatt writes: ‘The more poorly he speaks about certain things, the more seriously he takes himself. The speech that the head of state formulated yesterday was simply a manifold claim for French leadership, both in Europe and across the globe. The EU should formulate a security strategy under French leadership and one that will also reform NATO. Under Sarkozy’s personal leadership, the UN Security Council should find solutions in September for the crisis areas of Africa… The troublesome reality of France’s mid-sized power when it comes to foreign policy will catch up with this president, too.’

“The conservative daily Die Welt writes: ‘The aim is clear: With the help of a strong EU, which will be led decisively by France, Paris wants to assert itself as a player on the global stage. One can interpret his attempt to extend the European Union toward Africa as an answer to Germany’s increased influence following its reunification and EU expansion. The desire to secure a place for Germany on the Security Council belongs to the realm of rhetoric. It will stir the Germans up, but in the end it won’t lead to anything…’

“The Financial Times Deutschland writes:

“The only thing that is clear is that France will embroil itself in many international conflicts under his leadership. To what end is unclear, unless of course it is just about gratifying Sarkozy’s craving for recognition. With refreshing clarity, the president has distanced himself from Russia and China. At the same time, he is trying to dispel the impression, which he brought about himself, that France’s foreign policy will be closer to that of the United States.”

Wildfires in Greece

AFP reported on August 25 about “the worst wildfires to hit Greece in a decade… More than 800 firefighters, along with about 400 soldiers, were supported by 11 planes and seven helicopters,” including in an area near Corinth. The article explained that “Greece has been battling multiple forest fires since June, fanned by three heatwaves, the latest this week, and months of drought.”

Der Spiegel wrote on August 27:

“Fires burn for the fourth day across Greece in the worst blazes the country has ever seen. At least 60 have died and help has arrived from across Europe. The authorities suspect that many of the fires have been set on purpose… Hundreds of villages have been completely destroyed all across the country and thousands of people are now homeless… ‘The destruction is of Biblical proportions,’ firefighter Nicholas Orphanos… told reporters according to Reuters. ‘There are villages we want to go to and we cannot because the roads are blocked. In 30 years, I have never seen such destruction.'”

The magazine continued:

“Karamanlis’ government has been accused of being unprepared for the intensity of this year’s fire season… judging by Monday’s headlines, his career at the head of Greece’s government may be over. Headlines were scathing, reading ‘Incompetent! Grief for the Dead, Rage for the Absence of the State,’ and ‘Shame for the Collapse of the State!'”

EU Standing Intervention Force?

The EUObserver reported about additional potential consequences from Greece’s wild fires. On August 28, the following was stated:

“The European Commission is considering new ways of how to boost EU emergency assistance to member states in crisis, prompted by the raging fires in Greece… The EU executive’s spokeswoman said several commission directorates are currently seeking ways to boost the bloc’s ability to react in similar situations as it seems the existing system ‘may not be enough to react as quickly as one wishes to.’

“Brussels is contemplating setting up some sort of ‘standing intervention force’ for different types of crises. The idea is to speed up joint actions so disasters can be tackled within hours of breaking out. She added that the new concept could be unveiled as early as this autumn and it would be worked out according to several scenarios on how to best coordinate the emergency teams from different countries.”

Turkey’s New President

Der Spiegel Online wrote on August 29 about German reactions to the Turkish parliamentary election of their new president:

“Abdullah Gül’s election to the Turkish presidency is controversial in Turkey, mostly due to his roots in political Islam… The country’s military, which sees itself as the guardian of the Turkish secularism…, has repeatedly warned that it would not tolerate any moves away from secularism. Even the fact that [Gül’s] wife wears a headscarf — a symbol of Islam banned in public buildings in Turkey — is seen as a strike against him. But Gül, who until Tuesday was Turkey’s foreign minister, has also helped Turkey make major strides toward the European Union and the West. He is well respected in EU capitals and the government of [Prime Minister] Erdogan has ushered through a number of reforms aimed at preparing the country to become a member of the EU. So what, exactly, is to be made of his election? German commentators on Wednesday take a closer look.

“The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung is enthusiastic about Gül’s victory: ‘There is no separation of church and state in Turkey. On the contrary: The country has reinvented the concept of secularism — the state has total control over religion. All mosques and imams are beholden to the Office of Religious Affairs — an office that even dictates the Friday sermon…’

“The financial daily Handelsblatt likewise sees Gül’s election in a positive light: ‘Gül’s election is an important step on the path towards emancipation from the military’s grasp. And that is an important step towards Europe…’

“The Financial Times Deutschland writes: ‘The fact that the military is armed and ready to defend the foundations of secularism may be comforting for people who fear that their freedom to have the lifestyle they choose is under threat. But it is ominous for anyone who sees a greater evil in an authoritarian, military republic.'”

Concerns Over Turkey’s New Government

Not everyone shares the optimism expressed in the previous article. Deutsche Welle had this to say, on August 29:

“Abdullah Gül was elected Turkey’s next president on Tuesday. But calls by Prime Minister Erdogan for Gül’s critics to give up their citizenship have the media wondering what direction Turkey will take… Erdogan was commenting on an article by the prominent columnist Bekir Coskun from Turkey’s largest daily Hürriyet. Coskun had written that Gül’s presidency would mean the end of the secular state in Turkey — a fear shared by the country’s secular elite.”

The press report continued to point out:

“… according to Yüksel Isik from the Progressive Journalists Association, the prime minister’s statement showed that press freedom was still a major challenge in Turkey. ‘The prime minister is taking an exclusionary stance against a prominent journalist, Bekir Coskun, as if he is “the other”,’ Isik said. ‘If local governors follow the prime minister’s behavior and try to pressure journalists in local regions, this would mean the total terrorization of Turkey by this government.’

“In a separate move, the mass circulation Hürriyet fired columnist Emin Cölasan last week, who is known for his highly critical articles on the AKP-led government. According to Isik, these events showed that the problem of press freedom was more serious than it appeared. ‘Many of our journalist colleagues have been fired without any just cause, only for their criticism of governmental policies,’ Isik said… For Turkey’s journalists, the big question now is whether the Islamist-rooted AKP will use its majority power to continue criticizing the press or to open itself up to different views.”

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