Current Events

President Bush’s Final State of the Union Address

On January 28, President Bush gave his final State of the Union address. We are publishing the following excerpts:

“Most Americans think their taxes are high enough… There is only one way to eliminate this uncertainty: make the tax relief permanent. And Members of Congress should know: If any bill raising taxes reaches my desk, I will veto it…

“On matters of science and life… I call on the Congress to pass legislation that bans unethical practices such as the buying, selling, patenting, or cloning of human life…

“We must also find a sensible and humane way to deal with people here illegally. Illegal immigration is complicated, but it can be resolved. And it must be resolved in a way that upholds both our laws and our highest ideals.

“… one Army brigade combat team and one Marine Expeditionary Unit have already come home [from Iraq] and will not be replaced. In the coming months, four additional brigades and two Marine battalions will follow suit. Taken together, this means more than 20,000 of our troops are coming home. Any further drawdown of U.S. troops will be based on conditions in Iraq and the recommendations of our commanders… The mission in Iraq has been difficult and trying for our Nation. But it is in the vital interest of the United States that we succeed… By contrast, a failed Iraq would embolden extremists, strengthen Iran, and give terrorists a base from which to launch new attacks on our friends, our allies, and our homeland…

“This month in Ramallah and Jerusalem, I assured leaders from both sides that America will do, and I will do, everything we can to help them achieve a peace agreement that defines a Palestinian state by the end of this year. The time has come for a Holy Land where a democratic Israel and a democratic Palestine live side-by-side in peace…

“Iran is funding and training militia groups in Iraq, supporting Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon, and backing Hamas’ efforts to undermine peace in the Holy Land. Tehran is also developing ballistic missiles of increasing range and continues to develop its capability to enrich uranium, which could be used to create a nuclear weapon. Our message to the people of Iran is clear: We have no quarrel with you, we respect your traditions and your history, and we look forward to the day when you have your freedom. Our message to the leaders of Iran is also clear: Verifiably suspend your nuclear enrichment, so negotiations can begin… America will confront those who threaten our troops, we will stand by our allies, and we will defend our vital interests in the Persian Gulf.

“On the homefront, we will continue to take every lawful and effective measure to protect our country. This is our most solemn duty. We are grateful that there has not been another attack on our soil since September 11. This is not for a lack of desire or effort on the part of the enemy. In the past 6 years, we have stopped numerous attacks, including a plot to fly a plane into the tallest building in Los Angeles and another to blow up passenger jets bound for America over the Atlantic…

“America is leading the fight against global hunger. Today, more than half the world’s food aid comes from the United States… America is leading the fight against disease. With your help, we are working to cut by half the number of malaria-related deaths in 15 African nations. And our Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief is treating 1.4 million people… I call on you to double our initial commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS by approving an additional $30 billion over the next 5 years…

“By trusting the people, our Founders wagered that a great and noble Nation could be built on the liberty that resides in the hearts of all men and women. By trusting the people, succeeding generations transformed our fragile young democracy into the most powerful Nation on earth and a beacon of hope for millions. And so long as we continue to trust the people, our Nation will prosper, our liberty will be secure, and the State of our Union will remain strong. So tonight, with confidence in freedom’s power, and trust in the people, let us set forth to do their business…”

We are not going to comment in detail on the above-quoted excerpts, as they basically speak for themselves. However, we would like to make one notable exception, by pointing out the following:

The Bible makes it very clear that this Nation became powerful because of the MERCY OF GOD–TRUST IN THE PEOPLE HAD ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH IT. Because of Abraham’s unconditional FAITH IN GOD AND his OBEDIENCE of THE LAW OF GOD, God promised his descendants, among other things, to become a PROSPEROUS AND POWERFUL NATION. But God also said that if Abraham’s descendants, in these modern times, were to disobey God and forsake their trust in Him, they would lose their prosperity and wealth. For further information, please read our free booklets, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America,” and “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.”

No Troop Reductions in Iraq this Summer?

Following President Bush’s speech on Monday night, indicating possible troop reductions in Iraq, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday, January 29:

“The Bush administration is sending strong signals that U.S. troop reductions in Iraq will slow or stop altogether this summer, a move that would jeopardize hopes of relieving strain on the Army and Marine Corps and revive debate over an open-ended U.S. commitment in Iraq.

“The indications of a likely slowdown reflect concern by U.S. commanders that the improvement in security in Iraq since June… is tenuous and could be reversed if the extra troops come out too soon.”

USA Unprepared for an Attack?

The Associated Press wrote on January 31:

“The U.S. military isn’t ready for a catastrophic attack on the country, and National Guard forces don’t have the equipment or training they need for the job, according to a report. Even fewer Army National Guard units are combat-ready today than were nearly a year ago when the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves determined that 88 percent of the units were not prepared for the fight…

“The commission’s 400-page report concludes that the nation ‘does not have sufficient trained, ready forces available’ to respond to a chemical, biological or nuclear weapons incident, ‘an appalling gap that places the nation and its citizens at greater risk.’

“‘Right now we don’t have the forces we need, we don’t have them trained, we don’t have the equipment,’ commission Chairman Arnold Punaro said in an interview with The Associated Press. ‘Even though there is a lot going on in this area, we need to do a lot more. … There’s a lot of things in the pipeline, but in the world we live in — you’re either ready or you’re not.'”

Peace in the Middle East?

Der Spiegel Online wrote on January 29 about the situation in Gaza and blamed America and Israel for the debacle. It stated the following:

“The mass jailbreak of Gazans into Egypt revealed the bankruptcy of both Israel’s policy of collective punishment and Bush’s attempt to make Mideast peace… Of the mass breakout, the Associated Press wrote, ‘It … reminded the world that 1.5 million Gazans, many already bitterly poor, cannot remain locked up indefinitely.’ It may have reminded the world of that, but it certainly didn’t remind America… The Congress and the presidential candidates, Democratic and Republican, ignored the Gaza crisis, or weighed in with predictably pro-Israel statements. Even the most progressive candidate, Barack Obama, went out of his way to take Israel’s side…

“Yes, Israel has the right to defend itself against the Qassam rocket attacks. But it was not forced to cut off power, medicine and food to do that. It chose to impose that siege (with Bush’s obvious, if unspoken, blessing) because it hoped that by punishing the people of Gaza, they would overthrow their Hamas-led government. One need not defend Hamas to recognize that ‘sending a message’ by punishing the people who live under its rule is a textbook case of collective punishment, which is illegal under international law…

“The Gaza jailbreak represents the end of Bush’s delusional attempt to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace. Annapolis is now dead, killed before it even started. The fatal flaw of Bush’s approach was that it assumed that dividing the Palestinians would lead to peace, when just the opposite is true…

“Collectively punishing the people of Gaza, far from causing them to rise up and throw out Hamas, as Bush and [Israel’s President] Olmert fantasized, only further radicalized them. American and Israeli intransigence and ineptitude have only succeeded in strengthening the hard-liners and weakening the moderates…

“The recent Gaza jailbreak showed that a deal is urgently necessary. The pot just boiled over. It hasn’t exploded yet, but if it does, it won’t just be the Palestinians and Israelis who get burned.”

Will “Foreigners” Control U.S. Economy?

World Net Daily wrote on January 31:

“Sovereign Wealth Funds in six Persian Gulf countries – including Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar – have now amassed $1.7 trillion, positioning them for attempts to control major banks and securities firms in the U.S…  Increasingly, U.S. investment bankers are traveling to the Middle East to meet what Business Week calls the ‘New Kings of Wall Street.’… Among U.S. companies, including many of the largest banks and financial institutions, there are many candidates that now or soon may be more than willing to receive capital infusions from foreign sources.

“… a national outrage broke out in 2006 when a Dubai company… proposed to take over operation of some 22 U.S. ports… In the closing months of last year, foreign investments announced to help major U.S. banks and financial institutions received, by comparison, almost no public outcry. Many believe that’s largely because the infusion of foreign capital was perceived by the public as necessary as troubled U.S. financial institutions scrambled to find capital required to continue [operations]…”

Economy Stimulus–Not So Fast

The Associated Press reported on January 29:

“The House, seizing a rare moment of bipartisanship to respond to the economy’s slump, overwhelmingly passed a $146 billion aid package Tuesday that would speed rebates of $600-$1,200 to most taxpayers. The plan, approved 385-35 after little debate, would send at least some rebate to anyone with at least $3,000 in income, with more going to families with children and less going to wealthier taxpayers.

“It faced a murky future in the Senate, though, where Democrats and some Republicans backed a larger package that adds billions of dollars for senior citizens and the unemployed, and shrinks the rebate to $500 for individuals and $1,000 for couples. That plan… would deliver checks even to the richest taxpayers, who are disqualified under the House-passed measure. Both versions would provide tax breaks to businesses to spur equipment and other purchases…

“Congressional leaders are aiming to send the measure to Bush by Feb. 15. But the divergent plans — and bids by Senate Democrats and Republicans to swell the package with more add-ons — could drag out that schedule.”

Reuters reported on January 31:

“The Senate Finance Committee approved a $157 billion economic stimulus package on Wednesday that offers smaller tax rebates to more people than a plan passed by the House of Representatives. The committee approved the bill as the full Senate prepared to begin debate as early as Thursday on competing versions of an economic stimulus plan lawmakers hope will encourage consumer and business spending to help stave off an election-year recession.

“President George W. Bush wants the Senate to accept the $146 billion package passed Tuesday by the House… The Finance Committee bill, approved on a vote of 14-7, would provide a flat $500 tax rebate to individuals and $1,000 for couples, plus $300 per child. The rebates also would go to about 20 million low-income retirees on Social Security who would not receive checks under the $146 billion House stimulus bill.”

In addition to this political wrangling, unanswered questions remain as to how, exactly, these proposed rebates would have to be handled by the recipients. Are they taxable income which will have to be declared on income tax returns, and for which tax will have to be paid? Or, worse yet, as some local TV newscasters have suggested, are they merely loans to be repaid to the IRS? If so, that would be a most ridiculous attempt to stir up the economy.

Also, the question has been asked where the money for the rebates is supposed to come from. One political candidate for President has suggested repeatedly that it would be borrowed from China, and that the rebate money itself would be used by most recipients to buy products made in China–thereby helping the Chinese economy, rather than the U.S. economy.


The American Financial Sickness

On January 28, 2008, Der Stern Online wrote in an article, titled, “Farewell to America”:

“The US mortgage crisis affects the financial world and financial experts worldwide. But even if the US financial sickness is transmitted again to the rest of the world–the days are numbered when the USA determined the economic fate of the world.”

AFP reported on January 30 that the US “economy nearly stalled in the fourth quarter with a growth rate of just 0.6 percent, capping its worst year since 2002,” and that “Fears of a recession have grown.” It added: “The fourth-quarter’s performance was much weaker — half the pace — than economists were expecting.”

Bloomberg added on January 30:

“Citigroup Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co., UBS AG and other banks may be forced to post up to $70 billion in writedowns should bond insurers lose their top credit ratings, according to Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Meredith Whitney. Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and UBS AG, which have already suffered the biggest losses from the collapse of the subprime mortgage market, according to Bloomberg data, hold 45 percent of the ‘entire market risk,’ Whitney wrote in a note to clients dated yesterday.”

“Searching For Mr. Europe”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on January 28:

“Less than one year from now, the European Union will choose its first long-term president… It took years for the European Union to finally agree that it should even have a president. Now, with just 12 months to go before the 27-member bloc is set to inaugurate its first full time leader, the name-game surrounding the position has begun in earnest. And so has the backbiting.

“Until now, the bloc’s leadership was passed around on a rotating basis, with a new country taking the helm every six months. But according to the terms of the Lisbon Treaty, signed in the Portuguese capital in December and currently in the process of being ratified across the continent, the new ‘President of the European Council’ will hold office for a two-and-a-half year term.

“Tony Blair is one prominent name that has been bandied about recently. The former British prime minister is said to have a good shot, and he has powerful friends. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has thrown his support behind Blair for reasons of both personality and politics…

“But numerous Social Democrats and most Christian Democrats, along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, aren’t as impressed. On Monday, the Daily Telegraph also reported that senior allies of current Prime Minister Gordon Brown were plotting to wreck Blair’s ambitions for the post out of concern that his appointment could reignite old divisions within his Labour Party…”

It is interesting that even though the European member states still need to ratify the Lisbon treaty, it appears to be a foregone conclusion by mainland European commentators that the treaty WILL be ratified–with the result that Europe WILL have its first long-time president within ONE YEAR.

A European Party to Defend Against “Islamisation”?

BBC News reported on January 25:

“The heads of far-right parties from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria and France said their aim was to defend Europe against ‘Islamisation’ and immigrants. At a news conference in Vienna, they said they expected to launch the party by 15 November. The move comes several months after the collapse of a far-right bloc in the European Parliament… The far-right leaders need support from seven EU parties to launch the group, but [Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian] Strache said that the goal was to have ‘more than 10 parties as members and ideally one party from each EU country.'”

No More Mosques and Minarets in Parts of Austria

Der Spiegel Online reported on January 29:

“A far-right party in the Austrian state of Carinthia, led by the notorious right-wing politician Jörg Haider, is trying to ban the construction of mosques and minarets. They’ve presented a draft law designed to prohibit ‘unusual’ buildings that don’t fit in with traditional architecture… ‘With the help of this law, it will be de facto impossible to construct mosques or minarets in Carinthia,’ Uwe Scheuch, the minister responsible for urban planning, told journalists Saturday… Scheuch, who belongs to Haider’s right-wing Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) party, insisted, however, that the law would not infringe on Austria’s constitutional right to freedom of religion.
“Officially, the law is not aimed directly at mosques and minarets, but at ‘unusual’ buildings that stand out ‘because of their unusual architecture or size (height).’… BZÖ will need the support of the conservative Austrian People’s Party if it is to get the draft law passed in the state government. That seems assured…

“The draft law reflects a growing wave of anti-Muslim sentiment in Austria, where Muslims make up around 4 percent of the population. Another Austrian state, Vorarlberg, which has the highest proportion of Muslims in Austria, is also considering a ban on minarets. Erwin Pröll, the governor of the state of Lower Austria, who belongs to the People’s Party, recently described minarets as ‘alien’ to Austrian culture in a television interview… Meanwhile, in Germany, a planned mosque in Cologne has also been causing controversy.”

Europe–A Club of “Christians”?

AFP reported on January 27:

“Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan warned the European Union against becoming a ‘club of Christians’ as he pushed Saturday for Ankara’s membership in the bloc… EU heavyweights France and Germany are both opposed to full Turkish membership, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been particularly vocal on the issue, arguing that the mainly Muslim country does not belong in Europe. Babacan regretted that the issue of religion had apparently become a factor in the debate on Turkey’s accession… Babacan also argued that allowing Turkey into the EU would allow the bloc to act as a bridge between the West and the Islamic world… ‘The Turkish military has been a good supporter of Turkey’s EU accession process … although it is not a black and white thing,’ he said.”

Angela Merkel Under Fire After State Vote Debacle

AFP wrote on January 28:

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel faced tough questions Monday after her conservatives suffered heavy losses in a key state election… Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) lost their absolute majority and finished just one-tenth of a percentage point ahead of the Social Democrats (SPD) in Hesse, home to the business capital Frankfurt. The chancellor had vocally backed the law-and-order campaign and was sharply criticised for the drubbing her party took in Hesse Sunday. Merkel ‘must ask herself how this was possible and also take a look at herself in the search for answers,’ the top-selling Bild newspaper said. The election was Merkel’s first genuine test at the ballot box since she came to power in 2005 at the head of a fractious power-sharing government of the CDU and the SPD…

“The conservatives’ bitterly divisive campaign based on tough measures to deal with young criminals from immigrant backgrounds appeared to have seriously backfired, allowing a strong lead in the polls to vanish in just a few weeks. As expected, the CDU scored a clear victory in the neighbouring state of Lower Saxony in another election held Sunday, but turned in a weaker score than four years ago… If the conservatives lose control of Hesse, it is likely to put further strain on Merkel’s already fragile ‘grand coalition’, with each party trying to sharpen its profile on hot-button issues including taxes, health care reform and foreign policy. Federation of German Industry chief Juergen Thumann said he found the political trend troubling. ‘The shift to the left in Germany continues,’ he told business daily Handelsblatt. ‘We are watching current developments with the greatest concern.’ The CDU faces another fight to hold on to power next month when voters go to the polls in the city-state of Hamburg.”

How Hitler Came To Power 75 Years Ago–Warning Signs for Us Today!

Deutsche Welle reported on January 30:

“On Jan. 30, 1933, Hitler was named German chancellor, spelling the end to the Weimar Republic — Germany’s convulsive experiment with democracy between 1919 and 1933. The period was dubbed the ‘Weimar Republic’ by historians in honor of the city of Weimar, where a national assembly convened to write and adopt a new constitution for the German Reich following the nation’s defeat in World War I.”

Deutsche Welle interviewed Eric Weitz, chairman of the history department at the University of Minnesota. We are quoting the following excerpts:

“There was despair in abundance to be sure. Two million Germans died in World War I, 4 million were wounded, and men who came back were often severely wounded, both physically and psychologically. Women at the home front during the war, experienced four years of intense privation. And afterwards there came the post-war crisis — readjustment and hyperinflation…

“If we look at the economy and the election of 1928 just prior to the onset of the Great Depression, we can see a move back to the center politically and signs of serious economic progress… Without the Depression, the republic would at least have had a chance. It had managed to survive the hyperinflation of 1923… But it was the [Depression] that came from the United States to Germany very fast and very strongly that certainly unleashed the final blow.

“… in 1928, the Nazi party was a marginal, unimportant political group which had very little resonance beyond some very distinctive places that were already in depression before the Great Depression — agricultural areas in particular… In a depression especially, people look for solutions and the republic was not offering any to the economic crisis. From 1930 onwards, Germany was governed under a presidential dictatorship because the political system was so fragmented that the Reichstag could not assemble or function in parliamentary majority. So the chancellor from spring of 1930 onwards, Heinrich Brüning and his successors, governed largely through emergency powers proclaimed by the president, Field Marshall Paul von Hindenburg.

“But I do want to underscore the fact that the Nazis never received a majority vote in a popular, freely contested election. In the summer of 1932, they received 37.4 percent of the vote — the highest they would ever receive. It’s a significant jump to be sure but that’s not a majority and the popular phrase that one hears so often in the United States, ‘the German people elected Hitler to power or elected the Nazis to power’ — that’s wrong, it’s inaccurate, it’s untrue. THE NAZIS WERE NEVER ELECTED TO POWER. In the next election, in the [Fall] of 1932, they already lost a significant percentage of the support they had gained in the summer. The Nazi party was in disarray. At the very end, they came to power because the establishment conservative elite, a coterie of powerful men around President Hindenburg, HANDED POWER OVER to the Nazis. That alliance is what ultimately killed the republic.”

These were interesting developments pertaining to the NINTH REVIVAL of the ancient Roman Empire (see our Q&A in this Update). When we focus on the final and last resurrection of the Roman Empire, we note that something similar will happen again–although on a much broader European scale. We read in Revelation 17:12-13 that ten future leaders of European nations or groups of nations will HAND POWER OVER to a charismatic European military leader, called “the beast” in prophecy.

Germany’s “Brave” and “Humble” Self-Accusations?

The International Herald Tribune wrote on January 28:

“Most countries celebrate the best in their past. Germany unrelentingly promotes its worst… This Wednesday marks the 75th anniversary of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party taking power in Germany, which remarkably has prompted yet a new round of soul-searching… ‘Where in the world has one ever seen a nation that erects memorials to immortalize its own shame?’ said Avi Primor, the former Israeli ambassador to Germany, at an event commemorating the Holocaust and the liberation of Auschwitz on Friday in Erfurt. ‘Only the Germans had the bravery and the humility.’

“It is not just in edifices and exhibits that the effort to come to terms with this history continues unabated. The Federal Crime Office last year began an investigation into itself: trying to shine a light on the Nazi past of its founders after the end of the war. And earlier this month the federal prosecutor overturned the guilty verdict of the communist Marinus van der Lubbe, the Dutchman executed for allegedly setting the Reichstag fire, the 75th anniversary of which is Feb. 27… Germany’s relationship with its Nazi history still regularly generates controversy…”

It is within Germany’s official and publicly announced political correctness to deal repeatedly, openly and predominantly with Germany’s Nazi past–as dutifully pronounced by politicians and the mainstream press. However, many Germans (most of them were not even born yet when Nazi Germany collapsed) are growing increasingly tired of this policy which keeps wallowing in the mud of the past. And if Germany’s political scene and press are not careful, those habitual actions of commemorating the shameful past, could very soon backfire.

How Many More Monuments for Berlin?

Der Spiegel Online wrote on January 29:

“The federal government on Monday announced that two new Holocaust monuments — within walking distance of the sprawling, five-acre Jewish memorial — will soon be completed. One will be dedicated to the gay and lesbian victims of the Holocaust. And in February, construction will begin on another new monument dedicated to the Sinti and Roma, often called Gypsies, who died in the Nazi camps.”

The article continued:

“… advocates for other groups persecuted and murdered by the Nazis [including] Soviet prisoners of war… looking for memorials of their own… A group representing those imprisoned and sentenced to death for deserting the German army is also interested in a memorial. The Third Reich likewise persecuted Jehovah’s Witnesses as a group and also killed thousands of handicapped people. None of those groups have a prominent place in central Berlin.”

Will Germany Be Further Embroiled in the Afghan War?

Der Spiegel Online wrote on January 30:

“A day after NATO formerly requested that Germany send combat troops to Afghanistan and two days after Canada warned it would leave if more help didn’t come south, Germans are debating whether sending more troops means more danger… Germany will make a final decision in the coming weeks as to whether it will deploy up to 250 combat troops to the country to supplement the 3,500 German soldiers already serving there, primarily in the more peaceful north… The German media on Wednesday looked at the implications of the NATO request, which could see Germany further embroiled in Afghanistan…

“The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘There’s no reason to panic, but there surely is reason to worry. …The arguments of the critics who are warning of the dangers of the new Afghanistan deployment are justified. The politicians should stop playing them down and allaying them. It is right to not change the German army’s basic strategy in Afghanistan and to not go on the offensive against the Taliban…’

“The conservative Die Welt writes: ‘Germany cannot turn down the request from Brussels, demanding loyalty and solidarity with the allied partner countries — the US, Canada, the Netherlands, Great Britain — who are under constant fire in Afghanistan… But there must be more truthfulness [by NATO] in the discussions concerning Germany’s deployment.’

“The left-leaning Berliner Zeitung writes… ‘”Of course, it’s easy for the Americans to point the finger at the other allies. But it’s also true that it was in no way the case that all Europeans were convinced of the usefulness of the mission to Afghanistan in the first place. (It) is far away. The overthrow of the Taliban is already six years behind us, and yet the allies are preparing themselves to stay there for many more years. The burdens have already been enormous. There’s no chance that voters are going to allow further adventures.'”

Deutsche Welle added on January 30:

“Reacting to the news that NATO planned to send more troops to his country to counter the threat of a resurgent Taliban backed by supporters of al Qaeda, [Afghan President Hamid] Karzai said training the Afghan police and army was more important than sending more foreign troops to the country.”

India’s Most Serious Outbreak of Bird Flu

Reuters reported on January 28:

“Bird flu has spread to 13 of West Bengal’s 19 districts… In neighboring Bangladesh, the disease has spread to 29 of… its 64 districts. Experts fear the H5N1 strain found in both countries could mutate into a form easily transmitted from person to person, leading to a pandemic… The World Health Organization has said it is India’s most serious outbreak of bird flu. Over 1.5 million birds have already been culled since the deadly H5N1 virus hit the state earlier this month. Another half a million chickens and ducks will be slaughtered in the next few days, officials said.”

Human Kidneys for Sale

USA Today reported on January 29:

“India is reeling from the news that a ring of doctors may have taken kidneys from hundreds of poor people and then sold them to wealthy patients from around the world…  Two weeks ago, NDTV filmed the suspected mastermind telling a reporter that he would charge 15 lakhs (about $38,000) to facilitate and perform a kidney transplant… ABC News says Indian police are holding two U.S. citizens they suspect of trying to purchase kidneys from the ring. ‘Five foreign tourists, including the two Americans, were found Saturday in what police described as a “luxury guest house,” awaiting kidneys. There was reportedly a transplant waiting list of some 40 foreigners from at least five countries,’ the network reports from Mumbai.”

Terrible Violence in Kenya

The Associated Press reported on January 28:

“Thousands of machete-wielding youths hunted down members of President Mwai Kibaki’s Kikuyu tribe Monday in western Kenya’s Rift Valley, torching homes and buses, clashing with police, and blocking roads with burning tires… The death toll has soared over 800… 255,000 people [have been] driven from their homes this month… The bloodshed has transformed this once-stable African country, pitting longtime neighbors against one another and turning tourist towns into no-go zones.”

AFP added on January 28:

“Mobs in Kenya hacked and burnt dozens of people to death on Monday as tribal violence ignited by flawed presidential elections over a month ago threatened to spiral out of control. The upsurge in violence… has undermined the latest mediation efforts, led by Kofi Annan, to try to resolve the political deadlock since President Mwai Kibaki’s disputed re-election… The European Union warned it would cut aid to Kenya unless Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, who claims he was robbed of victory in the December 27 election, showed they were seeking a solution to the crisis.”

USA Today added on January 29:

“A gang beheaded a doctor in apparent retaliation for the slaying of an opposition lawmaker Tuesday… In western Kenya’s Rift Valley, where much of the violence is focused, thousands of machete-wielding youths from both Kikuyu and Luo tribes hunted each other down, burned homes, and clashed with police who appeared overwhelmed… Human rights groups and officials charge the violence in Kenya has become organized [‘by hidden hands’].”

AFP reported on January 30 that “Kenyan police have been given orders to shoot to kill in a bid to stem weeks of violence…”

On January 31, The Associated Press wrote:

“A police officer gunned down an opposition lawmaker in Kenya Thursday, the second such killing this week in a country that has been gripped by ethnic violence since its disputed presidential election, officials said.

“National police chief Hussein Ali said lawmaker David Too was killed in ‘a crime of passion’ involving the girlfriend of the traffic policeman arrested in the shooting. But the opposition called it an assassination, making clear they saw it as part of the country’s deepening ethnic strife.

“After the killing, thousands of people from Too’s Kalenjin ethnic group sought revenge by setting houses on fire and blocking roads with rocks on the outskirts of the western town of Kericho, near the slain lawmaker’s constituency. Other tribes fled to the police station for fear of reprisals. Similar violence broke out in other towns.”

Sodom in Brazil

AFP wrote on January 30:

“The Brazilian city of Recife is to distribute morning-after pills to women during carnival after public prosecutors on Tuesday rejected a Catholic Church lawsuit claiming the initiative promoted sex and provided ‘abortions.’ ‘The pill has no abortive effect, as the archdiocese claims, and its distribution is in no way an incentive to have sex,’ the prosecutor… told AFP. On top of its legal defeat, the church has come under fire from the Brazilian government for attempting to sway public health policy.

“‘The (Recife) mayor’s office is right and the church is wrong, again,’ Health Minister Jose Gomes Temporao said Sunday, as the issue was coming to a head. ‘The morning-after pill is used with medical guidance and is a matter of public health, not religion,’ he said, adding that he believed the church was alienating youths with its stance…  Morning-after pills must be used within 72 hours of unprotected sexual intercourse. They work by blocking fertilization. According to the newspaper Pernambuco, the archbishop at the center of the storm, Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, is not prepared to back down on the issue, and had threatened excommunication to any church-goers who use the pill.”

Man-Made Catastrophes…

The Associated Press reported on January 27:

“A large U.S. spy satellite has lost power and could hit the Earth in late February or early March, government officials said Saturday. The satellite, which no longer can be controlled, could contain hazardous materials, and it is unknown where on the planet it might come down, they said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the information is classified as secret. It was not clear how long ago the satellite lost power, or under what circumstances… The spacecraft contains hydrazine… [which is] a toxic chemical and can cause harm to anyone who contacts it.

“[John] Pike, [a defense and intelligence expert] said it’s not likely the threat from the satellite could be eliminated by shooting it down with a missile, because that would create debris that would then re-enter the atmosphere and burn up or hit the ground. Pike… estimated that the spacecraft weighs about 20,000 pounds and is the size of a small bus.”

The Associated Press added on January 30:

“The U.S. military is developing contingency plans to deal with the possibility that a large spy satellite expected to fall to Earth in late February or early March could hit North America… the size of the satellite suggests that some number of pieces will not burn up as the orbiting vehicle re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere and will hit the ground.

“…the spy satellite is designated by the military as US 193. It was launched in December 2006 but almost immediately lost power and cannot be controlled. It carried a sophisticated and secret imaging sensor but the satellite’s central computer failed shortly after launch.”

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