Current Events

“Dangerous U.S. Supreme Court Decision on Gun Rights”

On June 27, Der Spiegel Online re-published the following thought-provoking article which was originally published in The New York Times:

“Thirty-thousand Americans are killed by guns every year — on the job, walking to school, at the shopping mall. The Supreme Court on Thursday all but ensured that even more Americans will die senselessly with its wrongheaded and dangerous ruling striking down key parts of the District of Columbia’s gun-control law.

“In a radical break from 70 years of Supreme Court precedent, Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, declared that the Second Amendment guarantees individuals the right to bear arms for nonmilitary uses, even though the amendment clearly links the right to service in a ‘militia’…

“This is a decision that will cost innocent lives, cause immeasurable pain and suffering and turn America into a more dangerous country. It will also diminish our standing in the world, sending yet another message that the United States values gun rights over human life.

“There already is a national glut of firearms: estimates run between 193 million and 250 million guns. The harm they do is constantly on heartbreaking display. Thirty-three dead last year in the shootings at Virginia Tech. Six killed this year at Northern Illinois University.

“On Wednesday, as the court was getting ready to release its decision, a worker in a Kentucky plastics plant shot his supervisor, four co-workers and himself to death…

“But that’s a sharp reversal for the court: as early as 1939, it made clear that the Second Amendment only protects the right of people to carry guns for military use in a militia…

“In this month’s case recognizing the habeas corpus rights of the detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Justice Scalia wrote in dissent that the decision ‘will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed.’ Those words apply with far more force to his opinion in this District of Columbia case.

“… when the justices go to work at the Supreme Court, guns will still be banned. When most Americans show up at their own jobs, they will not have that protection…”

Gun-Related Suicides in Private Homes

On June 30, The Associated Press added the following comments:

“The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on gun ownership last week focused on citizens’ ability to defend themselves from intruders in their homes. But research shows that surprisingly often, gun owners use the weapons on themselves. Suicides accounted for 55 percent of the nation’s nearly 31,000 firearm deaths in 2005, the most recent year for which statistics are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…

“Public-health researchers have concluded that in homes where guns are present, the likelihood that someone in the home will die from suicide or homicide is much greater. Studies have also shown that homes in which a suicide occurred were three to five times more likely to have a gun present than households that did not experience a suicide, even after accounting for other risk factors.

“In a 5-4 decision, the high court on Thursday struck down a handgun ban enacted in the District of Columbia in 1976 and rejected requirements that firearms have trigger locks or be kept disassembled. The ruling left intact the district’s licensing restrictions for gun owners… The high court’s majority opinion made no mention of suicide. But in a dissenting opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer used the word 14 times in voicing concern about the impact of striking down the handgun ban. ‘If a resident has a handgun in the home that he can use for self-defense, then he has a handgun in the home that he can use to commit suicide or engage in acts of domestic violence,’ Breyer wrote.”

“The Ignorant American Voter”

In its June 23/June 30, 2008, issue of “U.S. News & World Report,” Bret Schultze, in discussing a new book by Rick Shenkman, wrote an interesting editorial. In quoting Shenkman, he stated the following:

“The long Iraq war. The bungled Hurricane Katrina response. The credit crunch. A quick look at the newspapers will give many voters reason to doubt the wisdom of America’s leaders. Unfortunately, Americans are doing little to educate themselves about those leaders…

“Americans are ill-prepared to guide the world’s most powerful democracy. Only 2 of 5 voters can name the three branches of the federal government. Only 49 percent of Americans think the president has the authority to suspend the Constitution. But Shenkman saw the problem snap into focus after Sept. 11, 2001, when polls showed that a large number of Americans knew little about the attacks and the Iraq war that followed… Americans did little to seek the truth…

“Even after the 9/11 Commission, a majority of Americans believed there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Only a third of Americans understood that much of the rest of the world opposed our invasion…

“… we need to simply acknowledge that the ordinary voter is not as smart as they should be. They are susceptible to manipulation and being conned… My No. 1 suggestion… is to ask every college [freshman] to take a CURRENT EVENTS QUIZ WEEKLY.”

Shame on America–Torture of Innocent Detainees

CNN reported on June 18:

“Former terrorist suspects detained by the United States were tortured, according to medical examinations detailed in a report released Wednesday by a human rights group. The Massachusetts-based Physicians for Human Rights reached that conclusion after two-day clinical evaluations of 11 former detainees, who had been held at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in Afghanistan. The detainees were never charged with crimes.

“‘We found clear physical and psychological evidence of torture and abuse, often causing lasting suffering,’ said Dr. Allen Keller, a medical evaluator for the study. In a 121-page report, the doctors’ group said that it uncovered medical evidence of torture, including beatings, electric shock, sleep deprivation, sexual humiliation, sodomy and scores of other abuses.

“The report is prefaced by retired U.S. Major Gen. Antonio Taguba, who led the Army’s investigation into the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in 2003. ‘There is no longer any doubt that the current administration committed war crimes,’ Taguba says. ‘The only question is whether those who ordered torture will be held to account.’…

“Since only 11 detainees were examined ‘the findings of this assessment cannot be generalized to the treatment of all detainees in U.S. custody,’ the report says. However, the incidents documented are consistent with findings of other investigations into government treatment, ‘making it reasonable to conclude that these detainees were not the only ones abused, but are representative of a much larger number of detainees subjected to torture and ill treatment while in U.S. custody.’

“Four of the men evaluated were arrested in or taken to Afghanistan between late 2001 and early 2003 and later were sent to Guantanamo Bay, where they were held for an average of three years before being released without charge, the report says. The other seven were detained in Iraq in 2003 and released within a year, the report says.”

Another Sad American Record–Americans Are World’s Top Drug Users

AFP reported on July 1:

“Americans are the world’s top consumers of cannabis and cocaine despite punitive US drug laws… And despite the US government’s massive anti-drug efforts, the United States remains the world’s top drug market, one amply supplied by South American cartels. The US Drug Enforcement Agency has observed ever larger quantities of illegal drugs pouring into the country.”

Will America Strike Iran Soon…?

CNN reported on June 30:

“The Bush administration has launched a ‘significant escalation’ of covert operations in Iran, sending U.S. commandos to spy on the country’s nuclear facilities and undermine the Islamic republic’s government, journalist Seymour Hersh said Sunday… Hersh told CNN’s ‘Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer’ that Congress has authorized up to $400 million to fund the secret campaign, which involves U.S. special operations troops and Iranian dissidents.

“President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have rejected findings from U.S. intelligence agencies that Iran has halted a clandestine effort to build a nuclear bomb and ‘do not want to leave Iran in place with a nuclear program,’ Hersh said. ‘They believe that their mission is to make sure that before they get out of office next year, either Iran is attacked or it stops its weapons program,’ Hersh said. The new article, ‘Preparing the Battlefield,’ is the latest in a series of articles accusing the Bush administration of preparing for war with Iran.”

AFP added on June 30:

“The commander of the US navy’s Fifth Fleet warned on Monday that the United States will not allow Iran to shut the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf sea lane through which much of the world’s oil is supplied… His remarks followed comments by the chief of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, who issued a new warning last week against any attack against his country over its controversial nuclear drive… The strait between Iran and Oman is a vital conduit for energy supplies, with as much as 40 percent of the world’s crude passing through the waterway from Gulf suppliers…”

… Or Will Israel Strike First?

ABC News wrote on June 30:

“Senior Pentagon officials are concerned that Israel could carry out an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities before the end of the year, an action that would have enormous security and economic repercussions for the United States and the rest of the world. A senior defense official told ABC News there is an ‘increasing likelihood’ that Israel will carry out such an attack, a move that likely would prompt Iranian retaliation against, not just Israel, but against the United States as well.

“The official identified two ‘red lines’ that could trigger an Israeli offensive. The first is tied to when Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility produces enough highly enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon. According to the latest U.S. and Israeli intelligence assessments, that is likely to happen sometime in 2009, and could happen by the end of this year…

“The second red line is connected to when Iran acquires the SA-20 air defense system it is buying from Russia. The Israelis may want to strike before that system — which would make an attack much more difficult — is put in place. Some Pentagon officials also worry that Israel may be determined to attack before a new U.S. president, who may be less supportive, is sworn in next January.

“Pentagon officials believe the massive Israeli air force exercise in early June, first reported by the New York Times, was done to prepare for a possible attack. A senior official called it ‘not a rehearsal, but basic, fundamental training’ required to launch an operation against Iran…

“The widely held view among Pentagon officials is that an Israeli attack would do only temporary damage to Iran’s nuclear program, and that it would cause major problems in the region and beyond, prompting a wave of attacks on U.S. interests in Iraq, the Persian Gulf and elsewhere. As another senior defense official put it, ‘We’d be guilty by association.'”

Reuters added on July 1:

“The United States has repeatedly shielded its Israeli ally from censure by the U.N. Security Council for military action against its Palestinian and other Arab foes. A strike on Iran, however dire the consequences, might be no different. ‘It is very difficult to see the U.S. chastising Israel,’ said Trita Parsi, a Washington-based expert on relations between the two countries and Iran. ‘The U.S. may adopt a quiet attitude, while celebrating the attack behind the scenes.’

“Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer now at the Brookings Institution, said senior Israeli military planners believed a mission to dent Iran’s nuclear program was feasible. ‘History shows Israel will use force to maintain its monopoly of nuclear weapons in the Middle East,’ he told Reuters by email, citing past Israeli attacks on Iraq and Syria. ‘Israeli political leaders may see the last months of a friendly Bush administration as a window of opportunity.'”

Confrontation with Iran–“Israel Will Not Stand By Idly…”

On July 1, Der Spiegel Online published an interview with Isaac Ben-Israel, a former Israeli Air Force general and now member of the ruling Kadima party. We are bringing you the following excerpts:

“Neither the sanctions nor diplomacy have had much of an effect. Today, the Iranians are one to two years away from building a nuclear bomb. We held this military exercise [in Greece] to prepare for the eventuality that the international community will not be able to put a halt to Iran’s nuclear program. It was not the first exercise, and it won’t be the last…

“We also have to offer something to the Iranians. For example, if they put a stop to the uranium enrichment, then we will help them build up their economy. It requires the right combination of the carrot and the stick. We have to make it clear to the Iranian president that he stands to lose more than he can win… If Russia and China endorse the sanctions, the United Nations may be able to achieve their goal. One thing is certain: Israel will not stand by idly while Iran builds a nuclear bomb. If necessary, we will use force…

“Of course they will react, they will launch a few dozen rockets at us, but that’s not so bad. And of course they can set the Lebanese Hezbollah on us. They are better armed than two years ago… We won’t repeat the mistake of 2006. At the time, we hesitated too long and did not act resolutely enough against Hezbollah. Of course they could carry out terrorist attacks against Jewish and Israeli institutions around the world. And they could spark a global crisis of sorts by halting their oil production… the mullahs… wouldn’t be that crazy [to use the bomb], at least they won’t launch nuclear missiles at us directly from Iran. But they could, for example, give the bomb to Hezbollah, I think they are that crazy.”

Russia Warns Israel

AFP wrote on July 2:

“Any military attack on Iran would have a ‘catastrophic’ effect on the Middle East, a Russian foreign ministry official said Wednesday after reports that Israel might launch such an attack. ‘All this is very dangerous. If force is used it will be catastrophic for the whole Middle East,’ the official told journalists on condition of anonymity… Russia, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, has a section of border close to northern Iran in the Caucasus mountains and has been cautious about Western efforts to punish Iran over its nuclear activities.”

Earthquake Soon in Lebanon and Israel?

AFP wrote on June 30:

“A strong earthquake could soon rock Lebanon and parts of Israel, authorities said on Monday, urging health officials in northern Israel to make preparations for such an event… Since February, abnormal seismic activity has been noted in southern Lebanon, which had suffered some 500 minor earthquakes in a three-month period… In May, the tremors have become more intense and were felt in northern Israel… 800 tremors ranging in magnitude from 2.3-5.1 degrees on the Richter scale had shaken the south Lebanon regions of Tyre and Nabatiyeh since February 12…

“Experts in Lebanon expect a quake of between five and six degrees on the Richter scale to strike, like the tremor that shook Lebanon in 1956 killing 136 people and destroying 6,000 houses… Some seismologists in Israel say that quakes have historically rocked the region every eight decades, and the last one was nearly 81 years ago. About 300 people were killed in Jerusalem and nearby Jericho by the July 11, 1927 temblor.

“A similar quake measuring seven on the Richter scale and with an epicentre in the Hula Valley, today in northern Israel, devastated the town of Safed and killed some 4,000 people in 1837.”

Worst June Since Great Depression

Bloomberg reported on June 26:

“U.S. stocks tumbled, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average to its worst June since the Great Depression, as record oil prices, credit-market writedowns and a slowing economy threatened to extend a yearlong profit slump.”

Reuters added on June 30:

“The worldwide credit crisis that burst onto investors’ radar screens nearly a year ago wiped out some $3.3 trillion in wealth from global stock market wealth in the first half of this year, and optimism for a second-half recovery is fading fast.

“Benchmark stock indexes around the world just wrapped up their worst first half in six years or even more. For some, most notably the Dow Jones industrial average, which dropped 14.4 percent in the six months through June 30, it was the poorest start to a year in nearly four decades.”

The New York Times reported on July 3, 2008: “Russia’s new president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, less swaggering than his predecessor but as touchy about criticism from abroad, said in an interview that an America in ‘essentially a depression’ was in no position to lecture other countries on how to conduct their affairs… He also said that a revived Russia had a right to assume a larger role in a world economic system that he suggested should no longer be dominated by the United States.”

Please make sure to watch our recent StandingWatch program, titled, “Coming–The Great Depression” It has been viewed approximately 5,000 times on YouTube.

Europe Needs Change–Fast

AFP reported on June 30:

“France took the European Union helm on Tuesday with President Nicolas Sarkozy calling for profound changes in building Europe following the setback over Ireland’s ‘No’ to the bloc’s key reform treaty. ‘There have been errors in the way that Europe has been built,’ Sarkozy acknowledged during a television interview on the eve of the July 1 opening day for the six-month French EU presidency…

“The energetic leader who proclaimed ‘France is back in Europe’ after winning elections last year is now expected to spend much of his time as EU leader working to salvage the Lisbon Treaty.

“‘We mustn’t rush, but at the same time, we don’t have much time,’ he said, recalling that EU leaders had set the June 2009 European parliament elections as the deadline for approval of the Lisbon Treaty… Sarkozy’s proposal on the oil tax has received a cool reception from EU leaders, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel arguing that cutting the VAT would do nothing to encourage a reduction in consumption…

“France has defined four priorities for its EU stint — immigration, defence, energy and the environment, and agriculture — and one of its most high-profile projects is the July 13 launch of a new Union for the Mediterranean. The union will bring together European countries with states from the Mediterranean rim including Israel and its Arab neighbours to develop cooperation… On Monday evening, the Eiffel Tower was lit a dazzling blue with gold stars, symbolizing the EU colours.”

German, Polish Presidents Refuse to Sign EU Reform Treaty

Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 1:

“Attempts to reform the European Union’s institutions, already in disarray following Ireland’s rejection of the Lisbon Treaty last month, have suffered fresh blows in the last two days with the refusal of the presidents of Germany and Poland to complete the ratification of the treaty…

“German President Horst Köhler’s office announced on Monday he would not sign the ratification documents until the Federal Constitutional Court, the country’s highest court, rules on legal challenges to the treaty, which aims to streamline the bloc’s institutions following the 2004 accession of central and eastern European countries. Köhler’s role is largely ceremonial but he still has the power to halt legislation. The court had asked him not to sign the treaty, approved by both houses of the German parliament earlier this year, pending its hearing of two challenges brought by the Left Party and by a politician from Bavaria’s conservative Christian Social Union party. There is no date set for a ruling by the court, but it may not come until next year.

“Polish President Lech Kaczynski followed suit on Tuesday by saying he will not sign the treaty either for the time being because of Ireland’s rejection. Kaczynski told Polish newspaper Dziennik that it was ‘pointless’ to sign the treaty even though Poland’s parliament had ratified it in April.”

Are Sarkozy’s Days Numbered?

The French news agency, AFP, wrote on July 1:

“France’s six-month stint at the helm of the EU got off to a rocky start Tuesday, with Poland plunging the bloc deeper into crisis and President Nicolas Sarkozy engaged in a bitter row with European trade chief Peter Mandelson. Sarkozy, DEEPLY UNPOPULAR AT HOME, had hoped to score points on the international stage but the French EU presidency was hobbled even before it began by Ireland’s rejection in mid-June of the so-called Lisbon Treaty.

“And on Tuesday the 27-nation bloc took a fresh blow when Polish President Lech Kaczynski said that after the Irish ‘no’ he was refusing to sign the treaty that was aimed at streamlining EU decision-making. That decision puts Kaczynski alongside his Czech counterpart in seeking to delay final ratification of the charter while Germany also faced a legal hurdle to final approval. On top of that came an angry statement Tuesday from Mandelson’s spokesman saying that Sarkozy’s ‘attack’ on the commissioner was ‘wrong and unjustified.'”

Core Europe “Has Long Been Reality”

The Berliner Zeitung wrote on July 2:

“The idea of a core Europe or a two-speed Europe is not at all the heresy that some make it out to be. It has long been reality: Many states do not participate in one of the key issues of European integration: the single currency. Has this damaged the EU? Another successful model of two speeds is the Schengen Agreement.

“There is no need for the current state of perplexity. European politicians should stop acting as if there is no alternative to the Lisbon Treaty. … Those who want a future for the European Union have to stop trying to change the citizens. Instead they should change the policy.'”

Turmoil in Zimbabwe–While the World Stands Idly By…

The present crisis in Zimbabwe, as well as the predictable outcome of Zimbabwe’s most recent undemocratic elections, were long known to the Western world–but nobody did anything about it. Time magazine wrote on June 23, 2008:

“Zimbabwe is in the midst of slow-motion, man-made disaster… President Robert Mugabe’s internal terrorism does not simply consist of starving and harassing hundreds of thousands of people; it also amounts to the systematic demolition of Zimbabwe’s one small hope of democracy…

“…when a calamity is preventable and unfolding systematically before our eyes, nations sit on their hands. The world… turns away quite leisurely from the disaster… why aren’t the U.S. and other democracies making an attempt either to get Zimbabwe to hold genuinely free elections… or to delegitimize in advance what will certainly be undemocratic results?”

But the world did and does nothing, except for giving some useless “lip services” and “verbal condemnations.” And so, The Associated Press reported on June 30:

“Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will not step down and Western critics who called the country’s recent election a sham can ‘go hang,’ the longtime ruler’s spokesman said Tuesday. The defiant comments raised doubts over efforts to persuade Mugabe to share power. Zimbabwe’s opposition also was taking a hard line on power-sharing, further dimming prospects of a quick resolution after last weekend’s runoff election in which Mugabe was the sole candidate.

“Leaders at the AU summit, in its second and final day Tuesday, have been unwilling to publicly criticize Mugabe and instead are gently pushing behind the scenes that he accept some sort of power-sharing agreement with Zimbabwe’s opposition… The United Nations has ‘made it clear’ that dialogue between Mugabe and his rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, is necessary…

“The United States, Britain and other European countries have widely condemned Zimbabwe’s runoff. The U.S. is pushing for more financial and travel sanctions against Mugabe supporters and is urging the U.N. Security Council to impose an arms embargo. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has urged the African Union to reject the result of the runoff, and France says it considers Mugabe’s government ‘illegitimate’…

“In Zimbabwe, there also were strong doubts about an agreement, even as Tsvangirai left the Dutch Embassy, where he had fled for safety after announcing his withdrawal from the runoff because of state-sponsored violence against his supporters…

“Key African leaders have long had close ties to Mugabe, renowned as a campaigner against white rule and colonialism and Zimbabwe’s ruler since its independence in 1980. They are also reluctant to be seen as backing the West — former colonial rulers — against a fellow African. Meanwhile, Egyptian security ramped up restrictions Tuesday on journalists covering the summit after a British TV crew got into a verbal exchange with Mugabe the previous day. Many reporters were not allowed to leave the press area. The confrontation began when British network ITN approached Mugabe outside the conference hall and asked how he could regard himself as president. The Zimbabwean leader responded that it was on the same basis as Brown’s being the British prime minister.”

“African Leaders Should Stand Up Against Mugabe”

The Independent in Britain published the following comments on June 30:

“Robert Mugabe is moving at lightning speed to ensure that his fraudulent re-election as Zimbabwe’s president wins the crucial endorsement of fellow African leaders. Hence the decision to race from the coronation ceremony in Zimbabwe – even before the election results are declared – to the African Union summit in Egypt, where the old gambler intends to bounce Africa’s leaders into accepting his victory…

“African leaders have proved loath to criticise the guerrilla leader who toppled Ian Smith’s white Rhodesia, and feelings of racial and political solidarity have traditionally trumped concerns over Zimbabwe’s breathtaking collapse under Mugabe’s brutal but cack-handed rule…

“Kenya’s leaders have spoken out against the nonsense of an election in which only one candidate took part and the opposition was driven from the field by terror. Botswana has also made known its deep unhappiness over the state of its neighbour. Pan-African observers of the Zimbabwe election have declined to bless the poll, insisting it was neither free nor fair. Clearly, they were swayed by the defiance of many Zimbabweans who refused to vote, spoiled their ballot papers, or even cast votes for the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, though he had by then withdrawn as a candidate.

“Until now, Mugabe has been able to rely on nods and winks from Thabo Mbeki in South Africa, the only country with real leverage over Zimbabwe. It would be too much to expect a change of heart from Mbeki at this late stage; but sharp criticism of the Mugabe regime from the new ANC leader, Jacob Zuma, as well as from Archbishop Desmond Tutu and, in recent days, from Nelson Mandela, shows that black South Africans no longer feel as bound by ties of loyalty to Zimbabwe’s boss as they did…

“Resolution of Zimbabwe’s crisis is urgent. Discussion of its government as a tyranny often misses the point. This is not an otherwise economically ‘normal’ country, disfigured by a politically repressive regime. It is a country where the economy is collapsing with such terrifying speed that a large proportion of the population faces only two options: flight, or death by starvation. It is still not too late to salvage something of Zimbabwe’s vanished prosperity and prevent its further descent into hopeless turmoil. But it depends on Mugabe’s speedy exit from the stage…”

American Archbishop Burke to Head Vatican Supreme Court

The Associated Press reported on June 28:

“An archbishop who tussled with singer Sheryl Crow, college basketball coach Rick Majerus, and Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry over their support for abortion rights has been named as the first American to lead the Vatican supreme court. Archbishop Raymond Burke, an expert in church law and perhaps the most outspoken of conservative U.S. bishops, will likely be made a cardinal after his appointment Friday. The supreme court is traditionally headed by a cardinal… Burke’s new appointment shows that Pope Benedict XVI has a great amount of respect for U.S. bishops… It comes on the heels of Benedict’s naming William Joseph Cardinal Levada, former archbishop of San Francisco and Portland, Ore., as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith…

“Burke… excommunicated three women for participating in a women’s ordination that is forbidden by the Roman Catholic Church… Burke said he would move to Rome in late August to head the supreme court, which resolves jurisdictional disputes among various Vatican tribunals and hears procedural appeals on marriage annulments. Benedict and his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, have complained for years that local tribunals grant an excessive number of annulments…

“In 2004, Burke caused a stir by saying he would deny Communion to Kerry because of the Massachusetts senator’s stance supporting abortion rights. Last year, Burke indicated he would [do] the same for then-Republican front-runner Rudy Giuliani. He also protested Crow’s appearance at a benefit for a Catholic children’s hospital over her support for embryonic stem cell research.”

Former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt–“Both Sides in the Grips of Insanity”

On June 26, Der Spiegel Online published an interesting interview with former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt (89). We are bringing you the following excerpts:

“I was 26 when the war ended and I knew nothing about the world. I had grown up during the Nazi period and, until I was made a prisoner of war, I had never heard the word democracy… It quickly became clear that the soldiers of the Western allies were largely outnumbered by the Soviet Union’s enormous buildup of troops…

“When it comes to war, as well as the prevention of war, it is not merely a question of economic capacities and the size of the defense budget, but also of the sheer size of the armed forces. You can see an example of this in Iraq. The Americans do not have enough people on the ground there, so they cannot win the war…

“I did not see the Americans and the British as enemies. Not even as a soldier, despite the fact that I am a native of Hamburg, where in 1943 some 30,000 to 40,000 people were killed by the British in a single week. But the people of Hamburg have been Anglophiles since the Napoleonic Wars and they held it less against the British [than] against Hermann Göring, who had failed to protect them…

“[During the time of the Cold War, both] sides were in the grips of… insanity. And things have not changed. The Americans still have around 10,000 nuclear warheads. And the Russians have a few more…

“The fact of the matter is that up until the 1980s, the Soviet Union used its physical potential to fuel a military buildup to a greater degree than any other country… It was of course a rigid dictatorship… The Soviet Union imploded, but not as a result of the Cold War. Some Americans would like to believe that they ran the Russians into the ground with the arms race. That is an understandable exaggeration, but it is also absurd…

“The Cuban Missile Crisis was the most perilous moment in the second half of the 20th century. The greatest strategic challenge in the 21st century is not terrorism but rather the population explosion and the growing cultural conflict between the West and the Islamic part of the world. These problems could produce mass migrations and possibly even wars.”

“Civilization-Threatening” Impact Long Overdue

USA Today reported on June 30:

“The centennial anniversary of the last big impact, the 1908 Tunguska blast that rocked Siberia, falls Monday, June 30… The Tunguska ‘event’ leveled nearly 800 square miles of swampy woodland in Siberia, traveling from the northwest to deliver a 5-megaton blast seen by hundreds of witnesses, including one who created a postage stamp of the explosion. A space rock about 50 yards long had zoomed into the Earth’s atmosphere and exploded in mid-air… Years later, a scientific expedition to the remote region found trees knocked sideways in straight lines radiating 15 miles away from the blast.

“Science journals this week brought us more warnings of asteroid hazards, looking even further back in time. Buried under the Chesapeake Bay and its surroundings hides a 35.4 million year-old impact crater about 56 miles across. A team led by Gregory Gohn of the U.S. Geologic Survey reports in the current Science journal that… the blast [was] one that dwarfs the Tunguska event…

“Asteroids and comets are still out there, of course… All told, astronomers have spotted more than 5,000… ‘Near-Earth Objects’ since the 1990s.

“In terms of risk to Earth, astronomer David Morrison of NASA’s Ames Research Center says a Tunguska-magnitude strike could happen once every two centuries and a bigger impact, a ‘civilization-threatening’ million-megaton strike, could happen once every 2 million years. Scientists only started to worry about these impacts in the 1960s, when researchers such as Gene Shoemaker realized the moon was covered with impact craters. And in 1980, Science published a study detailing how an asteroid strike, centered in the Gulf of Mexico near the Yucatan peninsula, was implicated in the extinction of dinosaurs about 65 million years ago, raising more concern.”

Our free booklet, “The Theory of Evolution–A Fairy Tale for Adults,” describes numerous big impacts in the past and raises the question, from a scientific AND a biblical standpoint, whether mankind should expect a civilization-threatening impact in the near future.

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