Current Events

The Demonic Origin of Christmas Traditions

As we reported in Update 371, the Austrian Krampus–the demonic “alter ego” of “St. Nicholas”–finds its counterpart in Germany in a demonic personage accompanying “St. Nicholas,” known as “Knecht Ruprecht.” He performs the same function as the Austrian Krampus, terrifying and punishing children.

But Austria and Germany are not the only European countries which manifest clear and obvious evidence of the demonic and pagan origins of our modern Christmas traditions and celebrations.

Der Spiegel Online reported on December 12, 2008, about the Italian “witch of Christmas,” as follows:

“Italy has its own Father Christmas. But it’s La Befana, the ugly, broom-flying and present-wielding witch who keeps children on their toes in many parts of the country. Like St. Nick, Befana knows who’s been naughty and nice.

“A strange post-Christmas pilgrimage takes place each year in the hills of northeastern Italy’s Le Marche, when thousands of kids flock to a small medieval town called Urbania to sit on the lap of an ugly old witch. On the eve of Jan. 6, La Befana flies down chimneys or through keyholes throughout Italy to have her say over who’s been naughty or nice…

“Like many Christian traditions, Befana has pagan roots, as a good witch who played the role of Mother Nature and was celebrated in December for providing life throughout the year.”

In addition to Italy’s “good” WITCH of Christmas, please take note of the “Black Pete” of Netherlands–another counterfeit of Krampus and Knecht Ruprecht. Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 5, 2008:

“Myths about Santa’s sinister helpers are as widespread in Europe as Grimm’s Fairy Tales. In parts of Germany, Knecht Ruprecht brings terror into the hearts of naughty children when the gift-giving season arrives. In Austria it’s Krampus, the horned devil who torments adolescents with asocial tendencies. In France, Pere Foutard does the proverbial whipping… But in no country is the tale of Santa’s diabolical sidekick as bizarre as in the Netherlands, home to Zwarte Piet (‘Black Pete’).

“The story of Black Pete is unique on the continent and it is also one of Europe’s oddest and most titilating Christmas traditions — one that tends to raise the eyebrows of foreign visitors and local immigrants. No small number of people see the yuletide character as a racist emblem of Holland’s colonial past… Many say it was Holland’s Sinterklaas who inspired America’s modern-day Santa… Unlike Santa, who lives at the North Pole, Sinterklaas resides in sunny Spain… With his gold crosier, red bishop’s dress and red mitre, he’s far more ecclesiastical looking than his portly American counterpart…

“Perpetually in tow is Sinterklaas’ slave, Black Pete. At least that’s what he was called from his 19th century origins up until the 1950s… In the new tale told to children each year, that pesky black face paint on Zwarte Piet’s face comes from soot collected as Santa’s helper wriggles down chimneys to deposit branches in the shoes of badly behaving kids or to help deliver presents from Sinterklaas for the good ones. Some whitewashers of this racist little tale also like to say he’s a chimney sweep. ‘It’s just an excuse used by people because they don’t like to be reminded of the dark nature of Black Pete’…”

However, the real origin of the “dark nature” of Black Pete has nothing to do with his color. Notice the following comments by the Wikipedia Encyclopedia, pointing at the REAL ORIGIN of the Black Peter of the Netherlands (“Schwarze Piet”):

“According to myths current before the beginning of the 19th century, Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas) operated by himself or in the companionship of a devil… Some sources indicate that in Germanic Europe, Zwarte Piet originally was such an enslaved devil forced to assist his captor… The character is believed to have been derived from pagan traditions of evil spirits… The traditions of the Saint Nicholas feast are in part at least of medieval origin, if not much older. St. Nicholas himself, as described in the Dutch tradition shows some similarities to Wuotan/Odin, which suggests that the duo have a pre-Christian origin.”

Our free booklet, “Don’t Keep Christmas,” explains in detail the relationship between Nordic pagan gods, such as Wotan or Odin, and the modern Santa Claus.

Obama Stimulus Could Reach $1 Trillion

Reuters reported on December 13:

“President-elect Barack Obama’s team is considering a plan to boost the recession-hit U.S. economy that could be far larger than previous estimates and might reach $1 trillion over two years…

“The administration of President George W. Bush has been given authority by Congress to spend up to $700 billion in taxpayer money to rescue the nation’s banking system…”

“Most of the Largest U.S. Banks Are Totally Bankrupt”

Reuters reported on December 11:

“Jim Rogers, one of the world’s most prominent international investors, on Thursday called most of the largest U.S. banks ‘totally bankrupt,’ and said government efforts to fix the sector are wrongheaded… [He] said the government’s $700 billion rescue package for the sector doesn’t address how banks manage their balance sheets, and instead rewards weaker lenders with new capital…

“‘What is outrageous economically and is outrageous morally is that normally in times like this, people who are competent and who saw it coming and who kept their powder dry go and take over the assets from the incompetent,’ he said. ‘What’s happening this time is that the government is taking the assets from the competent people and giving them to the incompetent people and saying, now you can compete with the competent people. It is horrible economics.’…

“Many analysts cite Lehman’s Sept 15 bankruptcy as a trigger for the recent cratering in the economy and stock markets. Rogers called that idea ‘laughable’… ‘Governments are making mistakes,’ he said. ‘They’re saying to all the banks, you don’t have to tell us your situation. You can continue to use your balance sheet that is phony…. All these guys are bankrupt, they’re still worrying about their bonuses, they’re still trying to pay their dividends, and the whole system is weakened.'”

Alleged Wall Street Investment Scam Affects Banks Worldwide

AFP reported on December 15:

“Top world financial groups on Monday revealed massive potential losses from an alleged scam run by Wall Street trader Bernard Madoff, admitting they were fooled by a classic pyramid investment fraud.

“British, French, Japanese and Spanish banks and funds said investments totalling billions of dollars (euros) could be wiped off their balance sheets by a scandal that is set to affect some of the richest people in the world.

“Royal Bank of Scotland said it could lose about 400 million pounds (598 million dollars, 444 million euros), joining a growing list of banks and investors in Europe, Asia and the United States struck by the scandal…

“Madoff, a 70-year-old Wall Street veteran, was arrested last Thursday. He is alleged by US prosecutors to have confessed to defrauding investors of 50 billion dollars in a long-running scam that collapsed after clients asked for their money back as a result of the global financial crisis… US authorities allege that Madoff delivered consistently strong returns to clients by secretly using the principal investment from new investors to pay out to other investors in the scheme, a version of what is known as ‘pyramid fraud’… This fraud is also known as a ‘Ponzi scheme’…”

U.S. Housing Market–How Bad Is It Really?

USA Today reported on December 12:

“As painful as the decline has been, history suggests home values still may have a long way to drop and may take decades to return to the heights of 2½ years ago… So far, home values nationally have tumbled an average of 19% from their peak. As bad as that is, prices would need to fall at least 17% more to reach their traditional relationship to household income… In that scenario, a $300,000 house in 2006 could be worth about $200,000 when real estate prices hit bottom.

“The price plunge has wiped out trillions of dollars in home equity and caused the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression… Wachovia economist Adam York expects home values to keep falling until 2010 but is optimistic they will recover… Consider a couple with $20,000 cash. In 2006, they easily could get a 5% down mortgage to buy a $400,000 house. Today, a 10% down payment would limit the couple to a $200,000 house.”

Depression in Canada Possible

AFP reported on December 16:

“Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivered a grim forecast for the Canadian economy, saying… a depression is possible. “‘The truth is, I’ve never seen such uncertainty in terms of looking forward to the future,’ Harper told CTV. ‘I’m very worried about the Canadian economy’… Harper also said his finance minister’s budget on January 27 would include billions of dollars in stimulus spending… ‘Obviously, we’re going to have to run a deficit,’ Harper said. ‘We’re talking about spending billions of dollars that was not planned.'”

Mr. Obama’s Race–and the American Melting Pot

On December 14, The Associated Press wrote the following:

“A perplexing new chapter is unfolding in Barack Obama’s racial saga: Many people insist that ‘the first black president’ is actually not black. Debate over whether to call this son of a white Kansan and a black Kenyan biracial, African-American, mixed-race, half-and-half, multiracial — or, in Obama’s own words, a ‘mutt’ — has reached a crescendo since Obama’s election shattered assumptions about race.

“Obama has said, ‘I identify as African-American — that’s how I’m treated and that’s how I’m viewed. I’m proud of it.’ In other words, the world gave Obama no choice but to be black, and he was happy to oblige. But the world has changed since the young Obama found his place in it.

“Intermarriage and the decline of racism are dissolving ancient definitions. The candidate Obama, in achieving what many thought impossible, was treated differently from previous black generations. And many white and mixed-race people now view President-elect Obama as something other than black…

“Rebecca Walker, a 38-year-old writer with light brown skin who is of Russian, African, Irish, Scottish and Native American descent, said she used to identify herself as ‘human,’ which upset people of all backgrounds… ‘Of course Obama is black. And he’s not black, too,’ Walker said. ‘He’s white, and he’s not white, too. Obama is whatever people project onto him … he’s a lot of things, and neither of them necessarily exclude the other.’

“But U.S. Rep. G. K. Butterfield, a black man who by all appearances is white, feels differently… ‘Obama has chosen the heritage he feels comfortable with,’ he said. ‘His physical appearance is black. I don’t know how he could have chosen to be any other race. Let’s just say he decided to be white — people would have laughed at him’…

“The entire issue balances precariously on the ‘one-drop’ rule, which sprang from the slaveowner habit of dropping by the slave quarters and producing brown babies. One drop of black blood meant that person, and his or her descendants, could never be a full citizen. Today, the spectrum of skin tones among African-Americans — even those with two black parents — is evidence of widespread white ancestry. Also, since blacks were often light enough to pass for white, unknown numbers of white Americans today have blacks hidden in their family trees. One book, ‘Black People and their Place in World History,’ by Dr. Leroy Vaughn, even claims that five past presidents — Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge — had black ancestors, which would make Obama the sixth of his kind…

“‘We do not have our first black president,’ the author Christopher Hitchens said on the BBC program ‘Newsnight.’ ‘He is not black. He is as black as he is white’…

“Latinos, whom the census identifies as an ethnic group and not a race, were not counted separately by the government until the 1970s. After the 1990 census, many people complained that the four racial categories — white, black, Asian, and American Indian/Alaska native — did not fit them. The government then allowed people to check more than one box. (It also added a fifth category, for Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders.)

“Six million people, or 2 percent of the population, now say they belong to more than one race, according to the most recent census figures. Another 19 million people, or 6 percent of the population, identify themselves as ‘some other race’ than the five available choices.”

Arab World Hails Shoe Attack on President Bush

AFP reported on December 15:

“Iraq faced mounting calls on Monday to release the journalist who hurled his shoes at George W. Bush [during Mr. Bush’s recent visit and press conference in Iraq], an action branded shameful by the government but hailed by many in the Arab world as an ideal parting gift to the unpopular US president… Soles of shoes are considered the ultimate insult in Arab culture. After Saddam’s statue was toppled in Baghdad in April 2003, many onlookers beat the statue’s face with their soles…
“‘The flying shoe speaks more for Arab public opinion than all the despots/puppets that Bush meets with during his travels in the Middle East,’ said Asad Abu Khalil, a popular Lebanese-American blogger and professor at Stanislaus University in California…”

Israel Warns the World Against Iran reported on December 18:

“Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned Wednesday that if Iran acquires a nuclear weapon, it could try to attack the United States… ‘If it built even a primitive nuclear weapon like the type that destroyed Hiroshima, Iran would not hesitate to load it on a ship, arm it with a detonator operated by GPS and sail it into a vital port on the east coast of North America,’ Barak told the audience.

“Indicating the possibility of a military strike, Barak said, ‘We are not taking any option off the table, and we recommend to the world not to take any option off the table, and we mean what we say.'”

German Right-Wing Extremism on the Rise

Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 15:

“Right-wing extremism is widely perceived as a problem confined to eastern Germany. Yet Saturday’s knife attack on the police chief of Passau [Alois Mannichl] shows it is well established in Bavaria too… Mannichl is regarded as a committed enemy of the violent far-right scene…

“Bavaria’s interior minister, Joachim Herrmann, said the assault showed that far-right violence had reached a new level… ‘We must take this escalation of violence very seriously.’

“Bavaria has a well-established neo-Nazi scene. The domestic intelligence service estimates that there are around 1,100 violent neo-Nazis in Bavaria and around 10,000 in Germany. In Passau alone, the number of far-right crimes doubled to 83 this year compared with 2007.”

“Germany’s Weakest Economic Performance Since World War II”

Deutsche Welle reported on December 13:

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier have dampened expectations of a second economic rescue package, saying there won’t be any speedy decisions…

“Meanwhile, the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel reported that government experts expect Europe’s largest economy to contract by two percent next year. This would be Germany’s weakest economic performance since World War II.”

“Germany Against the Rest of the World”

Welt On Line wrote on December 13:

“German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck vilifies Britain’s financial stimulus plan in an interview with American magazine Newsweek, saying that making VAT cuts won’t solve the problem, but rather will build a national debt that will take at least a generation to pay off. The problem? Everyone seems to be against Germany’s solution. German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck has angered some by openly criticizing European economic rescue packages. The tone seems to be getting bitter in the discussion about what is the correct reaction to the global economic downturn.

“After Britain invited French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso for talks ahead of the EU summit, and didn’t invite German Chancellor Angela Merkel, German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck hit back.

“’Are you really going to buy a DVD player because it now costs £39.10 instead of £39.90?’ he asks, taking a gibe at British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in an interview with American magazine Newsweek. Brown has cut the interest rate from 17.5 percent to 15 percent to relieve the financial burden slightly for the British population in addition to stimulating the nation’s economy. Yet, in Steinbrueck’s opinion, all Brown’s plan can achieve ‘is raise Britain’s debt to a level that will take a whole generation to work off’.

“Steinbrueck’s comments are the best proof for the differences in opinion between Germany and its partners. The French and the British want to stimulate the economy with public funds, but Germany refuses to abide. This causes irritation not only because Germany, as Europe’s leading economy, should lead the stimulus-movement, but also because the global export champion had made profits from the boom of the others.

“Paul Krugman, the recent recipient of the Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences, referred to Steinbrueck as dumb, saying that a refusal to cooperate with debt-financed stimulus packages can cause severe damage. Steinbrueck’s interview also left a sour taste in Britain, where the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) described it as an ‘unusual break of diplomatic customs’…”

Anglo-German Dispute Deepens

The Independent wrote on December 13:

“Britain has formally protested to the German government about the stinging attack on Gordon Brown by its Finance Minister, deepening the Anglo-German dispute over the Prime Minister’s economic strategy. Sir Michael Arthur, the British ambassador in Berlin, raised strong objections with the German Finance Ministry over the remarks by Peer Steinbrück, who branded Mr Brown’s £20bn fiscal stimulus ‘crass’ and ‘breathtaking’.

“David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, denied knowledge of the complaint. But the British embassy in Berlin confirmed that Mr Steinbrück’s criticism was raised by Sir Michael, a clear sign that the Brown Government was rattled by the attack. A spokesman said the ambassador had made it clear that, ‘we fundamentally disagreed with the comments made by Peer Steinbrück’.

“Yesterday, the pound fell to a record low against the euro for the fifth day running, dropping to €1.1191 amid fears that the British economy would be among the hardest hit by the recession…”

Pound and Dollar Drop Further Against the Euro

The Telegraph wrote on December 15:

“Sterling slumped further this morning, leaving the currency worth just 90p against the euro for the first time since the launch of Europe’s single currency, as concern about the depth of Britain’s recession dominates foreign-exchange markets…

“Steve Barrow, currency strategist at Standard Bank said he was ‘fearful’ for the pound which he believes could fall to parity against the euro in 2009.”

The Financial Times added on December 17:

“The US currency suffered its biggest one-day slide against the euro since the birth of the single European currency in January 1999 as the euro jumped from under $1.40 to above $1.44… Following the Fed meeting on Tuesday, which reduced interest rates to a range of zero per cent to 0.25 per cent, US rates are now lower than those in Japan for the first time since 1993…”

Bloomberg elaborated on December 17:

“The world’s biggest currency-trading firms say the dollar’s appeal as a haven amid the financial crisis all but evaporated… The dollar is likely to decline ‘longer term,’ analysts including New York-based Ashraf Laidi at CMC Markets wrote in a report… The Fed’s debt purchases will cause the dollar to weaken…, analysts led by Robert Sinche, New York-based head of global currency strategy at Bank of America Corp., wrote in a report yesterday… ‘Those temporary supports for the dollar appear to have eroded,’ Sinche wrote. ‘Aggressive quantitative easing by the Fed should add to U.S. dollar supply globally and undermine the value of the dollar’…

“The dollar’s decline against the euro compares with a similar move in the early 1990s, indicating the U.S. currency may weaken to a record low… next year, Citigroup Inc. strategists Tom Fitzpatrick in New York and Shyam Devani in London wrote in a research note… The U.S. currency’s drop is becoming ‘broader-based,’ Jens Nordvig a New York-based strategist for the U.S. securities firm, wrote today. ‘Temporary dollar demand from deleveraging and funding flows has come to an end.'”

Deadly Disease Affects Great Britain

The Daily Express wrote on December 15:

“Millions face being struck down by a deadly winter vomiting bug sweeping the country. Scores of hospitals have been forced to close wards to new patients as they struggle to cope with the influx of norovirus sufferers…

“As the crisis deepens, health campaigners are warning that hospitals face going into ‘complete meltdown’ over Christmas and New Year. Last year more than three million people were struck down by the bug as it reached epidemic levels. Now experts are warning that the virus could affect even more this year.

“It appears to be taking hold much earlier than usual… At its height last year the virus, which causes projectile vomiting, diarrhoea, mild fever and headaches, was striking down more than 200,000 a week. The illness can prove deadly for the vulnerable –  children and the elderly.”

Secret Talks on New EU President and EU Foreign Affairs Minister

The Telegraph wrote on December 12:

“EU leaders have agreed a ‘path’ offering Ireland concessions ‘with a view to enabling the Treaty to enter into force by the end of 2009’. Negotiations on the EU President and Foreign Affairs posts created under the Lisbon Treaty stopped in June when the Irish [voted] ‘No’.

“… with a new Ireland deal done, diplomats have confirmed secret talks on the job description of the EU President and the size of a new European diplomatic service, will now begin – months before the Irish vote again… Candidates for the two top EU jobs will be chosen at a summit in December 2009 after intense work is carried on throughout next year…

“EU leaders will promise that under the deal, Ireland will keep a permanent European Commissioner along with legal guarantees that Brussels will not interfere with the country’s military neutrality, taxation, social and ethical issues… The second Irish referendum is expected to take place next autumn once details of opt-outs and concession are concluded in June 2009.”

The Irish Government “Betrayed” Its People

The EUObserver wrote on December 11:

“The French president yesterday told the group leaders of the European parliament that he has made a deal with the Irish government to hold a second referendum in Ireland to ratify the Lisbon treaty first rejected on 12 June by 53 percent of Irish voters. None of the representatives of the Irish people who voted No to the Lisbon Treaty were consulted by the Irish government before they struck a deal with the French Presidency. The Irish government has simply ignored the result of the referendum and betrayed those people who voted No in the majority…”

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