Current Events

The Ark of the Covenant–Lost and Found and Lost Again…

WorldNetDaily reported on June 24:

“The patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Ethiopia says he will announce to the world Friday [June 26] the unveiling of the Ark of the Covenant, perhaps the world’s most prized archaeological and spiritual artifact, which he says has been hidden away in a church in his country for millennia… ‘The Ark of the Covenant is in Ethiopia for many centuries,’ said Pauolos. ‘As a patriarch I have seen it with my own eyes and only few highly qualified persons could do the same, until now.’ According to Pauolos, the actual Ark has been kept in one church, but to defend the treasure, a copy was placed in every single church in Ethiopia…

“The idea that the Ark is presently in Ethiopia is a well-documented, albeit disputed, tradition dating back to at least 642 B.C… Ethiopians believe it is destined to be delivered to the Messiah when He reigns on Mount Zion – the Temple Mount in Jerusalem… Muslim scholars say it will be found near the end of times by the Mahdi – a messianic figure in Islam.”

But, not surprisingly, it was not supposed to be.

The Ethiopian Review wrote on June 27:

“Yesterday, millions were waiting to watch eagerly the Ark of the Covenant revealed. A day passed but it was not made public. ‘No, the ark is not going to be revealed. Nobody could touch it. If you do so, God will smite you,’ Aba Gebremedhin said… [He] also talked of building a museum in Axum… within two years… [In it] could also be placed the Ark of the Covenant, but this needs to be decided by the Holy Synod, the supreme body of the Orthodox Church of Ethiopia [he said].”

Nevertheless, WorldNetDaily added the following on June 26:

“Bob Cornuke, biblical investigator, international explorer and best-selling author… said Ethiopians consider the Ark to be the ultimate holy object, and the church guards the suspected artifact from the ‘eyes and pollution of man… In Ethiopia, their whole culture is centered around worshipping this object’… But according to a statement… by the webmaster for the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, there is no chance that the religious leaders and people in the nation will give up their custody of what they believe is the Ark.”

The Apostle Paul’s Bones Found?

CNN reported on June 29:

“Scientific tests prove bones housed in the Basilica of St. Paul in Rome are those of the apostle St. Paul himself, according to Pope Benedict XVI. ‘Tiny fragments of bone’ in the sarcophagus were subjected to carbon dating, showing they ‘belong to someone who lived in the first or second century,’ the pope said in a homily carried on Italian television. ‘This seems to confirm the unanimous and undisputed tradition that these are the mortal remains of the Apostle St. Paul,’ Benedict said in Sunday’s announcement.”

As will be pointed out below, this tradition is neither “unanimous” nor “undisputed.” In fact, it is FALSE!

The Telegraph added on June 29:

“The announcement of the discovery was timed to mark the end of the ‘Pauline Year’ – 12 months in which the Roman Catholic Church has been celebrating the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of the ‘Apostle of the Gentiles’… The discovery of the bone fragments came shortly after the Vatican announced archaeologists had discovered what they believe is the oldest image in existence of Saint Paul, dating from the late 4th century, on the walls of catacomb beneath Rome.”

Der Stern wrote on June 30 that there is NO EVIDENCE that these were the bones of the Apostle Paul. Quite to the contrary, the magazine points out that the sarcophagus was only built in about 390 A.D., so that the bones could not have been placed there before. The magazine also asks how one can be sure that the bones which were found in that particular sarcophagus were the bones originally placed there, and that those bones were not later replaced.

Die Welt On Line added on June 30 that there can be no certainty that the bones are those of the Apostle Paul, and that experts DOUBT the accuracy of the Pope’s claim.

We can say that the excavated bones, allegedly belonging to a person who lived in the first or second century, are definitely NOT the bones of the Apostle Paul, even IF the age determination of the highly unreliable Carbon 14 method were correct in this case. The reason being, the Apostle Paul’s remains are NOT to be found in Rome.

Even the Catholic news agency Zenit admitted on June 28: “Despite the fact that the original tomb of St. Paul had been the object of profound devotion on the part of pilgrims from the beginning, over the centuries it disappeared from view and eventually could no longer be identified.” There are reasons for that development. For more information, please read our Q&A on the subject of the time and place of the Apostle Paul’s burial.

And Now… Unrest in Honduras

The Wall Street Journal wrote on June 29:

“Honduran soldiers rousted President Manuel Zelaya from his bed and exiled him at gunpoint Sunday to Costa Rica, halting his controversial push to redraw the constitution but spurring fresh concerns about democratic rule across Latin America… Mr. Zelaya called the action a kidnapping, and said he was still president. The U.S. and other countries condemned the coup. President Barack Obama said he was ‘deeply concerned’ and called on all political actors in Honduras to ‘respect democratic norms.’ Venezuela President Hugo Chávez, a close ally of Mr. Zelaya and nemesis of the U.S., said he would consider it an ‘act of war’ if there were hostilities against his diplomats. ‘I have put the armed forces of Venezuela on alert,’ Mr. Chávez said…

“Troops with riot shields continued to surround the presidential palace on Monday and armored military vehicles were parked in front… Honduras’s Supreme Court gave the order for the military to detain the president… Later, Honduras’s Congress formally removed Mr. Zelaya from the presidency and named congressional leader Roberto Micheletti as his successor until the end of Mr. Zelaya’s term in January…

“Mr. Micheletti is a member of Mr. Zelaya’s Liberal party. But he had opposed his plans for a referendum that could have led to overturning the constitution’s ban on re-election, allowing Mr. Zelaya to potentially stay in power past January, when his term ends…

“The Obama administration and members of the Organization of American States had worked for weeks to try to avert any moves to overthrow President Zelaya… The efforts accelerated over the weekend, as Washington grew increasingly alarmed… On Sunday, the U.S. embassy here tried repeatedly to contact the Honduran military directly, but was rebuffed. Washington called the removal of President Zelaya a coup and said it wouldn’t recognize any other leader.

“The U.S. stand was unpopular with Honduran deputies. One congressman, Toribio Aguilera, got prolonged applause from his colleagues when he urged the U.S. ambassador to reconsider. Mr. Aguilera said the U.S. didn’t understand the danger that Mr. Zelaya and his friendships with Mr. Chavez and Cuba’s Fidel Castro posed. Retired Honduran Gen. Daniel López Carballo justified the move against the president, telling CNN that if the military hadn’t acted, Mr. Chávez would eventually be running Honduras by proxy. It was a common view Sunday…

“Latin America analysts said the Honduran coup will complicate President Obama’s efforts to re-engage a region where anti-Americanism has flourished in recent years. They said Mr. Chavez is likely to seize on the crisis to depict Central America as under attack… As a result, analysts said Mr. Obama will need to aggressively call for the reinstatement of President Zelaya, despite U.S. concerns that he is seeking to mirror Mr. Chávez’s campaign to secure limitless rule…

“Mr. Casas-Zamora [Costa Rica’s former vice president and a senior fellow at Washington’s Brookings Institution] and other regional analysts said the coup raised questions about just how much influence Washington actually has in Central America, given the Obama administration’s failed effort to avert it. Honduras receives more than $200 million in development aid from Washington annually.”

Reuters wrote on June 29:

“U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday the coup that ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was illegal and would set a ‘terrible precedent’ of transition by military force unless it was reversed… Despite Obama’s comments, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the administration was not formally designating the ouster as a military coup for now, a step that would force a cut-off of most U.S. aid to Honduras. Under U.S. law, no aid — other than for the promotion of democracy — may be provided to a country whose elected head of government has been toppled in a military coup.”

The Associated Press wrote on July 1:

“The Obama administration said Wednesday it has suspended joint military operations with Honduras to protest a coup that forced President Manuel Zelaya into exile.”

Reuters added on July 2:

“Rejecting the return of ousted President Manuel Zelaya, Honduras’ interim leaders dug in for a fight on Thursday… In the worst crisis in Central America in a decade… a standoff… is testing U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration after he promised an era of better relations with the region.”

International Community Condemns Honduras “Coup”

The left-leaning magazine, Der Spiegel Online, wrote on June 30:

“This weekend’s coup in Honduras has been met with general international condemnation. Criticism of the putsch is coming from all sides of the political spectrum… Micheletti has not been recognized, various South American states have withdrawn diplomatic staff and halted trade. The United Nations has called for ‘a reinstatement of the democratically elected representatives of the country,’ the European Union wants to see ‘a swift return to constitutional normality’ and the US, which has strong military ties with Honduras, has also weighed in…

“The financial daily Handelsblatt writes:

“‘What makes this coup particularly bad is the complicity between the Honduran parliament and the local armed forces. Only hours after Zelaya was forced to leave the country, Congress presented a blatantly false letter of resignation from him… Zelaya himself wasn’t always a good democrat — he ignored, for example, the fact that the highest judicial office in his country had ruled against the referendum he planned to hold… In any case, a coup was clearly the wrong solution…’

“The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:

“‘… this situation cannot be justified. It is the duty of centrist politicians everywhere to protest these actions… But they also need to take care that they are not dancing to the same tune that Zelaya’s local allies — leaders like Chavez, Ortega and Morales — are playing. Because the politics of those leaders actually have more to do with the bad old days in Latin America than any pure, new democratic order’…”

But not all are in agreement. Die Welt On Line wrote on June 30 about the “fairy tale of a coup in Honduras.” The paper stated that there was NO coup, but only the parliament-initiated removal of a president who was in the process, step-by-step, to usurp the constitution and bring about a coup himself. The paper also claimed that the violence in Honduras is perpetrated by pro-Zelaya demonstrators who were seen shooting at the police, and not vice versa.

Time Is Running Out For Iran

The Financial Times reported on June 27:

“Iran’s nuclear programme and its post-election crisis dominated talks this weekend among Group of Eight foreign ministers meeting in Italy, with a sense that time was running out for the international community to respond, diplomats said. The ministerial discussions, preparing a wide range of global issues for next month’s G8 summit, also revealed how little they understood of what was happening inside Iran and within the regime…

“Although Israel was not directly mentioned, the diplomats said there was an unspoken understanding of a danger that Israel might take military action against Iran’s nuclear sites if the international community did not make progress on the diplomatic front. The final G8 statement expressed deep concern over the proliferation risks of Iran’s ongoing nuclear programme and called on Iran to ‘seize this opportunity to give diplomacy a chance to find a negotiated solution to the nuclear issue.’ Diplomats said the coded language conveyed a message to Iran that non-diplomatic means – including possible military action – remained a risk it should consider… There was no discussion of drawing up further economic and financial sanctions against Iran…

“Iran has defied UN resolutions demanding that it halt its uranium enrichment programme… Javier Solana, EU foreign policy chief who has led on-off nuclear negotiations with Iran, has a mandate to try to re-engage the Iranians, although it is not clear to whom he might talk. Mr Solana was prepared ‘to put more on the table,’ diplomats said, without giving details. But they did not expect Iran to re-enter talks in the near future…

“Western foreign ministers and Japan were relieved that Russia signed up to the final statement which deplored, but did not ‘condemn,’ the post-electoral violence in Iran and expressed ‘solidarity with those who have suffered repression while peacefully demonstrating’… Russia, with its close economic and military ties to Iran, was quick to congratulate Mr Ahmadi-Nejad on his re-election when he visited Russia after the vote.

“The G8 comprises Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and US.”

EU Warns Iran

Deutsche Welle reported on June 28:

“The European Union agreed on Sunday that intimidation and harassment of European diplomatic staff by Iran in Tehran would be met with a ‘strong and collective response’… At least 25 people have been killed during crackdowns by Iranian police and religious militia in recent demonstrations… On Sunday, police arrested [nine] Iranians working for the British Embassy in Tehran, claiming they played a role in the post-election riots…

“The international community continues to voice alarm at the violent crackdown on opposition protesters in the election aftermath, but the Iranian government has hit back, accusing Western nations – particularly the United States, Britain, France and Germany – of meddling in the country’s internal affairs.”

EU “Unites” Against Iran

The Financial Times wrote on June 28:

“The European Union’s 27 nations on Sunday joined forces to condemn Iran’s detention of British embassy staff in Tehran, as tensions escalated between Iran and the west in the wake of the disputed elections. After Iran arrested nine local employees working at the UK embassy in Tehran, EU foreign ministers meeting in Corfu said they would respond firmly to any further ‘harassment or intimidation [by Iran] of foreign or Iranian staff working in embassies’… The seriousness of the diplomatic stand-off was underscored by the EU statement in which foreign ministers said they were becoming ‘seriously concerned’ about developments inside Iran… as of Sunday morning four of the nine staff had been released [In the meantime, seven were released.]. The EU statement demanded all should immediately be set free.

“Iranian media said the staff had been detained because of their ‘considerable role’ in instigating riots triggered by this month’s disputed election result… Iran has repeatedly claimed UK diplomats have been interfering in the country’s domestic affairs. Last week Iran forced two British envoys to leave the country, a decision that triggered an immediate tit-for-tat response by London.

“[David] Miliband [Britain’s foreign secretary] roundly rejected Iran’s allegations about the locally hired staff on Sunday. ‘These are hard-working diplomatic staff and the idea that the British Embassy is somehow behind the demonstrations and protests that have been taking place in Tehran in recent weeks is wholly without foundation,’ he said. The UK has been the focus of Iran’s diplomatic protests, partly because the US does not have an embassy in Iran.

“But the troubled relationship between the UK and Iran also has a long history, going back to British involvement in a 1953 coup in Iran… Iran’s leaders stepped up their attacks on the west on Sunday. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, denounced what he described as ‘interfering statements’ by western officials.”

The Financial Times wrote on June 30:

“Most of the European Union’s 27 member states will recall their ambassadors from Tehran as early as this weekend if the Iranian authorities refuse to free the [two remaining “detained”] British embassy employees… Amid continuing anger across Europe over the embassy arrests, senior EU diplomats said a co-ordinated diplomatic protest would take place ‘within days.'”

The EUObserver wrote on July 2:

“Iran says Europe is no longer qualified to hold nuclear talks due to its meddling with the post-election protests in the country, with Sweden, as the new EU presidency, calling up officials from the 27-member bloc to discuss the next diplomatic move.”

German Neo-Nazis Support Ahmadinejad

Netzeitung reported on June 25:

“Neo-Nazis in Germany are applauding the repression of protests in Iran and publishing statements supporting the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his hard-line government. Two extremist parties, the NPD and DVU, have managed to contort their racist thinking to embrace the Iranian leader because Ahmadinejad openly advocates the elimination of Israel…

“Censorship in Iran, which makes listening to music a risky business, and outlaws dancing in public, is praised by the NPD, which says the music could be considered decadent and subversive.”

No Irregularities in Iran Elections?

Haaretz reported on June 29:

“Iran’s top legislative body on Monday confirmed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s victory in the contested June 12 presidential recount. The Guardian Council’s official recount of the votes found… no irregularities in the election which brought about the largest protest on Iranian streets since the 1979 revolution. Protesters have claimed that the vote was imbued with massive fraud, but the legislative body has insisted that it was legitimate.”

The Times On Line wrote on July 2:

“Three of Iran’s most prominent opposition leaders flagrantly courted arrest yesterday by denouncing President Ahmadinejad’s Government as illegitimate, one day after the regime said that it would tolerate no more challenges to the election result… Mr Mousavi, 67, is living at home with his family in Tehran, with security and intelligence agents watching his every move. They have arrested most of his inner circle and made it progressively harder for him to communicate with his followers.

“Since Tuesday, when Iran’s Guardian Council declared that a partial recount had confirmed Mr Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election, hardliners have all but accused Mr Mousavi of treason…

“Forced from the streets by the security forces, Mr Mousavi’s supporters are also preparing a campaign of civil disobedience. They are talking of strikes, boycotting goods advertised in the state-controlled media, moving money out of government-controlled banks and giving money directly to the needy instead of government-controlled charities.

“Analysts say that anger will grow and could erupt at football matches, prayer meetings or anywhere that large numbers gather. They say that opposition supporters will go underground and stage lightning demonstrations. They also expect some elements to start launching violent attacks on government targets.

“In a possible sign of the regime’s anxiety Mr Ahmadinejad abruptly cancelled a visit to Libya for an African Union summit yesterday.”

Amidst Violence, Iraqis Happy to See US Troops Leave Cities

On June 29, USA Today wrote the following:

“It was just a week ago that two of his brothers were killed in a bombing in a crowded market, but Haider Abbas Ali put his sorrow aside Monday to celebrate the departure of most U.S. troops from the capital and other Iraqi cities. ‘Their presence has brought nothing good. It is long past the time for the Americans to leave,’ said Ali, who draped himself in an Iraqi flag as he danced with friends prior to Iraqi security forces taking control Tuesday.

“Thousands of Iraqis gathered in central Baghdad’s Zawra Park for a concert to mark the milestone that is part of a security pact that will also require all U.S. combat forces to leave Iraq by Aug. 31, 2010. A countdown clock on a state television channel ticked down at midnight. The Iraqi government has declared Tuesday National Sovereignty Day, six years after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein…

“U.S. troops weren’t in sight in the capital Monday. Instead, Iraqi police and soldiers flooded the streets… Some U.S. troops will remain in the cities as trainers and advisers, but most of the 130,000 Americans in Iraq have been relocated to large bases outside urban centers.

“While Iraq celebrated the switch-over, violence continued. The U.S. military announced Monday that a soldier was killed in combat on Sunday, but his name was not released. More than 4,300 U.S. troops have died in Iraq since the war began in 2003…

“Many Iraqis at the Zawra park celebration said they are glad to see Americans out of their neighborhoods, but some remain nervous about whether the Iraqi security forces are up to the task.”

House Approves Costly Climate Change Bill

Die Welt Online wrote on June 27:

“President Barack Obama scored a major victory on Friday when the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to slash industrial pollution that is blamed for global warming. The House narrowly passed the historic legislation to cut carbon emissions blamed for climate change, thus handing President Obama a hard-fought victory.

“The Democratic-controlled House passed the climate change bill, a top priority for Obama, by a vote of 219-212. As has become routine on major bills in Congress this year, the vote was partisan, with only eight Republicans joining Democrats for the bill. Forty-four Democrats voted against it.

“Climate change legislation still must get through the Senate. Senators were expected to try to write their own version but prospects for this year were uncertain. After the House vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he hoped the Senate can pass a bill ‘this fall’…

“The bill requires that large U.S. companies, including utilities, oil refiners, manufacturers and others, reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases associated with global warming by 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050, from 2005 levels. They would do so by phasing in the use of cleaner alternative energy than high-polluting oil and coal.

“At the core of the bill, which is around 1,500 pages long, is a ‘cap and trade’ program designed to achieve the emissions reductions by industry.”

Adoption of Climate Change Bill–Politics, Politics and More Politics

Politico wrote on June 25:

“The House of Representatives passed a sweeping climate-change bill Friday – a major victory for President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that left Republicans fuming about a ‘national energy tax’ they said would exacerbate the nation’s economic woes. The vote was extremely close…  the debate leading up to it was intense…

“Republicans accused the Democrats of ramming the bill through the House. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), managing the debate for his party, asked repeatedly if there was even a copy of the current version of the bill anywhere in the House chamber. Democratic Rep. Ellen Tauscher – sitting in the speaker’s chair although she’s already been confirmed as Obama’s undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security — repeatedly dodged the question.

“Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), one of the bill’s sponsors, finally rose to say that a single copy of the current version of the bill was available at the speaker’s desk – and on the Internet, which members would have to leave the floor to access.

“That wasn’t good enough for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), who delayed the roll call vote by reading page-by-page through a 300-page managers’ amendment Democrats added at around 3 a.m. Friday. Boehner seemed to relish the hour-long stunt, picking out the bill’s most obscure language and then pontificating about what it might – or might not – mean. Republicans laughed along with him and roared with applause when he was done.

“Before Boehner took the floor, Republicans asked the House to observe a moment of silence for Americans who would lose their jobs as a result of the bill. Democrats objected. Pelosi argued later that the bill would mean ‘jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs.’

“Making his closing argument for the bill he co-sponsored, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) told his colleagues that they had ‘a unique historical opportunity’ to protect the nation’s national security, improve the environment and transform the economy… But in an impassioned speech of his own, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said the cap-and-trade bill would exacerbate the recession, disproportionately hurt the poor and ‘hamstring’ U.S. industry. He was followed by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), who called the bill a ‘great contribution to human kind’ and attacked Republicans for offering nothing but ‘negative political shots’…

“Throughout the day Friday, the House chamber had the feeling of a place where history was being made… Behind the scenes, the administration worked hard to help the Democratic leadership garner support for the legislation. Obama, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and other administration officials have been calling skeptical lawmakers from both parties for weeks. Energy adviser Carol Browner met with several on-the-fence lawmakers Thursday.”

And Still More Politics…?

Fox News wrote on June 29:

“A top Republican senator has ordered an investigation into the Environmental Protection Agency’s alleged suppression of a report that questioned the science behind global warming. The 98-page report, co-authored by EPA analyst Alan Carlin… argued that the information the EPA was using was out of date, and that even as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have increased, global temperatures have declined…

“According to internal e-mails that have been made public by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Carlin’s boss told him in March that his material would not be incorporated into a broader EPA finding and ordered Carlin to stop working on the climate change issue… Carlin told on Monday that his boss, National Center for Environmental Economics Director Al McGartland, appeared to be pressured into reassigning him.

“Carlin said he doesn’t know whether the White House intervened to suppress his report but claimed it’s clear ‘they would not be happy about it if they knew about it,’ and that McGartland seemed to be feeling pressure from somewhere up the chain of command. Carlin said McGartland told him he had to pull him off the climate change issue…

“Reps. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., and Darrell Issa, R-Calif… wrote a letter last week to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson urging the agency to reopen its comment period on the finding. The EPA has since denied the request… In a written statement, Issa said the administration is ‘actively seeking to withhold new data in order to justify a political conclusion.’

“‘I’m sure it was very inconvenient for the EPA to consider a study that contradicted the findings it wanted to reach,’ Sensenbrenner said in a statement, adding that the ‘repression’ of Carlin’s report casts doubt on the entire finding. Carlin said he’s concerned that he’s seeing ‘science being decided at the presidential level’…

“The controversy is similar to one under the Bush administration — only the administration was taking the opposite stance. In that case, scientist James Hansen claimed the administration was trying to keep him from speaking out and calling for reductions in greenhouse gases.”

Obamas Hold Gay Rights Reception

The Associated Press wrote on June 30:

“Countering criticism that he has done little to advance gay rights, President Obama commemorated the 40th anniversary yesterday of the birth of the modern movement by welcoming its leaders to the White House and reaffirming his commitment to their top priorities.

“’I will not only be your friend; I will continue to be an ally and a champion and a president who fights with you and for you,’ Obama told members of the core Democratic constituency as he and his wife Michelle hosted a cocktail-and-appetizer reception in the East Room marking the four decades since the police raid on New York City’s Stonewall Inn that spurred gay rights activism across the country.”

The Washington Post added on June 30 that Mr. Obama “also drew a parallel between the progress gays and lesbians have made in recent decades and the struggles of black Americans to win equality.”

U.S. Dollar Declines

Bloomberg reported on June 27:

“The dollar declined the most against the euro in a month and dropped versus the yen after China repeated its call for a new global currency… ‘The dollar’s status as a reserve currency is being questioned,’ said Benedikt Germanier, a foreign-exchange strategist in Stamford, Connecticut at UBS AG, the second- largest currency trader. ‘There are reasons to sell the dollar.’”

Stimulus Package Isn’t Working… Job Losses Increase…

The Financial Times reported on July 2:

“The US economy shed another 467,000 jobs last month, signalling aggressive government stimulus measures are failing to unshackle the labour force from the grips of the recession…

“The result was worse than economists predicted and pushed the unemployment rate from 9.4 per cent to 9.5 per cent… a 26-year high. Thursday’s figure shows further erosion from the previous month’s decline of a revised 322,000 drop and knocked wind from the notion that the pace of job losses might be slowing.”

Bloomberg added on July 2:

“Employers in the U.S. cut 467,000 jobs in June, the unemployment rate rose and hourly earnings stagnated, offering little evidence the Obama administration’s stimulus package is shoring up the labor market.”

“We ARE in the Middle of a Financial Crash…”

CNBC wrote on July 2:

“The financial system is crashing… Nassim Taleb, author of ‘The Black Swan,’ told CNBC Thursday… ‘So if I’m going to forecast something, it is that it’s going to get worse, not better… What makes me very pessimistic [is] not seeing any leadership or awareness on parts of government on what has to be done.'”

California–From the Richest to the Poorest…

On June 29, the Financial Times reported the following:

“California… grapples with an unprecedented cash crunch and prepares to begin its new fiscal year deep in the red. Once the US’s richest state, California now has the dubious distinction of having the worst credit rating in the country…”

The Los Angeles Times reported on July 2:

“With budget negotiators at a loggerheads and California government facing a cash crisis, the state controller’s office will start printing IOUs this afternoon for the first time in 17 years. The presses are set to start at 2 p.m., churning out 28,742 IOUs worth $53.3 million that will be dispatched mostly to residents throughout the state still awaiting their income-tax refunds.

“A panel of state finance officials will meet this morning to set the interest rate for banks and other financial institutions that decide to accept the IOUs. Some banks have agreed to honor them, including Bank of America, which will do so until July 10…

“With the California economy hobbled, tax receipts waning and the budget deficit continuing to swell, the governor Wednesday declared a fiscal emergency, and ordered state workers to take a third unpaid furlough day each month. He also issued a new list of cuts to schools and public universities to address a deficit that his finance team now says has swelled to $26.3 billion.”

UK Crime Capitol of Europe

The Telegraph wrote on July 2:

“The United Kingdom is the violent crime capital [sic] of Europe [including in respect to murder] and has one of the highest rates of violence in the world, worse even than America… Analysis of figures from the European Commission showed a 77 per cent increase in murders, robberies, assaults and sexual offences… The total number of violent offences recorded compared to population is higher than any other country in Europe, as well as America, Canada, Australia and South Africa… The figures combined crime statistics for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.”

China’s Economy in Grave Danger

The Telegraph wrote on June 28:

“China’s banks are veering out of control. The half-reformed economy of the People’s Republic cannot absorb the $1,000bn (£600bn) blitz of new lending issued since December… Fitch Ratings has been warning for some time that China’s lenders are wading into dangerous waters, but its latest report is even grimmer than… suspected… World trade… will not rebound fast in a world where the US savings rate has risen to a 15-year high of 6.9pc…

“So the [Chinese] regime is resorting to hazardous methods to keep excess factories humming: issuing a ‘Buy China’ decree: using a plethora of export subsidies; holding down the price of coke, bauxite, zinc and other resources to lower production costs (prompting a complaint from America and Europe); and suppressing the yuan, again. Protectionism is a risky game for a country that lives off global trade and runs a surplus…

“[China might be] repeating the US tariff blunder of 1930 that brought the world crashing down on Washington’s head… If the world’s biggest surplus state ($400bn) is too structurally deformed to help offset the demand shock as Western debtors retrench, we are trapped in a long deflation slump.”

Obama and Merkel Meet–“Much to Do About Nothing”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on June 27:

“During German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s White House visit on Friday, one thing topped the agenda: a show of friendship. US President Barack Obama praised Merkel to the hilt, while she returned the compliment. Politics were pushed into the background… The German-American agenda for the meeting was clear this time: A show of friendship — after all the reports of a cool relationship between Obama and Merkel, which have now started to appear in the US as well as the German media…

“The fact that Merkel had prevented Obama from speaking in front of the deeply symbolic Brandenburg Gate was now all forgotten. And the fact that Obama’s team had acted with some arrogance during his Dresden visit and for a long time had rejected the idea of a brief visit to the Frauenkirche was also ancient history…

“The issue that has seen the greatest tensions between the two leaders was hardly mentioned — the response to the global financial crisis and the German [skepticism] about America’s massive state spending that could culminate in an even bigger stimulus package and an even greater budget deficit… That left nothing but harmony in the East Room. The chancellor denied there were any differences with the new US president…

“However even a good natured Obama cannot dispel the worries of many Europeans that they are becoming more marginalized in Washington in the face of the many political problems and increasing number of hot spots around the world. When the German chancellor was presented with the Warburg Prize for her contribution to trans-Atlantic relations on Thursday evening in the Library of Congress, only one out of a possible 435 members of the House of Representatives bothered to turn up.”

You might want to listen to our new StandingWatch program, “America and Europe–Friends or Foes?” [posted on StandingWatch or YouTube] to learn more about the REAL relationship between Mr. Obama and Mrs. Merkel.

German Constitutional Court Gives Green Light for the Lisbon Treaty

The Financial Times wrote on June 30:

“Germany’s constitutional court gave a green light in principle to the Lisbon treaty on Tuesday but suspended its ratification until the German parliament had amended [domestic German] law governing its influence over European legislation… Despite the new hurdle, the ruling was greeted with relief by the government… Berlin is confident that the necessary amendments to its ratification laws can be expedited in the summer, fulfilling its commitment to ratify the treaty before 2010…

“The Bundestag, parliament’s lower chamber, on Tuesday revealed it had already convened an extraordinary session in August for an initial review of the legislative amendments. Final approval should take place on September 8… before the general election of September 27. The bill requires a two-thirds majority on both houses of parliament.”

The EUObserver added on June 30:

“Germany’s highest court on Tuesday ruled that the EU’s new treaty is compatible with German law, so long as the role of the national parliament in EU decision-making is strengthened. ‘The German constitution says yes to the Lisbon treaty, but on a national level the parliament has to have a stronger say in EU matters’, vice-president of the German constitutional court, Andreas Vosskuhle, said… The court in Karlsruhe also said that the treaty and the German constitution would not allow the creation of an ‘EU federal state…”

Deutsche Welle reported on June 30:

“German opponents of the Lisbon Treaty [a group of about 50 lawmakers seeking to stop the Treaty] had argued that the document undercuts German sovereignty. They say that the country’s constitution would be subject to European law… Supporters of the Lisbon Treaty dismiss such fears, and insist that Germany and Europe would become more democratic and more transparent.

“German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble… says the treaty would protect the German constitution, not undermine it. Schaeuble says the [German] constitution’s preamble, dating from 1949, states that Germany wants to be an equal member of a unified Europe which works towards world peace. ‘From the beginning, this constitution was BASED ON EUROPEAN UNITY,’ he says.”

Der Spiegel Online added on June 30:

“Chancellor Merkel welcomed the court’s decision, saying that it was ‘a good day for the Lisbon Treaty’… German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier… said that he was pleased that the court had found the treaty to be ‘completely compatible’ with the [German] constitution. He predicted that the Lisbon Treaty would come into force by early 2010 at the latest.

“If the German Constitutional Court had ruled against Lisbon, it would likely have killed the treaty. It would have given the Czech Republic and Poland a reason not to ratify it and it also could have derailed plans to hold a second referendum on the EU reform in Ireland in early October.

“European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso welcomed the German ruling. ‘I am confident we can complete the process of ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon in all countries by the autumn,’ he said.”

The Future of Europe–Back to the Core?

Der Spiegel wrote on June 29:

“In times such as these, with no end to the financial crisis in sight, the rotation of the EU Presidency makes one thing patently clear: The European Union needs clearer structures, more integration, and better foreign representation. Moreover, the Czech tenure has revealed that smaller EU countries are not up to the daunting coordination and leadership tasks that a crisis of this magnitude requires… In the financial crisis as in the gas dispute, all eyes were focused once again on the heavyweights in the European Union, namely on Germany and France, without whom no significant European contribution would have been possible at the G-20 summit in April…

“As of July it is Sweden’s obligation… Foreign Minister Carl Bildt is striving to make Georgia, and perhaps Moldova as well, into ‘model nations’ of successful EU engagement. Both countries have sunk into war and unrest in recent months and are practically demanding European intervention… Bildt… would like to position the European Union as a player in the Middle East… He would like to… represent the European Union as an international role model at the Copenhagen climate conference at the end of the year…

“Should the Lisbon Treaty be ratified, Sweden will quickly set clear priorities for the formation of the European foreign service and, accordingly, for the formulation of the responsibilities of both the High Commission for Foreign and Security Policy as well as of the future European Presidency. Both entities should be given as much space and capacity as possible within the European system…”

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