Current Events

How Votes Are “Bought”…

Fox News reported on December 21:

“Sen. Ben Nelson [is] hardly the only lawmaker extracting sweetheart deals out of the health care reform bill. While the Nebraska Democrat got a particularly juicy concession in exchange for a ‘yes’ vote on the 10-year, $871 billion package — permanent and full federal aid for his state’s expanded Medicaid population — support from a slew of other senators likewise came with a price…

“Senate Democrats said the payoffs are nothing unusual, and in fact typical. ‘People fight for their own states. That’s the nature of a democracy,’ Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said… ‘This is just part of the normal legislative process,’ said Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

“As a measure of just how typical they are, a slew of payoffs and concessions have been struck over the past several months.

“Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., won between $100 million and $300 million in additional federal aid for her state’s Medicaid population. The deal, secured before she cast her critical vote in favor of bringing the health bill to the floor, was immediately dubbed the ‘Louisiana Purchase,’  though the actual Louisiana Purchase was considerably cheaper.

“Vermont and Massachusetts got $1.2 billion in Medicaid money… Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders also boasted Saturday that he requested and won an investment worth between $10 and $14 billion for community health centers.

“Western states secured higher federal reimbursement rates for doctors and hospitals that serve Medicare patients. The provision covers the low-population ‘frontier’ states and applies to Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming — the latter two states are both represented by two Republicans, but ended up as beneficiaries anyway since they qualify…

“Florida, New York and Pennsylvania — where five of six senators are Democrats — will have their seniors’ Medicare Advantage benefits protected, even as the program sees massive cuts elsewhere. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., reportedly secured expanded Medicare coverage for victims of asbestos exposure in a mine in Libby, Mont.

“One unknown state is receiving $100 million for a ‘health care facility’ affiliated with an academic health center at a university that contains the state’s only ‘public academic medical and dental school.’ It’s unclear for which state that language was written.

“Nebraska’s Nelson won permanent federal aid for his state’s expanded Medicaid population, a benefit worth up to $100 million over 10 years. Other states get the federal aid for three years, but Nebraska’s benefit is indefinite. His state also got an exemption for nonprofit insurance companies from a health insurance company tax. Many believe this was targeted at Mutual of Omaha, but senior Democratic aides would not confirm that…”

Whatever will come out of this, the methods and means used do not “sanctify” the outcome. God hates corruption, bribery, payoffs and political maneuvering for personal gains. “Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1).

President Obama Blamed for “Copenhagen Debacle”

The Associated Press reported on December 18:

“President Barack Obama said the United States, China and several other countries reached an ‘unprecedented breakthrough’ Friday to curb greenhouse gas emissions – including a mechanism to verify compliance – after a frenzied day of diplomacy at the U.N. climate talks. The agreement, which also includes the developing nations of India, South Africa and Brazil, requires each country to list the actions they will take to cut global warming pollution by specific amounts, a senior Obama administration official said…

“The U.S. got its share of blame… Obama may eventually become known as ‘the man who killed Copenhagen,’ said Greenpeace U.S. Executive Director Phil Radford… Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren, negotiating on behalf of the 27-nation European Union, blamed the impasse on the Chinese for ‘blocking again and again,’ and on the U.S. for coming too late with an improved offer…”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 19 that President Obama did not appear in Copenhagen as the “Messiah,” but as the “Debunked” or “Disenchanted.” The magazine also wrote that one participant at the summit said that President Obama offered developing nations “30 pieces of silver” for their future.

Deutsche Welle reported on December 19:

“For US President Barack Obama, Copenhagen offers no good news. His last trip in Copenhagen was his failed attempt to bring the 2016 Olympics to Chicago. Now with the stakes much higher, he has failed again. His speech was good – but others like Brazil’s Lula da Silva were better. His effort was good, but simply not good enough. In terms of his leadership, there was little to be seen.”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 19:

“What a disaster. The climate summit in Copenhagen has failed because of the hardball politicking of the United States, China and several other countries — and because people just can’t seem to fathom how catastrophic climate change will be… The debacle of Copenhagen is also Barack Obama’s debacle…

“When it comes to immediate assistance for impoverished countries, the United States intends to contribute a total of $3.6 billion between 2010 and 2012. But, if you compare that with what other regions contribute, this figure appears rather miserly. The European Union plans to contribute about $10.6 billion, or about three times as much. And even Japan is chipping in $11 billion. In poor countries, people are presumably confused about whether they should laugh or cry about the US contribution.”

The world is turning away from confidence in American leadership. As the next selection of articles shows, some strongly implore Europe to take a leading role in the world. Bible prophecy reveals that while the USA will drift further and further into political oblivion, Europe will emerge as the most powerful entity on the planet.

Now What After “Flopenhagen”?

Deutsche Welle reported on December 21:

“After the widely disappointing UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen – aka ‘Flopenhagen’ – European editorialists let the bitter comments flow… Britain’s Guardian newspaper saw positives alongside negatives in the outcome of the conference… ‘while the Copenhagen product is every inch the sham that campaigners say it is, the Copenhagen process has set important precedents,’ the Guardian wrote. ‘Most obviously …the sheer fact that it took place – and at such a high political level – means it will probably do so again.’…

“Taking a harsher line, left-leaning French newspaper La Libération oozed disappointment in the ‘large countries which, in a delirium of diplomatic ineptitude and the blindness of superiority, torpedoed the binding worldwide accord’ they had hoped for. The paper pitched for the EU to take immediate, unilateral action: ‘Eco-reformers need to focus on the US and China,’ it wrote… ‘If the EU took the necessary actions from its side, it would jump to the head of the movement. Then the fiasco of Copenhagen could be overcome step by step’…

“German editorialists were less inclined to focus on positive signals from the conference. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung called the Copenhagen summit an ‘insult to the world community,’ noting that ‘never were expectations for a climate conference higher, and never before were so many heads of state and government officials in one place, meeting to solve one single problem. But they didn’t solve it – they made it worse’…

“Finally, the Stuttgarter Zeitung expressed the disappointment felt by many in Europe when they compared US President Barack Obama’s focus on China and other developing countries with his relative lack of interest in the European negotiators… ‘The trans-Atlantic relationship is coming up on hard times. Barack Obama showed one thing for certain in Copenhagen: His focus will be on the trans-Pacific axis with China,’ [the paper wrote].”

Der Spiegel Online added on December 21:

“German papers on Monday are scathing in their criticism of the climate conference and most are resoundingly pessimistic about the prospects for ever reaching an agreement in the future… The left-leaning Die Tageszeitung writes: ‘Above all national selfishness stood in the way of an agreement… That can only change if such a refusal has consequences. There are already methods of imposing sanctions…’

“The Financial Times Deutschland writes: ‘Forget Copenhagen, now we are making a climate treaty in 2010 in Bonn and Mexico. That is the message from those who are talking up the conference, and trying to sell the result as some kind of progress. But after the fiasco there is no sensible reason for assuming that things will be any better next year. From the very beginning it was an illusion to believe that the two biggest climate sinners — China and the US — would allow themselves to be roped into a binding agreement with clear emissions targets and international monitoring’…

“The conservative Die Welt writes: ‘Even if Chancellor Merkel is warning people not to bad mouth the climate summit, the result is still deplorable. Over 40,000 politicians, diplomats, scientists, journalists, lobbyists and NGO activists traveled there to save the world. One hundred and forty private jets landed, 1,200 limousines ferried delegates around. The feverish summit, which gave a new name to gigantism, offered a soapbox for alarmists and the self-important. But now it is time to consider whether smaller, more matter-of-fact conferences would make more sense. It would also mean allowing those scientists to speak who have expressed well-founded doubts about the scenarios presented by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). They have many facts on their side.

“‘Evaluation would be more appropriate than roaring that the world is about to end. The question of whether binding and dramatic limits of CO2 emissions are the only correct way to protect the climate must also be revisited. This is not only dogmatic but would also cost a fortune and have little effect. The plan to limit the average rise in the global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius is the most expensive task of all time. … Besides, it is a figure that has been set arbitrarily. The one-sided fixation on CO2 limits could be a greater detriment to the global economy than climate change itself. A global competition for the cleanest energy production and investments in saving and replanting forests would be more useful than the rabid caps in emissions at the cost of economic growth.’

“The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes: ‘The climate summit in Copenhagen was no success — not even a small one. That’s why one can’t bad mouth the results, which Merkel has warned them not to do. No one can make them sound better than they are: Copenhagen was an all-out failure. … How this (process) is to be brought to an end in the next year remains a mystery. The format of the consultations at the UN level, in which every member state can exercise veto power, holds no promise for any success…'”

More U.S. Banks Fail…

The Associated Press reported on December 18:

“Regulators on Friday shut down two big California banks, as well as banks in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Illinois, bringing to 140 the number of U.S. banks brought down this year by the weak economy and mounting loan defaults. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took over all seven. Regulators shuttered First Federal Bank of California…[and] Imperial Capital Bank… [bringing] to 17 the number of California banks to fail this year…

“As the economy has slumped, with unemployment rising, home prices tumbling and loan defaults soaring, bank failures have accelerated around the country. The 140 bank failures are the most in a year since 1992 at the height of the savings-and-loan crisis. They have cost the government-backed deposit insurance fund – which has fallen into the red – more than $30 billion so far this year. The failures compare with 25 last year and three in 2007. The FDIC expects the cost of bank failures to grow to about $100 billion over the next four years…

“If the economic recovery falters, defaults on the high-risk loans could spike. Nearly $500 billion in commercial real estate loans are expected to come due annually over the next few years. Last week, the Obama administration extended until next October the $700 billion financial bailout program, saying the fund was still needed to prevent further turmoil in the banking system.”

Reality is sinking in that the recession is by no means ending–expressions of political correctness notwithstanding. The Bible shows that in these last days, the political, economic and even military downfall of the USA will be accelerating.

Obama Czar “Promotes Sex Between Children and Adults”

On December 9, the Washington Times reported the following:

“The Obama administration is stonewalling serious inquiries about sexual filth propagated by a senior presidential appointee who is responsible for promoting and implementing federal education policy. Democrats clearly are terrified of ruffling the feathers of their activist homosexual supporters, who are an influential part of the Democratic party’s base. This scandal, however, is not merely about homosexual behavior; it is about promoting sex between children and adults – and it’s time for President Obama to make clear that abetting such illegal perversion has no place in his administration.
“It is curious why White House officials and Education Secretary Arne Duncan believe it’s worth… politically to continue taking arrows for defending Kevin Jennings, who is Mr. Obama’s controversial ‘safe schools czar.’ The evidence suggesting he is unfit to serve as a senior presidential appointee is startling and plentiful. It was revealed this week that Mr. Jennings was involved in promoting a reading list for children 13 years old or older that made the most explicit sex between children and adults seem normal and acceptable…

“But there is more. There are shocking new revelations this week of tape recordings from a youth conference involving 14-year-old students. The conference, billed as a forum to encourage tolerance of homosexuality, was sponsored by Mr. Jennings’ organization and was held at Tufts University in March 2000. Mr. Jennings was executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) from its founding in 1995 until August 2008. The conference sessions appear to have had less to do with promoting tolerance and more to do with teaching children how to engage in sex.

“Andrew Breitbart’s provides tapes of some of the sessions. Describing the subject matter as smut would be putting it lightly. The conference discussions were very graphic… Teaching children sexual techniques is simply not appropriate. Unfortunately, it is part of a consistent pattern by some homosexual activists to promote underage homosexuality while pretending that their mission is simply to promote tolerance for so-called alternative lifestyles. It is outrageous that someone involved in this scandal is being paid by the taxpayers to serve in a high-powered position at the Education Department, of all places.”

This is awful. The agenda of homosexual activists destroys the very fabric of our nation. When innocent children become victims in the hands of these kinds of influences, which are not restricted by our leadership, then we should know that the end of this God-defying civilization is drawing near (compare 2 Peter 2:4-9; 3:1-13; Jude 5-7).

But “Our Legal System Works…”???

CNN reported on December 17:

“After more than three decades in prison, a man in Florida was set free Thursday after a DNA test showed he did not kidnap and rape a 9-year-old boy in 1974. James Bain, 54, was 19 when he was convicted on charges of kidnapping, burglary and strong-arm rape… Bain was serving a life sentence… Of the 245 people in the United States who have been exonerated by DNA testing, none has spent more time behind bars than Bain…

“Bain was convicted in 1974 of taking a 9-year-old Lake Wales, Florida, boy from his bed and raping him. According to police records, the victim told police that he fell asleep with his brothers and sisters, but when he woke up a man was dragging him by a baseball field. The boy said he was forced to the ground and raped. The Lake Wales police report says that the boy told police that his attacker had bushy sideburns and a mustache. After being shown five photographs of potential suspects, the report says, the victim picked out the photo of Bain…

“Florida in 2001 passed a statute allowing cases to be reopened for DNA testing. Four times Bain submitted handwritten motions seeking such testing, only to be denied. His fifth try was successful only after an appeals court ruled that he was entitled to a hearing… His twin sister, Jannie Jones, told police that James was home with her, watching a popular television medical drama called ‘Medical Center’ at the time of the attack.”

The Bible prohibits the conviction of an accused unless at least two eye witnesses agree on and confirm the facts of the underlying charge. If, however, the witness lied or was negligent in his or her testimony, he or she had to be punished.

Strained Relations Between Vatican and Israel

Deutsche Welle reported on December 19:

“Pope Benedict XVI is facing criticism after he put a controversial wartime predecessor one step closer to sainthood. Jewish groups say Pope Pius XII did not do enough to save Jewish lives during the Second World War… Pope Benedict has approved a decree that recognizes the pontiff, who is accused of doing too little to help Europe’s Jews during World War II, as having ‘heroic virtues.’ The posthumous honor gives the former pope the title ‘venerable’ and places him two steps from full canonization.

“Pius XI has been accused of turning a blind eye to the Nazi genocide of the Jews, in a controversy that has strained relations between the Vatican and Israel… Attempts to beatify the former pope had been described as ‘unacceptable’ by Israel’s social affairs minister Isaac Herzog… ‘Throughout the period of the Holocaust, the Vatican knew very well what was happening in Europe,’ Herzog told the Haaretz newspaper in 2008.”

The New York Times added on December 23:

“In an effort to calm growing tensions with Jewish groups, the Vatican said Wednesday that Pope Benedict XVI’s decision moving the wartime pope Pius XII closer to sainthood was not a ‘hostile act’ against those who believe Pius did not do enough to stop the Holocaust. The Vatican spokesman… issued a statement saying that the beatification process evaluated the ‘Christian life’ of Pius, who reigned from 1939 to 1958, and not ‘the historical impact of all his operative decisions’… Benedict confirmed the ‘heroic virtues’ of Pius — along with those of John Paul II — on Saturday, opening the door to beatification once a miracle is attributed to each. A second miracle would be required for sainthood.

“The move created anger among many Jewish groups, which have argued that Pius did not speak out vocally enough against the Nazis or intervene to save Jews during World War II, and that the Vatican helped many former Nazis escape to South America after World War II. The decision by Benedict — a German who was an unwilling member of the Hitler Youth — to move Pius closer to sainthood was the latest in a series of controversies. It came less than a year after he revoked the excommunication of a schismatic bishop who had denied the scope of the Holocaust, an act that caused the pope and the Vatican to issue a series of extensive clarifications. Benedict also upset many Jews when he did not directly mention the Nazis or Germany during a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Israel in May, as John Paul II had done, although Benedict has denounced the Holocaust on many other occasions…

“[The Vatican spokesman] added that the Vatican hoped the pope’s expected visit to the Rome synagogue next month would reaffirm ties between Judaism and the Roman Catholic Church… The legacy of Pius is particularly sensitive for the Jewish community in Rome. More than 1,000 of its members were rounded up in 1943 and deported to Auschwitz. Documents in the Vatican archives indicate that Pius knew of the deportation and did not act to stop it.”

The Bible shows that ultimately, the Roman Catholic Church will be at odds with Israel. In spite of wrong assumptions taught by some, there is nothing in the Bible prophesying a future friendship pact, contract or treaty between Catholic Europe and the state of Israel, which will allegedly last for 3 1/2 years. Rather, the relationship between these two entities will steadily deteriorate. For more information, please read our Q&A on Daniel 9:27.

Will the Habsburgs Run for Presidency?

Europe World News reported on December 16:

“Austria’s Habsburg family suffered a blow in their bid for the Austrian presidency Wednesday, after the country’s Constitutional Court delayed a ruling on whether the former rulers could be barred from running for office until after forthcoming elections. Ulrich Habsburg-Lothringen and his daughter-in-law Gabriele Maria Habsburg-Lothringen are seeking to overturn a clause in the constitution that excludes members of current or former ruling families from being elected head of state. The court said it has no mandate to take up the matter before the elections in April – but advised the Habsburgs on how to proceed in order to have their case heard eventually.

“They should formally announce their candidature, which would be rejected by the national election authority, and Habsburg-Lothringen and his daughter-in-law could then contest the decision at the court. ‘Of course, I will follow through with this,’ said Ulrich Habsburg-Lothringen, 68. He is a third-degree nephew of Otto von Habsburg, the son of the last emperor Charles. He is set to run as an independent candidate, but the Green party, along with the far-right Freedom Party, has said it wants to change the constitution so that former ruling nobility can be elected. Habsburg-Lothringen said he was confident that he could collect the 6,000 signatures necessary to launch a presidential bid.”

This development is worth watching, as the Bible says that modern Europe will unite as the tenth resurrection of the ancient Roman Empire, and the Habsburgs (under Charles V.) constituted the seventh revival of the Roman Empire (and the fourth revival of the Holy Roman Empire). For more information, please read our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy.”

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