Current Events

More Negotiations?

The New York Times wrote on January 18, 2012:

“Israel moved to calm the increasingly tense discourse over Iran’s nuclear program on Wednesday, with the Israeli defense minister asserting that any decision on a possible pre-emptive military strike on Iranian targets was ‘very far off.’

“The assertion by Defense Minister Ehud Barak was at least the third indication from the Israeli government in the past few days that it was not considering armed confrontation over the nuclear issue with Iran anytime soon, and it came amid signs that Iran and Western powers led by the United States might resume talks that have been stalled for a year.”

While reports of this sort paint a more promising picture for peace in the Middle East, there always lurks the dark reality that an inevitable confrontation is waiting to explode between Israel and Iran–which will pull many other nations into the clash. More insightful information on this critical issue can be found in a recent message given by Norbert Link, titled: “The Covenant With Levi.”

But is Time Running Out For Diplomacy?

As reported by the Jerusalem Post on January 19, 2012, General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in Israel this week to make the case for more negotiations with Iran along with enforcing sanctions. However, comments quoted in this same article from Israel’s IDF Chief of Staff, Lt-Gen. Benny Gantz, show that the nearness for conflict is growing ominous:

“Addressing a meeting of NATO military commanders at the western military alliance in Brussels, Gantz said that the world needed to ‘strengthen moderate elements and weaken the radicals.’

“’Only through joint work combining tough and soft power can we deter and in the long term overcome these radical elements,’ Gantz said.

“Earlier in the day, Gantz met with the Canadian and Italian chiefs of staff.

“Gantz said that NATO’s decision to establish a missile defense system throughout Europe was a demonstration of the severity non-conventional weapons pose to the world.

“’Ballistic missile defense systems need to be the last line of defense and the initiative needs to come earlier by exhausting all of the available means to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,’ he said.

“On Tuesday, Gantz called on NATO military commanders to think up new strategies for dealing with the growing instability in the Middle East and the subsequent increase in threats.

“’We are today in a different and more dramatic reality that includes new threats and a period of instability requiring all of us to reassess,’ he said during a meeting with General Knud Bartels, the chairman of the NATO Military Committee.

“Gantz also met with Britain’s Chief of Staff General Sir David Richards and Russia military chief Nikolai Makarov, as well as the chiefs of staff of France, Spain, Australia, Greece and Poland.”

Eastern Europe: A Return to Populism and Nationalism!

Spiegel Online International wrote on January 18, 2012:

“A dangerous storm is brewing in the shadow of the euro crisis. The devastating consequences of the 2008 global financial crisis were never fully overcome in Eastern Europe, and more countries in the region are falling into financial and economic imbalance, battling sprawling debt, high budget deficits, recessions and unemployment.

“But it’s not just the fragile economies that are at risk. Many central and southern European societies also lack political and social stability. These regions have two decades of uninterrupted reforms and tough austerity policies behind them. Many people there are exhausted, and democracy fatigue, euroskepticism, and aversion towards the once deified West are on the rise.

“‘In many respects, it’s a process similar to the disillusionment in Eastern Europe with socialism in the 1970s and 1980s,’ says Hungarian economic scholar and publicist László Lengyel. ‘The danger of this is that entire social classes or regions like those in eastern Poland, Slovakia and Hungary fall victim to hopelessness and extremism…'”

“…The EU has long since lost its role as a force for order in Eastern Europe. From the Baltic States to Bulgaria, hardly an Eastern European country truly stands behind EU projects. In the Czech Republic, President Václav Klaus has always agitated against the EU and the euro and has thereby stirred political turmoil in the country. Most recently, the battle over the EU fiscal pact has led to a government crisis. In Estonia, resentment is growing against the cost of the euro bailout efforts. After elections in March the populist Robert Fico, who previously governed between 2006 and 2010, could take the helm again. And when in doubt, Romania’s populist President Traian Bsescu supports the United States rather than the EU. Meanwhile there have recently been major clashes in Bucharest against his government’s austerity measures…

“Polls reveal a climate of hate spawned by the right-wing nationalist and extremist discourse of the last few years. For example, nearly two-thirds of Hungarians believe that the influence of Jews is too great in their economy, and that the Roma have a genetic predisposition towards criminality.”

In spite of this unrest–particularly from the Hungary’s prime minister–the EU exerts powerful influence, and it seems more than willing to enforce its control, as the next article shows.

Hungary Gives Way

Reuters reported on January 18,2012:

“Hungary’s prime minister yielded on Wednesday in a dispute with the European Union that threatens aid for his country, saying he was willing to change contested laws tightening government control over institutions including the central bank.

“Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s conservative Fidesz party has been criticised by the international community for introducing measures that threaten the independence of the media, the judiciary and the central bank since sweeping to power in 2010.

“The Commission, the EU’s executive, said in a letter sent on Tuesday that new laws on the central bank, the retirement age of judges and the country’s data protection authority violated EU rules. They needed to be changed within one month if Hungary wanted to avoid a procedure that could end up at the European Court of Justice, the EU’s highest court.

“On Wednesday, Orban offered amendments and said he could accept some of the criticisms made by the Commission.”

EU Parliment Presidency Goes to Shultz

The reported on January 12, 2012:

“Martin Schulz has promised to live up to his reputation as something of a political bruiser in his new role as European Parliament president, with references to his “temper” and “strength of personality” featuring in post-election appraisal speeches by colleagues.

“The German Socialist MEP was elected to the largely ceremonial post after one round of voting Tuesday morning (17 January), gaining 387 of the 699 votes cast.

“Although the outcome was virtually pre-ordained given the agreement between the Socialist and the centre-right EPP to divide the 5-year presidency, Schulz was clearly emotional as he told the chamber that his family, his former primary school teacher and members of his youth football team were all present to witness the vote.

“Schulz, who differs enormously in style to his emollient predecessor – centre-right Pole Jerzy Buzek – promised that he was ‘not going to be an amenable president.'”

BNO News reported:

“The 56-year old German Member of the European Parliament (MEP) replaced the outgoing President Jerzy Buzek of Poland and will lead the parliament for two and half years until the beginning of the next legislature in July 2014.

“‘We must grasp the fact that people in Europe have little time for institutional debates because they are too busy worrying about their future, their jobs, their pensions,’ Schulz stated in Strasbourg following the vote. ‘This Chamber is the place where the interests of the people are defended.’

“Schulz received a total of 387 votes, more than the 336 votes needed to win an absolute majority under the Parliament’s Rules of Procedure.

“President Schulz also warned that ‘for the first time since it was founded, the failure of the European Union is a realistic possibility’, adding that ‘our interests can no longer be separated from those of our neighbors; on a shared understanding that the EU is not a zero-sum game, in which one person must lose so that another can win.’

“‘The reverse is true’, Schulz continued, ‘either we all lose – or we all win. The fundamental basis for this is the Community method. It is not a technocratic concept, but the principle at the heart of everything the European Union stands for.'”

The European Union is facing tremendous challenges on many fronts, but as biblical prophecy emphatically reveals–the EU will coalesce to emerge as the world’s most influential political and religious power. More incisive information on this can be found in our free booklets, “Germany In Prophecy” and “Europe In Prophecy–The Unfolding of End-Time Events.”

“Bombshell” For France!

The wrote on January 14, 2012:

“US-based ratings agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) has cut France’s triple-A rating and trashed the EU’s new fiscal treaty.

“It said in a statement out Friday (13 January) the EU draft fiscal compact ‘does not supply sufficient additional resources or operational flexibility to bolster European rescue operations.’

“It noted that: ‘a reform process based on a pillar of fiscal austerity alone risks becoming self-defeating, as domestic demand falls in line with consumers’ rising concerns about job security and disposable incomes, eroding national tax revenues.’

“It added ‘there is a risk [of] reform fatigue’ in the worst-hit countries, creating ‘lower levels of predictability’ on the political front.

“The agency also downgraded Austria, Cyprus, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain, scalping another triple-A country (Austria) and moving Cyprus and Portugal into junk territory.

“On the positive side, it kept Germany’s triple-A status and praised the European Central Bank, saying it ‘has engaged in unprecedented repurchase operations for financial institutions, greatly relieving the near-term funding pressures for banks.’

“The blow comes two weeks before 26 EU countries aim to sign the new treaty at a summit in Brussels. It also comes 100-or-so days before French leader Nicolas Sarkozy tries to get re-elected.”

“Darkness” Falls on the Internet

Reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, January 18, 2012:

“In an unprecedented display of Internet force, thousands of websites went dark or censored themselves Wednesday to protest twin antipiracy measures pending in Congress.

“The blackout represented a culmination of months of intensifying outcry over the bills, echoed and amplified by social media, blogs and tech publications, that drew more and more popular sites into the official day of protest, including Google, Wikipedia, Craigslist, Wired, Reddit, Boing Boing, Reporters Without Borders, Pressthink, Greenpeace and McSweeney’s.

“Their actions and the frenzy of media coverage in the buildup raised mainstream awareness of what, until recent days, had been a wonky set of proposals only lightly covered outside tech circles. Congressional phone lines were reportedly flooded Wednesday in what could begin the final unraveling of the already troubled measures.

“The stated goal of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its Senate counterpart, the Protect IP Act (PIPA), is to confront the sale and distribution of pirated movies, drugs, music and consumer goods by rogue overseas sites. But in doing so, critics say the bills threaten crucial legal protections that foster online innovation while undermining due process and free speech.

“On Wednesday, many Republican backers of the bills agreed the approach was flawed, even if the goal was sound. Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, John Cornyn of Texas and Orrin Hatch of Utah all withdrew support, following in the footsteps of several House colleagues in recent days. The Obama administration came out strongly against the proposals over the weekend.

“Some observers said the day of protest may come to represent a fundamental shift in the legislative landscape, a flexing of a newfound and untraditional source of political power in the Internet sector.”

While the freedom we experience to utilize the Internet is taken for granted, the legislative moves so far proposed may prove just a first step in restricting content on the Internet. More and more laws are passed, but what is truly missing is the kind of character and self-control that answers to God’s perfect and righteous way of living–something not often, if ever, considered in the governments of our day!

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