Current Events

US Government Starts Shutting Down

The Los Angeles Times reported on September 31:

“U.S. government agencies were ordered to close for the first time in more than 17 years after lawmakers stalemated over Republican efforts to block President Obama’s healthcare law.

“More than 800,000 federal workers were to spend Tuesday, the first day of the new fiscal year, on unpaid furloughs as agency managers executed contingency plans for the costly process of closing down operations indefinitely.

“The official word to shut down came from the White House just before midnight Monday. Hours earlier, the Senate, by a 54-46 party-line vote, killed a House measure that would have funded government agencies for six weeks but delayed key parts of Obamacare for a year.”

This event is prompting big headlines in Germany. Conservative Bild On Line wrote: “Can America still be saved?” Conservative Focus On Line wrote: “This is ample testimony of the downfall of American’s democracy.” Conservative Die Welt wrote: “If there is not a change soon, America will go into recession and the whole world economy might be affected.” Also, shares fell and the US dollar dropped considerably towards the Euro. Left-liberal Die Zeit wrote that a handful of radicals is responsible for the standstill ,as they are not willing to compromise but try to force their ideology on the rest and are holding the country hostage.

America’s Superpower Status Ebbs Away

The Telegraph reported on October 1, 2013:

“For a country that is supposed to be the most powerful in the world, the fact that Americans have today woken up  to find large swathes of their nation closed for business is humiliating…

“While the White House insists that essential areas of the government, such as the military, will continue to function, the shut down represents yet a further blow to the prestige of the Obama administration at a time when it is still reeling from its inept handling of the recent Syrian crisis.

“There was a time not so long ago when the world looked to America for both political and economic leadership. But now that can no longer be taken for granted thanks to Mr Obama’s inability to provide decisive leadership on either front.

“Republicans rightly argue that by pressing ahead with Obamacare before the implications of the programme have been properly assessed risks adding to America’s debt mountain at a time when the American economy is still recovering from the biggest economic crisis in recent history.

“The emergence of Russia, meanwhile, as the main power broker in the Syria crisis has severely damaged America’s standing as a major global player.”

USA Politically Bankrupt

Der Spiegel Online wrote on October 2:

“As the United States government shutdown enters its second day, Washington is the target of both ridicule and concern overseas. German commentators describe the situation as a ‘specifically American problem’ with far-reaching consequences.

“The illustration on the cover of German business daily Handelsblatt on Wednesday morning fairly well encapsulates the way the US federal government shutdown is being perceived across the Atlantic. The Statue of Liberty stands bound in chains, her torch hand hanging listlessly by her side. Across it reads the headline: ‘The Blocked World Power.’

“Many Germans have found it hard to understand American lawmakers’ inability to resolve their budget disagreements in time to prevent a shutdown of all nonessential government services, which went into effect at midnight on Monday night… Yet it was clear to many that the fallout would be far-reaching. ‘The whole world pays for America’s shutdown,’ reads a headline in the right-leaning daily Die Welt above an article about the consequences on the German economy. In the article, several prominent German economists registered disapproval. ‘If the Americans shoot themselves in the foot right now, it is highly dangerous for the entire global economy, and of course for the German export economy,’ warned Anton Böner, president of the Federal Association for German Wholesalers and Foreign Trade…

“The overwhelming consensus among the German press is that the Republicans are the most to blame for the gridlock… When it came to the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party, the German press was not pulling any punches…

“Munich’s national Süddeutsche Zeitung offers a slightly more depressing take, pointing blame at all sides. ‘What has already been apparent in America for a few years now is the self-destruction of one of the world’s oldest democracies… ‘At the moment, Washington is fighting over the budget and nobody knows if the county will still be solvent in three weeks,’ the paper concludes. ‘What is clear, though, is that America is already politically bankrupt.’”

Iran and US Talk

The New York Times reported on September 29, 2013:

“Iran’s foreign minister said on Sunday that there was a ‘real chance’ to reach an agreement with the United States over his country’s nuclear program, as long as Washington was prepared to end sanctions and recognize Tehran’s right to peaceful nuclear enrichment.

“Even as the country’s American-educated foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, was making his comments on ABC’s ‘This Week,’ his deputy in Iran, seeking to reassure hard-liners there, said Tehran would never fully trust the United States.

“The dueling narratives underscored the complexity of any rapprochement between the two countries, despite a series of unexpected public and private exchanges in recent weeks culminating in a historic phone call Friday between President Obama and Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani.

“While Mr. Zarif is widely believed to have the backing of the country’s supreme leader to at least give negotiations a try, hard-liners among the Iranian leadership are watching warily and could try to derail an agreement…

“In his comments on Sunday, Mr. Zarif signaled that Iran would be prepared to allow inspections, including unannounced ones, so long as they did not come in the form of demands from the United States.

“’We are willing to engage in negotiations,’ he said. ‘Of course, the United States also needs to do certain things very rapidly.’

“His statement that Iran’s ‘right to enrich is nonnegotiable’ also pointed toward a difference with the U.S. that is more than merely semantic. So far the United States has said only that the Iranians have a right to nuclear energy. The Iranians say that implies a right to enrich uranium; the West has previously negotiated deals, which ultimately fell apart, to provide Iran with nuclear fuel in a form that would be more difficult to weaponize.

“In Tehran, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, sought to assure conservative factions that Iran remained skeptical of Washington and would not rush headlong into a deal.

“’Definitely, a history of high tensions between Tehran and Washington will not go back to normal relations due to a phone call, meeting or negotiation,’ Mr. Araghchi was quoted as saying by the semiofficial Fars news agency.

“’We never trust America 100 percent,’ he added. ‘And, in the future, we will remain on the same path.’”

Iran Taunts Israel

The Jerusalem Post wrote on October 2, 2013:

“Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that Israel’s military threat has little substance, referring to it as a ‘sword’ which has gone ‘blunt,’ Iran’s Fars news agency reported.

“‘Israel is upset to see that its sword has gone blunt and Iran grows more powerful day by day,’ he said after a cabinet meeting in Tehran.

“Rouhani also told reporters that Israel’s aggressive discourse with regard to Iran ‘is the cause of our happiness.’

“Iranian Chief-of-Staff Hassan Firouzabadi said Wednesday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s threat of a unilateral Israeli military strike on Iran ‘lacks stability,’ and stems from desperation,  Fars reported.

“After Netanyahu warned Iran against advancing its nuclear program in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, the Iranian military chief told Fars that the use of a military threat is a method which is ‘rusted, old and blunt,’ and that Tehran’s nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

“‘Such remarks stem out of desperation,’ he added.

“Firouzabadi also told Fars that Netanyahu’s remarks had only served to ‘increase the threat against the Zionists.’ Referring to Netanyahu as a ‘warmonger,’ Firouzabadi said ‘Iran will be the winner in this case for its revolutionary stance of heroic flexibility.’

“Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Netanyahu and ‘the Zionist lobby’ were trying to hinder negotiations.

“‘We will not let Netanyahu determine the future of our talks,’ Zarif wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday.”

Israel “Will Stand Alone”

The Jerusalem Post reported on October 1, 2013:

“A steadfast Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made clear in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday that Israel would not accept a nuclear armed Iran, and would “stand alone” if necessary to achieve that aim.

“‘Israel will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, even if we have to stand alone. Yet in standing alone, Israel will know that we will be defending many, many others,’ he said.

“The prime minister dismissed the recent so-called ‘charm offensive’ by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, charging that while his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, had been openly aggressive towards Israel, Rouhani was concealing his true intentions. The Iranians’ goal, Netanyahu said, was an end to the sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy and which were implemented over Teheran’s intransigence on its atomic ambitions. It was with this goal in mind, Netanyahu said, that Rouhani was elected president.

“‘When it comes to Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the only difference between them is this: Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf’s clothing, Rouhani is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a wolf who thinks he can pull the wool over the eyes of the international community,’ Netanyahu said.”

More and more, Israel is finding itself alone. Under President Obama, US relations with Israel continue to deteriorate. Biblical prophecy reveals that difficult times are ahead for the State of Israel.

France Wants Sunday Work

The Times of India reported on October 1, 2013:

“When economic inequalities helped foment the French Revolution, the legendary cry from on high was, ‘Let them eat cake!’ Now, as modern France struggles economically, the cry from below is, ‘Let us work!’

“As France battles high unemployment, rising taxes and pinched pocketbooks, the Socialist government has said its main focus is job creation. Now, critics of a more-than century-old law that prevents most stores from opening on Sundays say revising it would be a good step in that direction.

“Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault appeared to respond to that call on Monday, ordering a review of the law that labour unions and Roman Catholic faithful cherish, but that consumers — and increasingly some workers decry . Under French law, Sunday is a mandatory day off to help ensure rest and the quality of life, although some retailers in tourist areas can get exemptions . Critics say the protections go too far, crimping modern lifestyles and putting France at a competitive disadvantage . A sporadic debate revived last week after a court, ruling on an unfair-competition lawsuit brought by a rival hardware vendor, ordered home improvement chains Leroy Merlin and Castorama to shut 14 Paris-area stores on Sundays. It threatened fines of 1,20,000 ($1,62,000) on each store that violated the rules.

“The stores got temporary waivers, but their employees were growling —insisting that Sunday openings give them needed extra pay and suit customers who find it hard to shop during the work week bustle.”

Italian Government Suffers Downfall… Again!

Deutsche Welle wrote on September 30, 2013:

“The resignation of all five cabinet ministers from Berlusconi’s PdL party has sparked an outcry across Italy. For Prime Minister Enrico Letta it’s a new low in an already turbulent five months in office.

“Despair across Italy’s Sunday papers: Berlusconi’s latest move was ‘insanity,’ writes La Stampa as does the business paper Il Sole 24 Ore. Like a cry for help, the Corriere della Sera asks on its front page ‘Moderates, where are you?’. And Il Fatto Quotidiano runs a headline playing on Berlusconi’s recent court sentence: ‘The convicted is taking Italy down.’

“What did go down was the governing coalition in Rome, when on Saturday, five ministers from Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party declared their resignation. In response, Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta on Sunday announced he would seek a confidence vote from both houses of parliament on Wednesday.
“The official reason given by the PdL was their rejection of a raise of the country’s VAT. ‘We cannot support a government that increases the tax burden for our citizens,’ former Prime Minister Berlusconi explained the decision…

“Berlusconi too kept popping up in the headlines – although he was not part of the cabinet he still was in charge of Letta’s junior coalition partner, the PdL. So far his numerous court cases have resulted in one conviction for tax fraud with several other cases still pending.

“Italy is going through its deepest recession in post war history and is heavily in debt. It needs a strong government, ready to push reforms and get the debt problem under control. Berlusconi is hoping for new elections, the sooner the better. President Napolitano though seeks to prevent that, saying he would only dissolve parliament if there is no other option left.”

Deutsche Welle added on October 3:

“Another big show: Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi knows how to craft a good story – and, as his stage, he uses the Senate floor. After building up tension for days, the showdown between him and Prime Minister Enrico Letta was supposed to come on Wednesday (02.10.2013). But just before noon, Berlusconi stepped out of his role as the bad guy, let the pistol fall from his hand and gave the young sheriff his blessing. Letta can carry on governing – thanks to Berlusconi…

“Perhaps that’s exactly what Berlusconi had planned, and the split in his own party – between Berlusconi loyalists ready to vote no and a group of dissidents who were prepared to support Letta – was nothing but a hoax. That’s not out of the question. As an old professional and master of communication, Berlusconi knows all the tricks. Over the last few weeks, he’s dominated Italian media with his U-turns, implying to the people that the fate of Italy is indissolubly linked to his own. So now, in spite of Berlusconi’s threats, the government has not fallen.”

Pope Francis Challenges the Status Quo

Der Spiegel Online reported on September 26, 2013:

“At the Vatican, a down-to-earth Pope Francis has been preaching humility and modesty. Many bishops in Germany, however, are having a hard time embracing a more austere lifestyle.

“Last week Rudolf Voderholzer, 54, the bishop of the Bavarian city of Regensburg and one of Germany’s younger church leaders, was taken to task at the Vatican by the pope himself. In an admonishment to the German bishop and others attending a seminar for new bishops in Rome, Francis said: ‘Be close to the people and live as you preach. Always be with your flock, do not succumb to careerism and ask yourselves whether you are truly living as you preach.’

“This is a new message for German princes of the church. Many of them have long cultivated a lifestyle oriented toward strict dogmas, prestige and a career within the church, much like former Pope Benedict XVI. But now that his successor arrives at meetings in an old car, there has been a fundamental shift. Loyalty to the pope is being completely redefined, and not just in Regensburg, where Voderholzer’s predecessor Gerhard Ludwig Müller, a fervent devotee of former Pope Benedict, alienated many Roman Catholics.

“This week, German bishops have a chance to discuss what the change at the Vatican means for them, as they meet for their annual Bishops’ Conference in the central German city of Fulda. There hasn’t been this much uncertainty within their ranks in a long time…

“The spirit of optimism among ordinary churchgoers has grown with virtually every gesture coming from the new pope. In his interview with Civiltà Cattolica, published last week, Francis made it clear that he is fundamentally changing the nature of discourse in the Catholic Church. According to Francis, the church should not constantly focus on controversies surrounding gays, women and celibacy. ‘We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible,’ he said. ‘The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.’

“For Jesuit priest Klaus Mertes, who, as principal of Berlin’s Canisius School, unleashed the abuse scandal in Germany, the position of his fellow Jesuit and now pope is still revolutionary, even if Francis hasn’t abandoned any of the church’s strict principles. ‘If there is a change in the church’s practices, as well as in the way we interact with each other and with parishioners, the theory will also change in the end, and not the other way around.’ Many others share his hope.

“In their sermons, German bishops have repeatedly called upon pastors and parishioners alike to accept the church’s doctrine without question. ‘Obedience is love and not compulsion,’ Limburg Bishop Tebartz-van Elst said at an ordination ceremony for new priests.

“Ironically Francis who, as a Jesuit, was taught to be obedient and who, as pope, is entitled to demand obedience from every Catholic, is now breaking with this doctrine. ‘People get tired of authoritarianism,’ he said in his historic interview last week. ‘I lived a time of great interior crisis,’ he noted, only to recognize that ‘my authoritarian and quick manner of making decisions led me to have serious problems and to be accused of being ultraconservative.'”

German Reunification and the Losing Protestant Church

Deutsche Welle reported on October 3:

“Despite the Protestant Church having played a major role in the collapse of former East Germany, churches there today appear to have lost out – the region remains among the most non-religious in the world… In the movement to bring down the Berlin Wall, Protestant pastors and churchwardens opened their doors to protesters in the peaceful revolution. Many church leaders sought political change, and fought for German reunification. Joachim Gauck, now president of Germany, was one such religious leader.

“But despite the church’s paramount role in Germany’s reunification, hardly any other region in world is considered as ‘godless’ and non-religious as the former German Democratic Republic. So did Christianity lose out in the peaceful revolution that led to German reunification? Some eastern German churches have sought to evolve in response.”

New Circumcision Court Case

Der Spiegel Online wrote on September 27:

“The Higher Regional Court of Hamm, a city in western Germany, has concretized the law regulating culturally and religiously motivated circumcision, ruling that parents and doctors need to discuss any impending procedure with children.

“Circumcision has become a highly fraught subject in Germany since 2012, when a Higher Regional Court in Cologne decided that religious circumcision of boys constituted ‘bodily harm.’ That case involved a 4-year-old boy who, two days after being circumcised according to the wishes of his Muslim parents, was brought to the emergency room due to profuse bleeding. The prosecutor then brought charges against the doctor who had performed the circumcision.

“While the doctor was ultimately acquitted, the court decided that a child’s right to self-determination superceded his parents’ right to freedom of religion. The decision prompted widespread uproar, particularly among Jewish and Muslim groups and as far away as Turkey, Israel and the United States. Germany’s Central Council of Jews called it ‘an unprecedented and dramatic intrusion on the right to self-determination of religious communities.’ Ali Demir, the chairman of the Islamic Religious Community, argued that circumcision is a ‘harmless procedure, a tradition that is thousands of years old and highly symbolic.’

“Ultimately, the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, passed a law allowing the religious procedure. According to the new rules, specially qualified members of religious communities can perform the operation in the first six months of a boy’s life, after which it must be performed by a physician.”

Non-Binding European Resolution Condemns Religious Circumcision

JTA added on October 2:

“A resolution that calls male ritual circumcision a ‘violation of the physical integrity of children’ was passed overwhelmingly by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

“The council, a pan-European intergovernmental organization, debated and passed the resolution on Tuesday based on a report by the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development led by German rapporteur Marlene Rupperecht. The resolution passed by a vote of 78 in favor and 13 against, with 15 abstentions.

“The resolution calls on states to ‘clearly define the medical, sanitary and other conditions to be ensured for practices such as the non-medically justified circumcision of young boys.’ It also calls on member states to ‘initiate a public debate, including intercultural and interreligious dialogue, aimed at reaching a large consensus on the rights of children to protection against violations of their physical integrity according to human rights standards’ and to ‘adopt specific legal provisions to ensure that certain operations and practices will not be carried out before a child is old enough to be consulted.’”

Killer Hornets!

BBC wrote on October 2, 2013:

“Attacks by hornets in northern China have killed 41 people since July, state-run media report.

“More than 1,600 people have also been injured by stings in Shaanxi province, according to China News Agency.

“It says 206 people are still being treated in hospital, with 37 patients remaining in a critical condition…

“The Chinese term for hornets is ‘hu feng’ – those behind the deadly attacks this summer appear to be the Asian giant hornet, or Vespa mandarinia.

“They can grow up to 5cm long with a 6mm sting.

“The area is also home to the smaller Asian hornet, Vespa velutina nigrithorax.”

The Gambia Leaves Commonwealth

BBC News reported on October 3:

“The Gambia’s decision to withdraw from the Commonwealth 48 years after joining is something to ‘very much regret’, the UK Foreign Office has said. The west African nation branded the 54-member grouping, which includes the UK and most of its former colonies, a ‘neo-colonial institution’. The withdrawal was announced on state TV but no other reasons were given…”

©2024 Church of the Eternal God