News for April 22, 2008
Pastor David Ortiz telling the story of what happened to his son and family in Israel - Ami is a Jewish Israeli teen who was critically injured by a bomb that was disguised as a Purim gift package on March 20, 2008. This link is to a video of his father's testimony regarding that event and its aftermath.
California foreclosure "surge": Up 327% from '07 levels
Los Angeles Times
(April 22, 2008) - The number of California homes lost to foreclosure
in the first quarter surged 327% from year-ago levels -- reaching an average
of more than 500 foreclosures per day -- DataQuick said in a report, warning
that the widening foreclosure problem could "spread beyond the current
categories of dicey mortgages, and into mainstream home loans." From
DataQuick's report on California foreclosures in the first three months
of 2008: "Trustees Deeds recorded, or the actual loss of a home to
foreclosure, totaled 47,171 during the first quarter. ... Last quarter's
total rose 48.9 percent from 31,676 in the previous quarter, and jumped
327.6 percent from 11,032 in first quarter 2007." That translates into
517 foreclosures every day in the first quarter of 2008. DataQuick president
Marshall Prentice: "The main factor behind this foreclosure surge remains
the decline in home values. Additionally, a lot of the 'loans-gone-wild'
activity happened in late 2005 and 2006 and that's working its way through
the system. The big 'if' right now is whether or not the economy is in recession.
If it is, the foreclosure problem could spread beyond the current categories
of dicey mortgages, and into mainstream home loans."
From The L.A. Times' Peter Hong: "Sinking home values and the collapse
of flimsy mortgages sent a record number of California homes into the foreclosure
process in the first three months of this year, a real estate information
service reported today." Default notices -- which mark the beginning
of the foreclosure process -- increased sharply, but not as rapidly as outright
foreclosures. From Bloomberg News: "California mortgage defaults more
than doubled in the first quarter to the highest in 15 years as a drop in
sales and prices prevented some homeowners from selling their properties
to pay debt, DataQuick Information Systems said. More: "Homeowners
received 113,676 default notices in the first quarter, up 143 percent from
a year ago, La Jolla, California- based DataQuick said today in a statement.
The level was the highest since at least 1992, when DataQuick's statistics
begin." Despite well publicized federal efforts to reach out to homeowners
in default, the odds that they will ultimately lose their homes appear to
be increasing. DataQuick reports that, of the homeowners in default, "an
estimated 32 percent emerge from the foreclosure process by bringing their
payments current, refinancing, or selling the home and paying off what they
owe. A year ago it was about 52 percent.
MEPs to use budget
power over EU president perks EU Observer
(April 22, 2008) - Members of the European
Parliament are prepared to use their hold over the bloc's purse-strings
to try and make sure that the proposed new EU president does not wield too
much power. "The treaty is very clear about the duties [of the
president]," the head of the parliament's budget committee, Reimer
Boege, told EUobserver, noting that it says the person can have an administrative
role, "but not take over an executive function." "Budget
power is always used as a weapon. This is a principle," said the centre-right
German MEP. The parliament, wary of upsetting the fine balance of power
between the EU institutions, will have a chance to use this weapon when
it comes to negotiations later this year on the 2009 budget. Mr Boege said
that MEPs will looking out to see that if any extra perks for the president
– a private plane and a residence are rumoured to be under consideration
– would be "linked to lowering the communitarian level in the treaty",
meaning reducing the power of the European commission and boosting inter-governmental
politics. The MEP urged member states who are due to deliver a draft budget
to the parliament before the summer to show a "flexible and responsible
approach" and indicated that euro-deputies would be inclined to accept
a staff set-up for the president that does not exceed that of the immediate
staff of the European commission president (around 20). The first reading
of the budget is due in October, but MEPs are already fretting about the
institutional implications of the Lisbon Treaty, which is supposed to
come into force by the beginning of next year. Earlier this month, senior
MEPs, including parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering, met European
Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to raise certain points about the
treaty, particularly concerning the remit of the proposed president.
The treaty foresees a purely administrative role for the President of the
European Council – the formal title of the post - organising the meetings
of EU leaders. However, there is the potential for external representation
overlap with the foreign minister and the commission president, while
the role is also set to be defined by the person who gets the job.
A powerful EU president that is neither subject to parliamentary control
nor elected by citizens "would lead us to a pre-democratic situation,"
German centre-right MEP Elmar Brok told the constitutional affairs committee
earlier this month. more...
Al Qaeda No. 2: Attacks on Western nations in works
CNN (April 22, 2008)
- Al Qaeda still has plans to target Western countries involved in the Iraq
war, Osama bin Laden's chief deputy warns in an audiotape released Tuesday
to answer questions posed by followers. The voice in the lengthy file posted
on an Islamic Web site could not be immediately confirmed as al Qaeda No.
2 Ayman al-Zawahiri's. But it sounded like past audiotapes from the terror
leader, and the posting bore the logo of As-Sahab, al Qaeda's official media
arm. The two-hour message is billed as the second installment of al-Zawahiri's
answers to more than 900 questions submitted on extremist Internet sites
by al Qaeda supporters, critics and journalists in December. Responding
to a question of whether the terror group had plans to attack Western countries
that participated in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and subsequent war, al-Zawahiri
said, "My answer is, yes. We think that any country that joined aggression
on Muslims must be deterred." Al-Zawahiri also denied a conspiracy
theory that Israel carried out the September 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S.,
and he blamed Iran and Shiite Hezbollah for spreading the idea to discredit
the Sunni al Qaeda's achievement. Al-Zawahiri accused Hezbollah's al-Manar
television of starting the rumor. "The purpose of this lie is clear
-- (to suggest) that there are no heroes among the Sunnis who can hurt America
as no else did in history. Iranian media snapped up this lie and repeated
it," he said. "Iran's aim here is also clear -- to cover up its
involvement with America in invading the homes of Muslims in Afghanistan
and Iraq," he added. "Iran's aim here is also clear -- to cover
up its involvement with America in invading the homes of Muslims in Afghanistan
and Iraq," he added. Iran cooperated with the United States in the
2001 U.S. assault on Afghanistan that toppled the Taliban, an al Qaeda ally.
The comments reflected al-Zawahiri's increasing criticism of Iran, which
al-Zawahiri has accused in recent messages of seeking to extend its power
in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and through its Hezbollah allies
in Lebanon. Until recent months, he had not often mentioned the Islamic
republic. Al Qaeda has previously claimed responsibility for the 9/11 attacks.
The anti-Iranian rhetoric could reflect an attempt to exploit majority Sunnis'
fears of Shiite Iran's influence in the region and depict al Qaeda as the
main force opposing it. more...
"Functional" Sovereignty and the Common Heritage of Mankind Reshaping the International Order Part 3 Knowledge Driven Revolution (April 21, 2008)
This article addresses the redefinition of sovereignty from "territorial sovereignty" to "functional sovereignty" by The Club of Rome. Also discussed is the use of the concept of the "common heritage of mankind" to gain international control of not just the oceans, atmosphere and outer space but also all material and non-material resources. Part 1 of this series gives an overview of the proposed new international order described by the RIO report as "humanistic socialism". This includes: collective neighbourhood armies, a fully planned world economy, global free trade, public international enterprises, proposed changes in consumption patterns among other topics. Changes to the financial system including international taxation and the creation of a World Treasury, World Central Bank and World Currency are examined in part 2.
Territorial Sovereignty versus Functional Sovereignty From RIO: Reshaping the International Order: [Italicised text is original emphasis and bolded text is added by author.]
The "increasing centralization of [international] decision-making" being a "precondition for the effective assertion of national sovereignty" may seem contradictory. The reason for this misunderstanding is your definition of sovereignty is based on an apparently outdated "territorial sovereignty" instead of the much more modern and politically correct "functional sovereignty".
That is right, "sovereignty" no longer involves governmental control within a geographic space, rather it refers to governmental control of specific functions within a geographic space. Which functions would depend on the dictates of a world authority.
Common Heritage of Mankind as "Functional Ownership"
This concept includes the manipulation of the Third World "national liberation" movements in the post colonial era. These are only stepping stones toward "functional sovereignty".
Remember when you hear the term "Common Heritage of Mankind"
it does not just refer to the oceans, atmosphere and outer space, it refers
to all material and non-material resources. Anything that might be considered
a source of wealth would be brought under strict international authority.
Keep in mind non-material resources includes, among other things, the education
of "human resources". more...
Boy this brings to mind the article from the last newsletter: Minerals: Crumbling Bedrock of U.S. Security.
Hamas’ new strategy YNet News
(April 21, 2008) - It’s already clear by now
– Hamas has changed its combat strategy. In recent weeks the organization
diverted its main effort from “statistical” rocket terrorism, aimed at indiscriminately
hurting Israeli civilians both physically and mentally, to what can be characterized
as focused and complex “guerilla operations” mostly targeting IDF forces
operating along the fence. The organization’s strategic objectives have
remained unchanged: First, to force Israel, through military and propaganda
pressure, to lift the economic siege on the Strip. The siege threatens Hamas’
survivability in power. The second objective is to squeeze out of Jerusalem
a lull in the fighting under terms that would enable Hamas to grow stronger
militarily and politically and to prepare for a large-scale round of fighting
in the future. The reason for the change in combat strategy is the fact
that the organization’s leadership recently reached the conclusion that
the statistical terror directed at civilians – rockets, mortar shells, and
machinegun fire – does not result in the required political and psychological
“yield.” It even damages Hamas when it comes to international and Palestinian
public opinion and grants Israel legitimacy to hit the group and its leaders,
and even to embark on a large-scale operation in the Strip. Hamas wants
to prevent this as well, and therefore the group decided to focus its efforts
on “high quality” operations against the IDF. The greatest aspiration of
group leaders, who prefer guerilla operations against the IDF, is the abduction
of an Israeli soldier or soldiers. The Hizbullah experience and their own
experience taught them that more abducted soldiers would not only significantly
boost the organization’s bargaining power in the negotiations on securing
the release of prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit, but would also provide
them with a powerful pressure lever. Should Hamas possess several IDF captives,
the Israeli government would carefully weigh an order to assassinate Hamas
leaders in the Strip or instruct the IDF to embark on a large-scale operation
– for fear of Hamas revenge. Even in cases where Hamas men are unable to
abduct soldiers, but can cause many casualties among IDF troops, the group
benefits. We saw an example of this last week, when almost half of a Givati
force was hurt in an ambush laid by Hamas men. Three soldiers were killed
and four were wounded. The Israeli media rushed to slam the force’s conduct
and did not fail to note Hamas’ ability to kill eight Israelis in the current
year, as opposed to only three last year. Hamas leaders in Gaza and Damascus
who are carefully, if not passionately, following Israeli media reports
apparently concluded, just like Hizbullah realized in the Second Lebanon
War, that the Israeli public is sensitive to casualties among troops more
than it is sensitive to moral and physical damage caused to civilians as
a result of the Qassams and Grads in Sderot and Ashkelon. Such successful
guerilla attack initiated by Hamas also grants it more points and broad
support on the Palestinian street. Therefore, this is the channel where
efforts should be directed at, both in order to negotiate a lull from a
position of strength and to boost Hamas’ political power and prestige.
Zimbabwe recount deepens crisis Christian Science Monitor (April 21, 2008) - As President Robert Mugabe's handpicked Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) recounts votes in 23 constituencies, human rights groups say his militias are setting up "torture camps" to beat opposition supporters and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has fled the country in fear for his life. Mr. Mugabe's government announced a delay in the partial recount of the disputed March 29 election on Sunday, raising opposition concerns that his ruling ZANU-PF party intends to rig the recount to overturn the results of the parliamentary vote, which showed ZANU-PF losing its majority to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) for the first time. In Nairobi, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in town to celebrate the successful peace deal in Kenya that created a coalition government, called on African leaders to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis. "On the question of Zimbabwe there has been substantial international attention," Mr. Annan told reporters. "The question which has been posed is: Where are the Africans? Where are their leaders and the countries in the region, what are they doing? It is a rather dangerous situation. It's a serious crisis with impact beyond Zimbabwe."
MDC rejects recount
With a government crackdown now well under way, the political crisis following the elections is escalating sharply. Leaders of the MDC say that they will not accept the results of the recount and that they will reject calls for a runoff vote against Mugabe. In a new report, Human Rights Watch says pro-government militias – including hundreds of so-called "war veterans" – are arresting and beating anyone suspected of having supported MDC. And as the ongoing "quiet" mediation efforts by South African President Thabo Mbeki lose credibility, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon has called for a meeting of African leaders in Ghana next week to discuss Zimbabwe. Many Africans see this as the first step toward a Kenya-style mediation process, led by Mr. Annan. "What this shows is that Zimbabwe may be getting sufficient momentum that we might see a continental [African] approach toward Zimbabwe," says Chris Maroleng, a Zimbabwe expert at the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa. "But I think that any actor will find that it is difficult to engage Zimbabwe. I doubt [Mugabe] would create the space for [Annan] to come in. He would discredit him, calling him a neo-imperialist proxy of the West."
Will regional countries intervene?
While the Southern African Development Community has been criticized for endorsing the "quiet diplomacy" of Mr. Mbeki, that regional body has a better chance than the African Union or the UN of engaging Mugabe in dialogue, says Mr. Maroleng. "I think the SADC has the best shot here. If they let the situation deteriorate further, that regional body is going to be judged very harshly." Last week, Zimbabwe's high court ruled that the ZEC could begin a partial recount in 23 of the 210 constituencies, where Mugabe's supporters allege that the ZEC had miscounted votes. Most of the constituencies are those where the ruling ZANU-PF lost to the MDC, according to preliminary vote counts posted at polls soon after March 29. MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said the opposition party has discovered that some ballot boxes had been opened and seals broken, meaning that they had been tampered with while they were in the hands of the ZEC. The MDC also says its polling agents were chased away from counting centers by soldiers and pro-Mugabe militiamen, leaving the recounting solely in the hands of the ZEC and ruling party officials. Meanwhile, human rights activists warn that the current wave of anti-opposition violence may be just beginning. A Chinese ship carrying arms, turned back at the South African port of Durban, now appears to be sailing to Angola, for onward shipment to Zimbabwe. The powerful South African Transport and Allied Workers Union refused to offload the ship's cargo, out of concern that the weapons may be used against opposition members and dissidents in Zimbabwe. The cargo included 3 million rounds of AK-47 ammunition, 1,500 rocket propelled grenades, and 2,500 mortar rounds Already political violence has killed 10 opposition supporters since the elections, according to the MDC and Human Rights Watch, while more than 3,000 people have been displaced. Over 200 houses of opposition supporters have been burned as political violence takes root. "It's a time bomb because people are unhappy and they are bottling up their anger," says Eldred Masunungure, a political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe. "Mugabe is underestimating the power of the people."
Defining a better Mediterranean union The Daily
Star (April 21, 2008) - Next July 13,
in Paris, Europe will better define the Union for the Mediterranean (UM),
its latest venture in the Middle East. Initially proposed by French President
Nicolas Sarkozy, the idea has undergone radical transformation, so that
the current incarnation bears little resemblance to the initial proposal.
The shape of the UM will only be clear once the July summit is over, but
as things now stand, the union holds many challenges, but also some promise,
for the Middle East. The original idea, floated during Sarkozy's presidential
campaign, was highly nebulous. Seen as a means of rebuilding France's role
in the Middle East, the plan was also a way for Sarkozy to appeal to voters
of North African origin. Initially, it involved the 10 Mediterranean states
and only the southern states of the European Union. However, Germany, fearing
the creation of a power block within the EU, vociferously objected. Chancellor
Angela Merkel slammed the plan as "very dangerous," arguing it
would release "explosive forces in the EU that I would not like to
see." As a result of German lobbying, the UM idea has since been watered
down. Whereas initially the union was to be independent of existing EU
instruments, such as the Barcelona Process and the European Neighborhood
Policy (ENP), it has now been reconfigured, as Hans-Gert Pottering, the
president of the European Parliament, has described it, to "strengthen
and further the Barcelona Process." The UM is now attached to the
EU and involves all 27 member states. Additional EU funds will not be forthcoming,
although it is rumored that Qatar and private donors will be contributing
money. The UM, however, does still maintain its project-specific nature,
with an opt-out clause for those states who do not wish to take part in
the projects being offered, which currently center on energy, pollution,
and civil security cooperation issues. But even the new, expanded project
is drawing a fair amount of flak. As one commentator noted, the involvement
of the 27 EU states may lead to a danger of "too many meetings, with
too many participants that achieve too little." Such concerns compound
fears of duplication and an expansion of an already overly bureaucratic
European system, unless extreme care is taken in overseeing the linkage
with the ENP. Pessimists point to other potential stumbling blocks - primarily
the acrimonious relations between the Middle Eastern partners in the UM.
Chief among these worries is the simmering Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
but hostile Syrian-Lebanese relations and Moroccan-Algerian tensions are
also predicted to place limits on what the UM can realistically achieve.
Supporters, however, liken this to the EU model, whereby shared interests
might generate conflict resolution, with French Minister for European Affairs
Henri Guaino arguing that "it's through concrete cooperation ... that
we can create solidarity between nations." As observers have noted,
most of the areas marked for projects have been those where collaboration
has taken place under the Barcelona Process. Closer regional relations,
therefore, will have to result not from a novel approach, but from revived
association - a question of degree, not content. Yet if Guaino's argument
is correct, then the UM might do more than enable Israeli-Palestinian cooperation.
Collaboration on various projects may also provide a helpful platform in
aiding rapprochement in North Africa, vital in light of rising violence
by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Another point of criticism is the lack
of clarity regarding the relationship of the UM with the EU's political
basket - namely the need to enhance democracy and rule of law in the Middle
East. So far, the UM appears focused on business-oriented initiatives, leading
human rights activists to fear the sidelining of democracy and rule of law
requirements within the framework of the EU's relationship with the Mediterranean
states. Yet the silence over governance issues can cut both ways. For the
Arab counterparts, it's a welcome relief. Combined with the shared presidency
of the UM (one European country will hold the post together with a Mediterranean
country), this could go some way toward addressing regional resentment
of the Barcelona Process and the ENP - viewed by many as unfairly weighed
in favor of the EU. Redressing this imbalance will enable a sense
of appropriation by the Mediterranean counterparts, providing for more enthusiastic
European-Middle East relations. more...
Bloody Weekend: 32 Shot, 2 Stabbed, 6 Dead
CBS Chicago (April 20, 2008) - A violent
and deadly weekend continues in Chicago. At least 12 people have been shot,
two of them killed, since Saturday morning. Two others were stabbed in a
home invasion. This comes after at least 20 people were shot, four of them
killed, from Friday night through early Saturday. A 28-year-old man was
shot and killed at an auto body repair shop on the Southwest Side Saturday
morning. Raul Lemus was shot in the stomach at 2520 W. 59th St. at about
11:20 a.m. Lemus, of 4630 S. Talman Av., died several hours later at Stroger
Hospital, making him the sixth person killed in Chicago since Friday night.
Police said the shooting appeared to be gang related. Also Saturday morning,
Michael Giles, 26, was shot and killed inside his home at 336 N. Avers Av.
Harrison Area detectives are investigating. In another case, a suspect toting
an AK-47 has been charged with murder and three counts of attempted murder
after allegedly killing a man and shooting at police. Bennie Teague, 39,
was denied bond in the case Sunday afternoon. It's amazing no one was hurt
during the shootout between police and Teague, who was firing an assault
rifle. Police say the gunman opened fire on them Friday night at 110th and
South Union. They tracked him down after he allegedly shot and killed 34-year-old
Marcus Hendricks inside a plumbing business a few blocks away. The 34-year-old
from Flossmoor died after being shot just blocks from a police-involved
shooting on the Far South Side. He died at Advocate Christ Medical Center
in Oak Lawn at 8 p.m., a Cook County Medical Examiner's office spokesman
said. "All I could say is he's a nice guy," said neighbor Amos
Williams. The recent gunfire has rattled nerves throughout the Roseland
neighborhood. "It's not that all the area, all the streets are bad,"
Williams said. "It's that you get bad elements coming through your
street." Also, Friday night, two teens were gunned down in front of
a church in the 7500 block of South Phillips. Police say gunmen jumped out
of a car and opened fire in front of the Free Salvation Methodist Baptist
Church. One of the teens suffered a gunshot wound to the chest and back,
the other was shot in the neck, police said. Melvin Thomas, of 14922 Washington
Ave. in Harvey was pronounced dead at the Stein Institute at 1:20 a.m. Rhonell
Savala, of 9750 S. Hoxie Ave. in Chicago, was pronounced dead at 12:50 a.m.
Saturday at the Stein Institute. "I was in my house and my friend came
and got me and he said two boys was laying outside on the stairs...dead,"
said neighbor Tamara Roberson. "To put the shooting in perspective,
you have to consider this was a 17-hour window," said Chicago Police
spokesperson Monique Bond about the number of shootings. Chicago police
are now stepping up patrols in areas that they call "hot zones."
Police blame the warmer temperatures for the spike in violence. "We
know that we're approaching warmer weather, the summer season. We know that
this is going to be a very busy season for the Chicago Police Department.
There's no doubt about that," Bond said. Chicago Police have also recently
started using helicopter patrols to try to curb gang violence. Choppers
will be flying over areas prone to gang activity, especially on weekends
when more shootings seem to occur. Other shootings included, a 65-year-old
man being shot dead outside his home on the Southeast Side during an attempted
Brown deal bars Blair from top EU job The Independent
(April 20, 2008) - Tony Blair's chances of
becoming the first president of the EU have been dashed under a secret veto
deal Gordon Brown has struck with France and Germany, it emerged last night.
The former prime minister is said to be "interested" in the £200,000-a-year
job if the terms are right. But the British, French and German governments
have all privately agreed not to back a candidate if any one of them has
objections to him or her, diplomats have revealed. France's President Nicolas
Sarkozy has lobbied on behalf of Mr Blair, but the German Chancellor, Angela
Merkel, is against the move. Mr Brown has said Mr Blair would make an "excellent"
EU president, but has not explicitly backed him as a candidate. The deal
means the decision is now out of the Prime Minister's hands. "We have
agreed with France and Germany not to back a candidate one of the others
doesn't want," a British diplomat said. Yet there is new speculation
from senior EU sources that Mr Blair is lining himself up for the role of
high representative for foreign affairs – the second permanent position
created under the Lisbon Treaty. The job, effectively the EU's foreign minister,
has more real power than the presidency. Mr Blair has recently let it be
known in the highest circles of the EU that he would want a "full-time"
job similar to his current post as Middle East envoy.
Children's hospital launches sex change for kids program
Natural News (April
19, 2008) - A doctor at the renowned
Children's Hospital Boston has launched a new program to drug children
to delay puberty so they can decide whether they want a male or a female
body, according to a report today in the Boston Globe. Pediatric endocrinologist
Norman Spack, 64, says he started the Gender Management Service Clinic because
he found himself encountering 20-somethings who were "transgendered"
and in good shape socially, "but they were having trouble getting their
physique to conform to their identity. "I knew the 20-somethings could
have better chances of passing if they were treated earlier," he said. "We
don't think that demonic is too strong a word to describe this," said
a statement from the pro-family
organization. "It brings us thoughts of the Nazi doctors who thought
they were doing good things."
WND has reported previously on some of the controversies prompted by the
belief that a man can be born in a woman's body, or vice versa, including
in Montgomery County, Md., where county officials have adopted a law that
precludes those who provide public accommodations from discriminating based
on that "gender identity." Voters there have petitioned to have
a vote on that law because they fear men who "decide" they are
female walking into women's restrooms and locker rooms. "Is this our
future?" asked Mass Resistance in a commentary. "Dr. Norman Spack
runs a clinic for young children who've 'decided' they are transgendered.
Among other things, the clinic administers powerful hormones to delay (or
even stop) puberty in order that the children more easily undergo operations
that mutilate their bodies to 'change' them to the opposite sex." "This
is going on at the world-renowned Children's Hospital in Boston – not some
backwater clinic. This is the elite of the medical profession," the
organization said. In a question-and-answer session with Globe columnist
Pagan Kennedy, she starts the apologetic for doing surgery on children by
saying, "Little boys sob unless they're allowed to wear dresses. The
girls want to be called Luke, Ted, or James." "Until recently,
children with cross-gender feelings rarely received modern medical care
– and certainly not hormone shots. After all, who would allow a child to
redesign his or her body?" she asks. But Spack, she wrote, has started
a clinic that "is one of the few in the world to give children treatments
that change their bodies." more...
American Union: PR Was Focus of Recent Secret Meeting of the SPP
Natural News (April
19, 2008) - An internal memo from Canada's Foreign Affairs and Internal
Trade ministry, obtained by World Net News under the Access to Information
Act, documents the agenda at the most recent secret summit meeting of the
Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) in Montebello, Quebec, held on
August 20-21, 2007. The central activity of the meeting was to figure out
a way to get the American people to swallow the idea of the collaboration
leading to the North American Union, and to squelch the growing criticism
surrounding it. Present at the meeting were U.S. President George Bush,
Mexico's President Felipe Calderon, and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen
Harper. The SPP consists of 20 working groups plus the attending cabinet
officers from each country and the heads of state. Also present were members
of the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC), the only participants
invited to meet behind closed doors with the SPP bureaucrats. The NACC is
a largely secretive advisory council to the SPP consisting of representatives
from 30 North American corporations selected by the Chambers of Commerce
in the three nations. The NACC issued no press releases disclosing specific
recommendations made to them by the SPP trilateral working groups tasked
with "integrating" and "harmonizing" administrative
rules and regulations into a unified North American format. However, the
memo documents that the NACC was urged to launch a public relations campaign
to counter growing criticism of the trilateral cooperative that is seen
by many as a major step toward the North American Union, see (http://www.naturalnews.com/022707.html). "Leaders
had a successful meeting with the members of the NACC, which had been launched
at the leader's meeting in Cancun in March 2006, to counsel governments
on how they might enhance North American competitiveness," the memo
begins. As discussion continues, the members of the NACC were urged to "assist
in confronting and refuting critics of the Security and Prosperity Partnership
of North America". According to paragraph four of the memo, the public
relations theme continued during the meeting. "In closing, all leaders
expressed a desire for the NACC to play a role in articulating publicly
the benefits of greater collaboration in North America." Further on,
according to the memo, "Leaders discussed some of the difficulties
of the SPP, including the lack of popular support and the failure of the
public to understand the competitive challenges confronting North America."
The memo continues, "Governments are faced with addressing the rapidly
evolving competitive environment without fueling protectionism, when industry
sectors face radical transformation." The memo documents a comment
by the U.S. President. "In terms of building public support, President
Bush suggested engaging the support of those who had benefited from NAFTA
and from North American Integration (including small business owners) to
tell their stories and humanize the impressive results." Regarding
import safety, the document says, "President Bush underlined the importance
of tackling the issue more broadly and showing that governments are ahead
of this issue in order to prevent a trade protectionist backlash, especially
against China." The memo again reinforces the public relations theme,
emphasizing, "NACC members should have a role in communicating the
merits of North American collaboration, including by engaging their employees
and unions." Meanwhile, a policy of secret, closed-door meetings where
the press and the public is not invited to participate or observe the process
continues to characterize meetings of the SPP and trilateral working groups.
A meeting of the SPP that was virtually unreported in the U.S. and Canada
on February 27-28, 2008 in Los Cabos, Mexico, was disclosed in the Mexico
City newspaper La Jornada. According to the newspaper, the Secretary of
Commerce Carlos Gutierrez visited Mexico City prior to the Los Cabos meeting "to
renegotiate NAFTA" by offering the information to Mexico that undisclosed
U.S. corporations and the U.S. government are planning to place as much
as $141 billion in new investments in Mexico under the Mexico National Infrastructure
Project 2007-2012. In a press release published February 21 on the U.S.
Trade and Development Agency website, the agenda for the February 26-28
meeting in Mexico City was presented. At this meeting Secretary Gutierrez
planned to announce United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) grants
totaling more than $1.7 million made "to promote the development of
transportation, energy and environmental projects under Mexico's National
Infrastructure Program". Another press release on the USTDA website
documents the launching by President Calderon of Mexico's National Infrastructure
Program in July, 2008. Its goal is to create $141 billion dollars worth
of new infrastructure investment opportunities for U.S. firms by 2012.
British prime minister calls for global 'interdependence'
(April 18, 2008) - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in his first
foreign policy address in the United States, called on the U.S. and Europe
on Friday to lead a new era of global "interdependence" aimed
at solving international problems such as terrorism, poverty and climate
change. "We urgently need to step out of the mindset of competing interests
and instead find our common interests, and we must summon up the best instincts
and efforts of humanity in a cooperative effort to build new international
rules and institutions for the new global era," Brown said in a speech
to about 350 invited guests at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library
and Museum. Brown cited Kennedy's Independence Day speech in 1962, when
the president proposed a "new and global declaration of interdependence."
Brown said Kennedy's call for public service "still reverberates around
the world and always will." Noting Kennedy's creation of the Peace
Corps, Brown called for the creation of "a new kind of global peace
and reconstruction corps," which he described as an organization of
trained civilian experts available any time to rebuild states. Brown also
talked about U.S. leadership following World War II, include the Marshall
Plan that funneled millions in economic aid and technical assistance to
help rebuild Europe. "We must summon inspiration from the vision, humanity
and leadership shown by those reformers to guide our actions today,"
he said. Brown reiterated his call for reform of the World Bank, International
Monetary Fund and United Nations to give emerging countries such as China,
India and Brazil more say in the international institutions. He called on
the World Bank to intensify programs to reduce poverty and said the institution
should become a bank for both development and the environment by transferring
billions in loans and grants to encourage the poorest countries to adopt
alternative sources of energy. The British leader, who has set a mandatory
target in the U.K. to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent by 2050,
insisted that a new global pact on reducing carbon emission must be agreed
on by the end of 2009. He said the deal, which would replace the Kyoto Protocol
that was rejected by the U.S. and expires in 2012, should be led by the
United Nations and needs to set binding targets for all developed countries.
Brown, who has overseen some U.K. troop withdrawals in Iraq and sought to
soothe public anger in Britain over the unpopular war, did not mention Iraq
directly. But he insisted he would support future military action to intervene
in failing states. He praised President Bush for leading the world in an
attempt to root out terrorism and "our common commitment that there
be no safe haven for terrorists." Brown said the United States and
Europe should act as "hardheaded internationalists," and use "diplomatic,
economic, and yes, when necessary military action -- to prevent crimes against
humanity when states can no longer do so."
Small state, small job and a safe pair of hands
European Voice (April
18, 2008) - Having Luxembourg's Jean-Claude Juncker as president
of the European Council would best suit the interests of the EU's powerbrokers,
says John Wyles. I have long thought that Jean-Claude Juncker could be a
good prospect to win the new role of president of the European Council.
While I would not bet my house on him, he must be the front runner following
the recent publication of a Harris Interactive online poll conducted in
five EU countries plus the US. Tony Blair may still be the candidate of
French President Nicolas Sarkozy (though I doubt it) and others may think
Angela Merkel prefers a European to a national role, but the smart money
must be on Juncker. In the Harris poll he attracted 1% support in France
as a candidate for the presidential role, 2% in Germany, 1% in Italy and
even less in Spain and the UK. The Luxembourg prime minister is favourite
not because he is uniquely qualified for the job. Nor is he a likely winner
because his voice would command attention in Moscow, Washington or Beijing,
where he may be accorded no more than a polite hearing. The prize will probably
be his because, with the kind of public support and recognition unearthed
by Harris, he is a perfect combination: no threat to the powers-that-be
in national capitals while also a safe pair of hands. These advantages
have earned several Luxembourgers top jobs over the last 50 years and have
already made Juncker chairman of the Eurogroup of finance ministers. It
has always seemed to me infinitely improbable that the leaders of the big
member states would choose a political heavyweight such as Tony Blair as
their first president of the Council. It seems equally unlikely that a political
heavyweight would want the job, although good authority says that Blair
aches for it. As one of the political godfathers of the Treaty of Lisbon
and, therefore, presumably familiar with its contents, his ambition is difficult
to credit. No matter how hard you try to stretch language, the tasks
allotted to the president of the Council are perfectly suited to a retired
Rotary Club chairman who knows how to drink his soup quietly. Formally,
he/she has to prepare and preside over meetings of the Council and represent
the Union on those formal occasions (signings of trade agreements, political
protocols etc) at home and abroad that, in some people, sap the will to
live. When they embraced the draft Lisbon treaty, there is no evidence
that it was in the minds of the heads of state and government to appoint
someone “who might actually walk tall on the international stage” as
Philip Stephens, the Financial Times commentator, so hotly desired in a
recent article. There are other reasons for opting for Prime Minister Juncker
or his equivalent from another small member state. Damaging turf battles
between the presidents of the Council and the European Commission and
the High Representative (who is bound to be known to the media as “Europe's
foreign minister”) will be an ever-present danger, but rather less likely
if the Council is led by someone who is not aspiring to be a master of the
universe. It will be difficult enough to establish clear institutional
coherence and responsibility with a High Representative anchored in both
the Commission and the Council of Ministers, without the complication of
a Council President competing for power in that narrow space occupied by
a common foreign and security policy. more...
5.2-Magnitude Earthquake Rocks Midwest Fox
News (April 18, 2008) - Residents across
the Midwest were awakened Friday by a 5.2 magnitude earthquake that rattled
skyscrapers in Chicago's Loop and homes in Cincinnati but appeared to cause
no major injuries or damage. The quake just before 4:37 a.m. was centered
six miles from West Salem, Ill., and 45 miles from Evansville, Ind. It was
felt in such distant cities as Milwaukee, Des Moines, Iowa, and Atlanta,
nearly 400 miles to the southeast. "It shook our house where it woke
me up," said David Behm of Philo, 10 miles south of Champaign, Ill. "Windows
were rattling, and you could hear it. The house was shaking inches. For
people in central Illinois, this is a big deal. It's not like California."
In Mount Carmel, Ill., 15 southeast of the epicenter, a woman was trapped
in her home by a collapsed porch but was quickly freed and wasn't hurt,
said Mickie Smith, a dispatcher at the police department. The department
took numerous other calls, though none reported anything more serious than
objects knocked off walls and out of shelves, she said. Also in Mount Carmel,
a two-story apartment building was evacuated because of loose and falling
bricks. Police cordoned off the building, a 1904 school converted to residences.
Bonnie Lucas, a morning co-host at WHO-AM in Des Moines, said she was sitting
in her office when she felt her chair move. She grabbed her desk, and then
heard the ceiling panels start to creak. The shaking lasted about 5 seconds,
she said. The quake is believed to have involved the Wabash fault, a northern
extension of the New Madrid fault about six miles north of Mount Carmel,
Ill., said United States Geological Survey geophysicist Randy Baldwin. The
last earthquake in the region to approach the severity of Friday's temblor
was a 5.0 magnitude quake that shook a nearby area in 2002, Baldwin said. "This
is a fairly large quake for this region," he said. "They might
occur every few years." more...
focus on eternity, McLaren says at Willow Creek student ministries conference
Baptist Press (April
18, 2008) - The emphasis Christians place on the traditional Christian
doctrines of hell and the second coming of Jesus inhibits believers from
living effective lives of service in this world, according to speaker and
author Brian McLaren. McLaren explained his views April 9-10 at Willow Creek
Community Church in South Barrington, Ill., as a featured speaker during
the Willow Creek Association's annual Shift student ministries conference.
During the conference's opening session, Bo Boshers, executive director
of student ministries for the Willow Creek Association, said he does not
agree with all McLaren's views but that all youth ministers should consider
his thoughts. In his most recent book, "Everything Must Change"
(Thomas Nelson), McLaren commends Willow Creek pastor Bill Hybels as one
of only a handful of evangelical leaders properly addressing global poverty
and equity for the world's population. "Some of us came from a religious
tradition or a religious background where our main role was to recruit kids
to go to heaven," said McLaren, a controversial leader within the emerging
church movement. "And that's a good thing. Mortality rates are still
pretty high, and we all have to face that decision. But I'm here to challenge
you to think bigger and deeper and in more layers and dimensions about your
role." In a later conference breakout session, McLaren elaborated, "There
are some ideas that are not truly ideas of the Gospel but are ideas of the
modern understanding of the Gospel. The problem isn't the Bible. The problem
is modern rings that we put around the Bible. And what we need to do --
some of us in our thinking -- is to find the courage to snip the ring so
that our faith ... can really have a future." Though he did not specify
at Willow Creek which traditional doctrines need revision, McLaren wrote
in his 2007 book "Everything Must Change" that the doctrine of
hell needs radical rethinking. He argues that people who believe in hell
may be inclined to dominate and take advantage of other people, rather than
help them. "Many of us have been increasingly critical in recent years
of popular American eschatology in general, and conventional views of hell
in particular," he wrote. "Simply put, if we believe that God
will ultimately enforce his will by forceful domination, and will eternally
torture all who resist that domination, then torture and domination become
not only permissible but in some way godly." The orthodox understanding
that Jesus will return at a future date and forcefully conquer all His enemies
also needs rethinking, according to McLaren. "This eschatological understanding
of a violent second coming leads us to believe (as we've said before) that
in the end, even God finds it impossible to fix the world apart from violence
and coercion; no one should be surprised when those shaped by this theology
behave accordingly," McLaren wrote. The book of Revelation does not
actually teach that there will be a new heaven and a new earth, he wrote,
but that a new way of living is possible within this universe if humans
will follow Jesus' example... Citing the Lord's Prayer, he told conference
attendees that youth ministers must shift their thinking and teach teens
that involvement in earthly matters is more pressing than focus on eternal
matters. "As youth workers, a shift is happening and a shift is needed,"
he said, "that you become agents of recruiting people, young people,
to consider devoting their entire lives to living not just for themselves
and their own selfish interests, not just for their nation and their own
national interests, but to work as agents of the Kingdom of God, joining
with Jesus Christ in His good news of the Kingdom of God." In the breakout
session, McLaren said the world is moving from an era of modern thinking
to an era of postmodern thinking and youth ministers must transition their
teaching accordingly. While modern thinking emphasizes analysis, postmodern
thinking moves beyond reason and analysis to a focus on larger realities,
he said. "We're in a period of profound shift in our world today,"
he said. "And what has been familiar to us and our churches is in some
ways shaking and crumbling and being reconfigured." more...
I must say that hell and the second coming are central to truly understanding reality as events continue to unfold to the prophetic fulfillment written in the Word of God. The idea of "kingdom now" theology where we must bring the kingdom of God prior to the second coming misses what the Bible says about the future when the man of sin will be given power by Lucifer to rule the earth for 3 1/2 years. This is the "New Age" kingdom where a "New Age Christ" will rule with signs and lying wonders deceiving the whole world. Without the foundation of scripture regarding this, how easy would it be for someone without understanding to be deceived to believe the lies? The truth doesn't change to accommodate the people listening, God tells it like it is and will be as a warning to not be deceived. To be honest, I don't know McLaren's position in detail, but from this article, it sounds like he supports ignoring plain scripture to appease the audience, something the Bible warned would happen.
2 Timothy 4:1-5
The Gospel has never changed and we don't need to change the message to get God's point across. If people don't accept the message as given, that is their choice. It is not our place to shift the message for the hearer and the Bible is God's message, complete with the warning of hell (eternal separation from God, who is Love) and the second coming of Christ who will judge the quick and the dead at His appearing with sudden destruction like the days of Noah and Lot. Matthew 24:36-39 | Luke 17:24-33 I think this understanding is central for Christians to be aware of, especially since we are most likely living in the generation of His return! We were warned to watch, so I think its best to understand what we're watching and be aware of the signs of the times.
At the same time, realizing the times in which we live, it is important to share the hope that is in us through the salvation freely given so that we may live. Freely we have received, freely let us give! Do you know someone who could use the hope we have in Christ through His sacrifice for our sins? Let us watch and have an answer for the hope that is within us. 1 Peter 3:15
Across globe, hunger brings rising anger International
Herald Tribune (April 18, 2008) - Hunger
bashed in the front gate of Haiti's presidential palace. Hunger poured onto
the streets, burning tires and taking on soldiers and the police. Hunger
sent the country's prime minister packing. Haiti's hunger, that burn in
the belly that so many here feel, has become fiercer than ever in recent
days as global food prices spiral out of reach, spiking as much as 45 percent
since the end of 2006 and turning Haitian staples like beans, corn and rice
into closely guarded treasures. Saint Louis Meriska's children ate two spoonfuls
of rice apiece as their only meal recently and then went without any food
the following day. His eyes downcast, his own stomach empty, the unemployed
father said forlornly, "They look at me and say, 'Papa, I'm hungry,'
and I have to look away. It's humiliating and it makes you angry."
That anger is palpable across the globe. The food crisis is not only being
felt among the poor but is also eroding the gains of the working and middle
classes, sowing volatile levels of discontent and putting new pressures
on fragile governments. In Cairo, the military is being put to work baking
bread as rising food prices threaten to become the spark that ignites wider
anger at a repressive government. In Burkina Faso and other parts of sub-Saharan
Africa, food riots are breaking out as never before. In reasonably prosperous
Malaysia, the ruling coalition was nearly ousted by voters who cited food
and fuel price increases as their main concerns. "It's the worst crisis
of its kind in more than 30 years," said Jeffrey Sachs, the economist
and special adviser to the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon. "It's
a big deal and it's obviously threatening a lot of governments. There are
a number of governments on the ropes, and I think there's more political
fallout to come." Indeed, as it roils developing nations, the spike
in commodity prices — the biggest since the Nixon administration — has pitted
the globe's poorer south against the relatively wealthy north, adding to
demands for reform of rich nations' farm and environmental policies. But
experts say there are few quick fixes to a crisis tied to so many factors,
from strong demand for food from emerging economies like China's to rising
oil prices to the diversion of food resources to make biofuels. There are
no scripts on how to handle the crisis, either. In Asia, governments are
putting in place measures to limit hoarding of rice after some shoppers
panicked at price increases and bought up everything they could. Even in
Thailand, which produces 10 million more tons of rice than it consumes and
is the world's largest rice exporter, supermarkets have placed signs limiting
the amount of rice shoppers are allowed to purchase. But there is also plenty
of nervousness and confusion about how best to proceed and just how bad
the impact may ultimately be, particularly as already strapped governments
struggle to keep up their food subsidies... "Why are these riots happening?"
asked Arif Husain, senior food security analyst at the World Food Program,
which has issued urgent appeals for donations. "The human instinct
is to survive, and people are going to do no matter what to survive. And
if you're hungry you get angry quicker." Leaders who ignore the rage
do so at their own risk. President René Préval of Haiti appeared to taunt
the populace as the chorus of complaints about la vie chère — the expensive
life — grew. He said if Haitians could afford cellphones, which many do
carry, they should be able to feed their families. "If there is a protest
against the rising prices," he said, "come get me at the palace
and I will demonstrate with you." When they came, filled with rage
and by the thousands, he huddled inside and his presidential guards, with
United Nations peacekeeping troops, rebuffed them. Within days, opposition
lawmakers had voted out Préval's prime minister, Jacques-Édouard Alexis,
forcing him to reconstitute his government. Fragile in even the best of
times, Haiti's population and politics are now both simmering. more...
This increased anger and frustration could also contribute to the peace being taken from the earth described in the second seal as well, hunger is a powerful force as is self-preservation. In places with a philosophy of "every man for himself" and "look out for number one," it could easily get ugly. And in America as economic woes increase, we could see an increase in crime as well.
France seeks more ambitious EU globalisation strategy EurActiv.com (April 17, 2008) - The EU's growth and jobs strategy needs to be supplemented by a global arm if Europe wants to remain competitive in the future, argues a new report for the French government , which could become official policy when the country assumes the EU Presidency on 1 July. Although the Lisbon Strategy is delivering initial results, the EU needs to "quicken the pace" and "adopt a global viewpoint" or it will be "out of the race by 2020", argued Laurent Cohen-Tanugi, the author of the report, in an interview with EurActiv France before the official presentation of the report to the government on 15 April. Admitting that the Lisbon Strategy has been "visionary" in giving Europe a "head start over the rest of the world," the author criticises its failure to achieve the intrinsic goal of reducing the competitiveness gap with the US. Now Europe even risks being overtaken in certain sectors by major emerging countries such as China, India or Brazil if it chooses to maintain the current status quo, argues Cohen-Tanugi. "Europe is once again behind in a world that is developing at unprecedented speed," he says, resulting from its failure to implement the promised reforms.
A new 'Lisbon Plus'?
The report calls for the Lisbon Strategy to be renamed "Lisbon Plus" and integrated into a broader "EuroWorld 2015 Strategy" which would produce a "more comprehensive strategy" than the Lisbon Agenda. While "Lisbon Plus" would become the EU's internal component of this "strategic vision", the second pillar would rely on common external policies, such as trade, agriculture or the internal market, to help shape globalisation, according to the report. "The importance given to external policies is intended to signal the start of a new phase in the history of European unification in which Europe is no longer centred on itself but on its relationship with the rest of the world," the author claims, highlighting a "genuine paradigm shift".
"Competitiveness through innovation"
The focus of Lisbon Plus should be on "competitiveness through innovation,"
the report suggests, linking the different economic, social and environmental
dimensions. Moreover, the author expresses his hope that the French Presidency
(to begin on 1 July) will stimulate the so-called "knowledge triangle"
(higher education, research and innovation), enhancing the value of Europe's
human capital and promoting a new "green economy". "The real
global challenge with which Europe is confronted is to stay in the race,
in terms of prosperity and international influence, in a world that is destined
to be dominated by an America/Asia duopoly," says Cohen-Tanugi. "It
is now up to the French EU Presidency to start carrying through this new
strategic vision," the report concludes.
Jet Streams Are Shifting And May Alter Paths Of Storms And Hurricanes
Science Daily (April
17, 2008) - The Earth's jet streams, the high-altitude bands of fast
winds that strongly influence the paths of storms and other weather systems,
are shifting--possibly in response to global warming. Scientists at the
Carnegie Institution determined that over a 23-year span from 1979 to 2001
the jet streams in both hemispheres have risen in altitude and shifted toward
the poles. The jet stream in the northern hemisphere has also weakened.
These changes fit the predictions of global warming models and have implications
for the frequency and intensity of future storms, including hurricanes.
Cristina Archer and Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution's Department
of Global Ecology tracked changes in the average position and strength of
jet streams using records compiled by the European Centre for Medium-Range
Weather Forecasts, the National Centers for Environmental Protection, and
the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The data included outputs
from weather prediction models, conventional observations from weather balloons
and surface instruments, and remote observations from satellites. Jet streams
twist and turn in a wide swath that changes from day to day. The poleward
shift in their average location discovered by the researchers is small,
about 19 kilometers (12 miles) per decade in the northern hemisphere, but
if the trend continues the impact could be significant. "The jet streams
are the driving factor for weather in half of the globe," says Archer. "So,
as you can imagine, changes in the jets have the potential to affect large
populations and major climate systems." Storm paths in North America
are likely to shift northward as a result of the jet stream changes. Hurricanes,
whose development tends to be inhibited by jet streams, may become more
powerful and more frequent as the jet streams move away from the sub-tropical
zones where hurricanes are born. The observed changes are consistent with
numerous other signals of global warming found in previous studies, such
as the widening of the tropical belt, the cooling of the stratosphere, and
the poleward shift of storm tracks. This is the first study to use observation-based
datasets to examine trends in all the jet stream parameters, however.
Earthquake Hits Aleutian Islands China View
(April 16, 2008) - An earthquake measuring
6.5 on the Richter scale hit Aleutian Islands at 02:04 p.m. local time (
0604 GMT) on Wednesday, according to a bulletin released by the Hong Kong
Observatory. The epicenter was initially determined to be 52.0 degrees north
latitude and 179.1 degrees east longitude, about 870 km west of Unalaska
Island, Alaska of the United States.
Berlusconi "wants more EU influence"
Reuters (April 16,
2008) - Italian prime minister-elect Silvio Berlusconi said on Wednesday
he would help the EU regain the influence he said it had lost since he was
last in power and called for the European Central Bank's mandate to be broadened.
Speaking on one of his own television channels after winning Italy's April
13-14 election, Berlusconi said the EU needed a "top leadership
squad" to make it count in the world. "There is a need to
reconstruct a Europe that has a leading role in the Western world that can
tackle with determination the problems facing the world," said the
71-year-old conservative media mogul, who is expected to take office next
month. In later comments that could anger some of Italy's European Union
partners, for whom ECB independence is sacrosanct, Berlusconi said its mandate
should be widened beyond keeping inflation in check. He did not specify
what he meant, but in the past he has urged the central bank to support
economic growth. Rules set out in the 1992 Maastricht Treaty give the ECB
the power to pursue its primary goal of maintaining price stability free
of political influence. "I believe the ECB's functions need to be widened
beyond the power to control inflation," Berlusconi told a news conference.
Italy's third-richest man and owner of AC Milan soccer club, Berlusconi
said during the election campaign he wanted to "intervene" with
the ECB and would discuss it with EU leaders such as France's Nicolas Sarkozy
and Germany's Angela Merkel. Sarkozy has repeatedly called for action to
curb the sharp rise in the value of the euro, while Germany has vigorously
defended the ECB's independence from politicians. Berlusconi often blames
the euro for the underperformance of Italy's economy, echoing the opinion
of many Italians who say their spending power has waned since they gave
up the lira. Exporters complain the strong euro makes them less competitive.
Berlusconi's victory had been expected to deal a final blow to the sale
of loss-making Alitalia to Air France-KLM, which has been blocked by unions.
Berlusconi wants a home-grown rescue, but has left the door open to the
foreign bid if Alitalia is given equal footing in any future international
airline group. more...
Putin in Libya to close $2.5b arms deal The
Jerusalem Post (April 16, 2008) - Only
few weeks before he leaves office, Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived
in Libya on Wednesday for a two-day visit likely to be dominated by discussions
on energy cooperation, arms deals and debt negotiations. Putin's visit may
bring closure to several large arms deals totaling $2.5 billion, which are
aimed at bolstering Libya's aging weapons arsenal, Russian media outlets
reported. The deals will include anti-aircraft systems, MiG and Sukhoi aircraft,
helicopters, submarines and warships, the Russian news agency Interfax said. "The
media are always interested in arms deals… but the main issue for Russia
will be Libya as a trading partner, which is something that almost every
country in the world is interested in, because Libya, with a high oil price,
has a lot of money to spend," Oliver Miles, a former British ambassador
to Libya, and currently deputy chairman of the Libyan British Business Council,
told The Media Line. Last week, the state-run Russian gas company, Gazprom,
revealed it was negotiating with its Italian partner, Eni, about a potential
asset swap involving projects in Libya. The heads of the two companies have
met with Putin recently, although the content of their discussions has not
been fully disclosed. International competition over foreign investments
in Libya has been heightened as a result of the country's recent moves to
open up. "There are many things that we in Britain, for example, or
the French, or other exporting countries, would wish to sell to the Libyans,
and naturally we see the Russians as competitors," Miles said. Regarding
the military aircraft deal, Miles explained there was direct competition
between France and Russia, which are "probably the most likely suppliers
of military aircraft to Libya." The former ambassador explained that
a French-Libyan deal for the purchase of military aircraft was considered
a done deal at the time of French President Nicolas Sarkozy's recent visit
to Libya. more...
government embarrassed by leaked EU treaty email
EU Observer (April
15, 2008) - German chancellor Angela Merkel has called on Irish voters
to back the EU treaty on the same day that the Irish government was embarrassed
by a leaked email outlining what a UK diplomat says is Dublin's strategy
for holding and winning a referendum. In a state visit to Ireland, the only
country to hold a public poll on the treaty, Ms Merkel on Monday (14 April),
said "To my mind, the Lisbon treaty offers the best preparation for
Europe's future." "To the sceptics, I can only say that if everything
remains as it is now, your concerns will definitely not be better addressed,"
she told the National Forum on Europe. Ms Merkel also reassured Ireland,
as a small country, that it will have an equal seat at the EU table noting
that the new majority voting system in the treaty "is actually more
of a problem for the bigger states." During her visit the Irish government
was forced to contend with a story in the Irish Daily Mail which gives details
of an email sent by a British official based in Dublin after a briefing
by a civil servant in the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs. According
to the article, the email says that the Irish government had ruled out having
a referendum in October although it would have been better procedurally
because they were concerned about "unhelpful developments during the
French presidency – particularly related to EU defence." The email
noted that French president Sarkozy was considered "completely unpredictable."
The defence issue is extremely sensitive in neutral Ireland. Irish voters
rejected the EU's Nice Treaty in 2000 largely on the back of a heated debate
about neutrality and European defence issues. The email also alluded to
what has been quietly admitted in Brussels since the beginning of the year
– that much of EU politics has been put on hold until after the Irish referendum,
scheduled to take place on 12 June. It said that EU communications commissioner
Margot Wallstrom had reassured foreign minister Dermot Ahern during a visit
to Dublin earlier this Spring that the "commission was willing to tone
down or delay messages that might be unhelpful." Reacting to the
article, prime minister Bertie Ahern denied there had been any strategy
on Brussels' part. "On the article today, of course officials from
Foreign Affairs, and my department as well, meet our European colleagues
on a very regular basis, but the suggestion that Europe will somehow deliberately
change announcements ahead of the referendum is without any foundation,"
he said, according to the Irish Times. The leaked email – which was not
reproduced in full in the newspaper article – has been seized upon by 'no'
campaigners. Declan Ganley, chair of anti-treaty organisation Libertas,
said that the most damning part of the email "was the admission
that the Government hoped that very few people would actually read the text
of the Treaty, and would simply vote with the politicians they trust."
The revelation also came on the same day that a new poll showed that
the treaty remains an enigma to most Irish voters. Some 65 percent of
the 1001 people surveyed by the Irish Sun said they had very little or no
understanding of the treaty, 28 percent claimed to have some understanding
while 6 percent said they fully understood it. Meanwhile, 60 percent do
not know how they will vote on the treaty while 28 percent said they were
planning to vote in favour and 12 percent against. But the same poll also
confirmed what has regularly been shown by EU-wide surveys – that Irish
voters are the most positive about effects of the European Union. Some 89
percent surveyed said membership of the bloc had been good for the country.
Europe or Eurabia? Daniel Pipes (April 15, 2008) - The future of Europe is in play. Will it turn into "Eurabia," a part of the Muslim world? Will it remain the distinct cultural unit it has been over the last millennium? Or might there be some creative synthesis of the two civilizations? The answer has vast importance. Europe may constitute a mere 7 percent of the world's landmass but for five hundred years, 1450-1950, for good and ill, it was the global engine of change. How it develops in the future will affect all humanity, and especially daughter countries such as Australia which still retain close and important ties to the old continent. I foresee potentially one of three paths for Europe: Muslims dominating, Muslims rejected, or harmonious integration.
(1) Muslim domination strikes some analysts as inevitable. Oriana Fallaci found that "Europe becomes more and more a province of Islam, a colony of Islam." Mark Steyn argues that much of the Western world "will not survive the twenty-first century, and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many if not most European countries." Such authors point to three factors leading to Europe's Islamization: faith, demography, and a sense of heritage. The secularism that predominates in Europe, especially among its elites, leads to alienation about the Judeo-Christian tradition, empty church pews, and a fascination with Islam. In complete contrast, Muslims display a religious fervor that translates into jihadi sensibility, a supremacism toward non-Muslims, and an expectation that Europe is waiting for conversion to Islam. The contrast in faith also has demographic implications, with Christians having on average 1.4 children per woman, or about one third less than the number needed to maintain their population, and Muslims enjoying a dramatically higher, if falling, fertility rate. Amsterdam and Rotterdam are expected to be in about 2015 the first large majority-Muslim cities. Russia could become a Muslim-majority country in 2050. To employ enough workers to fund existing pension plans, Europe needs millions of immigrants and these tend to be disproportionately Muslim due to reasons of proximity, colonial ties, and the turmoil in majority-Muslim countries. In addition, many Europeans no longer cherish their history, mores, and customs. Guilt about fascism, racism, and imperialism leave many with a sense that their own culture has less value than that of immigrants. Such self-disdain has direct implications for Muslim immigrants, for if Europeans shun their own ways, why should immigrants adopt them? When added to the already-existing Muslim hesitations over much that is Western, and especially what concerns sexuality, the result are Muslim populations that strongly resist assimilation. The logic of this first path leads to Europe ultimately becoming an extension of North Africa.
(2) But the first path is not inevitable. Indigenous Europeans could resist it and as they make up 95 percent of the continent's population, they can at any time reassert control, should they see Muslims posing a threat to a valued way of life. This impulse can already be seen at work in the French anti-hijab legislation or in Geert Wilders' film, Fitna. Anti-immigrant parties gain in strength; a potential nativist movement is taking shape across Europe, as political parties opposed to immigration focus increasingly on Islam and Muslims. These parties include the British National Party, Belgium's Vlaamse Belang, France's Front National, the Austrian Freedom Party, the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, the Danish People's Party, and the Swedish Democrats. They will likely continue to grow as immigration surges ever higher, with mainstream parties paying and expropriating their anti-Islamic message. Should nationalist parties gain power, they will likely seek to reject multiculturalism, cut back on immigration, encourage repatriation of immigrants, support Christian institutions, increase indigenous European birthrates, and broadly attempt to re-establish traditional ways. Muslim alarm will likely follow. American author Ralph Peters sketches a scenario in which "U.S. Navy ships are at anchor and U.S. Marines have gone ashore at Brest, Bremerhaven or Bari to guarantee the safe evacuation of Europe's Muslims." Peters concludes that because of European's "ineradicable viciousness," its Muslims "are living on borrowed time" As Europeans have "perfected genocide and ethnic cleansing," Muslims, he predicts, "will be lucky just to be deported," rather than killed. Indeed, Muslims worry about just such a fate; since the 1980s, they have spoken overtly about Muslims being sent to gas chambers. Violence by indigenous Europeans cannot be precluded but nationalist efforts will more likely take place less violently; if any one is likely to initiate violence, it is the Muslims. They have already engaged in many acts of violence and seem to be spoiling for more. Surveys indicate, for instance, that about 5 percent of British Muslims endorse the 7/7 transport bombings. In brief, a European reassertion will likely lead to on-going civil strife, perhaps a more lethal version of the fall 2005 riots in France.
(3) The ideal outcome has indigenous Europeans and immigrant Muslims
finding a way to live together harmoniously and create a new synthesis.
A 1991 study, La France, une chance pour l'Islam (France, an Opportunity
for Islam) by
Jeanne-Hélène Kaltenbach and Pierre Patrick Kaltenbach promoted this
idealistic approach. Despite all, this optimism remains the conventional
wisdom, as suggested by an
Economist leader of 2006 that concluded that dismissed for the moment
at least, the prospect of Eurabia as "scaremongering." This is
the view of most politicians, journalists, and academics but it has little
basis in reality. Yes indigenous Europeans could yet rediscover their Christian
faith, make more babies, and again cherish their heritage. Yes, they could
encourage non-Muslim immigration and acculturate Muslims already living
in Europe. Yes, Muslim could accept historic Europe. But not only are such
developments not now underway, their prospects are dim. In particular, young
Muslims are cultivating grievances and nursing ambitions at odds with their
neighbors. One can virtually dismiss from consideration the prospect of
Muslims accepting historic Europe and integrating within it. U.S. columnist
Dennis Prager agrees: "It is difficult to imagine any other future
scenario for Western Europe than its becoming Islamicized or having a civil
war." But which of those two remaining paths will the continent take?
Forecasting is difficult because crisis has not yet struck. But it may not
be far off. Within a decade perhaps, the continent's evolution will become
clear as the Europe-Muslim relationship takes shape. The unprecedented nature
of Europe's situation also renders a forecast exceedingly difficult. Never
in history has a major civilization peaceably dissolved, nor has a people
ever risen to reclaim its patrimony. Europe's unique circumstances make
them difficult to comprehend, tempting to overlook, and virtually impossible
to predict. With Europe, we all enter into terra incognita.
In my study of Bible prophecy, the possibility that the false prophet of Revelation 13 is the Islamic 12th Mahdi has come to light. According to scripture, the false prophet directs worship to the man of sin, commonly known as the antichrist, and has power to call fire from heaven among other things. With these signs and wonders, many people will be deceived into following these two who are given power by the dragon, Satan. The fact that those who refuse to worship the beast are beheaded, that Islam is spreading throughout the world and that the religious leaders have much sway over the Islamic populations, all lead me to conclude this is certainly a possibility even though it may seem far-fetched at the current time. I believe both Islam and Judaism have dramatic changes coming in perceptions that could make many impossible things possible. Time will tell, keep watching!
Putin accepts leadership of party Associated
Press (April 15, 2008) - Vladimir Putin
agreed Tuesday to take command of the United Russia Party when he steps
down as president, enhancing the power he will wield as prime minister and
bolstering his platform for a potential return to the Kremlin. At a party
congress that mixed promises of a bright future with traditions from the
communist era, more than 550 delegates unanimously approved Putin as chairman
of Russia's most powerful political faction. Speaking just three weeks before
he will cede the presidency to his hand-picked successor, Dmitry Medvedev,
Putin said the move would help ensure that Russia's political bosses and
bureaucrats functioned as a "single organism" for the good of
the people. "Today even more than before, we need the consolidation
of political forces and the spiritual unity of our people," he told
the congress in an exhibition center off Red Square. Putin cast the move
as a step toward European-style democracy, saying that for the head of a
party to be prime minister is "a civilized, natural, traditional practice
for democratic states." But the analogy was not precise because in
Russia, the prime minister is appointed by the president, unlike the European
parliamentary democracy system in which the chairman of the leading party
is generally chosen as premier. Critics dismissed Putin's argument as a
bid to lend legitimacy to a process engineered from the top down, saying
it was more like a step backward toward Soviet times, when the Communist
Party had no rival and its chief was the supreme leader. Some analysts called
Putin's decision the strategic maneuver of a control-minded leader determined
to head off potential challenges, and said it would undermine Medvedev by
boosting the authority of Putin and parliament. In terms of imagery, Putin
eclipsed Medvedev at the congress, staying firmly in the spotlight in his
final weeks of an eight-year presidency marked by carefully choreographed
events that have helped enhance his popularity. In less than an hour, Tuesday's
proceedings capped a year of maneuvering by Putin to maintain power after
he leaves the presidency. Constitutionally barred from seeking a third straight
term, he anointed Medvedev as his favored successor and announced he would
become prime minister. Putin has promised not to shift any presidential
powers to the prime minister, who is a distant No. 2 under the constitution.
But he has made no secret of his plans to use the State Duma, or lower house
of parliament, to ensure that his will is carried out. more...
Iran: We'll 'eliminate Israel' if it launches attack
The Jerusalem Post
(April 15, 2008) - Iran will eliminate Israel
if it attacks the Islamic Republic, Iran's deputy army chief warned Tuesday
in words conjuring up Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's threats to
wipe Israel off the map. "Should Israel take any action against Iran,
we will eliminate Israel from the scene of the universe," Gen. Muhammad
Reza Ashtiani said in Teheran on Tuesday. Ashtiani's statement followed
Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer's comment last week warning
Iran that any attack on Israel would result in the "destruction of
the Iranian nation." Ashtiani claimed Israel was "very vulnerable"
and dismissed allegations that Iran was worried about Israeli maneuvers. "Due
to its special conditions, Israel is very vulnerable in the region,"
he said. "The aggressors will face a crushing response." Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert's spokesman Mark Regev responded by saying "these
hateful and extreme statements from the Iranian leadership are unfortunately
routine. The sad reality is that these statements expose the mind set and
political agenda of the leadership in Teheran. Unfortunately these hateful
words are backed up by very dangerous actions." Foreign Ministry spokesman
Aryeh Mekel said that these comments illustrate the need for the international
community to "work with more determination" and take steps to
keep Iran, which is threatening to destroy another UN member state, from
obtaining nuclear weapons. more...
I believe Iran will follow through on this threat. However, I also believe God will follow through with His promised intervention when it takes place as well.
Reshaping the International Financial Order Reshaping the International Order Part 2 Knowledge Driven Revolution (April 14, 2008)
The Club of Rome is a premiere think tank composed of approximately 100 members including leading scientists, philosophers, political advisors, former politicians and many other influential bureaucrats and technocrats. This series of articles describes the major conclusions of the 1976 book Rio: Reshaping the International Order: A Report to the Club of Rome  coordinated by Nobel Laureate Jan Tinbergen. The RIO report "addresses the following question: what new international order should be recommended to the world's statesmen and social groups so as to meet, to the extent practically and realistically possible, the urgent needs of today's population and the probable needs of future generations?" Part 1 of this series gives an overview of the proposed new international order described by the RIO report as "humanistic socialism". This includes: collective neighbourhood armies, a fully planned world economy, global free trade, public international enterprises, proposed changes in consumption patterns among other topics. Below is a summary of some of the changes to the financial system proposed by The Club of Rome.
Creation of a World Reserve Currency From RIO: Reshaping the International Order: [Italicised text is original emphasis and bolded text is added by author.]
Some tricks never seem to get old. Prevention of "alternate cycles of inflation, stagflation and depression" is exactly the same hogwash used to sell the Federal Reserve Act to the Americans in 1913. How well did that work?
Creation of a World Treasury and Global Taxation
Some Techniques of Implementation
One implementation technique requires the use of "pioneering" countries to voluntarily submit to international taxation and their new monetary order.
Another technique of implementation requires the use of organizations like OPEC to collect international taxes on behalf of the world community.
One World Currency
The Club of Rome is currently working on a project entitled
Monetary Simplification Euro/Dollar: Towards a Global Currency headed
by Ramon Tamames. more...
EU defends biofuel goals amid food crises AFP
(April 14, 2008) - The EU Commission on Monday
rejected claims that producing biofuels is a "crime against humanity"
that threatens food supplies, and vowed to stick to its goals as part of
a climate change package. "There is no question for now of suspending
the target fixed for biofuels," said Barbara Helfferich, spokeswoman
for EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas. "You can't change a
political objective without risking a debate on all the other objectives,"
which could see the EU landmark climate change and energy package disintegrate,
an EU official said. Their comments came amid growing unease over the planting
of biofuel crops as food prices rocket and riots against poverty and hunger
multiply worldwide. UN Special Rapporteur for the Right to Food Jean Ziegler
told German radio Monday that the production of biofuels is "a crime
against humanity" because of its impact on global food prices. EU leaders,
seeking to show the way on global warming, have pledged to reduce carbon
dioxide emissions by 20 percent by 2020. As part of a package of measures
the 27 member states have set a target of biofuels making up 10 percent
of automobile fuel by the same year. "We don't have an enormous danger
of too much of a shift from food production to biofuels production,"
said Michael Mann, spokesman for EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer
Boel. Mann, like Helfferich speaking to reporters in Brussels, stressed
that the 10 percent target would in part be achieved through higher yields
and increased production. Ziegler also accused the European Union of subsidising
its agriculture exports with effect of undermining production in Africa. "The
EU finances the exports of European agricultural surpluses to Africa ...
where they are offered at one half or one third of their (production) price,"
the UN official charged. "That completely ruins African agriculture,"
he added. In recent months, rising food costs have sparked violent protests
in Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Haiti, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Madagascar,
Mauritania, the Philippines and other countries. In Pakistan and Thailand,
troops have been deployed to avoid the seizure of food from fields and warehouses,
while price increases fuelled a general strike in Burkina Faso. The European
Environment Agency, advisors to the European Commission, on Friday recommended
that the EU suspend its 10 percent biofuels target. more...
I can't say with 100% certainty that the food crisis and the bio-fuel (oil) issue is what the third seal is talking about, but it seems to fit with what Bible scholars have thought it was talking about with the addition now of bio-fuels being "not hurting the oil." Time will tell, keep watching!
Mobilising People and Actions for War A Time, Times, And Half A Time (April 13, 2008) - This article is the second of a three part series which compares the legal and cultural changes being made by today’s global government to those made by the Nazis. Part I, Ghost of Nazi Past, Ghost of Nazi Present focused on cultural, media, parliamentary, and judicial manipulations while this part focuses on science, religion, religious education, and spiritual mobilization. The format of this post is as follows: texts in bold font are citations from Richard Evans’ book The Third Reich in Power. Italicized texts that follow Evens’ citations are quotations from global governance actors along with some of my commentary. Writing of the hostilities between the Nazis and the Catholic Church, Evans explains “…the German government repeatedly told the Vatican that its fight against Marxism and Communism demanded the unity of the German people through the ending of confessional divisions.” (pg. 241) Today, we see the identical argument being advanced by the Alliance of Civilizations, the World Commission on Global Consciousness & Spirituality, et al. In the interest of combating extremism and terrorism we are told a global code of conduct which embraces only common spiritual and political ideologies must be adopted. Contributors to this code of conduct are groups such as the World Commission on Global Consciousness & Spirituality which will “activate” the evolutionary process of global consciousness; the Alliance of Civilizations which is currently developing guidelines for how religions must interpret scripture; Religions for Peace which is advancing A Common Word, an initiative designed to undermine religious doctrines and hijack religion; etc. Orchestrated efforts to incite violence against those who refuse to set aside their doctrines—particularly against the monotheistic faiths – have intensified on multiple fronts. Evans writes “Nazism imbued the German language with the metaphors of battle: the battle for jobs, the struggle for existence, the fight for culture…The language itself began to be mobilized for war.” (pg. 214) We are in this same place today. Christians who dare voice an unpopular opinion are accused of having a violent ethos. The existence of the new civilization is threatened if the egocentric are permitted to continue with their “defective disconnection”. It is, as they say, a fight for civilization. Setting the stage for the new religious ethos is Karen Armstrong, Alliance of Civilizations High Level Group member. **Video at link** See use doctrine. The full version of the Karen Armstrong presentation can be found here.
One criticism consistently launched against the adherents of the Abrahamic
faiths’ is that the doctrines cannot be scientifically proven and the faithful
have abandoned rational scientific inquiry. Yet many of the same critics
who claim superiority have no problem advancing unproven occult doctrines
such as notions of a “planetary spiritual hierarchy”; the existence of the
Aryans and Atlantis; evolutionary advancement through Luciferic initiations;
Here the comparisons I draw are between the Third Reich’s attempts to
control Christianity and the global government’s plans to control the three
monotheistic faiths. The below World Commission citations that refer to
the egocentric mind refer to individuals who believe their religious texts
to be true and are not prepared to abandon their convictions for a new revelation.
The egocentric mind also pertains to political dissenters of the globalization
“Remoulding the educational system would create a new generation of young Germans who had known no alternative source of values to Nazism. Yet there was of course one area in which such values did persist…That was religion. For reasons of political expediency and caution, the Third Reich had stopped short in 1933 of attacking the Churches and their dependent secular institutions. As it became more self-confident, however, it began to turn its attention to Christianity too, and to seek a means of either converting it to a form more suitable to the new Germany, or, if that did not work, of doing away with it altogether.” Pg 218
“Nazis now launched a sustained campaign to close denominational schools and replace them with non-religious ‘community schools’…Parents were forced to sign prepared statements declaring that they ‘did not want the education of my child at school to be misused by stirring up religious unrest’ Pg 246
“By the summer of 1939, all denominational schools in Germany had been turned into community schools, and all private schools run by the Churches had been closed down or nationalized…By 1939 religious instruction in vocational schools had been reduced to half an hour a week, and in many areas it had to follow guidelines…Parents who objected to these moves…were obliged by the local authorities to withdraw their objection, summoned to special meetings at the school to pressure them to sign their children up for ideological instruction instead of religious education…” pgs 246-247
“The German Christian’s attempt to create a synthesis between German Protestantism and Nazi racism had effectively collapsed…Hitler reluctantly abandoned his ambition of convereting it into the official state Church of the Third Reich. Instead, he ordered the creation of a new Ministry for Church Affairs, established in July 1935 under the 48-year-old Hanns Kerrl…The new Ministry was given wide-ranging powers, which Kerrl did not hesitate to deploy in order to bring refractory pastors to heel…Pastors were banned from preaching, or had their pay stopped. They were forbidden to teach in schools. All theological students were ordered to join Nazi organizations.” Pg 230
Such measures are most likely to succeed if supported by religious education that is based upon a sound interpretation of religious teachings. – Alliance of Civilizations High Level Group
“Education as we understand it here makes it possible to view with
equanimity the completion of the process of secularisation, first of structures,
then of society itself, as just one of several possible reflections of a
modern way of life. School should give children a clearer understanding
of the psychosocial, cultural and sometimes political functions of religion.
This sort of approach would undoubtedly help to sharpen and challenge their
critical faculties and combat the wilder excesses of particularism. This
has fundamental consequences for the educational system, particularly as
regards the teaching of religious education. Who should teach religion?
Who can make a valid comparison between the different doctrinal elements
of religions? We must beware of confusion here. A clear distinction needs
to be drawn between religious education in the sense understood by adherents
of a faith, which consists of transmitting the values, teachings and liturgy
of their religion with a view to the proper practice of that religion (e.g.
the Catholic catechism), and the teaching of comparative religion which
aims only to instil knowledge about religion and the history of religion.
Only the latter forms one of the bases of learning for the intercultural
dialogue through education. Religious education of the first kind is perfectly
legitimate, but is not relevant to the objective under discussion. Comparative
religion should therefore be taught by professional teachers capable of
providing a comparative analysis of religions, regardless of their own religious
choice, with the objectivity of an expert, not the passion of a devotee.
This is an essential choice that will determine the success of the dialogue
through education. The difficulty of the exercise lies in integrating religion,
which is such a sensitive issue in the Euro-Mediterranean area, into the
field of education, taking into account its irreducibility and its mission
to provide absolute truth, but without altering the educational philosophy
of mutual knowledge based on curiosity, self-respect and openness to the
- Dialogue Between Peoples and Cultures in the Euro-Mediterranean Area
It's a little easier to see the repetition of the New Age ideology and how the use of governments to harmonize belief will lead to a persecution of those that refuse to conform to it.
Unusual earthquakes measured off Oregon Associated
Press (April 12, 2008) - Scientists
listening to underwater microphones have detected an unusual swarm of earthquakes
off central Oregon, something that often happens before a volcanic eruption
— except there are no volcanoes in the area. Scientists don't know exactly
what the earthquakes mean, but they could be the result of molten rock rumbling
away from the recognized earthquake faults off Oregon, said Robert Dziak,
a geophysicist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and
Oregon State University. There have been more than 600 quakes over the past
10 days in a basin 150 miles southwest of Newport. The biggest was magnitude
5.4, and two others were more than magnitude 5.0, OSU reported. On the hydrophones,
the quakes sound like low thunder and are unlike anything scientists have
heard in 17 years of listening, Dziak said. Some of the quakes have also
been detected by earthquake instruments on land. The hydrophones are left
over from a network the Navy used to listen for submarines during the Cold
War. They routinely detect passing ships, earthquakes on the ocean bottom
and whales calling to one another. Scientists hope to send out an OSU research
ship to take water samples, looking for evidence that sediment has been
stirred up and chemicals that would indicate magma is moving up through
the Juan de Fuca Plate, Dziak said. The quakes have not followed the typical
pattern of a major shock followed by a series of diminishing aftershocks,
and few have been strong enough to be felt on shore. The Earth's crust is
made up of plates that rest on molten rock, which are rubbing together.
When the molten rock, or magma, erupts through the crust, it creates volcanoes.
That can happen in the middle of a plate. When the plates lurch against
each other, they create earthquakes along the edges. In this case, the Juan
de Fuca Plate is a small piece of crust being crushed between the Pacific
Plate and North America, Dziak said.
EU: Europe Needs More Say in World Economy Talks As Strong Euro Gains Ground
(April 11, 2008) - The European Union's top economy official has
said that Europe deserved a greater say in the global economy as the strong
euro gains ground as the world's second major currency. EU Economic and
Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said Friday that the rest
of the world now sees the euro currency zone as "a pole of stability"
and the currency had the potential to become even more important. The
euro is now second to the weak U.S. dollar as a reserve currency held by
foreign investors and has risen sharply against the dollar in recent months,
hitting a new all-time high of $1.5912 on Thursday. Almunia said the
euro area is now "playing an increasingly important role in supporting
the stability of the world economy and the global financial system." "Non-EU
countries increasingly perceive the euro area and the EU as a whole as a
pole of stability, a source of new capital, and also a source of advice
and expertise on regulatory approaches," he said in a speech to the
Petersen Institute in Washington D.C. His prepared remarks were distributed
ahead of time by his Brussels office. The EU official called for the 15
euro nations to share a single seat when world leaders meet to discuss the
economy at the International Monetary Fund or the G-7 group of top seven
industrialized nations. In the G-7, this would come at the expense of euro
users Germany, France and Italy which now represent themselves at these
talks. The euro's greater role carried some risks, he warned, because it
increased the region's exposure to shocks from other parts of the world
and "disruptive portfolio shifts" between major currencies. "It
is precisely such shocks that are likely to occur more frequently in a world
characterized by financial and economic globalization," he said. He
again signaled worry about the U.S.' huge current account deficit, saying
a sudden "unwinding" could hit Europe hard, since its currency
is still appreciating against the dollar. The euro now makes up 26 percent
of foreign exchange reserves and is the second most actively traded currency
after the U.S. dollar on global foreign exchange markets. Euro-dollar trades
are the most popular foreign exchange deals, accounting for more than a
quarter of global turnover.
“Be not overcome
of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21
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