October 16, 2010

The Week in Review

October 15, 2010 | From theTrumpet.com

The Mubaraks’ predicament, Lebanon’s guest of honor, which Europeans are working and which aren’t, who just bought a chunk of an OKC energy company, and the homosexual tipping point. 

Middle East 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered on Monday to extend a partial freeze on Jewish building in the West Bank in exchange for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. The proposal was rejected out of hand by the Palestinian Authority right after it was made public. The latest round of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians is already foundering. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has threatened to withdraw from the talks if Israel’s construction freeze, which expired at the end of last month, is not renewed. Meanwhile, Palestinian officials suggested placing the West Bank under international trusteeship if the peace talks fail. History shows that the most robust efforts to move the peace process forward stir up the worst violence in the region. 

Reports indicate that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s succession plan to transfer power to his son Gamal may have hit a snag. Stratfor sources in Egypt say that the plan was for Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman to assume the vice presidency in the near future and then to become an interim president for at least a year before transferring power to Gamal Mubarak. The National Democratic Party would arrange for such electoral results. Earlier this month, however, the Egyptian foreign minister, who is closely involved with the succession planning, told Al-Hayat newspaper that Mubarak would likely be reelected for another term in next year’s elections. According to Stratfor, the change in plan is likely a result of growing opposition within the armed forces to a Gamal presidency. The commander in chief of the Egyptian armed forces has reportedly told the president that the Egyptian military is opposed to Gamal’s bid to run for president. While it appears the military may be increasing its influence in Egypt, its failure to support Mubarak’s succession plan may open the door for more radical influences within Egypt to gain the upper hand. End-time prophecy indicates that Egypt will at some point fall to Islamists. 

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Lebanon this week on a trip that highlighted the growing power of Iran’s ally and proxy Hezbollah. He received an enthusiastic welcome in Beirut on Wednesday, with thousands crowding the streets to support him. On Thursday, the Iranian president toured a Hezbollah stronghold in southern Lebanon and gave a speech predicting the demise of Israel. Fares Souaid, the coordinator of Lebanon’s ruling March 14 coalition, had criticized the trip. “Ahmadinejad, through this visit, is saying that Beirut is under Iranian influence and that Lebanon is an Iranian base on the Mediterranean,” he said. “The message is that Iran is at the border with Israel.” At a press conference on Wednesday with his Lebanese counterpart, Michel Suleiman, the Iranian president said, “We fully support the resistance of the Lebanese people against the Zionist regime and we want full liberation of occupied territory in Lebanon, Syria and Palestine.” The two leaders signed a number of agreements in the areas of health, tourism, energy and water, among others. Ahead of the official two-day visit, the Iranian leader’s first state visit to the country, Ahmadinejad described Lebanon as a key base of resistance in the region. “Lebanon is the focus point of resistance and standing against those who demand too much,” he was quoted as saying on the state television’s website. Lebanon ignored Israel’s pleas not to host the trip. Ahmadinejad’s visit is being seen as a massive boost for Hezbollah. 


Once again Europe has been hit by a series of workers’ strikes. And once again, France has been hit hard, with strikes beginning on October 12. Refinery workers and even students have joined the protests against the French government’s plan to raise the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62, and the age at which the French can receive their full pension from 65 to 67. Eleven out of France’s 12 refineries are not sending gas to service stations. France could face shortages by the middle of next week, according to the French oil industry association. On October 13, protesters blocked off the entrance to the Acropolis in Greece. They claim they are owed two years of back pay, and that they will lose their jobs at the end of the month. 

Romanian tax employees also went on strike from October 13 to 14. They ended the strike after the Finance Ministry gave in to their demands to reinstate a system of bonuses. The system had been removed as an austerity measure. The economic crisis is putting great social pressures on the societies of Europe. 
Meanwhile, Germany’s economy is still doing well. Unemployment fell for the 15th consecutive month in September. It now sits at 7.2 percent, down from 7.6 percent in August. bmw said that its sales were up 16.8 percent. Daimler said its sales had risen by 12.6 percent and Audi reported a 16 percent gain. Germany’s export-oriented economy continues to be robust. 

German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg is the best hope for conservatives, Philipp Missfelder, head of the Christian Democrats youth wing, said ahead of the youth organization’s annual conference this weekend. Guttenberg was the “best political guarantee of survival for the union and defense against the Green zeitgeist,” he said. “Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, with his great credibility, appeals to many non-voters and former voters, so that in a very short time he has become an indispensable bearer of hope.” Continue to watch Guttenberg. 

Portugal and Germany were both voted temporary members of the United Nations Security Council on October 12. They will hold their seats, which do not have veto power, for two years. This will give these two nations a little more say on international affairs. 

The Netherlands’ first minority coalition since World War ii was official sworn into government on October 14. For the first time since 1918, the leader of the Party for Freedom and Democracy (vvd) became the nation’s prime minister. The vvd allied with the Christian Democratic Appeal. It also struck an agreement with Geert Wilders’s Party for Freedom (pvv) whereby the pvv will support the coalition in key votes in return for having a say in the formation of national policy. The rise of anti-Islam politicians such as Wilders shows how much anti-Islam tendencies are building in Europe. Continuing this trend, the far-right Freedom Party of Austria gained 27 percent of the vote in mayoral elections in Vienna on October 10. 

Also continuing the trend, the French constitutional court ruled October 8 that the nation’s burkaban does not violate the nation’s constitution or civil liberties. Many expected the court to overturn the law. The only limitation it did make was that the law could not apply to places of worship. 


Chinese state-run oil giant Cnooc has agreed to pay $2.16 billion for a third share of 600,000 acres of Texas oil and gas fields, marking the largest ever Chinese purchase of United States energy assets. The agreement grants China a foothold in the booming U.S. energy market and will also equip it with American know-how about tapping deposits captured in dense shale rock formations. The deal, which will give the state-owned Chinese energy giant 33.3 percent ownership of Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy assets, also allows China to test the political waters for further expansion into U.S. energy reserves. The properties have an estimated potential production of up to half a million barrels a day of oil equivalent. The International Energy Agency estimates that China is home to 26 trillion cubic meters of shale gas reserves, which the country has not yet tapped because of a lack of drilling know-how. The knowledge and technology China will acquire in the Chesapeake Energy deal will likely allow it to exploit these domestic reserves. The agreement is latest in a series of similar deals by China around the globe. Beijing’s outward foreign direct investment will intensify as its campaign to fuel China’s booming economy marches on. 

After Kyrgyzstan’s October 10 parliamentary elections, five political parties have opened discussions about forming a coalition government. Several Russia-backed parties, like the staunchly nationalist Ata-Zhurt, campaigned on closing the American Manas military base near the nation’s capital of Bishkek, which is a crucial hub for the military efforts in Afghanistan. Some Kyrgyz politicians said the Manas base violates agreements with Russia, which also has a strategic base in Kyrgyzstan and is growing more powerful in the region. Last year, under pressure from Moscow, Kyrgyzstan’s parliament voted to close the base, but then settled for quadrupling the U.S.’s rent payment, bringing the annual fee up to $60 million. Russia, which views Kyrgyzstan as a part of its sphere of influence, is increasingly uncomfortable with the U.S. presence in the country and will likely exploit Kyrgyzstan’s shaky situation to get the U.S. ousted from the region. Lease negotiations between Washington and Bishkek are to resume in the spring. 

Africa/Latin America 

The falling U.S. dollar is impacting South Africa. Over the past year, the greenback has fallen an astounding 39 percent against the rand. Central bank and government officials are studying ways to prevent further appreciation against the U.S. currency. Already the central bank has indebted itself to the tune of $1 billion fighting a losing battle against the dollar. During 2009, South Africa suffered its first recession in 17 years and officials are blaming the strong rand for its dismal economic recovery. 

While South Africa stagnates, other emerging-market economies in Asia and South America have been barely affected by the “global” economic slowdown. In Brazil, for example, the economy is booming at a 7.55 percent growth rate and unemployment is at a record low of 6.7 percent. In Argentina, the latest numbers show the economy is growing at an 8.1 percent rate. Peru’s growth rate is at 8.3 percent and Paraguay 9 percent. The contrast to America’s miniscule 1.7 percent illustrates just how bad things are in the U.S. 

One exception to the rule is Venezuela, which according to Reuters is suffering from 30 percent inflation and food shortages. President Hugo Chávez says the people are better off under his regime than they would be otherwise and is pushing ahead with his controversial nationalization program. Over the past few weeks, Chávez has order the seizure of a major fertilizer plant, a motor lubricants maker, more farmland, and the agricultural supplies company Agroislena. Upon taking over the fertilizer producer, Chávez immediately slashed fertilizer prices by 40 percent. Without government funding, the plant will now most likely shut down and fertilizer shortages will result. Almost every major industry Chávez has nationalized is operating in default with the result that shortages are commonplace. If it wasn’t for Venezuela’s vast oil deposits, the economy would likely have collapsed long ago. 


On Sunday, Carl Paladino, a candidate for the New York governor’s office, said he was opposed to indoctrinating children with pro-homosexuality views and would veto any attempt to give homosexuals the right to “marry.” News programs seized the story and cycled it into an ongoing loop, but the more significant story appeared four days earlier in the form of a Pew Research poll: America is at the tipping point of becoming a homosexual haven. For the first time since data began to be tracked, fewer than half of all Americans are opposed to homosexual “marriage.” In 1995, 65 percent were against the policy, and only 27 percent supported it. In 2010, just 48 percent are opposed, and 42 percent are in favor. White, black and Hispanic Protestants, Catholics and Jews all support homosexual “marriage” more now than they did just last year. Men and women, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Northerners, Midwesterners, Southerners and Westerners, college graduates, high school dropouts and every age group also showed more support for the homosexual agenda this year than they did last year. The data also showed support for allowing homosexuals to serve in the military openly. In 1989, two self-admitted propagandists of the homosexual agenda advocated desensitizing, jamming and converting the American public into supporting homosexuals. Just 21 years later, they have succeeded to an amazing degree. 

On Tuesday, a California federal judge ordered the U.S. military to end its 17-year-old “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that prevents open homosexuals from serving in the military. Judge Virginia Phillips ruled the act was unconstitutional on September 9. If the administration does not appeal the ruling or loses an appeal, open homosexuality will be permitted for all personnel in all U.S. branches of the military serving all over the world. 

On Thursday, the dollar tumbled against currencies across the board when Singapore’s Monetary Authority decided to tighten its policies on the Singapore dollar. The surprise move effectively signaled that Asian economies have recovered to the point where they can withstand tighter monetary policies while the U.S. is still engaged in monetary easing. The dollar fell to a new 15-year low against the yen, and an all-time low against the Swiss franc. The Canadian dollar briefly surpassed the dollar before settling back to parity, and the euro soared to its highest level since January: $1.41.