July 16, 2011

The Week in Review

July 15, 2011 | From theTrumpet.com
The other Karzai is killed, what the Turkish government thinks is “unthinkable,” the Catholic Church covers up—in the middle of a cover-up scandal, China dives deep, and the U.S. argues over a notional “debt ceiling.”

Middle East

Assad makes bold move: As demonstrations continue in Syria, crowds broke into the U.S. Embassy in Damascus on Monday, smashing windows and tearing down the American flag, and also tried to attack the French Embassy. This followed protests against a visit by U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford and French envoy Eric Chevallier to the city of Hama, where protests against Syrian President Bashar Assad are now centered. The U.S. has accused Syrian authorities of instigating the attacks on the embassies in an attempt to deflect international attention from Assad’s repression of activists. One State Department official said the private pro-government al-Dunia television network broadcast a program the previous day urging Syrians to express their anger over the ambassadors’ visit to Hama. “The embassy attack also highlighted the vulnerability of American diplomats in the Syrian capital as well as the limits of U.S. statecraft at a time when tensions are soaring between the two countries over Syria’s treatment of protesters pressing for regime change,” the Washington Post reports (July 12).

Another setback for U.S. in Afghanistan: Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s younger half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, was killed on Tuesday at his home in Kandahar city in what was one of the highest-profile assassinations in a decade. Ahmed Wali was a powerful figure in southern Afghanistan who had been influential in securing support for the president in Kandahar province, birthplace of the Taliban. His death leaves a dangerous power vacuum in the province and will likely weaken support for President Karzai as well as diminish the government’s negotiating power with the Taliban—which could also cause problems for America’s drawdown in the region. Government officials say the killing was carried out by one of Ahmed Wali’s bodyguards, while the Taliban say they were responsible for it. It is possible both claims are true. Stratfor reports that “the death of Ahmed Wali has serious implications for the Karzai regime and, by extension, the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan” (July 12). The tribal forces among President Karzai’s own Pashtun ethnic community “that have thus far been aligned with the president as a result of Ahmed Wali’s efforts will now be forced to reevaluate that alliance, given that the Taliban have the upper hand in negotiations for a post-nato Afghanistan,” Stratfor writes. This in turn could cause the president to also lose ground with his non-Pashtun partners. Any resultant division among anti-Taliban forces will complicate the U.S. military’s drawdown from the country.

No reconciliation in sight for Turkey and Israel: More than 12 months on from the Mavi Marmara incident that drastically widened the rift between Turkey and Israel, relations between the two countries remain poor. Despite talk over recent weeks that Turkey’s decision to withdraw the Mavi Marmara from the second Gaza “Freedom Flotilla,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has demonstrated that he has no intention of mending ties with Israel, refusing to accept a compromise solution to the dispute. “Normalization of relations between the two countries is unthinkable,” Erdoğan said July 8 in a speech to the Turkish Parliament, “unless Israel apologizes for this illegal act, which is against international law and values, pays compensation to the relatives of those who lost their lives in this atrocious event and lifts the embargo on Gaza.” Israel has made every effort to reconcile with Turkey over the incident in which Israeli forces confronted a Gaza-bound flotilla of ships, short of an official apology. “The conclusion being drawn in Jerusalem,” writes Courcy’s Intelligence Brief, “is that the damage to the former strategic alliance with Turkey is indeed irreversible and that there will be no resumption of the defense, military, or intelligence cooperation that was so important in boosting Israel’s feeling of security” (July 13). Turkey’s Islamist prime minister has increasingly taken his country in an anti-Western and anti-Israel direction since coming to power in 2002.

Europe

Euro on edge: The euro moved closer to catastrophe this week as it became dangerously expensive for Italy and Spain to borrow money. Interest rates on 10-year Italian bonds rose briefly to over 6 percent. They remain high, despite a successful bond auction and the fact that the government succeeded in passing austerity measures. Greece’s troubles continue as Fitch downgraded its credit rating from B+ to CCC on July 13. On July 12, Moody’s cut Ireland’s debt rating from Ba1 to Baa3—junk status.

More Catholic corruption: The Roman Catholic Church covered up sexual abuse committed by its priests until as recently as two years ago, according to a report issued Wednesday by the Irish government. This is despite the church’s claims that it has reported all cases of abuse since 1995. Ireland’s justice minister, Alan Shatter, said this discovery was “truly scandalous.” The Cloyne Report found that the church ignored complaints about 19 priests from 1996 to 2009 in the diocese of Cloyne.

Asia

China poised to become world leader in submarine capability: China deployed the Jiaolong deep-sea submersible on Wednesday in the central Pacific Ocean. The Jiaolong, designed to become the world’s deepest-diving manned craft, is being watched with great interest by Asian and Western analysts who recognize its mining and military potential. If the submersible’s mission is successful, Beijing will go on in 2012 to send the Jiaolong near to its maximum operation depth of about 7,000 meters, which would mean the craft can navigate nearly all of the world’s ocean floors. This achievement would place China at the top of an exclusive list of deep-sea submersible operator nations, ahead of Russia, Japan, France and the U.S. Beijing aims to use the superior diving technology represented in the Jiaolong to boost its leverage over resources in waters that are also claimed by Japan and several Southeast Asian nations. This goal was symbolized by the Jiaolong’s use of a robotic arm to plant a Chinese flag on the floor of the South China Sea during a dive in 2010. Although Beijing makes no effort to hide its ambitions to use the Jiaolong to harness resources, it has said little about the submersible’s military potential. The craft’s stated capabilities suggest that it could execute key expeditions for China’s national security forces, such as developing high-resolution maps of seabeds to facilitate the navigation of China’s expanding fleet of submarines; tapping into other nations’ undersea fiber-optic cables to intercept messages; and recovering lost nuclear weapons. Expect China to continue to invest in projects that bolster its claim to resources and its military power.

China’s global exports increase: Over a year after China began to allow its currency to climb against the U.S. dollar, the country is a bigger exporting force than ever before, compounding its trading dominance and complicating attempts by other countries to boost their manufacturing sectors. On Sunday, Beijing reported that its exports reached $874 billion in the first half of 2011 and $162 billion for the month of June. Both figures are records representing increases of almost 20 percent over the previous year. China’s improving performance comes in spite of increasing costs for Chinese manufacturers, who are facing the highest inflation in three years, mandatory wage increases, and a Chinese currency that has strengthened more than 5.5 percent against the greenback since Beijing began allowing it to climb. As China’s economic might grows, so will its military capability and assertiveness.

Africa

The world’s newest country: South Sudan officially became the 54th African state on Saturday. The division of Sudan into two separate nations is welcomed by elites within Germany and the Vatican as it plays right into the hands of European imperialists. There are at least three vital reasons for this: oil, strategic location and religion. First, both Chinese and EU interests have vied for some time for the reliable flow of oil to their respective economies. Second, it is noteworthy that the new nation is near to the southern entrance of the Red Sea. Third, South Sudanese independence works to the favor of EU elites because the country is dominated by the same religion that pervades so much of Europe: Roman Catholicism. Watch for Germany and the Vatican, with diplomatic support from China, to work to shape events in Sudan in the months ahead. It may well be that, like events on the Ivory Coast, South Sudan may effectively become a vassal African state to the imperialist EU, none other than the seventh and final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire.

Anglo-America

U.S. debt-ceiling battle exposes economic fragility: During an interview with cbs News on Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama stated that he could not guarantee that Social Security checks would continue to be sent out if Congress did not come up with a solution to the debt ceiling crisis by August 2. “I cannot guarantee that those checks will go out on August 3 if we haven’t resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it,” said Obama. Failure to raise the debt ceiling will not only hurt its ability to pay out benefits, but also would mean the U.S. would begin to default on its debts to foreign nations, causing serious problems for economies worldwide. Republican lawmakers are refusing to raise the debt ceiling until the government agrees to a series of spending cuts. Democrats are demanding shallower spending cuts coupled with tax increases. America is simply unable to function without going deeper into debt.

Speaking the truth about divorce: Senior British Family Division judge Sir Paul Coleridge, who once said Britain’s family breakdown had reached epidemic proportions, recently recalled how “In about 1950 you weren’t allowed in the royal enclosure at Ascot if you were divorced. … That now would exclude half the royal family” (Telegraph, July 13). The judge observed, “Everyone in the land, from the royal family downwards, is now affected by family breakdown. It affects the lives of children themselves, it affects the lives of their parents … the wider family gets caught up in it. It then ripples out to the local community, the schools and then into the wider community.” The Telegraph commented that “the judge blamed the problem on social changes over the last 50 years, including a shift in attitudes towards cohabitation and having children out of wedlock.” Up to mid-20th century, Sir Paul observed, “On the whole (cohabitation) was regarded as something you didn’t do, to have a child outside marriage, so that created a framework that stopped very much breakdown. … We’ve had a cultural revolution in sexual morality and sexual behavior. … Divorce is easy in the sense that obtaining a divorce is easier than getting a driving license” (ibid).

New York okays same-sex “marriage”: In America, similar condemnation of the destruction of the moral virtues on which stable society is built was publicized by the New American under a fitting headline: “New York Readies for Deluge of Deviant ‘Marriages’” (July 8). The article led with: “City and town clerks across New York are preparing for a surge in same-sex (aka lgbt or glbt) nuptials, the New York Times reports.

Such is the size of the coming fairy-tale wedding contingent, thanks to the state’s new law legalizing same-sex ‘marriage,’ that New York City will open its clerk’s offices on July 24, a Sunday. That is the day the law takes effect. … [A]n alleged Catholic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is not a homosexual but is living with his girlfriend, signed the bill legalizing ‘marriage’ between members of the same sex.” Using language appropriate to the moment, the New American observed that “Immediately after Cuomo signed state-sanctioned sodomy into law, the Times reported that clerks were ‘girding’ for more weddings, given that 45,000 homosexual couples live in New York. … ‘This is a historic moment for New York,’ Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said in a statement, ‘a moment many couples have waited years and even decades to see, and we are not going to make them wait one day longer than they have to.’ … Binghamton was the first city to announce it will open on July 24. New York followed. Other cities are also extending clerks’ hours to handle the conga line of homosexuals who show up to get ‘married.’” The solution to this massive destabilization of Anglo-Saxon society is as Sir Paul rightly maintained when, in 2008, he called for “action to achieve a ‘fundamental change’ in individual attitudes and behavior to reestablish marriage as the ‘gold standard’ for relationships” (Telegraph, op. cit.). His reference was to traditional God-ordained marriage between man and woman (Genesis 2:24).

British more resolved than ever to flee EU: Fifty percent of Britons would vote to leave the EU if given the option in a referendum, according to a YouGov@Cambridge and Politics Home poll published July 13. Only 33 percent would vote to stay. Thirty-four percent said that the Greece financial crisis had made them more favorable toward a British withdrawal from the EU. The poll indicates that Britain’s opposition to the EU hasn’t changed much—a YouGov poll last September found that 47 percent would vote to leave the EU and 33 percent to stay. But it does suggest that opposition to the EU has been hardened by the crisis. What’s more, the euro crisis could provide Britain the opportunity to renegotiate its membership of the EU. In an interview with the Spectator published July 7, British Prime Minister David Cameron said the eurozone would have to move “towards much more single economic government.” He sees this as a chance for Britain to change its relationship with the EU. “There will be opportunities for Britain to maximize what we want in terms of our engagement with Europe,” he said. The Spectator commented: “These words represent quite a shift in the British position. Until recently, the coalition line has been that because a stable eurozone was in Britain’s interests, we wouldn’t capitalize on any crisis to pursue a narrow national advantage. Now Cameron is talking explicitly about ‘opportunities’ and how to ‘maximize what we want.’”

Teachers approved to confront violence: As violence in British schools reaches stunning heights, the UK’s Department for Education has released new guidance telling teachers they can use reasonable force against unruly students. There were 12,688 acts of grievous bodily harm or actual bodily harm reported in schools in England last year, the Daily Mail reported July 12. That’s 65 cases every day. “The true level of violence could be much higher as many bullied victims fear revealing the identity of their attacker,” the Mail writes. In 2008/2009, nearly 1,000 students were suspended from school every school day because of abuse or assault, according to figures published by the Department for Education. The year before the number was 452. In 2010, 44 teachers went to hospital with serious injuries. No wonder two thirds of teachers say that bad behavior is driving teachers away from the profession. In the face of these kinds of numbers, the government has finally decided to act. The new guidelines, released July 11, forbid the “no touch” policies that exist in many schools which don’t let teachers lay a hand on pupils. The guidelines clarify that teachers can use force “to prevent pupils from hurting themselves or others, from damaging property, or from causing disorder.” The guidelines also make it easier for teachers to defend themselves from false accusations. The government’s new guidelines go a small way toward restoring discipline, but schools are still barred from effectively punishing children, and parents won’t. The result is a society foretold in Isaiah 3:12: “As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them ….”
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