October 1, 2011

The Week in Review

September 30, 2011 | From theTrumpet.com
The United Nations, theater of the absurd; threats inside the new Libya; the bailout bout: Germany vs. the U.S.; America’s halfhearted support of Taiwan; and Britain’s take on a terrorist’s ‘human rights.’

Middle East

UN Security Council discusses Palestinian statehood: The United Nations Security Council met on Monday to begin informal talks on the Palestinian Authority’s application for statehood, which was submitted Friday of last week by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The United States and UK oppose statehood and Russia and France support it. Consultations are expected to continue for some weeks before the Council is ready to vote. Sky News correspondent Tim Marshall writes from Jerusalem that “The vote on the UN could be forced, triggering the U.S. veto, which in turn would very likely lead to violence in the West Bank and Israel—and possibly against U.S. interests in the wider region.”

Bahrain elections boycotted by Shiites: Turnout was low in parliamentary elections held in the Gulf Arab state of Bahrain on September 24, with less than 20 percent of voters casting ballots after the Shiite majority boycotted the polls. The boycott came in response to the crushing of protests in the country earlier in the year by the ruling Sunni monarchy. The election had been called to fill the 18 parliament seats abandoned when Shiite lawmakers resigned in February in protest of the government crackdown on demonstrators. The ruling Sunnis accuse the Shiite-dominated protest movement and opposition groups of having a sectarian Shiite agenda and of acting in coordination with Iran. The result is a stalemate in Bahrain. Meanwhile, Shiite groups began a new round of protests beginning September 1, which they plan to continue through October 2. Though martial law ended in the country in May, regular clashes between the two sides continue in Shiite areas. More violence is expected if political reforms aren’t undertaken by the monarchy. Bahrain is a battleground for the power struggle that is going on between Iran and Saudi Arabia. As Stratfor reports, Gulf Cooperation Council “states are worried that Shiite anti-government unrest could spread to other countries at a time when the coalition already feels vulnerable because of the impending U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. These states are looking for ways to counter an increasingly powerful Iran. Tehran has exercised its influence during the Bahraini unrest, and the leaders of several of Bahrain’s Shiite protest groups are linked either to the Iranian government or its clerical leadership” (September 23).

U.S. concern grows over terrorist activity in Libya: U.S. officials are admitting that Islamic terrorism could be a problem in post-Qadhafi Libya, with counterterrorism and intelligence agencies recently producing classified papers detailing the strength, role and activities of Islamic militants in Libya. “It’s of concern that terrorists are going to take advantage of instability” in post-Qadhafi Libya, said one U.S. official. Bruce Riedel, a former senior cia analyst, said that there was particular concern that Islamic militants could use Libya as a base to spread their influence and weaponry into surrounding areas such as Algeria and Egypt’s Sinai. Another concern is that, according to U.S. and nato experts, a “power vacuum” currently exists in Libya. In late August, the Open Source Center, a U.S. intelligence unit, reported that “in recent days, jihadists have been strategizing on extremist Web forums how to establish an Islamic state” in the post-Qadhafi era. “Many forum members, describing the fall of Tripoli as the initial phase of the battle for Libya, have urged Libyan mujahideen to prepare for the next stage of battle against the (National Transitional Council) and secularist rebels to establish an Islamic state,” the center said. A further worry is that figures with a militant background could install themselves in the upper echelons of Libya’s new government. One such individual U.S. officials are watching is Abdel Hakim Belhadj, a former Islamic fighter in Libya and Afghanistan who now commands post-Qadhafi forces in Tripoli. Establishing a new government in Libya, however, is proving difficult. Differences between the Islamist and liberal factions of the rebel movement have prevented the formation of the interim government that was originally supposed to be concluded by September 18. “The problem in Libya,” says Courcy’s Intelligence Brief, “is that the Islamists did undoubtedly bear the brunt of the fighting, and now they want to have the premiership and a majority of cabinet ministers” (September 28).

Europe

Germany and America clash over debt crisis: German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has firmly rejected an American plan to tackle the euro crisis by using loans from the European Central Bank to expand the European Financial Stability Facility (efsf) from $440 billion to $2 trillion. Schäuble smacked the plan down, saying, “I don’t understand how anyone in the European Commission can have such a stupid idea.” U.S. President Barack Obama told a public meeting in California that the euro crisis is “scaring the world.” European leaders “are trying to take responsible actions but those actions haven’t been quite as quick as they need to be,” he said September 26. Schäuble dismissed his comments, saying: “It’s always much easier to give advice to others than to decide for yourself. I am well prepared to give advice to the U.S. government.” Schäuble’s tumid words were partly driven by the fact that the German parliament was due to vote on the expansion of the efsf’s powers on September 29. If members of parliament had thought the bailout mechanism was about to be expanded again, they may have voted no. Nonetheless, the Schäuble’s put-down was bold, to say the least, especially considering that the U.S. is keeping Europe’s banks afloat. Then again, the U.S. is also being audacious—pushing Europe toward a strategy that is failing in America.

Barroso on collision course with Britain: The European Union needs to become an economic union with euro bonds, must speed up decision making and should introduce a financial transaction tax, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said in his State of the Union speech September 28. “We are today faced with the greatest challenge our union has known in all its history,” he said. “I think this is going to be a baptism of fire for a whole generation.” While most in Europe would support his calls for more integration, they are directly opposed to British government policy. Barroso announced that the Commission had adopted a proposal for a financial transaction tax (ftt). A British Treasury spokesman has already said the UK will “absolutely resist.” At the moment Britain can veto the proposal. But in his speech, Barroso said he wanted to get rid of that power. “A member state has the right not to move,” he said. “But not the right to block the moves of others.” “Today we have a union where it is the slowest member that dictates the speed of all the other member states,” he said. Britain is that slowest member. Barroso said the EU should consider changing the treaties to stop this. Barroso also said: “We need to complete our monetary union with an economic union. … We need to really integrate the euro area, we need to complete the monetary union with real economic union …. In the coming weeks, the Commission will … present a proposal for a single, coherent framework to deepen economic coordination and integration, particularly in the euro area.” Given the EU’s unpopularity in Britain, there is no way the UK could go down the road Barroso is heading. It is also clear that Barroso wants to leave Britain in the dust. As the Trumpet has said for years, a parting of the ways is inevitable.

Head of German high court calls for referendum: Germany cannot hand over any more powers to Europe without a referendum, the head of Germany’s Constitutional Court, Andreas Vosskuhle, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine. “The sovereignty of the German state is inviolate and anchored in perpetuity by basic law,” he said. The legislature cannot abandon this sovereignty, even though it has the power to change the constitution, he told the newspaper. “There is little leeway left for giving up core powers to the EU,” he continued. “If one wants to go beyond this limit—which might be politically legitimate and desirable—then Germany must give itself a new constitution. A referendum would be necessary. This cannot be done without the people.” The euro crisis could cause a constitutional crisis in Germany.

Asia

U.S.’s halfhearted arms package to Taiwan reveals shifting Asian tides: On September 21, the Obama administration announced that it would deliver a new $5.8 billion arms package to Taiwan. The most telling facet of the news was that Taiwan will not obtain what it most wanted: new F-16s. Instead the U.S. will give Taiwan an upgrade of its existing fighters, which will require a full decade to complete. Many analysts view this as an indication that the U.S. is becoming a weak and unreliable ally, and a signal that China, who did not want Taiwan to have new F-16s, dictates more and more of Washington’s policies. Although the package was not all that Taiwan desired, it includes such weapons as smart bombs, air-to-air missiles and radar, which could challenge China’s new generation 5 stealth fighter. This may provide Beijing with justification to further strengthen China’s military power. Reports say that China’s People’s Liberation Army (pla) may harbor a secret delight in the transaction because it anticipates that it will be able to obtain U.S. military technology through spying on Taiwan. Furthermore, the pla can point to the weapons deal as a reason to ask Beijing for a larger budget. Taipei-based journalist Jens Kastner said the significance of the deal is that it will act as a catalyst in Asia’s already-rapid arms race. As Asian nations see Beijing becoming more assertive and the U.S.’s will eroding, many will react by building up their own defenses. Others will accept the shifting paradigm, and abandon the sinking U.S. ship to ally with China.

Typhoon in Manila causes worst flooding in decades: On Tuesday, Typhoon Nesat struck the Philippines, killing at least 21 people and leaving another 35 missing. The powerful storm sent waves the height of palm trees crashing over seawalls. The bulk of the deaths occurred in downtown Manila, which had already been soaked by heavy monsoon rains ahead of Nesat’s arrival. Municipal regions along Manila Bay reported that they were suffering their most severe flooding in decades. “It’s flooded everywhere. We don’t have a place to go for shelter,” said Ray Gonzales, one of thousands of residents stranded by the rapidly-rising floodwaters. Officials said that around 320,000 people in total were affected by the typhoon, with 73,000 still in evacuation centers and many others still stranded. The severe flooding occurred just one day after Manila held two-year commemoration ceremonies for the nearly 500 people killed during a 2009 cyclone that swept through the city. In the near term, the acceleration in natural disasters in Asia and beyond will continue to gain momentum.

Africa/Latin America

Surrounding Somalia: In a sign that East Africa is becoming more radicalized, the United States is setting up two more bases for its Predator and Reaper drones. The Unmanned Aerial Vehicles will be used to keep an eye on Islamic terror groups in Somalia, Yemen, and Eritrea. Ethiopia especially appreciates any additional American military assistance in its effort to resist growing Islamic discontent. Most Ethiopians are Christians, but their Moslem minorities and Muslim neighbors, are stirring. Watch for greater unrest in this region, and for Islamic forces to exert growing influence.

Anglo-America

Texans evacuate fish from river as water dries up: Scientists scoured the bed of the drying Brazos River in west Texas last week in an attempt to rescue two species of rare minnows threatened by the ongoing drought. Record-setting temperatures and lack of rain has eliminated the flow of water in this portion of the Brazos River. Biologists say such large fish rescues are rare, but will become more common if the drought persists. Weather-related disasters are increasing around the globe. Some “experts” say we’ve had a run of bad luck. Others insist the cause has something to do with global warming. God, however, says it is a sign that we are living in the very last days.

Teen murder suspect claims to be a vampire: An 18-year-old Florida girl who was arrested on Monday under charges of accessory to murder claims she is modern-day Dracula. Stephanie Pistey has been accused of luring 16-year-old Jacob Hendershot into a fatal trap. Although she denied allegations that she drank the blood of the victim, she confirmed that she has drunk the blood of her fiancé. She also verified that all the people involved in the July murder were part of a vampire cult. As twisted and perverted entertainment becomes mainstream in America, a whole subculture is developing of people who actually consider themselves real vampires. God forbids us to consume blood (Leviticus 17:10; Acts 15:20). He condemns that practice along with occultism and witchcraft, both of which are part of vampire lore (Leviticus 19:26). As the American media continues to glorify these pagan practices, horrendous murders like this will become more common.

Britain mustn’t deport terrorist because of “human rights”: A terrorist jailed for assisting in an unsuccessful al Qaeda attack on three underground trains and a bus in London must be set free and cannot be deported to Eritrea, judges in Britain ruled, because he could face “inhumane treatment or punishment.” A combination of the European Convention on Human Rights and liberal judges is preventing Britain from dealing effectively with the terrorist threat.
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