January 6, 2012

The Week in Review

January 6, 2012 | From theTrumpet.com
Iran closes Hormuz, France and Germany strangle Britain, China’s goals for its space program, U.S. military slashed, and what happens to 40 percent of new human lives in New York City.
Middle East
The Muslim Brotherhood will not recognize Israel: The Muslim Brotherhood, the terrorist-affiliated party leading in Egypt’s elections, will never recognize Israel, its deputy leader, Dr. Rashad Bayoumi, said in an interview published by the London-based al-Hayat newspaper January 1. Recognizing Israel, he said, “is not an option, whatever the circumstances; we do not recognize Israel at all. It’s an occupying criminal enemy.” He said the Muslim Brotherhood would not negotiate with Israel. He also said: “The Brotherhood respects international conventions, but we will take legal action against the peace treaty with the Zionist entity.” He indicated that Egypt would hold a referendum on the treaty once a new government was in place. The Muslim Brotherhood isclose to victory following the final round of voting in Egypt’s elections for the lower house of parliament held Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Egyptian Revolutionary Guard” formed: A group of young Egyptians have launched a new movement named the Egyptian Revolutionary Guard, claiming on their Facebook page that the Islamic revolution in Iran is their inspiration and motivation. In an interview with al-Watan al-Arabimagazine, members of the group said they led the storming of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo back in September. The group is apparently calling for the U.S. Embassy to be stormed on January 25, the first anniversary of the Egyptian revolution. Mohammed al-Hadari, secretary of the group, claims it has 400 members, and says the goal of the movement is to defend the revolution. “The revolution’s main goal is to put an end to Egypt’s dependence on the U.S. and Israel,” al-Hadari said.
Iran temporarily closes Strait of Hormuz: On Monday Iran finished off 10 days of naval exercises in international waters near the Strait of Hormuz. In the midst of those war games, Iran’s political and military leaders threatened to retaliate against sanctions by shutting down the strait. It also came to light that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards plan to sow Hormuz with mines. The U.S. responded by sending an aircraft carrier and its strike group from the Persian Gulf, through the strait and into the Gulf of Oman, the area of Iran’s maneuvers. It said, though, that the movement was pre-planned. Iran struck back by actually closing Hormuz—for five hours. This past Saturday morning, Iran’s state agencies “reported” that the naval drills would include some long-range missile tests, and Iran closed its territorial waters. “For five hours Saturday, not a single warship, merchant vessel or oil tanker ventured into the 30-mile-wide Hormuz Strait, waiting to hear from Tehran that the test was over,” debkafile wrote. Later that morning Iran’s navy said it hadn’t fired any missiles after all. “Tehran had demonstrated by this ruse that it could close the vital waterway for hours or days at any moment” (ibid). These provocative actions are part of Iran’s prophesied push, and we can expect them to increase (Daniel 11:40).
Iran claims to have produced first nuclear fuel rod: Iran has produced its first nuclear fuel rod, Iranian scientists announced on Sunday. The public relations office of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said scientists have succeeded in building and testing the country’s first nuclear fuel rod and that it has been inserted into the core of Tehran’s research reactor. U.S. analysts say that the fuel rod for medical research doesn’t have any military significance. However, Meir Javedanfar, a lecturer on Iranian politics at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center in Israel, said, “If Iran has indeed produced its first nuclear fuel rod using its own domestic capabilities that would represent progress in its program, as just last year there was significant doubt they had that ability.” In any case, the announcement shows Iran is not backing down in its nuclear aspirations despite stepped-up sanctions.

France and Germany want financial transaction tax this year: French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel want a tax on financial transactions in place by the end of the year, French Minister for European Affairs Jean Leonetti said January 4. This is another direct attack on Britain, and will continue to force the country to the outskirts of Europe. The financial transaction tax is on the program for discussion at the next European summit, January 30, Leonetti said. “Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel have decided on this, and it will be put in place before the end of 2012,” he announced. According to Leonetti, Britain and Sweden were the only EU nations against it. This announcement shows an accelerated time table compared to previous Franco-German plans. Last month, French Finance Minister Francois Baroin said that France and Germany would give their proposals on the tax on January 23 in the hope of introducing it across Europe in 2013. Britain is dead-set against the tax. Last year, British Prime Minister David Cameron said: “In all the figures that we bandy around about the financial transactions tax, it is worth bearing in mind the fact that around 80 percent of it would be raised from businesses in the United Kingdom. I am sometimes tempted to ask the French whether they would like a cheese tax.” The push for a transaction tax is a push to marginalize Britain. Watch for Germany to continue to push Britain out of the EU.
German president on the ropes: A strong media campaign for Germany’s President Christian Wulff to resign from the presidency has mounted in the wake of a scandal involving a real-estate purchase in which the president was involved prior to his appointment. This has recently been exacerbated by his subsequent treatment of certain members of the German press. A widely unpopular choice at the time, Germany’s President Christian Wulff was appointed as the nation’s president in June 2010 following the resignation of Horst Köhler from that post. Now it seems that Wulff’s tenure as president could be brief. Pressure has now mounted significantly on Wulff to resign, for, as Handelsblatt reports, “members of the ruling majority have now joined their opposition colleagues in calling for his resignation.” It’s obvious that the knives are out to dispatch Christian Wulff—Merkel’s personal choice as Köhler’s replacement—and if he goes it will be yet another blow to the chancellor’s reputation coming hard on the heels of disastrous results for her party, the Christian Democrats, in the 2011 state elections. Who could fill the president’s shoes if Wulff succumbs to the pressure and tosses in the towel? We will be watching one man in particular: ex-Bavarian Premier Edmund Stoiber.
EU agrees to oil embargo on Iran: Europe is stepping up its response to Iran’s provocations, with European Union governments agreeing in principal to ban imports of Iranian oil, EU diplomats said on Wednesday. “A lot of progress has been made,” one EU diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The principle of an oil embargo is agreed. It is not being debated anymore.” The details are still to be ironed out, but French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe announced that “on January 30, the Europeans will hopefully pass an oil embargo.” EU countries currently buy 450,000 barrels per day of Iran’s 2.6 million bpd in oil exports, making the EU the second-largest importer of Iranian crude. Italy, Greece and Spain in particular get a lot of oil from Iran and want extra time to look for more supplies.
Greek government spokesman warns Greece may have to quit euro: Greece will have to quit the euro if it doesn’t receive the funds from its second bailout, government spokesman Pantelis Kapsis warned January 3. “The bailout agreement needs to be signed, otherwise we will be out of the markets, out of the euro,” he said. The EU has already agree in principle a €130 billion bailout, but Greece must cut public spending and sell off government-owned companies to get it. Even Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos warned January 4 that “without an agreement with the troika and further funding, Greece faces an immediate risk of an uncontrolled default in March.” A Greek exit from the eurozone is looking increasing likely.
ECB compromise gives Germany a good deal: The European Central Bank (ecb) appointed its first non-German chief economist January 3, but Germany’s consolation prize may be worth more than the prize itself. “Chancellor Angela Merkel may have gotten exactly what she wanted,” wrote Bloomberg. Jörg Asmussen, the German candidate for the chief economist job, is now the virtual second in command of the ecb. He will represent the bank at meetings of eurozone finance ministers and attend European leaders’ summits with ecb President Mario Draghi. “The post that Asmussen has now taken on is of extraordinary importance and great significance,” said a deputy government spokesman, Georg Streiter. Watch for Germany to expand its control over Europe’s economy.
China’s quiet military space program: China’s increasing focus on space programs may be “a strategy for global supremacy,” the Eurasia Reviewwrote on Tuesday. China’s latest five-year plan on space exploration, published at the end of 2011, mentions “peace” or “peaceful” a dozen times, but nearly every major facet of the plan has crucial military applications. “Most media have chosen to focus on Beijing’s vague aspirations towards deep-space and manned exploration,” said formal Royal Navy Officer Lewis Page, “but in fact the concrete details given all point toward a primary emphasis on strategic advantage for China here on Earth.” Besides boosting China’s technological supremacy, more advanced forays in space give Beijing a springboard to increase its soft power in developing nations. For example, last year China launched an advanced communications satellite for Pakistan, and clinched a deal to construct and launch a satellite for Bolivia. Former U.S. President George W. Bush proposed sending astronauts back to the moon, but now the U.S. is not even able to send people into space. China’s space program is rapidly rising as nasa trudges through a long period of inactivity and transition.
The Koreas boosts defense as China’s military power grows: As Seoul watches the shadows of China’s military grow longer, South Korea’s is bolstering its defenses, the South Korean daily Chosun Ilbo reported on December 30. Over the last 20 years, China’s military spending has increased an average of 16.2 percent each year, and in 2010 China ranked second in the world after spending $91.7 billion on defense. And Western analysts believe China’s actual military spending is two to three times larger than these figures Beijing officially reports. South Korea’s concern about China’s military rise is evident in its response. For example, in preparation for the launch of China’s first aircraft carrier last year, Seoul began developing a fierce supersonic anti-vessel cruise missile and a fleet of small submarines capable of maneuvering undetected in shallow waters. “The nation’s armed forces have been bolstering their high-tech weapons arsenals since the mid-1990s by developing Aegis destroyers and purchasing early-warning aircraft, not just to deter threats from North Korea, but rather to prepare for the rising military powers of China and Japan,” the Chosun Ilbo wrote. Meanwhile, North Korea said on Sunday that its 1.1 million-strong military will expand under new leader Kim Jong-un, and in a joint editorial of three major newspapers instructed all North Koreans to “possess a firm conviction that they will become human bulwarks and human shields in defending Kim Jong-un unto death.”
Africa/ Latin America
Nigeria declares state of emergency: A recent upsurge in Islamist violence has forced Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to declare a state of emergency and order the closure of part of his country’s borders. When Jonathan announced these measures last Saturday, he labeled the radical Boo Haram Islamist sect a “cancer” that threatened to destroy Africa’s most populous country. In addition to the external border closures, the emergency measures implemented will include the shutdown of internal land borders in areas particularly affected by the Islamist attacks. Christians have been under attack across northern Africa and the Middle East. Expect the Catholic Church to stand up more forcefully against Islamist violence in the near future.
In Mexico, 12,000 killed in drug violence last year: Over 12,000 were killed in Mexico last year as a direct result of the country’s surging drug violence. According to the daily newspaper Reforma, one of Mexico’s most respected independent news outlets, this grim statistic is 6.3 percent higher than it was in 2010 and does not include a count of juveniles or children killed. Such rampant violence has brought the total number of casualties resulting from Mexico’s drug war up past 50,000. It seems no amount of money or military action can stop the dangerous drug cartels that have spread like cancer throughout Latin America. Until American drug consumers get a handle on their problem and stop relying on chemically induced escapism, drug cartel violence across the entire Western Hemisphere will only get worse.
Obama administration planning to cut tens of thousands of troops: Now that the Iraq war has come to an official close, United States President Barack Obama has announced a major reshaping and shrinking of the military. On Thursday, Obama promised to reduce America’s arsenal of nuclear weapons and to shed tens of thousands of troops. These reforms, whose details will be included in the 2013 defense budget, will cut hundreds of billions of dollars from planned Pentagon spending over the coming decade. To compensate for its loss in overall military power, the Pentagon will have to rely more upon its allies in Europe, the president said. Bible prophecy reveals that it will be this reliance on foreign allies that ultimately proves to be America’s undoing.
PetroChina buys Canadian oil sands project: Canadian firm Athabasca Oil Sands Corp announced this week that it is selling a 40 percent stake in one of its oil sands prospects to a Chinese company. Athabasca already sold 60 percent stakes in its MacKay River project to PetroChina in 2010. Now it is trying to sell off the remaining stakes. If this sale goes through, it will be the first time a Chinese company gains full ownership of such a project. Canada holds the world’s third-largest reserves of oil, so obviously China is eager to move in and get a piece of the pie. This has particularly been the case since the U.S. State Department late last year delayed a decision to build a pipeline proposed to carry oil from Alberta to Texas. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said that he plans to actively market Canadian oil to Asian buyers since the Obama administration does not seem interested in it. Ironically, at a time when Washington is sweating over whether or not Iran will try to block Middle Eastern oil shipments, Beijing is sneaking in the back door and taking Canadian oil that America seems not to even want.
40 percent of pregnancies in New York City aborted: The abortion rate in New York City is more than double the national average, according todata released by the local heath department on Thursday. The data shows that 83,750 pregnancies were aborted in New York City in 2010, which translated to 40 percent of the total. The city’s abortion rate was highest among African-Americans, where 60 percent of pregnancies end in abortion. The study revealed that the city’s pregnant teenagers aborted 63 percent of their pregnancies. That means that for every 1,000 babies born to New York’s teenage mothers, 1,684 were aborted. 


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