Break from Europe?
Ever since Britain joined the European Economic Community in 1973, the Trumpet and its predecessor, the Plain Truth, have forecast that Britain will one day remove itself from—or be tossed out of—the European Union. Recent events have brought that day much closer.
On October 15, Home Secretary Theresa May announced that the British government plans to opt out of more than 130 European Union laws on crime, justice and policing. It was a watershed declaration, one the Euroskeptic Daily Express heralded as “Britain’s First Step to EU Exit.”
Much of the British public has long been unhappy in the EU. Now, for the first time, this public opposition is actually infiltrating the government and resulting in substantial political and legislative action against the EU. This is a major change in direction for London.
It is entirely legal, under the Lisbon Treaty, for Britain to opt out of these EU laws. The thing is, no one actually thought the British government would do it. When the treaty was being negotiated, the opt-out clause was thought of as simply a way to appease Euro-haters. Yet suddenly, even liberals and Europhiles want Britain to opt out. The Financial Times, which in the past has called for Britain to join the euro, wrote, “Any government, especially a Tory one, has to acknowledge the EU’s increasingly shaky legitimacy in the UK—where polls suggest a majority want to withdraw from the Union altogether. … [T]o concede a further loss of national control—in such a sensitive area to an unaccountable court—would invite a backlash.”
Also in October, Michael Gove, the education secretary and a top candidate to be Britain’s next prime minister, shocked many when he fired off an unprecedented verbal attack on the EU. He announced that if a referendum on Britain’s EU membership were held tomorrow, he would vote for a British withdrawal. “Give us back our sovereignty or we will walk out,” he told Brussels.
Gove has been publicly supported by Defense Secretary Philip Hammond. The Daily Mail says at least six other top-level government ministers have also privately sided with him.
“The importance of these remarks [from May, Gove and Hammond] cannot be overstated,” the Telegraph’s Peter Oborne explained. “Although many people have criticized Europe, no senior British politician has actually dared to advocate a severance of relations“—at least, not since about 30 years ago, when a man who did so was humiliated in a major political race. Ever since, Britain’s main political parties have agreed that Britain should remain in the EU.
Oborne continued: “Mr. Gove’s decision to break with that consensus would be a moment of first-rate importance even if he were acting on his own. But he reportedly has the support of approximately half the Conservative members of the cabinet.” In fact, some speculate that, considering his close personal relationship with David Cameron, he may have the prime minister’s sympathy as well.
Ever since Prime Minister Cameron took office, his government has successfully practiced a sweep-it-under-the-rug policy regarding Britain leaving Europe. One reason this has been possible is that government allies have remained aloof on the subject. Until now. “I reckon the education secretary and his cabinet supporters are genuinely ready to try to take Britain out of the European Union,” Oborne wrote.
On October 23, British Foreign Minister William Hague all but handed in Britain’s notice to the EU. “Public disillusionment with the EU in Britain is the deepest it has ever been,” he warned. “People feel that the EU is a one-way process, a great machine that sucks up decision-making from national parliaments to the European level until everything is decided by the EU. That needs to change. If we cannot show that decision-making can flow back to national parliaments, then the system will become democratically unsustainable,” he said.
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard distilled Hague’s declaration: “What Mr. Hague is really doing is preparing the ground for withdrawal” (Telegraph, October 23).
Such a development would rock British politics and Britain’s relationship with Europe. “It is clear that the Conservative Party has reached a turning point,” wrote Oborne. “Mr. Cameron has resolved to risk detonating the European bomb, in the full knowledge of the consequences.”
What does Europe think of all this? It seems ready to make a break as well.
In October, Spiegel Online reported that while German Chancellor Angela Merkel once went out of her way to keep Britain in Europe, this is no longer the case. She is looking now to create a smaller, “new, more deeply integrated Europe,” and has “come to terms with the fact that there will no longer be a path back to the center of the Union for the British” (October 15).
More evidence of the coming split arose last fall, when “the British blocked an attempt by the other 26 EU member states to establish a joint headquarters for military missions,” reported Spiegel. “Now the plan is to be revived and implemented, even against London’s resistance, if necessary.”
British conservatives are hoping the split on policing laws can lead to a friendly renegotiation of Britain’s relationship to Europe. But the signs so far are that Britain is heading for a messy divorce.
This is exactly the outcome the Bible prophesied centuries ago. Britain is heading out, while the EU is consolidating into a smaller group of 10 nations that will pursue closer integration until they become a unified superstate.
The Europe question is about to explode in Britain, and when it does, as Mr. Oborne wrote, it “could all be very bloody and horrible.”
Democracy, who needs it?
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble put forward a radical response to Europe’s financial crisis on October 14. Schäuble’s most controversial proposal is to create a currency commissioner who would have the power to block national budgets. Unlike most other EU commissioners, this official would be able to act independently of the other commissioners. Spiegel Online wrote that this new post would be “one of the most powerful positions in the EU.” Schäuble also said that only members of the European Parliament from eurozone countries should be able to vote on EU matters. He said his proposition had the full support of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Unsurprisingly, other EU nations dislike Schäuble’s proposal. It was not on the agenda for the EU summit in mid-October. But we can expect Germany to continue to push for a strong figure who will be able to whip Europe’s finances into shape.
‘You know, neo-Nazis have some good points’
The neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party is now the third-most popular party in Greece, according to a survey by Pulse RC published September 6. Over 10 percent of the Greek population now supports it. The New Democracy party holds support from 25 percent of voters, followed by the radical left-wing Syriza. pasok, which used to be a major party, received only 8 percent support, less than Golden Dawn. The poll shows a stunning change in Greek politics. Three years ago, pasok won the election with 44 percent of the vote, while Golden Dawn received 0.29 percent. Golden Dawn’s popularity continues to rise even though its supporters have been implicated in brutal attacks against immigrants (the party insists it is not behind these attacks). Greece is a shocking example of how dramatically a nation can change and a society can break down once its economy falls apart. The once-trendy wave of multiculturalism comes crashing down, poverty spreads, people behave at a more base level, and crime increases. Keep watching Greece for clues as to what may lie in store for other countries teetering on the economic brink.
Union within the Union
Eleven eurozone nations received permission from the European Commission on October 23 to impose a small tax on all their financial transactions. Austria, Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain signed up for the tax, which is intended to finance bailouts within those nations.
Under European Union law, a group of at least nine nations can push toward “enhanced cooperation” on an issue, leaving the rest of Europe behind. The tax is the most significant instance so far of a smaller group of nations within the EU moving forward without the rest of the Union. The only other times the enhanced cooperation provision has been used was to simplify cross-border divorces and patents.
The fact that only 11 nations agreed to move forward with the tax is more proof that the eurozone cannot achieve the federal-style integration it wants without shrinking the number of nations involved. Earlier in the year, 11 member states formed the “Future of Europe Group,” also known as the “Berlin Group,” to discuss ways that EU nations could draw closer together. These aren’t the same 11 that signed up to the tax, but Europhiles see the trend nonetheless: If you want to get anything big done, you have to cut some nations out of the club. Biblical prophecy shows that ultimately, the European alliance will be comprised of “ten kings.”
Just admit it’s a federation
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso called for Europe to become a “federation” in his state of the union speech on September 12. “A deep and genuine economic and monetary union, a political union, with a coherent foreign and defense policy, means ultimately that the present European Union must evolve,” he said. Barroso also said that forming “this federation of nation-states will ultimately require a new treaty.” Barroso made these sweeping statements in spite of the fact that nearly every nation in Europe opposes a new EU treaty. Even Germany’s traditional allies, the northern eurozone states, oppose a new treaty. Berlin is the only one pushing hard to rewrite the rules. EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy pushed for similar measures in an issues paper he published the day of Barroso’s speech. He called for “a central budget for the euro area” and proposed creating a new eurozone parliament. The cry for a new European federation is becoming bolder.
Iran rebuked —but don’t be fooled
In mid-September, Russia and China joined four Western powers in the International Atomic Energy Agency (iaea) and issued a resolution against Iran for its failure to cooperate over its nuclear program.
Moscow and Beijing have criticized the West’s expanded unilateral sanctions against Iran’s oil exports and have repeatedly blocked UN Security Council resolutions condemning Iran’s ally Syria for its violent repression of uprisings.
Both were also initially reluctant to submit the iaea resolution. Russia and China joining the West and boosting pressure against Iran was heralded as a surprise victory by Western powers; however, analysts believe Moscow and Beijing probably calculated the move to relieve the pressure on them and to excuse themselves from endorsing tougher measures against Iran in the Security Council.
Overall, these two Asian powers will continue to make the task of isolating Iran arduous for Western powers.
Ditching dollars for yuans
East Asian states have formed a “renminbi bloc,” which is focused on abandoning the U.S. dollar and pegging currencies to the Chinese renminbi, according to a report published October 24. (The primary unit of renminbi is the yuan.) This bloc represents a major success in China’s attempt to internationalize its currency.
The report, published by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said Beijing is moving closer to its long-term goal of establishing the yuan as a global reserve currency. The latest data shows that in July, yuan-denominated trade accounted for 10 percent of China’s total foreign trade. Two years ago, that figure was zero.
The report said that since the global financial downturn, more and more countries view the yuan as the chief reference currency when setting exchange rates. Now seven out of ten economies in the region—including Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand—monitor the yuan more closely than they track the greenback. This report shows not only the waning influence of the United States and the emergence of China, but also Asian nations’ moves toward unification.
PM takes hawkish turn
Speaking at a naval ceremony on October 14, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda unleashed some hawkish rhetoric not previously seen in his leadership approach. Noda’s speech included a jingoistic phrase used in a slogan for naval battles during the early 20th century’s Russo-Japan War, as well as nationalistic slogans Japanese naval cadets have recited since before World War ii. “We have a neighbor that launches missiles disguised as satellites and engages in nuclear development. We are facing various cases related to territory and sovereignty,” he said, referring to North Korea, China and South Korea. For years, U.S. foreign policy has worked to suppress indications of Japanese militarism, but with China rising and the U.S. afflicted by economic and moral disease, Washington appears ready to allow Tokyo to take on a greater regional security role. Although much of the friction and potential for arms buildup in the region is due to disputes between Asian states, watch for these bickering nations to ultimately pool together in an Asian superpower.
Hackers breach U.S. military network
Hackers connected to China’s government infiltrated a U.S. government computer network containing some of Washington’s most sensitive information, the Washington Free Beacon reported on September 30. U.S. authorities declined to officially blame China for the attacks, but experts say the hack was the handiwork of Chinese military cyberwarfare specialists tied to a unit called the 4th Department of General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army. Since the hacked system is used for U.S. military nuclear commands, the cyberattack is considered one of Beijing’s most belligerent ever. If Beijing’s attack was successful, China could possibly use the information it obtained in future conflicts to intercept presidential communications, locate and target the president, and disrupt his strategic command of U.S. forces. The incident underscores the failure of past and present administrations to confront China about its cyberespionage. Beijing’s rapidly expanding technological reach now allows it to extend its belligerence right into the White House.
Cleric: ‘Rend the Jews asunder!’ Morsi: ‘Amen!’
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi attended Islamic prayers on October 19 led by Sheikh Futouh Abd Al-Nabi Mansour. Mansour’s concluding tirade aired on Egyptian television: “Oh Allah, absolve us of our sins, strengthen us, and grant us victory over the infidels. Oh Allah, deal with the Jews and their supporters. Oh Allah, disperse them, rend them asunder. Oh Allah, demonstrate your might and greatness upon them. Show us your omnipotence, oh Lord.” The camera also caught Morsi, head bowed, nodding and, after every phrase, repeating “Amen.” Morsi, the former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, has also been called on to denounce recent inflammatory statements made by the current leader of the Islamist group, but has remained silent.
Lebanon Soon to leave Iran
A car bomb killed Maj. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan, Lebanon’s intelligence chief, along with seven others on October 19. Syria is believed to be behind the assassination. After al-Hassan’s funeral, hundreds of protesters marched against the offices of Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati. Mikati is viewed as being too friendly with Syria’s Bashar Assad and Hezbollah, which forms part of the Lebanese government. Pressure is mounting on Syria and on the Hezbollah-led government in Lebanon. Watch for Syria and Lebanon to ultimately align not with Iran but with Germany and a bloc of “moderate” Arab states.
Flight stopped: Tel Aviv to Cairo
Israel’s largest airline, El Al, is looking to cancel all flights from Tel Aviv to Cairo, Egypt, indefinitely. Under the 1979 peace treaty, Israel and Egypt agreed to keep flights between the two nations operational. “In the absence of a business justification, and in light of the financial resources involved in providing this service (high-security guidelines), El Al is unable to continue to bear the burden of these heavy costs, and therefore our intention is to end the service to Cairo immediately,” El Al ceo Eliezer Shkedi wrote to Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in September. Although El Al is the only airline to offer direct flights between the two cities, deteriorating relations between the two countries over the past year has left the flights virtually empty.
Holy site, unholy enmity
Hundreds of Arab worshipers threw stones at Israeli police officers near the Western Wall on October 6, marking an uptick in violence during the Jewish fall holy day festival of Sukkot. Just after Muslim prayers concluded, swarms of Arabs on the Temple Mount began stoning the officers stationed below, prompting the officers to storm through the Mughrabi Gate and fire several stun grenades to disperse the riotous crowd.
The Temple Mount has long been a source of contention between Jews and Palestinians. Palestinian resentment over Jewish presence in the area has led to multiple violent protests over the years. Expect more clashes at the Temple Mount and in Jerusalem. Tension in this city is prophesied to explode, with East Jerusalem falling under Arab control.
Firing rockets at civilians resumes
Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants resumed launching rockets into southern Israel from Gaza on October 8. The rocket attack, which consisted of more than 40 rockets, was the first since June. The Israeli Air Force responded by striking a terror tunnel in northern Gaza and a training camp in Beit Lahiya. No casualties were reported.
Hurricane Sandy strikes
At least 69 people were killed by Hurricane Sandy in the Caribbean. The worst damage was in Haiti, the region’s poorest nation. Massive flooding caused mudslides to engulf buildings and swept flimsy shacks out to sea. Almost three quarters of the nation’s crops were destroyed in the hardest-hit areas. More than 50 people were reported dead. According to the government, 200,000 people became homeless.
In Cuba, 11 people were reported dead along with widespread damage to around 130,000 homes. One fifth to a third of the nation’s coffee crop was said to be destroyed. The state-run newspaper Granmarun said the economy took a huge hit and that rebuilding will take years. Jamaica reported major flooding in rural areas and one death.
In the Bahamas, two people were killed. Two more people were killed in the Dominican Republic while reportedly attempting to cross a river. Parts of its capital, Santo Domigo, were submerged, but flooding was worst in the southern part of the country. One death was reported in Puerto Rico.
How not to fix your economy
Argentina may soon stop paying its debts and stiff its creditors as President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner tightens her grip on the economy.
Already Argentina stands accused of rigging its national inflation number, which allows it to underpay investors in its inflation-linked bonds. In 2001, Argentina fired its statisticians and began reporting inflation rates that consistently seemed low. Foreign mistrust was compounded by Argentina’s decision to seize control of Spanish-owned oil producer ypfsa earlier this year. This has impaired the nation’s ability to borrow money on the international market.
It has also ignited a rush to get money out of the country before the government seizes it. To combat the number of investors pulling their assets out of Argentina, politicians have imposed strict currency controls. This has only increased people’s desire to expatriate their wealth.
Facing capital flight and a frozen bond market, Argentina has resorted to printing currency to pay its bills. This has caused the Argentine peso to plummet in value and sent real inflation rates to more than double the official 9 percent.
But there is always a cost to stiffing your creditors. On October 20, Kirchner ordered Argentina’s navy to abandon a frigate that was seized by Ghana on October 2. A Ghana court ordered the seizure due to Argentina’s 2001 default on $300 million in debt, which is now owed to U.S.-based investment firm Elliot Management. The Argentine Frigate Libertad was in Ghana on a training mission.
As Argentina’s economy has deteriorated, the Kirchner government has focused on populism and has ramped up its rhetoric about retaking the Falkland Islands from Great Britain, instead of proposing real solutions to its problems. Expect more of it.
Drug war rages on
Mexican law enforcement found 16 bullet-ridden bodies inside an abandoned van beside a road in the western state of Guerrero in September. Authorities believe the victims were casualties of an ongoing turf war between two drug cartels, the Michoacan Family and the Knights Templar. Eleven other bodies were found on a nearby highway in August. Over 55,000 people have been killed in violent drug wars since 2006 when President Felipe Calderón deployed Mexican armed forces to combat the powerful drug cartels. America’s ravenous appetite for deadly drugs—cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and others—is fueling what the United Nations estimates is a $142 billion-a-year business, and it’s destroying the nation of Mexico.
Army on ‘high alert’
For the first time since the end of apartheid, the South African military was put on high alert. Commanders took this extraordinary precaution during September in preparation for a speech to be given by firebrand ex-politician Julius Malema to a crowd of disgruntled soldiers in the Johannesburg area. During the speech, Malema told the soldiers to mobilize in a disciplined way to save their jobs. Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula accused Malema of trying to “mobilize against the state.” Malema is hoping that the ruling African National Congress party will oust President Jacob Zuma as its leader at its national conference this December—and reverse the decision to expel him from the party. However this situation plays out, Malema’s political meddling and his xenophobic rants against white business owners will continue to destabilize South Africa.
Random shootings cause chaos
Reports of 22 random, close-call shootings at vehicles in four Michigan counties placed residents on edge and disrupted normal routines. Fifteen attacks between October 16 and 18 are believed to be linked to one serial shooter. Law enforcement authorities went on high alert and collaborated in investigations. The motivation behind the shootings was not known. No one was injured although there were some “very, very close calls,” according to Sheriff Mike Bouchard. Sheriff Bouchard and others fear that this shooting spree could devolve into something like the “senseless,” three-week Washington, d.c., sniper shootings of 2002.
Canada: Iran a security threat
On September 7, the Canadian government closed its embassy in Tehran, Iran, and requested that all Iranian diplomats in Canada leave the country within five days. The move caught diplomats around the world by surprise.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird made the announcement from Vladivostok, Russia, where he was attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. “Iran is among the world’s worst violators of human rights. It shelters and materially supports terrorist groups,” Baird said in explaining the decision. He further cited Iran’s support of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, its failure to comply with United Nations resolutions on its nuclear program, and its threats against Israel. He also referenced Iran’s “blatant disregard of the Vienna Convention that guarantees protection of diplomatic personnel.” This observation followed the November 2011 storming of the British Embassy in Tehran by Iranian students, who ransacked its offices. Baird also stated that concerns over the safety of Canadian Embassy staff contributed to the decision to close the embassy.
Relations between Canada and Iran have been strained since the 1979 hostage crisis. Iran’s Foreign Ministry called Canada’s move “hasty and extreme” as well as “hostile behavior [by] the current racist government in Canada” and hinted at some form of response.
No winners in drug-tainted cycling titles
On October 21, the International Cycling Union stripped seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong from all his titles and all 14 years of his racing history. His was a fairy-tale story that inspired untold thousands. He was a cancer survivor, an underdog cyclist who bounced back to win a record seven titles in a row and beat the French at their own game. Now, the world knows Lance beat the Tour field the same way he beat cancer: using drugs.
International Cycling Union President Pat McQuaid was “sickened” by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (usada) investigation that provided “overwhelming” evidence that Lance was a serial drug-taker who helped orchestrate “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program” in the sport’s history.
The blow to the credibility of the sport is so huge that the Tour de France will not award Lance’s gold medals to the silver medalists. Drug usage is so widespread that it is unlikely the other podium finishers were any cleaner. A whopping 20 of the 21 cyclists to make it to the podium between 1999 and 2005 (the years Lance won gold) have since been tied to doping, according to the usada.
The story is a sad reflection of America’s general declining morality. Similar scandals have rocked other sports, but this crisis of character goes well beyond sports. The win-at-all-costs mindset infects business, politics and many other arenas. The impacts are national in scope. They begin with damaged families and result in broken economies and nations.
Violent crime rates on the rise
Year-to-year violent crime rates in the United States rose for the first time in nearly 20 years, according to a report released by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. The October 17 report indicated that the trend of declining year-to-year violent crime rates since 1993 was reversed in 2011, when the rate rose by 17 percent. Property crime—which includes burglary, larceny, shoplifting, auto-theft, arson and vandalism—rose 11 percent. Simple assaults increased by 22 percent to 5 million cases. Researchers estimate that less than half of all crimes are even reported to the police. Geopolitical, social, moral and spiritual trends, as well as Bible prophecy, forecast an explosion of violence in America’s cities that will shatter previous records.
Teen sexting linked to risky sexual behavior
One out of every seven Los Angeles high school students with a cell phone has sent a sexually explicit text message or photo, according to a recently published study. The research found that those same students are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior. The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, discovered that L.A. teens who had sent pornographic texts (known as “sexts”) were seven times more likely to be sexually active than those who never “sexted.” “What we really wanted to know is, is there a link between sexting and taking risks with your body? And the answer is a resounding yes,” said Eric Rice, a social network researcher from the University of Southern California, who led the study. A similar study of high-schoolers in Houston, Texas, released this summer revealed that one in four students had sent a nude photo of themselves either by sexting or by e-mail. The same conclusion was drawn in that study: The teens sexting were involved in risky sex behavior.