7 Challenges Facing President Obama

7 Challenges Facing President Obama

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The state of America’s economy means he will face some brutal decisions.

There are a lot of ecstatic people in America right now. America has just voted to re-elect Barack Obama as its president. However, the economic realities facing this nation cannot be fixed by something as simple as an election. Before the next four years are out, this president may regret even setting foot in politics. Here are some gargantuan challenges that need to be solved—or we will all pay the price.

Challenge 1: Conceptualize $1 trillion

One million seconds is 12 days. One billion seconds is more than 31 years. One trillion seconds is about 31,688 years!

That is what a trillion is in seconds. In dollars, America goes more than $1 trillion further into debt every year. The federal government’s total yearly budget is only $3.7 trillion. So, close to a third of our total spending per year is borrowed. That means that if the new president wants to suddenly balance the budget, he will have to cut almost a third of the entire federal budget.

Most of the budget-balancing would need to be done by cutting funding—because there simply is not enough left to tax. According to Mike Shedlock from Global Economic Trend Analysis, even if the government taxed 100 percent of profits from every corporation in America and confiscated every single asset of the super-wealthy (like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates), it still wouldn’t even get close to balancing the budget. We would still have to “take the combined salaries of all players in the nfl, Major League Baseball, the nba and the nhl, cut military spending by $254 billion, and tax everything people make above $250,000 at a 100 percent tax rate,” Shedlock says.

That’s unrealistic. But so is the expectation that America can keep borrowing trillions forever.

Of the more than $1 trillion America borrowed last year, about half was money the Federal Reserve created out of thin air. Why did the Fed do it that way? Because foreigners would not lend it at the interest rates America wanted.

This is a clear sign that America’s deficit is dangerously unsustainable.

And regardless of whether President Obama decides to cut spending, increase taxes or both, our deficit will inflict huge gashes in an economy that is unstable and probably already in recession again.

Challenge 2: Come to grips with the nation’s debt

As huge as America’s deficit is, the bigger threat is America’s practically unfathomable debt. America’s official federal debt is over $16 trillion, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. America has promised its citizens tens of trillions more in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits. Laurence Kotlikoff, professor of economics at Boston University, puts America’s total liabilities at a mind-boggling $222 trillion. Go back and re-conceptualize a trillion.

Not all of this money is due at once, but increasing portions will be as America’s 80 million baby boomers retire. There is not a chance that America can pay this bill.

President Obama will have to cut many if not most of the promises that have been made to retirees—and even if he cuts them all, his government will still owe that official $16 trillion.

The most imminently dangerous part about this debt is refinancing risk. America is constantly borrowing money to pay back money that is coming due. Right now, borrowing rates are good, because Europe appears to be in worse shape. But when Europe eventually gets its act together—and it will—America won’t have as many willing lenders.

Challenge 3: Get a handle on uncontrollable welfare dependency

The U.S. federal government now funds 79 welfare programs: 11 programs just for housing assistance, 12 for social services, three for energy and utility assistance, 12 for food aid, 12 for various education assistance—on top of nine for vocational training, three for childcare and child development, seven for medical assistance and 10 providing cash assistance.

Add to that a myriad of welfare-type programs at the local city and county levels.

The total price tag for just federal and state welfare programs came to almost $1 trillion in 2011, according to the Heritage Foundation (see Challenge 1). So almost a third of America’s yearly budget now goes to welfare.

And if nothing is done, the share of welfare spending in the federal budget will dramatically increase. Under the current 10-year budget, federal welfare spending alone will total $1.57 trillion by 2022.

There is no easy fix. In fact, there may be no fix at all. About one in three Americans get some sort of government handout. Politicians can cut spending—but not without massively damaging the economy. The economy is addicted to government spending. There are whole industries that cater to welfare dependency. Go cold turkey, and the president can expect massive economic, if not social, upheaval.

Challenge 4: Work with a corrupt and collapsing banking system

In 2010, U.S. regulators told America’s biggest banks that they needed to make plans for preventing collapse. The regulators emphasized that the banks needed to consider radical measures to prevent failure and that they could no longer count on government support. Five years after the 2008 Wall Street meltdown, the banking system is still no more secure. Bank insiders know it isn’t safe, and the one thing propping it up—the heavily indebted federal government—says it is now pulling out.

Add to this intractable problem several others: money-laundering scandals, rogue trading, the MF Global implosion, the unfolding libor scandal, and record-low interest rates. The global banking system may be even more prone to economic disasters than it was in 2008!

Yet, because America’s economy is debt-based and consumption-driven, if regulators try to rein in the big banks, they will have to reduce lending. Reduced lending means the economy will slow even further. Jobs will be lost, tax revenues will fall, welfare usage will increase, and paying the debt will become that much harder. It’s an unsolvable Catch-22 for President Obama.

Challenge 5: Find a magical job fairy

America is in the midst of its worst-ever post-recession job recovery. At the current pace of job growth, America is still 2½ to three years away from getting the jobs back that it lost in the 2007 recession. Then the nation still must find more jobs for all the people who entered the workforce over the ensuing eight years.

Regardless of what either presidential candidate would do or says he would do, the jobs are not coming back—because they were fake jobs in the first place. The housing bubble was a product of politicians forcing big banks to give loans to unqualified buyers and the Federal Reserve trying to goose the economy by artificially lowering interest rates. The result was a ballooning money supply that flowed into real estate—and tons of builder, agent, appraiser and banker jobs that have since evaporated.

Meanwhile, the effects of the housing bubble masked the greatest period of industrial and manufacturing outsourcing in U.S. history. Due to a combination of high labor costs, high taxation, high regulatory burden, high environmental compliance costs, advancing technology and the new global economy, many U.S. jobs are now filled overseas, and made-in-America products and services are now imported.

As President Obama’s green energy/solar power initiative proved, attracting manufacturing to America is virtually impossible even with massive government subsidies—which may soon be unaffordable. It was a campaign promise that was too good to be true. And dozens more of those empty promises will be ringing in our ears in future years.

Challenge 6: Fix a failing education system

For the first time in history, American students owe more in student loans than the country owes in credit card debt. Yet what do students get for that? Increasingly, it is a lifetime of indentured servitude at a job that barely pays the interest on their loans.

This is a huge problem, because many of these students will become economically nonfunctional—trapped in jobs paying the bills instead of generating healthy incomes, creating meaningful jobs and building the economy.

Government policy that encourages everyone to go to college—and to borrow money to do it—has driven up tuition so high that in many cases it no longer pays to even get a degree. The accreditation cartel limits the creation of new colleges, thus giving a virtual monopoly to the existing institutions. Meanwhile, existing schools try to make themselves appear better by dumbing down course work and inflating grades.

President Obama needs, if nothing else, an American workforce that is healthy and strong. But he’ll have one that is operating well shy of its potential.

Challenge 7: Face the economic cost of America’s moral slide

Fifty years ago, the majority of Americans went to bed with their doors unlocked. They left their keys in the car in case someone needed to borrow it. They never thought twice about letting their children walk to school.

We don’t live in that America anymore. The nation has tumbled through a decades-long moral slide, and that decline has a high price tag. How much does increased crime cost? Corporate compliance? Tax software to prove the taxpayer isn’t cheating the government? Think of how much money would be saved if businesses were never robbed, websites were never hacked, billion-dollar lawsuits were extinct, police did not have to track down criminals, and courts and prisons did not have to process convicts.

Think about how much more wealthy America would be if people just practiced the Ten Commandments: no more lying, stealing, coveting, murdering. Now there’s a plan you can really believe in. As Bruce Walker, in the American Thinker, wrote in 2008, “[T]he cool, practical, financial argument against sin is so overwhelming, the number crunching of any serious cost-benefit analysis of the trillions lost through our acceptance of sin is so convincing, that hopeful people can dream that a wise leader will champion the fight against sin as the clearest way to make us wealthier and happier people.”

Don’t get your hopes up. It didn’t matter who voters chose at the ballot box today, America’s moral slide will not be turned. There are 230-plus years of U.S. history that prove it.

America’s debt, its welfare mentality, and its crumbling education system and morals are all the product of its collective choices. We are now eating the fruit of those choices. Economic indicators suggest another economic downturn has already started. A greater economic depression is on the way, and there is little that can be done to mitigate it.

America’s past prosperity will not return until the whole economic system has been wiped out and a new one built on a different foundation. Its financial cardiac arrest has already started, and it will take more than a presidential election to bring prosperity back to this nation.

Is Hezbollah on the Way Out?

Is Hezbollah on the Way Out?


Is the Shiite terrorist group losing control in Lebanon and Syria?

Rumors are circulating that Lebanese-based terrorist group and political party Hezbollah is debating whether or not to stop supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad in the ongoing war in Syria. Publicly, Hezbollah has not been open about any military support of the Alawite ruling party, and it is only recently that the media has directed any attention to the issue. The rumors of withdrawing support haven’t been confirmed or denied, but their existence indicates a trend—Hezbollah is feeling vulnerable and becoming more cautious.

In early October, the Free Syrian Army (fsa) captured 13 armed Hezbollah militants in full uniform. There are also reports of a steady stream of militia casualties returning back to Lebanon from Syria. Hezbollah originally denied allegations of providing military aid to President Assad in his crackdown against the rebels, but in the face of recent events, it has become increasingly more difficult to hide its involvement. The fsa has threatened to bring the battle to Beirut if Hezbollah doesn’t back down in Syria.

Assad has been accused of atrocities and human rights violations against his people during the struggle to put down the current rebellion. Hezbollah, the self-described “Organization of the Oppressed,” has waged an aggressive social campaign to win the hearts and minds of the Lebanese people. Throughout Lebanon it runs or heavily subsidizes multiple hospitals, clinics and schools, as well as providing support to local farmers and financial aid to the poor. But its support of Syria in its current civil strife has cast a shadow across the humanitarian reputation it’s been working to build. Now it is facing criticism at home from those who feel that supporting Assad is a hypocritical move on Hezbollah’s part.

Hezbollah appears to still maintain a strong hold over Lebanon, but it is facing pressure from within. It is still supported by the Shiite majority, but March 14, its Sunni rival, is increasingly more willing to speak out against it.

According to Al Akhbar, nicknamed “Hezbollah’s newspaper,” the previous Lebanese ruling party, Saad Hariri’s Future Movement, has allied with al-Jamaa al-Islamiya—none other than the Lebanese branch of the Muslim Brotherhood—both of which are Sunni groups. The Future Movement falls under the March 14 umbrella: a group of political parties that are in opposition to Hezbollah, but so far have not been able to organize or gain enough momentum to cause a power shift. But the possibility of a power shift is now the greatest that it has been since Hezbollah essentially gained control of the government. Support from the Muslim Brotherhood will serve to encourage March 14 to increase its opposition.

Hezbollah may weaken its stance in Syria in order to protect its interests in Lebanon. It is facing increased opposition politically and will have to stop sending mixed messages to the Lebanese people if it doesn’t want to further embolden its political opponents.

The intelligence think tank Stratfor predicts that if Syria’s regime falls and the country becomes Sunni-led, Hezbollah will have to integrate itself further into the Lebanese political system in order to survive. If that scenario comes to pass, nations with regional interests like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, France and the United States will likely put pressure on the organization to disarm. Further integration with the Lebanese military and intelligence establishments would provide legitimacy to the militia in the eyes of many.

According to Stratfor’s analysis, “Hezbollah has faced pressure to disarm over the past decade, but it will have a much harder time resisting this pressure without a strong ally in Damascus protecting its interests in Lebanon. A possible solution to this dilemma would be Hezbollah’s formal integration into the official Lebanese security and intelligence apparatus …. In other words, Hezbollah’s fights become Lebanon’s fights.”

The other scenario that Stratfor foresees is the possibility of Syria splitting into two autonomous entities—a divided nation. If the current instability leads to civil wars in both Syria and Lebanon, Shiites and Alawites (the current ruling sect in Syria) could join together and carve out a “contiguous Alawite-Shiite mini-state.” Stratfor indicates that Hezbollah appears to have already prepared for this contingency.

Sectarian violence breaking out in Lebanon, compiled with the situation in Syria, would further destabilize the Middle East. According to the prophecy in Psalm 83 (read “A Mysterious Prophecy” for further explanation), Lebanon and Syria will ultimately not be allied with Iran, but with more moderate nations like Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Jordan. Saudi Arabia and Turkey have been increasing cooperation with each other and other Sunni states in an attempt to combat the growing Iranian hegemony in the region.

Lebanon is dominated by Shiites for the moment, but if Hezbollah continues to weaken in the face of opposition at home and complications in Syria, the power may shift to the Sunnis, adding one more nation to the prophetic Psalm 83 alliance.

‘The Stockpiles Were in Iraq’

From the December 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

In 2004, terrorism expert John Loftus granted an interview with Larry Elder concerning the media’s lack of interest in the origins of the 20 tons of chemical weapons found in Jordan that year. Loftus is a respected former Army officer and Justice Department prosecutor.

John Loftus: There’s a lot of reason to think [the source of the chemicals] might be Iraq. We captured Iraqi members of al Qaeda, who’ve been trained in Iraq, planned for the mission in Iraq, and now they’re in Jordan with nerve gas. That’s not the kind of thing you buy in a grocery store. You have to have obtained it from someplace.

Larry Elder: They couldn’t have obtained it from Syria?

Loftus: Syria does have the ability to produce certain kinds of nerve gasses, but in small quantities. The large stockpiles were known to be in Iraq. The best U.S. and allied intelligence say that in the 10 weeks before the Iraq war, Saddam’s Russian adviser told him to get rid of all the nerve gas. … So they shipped it across the border to Syria and Lebanon and buried it. … [T]here’s no doubt these guys confessed on Jordanian television that they received the training for this mission in Iraq. … And from the description, it appears this is the form of nerve gas known as VX. It’s very rare and very tough to manufacture … one of the most destructive chemical mass production weapons you can use …. They wanted to build three clouds, a mile across, of toxic gas. A whole witch’s brew of nasty chemicals that were going to go into this poison cloud, and this would have gone over shopping malls, hospitals.

Elder: You said the Russians told Saddam, “There is going to be an invasion. Get rid of your chemical and biological weapons.”

Loftus: Sure. It would only bring the United Nations down on their heads if they were shown to really have weapons of mass destruction. It’s not generally known, but the cia has found 41 different material breaches where Saddam did have a weapons of mass destruction program of various types. It was completely illegal. But no one could find the stockpiles. And the liberal press seems to be focusing on that.

Elder: It seems to me that this is a huge, huge story.

Loftus: It’s embarrassing to the [press]. They’ve staked their reputations that this stuff wasn’t there. And now all of a sudden we have al Qaeda agents from Iraq showing up with weapons of mass destruction.

Elder: David Kay [the man in charge of searching for wmd in Iraq] said, in an interim report, that there was a possibility that wmd components were shipped to Syria.

Loftus: A possibility? We had a Syrian journalist who defected to Paris in January. The guy is dying of cancer, and he said, “Look, my friends in Syrian intelligence told me exactly where the stuff is buried.” He named three sites in Syria, and the Israelis have confirmed the three sites. They know where the stuff is, but the problem is that the United States can’t just go around invading Arab countries. … We know from Israeli and defectors’ intelligence that the son of the Syrian defense minister was paid 50 million bucks to bring the stuff across the border and bury it.

—Townhall.com, May 6, 2004


From the December 2012 Trumpet Print Edition



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 relationsat 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.

Middle east


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.

Latin America



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.

S. Africa 

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.

How Britain Forgot Thanksgiving

How Britain Forgot Thanksgiving

Getty Images

What Britain’s Bonfire Night was really about.

The famous rhyme associated with bonfire night, or Guy Fawkes day, begins, “Remember, remember, the 5th of November.” It’s repeated thousands of times at this time of year. After all, who’d want to forget a celebration that involved lighting huge fires and shooting rockets into the air?

But the fact is, Britain has forgotten. Not the story of what November 5 celebrates, but how this day was originally celebrated—what it is all about. We’ve forgotten the most important part of what this day is meant to remind us.

Almost every year at school, I was taught what happened on November 5. A group of Catholic terrorists conspired to destroy the government of England. They filled the cellars under the houses of Parliament with gunpowder, ready to detonate on the State Opening of Parliament, November 5. Their main target was the protestant King James i. But on that day, the House of Lords, the House of Commons, the king’s close advisers and relatives, which included the most senior judges in the kingdom and the bishops of the Church of England, were all gathered in the same building.

Had Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators succeeded, it would have been as if terrorists hit the White House, the Pentagon, the Supreme Court, the Senate and the Congress—as well as taking out a good chunk of America’s religious leaders.

It almost happened. But in late October, according to the traditional version of events, Lord Monteagle received an anonymous letter warning him not to attend Parliament. He alerted the authorities, who discovered Guy Fawkes in the cellars with barrels of gunpowder on the night of November 4.

That much is remembered. But the nation’s response has been completely forgotten. In all my history lessons on the subject, I’d never heard of it.

In early 1606, the government passed a law so that the events of November 5 would be memorialized forever. Why? So that “this unfeigned thankfulness may never be forgotten, but be had in a perpetual remembrance, that all ages to come may yield praises” to God.

Parliament gave God the credit for their deliverance. “This great and infinite blessing” they wrote, came “merely from God.” All the “honor, glory and praise” went to His “most holy name.”

November 5 was set aside as a day of thanksgiving—the original annual day of Thanksgiving, 16 years before the pilgrims celebrated their harvest in Plymouth. The Act of Parliament commanded all in England to pray on that day, to “give unto Almighty God thanks for this most happy deliverance.”

Bonfire night wasn’t about remembering gunpowder and plots, or setting off fireworks. It was a day to thank God for the blessings He had given the nation, and for His divine protection in preserving those blessings.

The celebrations with fires and rockets aren’t wrong. And they do seem to have been a part of how the day was originally celebrated. But thanking God for His deliverance is far more important.

The plot may sound a little kooky, but it came frighteningly close to success. Guy Fawkes used 20 times the amount of gunpowder necessary to destroy the building. That gunpowder had been sitting in the cellars since February, when Parliament was originally scheduled to open. The opening was repeatedly delayed, forcing Fawkes to continually replace the old gunpowder with new supplies, until the plot was finally discovered eight months later.

Had Parliament opened on time, the last 400 years could have been dramatically different.

But it’s not just the originally meaning of Bonfire Night that we’ve forgotten. We no longer give thanks to God.

We used to. As recently as World War ii, our leaders gave God credit for miracles of deliverance. But we don’t talk about that today.

A few weeks ago, I visited Dover Castle. As well as being an impressive medieval fortress, it also served as naval headquarters in 1940, when British and French soldiers were evacuated from Dunkirk. There, organizers have done a great job of memorializing the evacuation, creating an exhibit that succinctly shows the magnitude of what happened on those beaches and reminding the world of the heroism shown by so many to bring so many safely to England.

But there’s something, or rather someone, completely missing from the exhibit: God. The Dunkirk evacuation was just one of several occasions when the nation gathered to give thanks to God for His deliverance. But that history was absent.

“Some people may call the Dunkirk evacuation a miracle,” said our tour guide, “but I put it down to the organization of Vice Admiral Bertram Ramsay.” Their website is more brazen. “Vice Admiral Bertram Ramsay pulled off a miracle,” it says.

I’m sure Admiral Ramsay was a remarkable man. But God pulled off the miracle.

The exhibit neglected to mention that on May 26, 1940, the king called for a day of national prayer. Shops closed as the Church of England, the Catholic Church, Jews and other religions appealed to God for help. The Times described how the king and queen attended the service at Westminster Abby, with Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, along with the prime minister and all the leaders of Britain. “In the cities and towns leaders of civic life attended church on this Day of National Prayer at the head of their people,” the Times wrote. “From peaceful village churches in the remote countryside the same prayers were offered, just as in these fateful hours the same thoughts are in people’s minds.” Afterward, the archbishop of Canterbury called on everyone to pause at noon every day and pray for deliverance.

The exhibit rightly praised the bravery of the men who flocked to Dunkirk in their little ships. But I saw no mention of the remarkable weather. As the Daily Telegraph wrote on July 8, 1940, “Those who are accustomed to the Channel testify to the strangeness of this calm; they are deeply impressed by the phenomenon of nature by which it became possible for tiny craft to go back and forth in safety.”

“I have talked to officers and men who have gotten safely back to England, and all of them tell of these two phenomena,” continued the article. “The first was the great storm which broke over Flanders on Tuesday, May 28, and the other was the great calm which settled on the English Channel during the days following.” The storm grounded the German aircraft, while the calm allowed the little ships to sail to France.

“The fortitude displayed and the success achieved are to me, at least, miracles and an answer to the prayers which rose up from the Empire, and from millions outside it on May 26. Let us not forget to return thanks” read one letter to the Times.

“Surely our prayers have been answered in the merciful deliverance of our Expeditionary Force from complete destruction?” another letter said. “Thanksgiving is surely as important as supplication, and there must be many who feel, like myself, that we ought to have a special day of thanksgiving to God for His wonderful answer to our prayers.” The Times wrote that these letters “are two out of a very large number addressed to the Times in the same sense.”

On June 9, Britain went back to church for a national day of thanksgiving. “One thing can be certain about tomorrow’s thanksgiving in our churches,” wrote the Telegraph. “From none will the thanks ascend with greater sincerity or deeper fervor than from the officers and men who have seen the hand of God, powerful to save, delivering them from the hands of a mighty foe, who, humanly speaking, had them utterly at his mercy.”

Even Time Magazine spotted the connection. “Since the beginning of the war, Great Britain has observed two national Days of Prayer,” it wrote, April 7, 1941. “The first was the dark Sunday, May 26, 1940, when the fagged-out British Expeditionary Force was fleeing under torrential Nazi fire toward Dunkirk beach. Five days later most of that Army got safely home through the fogs off Dunkirk.” At the start of the evacuation, the most optimistic estimates said that Britain would be able to rescue 45,000 men. The final total was 338,000.

Britain’s top newspapers joined the call for a national day of prayer and then gave thanks to God. This is an important part of that history—something that touched every individual in the nation. Thanksgiving was once a part of our national life. It isn’t any more. That history has been forgotten.

That’s not to say that Britain genuinely repented back in World War ii, or earlier. But at least we thanked God for His help and blessings.

And it’s not just Britain that’s forgotten thanksgiving. America may have a day called “Thanksgiving,” but to many people it has about as much to do with thanking God for His blessings as Bonfire Night does.

This lack of thanksgiving gets to the heart of Britain’s problems. We have forgotten God. We don’t thank Him, we don’t look to Him for protection and we certainly won’t obey Him. That is why there’s a time of great suffering awaiting the British and American people. Conditions will keep getting worse until the nation has no choice but to turn to God for help and guidance.

At that time, with all nations looking to Him, God will be able to create utopia—a wonderful world with bounty for all. His laws lead to all humanity living a joyful way of life.

Then, as the Americans say, it really will be Thanksgiving every day.

How Would Jesus Vote for President?

Some commentators in America are calling today’s election the most important election in more than a generation. But no matter which candidate wins, he will be facing enormous problems both at home and abroad. Both sides claim to have the solutions—and yet the problems continue to multiply, no matter which political party is in office. So what should we do? And how would Jesus Christ vote?