Just one week after the devastation caused by superstorm Sandy, East Coast residents are forced to deal with another troublesome storm.
November 8, 2012
Just a week after getting blasted by superstorm Sandy—the so-called “storm of the century”—the East Coast is enduring another blast of bad weather: a nor’easter nicknamed Athena.
Early this week there were still over 1.3 million people without power across the eastern seaboard. Many of those are in New York and New Jersey, which took the brunt of Sandy. The superstorm created an estimated $30-50 billion in total economic damages. The widespread power outages have also choked the gasoline supply—no power, no pumps. Meanwhile, sanitation crews have been working 12-hour shifts in order to clean out all of the trash created by the storm.
But now a nor’easter is adding insult to injury and slowing down the recovery efforts.
Starting Wednesday night, bitter winds and freezing rain hit the coast from New Hampshire to Connecticut. New York and New Jersey were the first to feel the storm, which dumped a thick covering of wet snow, even setting records in certain parts of New York. The weight of the snow plus the 50-55-mph winds snapped trees that were weakened by Sandy and downed power lines, leaving hundreds of thousands of residents in the dark yet again. New Jersey reported around 160,000 new power outages Thursday morning. New York City and Westchester County reported an additional 55,000 new power outages, and Long Island had 60,000 new outages in addition to the 300,000 customers already without power after the Sandy.
Airlines at the major airports were finally starting to come back on track this week after about 20,000 cancellations in the last week or so, but were forced to cancel over 2,000 flights over Wednesday and Thursday.
Residents in the areas hit hardest by the recent superstorm, like New Jersey and Staten Island, are somewhat disheartened by the setback. One Staten Island resident complained on Twitter that his son just had power restored at his home, and then two days later it was back off again. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have been working to get momentum behind the restoration of power to those still without electricity, even flying in utility crews from California to help out. But the new storm has hampered the progress.
Normally nor’easters don’t pose much of a problem, but the region is in a severely weakened state in Sandy’s aftermath. It seems to just be one thing after the other. “I’m waiting for the locusts and pestilence next,” joked Governor Christie.
Destructive weather patterns are one of the curses that the United States and the other modern descendents of ancient Israel are facing. Our free booklet Why ‘Natural’ Disasters? explains why these catastrophes are happening and why they are increasing.
Syrian Crisis Solution: Britain Suggests Safe Exit for Assad
British Prime Minister David Cameron has floated the idea of a safe exit, with possible immunity from prosecution, for embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad.
In an interview on Tuesday with Al-Arabiya television in the United Arab Emirates, the British premier responded in a desperate tone to a question on what to do if Assad asked for a safe exit: “Done. Anything, anything to get that man out of the country and to have a safe transition in Syria.” Even though Cameron still would “favor [Assad] facing the full force of international law and justice for what he’s done,” the prime minister has indicated clear support for an arranged exit. “I am certainly not offering him an exit plan to Britain,” Cameron said, “but if he wants to leave, he could leave. That could be arranged.”
The solution-defying Syrian crisis is now in its 20th month and has recorded over 32,000 deaths. More than two people are being killed every hour in Syria. Reuters noted that “for all their firepower, Assad’s forces seem no closer to crushing their lightly armed opponents, who in turn have so far proved unable to topple the Syrian leader.”
Pro-Assad Russia and China have vetoed three draft resolutions of the United Nations Security Council that were anti-Assad. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has denounced the Syrian opposition’s precondition for talks on Assad stepping down as a desire for a “bloodbath.” On the other hand, anti-Assad rebels now claim control of most of Syria and have since moved their command center from Turkey to the areas they have liberated in Syria. Even though Assad’s enemies have failed to unite, making it complicated for the international community to support or arm them, these factions are meeting in Qatar to “forge a common front between civilians and rebels, Islamists and secularists, as well as groups outside and inside Syria” (Reuters, November 6).
In spite of the apparent strengths of pro-Assad forces, and the fractured nature of anti-Assad forces, the Syrian president’s days in power appear numbered.
Back in 1996, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry said the Bible indicated that there would be a drastic change in Syria’s political orientation. He said a prophecy in Psalm 83 showed how the Middle East was to split into two opposing power blocs—and that Syria and Iran would be on opposite sides. As Gerald Flurry predicted, it’s only a matter of time until “Syria will no longer align with Iran.” For more information on this critical Bible prophecy, read “How the Syrian Crisis Will End.”
Watching the Guy Fawkes Day parades and firework displays across Britain this week has been pretty fun. Some have been quite impressive, especially considering the English are a pleasantly understated people not prone to senseless flash and bombast. This year, one of the most interesting (and popular) shows occurred in Lewes, a town south of London famous for its annual Guy Fawkes celebration.
It wasn’t the fireworks, or the floats and decorations, that made this parade notable. Rather, it was one of the giant effigies featured, and then joyfully torched during the show. Planted right in the middle of the Lewes parade was a hulking effigy of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. That’s not all. They had her doing a Nazi salute while standing amid the rubble of Greece’s Acropolis.
Such blatant hostility toward Germany and its chancellor isn’t uncommon in Europe these days. And compared to the troubling anti-German, anti-Merkel scenes routinely coming out of Greece and other Mediterranean countries, the Lewes effigy is rather tame. Nevertheless, it was another small but noteworthy glimpse of the surging hostility in Britain toward the EU and one of its most powerful advocates, Germany.
Two weeks ago I wrote about how Britain is preparing to divorce from the EU. Since then, the tension between Britain and Europe has only intensified. If it continues like this, the November 22 EU summit is going to be a barn burner. The primary topic of discussion at the summit will be the EU budget, and whether or not it should be increased, frozen or reduced. The consensus among European nations is that the budget ought to be marginally increased or remain the same.
Britain ardently disagrees. This was made plain last week, when Britain’s Parliament, including numerous members of Prime Minister David Cameron’s party, not only voted against any increase in the EU budget, but demanded that the current budget be reduced. The vote is non-binding, meaning Mr. Cameron is not bound by English law to veto the budget increase. But Cameron is a modern-day politician, which makes him bound by political expediency. The prime minister surely understands that the only way to survive the EU summit—and perhaps even benefit domestically from it—is if he stands firm against an EU budget increase.
Of course, EU leaders are anxious and upset. Yesterday, Chancellor Merkel jetted to London to dine with Cameron and no doubt try to dissuade him from upending the EU summit. Here in Britain and Europe, many are coming to realize that there’s a lot at stake and that we may actually be coming into a milestone moment. Merkel’s trip to London “may be interpreted as a wake-up call for the British,” wrote Olaf Boehnke, a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations.
It is no coincidence that on the same day Merkel visited Cameron, virtually all of Britain’s main newspapers ran stories highlighting Germany’s mounting frustration.
“Listen, Britain. Germany’s Had Enough of You,” stated the headline in the Times. In the article, Alan Posener cites a recent editorial from the political editor of Bild, Germany’s most influential newspaper, making the case that Turkey is now more integrated and on better terms with Europe than Britain. “One way or another, Turkey is becoming more relevant to discussions on the future of Europe than Britain,’ concluded Posener.
The Telegraph was similarly dramatic, titling its article “Germany Is Losing Patience With Britain.” “When you spend time in both Britain and Germany,” wrote Mats Persson, “it is impossible not to notice how distant their stances on Europe have become.” Persson visits Germany often, has well-placed contacts and keeps abreast of the relationship. He writes that “recent reports suggest that Merkel’s frustrations have reached the point where she’s prepared to wave goodbye to Britain altogether.”
Meanwhile, German politicians and the German media—many of whom have up till now preferred to see Britain remain in the EU—are also beginning to more openly vent their frustration and hopelessness. Last month, Spiegel Online reported how Chancellor Merkel once went out of her way to keep Britain in Europe—but not anymore. Merkel’s hopes for a Europe with Britain “have now been dashed,” it wrote. “The German government is convinced that the Euro Group will be the core of a new, more deeply integrated Europe.” The article compared Britain to Statler and Waldorf, the two muppets that sit in a box and hurl insults at the performers on The Muppet Show. (Several British papers reported that the comparison came directly from a frustrated Angela Merkel.)
George Parker and Quentin Peel, writing in the Financial Times recently, lamented the inevitable divorce. “In spite of the personal rapport, the two leaders [Merkel and Cameron] are heading in different directions,” they wrote. “From Berlin’s perspective, this impending drama is just another staging post in Britain’s protracted departure from the European mainstream and—potentially—its exit from the EU altogether.”
“The mood towards the UK in the German political establishment is a mix of exasperation and deep concern,” they wrote.
It’s easy to see where this is headed. Sometimes an unhappy relationship can be temporarily preserved, even as resentment and frustration continue to mount, as long as one party still desires the relationship, and is willing to compromise and work hard to keep it alive. That’s kind of the way the Britain-EU relationship has been ever since Britain joined the European Community in January 1973.
But what happens when both sides in a relationship become resentful, frustrated and angry?
After congratulating President Barack Obama on his reelection victory, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the strategic alliance between Israel and the U.S. is stronger than ever. But the reality is, President Obama’s government has been the most hostile administration Israel has ever had to work with. Sixty-five percent of Israelis were hoping for a Romney victory. Now that that hasn’t happened, where does Israel go from here?
In sheer size and scope, a hurricane is considered the most devastating storm man can face. The combination of rains, winds and flooding, over an extended period of time, leads to large-scale destruction. Hurricane Sandy serves as an unprecedented example of how these destructive storms can impact a large area of our society. The pictures and video we see from the northeastern seaboard of the United States are catastrophic. Several million have been without power, water or heat. It is estimated that some 50 million people over 24 states have felt the effect of just this one storm. For many, the suffering continues. Reports are now coming in that the aftermath of the storm is far worse than what is being portrayed in the media.
God tells us why He allows these violent storms. These violent storms aren’t a coincidence or an effect of man-made causes. As Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry recently explained, these storms and disasters are biblical. Along with that understanding, God provides a warning. These catastrophes are prophesied in the Bible. And God warns us that these storms will increase.
We have been warned that as a nation we have rejected God, and as a result He has rejected us (Hosea 1:9). God has removed our blessings and our protection because we have turned away from Him (Hosea 2:8). God reveals that it is too late for us as a nation—but God does show us how, as individuals, we can weather the coming storms!
As He concluded His “sermon on the mount,” Jesus Christ referenced the violent destruction of a hurricane-like storm: “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:24-27).
These scriptures support the fact that God is not a respecter of persons: No one escapes the storm, but those who hear Christ’s sayings and do them will weather the destructive storm. It is the doers of God’s Word who have their house—their life—built on a rock! (James 1:22-25).
Soon after He began His sermon, Jesus showed us why His sayings are important and how we can build on a rock. “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17-19).
God’s law is a law of love (Romans 13:10) and is summarized in two great laws: love toward God and love toward our fellow man (Matthew 22:35-40). Practicing God’s law is what we must be doing if we are to weather the coming storms.
During His sermon, Jesus went into great detail about the relationship we need with God. This is the relationship we were meant to have with our Creator. Christ teaches us that God is our Father and we are His children—God is a Family! We are taught how to love and worship God. We are taught to exercise living faith—to trust God for our needs no matter the physical conditions. We are taught that there can’t be anyone or anything more important than God in our lives. Doing so transgresses God’s law of love, and we suffer when we allow that to happen: We can’t hold up to the rains, winds and flooding.
Likewise, in His same message, Christ taught us to love our neighbor. We are taught that God’s law of love governs the human relationships we share. Jesus Christ expands God’s law beyond our words and our deeds to include our thoughts. What is the attitude and intent in our relationship with others? Do we want to help or hurt others? Do we want to give or take from others? Are we treating others the way we would want to be treated? Are we willing to sacrifice for others?
These are God’s laws of love, and these are the words God expects us to live by (Matthew 4:4). When we do so, we build our lives on a rock. God is not a respecter of persons, but He is a respecter of righteousness. Character does count! Unfortunately, when the storms come, we see what evils we are capable of. As humans, our hearts—our thinking—are wrong (Jeremiah 17:9). We need God and we need His law of love to guide us.
“As the whirlwind passeth, so is the wicked no more: but the righteous is an everlasting foundation” (Proverbs 10:25). Those who reject God’s law allow their lives to be destroyed by the storm, but the righteous—those who build their life on God’s law—have an everlasting foundation! No matter what our trial or test, the most severe, destructive storm cannot cause us to falter if God’s law of love is the foundation we’ve built our lives on.
Greater storms are coming! Not all will be physical storms, but the rains, the winds and the floods will come. How will your house fare? How important it is that we build our lives on God’s law and have an everlasting foundation!