EU Budget Talks Fall Apart

EU Budget Talks Fall Apart

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Once again, EU leaders meet and fail to agree on anything.

EU leaders failed to agree on the next long term budget after a two-day meeting, November 22 to 23. Leaders went into the meeting bitterly divided on whether the 2014 to 2020 budget should be cut or raised, with 11 leaders threatening to veto the talks.

Much of the European press focused on Britain’s isolation in the talks. Britain’s Parliament gave Prime Minister David Cameron an almost impossible target of cutting the budget, while most other leaders wanted it raised. European Parliament leaders singled Britain out for condemnation ahead of the talks, portraying them as greedy and selfish, unwilling to stand with the rest of Europe in a time of trouble.

In reality, Britain’s position was merely the most extreme of many nations demanding cuts. Even without Britain’s dissension, a deal would not have been agreed upon this week. Leaders now plan to regroup for another summit later and hope to agree to a compromise early next year.

The botched budget talks demonstrate that the EU is too large and unwieldy to achieve much more unity. When times were good, it was only after much contention that EU leaders agreed a long term budget. Now, with money tight, it is a serious possibility they will fail to reach any agreement at all. In that case, the budget must be decided on a year-by-year basis, with spending on different items approved by qualified majority voting. It would be a slow, messy and inefficient way for Europe to move forward.

The slow consensus decision making between 27 nations cannot go on for much longer. Europe’s problems are too big to be solved this way.

The only solution is to have a smaller group of nations willing to surrender much of their power to central organization.

It is obvious that Britain will not be in this core group. But other EU nations will either move or be pushed to the outside too. Watch for the EU to coalesce into a tightly controlled group of 10.

Pope Debunks Christmas Myths

Pope Debunks Christmas Myths

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In his latest book, Pope Benedict refutes some of the most cherished myths of the Christmas story.

What’s the pope up to?

Barely has he launched his crusading Year of Faith, and his initiative for a “new evangelization” to garner in new converts to Roman Catholicism and draw back to the faith those who have wandered away—and he drops the bombshell last week declaring that Jesus Christ was no prophet. A statement more completely at odds with divinely revealed Scripture can hardly be imagined.

Now hard on the heels of that clangor comes the news that Benedict has come out and endorsed something that remnants of the true church of God, as established in its original form by Jesus Christ, have taught for centuries, in direct opposition to Roman Catholicism.

Believe it or not Pope Benedict has—in his latest book, The Infancy Narratives, his version of the history of events surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ—admitted that many of the traditions attached to the celebration of Christmas are false!

In one sweep of the hand, Benedict declares the traditional date and year of Christ’s birth as held by Christendom is false, that there were no animals at the manger scene, that no angels sang at the manger side thus refuting the tradition of singing Christmas carols, and that the traditional festivities surrounding Christmas are rooted in ancient pagan festivals.

When one considers that these very facts are those for which Herbert Armstrong and latterly Gerald Flurry have been condemned for exposing them (see our article “Why Christmas Is So Important to God”), it does come as rather a surprise to see Pope Benedict in apparent agreement.

But what is the pope up to?

He’s really thrown a cat among the Christmas pigeons right at the time that the whole of Christendom is gearing up to celebrate these same old traditions in the same old way, a way endorsed by the Vatican for centuries.

One cannot doubt the towering intellect of Pope Benedict xvi. Nor can one refute the brilliance of his scholarship on this and many other subjects. But in terms of Benedict’s refutation of the reality of Christ as the foremost of the prophets, this is consistent with the Roman Catholic rejection of the true prophetic gospel message. Whereas the original gospel is the prophesied good news of the coming Kingdom of God, the religion adopted by Roman Catholicism has, since the time of Simon the magician, centered on the personage of Jesus Christ.

Indeed, Pope Benedict has gone to the trouble to emphasize that prime aspect of Catholicism’s teaching in a recent dissertation on the subject as Catholic World News recently headlined in their piece titled, “Concentrate on Jesus, not end-of-the-world prophecies, Pope tells audience” (November 19).

However, as Bible students so readily know, Jesus Christ’s gospel is the prophetic good news of the coming Kingdom of God. His whole work during his earthly ministry was a work of prophecy, as has been the work of the Word from the very beginning!

But to find a pope suddenly declaring publicly his apparent agreement with the consistent message of the actual church that Jesus Christ founded—that Christmas is sourced in rank paganism, many of its practices not remotely biblical—seems rather historic.

Again we ask, what is Pope Benedict up to?

In the process of the new evangelism, is he about to introduce a new method of observing the birth of Christ?

There’s something afoot in Rome—something really profound.

We shall just have to even more closely “watch and pray” according to the admonition of the chief Prophet, Jesus Christ (Mark 13:32-33), to discern what is truly emerging from the source that looks like a lamb but speaks like a dragon (Revelation 13:11).

Israel vs. Hamas: The Story Behind the Conflict

Israel vs. Hamas: The Story Behind the Conflict

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Israel’s enemy is not primitive—and not alone.

JERUSALEM—To understand the latest escalation of violence between Israel and Gaza, we should backtrack to October 23 in the city of Khartoum, Sudan. In the middle of the night, four jets flew in from the East and bombed the Yarmouk weapons factory in the Sudanese capital. Sudan’s government said the high-tech operation—which jammed Sudan’s radar and virtually destroyed the factory—could only have been completed by Israel.

After the attack, hundreds of protestors in Khartoum took to the streets, shouting and waving signs with anti-Israel slogans. In Gaza, the day after the weapons factory exploded, Hamas militants fired 79 rockets at Israel. The day before that, Hamas had launched only three rockets into Israel.

So why would Gaza respond to the bombing of a weapons factory in Sudan by escalating its own rocket campaign against Israel?

Because that Sudanese factory was supplying Gaza with weapons that significantly upgraded Hamas’s arsenals. And guess who owned and operated that factory in Sudan? A Stratfor analysis says: “There were indications that Iran had been using this facility to stockpile and possibly assemble weapons, including anti-aircraft missiles, guided anti-tank missiles and long-range Fajr-5 rockets capable of reaching Tel Aviv and Jerusalem from Gaza” (“Iran’s Agenda in the Gaza Offensive,” November 16; emphasis added throughout).

If you remember, five days after the Khartoum factory blew up, two Iranian navy vessels docked at a port in Sudan for a three-day visit. The official line was that Iran paid Sudan a visit to “convey a message of peace and friendship.” But this was much more than a friendly visit, as noted in the Wall Street Journal: “Israel views Sudan, a longtime ally of Iran, as a conduit for arms through Egypt to the militant group Hamas in Gaza Strip, according to several international and regional analysts. Iran, meanwhile, remains a major supplier of weapons to Sudan, according to Small Arms Survey, a Swiss-based publication” (Oct. 30).

Now fast forward to November 14, when Israel launched Pillar of Defense. It began with the assassination of Hamas’s top military chief, Ahmed Jaabari. On November 17, the New York Times wrote, “When Israel assassinated the top Hamas military commander in Gaza on Wednesday, setting off the current round of fierce fighting, it was aiming not just at a Palestinian leader but at a supply line of rockets from Iran that have for the first time given Hamas the ability to strike as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.”

Not surprisingly, the Times blamed Israel for “setting off” the latest round of fighting. But leaving aside the left-wing bias, the story is dead right about the regional powerhouse that supplies the terrorist camp in Gaza—the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The supply line worked like this: Fajr-5 rockets were shipped from Iran to the Sudan factory, trucked across the desert through Egypt, disassembled into parts that could be squeezed through the Sinai tunnels, and then reassembled by Hamas operatives in Gaza. Before Israel began Pillar of Defense, Hamas was believed to have had about 100 of these Fajr-5 missiles.

The sophisticated weaponry gave Hamas capabilities that, as far as Israel is concerned, crossed a red line. The attacks aimed at Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv area were never possible for Hamas before because their own rockets couldn’t reach that far. But as the Times piece reveals, Iran has significantly enhanced the firepower of its proxy in Gaza.

“The smuggling route involves salaried employees from Hamas along the way, Iranian technical experts traveling on forged passports and government approval in Sudan, Israeli officials said” (ibid.).

It’s a sophisticated operation, which is why Israel has been working for weeks to break it up.

Evidence has also emerged proving that Hamas commanders have gone to Syria and Iran to be trained by the Revolutionary Guards. Hamas is building an army, upgrading its weapons capabilities and receiving training from Iran—all because it wants to wipe Israel off the map.

That is the necessary context to the latest escalation in violence between Israel and Hamas.

Cairo and Tripoli

Iran is the head of the Middle East’s anti-Israel movement, and is working arduously behind the scenes to bring the Jewish nation down. But Iran has rallied other key players to its cause—namely Egypt and Libya—and is working to morph these nations into bastions of radical Islamism. The conflict between Israel and Gaza shows the success Iran has had toward this end.

Back in October, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi gave Hamas a hearty endorsement, saying, “The Palestinian people will not be abandoned. We stand with them against any aggression.” Then, on November 14, Morsi recalled Egypt’s ambassador to Israel to protest the Jewish state’s military operations. A statement by Morsi’s spokesman explained the move: “President Morsi has followed the Israeli brutal assault in which a number of martyrs and sons of the Palestinian people were killed. On this basis he has recalled the Egyptian ambassador from Israel; has ordered the Egyptian representative at the United Nations to call for an emergency meeting at the Security Council … and summoned the Israeli ambassador in Egypt in protest over the assault.”

Added to this, Egypt’s Freedom and Justice Party—the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood—threatened to get involved in the conflict. According to a statement released by the Brotherhood on November 14, Egypt “will not allow the Palestinians to be subjected to Israeli aggression, as in the past.”

Then there is Libya. Tripoli’s rapidly shifting political landscape has taken on great significance for militants in Gaza because the collapse of Muammar Qadhafi’s government created other supply options for Hamas. Shortly after Qadhafi’s ouster, many Libyan military storehouses were raided and the equipment was sold off. Most of these munitions were driven across Egypt and brought into Gaza.

It is amazing how many doors the “Arab Spring” has opened for Iran and its proxies.

The Israelis well know what is going on in Sudan, Libya, Egypt and Gaza. And since they have little support from the international community, they have struck hard at these supply lines that lead to Gaza. Hamas has struck back, clearly revealing Iran’s heavy involvement in strengthening its proxy.

Iran’s footprints—and those of radicalizing Egypt and Libya—were all over this conflict.

Who Will Mediate?

Bible prophecy says the rapid spread radical Islam will continue until it finally collides with a superior enemy: a German-led European Union. Daniel 11:40 shows that a German-led “king of the north” will soon enter into the glorious land—or Jerusalem. The Hebrew word for “enter” in this passage indicates a peaceful entry.

On November 19, Germany Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle met with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Palestinian president in an effort to calm the recent violence. After meeting with Netanyahu, Westerwelle said brokering a ceasefire was a top priority for Berlin.

Netanyahu’s response revealed Israel’s eagerness to invite Germany into a key role in future negotiations: “Israel can’t long tolerate this kind of situation where our cities are under constant rocket attacks. I prefer diplomatic solutions, I hope that we can get one, but if not we have every right to defend ourselves with other means and we shall use them. I believe that Germany can have a constructive role in seeking an end to this conflict and a long-term arrangement, such that these terror weapons are not introduced into the Gaza Strip.”

As more Israelis acknowledge that the U.S.’s broken-willed leaders are too fatigued by America’s military involvement in other conflicts, and as pressure on Israel intensifies, the Jews will turn to Germany for defense assistance. Netanyahu’s statement is one of several signs in recent months that Israel is already looking in Berlin’s direction. It is only a matter of time before Israel invites the German-led EU into the Holy Land.

This decision will not end well for Israel. The prophecy in Daniel shows that Germany will commit a violent double-cross against Israel, and establish its headquarters in Jerusalem.

This is a sobering reality. But it is intricately tied to the most hope-filled event this war-torn planet has ever experienced: the return of Jesus Christ to usher in an age of peace for Israelis, Palestinians, Iranians, Germans, Egyptians, Libyans and all other men!

The Fight for Jerusalem

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The sirens that sounded in Jerusalem over the past week revealed just how deep the division is within the city.

The Middle East today is not what it was in early 2009, the last time Israel went on the offensive to reduce the missile fire coming out of Gaza. This month marked the first time rocket fire warning sirens have gone off in Jerusalem. It was the first time the “City of Peace” has ever been targeted by Hamas rockets, and it was the first time in 42 years that a rocket had been aimed at Jerusalem.

Egypt’s President Grants Himself Extraordinary Powers

Egypt’s President Grants Himself Extraordinary Powers

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Egypt’s transformation into an Islamist state is guaranteed.

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi signed a constitutional declaration granting himself absolute power, and preventing judges from shutting down the constitutional committee, November 22.

Constitutional declarations, laws, and decrees made by the president … are final and binding and cannot be appealed by any way or to any entity.
Declaration by President Mohamed Morsi
“Morsi today usurped all state powers & appointed himself Egypt’s new pharaoh,” tweeted former UN weapons inspector and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei. Former presidential candidate Sameh Ashour said that Morsi had made “a full coup against the revolutionary legitimacy that brought him into power, his action is a takeover of all of the country’s authorities.”

“This action makes him a dictator even more than Mubarak,” he said.

Egypt’s judiciary has been the one institution that has prevented the Islamists gaining absolute power. Last August, Morsi asserted his dominance over the Egyptian military. Now he’s doing the same thing to the judges.

President Morsi’s “constitutional declarations, laws, and decrees” are now “final and binding and cannot be appealed by any way or to any entity,” says the declaration. “Nor shall they be suspended or cancelled and all lawsuits related to them and brought before any judicial body against these decisions are annulled.”

Under the declaration, the committee drafting the constitution and Egypt’s upper house of parliament can no longer be dissolved by any judicial body.

Many of the non-Islamist members of the constitutional committee have withdrawn, complaining that they’re being ignored. The Supreme Constitutional Court was thinking about dissolving the committee, declaring it illegitimate. Now the committee is safe, and an Islamist constitution for Egypt is all but guaranteed.

Morsi also granted himself the power to appoint a new prosecutor general. The old prosecutor is unpopular with the Islamists and other revolutionaries because of his reluctance to punish Mubarak-era officials. Morsi’s declaration pledged to reopen “investigations and prosecutions” against former officials.

The supreme court may challenge Morsi’s actions, but the way he dealt with the military earlier indicates that he can handle the opposition. Opposition leaders have called for protests, but they haven’t been large enough to change anything.

So far, the Western nations that were so quick to praise Morsi for his role in negotiating a Gaza cease fire have been silent. One of the only international figures to speak out against him is UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay.

Many have speculated that the U.S. made promises to Egypt and Israel in exchange for the ceasefire agreement. Could an American agreement not to kick up a fuss have been one of those promises? The timing is certainly suspicious.

America pushed Mubarak out of office. Now an Islamist leader is setting himself up as a dictator in Mubarak’s place, and the U.S. is doing nothing.

For more insight into this stunning development, read “A New Pharaoh” from the Trumpet’s October/November edition.

Europe Invests in Space

Europe Invests in Space

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Not even Britain wants Europe’s space budget cut.

European leaders agreed on a relatively generous budget for the European Space Agency (esa) on November 21, announcing several important projects, including two Mars missions with Russia. At a time when the European Union is consumed with bickering about its budget, the agreement on space spending shows Europe sees it as a priority. “All sides are happy,” wrote Spiegel Online. It’s hard to imagine European nations coming to that kind of deal on anything else.

esa’s budget avoided being cut—it will receive €10 billion (us$12.8 billion) over the next three years. Britain voluntarily increased its contribution by £300 million, despite its push for cuts at home and in the EU budget. esa’s General Director Jean-Jacques Dordain called the new budget a “great success.”

The agency announced an agreement with Russia’s Roscosmos to send a satellite and rover to Mars as part of its ExoMars project. America pulled out of the project earlier this year, almost forcing esa to cancel the project after it had already spent €400 million (us$513 million) on it.

The head of international relations at esa, Frederic Nordlund, said the Russian-European agreement could be the first of many. “We have other opportunities to consider cooperation—for Jupiter missions, for example,” he said.

Russia will provide the rockets for the mission and in return receive instrument space on the satellite and the rover as well as access to the mission’s data.

esa also announced a deal with the United States. It will provide the propulsion unit for nasa’s new manned Orion capsule.

The meeting also solved a key dispute between France and Germany regarding Europe’s launch vehicle, the Ariane 5. Germany wants to upgrade to the Ariane 5ME (Mid-Life Evolution). France wanted to take a bit longer and create a more advanced launch vehicle, the Ariane 6.

The solution: Develop both. esa aims to get the Ariane 5ME ready by 2017, and the Ariane 6 by 2021.

More important than these headline-grabbing projects though, is that esa’s work monitoring the Earth with satellites will continue. esa signed an agreement to help create a third generation of weather satellites.

esa continually emphasized the economic benefit of keeping up its space investments. But the space industry is vital for the military too. Many of the EU’s projects have direct military applications. Satellite navigation is essential for a modern military. So are reconnaissance satellites. Even weather satellites are very useful for armies and navies.

Many of esa’s projects may lack direct military applications, but they ensure Europe’s satellite manufacturing and launching capabilities remain strong. Even in a tough economic climate, this is why space remains important.