Rumors of regime change are swirling through Venezuela as strongman Hugo Chávez is once again heading to Cuba for medical treatment.
Though Chávez has repeatedly dismissed rumors that he has not been cured of his cancer, his last public appearance was a televised interview three weeks ago, and the Spanish-language newspaper ABC is claiming he is suffering bone metastasis from his pelvic cancer.
If Chávez dies within the next four years, Venezuela could undergo an extended period of instability followed by a political transition on a scale that the country has not seen since Chávez first came to power in 1999, according to the Austin-based geopolitical think tank Stratfor.
So far, Chávez has made no concrete plans for his succession. So if he dies, resigns or is permanently incapacitated within the next four years, new elections have to be called.
In the event of an unexpected snap election of this sort, a unified opposition—likely behind former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski—would stand its best chance in over a decade.
Such a change in leadership probably would not profoundly affect domestic policy in Venezuela, considering that Capriles espouses a watered-down version of Chávez-style socialism. Foreign policy, however, would experience a seismic shift under opposition leadership.
Under the anti-American Chávez, Venezuela has moved closer to nations like Russia, China, Nicaragua, Cuba and Iran. The nominally Catholic leader, who has spent much time praising the socialist ideals of atheists like Karl Marx, has also increased tensions between the Venezuelan government and the Vatican.
This foreign policy could hardly be more different from the espoused policies of opposition leader Capriles. The self-described “devout Catholic” studied at the Catholic University in Caracas, and says the first thing he will do if he ever comes to power is to pay homage to the Virgin Mary.
Once this homage is paid, Capriles has vowed to cancel all of Venezuela’s Russian arms deals, review all of Venezuela’s current oil contracts and seriously consider ending Venezuela’s cozy relationship with Iran.
Such policies in Venezuela would no doubt greatly please Pope Benedict xvi and his Vatican hierarchy. The Wikileaks scandal recently exposed a conversation between an American ambassador and Vatican Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, who is widely regarded as the third-most powerful man in Rome.
In this conversation, Sandri admitted that the arch-conservative pope is deeply concerned about the general leftward shift in Latin America. He mentioned that he personally regards Chávez as a dangerous man and went on to say that the pope fears that several other Latin American leaders are looking to men like Chávez and Castro for leadership.
For the time being, Archbishop Sandri has confirmed that Rome is committed to a non-confrontational approach to the problem of Hugo Chávez. Perhaps rumors of Chávez’s declining health have convinced the pope that patience is the best policy, especially considering the pro-Vatican sentiments of Venezuela’s primary opposition party.
The impending death of Hugo Chávez could indeed allow opposition forces to rise to power in Venezuela, kicking off a sort of “Roman Catholic spring.” In fact, Bible prophecy indicates this will happen!
In the 17th and 18th chapters of the biblical book of Revelation, God labels the German-led, Vatican-influenced empire that is currently emerging in Europe as “Babylon the Great.” In the corresponding Old Testament prophecies of Isaiah 23 and Ezekiel 27, the same empire appears under the name of Tyre, the most powerful trading center of the ancient Mediterranean world.
Based on these scriptures, Herbert W. Armstrong long predicted that the alliance between Europe and South America would grow extremely strong. The most significant factors that will cement this alliance are the Roman Catholic religion and the Spanish language. This union, however, will not be a union of equals: The Latin American countries will again become vassal states to the Holy Roman Empire!
As the July 1965 Plain Truth foretold, “Flowing across the Atlantic to feed the hungry furnaces of the Ruhr and the other industrial complexes of Europe will come the rich mineral wealth of Latin America.”
More is prophesied for this European empire, however, than a mere trade alliance with Latin America. In Isaiah 10, God says Assyria (modern-day Germany) would be the rod of His anger used to punish the hypocritical nations of Israel (modern-day America, Britain and its dominions) and Judah (the Jewish state of Israel). Isaiah 23 sheds further light on this prophecy by foretelling a great economic siege that is to be set up against the United States.
With a German-led Europe (the king of the north) possessing great maritime power, North America will be surrounded on the east by Europe and the south by Latin America. The Bible contains many prophecies of that European power attacking America—and many other prophecies of America being besieged.That is where China and the giants of Asia enter the picture. When the Holy Roman Empire attacks North America, there will be no help or sympathy from Asia. In fact, considering that China has come to possess most of the world’s strategic sea gates (which, ironically, at one time were held by Britain and America), we believe there may be a brief alliance between the German-led Holy Roman Empire and certain Asian powers (Russia, China, Japan—the kings of the east). Should Europe, the resurrected Holy Roman Empire, find a way to take advantage—even for a moment—of key resources and strategic holdings of China, Russia and Japan, it would have more than enough power to besiege the Anglo-Saxon nations and enslave them.
Germany and the Vatican are building a transcontinental alliance that will ultimately include 10 European kings, a loyal network of Latin American vassal states and an anti-Iranian alliance of Arabic regimes.
With its left arm, this Vatican-dominated conglomerate will reach down southward and eastward into the Middle East to conquer the Holy City Jerusalem. Then with its right arm, this “Holy” Roman Empire will reach southward and westward across the Atlantic to take control of Latin America and besiege the United States!
Reports coming out of Turkey, Syria, Arabia, Brazil and Venezuela show that the Germany/Vatican axis is already laying the groundwork for its transcontinental empire.
Analysts say this mushrooming problem could be the start of a new subprime crises. But there is a solution.
December 4, 2012
One in five U.S. households currently includes at least one resident carrying student debt, and the amount of outstanding student debt in the nation now totals almost one trillion U.S. dollars, experts said on Tuesday. Some analysts fear that the situation could be the start of a new subprime crisis.
Sharon Sakson of New Jersey is an example of a person encumbered by student debt. She finished her graduate degree in 2005, and then had to begin repayments on her $40,000 student loan. Sakson had expected to find work immediately after graduating, but she couldn’t find work until 2009. She was forced to declare personal bankruptcy, and now her home is in the process of foreclosure.
“It was an investment and it would pay off because I would get better jobs. And so I wasn’t concerned about the amount of debt. I thought that would be OK,” Sakson said.
Sakson isn’t the only American struggling beneath the weight of student debt. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (cfpb), more than 850,000 student loans are in default.
Experts see disquieting similarities between today’s student loan market and the 2008 mortgage market, which triggered the global financial crisis. In both cases, lenders were eager to extend loans to parties who were often in a poor position to repay them.
Rohit Chopra of the cfpb explained the trend, saying, “Some lenders were able to give loans to students without even verifying they were enrolled, and they were able to flip those loans and package them into securities and sell them to investors.”
This process removed the risk from the lenders and reduced their incentive to make sure borrowers could pay back their student loans. Student loans are particularly difficult for borrowers to escape because, unlike credit card and mortgage debt, it isn’t wiped out by bankruptcy. “I would not go into debt to get a degree. It doesn’t make sense. I worry for all the young people,” Sakson said.
More and more graduates, swamped in debt and jobless, are saying college is the worst money they ever spent. This is an intensifying problem with clear causes—and at least one possible solution. To understand what that solution is, read Trumpet columnist Robert Morley’s insightful article, “Sucked Under by That College Degree.”
The global economy is at a dangerous inflection point. Debt and deficits are swamping economies around the world. The global economy risks a plunge into a new Greater Depression. Governments are reaching breaking points, and debts are becoming unpayable.
It’s time to act before you too get swept into the economic whirlpool that’s about to envelope the globe. But what should you do?
The world’s biggest banks are acting. They are buying gold. The thesis is simple: For the first time in history, the global financial system is in danger of total collapse—as in wiped out, totally gone, history. And the dollars, the yen and the euros backing it could go down the drain with it.
Everywhere you look, nations are in economic turmoil. And the problem behind it all is too much debt.
In the United States, federal debt is now $16.3 trillion. But America’s economy only measures $15.5 trillion, according to U.S.DebtClock.org. Europe has the same problem: Debts are growing—economies, not nearly so much. The UK and Japan are in even worse shape. According to the World Economic Forum, total global debt, including local governments, corporations and individuals, as of the end of 2010, reached a whopping $190 trillion—more than 3.3 times the size of the total global economy. And even that does not describe the full problem. Governments owe tens if not hundreds of trillions more in promised retirement benefits that people are relying on.
There is no way these debts can be paid. And now that the developed world is faced with stagnant or shrinking economies, the crisis is being pushed to front stage.
Consequently, central banks are doing what all the fashionable textbooks say should be done. They are printing money like crazy to pay debts. QE1 was followed by QE2 and QE3, etc. According to central planners, this makes debt payment easier for everyone by making more currency available to pay debts. This also results in devalued currencies, which planners say can stimulate economies by making exports cheaper and imports more expensive.
Goldman Sachs analysts believe the Federal Reserve is set to announce another additional round of quantitative easing (money printing) totaling $45 billion per month, according to sources quoted by King World News. For America, this will be QE4. Goldman Sachs indicates that it thinks the program will run for one year and will create another trillion dollars out of thin air to finance government spending. America’s debt problems are so bad that the Federal Reserve is now the biggest buyer of all U.S. government debt—owning one out of every six dollars of debt. America can’t find enough investors willing to lend it money.
But here is the point. It is not just the Fed working the printing presses to inflate away debt. As sisters Mary Anne and Pamela Aden write in the Aden Report, all the “major central banks are also busy creating money.”
Is it any wonder that central banks, for the first time in many years, became net buyers of gold in 2010?
In a world awash in debt, with no way to pay for it, these banks are turning to an asset that can’t be created or willed into existence by politicians seeking to cheat economic realities. Gold is a form of money that can’t be printed or electronically “clicked” into existence ad infinitum.
And since 2010, bank gold-buying has accelerated. This year it is estimated that central banks will purchase 499 tonnes of gold. Up from just 77 tonnes in 2010.
According to economic analyst John Mauldin, “Gold is central bank insurance.” History shows that far too often, “monetary stability yields to political exigency.”
But if central banks, which for the past 41 years have shunned gold, are now turning to it as an insurance policy, something must be very wrong.
In late 2009, Cheng Siwei, a former vice chairman of the Chinese Communist Party Standing Committee, said that China was alarmed by U.S. money printing. He stated on the record that China had lost confidence in the U.S. dollar and was moving toward a partial gold standard through reserve accumulation. “If they keep printing money to buy bonds it will lead to inflation, and after a year or two the dollar will fall hard. Most of our foreign reserves are in U.S. bonds, and this is very difficult to change, so we will diversify,” he said. “Gold is definitely an alternative, but when we buy, the price goes up. We have to do it carefully so as not to stimulate the markets.”
That same year, Hong Kong announced that it would be repatriating all its gold that was stored in London. The central bank of India announced that it had secretly purchased 200 tonnes of gold from the International Monetary Fund. Then in 2011, Venezuela announced it had ordered the return of all 200 tonnes of gold it stored in London and New York. Reports emerged of Russian and Middle East central banks buying gold.
Earlier this year, Ecuador asked its banks to repatriate one third of their gold stored overseas. And Forbes reported that China had imported 69 tonnes of gold through its new gold center in Hong Kong—up 22 percent from a year earlier.
Now, golden heavyweight Germany is also bringing its gold home from New York. Following refusals to allow German authorities to inspect their gold deposits, Germany has asked for 150 tonnes—or about 10 percent of its holdings in America—to be returned. Germany repatriated one third of its gold from London years ago.
The scramble for gold seems destined to heat up.
To pay America’s federal debt in gold, you would need a cube 80 feet square. To cover total global debt, you would need a cube approximately 180 square. But according to Business Insider, all the gold ever mined on Earth would only make a solid cube 66.1 feet per side.
If central banks are looking to gold to fix the world’s debt problems, gold is going to be in very short supply very soon.
So is gold a safe investment? Only up to a point.
As long as the global economy is functioning, and people are worried that paper money is being destroyed, there will be a growing demand for gold. Over the short term, gold has potential as a good investment.
But if you are looking to gold to save you from the looming economic collapse, you will be terribly wrong. If the economic system collapses, and there is no food to eat, people won’t care how much gold you have. Deep down, many investors realize this. That is why some financial advisers recommend learning to farm and becoming self-sufficient.
But even growing your own food and knitting your own clothes won’t provide security.
The Bible warns that the economic troubles facing this world are set to worsen. Times will get so bad that people are prophesied to throw their gold and silver in the streets (Ezekiel 7:19). As the Prophet Ezekiel warns, all the gold and silver in the world won’t be able to buy people food. Read the whole chapter. It is a prophecy for the future of the United States and Britain. (For proof, read Gerald Flurry’s booklet Ezekiel: The End-Time Prophet.)
There is, however, another safe investment guaranteed to produce an absolutely massive return—but you have to be willing to invest.
Invest in God. Invest in your relationship with God. Store up treasures in heaven, where moths and rust can’t destroy them. Put your heart in God’s work today. This is the only sure investment that you can make. God doesn’t need your money. He can support His work in all kinds of ways. But God is concerned about your priorities—where you are spending your time and energy. God wants to know what is important to you. What do you put first in your life? What do you spend your money on? What do you sacrifice for?
Invest in gold if you wish. But if you really care about your future, invest in the one true source of protection. Invest in God.
Intense clashes between Syrian rebels and Bashar Assad loyalists near Damascus International Airport forced its closure on Thursday, leaving Assad’s forces weaker than ever.
The fighting—some of the worst since the Syrian civil war began almost two years ago—saw the rebels momentarily taking control of the main road connecting Damascus with the main airport in clashes that reached within 1.2 miles of the airport itself. The airport was then closed, affecting flights by Emirates airline and EgyptAir. These airlines are some of the few that are still operating in Syria. Most other airlines have already suspended services to Syria over the 20 months of the war.
Disruption of the normal operations of Syria’s main airport is significant. Assad’s government relies on it for supplies, money, weapons, and even for its global image. It connects Damascus to the rest of the world. Analysts at Stratfor noted that “Putting the airport in jeopardy is a symbolic success for the rebels” (November 30). These rebels have already seized control of Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, and are now zeroing in on Damascus, Assad’s seat of power. They have taken over some military bases and airfields around the country. But maintaining hold of airfields and airports, Stratfor surmised, is not ideal for the rebels’ guerrilla strategy. “The Syrian rebels don’t necessarily need to take over control of the infrastructure in order to prove that al Assad is weak. Putting the infrastructure in jeopardy is enough to do that,” wrote Stratfor.
Soon after the airport was shut down, the Internet completely blacked out in Syria on Thursday and Friday. While both sides pointed fingers at their adversaries, it appears to be Assad’s forces that were responsible for the communications blackout. The rebels would have more to lose than the government would from the blackout. They use information technology to broadcast images of the civil war, and communicate among themselves and with their foreign supporters.
The U.S. has not yet come out in full support of the opposition forces in Syria. Washington has not formally recognized the newly formed opposition coalition, as have Britain, France, Turkey and other nations. The Washington Post wrote that there were indications from Washington officials that the Obama administration might change its position in two weeks, when the group Friends of Syria will hold a meeting in Morocco. In the meantime, the U.S. has spent about $50 million in “non-lethal” aid to the Syrian opposition, such as satellite telephones and other communications equipment. Quoting State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, the Post noted that this equipment was being put to good use as “the [Assad] regime does appear to be resorting to cutting off all kinds of communication—cellular networks, land lines, as well as Internet service across the country.”
Again, as Stratfor assessed, the blackout is also a sign of a weakening Assad regime, regardless of who was to blame. Stratfor wrote, “Either they [Assad’s forces] lost control of the network or the threat they are facing is so pervasive that they have to shut down the entire national network instead of just localized networks.”
It appears only a matter of time before regime change occurs in Syria. Since Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry first published The King of the South booklet in 1996, we have indicated a prophesied realignment of nations in the Middle East into two main groupings: the king of the south—radical Islam under the sway of Iran—and the “Psalm 83 Alliance” of Arab states that will ally together against Iran’s group. This Psalm 83 prophecy indicates that Syria will not be allied with Iran for much longer. When these alliances fully play out as prophesied in the Bible, the world will be a giant step closer to Jesus Christ’s return. For a deeper understanding of how nations are aligning in the Middle East, and what that means for you, study The King of the South.
A new congressional report from the House Homeland Security Committee warns that Iran may be smuggling Hezbollah operatives into the United States, assisted by Mexican drug cartels.
According to this report, released in November, the Mexican border has recently become a primary front for terrorist infiltration into the United States. It specifically points to the growing rapport between Iranian-backed terror forces and Latin American drug-trafficking networks as a cause for serious concern.
Republican Rep. Sue Myrick of North Carolina issued a similar warning earlier this year, in the wake of an Iranian plot to assassinate a Saudi diplomat in Washington, D.C., using a hired gun from a major Mexican drug cartel.
In an even earlier document, released in June, the House Homeland Security Committee reported that there are literally hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of people in America who can be described as either Iranian or Hezbollah agents.
One law enforcement official has gone on record saying the New York Police Department believes there are somewhere between 200 and 300 Hezbollah sympathizers in New York City alone.
U.S. federal authorities have brought numerous criminal cases against these alleged Hezbollah operatives, but so far it appears that most of their activities have been limited to surveillance missions and fund-raising activities.
It is alleged that Hezbollah funds itself by collecting donations from Islamist sympathizers across the Western Hemisphere and by taking commissions from Latin American drug trafficking networks. One South American drug trafficker who was investigated by Colombian officials back in 2008 admitted that his drug-trafficking network gave 12 percent of its annual profits to Hezbollah in return for its support.
So Iranian-backed Hezbollah operatives spread out across the United States, Mexico and Latin America are using the money that Americans spend on drug addiction to fund terrorism in the Middle East!
They have also been observed examining sensitive U.S. targets such as subway systems, bridges and nuclear power plants. Such behavior has prompted several U.S. officials to express concern that the rules of the game could change dramatically in the event of an Israeli or U.S. strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
They worry that such a strike could prompt Hezbollah to change strategy, moving from surveillance and fund-raising in North America to launching terrorist attacks.
This network of Hezbollah operatives already has detailed surveillance information on American infrastructure and access to vast reserves of drug-trafficking money. This puts them in a prime position to unleash societal chaos if so directed by the Iranian mullahs.
The U.S. government may have the ability to defeat Iran in an outright military attack, but it lacks the ability to squash all the hit-and-run terrorist operations that may result from such an attack.
Anciently, the Prophet Ezekiel foretold of a day when end-time Israel would be beset by terrorism, rioting and societal collapse. This time of chaos is prophesied to result primarily from a great economic siege against America, but it no doubt could be enhanced by violence coming from the hands of foreign terrorists. As it is written in Psalm 127, “Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”
For more information on this scenario and how you can personally escape it, read the booklet Ezekiel: The End-Time Prophet by Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry.