Germany Plans to Develop Drone Warfare

Germany Plans to Develop Drone Warfare

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Germany may begin using armed drones and encourage European defense companies to manufacture their own unmanned aerial vehicles (uavs), according to recent media reports.

The government has concluded that it must use armed drones “in order to provide protection against sudden and serious changes in the situation,” reported Spiegel Online January 25, citing an official government response to questions from Germany’s Left Party.

The German military has been pushing for their use. Lieut.-Gen. Karl Müllner said: “I can’t explain to the soldiers on the ground why, for political reasons, they have to wait for a manned plane to provide air support, when a drone could have done the same thing.”

Germany is reportedly interested in developing a European drone. Currently, it has to buy them from Israel or America.

“There is a desire to explore development of a European drone,” said State Secretary for the Minister of Defense Christian Schmidt. “A European drone solution has to have more capability than current U.S. systems to make sense,” he added. Developing its own drone would also make Europe much more independent of American power. And it could do more to guard against some of the weaknesses and vulnerability to hacking in U.S. drones.

Bloomberg reported that German officials planned to bring up the subject at a Franco-German meeting to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty on January 22. It said the two nations could try to help European Aeronautic, Defense & Space Co. (eads) develop a uav. eads cancelled its drone development last year when it received no government funding.

Drones look increasingly like the future of aerial warfare. Cheaper and more expendable than a manned aircraft, they could make today’s fighter jets obsolete. Armed drones are vital to any aspiring military power.

Watch for Germany to continue to develop its own military capabilities, independent of American power.

Australian House Prices: The Slow Bleed

Australian House Prices: The Slow Bleed

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House prices are falling, but will the slow bleed become a hemorrhage?

It should not surprise people that Australian house prices dropped last year. What is surprising is how little they fell.

The latest numbers from RP Data show that house prices across Australia’s capital cities fell 0.4 percent in 2012. Melbourne houses lost the most value, with prices down 2.9 percent. Brisbane and Adelaide both lost 0.8 percent. Hobart lost 0.1 percent. Sydney and Perth defied the trend, growing 1.5 and 0.8 percent respectively.

In general, it’s a slow bleed. Nationwide house prices peaked in Australia in 2010 and have slowly shed value since.

The good old days of buying a home and simply watching its price increase year after year are over, says RP Data senior research analyst Cameron Kusher: “We’ve never seen these situations before, and you’d really have to go back to the early 1990s to see similar housing market conditions to what we’ve seen over the last few years, when we had our last recession.”

The big question now is whether or not the slow drip will turn into a gusher.

This is a hugely important question for Australians. Houses are no longer just places to live. For many Australians, it is the single most important investment they have. House prices are the biggest factor influencing household wealth. And for the past two years, home ownership has generally caused families to lose money.

If house prices don’t start rising again, it could destroy the wealth of a whole generation.

And if prices don’t start rising—it will also turn the housing market into something more like a car sales lot. Everyone knows that as soon as you drive off in a new car, it depreciates. After four years, the typical car has lost more than half its value. What happens if houses started acting the same way? Houses age—just like vehicles. Houses break down and need repairs—just like vehicles. Houses get outdated and need updating—just like vehicles.

But will houses continue to deteriorate in value—just like vehicles?

The median-priced house in Australia is $408,000. At approximately 6.5 times household disposable incomes, this is a shockingly high value. Let’s say a typical buyer puts 10 percent down and has a mortgage of $367,000. Now what happens if his house depreciates by 0.4 percent, the same rate house prices fell last year? His investment loses $1,600. That might not sound like a lot, but over the years, it adds up quickly. What happens if house prices fall by a whopping 3 percent, like they did in 2011? All of a sudden, that home owner has lost $11,010.

It won’t take too many years before there are a lot of people trying to get out from underneath what could quickly become debt prisons.

The latest housing market data showed another weak month in December. The Australian Industry Group and the Housing Industry Association reported that housing market activity fell for the 31st month in a row.

Meanwhile, Australia’s builders are doing everything they can to hide falling new house prices and keep people buying.

Property Observer reports that builders and developers are now offering a range of financial incentives and discounts to get people in houses—but in a way so as to not affect comps and thus existing house prices. New home buyers can get backdoor discounts in the tens of thousands of dollars—discounts that are not disclosed in the final sale price.

It is not enough that the builders are giving away new cars, offering large cash-backs, free landscaping, or paying a buyer’s energy bills for three years.

Now developers are offering perks like: $10,000 visa gift cards, land rebates of up to $30,000, and a full year’s worth of paid mortgage payments.

These incentives are a sign that Australians have reached max house price carrying capacity—and that builders are getting desperate.

Like in the United States, surging home prices were fueled by debt. Since 1995, total mortgage loans have risen from A$154 billion to A$1.2 trillion—almost an eightfold increase. Total household debt rose from 68 percent of disposable income to a peak of 153 percent today. At the same time, to afford ever escalating house prices, most families have adopted the two-income strategy. There is no third income available to push family borrowing capacity—and thus house prices—higher. To the contrary, if the economy slows down and unemployment rises, Australians will see just how leveraged house prices are to the economy. All it will take is for one of the debt-inundated income earners to lose his or her job, and the for-sale sign will pop up.

The housing market in Australia is cut. All that remains to be seen is how bad the cut is and whether the slow bleed will turn into a hemorrhage.

Morsi Declares State of Emergency in Egypt

Deadly clashes between protesters and riot police continue to plague Egypt this week. At least 56 people have died. After several days of violence, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi declared a state of emergency on Sunday. Three cities along the Suez Canal are now under a 30-day curfew: Port Said, Ismailiya and Suez. The state of emergency allows police to investigate, arrest and detain people without a trial.

Protesters began rioting in Port Said on Friday after the government sentenced 21 people to death. The defendants were convicted in connection with a soccer riot last February. Seventy-four soccer fans were killed in that incident. However, protesters say that the government is responsible for the deaths, not the 21 people who have been sentenced to die.

Morsi deployed the military in Suez and Port Said on Saturday. He vowed in a televised address on Sunday night that he would not hesitate to take even more action to stem the latest eruption of violence. At the same time, Morsi sought to reassure Egyptians that he would not plunge the country back into authoritarianism.

Turmoil continues to afflict Egypt nearly seven months after Morsi took office. His actions as president reveal that he is not afraid to wield his new power. Watch for President Morsi to continue to strengthen his grip on Egypt. For more information on Egypt’s future, read our article “Egypt: Morsi Sheds His Moderate Cloak.”

Cash-Strapped Zimbabwe Down to $217

Cash-Strapped Zimbabwe Down to $217

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Zimbabwe is down to its last $217. After paying civil servant salaries last week, the cash-strapped government has barely enough to buy a used iPad.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti told reporters on Tuesday that the government’s finances were in a “paralysis state” and that the state was failing to meet its targets. “Last week when we paid civil servants, there was $217 [left] in government coffers,” he said.

The Zimbabwean economy took a nose-dive in 2000 when President Robert Mugabe embarked on his controversial “land grab” in which thousands of white-owned farms were seized by the government and its black supporters. The predominantly agriculture-based economy of the nation then collapsed, exacerbated by eroded investor confidence, and international sanctions. Almost a decade of relentless money-printing and almost unfathomable hyperinflation ensued until the currency collapsed and rival political parties were compelled to coalesce into a power-sharing government in 2009.

With Zimbabwe in such a financial mess again, the government has no choice but to approach “the international community,” said Tendai Biti.

For Zimbabwe, “international community” means China.

In spite of its financial woes, Zimbabwe is rich in mineral resources such as diamonds, platinum and other rare metals—just the commodities that resource-hungry China is happy to snap up. Watch for China’s continued exploitation of Africa’s resources in exchange for financial and political support.

Bible prophecy indicates a global resource war is coming among the world’s major powers. For more detail, read our article “The Battleground” and our free booklet Russia and China in Prophecy.

Israel Prepares for the Fall of Syria

Israel Prepares for the Fall of Syria

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Israel readies for the threat of chemical weapons.

Israel is preparing for the fall of Syria, according to reports published on Sunday. The Jewish nation has deployed two Iron Dome air defense batteries to its north, including one near the city of Haifa. Activity at Israel’s air force bases has also increased, according to local reports.

“If there will be a need, we will take action to prevent chemical weapons from being transferred to Islamic terror organizations,” Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom said on Israel’s Army Radio on Sunday.

Since the Syrian uprisings began in March of 2011, dissident forces have clashed with government troops at hotspots throughout the nation. Even the capital city of Damascus, visible from Israel, is engulfed in bloody fighting. As the violence continues southward, it has led to some artillery fire hitting Israeli territory. Israel fears that Syrians may soon resort to using chemical weapons near Israel’s border.

Under any conditions, a chemical weapons stockpile on your doorstep would be legitimate cause for concern for any nation. But with Syria in chaos, now Israel has to worry about the prospect of the weapons falling into rebel hands. The United States government supports the rebels who fight under the banner of democracy. However, the majority of the rebels don’t have such democratic tendencies. Some of the militia groups are extreme Islamists, dedicated to the destruction of Israel. The possibility of these organizations gaining control of chemical weapons that could reach Israel is sobering for the Jewish nation.

Additionally, there is the threat of Hezbollah in Lebanon gaining access to Syria’s chemical weapons. Such a scenario significantly multiplies the threat to Israel’s northern cities.

Israel can’t afford to lose track of Syria’s weapons stockpiles, which is why it is conducting intense surveillance to its north. If the regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad falls, the weapons could be very difficult to track down. The Israelis are preparing now to defend themselves in case the worst should happen.

Israel is in a very precarious situation. The weapons pose a threat to Israel regardless of who controls Syria. But with the fighting in Syria and the Assad regime increasingly desperate, the threat is multiplying. The U.S. has already discussed the possibility of a military operation to prevent the weapons from falling into radical Islamists’ hands, and Israel may well take part if such an offensive is waged.

Israel stepped up its countermeasures on Tuesday night when an Israeli airstrike destroyed a convoy crossing the border from Syria into Lebanon. While reports are vague about what the convey contained, the strike shows that Israel is watching the border, and is willing to engage its military to prevent weapons being dispersed to Israel’s neighbors.

Assad’s grip on power appears to be rapidly slipping. Regardless of what happens next, you can know the role Syria will play in the future. Despite the uncertainties of the Arab winter, the struggles of Israel, the role of the U.S., and the ongoing bloodbath in Syria, you can understand what the future holds for this region of the world. A prophecy recorded in Psalm 83 makes Syria’s future role clear. To understand this biblical truth, read Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry’s article “How the Syrian Crisis Will End.”

Why Aren’t More People Marrying Today?

Why Aren’t More People Marrying Today?

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Here’s one reason: At least in the eyes of women, the men aren’t qualified.

For young people, the idea of marriage still holds considerable charm. A 2006 poll showed that more than 80 percent of American high school seniors expect to get married, and 90 percent of those assume they’ll remain wed to the same person for life. A survey of college students in England found 95 percent want to marry. Among adults who have never been married, 61 percent want to be, according to a Pew poll from 2010.

But dreams of marriage are failing to materialize for more and more of these people. In 1960, 72 percent of American adults were married; today, that number has dropped to 51 percent. In 1960, 15 percent had never married; today it’s 28 percent. In 1970, four in five 25-to-29-year-old men were married; now, two in five are.

What’s going on? People want to marry but aren’t. Why?

The reasons are many. But sociologists have identified one that I find of particular interest. It is that today’s men—at least in the eyes of today’s women—aren’t qualified.

Many single men say they would like to be at least equal to if not better than their future spouse in terms of education and earning power. The model of the male breadwinner has a long history, and remnants of it remain ingrained in the minds of many people—both men and women.

The problem is, this ideal is increasingly at odds with reality. As Hanna Rosin writes in her book The End of Men: And the Rise of Women, “The men may cling to traditional ideals about themselves as providers, but they are further than ever from being able to embody those ideals” (emphasis added throughout).

Every year in America, 170,000 more women than men get bachelor’s degrees. And while the average man still earns 10 percent more than the average woman, guess what? Among 20-somethings, women now have the edge in the wage gap. Men who hold the advantage in education and earning power are a dying breed.

The numbers of well-educated, financially self-sufficient women are mushrooming beyond the numbers of men who could be so described. In fact, men are trending in the opposite direction. Today, for example, we see the highest percentage ever recorded of men of prime working age who are not even working: about one in five.One fifth of men. Compare that to 1950, when it was one in 20.

“Recent years have seen an explosion of male joblessness and a steep decline in men’s life prospects that have disrupted the ‘romantic market’ in ways that narrow a marriage-minded woman’s options,” wrote Kate Bolick in the Atlantic. “[I]ncreasingly, her choice is between deadbeats (whose numbers are rising) and playboys (whose power is growing)” (November 2011).

Who will these women marry? The bar for what they want out of marriage is climbing, while the field is regressing.

Unsurprisingly, more and more of them, rather than “marry down,” are resigning themselves to the idea that their best option is just to skip it.

Sure, they’d love to marry if the right man showed up. Yet, in their view—frustrating as it may be that Mr. Right isn’t around—marriage is, ultimately, unnecessary. I can take care of myself—I don’t need a man to support me, the thinking goes. He’d just be another person to take care of—another mouth to feed.

“[A]s women have climbed ever higher, men have been falling behind,” laments Bolick. “We’ve arrived at the top of the staircase, finally ready to start our lives, only to discover a cavernous room at the tail end of a party, most of the men gone already, some having never shown up—and those who remain are leering by the cheese table, or are, you know, the ones you don’t want to go out with.”

The question is on the lips of women everywhere: What’s wrong with all these guys?

Most people can agree there is a problem, but far fewer recognize its full scope. When you talk to the women and meet the men, when you read the stories and look at the data, you begin to realize: Bolick is not describing a minor irritant, or a disappointment that a few women share. She is chronicling the collapse of a social order.

Social historian Stephanie Coontz says we’re experiencing nothing less than “a historical revolution every bit as wrenching, far-reaching, and irreversible as the Industrial Revolution.” As she told the Atlantic, “When it comes to what people actually want and expect from marriage and relationships, and how they organize their sexual and romantic lives, all the old ways have broken down.”

If you examine it, this breakdown in “all the old ways” virtually all traces back to the trashing of the traditional roles of men and of women, particularly that of breadwinner and homemaker. Historically, what largely drove men’s march through the milestones to adulthood was the expectation that they would fulfill the role of provider. For generations, this commonly recognized duty propelled men into the workforce; it often served as a prod to men’s ambition and did much to shape society. Even today, it remains a strong motivation to any young man who accepts it. And women recognized their responsibility to make the home an inviting, nurturing environment for children to be reared toward adulthood.

For two generations now, esteem for these roles has been fading—to the point where today they are ignored, if not treated with contempt.

In dismantling the traditional ways of relating to one another as men and women, society lost more than just human traditions: We arrogantly, foolishly trashed God’s design in creating men and women.

The failings that have resulted vividly illustrate the wisdom in God’s original design—for anyone willing to cast aside the blinders of political correctness and look at the situation honestly.

For the sake of order and harmony, God created men to fulfill one role within the family and within society, and He created women to fill a different and beautifully complementary role. This is the reality that God created and revealed to humankind. It is a vital key to individual, family and societal success.

The reason for marriage is far greater than most people realize. Marriage has an awesome purpose. Doesn’t it make sense to understand its purpose if you plan to marry someday? To learn this purpose, request our free booklet Why Marriage! Soon Obsolete? Not only will it help you understand marriage’s purpose—it will show you why “the old ways” will never die.