The EU’s Covert Military Satellite Program

The EU’s Covert Military Satellite Program

JODY AMIET/AFP/Getty Images

The world’s biggest Earth-observation program gets underway in Europe.

The EU launched its Sentinel-1a satellite from French Guiana on April 3 as it began the rollout of its advanced fleet of Earth-monitoring satellites. Once the Sentinel-1a’s sister satellite, the 1b, is launched, the pair will be able to give radar images of anywhere on the Earth within three to six days.

They’re part of the EU’s Copernicus project, which aims to give the EU an extensive view of the Earth’s surface.

“There is no Earth-observation project as big as this,” said Prof. Anne Glover, the EU’s chief scientific adviser.

[I]t’s already abundantly clear that the new system will also be used for military operations and surveillance purposes…
Ben Hayes, Statewatch
We should remember that any system designed to study the Earth in detail for scientific reasons is also very useful militarily. The publicity for these launches focuses on the environment, global warming and disaster response, but the EU admits, in the small print, that these satellites have “intelligence” and even “military” applications.

“There’s no doubt that Copernicus promises exciting new applications for land management and environmental science, said Ben Hayes of the civil liberties group Statewatch. “But it’s already abundantly clear that the new system will also be used for military operations and surveillance purposes, some of which are highly controversial.”

“It’s hardly surprising that the Commission is stressing Copernicus’s green credentials—but it’s still political sugarcoating,” he added.

The Copernicus program used to be known by the much less catchy name of gmes (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security). At first it was designed to support “environmental security,” but, as a European Parliament document noted, this mission was adjusted ever so slightly: It now aims to support “the environment and security” (original emphasis). The system’s declared military uses include “EU peacekeeping operations”—i.e. European military missions, as well as “border monitoring outside the EU” and resource monitoring. The latest sentinel satellite will serve these purposes.

This superb footage, provided by the European Space Agency (ESA), was acquired by cameras on the Soyuz Fregat upper stage that released Sentinel-1A into orbit on 3 April 2014.

The EU will, of course, use its new satellites for environmental monitoring. But they are also vital intelligence resources that will be used in planning and carrying out military missions. In assembling this constellation of satellites, the EU is quietly extending its military power and diminishing its reliance on the U.S. for accurate satellite data. Copernicus is just one of many satellite projects underway within the EU.

Once Europe’s Copernicus and Galileo satellite systems are complete, according to EU officials, they will be the most technologically advanced systems in operation.

Space is an important theater for any aspiring military. Watch for the EU to continue to expand on this frontier. For more details on Europe’s space program, see our article “The Quiet Space Race.”

Government Meddling Making Student Insurance Expensive

Government Meddling Making Student Insurance Expensive

KMoFoto

How long before all Americans will be required to subsidize sex-change operations?

Students at the University of Illinois will pay more for their insurance this year—and it is not just because of Obamacare. In March, the university’s board of trustees voted 8-to-2 to cover sex-change operations for students.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, insurance costs for healthy young people are soaring. Insurance premiums will rise 15 percent this year at the university. Adding gender-reassignment surgery to every student’s insurance will raise rates even further.

At least 51 universities, including Yale and Harvard, now force their students to help pay for sex-change operations for peers.
Interestingly, one of the two no votes came from the student body representative, who argued that the changes were pushed through without any debate and without informing students first. “I would make the argument that 90 percent of this campus has no idea that this is being added to the student health insurance,” Michael Cunningham told CampusReform.org. “I am the student trustee on campus. If I just found out 17 days ago, I can’t possibly imagine what the rest of the 40,000 students don’t know or feel.”

At least 51 universities, including Yale and Harvard, now force their students to help pay for sex-change operations for peers at their colleges. The extra surgery coverage on college campuses marks a victory for aggressive lobbying by homosexual, bisexual and transgender activists.

The University of Maryland also added gender-reassignment surgery to students’ health insurance plans this year. The university’s health center director said she will only seek student input if the cost estimates come in higher than the expected 1 percent increase. The university already forces students to subsidize hormone therapy for transgender students under its health insurance plan.

State insurance commissioners in Oregon, California, Vermont, Colorado and Washington, D.C., have said that under Obamacare’s provisions a person’s gender identity cannot be a reason to deny coverage.
How much do sex-change surgeries cost? Mykell Hatcher-McLarin, a senior from Baltimore and a transgender advocate who is biologically female but identifies as male, started an online fundraiser to ask people to pay for chest masculinization surgery; her procedure is expected to cost at least $7,000. For many, the cost could be significantly higher. University officials asked for surgery coverage up to $100,000 per individual.

The fact that student gender-reassignment coverage is occurring on so many campuses shows how quickly social values are changing. And history shows that trends that begin on college campuses eventually make their way to the rest of society.

Transgender advocates hope that the Affordable Care Act, which prevents insurers from denying coverage for preexisting conditions, will eventually force insurers to pay for gender reassignments. State insurance commissioners in Oregon, California, Vermont, Colorado and Washington, d.c., have said that under Obamacare’s provisions a person’s gender identity cannot be a reason to deny coverage. Soon you too may have to pay for gender-reassignment surgery—if you want to keep your health insurance.

Chad Withdraws Troops From Crisis-Torn Central African Republic

Chad Withdraws Troops From Crisis-Torn Central African Republic

SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images

How the Chad-CAR crisis tells on our volatile religious world

Chad announced April 3 that it would pull out its 850 peacekeeping troops from the Central African Republic. The withdrawal, which began the following day, will slash almost 15 percent of the African Union’s peacekeeping mission in car.

In a statement from its Foreign Affairs Ministry, Chad explained that the withdrawal was essentially a response to criticism from aid agencies and foreign diplomats. “Despite the sacrifices we have made,” the statement said, “Chad and Chadians have been targeted in a gratuitous and malicious campaign that blamed them for all the suffering in car.”

Chad peacekeepers are predominantly Muslim, and they have been accused of siding with Muslims and Muslim rebels in the Central African Republic. The most contentious in a series of incidents of Chadian soldiers against Christians was on March 29, when the soldiers opened fire in a predominantly Christian marketplace in the capital Bangui. At least 30 civilians were killed and 300 more were seriously wounded. According to an April 4 report from the UN human rights department, the victims included children, pregnant women, handicapped people and the elderly.

Chad claims its soldiers only acted out of self-defense after they were attacked by Christian militia.

Once upon a time, car was ruled by a ruthlessly murderous regime of Muslims. It persecuted Christians in a spree of looting, rape and mass executions. Then the tables were turned by a barbaric resistance group curiously called anti-balaka, which name means “anti-machete.” The name has absolutely no bearing on its violent antics: The anti-balaka has used whatever implements and execution methods it could in its revenge attacks. It has flogged, knifed, stoned and burned people with impunity.

Human Rights Watch’s emergencies director Peter Bouckaert witnessed a number of lynchings in car. On January 29, he observed French peacekeepers at Bangui airport turning a blind eye to the execution of Muslims. The French have been accused of being too sympathetic to car Christians.

It is against this background that Chad’s Muslim soldiers were perceived to be sympathetic to car’s persecuted Muslims. Most car Christians welcome the withdrawal of Chadian peacekeepers from their country. Some Muslims are terrified because the withdrawal reduces the restraining force against the murderous anti-balaka Christian militia.

It all comes at a time when the EU is planning to send 800 troops of its own to the Central African Republic by the end of May, and after the April 10th adoption of a UN resolution to send 10,000 soldiers and almost 2,000 police officers to help stabilize the Central African Republic (see video below).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDLMjloLSwA&feature=youtu.be

French Ambassador to the UN Gerard Araud announced a UN resolution to send troops to car at a press conference in New York on April 10.

It also comes amidst the anniversary commemorations of Rwanda’s genocide of 1994. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned: “The international community failed the people of Rwanda 20 years ago. And we are at risk of not doing enough for the people of the car today.”

The Chad-car crisis has the markings of a religious war. It shows us that “holy” war on a national scale isn’t something that’s permanently confined to medieval history. Human nature has never changed. The lessons from the religious wars of old have not been learned, just as the international community has not learned the lessons from Rwanda’s genocide, as Ban Ki-moon acknowledged.

Based on current trends, full-scale religious war involving more players and a wider geography than that in the Chad-car crisis, is inevitable. For example, the Catholic Church has historically imbedded itself deeply in politics, especially Middle-Eastern politics. That trend remains discernible to this day. Islamists, on the other hand, have always unabashedly publicized their desire for forced conversion, with death as the only other option.

In his book Politics Among Nations, Hans J. Morgenthau observed: “The wars of religion have shown that the attempt to impose one’s own religion as the only true one upon the rest of the world is as futile as it is costly.” We explained more about this in our article “Return of the Religious War.”

Bible prophecy reveals that the next full-scale religious war will, thankfully, be the last crusade. God will then bring us permanent peace and security—as He has always desired for mankind to enjoy.

Meaning of Passover

What is the significance of Passover? How should it be kept? Understanding Passover’s true meaning is essential to your eternal life.

Lithuanian Ambassador: ‘Putin Is Not Finished’

Lithuanian Ambassador: ‘Putin Is Not Finished’

Estonian Foreign Ministry

In an interview with theTrumpet.com, Lithuania’s ambassador to the U.S. says, “We have to draw the line before the Russians move tanks on top of it.”

Following a short respite, parts of eastern Ukraine are once again at the boiling point.

Pro-Russian demonstrators have taken over government facilities, and have even declared the formation of a new “people’s republic” in the Donetsk region. Activists there asked Vladimir Putin to send in “peacekeeping troops,” and nato released shocking satellite images on Tuesday showing that Russia is well-positioned to fulfill the request.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian government seems to have restored a degree of stability in Kharkiv, but not in Lugansk or Donetsk.

The situation is fraught with tension, and the 1 million-ruble question remains the same it has been since Moscow brought Crimea back to the motherland: Will Mr. Putin go further, seizing more territory in Ukraine or other parts of Eastern Europe?

In an interview with theTrumpet.com, Lithuanian Ambassador to the United States and Mexico Žygimantas Pavilionis said he thinks Putin may not stop grabbing up Eastern European turf unless the West stands up to him.

“Putin is not finished,” the ambassador said from his Washington, D.C., office during an April 8 telephone interview. “In his mentality, there are no limits of power. If you are obsessed with power, then if you see any obstacle, you try to destroy it. That is what Putin is trying to do.”

Like the nation of Ukraine, Mr. Pavilionis’s native Lithuania was part of the Soviet Union until its demise in the early 1990s. Now, Lithuania is a member of both the European Union and nato, and its citizens have no desire to return to the Russian fold. But since Putin’s annexation of Crimea, many in the Russia-bordering nation fear that their Western-alignment could be at great risk.

That fear was intensified last month after some 3,500 Russian soldiers started tactical maneuvers in the Kaliningrad region, just miles from the borders of Lithuania and Poland.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MQetRY7f4U&feature=youtu.be

Pro-Russian demonstrators battle police as they try to besiege the regional council building in Donetsk, April 6.

Mr. Pavilionis says the worry should extend beyond Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine and other parts of Eastern Europe because Moscow’s aggression is not motivated only by a desire to expand Russian power. Instead, he says it is motivated perhaps even more by Putin’s desire to overturn the Western global order that America has labored for so long to build up and maintain. “It’s about the United States really,” he said. “Russian leaders are attacking the West, in which the U.S. is number one; they are challenging the whole order of democracy and order that the U.S. worked to build.”

Paradoxically, Putin made a big strategic mistake in invading Ukraine: It united Europe very much. It made us think more strategically, and made us consider things that we would not have a few years ago.
Ambassador Zygimantas Pavilionis
According to the ambassador, the solution to the problem is for the West to take a stand against Russia. The good news, he says, is that Putin’s aggression is making such a stand possible because it is galvanizing European cooperation. “Paradoxically, Putin made a big strategic mistake in invading Ukraine: It united Europevery much. It made us think more strategically, and made us consider things that we would not have a few years ago. … After what happened, and after seeing people die in the streets of Kiev in pursuit of freedom, we said Europe must enlarge and cooperate.”

When asked about the role of Berlin in standing up to Russia, Mr. Pavilionis said, “Germany has become more and more active in every front, and in a positive way.”

He said Lithuanians and other Europeans hope that Germany will take on even greater leadership roles in light of the conflict. “We are trying to encourage Germany to be more active in every sphere: energy, economy, also military and politics. Berlin can do more. Since things are becoming more like the 19th or 20th centuries now, we need to be brave. We need more strategy. If we employ all instruments we have at our disposal, we can defend against it.”

Mr. Pavilionis does not feel that Germany’s World War ii legacy means modern Germans should be reluctant to take action. “In the EU, we have a lot of guilt,” he said. “But nato and the EU are real miracles, and we have to preserve those miracles. We have to overcome old complexes and guilt, and reconciliation is key. We European states must wake up and reconcile; otherwise, they divide and conquer.”

He continued: “Germany is now a role model of reconciliation. And now we hope they won’t be so shy. They are the backbone of Europe, and they must spread their support around better than they have in the past.”

We are now seeing democracies disappear from the map. Freedom is shrinking in big numbers, and authoritarian regimes are on the march.
Ambassador Zygimantas Pavilionis
Mr. Pavilionis said some of the problem was the result of nato’s failure, back at the Bucharest conference in 2008, to extend an action plan to make Ukraine, Georgia and other powers members of the security alliance. “Since then,” he said, “we have been paralyzed. Russia can invade and occupy more easily now. We have to be clear, and draw a clear line, and never let Russia encroach past that line.”

The ambassador said the Crimean crisis was part of a larger shift the modern world is undergoing. “We have new military decisions arriving,” he said. “We are now seeing democracies disappear from the map. Freedom is shrinking in big numbers, and authoritarian regimes are on the march. Freedom is being defeated, and the Russian invasion is on a global scale. If we do nothing today, we will regret it.”

Sacrifice, Mr. Pavilionis says, is at the heart of the strategy Europe and the U.S. must employ to reverse this shift. “We had better sacrifice something today—maybe some of our luxuries—before we have to sacrifice it all tomorrow.”

He continued: “They have global power in Russia, and arms with an extended reach. We had better contain them now before it’s too late. Do we have the guts to do it? [Former U.S. President Ronald] Reagan once said, ‘Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.’ Well, it’s our turn now to defend freedom.”

“We have to draw the line before the Russians move tanks on top of it,” he said.

Mr. Pavilionis’s candid and frank comments about Russia’s aggression are representative of the view held by many in Lithuania, Ukraine and beyond. The Crimean crisis truly is a global game changer. To understand what this geopolitical sea change means for Russia’s neighbors to the West, read Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry’s latest article, “The Crimean Crisis Is Reshaping Europe!

Australia’s Housing Bubble Will Pop

Australia’s Housing Bubble Will Pop

Trumpet

House prices and debt levels are hitting new records; be worried.

Australian household debt has reached a new record. Australians are living in the danger zone with debt at an astounding 177 percent of annual disposable income. Borrowing such massive amounts to spend on unproductive assets means economic disaster is virtually guaranteed.

What is this big unproductive asset that so many Australians are spending billions on?

Houses. Big ones, tall ones, even small ones. And they are all going up in price quicker than ever.

House prices rose at the fastest pace in 18 years in March, according to the Guardian. The average house in Australia’s major cities index went up by 2.3 percent in just the past 30 days. Over the past year, house prices across the country rose almost 11 percent. In Sydney they are up over 15 percent.

CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian called the rise in house prices “phenomenal.”

And the trend is showing no sign of slowing down, according to Commonwealth Bank economist Gareth Aird. “Strong population growth, record low interest rates and expectations of further house price appreciation are fueling demand,” he said.

Whoa. Did you catch that? Record low interest rates and buyers’ expectations that houses will keep going up are two of the three big factors pushing prices higher. If that is true, you could hardly ask for clearer signs that the housing market is a bubble. If ever there was a reason not to buy a house in Australia right now, those are two big ones.

Why are interest rates so low in Australia? Because the underlying economy is stuck in a funk with unemployment at a 10-year high, and the Reserve Bank of Australia is using the only real tool it has to keep the economy going—low interest rates—to encourage people to borrow and spend more money.

But increasing debt to stimulate growth is a short-term solution at best. It doesn’t solve the fundamental weakness in the economy. Australia’s manufacturing industry is collapsing. Soon Australia won’t even manufacture vehicles anymore. Ford, Holden and Toyota have all announced that they are shuttering their last plants.

Then there is the risk of a major economic slowdown in China. In March, for the first time ever, China let a corporation default on its debt. This is a sign that China’s highly leveraged corporations are struggling and may no longer be able to count on the government for a bailout. If China is maxed out on debt, who will buy Australia’s iron, coal and other raw commodities? Australia’s main revenue generation streams will get clogged. The Shanghai stock index certainly isn’t the picture of a healthy economy.

As economic analyst John Mauldin wrote on April 5, “The recent collapse in Australian new export orders and moderate contraction in Australian production could point toward a real man-eater lurking in the Chinese bamboo.” Analyst Harry Dent agrees. There is no doubt Australia has a housing bubble in which China plays a major role, as he says in the following video from March 7 (well worth the watch).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JN1WoXHQltA&feature=youtu.be

Japan may be in worse shape than China. On April 1, Japan increased its consumption tax from 5 to 8 percent. It is the first step toward raising it to 10 percent as President Abe tries to grab more money to pay for out-of-control government spending. Days after the tax took effect, the International Monetary Fund slashed Japan’s growth estimate to 1.4 percent.

Without China and Japan, what is left to drive growth? Internal consumption? Not with consumers already maxed out with record debt. Where will the money come from to keep the economy going?

Good question.

Another good question to ask before plopping down half a million or more to buy a house is what will happen to the economy and house prices when the record low interest rates start to rise? It wouldn’t take much of a scare in China or Japan to send the Aussie dollar plummeting. If that happens, politicians won’t be clamoring for a weaker dollar anymore—they will be jacking up interest rates in an effort to prevent full-on investor capital flight. It wasn’t that long ago that the Aussie dollar traded at 52 cents U.S.

Then all the bad things associated with too much debt—80 percent of which is owed to foreigners—will come home to roost.

Consumption will fall drastically. Corporate profits will evaporate. Unemployment will rise. The supply of homes for sale will surge. And buyers will fade away.

“Expectations of further house price appreciation” will fade even faster.

But what about the strong population growth that is supposedly fueling house price gains? An increasing population does support real estate prices. But Australia’s population growth is almost completely due to immigration. Since many immigrants are poor, if the Australian economy crashes, many immigrants may still keep heading to Australia. But that doesn’t mean they will keep buying houses at the same rate. When America’s bubble popped multiple generations of families began moving in together. And if Australians are fighting for jobs, how long will it be before someone gets elected on the promise of saving jobs for Australians?

Population growth, low interest rates and the belief that people needed to buy a house before they were priced out of the market were the exact same lines of reasoning in America before its property bubble burst.

House prices now equate to 4.3 times annual income and 28 times annual rent, both within a fraction of their historic highs.
Barclay’s chief economist, Kieran Davies
But there are some differences between Australia and America. Following the global economic crisis, American households began getting rid of debt (through bankruptcies, write-offs and debt repayment), but Australians kept borrowing through the crisis—and now they are borrowing even more as housing prices stretch even further.

Housing valuations are “flashing red,” says Barclay’s chief economist, Kieran Davies. “House prices now equate to 4.3 times annual income and 28 times annual rent.

Will Australia’s housing bubble burst this year? In 2010, Australia’s housing bubble surpassed America’s in relative proportion. In 2011, the bubble appeared to have burst—but came back with a vengeance. By 2012, it became evident that Australia was suffering from a classic case of Dutch Disease—high levels of natural resources exploitation but at the expense of a withering manufacturing capability, but debt levels continued to expand. Then in 2013, Australia doubled down on its relationship with China.

When will the bubble burst? No one knows. But it is a lot closer to happening today than it was four years ago. Aussies would do well to prepare for a period of increasing hardship akin to what happened in America.