Legal Marijuana Is Making California More Dangerous

The destructive drug is enslaving many and enabling criminal organizations to infiltrate the country.

On January 1, California started selling marijuana for so-called recreational purposes. This means 30 states and the District of Columbia now have laws legalizing some form of marijuana use. Many are praising this as a positive development for America. It’s not. It is, however, a great opportunity for dangerous drug cartels. There is already evidence that some cartels are taking advantage of California’s new law to infiltrate the United States.

Why Is This Important?

California is an epicenter of black-market marijuana production in the U.S. It is estimated that 90 percent of the nation’s illegal marijuana is grown in the state. Many of these black-market farms are run by Mexican drug cartels and supervised by armed guards carrying automatic weapons. For years marijuana legalization activists have said that the only way to defeat these cartels is by legalizing marijuana, so that marijuana farms run by law-abiding citizens can utilize the power of the free market to outcompete the farms run by foreign cartels.

The exact opposite has happened.

After California voted to legalize marijuana last November, illegal growers rushed into rural areas of northern California so fast that one county declared a state of emergency. Drug cartels are now taking advantage of the new laws to legally grow marijuana in California that can be illegally exported to other parts of the country. According to Steven Frick, a special agent from the U.S. Forest Service, these cartels are luring illegal immigrants across the border into California with promises of good-paying jobs growing marijuana on an industrial scale.

Local cattle ranchers in Northern California are buying guns, guard dogs and Kevlar vests and installing electronic gates to protect their families from the dangerous cartels setting up shop across the state.

What Does the Bible Say?

While some argue that legalizing marijuana will solve problems, the fact remains that marijuana is an addictive drug that impairs and even destroys users, their families, and even communities. The Apostle Peter taught about true freedom and people whose idea of freedom was wrong.

In 2 Peter 2:19 he wrote, “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption; for whatever overcomes a man, to that he is enslaved.”

Over 77 million Americans have sniffed, smoked, swallowed or injected themselves with drugs for so-called recreational purposes. Their drug use has not brought them freedom; instead, it has enslaved many to a destructive habit and allowed criminal organizations to overrun large portions of the country.

To learn more about how to achieve true freedom, read our free booklet No Freedom Without Lawby Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry.

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The Iranian Attacks Are Just Getting Started

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Donations for Las Vegas Victims Falling Short Because ‘Blood Touches Blood’

A small group prays at a makeshift memorial with 58 white crosses, one for each victim, on the south end of the Las Vegas Strip, Oct. 6, 2017.
Getty Images

Donations for Las Vegas Victims Falling Short Because ‘Blood Touches Blood’

Where are all the donations for the hundreds of victims of the Las Vegas shooting?

After the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013, around $80 million in donations came in to help the 200 people wounded and the families of the three killed in the attack.

Then in the wake of the 2016 Orlando terrorist attack, almost $30 million was donated to assist the 58 injured and the families of the 49 killed. The amount was so much that even those who only witnessed the shooting were each eligible for $25,000 to help alleviate trauma.

But following the Las Vegas shooting of Oct. 1, 2017—in which Stephen Paddock killed 58 people and wounded more than 850 others—donations for the victims have fallen far short of expectations and needs.

Writing for npr on January 20, Leila Fadel reported:

The fund is falling short of others set up in response to devastating tragedies. [I]n Las Vegas so many more lives were affected and the fund has raised just upward of $22 million. That sounds like a lot until you divide it by 24,000—that’s the estimated number of people at that festival when the shooting happened ….

Fadel says the reason the donations have not been coming in—even though the Las Vegas massacre marked the single deadliest mass shooting in United States history—is because the attack was closely surrounded by many other devastating American calamities. She wrote:

In part, the fund may be suffering because of the back-to-back tragedies in 2017 and into 2018. … Think about it, before the shooting there was Hurricane Harvey that flooded Houston, then Irma in Florida, then Maria that devastated Puerto Rico. Right after the shooting in Las Vegas there were the fires in northern California that killed dozens, then a mass shooting in a Texas church, then more fires in southern California and fatal mudslides.

This is truly an overwhelming list of tragedies.

It’s easy to understand how the rate and severity of so many back-to-back calamities would overwhelm would-be donors. Emotionally and financially, many such individuals are drained. “Compassion fatigue is a real thing,” fundraising specialist Sandy Rees told the Los Angeles Times. “There have been so many things that happened this year,” she said. “But it does get overwhelming, and I think people start to tune out.” As a result, funds have not met expectations.

Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has shown that the Bible prophesies of a time when instances of tragedy for America will be occurring so near to each other that they will basically blend together. In a 2016 article called “What Really Caused the Orlando Terrorist Attack,” he quoted Hosea 4:1-2, saying:

The Bible reveals the root cause of extreme violence in the United States and throughout the modern-day nations descended from ancient Israel. The Prophet Hosea wrote that “blood toucheth blood”: There is hardly a reprieve between mass shootings these days. His warning is for this end time.

Mr. Flurry’s article is specifically addressing instances of intentional, man-made violence, such as last year’s mass shootings in Las Vegas and Texas. When weather disasters—such as the disastrous hurricanes, floods and fires that also struck America in 2017—are added to the equation, the feeling that “there is hardly a reprieve” grows even more acute.

To understand why so many overwhelming tragedies and disasters are hitting the U.S., and what the remedy for the mayhem is, read Mr. Flurry’s article “Las Vegas Massacre: Problem, Cause—and Solution.”

Germany’s Record-breaking Arms Exports

Turkish soldiers stand on their German-made Leopard 2A4 battle tanks stationed in a field near the Syrian border at Hassa, in Hatay province on January 25, 2018, as part of the operation ‘Olive Branch’, launched a few days ago.
OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images

Germany’s Record-breaking Arms Exports

Listen to the Jan. 25, 2018, episode of the Trumpet Daily Radio Show.

Germany’s arms industry is booming. Despite past pledges by the government to reduce arms exports, it recently approved massive weapons exports to nations involved in regional conflicts, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. The Trumpet carefully monitors Germany’s actions in the Middle East and North Africa, because Bible prophecy specifically identifies nations in the region that will ally with Germany in these last days. We discuss this and more on today’s Trumpet Daily Radio Show.

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China’s Fishing Fleets Are Fighting a Shadowy War to Expand the Country

Fishing boats set sail in the South China Sea on Aug. 16, 2017, in Sanya, Hainan province of China.
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China’s Fishing Fleets Are Fighting a Shadowy War to Expand the Country

We should not mistake them for ragtag fishermen acting on their own.

“When our country needs us, we will go without a second thought to defend China’s rights,” said Chen Yuguo in a recent interview with the Washington Post.

If Chen were a sailor in China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy, or perhaps an officer of the Chinese Coast Guard, his pledge to use force for his country would not be particularly noteworthy.

But Mr. Chen is a fisherman.

As captain of a trawler based in the port of Tanmen, Chen is one of China’s 6 million plus fishermen. He pilots one of the country’s 2,600 distant-water fishing ships.

And much of this massive fleet is charged with more than ordinary fishing. China indeed “needs” them, as Chen said, but not to “defend China’s rights.” Instead, the Chinese government uses its huge fishing fleets to take control of territory that does not rightfully belong to Beijing.

‘Fish, Protect, Occupy and Control’

China analysts commonly discuss the fact that Beijing has both the largest navy in the world and also the largest coast guard. But far less frequently acknowledged is that these two official maritime forces are reinforced by the world’s largest fishing fleet.

And the reinforcement the fishing fleet provides is not as haphazard as it may look at first glance.

“This is in no way a collection of innocent, random, patriotic fishermen,” said Andrew Erickson, a professor of strategy in the U.S. Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute. “China likes to have that camouflage and likes to misportray it in that way,” he said, “but it is not the case at all.”

A Chinese fishing boat captain removes the national flag on his boat after bringing in the last catch for the season in Qionghai, South China’s Hainan province.
AFP/Getty Images

Erickson said much of China’s fishing fleet functions as a “maritime militia.” They are “trained, equipped and organized directly by the pla’s local military commands,” Erickson said, referring to the People’s Liberation Army. “[I]t answers to the very top of China’s centralized bureaucracy: Commander in Chief Xi Jinping himself.”

Christopher Rawley, a United States Navy Reserve captain and a member of the board of directors of the Center for International Maritime Security, agrees with Erickson’s assessment: “When you look at the thousands and thousands of fishing boats operating out of China, you really should consider them a third arm of Beijing’s naval presence,” according to a U.S Naval Institute’s paraphrase of Rawley.

Beijing uses this “third arm” as the advance guard to fight its expansionist battles in the South China Sea and beyond. And the fishing fleet’s involvement in China’s battles is not a rare occurrence. “Local fishermen have assisted more than 250 law enforcement operations at sea over the past three years,” the state-run China Daily reported in 2016. Since then, such instances have only become more routine.

First, fishing boats blaze a trail in disputed waters and confront the vessels of other nations; then the Chinese Coast Guard steps in; next come land reclamation projects; and it ends with militarization and domination.

The fishermen are happy to play their role despite the inherent dangers: Besides catching more fish in the contested waters than they would in the depleted areas off China’s coast, the fishermen also feel they are accomplishing their patriotic obligation: “It is our water,” Chen said, referring to almost the entire South China Sea. “But if we don’t fish there, how can we claim it is our territory?”

The basic strategy, according to international security expert Alan Dupont, happens in this sequence: First, fishing boats blaze a trail in disputed waters and confront the vessels of other nations; then the Chinese Coast Guard steps in; next come land reclamation projects; and it ends with militarization and domination. “I call the strategy ‘fish, protect, occupy and control,’” Dupont said.

And the strategy is working.

Securing the Scarborough Shoal

If a Filipino fisherman today wants to visit the Scarborough Shoal, he can only do so with the permission of Chinese authorities.

But this has not always been the situation.

After all, Scarborough is only 120 nautical miles from the Philippines, which means it lies well within the area that international law calls Manila’s “Exclusive Economic Zone,” or eez. The United Nations Law of Seas says a country’s territorial borders extend 200 nautical miles from its coast, and this maritime region constitutes that country’s eez. Any natural resources found within a given nation’s eez belong exclusively to that country.

But in 2012, the Philippine Navy caught a group of Chinese fishing ships anchored at the Scarborough Shoal—some 550 miles from the closest Chinese land. Philippine authorities boarded the vessels and found considerable amounts of endangered marine species in the hands of the fishermen. But before they could make any arrests, two Chinese Coast Guard ships arrived and worked with the fishing vessels to cordon off the mouth of the lagoon.

A 10-week-long standoff ensued. Throughout the period, vessels from the pla Navy floated on the horizon, sending the Philippines a silent signal of the force Beijing was willing to use. Finally, the U.S. brokered what it believed was a deal for both sides to withdraw and return to the status quo ante.

As stipulated by the agreement, the Philippines pulled out. But China did not honor its end of the bargain. Instead, Beijing kept its maritime vessels at Scarborough Shoal, and they remain there to this day on vigilant patrol.

“[T]here was no question that Beijing had scored a tactical victory at Manila’s expense by successfully seizing and occupying the disputed area,” said Ely Ratner, deputy director of the Center for a New American Security’s Asia-Pacific Security Program.

Thanks largely to the fishing fleet, Beijing won this gray-zone conflict. The Scarborough Shoal now effectively belongs to China.
Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/Digital Globe

Ratner and other analysts agree that if China had captured Scarborough with overt military or coast guard vessels, it would have likely prompted a weightier response from the U.S. and considerable backlash from the international community. But since Beijing used nonmilitary vessels as the front line, the skirmish remained in a gray zone.

And the gray zone—meaning a place between war and peace in which conflict occurs but stays beneath the threshold of conventional warfare—is precisely where China wants these types of territorial clashes to take place.

Thanks largely to the fishing fleet, Beijing won this gray-zone conflict. The Scarborough Shoal now effectively belongs to China.

After China’s victory was clear, state media lauded the fishermen as an “advanced militia unit.” President Xi personally praised the fishermen who took part, and advised the fleet to more actively back China’s “island and reef” development projects.

The HYSY 981 Standoff

On May 2, 2014, China placed its hysy 981 offshore oil rig in waters near the Paracel Islands, about 120 miles from Vietnam’s coast. Vietnam decried the move as a clear infringement of its sovereignty and sent 29 ships to the area to challenge it.

But China used all three of its maritime forces—the pla Navy, the Coast Guard and the fishing fleet—to form a 10-nautical-mile cordon around the oil rig. Altogether the Chinese had some 80 vessels surrounding hysy 981, and were able to forcibly repulse the Vietnamese. “All three of China’s sea forces were there,” Erickson said, adding that “they were all communicating and coordinating and they were acting together in a relatively effective manner.”

Over the next few weeks, a standoff took place and each side reported being rammed and water-cannoned by the other nation’s vessels. On May 26, a large, steel-hulled Chinese fishing boat was caught on video ramming and sinking a smaller Vietnamese fishing boat. The Vietnamese boat capsized, throwing eight of its crewmen into the sea. Two others remained in the cabin, but were able to swim out through a window that had broken during the attack.

“The attack is an intentional act that was aimed at killing Vietnamese fishermen,” said Nguyen Van Sy, an official with the company that salvaged the sunken ship.

The video can be watched here:

The incident marked a dramatic escalation in the standoff. And if China had sunk the Vietnamese vessel with a pla Navy or Coast Guard ship, the matter would almost certainly have provoked a meaningful response from the U.S. or other nations. But since Beijing was able to claim that the fishermen who sunk the ship were acting independently and only in self-defense, there was little kickback. China was able to leave the rig in the region, harvesting Vietnam’s oil, as long as it chose to.

The Diplomat said the hysy 981 standoff allowed China to achieve its “primary goals of broadcasting to its neighbors that a rising Vietnam alone could not stop it and the U.S. would not intervene.”

Once again, the victory for Beijing was thanks in large part to its fishing fleet.

A Page from Putin’s Playbook

Two months before the hysy 981 standoff, Russian President Vladimir Putin pried the Crimean Peninsula away from Ukraine and grafted it into Russia. Putin did not accomplish this illegal land grab with an overt military invasion. Instead, he sent Russian soldiers into Ukraine with the insignia removed from their uniforms and the signage taken off their vehicles.

By deploying these “little green men” instead of unconcealed troops, the Russian government had a degree of deniability, which hindered potential challenges. “Were they mercenaries? Could it be Crimean vigilantes? Or was this some unsanctioned adventure by a local commander?” asked Russian security affairs specialist Mark Galeotti. “[T]he lack of insignia on these ‘little green men’ and Moscow’s flat denial that they were Russian troops was enough to inject a moment’s uncertainty into the calculations in both Kiev and nato. [A]nd Russia was able to seize Crimea without a single fatal casualty.”

By the time of the Crimean annexation, China had already been using the “little blue men” of its fishing fleet as the advance guard to assert its expansionist territorial claims. But Putin’s success in Crimea may well have spurred the Chinese leadership to increase such hybrid warfare tactics.

Using “little blue men” not only gives Beijing a degree of deniability, but the quasi-civilian status of the fishermen complicates the rules of engagement for U.S. naval vessels; for coast guard personnel from the Philippines, Vietnam and South Korea; and for any other official government entity trying to combat the illegal behavior.

Since these shadowy, hybrid war tactics have helped both China and Russia to successfully expand their domination, it is likely that Beijing and Moscow will continue relying on them.

Using “little blue men” not only gives Beijing a degree of deniability, but the quasi-civilian status of the fishermen complicates the rules of engagement for U.S. naval vessels; for coast guard personnel from the Philippines, Vietnam and South Korea; and for any other official government entity trying to combat the illegal behavior.

‘Steering the World Toward War’

Many analysts are not particularly alarmed by China’s increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea and elsewhere. As Ratner said, “From their vantage point, accommodation is preferable to risking war over ‘a bunch of rocks.’”

But Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has said that China’s takeover in this region is “steering the world toward war.” In our July 2016 issue, he wrote about the Spratly Islands, which are claimed by China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam. These islands are the main location where Chen Yuguo and numerous other fishermen currently focus on asserting Chinese dominance.

“China is ignoring these nations’ territorial claims,” Mr. Flurry wrote. “China is being aggressive and provocative,” and thereby challenging “seven decades of American naval dominance in the Pacific Rim.” This aggressive behavior “should alarm the world!” he wrote.

Speaking of the South China Sea, through which a full third of the world’s maritime commerce passes each year, Mr. Flurry wrote, “Since Japan’s defeat in World War ii, America has protected this vital trade route and brought peace to this part of the world.” But since the U.S. military is now retreating from the region, “other great powers are coming in to fill the vacuum,” he continued. “China is intimidating the nations of Southeast Asia into submission to its will. It is forcing these countries to do what it wants. Everything is headed in the direction of war.”

Mr. Flurry’s assessment of the South China Sea situation is based on the sure word of Bible prophecy.

In the book of Deuteronomy, God issues a solemn warning to the nations of Israel, explaining that if they reject Him, He will hand control over the world’s strategic sea gates to their enemies. And He warned that these enemy nations would use that control to besiege the nations of Israel: “And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trusted, throughout all thy land …” (Deuteronomy 28:52).

Mr. Flurry explained that this ancient warning is not just for ancient peoples. “It is a prophecy for the modern-day descendants of Israel,” he wrote. “Two nations in particular represent Israel in this end time: America and Britain.” These two countries “are full of terrible sins today, and God is going to correct them for that!” he wrote. “This prophecy and several others show that He will send foreign enemies to punish America and Britain!”

China’s push against the status quo in the South China Sea and other parts of its periphery is moving toward the fulfillment of this prophecy.

But Mr. Flurry makes clear that this approaching besiegement and war is connected to some astoundingly hope-filled news: “All this prophesied destruction is what it will take for God to reach this world!” he wrote. “After this, people will be ashamed—and they will get to know God! Ezekiel repeatedly talked about that inspiring conclusion (e.g. Ezekiel 6:7; 7:4; 11:10; 12:20; 13:9; 23:48-49; etc). Yes, there is a lot of bad news when you consider what it takes to get people to the point of knowing God. But ultimately, the outcome is spectacularly good news!”

To understand the inspiring details of this “spectacularly good news,” order a free copy of Mr. Flurry’s book Ezekiel: The End-Time Prophet.

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Turkey Launches Operation Olive Branch in Syria

Turkish tanks are parked near the Syrian border at Hassa, in Hatay province, on January 24, as part of Operation Olive Branch.
OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images

Turkey Launches Operation Olive Branch in Syria

Turkey’s latest offensive in Syria could further shift regional alliances.

Turkey has begun a military operation in Syria’s northwestern region of Afrin as part of its ongoing effort to solve the Syrian crisis and combat what it calls terrorists.

Code-named Operation Olive Branch, the offensive is Turkey’s effort to rid the Afrin border region of an estimated 10,000 Kurdish militants and create a 20-mile-deep security buffer. The Kurdish rebels are affiliated with the People’s Protection Units (ypg) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (pkk), and Turkey considers them terrorists.

Operation Olive Branch began on January 20, six days after the United States announced plans to support a 30,000-strong “border force” of Kurdish fighters in Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan angrily responded to that announcement: “A country we call an ally is insisting on forming a terror army on our borders. What can that terror army target but Turkey?” He then threatened, “Our mission is to strangle it before it’s even born.” Hence the Afrin offensive.

“Our goal is not to clash with Russians, the Syrian regime or the United States,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. “[I]t is to battle the terrorist organization.”

The New York Times reported on January 22:

The Turkish offensive, carried out over the protests of the United States but with the apparent assent of Russia, marks a perilous new phase in relations between two nato allies—bringing their interests into direct conflict on the battlefield. It lays bare how much leverage the United States has lost in Syria, where its single-minded focus has been on vanquishing Islamist militants.

Both America and Russia have expressed concern over the Turkish offensive, and both have urged Turkey to show restraint in the operation. However, according to some analysts, Russia acquiesced to Turkey’s invasion because it wanted to undermine the U.S. According to Sergei Markov, a political analyst and a former Russian politician, “Russia does not publicly support such a military operation, but it opened the gate for this operation because it basically starts a proxy war between Turkey and the U.S. [through the ypg].”

The significance of Turkey’s offensive is twofold. First, it exposes Turkey’s tendency to betray friends and alienate allies. The war in Syria has provided a rare opportunity for Turkey, Russia and Iran to unite and attempt to jointly resolve the crisis. But Russia’s reluctance to support Turkey, among other recent developments, shows that this alliance may be failing. The Syrian crisis has also worsened Turkey’s relationship with the U.S., its foremost nato ally.

Second, it reveals the growing power of Turkey’s strongman Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and the Turkish military. Turkey’s military is one of the most powerful in the Middle East. Its strategic location as a land bridge connecting the Middle East, the Caucasus and Europe gives it tremendous geopolitical clout.

Can Bible prophecy shed any light on this development? It can. A prophecy in Psalm 83, for example, indicates that modern-day Turkey will be powerful enough to form a major political and military alliance with select Arab nations and Germany. This prophecy also indicates that this German-Arab bloc would be strongly anti-American, and would actively work to undermine the U.S.

Germany is Turkey’s most important trading partner, but in recent months and years, ties between the two nations have been severely strained by Erdoğan’s turn toward authoritarianism and a spat between him and European leaders, particularly German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Turkey angered Germany further when it imprisoned several German journalists and human rights activists. But there are signs of the “beginnings of a Turkish-German bromance,” as Politico wrote on January 12.

Spiegel Online wrote on January 22 that “recently, Ankara has begun sending early signals of rapprochement toward Berlin, and several innocent German citizens, imprisoned for no good reason, have been released.” It reported that the Turks and Germans are currently negotiating the release of one particular German citizen in exchange for German weapons and enhancements to Turkey’s German-made Leopard 2 tanks, which Turkey desperately needs in its operations in Syria.

Listen to Trumpet executive editor Stephen Flurry discuss this subject.

In The King of the South, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry discusses Turkey’s alliance with Germany in a chapter titled “A Mystery Alliance.” Read it online or request a personal copy of Mr. Flurry’s free booklet to understand the biblical prophecies about Turkey’s destiny.

Suggested additional reading:

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The Conspiracy Against Donald Trump Intensifies

President Donald Trump attends a meeting on immigration with Republican senators in the White House on January 4.
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The Conspiracy Against Donald Trump Intensifies

Listen to the Jan. 24, 2018, episode of the Trumpet Daily Radio Show.

As the fbi’s Special Counsel investigation continues looking for evidence proving United States President Donald Trump colluded with Russia or somehow obstructed justice, the real scandal is the intensifying conspiracy to bring down a duly elected president! According to an Israeli newspaper, former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently met with a close associate of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in London and urged the Palestinians to stay strong and not yield to President Trump. Kerry reportedly said that Donald Trump could be out of office within a year. For this and more, listen to the Trumpet Daily Radio Show, with Stephen Flurry.

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