Britain’s Choice

The shaky new government can’t ignore it much longer.
From the July 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

Two of the most powerful nations in the last two centuries are currently laboring under patently unworkable governments.

On the one hand, Germany wobbles under a coalition government that has recently lost its majority in the nation’s upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat. Its chancellor faces pressure from the public and her fellow politicians due to a poor showing leading the country since Germany’s last federal election in September 2009.

On the other, Britain—for so long the nation that juggled the balance of power in pre-World War i Europe, and which has been a balancer of types till recently even in the European Union—has cobbled together what appears at first sight to be a most dysfunctional coalition between the conservative Tories and center-left Liberal Democrats.

Both nations are caught in the midst of crises. Germany sits at the very center of the eurozone sovereign debt crisis. Britain faces a national debt of horrendous proportions, and teeters on the brink of being classed among the piigs countries—Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain—in terms of the risk to its financial standing in the global community.

At present, Britain is part of a European Union dominated by Germany. Even its own newspapers admit that Germany is once again master of Europe.

Among the staggering challenges facing Britain’s newly appointed government—not the least being its overwhelming debt—it will soon have to face up to one great, overarching political decision: Will the government continue to resist the will of the people by retaining membership of the European Union? Or will it yield to the rising tide of anti-EU sentiment and leave?

Who Will Help Britain?

An intriguing prophecy in the book of Hosea describes an aging Britain (biblical Ephraim) as a multiethnic society whose national energy is sapped by the foreigners that live within its island borders: “Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned. Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not: yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth it not” (Hosea 7:8-9).

The prophecy declares that when Britain finally wakes up to its problems, it will go cap in hand to, of all peoples, its old, traditional enemy: Germany! “When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah saw his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian … yet could he not heal you, nor cure you of your wound” (Hosea 5:13).

In this context, it is interesting to note that certain voices within the EU have already warned the British government to not consider help from that quarter in its hour of financial need. “Officials from both euro and non-euro countries said Britain should not ask for help if it runs into trouble because it had not signed up to a €378 billion support fund,” the Telegraph reported.

“French, Swedish and many Brussels officials have predicted that it is only a matter of time before sterling is hit by the same market turbulence that came close to destroying the euro at the weekend.

“Jean-Pierre Jouyet, a former French Europe minister and the current chairman of France’s financial services authority, yesterday predicted only ‘God would help’ a rudderless Britain after it snubbed its eurozone neighbors.

“‘There is not a two-speed Europe but a three-speed Europe. You have Europe of the euro, Europe of the countries that understand the euro … and you have the English,’ he said.

“‘The English are very certainly going to be targeted given the political difficulties they have. Help yourself and heaven will help you. If you don’t want to show solidarity to the eurozone, then let’s see what happens to the United Kingdom’” (May 11).

Will God and heaven help Britain in its hour of need?

How could that even be remotely expected when even the level of honor bestowed on God by those who prayed for victory over Nazi Germany 70 years ago has been sacrificed on the altar of the EU in Britain’s own iconic bastion of its traditional religion?

On Sunday, May 6, a service was held in Westminster Abbey to mark the 60th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration, the founding instrument of today’s European Union, a document based on the corporatist ideal of Nazi Germany. Prayers were offered in support of all EU institutions in a manner that paid obeisance to the EU over and above that owed by the British peoples to their sovereign and any normally due acknowledgment that was once paid to its once-sovereign British institutions. The European flag was the dominant symbol of the day—displacing the once-time-honored Union Jack, with all of its wonderful symbolism of the Britons’ true national heritage.

Had it been possible, the rumble from the heroes of Britain turning in their graves at Westminster would surely have shaken the entire cathedral to its very foundations!

Help from God, help from heaven in Britain’s hour of need? Not until the true God of the British and of all mankind witnesses a great national repentance from the British peoples!

The good news is, that day will come! But until that day dawns, God is going to hide His face from a sin-sick, morally deficient and rebellious people who, having lost their true national identity, have trashed their incredible national potential! They are a nation that has turned its back on the very God who once had blessed it more than any single nation on Earth!

So what is God’s response? “I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early” (verse 15).

OH! Once-Great Britain, PRAY for that day—for time is short! It is later than you think!

For greater insight into the UK’s future, request a free copy of our booklet Hosea—Reaping the Whirlwind.

California: Is an Earthquake Imminent?

California: Is an Earthquake Imminent?

Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Both science and Bible prophecy agree that a large earthquake in California is inevitable.

Heidi Koontz, the public affairs specialist at the United States Geological Service, says that one of the most popular questions being asked of the usgs is: Is this the end of the world?

This is not surprising. Open Drudge on any given day and you’re almost certain to learn of a decent-size earthquake rattling buildings and nerves somewhere in the world. Yesterday, a 6.0-magnitude temblor shook southern Mexico, causing people to evacuate buildings as far north as Mexico City. On Saturday, residents in the Solomon Islands experienced one of the largest earthquakes in a decade. Three days prior, a quake measuring 5.0 surprised millions when it rumbled southern Ontario, Quebec and a large swathe of America’s eastern seaboard.

In recent weeks, other large quakes have struck along the Pacific Ring of Fire, including Indonesia, Philippines, Japan, Alaska and western Canada. On June 14 in Southern California, two dozen quakes, the largest measuring 5.7, rattled the region, spilling merchandise in stores and temporarily delaying a Major League baseball game. Experts say the quakes were aftershocks of the Easter Sunday (April 4) temblor, which at 7.2-magnitude was referred to as “the biggest shock to the region in decades.”

No wonder people are growing a little nervous.

Recalling a recent conversation, Koontz stated: “I received a call from a psychiatrist who is getting an influx of patients who are really concerned about the end of days and he wanted us to pinpoint science and provide him with links to science that would help allay the fears of some of his patients. He needed some hard facts, and he said that that actually helped.”

Naturally, usgs scientists—being scientists—gladly downplay the notion that we might be in the last days and that there is no more to these rumblings than the routine clashing and creaking of tectonic plates. “Although it may seem that we are having more earthquakes,” the usgs assures us, “earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or greater have remained fairly constant.” This is all pretty normal, seismologist Harley Benz told Fox News: “You can expect earthquakes in locations where we are known to have earthquakes.”

Perhaps Benz and the usgs are right —geologically these earthquakes might be routine and are not anomalous. (Although what is historically anomalous is the death of nearly a quarter of a million people from earthquakes in 2010 alone.) According to Koontz, when people heard the “hard facts” delivered by scientists, their concerns that we might be in the biblically prophesied “last days” were allayed.

Mine aren’t—not in the least. According to the usgs, in any given year one can expect 15 major quakes (7.0 on the Richter scale or higher) plus one great quake (8.0 or higher). We are six months into 2010 and already we’ve had one great quake and nine major quakes. Remarking on the frequency of quakes in 2010, the San Francisco Chronicle observed March 1: “As of this writing, there’s no documentation of such a frequency of quakes as the one the world has seen this year, with so many large quakes in a two-month period” (emphasis mine).

Perhaps science confirms that earthquakes are routine. But it also confirms that larger earthquakes are becoming more common—and that’s not very comforting!

Consider also: If science confirms that large earthquakes occur randomly and often, doesn’t this mean that a massive quake will inevitably occur in one of the seismically active regions of America? Perhaps California?

Again, take a look at the science. Last year, scientists from the University of California–Irvine published new research on the San Andreas fault, the tectonic boundary between the Pacific plate and the North American plate, which runs beneath the heavily populated Los Angeles basin. The scientists discovered that over the past 700 years a large earthquake (larger than 8.0) had occurred on the fault about every 137 years. (Prior to these findings scientists believed a major quake occurred roughly every 200 years.) The last major quake in the San Andreas fault system was the Fort Tejon temblor of 1857.

The math is simple: 1857 + 137 = 1994!

So, according to scientific research, the San Andreas fault is roughly 15 years overdue for a large earthquake. (Note, the 1994 Northridge quake did not directly involve the San Andreas fault system.)

The 2009 report by UC Irvine scientists confirms the warnings of many seismologists who for years, even decades, have forecast the “big one” in California. “It’s been long enough since 1857 that we should be concerned about another great earthquake that ruptures through this part of the fault,” said Ken Hudnut, a geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey.

When it hits, experts say this quake will be at least as big as the 1994 Northridge quake, which killed more than 70 people, injured 9,000 and inflicted $20 billion in damage. “The big one is going to be on the San Andreas fault of around magnitude 8.0,” warned Dr. Nancy King, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey. “We can’t predict earthquakes,” she warned, “but someday there will be another big one on the San Andreas … which will be a real disaster. So people need to be ready.”

As King admitted, it’s impossible for anyone to predict the specific time of arrival of California’s next great quake. But looking at the intense seismic activity, particularly around the Pacific Ring of Fire, it’s impossible not to wonder if it may not be soon—really soon. Remarking on the recent spate of quakes near the California-Mexico border, and specifically the seismic activity on the fault on which the temblors occurred, Thomas Jordan, director of the Southern California Center at usc, recently stated: “It’s been especially rich at the north end [which juts into Southern California] of the fault.”

Is bustling Southern California about to be struck by a massive earthquake?

In Matthew 24, Christ’s disciples asked what signs would precede His Second Coming and the end of this present age. Jesus responded by delivering the most pivotal prophecy of His earthly ministry, the Olivet prophecy. It is clear that Christ was speaking about the time we are living in right now. In verses 21-22, for example, He said that He would return at a time when all human flesh would risk being destroyed. This can only be talking about today’s nuclear age.

Now notice verses 6-7: “And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers [different] places” (verses 6-7).

Jesus told His disciples that terrible natural disasters would precede His Second Coming, and He warned specifically that there would be earthquakes in different places. Of course, as the scientists are quick to tell us, earthquakes routinely occur “in different places.” Christ, however, was warning that not only would there be an uptick in the number of earthquakes, but that these quakes would inflict greater damage on mankind.

He was prophesying that large, devastating earthquakes would increasingly rumble through densely populated areas. Already in 2010 we’ve witnessed this occur in Haiti, and to a lesser extent in Chile. For Americans, these devastating quakes are really a chilling sign: Both science and Bible prophecy warn that a massive earthquake is inevitable in California!

If you rank among those surveying this trembling planet and quietly wondering if something more significant is happening (or about to happen), check out our recent article “Why Have Natural Disasters Increased?

Is Washington After Israel’s Nukes?

Forget Iran—the Obama administration appears more worried about Israel’s nuclear program.
From the July 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

It appears the next phase in the standoff over Iran’s apocalypse-inducing nuclear weapons program is beginning to come into focus.

In the months ahead, don’t be surprised if the efforts of the Obama administration to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions become predicated on the nuclear disarmament of the Jewish state. Why is this likely? Simple: Such a mandate is the inevitable outgrowth of the foolish yet increasingly pervasive tendency to consider as equals the nuclear ambitions of Israel and Iran.

Iran’s Lecture on Nuclear Proliferation

This false moral equivalence between the nuclear programs of Iran and the Jewish state was on display in New York in May, at the month-long Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (npt). The conference was supposed to focus on revising and updating the npt, of which Israel has never been a signatory. But when the conference opened, it quickly became evident that UN member states had set their sights on what Asia Times described as a “predictable target.”

That would be Israel.

In one of the first addresses of the conference, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa spoke on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, the largest single coalition within the United Nations (118 of the 192 UN countries are members). According to Asia Times, Natalegawa noted specifically that it was Israel’s refusal to sign the npt that had “resulted in the continued exposure of non-nuclear-weapon states of the [Middle East] to nuclear threats by the only country possessing these weapons of mass destruction” (May 5).

Forget Iran’s fearless scramble for nukes—most UN member states apparently believe the greatest nuclear threat in the Middle East comes from Israel’s refusal to sign the npt.

After Natalegawa’s address, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the only head of state who personally attended the conference, took the podium. Following his requisite praises of Allah and ominous invocation for the speedy arrival of the Mahdi, Ahmadinejad waxed eloquent for 35 minutes on how the npt can be improved, and how the United States and the “Zionist regime” are the central cause of nuclear proliferation.

“Regrettably, the government of the United States has not only used nuclear weapons, but also continues to threaten to use such weapons against other countries, including Iran,” Ahmadinejad “righteously” lamented. That’s not all, according to Iran’s president. The “Zionist regime” has “stockpiled hundreds of nuclear warheads,” and with support and sustenance from America, has “waged many wars in the region and continues to threaten the people and nations of the region with terror and invasion.”

Seriously, can you think of the last time Israel engaged in a conflict that was not strictly defensive?

A Nuclear-Free Middle East?

This moral equivalence on display at the UN came amid reports that Egypt too is preparing to step up pressure on Israel regarding its nuclear arsenal.

“Egypt is … declaring that the threat of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East cannot be tied solely to Iran’s nuclear ambitions but must also address the region’s only existing nuclear power: Israel,” the Christian Science Monitor reported (May 4; emphasis mine). Speaking in New York, Egypt’s ambassador to the UN stated, “We refuse the existence of any nuclear weapons in the [Middle East], whether it is in Iran or whether it is in Israel.”

Think on that: These people behave as though there’s no difference between Israel having nukes and Iran having nukes!

Not surprisingly, Egypt’s renewed efforts to focus on Israel’s nuclear weapons caught the attention of the Obama administration. Reports emerged that it has begun negotiating with Egypt over a proposal to make the Middle East—which would have to include Israel—a region free of nuclear weapons. Although it has apparently assured Israel that it’s not about to impose a nuclear-free zone on the Middle East, clearly this White House is prepared to tackle the issue of Israel’s nukes more directly than previous administrations.

“We’ve made a proposal to them [Egypt] that goes beyond what the U.S. has been willing to do before,” a senior administration official told the Wall Street Journal (May 1).

Clearly, this Cairo-Washington collaboration does not bode well for Israel. “As far as Israel is concerned this is very problematic,” stated Dr. Eytan Gilboa, a senior researcher at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. “The fact that the U.S. is pushing this along with Egypt could threaten our vital national security at a time when relations with the U.S. are tense and the threat from Iran is becoming more and more serious every day.”

The notion that Israel’s nuclear weapons destabilize the Middle East is simply absurd. Even more absurd, though, is that such a notion was openly and widely entertained at a UN conference on the npt, which America’s president has said is the “cornerstone of the world’s efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons” (statement, March 5).

As Bret Stephens wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “Iran, in connivance with the usual Middle Eastern suspects (and their useful idiots in the West), is trying to use the npt as a cudgel to force Israel to disarm” (May 4).

America and the West are unlikely to begin immediately to explicitly and forcefully demand that Israel sign the npt and start discarding its nuclear weapons. Inevitably, however, this conference and the Washington-Cairo agreement will foster a false moral equivalence between Israel’s nuclear program and Iran’s. The more the nuclear ambitions of Israel and Iran are discussed in the same conversation, the more ingrained and mainstream the moral equivalence will become.

Expect it to become widely accepted that curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions is contingent upon addressing the issue of Israel’s nukes!

A Big, Big Difference

American leaders’ growing failure to discern between the foreign-policy objectives of nations like Israel and Iran is a sign of the moral decay besieging Washington.

It is no secret that Israel developed nuclear weapons during the heat of the Cold War as a defensive measure. Or that Israel has possessed nukes for roughly four decades and has never come close to exploding a single bomb—not even during the heat of its many wars. Or that Israel never officially discusses its nuclear cache and never parades them about.

It is no secret that Israel, for decades, has been a stable and responsible proprietor of nuclear weapons!

Yet to Mr. Obama, there appears to be little distinction between Israel’s nukes and the nuclear aspirations of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—even though Iran exists today as the number-one state sponsor of terrorism—even though Tehran bankrolls the activities of terrorist proxies in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon and further afield—even though Iranian mullahs and government leaders alike boast publicly about America’s annihilation and the Jewish state’s demise—and even though Iran’s president prays openly for the return of the Mahdi and is actively working to precipitate the planet-engulfing chaos and violence that he says will precede it.

The same week that Ahmadinejad was swooning before the UN, news broke that on his way to New York he had stopped by Zimbabwe. Apparently a deal had been struck with Robert Mugabe the previous month that will allow Iran to swap oil for uranium. President Obama ignores the fact that Tehran is developing an advanced ballistic missile program and putting satellites into space, all in preparation for the moment—which many believe is now imminent—when it can bolt a nuclear payload to a missile and fire it into Israel, or Europe, or even the United States.

Any serious effort by Washington to deal with Iran’s nuclear program by pressuring Israel to reduce or transform its nuclear equation plays into Tehran’s hand. It gives Tehran more time in its quest for nukes. To whatever degree Washington accepts a moral equivalence between the nuclear programs of Iran and Israel, it legitimizes this ridiculous argument as it is used by Ahmadinejad and Iran’s mullahs. In the hands of the global anti-Israel media, this false moral equivalence would quickly become mainstream.

Such muddled thinking also seriously undermines the crucial U.S.-Israeli relationship. Biblical history testifies to the familial bond between Manasseh (America) and Judah (the Jewish people). (To fully understand this relationship, request your free copy of The United States and Britain in Prophecy.) Bible prophecy says that in the end time this brotherhood would be severed. In Zechariah 11:14, God said He would “break the brotherhood between Judah [modern-day Israel] and Israel,” primarily the United States and Britain. The more the Obama administration treats Iran and Israel as equals, the more it irreparably damages America’s relationship with the Jewish state.

Bible prophecy informs us that Israel—abandoned by America and unwilling to turn to God for help—will run to Assyria (Germany) for assistance. To learn how Germany will respond, and about the future of the Middle East, request our free booklet The King of the South.

Yet Another Curse

When will the nightmare in the Gulf stop? Why are unprecedented disasters multiplying?
From the July 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

Five years after Hurricane Katrina—promptly followed by Hurricane Rita—many Gulf Coast residents are still struggling to get back on their feet. But it’s not the sky that’s threatening them this time with devastating winds, widespread destruction and billions of dollars in damage. It’s the sea.

“I’ve been through Hurricane Camille, Hurricane Frederick and Hurricane Katrina,” said one Alabama realtor. “They all pale in comparison to this.”

“This” is a silent, spreading, inky blackness penetrating, permeating and polluting the waters off the Gulf Coast: The world’s biggest oil slick.

This is merely the latest link in a lengthening chain of curses for the United States. Its magnitude is growing by the day—and just when and how it will end, nobody knows.

How Did It Happen?

On April 20, the giant Deepwater Horizon oil-drilling platform was floating in the Gulf of Mexico about 50 miles off Louisiana. Gathered on board were 126 workers and executives from BP, which leased the $500 million rig for half a million dollars per day. They were celebrating the project’s seven-year safety record.

Just a few months prior, Deepwater Horizon had made history, drilling a 6-mile well, the world’s deepest. In more recent weeks, it had lowered its drill through one mile of seawater to the ocean floor, drilling an exploration well another two miles below the seabed into the Macondo Prospect in Mississippi Canyon 252. In spite of delays and a few glitches, the crew was finally wrapping up the final stages of sealing the well for future use.

What happened next is still being investigated. But it was a disaster.

Workers set a cement seal at the well, then reduced pressure in the drill column to set a second seal below the ocean floor. As the cement set, it produced heat, which reacted with methane and, it appears, produced a gas bubble.

Rigs often encounter slushy, crystalline, potentially dangerous pockets of methane underwater. And, in an industry that rivals the space program for pioneering technology, several fail-safes are in place to prevent the oil man’s worst nightmare: a blowout.

To keep the immense pressure of undersea oil in check, well holes are blocked by piping and plugged with cement. Hydrostatic drilling “mud” fills the cavity around the drill string and leaves the oil below nowhere to go but to stay put. Finally, the space between the well walls and piping is typically filled with cement to block the last remaining path up the shaft for surging gas. In addition to the seals, at the wellhead sits a huge steel blowout preventer. If danger is detected, the preventer can apply as much as 1 million pounds of force to a rubber gasket that seals the well. If all else fails, the backup kicks in: steel rams slice through the pipes altogether, severing the rig from the well and choking off the blowout.

However, a worker had accidentally damaged the gasket four weeks earlier. And one of the blowout preventer’s two control pods was malfunctioning. It also had a weak battery and a hydraulic leak.

The slushy methane bubble began to rise, bursting seals as it went. It broke through the cement seal and the damaged rubber gasket. For some reason, the rams failed to shear the pipes. Because the drilling mud had been removed from the column, the gas bubble shot up the drill, expanding as it rose through the less-pressurized shallows toward the derrick floating above.

On the platform, crewmen saw seawater in the drill column. It rose toward them, finally shooting up hundreds of feet in the air, followed by gas, followed by oil. A cloud of gas covered the rig. Its giant engines sucked in the methane and began racing. Something exploded. The rig became engulfed in a huge, intense fireball, killing nine workers and two engineers. Under black rain, survivors fled to lifeboats and leaped from the burning deck 10 stories down into the water, which was stinking of crude oil, grease and diesel fuel—and itself on fire. The rig burned so brightly it looked like the sun on the horizon. It blazed for two days and sank.

But the disaster had just begun.

A Growing Toxic Cloud

Dump a single quart of motor oil into the ocean, and over 2 cubic miles of seawater become toxic to wildlife, according to one engineer.

The day the derrick sank into the Gulf, the U.S. Coast Guard said 8,000 barrels of crude oil and up to 700,000 gallons of diesel fuel could be leaking from the rig into the water.

But the ominous, inky, iridescent truth began to emerge soon thereafter. The wellhead was also leaking. In addition to the immediate ecological carnage of a humongous, chemical-filled platform and a mile-long drill string spewing oil and other toxic chemicals, the well itself was gushing crude into one of America’s most important, profitable and ecologically sensitive bodies of water.

Unlike a wrecked tanker, which holds a known, fixed amount of oil, this is effectively a bottomless, active underwater oil volcano.

Initial estimates using data, satellite imagery and flyovers were that 5,000 barrels of oil were flowing from the prospect each day, creating an estimated 2,000-mile black storm cloud in some of the most commercially productive seas in the world.

The well’s main leaseholders, BP and Transocean, and even the federal government dispatched to the growing slick a flotilla that has since grown to include more than 550 vessels, plus boom oil-collection barriers, helicopters, airplanes, remote submarines, drills, chemical dispersant, and 17,000 personnel. The cost: $6 million per day—and rising.

These efforts are entering uncharted waters—both in trying to stop the leaks (which are far deeper underwater than any prior oil well breakdown), and in trying to contain the noxious mess.

Repeated efforts to activate the blowout preventer via robot failed. An effort to cap it with a 125-ton funnel also failed, as did other attempts. Finally, on May 16, crews successfully inserted a 4-inch siphon into Deepwater Horizon’s broken 21-inch riser pipe, diverting about 1,000 barrels (42,000 gallons) per day to a drillship. Meanwhile, two more platforms are drilling relief wells that will eventually plug the well permanently—but will take three months to complete.

But even that thin, silver lining to the pitch-colored cloud was soon blotted out by more bad news. Scientists studying the footage of the gushing pipe and taking readings of the water found huge plumes of oil, one of which is 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and up to 300 feet thick. Although BP has denied them access to additional data, they estimated the flow was actually 5 to 16 times greater than the previous official figure. In the worse scenario, that would mean 3.4 million gallons of thick, black, poisonous, non-degradable stuff pumping into the seawater every day.

That’s almost 40 gallons going into the gulf every second you read this.

“There’s a shocking amount of oil in the deep water, relative to what you see in the surface water,” one researcher said. “There’s a tremendous amount of oil in multiple layers, three or four or five layers deep in the water column.”

On May 4, BP admitted to Congress that its worst-case estimate for the daily flow rate is actually 2.5 million gallons—roughly the equivalent of dumping the infamous Exxon Valdez into the Gulf every four days.

Worst-Case Scenario “Is Upon Us”

It is conceivable that the leaking riser pipe could be kinked. If that is true, the present oil flow is actually somewhat restricted. If the wounded infrastructure deteriorates further—not unlikely, considering the high-pressure, abrasive sand-filled contents being forced through the piping—the leakage could explode even worse.

“Worst-case scenarios almost never happen,” Prof. Bob Thomas, of New Orleans’ Loyola University, told the UK’s Times. “In this case, almost everybody I have known with technical knowledge of oil spills, people who have worked in the industry 30, 40 years, … say this is the worst-case scenario … it is upon us” (May 3).

The worst-case scenario is that the leak is as big as it seems; that it will take weeks to plug it; that there are already millions of gallons of oil below the surface; that it will take billions of dollars to partially contain; that fisheries will be contaminated, tourism poisoned, economies across five states spoiled, and special environments and beautiful wildlife covered in black.

And that doesn’t begin to include hundreds of millions of dollars in wasted resources, lost oil, and other financial damage to BP. Nor does it include the long line of lawyers and victims that began to line up while the rig was still burning to sue some of the world’s richest companies: 88 suits by mid-May, and rising. Litigants are eyeing almost every company involved, but the main target is BP, the fourth-largest company in the world. BP has accepted blame, but is also pointing at other companies. The company posted profits of more than $5.5 billion in the first quarter, but one experienced Louisiana lawyer says the company might just not have enough if the leak continues. “I don’t think they have enough money,” he said (United Press International, May 17). It could leave the former British Petroleum, owned mostly by Britons and Americans, vulnerable to a takeover.

Nor do these projected costs include the effect the accident will have on the other 90 rigs in federal Gulf waters producing almost a third of U.S. oil production (1.7 million barrels of oil per day). It doesn’t include the effect on policy for more drilling or the political fallout and witch hunt already underway. Nor does it begin to fathom the havoc that all this plus restricted energy and shipping access in the Gulf will have on an already foundering American economy. Nor does it include the greatest cost: 11 men killed.

The worst-case scenario is that this is the biggest environmental disaster in American history—many times over.

Worse Than Katrina

As damaging as the 1989 Valdez oil spill was, it occurred on the rocky, uninhabited Alaskan coast of Prince William Sound. The Gulf of Mexico offers no such consolation. It is a hive of economic activity. The surrounding coastland, aside from being densely populated, has long stretches of marshland—which would be far more difficult to clean. The Gulf Coast cleanup and ecological recovery will be measured in years—and generations.

Tar balls have already washed ashore at South Pass on Louisiana’s marshy southern tip, a prime area for fishermen, many of whom are sitting at home unemployed. Oil has washed up around the sensitive Chandeleur Islands, where some of the Gulf’s five species of endangered sea turtles make their nests, along with a species that has started to recover: the brown pelican, state bird of Louisiana.

According to an early analysis by the Louisiana governor’s office, eight estuaries, wildlife management areas, state parks, national parks and wildlife refuges lay in the path of the spill, the closest being the Breton National Wildlife Refuge. Louisiana alone has 40 percent of the coastal wetlands in the continental United States: 3.5 million acres. The Mississippi Delta is the closest shoreline to the spill, and has already been hit.

Biloxi, Mississippi; Mobile Bay, Alabama; and Pensacola, Florida, are also within 150 miles. But the mess could drift into currents that would channel it directly through the Florida Keys and even up the Atlantic coast. Trying to contain the oil completely will be impossible. “[U]npredictable currents, extreme pressure and low temperatures make such endeavors almost as difficult as a second moon landing,” reported Der Spiegel (May 4).

Louisiana alone has already spent billions of dollars on ongoing projects to protect and rebuild sensitive, endangered marshes, habitats and wildlife. Wildlife-related tourism contributes half a billion dollars to the economy each year. Commercial seafood harvesting brings in over $650 million a year; recreational fishing another $750 million and almost 8,000 jobs. Fishing has been shut down completely in many Louisiana and federal waters, and vacationers have cancelled reservations at hotels across the area. Small investors are canceling plans throughout the coast.

Further offshore, plankton, fish larvae, shellfish, sea turtles, dolphins and even sperm whales are being harmed and killed by effects from the gushing crude and the chemical dispersants used to control it.

By the time it’s all over, the devastation will dwarf that of Katrina.

Why Is This Happening?

In looking for a deeper cause, it is crucial to see this event in the broader scope of such disasters that are hammering the United States: economic woes; rising unemployment; spiraling food prices; unfavorable weather; environmental disasters; deteriorating health; loss of industry; illegal immigration and related crime and drug problems; social and racial division; political polarization; terrorist threats; intractable wars; foreign-policy failures; weakening alliances; international isolation.

These are not isolated or unrelated problems.

They are mounting evidence of a spiritual reality the Trumpet has been writing about for two decades—as its parent magazine The Plain Truth did for five decades before that. America is being cursed by God.

Why? God has given America and Britain unique, unprecedented blessings of land, resources and protection. Yet we continue to deny Him and to grossly sin against His laws. Now He is simply taking those blessings away.

Could there be a more graphic illustration of this truth than this nightmare in the Gulf? The billowing cloud of oil that is costing billions in repairs, clean-up, lost jobs and economic ripple effects should be flowing into and enriching America’s economy. The fluid that is wiping out life, land and sea should be fueling America’s industry. As the nation bemoans its energy dependence on unstable and even enemy foreign states, its domestic energy production suffers this blow.

The spreading, toxic, sticky blackness presently defying all efforts to contain it is a vivid metaphor of America’s prophesied future.

Freakish troubles will continue to intensify until people unite in realizing that the cause is essentially spiritual. America doesn’t suffer merely from bad luck, or corporate incompetence, or weak problem-solving skills. It suffers from pride, self-reliance, greed, materialism, moral bankruptcy.

“Hear the word of the Lord, oh people of Israel, the Lord has filed a lawsuit against you listing the following charges,” wrote the Prophet Hosea: “There is no faithfulness, no kindness, no knowledge of God in your land. You swear and lie and kill and steal and commit adultery. There is violence everywhere, with one murder after another. That is why your land is not producing: it is filled with sadness and all living things grow sick and die: the animals, the birds and even the fish begin to disappear” (Hosea 4:1-3; The Living Bible).

The Bible is full of such warnings for America today—the curses we can expect to proliferate because of the people’s defiance of God and reliance on themselves. These are placed into their biblical and historical context—and then brought right up to date—in Herbert Armstrong’s book The United States and Britain in Prophecy (request your free copy).

These prophecies give a warning we would all do well to remember: The frustration and despair among Gulf residents being hit with another disaster before they’ve recovered from the last is about to become epidemic, nationwide. It is only when we begin to address the underlying spiritual causes that we will see the trend turn—and, after intervention from God, be able to rebuild on solid ground.


China, Taiwan Forge Closest Ties Yet

China, Taiwan Forge Closest Ties Yet

Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images

After decades of hostility, Beijing and Taipei have inked a landmark free-trade deal. This does more than just increase the flow of goods across the Taiwan Strait.

China and Taiwan signed a historic agreement on Tuesday that forges the strongest ever trade ties between Asia’s rising giant and its longtime rival. The ambitious deal heralds a bold step toward reconciliation between the former enemies, but has many Taiwanese concerned that their nation’s direction will erode away its independence.

The trade pact, called the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ecfa), will significantly reduce tariffs and open up mutual market access across the Taiwan Strait. The agreement will grant favorable tariffs to more than 500 categories of Taiwanese products being imported to China, while Chinese producers will receive tax breaks on about 260 types of products. It is by far the most important of the dozens of economic agreements Taipei and Beijing have signed in the two years since pro-China Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou came into power.

“Part of ecfa’s significance is that each side is telling the other that it wants to solve problems through sincere negotiations instead of by cursing and political warfare,” said Hu Shiqing, a researcher at the Taiwan Studies Institute of the China Academy of Social Sciences.

But not all Taiwanese are celebrating the pact and Beijing’s vamped-up diplomacy in Southeast Asia.

During a June 26 demonstration in Taipei, tens of thousands of Taiwanese chanted anti-Communist mantras and protested the ecfa, fueled by fears that the deal will boost China’s influence and whittle away Taiwan’s political sovereignty.

Among the analysts who oppose the landmark agreement is National Taiwan University Prof. Kenneth Lin, who says China has intentionally left the ecfa as the only economic path for Taiwan to travel.

“After signing ecfa with (China), then Taiwan, asean and (China) will form the hub-and-spoke framework—that is, the preferential trade arrangement only exists between Taiwan and (China) and between asean and (China), but there is no preferential trade arrangement between Taiwan and asean,” Lin said.

Critics of the agreement also fear an influx of cheap labor into the island, and that Taiwan will soon be made to open up its financial or services sectors to Beijing.

But the core of the issue is that Taiwan is negotiating with an immensely powerful neighbor that simply does not recognize its right to exist as an independent entity. This fundamental reality makes ecfa more than just another free-trade pact, and it should give Taipei pause regarding Beijing’s overtures toward the island.

Though the critics are adamant, opponents hold too few seats to block the agreement, and finalization is expected later in the summer.

Beijing has admitted that it sees the trade deal as a stride toward greater political integration between China and the island nation that it considers to be its territory. China remains committed to establishing its dominance over the Taiwanese people.

Herbert W. Armstrong predicted the fate of Taiwan over 50 years ago, writing, “Will Red China invade and capture [Taiwan]? In all probability, yes …. The Red Chinese will ‘save face,’ and the United States, with many American troops now on Taiwan, will again lose face!” (letter, Sept. 19, 1958).

Regardless of steady U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, there are very few in Beijing, Taipei or elsewhere who believe that the Obama administration would assertively assist Taiwan in the event of military conflict between mainland China and the island. The outcome of reunification is now settled, leaving only the question of how it will be effected. It is not in Beijing’s interests to wage war to achieve that outcome. Besides hampering trade, China’s neighbors would respond to such an altercation by bolstering their defenses.

Instead, China’s gentle approach will continue until Taiwan is offered something like the status Hong Kong currently has. Should Taipei refuse China’s advances, Beijing would likely respond with threats of force.

The rapidly warming relationship between China and Taiwan is a step toward the realization of Mr. Armstrong’s forecast. China’s “invasion,” at this point, is through soft power and diplomacy as Beijing forges unprecedented inroads into the Taiwanese economy. But Taiwan’s desire to cozy up to China will eventually lead to the end of its autonomy.

China’s long-term perspective on Taiwan can be summarized by the sagacious words usually attributed to the country’s most famous philosopher, Confucius: “It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.”

The World Turned Right-Side Up

The World Turned Right-Side Up

iStockphoto

Had enough of the Upside-Down World? Something better is on the way.
From the August 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

We all want it. A better world. A world that makes sense. We want more peace, more safety, more prosperity. We yearn for no disease, no murder, no theft, no lying, no divorce.

Why can’t we have a better world? And why is this world so far from it?

Human beings have tried every way we could think of to make the world better. In every age, in every iteration, in every cohort, in every style imaginable. We’ve debated Plato’s philosopher kings, Cicero’s republic, More’s commonwealth, Augustine’s City of God. We’ve read Locke’s treatises on government, Hobbes’s social contract, Rousseau’s principles of politics. Christians believe in some form of it; so do Jews, Muslims and others.

For millennia, we tried to find paradise lost, sail to the new island utopia, get back into the Garden of Eden. We’ve looked for a natural Shangri-La on the lost horizon. Or we’ve dreamed of a world where “everything is achievable through technology,” as one recent movie character said.

We put it to the test. In Germany, the United States, Canada, Israel, Russia and would-be paradises beyond, we’ve taken the bold step of putting it into action. It’s been totalitarian and anarchist, communist and capitalist, natural and industrial, classless and classified, religious and atheist, multicultural and mono-cultural, technological and ecological, open and closed, restricted and free, fictional and real.

It failed. One hundred percent of the attempts, one hundred percent of the time: untopia.

Paradise has been confined to the pages of fiction. Yet even there it has gone awry. Writers have explored utopias in antiquity, utopias in space, utopias populated by humans, by single-gender beings, by sexless beings, by homosexuals. Even fictional utopia is dissonant, ringing of a Nineteen Eighty-Four dystopia, Lord of the Flies, or something worse.

Even a discussion about mankind’s greatest goal, a perfect society, is depressing. All the more so when we realize just how far our real society is from even that imperfect, self-conflicting ideal.

What would life be like if you knew what a perfect world was like? What if you knew it actually is coming, and coming soon? What if you knew how to get there?

There is hope. Not in reforming this world. But in the wonderful World Tomorrow.

It Is Coming

The Bible is actually full of prophecies—certain prophecies—pointing to a better tomorrow.

Against all odds, against a literal world of evidence to the contrary, God says this wonderful World Tomorrow will happen! Read His bold prediction in Isaiah 2 and 11. It is coming, God says!

People will be unified, war will be abolished (Isaiah 2:1-4); sickness will be healed, deserts will blossom; prosperity will flourish, honesty will thrive (Zechariah 3:10; 8:16); people will love each other (Matthew 22:37-39).

But how can any of that ever occur? How could you get just one nation, just one state, just one town to live in harmony for even one year?

There is an important reason the world will be this way. It’s how people think. We live in a carnal world ruled by carnal people who insist on finding their own carnal way through life, who define right and wrong for themselves.

Since that original paradise, the Garden of Eden, human beings have rejected following God and letting Him define what is right and wrong. They have followed instead the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), the real author of God-rejecting human nature. Finding “utopia” under the influence of Satan (Ephesians 2:2) is more impossible than even the most calloused skeptic imagines.

Man simply cannot govern himself.

God can. And God will. After man proves how inept he is at bringing a better society and plunges himself into a horrific tribulation, God will intervene and save man from himself (Matthew 24:22). Then, He will depose the evil god of this world and take over Himself to rule humankind righteously (Revelation 20; Micah 4:3).

When the only government official truly qualified to do so rules the Earth, He will start to build a new world, a better world. He will give man what he has been so sorely missing for thousands of years: His way of life (Isaiah 11:9).

Imagine a world—a real world, not a fantastical dream—of happiness.

Rules That Work

A new birth of character will uplift the entire world—education, business, science, agriculture, health, sports, literature, language, music, art, even the average backyard barbecue conversation—to heights that will make the early 21st century look barbaric by comparison. This isn’t reform. This is a different world.

No more indefinable, masquerading “morality,” or sliding-scale “standards,” or “personal preferences,” or “lifestyle choices,” or “codes of conduct,” or even “family values,” as if righteousness were a neutral mathematical variable. Mankind will live according to one way of life.

With Satan’s influence eliminated, finally, people will know that yes, there is such a thing as right. Yes, some things are absolutely wrong. What “feels right” is not the same as what actually is right. And we are required to find out what that is and do it.

It’s not just that the world will share one way of life—dictatorships can accomplish that. The key is that this way of life is the right way of life.

It’s the truth.

Just as laws govern biology and physics and astronomy and mathematics and every other part of the universe, laws govern people. It’s only rational. Certain causes have certain effects. Something causes happiness. There is one right law of life that produces happiness. It’s out there. So the question becomes, how do we find it?

Are we sure we can trust ourselves to do it? Do you really know the right way to live? Do I? Does some guy in his living room somewhere? No. The only authority that can define the right way of life for humans is their Creator. His “definition” of right and wrong applies to everyone. And He allows—actually requires—people to think and decide for themselves whether or not to follow it.

The truth, after all, is not a religion. It’s not a political platform. It’s not a philosophy. It’s the way things actually are—scientifically, socially, spiritually.

A World of Love

It’s simple. The principle of this way of life is so plain you can memorize it: give instead of get. Read the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20. Christ summed them up in one word, love: “[T]hou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind …. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Mark 12:30-31).

Imagine that world. No rampant crime. No horrific terrorism. No ugly warfare. No fragmenting cultures. No racism. No self-destruction. No gender confusion. No victims groups. No poisoned tongues. No scientific dishonesty. No intellectual intimidation. No political correctness. No insane religions. No killing, no lying, no stealing, no coveting, no adultery, no excuses.

If you’re stuck upside-down in the early 21st century, this world might seem beyond belief. But you can take a step toward it. Look at the world around you. Judge the results of this carnal experiment and its failed utopias. You can be a part of this world—or you can take a step toward something better. Something that makes a lot more sense.

It’s not too good to be true. A better world, a wonderful World Tomorrow, is coming—soon.

To learn more about this future, request a free copy of Herbert W. Armstrong’s booklet The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like.