This Means War

This Means War

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Where global trade disputes are leading—and how they will upend your life
From the December 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

Is China waging war on the United States? Many would say the notion that Beijing is actively trying to topple the U.S. is preposterous. But is it?

Sun Tzu, the fifth-century Chinese military general, taught that “all war is based on deception.” What if China has managed to blind America to its true motive? The thing about deception is that the deceived have no clue they have been deceived.

Is it even possible to discern China’s true ambitions?

It is. First, we must look past the politically correct words being uttered by politicians on both sides. We must see beyond platitudes and promises, and look squarely at the incontrovertible facts.

Among those facts are China’s unscrupulous land grabs in Australia, New Zealand and across the continents of Africa and South America. The fervor with which it seeks to gratify its insatiable appetite for raw materials. Its near monopoly over vital and strategic rare earth minerals. Its aggressive, unrelenting acquisition of foreign companies and businesses. Its insidious relationships with anti-American, anti-democratic states and tyrants. The brash confidence with which its leaders operate in international relations. Its striking military aggrandizement and growing appetite for military provocation.

Perhaps the most significant fact, especially for Americans, is the enormous leverage China has over the U.S. economy—and the fact that China’s leaders appear ready to use it as a weapon!

If we look at the facts, it’s hard to deny that the United States and China—even now—are at war!

Presently, it is a financial war. Moreover, the globalized nature of our world means this trade and currency war is not confined to just these two economies. In fact, the increasingly radical actions of these two behemoths have set off global trade and currency wars—wars that history and Bible prophecy say precede a tumultuous and terrifying future.

Race to the Bottom

Around the world, national economies, especially those of industrialized states, continue to suffer the aftershocks of the global financial crisis set off in the United States in September 2008. In Europe, North and South America and Asia, economies are stagnant, or only growing at a snail’s pace. National debt is soaring, industry is seizing up, and unemployment is rocketing.

Governments are looking at their stalling economies and becoming desperate.

A new trend is emerging. In an effort to kickstart their economies, more and more countries are enacting beggar-thy-neighbor fiscal policies to devalue their currencies. When the currency of a nation loses value, it becomes cheaper to foreign countries and investors. Foreign nations and investors are motivated to buy more goods, causing an increase in exports, which means more industry and manufacturing, and eventually lower unemployment. Sounds like a great way to help an economy, right?

The problem is, it amounts to an act of war against other nations.

In our globalized world, when one country devalues its currency to boost exports (and the broader economy), other national economies are significantly disadvantaged. The exports of the disadvantaged economies become uncompetitive. The result? Manufacturing and industry slump, unemployment rises and consumer spending drops. To remain competitive, the disadvantaged must react by devaluing their own currency.

If it persists, this race to the bottom threatens to paralyze global trade and destabilize the entire financial system! It would wreak particular havoc on the most debt-laden national economies.

This is precisely what experts fear is now happening.

In September, Brazil’s Finance Minister Guido Mantega declared that “we’re in the midst of an international currency war.” Billionaire investor and financial guru George Soros agrees. “I share the growing concern about the misalignment of currencies,” he wrote in the Financial Times. “Brazil’s finance minister speaks of a latent currency war, and he is not far off the mark” (October 7; emphasis ours throughout).

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund (imf), warned that in governments the world over the idea is beginning to “circulate that currencies can be used as a policy weapon.” “With almost no country wanting a strong currency … as they try to stimulate economic recovery, and with the U.S. and the EU pushing for a yuan revaluation, the big theme in 2011 is shaping up to be some sort of currency wars,” warned Chris Weafer, chief strategist at Russian investment firm Uralsib.

In October, Robert Kuttner, co-founder of the American Prospect, wrote, “Trade war is here—and we’ve disarmed.”

China vs. America

The two actors at the center of this global drama are China and the United States. In an effort to sustain high exports, China’s government has for years intervened to keep the yuan low compared to the U.S. dollar. Although this has long frustrated Washington, it was able to put up with Beijing’s currency manipulation as long as the U.S. economy chugged along at 3 to 5 percent growth per year.

But as the U.S. economy slows, Washington is searching for ways to boost manufacturing and, along with it, employment and consumer spending. To increase exports, the Federal Reserve has driven the dollar low. During September alone, the dollar tanked 4.5 percent against a basket of major currencies contained in the U.S. Dollar Index—by historical standards, a huge drop.

But economic growth remains slow, for a number of reasons. One primary reason: China. As long as Beijing keeps the yuan lower than the dollar, goods manufactured in the U.S. remain uncompetitive. How bad are the consequences? So bad that the White House—hardly a confrontational administration—now appears willing to confront Beijing on the issue.

In October, for example, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act. Under this new law (which has yet to pass in the Senate), punitive tariffs would be imposed on Chinese exports as long as Beijing intentionally devalues the yuan to promote its own economic growth.

Of course, America was accused of using this law to start a trade war with China. Truth is, as Democrat Rep. Linda Sanchez stated before Congress, “We are already in a trade war. And China is using cannons and we’re standing here shooting [air-gun] pellets.”

Whichever way you look at it, the consensus is the same: Trade war is starting between China and the United States!

This is deeply alarming, especially for Americans! Why? Because if a full-scale trade and currency war erupts, China has decisive leverage over the United States.

This fact is becoming increasingly evident. In March 2009, the Pentagon conducted its first ever series of economic war games. “The soldiers were Wall Street traders and executives, economists and academics,” reported Eric Weiner in the Los Angeles Times. “The weapons were stocks, bonds and currencies. The participants were divided into teams: the U.S., China, Russia, Japan, the European Union and so on” (October 6).

“What the exercises showed was that the U.S. consistently lost to China in economic warfare,” Weiner noted.

In September, when U.S. President Barack Obama met with China’s Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, he demanded that China stop manipulating its currency. Wen, aware he was operating from a position of power, responded in a ho-hum manner—in essence saying, Just how much money do you owe us again?

China’s leaders, wrote Weiner, “know what our leaders are only beginning to understand—that China would probably win a global trade war.”

This past summer, Ding Yifan, a chief official at China’s Development Research Center, said that if America became too belligerent, China could not only refuse to lend more money, but could also dump its current holdings of U.S. government debt. His comments came during a conference where Chinese officials questioned the creditworthiness and reliability of the dollar. Since then, the question of the dollar’s value has emerged as a serious topic of discussion in government halls around the world.

The Threat Is Real

Too many people don’t take this threat seriously enough. Many analysts say that if China were to dump its dollar holdings it could cause interest rates to soar, and that would hurt China as much as it would America because it would destroy its best customer. Additionally, the U.S. Federal Reserve could simply print up whatever money was needed to cover government spending and push interest rates back down. Thus China would lose the most in any trade war, goes the argument.

These views are woefully simplistic. Those people are deceived.

First, if the Federal Reserve began widespread dollar printing—on the scale required to redeem China’s vast holdings—it would send the dollar’s value plummeting and destroy its place as the world’s reserve currency. The importance of reserve currency status cannot be overstated. Since the world uses dollars to conduct international trade, there is a built-in demand for dollars that supports their value even when the government runs gargantuan budget deficits. If demand for the dollar stops, the money Washington uses to pay its bills and fund its social programs vanishes. America sinks.

Just think, if America’s biggest creditor, which is also the world’s biggest exporter, pulled the plug on America, would the world even want dollars anymore? And even if America could survive China’s “nuclear” dollar option, what would happen if just one other major country—like Germany, Japan or Saudi Arabia—took China’s side and got rid of its dollars?

This scenario may sound extreme, but it’s one that pundits are beginning to realize could happen!

Second, what if China and the rest of the world found another currency to replace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency? Even now, as fear of trade and currency war increases, a growing number of world leaders and finance gurus are entertaining the idea. Calls are going out—and not just from the likes of Iran or Russia—for the end of the dollar’s reign. Other powers and emerging powers, like France and Brazil, have also called for a new global currency.

The imf is already making a move. Last year, it began issuing a type of currency called sdrs (Special Drawing Rights), based upon a basket of major currencies. In effect, the imf began acting like a global central bank—even selling bonds denominated in sdrs. China and Russia have invested billions in them. According to Omnis analyst James Rickards, the shift away from dollars has already started and will accelerate. sdrs could replace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency in two to five years, he told the New American. “It’s not speculation, it’s actually happening” (September 15).

In case you are wondering, the imf is dominated by European countries.

The movement away from the dollar is supported by the United Nations too. “A new global reserve system could be created, one that no longer relies on the United States dollar as the single major reserve currency,” said the UN’s World Economic and Social Survey for 2010. “The dollar has proved not to be a stable store of value, which is a requisite for a stable reserve currency.”

Watch closely: If America gets too testy, Beijing has the leverage to up the ante and draw even more countries into a concerted attack on the dollar. If a legitimate alternative to the dollar emerges and is embraced globally, this would mark the death knell of the American economy!

A Global Phenomenon

It is not just China and America engaging in currency manipulation and trade war.

As the Telegraph’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard reported in September, “Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Korea, Taiwan, South Africa, Russia and even Poland are either intervening directly in the exchange markets to prevent their currencies rising too far, or examining what options they have to stem disruptive inflows” (September 29).

On October 5, the Bank of Japan announced it would cut its key interest rate and institute a ¥35 trillion (us$418 billion) monetary easing program. By forcing the yen down, Tokyo is trying to help its largest companies (and employers), such as Toyota, Sharp and Sony, remain competitive in the global market.

Grasp what is happening here: Nationalism is emerging as a powerful and dangerous force in global finances!

The decision by the likes of China, America and Japan to devalue their currencies comes with disastrous consequences for the world’s smaller currencies and economies. As advanced economies devalue their currencies, the currencies of smaller economies, such as the Brazilian real, tend to rise, especially as investors seek higher yields and better returns. This, as Brazil’s finance minister lamented in September, “threatens us because it takes away our competitiveness.”

Similar trends have occurred with the Canadian dollar and Swiss franc. Also, the Australian dollar rose in October to its highest level against the U.S. dollar since 1983.

As Germany’s DerSpiegel declared in October, “The whole global currency system is in a state of jeopardy. It seems as if the world has been turned upside down—and has become very dangerous. Indeed, for better or worse, the well-being of entire countries depend on the value of these currencies, meaning that instability on the currency markets also threatens the structure of the global economy” (October 5).

Global economic chaos looks imminent!

First Trade War, Then …

Ultimately, trade and currency wars carry with them a greater danger than tanking economies and collapsing financial systems: They are a sign of the resurgence ofnationalism!

As national economies and the global economy flounder, national governments are turning inward. They are becoming more protectionist. And the longer national economies wallow, the more inclined world governments will be to embrace nationalist financial policies—even if it means arousing the ire of other countries!

A dangerous scenario is now developing.

History shows that trade and currency wars have a nasty tendency to snowball out of control. Remember the Great Depression. During the four years after the 1929 stock market crash, America regressed like at no other time in its history. Forty-two percent of America’s banks folded. Production at the nation’s factories, mines and utilities fell by more than half. People’s real disposable incomes collapsed by 28 percent. Stock prices cascaded to one tenth of their pre-crash height. Unemployment rose from 1.6 million in 1929 to a whopping 12.8 million by 1933—leaving one out of every four workers jobless. People lost their savings, their homes, their health and their hope.

Such conditions are starting to sound familiar once again. But what made the 1929 crash turn so much more deadly than the previous, short-lived crashes of 1920 and earlier? Many economists say it was unique because just months later, a trade war began that quickly engulfed the world.

Post-World War i industrial America, reeling from the effects of the stock market crash and subsequent job losses, erupted into protectionist fervor. Riding a populist wave, U.S. politicians imposed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act—one of the most draconian protectionist policies in America’s history. Historian Richard Hofstadter, with the benefit of hindsight, described the tariff act as “a virtual declaration of economic war on the rest of the world.”

That is just how the rest of the world saw it. Foreign nations were outraged. Within two years, 25 countries had retaliated; U.S. and foreign trade took massive losses. America exported $5.24 billion in goods in 1929; by 1932 the total had fallen to just $1.6 billion. Overall, world trade had declined some 66 percent by 1934.

In the 1930s, countries around the world defended and furthered their own interests even when it meant undermining the economies of other nations. Before long, the economic malady began to have dramatic social and political consequences. Populations became frustrated. Extremist ideologies and policies entered the mainstream. In some instances, like Germany, radical leaders tapped the mass frustration to gain political leadership.

By the end of the decade, the mass frustration had begun to boil over: The Second World War erupted!

Of course, trade and currency wars were not the sole cause of World War ii. But historians agree that economic chaos in the global financial system (and in national economies) played a central role in preparing the world for war.

Today, many prominent, mainstream figures are describing the global economy using military terms. Study World War ii and you’ll notice historians employing the same terms—“trade war” and “currency war,” the use of economic policy as a “weapon”—in their explanations of what led up to the Second World War.

To the question “What comes after global trade war?” history has a simple and terrifying answer: military conflict on a global scale!

An Apostle’s Warning

Throughout his 53-year work, Herbert Armstrong often described the conditions that would precede the biblically prophesied collapse of the United States. Despite being the most stable currency in the world, the American dollar would one day be in “jeopardy of being devalued,” he once wrote. When the dollar plummets, he warned, inflation would erupt and this would lead to “eventual economic collapse for the United States.”

So strong was Mr. Armstrong’s faith in Bible prophecy, he warned as early as the 1960s that World War iii had already gotten underway, and that it was “ECONOMIC in nature.” About America and Britain in particular, Mr. Armstrong stated, “God prophesied a virtual trade war will get under way against the United States and Britain—and [that] our national economics will falter, and then collapse!”

He delivered that forecast in March … 1968!

Forty-two years later, it is now evident that the trade war that will end in the collapse of America and Britain is here.

Are you ready for global financial chaos? It doesn’t matter if you live in America or Europe, South America or Africa—the economic bedlam that Bible prophecy says precedes global political and military conflict has begun.

China is waging economic war on the U.S., a war that is intensifying and will soon precipitate America’s collapse. As a means to this end, China is forming an economic axis with Germany and Europe (more about this pivotal development on page 12, “The Silk Superhighway”).

Scripture says this China-Europe economic axis will be responsible for besieging America and causing its final economic downfall. “And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the Lord thy God hath given thee” (Deuteronomy 28:52).

As America falls, prophecies in Revelation 17 and 18 show that this European empire will replace the U.S. as the nucleus of global trade and commerce. In the end time, the Apostle John wrote in Revelation 18, the “merchants of the earth” will be “waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies” (verse 3). (For more information about this prophecy, request a free copy of Daniel Unlocks Revelation.)

Why should you be concerned by trade and currency wars? Because these financial crises are creating the biblically prophesied conditions that precede World War iii!

Don’t remain ignorant of these developments. Take these crises seriously. More importantly, make it a goal to educate yourself on how to prepare for this imminent period of global chaos and carnage.

If you are willing to embrace God’s law and lifestyle, the Bible reveals that God mercifully provides a way to escape the impending turmoil. When the global tribulation strikes, God says that those who follow His law and support His work on Earth will “flee into the wilderness, where [they] have a place prepared by God” (Revelation 12:6, Revised Standard Version).

To learn more about this place of safety, and how you can find solace there during the soon-coming tribulation, request and study our free booklet Repentance Toward God.

Germany enters the rare earth debate

For most of us, the terms yttrium, praseodymium and terbium are about as riveting as staring at a blank wall. But in Germany last week, rare earth elements such as these were fodder for hours of lively discussion and debate.

On Tuesday, industry and government officials from Germany and across Europe gathered in Berlin to attend a conference organized by the Federation of German Industries. The primary topic of discussion? China’s monopoly over vital rare earth materials, and how Germany and the rest of Europe can secure a stable supply.

Citing remarks by German Economics Minister Rainer Bruederle after the meeting, the Wall Street Journal reported that Germany is especially “feeling the effects of current supply shortages of rare earth materials,” and that competition for rare earth materials “was now a problem of politics in addition to economics” (emphasis mine throughout).

This is not something Germany can forget about. Rare earth materials are essential in high-tech equipment such as tv screens, mobile phones, fiber optics, computer chips and electric motors. For Germany, a manufacturing behemoth, any shortage of these critical elements could spell disaster. In its report on the conference, the New York Times noted that “[t]he consensus among attendees, who included representatives from industry as well as the European Union, the World Trade Organization and the World Bank, was that trade rules were inadequate when it came to responding to China’s decision to cut back export quotas of such materials.”

In other words, Germany believes this must be addressed, and soon. Ultimately, Berlin has two options, neither of which serves the interests of the United States. First, and this is likely in the short term, it could come to some sort of bilateral agreement with Beijing securing the flow of rare earths into Germany.

The question is, would Berlin cut the U.S. into the deal? Or would America have to strike its own deal with China?—which wouldn’t be easy amid the ongoing Sino-American dispute over currency manipulation, trade and so on.

Second—and this option will be pursued even if an agreement with China is formed—Germany must secure its own source of rare earth elements. Although China controls 95 percent of the rare earth market, expect Germany to step up its pursuit of these materials, especially in mineral-rich regions like Africa.

The Week in Review

PT/Getty Images

Bags of money, camouflaged “building materials,” an EU-wide tax, the Ring of Fire, voting on marijuana, and the 2010 election Truth-O-Meter

Middle East

Afghanistan’s president openly admitted on Monday that Iran has supplied his office with millions of dollars in cash over the past several years. President Hamid Karzai’s confirmation came the day after the New York Times reported that Karzai’s Chief of Staff Umar Daudzai receives a secret, steady stream of cash from Iran intended to buy his loyalty and promote Iran’s interests in the presidential palace, according to Afghan and Western officials. “Iran uses its influence to help drive a wedge between the Afghans and their American and nato benefactors, they say” (October 23). President Karzai’s response to the story was to confirm the payments, openly admitting that his office gets “bags of money” from Iran—up to nearly a million dollars twice a year. During a news conference on Monday, he said the money was “official aid” and said he would continue to ask for Iranian money. At the same time, Karzai lashed out at the United States, accusing it of exporting killing to Afghanistan by using private security companies. On Sunday evening, Karzai reportedly had a heated session with nato commander Gen. David Petraeus and other Western and Afghan officials, during which he stormed out, saying he didn’t need the West’s help. Karzai’s open acceptance of what amounts to Iranian bribes and his virulent verbal attacks on his U.S. benefactors speak volumes of the orientation of Afghanistan’s current leader—a supposed ally of America.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday the Washington Post ran a story saying that the U.S. intelligence community is agreed that the Taliban is maintaining its strength in Afghanistan. The report said the intensified military campaign against the Taliban has failed to inflict anything more than fleeting setbacks on the insurgency and that the Taliban are maintaining their resilience and ability to reestablish and rejuvenate themselves. U.S. military and intelligence officials, citing the latest assessments of the war, said that Taliban insurgents have been adept at absorbing the escalated airstrikes and raids, and they appear confident they can outlast the American troop buildup, which is scheduled to diminish next July. While the surge of U.S. forces into southern and southwestern Afghanistan has resulted in the Taliban falling back in these areas, this is likely a strategic withdrawal rather than a defeat. Stratfor concludes that “the one thing that is fairly clear is that the Taliban do not face strategic defeat” (October 28). This is clearly one more war that the U.S. will not win.

Nigeria’s secret service said on Tuesday that it had intercepted 13 containers of weapons from Iran that were possibly destined for the Gaza Strip. Rocket launchers, grenades and other explosives camouflaged as building materials were seized in the Nigerian port of Lagos after being unloaded from an Iranian ship. Israeli defense sources believe this may be part of a new smuggling route from Iran to Hamas in Gaza, via Africa, Haaretz reports. The Nigerian State Security Service was tipped off by customs officials who were offered a bribe by the clearing agent to screen the containers outside the port at an off-dock terminal, according to Nigerian media. Iran was previously caught smuggling arms by sea in November 2009, when a vessel was intercepted in the Mediterranean Sea carrying weapons to Syria or Lebanon, and in September this year, when an arms shipment to Syria was seized at an Italian port.

Europe

Portugal and Ireland may be on the verge of introducing a new round of financial crises in Europe. The EU Observer reports that the two nations’ financial problems are deepening. Portugal has been unable to adopt austerity measures, and markets have reacted nervously. Ireland announced Wednesday it would double its previously announced budget cuts. “EU officials have also been forced to deny that the new round of cuts are not being dictated by Brussels,” the EU Observer said.

Meanwhile, partially due to Europe’s financial crises, EU leaders are ready to amend the bloc’s Lisbon Treaty. “Initially horrified at the Franco-German demand for a wholesale re-writing of the EU rulebook only a year after the Lisbon Treaty had been approved, other leaders are now warming to the idea of a ‘limited’ tweaking of the treaty in a way that they hope will avoid major political fallout,” the EU Observerreported. If EU leaders agree to amend the treaty it will be interesting to watch Britain’s response. Before ratifying any changes, the Cameron government may have to put the issue before the British public, the majority of which opposes the Lisbon Treaty. If the British public rejects the changes promoted by suits in Europe, Britain, as the Trumpet has long forecast, may be forced to opt out of the European Union.

The European Commission has summoned the boldness to call for a separate EU-wide value-added tax. This would enable the European Union to directly tax citizens from member states and raise its “own resources.” Other options could include a financial sector tax, profits from emissions controls, an air travel tax, an energy tax and/or a corporate income tax. Expect the EU to operate less and less like an agreement between states and more and more like a single superstate.

Asia

Chinese state media reported on Thursday that China is boosting its naval surveillance fleet to increase protection of its maritime claims. The announcement comes in the midst of fierce territorial disputes between China and neighboring countries, including Japan. One inspection ship has already been added to the fleet and another 36 will soon take their place alongside it. The number of law-enforcement vessels that China already owns is unknown because of Beijing’s poor transparency, but earlier in October, state media placed the number around 50. Meanwhile, reports from Tokyo last week said that Japan’s navy plans to add six new submarines to its fleet in response to China’s increasing belligerency in the South China Sea. Although, the situation between China and Japan looks tense, Bible prophecy reveals that the militaries of those two nations, along with other Asian nations, will soon put aside their differences to unite against a common enemy.

Moscow plans to enlarge its Black Sea fleet by 18 vessels, according to a source in Russia’s naval command. The 18 new vessels will include at least six submarines and six frigates, and two giant loop-landing ships. The news, published October 25, follows a landmark April agreement between Moscow and Kiev in which Ukraine agreed to extend the lease on Russia’s Sevastopol base by 25 years in exchange for a discount on gas prices. Only one year ago, Ukraine had said that Russia would be expected to close Sevastopol as soon as its old lease expired in 2017. The lease renewal agreement underlined Ukraine’s shift back toward Russia after the election of Ukraine’s pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich. The increasing cooperation between Moscow and Kiev makes plain that, through use of its military presence and economic influence, Russia is quickly expanding its sphere of influence. For centuries, Russia was an empire, and it is now working overtime to regain that status. To understand the global ramifications of this trend, read Russia and China in Prophecy.

Finance ministers of the world’s 20 biggest economies voted on Saturday to grant emerging market countries like China, India and Turkey more weight in the International Monetary Fund (imf). Analysts expect the decision to deter G-20 nations from devaluing their currencies, and to make developing nations more willing to address the trade imbalances causing currency volatility and threatening an increase in protectionism. China emerged as the key winner, gaining 6 percent more voting power in the imf, behind the U.S. and Japan. The Wall Street Journal called the agreement “belated recognition of the old Western economies’ fading place in the Great Scheme of Things.” As China’s massive growth forges on, the global balance of power will continue to shift. To understand more about the global trade disputes currently underway and where they are leading, read “This Means War” from the Trumpet’s December 2010 issue.

The Asia-Pacific Ring of Fire spewed death and destruction in several areas this week. On Monday, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck off Indonesia’s coast. The quake triggered a massive tsunami that swamped coastal regions, killing 343 people. One day later Indonesia’s Mount Merapi erupted, blasting smoke and ash high into the sky and killing another 34 people. On Thursday, Merapi erupted for a second time, although 40,000 people had been evacuated by that time. Also on Thursday, in Russia’s Far Eastern Kamchatka Peninsula, two volcanoes blanketed the region in dust clouds. No deaths have been reported, but schools were closed and flights to and from the region were diverted.

Latin America

Venezuela will make an $800 million investment in the South Pars gas field, according to an Iranian official. Hamad Akbari, the Iranian energy project’s coordinator, said on Sunday that Venezuela’s investment will comprise 10 percent of total financing for this phase of the project. The South Pars field, located in the Persian Gulf, is the largest gas field in the world and is shared between Iran and Qatar. Caracas’s agreement to invest in the field is just the latest of a string of deals between Venezuela and Iran. The Latin American Herald Tribune reports that bilateral trade between Tehran and Caracas stands at more than $5 billion annually.

Anglo-America

As Americans head to the polls on Tuesday for midterm elections, billions of dollars are being spent on thousands of political ads trying to galvanize and influence potential voters. The vast majority are focusing on domestic concerns within the United States, reflecting a wide ignorance and lack of concern for the growing dangers in the world beyond America’s borders. Another concern is the truthfulness of the ads, as they vilify the opposition and aggrandize the candidate in question. This year, fact-checkers at PolitiFact.com have researched the front-runners’ campaigns and compared them to reality. The Truth-O-Meter’s needle is at “Barely True.” PolitiFact editor Bill Adair said that over the past three years and 2,500 Truth-O-Meter queries, his organization has found about 20 percent of them to be “True.” In the campaign home stretch since September began, the fact-checkers have found a ridiculously low 10 percent truth in the candidates’ claims.

One item Californians will see on their ballots is whether to legalize “recreational” marijuana. Some who support open marijuana use say it will help curb violence in the rampant drug war in Mexico, but Mexican authorities are challenging that assumption. Regardless, the fact that mind-altering drugs might come into accepted use in California is a signal of where the nation is heading and who is leading the way.

On Wednesday, fbi and law enforcement officers arrested Farooque Ahmed in Virginia. The Pakistani-born Ahmed was plotting to bomb Washington, d.c., metro subway stations. Last week, shots were fired at both the Marine Corps Museum in Virginia and at the Pentagon, two events that the fbi confirmed this week were linked. Shots were also fired at a Marine Corps recruiting station in Chantilly, Virginia. Some wonder whether the uptick in these events is a result of a statement earlier this year by Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud that terrorists should begin to target American cities.

Also this week, in an unprecedented move, the serving head of Britain’s foreign intelligence service mi6 spoke out for the first time to warn the public about a rise in al Qaeda plotting attacks against British targets from overseas havens. “The dangers of proliferation of nuclear weapons—and chemical and biological weapons—are more far-reaching” than the threat of terrorism, John Sawers said, and “the risks of failure in this area are grim.”

An Associated Press survey of economists indicates that the economy will barely improve next year, and unemployment will recede slightly. Employers and consumers are likely to remain cautious, and households will save rather than spend, the respondents indicated. Unemployment at the end of 2011 is expected to drop from the current 9.6 percent to 9 percent. In July, economists had thought it would drop to 8.7 percent. Before that, they expected 8.4 percent. The AP said that some believe unemployment won’t drop to the historical average of 6 percent or lower for another seven or eight years.

German Government Moves to Criminalize Forced Marriage

German Government Moves to Criminalize Forced Marriage

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The Fatherland is reacting to Islam’s push.

On Wednesday, Germany’s government agreed on new draft laws to criminalize forced marriages, a tradition that some Muslim immigrant families impose on their children. Berlin also moved toward implementing strict measures against immigrants who fail to integrate into German society.

The new legislation comes during a time of rising anti-immigration and anti-Islam tensions that are sweeping through Germany, stirring up fierce debate about the country’s multicultural makeup.

Under the new laws drawn up by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, forcing a person into marriage will be considered criminal behavior, punishable by up to five years in prison.

“Forced marriages are a serious problem in Germany,” Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said, adding that the law would make clear that forced marriages are no longer “a tradition from olden times or different cultures that is … tolerable.”

With 4.3 million Muslims living in Germany, forced marriage is common, especially among Arabs and Turks. Although no official data is available, rights groups say that a growing number of young immigrants who were raised in Germany are rebelling against the tradition and opting to choose their own spouse.

The cabinet also took steps to punish immigrants in Germany who do not follow “integration courses” to help them assimilate into German society. Under the proposed law, if an immigrant applies to extend his stay in Germany, authorities will be obliged to verify whether he has followed such a course, learning the German language, values and laws. Failure to follow these courses would mean the applicant’s request could be denied.

“Europe has had its fill of pan-Islamism pushing aggressively across its borders,” Trumpet columnist Ron Fraser wrote October 18.

[T]he most obvious change in European society over the past year is in the mood rippling across the Continent in reaction to Muslim immigration. It is no more tangibly felt today than in Germany. … The old contest between two great religiously based cultures, Islam and Romish Christianity, is raising its head yet once again. The decades-long push of Islamic immigration into Europe is suddenly meeting overt resistance from European governments.

As Islam continues to push against Germany and the nations of Europe, we can expect Europe to react with increasing intensity. The initial reaction, as evidenced in the new laws proposed on Wednesday, is political and legislative. But it will eventually escalate into a full-scale war that will destroy pan-Islamism.

To understand more about this prophecy, read “Europe—Reacting to the Islamic Push.”

Guttenberg Is Everywhere!

Have You Ever Looked at a Monkey?

Have You Ever Looked at a Monkey?

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Lessons learned when observing the animal kingdom.

When Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell referred to evolution as a myth during a 1998 roundtable discussion, comedian Bill Maher contemptuously shot back, “Have you ever looked at a monkey?” Maher replayed that video clip on his talk show last month.

Last week, as if taking its cue from Maher, cbs’s 60 Minutes paraded before millions of Americans the most celebrated monkey-observer the scientific community has ever produced: Jane Goodall. Fifty years ago, as a fresh-faced, vivacious youngster from Britain, Goodall became famous for her National Geographic reports about life in Africa with chimpanzees.

In describing what she discovered during her “magical” experience in Tanzania, Goodall told cbs correspondent Lara Logan that she learned how chimps were happy and sad, affectionate and funny, playful and communicative—“all of these things done in the same context we do them,” she said (emphasis mine throughout).

In fact, before embarking on her groundbreaking study, Goodall assumed that monkeys would be a lot like humans—only nicer. But while studying animal life in the African forest, Goodall witnessed the darker side of the animal kingdom. Monkeys actually treated other monkeys cruelly—sometimes even brutally killing their own species.

In the end, Goodall concluded, monkeys are not a nicer species of human-like creatures. They are actually “just like” human beings!

You want scientific proof? All you have to do is look at monkeys.

It used to be, in order to link human beings to chimpanzees, you had to at least produce evidence in the fossil record. In 1912, for example, a group of paleontologists in Britain found a human-like skull with an orangutan jawbone. And for more than 40 years, Piltdown Man, as it was dubbed, was universally accepted throughout the scientific community as the “missing link” between apes and humans. The discovery was widely disseminated as indisputable proof of evolution both in scientific journals and school textbooks.

Not until 1953, after the development of more sophisticated age-dating techniques, was the Piltdown fossil exposed as one of the greatest scientific frauds in history. It wasn’t a transitional fossil after all. It was just a collection of bone fragments that had been cobbled together by evolutionists eager to “prove” their theory dishonestly.

This same story repeated itself just last year. During the bicentenary of Charles Darwin’s birth, scientists in New York unveiled a fossilized skeleton of a monkey they named Ida and again proclaimed it to be the long-sought-after “missing link” in human evolution. The Guardian said it was “one of the most significant primate fossil finds ever.” It was supposed to impact the world of paleontology “somewhat like an asteroid falling down to Earth.”

A few months later, however, Ida was exposed as yet another in a long line of highly publicized scientific hoaxes. As it turns out, Ida was nothing more than an extinct variety of lemur—just a nice fossilized set of monkey bones.

For nearly two centuries, evolutionists have searched in vain for transitional forms between monkeys and humans. As Robert Morley noted in the August 2009 Trumpetmagazine, “According to the evolutionary theory, there should be millions and billions [of transitional fossils]. Animals have been evolving into new species for hundreds of millions of years, the theory goes. Therefore, scientists have reasonably expected to find thousands, or at least hundreds, or maybe 10, fossils of transitionary species. But they can’t find a single one!

But never mind the bones. Just look at monkeys, some atheists now say, as they scoff at the thought of a great Creator God. Consider this statement from the 60 Minutes report, made by Bill Wallauer, a photographer who works at the Jane Goodall Institute: “You get the feeling when you’re looking at him [a monkey] and he’s looking at you—it’s equal minds.”

I don’t get that feeling at all—not when watching 60 Minutes or while observing monkeys at a zoo or wildlife preserve. When I watch monkeys, as fascinating as it is to see one use a stick to fish for termites, it reminds me of the giant gulf that exists between the animal kingdom and human beings.

Why is there such a massive gap? As far as the physical composition is concerned, there is very little difference between the brains of human beings and monkeys. In fact, they’re nearly identical. Why, then, is the human mind so vastly superior to the animal brain? It’s because of a nonphysical component that exists in man called the human spirit (see Job 32:8 and Zechariah 12:1).

This is what gives human beings mind power!

“For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?” the Apostle Paul asked in 1 Corinthians 2:11. The human spirit imparts the power of intellect to the human brain. It enables man to think and reason, to make calculated decisions and choices, to create and compose, to stake out positions on ethics and morality, to set goals, to pursue excellence.

Animals, on the other hand, have no such spiritual component in their brains. This is why chimpanzees, dolphins and elephants are incapable of understanding the things of man.

On Wednesday night, I watched the world-renowned chamber orchestra Academy of St. Martin in the Fields as it joined forces with an extraordinarily talented Israeli pianist named Inon Barnatan. They performed an all-Mozart concert inside the stunningly beautiful Armstrong Auditorium here in Edmond, Oklahoma.

It was one of the best classical performances our foundation has ever sponsored. What a testimony it was to the awesome power and superior intellect there is in the human mind, when compared to the brain of a monkey.

If you were to observe a family of monkeys at the zoo Wednesday afternoon and then attend the same concert I did later that night, how could you honestly conclude that what you observed was pretty much equal in mind power?

One reason we sponsor such fine events at Armstrong Auditorium is to showcase the remarkable achievements of the human spirit! Among other things, our concert series highlights the fact that man is a uniquely created being with awe-inspiring potential.

Consider again 1 Corinthians 2:11: “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” Notice—there are actually two spirits mentioned in this verse—the spirit of man, which is in him, and the Spirit of God, which is not in man, but can be, if we surrender to God in repentance and faith!

There is, after all, a “missing link”! But it doesn’t connect man to mindless monkeys in the jungle. It joins human beings to their heavenly Father. That link, as plainly revealed in the inspired Word of God, is Jesus Christ! “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

This is the profound, irrefutable truth of the gospel message proclaimed throughout the Bible. The living Jesus Christ is our link to eternal life in the Family of God!