A real ‘biblical disaster’
“Biblical Disaster,” screamed the headline in the Courier Mail newspaper, the leading daily of Brisbane, capital of the Australian state of Queensland.
Billed the “sunshine state” by Queensland’s Tourist Commission, Australia’s second-largest state became awash with massive floods in December and January as torrential rains overflowed the state’s rivers and three quarters of the state was declared a disaster zone.
By mid-January, the death toll resulting from the floods had reached 20, with more still missing. Massive water flows from the floods hit Brisbane, and the power was shut off to much of its central business district for days. More than 40,000 structures in Brisbane were inundated.
Major rain also hit the southern states, causing flooding in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.
Economists estimate the cost for the Queensland floods could top aus$20 billion (us$19.8 billion), making them the costliest natural disaster in Australia’s history. The national growth rate of Australia’s economy is expected to be reduced by a full percentage point due to the floods.
The extent of these floods and their impact not only on the people of Queensland but also on its mining industry is set to wallop Australia’s resource-based economy such as few such disasters have before. With these floods affecting such a large part of the coal-producing areas of Australia, commodity prices worldwide suffered. For years Australia has placed its economic eggs in one basket, that of the export of raw materials—essentially coal, iron ore and other minerals. The fact that Queensland produces around half of the world’s coking coal, which is used to make steel, has already escalated the cost of both coal and steel globally.
Brisbane’s Courier Mail was not alone in describing this massive inundation of vast tracts of northeastern Australia—described as an area larger than France and Germany combined—as a disaster of biblical proportions. For indeed it is—not so much in historic terms but, in reality, in clearly prophetic terms—part of the progressive fulfillment of the prophecies of disaster forecast in your Bible for our time.
No nations have been blessed to the extent of the Anglo-Saxons over the past two centuries. Yet no nations have spurned the Giver of every good and perfect gift as these nations have, especially since their deliverance from tyranny 65 years ago. As a result, we are about to reap the whirlwind. Queensland’s floods are but a token of what is to come upon the United States, Britain and its dominions.
In Deuteronomy 32:18 God declares, “Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee.” God says of the rebellious house of Israel—specifically to Australia, a country that hosts one of the world’s most infamous annual homosexual Mardi Gras—“For their vine is worse than the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah—to me belongs vengeance and recompense … for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that come upon them make haste” (verses 32-35).
Yet it is not God’s desire to see people suffer such as so many in Queensland are. God is a God of mercy to those who repent. He declares of the rebellious, “O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!” It is God’s desire that none perish—that all might live and enjoy the abundant way of life He predestined man to live. He is “longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Yet few will truly heed any warning that rings of a flood of publicly declared “biblical proportions” being caused by biblically specified reasons. Few will heed until our Creator turns up the heat by imposing more and increasingly severe penalties of “biblical proportions.”
But, thank God that the floods in Australia are just one of many great indicators that our Creator has had enough—enough of mankind’s wayward rebellion against the very reason for which they were created. Thank God that He will soon directly intervene to impose His government of peace and global unity for the good of all mankind! (Isaiah 9:6-7). Then humankind will understand its truly incredible potential and will move en masse to embrace it. But only after it has suffered terribly for rebellion against its own Creator.
At home in Britainistan
British culture is becoming increasingly changed by a remarkable statistic: 2,869,000 Muslims now live in Britain, an increase of 74 percent over the 2001 census figure and equivalent to 4.6 percent of the population. A Telegraph blog reporting the figures called them a “demographic earthquake.”
Welcome back, Protestants
Anglicans for the first time officially joined the Catholic Church at Westminster Cathedral on January 1. Three former Anglican bishops, two of their wives and three former Anglican nuns took the ritual of communion in a Catholic service and were received into the Catholic Church and confirmed as Catholics.
A club they wish they hadn’t joined
Britain and Europe are growing increasingly at odds over the European Union. While EU integration is increasing in spite of and, in fact, because of the current financial crises, many Britons think EU membership is bad for their country. According to a Fabian Society study, 45 percent think membership has been bad, and only 22 percent think it has been good. Half said EU nations should loosen the ties between them.
Gotham: Where 2 in 5 babies don’t make it to birth
In America’s largest city, concerns are growing about abortion. Each year, 90,000 New Yorkers kill their pregnancies. The figure constitutes two out of five pregnancies, twice the national rate. A news conference led by local religious leaders to discuss the statistic was met with vocal protesters denouncing any decrease in abortions.
U.S. in hole, keeps digging deeper
“We’ve got a big hole that we’re digging ourselves out of,” U.S. President Barack Obama said during an economics speech on January 7. It was a telling slip. Of course, the First Rule of Holes is, when you find yourself in one, stop digging. But Washington continues to address its enormous debt by digging all the more.
On the last day of 2010, the U.S. national debt passed $14 trillion, just seven months after it hit $13 trillion. The government built up more debt in the 2010 Congress than in the first 100 congresses put together. The 111th Congress accumulated $3.22 trillion of debt.
In light of some of these issues, both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s credit rating agencies warned on January 13 that the United States may soon lose its aaa credit rating if it doesn’t start addressing its deficit and long-term budget issues. While European woes are temporarily propping up demand for the dollar, more and more respected analysts and institutions are saying that the dollar is living on borrowed time. On January 8, a top International Monetary Fund official warned that the U.S. must start cutting deficits soon or face rising interest rates. If the debt-addicted American government cannot shore up its finances, doubts about its ability to repay could push longer-term interest rates higher, making it harder to do what Washington does best: borrow.
Meanwhile, a recent report by Realty Trac states that more than 1 million homes were foreclosed on in 2010, a new record. Analysts say 2011 will be worse, since many homes in default were not completely foreclosed on due to the robo-signing scandal. Banks already have $7 billion in foreclosed property on their books, homes that might still be declining in value, and the government owns $24 billion worth. America’s housing woes are a warning to Australia, Canada and New Zealand, three countries with bubble housing markets remarkably similar to America’s prior to the crash.
Dads, mums needed
Young men with no male role models and young women without female role models are far likelier to go off track. Data gathered by the Prince’s Trust youth index and released December 30 shows they are 67 percent more likely to be unemployed and to stay unemployed longer. Young men are 50 percent likelier to abuse drugs, and young women to drink excessively. Young men are also statistically more likely to feel suicidal. They were also found to be twice as likely to contemplate or engage in crime.
In January, the Families Ministry reported that children not brought up in a two-parent family are 75 percent more likely to fail at school, 70 percent more likely to become addicted to drugs, 40 percent more likely to have serious debt, and 35 percent more likely to become unemployed or welfare-dependent.
This is bad news in light of the state of British families. The Families Ministry has also found that one in five children from a broken home loses touch with a parent within three years and never sees the him or her again. Many more lose contact as they grow older, usually with their fathers.
Take this pill and let me know what it does
Over a quarter of teens and children in the U.S. regularly take prescription drugs, according to the nation’s biggest pharmacy-benefit manager, Medco Health Solutions Inc. Almost 7 percent take two sets of prescription drugs. “Doctors and parents warn that prescribing medications to children can be problematic,” warned the Wall Street Journal. “There is limited research available about many drugs’ effects in kids. And healthcare providers and families need to be vigilant to assess the medicines’ impact, both intended and not. Although the effects of some medications, like cholesterol-lowering statins, have been extensively researched in adults, the consequences of using such drugs for the bulk of a patient’s lifespan are little understood” (Dec. 28, 2010).
1 | Germany
Seeking super-spy satellites
Germany has sought American help to construct spy satellites capable of detecting objects just 1.5 feet in diameter, taking infrared images at night and processing information far quicker than current satellites, according to WikiLeaks cables publicized January 3.
“Germany is taking concrete steps to achieve a full-spectrum, overhead reconnaissance capability by adding a space-based High Resolution Optical System (hiros) to their already impressive suite of space-based radar and multi-spectral systems,” one cable, dated Feb. 15, 2009, states. “The German government believes that full-spectrum overhead reconnaissance is an effective force multiplier, provides an instrument of national power, and politically frees Germany from dependence on foreign sources of imagery.”
The German government denies that hiros is a military project, saying it is designed for public use. The satellite will be used to help civilians during natural disasters, or for scientific projects, the German Space Agency’s spokesman said.
That might have sounded more convincing had that 2009 cable not also stated, “To minimize possible political backlash from developing hiros as an intelligence satellite, the program will be managed by a civil agency, possibly the Ministry of Economics and Technology (bmwi). For political optics, the satellites themselves would be operated by a ‘commercial entity’ created specifically for this purpose, but with tasking managed/controlled/coordinated by bnd [German Federal Intelligence Agency].” So, in order to not cause a stir, the German government said it would make the satellite program look like a non-military project.
The cables say the satellites should be operational by 2013.
Space is a vital frontier to any nation wishing to control events on Earth. As we wrote in December 2003, “Consider and realize that major wars will never be controlled from this Earth’s surface again! From now on, all major wars will be controlled fromspace.”
The fact that America is enhancing Germany’s spy satellite capacity shows a dangerous level of trust. America is aiding Germany in a vital national security area. History and prophecy show this mistake will come back to haunt America in the future.
2 | Kosovo
Aiding a mafioso
The prime minister of Kosovo, Hashim Thaçi, was an organized crime boss and trafficked in human organs in the late 1990s, according to a draft report published by the Council of Europe on December 14. The report accused Western nations of ignoring these crimes. Thaçi led the Drenica Group that came to dominate the Kosovo Liberation Army (kla) which fought Serbia. The report supports claims by former prosecutor at The Hague Carla del Ponte that the kla kidnapped Serbs and stole their organs. The report supports what the Trumpet has being saying for years: that the U.S. succumbed to German pressure and backed the wrong side in the Balkans.
What economic crisis?
Europe’s economic crisis continues to make news, with a bomb exploding outside two court buildings in Athens and two embassies in Rome in December, and Athens seeing big riots once again. Pressure is growing on Portugal to accept an EU bailout package. Standard & Poor’s lowered Belgium’s outlook to negative on December 14. Moody’s warned that Spain and Greece could also have their ratings cut.
To combat these pressures, European leaders agreed on December 16-17 to amend the Lisbon Treaty to create a permanent eurozone rescue fund. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the agreement demonstrated a “big piece of solidarity between the states that share the euro.” Stratfor had a different perspective: “Amending the Lisbon Treaty in order to establish a permanent rescue mechanism will complete Berlin’s first phase of redesigning the European Union” (Dec. 15, 2010). Germany is using the crisis to persuade EU nations to give up further national sovereignty in exchange for bailouts.
Meanwhile, Germany is “stronger” after Europe’s economic crisis, Chancellor Merkel said in her New Year’s message. Germany, she pointed out, now has its lowest unemployment rate since reunification. German unemployment was under 7 percent in October, 3 percent less than the EU’s average unemployment rate. “In spite of all economic worries, it turned out to be a good year for Germany,” Merkel said.
EU law trumps Britain’s
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange faces extradition from Britain under the European Arrest Warrant (eaw), illustrating something much larger than a single criminal case. Whether or not Mr. Assange is guilty of the accusations brought against him in Sweden, the case clearly demonstrates that, under the eaw, British courts have no right to take into account the evidence against an accused Briton or foreign guest in Britain. It is a clear case of once-sovereign British law being trumped by EU imperial law.
3 | Iran
Hear us roar
Iran displayed an increased assertiveness when on Dec. 20, 2010, it demanded that Pakistan hand over members of the Sunni Baluchi Islamist militant group Jundallah, which had staged a deadly suicide attack against Shiites in Iran the previous week. An official of Iran’s Armed Forces threatened that Tehran would take unilateral action if Islamabad failed to prevent terrorist action against Iranian targets. It was the first time Iran threatened to deal with the problem on its own. It was a strong sign that Iran is feeling “confident in other foreign-policy areas,” wrote Stratfor. “It is therefore likely that Iran is now flexing its muscles on its eastern flank to showcase its regional rise.” This analysis certainly fits with the prophesied rise of a “king of the south,” an Islamic power in the end time prophesied in Daniel 11.
4 | Israel
EU reveals anti-Israel colors
An internal European Union document published in January had some nasty things to say about the Jewish state. “Israel has left Palestinian neighborhoods ever more isolated,” it said. Israel, “by legal and practical means, is actively pursuing its annexation by systematically undermining the Palestinian presence in [Jerusalem].”
The report, published by top European Union officials in Israel, was sent to EU consuls general. It recommends that EU observers be present during Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem. The diplomats advise that Brussels should “ensure EU intervention when Palestinians are arrested or intimidated by Israeli authorities for peaceful cultural, social or political activities in East Jerusalem.”
Other suggestions include boycotting products manufactured in Israeli factories in East Jerusalem and banning entry of aggressive settlers to EU countries.
Haaretz reported, “The far-ranging sharply worded recommendations in the report … reflect a dramatic, negative change in the international community’s attitude toward Israel in general, and East Jerusalem in particular. The European Union report should be viewed in the context of the news that more and more countries are inclined to recognize a Palestinian state along the borders of June 4, 1967. … This is the context in which the report recommends that Europe should begin to treat the eastern part of the city as the capital of Palestine” (January 11).
Bible prophecy says that Jerusalem will eventually be cut in half by a Palestinian uprising (Zechariah 14:1-2). In the midst of this crisis, Israel will finally see how disastrous the “peace” process has been over the past two decades. In a desperate attempt to heal this incurable sickness, as prophesied in Hosea 5:13, Israel will turn to the German-led European Union for help. That move, however, will result in a catastrophic double cross.
Expect Europe to intensify its efforts to establish a presence in Jerusalem—and Israel to accommodate it. But as the recent internal document reveals—to say nothing of Bible prophecy or secular history—such efforts have all the trappings of a Trojan horse.
Palestinians: I’d rather be Israeli
Of Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, more would prefer to be Israeli citizens than citizens of a Palestinian state, a recent poll found. Only 30 percent said they’d rather be Palestinian citizens in a two-state solution; 35 percent said they’d choose Israeli citizenship. (The rest didn’t answer or said they didn’t know.) Four in 10 said they’d think of moving in order to become Israeli citizens; 54 percent said they’d stay put if their neighborhood was assigned to Israel.
Dissent among Palestinians against Palestinian National Authority policies is not tolerated and is often met with repression and brutal force, according to Khaled Abu Toameh, an Arab Muslim journalist (Hudson Institute, Dec. 24, 2010). The Palestinian Authority has been held up by the international liberal media as the antithesis of the supposedly brutal Israeli security forces. The truth, however, is that the PA is using violence and intimidation to silence critics and opposition figures—and journalists who would report objectively. Only a quarter of Palestinians in the West Bank believe they can criticize the Palestinian Authority, a recent public opinion poll found.
5 | Lebanon
Hezbollah flexes, government falls
Ministers from the Islamic terrorist group Hezbollah and its allies resigned on January 5, toppling the Lebanese government. The 11 cabinet members were protesting Lebanon’s involvement in the United Nations tribunal investigating the death of the current prime minister’s father, former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. The tribunal is expected to soon indict several Hezbollah members for the murder. By forcing the collapse of the government, Hezbollah has prevented Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri from dealing with the tribunal as an official representative of the country. Hezbollah thus paralyzed the government and is destabilizing the country. This situation clearly shows the political power Hezbollah has in Lebanon, in addition to its firepower.
6 | Turkey
Our deadliest threats are …
Israel continues to lose support from Turkey. In January, a survey conducted by the Metropol Educational Institution found that 63 percent of Turks believe Turkey’s ties with Israel should be severed. Turkey was once Israel’s strongest ally in the Mideast. Now, Turks say Israel is the second-most dangerous threat to Turkey’s sovereignty after the U.S.
1 | Belarus
A little help from his comrades
Thousands of protesters assembled in Minsk on December 25 to contest Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s hijacking of yet another presidential election. Lukashenko, who has been called “the European Mugabe,” had appeared in recent years to be mellowing, as he worked to secure EU support for funds from the International Monetary Fund for his beleaguered nation. But once he secured the assistance he needed, he abandoned his charade. Moscow has ignored Europe’s requests to deal with Lukashenko’s human rights violations. The Russian bear is waking up from its hibernation, and will likely work behind the scenes to prop up tyrants like Lukashenko, whose allegiance is to Moscow.
2 | Philippines
Following the leader
The Philippines joined the China-led boycott against the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in December that honored imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. Most other nations that heeded China’s calls to boycott the ceremony were regimes like Iran and Venezuela that share China’s disdain for Western human rights pressure. But the Philippines is supposed to be a champion of democracy. The Manila Times blasted President Benigno Aquino iii for his “painful sacrifice” of Filipino interests to please Beijing. Manila’s kowtowing to Beijing came only days after the Philippines signed a major military logistics deal with Beijing. Manila sees the writing on the wall and is positioning itself for the inevitable demise of U.S. influence in Asia.
3 | Japan
Pacifist no longer
Japan is shifting toward a more assertive military stance involving new advanced weaponry, boosted cooperation with its ally nations, and deployable rapid-response units. Tokyo has considered such a sweeping shift for some time, but rising tensions with China and North Korea have injected new urgency into the discussions. It announced the new defense policy Dec. 17, 2010.
In the aftermath of World War ii, Japan vowed to “forever renounce war” and, in 1946, America wrote Japan’s postwar “peace” constitution which includes Article 9, a law forbidding Tokyo the “threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.”
But many Japanese citizens want to see an end to that constitution. The new defense policy is a lunge in that direction.
Under the updated guidelines, the country’s submarine fleet will increase from 16 to 22, advanced fighter jets will be added to the air force, and troops will be relocated from countering the faded northern threat of Russia to the intensifying threat of China to Japan’s south. The policy also calls for a review of Japan’s three non-nuclear principles, for a lifting of the nation’s arms export bans, and for defensive alliances with the U.S., India, Australia and South Korea.
Back in 1971, Herbert W. Armstrong, editor in chief of the Trumpet’s forerunner magazine, the Plain Truth, said, “Japan today has no military establishment. Some United States forces are still there. But we should not lose sight of the fact that Japan has become so powerful economically that it could build a military force of very great power very rapidly.”
Even before the latest military shifts, Japan was moving quickly in that direction. Japan is home to the second-largest navy in the world and one of the top five military arsenals on the globe.
Japan’s military will continue to expand, and it will look less and less like a “self-defense” force. And although at present this expansion is largely a response to threats from other Asian countries, Bible prophecy reveals that the militaries of China, Japan and other powers in the East will soon put aside their differences and unite. For proof, order our free booklet Russia and China in Prophecy.
4 | Russia
#1 producer, meet #1 consumer
On January 1, crude oil began to flow from Russia into China, marking the official start of the Russia-China oil pipeline’s operations. The event marked the first time oil flowed directly from Russia, the largest oil producer on the globe, into China, the world’s largest energy consumer. The alliance between Russia and China is growing stronger every month.
5 | China
China announced on December 23 that it will launch its first aircraft carrier in 2011, a year earlier than analysts had expected. Chinese military sources said the carrier, purchased 10 years ago from Moscow, would be used to help China secure oil routes and defend its claims to disputed territories in the South China Sea. Especially since the news came just weeks after British Prime Minister David Cameron scrapped Britain’s carrier fleet and halved its overall number of warships, it reflects the rapidly changing tides of geopolitics.
1 | Venezuela
“A new dictatorial model”
Venezuela’s national assembly used its last few days in office in December to grant more powers to President Hugo Chávez. It approved Chávez’s request for the power to pass laws by decree for the next year and a half, and passed a law banning nongovernment organizations such as human rights groups, and political parties from receiving money from outside the country. Another law labels anyone who switches political parties a “fraud,” putting such a person at risk of being disqualified from public office. This law makes it harder for anyone to defect from Chávez’s coalition. Posting a message online that aims to “incite or promote disobedience of the current legal order” could now land a person with a fine. Ismael García, a former ally of Chávez who now works with the opposition, said “One has to say it clearly: A new dictatorial model is being imposed in Venezuela.”
From Russia with love
Venezuela received 1,800 shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles from Russia in 2009, according to UN arms control data. A missile expert from the Federation of American Scientists said the missiles are some of the most sophisticated in the world. The UN’s database shows that from 2006 to 2008, Russia sold Venezuela 24 combat planes, 44 attack helicopters and 472 missiles and launchers. A State Department cable from 2009 stated that Venezuela had spent “over $5 billion last year and growing” on weapons from Russia.
Latin America and Africa
2 | Tunisia 3 | Egypt
Revolt could set region on fire
In December, a young Tunisian man protested government injustice by setting himself on fire. His dramatic act inspired a wave of anti-government demonstrations. Tunisia’s autocratic president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, has ruled for 23 years, living in opulence and luxury at the expense of his people. His regime first tried to crack down by arresting and killing protesters. But the crowds only grew, and on January 14, they took over the streets of the capital. Within hours, the spooked president had sacked his government and fled on his private jet. Just what will happen next is an open question.
Conditions in Tunisia that provoked the uprising—public discontent due to high unemployment, poverty and repression at the hands of secularist governments steeped in corruption—are identical if not far worse in several other Arab states. This has been the status quo in this region for decades. But times are changing. Countries like Egypt, Libya, Algeria and Morocco all appear vulnerable to mass uprisings, not to mention Kuwait, Syria, Jordan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The concern now is that unrest in Tunisia could inspire similar revolts elsewhere, jeopardizing other governments. “Every Arab leader is watching Tunisia in fear,” said one Egyptian commentator.
What really makes this development dangerous is its potential to be exploited by Islamists. Secularist President Ben Ali, despot that he was, did work to keep Islamism in Tunisia in check. Tunisia was actually an ally in the war on terror and considered one of the more stable countries in the region. For it to fall so quickly and unexpectedly is cause for serious alarm.
Islamists have for years sought to cultivate Tunisia as a recruiting ground for terrorism. They see the government’s fall as their big break, an occasion ripe with opportunity. Already the leader of Tunisia’s main Islamist organization has announced he will return to the country for the first time since 1989. And the leader of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Abu Musab Abdul Wadud, is urging Tunisian protesters to “send your children to us for training on how to use weapons and to get military experience.”
It’s not just Tunisia at risk of radicalization. As Daniel Pipes wrote, “This fast, seemingly easy, and relatively bloodless coup d’etat could inspire globally Islamists to sweep away their own tyrants.”
Egypt is the most troubling example. The region’s most populous Arab state, it is particularly vulnerable. Public discontent over the regime of President Hosni Mubarak runs extremely high, and there is no clear plan of succession. The strongest opposition force is the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization with strong ideological and logistical ties to Iran. As the Trumpet has long forecast, Egypt is ripe for a radical political shift. The precedent in Tunisia could hasten that change.
This is an extraordinary moment for this region. The tumult in Tunisia could portend far greater, more widespread change. The risk of a surge in radicalism is high. Conditions are highly combustible. One young man lighting fire to himself may prove to be a spark with dangerously explosive consequences.
4 | Brazil
A step toward Britain losing Falklands?
For the first time, Brazil has turned away a Royal Navy Falkland Islands protection ship from docking in Rio de Janeiro, the Telegraph reported January 10. In spite of its tensions with Argentina, the navy had enjoyed good relations with Brazil, but the country’s new president, Dilma Rousseff, appears to be siding with her Latin American counterpart and spurning Britain.