The Lesson in Lance Armstrong’s Lost Racing Titles

The Lesson in Lance Armstrong’s Lost Racing Titles

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It is a sad reflection of our devolving national character.

Everywhere you look athletes are getting stronger, faster and tougher. Swimmers break new records. Baseball players bash more home runs. Boxers pack bigger punches. And cyclists get faster and faster.

Some might say it is due to evolving technology—specialized swimsuits, better training methods, lighter bikes, etc. There is no doubt these things play a role, but there is a more important reason.

Devolving national character.

Yesterday, the International Cycling Union stripped seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong from all his titles and all 14 years of his racing history. It was a sad day in cycling and an even sadder day for people across America and the world. (Armstrong has not acknowledged guilt, but will not challenge the report’s findings.)

His was a fairy tale story that inspired untold thousands. He was a cancer survivor, an underdog cyclist that bounced back to win a record seven titles in a row and beat the French at their own game. He became the poster boy for overcoming incredible challenges. He racked up the most prestigious sponsors. His charity, Livestrong, grew to become one of the most successful in the world. He was the geeky kid that shaved his legs that grew up to become a world champion and rub shoulders with celebrities and date famous singers.

Now, as the Christian Science Monitor points out, the world knows Lance beat the Tour field the same way he beat cancer: using drugs.

In a shocking statement denouncing Lance, International Cycling Union President Pat McQuaid said “Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling,” and that he “deserves to be forgotten from cycling” history.

McQuaid said he was “sickened” by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (usada) investigation that provided “overwhelming” evidence that Lance was a serial drug-taker who helped orchestrate “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program” in this history of the sport. He is charged with using steroids, the blood booster epo and blood transfusions.

One of the reasons he was able to pull off the deception for so long is that apparently his whole team was in on it. They only came clean after federal subpoenas forced them to tell the truth or go to jail. “Their accounts of their past provide a shocking insight into … the expression to ‘win at all costs’ [which] was redefined in terms of deceit, intimidation, coercion and evasion,” said the International Cycling Agency.

The blow to the credibility of the sport is so huge that the Tour de France will not award Lance’s gold medals to the silver medalists. “We wish that there is no winner for this period,” said Tour director Christian Prudhomme. “For us, very clearly, the titles should remain blank. Effectively, we wish for these years to remain without winners.”

Drug usage is so widespread that there is little credibility that the other podium finishers were any cleaner.

A whopping 20 of the 21 cyclists to make it to the podium between 1999 and 2005 (the years Lance won gold) have since been tied to doping, according to the usada. Of the 45 riders to medal between 1996 and 2010, 36 have also since been “similarly tainted.”

The whole sport is stuffed with cheaters. It is sick from head to toe.

But it isn’t just cycling that is suffering.

As I write, the big sports headline today is that the San Diego Chargers were caught cheating during their recent loss to the Denver Broncos. They are accused of using a sticky substance to help hang on to the ball, a practice that has been banned since the 1980s, but evidently continues.

Sadly, everyone knows the cheating doesn’t get close to stopping there. It goes way beyond the major league sports, the underage gymnasts, and drugged up sprinters and weightlifters at the Olympics.

It is society as a whole that has this problem. Lance Armstrong and all the others that have fallen are just a sad reflection of America’s general degrading sense of morals.

This isn’t something that can be fixed with more and better testing. The only way to have clean sports is to have clean minds.

And the more you look, the more you see the effects of America’s moral degradation. Take the recent presidential debates. It is hard to stomach all the cheating on the truth. The lies, half-truths and accusations are hard to watch.

Today, it is a rare man that makes it to the top—in almost any field—without compromising his character.

Don’t underestimate the implications. This crisis of character goes well beyond sports. The impacts are national in scope. They begin with damaged families and result in broken economies and nations.

The devolving character of Americans is about to impact us far beyond embarrassing sporting scandals.

Is God Protecting Jordan From Terror Attacks?

Israel Seizes Gaza-Bound Ship

Israel Seizes Gaza-Bound Ship

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A ship bound for Gaza tried to break through Israel’s blockade on Saturday, and Israeli troops took over the ship. The MV Estelle, a Finnish-flagged ship carrying a crew of international activists, was captured and boarded by Israel Defense Forces soldiers without any resistance.

The MV Estelle left port in Sweden four months ago and has made numerous stops at European ports along the way, picking up additional activists and drumming up support for its mission. On board were high-profile activists from many Western nations, including lawmakers from Sweden, Norway, Spain and Greece, as well as Israeli activists and a former Canadian minister of parliament.

The incident is the latest in a series of deliberate provocations aimed at denouncing Israel’s blockade of Gaza. The blockade has been in effect since 2007, when Israel instituted the blockade to prevent the smuggling of weapons into the region after Hamas gained control of it. Since then, a number of flotillas have sailed for Gaza under the auspice of providing aid to the region. One such expedition made international news in 2010 when Israeli troops were attacked while boarding a flotilla from Turkey, resulting in the death of nine Turkish activists.

Last week, Israel asked the United Nations to take action to stop such flotillas, specifically the Estelle.

“I call on the secretary general, the Security Council, and all responsible members of the international community to take immediate action to end this provocation,” said Israel’s Ambassador Ron Prosor. “Their clear provocation raises tensions and could easily spark a serious escalation of the conflict.”

Israel maintains that these flotillas are not concerned with delivering humanitarian aid, but rather with sending a political message. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu labeled the latest incident nothing more than an attempt “to provoke and slander Israel’s name.” He noted, “If human rights were really important to these activists, they would have sailed for Syria.” Speaking of the true intent behind the Estelle voyage, Prosor said, “They understand that it is much easier to face news cameras in Tel Aviv than bullets in Damascus.”

Israel is continually portrayed as oppressors of Palestinians in Gaza, accused of denying the people access to basic needs. But as Prosor pointed out, “There is not a single civilian good that cannot enter Gaza.”

Stories like the Estelle are just minor events that the media will continue to jump on in support of the effort to demonize Israel. Watch for this event combined with recent attacks in Gaza to stir up more animosity against Israel and give more support to the enemies that surround them.

Assassination in Lebanon Intensifies Protests

Assassination in Lebanon Intensifies Protests

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Hundreds of protesters marched to the Lebanese prime minister’s offices following the funeral of an intelligence officer who was killed in a car bombing on Friday.

Thousands thronged Martyrs’ Square, Beirut, on Sunday to attend the funeral of Lebanese intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan, who was killed in a car bomb blast during rush hour along with at least seven others.

Syria is believed to be behind the attack.

Following the funeral, hundreds marched on to the offices of Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati in protest. Throwing stones, hurling bottles and overturning barriers, the protesters called on the resignation of the prime minister, who is seen as being too close to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and to Hezbollah, which forms part of the government in Lebanon.

The slain officer was an enemy of Hezbollah and Syria who helped uncover a bomb plot in August, a revelation that resulted in the indictment of pro-Assad Lebanese Information Minister Michel Samaha. Prime Minister Mikati even admits to the link between the attack and the indictment in August. He said, “I cannot separate the plot uncovered [in August] and what happened [on Friday]. … After the discovery of explosives, logic dictates that the two cases are related.”

The prime minister has since offered to resign, but Lebanon’s president asked him to remain in office to allow time for inter-party talks to resolve the Lebanese political crisis.

Referring to Hassan’s assassination, a Lebanese political adviser told the Washington Post that “this is a big, big, big event, and one cannot begin even to think through the repercussions.” The Post concluded, “If speculation turns out to be accurate that the Syrian government was behind the blast, and that it killed Hassan intentionally, it would mark an escalation and a small degree of internationalization of the Syrian conflict. This would be a not-shocking but still geopolitically significant increase in the war’s impact on the broader region. This in turn risks increasing neighboring countries’ exposure to the conflict and thus their interest in controlling it.”

Pressure is mounting on Syria and on the Hezbollah-led government in Lebanon. In his article “How the Syrian Crisis Will End,” Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry explained from Bible prophecy how and why Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria will fall, and how Syria will realign with Germany and a bloc of “moderate” Arab states. “Lebanon,” he wrote, “is home today to the Iranian terrorist puppet Hezbollah. We can expect it to also switch allegiance!”

For more information, read Chapter Two (“A Mystery Alliance”) of our booklet The King of the South.

A Comeback for Guttenberg?

A Comeback for Guttenberg?

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Right on time, just one year before Germany’s federal elections, calls are going out for Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg to return to frontline German politics.

Amid the brouhaha of Bavaria’s Christian Socialist Party’s annual conference, csu leader Horst Seehofer has called for the return to high office of Baron Karl Theodore zu Guttenberg.

Having voluntarily resigned from politics in the wake of a left-wing attack on his academic credibility, Guttenberg moved to Connecticut, accepting a post with Neelie Kroes, EU commissioner for Digital Agenda, in addition to joining a U.S.-based international think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, under the title of “distinguished statesman.”

Both posts have served Guttenberg well, keeping his hand in on developments on the international scene as he bided his time, awaiting such a moment as now being presented by his party boss, Seehofer.

Focus broke the news of a Guttenberg comeback in the early hours of Saturday morning. By the afternoon, every major German news source had jumped on the story.

And no wonder.

German politics has fallen into disarray in the wake of party differences on how to tackle the ongoing euro crisis. Chancellor Merkel only survives because no credible alternative leader is seen on the horizon in Germany. The Germans are getting restless, and as that old observer of European affairs, Luigi Barzini once observed, when the Germans get restless, they tend to get dangerous. In their restlessness they have too often sought out a charismatic leader to their own national detriment.

Bild am Sonntag spoke of the unofficial announcement of an attempt to invite Guttenberg back into a prominent role in csu politics as Seehofer’s “most important message”: “But the most important message, Seehofer chose to announce not at the podium but on the edge of the Congress, declaring that after the elections in 2013 he wanted to get the former defense minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, back into active politics.” The paper quoted the party boss as saying, “When the election is over, we will see how we can integrate Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg into a key function again in the csu” (October 20).

Germany is crying out for a decisive leader to give the nation hope. The people see their hard-won and substantial economic rewards at great risk of loss because of a prospective collapse of the euro dream. Seehofer is reading the scene well. The timing could not be better.

As Focus reported: “csu leader Horst Seehofer wants to bring back the former Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg after the elections in 2013.” It quoted Seehofer saying, “After the election, I will try it.” Focus further observed, “Seehofer’s idea also is that Guttenberg does not have to start all over again. The former minister should take a ‘significant’ job, Seehofer said.

“The csu chief had said on several occasions that he would like to get Guttenberg back, but so far still has not mentioned a date. He hopes Guttenberg should actually want to come back, but he has no electoral mandate, because he is not a candidate in the general election in 2013. It remains open just what Seehofer thinks of as a major role for Guttenberg.”

There are two points of interest here. One is that lacking an electoral mandate places Guttenberg in the position of being open for invitation to take up political office. A valid comparison would be with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, who though lacking any clear political mandate for the role, was invited to take up Italy’s chief political office.

Second is that with Guttenberg keeping a toe in the water both sides of the Atlantic in his two current advisory positions, he has been able to continue to hone his foreign-policy skills.

Having previously been regarded as csu spokesman on foreign affairs, and with the added value of having held two senior portfolios in the Merkel government in the past (economics minister and minister for defense), it is not such a long shot to see Guttenberg—once Germany’s most popular politician—possibly replacing its currently most unpopular minister, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, in the German cabinet in the future. Germany’s foreign minister traditionally also holds the post of deputy chancellor, just one step away from national leadership.

Handelsblatt reported that the csu has rebounded to a position of political strength once again. It is regarded as the sister party to the cdu, Germany’s most dominant political party. All things remaining as they are at present—which is, admittedly, a lot to assume in German politics in a time of crisis—a strong csu would be in a powerful position to influence cabinet appointments after the 2013 elections.

In the meantime, certain respectable voices are even expressing the hope that Guttenberg will be returned in time for the 2013 elections.

“[F]ormer csu chief Erwin Huber makes no bones about it. He would want Guttenberg as a candidate for the federal election already in 2013. He should stand as a candidate, for real candidates do not exist in Guttenberg’s home constituency, no candidate is on the list for that constituency, Huber told Focus Online. ‘I always thought Guttenberg is a political natural and should remain in politics in Germany,’ Huber added. ‘We have few who accepted foreign policy so passionately. Karl-Theodor could fill a gap within the external competence of the Union parties well’” (October 20).

During the years of post-war reconstruction, General Montgomery observed the need to “change the heart and the way of life of the German people.” He spoke in the immediate wake of World War ii, declaring that the Germany that emerged from 13 years of Nazism was a nation where “the authority of the family had been minimized, the influence of the church reduced, and the power of the state increased” (The Memoirs of Montgomery of Alamein).

Today’s Germany has witnessed the authority of the family reduced in the wake of the rampant liberal rationalism and homosexualization within its society. The impact of its traditional moral bastion, the church, has been reduced by theological rationalism, and the power of the state has increased massively under the auspices of the European Union. On top of all that, Germans are beginning to worry that the eurocrisis will sap the energy of their highly successful economy, with resultant loss of the good life they have enjoyed for so long.

This is not a formula for a stable German democracy. The danger is that, as Montgomery noted, unless such drift is arrested, “The Germans would merely look to the past and be ready to follow any [charismatic] leader who might arise.”

In fact, biblical prophecy foretells of this situation arising just one more time in Daniel 8 and 11.

Gainsayers to the contrary, we have continually said, “Watch Guttenberg.” Indications are that we may not have to wait much longer to see a triumphant return to high political office for Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, baron of the Holy Roman Empire.

Violent Crime Rates on the Rise

Violent Crime Rates on the Rise

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Year-to-year violent crime rates in the United States rose for the first time in nearly 20 years, a report released by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics indicates.

The report, released Wednesday, indicates that the trend of declining year-to-year violent crime rates since 1993 was reversed in 2011 when the rate rose by 17 percent. Property crime, which includes burglary, larceny, shoplifting, auto-theft, arson and vandalism, rose by 11 percent. Simple assaults, which involve simple arguments between two people that escalate only to a point where one calls the police, increased by 22 percent.

These percentages represent the following data: Simple assaults rose from 4 million to 5 million cases. Property crime incidents increased from 15.4 million to 17 million. Of this property crime, there were 12.8 million thefts, up from 11.6 million, and household burglaries rose from 3.2 million to 3.6 million.

Criminologists attribute the reversal of this declining trend in crime mostly to the simple assaults which themselves are “so low-level in severity that they are not even included in the fbi counts of serious crime,” according to criminology professor James Alan Fox. Also, the 2011 numbers, criminologists argue, are being compared to historically low crime rates of 2010. As Professor Fox said, “2011 may be worse than 2010, but it was also the second-best in recent history.” Assistant criminology professor, Chris Melde, cautioned against forecasting future crime trends based on one-year changes. Criminologist Charles Wellford, said, “I wouldn’t make much out of it,” adding that one year doesn’t make a trend.

Considering that a 20-year trend is being broken, and considering the violence in some American cities like Detroit, and the historic trend that less than half of all crimes are ever reported to the police, it seems a mistake to entirely dismiss these statistics.

The Trumpet forecasts future crime trends, based on more than one-year changes. We look at geopolitical, social, moral and spiritual trends, but most importantly at Bible prophecy. That source forecasts an explosion of violence in America’s cities that will shatter previous trends. You can read about this in Chapter 4 of Ezekiel: The End Time Prophet.

We also offer solutions to crime which are based on Bible prophecy. Read “The End of American Crime” and Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry’s booklet, “The Way of Peace Restored Momentarily.”