World Review Jan/Feb 2016

6th Trumpet

U.S. Drawing Line Against Putin

The Obama administration and its European allies are intensifying their planning and training for a potential conflict on NATO’s eastern flank, hoping to send the strongest possible message about Russian aggression. Deterring Putin was a central theme at a conference hosted by the U.S. Army where officials described escalating NATO activity including a massive training exercise now underway and talk of U.S. troop increases.

Russia, China in Alliance to Curb U.S. Influence

According to an American analyst, Russia and China have forged an alliance against the American and Western hegemony and this is visible in Beijing’s stance on the South China Sea. The U.S. accuses Beijing of conducting a massive “land reclamation” program through building artificial islands in the South China Sea, saying that China’s man-made islands could further militarize the region. 

Invasion of Iraq Played Role in Rise of ISIS

According to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was partly responsible for the rise of the Islamic State militant group. Blair said that “there are elements of truth” in the assertion that the war caused the rise of ISIS. He added the Arab Spring had also played a role in creating instability that allowed the Islamic fundamentalist militant group to flourish.

North Korea can Hit U.S.

According to the U.S. Northern Command, North Korea is capable of hitting the United States with a long-range nuclear missile. Admiral William Gortney, the Northcom commander who is also in charge of defending the United States from long-range missile attacks said, “I agree with the intel community that we assess that they have the ability, they have the weapons, and they have the ability to miniaturize those weapons, and they have the ability to put them on a rocket that can range the homelands.”

Holy Roman Empire

 Integration to Fight Terror

According to a recent article in Time magazine, the only solutions to the big problems that face the European Union is more integration. If Europe actually had a common foreign policy, security policy, and fiscal policy, think about how much easier it would be to fight terror. The goal of total political integration in Europe is what’s needed now to solve all the big problems.

UK Leaders Warn of ‘Brexit’

Britain’s foreign secretary Philip Hammond says the European Union must implement fundamental reform or British people will vote to leave the bloc in an upcoming referendum. Hammond said that “the British people will not be fobbed off with a set of cosmetic alterations to the way the EU works” and that there must be “substantive legally-binding change” for Britons to vote to stay in the 28-nation bloc.

Record Refugees in Germany

What had been a relatively smooth process for new arrivals turned into a confusing nightmare as German cities and towns struggled to cope with a surge of refugees and there’s no end in sight. The government of Hamburg even began seizing empty office buildings to house refugees. Asylum seekers, some of whom slept outside, said they had been waiting nearly a month to register. German Chancellor Angela Merkel offered Turkey a deal for support to obtain faster progress with its bid to join the European Union in return for more cooperation with stemming the flow of the migrants and refugees and reaccepting those who have been rejected by Europe. The German chancellor has resisted pressure to tighten Germany’s border controls and turn away refugees.

Mark of the Beast

Momentum Shifts in Privacy

When the data released by Edward Snowden brought what was happening to the public light, it suddenly became politically viable to question the extent of the government’s data collection. Now, in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, the momentum on Capitol Hill looks to be shifting back in the other direction. There are calls on Capitol Hill to renew or expand the intelligence community’s tools and surveillance powers. 

The Extinction of Privacy

In a survey, 1,000 UK shoppers were asked to rate a suite of in-store shopping technologies as either “cool” or “creepy”. When you walk in the store, your mobile gives you away. It provides the retailer with information to identify your age and gender, whether you are a high value customer, and your spending habits. All of this was found to be very “creepy” by respondents.

Japan Launches National ID System

Japan has launched a national identification system that will be used for taxation and social security payments, with a 12-digit number to be assigned to all citizens. The “My Number” identification system’s notification cards are being sent by registered mail to all households. Citizens can request a “Personal Number Card”, which can be used as an identification card. Tokyo plans to make it possible to use the card to receive national health insurance benefits.

2016 Air Travel Problem

If you’re contemplating air travel in 2016, your driver’s license may not be sufficient identification. Air travelers from multiple states will find that their ordinary driver’s licenses won’t be sufficient identification to allow them to fly under the Real ID Act because those licenses don’t require proof of U.S. citizenship. The Real ID Act calls not just for tighter security standards for issuing state identification but also for ID databases to be linked.

EEOC Defends “Mark of the Beast” Ruling

In August, the United States’ Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) prevailed in a religious discrimination lawsuit. Former Consol mine worker Beverly Butcher refused to use new biometric hand scanners believing they would leave the “Mark of the Beast”. The EEOC said it is unconstitutional to demand theological accuracy or consistency.  Religious beliefs need not be seen as rational, doctrinally consistent, or accurate in order to be protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Middle East

We are Facing a Third World War

Jordan’s King Abdullah says the world is facing another global conflict and a fast response is needed to deal with the threat. “We are facing a Third World War against humanity and this is what brings us all altogether. The atrocious Paris attacks show the scourge of terrorism can strike anywhere and any time,” King Abdullah said.

U.S. Admiral: No Change in Iranian Behavior

Vice Admiral Kevin Donegan says Iran’s landmark nuclear deal with world powers has done little to stop the country from pursuing activities beyond its shores that the United States considers destabilizing. The commander of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet noted that actions such as attempts to smuggle military equipment to Yemen and harassing ships transiting the Gulf continue just as they did before the agreement.

Surveillance on Temple Mount

A deal was reached between Israel and Jordan regarding the Temple Mount, under the auspices of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. The agreement calls for installing 24-hour surveillance cameras at the Temple Mount. The footage of the goings on at the Temple Mount will be streamed live to the world via the Internet. The project is progressing despite Palestinian Arab threats to undermine it.

Western Wall Rabbi Slams UNESCO

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz criticized UNESCO for recognizing Rachel’s Tomb and the Tomb of the Patriarchs as Muslim sites. The decision “cannot be explained by any historical, archeological, or cultural measure,” he said. The vote of 26-6 in favor of the resolution with 25 abstentions recognized Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem and the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron as Muslim sites that are part of a Palestinian state. Both sites are holy to Jews and are listed in the Bible as the burial places of the Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs.

World Government

Get Rid of Sovereignty

Peter Sutherland, the United Nations special representative of the secretary-general for international migration, is preaching the message that the refugee tsunami proves national sovereignty is an “illusion, a mere shibboleth” that must be done away with. Moreover, Sutherland said that the United States and the European Union “have not merely a moral but a legal obligation to protect refugees.”

 Nations on Verge of Pacific Rim Trade Accord

The United States, Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim nations are on the verge of a final agreement on the largest free-trade accord in a generation, an ambitious effort led by the Obama administration to knit together economies across a vast region. Negotiators say they are near a consensus on terms for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Senior Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown slammed the White House’s push for the TPP declaring that Obama’s proposal “is an enormous giveaway to huge corporations and CEOs and a massive sellout of American workers and jobs.” GOP front-runner Donald Trump said “the deal is insanity.”

Obama Argues for Global Governance

In an address at the United Nations, President Obama praised the UN, arguing that global governance has helped spread democracy. “We can not look backwards,” he insisted, emphasizing that global integration is an agenda that transcends the narrowly defined interests of nation states. Obama argued that the change in U.S. policy toward Iran and Cuba represented a fundamental shift toward working with previously sanctioned nations. The objective, he said, is to bring former enemies into a new world order. 

World Religion

Promoting Islam in American Classrooms

A mindset that has gradually led American parents to leave the education of their children unchecked has spawned controversies such as the promotion of Islam in classrooms and the unpopular Common Core standards. “Islam is described as a ‘religion of peace’ and there is limited study of the nation’s Judeo-Christian foundation,” said Donna Hearne, former Reagan official in the U.S. Department of Education. 

Ten Commandments Monument Removed

Workers removed a Ten Commandments monument from the grounds of the Oklahoma Capitol in accordance with a court order. The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled last summer that the display violates a state constitutional prohibition on the use of public property to support “any sect, church, denomination or system of religion.” 

Reclaiming the Heart of Our Humanity

Ten thousand religious leaders of faiths from 80 nations around the globe assembled in Salt Lake City, Utah, for the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions. The event’s theme was “Reclaiming the Heart of our Humanity”. Parliament topics addressed looming worldwide challenges such as war, hatred, violence, climate change, and wealth disparity. The turnout for the event was bigger than organizers had hoped for. Guest speaker Jane Goodall, known for her research on Chimpanzees, said that there was opportunity to mix her environmental messages with religion.