This Week in the News

Violence on the Temple Mount

The Guardian wrote on July 23:

“Israelis and Palestinians braced for further confrontations in Jerusalem as death toll rises in wake of new security crackdown. Amid a mounting toll of deaths and injuries in the crisis, Israelis and Palestinians are braced for weeks of confrontation, as both sides appeared to dig in to their position… Israel has also began installing sophisticated security cameras at one of the entrances to the compound housing the al-Aqsa mosque, known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif and revered by Jews as the Temple Mount…

“The issue exploded into more serious violence on Friday, after days of night-time clashes after the metal detectors installation, which followed the attack on 14 July that killed two Israeli policemen at the entrance to the site by three Israeli Arabs who Israel says smuggled weapons into the compound.

“In clashes that have grown in intensity since mass protests on Friday, four Palestinians have been killed in confrontations with Israeli security forces, while a family of three Israeli settlers was stabbed to death by a Palestinian who entered their home in the West Bank citing the issues around the al-Aqsa mosque as his motive.

“The sheer scale of the risks involved was made clear on Sunday morning when the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas – who has long threatened to end security cooperation with Israel – cancelled a planned security meeting after announcing he was cutting all contacts…”

Deutsche Welle wrote on July 24:

“The death toll stemming from the Temple Mount crisis is continuing to grow. As both sides look for a solution, the conflict is taking on an increasingly religious dimension that could be difficult to control.

“Israel’s security cabinet early on Tuesday decided to remove metal detectors at the entrance to a sensitive Jerusalem holy site, after the new security measures unleashed a deadly round of unrest. A statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said it would replace the metal detectors with ‘a security inspection based on advanced technologies and other means.’… ‘What is happening is the beginning of the judaization of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which has been planned since the founding of Israel in 1948,’ wrote the popular Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds. For this reason the newspaper sees a connection between the current incidents and the visit to the Temple Mount by former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon in September 2000 – a move viewed by many Palestinians as a religious provocation…

“The crisis has led to an uproar in other parts of the world…”

Israel National News wrote on July 23:

“‘The Temple Mount is in our hands,’ [an Israeli governmental official] said, quoting the soldiers who liberated Jerusalem’s Old City during the Six Day War. ‘We will not cede sovereignty. The State of Israel is responsible for preserving law and order on the Temple Mount.’… Cabinet members authorized Israel Police to make any decisions necessary ‘to ensure safe and free access to holy places, while ensuring public safety and order’ on the Temple Mount.”

Israel will not give up sovereignty over the Temple Mount. In fact, very soon, a Temple will be built on the Temple Mount and sacrifices will be given there, which will set the region on fire.

More Violence in the Middle East

On July 21, Euronews published an article by Joschka Fischer, former German Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor:

“With the retaking of Mosul in northern Iraq, the so called Islamic State (ISIL) could soon be a thing of the past. But the defeat of ISIL and the demise of its self-proclaimed Iraqi-Syrian caliphate won’t bring peace to the Middle East, or even an end to the Syrian tragedy. Rather, it is likely to open a new chapter in the region’s bloody and chaotic history – one no less dangerous than the previous chapters since the fall of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I…

“Western powers are hardly blameless for the Middle East’s woes. Any mention of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, by which Great Britain and France partitioned the post-Ottoman territories, still incites such rage in the Arab world that it seems as if the plan, devised in secret in 1916, had been conceived only yesterday. Nor should we forget Czarist Russia’s role in the region. Following World War II, its successor, the Soviet Union, and its Cold War rival, the United States, began their multiple interventions.

“Indeed, the US may be the most significant contributor to today’s regional turmoil… America’s involvement in Afghanistan, too, has had profound repercussions for the Middle East. The US-backed insurgency of the 1980s, launched under the banner of jihad against the occupying Soviet Union, transformed two close American allies – Pakistan and Saudi Arabia – into strategic threats. This became clear on September 11, 2001, when it emerged that 15 of the 19 attackers sent by al-Qaeda were Saudi citizens. And it was Pakistan that created the Taliban, which provided al-Qaeda a haven for hatching its plots against the US and the West.

“The success of the first Gulf War, launched in January 1991 by President George H.W. Bush, was fatally undermined 12 years later by his son, President George W. Bush, whose own Gulf War caused a regional catastrophe that continues to this day. Whereas the senior Bush had pursued the limited objectives of liberating Kuwait and didn’t seek regime change in Iraq, his son’s aims were far more ambitious.

“The idea was to topple Saddam Hussein and bring about a democratic Iraq, which would catalyze comprehensive change throughout the Middle East and transform it into a democratic and pro-Western region. Within the younger Bush’s administration, imperial idealism prevailed over hardheaded realism, resulting in sustained destabilization of the Middle East as a whole and helping to place Iran in a position to expand its influence.

“After the Islamic State’s demise, the next chapter in the history of the Middle East will be determined by open, direct confrontation between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran for regional predominance. So far, this long-smoldering conflict has been pursued under cover and mostly by proxies. The two global powers active in the region have already clearly positioned themselves in this conflict, with the US siding with Saudi Arabia and Russia with Iran… And with Saudi Arabia and four Sunni allies imposing isolation on Qatar, in part owing to the Qatari’s’ close relations with Iran, this conflict has reached its first potential tipping point at the very center of the region, the Persian Gulf.

“Any direct military confrontation with Iran would, of course, set the region ablaze, greatly surpassing all previous Middle East wars. Moreover, with the fires in Syria still smoldering, and Iraq weakened by the sectarian struggle for power there, ISIS or some successor incarnation is likely to remain active. Another destabilizing factor is the reopening of the ‘Kurdish question.’ The Kurds – a people without a state – … want to use their new political and military clout to make progress toward autonomy, or even an independent state… the next chapter in the region’s history promises to be anything but peaceful… the US… cannot win a land war in the Middle East, despite its vastly superior military power. President Barack Obama sought to withdraw US forces from the region, which proved difficult to achieve both politically and militarily. That’s why he ruled out military intervention – even from the air – in the Syrian civil war, leaving a vacuum that Russia quickly filled, with all of the known consequences.

“Obama’s successor, Donald Trump… clearly faces a steep learning curve when it comes to the Middle East – a region that won’t wait for him to master it. There is no reason to be optimistic.”

Indeed, the Middle East is entering a phase of unparalleled violence and war, which the Bible describes as the “great tribulation.”

ISIS in the Philippines

USA Today wrote on July 25:

“The Islamic State, also known as ISIS, views the drawn-out battle as a major win at a time when it is being driven out of its base in Iraq and Syria, bringing greater attention to the Philippines and Southeast Asia as a new beachhead for extremists… While residents [in Mindanao] blame the extremists for the violence and chaos, many are also growing impatient with the military and its heavy airstrikes…

“The Philippine congress voted Saturday to extend martial law on Mindanao until the end of the year. President Rodrigo Duterte had declared martial law for 60 days when the fighting began…

“As ISIS loses ground in the Middle East, militants from around this region are moving their operations to Southeast Asia — primarily the Philippines, said Sidney Jones, director of Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict. ‘The idea that the Philippines is now the destination of choice rather than Syria has sunk in,’ she said. ‘That’s definite now.’

“Jones warned that the Philippine military is treading a thin line by using excessive force, because of its long history of taking a harsh stance against extremist groups in Mindanao. ‘One theme that was used to bring people on board to the ISIS message is the brutality of the security services,’ she said. ‘This was before even the airstrikes. So I think there’s got to be a serious re-think of how the Duterte administration responds to extremism. Because if they’re not careful, they’re going to be building a new generation of extremists, not eradicating the generation that’s there now.’”

Hawaii to Roll Out Plan on how to Deal with North Korean Nuke

The Star Advertiser reported on July 20:

“The public education and information campaign will emphasize steps to be taken on short notice, according to state officials, because a North Korean ICBM would arrive in just 20 minutes, leaving just 12 to 15 minutes to warn the populace… The plan… will include school students drilling for evacuation…

“The tourism industry is not at all happy with the arrival of the campaign, which it fears could spook tourists… But state officials say they want to get out ahead of North Korea’s goose-stepping march toward greater nuclear capability — even if it would be suicide for leader Kim Jong Un to launch missiles at the United States…”

With North Korea’s mad leader, anything seems to be imaginable. Note the next article.

North Korea and Iran vs. USA

Fox News reported on July 26:

Two enemies of America are poised for upcoming rocket launches… with another North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile launch expected… and Iran on the verge of sending its own vehicle into space. Iran’s Simorgh space-launch vehicle is believed to be carrying a satellite, marking the second time in more than a year that Tehran has attempted to put an operational satellite into orbit…

“North Korea and Iran have long been accused of sharing missile technology… U.S. officials are skeptical, however, that North Korea and Iran are coordinating their rocket and missile launches.

“While Iran insists its space program is for peaceful purposes, officials have long said any components used to put a satellite into orbit can also be used for building an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the United States…”

New US Sanctions Against Russia Are Raising Concerns

Deutsche Welle wrote on July 26:

“The US House of Representatives on Tuesday overwhelmingly endorsed  [a] bill that places restrictions on President Donald Trump from loosening sanctions on Russia, a measure that could tie his hands as he seeks a reset in relations with Moscow. Lawmakers voted 419-3 to pass the legislation, which also imposes a new round of sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea. The legislation must now go to the Senate, where it is likely to pass before being sent to the president’s desk, possibly as early as August.

“The bill is a rare case of Republicans allying with Democrats against their own president, whose administration has been plagued by investigations into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. A key feature of the bill is a requirement for the president to seek permission from Congress before removing sanctions on Russia – an attempt to block any unilateral move to lift sanctions. The Trump administration is against the bill… Trump has not said whether he would veto the bill…

“Russia has warned against the new sanctions and their impact on relations with the US, but has said it would wait until the final wording of the bill is clear… Russia could retaliate against the United States by escalating or playing a spoiler role in any number of areas, ranging from Ukraine and Syria to Afghanistan and North Korea…

“The Russian bill has also raised concern with the European Union because it could result in fines and other measures against companies involved in the Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project… It would also limit the access of European energy firms to US banks… The sanctions have particularly unnerved Germany and Austria, home of large energy companies that could be negatively impacted by the new bill. On Wednesday, German Foreign Ministry warned that Berlin ‘could not accept’ the US using sanctions against Russia as a tool of industrial policy…

“EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker warned of far-reaching consequences for transatlantic ties. ‘If our concerns are not taken into account sufficiently, we stand ready to act appropriately within a matter of days,’ he said in a statement… ‘America first cannot mean that Europe’s interests come last.’ Juncker added that the EU was  ‘raising its concerns via all diplomatic channels with the US and its counterparts.’”

Even though sanctions against Russia’s activities are highly appropriate, economic interests in Europe seem to be more important.

Chemical and Biological Weapons in the Hands of Terrorists

The Sun wrote on July 23:

“Black Death could once again wipe out millions in Britain if terrorists sprayed an antibiotic resistant form above a city… The plague killed a third of Europe’s population in the Middle Ages – but scientists and governments fear it could return. It comes after research papers were found hidden at Mosul University after the fall of ISIS detailing experimentation using chemical weapons on human beings… with ISIS imploding in Iraq and Syria it is feared the death cult could step-up any clandestine development and wreak revenge on the West.

“World Health Organisation researchers estimated releasing a 50 kg aerosol cloud of plague bacteria over a city the size of London and its surrounding areas could cause at least 300,000 to become infected with 72,000 perishing from the nightmarish disease. Meanwhile the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US believe plague is a major concern along with anthrax, smallpox, and viral fevers like Ebola and Marburg… health writer Eric Boodman writes: ‘After all, the bacteria were being used as weapons long before anyone even knew to call them bacteria. Plague-infected corpses were catapulted over walls. Venetians plotted to distill deadly liquid from swollen lymph nodes. Japanese planes sprinkled a rainfall of infected fleas. If those with nefarious motives and technical expertise wanted to weaponize the bacteria today, they could.

This is a frightening scenario. The Bible shows that biological and chemical weapons will be used in addition to nuclear weapons, threatening the very survival of mankind.

Merkel’s Re-Election Not Assured

Deutsche Welle wrote on July 23:

“Social Democratic (SPD) candidate Martin Schulz… took aim at what is perhaps Merkel’s Achilles heel: her policy toward migrants from Muslim countries. ‘In 2015 more than 1 million refugees came to Germany, mostly without government monitoring,’ Schulz told Bild. ‘The chancellor opened our border with Austria for humanitarian reasons but unfortunately without consulting our partners in Europe. If we don’t act now, that situation could repeat itself.’

“Merkel has promised German voters that there will be no repeat of what happened two years ago when hundreds of thousands of people, many fleeing war-torn Syria, arrived in Germany. Numbers of migrants lessened last year but could well be set to rise again as people try to escape political uncertainty and economic hardship of places like Nigeria and Eritrea…

“Well over 70,000 migrants made the extremely risky Mediterranean crossing to Italy in the first half of this year, representing an increase over 2016 of more than 25 percent. Italy has asked other EU states for help in dealing with the new arrivals, but it has so far been rebuffed…

“At the height of the refugee crisis in 2015 and early 2016, Merkel and her conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) fell to historic lows in public opinion polls, with more than 80 percent of those asked saying they believed her government didn’t have control over the situation. Merkel and her party have since recovered and currently lead Schulz and the SPD by around 15 percentage points in opinion surveys…

“The greater threat could come from the right, where Merkel is considerably more liberal than the vast majority of conservatives in Germany and the rest of Europe…

“CSU chairman Horst Seehofer couldn’t resist calling out the chancellor on the issue. In an interview with Welt newspaper, Seehofer said ‘everybody knows’ that the ‘waves of migration will continue.’ Seehofer predicted that Merkel’s decision to open Germany’s borders would cost the CDU-CSU an absolute majority in September’s election and claimed that conservatives throughout Germany were coming round to the CSU’s position…

“The connection between refugee policy and the AfD cannot be dismissed. Germany’s right-wing populists made a quantum leap in the polls… All of this suggests that the upturn in the number of migrants to Germany this summer would benefit the AfD at the polls and possibly have an effect on Angela Merkel’s attempt to win a fourth term as chancellor….”

It will be interesting to see what will happen in September. From a prophetic standpoint, both Angela Merkel’s re-election and Martin Schulz’ election could lead to meaningful developments.

Senate Votes to Begin Debate on Repealing Obamacare

Deutsche Welle wrote on July 25:

“The United States Senate has voted to begin the process of repealing the 2010 Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare… The vote to begin the repeal process was deadlocked at 50-50, with all senate Democrats voting against the measure. Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote to push the debate towards a bill forward. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska were the only two Republican senators who did not vote yes on the measure…

“Republican senator John McCain of Arizona returned to an ovation as he cast his ‘yes’ vote after being diagnosed with cancer  last week…  ‘I know many of you will have to see the bill changed substantially to support it,’ McCain said, adding that he would not vote for the Republican health care plan ‘as it is today.’”

No Democrat voted for the measure. The future debate on Obamacare vs. Trumpcare will be interesting. To just repeal Obamacare without replacing it, which has been advocated by some, seems to be a ridiculous proposition. 

The New York Times reported on July 25:

“The Senate voted narrowly on Tuesday to begin debate on a bill to repeal major provisions of the Affordable Care Act, but hours later, Republican leaders suffered a setback when their most comprehensive plan to replace President Barack Obama’s health law fell far short of the votes it needed. The Tuesday night tally needed to reach 60 votes to overcome a parliamentary objection. Instead, it fell 43-57. The fact that the comprehensive replacement plan came up well short of even 50 votes was an ominous sign for Republican leaders still seeking a formula to pass final health care legislation….”

It is hoped that ALL Americans will finally be given an affordable and meaningful health-care bill, without the corrupt political bickering and self-serving special interest groups we are all used to. But this would be a miracle.

No Transgender People in the Military

The New York Times reported on July 25:

“President Trump announced on Wednesday that the United States will not ‘accept or allow’ transgender people in the United States military, saying American forces ‘must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory’ and could not afford to accommodate them…’ After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military,’ Mr. Trump wrote. ‘Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.’

“The sweeping policy decision reverses the gradual transformation of the military under President Barack Obama, whose administration announced last year that transgender people could serve openly in the military. Mr. Obama’s defense secretary, Ashton B. Carter, also opened all combat roles to women and appointed the first openly gay Army secretary…”

Deutsche Welle wrote on July 25:

“The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a non-profit and non-partisan rights advocacy organization, immediately launched a counter-series of Tweets… The Democratic leader in the Senate Nancy Pelosi (California) described Trump’s ban as ‘vile and hateful’ and a policy that would ‘weaken our military and the nation it defends.’… she also highlighted that on this same date in 1948, then US-President Harry Truman signed an executive order desegregating the US military – a ground-breaking move that helped usher in a era of civil rights legislation. ‘President Trump has shown his conduct is driven…by raw prejudice,’ the senator wrote…

“Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Republican’s most senior woman in the House, also spoke out against Trump’s ban announcement. The Florida representative has a transgender son and has been a long-term Republican supporter of same-sex marriage…”

How individuals claiming to obey God and His Word can support the practice of transgender, homosexuality and same-sex marriages is hard to understand. Based on the Bible, President Trump’s decision is correct.

Why Russia Is Afraid of the Jehovah’s Witnesses

Business Insider wrote on July 23:

“Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the Trinity. For most Christians, God is a union of three persons… Instead, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is distinct from God – not united as one person with him. The ‘Holy Spirit’ then refers to God’s active power. Such doctrines distinguish Jehovah’s Witnesses from mainline Christian denominations, all of which hold that God is ‘triune’ in nature…

“Their biblical interpretations and missionary work certainly have critics. But it is the political neutrality of the group that has attracted the most suspicion. Jehovah’s Witnesses accept the legitimate authority of government in many matters. For example, they pay taxes… But they do not vote in elections, serve in the military or salute the flag. Such acts, they believe, compromise their primary loyalty to God… Jehovah’s Witnesses have no political affiliations, and they renounce violence. However, they make an easy target for governments looking for internal enemies, as they refuse to bow down to government symbols. Many nationalists call them ‘enemies of the state.’ As a result, they have often suffered persecution throughout history in many parts of the world.

“Jehovah’s Witnesses were jailed as draft evaders in the US during both world wars. In a Supreme Court ruling in 1940, school districts were allowed to expel Jehovah’s Witnesses who refused to salute the American flag…  In Nazi Germany, Jehovah’s Witnesses were killed in concentration camps; a purple triangle was used by the Nazis to mark them. In the 1960s and ‘70’s, scores of African Jehovah’s Witnesses were slaughtered… for refusing to support dictator Hastings Banda. Many Witnesses fled to neighboring Mozambique, where they were held in internment camps.

“Now it is Russia. The Russian Supreme Court maintains that the country needs to be protected from disloyal religious fanatics. But given their commitment to God above all things, Jehovah’s Witnesses see themselves as being persecuted by those who value loyalty to country over any other principle… Many Jehovah’s Witnesses [pointed out that] April 20, the day the Russian Supreme Court first ruled against them, is also the birthday of Adolf  Hitler.  Their memories of persecution have not faded with time.”

Many of the “peculiar” teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which are mentioned in this article, are also held by many Sabbath-keeping Churches of God, which denounce violence and refuse to serve in the military or to vote in governmental elections. To be clear, the Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the divinity of Christ, which the Churches of God uphold, but both do not believe in the Holy Spirit being a Person. It should be clearly seen that totalitarian governments such as Russia will direct their persecution against those Church of God groups as well.

Acknowledgement and Disclaimer

These Current Events are compiled and commented on by Norbert Link. We gratefully acknowledge the many contributions of news articles from our readership. The publication of articles in this section is not to be viewed as an endorsement or approval as to contents or accuracy of the selected articles, but they are published for the purpose of pointing at worldwide developments in the light of biblical end-time prophecy and godly instruction. Our own comments are provided in italics.

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