Current Events

Death Toll in Asian Catastrophe

Some American news programs, such as CNN, have consistently understated the official death toll of the terrible tragedy in Asia. When the German news already announced during the last week of December that the death toll was, at that time, over 100,000, CNN still stated that it was under 80,000. On December 30, 2004, CNN gave the official figure as 118,000, while the official toll was, at that time, at least 125,000, according to the Drudge Report. Quoting from “My Way,” it was stated: “Asia’s tsunami death toll soared above 125,000 on Thursday as millions scrambled for food and clean water and rumors of new giant waves sent many fleeing inland in panic. Aid agencies warned many more, from Indonesia to Sri Lanka, could die in epidemics.”

By now, the official death toll stands at 155,000. However, the real figures are, without any doubt, astronomically higher. reported that the death toll “in Acheh, the region worst hit by last Sunday’s tsunami, may exceed 400,000 (!) as many affected areas could still not be reached for search and rescue operations, Indonesia’s Ambassador to Malaysia… said Thursday.”

The Times of India reported that “there are indications that the number of dead projected by authorities is way below the reality.”

The Los Angeles Times reported on December 31, 2004:

“As the toll from this week’s earthquake and tsunami in Asia continues to climb, the certainty about how many people have died is another casualty of the disaster. With entire villages swallowed by the sea and beach dwellers swept away along thousands of miles of coastline, hundreds or thousands of people have disappeared with no one left behind to report them missing. To prevent disease, bodies are being bulldozed into mass graves before they have been identified. Many of the corpses still unburied four days after the tsunami no longer are recognizable… In Sri Lanka, Muslim officials tried to bury the dead within a day in accordance with Islamic tradition, before the official count started. In Indonesia’s Aceh province, corpses were scooped into mass graves before pictures could be taken. Officials simply guessed how many could fit into each pit. In many places, there had never been a census, so without knowing how many people had lived there, authorities can only estimate how many may have died.”

AFP also just announced that “India’s last active volcano… has erupted in the aftermath of the huge earthquake,” and that people “have been evacuated from Barren Island since the eruption begun.”

Religious Beliefs and Superstitions

Regarding the religiously-motivated reactions to the terrible disaster in Asia, the differences could not be greater. As was reported by on December 31, 2004, “people of different faiths search for meaning.” The article was titled, “Seeking the hand of God in the waters.” It was pointed out:

“In a world of Muslims and Christians and Jews and Hindus and Buddhists, with the disaster in South Asia so far claiming more than 110,000 lives [by now in excess of 155,000] — many of them children — folks all over the world, in all places of worship, are pondering similar questions… Shlomo Amar, Israel’s Sephardi chief rabbi, has said, ‘This is an expression of God’s great ire with the world. The world is being punished for wrongdoing — be it people’s needless hatred of each other, lack of charity, moral turpitude.’ Some organizations in India say the tsunami is ‘divine retribution’ for the arrest of Jayendra Saraswati, a Hindu religious leader….

“On his Web site, Bill Koenig writes: ‘The Biblical proportions of this disaster become clearly apparent upon reports of miraculous Christian survival. Christian persecution in these countries is some of the worst in the world.’ Eight of the 12 countries hit — Malaysia, Burma, Bangladesh, Somalia, Maldives, Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia, he says — ‘are among the top 50 nations who persecute Christians.’… Sutadhara Tapovanaye, a Buddhist monk for 38 of his 48 years, tries to explain it differently. This, he says, is a part of life, the dynamics of nature, an always-changing world… Martin E. Marty, professor emeritus of religious history at the University of Chicago, has… been an ordained Lutheran minister since 1952. ‘It’s only natural to repose yourself in the will of God,’ he says. ‘If you’re a believer, then you must believe that God, somehow, is a presence in all of this. But God didn’t tell anybody that you go through life without disasters.'”

None of these comments give comprehensive answers. Nor does the opinion of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who admitted, according to an article of the of January 2, 2005: “This makes me doubt the existence of God.” The article stated: “The Asian tsunami disaster should make all Christians question the existence of God, Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, writes in The Telegraph today…. Dr Williams, who, as head of the Church of England, represents 70 million Anglicans around the world…, adds: ‘The question, “How can you believe in a God who permits suffering on this scale?” is therefore very much around at the moment, and it would be surprising if it weren’t – indeed it would be wrong if it weren’t.'”

For a full explanation as to the real REASONS for this terrible disaster, please read our previous Update (#174), and listen to Dave Harris’ sermon, “Not of This World,” as well as to our StandingWatch program on the topic.

Sadly, this world is in utter spiritual darkness! True UNDERSTANDING is needed as never before.

Ratzinger the Next Pope?

Time Magazine published a remarkable article on January 2, 2005, titled, “Rome’s Next Choice?” The article stated:

“Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the chief architect of Pope John Paul II’s traditionalist moral policy, has long been a bugaboo for liberal Catholics. But they had stopped worrying that the German might one day ascend to St. Peter’s throne. His hard-line views and blunt approach had earned him the epithet of panzerkardinal and too many enemies. Well, their worrying may now resume. Sources in Rome tell TIME that Ratzinger has re-emerged as the top papal candidate within the Vatican hierarchy…

“There are no immediate signs that John Paul’s health has taken a turn for the worse, and he has publicly ruled out becoming the first Pope in eight centuries to retire voluntarily. But as his long papacy grows ever longer, some feel the next conclave will seek a shorter-term ‘transitional’ figure. Ratzinger, 77, may fill that bill. His doctrinaire ways have been tempered of late by a deft and more pragmatic approach to issues such as rising Western secularism and Islamic fundamentalism. During the recent U.S. controversy about giving Communion to pro-choice candidates, Ratzinger authored a careful letter to American bishops reasserting the Vatican’s antiabortion stance without dragging the Holy See into election-year theatrics. ‘There was a stigma,’ said the Vatican official of Ratzinger. ‘He rises above that now.'”

The New York Post added on January 3, 2005, that Ratzinger, a “hard-nosed German cardinal known as the ‘Panzerkardinal’ has re-emerged as a front-runner to become the next pope.”

Cardinal Ratzinger has already been, according to some commentators, the most influential personality in the Vatican. He is certainly a person to take note of. IF he should become the next pope, he might or might not turn out to be just a “transitional” figure.

The Catholic Church and the Jews

As the Associated Press reported on January 2, 2005, “A document that surfaced recently has revived debate about the Vatican’s attempt to keep control over some Jewish children protected from Nazis by Christian families. The 1946 circular apparently instructed French church authorities that Jewish children baptized as Roman Catholics, for safety or other reasons, should remain in the church — even if that meant not returning them to their own families once the Nazi occupation ended.”

The article continued: “The document, published last week in Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper, caused a stir for its tough, clear wording… One Jewish leader called the letter ‘horrible.’ ‘It’s a dry, bureaucratic document, which has no feeling for the Holocaust, I’m sorry to say,’ Amos Luzzatto, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, told the Apcom news agency. The one-page document, dated Oct. 23, 1946, advised French church authorities on how to handle information requests from Jewish officials, asking them not to put anything in writing.’ Children who have been baptized must not be entrusted to institutions that cannot ensure their Christian education,’ says a copy of the French-language letter obtained by The Associated Press. One of the letter’s most jarring lines says that children whose families survived the Holocaust should be returned, ‘as long as they had not been baptized.’

“That stance on baptism predated the Holocaust by nearly a century. In 1858, papal guards took a 6-year-old Jewish boy named Edgardo Mortara from his family in Bologna, Italy, after hearing that he had been secretly baptized by a Catholic housemaid.”

Priest Apologized for Telling the Truth

As the Los Angeles Daily Journal reported on November 22, 2004, a Catholic priest from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles apologized in writing to parents “for telling kindergarten to third-grade students at a private Catholic school [during a morning Mass] there is no Santa Claus.” The Archdiocese hastened to add that “the priest didn’t have permission to tell children there is no Santa Claus.” According to the article, a parent felt that the priest took the “innocence” out of his daughter’s childhood, who does not believe anymore in Santa Claus.

What a mixed-up and confused world we are living in, where religious teachers are not allowed to tell children the truth!

U.S. Marine Corps Jails C.O.

A thought-provoking article was published on January 1, 2005, by, reporting about the jail sentence of a Conscientious Objector in the U.S. army because of his refusal to carry a weapon. The article stated:

“U.S. Marine Cpl. Joel D. Klimkewicz says he’s willing to clear land mines and risk his life for his country. He’s just not willing to pick up a gun. Because of his new-found religious faith, the Birch Run native is spending his holidays behind bars as a conscientious objector, convicted by military superiors who see him as a disobedient soldier. ‘I couldn’t see Jesus Christ taking human life,’ said Klimkewicz in a phone interview from the Camp LeJeune military prison. ‘In my faith, what I believe is that we’re all citizens of heaven. Citizens of heaven are of all nations, and I refuse to take a life of a fellow citizen of heaven.’

“This month, a Marine Corps court sentenced 24-year-old Klimkewicz — a combat engineer who is a member of a Seventh-day Adventist Church — to seven months behind bars for refusing an order to pick up a weapon for training. He received a reduction in rank to private and a bad conduct discharge. Since joining the church a year ago and becoming a conscientious objector to combat, he has taken some criticism from friends who have questioned his patriotism.”

The Marine Corps questioned Klimkewicz’s sincerity and charged that he refused to pick up a weapon, as he does not want to go to Iraq. The Marine Corps claims that he was sentenced for refusing to obey the order of a superior officer, not because he requested to be recognized as a conscientious objector.

In a related article by Der Spiegel Online, dated November 17, 2004, it is stated that currently 2,000 U.S. reserves have applied for C.O. status, or refuse to serve for other reasons, including age. The magazine claimed that on November 7, 2004, out of 2,500 reserves, 733 reserves did not show up in their barracks, and that out of 4,000 former soldiers, 1,800 applied for exemptions.

Otto von Habsburg

Der Stern Online published, on December 13, 2004, an interesting interview with Dr. Otto von Habsburg (92), the oldest son of the last emperor of Austria and Hungary. For 20 years, the Austrian Otto von Habsburg had been a member of the European Parliament, representing the Bavarian party, CSU. When asked about the beatification of his father in 2004, and a future role of the monarchy, he stated:

“A reference to God in the European Constitution is very important. We need a higher authority for our principles. And who — apart from God — could that be?… Theodore Roosevelt once asked Emperor Franz-Josef what the role of a monarchy would be in the modern world. His answer: ‘To protect the people from their government.’… The monarchy can establish continuity.”

Most Foreign Languages

AFP reported on December 23, 2004, that “Britons are the worst in Europe when it comes to speaking a foreign language… Britain comes bottom of the pile of 28 countries… behind Hungary… and neighbouring Ireland… Luxembourg performed best… followed by the Netherlands… and Denmark… The report also showed while English is the most common second language across Europe, German, Russian and French are more widely spoken in some countries… In Romania, as many people speak French as English. French is also strong in Italy and Portugal. German is widely spoken in central Europe and the Baltic countries, with more Czechs and Slovaks speaking German than English.”

Putin’s Imperial Dreams

A commentary by Vytautas Landsbergis, Lithuania’s first president after independence from the Soviet Union, was published on December 19, 2004, by The San Diego Union Tribune. In the article it is pointed out:

“To divide a people in order to conquer them is an immoral strategy that has endured throughout recorded history. From Alexander the Great to Stalin the Cruel, variants of that strategy have been used to keep nations in thrall to the will of an emperor. We are now seeing the strategy at work again as President Vladimir Putin stealthily seeks to restore Kremlin supremacy over the lands treated as ‘lost’ when the Soviet Union imploded in 1991…

“Europe and the world are… being tested. Russia is passing from being the Russian Federation of Boris Yeltsin to a unitary authoritarian regime under Vladimir Putin and his former KGB colleagues. Europe, America, and the wider world must see Putin’s so-called ‘managed democracy’ in its true light, and must stand united against his neo-imperialist dreams. The first step is to make Russia honor its binding commitment to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, to remove its troops from Moldova and Georgia.”

Worst December in New Zealand

Surprise about this winter in New Zealand was raised by of January 4, 2005, when stating: “Yes, it was a shocker… Snow, frost, hail and a tornado marked the first month of summer, with the coldest temperatures recorded in December since 1945. National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research figures for last month show it was the fifth coldest since records were established in 1853….The record-breaking low temperatures not only kept the summer clothes in the cupboard but slowed the growth and ripening of berries, stone fruit and crops…. Auckland recorded only 174 hours of sunshine – 83 per cent of the normal figure and the third lowest since records began in 1963.”

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