Tag Archives: Greece

Flashing Signs of Danger!

warning signs generalAnyone traveling on the roads needs to be constantly alert to signs of danger. For the last few months the morning commute to work in Victoria, B.C. has been an increasing hassle due to the on-going construction on one of the main traffic arteries leading into the downtown core. A bicyclist who usually took this route to commute to work downtown observed on one particular morning a few weeks ago that all traffic was being squeezed into just one lane by a small group of flaggers who had placed numerous warning signs, barriers, and orange plastic cones to block off the inside fast lane. But, while most people feel obliged to take notice of the warning signs and make the appropriate inconvenient travel correction, a commuting cyclist, a 30s-something woman, decided to ignore the warning signs.

She deftly zig-zagged through the cones and barriers on her bike and proceeded down the warning allegatorvacated inside traffic lane that had been closed off. Not seeing any overt evidence of construction machines at work, the biker picked up speed, zooming past the bumper-to-bumper line of cars slowly inching along. The safety flaggers’ franticly waved their arms and shouted to the cyclist to get back in line. “Stupid control freaks,” she may have smugly thought. As the cyclist pedalled along, perhaps she was planning to crow a bit in the office today about how her commuting style was not only “greener-than-thou” but also faster—until, suddenly, like a speeding pool ball dropping into a pocket, both woman and bike disappeared in the blink of an eye into the yawning maw of a steep, deep, rectangular hole whose opening, however, was only about the size of a house’s front door. In this case ignoring all the warning signs meant instantaneous death.

warning challengesRight now there are serious warning signs flashing on the world scene.

  1. America’s President and his Secretary of State have agreed to a “framework” protocol that will allow Shi’ite Muslim Iran, the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, to retain its nuclear infrastructure allowing it to develop nuclear weapons—at a more convenient point down the road. Right now, Iran wants economic sanctions relief so it can more effectively support its allies in Syria and Iraq in their civil wars. In an unmistakable sign of his displeasure with the American President over this decision, Saudi Arabia’s new leader, King Salman, refused to personally attend the recent six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) hosted by Obama at Camp David. This was a very public snub.
  2. In another big snub to America’s superpower status, Washington’s closest European allies, despite American pressure and unprecedented public complaints by Washington, have rushed to sign up as founding members in China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Development Bank (AIIB). The implications of China’s rising power and America’s declining power are clear. According to former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summer,

     “I can think of no event since Bretton Woods comparable to the combination of China’s effort to establish a major new institution and the failure of the US to persuade dozens of its traditional allies, starting with Britain, to stay out of it.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11519001/How-China-grew-desperate-to-conceal-its-power-from-the-world.html

  3. The IMF’s just released World Economic Outlook describes a prostrate planet drowning in debt. There has been a persistent reduction in the global growth rate since the Great Recession of 2008-09 with no relief in sight. This is unprecedented and very much a wild card in the game of high stakes poker, that is the global financial system.

    “Total public and private debt levels have reached a record 275 per cent of GDP in rich countries, and 175 per cent in emerging markets. Both are up 30 points since the Lehman crisis.” http://business.financialpost.com/news/economy/welcome-to-the-new-mediocre-of-global-growth#__federated=1

  4. The developed world’s poster child for a country drowning in debt is Greece. For months warning bad thinkingnow, Greece has continued to stagger along like a zombie, even after some fresh flesh of debt relief from the IMF or the European Central Bank. Even Mario Draghi, the ECB’s president, is warning of unexpected, unanticipated consequences if Greece finally defaults on its debt.
  5. Meanwhile, barbaric Islamic State terrorists continue to behead Christians. Yet the Western world still doesn’t take all that seriously the IS spokesmen’s repeated declarations of a worldwide religious war against Christians, Jews, non-conforming Muslim sects and anyone else who isn’t their clone. http://www.jpost.com/Christian-News/After-second-incident-of-ISIS-murdering-Christians-in-Libya-foreign-minister-appalled-398665.

    According to General Alexander, the former chief of the National Security Agency (NSA–Edward Snowden’s nemesis), the West is losing the worldwide fight against jihadist terrorism. He said that the U.S. and its allies had failed to check the advance of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or its expanding network of franchises across the Middle East. The West is increasingly at risk of a strategic defeat in the region. “It is getting worse. Twenty-five countries are now unstable, just look at Yemen,” he said. http://business.financialpost.com/news/energy/hackers-could-cripple-the-west-with-a-hi-tech-blitz-on-energy-sector-infrastructure-u-s-general-says?__lsa=2d0c-cb5e#__federated=1 accessed 4/27/15

  1. As a direct consequence of the current widespread instability, there is a virtual flood of
    desperate people from Syria and throughout North and Sub-Sahara Africa, all desperately trying to get into Europe in search of a better life. In 2014 a total of 170,000 entered Italy alone. Recently, the number of unwanted immigrants has swelled to 11,000 in just one week.

    “We’re swamped,” Sandro Gozi, the Italian minister for European affairs, told French daily Le Monde. “There’s not even enough space in Sicily’s cemeteries to bury the dead.” Where are the Italians going to put them? Who wants them? There’s just not enough work. http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/20/africa/italy-migrant-boat-capsizes/index.html

  2. On the other end of Africa, in South Africa, one of the more prosperous African nations, there is an ongoing wave of what is called “xenophobic attacks” against the 10 percent of the population who are migrants from neighbouring African states, like Zimbabwe, and  Asia who seeking a better life for themselves. But poor South Africans see them as unwanted competition for the scarce jobs available in a country where the unemployment rate is 24 percent. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-32377743
  3. And finally, the Pew Research Center confirmed that over the past seven years, from 2007 to 2014, the number of Americans who identify themselves as Christian has dramatically fallen nearly 8 percentage points from 78% to just 71% of the population. Fifty-six million Americans don’t observe or practice any religion. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-32710444 accessed May 14, 2015.

What do all these signs mean? As a society, collectively we are like the eco-warrior bicyclist in Victoria, ignoring all the warning signs as we make good time pedalling rapidly toward our doom. There’s no doubt that these are serious, even dangerous times. So what should you and I do? Jesus said this to his disciples:

“Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming warning run like hellhorrors and stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:36 (New Living Translation)

Pray to God? That’s the last thing this secular society wants to do. The Canadian Supreme Court recently decided to prohibit municipal officials from praying to the Bible’s God for help before starting on the public’s business.

Many people in the Western world have indeed turned their backs on the wisdom and knowledge that is offered to humanity by God. They have reinterpreted freedom of religion in the 21st Century to now mean freedom FROM religion. After all, they think that in a prosperous, secure society with good health care and abundant food and lots of entertainment, who needs to really seek the Bible’s God?

But, the warning signs are flashing out that there’s danger up ahead. Our future personal safety and security depends upon paying attention to those spiritual flaggers trying to get our attention and get back in line according to the Creator’s established House Rules for Humanity that are spelled out in the Scriptures. As a civilization we are ignoring the warnings to our peril.

When Does the Other Shoe Fall?

Last week the most astonishing news came out of Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put together, unexpectedly, a much larger governing Likud coalition for the State of Israel by bringing into the government the middle-of-the –road, politically speaking, Kadima party. This new unity government controls a little more than 78 percent of the votes in the Israeli parliament. Very few governments in the Western, democratic world can match that sort of consensus. In fact, the weighty impact of this majority is described by one Israeli columnist as a “hundred tons of solid concrete” (Charles Krauthammer, Netanyahu’s unity government prepares the ground for May 1967, National Post, May 11, 2012). What does Netanyahu’s move mean?

Oh yawn, you think. Another boring news story about byzantine coalition-building? I mean, over the weekend all we heard about was how the Greeks have been unable to cobble together enough similarly minded parties to run a government that would either go along with the German-imposed austerity plan or reject it. This political deadlock will most certainly force that nation back to the polls in another 3 or 4 weeks to see if the Greek nation can achieve a majority consensus one way or the other.

But what is happening in Israel, today, is diametrically the opposite of what is happening in Greece. Yet these opposites are part of a continuum of change that is going to dramatically rock the world in the near future. How? Why?

In Israel it is clear that Netanyahu in making his coalition deal with Kadima turned down an opportunity to call elections for this fall at a time when the polls clearly indicated Likud would win another mandate for four more years of government and do it in a manner that would increase the number of the Likud seats in the Knesset.  So why make a big tent coalition that at the most has only 17 more months in power before parliamentary elections must be held? The math doesn’t make sense on the face of it. Why pick 17 months of governing authority instead of 48?

Well, Netanyahu isn’t doing the coalition deal to force concessions from his right-wing religious coalition partners about requiring the ultra-orthodox Israeli Jews to actually do their compulsory army service like all the rest of the Israelis. Though it will help.

Nor is he doing it to be able to make painful concessions to the Palestinians in peace talks. The Palestinians really can’t bring themselves to make a deal that Netanyahu could live with. After all, deep down, the Palestinians are holding out for the whole Canaan pie not just a slice of the pie in the West Bank and Gaza. Peace talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis are a zero-sum game. That’s why no solution has been able to be found ever since the United Nations split up the old British mandate of Palestine in 1947. Netanyahu understands this. So that is not a reason for his new super-majority coalition.

The reason for this “hundred tons of solid concrete” is to make a crucial, nationally existential decision within a rather narrow window of five months beginning now and running to shortly before the U.S. elections on November 11, 2012: Does Israel stop Iran in its headlong drive for nuclear weapons or not?

Israel must act during this time while Egypt and Syria are still divided and in confusion. Israel must act while Barak Obama still needs the votes of American Jews and those of many other Americans who are both friends of Israel and democrats. Once Obama is re-elected this fall, which is likely, Netanyahu doubts his tiny nation could expect much help from what was once its most important ally.

Israelis have had to learn the hard way that it is foolish to ignore the threats of annihilation uttered long and loud by their enemies.  The effects of such a conflict as a catalyst will be profound, and unsettling, leading to many unanticipated consequences in both the European Union, the United States, and  other nation states.

It is amazing to think that here we are in the 21st Century and still a little nation called Israel and the Jews continue to play a central role in the theatre that is Western civilization. Consider this prophecy that is as current today as when it was originally penned about 520 B.C by the Prophet Zechariah:

I have decided that Jerusalem will become a bowl of wine that makes the neighboring nations drunk. And when Jerusalem is attacked, Judah will also be attacked. But I will turn Jerusalem into a heavy stone that crushes anyone who tries to lift it.

When all nations on earth surround Jerusalem, I will make every horse panic and every rider confused. But at the same time, I will watch over Judah. Then every clan in Judah will realize that I, the Lord All-Powerful, am their God, and that I am the source of their strength.

 At that time I will let the clans of Judah be like a ball of fire in a wood pile or a fiery torch in a hay stack. Then Judah will send the surrounding nations up in smoke. And once again the city of Jerusalem will be filled with people (Zechariah 12:2-6 Contemporary English Version).