September 27, 2011

Heart Changer: Hitler and Abortion

September 14, 2011

Japan's Slow Rebuilding Effort

Reading the following article on the lack of progress from the March 11th Tsunami Disaster makes me wonder just how bad the Tribulation will be as described in the book of Revelation.  The same slow political response was seen after the disaster that struck New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  Can one imagine when disasters strike strike all continents and upheaval such as a third of the population dying due to cosmological events?  If we are looking to our leaders now and the response is inadequate, imagine a disaster a hundred times worse.  The world will look toward to leadership, and the antichrist will be there always offering promises and hope. 


Six Months After Waves, Rebuilding Eludes Japan Town 

RIKUZENTAKATA, Japan—Efforts have largely stalled to rebuild cities and towns along Japan's northeast coast that were smashed six months ago by a cataclysmic tsunami, as renewal efforts are crippled by political wrangling and the task's sheer complexity.

Six Months Later: Little Progress

Patrick Barta/The Wall Street Journal
Wreckage and abandoned buildings continue to litter the landscape of Rikuzentakata, Japan nearly six months after the March 11 tsunami disaster.

In Rikuzenatakata, where rampaging waves on March 11 carried off nearly one-tenth of the population and obliterated the downtown, the city center remains a desolate plain. Studding the landscape are the gutted concrete shells of City Hall, a hospital and other buildings.
Workers have pushed most of the splintered wood, tangled steel and other debris into piles several stories high. But there has been no real rebuilding in the low-lying areas that were once the heart of the community. It is unclear when such work will begin.

"Without a plan, we can't do anything," said Eiko Kanno, a 56-year-old housewife whose home, near one of Rikuzentakata's main fishing ports, was obliterated by the tsunami. She now lives in a prefabricated temporary dwelling on a hill overlooking the wave-swept flats.

Up and down the tsunami-wrecked coast, residents and municipal officials blame politicians in Tokyo, who they say have failed to make critical decisions that would let them move forward. The biggest immediate issue is a lack of money, they say. Also impeding progress are diverging views about what to rebuild, and how.

For the rest of the story from the WSJ and pictures click here.

Comic Relief

September 10, 2011

Israel faces greater and great isolation in the mid east.  Recent developments have greatly increased the tension they are facing in the region.  As if threatened by a radical Islamic country going nuclear in Iran isn't enough.  
JERUSALEM — With its Cairo embassy ransacked, its ambassador to Turkey expelled and the Palestinians seeking statehood recognition at the United Nations, Israel found itself on Saturday increasingly isolated and grappling with a radically transformed Middle East where it believes its options are limited and poor.

The diplomatic crisis, in which winds unleashed by the Arab Spring are now casting a chill over the region, was crystallized by the scene of Israeli military jets sweeping into Cairo at dawn on Saturday to evacuate diplomats after the Israeli Embassy had been besieged by thousands of protesters. 

From the Times

The rest of the article below:

It was an image that reminded some Israelis of Iran in 1979, when Israel evacuated its embassy in Tehran after the revolution there replaced an ally with an implacable foe.
“Seven months after the downfall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime, Egyptian protesters tore to shreds the Israeli flag, a symbol of peace between Egypt and its eastern neighbor, after 31 years,” Aluf Benn, the editor in chief of the left-leaning Israeli newspaper Haaretz, wrote Saturday. “It seems that the flag will not return to the flagstaff anytime soon.”

Egypt and Israel both issued statements on Saturday reaffirming their commitments to their peace treaty, but in a televised address on Saturday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel warned that Egypt “cannot ignore the heavy damage done to the fabric of peace.”
Facing crises in relations with Egypt and Turkey, its two most important regional allies, Israel turned to the United States. Throughout the night on Friday, desperate Israeli officials called their American counterparts seeking help to pressure the Egyptians to protect the embassy.
President Obama “expressed his great concern” in a telephone call with Mr. Netanyahu, the White House said in a statement, and he called on Egypt “to honor its international obligations to safeguard the security of the Israeli Embassy.”

Washington — for whom Israel, Turkey and Egypt are all critical allies — has watched tensions along the eastern Mediterranean with growing unease and increasing alarm. And though the diplomatic breaches were not entirely unexpected, they prompted a flurry of diplomatic activity in Washington.

The mayhem in Cairo also exacted consequences for Egypt, raising questions about whether its military-led transitional government would be able to maintain law and order and meet its international obligations. The failure to prevent an invasion of a foreign embassy raised security concerns at other embassies as well.

The Egyptian government responded to those questions Saturday night, pledging a new crackdown on disruptive protests and reactivating the emergency law allowing indefinite detentions without trial, one of the most reviled measures enacted under former President Hosni Mubarak.
Since the start of the Arab uprisings, internal critics and foreign friends, including the United States, have urged Israel to take bold conciliatory steps toward the Palestinians, and after confrontations in which Israeli forces killed Egyptian and Turkish citizens, to reach accommodations with both countries.

Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador a week ago over Israel’s refusal to apologize for a deadly raid last year on a Turkish ship bound for Gaza in which nine Turks were killed. The storming of the embassy in Cairo on Saturday was precipitated by the killing of three Egyptian soldiers along the border by Israeli military forces pursuing terrorism suspects.
Israel has expressed regret for the deaths in both cases, but has not apologized for actions that it considers defensive.

The overriding assessment of the government of Mr. Netanyahu is that such steps will only make matters worse because what is shaking the region is not about Israel, even if Israel is increasingly its target, and Israel can do almost nothing to affect it.
“Egypt is not going toward democracy but toward Islamicization,” said Eli Shaked, a former Israeli ambassador to Cairo who reflected the government’s view. “It is the same in Turkey and in Gaza. It is just like what happened in Iran in 1979.”
A senior official said Israel had few options other than to pursue what he called a “porcupine policy” to defend itself against aggression. Another official, asked about Turkey, said, “There is little that we can do.”

Critics of the government take a very different view.
Mr. Benn, the Haaretz editor, acknowledged that Mr. Netanyahu could not be faulted for the events in Egypt, the rise of an Islamic-inspired party in Turkey or Iran’s nuclear program. But echoing criticism by the Obama administration, he said that Mr. Netanyahu “has not done a thing to mitigate the fallout from the aforementioned developments.”

September 7, 2011

Turkey and Israel Tensions Mount

Turkey was a diplomatic friend not a decade ago, but recent political and social changes have moved the new Islamic government of Turkey away from friendly relations with Israel.  The flotilla incident didn't help relations at all, which if you recall resulted in the deaths of 8 Turkish individuals about a year ago.  Since then, the standoff between the two nations has escalated and now economic trade is the latest blow to the relationship as trade relations have now officially been frozen.

Could this be a fulfillment of prophecy?  In Ezekiel 38 & 39, Russia and Turkey lead a coalition against Israel, attacking them in the battle of 'Gog and Magog.'  Turkey and Russia are now on friendly terms as well.

From the WSJ:
ISTANBUL—Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said Tuesday that his country was suspending defense trade with Israel and that Turkish naval vessels would be seen in the eastern Mediterranean more often, as Ankara ratcheted up pressure in a rising dispute with its former ally.
Speaking to reporters in Ankara after giving a speech at the Ankara Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Erdogan repeated plans announced Friday to downgrade diplomatic relations with the Jewish state and suspend military agreements, specifying that the suspension would include trade in defense goods.  "Trade relations, military relations, defense industry—these we will suspend. These will be completely frozen and that process will be followed also by very different sanctions," Mr. Erdogan said.
Those measures still to come would be a "Plan C" to the "Plan B" already announced, he added.  So far, Turkey has announced no general trade sanctions against Israel. A spokesman for Mr. Erdogan said the prime minister had been referring in his remarks only to trade in defense goods, and not to trade in general. On Monday, Turkey's economy minister had said there would be no broader trade sanctions "for now."
The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to comment Tuesday. Other Israeli officials contacted said privately that they don't wish to engage Mr. Erdogan in a public debate so as not to be seen as further aggravating political ties.
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Turkey has said it is responding to Israel's continued refusal to apologize for the killing by Israeli commandos of eight Turkish citizens and one Turkish-American on board the Mavi Marmara aid ship, as it sought to break Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip in May last year.
Zalman Shoval, a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. who works with the Israeli government, called Mr. Erdogan's comments part of Turkey's "childish'' reaction to the United Nations report released last week that stated the blockade was justified, but that Israel's use of force was "excessive and unreasonable."
Turkey and Israel did nearly $3.5 billion of trade in 2010, according to official Turkish figures, a record reached during a sharp downturn in the political relationship. Moreover, trade rose more than 25% in the first half of this year, compared with the same period last year, Israeli and Turkish figures show.
Separate data for defense-related trade weren't available. Past major deals, however, included a $600 million-$700 million agreement under which Israel modernized Turkey's aging Phantom F-4 jets, and a $668 million pact to upgrade its M-60 tanks. Last year, Turkey took delivery of 10 Israeli-built Heron unmanned aerial vehicles, a $183 million deal.
Officials and analysts say those contracts are complete and no new large agreements have been signed for several years as political relations soured. Now, the main potential loss is the purchase of spare parts from Israel, should Turkey strictly enforce its own embargo. Turkey's defense exports to Israel tend to be lower-end equipment, such as uniforms, analysts said.
A report released last month by Tepav, an Ankara-based think tank, said past Turkish threats to cut off trade with Israel haven't hit trade as a whole, which has seen a healthy expansion. Most of the business is in the private sector and the two economies complement each other, the report said. Turkey is strong in construction, chemicals and textiles, while Israel offers software and other technology products from industries that are weak elsewhere in the region.
"Business has become an area immune from political upheavals," the report said. "The threats of canceling large infrastructure projects and other joint ventures have not gone beyond words. As a matter of fact, most of the projects involve private companies. Furthermore, boycotting of member nations is against OECD rules."
Both Turkey and Israel are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Responding to a question about reports that Turkey would begin patrolling waters off Israel and whether that risked conflict, Prime Minister Erdogan said Turkey had a right to do so. "The eastern Mediterranean is not a foreign place to us. … Of course, our vessels will be seen from now on very often in these waters," he said.
He also confirmed he would be traveling to Egypt soon, and said he "might" visit Gaza. A spokesman for Mr. Erdogan said the visit to Cairo would take place between Sept. 12 and 14.