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A Uniting of World Religions

Pope to promote peace in talks with world religious leaders

Posted by AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

VATICAN CITY,– Pope Benedict XVI has invited 300 religious leaders to a meeting in Assisi in Italy to repudiate “violence in the name of God” amid growing tensions fuelled by fundamentalists across the world.

The day of interreligious council, which will be held on Thursday in St. Francis of Assisi’s birthplace, is intended to be a “journey of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world,” the Vatican said.

Over 50 Islamic representatives are expected to attend the talks from several countries, including Saudi Arabia and Iran.

They will be joined by Rabbis, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, a Zoroastrian, a Bahai and representatives of Taoism and Confucianism as well as of other traditional religions from Africa and America.

For the first time, four atheists will also attend the meeting, which is traditionally organised so as not to coincide with the Muslim day of prayer on Friday, the Jewish one on Saturday or the Christian one on Sunday.

However, the Imam from the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, a heavyweight authority on Sunnism, will not be coming, having fallen out with the pope after he urged Egypt to protect Christians from attacks by radical Islamists.

The meeting is being criticised by Catholic fundamentalists who are strongly against the idea of dialogue with other religions. French fundamentalist Regis de Cacqueray said 1,000 masses would be needed to be said in reparation.

The event marks the 25th anniversary of the first interreligious meeting in Assisi, organised by John Paul II in 1986 as a “day of prayer” inspired by the United Nation’s proclamation of an International Year of the Peace.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, chose not to attend because of concerns shared by traditionalists that it risked mixing religions into a vague common belief.

While guests attending this year’s encounter — the third in Assisi — will in principle follow a “common course”, those who wish to pray will do so separately, according to their beliefs, the Holy See has said.

Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, who helped organise the first Assisi day in 1986, said John Paul II had been careful to avoid mixing beliefs, and Benedict XVI was no different.

“Interreligious dialogue has spread” over the last 25 years, and the pope sees it “as a common, irrevocable heritage of Christian sensibility,” he said.

The pope’s main aim is for participants to agree to “a common commitment to reject the instrumentalism of religion and the use of violence in the name of God,” said a Vatican insider.

Number two of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Pier Luigi Celata, said the problems that particularly concern religions are immigration, cultural diversity, religious liberty and the defence of the family.

“These issues oblige faithful people from different religions to look for common solutions,”
he said.

At the end of the day of talks, the main participants will renew their commitment to peace in the square in front of St. Francis’ Basilica.

A burning torch will be symbolically presented to the delegations in the hope that they will take the message back with them to their communities.

Will Financial Problems In Portugal Cause The European Debt Crisis To Spiral Out Of Control?

Will Financial Problems In Portugal Cause The European Debt Crisis To Spiral Out Of Control?

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Most Americans have no idea just how bad the financial problems over in Europe are right now. The truth is that the entire European financial system is teetering on the brink of disaster. Ireland and Greece have already received bailouts and Portugal, Spain, Italy, France and Belgium are all drowning in an ocean of unsustainable debt. Sovereign credit ratings all over Europe have being slashed in recent months. For example, a while back Moody’s Investors Service cut Ireland’s bond rating by five levels. Up until now Europe has weathered all of this financial instability fairly well, but now huge new financial problems in Portugal threaten to send the European debt crisis spinning out of control.

The Prime Minister of Portugal, Jose Socrates, resigned on Wednesdayafter the major opposition parties banded together to vote down the austerity measures that he was requesting. The package of budget cuts and tax increases was intended to get Portugal’s horrible debt crisis under control. Prior to the vote, the prime minister warned that he would no longer be able to run the country if the austerity package was not passed.

Now there are all kinds of questions about what is going to happen to Portugal. At this point most financial authorities in Europe seem to be assuming that Portugal is going to need a bailout.

Today, Standard & Poor’s reduced the credit rating of long-term Portuguese government debt from from \"A-\" to \"BBB\". Standard & Poor’s is also warning that the credit rating may be cut further if negotiations for a bailout do not go well.

Without a bailout, it seems almost certain that Portugal will default.

Interest rates on Portuguese government debt have risen to unsustainable levels. The yield on 10-year Portuguese bonds hit 7.78%on Friday. That was the highest it has been since Portugal joined the euro.

Authorities in Portugal are publicly saying that they simply cannot afford to pay that kind of interest. Unfortunately for them, it appears that Portugal is going to be forced to issue more bonds by June at the very latest.

So how much would a bailout of Portugal cost?

Well, according to one estimate, it would probably be in the neighborhood of $70 billion euros ($99 Billion Dollars).

That isn’t going to sink Europe.

However, the concern is that the crisis in Portugal could have a domino effect.

There is increasing worry in Europe that Portugal’s neighbor, Spain, could also need a bailout. But a bailout of Spain would potentially be so large that it would cause a financial nightmare for Europe.

The following is how a recent article in the Wall Street Journal sized up the problem….

Portugal’s admission that it will probably need a financial bailout raises a question that will shape the outcome of the euro zone’s debt crisis: Is Spain next? The cost of saving Spain, a €1.1 trillion ($1.56 trillion) economy, would dwarf previous bailouts and could test the financial strength of Europe as a whole.

The truth is that the rest of Europe simply does not have the kind of financial muscle necessary to continue putting together huge bailouts indefinitely. If Spain does go down, it is going to put a massive amount of strain on the rest of the continent.

There are other financial problems simmering in Europe right now as well.

According to a recent Business Insiderarticle, the financial problems in Ireland are also creating a lot of concern at the moment….

Ireland’s banks are likely to need another $39 billion in support, which would use up 80% of its current bailout funds.

Ireland is a financial basket case right about now. Confidence in Irish debt is rapidly evaporating. In fact, the yield on 10-year Irish bonds recently hit 10.12%.

Ouch!

But that is nothing compared to what Greece is being forced to pay.

The yield on 10-year Greek bonds recently reached an astounding 12.58%.

There are persistent rumors that Greece is going to need yet another bailout. The truth is that Germany and the other European nations that are coming up with the cash for these bailouts are just pouring their money into financial black holes.

Nations like Greece and Ireland are just money pits at this point.

As I have written about previously, the financial collapse of Europe has basically become inevitable. The EU can keep coming up with bailout plan after bailout plan, but they are only putting off the crash for a while.

Eventually a point will come when all of the balls simply cannot be kept up in the air anymore.

So what is going to happen once that point is reached?

Well, many believe that we could actually see the end of the euro and potentially even the break up of the European Union.

Of course top politicians in Europe will fight tooth and nail to keep that from happening, but the truth is that at some point we are going to see some incredibly challenging financial problems in Europe. How the EU responds to the crisis is going to be extremely interesting to watch.

So many people talk about the death of the U.S. dollar, but the truth is that we could very easily see a financial collapse and a major currency crisis in Europe prior to the collapse of the dollar. Europe is in really, really bad shape right now.

Of course it doesn’t help that the entire world is so incredibly unstable right now. The disaster in Japan, the war in Libya, the revolutions across the Middle East and the surging price of oil all threaten to throw the global economy into turmoil.

As I discussed in a previous article, people need to start preparing for economic disaster. The entire global financial system is coming apart. The U.S. economy is crumbling, Europe is dealing with an unprecedented debt crisis and Japan has just been struck with the worst economic disaster that it has seen since World War 2.

Most Americans don’t pay much attention to what is going on in Portugal (or in the rest of Europe for that matter), but they should. The world is more interconnected than ever, and if Europe experiences a financial meltdown it will have dramatic consequences for the United States as well.

The financial crash of 2008 swept the entire globe and virtually every nation on earth was deeply affected. The next wave of the financial crisis is also going to be felt globally.

We live in one of the most interesting times in the history of the world.

Are you prepared for what is about to happen?

2011 Trend Projections – Study to show yourself approved

Yearly Outlook Ahead: 2011 Trend Projections

What May Happen in 2011

Based Upon Projected Trends

Editor’s Note: Our annual look ahead into the New Year was delayed as ad deluge of new intelligence reports crossed our news desk requiring me to hold off on publishing our 2011 analysis until we could dig our way out from under the blizzard of developments until a few days ago. We’ve now had a chance to digest additional information and formulate what we suspect will be key trend developments in 2011. We do not predict actual events, but we consider the possibilities for certain events to transpire. We have refrained from making predictions that major Bible Prophecy events will take place in 2011, but as with any year, the possibilities for the fulfillment of major Biblical Prophecies remains viable. Frankly, not much would surprise us for 2011. In a word, we foresee 2011 as being very “chaotic” to say the least. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what may or may not happen in 2011.

Major Prophetic Fulfillments For 2011?

Reviewing Trends & Developments of 2010

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The New World Order crowd began pushing their Global Agenda with full force in 2010. The Illuminists were able to significantly speed up their efforts to achieve a global government by their self-imposed, occult-oriented deadline of December, 2012. Their efforts were particularly visible with the implementation of new socialist laws and programs implemented in America during 2010, triggering a backlash among American voters. By comparison, Canada was much further advanced towards socialism and remarkably less affected by economic factors than America or Europe. In Mexico however, chaos reigns as the Latin American drug lords battle with the Mexican government for control of the nation.


At the same time, Europeans also began to display signs of rejecting the Globalist Agenda as economic conditions deteriorated across Europe. Violent protests emerged in economically hard-hit nations such as Greece, Italy, Portugal, France, Britain, and Ireland. German also saw emerging discontent from it’s citizens, fueled by resentment at the German government’s role as protector of EU’s Euro currency. The economic conditions across Europe are due in large measure to the socialistic systems developed over Europe since the end of World War 2. The installation of socialism in Europe was intended to become the model backbone for selling a New World Order to the rest of humanity. In 2010, average Europeans were feeling the shortcomings of economic socialism and many took to the streets to protest against the system.

Is resistance futile?

In Asia during 2010, capitalism was churning along fueled by massive government subsidies and a generous trading arrangement made possible by the Globalists keen on using slave labor. China and India were especially targeted for growth in the past decade, but as 2010 came to a close, the world’s economic doldrums threatened to derail economic growth across the entire continent, but especially in China. In order to survive

And to correct global currency imbalances, China began to provide currency support to the Euro in an effort to stabilize not only the EU but keep that market open to cheap Chinese goods and services.

Meanwhile, Russia continued to market its energy resources as a means for strategic security and positioning to eventually bring itself back as a leading super-power nation. Russia used 2010 to develop and expand its role as a mediator and arbiter for economic and geo-political disputes as a means to achieving greater geo-political power and super-power status.

The Middle East continued to function as always on the razor’s edge for war, fueled by Iranian efforts to acquire a nuclear weapon. It is the region targeted by the Illuminists to be the flashpoint for the next world war, which will become the catalyst for global government according to their long laid plans.

While South America has been slowly emerging as an economic powerhouse, the continent of Africa continues to languish in poverty and underdevelopment. Australia’s agricultural strength has been pounded by radical weather developments for the past several years in battles from drought and in late 2010 with flooding of nearly biblical proportions. Indeed, the entire planet is undergoing radical changes in both climate and geology. The year 2010 continued to support an ever growing trend of increased volcanic and earthquake activity.

All in all, 2010 was a year in which events continued to unfold, pointing towards massive fulfillment of Biblical Prophecies related to the end of the age of the gentiles and the Great Tribulation culminating with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and His establishing of the Millennial Kingdom.

As we begin 2011, current trends that continued from previous years merged with new developments suggesting that perhaps the year of 2011 might be the year, which sees the fulfillment of major Biblical Prophecy. Only time will tell, but this report will point out that 2011 may indeed witness the beginning of major prophetic events leading to Christ’s Return and Reign on Earth in the near future. We will breakdown the year ahead by regions for geo-political developments and then look at the year ahead from a global perspective for economics, the environment and the Church. We’ll conclude with a look at key dates in 2011, which may or may not be associated with prophetic fulfillment.

Middle East Overview:

Newly emerging, conflicting information concerning the Middle East delayed our 2011 Trend Projections report, because the Middle East is where the focus on Prophecy is based because most of the prophecies focus on Israel. Israel is the central focus for Biblical Prophecy because God’s promises were centered on Israel and Satan’s strategy to defeat God is based upon breaking God’s promises to Israel and in doing so, defeat and overthrow God.

Iran’s Nuclear Program

The Middle East situation as we enter 2011 remains murky and very tense as Iran continues its quest to become not only a nuclear power but also as regional super-power. In doing so, Iran uses Israel as a catalyst and an excuse for building itself into an eventual world super power which introduces the entire world to Islam.

With Iran becoming Israel’s central enemy and treat, we need to consider what is going on with Iran and its leadership and its ongoing military weapons development programs. The situation concerning Iran remains very murky and muddled as we move into 2011. We continue to receive contradictory information concerning Iran in different aspects.

The nuclear weapons program is perhaps the most puzzling piece of the Iranian threat as it is shrouded in such a thick veil of secrecy that Western intelligence agencies simply cannot know for sure the extent of the program. The Iranians are suspected of having parallel secret programs. Only in the last few weeks, new indications have emerged suggesting that Iran has a secret program operating inside North Korea. Western experts now expect the Iranians and the North Koreans will conduct a nuclear bomb test this year, perhaps within a matter of weeks.

Western experts, especially, Israel’s top spymaster think Iran’s nuclear program has suffered such heavy setbacks in 2010 that Iran will be hard pressed to produce a nuclear weapon before 2015. Of course that is based on the assumption that there are no other secret Iranian programs. It is also predicated on the notion that North Korea has not or will not sell nuclear weapons to Iran and Israel’s head of intelligence has publicly acknowledged these alternatives are possible. Such possibilities leave Israel wary of Iran’s nuclear potential

As we’ve recently reported in our A-O Intelligence Digests, new data trends support the notions that Iran is indeed collaborating heavily with Iran to produce not merely an atomic weapon, but a more powerful plutonium missile warhead. There are also new indications that North Korea either has shipped or about to ship a much more sophisticated ballistic missile with a longer range, heavier payload and more accurately targeted ballistic missile. Such a missile is capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Some experts believe this new missile; a solid fuel ballistic missile has a 3,000 kilometer range. There are reports surfacing that Iran has purchased 2 dozen of these missiles with half eventually headed for Iran and the other half headed for Venezuela, where that nation has agreed to share a joint missile base.

There are contradicting reports that a dozen missiles have already shipped to Venezuela during the recent exchange of artillery fire between North and South Korea. It is thought that the artillery barrage started by North Korea was a diversionary ruse to enable a North Korean freighter to slip out to sea and head for Venezuela, while another freighter headed for Iran.

The West’s Covert War with Iran

Western news media outlets have ignored the apparent covert war being waged by the United States, Britain and Israel against Iran. The primary thrust of this covert war is to stall and delay Iran’s nuclear weapons program with secondary thrusts focusing on damaging Iran’s military weapons development programs and communications abilities plus efforts to force regime change in part through internal strife.

In shutting down or delaying Iran’s nuclear program, the West turned to a new type of clandestine warfare – “cyber-war.” Within the past two years or so, Western intelligence agencies developed a special computer worm virus now dubbed as “Stuxnet” This computer worm virus introduced into Iran’s computer systems including those used for the nuclear program as well as for other military and government applications. The Stuxnet virus has proven itself to have been wildly successful in 2010.

Yet the Stuxnet virus is only part of the cyber-war going on. The Iranian regime has had trouble keeping its citizens from accessing the internet and reading international news sources. The regime also has trouble with computer savvy citizens communicating with the outside world via the internet. Additionally, international hackers are constantly challenging the security of the government’s computers. With each passing month, the regime’s computer security protection comes under ever-rising pressure from outside hackers.

Of course, the Iranian regime is also now forced to deal with widening internal dissent not only from its citizens, but also from within the regime itself. The ayatollahs are beginning to fracture into deep divisions about future government policies on a variety of issues, including the international sanctions, which are contributing to even greater citizen discontent with the government. What’s more, President Ahmadinejad’s most staunch support from the hierarchy within the Revolutionary Guards Corps has begun to wane. As the year 2010 ended, we learned that the top commanders of the Revolutionary Guards slapped and insulted Ahmadinejad for making what were deemed inappropriate compromises.

The Supreme Ayatollah’s support continues to wane within the clergy itself. Ayatollah Khamenei now enjoys only a sliver of popular support among the clerics, but the IRG Corps has yet to make a move to unseat the Supreme Leader, thus making him almost a puppet figure in all but the most critical areas dealing with the nuclear program.

President Ahmadinejad’s support began to show serious cracks among his most ardent supporters when he moved unilaterally to cut off government subsidies of key consumer items such as gasoline and increase rationing levels of supply shortfalls of consumer staples including food stuffs.

Western analysts are expecting some sort of regime change in the year ahead, but the question rotates around whether or a regime change will be civilian or a military change.

In the last three weeks, new indications have emerged to suggest that the Iran’s non-political military leaders might step forward and challenge the regime and the Revolutionary Guards leadership, triggering the distinct possibility of a civil war.

Western covert efforts to bring on a regime change from within the civilian population include assisting tribal forces which have organized into popular liberation fronts. These tribal rebels seek to break away from the Persian oriented government and form their own separate nations. Such a break up would ensure a very weak Iran that could become a puppet of the New World Order. The current regime is a loose cannon usually flaunting its independence from the Illuminati leadership.

At times, the regime follows the wishes of the Illuminists and at other times attempts to run interference with Illuminati programs for the Middle East region. For this reason, the Bilderberg group’s meeting in June of 2010 concluded that something will have to be done with an incalcitrant Iranian regime, namely regime change involving war. From what we understand, the Illuminists intend to use a war to not only reshape the Middle East but to make the war so horrible that the world will plead for a greater world government.

Even so, our understanding is that such a war must coincide at a precise time point for synchronizing with a collapse of the world’s currency system and the imminent collapse of the global economy. As we understand it, the timing for war should coincide suddenly at just the last minute before economic collapse. Our question is whether or not the NWO crowd has the capability to pull this off at the precise moment without things blowing up in their face as has happened in the past with their plans.

We understand this war was supposed to have transpired in 2006, but some of the “actors” involved didn’t follow through in playing their assigned roles, particularly Syrian President Assad.

Iran’s Proxy Forces

Syrian President Assad has become very skittish about his alignment with Iran. At the end of 2009, the Illuminists began a new campaign to persuade Syria to remove itself from the Iranian sphere of influence or face severe future consequences. The Syrian leader was made to understand that the Illuminists would one day squash Iran’s dream of empire. As 2009 ended, President Assad began backing away from Iranian plans to wage a war with Israel, using Hezbollah and Hamas.

Israeli leadership conveyed to Assad that any attempt to use WMD assets against Israel would result with an Israeli nuclear response that would forever destroy Damascus. Such pressure has caused Assad to become very cautious. In fact, as 2010 drew to a close, Assad seemed to become more neutral, pretending to be a staunch ally of Iran but maintaining a certain level of independence waiting to see which side would gain the upper hand so that Assad could then join the winning side.

The Illuminists have grown tired of Hezbollah’s belligerence. For awhile, the terror group served a worthwhile function to create chaos and deadlock in the Middle East, but now the group is but a thorn in the side of the globalist agenda. At the appropriate time, Israel will be given the green light to take on Hezbollah without kid gloves. It will be a no-holds-barred war that will most likely be short with the swift demise of both Hezbollah and Hamas. Knowing this has helped to create further divisions within the Iranian regime as to how best to respond to the Illuminati threat.

The Imminent Fulfillment of Daniel 9:27

Certain Israeli leaders have been green-lighted for permission to establish Jewish control over the Temple Mount in the coming war. There are indications that an Iranian missile salvo would involve an errant missile striking the two Muslim shrines on the Temple Mount, destroying them and enabling the Jews to clear the Mount and begin building a Third Temple within a matter of weeks after the initial destruction. There are plans for such destruction of the Muslim shrines whether Iran actually launches missiles or not. The destruction of the shrines could be blamed on Iranian missiles yet destroyed by covertly placing demolition explosives at key architectural points to ensure destruction yet but shift blame to Iran, Hezbollah or Hamas.

Open-air Temple sacrifices would be permitted even before Temple construction would begin. This would point to a major prophetic fulfillment of Daniel 9:27, culminating in the Abomination of Desolation just three and a half years later. Sources within Israel report that a new Temple could be constructed in two years or less. The resources to do so are simply waiting in the wings.

There are conflicting reports as to whether such a war will occur this spring, summer or fall The Bilderberg Group’s comments would indicate a war this spring. Lately, Israel’s top intelligence chief has suggested that due to internal “problems” with Iran’s nuclear program, the timetable for developing a nuclear weapon is now estimated to be 2015. Without specifically stating it, the Israeli intelligence attributes the problems to the “Stuxnet Virus.” Other reports note the Iran-North Korea partnership suggesting a bomb may be tested sometime this year in North Korea, possibly within weeks.

One report circulating around the D.C. beltway indicated that the Obama White House was preparing to send 2 additional aircraft carriers to the waters off of North Korea. According to different military sources, I’ve been told that should we learn that 5 aircraft carriers are being stationed off the North Korean coast; expect imminent military action against Korea. Should that transpire, expect Iran to take action. However, we should also expect that in such events, additional carriers would be ordered to the Mideast to deal with an expected Iranian response.

We have tried to follow up on these conflicting reports and determine the genuine likelihood of any scenario, but I cannot report anything tangible or definitive on the timing for war, or if indeed war plans are being shelved. In fact, shifting changes could force a roll back in plans until 2012 or thereafter.

At the Pre-Trib Prophecy Conference in Dallas, Texas back in early December, one attendee, Jimmy DeYoung reportedly told other attendees that in a recent, private conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli leader stated that Israel would no longer hold back from war with Iran if it was learned that Iran was about to explode a nuclear bomb or had made such a bomb. He also stated that another trigger point for war would be evidence that Hezbollah and or Hamas was about to launch war on Israel, in which case Israel would wage total war. Israel would not hesitate to use nuclear weapons if WMDs were used to attack Israel.

It is my considered opinion that any war with Iran, Hezbollah that also involved Turkish forces along with other Muslim allies may well be the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s Magog War Prophecies. This would be underscored by the fact that tensions are rising over Israel’s announced discoveries of major natural gas fields off the Israeli coastline. Lebanon, Syria and Turkey are both claiming they have rights to those natural gas deposits also. It is very feasible that an outbreak of war may emerge over who owns and controls those gas deposits.


Trends to Look For

For 2011: watch for reactions to an announcement by the UN of indictments against Hezbollah leaders. If this happens, there is a very good chance that Hezbollah will take military action to overthrow the Lebanese government and nullify the UN action.

French President Sarkozy recently contacted several European counterparts to discuss what military action the EU should take in the event Hezbollah takes military action.

Israel has quietly advised Syria that any such action will be deemed an act of war against Israel and that Israel would take appropriate military action. Syria was advised to stay out of the conflict.

Also look for renewed efforts to re-start peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel. At the same time, do not be surprised if the Palestinian Authority collapses if P/A Chairman Abbas makes good on his promise to resign from office and retire. It is believed that in such event, the P/A’s collapse would result in Hamas taking over the representation of the Palestinian people; thus ending any chances for peace talks.

Look for Israel to wage war against Hamas, IF, Hamas allows a resumption of rocket barrages into southern Israel. The Netanyahu government is looking for an excuse to take on Hamas and dismantle it.

Look for a further rift in relations between Turkey and Israel, despite efforts by the two nations to patch up their differences. The radical Muslim faction in Turkey has silenced opposition from the Turkish military chieftains, giving the radical Muslim politicians in Turkey a free hand to engage in provocative diplomacy to interact with Iran against Israel. Expect relations between Turkey and Israel to continue to deteriorate.

Look for Jordan to make tentative moves that would pacify Iran and Syria as those two nations continue to joust with Israel. I do not expect Jordan will join in any military action against Israel, however.

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah continues to recover from back surgery but the 87 year old monarch continues to reign in poor health. Rumors abound that he may abdicate the throne if he feels he can no longer carry out the duties as Monarch. Should he die this year, look for a power struggle to ensue, but at the moment, conservative family members who favor the West, seem to hold the upper hand to succeed the King.

Saudi Arabia now has a defacto nuclear deterrent in the form of two nuclear warhead missiles purchased from Pakistan. The Saudis feel confident that with such a deterrent they can keep Iran from overwhelming the Arabian Peninsula. At the same, the Saudis now recognize that Iran has won the battle for control of Iraq.

Look for Iran to consolidate its hold on Iraq in 2011, now that a new government has formed with Iran’s assistance. Prime Minister al-Maliki is now beholden to the Sheikh Moqtada Sadr’s militia forces who just recently threw their political support behind the Prime Minister in exchange for certain promises geared to ensure the militia remains the dominant force in Iraq. Look for Sunni Muslims to be forced into major territory concessions or face civil war. In the meantime, the Kurds may well respond by declaring their independence, triggering a new crisis with Turkey and Iran. This could result in a short war between the Kurds fighting against both Iran and Turkey.

In Afghanistan, look for further gains by the Taliban as U.S. surge forces begin to be withdrawn if the White House promise to begin troop withdrawals holds. If so, it’s only a matter of time until the Taliban regain control of Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, over in Pakistan, the civil turmoil continues with the Taliban seeking to over throw the Pakistani government. The recent assassination of a Pakistani governor demonstrates the precarious position that the civilian government now finds itself. Do not be surprised if the current government collapses, plunging the nation into new round of chaos that could result in the Pakistan nuclear weapons inventory falling into the hands of radical Muslims. Should that happen, the entire region will be plunged into chaos and enhance the chances for an eventual nuclear exchange.

Finally, look for chaos to emerge in Egypt. Egyptian President Mubarak is suffering from terminal cancer and is slotted to give up power in 2011. It remains unclear who is successor will be but whoever succeeds him will find a challenge from radical Muslims residing in Egypt. By the end of the year, it’s entirely possible that radical Muslims could take control of Egypt.

Europe & the Middle East

The European Union is poised for an economic collapse as its currency, the Euro, continues to deteriorate in the world’s currency markets. Many economists and currency traders are concerned that the Euro could collapse and disintegrate within the first two or three months of 2011. Various bond auctions are slated for January and concern grows that Portugal and Spain will soon be forced to default, creating another crisis much like what happened with Greece and Ireland only far worse.

Trends To Watch For

Various European cities have been exposed to riots in the streets last year and with economic conditions continuing to deteriorate, expect more riots and chaos across Europe, especially if and or when the Euro collapses upon itself in the currency markets.

2011 will be the year of intense trial and tribulation for Europe along economic lines that will carry over into political chaos and turmoil.

Look for continued civil turmoil throughout Europe if economic conditions deteriorate.

Look for nations in economic turmoil to experience not only riots but regime changes in emergency elections.

Look for France, Germany and Britain to stand by ready to intervene in any Lebanon crisis. They would join with America in dispatching military combat forces to the region to forestall an Israeli invasion of Lebanon, should Hezbollah attempt to stage a coup against the Lebanese government.

There are late indications as the New Year begins that China has signaled that it is prepared to support and purchase EU bonds to stabilize the Euro currency and preserve consumer demand for Chinese products to avoid a collapse of the Chinese economy.

Look for the major EU powers to continue supporting Israel, but at arm’s length unless or until a war breaks out involving Iran. Should that develop, look for the EU to side with Israel. If Iran launches missiles against Europe, look for European nations to take direct military action against Iran.


United States & the Middle East

The 2012 presidential election campaign has begun with preliminary jockeying for position on key issues. The Obama Administration is undergoing an overhaul in the wake of last year’s mid-term election results. It now appears that President Obama is going to shift his approach towards middle of the road positions.

In terms of foreign policy in the Middle East, Obama has eased his negative approach towards Israel to appease the American Jewish lobby in hopes that Jewish donations to his re-election campaign will mirror the level of donations of 2008.

Military cooperation with Israel will continue in 2011 and may intensify, depending upon how Iran responds to diplomatic overtures from the White House for Iran to suspend its nuclear program voluntarily. Chances for Iran to follow White House appeals are non existent as long as the current regime remains in power. The White House holds out hope that there will be a regime change in 2011 culminating in a suspension of the nuclear program. We suspect that such hopes are unlikely to be fulfilled. Instead we expect a hostile regime to remain in place within Iran.

America’s relationship with friendly Muslim nations will continue to be rocky as Muslim leaders hold President Obama with disdain. This is particularly the case with Arab leaders. The Obama Administration will find Arab nations reluctant to cooperate with Obama’s efforts to create a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Russia

Russia is signaling an interest in forging a new alliance with Israel. Russian President Medvedev is reportedly planning to visit Israel in the near future to improve trade and military relations with Israel. Both nations are working to supply each other with military weapons.

Russia is also signaling its moving to oppose Iran’s nuclear program under the realization and acceptance of the idea that Iran is indeed working to develop nuclear weapons. Russia now has begun to realize that Iran is a threat to not only Israel but to Russia as well. With that understanding, Russia may well attempt to forge a closer relationship with Israel, particularly with an eye towards forming a business partnership with Israel to develop Israel’s new natural gas fields off the Israeli coastline.

Russian leaders also wish to become an alternative ally with Israel. The tense relations between Israel and the Obama Administration are viewed by Moscow as an opportunity to reduce American influence with Israel and increase Russia’s standing with Israel. Russia would like to be viewed as a partner for Israel and thus increase Russian influence across the Middle East. Look for Russia to continue to develop a closer relationship with Israel and simultaneously become more of an adversary to Iran.

China

China is now showing signs of backing away from its support for Iran. There are reports that Russia has offered to replace Iranian oil products with Russian oil and natural gas to alleviate any losses incurred by China should it find itself being cut off from Iranian oil products in the event of war with Iran. Should war break out, look for China to remain neutral.

The Church in 2011

An Overview
Church Trends going into 2011

1. The Christian Church is becoming less theologically literate.

2. Christians are becoming more ingrown and less outreach-oriented.

3. Growing numbers of people are less interested in spiritual principles and more desirous of learning pragmatic solutions for life.

4. Among Christians, interest in participating in community action is escalating.

5. The postmodern insistence on tolerance is winning over the Christian Church.

6. The influence of Christianity on culture and individual lives is largely invisible.

Comments on various points

#1. What used to be basic, universally-known truths about Christianity are now unknown mysteries to a large and growing share of Americans–especially young adults. For instance, Barna Group studies in 2010 showed that while most people regard Easter as a religious holiday, only a minority of adults associate Easter with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Other examples include the finding that few adults believe that their faith is meant to be the focal point of their life or to be integrated into every aspect of their existence. Further, a growing majority believe the Holy Spirit is a symbol of God’s presence or power, but not a living entity. As the two younger generations (Busters and Mosaics) ascend to numerical and positional supremacy in churches across the nation, the data suggest that biblical literacy is likely to decline significantly. The theological free-for-all that is encroaching in Protestant churches nationwide suggests the coming decade will be a time of unparalleled theological diversity and inconsistency.

#2 Despite technological advances that make communications instant and far-reaching, Christians are becoming more spiritually isolated from non-Christians than was true a decade ago. Examples of this tendency include the fact that less than one-third of born again Christians planned to invite anyone to join them at a church event during the Easter season; teenagers are less inclined to discuss Christianity with their friends than was true in the past; most of the people who become Christians these days do so in response to a personal crisis or the fear of death (particularly among older Americans); and most Americans are unimpressed with the contributions Christians and churches have made to society over the past few years. As young adults have children, the prospect of them seeking a Christian church is diminishing–especially given the absence of faith talk in their conversations with the people they most trust. With atheists becoming more strategic in championing their godless worldview, as well as the increased religious plurality driven by education and immigration, the increasing reticence of Christians to engage in faith-oriented conversations assumes heightened significance.

#3. When asked what matters most, teenagers prioritize education, career development, friendships, and travel. Faith is significant to them, but it takes a back seat to life accomplishments and is not necessarily perceived to affect their ability to achieve their dreams. Among adults the areas of growing importance are lifestyle comfort, success, and personal achievements. Those dimensions have risen at the expense of investment in both faith and family. The turbo-charged pace of society leaves people with little time for reflection. The deeper thinking that occurs typically relates to economic concerns or relational pressures. Spiritual practices like contemplation, solitude, silence, and simplicity are rare. (It is ironic that more than four out of five adults claim to live a simple life.) Practical to a fault, Americans consider survival in the present to be much more significant than eternal security and spiritual possibilities. Because we continue to separate our spirituality from other dimensions of life through compartmentalization, a relatively superficial approach to faith has become a central means of optimizing our life experience.

#4. It is fine for Christians to engage in community action but not at the expense of thinking this will please God.

#5. Biblical illiteracy and lack of spiritual confidence has caused Americans to avoid making discerning choices for fear of being labeled judgmental. The result is a Church that has become tolerant of a vast array of morally and spiritually dubious behaviors and philosophies.

There are fewer and fewer issues that Christians believe churches should be dogmatic about. The idea of love has been redefined to mean the absence of conflict and confrontation, as if there are no moral absolutes that are worth fighting for. That may not be surprising in a Church in which a minority believes there are moral absolutes dictated by the scriptures.

#6. Lack of Christian witness and testimony due to a lack of knowledge and convictions is bound to create a vacuum in which society is no longer influenced or affected by Christianity.


Dates to Watch for in 2011

We are not mentioning these dates as a way of indicating that anything important will transpire on any such date. We only note these dates because of the potential for something significant based upon either numerology or Jewish feast dates.

1/11/11

4/1/11

4/11/11

Passover = April 19-25

6/1/11

Pentecost = June 8

6/11/11

7/1/11

7/11/11

9/1/11

9/11/11

Rosh Hashanah = September 29-30

Yom Kippur = October 7-8

Sukkot:= Feast of Tabernacles = October 13-20

11/1/11

1/11/11

12/11/11

12/21/11

http://aoreport.com/ao/news-articles/1474-2011-trend-projections-what-may-happen-in-2011