World Watch Today

North Korea carries out biggest nuclear test

North Korea has carried out its third, most powerful nuclear test despite UN warnings, and said “even stronger” action might follow.

It described the test as a “self-defensive measure” necessitated by the “continued hostility” of the US.

Its main ally, China, criticized the test, which was condemned worldwide.

Nuclear test monitors in Vienna say the underground explosion had double the force of the 2009 test, despite reportedly involving a smaller device.

If, as North Korea reports, a smaller device was tested successfully, analysts say this could take Pyongyang closer to building a warhead small enough to arm a missile.

The UN Security Council will meet at 14:00 GMT to discuss the test and its ramifications, diplomats say.

All we know at the moment about the North Korean test is gleaned from seismic data: the event was magnitude 4.9, significantly larger than the 2006 and 2009 tests.

North Korea announced last month that it would conduct a third nuclear test following those in 2006 and 2009 as a response to UN sanctions that were expanded after the secretive communist state’s December rocket launch, a move condemned by the UN as a banned test of missile technology.

Activity had been observed at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site for several months.

Seismic activity was then detected by monitoring agencies from several nations at 11:57 (02:57 GMT) on Tuesday. A shallow earthquake with a magnitude of 4.9 was recorded, the US Geological Survey said.

North Korea said the nuclear test – which comes just before US President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address – was a response to the “reckless hostility of the United States”.

“The latest nuclear test was only the first action, with which we exercised as much self-restraint as possible,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“If the US further complicates the situation with continued hostility, we will be left with no choice but to take even stronger second or third rounds of action.”

The Vienna-based Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization said the “explosion-like event” was twice as big as the 2009 test, which was in turn bigger than that in 2006.

It is the first such test under new leader Kim Jong-un, who took over the leadership after his father Kim Jong-il died in December 2011.

“It is a grave threat to our nation’s safety and cannot be tolerated as it will significantly damage international society’s peace and safety” Shinzo Abe Japanese prime minister

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the test as a “clear and grave violation” of UN resolutions and a “deeply destabilizing” provocation.

Mr Obama said the test was a “highly provocative act”, and called for “swift” and “credible” international action in response.

China expressed “firm opposition” to its ally’s test, urging the North to honor its commitment to denuclearization and “not take any actions which might worsen the situation”.

The Next Pope?

Steven LeBlanc

Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday that he will retire citing age and declining health becoming the first pope in 600 years to resign from the office. “Before Easter (March 31), we will have the new pope,” Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, said at a news conference. The last pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII, who stepped down in 1415.

There are 118 electors eligible to vote for the Pope’s successor according to USA Today. Italy has the most cardinal-electors at 28, and the United States follows with 11.
There are 61 Europeans, 19 Latin Americans, 14 North Americans, 11 Africans, 11 Asians and one from Oceania among the voters. Benedict XVI will not participate in the conclave.

Vatican watchers list some of their favorite picks for the next Pope:

Cardinal Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan, is a favored Italian who would bring Benedict’s enthusiasm for “recapturing Catholic excitement in Europe.” He is a top scholar on Islam and the Christian-Muslim dialog, Scola is 70. He is popular among Cardinals.

Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Canada, 68. One of the most powerful men in the Vatican [he is prefect of the Congregation for Bishops], Ouellet spent many years living and teaching in Colombia which makes him an attractive person to Latin American Catholics. He is intelligent and multilingual– One of the top 3 favorites.

Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson of Ghana, 64. He is the head of the Council for Justice and Peace and former Archbishop of the Cape Coast. Turkson speaks his native Ghanaian language, Fante, as well as English, French, Italian, German and Hebrew, as well as understanding Latin and Greek. Cardinal Turkson likes to be able to joke with people in their own languages.

Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genoa, 69 years of age. He speaks multiple languages, and is decisive on Doctrinal issues. He is two-time president of the Italian bishops conference. Italians hold about a fourth of the seats in the College of Cardinals that will elect the next pope.

Why should you be concerned as to who becomes the next Pope? Because we believe the Bible makes clear that a future European dictator will seek to secure the backing of Rome [see Revelation 13 & 17]. Popes have played a pivotal role in world history.

European history reveals that Papal Rome played a pivotal role in backing secular governments in their attempts to create a unified “Catholic” Europe. This “unholy” alliance is viewed by God as an act of promiscuity—a type of Spiritual fornication. The Catholic Church is described as ”MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” [Revelation 17:5].

Revelation speaks to just how influential the Catholic Church has been: An angel had explained to John that “the waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues [languages]” (verse 15). No other Church in history has exercised so much power! Rome is of course, known throughout the world as “the City of Seven Hills”. This fallen woman who sits on “seven hills” (verse 9) is the great false church whose headquarters is in Rome, Italy—none other than the Church of Rome.

European leaders such as the Emperor Justinian, Charlemagne, Otto the Great, Charles V, Napoleon, Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler all tried to revive the Roman Empire in various forms under their leadership. These dictators formed agreements with Rome hoping to profit from the approval of the Catholic Church.

The beasts described in Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 were not ridden by the woman. The Beast of Revelation 17 is. In Revelation 17, the ten horns represent ten future rulers who will collectively give their power and authority to “the Beast”—an end-time revival of the old Holy Roman Empire. The time setting is yet ahead of us because these ten will fight against Christ at His return (Revelation 17:12–14, 17).

Watching the Vatican [Roman Catholic Church Headquarters] is important. Too many people underestimate the political power of the Roman Catholic Church.

Pentagon to end ban on women in front-line combat

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has decided to lift the military’s ban on women serving in combat.

The move could open hundreds of thousands of frontline positions and elite commando jobs to women. Some jobs are expected to be opened to women this year, while others – including for Special Forces such as the Navy Seals and the Delta Force – could take longer.

This decision could open more than 230,000 combat roles to women, many in infantry units.

Women have played a role in war throughout history, often in support or medical roles, but have typically been excluded from combat roles
From the 1970s, most Western armies began to admit women to serve active duty
A few nations allow women to fill active combat roles, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Israel, Germany, Norway, Poland, Serbia, Sweden – and Japan and Switzerland, which theoretically allow women in combat positions but have not engaged in combat in recent history
But even these countries usually keep some roles off-limits for women “The UK looked at this same issue some years ago and decided this was not a good idea, in 2002 and 2008

“Thirty years of studies, reports and actual experience… have shown that in direct ground combat units – the infantry – women do not have an equal opportunity to survive or to help fellow soldiers to survive. The physical aspects of it are only part of the reason.”

Restrictions were first eased a year ago, when the Pentagon opened up 14,500 roles, closer to the front line, which had previously been off limits to female personnel.

During the Iraq and Afghan wars, US female military personnel have worked as medics, military police and intelligence officers, sometimes attached but not formally assigned to front-line units.

As of 2012, more than 800 women were wounded in those wars, and at least 130 have died.

Women comprise 14% of America’s 1.4 million active military personnel.

Drought as Punishment

Steven LeBlanc

The critical spring planting season does not look good as drought threatens to make 2013 another ominous year for farmers from the mid-west. Thus far light precipitation totals in most of the central U.S. have not given the moisture the soil requires for spring planting.

Nearly 80 percent of agricultural land suffered drought in 2012, which made the 2012 drought greater than any since the 1950s, 2013 may be just as bad.

Crops are not the only casualty of the drought; millions of trees are dying as well. The following is from Judy Keen, USA TODAY—January 27th:

Hundreds of thousands of trees died in the historic drought of 2012, and many more will succumb in the next few years, scientists say. “This is just beginning,” says Janna Beckerman, a plant pathologist at Indiana’s Purdue University. “I suspect we’ll see trees still dying for the next two or three years.” Indiana’s white cedar and Florida cypress trees began dying in late summer, she says, and Alberta and Colorado blue spruce are succumbing now.

Trees affected by a 2010-11 drought still are dying across Louisiana, says Keith Hawkins, a Louisiana State University AgCenter forester. Some trees “reached a threshold from which they can’t recover — especially older, larger trees,” he says.
About 301 million trees died in rural Texas because of that drought, the Texas A&M Forest Service says.

God will often use weather as a form of punishment (Amos 4:7). “I also withheld rain from you when the harvest was still three months away. I sent rain on one town, but withheld it from another. One field had rain; another had none and dried up”. America continues to push God out of mainstream thought and its institutions. Our embrace of ‘Gay marriage’, abortion, no-fault divorce and sexual immorality does not go unnoticed by God.

God warned Ancient Israel that there is a clear connection between disobedience to the 10 commandments and the consequences of embracing lawlessness: “But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments, and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant, I also will do this to you…I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze. And your strength shall be spent in vain; for your land shall not yield its produce, nor shall the trees of the land yield their fruit”, Leviticus 26 (verses 14-20).

Ignoring God has its consequences.

ISRAEL ATTACKS SYRIA

Steven LeBlanc

Israeli warplanes struck targets Wednesday outside Damascus, Syria. The reason for the attack is the fear that President Assad of Syria will lose control of his nation’s stockpiles of chemical and sophisticated weapons. Israeli fighter jets hit a truck convoy believed to be carrying antiaircraft weapons for Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. The shipment was thought to have included Russian-made SA-17 missiles.

There is the heightened concern that Israel’s attack into Syrian territory could draw Iran into a conflict with Israel. Iran has stated that any foreign attack against Syria would be seen as an attack against Iran. In recent days, Israel warned that Assad is losing control over his chemical weapons and that military action might be taken. This has now taken place.

Iran has often threatened to destroy Israel, and Hezbollah is one of Iran’s chief proxies. Israel smothering off the supply of weapons to Hezbollah cripples Iran’s power in the region.

We continue to monitor the situation closely. Always remember the end-time prophecy that describes Israel and its power to hurt its enemies—we saw a small example of this on Wednesday:

Judah is a lion’s cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down; he crouched as a lion and as a lioness; who dares rouse him? [Genesis 49:9].

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