“Watching the pot come to a boil”
- 5-Jan-11 News — Pakistan’s crisis worsens as senior politician is assassinated
- Egypt Christian church bombing blamed on Salafi terrorists
Pakistan’s crisis worsens as senior politician is assassinated
Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province and a senior politician in the governing Pakistan People’s Party (PPP),was assassinated on Tuesday by one of his own bodyguards, significantly worsening Pakistan’s financial and political crises.
This is the highest profile assassination since the the December, 2008, assassination of Benazir Bhutto, a leading Shia Muslim figure and daughter of the founder of the PPP. She was assassinated just two weeks prior to an election in which she was expected to win the office of Prime Minister.
After her death, her widowed husband, Asif Ali Zardari, became president of Pakistan. Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani, another PPP associate of Bhutto, later became Prime Minister. And Tasser became governor of Punjab, Pakistan’s largest and most important province.
Taseer was shot in broad daylight on an Islamabad street by Malik Mumtaz Qadri, a member of the “Elite Force” that were supposed to protect him, according to Pakistan’s Daily Times. Taseer was shot 27 times in the back. Qadri was arrested along with nine other members of the Elite Force, who had allegedly conspired with Qadri.
Qadri confessed to the killed, and blamed it on Taseer’s opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy law, which forbids blaspheming Mohammed or Islam.
Taseer had been in the center of a major national controversy on this law. According to Dawn:
“Mr Taseer had few friends left in his last days. His outspoken defence of the Christian woman, Aasia Bibi, who was accused of blasphemy under questionable charges leveled against her by fellow Muslim villagers and who has been on the death row in a Punjab prison for over a year awaiting appeal in a higher court, made him a hate figure for extremist and Islamist outfits and parties. Major religious parties called out nationwide strikes on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve to demand Aasia Bibi’s execution under the controversial blasphemy law, and to condemn her sympathisers, Mr Taseer being one of the foremost public figures amongst the latter group and thus the object of hate.”
In the past few weeks, the validity of Pakistan’s blasphemy law in Islam has been debated by Pakistani scholars. Two articles have been translated by MEMRI, and summarized as follows:
“In the following two articles, Pakistani writers Abbas Zaidi and Dr. Mohammad Taqi debate the implications and rationale of the controversial blasphemy law in Pakistan. In the first article, titled “The Blasphemer Must Not Be Pardoned,” Abbas Zaidi, a sociolinguist, argues that the clerics should not be allowed to have their way, as it will embolden the clerics, causing further such threats to the nearly five billion people who are not Muslim.In the second article, titled “Blasphemy Laws: What Does the Koran Say?” prominent writer Dr. Mohammad Taqi argues that the Holy Koran and Sunnah, i.e. the deeds and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, do not prescribe any punishment for a blasphemer. He reasons that the clerics are misusing a Koranic verse dealing with war and sedition to call for the death penalty for blasphemy.”
What’s always significant about these issues is that Islamist extremists are always justifying their mass murders, even of civilians, by claiming the most extreme interpretations of Islamic history and beliefs, and these interpretations are almost never supported by other Muslim scholars.
Pakistan has been the target of a steady stream of al-Qaeda and Taliban linked terrorist attacks, often targeting Sufi and Shia Muslim shrines and worshippers.
Pakistan is already in the middle of major financial and political crises. The government is close to collapse anyway, as two political parties pulled out of the PPP’s governing coalition. Pakistan has a huge budget deficit, and the economy is also collapsing as well, according to Financial Times (Access). The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has stopped a payment of $3.5 billion of its $11.3 billion loan to Pakistan, because has not raised taxes as demanded by the IMF.
As if that weren’t enough, major floods last year affected 20% of Pakistan’s land mass, making 7.5 million people homeless. In Sindh province, the heart of the PPP, hundreds of thousands of refugees fled into the port city of Karachi, making the city almost ungovernable. Hundreds were killed in the ensuing violence.
So it’s not surprising that the assassination of Taseer has caused panic in Karachi, according to Dawn. Many stores were closed and people stayed at home, fearing a violent backlash against the assassination. However, no signficant violence has occurred so far.
Troubles just seem to just pile upon troubles in Pakistan. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Pakistan and India are headed for a genocidal ethnic and religious war, refighting the war between Muslims and Hindus that followed Partition, the 1947 partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into Pakistan and India.
It’s impossible to predict exactly what scenario will lead to that war, but the continuing deterioration of Pakistan is certainly part of it.
Saturday’s bombing of a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria, Egypt, is being blamed on an al-Qaeda linked Egyptian terrorist group known as Salafis. They had been calling for violence against Christians, and they are thought to be behind online instructional videos explaining how to build a bomb, and providing the locations of churches to target, including the one that was bombed. Associated Press
Internal divisions within the Palestinian Authority are growing, as Former security strongman Muhammad Dahlan was interrogated on Tuesday on charges of planning a military coup against president Mahmoud Abbas. Jerusalem Post
One of the most peculiar facets of the recent collapse in Mideast peace talks was the story that the Obama administration offered Israel a squadron of jet fighters in return for a 90-day extension to the West Bank settlement freeze. The story at the time was that Israel refused the offer, but on Monday, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he was willing to agree to the 90-day extension, but that U.S. officials withdrew the offer. “The Americans were right in saying that the settlement freeze will lead to a dead end, in which we would have entered an endless path of settlement freezes, but despite it all I agreed to go through with it,” he said. Haaretz
A campaign to reverse the excommunication 110 years ago of the great Russian writer Leo Tolstoy has been refused by the Russian Orthodox Church, who blame him for aiding the Bolshevik Revolution. As the centennial anniversary of his November 20, 1910, death approached, the church issued a statement acknowledging Tolstoy’s “unforgettable, beautiful works,” and said that Russian Orthodox readers were allowed to say solitary prayers for him on the anniversary of his death. NY Times
On the heels of a record-cold December, long-range forecasts indicate that January could be the coldest across the United States since the 1980s. AccuWeather
(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Jan-11 News — Pakistan’s crisis worsens as senior politician is assassinated thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Jan-2011) Permanent Link
- 4-Jan-11 News — Republicans say they’ll cut government spending
- Palestinians to submit anti-settlement resolution to U.N. Security Council
Republicans say they’ll cut government spending
Now that the Republicans are in the substantial majority in the House of Representatives, they’re planning to cut spending, in order to reduce the budget deficit.
“House Republicans are pledging to cut spending, and one early sign they’re serious is the rules package they are bringing to the House floor tomorrow. More than the last time it held power, the GOP is changing the rules to make it harder to tax and spend. …In their new rules, Republicans are giving paygo the heave-ho and substituting a rule called “cut as you go.” From now on, increases in mandatory spending—for new or existing entitlements—will require that spending be cut by an equal or greater amount elsewhere in the budget. …
These new rules are … a welcome sign that Republicans understand their November mandate and are thinking strategically about how to fulfill it.”
The article lists a few more rules changes that I’ve omitted, in order to avoid tedium.
So the Republicans are “pledging to cut spending,” but nowhere in this sympathetic analysis is anything that points to any places where actual spending will be cut. The most that can be said is that in a few trivial cases, some small spending increases will be avoided.
In 2008, I wrote the article, “One, Two, Three … Infinity,” in which I compared to the ever-increasing government spending plans to a book by George Gamow that I read in school in the 1950s.
My use of that particular phrase was to convey the idea that American debt was on an exponential growth path that would not be stopped except by a major financial collapse and crisis.
A few rules changes will not stop the deficit’s exponential growth path. The whole idea is a big joke, typical of the jokes that we always see in Washington.
It’s easy now, at the beginning of 2011, to fantasize reducing the deficit. But it’s politically impossible to cut any government spending program or to increase taxes. Therefore, the deficit will only increase.
Furthermore, there’s no way of knowing what crises will occur during 2011. The global economy is far more fragile today than it was a year ago.
In the US, the shadow inventory of foreclosed and distressed real estate has grown to something like 7-8 million homes. Those foreclosed homes are being held off the market by bankers who are waiting for home prices to increase. Once it sinks in that home prices are only going to decrease, there’s a possibility of a full scale panic, with a million or two homes suddenly dumped on the market.
China has a massive real estate bubble that could burst at any time. China’s quantitative easing program has pushed up the prices of real estate and commodities, and I understand that food prices have increased 30% in the last year.
Europe’s financial crisis has been out of the news for the holidays, but few people believe that there won’t be major crises coming, like the ones that Greece and Ireland experienced last year, requiring bailouts. Pundits have also been pointing out that US states like California and Illinois may also go bankrupt in 2011.
As far as I can tell, the assumption that almost everyone is making is that the economy is going to take off in 2011. The next assumption is that this will cause all financial problems to simply melt away. But as we’ve said many times, what they’re hoping for is a reflating of the real estate and credit bubbles of five years ago, and that cannot happen.
One way that we know that a major financial crisis is yet to come is because no serious effort is really being made to reduce the budget deficit. However, the deficit budget must come down, one way or another, and therefore a major financial crisis of some kind, probably forcing a US Treasury default, must occur.
The Palestinians are drafting a carefully worded resolution, to be presented to the U.N. Security Council, declaring that Jewish settlements in the West Bank are a major obstacle to ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The wording of the resolution will mirror criticisms of Israel by the Obama administration in recent months, so that the U.S. will be politically unable to veto the resolution in the Security Council. “It’s a very moderate resolution by design because we don’t want the U.S. to veto it,” Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said Sunday. “We want the international community to tell Israel that the settlements are against international law.” LA Times
Following Saturday’s bombing of a Coptic Christian church in Egypt, killing 21, Germany’s Coptic Christian community has also reported receiving threats from radical Muslims. Spiegel
The government of Greece plans to build a 206 km (128 mile) wall along the land border between Greece and Turkey, in order to keep out unwanted migrants. Each month, thousands of migrants, many from Africa and Asia, have been crossing from Turkey into Greece, using it as an entry point into the European Union. Many of them have been put into detention camps that have been called “degrading.” The fence will be modeled along the 1,050 km fence along the U.S. border with Mexico. EU Observer
(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Jan-11 News — Republicans say they’ll cut government spending thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Jan-2011) Permanent Link
- 3-Jan-11 News — Britain celebrates the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible
- Home prices expected to fall another 30%
Britain celebrates the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible
The year 2011 marks the 400th anniversary of the completion of the King James Bible, possibly the most influential English language book in history.
Psalm 23, King James Version
In his 2011 New Year message, the Archbishop of Canterbury said:
“When we try to make sense of our lives and of who we really are, it helps to have a strongly-defined story, a big picture of some kind in the background. As the King James Bible took hold of the imaginations of millions of people in the English-speaking world, it gave them just that – a big picture, a story in which their lives made sense.”
An article in the Independent has collected together some of the common English language phrases that originally appeared in the 1611 edition of the King James Bible:
“Today it is a commonplace to note that the words and rhythms of the KJB and its source translations shape the speech of countless millions who never open a bible or enter a church. Somehow, the language of the 1611 version never falls from grace (Galatians 5.4) even if its message falls on stony ground (Mark 4.5). In a secular age where ignorance of religion goes from strength to strength (Psalms 84.7) among lovers of filthy lucre (1 Timothy 3.8) who only want to eat, drink and be merry (Luke 12.19), we know for a certainty (Joshua 23.13) that these resonant words endure as a fly in the ointment (Ecclesiastes 10.1) and a thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12.7) of the powers that be (Romans 13.1). They can still set the teeth on edge (Jeremiah 31.29) of those who try to worship God and Mammon (Matthew 6.24). But does this ancient book, proof that there is no new thing under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1.9), now cast its pearls before swine (Matthew 7.6), and act as a voice crying in the wilderness (Luke 3.4) – a drop in a bucket (Isaiah 40.15) of unbelief, no longer a sign of the times (Matthew 16.3) but a verbal stumbling-block (Leviticus 19.14) or else all things to all men (1 Corinthians 9.22) while the blind lead the blind (Matthew 15.14)?”
From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the King James Bible was the product of a generational Awakening era. Awakening eras are those spectacular times of new ideas and new revolutions that appear midway between two crisis wars. Important Awakening eras in world history include the golden age of ancient Greece, the ministry of Jesus Christ, and the life of Mohammed and birth of Islam. (See Generational Dynamics: Great Awakenings in World History.)
When King James took the throne of England in 1603, England was just recovering from the previous crisis war with Spain, which had climaxed with the failed attack of the ‘Invincible’ Spanish Armada in 1588. The war was seen as confrontation between the Catholics and the heretical Protestants, and the Armada attack was strongly supported by the Catholics and seen as the will of God.
In the generational Recovery era that followed the disastrous collapse of the Armada attack, both sides concluded that the English victory was through divine intervention. In England, this resulted in the strengthening of the doctrine of divine right of Kings. The King would be second in authority only to God, and certainly not second in authority to the Pope in Rome.
King James particularly adopted this doctrine. But as always happens, the kids growing up after a generational crisis war rebel against the austere rules and institutions set up by the survivors, who only wish to guarantee that no such war will ever happen again. This leads to a “generation gap,” such as happened in America and Europe in the 1960s, and in Iran in the last two years.
In 1603, this generation gap led to a remarkable event known as the Millenary Petition. Hundreds of Puritan reformist clergy expressed their outrage at what they called “popisms” — rituals and procedures that too closely resembled the practices of the Pope and the Catholic Church.
At the heart of the political dispute were arguments over the best translation of the Bible into English. There were several translations available, including one favored by the Puritans and one favored by King James and the traditionalists.
In order to resolve the political dispute, the King created a committee of Puritan and traditional religious leaders, the Hampton Court Conference of January 1604. It soon became clear that none of the reforms requested by the Puritans would be granted. This led to the flight of Puritans to Amsterdam three years later, and after that to the migration to North America.
But there was one major reform that everyone at the Conference agreed on: An authoritative version of the Bible was required, something in every day English that anyone could understand. This led to the commissioning of a new Bible translation, resulting in the King James Bible in 1611.
The conflict over the doctrine of divine right of Kings did not go away, however, as Parliament was demanding greater power over taxation and policy. Disagreements between the King and Parliament led to England’s next crisis war, the bloody English Civil War (also called the “Puritan Revolution”) of the 1640s, climaxing in the beheading of King Charles I in 1649.
The monarchy was abolished, and England had no King until the monarchy was restored in 1660 with Charles’ son, Charles II, as King, but with vastly reduced powers. The divine right of Kings remained in name only until the next generational Awakening era climaxed in 1689 with the Glorious Revolution. The relationship between the monarchy and Parliament was finally sealed for good in the next crisis war, the War of the Spanish Succession, of the 1700s decade.
In generational theory, great ideas are launched during Awakening eras, and either established or extinguished during subsequent Crisis eras. The Awakening era of the 1600s and 1610s decades was one of the most important in English history, resulting in the King James Bible and the Puritan Revolution. It was also important in American history, because it led to the Puritan migration to North America, and to the rejection of the monarchy that created the United States of America.
Role of English Catholics in Armada attack
While researching this report, I came across the article from the Catholic New Advent encyclopedia on the Spanish Armada attack on England in 1588. The article describes how Catholics throughout Europe supported the Spanish Armada attack against the hated Protestant Queen Elizabeth. But the article contains the following paragraph:
“There is no doubt that all the exiles for religion at that time shared Allen’s sentiments, but not so the Catholics in England. They had always been the most conservative of English parties. The resentment they felt at being persecuted led them to blame the queen’s ministers, but not to question her right to rule. To them the great power of Elizabeth was evident, the forces and intentions of Spain were unknown quantities. They might, should, and did resist until complete justification was set before them, and this was in fact never attempted. Much, for instance, as we know of the Catholic clergy then laboring in England, we cannot find that any of them used religion to advance the cause of the Armada. Protestant and Catholic contemporaries alike agree that the English Catholics were energetic in their preparations against it.”
According to another source, an English Catholic nobleman, Viscount Montague, led the defense against the Armada.
In other words, the supposedly fanatical, ideological English Catholics, at war with the heretical Protestants, sided with their nation against the Catholics.
I’ve previously mentioned that German-Americans overwhelmingly sided with America against the Nazis in World War II.
(Another example is that millions of Catholics go to Church every Sunday, but they still use birth control at home.)
We should be careful before we condemn all Muslims who are citizens of America or Europe. These people are going to be on our loyal allies, and we’re going to need their help when the time comes.
Home price index versus long-term trend (WSJ)
Home prices will have to fall another 30% from their current values, according to an analysis of the Case-Shiller home price index by Peter Schiff. Historically, US home prices have increased an average of 3.35% per year, just a little bit more than the rate of inflation. But since 1998, home prices have risen an average of 19.2% per year, putting them way above the long-term trend line, as shown by the adjoining graph. Home prices would have to decline 20% just to get back to the historic trend line, but Schiff says they’re likely to overshoot the trend line, and fall by 30%. (This is an application of the Law of Mean Reversion.) According to Schiff, if the government hadn’t intervened in the housing market, and had allowed prices to fall, then a lot more people would be able to afford homes now, and the real estate crisis would end sooner.Wall Street Journal (Access)
Bubble real estate prices in Beijing are putting homes out of reach of college graduates. It used to be that college graduates with degrees in English, international trade and computer science were in high demand. But now supply has surpassed demand, and the average monthly wage of a recent graduate from a top Chinese university is around $400 per month — just enough to buy half a square meter of an apartment in downtown Beijing. CNN
Anarchist and left-wing violence are on the rise in Europe. Time
Dozens of Coptic Christians clashed with Egyptian riot police in Cairo on Sunday, following the Saturday bomb attack at a church in Alexandria that killed 21 people. Coptic Christians will be celebrating Christmas on January 6. Bloomberg
The six-month rotating presidency of the European Union has just been assumed by Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, whom some call the last dictator in Europe. Orban has vowed to solve the “Roma problem” in Europe, but Hungary itself has a bit Roma Gypsies problem, with discrimination and numerous hate crimes directed against the Roma Gypsies. Spiegel
German officials suspect that mosques in Berlin are becoming the targets of arson and hate crimes. Spiegel
(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Jan-11 News — Britain celebrates the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Jan-2011) Permanent Link
- 2-Jan-11 News — Worldwide condemnation for terrorist attack on Coptic Christian church in Alexandria, Egypt
- Accusations of a pattern of attacks against Christians
Worldwide condemnation for terrorist attack on Coptic Christian church in Alexandria, Egypt
Raw sectarian tensions in Egypt have been exposed by the car bombing of a Coptic Christian church that killed 21 people in Alexandria, Egypt, according to Al-Jazeera.
The bombing sparked violent protests by furious Coptic Christians, and clashes with police in Alexandria. Coptic Christians make up about 10% of Egypt’s 80 million population.
However, many politicians in the West saw this as part of a continuing pattern of radical Muslim extremist attacks on Christians. An LA Times analysis points to recent terrorist attacks on Christians in Iraq, Nigeria and other countries, and point out that Christian communities in countries such as Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Iran are shrinking, as Christians emigrate.
A terrorist group linked to al-Qaeda is suspected of being responsible for the Alexandria bombing, according to Ynet.
The accusation that al-Qaeda is attacking Christians is true, but it’s only a small part of the picture. Al-Qaeda linked groups attack Shia Muslims, Sufis, Sikhs, Hindus and other religious groups in different countries.
As we’ve said many times, the al-Qaeda strategy is to replicate Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, in order to turn another country into an Islamic state, this time a Sunni state. They’ve tried this, and continuted to try it, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Somalia and other countries, and now Egypt.
The methodology is to trigger violence on the left and xenophobia on the right, and al-Qaeda appears to be succeeding.
(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Jan-11 News — Terrorist attack on Coptic Christian church in Alexandria, Egypt thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Jan-2011) Permanent Link