Us! The United States.
Pyongyang said the test was an act of self-defense against, "U.S. hostility." Um-m-m, what hostility?
Anyone remember the online video they posted last week? The one featuring a North Korean man dreaming about blowing New York City to smithereens? Look who's calling the kettle black!
The test was met with condemnation from around the globe. The White House called it a "highly provocative act that undermines regional stability" and constitutes "a threat to U.S. national security." The explosion registered a magnitude 5.1 with a yield of "several kilotons" according to the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Arms experts believe the country is making advances that will allow it to lob a nuclear-tipped missile as far as the U.S. mainland, though no analysts take them seriously. So what are they going to do about it?
Well, emergency meetings were held all over the place. South Korea and Japan got together with their top national security officials while the U.N. Security Council convened in yet another emergency session.
The end result? More sanctions, of course.
North Korea is already one of the most heavily sanctioned states in the world. "The more North Korea shoots missiles, launches satellites, or conducts nuclear tests, the more the U.N. Security Council will impose new sanctions," says Professor Shen Dingli. "It's an endless, vicious cycle," and not likely to succeed. And it gets worse, people.
According to one U.S. senior official, "(it's) very possible" that the North Koreans are being paid to test nuclear bombs for Iran. The two countries have long cooperated on missile technology, and many intelligence officials believe they share nuclear knowledge as well, though so far there is no hard evidence. President Obama said, "The danger posed by North Korea's threatening activities warrants further swift and credible action by the international community. The United States will also continue to take steps necessary to defend ourselves and our allies." Let's hope he means more than just another round of useless sanctions.
Meanwhile, the news out of Rome this week have many counting down the days to the End. Apparently, the ancient Catholic prophecies attributed to St. Malachy, a 12th-century Irish bishop, predicted the exact number of popes before the end of the world. (Move over Mayans!)
As Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation on Monday, a collective gasp was emitted. Wasn't Benedict the 111th pope?
Uh, oh. According to Malachy, there will only be 112 popes. Period. The End. Literally.
And that ain't all, folks. The centuries-old "prophecy of the Pope's", describes each of the last 112 popes with a few cryptic words that adherents insist fit like a glove.
For instance: John Paul II--Pope # 110 was associated with the phrase, "From the labor of the sun." It so happened that he was born on the day of a solar eclipse and was entombed on the day of a solar eclipse.
Next came Benedict XVI, # 111--"glory of the olive." The fulfillment? A monastic order founded by St. Benedict are known as--get this--Olivetans!
And last but not least--drum roll please--#112, with the spookiest prophecy of all: "In the extreme persecution of the Holy Roman church, there will sit Peter the Roman, (or Petrus Romanus) who will nourish the sheep in many tribulations; when they are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the dreadful judge will judge his people. The end."
And the best part? One of the prime candidates to fill spot 112 is named Peter! (and he's black, to boot! Didn't Nostradamus mention a "young red black one"?) But even if they don't pick that guy, we betcha #112 will still manage to cram that glove on. Why?
Because every pope is a successor to Peter and every pope is based in Rome, thus the name Petrus Romanus is a generic term that will fit any and all popes. We don't want to be party-poopers, but even the Catholic church doesn't vouch for the authenticity of the prophecies. According to Sister Madeleine Grace, a historical theologian at the University of St. Thomas, "There are a number of red flags. The material that implies they're talking about future popes is rather scanty indeed, and there are factual errors. The likelihood is that they're some kind of forgery."
Rule of thumb? Go with the most reliable info available. St. Malachy, Nostradamus, and the infamous Mayans all pale when compared to the amazing accuracy and detail provided by the eternal, inerrant, God-in-print, Bible.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" John 1:1.
A wise man once said: "In an effort to satisfy man's age-old curiosity about the future, modern-day prophets and astrologers are enjoying the greatest revival since the ancient days of Babylon...yet they over look the ancient seers of Israel, the Hebrew prophets. Three millenniums of history testify to their prophetic marksmanship. To ignore their incredible predictions of man's destiny and the events which are soon to effect this planet will be perhaps the greatest folly of this generation." --author Hal Lindsey
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