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There was a popular TV program from the early ’50s whose opening
jingle went something like this:

    There’s a hold-up in the Bronx;

    Brooklyn’s broken out in fights;

    There’s a traffic jam in Harlem

    That’s backed up to Jackson Heights.

    There’s a scout troop short a child;

    Khrushchev’s due at Idlewyld;

    Car 54, where are you?

The jingle reminds me of this week’s news, as we continue our
apparent slide into national and international chaos. It has an unreal
quality, as if all this really can’t be happening.

In the Middle East, a shrapnel-spewing 120-millimeter mortar was
detonated by remote control alongside an Israeli-controlled road heavily
traveled by Jewish settlers who live inside the Gaza Strip. The force of
the blast killed two teachers and wounded nine other bus passengers,
including five children, three of them critically. The three were
siblings, ranging in age from 7 to 12, who had been sitting together.
Shrapnel tore 5-inch holes through the bus’ steel frame. Many of the
wounded had arms or legs torn off. Many others underwent amputations at
hospitals. Somehow, the international press has sought to blame Israel
for the attack by virtue of the fact there were Israelis too close to
the mortar shell.

Israel responded by launching missile strikes against terrorist
strongholds in Gaza. The headquarters of Col. Mohammed Dahlan, head of
security in Gaza was hit at least a dozen times from three different
directions. Arafat did what Arafat does, exhorting his people to
violence, then denying responsibility after the fact.

The Palestinian police have officially received new rules of
engagement authorizing them to use weapons against Israeli troops.
They’ve been doing so for some time, but this is the first official
sanctioning of wartime rules of engagement.

“Our policemen will now use their guns in self defense in areas under
our full sovereignty. They have the right to respond,” said Ahmed
Abdel-Rahman, general secretary of the Palestinian Authority, at a news
conference in Ramallah, on the West Bank. He went on to say that the
heavily armed PA “police” are now “in the same trench with our people,
on one front against the Israelis.”

“The peace process is clinically dead now,” said the chief
Palestinian negotiator, Ahmed Qureia.

Egypt, the first Arab nation to ever make peace with the Jewish
state, recalled its ambassador, but stopped just short of closing the
embassy in Tel Aviv and severing ties with Israel. For the time being,
that is. In praising the Egyptian decision, one PA cabinet member, Hanan
Asfour, who is also a “peace negotiator,” called for more attacks
against both Israel and America. “We hope this will be followed by real
steps against Israel’s aggressor government and we are waiting for more
steps against Israel and its ally the United States.”

And what of the United States, given the fact America is Arab
terrorism’s No. 2 target of choice? Protesters are marching in the
streets in Florida. The fate of the presidency, for the first time in
modern history, is in doubt, while what very well may be a legislative
coup d’etat may hamstring the Congress and divide the nation right down
the middle at a time when America is in peril from enemies both without,
and within.

Political hacks, veins bulging and eyes protruding, shriek at one
another in a debate over ‘fairness’ in an election in which voters who
suspect they voted incorrectly are having their votes recounted over and
over, while military troops serving abroad are not having their
votes counted at all.

Al Gore may yet steal the U.S. presidential election, all the while
blaming George Bush for not conceding, despite the fact Bush is ahead in
every single recount. This is some kind of “alternate reality” made that
much weirder by the fact at least a third of America sees nothing wrong
with this kind of reasoning.

Lame duck president Bill Clinton returned home from Vietnam after
being lectured by the head of that nation’s Communist Party — a
particularly pathetic sight, given his efforts to avoid military service
there thirty years ago. For those who did heed the call of their nation,
it would have been a delicious irony, were it not so sad.

The stock market is rapidly tanking. Wall Street’s miracle run
appears to be over, thanks to the withdrawal of international investment
funds. The NASDAQ is down more than 25 percent, as a leaderless America
continues to pretend that non-Election 2000 is business as usual.

Saddam Hussein continues to stockpile chemical and biological weapons
unchecked. At last count, his arsenal was capable of killing every man,
woman and child on earth several times over.

The United Nations is considering sending troops into Israel to quell
the violence. Germany has filed suit against America for executing two
convicted murderers (German nationals) in violation of the Vienna
Treaty. One wonders if the U.N. will soon contemplate sending the Blue
Helmets to New York or Washington?

Somehow, there is an oddly familiar feeling to all this, despite the
unique nature of the chaos that is unfolding before our eyes. It’s a
feeling almost akin to déjà vu — familiar, although one can’t quite put
his finger on why. Like we’ve heard it all before. There’s a reason for
that.

The Bible speaks clearly of conditions as they will exist in the last
days. Wars, rumors of wars, famines, pestilences, ethnic unrest and a
complete breakdown of social conventions. It speaks to the
marginalization of reality, a loss of what Paul calls “natural
affection,” liars “speaking lies in hypocrisy,” of “having a form of
godliness but denying the power thereof” and an overall picture of
national and international chaos.

Some people will call it “coincidence,” but that’s not surprising in
an environment where truth is whatever people say it is, facts
notwithstanding. The post election rhetoric clearly demonstrates some
folks’ uncanny ability to disconnect from reality.

Reality is that all this was outlined, in detail, in advance. We read
the same words today that were being read and puzzled over in AD 555,
1492 or 1911. Today, they have a whole new meaning, although they are
precisely the same words.

We would do well to remember one more piece of text that takes on a
new dimension of reality as we read today’s headlines. When asked, “what
will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Jesus
Christ gave a detailed description of global conditions that mirror
today’s headlines. And he warned that, “when these things begin
to happen, then look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption
draws near.”

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