Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
(ll Corinthians 1:4)
Comfort Them

When Loved Ones Are Afflicted

By Steve Hearts

SEPTEMBER 28, 2016

Aside from being blind since infancy, I have so far lived with excellent health. However, having been with my mother through her two-year battle with cancer and currently helping my dad deal with the health issues he is facing has helped me realize that health is truly a gift which is not to be taken for granted. These situations have also taught me other lessons that I’ll share here.

Severe, chronic afflictions are physically and emotionally stressful, first for those who have them, and second for the ones caring for and supporting them through the ordeal. For those of us in the latter position, it can be extremely painful to see our loved ones suffer, and we tend to wish it could be us instead of them. Going through these experiences has taught me things I would have perhaps never learned otherwise.

I’ve learned to accept and depend on the grace the Lord gives. Prior to experiencing all this, talk of God’s grace seemed a bit cliché. Scriptures on this topic were too familiar for me to derive a lot of meaning from them. But it was in these times of crisis, when the health and even the lives of my loved ones were on the line, that I came to the absolute end of myself and my natural strength. Only then could I experience the fullness of God’s grace for what it truly is, and I continue to experience it today. This grace is what gives me perspective on the sentiment I mentioned earlier, of wishing I could be afflicted in place of my loved ones. I now remind myself that God’s grace is sufficient, both for others and for me.1

I must also say from personal experience that, as painful as such crises are, they have a way of strengthening family ties, possibly like nothing else can. Pet peeves and issues are quickly forgotten, and even amended, as the primary focus becomes that of helping and supporting each other through the difficulties. Similarly, if we allow them to, such critical moments can serve to minimize familiarity, making it easier to simply love and appreciate one another for who we are as we ought to.

I know a couple who are companions in both marriage and physical affliction. The husband underwent treatment for prostate cancer a few years ago, and the wife lost a leg because of diabetes. They are a wonderful testimony of strong faith in Jesus in spite of all this. The wife once told me over the telephone, “Given the many afflictions my husband and I are dealing with, we know life is just too short for us to be bogged down by familiarity with each other, so we try our best not to let it get in the way.”

Helping to care for and support physically afflicted loved ones has taught me more about compassion and understanding than I could have ever learned otherwise. I’ll be the first to admit that these virtues are gifts from the Spirit which I don’t naturally possess. But the Lord is faithful to give them to me as I request them daily.

I’ve come to realize how important it is to be aware that folks dealing with severe physical afflictions are sometimes not themselves. They are experiencing a physical and emotional roller-coaster ride. This reminder helps me have an understanding attitude, and not give in to frustration or hurt feelings because of their mood swings, emotional ups and downs, etc. I also remind myself that I would likely react in much the same way, were I in their place.

I have recently been inspired to paraphrase the advice in Hebrews 13:3: “Remember those who are [afflicted], as though [afflicted] with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” Following this counsel does indeed require the fruits of the Spirit.2 But I’m truly thankful for this, since growing in the fruits of the Spirit has always been my heart’s desire.

If you are currently caring for and supporting physically afflicted loved ones, I hope and pray the lessons shared above are helpful and encouraging. It is reassuring to know that through it all, the Lord guides us and walks with us. He is always ready to encourage and comfort us, so that we can likewise comfort others.3

1 See 2 Corinthians 12:9.
2 See Galatians 5:22–23.
3 See 2 Corinthians 1:4.

The Hagmann Report

What Bible Prophets Have Seen is Becoming Visible – War Against the Saints

By Douglas J. Hagmann – September 28, 2016

Satan’s war against the Saints, or the people of God – the followers of Jesus Christ, was prophesized and appears in the Book of Revelation. As we open the newspaper and watch the headlines, we are seeing that current events are taking a dark turn. The war that is being waged, while visible in the physical realm is deeply rooted in the spiritual. Answers and insight to the events taking place across the world exist not in the physical, however, but in the spiritual realm. What we are seeing, however, is just the beginning. It is just the start of events that have not been witnessed in human history, and will never again be seen.

Most assuredly, such assertions will be characterized as hyperbole. People will contend that such claims are overstating both current and future events. They will likely assail the Bible itself, and lump the Bible in with other so-called holy books such as the Qur’an for the purpose of outlawing not just the violent tenants of Islam, for example, but the tenants of true Christianity.

pivot

Why Successful Churches Aren’t Turning the World Upside-Down – But the Outcasts Might

Where are the Christian innovators who will put a dangerous passion for Jesus ahead of personal ministry success?

by Karl Vaters

September 16, 2016

Jesus was the most culture-challenging, paradigm-shifting, tradition-breaking, change agent who ever lived.

How did his followers become so boring?

Want cutting-edge, society-shifting change? Church is the last place people expect to find it.

Want dry, stuffy, moldy, old traditions and ideas? That may be the very definition of church in many people’s minds.

This is a problem. A big problem. And it’s our fault. We’ve taken the life- and society-transforming message of Jesus and we’ve made it about . . . success.

Trying to maintain that success has made us safe.

Safe is boring.

A Successful Church Is Not Enough

When I look around the church leadership world today, I see a lot of very good, very nice people. People who love Jesus and are doing whatever they can to make a difference. And many of them are making a difference – a much bigger difference than me, that’s for sure.

They fill up churches and even stadiums. They lead people to Jesus. And nothing – absolutely nothing – will ever be more important than that.

But is it wrong for me to feel like there’s something missing?

For example, can you name any Christian leader who has had a recognizable impact on the culture since Martin Luther King Jr. marched on Washington over 50 years ago? Anyone who inspires anything like the passion King inspires in the hearts of the average person – churchgoer, or not?

Where Are The World-Changing Leaders?

Where are the church leaders who will take up the mantle of, not just successful ministry, but life- and society-transformation?

I’m not talking about name recognition. I’m talking about leaders with such a radically positive approach to the life and message of Jesus that they have a society-shifting impact.

Where are the Christian innovators who will put a dangerous passion for Jesus ahead of personal ministry success?

I’m not upset at anyone. I just want more.

I pray for an infusion of Godly change agents who won’t just transform the institutional church, but make the world stand up and take notice. Or, more likely, change the world and leave the institutional church playing catch-up.

That won’t happen by screaming on Facebook about whatever sin happens to be trending this week. That’s been done. That’s being done. The world yawns at the self-proclaimed faith-defenders – if they even care enough to be bored by them.

When MLK opposed the sin of racism, it wasn’t because he was chasing the headlines of the day. He shone a spotlight on it so powerfully that he made it the headline of the day.

He didn’t chase the issues, he framed the issues. He didn’t pursue crowds, he made the crowds come to him. And the culture followed. Just like Jesus did 2,000 years before him.

Would We Know a Real Jesus Movement If We Saw It?

I pray for a new breed of Christian leaders who will change the world. People who make such a positive, Jesus-led impact on the ills of society that entire cultures can’t help but stand up and pay attention.

Where are the church leaders who will at least try to do

  • What Martin Luther did for faith

  • What Charles Dickens did for literature

  • What Pablo Picasso did for art

  • What Albert Einstein did for science

  • What Jackie Robinson did for sports and culture

  • What the Beatles did for music

  • What Martin Luther King Jr did for race relations

  • What a bunch of nerds in Silicon Valley and Seattle did for technology?

What did all those paradigm-shifters have in common? They were all outcasts before they became heroes. They were artists, innovators and outside-the-box thinkers and doers. Like I wrote in a previous post, the church needs artists and prophets more than we need managers right now.

That kind of life- and society transforming impact can happen through the church again. But I fear we’ve created such a success-based Christian culture that we won’t just miss it, we’re likely to preach sermons and write blog posts denouncing it.

How is a hurting world going to find healing inside the doors of a church whose leaders are obsessed with asking questions like “how will we measure the success of our latest venture?” and “how will this play to our biggest donors?”

The Jesus-following leaders who answer this call will need to be okay with ticking a lot of people off. Even – maybe especially – church people. Not because they’re trying to offend people. But because they’re so passionate about doing the Jesus stuff, they might not even notice that the cool kids are getting upset by it.

The Church Needs More Nerds and Weirdos

One of the reasons I’m such a supporter of small churches is because, as I wrote in The Grasshopper Myth, real world transformation doesn’t happen from the top-down. Those who are succeeding don’t have a reason to change things.

Any real-life, world-changing, spirit-infused, culture-shaping, paradigm-shifting, hurt-healing movement will come where it’s always come from. From the bottom-up. From the disenfranchised. From the nerds and weirdos.

True visionaries and world-changers don’t call themselves that in their Twitter profiles (beware of those who do). So they’re not easy to spot. In fact, they’re likely to deny they are either of those things. They just get busy doing those things.

Since foundation-shakers won’t pre-announce themselves, I’m keeping my eyes and ears on small, quirky churches and fringe ministries because I want to recognize the next church- and world leaders when they start doing their work. Then I want to be a Caleb to the church’s next Joshuas. A Barnabas for our future Apostle Pauls.

I pray for leaders who have such an unquenchable passion for Jesus and love for hurting people that they don’t care how many establishment Christians they alienate.

And I look forward to the day when they build their own (probably electronic) soapboxes to blast that message of transformative hope to the world.

I just pray that it happens in my lifetime. Because I want to cheer them on.

***

the FEDERALIST

What Today’s Christians Can Learn From Antiquity About Living In A Pagan World

To survive in a hostile culture, Christians must articulate and exemplify an alternative vision of human flourishing.

By Greg Scandlen

SEPTEMBER 20, 2016

Mollie Hemingway had a very nice article in The Federalist the other day in which she suggests that our society’s sexual obsession is a new religion. She writes,

This new religion has fervent adherents and strict dogma, but it’s also true that the doctrines are still being formed. Now that marriage has been redefined away from sexual complementarity, the project to redefine the sexes themselves is moving forward. The doctrines governing biological reality, monogamy, polygamy, beastiality, pedophilia, and other issues will continue to be debated in councils and forums.

She overlooks the holy sacrament of abortion in her list of dogmas: it is the one practice that is beyond debate in this new paganism. Despite the political rhetoric of “pro-choice,” this religion’s expectation is that pregnant women should get abortions and celebrate doing so on Twitter and YouTube. It doesn’t matter much if the expectant mother has been coerced by boyfriends or family members as long as the Temple of Planned Parenthood is fed new sacrifices.

Yet many facets of this “new religion” are actually depressingly familiar. Current conditions are strikingly similar to the paganism practiced in Ancient Rome around the time Christianity came along, as Rodney Stark describes in his 1996 classic “The Rise of Christianity.” Perhaps we can learn how to deal with the New Paganism by considering how Christians replaced the Old Paganism in a very short time (at least by historical standards).

Now, before atheist Federalist readers fire up their snarky comments about spaghetti monsters in the sky, relax. Stark’s book is a sociological treatise, completely avoiding any mention of divine intervention, or even much about Jesus. He even uses the secular designation of “Common Era” (C.E.) in his dates, rather than the A.D. (anno domini, or “Year of our Lord”).

What Rome Teaches Us About New Paganism

Stark examines the early Christian movement strictly on the basis of social practices, and considers how the values of the Jesus movement provided cohesion in a pagan empire that was already falling apart in the first century.

The empire’s primary problem was low fertility. It wasn’t producing enough children to replace the population. This is something we are familiar with today: Europe, Russia, and Japan all have declining populations. Roman leaders knew this was a problem and tried to encourage greater fertility. Stark writes, “In 59 B.C.E. Julius Caesar secured legislation that awarded land to fathers of three or more children (and) in the year 9 the emperor Augustus promulgated laws giving political preference to men who fathered three or more children and imposing political and financial sanctions upon childless couples.” But none of it worked. There were “serious population shortages” by the second century.

The reasons for this are many, and Stark studies them all. Rome was extremely male-dominated. Roman men didn’t have much use for women, due in part to widespread homosexuality and prostitution. Stark quotes Baryl Rawson (author of “The Family in Ancient Rome”) as writing, “one theme that recurs in Latin literature is that wives are difficult and therefore men did not care much for marriage.”

Even when Roman men did marry, it was often to prepubescent girls of age 12 or less. Abortion and infanticide (especially of female babies) were commonplace, “justified by law and advocated by philosophers”—including Seneca, Plato, and Aristotle. Plato advocated that abortion be mandatory for women over age 40. Of course, abortion was dangerous and often resulted in the death or infertility of the woman.

As a result of these practices, there was an extreme shortage of women in the Roman Empire. Stark reports that there were “131 males per 100 females in the city of Rome and 140 males to 100 females in Italy, Asia Minor, and North Africa.” It was very rare for even large families to have more than one daughter: “A study of inscriptions at Delphi made it possible to reconstruct six hundred families. Of these, only six had raised more than one daughter.”

How Christians Took Over Rome

But when Christians came on the scene, they changed all of this. They absolutely prohibited abortion and infanticide within their own ranks. They also prohibited homosexuality, applied the same standards of chastity and fidelity within marriage to both men and women, and gave women much higher social status than the Romans allowed.

Given these advantages, women were more likely to convert to Christianity than were men. The Christian community soon enjoyed a higher female to male ratio and actually had a surplus of marriageable women. Many of these women took pagan husbands and ended up converting them, resulting in a far higher fertility rate and a growing presence within the empire. Stark calculates that Christianity grew at a rate of 40 percent per decade in the years 40 to 350, from perhaps 1,000 believers in 40 A.D. to nearly 34 million by 350 A.D.

But another phenomenon also helped boost Christian growth: the sudden onset of two epidemics, one in 165 A.D. and the other in 251 A.D. The first was likely smallpox and the second measles. In each case, they produced devastating mortality, killing as much as 30 percent of the population each time.

The pagan response was to flee as far from infected people as possible. Even the famous physician Galen fled to his country estate in Asia Minor to wait until the danger was past. Neither pagan scientists, priests, nor philosophers had an explanation for the calamity—it was just the whim of the gods and nothing could be done about it.

But the Christian explanation was radically different. They believed God was testing and judging humans. Even though some of the faithful might die, they would also be rewarded in the afterlife for their response to the crisis. And what did God expect their response should be? He wrote it all down in Scripture: love your neighbor as yourself, care for the sick and the lame, act as the Good Samaritan acted. That is exactly what Christians did: they cared for one another even in the face of death.

The consequence of this caring could easily be seen as miraculous. As Stark writes, “Modern medical experts believe that conscientious nursing without any medications could cut the mortality rate by two-thirds or even more” (emphasis in original). This nursing could be as simple as providing hydration and nourishment until the patient recovered. As patients recovered, they would be immune from the disease and could care for the newly sick without fear.

So while pagans were abandoned and left to die in droves, Christians fearlessly cared for their own (and later for their pagan neighbors) and recovered in large numbers. What religion could be more appealing?

After all this, Rome did not decline because of invasion by “barbarian hordes” (as many of us were taught in school), but through depopulation. The barbarians were invited in to take over abandoned farms and serve in Roman armies, while Christianity grew to become a majority religion in just a few generations.

What Does This Mean For Christians Today?

Christians must get used to being a minority in a pagan world. We have to drop the nostalgia for the 1950s and ’60s, which were an anomaly for church attendance. For most of our country’s history fewer than 50 percent of the population attended church. Many attended church in the post-World War II period for social or business reasons, without any real understanding of the faith. Because of this, the church did indeed include many “Christians” who were bigoted and mean-spirited, and this alienated substantial numbers of people who were looking for true faith.

In today’s climate, Christians have to restore Christ’s message of love and joy—not just talking about it, but living it every day. That does not mean accommodating ourselves to the pagan world, but witnessing for Jesus within that world. We don’t win over pagans by diluting our faith, but by living it out.

To do that, we have to identify our world for what it is: pagan, not some wishy-washy term like “secular.” Today’s pagans have their own gods just as surely as the Romans and Babylonians had theirs. These include the gods of sex, political power, and celebrity, and they are every bit as futile as the Roman and Babylonian gods were. They fail to bring meaning or contentment to their devotees—instead, they bring emptiness and dissatisfaction. Worshiping such gods is sad and pathetic, and we should feel compassion for those lost in paganism, welcoming them when they arrive at our door looking for meaning.

Next, while social conditions today are not identical to those of Roman times, the similarities are striking. A society that invests itself in homosexuality and abortion will terminate itself in a generation. We may not practice infanticide today, but we have replaced it with sexually transmitted disease.

This latter is rarely discussed in pagan circles because it might deter some of the activities they treasure, but STDs have become a serious crisis in the United States. The incident rates of gonorrhea and chlamydia in the United States far surpasses that of Europe, by a factor of 10 for gonorrhea and a factor of well over 50 for chlamydia, almost entirely among young people of ages 20 to 24. Further, these diseases are evolving into “super bugs” that are resistant to antibiotics. There is currently only one form of antibiotic that is effective against gonorrhea.

Chlamydia is especially insidious. It is often asymptomatic, but can result in permanent infertility if left untreated. Yet in 2014, there were 1.4 million cases reported. That is one hell of a lot of young women who may discover a few years later that they are unable to bear children. The “hookup culture” will prove to have a bitter legacy when even the CDC is recommending monogamy as the best way to prevent the disease. Suddenly, Christian standards of behavior may look pretty appealing.

While pagan practices lead to infertility, evangelical Christians are having babies. One estimate from an atheist website is that “Mormons and Christian evangelicals have nearly twice the birth rate of non-religious Americans…” Globally, the Pew Research Center expects those with no religious affiliation to shrink from 16 percent in 2010 to 13 percent by 2050. Much of this religious growth is not Muslim but Christian, as Christianity is exploding in China and Africa.

Big Reasons for Women to Revolt Against New Paganism

Some will point out that one of the biggest differences between ancient Rome and modern pagan society is the status of women. Today women are liberated, free to be whatever they want to be. Thus, Christians no longer provide the advantages to women that they did in the early days.

That would seem to be indisputable. Yet it is also true that women disproportionately suffer the consequences of New Paganism. Women, far more than men, suffer from STDs. Women, far more than men, are left to rear children born out of wedlock. It is women who have to get abortions and suffer the emotional and physical results. It is women who suffer from sexual predators unrestrained by moral codes. It is women who are sold into the global sex trafficking market. Indeed, pagan “liberation” seems to have mostly liberated men from taking responsibility for the consequences of their own actions.

These are big prices to pay for pagan liberation. A faithful Christian community would offer women all the advantages of education, career advancement, and self-determination enjoyed by pagan women without the negative consequences. A faithful Christian community will tend to the ill and the hopeless, as we saw during the Ebola crisis. A faithful Christian community will demand moral behavior from men every bit as much as women. A faithful Christian community will identify pagan practices as sinful, but welcome such sinners with love and compassion. A faithful Christian community will see the image of God in every human being, regardless of race, class, or national origin.

Who wouldn’t be attracted to such a community? It may be the only hope left for a society that has gone so badly off the rails.

***

BREAKINGISRAELNEWS

The Temple Has “Reappeared” - You Won’t Believe How [PHOTOS]

By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz September 19, 2016 , 12:30 pm

Thus saith Hashem: The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool; where is the house that ye may build unto Me? And where is the place that may be My resting-place?” Isaiah 66:1 (The Israel Bible™)

Virtual reality depiction of the Holy Temple. (Video screenshot)

Last week, some visitors to the Western Wall (Kotel) in Jerusalem reported that they had seen the Second Temple reappear, and though the Messiah hasn’t yet arrived, the reports were indeed accurate. A new project from The Temple Mount Heritage Foundation and ArchTour is perhaps the closest you can get to experiencing the Temple, at least until it is really built.

The newly unveiled project uses virtual reality, a new technology used mainly for gaming and entertainment, in a way its innovators probably did not anticipate: immersing the user in a religious journey. The participant sits while wearing a special set of virtual reality goggles, which put him into a three-dimensional depiction of the world of the Second Temple.

Virtual reality depiction of the Holy Temple and the Temple Mount as it was 2,000 years ago. (Video screenshot)

The tour begins in the open air shuk (market) in Jerusalem of approximately 2,000 years ago. It wanders by Robinson’s Arch and the Royal Stoa in the southwest corner in all their full glory, before passing in through the gates of the Temple. The virtual tour brings “visitors” through the Temple courtyards, past the altar, into the midst of the priests and their daily activity.

Viewers have an immersive, 3D, virtual reality experience of the Holy Temple when it still stood. (Video screenshot)

The tour ends inside the Temple, where the visitor can see the menorah, the seven branched lamp, and the rack that held the show breads. Though animal sacrifices are not shown, the High Priest is seen performing the ketoret, the daily service in which the incense composed of 11 spices was burned on the small ‘Gold Altar’.

And Aharon shall burn thereon incense of sweet spices; every morning, when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn it. Exodus 30:7

The incense offering at the altar of the Second Temple. (Courtesy ArchTour)

“In order to arrive at the necessary level of accuracy required for the project, we had to consult with archaeologists and rabbinic experts,” Tal Koewyn, the public relations coordinator for the project, explained to Breaking Israel News. “Experts on the art and craftsmanship of the period advised us on the details of how it actually looked. This level of accuracy in visualizing the details of the Temple is really unprecedented.

“It is an all-inclusive experience. During your visit to the Kotel, you can see exactly how the Temple was situated relative to the present location. At the same time, you can see the actual service, down to the tiniest details.”

Virtual reality depiction of the High Priest lighting the menorah inside the Holy Temple. (Video screenshot)

Creating this project was no simple task. It entailed bringing together cutting edge technology with esoteric learning, history, and live actors. Matanel Libi, the CEO, began the project five years ago, driven by a desire to create a way for people to see the Temple in all its glory.

Though there were many projects that helped to envision the Temple – paintings, videos, three dimensional models, and actual dioramas – Libi wanted an approach that would bring all the separate parts together, allowing the participant to completely experience the entire Temple Mount as it was in the days of the Second Temple.

Eliyasaf Libi, the producer, brought together actors for a biblical epic performed on a computer-generated set. “It was a special project on many levels,” Libi told Breaking Israel News. “It was a big technical challenge, requiring a high degree of historical accuracy while working with virtual imaging. It just so happened that the actors, who had to be technically proficient, were also very spiritual and a special collection of Jews.”

An amazed viewer takes a “walk” through the Temple Mount 2,000 years ago. (Video Screenshot)

This strange blend of the old and the new was personified by Adam Propp, an Orthodox resident resident of Jerusalem who acted as a priest in the project. As a religious Jew and an actual descendant of the priestly class, he connected deeply to his role.

“I played a regular kohen (priest), and the acting affected me deeply,” he told Breaking Israel News, explaining how the acting was done on green screen, a cinematic technique in which the actors are filmed in front of a green backdrop and the set background is added in post-production.

Virtual reality depiction of the Holy Temple, showing the courtyard. (Courtesy ArchTour)

“When we were doing the Temple service, we were really saying the service, including the blessings, as it was in the Temple. All of the actions were accurate, what the kohanim really did in the Temple. It wasn’t just reading lines. When we did the priestly blessing, we stood on stairs, like in the Temple, and called out the blessings. It was a powerful experience for me, and I hope it is for the people who watch.”

Virtual reality depiction of the Holy Temple and the Temple Mount. (Video screenshot)

The virtual reality tour is adjacent to the Kotel Plaza, open to visitors without a reservation.

***

HAARETZ

Monumental Forgotten Gardens of Petra Rediscovered After 2,000 Years

Cool fountains and a huge pool in mid-desert enabled by strikingly advanced stone-carved irrigation and water storage system.

Philippe Bohstrom Sep 25, 2016 12:39 PM

The monumental 2,000-year-old pool in Petra, a waste of water that was a sign of sheer power in the desert.Leigh-Ann Bedal

Recent excavations at Petra have revealed a startlingly advanced irrigation system and water storage system that enabled the desert city's people to survive – and to maintain a magnificent garden featuring fountains, ponds and a huge swimming pool. The engineering feats and other luxuries attest to the ancient Nabatean capital's former splendor and wealth some 2,000 years ago.

Petra is perhaps best known for its sandstone canyon that leads directly to Al Khazneh, The Treasury, seen in the climax to "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" where the hero archaeologists, played by Harrison Ford and Sean Connery, ride out of the canyon and into the Treasury in their quest for the Holy Grail.

However, 2,000 years ago, Petra was renowned for completely different reasons. It was one of the most famous water stops in the Middle East, where camel caravan routes linked distant cities. Now archaeologists are discovering the Nabataean capital, situated in the southwestern deserts of Jordan, once was adorned with an exquisite, artificially irrigated garden. It featured paths likely shaded by vines, trees and date palms, and grasses, which were cultivated next to a huge, 44-meter wide swimming pool.

The Nabataeans’ ability to tame nature, and conspicuous consumption of a precious resource, water, was pure propaganda. It was a means to display wealth and power, which they could do thanks to the ingenious hydraulic system they invented, which allowed the people not only to reserve enough water for their own needs, but to water the lavish garden with fountains and an open-air pool. It had previously been unthinkable that water, a scarce resource in the desert wastes, would have been used for anything but necessity.

"The pool marks the terminus for an aqueduct that transported water from one of the springs, 'Ein Brak, located in the hills outside of Petra," Leigh-Ann Bedal, associate professor of anthropology from the Penn State Behrend College, told Haaretz. "The pool’s monumental architecture and verdant garden served as a visual celebration of the Nabataeans’ success at providing water to the city center."

Ongoing excavations in Petra have uncovered a shaft that appears to have led water more than 10 meters downward, from the aqueduct system to the pool level. The archaeologists have also found underground channels that helped control runoff during the rainy season, revealing the true complexity of the system for the first time.

Water shaft in ancient Petra: Through it, water cleverly harvested from what little rain there is in the Jordanian desert was lowered to the level of the pool.Leigh-Ann Bedal

The intricate system of channels, ceramic pipelines, underground cisterns and water tanks, which also filtered the water, allowed the people of Petra to cultivate crops, harvest fruit, produce wine and olive oil as well as build a lavish garden with a monumental open air pool in the middle of the desert.

Slaking the camels' thirst, for a charge

Many cities of the ancient world straddled rivers, whose abundant water nourished and protected them. But Petra, situated on the northwest border of the Arabian Desert, rose to prominence because of the lack of water.

Petra stood at the crossroads of two important trade routes. One linked the Red Sea with Damascus. The other linked the Persian Gulf with Gaza, on the shores of the Mediterranean. Caravans from the Gulf, loaded with precious cargoes of spices, had to cross the vast wastes of the Arabian Desert, trekking for weeks before finally arriving at the narrow canyon that was the welcoming entrance to Petra. Petra meant food and lodging and, above all, cool, refreshing water.

Naturally, the citizens of Petra did not provide these comforts free of charge. The Roman historian Pliny reports that – beside the payments for fodder and lodging - gifts had to be given to the guards, the gatekeepers, the priests, and the king’s servants (Natural History, Book XII). But the exorbitant prices that spices and perfumes could fetch in the prosperous cities of Europe kept the caravans coming, filling up the treasuries of Petra.

The Paradise of Petra

The gardens were practically a miracle. Petra only gets 10 to 15 centimeters of rain a year (now in the era of climate change, it may get even less). That's just 4 to 6 inches. Without developing techniques to to channel, purify and even pressurize and store water, Petra could not have existed.

As was done in Jerusalem too, for instance, the people of Petra carved out channels, reservoirs, and cisterns from the solid rock, even "tanks" that purified water.

Practically every drop of rain that fell around Petra was collected and conserved, and springs were channeled to pipes that emptied into literally hundreds of cisterns carved underground, ensuring a reliable supply of drinking and bathing water in the heart of the desert, regardless of the season.

Describing Petra in the late-first century BCE, the Greek historian, Strabo wrote that there were "abundant springs of water both for domestic purposes and for watering gardens" (Geog. XVI.4.2 1)

Botanical studies show that the garden was highly ornate, adorned with palm trees and grass species. The archaeologists also found charred seeds and nut shells, but what that means remains to be seen.

“The charred seeds and nut shells we find are most likely from fertilizer, and so are not evidence that those plants themselves grew in the garden,” Bedal told Haaretz.

Hasmonean tastes for luxury

The monumental swimming pool, a monster even wider than today's standard Olympic pools, was built around the 1st century BCE.

Pools began to become trendy in the region in the previous century, the 2nd century BCE. The Hasmonean rulers of Judah built pools surrounded by gardens at their palaces. The Hasmonean palace in Jericho, an equally arid place, had no less than seven.

Herod the Great, the Roman vassal king of Judah, continued the tradition, building a monumental swimming pool with a sunken garden in his third winter palace at Jericho. The Herodian design, with an island pavilion, decorative tiles, molding and a large garden terrace, is almost identical to the garden pool at Petra.

City carved in rock

The citizens of Petra not only knew how to work with water, they were also masters at masonry. The very name Petra, which means “Mass of Rock,” summons up visions of stone. And Petra was indeed a city of stone, unlike any other in the Roman world. The Nabataeans painstakingly carved their houses, tombs, and temples out of the solid rock. The red sandstone mountains in which Petra was nestled were perfectly suited for this, and by the first century C.E., a monumental city had arisen in the middle of the desert.

Perhaps the most visually stunning testimony of the Nabatean mastery over stone is the Treasury, an imposing structure carved out of a massive cliff. The structure was named after the huge stone urn that crowns the building and that supposedly stored gold and precious stones. The urn is actually made out of solid stone.

However, whatever Steven Spielberg imagined, the structure does not lead into a deep labyrinth that hides the Holy Grail. Instead the Treasury holds a relatively small hall once used as a royal tomb.

The city also features tombs carved into the cliff face, tombs so tall they dwarf anyone daring to venture into their dark interiors.

Petra survived for centuries, but once Rome formally took possession of the city in 106 C.E., its importance in international trade began to wane. A colonnade and theater testify to the Roman presence in the city during the first and second centuries. But in time, the Romans developed sea-lanes to the East, the overland spice trade collapsed and Petra was gradually abandoned to the desert sands. It would finally succumb at the end of the Byzantine Empire's rule, around 700 C.E.

Ancient structures in Jordan's Petra photographed in February 2016. Sam McNeil/AP

***

WND

THE HARBINGER OF BAAL APPEARS IN NYC!

Exclusive: Jonathan Cahn explains unveiling of arch that led to temple of ancient god

Published: September 25, 2016

Another harbinger has appeared in the land – and this one in New York City.

In the last days of ancient Israel, warnings, prophetic signs and harbingers appeared in the land, foreshadowing the judgment to come. The nation ignored these harbingers and headed to destruction.

In “The Harbinger,” the mystery is revealed that those same harbingers and warnings of national judgment have now appeared on American soil. But in the ancient case, Israel ignored the warnings and plunged even deeper into apostasy, immorality, ungodliness and brazen defiance of God. America is following the exact same template of judgment, the same course and the same progression.

But Israel’s defiance of God was linked to a specific entity – the god Baal. Baal was the god to whom they sacrificed their children, before whom they practiced sexual immorality and called good “evil” and evil “good.” Baal was the god in whose name Israel persecuted the prophets and the righteous of their day.

Baal was their anti-god, their substitute for the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the god of their apostasy and the god of their destruction. Baal was their devil god. In fact the name for satan, Beelzebul and Beelzebub, is derived from Baal – meaning “Baal of the flies” and “Baal of dung.”

So in the template of “The Harbinger,” when the judgment finally fell, when the ancient kingdom of Israel was wiped off the earth, the people were worshiping Baal. In the last days of Israel, when the harbingers appeared, they appeared in a land covered with the images of Baal. It was the worship of Baal that ultimately brought about the harbingers of judgment. Thus Baal was the god of the harbingers.

What about America? If America is following in the footsteps of ancient Israel away from God and to judgment, could there be a link to Baal? Of course, no one in America would admit to worshiping Baal. But the truth is American culture is filled with other gods and idols. When a civilization turns away from God, it always ends up bringing in other gods in His place. We just don’t call them gods.

As much as America has driven God out of its life and waged war against His ways, as much as America has sacrificed millions of its unborn children, as much as it has called evil “good” and good “evil,” as much as it has celebrated sexual immorality, and as much as it has persecuted the righteous – it is following after the god Baal, animated by the spirit of Baal.

An ancient altar of Baal.

So could the sign of Baal actually appear on American soil?

The idea that anything linked to an ancient Canaanite god would be erected in America would seem unthinkable. But just as it was with the nine ancient harbingers of judgment, so it has now taken place – the Sign of Baal has manifested on American soil.

It took place on a rainy Monday afternoon, Sept. 19, 2016. It happened in the city of the harbingers of judgment – New York City. No one who erected it or who unveiled it had any idea what they were doing – just as with the harbingers – but they did it anyway.

One of the centers of Baal worship in ancient times was Palmyra, Syria. The city contained not one but two prominent temples to Baal. The Romans erected an arch there to lead to the Temple of Baal. So the worshipers of Baal would walk through the arch and approach the temple in which they would venerate their god. This arch that led to the Temple of Baal was reproduced down to the smallest detail and erected in New York City.

It was erected in the park outside City Hall. It sat covered in a giant sheet to keep it cloaked until the time of its unveiling. Seats were set up around the veiled arch so that leaders and dignitaries could watch.

Before the moment of unveiling, a live band began playing Middle Eastern music. As one listened to the drumbeat, one could imagine similar music being played as worshipers ascended the ancient Temple of Baal.

A black slate of stone sat at the side of the arch reminding the people of the connection. On the slate was an image of an ancient temple with the words “Temple of Bel (Baal).

Among the dignitaries and media gathered were a handful of God’s people, a man with a shirt bearing witness to Jesus, another carrying a cross with the inscription Jeremiah 1:5 and still others silently bearing witness.

And then the moment came: to the sound of the Middle Eastern instruments, and to the applause of those gathered, the giant sheet was pulled off of the object to reveal the ancient arch – looking very much the same as it would have to Baal’s ancient worshipers in Palmyra – only now it stood in a new land – America.

As I stared at the ancient object being set up in New York City, I was struck in the same way as I was when I saw the nine prophetic signs of “The Harbinger.” Since 9/11, America has not only not returned to God – it has rebelled against Him in an ever deepening, ever intensifying and ever accelerating apostasy. It is eerily following the judgment template of the harbingers and the footsteps of ancient Israel as it headed to destruction.

And now, against all odds, the sign of Baal has appeared on American soil, the sign of a nation that had once known God, having fallen away, the sign of the god of the harbingers, the sign of national apostasy, the sign of judgment.

When I stood on Capitol Hill, one year earlier, and spoke before leaders and members of Congress, I said this:

As Elijah stood on top of Mount Carmel and cried out to Israel in its hour of decision, in between two altars and two gods, his voice now cries out to America and says to us, “Choose you this day whom you will serve.” Seventy years ago, the chaplain of the United States Senate cried out in the same voice, and said to this nation, “If the Lord be God, then folllow Him! But if Baal, then follow him … and go to hell!”

As I watched the unveiling of the ancient monument in New York City, I feared the coming true of those words – an America now turning to Baal … and going to hell.

***

WMD

3RD WORLD WAR 'IS TAKING PLACE IN SYRIA'

2 sides becoming proxies for conflict between powers

Published: September 29, 201631

Syria’s Bashar al-Assad

One of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s most important political allies told Russian media it is time to “admit a Third World War is taking place in Syria, one which is led by the U.S. and its allies – even if these allies are simultaneously victims as well.”

And while the startling comments seem extreme, pastor Carl Gallups, author of the new book “When The Lion Roars,” and a student of Middle Eastern geopolitics, says he finds it hard to disagree with that analysis.

The declaration World War III is already underway came from Tarek Ahmad of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, one of the parties which forms part of the pro-Assad coalition in the shattered country.

The party’s armed wing, “the Eagles of the Whirlwind,” has lent support to the Assad regime in the ongoing civil war. Ahmad accused America of trying to secure “control of the world” and subduing any independent world power, including China and Russia.

The comments come at a time of sharply increased tension in Syria, as a newly brokered “ceasefire” has already collapsed after only a week. American diplomats also abruptly have increased their anti-Russian rhetoric in recent days, accusing Russia of supporting “barbarism” by backing Assad.

Meanwhile, Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, said peace is “almost an impossible task now” and alleged the United States is sending heavy weapons to Islamist rebel groups in Syria, including the al-Nusra Front, which was formerly aligned with al-Qaida.

The Syrian military also is claiming it has a record of the U.S. military communicating directly with ISIS during a bombing raid which killed dozens of Syrian Army personnel.

The Syrian government accused the United States of deliberately bombing Syrian soldiers and then halting the attack when ISIS forces advanced.

Gallups said the situation in Syria closely resembles that of the Spanish Civil War, which became a proxy war between the great powers which ultimately preceded the cataclysm of world war. Just as the Germany and Italy backed the Nationalists in Spain while the Soviet Union backed the Republicans, the Syrian conflict also sees great powers fighting each other through local allies.

In Syria, Iran and its ally, Russia, have been closely backing the Assad regime with military and financial aid. There have also been reports of Chinese military involvement on Assad’s side.

Meanwhile, the American government and several Arab states continue to push for Assad’s overthrow.

However, many of the weapons and equipment being sent to the so-called “moderate” rebels are actually supplying Islamic extremists, including the Islamic State itself. Thus, both the Russian-led alliance and the American-led bloc can accuse the other of being responsible for atrocities and war crimes.

There have also been several close calls between Russian and American military forces, with Russian jets even “buzzing” U.S. Navy destroyers in a “simulated attack.” A mistake by either side could easily lead to a fatal incident.

“The U.S. is on a collision course with Russia and China in the Middle East,” observed WND founder Joseph Farah last year.

Gallups said both as a student of history and an expert in prophecy, the recent headlines about the situation in Syria send “cold chills down my spine.” He argued the situation in Syria is critical to understanding eschatology.

“The declarations of the Word of God are literally leaping off the pages of the Bible and landing directly in today’s news announcements,” he argued. “The frightening thing is that most of the world has no idea what it is seeing in regards to prophecy. Sadly, neither does most of today’s church which is often consumed by watered down preaching, attracting big crowds and obtaining fancy facilities rather than preaching the truths of Scripture.”

In “When the Lion Roars,” Gallups describes what he calls the “prophetic linking between Syria, Russia, China, Iran and Turkey.”

Gallups also noted the repeated warnings of an imminent world war from a huge variety of prominent world figures, including Pope Francis and even a Democratic Party congresswoman.

The pastor observed there are two biblical passages that appear to point directly to Syria, specifically to the utter destruction of the Syrian capital of Damascus as being a sign of the last days.

Isaiah 17:1-3 speaks of Damascus becoming a “heap of ruins,” and Jeremiah 49:23-27 speaks of God setting “fire to the walls of Damascus.”

Gallups believes both of these passages refer to future events, not prophecies that have already been fulfilled. And he argues with the active involvement of almost every great power in the current Syrian civil war, the destruction of Damascus and a global conflict that will eventually involve Israel seems not just plausible, but likely.

“Geopolitics has ebbs and flows, and so it is always dangerous to make certain predictions,” said Gallups. “But few statesmen thought the local conflicts and grievances that preceded the two world wars were going to spiral out of control the way they did.

“So it seems obvious to ask whether the time Jesus spoke of when he warned of ‘wars and rumors of wars,’ and ‘nations rising against nations and kingdoms rising against kingdoms’ has arrived. Was He referring to our historical generation? We are the only historical generation in history that could be called the ‘generation of world wars.’ Additionally, only our generation has seen the re-establishment of Israel. We see the Jewish state surrounded by enemies. And now, in the very locations where it was prophesied, we see every major global power on the brink of war in the Holy Land.

“Many world leaders, and ordinary people, seem to be possessed by a kind of angst that we are not far at all, short of a miraculous intervention, from a horrific conflict. And I have to count myself among them.

“Indeed, we are living in the most profoundly prophetic times since the first coming of Jesus Christ. Right now, the ‘Lion of Prophecy’ is roaring in Syria. But, does anyone hear its warning?”

***

Dave Hodges – The Common Sense Show

Alt Media Will Be Gone in 6 Months Unless We Act Quickly- Major Update

We do not have to wait for Obama’s giveaway of the Internet to ICANN to bring about mass censorship of the Independent Media. The attacks are already commencing.

This morning, I was banned from Facebook for posting a video about how my small community defeated the New World Order by restoring our lost property rights when the forces of John McCain and the Central American Free Trade Agreement/CANAMEX Highway Corridor were trying to force myself and 300 of my neighbors off of their land without compensation.

Now, I have learned that Youtube has a new program called Heroes which will bring an end to all patriot community participation on Youtube. Trolls as young as 13 years old will have the ability flag Youtube sites that they don’t like. Three flags results in the deletion of the Youtube Channel.

No, I am not making this up. The Patriot community will go extinct, in the near future, with regard to bringing the public the truth. Yes, I am talking about 100% censorship within months. And you can bet that this will not end with the elimination of the Independent Media from the Internet, Youtube and Facebook.

UPDATE

From an insider source who tells me that this is a coordinated effort between Google and the United Nations, who, in effect, will control our Internet thanks to Obama’s giveaway to ICANN.

I asked how set in stone is this takeover and elimination of Patriot participation into social media and was told the only thing that has given them pause is the consumer power of the American people. If only 20% of America were to make it known, and then follow through with a boycott of all products sold by any of these outlets, the retail fallout would be enormous. In this fragile economy, it could lead to a depression. As it was explained to me, the globalists would rather takeover an intact economy and not contend with millions of Americans in the street. This has given them pause. but this insidious plot is going forward.

What now makes sense to me is why The Common Sense Show is now banned from Facebook. I was in the middle distributing a story to about 130 groups when the plug was pulled on group #5. What was the story? It was the story of how my community, with myself as the spokesperson took on the globalists and John McCain preserved the ownership over our homes, when the globalists wanted us off our land, without compensation. In the podcast I was delivering, I detailed some of the actions we took to stop this tyranny.

It now makes sense that Facebook did not want a successful story of defiance, against the globalists, to be distributed for the masses to see because i was equating the lessons learned, from a small community, to what we could do on a national basis.

***

RT

Duterte ‘about to cross the Rubicon’ with US, wants alliances with Russia & China

Published time: 26 Sep, 2016 17:42

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has reiterated his intention to distance his country from the US, its former colonial master, saying he is about to pass “the point of no return” with the US.

"I am about to cross the Rubicon between me and the US," the controversial Pacific leader told reporters, without elaborating.

Duterte reiterated that the Philippines would seek closer ties with Russia and China, the two nations that challenged American ambition for global leadership. But, he added, the ties with the US would not be broken completely, only driven to a point that would allow Manila to have an independent policy.

"I am ready to not really break [US] ties but we will open alliances with China and... [Dmitry] Medvedev, he is waiting there [in Russia] for my visit," Duterte said, referring to the Russian prime minister.

The remarks came just as the Philippines and the US prepare to hold joint naval exercises in October. Such drills have over the years served to cemented the military alliance between the two countries.

Duterte earlier said he would seek a termination of the treaty which allows US soldiers to maintain a presence in his country's south. He also said he would buy weapons from Russia and China to decrease reliance on America in defense matters, and that Manila would not participate in a maritime conflict were it to be initiated by Washington, despite a 1951 treaty requiring it to do so.

The militaries on both sides said the president's statements would not undermine their cooperation.

Speaking on Monday, Duterte also dismissed concerns expressed last week by the rating agency Standard and Poor's, which said the sluggish performance of the Philippines economy and Duterte's controversial remarks may prompt it to revise the country's rating.

"Never mind about the ratings," the president said. "I will open up the Philippines for them to do business, alliances of trade and commerce."

Duterte came to power on the image of being a tough guy and the promise to fight drug crimes the way he did during his tenure as mayor of Davao City. The no-holds-barred approach to narcotics earned him the nickname ‘the Punisher’ after the mafia-fighting vigilante character from the Marvel comic books.

The president said he would welcome the United Nations, European Union and United States to investigate alleged unlawful killings during his ongoing anti-drug campaign, but only under Philippine laws.

***

BREITBART

Parenting Magazine Warns ‘Blond, Cheerful’ Families Dangerous, Likely Right Wing

by VIRGINIA HALE25 Sep 20162,067

Parenting magazine Baby & Family has told readers to beware of families who are “inconspicuous” and “cheerful”, as these warning signs indicate they are right wing and thus “dangerous”.

Depicted with illustrations featuring solely blonde women and children, the report says ordinary parents must take action against right-wing families and make clear that their ideology has no place in the world.

Asserting that the term “right wing” “stirs up anxiety” and brings to mind “burning refugee homes”, skinheads, and the National Socialist Underground (NSU) group who carried out a string of violent attacks on foreign people, Baby & Family notes that people “rarely connect it with women, family and children”.

This, the high-circulation German magazine declares, “is precisely the great risk” as such people are just as dangerous if not more so as gangs of Nazi skinheads. The identifying features of right-wing families, it contends, are that they are “inconspicuous, blond, cute and engaged”.

“First of all, [right-wing families] are nice and dedicated” Michaela Köttig, sociologist and researcher of right-wing extremism at the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences, alleges.

Researcher of right-wing politics, Eva Prausner, says a huge danger of right-wing families is that they seem normal.

Because of this, she says many parents will already have established good relations with them to the point that they “are no longer marginalised and at worst, get support”.

While there are different types of right-wing families, Baby & Family asserts that daycare centres should always seek help when dealing with them.

“The right has many forms. The definition of what is extreme and what is not is difficult”, it says, but asserts that all manifestations must be dealt with because right wingers could spread their views when meeting with other parents in the playground.

Heike Radvan of the controversial Amadeu Antonio Foundation warns that “children of right-wing parents are not necessarily different from other children”, but says they are often “very obedient” and might not talk much.

Despite asserting that such children are not outspoken, the “experts” wheeled out by the magazine warn that a sinister aspect of right-wing parenting is that they instil self-confidence in their progeny.

They do this, Prausner posits, in hope that “their offspring will later confidently carry their ideology into the world”.

Köttig explains that right-wing families are not unlike ordinary families in that they teach their own values. The important difference with extreme right-wing groups, however, is that these values are “strongly geared at Germanic customs and traditions”.

Prausner says “right-wing kids” are aware that they should keep their family lives private, but she adds that a telltale sign of right-wing extremism is that there are usually no American logos on their parents’ clothing.

This is not to say there aren’t visual signs which can indicate a child is from a right-wing family, however, the researcher points out. Prausner warns that, while most people wouldn’t recognise them as such, “accurate braids and long skirts” serve as a warning sign that a child has right-wing parents.

The report advises some ways in which daycare centres can prepare for the event that right-wing parents register their children with them. It advises introducing a policy and mission statement to set out values for which the nursery stands.

Mothers and fathers should get involved in the parents’ council to take action against right-wing parents, Baby & Family notes. They should “not be afraid to confront [right-wing parents] directly”, it states.

“Even if it is difficult, you should immediately set limits and say that you do not want to hear this,” Köttig says. Radvan, meanwhile, declares: “Understanding has no place in such situations.”

Thomas Feist, MP for the ruling Christian Democratic Union party (CDU), has requested that the government stop funding the Antonio Amadeus Foundation, pointing out that the supposed “charity” hosts and rewards threats of violence, and denunciations of people on its website.

The body was founded, and is run by, ex-Stasi agent Anetta Kahane who has declared it vital for the European Union to change its immigration policy in order to turn the continent non-white.

She said: “This is very important; you have to change the educational system and the self-understanding of the states. They are not only white anymore or only Swedish or only Portuguese or only German. They are multicultural places in the world.”

Despite how, as Feist points out, the far-left organisation’s website is now singling out the CDU and some of its politicians as dangerous and right wing, the foundation runs the government’s crackdown on people who criticise open door mass migration and the violent behaviour of migrants towards the German people.

***

BREITBART

World Bank Chief: Sweden Should Create Independent Migrant State Where Laws Don’t Apply

by OLIVER JJ LANE23 Sep 2016750

Sweden could solve their migrant problem by creating a new state-within-a-state where national laws don’t apply and sending thousands of migrants and so-called refugees there, the incoming chief economist of the influential World Bank has said.

Paul Romer, director of New York University’s Stern School of Business Urbanisation Project, made the remarks about his unusual approach to Sweden’s migrant crisis this week in an interview with the national newspaper Dagens Nyhter. Suggesting the zone could model itself on British Hong Kong, the senior economist said it could bring enormous benefit at no cost to the taxpayer.

Explaining his plan, the economist said: “The refugee issue is a huge problem, but there are possible solutions. Sweden, a sparsely populated country, could rent out a land area the size of Hong Kong.

“That could take millions of people who would support themselves, and not have to cost anything… It is important that this free zone should be considered independent, with its own laws and rules, and not as part of Sweden.

“Those who live there would not be Swedish citizens, but would live their lives completely separately from the rest of society.”

The economist has already suggested a similar zone for the United States, using the land in Guantanamo Bay to create an autonomous colony for refugees and migrants.

To make the zone work, Romer said there would have to be strong border controls with the rest of Sweden”making it impossible for free zone inhabitants to move to the other side of the border”. Freeing the migrants from restrictive labour laws such as the minimum wage and working time limits would stimulate economic growth within the zone, he said.

The basis for this assumption again rests with Hong Kong — the low regulation British crown colony which was one of the richest places on the earth — and that the arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrants would follow those who came from China and would be hard working and productive.

There are other real-world examples of where this has worked — the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, a small parcel of land in northern Europe geographically isolated from the bulk of the nation — is the fastest growing region of Russia and per-capita, one of the richest.

Yet the European experience of newly arrived migrants has predominantly not been like that of Hong Kong, where Chinese arrivals were entrepreneurial. Despite initial optimism about the power of mass migration fueled by the refugee crisis to solve Germany’s demographic issues and fill gaps in the labour force, employment of so-called refugees has been stunted.

Of the over one million migrants that arrived in 2015, most have been found to be “unemployable” as the vast majority have absolutely no qualifications whatsoever. Just 54 had found employment with top German firms, despite a significant government-backed drive for publicly listed German businesses to hire asylum seekers.

NEO

Washington Tries to Break BRICS – Rape of Brazil Begins

Author: F. William Engdahl

24.09.2016

Washington’s regime change machinery has for the time being succeeded in removing an important link in the alliance of large emerging nations by railroading through a Senate impeachment of the duly elected President, Dilma Rousseff. On August 31 her Vice President Michel Temer was sworn in as President. In his first speech as president, the cynical Temer called for a government of “national salvation,” asking for the trust of the Brazilian people. He indicated plans to reform, and has also signaled his intention to overhaul the pension system and labor laws, and cut public spending, all themes beloved of Wall Street banks, of the International Monetary Fund and their Washington Consensus. Now after less than three weeks at the job, Temer has unveiled plans for wholesale privatization of Brazil’s crown jewels, starting with oil. The planned Wall Street rape of Brazil is about to begin.

It’s important to keep in mind that elected President Rousseff was not convicted or even formally charged with any concrete act of corruption, even though the pro-oligarchy mainstream Brazil media, led by O’Globo Group of the billionaire Roberto Irineu Marinho, ran a media defamation campaign creating the basis to railroad Rousseff into formal impeachment before the Senate. The shift took place after the opposition PMDB party of Temer on March 29 broke their coalition with Rousseff’s Workers’ Party, as accusations of Petrobras-linked corruption were made against Rousseff and former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

On August 31, 61 Senators voted to remove her while 20 voted against removal. The formal charge was “manipulation of the state budget” before the 2014 elections to hide the size of the deficit. She vehemently denies the charge. Indeed, the Senate issued its own expert report that concluded there was “no indication of direct or indirect action by Dilma” in any illegal budgetary maneuvers. According to the Associated Press, “Independent auditors hired by Brazil’s Senate said in a report released Monday that suspended President Dilma Rousseff didn’t engage in the creative accounting she was charged with at her impeachment trial.” Under an honest system that would have ended the impeachment then and there. Not in Brazil.

In effect, she was impeached for the dramatic decline in the Brazilian economy, a decline deliberately pushed along as US credit rating agencies downgraded Brazilian debt, and international and mainstream Brazilian media kept the Petrobras corruption allegations in the spotlight. Importantly, the Senate did not ban her from office for 8 years as Washington had hoped, and she has promised an electoral return. The Washington-steered Temer has until end of 2018 to deliver Brazil to Temer’s foreign masters before his term legally ends.

Notably, Temer himself was accused of corruption in the Petrobras state oil company investigations. He reportedly asked the then-head of the transportation unit of Petróleo Brasileiro SA in 2012 to arrange illegal campaign contributions to Temer’s party which was running a Washington-backed campaign to oust Rousseff’s Workers’ Party. Then this June, only days into his serving as acting president, two of Temer’s own chosen ministers, including the Minister of Transparency, were forced to resign in response to allegations that they sought to subvert the probe into massive graft at Petrobras.

One of the two, Temer’s extremely close ally Romero Jucá, was caught on tape plotting Dilma’s impeachment as a way to shut down the ongoing Petrobras corruption investigation, as well as indicating that Brazil’s military, the media, and the courts were all participants in the impeachment plotting.

In brief, the removal of Dilma Rousseff and her Workers’ Party after 13 years in Brazil’s leadership was a new form of Color Revolution from Washington, one we might call a judicial coup by corrupt judges and congressmen. Of the 594 members of the Congress, as the Toronto Globe and Mail reported, “318 are under investigation or face charges” while their target, President Rousseff, “herself faces no allegation of financial impropriety.”

The day after the first Lower House impeachment vote in April, a leading member of Temer’s PSDP party, Senator Aloysio Nunes, went to Washington, in a mission organized by former Bill Clinton Secretary of State Madeline Albright’s lobbying firm, Albright Stonebridge Group. Nunes, as president of the Brazilian Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, has repeatedly advocated that Brazil once again move closer to an alliance with the US and UK.

Madeline Albright, a Director of the leading US think-tank, Council on Foreign Relations, is also chair of the prime US Government “Color Revolution” NGO, the National Democratic Institute (NDI). Nothing fishy here, or? Nunes reportedly went to Washington to rally backing for Temer and the unfolding judicial coup against Rousseff.

A key player from the side of Washington, Rousseff’s de facto political executioner, was, once again, Vice President Joe Biden, the “Dick Cheney” dirty operator-in-chief in the Obama Administration.

Biden’s fateful Brazil trip

In May, 2013, US Vice President Joe Biden made a fateful visit to Brazil to meet with President Rousseff. In January 2011 Rousseff had succeeded her Workers’ Party mentor, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, or Lula, who constitutionally was limited to two consecutive terms. Biden went to Brazil to discuss oil with the new President. Relations between Lula and Washington had chilled as Lula backed Iran against US sanctions and came economically closer to China.

In late 2007 Petrobras had discovered what was estimated to be a mammoth new basin of high-quality oil on the Brazilian Continental Shelf offshore in the Santos Basin. In total the Brazil Continental Shelf could contain over 100 billion barrels of oil, transforming the country into a major world oil and gas power, something Exxon and Chevron, the US oil giants wanted to control.

In 2009, according to leaked US diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks, the US Consulate in Rio wrote that Exxon and Chevron were trying in vain to alter a law advanced by Rousseff’s mentor and predecessor in her Brazilian Workers’ Party , President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva. That 2009 law made the state-owned Petrobras chief operator of all offshore oil blocs. Washington and the US oil giants were not at all pleased at losing control over potentially the largest new world oil discovery in decades.

Lula had not only pushed ExxonMobil and Chevron out of the controlling position in favor of the state-owned Petrobras, but he also opened Brazilian oil exploration to the Chinese, since 2009 a core member of the BRICS developing nations with Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa.

In December, 2010 in one of his last acts as President, Lula oversaw signing of a deal between the Brazilian-Spanish energy company Repsol and China’s state-owned Sinopec. Sinopec formed a joint venture, Repsol Sinopec Brasil, investing more than $7.1 billion towards Repsol Brazil. Already in 2005 Lula had approved formation of Sinopec International Petroleum Service of Brazil Ltd as part of a new strategic alliance between China and Brazil.

In 2012 in a joint exploration drilling, Repsol Sinopec Brasil, Norway’s Statoil and Petrobras made a major new discovery in Pão de Açúcar, the third in block BM-C-33, which includes the Seat and Gávea, the latter one of the world’s 10 largest discoveries in 2011. USA and British oil majors were nowhere to be seen.

Biden’s task was to sound out Lula’s successor, Rousseff, about reversing that exclusion of US major oil companies in favor of the Chinese. Biden also met with leading energy companies in Brazil including Petrobras.

While little was publicly said, Rousseff refused to reverse the 2009 oil law in a way that would be suitable to Biden, Washington and US oil majors. Days after Biden’s visit came the Snowden NSA revelations that the US had also spied on Rousseff and top officials of Petrobras. She was livid and denounced the Obama Administration that September before the UN General Assembly for violating international law. She cancelled a planned Washington visit in protest. After that, US-Brazil relations took a dive.

After his May 2013 talks with Rousseff, Biden clearly gave her the kiss of death.

Before Biden’s May 2013 visit Dilma Rousseff had 70% of popularity rating. Less than two weeks after Biden left Brazil, nationwide protests by a very well-organized group called Movimento Passe Livre, over a nominal 10 cent bus fare increase, brought the country virtually to a halt and turned very violent. The protests bore the hallmark of typical “Color Revolution” or Twitter social media destabilizations that seem to follow Biden wherever he makes a presence. Within weeks Rousseff’s popularity plummeted to 30%.

Washington had clearly sent a signal that Rousseff had to change course or face serious problems. The Washington regime change machine, including its entire array of financial warfare operations ranging from a leaked PwC audit of Petrobras to Wall Street credit rating agency Standard & Poors’ downgrade of Brazil public debt to junk in September 2015, went into full action to remove Rousseff, a key backer of the BRICS New Development Bank and of an independent national development strategy for Brazil.

Selling the Crown Jewels

The man who has now manipulated himself into the Presidency, the corrupt Michel Temer, worked as an informer for Washington the entire time. In documents released by Wikileaks, it was revealed that Temer was an informant to US intelligence since at least 2006, via telegrams to the US embassy in Brazil classified by the Embassy as “sensitive” and “for official use only.”

Washington’s man in Brazil, Temer, has lost no time appeasing his patrons in Wall Street. Even as acting President this May, Temer named Henrique Meirelles as Minister of Finance and Social Security. Meirelles, a Harvard-educated former President of the Brazilian central bank, was President of BankBoston in the USA until 1999, and was with that bank in 1985 when it was found guilty of failing to report $1.2 billion in illegal cash transfers with Swiss banks. Meirelles is now overseeing the planned selloff of Brazil’s “crown jewels” to international investors, a move that is intended to gravely undercut the power of the state in the economy. Another of Temer’s key economic advisers is Paulo Leme, former IMF economist and now Goldman Sachs Managing Director of Emerging Markets Research. Wall Street is in the middle of the Temer-led economic rape of Brazil.

On September 13, Temer’s government unveiled a massive privatization program with the cynically misleading comment, “It is clear the public sector cannot move forward alone on these projects. We are counting on the private sector.” He omitted to say the private sector he meant were his patrons.

Temer unveiled plans that would complete the country’s largest privatization in decades. Conveniently, the process is to be completed by end of 2018, just before Temer’s term must end. The influential US-Brazil Business Council detailed the privatization list on its website. The US-Brazil Business Council was founded forty years ago by Citigroup, Monsanto, Coca-Cola, Dow Chemicals and other US multinationals.

Tenders for the first round of concessions will be issued before the end of this year. They will include privatization of four airports and two port terminals, all auctioned in the first quarter of 2017. Other concessions include five highways, one rail line, bidding on small oil blocks and a later round for large, mainly offshore, oil development blocks. As well the government will sell selected assets currently controlled by its Minerals Research Department plus six electric power distributors and three water treatment facilities.

The heart of his planned privatization are, not surprisingly, Joe Biden’s coveted state oil and gas companies along with chunks of the state Eletrobrás power company. Temer plans to get as much as $24 billion from the selloff. Fully $11 billion of the total are to come from sale of key oil and gas state holdings. Of course, when state assets such as huge oil and gas resources are sold off to foreign interests in what will clearly be a distress sale, it is a one-off deal. State oil and gas or electric power projects generate a continuing revenue stream many times any one-off privatization gains. Brazil’s economy is the ultimate loser in such privatization. Wall Street banks and multinationals are of course, as planned, the winner.

On September 19-21, according to the US-Brazil Business Council website, the Brazilian government’s key ministers for infrastructure including Minister Moreira Franco; Minister Fernando Bezerra Coelho Filho, Minister of Mines and Energy; and Minister Mauricio Quintella Lessa, Minister of Transport, Ports and Civil Aviation, will be in New York City to meet with Wall Street “infrastructure investors.”

This is Washington’s way, the way of the Wall Street Gods of Money, as I title one of my books. First, destroy any national leadership intent on genuine national development such as Dilma Rousseff. Replace them with a vassal regime willing to do anything for money, including selling the crown jewels of their own nation as people like Anatoli Chubais did in Russia in the 1990’s under Boris Yeltsin’s “shock therapy.” As reward for his behavior, Chubais today sits on the advisory board of JP MorganChase. What will Temer and associates get for their efforts remains to be seen. Washington for now has broken one of the BRICS that ultimately threaten her global hegemony. It is not likely to bring any lasting success if recent history is any guide.

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton.

SUNDAY EXPRESS

EU president Donald Tusk facing criminal probe in Poland following president's plane crash

PROSECUTORS in Poland are looking at the potential of bringing criminal charges following the plane crash that killed country's president and his wife in 2010.

By SIOBHAN MCFADYEN

PUBLISHED: 13:36, Fri, Sep 23, 2016 | UPDATED: 13:51, Fri, Sep 23, 2016

Mr Tusk is coming under serious pressure over the death of the former president

And they are turning their attention to EU president Donald Tusk who was Prime Minister of the country for seven years amid a storm of anger that he could have broken section 129 of the country's penal code citing that he could be investigated for treason.

Politician Beata Mazurek, an advocate of law and justice, has called on the country's National Public Prosecutor's office to investigate claims Mr Tusk may have acted in detriment to the state.

Now lawyers acting for the families of the ninety-six passengers on board the Tu-154 military jet carrying Polish president Lech Kaczyński, his wife, the central bank chief as well as notable political and military figures, are insisting a "diplomatic betrayal" occurred following the crash which brought the aircraft down in Smolensk, Russia in April 2010.

According to local reports lawyers are scouring evidence to purport to show that as a public officer Mr Tusk and a string of other politicians acted to the detriment of the Republic of Poland.

Mr Kaczyński and his entourage were flying to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre.

That massacre saw 22,000 Polish prisoners of war murdered by the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs or NKVD, a Soviet secret police organisation in 1940.

It has never been clearly proven how the crash occurred.

Lawyer Rafal Rogalski told TVN24: "In my opinion, the prosecutor investigating the responsibility of Donald Tusk, the then Prime Minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, the foreign minister, diplomatic corps, officials of the Prime Minister from the time of Tusk and Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz.

"[Section] 129 of the Criminal Code can allow anyone who is authorised to act on behalf of the Republic in its relations with the government of a foreign state or foreign organisation and having such authorisation, acts to the detriment of Poland [to be prosecuted]."

In June Polish prosecutors revealed they were to reopen the coffins to examine the victims.

The Ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, led by Kaczyński’s twin brother Jarosław, is determined to prove that the crash happened as a result of an "explosion" on board.

He believes Donald Tusk, now head of the European Council, through negligence is responsible.

The Polish government merged the posts of prosecutor-general and justice minister, giving itself more direct control over the investigation earlier this year.

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WND

POLICE HELICOPTER CAPTURES UFO ON THERMAL CAMERA

Mystery craft filmed flying against winds – undetected by air-traffic control

Published: September 29, 2016

JAY BAGGETT

Thermal image of UFO captured over Bristol Channel, Sept. 24, 2016

South Wales police are still scratching their heads over the UFO that appeared on one of their cameras last Saturday, reports the Daily Mail in Britain.

Officers flying in a helicopter across the Bristol Channel around 9:30 p.m. local time became aware of the mystery object when it showed up on the aircraft’s thermal camera. It was not visible to the eye, nor did air-traffic control detect the unidentified object.

The helicopter’s altitude at the time was 1,000 feet.

“It’s difficult to judge the size but we filmed it for just over seven minutes,” the police tweeted, while requesting suggestions from the public as to the object’s identity.

Some have suggested the UFO is a Chinese lantern or balloon, but those ideas have been rejected since the object was flying against the wind.

The sighting by police follows another just a few miles away relayed in February by a local woman, reports SomersetLive. Fiona Powell took a photograph along the beach while walking with family and friends that, on closer inspection, showed what appeared to be a flying saucer in one corner.

WND reported in July that UFO enthusiasts accused NASA of shutting down the live stream of the International Space Station when an unidentified object moved across the screen and stopped.

“This could well be a meteor or the like,” UFO hunter Streetcap1, in a video posted shortly after viewing the shutdown of the ISS feed. “[But] what made it interesting was that the camera cut off when the UFO seemed to stop.”

NASA was accused of shutting down video of a curious object in space. (Credit: YouTube)

NASA, for its part, denied cutting any feeds – but this is not the first time such allegations have plagued the agency.

In April, NASA was put on the defensive over allegations its technicians continuously and purposely shut down feeds when unidentified objects fly into the path of video vision. An agency spokesperson said then that NASA never intentionally cuts video, but that the stream can sometimes be lost due to technical difficulties of signalling from the ISS.

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The Alternative Daily

This 2-Ingredient Tonic Will Flush Pounds Of Waste From Your Colon

Posted On September 26, 2016 By Krista Hillis

There are two ingredients that are always found in my household. They are known to offer a range of therapeutic properties and taste delicious in a wide selection of recipes. Often being two key ingredients in one of my favorite homemade vinaigrettes, there’s no denying the beneficial use of both apple cider vinegar and raw honey.

Perfectly balancing one another in terms of acidity and sweetness, these two health-promoting ingredients will help you flush toxins, promoting optimal positive health. Whip up this tonic yourself, adding it to your current daily health regimen. Work with your body and it will help you ward off diseases and essentially improve your quality of life long-term.

Why take a tonic?

Tonics come in many shapes and forms, utilizing a wide range of ingredients and remedies. Put simply, a tonic is any medicinal substance that can be taken in order to restore vigor and overall well-being. If you feel rather sluggish, you may be in need of a good ol’ fashion cleanse — ridding your body of toxins and waste.

When you are experiencing a blocked colon, toxicity will generally follow. This creates a combination of symptoms that you may be experiencing this very moment. Of course, constipation is often a key sign, as well as increased acne, fatigue, aches and even bad body odor.

To cleanse your colon, welcome an effective, gentle and easy-to-take drinkable remedy into your routine. Working with your body, the use of an apple cider vinegar and raw honey cleanse will simply purify your system, allowing you to naturally flush out waste. As your body retains more “good” bacteria, your digestive and immune system will benefit.

Apple cider vinegar (which is essentially fermented apples) and raw honey both offer probiotics. It’s been found that when consuming probiotic-rich foods, you’re able to detoxify accumulated heavy metals, according to a 2015 study published in the journal of the Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

It’s also been found that when studied in mice, as well as in human intestinal cells, the oral administration of certain probiotics is able to reduce the uptake of the heavy metal cadmium. This heavy metal is known to cause inflammation of the intestine and damages to the gut barrier. As barrier cells are killed, permeability and absorption into the body increase.

Apple cider vinegar and raw honey: the ultimate colon cleaners

Both raw honey and vinegar have a vast history — often viewed as traditional remedies for just about everything. Like any ingredient, it’s important to source the most beneficial option. When it comes to apple cider vinegar, you should only consume unpasteurized, organic apple cider vinegar that contains the mother.

Often looking as though the vinegar has congealed, you will notice little floating pieces within the vinegar — don’t let this put you off. It is the “mother” that provides your body with key enzymes and beneficial bacteria. In turn, you’re able to improve both gut and colon function.

Based on the active components in apple cider vinegar, including acetic acid, catechin and gallic acid, these bioactive compounds are known to offer antioxidant, antimicrobial and anticancer benefits, all while reducing your risk of obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and more.

Once again, raw honey is a functional food with a unique composition. For years, it has been well understood that raw honey can help to overcome cardiovascular, liver and gastrointestinal issues. Containing more than 180 substances, this sweet treat contains amino acids, minerals, vitamins and active enzymes.

Within one study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers concluded that raw honey offers protective effects which are dependent on its antimicrobial and probiotic properties. As colonic probiotic bacteria increases, several benefits follow, including detoxification and antigenotoxicity — reducing your risk of genetic mutations and overall disease.

As you can imagine, when you combine these two key ingredients, you’re left with the ultimate colon cleanser that supports your overall immune system. Change your diet and you’ll change your life.

In order to get into a set routine, take this tonic at the same time each morning, afternoon, or evening — whatever best suits you.

No need to worry about being by a bathroom. As mentioned, although this remedy is fast-acting in that it will be rapidly absorbed and utilized by the body, you will not need to worry about problematic bowel movements throughout the day. It will, however, quickly begin working with your digestive system to improve functioning.

&

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Until next week...keep on believing.
Almondtree Productions
       “
Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.”

(Psalm 51:2)


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