"We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts."
(2 Peter 1:19)

Day Star

Dear Friends,

      Greetings. As Bob Dylan wrote many years ago, and some of you may remember,
"The times they are a changing". And they certainly are, faster than they have ever changed before, as the articles below testify. Daniel prophesied over two thousand years ago concerning the end times: " But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased."(Daniel 12:4) This tremendous increase in knowledge which we are presently witnessing is one of the reasons the antichrist is going to be able to establish his one world government, and institute his mark of the beast.


     "Because they have no changes, therefore they fear (dictionary definition-reverence and awe) not God." (Psalms 55:19) Changes cause us to draw closer to God, and with the antichrist arising it will certainly cause us to draw closer to the Lord.

     Concerning the antichrist the Bible even says he will "...think to change times and laws;". (Daniel 7:25) Just look at how the "politically correct" philosophy has changed society so quickly over the last few years. And it is also interesting to look at this following prophecy in light of different movements, headed by some very important people in todays world. "Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever." (Romans 1:25)

      There are some changes that we can really look forward to as well.

      "Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

     In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory."(1 Corinthians 15:51-54)

      And Paul wrote in the book of Philippians "Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself."

      And in what many consider to be the oldest book of the Bible, Job says; "If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come."(Job 14:14)

      So, to look on the bright side, the sooner times change for the worse we can be inspired, because we know very shortly afterwards they are going to change for the better, resulting in us changing our old worn out bodies, for our new live-forever, immortal bodies. "And he (the antichrist) shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High".

      Keep that in mind as you see the changes taking place now and in the future.

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MailOnline

Collapse of the euro is 'inevitable': Bailing out the Greek economy futile, says FRENCH banking chief

By Sam Fleming and Tim Shipman -

13th February 2010

The European single currency is facing an 'inevitable break-up' a leading French bank claimed yesterday.

Strategists at Paris-based Société Générale said that any bailout of the stricken Greek economy would only provide 'sticking plasters' to cover the deep- seated flaws in the eurozone bloc.

The stark warning came as the euro slipped further on the currency markets and dire growth figures raised the prospect of a 'double-dip' recession in the embattled zone.

The bailout of Greece will only act as a 'sticking plaster' for the Euro crisis, the bank warned yesterday

Claims that the euro could be headed for total collapse are particularly striking when they come from one of the oldest and largest banks in France - a core founder-member.

In a note to investors, SocGen strategist Albert Edwards said: 'My own view is that there is little "help" that can be offered by the other eurozone nations other than temporary, confidence-giving "sticking plasters" before the ultimate denouement: the break-up of the eurozone.'

He added: 'Any "help" given to Greece merely delays the inevitable break-up of the eurozone.'

The alarming claim came a day after European Union leaders promised 'determined and co-ordinated' action to shore up Greece's tattered public finances, but disappointed traders by failing to provide specifics.

Further details are expected early next week, but markets were in high anxiety yesterday amid fears political divisions among rich eurozone members could derail any rescue.

The euro slid almost 1 per cent to $1.357 yesterday, meaning it has lost 10 per cent of its value since November. The pound rose to 1.14 euros.

'If these differences are to be evened out, the EU would need a single budget and common taxes so it can redistribute resources.

'One thing is clear, Britain made the right choice in staying out.'

Mr Edwards argued that Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain are too economically weak to withstand the rigours of eurozone membership.

Countries that are highly uncompetitive are normally able to slash interest rates and devalue their currencies to prop up their economies.

But this is not possible within the euro, given its one-size-fits-all economic governance.

The implication is that weak, peripheral eurozone members will have to suffer years of painful deflation and tumbling living standards, as well as draconian budget cuts, in order to adjust.

Harvard University Professor Martin Feldstein, a long-standing sceptic on the euro, yesterday said the single currency 'isn't working' because member governments have no incentive to keep their public debts under control.

'There's too much incentive for countries to run up big deficits as there's no feedback until a crisis,' he said.

Germany drags EU back towards recession

Axel Weber, President of Germany's Bundesbank, warned the German economy will contract this year

The eurozone faces the danger of a 'doubledip' recession after Germany's economy retreated into stagnation.

Figures published yesterday revealed that the countries who have joined the euro collectively grew a mere 0.1 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year - equal to Britain's own faltering performance. 

Germany was the biggest drag, recording zero growth in the final three months of 2009 after emerging from recession earlier in the year.

Axel Weber, President of Germany's Bundesbank, warned this week there is a chance his nation's economy will contract in the first quarter of 2010, in part because of the severe winter, in a major blow to recovery hopes.

The figures from the European Commission are a blow to Britain's embattled manufacturers, which count the eurozone as their biggest export market.

France provided a bright spot in the report, expanding by 0.6 per cent in the fourth quarter-But Italy, Spain and Greece all registered contractions in their gross domestic product.

Economist Martin van Vliet of ING Bank said: 'The paltry pace of fourth quarter growth makes crystal clear that the eurozone economy cannot yet stand on its own feet.

'The disappointing eurozone growth data are a sobering reminder that recovery from financial crisis led recessions tends to be slow and protracted, and might not prove very supportive in calming markets' fears about the region.'


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WorldNetDaily

New council to advise on 'military activities' in U.S.

Executive order creates team of governors to address 'homeland defense'

January 26, 2010

by Bob Unruh

President Obama by executive order has established a new "Council of Governors" designated to advise on the "synchronization and integration of state and federal military activities in the United States."

The recent order, posted on the White House website, was accompanied by the explanation that the group is to work "to protect our nation against all types of hazards." It comes just weeks after the president issue a similarly obscure order vastly expanding INTERPOL's privileges in the U.S.

The White House said the new council is to include governors and administration officials to review "such matters as involving the National Guard of the various states; homeland defense, civil support; synchronization and integration of state and federal military activities in the United States; and other matters of mutual interest pertaining to National Guard, homeland defense, and civil support activities."

However, there was no definition of what would be included in the group's authority. Can the council recommend "military activities" and can the governors, who already are in command of their own state guard units, mandate activities outside of their areas of jurisdiction? The White House did not respond to WND questions on the issue.

The previous order regarding INTERPOL caused concern for some in the U.S. because it exempts the international police force from such oversight as the Freedom of Information Act in the U.S.

At the ThreatsWatch.org website, authors Steve Schippert and Clyde Middleton said the order will lead to further erosions of American sovereignty.

"In light of what we know and can observe, it is our logical conclusion that President Obama's Executive Order amending President Ronald Reagans' 1983 EO 12425 and placing INTERPOL above the United States Constitution and beyond the legal reach of our own top law enforcement is a precursor to more damaging moves," they wrote.

"When the paths on the road map converge - Iraq withdrawal, Guantánamo closure, perceived American image improved internationally, and an empowered INTERPOL in the United States - it is probable that President Barack Obama will once again make America a signatory to the International Criminal Court. It will be a move that surrenders American sovereignty to an international body whose INTERPOL enforcement arm has already been elevated above the Constitution and American domestic law enforcement," they said.

"For an added and disturbing wrinkle, INTERPOL's central operations office in the United States is within our own Justice Department offices. They are American law enforcement officers working under the aegis of INTERPOL within our own Justice Department. That they now operate with full diplomatic immunity and with 'inviolable archives' from within our own buildings should send red flags soaring into the clouds," they said.

The new governors panel, which the White House said was called for in the Fiscal Year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, will include 10 governors picked by the president as well as the Coast Guard commandant and other officials from the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies.

The White House announcement said the council "will provide an invaluable senior administration forum for exchanging views with state and local officials on strengthening our national resilience and the homeland defense and civil support challenges facing our nation today and in the future."

Los Angeles Times blogger Andrew Malcolm poked fun at the announcement,  writing Obama "has determined that, a) there is an insufficient number of advisory bodies among the gazillion already in existence for the federal government in general and said president and his White House specifically."

Obama also, Malcolm said, "chooses to ignore the existence of the National Governors Assn., the Republican Governors Assn., the Democratic Governors Assn. and the secure telephones within arms-reach of virtually everywhere said president chooses to sit and/or recline."

Ultimately, he said, Obama has decided, "One more meaningless advisory body probably couldn't hurt anything, and might actually look good."

At Canada Free Press, commentary writer Judi McLeod said, "Like the 30-plus czars running America with neither the people's nor the congress's blessings, the Council of Governors is already a done deal."

Blogger Nicholas Contompasis suggested it was the "first step towards martial law in America" because it sets up the "use of federal troops and the combination of state and federal agencies under the Defense Department."

Participants on his forum page said the order appears to be in defiance of posse comitatus, which restricts U.S. military action within the United States. One contributor noted the order talks about "hazards" but then addresses only military hazards.

"The very notion of the executive branch (good intentions or not) issuing executive orders/presidential directives that apply to anything or anyone not specifically within the executive branch is tyrannical," the forum participant said.

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National Post

Haiti's untapped oil, gas and mineral wealth

Market Call, politics, oil & gas, Haiti, minerals, geopolitics

Jonathan Ratner

Beneath the rubble and tragedy of Haiti lies what some geophysicists believe may be one of the globe's richest zones for oil and gas hydrocarbons outside the Middle East.

The same tectonic plates of North America, South America and the Caribbean that rub together to cause earthquakes, also form one of the world's most active geological zones, and can push vast volumes of oil and gas up from the Earth's mantle, according to economic researcher and anti peak oil theorist F. William Engdahl.

In an article titled The Fateful Geological Prize Called Haiti, he explains that the country lies in an unusual zone that may be straddling one of the world's largest unexplored zones of oil, gas and valuable rare strategic minerals.

The massive oil reserves of the Persian Gulf and the region stretching from the Red Sea into the Gulf of Aden are apparently at a similar convergence zone of large tectonic plates. So to are oil-rich zones in Indonesia and offshore California.

"In short, in terms of the physics of the earth, precisely such intersections of tectonic masses as run directly beneath Haiti have a remarkable tendency to be the sites of vast treasures of minerals, as well as oil and gas, throughout the world," Mr. Engdahl writes.

He points out that in 2005, after Haiti's first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was ousted, University of Texas geologists began mapping the geological data of the Caribbean Basins. The sponsors of the project are Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell and BHP Billiton.

Mr. Engdahl goes on to ask why the region hasn't been mapped earlier, particularly given the vast oil production that exists off Mexico, Louisiana, and the entire Caribbean, along with a focus on energy security in the United States.

"Now it emerges that major oil companies were at least generally aware of the huge oil potential of the region long ago, but apparently decided to keep it quiet."

He theorizes that a U.S. military occupation of Haiti under the guise of earthquake disaster 'relief' would give Washington and private business interests tied to it a geopolitical prize of the first order.

Meanwhile, Haitian Lawyers' Leadership Network founder Marguerite "Ezili Danto" Laurent, suggested that the United States, France and Canada are engaged in a balkanization of the island for future mineral control. This is also supposedly being done under the guise of emergency relief work.

She cites rumours that suggest Canada wants the North of Haiti, where it already has mining interests. The United States apparently has its eyes set on Port-au-Prince and the island of La Gonaive just offshore, which has been identified as having vast oil resources and is bitterly contested by France. Meanwhile, China is cited as potentially objecting to such a division of Haiti's wealth given its veto power at the United Nations.

Clearly, everybody wants to get in the earthquake business in some way or another, notes Jerry Mazza. And while conspiracy theories abound about the motivations behind foreign aid coming to Haiti, the possibility of vast amounts of resources below the surface presents a promising possibility for a country in such desperate need.

Jonathan Ratner

Photo: A Haitian woman carries a sack of rice through the ruins of  buildings in downtown Port-au-Prince on February 04, 2010. The January 12 earthquake that hit Haiti killed around 170,000 people and left one million homeless and short of medicine, food and water in the impoverished Caribbean nation of nine million people. (ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)

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telegraph.co.uk

Church of England is 'living in the past', says BBC's head of religion

The BBC's head of religion has accused the Church of England of "living in the past" and said that the corporation should not give Christianity preferential treatment.

By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Media Correspondent -

BBC's head of religion, Aaqil Ahmed

Aaqil Ahmed, a controversial executive whose appointment last year prompted more than 100 complaints, said: "I think all the faiths should be treated in the same way. I don't believe in treating any faith differently."

He dismissed claims that the BBC was marginalising religion as overly simplistic and argued that Christianity, in particular, was already covered well on television.

There has been growing concern at top levels of the Church over the corporation's approach to religion, with warnings that it must not ignore its Christian audience.

Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, met last year with Mark Thompson, the BBC's director-general, to discuss religious broadcasting.

Bishops, clergy and lay members of the General Synod will vote this week on a motion calling on the state broadcaster to explain why its television coverage of Christianity has declined so steeply in recent years.

Output has fallen from 177 hours of religious programming on BBC television in 1987/88 to 155 hours in 2007/08 - a period during which the overall volume of programming has doubled.

However, in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Ahmed, an award-winning programme-maker, said that the Church's criticisms were too simplistic.

"I don't believe that we should be basing the debate on 20-year-old figures, the conversation is far more complicated than that," he said.

"It's very easy to live in the past, but we live in the present. In a few years' time the way we're going to view television will change radically, so the conversation will become even more redundant.

"We'll listen to what they say, but we're clear that we know what we're doing and we'll stick to that."

Church leaders have been particularly criticial of the dearth of religious programmes shown on BBC television at Easter, with the Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, the Bishop of Manchester, accusing the corporation of "overlooking" Good Friday.

While Mr Ahmed admitted that some mistakes had been made in the past, he said this year would see a change.

"In terms of Easter, it would be easy for me to start being critical of previous people, and I'm not going to do that. I'll put my hand up and say the BBC wasn't brilliant in the past, but all we can do is talk about this year going forward," he said.

Mr Ahmed - the first Muslim to hold his post - revealed that BBC One will air two explicitly Christian documentaries during Holy Week.

In one, Nicky Campbell, the Radio 5 Live presenter, will investigate whether Christians in Britain are being persecuted for their beliefs.

In the other, called The Day That Jesus Died, Archbishop Williams and Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, will explain why Muslims are wrong to see Christ's crucifixion as a humiliation.

Senior bishops wrote to Mr Thompson last year to question the BBC's commitment to Britain's Christian audience, but Mr Ahmed said that its Easter schedule showed their fears were misplaced.

"If you look at the BBC's religious output, Christianity is at the cornerstone," he said. "Despite what people say the vast majority is Christian-related."

Mr Ahmed's comment that Christianity should not receive preferential treatment comes despite nearly three-quarters of the population describing themselves as Christian in the last census.

Critics of the BBC are upset that respected religious programmes such as Everyman and Heart of the Matter have not been replaced, and that Songs of Praise and The Big Questions are the only regular religious programmes on BBC television.

Bishop McCulloch said at the time of Mr Ahmed's appointment that it had come "at a time when the BBC's coverage of religion has caused some disquiet".

Asked about the future of Songs of Praise, the corporation's flagship religious programme, Mr Ahmed praised the show and replied: "Who knows what's going to happen in five years, ten years time? I won't be here.

"There's absolutely no interest right now from the current management in changing it."

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WorldNetDaily Exclusive

'Satan's video game' makes Super Bowl appearance ...

Ad's 'go to h---' line yanked, but play still rewards killing unbaptized babies

February 08, 2010

By Drew Zahn

The Super Bowl ad claimed, "Hell awaits," and players who fire up "Dante's Inferno" on their Xbox 360 can dive right in to slay all sorts of demons and dark lords to save the girl from Satan's grasp.

There's even a level where players can take on knife-wielding unbaptized babies. Kill enough of them, and players will unlock an "achievement" called the "Bad Nanny" award.

The anticipated new release from video game maker Electronic Arts is only one of several console games to recently make a list of eight devilish titles compiled by Lance Christian of Alton, Ill., and reported by Susan Brinkmann of the Catholic group Living His Life Abundantly in a blog post titled "Gaming for Satan."

"This has been going on for the last 10 years, but especially in the most recent games," said Christian of the satanic trend in gaming. "It wasn't until last month when I said, 'enough is enough!' I'm a gamer, but I'm deep into my faith and I think God is showing me this so I can make other people aware of it."

"Dante's Inferno" came in No. 7 on Christian's list, but it was the only one to get the multi-million-dollar exposure of advertising during the Super Bowl.

The ad almost didn't make the airwaves, however, when CBS rejected it for concluding with the tagline, "Go to h---." After Electronic Arts changed the final phrase to "Hell awaits," however, it got the nod.

The approved Super Bowl ad can be seen below:


Editor's note: The advertisement contains frightening and occult imagery.

A review of the game posted on GamingUnion.net explains the basic premise of "Dante's Inferno," a title that morphs the historical Dante Alighieri from the poet who wrote about the Inferno in "Divine Comedy" to a knight from the Third Crusade:

"After Dante went away on the Third Crusade, his lover, Beatrice, made a pact with the devil," explains Darryl, editor-in-chief of GamingUnion.net. "She wagered her soul on Dante's fidelity, and in return, she was promised that Dante would return from the Third Crusade unharmed so that they could be reunited and consummate their love. However, unfortunately for Beatrice, things didn't turn out how she planned, and Dante gave in to his urges. This consequently damned Beatrice's soul into hell; and so Dante, realizing that he is the one who should be punished, goes into the depths of hell to try and free her from the clutches of Lucifer."

As for the game's "Bad Nanny" achievement, "Dante's Inferno" has taken some heat from the International Nanny Association:

"INA feels this video game component of 'Dante's Inferno' was created out of poor taste and bad judgment," said the association in a statement. "INA is opposed to video games that promote and encourage players to 'kill' babies, even in fantasy play."

"Dante's Inferno" is rated "M" or "Mature 17+" by the Entertainment Software Rating Board, meaning it contains, according to the ESRB website, "content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language."

Lance Christian warned Living His Life Abundantly, however, that "Dante's Inferno" is far from the worst of what the gaming world is offering:

"This is just the tip of the iceberg in what I have discovered," Christian said. "I feel that the devil has a new tool to work with in this age of technology, and the majority of adults in a position of responsibility are left in the dark."

The other video games on Christian's list are cited below along with the descriptions Christian provided:

Tecmo's Deception: Invitation to Darkness - Players "make an unholy pact and sell their soul to Satan in exchange for power" with the object of the game being to ensure the resurrection of Satan and obtain his power (This game is rated "T" for teen).

Nocturne - A game in which the hero (a demon) destroys the three archangels St. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, then goes on to destroy God.

Devil Summoner - Involves communicating with and recruiting demons. One demon tells the player the Catholic Church "is such an eyesore" and in the end of the game, blows up the church.

Shadow Hearts - The hero uses his power to intercept and destroy God and "save the world."

Assassin's Creed - The main character is a Muslim assassin assigned to kill Christians.

Dragon's Age Origins - The game revolves around the story of God going mad and cursing the world. A witch attacks believers and players can "have sex" with her in a pagan act called "blood magic" so she can "give birth to a god." Another scenario allows player to have sex with a demon in exchange for a boy's soul.

Dante's Inferno - Loosely based on "Divine Comedy," player travels through nine circles of hell, fighting demons, "unbaptized babies" and other tormented souls.

Guitar Hero - Players use guitars decorated with pentagrams. God is repeatedly mocked by the devil, and in the end, the devil is the hero of the game. Women dressed as Catholic school girls are degraded.

Those who wish to voice their concern about the content of video games or check how certain titles are rated can visit the Entertainment Software Rating Board website.

Electronic Arts, maker of "Dante's Inferno," can be contacted through its company website.

BreakPoint

The Courage to Be Bored

Mark Earley

February 3, 2010

If I asked you what your teenage children are doing right now, you might not know. But the New York Times and the Kaiser Family Foundation have a pretty good idea.

According to a recent Kaiser study, if your teenager is awake and isn't in school, he or she is staring at a screen a smart-phone, a computer, or watching television.

Kaiser's researchers interviewed more than 2,000 kids between the ages of eight and eighteen. They found that, on average, the participants in the study spent seven and one-half hours a day using these devices! What's more, that figure understates the amount of time American kids devote to consuming media and other related activities.

For instance, it does not include time spent actually talking on these smart-phones or sending and receiving messages. That adds another one-and-a-half hours to the total. When you add time spent doing several media-related things at once, that is multi-tasking, American kids spend the equivalent of eleven hours a day tethered to an electronic device.

The authors were "stunned" because they believed that media consumption among kids had already maxed out when they last measured it in 2005. What didn't take into account, either then or now, is what drives the heavy usage: dread of being bored.

As one 14-year-old told the Times, "I feel like my days would be boring without" my smart phone. It's not only him. As New Testament scholar Ben Witherington recently wrote, smart-phones "are seen as the cure for boredom."

This "boredom" is "in most cases...the state of mind of those who lack imagination and therefore require all kinds of stimuli to prevent them from losing interest in things, and even in life." That's why people, adults as well as kids, are "constantly fiddling with their cellphone." The alternative to all this fiddling is being alone with your own thoughts, which terrifies people used to the constant stimulation provided by our media-saturated culture.

Happily, parents can help their kids to avoid this trap. The Kaiser study found that parents can make rules limiting this kind of mindless media consumption and that their children will follow them. It won't be easy but, then again, swimming against the cultural tide never is.

Speaking of swimming against the tide, even more important than rules and limits is teaching our children that we don't need constant stimulation. On the contrary, being quiet and still is an essential part of the Christian life. We are told "be still" so that we may learn who God is. God spoke to Elijah in a still small voice.

Neuroscientists tell us that many, if not most, of our most creative and productive moments come when we step back from all the stimulation and let our minds be free. In other words, what many people call "boredom" is good for us in ways that the constantly-stimulated can't begin to imagine.

We're not talking about letting our minds wander just anywhere. What we're told to do is invest our life in a relationship with Christ. In His word, in prayer, and in meditation.

Unplugging and stepping back for some time alone with God is yet another reason for us to unplug our kids and ourselves and risk being bored. For all the right reasons.

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Spero News

Spain promotes bestiality to school children

Parents' organizations in Spain are fiercely protesting the curriculum of the Socialist government's required education course, "Education for the Citizenry," after it was revealed that in one Spanish city, students are being taught that sex can be freely practiced, even with animals. - - According to the organization "Professionals for Ethics," third grade students in Cordoba, located in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia, are using course material stating that "nature has given us sex so we can use it with another girl, with a boy or with an animal." Parents groups say the material indoctrinates children and camouflages an agenda that is pro-homosexual and critical of moral norms and values. - - In the region of Castille and Leon, some 500 students have been excused from participating in the course for reasons of conscience, while hundreds in Madrid and Valencia are awaiting a ruling from the courts on whether or not they are required to attend

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The Guardian

The population crash

Fred Pearce

1 February 2010

Hoyerswerda, a town two hours beyond Dresden, close to the Polish border, has lost half its population in the last 20 years. It is an ageing ghost town. The young and those with qualifications have left--young women especially. And those that remain have given up having babies. Hoyerswerda (known to its citizens as Hoy Woy) seems a town without a purpose, in a corner of Europe without a future.

On the windswept roof of the Lausitz Tower, the town's only landmark, I meet Felix Ringel. A young German anthropologist studying at Cambridge University, he has passed up chances taken by his friends to investigate the rituals of Amazon tribes or Mongolian peasants. As we survey the empty plots of fenced scrub below, he explains that the underbelly of his own country seemed weirder and far less studied than those exotic worlds.

In its heyday in the 60s, Hoyerswerda was a model community in communist East Germany, a brave new world attracting migrants from all over the country. They dug brown coal from huge open-cast mines on the plain around the town. There was good money and two free bottles of brandy a month. But the fall of the Berlin Wall changed all that. It was here in 1989, in the towns and cities of Saxony, that the people of the east started moving west to capitalism and freedom. At the head of the queue were the young, especially young women.

Under communism, East German women worked more, and were often better educated, than the more conservative western hausfrau. But when their jobs disappeared in the early 90s, hundreds of thousands of them, encouraged by their mothers, took their school diplomas and CVs and headed west to cities such as Heidelberg. The boys, however, seeing their fathers out of work, often just gave up. In adulthood, they form a rump of ill-educated, alienated, often unemployable men, most of them unattractive mates--a further factor in the departure of young women.

Reiner Klingholz, director of the Berlin Institute for Population and Development, calls it a "male emergency"--but this is not just an emergency for men. The former people's republic is staring into a demographic abyss, because its citizens don't want babies any more.

"There has been nothing comparable in world peacetime history," says the French demographer Jean-Claude Chesnais. After the Berlin Wall came down, millions of East Germans who stayed behind decided against producing another generation. Their fertility more than halved. In 1988, 216,000 babies were born in East Germany; in 1994, just 88,000 were born. The fertility rate worked out at 0.8 children per woman. Since then it has struggled up to around 1.2, but that is still only just over half the rate needed to maintain the population. About a million homes have been abandoned, and the government is demolishing them as fast as it can. Left behind are "perforated cities", with huge random chunks of wasteland. Europe hasn't seen cityscapes like this since the bombing of the second world war.

And nowhere has emptied as much as Hoyerswerda. In the 80s, it had a population of 75,000 and the highest birth rate in East Germany. Today, the town's population has halved. It has gone from being Germany's fastest-growing town to its fastest-shrinking one. The biggest age groups are in their 60s and 70s, and the town's former birth clinic is an old people's home.

In a school in a partly demolished suburb known simply as Area Nine, I meet Nancy, a tattooed and quiet-spoken social worker. Forty years ago, her parents were among the newcomers: her mother was a midwife, her father a train driver. "There were modern flats and services here then. It was a prestige development. When you asked the kids what they wanted to do when they grew up, they had ambitions to drive buses or work in the power station. But now parents find it very difficult to encourage their children when they have no jobs or prospects themselves. My friends have all left. I'd like to stay, but I have a three-year-old daughter and the schools are no good any more. I'll probably go too."

Further out, in Area 10, I come across Marco. He is 27. "Only criminals live in this neighbourhood now," he says. The child of an alcoholic mother and a violent father, Marco spent five years in the town orphanage and now does odd jobs to pay off debts. "I've never experienced a family. I'd love to have my own. But this place is empty for me. I get so angry . . . I'd like to go to America when I am out of my debt; that's my dream."

Across the rest of Germany, Hoyerswerda is regarded as a feral wasteland--complete with wolves. Slinking in from Poland and the Czech Republic, they are finding empty spaces where once there were apartment blocks and mines. And the wolves, at least, are staying. A few kilometres down the road, near the tiny town of Spreewitz, wolf enthusiast Ilka Reinhardt can't believe his luck: "We have more wolves than we have had in 200 years." The badlands of former East Germany are going "back to nature". And Europeans should be worried, for some fear that eastern Germany is, as it was back in the 1960s, a trailblazer for the demographic future of the continent.

Europe's population is, right now, peaking, after more than six centuries of continuous growth. With each generation reproducing only half its number, this looks like the start of a continent-wide collapse in numbers. Some predict wipeout by 2100. Half a century ago, Europe was basking in a postwar baby boom, with 2.8 babies per woman in Britain, 2.9 in France, and 3.2 in the Netherlands. Then levels sank back. Demographers assumed that fertility would settle down at about the level required to maintain the population--slightly more than two babies per woman. The trouble is, nobody told Europe's women.

In the real world, the swinging 60s saw a great deal of sex and not a lot of procreation. By the mid-80s, alarm bells were ringing. "Europe is entering a demographic winter," declared demographer Gérard-François Dumont. Ron Lesthaeghe at the Free University of Brussels blamed "post-materialistic values, in which self-development becomes the primary aim".

A resolution at the European parliament in 1984 warned that Europe's share of the world's population was set to halve between 1950 and 2000, and was likely to halve again as soon as 2025. This trend, it said, "will have a decisive effect on the significance of the role Europe will play in the world in future decades".

The 20th century began with western Europe producing 10 million babies a year; by the end it couldn't manage 6 million--2 million fewer than it needs to maintain the population in the long term. That baby famine is now heading into a second generation; it is no longer a blip. Demographically, Europe is living on borrowed time. It already badly needs foreign hands to keep its societies and economies functioning, and should stop pretending otherwise.

Thirty years ago, 23 European countries had fertility above replacement levels; now none does, with only France, Iceland, Albania, Britain and Ireland anywhere near. And last year's economic downturn threatens to depress fertility further. "There is a good bit of evidence that hard economic times cause people to delay having babies or not have one altogether," says Carl Haub, from the Population Reference Bureau in the US.

In Germany, where fertility has been low for more than a generation, demographers report a large decline in the desired family size. "Today, 48% of German men under 40 agree that you can have a happy life without children. When their fathers were asked the same question at the same age, only 15% agreed," says Europe's top demographer, Wolfgang Lutz of the Vienna Institute of Demography. Thirty per cent of German women today say they don't intend to have children at all.

Once a country has very low fertility for a generation, it begins to run out of young women able to gestate future generations. Germany is there already: it has only half as many children under 10 as adults in their 40s. Demographer Peter McDonald calculates that if Italy gets stuck with recent fertility levels, and fails to top up with foreign migrants, it will lose 86% of its population by the end of the century, falling to 8 million compared with today's 56 million. Spain will lose 85%, Germany 83% and Greece 74%.

Jesse Ausubel, a futurologist at Rockefeller University in New York, fears "the twilight of the west" as Europe's population thins and ages. "Civilisations have simply melted away because of poor reproductive rates of the dominant class . . . The question may now be whether, underneath the personal decision to procreate, lies a subliminal social mood influencing the process. The subliminal mood of Europe could now be for a blackout after 1,000 years on stage."

Far-fetched? Maybe. But population historian David Reher told the journal Science in 2006 that, "As population and tax revenues decline in Europe, urban areas could well be filled with empty buildings and crumbling infrastructure . . . surrounded by large areas which look more like what we might see in some science-fiction movies."

David, come and see Hoyerswerda. The future is already here--complete with wolves.

***

CNN

Living in a time warp

By Henry Hanks,

February 5, 2010

(CNN) -- Social networking may be one of the biggest phenomenons of the 21st century, but for some denizens of the Web, it's a way to get in touch with the past.

Web sites like livinghistoryworldwide.com (with a membership of more than 5,700) and groups on Facebook allow people who enjoy past eras to connect with each other. But it goes beyond that: Some of them dress and live like they would decades, if not centuries, ago.

Step into Estelle Barada's living room in Providence, Rhode Island, and you might feel like you've traveled back to the 1890s.

Barada, a hotel caterer, sees it as an escape from her stressful job.

"I was the middle child and kind of like the dreamer, and for some strange reason I always dreamed of living not in America, but England," she explained. "I imagined having tea with the queen and touring the castle and that was my dream as a little girl."

Today, "Lady Estelle," as she likes to be called, lives out that dream by hosting tea parties for her friends while dressed in Victorian clothing, completely in character.

When going out, she's dressed in a more understated fashion, but still completely consistent with the late 1800s, with a long skirt and hat. "I always wear hats and when I go shopping, I get the attention of the older women, who say, I love the way you look," she said.

"Eighteen-seventy-four should have been my birth date ... instead of 1974," said Raychyl Whyte of Hamilton, Ontario. Her fascination with the Victorian era began in childhood, coinciding with a pop cultural revival of Victorian themes in the 1970s.

Whyte and her "Victorian gentleman" began restoration on a circa-1898 house in 2008. Now they host 1800s-themed events there, where dress from the time period is always encouraged. They use Meetup.com to organize these events as part of the Hamilton Victorian & Steampunk Society.

Why would one live this lifestyle? For many of these iReporters, it's a reaction to modern society just as much as a love of the fashion and style of days gone by.

"I suppose others might call me an eccentric, but I just live the life I want to live and don't care about what others say or think about me," said Ray Frensham, a "Living Victorian," from London, England. "Even though I've felt increasingly disconnected from the modern world for many years now, I'm not retreating into some past nether-world seeking a kind of comfort-blanket."

Modern society in the United Kingdom can be "remarkably cruel and unforgiving," Frensham said. "There is certainly no sense of any kind of community anymore," he said. "People are purely self-centered, only in it for what they can get out of themselves." He points to the recent MP expenses scandal there, which led to the resignation of British House of Commons Speaker Michael Martin, as an example.

At the same time, something just feels right to Frensham when he wears a suit and bow tie, or more recently, an ascot. "It just creates a mind set that you're ready to face the day," he said.

Frensham is also the coordinator of the London Victorian Strollers, who take walks around the city while decked out in Victorian garb, and says that the reaction from passersby, especially tourists, is extremely positive. "It's quite extraordinary, people just love it."

Social networking certainly plays a large role, but Frensham also believes that groups like the Victorian Strollers (with its 125 members on Facebook) are emerging more and more lately. "I think it's just a lot of people saying 'I don't like what I see anymore, so let's create our own reality.' "

Carmen Johnson of Orlando, Florida, certainly sees that as being the case. She runs one of several social networking sites that bring together retro lifestyle enthusiasts of all stripes. "The first thing I ask [members of the Web site] is what they would like to bring from the past. Many of them say they would like to see the return of good manners and morals," she said. "They like the values of respect for women, respect for others. Now with the society we live in, anything goes."

Johnson, like Frensham, can trace at least some of what influences her to Hollywood. Growing up in the 1970s and '80s, she was a big fan of "Grease," Elvis Presley and "I Love Lucy," but "Back to the Future" captured her imagination. "Just thinking about traveling in time to whatever year that I always dreamed about was fascinating to me!" she said. Needless to say, the 1950s are her favorite era. This translated into her pursuit of art, which she described as both modern and retro.

When her love of this time translated into reality upon viewing a documentary about "time warp wives," she was inspired to start the blog Timewarpwives.com, eager for the opportunity to interview women who live their lives as "traditional 1950s housewives."

iReport: Johnson's life as a "retro artist"

Now, those with casual interest as well as those who live their lives in a past era, what Johnson calls "timewarpians," interact on her site, Timewarpliving.com, which boasts more than 250 members. "When people come to this site, they see that they're not alone," she said.

Johnson considers "Lady Estelle" Barada to be a great example of a "timewarpian." Barada hopes to pass on the manners, if not necessarily the fashion, of the era to the next generation by hosting parties with young girls and teaching them about etiquette.

As for her own granddaughters, she said they love paying a visit. "They ask their mother if they can wear a pretty dress and go to grandmother's house."

***

1895 8th Grade Final Exam - -

What it took to get an 8th grade education in 1895...

Remember when grandparents and great-grandparents stated that they only had an 8th grade education? Well, check this out. Could any of us have passed the 8th grade in 1895? 

This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina , Kansas , USA . It was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society

and Library in Salina , and reprinted by the Salina Journal.

8th Grade Final Exam: Salina , KS - 1895

Grammar (Time, one hour)

1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.

2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.

3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph

4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of 'lie,''play,' and 'run.'

5. Define case; illustrate each case.

6 What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.

7 - 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time,1 hour 15 minutes)

1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.

2. A wagon box is 2 ft. Deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. Wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold? 

3. If a load of wheat weighs 3,942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1,050 lbs. For tare?

4. District No 33 has a valuation of $35,000.. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?

5. Find the cost of 6,720 lbs. Coal at $6.00 per ton.

6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.

7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft.. Long at $20 per metre?

8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.

9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance of which is 640 rods?

10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt

U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)

1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided

2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus

3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.

4. Show the territorial growth of the United States

5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas

6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.

7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton , Bell , Lincoln , Penn, and Howe?

8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865.

Orthography (Time, one hour)

[Do we even know what this is??]

1. What is meant by the following: alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication

2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?

3. What are the following, and give examples of each: trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals

4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u.' (HUH?)

5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e.' Name two exceptions under each rule.

6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.

7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi, dis-mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup.

8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.

9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane , vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.

10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

Geography (Time, one hour)

1 What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?

2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas ?

3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?

4. Describe the mountains of North America

5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia , Odessa , Denver , Manitoba , Hecla , Yukon , St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco

6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each..

8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?

9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.

10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the earth.

Notice that the exam took FIVE HOURS to complete.

Gives the saying 'he only had an 8th grade education' a whole new meaning, doesn't it?!

Also shows you how poor our education system has become and,

NO, I don't have the answers!

***

      Are you ready for your change. If not you can get ready right now by just receiving Jesus as your Saviour, then you will know that no matter what happens the end result will be the greatest most wonderful change you will ever experience that will last forever and only get better.

      "As it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." (1 Corinthians 2:9)

      Until next week...

Almondtree Productions

"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises."

(2 Peter 1:4)


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