Woe to them that call evil good, and good evil; who make darkness light, and light darkness; who make bitter sweet, and sweet bitter. Woe to them that are wise in their own conceit, and knowing in their own sight.”
(Isaiah 5:20-21)
Evil Good, And Good Evil

Billy Graham's Prayer For Our Nation

THIS MAN SURE HAS A GOOD VIEW OF WHAT'S HAPPENING TO OUR COUNTRY!

'Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance.

We know Your Word says, 'Woe to those who call evil good,' but that is exactly what we have done.

We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.

We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice.

We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem.

We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition.

We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.

We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from sin and set us free. Amen!’

With the Lord's help, may this prayer sweep over our nation and wholeheartedly become our desire so that we once again can be called 'One nation under God!'

WND

PLANETARY ALIGNMENTS SPARK MORE WORRY

Published: September 28, 2015

Americans have blamed karma, conspiracies, Area 51, the “vast right wing” and more for their troubles.

Now an increasing number believe if something is going wrong in their lives at the moment, it’s not their fault. It’s because the planet Mercury is moving backwards.

From Sept. 17 to Oct. 9, Mercury is in “retrograde,” appearing to move backwards because of an optical illusion caused by the Earth’s planetary rotation.

Many who practice astrology believe it’s a dangerous time when mishaps regarding technology and communications are likely to occur. According to Google Trends, an increasing number of people are searching online for information about the phenomenon and several media outlets have even published “guides” for people to “survive” it.

Lena Dunham, the politically left-leaning creator of HBO’s “Girls,” repeatedly tweeted her fears about Mercury’s supposed movement.

A Huffington Post contributor even attributed opposition and protests against President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran to the spread of “misinformation” caused by Mercury being in retrograde.

Larry Schwimmer also tied the rise of Donald Trump to the movement of Mercury, claiming the planet in retrograde facilitates “an angry, emotional, hostile, and divisive political and socio-economic environment that ends up polarizing people into opposition groups (e.g. Donald Trump).”

A New York Post article mostly designed to mock the concept quoted contributor Robert Rorke admitting he finds astrology “to be true in my own life.”

“I first took an interest in astrology 10 years ago when I noticed things going amiss when Mercury was in retrograde,” he said.

Pastor Mark Biltz of El Shaddai Ministries has a different perspective.

He is no stranger to unlocking the secrets behind the movement of stars and planets. But the discoverer of the “blood moons” and the author of “Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs” says there is no comparison between astrology and what he terms “biblical astronomy.”

“The big difference is in astrology the signs in the heavens are all about you,” Biltz told WND. “In biblical astronomy, it’s all about the Creator.”

Biltz supported his case through Scripture. He cited Psalm 19, verses 1-4, which read: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech, night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”

That, he said, means the heavens “are singing to mankind of God’s praises.”

“They sing in a language all nations understand. As long as we are focused on what God is saying to us about Him we won’t fall into the trap of thinking they are talking about us.”

Biltz’s “biblical astronomy” is not without its critics. David Lazarus, writing in the Times of Israel, denounced “sensational, unfounded interpretations of the Hebrew calendar.”

Lazarus believes prophecies about the Shemitah cycle and the blood moons can lead people to become disengaged or even lose faith if dramatic events don’t take place on the days predicted.

Biltz responded: “According to his article it sure doesn’t sound like people have become passive or disengaged! In his article he says: ‘Following these unbiblical prophecies is dangerous on many levels.’

“But what is he talking about? The Bible plainly prophesies the sun will turn to sackcloth and the moon to blood several times even from Yeshua’s (Jesus’) own mouth. What Bible is he reading?”

Biltz argues he has never predicted the final blood moon of the tetrad, a series of four such events on Jewish holy days in 2014 and 2015, will herald the end of the world or even an especially dramatic event on that date.

However, he believes a rational examination of the history surrounding the blood moons and the odds against this particular tetrad occurring suggests God is sending a warning to the nations to repent.

“Sure, some people will always be disappointed because they are hoping for the Lord’s return or the end of the world, but that is absolutely not what I have been saying,” said Biltz. “As far as economic collapse, I don’t think it will happen at the blood moon eclipse and never said it would. I believe they are signs that it could happen anytime over this next year.”

According to Biltz, signs in the heavens aren’t a sure guarantee of future events, but communication from God. He cites an example from Scripture.

“Every year at this time the book of Jonah is read on Yom Kippur. Jonah wanted Nineveh destroyed and even quoted God saying they would be. God changed His mind at that time and didn’t destroy Nineveh till later.

“These signs in the heavens are totally biblical and are the very reason why God even created the sun and the moon. He warns and hopefully we repent.”

Biltz rejects any comparison to astrology and denies his teaching “makes a mockery of our Messianic faith” as Lazarus alleged in the Times of Israel.

Instead, Biltz argued: “What makes a mockery is people going to extremes with their theology on both sides. Those that preach the imminent end of the world, yes, but also those who have no understanding of biblical principles in understanding the signs of the times.”

***

WND

OBAMA: 'GAY' TRUMPS RELIGION IN CONSTITUTION

Claims no freedom 'to deny our fellow Americans their rights'

Published: September 28, 2015

BOB UNRUH

President Obama, who has been trying to reframe the Constitution’s protection of religious rights to the narrower “freedom to worship” rather than “freedom of religion” went a step further over the weekend in an address to a homosexual festival.

He said at the Democratic National Committee’s LGBT Gala in New York that the Constitution’s protections for “gay” rights trump the protection for religious rights.

“We affirm that we cherish our religious freedom and are profoundly respectful of religious traditions,” he said. ‘But we also have to say clearly that our religious freedom doesn’t grant us the freedom to deny our fellow Americans their constitutional rights.”

Obama said that “even as we are respectful and accommodating of genuine concerns and interests of religious institutions, we need to reject politicians who are supporting new forms of discrimination as a way to scare up votes.”

“That’s not how we move America forward,” he said.

The conflict arose when the Supreme Court in June created a right to “same-sex marriage,” overturning the votes of people in a majority of states.

The Obergefell opinion, in a narrow 5-4 vote, included a perfunctory acknowledgement of the constitutional free exercise of religion.

However, in practice, religious rights are succumbing to the “right to gay marriage,” as illustrated in the case of Rowan County, Kentucky, Clerk Kim Davis.

A federal judge jailed Davis for six days after she refused to follow his order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Obama, at the “gay” festival, also quoted Harvey Milk – a San Francisco city official whose biography describes how he had a penchant for sex with young boys – as a hero of the movement.

“Harvey Milk once said, ‘If a gay person makes it, the doors are open to everyone.’ But to those of us who’ve made it through those doors, we’ve got a unique obligation to reach back and make sure other people can make it through those doors, too,” Obama said.

“We have a responsibility to stand up to bigotry not just against us, but against anybody, anywhere. We have a responsibility to stand up for freedom – not just our own freedom, but for everybody’s freedom. We speak up to condemn hatred against anybody – gay or straight, black or white, Christian, Muslim, Jew, non-believer, immigrant because we remember what silence felt like when hatred was directed at us, and we’ve got to be champions on behalf of justice for everybody, not just our own. ”

Davis’ defenders in her fight over religious rights have argued that the “freedom of religion” is enumerated in the Constitution, while the “same-sex marriage” right was created by the Supreme Court.

WND reported months ago when a group of prominent faith leaders asked the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to fix a problematic document for newcomers to the United States that teaches about the country’s “freedom of worship” rather than freedom to exercise religion.

“We … write to you with deep concern about the wording of the answer to question 51 on the study materials for the civics portion of the naturalization exam. The question asks students to provide two rights guaranteed to everyone living in the United States, and listed among the possible correct answers is ‘Freedom of Worship.’ We write to you requesting that this answer be immediately corrected to the constitutionally accurate answer – ‘Freedom of Religion,’” the letter, from this summer, said.

“We believe that the wording change we are requesting represents much more than a ‘distinction without a difference.’ Many totalitarian forms of government have allowed for the freedom of worship in their governmental documents but in practice severely restricted individual religious freedoms. The phrase freedom of worship, as it has been used throughout history, articulates an intentionally limited freedom that restricts a citizen’s rights to the four walls of a government-sanctioned house of worship and only for specific times and events.”

The letter was issued by the Weyrich Lunch participants. The group is named after the late chairman of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation, Paul Weyrich.

The inaccurate statement on the government document, the signers said, “certainly is not how our founders envisioned the intrinsic rights of all Americans secured by the Constitution.”

“The use of the phrase Freedom of Religion accurately represents the broad freedom guaranteed to every citizen – religious and non-religious alike – to live life in the public square according to the dictates of conscience or religious sensibility.

“Freedom of religion is wholly different from freedom of worship, in that the former is broad and robust and the latter is narrow and limited.”

They quoted Michelle Obama in her address at the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., that followed the murder of nine people at prayer meeting there.

“Our faith journey isn’t just about showing up on Sunday for a good sermon and good music and a good meal. It’s about what we do Monday through Saturday as well. … Jesus didn’t limit his ministry to the four walls of the church, He was out there fighting injustice and speaking truth to power every single day,” she said.

The signers said: “We agree with our first lady and trust that you see the importance of properly articulating this important distinction. We request that the change be made as soon as possible wherever it appears in the naturalization process but especially in the study materials, so that those preparing for and taking the naturalization exam can have an accurate understanding of the foundational freedoms so beautifully expressed in our Constitution.”

Early in President Obama’s tenure in the White House, Catholic Online and other media outlets reported what appeared to be a deliberate attack on the Constitution’s “freedom of religion” protections.

The report noted a crucial change in Obama’s language between his June 2009 speech in Cairo, Egypt, in which he spoke of a Muslim America and its “freedom of religion,” and the November 2009 memorial for the Fort Hood soldiers gunned down by a radical Muslim, in which he termed it “freedom of worship.”

From that point on, “freedom of worship” has become the term of choice, the report said.

The use of the term in the naturalization process recently got attention in Congress.

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., charged during a hearing that included Johnson that the government was “misrepresenting” the First Amendment.

“We in the United States actually have freedom of religion, not freedom of worship,” Lankford said.

He said: "The questionnaire civics test has in it one of these things, 'What are two rights of everyone living in the United States, and it listed out six different things: freedom of expression, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom to petition the government, freedom of worship, the right to bear arms. I'd love to see 'freedom of worship' switched to 'freedom of religion.'"

Sarah Torre of the Heritage Foundation said the difference is significant. In practice across America, the "freedom to worship" seldom has been challenged or even questioned. But "freedom of religion" is under direct fire.

Just ask the New York landowners who were fined by the state for following their Christian faith regarding their sponsorship of same-sex ceremonies, or the Oregon bakery owners fined $135,000 for the same thing, or the Colorado baker who is fighting for his economic future against state officials suggesting that he go out of business because his faith forbids support of same-sex marriage.

image: http://www.wnd.com/files/2015/04/BigListCoercion.jpg

Other cases

Then there was the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, established in 1869 to provide a place for Christian meetings, which still operates as one of the more popular destinations for such events on the East Coast.

It houses one of the world's 20 largest pipe organs, and there are both traditional and contemporary worship programs all summer long that have featured speakers such as Billy Graham, Norman Vincent Peale, Robert Schuller, Billy Sunday, D. James Kennedy and Charles Stanley.

But the location no longer is used for weddings, because a lesbian duo was denied permission to use it, and a state discrimination complaint was filed.

The Hitching Post Wedding Chapel is facing demands from the city of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, to perform same-sex weddings in violation of the owners' Christian faith.

In Washington state, a state judge said the home, assets and savings of Arlene's Flowers owner Barronelle Stutzman, 70, could be targeted in court by two homosexuals for whom she declined to provide wedding services.

Early in Obama's administration, Catholic Online noted that Ashley Samelson of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty explained that to "anyone who closely follows prominent discussion of religious freedom in the diplomatic and political arena, this linguistic shift is troubling: The reason is simple. Any person of faith knows that religious exercise is about a lot more than freedom of worship."

"It's about the right to dress according to one's religious dictates, to preach openly, to evangelize, to engage in the public square. Everyone knows that religious Jews keep kosher, religious Quakers don't go to war, and religious Muslim women wear headscarves – yet 'freedom of worship' would protect none of these acts of faith."

Catholic Online said: "Let's be clear … language matters when it comes to defining freedoms and limits. A shift from freedom of religion to freedom of worship moves the dialog from the world stage into the physical confines of a church, temple, synagogue or mosque. … It … could exclude our right to raise our children in our faith, the right to religious education, literature or media, the right to raise funds or organize charitable activities and the right to express religious beliefs in the normal discourse of life."

***

Flash Traffic Blog / Joel C. Rosenberg

Millions Of Jews Have Begun Searching For The Messiah, Atonement

September 23, 2015

At sundown, we begin Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. This is the highest holy day on the Jewish calendar, and one of great Biblical and historic and cultural importance to my people.

I so wish I was home with Lynn and our sons in Israel tonight. Instead, I am in the U.S. speaking at a number of events, from Dallas to San Luis Obispo to Washington, D.C. to Toronto. I am speaking about the darkness that is falling in our world. But I am also explaining to people about a fascinating phenomenon that I’m observing.

Since last Yom Kippur, millions of Jews have begun a quest to find the Messiah. For reasons I cannot fully explain, Jews are suddenly searching for answers to the deepest and most important questions concerning life and death and God and atonement and eternity, in numbers unprecedented in history. Some are searching through the Hebrew Scriptures for answers.

A stunning number are actually reading the New Testament, most for the first time. They are searching on Google for information about the Messiah. They are even watching a new series of videos by Jews who claim to have found the answers. The videos — some of which have gone viral — were produced and posted on a new website called www.imetmessiah.com.

To me, these are fascinating developments. They certainly aren’t being reported by the media. But they are worth examining. That said, more on all that in a moment.

First, a few thoughts about Yom Kippur itself.

In the Scriptures, the Israelites were commanded by the Lord to fast and pray and bring their sacrifices to the Temple in Jerusalem, and then to ask for the Lord’s forgiveness for all the sins they and their nation had committed that year. And the Scriptures were clear: only the sacrifice of a perfect animal — a sacrifice performed with a humble, repentant, sincere heart, and with faith in God’s mercy and grace — could bring about forgiveness of sins.

•“For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” (Leviticus 17:11)

•“In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22)

But here’s the problem we Jewish people have face since the destruction of the Temple: What does one do to receive atonement in the modern age, without a Temple?

How can one make sacrifices, and thus receive forgiveness of sins — and thus the right to enter the holiness of heaven and live with the Lord in heaven forever and ever — without being able to sacrifice a perfect lamb at the Temple in Jerusalem, where the Lord designated all sacrifices to occur?

The destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 A.D. was a huge blow to Judaism for many reasons, but chief among them because it deprived us of the one place to receive atonement from God.

The good news was found in Daniel 9:24-26. The Hebrew prophet Daniel explained to us that:

•someday the Messiah (or “Anointed One”) would come to us


•when the Messiah came, his purpose would be “to atone for wickedness” and “to bring in everlasting righteousness”
•the Messiah would then be “cut off and will have nothing”
•after the Messiah was “cut off,” then Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed


•Daniel specifically noted that foreign invaders “will come and will destroy the city and the sanctuary”

Think about that. Daniel told us something extraordinary — that a coming Messiah would bring atonement for our sins before the Temple would be destroyed. That, in retrospect, makes sense, right? Why would the God of Israel take away the Temple before providing a new way for atonement?

Now, add in what the Hebrew prophet Jeremiah explained to us that not only was the Messiah coming to the Jewish people, but that He would bring a “new covenant,” a new and exciting and God-ordained way by which we would have a personal relationship with the Lord our God.

The Hebrew Prophet Isaiah gave us still more details about this coming Messiah. He explained that the Messiah would serve as King of the world eventually, but first the Messiah would be our “Suffering Servant.” That is, He would be rejected by the people, would suffer, and then die as our atoning sacrifice.



Consider these extraordinary passages from Isaiah 53:



3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.

11 After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
13 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors. 


Who does that sound like to yo
When I was younger, I tried to process these and other Hebrew prophecies of the Messiah. Among them:

•the Messiah will born in Judea, near Jerusalem, in Bethlehem Ephratah (Micah 5:2)


•the Messiah will live and minister in the Galilee (Isaiah 9:1-2)


•the Messiah will teach in parables (Psalm 78:2)
•the Messiah will enter Jerusalem on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9)


•the Messiah will be the Savior of the Jews but also a “light to the nations” (Isaiah 49:5-6)

These were fascinating, specific, detailed clues as to the identity of the One the Lord was sending to save and rescue our people. Each piece of the puzzle was helpful, but two clues I found especially interesting — first, that the Messiah had to be born in Bethlehem Ephratah, the city of David; and second that the Messiah absolutely had to come to bring atonement and righteousness to His people before the Temple and Jerusalem were destroyed in 70 A.D. Why? Because the God of Israel told us so through the Hebrew prophets.

I came to the conclusion that Jesus (Yeshua) of Nazareth is, in fact, the Messiah that Moses and the prophets spoke of. His death and resurrection were foretold by the prophets, and they prove that He is who He said He is: the “Way, the Truth and the Life, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him” (John 14:6). Jesus’ shed blood provides the only atonement for sins for Jews and Gentiles today. Jesus brought us the “New Covenant” — the new deal, as it were, between God and man — that the Hebrew Prophet Jeremiah told us to wait for.

True, many Jewish people have rejected Jesus over the centuries. But have we really stopped to examine what Moses and the prophets said, and how Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled every single one of those prophecies?

By God’s grace and kindness, my eyes were open. I received Jesus as Messiah, Savior and Lord when I was young. I humbled myself, confessed my sins to God the Father, believed in my heart by faith that Jesus died on the cross, and was buried, and rose again, according to the Scriptures. I confessed with my mouth that Jesus is the Lord. And so, as He promised, Jesus atoned for my sins. He washed them away, all of them, never to be remembered or held against me for all of eternity. He gave me eternal life. He — the King of the Universe — adopted me into His royal family. He gave me peace that passes all understanding. He gave me hope as an anchor for my soul. He gave me a purpose and a meaning for me life.

Why? Because I deserved it? No. Because I earned it? No. Because I could buy it? No. He gave all this to me for free, because He loves me, because He wanted to rescue me. And so I received Him into my heart by faith. For as the Scriptures explain so clearly, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12)

When my father, who was raised an Orthodox Jew in Brooklyn, discovered in 1973 — after a careful study of the Gospel According to Luke — that Jesus of Nazareth is the long-awaited Jewish Messiah, and received the Messiah by faith, my father thought he was one of the first Jews in history who believed this. He had never met a Jewish believer in Jesus. He had never heard of such a person. And in 1973, there were fewer than 2,000 Jewish people on the planet who were followers of Jesus.

But today, some 300,000 Jews around the world are followers of Jesus. And millions of Jews are searching for the Messiah and thus reading the Hebrew prophecies, and comparing them with the writings of the New Testament, and trying to decide whether Jesus really is the Messiah we have desperately longed for over so many centuries.

Today, on Yom Kippur, you can watch short videos of Jewish people explaining how they met the Messiah.

More than 10 million people have watched these videos just in the past few months.

Remarkably, more than 900,000 Hebrew speakers have watched the Hebrew-language versions of these videos in just the past four months. Given that there are only about 7 million Hebrew speakers in the world today, this means that nearly 1 in 7 of them have recently watched videos by Israeli Jews explaining how they came to discover that Yeshua is our Messiah.

The website is www.imetmessiah.com. Please visit, watch the videos, share them with family and friends, think about them and discuss them. And then I encourage you to humbly pray to God and ask Him to show you whether Jesus — Yeshua — is, in fact, the Anointed One who came to rescue and redeem us and atone for our sins and write our names in the Book of Life.

It is my earnest hope you will discover — or rediscover — Jesus for yourself this Yom Kippur and the days that follow. I’m praying for you to find His amazing love, grace and forgiveness, and the hope and joy that only He can give us.

May the God of Israel and His Anointed One bless you and your family beyond what you can hope for, dream of, or imagine.

***

THE JORDAN TIMES

Jordan condemns Israel closure of Al Aqsa, warns of consequences

By JT - Oct 02,2015 - Last updated at Oct 02,2015

Israeli forces arrest a Palestinian woman in the Old City of Jerusalem on Wednesday (AP photo by Mahmoud Illean)

AMMAN — Jordan on Thursday condemned the continued closure of Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem by the Israeli forces and its detaining of worshippers.

Government Spokesperson and Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications Mohammad Momani said the Jordanian government is “angered” by the Israeli violations and this unprecedented aggression motivated by the Jewish holidays.

Momani said Jordan rejects both the geographical and time-based divisions of Al Aqsa.

The Israeli forces on Thursday resumed their military-imposed closure of Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, allowing Jewish settlers to tour Al Haram Al Sharif compound.

The Israeli forces restricted entry for Muslim men and women under 50, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

Momani warned Israel of the consequences of such an unprecedented threat that cannot be accepted by any Muslim.

He said this breach comes in violation of international laws and conventions that compel an occupier to maintain the status quo in an occupied territory.

Momani warned that these escalations by Israel push the region towards “ominous confrontations” and create a fertile ground for radical forces.

He pointed that Jordan can and will exert all diplomatic and legal efforts to make Israel stop its flagrant violations.

The Israeli forces chased women and dragged them away from the mosque’s gates towards Damascus Gate, one of the oldest gates in Jerusalem, threatening to arrest and banish them from the holy city, a statement from the Awqaf Ministry in Jerusalem said.

During the Jewish celebration of Sukkot festivities, the Israeli forces imposed a firm closure of the mosque and allowed only those who are over 50 years old to enter during the settlers’ raiding period which lasts every day until noon prayer.

Tens of Jerusalemite worshippers had to perform dawn prayer on the streets and roads near barricades placed by the Israelis near Al Aqsa Mosque’s gates.

Moreover, the occupation forces set up more barricades and spread patrols around the city as well as a huge number of special units, known as border guards.

***

21stCenturyWire

Do You Realise What You’ve Done?’ – Putin Pulverizes Western Actions in Syria at UNGA

SEPTEMBER 28, 2015 BY STUART HOOPER

Watch a video of this report here:

In his speech at today’s United Nations General Assembly, Russia’s President Putin took the time to absolutely pulverize Western actions in Syria.

Putin decried the continued “export” of democratic revolutions and when referring to the Middle East he asked: “how did that turn out?“

He said such actions have led to “violence and social disaster“, where democracy and human rights are absolutely no where to be found.

Putin invoked the potential for international order itself to collapse if such actions are allowed to continue, saying:

“Russia is ready to work on the basis of broad consensus on the further development of the United Nations with all partners. But we believe that attempts to undermine the authority and legitimacy of the United Nations are extremely dangerous. This can lead to the collapse of the entire architecture of international relations.“

Putin the Peacemaker. (Photo Credit: Russian Presidential Office)

This situation, Putin warned, would lead to the “rule of force” controlling the world, where “selfishness rather than collective work” would dominate relations upon a system of “dictate rather than equality.”

In particular regard to Syria, Putin said: “We think it is an enormous mistake to refuse to cooperate with the Syrian government and its armed forces who are valiantly fighting terrorism face to face.”

Such praise for the Syrian Government and Syrian Army is wholly deserved, as Putin added “We should finally acknowledge that no one but President Assad’s armed forces and [Kurdish] militia are truly fighting Islamic State and other terrorist organizations in Syria.”

Others in the Russian government have recently called the West’s actions ‘social engineering‘, and now Russian cooperation with Damascus is looking to solve the crisis.

***

Independent

What’s Russia up to in Syria? I would wager they're after something big – retaking Palmyra from Isis

Recapturing the ancient city would be an epic symbol of new ambitions

By Robert Fisk

PUBLISHED

28/09/2015

That goes without saying. And Putin isn’t worried about losing the only warm water Mediterranean port still in Moscow’s hands.

He wants a victory. Syria’s army, the only institution upon which the regime – indeed, the entire state apparatus – depends is being re-armed and trained for a serious military offensive against Isis, one which is meant to have enormous symbolic value both in the Middle East and in the world.

Military plans always get delayed. And the moment the first artillery piece sends off a shell, the plans always go wrong. In Syria, operational details change every day and every night. But I’ll wager a well-informed guess right now – and we’ll keep calling this a guess, if only for form’s sake – that the Syrian army is being primed to recapture the ancient Roman city of Palmyra from the Islamists.

New Russian fighter-bombers, new anti-armour missiles, perhaps even the new T-90 Russian tanks are being prepared for the desert terrain. One of Syria’s most modern air force bases lies scarcely 50 miles from Palmyra – on the main road east to Homs – and the Syrian army has for months planned for an attack around the city.

Only weeks ago, they postponed an offensive for fear that Isis would destroy the rest of the Roman city. But such concerns have now diminished. Isis has shown itself quite willing to destroy the Roman temples without a military assault on its forces.

Now a reminder. At this moment, I’m keeping to the “informed guess” that I mentioned above. The regime has to hold onto Aleppo lest it collapses into Isis hands and is immediately declared the Caliphate’s Syrian capital.

The Syrian army has to keep open the road to Lebanon and the heights of Qalamoun along the Lebanese border. It cannot risk any more towns falling into Isis hands. But Palmyra is top of the list for the doubtful privilege of “liberation” from Isis.

The date would be within the next three weeks, but – since all Middle East battles slide off the time chart – we could probably run up to early November, before the rains begin sweeping across the sands from Iraq. Palmyra is a pearl to be recaptured because the world – with utter insensitivity, far more concerned about the fate of its imperial Roman ruins than its people – has registered the city’s loss to Isis last May as a major success for the “Caliphate”.

But for Putin, an offensive would – or will – be an epic symbol of Russia’s new projection into the Middle East. For Obama and Cameron and the rest of our Western leaders, who have fumbled around Syria for four years, neither dethroning Assad nor defeating Isis, a Russian-assisted recapture of Palmyra would be a humiliating lesson.

Trusting in Moscow – and remember that Egyptian President al-Sissi was taking Putin to the Cairo opera only a few months ago – may look like a better bet for any Middle East leader than relying on Western support.

Politically, of course, a post-victory Palmyra will leave Assad much more secure in his half of Syria. Already the Americans and British are waffling about his “transitional” role in a future Syrian government – a “transition” which we all know could last for years. Putin is not pouring Russian treasure into the Syrian death pit to allow his man in Damascus to be overthrown. His Ukrainian president ran away. But Assad did not scarper off to Russia over these past four years. Nor has he remained in Damascus only to be pensioned off as a “transitional” president.

But what comes after Palmyra? The recapture of much of Aleppo – a far more risky project – or a return to Idlib city or even an attempt to seize the Isis “capital” of Raqqa? Relief, certainly, for the surrounded regime garrison in the desert city of Deir Ezzour. But a dark genie moves around the Syrian desert, awarding no prizes to the brave or the foolhardy. If Russia and Syria have made their plans, be sure that Isis have other operations up their sleeve; a strike into central Damascus, for example, as the rebels tried three years ago.

Nor will Russia be able to shake off the ghosts of Afghanistan in Syria. You cannot “capture” deserts. Nor can a new Russian air fleet defeat Isis on its own. At the very least, it must not tangle with Syria’s neighbours, which is almost certainly why Benjamin Netanyahu has just met Putin – to ensure that Israel does not misconstrue the meaning of Russian high altitude planes north-east of Golan.

And the restoration of regime control – even over Palmyra – will lead to no broad sunlit uplands. Putin and Assad are not planning for any parliamentary democracies on the road to Damascus. But if Isis – along with its Putin-hating Chechen fighters – gets its wings clipped, then the US – and Nato – will have to negotiate with Moscow over the future of Syria.

All of which, of course, will read like a curse to the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees bleeding away from their country on their great trek north through the Balkans.

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RT

RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT UNANIMOUSLY APPROVES USE OF MILITARY IN SYRIA TO FIGHT ISIS

The request for use of force was sent by the president after considering the large number of citizens of Russia and neighboring countries, who went to join terrorist groups

by RT | SEPTEMBER 30, 2015

The upper chamber of the Russian parliament has unanimously given a formal consent to President Putin to use the nation’s military in Syria to fight terrorism at a request from the Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Consent was necessary for use of the country’s military for foreign combat missions under the Russian constitution.

The request for use of force was sent by the president after considering the large number of citizens of Russia and neighboring countries, who went to join terrorist groups fighting in Syria, head of the presidential administration Sergey Ivanov told media. There are thousands of them, and Russia’s national security would be under threat, should they return home, he added.

“This is not about reaching for some foreign policy goals, satisfying ambitions, which our Western partners regularly accuse us of. It’s only about the national interest of the Russian Federation,” the official said.

Ivanov stressed that no ground operations are planned in Syria. Russia would use its warplanes to hit terrorist targets when requested by the Syrian government. He stressed that unlike the US-led coalition of countries that bombs militant troops in Syria, Russia was invited to do so by the legal authorities of Syria and thus follows international law.

“The military goal of the operation is strictly to provide air support for the [Syrian] government forces in their fight against Islamic State,” he said.

The bombing campaign is time-limited, Ivanov said, not revealing a clear deadline for it. He said he was not authorized to disclose details of the operation such as the number of warplanes involved.

“All our partners and allies will be informed about our decision today through corresponding military channels. Specific military information will be provided as well, I believe,” he concluded.

Military engagement in Syria would not result in Russia being mired in conflict, Konstantin Kosachev, head of the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, said commenting on the news.

“We would not risk getting stuck in a long conflict and threaten the lives of our troops. The operation is aerial only. Certainly, in coordination with the ground operation of the Syrian army,” he told the Rossiya 24 news channel.

Previously, Russia provided the Syrian government with advanced weapons and military instructors to teach the Syrians how to use them.

The development comes after Moscow has intensified involvement in Syria, establishing an Iraqi-based military communications center with Damascus, Baghdad and Tehran.

It also happened just days after President Putin called for an international anti-terrorist effort in Syria that would include the government of President Assad at the UN General Assembly. Western nations have been seeking to oust Assad since 2011, but several key nations such as Germany, France, Britain and the US have confirmed they would not be opposed to Assad staying in power for a transitional period, which would include defeating the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorist group.

IS has taken over large portions of Syria and neighboring Iraq and is on its way to creating a caliphate. Islamic State has consolidated its position with a combination of successful raids, barbaric brutality and active campaigning on social media targeting potential recruits and supporters worldwide.

There are other significant militant groups active in Syria, including an Al Qaeda branch in the region, Al Nusra Front, which competes with IS for territory, resources and fighters. Another major player in the country is the Kurd militia, which has been defending the Kurd-populated north from IS with assistance from the US-led coalition.

Russia’s airstrike approach is similar to the US-led coalition, which involves bombing terrorist targets in Syria. But there is a clear distinction that may allow Moscow to succeed where Washington failed, says John Laughland from the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation in Paris.

“The difference with the Russian deployment – and this is the key point – is that it is being conducted in cooperation with the Syrian Army. The Russian approach is diametrically the opposite of the Western approach. The Syrian Army has boots on the ground,” he told RT.

If the Syrian Army with Russia’s help manages to score victories against Islamic State, this would expose the US as not really trying to defeat the terrorist group militarily, but actually trying to channel its aggression against Damascus, Syrian political analyst Annar Waqqaf told RT.

“The Americans are certainly using the Islamic State. They think they can contain them, because they know that their funding and support base lays [sic] with US allies in Saudi Arabia and that their logistic lies with the US allies in Turkey. They believe that whenever they want to close the tap they can close it. But in fact it’s not true,” he explained.

Russia’s alliance with Syria, Iran and Iraq would mean that Saudi Arabia and Turkey would have to stop ‘playing double games’ in Syria, says Srdja Trifkovic, international affairs analyst at the Chronicles magazine. The Saudis are financing IS and supporting the Al Nusra Front, in order to take power from the Assad government, and Turkey is more interested in fighting Kurds than Islamic State, he explained.

“It will no longer be possible in the new setup with the Iranians, the Iraqis, the Syrians and the Russians sharing intelligence for the Gulf monarchies and for [Turkish President] Erdogan to get away with this duplicity. For as long as they are able to do so, the Americans couldn’t really get very far with their anti-ISIS campaign,” he told RT.

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INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES

Chinese troops to join Russian marines in Syria soon, says report

By Johnlee Varghese 
| Updated: September 27, 2015 14:46 IST

Chinese troops reportedly are on their way to Syria to join the Russian forces in Latakia. (representational image)Reuters File

After the Russians and Iranians, Chinese troops reportedly are teaming up with the Syrian regime forces in what is being termed as the deal that will allow President Bashar al-Assad to stay in power.

A report claims that a Chinese naval vessel carrying dozens of "military advisers" is on its way to Syria and the Chinese troops will then join with the "hundreds" of Russian soldiers.

However, according to Israeli military news website – DEBKAfile, the aircraft carrier, Liaoning-CV-16, is already docked at the Syrian port of Tartus, accompanied by a guided missile cruiser.

The Chinese troops are expected to join the Russian forces in the Latakia region, where the Russians are building a massive military base.

In recent weeks, world leaders including the US have been forced to reconsider their stance on Syria, largely owing to Russia's continued backing for Syrian President Assad and its bold move to dispatch military troops and aircraft to Syria.

A CNN report on Sunday (27 September) confirmed that Iraq has agreed to share military intelligence with Russia and Syria to fight Isis.

Similarly Iran, emboldened by the Russians, last week dispatched 1,000 soldiers to Syria. Iran has claimed that it has deployed the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to assist the Hezbollah in Zabadani.

And within days after the arrival of the Iranian marines, reports last week revealed that Russian forces reportedly teamed up with the Hezbollah and the Syrian army to carry out a raid against an Islamic State (Isis) near Aleppo.

The Russians reportedly launched an attack on Isis at the Kweiris airbase located east of Aleppo.

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WND

WEAK: KERRY BEGS RUSSIANS FOR 'DE-CONFLICTION TALKS'

'This is a very, very, very sad day for America and the world'

DOUGLAS ERNST

Published: September 30, 2015

Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the United Nations Security Council in New York, Wednesday Sept. 30, 2015.

Secretary of State John Kerry did the diplomatic equivalent of groveling on his hands and knees before his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, on Wednesday.

Faced with reports of Russian warplanes in Syria attacking non-ISIS positions near Homs, Kerry called for “de-confliction talks” with Russia from the United Nations Security Council in New York.

“We would have grave concerns should Russia strike areas where ISIL and al-Qaida-affiliated targets … are not operating,” Kerry said, Fox News reported.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to ramp up Moscow’s military presence in Syria to support President Bashar Assad caught the Obama administration flat-footed and complicates its stated goal of simultaneously ousting Assad’s regime while degrading and destroying ISIS.

“Russia has played a horrible hand brilliantly. We folded what could have been a pretty good hand,” retired U.S. diplomat Ryan Crocker and Middle East expert told the Washington Post on Tuesday. “The Russians were able to turn a defensive position into an offensive one because we were so completely absent.”

Republican Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, echoed Crocker’s sentiment while appearing on MSNBC Wednesday with Andrea Mitchell.

“What we should be doing and saying to the Russians is that we’re going to fly anywhere, anytime, anyhow we want to in order to stem the flow of ISIS. … Instead, we’re talking about trying to have some accommodation with Russian aircraft. Again, an incredible sign of weakness. … Isn’t it clear yet that Putin is going to do what he wants to do because he believes he can do it with impunity?” asked the Arizona senator.

McCain also took time to explicitly blast Kerry.

“John Kerry and his spokesperson said it is not clear what Russia’s intentions are. It was perfectly clear what Russia’s intentions are!”

The senator said Putin is asserting Russian military might in a way not seen since 1973 to protect his military base in Tartus and prop up Assad.

Kerry’s speech Wednesday also asserted U.S. warplanes would continue to operate in Syrian airspace despite Russian requests to cease all flights.

“The United States and the coalition will continue our ongoing air operations as we have from the very beginning,” Kerry said.

“It did not have to be this way,” McCain said earlier in the day from the U.S. Senate floor. “This is the inevitable consequence of hollow words, red lines crossed … and a total lack of American leadership. … This is a very, very, very sad day for America and the world,” Fox News reported.

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SPUTNIK

Catalan Election Results Threaten to Rock the EU

17:45 28.09.2015(updated 18:35 28.09.2015)

Pro-independence parties are celebrating in Catalonia after winning an absolute majority in regional elections. Crowds are chanting "invincible, invincible" and dancing in the streets, expressing their desire for independence, while EU leaders play down the potential for a Catalexit.

The main pro-independence party, the Junts per Si won 72 seats and the smaller nationalist CUP party won 10 seats in the regional parliament. The party leaders will now proceed with their promise to create an independent Catalan state.

"We have won", regional President Artus Mas told his supporters who has vowed to separate from Spain within18 months. But only 47 percent of the votes were cast for pro-independence parties, suggesting a future referendum may not automatically lead to victory.

Pro independence supporters wave "estelada" or pro independence flags during a rally of "Junts pel Si" or "Together for YES" in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015 © AP PHOTO/ EMILIO MORENATTI

Madrid's conservative government has vowed to reject any push for independence and has ordered an urgent reform of Spain's constitutional court to stop any future moves for a breakaway state. But the results don't just threaten to rock Spanish unity — but its relationship with the European Union.

Germany has instantly reacted to regional elections calling for the country to respect EU treaties, but the citizens of Catalonia may well be able to have their Catalan cake and eat it.

There is no plan in place for what happens when an EU member state splits apart. If Catalonia breaks away from Spain, the state would automatically be excluded from the EU and the euro.

However, Spain's constitution says that citizens "living abroad" can keep their Spanish passports. So, even without being a member of the EU, citizens of a new Republic of Catalonia would keep their EU citizenship.

Catalonia, which produces 20 percent of Spain's gross domestic product, is an economically healthy region and Barcelona and Madrid aren't keen on losing it. And neither is Brussels.

Another potential split in the Eurozone is another headache for the European Commission, which has only just finalized bailout talks with Greece, avoiding a Grexit, and faces more rounds of reform discussions with Britain keen to reform its relationship with the EU, paving the way for a potential Brexit.

Not to mention the refugee crisis which has split political opinion in almost every member state and led to walls and fences being built across an "open Europe".

Commenting on the regional elections in Catalonia, the European Commission (EC) spokesman Margaritis Schinas said:

"The EC, in principle, does not comment on regional elections, [it is] an internal matter for Spain."

"[It's] not for the Commission to express a position on a matter of internal organization related to the constitutional provisions of a member state."

The EU maybe be playing down their interest in regional elections — but as momentum gathers in "invincible" Catalonia, the Commission won't be able to ignore a Catalexit, and the potential economic fallout for Spain — and the Eurozone.

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RT

Catalonia head charged with of abuse of power over independence referendum

Published time: 29 Sep, 2015 20:30

The head of the regional government in Catalonia has been indicted for unconstitutionally calling a referendum on independence from Spain last year. This comes just two days after his party and other secessionist forces won a regional election.

Recently, Artur Mas has promised his fellow Catalans that if pro-independence parties secured the majority in the regional parliament, independence from Spain would be a done deal. And so, on Sunday, the foundation of that promise was attained: absolute majority was secured, although, the parties only won 48 percent of the vote.

Despite the gains, Mas now has been summoned by Catalonia's Supreme Court (TSJC) for pushing through a non-binding referendum last November, even after Spain’s Constitutional Court explicitly forbade him doing so.

He faces preliminary charges of disobedience, abuse of authority and usurping authority and will have to appear in court in October.

As it becomes more evident that Catalonia wants independence, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has once again repeated that he will not discuss “the unity of Spain.” With a general election coming up in December, he has ruled out any possibility of a referendum on the issue.

Meanwhile, Rajoy’s own People’s Party is getting historically low numbers in the Catalan election – the lowest in 20 years. Experts believe this to be directly related to the continued blocking of Barcelona’s independence referendum.

The Catalan Government said in a statement that it hasn’t “done anything illegal,” according to the Catalan News Agency. It further labeled the court’s decision to indict Mas as “a democratic anomaly” and “a political judgment.”

The left-wing leader Oriol Junqueras called Madrid’s tactics “the best example” of why Catalonia must secede. “As long as we belong to the Spanish State, normal things such as asking the citizens’ opinion will turn into lawsuits and summonses,” he said in a radio interview.

Various Catalan institutions and departments joined in the criticism against Madrid, although some in the region, such as the Conservatives, are diametrically opposed to Mas, believing that Catalonia can’t have a leader who is summoned for disobedience.

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Daily Mail

Mexican representative for the vulnerable suggests homeless should be culled with lethal injections

Olga Guttierrez Machorro gave speech on how to solve homeless problem

Comes as town of Tecamachalo deals with increasing number of beggars

Said that they could be culled as it is 'kinder to give them a lethal injection'

By JENNIFER NEWTON FOR MAILONLINE

PUBLISHED: 11:12 EST, 28 September 2015 | UPDATED: 12:57 EST, 28 September 2015

A Mexican councillor has caused outrage after suggesting that homeless people should be culled by lethal injection.

Olga Gutierrez Machorro represents vulnerable groups in Tecamachalco, a suburb of Mexico City, which has a spiralling homelessness problem.

But while speaking at an event in the south-central Mexican state, she talked about how to help the homeless and disadvantage.

Olga Gutierrez Machorro who represents vulnerable groups in Tecamachalo, a suburb of Mexico City, who said homeless people should be culled by lethal injection

However, she provoked anger when she said culling those without shelter would help to solve the homeless problem adding that it would be 'best for them'.

Her remarks, reported in local newspaper Cambio, came when she alleged that the local government lacked the necessary resources to deal with an increasing number of beggars on the streets.

She claimed that she herself had a big heart but was unable to solve the homeless problem alone.

Ms Machorro also said that she had often offered her home and office as a sanctuary for those individuals with nowhere to go - but said it wasn't a real solution.

She explained: 'Yes they're a little crazy, but they're harmless. Which is why I think to myself, wouldn't it be kinder to give them a lethal injection?'

achorro represents Tecamachalco, which is experiencing a spiralling problem with homelessness and beggars

The councillor then went on to allege that local hospitals were already unofficially killing patients with mental health problems.

She said that patients deemed 'unagressive' would be dumped in the middle of motorways in a bid to put them at risk.

However, her comments caused much indignation among the local population and she has since apologised.

She has now promised a new action plan which is to be put forward to the government in a bid to solve the problem.

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PreventDisease .com

One Whiff of These 10 Scents Can Relieve Stress Almost Instantly

SEPTEMBER 23, 2015 by APRIL McCARTHY

Ever wonder why some scents make you feel relaxed or energized? It’s no coincidence and we have our olfactory system to thank for its intimate relationship with the brain, which affects both our memory and mood. Here are 10 scents which will enhance this system with just one whiff.

1) Lemon


Promotes concentration and allows the mind to calm especially when angry, anxious or very exhausted. Lemon boosts the body's immune system, improving circulation and is known to reduce anxiety and depression.

2) Cinnamon

The stimulating properties in cinnamon can help fight mental fatigue and improve concentration and focus. Researchers from Wheeling Jesuit University studied participants and found that those who took a whiff of cinnamon improved in cognitive functions like visual-motor response, working memory and attention span.

3) Lavender

Lavender helps calm the mind and body almost instantly. But perhaps its most useful benefit is its ability to help treat insomnia. This essential oil has calming ands sedative properties that help control emotional stress. Lavender has a soothing effect on nerves and can relieve nervous tension and depression as well as treat headaches and migraines.

4) Rain

After a rainstorm, especially a rain storm that breaks a long dry spell, the world smells different. The clean scent after a rainfall is partially caused by ozone cleaning away some of the scents we take for granted. The smell of rain can literally relieve stress and improve your mood by over 60%

5) Fresh Cut Grass

Scent researchers found that a chemical released by a newly-mowed lawn can make people feel joyful and relaxed. The smell apparently is so powerful that neuroscientists came up with a perfume and air fragrance that matches it so the lawnless can also reap the benefits of the feel-good scent.

6) Peppermint

Try peppermint when brainstorming. An energy booster, this scent invigorates the mind, promotes concentration and stimulates clear thinking. Smelling peppermint is linked to greater cognitive stamina, motivation and overall performance

7) Vanilla

In a study published in the Proceedings of ISOT/JASTS 2004, researchers found that taking a whiff of vanilla bean elevated participants' feelings of joy and relaxation. The results were measured through mood mapping, which included emotions ranging from happiness and stimulation to apathy and irritation.

8) Rosemary

The stimulating effect of rosemary may enhance certain aspects of mental function. People who work in rosemary-scented cubicles have better long-term memory than those who worked in unscented cubicles. Rosemary improves long-term memory, alertness and has properties that fight physical exhaustion, headaches and mental fatigue.

9) Pine

Pine decreases anxiety and alleviates stress. In one Japanese study, participants who went on a walk through pine forests reported significantly lower depression and stress levels. The research also discovered that anxious subjects had a greater feeling of relaxation after indulging in the scent.

10) Jasmine

Like lavender, jasmine it is also used to calm nerves, but this oil is also commonly used as an anti-depressant because of its uplifting capabilities that produce a feeling of confidence, optimism and revitalized energy.

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PACIFIC STANDARD

Here's a Reason to Smile: Happy People Live Longer

New research finds happier people live longer, on average, while angry ones are more likely to die early.

Tom Jacobs

September 24, 2015

Happy cat, healthy cat. (Photo: Masyle/Shutterstock)

Are you one of those people who regularly flies into a rage? If so, you might want to seriously consider taking up meditation, or trying some type of therapy to get a better handle on your temper.

Otherwise, you might pay the ultimate price: an early death.

That's the conclusion of new research published in the journal Social Science and Medicine. The study followed a large sample of American men over time, and found one particular trait—a propensity to get angry—was an excellent predictor of whether they'd still be alive 35 years later.

Meanwhile, a separate study published in the same journal finds a strong relationship between happiness and longevity. It suggests that, the happier you are, the better your chances of living a long life.

"Happiness appears to be inversely related to perceived stress, and may protect against illness through better immune response."

So Lewis Black is hastening his own death, but lengthening the lives of his delighted fans. Who knew he was such a selfless guy?

Let's start with the good news. A research team led by Elizabeth Lawrence of the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, examined data on 31,481 Americans, which was collected as part of the General Social Survey between 1978 and 2002. The researchers noted whether each was still alive in 2008, and then looked at their answers to various survey questions decades earlier.

The primary question they looked at was: "Taken all together, how would you say things are these days—would you say that you are very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?" The research team also noted various factors that have been shown to influence well-being, including marital status, education, income, and religiosity.

They report that 31.4 percent of adult Americans described themselves as "very happy," while 56.9 percent called themselves "pretty happy," and only 11.6 percent "not too happy." More to the point, they found "the level of happiness reported at the time of the interview is related to the risk of death years later."

"Compared to very happy people, the risk of death over the follow-up period is 6 percent higher among those who are pretty happy, and 14 percent higher who are not happy, even after controlling for an array of demographic, socioeconomic, and lifestyle-related factors," they write.

In hindsight, this isn't too surprising. As the researchers point out, "Happiness appears to be inversely related to perceived stress, and may protect against illness through better immune response."

The anger study was conducted by a research team led by Iowa State University's Amelia Karraker. These researchers looked at "35 years (1972-2007) of data from men ages 20 to 40 in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a nationally representative sample in the U.S."

The 1,307 male heads of households were asked a series of questions annually from 1968 through 1972, including whether they "get angry fairly easily" or, conversely, if it takes "a lot to get them angry." Their answers for each of the five yearly surveys were averaged.

The researchers report that, being among the angriest 25 percent (that is, men who reported that they angered fairly easily on at least two of the five surveys), "is associated with a 1.57 fold increase in the risk of dying at follow-up, compared with those in the bottom quartile."

What's more, the relationship between self-described anger and mortality remained robust after taking into account such factors as income, marital status, and whether they smoked cigarettes.

Again, the reasons for this are not really a mystery. "Prior work has linked anger with a variety of negative physiological processes, including atherosclerosis and endothelial dysfunction," they note, "which can lead to serious and potentially fatal health events such as heart attack."

Now, it's important to remember that repressing anger has also been linked with poor health. So the remedy is not to stuff the rage down, but rather to get at the deeper emotions it's likely covering up, such as fear, hurt, and even guilt.

Feeling those emotions—and admitting them to others—can be awfully painful, especially for men taught it's wrong and unmanly to be vulnerable. But aren't a few minutes of pain a decent trade-off for a few extra years of life?

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Until next week...keep on believing.
Almondtree Productions

He that hath seen me hath seen the Father”.
John 14:9


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