Greetings and Happy Easter. The resurrection is the reason we can continue to rejoice and look forward to a wonderful future no matter how mad the world becomes.
Paul, the apostle, said in 1 Corinthians 15; “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” The outlook for us in this world may not always look so wonderful which is one reason we need to look to our future where; “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.”
Incidentally, as you may know, 1 Corinthians 15, does conclude with the resurrection; “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
Once again, we are presenting some articles concerning the situation in Cyprus and the possible fallout that could result as a consequence of the decisions made.
One thing we have not heard in any news reports is that the possible catastrophic results that could occur because of possible bank withdrawals throughout Europe, may be exactly what the elite have planned.
These are not stupid people when it comes to finances. They have many so called “think tanks” where they try to work out every possible scenario. They surely must have known that by taking a large percentage of peoples savings in Cyprus they would be creating an atmosphere of distrust and uncertainty throughout the entire European banking system.
Maybe they believe it is time to pull the plug and collapse the worlds financial system to help usher in the antichrist, one world government, and his mark of the beast.
Or, could God have completely confounded them? We shall see.
Anyway, have a great week ahead, and remember; “To be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Romans 8:6
The New York Times Magazine
Oy Vey, Christian Soldiers
Illustration by Tom Gauld
By MAUD NEWTON
Published: March 22, 201
Of all the surprises promised by the recent TLC reality show "The Sisterhood," which followed the lives of five Atlanta preachers' wives, the only one that truly amazed me was the Christian bar mitzvah, an event organized by Pastor Tara Lewis and her husband, Pastor Brian, for their son, Trevor. Brian was born to Jewish parents; Tara was not. Both are born-again Christians, and they're of one mind about their son's bar mitzvah as a Christ-centered take on the traditional Jewish coming-of-age ceremony.
In one episode of "The Sisterhood," Brian and Tara plan the theme of the bar mitzvah cake. "How about Christ in the Torah?" Brian asks. "Amen," Tara answers.
Their Jesus-fied version of the Jewish ritual is intended to celebrate both Trevor's ethnic heritage through his father and, even more important, his spiritual identity through salvation. For, in the eyes of the Lewises and many fundamentalists like them, born-again Christians are in some sense more truly Jewish than actual Jews are.
I grew up in a Charismatic church and later went to public high school in a heavily Jewish neighborhood of Miami, yet I was unfamiliar with a trend of bar mitzvahs among Christians. So I decided to e-mail the Lewises for details. Brian Lewis identifies as a Charismatic Christian (tongues-speaking, faith-healing, demon-exorcising), and in our correspondence, he conceded that "there is a biological basis for Jewishness and Jewish genetics" but pointed out that there has often been intermarriage; consider the biblical Ruth, a Moabite "who married Boaz and became the great-grandmother of King David." Quoting Galatians 3:28-29, Brian says, "In Christ's family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew," but all are equally Abraham's descendants and "heirs according to the covenant promises."
Tara put it more plainly. "Dr. Brian and I believe in the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment," she wrote to me. Jews and gentiles "who are saved will be resurrected to eternal life," while those who are lost face "the resurrection of eternal damnation." She cited "God's end-time plan for the nation of Israel and for the world."
Obviously a reality show is no metric by which to judge the reality of anything, but when I dug into the concept of a Christian bar mitzvah -- or a bar barakah, meaning "son of the blessing," as Craig Hill calls it in his 1998 book on the subject -- I discovered that the ritual is gaining traction among some evangelicals. It's an outgrowth of the fundamentalist fascination with Judaism that has emerged and intensified since the publication of Hal Lindsey's "Late Great Planet Earth" in 1970.
Lindsey's book -- a huge best seller -- described an Armageddon theology in which the modern state of Israel stands as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy, setting in motion a series of events that will culminate with the second coming of Christ. Essentially Lindsey advocated a respect not just for Israel but also for the Jewish people, who were, after all, chosen of God. For many old-guard Protestants, who grew up hearing Jews described as "Christ-killers," this shift was disorienting. It's hard to overstate the traditional distrust, separatism and anti-Semitism that marked American fundamentalism until then. According to Robert Michael's "Concise History of American Antisemitism," Oliver Wendell Holmes, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Richard Wright were just three prominent 20th-century anti-Semites who later renounced their bigotry. Many others did not, even after the atrocities of World War II. Following a 1972 prayer breakfast, Richard Nixon concluded a conversation with Billy Graham by calling Jews an "irreligious, atheistic, immoral bunch of bastards." Graham, a mainline evangelical leader widely considered to be reasonable and moderate, spoke of a "synagogue of Satan" and denounced the Jewish "stranglehold" on the media.
These days, though, mainline Protestants are borrowing from Jewish tradition. For example, Kevin Ibanez, a pastor at Sunrise Church in Rialto, Calif., started wondering along with his wife why there was no male equivalent to the quincineras thrown for girls in Hispanic families for their 15th birthdays. So they decided to give their son, Joshua, a Christian-inflected version of the bar mitzvah to help prepare him for adulthood. In the lead-up, Joshua studied Hebrew and the Scripture with a Messianic friend of the family's. At the event, he wore a prayer shawl and sang the Sh'ma Yisrael.
Rabbi Eliot Pearlson of Temple Menorah, a traditional conservative synagogue in Miami Beach, tells me that he began to notice non-Jews borrowing the traditions and trappings of his faith roughly 20 years ago. He has encountered Christians holding seders, being married under chuppahs and wearing prayer shawls over their clothes. He says some Christians wear zizit with red thread rather than blue to symbolize the blood of Christ. And a growing number of evangelicals travel to Israel partly to obtain Jewish ritual objects like skullcaps and rams' horns.
If anyone can serve as a weather vane for this phenomenon, it's John Hagee, an influential Charismatic preacher and the inspiration to Brian and Tara Lewis. His sermon "The Mystery of the Prayer Shawl" is available on CD. "The tallit, or prayer shawl, designed by God, has been worn by devout Jews for centuries," his Web site explains. "Its legacy is woven throughout the Old and New Testaments. It still carries the power to energize your prayer life." For $49, believers can also buy a blue-and-gold tallit made in the Holy Land. Hagee fervently supports Israel, believes that the Jews must return there before Jesus will come again and claimed in a 1999 sermon that prophesies in the Old Testament proved that God enabled the Holocaust. "God allowed it to happen," Hagee said. "God said, 'My top priority to the Jewish people is to get them to come back to the land of Israel.' "
Personally, I am deeply uncomfortable with the role assigned to Jews in the end-times pageant of Hagee and his ilk. So I was surprised to learn that Rabbi Pearlson knows and seemingly respects Hagee. A few years ago both men attended a rally of what Pearlson calls "pro-Israel Zionist Christians" at Miami's Ministerio Internacional El Rey JesÃºs. The Christians, Pearlson recalls, were "folk-dancing and singing songs in Hebrew -- correctly." Firing up the crowd, Hagee urged the Christians not to proselytize to the Jews in attendance because of the Jews' "unique relationship to God." The event raised $250,000 for Israeli bomb shelters. By the rabbi's recollection, some of the things Hagee said that night "made the Jewish people there cry," they were so touched.
Most modern-day Protestant fundamentalists believe that the Jews are (at least until Jesus' return) God's chosen people. If Christ himself was Jewish, and followed Jewish tradition, the thinking goes, why shouldn't Christians consider the ways their savior actually lived and practice the rituals he practiced? Many evangelicals have traded contempt of the past for a respectful, almost fetishistic view of Jews and, now, Jewish tradition. What this means in practice is extremely complicated. There's a big difference between building bridges across cultures to foster understanding and building bridges so you can run across and ransack the other side.
Rabbi Jason Miller, a member of Rabbis Without Borders, takes an attitude of tolerance toward Christian bar mitzvahs. As a practitioner of the Torah, he is interested in sharing "Jewish wisdom with the entire community." When I mentioned the TLC reality show to him, Rabbi Miller said Brian and Tara Lewis have "the right to their belief" that their son "is more authentically Jewish" because of Christ. Then he continued: "Is it insulting? Yeah. It bothers me in my gut. But I have to take a step back."
His colleague Rabbi Rebecca Einstein Schorr, who debated the Lewises in a fascinating (and cringe-inducing) conversation on Huffington Post Live, takes a different view. "Bar mitzvah, by its very language, indicates that the honoree is a Jew," she tells me. "Belief in Jesus as a deity or savior is incompatible with Judaism. It takes a special kind of presumption to declare oneself a more authentic version of a religion other than one's own." I couldn't agree more.
Looking for deep background on the Lewises' and many fundamentalists' view of themselves as "true Jews," I consulted James McGrath, a progressive Christian and the author of "The One True God." "The idea of Christians as 'true Israel' goes back earlier than even the term 'Christian' does," he told me. As Christianity began to separate from Judaism, this conviction was accompanied by a view that the Jews erred not merely in failing to recognize Jesus as the Messiah but also in interpreting their Scripture too literally. So the literal approach of contemporary fundamentalists like John Hagee "is a relative latecomer in the long history of Christianity," even though it sells itself as "the one authentic form of Christianity."
The real problem is that, fundamentally, this fetishistic view of Judaism and the role of Israel in the advent of the end times sees Jews as a people to be herded together so that another group can achieve its eternal reward. To me that's a troubling catechism. It's ultimately not so far from the "Christ-killers" narrative of yore, just with an Israel-friendly varnish.
As Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater wrote a year and a half ago in The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, the real-world trouble with "the messianic vision of the 'end times' " is that it "actually involves the destruction of Jerusalem, which paves the way for the second coming." He was responding to comments made by Glenn Beck -- another proponent of this apocalyptic vision -- but when I asked Grater about it, he agreed that this applies equally to a person like Hagee, who offers "a false front of 'support for Israel,' which, sadly, many Jews have bought into as true support."
I asked Rabbi Miller about John Hagee's end-times machinations. (Here's Hagee paraphrasing biblical Scripture: "When they, the Jewish people, see him whom they have pierced -- and the word 'pierced' there actually refers to his rib and side -- when they see him whom they have pierced, they will weep as one weeps for his only son for a period of one week.") In this case, Rabbi Miller takes an attitude of tolerance. Like Pearlson, Miller knows Hagee personally and, having carved out some common ground, offers no harsh words. Instead, he appreciates Hagee's "love for the Jewish State of Israel," even if he disagrees "with certain aspects of his post-apocalyptic theology." Pressed on the subject, Pearlson recalled the night of the bomb-shelter fund-raiser and called the Christians who sang there in Hebrew "true Zionists." "You know what?" he said finally. "I wish some Jewish people were as Zionistic as they are."
Exo-Vaticana: Pope Francis Poised For Extraterrestrial Disclosure
By Cris D. Putnam
Exo-Vaticana documents the Vatican Observatory Research Group's (VORG) endorsement of the astrobiological project and theological revisionism in expectation of extraterrestrial contact. In light of our extraordinary exposé concerning the Vatican's plans for the arrival of an alien savior, the unexpected election of Pope Francis comes into a brilliant new focus. As a young adult, Bergoglio earned a master's degree in chemistry from the University of Buenos Aires and had scientific ambitions prior to entering the Jesuit order. When the current leader of the VORG, José Gabriel Funes, S.J., also from Argentina, entered the Jesuit order, one of the three examiners was Bergoglio. Funes, who astounded the world with his essay The Alien is my Brother, is infamous for invoking St. Francis of Assisi as an apologetic for accepting ET, "To say it with St. Francis, if we can consider some earthly creatures as 'brothers' or 'sisters', why could we not speak of a 'brother alien'? He would also belong to the creation." In other words, Funes and the VORG are leading the charge to accept extraterrestrials at face value even arguing they could be morally superior to humans.
The Vatican's Take on Aliens?
Funes believes the first Jesuit Pope will soon turn his attention to issues like astrobiology once his papacy is established:
One Jesuit who shares the pope's Argentine roots and has known him since his own days as a novice, said the election of the man he first knew as Father Bergoglio is "a joy for the country."
Father Jose Funes, head of the Vatican Observatory, told Catholic News Service that the election of an Argentine Jesuit with a background in science (he studied chemistry at a trade school before entering the Jesuits) can only be good for all those interests. However, he said, "I think the pope will be focused on other priorities first."
Pope Francis' intimate association with the VORG leader implies a surprising new relevance to his election in the role of Petrus Romanus. The Pontifical Academy of Science's 2009 Astrobiology Conference key note speaker Dr. Chris Impey predicted a forthcoming extraterrestrial disclosure saying, "the first discovery is only a few years away." Impey's few years are now upon us and recent exoplanet discoveries seem to offer promise. Thus, it appears that Pope Francis will indeed be the sitting Pontiff when that disclosure event occurs. In Exo-Vaticana we offer evidence and arguments that this entails the strong delusion that leads the world to believe the lie that the Apostle Paul warned us to expect (2 Thessalonians 2: 11).
 Francis X Rocca "Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio: a profile" Catholic Herald (March 13,2013) accessed March 23, 2013 http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2013/03/13/cardinal-bergoglio-profile/ Also see: http://www.ibtimes.com/pope-francis-master-chemistry-another-example-catholicisms-long-association-science-1131595
 José Gabriel Funes, "The Extraterrestrial is My Brother," L'Osservatore Romano, May 14, 2008 (English translation of article viewable here: http://padrefunes.blogspot.com/).
 Patricia Zapor "Jesuits surprised that first of their brethren is elected pope" Catholic News Service accessed March 23, 2013 http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1301160.htm
 "Pontifical Academy Studies Possibility of Extraterrestrial Life," Catholic World News, November 11,2009, http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=4568.
LESBIAN MARY, MOTHER OF GOD!
Public school performs 'gay' play mocking Bible, laughing at bestiality
by DREW ZAHN
Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."
A public charter school in Massachusetts turned a deaf ear to protests last week and followed through with performing a pro-homosexual play that mocks the Bible and has been blasted as "blasphemous."
Students from the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School, or PVPA - which serves 400 pupils, grades 7-12, in South Hadley, Mass. - on March 15-17 performed the controversial play, "The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told."
A 1998 Paul Rudnick comedy that had a run in theaters in New York City, "The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told" alters the biblical Book of Genesis to include homosexual couples Adam and Steve and Jane and Mabel in the Garden; as well as a "horny" rhinoceros that tries to seduce men on the Ark; and Mary, the mother of Christ, arguing she can't be pregnant, because she's a lesbian "bull-dyke."
A New England theater guide, The Theater Mirror, in a glowing review, further explains the play "gets so specific as to be a gay how-to sexbook" and summarizes it as "a goofy gay romp with a serious sting in its tale."
News of the play's pending performance prompted protests from several sectors, including students, parents and even the president of the school's board of trustees, who said he seconded a student opinion that the play is disrespectful to Christianity.
The bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, Mass., however, was even more blunt.
According to The Springfield Republican, the Most Rev. Timothy A. McDonnell responded through a spokesman: "I didn't know it was the responsibility of charter schools to teach religious bigotry."
Within the community, crowds of protesters showed up at the performances, including Noreen Beebe of Northampton, Mass., who told the Republican she was "insulted" that taxpayer money is being used mock Scripture.
"It breaks my heart to see a public school doing a parody of the Bible," Beebe said.
Pam Rys of Ludlow told the newspaper said she considers the play "hate speech in the form of art."
The play's director, however, argued, "It's not a play that bashes religion, but it does make fun of some religious attitudes."
During a rehearsal leading up to the performance, he clarified, "Although it's full of jokes - some of them at the expense of religious fundamentalism - the play, is, at its heart, a thoughtful investigation of the meaning of faith and family."
William Newman, director of the Western Massachusetts office of the American Civil Liberties Union, also defended the play, stating, "The highest function of art is to make people think and talk and consider and be challenged. This play seems to fill the aspirations and goals of art."
According to WWLP-TV, in Springfield, Mass., PVPA Head of School Scott Goldman said he had been bombarded with emails and phone calls alleging the play was "blasphemous and hateful," but that the show would go on.
"While we have no control over whether organizations from other states decide to protest the show, it is clear to me that many of the most recent emails are attempts to coerce PVPA into cancelling the play," Goldman told the station. "Allowing this to happen would very much go against the grain of our unique, artistic and intellectually rigorous PVPA community, and the larger Pioneer Valley community."
Goldman conceded that while the play may not be appropriate for younger audiences, he believes it suitable for high-school aged students.
Indeed, the play did go on, even over a the objections of a crowd of roughly 50 protesters who reportedly gathered on opening night.
According to minutes of a school-trustee meeting held earlier this month, the board intends to discuss in the future the process of how plays are selected to be performed by the students.
It's not just schools that are bringing homosexuality into biblical stories. Some churches themselves are.
As WND reported, a Christian church in America's heartland redefined the birth of Jesus story, as its living Nativity scene in December 2010 featured two women instead of a man and a women starring as Joseph and Mary.
"It's not very groundbreaking at all to use the youngest baby in the congregation to play the role of Jesus. The parents just happened to be two women," said Rev. Linda Butler, pastor of St. Timothy's United Methodist Church in Cedar Falls, Iowa. "They were playing the role of the Holy Family, not necessarily Mary and Joseph. We never referred to the moms as Mary and Joseph. We referred to them as the Holy Family."
N.D. lawmakers define start of life, outlaw abortion
Michael Winter, USA TODAY
March 22, 2013
Bill declares that life begins at conception. Voters to decide separate "personhood" amendment.
(Photo: Mike McCleary, The Bismarck Tribune/AP)
Bill is one of a series of anti-abortion measure state Legislature has passed
The so-called personhood measure bestows human rights on fertilized human eggs
The threat of costly litigation may be less of a deterrent in oil-rich North Dakota than in other states
North Dakota lawmakers Friday completed action to outlaw almost all abortions, voting to define life as beginning at conception.
The Republican-dominated House also approved a so-called personhood amendment that asks voters to change the state's constitution to recognize and protect "the inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development." Besides conferring human rights on fertilized eggs and outlawing abortion, the proposition, which will be on the November 2014 ballot, could potentially affect end-of-life decisions for adults.
A third piece of legislation passed Friday by the House requires abortion clinic physicians to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. The legislation is aimed at shutting down the state's only abortion clinic, in Fargo.
The House narrowly defeated a fourth Senate-passed abortion bill, which would have defined a human being "as an individual member of the species homo sapiens at every stage of development." It would have also prohibited the intentional destruction of healthy embryos, a move to block embryonic stem cell research.
A week ago, lawmakers sent Gov. Jack Dalrymple, a Republican, one bill that outlaws abortion as early as six weeks and another that forbids women from aborting a fetus that has a serious genetic defect.
An abortion opponent, Dalrymple has not said whether he will sign any, all or some of the five measures, which would be the most restrictive in the nation.
Abortion opponents hailed Friday's action.
"We applaud North Dakota for defending life. The bills in North Dakota protect the lives of the most innocent Americans, those without a voice, in the womb. Hopefully, these bills will start a national discussion about what life is and our duty as a civil society to protect it. It starts in the states," Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, told LifeNews.
Abortion-rights groups denounced the results and have promised a court fight if any becomes law.
"I am outraged that North Dakota women's rights and personal health are under attack by extreme politicians. Not only is the Personhood bill extraordinarily dangerous, it's unconstitutional," EMILY's List President Stephanie Schriock said in a statement. She predicted that voters would reject the "extremist" amendment, which she called unconstitutional.
The U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion up to about 22 to 24 weeks of pregnancy, but several states have passed laws since then that have restricted or banned most abortions.
In Friday's voting, the House approved Senate Bill 2368, which defines life as beginning at conception and bans abortions at or after 20 weeks. The bill, which cleared the Senate last month, includes an exemption for medical emergencies only.
The "personhood" resolution, which passed the Senate in February, cleared the House on 57-35 vote. Similar constitutional amendments in other states have been rejected.
"We are intending that it be a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, since (Justice Antonin) Scalia said that the Supreme Court is waiting for states to raise a case," said the sponsor, Republican state Sen. Margaret Sitte.
Planned Parenthood noted that such constitutional changes have been turned back in Colorado, Ohio, Mississippi and Oklahoma.
"Politicians in North Dakota are wasting taxpayer time advancing what would no doubt become another divisive constitutional amendment with dangerous unintended consequences for North Dakota families," said Sarah Stoesz, the head of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota. "Planned Parenthood will continue to fight these legislative attacks on women's health in partnership with a broad coalition of doctors, patients, teachers, lawyers and other concerned North Dakotans who do not want to see politicians inserting themselves into the private medical decision-making of women and families in our state."
Could Spain and Italy be next? Fears that Cyprus-style raid on savings accounts will be used to bail out struggling economies
Investors jittery that both countries could need another EU rescue deal
Spain in recession, Italy struggling to form government to clear huge debt
EU finance chief suggested Cyprus could be blueprint for future bailouts
Savers on island with more than £85k could lose up to 40% of their money
ALL banks in Cyprus to stay closed until Thursday to stop run on deposits
Cyprus will not to need to vote on deal because bank law already in place
But Germany may have to hold vote before agreement can take effect
By JAMES CHAPMAN and SIMON TOMLINSON
PUBLISHED:25 March 2013
British savers in Spain and Italy could be next to suffer a Cyprus-style raid on bank accounts if those struggling economies fail again, it was warned today.
Investors have reacted nervously in the two countries after it emerged the Cypriot rescue deal could be used as a template for other bail-outs.
Both are seen as the most likely contenders for any future bailouts.
Spain is in recession, having suffered badly from souring property loans, and data points to a further deterioration that will hamper Madrid's efforts to rein in public finances and keep government borrowing under control.
In Italy, concern is focused on the fall-out from inconclusive elections a month ago that left the eurozone's third-largest economy battling to form a government, raising worries that reform efforts would be impaired.
Matt Basi, head of sales trading at CMC Markets, told MailOnline: 'The general perception is that were Europe to take another turn for the worse, they (Spain and Italy) are the two largest economies most susceptible.'
Jeroen Dijsselbloem (centre), pictured announcing the deal with IMF chief Christine Lagarde (left) and EU Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn (right), warned that more Cyprus-style bailouts could be needed
Country in turmoil: A worker restores a damaged door of a branch of a Bank of Cyprus in the early hours of Monday after a bomb attack at Polemidia, a suburb of the southern port city of Limassol
Furious: Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has accused the European Union of theft over its bailout of Cyprus which will impose heavy losses on his foreign investors
Relief: Cypriot Prime Minister Nicos Anastasiades gives his reaction to the deal on Twitter
He added: 'This (Cyprus) bail-out is a potential template for other bail-out packages.
'It is a natural consequence of the way markets have evolved and the way finance ministers have taken a stance against publicly funded bail-outs.
'People are more averse to governments pumping money into banks and taking the burden.'
Under the Cyprus deal, bank customers with more than £85,000 of savings will have a chunk of their cash - possibly as much as 40 per cent - seized to bail out troubled lenders.
Spanish and Italian bond yields rose yesterday after remarks from the head of the eurozone's finance ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, suggested it could be used as a blueprint elsewhere in the region.
There are an estimated 750,000 Britons in Spain and 30,000 in Italy.
Both countries were bailed out in a £600billion deal last year and are again showing signs of uncertainty.
Saying their prayers: Cypriots attend a Sunday service at Saint-Mamas Orthodox church in Nicosia
Spain's public deficit, one of the highest in the eurozone, and uncertain growth outlook after almost four years of economic contraction put the country at the centre of the debt crisis last year.
Debt as a percentage of gross domestic product hit 84 per cent at end of 2012.
But the country's economic minister said the crisis in Cyprus had not prompted any flight of bank deposits from Spain and insisted the problems facing the island were exceptional and unique.
'To generalise the Cypriot situation to other economies in the eurozone is completely out of place,' Luis de Guindos said.
De Guindos said he expected the Spanish economy to grow almost 1 percent in 2014 after returning to growth in the last quarter of this year.
The government expects the economy to contract by 0.5 percent this year overall, though is likely to revise this figure when it presents its economic plan to Brussels next month.
On Spain's banks, de Guindos said the system would not need more aid after accepting a more than 40-billion-euro ($52 billion) package from Europe to rescue banks weighed down by hundreds of billions of euros in bad debt after the country's property market crash in 2008.
In Italy, panic spread through European stock markets last month as political paralysis in elections sent shares tumbling.
The result slowed the country's recent economic gains and threatened to tip the entire eurozone back into full-blown crisis mode.
In a rejection of the austerity reforms needed to ease the country's massive debt, more than a quarter of voters backed the Five Star Movement, led by comedian Beppe Grillo.
Meanwhile, the disgraced former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi unexpectedly exploded back on the scene with 29.2 per cent of the vote.
Investors have been rattled by Berlusconi's strong showing as he is demanding to be included in any new government.
However, there was no sign his centre-left rival Pier Luigi Bersani was considering such a move.
'The situation in Italy has been overshadowed, but it remains a big risk factor,' said Niels From, chief analyst at Nordea in Copenhagen.
'There could be more focus on it now that they have to start more seriously to find a government.
'The risk is of new or early elections and what the outlook is for how the parties will be (represented) in the parliament.'
Panic buying: Crowds flock to supermarkets for fear of lack of products due to supply shortages in Nicosia
Last night, Mr Dijsselbloem launched a desperate attempt to undo the damage after his comments, writing on Twitter: 'Cyprus specific case. Programmes tailor-made to situation, no models or templates used.
The suggestion that savers in other eurozone countries - potentially in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and even France - could be hit with a similar levy triggered a big slump in banking shares.
There was growing anger in Cyprus at the terms of the deal, with some senior politicians on the debt-stricken Mediterranean island suggesting it should quit the euro rather than accept it.
In what was branded a 'fundamentally anti-democratic' move, the German Bundestag will get a vote on the Cypriot bailout, while the island's parliament will not.
After Cypriot MPs refused to back a deposit tax on all savers, a deal agreed with the EU and the International Monetary Fund will affect only the wealthiest - those with more than £84,660 (100,000 euros).
They will lose up to two-fifths of their bank savings. The deal will hit thousands of wealthy Russians who have stashed their money in Cyprus, amid widespread allegations of money laundering.
It will also bankrupt many Cypriot businessmen overnight.
Because the bailout plan is a restructuring - with one lender, Laiki, wound down altogether - it will not need to go to the Cypriot parliament for approval.
Germany rubbed salt in Cyprus's wounds by declaring it was delighted with the outcome.
German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble said: 'This is bitter for Cyprus, but we now have the result the [German] government always stood up for.'
Cyprus had been given until yesterday to raise £4.9billion to unlock a £8.5billion EU/IMF bailout, or face bankruptcy.
Concern: Without a deal, the European Central Bank said it would cut off emergency funds to Cypriot banks, spelling certain collapse and potentially pushing the country out of the euro zone
David Cameron said the crisis in Cyprus was a reminder both that Britain was right not to join the euro and of the need to press on with deficit reduction.
'It is good that an agreement has been reached,' the Prime Minister said. 'The first proposal to tax people's bank accounts under £100,000 was a complete mistake and I'm glad that has been avoided.'
Experts said Cyprus faced years of hardship in order to remain in the euro.
Shortages of food and medicine are expected in the coming weeks because of a lack of cash in Cypriot banks, the majority of which had been due to reopen today following more than a week of enforced closure.
But the country's finance minister has now ordered all banks to remain shut until Thursday.
The announcement last night by the Central Bank of Cyprus came hours after it said all banks except the country's two largest lenders, Laiki and Bank of Cyprus, would open this morning.
Banks have been closed since March 16 to avert a run on deposits as the country's politicians struggled to come up with a plan that would raise enough funds to qualify for an international bailout.
An initial plan that would seize up to 10 per cent of people's bank accounts had spooked depositors and was soundly rejected by MPs.
All except the country's two largest lenders had been due to open today after the country clinched an 11th-hour deal with the 17-nation eurozone and the International Monetary Fund.
Without that deal, the country's banks would have collapsed, dragging down the economy and potentially pushing it out of the eurozone.
But last night the Central Bank said that 'for the smooth functioning of the entire banking system, the finance minister has decided, after a recommendation by the governor of the Central Bank, that all banks remain shut up to and including Wednesday'.
Spare change: People buy goods from a vegetable market in central Nicosia. The EU's economic affairs chief said there were now 'only hard choices left' for the latest casualty of the euro zone crisis
Purchases: A woman buys goods from a vegetable market in Nicosia. A run on banks could be on the way
ATMs have been functioning, but many run quickly out of cash, and a daily withdrawal limit of 100 euros (£85) was imposed on the two largest lenders, Bank of Cyprus and Laiki.
Fiona Mullen, an economist specialising in Cyprus, said that while the deal had prevented an overnight exit from the euro, many Cypriots would wonder if it would be better off leaving anyway.
'They feel very betrayed by an awful lot of countries in this and I think that there are going to be longer term implications,' she said, adding there might be a 'short term crunch' on supplies of food, medicine and other essentials.
She said economic growth was likely to suffer: 'Let's say minus 15 per cent for the first year and minus 5 per cent the next year.'
Archbishop Chrysostomos II, head of Cyprus's Orthodox Church, repeated his calls for an exit from the single currency.
Earlier, Mr Dijesselbloem, who is the Dutch finance minister, had said: 'If there is a risk in a bank, our first question should be "OK, what are you in the bank going to do about that? What can you do to recapitalise yourself?"
'If the bank can't do it, then we'll talk to the shareholders and the bondholders, we'll ask them to contribute in recapitalising the bank, and if necessary the uninsured deposit holders.'
Eurozone bank shares were hit by his remarks. Italy's Intesa Sanpaolo slumped by 6.2 per cent, Santander slid 3.2 per cent, Société Générale 6 per cent and Credit Agricole 5.8 per cent.
22 March, 2012
NICOSIA - A web site on Friday claims to have seen an urgent bulletin from the Russian Foreign Ministry sent to its embassies all over the world advising both Russian citizens and companies to begin divesting their assets from Western banking and financial institutions "immediately". - The site said the Kremlin feared grow that both the European Union and United States were preparing for the largest theft of private wealth in modern history. - According to this "urgent bulletin," this warning is being made at the behest of Prime Minister Medvedev who earlier today warned against the Western banking systems actions against EU Member Cyprus. - "All possible mistakes that could be made have been made by them, the measure that was proposed is of a confiscation nature, and unprecedented in its character. I can't compare it with anything but ... decisions made by Soviet authorities ... when they didn't think much about the savings of their population. But we are living in the 21st century, under market economic conditions. Everybody has been insisting that ownership rights should be respected.," he said on Thursday. - The story on the site "What does it mean. com" was written by Sorcha Faal without further elaboration.
The 'Currency War' is in full swing
Max Keiser, the host of RT's 'Keiser Report,' is a former stockbroker, the inventor of virtual specialist technology and co-founder of the Hollywood Stock Exchange.
Published time: March 25, 2013 15:30
A woman rides her bike past a Laiki (Popular) Bank branch on March 25, 2013 in Nicosia.(AFP Photo / Yiannis Kourtoglou)
Cypriots are having their wealth confiscated to feed the debt monster of Lloyds, RBS, the ECB, IMF, Barclays, JP Morgan, Goldman and the rest of the axis of banksters terrorizing our bank accounts and economies.
Eric Holder, America's supine Attorney General says he's scared to death to prosecute bank crime. Hank Paulson got away with stealing $750bn. during the TARP charade. Moral Hazard has become the new normal. Stealing is the biggest business in the world right now.
Amazingly, I get tweets and emails every day from people saying my metaphors are too strong; too violent. These people have battered wife syndrome. No matter how badly the banks beat you, you come back for more. No matter how violently the banks finanically rape you, you still think they love you and will come around some day. So you return to get beaten again and again. I find it quite pathetic and I think that the possibility of the economy growing at a sufficient rate to generate enough taxable income to pay off their debts is zero. If the vast majority of the public, (and America's Attorney General) won't defend themselves against financial rape and beatings why should we have any expectations that honest entrepreneurs with businesses to start and people to hire will find it within themselves to bother. Why support this system by actively taking part in it? I don't give money to the ku klux klan so why would I want to create a business and jobs for a banking system that supports financial beatings and murder?
I think the bigger question is; will the confiscation of money by the IMF and Germany from depositors in Cyprus end up being the trigger for military conflict? We've seen coups and revolutions started for less, not to mention WWI.
If a ground war does start - and replaces the 'Currency War' - then I think we can safely say the first shot fired was the robbery of bank deposits in Cyprus. As always, I recommend Gold, Silver and Bitcoin as a safe haven during this turbulent time. Also, if you want to take part in the first Hollywood movie ever financed using Bitcoin.
Bloomberg News -
BRICS Nations Plan New Bank to Bypass World Bank, IMF
Mike Cohen & Ilya Arkhipov -
March 26, 2013
The biggest emerging markets are uniting to tackle under-development and currency volatility with plans to set up institutions that encroach on the roles of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
The leaders of the so-called BRICS nations -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- are set to approve the establishment of a new development bank during an annual summit that starts today in the eastern South African city of Durban, officials from all five nations say. They will also discuss pooling foreign-currency reserves to ward off balance of payments or currency crises.
"The deepest rationale for the BRICS is almost certainly the creation of new Bretton Woods-type institutions that are inclined toward the developing world," Martyn Davies, chief executive officer of Johannesburg-based Frontier Advisory, which provides research on emerging markets, said in a phone interview. "There's a shift in power from the traditional to the emerging world. There is a lot of geo-political concern about this shift in the western world."
The BRICS nations, which have combined foreign-currency reserves of $4.4 trillion and account for 43 percent of the world's population, are seeking greater sway in global finance to match their rising economic power. They have called for an overhaul of management of the World Bank and IMF, which were created in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, in 1944, and oppose the practice of their respective presidents being drawn from the U.S. and Europe.
Press For Truth
Civil War And The Litmus Test - "Will You Shoot Americans?"
March 28, 2013
Dr. Jim Garrow is a renowned author and whistleblower who has been nominated for a Nobel peace prize for his humanitarian work. He is the author of The Pink Pagoda: One Man's Quest to End Gendercide in China.
He has spent over $25 million over the past sixteen years rescuing an estimated 40,000 baby Chinese girls from near-certain death under China's one-child-per-couple policy by facilitating international adoptions. He is the founder and executive director of the Bethune Institute's Pink Pagoda schools, private English-immersion schools for Chinese children. Today he runs 168 schools with nearly 6,300 employees.
Dr Garrow was recently contacted by a high ranking military official who implored him to reveal the truth about a "litmus test" that is being proposed by the Obama administration to the military asking the question "will you shoot Americans if they won't give you their guns?"
Judge in Sarkozy probe gets death threat
By CNN Staff
March 28, 2013
Paris (CNN) -- The judge who placed former French President Nicolas Sarkozy under formal investigation for breach of trust has received a written death threat with blank cartridges in the mail at his office in Bordeaux, a spokeswoman for a magistrates' union said Thursday.
The letter that judge Jean-Michel Gentil received Wednesday, which also threatened other magistrates, was signed "The law enforcement interaction," union spokeswoman Sophie Combe said.
Bordeaux police are investigating the letter.
In the breach of trust case, Sarkosy is accused of accepting illegal contributions from L'Oreal cosmetic heiress Liliane Bettencourt and her staff to help fund his 2007 campaign, Sarkozy's attorney said last week, according to CNN affiliate BFM-TV.
His lawyer, Thierry Herzog, said last week that he intends to appeal the ruling, according to BFM-TV.
Hip Hop Is Read
"The Secret Meeting that Changed Rap Music and Destroyed a Generation"
TUESDAY, APRIL 24, 2012
This anonymous letter landed in my inbox about a minute ago:
After more than 20 years, I've finally decided to tell the world what I witnessed in 1991, which I believe was one of the biggest turning point in popular music, and ultimately American society. I have struggled for a long time weighing the pros and cons of making this story public as I was reluctant to implicate the individuals who were present that day. So I've simply decided to leave out names and all the details that may risk my personal well being and that of those who were, like me, dragged into something they weren't ready for.
Between the late 80's and early 90's, I was what you may call a "decision maker" with one of the more established company in the music industry. I came from Europe in the early 80's and quickly established myself in the business. The industry was different back then. Since technology and media weren't accessible to people like they are today, the industry had more control over the public and had the means to influence them anyway it wanted. This may explain why in early 1991, I was invited to attend a closed door meeting with a small group of music business insiders to discuss rap music's new direction. Little did I know that we would be asked to participate in one of the most unethical and destructive business practice I've ever seen.
The meeting was held at a private residence on the outskirts of Los Angeles. I remember about 25 to 30 people being there, most of them familiar faces. Speaking to those I knew, we joked about the theme of the meeting as many of us did not care for rap music and failed to see the purpose of being invited to a private gathering to discuss its future. Among the attendees was a small group of unfamiliar faces who stayed to themselves and made no attempt to socialize beyond their circle. Based on their behavior and formal appearances, they didn't seem to be in our industry. Our casual chatter was interrupted when we were asked to sign a confidentiality agreement preventing us from publicly discussing the information presented during the meeting. Needless to say, this intrigued and in some cases disturbed many of us. The agreement was only a page long but very clear on the matter and consequences which stated that violating the terms would result in job termination. We asked several people what this meeting was about and the reason for such secrecy but couldn't find anyone who had answers for us. A few people refused to sign and walked out. No one stopped them. I was tempted to follow but curiosity got the best of me. A man who was part of the "unfamiliar" group collected the agreements from us.
Quickly after the meeting began, one of my industry colleagues (who shall remain nameless like everyone else) thanked us for attending. He then gave the floor to a man who only introduced himself by first name and gave no further details about his personal background. I think he was the owner of the residence but it was never confirmed. He briefly praised all of us for the success we had achieved in our industry and congratulated us for being selected as part of this small group of "decision makers". At this point I begin to feel slightly uncomfortable at the strangeness of this gathering. The subject quickly changed as the speaker went on to tell us that the respective companies we represented had invested in a very profitable industry which could become even more rewarding with our active involvement. He explained that the companies we work for had invested millions into the building of privately owned prisons and that our positions of influence in the music industry would actually impact the profitability of these investments. I remember many of us in the group immediately looking at each other in confusion. At the time, I didn't know what a private prison was but I wasn't the only one. Sure enough, someone asked what these prisons were and what any of this had to do with us. We were told that these prisons were built by privately owned companies who received funding from the government based on the number of inmates. The more inmates, the more money the government would pay these prisons. It was also made clear to us that since these prisons are privately owned, as they become publicly traded, we'd be able to buy shares. Most of us were taken back by this. Again, a couple of people asked what this had to do with us. At this point, my industry colleague who had first opened the meeting took the floor again and answered our questions. He told us that since our employers had become silent investors in this prison business, it was now in their interest to make sure that these prisons remained filled. Our job would be to help make this happen by marketing music which promotes criminal behavior, rap being the music of choice. He assured us that this would be a great situation for us because rap music was becoming an increasingly profitable market for our companies, and as employee, we'd also be able to buy personal stocks in these prisons. Immediately, silence came over the room. You could have heard a pin drop. I remember looking around to make sure I wasn't dreaming and saw half of the people with dropped jaws. My daze was interrupted when someone shouted, "Is this a f****** joke?" At this point things became chaotic. Two of the men who were part of the "unfamiliar" group grabbed the man who shouted out and attempted to remove him from the house. A few of us, myself included, tried to intervene. One of them pulled out a gun and we all backed off. They separated us from the crowd and all four of us were escorted outside. My industry colleague who had opened the meeting earlier hurried out to meet us and reminded us that we had signed agreement and would suffer the consequences of speaking about this publicly or even with those who attended the meeting. I asked him why he was involved with something this corrupt and he replied that it was bigger than the music business and nothing we'd want to challenge without risking consequences. We all protested and as he walked back into the house I remember word for word the last thing he said, "It's out of my hands now. Remember you signed an agreement." He then closed the door behind him. The men rushed us to our cars and actually watched until we drove off.
A million things were going through my mind as I drove away and I eventually decided to pull over and park on a side street in order to collect my thoughts. I replayed everything in my mind repeatedly and it all seemed very surreal to me. I was angry with myself for not having taken a more active role in questioning what had been presented to us. I'd like to believe the shock of it all is what suspended my better nature. After what seemed like an eternity, I was able to calm myself enough to make it home. I didn't talk or call anyone that night. The next day back at the office, I was visibly out of it but blamed it on being under the weather. No one else in my department had been invited to the meeting and I felt a sense of guilt for not being able to share what I had witnessed. I thought about contacting the 3 others who wear kicked out of the house but I didn't remember their names and thought that tracking them down would probably bring unwanted attention. I considered speaking out publicly at the risk of losing my job but I realized I'd probably be jeopardizing more than my job and I wasn't willing to risk anything happening to my family. I thought about those men with guns and wondered who they were? I had been told that this was bigger than the music business and all I could do was let my imagination run free. There were no answers and no one to talk to. I tried to do a little bit of research on private prisons but didn't uncover anything about the music business' involvement. However, the information I did find confirmed how dangerous this prison business really was. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. Eventually, it was as if the meeting had never taken place. It all seemed surreal. I became more reclusive and stopped going to any industry events unless professionally obligated to do so. On two occasions, I found myself attending the same function as my former colleague. Both times, our eyes met but nothing more was exchanged.
As the months passed, rap music had definitely changed direction. I was never a fan of it but even I could tell the difference. Rap acts that talked about politics or harmless fun were quickly fading away as gangster rap started dominating the airwaves. Only a few months had passed since the meeting but I suspect that the ideas presented that day had been successfully implemented. It was as if the order has been given to all major label executives. The music was climbing the charts and most companies when more than happy to capitalize on it. Each one was churning out their very own gangster rap acts on an assembly line. Everyone bought into it, consumers included. Violence and drug use became a central theme in most rap music. I spoke to a few of my peers in the industry to get their opinions on the new trend but was told repeatedly that it was all about supply and demand. Sadly many of them even expressed that the music reinforced their prejudice of minorities.
I officially quit the music business in 1993 but my heart had already left months before. I broke ties with the majority of my peers and removed myself from this thing I had once loved. I took some time off, returned to Europe for a few years, settled out of state, and lived a "quiet" life away from the world of entertainment. As the years passed, I managed to keep my secret, fearful of sharing it with the wrong person but also a little ashamed of not having had the balls to blow the whistle. But as rap got worse, my guilt grew. Fortunately, in the late 90's, having the internet as a resource which wasn't at my disposal in the early days made it easier for me to investigate what is now labeled the prison industrial complex. Now that I have a greater understanding of how private prisons operate, things make much more sense than they ever have. I see how the criminalization of rap music played a big part in promoting racial stereotypes and misguided so many impressionable young minds into adopting these glorified criminal behaviors which often lead to incarceration. Twenty years of guilt is a heavy load to carry but the least I can do now is to share my story, hoping that fans of rap music realize how they've been used for the past 2 decades. Although I plan on remaining anonymous for obvious reasons, my goal now is to get this information out to as many people as possible. Please help me spread the word. Hopefully, others who attended the meeting back in 1991 will be inspired by this and tell their own stories. Most importantly, if only one life has been touched by my story, I pray it makes the weight of my guilt a little more tolerable.
Take a tour of billionaire's high-tech castle in Ozarks
Sep 21, 2011
Bob Linder / Springfield News-Leader
By Scott Stump, TODAY.com contributor
As the monolithic structure began to rise on an isolated mountaintop in Missouri's Ozarks, the chatter grew: Who was building this cement castle?
"The first theory we heard was the movie star theory,'' the home's owner told TODAY. "After that, it escalated to aliens.''
The mega-mansion wasn't Brad and Angelina's new fortress of solitude, a military bunker or an extraterrestrial alien colony.
While Pitt did grow up in nearby Springfield, Mo., it turns out that the 72,000-square foot work-in-progress is the future home of software entrepreneur Steven Huff. Started nearly two years ago and slated to be completed by late 2013, the energy efficient, state-of-the-art, disaster-proof mansion made of concrete will be the fourth largest home in America, and certainly one of the most unique. While its owner is no longer a secret, the price tag is. Huff has not divulged the cost of the land or the final construction bill.
Huff recently took NBC's Kevin Tibbles for a tour of the mansion that he has dubbed "Pensmore,'' a name derived from the contraction from the French word for "thinking'' and the English word "more.''
The massive structure will require several thousand yards of concrete to build. The building materials include a concrete additive that contains tiny pieces of wire that will allow the structure to withstand everything from an F-5 tornado to a bomb blast. Tornadoes are certainly a concern, as Pensmore is in rural Christian County, Mo., not too far from Joplin, the town that was ravaged by a powerful tornado on May 22.
Huff liked the insulated concrete technology so much that he bought the company, Wisconsin-based TF Forming Systems, that produces it. He hopes to put the disaster-proof mix to use in building schools, hospitals, and other homes in the not-too-distant future.
One challenge of owning a home that will be bigger than the White House and Hearst Castle and just a bit smaller than Buckingham Palace is the cost of heating and cooling it. Huff has thought of that, too: Plastic tubes are containing liquid antifreeze powered by solar energy are embedded in the home's walls. They will alternately cool or heat the house without using any electricity.
The other challenge of building an enormous concrete home is aesthetic. When people think concrete, they think "ugly,'' Huff noted. So Huff and his builders are looking to remedy that concern by designing the exterior of the 13-bedroom, 14-bathroom home to resemble a French chateau.
The interior of the mansion will be decorated by Huff's daughter, Susan, who plans to avoid anything gaudy, if that's possible in a home where the great hall is the size of an airplane hangar with enough room for Huff's granddaughter to invite the entire town over for a playdate.
"We're rather down-to-earth,'' Susan said. "We're not swanky people. We just want a traditional look on the inside.''
Huff seems to have thought of everything, practically building a laboratory for energy efficiency and disaster-proofing while also making a concrete structure look swanky. Anything he missed out on, besides a guestroom for Brad and Angelina?
"If I knew that, I wouldn't have forgotten it,'' Huff said before laughing.
next week...keep on believing.
my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have
told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”